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In this book, we share advice on how to use digital marketing techniques and social media to boost your communications programs. Although this is a ‘how to’ book, many of you are still asking ‘why?’ Why care about social media? Why talk about digital PR? Typically, questions revolve around measurement, value, resources and control. We hope to answer some of these questions here. Social media is evolving fast. It is merging with journalism and Public Relations and hence the communications industry is undergoing seismic change. This process has been called disintermediation but it’s more like disintegration of the status quo. Communicators now need to be more technical, visual and responsive to the market. In practical terms, this means we need to master a wider range of skills and adopt a more agile approach. As brands start to become publishers in their own right, communications professionals start to act as curators of high-frequency digital assets. We’re using video, infographics, blog content and more to communicate and respond to opportunities almost in real-time. The battleground for these assets will be the Google search return. Whether you’re trying to reach a journalist, a customer, an employee or investor, this is where the fight for recognition begins. Social media also has a particular effect on crisis communications. Crisis monitoring is one of the prime uses of Twitter, for instance. Twitter indexes servers every 45 seconds, where Google takes over an hour. If you have an angry customer, you will find him there before anywhere else.

Social influence is another key factor here. If this angry customer is not connected or influential or mobile, you have been lucky. If they are all of these things then their news will spread rapidly. You cannot rely upon the traditional protectors of shareholder value here. Lawyers are there to defend against lies and to preserve truth. The problem with high-frequency digital assets is that truth is not an essential component. Entertainment, however, is. This accounts for one of the phenomena of our time – the urban myth. Arthur Andersen did not shred documents, the brakes did not fail on the Prius, it was not BP’s oil rig and there were no WMD. All these were potent stories that were subsequently disproved, if anyone cared. No one remembers the truth, only the entertainment. The digital communications halo is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ for customer service or advocacy, it has moved to the core of the marketing function. Of course, there are naysayers that, having had a cursory acquaintance with Twitter, Facebook or Foursquare, dismiss them as banal. In commercial history, this is nothing new. It is just the first stage of the grieving process for the loss of status quo. A note of caution here – organizations can only afford a limited number of luddites. Tomorrow belongs to those who embrace change and see it as their friend. My thanks to all who have contributed to this book and to the pioneers who dream of a better tomorrow.

Chris Lewis CEO & Founder, LEWIS PR

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