Archive | November, 2013

Tech before people? Think again.

22 Nov


With all the social media tools out there, it’s easy to go by the seat of your pants on putting something out just for the sake of feeling like you did something today. How effective is that? What did you really accomplish long-term? Having a good social media campaign before you set off is crucial to successfully attaining your organizational goals.

At the heart of that is understanding your audience.

“In the age of social media, most businesses have become decidedly antisocial,” said Rob Asghar in a 2013 Forbes article. “Your call to the customer-service center is shuffled off to a faceless script-reader in Manila. Or many times you don’t even get that:  You get a machine that keeps asking you, with an edge in its voice, to take another crack at clearly stating the nature of your problem.

And pressing ‘0’ only gets you another computer voice, mocking you and reawakening the spectacular sense impotence that your family instilled in you at the dinner table. The truth is that the company that you called doesn’t want to hear from you. Ever. You only wanted to discuss a minor billing question, but now you need to return to therapy.

Hopefully, therapy is the not in the cards for you and your audience. You do have to take an honest look at what your base is and who you are to them.



“Every company has not only a different client base, but also a different target social media audience. Understanding who you want to target is vital in social media. If your business is using social media to grow, then you need to focus your message and content toward that goal,” said Patrick Rodgers of

Pam Moore, CEO and founder of Marketing Nutz, gives some good tips to make sure your efforts are audience-driven and that you understand what you’re taking on.

“Relationships take time and are not going to be nurtured overnight,” Moore said.

1. Know who you are.

2. Know who they are.

3. Know what they want.

4. What can you offer them?

5. What format do the good come in?

6. How much will it cost them?

7. Do you make it easy for them to get what they want and need from you?

Michael Stelzner, of Social Media, suggests reconsidering the relationship between you and your audience now that social media has come into the mix.

“Originally marketers delivered the promise via email, but now you have to take that style of thinking into the social and mobile channels. Proprietary audiences will only be there if you build them. If not, you’ll have to pay in the form of advertising.

Before the Internet, creative thinkers only had to worry about great creative. They didn’t have to assemble an audience because mass media did that for them,” Stelzner said.

“The difference today is not only coming up with the creative, but also thinking about distribution and building an audience that belongs to you—one that nobody else has access to. So when you have that great piece of content, you are able to push the button and reach your audience.”


Did you hear the one about…?

14 Nov

I’d like to think that I have the capability to be a funny person, sometimes. But would I be willing to risk combining my particular brand of humor with a public relations move? It depends how courageous I was feeling.

“Humor and business writing:  At first blush it may seem like a strange marriage — Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn-level strange,” said PRSA’s Ken Scudder in a 2013 article. “Humor is about taking chances, pushing envelopes, finding weaknesses and contradictions and pointing them out in ways ranging from lightly disparaging to downright cruel.

Business writing is about selling an idea, playing it safe (for the most part), giving the facts and explaining what they mean.  These appear to be contradictory methods and goals.

Despite this, humor can be an effective part of a business writer’s arsenal. When you correctly execute it, humor will increase comprehension and help you win over your audience.”

You don’t always think humor when you think of JPMorgan, but the financial institution showed a little humble wit when its #AskJPM didn’t go as planned.

The audience was asked to send in questions related to the topic of “leadership and life” for one of its executives to answer during a Twitter chat this week. This is how that went.



“Probably wisely, JPMorgan decided to cancel the Twitter chat,” said Walter Hamilton of the Los Angeles Times. “At least the company kept its sense of humor.

Asked for a comment on the PR mishap, this is spokesman Joseph Evangelist’s response via email: ‘#Bad idea! Back to the drawing board.’”

Humor can be proactive or in response to something. JPMorgan’s example was responsive, but it still worked to save some face.

“If you use humor incorrectly, however, then it will trash your argument, alienate your audience and force you to look for work in a country with limited-to-no-Internet access,” said Scudder.

Ohio State University might have taken a few moments before attempting to put a humorous spin on the evacuation of a dorm, due to a busted water main, by combining it with rape education.



“Conveying humor through social media is a challenge. When it’s done well, it can be really effective. However, if it’s misinterpreted or your intent is unclear, you leave yourself open for criticism,” said Heather Whaling, of, about the incident.

If you hone it well enough, it can turn into more than just passing engagement. Clorox earned the 2012 award of “Best Social Media Campaign” from PR Daily with its campaign, “The Clorox Lounge,” which lead users to the site with “potty humor” but kept them there with relevant videos, a prize giveaway and forum discussion.

“Humor isn’t the whole meal, but it makes a great appetizer,” said Kathy Klotz-Guest in a 2005 article.

As Scott Stratten, president of UnMarketing and “named one of the top 5 social media influencers in the world on,” shows, even PR pros need some humor thrown their way from time to time to get important best practice points across.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite YouTube videos from him based on his book, QR Codes Kill Kittens.

Twitter chat – Resources to help you out

8 Nov

PR and social media Twitter chats have been around almost as long as Twitter and are one of the most useful tools for keeping up with best practices that I’ve come across this year.



Where to Find Them

There’s a Twitter chat wiki that makes it easy to find PR and social media chats by day and category. Some of them are crossed off because they no longer meet, but there are others that are thriving.

Be sure to make sure you look at what time zone they’re posting the chat from, so that you can make sure you’re there at the right time. It would be a shame to get dressed for the party just to see that you’re an hour early or an hour late.

Ragan gives you “Top 16 Twitter chats for social media and PR pros.” Try these at your own risk. You might have to try to make sure they’re still active because the article was written last year.  No. 8 on the list, #socialchat, is active. I know because I’ve chatted on there twice with good results.

How to Participate

In “How to be a Twitter Champion,” Heidi Cohen gives 12 tips on how to maximize your Twitter chat time.

“Contribute to the conversation. Understand that the conversation can be very fast paced, so don’t get upset if someone’s doesn’t respond to your comment immediately, especially since everyone’s using different platforms and devices. Just jump in, the conversations are generally warm and inviting. Ask yourself if you’re adding to the conversation and the collective knowledge,” Cohen says.

Etiquette is just as important as strategy.

“Show your appreciation to the moderator and others. Acknowledge the work that the moderator has put in to help guide the conversation. Also, thank those with whom you connected. It’s good manners,” Cohen says. and offer their own tips, too.

Even if you don’t have much to say at first, you’ll probably still meet at least a couple of people who you might want to follow or research to chat with next time.

“If nothing else, twitter chats are a killer way of meeting fantastic new people. Fantastic new people who share similar interests to yourself,” said Kevin Fawley of Social Media Today.



How to Run Your Own Twitter Chat Campaign

Once you’re comfortable in a chat, you might want to consider going the next step and hosting your own Twitter chat for your product.

“A great way to springboard your personal brand and begin establishing yourself as a leader in your industry is by participating in twitter chats. Sharing all of your industry expertise during these chats builds brand equity and credibility,” Fawley said.

Make sure you can see the big picture before you begin, though.

“Differentiate yourself from everyone else,” said Cathy Larkin, a PR professional.

“Do research so you’re not competing with another popular chat that’s already established,” she says, adding that it’s good idea to get familiar with Twitter chats before hosting your own.

Caysey Welton of PR News, Lee Odden of Top Rank, and also offer tips on launching or managing your own campaign.

Are you a laggard?

1 Nov

Do you feel like you’re falling behind others who are moving along the technological highway faster than you? Maybe you’re not even on the highway. Maybe you’re still on the frontage road.

If this sounds familiar, you might be a laggard.

One dictionary defines a laggard as “one that lags; a straggler” or “hanging back or falling behind.”



To companies trying to get your business, you are the 16 percent of the market share who care “for the ‘old ways,’ are critical towards new ideas and will only accept it if the new idea has become mainstream or even traditional.”

Before doing some research, I thought I was a laggard, but in fact, I am more likely part of the 34 percent of the audience who are in the late majority category. We are “skeptic people” who “will use the new ideas or products only when the majority is using it.” We’re cousins of the laggards, and companies are trying to figure out what to do with us.

“In the age of Facebook, blogs and micro-blogging services like Twitter, these are forces that technology companies need to understand and address as they bet their fortunes on their ability to market a nearly continuous stream of new products and upgrades.

Experts say that late adopters, or technology laggards, are not necessarily Luddites and can play a pivotal role in keeping the beat of innovation.

‘Laggards have a bad rap, but they are crucial in pacing the nature of change,’ said Paul Saffo, a technology forecaster in Silicon Valley. ‘Innovation requires the push of early adopters and the pull of laypeople asking whether something really works. If this was a world in which only early adopters got to choose, we’d all be using CB radios and quadraphonic stereo,’” Miguel Helft, of the New York Times, said in 2008.

Part of the issue for laggards is that they do what works until it stops working, even if it takes years.

I got my first computer in 2006, a year after I graduated from college. I still graduated magna cum laude from my university and was awarded “Outstanding Journalism Senior” of my graduating class – all without owning my own computer.

I don’t say that to brag. Just to show that, on a personal level, you don’t have to be an early adopter or innovator to do well in life in general.

However, if you’re working as a communications professional at a company, you need to be able to use and adapt to whatever the best strategy is for that organization. Right now, that means learning which social media platforms will work for you and which won’t. But you have to know how to use them.



“Companies today being led by social media Laggards do not have Facebook and Twitter accounts. If you want to make an inquiry about their products or services, you can’t reach them online. They do not know what your real interests are because they are not online to listen to you. Worse, they think of Vine as a place to grow grapes. These companies are not part of the rich conversations happening on social media. They’re not part of the r(e)volution,” Cindy Padilla, of, said in September  of 2013.

On a personal level, being a laggard is a choice of lifestyle. As an organization, though, you don’t want to be a technological laggard, especially when it comes to social media.

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