Tag Archives: Community Relations

“Breadcrumbs: Using Curiosity to Strategically Reach Audiences”

Last week, Robert Scoble declared Tech PR useless.  My response, a light-hearted post to shake off the negative energy, called for change within the PR industry.  Many of you emailed me asking about the future of PR and marketing, so today I wanted to share those thoughts.

Changing Landscape

The founders of our industry, in my opinion, did not intend us to be keepers of the keys and intermediaries, but actual creators and facilitators.  The original press release was not an announcement, but rather a creation of compelling content that editors wanted to print.  They looked for stories to tell and then pitched these to reporters.  And it worked, as long as the mainstream media was in control of the information.

Things have changed.  Today, the Mainstream Media is struggling and the walls are crumbling.  The rise of the Internet has moved content consumption online.  Also, thanks to social media, everyone has the ability to create content themselves.  Translation: The Internet is a REALLY REALLY noisy space.

Information Overload

Technologies like search and RSS feeds make information easily accessible–but they never seem to find *exactly* what you want.  Also, social networks and bookmarking sites have added the human element to finding content, but even that isn’t always enough.  With traditional media, reporters distilled the real world into articles.  Likewise, bloggers take information on the Internet and present what’s good.

With decentralized information filtering, how do we make a significant impact to reach our audience, whether they are bloggers, reporters or consumers?

Curiouser and Curiouser

If I understand Robert and the other Tech bloggers, they are finding information through community and curiosity. They listen to what others in their online peer network (whether Facebook, Friendfeeed, Twitter, RSS Feeds, etc.) are saying/sharing.  They also track and discover products and services the same way consumers do: word of mouth and surfing/searching.

What does this mean for PR and marketing practitioners?

  • The goal is to leave breadcrumbs your audience follows to find you as if by magic
  • To do this, we have to think like our audiences
  • Instead of asking “What do we want our customers to think?”, we have to ask “What are our customers interested in? How can we reach them?” and “What can we teach them?”
  • We no longer create stories, we look for conversation
  • We execute strategy to reach audiences where they share ideas
  • We engage in industry wide discussions with our clients as the moderator

We Are The Music Makers, We Are the Dreamers of the Dream

Instead of just producing viral videos, widgets, blog posts and (gasp) press releases, let’s create content people will want to consume.  Let’s build rabbit holes of discussion that our curious audiences can crawl into.

The ultimate goal: Be known for facilitating stimulating conversation around topics related to our clients/services by creating content our audiences will be interested in.

How do you see the future of PR? How do you inspire curiosity and conversation to energize communities and build awareness?

[This post inspired by a conversation with Tim Dyson, CEO of Next15 (the holding company that owns my firm, Text100) and numerous conversations with Todd Defren and Brian Solis]

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[The above photo, “Down the Rabbit Hole” by valkyrieh116 on Flickr, used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under Future of Media, It's A Conversation, New Media, Public Relations 2.0, Social Media

“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

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[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

“Yahoo’s Jerry Yang Doesn’t Understand Blogging”

Jerry YangThis weekend, all eyes turned to the blogosphere to watch as the Microhoo deal fell through. Jerry Yang, CEO of Yahoo, also turned to blogging to plead his case. Sadly, the blog became a PR mechanism and one-sided message delivery system. Take a look at a few quotes:

“Our first quarter was probably one of the most exciting quarters in our history in terms of delivering innovative products and services that really move the needle and make a difference for our users and customers: Acquiring Maven Networks. Launching Buzz, OneSearch 2.0, voice-activated mobile search, video on Flickr, Shine….”

“So, what’s next? With Microsoft’s withdrawal, we’ll be better able to focus our energy on growing our industry leadership and maximizing value for stockholders. We’ll continue to execute on our plan — making your Internet experience as personal, relevant, open and social as possible, serving advertisers so well they insist on working with us, and opening up Yahoo! in a way that developers dream of.”

It’s a great letter to shareholders–or a press release–but it’s not a blog post. As we’ve mentioned before, a blog is a conversation. If Jerry wants to use it to put out company messages, that’s fine, but what’s the point. He’s losing a chance to re-energize the Yahoo user base.

Take a look at sampling of some of the comments:

A user named Jive sums it up best: “Above all, listen to us, your consumer, because we use your products and have specific wants, habits, usage etc.”

Wanna make it back on top, Jerry? Here are some suggestions:

  • First off, read and respond to some of the comments on this post. There are a lot of people with great ideas. You also need to think about the harsh criticism and respond thoughtfully.
  • Ask questions and listen.
  • Set up an Ideastorm type forum for people to leave suggestions and then close the feedback loop. Let users know they are being listened to and that their ideas are gaining traction. You want people to know that Yahoo! has changed? Show them by letting them get involved in product development.
  • Set up a community manager and go address the concerns in the blogosphere head on. Let them know that Yahoo wants to embrace the Internet again. Stop thinking 1.0 and start embracing your users and their voices.

Jerry, I love Yahoo. You guys have so many great properties, but they are all disconnected. If you read the comments on your post, you’ll see many users feel the same way. You’ll also see that most of them still love Yahoo. Give them something to get excited about. Your users make or break the company. If you listen to them–and interact with them–they will welcome you back with open arms. I guarantee it.

What do you think? Did Jerry’s post legitimately address user concerns? What do you think Yahoo should do to reengage its user base?

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Filed under Community Manager, It's A Conversation, Public Relations 2.0, Social Media

“3sday’s 3Q’s in 3Min: Paull Young, Young PR Blog”

Like the cold front that rolls in during late Spring, today’s “3sdays 3Q’s in 3Min” is so cool, it’ll make you put your hoodie back on.

Every Thursday, socialTNT channels the spirit of citizen journalism by putting bloggers, reporters, PR pro’s or anyone with something to say about social media in front of the camera for a short, three minute interview. In addition to helping PR peeps pitch these individuals more effectively, the videos are meant to encourage dialog between reporters, PR/communications practitioners and marketers on the future of media.

While at interactive marketing and advertising conference ad:tech, socialTNT had the chance to catch up with fellow PR blogger Paull Young. We’ve enjoyed Paull’s blog, the Young PR Blog, for quite some time and couldn’t wait to hear what he had to say. In today’s interview, Paull gives some advice to graduating communications students entering the workforce, and offers some tips to social media pr and marketers on how best to listen to your audiences.

Paull started off his career doing traditional PR at a Sports PR firm. In December of 2005, Paull started blogging his experiences as a freshly graduated PR professional. Less than a year later, Paull shot to celebrity status in the blogosphere by launching an “Anti-Astroturfing” campaign with Trevor Cook in July 2006. In March 2007, Paull left the big island of Australia for the Big Apple to join Constantin Basturea at social media communications firm Converseon.

As Paull’s career has evolved, so has his blog. No longer just a chronicle of his progression up the PR ranks, it now includes tons of tips, tricks, strategy and case studies. Check out this great post on using Twitter to form a conversation.

Fun Facts About Paull:

Watch as Paull explains the differences he’s encountered moving from traditional PR to strictly social media, gives advice to new PR pros entering the workplace, and shares a secret about listening to your audience.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

How do you track the conversation around your clients? What advice can you give students graduating in May?

If you haven’t done so, please join PROpenMic, Robert French’s social network for communications students. They’d love to hear your insight

No time to watch the video at work? Get “3Q’s in 3Min” free from iTunes and watch it on the go!

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Filed under 3sdays 3qs In 3 Min, Citizen Reporter, New Media, Public Relations 2.0, Social Media, Video Interview

“May I Have The Embed Code, Please? Evaluating the Oscars Social Media Strategy”

Can’t get enough Oscar? Neither can we. But, unlike other blogs, we aren’t gonna recap the show or even discuss the stars’ outfits. Stepping out in true geek fashion, today socialTNT looks at the Academy’s social media strategies and offers up tips on how Oscar can stay young.

Best CyberScreen Adaptation

  • Oscar makes his CyberScreen debut in style with his own YouTube channel. We have to admit, we were really impressed! The videos, numbering 69 at time of writing, cover the full gambit of what we have come to expect with video campaigns. The channel includes favorite acceptance speeches and greatest moments in Oscar history.
  • We’re suckers for behind-the-scenes videos, which is probably why our favorites were short video interviews with past winners discussing topics like: What it’s like to be nominated, the voting process, what it’s like to win and how to produce an Oscar montage. Aspiring Future Winners: Avoid the embarrassment of being drowned out by the orchestra, and check out this video on how to prepare an acceptance speech
  • Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ President Sid Ganis did have some videos for a video blog. Check out the last entry chronicling final preparations before the big night.
  • We were a little confused by other cool features like the “Thank You Cam” and Antonio Sabato’s overly produced “Road to The Oscars” journal. They are hosted on the Oscars page, but not found on the YouTube channel. This schizophrenic offshoot requires that you watch a video ad before the clip and it’s not sharable or embeddable. What?!
  • How to make it better? Give nominees webcams and let them video blog the full experience, from nomination to post-awards. Sadly, not everyone can be nominated for the movie world’s top prize, so this could provide a more unfiltered look at the drama and excitement that is the Oscars.
  • Following in the footsteps of the Crunchies, maybe the Oscars could have 10-second video responses filmed by each of the nominees.
  • You know all the technical awards? Well, there are tons of aspiring young make-up artists, sound editors, and costume designers who would love to see behind-the-scenes of the award nominees in action. Those vignettes are shown during the awards presentation, so why not make the full videos available online!

Best Original BlogPlay

  • Yup, the Academy had an official live blogger, Joel Stein.
  • Now, we’re not knocking Joel, but maybe the Academy could have also invited a couple of bloggers from big entertainment or movie blogs to officially live-blog the show from the Kodak theater. Yes, they are probably going to blog it from home, but an official invite is a powerful gesture that could leverage preexisting reader communities’ excitement about the show.
  • Nominees are busy busy, but they could still Twitter 🙂 The academy could also aggregate all discussion on Twitter regarding the academy awards and post it on the home page.
  • What if iJustine could videocast backstage?! HOT!

Best Application in a Social Network

  • You may not have known this, but the Academy has a Facebook widget. According to the Oscar site, the widget has a countdown feature, trivia game, and plays the ad-sponsored videos not found on YouTube.
  • Sadly, Oscar’s widget only has around 1,000 users, with only 32% of them active. This could be due to the oh-so-uninspiring description on the app’s page: “Follow the latest buzz about this year’s Academy Awards! Add the OSCAR Widget today. Click the blue “Add to Page” button in the right column!” *yawn* Also, it looks like it may have just been launched a few weeks ago.
  • Application adoption is really hard to break in to. Some suggestions for Oscar: let users earn points to send virtual gifts, or allow them to create mash-up montages of the nominees or past shows. Also, people love movie-compatibility quizzes.

Next Year’s Nominees?

  • The Academy should try to utilize preexisting communities like Facebook groups to build buzz.
  • Flickr photo stream to compile all the photos tagged with Academy Awards. Also, make the photos already on the site embeddable.
  • Wikis on all the Lifetime Achievement folks we might not know.
  • Tribute pages for the dead Academy members.

All in all, socialTNT was really satisfied with the Academy’s social media efforts. The Academy should be fully applauded for their YouTube efforts. In terms of strategy, our only suggestion would be to start the seeding process a couple weeks–if not months–out. The first videos to be posted were from 5 days before the event. That’s not really enough time to “go viral.”

As Hollywood starts to see online video as a valid and viable revenue stream, and as TV viewership drops, the Oscars will inevitably be faced with doing more CyberScreen adaptation. How did you think the Academy fared? Was there anything you thought could have been added that wasn’t? Tell us in the comments!

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[The above photo, “Oscar” by Alan Light, is used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under Best Practices, Future of Media, Marketing, New Media, Recap, Social Media, Video, Viral video

“Let’s Get Physical: 10 Lessons Abt Social Media I Learned at the Gym”

“getting-huge.jpg” by ericmcgregor on flickrA little secret about me: I’ve been involved with sports since I was a kid. I can give a rocking sports massage or plan a kick-a workout. At one point in my life, I’d even studied to become a Physical Trainer. Today, I’m here to pump you up with ten lessons about social media I learned at the gym.

  • When first starting out, get to know the gym, the exercises and proper use of the equipment.
    • Same goes for a social media campaign. Check out your surroundings. Listen to the community and see how they interact before diving in. It also doesn’t hurt if you know the tools inside and out.
  • Flexibility can prevent injuries.
    • Communities are built from people. People don’t always react how we want them to. Go with the flow. If you are flexible to their needs, listen and respond to their comments accordingly, then you can prevent a PR disaster.
  • Have patience. Quality results require a long term commitment.
    • Rarely do you see results in a short period of time. Lasting relationships are built with time and interaction.
  • Eat healthy. You have to feed your body to grow muscles.
    • Same goes with a blog: consume relevant media content to help develop your ideas and grow your community.
  • Healthy living requires a complete lifestyle change. If you want lasting results, you have to let go of old habits.
    • Social media isn’t just about looking pretty, it’s about opening up. You have to let go of corporate messaging and the tired notion of brand. It may be scary at first, but I guarantee once you get the hang of it, it will feel great!
  • When in doubt, get a trainer.
    • Sometimes we need someone to give us that extra push to help get us in shape. A community manager can help shape community relations.
  • A workout partner or a team can keep you motivated and increase results.
    • If your company has a hard time maintaining the corporate blog, bring some more writers on board. This will make it easier to keep producing content.
  • Different bodies need different routines.
    • Not all workouts and diets work on every body. Same can be said about social media strategy. Play around until you find a plan that works with your marketing objectives and fits your community’s needs.
  • Don’t wait too long between exercises.
    • In order to keep that target heart rate, you have to keep moving. If you slack on a blog, your readership will drop.
  • Make it fun!
    • It doesn’t have to always be serious. Fun posts make it enjoyable for the reader and easier for the blogger. 😉

Happy Friday, Everybody! Thanks for your continued support!

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[The above photo, “getting-huge.jpg” by ericmcgregor on flickr, used under Creative Commons license.]

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Recommended Reading:

“It’s a Conversation, Stupid! Part 1″

“How Media Relations Got Its Groove Back”

“3sday’s 3Q’s in 3 Min: Mario Sundar, LinkedIn”

“I’m a Binge and Purge Blogger, What About You?”

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Filed under Best Practices, Community Manager, Community Relations, How To, It's A Conversation, Just For Fun, Marketing, Social Media

“MacBook Error: Six Tips To Apple On Social Media Marketing”

It’s MacWorld fever in San Francisco. I think their new Macbook, the MacBook Air, is beautiful, but everytime I hear the new name, I hear MacBook “Error.” Today I want to address the biggest MacBook Error: the thinness of their conversation in the social media realm.

Yes, I know they are on top of the world, but there are voices from the blogosphere that point to cracks in the MacBrand base; early adopters and super fans feel left out. As Apple becomes more of a consumer brand, more mainstream users will purchase Macs. This means more complaints, stretching the ardent fans–and customer service–thin; no longer will every negative Apple post be bombarded with super users flaming the blogger. To address this, Apple will need to stop pushing products and messages at its community. Instead, they will need to become more engaged with their community.

Steve, are you listening? Here are some of my top tips for Apple on refreshing their Social Media efforts to revive the Fan Base:

  • Stop trying to silence your superfans!
  • Beautiful Ads and Demos, set them free!
    • Sharing is Caring. Let the videos into the wild by allowing them to be embedded into other sites and shared. Just by sending a link back to the page is tres 1.0. Do this with Steve’s keynote, too.
  • MacBook Air: Behind the Scenes
    • For movie buffs, the “Extra Features” on a DVD are one more reason to buy. Same goes for tech geeks. Show us the behind the scenes of the MacBook Air. Intimate video chats with the Hardware Design team. Live podcasts (with call-in) featuring the User Experience team.
    • Too hardcore? Ok, open up developers’ blogs!
  • Like a shepherd herding the flock…
    • A Community Manager could address the worries early adopters are having re the MacBook Air. They can also hit up the Green bloggers upset about Apple’s lack of true environmental concern, or just common users P.O.-ed about Leopard’s constant crashes. Go and address those posts head on. Cut the messaging and speak to them like people.
  • Open up a dialog
    • Apple currently has a web-based form for feedback, but it feels like you are sending it out into a void. Make it a community, like Dell, where users can submit suggestions/concerns and then vote on the ideas. Yes, there is a forum, but it relies heavily on super fans…and forums are SOOOOO 1.0.
    • Customers also need to know that they are taken seriously. Close the feedback loop. Let them know the status of their suggestions.
  • I’m Streaming of a Live MacWorld
    • Ok, it may be a little far fetched, but I want a cam to be following someone through the MacWorld experience, like a fly on the wall. Bonus points if that fly is STEVE JOBS!

I love all my Apple products, but I’ve been a little upset since upgrading Leopard. No longer can I play music on Front Row through my Airport Express. I filled out a comment form and have not received any sort of follow-up. I’ve dropped so much money on my desktop, laptop, keyboard, Airport, Airport Express, and I deserve some sort of acknowledgment.

What do you think? Is Apple heading towards Dell Hell or are they on the right track? What suggestions would you give Apple on reinvigorating their fan base?

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Filed under Best Practices, How To, It's A Conversation, Marketing, New Media, Rants, Sharing is Caring, Social Media, Video