January 20, 2010

The persuasive storytellers

Today it was my pleasure to guest lecture two classes of PR students at Toronto’s Humber College. To say the least, I was impressed about the extent to which these bright and engaging students have a contemporary command of the forces of change shaping the future of public relations. Here’s a copy of my presentation deck:

  1. I’ve always been extremely skeptical of the media for the exact reasons you state in your earlier slides. This skepticism permeates throughout my daily activities as well such as shopping. I rarely ever purchase a product because of some TV ad or some blatant (or invisible) pr/marketing campaign. I always look for and trust peer reviews on multiple sites and make my own judgments.

    But your slides about PR pros creating “conversations” and crowdsourcing startled me. I thought, “nooo, this should be off limits to peers and consumers only!” But then again I realized that tools like crowdsourcing help consumers in more ways than not.

    A perfect example is Mozille Firefox. I’ve been a Firefox user for the past 2 years now and I love it not only because of performance but for its constant maintenance. Mozilla uses crowdsourcing to improve its products and the results show. Every time I encounter a problem with Firefox I can count on Firefox to notify me with an program update the following day (sometimes even hours).

    I agree with your points about creating conversations and such. The benefits are clear but there also needs to be some boundaries. I feel like consumers today have only the internet as a trusted source for news, products, and general information.

  2. Bob thanks for coming out today to speak to our post graduate level PR students.

    I know that we will come back to your presentation to see how you have touched upon many of the areas of intersection between social media and Public Relations that we will explore in the course over the coming months.

    I was delighted when you turned to slide seven, “PR is all in the mind,” because in our previous class we had introduced Al Rises & Jack Trouts’ idea of “Positioning” and you even repeated the “Avis is No.2, but we try harder.” classic example that I had used to answer a question a day earlier.

    We will also cover the idea that unlimited publishing space on the world wide web and the power of search engines like Google mean that in addition to the cognitive goals of positioning, PR encompasses the goal of developing a positive digital footprint … something that I have termed memetic branding.

    From page 33 of my “Introducing Social Capital Value Add” ebook …

    “Market positioning is a cognitive goal, a theory now thoroughly adopted by marketing professionals that was introduced in 1969 by Jack Trout and Al Ries. Since humans cope with overwhelming technology, change and information flow (including brand noise, the proliferation of thousands of brands) by sublimating almost everything we encounter upon reception; we have come to understand brand’s role as beacon. Brand signals that “ah-ha!” moment when a consumer remembers a product’s name or previous messages that have been associated with it.

    Traditional brand management is still critical where space is tight. Broadcast media as yet, dominate the market communications mix. Packaging and product design are key in store and on shelf.

    However in a networked world, the symbolic brand’s mission of distillation is contrary to the ambition of findability. The ultimate goal of the memetic brand is network omnipresence. Within the Individual as Medium (I.A.M.) paradigm, spreading your corporate presence as positively and widely as possible is a key objective. Understanding the environmental cues within as many idea habitats (i.e. context) as possible and their supporting network infrastructure are the methods of achieving this. Syndication of your corporate and product
    presence can be instigated by corporations and their agencies, but they must activate I.A.M. through social networks to achieve maximum reach and that activation is a function of social capital. On the World Wide Web we are describing a large digital footprint embedded with favourable references and links.

    Unlike brand content distributed over a broadcast network, brand content on the web has greater residual effects. It is permanently stored for retrieval and when generated by I.A.M. it has an associated geography, thus eliminating the distance between the so called “virtual” and real worlds. A corporation’s real world social network positioning and the disposition of idea habitats are just as important as traditional marketing positioning.”

    I would be grateful if you visited http://www.memeticbrand.com to help develop these ideas.


  3. Congratulations on being appointed CEO of BM! I enjoyed your lecture and thanks for the book recommendations!

  4. Thank you again for taking the time to come and share you vast knowledge with us at Humber PR. Your experiences were very valuable to hear about and it gave us an interesting perspective through which to consider all that we are learning. The creativity and innovation that you demonstrated with the case you presented in Japan left us with many insights. All the best in your new position.

  5. Caterina Ventrella on April 8, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    As a HumberPR student, I was fortunate enough to witness this presentation. The semester started the second week of January, and to be honest I really didn’t know how fortunate I was at the time when you presented just a few weeks in.

    You spoke of storytelling, persuasion and narratives. At the time this meant nothing. But now…over two months in the program this means everything. In everything I do in school, I’m consistently looking for a story to attach to something. And even outside of school, I’m trying to pin point the underlying narrative in all the news I see and here. Many thanks.