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Public Relations: Put ‘Em to the Test — How are Big Name Consulting Companies Doing on Social Media?

 Big-name consulting companies like McKinsey and Accenture position themselves as global leaders so you’d think they’d be ahead of the pack in social media.  Wrong.  Or at least my little experiment showed that some of these big fellas have little ears when it comes to listening and responding to social media queries. 

 Big-name consulting companies like McKinsey and Accenture
position themselves as global leaders so you’d think they’d be ahead of the
pack in social media. 

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Wrong.

 Or at least my little experiment showed that some of these
big fellas have little ears when it comes to listening and responding to social
media queries. 

To put their social media attennae to the test, I tweeted
the following last week to seven of the world’s biggest consulting firms,
calling out their respective Twitter names in my tweets: 

“@bigname consulting company, can you help? Trying to reach
someone in PR in US to interview for a story & could use some direction? 

Now, I’d like to say my Twitter account was ablaze with all
of these heavy hitters’ responses. Instead, I have yet to hear from the likes
of Accenture, McGinsey, Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Company and Booze
& Company.

 As for the others? 

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Price Waterhouse Coopers emailed me the following day and
offered to help. 

And a special gold star in social media alertness goes to the
aptly-named firm Monitor Group. 

In about two minutes
after I posted my Twitter Query, Monitor.com’s Managing Editor Michael Goldberg
called me to see how he could help. Goldberg said he has on his desktop a
Twitter client (he declined to say which one) to monitor (I couldn’t resist the
word) what’s being said about his company.

 I also reached out to Deloitte – both as part of my test and
for a content marketing story I’m working on. After the traditional PR route
failed with Deloitte (leaving voice and email messages), I turned to Twitter to
share my frustration: 

@Deloitte, no one ever got back to me & here I was going to praise your PR work. Left multiple emails/vmails. Can u help?Around 10 hours
later, Deloitte responded and around 17 hours later two Deloitte PR people
tweeted me offering to help.

And low and behold
the PR department kicked into gear the traditional way emailing me and
voicemailing.

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Well, at least they
responded.  Just not on Twitter
time.  A bit of irony for a company that
talks up social media:

 “In a connected world, power shifts to those
most able to connect,” reads a Deloitte document from its Australia
practice. 
 Now, I wasn’t sure
if I had unrealistic expectations with these firms so I turned to social media
guru Aaron Strout, CMO of Powered.com
 “I’m not surprised,”
said Aaron, when told of my experience. “In fact, I would be pleasantly
surprised if these companies were responding. It’s still the minority that are
listening and doing proactive outreach.’

 “Very few companies
have discovered the art of conversation, of when to engage and how to react
with folks. And B2B companies are less inclined to get outside the box. We’re
still at the tip of the iceberg.” 

Wendy Marx 

 

 

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How
can a self-proclaimed geeky company with no knowledge of public relations go
from virtual anonymity to media darling with just one tweet?

 

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This
is the story of how social media is changing how companies make news and how the
new world of public relations is practiced.

 

It
all began around 10 am PT on August 12, 2009, when Ryan Kelly, founder and CEO,
of market research firm Pear Analytics, of San Antonio, posted the following on
Twitter:

 

“The Twitter Study we mentioned at
#bmprsa is now
available: http://bit.ly/17htXE interesting results…” BMPRSA
is a San Antonio PR and social media group where Kelly had spoken a few weeks
before and mentioned the pending study.

 

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No sooner did he post the tweet
that a friend from sales and marketing company Sales by 5 (hyperlink) DM’d or
direct messaged him on Twitter “ Please
let me know when you release it, and I’ll send
it to Mashable”. 

 

By
5 pm the very same day, Pear’s study was featured on the front page of
Mashable, one of the largest blogs discussing social media and technology. By 6
pm, the study was the Number One and Two trending topic on Twitter.  Later
that evening, Kelly was interviewed by Robert Scoble, formerly of Fast Company
and now an evangelist for Rackspace .(CAN YOU GIVE ME THE LINK TO THAT – DIDN’T
See on GOOGLE? And from there it went viral.

 

Google
Pear Analytics today and you’ll see some 500 articles from everyone from the
BBC to CNET to NBC.com to outlets worldwide writing about its study. It’s the
sort of publicity a company would pay a big chuck of change to get.

 

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Besides
pointing out the phenomenal “make or break” quality of social media, there’s a
delicious irony to Pear’s story. Its study’s big news was that 40% of Twitter
messages are what it cleverly called “pointless babble” with just  8.7% of Tweets to be deemed of value with
worthwhile news content.

 

Of
course, without Twitter, Pear’s study might have seen the fate of so many
studies that end up unread and unreported. Nothing like soaring to prominence
on a media you’re deflating.

 

So
what’s the secret to Pear’s PR success?

 

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“I
can attribute its success to a few things,” says Ryan, who was as surprised as
anyone that the study took off and says “I know nothing about PR.”  “One, by analyzing the Twitter stream and
categorizing the content we did something no one else had done. Where, however,
we really struck a chord was by labeling the most popular category
“pointless babble.” I think if we would have named this something else, it
may not have gone as far. Most of the news outlets used that phrase in
their headlines.

 

And
lastly, I have to say we had a little luck that day in that no other major news
happened that week – like Michael Jackson – that would have buried our news
easily.”

 

And
we’ll add that he had the smarts to post this very not “pointless babble” on
Twitter.

 

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I’d
love to hear what you think about the “Tweet” heard ‘round the world and what
it says about the practice of public relations?
 

.  

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About the author

Wendy Marx is President of Marx Communications, an award-winning boutique B2B Public Relations agency known for turning companies and executives, including start-ups, into thought leaders. Follow her on Twitter @wendymarx and on Google+ @ plus.google.com/+wendymarx.

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