I'm composing this blog en route to Washington, DC and a PR News speaking gig. My subject, like most of those on Tuesday's docket, concerns social media.
But I, unlike my fellow presenters, plan on saying something quite different. Rather than droning on about the latest new bell or whistle, or extolling Web 2.0's many virtues, I'll instead be warning about the threats inherent in social media. And, the threats I'll be discussing have nothing to do with crisis communications.
Social media is rapidly becoming a crutch for agency and client executives alike. We recently queried 12 top chief marketing officers and heads of corporate communications to ask two questions: a) how were they demonstrating leadership within the organization? and b) how were they helping to uncover new markets and revenue streams? Eleven out of 12 highlighted social media as the answer to both questions.
Internally, intranets and group e-mails are being used to keep employees informed and aware. Externally, PR pros are engaging in dialogue with all sorts of target groups on Facebook, blogs, etc.
But, only one executive indicated that he took the time for face-to-face meetings (or, F-to-F, as erstwhile Ketchum Chairman Dave Drobis calls it) with employees, customers and prospects.
By meeting face-to-face with employees, this respondent says he was able to connect the dots between what senior management was doing externally (launching new products, etc.) and what they were saying and doing internally (across-the-board freeze on wage and salary increases).
By meeting face-to-face with customers and prospects, this enlightened corporate executive could personally research "the new normal" and update his organization's sales and marketing strategies accordingly.
PR pros are flunking F-to-F communications because we've become over dependent on social media. It's a big, big problem that simply isn't being discussed. And, I guarantee 99 percent of the PR News audience won't do one thing differently after they listen to my remarks. Why? Because F-to-F is a whole lot harder than banging away on a keypad and hitting the send button.