social media

It’s Twitterific! A lesson from ESPN

Bird in farmland bush, May 1972
U.S. National Archive

Today I was driving back to work from lunch with some of the members of the new NMPRSA board and listening to ESPN radio. The host of the show was talking about athletes who are on Twitter, and the potential of these athletes to “leak” confidential team information. (firings, new players, etc.) SEC fans found out the dangers of Twitter earlier this year when Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin tweeted the name of a recruit who had might signed with a team – a violation of NCAA rules.

One of the points the host (whose name I can’t remember right now) talked about the problems he saw with athletes preempting team announcements about fired personnel, cut players (especially before the players found out) and the like – and asked how long it would be until players were accidentally – or staffers were purposefully – pulling a Kiffin and violating some kind of rules structure.

So I sent out a tweet mentioning the topic and got a couple of interesting responses back. First from Albuquerque PR firm owner Tom Garrity:

@desertronin , interesting tweet on ESPN and their percieved “danger”. Team owners should be embracing twitter, not fearing it.

And a follow up by blogger and online journalist Matt Reichbach:

@tg123 @desertronin but athletes should use common sense on what to tweet and what not to tweet. (e.g. things that haven’t been announced)

This reminded me of the recent cluster-tweets I’ve talked about before. Sometimes people don’t realize that Twitter is not just a communications tool between friends, but between you and (up to) hundreds of thousands of their closest “friends.” Any one of which can resend their tweet, or take one tweet out of context. (See above link)

Not to mention how many of them might be reporters, especially if you’re a celebrity. And then the story’ll take off. For fun, replace team with “your company” and athlete with “an employee.”

Now, stop hyperventilating at the thought, take a deep breath and go get a stiff Old Fashioned. Feel better? Great!

So what’s to be done?

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public relations, social media

Like it or not, bloggers are reporters too

One of my job duties, in addition to working on content creation (blogs, YouTube, etc) and writing stories for the university newsletter, is handling press calls.  I really like dealing with the press, especially out here because I get along with so many of them, including the local bloggers. I can hear some of your now:

Bloggers?  You have to deal with bloggers?

Yeah.  And I’m always working to get answers to their questions, or send them information about what’s going on around campus without forcing them to jump through additional hoops that the members of the traditional media don’t have to deal with.  Many bloggers covering your organization want to be given the same treatment and respect that you will give other members of the mainstream media.

Back when social media was called “new media” it was being heralded as a new way for people to engage in civic journalism – turning average people into journalists.  Now those people are taking advantage of these tools to write about their own communities, loves, and hates.  As PR professionals, we have to be ready to treat them like any other journalist, because you never know when that one blog post you didn’t respond to will be the one that the NY Times journalist will read and base a story around.

For those of you who haven’t read The Long Tail yet, run – do not walk – to read this book.  One of the concepts I came away with was the idea that a blog post can travel up the Long Tail graph, from a blog with relatively few readers, to one read by thousands or hundreds of thousands of people a day with a few link referrals.

Instead of blowing off these bloggers, even those who disagree with you, think about engaging with bloggers.  Answer their questions when they send them to you.  Send them information via Twitter – no hard sell, just a quick tweet asking if they would be interested in XYZ.  Follow them and pay attention to what they say before you need to contact them for anything.  Engage with them, on their terms first (via their blogs) and then on your blog after you develop it.

What do y’all do to engage these new reporters?  Have you held an event for bloggers only?  Is this something you’d be interested in?

public relations, social media

Organizational Evangelism, or “Darwin’s Bulldog 2.0”

Thomas Huxley, “Darwin’s Bulldog”

Recently I’ve been talking with my friends about an idea that business guru Guy Kawasaki has been at the forefront of for many years, the idea of “product evangelism” or utilizing your biggest supporters to positively promote a product or organization (i.e. Apple’s iCabal).

Following up on this thought, you should look at how to develop your company’s/industry’s supporters into a cohesive “pack” (for lack of a better word) that is willing to support and defend your company.  Non-profit coalitions have been doing this for quite a while, and businesses can learn quite a bit from these organizations.  Many non-profits, if not almost all of them, have spent decades doing more with less when it comes to communications and coalition-building.  What these groups lacked in financial strength, they made up for in passion, perseverance, strategy and volunteerism.

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public relations

Turning Up the Voltage

I was reading Chris Brogan’s blog this afternoon (where anyone interested in getting better with social media should go) and found this post interesting.  Chris talks about ratcheting up your ability to get through information, especially when dealing with social media, faster and faster (think Ben Johnson on steroids, then crystal meth fast).

The problem starts up when you don’t know where to look for information.  Like me, sometimes I finally find out what’s going on only to turn around, write a brilliant masterpiece you have all come to know and love ( 😉 ), get something online and find out I’m still behind the curve.  It’s like the saying goes, sometimes you get the bear, and sometimes the bear gets you.  It’s just a matter of not getting caught off guard too often.  Two questions are, how can you get the information synthesized fast enough, and in this day and age of instant online media, how can you get faster?

P.S. Chris, if you have any ideas on staying up to speed, I’d love to hear them. 😉

public relations

Is There a Future in Blogging?

Earlier today I was listening to NM political blogger Joe Monahan as part of a media roundtable. He was a decent member of the panel, making a few good points about social media, but at the end he really blew it. He was asked about the future of blogging and he said that blogging had reached its heyday a couple of years back and that blogs would start to fall by the way, much like some of the mass media outlets that have shuttered their doors in the last decade – the market would decide which blogs will survive.

Joe’s looking at the story of blogging as an independent source of revenue, he had discussed advertising on blogs, or blogging independently as a career – like he does. He’s not thinking about the use of blogging and other social media in a business setting. That’s the future of non-independent, non-hobbyist social media use.

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public relations

Flacky Goodness

Finished reading this by CNET blogger Charles Cooper. He takes a look at how press releases, especially those that are stacked with easily searchable words, are showing up higher and higher in online searches. It’s a great story, I highly recommend giving it a once over when you have time.  One of the ideas I liked to mull throughout the article is the idea that the mainstream media is becoming increasingly marginalized, and how organizations can take advantage of that.

Cooper starts the article with a scenario familiar to many public relations professionals.

A few years back, representatives from the Industry Standard, Wired, and Upside were invited to a public-relations gathering to talk about how they decide what to cover. After they finished their prepared remarks, a young woman in the audience stood up to ask a question.

“You talk a lot about tricks and tips on what we should do,” she said. “But I’ve done all that and I still can’t get you to cover my clients.”

The reporter from Upside recognized the opening and rammed a Mack Truck right through it. “Ma’am,” he replied, “you need better clients.”

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