Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Experts in the Industry: Christine Perkett (71 of 45)

We were lucky enough to have one of Christine Perkett's colleagues, Lisa Dilg, as the 8th interviewee in the Experts in the Interview series. To this date, Lisa's interview is still one of the most visited in the series. So what I'm wondering is if we can create a friendly rivalry between two very smart, well-connected and savvy PR women who truly understand how to tap into the power of social...

Before we get started, a little background on Christine. I first met her along with my old boss, Barry Libert, at the California Pizza Kitchen back in the summer of 2007. We were thinking about using Christine's company, Perkett, as our PR firm (Christine is the founder and president of Perkett). For anyone that's ever met Barry, he's a big thinker and can be a little overwhelming in a first interview. Fortunately for Christine, she's cool and calm under pressure and was able to roll with the punches. Ever since then, I've had an appreciation of Christine and how hard she works.

Now onto the questions:

In one sentence, please describe what you do and why you’re good at it.
I help people successfully connect and communicate with their core audiences – person-to-person, business to customer, brand to consumer, etc. - and I’m good at it because I listen first.

How did you get into the world of online community, social media or social marketing?
I’d say my first foray into online community came through working with clients - as far back as a decade ago - that connected users with other users in more interactive ways. It wasn’t called “online community” then but in essence it was. For example, clients such as Salesnet (now RightNow) – which used SaaS to connect sales executives for sharing best practices and defining methodologies - were the first of their kind to recognize the value in adding community and social aspects to an otherwise anti-social business process.  

I also worked with plenty of start-ups in the 90s that created social and community aspects around everything from online swaps to dating to gift exchange. Unfortunately, most of them were ahead of their time.

If you had $10 million to invest in one company and one company only based on their use of “social,” which company would it be and why?
Oh that’s tough. The popular answer would of course be Twitter or Facebook or some other entity already proven to be well accepted and on its way to success. But I thrive on innovation and intelligent risk - it’s why I love working with start ups! I’m close with an entrepreneur who built and sold a successful company in the last boom and who has several other brilliant ideas. Although I can’t share yet, one of those ideas combines community, user-generated content, video and Digg-like voting in a way that no one’s yet delivered. Oh it’s so cool! It’s like those old “choose your own ending” books with video. I’d invest my dollars there, absolutely.

Which business leader, politician or public figure do you most respect?
I found this question particularly difficult, as so many of our public figures have let us down lately. I can’t truly say there is one I most respect – I’ve never been much of a “favorites” type of person. But I have to say I really respect Hillary Clinton. Not from a political standpoint – I’ve never voted for her and I actually hate politics, but from the viewpoint of a strong and resilient, assertive woman. Personally, she’s proud of who she is and doesn’t apologize for it no matter what the naysayers throw at her; she kept her private decisions private during a very painful and public intrusion in her life, and she rebounded. In her career she’s also had disappointments but she didn’t let them stop her from embracing other opportunities – she didn’t win the Oval Office (this time) but she accepted her current position as Secretary of State with grace, poise and commitment. She possesses some admirable qualities that more of us could embrace or learn from: strength, pride, commitment, grace, tenacity, poise, forgiveness, loyalty and resiliency.

Would you join a toothpaste community? Why?
No, but I would follow a toothpaste brand who had interesting or entertaining content to share on Twitter, or perhaps join their Facebook fan page if they delivered compelling reasons to do so. Come meet me – and engage with me – where I already am. Otherwise, I have to track too many communities. Thus, Twitter’s brilliance.

Freeform – here’s where you can riff on anyone or anything – good or bad. Or just share a pearl of wisdom.
Hmmm so many topics…. So little time. Okay here are a few things:
  • The social media Kool-Aid….there are way too many people enamored with the new wave of “social media experts.” Just because someone tells you they can set up a Facebook fan page, capture video or understand Twitter doesn’t mean they are going to help you make the most of these communities. I think “expert” goes way beyond that – do they know how to deliver compelling messages and content through these tools? Are they able to teach you who to engage with and how to create relationships? Do they understand why you want to be a part of communities – is it personal, business, both? Can they clearly and succinctly explain the ROI and value to those they are trying to teach – whether it’s an individual like an author or a jeweler, or a business selling enterprise software? The SME moniker is overused, abused and tiring.
  • PR is not dead. I don’t care how great social media is. Like I said, you can use as many tools as you like. You can record as many videos as the next guy. But unless the messaging is compelling and it’s reaching the right audience – thus making an impact – it’s a moot point. PR will always have a seat at the table – social media is just forcing the good PR up and the bad PR out. And it’s about time!
  • The economy is tough for most everyone right now. So many articles talk about the employees laid off or the bad leaders who got us into this mess. What about the good leaders – small business owners for example - who are forced to make tough decisions to keep their business alive? It’s not easy – or fun – for them either. People tend to overlook that or make it personal.
  • People are very passive/aggressive in social media. Watching the behavior – and the underlying messages – is absolutely fascinating. I can’t wait to see the fallout of the madness and where everyone lands.
  • I’m glad I met you, worked with you and that we’ve stayed in touch. Thanks for this opportunity, Aaron. [AWS: Same back atcha Chris!]

If you are looking for Christine on Twitter, her handle is @MissusP.


  1. As a client as well as business partner of Chris's, I can attest that both of you are spot on. Chris rocks. Just sayin'

  2. Thanks for the opportunity, Aaron. I still remember that CPK meeting in Boston - hey, we've come a long way since then, eh? :) Thank you again for the opportunity.

  3. Michale (like the "Russian version of your name)... couldn't agree more.

    -Chris, yes, we have come a long way. And my pleasure on the opportunity. ;)

  4. It's "Fred" to you, partner