Archive for June, 2009
Yes, yes, I know you’re all running to get your pitch forks so you can pull a Marie Antoinette on me. Hear me out…
The definition of authentic is pretty simple: not false or copied; genuine; real
I have been thinking about this a lot and recently had a few conversations with folks where I actually said it out loud. One of those places was the O’Reilly Twitter Boot Camp. I was sitting on a panel with Tony Hsieh (Zappos), Marla Erwin (Whole Foods), David Deal (Razorfish), David Puner (Dunkin’ Donuts) and someone asked a question (honestly, I forget what it was) and these words crossed my lips:
You know…PR’s never been authentic. In the past, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written a byline or press release (or my agency has) and after it shows up in print it’s only a matter of time before a co-worker (or a customer or a vendor) comes up and says, “that was a great article by John Smith…I didn’t know he knew so much about X, Y, or Z.” And then I have to tell them “Well, John didn’t really write it. I did (or the agency did). He had some input and reviewed it.”
Two comments inevitably happen after this exchange:
“I KNEW he wasn’t that smart!” (Usually from a co-worker that’s been trying to get ink or dislikes John Smith) OR “Wow, I am surprised… I thought our people were always writing these great articles.”
Either way, it’s been a lose-lose situation each and every time.
As these words crossed my lips at the Boot Camp I thought for sure my panelists and the attendees would disagree with me, but to my surprise, I saw nodding heads.
I know what you are thinking…I shouldn’t be telling people that John Smith didn’t write the article, it’s a standard PR practice that everyone knows about. But you know what? I can’t BS people and never have been able to. I am not going to lie and say someone wrote an article that they didn’t. Now, on the flip side…I’ve worked with many a co-worker that has written their own byline or provided tons of input and I give them all the kudos in the world.
What I am talking about here are the flat out bylines that someone’s name gets slapped on because they haven’t been “given ink” in a while or the press/news release that was fabricated because the VP of Marketing thinks it’s time for one.
Now, I know what you are thinking…that’s just a bad PR practice and I would agree. But I am also not naive enough to believe that it doesn’t happen.
Why has this been rattling around in my head? Because this false notion of PR authenticity is at the foundation of the ghost blogging and ghost tweeting debate and where it goes awry in the social media world.
I don’t know about you, but these days when I read an article, a tweet, or a blog post I want to know that the person’s name on the article is the person who actually wrote it (yes, yes, I know ghost writing has existed for-ev-ah). That it’s their experience, their emotions, their writing and tone. And if I find out that Jane Doe at an agency really wrote it, well all credibility is gone in an instant. And believe it or not, after a while you can tell someone’s style and tone and when it changes (Um, Oprah book club anyone?!).
In our new PR 2.0/social media world I believe people expect authenticity…especially when they are used to it. When they read a tweet, they want to know that it came from John Smith [or at the least someone from John Smith's company. [Marla Erwin swears no one cares who exactly at Whole Foods is doing the tweeting as long as they get the help they need...and I am sure she's right. But I am betting if they outsourced all their tweets, people would start to have an issue with that. Just an opinion, maybe I am totally wrong. Marla?]
So, my premise is simple… if someone didn’t write it themselves, it’s not authentic.
I know people are busy, I know companies are lacking budget and struggle with implementing social media. I think if they can’t engage authentically then they should hold off because social media forces authenticity.
That said, I am open to learning about how you feel about this topic. Especially if you’re a PR practitioner engaged in social media. Am I wrong? Is it authentic to write someone else’s words?
If so, let me ask this: Is it authentic to copy a Picasso and sell it as such because you’ve ‘represented’ it properly?
By the way, I have left out some pertinent PR aspects intentionally because I am more curious as to what your thoughts are/reaction will be.
I am afraid of guillotines, so please…be kind.
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There’s been a lot of buzz around measuring the ROI of social media here and other places and it seems to come up a lot during the #pr20chats (PR 2.0 chats on Twitter). Sometimes measurement is a deadly sin (lack thereof) and sometimes it’s seen as a holy grail (can’t get there). Whichever it is, it’s not limited to social media…measuring ROI is also a huge issue for marketers and PR folks too.
Measuring marketing, PR and social media can be relatively simple if you have a plan. And the plan is probably the hardest part, especially getting consensus (management and co-workers), being able to implement it and-most importantly-being agile enough to change on a dime when an element of the plan isn’t working.
I’ll let you in on a little secret, I didn’t learn how to write objectives (the part of the plan that makes it measurable) in college or on the job. Nope! In fact, I learned how to write measureable objectives from the PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) when I took their weekend APR (Accreditation in Public Relations) course about 8-9 years ago. Because understanding how to write a plan with measureable objectives is a large part of achieving the APR, it was also a large part of the weekend course. Since then, I have used what I learned for marketing and PR campaign plans throughout the years and it’s really been helpful to show management if campaigns have been successful (or not) and how I’ve been a contributing member of the marketing team.
I’ve heard a lot of people say that there isn’t standardization when it comes to measurement. I’d say what I am about to share is as standard as it gets… And if you haven’t already picked up a copy of Katie Paine’s ‘Measuring Public Relationships,’ you better rush on over to Amazon.
Some of this you might know, some maybe not. In any case, feel free to share your best practices.
Writing a Plan: The Basic Elements
A basic plan should have:
- A goal (One. If you find yourself writing “and” in your goal, you’ll probably need two plans)
- Measurable objectives (as many as needed)
- Strategies (every objective gets its own strategies)
- Tactics (every strategy gets its own tactics)
- A way to measure
A plan could essentially look like this:
- Objective 1.1
- Strategy 1.1
- Tactic 1.1
- Strategy 1.2
- Tactic 1.2
- Objective 2.1
- Strategy 2.1
- Tactic 2.1
- Strategy 2.2
[This basic plan assumes you know your or your client know their challenge, audience, budget, etc.]
Goal: I want to lose weight.
Objective: I want to lose 10 pounds by July 15th
Strategy 1.1: I will go to the gym 5 times a week
Tactic: I will use the elliptical machine, weights and the pool at the gym
Strategy 1.2: I will watch what I eat
Tactic: I will write down everything I eat
Measurement: I lost 8 pounds by July 15th (I didn’t achieve my goal)
Knowing the difference between goals and objectives
When I ask marketing/PR folks what’s their measureable objective is I often hear “to generate more sales” or “to get our key message out.” These are not objectives…they are goals. And because goals and objectives are often confused, it leads people thinking that they can’t be measured in a truly impactful way.
Outputs, Outtakes and Outcomes: Three types of objectives
For objectives to be measureable they must include (no exceptions):
- A specific desire communication or behavioral effect;
- A designated public (or publics) among whom the effect is to be achieved;
- The expected level of attainment; and
- The timeframe in which those attainments
are to occur.
Basic Example: To increase number of presentation downloads by online public #1 by 20% within 3 months. (Pretty easy, right?)
Once you understand what is required for a measureable objective, then you need to understand what type of objective makes sense: output, outtake or outcome.
- Output: Physical products (i.e. whitepapers, tweets, blog posts, articles, etc.)
- Outtake: What will the publics take away? (i.e. messages, perceptions, understandings)
- Outcome: What quantifiable changes in attitudes, behaviors, or opinions (i.e. did they buy something?)
Here’s the catch:
Outputs are easy and it’s apparent whether or not you did what you said you would in your plan (was that whitepaper written and tweeted out?). Outtakes require bench marketing and monitoring (how do you know where you ended up, if you didn’t know where you started). And Outcomes require heavy lifting. Because, and this is VERY important, Outcome objectives are usually where ROI ties in, and an organization will need to track all efforts and follow them, most likely, through a CRM system, which isn’t always easy to do.
So what’s the point to this post? Well, people are losing patience when it comes to conversations around social media (as well as marketing and PR) not being measureable. Everything is measurable; you just need to make the time to plan for it. And trust me, as I have said in the past, I have never worked for an organization that enforced or required a plan. That said, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have one. A plan is a great way to show, whether you’re client or agency side, your value as a marketing, PR or social media pro. That said, no one ever said it was easy…
What do you think? Too basic? (That was the point.) Not real-world enough? If so, why are we trying to complicate it?
As always, I am interested in your thoughts, experiences and where this is all heading.
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In our little social media world we always talk about what organizations are doing wrong and the seven deadly sins that are made when it comes to PR 2.0, but not about what they get right. [And I say 'little' because, let's face it, PR 2.0 isn't mainstream yet.]
There are lots of PR pros working hard to get it right every day and when things come together, there’s an amazing sense of accomplishment and success. But all too often, it’s short-lived and overshadowed.
So then, what are the seven holy grails of PR 2.0? What is it that we continuously strive for like we’re King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable? [Feel free to think Monty Python if it gives you a chuckle.]
This week’s #pr20chat brings us some interesting grails…
Grail #1: Having researched benchmarks (overall or per campaign) [Susan Cellura]
Grail #2: Quality testimonies across multimedia platforms [Lisa Devaney]
Grail #3: Quantifying how much the needle has moved [Stephanie Mrus]
Grail #4: Agreement on Objectives (Output, Outtake and Outcome)
Grail #5: Consistent key messages regardless of vehicle or voice [Stephanie Mrus]
Grail #7: At its heart, an organization and its employees must live what it’s doing in social media/PR 2.0 [MattSnod]
Other notable grails mentioned:
- Complete transparency between client and agency [Narciso Tovar]
- Overhearing (in public) people talking about an initiative you helped bring to life. [Len Kendall]
- Extracting & quantifying Word of Mouth results from clients to measure success. [Lisa Loeffler]
- Breaking down silos. [Stephanie Mrus]
One thing to keep in mind when reading (and responding) to the list of grails is that there are many PR pros come from different backgrounds, experiences and types of organizations. There are no standards across the board…just yet. So, if you think any of these aren’t grails and have achieved some or all of them, it would be great if you could share your insights so we don’t continue to think that these grails are only legends in our own minds.
How do we achieve these grails? What’s holding us back? What would you add or remove?
One that I’d add is PR pros understanding how to communicate and partner with ALL publics (not just the media and bloggers).
NOTE: #pr20chat is every Wednesday night at 8pm EST on Twitter. Feel free to join in anytime and to offer up topics for discussion.
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You’ve probably figured this out by now… being a part of a community (on and offline) is very important to me. Whether that community is a made up of peers, customers, friends, or advisors it doesn’t matter. The beauty of being a part of a marketing community is that the members are typically equally passionate, they care about the profession and everyone has something of value to offer.
Sure we all come at marketing with differing perspectives, experiences and practices; we often have strong debates about the future of marketing; and we often question where trends are leading us, but through it all being part of a community makes us confident, strong and smart marketers.
And marketing isn’t just a job to me―it’s a major part of who I am as a person (Go ahead, think it: she’s a marketing nerd!). Sure, there are other things in life that I enjoy like art, culture, history, politics, reading, movies, beer, cowgirl boots, scarves, but marketing is a passion that consumes the better part of my day (okay, I’ll fess up…nights and weekends too!).
What you might not know is that I’ve been engaged in social media for the past five years and have found a home in many online communities. You probably also don’t know that The Harte of Marketing is my second blog [my first was a blog under a nom de plume where I wrote about cowgirl boots, scarves, books and my (mis)adventures on eBay. Trust me...I know what it's like to get only a few comments over the years! ]. Having been involved in social media as a consumer versus a marketer has provided me with a great deal of insight that pops out every once and a while.
Personally, I can’t think of a better way to put my actions where my words are then by joining the MarketingProfs team as Community Manager. I’ve been a long time fan of MarketingProfs and I’ve come to depend on them when I need an answer to a question or insights on solving a challenge. Truth be told, a bunch of my marketing smarts are a result of being a MarketingProfs member (and, well, sometimes I just needed that gut check, which was thankfully found).
Just like most community managers, part of my job is to engage in marketing and MarketingProfs communities on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other forums; to listen; and to make sure that we are delivering content that continues to be valuable and relevant to our members. I’ll also be the liaison between the community and the MarketingPofs team. There’s a whole lot more that goes into being a community manager, but I didn’t think you’d want a laundry list.
So, I guess you could say, there won’t be too many drastic changes…I’ll still be myself, marketing will still be my focus, conversation and engagement will still happen and I’ll still be blogging here and over at the Daily Fix. And, I’ll still tweet and retweet things regarding MarketingProfs, just like I always have. It’s just that I’ll be part of a much larger marketing community now (MarketingProfs has over 320,000 members! Wowza!).
And if you’re guessing that the uber-smart Ann Handley will be my boss, you’d be correct. I am really looking forward to joining Ann, Allen Weiss, Roy Young, Susanne Sicilian, Kathy Bushman, Shelley Ryan, Tara Curran, and the rest of the brilliant, creative and passionate MarketingProfs gang!
As for Harte Marketing and Communications, I’ll still be doing a wee bit of consulting with folks who truly need marketing and social media help, but it will no longer be my day-to-day focus.
Thanks for letting me share my exciting news!
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Last week marked the one-year anniversary for The Harte of Marketing and what a year it’s been thanks to so many amazing people! When I first started THoM I really didn’t think anyone would read it, let alone care about what I had to say in regards to marketing, PR and social media. With so many other well-established and great blogs out there I almost considered not blogging at all but, I hated Twitter at the time (imagine that?!) so microblogging was out. And, apparently, my thoughts are too verbose for 140-characters (i.e. I talk too much).
My blog is a place for all the ideas swirling around my head to take form and have a home. And, being a marketer, I test a lot of things too…different topics, types of posts, etc. some work and some…well, not so much. I’ve also written posts that I wish I hadn’t and some posts that I re-read and think “wow, I wrote that?!” But, at the end of the day the person I compete most heavily against is myself and I don’t see that changing anytime soon…it’s just my nature.
And please know, I recognize that my blog would be nothing without the people who read it, recommend it and talk about it. I have had so many people come up to me at confereneces and say “I love your blog!” And you know what? Each and everytime I feel a mixed bag of emotions…giddiness, embarrassment, pride, thankfulness, honor and humility. I am honored that you take time to read my thoughts, opinions and rants, but it humbles me to know that you do.
While I could never thank everyone the way they deserve to be thanked, know that I am truly grateful that everyone takes time out of their busy lives to read my posts and leave thoughtful comments. What I love most about this experience is that everyone feels comfortable enough to kick off their shoes, share their opinions, get into debates and make this blog as much theirs as mine.
I always hate making lists of people to say thank you too because I fear leaving people out, but there are some folks that I would be remiss without thanking them publicly because they have always been there to support my efforts and they continuously encourage and inspire me.
Liana ‘Li’ Evans – My dear friend who opened up the world to me in so many ways, I am forever grateful.
The Original Plurk Posse – Mack Collier, Connie Reece, Amber Naslund, Sonny Gill, Deb Robison, Kellye Crane, Frank Martin, Andre Natta, Tim Jackson. I am not sure there is enough space here to share my gratitude for all of you and what makes you as individuals so wonderful! You helped me not to trip and fall, you showed me what it means to develop friendships, you shared all of your smarts without asking for anything in return, and… you put up with me!
The Philly Gang – Whitney Hoffman, Gloria Bell, Annie Heckenberger, Cecily Kellogg, Marilyn Moran, Wil Reynolds, Steve Lubetkin, Christine Cavalier, Linda Mills, Melissa Thiessen, Joe Geoghan, Cathy Larkin, Lindsay Lebresco, Leigh Fazzina, Anne Buchanan, Jocelyn Canfield, Rick Alcantara, Brian Branca, and Matt McDonald (even though he deserted us for SC!). It’s been a pleasure to get to know you all and no matter what anyone else says…you’re the real brain trust of Philly!
Thought Provocateurs – Kami Huyse, Shonali Burke, Lauren Vargas, Ann Handley, Narciso Tovar, David Mullen, Lisa Hoffmann, Arik Hanson, Scott Hepburn, Paul Chaney, Gavin Heaton, Adam Cohen, Danny Brown, Shannon Paul, Christina Kerley (CK), Doug Haslam, Steve Woodruff, Gennefer Snowfield, Dave Fleet, Kyle Flaherty, Heather Rast, Greg Verdino, Doug Meacham, Ike Pigott, Gabriel Rossi, Richie Escovedo and many, many more!
Valeria Maltoni – Having known Valeria for nine years, I can tell you that she has always understood the value of conversation! Not to mention that she valued the importance of networking long before social media was even a buzz word. Valeria was one of the first people I followed on Twitter and her words of wisdom to me were “listen and then engage.” Which I, of course, took as, “read and then respond immediately” (might explain my dislike for Twitter back then). Valeria is a true mentor, thought leader, genuine passionate marketer and connector.
Geoff Livingston – I remember when I first reached out to Geoff for copies of Now is Gone to hand out as prizes at the local PRSA like it was yesterday. I was a bit nervous to email him, but Geoff was amazingly graceful and generous to a complete stranger. Thank you again for supporting our local efforts and for becoming a friend!
Jason Falls – The first well-known blogger I had ever publicly debated with about where social media’s home should be either marketing or PR. Well, since PR falls under marketing, I guess I won that debate! [Kidding, couldn't resist.] Jason was great about letting me keep coming back to debate him. What’s best…he never told me I was wrong, even though he might have thought it. I don’t know where I’d be without his smarts and kick-ass sense of humor!
Major apologies if I have left anyone off!
Your Top 10 Picks of the Year
- 25 Signs You’ve Got a Strong SM Consultant or Agency (written with Geoff Livingston)
- Chicago Domino’s Gets Social Media Right!
- Personal Brand Equity: What’s it worth?
- Is social media the same as marketing?
- Personal Branding: Be careful what you wish for
- Who owns your Twitter or Facebook Connections?
- The Four Faces of Social Media
- Social Media Ghostwriting: The Great Marketing/PR Debate
- Top 25 Ways to Tell if Your Social Media Expert Is a Carpetbagger (written with Geoff Livingston)
- The Seven Deadly Sins of Public Relations 2.0 (written by the community via #pr20chat)
I don’t know what the future holds. But having been engaged in social media for five years (before it was called social media and social networking), I’ve witnessed how things trend, move on, break off, and fade away as part of the societal lifecycle. And you know what? If my blog fades away, I am okay with that. It’s just a sign that it’s time to mature, move on and do something different.
Again, thank you to everyone who has taken the time to get to know me, friend me, debate/challenge me, agree/ disagree with me, and share your lives with me. Cheers!