Steve Seeman of Makovsky + Company’s Q: What is the biggest lapse or vulnerability that you see regularly on the part of corporations when it comes to the social media?
Chris Abraham’s A: Firstly, corporations don’t show as much respect to bloggers and online communities as they do to reporters and the media. Forget about corporations, the problem starts with the companies that corporations hire: PR, marketing, and advertising firms.
The only PR folks I see in my world — Twitter, Pownce, Facebook, Friendster, MySpace, etc — are the folks from Edelman’s Me2Revolution — Phil Gomes, Steve Rubel, and the gang, crayon LLC, Amanda Chapel, and my firm, Abraham Harrison LLC.
Where are all the kids who say they’re “native” and they know how to communicate online?
“And who are you?” is what many PR and marketing firms bump into at the end of the day.
PR is full of wonks and the Internet is still pretty much a place for geeks.
I like to say that there is a credibility problem. The media, the newspapers, television, business, and everyone else got the memo. A-list bloggers are beginning to get the game now, too, but there are lots of petty jealousies and there are also the B- and C-list, too.
So, when I reach out, I leverage the hell out of my own online reputation and my own blog and my own “popularity” and all it takes is one Google search of my name and it is all over — they know that I am one of them.
I spend a lot of my “admin” budget on grooming my staff. No one on my staff is a blogger; however, I spend lots of time and billable hours so that they can participate as themselves, without filter, on our collaborative blog, Marketing Conversation, http://www.marketingconversation.com
This helps them build their reputation and gain experience.
Another reason why everything is so vulnerable is because the world of Marketing and PR can’t help but be a little dodgy.
I mean, in the course of just the last two years, the time that PR has been “in” the blogosphere, they have done such amazingly messed up shit that now there are loads of organizations requiring people to create codes of ethics, including WOMMA, Ogilvy, and the like.
Only dodgy and corrupt industries need to have codes of ethics.
Also, in my opinion, the industry — advertising, marketing, and PR — has become too ashamed of its profession. Shamelessness, confidence and pride are really attractive things. Online, people can smell fear and, in general, they can also spot a bullshitter.
Transparency is key, full transparency, not merely “technicality.” People don’t play by the rules and people don’t care about the rules. You will have your ass handed to you, and you can’t just say, “We were transparent, technically.” Transparency is like porn, “you know it when you see it”.
I listen to a lot of conservative talk radio and they know what they’re doing. Their model has remained unchanged since the 30s: there is the audience, and the talk show host, and together they are going to have to deal with “them” – the station and the “folks who pay for it all”.
They have fun with it, they all deal with it, and in many ways, the more you flaunt the formal, mandatory, business connection (and the cluelessness of the affair and of the guy in the back office, and the ad salesman, and the lot), the better.
So, what is wrong with what I do? I mean, I do some pretty cool shit, and for that I am not ashamed. And, most of the time, my outreach and engagement is so targeted that I rarely if ever get any blowback.
I do all of my outreach and engagement as me,
So, I think the problem might be as simple as not grokking the culture. The Internet and the blogosphere has its own culture. The medium of the Internet as a “series of tubes” is sort of like saying that
So, back in the 80s, we Americans thought it was a swell idea to do business with the Japanese. Thing is, we could not read the typical Japanese businessman. The Japanese tradition is very gift-based, noble, based on protocol, and in a constant struggle to neither be shamed or to shame anyone else. Much of the conversation is polite and must be read and signifiers must be recognized and responded to tactfully and with all due respect.
Truth be told, this can all be learned. I am learning German now. Attending class just isn’t enough. No matter how much I know about German,
The idea of being a new media maven, new PR professional or new marketing guru is a lot different than actually doing this day in and day out.
(There were more questions, so there will be more answers here, soon…)