Friendship and the PR Agency Professional

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In a relationship-based service business like public relations, it’s inevitable that agency-client relationships often become friendships. As PR agency professionals, being successful requires us to not only really understand our clients’ businesses, but our client contacts’ motivations, aspirations, challenges, etc. The best PR strategies take all of this into consideration.

Though everyone’s busy lives makes it tougher to schedule, a good agency-client relationship often involves cocktails, dinner and entertainment.  It’s these occasions, as well as the day-to-day work and late nights managing crises, when the bonds of friendship are born.

One of my oldest friendships started as an agency-client relationship back in the mid-1990s. We did some outstanding, award-winning work together and really got to know each other.  Over the past 18 years, we’ve watched each other’s careers and families grow.  Though we haven’t done any work together in more than six years, we both know the possibility of doing so again may be just around the corner.  It will happen when it’s time — and even if it doesn’t, that’s okay too.

Friends help each other – in many different ways.  One thing that many clients often forget — we PR agency types often hear about job possibilities (and organizational restructurings) before they become public knowledge.

One of the most important qualities in friendship is loyalty.  A good agency person is loyal to his client (and vice versa!).

Like any friendship, agency-client relationships will have their ups and downs.  And there might be legitimate reasons for the commercial side of the relationship to come to a close.  But, underlying it all, if there’s friendship, even the bumps in the road will be manageable.  Because we like each other and respect each other.

And, if we really have affection for one another, great things can happen.

Social Media for Commercial Real Estate

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Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to present at the BOMA 2011 International Conference & The Every Building Show at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The topic? Devising and Executing a Social Media Program: A BOMA/Chicago Case Study.

Over the course of two sessions, Edward M. Bury, APR, BOMA/Chicago’s director of marketing and communications, and I shared strategic and tactical advice to commercial real estate executives mulling over the now seemingly “age old” question: can social media work for me and my building/organization/company?

While social media isn’t necessarily appropriate for all industries and companies, it’s at least worth investigating. The following is a step-by-step to getting started. Reputation Partners deployed a similar social media strategy as we helped BOMA/Chicago launch their social networking presence (including the organization’s new blog, The Elevator Speech).

Step 1. Listen
If someone in the marketplace was talking about your company or brand, wouldn’t you want to listen to their conversation? Actively monitoring social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube gives you an opportunity to gauge how your industry, competitors and key stakeholders are utilizing these channels. It’s also key to determining how your company can differentiate its voice amid all the social media chatter.

Step 2. Assess Vehicles
There’s a common misconception that you need to be on every social networking channel to be successful. This is far from accurate. For example, if your target audiences aren’t actively using Twitter, it’s probably not the right vehicle for your company. Consider your overarching communications objectives and how these different vehicles can help you meet these goals. Also consider the staff allocation and support needed to manage these vehicles on a daily basis.

Step 3. Launch and Market
Before you formally launch your social network presence, it’s important to populate the vehicles with content (pictures, video, status updates, etc.) before you officially “go-live.”  This will give new followers an immediate opportunity to view and react to content. Once you’ve launched, it’s equally important to market your social networking presence. Emails, newsletters, website and email signatures, as example, are all effective ways you can spread the word.

Step 4. Engage, Monitor & Track Value
This is the final – and most important – step in the process. There’s one catch: this step never ends.

Engage with your followers and create a dialogue about important developments in your industry. Ask questions. Share opinions.  Interact with people/companies that are both familiar and unfamiliar to you. Build goodwill by congratulating/commending others. Hint: if you’re constantly talking about yourself and your company, you’re probably not engaging enough.

Monitor these sites consistently. They are like small children; never leave them alone unattended for an extended period of time.  Effective monitoring will also aid in both reactive and proactive engagement with others.

As you manage and grow your company’s social networking presence, continually track the value it’s bringing. While quantitative measurement is important, we also make sure to evaluate key items such as: are we engaging with the right influencers? Has this increased awareness about the brand? Is this supporting our overarching communications strategy and goals?

While social media isn’t the solution to all of your corporate communications and marketing needs, it’s an effective tool when used thoughtfully. Based on the turnout at BOMA 2011, we’re encouraged to see that the commercial real estate industry is beginning to embrace the power of social media.

 

 

 
 
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