Social Networks, Marketing and PR

Chris Brogan asked a question on his blog -Is social media built more for PR types? Is the value there much easier to define than the value for marketers? It generated a lot of comments, mostly in the “PR is part of marketing” vein.

For me, social media, including twitter, utterz, my blog, facebook- all of these tools are, like Chris wrote, a virtual pub, but they are also about building relationships- a mashup of personal brand and PR. These are places to exchange ideas, say hi to friends- but my “work” is outside these venues.  While I have to be careful not to get sucked into the twitter stream daily, I do find it a great place to visit and keep up with friends- I just can’t spend all day there and still get things done.

Social media helps me maintain and extend personal relationships with people who don’t live in my neighborhood or town, extending my ‘pub’ to an international reach, divorced from time/space constraints.  I “use” the networks to keep people updated with what I’m doing, to get social support, to talk about things that matter to me, but it’s not really about self-promotion or PR at it’s heart- it’s about connectedness and helping others.

Marketing and PR are no longer separate in the age of new media- it’s a mashup, a plate of spaghetti where the strands twist and turn, forming a unified whole, but separation of the two is often besides the point.

The naked pitch is no longer as important as letting people decide for themselves whether your product is any good.  This is why infomercials and demos at “trade” shows work-people can see what your product does, and decide for themselves whether it’s worth their money on the spot.

The age of believing whatever Madison Avenue recommends is largely over.  The population is more educated and more cautious, less likely to  buy into the hype alone.  The question then becomes how we retrain a whole industry who believes a properly phrased sentence or pitch will move product, into one where honesty and value are most important.  It’s going to be a long, bumpy road, but I’ll tell you this- I’ll take the advice of my friends over an ad any day.

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