City has 'patchwork' approach to social media, says Bell Pottinger's Greg Wood

The City's approach to using social media is a "patchwork" and "less advanced" than the US, according to Bell Pottinger partner and former broadcast journalist Greg Wood.

Greg Wood: The City will need to adapt
Greg Wood: The City will need to adapt

Wood, also formerly director of group media relations at Centrica, was asked at a Bell Pottinger seminar last night whether the City will need to adapt to the new digital media landscape.

"Undoubtedly," he replied. "I think it’s interesting that you see quite a patchwork in terms of how social and digital media savvy the City is."

He contrasted the situation with that in the US, where companies can now post their results on Facebook and Twitter.

"There’s obviously a realisation that some of your most important stakeholders, your shareholders, are active on social and digital media and you can communicate in that sort of way with them. I think here in the UK we are less advanced."

Wood highlighted the "wide variation" in how the investor community uses social media in UK, with investor relations directors and analysts "among the least advanced" in how they approach them.

He warned: "We’re beginning to see lots of institutional investors use social media quite actively and quite effectively, so it really is a patchwork and I think the City will need to adapt."

During the seminar at Bell Pottinger’s London HQ, which looked at digital’s role in b2b comms, there were divergent views about how well traditional media outlets had adapted to the challenges of social media.

"It’s quite clear they do not know how to respond and they’re struggling," said Paul Miller, head of digital at Veulio.

He pointed to the pressure on journalists to market their work via social channels and the pressure to respond to comments. Linked to cutbacks by publishing companies, this has helped create a "depressed environment", Miller stated.

However, Wood said traditional news outlets are "very active on social media", adding that companies "still take traditional media far more seriously".

He gave the example of when British Gas announced a price rise during his time at Centrica. The CEO Sam Laidlaw had a lot of abuse on social media, but of much greater impact was his depiction as a lightbulb on the front page of the Mirror, Wood pointed out.

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