Posted by Tom Gable
SAN FRANCISCO — Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, meandered around the huge stage, somewhat like a magician or comedian working the space for effect as he engaged the crowd attending the PRSA 2012 International Conference here Sunday.
Giant screens flanked the stage so the some thousand PR professionals in the audience, even at the back a football field away, could catch his words and see his Cheshire grin as he told a quick person history before delving into his talk within the conference theme of “The Future Starts Now.”
The man who helped create Blogger, Xanga and Odeo said he saw the opportunity for the democratization of social media. The start was slow for Twitter until an epiphany at the South by Southwest (SXSW) technology and entertainment extravaganza in Austin, Texas, five years ago. A favorite restaurant was packed so they tweeted about meeting at another spot. When they arrived, long lines snaked out the door and around the corner.
He showed a cartoon slide of a flock of birds. The metaphor: envision the individuals moving independently then coming together and moving to a single place, drawn by a single call, common interests and instincts.
Stone said we are only at the beginning of this phenomenon called social media. The world will soon drop the term social media as we search for new tools to paint deeper pictures of ourselves.
We will be creating more information networks. The challenge, he said, is that information isn’t knowledge. Listening and then responding are key to developing understanding of the world around us. Something has to be done with the information to advance to the next level, whether it’s in public relations, marketing, philanthropy or just connecting socially.
Stone said PR has an incredibly bright future based on its ability to listen, understand and tell stories. With social media and other tools, PR professionals can create content and go straight to the source rather than through traditional media. Tell the story of the people and companies you represent directly, he said. It’s all about the narrative of the story. Stories with validity have value and the power to engage your audience.
For a new idea, Stone said there is a compound impact to altruism.
“Philanthropy is the future of marketing,” he said. He hired a corporate social responsibility (CSR) manager when they had just 16 employees – before he hired a sales manager.
The core tenet of the business is how people can work together to create tools to make the world a better place.
He made three key points that resonated with people as evidenced by the blast of tweets from the session, post-session conversations and in remarks by other presenters who referenced the Stone talk:
- To succeed spectacularly you need to be ready to fail spectacularly.
- Opportunity can be manufactured. What circumstance can I prearrange and take advantage of?
- Creativity is a renewable resource.