Community PR: 5 Relationship Circles

Creating community: one of the biggest missing pieces in the marketing and PR puzzle. Whenever we present our accelerated marketing plans, we always talk about creating, building and nurturing a community.

In plumbing the depths of my experiences archive, I remembered this presentation I created four years ago. Dual cast to a live audience in the room and over the Internet, the presentation covered the five keys to creating your customer community. First posted in 2008, here’s the outline with 2010 updates. .

1. Discover who you are and how you relate to your community
Values + Communities = Core Business Values
values: how to determine your core values
communities: internal, external, vendors
business values
What types of communities do you belong to or resonate with – personally and professionally? Online and offline?

For me, my online connections become real life relationships that get nurtured and cared for at events like Social Media Club Chicago. When you see people frequently, you get to know them. Common sense – yes? What’s really intriguing for me is the ability to carry on simultaneous conversations face to face and screen to screen. What intrigues you?

2. Reveal how your community relates to you
Target x Questions = Answers + an active customer advisory board
current target market
interview questions
evaluating answers
Choose your top ten customers and interview them to find out how your business fits into their lives.

You [and your company] are who you hang with. So, choose your social media and IRL [in real life] friends and business associates carefully. Target your interactions to connect with people that bring you alive and make your more successful. Marathon runners train with marathon runners. Who’s running as fast as you? Who has a common course or finish line?

3. Listen to your customers tell your story
common vocabulary
case studies = successes
open lines of communication
Can you tell your story in your customer’s voice?

One client asked us to interview 43 people – that’s how many folks he thought he needed to hear from to be able to tell his company’s story. In the course of the interviews, a vocabulary developed, an approach took shape and a success theme got scripted. How do people talk about you and what you do? Last night someone told me I had the reputation of being very friendly and approachable – I treat everyone the same. While it felt good to hear that, it was also a call to action to keep being who I am. What’s your reputation?

4. Connect your inner circle of communities
who: customers, partners, vendors, personal
what: you do for them
what: they do for you
How do you fit together?

Some people never, ever, ever mix business with anything other than business. In their personal community, they’re more known for social, athletic, family or local leadership accomplishments than they are for professional pursuits. Social networking allows you to blur the borders and present a multi-dimension presence. How do your communities represent you? How do you represent your communities? How does your business get social?

5. Cascade communications in tiers
internal: inside
external: outside
online: on screens
offline: direct
in person: face to face
The most effective communication plan delivers consistent messaging to every audience via sequencing to maintain a visible presence in each community.
How do you draw your circles?

Image credit: Phoebe Svoboda for
Contact Barbara about making this presentation to your organization or community at 630.207.7530.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

8 thoughts on “Community PR: 5 Relationship Circles”