Friday, March 26, 2010

Changing the Game: Move Your Social Media Plan from Conservative to Advocacy

Despite the proliferation of social media tools, evangelists and thousands of column inches on why you should, how you should and what you should be doing in social media, there is still a prevailing group who haven’t jumped in. How can this be? Aren’t all public relations practitioners advocating the latest and greatest in their organizations?

The answer is probably yes, followed by a long sigh. If you have been unsuccessful or are meeting resistance in moving social media off the “to do list” and into the daily fabric of your organization, you are not alone. And you probably need encouragement and tools to help you along your way.

One great resource for public relations practitioners is Ike Pigott, Communications Strategist for Alabama Power. Ike was in exactly the same spot more than a year ago and devised a great approach for taking a conservative corporate culture and moving into a social media advocacy role.
Using an analogy that follows the Pacman game (surely you remember the Pacman game!), Ike’s Pacman Paradigm…and social media for that matter….are likened to game theory. First you need to know the lay of the land – the boundaries and rules and objectives. Next you need to know where you stand – know your map, know the enemy, know the escape routes.

Ike’s presentation at the recent Ragan Coca-Cola Conference opened avenues for many PR practitioners. He offered five qualities that a social media advocate needs to make change happen in their organization. You must be patient, analytical, creative, mentoring and nimble. (if you spell out the first letter, it spells Pacman!).

Here is Ike’s best piece of advice about making change.

“One of the biggest barriers to communicating these tools is language,” Pigott said in a recent interview. “Much of what people do in social media is emergent, and not easy to describe. That’s why the networks have such silly-sounding names, and that gets in the way of being taken seriously.”

There are lots of emerging examples of what not to do when starting social media strategies in your organization. Pigott takes an example from Hollywood.

“You don’t want to end up like Tim Robbins’ character in The Hudsucker Proxy – running around with a goofy smile and a picture of a circle, and shouting ‘It’s for kids!’ When the time is right, you need to approach others with a solution to a problem, a better way to reach their existing goals. Once they feel like there’s a tangible result from which they could benefit, you’ll have their attention long enough to explain just what that circle really is.”

If you’d like to connect with Ike, he’d be happy to share his journey. You can connect with Ike on e-mail at: , on Twitter or on his blog.

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