Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Look Right, Look Left, Look Right Again

When you were a kid, your Mom always told you to “look right, look left, look right again” before crossing the street.

That’s pretty good advice that can easily be applied to a company’s PR and marketing programs. Too often, companies rush out (across the metaphorical street) and embrace the latest online programs because they don’t want to look like they aren’t “with it.” Social networking is a good example.

Not every company in the world needs a Facebook fan page…..or a Twitter account….or YouTube channel. None of these programs will make you successful on their own and certainly none of them are silver bullets that will enable you to leap frog your competitors. First, you have to look to make sure you’re customers are actively engaged at a professional level, and that they want to connect with you on any given platform.

The truth is, I’ve seen hundreds of companies launch social networking programs only to realize they don’t have the content required to make it meaningful or can’t attract an audience that cares.

The sad part is some corporate execs, in their rush to be relevant, don’t apply the same business diligence to PR and marketing programs as they do to other aspects of their business. So to take it back to the basics (just like Mama taught):

Social networking, Twitter, etc should only be part of your marketing programs if:

  • LOOK RIGHT - A significant part of your target market(s) are willing to engage
  • LOOK LEFT - The format provides a opportunity to demonstrate leadership, shape opinions or participate in debate; and
  • LOOK RIGHT AGAIN - It’s integrated into, and not separate from, other marketing and PR programs.

So before you fall prey to the social networking charlatans or run headfirst into time-consuming and irrelevant programs, take a hard look at your customer base on see if they would prefer a social network that is online or in person.


  1. Great post, Rich. I couldn't agree more. There is a great book by Seth Godin on this topic - Meatball Sundae. The basic idea is that meatballs are great, and ice cream sundaes are great. But they when you put them together in a meatball sundae, they don't make a compelling combination. We can look at new marketing tools - social media, etc - as the meatballs and should look hard at our business to see if it is the ice cream sundae.

  2. Richard, this is great advice for any marketing campaign. Your "LOOK RIGHT's" apply to more traditional forms of marketing and PR, as well as the 21st century options. But - your "LOOK LEFT" advice is the thing that resonates the most with me. No matter where a company is trying to disseminate its messages,if there is not a clear element of expertise, the communication is wasted.

    As for the comment on LInkedin that points out that your post appears ON Linkedin, I think it's clear that you have met your own criteria by posting to a venue that engages others, interfaces with your larger business profile, and, certainly, LOOKS LEFT!