Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers surveyed recently reported that half used Twitter to monitor for PR problems, but only 22.4% actually contacted Twitter users who posted negative Tweets.
Monitoring is fairly easy--if time-consuming--but it's also reported to be the most effective use of Twitter for these brands. This makes it even more surprising that 1 in 2 brands is not monitoring its image via Twitter at all. That's too bad. Twitter's beauty is giving you a real-time window into what people are saying and thinking about your business or industry.
Only one in four brands on Twitter actually reported using it to reach out and engage people directly when they had a complaint or criticism. Monitoring or listening is important, but reaching out and dialoguing is what really make a difference. Yet, going that extra mile appears to be a little more difficult for brands.
Is this a classic case of activity (monitoring) over productivity (acting on the information)? What do you think?
Here's a little advice for organizations that are monitoring but not responding:
+ Have a social media policy that makes it clear what scenarios are important to respond to.
+ Develop key messages, FAQs and some tough Q&A so that your employees have the tools to respond accurately, confidently and on message.
+ Assign responsibility and accountability to an individual or team of individuals (in-house or agency or both) to manage these social media interactions (not just Twitter but blogs, Facebook, and more.)
+ Now track and evalute this outreach to learn what works and continuously improve your online image management
Saturday, January 9, 2010
The media's idea of a good story and the client's idea of a good story are rarely in perfect sync.
That's the job of a good PR team: to find the client's news value (e.g. what the media wants) while crafting key messages that the coverage can deliver (e.g. what the client wants).
"Man bites dog" is the quintessential news hook because it's out of the ordinary. It also conveys many news values such as peril, conflict, controversy and human interest. These factors contribute to a good story. (If the dog is particularly cute, even better.)
By contrast, "dog bites man" is not a story unless its Paris Hilton's chihuahua biting David Letterman. The notion of celebrity is another important news value. If it's a name that everyone knows, then it's news (or gossip masquerading as news). This is why the 'red carpet' is a go-to feature at every club opening. Celebrities create news value where there otherwise isn't any--e.g. appearances at fundraisers, being 'spotted' at a restaurant, or being the spokesperson for a cause. How long until celebrity appearances become "dog bites man?" Or are we there already--particularly with reality TV pumping out celebrities faster than the Octomom?
In the world of business communications, "entrepreneur starts and grows successful business" is not a news hook. That's exactly what enterpreneurs are supposed to do--so it's a "dog bites man" pitch.
Did the enterpreneur overcome some adversity to achieve success? What makes this enterpreneur or company's success extraordinary? Is there some peril that threatens the hard-won success?
Just this morning, I read this post from a business magazine feature writer which perfectly illustrates the point: "I look for pitches about intriguing, controversial characters who are challenging the status quo. If you're going to pitch these people, I expect to get access to them for several days—over a period of time. Pitches should be thoughtful. There also has to be some tension. The best pitches make the client a little uncomfortable." [Emphasis added.]
When a great story comes together with strong messaging and a client that understands what it takes to earn the media's attention, it's a heavenly match and one of the real joys of our profession.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Please feel free to contribute your suggestions. And it goes both ways. Resolutions for agencies are welcome too!
If you expect a busy quarter ahead or will be consumed with a project, let your agency partners know. Please don't go dark for weeks and even months at a time in the middle of projects. And avoid following such periods of silence with firedrills where everything is now needed all at once. Your agency prides itself on being responsive and making the impossible happen for you, but it can be done better and for less money with a little planning and communication. That's how everybody wins!
2. Don't box people in
Boxes are made for moving and jewelry (though I like the latter best). Neither is meant for people. The more you box in a person or team, the less you get from them. Stay open to ideas. Containing people contains results. 'Nuff said.
3. Help us help you
Think of your agency as an extension of your team. The same way you would tell internal employees of a new venture, product or hire, tell the agency. Even if it's just a quick FYI email or a simple cc or bcc. It will help the agency better understand and manage your communications needs and reach your goals. It will also save you time (a.k.a budget) down the road.
Designate a primary contact for your agency representative but be sure that individual is given at least some responsibility for decision making and accountability for agency communications and the PR program. If the designated contact is not made accountable or is not qualified to be so, we guarantee that items 1 through 3 above are not happening either.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Here are some examples from my Twitter stream recently. They're typical social media ‘blurts:’
Blog Blurt: "How my Blog Landed Me a Book Deal: http://bit.ly/....”
Location Blurt: “I'm at Crunch Fitness (330 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn).”
Peeve Blurt: “Pet peeve #1: People who talk on the phone in bathroom. Stop it. Not only is it inconsiderate to your neighbors, but it's kinda gross.”
Quote Blurt: "'Like farmers we need to learn that we cannot sow and reap the same day.’ – Unknown” (Editor: gag.)
Each of these is meant to be a conversation starter. But, do they invite a conversation?
If the woman who Tweeted the inspirational quote above had uttered it in the supermarket as I passed, I’d give her shopping cart a very wide berth. If I met the blogger who Tweeted his blog title at a networking event and his first words were ‘my blog landed me a book deal,’ I’d offer my congratulations and move on.
For me, what makes starting a Twitter or Facebook conversation a little less socially awkward is falling back on a conversation classic: the question.
Blog Query: “How’d You Like your Blog to Land you a Book Deal?: http://bit.ly...”
Location Query: “Who else is at Crunch Fitness (330 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn)?”
Peeve Query: “Pet peeve #1: People who talk on the phone in the bathroom. It’s not just inconsiderate but don’t you think it’s kinda gross?”
Quote Query: “Need a lift? Like farmers we need to learn that we cannot sow and reap the same day. – Unknown” (Editor: still gag.)
Yestereday, I Tweeted the following question: “Who else finds inspirational quotes on Twitter a nice but annoying idea?” I had responses from eight Twitter followers. I enjoyed engaging with them because each response brought slightly different perspectives, felt like a conversation, and kept the social media experience fresh for me. Without such responses and interaction, I can understand why people abandon Twitter at such high rates and that's why I'm sharing this social media secret today. (By the way, thank you @slightlyserious, @cantondog, @evolutionfiles, @keithbooe, @sdtips, @cjsettles, @nicmcc, and @scerruti for the feedback on inspiration quotes.)
For businesses using Twitter, querying your followers instead of blurting your press release headlines, special events or promotions will also make the experience more rewarding. When you get responses, (a) you know people are reading and (b) that they're connecting with your content.
Sure you can use sites like Hootsuite and Bit.ly to track clickthroughs on your hyperlinks, but that only works if you've got a hyperlink or if you are more concerned with clickthroughs than conversations and engagement.
So, if you’re new to Twitter or have a Facebook account that has grown stale, think about the difference between a blurt and a question. And try querying your followers to get real, meaningful connections and results.
P.S. When you get answers or feedback, respond and acknowledge it if you want to reward that behavior.