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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Mesh07: Edelman's PR advice applied to Enterprise 2.0

Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman, the worlds largest independent public relations (PR) firm kicked things off this morning at Mesh 07. I am not a PR person myself but his insight can be applied to any enterprise looking at adopting Web 2.0 technologies (i.e. Enterprise 2.0) such as blogging, and social forums. Here are some of his comments and my corporate view to them.

"Don't leave the whole conversation up to the opposition."

You may be bold enough to introduce corporate blogging but how would you respond if you started receiving several extremely negative comments? Some "purists" would argue that you must never "govern" these comments. Personally, I believe that if a comment is inappropriate and adds little to the conversation, it should be removed. Definitely, Techcrunch personality, Mike Arrington was upfront with the audience yesterday in saying that he regularly re-edits his comments after-the-fact.

At a minimum, you SHOULD provide the counter arguments and support for your blog. Being accepting of criticism doesn't mean just hiding until the bombing subsides. Your supporters will be looking for your support and want to hear your side of the story.

Another important point... THINK before you blog or crowdsource. For example, providing an opportunity for anyone to create a commercial for the Chevy Tahoe in a climate where there is heavy evangelism over environmentalism isn't the wisest move. For those who know the story, several "creative" people took up the offer from GM but created attack ads that put the Tahoe in a very negative environmental light. Perhaps another communication medium would have been better.

"There is a trade-off between Control and Credibility"

Edelman suggested middle management would be a good place to start blogging. He talked to the Microsoft example in which Robert Scoble, gained credibility by being transparent and genuine as illustrated in his public attack on his own company. In the long-run, Microsoft may have benefited from letting Scoble's opinion flow instead of shutting down the conversation.

Another example was the Dove campaign on YouTube, "In search of real beauty". The Dove brand rose considerably with this transparent approach.

In the end, Edelman gave 3 points of advice.

1. Make your stories visual. Go beyond the words.

2. Don’t let yourself be defeated by set backs. You will fall a few times.

3. Don’t let clients put you in a box. Stand your ground.

This was just the kick-off. No Doubt you will see many more blogs coming out of Mesh 07!

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