I'm really blown away by how many large and important businesses leave their social media management or online community manager position to their interns. What in the world are they thinking?
In this post, I'd like to share with you why I think your PR agency should also manage your social media.
1. Above Par Communication Skills. PR people communicate for a living. A PR person doesn't go into PR unless he or she is a good communicator, good writer, and good with people. Life experiences and proper PR training counts - and an experienced PR agency can offer that right out of the gate. Don't forget that social media requires an immense amount of communication skills - which your PR agency has been trained in from the start.
2. Focus on Total Cohesion. PR people can smoothly marry your PR efforts with your social media efforts. Did your PR agency get you a hit in a major magazine? They can easily amplify that PR by mentioning it on social media, tagging the major parties involved, and celebrating the coverage cross-channel.
3. Great Problem Solvers. PR people are often some of the best problem solvers I know. They know how to handle customer service issues that arise on social media, just as they know how to handle a difficult reporter or client. They are always thinking about the best way to position their clients in the best light even when they're against all odds.
4. Fully Embraces Engagement. PR people are focused on engagement first and foremost. Just as PR people help companies engage with reporters, they too can help a company engage with their fans. They serve as a great go-between for the company owners, sales staff, customers/fans, and a technology/SEO agency. One company I used to do PR for used an SEO company to handle its social media. Every Facebook post and Tweet was a sales pitch - it drove me crazy that the company was willing to alienate fans to make a fast buck. PR people know that like PR, social media is truly about engagement, relationships, and a smart approach.
5. Has a Can-Do Attitude. PR people are focused on customer and client service at all times. They have a can-do attitude when it comes to communicating with all parties and findings solutions to make their clients, reporters and fans simultaneously happy.
Do you agree that your PR agency should also manage your social media? Why or why not?
While I was browsing Facebook last week, I came across a post by the Wall Street Journal announcing that Warren Buffett was joining Twitter. Ironically it was on the same day that he was announcing an essay he wrote explaining why women are key to America’s prosperity.
With enthusiasm, I logged in to my Twitter account and immediately began to follow him. While Twitter was abuzz about Mr. Buffett’s new account, as someone who formerly worked in the financial services industry, I was quite familiar with many of Mr. Buffett’s successful companies and work with non-profits. What I didn’t know about was some of his more recent endeavors, one of which was established a few years ago and targeted children. Why is that so surprising? Well, I tend to think of myself as having my finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the parenting world – after all – I am a parent that has spent the last 5 years working on PR and Social Media campaigns targeting families.
So, what is this endeavor he’s involved with? It seems that Mr. Buffett has worked with a grouping of nonprofits to create a supercool educational series of webisodes called The Secret Millionaire’s Club designed to teach children about fiscal responsibility, with lessons about investing in yourself (“the more you learn, the more you earn”) and entrepreneurship. Not being a cartoon lover, I watched a few minutes and then listened in the background to the storylines. I loved everything that I heard and couldn’t wait for my nine-year old daughter to get home from school to share it with her. We struggle with getting through the idea of saving for the future, however she has been bitten by both the entrepreneurial bug and is a budding philanthropist, so I had a good feeling she would be excited, inspired and entertained.
What happened from there is a great example of how social media can transcend beyond the Twitter and Facebook pages and into direct action. She had a sleepover planned and she asked to watch an episode or two with her friends – they loved it so much, they watched 5 webisodes!! The next day she and her 6-year-old brother watched several more in the car as we were travelling about. What was fascinating was that my husband and I were listening in and finding the webisodes informative and good reminders to us as business professionals, citizens and consumers too. Through our conversations in the car, my children now know who Warren Buffett is, why he is so successful, and how they, too, can achieve greatness in life and business if they set goals and work hard towards achieving them.
The part of this story that was disappointing, however, was to see the low usage of social media to help introduce and engage the target audience to share the “Secret Millionaire’s Club” so it isn’t quite so “secret” anymore. So here is why Warren Buffet should consider hiring Red Jeweled Media:
- Facebook/Twitter Moms are on these social media sites, they look to learn from their trusted peers on the latest and greatest in products, services, information, and advice. A goal should be to strive to engage a larger audience beyond 1,200 Facebook Fans and a mere 200 Twitter Fans.
- With such a brilliantly written essay on the ‘Power of Women in America’, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a large fan base (the online and connected women of America) already established to help further promote this new essay?
- Legacy – can you imagine the impact of truly capturing more children/teens with the messages instilled in your programming of Secret’s Millionaires Club and getting some of these teens to start having these conversations online? We can. We see many further partnerships with organizations that are constantly on the hunt for new ways to teach children about saving and investing – How about the Boys and Girls Scouts of America for instance? I’d bet that would help garner a larger following and further your goals for Secret Millionaires Club.
We have lots more ideas on how to reach women and moms in America, Mr. Buffett. We welcome a call from you and your team to help reach this audience you are “bullish” about!
Business owners often miscalculate the need for their product in the marketplace. Many wide-eyed entrepreneurs believe they are going to "strike it rich" almost immediately. In truth, no business can survive without effective marketing. Many small businesses make the mistake of placing poorly-phrased large advertisements in local newspapers or online media. However, if the message contained within the advertisement is not properly constructed, the ad may not generate enough revenue to even cover its cost.
Below are four simple steps, which can help business owners create, manage, and build an effective brand through the correct use of PR or publicity. It doesn’t matter whether you are just starting out or re-vamping an existing business – these PR tips can help just about any business create brand awareness and credibility.
1. Consider every facet of your business to find a newsworthy hook. Are you launching new products, hiring new staff, or releasing a new website or blog? Make sure your story is unique and interesting to your audience. If it sounds like a fluff piece, reporters and editors will not publish it. Journalists seek to deliver compelling news to their readers - so your company's story must be captivating.
2. Make sure your PR materials are current. This includes press releases and press kits. When a media professional calls you, make sure the materials are ready to be sent out immediately. If not, the editor or journalist may pass you by. Journalists, editors, and reporters work under tight deadlines, so you have to be ready to go when they call.
3. Take your press releases online. Register at free and paid sites such as www.prnewswire.com, www.pr.com, www.prweb.com, and www.businesswire.com. Thousands of media professionals scour the Internet for new stories, so you might end up with the release picked up on a blog, in a newsletter, or with a review on a website. Additionally, the more links you have to your website or blog, the better it will help with search engine marketing.
4. Publishing articles for various article content directories and publications instantly boosts credibility. Bylined articles give you the opportunity to provide your unique insight into your areas of expertise. For example, if you are in the fashion industry, you could write about emerging spring trends, the newest styles on the runway, the most flattering clothes body types, etc. As a general rule, blog posts should be approximately 400 to 500 words, and feature articles should be approximately 700 words or longer.
The more you write, the better known and more credible you become. If you gain enough recognition in your field of expertise, you can tout yourself as an industry expert. Before you know it, publications may approach you to write on a paid basis.
We have been helping a client get some PR coverage for her exciting design business. It's not an easy business to promote for several reasons:
- We can't give away free samples because the product is too expensive.
- The business is very local, so we can only hit up one market.
- We are the second PR agency to attempt to get this business PR, so the track record isn't there.
- Plus, the business is very, very specialized, and not mass.
Before accepting this project, we had to test client. Would they be willing to give us at least six months to work on this? Yes! Would they be patient and understanding that it takes some time to get PR? Yes! Would they allow our PR agency to try various angles and be flexible in our approach/pitch? Yes! Would they keep the faith, knowing that things wouldn't happen right away? Yes!
We're nearing the end of our six month contract with this client, and we are proud to report that they held up their end of the bargain. As a result, we scored a handful of great coverage for them, including a really nice four-minute segment on their local morning news station.
The moral of this story is simple. Keep your patience in PR. Never lose faith or sight of your end goal. If you work hard enough on your media relations efforts, something is bound to fall into place - it did for us and our amazing client too!
A few weeks ago we released our Blogger Intelligence Survey uncovering what bloggers want when it comes to working with PR agencies and brands.
I decided to do this survey from a personal interest. As a long-time PR professional, I was beginning to see that pitching bloggers was a different beast. In traditional PR, you pitch your story and then the reporter decides if it’s of interest for coverage in their magazine, newspaper, TV program or website. For several years, we [PR people] were taking the same pitch approach with bloggers as we did with journalists and it seemed to work just fine.
However, over the past year, I noticed things were changing. Bloggers were becoming more popular, forceful and in-demand by PR people. Brands were recognizing this shift and began incorporating blogger programs in their PR campaigns, particularly in the parenting world where many of our clients do business.
Slowly but surely we began to see a shift. When we pitched a blogger, rather than tell us if they were interested in covering it or not, they would express their interest AND share their fees for a sponsored post. I assure you, only if a blogger was truly interested in the brand would they express interest in writing a post, but more and more bloggers were responding to our pitches with fees attached.
Like any curious person, I wanted to explore what this meant for bloggers, brands and marketers alike. That’s what led me to do the survey.
The findings did not shock me. We found that the vast majority of parenting bloggers desire some sort of compensation for pitches presented to them by brands. Bloggers said that they believed they should be compensated for the hard work they put into their blogs and into to building an audience brands desired to reach. Their hard word would be in vain if they gave access to their highly desired readership away for free. They see writing a post as a means of not only sharing the brand with their fans, but as a means for promoting that brand like a hardworking marketer would do.
The rules of working with parenting bloggers were changing – and compensating a blogger was okay even though compensating a journalist forever remains taboo.
Our Red Jeweled Media team debated how to handle this issue of compensation many times. Should we do it? Shouldn’t we? How do we handle this topic with clients eager to work with parenting bloggers, but who, like us, have been trained that compensation to a reporter or journalists is a big no-no.
In this survey, it’s blatantly clear to me that bloggers don’t see themselves as journalists; they see themselves as distinctly bloggers… and when it comes to working with brands and PR agencies, they see themselves as agents or brokers of their readers. If you want to reach the audience they’ve spent years building, AND if they think your brand is swell, then they will most likely write about your brand in exchange for compensation. I simply tell our clients that they need to put bloggers in a separate category with separate rules too. They are writers. When they like something they put their names and reputations behind it. They will work hard marketing a brand they like, but they do desire appreciation and compensation for their efforts like any marketer would.
If you're a PR agency or marketing director for a brand conducting a mom blogger campaign, and you want to work with bloggers, heed this advice:
- Build in Compensation. Be prepared to pay anywhere from $25-$250 per sponsored blog post depending on a blogger’s audience and fees. Always disclose in your pitch that compensation is negotiable and you’re willing to pay.
- Be Prepared for “No.” Just because you’re willing to pay a blogger doesn’t mean they’ll write about you. Many parenting bloggers are fiercely protective of what they put in front of their readers and only accept offers they can put their names behind. Read a blogger’s blog to see if they’ll write about anything under the sun, or if they’re choosey about what they feature. The choosy ones are often worth every penny you pay them to work with you.
- Disclosure. Discuss with a blogger their process for disclosing to their readers that they were compensated for the post. Everything should be disclosed to readers and you should initiate this discussion if they don’t.
- Upfront Client Discussion. Never enter into a compensation agreement with a blogger without first discussing this with your clients. Your client may need a little coaching, as many believe compensation in exchange for a review is a no-no. You can make them feel better about this process by sharing the Red Jeweled Media Blogger Intelligence Report with them, and by having full transparency throughout the process. We have several clients who want blogger coverage; before we even accept such a project we made sure our clients understood the compensation process.
- Other Rules Apply. Remember, even though many parenting bloggers require compensation, you still need to follow the rules of good pitching. Personalize your pitches, gauge their interest in your pitch (don’t demand), treat them kindly, be responsive and manage the relationship professionally and thoroughly. Never spam a blogger with self-promotional and boring press releases; rather only pitch them things that you genuinely think they’d be interested in (this means you need to do your homework on each and every blogger just as you would with any journalist you pitch).
So what do parenting bloggers really want? The answer is not easy, certain, nor firm; rather it’s an ever-evolving process. At the end of the day, every blogger is different and must be treated as the unique and talented professionals they are whether they see themselves as a marketer or agent of your brand, or a tried and true journalist at heart.
Friday we all stopped in our tracks when we heard the horrible news out of Connecticut. So many innocent children and staff had been killed in a senseless act of violence. Most of us were shocked, speechless. But it didn’t take long for the chatter to start… all over social media and the blogosphere.
This is both the blessing and the curse of a wired world with 24 hour news coverage and uncensored commentary on a global stage. As a business owner, it is even more critical to stop and think before you comment in times of national crisis, like the tragedy in Connecticut.
Just minutes after the news broke, business twitter accounts and Facebook pages began offering condolences to the families of the victims. From giants like Starbucks to the small mom and pop shops locally, the event was acknowledged. To ignore the event, and go on with regular marketing tweets and posts, did not feel like the right thing to do for many businesses.
But some were too quick to get a message out, and ended up with a bitter backlash. Kmart was one of those who got it wrong.
According to Bloomberg Business Week, around noon East Coast time, when the shooting began to filter onto news networks and social media, Kmart was in the middle of a ‘Twitter party’ to promote the company’s Fab! 15 Toys campaign. The official Kmart Twitter account sent out this message:
Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this terrible tragedy. #PrayforNewtown #CTShooting#Fab15Toys
Twitter users jumped on what appeared to be an exploitation of the event for marketing purposes by using their Fab 15 hashtag, and Kmart issued an apology Friday evening:
“Kmart used #Fab15Toys earlier today to notify participants of a Twitter chat that it was ending early due to the tragedy in Connecticut. The hashtag is necessary to notify chat participants of the message. This was not used for any promotional reasons, simply to communicate our cancellation and our message of sympathy to the participants.”
For most people it was not an adequate reason, and came a little too late in the world of instant information.
It’s a misstep that has happened before:
In August, before they heard about the mass shooting in Aurora, or paused to do their research, fashion site CelebBoutique caused outrage online after commenting on the trending #Aurora hashtag with this:
#Aurora is trending, clearly about our Kim K inspired #Aurora dress ;)
Another misstep came during Hurricane Sandy. American Apparel sent an email blast to their subscribers, offering 20 percent off items in storm-affected areas during the 36 hours that Sandy was expected to be slamming the East Coast.
So what can we learn from these mistakes, and the mistakes made in the early hours of reporting from the news outlets? A few things:
First is Not Always Best
This may seem counterintuitive in our culture of instant gratification, and our drive to get out ahead of the competition. But with something this sensitive, it is better to wait until you have solid information from solid sources before saying anything.
While Twitter is the best at confining our comments, you don’t have to use up all the characters they allow. And a long diatribe on Facebook could put off some of your followers. Sometimes just a few words of sorrow or condolences are best. No need to add in hashtags, quotes or long commentary.
Families are grieving and your followers are listening, so be tactful. And be brief.
When in Doubt, Say Nothing at All
Better to be silent than to lose customers or loyal fans because you spoke too soon or said something that can be misconstrued as self-serving or insensitive. Times of tragedy are truly a private time for those affected. Find less visible ways to help or show support.
We will never be perfect in confusing times like these, so it is important to admit when you have made a mistake as a business owner. Honesty is more respected than spin, and in the awkward collision of tragic events with social media, it is better to speak from the heart than put on a front that is not authentic to who you are.
With 2013 nearly upon us, we decided to look into our magic Red Jeweled Media crystal ball to see what the New Year would bring to the public relations (PR) and marketing world.
Here are some of our observations on what trends I think will impact PR and marketing this year.
More Content Driven Press Releases
Gone are the days of the traditional press release. In 2012, we saw more SEO tactics integrated into press release development so that news could be more accessible in an online keyword search. This year, I think we’ll see more content-driven releases – think social media and video releases that will inspire audiences to interact with a press release rather than just a straight-forward announcement.
More Targeted Social Media Campaigns
This year, Red Jeweled Media became more focused on active social listening campaigns in our social media programming to help our clients reach an audience that was currently in need of a certain product or service. This year, we’ll continue to seek out highly targeted audiences using social media channels.
Bloggers Are The New Media Influencers
Blogs used to be an online proxy for the diary. Not so anymore. Entrepreneurial moms and savvy marketers have made careers and developed their own brands from their daily diatribes. This “new media” has become a necessary tool for spreading a product’s message and reach. PR pros will continue to engage influential bloggers and social media mavens to acquire “brand ambassadors” and blogger panels for their clients.
Maintaining a Voice
In 2013, it will be paramount for brands and companies to continue to engage current and potential customers in the social media and online spheres. If a company goes dark, they jeopardize alienating a new type of consumer that looks to online and social media channels to learn more and interact with companies.
Would you like to talk about your plans for 2013 and how our PR campaigns, social media marketing efforts or mom blogger campaigns might help your company achieve its goals? Contact us today for a free consultation.
There goes an old saying, “You get what you pay for.”
When your business has a conservative marketing budget, it might be tempting to hire a so-called public relations professional who costs less than the others. Before you hire that person or agency, it’s important to ask, "How much professional experience does s/he have?" Some people have extensive PR backgrounds and were professionally trained, while others have simply given themselves the moniker “PR professional” with little knowledge or training.
Several years ago, a group of mommy bloggers started their own “PR agency.” While they are savvy women, they are not tried and true PR professionals. This distinction is important because there are a lot of misconceptions about what people who work in public relations do. Therefore, there are also a lot of misconceptions about the kind of knowledge and experience a person needs to execute a professional public relations campaign.
I once had a prospective client ask me, “Why should I hire you just to send emails around when I can do that myself?” Is that all he thinks I do?
Another prospective client once asked me, “Couldn’t I just do my own social media? I know how to post to Facebook.” Is that all she thinks is involved?
Though many business owners think they can do their own PR – or worse, ask a friend or relative for ad hoc “public relations” tips - there is one major benefit to hiring a professional public relations agency… a professional PR pro can help you do things right the first time and often prevent a crisis from exploding.
In one recent instance by the mommy blogger PR agency I mentioned, a major brand hired them to run a campaign. It came to light that the agency workers were emailing friends and offering them free product and major brand discounts in exchange for “positive” coverage about a new program the brand had launched.
When the readers of the blogs that had accepted the ‘compensation’ found out about it, they rallied against the company and there was a large social media outburst against the brand, creating an ultimately negative situation for all involved, including the agency’s client!
What this "PR agency" should have done was run an honest blogger campaign, hiring bloggers to write about the campaign however they like (nor requiring “positive” coverage) and asking bloggers to properly disclose that they were compensated for their efforts. These are lessons they should have known and which shouldn't have been learned on a client's dime.
As a business owner, it’s okay if you don’t know best practices for distinguishing between paid online advertorial and earned online editorial, but your public relations representative absolutely must. When you are working with a person who knows “how to get the word out” but does not know the intricacies of the public relations, advertising and publishing industries, it can be detrimental to your business and create a PR nightmare.
Last week, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer was asked how she manages to do it all. She responded that she "ruthlessly prioritizes" her time. She says she puts G-d first, then her family, then Yahoo!
What Ms. Mayer said rang true for me in a very personal way. I ruthlessly prioritize my time and sometimes it's not easy nor glamorous to do. For example, I often get emails from students wanting to interview me for their school projects. I also get invited to a ton of "coffees" with different people I meet who want to "pick my brain" or just "chat." While I'd love to help, I simply can't if I'm ruthlessly prioritizing my time. I always feel bad saying, "no", but agree that one day, when my kids are grown, I will have more time to help others - in fact, it'll be my sense of duty to do so and pay it forward.
Ms. Mayer's sentiments also rang true with me professionally. Last week on the Red Jeweled Media blog, I talked about avoiding distractions and staying focused. We are all guilty of spreading ourselves too thin and forgetting about the business that we love and the one that actually pays the bills. If you're a business owner, think about how you can ruthlessly prioritize where you focus your time and where it's most effective for you.
Further, if you're a business owner interested in doing or already doing PR and marketing, it's also important to ruthlessly stay focused. You can easily get bogged down with different tools, platforms, efforts, etc. all promising this and that. You must prioritize your efforts and keep track of what is working best for your business with the least amount of resources required from you. Think about how you can hone in on one or two marketing efforts and really do them well rather than doing a little of everything just alright.
Do you feel you need to ruthlessly prioritize your life, business, PR efforts or anything else? Please share your stories in the comments section.
Diagnosing a business's PR and social media marketing needs is one of my favorite things to do as the owner of this PR agency. I love exploring with business owners and marketing professionals what they're doing, what's working, what's not working, why they want my help, etc.
Once I spend about 30-60 minutes talking with someone, I can usually make an accurate diagnosis of what's going on and how Red Jeweled Media can help, if we can.
Here are common problems people have and the recommendations we often make as a result:
My product isn't carried in mainstream stores - help!
This is a common issue that traditional PR can usually solve. If a company wants to get its products into Target, Walgreens, Whole Foods, Kroger, Nordstrom or another mainstream store, it needs to have some "street cred." Large department, drug, grocery and specialty stores want to carry products that they know will sell; after all, shelf space is limited. PR can go a long to getting a buyer to notice and believe that your product will sell if they put it on the shelf.
My online traffic stinks - help!
When someone's online traffic is bad, we can usually help their traffic improve via a blogger campaign or by doing some good old-fashioned PR. Usually links from high profile news sites or well-ranked blogs can boost a website's organic search 10-fold. Another way to improve traffic is by writing daily or weekly blog posts - posts that are keyword-optimized help the most. Companies with a blog gets 52% more traffic than those without a blog (Source: Hubspot).
No one knows about me - help!
Companies often approach us saying that no one knows about them and/or no one is talking about them. Word of mouth marketing is the solution we might recommend. A great way to boost word of mouth about your brand is via a strategic and creative blogger campaign. Further, traditional PR, as well as a good social listening campaign, can also work wonders for getting people to know and talk about you!
My customers don't come back - help!
For a company constantly churning out new products or services, has a large variety of products and services to offer, or needs customers to subscribe to their services every month, forming positive and lasting relationships with customers is often the key to success. Customers who feel they have a relationship with your brand will often come back time and time again. Social media is often the best way to create a relationship with past and future customers - just remember that your social media should be fun, informative and exciting and non-promotional! Another great way to create a positive relationship with customers is through a well-written, weekly or monthly enewsletter that reminds customers you exist and informs them of new products, promotions, etc.
These are just a few of the solutions we offer for common marketing problems we see. How would you solve some of the problems we talked about in this post?