A major b2b title in the UK has become the first to employ Social Media directly in the production of its print-edition editorial. Control Engineering magazine under the editorial direction of David Greenfield has only been an active participant in the business networking site LinkedIn since May 2009, but has already built a strong following of around 3,500 users. LinkedIn allows users to organise themselves into groups based on interests or professions. Each group offers its members an interactive discussion board facility that allows them to debate the various themes and topics they are interested in. By following and participating in these discussions on its LinkedIn and Facebook pages, Control Engineering’s editor has been able to tap into a rich seam of lively debate and informed comment from which to create highly-topical editorial. You can read the first article developed in this way here.
In a publishing world that has for so long simply regurgitated print editorial in online form, this is a very interesting development. Closing the loop between traditional and modern media makes a lot of sense from an editorial point of view; comment is easily obtained, it’s dynamic, fresh and completely democratic. Anyone has a chance to have their voice heard, not just those with big PR budgets and advertising spends.
For PR companies, it provides the clearest signpost yet that the role is changing. Clearly, it is no longer enough just to be writing and sending out press releases when editorial policy is being built in such a dynamic way; PR companies now have to take an active role in monitoring and engaging in forums such as Linked In and Facebook or risk having their messages left behind. It’s like the editors are stepping down from their ivory towers into a vibrant, thronging marketplace filled with colour and distraction. The challenge for PR people is to ensure they maintain an influential position in this melee; if you like, a guiding hand to lead an editor gently but firmly to their client’s stall. We can only do that by being there and staying connected.