Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
November 23, 2009

Maximizing Social Media Strategies to Your Organization’s Benefit

This session Maximizing Social Media Strategies to Your Organization’s Benefit was also a part of the PRSA 2009 International Conference’s military focus. Once again, I must give a thumbs-up to PRSA for adding these specialized sessions. Not only is this area near and dear to my heart, but if the federal government and military can implement social media strategies in such a regulated environment, this should serve as inspiration for any organization, big or small, to get into the interactive space.

Jack Holt, chief of Emerging Media at the Department of Defense, Defense Media Activity, challenged the audience to reframe their thinking and not be afraid of social media. Strategic communications has always been about planning and relationships. Social media is not any different. Holt painted the picture of social media strategy analogous to the process of making a movie. Before a movie is made, the studio wants a realistic picture of what the movie will produce in revenue and buzz. The effort is justified through backwards planning. This same planning and forethought should be applied to social media strategy and objectives.

Holt quoted the Cherokee proverb, “If you listen to the whispers, you won’t hear the screams,” and stressed that listening to your community is key. The Emerging Media Directorate knew loud and clear their messages were not being received. The challenge they faced was how to get published when the story didn’t rise to the level of news. Similar to what other presenters in the military sessions voiced, they decided to do something different and reach a worldwide audience with a neighborhood connection. The team untethered their information, gave snack-sized media to the people and began incorporating real faces and stories into their communications. Much of today’s emerging media coverage is “circular,” meaning it is distributed through many social media outposts.

Lt. Jennifer Cragg outlined examples of their social media communications including DoD Live, Bloggers Roundtable and the Armed with Science project. Check out this Pentagon Channel show, “FNG,” with a segment listing the “Top 10 Stupid Things Done in Social Media.” The entire audience got a chuckle out of this segment (begins 19:54)!

Keep a pulse on how the Emerging Media Directorate continues to address the Department of Defense’s need to communicate in an evolving global interactive space. All of us can learn a lesson or two from these social media pioneers.

Lauren Vargas, community manager, at Radian6

By Lauren Vargas is a community manager at Radian6, based in Boston, Mass. She is a well-known public relations blogger and speaker who specializes in integrating social media tools into communications/marketing and business strategy. Vargas is a multi-faceted communications professional with experience in internal and external corporate communications, governmental affairs and community relations. Connect with Lauren on LinkedIn and Twitter.

For coverage of the PRSA 2009 International Conference: Delivering Value, visit our Conference blog or follow the conversation on Twitter at hashtag #prsa09.

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