Posts Tagged ‘UGA Connect 2009’

“I hate social media.” – Jeremy Pepper on Integrating Social Media into Business & Industry

September 19, 2009


Jeremy tells it like he sees it

Jeremy tells it like he sees it

The crowd gasped. Our PR world stopped spinning. I think I felt a tiny earthquake. Did Jeremy Pepper, director of communications and social media for Palisades Systems, just say he hated social media at a social media conference? Yes, he did, and he had one heck of a good reason:

“The term ‘social media’ ignores what we’ve been doing in PR for the last 50 years. It’s a new term for things we’ve been doing forever; it’s just another way of engaging people.”

Public relations is all about using engagement to get  people excited about your brand, and social media is just one of the ways we as PR practitioners can do this. Pepper gave great examples of how companies are using social media to drive engagement from online to offline. Chick-Fil-A, for instance, holds tweet-ups to get mommy bloggers to come to their family story times. Pepper himself uses Twitter to find people that hate the competitors of his company. He then offers these people help or advice, and in doing so, creates fans and praise for his company.

Pepper says we need to step outside of our own little worlds and start seeing the endless options we have for engagement. Twitter is often seen as a purely Business to Consumer medium, but Pepper revealed that it actually works wonderfully for Business to Business communication. In fact, Twitter is where Pepper reaches most of his stakeholders.

While Pepper is not a fan of stunt PR, he admits that creating a buzz online drives buzz offline, and traditional journalism will jump in here. Journalists will write about an online hit, but that is not to say that social media is the end-all-be-all in communications. “Social media creates cowards,” Pepper said, “Even CEOs complain on Twitter about other companies. Is this really appropriate?”  He also thinks it creates unequal treatment and raises a good question: Do people with more followers deserve more attention or more respect?

One particular mommy blogger received a phone call from Maytag almost immediately after complaining about the company on Twitter. Is that fair? Shouldn’t social media be used to respond to all customer concerns? Isn’t the ability to interact with all consumers the point? Pepper thinks s0, and this mantra is what has made him an expert in the very term he hates. He shocked us, made some valid points and got us talking. Yep, sounds like Jeremy Pepper has this whole “social media” thing figured out.