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Former Financial Times reporter Tom Foremski wrote on his blog about a conversation he had with a PR veteran who believed she was qualified to advise clients about social media even though she doesn’t actually participate in any social media communities herself.
His view is that you cannot know enough about social media by reading about it to provide adequate counsel to a paying client — it is something you really have to experience to fully understand. I couldn’t agree with him more. There is but one way to understand social media and that is to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.
Today most PR and marketing agencies claim to have expertise in this arena — and many of them actually do. Fortunately, this experience is easy to verify — it’s all just a few mouse clicks away. If you are looking to hire an agency to help you with your social media strategy, you owe it to yourself to do a little digging. Check up on the members of the team your potential agency is proposing. It doesn’t take long to figure out who is an active member of the community and who’s a poser, wannabe or tourist. If they are on Twitter, do they actually Tweet? If they have a blog, how often do they post? How’s the content? If they are on Facebook, do they have a lot of friends? When is the last time they posted something? Even if it is just pictures of their cat or a link to some funny video it shows that they understand the medium and how the community works — and that is important.