Gen Wise Perspective

Gen Y's perspective (pun intended) on our journey through work, life, and everything in between.

Archive for the tag “PR”

When will we realize social media marketing is about being social?

Many of us in the PR industry already read this advertising clown’s article about how we’re ruining social media. This might have even been credible if he backed it with some stats and examples, or if he didn’t throw in a shameless self-promotion in at the end.

Way to plug yourself….that’s really going to make me believe you understand how social media marketing works.

The whole time he discussed the problem with pushing content at people, and then at the end he shoves a bunch of examples of his agency’s work at us? Yes, clearly this guy is the mastermind of all things social media marketing.

(Note: my sarcasm does not reflect my views on his agency’s work. I respect it and think it’s very creative. This is just my opinion about this particular article)

Although the article overall was full of generalizations and assumptions, there are some points we agree on:

1)      “No one wants to listen to an endless, aimless stream of dialog about a brand or a company, which is what you get from a strategy that focuses on news, offers and the occasional contest”

2)      “Effective social media marketing is about putting something directly into the hands of your audience”

3)      “People are engaged by great content”

4)      “People gravitate to brands they like and respect. You aren’t going to win friends by boring them to death with conversation about yourself.”

The problem I have is that he’s assuming two things that aren’t always true: That PR agencies always develop and implement a brand’s social media strategy, and that a PR agency’s strategy in terms of social media for a brand is always focused on distributing content.

False and false.

PR agencies do NOT always handle social media for brands. Sometimes they have a separate social media agency, other times ad agencies are in charge of a brand’s social media presence, or it’s handled in-house.

And, just because we’re in PR does NOT mean that we’re applying old-school, traditional PR distribution practices to social media.

Really, this article didn’t need to call out the PR industry. It could’ve just discussed poor social media marketing strategies in general. Some people are great at it, others are terrible. What this article says isn’t always wrong, but it’s definitely pointing the finger in one direction when in reality it applies to many people (that aren’t always PR pros).

It does raise the bigger issue: When are we going to realize that social media marketing is about the SOCIAL aspect?

There are all these “best practices” or things you should(n’t) do (like the four points I mentioned above), but when you stop and think about it…they’re all about being human.

People naturally connect with other people, so the questions for marketers become: How can I humanize my brand? How do I give it a personality that consumers can connect to?

After all, we gravitate towards different people based on our own personalities. The same goes for our behavior towards a brand.

Social media provides the perfect opportunity for brands to not only have a means for connecting with their audience and building a community of like-minded individuals (AKA being social), but also to understand who those people are and what they care about.

It starts off on a broader level: what type of person do I want to target? Who purchases my product and/or service?

Ok, so once that’s nailed down….

Where do they spend their time online?

Then: What are they saying? What do they talk about/respond to the most? What sparks a negative reaction in them? Positive? What do they share the most?

Those are the types of questions that make the most sense to ask first. Yes, there are more, but the point is that it’s about getting a well-rounded view of who these people are. That way you can figure out how to be human and best relate to them.

I mean, isn’t that how we act in a social setting if we want to actually build a relationship?

You wouldn’t just spout a bunch of crap about yourself without asking anything about other people. You would talk to them, listen to what they have to say, ask questions, share interesting information, laugh together, bounce ideas off one another, and so on.

Well, doesn’t that apply to social media marketing as well?

And, to the first part of the post, do you really need to be in advertising, PR, or marketing to understand that?

Nope.

Why does PR get such a bum rap?

Those of us in the PR industry are constantly defending what we do. Not even because we need to justify the profession, but because so many people out there insist on bitching about their bad PR experiences. I have no doubt that these bad experiences exist, but please stop lumping all PR pros and agencies in the same category.

Not everyone is a stereotype, and I’m pretty sure none of the PR-haters out there would like it if we started throwing around stereotypes about their professions. Just saying.

So this morning when I saw my friend Jason Mollica’s blog post titled “An Attack on PR…again,” I thought: What did we “do” now?

Of course Jason was showing his PR solidarity. But I still had to read the article he was referring to so that I could hear the other side of the story. I’ll admit that I thought I was going to get really angry about some stupid accusations. Instead, I started to realize there are legitimate issues brought up in the article that occur between many PR agencies and clients—issues that lead to PR haters getting on their soapbox.

Why does PR get such a bum rap?

1) Forgetting to ask: Is PR right for me?

PR is not right for every organization. First, take time to understand what PR is (because many people don’t fully understand it but think they need it) and then decide if it’s the best way to promote your brand, product, service, event, etc.

If PR is the right approach, also consider: what type of PR? The particular instance in the article was restaurant PR. Well, that requires a very different strategy from the kind that I outline for my b-to-b technology clients.

Did this guy ever stop to consider what the best PR approach would be before he delved into searching for an agency? Yes, good reviews are key, but isn’t word of mouth the most important aspect of promoting a restaurant? People will tell their friends if the food, service and overall experience is good.

That being said, an agency that specializes in word of mouth and social media marketing would’ve probably been a good choice. This leads me into my next point…

2) Lack of research before choosing an agency

If you don’t do any research on the agency or its expertise, you could be WAY off base on who you’re hiring to handle your PR. Do they represent clients in your industry?

Does their expertise fit within your needs? Do their current clients get coverage in your target media outlets? If you need digital work done, does the agency have those capabilities?

Thorough research is necessary before you choose an agency, or you will probably turn into an angry client because your expectations will not be met. You can’t assume all PR is the same and all agencies are the same. If you do, then don’t blame the agency when the job isn’t up to your standards. Maybe you should’ve done your homework first.

3) Goals are not set or communicated properly

Define your goals and what PR success looks like before you start working with an agency. This way you can share those goals/expectations upfront so everyone is on the same page. Be clear about what you need from your PR agency because it’s different for each client. You can’t expect them to deliver results if they don’t know what those results are supposed to look like.

4) No thought put into the story you want to tell

Consider the story you want to tell about your brand and who you want that story told to. If you don’t, you might not realize until it’s too late that you really have no news hook and/or no audience.

Think to yourself: Ideally, how would I like my brand to be perceived? What would an ideal media placement look like? What type(s) of people do I want to know about my brand?

After all, you’re the expert on your brand. Don’t be afraid to tell the PR agency how you envision the story playing out.

5) Overly grandiose (and biased) ideas about what you’re trying to promote

Be objective. It’s not easy, but you really need to ask yourself: Is this something that people care about? Just because you think it’s newsworthy doesn’t mean the media does.

However, if there isn’t a news hook you can still find one.  I would suggest working with your agency on this: tell them what you consider the attributes and/or differentiators to be so they can come back to you with ideas on how to find your news hook.

6) Lack of collaboration with your PR agency

You can’t expect PR miracles to happen overnight. If you don’t bring anything to the table your PR agency can only do so much (which might not be anything if there aren’t raw materials to work with). Keep your agency informed of new initiatives BEFORE they happen, send all marketing/sales collateral to them, brainstorm ideas with them, be available for ad hoc interview requests etc. etc. It works best when it’s a two-way relationship.

In the defense of those complaining about PR, I realize not all agencies are easy to work with, creative and organized. They might not be asking the right questions either. But if you know what you want and you verbalize it, it will go a LONG way towards solving the problem.

What do you guys think? What did I miss?

Are individualized PR pitches worth it?

Absolutely. I bet the folks over at Bad Pitch Blog would agree with this one too. I understand it might not always realistic or feasible to send out individual pitches, but more times than not it’s worth the extra time to individualize your pitch.

In my opinion, it’s probably more necessary in BtoB PR and when conducting blogger outreach. The reason I say this is because BtoB companies tend to fit within a certain niche, so you’re working with a smaller group of media outlets (mostly trade publications—online and/or print) that are very specific about the areas of whichever industry they cover. Similarly, bloggers each have a specific focus that you should respect and take into account when pitching. If you’re targeting a blogger, you might as well treat it as if you’re communicating with the publisher, editor AND reporter/writer all at once.

In both cases, individual pitches where you researched the outlet and specific reporter/blogger will prove to be more beneficial because, by the time you send the pitch, you already know the news fit with topics they typically cover. Whether or not they choose to cover your news often has to do with timing, resources, and other aspects that are out of your control…but at least you did your homework.

So, overall, why do I think individual pitches are worth it?

They’re Relevant.

Tailoring a pitch to the person you want to cover your news requires you to make sure the pitch pertains to that person (try saying those five words over and over—tongue twister): You know who you’re pitching, what they tend to cover, and what their audience is interested in hearing.

They’re Personal.

Nobody likes being treated like another number. If you took the time to find out the information I mentioned above, you’re not only relevant but you’re also putting in the effort on a personal level. It sounds like common sense, but a huge part of relationship-building is just acting like a human being. Even if the person you’re pitching doesn’t write about your news, you’ll probably stand out to them the next time around. And, they’re likely to consider you with the same respect that you showed them.

They Help You Avoid Sounding like Willy Loman.

Am I the only one that thinks pitching can seem like old school door-to-door sales from the Death of a Salesman days? Sometimes they’re a step away from cold calling or mass email blasts from a spammy email marketing campaign. But think about it: Who enjoys this? Is there anyone out there going, “Oh random telemarketer I’m SO glad you called me today because I really care about what you have to say!”?

Of course not. So why would a PR pro ever send out a pitch that remotely resembled that type of behavior?

Probably because we don’t even realize it. But that’s where an individual pitch comes in handy—it helps avoid coming across like a cheesy sales rep who goes through the checklist from “Selling for Dummies” when they pitch you.

Instead, you’re speaking to someone one-on-one like you would with a friend.

I’m not saying you should be informal and bust out the U, URs, LMAOs, etc. in your pitch, but it can just be straightforward and casual: “Hey, I saw you’ve covered this before, so I thought you might be interested in ___ news. Is this something you’d want to cover? Here are some reasons you might find it interesting.” (Or something along those lines)

That type of interaction (AKA human interaction) is more likely to be well-received. It’s also more genuine and gives you a chance to honestly explain why you think your news and/or story angle is something interesting and worthwhile for the reporter/blogger to cover.

Although some might think PR pitching is all about who you know, it’s not. Sure, relationships are great to get your foot in the door—your email is more likely to be read by someone who already knows you, and they’re more likely to hear you out—but the bottom line is that the content in your pitch.

The reporter can be your best friend, but I bet they won’t cover the story if it isn’t interesting and doesn’t relate to their audience. So take the extra time to do the legwork for that individual pitch. And then cross your fingers that the timing is right.

What do you think? Anyone had some great success from individual pitching? I’d love to hear about it because, like many others, I’m still learning about what works and what results in an epic pitch #FAIL.

(Image from ebooksx.com, thanks to Google Images)

Is Twitter useful for PR outreach?

There might be some PR folks out there thinking “hell no” when they see that question because it’s not necessarily the traditional way to conduct PR outreach, but Twitter can definitely be a useful tool for pitching the media.

Why?

Journalists are there

Most journalists are on Twitter, so it makes sense to communicate with them wherever they’re present. Journalists are people just like the rest of us, meaning that they probably respond faster to @ replies and Twitter DMs than their overloaded inboxes with PR pitches galore.

If you know who you want to target, you can search for their Twitter handle specifically. If you’re not sure, you can use tools like http://mediaontwitter.com to see a list of thousands of journalists’ Twitter handles.

It’s individualized

Communicating with a journalist via Twitter is an obvious way to show that you’re not sending out an email blast. It’s personalized and relevant to the individual journalist, which makes things much more efficient for both parties.

You have to keep it short and sweet

The beauty of 140 characters is that you have to get to the point. Let’s face it: no one has time (or wants to) read through paragraph after paragraph in an email. With Twitter, you have to be concise and get the crux of the message out there. It’s a great way to gauge interest too. If a journalist wants to hear more, then you can follow up via email.

You get to learn about the journalist

Twitter enables you to see what a journalist is interested in/cares about, which means you can 1) provide a more relevant, individualized pitch, and 2) cultivate a relationship. Not everything has to be about the PR pitch—maybe you’ll find that you have something in common with them. Learning about a journalist will go a long way in building that relationship which ultimately makes your PR outreach more effective.

Another way to see what journalists are talking about on Twitter is to check out http://journalisttweets.com/.

It shows your effort to engage

Going along with the point I made above, using Twitter for media outreach also shows your effort to engage. You had to take the time to do your homework on the journalist and then cultivate the relationship. Your extra effort will not go unnoticed and will most likely be reciprocated in some capacity.

Wouldn’t you be much more willing to work with someone who took the time to seek you out and pitch you on things that are truly relevant to you?

The reason that Twitter is a useful tool for PR outreach boils down to this: At the end of the day, we’re all people and that’s how we want to be treated. Twitter enables the PR-journalist dynamic to become more like an actual relationship.

That’s my two cents on why Twitter is useful for PR outreach, but if you’re looking for some tips on pitching the media via Twitter I highly suggest you read this blog post written yesterday by Maya Wasserman.

What do you think? PR pros, have you pitched journalists on Twitter?

(Image borrowed from http://www.kevintylersmith.com)

What’s Up?

This is just an introduction post from Kim and me saying hello to everyone (probably just our moms and co-workers-ha!) reading this blog. The post is entitled “what’s up?” because I don’t know any other generation except for ours that uses the phrase “what’s up?” as a greeting, and because most of our posts will begin with a question instead of telling you how to do things.

You’ll find posts on the blog that talk about marketing strategies (mainly digital), PR tactics, and of course social media. There might be a few other things that fall under the umbrella as well. We’re going to tell it to you from our point of view as Gen Yers. As recent college grads, we’ll also post on breaking into those industries as well as what you can do to succeed in them.

We both wanted to begin blogging because we have lots of thoughts and we’re news/Twitter junkies who can’t get enough of this stuff. But we figured that we should let you know we aren’t trying to be experts — we’re just providing a point of view from a generation that grew up with technology and the Internet (for the most part, anyway).

Kim and I are very friendly, goofy, all-around happy people so always feel free to reach out to us with your thoughts. If you think of a good blog post idea, let us know and we’ll write about it. If there’s something you’re wondering about Gen Y please come to the source. We’ll do our best to guide you.

You can find out more about us on the About Us page. We look forward to engaging with you!

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