Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Microblogging - a usefull PR tool?

Of all the Internet communication technologies (ICTs) Twitter is the one which seem to be in fashion at the moment. Deirdre Breakenridge, President and Director of Communications at PFS Marketwyse, says in her blog regarding Twitter that “I find myself lost in the abundance of information from the people I follow. I learn a tremendous amount about technology and what are the hottest topics, tools, and news of the day.”

I have to admit that I’m not equally enthusiastic, I haven’t really been able to see its usefulness as an effective PR tool yet. However, as more and more interesting people are getting in to it, like UK Prime minister
Gordon Brown, maybe I’m missing out on something. Perhaps if it keeps growing in popularity PR practitioners have to follow key e-fluentials on Twitter as a pre-emptive tool to know what is going on. Do you think it could be used successfully as a public relations tool?

If you’re not completely sure what Twitter actually is, check this video out:


PR Tech Blogger said...

Hello Mattias,

Interesting post. I was quite swayed by the video as it allowed me to understand the positive aspects of social networking/mico-blogging. As mentioned in the video, Twitter enables people not only to connect, but also to network. I do believe that networking is a large component of the Public Relations realm thus making Twitter a useful PR device. However, beyond networking I wasn’t sure how useful Twitter would be for PRs. That was until I read James L. Horton’s essay entitled Twitter ( In his essay Horton reveals ways in which Twitter can be used for promotion.

“ … a celebrity tracks his or her day for fans, for example, or a CEO lets employees know where he is and where he is going to be. Twitter also can provide researchers with a glimpse into the real life experience of others. Short, 140-character messages can allow one to limn a day of a product or service user, for example. All of these communications could be done as easily by e-mail but Twitter is appealing because it is new, brief and fits easily into computers and mobile phones. Twitter forces one to
maximize meaning in limited space.”

Horton’s examples make sense. I now believe that under the right circumstances Twitter could be a useful PR instrument beyond networking.

Mattias said...

Thanks for the comment Hilary, sorry about the late reply!

The James L. Horton essay/article was very interesting. I agree that the short length messages, which also makes it work well with mobile phones, has its strengths. One example could be a public relations professional in a political campaign; in that context using Twitter to keep journalists updated on what is going on, might be of great help.

As a practitioner It’s probably quite important to limit once use of it though, to where it actually does serve a communication purpose. As Horton puts it: “one should use Twitter well rather than indiscriminately. Otherwise, people will ignore it

Giota said...

Hi Mattias,

I read your post and it was intresting. To tell you the truth i didn't understant its importance and why PR practitioners should use it. I saw the video attached that explains it very easy.Then i read the James L. Horton's essay and i got some ideas. I believe that if you start getting involved with Twitter you understand it's use and it's capabilities. Then I searched to the web and I found 6 ideas of how to use Twitter in marketing and PR :
1. Engage your CEO in social media
2.Keep in touch with bloggers / media
3.Monitor your company / brand on Twitter
4.Announce specials, deals or sales
5.Live updates on events or conferences
6.Promote blog articles, webinars, interesting news and more

The ideas are from the following blog:

Mattias said...

Thanks for the link and suggestions Giota!

There are probably many different kinds of situations where Twitter could be useful for PR and Marketing purposes, as this HubSpot post gave some examples of. I do believe however, as I wrote in my reply above, that being restricted in one’s use of Twitter to where it actually does serve a communication purpose is important.

Mike Volpe’s argument that Twitter could more easily engage the CEO in Social Media, as an example, due to the messages being much shorter than blog posts, as well as the possibility of writing and sending them from a mobile phone is reasonable. However, if the CEO is tweeting for the sake of tweeting without actually having anything to say, he will have as many followers as readers of the blog without any updates.

I believe that PR 2.0 is not different from ‘offline’ PR in the sense that you still have to have something relevant to say if you expect people to listen. If you do, Twitter can probably be a great tool, if used in an intelligent way.

Deirdre Breakenridge said...

Hi Mattias, thank you for referencing me in your blog :) I think that Twitter is a good PR tool because it allows us to gather a tremendous amount of information and research on consumers that would cost a fortune if we were to have focus panels. Twitter is great for listening to customers and it also allows brands to listen, observe and then engage with customers to answer their questions and provide meaningful information (all in less than 140 characters). I think as more professionals learn to use the different twitter applications, filter the tweets to watch trends and gather important information they will see the tremendous value that twitter has for their brands. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject.