Coffee with the PR Warrior

It’s not every day you get to meet someone whose tweets you enjoy reading, and whose blog you regard as one of the best around.

It’s not every day you also get to see them with an accidentally spilled coffee in their lap; laugh it off; and continue to infuse you with their passion for social media.

I had one of those days yesterday!

@trevoryoung (aka the PR Warrior) was kind enough to share some of his thoughts with me …. once the waitress cleaned up the coffee she’d spilled over him.

Some of the key views Trevor shared with me were

  • The social web is “lots of little stories to lots of people
  • You need to consider the social web like a party – you can’t stand in the corner and not meet anyone
  • The social web is highly nuanced – you need to know what to say; and you need to know what not to say.

Trevor repeated something I think is really important about social media – you’re your own brand (his website is a great example) – and on social media, personal and professional lines are becoming increasingly blurred.

We then moved into a discussion from a PR / crisis comms perspective of dealing with an issue online – after it’s become a crisis. Trevor’s view – and one I completely agree with – was that you need to be participating online and have a presence, first. Partially tongue-in-cheek, Trevor noted that the 24 hour news cycle has turned into a 5 minute news cycle, and that people/companies/brands needed to use social media to get their message out.

An interesting comment from Trevor and one that’s often repeated, is that the number ofone’s followers doesn’t matter compared with their influence. It was critical, Trevor noted, to not only BE online, but to have your online community ‘with’ you. Social media allows you to talk – and engage – directly with your audience: “You are your own TV station; own radio station; own news magazine,” Trevor said.

The conversation considered companies blogging, which Trevor noted should give an insight into the firm’s personality, including behind the scenes.

Finally, with the coffee drunk, the lemon slice enjoyed, Trevor made two really great points which underlined to me two reasons why social media is so important:

  1. People do business with people“, he said. In the context of social media, the point Trevor made was that he’d met a number of interesting, engaging, enthusiastic people through Twitter – it literally is ‘social’; and
  2. What are the risks of ‘doing’ social media; and what are the risks of not ‘doing’ social media?”

I agree with Trevor on both points. In the first instance, I’ve found people I’ve met on Twitter and then in ‘real life’ to be extremely selfless with their time; keen to share their experiences; and happy to offer their views. The lead-up toMedia140/Ozpolitics is a case in point for me: I’ve essentially cold-DM’d 3AW’s Ben Wise (and through him metDerryn Hinch, Tony Tardio and Alexandra Factor) – and learned much from them all. After Trevor’s exceptional blog, I got an appointment with him and put my views on the table to have them positively critiqued against this PR’s practitioner’s perspective. Socially, Sam Mutimer, who has soooo much wonderful energy was someone I met through a Twitter-breakfast, run by the social media savvy Melbourne Football Club’s Cam Schwab and online editor, Matt Burgan. The NGO I head will be sending its comms person (um – me!) to a workshop run by Sam’s firm. We want to do social media better; she can teach us; I like the way she goes about stuff. Done. Deal.

Secondly, from a management/leadership and crisis / issues management communications view, I’m reminded of the quote attributed to US Army General Eric Shinseki: “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” From numerous theoretical and applied perspectives, this quote makes the case for leaders/NGOs/’communications’ people (aren’t we all in ‘comms’?!). People are doing social media – many people, like Trevor and his colleagues, doing it very well.

Those who see the nuances, the challenges – and – most of all!!! – the opportunities – in proactively engaging, learning from, and immersing in social media will thrive. And those that don’t? – well, chances are you’re not online, you’re not engaging – and you won’t know you’ve become irrelevant until it’s too late.