May 7, 2013
I was taking a break from client work earlier to catch up on items in my newsfeed. A post from Jeff Esposito caught my eye. It’s called “Are you bumping into your coworkers enough?” If you have coworkers you should read it. But I don’t, so why did I?
The same principles apply to those of us who’ve chosen to work independently. To summarize, Jeff says:
- People matter
- Relationships are key
- We need to break silos
As a solo PR person, I often spend my days in front of the computer working, by myself. But I’m really not alone. Facebook and Twitter have made sure that when I need a distraction (or when I don’t need one), they are there to help keep my finger on the pulse on what’s going on around me.
And the Solo PR community is really like having an agency at my fingertips. (Thank you Kellye Crane) If you haven’t, check out the weekly Twitter chat (#solopr) Wednesdays at 1 PM ET. We’ll solve the problems of people world and have a good laugh at the same time. It’s like a virtual coffee break and I try not to miss it.
But I need some “real life” breaks too. I get those by assembling some groups important to me from both my work and personal lives:
First Tuesdays – is a group of past presidents of the local PRSA Chapter. We gather (you guessed it) the first Tuesday of each month for lunch at a casual lunch spot. I send an e-reminder the week before and we promise to talk about those who don’t attend. It’s a great way to hear what’s happening in our community from different perspectives.
Master’s Lunch (okay, this one’s kind of fallen by the wayside) – This is the silo busting group. It’s a PR pro, web designer, strategic consultant and SEO expert who have lunch together once a month. We talk about what’s going on in our business worlds and how we can help each other.
iPad User Group – Yes, we have a group of close friends, all in similar professions, who gather every other Thursday to share new tools we’ve learned on our iPads. Again, I send an e-reminder. This has been a wonderful way for us to talk through tools we’ve found that make our work lives easier. We also talk about tools that don’t work and show each other fixes on our iPads. And, don’t worry…we won’t laugh too hard when we learn you don’t know how to back-up or sync your iTools.
Girlfriends Lunch – About four or five years ago, my best local friends and I decided to give each other the gift of time for Christmas. So, we have lunch the second Wednesday of each month. If it’s your turn to pay it’s also your turn to choose the restaurant. Since we’re also food lovers, we almost always check out new restaurants in town. This lunch is more personal where we talk about our kids – and our husbands – and more personal issues in our lives.
As an independent consultant, I know it’s my responsibility to set up these check-ins that give me a semblance to being in an office. I have to schedule time for them, and organize them because they are important to me. Of course, I also make time for my husband and our two sons, but that’s a completely different post.
What do you do to make sure you’re staying involved and aware of the world beyond your computer?
March 13, 2013
Over the past week or so I have heard this common refrain about social media…It’s not hard. Just get an account and do it.
I have been naïve to think we were beyond where businesses think social media is the easy road to increased profits and takes no planning or skill. For businesses to be successful socially, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Having a presence in social media should be part of the communications or marketing planning. Social media is one of the new tools communicators and marketers have in their toolbox along with traditional tools. Begin by asking a series of questions such as:
- What is it we want to do?
- What do we want to say?
- Who do we want to hear us?
- How will we know we’ve been successful?
- What are people saying about us now?
Once these questions are answered, it’s time to take a look at the tools to see which combination might be best. Traditional tools like press releases, signage, brochures and newsletters are likely still important. But businesses should look at adding a couple social networks as well, depending on the plan.
Each social network has different characteristics so one size doesn’t fit all. Demographic information is available for most social networks through the good folks at Pew Research.
Choose One or Two
Social media is about listening, responding, posting and engaging. If you’re not doing all of those things, you’re missing an important part of the picture. And that’s where starting small comes in. Don’t try to be everywhere but instead start with a plan to be social on one or two networks. Then grow as success comes, and the comfort level grows.
Even if you’re not engaging on more than one network, listen in to what’s being said about your company and your competition on other networks. Set up key word searches and Google Alerts to make sure you’re listening, even if you’re not ready to engage.
There’s an expectation in the social realm that you’ll respond, and fairly quickly. That’s where the social part comes in. It’s not about shouting & talking. It’s about chatting and having a conversation. It’s about solving problems. It’s about sharing news that the person wants to hear using the language that’s been crafted for the tool.
Probably need a Policy
Not wanting to gum up the works, but businesses that have employees handling their social media likely need to draft some simple guidelines and rules. These guide the employee and protect both the company and the employee. It’s also a good check to make sure you’re really ready.
What else do you wish organizations understood?
If you’re an organization getting started, what else do you like to know?
Image: 8 Eyes Photography via Flickr, CC 2.0
February 4, 2013
Sunday’s Super Bowl was a nail biter; many say decided on the last play. For those of us in communications it was often the ads and surrounding conversation that held our attention.
In general I was a bit disappointed with the ads. There was the annual tasteless sex in Go Daddy and the blatant sexual overtones of the Calvin Klein ad. The beer ads were their usual boring selves and…I could go on. But I want to focus on four that stood out for me:
Jeep’s Tribute to the US military
Veterans returning from overseas duty get to nearly all of us and the Jeep ad was no exception. Oprah’s voiceover only added to the emotion of this spot. But did it sell Jeeps? Maybe not but it likely helps the brand.
Dodge’s Ode to the American Farmer
My youngest brother is a farmer, keeping my grandparent’s farm in our family and making sure our children understand how food gets to the table. The ad was a fitting tribute to one of the hardest working and least understood aspects of our society. But, like the Jeep ad, I’m not sure it sold any Dodge trucks.
Budweiser’s Clydesdale ad
I’m a sucker for Clydesdale ads and it seems everyone agrees as the ad took the #1 slot. They tell a human story with such emotion. Also, this ad included a social media tie-in with Budweiser’s first Twitter account to name the foal in the ad. This ad reinforced the Clydesdale’s place in our heart yet again. Still makes me a bit teary.
While not in the list of top five ads of the Super Bowl, Oreo definitely won the social media battle. Their ad, set in a library, was well received and sent thousands to their promotion on Instagram…cookie vs crème (all crème here). Then the lights went out in the Superdome and Oreo posted on social channels the tweet that communicators have been talking about since.
By getting a message out as quickly as they did, the company showed the difference between “doing” and “being” social. Of course, all the people were in the room at the right time to approve and execute the concept but that gets into the nitty gritty. Oreo’s social media team is obviously empowered to make instant decisions because they have the trust of the company.
It’s really important for organizations to understand that just doing social media isn’t all that’s needed today.
Organizations need to start living social.
They must understand the audiences and engage. It’s not enough anymore to post without responding. It’s not enough to post without reading the chatter that’s around your post.
The culture within the organization needs to include complete trust in the social media team to make on-the-spot decisions.
These are just some of the things I discuss with clients considering a new or expanded social media presence. Sometimes the answer is to wait to establish a presence until the company’s culture is ready. But we’re also reaching a point where social media is such a critical part of the communication mix, it’s more important than ever to have a presence. So, it’s time to change that culture, establish trust in the communications team, and bust down the silos to make it happen.
Is your company ready? What will it take to get ready? Because people are already talking about your organization and really wish you were listening.
January 8, 2013
Over the holidays I began to see more people (and I already thought there were a lot) talking about concerns surrounding privacy. I’ve long subscribed to the rule that if you don’t want to see your words in a New York Times headline, keep them to yourself. However, many people don’t see things that way. And many have been hit by not keeping things private.
A few things happened over the holidays that caused me to look a bit harder:
- Instagram planned to use the pictures “I” posted on their platform in advertising. User backlash over the proposed changed in the privacy clause in the terms of service was so intense they backed down. But for how long?
- Netflix is looking at sharing “my” movie orders on my social pages, like Facebook.
- Then the Wall Street Journal reported there’s no avoiding Google Plus as they are requiring a Google log-in to access all their products.
- Employers are no longer allowed to ask prospective employees for password access to social media accounts.
What’s interesting in these four instances is that the older audiences (and yes I put myself there) are up in arms over this seeming loss of privacy while the younger generation (teens through 30) are saying “c’est la vie.” Employers are reviewing social media profiles of prospective employees to make sure they’re socially ready for employment while younger people are asking “what’s the big deal”? Have digital natives become so dependent on their digital life that they don’t mind sharing it all?
On the other side of things, my two teens have basically abandoned Facebook because it doesn’t offer them enough substance anymore. It was just too mindless. One is not really using social media anymore while the other has migrated to Twitter and Instagram. While these two instances may not be the beginning of a trend, it’s definitely something to watch.
And, for Facebook, as the “older generation” becomes their mainstay, I believe privacy issues could very definitely be their demise. The ability to connect with one’s grade school colleagues is great but maybe not if selling one’s soul is also required.
What do you think? Is privacy more important than the friends you’ve connected with? Will you connect your accounts as Google is asking? Have we all just said good bye to privacy?
January 20, 2012
Living in an area that’s such a distance from the Lower 48/rest of the United States (AKA Outside) has many challenges, and even more benefits. Our cold and snowy winters are just one of the challenges we embrace living in Alaska. This year has been no exception…in fact the snowfall has been exceptional.
Many of us “make it through” winter with the promise of trips Outside to warmer places. Since it’s very difficult and time consuming to drive, we rely on air travel. That’s why when there’s a storm Outside that affects air travel we all take notice. We probably know someone affected.
This week’s snow and ice storm in the Pacific Northwest dramatically affects Alaskans because our hub, Seattle, is essentially shutdown. My Twitter and Facebook feeds are full of folks stuck in Seattle, Houston, Portland, etc., all trying to get home. The news covers stories from passengers trying to get out.
What’s amazing is how folks are just riding the wave and adjusting, even while frustrated. The common theme is Alaska Airlines and how well they are communicating with customers via social media tools. Using Facebook and Twitter especially, the airline regularly updates its followers with travel schedules. Reading the comments and following along they are engaging stranded customers one-on-one and offering suggestions, sympathy and even injecting humor. As a result their customers are, for the most part, relatively content to ride this out.
Does this take an investment on the part of Alaska Airlines? Definitely it does, but it also appears to be paying dividends for customers who appreciate the follow-up and the treatment. Is everyone happy? Goodness no, but the “thank yous” are far outweighing the #fails.
Because many people are likely beginning their trips in areas not affected by the storm and therefore might not understand what’s really happening in Seattle, Alaska Airlines posted pictures of its icy planes on Facebook. They tweeted them as well, helping people understand the situation. I mean…who would question why a flight is delayed or cancelled after seeing a plane that looks like that!
In this age where we always focus on the bad customer service and the poor use of social media, it’s important to also talk about the organizations that are doing it correctly. And, it’s also important for us, as customers, to say thanks. I did that yesterday…did you? And then there’s their mileage program…but that’s another post!
Do you have examples of good customer service that makes you more loyal? What company and why?