ComPRehension

Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
October 25, 2010

“Groundswell” of Support for Charlene Li


I noticed that Charlene Li’s was the most cited name by PRSA attendees in the Tweet Cloud just after “PR” and “Social.” Clearly she made an impression.

“Create your social networks internally first,” said Li at the closing keynote. “Find your voice.”

Charlene Li has always been a “good get” in public relations circles. Forrester is perhaps the best industry analyst firm, and Li, Josh Bernoff and Jeremiah Owyang once comprised a triumvirate of analysts you wanted to “get” for a client or your company. Now she and Owyang have started Altimeter Group on their own.

She is the author, with Bernoff, of the quintessential book, “Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies.

PR practitioners learning how to create a groundswell of support in the social media or blogosphere was still pretty new when the book came out. Now, Li has written “Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform How You Lead,” a new model for transparency and openness in our world. All of this comes with some risk to the profession. It’s hard for older PR people like me to be entirely “open.”

I noticed that Charlene Li’s was the most cited name by PRSA attendees in the Tweet Cloud just after “PR” and “Social.” Clearly she made an impression.

“Create your social networks internally first,” said Li at the closing keynote. “Find your voice.”

Li talked about breaking down silos within an organization. She cited Mark Benioff of salesforce.com who will actually compensate people for sharing institutional knowledge with others.

We all know about listening to the social media followers and our audience. Li takes it one step further, to integrating comments from your following, either plus or minus, and asking people what they want on the blogs or in your Twitter feed. “Transformation” for PR is “becoming imbued with what your customer wants!”

Li also advised PR people to “triage” the comments and have a process map for how to respond. “Don’t be ad hoc, create a map” to define what your audience wants based on their expressed needs.

Most important for me was the advice, “You cannot be risk averse,” put incentives in place within the company or for the client to get more people involved in responding. “Seek more participation” from people if more than half the questions are going unanswered. Scary — it is all about letting go!

Mike Smith, executive vice president, Gibraltar Associates, LLC, has worked for three of the top ten PR firms including Burson-Marsteller, Edelman PR Worldwide and Euro RSCG. He takes a strong lead in client management, media relations and new business initiatives. Mike also served as public affairs director of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).  Follow Mike Smith Public Affairs on Twitter at @smittyPA.

For more coverage on the PRSA 2010 International Conference: Powering PRogress, visit PRSA Intelligence, follow #prsa_ic and the Conference blog.

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