Tag Archives: Social Media

3 Ways to Apply Content Marketing Principles to your Lame Annual Report

We spend countless hours planning, writing, gathering information, proofing, working with designers and agencies (if we’re fortunate enough to have a budget for that), printers and mail houses, among others, to produce the classiest, content-driven piece possible to motivate your audiences to some sort of action.

You might then mail this annual report to your members, stakeholders, customers and other key publics, but then what? How do we keep the content and momentum steam engine tearing down the rails, helping move our organization forward?

Check out my video and get the inside track!

 

Advertisements

What’s Trending is this Year’s Political Race?

Obama Poster during political PR seasonIt’s political season yet again, and this year’s presidential election won’t disappoint. Since David Axelrod, senior advisor for President Obama’s 2008 election campaign, and his team ripped the metaphorical fabric of social media use in a political campaign in half, everyone’s been trying to follow suite.

Political contenders across the country have been heavily using social media networks for awareness, message framing and fundraising purposes. This quote by Axelrod in a USA Today online article from 2011 certainly reveals how important social media is and will be to the 2012 campaign:

“Part of our mission is to really understand where all of this is going and to make sure that we’re reaching people where they are… that’s even more important for us, perhaps, than for others, because so much of our support came from younger, more wired people.”

Obama’s camp used every facet of social media to reach his constituencies, including: FacebookMySpaceYouTubeFlickrand Twitter. He also connected to various ethnic and LGBT groups through niche social outlets like BlackPlanetMiGente, and Glee, among others. These “wired” people became the backbone of his campaign, providing millions of dollars in micro-donations, viral support of his message and a groundswell of word-of-mouth – all while developing messages that correlated to his target audience.

The State of Social Media In the 2012 Election
We’re fast approaching Election Day and President Obama’s camp is already leading the social media race over Governor Romney. The Obama campaign is posting four times as much content on its website and social media properties than Romney according to the Pew Research Center.

Romney, however, has been focusing more on talking about Obama via his social networks than the opposition according to Political Hotsheet on CBS News website. This is probably due to the fact that campaigns have increasingly become finger-pointing competitions. But in the social world, using your opponent’s name/s will only bolster their SEO scores and help their campaign get indexed and more easily found.

The State of Your Social Media Campaign
This macro-level view of how social media can profoundly impact the vote reinforces the need for all of us to understand how these tools can be used in synchronicity to achieve our key objectives and goals.

Whether you’re a political candidate, staffer, corporate entity, nonprofit organization or municipality, social media is a game changer that needs to be carefully thought out when developing your strategic plan. You also need to keep in mind how social media affects many other aspects of the marketing mix, including: SEO scores and rankings, SEM campaign success and a variety of other digital PR and interactive disciplines.


I’m a man on Pinterest! Don’t judge me…

I recently spoke on the topic of “Selling with Social Media” at the University of Akron’s Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing. I went through the standard protocol of what social media is, why use it and how to strategically use it, as well as the top social media networks out there. This year, I spoke about Pinterest and its value.

When I got to that social network, I made a mention that I enjoy using it. But before I could get into why and how I – as a male user – use Pinterest, I received the stereotypical laughter and giggles from the audience that I was in the minority. Was I using it to plan my dream wedding? Was I using it to post pictures of cupcakes? How about my favorite flower bouquet?

My Pinterest Page

It was none of them! As the smiles faded a bit, I quickly told them about how I like to use this female-dominated social outlet. And in retrospect, I think they were laughing with me, not at me! Regardless, I told them of how I can, as a guy, pin photos and videos of the things that reflect my personality. These things include photos of my motorcycle and cool accessories I want, social media infographics to share with others, really sweet products I like, have or want, and more.

I immediately showed how brands like World Market and the NBA and C&A Harley Davidson in Columbus, Ohio (about 2 hours away from where I live) use their pages to reach all types of demographics, including men. An image is certainly worth a thousand words, and remember those words aren’t always directed at a female audience on Pinterest!


Your Blog is Dead… So Give Up

Benson J. Lossing, The Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1851)I:101
I thought my blog was dead and that I should give up until I read a blog post by Bill Sledzik today called “The death of blogging? Kill me now!” I have to admit that’s a pretty killer title for a post. But this guy’s a self-proclaimed storyteller for God’s sake! So his title had better be. All joking aside; he’s a legitimately excellent and qualified storyteller, and he makes a great point in his post.

Bill said (while paraphrasing) that according to a USA Today article, brands are…

“bailing out of their blogs in favor of social channels that are less labor intensive and more connected to their audiences…”

What a terrible excuse! This is true laziness on the part of corporate America. PR pros and marketers alike need to use the mediums that effectively reach their target publics to reach their objectives. Just because you can pop out a 140-character post in less than three minutes doesn’t mean you should discount the power of a blog. Companies are killing their own blogs by drowning their readers in self-promotion and ego-centric posts. It’s no wonder they’re not getting any ROI from their blogs.

A blog needs to be strategic like any other communication vehicle we use. Why would it be any different? Because we’re lazy? Well, the answer is YES. I’ll be the first to take the blame. It’s a pain in the ass to keep up with a blog. But if it’s done with a central strategy in mind, carefully planned and well-written with rich content it may just work!

It’s always been about content. If you’re a technical company, it may take 1,500 words with technical diagrams to effectively reach and engage your audience. If you’re a consumer-driven company selling candy, quick 100-200 word snippets with several fun photos may be the solution.

In either case, if a blog is identified as a tool that will help reach your business objectives, use it if you can. Sometimes the easier and faster solution isn’t the best one.

Thanks to Bill Sledzik, my former prof from Kent State University and beer drinking pal, for inspiring me to write this post. Check out his blog ToughSledding.


Let’s get it started!

I haven’t posted in a while, but there’s a good reason. I started a new digital PR and interactive strategies agency called Soda Prop LLC. with a great friend and business partner, Zach Linquist. We wanted to start something new and that’s why when you visit our site, you’ll see something a bit different… a blog, not a traditional static website.

We did this because we wanted to immediately create engagement and a great conversation among our audience. And what better way to have companies and organizations want to utilize our services than to lead by example – showing them how WE can successfully use social media and PR efforts for ourselves!

A Little About Soda Prop

With a fun, flavor-filled, strategically focused, forward thinking mindset, we’re refining and redefining the way companies and brands communicate with their audience.  Plus, our unique ability to integrate cause-infused ideas and strategy only adds the extra fizz needed to help elevate companies and brands to even higher levels of success.

On the Horizon
Soda Prop is just the beginning of the many other business and non-profit concepts we have in mind. We have some pretty sweet other business ideas being prepped for launch soon!

I’m going to keep this one short and sweet, making a quick announcement about my new venture. But check back to see my thoughts on PR, social media and communication, as well as my steps to try and make a significant impact on our profession.


Foursquare… annoying, yet addictive

Many people don’t know that Foursquare originated from a social media network called Dodgeball created in 2003 by Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai. The duo formed Dodgeball to connect people so they can share their experiences at places like restaurants and stores. As Dodgeball began to grow, it was bought up by mega-giant Google in 2005. They tried to grow the site’s user base during the next year, anticipating success.

Well… guess what? It didn’t work. Due to the slow inner workings of Google and a lack of technology at the time to support geo-location based sites, it fizzled. So Crowly and Selvadurai went back to the drawing board rather disgusted at what transpired. During the next few years, they worked day and night on a spin-off of the first venture. They waited in the wings until Google’s non-compete passed, and in January 2009, they launched Foursquare.

Now, this new concept was launched at the South by Southwest interactive festival – the mecca of technology, video, film and music innovations. It was hailed the “Breakout App” by Mashable and other social media blogs. According to an article in Wired Magazine,

Having heard the news that Foursquare might be the next big thing, early adopters around the globe began clamoring for it to come to their city. Foursquare was quickly becoming the darling of the new media community.

The Difference
What really set apart the launch of Foursquare versus Dodgeball was the fact that iPhones, Blackberries and Droids now used GPS. This allowed for an app that could more effectively be used cross-platform to automatically find where you are and list the people and places around you. The user can then check-in to places, battle to become the “mayor” of a location, like Starbucks or even an airport terminal, gaining discounts and rewards by some participating establishments. Users can also be awarded “badges” that are like pieces of flair (remember Office Space the movie?) to show what they have accomplished.

My Foursquare profile page

Hey, I have a bender badge, unlocked a Marc Jacobs free gift badge in Chicago and a super-user badge! I feel very important… at least to myself.

I don’t know what it is, but this app is addictive. I find myself compelled to check-in everywhere, especially when I’m traveling and bored. Hmm, when I’m bored I use the app the most. Is it a way to pass the time like a game? Or is it something that actually connects with people and places to help me build my network and learn about cool restaurants and bars?

Some say this app, much like Twitter and Facebook, play on a person’s vanity and ego, providing them with a gateway to express their own self-worth and imagined persona. Maybe so to a degree, but I think if it’s used to encourage personal connection and business opportunities, it may be of value. I have to admit, I am torn as to why I spend a second messing with this app, but I still do (going on about five months now).

My Foursquare Future
Will I stop using it or slow down like I have with this blog? Maybe, but I hope I remain engaged in both to keep in contact with my network and learn new things – some random and worthless and some extremely beneficial to me personally and professionally. If anyone is still listening out there and reading this blog, let me know what you think and post some comments on your experiences with Foursquare and other geo-location apps like Cause World, etc.

Your comment may just boost my self-worth and imagined persona!


Has traditional media relations bit the dust?

This topic is one that hits home for me – media relations and its relevance in our digital world. When I was in college at Kent State University (yes, an amazing school!), I was fortunate to be taught by some of the best practitioners I’ve ever met, even to this day. But one topic that surmounted them all – including top-notch research, strategic planning and writing – was media relations.

Now I am well aware that term can be interpreted in many ways depending on your education, or the type of business or industry you work in. But, at its crux, media relations is building and harnessing mutually beneficial relationships to reach and engage your target public/s. Remember that phrase “mutually beneficial relationships?” Yep, it’s part of, and has been a centerpiece of the Public Relations Society of America’s mission statement for 60 years now.

So, has the traditional media relations I so fondly remember bit the dust? The answer… NO.

What do I mean by traditional media relations?
When I use that term, I am referring to what most of us have done for years now – forging relationships with media contacts through pitching, editorial meetings, tours of newsrooms, etc. Remember the press conference or the media tour? It’s like we’ve forgotten about the all important two-way, face-to-face communications we had drilled into our minds in every PR class. That’s how we used to reach key people in the media – by showing some form of personality and tact. It didn’t matter if you were trying to attain coverage or to learn more about a respective media outlet, it all revolved around connecting with that person on some level. That connection remains of great importance to our field, even with the advent of social media.

Why is traditional media relations still important?
I will argue anyone that utilizing traditional media relations, like picking up the phone and calling a journalist to discuss a story idea or inquire about their needs, is still critical to our profession. Even now, I find myself garnering far better coverage – not to mention quality of coverage – by just calling a reporter and having a candid conversation with him or her.

These people don’t have all day to shoot the breeze though – even with shrinking newsrooms and less time to gather data. But let’s face it, we’re living in a time when these folks crave great content. When we package that content in newsworthy and practical ways, we will reap the rewards of story placement; and more importantly, build trust among the media.

Do college students or entry-level pros get it?
I don’t think college students or young practitioners right out of college really understand the importance of media relations from the perspective I am describing. Many students I’ve met are inundated with the power of social media and the infinite possibilities surrounding this exciting term. Yes, I’m an advocate of using social media tools to reach key media personnel and even score coverage, but that’s only part of the job. Social media platforms are a way to introduce yourself and learn about the person, but a balance of online, social media and traditional pitching are necessary to create a true relationship.

What’s my advice to students on old school media relations?
My advice is simple. Swallow your fear, think strategic (script with bulleted facts), know what you will say and pick up the phone! I assure you, it really works. For those of you who are so bold as to attempt this daunting and horrific task, let me offer my short-list of 10 ways PR professionals can still use media relations to build invaluable relationships with the media:

  1. Create a media list of your local or regional media outlets.
  2. Identify the key players you want to get to know.
  3. Call them up and ask what types of stories they’re looking for.
  4. Extend an offer to meet for coffee or lunch to learn more about them, and for them to learn about you.
  5. Setup an editorial meeting with section editors to discuss your news depending on the level of urgency and news value.
  6. READ their publications as much as possible! (Knowing what they write and how they present it makes a huge difference).
  7. Provide occasional recognition to a published piece. (Don’t pitch here… it’s just a way to let them know you’re paying attention).
  8. Keep them in the loop on what you’re working on as it relates to them. You’d be surprised by the mundane things that can skyrocket to the top of a journalist’s hot list without even realizing it.
  9. Follow their careers as they progress. People quickly turnover and change positions in this industry. Keeping in touch makes a world of difference! (They pass along contact names and other valuable information).
  10. DO NOT be afraid to pick up the phone and call them. Even with social media and email, a phone call goes a long way in showing you care and that you’re genuine. Email and social media can be impersonal and sometimes seem too forward.

%d bloggers like this: