Don’t be a (PR) geezer
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Guest post by Jennifer Willbur (@rockstarjen)
Sarah’s recent post about the skills all PR professionals (originally focused on new pros) must have got me thinking. Her comments especially caught my attention because earlier this week, for the third time, I found myself explaining Twitter to my dear friends (all intelligent, successful marketing and PR pros).
WHY IT’S CRUCIAL WE GEEZERS (PR VETERANS) UNDERSTAND AND USE SOCIAL MEDIA
I’ve always been honest about my age. I’ll be 41 (There, I said it.) in a couple of weeks, and the majority of my friends and colleagues are younger than me by a few years. I’m a little sensitive to this (who wants to be the old broad?), but I’m not worried about being replaced or losing business because I’m not young and hip. I know my stuff, and I’m not afraid to investigate and figure out what I don’t already know. All PR and marketing industry veterans must do whatever it takes to become knowledgeable and current in today’s market.
Over the past few months, I’ve been asked by friends, colleagues and acquaintances about social media avenues; mainly Twitter. These folks are from all types of PR backgrounds – agency, corporate and consulting. Curiosity is the primary motivation for the Twitter inquiries, but I am flabbergasted by the number of times the conversation ends with people wondering how I find the time to “play” with social networks, or saying, “I need to try that one of these days.”
The answer to “One of these days” is “Now,” especially for those of us who have practiced PR for a decade or two (or more). Ask the questions, and then jump in there and figure it out.
Some of the questions you should ask yourself:
- Are you subscribing to RSS feeds from blogs that cover your interests and those of and your clients?
- Are you reading the blogs and commenting when you have insight or opinion on a post or related topic?
- Do you make your LinkedIn and Facebook profile information publicly available?
- Have you created a Twitter account, made sure your updates are unprotected, and are sharing thoughts and links and/or responding?
- Are you using all these tools daily to connect with others?
As with any new competency, learning requires some initial time investment. When I hear people say, “it’s a time sink” or “I don’t have the time,” I say, “You have to find the time.” It takes some getting used to, and you have to dedicate the necessary hands-on hours to realize the benefits and positive results. As a professional communicator, you know that education is power. You always need to know the latest and greatest ways to do the task at hand, even if at first, the problem does not make sense to you.
You might be in a comfortable position right now with an organization that is also wondering how to take part in social media, but the company is not making it a priority. How long will it be before you are in the defensive position after your competition gains traction, and how do you ensure your competitive edge if you are laid off? Having years of experience in the business likely won’t be worth much if you cannot bring in fresh ideas and do more with less. Your employer or clients, and your future, can’t afford complacency or fear of the new and unknown. Things are different now, which means YOU have to be different. If you don’t make learning social media a priority right now, you’re going to be left behind.
There are oodles of resources out there (like right here, here and here) to help you get the ball rolling. Even if you’ve been at the top of your game in PR for decades, you are falling behind if you did not answer “YES” to all five questions that I posed above.
Don’t fall in to the same category as the company I interviewed with in 1996. At the time, that firm was one of the top PR agencies in San Diego. During the interview, I couldn’t contain my excitement about what the Web meant to the future of communications. My interviewer responded with, “We’re not sure about this Internet thing. We haven’t decided if it’s something we need to do or not.” That firm shut its doors forever almost 10 years ago.
Rockstar Communications is a solo act with the strength and grace of an orchestra.Rockstar Communications is Jen Wilbur, a seasoned communications executive with more than a dozen years of experience providing strategic public relations and communications programs for consumer and technology companies. Jen Wilbur holds unique experiences spanning the agency world, small startups and Fortune 500 companies that will help Rockstar Communications learn your business quickly to efficiently and strongly create and execute the most effective PR program for your business. Follow Jen on Twitter,Facebook, LinkedIn or at Dog Beach Blog.