ComPRehension

Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
January 20, 2009

Where’s the Party?


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.

Join the conversation. We always say, “Don’t throw a party and expect everyone to show up. Instead, go to where the party is happening.” There are SO many online parties happening right now — Facebook, Twitter, blogs, messageboards. The best strategy begins with being completely, 100 percent transparent about who you are and what you’re trying to do, getting to know the PERSON first, and then engaging them in a one-to-one conversation. All great movements start small and have inspirational leadership. And movements start with the first, open, transparent conversation.

In closing, let’s not forget that it’s been reported that 92 percent of word-of-mouth recommendations happen OFFline. So as great as all these online tools are, we still need to think about how this applies in our offline lives. What is natural? What are the tools people can use when they are face to face?

They’re not always easy questions to answer, but when you start by reframing the conversation and asking, “How can we, as a brand, fit into people’s lives in an authentic way?” instead of the other way around (“How can our customers fit into our brand?”), then you start looking at the world in a completely different way. It’s not about campaigns any more, which have to constantly be fed with time and money; it’s about movements that are fueled by the passions of your biggest fans.

By Spike Jones, firestarter, Brains on Fire, began his career as a copywriter, crafting compelling stories for clients ranging from BMW Manufacturing to Dagger Kayaks. His purpose now is to embrace the kindred spirits that approach Brains on Fire looking for identity and word-of-mouth help. In addition, his responsibilities include creative and strategic input in building remarkable experiences that marry a company’s identity with word-of-mouth tools and techniques.

Join Spike for his co-presentations with Geno Church titled, How Sustainable Word-of-Mouth (WOM) Marketing Can Help Boost Your Bottom Line: Strategies on How to Identify Buzz Building Opportunities for Your Brand and I <3 (Heart) Your Brand: How to Build Your Brand Identity Around Your Fans.

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