The other day, Sarah Evans shared an email exchange with her readers as a means to illustrate why companies might want to consider hiring a social media consultant. As she pointed out, these people can help companies develop a smart strategy, manageable work flow processes, guidelines and an online “voice.”
I’d like to add another reason to this list: To offer counsel and assistance navigating the ever-changing world of communication. So, not only the upfront strategy, but the ongoing assistance and advice. To illustrate my point, let me share two quick examples.
What’s This Mean for Us?
PR and social media consultants can be a resource to answer the “Uh, what’s this mean and what do we do now?” question. If a crisis situation develops, a consultant can offer guidance and help you take the necessary steps to mitigate the damage. Or, the consultant can explain how changes online impact your social media initiatives. For example, Facebook changes always seem to confuse companies. And, the new Connections make it even more complicated. What happens when employees link the “Work” section of their profiles to the newly created Community Pages? This came to my attention when I noticed some former colleagues of mine were connected to what appeared to be a fan page for the agency. When I clicked on the link to check it out, I was taken to one of these Facebook-generated community pages. What did I see? Status updates from the VP of PR’s wife (whose maiden name + married name = the company name) … and an invitation to enter a URL. Now, I’m a nice person, so I entered the correct URL. But, what if I was a disgruntled ex-employee? Imagine the potential havoc that one could wreak by entering incorrect URLs. A social media consultant could help a company understand why this information is showing up on the community pages.
Facebook is creating “connection” pages on your behalf. It’s a bit unclear how these pages will be used, but bottom line, you need to know where your brand is popping up and what steps to take to protect it. So, if you’re reading this post and you haven’t checked Facebook to see if there’s a community page for your company, go do a search right now. See what’s being displayed, and at minimum enter the correct web address.
The Editorial Calendar Evolution
One more example: When I first started my PR career a decade ago, pitching magazines was often synonymous with checking ed cals and finding a topic that matched the client’s angle/news/story. Clearly, news has changed a lot in the past decade. Some magazines still live and die by the editorial calendar. But, that’s not an “across the board” rule. For example, I emailed a magazine contact the other day to find out who would be working on an upcoming article (as identified on the pub’s ed cal). The reporter’s response?
I don’t know what specific topics are on the edit calendar. I do know they’re often changed or ignored completely. So feel free to send along a pitch but I’m not yet sure what we’re supposed to be writing on then.
That’s actually better for my client. I can develop a stronger pitch, instead of crafting something to fit a topic on a calendar. But, if my client didn’t have a PR person doing this legwork, would they have a) bothered checked the ed cal? b) known to ignore the calendar?
The point is this: In addition to helping craft storylines and pitches designed to pique a reporter’s attention, a PR person can provide helpful insights along the way to increase a company’s odds of securing media coverage.