Sunday, January 28, 2007

Don’t Limit RSS to Receiving Information, Use RSS to Send Info Too

If you are a blogger or podcaster, you depend on your outgoing RSS feeds to notify folks of your work. But that’s not all. There are many reasons to set up outgoing RSS feeds on your organization or client's web site. At a minimum, RSS feeds can notify folk when you’ve changed your web site content. Here are some other uses.

Use RSS feeds to distribute news releases rather than distributing by e-mail. E-mail releases have lots of trouble getting past spam filters and standing out from the crowd. But with RSS, the reporter knows he or she has asked for your information.

Use RSS feeds in place of e-mail newsletters. Many experts are predicting that e-mail newsletters are on their way out. It’ll take a year or two as people become more accustomed to using RSS feeds. But when that happens, no one will want newsletters cluttering their inboxes. I’m so glad, because finding software or services for distributing e-mail newsletters that won’t get caught up in spam filters is a huge pain.

Create relevant resource information for your web site visitors and send it out regularly through RSS feed. You can provide a dependable service, while at the same time keeping your name in front of potential clients. Plus, you’ll drive additional relevant traffic to your site.

Use RSS to reach publics through new means like cell phones, PDAs and mp3 players. If these are the primary tools your publics use, then RSS helps you reach them.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

What Trends Can PR Students Expect to Learn From in 2007?

As an undergraduate student preparing to enter the profession of public relations, I am learning some of the trends that we can expect to see in 2007 and how it affects students like me. I am a subscriber to the Bulldog Reporter's Daily Dog blog, and I read an important op-ed piece by Howard J. Rubenstein, Founder, Rubenstein and Associates.

In this op-ed piece Rubenstein discusses eight trends and predictions to be watched and planned for this year. I would like to take these and give them a spin from a student’s perspective.

1. Greater importance will be placed on the public relations professional. For an undergraduate, who is anticipating graduation in May or Dec., this means that through proper practice in the discipline through internships and curriculum assignments they will have a greater chance to land that all important first job. In turn that first job will serve a greater purpose by instilling an individual sense of importance in the new PR professional.

2. Greater emphasis on high ethical standards will become the norm. It will be extremely important for undergraduates to be given the tools to increase their understanding of the importance of high ethical standards. In my PR class we briefly touched upon the PRSA Member Code of Ethics. As a student and aspiring PR professional, I felt that there should more emphasis on the topic of ethics, especially in light of so many of the high-ranking individuals being forced from positions or going to jail because of their lack of ethics.

3. Globalization of communications will continue. It is evident that countries such as China and India have emerged as huge players in the marketplace.Undergraduate students have to take upper level support work classes, mine are Introduction to Marketing and Advertising. I chose the same professor for both, Dr. Richard L. Utecht and one of the six steps to be successful as a new professional he suggests is to become internationalized. What he means is to learn not only different languages but to learn different cultures to prepare for those opportunities that may arise.

4. U.S. cities will start to feel the strain of a weakening economy. For an undergraduate student who has lived in a specific city their entire life and attends college in their city, this will be a huge benefit. I say this because the student has seen the ups and down of how the city has promoted itself to their state and the country, especially if the city is a tourist destinations like San Antonio. The new professional who decides to stay in their city can play an integral part in working to improve their city’s image through innovative PR tactics.

5. More students will study communication and PR. When I entered San Antonio College I wanted to study journalism because I love to write, however I was not willing to relocate to a university that offered a great journalism curriculum. Because of this I transferred to the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). I chose UTSA due to its nationally recognized communication curriculum as well as a recognized PR concentration. Because of this status the enrollment in the communication program in the PR concentration at UTSA is increasing every year and I would be willing to agree that this will be the case across the world.

6. Blogging will continue to win PR attention and resources. Bloggers will continue to influence people in their choices and how they receive their information. Blogging will also continue to grow as a PR tool which will be a plus for the tech-savvy younger generation. When I began as the student blogger for the San Antonio: Byline Blog I had never participated in the phenomenon of blogging. Now, although I do not post as often as I should, I love the fact I have a place here.

7. Face-to-face networking will thrive despite online advances. For the undergraduate aspiring to be a PR professional; face-to-face networking will be huge. One of the greatest benefits for me as the Chapter President of the PRSSA Chapter at UTSA is being able to attend the PRSA Chapter of San Antonio's monthly luncheon. Our Chapter has gained so much because of our attendance at these luncheons. In fact my blogging opportunity came about because I attended a luncheon, and a previous writing sample.

8. PR will enjoy new opportunities to help restore our national image. For the undergraduate who is looking to enter the PR profession with an emphasis in politics or emphasis on the image of our nation this may be true. During the next year as we continue on the road to the 2008 elections there will be plenty of opportunities for the aspiring PR professional to be front and center. Politicians and their handlers are always going to be looking for PR professionals that can help present the right image to the youngest voters in the nation. Not only in this instance, but as a whole our nation will be looking to improve its image across the globe.

I would be interested in hearing your thoughts regarding my own observations on how these eight trends will affect the undergraduate aspiring to enter the PR profession.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Using RSS in PR

If you are participating in our Learn About Social Media from Your Desk project, you by now have been become familiar with RSS feeds. But the question may remain: Why is RSS important for public relations?

A key advantage of RSS for PR is the same as it is for other folk. It puts you in control. You decide what news you receive. You decide which conversations to monitor. You don’t have to remember to check dozens of web sites regularly to see what’s changed. And you are dealing online rather than with managing your e-mail inbox.

For public relations this means you can monitor news, trends and conversations that affect your clients or organization.

Let me give you an example. A couple of months ago, I set up some search terms in Technorati and subscribed to them. Those terms include the name of my organization and our executive director’s name. Whenever something new shows up in a blog that uses one of those terms, it shows up in my Google home page. Last week, there was a mention in a blog that I hadn't seen before. It happens to be authored by a reporter who has interviewed our director several times over the years. We have a good relationship, but I hadn’t noticed that he has a blog now. I went to his blog post that mentions us and left a comment praising his blog and mentioned that we have a podcast now. He blogged about the podcast the next day. If I hadn’t been using RSS feeds to monitor blog posts, this wouldn’t have happened.

Josh Hallett of the Hyku Blog offers this brief A Guide To Media Monitoring With RSS.

Extra Credit
Subscribe to specific search terms through Technorati. To find out how, listen to Bryan Person’s podcast, Ego-surfing with RSS. It’s very easy and won’t take long.

Next time, we’ll talk about how you can use RSS to distribute news.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Social Media Technology Quickstart - A Beginner's Webinar

Shannon Whitley is hosting a free webinar next Wednesday. This is a very basic introduction to social media technologies for PR professionals. Below are details.

Date: Jan 24, 2007
Time: 10:00 am - 11:00 am (Pacific)
Location: Webinar
Limit: 20 attendees

You're a PR professional and you know you need to figure out this 'social media stuff,' but you've been waiting for the right time. Still, your clients are starting to ask about the blogosphere and multimedia press releases. You can't afford to put it off any longer.

Shannon Whitley, the creator of PRX Builder, will help you take your first steps into the world of social media. Learn the basics through a one-hour introduction and prepare yourself for your clients' next round of technology questions.

More information and online registration are available here

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Vista Blogger Campaign Misses Opportunity

Microsoft’s recent blogger relations campaign has created quite a stir. Here’s the quick background: With the help of PR agency, Edelman, Microsoft sent valuable laptops with the new Vista operating system to targeted influential bloggers. Segments included the obvious technology bloggers, but also parenting bloggers and Mac-lovers. This was a no-strings-attached kind of deal. No requirement to blog about Vista. Originally, the bloggers were not asked to return the laptops or to disclose anything in their blog posts. Apparently, some of the recipients have no idea why they were chosen to receive this “gift.”

Much of the debate has focused on the ethics involved: Was this a gift rather than a loaner for review (as would have been done with journalists)? Was it a bribe? Should bloggers be required to disclose the situation?

It’s been a healthy debate.

I personally don’t have a problem with the laptop distribution, but I believe mistakes were made in the planning and execution. As a result, much of the blogger debate has been on the campaign rather than on the merits of the product.

What I’m wondering is: What was Microsoft’s goal for this Vista blogger relations campaign? How are they measuring success?

There are lots of things they can be counting:

• Number of blog posts that mention Vista.
• Number of blog posts related to Vista by targeted bloggers.
• Number of positive blog posts that mention Vista.
• Number of negative blog posts that mention Vista.
• Number of blog posts related to Vista that don’t use the name Vista.
• Number of blog posts related to Vista that don’t use the name Microsoft.Number of blog posts related to Vista that only use the name Edelman.
• Etc., etc.

I’m sure Microsoft and Edelman are pretty sophisticated with this stuff and that what they are measuring is directly related to their goal, which likely is purchases of Vista. But what was the goal of their blogger relations portion of the campaign? They’re not looking for input into how to make Vista better since that occurred during the beta phase. They may have been listening for how bloggers describe certain features so they can incorporate that language into their marketing.

But I suspect a main goal was simply to generate awareness. There are lots of Windows users who have no idea what Vista is or that it’s coming soon. I generally avoid campaigns that are limited to awareness, but for someone as big as Microsoft, awareness may be all it takes for many consumers to spend some money.

Ironically, by counting an increase in blog posts and comments this month about Vista, Microsoft could rule this campaign a success. That would be a mistake.

They’ve missed a big opportunity. Lack of awareness isn’t the only barrier to OS or software adoption. Perceptions of bugs and compatibility troubles are a huge barrier. Many of these issues have been blogged about during the beta phase. Even if the issues have been resolved in the final release version, the blog posts are still out there. Other concerns are based solely on rumor. Plus, Microsoft has been our main teacher of the lesson that it’s dangerous to install the first version of anything.

Here was an opportunity to initiate a conversation that would dispel myths and resolve concerns that are keeping individuals and businesses from buying this product. Awareness would grow as well.

So how could Microsoft and Edelman have done this blogger relations campaign in a way that addressed these consumer concerns?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

More Learning about RSS

Still working on your homework? Here are some ideas for RSS feeds to subscribe to just to get in the habit.

Word Wise – Writing tips for public relations professionals, and for people everywhere,

35 Ways You Can Use RSS Today by Steve Rubel

And here’s a good article on working with RSS: Untangle the World Wide Web with RSS

Plus, Kami commented on one of our recent assignments great link to a video that shows you how to subscribe to a feed.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Man Bites Dog: Get Weekly Reports of the Top U.S. News Stories

If you’re interested in monitoring the news, here’s a great resource for you. This week, the Project for Excellence in Journalism launched a weekly New Coverage Index that reports which stories got the most coverage in the United States from more than 40 media outlets, including print, network television, cable, online and radio.

According to the index, last week’s top news story was Nancy Pelosi's swearing in as the first female Speaker of the House. Other top stories were Gerald Ford's funeral, the policy debate in Iraq, and Saddam Hussein’s hanging.

Each report though, comes with an impressive analysis and details by media channel. What’s really cool is you can sign up to have the index sent to you by RSS feed or by e-mail each week. You can also see the list of top 10 stories by percent for each medium.

The web site announces that there is even more to come:

“In the weeks that follow, PEJ will also unveil a series of secondary indices, including People in the News; a Talk Show Index from cable and radio programming; and a Blogger Index examining the content of the blogosphere and analyzing how it compares with that of the mainstream media.”

I wish the Tyndall Report provided RSS feeds too! (Since 1987, Tyndall has been monitoring coverage by U.S. nightly newscasts.)

If you are participating in our assignments to “Learn About Social Media from Your Desk,” the News Coverage Index could be one of the three RSS feeds in your homework assignment.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Lesson One – Learning About Social Media from Your Desk

I’ve talked with several of my public relations colleagues who say they’ve been meaning to learn about social media (blogs, podcasts, social networking, etc.). They just haven’t found the time yet.

When something is important, you make time for it. And one thing I have learned this last year is that this is really important to our profession.

The purpose of this PRSA San Antonio Byline blog from the beginning was to help PR professionals learn about this new world. We are now going to step it up a notch. While there are many other places you can go for a crash course or to learn from real experts, we are going to provide bite-size activities to help folk who are interested learn over time without having to drop all their other work.

Please join in. No one has to know. But I hope you will share ideas, discoveries and questions along the way.

1. Explore Newsfeeds and Webfeeds

Our first step is to learn about RSS (aka, newsfeeds and webfeeds). RSS is the technical term for what has made all this social media stuff even possible. RSS is the indoor plumbing of Web 2.0. There is a lot of engineering behind indoor plumbing, but you don’t have to understand it to get a glass of water. You control whether the water comes out of kitchen faucet or the shower. And you don’t have to go to the source when you want hot water instead of cold.

The same is true with RSS. Headlines, etc., come to you. You don’t have to remember to check 100 individual web sites any more.

So here’s your first assignment: Set up either a Yahoo personal page or a Google personal page. And select at least three RSS feeds to watch over the course of this month.

There are several resources to help you learn about RSS. The first one I am going to suggest is that you listen to a certain episode (Learning about RSS) of the New Comm Road podcast by Bryan Person because it also walks you through setting up a Yahoo personal page. It’s only 20 minutes. Even if you have an iPod or mpg player, I recommend that you listen to this podcast from your desk so you can go through the steps while you listen. If you’d rather create a Google page, the steps are very similar.

The next step will be to select some RSS feeds to monitor. You can start with the feed from this blog. Click on the orange button at the right. Then click on the My Yahoo button or the Add to Google button. I’ll have more RSS suggestions and resources in my upcoming posts.

That’s it for today. Let me know how it’s going.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Learn About Social Media from Your Desk

How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.

The same is true for learning about social media and its uses for public relations. Make a New Year’s resolution to watch this PRSA chapter blog for monthly simple assignments designed to introduce PR professionals to different facets of new media (blogs, podcasts, wikis, etc.).

During the first week of each month, there will be a new “assignment” that can be done in less than an hour. Throughout the month, extra credit assignments will be posted.

And the best part is that there are no grades and nothing to turn in.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Where's Gregory?

Where's Gregory? This has been such an incredible holiday season that began right after my return from the 2006 PRSSA National Conference on Nov. 14. While I was in Salt Lake City, I was only able to post here twice. I was having serious issues with my laptop. I was able to attend some excellent sessions including the Roll Call breakfast with Keynote Speaker Richard Edelman, president and chief executive officer, Edelman Public Relations.

Edelman discussed the evolution of the horizontal axis of communications currently complementing the traditional top down vertical axis. It is considered the democratization of information. Edelman continued by discussing what is called the Me2 Revolution. This is the process of peers relying in a web of trust of other peers. He noted that Edelman's Trust Barometer 2006 showed that 68% of individuals felt the most credible source of information in the US was from a "person like myself." He pointed to the fact that more large companies like Microsoft are relying on their employees as their best source of PR in conjuction with their PR department. But he also pointed to the fact that this can also backfire as is the case with Delta by their inability to adapt to this horizontal axis and found themselves the subject of ""

I found it extremely interesting the current trends that are shaping the newspaper and weekly magazine publishers. These publishers are losing advertising money left and right due to the desire of audiences to have a more imediacy in what they read, watch and listen.Newsweek now shares it's content on Facebook in an effort to reach a younger audience. Business Week now places 46% of its content online compared to 33% in 2005. Similar changes are underway in network television broadcasting. Currently 300,000 people download the ABC Nightly News via I-Tunes each week. Social media is a force to be reckoned with for many businesses that continue to struggle with adaptation to the concept. I will continue more on this session in another post soon.

Okay, so I got off on a tangent. The PRSSA Chapter at UTSA held elections for a new Executive Board on Nov. 30 and I am excited to announce that I have been re-elected as President. I am excited to begin the new year with nine other highly motivated individuals and continue working on all of the great things we began over hte last eight months. On a personal note my partner and I closed on a house on December 19 and will be moving around the first week in Feb. So as you can see the last few weeks have been very exciting and busy for me. I will work harder to post more often.