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    « Paying for Twitter followers | Main | Too easy to read between the lines »

    July 03, 2009


    Lewis Green

    Right on David.And as you say, "There will be some cheaters and some bad apples along the way..." I might add that some of those laying down the rules re: social media often discuss marketing and PR as if they understand it better than others and to do either correctly is to do it their way. But when you look at their backgrounds, they don't have a single day's experience in either field. To them, I suggest they maintain their authenticity by sticking to social media and leave PR and Marketing to those who get it. (I urge them to keep their suggestions coming re: marketing and PR because even the most enlightened can always use new ideas. Just don't pretend that they are marketers.)

    David Reich

    Thanks for the comment. Lewis.

    Authenticity a social media concept/buzzword that's creeping into other areas of communications, which is good in theory, but not always practical in practice. That doesn't mean we shouldn't strive for authenticity as much as possible.

    Steve Seager

    I agree pretty much with everything here. My first visit your blog David. I'm a definite follower now :)

    Beth's post is deliberately provocative to help drive discussion. In her terms it's authentic because she wrote it. But does that mean we trust her?

    In online public relations as I see it, trust is the key, not authenticity. It doesn't matter who writes the words, it's the trust it engenders that creates real authenticity.

    Steve Seager

    Beth Harte

    David, thanks for continuing this conversation, I truly appreciate your thoughts and insights.

    As someone commented on my blog, PR has always been about propaganda... We have Edward Bernays and Ivy Lee to thank for that. ;-) (I jest.)

    Shel Holtz said something on the FIR: Hobson & Holtz Report (I was honored that they discussed my post!) that never crossed my mind to include: PR was never declared as being authentic anyway (paraphrased). That is really true! Something to consider and it makes me wonder if it's even worth beating this particular horse (poor thing!). ;-)

    Perhaps being involved in social media for the past five years (and marketing/PR for 15) has jaded me... when I am talking to someone online, I know who it is (and sometimes all about them). So, when I read an article (or blog post or tweet) I want to know that the person writing it really wrote it, that it's their thoughts, tone, style...not some PR person's.

    David, if you told me that this blog had been ghostwritten for over two years, I would question everything you had to say here and elsewhere. And your Age of Conversation essay too... I think that's fair, no? AND, I'd want to know who the really smart person was if it wasn't you.

    I keep going back to the same example... If a CEO has their blog ghostwritten because they are swamped and, being so swamped, he/she glosses over the post to approve it...what happens when they are at a customer site or an event and a customer says "I really liked your post on X, Y, Z. Can you please elaborate on Y?" What happens? The CEO is put in the hot seat because he/she, most likely, can't remember what he/she approved. (This same scenario goes for a byline too.) I don't think that's a good position for a CEO to be in.

    I think what bothers me is that most people (non-PR, marketing people...the average citizen or business person) don't know that bylines aren't written by the person they typically say they are written by... it seems, well, inauthentic to me.

    As well, I've had editors/journalists hang up on my company while interviewing someone because they realized that the company spokesperson wasn't the thought leader portrayed in the article or pitch. Yep, that's bad PR...but sometimes we are put in those positions (I've blogged about that too).

    A lot of my opinions are based on my experience in the tech industry...does that make them gospel? No, of course not. That's why I think these conversations are so important to have.

    @SteveSeager, you really need to be more careful with the words you put in people's mouths. I never defined what authentic was a dictionary definition. As for trust, I believe people trust me because I am authentic. I am the same on- as off-line (anyone will tell you that). Authenticity begets trust...not the other way around.

    Beth Harte
    Community Manager, MarketingProfs

    David Reich

    Beth, I understand your desire for authenticity. Social media seems to have grown up (so far) on authenticity. It seems to be more of a personal outreach than traditional mass media.

    Other mass media have not developed the same way, and authenticity has not been ingrained into their very fabric.

    When a CEO uses a speechwriter to craft his speeches or a p.r. person to help with his responses to press questions or wording of a byliner, it's not necessarily inauthentic. The CEO still must actually speak the wpords of a speech, or sign off on the words of a byliner. They should be his thoughts or his position on an issue, even if the actual words are not all his own.

    Will this work for social media? I'm not sure I'd realistically expect the CEO of IBM is writing every Twitter update under his name, nor necessarily are Ashton Kutcher or Oprah writing all of theirs. I would hope, though, that they have some significant input into them. If not, then that's not authentic.

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