PR Word of the Week #10: Engagement

This week I thought I would talk about the foundation of public relations and communications: engagement.

Engagement is present in all we do as communicators. To have a successful social media corporate/personal presence one must engage with followers. To be successful in internal communications one must engage with employees. And to have a successful communications strategy or to run a successful communications campaign one must engage with consumers, stakeholders, media, and other audience groups.

We sometimes fall victim to our ancestry model of communications: one to many messaging. But with the digital and connected era upon us, engaging with key audiences is critical to success.

Therefore, as a reminder of the importance of engagement, here is the definition of engagement as defined by Jacob Morgan, co-founded Chess Media Group and widely regarded as a thought leader and community leader in social business.

Plus, this post is a perfect foreshadow to a very exciting post to come this weekend. Stay tuned!



Traditionally engagement has really been used in two very important historical contexts:

  1. A promise to marry, and also the period of time between proposal and marriage – which may be lengthy or trivial. During this period, a couple is said to be affianced, betrothed, engaged to be married, or simply engaged.”
  2. When Captain Jean Luc Picard from Star Trek was about to blast off into warp speed he would always say, “engage!”

So have we really gone from marriage proposals and intergalactic battles for world peace to now simply clicking a button?

I’m not saying there is a right or wrong way here to define engagement but I think that this all comes back to defining the objectives and success metrics for a brand/company looking to get involved in social anything. It’s meaningless for a brand to say it wants to be more engaged unless it defines engagement and says, “we want more comments, links, conversations, or whatever.” Personally, I always viewed true engagement as a type of collaborative relationship where a conversation or flow of information takes place between a customer and a brand/company – something that hopefully turns into a long term relationship.

The key points to remember in this definition are:

  • Define what your company’s objectives are and picture what success looks like if your company is perfectly engaged with your audience. Then do it, or as Captain Picard would say, engage.
  • Think long term relationship. As you build a relationship with your audience you learn about their needs, and more importantly, their wants. Information that ultimately helps increase your bottom line.
  • Example

    Blend Creations demonstrates excellent use of the word “engagement” in many aspects of their business.

    I met co-owner, Vivian Cheng, at a Girl Geek Dinner Ottawa event and instantly fell in love with her spunk and drive for success. Ever since, I follow her on Twitter, Facebook and through the Blend Creations blog. As a primarily online business, her team has to engage with consumers virtually, and what better way than through social media. Her team has monthly contests that encourage consumers to post ideas and comments on their blog. She uses Twitter to answer consumer questions and to connect with new people (of course both of which are considered engaging with your audience). And she attends speaking events to meet new people, some of which become consumers.

    You can follow Blend Creations on Twitter, Facebook or check out their blog.

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