When Tiananmen happened, I was just a college freshman – fresh-eyed and away from home the first time in my life. I was just exploring my identity – second generation Chinese born to immigrant parents, seeking to understand how I fit into the world. The incidents in Tiananmen were eye-opening, shocking and maddening at the same time.
Fast forward 20 years. The anniversary sort of crept up on me. There is barely any mention of the anniversary on TV. Somehow, this incident has been swept away as the Chinese government has expertly positioned itself on the world stage over the past years and the success of the Beijing Olympics.
It’s interesting to hear the lengths that the Chinese government is going through in advance of the anniversary. Social networking sites, such as Twitter, are being blocked to stem the flow of information coming out of China. In a way, they are the best in our profession – the ability to control a message and put out the one that they want.
In 1989, this wasn’t the case. The government was unsure how to manage the spontaneous marches that took place and youthful excitement of the student leaders seeking change. Rather, their knee-jerk reaction resulted in the deadly incidents on June 4. The moment of transparency and openness was quickly closed.
While the Chinese government attempts a blackout in the coming days, I hope the voices of those able to leave China will serve as a reminder to those incidents 20 years ago this Thursday. Surely, no one government can completely block out the voices?
What lessons can we learn from Tiananmen and the Chinese government’s actions?
My apologies – this was a guest post by Alli Gerkman when I was on vacation. I didn’t realize that I had to approve this, so here’s the missing guest post:
So, I’m sitting here in a hotel room in Sacramento, one day into a two-day conference. I’d been thinking about what to write since last week when Cece asked me to guest post, but after the day I’ve had, I’m changing direction. That’s the funny thing about blogging. You never know where it’s going to take you.
I’m in Sacramento because I organize and run legal conferences around the country–about 24 each year. Usually, things go seamlessly (or almost seamlessly–it’s hard to imagine a completely error-free event). Occasionally, things don’t. Today was one of those days.
Each mistake, on its own, is relatively innocuous. The conference room is moved and is difficult to find. But people find it and life goes on.
We notice the printer left a section out of the materials. Okay. We can get Kinkos to deliver the missing section within hours.
But then the computer dies mid-presentation, forcing a speaker to finish without PowerPoint. Now people are starting to think, “What is going on here?”
I take these mistakes pretty seriously. The speakers I line up for my conferences are leaders in their fields and the attendees have given us tuition and entrusted us with two full days of their valuable time, so I don’t like to disappoint.
That said, most mistakes are out of my personal control. I could get bogged down in explaining that: “See, after I do the final edits on the materials, it goes to our printer who prints and ships the book. That missing section was there when I reviewed it, but I don’t have another review between when the finals are printed and when they are shipped to the hotel, so there was nothing I could do other than get Kinkos to print the section and send it over.”
But does anyone want to hear that? Did you even want to read it just now? Does it help address the situation in any way? Probably not. So instead, I say, “I’m sorry.”
And I mean it.
Of course, I can’t stop there. “Sorry” doesn’t mean I’m off the hook–it means I’m working harder than ever to get things back on track. But it’s a start to building a stronger relationship with our speakers and attendees. Believe it or not, some of my best evaluations have come from conferences that couldn’t catch a break. After all, it’s easy to represent your company or your brand when everything is going right, but it’s how you react when things go wrong that can set you apart.
Tomorrow is day two and I think we’re in good shape, but wish me luck.
I had an interesting conversation with Steve Gershik who writes Innovative Marketer the other day. We discussed his recent post, “An open letter to PR agencies…” which highlighted some of his frustrations over a recent PR agency search. For me, I come from the PR agency background. I truly support PR and want to see PR agencies succeed. But unfortunately, since going in-house, I have to agree with Steve’s points.
In the end, I want a successful partnership (stress partnership here). But in order to do this, you need to be honest with me regarding your workloads and what is truly possible. This way, we can set the right expectations for success. Which leads me to
Referrals are key…
In this economy, referrals are worth their weight in gold. The expectations are higher when you’re referred by a person I trust or I’ve worked with you in the past. But don’t waste this opportunity. If you do poorly in front of my executives, it looks bad for you, me and the person who referred you. In the end, I’ll never refer you again. So bring in your A game and do 150% if you’re referred to me. But one word of caution
Respect My Process
People like Steve and I are managing entire marketing programs. For me, I cannot manage the vetting process from beginning to end so I work with my colleagues to help me in the process. Don’t try to circumvent that process by trying to reach me directly. In fact, you may lose the business as a result. And for PR agencies, would you go around a reporter to the editor becuase you thought the reporter was too slow? I guess it depends but you would think twice before doing that becuase of the remifications, right?
What do you think? Are there any other points to consider?
During Web 20 I had a very interesting conversation with John Welsh of UMB Live. He mentioned (and has a post) that he blocks anyone not directly related to social media and his direct interests from following his tweets. This is in direct contrast to the recent CNN and Ashton Kutcher race to 1 Million followers.
For John, this enables him to know exactly who everyone is and provides a higher quality community. While this makes sense I’m not sure about blocking everyone. In my case, I don’t mind who follows me as this doesn’t IMPACT me versus if I “followed” all of these folks.
What is you goal?
I think it comes down to what your goal is. For John having higher quality is important. For a celebrity like Ashton this provides a direct link to his fans. For me, my goal is to educate people on marketing, public relations and social media.
For B2B Businesses I think you have to strike a balance. I would recommend blocking any blatant “spam” accounts and being selective on who you follow.
But my competitors…
Some have asked about blocking competitors. While you can block them from following you, you can’t stop them from searching on you and getting those updates. In the end, Twitter is a public avenue for connecting with people and engaging in an open dialogue. I think private Twitter defeats that purpose.
If you’re concerned about competitive issues, then don’t use Twitter. That’s frankly what instant messaging and email are for.
Conclusions: Block with a strategy in mind
As with everything you need to fully consider your strategy for Twitter and how blocking followers with this. Furthermore, blocking may have a negative impact if you accidentally block someone from your target audience. I’m going to take the conservative approach. I will begin blocking anyone blatantly a spammer (britneyspearsbuzz watch out!) but will keep everyone else.
What do you think – to block or not block is the question?
Tweet This on Twitter
To make this easier, just cut and paste the following:
Should you block your Twitter followers by @csalomonlee: http://twurl.nl/z3mazo
All content copyright Cece Salomon-Lee, Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, with the attribution: By Cece Salomon-Lee, PR Meets Marketing, and a link to the post.
While we all know Southwest as the no frills, low cost airline, I am starting to see them as an airline that delights in being different. This is evidenced by the employees but most evidently via the safety talk mandatory on each flight.
The Five Minute Experience
You know what I’m talking about. By the fifth or sixth time you tune out “the exit rows are located … blah blah blah.” What southwest does is turn these four to five minutes to create a memorable experience. Whether through ad lib jokes and one-liners to the rapping intro, each are designed to communicate a clear message about southwest – we’re different than the other guys.
I learned from my flight attendant that these are not scripted (though there is a song book). They are a collection of jokes and topical items that each flight provides.
So in five minutes, Southwest took a normally “dead” time to entertain a captive audience, create an experience completely unique to this airline (others would be seen as copy cats) while delivering important safety information.
Isn’t that what we all try to do with our marketing efforts? What can you do with five minutes?
First, let me tell you, reading this book made me tired and glad that I’m part of Generation X. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with Dan Schawbel, author of Me 2.0 and personal branding guru, that personal branding is more important than ever to differentiate yourself from the crowd.
I’m just amazed at how much Dan has done all by the age of 25!
Personal Branding – Not Just for Millennials
Me 2.0 is book that highlights Dan’s success in personal branding, providing a blueprint for identifying, creating, and harnessing the key elements of a personal brand. Though Dan is a millennial, many of the points in his book are relevant to individuals of any generation.
College students – how to differentiate yourself from the crowd, create the opportunity for your job future and secure the job of your dreams
Recently laid off – how to leverage social media to create your digital persona and brand while judiciously networking to find the opportunities right for you
Everyone else – how to take your passion and become a rock star
Three Questions for Dan
1) Your book gives a lot of advice on personal branding. How do you maintain the balance of networking without seeming too aggressive?
Successful networking comes from viewing it as a long term relationship, instead of a one night stand. I used to force relationships to try and get press and that failed miserably. Now, I’m older, wiser and more experienced, so I know that the people you give value you to help first, will support you right back.
2) Over the past few months, the unemployment rate has increased dramatically in the US. If you could add another chapter in Me 2.0 to address the number of unemployed workers out there, what would you add and why?
I wouldn’t really add anything. The same advice is going to apply regardless. The key is the build up your online assets as much as you can before you need to leverage them for a job or another opportunity. This means getting thousands of Twitter followers, Facebook friends, contacts on LinkedIn, etc. It’s another way of saying “you should network before you need to.”
3) With technology changing so quickly, what do envision as the next area for personal branding?
Personal branding is all about the individual. While technology rapidly changes, personal brands stay consistent. I see us having new technologies in the future that let us interact at even faster rates than Twitter. In turn, they will make us even more productive and force us to be more cautious about what we put online.
While I don’t believe that social media will get you the job, I believe reading Dan’s book will ensure that you’re noticed in the right way for your dream job.
As I mentioned in my post about tips for your youtube video, I am experimenting more with the power of video. When possible, I will interview interesting individuals and their marketing (this includes social media and public relations) campaigns. My inaugural video is with Jeff Stai, Owner of the Twisted Oak Winery. He is known as @eljefetwisted on Twitter and El Jefe on the El Bloggo Torcido (Twisted Oak blog).
Jeff is a very personable guy and I think this personality is the key to his winery’s success. He has developed a loyal following of wine lovers (I’m a new fan) through social media. To me, the net net of Jeff’s success is that social media allowed him to connect with his fans and create a community that is engaged with the winery.
Isn’t that what ALL of us are trying to do with marketing?
Cece Salomon-Lee is director of product marketing for Lanyon Solutions, Inc. 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.
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