Confess it, you have thought about rewriting a news item in your own head. Especially when you've had an experience with a company's service or a product that didn't quite live up to the story you're now reading in the newspaper or trade magazine.
Today, you don't even need to have a blog to be a publisher.
With tools such as Posterous and Tumblr, or if you have a Facebook page, you can easily post content and socialize it, or take a series of small bites on Twitter. Good for you, good for everyone.
How do you apply communication in a world where everyone can be media?It could happen to your business
Rich Becker provides an example of what happens when complaints are news. I don't know about you, I'm still marveling at the response a business owner wrote to a customer. Small business owners tend to work many roles, from sales, to administrative duties, to marketing and communications.
While we could all agree that publics can be a bit of a challenge, it is never a good idea to act on impulse when communicating in digital media. It may feel good to write what you think, and it will hurt you long term. What is valid for college grads and young employees is valid for seasoned business owners.
Indeed, loss of business is much less public -- people prefer to avoid confrontation. Who counsels you on matters of public communication?
PR doesn't equal press release
The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) posted a definition of public relations that can help you navigate how the profession has shifted from providing publicity to building relationships. It is still prevalent thinking that PR = press releases and media relations.
Why is it that most business owners and organization executives still insist on focusing precisely on those two? Probably this is due to two ideas: 1) that the company message needs to be pushed out; 2) that media is the only viable third party endorsement.
Yet, this strategy still largely depends on other people doing your bidding based upon one document and repeated, sometimes annoying, insistence as to its relevance for all. A document that, after dozens of reviews, may also have lost the focus on what it wanted to convey.Become a platform
Today you have the tools to become not just a regular commentator on a particular topic. Appealing to search traffic in the process. You have the opportunity to become the filter and educator on an issue that is pressing for you and your industry.
Often financial services firms ask me how they can blog or participate in new media with all the regulatory issue they face. How about starting a specific education channel for customers? Pick one specialty, and become the go to aggregator and commentator on that topic.
Organizations continue to be stuck on their products and services -- and miss on the opportunity to change the information game.
Examples of everyone is media
Fred Wilson, a venture capital (VC) professional who took to blogging, has become a popular and well read commentator on all things related to technology and VCs. In the process, he discovered that his readers found it beneficial to learn more about all things related to running a business. So he started a series of MBA Mondays.
In the face of the financial meltdown, both mainstream media and financial services firms did a fine job at talking to us as if we knew what they know. Alas, we haven't developed an app to read minds, yet. A simple site aggregating background, key facts and salient useful information would have been helpful.
Matt Thompson built such a context in the money meltdown. He did something similar to convey information about the US health system reform -- probably the best explanation for the site's intended purpose comes in the form of a response to a letter to the editor.
When Drew Olanoff discovered he had cancer, he didn't sit idle. Instead he built a platform to help those who went through the same experience tell their story and receive help. The Blame Drew's Cancer hashtag was a stroke of genius -- you get to vent about something and when you use that tag, a donation could be made to LIVESTRONG.
From the site: when Drew beats Cancer they hope to have sponsors that will donate a dollar for every participant to partner LIVESTRONG. Geoff Livingston raised funds for @LiveStrong cancer research recently. In the post, he provides some lessons learned you can use to design a donation campaign for your nonprofit.
There is still tremendous untapped potential for organizations to become publishers, curators, and platforms for useful information and resources pertaining to their industry and business. Why wait to have an issue to anticipate, analyze and interpret public opinion, for example?
Think of the potential to conduct and evaluate programs of action and communication to achieve the informed public understanding necessary to the success of your organization’s purpose. Today you can do that on an ongoing basis.
Research a niche, find a need, go for it -- or find someone who has, and sponsor them.
© 2010 Valeria Maltoni. All rights reserved.