Michelle Sullivan Communications

Mirador : entrevue avec Louis Choquette

Je l’avais manquée, celle là. Vous aussi peut-être, donc ça vaut, selon moi, la peine d’en parler. Mieux vaut tard que jamais.

Entrevue René Homier-Roy avec le réalisateur de Mirador, Louis Choquette, diffusée sur les ondes de Radio Canada le 14 mai dernier.

Quelques extraits:

Une allégorie ludique du monde des relations publiques, qui prend vraiment une importance fondamentale dans notre société. (LC)

Cet univers là, des relations publiques, de la manipulation de l’opinion publique en général, je pense que c’est assez important d’en parler. (LC)
Oui. (R H-R)

Ces gens là exercent un métier, j’sais pas, périleux .. pis en termes d’ethique aussi très très dangereux. Vous vous situez où, vous, vis-à-vis ça. Est-ce que vous êtes d’accord? Est-ce que vous auriez-vous fait ça dans la vie comme job, être dans les relations publiques? (R H-R)
Ben … euh .. oof .. difficilement, je crois. (LC)

Si on n’a pas une espèce de système de valeurs, si il n’y a pas une question ethique derrière tout ça, on est en droit de se poser de grandes questions. (LC)
Ben c’est sur! C’est parfois des cover-ups c’est choses là. C’est très souvent… (R H-R)
C’est très souvent. Ça peut aller jusque là. (LC)

On ne pointe personne du doigt, évidemment, ni une compagnie ni un individu (LC)
Est-ce qu’il y a des gens qui vont se reconnaître quand même? (R H-R)
Peut-être … (LC)

La SQPRP lance officiellement son nouveau site web. Je cherche toujours le code de déontologie de l’association qui existe, je vous en assure. Il me semble qu’on pourrait le mettre en évidence, à la page d’accueil. Question de s’aider. Quand même.

Je cherche une salle avec écran géant pour la première de Mirador. J’espère que vous accepterez de vous joindre à moi, afin qu’on puisse regarder ça ensemble et en discuter sur-le-champ. À suivre.

MAJ: J’ai enfin trouvé le code de déontologie de la SQPRP sur leur site. Dans la section ‘Devenir membre’. Je me trompe peut-être, mais il me semble qu’on devrait également parler à un public externe.

MAJ: Retrouvez facilement les billets traitant la question de Mirador dans ce blogue : http://michellesullivan.ca/?s=mirador

Summer reading series: iPressroom’s 2009 Digital Readiness Report

My summer reading series continues with newly released survey results by iPressroom:

Online Communications Skills Employers Want and Candidates Need in Today’s PR and Marketing Job Market

This report provides insights into the specific strategic and tactical digital communications skills that employers are seeking from public relations and marketing job candidates. The research report is intended to help public relations, corporate communications and marketing professionals better understand and appreciate how organizations are integrating online communications into their business practices, and what online communication skills they need to acquire to be competitive in today’s job market.

While I think this report needs to emphasize more strongly than simply in the intro letter that it is the result of a survey of social-media interested companies (the results reflect that, I think), I am pleased to see that within these companies, PR seems to have the lead as far as social media strategy goes. IMHO, past history and general PR tenets tell me that this is where social media belongs. Not that I’m biased or anything 😉

Young professionals considering PR take heed: social media is quickly becoming a must-have on your CV (and I mean your Google CV, not your I’m-stretching-the-truth-about-everything-in-2-pages-or-less CV). Even if the heads of PR firms may be technosaurs, they expect the younger generation to be on top of their game, in order to fill this gap. If you’re a 21-year old PR prospect and not well versed in social media, you’re in trouble. Time to step it up, my friends.

How do I know this to be true, even for the Quebec market, where social media practice is still playing catch up?

In Montreal PR firms, bilingualism is almost always listed as a must-have on job postings. I know of more than one unlingual (French) PR consultant who landed a job despite lacking this requirement. Why? Because he/she had some knowledge of social media. Does social media trump English in Quebec as a second language of choice? Now let’s not all get up in arms. I’m not saying that … Recent hiring practices, however? Mebbe.

Take my advice: when a journalist or blogger vents, listen.

Aurelie Alaume is completely right. The capacity to listen is definitely an important quality for any PR practitioner to master. Luckily for us, never has listening been easier than in the age of social media. So let’s get into the habit of it. When someone vents about us and our industry, let’s pay attention.

The following blogs are in my Google reader and, presuming you’re a media relations practitioner interested in being effective and successful, should be in yours as well:

Pro PR Tips – this blog by tech and business journalist Rafe Needleman (currently editor at CNET) is a list of very practical short and sweet words of wisdom to PR types. Needleman’s project started on Twitter before moving to the blog and even to an online book format.  Listen to Sam Whitmore’s interview with Rafe here.

Dear PR Flack: rants about bad PR pitches by bloggers. Maybe if we all follow their advice and pleas for better practices, they’ll change the name of their blog and start writing about sunflowers and puppy dogs (we can only dream). Trust me, it will be painful to read through these blog posts, particularly if you’re guilty of having done something similar or if you care anything at all about our industry’s reputation. Some blog post titles that stick out like a sore thumb (literally) include ‘Amateur’ does not mean ‘gullible sucker’ and How’s the glass house? I have to say, this one personally resonates with me (you know who you are). For those of you who are as masochistic as I am, the Dear PR Flack’s pleasure-pain experience continues on Twitter.

The Bad Pitch Blog: the grandfather of blogs in this category. Founders Richard Laermer and Kevin Dugan have been ranting about bad pitches and demanding that PR elevates itself to new levels since January 2006. Hat tip to the masters of the form. Sign up for Wednesday’s « Bad Pitch Night School (during the day) » teleseminar here.

Of course, not everyone appreciates the feedback. Let’s play a little game. See if you can spot what’s wrong with this blog post about Dear PR Flack and how it can explain why feathers were ruffled. Deservedly so.

These blogs and Twitter feeds all represent generosity at its best. Free advice from the people you’re trying to reach to help you do your job better. Take my advice. Pay attention.

Top 10 qualities of a PR practitioner in the digital age

Remember back in high school? When the guidance counselor had you take a personality test and then announced with great authority that you should become a ‘teacher, journalist, lawyer or communicator’ ? Looking around at my peers, I can definitely spot some common traits.

But what does it take to do PR in the digital age? Here’s my top ten list of qualities a PR practitioner must have to successfully make the transition from traditional PR to new PR:

1. Intellectual curiosity. If you’re the type of practitioner who is satisfied with what has been tried and tested, and who isn’t naturally inclined to check out new ways of thinking about and doing PR, you may want to step aside and let someone else run your client’s social media campaign. Social media isn’t about tools. It isn’t Twitter or Facebook, but what the popularity of Twitter and Facebook have to say about how people want to communicate, share and learn. It’s about a new mentality and new expectations. Right now, social media is still the Wild West. Anything can happen. Scary? Depends on your personality.

2. Passion. The advent of social media represents a new era for PR and the way in which it is practiced. This should excite you, and your significant other and friends should either find your enthusiasm contagious or start to complain that you’re sounding like a broken record. If you’re not passionate about how you spend a significant part of your day, not only is social media likely not for you, you may want to start thinking about a new career. Life’s too short and our industry’s reputation needs passionate advocates.

3. Dedication. Taking the social media plunge doesn’t mean staying in the wading pool and splashing a bit of water around. It means diving in to the deep end. It means getting wet. Very wet. It means knowing what a blog is, by blogging. What a podcast is, by podcasting. What an online community is, by becoming part of one. It doesn’t have to be a PR blog or a PR community. If you’re nervous about swimming with your peers, then check out the pool of fellow scrapbooking, cycling, photography or Sherlock Holmes fanatics.  If you’re going to add social media to your box of tricks, then commit to it fully. If not, outsource, because you’re better off working with someone who does.

4. Integrity, authenticity and transparency. In the world of social media, there is a code to live by. Transgress this code by putting up a fake blog, for example, and not only will your client suffer the wrath of the public once the subterfuge is uncovered, your own reputation will take a hit. No one likes a fake. It’s just lame. Any future endeavours will automatically be considered suspect.  Flogs are the clearest indication that your PR philosophy remains old school. Be real. Be straightforward. Don’t play games or try to manipulate. Be confident in who you are, and in the value of the message, product or service your client has hired you to communicate, or walk away.

5. Humility. There is no such thing as a social media expert, just yet. All leaders in the space have wisely, and firmly, refused the crown. Anyone who claims to be one is delusional, self-aggrandizing or a liar. The space changes too quickly. We’re gaining competence, but true expertise remains elusive. So why bother pretending? Ask questions, solicit advice, get help. Work with like-minded peers and the community you’re reaching out to for feedback and advice. Read their tweets, blogs and books, listen to their podcasts. Comment and call in. Engage them at the next networking opportunity or online.

6. Generosity. This is the flipside of #5. Share your discoveries and learnings with your peers. Do someone .. even a competitor .. a favour. You’ve made a mistake? Humility will have you admit it. Generosity will have you share it with others so that they can avoid the same pitfall. Do it in the interest of raising industry standards. In the spirit of Akoha, play it forward. Such goodwill will come back to you in spades.

7. A touch of geekiness, or at the very least a desire to learn about tech. While you can hire people to help you with the technical side of social media, a basic understanding of things like RSS, iTunes subscriptions, WordPress, sound editing and website navigation can go a long way towards helping you help your clients. If you ignore the nitty gritty and only spend time on the theoretical, you won’t feel as though you have a complete handle on the tools you’re proposing that your client leverage in his next social media campaign. You won’t appreciate their complexity, or the time and effort involved in their implementation. There’s no way around it: to sell something well, you need to understand it. Only then will you understand its potential and limitations and be in a position to intelligently counsel your clients. Go ahead. Get your hands dirty. Trust me, it’s fun.

8. Respectfulness and courteousness. No one owes you or your client anything. Apply the Golden Rule, and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Need examples? End pitch-blasting. Instead, take the time to know the journalists and bloggers in your field of interest. Know what they write/talk about. Know if they’re receptive to hearing from PR consultants and, if so, know the best way to reach them. If they prefer Twitter, tweet. It also means always taking the high road. Remember that there is a human being behind each blog or newspaper article. It is your job to engage that person appropriately. A little « savoir-vivre » takes you far in life, both online and off.

9. Ability to embrace a service mentality. Journalists have high praise for PR practitioners who are effective and efficient, who serve as resources even when they’re not running campaigns and who apply the effort required to support requests and, perhaps, even anticipate them. Similarly, experienced bloggers are already pleading with PR types not to waste their time with poorly targeted pitches that clearly show that they haven’t even bothered to get to know them or their blog. A good PR practioner aims to serve both his client and the traditional or social media person he or she is working with. We need to keep our ear to the ground, do our research, know our stuff and develop and share our network even when there’s no immediate or apparent payoff.

10. Ability to embrace change. As PR practitioners, we are known as guard dogs when in reality we should be known as facilitators.  Once you’ve gotten a handle on the reality of social media, you’ll realize that our industry’s guard dog days are over. Stop deluding yourselves. Controlling the message is an outdated PR imperative which, in the real world, has officially been relegated to the past thanks in large part to the growth of social media. Don’t become an anachronism. Embrace the future.

There you have it. My first top 10 list. Anything different come to mind? I want to hear what you’d add to the mix.

Ma session à PodCamp Montréal : panel sur les RP et les blogues

Ceux qui n’ont pas pu se déplacer vers PodCamp Montréal cette année pourront entendre les propos des membres du panel auquel j’ai été invité à participer, grâce à Simon Roy, qui anime l’émission ‘Ouèbe Musique’ chaque dimanche à CKRL MF 89,1.

« Managing the PR Beast : Building Relationships with PR Practitioners While Maintaining Credibility with Your Audience » : Kim Vallee, Rayanne Langdon, Eden Spodek et moi-même.  La session était modérée par Isolde Legare a PodCamp Montreal le 20 septembre 2008.

Vous pouvez nous écouter ici.  Merci Simon!