All posts by Christina Khoury

How Social Media Can Serve as a Free Focus Group

Years ago, when I met up with friends at the mall, brand ambassadors would ask us for fifteen minutes of our time in exchange for a movie voucher, food court ticket, or even sometimes a few dollars.  All we had to do was complete a survey about a new product, commercial or service.  At the time, I had no idea I was partaking in a version of a focus group.

Once college came around, I learned that participating in a focus group was the quickest, and sometimes fun, way of making money.  So what is a focus group?  It’s an opportunity for brands to hear feedback directly from the consumer about a product/service to then evaluate the product and possibly change it according to what was said.

Focus groups take time and money, and brands today are scarce on both.  However, if brands listen to the conversation about its product/service via various social networks, they would be uncovering a huge resource, a free focus group.  In my opinion, one of the most vital ways a company can enhance its product is by paying more attention to the negative feedback during these sessions.

Here are a few examples:   Continue reading

Word Vomit: Topics That Are Better Left Unsaid

(CC) Image courtesy theritters

The social aspect of  communications is one of the many reasons I was attracted to working in public relations.  It’s also one of the many reasons why I love Twitter.  I’ve attended many tweets up and happy hours simply to meet some of my favorite people.  Heck, I even drove with Kate and TJ to visit some fabulous friends in Boston who at the time I only knew via Twitter.

It wasn’t until recently that I noticed an excessive amount of “word vomit,” the act of putting one’s foot in thy mouth, at these tweet ups and happy hours that made me second guess the information I divulge when first meeting someone.  We may talk to each other every day but do we really trust each other?  How much word vomit is just too much before others start judging?  When networking or socializing with new friends here are some topics you may want to exclude: Continue reading

Christina’s Coffee Talk with Rick Calvert

On Thursday, October 14 many of our friends will head to Las Vegas for the largest social media conference: BlogWorld & New Media Expo.  Since some of us may not be able to attend, we’re providing you with some inside scoop from Rick Calvert, CEO and co-founder of BlogWorld & New Media Expo.

If you are attending, remember two things:  Rick likes Lipton Tea and played guitar for 20 years in a heavy metal band.  Do us all a favor and grab a flip cam, get this man some tea (preferably spiked for coaxing), and find him a guitar.  If you get him on camera performing, there will be a prize waiting for you from PRBC (just kidding…maybe).

What makes BlogWorld different from other social media conferences?

The first thing is that it is the biggest.   BlogWorld was born before Social Media became the de facto term for the new media revolution.   That’s why the event is called BlogWorld & New Media Expo.   Most people didn’t even know what blogs were when we announced the event in 2006 and no one had ever heard of Twitter. 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

Complaining Vs. Whining

Man Buying ClothesI believe that the ability to be a salesman is innate.  You’re born with it or you’re not.  I come from a family that could sell a red popsicle to a socialite dressed in a couture white sundress.  Because of this ability to make people feel welcomed, cared for, and a priority, I always found myself working in retail.  I worked the customer service desk at Marshalls when I was 15 years-old and as assistant manager of a sneaker store at 18 years-old.  My retail career ended only a couple of years ago to focus on my career in PR.  What I learned from working in retail and handling customers has always translated  into my daily work as a PR professional.

Recently I came across an interesting article by Sarah Nassauer for the New York Times, “I Hate My Room,’ The Traveler Tweeted. Ka-Boom! An Upgrade!” The article discussed how customer service is changing now that we have a million eyes at our finger tips.  This isn’t new information as we all know that a company’s reputation can be hurt by a simple tweet, status update, Flickr image, YouTube upload, or TripAdvisor review.  And that’s only naming a few of the various platforms we use on a daily basis.  In the article a guest tweeted about his unsatisfactory room.   The front desk employee was watching and immediately went into damage control offering an upgrade.  Kudos to the front desk for monitoring the social network.  But does every guest that complains/whines about service need to receive compensation or a resolution? Continue reading

Go Where Nobody Knows Your Name

Two handsHow many conferences/seminars have you been to this year?  How many more do you plan on attending?  How many of those seminars/conferences are for PR professionals?

If you need two hands to count I suggest you stop.  A wise PR professional once said (during one of those redundant PR conferences) to stop going where the PR people are and head to the trenches.  Go where the journalist are and get to know them.  Last month I had the opportunity to attend the 2nd Annual Travel Blog Exchange, a two day “conference” of travel bloggers/writers looking to learn from each other and share their experiences.  Overall it was the perfect chance to meet some of the people I’ve gotten to know via Twitter, just like every other conference, but more importantly it also gave me an inside look into the life of a travel writer.  In case you’re unaware, this is important to me as I recently started my career as a travel publicist. 🙂 Continue reading

Tips for Ten Minute Interviews

Clock works' gear wheels, close up, studio shotTen minutes.  That’s all you have to influence your audience.  How do you make sure your messages are communicated efficiently?

One of the most valuable things I learned from my previous job was how to own a five and,  if Iwas lucky, ten minute interview.  I worked as a publicist for a book publicity firm and scheduled  Radio Tours.  For those of you who don’t know what that means, imagine having twenty back-to-back interviews with radio hosts all over the country for approximately six hours….starting at 7:00 a.m. EST.  Sounds exhausting and intimidating right?   Continue reading

Twitter: Creating Social Media Clones

Genetic cloning montageFinally, the ability to be two places at once! For a while, Hootsuite users have loved the ability to schedule tweets and now the new Tweetdeck is taking it one step further by including scheduled tweets and Foursquare check-ins. Correct me if I’m wrong, but how can we check-in via Foursquare if we’re not physically there? How do we engage conversation without being around to respond? Tweetdeck has given us the opportunity to have a social media clone ensuring our presence is still in our community without physically doing the work.

Last week during the #u30pro chat, hosted by Lauren Fernandez, David Spinks, and Scott Hale, the group discussed pros/cons to scheduled tweets and many users chimed in. Here are some reasons members dislike the feature: Continue reading

Christina’s Coffee Talk with Christopher Barger

Today’s coffee talk is with Chris Barger, director of global social media for General Motors. In March I had the opportunity to listen to Chris’s keynote speech at the 2010 Media Relations Best Practices Summit hosted by PRSA and Ragan’s PR Daily, and immediately knew he would be a great guest. In my opinion, because he was so candid and honest in how he presented that I still remember the information he shared today. He’s also quite funny which kept the attendees paying attention ;).

Like your typical PR professional he’s a fan of caffeine and is very specific with how he needs it. If you’re going to ask him to coffee remember to get him one of the following: Tim Horton’ english coffee cappuccino, Dunkin Donuts coconut coffee light and sweet, and Coffee Beanery’s crème brulee. So sit tight because this is a long one but I promise the golden nuggets of information make it completely worth the procrastination at work ;).

As director of global social media for General Motors’s, I’m going to assume you receive resistance but would you say it’s changed?

The resistance today is definitely different than it used to be before the crash last summer. Continue reading

For The Love Of Debate

Businessman Pointing at PaperA good friend of mine once told me, “If you took the popular opinion there would be no reason to write.” He’s right. Writing gives us a voice. It allows for discussion, debate, and for our knowledge to grow as a result. In addition to learning, a debate can open doors to new relationships. That’s how Kasey and I became friends. I disagreed with a post he wrote and needed to understand where he was coming from. I approached him via direct message, which turned into a great discussion, resulting in a blog post for PRBC and a valued friendship. So today, Kasey and I would like to encourage the PRBC community to act as a contrarion. You’d be amazed at what you will learn. Continue reading