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'Zombie Media': Are We Guilty?
By: Gerard E. Mayers
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Shelly Stevens, Waggener Edstrom’s vice president of global brand strategy and marketing, recently had an interview (on video) with Mark Ragan, publisher of PR Daily. Mr. Ragan noted the popularity of social media such as Pinterest and asked the question, “Is a site such as Pinterest ‘right’ for me as a publisher?” To get a perspective on the topic, he turned to Ms. Stevens and had a very interesting discussion.

As flacks, we all know the work of public relations these days embraces not only press releases but the entire media package — including social media. I am also sure we have all (or most of us have) experienced that phone call or email from a client or manager to arrange a meeting “to discuss launching ‘a Facebook’ or ‘a Pinterest’ for the brand” according to an article contributed earlier this week by the writers of Ragan’s PR Daily website. According to Ms. Stevens, if you agree to the proposition of creating a Facebook page or a Pinterest board or a YouTube video, you may be heading for trouble. In fact, you could be heading down to road to something she called, “zombie media.”

Whoa! “Zombie media”? What’s that?

In the interview I alluded to at the beginning of this piece, Ms. Stevens first of all noted the necessity of knowing the constituency towards which the brand in question is aimed at and whether or not the brand is a visual one that a site like Pinterest could easily help, giving examples such as a publishing media company, a retailer “like Nordstrom,” or perhaps even a restaurant. And if your brand was not necessarily a visual one, would Pinterest work for you? Or, if your brand was more content related, would something like Twitter or Facebook be best?

Also, as marketers and flacks, we all tend to like the “bright, shiny new objects,” Ms. Stevens says, and be at the forefront of utilizing new technologies to get the brand message across. But we need to look at new media outlets (like Pinterest) and ask ourselves, Ms. Stevens noted, where the relevance for our particular brand might be, and how we can use the new outlet to help us get the brand message and content across. Even more important, if we do use the new outlet, how will we make sure the information we post is updated, kept current, etc.?

Ms. Stevens noted, “If these things are just set up and then left, it actually causes a different problem, which is embarrassment... and you don’t really look like you know what you’re doing.”

For an agency or an in-house marketing/PR department, that would not be good. In fact, not properly setting up and maintaining a social media presence could be harmful... and be a case of “zombie media.” no


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About the Author
Gerard E. "Gerry" Mayers writes about PR and other relevant topics for PR professionals. A former PR manager for Sensor Products, Inc. (currently based in Madison, NJ), he lives in Milford, NJ.
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