Thursday, January 28, 2010

They're Counting Web Site Hits? Really? - Sooo last decade

There are lots of ways to measure the effectiveness of your web site. But I still can't believe what I read in the San Antonio Business Journal recently. There was a great article on on the front page about some new web interprise. It was a local community good news story. And the author is a writer I like to read. But as I was reading along in this case, I was amazed to see that he actually printed as evidence of success somebody's hit account. Hits? Really?

Now as a reader, I have to ask whether it was the Business Journal who used the term "hits" to describe the web site measure or if the "hits" number is what they were given by the interviewee. If it was what the reporter was given, you'd think a good journalist would have questioned it.

The term "hit" is absolutely meaningless. You cannot compare web sites based on hits. That's like asking a guy who's bragging about his diet how many times he chews each bite. I mean, really.

The more appropriate measures for web site success to start with are visits and user sessions, among tons of others. Granted, we did use the term hits in the old days of the web. But that was because it was the only number the IT folk would give us. But we are smarter now. Aren't we?

Monday, January 18, 2010

2010 TPRA Silver Spur/ Best of Texas Awards

The following is reprinted from TPRA materials (but I still mean it).

Get Your Award Entry in by January 21
It’s time to get really serious about entering the Texas Public Relations Association's 2010 Silver Spur/Best of Texas Awards Competition. It’s also not too late to volunteer to judge this outstanding competition.

The last call deadline (with a $50/entry late fee) is 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21.

Go to for complete information on preparing and submitting contest entries. Or contact Julie B. Fix, APR, TPRA contest manager, at or 713-419-8494.

Nominate a PR Pro for an Award
Do you know a PR professional, business or member of the news media deserving of special recognition?

TPRA is seeking nominations for our special awards, honoring individuals and companies for outstanding contributions to the public relations profession. The award recipients will be recognized during the Leadership Day & Gala on March 5 in Austin.

To submit a nomination in one or more categories, send your nomination by noon January 29 along with supporting information to Scott White at

Categories include:
Golden Spur Award - Recognizing a TPRA member for a minimum of 10 years for long-lasting contributions to TPRA and the PR profession.

Outstanding Texas PR Practitioner Award - Recognizing a PR professional for outstanding accomplishments and contributions to the profession.

Alan Scott Rising Star Award - Recognizing a PR professional and TPRA member for at least three years who has demonstrated potential for leadership and outstanding contributions to the profession.

New Member Achievement Award - Recognizing a PR professional who has been a TPRA member for one to three year for significant contributions to the TPRA.

Silver Spur Media Award - Recognizing contributions by a print or broadcast reporter, photographer, editor or producer or a print or broadcast outlet to a public affairs, public education or community relations program that benefited the community.

Lone Star Award - Recognizing a company that places a high priority on public relations and values the function as a key management strategy and the PR practitioners it employs as major contributors to the organization's success.

Deadline for Your Nominations is Noon, January 29.

You Be the Judge
If you’d like to volunteer as a judge, we’ll judge entries from 2 to 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22 and again from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 23 at the Texas State University Round Rock Education Center in Round Rock. We are still in need of at least 10 people for both Friday and Saturday, so please contact Julie at or call her at the above number if you’re available or if you’d like more information before making up your mind. (Julie will tell you that judging a contest is the best way to improve your own contest entries in the future.)

The 2010 Silver Spur/Best of Texas Awards is sponsored by TPRA and the Austin, Central Texas, Dallas, Greater Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio PRSA Chapters.

Silver Spur/Best of Texas Award winners will be honored at the Annual Silver Spur/Best of Texas Awards Banquet Friday, March 5 held in conjunction with the Texas Public Relations Association's Leadership Conference. (See for details.)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Twitter is far more than Newly-created “Twilebrities”

Once again, Hollywood takes over and turns something innovative into trite navel-gazing. A recent article in Vanity Fair examines the phenomenon of a handful of (coincidentally) females who are so popular on Twitter that a new moniker has been coined for them: Twilebrity. They have one thing in common: a career thread, in that they are all practicing in the area of public relations, marketing or journalism. The story oozes about how their daily lives are dominated by Twitter and is peppered with examples of their tweets and how important their rankings have become based on the number of followers each has accumulated.

The story is amusing, and is further evidence of how popularity dominates today’s lifestyles. But what is really bothersome about the Vanity Fair piece is the complete lack of reporting about the social good which has been derived from many social initiatives, particularly on Twitter.

Case in point: Twestival. A grassroots event held over 4 days in February, with a goal of raising money for clean water in Ethiopia. The result, from the Twestival Web site:
The 2009 Twestival brought together 202 cities around the world for one cause. Clean and safe drinking water. Led by organizer Amanda Rose, an astonishing $250,000 was raised - 100% of that money going directly to the projects. charity: water staff flew to Ethiopia weeks later to drill the first well, and connect the Twitter community with the people they served.

The group even used social media when they went to Ethiopia to drill the wells for clean water, posting four videos on the effort. Before this world-wide social media effort, the women of the Ethiopian village which benefitted from the Twitter-initiated event had to walk 4 hours for clean water.

Second case: The Iran Elections of last June, catalogued on Twitter as #IranElections. As the world watched Iran struggle with the most controversial elections in recent history, the awareness and empathy created through social media outlets is undeniable. Iranians had an outlet to communicate which was not dominated by a single entity; they could communicate with the outside world and we with them. A timeline created by Mashable aggregates hundreds of areas where photos, Tweets, definitions and videos were posted. The post starts with the elections and tracks the flow of information through the protest and unrest period after the event.

To say that Twitter is just about celebrity and OMG (Oh, my God) moments is to undermine the serious communications tool it has become for people across the world to help one another achieve goals by exchanging 140 character messages. Some Twitter initiatives are as simple as finding an alternative route home in heavy traffic or a restaurant recommendation. Conversely, others are as gut-wrenching as recent efforts to find missing persons or providing clean water and fair elections in countries that don’t have them. None of these will have a Twilebrity and for that, Twitter users everywhere are grateful.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Get a Peek of Jim Forsyth Speaking on How Radio Can Dominate in a Shrinking Print World

Here's a video from our PRSA San Antonio luncheon this week (see "Why Radio will Survive the Media Shake-out of our Decade" post).

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Why Radio will Survive the Media Shake-out of our Decade

Jim Forsyth, News Director at WOAI Radio, appeared earlier this week at the monthly PRSA San Antonio Professional Development Luncheon to talk about the new wave in radio. But who cares about radio?

In an era where we are rapidly watching newspapers and their traditional model of newsgathering go away, Forsyth believes radio is poised for continued success, despite the fact that pundits and media watchers have been predicting its demise for nearly 50 years.

Well, guess what? Subscription and Internet Radio is not only NOT killing local audiences, it is enhancing and expanding them. This was the message Forsyth delivered to his audience of 50 local public relations pros.

He called radio a “fast frigate” and compared the medium to the “big battleships” that are television stations. Radio reporters have always been nimble and able to gather stories “where the grass grows” while television has often distanced itself from its audiences with large sets and capital intensive news gathering methods.

He categorize radio as the ultimate tool for multi-taskers because it goes with you –in your car – and you can tune in while you are doing other things – the backyard barbecue or hanging in the house. “We live in a busy word and people don’t have time to make an appointment to watch 30 minutes of news.”

He credited radio’s current success with audience to controversial talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh who has given new live to the call-in medium. In fact, Forsyth widely credits Limbaugh and others like him for elevating the status of the AM dial in the past ten years.

While many mediums are searching for a new business model and in fact, this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the New York Times was scheduled to preview a new reading gadget, Forsyth pointed to the Comcast model in which cable subscribers get free show downloads from the Internet.

While many thing of radio as low budget, Forsyth was very proud of the fact that his station delivers 4 hours of news each morning with only 7 people. One alarming trend in radio which Forsyth said is already spreading among media markets is the new “hub and spoke” philosophy, not unlike the way airlines route you around the country, by using their hub airports to drive you to a spoke destination.

Here’s an example: their San Antonio-based radio station is now producing and delivering news for sister stations in Waco, Brownsville and Wichita, Kansas. He also shared an example of the Los Angeles affiliate now gathering news for their Minneapolis partner.

Jim paid the audience a huge compliment saying that there are few cities in America who have such a plethora of professional PR Practitioners (thanks, Jim!), but said that this aggregating multiple markets-worth of news will have huge implications for gathering and reporting news. San Antonio PR pros are lucky that the news gathering is happening here and not being “shipped overseas.”

Monday, January 04, 2010

PRSA National Rolls out New Web Site

Haven’t been to the PRSA National organization’s Web site lately? You will be surprised at what the new site has to offer. The look and feel is fresh, logical and organized. The color palette is fun and engaging. The front page aggregates the latest news and events in a quick timeline, but additional resources are organized by three categories: Learning, Intelligence and Network.

The Learning section gives you additional menus for conferences, awards and other in-person and online opportunities. The Intelligence section pulls together all the abstracts from the association’s publications as well as case studies and research. The Network section has the member directory, chapter listings, firm listings and other tools to find members. I took the new member tools for a spin. Specifically, I reviewed the new “My PRSA” section, which allows you to develop a more comprehensive profile on yourself, including listing your social media addresses, uploading photos and checking in on your discussion groups. A great new feature is called “My Directory.” Search the existing member directory and tag members to build them into your own personalized database. I pulled everyone from our chapter’s board to this list rather than creating my own list this year.

The new Web site also features more articles, more case studies and numerous resources for professionals in all industries, and at every level of professional practice. Check it out and let the PRSA National team know what you think—they have lots more to add to the new place in 2010.