Tech PRose

February 8, 2011

21st Century PR Firm?

Filed under: B2B,Dennis Collins,Marketing & Public Relations — techimage @ 9:55 am

When something truly different comes along, it is typically compared to the current status quo – i.e., the conventional wisdom.  Back in the early 1980’s I was involved in launching many of the first personal computers (think Radio  Shack, Commodore, Atari , Apple).  The conventional wisdom was to say that these devices could balance your checkbook (replacing your calculator) or function like a typewriter, only better.  Back then, I often heard people deride PCs as overpriced toys that were only doing what could be done with a paper, pen or slide rule.  They were missing the point, but it bears repeating in this day and age – What’s important to note is not the Shiny Object, it’s the Trend.  And we can’t ignore trends just because we don’t agree with them or don’t like them – they exist independent of our wishes.

The dramatic rise of blogging along with Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn has brought many to declare the end of the print publishing industry.  Magazine subscriptions are down, and online versions are struggling.  Publishers look to the music industry’s meltdown as a glimpse of their future, and are trying to figure out how to stop it.  Meanwhile, the film and video industry is watching both and worrying that their time is next.

So in the hopes of finding the middle ground, I raise this observation.  Social media is here to stay – The Trend is immediacy, transparency and interactive dialog among people, combining facts with opinions more freely than ever.  In a business setting, this means the audience can determine the appropriate level of each for their own comfort when making a buying decision.  Like it or not, it is what it is.  So, how we leverage this to our advantage should be the key issue, not which tool to use. The one thing I can say with utmost confidence is that focusing on the Shiny Object is the wrong approach.  Remember AOL, CompuServe and Netscape?  They are sideline memories today – yet they were instrumental in building the foundation for today’s Internet and were touted as the next generation of business leaders in their (short) time.

As members of a co-dependent industry to all of this, marketing communications professionals are also wary.  There is much debate about the efficacy of online or offline advertising and the dwindling base of editors that make up PR’s output.  And the issues around social media continue to clutter our email inboxes:  Should corporations have Facebook profiles? What about blogging and tweeting? Do I really have to keep track of it all?

Now that we’re well into this century, it’s time to reflect on how technology has really changed marketing communications.  I feel that the 21st Century PR firm needs to adapt to the new channels of open communication if it is to remain relevant.  Providing value to clients is always the primary goal, but the value metrics are shifting. We’ve always been focused on connecting a client with an influencer who represents an audience.  Nothing has changed except the tools – we have a wider pool of influencers to address through more channels than ever.  That’s good news!  But it means that the role we play, the value we provide, and the way we get compensated are in a state of flux.  I have some thoughts as to how to address it, which I will elaborate on later.  But I’d like to hear from others, in agencies and corporations.

What are you doing to modify your value proposition?

What are you being asked to do by your bosses/clients?

Has your daily routine shifted – and are you happy with it?

Let me hear your thoughts.

— by Dennis Collins

January 31, 2011

Bears QB injury shows the ugly side of Twitter

Filed under: Ken Krause,Marketing & Public Relations,Reviews,Social Media — techimage @ 5:05 pm

Technology marketers who continue to believe that what happens on social media outlets such as Twitter doesn’t matter can learn a lesson from Jay Cutler. The Chicago Bears quarterback injured his knee late in the second quarter of the NFC title game against the Green Bay Packers. He returned to the field briefly at the start of the third quarter, then sat out the rest of the game.

The event itself wasn’t particularly unusual. Football is a violent, brutal game, and nowhere is it more violent and brutal than the NFL. Players are hurt and sit the rest of the game out all the time.
What was unusual was the instant reaction that followed. Ordinary fans, former players and even current players began bashing Cutler for being a wimp almost immediately. They wondered how he could abandon his teammates in the midst of a title game, questioned his motives, his courage and his very manhood. Before you knew it – and before any of us knew the actual extent of his injury – there was a huge firestorm of popular sentiment on the Internet, most of it decidedly anti-Cutler.

What’s interesting, of course, is that the trauma of him sitting out the second half completely overshadowed the fact that he was completely ineffective the first half when he was playing, missing wide-open receivers and generally not looking like a quarterback who was going to lead his team to the Super Bowl. There wasn’t much being said about that, and certainly the media didn’t pick up on what may have been said. But sit out with an injury? That’s national news.

That’s the way it goes in these days of the groundswell. One relatively minor event suddenly blows up and before you know it your company is distracted trying to defend itself from all sorts of wild accusations.

You don’t have to worry much about an MCL sprain to your CEO. But you should be concerned with a frustrated customer who can’t reach anyone in customer service, or doesn’t feel he got a straight answer when he did. A Tweet here, a YouTube video there, and suddenly you could be facing a maelstrom of your own.

Just ask the people at United Airlines. A search on their name on YouTube produces this video as the #1 result, which is not exactly how they want you to think of them. It goes a long way toward undoing millions, maybe even billions, of dollars of advertising and public relations.
Now that the social media genie is out of the bottle there’s no putting him back. Smart companies realize that and prepare for it. They monitor what’s being said about them all the time, and they respond quickly – in many cases even thanking the person who brought the problem to their attention.

That’s where the Bears really fell down. While the speculation about Cutler’s toughness was running wild, there was nothing from the Bears camp to quell it. The word from the sidelines was that Cutler’s knee was “hurt.” What they should’ve said was “it appears to be a sprain, and maybe even torn. We won’t know for sure until the MRI tomorrow.” Instead, they played it close to the vest and let him twist in the wind.

Technology marketers need to learn from that. In this day of instant communication, be honest and transparent. If there is a problem, admit it and say what steps you’re taking to remedy it. If you’re not sure of the cause, say you’re not sure, but you’re aware and have the right people working on it.
Whatever you do, don’t let the masses run amok. In reality the damage to Cutler is temporary – a couple of good wins and it’s all forgotten. But for your company it could have much longer-lasting effects.

Know what conversations are happening around your company and your industry, and be a part of them. Because they’re going to happen whether you’re a part of them or not.

— by Ken Krause

January 27, 2011

Creating a Content Chop Shop

Chop Shop

You’ve just put the finishing touches a killer video for your client. It has taken hours of time to schedule, produce and edit, but the final product is a true masterpiece. Do you sit back, and rest on the laurels of your success?

The folks over at MarketingProfs did not. After publishing an extensive research report entitled State of Social Media Marketing in December of 2009, they took to repurposing their masterpiece. From there, they created a webinar, an article and a series of smaller articles and blog posts with morsels of the original report (source: Ann Handley’s Content Rules), reaching new audiences across various channels, stemming from one piece of content.

This doesn’t mean that your team has to scramble to pen dozens of new, unique pieces of content from scratch every week. Repurposing already created content across traditional and new media channels can be quite effective for a business-to-business communications program, and will keep that content engine chugging and boost search engine optimization(SEO) without the process becoming too much of a time sink.

A company announcement that might have just merited a press release a few years ago can be sliced and diced into a corporate blog post, a topic for discussion on an industry-specific forum on LinkedIn, and even a tweet to share with followers.  Every channel has the opportunity to reach a different audience, whom content should be tailored to resonate and engage with.

Each iteration of your original killer content piece is one component of your overall strategy. When a corporate blog post is part of a thought leadership campaign, a linked tweet can serve to drive traffic to your site. This way, you have a series of small, measurable goals that work towards realizing your overall plan.

Think of it the way Ann Handley, the CCO of Marketing Profs, describes it- “as a content plan fueled by a single Big Idea.”

She elaborates: “The ensuing material can rely on that fuel as source material, allowing for new distribution and new channels, reaching new audiences along the way, and propagating your ideas through social media channels.”

Have you or your clients had success in repurposing content?  Share your stories!

by Dan McDonnell

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