Tag Archives: Online PR

Oh where, Oh where have I been (on this blog)?

As a publicity producer in the social (and traditional) media space for individuals (on a personal level) and businesses as well as other agencies, I get into “busy spurts” creating and managing content for my clients and have a hard time finding the time to write for my OWN content for this blog!

I must say, that tweeting and micro-blogging (broadcasting thought leadership/sharing content) is my cup of tea more so. It’s quick easy and a great way to build a following. However, content curation in the form of blog posts is still so important when it comes to developing “web visibility” (as I like to call it) or SEO.

Did you know that blogging alone can lead to opportunities that a regular website never could! Someone will need your product or services and will go to Google (or Bing or Yahoo etc.) to search for it, your blog  can help win that search! The more you put into the blog (content) the higher up the search engines you go (“gulp” I need to pay attention to my own advice right?).

If that’s not enough of a reason, here are some additional reasons to have a blog (I pulled these tips from my one of my trusted vendors, Vocus):

You also get to include a heck of a lot more content and information: Twitter is limited to 140 characters (and that includes spaces!). So you do not have worry about changing pages or bringing in a web designer every time you want to add or change something in regards to your web content!

  • A Business or personal (professional) blog helps you to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. We publicists now also call this Brand Journalism.Tip! If you are NOT a writer, hire a writer, editor or publicist (someone to help!). I ask my clients to write down some rough copy (some do write!) or thoughts and ideas and my team and I then polish up the piece as well as add back links to other posts/articles that are aligned with the article’s content (another way to pull more traffic to your blog site).Note!  Some of my clients have blogs that are dedicated to reporting news on their projects (i.e. construction companies), while others contribute to thought leadership oriented blogs that support their online personal or corporate brand visibility.

Next step then is to share/broadcast your blog content and or thought leadership (and this must happen more than a just one or two times) within social media channels. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. can definitely help “spread the news!”

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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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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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Corporate executives want a quick ROI in social media; they should look at it as long-term “best investment!”

Corporate executives are still bent on getting a quick ROI out of social media…a legitimate request yes …also a stalling tactic?  Great read via the PR News Blog (August 19, 2011): http://ow.ly/69Fp2.

According to Pepsi Co’s global head of digital Bonin Bough, being gripped by fear of adapting to social media can be fatal (for organizations): “Failure to adapt to the digital evolution is written on the balance sheets of companies.”

Staying away from social media due to fear of failure or spending the time or money that needs to be dedicated to a long-term investment is not the way to get along with a new media channel that is certainly here to stay.  There is no doubt that social media and the web in general will create a shorter term investment as it settles into the norm.

For now, we must invest with patience–and it’s a very small long-term investment to make for what is sure to be a huge ROI in the very near future.  To that end, this is not about “waiting for the best time” –when social media is “well-developed” for immediate ROI.  What form of media DOES provide immediate ROI anyway?  Print ads, news stories etc. — sure, but also fleeting if you don’t keep the advertising going or the PR machine pumping.  Social media is and will be no different than other media channels– it will eventually give way to long-term, consistent return on investment.  Social media, as Bonin Bough says, is here to stay and it is NOT a fad.

Therefore, I believe that every company should now at least have the social media/online persona basics in place.  And the focus should not only be on the main company brand, but also on executive leadership as well as employees.  It will soon be a must for the CEO, CMO, COO etc. (company leadership) to engage with online followers/audience on a regular basis–and having employees engage for the benefit of the company brand is certain to become another key ingredient for all company brands looking for success in the social media space. This will soon be the new reality of marketing and business development.

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All-in with Social Media Yet? It depends …(right?)

Does social media really work? 

As a public relations professional and social media PR producer/manager, I get asked that question all the time, especially as companies big and small and individuals from all sorts of industries and professions jump aboard the social media bandwagon. (It’s as though someone’s built the better mousetrap . . . and everyone wants in).

Of course social media “works,” but what that means varies by business and by individual. It really comes down to the results you desire and your audience. Just because you think social media is a great idea, doesn’t mean they do.

Can social media raise awareness of your company or personal brand?

As a long-term strategy, that’s a big “yes” on both accounts. Of course, you have to work at it, you have to generate quality content, and you have to be vigilant. But the ease with which you can push out posts and blogs and tweets makes social media a natural for creating “buzz” about you and your products or services and for keeping the volume cranked up to a healthy “11.” Plus, it doesn’t cost much to get your feet wet (though I will argue that you get what you pay for: getting your feet wet is quite a stretch from realizing social media’s maximum benefit for your business).

Having said all that, you might feel tempted to toss all of your eggs into the social media basket. Not so fast . . . hear me out.

Despite all that’s been said about it, Social media is not the cure for your every marketing ill. It’s important. It’s powerful. It’s far-reaching. But, really, social media is just another “channel”—a very robust, new, and exciting channel, mind you—through which you can reach out to customers and prospects with relative ease.

Remember when cable TV exploded in the 1980s and 1990s, adding a whole universe of additional niche markets to mine? We didn’t simply drop our traditional TV, print, or radio marketing back then did we? No. At the time, cable TV simply represented another tool in our marketing tool box, one we needed to work with, learn, and “try out” to see how we could use it most effectively. Such is the case nowadays with social media.

For some, social media might comprise the bulk of their marketing efforts; for others, it may be nothing more than an afterthought, a “nice-to-have” but not a necessity. As a business owner or a business professional looking to increase your brand awareness, you need to consider whether social media can produce the kind of return on investment necessary to justify the amount of attention and resources you give it—just as you would with any other marketing tool. How you deploy social media boils down to your target audience, your product or service, and what you determine is the most effective way to reach out and engage your customers and prospects.

  • As an individual, how much time can you dedicate to creating and pushing out the content needed to position you or your company as a thought leader?
  • If you don’t have the time, do you have the resources to hire someone else to execute a social media strategy for you?
  • Once engaged in social media, how can you turn social media traffic into real sales? Getting fans or having someone tag you in a photo is one thing—it means you’ve been noticed—but how can you translate that into new business?
  • What ways can you convert social media traffic into sales traffic . . . or at least bona fide leads?

If these considerations seem vaguely familiar, it’s because they also can be applied to traditional media. Running an ad? What’s your call to call-to-action? Staging an event, what kind of time and resources can you dedicate to it?

You see, social media is really an additional way for prospects to engage in a dialogue with you. Ultimately, you still need to convert them into customers.

For sure, social media needs to be part of the 21st century marketing mix, right alongside the tried and true plus other new media that might be coming down the pike (whatever that might be!). But relying on social media to be your sole means for connecting with your target audience, at the exclusion or the downplaying of everything else, is risky business. Although, yes, it can work for some.  As I look back over the last few years (especially!), social media PR has worked for me quite well, but then again—I’ve paired social media alongside email marketing and old fashioned networking (channels).

I’ve seen many companies and individuals go “all-in” with social media, only to find that it’s not the end all/be all they thought it was—at least not in the short-term. Social media is a great way to increase your visibility over time through consistent blogging and frequent updates on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media sites—but getting customers and prospects to buy something from you still takes good old fashion legwork, quality leads, and the ability to deliver on your brand promise . . . and there’s no substitute for that.

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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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