On PR and what you ate for lunch

Is Twitter really just a bunch of status updates?

As part of my Masters, Arts—Professional Writing, I’ve enrolled in a semester of PR theory. Last week I sat in the seminar and was pleased as the discussion wound its way to my favourite topic: social media, under the guise of discussing challenges facing individuals in the industry. ‘Keeping up to date with technology’ was one of those challenges identified and there was much nodding and agreement amongst the 30 or so students.

Then the Lecturer asked how many in the room used Twitter.

Only two raised their hands. I was one of them.

Next question … How many used Facebook? I saw a sea of hands in the air.

Having spent time looking at usage stats I wasn’t surprised. Most of the students were early 20s, not the heaviest subset of Twitter users. But what really got me thinking is what happened next.

Sitting beside me was a charming and articulate woman, a corporate lawyer interested in making the switch to PR. I asked her why she didn’t use Twitter. Her answer was simple:

Who wants to know what I had for lunch? I haven’t updated my Facebook status in two years.

She said it as though it was a badge of honour.

So, is being impervious to social media the new black? Is it something to be proud of?

I think not.

There are two inherent truths about Twitter:

People who don’t know much about Twitter think it is a bunch of status updates—to strangers, hence irrelevant and a waste of time.

And,

Most people who explore Twitter on their own often, and quickly, hit a “I don’t get it” wall and walk away for a while, usually back to the familiar and nurturing arms of Aunty Facebook; a place where everything and everyone is familiar, hence relevant.

Thing is, PR to me is very much an art of opportunity. So my surprise was derived from the instant dismissal, the lack of seeing this social media tool as an opportunity; the very lack of seeing it as a “tool”.

The room was full of post-grads eager to carve out careers in PR, yet only one other had invested time in exploring one of the fastest growing tools for networking and sharing on the internet.

A quiet lecture room isn’t the right space to launch into a debate on Twitter benefits, but if I had been able to reply to the corporate lawyer, wannabe PR professional, I would say this:

What if I told you I could grant you access to an association, one that is all about PR, with a side dose of whatever else interests you; anything at all—design, marketing, advertising, maybe law and further subset fields such as  business, tech or fashion, lifestyle, music, food.

And I could give you membership to this association for free.

Well, relatively for free, the cost to you will be the investment of your time.

In this association you will have access to some of the most well-known minds in the PR industry, some of the old-timers as well as the newest shining stars and all the relevant groups of professionals that you’ve heard of in your PR classes, both locally and globally. And, most of these groups and individuals will share with you their daily thoughts, best practices, what they are reading and thinking about, projects they are working on and importantly—job leads.

Better yet,  many will take the time to answer your questions, or at least point you in the direction of a link or group that will provide an answer, and you’ll never feel like some clumsy-cold-caller trying to get the attention of someone who otherwise wouldn’t have the time of day for you, because this association is all about community and networking. You are welcomed because everyone is participating either for altruistic reasons or simply because they all know how important it is to keep an eye on the playing field.

Sound interesting?

Well my friend, that’s Twitter.

You’re right; unless you’re a foodophile nobody on Twitter really is interested in what you ate for lunch.

Save that for your friends on Facebook.

Lucky them.

Advertisements

About Carla Del Vecchio

Digital media strategist, published writer and editor, who is mad for social media and lattes (but only the good stuff).
This entry was posted in Opinion, PR, Social media, Social media platforms, Social media tools, Social Networking, Twitter. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to On PR and what you ate for lunch

  1. There are some great points in here, but there is a tendency to blame the users rather than acknowledge that Twitter is the most miserably unfriendly user interface, and unless people find the tools to make it useful, they will continue to walk away.

    It’s a crying shame – I know some hugely intelligent people who would absolutely rock on Twitter, but who are just too busy to invest the time in coming to grips with it (having accessed via twitter.com) and to second guess the ‘unwritten rules’.

    For far too many, the experience is one of mob rule or low engagement. This really is Twitter’s loss – one hugely endearing friend tweeted three times and gave up. He’s an absolute expert in his field, witty, and very humble about his achievements. He’d quickly become a Twitter superstar, but frankly, Twitter needs him, more than he needs Twitter.

    I wonder if instead of deriding those who don’t get it, we could celebrate Twitter’s birthday by introducing a friend to it?

    • ruleofthree says:

      I think my derision stems more from those who dismiss something before actually trying it. Not an attribute I’m fond of in any life circumstance 🙂 Hopefully your friends will come back to Twitter again in time and find it useful … they sound like they have a lot to offer the community.

      • I think what I’m saying is that lots of people *HAVE* been, taken a look, seen a list of one end of conversations and given up, or put out three tweets, been followed by a sexy Grrrrl or two and not had the time/patience to pursue it.

        Although in a professional PR context, there’s no excuse for not getting informed – it’s the fast growing medium.

        Does make you wonder what’s being taught!

  2. I have to admit, if you’d asked me this time last year what twitter was all about I would have agreed with the lawyer!

    I’m happy to say that, since around October last year, I’ve been well and truly educated on the benefits of twitter, particularly to small businesses or solopreneuers like myself.

    It’s great to be able to interact with other people when you’re working from home… and hearing about news stories as they break is a bonus too.

    I am very definitely a twitter convert – and proud of it!

  3. Carl Quested says:

    So where exactly can one access the insights on actually making twitter work? It seems that the Twitter site itself shows very little on how to best utilise it? I would go google it, but with it being one of the major social media platforms, I am sure everyone has an opinion, based on nothing more than their own self belief!

    • ruleofthree says:

      You are right, everyone seems to have an opinion on best usage. I found the best way of learning was by following some people who’d been doing it for a while, people who engage and understand that reciprocity is what makes Twitter really work.

      Feel free to connect with me @theruleof3, would be happy to point out some great Tweeters for you to follow 🙂

  4. IZONU says:

    Twitter is just another tool that can give you real time news from different perspectives. It’s also great in guiding ones decision making giving you access to a large forum of knowledge and experiences. Like all tools if you find it useful and rewarding you will get to know the application.

  5. Chris says:

    The best thing about my popping on twitter this evening [which I resist for many of the reasons you addressed] is that I was able to read this wonderful piece. I needed the encouragement and perspective as my personal and professional goals are changing. Thank you!

  6. Marc says:

    Superb post.

    I wrote about how Twitter may be a replacement for news feeds (kind of) by aggregating only what you like over here:

    http://www.un-understand.co.uk/2011/03/thinking-about-news-part-2.html

    You’re in my bookmarks and soon on my link list.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s