Last night, I went to a panel discussion hosted by the Horn Group and Girls In Tech. There was a star line-up of panelists: Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester Research and Web Strategist Blog, Kara Swisher of WSJ and All Things D, Susan Etlinger, VP of Horn Group and Sam Whitmore of Media Survey as moderator.
The topic provided attractive with over 200 people packed in the Horn Group offices on Howard St. Considering the economic news swirling around me, the event reminded me a bit of the heady dot.com days – yes, I really am that old Virginia! Twitter tag #prblog.
Sam took a quick poll of the audience before commencing with the Q&A. It seemed the audience was 60% PR folks, 20-25% Horn Group clients and other people interested in the topic from marketing/social media backgrounds.
PR is not dead. It’s being reborn” – Sabrina Horn
To summarize some key quotes from the evening (may not be verbatim quotes but gives you a gist of the meaning):
“Join community to reach audience regardless of your client. Has the relationship with person I want. It’s the influencer model”
“Opportunity for PR is to listen. People will tell you what they’re interested in”
“Extend the value of PR – currently don’t have the key skills to do that”
“Big opportunity to use these tools to grow beyond corporate communications”
“Use the tools to repair the PR reputation”
Kara Swisher – I’ve read her blog and hearing her in person was definitely more amusing!
“PR people are so easy to get upset. Stop being reactive to the bloggers who are doing this to be trafic whores”
“War with PR is not important. There are more important things to fight over like Proposition 8”
“Focus on people with amazing relationship with people”
“Give me news and trends that your company represents. Trends with interesting products. Needs real news. Interesting figures and thought leaders. Cool interesting products that people are using. Weird stories will also get me too.”
“Nothing new – it’s about how good is the product. Don’t PR crap products”
“PR is about creating replicable processes, but replicable process can get you in trouble.”
“Relationship economy. Release is so narrow”
“[PR's] obligation is to not put out shit out there. If it has value, then yes. Otherwise, no.” Charlie Cooper, CNET
“How to leverage important bloggers to help with news” – Razorfish
“How does PR practitioner leverage these tools to help business”
“Performance based payment and measurement like a media buy – will an agency risk this?”
Deja Vu – Didn’t we see this 10 years ago?
For a panel discussion that promised to be titillating, I found that it was bogged down by semantics of PR’s role in the social media landscape versus how the industry, as a whole, can better address this as a core competency. These were the same discussions that occurred 10 years ago with the rise of the Internet, which ironically was referenced when Sabrina pulled out a big, black binder about the impact of the Internet on PR.
To paraphrase one audience member, what we’re referring to – Twitter, blogs, wikis, etc. – are just communications tools. In 5-10 years, these may be commonplace ways to communicate with your audience. While the panel was informational for those new to PR or currently struggling with PR’s value within the larger marketing and social media landscape, I think the panel didn’t truly delve into the question of the evening – Will Social Media Kill PR.
I was sitting in the balcony where most of the social media folks were sitting. When Sam turned to us and asked if our issues were being addressed, frankly they weren’t and I said so (yes, that was me voicing the need to get beyond PR and talk about how this fits into the larger marketing arena). Unfortunately the discussion turned back to the basics of PR 101 meeting social media.
In the end, I agree with Jeremiah. PR has a window of opportunity to leverage social media to build higher business value with customers and companies beyond a corporate communications capability. When the discussion evolves from which outlet can you get me in to one of what audiences do you want to influence, then PR will have a seat at the table.
But hasn’t this always been the crux of the problem for PR from the beginning? Does social media really change that conversation? I don’t think so. What do you think?
- Jeremiah’s post about four biz opportunities for PR agencies
- Kara Swisher’s post about the panel
- Sam Whitmore’s summary
- Charles Cooper’s take – PR is Killing PR, not Social Media.
- While Lewis Green wasn’t at the panel, he brings up a good point about the value of social media in PR.
- Horn Group’s summary about their Is Social Media Killing PR panel.
- Jennifer Leggio’s post at ZDNet. I think she summarized it perfectly: ” too much focus on dialing for dollars and not enough focus on making PR stretch to support real business initiatives.”
Since I first started tweeting on Twitter (thanks Jeremiah!), I have learned some additional tricks for maximizing my time and presence on Twitter. My main difficulty was how to manage more than one account for person and work related tweets. That is until I found out about Twhirl.
What a time saver!
I had tried using my instant messaging tool as a way to receive and send out tweets but that wasn’t as elegant as Twhirl is. With Twhirl, I no longer have to constantly refresh my browser for updated tweets. Here are some of my favorite features (updated image 11/20/08):
Mouse over someone and be able to send a message, direct message, mark a tweet as a favorite, or retweet something with just a click of the mouse.
Shorten URLs automatically. While Twitter does this too, if you go over your character limit, you can’t shorten it. With Twhirl, I have three different options to shorten a URL before inserting into a tweet
Twitpic – I haven’t tried this but can see this as a valuable way to share images.
Search is actually integrated with the solution versus having to go to a different page to find people. And while Twitter has disable people search recently, Twhirl has not.
If there are specific tweets I want to favorite, I can do this. Especially useful for saving links people have tweeted about.
Give Twhirl a Whirl
Overall, I am loving Twhirl as a way to manage multiple twitter accounts for personal and business purposes. One thing to keep in mind is tracking the clicks of the links posted on Twitter. Mack Collier just wrote about Tweetburner and Ellie of HubSpot commented on other ways to track the links in the comments. I would also check out Dave Fleet’s article on tips for new twitter users.
My previous posts about Twitter:
While there are a lot of posts about how to pitch a blogger, I thought it would be an interesting twist to list the top five mistakes I’ve made a la Letterman style:
My Top 5 Pitching Blogger Mistakes
Number 5: Oops – I thought that was MISS Blogger, not MISTER Blogger
Number 4: Spellcheck is a wonderful technology…when you USE it
Number 3: I’m not stalking you honestly. Could you just puhleeze respond to me?
Number 2: Sorry – didn’t realize you just wrote about this… yesterday!
And the number 1 mistake that I’ve made pitching a blogger:
Who cares about YOUR interests, it’s all about ME
What mistakes have you made? Bonus points for your Letterman style list!
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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.
I have only been on a Facebook for a year or so. I mainly use it to keep in touch with personal connections, and rarely use it for professional reasons. I believe that the “casual” aspect of Facebook does make it more difficult for business-to-business companies to leverage the full potential, with early success for consumer related companies.
With that said, I do see the potential of Facebook from a PR perspective:
Fan Club or Group?: Before setting up a group, you have the option of designating it as a group or fan club. Groups have membership limits while fans clubs don’t. It’s a small distinction but quite important depending on the size of the community you’re seeking to tap into.
Before setting up a fan club/group, consider these two points first:
1) Research what groups/clubs already exist in your area. Does it make sense to set up another page if there are hundreds of similar ones out there?
2) Participate in existing groups/clubs to network with people in your target audience. By “friending” these folks, you’re able to pull in your existing network if you do decide to launch your own group or fan club.
Share and Share Alike: With Facebook’s “share” function, you can provide a steady stream of company updates and information to your friend network. For example, my company recently received media coverage in Forbes and San Jose Mercury News. I shared this news to my connections.
I recommend sharing information that is relevant to your industry. Since you can add a comment, this helps to position your company as an expert on a specific topic. And is much quicker than drafting a blog post from scratch =)
In the end, you never know what information will catch a reporter/blogger’s eye for a possible article or posting.
Friending Reporters and Bloggers: If a reporter or blogger has agreed to be friends with you, the implication is that you’ve created or have an existing personal relationship. Depending on your level of “friendship,” you can send pitches via Facebook’s internal email system, which may break through the noise of emails. Just confirm that the person prefers to receive pitches this way. He or she may want to keep Facebook on a personal level while want “business” correspondence to be received in another format.
While I have not personally done this yet, I would just recommend being very careful of how and when you do this. As I wrote recently about HARO spam, the purpose of these tools is to create connections, not harvest emails and contact information. By doing so breaks the trust you’ve created.
Promote Events: Facebook enables people to send out event invitations to your friends. Great way to promote attendance for live events or webinars. Be sure not to over promote an event with multiple reminders.
Applications: As an open platform, Facebook offers different types of applications. These applications range from the silly – sending a beer – to useful – free VoIP phone calls or Twitter updates. For me, I’ve added the Twitter app to tie all my external personalities into Facebook. Determine which apps to incorporate based on the types of information your generating and which are appropriate for your company.
Some have even created complimentary applications within Facebook which have become wildly popular. As long as it’s relevant to your Facebook audience, is easy to use and understand and is relevant to your business, apps can be one way to get your business to your target audience.
Face Book Case Study:
I was seeking B2B examples of using Facebook and couldn’t find any Mike Nierengarten of (company?) did forward me this description of how they leveraged Facebook to drive students to an online animation school (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Animation-Mentor-Online-Animation-School/14719464771):
Animation Mentor, an online animation school, is perfect for Facebook because it has tons of great content (video, events, pictures), a strong (current) student presence on the site, and our target customers (potential students) use the site regularly.
For Animation Mentor, we set up a profile to connect with current students. From there, we added a Facebook page and rolled those students into fans. We then created a Prospective Animation Mentor Student group for individuals who were interested in the school to connect and share thoughts. Finally, we promoted the page off of Facebook using an Animation blog.
Results: Facebook page ranks for targeted keywords on Google (e.g. #23 for “animation school”, #9 for “character animation”), we have over 700 fans with a mix of currents students and interested students interacting online, and we have an area for prospective students to address their concerns and interact directly with someone from the school in their space. We have also seen a near 3% conversion rate (i.e. complete an application) from the Facebook page.
Summary: Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook
I posted my question on Twitter and LinkedIn. I decided not to ask my Facebook network as my previous questions have received no answers. I overwhelmingly received more responses via LinkedIn. Why?
Twitter seems to elicit a lot of responses depending on the interest of your audience to that question and what other conversations are happening at the time. With the cacophony of voices, it’s very difficult, at least for me, to pose a question that elicits response. I did when I discussed the role of PR agencies but not for this question.
For LinkedIn, people are leveraging it as a business networking tool. The Q&A section is a great way to demonstrate your expertise in a specific topic, as I outlined in my previous post.
I think Lewis Green of BizSolutionsPlus said it best in his response: “I think LinkedIn and Plaxo Pulse are better social networking sites for non-invasive marketing and PR, which is the only way we should be promoting our brands within the social networking and social media worlds. We should be giving, not making an effort to get. That’s why providing free information, such as this Q&A offers us a chance to do so.”
1) LinkedIn great for professional networking and developing expertise with LinkedIn Answers
2) Twitter great for quick updates and breaking information to your company
3) Facebook is like a mini-site that has a social networking component. You need a wealth of relevant information to feed into the pages, while actively working to develop and maintain a community.
Other posts in the “Brave New World of Media Pitching” series:
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.
I usually follow people on Twitter that have something to say and is related to my career. I always found it interesting when people just followed everyone.
So when this twitterer recently “followed” me, I was intrigued. he or she (I’m assuming she due to the image) is trying an experiment. She is trying to figure out how many people just blindly follow people without checking out the content of twitterer.
When I last checked, this person was following over 5900 people with 155 reciprocating.
This raises an interesting question about the psychology of following. When I first started Twitter, I felt that I had to follow everyone who followed me. Otherwise, I would be dissing someone.
Now I don’t necessarily follow everyone – I just don’t have the brain power to process that many people. I will also occasionally unfollow folks who haven’t really participated in conversations.
I think it’s key to recognize that social media can increase one’s social network. Just remember, you can only create a nework that YOU’RE comfortable with. YOU create the network. It doesn’t create you.
This past week has seen some interesting conversations about press releases/newswires, how to conduct social media campaigns and the relationship with customers. Enjoy this last issue before the President’s Weekend Holiday. You can click on the Weekly Articles tag for previous issues or subscribe to the Weekly Articles Feed.
The Power of News Wires – Read/WriteWeb has an interesting post about how BusinessWire’s influence and ability to be a top Techmeme source. If newswires are able to gain this much influence for a press release, does this mean PR folks will be “lazier” in getting placements for press releases?
When a Release is Not a Release – B.L. Ochman highlights her experience with PR Web’s decision not to post a release because it didn’t satisfy their standard of a press release. The release was a funny announcement for procrastinators on Valentine’s Day. The tone was perfect for this type of announcement, yet PR Web insisted that B.L. make some changes. Frankly, who’s to decide what is and isn’t a release. I could understand profanity but because it wasn’t written in the third person? Puh-lease!
Blogs are the Music to My Ears – Mack Collier writes about how blogs have contributed more to music sales than MySpace. Need I say more?
Valentine’s Day Special: It’s About the Relationship -Toby Bloomberg of Diva Marketing Blog put together a special post for Valentine’s Day. She lists 62 responses to how to create great business relationships. Tons of great tips from all walks of life and industries. I like #4, #7, #12, #27, #34 (this one is tough for me.. ask my husband =), #62. My tip? Be humble and admit that you don’t know everything.
Successful Customer Case Studies - Jeremiah Owyang is on a roll. He’s providing great insight as an analyst that should help every PR person out there. This week’s nugget of wisdom, creating successful customer case studies.
SMRs in the Real World – Brian Solis posts an email from Steve Kayser who has outlined his experience using SMRs in the real world. Very informative regarding what to be aware of as one proceeds down this avenue.
Social Campaigning… Not! – Paul Dunay of Buzz Marketing for Technology highlights a good point about Social Media. Social media can’t be considered a campaign as a campaign eventually ends. It require diligent work and commitment. Only then can you see reap the rewards of entering the social media world.
Measurement Makes Your Executives Care – Dave Fleet reminds us that measurement is key for executive support and understanding. Like Social Media, it can’t be an one-time project. It has to be monitored constantly. I previously wrote about the PR measurements I track. It’s quick, easy and can be maintained weekly. Leave a comment if you’re interested in learning more.
Six Deadly Sins of Social Media
Measuring Social Media – Hubspot’s blog provides some good tips for measuring your social media marketing efforts. I’m surprised that the number of links to your blogs and Technorati Authority weren’t included as ways to measure your social media.
BRITE Conversations – Valerie Maltoni provides some food for thought in advance of an interactive CMO Summit being held at the Center for Global Brand Leadership. She discusses some of the challenges that organizations face when trying to innovate and build brands. I wonder how resource constraints and changing priorities fits in the picture? =)
Don’t Do this When Promoting Your Event -Mac McIntosh writes the Sales Lead Insights blog. He provides his 13 Don’ts When Promoting Events. Great insight if your tasked with managing a roundtable or dinner event for your client.
Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks – Brendan points to an example of how journalists and PR folks responded to the Bird Flu. Instead of being a short lived story, it extended over 10 days. I haven’t heard the podcast yet, but it seems worthwhile based on Brendan’s summary.
Is this PR Person You? – David Meerman Scott poses what the future PR job description would look like. It’s most likely, “You haven’t graduated high school yet but you’ve already started 2 start ups, sold another and angel investing in another. You’re invited to beta test EVERY new software offering and your recommendation can make or break the company…”=P
Seeing You Face-to-Face – Sheila Scarborough of the every dot connects blog about the value of meeting people in person at conferences. I know blackberry’s have been banned from company meetings. I wonder if conferences will ban computers and PDAs to keep people focused on the content and people versus Twittering the event?
With Analysts, It’s All In the Briefing – Jeremiah Owyang provides great insight into how to successfully brief analysts. Great advice on how to get the most out of briefings. Remember, analysts can provide a wealth of information in addition to learning about your company.
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.