Friday, January 21, 2011

Inquiring Minds Want to Know – Does Quora Provide the Answer (and the Question)?

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the latest buzz about the newest social media tool on the block - Quora. If you’re like me, you’re already scouring articles, blogs and possibly even Wikipedia to figure out just what this new tool is all about and how it can benefit your clients or aid you in future research. 

Here is a quick overview of Quora. Designed by two former Facebook employees, Quora is a Q&A site similar to Wikipedia. All answers are submitted by users, but unlike Wikipedia, users can pose questions as well.  Users then vote answers up or down (think Digg) with the most popular answers at the top, but of course, there is no guarantee answers are entirely accurate. One big difference to note – this social media tool is not “open” to the public. Only registered users can pose questions and view answers. Rather than providing even more details about the site, read this article from the Wall Street Journal to get a more comprehensive review of this tool.  

Before you leave this post to read all the hype about Quora, one thing you need to be thinking about as a PR pro is how the media will be using Quora. With the advent of Twitter and sending 140-character pitches to reporters becoming more commonplace, Quora seems to be opening another door to connect with media. So, as you delve in to your research about how to start using Quora, take time to think strategically. How can this new tool help you do your job and successfully connect you with the media?  After all, isn’t our job as PR professionals to think like a reporter? Perhaps reporters will be using the site to poll users in their area about what questions they would like to see asked of particular interviewees in an upcoming interview session or maybe reporters will utilize the site to ask what is the “hidden neighborhood gem” that only locals know about. Or, they may even be searching the site to get their next story idea, contacting users directly to cite as expert sources for future trend stories. 

Whatever the question/answer is and before you jump in to the next social media tool, I would provide the same counsel to you that I do to clients. Be strategic! In fact, I’m sure the next “it” thing in social media is being developed as I type this. So, ask yourself: How useful is this tool to your PR strategy and can it help move the needle on your client’s business model? Whether you’re a PR exec in the business-to-business realm or business-to-consumer industry, you should be pondering that question.

At first glance, Quora seems like a useful thought leadership tool, providing even more online space for your clients to answer questions related to their industry (remember – no self promotion!) or it can be a great spot for doing research to learn more about the latest trends or to learn what is going on in your community. Or, maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to make a connection with that hard-to-reach reporter who won’t respond to your email pitches or calls. 

Here is my question:  Have any PR pros found success yet with this tool or made meaningful connections with the media utilizing Quora? I guess that is a question I will have to pose to the Quora community…

This post was contributed by Leah Ekmark