Over the past few months, a new communication tool called Twitter has been gaining momentum. And some PR and media pros feel the PR community ought to think about using it for clients.
Twitter, also described as microblogging, brings together the worlds of instant messaging, social networking, and wireless communication by allowing people to send short messages about what they're doing via their computers or cell phones. The messages are limited to only 140 characters, but a user can send as many messages as they want. Recipients indicate if they wish to be alerted by a text message on their cell phone or an IM on their computer when their friends post a new message.
Presidential hopeful John Edwards is currently using Twitter to update his constituents on his daily activities and campaign platforms.
Robert Scoble, VP, media development at PodTech.net, says Twitter is a great relationship-builder.
"PR is relationships with influencers, and PR pros want relationships with influencers, whether it's a kid in Australia who has five readers, or a New York Times reader with 2 million readers," he says. "You can't [differentiate] anymore between those two people. You have to understand what makes them tick. Twitter can allow you to do that."
Andrew Foote, account supervisor and head of PepperDigital at Peppercom, says Twitter also can be used as a polling device.
"Someone can send out a quick question and find out in minutes if the idea is good or bad from their group [and people in the Twitter community]," he says.
Foote says Twitter could also be used by brands as a tool to update consumers or the media on new product launches or online sweepstakes. But if a company is going to use it for such a purpose, it needs to differentiate Twitter messages from standard press-release jargon.
"People appreciate messages that have value," Foote says. "If you're regurgitating standard press-release stuff, people aren't going to care."
Twitter users are early adopter, high-influence people that blog a lot
Media properties like The New York Times have set up Twitter pages posting headlines of breaking news with a link to the story
Twitter users are expected to send about 2.5 million messages this month