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    Online observations of public relations, marketing, advertising and social media; the occasional frivolity; and The Rundown show notes. Jump in, the water's fine.

    Please Note: Everything posted on this blog is my personal opinion and does not necessarily represent the views of my employer or its constituents.

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Friday Frivolity – Real Life Twitter

As Twitter popularity grows, so does the resulting questioned looks we get as we try to explain it.

And no wonder, imagine Twitter in real life…
[feed readers click through for video]

more about “Real Life Twitter – CollegeHumor video“, posted with vodpod

This is what happens when you actually say the things you would normally just tweet, out loud and in public.

Very reminiscent of my Friday Frivolity – Facebook in Real Life post from last year.

I harp on this a lot, but you’ve always got to see how your audience is going to see a new tool, a new tactic or a new strategy. So remember this when talking to clients – put on your newbie glasses and try as hard as you can to see what they’re seeing. Whether it’s a new digital approach to an old problem or an exciting new step in unchartered territory; always view it from the audience’s perspective first. Then explain it. Then execute with the client’s blessing.

Because if you don’t explain in properly, your just showing people pictures of your cat.*

*not meant to slight cat people, cat bloggers or cats who blog. Please don’t email hate mail to me, it’s a reference to the video. Watch it again. I love cats, actually. I’m a cat guy myself. If I had a cat, I’ll bet he would blog. I had cats before blogs or at least before most cats blogged. It’s the keyboard she didn’t like. Now, if they come up with some meow-recognition software that actually WORKS, then we’re talking…

Jimmy Eat World Gets Social

Here’s a cool update: I just got a DM on Twitter from @jimmyeatworld “thanks for the nice article! and thanks for listening.” Nice work, guys. I’m hooked.

As a fan of both social media and music, I like to report on outstanding social web exercises. One of my favorite bands, Jimmy Eat World, has been forcing me to engage with them online – and I like it.

jimspan

Check out my guest post, Jimmy Eat World Gets Social on The Round Table where I discuss my love affair with the band’s engaging approach to their 10-year anniversary of the Clarity album.

Check Jimmy out online:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/jimmyeatworld

Website: http://jimmyeatworld.com/

Clarity site: http://clarity.jimmyeatworld.com/

Ustream: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/jimmy-eat-world-live

The Value of my BA just plummeted

My hometown paper printed what I find to be a rather depressing article this week. Not only is it depressing, but in my eyes it devalues my college education worse than a college president caught doing blow and hookers on his lunch break.

Sharon Stone was just awarded an honorary degree from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. A second article notes:

Sharon Stone — the flamboyant Hollywood actress, globally-recognized humanitarian, Crawford County native and former Edinboro University of Pennsylvania student — received an honorary EUP doctor of philosophy in public service degree Wednesday at the university’s eighth annual Frank G. Pogue Honors Scholarship Luncheon.

Ms. Stone grew up in a town not far from Meadville (my hometown) and some of the stories I’ve heard about her as a child and teenager make me cringe. I’m sure they’re blown out of proportion and sensationalized, but there are guaranteed to be a few that are true, especially the stupid ones. I’m certain that Ms. Stone has done great good for causes around the world and donated more money than I’ll ever even make. Still doesn’t counter the irrational judgments I have bouncing about in my head.

But that’s my opinion and I’m entitled to it. Good thing I’ve got an MA or my self-esteem would be decreasing at a 1:1 ratio with the value of my undergraduate degree.

PR dissed by journalism – again

This is old news to many (April), but it just re-read it again on the Bulldog Reporter this week. It touched a nerve. Bob Zelnick, a former ABC news correspondent and head of BU's journalism department stepped down from his post because he recognizes his inadequacies as an administrator. Good on ya, man. It's good to recognize one's strengths and weaknesses. He will instead become a professor of national and international affairs. I admire that. What I found surprising is what he said when he left.

For example, the headline from the Bulldog: Boston University’s Outgoing Journalism Program Chairman Snubs Communications Dept.—Says PR/Advertising and Journalism Should Be “Adversaries,” Not Interdepartmental “Cousins” like, ouch, man.

Headline from the Boston Globe article: Debate roils BU department (By Sarah Schweitzer and Marcella Bombardieri) Well, at least you can tell which article came from a PR source ;) The part of this article that I like best is the quote from Bob.

"Zelnick said the journalism program has become increasingly competitive with the best in the country, but 'we will never get a Grade A, first-rate, nationally recognized journalist to lead this department as long as it's linked' to mass communication."

It's funny he should say that. As a recent graduate, I've been thinking for years that communication studies have been held back by the placement of the departments in colleges or schools such as Journalism, Fine and Applied Arts, or Stuff No One Cares About in universities across the nation.

I just read Everett M. Rogers' book "History of Communication Study" and I at least now have an understanding of why things are that way in colleges today (you should read it if you like dry, lengthy historical books. Good info, though). But I agree with Zelnik, the departments could be separated, but I think for completely different reasons. Communication study has developed immensely in the last 40 years and deserves a home of its own. Students and communication fields would benefit greatly, especially PR. I applaud those universities and colleges across the world with stellar PR departments, but often students end up at schools they can afford or geographically get to – not often the best schools for all that learnin'.

Any thoughts or is this a tired subject? 

Social Media: Vitamins of the Web

Like getting enough vitamins or fiber in your daily diet, social media might actually be good for you. Things like blogging and podcasting, you say? Indeed. Let me show you some examples.

This report from The Boston Globe entitled "Blogs 'essential' to a good career" pretty much says it all. But, in typical Luke fashion, please allow me expound upon the self-evident. The articles lists several excellent reasons to blog, one of which is to help you launch your career by demonstrating your work-ethic and mental processes. If you don't believe me, check this out.

And, as you know, corporations can reap the benefits as well. Sure, we've been talking about this for a while, but here's a study that actually gives some empirical data. This study, pointed out to me by David Phillips on FIR (thank you), indicates that blogs have "relational strategies," such as conversational human voice and commitment. These strategies were found to correlate significantly with relational outcomes such as "trust, satisfaction, control mutuality, [and] commitment." Blogging can make your organization seem like Soylent Green, you know, made of people. It has worked wonders for Microsoft…

Podcasting, how does this fit in? Easy, for many of the same reasons as The Boston Globe article about blogging. Plus, listening to podcasts in their entirety could get you a two-minute self promotion spot on a major mash-up edition of influential industry-related podcasts. Chris, I listened to the FIR#131 and ATS #29 mash-up. Your promo was great, good luck.

And some new information about the web in general is always good. For instance, the Pew Internet & American Life Project released a study (abstract w/link to pdf) last week showed a gigantic increase in the influence the Internet has on our lives (hat tip). You don't have to tell me! Nearly half of my graduate education came from the Internet – by my own choice, of course. Some stats:

  • 50% in the number who said the internet played a major role as they pursued more training for their careers.
  • 43% in the number who said the internet played a major role when they looked for a new place to live.
  • 14% in the number who said the internet played a major role as they switched jobs.

In sum: Social media is good for you. The Internet continues to grow in popularity and usefulness. Eat your fruits and veggies. Any questions?

Back from Break & Burning to Blog

It’s amazing what a well deserved break can do for a person. And if you don’t think I deserved a break…well, then. So?

But now break is over, gone are the hours when I could sit by the pool. Gone are the long walks on the beach, sipping Margaritas, playing shuffleboard, and picking citrus fruit right from the tree when hunger strikes. Gone are the days of sleeping in. Back to reality, back to school, back to Ohio.

Back to some new and exciting news and good PR happenings.

First of all, I have been invited to join – as a principal contributor – the new Student and Pro PR Community called Forward, where I will be participating regularly on the blog. Forward is the brainchild of Auburn University Senior Erin Caldwall (you should check out the resume she posted on her PR blog – wow). Forward‘s main page reads:

Welcome to Forward — the online springboard for new and upcoming PR professionals.Our goal is to provide insight, answers and information to sharpen your perspective and help you go Forward in your career.

Here you’ll find:

  • commentary and advice from students, faculty and professionals from around the world from varying levels and areas of PR
  • information to help you find PR experience and how to make the most of it
  • the opportunity to learn about trends and tools that they don’t teach you in college
  • helpful interviews with professionals
  • a comprehensive list of suggested reading material including blogs, books and professional publications

I’m looking forward to contributing and learning from such a wealth of PR resources in this community. You can read my first post here. Thanks, Erin.

Next, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but For Immediate Release: The Hobson & Holtz Report podcasters Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson have signed a book deal with McGraw/Hill to write a book on podcasting, which I am very anxious to read. I say this with authority because over break I read three books, two of which Shel Holtz wrote – and I was very pleased with all of them. One could say I loved them, but that would be weird.

Blogging for Business was the first book and PR on the Net was the second book, which is out of print, but every PR person should still find a copy to read. The last book I read was Naked Conversations, which helped solidify blogging in the public eye, in case you didn’t know. Also, while I’m on the subject, the For Immediate Release page has a paper I wrote available for download on Public Relations Autonomy. The author’s liked it, they critiqued it in Show #111, and posted it to their website. Thanks, gentlemen.

And that’s about it. Check out Forward and if you haven’t read the books mentioned above, please do so, as a PR student or professional you’ll find them invaluable.

Laermer’s Vapor Warning & Good Pitches

I read this post and just couldn’t pass up a chance to send it along. Richard Laermer, author of Full Frontal PR and co-author of The Bad Pitch Blog, posted a highly engaging and unique look at pitching, what I would call, fluff. He calls it vapor and I love the way he uses it. My favorite quote is:

Ken will not pay attention because you’ve proven yourself to be a vapor merchant.

Ha, I love it! And that won’t make any sense until you read the post, but you should. Go read it now. It’s a clear cut description of what – I think – is one of the problems with PR these days. This is especially important for those of us about to graduate and be thrust into the field, forced to write releases about the CEO learning to “reply all” and how Ted went from Deputy Manager of Internal Squeaking to Assistant Director of Corporate Hallucinating. And at first, we won’t have a choice, we’re the “new kids,” we ought to just do what we’re told. But as we mature in the business, we may have to do some educating, the student may have to become the master. For the benefit of you, for the benefit of your company, for the benefit of the future of public relations we may have to take a stand and say, “Sir, not only is this not new, it’s not news. Nobody cares.”

And that will be our task, in my opinion. Find aspects of our clients or organizations and MAKE them news. Not empty noxious vapours, but actually turn organizational happenings into news. It can be done, I think, but there’s the rub, eh?

In addition to the Bad Pitch Blog, which posts educational lessons on both how to write pitches and especially how not to write pitches; there is a new blog is on the block. This one is the Good Pitch Blog by Todd Defren. I haven’t had a chance to read much of it, but what I have read is informative and worth reading.

So there you have it, two resources on pitching. Now go on, try to learn something out there!

It’s public, baby, not private

Still learning a great deal about this Internet, World Wide Web, and the blogosphere. Beth and I learned a few lessons early on when we got comments from influential PR bloggers Jeremy Pepper, Elizabeth Albrycht, and Constantin Basturea. Oh, people are actually reading this thing? Uh oh.
It really exemplified for us the idea that people are out there listening. I have the same chance of being read everyday as does the New York Times or other influential PR bloggers. You laugh, but all it takes is a few keywords in a search engine to produce this post. Scary. What’s really scary is how I find out about this. People can comment on your site directly showing that they are not only listening, but that they are joining the discussion. My blog stats tell me when someone has linked to us. I found out that Robert French was blogging about Graduate Observations that way.

Sometimes you find out in unusual ways who is “listening.” I subscribe to the daily PRSA PR Issues and Trends e-newsletter. The first line in the February 15th edition read:

Armour and Farrell’s presentation on Social Media, from the February 8th meeting of the University of Akron’s chapter of PRSSA, are available for download at:
http://homepage.mac.com/lukearmour/PRSSA/FileSharing8.html

I was stunned. “How did they find out about that?” I wondered. Well, duh, it’s on the Internet; it’s public, baby, not private. We had intended that information to be a resource for the people at that PRSSA meeting and for those who couldn’t make it. We never intended for it to be broadcast to the national PRSA and PRSSA membership. It immediately made us a little nervous. What if the presentation was a dud and people are out there pointing and laughing at us. Well, I guess next time we’ll think about that. Robert French tried to persuade me that PRSA wouldn’t have posted it if it hadn’t have been good. He’s assuming that they downloaded and viewed the presentation and the handout, but I appreciated his reassurance all the same. Thanks, Robert.
So what does all this mean for PR?

  1. You never know who’s reading. Monitor the Internet, someone complaining about your product/ service/ company has the same chance of being read as The Wall Street Journal.
  2. Watch what you say. I try to keep this professional, but every time I get a comment or link from a PR person whom I respect I break into a sweat wondering, “have I written anything embarrassing. To be blunt: don’t put yourself in that position if it’s something you worry about.
  3. Have something to say. Bloggers blog to blog. I have a personal blog where I rant and rave and say outrageously ludicrous things. Who cares what I say because my mom may be the only person reading it. It do it for me. But if you’re a business or someone trying diving into social media because everyone else is doing it: remember that having a strategy will indicate if it fits into your plans or is just something you want to do. It will do more harm than good to blog or podcast about something no one cares about or is hastily put together. It’s kind of like a news release. Would you send one out without any actual news? (Of course you would, but it’s never a good idea, that was to be a rhetorical question.) What’s the point? You could save everyone a lot of time, bandwidth, and money if you just wrote newsless press releases, printed them out, and put them directly into the trash yourself.

And another lesson learned.

PR ROI PDQ, WTH?

How many articles have I read on the subject, how many podcasts have I listened to lamenting the lack of it, how much time is wasted talking about ROI and measurement for PR, when no one can seem to come right out with an answer? Well, there’s probably a reason for that. It’s hard.

By why is it so difficult?

Don’t ask me, I’m a student. So I’m going to list a few resources to check out and then maybe we can have a discussion here about it. I’d be interested in how you or your organizations measure the effectiveness of public relations. What measurements do you use? What metrics? How do you justify your position, your work, your daily activities. I’ve worked for a company that basically called any free publicity “public relations” I use to grind my teeth to stubs every time they did it, but I just kept my mouth shut. I was freelancing, invited in, and not working there very often. Obviously they were looking for publicity, client’s name in publications anywhere, for any reason. What this was doing, I’m not sure, but it was what I was getting paid for. I also recently interviewed with an organization that clipped articles, counted column inches, and told their clients that they were getting ten times worth the advertising space for a fraction of the cost. It was a vehicle enthusiast industry, so it worked for them. But what else?

So we’ve put together case studies, metrics, checklists, lessons learned articles to get you through the day, the week, the year in PR. And we’ve also culled experts from corporations, agencies, consultancies and academics to share their expertise on the subject.

  • Dr. Linda Childers Hon has done extensive research on the subject. I’ve read a few of the articles. Good case studies, excellent ideas, research, and metrics.
  • KD Paine’s PR Measurement Blog is an interesting read. There’s a link to this site on our sidebar.
  • PR Newswire’s White Paper “Using Media Intelligence Tools to Drive Communications Success,” by Nancy Sells, vice president, PR Newswire is also a good resource. Go here to request the free whitepaper.

So there are some resources to check out. I’m VERY interested in what others have to say about this. Do you work someplace where they measure the PR? Do you have metrics for your work? How does your dominant coalition (management team) view the role of PR or communication? Are you married to marketing and the sales determines success? Let me know your thoughts on this measurement, evaluation, justification issue…we’re listening.

Presentation Notes Posted

Hello all!

The presentation notes from Armour and Farrell’s Social Media presentation at the PRSSA meeting 2.8.06 have been posted here. The link can be permanently found in the Fun Links side bar to the right of every page.

The post currently includes the PowerPoint presentation and the Hot PR blogs and podcasts handout we…handed out. Thanks for letting us speak with you, we had a great time.

UPDATE: Constantin Basturea sent a comment (see comments below) about the Bloglines PR page located here. Another great resource with some other great blogs in addition to the ones we posted. It’s global and broken down by category (education, government, business, etc.) Thanks, Constantin.

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