September 25, 2017

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

Time to be Gone?

Time to be Gone?

[nowisgone.jpg](http://www.amazon.com/Now-Gone-Primer-Executives-Entrepreneurs/dp/0910155739/ref=sr_1_2/002-5420764-0151215?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1190127794&sr=1-)Every social media consultant seems to be writing a book these days. Those who haven’t published yet probably are contemplating doing so. Since the community prides itself on having many smart minds, lots of good material gets written.
The latest entry to the fray comes from Washington, DC’s Geoff Livingston who, along with co-author Brian Solis, recently released *Now is Gone*, a 194 page primer on business participation in the world of social media communications. Organized into six chapters, this quick read attempts to lay out the reasons for participation, along with advice on how to create content successfully. It moves from there into promotion and other basic marketing tactics, as well as a look at the future as Livingston sees it.
For communicators just dipping their toes into the social media waters, *Now is Gone* provides a decent foundation for the skills and thinking necessary for a successful new media effort. The core principles that few would differ about – at least at the 30,000 foot level – like transparency, authenticity, and immediacy all make appearances. The book addresses the likely challenges and shares success stories, like Southwest Airlines and Coca-Cola.
Livingston, like many of his contemporary counterparts (including this scribe from time to time), does have a tendency to occasionally declare hard-and-fast rules where none exist (“Videos should be limited to three minutes.”). Sometimes the arrogance of those of us who are social media true believers also creeps in, as it does when the author reveals that he once told a *Washington Post* reporter to go to “blogsearch.google.com” to find the answer to why a client’s product was important. My guess is the conversation was more substantive than that, with a blog search suggested merely to support the claims he made on the client’s behalf (at least I would hope so).
At times, *Now is Gone* may even lead novices astray or scare them off, as when Livingston quotes the author of the blog BobMeetsWorld saying that “If I don’t see updates in 3 to 4 days I assume you must have stopped blogging and went on to do something useful with your life.” Yet very successful blogs exist despite publishing less frequently.
The religiosity of social media experts reveals itself on the section related to pitching bloggers. Livingston appropriately notes this is a controversial area, but he sides mostly with those who would oppose such a tactic despite including a how-to guide (“There’s much debate about communicating directly with bloggers. Frankly, this is a very dangerous tactic for novices…”). Of course, beginners face risks with all of their communications activities, whether in the new media or traditional media worlds. The notion that one should avoid direct communication with a blogger is, however, absurd and dangerous itself, in this reviewer’s opinion.
This is perhaps the area where *Now is Gone* feels most sorely lacking: a strong dialogue on blogger relations. Where the book focuses on content creation and general promotion, it does a good job of serving the basic needs of beginners. But it would have benefited from a deeper dive into the tactics and approaches that can be used to build rapport and support from others in the social media space. More fundamentally, it should encourage such behavior rather than putting fear into the reader. In general, people learn better by understanding how to do something successfully rather than focusing on failure avoidance.
Nevertheless, Geoff Livingston has successfully authored a book that many communicators new to the social media game will find to be a useful introduction to the techniques needed to thrive.
***Recommended, with reservations.***
[*Now is Gone*](http://www.amazon.com/Now-Gone-Primer-Executives-Entrepreneurs/dp/0910155739/ref=sr_1_2/002-5420764-0151215?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1190127794&sr=1-) by Geoff Livingston with Brian Solis (194 pages)

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About The Author

Chip Griffin is the Founder of CustomScoop. He writes and speaks frequently about data-driven public relations. You can follow him on Twitter at @ChipGriffin.

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5 Comments

  1. 12comm@sbcglobal.net'
    Lauren Vargas

    Relations with citizens or media is a basic PR function not being taught or well done on the job.
    I am curious…if more content about blogger relations had been added, would that not have been another example of creating “hard and fast rules”?
    Many of the best professional books are thinking guides and the reader is the user experimenting with processes best for thier niche.

  2. geoff@livingstonbuzz.com'
    Geoff Livingston

    Chip:
    1) Thank you for taking the time to read and review this book. I know your time is valuable.
    2) One thing about social media is that sometimes there’s a collective groundswell, and if there’s one area of the book that gets criticized more than any it’s blogger relations. I still feel appropriate in my recommendation given the Chris Anderson incident, etc.
    I did write up a review of criticism to date, and stated there, “…because the book is written for executives and entrepreneurs that have almost zero to basic experiences in social media, I stand by the original statement. It’s a primer, not a detailed how-to guide.
    “Folks that are new to social media don’t know how to pitch bloggers, and when they do, they end up in positions like these. Encouraging them to send a “good pitch” to bloggers when they cannot judge what good is? You may as well send a lamb to its own slaughter.”
    All remarks on criticism are tagged with my name URL. I will be sure to add this to the reviews tab, and make sure to highlight it when we do our round up at the end of the week.
    Thank you, again, for taking the time to read and review.

  3. chipgriffin@gmail.com'
    Chip Griffin

    Geoff, I understand that it’s a primer but I still would have liked to have seen you encourage intelligent outreach to bloggers as part of a communications campaign rather than trying to steer people away from it. My criticism here is meant to be constructive and I still think the book is valuable, just offering my thoughts as most reviews do.
    Lauren, I think that a discussion of techniques that work can be done without professing them to be hard and fast rules. I agree that making people think and experiment can be one of the best values an author can provide.

  4. brian@future-works.com'
    Brian Solis

    This is a really fair and helpful book review.
    The topic of blogger relations is a book unto itself. I’ve talked about the subject for a couple of years now and find myself repeating the same thing over and over, listen, read, humanize, make sure it matches their interests, don’t pitch, etc. etc.
    However, it’s still a popular topic as people really do need help and advice…especially as blogger relations moves along the marketing bellcurve.
    Geoff, perhaps in the next run we can add a chapter to it? Or, offer it as a download from nowisgone.com

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