Last night Keith and I attended Centennial College’s Talk is Cheap 2.0 – an unconference on Social Media and PR (full disclosure – I teach at Centennial and helped organize the event). It brought together more 150 marketing and communications professionals, students and people just interested in social media for a series of thought-provoking participant-led sessions that covered the gamut from the corporate blogging policies, new technologies and how to use social media in a crisis.
Two thoughts really stood out for me this morning when I thought about the event and how it relates to what we do every day at Agito and the interrelationship between online marketing, social media and PR. One came from a discussion during the live taping of the weekly podcast, Inside PR, where David Jones from Hill & Knowlton pointed out that the lines between “earned media” and “social media” are being increasingly erased when it comes to RFPs. It’s the same when it comes to online marketing – years ago I think we called it “integrated” marketing – the point being that clients are looking for marketing partners that understand the “big picture” particularly when it comes to their online activities. And given that the results of traditional media relations programs, like newspaper or TV coverage, now find a way online, either on media websites, or picked up in blogs or sharing tools like Facebook, one has to look at how marketing efforts all work to influence each other. That includes integrating search marketing to make sure you are not only capturing the conversations that the marketing efforts are generating, but leveraging them to your advantage.
That leads to my other thought. There was a lot of talk last night about measurement and whether social media and digital marketing will be the first to be jettisoned during the economic slowdown because it’s hard to show any return on investment. I’d argue that done right, it’s not only possible, but also imperative, to show just how online marketing, including the effective use of social media, can prove its worth in spades. It all leads back to the ability to measure everything you’re doing online, and track it back to the source. At Agito, we won’t do it if we can’t measure it; and while it’s not always as black and white as tracking a pay-per-click campaign, we’re using the best analytics tools available (free, commercial, and home grown) to measure and correctly attribute site traffic and lead generation against everything happening in online media, the blogosphere, social networking spaces and beyond. On the Internet there’s a way to measure practically everything.
A shout out to everyone who attended Talk is Cheap - and to my colleague Christine Smith and the outstanding CC&PR Class of 2009 who did such a fabulous job pulling it all together.