The Interactive Advertising Bureau held a leadership forum in New York this week called "User-Generated Content and Social Networking," with sessions on marketing in a "user-generated world," gaining market intelligence through social media, and one about "authenticity, transparency, and credibility."The room was full of brand managers and sales executives, ad agency professionals, and digital strategists. But a look through the attendee list reveals that not one participant was from a PR agency, and only a handful were in-house PR pros. None of the panelists was from a PR firm, and very few had in-house communications roles.
The content was, in many ways, interchangeable from the presentations you see in more communications-heavy events, such as those the Word of Mouth Marketing Association con- ducts. Online strategy and innovation are fueling enormous changes in communications, and PR is uniquely able to grasp the digital opportunity because of its comprehension of media and the many changes going on within it, its ease with targeted and local communications, and its greater ability to surrender control than paid marketing disciplines.
That's what the industry keeps saying, anyway. So, where were you? During one panel, the conversation turned to how marketers should cope with negative buzz that crops up through social networking, citing the recent Taco Bell rat problem in New York, which found life in video form online. The panelist responding chuckled and said, "Well, fortunately, I'm not a PR person." Unfortunately, very few people in the room were.
Communicators will be left behind if they do not push themselves into the mix, especially when an intellectual land grab is still going on. Failing to show up at relevant events where the likes of Unilever, Kraft, Procter & Gamble, and Pepsi are in the room is no way to win.