The journalistic community and the PR community have always experienced a fractious relationship. A while back, I blogged about how there is a 4:1 PR person to journalist ratio and shared tips to insert yourself in a news cycle by proactive pitching or drafting contributed content. While pitching purposefully and crafting your own content are effective ways to get published in certain outlets, making friends with freelancers is a great way to turn a pitch from “concept to story” in short order.
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I was in Brazil for the first two weeks of the World Cup and was lucky enough to be among the over 154,000 American ticket holders, the largest contingent of traveling supporters outside of the host nation. It’s estimated that over 40 million Americans streamed the games, up 44% from the 2010 World Cup. With such a large audience, it’s only natural that some brand marketing lessons should emerge, right?
As all good communicators know, reputation is forged by all stakeholders in the brand or organization, and soccer teams are no different. The players, management, and fans are brand representatives, on and off the field. Every player, fan, coach, manager, government, and organizing body contributes to — or detracts from — the team’s reputation with their words and actions.
The warm summer weather ushers in a flurry of high tech conferences and events, ranging from the consumer-focused Apple Worldwide Developers Conference and E3 to enterprise-focused events like GigaOm Structure and Fortune Brainstorm Tech. Thousands of people attend these events, with many more following the news from home. Leveraging Twitter enables conference attendees to share/discuss the experience with other attendees as well as their followers. For those who are new to live-tweeting at events, here are a few pointers to get you started:
The end of the year gives us an opportunity to pat ourselves on the back for the things we did well and allows us to reflect on the things we could have done better. Here are my favorite successes and blunders from 2013.
Reporters and editors are being laid off, publications are closing, and journalists are crossing over into PR. That’s the world we live in today.
It’s been reported that PR professionals currently outnumber journalists four to one, a gap twice as wide as it was in 1980. With this enormous gap between PR pros and journalists, it’s even harder for PR pros to get the story out.
That said, even though there are fewer and fewer journalists, there are still ways to ensure your story gets out there.
Unlike my coworkers, I didn’t gracefully land into PR. Instead, I stumbled and landed (on my face) into the world of public relations.
After deciding that law school wasn’t for me, a friend suggested that public relations might be an industry that would make me happy. The only thing I knew about the industry was what I learned on Sex and the City (á la Samantha Jones) and thought that her life rocked, so why not give it a try. I had two things working for me in entering a new field: I was (1)willing to work for free and (2)put in long hours.
Six months later, I landed an entry-level position at a glitzy agency. It was fast-paced, aggressive, and in a fancy location, but I felt like a tiny cog in a very big wheel.
I was lucky to find Sterling, an integrated communications firm. What drew me in was Sterling’s commitment to its employees. There are ample opportunities to expand upon your skill set. Sterling empowers its employees and allows them to take ownership of their career trajectory. I’m excited to join the team and add to Sterling’s value!
Yesterday marked the 7th anniversary of the first tweet. For a service that was initially met with much skepticism (why does the world care that I’m eating a sandwich?), Twitter has steadily become a necessary PR tool, taking its place alongside (or in some industries, ahead of) the traditional press release. In honor of Twitter’s 7th anniversary, we have compiled 7 ways Twitter has changed the PR industry as we know it.
- Information dissemination. Perhaps the most tangible use of Twitter today is the ability to quickly distribute news to a mass audience. Twitter moves fast, and its users are constantly checking to see what’s happening now. The downside is that it’s easy to miss the opportunity if you don’t jump in quickly, and in some industries or organizations, a lengthy approval process can translate to missed opportunities for the organization. The solution? Sit down with executives, legal, investor relations, and anyone else who may be skeptical of the process and come up with a list of best practices and approved topics.
- Scandal. No doubt about it, Twitter can be a double-edged sword for PR pros. While the ability to quickly distribute news and opinions makes for more timely and relevant opportunities for a brand, it can also spell disaster when tweets are not thought through carefully before posting. Just a quick search in our own blog archives shows numerous instances where a Twitter faux pas has been the cause of a major cleanup job for a brand’s PR team (none of our clients, of course!).
- Engagement. PR used to primarily serve as a one-way communication function — and often a third party function at that. The traditional chain of command was brand –> journalist –> target audience. With Twitter, conversations look more like brand <–> target audience.
- Media relations. In addition to serving as a great channel for connecting brands to their audiences, Twitter has also become a great way for journalists and PR pros to converse, giving journalists story ideas and real-time feedback on their articles, in addition to discussing industry news in general.
- Humanization of brands. Whether a large enterprise, your neighborhood coffee shop or a celebrity, Twitter has enabled consumers to feel personally connected to people and organizations they wouldn’t have such close contact with otherwise. This human touch can go a long way in terms of making consumers feel more connected to a brand, knowing there’s a real human on the other side of the computer screen.
- Customer service. In the same vein that Twitter has humanized brands, it has also provided a valuable customer service channel. While some brands may shy away from having their dirty laundry aired for all to see in the way of customer complaints, how a brand chooses to address these issues can go a long way in shaping public perception. A brand that’s responsive – even if it’s just to say “email me at ___ and we can discuss this further” – looks more in-tune with the customer than a brand who turns a blind eye to customer complaints. Remember, conversations are happening about your brand, whether you’re a part of them or not.
- Viral tactics. How did things go viral before Twitter? Or was this term even a part of our lexicon before then? Whichever the case, there’s no denying that Twitter has been essential in viral marketing campaigns. The very nature of the retweet makes sharing as easy as one click, enabling links, videos and articles to spread like wildfire across a large audience.
So there you have it. 7 ways in which Twitter has changed PR as we know it. Did I leave anything off? Fellow PR pros – how has Twitter changed how you work?
Working three part-time jobs while attending college and participating in a Division I women’s rowing team is not necessarily living “the dream.” I worked remotely in public relations for two separate companies, while also working in catering at school. One might think, “Wow, this girl must really need the money.” But the truth is, I got paid “didly.” I worked because I enjoyed doing what I was doing, and I didn’t want to have to give up one activity for another. Through my unusual college experience, I learned that you can do everything you love all at once, as long your time is well spent and well managed.
After interning in the public relations field for three different companies for nearly three years, I felt it was time to move forward and jumpstart my career as a full-time PR professional. After graduating from Gonzaga University, I knew I wanted to move out of Spokane and return to my native city by the bay, San Francisco. Amongst other things (like finding my heart where I had left it four years ago), I was eager to earn a position in a public relations agency and begin my growth in becoming the PR pro I know I am destined to become. The only obstacle in front of me was finding that perfect job.
Finding a public relations job in San Francisco was like aggressively trying to find a boyfriend. Note: I used the word “aggressively,” not “desperately.” Countless options, but too few one would actually consider committing to. I knew I wanted to work for a company that allowed me to grow as a professional and individual. I wanted to work in an environment that is challenging, endearing and rewarding.
For me, that company is Sterling Communications. Besides checking off every item on my list of qualities I would expect in an agency, Sterling added to it. I know I will constantly be challenged while working at Sterling, whether it’s expanding on existing skill sets or developing new ones. Public relations is more than just media relations and writing — it’s storytelling. This is what I find Sterling to be doing differently and better than most other agencies. Sterling introduces non-traditional practices of communications, such as video production and web development. I am excited to begin working with Sterling and doing what I love to do: connecting with people and sharing their stories.
Now, to me, that is time well spent.
Last week, the Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA), a Sterling client, hosted their annual “Predictions” event – bringing together some of the brightest minds in the Seattle tech industry to get their take on what trends and events defined the previous year — and what will be big in the coming year. This year’s panel was unique as it looked at the tech industry from a VC perspective, as all panelists came from various stages in the investment process.
From the traditional VC perspective was Steve Hooper, founding partner at Ignition. Matt Dyor, managing director of the Microsoft Accelerator, spoke from the incubator perspective; and Sujal Patel, former president at Isilon, shared his viewpoint as an angel investor. The panel was moderated by Enrique Godreau III, managing director at GSharp Ventures.
When asked what was one of the most important qualities of a company seeking funding, all agreed that the willingness to listen was important. According to Hooper, “If they can’t listen, they can’t take advice.”
When Godreau asked the panel their opinion as to what trends were on their way out, Dyor was quick to note that zero revenue models are waning. Companies and investors now are interested in monetizing from the start. Patel said that VCs have already funded too many cloud companies, and Godreau noted that that consumer Internet entertainment is overcrowded.
Panelists were next asked what scares them, and most agreed that losing our entrepreneurial spirit would be the demise of innovation. According to Hooper, certain government regulations could threaten an environment that fosters entrepreneurialism. Patel noted that China and India are poised to step in and fill America’s entrepreneurial shoes, should the U.S. lose its entrepreneurial drive. On a related but more local scale, Dyor cited the talent flight to Silicon Valley, should entrepreneurship wane in the Pacific Northwest. Godreau cited an entirely unrelated fear and a valid question: “who owns my ‘data exhaust?’”
When asked which industry is next to be transformed by technology, Dyor answered with “my inbox.” Patel referred back to “data exhaust,” noting that big opportunities await for those who find a way to analyze it and turn into action. Hooper hoped we would continue to evolve phones, citing technologies such as RFID and calling us a “click and done society.” Godreau believed the next revolution was lurking in the education industry, which stands to impede the next generation of entrepreneurs if standards don’t improve.
Next, Godreau asked the panelists what they were surprised hasn’t been fixed yet. Both Hooper and Patel referred to phones again, with Hooper lamenting why in this day and age, we still find dropped calls normal and acceptable. Patel commented on how ridiculous it was that email is still so limited on your smartphone. Godreau laughed at the fact that three way conference calls are still so difficult!
When asked whether there is a social media bubble, both Dyor and Godreau agreed that the next step is finding value. According to Godreau we’ve delivered entertainment, now how to we deliver value?
In closing, Hooper noted that there’s a lot of money to be raised, even in bad times. If it’s a great idea, great ideas get funded.
Patel added that there are so many misunderstood ideas, where no one believes in a product but the founder.
Misunderstood ideas? Sounds like clear messaging and a good communications strategy may be the answer, if you ask me!
Image via GeekWire.com.