I realized today that I seem to have put off updating my blog for a little while now. I have been pretty busy as of late with a variety of projects but I figured it was time to take a break and share some knowledge. This post is dedicated to @WillDobbs as he gave me the idea to talk about what Arizona could do with social media to address some of the issues at hand with the infamous immigration bill known as SB 1070. There has been a lot of talk about the pros and cons about this law but since this is not a political blog I will not share my views on the this particular issue.

One of the reasons I decided to tackle this post is the fact that I loved living in the state. This has been quite the hot topic lately and not a good PR moment for the state. Is Arizona out of luck in the PR department? As long as they act to counteract the negative press right now and engage those who are already talking about immigration. Transparency is key in Marketing/PR. The first thing needed to avoid (or stop) a disaster is be open. In this instance there needs to be an open channel to the lawmakers. Why do voters like town halls? The transparency and the fact that they can get answers on the spot.

5 Social Media Tips to Potential Disaster Avoidance

1. Monitor your choice. What could be more important than knowing what is being said about the bill? From a PR standpoint, nothing. With that said, monitor the interwebs. I did a quick search on Google Blog Search, Technorati, and Twitter search twice and there are many opinion posts throughout each service. While it would be too daunting to try to control each and every site (and you should not try to control but direct the conversation), the Arizona lawmakers need to be voicing their concerns and opinions on this matter. Comment on the blogs and offer yourself for an interview. It will work in your favor.

2. Crowd Source. Online you will find those who are “brand” ambassadors. Promote them. Offer to be interviewed for their blog. Talk to the representatives from the other states that support your cause. Find those that are willing to help (This sounds like how the President was elected so you know it works). Join the Facebook pages that are for or against the bill… or even better, start your own to progress your specific platform for more exposure (it is an election year after all). Do you want to be really progressive? Start a Twitter Chat with your own custom hastag to have a discussion, you can live stream it as a town hall if need be.

3. Bookmark/Digg. If you want an educated populace, seek out those unbiased articles or blog posts that will give news. Unfortunately in politics that may not happen so try to find good posts that give both sides of the argument in a Delicious or Stumbleupon account. This gives instant access to information you want the voters to have. You can filter out the very biased/hateful posts that are bound to be found online. This can also backfire (on the strictly informational aspect) if your bookmarks are biased in nature.

4. Take a cue from Apple… just not with the iPhone 4 antenna issue. One thing I love about the Apple Fanpeople (being politically correct here) is the extent they go to for information on Apple. During WWDC there were many sites dedicated to a live blog of the event. Not everyone will be able to attend the hearings on SB 1070 so why not have reporters or even interns live blog the event. Any questions can be screened from the online sources and even presented at that hearings. Again, transparency. This is the online town hall format tweaked just a little.

5. Blog. Most politicians already have their own blog and with good reason. Be active on it. Blog often about what you are doing to further the cause of your choice. Post the occasional vlog to go along with your blog. People need to see your face to know that you are still around and active in the discussion. It does not hurt credibility either.

Use Satire. While this step may not contain social media, it will help. One could attend the taping of shows like The Daily Show or Colbert Report (make sure you have the facts set up and are confident in your convictions). Why? Well an interview with either of these gentlemen, while not easy, could possibly go viral. They each have a huge fan base and many more that would watch the clips online. For an easier time you could go on Fox News (if for the bill) or MSNBC. Any of these shows or stations would love to have an interview with any one of the lawmakers in the state of Arizona. (Only perform this step if you are very comfortable with your convictions being quasi-ridiculed)

Is it too late to come back from the PR black hole the state is sliding into? No, but action needs to be taken. It does not matter what your personal take is on the matter, with the outcry for and against this bill, action needs to be taken. Maybe it is because I am not currently in the state but the lack of communication I have seen is never good.

Bonus Step #6. Foursquare. Give each illegal immigrant a smart phone and have them check in to various government buildings. The badge they earn could be a badge of citizenship! Well maybe not….

Disclaimer: This is coming from outside the state of Arizona. These views are what I have seen in the media from another state. The actually reality of the situation is probably completely different.

What other ways could the state use social media to help either repair its image or show its strength? Let me know!

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