Friday, July 17, 2009

Demystifying Public Relations in Second Life® Part 1

SL for many is an opportunity to create and share with others through enterprise. It can be done with relative ease compared to real life and although there’s no shortage of creative ideas, getting the word out about them can seem like a daunting task. It need not be. There is much you can do right away by making use of social networking tools and your own personal or brand blogs but the focus of this article is to get the uninitiated comfortable with the idea of working with the SL press to build PR for your brand.

Second Life has amazing media that is growing more sophisticated all the time. The SL press shares our excitement for all things SL and is always looking for a good story. If you have a story to tell, you can make use of PR to tell people about the great work you are doing. So, get any “information gatekeeper” stereotypes out of you head, have a look as we discuss the following myths and then …GET BUSY!

“I already do advertising, I don’t need PR”
If you are advertising effectively, that’s great but advertising and PR work in different ways. Advertising will make your brand identity pervasive in ways that PR cannot. It establishes an ongoing familiarity with your brand image and provides a direct link to your products. PR can do those things partially but the key difference is that PR makes your brand identity credible. With advertising, you control the message which on its simplest level would be “buy this product”. With PR, at least in the form of media coverage, your message is less controllable but the credibility that an objective review implies is much more powerful than a simple pitch.

“My product is good enough that the press will come to me”
Your product or service may very well be good but it’s highly unlikely that it will get noticed naturally. Lester Bangs roaming around in the 70s and discovering great music to write about is a romantic image but that was 40 years ago. People love musicians and love to write about them but in current times, musicians have to work at getting noticed. To get a product noticed, you need to work even harder and SL compounds that for one simple reason: SL is (ironically) made up of informal social groups of various sizes. Writers will tend to write about stuff they know about and unless your product touches their social groups, they won’t know about it until you tell them.

“I can’t do PR because I can’t afford a PR person”
Have you asked? PR and advertising in SL is a bargain compared to the terrestrial world even when taking dollars vs. Lindens into account. Even so, at Metahype we gladly tell people that we don’t have any tools or magic wands that aren’t available to everyone. A PR person will have relationships and knowledge that have developed over time but if you invest the time and be patient, there’s no reason that you can’t do the same. There are good PR tools and info available on the web and the very fact that you are in SL makes you tech savvy enough to find it.

“I can just pay a writer to review my product”
It’s not a myth. You can! Just remember that the key benefit to press is to enhance the credibility of you brand. Consider how you get information for products and services that you choose to buy. Would you think that product information is more or less credible if you knew that the source had been paid to write about it? Building a reputation for your brand is hard work. Dealing with shady media has the potential to negate your hard work and is not worth it.

“I’ll just send a notecard to all the writers”

You can, but it could also put you on a writer’s bad side. For example: if you want press about an article of clothing that you’ve made and randomly send a notecard about it to a writer who writes about A.O.s , you have basically just told that person that you’ve never read a single thing they’ve written. Take the time to research which writers are likely write about your brand and make a brief pitch that appeals to each of them directly. Most of all, be respectful, don’t waste their time and understand that their job is not to provide promotion for you. Their job is to write interesting copy.

Hopefully this brief post will inspire some of Second Life's creative people who aren't normally inclined to promote themselves. There are some savvy businesses in SL that may seem to have a promotional edge but we all start from the same place and if they do have an edge, it's because they've worked at it. Most serious PR people, including Metahype, are not going to claim to have all the answers. SL is fluid and always changing, so in a way, we are all learning together.

We'd love to read comments and tips from those just starting out as well as seasoned SL PR pros.

1 comment:

  1. Good points. In my own business - translation and copywriting services - I run into the almost identical problems of potential clients thinking the services are unaffordable. But those clients who think ahead and let me create their texts and provide translations usually come back to me saying they can immediately connect it to increased revenue. PR and marketing in general (and I count my business into this mix) is generally underestimated in SL.