From the frontline of the PR revolutionMarch 25, 2010
The revolution started that day in 1995 when a pony-tailed entrepreneur met me at the front door of a former train station and pointed to a server, sitting under a table in his inner office. “Every time that red light flickers,” he said referring to the hard disk drive, “I make a little money.”
The pony tail belonged to Jason Olim, who, along with his brother Matthew, founded CDNOW. He was an early pioneer of e-commerce and online music sales, and a guy who was well before his time and the market.
I had the privilege of working with Jason as CDNOW grew, and in return, he rewarded Gregory FCA with a shout out in his book, “The CDNOW Story,” when he thanked us not only for the national exposure, but also for the storytelling — the ability to position a brand-new company, a brand-new industry, inside a single paragraph.
And so began the digital revolution in my life for a guy who started working in communications on an IBM Selectric typewriter, which quickly gave way to a Kaypro, then an IBM PCjr, up until today, as I sit on a waiting list for the iPad.
What began back then continues today, as public relations undergoes tremendous change and evolution. If you had walked with me over the past 10 days as I met with Fortune 500 companies and their marketing people, one point stands clear: Human communications is undergoing a maelstrom of change that will have a greater impact than the telephone, and more meaning than radio and TV combined.
Here at Gregory FCA, we’re staying on the crest of that wave, helping clients better understand its implications. That’s why we’re bringing seven members of the national media to Philadelphia, so they can share with all of us how digital communications is changing the landscape of media, news, and storytelling. You can register online for our Art of News and Storytelling in the Age of Social and Digital Media event.
Our corporate brethren are turning to us because we were among the first to unravel the mystery of social media and put its power to work for our clients — not on islands of their own, but as fully integrated external communications and public relations programs.
For Alpha Software, that meant using the power of blogging and social engagement to dominate a single search term on Google and drive untold traffic to their sales team. For Lansinoh Laboratories, a leading consumer brand for nursing products and education, we constructed a mommy media program that relies on both traditional media and social media to speak directly to new moms where they live, online while tending to their children or working full time at their desks.
It has been an intense, chaotic ride that only now is coming into focus, and only now gives us the foundation to share what we’re talking about to our clients and the line of corporate marketers who want to learn more. Here’s just some of the latest and greatest that has excited and captivated these audiences.
Social media is meaningless if there is no corporate objective. Gregory FCA starts by understanding what a company wants to accomplish, and then reverse engineers the process to develop the tools needed to achieve the desired ends. In other words, a Facebook fan page isn’t social media. It’s a shot in the dark, if it’s not integrated into a corporate strategy against real objectives.
Think like a writer, sell like a publisher. After Conoco, I worked as a freelance writer for SUCCESS and other business magazines, supporting my family on a per word basis. Back then, I learned from editors such as Michael Warshaw, Richard Poe, and Scott DeGarmo on how to show and not tell. How to use facts to move a story forward, and most importantly, how to get the hell of out of the way of a story so the reader could best appreciate it. And from publishers? They taught me that great content always finds audiences, and where there is an audience, there is commerce.
The printing press of today is the technical platform of the Internet. Back then, marketers and writers didn’t concern themselves with the print shop. Now we need to realize that Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, and the other flavors of the month are only means to an end. They are important in the delivery, but only tools in the process, and not the final objective.
So comrades, the revolution continues. Bloody? Perhaps. Gruesome? In parts. But exhilarating. More than enough to get us out of bed in the morning and run like the wind to take that hill.