Finding Insights In a Data Haystack

Close-up of a SpreadsheetSo you’re actively engaged in this whole social media thing, and you’ve even figured out how you’re going to keep track of it. You’ve chosen a few tools that came highly recommended, you plugged in all the right information and now those tools are collecting data for you. All the time.

Now what?

With seemingly unlimited amounts of data coming at you in real-time, how do you make sense of it all? I’ve often been advised to look at it from the CMO’s perspective. What are the big bullet points that they would need to know? What are the insights?

Forgetting for a minute that very few of us actually have any first-hand experience knowing what a CMO wants, I wanted to walk you through my process for gleaning insights. After working in the media analysis business for two years now, I’ve found that often learning what to do with all that data can be just as tricky as finding the right data in the first place. Continue reading

Twitter University Night Classes

Senior man sitting on a chair and using a laptop Model Release: Yes Property Release: NAEver notice how Twitter chats are a lot like night classes in college?  Night classes happen once a week and often begin with small talk.  We even show up early to catch each other up on the current events since last week.  Twitter chats are very similar.  We tune in once a week and make introductions detailing where we work, and perhaps a random fact just for fun.  For example, “Hey #chat, I’m Stina from NYC and work as a travel publicist.  Oh, and I’ve kissed Ricky Martin!”  Okay sure I may not use that fact (yes, it is true, take a look at my bio) but you get the point.  It’s meant to be fun.  Chats are meant to be informative and laid back.  But what happens when having fun simply becomes noise?

I’ve noticed in a lot of chats the witty banter, especially in the beginning, “Hey John, haven’t seen you in a while.  How ya been? How are the kids? #chat”.

Please explain to me why the chat hashtag is used?  Does this benefit anyone trying to participate in the chat?  I’m all for making small talk Continue reading

HOW TO: Effectively Pitch Bloggers

USA, California, San Bernardino, baseball pitcher throwing pitch, outdoorsThis week, I’m presenting at a local conference on blogger relations, which has me thinking about what separates the “good” blogger relations from the bad.

We’ve all heard that relationships matter, right? But, it’s not always realistic to think we can build a solid relationship with every blogger (or traditional journalist, for that matter) before the pitch. Especially if you work in an agency environment, with clients in multiple industries.

So, what’s the secret to effective blogger outreach?

Not too long ago, a blogger emailed this to me after receiving my pitch:

I really appreciate you taking the time to know a little bit about me before you emailed me. You have no idea what a difference that personalization makes. Or, maybe you do. But in case you don’t hear it enough, good job!

Personalization. You’ll notice this is the beginning of a theme . . . Continue reading

A Thank You Letter to Fans

Businessman Standing on Steps Outside Talking Through a Megaphone, Large Group of Business People Listening and ApplaudingDear the fans of the world,

We wouldn’t be able to do our jobs without you. It’s a constant surprise that, no matter what the product or service we’re flacking, there you are, being a fan. You’re fans of everything, from truck tires to gardening tools. You’re the everyday experts and armchair critics. You know more about your fannish world than almost anyone.

PR and marketing people have a lot of names for you; “influencers” and “superfans” seem to be the current favorites. If I had to guess, I would say these terms came into fashion to better show how important you all can be, but this is a love letter for all the fans, from the guy who runs an entire fan website dedicated to a TV show to the lady who goes out of her way to tell all her friends about a new store. Thanks to all y’all. Continue reading

Why Customers Don’t Care About Your Corporate Values

Over the last weekend, I visited our great state’s State Fair. By many accounts, it’s the best state fair in the country (take THAT Iowa!).

While our family had a blast eating greasy, fried food, hitting the Giant Slide and sitting on virtually every tractor on “Machinery Hill” (my son LOVES tractors), I spent a bit of time observing how companies are positioning themselves and activating their brands at the fair. Each year, one vendor seems to draw my attention–this year it was the good folks at Culligan (last year, I talked about John Deere’s opportunities).

Now, this post is not intended to be one of those “throw-the-company-under-the-bus” posts, but instead a larger analysis of a much bigger issue: The irrelevance of company values to external audiences.

Culligan does a lot of things right at the State Fair. First and foremost, they give away a lot of free water. But as I browsed their booth, one thing immediately stood out for me: They posted their corporate values right in the booth. Continue reading

One Year Gone…

Abstract circular collageIt started, as these things tend do these days, with an innocuous tweet; the tweet in particular was about Twitter lists. After a torrent of @ replies and emails, it was determined I needed to flesh out a post for a newly formed blog focusing on public relations as, it turns outs, there are some things that cannot be described in only 140 characters. And thus, my entry into the world of competitive blogging organized chaos.

That was a year ago. A complete revolution around the sun has come and gone since I first submitted a guest post to PRBC, a post in which I subtly make fun of both the blog and a little less subtly, the narcissistic nature of social media. As regular readers of this space, or even naturalized citizens of the world wide web, you know that not much has changed. Sure, there are more people coming here to read their daily fix of public relations banter, and sure, there are more people using social media, but what’s changed? Continue reading

Judgment Day: Clients vs. Media

Judge Striking GavelYou’ve seen Terminator 2.  And if you haven’t, stop reading this post.  We are not friends.  Watch the movie, then come back here, so we can resume our regularly-scheduled friendship.

Hint: If you haven’t seen the movie, this is where you should say “Stay here, I’ll be back.”  I’ll wait.

Now that we’re all on the same page (and friends again), you are quite familiar with Judgment Day, the day where the robots take over and life as we know it ends.

Catastrophes and crises happen, especially in the PR world.  Every publicist has a “war story.”  Or ten.  Some of the juicier ones I’ve been a part of: a mall fired their Santa, 90% of media passes were revoked by the client 24 hours before a major-name hiphop/R&B concert, and a basketball team’s two biggest stars basically sat out a full-season injured.  Oh, there are more. Continue reading

The C-level/Value Debate

Front view portrait of a businessman and a side view of a businesswoman whisperingIt’s one of the most defining questions facing the PR profession: How do we ensure our voice, our insight, our expertise, is given its proper place among C-levels in our company/organization? In some cases, this very question can define a professional’s entire experience with a company.

So big, in fact, is this question that the PR profession has been debating the topic for years. A recent interview series on public relations ethics from PRSA’s Public Relations Tactics magazine shed some light on how some industry thought-leaders view the balance professionals face between being an internal adviser/counselor and an external communicator. One point, in particular, I was motivated by came from Keith Mabee, APR, vice chairman of Dix & Eaton:

We have to be organizational boundary riders with one foot in the inner sanctum of the C-suite and the boardroom and the other foot out there in our constituency environment. A lot of it has to do with having the courage of your convictions, adept interpersonal skills and the ability to communicate your breadth and knowledge of the business and the industry you’re operating in. Continue reading

SM 102: Social Media for (UNC) Jocks

(CC) flickr // benuski

Last week, the University of North Carolina rolled out a new social media. Instead of increasing access to student athletes, the policy has coaches and/or administrators serving as the social media director for their team (read more here & here). Seems a bit extreme pulling folks more astute with X’s and O’s and game planning to monitoring 140 character messages.

Aside from tapping our resident sports guys, we also tapped into the psyche of a pair of UNC alumni to see what they thought of this new plan. For those of you counting at home, there are four contributors to this post, a first for PRBC.

True Engagement
Rebecca Denison – Class of ’09

I spent four years walking around campus just hoping I’d get to catch a glimpse of guys like Tyler Hansbrough and Danny Green. At Carolina, tests and presentations were often rescheduled because the team had made it to the next round of the tourney. I will forever bleed blue and cheer for Roy’s boys.

When guys like Marcus Ginyard started to join Twitter, I was thrilled because it was probably the best way for me to get to know UNC players and show the team support. Censoring and monitoring these guys only takes away the authentic interaction they have with fellow classmates who may not get the chance otherwise. Yeah, that sounds a bit lame, but wouldn’t you want to interact with a basketball legend one-on-one if you could?

Beyond this loss of authenticity, the spirit behind the new rules is also an issue. UNC’s undergraduate journalism program is considered one of the best in the country, and to have the school’s athletic department enact a policy like this is just plain embarrassing.

Unofficial Ambassadors
Aven James – UNC Class of ’06

UNC recently unveiled an updated social media policy that has been called “harsh” – and while the UNC alum in me might agree, the B2B PR pro has to admit the policy just makes good business sense.  And let’s be honest – isn’t college athletics really a business these days?

Though I admittedly haven’t seen the whole policy, it addresses a number of issues we’d advise a client to touch on:

●        Responsibility & Good Judgment: Student athletes, whether they like it or not, are representatives of their University.  As such, they need to exercise good judgment when posting on public forums and refrain from comments that could negatively impact the “organization.”  And the “organization” needs to pay attention to what’s being said.

●        Audience: Students and fans are an important audience for UNC athletics.  They’re the “consumer;” the buyer of UNC’s “product.”  Therefore, UNC has a responsibility to consider what posts/comments might alienate its fan base.  

●        Consequences: A sound social media policy should address the consequences for “bad behavior.”  UNC has experienced first-hand the risks associated with social media and they’ve created a policy that, they hope, will mitigate them.

All that being said, the devil is always in the details.  With the ability to monitor and even remove posts, UNC could take the policy too far – and if they do so, miss out on an opportunity to engage its fan base via social media.

Pro v. Student
Mike Schaffer

Congratulations, NCAA! The University of North Carolina has helped you further blur the line between enrolled student and paid employee. In Chapel Hill a coach or administrator will be monitoring players’ social media accounts for violations. Yes, that’s a public university chipping away at the students’ individual rights – sounds a little fishy to me.

How much control over a person does their university have over them? Should they have access to student-athletes’ social media accounts, as the policy demands?  And why just student athletes? What about student government, student media or student workers? Seems like the college is flexing their muscles to protect their revenue generating assets.

Do you actually think the star point guard will be judged on the same scale as the back-up women’s coxswain?

I’m all for educating players on how to be on their best behavior online, on the field and in daily life. However, the UNC plan, as it’s been presented, is all about “Big Brother Watching.”

Learning is Learning
Jeff Esposito

It may sound crazy, but this policy is a good thing. While my co-contributors raise some valid objections, they are missing the silver lining in this grey cloud. College is a place for kids to get an education and foundation for a future career. Sure some of the players affected by this new policy will play with balls for a living, but the vast majority of the student athletes will not.

Either way, they need to learn the professional implications of being a dumbass on social media. We’ve all heard horror stories of people getting fired and some of us even monitor what is being said about a company online and may see dumb things posted co-workers.

Sure getting to know these athletes may be cool, but they are representatives of a brand. How many brand reps do you know that really give 100% behind the scenes access? Twitter is big business and if that means some big brother so be it.

The athletes who do turn pro will have stricter regulations from their respective leagues. Just as Chad Ochocinco how much a tweet can cost.

Well there you have our in-house experts’ perspectives. What do you think of the issue?

Aven James

Rebecca, Mike, and Jeff are PRBC regulars.  You can get their contact info and details, as always, right here.  Aven James, a first time PRBC contributor, is a Senior Account Executive at Bliss PR (yes, Elizabeth Sosnow’s firm – another PRBC regular) where she focuses on media relations in the B2B and professional services sector.

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