Live… from Davos, Twit-zerland

According to my records, I averaged over an hour a day on Twitter last week. Not because I find the lure of constant 140-character correspondence with 100 of my closest acquaintances absolutely irresistible (although that is also the case!), but because one of our clients was in Switzerland and I had a job to do.

Tideway, one of the 15 IT companies chosen as a 2009 World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer, had the opportunity to attend the WEF’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland last week – a prestigious event that attracts the very top tier of entrepreneurs, politicians, media and geniuses from all over the world.

By now, you’re probably aware of the prominence Twitter has gained in the way people interact at conferences and trade shows.  It’s an ideal tool for connecting people who are all in one physical place, but don’t already know each other or have one another’s contact information. You may be surrounded by six hundred strangers in suits and nametags, but on Twitter you can be engaged in a dialogue with these people about the session you just attended, the big news a company just announced, the party you’re going to later, or the best booths to hang out in. We knew Twitter would be crucial at Davos – and before the meeting started, we had our eye on at least three dozen prominent attendees and media outlets who were already actively tweeting about it.

Tideway’s CEO, Richard Muirhead, sent tweets throughout the week reacting to panels and sessions, responding to open-ended questions, and distributing his first-person blog series about the Davos experience. Our job was to keep our ears to ground and eyes on the screen, communicating multiple times a day to relay who was talking about what, and identifying opportunities to connect Richard with people who would appreciate his perspective and personality. This was, of course, in concert with all of the traditional PR activity surrounding such a momentous event!

The outcomes of this strategy were huge. In just over a week, Tideway received first-time visibility in some of the highest-profile media outlets in the world, including Forbes.com (three times) and the BBC (twice).

Here’s the thing about social media: only the tactics are new. The philosophy remains the same. Following and corresponding with the Davos media on Twitter worked, because it enabled us to take advantage of timing and tailoring – two things every PR team should be doing with any pitch already. Our time spent digesting hours’ worth of 140-character dispatches paid off in knowing what journalists wanted to talk about, when they would be receptive to hearing about it, and where and how to approach them. It’s not always this easy!

The only thing left to be desired from Davos? Bono. He is apparently busy recording an album right now, and did not attend. Bono, if you’re reading this – Richard is still available to meet with you when you’re ready.

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