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5 Content Marketing Rules PR Can Play By, Too

Love this part:

Business (and personal) brands build relationships with customers via three levels of commitment:  relational, transactional, and contractual.
Content marketing – like so much of PR – is generally concentrated in the ‘relational’ phase, in which audience attention is garnered – and kept.

“We’re moving from getting attention through interruption to a useful conversation…”

 

Beyond PR

A webinar hosted by Marketing Experiments last week on the subject of effective content marketing included a lot of nuts-and-bolts perspective on content strategies that deliver measurable results, in terms of moving audience toward the publisher’s intended outcomes.    More than a few of the approaches suggested make as much sense for public relations as they do for content marketing.

The webinar was hosted by Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, managing director of Marketing Experiments, and PR Newswire’s CEO, Ninan Chacko, who brings a strong marketing background to his work at PRN.

Ttitled “5 Steps to Effective Content Marketing,” the webinar kicked off with a discussion of why content marketing works so well.  Dr. Flint framed today’s marketing challenges in the context of the relationships brands build with customers, noting that business relationships have three levels of commitment:  relational, transactional, and contractual.   Content marketing – like so much of PR – is…

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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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Will Marketing Muck Up Social Media?

As a publicist and promoter, my view is that social media is, just that, MEDIA. It’s new media, as TV once was 65 or whatever years ago.

Social Media is NEW media. It’s not direct mail and so it should be used to generate engagement and relationships and trust via thought leadership. This will drive new business and opportunity over the long haul.

There is NO QUICK viral fix (it happens, but rare and usually fleeting).

Social media content must be consistent and interesting. No, it won’t hit home with all, but if handled correctly it will be absorbed by the people who matter (target audience).

And I am all for quality advertising, but not the junk that has cluttered TV or radio by any means! My hope is that marketers/businesses/people stop the “When will I see my ROI” and the expectation that every message and link posted will attract a new customer, client or sale. The social media marketing term needs to go away. Marketing should be all-encompassing in all areas of media: print, television, radio, web and or social media.

A response comment to: Will Marketing Muck Up Social Media? – Forbes 7/5/2012

By Shel Israel, Contributor 

Article: 

First, a brief history of mass media:

There once was a Golden Age of Television. During that time, some pioneers of the new media talked about exposing everyday people to opera, theater and fine arts. They talked about proving the sort of information that could build a better-informed electorate.

After a few years, the decision makers decided, “Screw it. Let’s give the masses I Love Lucy and get rich selling cigarettes and detergent.”

There was once a Golden Age of social media, when people talked about the ability to find useful, interesting, valuable people to talk with all over the world. Businesses of all sizes discovered that there was great value in listening and engaging with customers and other relevant people. What had once been one-directional monologues became two-directional dialogs and most people saw that it was good.

Then the marketers got their hands around the throat of social media strangling engagement and stuffing messages down its throat.

This is where we are at in social media. The medium that has already demonstrated miracles is in danger of becoming the same sort of vast wasteland that TV became. I wrote about this back in February and do not wish to be redundant, but in the last four months, I’ve seen an avalanche of disturbing evidence that the marketers are taking control of a medium and in so doing are damaging that which makes social media special, different and so very powerful in so many ways.

Here are a few solipsistic observations:

The language has changed. Six months ago, we social media people in large companies were still talking about listening engines and the daunting challenges of measuring engagement. Now I am hearing about making social media “more transactional,” rather than conversational. That difference can be fatal to quality in a very short period of time.

The org chart has changed. In most large organizations social media started as a skunkworks, set aside from the traditional organization so that they could innovate and even disrupt to help bring companies and customers closer together. Social was seen as an enabling technology, able to serve diverse needs of many departments. With increasing frequency, it is now being moved into marketing, where decision-makers are trying to make it a better marketing tool at the expense of support, recruiting, product development and more. Organizations are back to measuring social media programs in terms of ROI, which makes as little sense as determining the ROI of wearing clothing to a business meeting. There are just some things that have obvious value, but are very hard to measure in dollar value.

Listening is ebbing. Shouting is flooding. A few years back, it was striking to have a Dell guy say he was sorry that customers were enraged over support. Or a basketball team owner admitting that the coach overreacted, or the vice chairman of an automaker using a blog to take on an unfair auto review. The sort of startling, human, candid and conversation-igniting stuff is becoming as rare as it was before social’s advent. Instead, we are seeing tweets and posts, videos and blogs that are back “on message,” with individuals using the corporate “we” as if they spoke for tens of thousands of fellow employees all marching in happy harmony to the relentless drum beat.

Social media is not yet a vast wasteland by any measure. The Give Lucy-ites have not yet won, and those who consume social content are not about to start hacking from inhaling what the marketers are selling. But in the world, where changes come at the speed of the internet, I see danger here.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not arguing that social media should not be used to market goods, products and brands. I’m all for it. But social works best when you use the classic definition of marketing: that it’s about relationships with customers and that markets are actually conversations. Certainly, using social media to create interest, awareness and excitement among customers and prospects is very legitimate.

But do not confuse conversational marketing tactics with smarmy sales hype. Do not confuse the value of getting others to say you are great because you have done something great with hokey promotional vote gimmicks.

What is being lost has enormous strategic and value potential for enterprises that steer the smart course. You can collaborate with customers to make your products better and bring them to market faster. You can use social media to reduce traditional marketing launch costs. You can have a 24/7 focus group composed of people who care rather than get paid. You can start conversations with the best and brightest members of your community and recruit them as employees, partners or vendors.

All this and so much more. It is not all about to hurl itself into the air and fall onto a spear. But there is danger here and I hope that if you are part of the millions of people who touch upon social media strategies, you give this matter some serious rethinking.

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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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