Thursday, March 29, 2007

Resources for Learning about the Blogosphere for PR Folk

Next installment of "Learning about Social Media from Your Desk."

As we wrap up this two-month lesson about blogs, I have listed some resources for you below. We spent two months on this topic because there is so much to cover. And we will actually come back to it later on to focus on blogger relations more specifically. The resources below are in no particular order.

1. "Introduction to Blogs" (I mentioned this one in a Friday, June 02, 2006, post)
The full title is: Introduction to Blogs: A quick guide to understanding and maximizing communication efforts in the blogosphere. This five-page document by Bacon’s Information Inc., discusses four reasons blogs have gained popularity, four general types of blogs, tips for working with blog writers, tips for monitoring the blogosphere, and tips using blogs as a marketing tool. While not being as comprehensive as some of the other resources I’ve found, this is a quick-read and good as an introduction (as the title indicates).

2. Waggener Edstrom Worldwide has several useful resources that I listed in a Monday, July 17, 2006, post, including: Are You Listening: Understanding the Blogosphere from a Communications Perspective (Part I) and Engaging the Blogosphere: Creating Connections and Fueling Conversations (Part II) (in pdf).

3. Online Tutorial Introduces You to Social Media (from my Tuesday, August 01, 2006 post). Capture the Conversation has posted on their web site a set of tutorials that are really cool. If you’re waiting for someone to show you how, you can stop waiting. These tutorials range from about three minutes to 10 and give you basic info on how to use a particular tool and why. Here are some related topics they’ve created tutorials for: How to Post a Comment on Blogs, Receiving Blog Trackbacks, Strategic Blog Commenting, Subscribing to a Blog via RSS Feed, and Setting Up a Technorati Account.

Next week, we’ll start a new topic: Podcasts!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

2007 PRSA President Outlines Her Goals

Today, I had a chance to sit down to lunch with PRSA San Antonio's President for 2007 Fran Stephenson. I asked her about her goals for the organization as she serves in the role of president for 2007:

1. Building on the success of the Del Oro award program
2. Launching the Marilyn Potts Endowment Fund
3. Professional development and the strength of our programs

Listen to what she has to say in our first ever PRSA-SA Video Cast, maybe we will do more of these in the future:

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Remember the Basics – Paying Attention to Avoid Going Up in Smoke

Locals are well aware of the pesky mulch fire just outside of San Antonio. The fire began on Christmas and still is burning. Officials have argued about who will pay the millions of dollars it is taking to put it out – before trying to put it out. Air quality experts have been arguing with water quality experts about which is more important. And the rest of us have been coughing and wheezing back and forth to the doctor. School children and local residents have even been relocated. Experts have been assembling from across the state.

During the same time, I’ve been painfully reminded that while learning about new media, you still have to tend to the old. Beginning at about the same time as the mulch fire, our chapter web site has been “under the weather” as well. The web-based editing tool we’d been using started having trouble, and the software company wanted us or our web host to by a service agreement before they would help fix the problem. Which of course we refused to do. So our web host has been looking for a new program and agreed to make our edits for us. But they’ve got bigger fish to fry and have kind-of forgotten about us. In the meantime, visitors in March were seeing promotions for an event in early February.

Wow, the local PR association can’t even keep its web site up to date. Just like the mulch fire, no one is at fault (except for the match-holder). But it can’t go on.

So this week, we set up a temporary web page using Google’s cool page builder tool, which is in beta, and set up a redirect.

We are also taking steps to create a whole new web site. This was actually already in the works, which is why we weren’t yelling at the web host to find new software faster. The new site should be ready in a couple of months. It will include new features like a directory of local PR firms, information on what our local PRSSA (student) chapter is up to at UTSA, and a section on our chapter’s community service.

It will also enable us to ramp up our blog to include basic tools like tagging and displaying photos. It’ll be like a breath of fresh air!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Nominate a PR Professional in the San Antonio Area

You have four workdays left to nominate a colleague for a Del Oro Individual Award! The deadline for sending your nomination letter by email is the end of Thursday, March 15, 2007.

The Del Oro Awards are individual awards, recognizing leading public relations practitioners in the following areas:
• Tex Taylor Lifetime Achievement,
• Public Relations Professional of the Year,
• Community Service, and
• Horizon (recognizing a young PR professional "rising star").

There is no entry fee for the Del Oro individual awards. All it takes is a good letter of nomination! Details and entry guidelines are online at the chapter's web site.

If you feel someone you know is deserving, write down why and send in a nomination. Your colleague can't win otherwise!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Third Reason for Monitoring Blogs for Public Relations

Next installment of "Learning about Social Media from Your Desk"

The third reason in public relations to monitor blogs is to know what online conversations are related to your industry or company. In media relations, you probably report media coverage and group it by the event or whatever that started a set of coverage. But it pretty much stops there.

In this new world of social media, the number of blog posts is pretty trivial. It’s all about the conversation.

So when you are monitoring by post and tag searches and find relevant results, don’t think of them as a stream of unconnected mentions. Keep an eye on things like: the volume and content of comments, the links included in the post and the trackbacks (inbound links), and blog posts that mention other related blog posts. Go and track those links. Notice the direction of each conversation.

Then, you’ll need to decide when and how to join in the conversation. You can add comments to blog posts of the more influential bloggers. But do so judiciously. Do not try to sell something (even an idea). Be open about who you represent (this is really, really, really important). Express gratitude. Offer information. Gently provide corrections to errors.

Joining the conversation is important, but as a public relations professional, you have a special responsibility in how you go about it.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Second Reason for Monitoring Blogs for Public Relations

Next installment of "Learning about Social Media from Your Desk" (I know it’s a new month, and we’re supposed to be moving to a new topic. But we’re going to stay on the topic of blogs for a bit.)

The second reason to monitor blogs is to know what certain bloggers are saying about your industry. To get started, you need to identify which bloggers you want to watch. By ego-surfing regularly, you may start to see which bloggers are focusing your topics of interest (pro, con or otherwise). You will also see which ones are most influential by virtue of them having a number of comments and inbound links.

Then you can go back to Technorati, Blogpulse and Google blog search (or others like Ask or Blogdigger as suggested by a commenter) to search for key terms. Be sure to search in “posts” and in “tags.” Searching in posts will give you a list of blog posts that use your term. That’s handy, but depending on how generic your terms are, you may get a list of irrelevant and random posts.

A tag is the key term that the blogger has assigned to his or her post. Usually there are a few tags per blog post. By searching in tags, you’ll see posts that are specifically about your term. Of course, you can subscribe to tag searches too. Over time, you’ll learn which terms give you the most useful results.

There are good reasons for searching posts and tags. For example, not every blog uses tags (like this one, due to software troubles). But start paying attention to tags. It’s one tool that makes social media so dynamic.

Your homework is to test out some searches using terms related to your organization or a client. Compare the results you get from different search terms and different search services.