"Hypermicro" Public Relations

IStock_000007373879XSmallMore and more agencies have figured out that they need to incorporate “Blogger Relations” into their bag of tricks.  (Whether they are doing a good job is debatable, ok, I know.)

But if you’ve learned nothing else from this blog, you know it’s not just about the bloggers.  The seismic shift is about the people.  The just folks.  The average joes & janes.  They’re not all blogging.  In fact, most of ‘em are not blogging.

Meanwhile, Twitter and Facebook are growing like crazy.  There’s a good reason for it: the barriers to content creation are incredibly low.  The ease with which you can find and interact with like-minded contacts, including friends, is nearly miraculous.  As net pundit Clay Shirky pointed out in a recent speech: now, “the technology for publishing is the same technology used for consumption.”  And that makes all the difference.

That’s why more and more of our PR programs target not just mainstream media and bloggers but also “regular folks.”  The latter can be found in Facebook Groups, on Twitter, in message boards, etc.

In fact, we are developing a strategy this month for a major brand, and there is no call from the client to contact mainstream media … bloggers are important to the mix, but are just one aspect … the bulk of the work will be done along the furthest edges.  That’s what the CLIENT wants.

Think back 18 months ago, my fellow PR professional.  Were we writing PR proposals that targeted Joe Mouseclick?  Would our Big Name Client have been satisfied with a PR plan that had ZERO Media Relations aspects? No, we were “influencing the influencers” who influenced the masses.

But paraphrasing Shirky again, this is no longer about “professionals broadcasting media to amateurs.”  The amateurs are as important as the tastemakers.  We’re going “hypermicro.”

Scalability challenges? Huge. Exciting? Dangerous? Hard to measure? Definitely. Would I go back to Ye Olde & Simple Days of PR? NFW.

Posted on: June 17, 2009 at 11:55 pm By Todd Defren
54 Responses to “"Hypermicro" Public Relations”


  • Paul Gillin says:

    Interesting perspective, Todd. I’m wondering, though, if hypermicro PR is really just another word for advertising?

  • seth hart says:

    this post is soooo late. this is insightful? welcome to 2007.

    • TDefren says:

      If I thought everyone would take the time to read my 2007 archives, Seth, maybe I wouldn’t have written the post.

      But something tells me that the age-old PR maxim: “Tell ‘em the story, then tell ‘em again, then remind ‘em of what you told ‘em” is an age-old PR maxim is because it’s true.

  • larsv says:

    Great post! I used to work in a PR agency. And the MD basically put Social Media = Blogger Relations with $$$ signs in his eyes…

    Well – somehow connects to the 90-9-1 rule (http://www.wikipatterns.com/display/wikipatterns/90-9-1+Theory). Who do you wanna reach out to and what’s the right strategy. And about 1,5 yrs ago most countries (especially in Asia) didnt have the critical masses for networks like Facebook.

  • George Snell says:

    Right on the money, Todd. Can we really be entering a world where media relations is a secondary tactic to a communications program or a major campaign? Certainly heading in that direction.

  • You bring up valid points. With this hyper connectivity how do you decide which is best for everyone involved?

    You need to have the people that love and adore your product but at the same time you need to relate to a lot of people.

    People need to discover something and then you need to be discovered too by the people who care.

  • David Mullen says:

    Great post. It’s exactly what I was trying to say in a post a few months back – The “P” in PR should stand for People – though you state the case much better here. :) In lieu of a link attached to my name above, I hope you don’t mind me sharing a link to that post – http://bit.ly/ZMGm5.

    As you’ll see, I couldn’t agree more. I’ve got major questions about scale and such, but I think we’ll see more clients move in this direction.

  • Camilla Sullivan says:

    I totally agree with the thoughts here..question this raises to my mind is… what does this mean for PR practitioners and the labor intensity of fragmenting communications? Will it take 20 micro campaigns to do what one big one used to do?

  • dominic says:

    Very interesting point.

    This raises a question. If PR engages with regular folks. What are sales people supposed to do ? Are they ending up talking with the same people but with different objectives?


  • Are they really the regular folk though? Aren’t you still targeting participants in social networking/bookmarking that have influence. They still have power it’s just recognized in a different way.

    It’s been interesting to see this shift (no pun intended) take place though over the past 4-6 months.

    • TDefren says:

      Yes, they really are “regular folk.” I am talking about trying to form relationships with, and influence, individuals whose only link to our client may be that they are a member of a Facebook group. You wouldn’t know their names, never will.

      BTW I like that particular pun. ;)

  • Antonio Montero says:

    With Hypermicro PR we are probably seeing the true beginning of the 1 to 1 marketing that has been talked for years. The issue of scalability is probably the biggest challenge. However, think about it: would brands be better-off by investing to train huge staffs of people to correctly engage customers instead of spending huge amounts of money in massive ad campaigns? Ad campaigns can buy you some attention, yes. But no ad campaign can buy you the respect and happiness of your customers, fans, and people in general. This kind of investment may be more effective in driving more and better word of mouth. And, ultimately, this approach could be more effective in making actual customers more happy and acquiring new customers a lot easier.

  • Evan says:

    NFW? “Not For the World??

    j/k, no it’s not to late to blog. but (and I might be mistaken, only a student) I thought PR was always supposed to be about the people? Like, I thought that focusing on that smaller consumer aspect was what originally made PR so crucial? So would this be a return to the basics?

    • TDefren says:

      Actually, from its inception PR has been about Media Relations, i.e., using mass media to reach the masses. However, you are right Evan that this hypermicro approach is a return to our original mandate. NOW we can do what we were SUPPOSED to do.

  • TDefren says:

    Thanks for the late night indulgence, Chelsea.

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