Thursday, October 16, 2008

Check Your E-mail Release for Spam-like Issues Before You Send It

Another PRSA member forwarded this link to me. It’s so cool. With this tool, SiteSell’s SpamCheck, you can just test a news release or advisory before you send it by e-mail. You’ll quickly get a report telling you how likely it is to get caught up in spam filters.

I tested one I sent a couple of months ago and was happy to get a low score of 0.2. It says that any score under 4.5 is great. The really cool part is that it tells you the precise problems it identified so that you can fix them if you choose.

Note that this tool does not keep you from spamming reporters with mass irrelevant messages. We have to tend to that ourselves.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

PRSA Byline Blog Comment Policy

Given our chapter's recent programs related to social media, one of the messages that came through clearly was the need to have policies. We realized that for this blog, we had posted a policy for our blog team members, but we hadn't posted the one for commentors. So here is our official policy.

PRSA Byline Blog Comment Policy
We want to hear from you and encourage comments, critiques, questions and suggestions. We ask that you simply stay on topic, respect other people’s opinions, avoid profanity, offensive statements, illegal content, and anything else that might otherwise violate our standard terms and conditions.

Please understand that we reserve the right to edit or delete comments for any reason we deem appropriate. Obscene, racist, and otherwise objectionable comments will be deleted at the discretion of the moderator. If you do not provide a valid e-mail address, we reserve the right to delete or not publish your comment.

The opinions expressed here are not necessarily the opinions of PRSA and we assume no responsibility for such content. Please do not post any private information unless you want it to be available publicly. Please see our privacy policy for more information.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Professional Development

Hi - I'm the incoming chair for professional development, and I'm looking for your help.

If you didn't attend yesterday's workshop on Social Media, would you please add some comments to this post and let me know why?

If you did attend, would you reply and let me know what you did and didn't like?

Would everybody let me know what you'd like to see as professional development for the upcoming year?


Beth Graham

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Blogging 101 with Bryan Person

Live from the Seminar!

Our last speaker this afternoon is Bryan Person, social media evangelist at Live World. Bryan kicks off by asking the questions....why should you blog and, more interestingly, who shouldn't blog. He cautions that if you are afraid of negative feedback, you may not be a candidate. However, Bryan looks at this type of feedback as an opportunity to learn about your company.

Goal-setting is an important component of launching a blog... so now, here's a theme with all of our social media presenters today. If you don't have a goal, none of these strategies and tactics will be successful for your organization. Light bulb! All PR practitioners should be setting goals, no matter what tools you choose.

Preparing to blog is an important step. Visiting and subscribing to blogs that interest you is important research. Also, people who visit your blog can find you and contact you. Targeting your readers is very important and your blog need not have a huge audience to be successful.

Creating content is the most important part of your blog. Bryan suggests that you raise your industry up with your content, particularly by creating original content and not recycling content. The more you generate, the more you can be found in search engines. Bloggers should have opinions and take a stand, particularly on issues. Visuals can really help draw people into your blog.

Promoting and building your blog is key to its longevity. Bryan hosted a lively discussion about whether ghostwriting a blog by a CEO or organization representative is a good practice.

Quality in content needs to be followed by quantity....the average blogger should post 3 times per week at a minimum. Bryan gave numerous examples of good blogs in the public relations industry, including Slice and PR Squared .

As with all today's speakers, Bryan urged the participants to maintain transparency. Another theme which all our presenters have stated throughout today's seminar.

Amended on October 8, 2008 to add link to Bryan's presentation.

Christie Goodman shares her Podcasting Strategy

Live from the Seminar!
Have you ever thought about who you might reach with podcast? A podcast is merely an audio program that listeners can download or save from and to a source. Many companies use podcasting for training, professional development, to humanize a company, reach out to fans or influencers AND can unite an organization that is challenged by distance. This is a real niche in social media. Christie is giving us a myriad of examples, from education to barbecue secrets. Her first piece of advice is to plan, preferably a written plan. Listening to a variety of podcasts can prepare you -- try what interests you and what is part of your industry. Some of the early podcasts Christie recalled were very rough and lacked polish. Goal setting is a critical step to success. Christie advocates asking yourselfsome questions: 'what do you want to accomplish?' 'Where do you want to be when you're done?'This community expects transparency and an informal style of conversation. They do NOT want someone to read to them.

The podcasts used by Christie's organization, have become a great resource for teachers. Some are still getting monthly downloads even after a year or more. These are obvious of topical interest, according to Christie.

The planning process for Christie include frequency of show, show length and format. She uses teachers and other professionals who are well-schooled in presenting to audiences, so they know their subject matter and minimizes the preparation she does as a PR professional.

Podcast content needs a predictable pattern, which includes music, interview introductions just like a radio show. One challenge for many organizations is the temptation to edit the interviews too neatly or an onerous approval process. The executives in Christie's organization have empowered her to manage the project and actually don't review the audio files until they are posted to the organization's Web site.

There are many ways to generate feedback on podcasts, which Christie also shared. What is interesting to note, is that this group lays down the audio on a digital audio recorder that is about the size of a deck of cards. She does engage professional editing to put music and ins and outs on the track.

Christie and IDRA are a great example of how to use new technology on a budget.

Kami Watson Huyse on Building Social Relationships

Live from the Seminar!
When Kami shares her expertise with our chapter, we all learn from it. Full disclosure: Kami and I have shared time on the PRSA San Antonio Board and she has a professional relationship with my company. She was also named the chapter's Public Relations Professional of the Year at this May's Del Oro awards.Read Kami's blog The key to utilizing all -- or any -- of these great technical tools, is to identify who your stakeholders are. Stakeholder identification is THE MOST BASIC task in public relations, so why should it be any different for online communities? Kami is talking about the four stages of engagement in building social networks. The first is to listen and take the time to learn about your community (formerly, audience!). The second stage, participation, is truly empowering for public relations practitioners. This enables you to truly have two-way communications with stakeholders. If you do your homework right, you will be engaging those who can influence or affect your business or organization. The third step is contributing to the community by providing content, sharing experiences and resources. The final step, evaluate, is the only way public relations practitioners can create value for their programs in today's business environment. What you evaluate can vary -- it could be interest, it could be attitude or could be some form of action. The valuable information in today's seminar is unbelievable!

Seminar photos today courtesy of Randy Escamilla, using his new IPhone.

UPDATE: This is Kami's Presentation

Monika Maeckle, Business Wire on New Press Releases

Live from the Seminar!
Monika Maeckle, vice president of new media for Business Wire is speaking right now about how to think differently about your press releases. Instead of a static document, press resources need to be enabled for searching and sharing. ONe of the easiest things a practitioner can do is to highlight items within the release using the usual formatting tricks in Microsoft Word. Boldfacing or italicizing text as well as using bullet points and subheads allow for better integration into search engines. Embedding links into releases is an easy and powerful tool to build credibility. Providing graphics, photos or videos -- in link form, of course -- will make your news more valuable to the reader. Now that Google is enabling its searches with photos, graphics and maps, this gives the press release writer the chance not only to tell their story, but to show their story. As Monika observes, press releases are traffic pointers. They should be pointing people to places they want to go and things they want to see. Business Wire hosts numerous, free webinars to assist practitioners with trying out all these new techniques. Check it out!

Social Media Cannot be Ignored

Live from the Seminar!
The big takeaway from Geoff's presentation today was you cannot ignore this medium of social media. Social media is categorized by its very nature as a COMMUNITY, not an AUDIENCE. This is a concept that is very difficult for many public relations practitioners to accept. But it is a message we must take back to our organizations, our CEOs, our nonprofits, our schools and our government agencies. Our stakeholders are online and we need to meet them online, on their terms, in their timeframe. Geoff is firmly entrenched in these communities and we can learn a lot from him.

Geoff Livingston speaking at PRSA San Antonio chapter today

Live from the Seminar!

Today, we're hearing from Geoff Livingston, who was introduced to us as a social media "guru." He is sharing with us about the fractured nature of communications today. Just launching a blog doesn't cut it anymore. You have to dedicate time and resources to build social media and networks. Livington is urging the group to let strategy guide the communications plan, using the traditional method of determining objectives and then selecting the tools to accompany those objectives. THEN, decide if social media fits into the plan. As Geoff says, don't let the nomenclature get in the way of understanding.

Watch for more from the seminar later today.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Some First Steps for PR Folk to Engage with Social Media

Let’s say you’re a high-level PR professional. A boss or an owner. And you’ve avoided dipping into these new-fangled social media things for some logical reason like the time required or because the way you’ve been doing things has been working fine.

Let me share some practical reasons you may want to give social media a try.

Blog monitoring – You need to know what people are saying about your company or client. By monitoring conversations on blogs, you can get a jumpstart on issues that could otherwise blow up. Dell reports that they get a three-week heads-up about issues before they hit the mainstream media. This is something you can do for free. And it’s a minimum. Later, you can learn to participate in the conversations to build the brand, enhance reputation and dialogue with influencers. A key audience to be monitoring is the reporters you are likely to work with. Many are bloggers themselves.

Social networks – Let’s focus on Facebook. Why on earth would you want to set up a Facebook page? Because reporters are there. They are communicating with their audiences and their sources there. I’ve even heard of one who will only pay attention to pitches he gets via Facebook, not e-mail or phone. Again, it’s a minimum. You don’t have to reveal your family secrets on your page. And you certainly should keep it professional. Later, you can use Facebook and other networks to connect with your company’s or client’s key constituencies who are there. Again, it’s free.

Social bookmarking – Services like Delicious are highly useful tools to support your media relations or community relations work. I’ve posted some how to’s on this subject before. See the last post for links. And yes, it’s free.

Twitter – Using Twitter can be powerful for public relations. The thing is, you will not understand its value until you sign up and start using it. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Twitter is not the only service of its kind, but it’s the most popular. It’s where many journalists are. It’s where portions of your audiences likely are. People will tell you it’s addictive. But that means they aren’t using it well for their business. You can. But it’s all theory until you set up your account. And guess what. It’s free.

If you try any of these tools, the worst that can happen is you won’t find them useful and you’ll stop using them.

Our chapter is holding a full-day professional development session specifically on this topic to demonstrate ways to get started or expand participation. I’m sure there will be more posts about it in the coming days.

So here’s the bottom line. Social media is not merely an additional vehicle for distributing or even exchanging information. It is not a trend. It is a manifestation of social change that we are in the midst of.