Before heading over to New York, I was fortunate enough to record a discussion with my friend and mentor Des Walsh about his new social media course – Get the Edge.
As a social media strategist and LinkedIn expert, I always find it incredibly thought-provoking chatting to Des, and was delighted that he was able to join me to explain a little bit more about this course aimed at professional services, and the current wider influences in human communication and social media that influenced in.
What we planned as a 10-minute chat turned into a half-hour discussion (in three parts below), during which Des and I cover a range of topics, including:
- The lost tribes of social media
- Social business
- Email vs social media
- Fear, business and the loss of control in the social space
- Social policies and parameters
- Agencies and social media departments
- Language and social media
-Reputation vs popularity
Thanks to Des for taking the time to share his thoughts and experience. I hope you find the discussion of interest, and look forward to seeing Get the Edge launch this month.
In the meantime, you can swing by Des’ blog to enjoy some of his great content covering not only LinkedIn, but social media and communication for business.
Get the Edge (Part 1) - apologies for the audio-visual sync issue
In the post, Michael discusses the bridge between the business of business and the business of PR, and the opportunity each communicator has to help bridge that gap.
That is, to learn and understand the business of your clients or organisation, and employ communication to improve and positively impact that business.
As Michael Writes:
“When I worked at large agencies, it was required that my team knew what my clients did, made, sold, et.al., and I pushed for them to learn as much about how things were done/made/sold. Today, my team knows as much about the client’s operations as they do about its marketing function.
Why? Because the more we know about how a client operates, the more of an opportunity there is for us to create better programming.”
Having started my career as the sole (in-house) communicator (excluding the Marketing Manager and Coordinator) in a national media organisation, Michael’s words resonated with me greatly, and got me thinking about my own time learning the ropes and business of my employer.
It certainly was a steep learning curve – but one I consider myself pretty fortunate to have had.
So, adding to Michael’s post, here are a few of my own tips for getting to know the business of PR for your clients or company. While these come from my own experience on the client side, I hope that all can be adapted and utilised to help pros on the agency side also.
Connect in person
Obviously this one is easier if you work in-house – but the same applies for agency. When you are working across and with multiple business units to communicate both internally and externally, there is no substitute for face time. Make the effort to initiate contact and introductions with people across the business. Letting them know who you are what you do (or will be doing) will go a long way towards establishing strong ties, relationships and channels of information within the business.
Sit in on meetings
This is a great way to further develop relationships with heads of business units, and to get to know those individuals that drive and work within these departments. During the course of your time working with the organisation you may find yourself regularly working with these individuals. Understanding their projects, timelines and day-to-day business will only help build your knowledge of the organisation and allow you to proactively forward-plan.
Organise one-on-one meetings with business heads
Okay, so this one might be a little bit harder to coordinate. These individuals are usually super busy and pressed for time. However, they’re in a senior position because of their knowledge and business acumen, and one-on-one time to learn about them and their team is invaluable. Many of the meetings I had with business heads were over a coffee – giving each of us the time to ask questions and learn more about one another. Looking back, I have no doubt these advanced my knowledge of the business, its people and the wider industry ten times over.
This follows on from the last point, but at no point should you shy away from asking questions. Building your knowledge and understanding of the business will assist in establishing your own intellectual capital around the company and drive results for you and the organisation.
Read up on trade and industry news
This was brought up by Michael in his post, and I couldn’t agree more with him on this point. Whatever niche or sector of business your client or company is in, take the time to read up on news and any trade or B2B media in that area. Reading trade content was a daily routine throughout my time at the organisation – and I can’t tell you how much it helped in planning, reviewing and executing communication for the business.
Remember – you may be the expert in the business of PR and communication, but it’s others that are experts in the business of their business – so take the time and be proactive in seeking feedback from these experienced and knowledgeable heads. This doesn’t have to wait until the quarterly performance review – each and every piece of communication is an opportunity to learn, grow and improve.
So, there you have it – a few of my tips to help you get to know the business of PR based on my own time as an in-house communicator.
What strategies have you employed to get to know the business of PR? Do you have any tips to share with fellow communicators? If you’re in the agency space, how do you adapt to learning the business of PR for multiple clients?
I’d love to hear about your experiences and thoughts.
If you haven’t, it’s a real laugh, and worth taking a brief moment to watch.
While I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a great promo for SMW, it has stayed with me for the past few weeks and given me plenty of food for thought regarding the current state of the communication industry and profession.
What do the future hipsters have to teach us communicators?
1. Things are changing – fast!
New job titles and descriptions are emerging for communicators, presenting us with the opportunity to lay the foundation for future roles and best practice.
2. Now is not the time to run scared
It’s those that can jump in head-first and hands-on that will lay the foundation for future communicators. Embrace the fact that media, human communication, relationships and business are changing. From a personal and professional perspective, it’s time to stand out as an individual and be yourself. Your difference is your strength – not weakness. The always insightful Kirk Hazlett explains this further in his excellent post. Oh, and Seth Godin even wrote a whole book about it recently (read my review here).
3. Show the joy in your work
If you love what you do (which I certainly hope you do!), then make sure you show it. Yes, work can be stressful, and tiring – but if you love what you do, it should also be a heck of a lot of fun, and a place to learn and grow. Enjoy every minute, and be sure to show it in your work.
4. Share wisely
This has been a pretty constant point of discussion and debate in recent years, but regardless of where you stand on the issue, there are some things that aren’t appropriate to share. An image of you being passed-out at a dubstep show (as cited in the video) is one of those things.
That said, you also need to be yourself – a delicate balancing act of sharing appropriate content that is representative of you as a person and brand, and of value to those with whom you are connected.
5. Show them what you do
It’s interesting that the community manager in the video clip mentioned that nobody had a clue what she did. It’s a bit ironic, because although the day-to-day tasks of communicators may be constantly shifting and changing, new and improved tools mean that now, more than ever, you can analyse, measure and report back on the results and value of your work measured against the objectives of the organisation.
In short, prove results and show them what you do.
For more on analytics and measurement, I recommend heading over and subscribing to Chris Penn’s blog, and reading the work of Shonali Burke at Waxing UnLyrical (disclaimer: I also write for and contribute posts to Waxing Unlyrical). In addition to her business and blog, Shonali also runs a regular #measurePR session on Twitter where you can learn more.
As another aside for those in PR, you’d be interested to read that the PRSA last week released its new, crowd-sourced definition of PR. Just another indicator that more and more effort is being put into demonstrating what we do as communicators.
So, while you may have a good chuckle at this video, the truth is that new media, technology and business developments are changing human connection and relationships. While at times it may seem overwhelming for communicators, this moment in time presents great opportunity for all of us.
Things will only move faster – so let’s grasp this moment and enjoy every minute – because before you know it, the future will be here, and we’ll be those hipsters!