In 1971, the American scholar Herbert Simon wrote that “a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” Not surprisingly in the age of information overload, we have become dependent on circles of friends, family and colleagues to help us decide what’s worth reading and watching. The Facebook status updates, tweets and blog posts of people whose opinions we trust to determine which content warrants our precious time, and this “social news filtering,” has huge implications for communications professionals. As these content-filtering clans strengthen and grow more intimate, landing a mention for your client on a popular news site or blog may no longer serve as the definition of success for public relations professionals on the Web. Increasingly, savvy clients and bosses are asking that you prove not just that people saw the mention, but that they recommended it to others.
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Have you heard something lately about a down-turned economy? Just a little but, eh? Face it — it’s all around us. And while we’re very optimistic, the first thing that companies look to cut are their public relations and marketing budgets. Scary, right?
But what if you built something that was recession-proof? What if you created a movement of loud and proud fans that not only helped you better yourself in times of growth, but also carried you through hard times as well?
They’re out there, ya know — those fans of your company. Or maybe they are fans of your industry and just don’t know about you yet.
So find them. There are a ton of online tools out there, from the basic, free ones like Google Alerts and Technorati, to the deep-dive conversation mining companies like Umbria, that you can use to find out what people are saying about you and your industry.
Then listen. That’s right. Listen. As professional communicators, we’ve been hard-wired to talk, to push out messages. So as hard as it may be, we need to shut our mouths, resist the urge to tell everyone how great our company is, and listen.
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