Monday, March 19, 2007

Pondering PR 2.0

First of all, I readily confess that calling this ‘PR 2.0’ is a shameless grab at some of the Web 2.0 hype. But ‘Next-Gen’ was taken by the gamers and, besides, there *is* a little bit of Social Media, AJAX and RSS involved here. So, please read on…

Some recent conversations with investors and serial entrepreneurs, coupled with a launch project that Rocket Science just completed, have convinced me that the practice public relations is poised for a change. And it’s not just because of the bloggers; there’s Metcalfe’s network effect at work as well.

Indeed, for the past couple of years we have welcomed the bloggers but we’ve pitched them as just another medium. Wrong! What has changed is the number of bloggers has grown and bloggers started blogging other blogs, so the ability for the blogosphere to push your message to every corner of the earth is now astounding. Have you ever been in the middle of a blog storm? Or been named on Slashdot? I have, and you’d be surprised how much it causes the telephone to ring. We have to respect this trend as a whole new animal.

Here’s a case example: Rocket Science recently conceived and organized a business plan competition called Web2Mobile sponsored by the Government of Finland and Nokia. To promote the competition we tapped the entrepreneur social networks and called upon nine of my blogger friends to engage in dialog and spread the word if they saw fit. In less than six weeks we had 14,388 unique visitors to the competition site and served 2,184 downloads of the entry form to places as far away as New Zealand and Afghanistan. That’s 340 people per day, and none of the traditional media ever picked up the story. It’s not just that we pitched the bloggers; we set in motion a chain of influential, grass-roots conversations that grew exponentially.

So... is PR still about getting that trophy article in the Wall Street Journal or getting that product review in C/net? Often yes, but sometimes no. I believe that technology is now allowing PR to head back to its roots – back to personal relationships, informative dialog, and engaging the accidental influencers. I'd love to hear your comments. -Mark Addison

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