Archive for December, 2008
Before doing so I just wanted to say thank you! I know there are a ton of blogs out there and I really appreciate you all for taking the time out of your busy days to generate conversations, provide insights, and share experiences. It’s your passion that continually drives us all to embrace change and listen to all the voices that are helping shape the future of marketing, communications and social media.
It has been a pleasure to get to know you all and I am excited to see what 2009 brings! Wishing you all a year filled with much continued change, healthy debate, prosperity and new friendships!
And it wouldn’t be a New Year’s post without a prediction or two! Here’s mine:
In 2009 companies will begin implementing social media, but with a traditional marketing mindset. Meaning, they will start to embrace the tools but will do as one-way communication because it’s what they are most comfortable with. (While this type of implementation might draw scrutiny from some, I believe it’s a step in the right direction.)
What’s your prediction for 2009?
(And yes, it’s a real Philadelphia Mummer!)
Even More Goodness! Related Posts:
It’s that time of year when the holidays spark a certain reminiscence about the year that has past and excitement for the year that is ahead of us. As a community that truly believes in the value of social media, we also know that it’s not just passion for marketing, communications, PR and social media that brings together…it’s also our other interests that truly makes for strong relationships.
So without further ado, I invite you all to join me for a potluck feast. Potlucks are wonderful because you never know what someone will bring and often times it gives you a chance to try something you may have never known about or ever tried.
For this potluck feast, I ask you to share a favorite blog or website (or more if you’d like!) that you enjoy and that you think others might want to feast on, it’s that simple. (And no, it doesn’t need to be marketing related–that’s the beauty of a potluck!)
Here’s what I am bringing to the table:
- Geert Hofstede Cultural Dimensions
(a great site for anyone interested in understanding more about different cultures & international business)
- The Anti 9-to-5 Guide
(a great site for women who might be considering going solo in 2009)
Happy holidays to you all!
Even More Goodness! Related Posts:
Yes, there’s another PR upheaval going on folks. By now I am sure you’ve heard about Michael Arrington’s Death to the Embargo post over at TechCrunch. If not, go take a read…I’ll still be here, pacing around while waiting to hop on my soapbox.
And after reading Valeria Maltoni’s post The Break up: PR and Media on News Embargoes and Jason Falls’ post Is the Future of Advertising Public Relations? (BTW, both excellent reads if you haven’t already), I felt the need to jump in and share my opinion.
What, you may be wondering, has me deciding to be vocal? Well, these two comments for starters:
Michael Arrington: “Tech companies are desperate for press and hammering their PR firms for coverage on blogs and major media sites. That in turn means that PR firms hammer us to get us to write about their clients.”
Jason Falls: “I say new-fashioned because old-fashioned is sending blast emails to hundreds of media outlets or bloggers and calling it a day. New-fashioned is reaching out personally to individuals to build a relationship and working with them to meet their needs and yours in symbiotic fashion.”
Fail! As in F-.
It’s the PR agency’s or internal PR person’s job to educate and advise the client or company on how to best reach any media outlet whether it’s print, on-line or a blogger. And this includes being able to stand up and just say no. If you don’t have the courage it takes to say no to pitching the wrong publications or outlets, to say no to CEOs and VPs who want to see their name in print for no other reason than vanity, to say no to spamming anyone, anywhere… you really need to rethink your career. You ARE the trusted advisor and you ARE the voice of the client/company and you ARE tarnishing both by not saying no (within reason and when it’s most important, of course).
It’s the PR agency’s or internal PR person’s job to build the necessary AND trusting relationships with journalists, reporters, blogger, etc. This isn’t anything new. This is, um, public “relations.” How difficult is it to understand YOUR audience/community? To read their articles or blogs? To learn how they think, understand what makes them tick? Know the industry and respect that they are stretched way thin and always awaiting a pink slip. How about giving them what they need so they might return the favor one day? Really, you don’t have an hour or two a week for relationship building? And if you work for an agency or company that won’t let you take the time to build relationships or understand the people you need to reach out to, you need a new job.
I should point out that the ‘fail’ isn’t reflective of Michael or Jason…just the notion of the comments. I know, trust and highly respect Jason. These comments are just symptomatic of what’s going on in our industry.
PR people, please step up and stop the madness!
Do you know how many years I have been hearing these complaints from journalists, reporters, etc? Seriously, Michael Arrington isn’t new to the complaint department; he’s just overly vocal because he has a line of people willing to take a ticket and listen to him. And this certainly isn’t a new challenge because of the advent of social media or blogger relations. Ask any print or online journalist and they’ll tell you the same thing. They have had this same issues for years. How have they responded? By deleting your e-mails, ignoring your calls and throwing out your packages. (Oh, and now, those on Twitter want a pitch in 140-characters a la TwitPitch. How’s that for pressure?!)
Oh yeah, and remember Whack-a-Flack (circa 2001)? I am sure anyone who’s been in this business longer than a blogger does (seriously it was all the buzz!). In case you aren’t familiar with it, here’s the introduction:
Tired of pushy PR flacks and overzealous young account execs huffing breathlessly over the virtues of the next Useless.com? Feeling bombarded by inane hype? Here’s your chance to give them a taste of their own… media kit.
Choose the PR agency that you’d like to give some comeuppance to. Let us know why they’re being whacked. Then have at ‘em with our Whack-a-flack Shockwave game.
My, how nothing has changed.
What are your credentials Beth Harte?!
Yeah, I know what some of you might be thinking. Who is Beth Harte and who the hell is she to tell the PR industry what to do?!
I’ve never worked for an agency. I’ve always been on the corporate side (until now). I’ve worked for companies where I was the PR lead (i.e. pitching, developing relationships, and writing all by my lonesome) and I’ve worked for the companies where I managed PR agencies and internal PR processes (private, public and a Fortune 500). I also teach PR at Immaculata University.
In case you are wondering if I can walk the walk, well, let’s just say I’ve almost lost my job twice for saying no on more than one occasion. In fact, given that I was eventually laid off from both those jobs, I’d venture a guess to say it had something to do with it. And I am okay with that…it’s called having professional integrity (and I take the PRSA Code of Ethics seriously).
I’ve carried media relationships with me from job-to-job and well, for obvious reasons, it’s very helpful. I’ve also been at the end of a journalistic rifle more than once. Having relationships in place helped neutralize potential crisis situations and spared me from being shot, fired or both.
Last thoughts while on the soapbox and before I duck flying arrows…
Folks, bad PR practices spread like a virus. And make no mistake our industry has always been infected…it’s just a virus under a giant microscope now and that’s not going to change.
And before you start loading the bow, let me just say that there are A LOT of agencies and PR people who are doing it right, they understand and respect the importance of relationships. (Example, Tim Hurley of Blue Point Venture Marketing who pitched me on his client’s latest news. Tim sent me a TwitPitch followed up by an e-mail.) As well, there are bloggers who don’t skewer PR folks for that day’s shish kabob lunch. The challenge is that we all need to work together to change the industry.
I know it’s a hard pill to swallow, but journalists and bloggers need to educate PR folks on how to get it right. And PR folks need to listen to them, HEAR what they are being told, and put it into practice (immediately, if not sooner).
Jumping off the soapbox for now, but sticking around to hear your thoughts. Can we pull this change off together?
P.S. Oh yeah, please don’t tell me what an arrogant ass Arrington (alliteration not intentional, it just is) is. Really. Pretty please? This isn’t about him. This is about opening up a conversation to make the PR industry, hopefully, move in the right direction. Maybe I’d have better luck with an ocean liner…
Even More Goodness! Related Posts:
I am a big fan of companies including video in their marketing mix (I wrote about it here and over at Search Engine Guide) and I don’t mean the overly produced and edited corporate kind. I mean the whip out the video camera and go to town type of video (okay, maybe with some slight edits). Why? Because I think they put a human face on a corporation…something that is sorely lacking these days.
Recently I was contacted by Tim Hurley, Managing Director at BluePoint Venture Marketing (Note: Tim used to worked for Porter Novelli who was my agency of record at a previous job) to let me know that his client, PermissionTV, just released some findings on where video will fall in the marketing mix spectrum in 2009.
Typically I am skeptical when it comes to PR agencies doing surveys like this for clients because, well, I have done them myself and know they can be…let’s just say slightly skewed. But this survey (complete with details), looks interesting and given that it’s a prediction trend for 2009, we should be able to see if the survey pans out. That said I am more curious to see if you are experiencing the same thing with your clients or within your marketing departments.
Here’s the high-level overview (details here) as I received it from Tim:
PermissionTV surveyed more than 400 senior-level advertising, marketing and media executives-from media companies, Fortune 1000 and small and medium enterprises representing several verticals like financial services, telcos and manufacturers, as well as agencies. The survey findings show that online video will remain a primary focus for digital marketing budgets in 2009-and will be more widely used than search and social media** and will be least affected by marketing budget cuts.
The survey examined the following:
- What stages companies are currently in online video initiatives vs. future plans
- A comparison of online video investments vs. search and social media
- Percentage of companies that expect to implement online video next year
- How online video will enhance customer engagement
- 2009 digital marketing investment trends – what areas are likely to be cut, increased or maintained
- Traditional advertising agency vs. digital/interactive advertising agency
**It’s interesting to me that corporations and agencies think they can use videos for branding/promotion efforts and expect that they will go viral (WOM) or that they will be embraced without being social (i.e. engaging their community). This reconfirms for me that companies still might not understand the benefits of social media and developing a community (prior to diving into and using these tools) and that they will continue to use social media tools to do one-way traditional marketing. Am I wrong with this assumption? I hope so.
Even More Goodness! Related Posts:
The bad economy has brought to bear one unwelcome change. With a desire to use more cost effective communication forms, companies are looking to social media. As a result, there are many, many companies, agencies and consultants rushing to offer social media services. Unfortunately, they don’t know what they’re doing.
Companies need to turn a discerning eye onto their potential social media partners. Here’s a quick list of some ways to vet potential social media experts.
- When asked about listening, gives you a blank stare.
- Converses at people instead of with them on social networks
- No tangible past experience delivering return on investment either for themselves or others
- Doesn’t understand how social media integrates into larger corporate communications or business strategy
- First recommendation is to blog
- Believes in delivering messages
- Will ghostwrite blog posts and other social content for you
- Is willing to impersonate you online in social networks
- Trots in “social media expert” for sales meeting
- Their blog is less than six months old or has no comments
- Blog only has links to traditional 1.0 media sites
- Cannot host conversation without constantly interjecting self into said conversation
- Talks about cultivating your personal brand
- Will not allow employees to participate in larger conversation
- Will guarantee results without any prior experiences
- Just added new social media department
- Recommends Facebook Group as first tactic
- Defines social media as only tools (Facebook, blogs, Flickr <INSERT SHINY OBJECT HERE>) as opposed to conversations with communities
- First campaign involves a contest without a strategy
- Doesn’t know what Technorati is
- Talks about applying mass communications theory
- Posts less than five times a month on their blog
- Thinks social media is about creating content
- Suggests publishing promotional copy as social content
- Believes social media is the sole terrain of either PR or advertising
What would you add to this list?
[Image: Rifle Expert by Randy son of Robert]
Added on 12/19/08:
An hysterical video version from Andrea Vascellari (it’s worth the 5 minutes, Andrea adds on some good ones):