Friday, November 14, 2008

Is Social Media Killing PR? - event writeup

So, I have a mission to visit as many events of interest to San Francisco Micropreneurs as possible. Today, I’m at the Horn Group’s "Is Social Media Killing PR?" blogger panel. This is the first event I’ve been to so far where I wasn’t already part of the group and I feel a little bit as though I’m crashing the party. I’m here partly because of Girls in Tech, which is comfortably resemblent to my old SFWOW conceptual stomping grounds. Most of the guests wearing nametags that refer to companies I’ve never heard of. There are a lot of attractive, slender, well-dressed women in their 30’s. I feel outclassed. Wine and catered food is served. It is very good. I can’t believe this is free.

It’s amazing what you can learn just by sitting around. Sabrina Horn is the president That would account for the Girls in Tech tie in. I tell people I’m a blogger with about six readers because no one ever tries to make themselves sound unimportant in these circles. The food is really good. I wonder who arranged this?

It is packed. There are too many people and I’m too intimidated / overwhelmed to introduce myself. I’m sweltering. I duck into the ladies to remove a few layers of clothing and they’re talking about …hashtags. Geeky!

When I emerge, the crowd has thinned somewhat, as people spread out into other areas of the office, grabbing perches in view of the “stage” and discovering there is food in more than one location. It really is a very nice office. Apparently the MC, Jeremiah, is a rock star. I’ve never heard of him.

I get up from my comfortable seat with no view so I can get look at Sabrina. She’s wearing a red wool cape and a matching red dress with black suede stiletto boots. You rock on with your bad ass self. OMG she challenged us to spend a day here to see what they do. I am so there. I’ll have to write her later and find out if she really meant it.

As the panel progresses, I realize that I know more about social media than most of the audience. Apparently I need to promote myself better ...I could totally consult on this if I wanted to. The panel discussion is illuminating in other ways. When I first heard the title, I thought it was utterly retarded. I mean: how can social media be a threat to PR? Isn't that like saying television is a threat to PR? Twitter, bloggers, etc. are just another medium for PR, aren't they? In which case, social media should be a *boon* for PR, because more channels mean you'll need to hire more PR people to cover them.

It comes out that the threat comes from transparency. Apparently, certain industries are in a tizzy because they've gotten used to there only being a few media outlets, which could be controlled with connections and money. They have been using PR, not so much as image consultants and story tellers, but as censors, making sure that the public heard about things that made them look good and spinning or repressing things that made them look bad. To which I say: too bad, and maybe you should stop doing things that are sketchy.

Anyhow, if you want to check out who was there and what they said, there's a hashtags link with everybody's tweets on it.

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