Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakenridge teamed up earlier this year to create this book, Putting the Public Back in Public Relations: How Social Media is Reinventing the Aging Business of PR. Even for those of us not "officially" in the PR field, the book is a good resource on the nature of conversations and expectations that take place online today.
Part I, The Tue Value of New PR, is an expanded, updated version of the theses in the Cluetrain Manifesto, laying out the differences between what our clients and audiences expect now versus just a few years ago. The fuzzy lines between journalism and blogging are explored, and the idea that no matter what tools you use to communicate, the most important aspect of PR is the "relations" part--it is (and always has been) about establishing and nurturing relationships with your friends, fans, enemies and consumers:
Brian and Deirdre argue for the aspects of good Web 2.0 we've all come to tout: transparency, engagement, flexibility, openness, communication with not to and speaking in a real human voice instead of in corporate messages. And they support those arguments with blog posts from the best formative voices in social media: Chris Anderson, Erick Shonfeld, Charlene Li, Chris Heuer, Jay Rosen, Robert Scoble, Todd Defren and others.
Part II covers more theory on this art of reaching out within the social media space, starting with language and attitude and covering how to reach out to bloggers and create a social media press release. (Corporate blogging is in this section, too). Their advice on creating a profile for a social networking/media tool:
For approaching social media in general:
With respect to blogger relations, Brian and Deirdre argue against shooting only for A-list bloggers and advise targeting instead the more relevant influencers, the "magic middle":
They define the "magic middle" as blogs with 20 to 1,000 inbound active links and argue that these are the bloggers that inspire real people to try new products.
If you write press releases, read chapter 8. Your recipients will thank you.
Part III dives into the how of participating in social media, beginning with the exortation that "technology does not override the social sciences." That's right; you still have to be real, sincere and human. Participation in tools like Facebook and Twitter are in this section, BTW.
Part IV looks into the future of PR 2.0, including the new title Community Manager (yes, that's me!), the customer service possibilities with social media and metrics.
And finally, Part V (I'll admit I haven't got to it yet) speculates on the future of PR.
Overall, this book is a useful resource, whether you're in PR or just looking at starting a corporate blog or Twitter account. It's been incredibly valuable to me as I've been making the arguments to clients for starting a corporate blog or taking the time to participate in social media at all--rich in sources and case studies, it gives me great ammunition to make the case for social media in the business world.