Internet Week 2011: A PR/Advertising person attending Internet Week walks into a bar….

With Internet Week 2011 winding down in New York City, we wanted to ask someone who saw about as much as of the week’s festivities as one person could. Here’s what you missed, and what you need to know about this year’s Internet Week from guest Stephanie Grayson, an experienced communications professional and friend of Affect’s.

A PR or Advertising person attending Internet Week walks into a bar…. No, it’s not necessarily a joke that requires a fill-in-the-blank answer.

There were many of us PR/Advertising-savvy types at Internet Week (#IWNY), and after the sessions and panels had wrapped, many of us did continue our networking and socializing at the bar parties afterwards. Need proof? Checked Twitpic or Facebook lately?

All kidding aside, there were some rather serious business-oriented lessons to be had from this year’s Internet Week. I’ll share a few of those with you here, keeping with a “bar” theme. (I’ll take some poetic license with the “bar” thing, so just work with me here, OK?)

“Bar” #1: Storytelling, Humor and “Touchy-Feely” Moves to B2B

It’s very clear at this point that “THE BAR IS RAISED” regarding engaging in an effective and relevant way via social media, and that’s no longer limited to B2C companies, but also B2Bs as well. After all, companies are made up of people, and those people have emotions that (whether they are conscious of it or not) are driving many decisions. At Internet Week, there was great emphasis on using strategies in corporate communication efforts that only a few years ago, some might have dismissed as too “touchy-feely” for business.

This year amongst business types, there seemed to be an increased appreciation and perceived business value for reaching out for that emotional connection. There were many mentions of “storytelling”, both auditory and visual, within a corporate context. There were a lot of discussions about how “humor” is important and can not only help connect with an audience, but also may help a brand diffuse a situation if there is some unwanted brand-mocking going on.

“Bar” #2: There’s a Social Media Strategy for Every Business (You Just Have  to Figure it Out)

“BAR NONE”, today’s companies, B2C or B2B, can certainly benefit from some type of social media presence. Of course, you didn’t really need to attend Internet Week to know this, but it was certainly reinforced as to how many different shapes, flavors, and textures that social media presence can have and that there is a strategy out there that will be a good fit, if only you just dedicate some time to figure that out. There are so many options, formats and mediums available when it comes to social media, and a much larger price to pay in abstaining. Authenticity resonates, so it’s also important, whatever the approach/strategy, that the social media presence be true to the “voice” of the company/brand.

“Bar” #3: Messages have to Be Crafted With Two-Way Communications in Mind

“DON’T BAR-K”. (OK, so “bar” is in there. It counts!) This year’s Internet Week attendees realize that the era when only one-way communication was sufficient is over.  Barking at people about what your company feels is important with timing of your company’s choosing will no longer cut it. Companies can still craft messages, but that they also need to listen, engage, and do it all in a timely, relevant manner. Just as it wouldn’t be a good idea to crash a bar party and thrust your business cards into everyone’s hands suddenly without an introduction and some conversation, this holds true for today’s online business presence as well. Also, timing is important. Even if you love animals, if you’re not expecting a dog to bark, and he does suddenly, it can be startling. If in real estate, it’s “location, location, location”, then in social media it’s “timing, timing, timing”. People and companies are surely more receptive when the timing is right.

Hope these 3 “bar” tips I’ve shared here are helpful and satisfying. Speaking of satisfying, all this “bar” talk is making me crave a bar of a different kind. (Hmm. Should I go with milk or dark?) It must be Internet Week sweets truck withdrawal.

-Stephanie Grayson (@Critiques4Geeks)

Stephanie Grayson is an experienced corporate communications professional in New York who sometimes guest-blogs on PR and Advertising when cool people ask her to.