“The secret of acting is sincerity. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” – George Burns
Okay, seriously, sincerity is critical. I think you’re aware of some recent examples where people tried to blog pretending they were someone they were not – and got busted for it. I make it very clear who I am and where I’m coming from, and that I don’t take money for blogging. So if I write that I think something is cool, I really think that. Sincerity and authenticity go hand-in-hand, and transparency is what helps readers verify those
“I equate sincerity with authenticity. As a writer I cannot but help put some of myself into what I write, and generally I find people respond to that. When I go through even my own postings on my blog, I find the first tentative posts quite dull. it wasn’t until I gained confidence as a blogger – finding my blogging ‘voice’ – that it started to come alive. I also find that the more open I am in other written communications, and the more of my personality I use - in emails, internal documents, even the material I write for clients – I generally get a better response because people know there’s a real person behind it.
Sometimes however it can be difficult to get across fine judgements. So much of our communication is visual and auditory that facial expressions and tonal inflections can totally change the meaning of a sentence compared to seeing it written down. This means you need to be precise with your writing as well as free-flowing. This particularly is part of the copywriter’s skill but anyone can do it: you just have to make sure you re-read what you’ve written and actually say it to yourself in your head. Make sure you don’t say anything that can be misinterpreted. But, by the same token, make sure you’re being honest.”
My friend and former colleague, Teena, recently commented on her blog, And then….there’s that, about reputation management.This got me thinking about how people and corporations have to manage their images, profiles and reputation in this increased scrutiny of citizen journalism and access to information.
First, it was how much information you wanted to give out for free email programs like Rocketmail and Hotmail mail (am I dating myself here?). Frankly, I put in fake information because I wasn’t sure how my information would be used.
Then it was posting to electronic bulletin boards and email newsletters. At the time, posting was relatively safe, being seen and commented by that specific community. The speed of information transfer wasn’t as easily dispersed through blogs and search engines were just beginning to leverage powerful alogortithms for revealing even the minute detail about you.
With the advent of Google, a person’s postings or online commments could be more easily found. But as PR professionals, we had the ability or time to manage prospective fallout and marketers could still control the message.
Now, blogs, twitter, instant messaging and other real time communications technology enable information – both good and bad – to spread very quickly. We now have hours maybe minutes to respond to what is being said online.
Blogging, Facebook, LinkedIn and now people search engines provide us an ability to portray our personalities online. But instead of managing one profile, how do you manage several? A personal profile may convey something that you don’t want to present professionally and vice versa. Your reputation can be managed by you but people can make their opinions about what that means.
My blog is where I put most of my effort. It allows me to communicate mythoughts on PR and marketing, while transmitting part of my personality. I point my personal email and online profiles to my blog.
Managing an online reputation requires time. In this more transparent world, it’simportant to manage your reputation. You don’t have to create multiple profiles, just one and point back. And from a marketing perspective, your prospective customers/prospects will have insight on who you are before engaging with you.
It’s just marketing 101. If you don’t do it, someone else will.
Resource: When I was with Niehaus Ryan Wong in 1996-1998, I read an article called “A Brand Called You” in Fast Company by Tom Peters. It is the best article that I recommend for everyone.
The assumption is that transparency and authenticity will automatically equate to sincerity, but this may not always be the case. The challenge that we have as marketers and PR practioners is how we are perceived by our target audiences – customers, analysts, media and bloggers.
With text based communications, sincerity is difficult to communicate. In fact, Fast Company had a tidbit about a how people interprete emails in their story about “There’s a Message in Every Email.” Punctuation, emoticons and other factors impact how your email is received and perceived by the recipient.
You could be completely transparent and authentic, but not truly speaking sincerely. Or truly sincere but perceived otherwise. How can you differentiate one from the other? I think that social media, when used properly, provides us an opportunity to be sincere in a more “natural” environment.
Why? Because the formality of email pitching gives way to the profile, pictures and personality portrayed in our LinkedIn or Facebook pages. Woul there be value in including links to our profiles when contacting bloggers and media? Possibly because face-to-face contact was previously required to achieve a level of familiarity. Now social media is helping to shape how our target audiences perceive us. If those profiles were contrived for other purposes, it would be very obvious. The sincerity factor would disappear.
I caution that the issue isn’t to pitch or promote your product/service at every opportunity – though sincere, it lacks authenticity. I believe that along with participation, transparency, and authenticity, sincerity is an important element of marketing and PR.
What do you think?
While I was at an agency, I had managed the Mindjet account for a few months. One time, our client had mentioned the precise number of hits that Mindjet received after an article was published.
I had previously mentioned how you can use customized links or URL redirects to track traffic to a particular page. Though this method has its benefits, it can be labor intensive.So I was intrigued by his ability to track clicks. Going in-house provided this enlightenment. It was website analytics.
Whether you use free services like Google Analytics (Disclosure: I use this at work and for other personal sites) or pay for the service, you’re able to see which sites referred traffic to your sites, the number and when. You can even get information about how long a viewer perused your website and the number of pageviews. I believe this information can augment other measurement commonly used.
For example, by reviewing the top 50 sites that referred traffic to our website, I can see which media outlets were contributing traffic. I was surprised to learn that one blog consistently drove clicks to our website on a daily basis while an article on MarketingSherpa or MarketingProfs provided temporary spikes after the coverage.
Let’s be clear I haven’t determined if these are unique or repeat visitors or if these visitors translated into sales leads but it’s interesting nonetheless. If I worked with an agency who gained my trust, I would definitely provide them access to this information.
Now how to tie Google goal conversions into this…
In my first guest post on Tom Pick’s WebMarketCentral Blog I looked at the macro issues of PR and blogging. That post primarily focused on the macro issues impacting the quality of outreach – both traditional media and blogging.
Since that original post, your can read my follow up guest post that highlights my 8 Tips About Blogging Outreach. To me, good blogger relationships is one part doing your research, one part old school PR and one part transparency. Some additional resources on this topic include:
1. Erik Sebellin-Ross’ Tech for PR: Erik has included a page on Social Media Basics and his tips for blogging.
2. The Friendly Ghost’s post on Ghost Blogging: when the chips are down the balloon goes up and the lights go on. Discusses if ghost-writing a blog is advisable
3. Lifehacker’s guide to weblog comments. Great points about the do’s and don’ts of blog commenting.
4. Micro Persuasion: Steve Rubel started a lively conversation with his post on The Future of PR is Participation: Not Pitching Can PR go beyond pitching and understand how to leverage social media?
5. B.L. Ochman included her MaketingSherpa article on How to Pitch Me – and Other Bloggers – with PR on her blog
6. Lee Odden’s Online Marketing Blog discusses How NOT to pitch a blogger
7. Update: Sept. 4, 6:25 pm PST: In the August 27 PR Week, Renee Blodgett of Blodgett Communications was quoted, “Most start ups know to use blogs to clarify information about their brand and to correct inaccuracies. The PR industry should not be intimidated by ths medium that is really an extension of basic PR strategy.” Um – maybe they just need to now how to reach out to bloggers…
8. Update: Sept. 5, 6:01 pm PST: Paul Stamatiou includes his Checklist for Public Relations People. How many more people are going to include spell the name correctly I wonder?
9. Update: Sept. 10, 1:32 pm PST: Jeremiah Owyang of “Web Strategy by Jeremiah” provides his throught on this topic in his post on “How PR professionals should pitch bloggers.” Jeremiah states, “Always remember that I’m thinking of my readers first, so if the content is not going to help them, I’m not going to point to it –think backwards.”As I read all of these articles, it’s amazing that there are common threads throughout. Let’s see if my fellow colleagues can truly heed the advice that these handful of bloggers provide.
10. Update: Sept. 12, 9:59 am PST: Wow, the postings just keep on coming. This one is from Rohit Bhargava of Influential Marketing Blog. This posting is from the Ogilvy Digital team and is “[their] first stab at creating something transparent that could rebuild some credibility in the eyes of bloggers who have had to hear too many clueless pitches from inexperienced PR and marketing folks.” Check out The Ogilvy Blogger Outreach Code of Ethics (Beta Version). And why is everything a beta now?
Last week, Robin Good of MasterNewMedia suddenly experienced a drop of incoming traffic. As an indepedent online publisher, Robin relies on organic searches (primarily Google) for his business. Unbenownst to him, his site somehow ran afoul of the Google’s guidelines, and his research via Google’s Webmaster Central yielded some clues to why his site was penalized by Google.
According to ComScore, Google has nearly 50% of the search market share as of May 2007 of this year. If you inadvertently do something that goes against Google’s policies, you could lose a significant portion of your audience. And if traffic to the blog is how you are measuring success to your client, then how do you manage this?
I strongly advise any PR practictioner advising clients on blogs to read the full story – Google Nightmare is Over. Links to the series of articles are located at the bottom of this posting.
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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