Editor’s Note: I’m extremely pleased to present you with another insightful post from this year’s Reflections and Forecasts series, this time by the very talented author, professor and PR consultant, Deirdre Breakenridge!
Q: Give us a brief description of who you are and what you do.
I’m an author, entrepreneur and the CEO of Pure Performance Communications, a strategic consulting firm in the New York Metropolitan area. This year marks a big milestone for me … 25 years in PR and marketing. My career has taken me down an incredible path. I’ve authored five Financial Times Press books including my latest titles, Social Media and Public Relations: Eight New Practices for the PR Professional,” “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations,” and “PR 2.0, New Media, New Tools, New Audiences.” When I’m not working on communications plans for my clients or teaching at NYU, I enjoy speaking nationally and internationally on the topics of PR, social media and marketing. I’m also a blogger at PR Expanded, and the co-founder of #PRStudChat, a really fun and dynamic Twitter community comprised of PR professionals, educators and students.
Q: What are the biggest lessons and take-aways you’ve learned this year, when it comes to PR and the web?
For me, one of the biggest lesson and take-aways in 2013 is having access to data leads to smarter communications. I didn’t say the buzzword “Big Data” because it’s becoming so overused. When you can listen / monitor and filter data, then you can analyze it for actionable insights. When I spoke at the National Homeland Security Conference in LA this past June, I learned the interesting uses of data by emergency response professionals (police, fire, EMS, etc). Sometimes, with all of the social media communications planning and outreach we do, on behalf of our companies, we forget that data can have incredible uses for timely communication that saves lives in a community. Emergency responders look to informal communications channels, such as Twitter, to learn when people are in trouble, especially during hazardous or dangerous events, including the likes of Hurricane Sandy or the Boston Bombings. Not that marketing, PR and social media for organizations isn’t fun and interesting work. However, when you see the use of data filtered to actionable insights that keeps people safe, and prevents loss of life, well that’s a huge eye opener to the value of social communications.
Q: How do you think social media and the online world in general, will either continue to impact or begin to impact in a new way, organizations in 2014?
Social media is a game changer for businesses in so many ways from marketing communications to customer service and sales. We’re only experiencing the tip of the iceberg with respect to how people are using social media and how it’s impacting their interactions with companies today. We will continue to see how social monitoring technologies will help companies to make smarter decisions based on consumer behavior and engagement with the the brands of their choice. As a result, we’re able to pinpoint insights that can be used for market and competitive intelligence, influencer identification and relationship building, creative pitching and campaign strategy development and more innovative customer experiences. Social media allows us to truly hear the customer’s voice by sifting through their conversations. By using this information, we can engage more effectively, at different touch points, to create greater brand loyalty and more customer advocacy.
Q: What tools, channels and/or online strategies do you foresee as being the most crucial to an organization’s online reputation management in 2014?
In an age of social conversations, with a much more dynamic public, good monitoring technologies that track across the social media landscape will become imperative. Today, the professional I call the “Pre-Crisis Doctor” should be able to quickly pinpoint what starts as an issue in social media communities and neutralize the situation before it escalates to crisis proportions. These professionals look to engage at the onset of the issue and become a part of the conversation to guide the communications in a more positive direction. The key to online reputation management in 2014 will be preparedness, which not only includes your monitoring program and the tools you use, but also focuses on your social media audit, evaluation and response strategy. In addition, it will include how well you develop your overall crisis planning for your entire organization. Social media makes us rethink the targeted channels, types of messages and the format of the communication, along with who should participate. The possibility of crisis spreading rapidly through the social channels (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.) has professionals thinking ahead to prevent, manage and protect the brand’s reputation.
* Full disclosure: the links to Deirdre’s must-read books above are affiliate links.