You are on page 1of 33

The State of PR, Marketing, and Communications:

You are the Future

By Brian Solis, blogger at PR 2.0 and principal of FutureWorks PR,
Co-Author Putting the Public Back in Public Relations and Now Is Gone


Modern Public Relations was born in the early 1900s, although history traces the its
roots and origins of practice back to the 17th century. Two years ago, the press release
celebrated its 100-year anniversary.

While the communications industry has iterated with every new technological
advancement over the last century, including broadcast mediums and Web 1.0, none
however, have forced complete transparency prior to the proliferation of the Read/Write
Web aka The Social Web aka Web 2.0.

It is this element of fundamental transparency of Social Media combined with its sheer
expansiveness and overwhelming potential that is both alarming and inspiring PR
professionals everywhere. At the minimum, it’s sparking new dialogue, questions,

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

education, innovation, and also forcing the renaissance of the aging business of PR

While some are already predicting the death of PR, I fundamentally believe that it’s
simply the death of PR as we know it. As long as communications professionals want to
learn and improve their craft, then we are positioned for evolution. No matter how much
we think we know, we’re now equalized as an industry in order to reset, learn, and
define and earn an invaluable role within the business cycle – again.

Contrary to popular belief, Social Media isn’t killing PR, but the business of PR IS in a
state of paramount crisis. It’s not without merit however. Perhaps up until now, we have
been our own worst enemy.

The Social Web, the democratization of content and the wisdom of the crowds is merely
amplifying PR’s weaknesses and expediting the declination of a broken business model.
As is, many of us are collectively contributing to its perceived insignificance and

But there’s hope and that hope is you...

Our future lies in our ability to shift PR from a business of publicity to a regiment of true
“Public” Relations.

Abbreviating "PR" truncates the value of our role in one of the greatest transformations
the communications industry has ever witnessed.

As good friend Nicole Jordan told me over dinner in NY recently, “PR stands for Press
Release, not Public Relations. When people ask me what I do, I tell them that I’m in
integrated communications – public relations today is about much more than press
releases and pitching and I am so much more than just a PR person.”

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

Indeed. Just ask any executive what comes to mind when you say “PR” and note the
common misperception shared by many decision makers.

The brutally honest responses, whether you agree or not, will represent more than we’d
care to know or acknowledge. The assessments and responses will most likely span
from “publicist” to “networker” to “press release” to some fallaciously degrading and
sexist stereotypes of what PR people are, how they act, and what they look like. You’ll
also summon war stories and bad experiences with PR people and agencies that
unfortunately continue to reinforce the current state of PR crisis for the PR industry in

There are reasons we are where we are and unfortunately, the PR industry hasn’t hired
a crisis communications team to alter or steer perception based on the industry-leading
and groundbreaking work, results, and pioneering efforts of many.

Let's be honest. At one point or another, we as communications professionals HAVE

contributed to this state of crisis.

Yes, I’m speaking directly to you.

I hold the mirror up as I comb through my professional endeavors.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

I too am guilty of hitting send on spam blast emails and broadcasting “messages” at
“audiences.” I have also contacted reporters without reading their work. I have been
blinded by quantity, not quality. And, I have sacrificed the investment in relationships for
the gamble of percentages, hoping to turn big campaigns into measurable pockets of
coverage and visibility. My career, in the beginning, was defined by hits and coverage
and whether those articles and stories were "on message."

Since the mid 90s and with the dawn of Internet, I’ve dedicated myself to not only
reinventing how I practice public relations, but also sharing my experiences, successes,
stumbles, and failures with others who care to learn and improve a global industry from
the inside out.

To this day, I remain continually, focused on investing in positive, constructive, and

highly detailed blueprints on how we, as a communications industry, must embrace the
socialization of the Web to transcend the foundation and very essence of PR into a
more meaningful, relevant, and lasting renaissance.

I join the ranks of many great and generous public relations and communications
professionals who actively invest in its promise and overdue maturation to strengthen its
hope and future while playing a role in the unification of those passionate people who
are dedicated to its transformation. This is a position of which I'm still firmly rooted and

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

PR Won’t Change Until It Has To

Social Media symbolizes a crossroads for public relations representing the decision we,
as individuals, face in our career. In one direction, we can adopt the transparency and
the expertise necessary to genuinely and sincerely connect directly with our customers,
peers and the influencers who advise them. In the other direction, we can continue
relying on hyperbole and jargon filled press releases for coverage, spamming targets
with irrelevant information, maintaining a superficial and shallow knowledge of the
products and industries we represent, and maintaining distant and removed relations
with those we wish to cover our stories.

In 2007, I shared a heartfelt conversation with my good friend Tom Foremski, where we
outlined the state of PR and also what was required in order to lead and also survive the
transition to the new era of marketing communications. His observation was best
distilled with a blunt and poignant statement, "PR won't change, until it has to.”

As long as PR agencies and consultants are profitable as is, why would they reinvent

As some of us are learning, not challenging the status quo, especially in this economy,
is the most direct path to oblivion...unfortunately, many are learning of the perils of
"doing this wrong" through public exposure in a very global town square.

Contemporaneously, other communications professionals or organizations are rushing

to capitalize on the new gold rush by adding everything "social" to their menu of
services, mission, and experience, misrepresenting the very premise of their ebbing
capabilities to masquerade inexperience in an exaggerated cloak of proficiency and
expertise. Even in the face of intense competition to own the conversation, agencies are
simply folding in new “social” services governed by the same top-down processes that
govern day-to-day traditional PR. It’s a survival vs. adaption philosophy.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

Hugh MacLeod

United as an industry that is dangerously slow to heed repeated dire warnings and
adopt new standards, we will fail. Divided as individuals hungry for education and
advancement aligned with those thought leaders and proven practitioners of new
communications, we can collectively assemble a new and powerful collective of
streetwise revolutionaries who will effectively transform, magnify, and upgrade the
infrastructure of PR.

As much as you hear that all of this advice is Marketing 101, the marketing
infrastructure is actually designed to function counter-intuitively. Intention and execution
are distances separated by reality. We speak through hyperbole, spin, specifications,
statements, and top-down messages. We continue to broadcast these disconnected
campaigns in an era when our intended recipients have “opted out” of any outreach that
pushes an agenda on faceless audiences through unemotional voices without
recognizing the people formerly known as the audience (thank you Jay Rosen).

Personal vs. Corporate Branding

Don’t limit your expertise to personal experience with the use of social tools and
networks. Your credibility, reputation, and knowledge must represent your command of
them in action, both successes and failures in real world b2b, b2c, and p2p (peer to
peer) engagement – not simply based on your efforts tied to personal branding. It’s one

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

thing to build a community around you and your online persona, it’s altogether
something different and much more complex and sophisticated, to create and inspire an
active and passionate community around a product, service, and ultimately a brand.

With the powerful undercurrent of Social Media surrounding our personal and
professional activity, we are now brand managers, not only for the companies we
represent, but also our personal brands and reputations as well. If you’re not proactively
shaping and cultivating it, who is?

We are our own brand managers now, responsible for how our personal brand and
reputation as well as those we represent, are perceived, embraced and promoted. We
learn through listening and participation. There is no excuse for our complacency as the
failure in today’s landscape is public, searchable, and enduring.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

Here Come the Social Media Experts


Traditional PR and marketing is on the endangered species list and this is that moment
in time when its fate is in the hands of those who are contributing to its evolution or its
demise. The veritable problem is that those who are instrumental in its downfall are
oblivious to it. Everything is reactive, based on economics or negative responses that
threaten their position in the market.

However, Social Media is not our golden ticket. It is both an opportunity and a privilege.

Applying the old rules and methodologies of communications to the new world of
parallel influence only expedites the irrelevance and resentment of public relations and
marketers overall.

Some PR teams and agencies are attacking the evolving business of PR by hiring
thought leaders and injecting them into an existing infrastructure that’s complicated by
years of hurdles, broken lines of communication, politics, and a misaligned hierarchy
that prevents the most qualified individuals from leading and participating in successful

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

online engagement for the long term. At best, most everything is viewed as a

Other brands and PR teams are also attempting to rally posts, articles and tweets by
paying or giving away products in exchange for coverage and good will. The practice
has already earned the attention of the FTC and they’re issuing guidelines to ensure
that bloggers and now Twitterers disclose the fact that they’re paid, whether with money
or products.

Even after highly influential journalists and bloggers such as Chris Anderson and Gina
Trapani have published the names of individual PR 'un' professionals and organizations
that they consider spammers, we still actively push our messages to anyone and
everyone as if we are determined to destroy any hope and potential of success - all in
the name of scoring that one hit that will earn accolades and erase all of our wrongs.

Are we not more than publicists, handlers or even worse, spammers?

Why are the most junior people within any organization maintaining direct dialogue with
leading influencers within their industry?

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

PR has entrenched itself in a top-down model that places strategy and direction at the
top, management in the middle, and execution at the bottom. In a sense, many
organizations are putting its most inexperienced and unseasoned employees on the
front lines of PR while guiding them with strategy based on previous experience and/or
theory, which may or may not be outdated and ineffective in today’s diverse and
potentially perilous communications climate.

Things move too quickly to not combine experience, strategy, and execution in one role.

With the new and pivotal opportunity presented by Social Media, we again, are
mistakenly and unfortunately, applying the same methodologies to program planning
and engagement.

Social Media didn’t “invent” conversations and it did notunearth online conversations
either; nor did it provide, for the first time, platforms for consumers to share their
thoughts, opinions, and advice. Online groups and opinion sites existed since Web 1.0.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

And, before that, bulletin boards and forums hosted online discussions.

Contrary to popular belief, there are actually relatively few “Social Media Experts.”

As I’ve said many times, the ability to master any subject that moves, adapts,
transforms, and evolves so quickly is beyond mastering – at least for now. We are, for
now, simply its dedicated students.

Even still, several Social Media experts are predominately selling strategy and
consulting because right now, everyone is buying it. Unfortunately, they’re helping
companies understand the mechanics of Social Media tools and “conversations,”
showcasing and promoting capabilities, functionality, and also providing training, but still
delegating the execution to more junior marketing professionals, including interns and
students. Most of this is rooted in theory as instead of experience.

Again, why would we entrust our most important outreach and engagement to those

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

who most likely have no bearing on the real life needs, pains, challenges, and choices
of those we’re hoping to compel? Yet, they are the very teams we’re sending out to
represent our brand each and every day. And expert guidance from the top doesn’t
translate company-wide unless they’re part of the day-to-day team demonstrating and
teaching through example.

So, when a blogstorm or Tweetquake erupts, who’s really to blame?

Do we condemn the less seasoned employees who are simply executing based on
“expert” instruction or lack thereof? Do we hold leaders accountable because they’re the
masterminds behind most outreach? Or, is executive management liable simply
because their expectations are out of synchronicity with reality?

The answer is all of the above.

However, PR and social marketers will point to account managers because of their
unattainable and out of touch presumptions. Senior level managers will charge those
who fail with incompetence. Those on the front lines will charge their management with
leading through ineptitude, but they still sign the checks.

With the radical changes underway in the communications and media spheres, we need
to not only retrofit PR and marketing with new techniques and strategies, but
reconstruct its entire model for the Social Web, accounting for the complex and
elaborate two-way layers of traditional and new influencers and the communities that
form around them and the ideas they represent.

We just have to reinvent how we structure, monetize, and capitalize on the opportunities
that are ripe for the entire industry of qualified communications professionals.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

Relationships Aren’t Built by Copying and Pasting Content

We’re not as far as you’d like to think. Here are two very recent and real examples of
pitches that I’ve received:

Dear Brian, I love your blog. I read it all the time. You really are a thought leader on this
front. Because of that, I have something that I think is really worth your time. We're
launching a new social network for plants where people can share their
recommendations and experiences and also comment on each other’s green thumbs.
We are also introducing a new plant monitoring application that lets you know via gmail
and text when you need to water or feed your plants.

I don’t write about plants. But just because I’ve written about “social networks” doesn’t
necessarily mean I would ever cover a social network for plants.

Then there are also those PR people who are moving way too fast for their own benefit:

Hi Liz, I love reading GigaOM. CUT AND PASTE PITCH HERE.

That’s right. I’m not Liz and I don’t yet write for GigaOm. However, every day, I, along
with every reporter and blogger out there, receive a significant number of shotgun aka
“spray and pray” emails that are produced from pure mail merge factories, , intro text, , .
Or, for those who manually create each email, it's the same process. But when we're
moving too fast, we tend to slip and forget to change the contact name every now and

Slow down.

You’re contributing to the atrophy of our profession. This is exactly the moment when we
need to realize that we can offer more to the company we represent and the people
we’re trying to reach.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

Rather than trying to satisfy quotas, realize that the PR and marketing industries are
undergoing an incredible metamorphosis, one that implores a "less is more" strategy,
rooted in the connectedness of real people. In the era of the Social Web, a few key
posts and articles in the right places, supported by an impassioned community bound
by evangelism, success is significantly more profound, and immediately measurable.
New PR suddenly starts to pave a clear and effective new path for day-to-day
engagement for those who are ready to learn, mature and excel.

PR is So Much More than Media, Analyst and Blogger Relations

Credit: Ghedo

The business of PR slowly evolved away from public interaction and eventually
transformed into a mechanism of media, analyst, and blogger relations to instill
messages and attempt to manipulate public behavior.

PR = Publicity

This view of PR can be traced all the way back to Edward Bernays in the early 1900s. A
nephew of Sigmund Freud, Bernays’ experimented with Freud’s ideology related to
people's unconscious, psychological motivations and how they could be exploited or

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

steered through communications and top-down influence. As a result, PR of today is
more aligned with Media, Analyst and Blogger relations and not necessarily “Public”

Now that the creation and distribution of content has been democratized, everyday
people are earning a level of authority that fundamentally works against the current
model of current PR.

As described in my book with Deirdre Breakenridge, “Putting the Public Relations,” the
Web, heightened with the proliferation of the read/write Web and the impending
semantic Web, is forcing the integration of the “Public” back into Public Relations.

Applying the current process of pitch development and distribution has little to no impact
on your numbers and your potential to survive the evolution of communications. In fact,
this process works against you by alienating you and the brands you represent, closing
valuable inroads to reach the very people who can make or break your business.

By simply adding bloggers to your mail merge or your “hit” lists, you are not adapting to
the new landscape of influence and engagement, only contributing to its state of crisis.
Bloggers are people too, and their in boxes are just as chaotic as those of their
journalist counterparts.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis


Social Media is bigger than simply integrating a Blogger Relations branch to your PR
strategy. It’s an opportunity to engage directly customers and peers who either purchase
or recommend the decisions of others. Engaging and inspiring these individuals
requires new techniques, methodologies, and an undeniable understanding of who they
write for and why they should care about what you represent.

The new world of influence demands customer empathy, evangelism, passion,

expertise, and knowledge – everything else is disposable and takes away from your
focus and potential.

Doc Searls spotlighted the people who define our audience on the other side of our
messaging megaphones to magnify the reality that markets are conversations and that
there really is no discernible market for our pitches and messages.

Over the years, my experience with direct engagement has revealed that conversations
are also markets - within vertical segments. Traditional word of mouth, at the consumer

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

level, is intensified as impassioned individuals now have access to new mediums that
directly and indirectly influence the decisions of their peers in the real world and through
their extended communities online.

So how does PR attempt to engage with these new influencers?

Other than pitching at them and broadcasting messages through any and all channels
and networks, many PR people attempt to either pose as “users” or offer boilerplate
comments and reviews across the blogosphere, in micromedia communities, online
groups and social profiles and review sites. This isn’t participation. This is PR of old. It
embodies the same spin that defines most press releases along with the disingenuous
voices associated with ghost-written executive quotes, contributed articles and now blog

Listen, engage, prioritize, and grow in the communities that affect your development,
reputation, relationships and authority as a person and as a professional. It's the only

Listening is the fundamental characteristic that separates the experts from the theorists.

The process of actively observing and documenting relevant conversations not only
enables the communications team to create an accurate social map of important and
relevant networks, but it also produces a more informed and empathetic assembly of
sincere, humanized evangelists and ambassadors. This is a critical observation and
lesson. We emerge from the process of listening and internalizing in tune and in touch
with our markets and the people who define and direct them.

Blasting messages to them now seems trivial and purposeless. Engaging, solving
problems, and answering questions, essentially becoming community and customer
resources becomes paramount and natural. We participate as consumers and ultimately
as the customers we wish to reach. It fuses customer service and influence. As next

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

generation communications professionals, we're walking a tightrope between earning
attention and building community, without losing sight of our ultimate goal of
propagating our value propositions.

It the job of any good Public Relations professional to identify and guide influential
voices within important online communities.

Transparency Begets Authenticity; Experience Engenders Authority, and


Transparency scares the sh!t out of PR people. This is an industry that has long
operated behind the puppet master’s curtain, pulling the strings for spokespeople and
varying communications tools to broadcast content at, around, and through the back
channel of influence, but never directly connecting with the people who define its

The democratization of content also dictates the success, “shareability,” and permeation
of your story by revealing and refining it through public forums and channels – let the
community guide how you approach them.

The Social Web forces you to participate as an individual, not as a marketer and thus
requires a new depth of understanding, expertise, knowledge in order to establigh a
meaningful relationship between customers, influencers, and the company and products
you represent.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

Whether you post a comment, write a blog post, upload a video, create a profile on a
social network, or establish groups or fan pages, everything is now open to public
dissemination, interpretation, and response. Email too, long considered a safe medium
for exchanging or presenting information, is now backfiring for PR, fueling bloggers and
media to respond with a deep-seeded necessity to seek retribution by posting of original
pitches and creating public blacklists that absolutely devastate PR individuals and their
standing within their respective industries. While I don’t agree with public humiliation, it
is an unfortunate reality that we must contend with while fighting and promoting the
ethics of human relationships. Nonetheless, the lesson here is that we are now forced to
change how we approach people with our stories. It's for our own good and the overall
betterment of our craft.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

A New Business Model and Infrastructure for Public Relations

Credit: Pear Biter

At South by Southwest (SXSW) in March 2009, Erin Portman, Karly Hand, Peter
Shankman and I participated in a highly anticipated and heavily attended session
entitled, “Are PR Agencies Dead?”

Some people would object to the use of “dead” in the title of anything these days. But, is
it really a tired discussion in the grand scheme of things? Maybe, it’s stale to those who
ping pong the discussion in the echo chamber. But for the rest of the world, it’s a topic
that is either new or soon to be introduced into their world.

The controversial session explored whether or not Social Media was killing PR or
breathing new life into it. In the end, it’s actually a bit of both. And, along with it, Social
Media is forcing the establishment of new business models, staffing infrastructures, and
service portfolios.

To be clear, the practice of blindly broadcasting messages through poorly written press
releases at audiences is dead. PR is NOT necessarily dead, but without the application
of a social tourniquet, it is bleeding to death.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

Essentially, this is a matter of livelihood and the evolution of marketing and PR is
incredibly poignant to each and every one of us.

At the end of the day, we are now in the business of visibility, influence and perception
management. So, we can now put away the white coats associated with spin doctoring.
We can remove the blindfolds we wore in every mass blast we sent. And, we can hang
up our plaid jackets associated with the snake oil salesmanship we were accused of
oozing in every exchange.

We now need to rethink our roles as intermediaries between the companies we

represent, authorities, and ultimately the communities that determine our place in the
market. In order to persevere and excel, agencies, and the individuals who define them,
must act as thought leaders and market makers, serving both sides of the conversation
and also the ensuing activity and interaction.

The business model of billing for hours as related to press release writing, account
management, news pitching, and traditional counseling is growing increasingly
irrelevant in the face of new services and competition that PR never saw coming.

Suddenly we’re competing against interactive, advertising and digital agencies,

community management teams, social media agencies, experiential specialists,
branding and marketing consultants, or hybrid organizations combining all of the above.

Honestly, up until this point, we weren’t hired or paid, by in large, to connect, advocate,
influence or believe, we were rewarded by the placements that result from mass
pitching. When you run a campaign around “hits,” then it’s crafted and governed by
numbers, not people.

As I mentioned during the panel, the public relations/new media agency that I run no
longer bills for press release writing, account management, or standard pitching. These
are now functions of more relevant social + traditional outreach and engagement

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

programs. In fact over the last decade, we’ve completely redesigned our services
infrastructure to reflect the real world business needs and goals of the companies we
represent. It’s not absolutely definitive, but a promising work in progress that is very
monetizable now and in the long-term. However, it requires not only new and conclusive
services that combine standard communications and new media strategies, but also the
associated metrics that justify the newer activity. In order to balance the new
programming, we also shifted our billable infrastructure from a top-down agency model
to a flat organization consisting of experts in the fields we represent as well as those
who are fluent in the tools, channels and supporting cultures that foster influencer and
customer interaction. Basically, we detonated the old infrastructure, kept the pieces that
have and will always work, and connected everything to the new programs where we’re
already seeing value today.


There is no doubt in my mind that eventually all PR agencies and consultants will follow
suit and transform from publicity firms into New Media communications and marketing
organizations rich with in house or contracted content producers, digital sociologists,
research librarians, community managers, digital architects, connectors, and industry

But everything hinges on the ability to interpret trends, assess value and metrics,
intelligently engage, and ultimately inspire change through proven results.

The function of socializing media within the organization could be relegated to a team of
dedicated specialists before its deployed company or agency wide.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

Real-Time Responsibilities (fully transparent and disclosed) of a New Media team could

Content Producers - Creates content necessary for client/company interaction with

customers, peers and influencers, including videos, images, Web pages, blog posts,
policies and guidelines, tweets, wikis, comments, online experiences, profiles, etc. In
many cases, connectors and industry experts/strategists wear this hat and assign the
creation of important content to either content producers, other members on the team
with direct experience, or simply produce it themselves.

Digital Sociologists - Observes the cultures, trends, behavior, associated with

communities, networks, forums and compares the interactivity around keywords and
brands to contribute to engagement strategies, customer service policies and
improvements and product modifications.

Research Librarians - Complements or augments in house or contract sociologists by

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

analyzing relevant keywords used by customers, listening to and documenting
conversations by content and sentiment, charting volume and frequency within social
networks, identification and analysis of true influencers and tastemakers across media,
blogs, and social communities, and presents data and charts for analysis by strategists.

Community Managers - Listens to conversations in social networks, forums, and the

blogosphere documented by research librarians or through their own process, assigns
relevant dialogue to appropriate team leads, manages the workflow and response
status, and in most cases is the first line of response.

Digital or Social Architects - Digital or social architects are responsible for building the
online bridges between company brand and consumers via widgets, sites, online
dashboards, blogs, social newsrooms, social media releases, wikis, social networks, fan
pages, forums, groups, and any other application, platform, or group responsible for
hosting content, conversations, and interactivity.

Connectors - Informed individuals and teams that can connect stories to influencers
and inspire activity, direction, and conversations. Connectors act based on intelligence,
empathy, sincerity and the ability to truly “bridge” a story to someone else in a way that’s
specific and compelling to them as an individual and also as it relates to their audience
and social graph.

Industry Experts/Strategists - Someone has to act as the conductor to this all star
orchestra. Qualified individuals have mastered the art and science of attaching new and
traditional media to the bottom line of their business and also possess a deep
understanding of and experience with customer empathy, market trends, and the
governing technology that connects the people within desired market places.

Yes, I said customer empathy...

As I said in the SXSW panel, which the Los Angeles Times picked up, "Get a little

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

empathy going on. Putting an ear to the virtual ground will tell you everything you need
to know -- it's going to affect and influence what you write, how you talk. It's going to
make you a little more passionate, a little more believable."

These new, adjoined job functions create a new level of services that complement
existing, traditional and necessary communications activities.

- Listening/Monitoring/Documenting – intelligence gathering and trend analysis

- Engagement in the networks and groups where relevant conversations are pervasive
and warrant participation

- Content creation

- Conversation management and trafficking

- Influencer and tastemaker identification and networking

- Community management, empowerment, and cultivation

- Event hosting and franchising

- Story development and connectivity to “The Magic Middle” bloggers and Long Tail

- Humanizing company and product messaging and redefining the online journey and
experience associated with the online presences associated with specific

The opportunities are limited only by the imagination of those responsible for
engendering change from within.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

Becoming the People You Want to Reach

In a recent survey conducted by the Institute for PR, most (92% - up from 89% in 2008)
of those surveyed believe that blogs and social media influences news coverage in the
traditional media (newspapers, magazines, radio and television). It most certainly
influences the purchase decisions of customers.

But how do you spark word of mouth across the social web? How do you socialize
relevant information across the social graphs of those who define your relevant

Communities won’t react to a press release. Nor will communications professionals

galvanize action because of a generic pitch.

They need inspiration and motivation and that can only stem from an interaction that is
so compelling and engaging that they’re inspired to act and share. Essentially you have
to become the people you wish to reach and excite.

Yes, transparency subjects you to public scrutiny. It also forces you to rethink your
approach and the words you share with those you believe are qualified and amenable to
hear them. It raises the bar and hopefully inspires a more personal and human
interpretation tied to the nuances of the individuals you’re attempting to convince and

When we start writing that pitch or crafting the first draft of the press release, we seem
to lose touch with our inner consumer in favor of appeasing corporate management. But
ultimately who are we writing for?

It’s a delicate line to traverse.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

On one side of the equation, you serve the people that ensure you have a job; on the
other side, you’re faced with a discerning group of influencers and ultimately people
who communicate through experiences, pains and benefits and not hyperbole and

It’s as simple as this, stop speaking through pitch emails and press releases designed
to satisfy the people who most likely don't or won't buy the product or service.

Do you really think that speaking in marketing tongues is what it takes to get someone
to pay attention to you - especially in this attention economy?

If you talked to your friends and family the way you pitch reporters and bloggers, you’d
get nowhere quickly. In fact, you’d lose face and favor. The same is true for Public
Relations. You’re talking to real people, on their terms.

You are the customer.

Try starting with the #twitpitch. Based on the art of MicroPR, if you could summarize the
story in 140 characters or less, then you’re well on your way to commanding the
escalator pitch, which makes the elevator pitch seem like a luxury.

Yes this technique reverses the traditional inverted pyramid we’re so accustomed to
using when writing any marketing material, particularly press releases.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

But now, we can say more with less. It’s the poetry and power of brevity - the art of
persuasion through sincerity and relevance.

Here’s an interesting story I thought I’d share...

I’m working with a company that set me straight at the beginning of our relationship.
While he had heard nothing but wonderful things about my team, he simply said, don’t
sell me. I understand that you can get us in the press and the blogosphere and increase
the frequency of conversations related to us across social networks. But I need you and
your team, to be “us.” We created this product and company with our life’s passion and I
don’t need it pitched, I need it shared as a real solution for those with real pain as
someone who truly lives and breathes it. I don’t want PR, I need a dedicated team of
enthusiasts that not only get it, but represent its incarnation.

His request is not unique.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

Our Future and Your Place Within It Rests is in Your Hands

After a decade of sharing new philosophies, techniques, tools, and strategies for
evolving how we think about and practice new and traditional communications, it's
become quite clear to me that an industry firmly settled in history and process will not
change in unison. It will take the influence of globally dispersed beacons representing a
new hope for Public Relations who will champion the change from within and also from
the outside. These individuals reside in PR, but will also feature the emergence of
collaborators and new competitors representing hybrids of Interactive and Web
Marketing, Customer Service, Technical and Social Architecture, Digital Sociology and
Research, Evangelists, and Community Catalysts.

This higher level of commitment and supporting tactics are the minimum ante to practice
Public Relations today and tomorrow – and its minimum will continually increase over
time (as it should have all along). Personalized value and genuine, transparent and
meaningful conversations is what it takes to forge relationships and continued value,
listening, and sustained benefits combined with a lot of YOU, is the emotional
investment that nurtures loyalty and referrals.

As mentioned earlier, PR and marketing will not change until it has, there’s no
choice. PR is broken, but it is far from dead. The good news is that tomorrow's public
relations strategies are already successfully practiced today. The architects of new
communications are collaboratively building a bridge to the masses to help navigate a
path to education and relevance, defining the future of public relations and socially
aware marketing in the process.

Change is imminent and its traction and fate is tied to you.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis


If it's one moral that I want you to embody after reading this paper, it's that YOU, and
only you, are in control of your career and the ensuing success that you earn and

You have to become the very people you’re trying to reach in order to effectively create
connections and inspire action. Execution is defined by engagement, earned
relationships, and the ensuing activity that results from each interaction. You are
involved at every point.

If you’re dedicated and resolved to learn, new thinking, case studies, education and
insight are now a commodity on the Web. Everyone in this space is willing to help you,
so take full advantage of it.

You learn, grow, and excel on your terms.

We ARE becoming the new influencers and therefore we must redesign the
communications ecosystem in which we operate and our roles within it in order to
change, grow, and thrive.

Welcome to the new standard of Public Relations and Marketing Communications.

How will you contribute to its evolution and practice?

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

Helpful Posts on PR 2.0:
- Is Twitter a Broadcast or Conversation Platform (or Both)?
- Is Twitter Evolving from the Facebook to the Myspace of Microblogs
- Time Spent on Twitter Soars by Over 3,700%, Facebook 700%
- Gazing into The Twitterverse
- This is Not a Sponsored Post: Sponsored Conversations & the FTC
- Reviving the Traditional Press Release
- Twitter, Acquisition vs. Retention
- You Are Significant
- The Art and Science of Blogger Relations - Updated eBook
- In Social Media, The SEC Protects Investors and Companies by Removing “Relations”
from IR
- Twitter Flutters into Mainstream Culture: The New Competition for Attention Starts with
- The Social OS, The Battle Between Facebook and Twitter is the New Mac vs. PC
- The Domino's Effect
- Can The Statusphere Save Journalism
- The Conversation Index
- Social Media Influences Buying Decisions
- Is Social Media Recession Proof?
- The End of the Innocence
- The Social Effect and Disruption Theory
- Twitter and Social Networks Usher in a New Era of Social CRM
- Humanizing Social Networks, Revealing the People Powering Social Media
- I Like You The Emerging Culture of Micro Acts of Appreciation
- The Ties that Bind Us - Visualizing Relationships on Twitter and Social Networks
- Make Tweet Love - Top Tips for Building Twitter Relationships
- Are Blogs Losing Their Authority to the Statusphere
- Twitter Tools for Communication and Community Professionals
- Reinventing Crisis Communications for the Social Web

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

Brian Solis is globally recognized for his views and insights on the convergence of PR,
Traditional Media and Social Media. He actively contributes his thoughts and experiences
through speaking appearances, books, articles and essays as a way of helping the marketing
industry understand and embrace the new dynamics fueling new communications, marketing,
and content creation. Solis has been actively writing about new PR since the mid 90s to discuss
how the Web was redefining the communications industry – he coined PR 2.0 along the way.

Solis is Principal of FutureWorks, an award-winning PR agency in Silicon Valley. Solis blogs at

PR2.0,, and TechCrunch. Solis is co-founder of the Social Media Club and is a
founding member of the Media 2.0 Workgroup.

PR 2.0 has earned a position of authority in the Technorati blog directory and currently resides
in the top 1.5% of indexed blogs. is also ranked among the most influential blogs
in the Ad Age Power 150 listing of leading marketing bloggers.

Working with Geoff Livingston, Solis was co-author of “Now is Gone,” a new book that helps
businesses learn how to engage in Social Media. He has also written several ebooks on the
subjects of Social Media, New PR, and Blogger Relations.

His new book, co-authored with Deirdre Breakenridge, “Putting the Public back in Public
Relations,” is now available from FT press.

Connect with Solis on:

Twitter, FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Plaxo, Plurk,, or Facebook
Subscribe to the PR 2.0 RSS feed
Kindle users, subscribe here.
Now available:

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis