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Jeremiah Owyang on outsourcing community management

25 Aug

A couple of years ago I predicted that internal employees at companies would have fully taken over social media’s front lines by now, and agencies would be in a purely strategic and advisory role. As web strategist Jeremiah Owyang observes in his post Trend: Some Community Management Activities to be Outsourced, I was wrong — in large part, I believe, because of the current economic situation. Internal resources are evaporating, and companies need outside help more than ever.

(There’s a lively discussion of the topic in the comments on Jeremiah’s Google+.)

This new landscape, where agency staff are increasingly called on to be the public face and voice of brands online, is going to change our relationships with our clients and their audiences. If this is going to work we’re going to need to behave as full partners rather than service providers. And a lot of folks who never imagined that their job descriptions would include community management are going to have to become experts, fast.

As someone who helped manage an unruly online community of passionate creative weirdos in the early aughts, I offer a piece of advice to start out with: Even though a brand’s logo may sit on top of a community, it does not own that community — its members do. And at some point, they’re going to take a turn that you didn’t expect. Invest time and effort now into building up mutual trust and respect, because you’ll need it on that day.

Game Reviews: Don’t Take It Personally

17 Jun

Cross-posted from the Weber Shandwick Seattle blog.

This week, game blogs and Twitter are buzzing about an incident that illustrates the tension that sometimes exists between PR professionals and reviewers. Earlier this week, the Redner Group, which had been promoting 2K Games’ new first-person shooter Duke Nukem Forever, was the target of backlash over a tweet that the agency posted saying:

“#AlwaysBetOnDuke too many went too far with their reviews…we r reviewing who gets games next time and who doesn’t based on today’s venom.”

The tweet was removed, but after  Ars Technica wrote about the tweet and subsequent apology, other high profile outlets picked up the story. Shortly thereafter, 2K Games announced that it “does not endorse the comments made by Jim Redner and we can confirm that The Redner Group no longer represents our products. We have always maintained a mutually-respectful working relationship with the press and do not condone his actions in any way.”

In his apology, Jim Redner was honest and to the point, taking full responsibility for his actions:

“I have to apologize to the community. I acted out of pure emotion. I will be sending each of you a private apology.”

If you have any experience with game reviews, whether by professional publications or player feedback left on message forums, you will probably understand the emotions that drove Redner to make the statement he did. As advocates for our clients and their products, we (hopefully) bring passion and commitment to our work. It’s easy to get emotionally invested in the success of a campaign and become frustrated when some things don’t go as we had hoped.

Reviewers also bring passion and commitment to their work. Sometimes they passionately hate a game; and they are committed to telling their readers just how much they hate it, because it’s their responsibility to help those readers make decisions about which games to buy.

What can agencies learn from these events? I can think of a few key takeaways for any PR pros involved with engaging game reviewers:

  • Reviewers are entitled to their honest opinions, however much they may sting.
  • Judging from the blog posts and tweets by game reviewers slamming the PR industry, it’s clear that they aren’t feeling the love from us; to change this, we need to put extra effort into our working relationships with them so they see us as a valued resource instead of a necessary evil. (Or perhaps merely evil.)
  • If you get emotional when reviewers don’t deliver the results you’d hoped for, step away from Twitter.

Blogging in the Public Interest: PRSA Puget Sound wine and cheese social tonight

25 May

PRSA Puget Sound logoI’ll be on the other side of the table tonight, as a panelist at the PRSA Puget Sound wine and cheese social. Our topic is “Blogging in the Public Interest”.

My esteemed co-panelists will be  Matt Rosenberg, executive director of Public Eye Northwest, and Katie McCarthy, senior media relations consultant for Group Health Cooperative. Perhaps you’ll attend?

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