Thursday, December 27, 2007

LinkedIn Revisited

It has taken me nearly three years to become a junkie.

I first wrote about corporate social networking in April 2005 when I evaluated LinkedIn, Ryze and Jigsaw Data for their value as sales tools. At the time I concluded they had potential to facilitate networking, yet in no way could they replace the time and energy needed to cultivate meaningful business connections.

People do business with, invest in, work for or partner with companies they know and trust. Public relations establishes the connection and confers credibility. However, it doesn’t replace the bind of a personal relationship. This belief became the foundation of Strategic Communications Group’s (Strategic) Network of Relationships®, a proprietary business community for sales, recruitment, partnerships and teaming alliances.

In time, I began to receive invites each month from respected contacts inviting me to join their LinkedIn Network. The invites increased in number and frequency. Click…click…click, I accepted. I even sent out a few invites to new business prospects I had already met with and had an interest in representing. Click…click…click, they accepted.

My network comprised of my contacts and their contacts grew dramatically. LinkedIn began to introduce new features, such as a daily update of who in my network added contacts, a list of who viewed my profile, and an overview who is hiring and for what position. Rather than merely a tool to facilitate networking, LinkedIn evolved to become a source for market intelligence.

Then, the kicker: in December LinkedIn announced a partnership with BusinessWeek ( that will allow readers to connect with the people and businesses featured in the stories. The agreement represents the convergence of traditional and social media that will help make public relations results more measurable.

At Strategic, we’re now exploring ways to integrate LinkedIn with our business processes, including:

1. Helping clients develop LinkedIn profiles for their subject matter experts to maximize the impact of our media campaigns. We also plan on incorporating these profiles into press releases, op-eds, white papers and other content generated for clients.

2. Conducting rapid surveys to test a client’s positioning or messaging, prior to launching a campaign.

3. Leveraging the collective size and impact of our combined LinkedIn network to identify potential hires.

While I remain true to my conviction about the unequaled impact of a personal relationship, the value of a social networking site such as LinkedIn will continue to increase.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

CEOs Talk PR

It is no secret corporate initiatives that lack management support are destined to flame out. That’s why visibility in the C-suite for public relations activities is so critical. This awareness is especially important with the CEO, who sets the company’s strategic direction and typically works with the CFO to approve the allocation of resources.

Many CEOs find a proactive public relations campaign to be a “nice to have”, rather than a driver of growth. It’s understandable as the ROI can be fuzzy. However, it’s important for the CEO to recognize the increased awareness and third-party credibility generated from public relations creates an environment in which a company can be more successful executing its plan. Ultimately, people do business with, work for, invest in and partner with companies they know and trust. PR is about building know and trust.

For corporate communications professionals and their agency partners, an ongoing dialogue with the CEO is a must. It ensures the program is in line with the direction of the business while continually sharing with the CEO the results and return delivered to the company.

Recently, PR Week magazine ( in partnership with Burson Marsteller polled 144 CEOs on their views about public relations. The results were interesting:

  • More than 85 percent believe it is important for the CEO to be perceived as an influencer in their respective industry, as well as with internal audiences.
  • Public relations was most often cited by CEOs for its positive impact on: brand awareness, monitoring and enhancing corporate reputation, and increasing sales. Surprisingly, categories rarely identified as benefiting from a PR program were enhancing corporate valuation and attracting talent.
  • The PR activities CEOs most often engage in include: speaking at conferences, meeting and talking with industry and financial analysts, conducting media interviews, and authoring op-eds or bylined articles.
  • Only 37 percent said writing a blog was a worthwhile PR activity.
  • Fortune magazine is the most influential media as its 100 Best Companies to Work For and Most Admired Companies ranked tops on the CEO wish list.