Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakenridge have some great advice in PR 2.0: Putting the public back in public relations. I’ve taken it to heart by coming up with my top ten ways to utterly fail at public relations in today’s world of social media.
10. Invest your entire budget on the latest technology so you have nothing left for staff time or training to put the tools to strategic use.
9. Automate as much of your content as possible so you never have to worry about visiting all those different social sites (what was that called again? Tweeter?) this way, all your sales pitches can reach as many people as possible with the click of a button.
8. Never respond to criticism or negative comments (this only stirs up trouble–plus, it’s hard.)
7. Don’t worry if the people following you on different networks are interested in your content. There is power in volume. Surely, someone somewhere will swallow your pitch.
6. Focus on producing as much content as possible at all times. With all your other systems completely automated, this should be no problem.
5. Send as many long press releases to as many recipients as you can. You want to make sure that these press releases include every detail about your products and services as possible. You should also be sure to repeat important points several times. Most people aren’t very smart.
4. Never link to a related company’s web site. That will just boost the competition.
3. Increase your follower count on social networks by setting up automated follow based on as many keywords as you can think of. Granted, you’ll soon be following millions of people, but you won’t be logging onto the actual sites ever anyway, so you don’t have to worry about the clutter. Plus, some of those people are bound to follow you back eventually
2. Measure your success by quantity, not quality. It is more important to get millions of people viewing your sales pitch than a few hundred passionate advocates posting their personal experience with your product/service to their own networks. You don’t want to lose control of your message or let them water down your perfect pitch.
1. Ignore all this social networking stuff online. It’s probably just a fad.
If you’re sensing a common theme in this list, you’re right. It seems that many professionals mistake the ease provided by social media as an excuse to mindlessly accumulate followers without putting much thought into it. This is not the case. If anything, social media requires an even more personal touch in order to be effective. People are incredibly adept at spotting mechanical responses. This is why the point is repeated over and over in Solis and Breakenridge’s book. It’s also the underlying theme in Groundswell, a book by Forrester Research execs Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff.
Small organizations like this one can put this to practice easily by finding a few key opinion leaders and learning what they want to hear from you. When you can get a sense of what type of information will be useful to your key contacts, you can start to build meaningful relationships and cultivate them.