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2011 Vocus Users Conference dissects social media

Scott Stratten, president of UnMarketing and author of "UnMarketing: Stop Marketing, Start Engaging"

Opening to record attendance in Baltimore yesterday, Vocus CEO Rick Rudman introduced the 2011 Vocus Users Conference with a joke about how PR and marketing people tend to point the fingers of blame at each other. It was funny and elicited an empathetic round of laughter from attendees. “It doesn’t matter,” said Rudman. “Impact the organization you work for. Work for them in a meaningful way.”

The lines between PR’s role and marketing’s role are being blurred by social media, Rudman noted. Various speakers were eager to get into specifics about those details. One of those speakers was Scott Stratten, president of UnMarketing. He padded onstage after Rudman wearing a white T-shirt with BACON in big red letters, jeans and flip flops. Although unshaven and casually dressed, he is, by all social media accounts, capable of influencing millions of dollars in purchasing decisions. He also knows how to make a room laugh, even at 9:50 a.m.

“Marketing are your actions, not your job titles,” said Stratten, who followed every quotable line under 140 characters with the word “tweet.” He’s passionate about getting back to the core of why we do things. “I want to punch a small panda in the face when people ask me what’s the ROI of social media,” he said. Stratten went on to complain about the state of customer service, explaining that the bar is flush with the ground. He argued that if your service was more than an inch off the ground, it was essentially considered above average. “If you realize that PR doesn’t stand for press release, you’re doing really well,” he said. “It’s relations, not spamming. Please stop the spamming.” Many people laughed. Maybe out of guilt. Definitely from the truth of his words.

Not everyone agreed with everything Stratten said, however. Although Stratten suggested scrapping a blogging plan and just blogging when you have something awesome to say, Lee Oden from Top Rank Marketing Online noted that this method doesn’t work for everyone. Top Rank has an editorial calendar from which they blog. By knowing in advance what topics they’re going to cover, they are able to maximize the blog message’s power of reach. Oden did agree with Stratten, however, that when it comes to syncing up all tweets with LinkedIn posts and Facebook updates, he’s against it. “Those are all different audiences, you don’t want to be communicating with each one in the same way,” said Oden.

Not only is this true for various social media platforms, but it’s true for pitching different traditional media outlets. At least, that’s part of the message the State of the Media panel communicated. As managing editor of magazine content with Vocus Media Research Group, I participated in this panel as a speaker. Having survived the 2007 media recession, radio, newspapers, television and magazines are seeing a stabilization of numbers and a strengthening in online branding. “Don’t think of a newspaper as a printed object,” said Dave Coates, managing editor of newspaper content at Vocus Media Research Group. “Think of it as a brand that comes with Twitter feeds, blog posts and Facebook fans.” Kyle Johnson, managing editor of radio content at Vocus Media Research Group, and I agreed, adding that journalists from all mediums are getting their news from discussions happening online.

“Get on a journalist’s radar,” said Oden earlier. “Post helpful comments on their blog postings.” As journalists and outlets are sharing their stories on Twitter, Oden and Stratton both pointed out, people in public relations are also sharing their stories on Twitter. With all this content being shared online, learning how to optimize each headline becomes even more essential. Search engine optimization, Oden stated, bypasses media channels and goes right to the consumer.

Stay tuned: Help A Reporter Out (HARO) founder Peter Shankman will talk about what it will be like in the future to get all of this information from one screen.

–Rebecca Bredholt

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