Tag Archives: public relations

Social Media = Two Way Communication…

The bulk of my days consist of brainstorming ideas for clients on how they can use social media to engage their consumers. Those brainstorms then turn into proposals, some of which get passed through, while others fall by the wayside. Though it can be a pretty frustrating job, ideation without promise of creation, there’s a certain level of satisfaction that comes from having pretty candid conversations with clients about how to or in some cases how not to engage with social media. The one piece of advice that I can’t stress enough is – don’t half ass it – of course, put in a more gentler way. 

Consumers aren’t stupid. For years they’ve been bombarded with one size fits all messages that are pushed their way in traditional mediums, but today they know exactly how to tune them out. Better yet, they know how to get the ear of brands, which was unheard of quite a few years back. If you’re going to play in the “social media” world, whether you’re a major consumer brand or an indie musician, there needs to be a level of authenticity. 

Yes, at the end of the day, there are marketing objectives behind using social media tools, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be honest. Don’t just let your customers or fans (in the case of musicians) hear your voice or be privy to “exclusive” content – but be aware of the conversation going on around you or in most cases about you. It’s simply not enough to just read comments or blast out twitter messages to the masses. So what if you have a myspace page, facebook page, or even a YouTube channel. You may gain a few followers here or there, but how are you sustaining that following? 

By using social media but not engaging in two-way conversations with your followers you’re stating two things:

1) their opinions don’t matter

2) you’re jumping on the bandwagon.

Consumer brands, with the help of public relations and marketing professionals, are realizing that they can’t just play in the social media space just to be there. They realize it’s not all fun and games, that the online space can quickly become a very unsociable place. However, if done properly, they can reach consumers in ways never before possible and create unique user experiences that have powerful, long lasting effects. Same goes for musicians, especially indie musicians who are at a distinct advantage over major label artists since they are in complete control of their content and in essence their brand. So, are you using social media the way it was intended?


Dentyne: “Make Face Time…”

It’s rare that I fall for a tv commercial – so when it does, I feel like I need to share it. Last night I was flipping through the channels when I settled on a random station to basically leave on in the background while I downloaded music to my iPod. Then I heard this jolly little tune, “Summer Day” by Coconut Records, followed by a voice-over saying “The Original Instant Message.” I was intrigued – had to see where this was going.

Then the commercial cuts to a shot of guy and girl that kiss quickly. Mr. voice-over returns and declares “Voicemail” while two guys jump into a lake and the camera pans to two girls sharing a secret. Then we see a room full of twenty-somethings chatting/sitting in a room where Mr. voice-over states “Chatroom Full.” Seriously, I was hooked.

Jump to a shot of a bunch of guys playing soccer. One guy scores a goal and subsequently celebrates with his teammates as Mr. voice-over (aka my new best friend) says “Friend Request: Accepted.”

Then it concludes with the sell: “Dentyne, Make Face Time.”

Wow. Really, I’m not one for commercials, but just the fact that they were capable of taking current online trends and integrated them into a commercial that wasn’t overly branded or pushing product at me is exactly what sold me. Now, can I say I’ll honestly go out and buy Dentyne gum as a result? No (sorry, sales team!), but this commercial will stick with me, especially as someone who spends long hours behind emails, social networking sites, profiles, etc for a living.

The message is simple – log off, disconnect, and spend time interacting in the physical world. Let there be physical, tangible experiences in life while not simply relying on technology to express feelings or experience moments. It’s not preachy either. Simple stating – make time for others.

So, I’m ready for some face time — are you?

My ’07 Wrap Up…

So ’07 started out with a bang, literally a race gun that signaled the start of a new year. My friends and I ran in the New York Road Runners New Years Eve Race, a four-mile run around Central Park at the stroke of midnight. Pretty random, but we were looking to do something on New Year’s Eve that didn’t involve drunken debauchery for once and what better way to ring in the new year than with thousands (really, thousands) of strangers in running tights and funny hats. Along the race route were both water stations, champagne stations (more like sparkling cider) and rowdy New Yorkers cheering us on. Check out Sean indulging in some pre-race motivation. At the end of the race, we took a picture with the Emerald Nuts mascot. By far, one of my favorite New Year’s celebrations ever.

Aside from NYE, ’07 was a pretty interesting year to say the least. I traveled a lot, worked hard, had some minor setbacks, met a ton of new people, and even plunged into the world of blogging.

As much as I complain about my job (don’t we all?), I really don’t hate it. I dislike certain things about the particular environment I’m in, but more often than not I do enjoy my work. I’ve been fortunate so far, in my short career, to work with intelligent clients who truly get what it is that PR people do. They’re nice, they’re respectful, demanding of course, but they have the right to be. As a result, I’ve been able to make some great contacts, learn about new technologies, and travel to places I probably would never visit. It’s been fun and challenging along the way, but I can’t help but question is there more that I can be doing. See when you work at a small firm with lots to accomplish and little help, you get burnt out — bogged down by just completing tasks rather than truly engaging in them. That’s when my interest in social media really sparked.

I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of a young Aussie PR guru, Paull Young, through his blog. Paull is wise beyond his years and is quite possibly one of the nicest people I’ve ever encountered. Through our friendship and the help of some social media sites, I’ve been able to connect with other folks with similar interests. (Hi to Amy, Mike, Jeremy, Pesey, Chase, Constantin, Abraham, Kait, Sandy, Stephen, Doug H., Ed, David P., Michael A., and anyone I forgot…). I also attended my first networking event in NYC, Social Media Breakfast, sponsored by Converseon and Aaron Uhrmacher’s company Text100.

Conversing with these folks on a daily basis inspired me to finally create my own blog, which you’re obviously reading right now, as well create The Round Table, a music blog, with a group of friends (shouts to Trop, AP, Opaul, Rodeo and fave commentor Big Mike). See, I’ve always liked discussing topics, sharing opinions with friends, meeting new people, and of course writing. Social media has enabled me to do all these things at once without having to physically be in a million places at the same time. Though I’d take meeting up with friends over emailing with them any day, it’s nice to have options.

Aside from all the social media stuff, I also had some great times with all my long-time buddies (Hi to, Opal, D, Jonny Ice, Nic, Liz, Sean, Mike, Eddie, Mikey, PMillah). Some highlights: concerts (lots of concerts!), vacations, chats over coffee, attended Hip Hop Honors, movies, long/short runs, made a friend in Costa Rica (Hi, Alejandro!), dinners, randomness. You name it, we did it and then some. Oh yeah, and I met Jennifer Garner and became enamored with Fiona Apple (blame Mike and Eddie!).

Overall ’07 was kind to me, but I’m looking forward to ’08.

Social Media Breakfast Wrap Up

I’m a bit late with this wrap up, but I’ve been offline for a few days. On Tuesday morning I attended the first “Social Media Breakfast” in NYC. This was a very casual meet up to get acquainted with other folks interested in social media and communications.

The event was sponsored by Text 100 and Converseon and organized by Aaron Urhmacher and Paull Young. They arranged to have Eric Krangel, Reuters’ virtual world reporter on hand to provide insight as to where he sees social media headed and how journalists and PR pros can work together to create dynamic stories. Being a virtual world reporter, Eric concentrated on Second Life and interesting opportunities for in-world marketing. I’ve dabbled in Second Life a bit, but haven’t really got caught up in it, so it was interesting to get his perspective on it. It was also fascinating to hear about unique marketing campaigns he’s experienced in SL. The main takeaway from the session was that there’s a passionate audience in SL and as communicators we shouldn’t shun them, as they represent a niche market with buying power.

Aside from learning more about virtual worlds, it was a great opportunity to meet up with several folks I converse with (almost) daily either through Twitter, or IM, or email. It’s nice to be able to finally put a face to their avatars or screen names. It was also a pleasure to meet new friends and hopefully stay in touch.

Attending SMB was a great learning experience for me. In PR we’re always talking about building a community, at least, that’s what our goal should be. So it’s nice to see PR professionals out there establishing a community amongst ourselves. I guess to be cliche, it’s practicing what you preach.

Looking forward to the next SMB meet up. Feel free to view pics of the event at my Flickr.

Social Media Breakfast, NYC

Received a tweet from my good friend Paull Young, inviting me to they upcoming Social Media Breakfast in the city on December 11th. Pretty excited about it. I don’t get to attend many events lately as I work outside of the city, so it’ll be nice to finally meet a few of the folks I converse with via email, Twitter and a few other networking sites.

Eric Krangel, virtual world reporter for Reuters, will be on hand for the discussion. Definitely looking forward to hearing some of his thoughts on how social media is impacting the journalism/communications field.

The breakfast is being sponsored by Converseon, Paull’s company, and Text 100. It’s free to attend so if you’re interested in social media and communications, you might want to check out Paull’s blog for more details on registering.

See you there.

Don’t Be Ego…

So I’ve reached my boiling point with a client. Yup, so I have to take it to the blog for a second.

Recently, a client of mine, that will go unnamed, had an incredibly promising meeting with a major consumer publication whose name begins with an “F.” After the meeting the client was very excited about the potential of building this professional relationship, after all, that’s what PR is all about, building relationships, right?!

So a day goes by — we connect with the writer at this major consumer publication — and he’s so amped on what my client does. He proposes the idea of a feature story to appear on the publication’s website. “Great!” we say and take that news back to the client.

All of a sudden, he balks. “What do you mean an online piece? I won’t be in the print publication?” We gently explain, there’s no guarantee of being in both print and online (though in reality there is never a guarantee that a story will ever run to begin with) and urge him to consider this opportunity as a stepping stone to building a great relationship with said major consumer publication with tremendous market influence…

Three weeks have now passed since that initial meeting with the publication and the client refuses to budge. It’s amazing… and it all comes down to ego. Why would a company, who makes its profits in the online space, hold out to be in print? Simply to take that story, stick it in a frame, and hang it on his wall. Or better yet, knowing him, photocopy it and send it to all the people who once made fun of him. Call it a geek’s ultimate revenge, right? Frustrating.

Aside from frustration, it actually makes me laugh. Why you ask? Because all I can picture is me finally breaking down (in the near future) and screaming at my client, in my best Laurie Ann Gibson impression, “I don’t like ego. To be ego and to be jealous. These things are negative for a reason.”

Who’s Laurie Ann Gibson? Formerly the choreographer on Making the Band 3 (MTB 3), Puffy’s P.Diddy’s “reality” show where thousands of girls auditioned to …er…make the band … or make a girl pop group.

Not only did Laurie Ann make sure the group’s dance moves were tight, she also delivered the most random one-liners and inspirational speeches ever caught on tape. The “ego” lecture was one of my favorites. My friends and I would re-enact that scene over and over, but looking back now, Laurie Ann was totally right.

As she so eloquently put it “to be ego and to be jealous” are, in fact, negative things. I’m starting to realize my job isn’t necessarily relating information to the public, it’s about stroking the ego of these CEOs who need constant reassurance and attention. I’m over it.