Brian Solis and David Merman Scott make their living preaching about the necessity to be involved in real-time communications across the web. Scott claims that social media isn’t just for sharing and socializing, it’s actually better suited to be labeled real-time media and used as a customer service tool.
I agree, with Scott especially. According to him, tomorrow is too late. Communications are moving faster and expanding quicker than ever before. But how is this accomplished? Is this even possible for small businesses with equally small budgets? How much know how and manpower will be needed to accomplish this?
1. PR practitioners will become more facilitators instead of doers
Scott talks about the need to push communication as far down the ladder as possible. Those in contact with customers should be able to communicate with (potential) customers with the same skill as the marketing and sales teams. Skilled PR companies will learn this quickly.
2. PR may never move totally in-house, but will become embedded
It’s hard to teach a company when you don’t know its culture. Real-time responses require real connections, so the old model of PR being purely outside of the company will slowly peter away. This may lead to serial client-hopping once the company “gets it” (months and years), but the tradeoff of gained knowledge will be worth it.
3. PR professionals will have to be tech-savvy, too
I’m talking about more than the ability to send an email, attach a document or operate a smartphone. There are a bevy of free or cheap real-time media monitoring tools out there and most require an involved setup but little maintenance, save analysis. PR pros, if they aren’t doing this already, need to train their clients on how to use these tools.
4. Writing skills, especially storytelling, will become ever-more valuable
While most PR pros are great with pitching, press release crafting and various other promotional-type content creation, it’s setting your client apart from the rest that’s going to win here, especially if you don’t have the advertising budget to blanket your target market with Facebook ads. These stories can be shared, added to and commented on by followers and really, who doesn’t love a good story?
5. Mobile is where it’s at
Every business owner or person responsible for customer interaction, tech-savvy or not, should be encouraged to purchase a smartphone. Whether you’re an iPhone or Android fan, tools like these give clients the ability to track what they need to without sitting down at a computer away from their business. A good PR pro will teach their clients how to best use their mobile devices.
What have you learned from dealing with client issues? Has real-time media versus social media been an issue? Does using monitoring tools even help?