So you've got your budget in place, lots of new initiatives under way and your company is ready to top the charts with news and buzz.
That's all fine and good, but you gotta have more than that.
You have to have an internal resource - often not the VP of Marketing who can be a go to person who can take ownership of the client / agency relationship.
Years ago, PR was pretty much handled by a VP of Marketing or the Director of Marketing Communications. We developed communications strategies, wrote traditional press releases, did outreach to the media and industry analysts and it all worked very well.
Now, with Social Media, the team and the nature of what we do has expanded. There is a shift to voices - and having multiple voices in a company. Often times, it's in real time. The voice of my clients are found on Blogs, conversations on other blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia and yes, in industry analyst reports and traditional media.
Before you move forward, it's important to make sure that if I call on an internal resource for product information, technology clarification, input on messaging, availability to be interviewed, or integration with your IT department for social media initiatives, everyone on the team has buy-in and is willing to make the time to integrate strategic PR and Social Communications into the mix.
Today, I spoke briefly at the San Antonio North Chamber Luncheon on the subject of Social Media in the Enterprise. Most of my talk was centered on internal policies, mostly dealing with employees and team members.
I think the overriding principle should be: "use common sense and don't be mean or stupid." Your mileage will vary, but at the very least you should have some type of policy or policy initiative in place.
The presentation is on SlideShare or you can download and print here:
Whenever I talk about doing traditional press releases, I generally get a blank stare or a look of disbelief.
Typical Responses I get to the notion of press releases and heaven forbid, using a Wire Service like BusinessWire or PR Newswire.
"Who reads news releases?"
"No one is going to just pick up a news release."
"Why can't we just announce what we have to say on the social web and count on others to spread the word?"
"Our fans on Twitter will Tweet this thing up."
"OMG- news releases are so.... Web 1.0"
Here's my belief: when appropriate, news releases matter, have impact and actually work. They are not a substitute for the social web, they are part of your overall communications strategy.
If you are publicly traded, then it's a no-brainer that you have to have traditional news releases for disclosure and compliance issues. And if you are not, I still believe that select, strategic news merits the time and minor expense of a news news release.
1. Writing a news release is more formal and makes you really think through what you are saying and how you want to reflect the written word about your company.
2. Investors, partners, suppliers, and your other publics will still mosey on into your press room to see what's news, how you report your news, and the wording and editorial strategy you take.
3. The written word is very much a part of your overall brand experience. How you write, the tone and choice of words is very much akin to the graphical image you project, the company culture you promote and the quality of customer service you aim for.
4. News releases, if applied correctly, can be searched (and found) on Google. They are also a platform which can easily be re-published and spread by your stakeholders on the social web.
5. A well written and well crafted news release illustrates team work and common vision.
There is more to a news release than just the mechanics of writing and pitching.
Oh, and speaking of pitching, yes, I still do very traditional pitching. And that's a whole other post in its own right.
Here's a hand form you can use to get the press release writing process going.
Any comments on you belief (or disbelief) in using press releases? How do you and your team writing your press releases?
Often times starting with a new client, I will set up a "deep dive" session, so I can get up to speed on industry lingo, terminology and nuances in the messages and strategy that my team and I will be developing for the client.
While deep diving certainly has its role, it's important to keep the deep dive in perspective. I will never become as expert as the client. Nor will the account team or the writer(s) I work with.
That's why the client has a CTO.
My goal in deep diving is simple:
1. What do we want to say?
2. How do we want to say it?
3. Who do we want to broadcast our messages to?
Part 1 has to do with messages. Regardless of the medium, that never changes.
Part 2 has to do with in what form. As a rule, it's been traditional press releases, application stories, interviews, contributed stories, speaking gigs and more.
But that's changing.
Sure, we stick to the basics of traditional PR, but we're now more engaging and conversational and so is the client as a thought leader. More clients are starting to publish blogs under our direction. Ditto with simple and powerful videos that are published and going viral to specific markets on YouTube.
Part 3 has to do with journalists, analysts and of course bloggers. Depending on the industry and who has influence, your mileage may vary in terms of who you reach out to and how.
Yes, I still do traditional pitches, but I am also big on the principle of "being found."
If you produce content that is tagged right and authored well, you'll be found.
Time and time again, I get journalists who tell me that one of the reasons they covered a particular client, is because they were able to find the client in the context of a story they were writing.
Deep Diving is good.
But keep it in perspective.
The objective of deep diving is to get your PR/Social Media consultant up for air so he / she can start pitching and getting coverage for you; and not drown.
My "Conversations" series continues with travels to the Rio Grande Valley, where I met Shaine Mata. Shaine has an interesting story to tell and vision to share. From being a migrant farm worker to blogging, to State Government work in Austin and back to his home the Valley, Shaine sees using Social Media tools like Twitter to create an Twitterland without borders between the U.S. and its neighbors in Mexico.
Twitter is a great tool for networking, seeing what's on the minds of people that I follow, and a wealth of information and data specific to PR and Social Media. You can find me on Twitter here.
Here's how I am using Twitter:
1. Engaging and listening to people where I live in San Antonio. I've made new "real" friends who are not just into the craft of communications but are really interesting and nice people. That is benefit #1.
2. Self promotion. OK.... so I do have to self-promote myself and my business. Since I blog here and over at 3Screens.net, I can tweet to the world about a post that I think is not only self promotional, but helpful to others.
3. And speaking of being helpful, that is something I am really focusing on with Twitter. I figure if I am helpful to others, others will be helpful to me and so on and so on. Sort of a version of Pay it Forward, if you will.
4. Sharing my human side. Yup, I am human and real. This weekend I was in Galveston, Texas and was Tweeting my impressions of the destruction of the hurricane that you still see present. The during Thanksgiving shopfest known as Black Friday, I shared my impressions of people shopping vs. buying in San Antonio, Houston and Galveston. The week before, I went to see BB King and Tweeted my video that I shot at the concert.
5. Direct conversation. You can direct conversation with other members... sort of like SMS on your cell, but via your computer. Very efficient and direct.
So where can you start?
1. Think of an objective or two? Make new friends. Expand your network. Learn about a new social media and communications platform. Promote a cause.
4. Start a conversation or two. Tweet something interesting and helpful to others who are liked minded. You'll be amazed at the responses and the followers you will attract.
5. Don't spam others. A huge no-no.
6. Broadcast news or your insights on the major news events. If you are live where something is happening, Tweet about it.
7. Tweet at least once day. I am finding Twitter to being sort of addictive, particularly on my iPhone where I use Twitterific. It's a great way to check in several times a day, in between meetings, just to scan and when appropriate chime in on conversation.
8. Find people with similar interests. They could be where you live or around the world. I still go back to one of the greatest benefits of Twitter is that I have made new real friends right where I live.
9. Go offline from Twitter. Sometimes, I don't want to have a conversation with someone on Twitter. I will share my cell or a secondary email address to engage further.
10. Traveling? Meet up with Tweet-Ups with other like minded Twitter people when you travel. I've done it and it's great to meet like minded people in other cities.
Richard was being interviewed, I dialed into the conversation line, and had a chance to meet Rich on the phone.
At the end of the conversation, I invited Richard to San Antonio. And if he does indeed come, I made him an offer he should not refuse: you're my guest for a world class burger and milk shake at the Pharmacy.
Debbie Weil Debbie Weil, aka the MonaLisaOfBlogging.com, is a corporate blogging and online communications consultant and the author of the forthcoming "The Corporate Blogging Book: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know to Get It Right" for Penguin Portfolio (2006).