PR Niblets

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Word on the “Street”

Now that travel/vacation season is officially over (sniff, sniff) - I thought we’d reminisce about the summer and share all of the great things we experienced and conquered...

Now, I'm not sure if you’re like me, but every time I travel to a new place I can’t help but put my PR hat on. I’ll be at a restaurant or art exhibit that I absolutely LOVE and immediately have the desire to confront the owner to ask about his/her PR efforts and…can I help? It’s truly a disease. Are there any other PR pros out there that, after eating at an amazing, hidden gem of a restaurant or after visiting a sweet boutique resort off the beaten track, want to grab their smartphones or laptops and immediately post to their social networks that “I was here!”?? Or, are you NOT in PR and you’ve done this!? Then, welcome to the wide world of PR, my friends.

Thanks to social networks, everyone can practice PR now! Word of mouth is one of the best forms of marketing and PR that a brand can have. It’s a fact of life – if you like something, you want to talk about it. But as we know, this goes both ways, if you hate something, you are definitely going to tell the world how much you hate it.

Enter your PR agency.

For businesses (both b2b and b2c), PR agencies help to control the flow of the social network super highway by constantly monitoring and thinking about the next steps for a social media program. If one of your customers loves your new café, chances are they want to become the mayor of it on Foursquare and claim themselves as your biggest fan on Facebook. This in turn increases the chances that their friends/family/colleagues will want to try it for themselves. Newspapers and magazines post pass along rates, which are how many people read a publication without having a subscription (think a magazine sitting in a dentist’s office). This same principle applies to the social media buzz rate. If something is buzzworthy, people are going to pass it along. A PR agency can help you handle the buzz and develop a plan that shows your mayor (i.e. your biggest customer) that you appreciate his/her business.

We all have to remember that social media in its simplest form is a promotional vehicle. For my generation, it’s a little bit easier. When my parents take a picture of themselves, they don’t scream, “OMG, this is going on Facebook!” after they review the picture. Younger generations are constantly thinking in terms of “who can I show/tell” and “how can I get noticed” – the core philosophies of advertising and PR.

To prove this point of the generation gap, I have to refer to a story my dad recently told me. My aunt took my mom and dad out to eat at this great little place in Central Jersey with fresh Italian food. The restaurant was practically empty when they went in and boasted half-price appetizers every night. My aunt told my dad, “Now make sure you don’t tell anyone about this place, because if you tell people about a good thing, it might not be a good thing anymore!” I truly disagree with this statement. Wouldn’t a business want more business so that they can keep their good thing going? Groupon has made their whole business off of encouraging people to spread the word about a special or deal. And with all types of social networks and groups (from books to cars to widgets) – the opportunity to promote a growing business is getting easier.

A customer wants to feel like they are special when they visit and promote a particular local business to others and an owner wants to please their local patrons while enticing new customers. With social media, whether you are an enterprise software company or a cinnamon bun bakery, you need to recognize that your customer are your own little PR army! And your PR agency is the General, helping to wrangle the troops!

It’s time to recognize that word of mouth is social media and social media is PR!

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