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:
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.
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)
I’m posting an updated version of a Social Media eBook I published a couple of years ago. The eBook is meant as a quick guide for getting started, addressing the following topics:
* Before you start
* Fish Where the Fish Are
* Developing Your Own Community
* Social Media Tools
What have you found to work best for you?
3) Using Social Media: Part 3 – Social Networking Sites (Updated link)
Again, the purpose of this eBook is to provide a quick guide for using social media. If you find this eBook valuable, please forward this to your friends, share on Facebook, retweet it or let me know what you think. I just ask that you provide attribution to the site.
Let me know what you think. I look forward to improving this moving forward.
This is the fifth post in a 6 part series on how I using social media. In this fifth installment, I discuss blogger relations.
While I would consider blogs an integral part of any “traditional” public relations strategy, blogs are somewhat unique compared to reporters at traditional publications. Bloggers are writing to communicate their distinct perspective on a topic. And most are writing in addition to their day jobs.
I previously wrote a guest post for WebMarketCentral on PR and Blogging Outreach: 8 Practical Tips. Since writing the post in September of 2007, I believe many of the pointers are still valid. I’ve reviewed what I wrote and updated based on what I’ve learned over the past year:
* Bloggers are not journalists: Bloggers write because they are passionate about the topic. Journalists write as a job and part of that job is receiving tons of emails and calls from folks like me. Most bloggers don’t come from the traditional reporter background so treating them as such can backfire.
* Familiarize yourself with the blogger: Previously, I would have recommended reading the blog. However, I realize it’s more reading past posts. It’s about familiarizing yourself with the blogger. What has the blogger written in the past, what is the tone and what is the person’s background. I would even recommend googling the person to learn about the person’s online reputation. Go to LinkedIn and see if there is a profile on the blogger (Note: do this with reporters and freelance writers as well). There is a wealth of information on the person’s background. Take advantage of it.
* Beyond Email Pitches: Commonly, I would send a “pitch” via a contact page or email a blogger. I’ve discovered that bloggers, me included, also pay attention to other ways of connecting. For example, some bloggers only accept pitches via a Twitpitch. Or will take interest in your comment and want to learn more.
* Nurture a relationship: Don’t pitch, get “coverage” and then leave. It’s like getting ready for a hot first date and being taken to a McDonald’s for dinner. Once you’ve gotten a person’s attention, be sure to nurture that relationship like you do for any reporter relevant to your space. When appropriate, connect with the blogger when you have news, drop an email about industry news and occasionally comment to demonstrate that you’re reading their blog. For emails, an added touch is to incorporate something the person has recently written.
* Be Transparent: Whether you’re commenting on a blog or contacting a blogger, be transparent about who you are and what your intentions are. Do I really need to say more on this?
* Grammar and spelling do count: If you’re read the person’s blog, you should be able to identify the blogger’s gender and correct spelling of his/her name. And having good grammar just demonstrates you can write English well. Check out B.L. Ochman’s recent post on this topic.
* Don’t disregard “smaller” bloggers: Never disregard a smaller blogger. You never know who will read and link to a story that can gain a life of its own.
* Face to face is important: While I have met a lot of people virtually, I think it’s important to cement any relationship in person. If the blogger is local, have an open door policy to visit your offices, give in-person demos or just have coffee. If you’re traveling, reach out to bloggers in that town, especially those you’ve been in touch with in the past.
* Monitor and respond quickly: Your never know when a post can quickly spiral out of control for a company or person. You have to monitor what is being said and respond immediately to correct inaccurate information or diffuse potentially disastrous situations. Scott Monty of Ford recently handled a similar situation (check out the article at Fast Company). The key was Scott’s transparency, as well as his personable demeanor in all his online communications.
Other posts in the series:
Using Social Media: Part 3 – Social Networking Sites (updated link)
You can click on the Weekly Articles tag for previous issues or subscribe to the Weekly Articles Feed. If you feel that you have an article that would fit in the weekly articles, leave a comment and I’ll check it our for the following week’s digest. Enjoy.
Permission Please – Mark Goren of Transmission Marketing highlights how he was automatically subscribed to Marriott Hotel newsletters without his permission. The comment stream is interesting regarding the needs of business and person perspective. However, I side with Mark on this one. There are better ways to ask for permission. Supplying an email for a “confirmation notification” isn’t the same as asking to receive frequent emails about your company, promotions and other marketing stuff.
From a Blogger to You – Chris Brogan writes a great post about why bloggers aren’t journalists. He also provides great tips for pitching him and the topics that he likes to discuss. Key point – make a blogger feel special, whether with beta invitations, previews or free schwag.
Engaging Employees –Anna Farmery posted about how to engage employees as most of the conversation is about engaging customers. Well, employees ARE customers too. I think companies take this for granted until it’s too late.
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
Cece 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.
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