Posted by: brittwasko | November 23, 2009

Social Media Use Requires A Purpose And Goals

Before social media use can begin to affect communication and public relations, it must encompass fundamental building blocks of social media efforts. What does this mean? Do not start blogging, tweeting or Facebooking without a purpose and an outline of goals. One of the common mistakes people make when they begin exploring and using social media is doing so without a strategic plan. It is important to post meaningful information with confidence, which many users struggle to do. The ability to obtain social media credibility and gain a large audience is accomplished by attacking social media with a well-developed plan.

Social Media Blueprint

In a recent blog post by Chris Brogan, he outlines the priorities for new social media users. Below are summaries of Chris’s ideas.

Goals:  Maintain and achieve goals with social media. If the original plan is not followed, there is no point in continuing with it. Develop several objectives to always remember while blogging and Tweeting.  

Dashboard:  Be able to measure social media success. Within the defined objectives, clearly state ways to measure and evaluate the success. Without measurements, success rates will not be steady. 

Strategies:  Create several strategies that will help accomplish the goals. If they become too specific, turn a couple of them into tactics. 

Social Media Values

Listen:  This allows users to obtain data, metrics and material to write about when using social media. It also allows users to understand the audience for which they are writing.  

Read/Consume:  Reading allows users to see other people’s perspectives and to learn about the latest and greatest online tools and trends. Reading and consuming information can never occur too often; there is always time to learn something new.

Read the remainder of Brogan’s blog post for complete lists of his social media priorities and vaules.

When Strategy Works

In the following video, learn how Proctor and Gamble used a smart social media strategy to increase tampon sales with young girls. Since the product is somewhat of a taboo topic, the company addressed the issue in a creative way with a Web site featuring the problems teenage girls encounter, including the use of tampons.

Why This Matters To PR

When businesses decide to engage in social media, they must do so with a defined outline of goals, strategies and tactics. PR professionals should be involved in this process, as many companies are now looking to the PR folks for advice and guidance with social media—but it has to be the right information. Practitioners should not advise their clients or employers to use social media without first implementing a team of associates to craft overall objectives, strategies and ways to evaluate success. Without these elements, the use of social media for business purposes is pointless. Just like PR professionals use objectives, strategies and tactics with daily projects, they must apply the same ideas for social media. Having an outlined plan is not only practical, but it provides greater opportunity for success.

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Posted by: brittwasko | November 16, 2009

Social Media Popular Among All Ages

When logging on to Facebook, it is now common for users to see friend requests from their parents, aunts, uncles or even grandparents. No longer is the popular social networking site only geared toward college students. Now that anyone can create a profile, many Facebook users between the ages of 18 and 25 are adjusting to seeing their parents’ updated statuses flood their news feeds.Older gentleman using a computer

On the business side, however, it makes sense for older professionals to utilize a Facebook page for networking or business-related purposes. And as a college student, confirming a professional’s friend request is a lot less weird than responding to an uncle’s ‘poke’ or obscure application request. People of all ages are learning how to use social media, and it is now necessary to adjust usability of those sites when communicating with both professionals and family members. The last thing you need on your Facebook wall is a comment from an uncle about you causing a scene at Christmas after drinking six glasses of wine.

Adjusting Social Media Use For Family And Business

Young and soon-to-be PR professionals not only have to adjust to this usability change in their personal lives, but also within their careers. In their personal lives, professionals should maybe ask relatives to not post inappropriate or embarrassing comments and send them as messages instead. And in their professional lives, PR practitioners must learn how to promote a campaign geared toward older audiences not only through traditional forms of promotions but now through tailored social media promotions.

The statistics are strong. According to a blog written on Youngentrepreneur.com, a recent study found that almost 70 percent of those between the ages 43 and 52 and 62 percent of those between the ages 53 to 63 are consumers of socially created content. Additionally, these users want to contribute some of their own opinions to what they already read. The following figure from ReadWriteWeb shows additional figures related to Baby Boomers’ use of social media.

Social media use-Statistics for Baby Boomers

Why This Matters To PR

So now that older generations are using social media to communicate and obtain their news, how should PR practitioners promote campaigns through social media tailored to older audiences? The answer: Make the campaigns simple. With statistics clearly showing rising numbers in social media use by older audiences, companies are now spending budgets on Internet promotions. But the promotions must be easy for older audiences to access and use. For example, a business could create a blog or video that relates to the lifestyle or work ethic of Boomers. And so audiences can respond to information, the feedback process must be easy. Within the previously mentioned blog, the author suggests avoiding complex sign-up forms or registration processes. Anything low-effort, such as star ratings, should be utilized.

Though it may appear challenging to promote a campaign to older audiences, it must be done. Boomers and other older audiences generally know the most about company histories, which is why many practitioners look to older audiences for advice and information about the company for which they work. In respect for the older audiences who still work or who are retired, it is only appropriate to tailor a company’s social media promotions to older audiences.

Posted by: brittwasko | November 6, 2009

Promote With Social Media

Promotions for special events, such as campaigns, grand openings, company start-ups and holiday sales have been accomplished for many years through traditional forms of advertising in newspapers, magazines and on television. But now that most target audiences are looking to social media for the latest news and up-to-date trends, companies are Promotional image for PRSSA's National Conferenceutilizing social networking sites to reach those audiences. One current special event that has been promoted through social media is the 2009 Public Relations Student Society of America’s (PRSSA) National Conference in San Diego, Calif., on Nov. 6-Nov. 10. As an officer for the Kent State University Chapter of PRSSA, I have the privilege of attending this year’s event. Not only is this my first PRSSA National Conference, it is my first trip to the west coast, and I can hardly wait!

Making It Work For Conference

In an effort to spread the word about Conference and to hear from students who plan to attend, the Conference committee created a Twitter account and offers a link to it from PRSSA’s Web site. Posts include success tips for Conference attendees, questions from students regarding the Conference details and updates from professionals who are presenting during the event. So far, the account has received 372 tweets and has 1,639 followers.Girl using computer

Another way the Conference is being promoted is through PRSSA’s blog. The lastest post tells students how to make the best out of this year’s Conference with tips like how to dress, how to prepare and what to do during free time. This post has two comments and was retweeted seven times.

A final way PRSSA is utilizing social media for Conference promotion is through a social media competition for students. On the Web site, Conference attendees can learn how to enter a contest for the most effective and strategic social media plan for the launch of a new Mitsubishi vehicle. Submissions will be judged by three social media experts, and the winning team will be announced at an evening social during Conference.

All three tactics showcase how students are utilizing social media, but they emphasize how important social media are for communication about the event. The competition, especially, allows students to brainstorm creative PR strategies directly for social media.

Why This Matters To PR

After all my posts thus far, it is clearly evident how important social media are to public relations, and how all social networking sites can help PR professionals. The successful promotions for Conference are evidence that students are engaging in social media and want to learn more about how to implement social networking sites into the profession of public relations. 

An Extra Tid Bit From Me

SunsetDuring Conference, I will have the opportunity to network with professionals, learn about the workings of PR in various industries and obtain tips on how to sharpen my resume. One of the other benefits is having the chance to meet other PR students from around the country. One thousand students registered for the event, so I will have no problem meeting new people. This is going to be an awesome experience, but for some reason it does not seem real. It could be because I have yet to leave, but I know as soon as I board the plane to sunny California, the excitement will definitely set in!

Posted by: brittwasko | November 2, 2009

Social Media Can Hurt

Two people viewing a computer screenAlmost all of the posts for this blog have provided ways social media can benefit one’s personal career or a company’s success, but now it is time to point out the negative aspects of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. However, it is important to note that many of the negatives occur because of human error.

Today, many employers are looking for prospective employees who know how to effectively use social media. However, workers are increasingly using social media without thinking of the consequences in which their posts could result. For example, if someone posts an improper status update—“I hate this stupid job because my boss is awful!”—his or her superiors could view that and invoke some kind of punishment, such as termination. Social media users need to be smart about their use of all social networking sites, especially ones they allow their employers to view.

Compiled by Barbara Pachter, leading expert in business etiquette and communications, the following items are social media blunders one should avoid while working in a professional setting.

Social Media Blunders

1. Criticizing employers:
Social media use is becoming more and more popular among businesses, so employees cannot post negative comments about employers or specific bosses. Posts such as the one mentioned above can result in punishment or termination.

2. Posting offensive photos and videos on Facebook or YouTube: Employees are forgetting that online photos and videos can become viral very quickly. A recent and well-known example of this is the video posted on YouTube by Dominos employees who did disgusting things to a pizza.

3. Having no strategy when not wanting to accept a friend request from a client or boss on Facebook:
Assigning certain social networking sites to personal use and others to professional use is quite common. A popular choice is to use Facebook for friends and family and as LinkedIn for work-related relationships. This will help when a colleague sends a friend request on Facebook. It is appropriate to send that person a LinkedIn request and not accept his or her Facebook request— be sure to explain the reasoning.

4. Using a BlackBerry under the table:
Using any kind of mobile device under the table can be viewed as rude and can result in severe consequences. Clients and co-workers will believe they are being ignored during business meetings.

5. Sending ludicrous tweets on Twitter:
Be sure to send tweets with meaning. Almost no one cares about the spaghetti being prepared for dinner.

6. Placing a BlackBerry or iPhone on the table when meeting with someone:
Easy access to another form of communication makes it too tempting to ignore the current conversation and engage in another.

7. Not participating in social media:
Though the use of social media can be negative at times, the pros outweigh the cons. Participation in Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. can improve someone’s career and enhance a company’s success. Engage in social media NOW!

Have A Purpose With Social Media

In this video, Chris Brogan explains the most effective ways to blog and use Twitter. He explains that it is smart to ask questions of readers and show them how to accomplish new tasks.

Why This Matters To PR

Avoiding the negative aspects of social media is crucial when working in public relations. Potential clients could view that information as rude and unprofessional, which could result in a damaged reputation. And because social media are becoming more and more popular in public relations, information posted on social networking sites will likely go unnoticed. Professionals must properly monitor their social networking sites, as they could lose their jobs and credibility in the field of public relations.

Posted by: brittwasko | October 26, 2009

Social Media Boosts The Public Relations Role

Meeting presentationHas social media given public relations a louder voice at the decision-making table? And are businesses looking to their PR representatives instead of their marketers for social media advice? Many professionals say yes and agree they have struggled to prove their business value to marketing professionals who fail to see the benefits of public relations. But now that social media has such a strong presence in business, companies realize how PR practitioners use the Internet to maintain the positive, long-term business reputations they have worked so hard to uphold.

In a recent blog post by Kye Strance, director of product management for Vocus, a provider of on-demand software for public relations management, he shares with readers how social media has given public relations a seat at the marketing strategy table. Strance notes that in traditional business environments, sales forces command the relationships with customers and choose not to ask them for participation in interviews if it helps close a business deal. However, with the innovations of social media, relationships with customers are quickly changing. Public relations professionals are now being trusted to adjust their work and utilize the Internet to benefit their companies.

Social Media Is A PR Must

If traditional PR practitioners are hesitant to use social media when pitching stories to reporters, they better find ways to become comfortable. Social media is here to stay. In a blog post earlier this month, Susan Payton, managing partner of Egg Marketing & Public Relations, an Internet marketing firm, shares with PR professionals how to use social media in a PR pitch plan. In her post, she makes it clear that e-mailing press releases to journalists does not guarantee press coverage these days. Professionals are now contacting media through new channels and are pitching their stories with more creativity to keep up with fast-moving social networking sites. The following tips can help in the pitching process:To do list

  • Find new ways to contact journalists, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs.
  • Use the Internet to learn more about journalists. Read their bios on different Web sites and learn how to connect with them when making the first contact.
  • Interact with journalists in their spaces. Comment on posts, re-tweet their content on Twitter or send brief messages on Facebook. 
  • Keep up with journalists’ posts on sites, as they may need quick assistance. Helping them can increase the chances of success for future pitches.
  • Learn how to pitch using Twitter. Follow Payton’s example:
    pitch-tweet
  • Do not allow social media to consume your entire PR pitch plan. Mix in different tools, such as press releases, fact sheets, marketing Web sites, blogs, etc.
  • Remember that learning how to pitch reporters is a process and will not develop in one night. Plan ahead and work for several weeks researching journalists and becoming acquainted with them before pitching specific stories. 

Following these steps will not only improve a PR professional’s chances of successful pitches with reporters, but it will enhance that practitioner’s social media skills. In business today, professionals cannot afford to not understand social media—its use is becoming necessary for success.

Posted by: brittwasko | October 12, 2009

Finding the online tool that works best for you

business meetingsWith the vast amount and variety of tools available for online communication, it makes sense that some individuals and businesses are hesitant when choosing the online tool that will best achieve their communication objectives. This is because many sites offer similar features, while others are specific to uses such as profile or photo and video sharing.

Along that same thought, parties looking to use social media may have similar goals, but they also have their own communication objectives geared toward their products and/or services. With all these factors mixed together, the decision to use social media must be a well-strategized and effective decision, whether the sites represent an entire organization or only one professional.

What is the best site?

Once an individual, organization or business decides to utilize social media, the next step is choosing the site(s) to actually implement for business purposes. The following sites are among a longer list of  50 social media sites recommended to all businesses by the editors of INSIDECRM. The editors say businesses that limit their online presense to banners and blogging are really missing out on other targeting opportunities.

digg logoDigg is a place for people to discover and share content from anywhere on the Web. From the biggest online destination to an obscure blog, Digg shares the most popular information voted on by users. Though this site has no editors, Digg allows users to determine the value of its content. Site owners believe it is changing the way people are consuming information on the Internet.

LinkedIn logoLinkedIn is used by more than 45 million professionals to exchange information, ideas and opportunities. Many professionals use this site as way to post their online resume, in hopes to network with other professionals in their fields. LinkedIn provides ways to reconnect with old classmates and colleagues, power a career by finding inside connections and obtain advice from industry experts.

Focus logoFocus is a business destination for professionals to help each other with purchase and business decisions by accessing research and peer expertise and sharing their knowledge. The site prides itself in its quality information that is freely available, easily accessible and community-powered.

Small Business Brief Puppy logoSmall Business Brief is a niche social media site that offers members entrepreneur-related articles, photos and links to their profiles. This site provides pertinent small business news and information related to sales and marketing, finances, Web site development and more. It also offers a forum to members, where they can share timely comments and business advice.

Twitter logoTwitter is now one of the most popular general social media sites. Short 140-character messages known as “tweets” are posted by users to update “followers” with their  immediate statuses. Businesses are using this site as a way to post brief news bits that link followers to their Web sites with additional information.  In March 2009, Twitter was ranked as the fastest-growing site in a Member Communities category for February 2009.

Why This Matters To PR

The use of social media will forever change the public relations industry. If used properly, the sites listed above, plus those continued on INSIDECRM’s Web page, can certainly enhance relationships between PR practitioners and other professionals they work with on a regular basis, such as reporters, analysts, customers, etc. Those positive relationships can lead to successful pitches and increased interests in whatever companies or organizations practitioners represent.

Social media provides ways for individuals to always be in contact with other professionals so information can be easily shared. Though each site has its individual purpose, they all enhance opportunities for communication. Professionals just need to research each site and realize what sites work best for the their organizations or their individual careers.

Posted by: brittwasko | October 5, 2009

Benefits of Social Media Use

Within my last post, I mention how social media can negatively impact communications and public relations. This time, I want to flip the coin and share how social media can positively affect communications and public relations, specifically for a business.

Throughout my studies and experience as a corporate communications intern, I have learned how opinions can differ when it comes to utilizing social media for business purposes. While some professionals find social media necessary for success, others may not, which is partly due to the lack of trust some organizations have in social media. But with today’s extreme Internet use, it seems almost wreckless to operate a business without using social media in some aspect.

In the following YouTube video, many surprising statistics regarding social media use are presented. The video makes it apparent that social media is not just a fad, but something businesses should utilize because of its always growing popularity.

 

Using Social Media Right

Shift logoWhen using social media it is essential to utilize it properly and efficiently. Though communicating through social media is innovative, it has to be done without any spelling, grammar, technical or style errors. If this occurs, an organization will not be taken seriously and its business objectives could be neglected. Shift Communications is a public relations agency located in New York, San Francisco and Boston. On the company’s Web site, it notes how businesses are beginning to realize the potential behind social media.

“Businesses are now jumping on the social media bandwagon at a rapid pace, embracing blogs, social networks, wikis and other vehicles to achieve their marketing and public relations goals.” –Shift Communications

To help someone, or specifically a business owner, understand the benefits of social media usage, the agency provides several benefits of an effective social media strategy.

Get the Message Out Faster – and to More People

  • Rapid sharing and quick distribution of news, images, audio, video and other multimedia
  • Widespread coverage and a broader, diverse reader base
  • Opportunity to reach ever-rising Internet users

Improve Branding

  • Enhanced awareness and image
  • Increased brand recognition
  • Opportunity to gather input and feedback from audiences

Boost the Impact of Direct Marketing

  • Enhanced search engine optimization
  • Reader engagement with common jargon and key phrases, title tags, ticker symbols and links to relevant Web content

Why This Matters To PR
workers and computers

Social media is comprised of many tools that some organizations are still not comfortable using, but with the proper usage, those organizations can slowly emerge into the social media world. More than many executives, public relations practitioners need to be aware of the proper ways to use social media for professional purposes like distributing press releases, pitching the media and maintaining positive relationships with reporters.

Some professionals may even want to shadow the ways other businesses effectively utilize social media so they begin the adoption process with the right ideas and at a realistic pace. When a business advertises that it uses Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or any other social media Web site, audiences realize that it knows how to reach the masses and may consider it an innovative and trusted company.

Posted by: brittwasko | September 27, 2009

Is social media affecting your communication?

facebook logoNo more are the days of communication made only through face-to-face or phone conversations. With the advent of social media and networking sites, people can communicate through countless means. While the use of these sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, is convenient, it also allows for informal, improper and ungrammatical communication. And many students today are letting those negative attributes influence communication outside their cyberspace, specifically in written papers for classes or face-to-face and phone conversations with professionals. It is fascinating how some twittestudents believe it is acceptable to submit class assignments with written words like:  no (know); luv (love); i (I); 2 (to, two and too); u (you); 2morrow (tomorrow); sry (sorry) and many more. This kind of writing becomes a habit when using social media and networking sites; so much that students forget to proof read their work and do not eliminate words such as those above.

Forgetting How To Speak

Because many people are communicating daily through social media sites, they are forgetting how to effectively communicate verbally with others. It is difficult to witness a conversation between a college student and professional when the student has no ability to carry on an intelligent conversation or make eye contact with the professional. Shying behind a computer screen has weakened students’ confidence, which can ruin their chances to make positive impressions on decision makers. In an article published by a student newspaper at Howard University, the author notes that face-to-face communication is necessary in the real world.

“Interpersonal communication is an art and requires a great amount of skill. Being able to communicate is essential when one is looking for a job, trying to get an override into a class, trying to ask a stranger for directions, or even trying to get good service in a restaurant.”speech bubble

This quote could not be more accurate. Effective communication is necessary in just about every instance where at least two people are involved, and it is even more necessary when networking with professionals. In another article published by a student newspaper at Southeast Missouri State University, the author highlights how the purpose of Facebook has turned into a way for students to avoid face-to-face communication.

“Text messages, online instant messages, e-mail and, the most notorious, Facebook, were all created to facilitate better communication. Truthfully, these technological tools are ruining the public communication skills of young people, especially in America. Facebook, an online social directory, was created for college students to serve as a way of staying in touch with friends not seen since kindergarten, middle school or high school. However, it has become an outlet for students to avoid personal contact and communicate with people they have never met.”

Why This Matters To PR

What is so interesting about these two articles is that they were both written by college students. This means that some young adults are grasping this concept of social media negatively impacting communication. However, other students are still not understanding how their online habits are transferring to their schoolwork and real world experiences. In public relations specifically, efficient communication is expected. And if someone who is new to a job cannot deliver that communication, he or she will not likely survive in that position.

If a student wants to use social media as a way to escape from formal writing, that is his or her choice. However, it is essential to always separate that form of communication with the types of interaction that affect grades and job opportunities. Otherwise, written and face-to-face communication by students will continue to worsen.

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