Question-Based PR: A New Paradigm
It is by now well-established that standing on a soapbox and yelling at the public does not work.
It does not make people trust you.
Even if you're Winston Churchill.
So what does work, now?
The answer used to be "reliance on influencers."
But, to take just one example, polls show that people don't trust journalists like they used to.
It's been happening for awhile.
Not the least because the line between selling (marketing) and telling (journalism) has drastically blurred. (Note: the photo below is only used for the purpose of conceptual representation and dose not reflect any commentary about the actual people in it.)
What does work is organic social media.
Meaning, comments from people who are sharing a genuine point of view.
Overwhelmingly, the trust numbers favor real talk by real people.
How can you take advantage of this new paradigm if you're building a brand?
Among other things, you can simply find out what questions people have, and answer them.
For this purpose I like Quora a lot.
But I'm still not sure how to use it.
I think it is potentially a way to be "real" with one's audience.
But it is also rife with risk for exploitation, for being ruined.
One can as easily succeed as fail by being perceived as a corporate or government shill.
The basic best practices of public relations haven't changed, really.
Tell the truth, earn the people's trust and as such become a credible information ambassador.
But the means are shifting like sand under our feet.
We can look at the trends and establish a way forward.
Remembering that whatever we do and whoever we represent, we have to tread carefully.
All opinions are my own and do not represent those of my agency or the U.S. federal government as a whole. Main (bird) photo by Matthias Ripp via Flickr. Other photos via Wikimedia Commons, including Winston Churchill and journalist with subject.