PR News Q&A: Lee Mikles on Navigating the Digital Highway

YouTube. Facebook. Twitter. Foursquare. The next big thing in content sharing and digital communications keeps coming, leaving many PR executives feeling like they’re constantly playing catch-up with their digital PR strategies. You can remain calm, though. Lee Mikles, CEO of The Archer Group, believes the rules of the digital road are the same for any PR strategy—have a clear message and listen to your audience. Mikles will elaborate on digital strategies, staff training and more at PR News’ Digital PR Summit on Oct. 6 in New York City. He’ll be on the panel, “Creating the Digital PR Dream Team.”

PR News: What keeps you up at night with regard to digital PR?

Lee Mikles: Seeing an inappropriate exchange between the company and some external person three hours and 20 exchanges after it started.

PR News: How do you blend digital with your “traditional” PR strategies? Are they one in the same?

Mikles: The message needs to be the same core message, regardless of the medium. The message is then expanded upon or modified based upon the medium. Just like you would treat a video release different than a print release, but both have the same core message. The messages need to drive to each other, with URLs, for more information. We can also watch the traction of our releases faster as they get retweeted, adding commentary in response to the community’s comments.

PR News
: How do you keep up to speed with new social media and digital platforms?

Mikles: [By relying on] Mashable and what my tech friends are sending me beta invites to.

PR News:
Are you able to link your digital PR outcomes to business goals? If you are, in what ways do you do it?

Mikles: I caution against putting too many measurement requirements to social media as you get started. While we have been able to measure an increased awareness by our target and even received business as a direct result of our social media, digital PR is about building trust and delivering value in your conversations. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, summed it up: “Twittering is like hugging. Just because it's hard to measure the return on investment doesn't mean there isn't value there.”

PR News
: What would be your first piece of advice for a PR executive looking to ramp up a digital strategy?

Mikles: Listen. Just as it is impossible to jump into a conversation at a dinner party without first listening to the audience, it is equally difficult to jump into Twitter or Facebook without first listening to others. Start tweeting, if only personally, follow people you admire and search for ideas that interest you. See how the conversations go and how people inject their PR messages.

Attend PR News’ Digital PR Next Practices Summit on Oct. 6 and learn more from experts like Lee Mikles.