Archive | September, 2013

Got an ugly e-newsletter?

27 Sep

Lack of people, time and financial resource are often at the root of some well-meaning, but ill-conceived, nonprofit and small business communication campaigns. The main offenders are usually social media messaging and e-newsletters.

One of the best things about working in a technology-heavy media age is that there are some really good platforms available to nonprofits and small businesses that fit their specific needs.

Constant Contact has been around a while, but I only recently saw what it could do in action.

The company, based out of Massachusetts, “offers email marketing products, which allow customers to create, send, and track professional and affordable permission-based email marketing campaigns and social campaigns,” according to its Yahoo! Finance profile and boasts 555,000 customers.

Constant Contact has a Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook account with creative ideas on how to launch campaigns and examples of e-newsletters done correctly.

“Then Vs. Now: How Running a Business Has Changed in Five Years,” “When is the Best Time to Post on Facebook?” and “What Does Mobile Mean for Small Businesses and Nonprofits?” are just some of the videos on the Constant Contact YouTube channel that offer helpful tips.

They have plans starting at $15 a month for email marketing, online surveys, social campaigns and event managing. Nonprofits have a different pricing tier.

This type of platform is especially useful for nonprofits and small businesses whose communications department is probably the marketing, social media, public relations and event management department, as well, and manned by one to three people.

Larger corporations will unlikely have a need for this kind of platform because they usually have two to three departments that are doing the same job with more people and more money.

I promise I’m in no way affiliated with Constant Contact. I just saw it in use, and I saw how easy, even for me, it was to use, and I thought I wish we had this when I was working for a small nonprofit in 2009. Our cause was worthy. Our e-newsletter was woefully primitive.

Constant Contact is just one of many good websites to visit. Every organization will have a different need and function based on their goals. Some might not need a platform with so many options. They might just need something they can do a real e-newsletter on, and there are great sites just for that.


Source: lets users upload text, photos and videos to set up their online newsletter to where their site looks like a real online news site that readers can follow using social media.

“The successful campaigns I have worked on, where we got over a million people interacting with a Facebook campaign, have been integrated with other marketing activities, such as email marketing. All channels have to work together. We need to think of it as more of a marketing campaign than a social media campaign,” said Marc Blinder, MEA director of social media strategy at Adobe.

I think this is where the digital tide is turning for most organizations. With so many options available, there aren’t really any excuses for a crummy e-newsletter anymore.


LinkedIn—useful for more than just posting resumes

20 Sep


Even though I only heard about LinkedIn two years ago, the online networking platform geared toward working professionals has been around for a decade.

While most of its 200 million users probably use it primarily for posting their digital resume and making potential business-related connections, there are others who are using the wall-posting feature to take LinkedIn to a new level.

“People who share, comment, and act as contributing members of the LinkedIn community are the aspirational leaders. They have interest beyond finding a job and show a passion for their line of work. The LinkedIn news feed is the Holy Grail for recruiters, and the more you post, the more you are seen. In fact, members who post at least once a week are 10 times more likely to be seen by recruiters. Post, read, and participate often,”  J. Barbush, a writer for iMedia, an interactive media and marketing trade publication, said.

Paula Nourse, director of Marketing at the Dallas Holocaust Museum Center for Education and Tolerance, is one of those trailblazers. The DHMCET has only 11 employees, but it has a strong social media presence thanks to Nourse.

She’s been with the museum for three years and has enjoyed a 25-year marketing career with Verizon, “The Dallas Business Journal,” Sprint and American Heart Association, among others.

I happened to be shadowing her while she was working on the museum’s North Texas Giving Day campaign, which was open to donors from 7 a.m.-midnight yesterday.  Any donations given on that day of more than $25 would be multiplied by the organizers of the Giving Day, so this was a significant opportunity to get the attention of her social media followers in order to raise funds for the museum.

Not only did she have a Facebook and Twitter strategic communications strategy for the campaign, but she integrated a Prezi into her LinkedIn wall feed.

Source: Dallas Holocaust Museum Center for Education and Tolerance

Source: Dallas Holocaust Museum Center for Education and Tolerance

She has about 25 slides answering the question “What is it like to market a tragedy?” including compelling photos of school children and a Holocaust survivor who regularly visits the museum to share his story and sign his book.

She included four talking points, addressed her core audience of teachers and students, addressed her peers, and garnered interest for those who have never visited the museum. Then, at the end, she plugged the North Texas Giving Day, with a link to donate. The audience doesn’t even see the plug coming. I thought it was a Prezi she created for the general marketing of the museum, but she told me she had just created it two days ago.I thought it was a fantastic and simple use of a digital tool to get across messaging that companies usually post an annual business report to try to convey. Up until now, I had only seen Prezi being used by college students or really creative artists. Nourse is definitely an example of LinkedIn and Prezi best practices.

Of course, I wouldn’t be my paranoid mother’s daughter if I didn’t note that a possible downside for LinkedIn users is that they are “twice as likely to report ID theft” than users of other social media platforms. So, be creative, but be careful.

‘Happy, Happy, Happy’ makes for good PR

13 Sep


When I was at Wal-Mart last week, a huge “Duck Commander” display made me stop for a few moments before I hit the check out line. There was a life-size cardboard cut out of Jase Roberton, one of the stars of the A&E reality show “Duck Dynasty,” with “Duck Commander” sunglasses on. The glasses were available for purchase at the Wal-Mart optical center, along with bins of t-shirts, spiral note books, clipboards, ice chests and other show paraphernalia.

The first time I saw the show, I was not impressed. My husband loves fishing, hunting and being a guy-guy. Naturally, he DVR’s “Duck Dynasty” on our flat-screen TV, and I watch it with him when it’s his turn to pick the show. I just couldn’t see past the beards, until one of my good friends, surprisingly, was gushing about how she loves how family and faith-centered Phil (the family patriarch), the kids and the show are.

After that, I tried to pay more attention to what was behind the beards, and I could see where she was coming from. I still don’t watch it on my own, but it’s growing on me.

That’s good public relations – making you see something in a different light that maybe you hadn’t noticed before and giving something new a shot for a reason that personally appeals to you.

“Duck Dynasty” premiered on March 21, 2012. Nineteen months and 43 episodes later, it garnered a record 11.8 million viewers during the current season premier, “becoming the No. 1 non-fiction series in cable history.” The Robertson’s are giving another reality TV family a run for their money. “Keeping up with the Kardashians” pulled in just 2.8 million viewers during the same week.

Jason Mudd, CEO of award-winning national PR firm Axia Public Relations, laid out three strategic communication lessons that industry professionals can learn from the Robertson clan.

1. “Keep it real when it comes to reputation management.”

2. “Let key characters be key characters.”

3. “Shine on through strategic endorsements and merchandise – but line up closely with what the audience already expects from the message.”

“The Robertsons themselves seem to guide the format and the pace of messages that circulate about their family and their business, rather than trying to line themselves up with a series of stories or messages that are placed before them. After all, who knows the Robertsons like the Robertsons themselves? It’s a successful piece of a comprehensive reputation management approach,” Mudd says in his blog.

Alan Robertson, oldest son to Phil and Kay Robertson and the only beardless male of the clan, also does public relations for the show. He calls his position the official “Beards and Beauty Wrangler” of the family, which I suppose is to help people like me see through the beard to the message of faith, family and ducks.



In addition to full episodes and video clips, the official A&E website gives viewers plenty of opportunities to interact with the “duck community” through quizzes, online chat boards, Twitter and Facebook. There is also a “shop” link with tons of merchandise, in case Wal-Mart runs out.

The long-term effects of the “Happy, Happy, Happy” culture have yet to be seen, but for now, their PR people are right on the money.

Branching out—using Qwitter as a useful PR tool

6 Sep

My aversion to technology goes way back to when I was growing up in a small Texas town. The internet came to other households in the late 90’s but not to mine. My mother developed a fear of technology after watching the 1995 Sandra Bullock thriller “The Net,” a movie about a woman whose identity is stolen through the internet and on the run from murders because she knew too much or something.

From then on, my interaction with technology was on a need-to-learn basis. I took keyboarding when I was 15 because it was a requirement. I didn’t get an email address until 2001 when I had to for college. I learned how to use Photoshop, video editing and a content management system when I did corporate communications at Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport in 2007.

It’s not that me and technology are a bad combination. It’s just that I don’t have a natural inclination to want to get my hands on the latest tech toys or platforms and explore. I admit it. It’s a weakness for a journalism professional in the current social media climate.

That’s why I’m here taking a social media class because I need a little help.

I’ve heard about Twitter for years, mostly because of celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Miley Cyrus and Amanda Bynes, who are either incriminating themselves on the platform or heightening it to a new level. Naturally, I stayed away until I discovered a relevant use for it for myself.

Screen Shot 2013-09-06 at 5.37.25 PM


One of the most interesting tools I’ve been introduced to so far is Qwitter, an application that lets Twitter users see when followers un-follow them. With Qwitter pro, you can even search by date to find out around what time a certain amount of red defectors fled and which green ones are still around. Inactive users show up as orange.

This could be a supplemental tool for public relations folk to track who left their client/s after a major blunder.

Tom Cruise’s official Twitter site, @TomCruise, has 4.2 million followers. Do you think his powerful pr team tracks the flock after each bad divorce article or Scientology outburst?



Lance Armstrong’s official Twitter site, @lancearmstrong, has 3.9 million followers. I wonder how many were there before his 2012 confession to doping? @Samjb may know this, since she’s a follower.

John McCain’s official Twitter site, @SenJohnMcCain, has 1.8 million followers. Did any of those flock away after the online poker playing incident during the open house Syria meetings Tuesday? Maybe he got some new poker-playing followers out of it.

How about @anthonyweiner, Anthony Weiner’s official page? He has 22,788 followers. Did any of them leave after Weinergate? I’m actually surprised he still has that many. Maybe it’s closer to 12,000, since 48 percent of Twitter users are apparently inactive.

Some think that Qwitter, although a very cool application, only causes drama. Others feel rejected by the whole proposition, even though the creators have been able to financially profit from the application. is also a similar platform worth trying.

Of course, thorough analytics from other reliable sites will be able to give a better picture of why little Tweeters are flocking away, but Qwitter could show that waving red flag to start the process of “Why?”

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