PR Niblets

Friday, September 24, 2010

Blogjam – Or How I’m Becoming a Social Media Convert (kicking and screaming, of course)

The ups and downs of social media, whether it be blogging, tweeting, playing foursquare or Facebooking really consist of two things: having something to say, and saying it effectively and regularly. As you can see from our Feintuch blog, this is a challenge even in the PR space. It’s also a primary argument I have with some of my clients and certainly my colleagues on occasion.

I think social media is great! Admittedly, I’m a luddite about it, but I truly see it as a tool that, when used effectively, can really propel a company or even a person forward in the public eye. And it certainly has a downside, as over-tweeting becomes tedious, people lose interest and certainly the effectiveness of the communication can be diminished (same as putting out a press release on a daily or even weekly basis).

But what happens when you have nothing to blog? Or things pile up (right Henry?) and you don’t have time to blog, or your social media budget runs dry and your blogger doesn’t work for free? What if you’re a small development-stage company that doesn’t really have any ongoing news?

The ups and downs of this 24/7 medium that we have created are that even if you have nothing to say, and no time in which to say it, you still need to be strategically part of the conversation for your industry. It’s the way people are going to find you, and they’re going to find you. But it’s also a way they’re going to find you relevant.

So if you're going to use it, it’s imperative you say something strategic and constructive: What’s happening in the industry that impacts your company? What’s happening locally that affects your employees or customers? What trade show or financial conference are you going to be attending next week? Or even respond to what others are saying (e.g., about healthcare reform) through a repost or commentary. Blog it, tweet it. But keep updating it and keep it on the regular (maybe not daily, maybe weekly or monthly).

I admit I may have changed my tune a little – even as I write this. Maybe it does make sense for the smaller companies to blog or tweet too. Maybe their having a Facebook page with regular notes about issues impacting their business, even if they don’t have ongoing news, does make sense. But it doesn’t make sense if it’s not regular, reliable, strategic and appropriate.

And yes, we need to continue to practice what we preach here at FC, too. Especially me. Time will tell, and so will the results for our clients. Christa, Savannah, I think you may have a convert on your hands...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Word on the “Street”

Now that travel/vacation season is officially over (sniff, sniff) - I thought we’d reminisce about the summer and share all of the great things we experienced and conquered...

Now, I'm not sure if you’re like me, but every time I travel to a new place I can’t help but put my PR hat on. I’ll be at a restaurant or art exhibit that I absolutely LOVE and immediately have the desire to confront the owner to ask about his/her PR efforts and…can I help? It’s truly a disease. Are there any other PR pros out there that, after eating at an amazing, hidden gem of a restaurant or after visiting a sweet boutique resort off the beaten track, want to grab their smartphones or laptops and immediately post to their social networks that “I was here!”?? Or, are you NOT in PR and you’ve done this!? Then, welcome to the wide world of PR, my friends.

Thanks to social networks, everyone can practice PR now! Word of mouth is one of the best forms of marketing and PR that a brand can have. It’s a fact of life – if you like something, you want to talk about it. But as we know, this goes both ways, if you hate something, you are definitely going to tell the world how much you hate it.

Enter your PR agency.

For businesses (both b2b and b2c), PR agencies help to control the flow of the social network super highway by constantly monitoring and thinking about the next steps for a social media program. If one of your customers loves your new cafĂ©, chances are they want to become the mayor of it on Foursquare and claim themselves as your biggest fan on Facebook. This in turn increases the chances that their friends/family/colleagues will want to try it for themselves. Newspapers and magazines post pass along rates, which are how many people read a publication without having a subscription (think a magazine sitting in a dentist’s office). This same principle applies to the social media buzz rate. If something is buzzworthy, people are going to pass it along. A PR agency can help you handle the buzz and develop a plan that shows your mayor (i.e. your biggest customer) that you appreciate his/her business.

We all have to remember that social media in its simplest form is a promotional vehicle. For my generation, it’s a little bit easier. When my parents take a picture of themselves, they don’t scream, “OMG, this is going on Facebook!” after they review the picture. Younger generations are constantly thinking in terms of “who can I show/tell” and “how can I get noticed” – the core philosophies of advertising and PR.

To prove this point of the generation gap, I have to refer to a story my dad recently told me. My aunt took my mom and dad out to eat at this great little place in Central Jersey with fresh Italian food. The restaurant was practically empty when they went in and boasted half-price appetizers every night. My aunt told my dad, “Now make sure you don’t tell anyone about this place, because if you tell people about a good thing, it might not be a good thing anymore!” I truly disagree with this statement. Wouldn’t a business want more business so that they can keep their good thing going? Groupon has made their whole business off of encouraging people to spread the word about a special or deal. And with all types of social networks and groups (from books to cars to widgets) – the opportunity to promote a growing business is getting easier.

A customer wants to feel like they are special when they visit and promote a particular local business to others and an owner wants to please their local patrons while enticing new customers. With social media, whether you are an enterprise software company or a cinnamon bun bakery, you need to recognize that your customer are your own little PR army! And your PR agency is the General, helping to wrangle the troops!

It’s time to recognize that word of mouth is social media and social media is PR!