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.
Here is a guest post that I have re-purposed from the blog of Luis Sandoval, who was a participant in Tuesday's Virtual Town Hall Meeting that was held by San Antonio for Mayoral Candidate, Julian Castro. I'm a volunteer for the campaign helping out on social media strategies.
Luis is a friend. A very smart person. And a great writer & social media expert.
Take it away Luis....
Last night I had the pleasure of participating in a local experiment merging new media and traditional media in a social media event held by mayoral candidate, Julian Castro. I was unable to make it to both events, but the one I did make it to I wanted to share with everyone.
I first want to share the relevant questions and answers that were exchanged during this amazing discussion happening both in person and streamed on the internet thanks toBlogCatalog's, Bloggers Unite initiative. The event organized by Alan Weinkrantz was a huge success and regardless of political affiliation was an interesting take on the merging of two worlds, similar the the recent US Election, which finds President Obamasitting at the head of our nation.
After the Q&A reporting I will give my final analysis of the event as a whole and where it fits into local politics.
Engagement The gathering started at 6:05 p.m. with an opening by Alan Weinkrantz followed by an introduction to Julian Castro who thanked everyone for being present. The event was attended personally by bloggers, traditional journalists, and other media types from San Antonio that had been invited to this private event. The audience was live on the internet via chat room but the video stream was available for them to watch and interact with.
Julian wanted to express his interest in seeing technology and media efforts infused into every aspect of the city at the community level, the political level, and the personal level. He expressed his love for they city he grew up in and how he wants his efforts to help the city become a functional entity. He looks to embrace social media tools to allow individuals to engage him in questions, comments, thoughts, and have a real say in the course of how the city is navigated during these tough times in America. All lofty goals, but he seemed genuine in his statements.
He expressed his concern with voter turnout talking about how only 13-15% of voters turn out to engage in the process, with a huge gap remaining in the 18-30 demographic. Hoping that social technology can help increase the turnout, especially within that demographic by speaking to those individuals on the formats that they are most familiar with.
His goal is to ultimately create a dialog that does not currently exist and provide just another way for people to enter into the political process. Questions
Question 1: From the internet regarding San Antonio's green initiatives Point 1: Mentions the importance of sustainability; wants San Antonio to be a leader Point 2: Pursue ways to put San Antonio into the "Green Economy" building green collared jobs
Question 2: From invited blogger regarding Julian's plan on dealing with poverty SA is ranked as one of the poorest big cities in the nation. Julian wants to continue to build programs that help the less fortunate work to become functional citizens for their own personal lives. Two problems to work on to help alleviate some of the poverty issues: 1. Illiteracy: Relatively high numbers need to overcome their lack of being able to read or write. Build programs that will help elevate the number if illiterate and get them to where he knows they all can be. 2. Teenage pregnancy: A key problem for girls under 15, work with established assistance programs like Project Worth, and build on after school programs to help keep youth engaged.
Question 3: From invited blogger regarding the creation of jobs He commits to make job creation a priority focusing on two points: 1. Wants to create a competitively trained work force by working with public libraries, public school districts, after school programs, job training programs, and universities and colleges in the city. 2. Foster the growth of current economic strengths such as the BioSciences expansion at Ft. Sam.
Question 4: From the internet regarding the creation of a financial district in Downtown Julian believes that San Antonio is prime to build itself a financial district with its proximity to Mexcio and the rest of Central and Latin America.
Question 5: From invited blogger regarding issue with San Antonio school districts Julian agrees that better efficiency is required when it comes to the school. Because a lot of his initiatives place the burden on education and training, he'd like to review the current status of the school system and possibly collaborate and consolidate where he can and where it seems most appropriate. He recognizes that the issue is bigger than just the city and goes up the chain to State and Federal Government concerns.
These are just five of the questions asked during the hour and a half session that was amazing informative. Other questions fielded included inquiries on taxes, communities and neighborhoods, transportation, public services, technology, economics, and current processes within the local government.
It was a good turnout for media types in person, while 30+ people engaged the mayoral candidate online, proving the experiment was successful in terms of gauging an audience online.
Ultimately this mayoral candidate proved himself to be articulate and ready to tackle questions without any kind of preparation. Julian's approach is definitely one with family and communities in mind. In all fairness I was unable to attend the other candidates event, but I welcome any opportunity to hear that side of the story too.
As an experiment I think there was an overall success. The convergence of traditional media with new media types was a good atmosphere and established an understanding that there is a place for both to coexist.
My only concern with regards to the technological advances that our city is making, is that we cannot forget those that are unable to tap into those networks. There are vast populations in our city without a computer much less an internet connection. Any mayoral candidate must not lose sight of those constituents regardless of the cool "newness" of the internet's social networks. Social media must be understood as an extension of the constituency not the focus, because that will distance those individuals not connected to modern trends.
Several outlets posted articles on the "Social Media War." The focus was who was doing what rather than the message. The messages that I heard at what I attended were strong, and evident that every one had a chance to be heard. From what I hear about the event that I did not attend, there was a similar atmosphere.
Despite Twitter, Facebook, and other video networks and their popularity, let's hope the candidates do not lose sight of what their real duty is, as mayor of this fine city we are the investment, the people, and ultimately that is what they will be judged on.
Tony Berkman, CEO of San Antonio-based BlogCatalog and BloggersUnite articulates the role of social media and how his BloggersUnite site helps causes join together through the power of the blogosphere, while remaining political neutral. Kudos to Patricio Espinoza, who is doing a great job of reporting on and more importantly, telling a fair and balanced story about the Mayoral race in our town via his SA4Mayor site.
Calacanis,CEO and President of Mahalo, for umpteen years and admire
not only his approach to entrepreneurship, but the fact that he’s lasted
through good times and bad. I’m on his email newsletter list and admire
his writings and sound advise. He gave me an OK to re-publish a very good post on my San Antonio Startups Blog where you canread here in regards to scenario which is becoming more and more real every day.
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.
Take the Rackspace culture of Fanatical Support, add in its subsidiary company, Mosso's positioning of "The Hosting Cloud," and then mix it with Rob La Gesse's street smarts, social media savvy and no-nonsense approach to listening to the customer and presto, you have a really interesting conversation.
I've been following Rob over the last six months since he started with Mosso. And now in his recent shift to becoming the company's Director of Customer Development, you can learn some really good and practical lessons about listening to customers and leveraging social media.
Launching a brand? Thinking of a new product concept or business expansion concept?
You're going to need a brand.
Before you go the traditional route of hiring an Ad Agency, Graphic Design Firm, or a Freelance Artist, check out IncSpring.
In a nutshell, IncSpring is a marketplace for brands. You can buy a brand, often times which also includes a good-to-go URL and even work directly with the seller of the brand to extend the graphics into brochures, packaging, business cards and more.
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.
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).