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April 6, 2007

Too Much Information! Or How Public Relations Is Time Consuming

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Yesterday, we had a lunch and learn at Thornley Fallis about the increasing importance of social news to our profession. As we sat around the boardroom table, we talked about citizen journalism and how it’s forcing mainstream media to adapt and/or adopt. We discussed the merits of reading these sites and those like them to get a sense of who’s out there reporting the news for free. We talked about how one would go about “pitching” these amateur journalists (and by the way, the answer is to not pitch them at all). We also got into a discussion about social bookmarking, but ran out of time to go into any great detail.

Fifteen years ago, a conversation about how almost anyone can become a member of the media would not have been conceivable. Similarly, fifteen years ago there was a lot less material PR professionals had to keep up with on a daily basis. My point: there are a lot more ways for PR to get their message across these days, but there is also much more that PR professionals need to keep their eyes on. Constantly. read more

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April 2, 2007

Building Blog Relationships: Reaching Out

Many moons ago, I was traveling with an international youth group in Spain when a friend from Venezuela asked me to explain the reference “reach out”.

“Every day I hear people say, ‘we need to reach out to the people’ and I do not understand this word. What is this ‘reach out’?”

I started to explain to him in Spanish that “reach out” meant the spiritual groping – no, that’s not right – it’s kinda like your energy goes out of you – no, that’s not it, either. It’s like your need to make people feel good resembles an arm coming out of your heart and…well, that didn’t work either. My ability to communicate this abstract but common metaphor was useless.

We went to a fluent Spanish speaker and asked her to translate “reaching out”. Without even looking up, she said, “Darse.”

Perfect. Stunned, I realized that I’d used the phrase “reach out” all the time without really understanding what it meant. I had to get the word translated from English to Spanish and back again to really get the translation and the true meaning: to give of one’s self.

Preparing for the SOBCon07, the Successful and Outstanding Blogger Conference in Chicago, May 11-12, 2007, I was hunting for a better definition of blogging and relationship building when this memory bubbled to the surface. What better definition of blogging than “to give of one’s self”?

When we blog, we are giving part of ourselves to others. We are sharing our thoughts, insights, concerns, issues, feelings, and our stories with others. For some, blogging means sharing ourselves with the hope of making the world a better place. For others, blogging means sharing their interests in the hope of attracting other like-minded folks.

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March 30, 2007

Perfect Planning Prevents Piss Poor Public Relations

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Let me tell you a couple of stories. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

The Athlete
There was once an athlete who was great at training. He could thrash his personal bests, decimate the opposition and make his peers believe he was a superman.

In training.

On the day, he was a mess. His diet was wrong, he had no idea what the opposition was planning to do or what they did in any particular situation. So he did what everyone else did. He hired a coach and started to perform infinitely better. Perfect planning prevented a piss poor performance. read more

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March 23, 2007

Are Public Relations Practitioners Spamming the Media?

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Take a moment to consider what exactly spam is. According to Wikipedia, the authority on everything these days (including the life and death of Sinbad) describes spam as such:

Spamming is the abuse of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited bulk messages, which are universally undesired.

Anyone who uses email understands spam. It’s something unsolicited and almost always unwanted. If you’re lucky, you don’t get a lot of it. It’s rarely useful/tasty due to the fact that it’s mass produced and, by and large, artificial. At times, this is exactly how one could describe an unsolicited press release sent from a PR practitioner to a journalist: information that is electronic, unsolicited, useless, mass produced and artificial. read more

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March 16, 2007

Bloggers: An invaluable communications channel

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If you’re a blogger with a decent readership and a prominent search engine ranking, you’ve probably encountered someone like me. Someone who sends you emails asking you to write something nice about one of my clients.

If you’ve got a huge readership you probably get a truck load of these requests.

Why?

PRs already have access to huge databases (formal and informal) of pretty much all the media in their country/market that could write about the client. Most of them have to speak with the media and have good relationships with them as well.

Why would they want or need to go to the trouble of finding a blog like yours, reading it for an hour or so, finding your contact details and then “pitching you” on their client?
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March 12, 2007

$400 Million In Free Advertising For Apple’s iPhone

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Is it Steve Jobs’ reality distortion field (TM)? Or is it Apple fanboy- (and girl-) dom in action? Or maybe it’s the power of buzz? You can count on the social media machine to get you that extra mile when it comes to publicity, after all. Harvard Business School professor David Yoffie believes Apple has become master of the buzz machine, and has benefited from about $400 million worth of free advertising for its upcoming iPhone, according to an article on USA Today. read more

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March 9, 2007

What Does Social Media Really Mean for PR?

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Allow me to put my skeptic hat on for just a few minutes.

Those of us working in public relations understand the challenges associated with trying to get our clients’ message out to their desired audience. Sometimes are easier than others, depending on the client and the story, but generally the mass media aren’t falling all over themselves to write about our client’s latest widget or sprocket.

For the time being, a terrific alternative to pitching our stories to the mainstream media is the blogosphere. In it, there are millions of people writing about the most obscure and specific topics known and unknown. Chances are pretty good that some of the people who make up the audience your client is trying to reach are reading the blogs associated with your client’s work. If your client sells ice cream, chances are that they would be interested in reaching the ice cream aficionados reading the ice cream blogs of the world. They’re the people who are engaged in the subject matter. They’re the people who tell ten friends. They’re so attached to the subject matter that it helps them create their own identities. Clients tend to like those people because they’re like walking ads. read more

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March 2, 2007

PR: The Lying Profession?

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I was shocked and appalled to hear that back in my native UK, the truth lost to subterfuge lies and deception. PRWeek, the industry trade publication, was hosting a debate where the motion discussed was PRs have a duty to tell the truth.

The motion was defeated by 138 votes to 124.

In my first post for the Blog Herald, I opined that social media is bringing a seismic change to the PR industry. We’re moving away from a top-down, spin heavy, heavy handed control of the message to openness, honesty, transparency and spin free messaging.

Clearly I was wrong. Clearly PR is, indeed, the lying profession. read more

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February 23, 2007

MySpace for Marketers, Facebook for PR

The other night, I was hanging out with a couple of friends who I hadn’t seen in almost ten years. We went to school together a very long time ago, in a city far from here. Talking to these friends of mine, it occurred to me that something pretty special brought us together: social networking.

As a PR practitioner, I want stay on top of the latest everything. From Britney’s breakdown to business buyouts, it’s important to be trivial. A few years ago, before PR was even a realistic career move, I got into social networking. At first things were lonely. Really lonely. As others can understand, it’s only fun to be in early on something when other people discover that something and it becomes popular. That most certainly applies to the only two social networking sites that matter, Facebook and MySpace. read more

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February 21, 2007

Do You Trust Me?

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According to the 2007 Trust Barometer published by PR firm Edelman, “a person like me” is the most trusted spokesperson in much of the developed world. Okay, this doesn’t mean me, but this means you, too, and everyone else considered to be a peer by any person. This means people turn to peers for advice on just about anything, and they would more likely trust that person rather than, say, a corporate spokesperson or a CEO of a company. read more

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