Thoughts from SMPR: Part 1—This Isn’t Rocket Science

Mature Businessman at lectern outdoors, holding microphone and documentsI had the rather unexpected honor of being a panelist at the recent SMPR event at Social Media Week New York for a discussion about social media use among agencies and client initiatives. The panel, hosted by my good friends Elliot Schimel and David Teicher, was a compilation of bright young minds discussing how their various agencies integrate social media initiatives within other client work.

I say “unexpected honor” because I was not initially slated to speak on this panel. Having shown up about 30 minutes before the panel started, I was chatting with Elliot and David about various social media topics of the day and the panel itself, and Elliot was kind enough to extend to me an invitation to be on the panel after someone had been forced to drop out earlier (great thanks to you, Elliot, as this was a tremendous event, and a terrific pleasure to be a part of).

Each panelist went through their various discussions and back-and-forths about how they integrate social media activities into client work. Below is the first of my two main points that I discussed (I’ll save my other main point for next week, as it can be an entire post by itself.):

PR Isn’t Rocket Science . . . It’s Mostly Common Sense

That single statement has basically defined my entire career, in terms of how I think of the work I do and what steps I take, and advise others to take, to achieve great outreach, engagement and brand awareness results for companies. A great mentor of mine, Daniel Newton, who is now the Sports Information Director at Lindenwood University in St. Louis, said this to me when I was still an undergrad working in the Truman State Athletics Media Relations Office.

Daniel’s point was basically that what we do—no matter what form of PR work we are doing (media relations, public advocacy, sports, agency, online community engagement, etc.) isn’t nearly as complicated as people in the business often try to make it out to be. And we shouldn’t try to make it all that difficult. Being communicators, and trying to get others talking, writing and being passionate advocates about our companies and brands shouldn’t be all that difficult either. We’re humans—that’s what we do. We talk. We write. We talk about what interests us.

When I said this at SMPR, I prefaced it with something along the lines of “I’m really not trying to offend anyone by saying this . . .” because I know a few people in PR don’t believe this. They want to think that what we do in this business is terribly complicated and deserves the utmost respect. The latter part I agree with because we’re all professionals, we have experience and expertise and most of us do damn good work enhancing brands and connecting them with their target audiences. But this isn’t rocket science. Let’s not forget that.

And apparently, my statement resonated with at least a few people in the business, as this Tumblr post from “aaannnaaa” demonstrates. (And hey, aaannnaaa if you’re out there, THANKS!)

So, that brings the inevitable question: Who agrees with that statement? Better yet, who disagrees with me? How would you change around what I said?

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