“The difference between an audience and a community is which way you turn the chairs.” – Chris Brogan

 

Author, blogger and social media maven, Chris Brogan, spoke at the Web 2.0 Expo in New York City last month on the topic of conversations and the social Web. Check it out here.

 

One of the key messages I took from Chris’s short presentation was that using social media isn’t really all that different than what we’re used to doing as PR professionals or marketers.

 

To succeed, we have to become great conversation facilitators.

 

This plays right into the core strengths of PR and our proven abilities to connect messages with audiences. The challenge is … to adapt these skills in a landscape where:

 

1.    The public now talks back. (More than 200 million blogs exist right now!)

2.    News media credibility has plummeted.

 

The first was inevitable due to the rise of social media tools that gave consumers the instant ability to share opinion.

 

The second change stems from news media channels becoming increasingly more fragmented as people today place higher degrees of trust in news that aligns with their particular point-of-view and lifestyle (see Rush Limbaugh, Keith Olbermann, Jon Stewart, The Huffington Post to mommy blogs, environmental blogs, etc.).

 

So how does PR adjust to this new world order?

 

Just as Arm & Hammerrealized leveraging the core strengths of their products could make a difference when applied to other areas of the home, PR needs to leverage its natural ability to facilitate conversations in the new two-way dialogue that’s happening within our client’s communities.

 

Yes, the world of communications has changed. But the strengths that have made PR effective remain every bit as vital as before … we just need to apply them in a different way.

 

— Janet Tyler