Category Archives: Transparancy

“I tried to control the internet and it worked.” Said no one. Ever.

Image

I, like many of you, my mind was blown watching Beyonce’s Super Bowl halftime show. I was just in aw of the dancing, the hair flips, her amazing costume – it was an incredible performance. We all thought so – everyone I watched with agreed it was the best half time show in years.

On a related note, aren’t Mondays awful? I bet Beyonce’s publicist sure thought so the morning after the Super Bowl. Just doing her job, asking a pesky blog to remove unflattering stills of the jaw-dropping performance the day before. And wouldn’t you know it – the Internet got annoyed at her attempt to censor it, and bit back. Big time.

Don’t try to control the internet.

What could have been the stuff of halftime show legend, is now comic book legend. I mean, really great that champion body-builder Beyonce can share her other talents, like singing. And hair flipping.

[Image courtesy of]

CEO 2.0

courtesty of directnews.co.uk

courtesty of directnews.co.uk

On one of my accounts, the CEO has become pretty obsessed with Twitter as of late. I’m  happy that he was into it because I’m all about engagement and transparency and other great perks of swimming in the Web 2.0 ocean, and I’m not yet very good at convincing clients that a 140-character blurb every now and then is worth their time, so I’m glad that not a lot of prodding was needed on my part. Also, it was nice because, while I manage and maintain the Twitter activity for the company feed, when people have issues with a product, I often don’t know enough about the technology behind it or the industry itself to answer these properly – the CEO, though, can do it very well. It’s an awesome combo – CEO personal Twitter used in conjunction with the company’s…

I was asked, however, to create a little guide for his Twitter activity and realized — People, this is the age of CEO 2.0. What have we progressed to when the CEO is no longer a suit behind closed mahogany doors and on executive planes and golf courses? When they actually interact with the users, no matter how influencial, to trouble-shoot, discuss the product and the industry, or respond personally to reporters. It’s a beautiful thing.

That said, I wanted to pass along this outline for your CEO to start his very own feed. Below are some tools and examples of a Twitter feed done WELL (some of these are review from an earlier post -@JetBlue, @MightyLeaf)

+++

Tools

Desktop app: Twhirl

  • Gives you the updates on the feeds you follow, and functions like the Web page.
  • You can follow, send messages, @replies.
  • The nice thing about Twhirl, though, unlike the traditional service which only lists the @replies that are in the beginning of posts, Twhirl, lists all @replies that are called, no matter where they are in the post.

Search: search.twitter.com
Scheduled Posts: Future Tweets let’s you schedule Tweets ahead of time.
Regional Interest
: http://www.twitterlocal.net
Conversation/Thread tracking: Tweader.com
Trends on Twitter: http://www.twitscoop.com/


Successful Business Twitter models:

Jet Blue: https://twitter.com/JetBlue

  • Their 7,500 followers are resulting from updates about their flight schedules, flying/travel tips and steady responses to customers and other Twitterers.
  • A steady flow of updates keeps you on the feeds of those following you.

Mighty Leaf Tea: https://twitter.com/mightyleaf

  • They’re not tech, but they come up with useful ways to discuss their products over Twitter and currently have nearly 1000 followers.
  • They post “relevant” issues and articles and are engaged in their industry beyond just their product, engaging in current events and eventually bringing it back to them.

Comcast: http://twitter.com/comcastcares

  • This feed is devoted solely to addressing customer concerns and directing them to new services and solutions.
  • They’ve got 18,000+ updates which illustrates that this is their new customer care model.
  • “Can I help?” is a common @reply to some customer’s venting their concerns.

Evernote: http://twitter.com/evernote

  • Evernote is a great example of how a small company can leverage Twitter, though their model is more centered around updates and announcements rather than industry news and they don’t engage with with @replies. They probably Direct Message everyone who starts following them. Another great way to engage without crowding your feed with @replies.
  • They have over 6,000 followers because they incorporate need-to-know information in their updates so that users can maximize their use.

PLEASE NOTE: Comcast is an extreme model, but it’s the truest when it comes to customer engagement. JetBlue and Mighty Leaf engage with customers, but they also focus on industry news as well. JetBlue even features a “Tech-travel Tuesday” weekly tweet devoted to how technology is having an impact in travel.

Executives On Twitter

Tony Hsieh of Zappos.com: http://twitter.com/zappos

  • This is more of a daily log of activities, interactions with other journalists, and daily goings on at Zappos. But it does a great deal to humanize the company and they have nearly 20,000 followers because of it.

David Sifry, Chairman of Technorati: http://twitter.com/technorati

  • He recently did an interview on his Twitter engagement: I subscribe to lots of people who say interesting things, and I listen [and] read a lot. I find that these people become a sounding board for ideas, and I learn a lot from them.”
  • Many CEOs are finding this a good window into current events and insights into their industry.

It’d like to reiterate that, it does help if you garner some of the nuances of Twitter, blogging and other Web 2.0 engagement tools for your personal use – SEO, Web presence, visibility before you attempt to do the same for your client.

Have at it.


Fresh Meat Advice: Contribute what you know – in my case, Twitter.

On a tip from Kelli Matthew’s PRos in Training blog, to which I still subscribe, I read the post by Julia Roy called “Getting More Twitter Followers and Twittering for Business.” In the post she talks about gaining more Twitter traction – a whopping 4,000 followers – and how she decides to follow people back.

STUDENT TWEETS: Everyone has to start somewhere.

I started Twittering in February with no idea what I was doing. How did I become acclimated? I was online three or four times a day looking up tech news, reading Mashable and TechCrunch, NYT Tech columns, PRWeek, Business Week, poring over Google Trends, getting GMail alerts for news and blog posts on PR and Social Media, virtually all of the blogs in my Google Reader were tech and PR blogs. I needed to be able to engage with the people who were on Twitter about things that were important to them.

When LaunchSquad, found me on Twitter, though, it was because I’d “tweeted” about one of their clients – Vivaty.

TWITTER ON THE JOB?

JetBlue was one of the first business Twitter feeds that I followed and actually tweeted back at. They are one of the best Twitter business models I’ve seen.

When I started here, one of the first things I was asked to do on each of my accounts was either establish or revamp their Twitter activity. I wrote a Twitter strategy based on a case-study on JetBlue’s Twitter activity.

WHY I PAY ATTENTION: Their 4,800 followers are resulting from updates about their flight schedules, flying/travel tips and steady responses to customers and other Twitterers.

WHAT I TAKE AWAY: To be savvy with customers and Twitter, you need to pay attention to what they’re saying. People often express frustrations with software and companies on Twitter.

Another great example is Mighty Leaf Tea. They’re hardly tech, but they’re in the East Bay and so here in San Francisco – and silicon valley, we’re big fans. They’ve got great, unique flavors which makes for great “Tweets”. 

WHY I PAY ATTENTION: They’re not tech. At all. They sell tea, for god’s sake. But they come up with useful ways to discuss their products over Twitter and currently have 500+ followers in their pocket.

WHAT I TAKE AWAY: They post “relevant” issues and articles and are engaged in their industry beyond just their product – like the above post: List an interesting article and bring it back to the product. Very nice.

THE SKINNY

I suggest before taking on a client’s Twitter campaign, work on beefing up your own feed in addition to the rest of your online presence. Social media savvy applied to personal uses can only help when you’re asked to do it for a client.

A friend of mine and former intern here at LaunchSquad, Ben Kessler, has a great blog as well as a juggernaut Twitter following (currently at 579) and has managed 6,200+ updates so far – In September he averaged 24 updates a day. Makes me tired just thinking about it.

In my own case, I eventually found an even balance for my Twitter feed: my initial rabid tech/PR discourse combined with a cultural commentary (articles, music, film, events) and have – to reinforce Julia Roy’s point – seen a steady increase of 5-10 new follower’s a week.

Once you’ve honed this aspect of social media – and not to imply, by any means, that I have – you’ve become a valuable asset to any company, client and agency as they all are trying to figure out what Twitter means and could do for their business.

The Twit-Pire Strikes Back: Mad Men on Twitter

The Cast of Mad Men

The Cast of Mad Men

The frustration that often comes when I try to explain to my friends and family the usefulness of Twitter stops here. Actually, probably not, but please take a moment to contemplate just how powerful the more than 1,200 8,7000 followers of @Don_Draper can be. To recap, Early last week, feeds from certain characters from the AMC show Mad Men began to show up on Twitter and interact with other users – and of course, their numbers of follower’s sky-rocketed.

The updates on each feed are genius: perfectly tailored to each character in language and content and often talk about plot related activity. They give their followers a feeling that each plot twist is actually happening between each episode.

For example, last Friday @Don_Draper, all of whose updates are as ambiguous and guarded as his character is, put out an update saying “@Joan_Holloway is going to tell me who my new secretary will be” when we were looking forward to last Sunday’s new episode The New Girl, in Which Don gets an attractive new secretary.

For a list of characters on Twitter, check out Ben Kessler’s initial blog post here.

Monday Morning: Finally up-to-speed with the second second season (though waiting to watch my Tivo-ed recent episode until that night), I was pleasantly surprised to recieve a notification that @Betty_Draper was following me. We proceeded tweet about housewives and mothers embracing technology and asked if she’d checked out Blogher – a tech-savvy group of like-minded women, I promised her.

Later that day, I briefly reflected, with my co-worker @greerkarlis, how “nerdy” it was that we were so obsessively following these characters even though we knew (or believed at the time) that they weren’t the real actors themselves but rather someone hired by AMC.

That’s where we were wrong.

That night, Ben Kessler informed me that the feeds of Don Draper, Peggy Olson and Joan Holloway were suspended by Twitter. The mystery was on. Within a half hour, MG Siegler of Venture Beat had written a post about it and had contacted Twitter who responded within an hour that the Mad Men character feeds were, in fact, NOT written by people affiliated with the show or AMC and the network didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of someone not affiliated with the show, posing as these characters.

But as Siegler pointed out in his post, everyone who’s been following these characters KNOWS it’s not the actual actors updating them. We don’t follow because we’re starstruck. We follow because they spice up our feeds and more importantly, tide us over until Sunday night when there’s a new episode. In other words, it couldn’t be better for AMC. Not only is the individual or team behind the Mad Men Twitter activity putting out relevant content, they’re doing it in a space that so filled with facts, this bit of fiction was sure to attract a strong following.

Perhaps that’s why, after 24 hours of uproar from Twitterers, AMC allowed the Mad Men updates to continue. One of the smartest moves their marketing department could have made and, as the Reuter’s article says-, Don Draper would approve.

UPDATE 1: If you’re a visual learner, this post might be good for you.

UPDATE 2: Here’s a new site by the creators of the Mad Men feeds addressing the situation.

*Image courtesy of Vanity Fair.

The Legacy of a “Lonely Girl”

The producers of the YouTube phenomenon vlog of “Lonelygirl15″ and Kate Modern are launching a production company called Eqal that calls itself Social Entertainment. From their website they say they’re incorporating the best of traditional narrative and online interactivity. At the site you can watch their intro which seems to be a montage of their futurer shows. They’re very Cloverfield-eque, seemingly done from home-video cameras. The shows themselves, according to the Eqal are driven by the participation of their viewers.  It’s “community-generated” content, rather than studio-produced. Neat idea – capitalize off of the YouTube trend.

So, with this new ripple in the Social Media Stratosphere, what does this mean for PR? Can the public relations industry approach this medium in a ethical and efficient way?

Since viral content and especially videos have become such a staple in the public relations arsenal, we can only assume that this, too, will become a weapon of choice… er-not to put too violent a connotation on PR tactics.

Regarding Eqal, though, they may be on to something. As their name suggests, there exists the same amount of reciprocity in this medium as in most social media outlets: Users and viewers see the fruits of their own participation.

Let’s just hope this, like most other forms of social media, promotes, respects and contributes to transparency, more than the original inspiration, Lonelygirl15, did.

Setting the PR Bar in Rwanda

In a recent article from allAfrica.com, public relations professionals are making an effort to regulate the profession there and clean up its reputation. Peter Malinga, president of of the Public Relations Association of Rwanda, asserts that the public relations world has a current “free entry” status in which “failed or re-traded journalists” can thrive. This being the case, the PRAR, a joint private-public sector venture, hopes to align the industry with professionalism and apparently competency.

“[PRAR]‘s main aim, [Malinga] added, is to professionalize the public relations profession, given that its practitioners are often considered to be poor cousins of advertisers’ and event management.”

The organization hopes to “weed out” unqualified people and make the profession something to which people aspire, rather than resort.

At first, I was mildly offended. Only mildly because I wasn’t sure if Malinga and his organization were referring to the Rwandan PR industry rather than the global profession. But I was offended because I think that the skills that make a successful PR professional are disciplines that I am daily honing and – well, at least thinking about.

The article later goes on to focus on the importance of distinguishing between good and bad PR and the need for the former.

And so at this point, I realized: I need to NOT be offended (even mildly) about this and realize that he’s right. There’s plenty of bad PR out there, even if most of the time I associate it with being stimulated by external, “beyond our control” forces. Probably the bulk of bad PR out there is done by PR pros who really aren’t THAT pro.

This is a rallying call for mobilization and engagement. How do we answer?

By striving to be truth-centric and people-oriented. By allowing the industry to be chastized.

“It is in the institution’s interest if it is criticized, since this helps in the correction of different mistakes.”

*Photo courtesy of http://polosbastards.com

Chew Him Up, Spitzer Out: Lessons On Spin From A Pro

What a relief this Eliot Spitzer scandal is! A nice break for journalists trying to peddle the tired story of the growing Clinton-Obama-McCain “we’re good friends, but don’t respect each other’s policies”-triangle. A nice break for readers trying to stay interested in it. Oh! And the blogging opportunities! I can just see a young Christian Bale as a “Newsie” celebrating this latest golden headline and vending his “papes” with renewed vigor. It’s perfect! Here is the champion of decency, steadfastly intolerant of the corrupt and duplicitous among elected public servants, slain by his own silver bullet. Kind of. According Kimberley A. Strassel of The Wall Street Journal, the press are still trying to revive him.

As if this story wasn’t interesting enough, many people are starting to question why he thought he’d get away with it. In a scathing recent article, Strassel asserts that the press acted more like pre-teen NSync groupies when they covered him than like a balanced commentating voice: The unrelenting loyalty of the press is why he thought he could get away with it.

From the article: ‘”You play hard, you play rough, and hopefully you don’t get caught,” said Mr. Spitzer two years ago. He never did get caught, because most reporters were his accomplices.”

“[Gov. Spitzer] played the media like a Stradivarius.” Ouch! She then goes on to cite several cases in which the media not only turned a blind-eye to Spitzer’s indiscretions, but they also praised him for his commitment to the “people’s causes”.

This brings up an interesting point. Is it OK for the press corps to take sides on political movements and candidates? For example: The New York Times endorsing candidates. Is it instances like this that solidify the argument of an opinion-free press? Strassel asserts that one of the most important jobs of the press is to be political watch-dogs. If this is true and the circumstances in the article also true, then the press failed miserably.

Not that it was their fault entirely, according to Strassel. What we have here, is a master of spin. Spitzer knew what the media wanted and he gave it to them. He knew what would grab their attention and he worked it whether it was crusading for causes or feeding journalist friends with insider information.

Are you taking notes all you aspiring celebrity publicists?

…I honestly don’t have much else to say about this. Strassel has delivered the story beautifully and most importantly, thoroughly. All I can do is sit here with my friend Dan and shake my head at my recent discovery of the frailty and vulnerability of the modern press corps, professionals I admire and respect, people who have set standards and examples of excellence that I am instructed, daily, to emulate. What am I, a journalism major, what’s more, a PR major who has to constantly reconcile the needs of a client with social ethics, to take from this?
All I’ve left to conclude is: Britney Spears, if you want to get the media back on your side, call Eliot Sptizer. He’ll probably be looking for a job soon.

This seems brazen. Even before I publish it, I’m nervous to do so. What do I, a student, know about the ways of the world other than what I’ve been told? My idealism hasn’t been truly put to the test. “Oh yeah, Soto? Let’s see if you can find a job when you come down from that soapbox!” I suppose this post is just me needing to know that the pursuit of ethical practices and social responsibility is worth it.

*Image courtesy of http://www.gawker.com