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Archive for the ‘Bloggers’ Category

Nothing warms my day like an article filled with social media statistics. (I’m being serious.)  I know that 82.4% of all statistics are made up on the spot, but I’m inclined to believe the findings of Ketchum’s recent Traditional Media vs. Online Media report as reported by Mashable.

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Bottom line:  more people are getting their news from network news (local and national) and local newspapers than blogs, the Internet or social media sites.

I’m not surprised.  How about you?

Here’s where the good news comes in.  According to Mashable:

– Blogs are now used by 24% of Internet users, up from 13% in 2006

– Social networks are now used by 26% of Internet users, up from 17% in 2006

– Videocasts are now used by 11% of Internet users, up from 6% in 2006

Also growing, RSS feeds and Podcasts.

So what do we do with these statistics?

Blogging:

I am a big proponent of Corporate blogs and suggest that nearly all of my clients start one.  Not only do blogs allow for Corporations to control their own message, but they also have the opportunity to give a corporation a human-feel.  The best Corporations understand how to disseminate their news in a fun-to-read manner.

Sometimes, a Corporation shouldn’t blog.  If a Corporation doesn’t have the ability to post updates consistently, has difficulties with the approvals process, or can not answer comments in a timely manner, I do not suggest blogging.

With the rise and public acceptance of blogs as legitimate news combined with usage of RSS feeds, will we as a society ultimately prefer to receive our news from Corporations themselves?

Social Networking:

Pretty much everyone participates in a social network on a personal level in one way or another.  Even my mom listens to Pandora radio both at home and on her iPhone.  (My mom is not very tech-savvy, but I love her anyway.) What should businesses do to reach the 26% of Internet users partaking?

Social networks are not one size fits all.  In other words, while MySpace might work for a band, LinkedIn might be best for a company looking to focus on expanding their sales efforts.  Likewise, Twitter might be best for a marketing organization.  There are many social networks to choose from and they should be chosen wisely.  It is better to be effective in one social network than participate poorly in many.

For a decently comprehensive list of Social Networks, and to see if your username is available, check here.

Videocasts:

Videocasts (or podcasts with video), are on the rise.  I can’t figure out a reason why I would create one for me YET, though I am starting to find lots of compelling reasons for my clients to create them.  If you are speaking at workshops, trying to have a more personal connection with your followers or just want to take your podcast to the next level, this is a growing area worth considering.

RSS Feeds:

It does surprise me that MORE people don’t use RSS feeds. I subscribe to everything I find interesting and by using RSS feeds, my life is simplified greatly.   I never thought it would be possible that I could read all my news on one page, share from that page, and talk about the news.  If this doesn’t stick as the number one way of receiving our news as a society, I REALLY wonder what will.

Traditional Public Relations:

Most importantly, we can’t yet forget about traditional public relations.  We still need to build relationships with our local newspapers and broadcast journalists and pitch them with compelling, interesting news.   There is no such thing as one size fits all public relations.  Our industry is growing.  I will continue to get all my news online, and in all likelihood, my mom will get three newspapers delivered every morning until the newspapers are cancelled.

Public Relations is about delivering the message to EVERYONE.  And while Social Media is certainly rising, it’s not time to forget where we came from just yet.

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The problem:

Honestly, NO ONE in the world could be a more HORRID PR practitioner than Lois Whitman-Hess.   You didn’t hear about her?  Click here, or here.  This is a woman who thinks that just because a reporter is attending a tradeshow, they HAVE to meet with her client.  This is a woman who CALLS 45 reporters at the Wall Street Journal in ONE day.  This is a woman who spams journalists like it’s cool.  This is the kind of PR practitioner that makes bloggers think “PR” is a bad word.

WE GET IT.  There are some REALLY HORRIBLE public relations practitioners out there.

The solution:

Bloggers- I want to ask you a HUGE favor for 2009. HUGE.  I want to see one of you- one of you with the respect of the entire PR industry start a new blog or weekly column.  It will be called: The PHENOMENAL PITCH BLOG or something similar.  In this blog/column, you will call out the most outstanding PR pitches you have heard and call out the individuals who pitched.  This will be the anti-blacklist.  (The White-list.  Generic.  You get the idea.)

The philosophy:

I don’t think people learn from rants.  (Ironic since I am writing one.)  I think people learn best from shining examples of good.  In 2008, we’ve suffered through the economy, and if there is one thing that social media has taught me, it’s that (most of the time) positivity rises to the top while negativity sinks, ignored.   Maybe if we have a list of GREAT PR folks, people will strive to MAKE the list.  Let’s give PR people something to strive toward, not a list of avoid.

What now?

I’m one person.  A PR person, a blogger.  If you agree, if you want to see the PHENOMENAL PITCH BLOG come to life… forward this blog.  Who will do it for us?  For the WHOLE public relations industry?

I would be forever grateful.

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It has been speculated by the new (fabulous) blog Lalawag that Qwitter has possibly gone under.   Article.  Could it be?  (Wahoo!)

For those unfamiliar, Qwitter is/was a Web application that e-mails Twitter users (who sign up) every day notifying them of fellow Tweeps who stop following their micro-feed.   While interesting in theory, what followed was an onslaught of Tweeps complaining about being “Qwit,” threatening to un-follow anyone who un-followed them and really, general high school patheticness on a massive level.

I never signed up for Qwitter, and this is why:

1) Not every person I find valuable is ALSO going to find my tweets valuable.  Should this offend me?  No.  We all have different offerings/services to provide to the greater community.  This is what makes Twitter great.

2) If I Tweet 140 characters, and someone doesn’t like what I have to say and therefore un-follows me, I am not going to change the way I tweet and “who I am online” to please one person.

3) When Twitter started, there might have been an unwritten code that if I follow a person, he/she should follow back. Given the size of Twitter now, those codes are off.  I follow over 500 people, and honestly, my favorite Tweeps are getting lost in the information shuffle.  At some point it’s IMPORTANT to be more selective to serve your business needs.

4) Finally- why?  What did I stand to gain to find out who was quitting my feed and when?  I would rather focus on the positive and learn about my new followers.

Services like Qwitter reinforce the feeling that social media can be just like high school.  If we put the focus on how many people are our friends or who quit today, we lose focus on what we stand to learn today.

I would never wish for a company to go under.  But in hard economic times, I would prefer that social media, and social media tools help us as a community stay in touch with positive forms of networking  and helpful dissemination of relevant information.

What do you think?  As always, I welcome your feedback.

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Day after day I am seeing tweets on my Twitter account from journalists that say things like:

  • PR Pro Tip: Do NOT pitch me on Facebook, or;
  • Pitching me on Facebook is an invasion of my privacy, don’t do it!

Is Facebook Private?
I am not surprised that many journalists aren’t appreciating this. I am surprised that PR professionals are slipping business pitches into a space that IMHO is “invite only” and private.

From my perspective, Facebook is a semi-private domain on the Internet. I decide who my friends are and I also decide how I utilize the tool once I’m in. Many people use Facebook as a social service, planting gardens and posting pictures to share with their friends. In my case, I utilize Facebook to catch up with old friends, share my thoughts on issues that are important to me via FriendFeed/Twitter, post my resume, share my blog, etc. For me, my Facebooking is a combination of social and business usage, and as a result, I don’t want everyone to have access.

Measuring Interest
At this point, any of the PR pros who have sent a Facebook pitch are probably thinking: Yeah, but I can send a pitch to a reporter without being their friend via the “Message Me” function. Yes, on Facebook you can pitch Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal. But do you think he’ll appreciate it?

I went on Twitter to find out. Walt Mossberg has 902 followers. He is following zero people. NONE. I don’t think it’s a leap to guess that he likes sharing what he has written with the world, but might not be as interested to hear what PR pros have to say via a social media tool.

Even with bloggers, it’s much the same. Michael Arrington of TechCrunch, for example has 25,000+ followers but only follows 480+ people.

How to Achieve Results
I understand, it’s hard to get your message out to these very influential folks. So what are PR pros to do? Follow the rules. Of each individual journalist, and pay attention to follow out what those rules are. Paying attention will lead to results.

You Decide
But nothing is definitive. I believe as much as some journalists dislike Facebook pitches, there MUST be some out there that love them, right? I have created two new groups on Facebook to find out.

Dude, don’t pitch me on Facebook!

Dude, I love being pitched on Facebook!

Journalists, bloggers, writers of all kind, please help us PR pros out! Please click on one of the pages and register. What do you think? Should Facebook pitches stay, or go away?

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What happened to relationships in public relations?

The process for pitching a client’s product or service offering used to look like this:

  • PR professionals would scour editorial calendars and then actually read each possibly relevant publication.
  • PR professionals would then familiarize themselves with each editor they might pitch, including recent articles.
  • Then, and only then, would a PR person pick up the phone. The point of this exercise was to build a relationship with the relevant editor regarding their client’s product or service offering.

The goal of this process was to position your client as the number one subject matter expert for an editor. Public relations was about trust. Relationships. Results usually followed.

Today the process is has (sadly) become about speed, numbers. Many PR professionals have placed their focus on hitting as many media outlets as possible to get their message out using high-tech spamming tools offered by MediaMap and other PR services. In the defense of PR professionals, I know these tactics work with many trade publications, but they aren’t resonating with bloggers.

In my observation, there are a few things PR professionals are doing as a rule in pitching these days:

  • Sending press releases- they are available on the wire.
  • Sending a scripted pitch, not specific to the publication/blog, which is obvious to the recipient.
  • Sending pitches that demonstrate a lack of familiarity with either the blog/publication, the editor or both.

Todd Defran of PR Squared addresses this issue in a recent post “Bloggers: Be Proactive in Educating PR Pros.” The rules, PR gang, are really simple:

  • Be brief.
  • Demonstrate in your pitch that you have read the blog before.
  • Look to see if the blogger accepts PR pitches, and if they do, do they have specific rules and/or requests for the pitches they receive? If you follow those, your chances of being picked up will increase greatly.

Easy, right?

There are a few rules Todd doesn’t cover, that I also think carry great importance.

  • Link everything. Bloggers print everything on the Internet at lightning speed, and your news has a better chance of being picked up if you can provide them with a link. This means you have to have your links ready to go in your press room.
  • Be transparent. Bloggers can read through all of your PR spin BS. So don’t have any.
  • Be available to the Blogger.

While we don’t pick up the phone and call editors as much these days, I do believe bloggers are asking us to take steps back and focus on relationships again. If the news is relevant, a Blogger will print it. If it’s not, they won’t. Read their news, focus on relevancy and keep your focus on being the subject matter expert just like you did in the “old days” and you’ll have results.

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