Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Mind Your Engineers When You Want to Matter to the Tech Savy

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PRWeek has a front page story on LinkedIn in their February 4th issue (sorry subscription only) about how their marketing and communications professionals work together to 'spread' the message about LinkedIn. I know their Community Evangelist Mario Sundar, but i am also a big fan of what they are doing with new features and how they promote their services including how they communicate with their community, so i was glad to see a major publication for PR professionals in big companies in the U.S. highlighting their work.

The article highlights the way that LinkedIn uses Social Media, like their blog, their Answers feature, their YouTube channel and their Twittering (by multiple LinkedIn employees).

A lot of what is covered in the article is not new to the social media savy PR department, but what i thought was an important part of the article was the way that PRWeek author Aarti Shah highlights the shift of communications- moving from corporate PR and even to 'assigned' community managers, to their engineering community. From the article:

"For example, last month data portability was a hot topic in the blogosphere. Though the company did not plan to address the issue in its PR strategy, two of its engineers were able to insert LinkedIn into the dialogue by adding a post that addressed the topic from the company's perspective.
As most savvy tech companies have discovered, bloggers don't like PR pitches, but may listen when an engineer suggests an idea. So the company's blog is a way for engineers, working on projects they are passionate about, to communicate their excitement to bloggers, without watering the message down with corporate-speak from the communications department, Luo notes. 'A challenge with a blog is, it's not something your PR department can create,' Luo notes. 'It's a totally different psyche than I have as a PR professional.'

Many companies allow their engineers/developers to be a part of their public voice, take a look at for example the Microsoft and Sun Microsystems blogging communities to see how their engineering communities are huge evangelists for their products. Some use their corporate 'sanctioned' blog but many blog, twitter, etc. under their own domains and i have no doubt that for major issues there is back and forth communication between the bloggers and their executive and PR departments- for example when they come out to support initiatives like the decision to joined the DataPortability Workgroup.

What i find to be the most fascinating thing that this article highlights, is that it is not only senior executives in technology positions that are making important decisions on where their platforms are going- many decisions are being pushed bottom up- sure not new you might say but more and more with the support and ear of their PR/Corporate Communications groups.

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