Category Archives: Online PR

The power of Twitter as a true broadcast media channel

I originally wrote this post for Jaffe PR (blog). Jaffe PR is a complete public reputation resource, devoted primarily to law firms and legal associations. This content (message), however, goes across the board–from the Legal industry and beyond.

As a publicist who has worked in the evolving social and Web media industry for close to 10 years now, I have witnessed many industries that were once “afraid of new media” slowly embrace its reach and broadcast power. Little by little, organizations from financial services to politics continue to dip a toe into the unfamiliar waters of social media. A recent study by a British PR firm showed that some 264 world leaders now have Twitter accounts, and the researchers believe that 30 of them do their own tweeting. Altogether, world leaders have sent more than 350,000 tweets to almost 52 million followers – more proof that Twitter is a true (new) media channel (and, in case you haven’t heard, self-production is not a requirement).

While 16 of the G-20 leaders are actively using Twitter for public diplomacy, many heads of state and government leaders in China, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Italy still do not choose to broadcast on the social media channel.

As you probably have surmised by now, quite a few industries have just started to explore communicating in “the Twitterverse,” including the legal industry. Legal marketers, mostly on the agency side, are naturally very involved in social media, but it’s interesting to me that there are still so many legal professionals who cannot understand why we even need to bother with Twitter. Perhaps referring to this new media channel as the Twitterverse might be a deterrent? I’m not sure why the public relations firm that conducted the study even uses that term. Like it or not, Twitter is a real media channel, not another universe. I wonder if television was treated in the same manner back in the day – I have no doubt it was. Let’s not forget that Twitter was the “media channel” that actually broke the Japan earthquake news. I think that was the turning point.

Regardless, much like traditional media, most professionals in any industry who are not public-relations savvy should not self-produce or broadcast on Twitter at will. There is a difference between professional social media broadcasting on Twitter and the kind of broadcasting a teenager might engage in when talking to friends about a new boyfriend or the school dance.

How do we, as a public relations firm and legal marketers, support legal professionals (from partners and lawyers to vendors) in embracing the power of Twitter as a true broadcast media channel? Or should I say as “a broadcast channel that embraces brand journalism”? As a public relations firm, our job is to show our clients in the legal industry how to build a relevant and appealing content strategy, and how to broadcast resulting content in a tactical way that will support online reputation and build an approachable online persona that people will trust.

I believe that, if produced and managed correctly, social (or new) media is a great way for lawyers and firms to build “good public reputation,” as well as better publicity, via best online thought leadership practices, including broadcasting interesting and important (“good”) news about one’s firm, practice, clients or business or the industry overall. Building a better online persona via a broadcast channel like Twitter, as well as in other networks such as LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube, among others, is more important than ever before. In this age of new media, a corporate brand – and especially a personal professional business profile – that simply sits dormant as a directory listing does not do much for any organization or individual, unless perhaps you’re the president of the United States. But even then, what is the use of a stagnant social media profile in a highly active broadcast channel?

As social media continues to evolve as a legitimate broadcast media channel, those who do not use it as such (within reason and produced in a “human and lifelike manner”) will not reach the kind of PR or marketing goals they are looking to obtain on the Internet. There are ways to hold back confidential information, as well as ways to pull in the right audience by sharing interesting ideas, facts and news.

Designing effective content and engagement that will continue to attract moving and ever-evolving audiences is a key component to being successful on Twitter and beyond. Delivery and presentation of content must also rely on knowledge about the audience. We help our clients with both sides of the process.

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The Staying Power and Flexibility of Social Media

How do you track results from your traditional direct mail or advertising campaigns? If you’re like most small business owners and entrepreneurs, you probably compare the number of phone or email inquiries you get before and after a particular PR or marketing activity, or you monitor traffic on your Web site or at your bricks-and-mortar establishment, or you track product orders online or in-person. You also know that while such measures are not exact science, unlike full-blown market surveys, they will at least give you a pretty good sense of whether your efforts are having an impact or not.

Of course, most of us have no idea what kind of increased activity we might see due to marketing, if any. We’re just hoping for some sort of spike in activity, some sense that our efforts are worthwhile.

Read the rest of my post contribution on Barrel Of Monkeyz Forum!

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Time to Defeat the Social Media Skeptics? YES!

Yahoo News March 14, 2012:

For those trying to get a social media campaign going in their company, they’ll often have to deal with naysayers that question the value. Behind the Brand’s Brian Elliott interviews Former Kodak CMO Jeff Hayzlett — who says dealing with the non-believer is all part of “running the gauntlet.”

Hayzlett spoke with Bryan Elliott on Behind the Brand.tv about what it takes to engage audiences, and how to explain to those number crunchers that social is valuable. For one, he said talking about return on investment is overhyped.

[More from Mashable: Announcing a Live Chat With Hootsuite Founder Ryan Holmes]

“I say to them, ‘What’s your return on ignoring?'” Hayzlett said. “If you’re engaged with your customers, and you have an operation that is doing what it’s supposed to be doing, then you’re going to make money.”

Hayzlett said at this point, not engaging via social media is just a way to lose money. He broke down his social media strategy, calling it “the four E’s.”

“Get engaged, start doing it. Start being your own Chief Listening Officer,” Hayzlett said. “When you educate people about your product, they get excited, and then start to evangelize by becoming brand ambassadors.”

Watch Part 2 with Brian and Jeff on http://behindthebrand.tv/

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Social Media: Not Just Another Sales Pitch

Nobody likes to be outright “sold to” either online or offline.  Just think of the last time you went to lease or buy a car. It’s not much fun to be on the receiving end of anybody’s sales barrage, whether you’re an interested buyer or not…

Read my guest post on Barrel O’Monkeyz Forum for Monkey Chatter!

Social Media: Not Just Another Sales Pitch | Barrel O'Monkeyz Forum for Monkey Chatter


 

The Art of Social – NEW Media

It wasn’t so long ago that uttering the term “social media” conjured images of pubescent teens, young adults, and doting grandparents posting about their mundane daily activities and posting their even more run-of-the-mill snapshots to Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and a host of others. Seems as though anyone with a digital camera, internet access, and time to spare could become a social media maven.

Then, buoyed by the success of sites such as LinkedIn, along came marketing and entrepreneurial types who saw the business advantage of having a strong social media presence. Presto! The notion of social media as a haven only for friends and family was transformed into something much, much more.

The social media or NEW media space is now a place where business transpires, reputations get built, brands mature, products get launched, and buzz is either generated or squashed.

It’s gotten to the point where I’m beginning to wonder if everyone should or even can learn how to use it, or at least use it effectively to achieve their desired professional or business branding results.  Think about it, the entire world does not know how to effectively use television, radio or even print media. It cracks me up with this whole mad-dash to “learn how to use” social media.

A friend of mine is a realtor. She markets and sells real estate. How hard can that be, right? Like anything, if you have an interested buyer, selling is easy. Problem is, you rarely reach interested buyers without great effort, and you’re even less likely to close a sale unless you know what you are doing. Expertise and experience are valuable in professions such as real estate. They are becoming equally as important when it comes finding success in social media.

My realtor friend recently took a class on how social media could extend her real estate selling efforts. The result? She felt overwhelmed by all the information and possibilities, so much so that she couldn’t grasp how social media could work for her business. She began to question whether she’d get any return on a social media investment. Wouldn’t it be easier, she wondered, just to stick with the tried and true of what worked in the past (handing signs, listing on MSL)?

Possibly, at least in the short-term, but easier doesn’t always mean most effective. You can rest assured that most of her competitors will seize upon social media as yet another tool with which to reach out to buyers, and that buyers/prospects will come to expect and appreciate the two-way communication street. Simply put, people will wonder “what’s wrong” when a realtor (or any other business for that matter) has no social media presence, and those who fail to embrace social media will be at an immediate disadvantage—just like businesses and professionals who still have no (or a less than standard) Web site presence.

At a minimum, companies need to realize the power of investing in the online personas and social media presence of the people behind their products/brand. This is even more important for SMALL business owners as well as professionals (on a personal professional level).

Why? Because people tend to buy from small business if they can get up close and personal with the people behind the brand.  The same goes for bigger brands. I love to “get into the head” of Michael Dell or some of these other high-ranking executives ready and willing to be even more up-close-and-personal with their customers (and fans). What better way than to use online social media channels to put the people and leaders behind the business scene front and center?  I have to say that I follow a number of small business professionals online with whom I share interests. Guess who I turn to when I’m looking for a particular product or service?

It’s certainly hard to deny the power of social media. Perhaps it’s just a matter of harnessing that power and putting it to best use. That said, can social media training for everyone be far away?

Back in the mid-1990s business owners and professionals scoffed at MS Windows, MAC OS, and “Web site 101” type training, but eventually most caved—either by receiving direct training themselves or by hiring someone with the experience and expertise they were missing to do the work!  Again, social (or NEW) media is really no different from mastering the use of television, radio or print media.  For the most part, the owners or chief officers of companies/brands don’t produce television commercials on their own.  They hire an agency or the production is led by someone in-house who has the training and expertise.

Where do you fall in the spectrum from social media novice, to do-it-yourselfer, to expert?  

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Understand Your Klout!

People used to rely almost entirely traditional media (television, radio, printed press) to shape their opinions about people, places and things. In today’s “new media world” we can all be in control of any kind of information being discussed. People can voice an opinion or promote an idea or opinion to people all over the world using social media (this includes connecting with the traditional press and media).

Social media has democratized the ability to influence. Klout.com believes that influence is the ability to drive action. To that end I am a big proponent of what Klout has brought into the world of social media and online (“new”) media. I believe the ability to influence others online goes hand-in-hand with an individual or company’s online PR and reputation.  

Read more> Understand Klout.

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Setting standards for the use of social media

The Public Relations field has, for decades, had standards governing conduct and best practices—some tried and true rules of thumb and guidelines. But how does social media, which many—including yours truly—view as a powerful, 21st-century add-on to the PR profession and is perhaps the greatest development to hit the field in more than half a century, fit in?

Let’s cut right to the chase here.

I’m not advocating that every teenager or proud Mom or Dad needs “uber” social media skills to post on Facebook or MySpace (though for a handful of particular posters some skills would be nice!). What I’m talking about are those companies and professionals who tout themselves as social media marketing experts and professionals.

Are they? How can anyone tell? What makes someone a social media expert? What’s stopping virtually anyone from making such a claim?

As it stands now, my neighbor’s 14-year-old high school freshman could claim to be a social media expert . . . and I bet her 600 or so Facebook friends would agree!

Just as with Public Relations professionals, social media experts need to know their stuff. To this end, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is looking to redefine “public relations” so that it encompasses the two-way dialogue that now takes place, courtesy of social media, between companies and consumers, celebrities and their fans, professionals and clients. Sure to follow will be social media training and professional certifications.

What this means for consumers is a true “seal of approval” to help them discern qualified professionals from the not-so-qualified. What it means for those of us in the profession, aside from increased knowledge and expertise, is greater credibility for anyone holding such a credential.

Sure it sounds like more paperwork and more class work, and undoubtedly an extra fee or two, but in my book, it’s a win-win for PR/Social media professionals and the people/companies we serve. All will benefit from increased standards and greater integrity.

Don’t you think it’s time to weigh in with the PRSA and let them know we want to ensure the integrity of social media and the individuals and firms who operate in this space? While we can’t ensure across-the-board success (case in point, the numerous less-than-stellar TV and radio shows, publications, and networks), when it comes to social media and other online channels we can go a long way to ensuring higher quality and the existence of peer-developed best practices industry wide.

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Inbound Marketing–it still boils down to producing good Social Media PR, Online Publicity

Attended this very “to the point” webinar this week with @JanetAronica (@HubSpot) and Eric Keeting of @Compete. I wanted to post the Slide Share presentation of the webinar (you can also hear/see the recorded webinar here on HubSpot) because I believe that this same information applies to driving publicity–inbound vs. (traditional) outbound. See below.

At this point, I am not that completely sold on the use of social media for direct inbound marketing unless it’s a part of a traditional campaign or perhaps if the brand is well known or fits a specific niche with online community users. When it comes to the personal, small business or new brands (especially those with limited marketing budgets), I truly believe that new/social media is must more situated to drive inbound publicity over marketing.

Why so much focus on “social media marketing?” Not sure—it’s new and fun? No, I’m kidding. Social media marketing is a true “art form,” BUT I don’t think a whole lot of people or companies can pull off that large of an ROI. Those who are driving high traffic marketing campaigns are still few and far between. For the most part, most of the high-end social media marketing initiatives are driving more publicity than a true marketing or lead generation reach.

That said if more people and businesses were to approach and utilize social media as public relations and publicity tool over a direct marketing/lead generation tool they will get the RIO they are looking for.  We must use social/new media for PR purposes FIRST; marketing and advertising second. Social media is a new media channel that allows people and businesses to build and maintain publicity and public relations on a very cost-effective and timeless basis (over traditional PR practices). Social media PR works, but ONLY if approached correctly and managed routinely.  Social media PR, like it’s traditional counterpart’s, success equates to having a consistent and focused content ranking on search engines (in the traditional vein that equates to print or television news media) as well as in social networks and media channels (traditionally this would equate to having popularity/thought leadership following within popular groups or specific industries).

Social media PR is also about building a network or following/fan base via engagement with one’s public and prospective or current clients/customers as well as providing thought leadership and good information to connections and users of social networks and the other media channels. Works the same in the traditional vein of PR.

The difference between getting or having social media PR and traditional PR (publicity really) is the fact that social media “sticks” – traditional publicity is fleeting. This is due to the nature of the subject matter and the fact that most traditional media is buried (eventually – some stories go away faster than others, depends on the subject matter). With social media, we can continue to manipulate and contribute connect to drive positive feedback and search engine placement etc.

I’m sorry, but the term social media marketing is WAY over done and used as far as I am concerned… can’t we just agree that we are ALL involved in a budding new media channel and not all marketing programs can work in it?  I have to say that SOCIAL MEDIA PR does work – but, like with any type of PR (most of the time)—you have to work at it and especially since new media is growing and still developing.

The other day I uploaded some new contacts from my outlook to LinkedIn (invitation to connect)–50% of those connections were NOT Linked In members.  Now I realize that not everyone is not “into” LinkedIn like me. Maybe they like Facebook better and maybe (like my 49 year old business owner/CFO sister) they just are not online or not social media/network oriented people.  Sure the number of social media users is growing by the bushel, but I will bet that 50% of those users who absolutely do “jump in”—still don’t participate. And I bet that most of those (new users) absolutely do use the internet to search for information on companies, people, things, places, etc.  Most of the reporters of the world use the internet to search for information and stories.

So what propels someone to click on a link?  Maybe the 50% OFF offer they see on a Google Adwords or a Facebook Fan Page—yes, but I bet for the most part they will never buy anything until they read more about that company, that offer, that new brand until they READ more about it first. Social Media PR will and does ultimately drive a person’s decision to buy in the end. I rest my case.

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