Social media’s newsworthiness: trend or paradigm?

Adam Singer from TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog makes a case for social media in PR strategy.An interesting idea he presents:

PR has changed – pull is now more effective
Pull PR is superior to push, there is no escaping this. A (not so) secret part of media is this: media report on media. It’s so simple, yet so overlooked. By becoming media you embrace a pull strategy naturally and will attract attention from all other types of media – both professional and amateur.

And I believe it.  Just as Zara gets burn from its just-in-time business model, organizations are currently seeing earned media results from social media innovations. But, the contrarian in me how to wonder: is this stractical or  simply novelty? That is to say, if social media is a trendy topic in mass or otherwise credible media right now, what happens when it becomes old news? Is this argument for social media right or right now?

Ad Age: Social media marketing supplanting traditional media relations

And the earth’s temperature is heating up.

While the dismantling of traditional media both financially and by audience/credibility has been gaining steam for years, this past year’s economic meltdown has only exacerbated the derailment. Clients are pursuing more direct lines to consumers through micro-targeted ads, Youtube channels, Twitter accounts and tactics of the like while PRtists continue to race the rest of the marketing world to plant their flag on social media mastery.

But, Michael Bush at Ad Age misses the point when he jumps from the sorry state of earned media pitching to the blossoming social media marketing scene: earning credible media is still a vital and often omnipotent strategy to achieve one’s communications goals. The slow strangulation of traditional mass media outlets is most definitely bruising to experts in negotiating earned media but that doesn’t necessarily mean former media relations mavens have thrown their eggs into a basket of Tweets.

Online media is evolving in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways.  Both niche and mass audience vehicles are establishing themselves as credible, editorial-based outlets that audiences are galvanizing around leading to trust. Skilled PRtists are recognizing these new media places, developing relationships with their writers and editors and negotiating access, products, and news stories to them in a meaningful way for their clients or organizations.

Maybe Team PR will win the race to thought leadership and supremacy over social media marketing. Maybe they’ll realize its not the only game in town.

But be on notice: Public relations in a wired (wireless?) world doesn’t mean giving up one ghost for another. Earning media is not a thing of the past. What’s that they say about evolution not revolution?

Lesson #1 for Social Media Marketing: Don’t be the dupe

I just read Ryan McNutt’s blog (New Media Officer for Dalhousie University) with a post about misleading Facebook groups; ones set up by marketing companies to capitalize on the “Class of 20XX” propensity for students to connect and discuss their upcoming university adventure.

Read it.

Lessons to be learned? First of all, protect your brand. That means sometimes you have to call in the lawyers — and when other parties are pretending to be you, it’s most likely lawyer time. And for the more insidious of marketing companies, always remember that brand authenticity toes a razor-thin line.  Social media vehicles offer unprecedented access, but also wing-melting proximity to screw it up. As Stractical has said before and will say again, the hallows of public relations lie in locating credibility. When you play the dupe, you desecrate your audience’s trust.

Student faces expulsion for Facebook study group

Interesting and troubling story coming out of Ryerson University about an engineering student who is being threatened with expulsion for administering a Facebook group that included some quiz answer sharing. I’m not going to deride the university for refusing to comment on an ongoing investigation or even praise the student’s representatives for going on the offensive, but we just can’t talk about social media and digital communities without emphasizing that we’re still figuring this whole space out.

Facebook

NBA Slam Dunks With Social Media

At summer camp we used to call the thrice-a-season dances, “socials.” As kids, we’d frantically search for a clean shirt as we poured mountains of gel in our hair while we mentally practiced the line dance for “Cotton Eyed Joe.”

The topic of social media, previously discussed in this space, is a lot like my socials of yesteryear. There’s a lot of hype, a lot of talk, a lot of posturing about how we can best capitalize on its potential, but when it comes to execution, we’re all still standing against the wall afraid to make eye contact with the objects of our desire.

Jamario Moon

But, then again, sometimes we get it right. Take the NBA. Since the dawn of Youtube (what was that, three years ago now?) the highlight reel mixtape has been a staple of viral videos. A two minute slice reel of dunks and blocks for just about anyone who’s ever suited up exists because of tireless fan dedication and a little Final Cut Pro know how. Recognizing this, the NBA has now fully embraced Youtube, hosting their own channel with game highlights and semi-produced virals.

For this past weekend’s All Star game in New Orleans, the NBA produced virals for some of the Slam Dunk competitors to promote text message voting, including the Toronto Raptors’ Jamario Moon. That video, alluding to a behind the free throw line slamma jamma has all the essential ingredients for a great Youtube clip: it’s short, it looks homemade and it has that “I gotta see that again!” punch that turns a video into viral.

Augmenting the official NBA clips is an influx of player-produced videos like this one made by Chris Bosh. Bosh, in an effort to persuade fans to vote him onto the Eastern Conference All Star team, used Youtube to display his lighter side. And to his success, over 500,000 looked at his “Bubba” clip and Bosh ended up starting the All Star game in place of injured Kevin Garnett.

So, I’m awarding 10 Stractical points to the NBA for both developing a meaningful social media strategy and for creating an environment where players want to independently contribute to the online conversation. Stractical loves this game.