Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Why Won't They Listen To You?

Last night. A gathering of PR practitioners seeking to understand how social media impacted their business. They wanted to access bloggers on behalf of their clients. Some of the bloggers present objected to being spammed. The celebrated anti-spam reactions of Tom Coates and Kevin Anderson were inevitably cited and short-hand terms like Cluetrain and conversation were bandied about.

As someone who stands on both sides of the divide, I thought this remark by one of the PR people summed up the source of the miscomprehension.

"But if I can't send you an email, how can I talk to you?"

In the past, clients expected PR to give them coverage - that's no longer good enough. If you want to have a conversation with a commercial undercurrent, it would help if you think about the nature of conversations that you enjoy and try to replicate them. The technology has changed but the issue remains the same. You're trying to gain interest rather than attention. Attention is dead - it's interruptive. Any unwanted interruption of my or your time is unwelcome

My opinion on "conversation" has been recorded here but the analogy for me is obvious. If you're in a bar chatting with a group of friends or colleagues, it is entirely possible for a complete stranger to interpose into that conversation and be welcomed. But if they wander over unannounced and say let me tell you about this thing that is wonderful regardless of what you're talking about, the reaction they get will be very different.

A remark from someone with whom you've developed a rapport and mutual respect over a period of time (be that by participating on their blog or by sponsoring an online community as per Chris Locke's post-cluetrain suggestion) is part of a conversation. An unsolicited email is the equivalent of the bar-room bore.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The thing that I find interesting is that PR has slowly become an industry specialising in 'One Way Correspondence' ... or 'Hopeful Letter Writers' ... whereby they send tons of communication to all and sundary of media under the guise of being topical, interesting and/or the next big thing when in reality, it generally is passive, boring and unneccessary.

And yet I believe done well, PR is one of the most powerful tools in communicating to society - communicating in a way that can truly shift opinion and enable trust to be formed.

What a shame so many companies now demonstrate their value to clients by the number of 'column inches' their press release gained rather than truly shape/cause debate.

I like your analogy ... it's so true, if you blindly ignore where 'society' is at [culturally and topically] and just bang on with your own self importance - it means your message doesn't just not get through, but is actively opposed.

Then that's something more than just PR companies should remember isn't it! Ha.

7:02 PM, November 16, 2007  
Blogger john dodds said...

I agree with you about the potentcy of good PR Rob. Frankly I think that's why the industry is looking at the blogs because a number of very well-known blogs are effeectively and openly pimping their readership on behalf of their clients as well as things/people they just like.

5:34 AM, November 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does that last paragraph suggest that my comments have some value then, John ?

Even the silly ones ?

12:06 PM, November 17, 2007  
Blogger john dodds said...

Not financial value Tom (especially as you change your brand every comment and that no doubt breaks some rule about consistency) but in terms of extrinsic utility they definitely do.

12:17 PM, November 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Extrinsic utility?

Yep, we really need to make marketing [language] history!

6:01 PM, November 17, 2007  
Blogger john dodds said...

I made it up for Tom's benefit!

10:21 AM, November 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are a marketing genius. Or maybe you'd prefer it if I said you utilise extrinsic social qualities to define and validate your role.


8:32 PM, November 18, 2007  
Blogger john dodds said...

Why thank you Rob - I shall use that in my advertising spam in future.

Sadly you omitted the crucial words holistic, organic and synergistic so I cannot return the compliment.

3:20 AM, November 19, 2007  
Blogger lauren said...

My personal favourite:
"Attention is dead - it's interruptive. Any unwanted interruption of my or your time is unwelcome"

Corporate Dex-Amphetamine, here we come :)

6:34 AM, November 19, 2007  
Blogger The AdLads said...

Loving the 'old school' Doddsy pic sir!


8:44 AM, November 19, 2007  

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