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Traditional PR

Even though the new form of public relations is emerging, you can’t forget about the traditional tactics. A survey done by Jennifer Leggio of ZDNet questioned company leaders on their public relations agencies. Her purpose of the survey was to find out if social media was really what the clients wanted. She also wanted to find out exactly which agencies are developing social media programs.  One conclusion she came to was that traditional public relations should still be the main focus for clients. Her survey results stated that clients did not find it necessary to use social media. They prefered the traditional means of public relations to publicize their businesses. Another conclusion she made from her survey results was that clients wanted to be educated on social media. They are still skeptical on exactly what social media is and how it can be used for public relations purposes.  81 percent surveyed said they would attend a social media training workshop. For Leggio’s full report click here.

Aspects of public relations that will never go away: press releases, print ads, commercials and research.

Although many pubic relations agencies are sticking to the traditional form of PR, others are incorporating digital media. They are still creating press releases but are now sending them through e-mail and websites.

I think a combination of the two is useful for public relations purposes. You will always run across clients that prefer the traditional public relations and it will become important for you to be able to use that form. If you are planning to continue in the public relations field you will need to make sure you understand the social media aspects. It is going to be a tough trend to keep up with. Websites such as Facebook and LinkedIn add to the public relations sphere. They are websites aimed at forming relationships and connecting with people, which is essentially what public relations is for. The digital side of public relations will only help improve the traditional techniques. Digital cameras make photography instant, e-mail makes press releases easier to send to multiple people and social media makes connecting with people easier.

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Reasons to use social media

Social Media is becoming a well-known tool in the public relations field. Through my research I compiled a list of reasons to use social media:

1. Social media is cheaper – Pretty much any social media website you plan to use is free.

2. Social media allows better targeting – Some social media sites make you approve who sees your profile. This gives you better control over who you share your information with. Facebook and Twitter are known for this.

3. Social Media is fashionable – It’s like a fashion trend that will be around for a long time. Even the most highly respected people use it.

4. Social media can reach a wide audience – Not only is it mostly free, but you can widen your target range. You will only reach so many people with a television commercial, but with social media you can reach audiences all over the globe.

5. Social media interacts with SEO – You can use keywords to make your company profile stand out from the others.

6. Social media creates long-term relationships – Social media gives you the opportunity to share your news and updates with your followers for the long term.

7. Social media allows for customer service and feedback – You can get in contact with the consumer immediately through social media. Your goal is to maintain a positive relationship with the consumer.

8. Social media creates brand loyalty – Updates on the newest brands, coupons and sales keep your customers coming back for more.

9. Social media is versatile – You can pick from a variety of sites: Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, FourSquare. If you just want people to follow you, Twitter might be your pick. If you want people to interact and advertise, Facebook would be a good tool.

10. Social media allows you to help others out – Follow other people and post interesting articles and links that your followers might find interesting.

11. Social media allows you to promote in a short and brief post – It will amaze you what 140 characters will do for your business.

In conclusion, it is time for everyone in public relations to jump on the social media bandwagon. It has a lot of good qualities that will make your promotion and interaction with customers a little more personal. If you are interested in more information on social media click here.

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Public relations and LinkedIn

Tapping into the social media aspect of public relations can be a little intimidating. You do not necessarily think of LinkedIn as a social media website, but in reality it is. LinkedIn’s mission is to contact the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. They allow for professionals to make connections with other professional and trustable contacts. The website currently has over 85 million members. It allows you to connect with peers, co-workers, professors, employees and employers. It is just another way to broaden your growing network of contacts.

LinkedIn is not only useful for current public relations professionals, but can be a great tool for aspiring professionals. LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to upload your entire resume. It then automatically fills in your profile information for you. Once you have a professional profile created you can search for potential employers and companies you would be interested in working for. Remember that your online profile must remain professional. Do not post the embarrassing picture you took last night on your LinkedIn. That could be at turn off to the people you are connecting with. Think of your page as a tool employers use for screening you prior to your interview.

Social Small Biz blogged about the different ways to use LinkedIn successfully for PR.  Here are a few from the list:

1.User-friendly URL – Make sure the URL you create is one that is search engine friendly.

2. Set up a company profile – LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to create an entire profile dedicated to your company. Instead of personal information you can put company information.

3. SEO the company profile – Make sure you use searchable keywords so the profile is easy to find.

4. Create a group – People within the group are able to chat with each other.

5. List all events – Keep an updated schedule of events you are involved in.

6. Run polls – You can use this method when researching for campaigns.

For the entire article from Social Small Biz click here.

Most importantly, use LinkedIn to make connections (because that is what it’s all about). LinkedIn is professional, not personal, so you are sure to make contacts with legitimate people who could one day turn into great professional connections.

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Avoiding a social media flop

The worst thing a public relations executive can imagine is a social media flop. Social media can be very dangerous when not used properly. With that being said, Clay McDaniel, principal and co-founder of Spring Creek Group, gives us some tips on how to avoid a social media disaster:

1. Create a social media policy/community management plan – Your main goal is for your customers to voice their opinions about your brand. You cannot control what upset customers say. It is important to discuss what will not be tolerated on your social media site. Hiring someone whose job would consist of monitoring every social media website you have is a good way to keep your sites monitored.

2. Have an escalation plan – You should be prepared when the negative comments arise. Deciding which comments require immediate response will help you act fast. You should keep the public relations department informed and flag comments you feel should be watched.

3. Plan for the worst – Expect the best-Hopefully you will never have to face any issues on your social media websites, but you should always act like you will. Being prepared will help avoid conflict.

4. Respond quickly, personally and directly – Being honest and personable with the customer will make them feel like they are a valued.

5. Don’t play the blame game – Stand up for your mistakes.

McDaniel’s last tip is to learn from great examples. We can all think of good and bad examples. When Ford was going through its crisis last year its social media leader Scotty Murphy took to Twitter as a means of communication with his followers. A bad example was when Nestle fought back against people altering the logo in connection with its use of products that were killing the rainforest. Instead of taking the blame or offering  incentives to the upset customers, Nestle chose to argue back and forth and threatened to delete anyone using the altered logo. All public relations pros should learn from Nestle. Never insult your customers. Read more about Nestle’s nightmare here.

Public relations connection with social media is very deep. It is something that everyone working in the industry should become familiar with. The tips that McDaniel gave are helpful and should be considered by anyone looking to promote their brand on a social media site. Check out McDaniel’s full article here.

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Landing a job!

As crazy as it may seem, companies are looking to hire social media experts, however; don’t let this job title fool you. You won’t be playing on Facebook and Twitter all day.  With the social media world booming and public relations clinging to the changes you can expect to find wanted ads for digital public relations consultants or social media specialist. What does a person have to do to land one of these jobs? In a story on Mashable by Stephanie Marcus called HOW TO: Land a Career in Digital Public Relations, she provides us with a list of tips to help public relations professionals land the job. She starts by explaining that today’s public relations is quickly conforming to the ways of social media. Many public relations programs do not include digital and social media, so it is a good idea to find classes that will incorporate those two things. She also suggests applying for as many internships as possible.  Next, Marcus suggests that the job seeker know the industry inside and out. You may have a Facebook and a Twitter, but that does not mean you are experienced in the industry. Becoming an active reader on blogs that discuss the industry isn’t a bad idea. Just because you know what is going on with social media now does not mean that you should not look into its future. Next, Marcus suggests being creative. You are not the only one applying for the job. You want to stand out from the crowd.  Create your own personal blog where you discuss the digital public relations trend. You can share this link with potential employers. Lastly, Marcus warns us to know where to draw the line. Do not add potential employers on LinkedIn or Facebook solely because you submitted your resume to their company. You want to come across as determined, not pushy. Do research on the company you are interested in. This should give you an idea of how relaxed the company may or may not be.

If you are interested in finding a job in the public relations field that is based around social media, here are a few skills employers are looking for:

  • Communication skills
  • Writing skills
  • Top-notch social skills
  • Enthusiasm

For a brief explanation of these tips and more tips on landing a social media job click here.

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Public relations and Twitter

Twitter is a real-time network that delivers ‘what’s happening now’ news to millions of users with the click of one button.  With Twitter being offered in French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish you can reach anyone in any country. Who twitters? With 105 million users the question we should be asking is who doesn’t twitter? From businesses to students to CEO’s to celebrities it is hard to find a person who doesn’t, at the bare minimum, follow people on Twitter. But how can you use Twitter to contribute to your public relations? In a publication produced by Lawrence Ragan Communications titled “How PR pros can use Twitter”, Jane Irene Kelly wrote an excellent article titled “Is Twitter right for your company?” Below are a few things worth mentioning:

  • With the economy the way it is, it isn’t a bad idea to use Twitter as a way to connect with customers and keep them updated.
  • Twitter is a good way to connect with people who mention your brand. When someone is upset they usually tell everyone. If they are upset with your brand or company you can connect with them and solve the issue.
  • Twitter can provide up to date news to those who follow you.

In that same publication, Gerard Braud gave tips on successful tweeting:

  • Think before you tweet-Do you really want everyone to know that?
  • Weigh the pros and cons-Ask yourself , “Can this be taken out of context?”, or “Does this statement have any legal ramifications?”
  • Don’t get too comfortable-Your audience is not your best friend. Your audience is your clients, employers and customers.
  • Be congruent-Make sure your actions match your words.

Lawrence Ragan Communications publication on Twitter is very informative. Check it out here.

A successful Twitter campaign catches the eye of its audience in a good way. One example of a successful campaign was created by Maggiano’s Little Italy. Their goal was to promote their restaurant and they decided to do so by holding a Twitter contest. They gave away gift certificates to the restaurant and increased their Twitter audience by a few thousand within one day. This not only increased their audience but got followers excited about having a great dinner at their restaurant.

Still not sure about using Twitter for public relations? Take a look at this short slideshow on what to do when creating a successful public relations campaign on Twitter.

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Facebook for public relations

According to Facebook’s statistics page Facebook has over 500 million active users. 150 percent use Facebook‘s mobile applications, and 50 percent log on to Facebook at least once daily. An average user spends 700 billion minutes per month logged on. Users interact with over 900 million objects. Facebook fan pages provide companies a way to promote themselves and their product to the world for free. Facebook recently reached out to the public relations industry with an event to showcase particular things that Facebook can contribute to public relations. Attendees ranged from eBay to the well known public relations firm Ogilvy. The Facebook team introduced live video streaming of special events and finely-targeted marketing pitches that could play a potential role in public relations. David Robbins, agent for PageOne Public Relations, discussed the use of Facebook groups and pages as public relations strategies. He concluded that with each update you increase your chance of the information going viral and reaching more users. Pages and groups are specifically designed to allow Facebook users the chance to connect to other users with the same interest. Pages are designed for a company or organization to gain fans. Groups can be about any topic. When PageOne Public Relations was looking to use Facebook as a campaign tactic they chose to create a page instead of a group. They felt as if pages were more useful for multiple reasons such as the suggest to a friend feature and the wall where fans can interact. You can read more on their decision here. One example of a successful Facebook fan page is the Coca-Cola fan page. Coca-Cola chose to allow its fans to post on its wall, which most brands are hesitant to do. By allowing this sort of interaction you can see all the comments about Coca-Cola, good and bad. This concept allows users to see that Coca-Cola cares about everything their fans have to say about their product. The page also has 22 photo albums, not just of brand images but of workers, events and fans. Coca-Cola does a good job of incorporating its fans into everyday business. To see other great fan pages click here.

Still not sure about using Facebook for public relations? Take a look at this short slide show on the do’s and don’ts of creating a successful public relations campaign on Facebook.

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