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PR Directions Wrap Up

November 11, 2011

We were proudly involved in PRIA’s annual conference, PR Directions, as a Gold Sponsor. Aside from the opportunity to display our credentials as providers of online newsrooms, we  had the opportunity to gain an insight into the latest trends in PR by some of the sharpest minds in the business.

The two stand-outs were Social Media Superstar, Brian Solis and former Senior Press Secretary to PM Kevin Rudd, Lachlan Harris.

Brian Solis introduced delegates to the concept of ‘the connected consumer’.

The connected consumer is connected on social networks by interest rather than friends or relatives. They are across all demographics and they are part of ‘the lazy web’. Connected consumers don’t want to search for information, they want it delivered to them. Because they are connected vi interest, they ask their feeds “what movie should I go and see?” and wait for a response.

To get through to the connected consumer, businesses must think about the audience with an audience of an audience. In short, influencers.

PRs wanting to engage in social media but are getting resistance from senior executives need to tie business priorities and objectives to the engagement and demonstrate how it will enable progress. When asked to provide ROI for social media, the “R” is often left unarticulated but it’s vital to define exactly what the desired return is. It may be as simple as monetary return however it may be brand recognition or establishing your expertise.

The “ART” of social media is:

  • Actions
  • Reactions
  • Transactions

A viral video on YouTube is an action, not a reaction or a transaction and an action is the weakest of the three.

In defining the R of ROI define “I want to ____ something”. Get that right and your Action will be focused to the Transaction and the Reaction will sort itself out.

Lachlan Harris’ speech offered his opinion on the changing news cycle. Interestingly the concept of the 24hr news cycle was hardly mentioned, rather the interplay between the news cycle and the opinion cycle.

The news cycle and the opinion cycle are intertwined but different. The opinion cycle is slowly smothering the news cycle like a vine taking over it’s host.

Every year the number of journalists goes down (news) and the amount of commentators (opinion) goes up.

Harris pointed out that opinions are a seductive option for media outlets on a number of fronts.

Opinion is much cheaper to produce than news. Opinion doesn’t require a team of people (with expenses) verifying the facts, it simply needs someone with a voice and it is often provided freely.

Opinions can’t be disproven because they are opinions. Opinions is also driven by debate and argument. If you can find someone with an opinion, you can find someone with an alternate one and this type of argument increases ratings on television and reader interest in publications.

The negative side to this is that it causes a downward spiral in all areas of society, particularly in politics. When policy is driven by opinion, not facts, the only outcome is shallow, populist initiatives that ultimately result in poor outcomes.

Here’s a few of the best blog posts from the conference:


Brian Solis

Panel Discussion – “Pulling a Rabbit out of a Hat – Learning Tricks for Not-For-Profit

Lachlan Harris

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