This is my third book review for the Eloqua “It’s All About Revenue” blog, but before I get started, here’s a some breaking news: In the past 5 minutes, the author, David Meerman Scott, released a free e-book, titled: “Real Time: How Marketing & PR at Speed Delivers Measurable Success.“ The e-book is hosted on WebInkNow, David’s blog. Go grab it. I was treated to a sneak preview this weekend, and it’s nothing short of fascinating. The takeaway: Employ real-time PR strategies, outperform your market. It’s simply unambiguous. Now onto the review.
Let me begin with a caution: This book will shatter your PR model. It will fracture it beyond recognition. But rest easy. It will also put it back together again in a vastly improved way.
The best ideas are those that are so simple, they manage to hide in plain sight. Some of these discoveries turn into landmark businesses (an online “yearbook” for everyone in the world, a global auction, digital classifieds), while others become concepts that alter the way professionals think and act.
David Meerman Scott’s brand new book Real-Time Marketing & PR (Wiley) is a shining example of the latter. That is, David creates a business case for “immediacy” so ironclad that, in companies across the world, “tomorrow” will soon become code for “too late.” And when that happens — when communications professionals develop reflexive recognition of real-time opportunities — “now” will become the call to arms for this generation of PR leaders (mercifully laying to rest yesterday’s hackneyed “join the conversation” slogan).
Speaking of catch-phrases, David suggests companies begin replacing the term “social media” (which is encumbered by the weight of triviality) with “real-time media.” He explains why in the video below.
Put another way, Real-Time Marketing & PR is as much a “movement” as it is a book. It marks the moment companies stop viewing time as a shield (that is, hiding behind the clock for as long as it takes to perfect a message) and begin seeing it as a sword. David cuts no corners in his veritable “how-to” guide for turning time into competitive advantage.
The first thing you’ll experience when reading Real-Time Marketing & PR is a feeling of panic. That is, the book’s case for immediacy is so persuasive that you may find yourself wanting to read it faster. You will want to get started now. My advice: Read it in a captive, disconnected environment, like on an no-WiFi flight (United “offers” many). That way, there will be technical guardrails to prevent you from putting it down, inchoate, and getting started prematurely on your real-time PR plan. After all, right up to the very last page, the book is filled with examples, insights and counsel you don’t want to miss, such as:
- “The successful organization is one that pushes decision-making as far down in the organization as possible.” Absolutely brilliant insight into the day-to-day reality of a real-time communications program. The model can only truly work if individual contributors are empowered to act outside of the multi-layered morass of internal approvals.
- Think in terms of “their time” versus “your time.” One of the themes in Real-Time Marketing & PR is the notion of responding on your audience’s schedule, not yours. In many ways this is a companion mindset to “inbound marketing” — that is, to redirect your thinking from your own solutions and to your buyers’ needs.
- “Social media are tools. Real time is a mindset.” Not only grammatically accurate (finally, someone who recognizes “media” as plural!), but it’s also the mantra for the entire real time movement.
- Real-world, real-time examples from United, Toyota, BP, Sky News, TMZ, Avaya and even Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital.
Of course speed boats create massive wakes, and racing toward real-time presents a variety of new and unanticipated challenges for marketers. Reading this book, I found myself thinking about how much more important judgment becomes in the real-time era. In fact, one could argue that the importance of an individual’s judgment is inversely proportional to the amount of time afforded to planning a response.
Executives should also think about how they want to go about creating a culture that embraces real time communications. Companies that strive for “perfection” will need to make concessions — fast and perfect seldom co-exist — and organizations that reward top performers may want to create a new award category.
To that end, it shouldn’t only be a must-read for marketing communications professionals, but, perhaps even more importantly, the executives who chart corporate culture.