I've been too busy lately to do much of anything in social media. And yet, there have been a number of posts that I've had a chance to read that have made me think about how important it is for communicators to know their audience and understand communities. Here are a few of them.
Hope Jahren, What I learned from #ManicureMonday. Dr. Jahren posted this just before Thanksgiving last year, and I've referred to it a number of times in work and in presentations. To me this is a case study of what happens when communities clash over content. I wasn't simply struck by Dr. Jahren's reaction - I was surprised that Seventeen Magazine chose not to engage at all. I see it as an opportunity lost.
Matt Shipman, Can Public Relations be Science Communication? Spoiler alert: yes. Matt's just one of those guys who gets it. He articulates a beef I've had with science communication from the day I got interested in it. Science communicators want to expand their audience but do very little to know this "new" audience. For the most part, they think tactically and not strategically. This isn't hard: identify your audience, ask them what they want, and give it to them.
Liz Gumbinner, 22 PR pitches that were too fun to send to spam. Talk about not knowing your audience. Liz takes this with good humor, but I think it speaks to how the PR industry still doesn't treat bloggers - or blogger outreach - with the respect and professionalism it demands. We've been talking about this for years.
Karen Russell, Teaching PR. This isn't a specific post, but I think Dr. Russell is the best curator of PR content in the field. This is the first place I go to find something topical and get up to speed on my profession. I've pulled together Twitter lists of practitioners and specialists and refined them over three years, and I still can't put together the feed she has.
Cristen Clark, #FarmtoPork Blogger Tour. The #FarmToPork project was my most memorable work from 2014. Everything about it was fascinating. A historically conservative industry committed an act of "radical transparency" directly with a priority audience. I'm thankful for all the posts the bloggers wrote about this tour, but I chose Cristen's because she had a unique perspective. As an online mom AND a farm blogger, she bridged the gap between the two communities. The conversations she had with other bloggers behind the scenes were the most valuable and enlightening. To me, this is what represents the essence of public relations and communications today: the nexus of transparency, credibility, accessibility, and emotion.
Andy Herald, New More Relatable Superheroes. Sometimes my job also gives me the opportunity to meet new people and experience different ideas. Fatherhood is filled with challenges and fathers react to challenges with a range of emotions. And yet while I've seen some fathers react online with anger or spite, Andy reacts with humor. I've never seen Andy use humor to "punch down." I'm Andy's audience and he knows his audience. This may seem goofy but he's where I go to find my fatherhood zen.