Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Social Media - PR's Great Opportunity

This is my first blog. I've been avoiding this posting for several weeks and my reasons are good. What if I don't have anything meaningful to say? Or what if I violate "the rules"? This whole world of social media is scary stuff when you've hit your fourth decade and you feel sandwiched between what feels comfortable, and what you need to know.

To help remedy my deficiency, I decided to participate in an after-work presentation called Social Media - PR's Great Opportunity, sponsored by my local chapter of IABC. The speaker was Joe Thornley, a guy from a PR company in Ottawa called Thornley Fallis. After defining social media, he introduced us to his Social Media Presence on his blog, Twitter,, Dopplr, Flickr, youTube, Tumblr and of course, Facebook. The introduction to these sites was interesting at best, but how much of my time were they really worth?

As Thornley began to demonstrate how people have applied these tools to inform, convey or persuade, an internal "urgency alarm" sounded inside. Here are some examples:
  • Michael Geist, a columnist from Ottawa mobilized a Facebook Group of 40,000 people and thwarted the introduction of a copyright bill that could have been a sell-out to US and lobbyist demands.
  • Eager to find the latest stats on the number of active blogs and posts on the web each day, Thornley posted a question on Twitter and within minutes received the information he was looking for.
  • One-third of all Canadians now have a Facebook account. Using their advertising feature, I can instantly target people within my demographic to promote my company's training programs.
  • is my favorite tool, and the one I use most. (My handle is seedgirl). When I need information I use the search feature and "connect" with people who have similar interests. I seem to find a lot of research quickly, and I get information that I don't find with google. It also allows me to sort bookmarks so I can access information quickly. Thornley - the PR Guy - made a credible connection with a Globe & Mail writer using this tool.
We had the vision for what Social Media could do, but how do you get started, and what are the risks? The first thing to remember - this is a medium about trust, transparency, authenticity and generosity. If you fake it, you'll be found out.

And the risks? By putting your thoughts out there, you are inviting input and you need to be open to public criticism - not everyone is going to agree with you. (Gulp.) You will make mistakes and people will know what you do, and where to find you.

I encourage you to see Joe Thornley speak if the opportunity presents itself. The value I gained in less than an hour was not so much the information, but the courage to act, and write a posting for this blog. Now it's your turn. Respond and then consider becoming a contributing author.

Social Media Resources:

Books - Cluetrain Manifesto, Naked Conversations and The New Rules of Marketing and PR.

Hear Joe Thornley's colleagues speak at the Social Media Summit Canada.

For a powerpoint copy of Thornley's presentation, feel free to email me at crenner (at) juiceinc (dot) com.

Crista Renner was at Mount Saint Vincent from 1986-1988. Currently she resides in Guelph, Ontario where she is a founding partner of Juice Inc., a consulting company that works with organizations to energize employees through more effective conversations.

If you are interested in being a contributing author to this blog, please leave a comment and we will be in touch!


MSVU Toronto Alum said...

Thanks Crista!

Great post. It is that easy folks. Everyone can rest easy, Crista has saved you. I withdraw my threat to come over to you house. But renew my request to you to get involved and make a post.

Joe is great guy. A leading evangelist for social media in Canada. I hope you said hi for me?

Radical Trust is another great Canadian blog on social media and this story of how Facebook helped an artist win a Juno is more evidence

MSVU Toronto Alum said...

ahhh, correction, get nominated for a juno ...

Redbeard said...

Crista, excellent first posting. Good for you. I mentioned you and linked to you on my blog: Redbeard Marketing

Steve Dawkins said...

Really good piece - great for an old folk like me - thanks, Crista.