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February 21, 2012
by Matthew Broder
VP, External Communications
Twitter: @ctwordsmith
I have always been a big believer in professional development, but the landscape for marketing and communications is changing so fast that even the most devoted self-improvers are having a hard time keeping pace.
 
In that spirit, I made the cross-country flight to San Francisco last week for the one-day Digital PR Summit, hosted by the smarties at PR News. The social media landscape is richer than ever, but there’s nothing like a face-to-face confab with your peers to feel like you’ve had your full social media checkup.
 
Here are three lessons that I absorbed and think others should, too.
 
Quality, not quantity. Kudos to Chris Lagan of the U.S. Coast Guard who said, “Ten thousand brand ambassadors is better than a million bystanders.” There is nothing wrong with social media channels as a way to amplify your brand conversations, but the real payoff is in creating exciting, engaged co-participants in your brand experience. In Chris’s case, he hit upon the brilliant idea of an Oscars-like competition for video of U.S. Coast Guard rescue operations, with voters deciding the winner. You can see the results on YouTube here. Bravo!
 
Don’t Monitor, Listen. Wise counsel from Dave Kerpen of Likeable Media, who quipped: “Monitoring is what the FBI does; brands should listen.” The deep listening that social media enables can have surprising consequences. By careful listening, Rosetta Stone, the foreign-language instruction company, came to understand that for one segment of their customers, learning a new language wasn’t their goal at all: their goal was to keep their mind active and stave off Alzheimer’s disease. Are your customers sending you signals that you might have missed?
 
There is no Substitute for Authentic Creativity. I was blown away by the talk from Priya Shah of SquareTrade Inc, a company that sells warranties for cell phones and other personal electronics. As Priya herself said, it’s an unsexy, boring industry. But she didn’t let that stop her from creating a viral video that has more than 11 million views on YouTube, and that drove measurable business for the company. Her secret: blend an authentic point of view with valuable information and a sly sense of humor. Inspiring.
 
Thanks to the folks at PR News for an outstanding event. If you’d like more insights from this rich event, scan the #prnews hashtag on Twitter. You’ll be glad you did.