Archive for March, 2012

How Journalists Use Social Media – Secrets Revealed

As a PR practitioner, I have a pretty good understanding of how folks in my craft use social media to generate ‘buzz’, to create interest in a new idea, but ever wondered if and exactly how journalists use social media?  Well… allow me to share these insights with you.

Understanding how journalists use social media to research articles can be key to your PR strategy, ensuring your efforts are targeted in the right places.  If you know where journos get their information from, you can make sure that your information is there first, can mean that they pick your story or pitch up before they look at something else.

Some interesting research into just how they do this has shed some useful light on how social media marketers and PR folk can best utilise the various social channels.

On average journalists use three different social media channels for each article they research. They find corporate blogs the most useful, while Wikipedia and Twitter were the second and third preferred channels, according to a new survey from global PR specialist Text100

Twitter and YouTube ranked as being of greater use than LinkedIn and Facebook, highlighting the importance for brands in building compelling content.

The study noted that while journalists welcomed contact from PR professionals through social media, their receptiveness varies from channel to channel. While 85% welcomed contact through their Twitter profiles and 84% are happy to approached via LinkedIn, only  42% of media welcome contact via Facebook.  It seems the use of Facebook is still overwhelmingly for social purposes.  To view the infographic in full, click here

Interestingly, the press release is still seen as more useful information source than any social media channel, so by all means don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater and eliminate press releases altogether.  They are still important.

Generating media coverage for your clients can sometimes feel like a military campaign. If you want to hit your targets, you need an entire arsenal of ammunition at your dispoal – and press releases still have their place in the kit bag, but don’t overlook social media as to deploy with great effect.  It is a light, flexible and powerful weapon to use in order to a way to reach and influence journalists.

Yours in PR

It’s Not Me, It’s You. Why Are Consumers Breaking Up With Brands?

Relationships between consumers and brands, in many ways, mirror relationships they have with other human beings.

Some folks are brand-monogamous, such as the age-old Ford vs Holden debate, for when it comes to cars for Australian men it’s a case of pick and stick for life.

Other relationships can be more fickle, and sometimes it can take one bad experience to put a consumer off a particular brand forever, and they can do great damage to the brand by discussing its flaws in details with their friends, generating negative word of mouth, much as people do when they discuss the flaws of their ex-partners with their friends.

For other brand relationships, there is a degree of inter-changeability, for example one might flick between WeetBix and VitaBrits the next week without batting an eyelid.

These consumer-brand relationships are complex and fascinating.  A recent study by ExactTarget in the United States has made some intriguing discoveries about how how social media, depending upon its deployment as a strategy, can both undermine or support a consumer’s relationship with their favourite brands.  The full report info graphic can be viewed here

Among their findings, it was revealed that:

  • 54% of those surveyed felt that they received ‘permission emails’ from brands too frequently
  • When asked why someone might ‘unfriend’ a brand on Facebook, 44% said it was because the brand posted too frequently, thereby clogging up the user’s news stream
  • In response to the question why consumers ‘unfollowed’ a brand on Twitter, 52% said it was because the brand’s tweets were repetitive and boring

Finally, it seems when a consumer-brand relationship is over, it is O-V-E-R, there is no equivocation, much like in human relationships.  Once that customer-product bond is broken, it is broken for good, as respondents said they would take the following steps to sever the relationship: unlike on Facebook, unfollow on Twitter, unsubscribe from their email list.

So what’s the learning here?  If brands are serious about building long-term, monogamous relationships with consumers, then the same rules for human relationships apply.
1. Don’t pester them
2. Don’t be repetitive and boring
3. Don’t waste their time

Or, if we were to put a more positive spin on it, contact your customer when you have something interesting/important/new to say, respect their time and use it economically.

Social media can be a powerful tool to reinforce B2C relationships but only if it is used wisely, strategically and sparingly, in support of the brand, but keeping the customer’s needs at top of mind, as it seems from the research that there is such a thing as loving your customers too much.

Yours in PR

Kony 2012: Hijacking of Social Media?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few days, you would by now have learned about Joseph Kony, a Ugandan warlord and alleged criminal whose story was the genesis for the most powerful and effective viral social media campaign since its evolution a few short years ago.

Last week, Kony’s alleged atrocities were known by the more well-informed world citizens, experts in international affairs and human rights and foreign correspondents, and now he is the subject of a YouTube video that was watched – at the time of writing this blog – by 74,401,259 people around the world.  That’s 74 MILLION people.

It is fair to say that the world has never experienced a media phenomenon like this, certainly not in my lifetime. What is fascinating to me is the obvious cross over that has occurred from the social media realm into traditional media.  The most obvious example of this was when Network Ten ceased their regularly scheduled programming at 8pm on 8 March 2012, in a prime time viewing slot, no doubt seeking to capitalise on the extraordinary interest in the story that had been generated digitally.  Ratings would suggest that this endeavour failed, as Network Ten came in 11th on that night at that time slot. Perhaps by then, Kony 2012 was already old news?

While the dust is still settling from this social media phenomenon, already important questions are being asked.

The most important relate to the credibility and trustworthiness of the source of this documentary – made by a group known as Invisible Children, the brainchild of American Jason Russell.  Prior to Kony 2012, few had heard of Russell or his organisation, and if his objective was to raise awareness, not just about Kony but also about his organisation, then, well, mission accomplished.

But media analysts are quite rightly asking just who are Invisible Children, what is their agenda, who is funding their operations, and most importantly, are they legit, and can we trust the content that they have distributed, with stunning success, throughout our world?

It sets a potentially disturbing trend, in that it is the content of social media that drives the audience, and it appears if that content is salacious/scandalous/shocking/moving enough, and if there is sufficient buzz created about it, that we all tune in and watch it without first scrutinising WHOM is sending out the message.

The dissemination of news and information via social media does to a large extent circumvent the gatekeepers that ordinarily make judgement calls about what news we read.  This to an extent has led to a democratisation of the news, and has made all of us journalists, as, armed with our mobile phones and built-in cameras with access to Twitter and Facebook, we can make the news as well as consume it.  The difference is there that on social media there is no Chief of Staff, no Editor or Sub-Editor deciding which stories are important, and, critically, which ones are true.

But I wonder, if we are so quick to absorb and trust digital content from sources that are unknown to us, doesn’t that make all of us vulnerable to being exploited by propogandists, advertisers, political lobbyists and others who seek to (and already do) use social media in order to persuade us to support a cause (such as bringing Kony to justice) to support a political candidate or myriad other shady objectives that are not so transparent. I wonder if perhaps we are not so far away from a time when flagrant abuse of social media for personal views and personal gain may lead to these channels also being screened, edited and censored prior to our viewing thereof.

For the moment, unless or until such controls exist, to borrow the age-old retail adage, it is an example of ‘buyer beware’, or in the case of social media ‘viewer beware’.

Yours in PR

Is PR a ‘Pink Ghetto’?

I am eternally fascinated by the creation of new buzzwords and phrases to describe developments in our modern world, and as they relate to PR in particular, but I must confess I am underwhelmed by the latest concept of the moment – that of the ‘pink ghetto‘ and speculation this week that PR is one such ‘ghetto’.

What is a ‘Pink Ghetto‘ I hear you ask?  According to news reports, a ‘Pink Ghetto’ is an industry that is described as being ‘highly feminised’, i.e. where women make up a predominant percentage of the workforce.  Okay, that explains the ‘pink’ part, but the ‘ghetto’ aspect is less than flattering and has the implication that women get stuck there, and that their presence therein implies some loss of freedom and scaling-down of entitlements.

It would be of little surprise to many that such professions as teaching (particularly primary teaching) nursing and childcare have long been regarded as Pink Ghettos, but I was somewhat surprised to read the recent reporting this week (click here to read the coverage) that both human resources and PR are now regarded as Pink Ghettos too.

A report by Sydney recruitment firm Salt & Shein has found areas like public relations and human resources can be practically male-free zones, which according to the study had left women feeling  “pigeonholed” in certain roles, that there was a “logistical nightmare” managing maternity leave and flexible working arrangements for mothers, and ultimately a lack of diverse views.

I must admit to being fairly puzzled by this reporting.  Why is it that male-dominated professions like mining or automotive industries or banking and finance are not regarded as ‘Blue Ghettos’?

I believe that the subtext of this debate, and what is not being said, is that industries that are regarded as Pink Ghettos are not seen as being prestigious or well-paid, and while that may be true for nursing, teaching and childcare, I don’t agree that the same is true for PR, which provides an industry for men and women that is interesting, stimulating, highly-skilled and well-remunerated.

From my own experience, as PRincipal of Publicity Queen, I have deliberately sought out and incorporated into my team talented, intelligent women and I celebrate the contribution they have made and continue to make to my business and to the clients whom they represent.

Applause also must go to the National President of the Public Relations Institute of Australia Nick Turner, (who is a man, did anyone notice?) who in response to this week’s reporting said any suggestion that corporate affairs teams made up of only women may not be taken as seriously as a male team was “offensive – to females and males” and was “1900s thinking”.  Bravo! Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Even if we accept the statistics that suggest that PR does have a preponderance of women working within in it, let’s own this fact and be proud; and rather than a ‘ghetto’, let’s celebrate the pink powerhouse, the pink presidential suite or even the pink corner office! There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

Yours in PR,

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