The New Influencers: a Marketer's Guide to the New Social Media. Solid book on the new social media, particularly for marketers, PR people and others in the communications profession trying to find their way. It could almost be a followup to ClueTrain Manifesto from a few years ago--but without the hard hitting edge (that took many swipes at the PR profession). This book describes how many marketers and PR folks are trying to make the switch into the new social media world. It's not a smooth transition. These people come out of a world where it's all about controlling the message, filtering every word, and focusing on pitching select media, led by a handful of big names like the Wall St. Journal, BusinessWeek and Fortune on the business print side. I'll talk more about the whole book later (I'm almost finished), but one of my favorite sections is entitled "Putting "Public" Back into Public Relations." Author Paul Gillin talks about the evolution away from the old days of courting and wining and dining reporters, to a new era of connecting with bloggers, podcasters, even directly with their audiences. The world has certainly changed, "Today a news story in a major newspaper may begin as a blog discussion or a viral e-mail thread that takes on a life of its own." There's a lightning rod statement on page 127, where he quotes Larry Weber, who runs his own integrated marketing company, and believes that companies are at a turning point, "one in which businesses have the opportunity to break out of their traditional roles as message makers and become legitimate publishers."
This is huge.
Imagine companies like Cisco, Intel, GE, and Walmart for that matter--and not to mention thousands of small fries--as publishing houses. And why not? They have tons of content, experts in some many areas and the motivation to get their word out. Until now, communications or "PR" has always been a one-way, linear street with companies relying on armies of PR forces to "pitch" the media and hope they write about it. Now if this new paradigm takes shape, the companies will publish through blogs, forums, podcasts, etc. and begin acting like media distributors. The biggest roadblock is mental, trying to get people to think proactively. That may take awhile, and of course, there are plenty of other roadblocks--will people really accept a GM-based study on auto safety or technology? Maybe not, but companies will need to try. PR and marketing are long overdue for an overhaul.
More on the book later..