The Trick to Making Public Relations Clients Happy

Earlier this week I got the opportunity to tour the CMD Agency in Portland with the PRSA New Pros group. The tour itself was interesting and I got to speak with some extraordinary

PR pros. Among the great speakers of the CMD panel was Kevin Murphy, the director of digital strategies. He brought up an excellent point that was so simple and straightforward that it stuck in my head; do whatever you can to make it easier for the client.

As he said, “make it so the client can feel comfortable going home by six.”

Now I didn’t understand this at first and after a little explaining the idea sunk in and has stuck in my head ever since. For those of you who don’t know what this means I’ll clue you in. The idea is that you should stay one step ahead of your client and make their job as easy as possible so they don’t have to worry about anything at the end of the day and can feel free to go home without the chance of something going awry.

This will not only lead to a better PR campaign, but also a happier client.

The Scene Marketing Group

I thought about ways to make life a little easier for the clients of The Scene Marketing Group, and I came up with nothing until I had my weekly meeting with Shannon Pratuch, the CEO of The Scene Marketing Group. Shannon let me in on an excellent simple tip, and I think this is the answer to Murphy’s gem of a tip. Shannon said, “In public relations you have to be proactive and reactive.”

Murphy's Law

Again this might not make sense, but what she means is that you have to be proactive and have an organized plan detailing the campaign and be reactive to new and unforeseen opportunities that may arise.

If you can manage to accomplish this yin and yang aspect to public relations, you will fulfill Murphy’s key to success (maybe a new public relations theory?) not to be confused with Murphy’s Law.

If you have any other ideas to make your client happy please feel free to comment.

Thanks for reading!

Just because it looks nice.

Advertisements
Posted in Client Relations, Public Relations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Using Different Voices in Public Relations

The most important aspect of public relations is writing. Through out school we relentlessly practice writing well. One thing that I wish I practiced more is how to write in different voices for different clients. This becomes even more crucial when you have clients in a different cultural area than you are used to.

Although they help me tremendously, working for The Scene Marketing Group I get to write content for a number of different clients with all different voices. On top of writing for different groups with different voices, all these clients are located in Portland, so they have the Portland touch to the writing voice as well.

Portland is sassy.

Coming from Eugene to the hipster land that is Portland, there is a completely different tone of voice.

Like all writing the trick to learning how to write for different clients is to read what is already written, unless you have a new client and can use whatever voice you want.

For instance, I was assigned to write for a women’s group and lets be honest I don’t know where to even begin writing in the voice of a women’s group. So, I read everything that was written for the group and began understanding the voice.

I don’t by any stretch of the imagination think I am fluent in that voice, but I think I may have at least passed as a lady.

If you are reading this and looking to get into the field of public relations, please start practicing now to write in the voices you are not as comfortable with because it will be very valuable for you in the future.

If you have any stories or advice please feel free to comment! Thank you.

Posted in Public Relations, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Scene has Changed and Life is Good

I am attending the senior experience through the University of Oregon in Portland, and about three weeks ago I began interning for an excellent public relations and marketing company, The Scene Marketing Group. They specialize in social media practices, but they also excel in traditional public relations and event planning.

Before you begin an internship you never fully know what activities you are going to be working on. Sometimes you hear horror stories about interns having to get coffee and copy materials, so when I first started I was mostly excited but a part of me was a little nervous.

I am happy to say The Scene Marketing Group is not one of those firms that contribute to these horror stories. Quite the opposite actually, already I worked on websites, contributed in client meetings, wrote press releases, managed social media content and overall have been graciously accepted into the Scene team.

For my current projects I am working on a new social media advanced relationship-training program that The Scene Marketing Group and Chalkboarder are collaborating together on. Get SMART NW is a local training course that will bring novice social media users to become skilled content managers and strategic social media pros.

I know this sounds like a pitch, but I promise you it is not. I got a chance to see some of the behind the scenes stuff (no pun intended) and this course looks like it will be a great tool for students, business professionals, career changers and anyone else interested in the great potential that social media has.

As you can see I am very excited for this internship and the Portland Experience, so for the rest of my last college term this blog will include content about my internship, the senior experience and public relations alike.

I hope you enjoy and comment if you have any suggestions for content I should write about!

Here are the social media sites for Get SMART NW so check it out:

Twitter

Facebook

Flickr

Posted in Public Relations, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Public Relations Promotion for the School of Journalism and Communication

This is a video promoting the public relations program in the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon my group created for my J452 class last term. The movie features: Claire Tonneson, Jordan Cox, John Mitchell, Austin Clark, Lizzy Harris, Ashley Aronson, and Liz Johnston. Thank all of you for helping us in this project!

Check it out:

Posted in Public Relations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Company Twitter Handles Logos or Faces?

As you can see I follow Todd Defren’s blog. He always has great posts that are informational and thought provoking. A post he created recently was “Twitter Branding 101: Logo Or ‘Face?’” It is a conversation that his senior staff had that is impressive not only because of the content but also because it occurred in seven minutes.

The post is about whether company-run Twitter handles should have an image of the employee writing on the Twitter profile or should they use the company logo? In the end it seemed the senior staff concluded on a lets-be-done-with-this answer.

The answer depends on the situation.

I think the key for companies should be to have consistency throughout their online presence. If they choose to have a picture of the employee writing the posts, all the images should be of the writers. If companies use their logo, all pictures should be of the logo.

The book “Made to Stick” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath helped me decide that using logos is the best strategy for developing brand recognition in social media. Simplicity and concreteness of the image for the consumer increases recognition. If a follower recognizes the image as the company’s Twitter handle they are more likely to continue following the conversation.

This brings me to my final decision about this question.

Companies should only use their logos as the image for their online presence.

The first major reason I think companies should use the logo is because when searching for a company on Twitter, for example, you look for the logo. If you find an average Joe or Jane picture it is likely to be a fake Twitter profile. Using the company logo increases credibility for the social media page.

A quote from “Made to Stick” chapter three fits this situation perfectly:

“Concreteness makes targets transparent.”

Seeing a logo rather than a face is concrete because the consumer will know that the company site is actually the company-run website. This increases transparency because the viewer realizes the voice of the page is an employee displaying the views of the company and not the opinion of the employee. This brings up the issue of humanizing the social media page.

If a company uses an image of an employee, it may bring a humanized image to match the voice. People want to talk to real people. However, if a company has an experienced enough writer composing Tweets, the humanized presence will show through the Twitter post.

Having a logo instead of a face, as stated by Defren’s senior staff, would make it easier for the company and the consumer in case an employee leaves the company. The Gravatar image would have to change, and the image recognition of the followers would have to be rebuilt.

Another situation was discussed in Defren’s post involving larger companies that have many Twitter handles to divide the conversation. My answer to this is to have one Twitter handle and create hashtags to take the place of the different Twitter handles. For instance, have a Twitter hashtag directed toward customer service and one toward promotions. To have the Twitter followers find the different hashtags related to their need, the company could post the hashtags periodically on its page and have the hashtags on its about section.

Although it is up to the company, I think there are more benefits to a company using its logo rather than a face on its online presence. For consistency, recognition and simplicity for consumers, companies should use the logo instead of a face.

Well. What do you think? Please comment!

Posted in Companies, Social Media, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is the World Too Fast for Blogging?

The world is fast. Blogging is slow. People don’t have time. They turn to Twitter.

All you busy folks out there, this is what this blog post is about, so feel free to continue with your life and I thank you for stopping for this long.

For the rest of you who have a little time on your hands, pull up a chair or lean on a wall, sit back and find out why traditional blogging for the use of entertainment is going to disappear.

Here we go!

I was talking with my dad the other day about how the invention of the Internet allows people to do more every day. Smart phones and Wi-Fi give people the ability to look up information and converse with each other instantly. We can be shopping, tweeting, working and eating a fat-free burger all at the same time. We have the ability to put more on our plates than we ever thought possible. Now, we don’t have time to sit and read a whole news story or blog and instead we read the first paragraph, 140 characters.

So, what does this mean for blogging?

Social media began with blogging. At the time blogging was a radical new way to have in-depth conversation with strangers. Now that the world is faster, blogging is too slow for the new generations. Writing more than 140 characters is considered work and timely. The New York Times article by Verne Kopytoff called Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter discusses the fact that older generations are still active on blog sites but the younger generation’s activity on blogs is decreasing.

Eventually as the younger generations mature and technology improves, people will have less time to use blogs to express their opinions. Twitter and other microblogs will continue to lead in the digital conversation industry.

I think the idea of blogging as a conversation medium will continue forever but the format that it is presented on will change. Companies will have a section on their websites, much like most companies do already, that uses conversational language to discuss issues. These posts will be short like tweets, to the point and devoted to engaging the conversation with consumers rather than creating lengthy information pieces. Companies will use microblogs more often and will direct serious conversation back to their website.

All people care about is the message. Brevity is key. Consumers are using less time sorting through fluff to find the main point. Since journalists are generally a primary public in a public relations campaign, most journalists will want a message free of fluff as well. Although public relations practitioners are already trying to be as concise with their messages as possible, the importance of succinct messages will continue to grow with the pace of society.

Technology will get faster, people will be busier and public relations needs to continue to adapt with the times. “Made to Stick” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath discuss the use of the acronym, S.U.C.C.E.S. or simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional and story ideas. S.U.C.C.E.S. is an excellent tool to use to achieve these fluff free messages.  Go through each one and ask yourself if your message follows these six ideas and you should be ready to take on the microblogging world.

 

Posted in Public Relations, Social Media, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Twitter Makes News Broadcast Obsolete

Twitter sends 140 character stories around the world instantly. News broadcasts send 30 second stories around the region during the five, seven and ten o’clock reports. News broadcasting is hardly instantaneous.

An interesting situation came to me last Wednesday during the Public Relations Student Society of America meeting. Our guest speaker was Cary Lieberman, the executive director of Greenhill Humane Society. He discussed what it’s like to work in nonprofit public relations. Greenhill Humane Society has a strong media presence throughout Eugene and most news broadcast networks would cover any story from Greenhill. Until Greenhill Humane Society’s social media became popular.

Greenhill Humane Society’s Twitter profile grew a healthy number of followers because their tweets were of events, success stories and cute new pet arrivals.

Greenhill Humane Society’s news broke over Twitter the instant it happened. This left the local news broadcast stations in the dust. The local news broadcast stations quit running stories of the humane society because they want to break the story.

Lieberman then slowed his Twitter presence so the news broadcasts could catch up. After a little time news broadcast continued to cover Greenhill Humane Society’s news.

After hearing this story I finally understood the effects that social media have on traditional media news. Papers take time to design the layout, print and distribute. Television broadcast have to film, edit and wait for their time slot. Tweets are written and sent, and the world has access to the information.

Twitter grew 1,382 percent from 2008 to 2009 according to a Nielsen statistic. Facebook only grew 228 percent in the same time period.

If Twitter continues to grow how will this effect traditional news media?

For example, the NBA’s trade window was open last week and sports enthusiasts glued themselves to their cell phones, computers and televisions watching ESPN and Yahoo! Sports. On the other hand the Twitter community was exploding with tweets instantly after these networks mentioned a trade or rumor. If Twitter continues to grow at this exponential rate, these sports news sources will be obsolete.

Twitter can reach a vast number of people instantly. If a post goes viral the message can be seen around the world in minutes. The only way for ESPN to stay in the game now is to become a leader in the Twitter sports community.

Social media will eventually decrease the number of channels a public relations practitioner needs to use. Companies like Business Wire are already reducing the number of media channels public relations practitioners use. This trend will only continue because of Google’s algorithmic improvements, which now search for content in public social media profiles. Information will be easier to find on social media sites, and traditional media will become obsolete.

Posted in Public Relations, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Respect Starts with the Basics

“We are all, as an (public relations) industry, still widely perceived as witless, disrespectful spambots.” – Todd Defren in his blog post Only As Strong As The Weakest Link.

In this post Defren is pointing out that public relations practitioners’ use of spamming through the social media universe is not only frowned upon but also reflects poorly on the public relations industry. In another post Defren writes about how positive engagement with consumers through social media is the key to regaining a powerful tool that the industry has arguably lost: respect.

Jeff Esposito compiled 23 social media facts to share with executives. In this post I found a statistic by Exact Target that 64 percent of Facebook users have liked a brand on Facebook. Exact Target then found that 55 percent of Facebook users who “unlike” a brand do so because of too much push marketing.

Facebook users will “like” a company’s page, but a hostile takeover over of a fan’s feed with product specs and advertisements is a quick way to be “unliked.”

So, how can the public relations industry avoid using spam and regain its respect with its consumers to make social media marketing a useful tactic?

The answer begins with the fundamentals of a social media plan. Objectives in a public relations plan must be measurable. How objectives are measured is the key to showing the success of the plan. For example, if the firm is only looking for the number of impressions on a website, then the company will get a number that lacks any real information. Impressions do not ensure that the viewer will be in the campaign’s target market or if it will even be seen at all!

Companies will send their messages out to as many people and as many times possible to boost their number of impressions. Having impressions as a main measuring tool for a campaign’s objective promotes this excessive push marketing that leads to 55 percent of Facebook users “unliking” a brand.

Instead of this one-way communication or spam that is most commonly used by companies, conversation with consumers should be the tactic of choice.

The Barcelona Declaration of Research Principles attempts to improve the validity of measurement through creating principles of research. The research principles include policies that should be followed to have effective and accurate results. I found a post by Robert Grupp, the president and CEO of the Institute for Public Relations. One of these principles is that social media can and should be measured. Grupp wrote, “Measurement must focus on conversation and communities, not ‘coverage.’”

If companies focus on conversation and communities rather than the coverage they receive, the number of impressions or spam would be a worthless statistic. Companies would be less likely to focus on excessive message delivery. This could reduce the number of social media spam messages out there, which could increase the trustworthiness of the public relations industry.

A company I found most recently to be divulging in quality conversation is Digimarc Corporation. Digimarc developed Digimarc Discover, a program application that links traditional media with websites and extras to increase the involvement in magazines.

I wrote a blog post reviewing the product and its use in Beer West magazine and discussed the potential impact that Digimarc Discover may have on the magazine industry.

Within days after launching the post I received a comment from Damon Knight, the marketing programs manager for Digimarc Corporation. Knight offered to bring me to the Digimarc Corporation and show me around.

I realize that this kind of conversation cannot be done for every “fan,” but it’s conversations with consumers like this that creates the respect that is lost among the public relations field.

Here is a list created by Todd Defren and SHIFT that holds true to every social media platform. Take a look and tell me how you think the public relations industry can increase the level of trust with its consumers.

Posted in Measurement, Public Relations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Could Technology Be the Savior of Traditional Media?

I went to visit my sister at The Scene Marketing Group last weekend, and she presented me with what I thought to be an ordinary magazine. She explained to me that it was the first issue of Beer West magazine. I find the beer industry interesting, so I thought this is cool but nothing special enough to entice me to blog about it, but here I am.

Beer West's Logo

She explained further and said the publisher, Megan Flynn, dropped into the office and showed them the fascinating new technology behind this magazine.

Now most people would see “fascinating new technology” and “magazine” in the same sentence and think this guy is ridiculous. Well, I am here to tell you that one, I am ridiculous, and two, Beer West magazine does use fascinating new technology.

Thanks to a company called Digimarc, traditional media joined the technologically advanced era. Through the smart phone application, Digimarc Discover, viewers of the magazine can access online media triggered by invisible watermarks within an image in the magazine. The online content contains everything from quizzes, videos, trivia, interactive maps and games, beer recipes, and brewery websites. The new phone application brings interactivity to traditional style media.

What does this mean for public relations?

Public relations is all about the conversation. This new program allows paper, music and video media to access another level of interactive conversation to the consumers. Magazines are thriving in today’s media because magazines have successfully become a niche market. Every  business could use Digimarc to advertise and create conversation through the niche market it belongs to. This new technology is also a great place to begin a branding campaign combining traditional media and social media.

This new application persuaded me to read the articles, and explore every picture with the Digimarc Discover logo on it to see where the application would take me. I filled out surveys, answered trivia, explored brewing companies websites and designed my very own beer coaster.

So, how does this work?

Well that is the best part. Digimarc Discover is so simple to use. An invisible watermark is inserted into the photo in the magazine. The phone application reads the watermark and takes you to the website connected with the watermark.

Step one:

  • Download the Digimarc Discover application on your iPhone or Android.

Step two:

  • Place phone approximately six inches above the image with the Digimarc logo on it.

    Digimarc Discover Logo

Step three:

  • Wait for the phone to find the invisible watermark on the photo, and the Digimarc logo will appear on the screen. Tap it!

Step four:

  • Enjoy the interactive world that the Digimarc photo takes you to.

This brilliant technology is measurable, effective, and has enormous potential for future applications.

We are a society that thrives on interactive, fast-paced information. Now, traditional media have hopped on the bandwagon and are providing consumers with extra content in the forms of games, news, tips, videos and interviews on your smart phone!

I know it looks as if Digimarc and Beer West hired me, but I promise it is not true. I wrote this blog post because after discovering the “new toy” for magazines, I spent two hours reading and playing with the Digimarc Discover application.

Take a look for yourself and read Beer West’s inaugural issue through the Digimarc Discover technology. It is sure to impress you too!

Thank you for reading and feel free to comment!

Posted in Public Relations, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Going Above and Beyond Learning the Fundamentals

The job industry today is saturated with recently graduated and soon to graduate college students. As public relations students, we are expected to have three internships, have a side job, join school clubs such as PRSSA, take a 20 credit course schedule, know everything going on in the world, and excel in social media.

So why not add more to the long list of requirements to make yourself more attractive to potential employers?

With the job market the way it is, public relations agencies are beginning to look for employees who can adapt to the computer realm and be more involved in the creative process. This way the firm will not have to hire a public relations specialist and a creative computer genius.

Instead, they can hire you: the do-everything-under-the-sun, go getting, computer savvy, force-to-be-reckoned-with employee.

So how do you become this perfect employee?

In-depth knowledge of Adobe Suite is a great way to begin diversifying your skills to be more versatile in public relations. Knowing how to use Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Dream Weaver, Flash Builder, Soundbooth and the other Adobe Suite software will put you light years beyond other perspective employees.

Students and educators can receive discounts for these products at Creative Suite 5 for education.

These programs are very detailed but not difficult to use. There are many classes you can take and websites out there to help you in the Adobe Suite adventure.

My favorite sites to use for quick note are the YouTube videos. If you search, for example, “how to use Adobe InDesign CS5” into the Google search engine you will

Example of what you can do with Photoshop CS5

find videos that cover almost every technique you will need. Also try CS5 Unofficial Adobe CS5 blog because they have great videos and information to get you on your way.

Another site that is extremely useful but is more time intensive and costs a few dollars a month is Lynda.com. My suggestion for is to dedicate one month to learning how to use various software. Then, sign up for a one-month account and learn as much as you can. This site is great because they show you how to use it and then give you a chance to try your new skills.

There are other opportunities to broaden your public relations capabilities such as learning Apple’s Final Cut Pro 7 if you are planning on creating videos. Many of Apple’s creativity software programs are very helpful for professional products. Again, searching through Google is a great way to get fundamental skills in these software programs. My  favorite educational website right now is ehow.com because they give you step-by-step instructions and have videos for those visual learners out there.

Since the world is converting to the Internet for almost every type of communication, it would be beneficial to learn how the Internet works. Having CSS and HTML under your belt is a great way to show employers that you are ready to take on the Internet world. Learning these skills is more time intensive, especially if you do not have a website programmer as a best friend. So, to learn the details of CSS and HTML, try w3schools.com because they give you a split screen with CSS on the left and the real website you are creating on the right. What you type into the CSS side changes the visible website on the right.

Two other great sites for CSS and HTML education are A List Apart and the WordPress blog support page.

These are just some examples of how to increase your worth to employers. You will learn loads of information, and if you are like me, you will have a hoot hollering good time learning it.

If I have missed something or you have other extracurricular skills public relations students should know, please feel free to comment. It is all about learning, so spread the wealth. Thank you.

Posted in Public Relations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment