These two disciplines may seem like unlikely bedfellows, but bear with me, the analogy works out in the end.

I was recently reading a book called Pixarpedia, a behind-the-scenes look at Disney Pixar’s film studio. Almost as soon as I’d opened the first page, the foreword from their CEO, Andrew Stanton, struck a chord:

“When it comes to making our own movies we’re obsessed with figuring out the details that will make our stories real. The first step of that process is ‘city planning’ – figuring out how the world works and what the rules are. From there we work out the particulars of personality and setting.”

‘City planning’, as Stanton puts it, should be fundamental to any PR campaign- and never more so than with social media. Brands that ignore the rules and skip straight to the execution will inevitably end up getting burnt. I won’t go into the well documented social media failures of the past few months, but it is clear that they didn’t take enough time to understand the online landscape before jumping in feet first.

But brands shouldn’t be afraid of social media rules. It’s not a secret doctrine you can’t read about online; just one that requires attention, adaptation and intelligence. Taking time to city plan may seem like a daunting task, but once you’ve figured out the rules, campaigns can go to infinity and beyond…

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