12 September 2008

I Learned Social Media From a Kung Fu Master

I've seen a lot of discussion from smart people lately over the definition of Public Relations in the social media age, over which corporate department the "social media function" should reside, and even the very definition of social media.

With due respect to everyone, I think these discussions unnecessarily limit our profession. As social media professionals, our job is to go where the discussion is, whatever form it takes, and contribute to it in whatever manner serves it. Our job (or at least my job) is to become a part of the community we wish to influence on behalf of clients, and build relationships in whatever way works best.

I don't care what people call it. I don't care what department or division it's in. I don't care what people think is or isn't "appropriate" for social media. I don't care if it's online or off. All I care about is engaging in meaningful discussions and building relationships with opinion leaders on behalf of clients, and nurturing those relationships so they bear fruit. Every client is different, every challenge is different, every community is different.

My "style" of public relations, of social media, is to have no style. In social media, my teacher is Bruce Lee.

To reach the masses, some sort of big organization (whether) domestic and foreign branch affiliation, is not necessary. To reach the growing number of students, some sort of pre-conformed set must be established as standards for the branch to follow. As a result all members will be conditioned according to the prescribed system. Many will probably end up as a prisoner of a systematized drill.

Styles tend to not only separate men - because they have their own doctrines and then the doctrine became the gospel truth that you cannot change. But if you do not have a style, if you just say: Well, here I am as a human being, how can I express myself totally and completely? Now, that way you won't create a style, because style is a crystallization. That way, it's a process of continuing growth.

To me totality is very important in sparring. Many styles claim this totality. They say that they can cope with all types of attacks; that their structures cover all the possible lines and angles, and are capable of retaliation from all angles and lines. If this is true, then how did all the different styles come about? If they are in totality, why do some use only the straight lines, others the round lines, some only kicks, and why do still others who want to be different just flap and flick their hands? To me a system that clings to one small aspect of combat is actually in bondage.

This statement expresses my feelings perfectly: 'In memory of a once fluid man, crammed and distorted by the classical mess.'
I do not have an off-the-shelf solution for your social media challenge. I do not sell tools. I do not call what I do "PR" or "marketing" or anything else. It is what it is.

In the course of my career in social media I've been called "the mommyblog whisperer." I've been called a "green tweeter." I've been called a "citizen journalist." While these may be indications that I've joined a community in some way, and they make me smile, none of these labels define my work. I adapt to the situation at hand, and do what I must. Again, I quote the master:
Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way round or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend.

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