A No Bull Method to Self-Promotion

This guy get’s it! So thank you Headphonaught

From the hilarious, articulate and self-proclaimed harnesser of ADOS (attention Deficit Ooh Shiny) Peter Shankman, came this simple and perceptive quote, “When self-promotion is done right, it’s not self-promotion.” You might read this and think, huh? However, Peter knows what he is talking about and he made that very clear with his closing Keynote speech at the 2010 Portland Communicators Conference. It takes talent to capture an audience that just sat through 6 hours of breakout informational sessions and presentations.

His point being, if you are a genuine, transparent and relevant person, others will do your self-promo for you. Shankman truly believes, and I have a feeling he is on to something, that the simple action of helping others without having an agenda will inadvertently save the world: helping is beneficial by default.

Shankman outlined four quick rules on how to he does self-promo

Transparency:When you screw up, admit it and move on.

Relevance: Find out how your audience likes to get their info by asking them.

Brevity: Know your audience and speak to them in a language they relate to, oh yeah and learn how to write!

Top-of-mind presence: Don’t just be recalled be remembered. Have your own brand name recognition.

Self promo is being, simply, “That Girl or Guy” who can get you out of a jam.

Who is that guy/girl?

– The one whose emails you read.

– The one who never wastes your time.

– Te one who always has the answer.

– The one you never hesitate to recommend because she or he is the one who makes you look good.

His method is simple and should be common sense, but obviously, that is not true. If it were, Shankman wouldn’t be paid the big bucks to give this presentation all over the country. A great way to start your transition into “that girl/guy” is to find a piece of “finders candy” and send it to people you know would appreciate the gesture. People don’t want to hear about YOU, instead give them a little nugget that they would enjoy or gain value from.

If you gain nothing else from this, remember that everything you do should be a networking event, so find out what thy need and ask, “how can I help?”

I will leave you with my little nugget of finders candy and hope you gain or at least have a laugh! Oh yeah, and thank you for reading my post and have a wonderful day!

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Social Media Faux Pas

The other morning I decided to open up my splendid, shinny little box of instant goodness; otherwise known as TweetDeck. I was absent for weeks and was in need of some major catch up. It happened to be a perfect day for me to jump back in, and I will explain why.

The situation breakdown: I was reading the days tweets when one snagged my attention. The Tweet read @lulugrimm Great way to ensure I’ll never use your product… Pimping your company in a comment on my blog. Wow. I shot @Lulugrimm, Lisa Grimm, a tweet stating that I thought her phrase “Pimping your company” was awesome and her statement was indeed shocking; that people still don’t know how to engage. We continued to tweet back and forth for a while.  After our conversation, I felt somewhat obligated to write a blog post about the faux pas of social media engagement. Because apparently people are still uncertain of what is and what isn’t appropriate.

When, if ever, is appropriate to “pimp your company” on someone’s blog? Umm…NEVER!  Social media revolutionized this old school tactic, well ok it basically tossed it to the curb. Pushing your company on people, no matter how awesome it may be, no longer flies. This is especially true when the product does not relate to the topic of discussion.

If you are still unsure of how to get your message out to the world through social media here are a few suggestions to preventing you from making a social media faux pas. For a more in-depth description of online etiquette and social media interaction, check out my other posts about creating online communities and Developing Social Media Plans.

My suggestions:

  • If you want to reach key influentials and introduce them to your company, product, or message get involved with what they are talking about. Interact with them via social media, learn their interests and find what you have in common with them.
  • Don’t comment on a blog just to say great advice or nice post. Comment because you can add to the conversation, or explain how you gained value from the post. Oh yeah, and DON”T “pimp your company.”
  • Connect with your key influencers, audience on twitter as well as through blogs and other social media sites. Twitter can quickly reveal a person’s interests and areas in which you can relate and help build a relationship.

These are just a few recommendations for those who are still a little unsure about how to interact on social media. It’s all about relationships and sharing information, if you engage and interact there will be a time and a place to spread the word about your amazing product or organization: the time will come my friend, the time will come.

Also, please feel free to add to this list of suggestions I was just going through some basics but I know there are more out there.

Social Media Transparency

I have been absent for a few months now I know! Senior year has been busy, busy, busy. I just wanted to let you know that I have a guest post on the student run public relations agency blog, Allen Hall Public Relations. It is called Transparency is not the Exception, it’s the Rule. It is a follow-up to my previous transparency post to re-iterate the importance of being up-front and honest when using social media as a communication tactic.

I will be more present in the coming weeks, I promise.

Why Twitter Should Stick Around

twitter-hashcloudsOn August 19th I participated in a TweetChat with around 200 public relations professionals and fellow PR students. We tweeted back and forth over 900 times to #PRstudchat responding to six PR related questions. The moderator was Deirdre Breakenridge, or in this case @dbreakenridge, she is a PRo in the 2.0 realm, check her out! Another major contributor was Valerie Simon, @valeriesimon. Valerie is writing a six part blog series on the event revealing the best answers to the six questions …..

This was my very first TweetChat, so I didn’t quite know what to expect. Overall, it was very informative and a new way of getting useful information quickly. One of the most useful aspects about the chat was the automatic links to material. Social media is allowing students to connect with some of the smartest, most influential professionals and have direct access to their knowledge. I think that this will revolutionize the way students respond and discuss in classrooms. In my Strategic Social Media class that I took with Kelli Matthews we frequently had “quest speakers.” I put quotes around that because the majority of the guests spoke to us over Skype; when we had Skype issues we would type questions into twitter so the speaker could still respond to our questions. We had the pleasure of speaking with Marcel Lebrun from Radian6, Kami Huyse from My PR Pro, and Paull Young of Converseon. Twitter allows pros, students and anyone interested to connect with millions of different people, gather them together to have an hour long discussion or debate, and talk about passions and professions all in 140 characters what’s not to love? I know there are Twitter haters out there but I am not one of them if you use it like I do, which is not to update you on when I am in the bathroom or grabbing a latte then it is awesome! Check out the next #PRstudchat on Sept. 16 at 12pm EST and 9am PST I suggest you all join in you can also join the linkedin group.

Q1: What kind of education does a PR person need to be successful?

The overwhelming response was to take business classes as well as a diverse range of courses like Psychology, sociology; have excellent communication skills; and get some real world experience.

Best responses are listed on Public Relations Examiner but I want to pull my favorites:

@Chrisjoneslehi: Understanding business is necessary, but PR is about transmission, not just understanding. Transmission=writing these days.

@sallyfalkow: A thorough understanding of communication and how people relate to each other.

(This is me)@Marlin23: I would say internships and mentors. In school you learn how to do things, internships teach you how things get done.

Q2: What are the best PR books and industry publications to read?

@RickOpp: PR 2.0, Putting the Public Back in Public Relations, @ChrisBrogan’s new book “Trust Agents” getting a lot of good buzz.

@hdueitt: Staying up to date with all industry news is key to keeping up with trends. PR Daily, PR News, PR Week, Bulldog Reporter

@samemac: @TDefren ‘s blog PR Squared for SHIFT comm is one of the better blogs to read as an upcoming PR pro

@jodyrae: Bad Pitch Blog

Q3:Are there any other great networking sites besides Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook?

Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are great… but not the only places to network and engage with PR professionals

@BrettPohlman: Hands down PROpenMic.org. All PR students MUST be on this site. It’s a great way to get exposure to top PR Execs

@LadyMusic: PROpenMic on Ning, YoungPRPros on Yahoo, and look for social media networking events on Eventbrite or Going.com

Q4: What does a CEO look for in a PR hire?

@5W_PR: Passion, Confidence, Versatility, People Who Take Initiative to Learn & Develop

@rachelakay: I look for someone who has a passion for my clients, my company and who has done research. Do your homework!

@CTMichaels: Also, be prepared 2 start at the bottom. Showing motivation to move up & taking chances is huge in PR

@chrisjoneslehi:  This CEO looks for breadth of experience, service, and (you might have guessed) strong writing skills

@rachelakay: Highly recommend new hires connect with CEOs etc. on social networks and read their blogs and comment. I give priority to those

Nonprofits and social media, do they mix?

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I recently asked the CEO of a community foundation if  her organization used social media, and if so how. She replied, “Well, we have a blog.” Granted, the blog was one of the first breakthroughs that let citizen journalists create their own content, but if blogs are the only channel your organization thinks about for social media, think again.

In my previous blog posts, I talk about Twitter, building online communities, developing a social media plan, and how to measure social media initiatives. These strategies apply to all companies, including nonprofits.

As the nonprofit sector becomes increasingly complex and money grows tighter, it’s more important now than ever to brand your organization, programs and campaigns. This requires conveying credibility and value in a way that’s easy to remember and repeat. In doing this, your organization can build long-lasting relationships with donors, volunteers, community members and the media.

Beth Dunn writes about the pressure that nonprofits may be feeling amid the social networking phenomenon:

“Nonprofits all around us are making decisions right now about how to engage in social networks, and many of us in the field have to fight a desperate feeling of running hard just to keep up – the overwhelming conviction that everybody else is winning friends, donors, hearts and minds through the savvy use of social networking sites, and that we are missing out.”

Nancy Shwartz outlines how to brand a nonprofit organization through social media:   

1.   What a nonprofit brand is not:

  • A nonprofit brand is not what your organization stands for in the mind of your network.
  • A nonprofit brand is not your organization’s self-image, mission or logo.

2. What’s a nonprofit brand?

The intersection of…

  • What’s unique about the way your organization does its work and its impact.
  • The interests and needs of your network.

The brand that represents your organization must be authentic, or you run the risk of undermining everything your organization is trying to accomplish. Most people can sense when an organization is being fake and lacking transparency.

3. Branding is…

  • The art of creating a consistent, recognizable and clearly unified voice or personality that conveys your organization’s focus, credibility and unique contributions.

This is important when engaging with audiences, because it allows them to put a “face” to the organization. It helps build trust and promotes long-lasting relationships.

4. Why branding matters:

  • More and more nonprofits are looking to secure contributions, volunteers, board members, clients and customers.
  • The shortage in resources creates a heated competition.

If your organization doesn’t participate in the conversation through social media channels, competitors and people who are against your organization can fill that space with the wrong information. If your organization is present and engaged, people can ask questions and receive valid information.

5. How branding works:

A strong brand makes a substantial difference in developing and maintaining strong relationships with a network.

  • Strengthen or design your brand to ensure you stand out.
  •  Generate action and build loyalty with your audience.
  • Be consistent with your brand to build recognition and avoid confusion.

Now that you have an understanding of how to brand your organization online, it is imperative that you go out and find the tools to effectively market your organization. In some of my earlier posts you can read about how to create a community online, how to measure effectiveness, and how to develop a plan, and find links to other helpful sites. 

Social media is a good idea for any organization as long as it is committed to listening, learning and adapting while remaining transparent and authentic. Also, don’t be afraid to let go of control: become a participant.

Read Lisa Barone’s “Outspoken Media” for a list of social media channels that are useful for nonprofits.

Twitterized: How to Tap into Twitter

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Who would have thought that only 30 years after the Internet was invented, there would be a tool that allows a company to broadcast information to millions of people in a matter of seconds. That same tool also allows companies to listen in on discussions about how people are using their products and what they think of them, allowing a continuous two-way conversation with customers when they have a problem or concern.

If you can’t figure out what I was talking about in my above description I will give you a hint, “tweet, tweet.”

Most, if not all, social media connoisseurs are aware of Twitter and its many applications. I’ll break it down for those who are not familiar. Twitter’s microblogging platform allows its users to stream very short posts or “tweets” (140 characters) that others can follow and respond to. It allows companies (and individuals) to have conversations with influencers who are willing and eager to share what they learn with their friends and many followers. For businesses specifically, Twitter offers genuine interactions with the people who choose to use the company’s products. Twitter is literally a social media tool, but more specifically it is a large community.

Twitter is a great way to connect with customers, but it is not a tool to exploit and bombard people with news releases. There is a strategic way to approach Twitter. I will outline a few steps that advise businesses on how to get the most out of Twitter.

Purpose:

Have a clear purpose and objective in mind to guide your use of Twitter. Figure out whom you want to reach. Do you want to reach key influencers within your field? Or do you want to engage customers? The way you use Twitter will be different for each target audience.

It is important to remember that you are creating an online persona for your brand or company. If you have more than one purpose you might want to create multiple accounts: One to relay news, one to respond to customers complaints, and one to take part in conversations surrounding your field or product.

Following:

Using tools like Twitter take time and patience when you first start using them. Another important thing to remember is, listening is more important than talking, especially when you are first getting aquainted with the tool. There is a search tool built into Twitter that allows you to find people who are tweeting about your company, competitors and any related topic pertinent to your business.

While searching, you can start to follow key commentators and influencers and observe what people are saying. Eventually include yourself in the conversation, but only respond with relevant and informative information. Following influential members will show them, and the tweeting world, that you are interested in what they have to say; in return, it will encourage them to follow you.

Maintain Interest and Engage:

Twitter will only prove beneficial to a company if it offers something of value with every tweet, whether that’s news about the company, advice for consumers of products or insight about a niche market. Twitter users are not receptive or welcoming to blatant attempts at manipulation. It is not a good idea to use any type of obvious self-promotion, advertising attempts, or spin.

Encourage your followers to talk about themselves by asking them questions related to your mutual interests that you think they will want to answer. Show interest in the people who use the company’s products.

When given the opportunity, people show loyalty for companies and products that they feel represent them and people like them. Being real and approachable, as well as taking part in the two-way conversation on Twitter, goes a long way toward showing people what you have in common and that you are willing to engage.

Explore tools:

The Twitter Web site is okay to start with, but once you get the hang of it explore the many different tool options available. I personally like Tweetdeck, which allows you to open multiple searches or groups that update in real time. There are many tools available to make using Twitter easy. This list might be helpful.

If you go slow, observe before jumping in, and know why you are there then your Twittering days shall prove successful and beneficial.

Pistachio is another great reference to use for all Twitter-related questions.

Developing a Social Media Plan

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As I uncover new information about social media, I become more enthralled by all it has to offer. Web 2.0 is quickly evolving and a growing number of businesses are showing interest and wanting to get involved. In a few of my classes we discuss the social media faux pas committed by companies, followed by a discussion about what could have been done to prevent the unintended outcome.

In my Strategic Social Media Class we discuss how to develop a social media plan. I thought this was a relevant discussion for students about to enter the work force, as well as all public relations and marketing professionals.

When creating a social media campaign or any type of marketing campaign, it is a good idea to check its relevance, ethical nature and likelihood to be accepted by the intended audience. Companies often get into trouble when they rush through the planning process without combing through the specifics and discussing any areas that might garner negative attention. If you create a concrete campaign, it is likely that you will prevent a crisis and diminish negative attention.

Once you have the idea and content for the campaign, you need to structure a strategic plan to get some attention. Great content without a plan might garner some attention, but an effective plan can maximize the traffic volume and help you reach a more targeted audience. The plan should outline what type of content to develop, the audience you want to attract, where to promote it, and how to keep people engaged. Here is a worksheet from the Social Media Conference NW: The New Word-of-Mouth Marketing.

Kelli Matthews outlines the steps involved in Social Media Planning:

1. Analysis of the Situation: Know the company’s background and history as it relates to social media. Figure out certain staff expertise, availability and willingness to participate. This is important because it allows you to structure the plan around the time commitments. Research external factors like industry trends, built-in communities and willingness and likelihood of participation. Survey the channels of communication the company is currently using and what degree of success it is receiving.

2. Groundswell P.O.S.T. method:

People: Find out who your audiences are. Use Groundswell’s Social Technographics Profile to figure out what type of social media consumer your customers are.

Objectives: Figure out what it is that you want to accomplish in the “Groundswell.”

Strategies: Listening, talking, energizing, supporting, embracing.

  • Listen to your potential audiences. Before your company can be a part of the conversations, you need to know what people are already talking about so you can determine how your company can best contribute. Setting up tools to monitor conversations is easy. The difficult part is choosing keywords that will return the most usable results. Use tools like Social Media Firehose: Kingsley Joseph used Yahoo Pipes to create one RSS feed that aggregates results from Flickr, Digg, YouTube, FriendFeed and other social media sites.
  • Start leaving comments (talking) on blogs and building a community on Twitter and/or Facebook to further help the discussion and illustrate your company’s commitment to developing online relationships.
  • Energize your audience and your initiative. Figure out who your key audience is, see what their issues are and capitalize on them. Pick a channel that fits with the demographic and stick with it.
  • Support your audience with valuable information, easy access and open conversations.
  • Embrace your audience. Give them a place to discuss issues, provide suggestions and provide feedback on new products. Embracing customers’ ideas is a great way to build and retain relationships.

Technologies: Pick the communication channels that will best reach your audience like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs.

Timeline: Include timelines for both short- and long-term objectives. Answer questions like, “What do you want to gain? How many people do you want to attract?” Remember that it takes time but if you allow the online community to grow and continuously monitor and engage with customers, you should be satisfied with the results.

Companies that develop a plan and create a social media initiative will have a better sense of how they are perceived by their target audiences. They can establish a two-way dialog with key members and they will empower their customers to speak with them, not at them. But, without a strategic approach to social media, it’s difficult to succeed.