Michelle Sullivan Communications

The Shel Holtz Report

Last night, Montreal had the pleasure of welcoming Shel Holtz to its monthly 3e mardi Third Tuesday event. Shel’s an interesting speaker and a good storyteller. His talk about the role social media … particularly blogging … can play within and beyond the walls of a corporation is certainly timely in a market such as ours, where agencies and CEOs are starting to explore social media strategies.

One story that stuck with me is the following :

On my walk home from elementary school back in the early 1960s, I frequently stopped at the corner liquor store and bought a one-cent Bazooka bubble gum. The gum was usually great (unless it had gone all hard), but what I really wanted was the Bazooka Joe comic that came with it. One of those comics has stuck with me all these years later. I can’t say why, but it has. In that strip, Joe is walking down the street at night when he encounters a fellow on his hands and knees under a street lamp.

  • “What are you looking for?” Joe asks.
  • “A quarter,” the character says.
  • “Where’d you lose it?” Joe queries.
  • “Across the street,” comes the reply.
  • “Why are you looking here?” Joe wonders.
  • The fellow answers, “The light’s better.”

The insistence that organizations cannot embrace social media for one reason or another is the equivalent of looking for the quarter where the light’s better : Companies prefer the comfort of message control over the messiness of conversation.

Source : Shel Holtz

Shel’s point is well taken. It’s certainly not by ignoring conversations that happen online that they don’t exist. Companies need to, at minimum, be monitoring what’s being said about them using tools like Google Alerts, and talking about whether a more direct use of social media tools for internal or external communications might not be appropriate.

We’d take notice if things were written about us in the paper, wouldn’t we? Why not consider keeping an eye out for what’s being said … and archived … online? After all, Google has a long memory.

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