Wednesday, February 13, 2008

PR 2.0 - it's all about Advocacy

I've been out and on the go all day, and had two industry events to attend this morning downtown. One I'll share with you here, and the second will be in my next post, probably in the morning. First up was a presentation by Weber Shandwick about how they're helping clients utilize social media, and after that I attended Mitel's analyst update event.

Pretty interesting event put on by Weber Shandwick, and this was their "inaugural power breakfast". With a promising headline like that, how could you not want to be there, right? I wanna know though, with PR folks being so media savvy, if this was a subtle reference to the venue being located in an art gallery called The Power Plant, or if I just make these crazy connections that most people don't get? Somehow I think it was the latter. Not so sure there was any grand messaging scheme behind this. I think it was more an issue of convenience. The Power Plant just happens to be one building over from WS's offices, so it's a no brainer for them to host the breakfast there. I digress...

Back to business. The event was really a showcase for Screengrab, which is WS's "Interactive, Social and Emerging Media" practice. That's a mouthful, and if you ask me, for something so hot these days, they should probably come up with something shorter and snappier. Anyhow, all the PR agencies are fast falling into line here as everyone is scrambling to make sense of this tidal wave of digital democracy the Web has opened up. With the Internet now truly mainstream, there's just an overwhelming amount of information out there, growing exponentially every day, and everyone is trying to harness it and ultimately make money along the way. I could go on and on and on, but you get the picture. Today's preso was basically WS's vision of PR 2.0 for a room full of clients, prospects, a few media types, a ton of WS people, and me - the lonely analyst. :-)

They had 2 speakers, and both were really interesting. First up was Bonin Bough, their EVP, and then David Alston, Marketing VP for Radian6. Bonin gave a really good - and thought-provoking - overview of what's going on out there and how WS is helping clients make social media work for them. David gave a run-through of Radian6, which is a social media monitoring tool developed specifically for the PR space. It's a higher-order solution for tracking how people interact with brands via social media.

There's a lot more to it than that, but suffice to say these are the types of tools necessary these days to get meaningful data out of the bottomless pit that Google has opened up. It's turning the advertising world upside down, and once reliable metrics can be established, things will get really interesting. You need to somehow measure audience reach and effect to determine advertising rates, and the Internet economy really doesn't get off the ground until that happens, and Radian6 is clearly one of these enablers. It's very early days still, but we all know big changes are coming, and this is a pretty good glimpse into what shape these changes are going to take.

A few photos courtesy of my Nokia N95 (apologies, the lighting was absolutely brutal for taking pictures)....

Bonin Bough

David Alston

Weber Shandwick's new mantra - Advocacy starts here. I like it...

Ugh - Toronto in mid-February. Without a doubt, THE dreariest time of the year. Can you really tell the difference between the land, the water and the sky? Just a pastiche of dull, drab gray. Believe it or not, though, we had blue skies by afternoon - winter will eventually run its course...


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