The PR 2.0 Rock Star (aka Champion)

I read a really good article in O’Dwyers PR Report, the March 2009 Food, Beverage & Nutrition PR Issue.  The article written by Danielle Pagano, “Celebrity food: turning chefs into rock stars” discussed how in PR, having a good solid product sometimes isn’t enough.  There’s a tremendous opportunity, especially today with PR 2.0 and social media communications to make a real personal connection with people.  The article provides a recipe for turning a chef into a rock star in a 4-step process:  the look, the philosophy, the trend and the show.

I thought it would be interesting to take this 4-step process and apply it to another type of Rock Star.  You guessed it, the PR 2.0 Champion (that’s you).  Brian and I discussed the PR Champion’s role quite a bit in our book, Putting the Public Back in Public Relations.  In order to truly connect and engage with like-minded people in web communities and to be fully recognized as a valuable resource, someone that is not just some “PR guy” but “THE PR guy that you need to meet,” here’s what you need to consider:

The Look

Is there a way that people can identify with you?  Perhaps it’s your sheik style.  Or maybe it’s a certain way that you pose for your Twitter avatar and/or your Facebook profile pictures.  Look at Peter Shankman (@skydiver) on Twitter.  His skydiver avatar is so fitting with his personality.  He’s fun, a risk taker and his personality says “on the go!”  And, then, there’s Brian Solis (@briansolis). I don’t think I’ve ever seen a typical executive headshot of Brian.  He’s got some pretty cool pictures in his photo stream, very unique, at different angles; his pictures really show a lot of his personality and make him extremely sociable. For me, I would hope that my “look” is my smile and hopefully the friendliness and approachability that says to people, “Yes, I want to talk to you!”

In the article, Pagano stated that a chef has to find his or her own “thing.”  Well, the same goes for the PR 2.0 Champion.  Whatever that look or “thing” is, you have to be recognized for it, so that out of all the thousands of people in communities across the web or even in the traditional setting, you are spotted immediately in a room or in a crowded social media landscape.

The Philosophy

PR Champions need a philosophy to define them.  It’s what you believe in and stand for as a professional.  Your philosophy is your own type of movement that you’ve been initiating and carrying the flag forward from the start of your career.  It should be a passion that you want to share with all of your social networking friends and every constituent in your personal ecosystem.  There are really no guidelines to your philosophy, it can be extremely comprehensive or as simple as you like.

For me, my philosophy has always been that it starts with me and ends with me!  In PR, if you don’t experience it yourself then how can you teach someone else about what you do or how to take a best practices approach.  One of the greatest quotes on learning and change comes from Aldous Huxley, who was an English writer and author of The Brave New World.  He was considered in many academic circles as a leader of modern thought and an intellectual of the highest rank. Huxley said, “There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”  I truly believe that with all of the uncontrollable changes in our world, the only place we can manage the best change is in our own universe.

The Trend

PR Champions have an opportunity to start a new trend in their organizations.  They can lead the PR 2.0 revolution.  As a Champion you can help your brand to understand that social media requires PR professionals to take on different roles.  As socialized media becomes increasing important to organizations as a means to communicate directly with their stakeholders, PR champions will have increased roles and responsibilities including:

  • Social Media expert
  • Market analyst/expert
  • Web marketer
  • Customer service representative
  • Relationship marketer
  • Viral marketer
  • Conversationalist/listener

You can also show your leadership team (long before they point it out to you) that you are a new type of librarian and/or research specialist.  They need to know that as a part of this new function you’re ready to interact with the company’s social media manager or community manager to bring information to different silos within your organization (sales, marcom, R&D, product development, etc.)  It’s important for a Champion to lead the trend for the company, so information flows properly to create better products and services for your customers.

The Show

The Show is your opportunity to show off what you know.  Blog about the changes in PR!  As a champion, you need to inform and help people.  Incorporate video and podcasts into your own arsenal of communications. People who follow you will see your human, transparent side and connect to your personality.  They will learn from your wisdom and enthusiasm and recommend you to their network.  Being a champion means taking the extra time to connect with people in social networking communities. You should be helping your peers by answering their questions and even critiquing their work, if they ask for feedback.  I just recently helped a friend that I met on Facebook with a PR 2.0 communications project.  The payoff was his “thank you” and appreciation.

The show is not about you – yet it should be the best performance of your life.  And, as a true Champion performing selflessly for others, you’ll get a standing ovation!

So, tell me, how would you apply the 4-step process to make you a Rock Star aka PR Champion?