Browsing articles in "pr"
Mar 2, 2011
Cece Salomon-Lee

Rise of the Infographic

The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words”underscores how a single image can communicate complex ideas. In my RSS feed, I’ve noticed an increase in infographics used for a variety of topics from mobile usage to social media stats. And in the work I’ve been doing for Virtual Edge Institute, we’ve created a couple of infographics as well.

While I envision more and more PR/marketing practitioners to use infographics, I would recommend limiting their use to summarizing key figures or information of interest to your audience. Here are a few of my favorite infographics:

Continue reading »

Feb 18, 2011
Cece Salomon-Lee

PRMM Interview #16: Chris Abraham on PR and Social Media

I met Chris Abraham, President of Abraham Harrison, while he was in a San Francisco late last year. While we were unable to record an interview at the time, I sent Chris some questions via email. Here are Chris’ video responses, as he shares his thoughts about his company, why they don’t consider themselves a PR agency, and what he would like to see in 2011.

Briefly, Chris is a leading expert in online public relations with a focus on blogger outreach, blogger engagement, and Internet reputation management. He can be reached on Twitter @chrisabraham.

If you are interested in submitting suggestions for future blog posts or would like to be a guest blogger, please contact me.

Feb 16, 2011
Cece Salomon-Lee

The B2B Worldcom Practice Group Offers Insight for B2B Companies in 2011

Guest Post by Cortney Rhoads Stapleton, SVP and head of the Professional Servies Practice at BlissPR New York & Aven L. James, Account Supervisor at BlissPR in New York City

While most people have made their resolutions and predictions, there is still snow on the ground in NYC, so we feel that is our free pass to add our contribution. This is a synthesis of the thoughts from members of the B2B Practice Group of the Worldcom Public Relations Group, the world’s largest network of independent PR firms. In conversations with Worldcom partners in North and South America, a few trends emerged about the direction of our profession in 2011: Continue reading »

Feb 2, 2011
Cece Salomon-Lee

Getting Beyond the Quora Hype

Quora screenshot

Over the past few weeks, there has been a wave of publicity about Quora, a service seeking to rival LinkedIn’s popular answers service. After reading some of the coverage, I decided to check it out and was a little bit disappointed. I’ve actually been an active participant of an alternative service called Focus.com.  While I see the value that services like Quora can bring, I believe that most of Quora’s current hype is due to it’s founder and funding to date. 

Right now, I’m keeping an eye on the service and seeing if Quora delivers on it’s hype.

Initial Thoughts About Quora

1. Faster Service: The last few times I’ve accessed the Quora site, the service was slow to load. This made finding questions, responding to them and posting quite laborious. I assume that these kinks will be figured out shortly. In the meantime, this will most likely slow the site’s adoption rate.

2. Registration Required: Since Quora is fairly new, businesses are still evaluating the value of participating on Quora. Unfortunately, you have to register in order to review the content. This puts a barrier not only to businesses but also to the very individuals you’re seeking to attract as subject matter experts. Furthermore, this requirement may drive the initial membership numbers; yet, the statistics will bear out how many are truly active on the site.

3. Quiz Before Asking: Before any member can post a question, there is a quiz on Quora’s recommended way of asking questions. This helps create a standard expectation about what is acceptable and unacceptable; though some may be put off by the approach.

4. Social Community: An interesting aspect about Quora is how the service brings in your social graph, instantly identifying members to follow who you’ve previously vetted.  The community can also vote up or down topics, helping to filter out quality questions/discussions.

5. Perceived or Real Influence: Since signing up for the service last week, I already have 30 followers without much work on my side. I wonder if Quora will fall into the “more followers you have, the more ‘influence’ you have” issue that surrounds Twitter and subsequent “influence” ranks.

6. Technology Elite are Present: In discussing Quora to my friend, Dennis Shiao, he highlighted how questions are being answered by some of the industry’s technology elite. I agree with him that this presents an interesting opportunity for members to get a glimpse into the thinking behind some of the industry’s top venture capitalists, technologists and entrepreneurs.

Conclusions: Don’t Put All Eggs into the Quora Basket

Quora is an interesting model where individuals can establish expertise and drive conversations around topics, brands and products. While Quora has received all the “buzz” recently, I would closely evaluate services like Quora to determine which works best for your company based on your audience, objectives and staffing resources. Once such service is Focus.com, which I’ve been an active user of.

Previously started as a lead generation service, the company morphed into its current incarnation in May 2010.  I’ll provide my insights about Focus in my next PR/marketing/social media post.

Do you agree – is Quora a case of the PR “buzz” machine getting ahead of the promise?

Other Articles on Quora:

1. Jeremiah Owyang, Quora for Business Not Allowed, But You Should Still Monitor and Respond

2. Mario Sundar, Should I Care about Quora?

3. David Armano, Quora Underscores Need for Corporate Ambassadors

Jan 6, 2011
Cece Salomon-Lee

Virtual Edge Institute – An Inside Look at Event PR and Marketing

Courtesy of Virtual Edge Summit

From January 12-13, 2011, hundreds of people will gather in Las Vegas and online to attend the Virtual Edge Summit 2011. I have had the pleasure of assisting the Summit in their public relations and marketing efforts. While I have done PR and marketing activities as a vendor exhibiting or speaking at an event, this was an interesting opportunity to help drive awareness, conversation and ultimately registrations for a conference of this sidze (not including corporate webinars and virtual events).

With the conference a week away, we will not have a full sense of the results until after it has concluded. With that said, I wanted to highlight three strategies and tactics we used (are using). While this doesn’t encompass everything we did/are doing for the Summit, it does provide a look under the covers:

Key Objectives

1. Drive Brand Awareness: This year, the Virtual Edge Summit expanded its program beyond virtual events, meetings and conferences to incorporate virtual learning and training. This opened up the Summit a potential new pool of attendees within the elearning and training spaces. Our goal was to continue driving awareness within the meeting and events industry, while introducing the Summit to this new space.

2. Increase Engagement: We wanted to build on the 2010 efforts to further involve our audience – both virtual and physical – with the Summit. This would help generate word of mouth amongst our key audiences and hopefully reach new target audiences.

3. Grow Registrations for In-Person and Virtual Attendance:  And of course, part of the success would be measured by the number of registration for the in-person and virtual versions of the event.

Key Tactics

1. Focus on Public Relations: My foundation is in public relations, so this was a natural area to focus our efforts.  In addition to the general press releases about keynote speakers, new sponsors and the program, we looked at how we can generate discussion in the industry, while promoting the Summit. For example, we decided to develop an infographic that summarized the key virtual events industrystats from 2010. The purpose was to provide the industry with a visual way to synthesize the progress that virtual had made over the past 12 months. In addition to posting to the Summit blog, we contacted key reporters, industry bloggers, and sponsors. The resulting blog posts and discussion around the infographic keeps the Summit and Virtual Edge Institute front and center.

2. Start and Seed a Summit Blog: Our speakers are the innovators within the virtual events and learning industries. We started a blog and invited our speakers to submit 300-400 word blog postings related to their presentation or industry. With a dozen speakers taking up the offer, this provided credibility to the blog, allowed us to generate relevant content quickly, and distribute this to a wider audience through speaker promotion. At this writing, our hope is to continue the blog to drive the conversation until the next Summit.

3. Social Media: While Twitter was leveraged last year, we drafted a more formal strategy for our social media program this year.

a. The cornerstone will continue to be Twitter, assigning each room with a unique hashtag to receive questions from the audience. We also created Twitter lists of attendees, speakers and sponsors to recognize all the different audiences supporting the Summit. Finally, we reached out to speakers and sponsors to promote their participation at the conference, which generated many tweets leading up to the conference over the past few days.

b. We researched groups in learning, training, events, conferences and meetings on LinkedIn.  Following group guidelines, we posted information about the Summit, participated in appropriate discussions,  and/or started discussions.

c. With regard to Facebook, this is being leveraged as an alternative way to connect with our audiences. We cross post all blog posts and post questions to solicit engagement. While this part is nascent, we’re contemplating using Facebook as the main photo archive for the Summit and inviting virtual attendees to post photos of where they are attending the Summit to the page.

Wish Us Good Luck

While this doesn’t cover everything we’ve been doing, I’m pretty happy with what we’ve been able to accomplish so far. If you’re interested in checking out the summit, you can register at http://www.virtualedgesummit.com/registration_reader. The interesting aspect is that the Summit will have ten different technology vendors streaming the content. The idea is to provide people with a choice and way to evaluate different ways of holding a virtual event.

In the post-event summary, I’ll highlight some other unique aspects of the event, initial results and some areas of improvement.

And I’ll also be one of the virtual hosts to bring content live from the exhibit show floor to the virtual audience! (wish me luck)

Dec 8, 2010
Cece Salomon-Lee

Story of Santa John, the Unmerry Macy’s and Lefty O’Doul’s Saves Santa

This past weekend, a story unfolded in the San Francisco area about a Santa Claus, known as Santa John, who was fired from his 20-year job at Macy’s. The issue was about a joke that Santa John told two adult customers sitting on his lap (that’s another issue altogether =). He had said the joke often but this one time got him fired as the customers objected to his “knowing where all the naughty boys and girls lived.”

Now begins a story that pushes Santa John into the limelight, positions Macy’s unfavorably to a world audience, and takes a beloved watering hole, Lefty O’Douls, front and center.

Macy’s Continued Silence

In any other case, the firing of a Santa who told a raunchy joke would have blown over for Macy’s. However, this was a situation in which Santa John has been the face of Christmas for the Macy’s San Francisco flagship store for the past 20 years. As such, Santa John holds an emotional tie to many in the community which has further propelled this story beyond the Bay Area community.

And throughout all this, Macy’s continues to stay silent on this, considering this a “personnel matter”.  And this is Macy’s biggest mistake. The company has failed to recognize this as a unique situation. This was an opportunity for the company to highlight their high quality of service to all customers and that they take customer satisfaction seriously. This was an opportunity to apologize for their mistake, acknowledge the 1,000 of emails and letters to rehire Santa John back, and hold a large cermony on Santa John’s return to demonstrate Macy’s Christmas spirit.

Rather, by remaining silent, Macy’s is seen as a harsh employer who fired a beloved holiday icon over one complaint despite 20 years of loyal service.

Lefty O’Doul’s Saves Santa

If you’ve been to San Francisco, it’s very likely you’ve frequented Lefty O’Doul’s, a bar off Union Square. As the story unfolded regarding Santa John, the management at Lefty’s did a brilliant move of offering Santa John a job at the bar – double the pay and a bigger seat.

While there have been job offers for Santa John, this one captured the local media’s attention: local angle, well-known bar establishment located blocks from the very same Macy’s store, and better benefits for Santa John. And best of all, permission to tell all the jokes he wants.

This move is what David Meerman Scott highlights in his book “Real-Time Marketing & PR: How to Instantly Engage with Your Market, Connect with Customers, and Create Products that Grow Your Business.”

Conclusion: The Holiday Spirit

The story of Santa John provides a blueprint on how brands, both small and large, should and shouldn’t handle communications issues. In the new era of transparency, Macy’s could (should?) have been more open and willing to admit a possible mistake. In the end, Lefty’s demonstrated a holiday spirit that benefitted Santa John and inevitably drive more traffic and business to Lefty’s.

And in a time when money is still tight and customers more selective, I suspect that the San Francisco Macy’s year-over-year sales and traffic may dip as a result.

What do you think?

Nov 30, 2010
Cece Salomon-Lee

The End of Objective News

By digitaltree515 via Flickr

Over the past few months, my husband and I have discussed the direction that news is heading; and oftentimes, I’m left with the conclusion that news is heading down the wrong path. With this past political cycle and recent posts by Media Bullseye and B.L. Ochman, I’ve come to this conclusion:

The era of striving for objective news has ended

Don’t get me wrong, while the news organizations seek to report just the facts, news has always contained a sliver of perspective that shaped the tone and angle of the story as B.L. indicated in her post. However, the line between conjecture/opinion and reporting the news has been blurred to a point that the general public can no longer delineate one from another.

The competitive, 24/7 news cycle further exacerbates this issue. The tenets of good reporting, such as fact checking and vetting sources, have been thrown out the window in favor of being first. This allows false reports to proliferate quickly over Twitter (who’s the latest dead celebrity), for sloppy reporting with fake quotes sourced from Wikipedia and more.

Rise of commentators and opion bloggers

And the rise of commentators and opinion bloggers is putting personal agendas ahead of the critical issues. As B.L. writes:

“we want to hear from people who are honest, transparent, and opinionated. That way, we know how to interpret what they are telling us”

But is this necessarily the best thing for creating an educated populace regarding domestic and foreign issues? Rather, this allows a few on the left, right and middle to control what we see, watch and listen and create a news funnel that is no longer about informing but rather about ratings. 

Conclusion

While we all tend to gravitate to those who share our opinions, this isn’t necessarily the best way to present the news. Here’s a challenge, watch an English news broadcast from overseas – the BBC, NHK (Japanese broadcast), Germany or other available in your area. Now tell me – are we better or worse off compared to our compatriots worldwide?

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About

Cece Salomon-LeeCece Salomon-Lee is director of marketing for ACTIVE Network, Business Solutions division, and author of PR Meets Marketing, which explores the intersection of public relations, marketing, and social media.

This blog contains Cece's personal opinions and are not representative of her company's.

Learn more about Cece.

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