Monday, December 8, 2008

Twittering the day away

So when someone first explained the concept of Twitter to me, my first reaction was: "Who has time to keep up with what their friends are doing all day?" Surely not me. However, after I investigated closer, I realized that the twitter phenomenon was actually pretty cool. And if done right, you wouldn't spend your day reading about what meaningly tasks your friends are completing. Rather, twitter is way to stay connected to friends so that you always know what thier doing or what is important to them.

What makes twitter so cutting edge is the fact that it provides real-time short messages that work over multiple networks and devices. For PR people, using twitter (called "tweeting") provides an opportunity to let valuable publics know what is hot with your organization. This connection that spans over networks is a great opportunity. Just think what an impact it would be to have interested publics keeping up with what you are doing instead of your organizaiton trying to keep up with them. Wouldn't it be great if your prospective customers wanted to get text messages, facebook messages, etc JUST about your organization?

Monday, December 1, 2008

MSU Gets Social

Missouri State University has recently taken the next step to get cozy with the "in crowd" who make use of online social networks. Brad Mitchell (New Media guru) has taken on a handful with his job of managing and creating (plus more) social media profiles on a variety of social media sites (such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, etc).

For all appearances sake, Brad has lucked out with his position at Missouri State. Not many of us would think twice for an opportunity to dabble in social media all day and get paid. However, Brad indicated that his job goes far beyod maintining social media profiles for the University. With this in mind, I cannot possibly fathom how he finds time in a normal work day to keep up with these social media sites and still manages to take on additional tasks (such as the new iClass function sponsored by Apple he is now working on and the various technicial roles he must fill).

Because of the overwhelming responsibilities that come with creating and maintaining a social media account, especially for an organization, it is clear that such a task will not remain a one-person show for long. With the whimsy of dabbling on social media Web sites all day, I am certain that there will be no shortage of volunteers when a new position in New Media becomes open at Missouri State. Hopefully, the role will be filled by an experienced PR person who has the experience and knowledge to maintain such profiles and help them flourish so MSU will receive the greatest benefit from getting socially involved.

Monday, November 24, 2008


A podcast is a series of audio or video files which is distributed over the internet by syndicated download, through Web feeds, to portable media players and personal computers (yep, that's straight from Wikipedia )
Many moons ago--alright, maybe two weeks ago--I wasn't really for sure what a podcast was. Have I used it? Have I seen one? Do I have to have an iPod? These answers to these questions (yes, yes, and no) are answered from the simple definition above. The question that most confused me (the whole iPod issue) is a viable question. Podcasts were developed for the Apple iPod, but with the new distribution possibilities, podcasts open a world of opportunity for everyone...particularly PR people.

Incorporating podcasts onto your company's Web site could provide a new and hip way to connect with your publics. By posting a link on your company's page, you let new (and returning) visitors know that your company is a forerunner, and you have something you want everyone to see (or hear). Just having this technology available to your publics will catch the interest of your audience and transport information and new ideas directly to them through media. This tool will prove to be a beneficial way of interacting with publics and can have a powerful impact on your organization in the future.

Monday, November 10, 2008

IMC...Simple as 1,2,3

Integrated marketing communications (IMC) used to be a somewhat taboo idea. Why? Let's just break down the phase: integrated+marketing+communicatio= Public relations department meets marketing department(not always the best combination in the past. However, dispite the reluctance of marketing and PR to come together, IMC seems to be a perfect spawn.

The brief version of what IMC is: the effort for a company to create a recognizable brand that is releveant to a person and consistent over time. With these efforts, consumers develop a connection to the brand. Don Shultz, professor (emeritus-in-service) of integrated marketing communications at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. has published multiple articles on the topic that are available on American Marketing Association Web site Many of these articles are useful in explaining the various aspects of IMC as it relates to building brands today.

One useful article is here this article lays out the steps for a successful IMC campaign.

So can you identify any companies who have successfully implementd IMC? The basic premise is that you connect an image that you associate with a campaign that has been consistent and successful over many media platforms? Maybe a product that leaves an image in your head, or that has gained your loyalty? One that comes to mind for me is Diet Dr. Pepper. Don't get me wrong, I haven't touched a dark soda in ages. However, if I were to pop open a can I would choose Diet Dr. Pepper. Why? Because I know it tastes more like regular Dr. Pepper. Afterall, the TV, radio, and magazines all say the same it must be true...right?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Social News Releases: Building an Online Attraction

Social news releases, first brought to light by Todd Defren are a growing online trend for PR people. Unlike the traditional option(dare I say it...PRESS RELEASES, social news releases produce a little more of a pull opportunity than do the predecessors.

More and more companies are creating areas on their Web pages where media people can come to get the information they want.

This is beneficial because often, standard press releases can go unnoticed. This reminds me of an experience I had as an intern for an agency that utilized only traditional press releases. Their PR person sent out releases daily by e-mail to a laundry list of local media members. Sounds pretty proactive, right? Well if it's the thought that counts, A+. However, e-mail technology revealed that most of the messages went unread by the recepients. My estimate is that not only did the media folks find the constant e-mails unnecessary, but also intrusive and maybe even unimportant. I would estimate that the bulk of the releases could have been condensed into a weekly fact sheet about the organization (and posted on a Web page for easy access).

Making your information available to the public on the Web could open a world of opportunity. 1) You won't risk harming relationships with media by bombarding them with information. 2) You make valuable information available to those outside the media. 3)You can maxmize effectiveness by reaching new publics who search for your organization.

With all of this considered, I surely do not suggest cutting out the traditional press release. There are certainly more traditional people who appreciate and thrive on push media. However, try to read the signs when it comes to others. If a particular contact has NEVER responded to or made use of your press releases, don't risk damaging your relationsship by continuing to send them. Try simply sending these folks a link to your site, less-frequent e-mails when your social media outlet is updates, or a link to your RSS feed. This way, they can choose what information is relevant to them.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Social Networks: Are you in?

We've all heard the phrases, "Everyone's doing it", or "Anyone who's anyone will be there". To me, these cliches epitomize the world of social networks. Though the social networks I'm talking about are the posh "electronic type", people (PR people especially) have been taking advantage of social networks for years.

Basically the gathering of poeple who share the same values, beliefs, friends, dislikes, or visions create a social network. However, online social networks are the new(ish) way to connect with people who share such similarities.

Facebook (2004) and MySpace(2003) are the two networks that have been in the spotlight for several years now. The polls are up and down regarding which is "better" or "more popular". However, one thing is clear: social networks are PR practitioners opportunity to connect with the masses.

Like any other newfangaled form of Internet media, there are pros and cons of using social networks. MySpace, in particular, has many design problems due to the fact that most designers are amatures and create HTML codes that are OUT OF CONTROL. This often makes pages load slow as molassas or creates additional problems.

However, despite the inevitable short commings of social media, creating profiles can serve as a valuable tool to attract followers. This task should not be taken lightly! The average Joe could spend countless hours on MySpace and Facebook with no purpose. In accordance, someone with an actual goal in mind would need to learn how to navigate the system and work functions in order to have a noteworthy profile. In addition, constant (shall I even say relentless) monitoring is necessary to keep up with the myrad of requests, notices, etc that come with having a social network profile. WHEW, that's a lot of work to tackle!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Feed Me: information for the hungry mind

RSS feeds (or Really Simple Syndication) are a hip and convenient way to get the info you want (such as blog entries, news headlines, video postings) when you want it. RSS feeds are a way for readers to receive notifications when their favorite Web sites or blogs have been updated. Unlike receiving the daily newspaper or a magazine, RSS feeds will sort through updated information and notify readers ONLY when information they want to know about has been updated. Think of RSS as your nosy gossip-guru friend: they know all the new news, and won't hesitate to give you the low-down when something new and of interest happens. In this way, RSS filters available information and notifies you only about topics you have indicated interest in...pretty cool, huh?

So now for the good stuff, RSS feeds are F-R-E-E! What could be better than that? Unlike receiving an online subscription that you have to filter through to find what you want, what you want is pre-filtered and comes to you. There is one tiny problem: not every site offers RSS :( So, unfortunately for now, readers won't be able to get notification for every single tidbit of new info they might be interested, but most big name and savvy Web sites have already made the move to offer RSS.

So let's recap: RSS is simple (by it's own recognition), free, and gives you want-so what could go wrong? I will pose this question to you and offer a prediction myself: like anything that is "free" sooner or later there is a gimmick. I estimate that sometime soon, RSS notifications will be accompanied by advertisements from endorsers to distract you from the information you want to see (probably one of those darn flashing slot machines that would send an epileptic into a fit). After all, nothing on the Internet stays "really simple" for too long.

Monday, October 6, 2008

To Blog or not to Blog

According to B.L. Ochman's September 2008 article in Advertising Age, there are 10 reasons that a company should not blog. She states that blogs are OFTEN boring, impersonal, unoriginal, and time consuming--among other things. In addition, a good blogger must be a active part of the blog community. However, this activity is no substitute for marketing, advertising, a quick fix, or a cheap solution, and you can't guarantee traffic.

In my opinion, this article is a prime example for people who are fans of the good ol' closed system. Though Ms. Ochman has a valid point, blogging is an extensive process that takes skill, dedication, and research--it can be a valuable tool when utilized correctly by a company CEO.

Indeed, blogging is a phenomenon that is not yet completely predictable. My opinion: SO WHAT!! If you have the dedication, time, expertise, and creative voice to communicate with others through blog, go for it. Thought the market isn't always predictable or reliable, it can never hurt to give it a good shot!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

YouTube as PRTube

YouTube is no doubt a growing phenomena. It is a way to reach out to mass audiences at any tome for any purpose. YouTube is a helpful way to connect to others with video blogs, and can serve as a promotion tool to share an idea or concept with a mass audience.

YouTube has served as an influential tool for the average Joe who wants to make a statement or be recognized, but can also prove to be helpful to as a tool to established companies and professionals. People like Soulja Boy, notably gained fame from a YouTube video. My own brother even makes an appearance in a YouTube piece, much to my own dismay and humiliation.

So we see that this site can serve as a form of recognition and entertainment, but what about FREE advertising and Public Relations? Being free is only one of the many benefits of
YouTube. In addition to being cost free, YouTube offers a venue for video bloggers of all types. From Gurus to Politicians, there is a "Channel" for everyone. With such a variety of subject matter, YouTube also attracts a variety of viewers. Like a real-life market place, "shoppers" are bound to browse beyond what they came looking for. If your video is at the right place at the right time, it is bound to get noticed.

YouTube's rating system is a valuable way to gain recognition. By gaining a place on the "Featured", "Most Viewed", "Most Discussed", or "Most Favorited" list, your video gains instant recognition. The placement on these lists is due to the opinion of viewers--mostly 30-somethings--who view the videos and help them grow in popularity.

YouTube's Community section is a positive tool that can be used by PR personnel. Here, organizations can post short videos that can be used to make a statement, advertise, or clarify. YouTube is an influential form of pull media that allows users to seek out information they find relevant and interesting. It can be a valuable tool for putting information in the hands of consumers.

However, though
YouTube is free and open to the public, using YouTube as a promotional tool can have negatives. First, as YouTube is open to the public, there is a possibility that those who don't agree with your product or cause will post rebuttal videos or just a negative video about your organization in general. As a PR practitioner, it is important to have a plan of how to handle such attacks. Second of all, there is no guarantee that your video will get be viewed by the same audience as say, a TV commercial. YouTube states that there are over 200 million users. So how do you draw attention to your video? If the free thing seems too interesting, YouTube also offers marketing opportunities that offer direct placement to attract your target public. However, it is important to remember, in order for the video to get recognition and become popular, it must be memorable. That means PR people must research current trends and decide on an angle for the video (should it entertain, shock, or show something new?).

With a little research, it would be easy for a PR professional to assess appropriate techniques to make a YouTube video that would be profitable for the client and attract the target public.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Over the Rainbow: My hopes and dreams

When I stepped onto campus nearly five years ago as a freshman, I never dreamed that my journey would lead me HERE! I once thought that simply getting a Bachelor's degree would be "Reaching for the STARS! After I quickly realized that goal, I found myself not knowing what I really wanted out of this whole college thing. I knew my undergraduate degree would get me several places and help me secure a decent paying job. OnE PrObLeM: A degree in English=cubicle=boring. I feel I am too much of an extrovert and creative thinker to be crammed in a box all day. From studying for my minor in communication, I realized what I really enjoyed was Public Relations. Thus, I developed a new plan: go to grad school and get a Master's degree that would get me to were I want to be professionally.

This is where my second set of goals come into play: do something great, do the unexpected, take on a challenge. As a first generation college student, I see the value of a great education. Having an education will allow me to do things my parents were unable to do, and I know that makes them proud as well. I have never done anything on the small scale, I try to over achieve, have big asperations, and take on everything I can to get me where I want to be. Though sometimes this lands me in major FrEakOut mode, I am proud of my accomplishments and have learned many valuable lessons doing things on my own.

With this random and brief backgound in mind, I now come to the question: Where do I want all of this to take me five years from now? Sometimes I think your guess is as good as mine :) However, for right now, my goal is to make it out of Grad school alive and get a PR job where I can really show off my skills. I want to be challenged, have fun, and be a asset to whatever staff I join. I think if I can accomplish these goals after two more years of hard work, I will be pleased!