Finding Value in Participation

Hold on tight. That breeze you are feeling is being created by the thousands of people leaving the subscriber rolls of traditional dailies as they start using aggregators and tools like Google News to select and identify their own news. No longer content to let the Associated Press and the New York Times define what is newsworthy, these individuals are heading straight to the web. With RSS they can pull your news releases directly into their mailbox or reader and respond to or publish your news faster than any major communications company has ever been able to put things on a printed page. These so-called citizen journalists are the powerful force behind the growing blogosphere.

Having felt the changing winds of social media while working in a Web 2.0 world, business owners and PR professionals alike are feeling pressured to respond. But I’m finding that more often than not these same pros are faced with some level of uncertainty as to how and where to get their feet wet. When I bring up the subject of blogging with clients and prospects most respond that they don’t have time for that level of commitment or lack something to say. My friend Sherry Heyl, founder of Empowering Concepts and social media consultant extraordinaire, is quick to point out that the one doesn’t need a blog to contribute to the blogosphere. Instead, she has helped me explain to my clients the value of participation.

Just today I rec’d a link to an article from a client that was spot on his message. “How can we take advantage of this?” he asked. We could certainly compose a similarly-subjected press release but as the stats in the reports were already old news the immediate opportunity for him was simply to comment on the post, thereby sharing his expertise with an already-interested market and possibly cultivating a relationship with the authority who had published the piece. The value in that relationship? This new media reporter might reach out to my client in the future as “a subject matter expert” or better yet, allow him to appear as a “guest columnist.” Suddenly my client who didn’t have time for social media has recognized “participation” as his gateway.

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