Category Archives: Online Reputation

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


 

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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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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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Personal Online and Social Media PR for business executives, professionals and public figures–a new competitive must-have

In today’s new social media and online environment, it’s more important than ever before for the executive suite to small business owner to speaking dynamo to develop and maintain online PR.  Personal public relations–as well as personal branding must beyond the general marketing or launch of a particular service or product brand.

Most new business owners and operators approach this (area) completely backwards–still expecting the company, service, brand…whatever it is to perform on its own.

On new media age, demands executive, business and even political leaders to take the necessary steps to be more in front of consumers and other businesses on a daily basis.  The social media channels and search engines have given business leaders a golden opportunity to get in front of their audience at a much faster pace (over the typical press/media briefing,  print article or even television interviews–not to mention the basic business letter).

Putting a consistent online Personal PR strategy in place along with up-to-date personal branding  is a must-have for just about every executive business manager, leader or owner.

Online Personal Professional PR must include the following to establish and continue to establish the company or brand’s credibility and general PR:

  1. Building a strong online social network audience (target following – in networks that matter to the business/industry)
  2. Creating a strategy that will cultivate followers (SEO development and online network updates to utilizing e-mail, press releases, articles)
  3. Engaging with the targeted audience  (listening and responding)
  4. Sharing knowledge (Pay-it-Forward and “think like Oprah”)
  5. Keeping an audience “glued” to the company brand from a reality perspective–tell quick stories, ask questions (good example: Michael Dell http://twitter.com/MichaelDell)

Naturally this concept is very new, it won’t happen overnight. But personal professional PR (on and off-line) is the wave of the future. Those who are partaking now (even in baby steps) are certainly way ahead of the marketing game.

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A Social Media education: Most people just don’t know what we don’t know!

“My middle-schooler created her own Facebook page . . . How hard can this social media thing really be?”

I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say this or something similar.

When it comes to the use of social (or NEW) media, most people just don’t know what we don’t know!

Quite correctly, it is easy to set up a Facebook or Twitter account or virtually any other social media account. You navigate to a web page, add some information, create a profile, hit a few buttons and within minutes you’re chatting with friends, updating your status, and discovering who likes what books or TV shows or whatever else someone chooses to share. YES practically ANYONE can do it. . . and practically EVERYONE does (at last count Facebook had 600 million active accounts worldwide).

But is that all there is to social media? Hardly.

Many companies, from corner convenience stores to Fortune 100 giants as well as senior level professionals, executives and celebrities, use social media quite effectively to aid their marketing efforts, develop or enhance their personal or business brands, and create publicity and buzz.

It’s a relatively level playing field, as long as you know what you’re doing. Of course, therein lies the dilemma.

Exchanging updates and pithy quotes with friends does not a social media strategy make . . . at least not if your goal is to position yourself as a thought leader in a particular area of expertise or to engage in conversation about the value of your product or service to consumers.

To do that, and to do it well, you need a social media strategy that keeps you front and center and on message, as well as a tactical game plan for how you will implement, sustain, and refocus efforts as necessary to give your social media strategy legs.

So while practically anyone can start “sharing” online, including you or your middle-schooler, more than likely you won’t know what you don’t know.

• What can you reasonably expect to gain through social media? What results are you hoping to achieve?
• What social media sites should you join? How can you decide?
• What tools will you need to optimize your activities? What’s available and how do you avoid becoming a 24×7 slave to social media?
• Do you know how to operate within the confines of social media “etiquette”? Do you know best practices and what’s acceptable and what’s not?
• How will you use social media to demonstrate value so that customers and prospective customers want to engage in conversation with you?
• How frequently should you add fresh content?
• What will you discuss? How will you say it? More importantly, why will you discuss a particular topic?
• How will you invite others to join the conversation . . . and what do you do once they join to keep them engaged?
• How can you ensure your content is something people will want to keep and share with others?
• How will you measure the response?
• How will you know if you are successful? How many fans or followers do you need?
• If your social media efforts are not meeting desired results, what can you do to improve performance?

Social media success depends on a Social Media Publicist/Manager—a specialist trained in optimizing social media activities and maximizing efficacy—to see what’s working/what’s not working on a daily if not minute-by-minute basis. It takes a human mind and not just another computer application to make judgments on what makes good content, what stories to promote, where to promote them and when, and how best to connect with a target audience.

As a business owner, executive, or solo professional, you owe it to yourself, your business, and your customers and prospects to recognize what you don’t know about social media and bring in the experts to help you rise above the clutter and begin reaping the benefits of greater brand equity.

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Social Media Publicity vs. Social Media PR

I have decided that I am a true “micro-blogger”—not a  blogger.  Obviously (AS YOU CAN SEE), I do not post a lot on this blog.  This is mainly due to the fact that I am a “PR producer” first and foremost. My thought leadership (and opinion) usually happens in quick bursts (not in long article format)—throughout the day as I am working on other people’s PR strategy and tactical management. I’d rather update or tweet—I am, as they say, obsessed with Twitter anyway so it works for me along with Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Foursquare you name it. However, I do like to talk so blogging will still come out of me from time to time (including Blog Talk Radio – I have a program there as well – time to get back to Blog Talking!). I work with a lot of writers in my agency, so they also help the creative juices to flow out of me on the blogging end… or at least I will press them to do so more often!

A lot of my clients do like to write blogs (I love to edit so that must get my blogger side fulfilled?). Some of my client’s blog mostly due to me pushing them to do so, but I really only push the ones that I think have that certain “blogger mindset.”  Blogging is a great form of social media PR and excellent for search engine placement/optimization (link building).

Some of my clients have PPC ad campaigns already running upon hiring us. We usually  wean some of them off of these (this is not PR for one thing) once we are able to build a better social media PR strategy for them and get a leg up on daily tactical placement and management.  We usually can get page ranks up much higher or equal to that of their PPC ads on the organic end within the first 90 days we begin working with them. Organic Social Media PR is what I LOVE to go for on a continued basis. Yet, most people don’t realize that this takes work, dedication and constant engagement. So many clients tend to look at PR in the same way as advertising or marketing and tend just want to hand it all over and never without saying a word. Social Media PR, in particular, can’t work that way.  Hiring a PR firm also means letting go.

I just re-read a short blog post by Seth Gordon (circa 2009): The difference between PR and publicity.

He wrote:

Publicity is the act of getting ink. Publicity is getting unpaid media to pay attention, write you up, point to you, run a picture, make a commotion… Publicity is not PR. ….PR is the strategic crafting of your story. It’s the focused examination of your interactions and tactics and products and pricing that, when combined, determine what and how people talk about you.

Read the whole post (it’s not long), but he goes on to say:

In my experience, a few people have a publicity problem, but almost everyone has a PR problem. You need to solve that one first. And you probably won’t accomplish that if you hire a publicity firm and don’t even give them the freedom and access they need to work with you on your story.

AGREED SETH, AGREED. Thank you for making that clear—albeit two years ago, it still holds true today!

Now, here’s my re-examination of his (very to-the-point) explanation of the difference between publicity and PR as it pertains Social Media–since, again I do and always have been of the opinion that Social Media PR is/should be included in on the “traditional definition” of PR:

Social Media Publicity is the act of getting ink. Social Media Publicity is getting unpaid media (as people who read you beyond your ppc or banner ads) to pay attention, write about you, point to/share your thought leadership, run a picture, make a commotion… On the other hand, Social media PR is the strategic crafting of your story.

Social Media PR is the focused examination of your interactions, tactics, products and pricing that, when combined, determine what, why and how people talk about you (or your company/business, etc.). You need Social Media PR strategy to get PUBLICITY.

Few people have a social media publicity problem (as long as they “speak up” online they have publicity), but almost everyone has a social media PR problem (once again, key words are not the end all, but a very small part of the social media PR equation). You need to solve that one first—that is–your Social Media PR problem. You probably won’t accomplish your social media PR goals if you do not hire a publicity firm* and you don’t give them the freedom and access they need to work with you to develop and execute your best social media strategy. Everyone should strive for lasting social media publicity. Yes key words are fine, but once you get them to “click over” what are you going to do to get them to stay and talk to you or about you?

* This does not include social media coaches, SEO or PPC experts—PR strategists and tactical managers all offer all of this expertise on top of everything else. If you  want to hire a PPC or SEO expert that’s fine, but just don’t leave out the PR expert who knows both traditional and social media PR.

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Social Media/Online PR for Business Promotion–Don’t Try This at Home…

…if you don’t have the time or experience to produce and manage it (best to leave it to the traditional promoters and publicists of the world).

Online/Social Media is the reality of our world these days–it truly is “new media channel” for personal and business PR, promotion, marketing and advertising. It has also become one of the best new tools for job search and recruiting.

There is absolutely no shortage of social media coaches, seminars and books on this new hot topic. However, these particular platforms can usually only provide a short-term solution or even simply overwhelm those who are new to social and online media production and management. Unfortunately the real work comes into play after the meetings and workshops are over! Social media strategy is one thing, but the implementation and management of it all is a whole other job in itself.

While many companies are slowly embracing this fact (hiring social media managers to work alongside marketing management), most business people may not think of outsourcing this new and very constant personal professional business task!  If you think about it, this type of service may not be so much of a luxury these days, but really MORE of a necessity especially for busy professionals who know they need to be more in tune with their personal online PR and reputation management and who do not have the ability or time to concentrate on it all–above and beyond their core business tasks.

I recently commented on a very good blog post by a “social media expert” who wrote about the five key success points of social media management (or something along those lines). While I agreed with most of what she wrote about, I did not agree with her in regards to the fact that since social media should be handled personally by the person or business that chooses to participate in this new media channel. I commented to her (on the blog) that this “rule” of social media production and management should not always be the case—and for the majority of people who are using online or new media to promote their personal professional brand, service or products.

Social media is no different from traditional media and if you want it to work and provide the best results (ROI), you better have a background in PR or marketing, the experience and ability to produce creative and engaging collateral, the ability to handle crisis management issues (that happens more and more now with new media being so wide open) and the time to manage it all on a consistent basis—or it will absolutely do NOTHING for your personal brand or business.

It’s a shame that there people out there getting other people to believe that a quick seminar or coaching session will help them learn how to be more in synch, and in tune with social media (for their own professional or business brand) and that just because “social media” is based in such an open type of forum (over traditional media), that they MUST produce and manage it all on their own. Even Reality T.V. programs are produced and directed by other people (kidding, but true). Just because social media is online it should not give people the license to think that they can or even should try to handle their online Personal PR initiative—and whether it’s for their own personal or business brand. If also takes a lot of time and effort and it really is a whole other job that should not be taken lightly.

With close to 25 years of PR/marketing experience, I’ve evolved my own professional/business brand into the production and management of social (new) media as it started to surge in the early 2000’s, but I also didn’t dive right into it as an expert! I slowly submerged into it. Believe it or not traditional publicists and marketers are still catching up and trying to infuse new media in with traditional practices. Then there are all the new “social media experts” who usually have limited traditional and basic PR or marketing experience—no one is an expert. Social Media or Online PR as I like to call it is NEW and things change every day–its growth is unprecedented. If anything, the expertise is really more about the ability to stay on course and change and adapt as new techniques, tools and platforms change or come into place and then continue to develop, build and manage it to ensure it creates a return on investment. The expertise falls into place from there.

Staying on top of all the learning and tasking can be overwhelming for most business people–which is why personal web/social media managers can provide a very necessary service to support business professionals in a similar manner to how most celebrity, government official and company brand personas are handled and represented on the web. I actually think that most businesses and professionals need web and social media managers even more so. Many celebrities have the down time to manage their own social media and online PR, but most do not. Being online in a professional manner is also about maintaining reputation and image—which is what a publicist or third-party should always handle as it is.

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LINK BUILDING and Good Content…essential for online/personal PR results!

Too funny, I used my cool new WordPress App on my BlackBerry to write the original version of this post.  The App is great, but (1) I am not used to writing a blog post on my phone (too small of a screen?) and (2) the App is way to fast, I thought I had saved it as a draft, but it posted.  So this is the redo of the original WordPress Blackberry App post (ahhhh the power of technology…).  Okay back to what I wanted to say…

I am ALL ABOUT LINK BUILDING. Content is KING if you are looking for online marketing RESULTS.  Honestly, I have always known this… the key word, meta tag thing just old-fashioned, I mean we still need it (especially in social sites like Twitter), but it’s  really a gamble if you’re looking for search engine placement on an organic level.  Buying the key words will get you the results, but as more people start driving the price of the key words up you will need to pay more and you really don’t have to do that.  Continuing to build your CONTENT.  Think about all the other people using the same exact key words. How do you compete with that?  So the more you post up in the form of articles, blogs, tweets, press releases, photos and video the more content you create and the more votes of confidence you earn from the search engines. The more votes of confidence, the MORE you will be seen and found online. It’s pretty simple, yes, but remember that content must have merit or your audience will not remain.

I have read an incredible eBook (which will be now known as my Link Building Bible) by Back Link Building Guru, Mark Collier. His “Link Building Mastery: How to master the art of link building” provides 86 powerful link building strategies to build thousands of high quality back links to send your site to number 1 on Google (and then some). According to Mark: “Everyone knows that back links are one of the most important search engine ranking factors.” Yet again, the quality of the content is the first priority— and in my mind’s eye quality content is the baseline of online publicity, but without back links your content and your website will never be found.

The Link Building Mastery eBook is a fantastic do-it-yourself guide to will learn how to get:

* Better placement on Google
* More search engine traffic
* Direct traffic (to your website or “main hub’) from people clicking on your links
* A better online reputation
* More direct sales or interest as visitors who come from links pointing to your site are far more likely to buy from or hire you.

Get Mark’s book – a great guide, great read. Well done! If you need a good “go-to” plan, it’s a fantastic ($47) investment!

One last note: The ability to work and communicating online,  does not equate to an ability to market and promote online. This mentality drives me nuts. I drive a car, but I am not a mechanic. Follow me?  The social media “how-to” books, seminars, and coaching service are fine, but my opinion is that if you usually do not handle your own publicity, writing, marketing or promoting and/or you do not have the ability or the time to do what it takes to build and then maintain all of your web content (including websites, blogs, articles, press releases, tweets, updates/micr0 blogs) then it might be a better idea to bring in someone who knows how to connect the dots.  I’m just saying…

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Social Media for Executives – Dip a Toe In to learn and get used to it (the water is not as cold as you think!)

Based on what I have written below, it remains to be seen who will actually find and read this post—of course I will be sending the link directly to a lot of my “would be clients” via email.  So here goes….

I just LOVE this CEO Magazine article, July 2010 (by Karen Albritton, President, Capstrat)

Social Media: Where’s the C-Suit

Albritton speaks to the EXACT CONCERNS of most of my clients/prospective clients….right along side the “should I really pay someone to help me produce and maintain my online persona and social media” (albeit less the cost of hiring a receptionist or file clerk they will probably never  see or talk too– kidding, but kind of true). She (based on research via a couple of major business publications) states that most of the concerns about engaging in Social Media (and I am assuming for the good of a personal brand or the company brand or both) generally fall into one of three categories:

1. Productivity:   The C-suite sets the tone for productivity and social media is often seen as a time drain without much benefit. Some restrict access to common social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, in part due to concerns over potential distractions for employees. Executives are often tightly scheduled during the day with meetings and obligations. Finding time to engage online is a challenge.

2. Privacy: Many executives are inundated with information and requests. They have gatekeepers screen their email and phone calls to filter out unnecessary and unwanted contact. They deal with sensitive information and have to be mindful of what information they put out in the public. Social media is all about tearing down walls, putting yourself out there and engaging. This (partaking in new media) runs counter to traditional behavior for many corporate executives.

3. Profit: A recent survey of professionals conducted by Workplace Options showed that only 16% of workers felt social media helped them with their job. While many executives understand their company’s need to have a social media strategy, there’s still a fair amount of scepticism about the value that social media can provide.

My 48 year-old CFO sister falls right into all of the above–super successful, but won’t touch Twitter, Facebook or even Linked In (she thinks they are DUMB and “just a fad”).  Then there is me, I am older and I have built my business via social media over the least several years. Why? Well I am in PR/Marketing (my sis is in Insurance so that could be the difference right there!)–I saw the power of this new media a long time ago and I realized that I had to get in on the action or I’d be left behind and forced to play catchup.  So as I started to succeed with social/online media, I started to support my clients in doing the same.  Naturally some have tried and have gotten either fearful, impatient or both.  After all leaning something new takes trial and error – and a lot of execs (especially the ones that were successful pre-internet/social media) hate that! So not everyone needs my support or wants it, that’s fine, BUT…

Albritton goes on to say that she had recently attended a CEO forum in North Caroline just prior to writing her article, and one of the most profound things she heard that entire day was a comment made by Chuck Swoboda of Cree (regarding the adoption of sustainable products — but the same applies to ANY new technology right?). He said “I decided I couldn’t serve my clients or my business if I didn’t use the technology too.”

I agree– my opinion is at least “dip your toe in” to discover and learn.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain (as an executive in business). Here are the stats:

  • In the last 7 years, Internet usage has increased 70% PER YEAR.  Spending for digital advertising this year will be more than $25 billion and surpass print advertising spending (forever)…Only 18% of traditional TV campaigns generate a positive ROI these days.
  • Naked Pizza set a one-day sales record using social media: 68% of their sales came via twitter and 85% of their new customers
  • Dell has already made over $7 million in sales via Twitter thus far.
  • 37% of Generation Y heard about the Ford Fiesta via social media BEFORE its launch. 25% of Ford’s marketing budget is spent on digital/social media.
  • 71% of companies plan to increase investments in social media by an average of 40%
  • A recentAltimeter Group study found companies that widely engage in social media surpass their peers in both revenue and profit (and I know this can also pertain to the executives that run them).

Think of TV in the 1940’s, people jumped in and some with just a “toe in” first,  but they experienced it and got used to it and well, the rest is history.  Many did “dip a toe in” at the beginning  and either helped a company grow or their own personal brand to explode and in some cases BOTH HAPPENED.  Remember Uncle Milty? (I am dating myself – I was a 1960’s baby, but I remember him… talk about a personal brand in, then, the new media).

We support our executive clients in engaging in social media producing it for them to start ( just like how it used to be when you hired an agency or in-house person to design your company brochure or advertisement collateral).  Then, yes, as Personal Publicists, we support the placement/promotion and management of the executive media channels and content (not everyone is good at writing about themselves or writing in general and this a huge part of social media, next to video and audio messaging of course).

We keep our clients on track and in action so they learn not to be fearful (of the unknown?) and to embrace our new media to their own personal advantage and or the advantage of the company brand.  My team and I are NOT experts (who is?), and while most of our clients do engage on their own (as they should), they know that they can rely on us to support them, encourage them and even help them say the right thing at the right time and place. It’s easy, as with anything new, to just throw in the towel when you aren’t seeing results at the speed of light (the internet is new and fast, but it also does not give out miracle ROIs).

As any business or executive consultant (or any successful leader) says, “success is not singular” or “it takes a village” or…you know the drill, the same applies to social media.  And while Albritton provides tips on how to start and stay involved in social media, I still say that for many busy (Baby Boomer– “I already have a business model or process in place”) executives/professional all the TIPS can be overwhelming too! Yes you need to engage and participate (it is not called social media for nothing), but sometimes it makes sense to engage with another to help you be successful.  Social media participation is not a once in a while thing (and most C-suite execs on Linked In have oh, about 10 connections), once a month or even a once a week commitment.

If it’s not in your genetic makeup (like it is mine?) to want to jump in to the social media space, then ask someone to support you to engage and make it happen!  I don’t handle the up-keep of my own front and back (h0use) yard for the very same reason, but sometimes I jump in to clip the roses, plant a plant etc.

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