“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

“Video Sneak Peak of New WordPress ‘Crazyhorse’ at Wordcamp 2008”

socialTNT spent our Saturday at Wordcamp 2008 learning about all things social media and blogworthy. You’ll be seeing the results of what we saw in future posts. In the meantime, we did manage to video a demo of the new WordPress (aka Crazyhorse) given by Liz Danzico and Jane Wells.

WordPress designed Crazyhorse after they laser-tracked the eyes of bloggers as the interacted with the dashboards of their own blogs. Sounds hot, right? Wait till you see the video! (Apologies in advance for the shakiness!)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

To see full coverage of Wordcamp, check out ZDNet for Andrew Mager’s Liveblogged post of the event. Also, check out TechCrunch’s coverage of Matt’s State of the Word keynote.

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!

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Filed under Blogging, Future of Media, New Media, Recap, Video

“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!

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, “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

“Make New Friends, But Keep The Old”

The last year has been a very exciting and amazing time in my life. Before working at SHIFT, I sat at my desk as an Assistant Account Executive pouring over media lists. Every day was dark and the firm I was at made me feel like I didn’t understand PR. Any mention of Todd or SHIFT evoked claims that PR-Squared and the social media news release were just publicity stunts. I felt really dumb.

You know the scene in “Shawshank Redemption” when Andy plays Canzonetta sull’aria from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro? I would experience similar moments of freedom reading Todd’s blog; for me, each post shined courageous innovation and breathed new life into a stale industry. His posts allowed me to dream of working at an agency where creativity was praised and not stifled. When I got the call from a recruiter looking to place AE’s at SHIFT, I couldn’t believe they were actually hiring.

During my tenure, the senior staff at SHIFT has coached and prepared me to take a stronger leadership role. They also gave me the support I needed to gain confidence in myself, helping me understand who I am and what motivates me. SHIFT truly is a talent agency, and I’ll be forever grateful for the support and guidance I received there. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to develop and grow.

My whole life I have considered myself an artist and teacher. I work with text, photography, video and audio-and I love helping other people learn how to create. With PR, I also fell in love with strategy as an art form.

As many of you may know, last Friday was my last day at SHIFT. I can’t tell you what I’m working on yet, but the opportunity plays to all my strengths and motivations. While I will miss all the friends I have made at SHIFT, the new role is an opportunity to face new challenges and new experiences that I can only find at a global firm.

There are a lot of people I want to thank:

  • Dan, Jess, Jenn, Melissa and Virginia for being a great team full of support and understanding
  • Cathy Summers for teaching me how to motivate people. Always full of analogies, she’s the mom that can make every situation better. I’ve learned more about life from her than from anyone besides my own mom and grandmother
  • Mandy Mladenoff for teaching me what motivates me
  • Julie and Carter for pushing me to be edgier while also helping refine how I present my ideas
  • Marie, Margaret, Jany, Amanda, Becky, Bob, Chris and Matt for being my social media/blogging buds
  • Danielle, Rachel and Emily for being my Boston girls
  • All of my other friends at SHIFT who put up with my social media idealism and supported my craziness
  • And of course, my bromance, Todd Defren. I will continue to read Todd’s blog and can’t wait to see the exciting things SHIFT has coming down the pike [UPDATE: See Todd’s post on my departure here.}

Also, thanks to all the SHIFTers and socialTNT readers who have sent me well wishes, support, wall posts or blog posts this week. Can’t wait to share the next chapter with all of y’all. Just know you will be seeing a lot more posts on socialTNT with some pretty slammin new features. 😉

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, “Goodbyes Are Timeless” by *PaysImaginaire* on Flickr, used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under Personal

“Say No to No Comment: How to Answer Negative Blog Posts”

Someone wrote a scathing review of your company’s product on their blog–now what?

Well, you can either ignore it or you can respond. In traditional PR, you’d be shirking your duties if you didn’t follow-up with the reporter. Same goes with social media, except the world can see your response. Whether the post is positive or negative, you have to comment.

Here are a few tips to ensure you comment with success:

  • Take a deep breath!
    • Sometimes the excitement (or hate) can cloud a clear head. Remember, it’s the Internet and everything will be a part of your permanent record. Don’t write anything you wouldn’t want your mother/future boss/customer/client to read
  • Acknowledge and thank the blogger for their feedback/comments/insight/linklove
    • Remember, we are listening now. Whether you agree with it or not, they put effort into their post and their feedback can provide a snapshot of what your customers or other reporters/bloggers are thinking
  • You’re building a relationship, which means accountability and honest discussion.
    • Try to address the concerns and tell them what you are doing or plan on doing to fix any problems. If it was a positive piece, write something that can help build the discussion or add deeper insight into the topic
    • Cut the marketing speak and messaging. Read what the blogger is saying and respond as a human, not a PR-bot
  • Transparency and full disclosure
    • Let readers know you are with the company or represent the company. It’s about ethics.
  • DO NOT try to pad the comments with anonymous or fictitious posts
    • You may not see it when you read the post, but bloggers can see the IP address of every comment. Several comments from the same IP addy looks suspicious and a simple search can rat you out

Some stellar examples from comments in socialTNT’s past:

Kevin Cuneo’s reply to a potentially critical post in “You Are Doing Your Clients a Horrible Disservice”

Hi Chris,

Over here at Yoono we completely agree that Twitter is a great way to connect with our community. And we find Summize to be the best way to monitor Twitter. I love how it lets you know there’s more results since your last search. (I was also using it to track my replies when that feature went down on Twitter.)

We’re going a mile a minute over here so unfortunately there’s only so much time in the day to respond to negative comments and assist users via Twitter. However, we try to get to as many as we can and if they aren’t responded to, users can rest assured they were read and taken into account. Although we love good feedback, we think any feedback is worthwhile in helping us craft a superior product.

With that said I’m off to check in on Summize, looks like I have nine results up since my last search.

Great post, keep up the good work. And we’re all looking forward to Marie’s review!

Cheers,

Kevin Cuneo
Yoono Community Evangelist
kcuneo (at) yoono (dot) com
http://twitter.com/kcuneo

Kevin didn’t make excuses. He acknowledged the concerns and addressed the problem thoughtfully.

Reply to a positive post from “Dell Hell Freezes Over: A Great Example of Turning Lemons into Lemonade”

johnpatdell

Chris – As a member of Dell’s digital media team, I think you’ve done as fine a job as anyone to summarize how the company has worked to move on to a new chapter. It’s been a wild ride, but the journey has only just begun. Today, we view the integration of social media technologies as a natural evolution of our business and an exciting new dimension in which to deal directly with our customers.

In this comment, John acknowledged the statements in the post. He also adds to the post by telling the readers what Dell will be doing in the future.

Conclusion: Both John and Kevin effectively stated their company’s point of view without sounding arrogant. It’s a delicate balance. Just imagine you were having a discussion with your mom/girlfriend/boyfriend/brother or anyone else you love but sometimes have disagreements with.

How do you respond to negative comments? What tips or tricks can you share? Any examples of stellar commenting in action? Let us know in the comments

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, “Message Board” by Emmy_P on Flickr, used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under Community Manager, Community Relations, How To, It's A Conversation, 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