What if you brought together one the best-regarded thought leaders in communications and social media with one of the funniest cartoonists?
You get a very thoughtful little book with big ideas about people and relationships online and how PR plays a critical role in bringing the two together. And you’d be smiling while you read it and reflect on public relations in the digital age.
Welcome to “What if PR stood for people & relationships? A manifesto for building relationships in the digital era” written by Brian Solis and wonderfully illustrated by Hugh MacLeod. Sponsored by Vocus, the book captures PR’s dilemma today and where it needs to be tomorrow.
I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of the book to review. But maybe “book” isn’t the right description?
It’s more like a thoughtful little Transmedia tale or a multimedia fable you won’t put down and won’t stop smiling at until you reach the end of it.
Humanity becomes the “killer app” in social media
It’s not a “slow” book. It’s a fast read and designed for the digital age of course. At its heart, it carries simple messages about the digital world and how people and relationships matter more than technology.
Sometimes it’s hard to forget that, writes Solis:
“Humanity becomes the killer app. Relationships built upon a foundation of reciprocity and loyalty are your rewards.”
Solis makes a heartfelt plea for more human nature than technology and automation. He reminds us that, at the heart of things, what matters most is how much heart you have in the PR and social marketing game.
“Describe how someone might talk about you when you’re not in the room. There’s your plan. Keep it simple.”
We’re drowning in technology and without balancing our communication with heart, we risk just adding to the noise, sounding like everyone else and drowning in a sea of content marketing.
Why is a technology company sending an anti-technology message?
So why did technology leader Vocus sponsor a book cautioning about an attitude of technology-only?
“We decided to produce a wide variety of content, from blogs and white papers to premium forms of content like our annual conference and this e-book from Brian, which is our second pairing with Gapingvoid this year,” says Breeanna Straessle, Director of Corporate Communications at Vocus.
She says they picked the multimedia format to reach communicators visually whether they read the book on their smart phone, tablet or desktop.
“We think it’s more of a ‘use tech strategically’ message,” she adds. “As an industry, we need to always keep relationships at the forefront of our efforts. Tools help build relationships; they do not replace them.”
Solis says we also need to make every word, every picture, every story matter as we reach out to people with technology:
“Make your work count…every word, every image, every story, every product. Make it talk to and through people. Doing so brings people together. Coming together forms communities. Communities can change the world. Imagine that!”
Of course, there has to be a return on the investment in relationships. That’s also a challenge for PR people in the digital age. Measurement matters to your business and to your CEO. Without it, social media is just noise:
“If an Infographic Is Published and No One Shares It, Did It Even Exist?
“Infographics are the new press release. Native advertising is the new corporate journalism. Snapchats are What if PR stood for people & relationships?the new Instagram. Vines are the new YouTube videos. Instagram’s Hyperlapse is the new Vine.
See the pattern? There’s always the next thing. The question is, so what? It’s how you use these platforms that define your brand. It’s how you engage people and inspire them to do something after engagement that defines your legacy. Live your brand as your customers do. Let them, in turn, bring your brand to life in ways that inspire you. Technology should be invisible.”
Solis concludes with a challenge for PR people:
“That’s what this is all about… PR = People + Relationships. In the end, people matter. Relationships matter. You matter. Technology only helps you reinforce this message.”
I like Brian Solis’ message a lot. It’s easy for us to get caught up in shiny new technology. It’s a reminder PR and social media pros should take to heart.
Author: Jeff Domansky
Visuals: Vocus, illustrated by GapingVoid