#measurePR: Learning From the Community

November 16th, 2011 | Shonali Burke | 23 Comments

community bonfireLast week, Spin Sucks ran a guest post I authored on how Twitter chats can be a doorway to your community.

It was catalyzed by a DM conversation with a friend who runs – or, at least, has been running – a well-regarded chat for its niche.

You see, my friend has been overtaken by that thing called Life. So it’s become tough for him to commit to the time needed for the chat, and since he hadn’t (at the time of writing) found someone reliable and versed enough in Twitter chats to take it over, he’s contemplating shutting it down.

When he told me this, I felt as if someone had knifed me through my heart.

I said, and I quote from my SS piece:

“Don’t do that. Ask <person who is well known for focusing on the discipline> if they can do it. It’s a good chat. It teaches people.” (Or words to that effect.)

He thought this was a good idea and I think is asking said person. Right now, I don’t know what the outcome is. So this excellent chat (admittedly, in my opinion), may die an untimely death. Or it may not. Time will tell.

Drinking my own medicine

Last week – November 8, to be precise – was the regular bi-weekly #measurePR chat. As you know, we try to bring on guests who are doing cool stuff in the area of measurement, but last week, we didn’t have any guests.

So I wasn’t sure if holding the chat at the regular day/time would be a good idea.

Wouldn’t you know it, I had to drink my own medicine.

Instead of canceling the chat – and, I’m pretty sure, because the conversation with my friend was playing on my mind – I asked on Twitter, on the day of the chat, as to whether we should go ahead or not.

I got enough answers – two or three – in the affirmative, that made me decide to go ahead with it.

And I’m so glad we did. With no agenda and no guest, we ended up having what I called a “fireside” or community chat. Picture a beach with a few people gathered around a bonfire, one of whom is strumming a guitar. That’s exactly what it felt like, to me at least.

If you download the transcript of #measurePR, the Nov. 8 fireside edition, you’ll see that it was pretty free-flowing. And I learned so much I didn’t know before.

Allison Busch, a grad student at the University of Nebraska (at which I spoke last month), participated for the first time.

What an opportunity to teach, and learn from, a student, and introduce her to the community.

So did Sally Falkow. Someone I have revered literally for years, as one of the stalwarts of the PR profession.

What an opportunity to hear, and learn, from a giant in our field.

KiKi L’Italien was wondering about how to measure one’s personal brand v. the organization brand when both are being used for promotion.

What a great question! And don’t many people wonder this, albeit secretly? What courage to state it out loud.

And there was so much more (I really hope you do download and read the transcript).

My point is, if I had summarily canceled the chat simply because I didn’t have an “expert” guest, or was too tired to moderate it, see how much I – and we – would have missed out on?

We’d have missed out on free-flowing conversation.

We’d have missed out on learning that little bit more about what makes the other tick.

We’d have missed out on the opportunity to start helping students ask the right questions when it comes to measuring PR and social media… and if not ask them, then at least listen to professionals talk about it.

I’m so glad I didn’t cancel the chat. Because it reminded me of how, every day, I really do learn from my community.

Even if I did have to drink my own medicine.

How do you learn from your community? Do they remind you of what you should know, but might have forgotten? Do share, I’d love to know.

Image: Jamison Wieser via Flickr, CC 2.0

By the way, next week’s #measurepr will be on hiatus because I will be on vacation … in Jamaica. Eat your hearts out. But do save the date for the next chat on December 6, 12-1 pm ET, when Jennifer Zingsheim will be hosting.

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Shonali Burke
Head honcho of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke is President & CEO of Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc. Based in the Washington, D.C., area, she loves helping for- and non-profit clients, both small and large, turn corporate codswallop into community cool™. She also loves ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
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21 comments
sallyfalkow
sallyfalkow

If you need a partner or guest for your chats I am always up for the game. Thanks to you and Tinu for your kind words.

Tinu
Tinu

It's so funny you wrote about this. Because last month was the first #wgbiz chat without you. I wasn't feeling well, the date kind of snuck up on me, and though I was ready for a casual chat it dawned on me but hadn't promoted it. At all.

So I thought, a couple of people I know had asked questions about community, I needed to brainstorm on the topic too, and so we talked about that. Maybe an hour before hand, I'd been introduced to @vargasl , and when I directed a question at her, she jumped in with lots of tips, making what was already a great chat that much better with an experienced background. And wow, I'm so glad you interacted with @sallyfalkow . I admire her a great deal.

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bdorman264
bdorman264

Expert guest? No wonder it's floundering, you haven't asked me to be on it. Of course, I will have to bring @skypulsemedia with me because if I'm trying to follow more than one tweet and I can't talk, it could be trouble.

I have 'tried' to do some twitter chats but I didn't really pay attention and I was using sub-par equipment so needless to say I was lost pretty quickly. I admire the people who are creative enough to even get one of these started. However, and just like the merchants who want some of my money, I'm probably not the guy who would be around enough to support this.

I'm good at just showing up, not much more............:)

NancyD68
NancyD68

I have to get into more Twitter chats. My favorite one, Tweetdiner has been put on hold until further notice since the leader of the chat is backing away from social media. i am not respected or well regarded enough to take over e chat like that so it really is a shame. Anyway, I am always looking for more ways to build community, and Twitter chats really does that very well.

I still get that whole "Twitter is total nonsense" and personally I don't get people who say that. Twitter can be nonsense or it can be a fantastic vehicle to propel someone forward.

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

I think chat hosts should have partners. The #CustServ chat has 2 hosts in case one can't make it. I also think people shouldn't view this as an open ended burden. Unless something changes I can't see Twitter being the Twitter it is today in 5 years. I have to believe we will always migrate to best comm platforms. And it is very hard to cannabalize something like this to make the next great leap.

So just hang in there @Shonali Burke Consulting you only have to host until 2017!

Shonali Burke Consulting
Shonali Burke Consulting

And I should thank Arment Dietrich, Inc. for having me post over at Spin Sucks last week, since it led to this post!

Adam | Customer Experience
Adam | Customer Experience

@bdorman264@skypulsemedia Bill, I did one of the big blog chats once, without even a topic, and it was a mess. Just chaos. The structured chats are much better. I do one (when I can) for CXO, it's very organized and really has a good flow to it. point being, if you find a good one in a topic you're interested in, they actually can be valuable. FWIW

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@NancyD68 I'm not familiar with Tweetdiner, but are you a familiar "face" in the chat? If yes, and you would like to help out with it, I think you should let the moderator know. To me it's much more important that someone who is really into the subject matter lead the chat rather than how well-known they are.

Just sayin...

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@HowieG LOL. That's a good point, and one of the reasons @jenzings has become a regular guest-moderator (once a quarter and she is great on filling in for me if I can't make it). If it ever felt like a burden, though, I would give it up, or "hand it down" to someone who is passionate about PR measurement. I actually love the chat. Sure, there are times when I'm tired, but it always makes me feel great at the end of it.

NancyD68
NancyD68

@Shonali There are probably much better qualified people than me. Tweetdiner is about doing good/charitable acts and about how to use social media in general. Good, low-pressure setting for people new to Twitter.

jenzings
jenzings

I enjoy guest moderating the chats--it's fun, and I always learn SO much.

And I like helping out to give you a break occasionally. We all need to guard against overfilling our plates (Thanksgiving pun!) and burn-out.

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

@bdorman264@Adam | Customer Experience I used to participate in the #CustServ chat on Tuesdays at 9pm EST. They always had a topic. But they also had a lot of participants so when hootsuite would update 45 tweets had passed. I tried tweet deck's live stream and it was a blur.

The good news since Zappos was often a case study anytime they were mentioned you had to drink. Dumb college games LOL

But here is the value and I mentioned this on @Shonali 's guest post on Spin Sucks. You would be surprised who participates. For customer service had the head of CitiCorp who used to run Comcasts customer service Frank Eliason. I would check who is tweeting with me and think 'Wow surprised you care and are here you big wig'. And so you find yourself meeting people you might not.

I mean for the #Insurance chats I bet Hank Greenberg is there all the time...oh wait bad example.

But then if the chat is archived and curated properly you can read it later. And that has value.

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@jenzings It is fun! And I can't tell you how much I appreciate your help. Note that you are the *only* person I have asked thus far to be a regular guest-host...

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