Monday, August 6, 2007

Making the transition from speaking "to" audiences to speaking "with" them

This post was inspired by a post I just read over at Force for Good.

I realize that the focus of this blog has shifted from general public relations thoughts to more about the use of social media in public relations. I can't stress enough the value I see in the traditional public relations practices. I'm not going to sit here and tell the world that we need to stop the traditional PR methods and focus all our efforts on social media. In terms of media relations, social media serves to enhance our efforts with traditional media, not replace print or broadcast media.

Social media, however, goes beyond simply getting our messages out there, it actually engages the publics we are trying to build relationships with. As Jon Harmon writes:

"The role of the corporate communications professional is rapidly changing, responding to the sea changes all around us: the rise of consumer-generated social media, globalization, the incredible personalization of information technology, greater expectations on corporations for transparency and social responsibility, and increasingly inter-connected stakeholder groups including often-adversarial activists."

Harmon goes on to say:

"Corporations need their PR professionals to move beyond helping them communicate to stakeholders (the traditional role of corporate mouthpiece); they need guidance on how to engage in fluid conversations (that means listening as well as talking, respectfully understanding the new rules of engagement)."

I could not agree more. This is why public relations is so important. We need to show management how to communicate with their audiences, rather than to them. Our audiences have a voice and our anxious for us to hear it.

This is something my team at GM has really been focused on. For example, one of top executives, Bob Lutz, took some time last month to sit down in front of a camera and answer some of the questions bloggers have posted in the comments of GM's Fastlane Blog. This is a great example of using social media to speak with our publics. The video is posted in the post above.

Jon Harmon's post is excellent and I highly recommend reading it in its entierety here.

1 comment:

Jonathan Steele of said...

Great post. Anything less is simply waiting for your cat to bark.