Utah Technology Council (UTC) PR Event: How Social Media is Changing the Face of PR

This morning was the annual Utah Technology Council (UTC) public relations event. This event has become increasingly popular the third year UTC has offered it. The topic was New Media (surprise!) the fundamentals and forecast for 2008.

Three experts presented: Malcolm Atherton, regional lead and SEO expert for BusinessWire; Brad Baldwin, podcaster, pundit and co-founder of Utah’s Rocky Mountain Voices; and R. Dean Taylor, VP Marketing and Sales for COMPLETExRM (a strategy and development partner of FranklinCovey) and the founding executive of Caldera who was instrumental in launching the Open Source user community that helped to create and define the Linux market.

All three speakers had interesting things to say about social networking and search optimization. Malcolm noted the growing prevalence of RSS, blogs and microblogs (like Twitter), social bookmarking sites like Digg and, multimedia and universal search tools. Malcolm notes that while bloggers are now generally considered full credentialed members of the press, they often operate under different rules. They need to be approached differently than traditional journalists. And for PR professionals: You have officially now lost control. Our job is to recognize it, deal with it, and find the ways to embrace this fact as we move on.

Brad Baldwin talked about the growing popularity of video media, and the roles this medium played at last week’s CES. At least one company Brad mentioned, Celio Corp., used a podcast as the first-ever appearance of its REDFLY Mobile Companion. A quick Google News search on REDFLY will tell the rest of that tale: the story spread like wildfire and more than 22 news stories were out before CES even began. Brad also recommends PR folks interested in social networking get acquainted with Jeremiah Owyang, Sr. Analyst at Forrester Research Social Computing. Jeremiah publishes a weekly update,

Dean Taylor talked about finding the holes in the information vector and identifying the ways your company and message can fill those gaps. He advocates forgetting the myopic focus on “message” and instead stresses the importance of the concept.” Feed your news in a highly web optimized fashion in a way that fills those holes and you’ll effectively stimulate what Dean calls the “Piranha effect.” As a case study, Dean illustrated the recent announcement of COMPLETExRM a strategy and development partner of FranklinCovey in the development of PlanPlus Online.

Prior to this release, no one had ever heard of COMPLETExRM. So using all of these concepts, Dean and his PR team (yes, that was Snapp Conner PR) to identify the holes. In this case, it was tying the concept of Enterprise 2.0 to CRM (contact relationship management). No one had done that before, but we could see there was a significant interest and need.

COMPLETExRM also has some notable investors, most importantly, Donald L. Lucas, who has been instrumental on the boards of Oracle and Macromedia. He’s never invested in a Utah company before, and there’s a significant cadre of investors and industry watchers keenly tuned into what he might be doing next. Now they know.

The rest is history. Within three day of issuing its launch press release, COMPLETExRM had been picked up by 911 other sites. Within five days there were more than 10,000 pickups. Within nine days there were more than 7 million URLs linked to this single release. To say that social media is important for this company’s launch would be a vast understatement.

All of these speakers are available for follow up discussion. They’ll all be easy to trace, you can just search them on Google.