Brian Solis gave a speech about his new e-book, “What If PR Stood for People and Relationships?” last week at a private Vocus-Cision event at Google Headquarters. The gist of Brian’s speech was to focus on being valuable to audiences rather than achieving online success.
Success in PR today is defined as views. But vanity metrics aren’t necessarily a good barometer in regard to actual impact.
Brian noted that within 24 hours of Ello becoming a national news story, there were already posts discussing the top 10 ways to market on the social network. “Best practices like list posts are based on mediocrity,” said Brian.
“We can build value for our customers,” said Brian. “We can see and find it, or we can contribute to the noise. Customers will find the value elsewhere if we choose the second. Customer-centricity actually means you have to revolve around customers.”
Brian argued that customer expressions – their responses to brand messages – are more important than impressions. Specifically, brands should pause and think about the messages they are communicating. Do they add any value or are they just more noise, designed for web traffic? Customers have to feel the real impact of communications, and want more as a result of it.
To illustrate his point, Brian asked, “If an infographic is published and no one shares it, did it even exist?”
How Tech Factors In
Technology contributes to the equation. It offers a new, powerful way to reach people. It can bring a sense of awe, much like a test drive in a sports car can change the way you think about driving. Newfound power can blind and cause communicators to lose their way.
“Technology shouldn’t be the vision, but the way we scale the vision,” said Brian. He encouraged attendees to think of online tools as a means, not the message. He reemphasized that becoming an online “marketing machine” isn’t something to be proud of.
When technology builds relationships with customers, value happens. The future of PR and branding is about using technology to effect personalization in online communications.
PR and communicators have to change their approach to using the tools. Move away from the pursuit of vanity metrics and get to better understand your audience in order to meet their needs. Brian added, “We need to multiscreen. Success is about getting another person’s perspective and adding it to your own. Empathy is the secret to success.”
The only direct path to PR success is through people and relationships and providing value. “Value changes over time with new technologies and media,” said Brian. “Experience with customers is built through value and relationships. You have to market through experiences.” That means build value, strengthen relationships, and gain experience.
What do you think?