Category Archives: Best Practices

“Blogos and Journos–They’re Just Like US!”

Do you ever read Us Weekly? Yeah, yeah. Of course you don’t. 🙂 Neither do I…I just look at the pictures.

One of my favorite sections is “Stars–They’re Just Like US,” a regular section featuring photos of stars doing everyday things–just like us common folk. Pamela Anderson pays with a debit card–just like us! Reese Witherspoon shops in sweat pants–just like us! Jake Gyllenhaal washes his car–just like us!

What I like about this section is that it’s good to see stars looking not-so-shiny. Seeing them do the tasks we do in our lives also helps us appreciate them as “normal” people. When doing blogger or media relations, it’s important we remember they too are human.

Why am I bringing this up? Last week I was at an industry event chatting with a top-tier blogger, when s/he got a phone call from a PR person who was “just checking in” to see if the blogger was going to post their news. Bear in mind, it’s Midnight Pacific in SF, which means it’s 3 AM back on the east coast where the blogger lives.

I don’t know about you, but if anyone calls me after 10 or 11 at night, it better be an emergency–3 AM, and there better be a catastrophe!

I would have gone ballistic on the caller. The blogger, however, handled it well. When s/he hung up, I expressed my shock. S/he said “It happens all the time.” What makes it even worse is that, after polling several other top-tier bloggers over the past week, I found out that it happens to them, too.

Their painful acceptance made me cry for our industry.

Yes, bloggers are always on. And, yes, you’re doing your job to help them do their job better. But there *is* a line. Before you send an email, make a phone call, pitch them at parties, etc., ask yourself: “How would I respond to this action?”

Here are a few ways bloggers and reporters are JUST LIKE US:

  • They stress at having a full inbox with over a thousand unread messages, many that probably aren’t even pertinent to them
    • I can’t drill this enough: Know who you are pitching. If you can make it personal, do so. None of us like unnecessary email. Don’t send junk
  • They sometimes need to go “heads down” and hammer some work out
    • When you call, ask if they are on deadline. If they say yes, ask when the best time to call is or just apologize and cal again tomorrow
  • They like to forget work and have fun at parties
    • It’s ok to talk to them, maybe introduce them to a client. Use that time to get to know them as a person and then they may be more receptive to your news at a later date
    • Don’t, I repeat, don’t pitch them
  • They like their nights and weekends!
    • Don’t call them late at night. That’s just tacky. If you have a good pitch and a good relationship, then just chill.
    • If it’s late news, send the email. Follow-up in the morning. Period

They have grouchy bosses, demanding kids, bills to pay. They get angry, sad, happy. They have bad days and beautiful days. Yup, basically they are human–just like us. Be sure to treat them with the dignity and respect that we all deserve as humans on this planet.

What steps do you take before you engage with a blogger or reporter? What other ways are bloggers and reporters just like us? Let us know in the comments!

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Filed under Best Practices, Blogger Relations, Public Relations 2.0

“And…Cut! How Not To Pitch Video Content”

Last night a top-tier blogger told me they were having problems with people using video to promote and pitch their company. To make sure video doesn’t become the new press release that pisses journos and bloggers off, I wanted to share the problem and discuss a couple of ways to pitch video effectively.

Problem

Startup Z wants Blogger X to write about their new product announcement, so they send a video. Nope, not a link to YouTube. Not a link to a social media news release. Nope, they send a 60+ MB file as an attachment with no textual support. They also offer a link to a YouSendIt type place to download. Why is that a problem?

Think about it like this:

  • Assumes blogger is near a connection that can download
    • Many bloggers travel like nomads going from conference to conference
  • Assumes bloggger has time to download 60+ MB
    • As a rule of thumb, if you can’t send it from your email, maybe you should rethink the file size
    • Is a link better?
  • Assumes blogger will open it
    • I generally don’t open unsolicited attachments for fear of computer viruses
  • Assumes blogger has the proper program to play that file format
    • Sadly, we don’t have universal standards on video. Some blogos are Mac-based while other are strictly PC (shocking!)
  • Assumes blogger has time/brainpower to sit and watch the video
    • At the end of the day, I just dont have the strength to watch another video

Solution

I love video more than most people in PR and applaud anyone trying to create content that tells their story in innovative ways. As we as an industry try to figure out how to integrate these new technologies into our campaigns, we may encounter a few hiccups along the way. You want journos and bloggers to be interested in the content you are creating, so be mindful when you pitch them

To make sure your video gets the attention it deserves, try these steps:

  • Load the video to YouTube, Vimeo, Viddler, Blip.tv (Need help choosing? Read our review of the top video platforms)
  • Under Embargo? Not ready for the world to see the video?
    • Blip.tv allows you to create password-protected videos. Send a link with the password to the bloggers and reporters you do want to share the vid with
    • Blip.tv also allows your viewers to download the video in a variety of formats that the viewer chooses
  • Send a text summary (preferably bulleted) in the email alongside the video
    • Watching a 3 minute video may not seem like a big investment, but it is. Give journos and bloggers an alternative
    • Bullet out the key points so the journo or blogger can see if it’s something they are interested in
    • This also helps ensure that all the messages and facts you want them to pull from the video will at least be acknowledged

We all want to do the best things for our clients. Whether the video is featured in a post on a top-tier blog, inspires another post or gets picked up by several long-tail bloggers, the visual format can have a significant impact on your audiences. Just be mindful of the people you are pitching and you can guarantee your content gets the attention it deserves!

How do you pitch out your video or audio content? Let us know in the comments!

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[The above photo, “Digital Alarm Clock” by Endless Studio on Flickr, used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under Best Practices, Blogger Relations, How To, New Media, Public Relations 2.0, Social Media, Video

“The Blogos Are Right. Tech PR Must DIE!”

It’s been a rough week for PR peeps. The blogos are right, tech PR is losing the fight. What do you say we kill off all our bad practices and start anew? By confessing all of our sins, maybe we can set them free and finally move on! (For a more conventional approach to blogger relations, check out our previous posts “Luke, I Am Your Blogger : How to Pitch From the Dark Side” or “ “How Media Relations Got Its Groove Back”)

I’m not being sarcastic. I’m ready to see tech PR die

Visualize with me:

  • Let’s burn blast emails.
  • Let’s hang (up) the phone to cold calling.
  • Let’s poison fluffy, fake press releases.
  • Let’s slash the idea that we can push the press into submission.

Good. Feel that weight going off your shoulders? That’s freedom.

Give yourself permission to start fresh start and do the following:

  • Imagine interacting as equals.
  • PR, clients, marketers and companies join the conversation.
  • Don’t just read content, interact with the writers.
  • Build relationships, both offline and on the Interwebs.
  • Produce meaningful content, don’t just push it.
  • Drop the fluff and get with the raw, insider view.
  • Give the mic and the camera to your clients.
  • Help them create and publish their own content.
  • Then one day, a blogger or journo might find it and reach out to you!

Yes. I confess. I’m not perfect. As of today, however, I’m liberating myself from the wrong deeds of PR pros past. Join me?

What practices do you want to kill off? Confess them in the comments. Also, how do you see PR changing and what do you want to see change? Let us commune 😉

Don’t miss out: Grab our RSS feed! [what’s that?]. Or start your morning with socialTNT in your InBox! Or read Chris 24-7 on Twitter!

[The above photo, “Paris – Île de la Cité: Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris – Confessions Dialogue” by wallyg on Flickr, used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under Best Practices, Blogger Relations, Public Relations 2.0

“Reporters on Twitter? Say Twellow to My Leetle Friend”

So you’re on Twitter, sharing posts and chatting with your colleagues. You’re also looking out for your clients by monitoring for conversations using Summize (now owned by Twitter). But how do you tap into the power of Twitter and learn more about your target reporters? Don’t fret social media heroes and heroines. The lovely folks at WebProNews have created Twellow, a great Twitter people search and directory to help you find reporters and bloggers galore!

Check it (click to enlarge):

Yeah, I know. It looks a little one dot oh, but trust me. Don’t let that keep you from giving it a go. All those categories can help you drill down into the industries or interests of the Twitter community.

Here’s what the News Category looks like (click to enlarge):

Note that the list is ranked by number of followers. Here is the list for Bloggers (click to enlarge):

Each list is composed of mini-profiles. Here’s mine:

It shows a recent Tweet, my actual Twitter profile and the categories my profile falls under. These are either computer-defined based on search terms in the profile or user-defined. Yup, anyone listed on Twellow can “claim” their profile by logging into Twellow with a Twitter password.

It’s in Alpha, which means they are still testing, developing and working out the bugs. We look forward to seeing it improve over the upcoming months.

Areas Needing Improvement:

  • Name search engine is a little weak. Searching with “Christopher” doesn’t get picked up as being the formal name for “Chris”
  • Why is PR in the advertising category? Marketing would be a better fit [UPDATE: Twellow moved Public Relations to the Marketing category! I’m impressed! See their Tweet here.]
  • The friend count on some profiles doesn’t match the numbers listed on the Twitter profile
  • Twellow hasn’t mapped everyone on Twitter just yet. We look forward to seeing it’s directory grow

Still a Great Resource:

  • By clicking around the directories, we were able to find and add several top tier bloggers and reporters we didn’t know were on Twitter
  • With the people search, we also found several other reporters and bloggers who had not been categorized
  • Most fascinating was the number of local reporters from all across the country, including a large number from Ohio and Oklahoma!
  • Since it’s organized by categories, you can also find key audiences or other peeps who share your interests

Test drive Twellow and tell us what you think. Did you find it useful? What are some other ways you find reporters on Twitter? Let us know in the comments! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter 🙂

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Filed under Best Practices, How To, Product Review, Public Relations 2.0

“You Are Doing Your Clients a Horrible Disservice”

…if you don’t monitor for them on Twitter.

How would your clients take it if you didn’t respond to a negative article in a smaller daily, say the Oakland Tribune? You wouldn’t want to miss the chance to respond to a potentially harmful blog post, so why miss a Tweet?

Use Summize. It finds all Tweets about your client or from your customers–even deleted ones! When Twitter’s “reply” function is working, it can also track conversation around said Tweet! And now, it’s embedded in my favorite Twitter Client, Twhirl.

Our clients love it when we send them a Tweet to which they should respond. We’ve been using it for several months now.

Check out this search for Yoono.

When a person firsts install Yoono, it sends a Tweet to their Twitterstream saying “I’m testing Yoono.”

(Click to Enlarge)

Yoono also has someone manning a Twitter account. They catch the negative comments and respond. Note the elegance of Summize’s inline conversation tracking!

(Click to Enlarge)

(Click to Enlarge)

But it also looks as though they didn’t see all the negative comments. Maybe they should use Summize 😉 (UPDATE: They do! See the comments below!)

How do you track your client and customer conversations effectively? Leave us tips in the comments!

BTW: Stay tuned for Marie’s comprehensive review of Yoono next week!

[UPDATE: On July 15, 2008, Twitter buys Summize.]

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Filed under Best Practices, How To, Marketing, Public Relations 2.0, Social Media

“Fight Noise Pollution: Tips on Blogging Past the Echo Chamber”

\Whether building your personal brand or increasing conversation with your customers, there’s no denying that blogs have become a crucial part of any communications and marketing strategy. But with so many people blogging, sometimes it feels like the echo chamber is nothing but noise pollution. Today, socialTNT shares a few tips on how to establish your voice without adding to the pollution.

  • Every day in our professional lives, we encounter experiences that can be used to help others learn. Write anecdotes of challenges or successes, or share tips and tricks. They’ll help increase your industry’s knowledge, and your readers will appreciate it.
  • Do you have case studies, white papers or reviews you can share? Do it!
  • Holiday coming up? Incorporate your blog’s focus into a post with a seasonal angle.
  • Instead of posting every time you want to share a link, try using Twitter, tumblr, or del.icio.us to create a link log.
  • One of the most revolutionary things about blogging is that it allows readers to participate in the news dialog. Before writing about the news or another blog post, check to make sure you are adding insight or evolving the conversation. It also doesn’t hurt if you are adding your own personal style to the news (for example, instead of covering the Final Four, what about covering how brackets have moved into the social media space, or the way brands are using these brackets to market to consumers).

Blogging is a great tool to share your unique point of view with the world. With so many people writing, you can’t always have original content. You can, however, always have your own style. Be genuine and you’ll always be able to add to the discussion.

What are some tips you can offer other bloggers on how to fight the noise in the echo chamber? Or is it even a problem? Let us know in the comments!

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[The above photo, “Megaphone” by Indigo Goat on flickr, is used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under Best Practices, Blogging, How To, Social Media, Uncategorized

“Killing the Buddha: PR 2.0 and Social Media Marketing Nirvana”

“Embrace nothing:
If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha.
If you meet your father, kill your father.
Only live your life as it is,
Not bound to anything.”

–Buddha Shakyamuni

Blogs. Twitter. Facebook. Tumblr. What do they have in common? They’re all amazing tools for increasing communications and strengthening connections. Nothing more.

Sometimes communities get so distracted by the messenger that they forget the message. Yes even we purveyors of messaging in the PR and marketing trades are fallible to shiny things. Taking some queues from the Buddhist philosophy, let’s take a step back and make sure we are all on the same page.

As Brian Solis discusses in this post, PR 2.0 is the evolution of public relations. At its fundamental root, public relations and marketing in the new media era is about building relationships. The tools and technology come secondary.

According to my “Effective Public Relations” text book, “Public relations is the management function that establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and the publics on whoms its success or failure depends.”

Let’s compare that with Brian’s definition of PR 2.0:

PR 2.0 is the understanding and practice that communications is a two-way process and incorporates the tools, principles, strategies, and philosophies for reaching, engaging, guiding, influencing, and helping people directly in addition to the traditional cycle of PR influence.

Public relations has always been about building relationships. At one point, the press release was an effective way to reach target audiences. Then it moved to broadcast and print, both one-sided forms of communication. Now, the public has the tools to write the news and create the content.

The once silent masses now have a voice, and that voice is found on social networks, blogs, and forums. That voice is in the form of audio, video and text. That voice has the potential to spread ideas rapidly and more effectively than ever before. Instead of talking at an audience, public relations and marketing now have to engage and build a relationship with that voice and all its praise or critcism.

PR 2.0 is about listening, knowing your audience, what they talk about, how they communicate and meeting them on their court. It’s not about using Twitter cause company XYZ is, it’s about finding the best way to interact with and engage your audience and those talking about your brand. It’s about figuring out the best way to ignite those communities into rapid discussion about your brand. That’s the philosophy; the tools come secondary.

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[The above photo, “Thailand – Ayuthaya 5 – Buddha head” by mckaysavage on flickr, is used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under Best Practices, Community Relations, Future of Media, Marketing, New Media, Public Relations 2.0, Social Media