There are a number of people who come from the more traditional sales world who haven’t yet grasped the power of social media. You can tell them because they describe this as a waste of people’s time, unnecessary distraction or not real work.

They say – why would I want to know if someone is getting on a plane or going to bed. Agreed. Neither do I. Here is a great view on what to NOT tweet about.

And they have a point. Done in a random way it is very easy to become distracted by an interesting, but irrelevant tweet or blog. That leads you to another and another and suddenly the morning has gone.

However, the world of PR and marketing is being turned on its head by the power of the internet – i.e. social media. The internet is working its way through industries, changing them forever; buying books (Amazon), selling your stuff (eBay), buying and listening to music (iTunes, Spotify). Now newspapers are dying a death.

So the crux of Social Media can be summarised in 61 words (provided by David Meerman Scott who had some help from Randy Kaipaniolo.

You can buy attention (advertising)
You can beg for attention from the media (PR)
You can bug people one at a time to get attention (sales)

Or you can earn attention by creating something interesting and valuable and then publishing it online for free: a YouTube video, a blog, a research report, photos, a Twitter stream, a book or an ebook, a Facebook page.

Earning attention

I’ve known the power of the earning attention. 5 years ago I wrote a book called Common Approach, and have sold or given (mostly given) away 5,000 copies in the UK and 30,000 copies in China. More than anything else, that has built an understanding of how to drive transformation changes in corporations.

I have a investment in a publisher called Smart Questions. The publisher is based on a couple of simple principles:

  • If you give someone a book they can’t throw it away
  • If you are an expert, using the Smart Questions structure, you can write a book in 40 hours (yes really)
  • Print on Demand means a print run of just ONE book is less than £8 / $12

The concept has really struck a chord and companies are writing Smart Questions books and giving them way instead of marketing material.

Spin-off benefit for the planet: The books are kept (and possible read) and then passed onto someone else, but marketing material is trashed almost immediately.
So now we need to add blogging and Twitter into the PR mix. So does it work? Yes, but you need to persevere. Be patient. Earn trust. Give value. 2 tweets, a follow and then direct email DOES NOT WORK. Those of you who have sent me junk email, and I have unfollowed you, you now understand why.

So does Twitter and blogging work?

Dave Stewart, Eurythmics talked about radiators/drains on a national UK Drivetime radio show a few days earlier. They searched on Google and my blog popped up. Voila. The blog is here updating original one. My bit is at 18mins here – includes a couple of non-PC remarks (no surprise there).

So hopefully a Radio4 presenter from a more business-oriented programme will listen and say ’We need to interview him’. If not, no matter – it made my mum proud. However, I’ve been surprised how many people have emailed me to say they heard my slot – either through email or on Twitter.

Another angle

Doug Richard of Dragon’s Den fame told a story about the Entrepreneur’s Manifesto he had written. His PR team did an amazing job and got him an interview with the Financial Times. The journalist was initially dismissive saying there was no story, and finally wrote a couple of lines buried in an article. Doug tweeted about it and with all the retweets it reached over 500,000 people within a couple of days.
The final word

But don’t think that blogs and tweets have replaced all other PR. It is an additional channel, but requires a different technique. So don’t dismiss what you don’t understand.