Archive for the ‘yaxley’ tag
Process is more important than outcome
When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.
–Point #3 from (internationally renowned designer) Bruce Mau’s Incomplete Manifesto for Growth
Currently I’m transitioning from thinking-mode process to writing for my June Bytes from the PR Sphere column (which covers the intersection of public relations and social media for business) for Windmill Networking. Those musings keep intermingling with this post I committed to writing for PR Conversations. Please know that it doesn’t matter which blog I’m writing for, it’s simply impossible for me to dash something off. And, as I’ve recently finished reading Clay A. Johnson’s The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption, for the first time I’m deliberately amalgamating and cross-pollinating my research, thinking and writing process and efforts, with the goal of producing two original and distinct, but complementary, posts.
If the public relations discipline (or occupation, as co-editor Heather Yaxley prefers) ultimately is about reputation, value and relationship building (h/t Terry Flynn), this blog has a responsibility to produce content for consumption that:
- is targeted to and focused on the evolving needs of public relations
- expresses dollops of critical and dashes of original research and thinking (and informed opinions)
- demonstrates when theoretical concepts are effectively translated into practice
- is timely or relatively timeless
- holds innate respect for our return and new readers’ attention and time
Besides readership, hoped-for outcomes include:
- high-ranking search engine results and (primarily organic) SEO
- ready acceptance by mainly senior, respected and/or high-profile individuals to contribute a guest post or be interviewed
- relevant comments that augment and enhance blog post-generated civil discourse/conversations and introduce us to new information “consumers” of PR Conversations; and
- third-party endorsement and shares (more later)
…in that order of importance.
But whether or not we achieve those outcomes, the self-imposed rigorous editorial process of topic and/or subject expert selection won’t change for Heather Yaxley, Markus Pirchner and me. This includes colleagues recruited or accepted to contribute guest posts or to be interviewed.
Ours is a blog where the focus and process is on achieving long-term and -tail quality content, rather than quantitative outputs.
What our editorial process doesn’t focus on
From my perspective, what you don’t find on this blog from regular or guest contributors:
- stereotypes about what PR comprises (except in a contemplative or myth-busting capacity)
- mainly negative, pile-on posts about a company or individual
- self-serving promotional posts for business
- posts introducing the (newest) bright, shiny tools or platforms (particularly related to social media), unless the subject expert believes it is viable and established enough to incorporate into integrated communication efforts
- overtly personal posts (not to be confused with our various areas of special interest—for example, you might have noticed I’m a film aficionado)
- pure marketing-oriented (or IMC) viewpoints
- repeated use of the condensed “numbered lists” format (a notable exception is our all-time-most-popular, joint post, Using Twitter for PR events—which isn’t “billed” as a list)
- short-term “campaigns”
- gratuitous shout outs and links to colleagues
Additionally, there isn’t a single, country-centric point of view permeating PR Conversations—we proudly wear the badge of honour of being the first international, collaborative group blog, boasting an equally diverse readership through search, word of mouth and recommendations/endorsements from:
- traditional and social media publishers (e.g., we’ve been a Bulldog Reporter Daily ‘Dog Blog since 2008 and PR Conversations is frequently chosen as a CommPRO.biz Top Blog in the Daily Headlines and Features) and blogrolls based in different parts of the world (e.g., Australian Craig Pearce’s Resource page)
- vendors (e.g., Cision Top 50 PR & Marketing Blogs and Top 100 Social Media, Internet Marketing & SEO Blogs – 2012)
- public relations and communication management (inter)national associations
- special interest groups (e.g., on The Arthur W Page Society’s blogroll)
- practitioners and colleagues, academics and students, who link to or “share” our content on their own posts or through various social media platforms
The ultimate endorsement
I can’t think of a more gratifying compliment to our group effort than hearing that Richard Bailey opined at a meeting of CIPR tutors/markers at the PR Academy that PR Conversations was the only public relations blog “robust” enough to be accepted for citation by students of the CIPR professional qualifications. Thank you, Richard. You haven’t been commenting here much of late, but it’s wonderful to know that you are still consuming our content and endorsing it as PR-citation worthy and “nutritious.”
Valued, focused content rules
On a 2009 post on his Flack’s Revenge blog, Bob Geller (a past guest contributor on PR Conversations and current Windmill Networking colleague whose column focuses on content marketing and social media) wrote,
“Our time is a zero sum game, and people are increasingly distracted with ever-more content choices.”
Shades of prescience about a need for The Information Diet!
Recently I had an email conversation with Bob about this same subject. He indicated, “In my view, more people are sharing thoughts and content on Twitter and thus less often leaving comments right there under the blog post.”
On the surface, it would seem that if you have an active “blog-commenting community” and individuals promoting and talking about your blog on Twitter and Facebook, etc., your “PR” blog is a high-profile and hot commodity, differentiated from the pack (particularly as many early-adopter bloggers are posting less frequently and/or shuttering their properties).
Not so fast.
I point you to a more recent post from Neal Schaffer (April 2012), I Blog for Content, Not for Comments. Surprised? This is one of my all-time favourite posts by Neal, primarily because it resonated with what we attempt to do here.
In this excerpted concluding paragraph from Neal, substitute PR Conversations and “public relations” for Windmill Networking and social media and see if his thoughts apply to this blog:
“I and every other Windmill Networking blogger under my editorial leadership are here to offer you content, content that is as unique as it is insightful, shaped by our professional experiences and sometimes personal passions. Our goal is to educate and hopefully become one of your primary sources for social media for business insightful advice that you won’t find on those “other” sites.“
Windmill Networking is a highly trafficked blog, with daily visitors numbering in the thousands, not just hundreds. But in a recent exchange with Neal about promotion of blog posts, he surprised me with information about how the combined traffic from established sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and GooglePlus was actually quite small. According to Google Analytics, the vast majority of readers arrive as a result of indexed and authoritative search rankings on specific topics. Also worth noting, although not quite as large a percentage, 85 per cent of traffic to Windmill Networking comprises new visitors.
When I look at the Google Analytics for PR Conversations—although our traffic numbers are more modest, given that our focus and target audience is smaller in scope—I believe, proportionately, similar statistics hold true. Certainly the numbers of comments and/or shares for the majority of our posts (compared to some “popular” PR/marketing blogs) aren’t reflective of our healthy traffic numbers. And some of our most visited blog posts were written years ago—a standout example is Benita Steyn’s King III Report posts. I suspect for many South African practitioners and students, Benita’s posts are the #1 go-to place for research. We even had one request come through PR Conversations to purchase a copy of the (actual) report!
I’m not fishing for comments, but here are areas in which I think we could still improve:
- the gender balance of guest contributors, subject experts and (role model) profiles being more reflective of the actual demographics of our discipline/occupation.
- increased diversity from a global perspective
Do you agree? Are there other areas that need more focus?
I do wonder how you first found our blog and whether information provided on PR Conversations has actually shaped your practice or played a role in your career or studies.
Finally, I muse over whether people feel intimidated about commenting, perhaps because of the strong personalities and opinions (myself included) that occasionally colour the conversations. Alternatively, the “weightiness” of some of the comments—which sometimes are the length of a more typical blog post!
Of course I’d like to hear from new commenters amongst our thousands of readers from different parts of the world (instead of The Usual Suspects), not only to provide us with suggestions, but to affirm we’re basically on the right process track in regards to your needs and wants, so that “we will know [you] want to be [here]” and along for our PR Conversations adventure and journey.
Comments (or shares) would be a great outcome of this post, but even if you don’t choose to make your “consumer” relationship known and be part of our organizational narrative, rest assured we’ll continue to focus on the process of devising and feeding you a high-quality communication information diet in order to remain a valued and trusted resource.
Our reputation (and Richard Bailey’s continuing endorsement) depends upon it.
So I’ve been trawling through my PR RSS feeds and I’m including some interesting posts below, but before I get to that indulge me for a moment…
Mini rant: What was interesting in reviewing these posts is the fact that the ‘PR 2.0’ moniker continues to live. What is PR 2.0? Should my business card say that I’m a PR 1.0 practitioner, or a PR 1.7.5 practitioner or maybe I can get ahead and say I’m a PR 3.1 practitioner? Here’s a secret truth. There’s no PR 2.0. There’s just PR. PR practice is either good (using the right tools and channels to reach, inform and engage the right audience in the right place at the right time) or bad (not using the right tools and channels etc. etc.). There’s no 2.0. Stop trying to make yourself sound more interesting.
|The award for the most obvious statement(s) of the week goes to John Bell at Ogilvy in this PR Week story. I was going to include a quote, but there’s too many. Far too many. Lord.|
|Andrew Bruce Smith has an interesting post on whether PR really is about reputation management.|
|Aven Hames has a report on Paul Holmes’ predictions for PR in 2012 – there are some hardy annuals in there (e.g. PR in the executive suite).|
|Paul Seaman shares some interesting thoughts on the Edelman Trust Barometer. You can find more news and views on the Trust Barometer here.|
|Heather Yaxley has kicked off and interesting discussion “Are you too smart to work in PR”. David Reich also chimes in. I’m not|
|Illustrating just how far behind I am with my RSS feeds here are 10 PR predictions for 2012 from Beth Monaghan.|
Finally a nice post by Ariel Kouvaras on three things to keep in mind as the tools and channels of PR change and evolve.
How should you use Twitter for public relations events? This is a topic we’ve pondered among the PR Conversations team (Judy Gombita, Markus Pirchner and Heather Yaxley). Twitter offers potential for conferences, launches, announcements, stunts and many other PR events – and we’ve seen it used well, and badly. We’ve used Twitter at events, and participated remotely in real world activities and those that only exist online. So we thought it would be worthwhile sharing our collective thoughts and observations to start a conversation on the topic.
Let’s start at the beginning; the preparation and planning of an event. This involves two-way communications:
Capturing information – simple steps such as including a Twitter field in a booking or response form means you can determine the extent to which attendees are engaged in the medium, build a Twitter list, start to follow attendees and set up a monitoring process from the point of booking.
Providing information – event information should clarify the official @ account to follow for news and establish an event hashtag #. It can outline how Twitter will be used (eg a live Tweetwall) and make some suggestions for attendee participation, before, during and after the event.
Publicising an event. Start early, but be relevant. Including the @ account and hashtag # in all promotional material is important. A QR code can also be created with a link to follow the relevant @ account. Linkages between all online media used to communicate about an event should be established – whether that’s Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, LinkedIn, Google+ and/or a dedicated blog. Likewise, a sign off can be created for all emails sent about the event and any printed materials that will be used. If standard or social media releases are being prepared – then details of all the online assets can be included.
Any “build-up” communications can have a social media dimension, although it is important that information is not repetitive (there are only so many “sign up” messages anyone can take before unfollowing). Any Tweets sent should be written to encourage reTweeting. Indeed, it can be useful to set up a specific Twitter account for a particular event, which will build its own following, but extend its reach by using other Twitter accounts run by the organization or the PR team to RT.
Hashtags – when choosing a phrase to use for an event, it is important to keep this short, but memorable. Check if a term is already in use, and research any potential conflicts. It is not a good idea to use a hashtag that is used already for Twitter chats as this will have built up its own value and an alternate use can be confusing. Promote the chosen hashtag to all attendees – if you don’t they will be likely to create their own or maybe several. That means monitoring is complicated and others do not know what to follow.
Embargoes and sensitive information. If your PR event involves a news announcement or communicating sensitive/exclusive information, you need to determine any embargo requirements or other restrictions. These should be communicated in advance or at the start of any presentations. Of course you cannot guarantee secrecy – but most people do respect such requests, if they are managed sensibly and appropriately. Depending on the nature of the PR event, it may be necessary to prohibit live Tweeting. This should be confirmed in advance to manage expectations.
On arrival – any welcome pack should contain all the relevant social media information relating to @ and # details, relevant LinkedIn or Facebook groups, presenter profiles etc. Advise of any login information and recheck if anyone is planning to Tweet or blog about the event. Any guest lists should contain Twitter account names as this can be useful for a Tweetup on the day. It can also be useful for those using geosocial networking technology to be able to connect on arrival and with others.
Focus on actual attendees. It is important to ensure those attending an event in person are engaged and valued. Offer a unique experience rather than seeing attendees simply as a conduit of information. This is vital if people have paid money to attend – their investment must be recognised as superior to those who just follow a hashtag. Likewise, media in attendance should have opportunities to enhance a story rather than simply Tweet news of it. Although it is useful to extend the reach of an event using social media, the value for people to meet others and discuss topics in person should be maximised. It is not conducive to an event if everyone is more focused on their smartphone or tablet device, than on meeting or talking with the people around them. You could consider establishing a no-phone break during the event, or setting up a phone-free room for real world networking. Remember, however, the more you engage and connect those attending in person, the less value they may offer to the external Twitter audience. Ensuring you have an official Twitterer who will provide a wealth of material – without compromising the value for those who are at the event – is important.
Engaging presenters. Circulate the @ Twitter details of all presenters in advance and engage them in discussing the event as part of its pre-publicity. You can tease their presentations, link to online biographies, promote relevant blog posts or news items, feature them in your #ff recommendations and so forth. Have a handout on the day for attendees to confirm the @ Twitter details and include on the first slide of any presentation. It is helpful for anyone Tweeting about a presenter to be able to connect to them in comments. Encourage speakers to build short quotes in their presentations, which are suitable for RTing. Ensure presentations and handouts are available online and Tweet links (using URL shorteners) to promote these and monitor access. If this cannot be done in advance, then try to upload as soon as possible during or after the event.
Wifi technology. Where possible, ensure wifi is available and tested in advance. If any login or passwords are needed, these should be set up and advised during registration. Media on event, especially if working overseas, appreciate wifi during travel time when they can write up reports, upload or use social media. Check what is available at airports and look to offer wifi on coaches or in any venue used. If computers are available at a venue for online access, ensure they have been tested on the day and any login information is easy to follow. If wifi or computer access is not provided, check out mobile phone signals. Although it can be useful for some confidential meetings to be held in “blackout” rooms, this is irritating for events where people expect to be able to Tweet. For example, many awards evening are held in the basement ballrooms of grand hotels which means celebrations and news cannot be announced as it breaks.
Live broadcasting. If you are able to live broadcast an event, ensure the content will be interesting. If not, it is better to edit a succinct video to publish online later. Promote in advance where and when video (and other materials) will be available and offer an embed option for other sites.
Tweetwall. As well as deciding whether to allow live Tweeting, you should consider if it is helpful or a distraction to incorporate the online discussion into proceedings via a Tweetwall display. This can be a major distraction for both presenters and audience, but can be appropriate depending on the topic and audience (a barcamp may be in favour; more regular conference goers may not). In combination with a live stream (or video projection on large screens – like at the World PR Forum), this can be a fertile feedback channel. For a recurring event or specific audience, you could survey opinion post-event regarding the use of Twitter and make any recommended changes in future.
Monitoring, responding and retweeting. Dedicate someone to monitor, respond and retweet to all event related Tweets (using a social media dashboard), again before, during and after. Capture all the tweets generated, analyse these and thank everyone who was active (eg via a series of #ff Tweets).
Capturing Tweets. Research, in advance, a software program that captures a transcript of all live tweets (Twitter chats mostly do this), including statistics of number of tweets, number of participants and number of impressions. Although many of the measures can be deceptive (confusing “impression” with “view”), it is helpful to have some data to analyse and use as a benchmark for measurement. Note that Twitter does not retain information for long, but you can search archives using services such as Snapbird. Addendum (08/15/2011 JG) Archivist is a Microsoft-owned platform in alpha, which saves and analyzes tweets. (Expanded information and a sample at the end of this post.)
Moderating discussion. It might be necessary – depending on circumstances/topics/audience – to moderate the Twitterstream. Establish and communicate a policy in advance regarding the nature of unacceptable Tweets and the process for addressing these. For example, Tweets that are abusive, offensive or which make personal criticisms of presenters would be justifiably removed.
Managing Q&As. Although it is a good idea to seek questions in advance to use in discussions with presenters or open forum, those in attendance should be given priority for raising questions. Manage the dynamics of the event as this can suffer if too many people are focused on Tweeting rather than participating. Those who concentrate on Tweeting are generally interested in capturing Tweetbyte questions and answers rather than discussing points themselves. Any externally generated questions can be presented via a Twitterwall or monitored and given to individual presenters or a discussion panel/moderator to raise and respond. If you have engaged with a non-attending audience via Twitter in advance, you should be able to rely on them to participate on the day. However, it can be useful to have the official Tweeter or other members of the organizing team generating pre-prepared Tweets to keep the debate alive. Likewise, you may need some in-the-room questions prepared in advance.
Post-event. There are lots of ways that the reach of an event can be extended using social media. Use selected Tweets in reports and news releases etc about the event. For example, the International History of PR conference (#ihprc2011) created a post-event video which gives a high profile to those who tweeted (many of whom are regular PRC conversationalists). Such people will be likely to promote the video further. Ensuring presentations and other information generated on the day are available online is useful particularly for those who will produce follow-up reports. Individuals who live-tweet are perhaps more likely to do a blog write-up, post-event. On the registration form ask for details of any blogs and whether someone plans to report the event. Encourage individuals to link or trackback to the official online resources (using prepared short URLs) to provide a formal mechanism to monitor these. A follow up report after the event can be sent to attendees advising where they can find additional information, including any blogs or links to online reports.
It is becoming more and more acceptable for people to Tweet and use other social media as part of their lives. Integrating this into PR events can enhance the experience and extend the reach. However, it should be remembered that the real experience is gained by connection and interaction among those who have given up their time, and often money, to attend in person. As such, the physical audience must remain the primary attention and priority of organizers. Nevertheless, there are things that can be done to engage those unable to attend, and support attendees in reaching their followers, whilst simultaneously ensuring that the event has sufficient appeal that remote attendees will strive to be there in person in future.
* * *
Expanded addendum (08/15/2011 JG) Archivist is a Microsoft-owned platform in alpha, which saves and analyzes tweets. Sample provided here courtesy of Holly Knowlman, Internet and social media content coordinator at the Art Gallery of Ontario, from its recent “A Heart to Art Chat at the AGO” (#agochat) unconference/focus group.
David Reich has a post about a Ragan.com survey that asked what PR people don’t like about PR. Topping the list is ‘cold calling’. OK I can understand that. But what was second on the list? What was the second greatest thing that PR people don’t like about PR? Apparently it’s having their press releases heavily edited. Seriously? We PR folks are precious creatures aren’t we? My first press release was so heavily edited that you actually couldn’t see the original words. The funny thing is that it was such a disgrace I actually kept it. When I moved to Seattle I found it when I was packing up my home office. I scanned it, but nearly twenty years on I still won’t share it, I’d be mortified.
Judy Gombita has an interesting interview with Arthur Yann, vice president of Public Relations for the PRSA. When asked about what he finds professionally frustrating he answered:
I recently wrote about one of my biggest frustrations for the PRBreakfastClub blog. And that is, the number of self-proclaimed experts on Twitter and other social media platforms. I mean who or what qualifies so many opinions? On what basis in fact are many statements made? Do these industry “observers” actually know anything about what it is they’re commenting about? Have they read and do they understand what they’re re-tweeting, given the third-party perception is that they’re endorsing the content?
Now there’s a man after my own heart. Amen.
Heather Yaxley has a post that suggests that journalists and PR practitioners should never be friends. I don’t agree. I’ve worked in this business for nearly twenty years and I’m lucky to count a number of journalists – both in Europe and the United States – as friends – all of whom I’ve met through my work. I don’t buy the Tiger analogy (read the post). As a professional there’s a church and state relationship. If there’s mutual respect and professionalism there’s rarely a problem, if you don’t have either then I’d suggest you’re not friends.
It’s exciting. Public relations is universally needed but widely misunderstood and derided. It’s needed more than ever because of the disruptive power of digital communications, yet is also under threat because of the convergence of communications disciplines.
You may have seen this already, but via the Lois Paul & Partners Beyond the Hype blog the fantastic Jon Stewart take on the News of the World scandal (not sure if this is available outside the U.S.)…. and personally I think Hugh Grant deserves a lot of credit.
Have a nice weekend…
Here are some common sense posts on various aspects of Public Relations.
Heather Yaxley has a nice post on PR Conversations: Future leaders need more than digital PR:
The beauty of building your career around knowledge and skills gained in public relations is that you have transferable competencies that offer a solid basis for extending your career laterally or progressing upwards. Indeed, the multi-direction potential is substantial – enabling you to craft a career tapestry that is individual and original. Undoubtedly digital PR will be a thread weaving through organizations going forward – but if you are to look back on a successful and rewarding picture of your working life, I recommend, you don’t rely on this talent alone.
We’ve become so tired of the good fight, that we just go with the flow. And, yes, that’s a lot of what is happening in public relations nowadays: the real seasoned communications veterans who wear their battle scars with pride are getting tired of the fight, and the new "senior" people – more like junior staff without the experience to do what is needed and right – just going along for the ride.
Elena Verlee has a honest to goodness common sense post on building long-term PR relationships in a digital world:
Thought leadership doesn’t happen overnight. Neither do relationships in business or with the media. Taking the time to sow good seeds, nurturing them carefully and with patience, will allow you to reap the return of a bountiful harvest — sometimes sooner, sometimes later.
Yeah, I know it sucks. I used to think PR was easy, too. I’d download my list of 400 outlets that qualified under my target parameters, copy and paste my press release and hope like hell for some pick up. I’d follow up and call about 15 key media outlets and develop the relationship part, maybe get 5-6 of them to bite on the story, along with the 2-3 dozen small town newspapers that were so starved for content they copy-pasted my release, and made my clients or bosses happy.