IPRA summit summary of first day

One of the issues discussed in the panel on innovations in public relations was the quality of writing on blogs and other social media. Boyd Neil of Hill & Knowlton made the point that there are a multitude of different writing styles and how they can be appropriate for different circumstances.

I winced when I looked back at the ‘live’ posts. The quality of writing is dire and isn’t even a style I would normally use. It did provide a rough summary of what was said, what it didn’t do was provide any analysis.

The contribution from Mark Durrant of Motorola was illuminating and turned out to be a good demonstration of how blogs can spark conversations. Mark mentioned Charles Arthur and Charles read my blog post and responded with a comment and a post of his own about me blogging the IPRA summit. Charles picked up on the issue of control of the message and how many PR people don’t like losing it. My comment on his blog is that PR people have never controlled the message. Some might have been under the illusion that is what they were doing, but in fact they have only ever influenced it. We can still do that in the world of social media. Many of the ‘bloggerati’ A-list might not like the idea of PR people influencing the messages on blogs, but that is exactly what the A-list do all the time. Every blogger is influencing the message all of the time, some to a greater or less extent.

I also valued meeting Euan Semple. I’ve long read Euan’s blog and followed what he had to say on social computing. Euan’s contribution explained how social media and blogging wasn’t just about a soapbox where people could preach their wisdom, but more importantly was about conversations and relationships. Euan sensibly cautioned against companies just using blogs to market products or distribute information, but that they should use them intelligently to develop relationships.

The key message of the morning session was that public relations professionals can not afford to ignore social media. They must understand and embrace it. That doesn’t mean jumping in and creating a blog. It does mean integrating social media into the corporate communications strategy.

Social media puts both the public and the relations back into public relations.

Apologies for the break in transmission yesterday afternoon. An urgent client issue cropped up which took a lot longer to sort out than I expected.