Blog Archives

Latest Reads: Week of March 26

Image Courtesy of fracasnoir.com

Image Courtesy of fracasnoir.com

What a beautiful weekend! I had a great time visiting with old friends and colleagues, and seeing family in Kansas City! Now, it’s Monday and back to reality. To help make your morning coffee a little easy breezy, here a few of my favorite reads from the past week. [Sorry apparently this didn’t publish this morning, #fail]

Pinterest Updates Privacy Policy, Terms of Service (via Mashable)
As you’ve probably heard, Pinterest is updating its TOS and Privacy Policy. So what does this mean? Well, my quick translation is: “Dear Pinterest users, we’re trying to make life simple, so (a) we’re not trying to make money off you, (b) you need to keep it Twilight PG-13, (c) you can pin all your secrets privately, and oh, by the way, we’re up the API soon! Yay! Sincerely, your favorite time-suck, Pinterest.” 

The Rise Of The Explainer Video (by TechCrunch)
Overview videos are a great way to share your visual/audio elevator speech! If you can’t explain how your product works in a brief video, you have bigger problems. Also, we spend a lot of time talking around things, but overview videos give you a step-by-step look at how something works, making it immediately actionable. Who doesn’t want that? 

Clever App Finally Cracks the Code for Facebook Dating (via Mashable)
If you saw the latest infographic on online dating [Does Online Dating Work], you know that survey results state 27% of couples say they met through mutual friends, and 38% through work or school. So, it may not be a surprise to you that Huffington Post alumni Rob Fishman and Jeff Revesz launched a matchmaking app for Facebook this week designed to help you meet your friends’ single friends. Genius or just creepy? Guess you’ll have to see for yourself!  

Five Ways to Optimize Video for Search Engines (via Entreprenuer)
Search is not dead, even though sometimes we seem to forget about it! Here are some great ways to optimize videos for search engines. These are great tangible and quick tips that really can make a difference in video views. Let me know how it works for you! 

7 Best Interactive YouTube Videos
I love an me an interactive YouTube video! Check out these videos, enjoy and let me know which one is your favorite.

How Tech and Social Media Are Changing Travel [INFOGRAPHIC]
Sticking with the theme to share an infographic each week, here’s this week’s infographic on how social media and technology have changed how to plan for, document and catalog our travels!

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Engagement Does Matter: Twitter

This post was originally published on March 24, 2011. 

Last night, I participated in #pr20chat and one of the questions asked was how much brands should schedule tweets? The questions sparked some great discussion, but it also got me thinking about how companies should approach Twitter, and the need for engagement and two-way dialogue.

So, what’s the perfect mix? @Andrew_ShipPR and I shared it should be a balance of 25% scheduled and 75% organic or engagement types of tweets. The 75% could include retweets, @replies and relationship-building tweets. Sometimes there might be some flux, but it shouldn’t surpass 30% of scheduled content. This enables us to build relationships, while sharing some promotional content. Rationale? There are three key things we need to remember:

There is such a thing as too much. Moderation is key. Automated tweets make you sound like a machine, and no one wants to talk to a machine. Well, maybe if you were Rosie from the Jetsons. (I loved her.) If we use scheduled tweets as a crutch, we won’t actually be on Twitter. Or worse, since we rely on scheduled tweets we also miss out on conversations that may be happening in the community or beyond. For example, you might have had a light and humorous post about your weekend plans, during the Japan earthquake. Mistakes happen, but being online and active minimizes the likelihood of an oops.

Engagement is essential. I recently read that engagement doesn’t matter in health care social media, but I have to admit that I disagree. Yes, engagement for brands is being available when customers need them, but it also means that in order to be available – people have to know what value brands bring. Engagement from a brand means sharing valuable content – content your audience will find useful or actually use. That means you have to know your audience before you can just start blasting messages. It also means you have to be listening to your community to find engagement opportunities to share resources and information (aka valuable content).

You can’t automate customer service. As more and more brands leverage Twitter as a customer service outlet and opportunity, it’s important to watch, listen and respond to members of your community. There’s no automation to this. You can’t walk away and say, “Okay, they’ll just call my 1-800 number.” Proactive customer service takes time, energy and yes, money. However, Ernan Roman, author of Voice of the Customer Marketing, reminds us that it’s 7 to 10 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to sell an existing customer. So, it’s worth the investment.

Seeing a theme here? Listen. Listening is crucial to any sort of engagement. And listening happens throughout the process. But it’s also to remember that there is a distinct different between listening and understanding (as Beth Harte shared today – check out her post here).  So, don’t just watch what’s happening, pay attention and understand the context of the conversation.

What are your thoughts on the mix of scheduled tweets versus organic ones?

Back to PR Basics: Public + Relationships

I can recall the semester I took my only PR class.  I have to admit, I didn’t enjoy the actual course work. I hated writing press releases, probably because I wasn’t really any good at it. Fast forward. I find myself at a global PR agency.  I had the chance to work on projects that sought to change behavior, change lives. It was fast-paced, ever changing and a chance for me to truly grow. No matter what people say, communications is critical and can solve problems.

I never thought I would love public relations – the truth is – I love communications and I appreciate the role it plays in our lives – both professionally and personally. When trying to explain to people what I did, I never uttered the words “press release,” except to deny that it was the only thing I did. Instead, I spent more time trying to explain the difference between PR and advertising, and clarifying all the practices of PR.

Today, I feel like I spend less time explaining PR, and more time defending it. PR isn’t about spinning, it’s not just about media relations and pitching, and it’s not DEAD. PR is rooted in relationship building – with employees, consumers, stakeholders, key opinion leaders, and yes – media. Like Shonali Burke shared in her post, “It’s [PR] a business function that supports and helps to achieve organizational goals and objectives.”

Today, there’s an undeniable shift. Communications and marketing focus back on our consumers, and further away from media relations and pure sales.  Our role as communicators will require a mindset shift. The way and the channels through which we communicate have changed, and they will continue to do so. We no longer hold the power – to be honest,  I’m not sure we ever did. But today and in the future, our consumers drive our overall strategies and even our tactics.  We need to be more timely and even more relevant to get through our audiences’ filters. We need to spend more time asking better questions, then giving our consumers what they want. Gone are the days where we simply use market research to drive a 2011 plan. Enter the days when we ask for feedback, and we implement their recommendations. The days when companies take transparency and accountability to a new level.

Domino’s Pizza dramatically shifted their approach after their YouTube crisis situation. Today, they asked consumers for feedback on their product, they changed their product, then asked for consumers to send in photos of their actual pizza. Talk about a high-risk effort that I hope will get them great rewards. Regardless, I respect you more for your efforts.

PR isn’t about the number of impressions that we can garner. It’s about listening to the conversations happening in print, in broadcast and in the social space. From there, it’s about finding opportunities to answer questions, provide customers with the service they deserve and helping build better relationships among companies and their key audiences. These relationships have never been achieved through press releases or “spinning.”

And if companies believe that social media should be in the hands of marketing, I have to ask: Does it matter what team manages your social media presence, as long as it’s done right? Whoever owns social media and the relationships to stem from engagement, this group must truly believe in a customer-centric model, where sales is not a goal but an outcome. Until then, let’s hold tight on implementing – and think more about the questions we should be asking.

What are your thoughts on PR and the evolution of communications? How do you explain your role in your organization?