The Houston chapter of the Public Relations Society of America holds its conference today, with social media expert Peter Shankman serving as keynote speaker. Shankman helped create the America Online newsroom, and then started his PR firm Geek Factory and a Web site of sources for reporters called HALO. He says companies are using Facebook, Twitter and other social media as a cost-effective way to build business relationships and promote goods and services.
“Social media will simply become part of our everyday lives — how we talk to people, how we communicate with them, and every company needs to be aware of that. And you know, I’m not sitting here saying social media’s gonna change the world and you have to forget everything else you’ve done. But you need to be including social media in your plans because social media, at it’s very core, is a way to listen to what your customers want. And at the end of the day, if you do not know what your customers want, you will lose your customers. And that’s not, that doesn’t have anything to do with social media, that’s simple customer service.”
Shankman remembers his days as a photography major, working at a newspaper. It taught him that there will always be changes in technology, and businesses have to keep up.
“The first photo shot with a digital camera came across the AP wire, and we were shocked, like ‘Oh my God, look at this! Digital photo!’ It was the most incredible thing ever. And every time we do something different, it changes things. And our goal is really just to help grow that and to help understand what we’re using and see ‘hey, how can this benefit us?’ without forgetting what we learned from stuff behind us. People think ‘oh, this is great, all I have to do is Twitter.’ Well, if you’re going to Twitter, and you’re gonna send something with 140 characters, you darn well know how to write. Don’t forget the basics, how to write.”
Shankman is conducting workshops at the Public Relations Society of America’s annual PR day at the Westin Galleria. Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.