Social Media Five Reporter Tips same as Traditional

The folks over at PR News do a great job of mini Q&A sessions with keynotes as part of their promotion for seminars. It’s a great PR tactic in and of itself. In their latest post Comcast PR Veteran Walter Neary was interviewed. He mentioned how he hopes one day using social media to reach reporters and bloggers stops being “special”. I agree. If you want to reach the news you need to know where the news people are. More and more tweet, blog or host FB posts. Some base their tool on company requirements, some base their tool on personal preference. Either way, no different reaching out to media on their platforms than if you called, emailed, or met them at the grocery story or local event. All that has changed is the channel of communication. What hasn’t changed is some basic elements:

  1. Know the reporter/editor’s beat (topics covered)
  2. Understand their style-each will tell their story their way, not yours
  3. Provide facts and resources to back those facts up
  4. Respect their deadlines–just because social media as well as media is 24/7/365 doesn’t mean there aren’t deadlines
  5. Build a relationship-sending media releases blindly and never communicating not likely to get you covered. Especially in the social media realm.

We cannot afford to keep blinders on about the race to reach media. If you aren’t on social media, you’d better catch up. If you don’t know how to talk to any media, social or otherwise, you’d better catch up. Or you won’t know what hit you when the Google glasses arrive.

 

What to know before you pitch a blogger

Bloggers are media. They have more and more influence and reach than ever. You can be a blogger and follow blogs. Dip your toe in the blog water and just join a blogging group. You can participate on several blogging groups such as Blogher, DivineCaroline, Betterfly. Follow those bloggers who match your interests, business type, etc. Then you can get a feel for connecting to them. When you want to pitch them, make sure you do your homework. Just like with traditional media sources you’ll want to know

  • the blogger’s audience-who reads them
  • their reach-where else besides their blog can you find them: books, media outlets, social media
  • their look and style. The Blaspheming Bitch is delicious, but may not be for your business audience
  • what their criteria is for working with them. The best interchange I’ve seen is from TheBloggess. She was pitched to cover a celebrity. She doesn’t do celebrity endorsements. She gets so many of them that she has a standard, if snarky, reply. Great advice. Someone took offense to receiving the Will Wheaton collating paper photo. She wrote a blog on the worst PR pitch that got the PR firm fired for the way it was unprofessionally handled. Just a warning, she swears. A lot. So do I, just not usually on my blog.
  • Just as with regular media, don’t try to get the bloggers to be your personal salesman or pitch woman. They don’t do that.

How to get $25,000 in free advertising or at least win a contest

Enter a contest to win $25,000. That’s what the local Reno Veterans’ Guest House did. And they asked the community to help. The Home Depot Foundation apparently runs a contest once a month and gives back to the winning charity $25k in gift cards. The votes come through Facebook and Twitter (links to the FB page). In order to vote you have to “Like” the Home Depot Foundation. A great way for HDF to capture followers.

But here’s why it worked for REno Veterans Guest House. They clearly had a plan. They utilized skills from some local public relations pros. Staff and publicists for Veterans Guest House posted on Facebook seeking vote.s They provided simple instructions in a post. They shared samples stories like starting because a vet’s wife and kids slept in their car while the vet was in hospital cause they couldn’t afford hotel fees. And they properly tagged links to the Home Dept Foundation page; links and comments on their friends pages, groups.Lesson-take advantage of your relationships and post in appropriate group discussions.

They also sent instructions via LinkedIn. They emailed a letter to every person on their personal lists and asked people to forward. I did. My audiences are not the same on FB and LinkedIn-some overlap. But different people use different tools. So their plan covered their bases.

They also pitched local media. So a news station covered the contest, as did a radio station.More than once. The newspaper printed the contest. And that’s just the media I was paying attention to.

And the contest started to get close. Several PR pros took up the challenge-many of us have reasons to love vets. I posted daily on my personal Facebook page, on my business page and on many groups I’m associated with. I tweeted the contest–Congressman Amodei even retweeted my post. We hardly see eye to eye on any political spectrum, but we do for vets. I gave extra credit in my public relations class assignment-and some students took me up on it. Can’t tell you how many friends appreciated my daily reminders on Facebook! The voting went back and forth. If I heard correctly, it’s the first time the contest has ever seen that kind of action. The other program was based in Atlanta-Home Depot’s hometown with close to 12 times the population of Reno Nevada. But it just took a few groups to dedicate themselves to the project-and a lot of social media.

If the Veterans Guest House had tried to buy the coverage of their services across all those platforms it would have easily cost $25000. I don’t recommend measuring with Advertising Value Equivalent, but clearly this program demonstrated to non-profits and small businesses unique ways to LEVERAGE a contest to build awareness, supporters and increase capacity.They carried the news story further with the win; getting back on the radio and television and further telling the story. Posting the news on their website.

The Veterans Guest House is now trying to capture who did what for them. My only criticism in their plan was the direct link to Home Depot rather than driving traffic to “Like” the Veterans Guest House page and find the link there. But hey, they are working towards connecting with their supporters. And maybe they thought of that and were concerned about barriers for participation. Won’t try to second guess them.

And now they’re in a contest for $250,000. Look for the social media posts on how to vote for them throughout March!

Four tips to maximize email to clients or donors

One of the best tips I’ve seen for fundraising and timing of emails for small business comes from Convio, a constituent engagement company for non-profits and advocacy groups. They recommend in a recent email some key tips both non-profits and small business owners can use.

The first recommendation is to send emails out in the evening so that they arrive first thing in the morning in the “inbox”. Middle of the day the reader is likely to put off for another few days. As you probably guess many of us open our emails first thing in the morning.

Second is plan your strategy. Your content should match and a theme of information should be consistent in your communications, from emails to blogs, from website updates to social media.

Third is to understand the calendar and “hook” accordingly. For example. lots of non-profits make a final, year-end pitch as people consider their tax write-offs. But they wait till the last day of the year. That fell on Saturday for 2011; hopefully most of you pushed for the final letter (and social media and email, etc) to drop on the last Monday of the year to give people time to give. The same attention should be paid for businesses. January is resolution month, if you’re in the fitness or healing arts you should be sending info and deals out. February can be presidential or romance or Black History, if any of that resonates with your business and clients, start planning Now.

The fourth tip refers to who you send to–we call it “working your list”. In your list of donors, activists or clients you have people that consistently support your non-profit or small business. Certainly you need to interact with them–treat them as the VIPs they are=make them an offer, send thanks, but let them know they are appreciated. But don’t forget the “maybes”. It’s time to start connecting to the people who you haven’t really. Send a survey or better still call them individually and inquire what they like about the company, why they signed up on an email, what can you offer that they aren’t seeing. Connect. And keep connecting.

Hoping your New Year is prosperous and that your public relations are planned, implemented and measured.

Emoticons Don’t Fix Tone in Email

A generational business gap exists in the professional communication realm, especially when sending internal emails. The gap relates to the use of emoticons-the use of a Colon Hyphen Right Parenthesis to make a “smiley face”. 🙂  From a purely professional perspective, we shouldn’t use them. They aren’t professional. To be honest, I DO use them, depending on who I’m “talking” to in email. We have become a society that relies on virtually instant written communication, but as a species we aren’t designed to communicate only in words on a screen. We miss tone, inflection, and intent when we can’t read body language or look someone in the eye. And those of us in the right brained world, the social bees, tend to compensate by providing a symbolic version. My preference is the *-). To me that’s a wink, just meant as a friendly sign off on a comment. My emails don’t proliferate with them and certainly not in a request for a meeting or an email discourse on starting the problem solving process. (Because you know if it takes more than 3 emails to solve a question, it’s time to have a meeting or at least get on the phone if colleagues work in different towns, states, countries).

What brought this up is a twitter conversation with a former student now in the professional world. She actually indicated that she’s seen the use of an emoticon placed next to a demanding directive from a supervisor–not at her current place of employment. And she thought that was normal. It’s not. If you are sharing a funny story with a colleague in building rapport with them especially if you live/work in different communities, then an emoticon, while still not professional, can be used. I’m not trying to be an emoticon dictator. But really if you are exchanging information-especially in a formal request to ask employees to do something or to share a report or other professional emails likely to be archived as professional documents, then leave the emoticons off.

Professionals use them. I follow a sales and marketing guru who clearly loves people and relationships. And occasionally she’ll send her version of the smiley face with her e-news in the section where she posts a personal note. This is her style. doesn’t bother me; but I can see how this style would be off putting for someone else.

My advice to my student is to watch the use of emoticons when communicating with colleagues and supervisors at work. Know exactly when it is appropriate-and ideally avoid it. Save them for your text messages or tweets to your friends.

Three social media failures: selling or boring the wrong audience

If your social media marketing efforts aren’t working, before you throw up your hands and decide it’s social media that’s not worth your effor,t make sure you aren’t contributing to the problem of why your social media isn’t working.

Wrong audience: if you’re on LinkedIn but your audience is on YouTube, you have a problem. LinkedIn likely great for business to business solutions; YouTube a variety of audiences with a keen interest in visual information. Figure out what platforms your audience is on and go there. Make sure you make it easy for them to get there from your website.

You’re boring.  Social media requires personality and your business needs to reflect yours. If you don’t know what that is, get help but be really clear when outsourcing so the tone and comments reflect who you are.  That means you don’t get to delegate to your niece just because she knows how to start a Facebook page and went to college. You can’t leave the same content for weeks on end–if you commit to the platform, commit with currency. Show your fun side, and have fun.

You’re just selling. No one wants to be sold, so ease up on the deals. People do business with people they like; tell them stuff don’t just sell them stuff. Allow for two way conversation, engage them. It’s called social for a reason–you don’t go to a party or networking event and start selling (or if you do, you aren’t successful at it).

Not sure how to do this well? We can help.

 

Connecting conference attendees with Twitter

When you host a conference (or attend one) be sure to share a Twitter Hashtag with attendees, so they know where to keep the dialogue going and someone else doesn’t start one for you. Clueless? Let me explain.

Twitter is mini blogs using 140 characters (letters and spacing). Not 140 words. Characters. When you “post” it’s called a tweet. As a business person, it’s imperative to check in for news sources, politicians, business leaders or even your kids.  Even the President is tweeting. Brevity or abbreviations rule this form of social media. One aspect is use of a hashtag- #. When you preface info with a real hashtag it creates a place for everyone to have a sidebar conversation, an ideal way to connect people at a conference and clue in to what’s working–or not. What speakers are generating conversation or boredom? What thought provoking conversation is out there?Note that some people use the hashtag to indicate irony or sarcasim and it’ll be something like #don’tseewhytheybother. That won’t really be a conversation, unless one or two people share that, but it won’t go into depth and is a waste of time to follow. You’ll catch on to real vs smarty pants quickly.

A terrific use is to send out info to the conference attendees and provide the hashtag in advance. One great example was the President’s first twitter session #AskObama. If you type that in to the search section of twitter, the entire conversation comes up. You can see the random questions, legitimate questions and some ploys for business exposure or derogatory comments.

The eWomenNetwork are using #eWN2011. You include this hashtag and ID as part of your 140 character Tweets and everyone sees the conversation. For the savvy business person, getting in on this conversation early helps you connect to others quickly and find interesting people to “follow”. AND it’s great for people who can’t actually attend the conference to check in to see what they are missing.

We’re heading to Dallas next week. Look for our tweets @algaulden and see what the #eWN2011 conversation is all about.