Since starting this blog and dipping my toe (ok, big flat foot) into the new sea of social media - or 'Web 2.0' as some would call it - all sorts of new doors have opened, new connections have been made and new learning has flooded in.
Youngsters will scoff at this daft old bird. Much brighter brains in PR will be on a whole different level of understanding and sophistication (I certainly don't expect them to read this blog!). But I hope I can share some of this learning, for the benefit of clients or others just beginning their introduction to good PR in the construction and property sectors. My observations are still very much from the position of a newbie... not a day passes when I don't learn something new.
For many of my clients (and maybe future clients too) are starting from a similar place. It's a good exercise to report on 'first impressions' before this all blurs into comfortable familiarity and I forget what it's like to start from scratch.
So what have I done so far in the first weeks of 2009?
- I have started this blog, and found that I can link these posts with my profile on LinkedIn.
- I have discovered a whole load of other bloggers whose posts I am alerted to automatically by RSS feeds.
- I have joined Twitter and started following the news/comments ('tweets') of a wide group of people and publishers. And yes, I too have joined the 50,000 others who follow Stephen Fry.
- I have even found a way to tweet on the move by installing Tweetie on my iPhone.
- I have joined Be2Camp and its ConMarcoms 2.0 Forum and a host of other relevant discussion forums on the web.
- I have started reading and noticing so much more information, advice and guidance on the use of social media in PR and, specifically, in the sectors I serve.
- I have even started spreading the word - you should have seen the look of amazement when I introduced my husband to some of this technology and he saw how it could help his business!
And first impressions?
1. Cyberspace is friendlier than I thought it would be. Thank you to the very many people who have made me feel welcome and have happily shared their knowledge and ideas. I would urge anyone else thinking of trying new things to have a go. Everyone appears to be extraordinarily patient and helpful!
2. It's time consuming, but relatively simple to build these communications activities into an office-based day. (If only my attemps at daily exercise were this easy...)
3. There are some interesting and important ethical issues for PR folk like me, not least balancing the absolutely fundamental and deeply-ingrained commitment to confidentiality against the exciteable urge to tweet about what's going on at every opportunity. (More on this soon)
4. There's no going back now. I already have a wishlist building up of fascinating things that I want to share - creative new communications ideas, observations about the media and how it's approaching certain issues, other peoples' blogs, interesting articles I've read elsewhere... What I'm learning is that I need to be focused. Just because I have now 'found my voice' doesn't mean I should use it!
5. The pond is still very small. At the moment, the Web 2.0 community in construction and the built environment looks to be pretty small and tight-knit. I hope to learn a lot from their intellectual generosity, but I can already see a risk that we might sometimes forget how to talk to the outside world too in a way that makes all this seem accessible and beneficial to real business. That's something I want to make my mission in 2009.
Finally, a thought on the best place to start a journey like mine.
Personally, I think finding a way to use RSS feeds (eg. within Internet Explorer or your usual home page on the web) to keep you alerted to other people's online publishing is the best way to get started.
For example, if you're interested in sustainability in the built environment (a key aspect of our work), start reading blogs like zerochampion, Elemental and SaaStainability. Look at their Blogrolls (lists of other blogs they recommend) and see where that leads you.
Read, follow links, don't be put off by the jargon and suddenly a whole new wonderful world opens up. Just please remember to let me know what you find - I'd love to join your journey too!