PR 2.0 B2B Challenges
I spoke to the members of the New Jersey Professional Services Marketing Group (NJPSMG) on Friday, September 18th. It was a packed room with B2B marketing professionals mostly in the accounting, legal and financial industries. My presentation focused on PR 2.0 and helping brands and their marketing and PR professionals learn the proper approach to connecting with clients and other important stakeholders in the social media landscape.
A recurring question throughout the presentation was: How do we get management buy in, for example with lawyers and accounts, and those that think their clients are not participating in the social economy. I believe the answer to the question is “baby steps.” You should take small steps and show some wins before making any PR 2.0 major moves.
Here are few ways to get management to change their perceptions:
- Take the time to listen in web communities for your executives. Seeing is believing, so show your executives what people are talking about, and how there are dynamic conversations going on without them.
- Find the best social media case studies in your industry and show management that their clients are out there talking and asking questions.
- Show management the competitive social media landscape and how competitors are active, taking a position of thought leadership and talking to their potential clients.
- Discuss with management a social media plan to be added to your overall communications plan or handbook. If you do not have one, then this is the perfect time to develop guidelines for your employees. A good social media policy should make management feel more comfortable about PR 2.0 outreach.
- Begin your social media program slowly…it doesn’t always have to start with a blog. You can begin on your website with an RSS feed from company’s newsroom where people can opt in to receive your news.
- Video is a great way to exhibit thought leadership, build credibility and to use in a speakers bureau on your website. You can showcase your executives who are experts on various topics and even make it easier for program coordinators to evaluate them for industry conferences and seminars.
- Podcasts are also an easy and cost effective means to showcase expertise and they are simple to download for clients and prospects and other stakeholders who want to learn more about your firm, or important industry trends or challenges in the market.
- If management is hesitant to build an external community on a social network, such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, you can suggest building an internal community, whether it’s your own company blog or social computing site. Get the employees of the company to embrace social media and to become PR 2.0 champions. You can teach them that open communication leads to long term value. You can also show management that employee participation can result in company wins including the development of cross functional teams, idea sharing, business development and more productivity within your own firm.
After my presentation, I spoke with a couple of marketing professionals from NJPSMG who said that the firms they work with feel their clients are small businesses whose audiences are older and not participating in web communities. This is a challenging situation. Although this may be the case today, we discussed that eventually those businesses will want to attract new client prospects and even new talent for their own companies, who may be more connected in the social economy. The best time to start attracting these individuals and capturing community is now. Otherwise, when those firms finally do step into the social media landscape their competitors will already be building the relationships with the people that they want to connect with.
Bottom line: PR 2.0 is now and can impact the long term growth and development of your business.
Ann Marie van den Hurk, APR
September 21, 2009 @ 9:39 pm
Baby steps. That’s key. There is a lot of fear about the new and unknown in the workplace… regardless if it is social media or new accounting software.
I totally agree with the internal community as one of the starting points. That will provide value to the employees and get them comfortable with the concept. It also will give SM-minded folks opportunity to share their knowledge with the non-SM-minded folks building a bond… everything can be an informal teaching moment.
Starting slow and small with manageable goals then building on successes showing them off a long the way will build understanding and acceptance.
September 21, 2009 @ 11:54 pm
Hi Amanda, I couldn’t agree more. And, I really think what you said about manageable goals is so important!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂
September 22, 2009 @ 12:05 am
Most employees embrace social media; however, most employers think that social media is a time waster.
September 22, 2009 @ 1:42 am
Hi Emma, that’s a really good point. It’s especially tough when articles come out that say Twitter, Facebook and other social networks lead to a loss of productivity during the work day. However, when it comes to internal social networking platforms, I’ve seen many great examples of how employees are getting more work done on teams, collaborating on events, cutting back on overall company email correspondence and showing greater productivity. Thanks for commenting!
September 22, 2009 @ 12:22 pm
PR 2.0 tips voor juristen en accountants: http://tinyurl.com/lryh5o
September 22, 2009 @ 9:57 pm
Interesting, and I wonder what they mean by “older” Do they really know what age group is using Twitter and Facebook? So many “out of the know” think these platforms are for the teenagers, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Thanks for the very insightful piece.
September 23, 2009 @ 12:02 am
Hi Deborah, thanks for commenting. I got the feeling that “older” meant at the late stages of their careers. But, I do want to point out that all demographics are social networking, especially on Facebook. I’m proud to say that my mom who is 74 is active on FB (not for business though..only family/personal). These platforms definitely are not for teenagers, as a matter of fact teenagers and college students will openly admit that they do not want to be on Facebook and Twitter because “older” groups are participating in these networks. They’re looking for the next best social platforms 🙂
October 12, 2009 @ 10:23 pm
These are all great examples of how to start. Speaking from experience, I would also suggest you get an ally. For me it was InfoSec. Once I had their approval that it was safe I could be trusted to understand the risks, it was easier for me to get buy-in from legal and the executive team. We started with Facebook in September 2007 and have since moved on to add Twitter (@CMEGroup), LinkedIn (we have four private groups), Friendfeed, Digg, Delicious and Newsvine. What really matters is that you find where your audience is located. Don’t just do social media to do it. And finally, there’s nothing wrong with just hanging out to listen and report back on the conversation.
October 12, 2009 @ 10:58 pm
Allan, thanks for your excellent insight! I agree that you shouldn’t do social media just to do it. That’s why so many companies are out there on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn with a plan or a policy. Really good advice 🙂