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Twitter Lessons for Politicians

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In a recent post on PR Daily, Brad Phillips discussed last week’s debate between Republican Senate candidate Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning and his opponent, state Treasurer Don Stenberg. Though all debates can be quite colorful, this particular one begged the question: is it appropriate to follow your competitor’s daughter on Twitter?

The commentary of this particular part of the debate went as follows:

Bruning: “Let me ask you this, Don. This Sunday, my daughter walks in, and says, ‘Don Stenberg’s trying to follow me on Twitter.’ My daughter’s 14-years-old. Now you tell me: I’d like to know, why does a 62-year-old man want to follow a 14-year-old girl on Twitter? I’d really like to know. She said, ‘Dad, that’s kind of creepy.’”

Stenberg: “Quite honestly, I don’t do my own Twitter. Dan Parsons does it for me. We’ve got thousands and thousands of folks, and as soon as we get done here, I’ll call Dan and make sure that’s taken off. I don’t think it’s appropriate.”

Phillips post discusses the fact that Stenberg’s verbal response seemed OK, yet his body language forced him to lose control of the situation. Though as a debate tactic Stenberg could have turned the situation around on his opponent, Phillips states that because Stenberg didn’t, he also lacked full confidence. As a media relations lesson, this one is important, but I also feel that this awkward situation also brings up a few very other important points:

  1. Know the medium—and well. Neither candidate seems familiar enough with Twitter to be accusing or defending the use of it based on their commentary. If you’re going to go for the low blow, at least understand that with the use of handles, and the fact that most of Twitter is “open game,” it can be impossible to know the age or real name of someone who follows you (or that you follow).
  2. Be aware that if someone is tweeting on behalf of your name, they better be representing you well. Stenberg immediately disputes Bruning’s acquisition by stating, “Quite honestly, I don’t do my own Twitter. Dan Parsons does it for me.” Though he’s telling the truth, this still is a poor defense. If it’s under his name, he is ultimately responsible for the content that is tweeted from that handle.

If you were part of Stenberg’s campaign team, what advice would you give him on the use of social media? What changes (if any) do you think he need to make regarding his presence on Twitter?

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The Importance of Public Speaking for PR Pros

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I recently read a great article from CommPro regarding “The Ten Commandments of Public Speaking” and ah, did it take me back.

When I was in my undergraduate studies, I (and every other freshman) was required to take a public speaking class. Being that I’m a fairly outgoing individual, it never really phased me all that much. But in April 2009 when I was chosen to be the Top Presidential Scholar and Senior Speaker at my university’s annual Honors Convocation, I couldn’t tell you how glad I was that I had given those numerous “how-to” and “about me” speeches in front of my 25 random classmates during my first semester of college.

Though I was further trained and coached before my big speech by one of my communication professors who (go figure) teaches debate and public speaking, I nonetheless had some of those initial nervousness butterflies go away. Phew! The thing was, I didn’t realize until just before my speech that while standing up in front of 1,000+ parents and fellow students is certainly nerve-wracking, being prepared was the key to my confidence.

So what did being prepared mean for me?

  • Having a great opener (attention getter)
  • Making eye contact with my audience
  • Not being afraid to stray from the podium (when appropriate, of course)
  • Sticking to my allotted time limit
  • Knowing my main talking points and being sure to reiterate them
  • PRACTICING until I could practically recite my keep points in my sleep

I can’t say that I did perfect or that I didn’t mess up from time to time, but what I learned in those few months has stayed with me to this day in my career as a communications professional.

Though I don’t always give 15-minute speeches in my current job, this article reminded of how important these “commandments” are for any kind of public speaking. It may seem silly, but I truly believe they can help any media or PR professional in their day-to-day grind. From client presentations to press conferences to everything in between, being an effective public speaker is a key attribute for any PR pro to have.

What public speaking tips do you have?

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The New Age of the Press Release

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The press release is dying! Although I still consider myself somewhat of a newbie to the realm of professional PR (less than 5 years experience), I have nonetheless heard this phrase more than a few times in my professional career. However, as Jonathan Rick recently pointed out in his recent post on Mashable, “4 Ways to Rethink the Press Release,” though the notion is a bit exaggerated, it isn’t totally off base.

Though what the press release stands for still remains the same (i.e. to get out news about something), the format in which it’s given to the public is different than it used to be. In this post, Rick describes how some companies are choosing to forgo the “middle man” (the media) and instead go right to their publics via company blogs and Facebook groups. Using examples of Zillow, Patagonia, Innocent, and ServInt, Rick discusses how using an “updated” format in place of a traditional press release can not only help extend the length of the announcement, but can also help these companies better relate to the general public. The lessons Rick points out are ones that companies of all types should take heed to: make it personal, entertain your consumers, show passion, and keep it human.

Overall, I think the point that Rick is trying to make is that with all forms of communication and PR, companies in today’s age need to be open to being more personable with their customer base and going the “non-traditional” way (notice that this doesn’t mean unprofessional, though). While the use of formal language and putting a release “over the wire” may not be as prominent today as they once used to, the importance of getting out the news is still as important as it always has been; the concern now more surrounds how the news will get out and how it will be received. Trends are a-changing, and I, for one, know that I’ll be interested to see how it continues to progress over the next few years.

What do you think about the traditional press release? Are blog announcements a better alternative?

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Common Writing Errors Make Me Cringe!

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CAUTION: I cringe and judge people who can’t spell or use grammar correctly.

Ok, maybe I’m not that bad (after all, we’re all human and make mistakes), but I can’t help but question how truly great someone is at their job if they have numerous spelling or grammatical errors on their professional pieces/emails—especially when they are a communications or public relations professional.

Though there always seems to be great new posts describing PR case studies, tips and tricks that are beneficial to PR professionals of all experience levels, I think it’s just as important for these individuals to read recent posts such as PR Daily’s 12 Unforgivable Writing Mistakes and be reminded that your writing skills ALWAYS need to stay sharp.

As this post reminds us: “The occasional typo can be brushed off as an innocent oversight, but there are some writing errors that are just plain unforgivable [and] can ruin your credibility as a writer.” Some of these include: (1) fewer vs. less, (2) affect vs. effect, (3) misspellings, (4) alot vs. a lot, (5) misuse of the semicolon, and (6) inconsistency in style.

Though I know today’s world is moving at warped speed and writing styles have relaxed some, these skills are SO important to not only remember and practice, but to also catch when proofing your boss’s (or CEO’s) letter to the editor, email, or welcome letter. No matter what facet of PR or communications you’re in or strive to be in one day, perfected writing skills will never go out of style. In fact, with online communications and the changing world of media relations, you now have less space to make an impact with what few words you do use, so be sure to make them count!

Yes, making sure your resume and cover letter are top notch is definitely key when applying for jobs, but what about when you actually get the job? Keep impressing your bosses and make sure they are always reminded of why they hired you: because you’re good at what you do and you have a keen attention to detail!

Some of the comments on the PR Daily post listed other “unforgivable” writing mistakes such as (1) their vs. they’re vs. there, (2) lead vs. led,  (3) accept vs. except, and (4) your vs. you’re. What other ones make you cringe?

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Facebook + Instagram = Success?

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Although I am far from being a social media hater (it helped me get my first full-time job) and know it’s not going anywhere anytime soon, I still find it amazing how incredibly successful Facebook remains in this fickle world. Though the company has been through lawsuits, heard many critiques about its numerous profile and site layout changes, and even dealt with privacy issues, Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook team have nonetheless stuck it out to become quite the monopoly of the Internet world today.

So when Facebook recently announced that they were purchasing the mobile photo-sharing application Instagram for $1 billion, it no doubt made headlines across the world and even boosted the app to #1 in the iOS App Store. How will this change photo-sharing on Facebook? According to Zuckerberg’s Facebook announcement, the company plans to use the acquisition to “work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on [their] interests” and plans to “learn from Instagram’s experience to build similar features into [its] other products.”

For communications and media professionals, does this mean that the complicated web of social media just became even more woven? Perhaps. Or it could mean that social sharing via photos will become even better. Of course Facebook is treading lightly on just how quickly they will integrate the app into the Facebook platform, with Zuck even stating that they are “…committed to building and growing Instagram independently,” however, I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before it’s “just another Facebook feature.”

Whether users initially love it or hate it, one thing is for sure: anything with the Facebook name surrounding it seems to do well in time, so it’s at the very least worth looking into and being prepared to use in the future. Nonetheless, be sure to use the same caution with any new Instagram integrations as you would with any other “brand-spanking-new” PR innovation. After all, too much of anything is a bad thing…especially when it comes to photo filters, as my one Facebook friend explained in a recent status update:

“If Facebook creates a feature that allows Instagram filters on newly uploaded photos, we’re going to have a lot of unnecessary edited pictures floating around here. I don’t want to see your dog and baby in Sepia tone.”

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Social Media for Business… without the BS

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When I started college in 2005, the terms “social networking” and “social media” had only recently come to fruition. Fast-forward to 2009, and I found myself getting a job for that very purpose. Though I have since moved on to other professional positions, my first job of “Social Networking Coordinator” for the headquarters of a large quick service restaurant (QSR) system on the east coast was quite the learning experience.

One of the things I learned (much through self-teaching, reading articles from Mashable and trying out advice from “social media experts”) was that no one really knew what they were doing with social media yet. Because it was obvious that social media was “the place to be,” everyone was up for trying something, but with so many new apps, social sites, and new ways to connect, it took some time to see what would really be around in a year, and what would be a quick-to-disappear fad.

Fast-forward again to 2012 and a new job, and surprisingly (or not surprisingly?) I have learned that many businesses and individuals still are quite clueless about what they are doing—and should be doing—with social media.

Luckily, I’m not the only one who realizes that CEOs, marketing directors, and everyone in between need a good Social Media 101 lesson. And thanks to Jason Falls and Erik Deckers, the lesson is as simple as reading their down-to-earth, easy-to-understand book, “No Bullshit Social Media.” Though I must admit that the language the authors use is a bit colorful at times, the overall message behind it makes it worth reading through. From a discussion surrounding why companies should get involved in social media to help reach strategic, tactical goals to an explanation of what social media ROI really is about, this book covers all facets of social media for business beginning from square one.

While seasoned social media professionals may not find as much value in this book as newbies (we’ve already been drinking this Kool-Aid for years!), I would highly recommend giving this book to your boss, your CEO, and any other social media for business non-believer. If nothing else, it may just help your C-suite understand the importance of what you do in the overall scheme of your company—and prevent 2013 from being just another year of not knowing what to do with social media.

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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In this ever-changing world of media and technology, the field of communications and public relations (PR) has exploded. Though they used to separate people in years’ past, miles and borders no longer keep people from seeing one another, hearing one another and being able to “stay connected.”

But are these technologies being used to their full potential? Are they really connecting people or pushing them further apart? Have individuals and companies forgotten the value of a face-to-face conversation?

This blog will prove to answer questions and much more by examining tips and tools to get the most out of your PR efforts. At the end of the day these are only my opinions, but if nothing else, I hope they prompt people to at least think about some topics differently, because this world is far from being just black and white. Happy reading!

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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