Social media as communications tools

There’s an interesting starter interview for people looking at how to use new social media in PR and communications in Shel Israel’s blog.  Shel Israel interviews Shel Holtz here.

I’ve pushed people at conferences to start using these media both internally and externally, but there’s still a real reluctance to do so, often stemming from a lack of understanding of what these media are and offer.  Shel (Holtz – keep up here…) offers this neat summation:

In general, podcasting DELIVERS a message while blogging ENGAGES people in conversation.

I’d add some further thoughts.  Podcasts, by dint of their audio nature, offer an opportunity to engage with people while they’re out and about – ideal for salesforces, paramedics or any other highly-mobile workforce.  You don’t want them reading blogs or intranets while they’re driving, but they could listen to a corporate podcast.

But blogs can be immensely productive in giving out more than just information and starting more than conversations.  It can be a comfortable medium for execs who aren’t good communictors in other media.

I know of one large financial services company that found their IT Director running a blog that became very well-read and respected – and conveyed much of the personality that people weren’t sure existed prior to the blog.  Previous comms vehicles just hadn’t been his thing.

But for those who are still scared of these new media, I’ll leave you with this final thought from the two Shels:

6. Do you see social media as something different, or is it simple a new communications channel to be incorporated into the corporate marketing mix?

Both. It should be integrated into the mix, because new media do not kill old media. However, the rules for using social media are entirely different, and companies really do not have a choice but to figure out and embrace social media. That means learning to function and communicate in an entirely altered communication environment.

But don’t let that last piece put you off.