Category Archives: social media

Employees Using Social Media Can Give Companies a Nasty Virus

virus

A couple weeks ago, a virus had its way with my family. Within a four-day span, all four of us were incredibly sick for 24 hours at a time and it seemed there was nothing we could do to stop the next person from getting it.

That’s because despite how careful we were – quarantining the sick one to a bedroom, dispensing large bottles of hand sanitizer, etc. – it’s impossible to be fully conscious of every single time your hand touches something else in the house. For example, we each hold the handrail when coming down the stairs by habit without even giving it a thought.

It’s not much different for companies that have employees who are active in the social media space. And, honestly, what company doesn’t have at least one employee with a Facebook page or Twitter account?

Social media is like a rabbit hole and it’s easy for employees to either not be fully conscious of all the places they touch or forget that Google can find just about anything. A rude comment on a blog post here. A disparaging Tweet about a client’s home city there. Posting unapproved client work to her online portfolio because she really liked the concept, even though the client picked a different direction.

They can seem harmless enough at the time, but each of these can have a negative impact on your business and strain client relationships. That’s why all companies should have guidelines for employees that outlines what’s acceptable in social media participation and what’s not.

This isn’t to keep them out of social media networks because these tools can bring a lot of good to your organization. But the guidelines remind employees that their online actions can have consequences for both the company and them, and it gives them guardrails to help keep them from mistakenly going off track.

Does your company have these guidelines in place? If so, do you feel they’ve been helpful in better protecting the brand? Should companies have any “say” in what employees do online with personal accounts?

(Image by Fred Armitage.)

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How Do You Explain PR to People?

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Unlike many professions, most members of the general public have no idea what public relations is or what PR pros do. You know what I mean. You’ve been met with the “I’m going to nod my head like I know what that is but my face will give away that I’m clueless” look before.

Doctors don’t have this problem. Nor do insurance salesmen. For that matter, even our brethren in the marketing mix don’t have this issue. Tell Joe Normal you’re in advertising and he knows exactly what you’re talking about.

Part of that is probably due to the fact that much of the work in PR lies behind the scenes. We pitch the stories, but journalists write them. We write the speeches, but executives deliver them. We plan the corporate social responsibility campaign, but the CEO accepts the accolades.

Our daily professional lives cover such a broad range of strategic initiatives and tactical activities that it can be hard to even know where to start when explaining PR to a non-marketing person. So what do you say when they ask, “What’s that?” I try to make it relevant for them by putting it in terms of what they experience. Something like:

“I help companies communicate with people – customers, employees, legislators. And with you! If you’ve read a story in a newspaper or on CNN.com on a new product, a PR pro shared that with the reporter and lined up the interviews. If you see a business leader delivering a speech, a PR pro probably wrote it. If you happen across a really cool event in Bryant Park, a PR pro likely played a major part in the idea behind it. We work with executives to figure out the smartest, most effective ways to engage with people, let them know what’s going on with the company, and get their thoughts and feedback.”

What about you? How do you explain PR to your Aunt Martha or the guy sitting next to you on the airplane in a few sentences?

*Image by Keven Law.

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Let’s Put the “Folk Wisdom” to Bed Already

clouds-kevin-dooley

I saw an interesting book on a coworker’s desk last week – The Art of War for Executives by Donald G. Krause, based on Sun Tzu’s classic text The Art of War. As I cracked it open yesterday and began reading it, a particular paragraph stood out to me and I found myself yelling “YES!” in my head.

“Sun Tzu warns us about relying on ‘folk wisdom.’ Folk wisdom is the body of unproven assumptions, unwarranted speculation, and generally accepted opinions that is present in any group of people. Great danger lies in not challenging folk wisdom. Reliable facts always precede successful actions.”

How much “folk wisdom” weighs us down daily, whether we’re talking about marketing, PR, social media or [insert your craft here], despite evidence that a new way may be better? One of the things I’ve said since the first post on this blog is that I want to use it regularly as a discussion starter to challenge the status quo and make sure we’re doing things because they are the best solutions, not simply because it’s the way we’ve always done them. Here are a few of the posts that have appeared here attempting to do just that.

I’m interested in your take. Do you notice any “folk wisdom” at work? Does it hold back your brand or the work you do for clients? Do you challenge the status quo even though it’s easier to go along with your boss or the crowd? What are ways we can challenge folk wisdom positively, constructively and effectively?

*Image by Kevin Dooley.

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10 Clues Your PR Pro is Worth the Dough

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One of last week’s posts – 10 Clues Your PR Pro is Nothing But Show – generated a lot of great comments that added even more clues to the list. So I thought we’d continue the fun by looking at the flip side and highlighting the things that set great PR pros apart from the rest of the pack.

Here are 10 clues that your PR pro is worth the dough. It doesn’t include the obvious opposites of the “nothing but show” clues, which means there are really 20 clues that your PR pro is worth the dough between these two posts. If you’re experiencing any of these from the folks on your internal team or from an outside agency, recognize their efforts and give them a hearty thanks.

1. They dive headfirst into your business and industry, and immerse themselves in learning every in and out within both.
2. They ask smart questions.
3. They are strong writers and great storytellers.
4. They proactively sync up with marketing, advertising, interactive and media planning to help create compelling, robust campaigns aimed at achieving your business goals.
5. They challenge you to step outside your comfort zones and try new things.
6. They know what they don’t know.
7. They are resourceful and create solutions to overcome challenges.
8. They listen as much as they talk.
9. They bring creative energy and a positive attitude to the table.
10. They own their mistakes, learn from them and put processes in place to minimize the chance those mistakes happen again.

What would you add to the list? What tips you off that the person across the table is worth his or her salt in this business?

*Image by Eric Ward.

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Do Social Media Tools Make Us Less Social Where It Counts Most?

best-friends

I’m relatively active on the social web and I frequently encourage other marketing communications professionals to at least test drive some of these tools that allow us to interact with customers like never before. However, I was struck by an interesting irony this weekend regarding social media.

It happened Sunday night around 8:30. We had two friends over to watch the Super Bowl. I had my laptop out and was rating Super Bowl commercials in real time with other people on Twitter. After the 10th or 11th commercial, though, I realized that I was so interested in the social aspect of sharing an experience online with thousands of others that I was neglecting the people actually sitting beside me in the same room.

I set my laptop aside and spent the rest of the evening interested in the social aspect of sharing an experience offline with a few people right in front of me.

Do social media tools make us less social where it counts? What do you think?

*Image by Stuart Seeger.

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Teens and 20-Somethings May Leave Facebook

teens-leaving-facebook

I was chatting with a high school senior a couple weeks ago and Facebook came up. He commented offhand that he may have to find a new place online to keep up with his friends and I asked, “why?” That’s when he tipped me off.

“It was kind of weird when my parents joined and friended me. Seriously, though, my grandma friended me the other day! This isn’t cool. A lot of my friends are talking about looking for something else.”

That got me thinking. Do college students want their parents and aunts and uncles and grandparents walking into their dorm rooms on a Saturday night to jot down something cheesy on the white board over their desk for all their friends to see? If it’s not cool in the offline world, what would make it cool online?

Yes, the largest demographic on Facebook remains the 18-24 year olds. But their reign over the market share has dropped nearly 14 percent in the past six months alone – which validates the “problem” that high school senior shared.

If you market products or services to teens and 20-somethings, I’d keep an eye peeled and an ear to the ground. If an exodus begins, find out where they’re going and figure out ways for your brand to interact meaningfully. Getting in early is a very good thing.

What’s your take on the matter? Will the trendsetting young ones start running for the hills or will they eventually get over the heebie jeebies that come from being friended by their grandmas?

*Image by Tom Rydquist.

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What Advice Would You Share with These College Students?

the-graduates

Next week I’m sitting down with a handful of PR students from Iowa State University who are currently taking an online writing/content management class. We’re going to chat about the ways social media has changed/is changing how brands market themselves and interact with consumers, as well as blogging basics.

Another topic of discussion will be tips on landing their first jobs and how to stand out and succeed early in their careers. I’d like your help with this portion. What advice would you share with these future professionals to help them succeed in PR, Marketing, Digital strategy and so on?

Here are three of the tips I’m going to pass along. They may be a bit evergreen, but some sage advice never changes.

Hustle – That’s the way to set yourself apart early on in your career. Of course, I’m assuming you’re smart and can carry a conversation. That goes without saying.

Lots of people meet expectations. Hustle will drive you to exceed them. Make one more pitch call. Think of one new idea for your client each month. Raise your hand to join the fun when new projects come in the door. Don’t be obnoxious, of course. There’s a balance. Find it and hustle!

Networking – Networking is the one of the important ways to both land a job and succeed in this business. When I was in college, networking was limited to people you could physically meet – in college, at local PRSA meetings, at career fairs, etc.

Today, networking is on steroids. It’s never been easier to meet and develop relationships with amazing professionals from across the country – and the globe – thanks to tools like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. There is no excuse not to be using them. These relationships are priceless when looking for a job. Even after you’re employed, continuing to engage with your connections gives you access to ongoing advice and points of view, which are beneficial throughout your career.

Internships – These have become a given, but I’m surprised that I still meet so many students who’ve had no internships or only one internship. Not only are internships a must, but more than one is a must. I’m not taking anything away from the classroom, but actual experience is where you really start learning the ins and outs of this business.

Actually, I think PR, advertising and digital communications are a bit like the types of careers folks had back in the colonial days – apprenticeships. A basic foundation learned in the classroom is important, but you’ve got to get your hands dirty to pick up the craft. Go get your hands dirty.

Your turn. What would you share with these bright, young minds? I’ll point them to this post and your advice while we’re chatting Tuesday.

*Image by Gusi Lu.

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