What started off as an interview with Christine Perkett of PerkettPR about social media, expanded to also include a discussion about the virtual world of PerkettPR and the things companies need to consider when deciding to take on social media. I found my conversation with her to be both enlightening and rewarding. From the beginning she created her own way and has held true to her values. Creating a virtual company at a time when it was not common (the mid 90s) was not an easy task. Neither was creating a strong culture, which she knew was the key to the success of her company. Over the last decade, she has done both and now she reminds her clients about sticking to their goals and values as well.

Christine talks about Perkett PR.

Christine founded Perkett PR in 1998 to fill a void in the PR world as an in-between agency. She started off and has continued to hire only senior level executives for her virtual company. In the beginning, convincing people that Perkett PR was a viable company was a challenge, but overtime virtual companies have become more widely accepted. When I asked her how having a virtual company affects the culture, she explained that she makes it a point to focus on the culture and to keep the team strong. While the employees’ offices may be remote, the team does get together regularly to work.

Being virtual both increases and minimizes the challenges of maintaining a successful culture. It also has an effect on the company’s brand. Until a solid reputation for Perkett PR was established, Christine was often asked “How do you brain storm? PR is a lot of intellectual capital and feeding off of each other’s energy and ideas. I am concerned you will not be able to do that.” She was able to reassure prospects and clients by explaining that PR executives are naturally very social, they like to interact with people and be involved. Because of this, getting employees together and establishing a connection among them has not been a challenge – but has always been a priority. She was given confirmation of the payoff of this a few years ago when the agency won one of their biggest clients. Christine asked the client why PerkettPR had won and they responded with “we were blown away by the bond of the team for any agency let alone a virtual agency.”

Christine talks about Social Media.

“The beauty of social media is you can go beyond what you already knew, the people you already know, and you can go beyond your own comfort level.” Christine says as she agrees that social media is a powerful trend; but she also feels that the term ‘social media’ causes confusion and anxiety. The term has become a catalyst for other issues that companies are having around social media. Because of its popularity, they feel the need to get involved and often have no idea of where to begin.

Christine explained how she feels social media is lacking a definitive explanation that everyone agrees upon. She also feels the word, ‘media’ makes people and companies think ‘media coverage,’ which it is not. Before jumping on the social media trend, you still need to look at the big picture and ask yourself two questions:

  1. What is my larger business goal? 
  2. How is social media going to help us accomplish that?

Christine reminds companies to “Let your goals drive your approach with social media, instead of having social media drive your goals.” The other key thing that companies need to remember is that social media is meant to be “social” – this means to be engaged, listen and respond to what people say to you or about your brand or company. Using social media just to talk at people is not likely to be effective.

As we wrapped up our interview, I asked Christine “What is the smallest thing that companies should do, but often do not?” To my surprise, her answer was video. But she did not talk about video in the sense of a podcast; she talked about simply taking a video camera to a user conference, networking event or tradeshow and she recommends that you ask everyone the same question or two. When you get back to the office, slice up the video, post it on your website and integrate it into your marketing. Write about why you asked that question or how the answers surprised you and make sure you connect it to your value proposition. This is a quick and easy way to create personable content that can connect with your audience.