You Can't Stop The Beat!


Here's the challenge: What to tell a group of savvy PR professionals about social media .. in 20 minutes. Yesterday I joined my friend SEO expert Stacy Williams, Prominent Placement, on a panel for a Business Wire Client Social Media Luncheon. Thanks to Mark Dunn, Laurie Sturaitis and Yasmine Santos Holmes for coordinating our efforts.

A few weeks ago I saw the John Travolta Hairspray film. Loved it. It's a fun, upbeat, happy flick. There was one song that resonated with me from the first beat - You Can't Stop The Beat! I thought it's about social media .. well really it's about love but hey, there's a lot of that in social media just take a look at the Age of Conversation. I found the theme to my presentation. Click and listen!

You can't stop an avalanche as it races down the hill
You can try to stop the seasons, girl, but you know you never will

I wanted to explain - You can't stop the momentum of social media and anyone who thinks it's a fad is living under a rock. Sure it may change .. blogs today .. micro blogs tomorrow .. the entire world on Facebook .. and who knows what is 'round the corner. - You Can't Stop The Beat!

I wanted explain - The three ways that social media can authentically support public relations.

  1. Active Listening - of the conversation through key word feeds from blog search engines. Using the information make a better product/service.
  2. Active Participation - stepping into social media with a bebe step by commenting on a blog. Then developing a social media strategy that includes authoring blogs, a community, vlogs, podcasts, etc.
  3. Depending on the Kindness of Strangers (a la Blanche DuBois, the wounded hero in Streetcar Called Desire)- blogger relations. Bloggers can turn into friends if you develop a relationship.

Sidebar: Toss of a pink boa to Sintya Moreira, TheDeMossGroup, who introduced herself to me after the event and asked if she could send me information - when she thought it might be appropriate. Of the 80 people in the room Sintya was the only PR person to do that.

Let's explore one of the three ways that social media can authentically support public relations - Active Participation. Active Listening and Depending On The Kindness of Strangers to come later. 

Active Participation - One of the most powerful aspects of blogs is the ability to tell your stories when you want to how you want to .. you get to do it as Frank would say - your way.

Here's one of my stories. I've written my share of media releases but I'm no way a PR pro. A few years ago, before blogs .. way back in the '90's, I was marketing director of a non profit and with that came many hats including media relations. The agency's mandate was to provide business support for minority small business owners. We had a great story Grasp_2to tell and didn't have much of a problem getting some pretty good ink.

Any members of the media here? Okay girlfriend, let's dish! How many of you have spent significant time talking to a reporter that resulted in no mention or one sentence that was taken out of context or the slant of the story was not what you had anticipated?

For the most part the Atlanta media was kind and very generous to us. This article from the Atlanta Business Chronicle was sweet. However, my first interview was a frustrating and disappointing experience. The story  wasn't wrong but it wasn't the way I wanted it to be written. I wanted people to hear the story in a different way. There was little if anything I could do. Oh sure I could have sent a few emails but the not with with the reach or the influence as that publication.

Technology has changed that one.Today my stories can be heard, read or viewed globally. And then quickly passed on by hundreds of people who want to help chat it up.

The agency I worked for, was all about helping small business owners. The staff was committed and passionate. But the perception of an agency even with people who care can be intimidating. A blog would not only have allowed me to tell the stories but ripped the Wizard of Oz curtain down and introduced the community to those people. It would have built relationships and fostered relationships. It would have made The Atlanta Small Business Project less intimidating. I would have had one more avenue to listen and learn what prospective clients wanted and how to develop programs to meet their needs.

Recently Johnson & Johnson made David and Goliath heads when it opened litigation against the Red Cross over the use of the famous red cross logo. However,the JNJ BTW blog gave J&J the opportunity to tell the story their way. Agree or disagree with J&J over the use the logo .. the point here is a blog provided an instant publishing tool. Toss of a Pink Boa to Marc Monseau for allowing negative comments. 

And you can try to stop my dancing feet, but I just cannot stand still!
'Cause the world keeps spinnin' round and round

Social Media Benefits For Public Relations

  • Tell your stories your way
  • Tell your stories when you want
  • Help brand champions tell your stories for you  (viral and link love)
  • Build relationships with the people who are the heart of your brand
  • Listen and learn resulting in a better product and/or service

Yesterday is history [be gone!]
And it's never comin back! [Look ahead, cause...]
Tomorrow is a brand new day, and it don't know white from black [YEAH!]
'Cause the world keeps spinnin' round and round

You Can't Stop The Beat! But I ask you .. why would you want to?


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I love the example about the avalanche to describe social media - excellent imagery!

Just think of all the social events around the world that have effected brand image.


Posted by: Brandorama on Aug 24, 2007 4:54:16 AM

Brandorama - It is quite amazing that consumers/customers/clients .. call them what you would .. "People" are having a global influence on brand image. Can't Stop The Beat ;-)

Posted by: Toby on Aug 24, 2007 10:06:16 AM


I agree, social media of some kind is here to stay but it will continue to undergo change. As for PR, I would add one thing to achieve some level of success: drop the cliches and the jargon and stop speaking corporate and start speaking human.

It is hard to relate to a writing style that begins: The Howard & Howard Corporation is proud to announce the introduction of a world-class product called jabberwocky.

Posted by: Lewis Green on Aug 24, 2007 11:13:36 AM

Excellent point Lewis. I never quite got why those corp communications were ever written in goobly gunk language. Should be a breath of relief that we can write "human or people talk" now.

Posted by: Toby on Aug 24, 2007 11:30:42 AM

Rockin' post Toby! Is it because we haven't the language to speak human - with love and grace, or is it fear of being vulnerable? Gives me pause. Thanks for the beat.

Posted by: Carolyn on Aug 24, 2007 5:35:29 PM

I agree, social media of some kind is here to stay but it will continue to undergo change. As for PR, I would add one thing to achieve some level of success: drop the cliches and the jargon and stop speaking corporate and start speaking human.

Posted by: woyaotuiguang on Nov 2, 2007 10:35:09 PM

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