Award-winning publicist, Kathy O’Brien brings nearly two decades of experience encompassing both corporate and agency work to Jaffe PR. As both an in-house marketer and a publicist with agencies in New York and Connecticut, she appreciates both sides of the public reputation curve – as the client at the top, and the service provider helping customers get there. Kathy understands PR challenges (more than any veteran publicist I know!).
Her recent post on the Jaffe PR Blog brought up the issue of the common misconception that all PR folks face, and that is the fact that many people really do believe that public relations is a crap shoot – that publicists simply sit in front of their computers all day long, sending out press releases (and in my case, posting tweets, blogs, updates and comments on new digital and social media) in hopes that something will stick and end up in the New York Times.
“Here is a news flash – it really doesn’t work that way,” Kathy says, “PR is and always will be about building relationships with the press and telling a great story in a way that perfectly captures the value you provide. The only way to get there is with a proper PR strategy instead of a ‘shoot from the hip, fingers crossed’ approach.” Please read Kathy’s article here.
Google Search Algorithm Shifting to On-line Public Relations Campaigns (via PR Newswire)
NEW YORK, Nov. 19, 2012 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — An important shift is occurring in which the page rank of a web page is based no longer on the number of back links but rather on the amount of social media interactions, user views, and original content a page has. Once the dominating factor in any page…
As a publicist who has worked in the evolving social and Web media industry for close to 10 years now, I have witnessed many industries that were once “afraid of new media” slowly embrace its reach and broadcast power. Little by little, organizations from financial services to politics continue to dip a toe into the unfamiliar waters of social media. A recent study by a British PR firm showed that some 264 world leaders now have Twitter accounts, and the researchers believe that 30 of them do their own tweeting. Altogether, world leaders have sent more than 350,000 tweets to almost 52 million followers – more proof that Twitter is a true (new) media channel (and, in case you haven’t heard, self-production is not a requirement).
While 16 of the G-20 leaders are actively using Twitter for public diplomacy, many heads of state and government leaders in China, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Italy still do not choose to broadcast on the social media channel.
As you probably have surmised by now, quite a few industries have just started to explore communicating in “the Twitterverse,” including the legal industry. Legal marketers, mostly on the agency side, are naturally very involved in social media, but it’s interesting to me that there are still so many legal professionals who cannot understand why we even need to bother with Twitter. Perhaps referring to this new media channel as the Twitterverse might be a deterrent? I’m not sure why the public relations firm that conducted the study even uses that term. Like it or not, Twitter is a real media channel, not another universe. I wonder if television was treated in the same manner back in the day – I have no doubt it was. Let’s not forget that Twitter was the “media channel” that actually broke the Japan earthquake news. I think that was the turning point.
Regardless, much like traditional media, most professionals in any industry who are not public-relations savvy should not self-produce or broadcast on Twitter at will. There is a difference between professional social media broadcasting on Twitter and the kind of broadcasting a teenager might engage in when talking to friends about a new boyfriend or the school dance.
How do we, as a public relations firm and legal marketers, support legal professionals (from partners and lawyers to vendors) in embracing the power of Twitter as a true broadcast media channel? Or should I say as “a broadcast channel that embraces brand journalism”? As a public relations firm, our job is to show our clients in the legal industry how to build a relevant and appealing content strategy, and how to broadcast resulting content in a tactical way that will support online reputation and build an approachable online persona that people will trust.
I believe that, if produced and managed correctly, social (or new) media is a great way for lawyers and firms to build “good public reputation,” as well as better publicity, via best online thought leadership practices, including broadcasting interesting and important (“good”) news about one’s firm, practice, clients or business or the industry overall. Building a better online persona via a broadcast channel like Twitter, as well as in other networks such as LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube, among others, is more important than ever before. In this age of new media, a corporate brand – and especially a personal professional business profile – that simply sits dormant as a directory listing does not do much for any organization or individual, unless perhaps you’re the president of the United States. But even then, what is the use of a stagnant social media profile in a highly active broadcast channel?
As social media continues to evolve as a legitimate broadcast media channel, those who do not use it as such (within reason and produced in a “human and lifelike manner”) will not reach the kind of PR or marketing goals they are looking to obtain on the Internet. There are ways to hold back confidential information, as well as ways to pull in the right audience by sharing interesting ideas, facts and news.
Designing effective content and engagement that will continue to attract moving and ever-evolving audiences is a key component to being successful on Twitter and beyond. Delivery and presentation of content must also rely on knowledge about the audience. We help our clients with both sides of the process.
How do you track results from your traditional direct mail or advertising campaigns? If you’re like most small business owners and entrepreneurs, you probably compare the number of phone or email inquiries you get before and after a particular PR or marketing activity, or you monitor traffic on your Web site or at your bricks-and-mortar establishment, or you track product orders online or in-person. You also know that while such measures are not exact science, unlike full-blown market surveys, they will at least give you a pretty good sense of whether your efforts are having an impact or not.
Of course, most of us have no idea what kind of increased activity we might see due to marketing, if any. We’re just hoping for some sort of spike in activity, some sense that our efforts are worthwhile.
People used to rely almost entirely traditional media (television, radio, printed press) to shape their opinions about people, places and things. In today’s “new media world” we can all be in control of any kind of information being discussed. People can voice an opinion or promote an idea or opinion to people all over the world using social media (this includes connecting with the traditional press and media).
Social media has democratized the ability to influence. Klout.com believes that influence is the ability to drive action. To that end I am a big proponent of what Klout has brought into the world of social media and online (“new”) media. I believe the ability to influence others online goes hand-in-hand with an individual or company’s online PR and reputation.
Read more> Understand Klout.
The Public Relations field has, for decades, had standards governing conduct and best practices—some tried and true rules of thumb and guidelines. But how does social media, which many—including yours truly—view as a powerful, 21st-century add-on to the PR profession and is perhaps the greatest development to hit the field in more than half a century, fit in?
Let’s cut right to the chase here.
I’m not advocating that every teenager or proud Mom or Dad needs “uber” social media skills to post on Facebook or MySpace (though for a handful of particular posters some skills would be nice!). What I’m talking about are those companies and professionals who tout themselves as social media marketing experts and professionals.
Are they? How can anyone tell? What makes someone a social media expert? What’s stopping virtually anyone from making such a claim?
As it stands now, my neighbor’s 14-year-old high school freshman could claim to be a social media expert . . . and I bet her 600 or so Facebook friends would agree!
Just as with Public Relations professionals, social media experts need to know their stuff. To this end, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is looking to redefine “public relations” so that it encompasses the two-way dialogue that now takes place, courtesy of social media, between companies and consumers, celebrities and their fans, professionals and clients. Sure to follow will be social media training and professional certifications.
What this means for consumers is a true “seal of approval” to help them discern qualified professionals from the not-so-qualified. What it means for those of us in the profession, aside from increased knowledge and expertise, is greater credibility for anyone holding such a credential.
Sure it sounds like more paperwork and more class work, and undoubtedly an extra fee or two, but in my book, it’s a win-win for PR/Social media professionals and the people/companies we serve. All will benefit from increased standards and greater integrity.
Don’t you think it’s time to weigh in with the PRSA and let them know we want to ensure the integrity of social media and the individuals and firms who operate in this space? While we can’t ensure across-the-board success (case in point, the numerous less-than-stellar TV and radio shows, publications, and networks), when it comes to social media and other online channels we can go a long way to ensuring higher quality and the existence of peer-developed best practices industry wide.
Does social media really work?
As a public relations professional and social media PR producer/manager, I get asked that question all the time, especially as companies big and small and individuals from all sorts of industries and professions jump aboard the social media bandwagon. (It’s as though someone’s built the better mousetrap . . . and everyone wants in).
Of course social media “works,” but what that means varies by business and by individual. It really comes down to the results you desire and your audience. Just because you think social media is a great idea, doesn’t mean they do.
Can social media raise awareness of your company or personal brand?
As a long-term strategy, that’s a big “yes” on both accounts. Of course, you have to work at it, you have to generate quality content, and you have to be vigilant. But the ease with which you can push out posts and blogs and tweets makes social media a natural for creating “buzz” about you and your products or services and for keeping the volume cranked up to a healthy “11.” Plus, it doesn’t cost much to get your feet wet (though I will argue that you get what you pay for: getting your feet wet is quite a stretch from realizing social media’s maximum benefit for your business).
Having said all that, you might feel tempted to toss all of your eggs into the social media basket. Not so fast . . . hear me out.
Despite all that’s been said about it, Social media is not the cure for your every marketing ill. It’s important. It’s powerful. It’s far-reaching. But, really, social media is just another “channel”—a very robust, new, and exciting channel, mind you—through which you can reach out to customers and prospects with relative ease.
Remember when cable TV exploded in the 1980s and 1990s, adding a whole universe of additional niche markets to mine? We didn’t simply drop our traditional TV, print, or radio marketing back then did we? No. At the time, cable TV simply represented another tool in our marketing tool box, one we needed to work with, learn, and “try out” to see how we could use it most effectively. Such is the case nowadays with social media.
For some, social media might comprise the bulk of their marketing efforts; for others, it may be nothing more than an afterthought, a “nice-to-have” but not a necessity. As a business owner or a business professional looking to increase your brand awareness, you need to consider whether social media can produce the kind of return on investment necessary to justify the amount of attention and resources you give it—just as you would with any other marketing tool. How you deploy social media boils down to your target audience, your product or service, and what you determine is the most effective way to reach out and engage your customers and prospects.
- As an individual, how much time can you dedicate to creating and pushing out the content needed to position you or your company as a thought leader?
- If you don’t have the time, do you have the resources to hire someone else to execute a social media strategy for you?
- Once engaged in social media, how can you turn social media traffic into real sales? Getting fans or having someone tag you in a photo is one thing—it means you’ve been noticed—but how can you translate that into new business?
- What ways can you convert social media traffic into sales traffic . . . or at least bona fide leads?
If these considerations seem vaguely familiar, it’s because they also can be applied to traditional media. Running an ad? What’s your call to call-to-action? Staging an event, what kind of time and resources can you dedicate to it?
You see, social media is really an additional way for prospects to engage in a dialogue with you. Ultimately, you still need to convert them into customers.
For sure, social media needs to be part of the 21st century marketing mix, right alongside the tried and true plus other new media that might be coming down the pike (whatever that might be!). But relying on social media to be your sole means for connecting with your target audience, at the exclusion or the downplaying of everything else, is risky business. Although, yes, it can work for some. As I look back over the last few years (especially!), social media PR has worked for me quite well, but then again—I’ve paired social media alongside email marketing and old fashioned networking (channels).
I’ve seen many companies and individuals go “all-in” with social media, only to find that it’s not the end all/be all they thought it was—at least not in the short-term. Social media is a great way to increase your visibility over time through consistent blogging and frequent updates on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media sites—but getting customers and prospects to buy something from you still takes good old fashion legwork, quality leads, and the ability to deliver on your brand promise . . . and there’s no substitute for that.
In today’s new social media and online environment, it’s more important than ever before for the executive suite to small business owner to speaking dynamo to develop and maintain online PR. Personal public relations–as well as personal branding must beyond the general marketing or launch of a particular service or product brand.
Most new business owners and operators approach this (area) completely backwards–still expecting the company, service, brand…whatever it is to perform on its own.
On new media age, demands executive, business and even political leaders to take the necessary steps to be more in front of consumers and other businesses on a daily basis. The social media channels and search engines have given business leaders a golden opportunity to get in front of their audience at a much faster pace (over the typical press/media briefing, print article or even television interviews–not to mention the basic business letter).
Putting a consistent online Personal PR strategy in place along with up-to-date personal branding is a must-have for just about every executive business manager, leader or owner.
Online Personal Professional PR must include the following to establish and continue to establish the company or brand’s credibility and general PR:
- Building a strong online social network audience (target following – in networks that matter to the business/industry)
- Creating a strategy that will cultivate followers (SEO development and online network updates to utilizing e-mail, press releases, articles)
- Engaging with the targeted audience (listening and responding)
- Sharing knowledge (Pay-it-Forward and “think like Oprah”)
- Keeping an audience “glued” to the company brand from a reality perspective–tell quick stories, ask questions (good example: Michael Dell http://twitter.com/MichaelDell)
Naturally this concept is very new, it won’t happen overnight. But personal professional PR (on and off-line) is the wave of the future. Those who are partaking now (even in baby steps) are certainly way ahead of the marketing game.