Building Engagement: PRSA MD Slowly but Surely

It surely seems odd that a public relations professional chapter wouldn’t be an early adopter of the new media. But we weren’t. Our members were – and are – curious though. It’s that curiosity that gave us the platform for entering into social media sphere.

The focus of PRSA Maryland‘s educational programming for the year was social media. Our monthly morning workshops explored various tools, beginning with Jeff Davis’s hands-on presentation about Twitter, and inside looks at campaigns in the B2B, B2C and nonprofit sectors. These will be wrapped up this month with conversation with Sean Carton, Chief Creative Officer of idfive, guru and co-author of one of the first books about the Web (The Mosaic Quick Tour series). In October, our annual conference theme was PR Basics with a Twist: Evolving Your Relationships with a Twist.

We also added new categories to our annual awards program, Best in Maryland, to recognize use of the new tools (with a bonus to us of helping identify members who were already active in the social media arena.)

The next step was to launch PRSAMD’s own social media profile. We decided to focus our efforts on the conference. By creating a short-term, clearly definable project, I knew we could get volunteers and we avoided making a huge commitment. We started by gathering the conference speakers and volunteers on a call to brainstorm ideas, craft a plan, and get our initial volunteers.

We started a blog More Than PR Basics which served as our conference home base and a Twitter feed. We asked speakers to submit posts and assigned volunteers other topics. Two of us handled the posting. Another handled Twitter. We tagged two others to help with LinkedIn group and Facebook group.
Activity is up in all three areas. Our Twitter following continues to grow. We are still deciding whether to continue the blog – but there’s definitely interest. The test was a success.

The two lessons from this journey are simple. (1) Start with the member – what are they talking about and what will draw them into the conversation. (2) Start with a focused effort that doesn’t seem overwhelming and has an end date.

What lessons have you learned?