Making a Digital Impact

(Photo: World Economic Forum)

I was able to attend PRSA’s annual Digital Impact Conference yesterday in New York City where I had the good fortune to hear former World Economic Forum digital chief Matthias Lufkens present some slides on Davos’s adoption of social media during his seven-year tenure.

Matthias started at WEF in media relations, but had been toiling the last five years on the digital side of the PR equation. Two months ago, he left WEF to join Burson-Marsteller as head of digital for Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

 It’s no longer a matter of driving eyeballs to your company or organization’s website, he said in his opening comments. Now it’s all about building communities…using the social media channels du jour.  He then proceeded to run through WEF’s communications strategy — channel by channel.

In 2008, for example, some 23 WEF attendees were actively tweeting from the Davos. This past year, that number ballooned to 640 – or a quarter of all attendees.

B-M’s Matthias Lufkens

I was also impressed by WEF’s use of Livestream for open, web-based interactive sessions featuring many of the movers & shakers participating in the conference, and the use of Storify to capture and curate the most engaging “media” emanating from the conference.

WEF Digital PR Goals

His words clearly resonated with more than a few in the audience of PR pros when he reminisced about all those pressers that managed to draw just three journalists. The live web-streaming of a newsmaker lessens the need to explain a low physical turn out.  He also outlined the digital goals for the WEF. (See slide at left.)

WEF’s Facebook page has some 96,000 “Likes” and Flickr serves as the primary repository of WEF-generated still images. The organization’s YouTube site boasts nearly 7 million views, and these are not the 30 or 60-second viral variety. Most of the clips you’ll find are unedited and run 60-minutes in length. Following the presentation, I grabbed some sound with Matthias.

Here’s the audio clip. (RT: 5:05).

While at #PRSADIConf, I caught up with Gerard Corbett who assumed the chairmanship of the PR industry trade organization in January. I asked him about the results of PRSA’s recent open effort to redefine public relations for the modern age. I also asked about the organization’s recent stands on transparency, or rather the lack thereof as a result of Citizens United and commensurate rise of Super PACs.

Here’s the audio clip (RT: 7:25)

Ciarallo, Isserlis, Himler, Brown & Gleason (l. to r.) 

Finally, I had chance to personally preside over a panel of rising PR stars — all handling communications chores for successful New York startups. Joining me were Adam Brown, PR manager for Etsy, Erin Gleason, PR manager for Foursquare, Joe Ciarallo, VP, Communications for Buddy Media and Adam Isserlis, who just resigned as corporate PR strategy chief at Zynga to join Facebook’s communications team in New York. (Adam must like the IPO life.)

It was a fun discussion wherein we learned that Etsy’s traffic increased roughly “30 percent” following the addition in January of a “Pin It” Pinterest button to the site. Or that traditional media still drives meaningful results as we learned from Foursquare’s Erin Gleason who described the successive bump in downloads of the app as a “Good Morning America” segment hit the airwaves from east to west one day.

Buddy Media’s Joe Ciarallo talked about parsing the many media requests that come in over the transom and avoiding those that are seeking ancillary information, especially proprietary information about Facebook. And Adam Isserlis recognized how Zynga is primarily known in the hinterland through its consumer-facing sub-brands like Farmville, Words with Friends, and Castleville (his fave), and the recent purchase of OMGPOP with its hot Pictionary-like game Draw Something.

Here is some of the Twitter chatter from that session:

Mine @twitter for groundswell effect when launching a new product or sharing a news story. Build a following for your story.#PRSADIstartup

Being an early adopter of @etsy and @foursquare makes me feel like one of the cool kids #PRSADIStartup #PRSADIConf

Foursquare is in 750,000 businesses… with no sales team. They are more consumer focused. #PRSADIConf #PRSADIStartup

@AdamsIss on startup panel says PR is second most stressful gig behind pilots. #PRSADIStartup #PRSADIConf

If you’re only reactive then you’re not promoting the message you want to, instead you’re allowing others to @AdamIss#PRSADIStartup

How big are the PR departments at these startups? 1-12 people plus outside agency help #PRSADIstartup

Stoked! RT@laurenkgray: Zynga acquired Draw Something! No surprise there. #PRSADIStartup #PRSADIConf

Challenge for Zynga is people know the games, but not necessarily the company. #PRSADIStartup #PRSADIConf

50% of foursquare growth and usage is outside the US. I didn’t know that! #PRSADIConf #PRSADIStartup

Small team of @foursquare has grown dramatically in the past few years, a platform you must be on! #PRSADIStartup

A truth RT @airfoilpr: Digital doesn’t mean disposable. Great content endures and engages. #PRSADIstartup #PRSADIconf