Geoffrey Moore, of Crossing the Chasm fame, is on the speaking circuit these days talking about the new look of enterprise IT. A key tenet of his platform is the consumerization of technology that is underway in the workplace. Guess what? The same shift is occurring in the practice of B2B public relations, and every communicator needs to understand it.
When Moore talks about workplace consumerization, he is referring to mobile devices – not just phones but smart devices that employees use to engage with co-workers or professional communities. He is referring to ad hoc networks that pop up between workgroups and dissolve as soon as a task is complete. And he’s referring to the use of pictures, video, social networks, and Twitter by employees as they seek the best tools to perform their jobs effectively.
But, Moore says, enterprise IT hasn’t actually adjusted to this trend. He sums up the disconnect as follows: “How can it be that I am so powerful as a consumer and so lame as an employee?”
Stated for communicators, it might be: “How can it be that I am so powerful as an information gatherer and so lame as an information distributor?”
Look in the Mirror
As communications professionals at a Seattle PR firm, we excel at gathering information. We monitor news through RSS, Twitter feeds, our own Facebook news feeds, LinkedIn group digests, even custom Google alerts. We receive them on our desktops, on our mobile devices, on iPads and Kindles. And it’s not just news – it’s interactive images, graphs, videos and apps.
It’s all a tailored stream of content we have each effectively diverted from the flood. And none of this activity is managed by the IT department, much less a single media organization or newswire service.
Yet how well do we utilize these same channels to distribute information to B2B audiences that would find it highly relevant? Are we like that controlling IT manager who snaps, “You can’t get your work e-mail on your personal phone”?
We shouldn’t be. Our field is being consumerized. The standard press release, issued over a newswire to reach newsrooms, where it may result in news gathering, which may result in a news story, and which may contain your unadulterated message, is no longer much of a strategy.
Content is King
Today, it is content – lots of it. Social media expert Elizabeth Sosnow says PR is becoming content, precisely delivered using different tools and packaging. It turns out these are the very tools and packaging we commonly use to consume content for ourselves for our professional work. So why shouldn’t we prepare and distribute content to professional audiences in the same fashion?
PR is no longer chained to the press release. In fact it hasn’t been for a long time. A well-executed Tweet or LinkedIn update can unleash a torrent of web traffic, brand awareness, and new relationships. A killer app tailored exactly for your target market can garner users and lots of free publicity to boot.
Not to rule out the press release. It is still a great tool for a consumerized B2B world. But today it is a release that is crafted with SEO objectives, is written with the assumption that targeted audiences will read it directly, is enhanced to allow easy sharing via social media, is infused with video and images that can also be share, and is distributed not just through a newswire but via Twitter and LinkedIn, and formatted to be consumed on a desktop or mobile device.
The point is that all of us professional communicators are also professional consumers. Despite the ease of the concept, many haven’t put it to work. That provides a huge competitive opening for anyone who is willing to put the time into it, client-side or agency-side.