It’s fascinating to observe the way the communications industry is changing. I got into PR by accident. Then into ‘social media’ because of my morbid curiosity about the way the industry was changing.

All this time, I’ve been watching an industry being shaken to the core by its players, funders, detractors and stakeholders alike. It’s scary but good.

Then just when you thought you’d figured it all out, it changes again. (The debate as to whether social media has any relevance within a corporate armoury is largely done. If you don’t think it does, I’m sorry I can’t help you –and why are you even here?).

Assuming we’re all on the same page on that front, now we’re on to the debate about content marketing, brand journalism and trans-media storytelling.

We’ve moved past the why to the what.

And in all honesty, that’s the hard part.
Using a crude analogy, it’s as if you’re at a party and you’ve debated with yourself and decided that you like a particular girl (or guy). Well, now you actually have to go up to them and say something … gulp.

Working out what to say and how you’re going to say it is one thing, but there’s also the timing to consider. When is the ideal moment to approach them?

This is the new paradigm for the modern marketer or communicator. We live in the attention economy. You got one shot so you’d better make it good or I’m off to the next thing.

Creativity isn’t new. Ad men have been doing it – and doing it well – for years.

What’s changed is the speed in which it can be delivered. Coming up with brilliant ideas takes on a whole new dimension when you have to do it under the pressure of the clock.

Many of you social types will have heard of the great examples from the likes of Smart, Bodyform and of course this modern classic by Old Spice:

While it’s not a science in predicting how to get a ‘social media home run’, there are a few tips I’ve come across over the years that should help:

Brainstorm different scenarios that your brand may find itself in and create hypothetical responses to be delivered in that scenario (like a comedian does) when creating a content calendar

Make sure you know the entire history of your brand (warts and all). It helps tell your story better

Have a listening team on hand to pick out trends that can be acted upon

Make sure your team has a real web geek (you know the kind of guy that spends a lot of time on Reddit or 4Chan). They’re invaluable in understanding the obscure channels to help get the content seeded out, as well as being up to date with the ‘next big things’ on the web

Don’t be afraid to use a bit of paid action to get content seen. Expecting things to ‘go viral’ organically is one of the biggest misconceptions around social media marketing

I truly believe this is future of communications (note: I did not say PR!). Coming up with a concept in the morning, developing it the afternoon and publishing it in the evening. Scary. But then again, scary is good – right?