I’ve spent years discussing the many change in Public Relations as a result of Web 2.0 and social media communications. I join my peers in tackling the challenges and embracing the benefits of these changes. As we teach our brands how to adapt, adjust and take advantage of a new approach and tools, we help them to find transparency, a human side, and the ability to reach their customers and other stakeholders with a customized story in a more meaningful manner. The result: they experience direct conversations and build better relationships.
However, one of the most important transformations is not only a game changer for our profession, but also deserves our attention as we mentor younger PR professionals; it’s the morphing role of the PR person from facilitator/liaison and handler to the influencer or PR 2.0 Champion. Like many, I started my career as a good liaison. I was focused on making connection for others and was praised by senior level executives at several firms for my ability to connect and build relationships with the media, analysts and various community groups. However, I learned over the years that the road to becoming a PR 2.0 Champion required action within my organization and a different approach:
- Act on your own, don’t wait to be assigned tasks
- Monitor related web community discussion outside of work and on your own time to demonstrate the pervasive and prominence of dialog that’s related to your organization
- Make listening and being a Research Librarian one of your critical functions
- Start listening and observing and then communicating in your own web communities as a peer (take your marketing/PR hat off).
These very simple steps are the beginning of the champion process within your organization. Next, you have to learn how to successfully work your way up Forrester’s Technographics Ladder.
From the Inactive (which no PR person should be classified at this point) all the way up to the Creator, the person who blogs and creates content, the movement upward defines the true PR 2.0 Champion. For me, the Champion is a content producer, an educator, and an individual who actively engages and helps the community (whether it’s personally or professionally). It’s an entirely different role. As a Champion you are still looking to make those connections but it’s not through finding, pitching and then facilitating a relationship for someone else. Instead, it’s through listening and participating by offering helpful resources that make you stand out as a reliable source and credible authority within your community.
The journey to PR 2.0 Champion could be a short one or it may take years for you to accomplish. However, I truly believe it’s up to you. At almost every conference, I find myself saying that the road to becoming a Champion depends on a few factors:
- Your flexibility and adaptation to change
- Your commitment to 2.0 education and putting in the hours and the effort it takes
- Your ability to learn and experiment with new technology (always be 10 steps ahead of your brands and your management team)
So, ask yourself a few questions: (1) Are you on the road to becoming a champion? Are you working your way up the Technographics Ladder? And (3) are you the person in your firm who is becoming a PR 2.0 Champion for your brand?
Climb the ladder by staying focused and flexible, and commit yourself to social media education and understanding all of the changes around you. The difference between being a liaison and becoming a PR 2.0 Champion lies within you!