PR Pros: Will you Blend?

I attended the PRSA/IABC half day conference in Salt Lake City. It’s a first for me because I’m not a PR pro. But I find a natural home in PR because I believe the industry needs online marketing. It’s no longer something that specialists do – it’s part of the domain of PR. The lines are blurring so each is a blend of the other.

As David Henderson pointed out in his presentation with a dramatic image of ships falling off the ocean, the industry is at the edge and are hurling towards a huge drop. There is urgency to learning how to work faster and to use tools to help publish and share information in real time. The world is moving quickly on.

Journalists and those in the media are now expected not only to create but to publish and promote content. Just like online marketers. We’re being judged by the same sort of criteria – time on site, links, search engine rankings. When I go to my industry conferences we’ve beat that drum almost too much but in PR it’s still relevant.

So I’m very curious to listen to the comments and get a gauge of where people are in all of this. How engaged they are with social media, if they are partnering with online marketing agencies or bringing new talent into their agency.

As an example, Blendtec’s Kels Goodman was there talking about their wildly successful viral marketing campaign. At least 8 people had never seen (and maybe never heard of) a “Will it Blend?” video. This is surprising because this is one of the most important and successful online marketing campaigns in history. It’s a text book example and regularly cited in books and articles. It was made when YouTube was new (2006). And it’s in our own back yard – a privately owned Utah company. I lived a mile or so from them and had a good friend who worked there. This story is a triumph and it did have a financial impact eventually – but not in predictable ways.

The problem is despite our client’s wishes we can’t make something go viral. Most ideas won’t be. We lose a bit of control (being authentic demands it) and most of all we take risks. We connect dots and hope for success. This is not business as usual and we’re all on the roller coaster ride together. We can choose – either have fun or scream our heads off.

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