Social Networks and PR: Extending the Net

By Jordan Chanofsky, CEO

I thought I would follow up on Bob Geller’s post from last week, “Social Networking and Media Relations.”

An extension of this topic is moving from one-to-one friending to broader engagement that allows one to tap into the wider network made up of friends of friends, friends of friends of friends, ad infinitum. Whereas one-to-one friending draws on some basic rules about “traditional relationships” that we’ve witnessed growing up, larger questions remain for using networks that include reporters or using “a friend of a friend” to make an approach.

For example, one might consider putting out a media-related question on the network that is really designed to apply only to a small percentage of the contact list but is general enough that anyone could be interested, i.e. “is anyone interested in information on the fastest car that runs green?” or more literally “if you’re a reporter and would like information on such an such, please contact me.” Closer to home, one might consider using an immediate contact list (generally not exceeding two degrees of separation) to be able to reach out to a reporter by suggesting that because he/she is a friend of your friend that it’s somehow more comfortable or appropriate to make the connection. A social connection that is borderline today might be completely comfortable next year.

That’s part of the appeal and the challenge. Before, there was someone that you could ask about protocol, a trusted source, from whom you were certain to get an answer. It would be difficult to find such people these days and even if there were, their opinions would only be as valuable as the day or month in which they were offered.

So, I suggest that the rules of engagement with reporters, much as the rules of friending, will not be universal but instead driven by what works in specific contact groups; some will advocate certain styles and rules that will be fundamentally different than others. The PR practitioner will have to understand as many of these micro societies as possible or rely on people in each one to help understand the rules of engagement in their space. Seems like it’s ‘about the people for the people’ all over again. Or should I say, there are no privileged frames of reference that apply to all social media circles.

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