The Friendly Chat: Kami Huyse, Communication Overtones

The following is cross-posted on a new blog called PNeo. Watch out for more cross-postings as well as insights, observations and analysis from the digital team at Porter Novelli, my employer.

Kami Watson Huyse, APR, principal of My PR Pro, writes about public relations and communications. She has a background in crisis communication and reputation management, executing social media campaigns, conducting focus group research, and media relations. She runs the Communication Overtones blog.

Why did you start blogging?
I started in 2005 having just moved from Washington DC. It wasn’t just a change in place – I found that I’d moved from a vibrant communications culture to a much smaller market. This was right after the first Iraq war and at this time I started to read Baghdad Burning, the blog direct from the conflict that told the truth about what was going on. All of a sudden, the world opened up again and it really changed my mind about blogging.

I could see that this wasn’t just a personal journal. I realised that blogs really are powerful communications tools. It was both fascinating and amazing to me that I could read the writings of someone in such a different situation from myself in a way which was simply not possible only a few years before.

As this relates to my profession, I’m very aware that two-way conversation just doesn’t scale. But since Baghdad Burning I’ve come to understand how potent blogging is as a scalable communications force.

What have been the professional benefits for you?
Firstly, it opened up my world again after I’d left Washington. I found the perspective shift very inspiring, personally as well as professionally. This continues through to my work in that, while there are obviously local considerations to PR, essentially we’re doing the same thing across the globe. So I find blogging gives me that global view which I wouldn’t otherwise have.

Blogging also helps me be holistic in my approach. I’m not a social media expert but I can now use social media in my communications mix. It’s true that being in at a fairly early stage did put me ahead of the curve and now I have plenty of people knocking on my door for business, which is always nice.

How do social media values fit alongside PR?
I think social media is much more than just a channel. PR is made up of many channels, but far fewer specialities, and that’s where I think social media fits, alongside, say, crisis communications, analyst relations and so on.

I would say it fits nicely within marketing PR. It’s another form of communications, albeit a very powerful one. This interview is a wonderful example of how it can bring people together!

What do you see as the main trends over the coming year?
I see increased professionalism of social media. Social networking is becoming much more mainstream and all-pervasive. Lots of people are writing about their passions and documenting their lives and that’s great for PR to tap into, but people now want to know what’s in it for them. Everyone is chasing the big advertising dollar, and sooner or later people are going to start wanting recompense for the ‘free’ content they’re providing.

Video will be really hot, especially in the mobile space. Products such as iPhone are blazing the trail with super multimedia models that push towards the ‘third screen’ of mobile communications. They’re currently trying to charge for every last penny but if they make it affordable then it will be big.

Integration will also continue. TVs are becoming computers, computers are becoming VCRs, and people are accessing more content when they want. This means that we, as communicators, need to be more sophisticated.

What has been your most successful post?
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Blogs – although I think this says more about SEO than anything!

Looking at the broader picture, overall my greatest success has been in establishing relationships with people – Shel Israel, for example. When I started blogging I almost didn’t think it was ‘for real’ – that is, that people actually communicated with each other too, not just with me! Since then I’ve become part of a community. All you have to do is reach out.

Ike Pigott is a great example of this. I first came across him when I noticed him commenting a lot on my blog. It turned out that whereas he used to work in TV, he is now working for the Red Cross – and that’s where I realised I shared a lot with him. I was a Red Cross volunteer and helped out at the Pentagon during 9/11.

So that’s the biggest success. I’ve realised that these are real people, and they can be your close colleagues.

What advice would you give someone starting a blog?
Consider these three points:

  1. The ‘Why’ – ‘why should I start a blog?’ You need to have an editorial. Don’t just do it because you can. Set an objective that you can achieve.
  2. The ‘Who’ – ‘who is going to post on this blog?’ If you’re a big company and you want to raise awareness, you need to put someone in place who can afford the time and is credible.
  3. The ‘What’ – ‘what are you going to say?’ You need to contribute to the conversation and community.

What is your favourite social media tool/technology/site?
Livewriter! I didn’t have offline editing for years but now I use it, I love it. It makes blogging much more enjoyable, much less of a chore.

Who is your favourite blogger?
Of the 150 or so bloggers in my RSS reader, I probably read around 50 of them fairly regularly so it is difficult to choose.

However, if I had to choose I think I’d go with Darren Rowse of ProBlogger. His attitude is very much one of ‘this is what I can give.’ He’s very open about making money out of it, and he’s full of insight and information.

More so than bloggers, I would say I have two mentors who have shaped my thinking quite profoundly.

  • Shel Israel – I like his ‘global neighbourhood’ approach.
  • KD Paine – in the way she consistently manages to reduce all this ‘fluffy stuff’ down into numbers

I feel I’m halfway between these two people – I’m a bit Shel and a bit KD!

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One thought on “The Friendly Chat: Kami Huyse, Communication Overtones

  1. Pingback: Ghost blogging? It’s going to happen. Get over it already. « Brendan Cooper, your Friendly PR Social Media Planner

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