Posts Tagged 'digital marketing & PR'

Exploring the Evolving World of Media, Technology and PR

Alternately as publicists, communications strategists, social media marketers, and general media advocates—in other words, as Public Relations professionals—we’re highly interested in the evolving world of new media, technology, and new methods and distribution channels for reporting. We understand that these developments are an integral part of what we do, and we’re pleased to be actively involved in some of these spaces. In the past few months we spent time away to examine more closely what’s happening in the fields of journalism, media, technology, and therefore public relations. We’re excited to post our first findings here.

Capping our activities, we participated in Illinois Humanities People-Powered Publishing Conference, subtitled “Innovation, Community, and the Future of Journalism.” As it turned out, this conference gave us a national picture of what’s happening in these areas.

A Changing Sense of Audience

To begin with, perhaps in the future, the whole concept of “audience” will change, or even diminish. Hearken, the company behind its namesake community engagement platform for news organizations, describes the audience as all of us, and the relationships we share with others.

audience-silhouette-black-large-panoramic-view-35594276

 

By this view, the “audience” isn’t consumers, or for PR purposes “publics,” sitting out there waiting to engage with us and what we do; the “audience” is our network of friends, associates and even strangers who we interact and engage with in some way on an ongoing basis. Think of it—as a practicing or aspiring journalist, PR person, social marketer, content developer or thought leader, you view yourself as an integral part of whatever community you’re looking to engage with, and not separate from it. Otherwise, you’re missing the point.

Giving and Receiving Feedback

When you’re in almost any business, especially media, PR, journalism and social networking, how we share information and receive feedback is vitally important. There’s a lot of study, development and, in some cases hand-wringing, going on related to how best to share, then receive and process feedback. In the real media world of today, much of that receiving feedback focuses on comments—how to receive them, what to make of them, and how best, or even whether, to respond them. Here’s a peak at how much actual science is going into how individuals are managing daily, or should be managing, such interactions as comments.

____________________________________________________

Are you thinking about two-way conversation and feedback? Important questions:

1) whether comments are allowed;

2) what are the rules/guidelines for commenting and how are they customer-engagementcommunicated or monitored;
3) are comments curated or moderated, and who’s assigned those duties;
4) when we solicit feedback, especially in social media, are we too limited in our range of choices (e.g., like, share, comment, etc.)

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While we’ve always agreed that it’s not the best judgment to assign digital and social media curation to an intern, as many do, we wondered how much actual forethought organizations are giving to addressing crucial questions like those above, directly tied to audience engagement. It was also exciting to see that one group, the Engaging News Project makes the case for and offers additional feedback tools such as downloadable buttons for Respect, Important, Recommend, etc., for posted content.

Of course, your individual goals, objectives, organizational culture and policies, should guide answers to some of these questions. However, it was great for us as consultants and counsel to re-examine some of these questions to make sure we consider a wider array of options in making recommendations to clients.

Re-Emergence of Civic Journalism

What’s old is new again! Remember back in the 1990s (for those of you old enough to recall) the trend in journalism toward more participatory, collaborative reporting between journalists and community members toward what was considered the greater good. It was called civic journalism, and though the trend fell out of vogue, it never died in some places. With the further decentralizing of the news media, and news reporting capabilities now made possible widely via mobile, social and digital media, there’s a renewed push for more collaborative journalism between news reporters and community members. Be on the watch again for the terms civic journalism and “engaged journalism,” even “public journalism”—all of which speak to what the Democracy Fund, one of the organizations spearheading this media transition, describes as “transforming the relationship between news consumers and news producers.” (Overholser, Democracy Project)

cropped-impact-of-social-media1

Some of the other organizations actively promoting more open and collaborative efforts include The Pew Center for Civic Journalism, which describes itself as “an incubator for civic journalism experiments that enable news organizations  to create and refine better ways of reporting the news to re-engage people in public life”; the Coral Project, dedicated to creating open source tools to further empower news content developers of all sizes; and university-based research centers such as the Engaging News Project, at University of Texas/Austin, mentioned above.

In addition to all of these, there are a number of working models and examples of collaborations between media and community organizations aimed at diversifying news gathering and news content. At People-Powered Publishing, several of those featured included experiments in Baltimore, Chicago, Philadelphia and Kansas City, to name a few.

Technology

More specifically on the technology front, Mozilla OpenNews, enables peer-to-peer networking and problem-solving by techs, journalists and digital content producers to “help journalism thrive on the open web.” It’s an example of the kind of high-stakes networking, research and development, and collaboration taking place to maximize and support technological developments in the news business.

At behooves all PR pros to at least be aware of these initiatives, and to perhaps look for ways to participate and engage on behalf of their organizations or clients. The news business is changing radically right before our very eyes. It’s important for public relations professionals to be on the cusp of those changes.

Think you’re a thought leader? You’re probably wrong… but here are 3 ways to become one

As our readers know, we write regularly about public relations strategies and tactics, corporate social responsibility (CSR), marketing and customer service, storytelling, etc. Another topic that sparks our interest is thought leadership. Below we reblog an article on what makes a thought leader. As far as we’re concerned, we couldn’t have said it better. If you like the post, or have something else to say about thought leadership, let us know in the comments below.

Financial Post | Business

Thought leadership. A term bandied about daily by public relations people trying to build the reputation of their CEO. But most people talking about thought leadership have no clue what it means. And most content labelled as “thought leadership” is actually missing the elements of both “thought” and “leadership”.

That’s a shame, because what Canadian businesses desperately need right now are a few business leaders who are willing to seize the conch, demonstrate leadership, and challenge government and industry alike in a public and personal way.  Instead, Canadian leaders are notably absent from the international stage. January’s meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos is a perfect example. Of the more than 2,500 participants, only 36 are listed as coming from Canada. Just eight speakers for the summit are listed as Canadian, and not a single one was representing a Canadian-based business.

That means Canadian CEOs were almost…

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Teaching Public Relations in a Digital World

Public Relations

As a PR professional, I recently had occasion to step back into a role I occupied almost two decades ago: that of PR teacher. Of course, I’ve taught numerous media courses since then—writing, social media marketing, speech, media studies– but none of them specifically public relations. It’s interesting because in the ’90s I actually led the public relations sequence for a California university. Nevertheless, even though I’m active in public relations every day, I hadn’t really had occasion to think about how I’d teach it today in light of all the changes in the digital and social world that have impacted the industry.

Given that opportunity after being invited by a school for a visit, I came to realize the new way I would teach public relations today. Here’s what I decided: I’d teach PR similar to how I teach social media marketing,college teacher with emphasis on content, strategy, marketing, storytelling, plus visual storytelling, and with an understanding of cross-platform integration through Web, digital, social and mobile. With that, I’d underscore these points:

  • Content, means good writing, even great writing … finding your own voice and how it connects w/ others.
  • Competent execution: You don’t have to be great, but you have to be good … you have to understand the fundamentals, and then some. Hopefully, you can always team with other specialists to make execution great.
  • Attitude for collaboration: Understand that expertise is increasingly part of a shared experience. Knowing how to work in groups and teams is a fundamental. Politico CEO Jim VandeHei said it best when he shared his internal memo on Politico’s culture:

“People who thrive here are highly talented, self-motivated doers who are brimming with passion and a desire to win. …

There is no tolerance for office drama and problem ducking. Litigate differences in person, bluntly but respectfully. If a problem arises, confront it directly and don’t waste the time and energy griping about it with others. And then move on.”

 I’d also add: Be familiar with the new “tools of the trade.” For public relations, this is no longer the caricature of an individual practitioner with simply a phone, a competent media list, and a news release or a news pitch. Today it might mean creating a Storify, Flipboard, Paperli or infographic. It’s also about understanding digital, social, and mobile platforms, how they operate, intersect, and how they can work best together in a marketing context. What does Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc., offer a brand? How can they be effectively used to create and advance a product or organizational narrative? PR and marketing today is about the synergies you can create across platforms. It’s formally called “channel agnosticism—using paid, earned, owned and social to, as described by Jennifer Risi of Ogilvy Public Relations, “tell a cohesive story that resonates with discerning consumers.”

What’s your idea of the best methods and practices for teaching public relations in a digital world? Let us know.

Reclaiming A Brand: The PR Story of Velcro

Xerox did it. Kleenex did it. Post-its did it. Now Twinkies, among others, are working to do it. The “it” here is reclaiming a brand from potential generic usage and, in the process, losing a valuable business trademark. Now VELCRO is working to do it. We all know what “velcro” is—that incredibly handy fastening device used to seal and unseal everything from shoes, bags, backpacks, briefcases, coats, swimsuits, scuba wear, household devices, and even disposable diapers.

hook and loop

Velcro-style hook and hoop fastener

Well, what many may not be aware is that VELCRO is a company and a brand, not just a fastening material—categorically known as ‘hook and loop’ fasteners. So now, in case you missed the previous rebranding campaigns cited above, here’s another opportunity to watch a global company as it embarks on a rebranding effort  to “snatch back” its singular identity in the public mind. It’s a fascinating public relations and marketing case study, not to be missed.

For starters, here’s a few things to know:

VELCRO kicked off its rebranding initiative in March, 2012 with a public announcement and the unveiling of its Brand website:

http://www.velcro.com/About-Us/Press-and-News/Velcro-Website-Launch.aspx

As the larger campaign unfolds, it is perhaps just now just coming into public awareness, with online advertising and stronger social media presence.

Velcro ad

As we said, this will be a very interesting campaign to watch. See if it changes your own understanding and behavior.

Also, for the fun of it, here’s a list of other companies who’ve had to travel down this same rebranding path, albeit, perhaps not so successfully. Keep in mind, for us it might seem like the game of “Trivial Pursuit”; for these companies, it’s big and serious business!

Note: We’re riding a trend! Shortly after we published this post, we found these  write-ups on similar campaigns underway with Xerox (http://bit.ly/1b4OSsR) and Twinkies (http://bit.ly/18cvGt1), also mentioned in our story. All are worth checking out for the hows & whys and lessons learned.

 

More On Companies Daring To Do Good

Panera Restaurants

Over the span of our posts, we’ve complimented a wide array of companies that seem to be particularly attuned to marrying their business operations with what we call “smart marketing” and corporate social responsibility. Panera has been cited as one such company, on more than one occasion. Today, in his own words, Panera’s founder, Ron Shaich, talks about the principles that guide the company’s business and good deeds … Daring to Do Good

And on more than one occasion, we’ve written about the benefits of C-suite blogging as a way of “keeping it real” and staying in touch with customers and other important audiences. We’re happy to give a platform to others who share that view. Here’s a testimony from Twitter social leader & blogger, Claire Diaz-Ortiz …

“Starting a blog was one of the smartest things I ever did …”

May 07, 2013

Inspired reading, on both counts, we hope! Let us know what you think.

New from the ‘Net: All About Content Marketing, New Ideas, & Brand Journalism

Where would we be without the Internet? I know it’s an obvious statement, but do abstract background @ & internet

you ever ponder the question? Sometimes, usually following some great find online, I think, how would I ever have come across this info if not on the ‘Net? So, in that spirit of sharing, I’m here today to share some especially helpful posts from the Web.

First, if you’re in PR and have been preoccupied with—or in some cases, maybe just vaguely aware of—the terms content marketing and thought leadership, here’s two must-read articles to help you understand these trends that have taken hold in the industry. Yes, there may be a lot of good reads on the topic out there, but I think AdAge’s article, “Solving the Content Creation Conundrum,” is the one that may help get you up to speed most quickly.

Then, once you’ve got a basic understanding of content marketing as a foundation, this MinnPost story will give you some idea of how the dynamics of content marketing are playing out in the industry.

Wait, there’s more … In this digital era, how are you creating and cultivating new ideas?

A timely question, which got us to thinking after reading an article on the same topic, once again in AdAge. So what are you doing to grow good ideas? This article will share not only some nifty new tech products you may never have heard about, but will actually give you a sampling of how the “ideas” people work … you know, the ones who are radically changing your workplace & mine.

And finally, while we’ve leveled some criticisms, we also like to take a look at some of the creative things companies are doing in this new media/new marketing environment. Starbucks is often a frequent target. To that end, here’s the latest on what Starbucks is doing to keep its brand (and its innovative CEO Howard Schultz) in the public mind.

Hope you found something that makes you go, Ah!

More Organizational Storytelling and PR from Ford Motor Company

PRDoctorChicago is all about Communications experiences, insights
and lessons learned from pros.

A few months ago, we wrote about organizational storytelling and kicked off the post with an incredibly forward-thinking quote by Henry Ford on communications and business. Ford Motor Company’s approach to communications and its outreach to customers has been making news again.

The article below by Ashley Zeckman on TopRank Online Marketing Blog serves as a timely update, offering myriad lessons to communicators on such tough topics as marketing, branding, consumer engagement, marketing mix, social media content, etc. Check it out for some “deep” lessons learned …

  Scott Monty on How Ford Empowers Customer Storytelling                        & Lessons Learned

“As marketers we all know that storytelling is an essential part of connecting with prospects and customers. Scott Monty (@scottmonty) and his team at Ford have taken the art of storytelling a step further.

In his moving (yes I said moving) keynote, Scott walked the audience through some of Ford’s most recent and innovative campaigns. In many of these campaigns the story is told not from the perspective of Ford, but from that of the consumer. Below you’ll find more about the stories of these campaigns, the people who told them, and the lessons learned.”

Continue reading … http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/01/scott-monty-customer-storytelling/

Business Wire Markets Integrated Marketing/PR Platform Analogous to PRDoctorChicago App Concept

On May 1, we were pleased to announce our visionary new mobile app concept for  companies/organizations that integrates PR, social media and marketing platforms. On May 8, Business Wire, one of the leading business news wire services, announced a “powerful new integrated marketing and public relations platform for press release and marketing content.” As with our proposed 360̊  public relations, or Immersion Public Relations app, the Business Wire platform allows companies to “truly show off their news, photos, videos and provide an interactive experience to a larger online audience,” as well as to engage in other forms of popular social interaction (blog, post, comment, etc.).

While our small boutique PR firm doesn’t have the resources to compete with a global business brand such as Business Week [one of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway companies], we’re proud that our proprietary ideas and marketing savvy rival those of industry leaders. We’re happy to bring that expertise to work for your organization.

In the meantime, we invite you to read the entire Business Wire product announcement here, as well as once again share in our May 1 post on PR 2.0 & Beyond. As always, we also welcome your thoughts, comments and ideas as we press forward.

PR 2.0 & Beyond

What’s Next in Interactive PR?

Lately the online media buzz has begun to shift from social media to mobility. Even talk of the emerging juggernaut Pinterest has begun to wane. Yet, in some ways social media and mobility go hand-in-hand:  Both enable users to interact and engage creatively and directly in unprecedented ways. Whether mobility will overshadow social networking in coming months remains to be seen, but it’s clear mobility is offering new challenges and opportunities for PR practice.

New Technology Creates New PR Opportunity

In recent weeks, we’ve been engaged in a number of conversations with colleagues examining media and digital technology trends. Consequently, we’ve spent a lot of time lately talking about our vision of where, and how, PR 2.0 & mobility converge. Our take on the point of intersection is a concept we alternately call “immersion public relations,” and 360̊ public relations.*

 Immersion PR

 In our view, mobility, and its ever-growing stable of related user applications (apps), provides companies with an unparalleled opportunity to showcase the best of who they are as a brand, seamlessly integrating all platforms. This means customers/users can immerse themselves in key aspects of all company-related marketing content–including proprietary Web sites, product showcases, social networking, corporate video, electronic newsrooms (e.g., press releases, advisories & annual reports), traditional media coverage, blogs, etc.— in one-stop-shop fashion, creating the most complete marketing experience the company can provide. Moreover, companies are able to control this changing mix of content , updating it periodically, as dynamics change within the organization or brand.

We also think of this new PR “app” concept as 360̊  public relations,* referring not only to the broad showcase of content, but to the experience of the user being enveloped in the digital space by every conceivable conception of a company the user can imagine. We envision this as a singular experience, more dynamic, and therefore more compelling for customers/users than experiencing the same content on separately accessed platforms.

At MediaWorks, we are embracing and moving into mobile technology to better serve PR clients, so we’ll be actively engaged on “R&D” for “immersion public relations” over the upcoming months. We invite you to join us in creating, sampling and developing this promising new technology. If you’re interested in immersion public relations* or 360̊ PR,* please feel free to let us know how you like the concept, what you find useful or appealing about it, and what steps you may be taking to develop this new technology.

As always, you can reach us with a comment below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

*Trade names adopted by MediaWorks, Inc. directly related digital applications incorporating multiple aspects of traditional marketing & PR.


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