When I came across the criteria for the SobCon2010 “Blog it, Earn it”contest via Liz Strauss and Terry Starbucker, I was elated with not only the fact that I could win and all expense paid trip to SobCon2010, but more importantly that I could address how a person online has made a difference in my life; how they’ve made my life easier, better, smarter, more productive and more meaningful.
There are a lot of people online (and off) that make a difference in my life because of the content they share, the conversations we have, and the connections we make, but rarely do I articulate in writing how these people have impacted my daily life (I try to tell them all in person).
While there are many, I want to share one that has and continues to make difference. That person is Brian Solis. Note: I could have written about this without the incentive of winning a trip, but being a relatively new blogger, I wasn’t prepared to write a random post about why I have a purely professional crush on Brian . The following is why I dig Brian:
As a young public relations practitioner that has a knack for establishing mutually beneficial relationships between an audience and its publics in a more human relational way, I believe Brian truly encapsulates and demonstrates superior insight and knowledge to the discipline of marketing communications and far beyond.
Upon entering my first agency job I took a lot in, as is to be expected. I love public relations and the foundation upon which it was built, but in the agency setting I found myself at times wondering why PR could seem so impersonal and contrived. My capstone project in college had addressed the question of how social networks were impacting the public relations industry, so naturally I began to gravitate to the online marketing group’s side of business in the agency (where social media was housed). The unfortunate thing about the agency was that the synchronicity between practice groups was more of a fight than a collaborative effort. Who owned the social media piece of an account (PR or online marketing) or who got hours seemed more of a priority than getting down to business and developing sound strategies of how to provide clients with the best means to reach the folks they were trying to reach.
During this time I began to read Brian Solis’ blog then called PR 2.0, now called Defining the Convergence of Media and Influence. Additionally, I got my hands on “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations,” a phenomenal book coauthored by he and Deirdre Breakenridge.
Brian’s thought leadership surrounding communications and how technology and new media are profoundly influencing a firmly rooted discipline(s) has fascinated me since discovery. Brian has a very simple way of articulating some very difficult things. Essentially, he has managed to take existing silos and present ideas, concepts and realities that are influential in breaking those silos down or at the very least allow people to look horizontally through them, instead of just vertical.
Finding his content and position early in my career has given me confidence in my view of the public relations profession, which is that PR is far more than news releases, media relations and getting someone to write a story that reflects your client in a positive light for the sake of it, even when that may not be the case (a one-way dialogue between an organization and its publics). It’s more about truly connecting a group of people to an entity for the right reasons and can be done in a really personable way instead of the old oiled and typical public relations engine, which at times may be nothing more than a relationship with a reporter or follow protocol that in my humble opinion is a small piece of the true PR puzzle. Among my favorite posts from him are those concerned with the Conversation Prism. The idea that “I hear you. I’m listening to you. I understand you,” as a means to create a community for your entity instead of the illusion of such.
I’m not saying that traditional means are not important or profound in their own right. Without our foundation, the new could not exist. What I am saying is that there are far better ways to connect people to what they need and what will make them loyal to your client, company, etc. that serve everyone better, and yes, will probably require more work (a two-way dialogue). It is this that makes me so excited about public relations and communications.
Brian’s contribution has allowed my excitement about things such as this to grow, given me the tools to be a better practitioner, brought me cutting edge approaches to a field I love and ultimately the inspiration to continue on my path. I thank Brian for helping me be a better, smarter, more productive practitioner by the content he shares and the hard work he does to produce this content. It certainly makes the PR discipline more meaningful to me.
Brian does a really great job making himself accessible to interested parties, despite being very busy all the time. He responds to his blog comments, tweets back and forth and engages with a lot of people regularly (basically, he practices what he preaches). It’s nice to know that if ever I had a PR 2.0 challenge, I could ping him and he’d do what he could to help out (I don’t know that this will ever happen because he writes about everything before it becomes a problem – for me).
I was lucky enough to meet Brian for a small second and exchange a hug at Blogworld/New Media Expo in 2009. I hope to have a better chunk of time with him someday to chat about his evolution through this discipline, life and what’s next – really just get to know him a bit.
I look forward to his new book, “Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web,” which hits stands any day now and can be pre-ordered over at Amazon.
Thanks to Liz Strauss and Terry Starbucker for presenting the opportunity to chat about how Brian’s contributions have impacted my life. Hope to see you at SobCon2010!