Musings of a PR Professional


3 Keys to Blogging Well

Blogging is certainly not something that you can just pick up and be really good at right off the bat. However, it seems that this has made for, kind of ironically, a very hot blog post topic. Dr.V compiled a list of about eight blog posts that discuss, essentially, the do’s and don’t’s of blogging. They all made really great points so I decided to compile the most frequently noted/ most important tips for blogging.

  • Know who you are and have a voice.It is very important (and becoming increasingly harder) to stand out in the blogosphere. If you’re merely parroting what other people are talking about or not posting about anything interesting or relevant it’s very unlikely your blog will gain momentum. Blogging should be done with a purpose. So, decide who you are going to be out there in the social media world and be consistent with that.
  • Create conversations.It’s a constant give and take between bloggers, you can’t just expect people to come to you if you’re not putting yourself out there. Comment on other’s blogs, and read. Like a new release, keep up with the bloggers you comment on and want to follow you and find out what interests them. Then, put your own twist on those subjects and write about them. It’s so important to engage people- no one has ever responded well to being talked at.
  • Be real. This is especially important for corporations getting into blogging and blogging during a crisis. If you’re fake on the web, people are going to know it and most likely resent you for it. So, be upfront with your audience, it will build trust and as a result a good relationship. People will be much more interested in your products or services if they feel you understand them and don’t have any ulterior motives.

Geoff Livingston of The Buzz Bin sums up perfectly in his post on ways to woo bloggers, “…blogger relations really comes down to individual relationships. As a result, many conversations deal with basic principles of listening and not overselling, oops, over-pitching.”

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Relationships enable exposure

If someone were to ask me to define public relations in one word I would say: relationships.

Today in our PRinciples class, we had two guest speakers come in a talk to us about media relations. Kim Banks of Simko Communications and John Gouch of Clemson University’s news services spent our 75 minute class giving us special insight on how to create and send out news releases in the most effective way possible. Pretty much every PR person’s goal at some point is to get as much media coverage as possible, right? That’s true to an extent.

Both Banks and Gouch continually stressed the importance of building relationships with media. Journalists, reporters, editors and everyone else in a gatekeeper position is extremely valuable to a PR practitioner, and it is important to let them know that. Reporters don’t care about the PR practitioners client, they care about their beat, what they’re interested in writing about, and what their audience wants to hear about. So, that’s what the PR practitioner has to be interested in too.

It is absolutely imperative that PR people listen to reporters, journalists, editors. Go out to lunch/coffee/dinner/tea with them without an agenda and learn about who they are as people. The better you know these people, the more likely it is that your news release will get published.

So make friends! The more you know about your media gatekeepers the better you are able to cater to them. Seek out the people you know will be interested in the story you are trying to get published. As Banks said very poignantly, “It’s a give and take.”


Twitter Bug

Was catching up on blogs just now and found a post on Strategic Public Relations about how Twitter might just be becoming a little more mainstream. Shortly after, on PR 2.0, I read this post that offers the perfect support for the first. Check them out!


Darius Goes West

I just returned from the screening of Darius Goes West, a documentary about a young man with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). It followed him as he journeyed from Athens, GA to Los Angeles, CA. It was a trip that allowed him to see many of the things that he wanted to see, and thought he never could because of his disability. The documentary was extremely moving- I laughed, cried, and saw the world through the eyes of a child with Muscular Dystrophy. There were two main goals of the film: raise awareness about DMD and raise awareness about the need for more handicap accessible buildings/attractions/etc.

At one point during the film, Darius and his friends visited The Gateway Arc in St. Louis, MO. However, they were unable to go up to the top of the arc because it was not handicap accessible. Red flag: BAD PR. This film has received a lot of press and has had many, many showings. So, when people watch this documentary they are seeing The Gateway Arc through the eyes of a disabled person unable to take part in the structures excitement. This, therefore, sends the strong message that The Gateway Arc and organizations associated with it do not care about the needs of the disabled. A bad image to be portraying to so many people, I must say.

On the other hand, Charley’s Fund, a fund set up to raise and give money to researchers working to find a cure for DMD. The family who began Charley’s Fund is a sub-plot in the film who garner a lot of ethos throughout the film. By being included in this documentary that, again, is being seen by innumerable people nation-wide, they are getting great PR. Their name is being put out there and put into the minds of demographics that would otherwise have never heard of them. This documentary is certainly a great vehicle for their fund.

If you have not seen the documentary, I urge you PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE go see it.


Caring is sharing

One thing that all of the different social media tools have in common is sharing. In each of the tools I looked at, sharing was emphasized, usually above all of the other features the tool provided. Since social media is about connections and forming new relationships it is essential that people are able to let others know what is important and interesting to them.

Delicious is one such tool that encourages sharing. People compile all the interesting things they have found on the web as bookmarks on this site. It offers a glimpse into the minds of other people surfing the web and allows you to easily locate people you are compatible with through their bookmarks. On some other social bookmarking sites (i.e. Sphinn) you can even vote to for certain sites to be featured on the homepage. Just another way to really let others know what you think.

Another thing I noticed while going through the social media tools is that they are very interconnected. For example, you can use Picnik to edit photos that you can later upload on Flickr or Facebook. Social media tools on the web work together to essentially make the world smaller.


“Interesting” Blog

Found The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks a few days via a tweet from Paull Young. Just something fun to look at once in a while. It gets pretty witty sometimes, I’ve actually laughed out loud at a few of them.

Check it out… a nice stress reliever/ study break.


The power to change the world

Thursday last week was hands down the best PR class we’ve had so far. For the first time ever I actually started to understand not just Twitter, but the point of all the different types of social media out there.

The reason it was so empowering to me was because I got to see, first hand, my voice being just as loud, if not louder than very prominent people in the social media PR world. The Golden Wall was crumpling right before my eyes. The idea of the Golden Wall as Dr.V explained it to us is that before, corporations were making decisions about our lives with little regard to how those decisions would effect us (with a huge wall around them). They were untouchable. However, social media has broken down that wall. The power lies within the publics. Now, the corporation is never the center of attention because everyone has a voice.

So what do I think that means? People previously in power need to learn to lose control- social media is dispersing the power whether big corporations like it or not. This is touched on in Cluetrain Manifesto in the respect that the way business is being done is changing and people need to change with it or they will be left in the dust.

Hardly anyone understands that better than Laura Fitton. Fitton is known in some circles as the “Queen of Twitter” and honestly, I would agree. While talking to her in class on Thursday she admitted to us that she only began Twitter a year ago and even at the beginning there she did not understand it. That’s such an inspiration. To go from confused ot guru in a year is something tangible I can aspire to. I really do want to get good at this, and she gave us many tips on how to be an effective tweeter:

  • Be human. Have conversations. The more real you are the more people will be interesting in what you have to say.
  • It’s not the number of followers you have- with the right five followers you could change the world.
  • Find people on Twitter whose interests line up with your own. It makes it more fun and interesting. Relationships and connections can flourish.
  • It is very important to LISTEN.

Cluetrain Manifesto

Internet Apocalypso

  • Communication on the Internet is inherently different- People are having genuine and uninhibited conversations worth listening to and participating in.
  • The Internet connects people and therefore has given them power.
  • It is necessary now for companies to bring their workforce and market together. Companies must tear down the firewalls between the Internet and intranet and let their employees and markets communicate however and about whatever they want. By allowing this they can find out what the market really wants, what the next big thing may be.

 

Side note: The whole thing sounded a little Fight Club-esque… just maybe a touch more tame.