The verdict is in: Twitter is useful for PR!

31 May

I recently read an interesting paper about the usefulness of Twitter with public relations from the Public Relations Journal Winter 2011 issue. “Twitter as a Public Relations Tool” was written by Angelica Evans, MA, Jane Twomey, Ph.D., and Scott Talan, MPA. These three public relations professionals studied the use of Twitter in communications campaigns. They conducted 12 in-depth interviews with executive-level PR professionals and found that Twitter was a valued and essential aspect of a communications campaign’s social media strategy.

So why is Twitter useful for a public relations campaign?

The study found several reasons, and I have elaborated with my own ideas.

1)      Real-time communication

Twitter allows for rapid communication between professionals and members. Communication through blogs and social networking pages such as Facebook often take too long. The study interviewed a PR professional who stated, “Twitter is a valuable tool because it allows for instant communication to a wide audience.” A campaign can tweet questions and have followers respond within several seconds. A PR professional can tweet breaking news and have followers read it and respond to it instantly.

2)      Direct connection to the media

Twitter allows for a direct and immediate connection to media outlets. Lately, media outlets have started to respond to tweets instead of pitch emails or phone calls. The study interviewed Laura Baldwin, senior director at Qorvis Communications. She said that the media responds almost instantaneously to a tweet while they ignore other contact attempts.

3)      Easy communication to a target audience

A Twitter communications campaign can directly target any audience. It is easy to search for users that follow other users and groups that will be interested in your company. The campaign can target certain communities and allow for easy information dissemination to people that will actually read it. The study interviewed a PR professional who stated, “Twitter and other social networking platforms allow you to micro-target communications to communities of interest.”

All in all, the study suggests that Twitter is a valuable asset for public relations professionals, but it lacks direct measurement tools. I think comparing the number of followers to an organization’s annual profits is a great way to measure success. Successful and unsuccessful Twitter communications campaigns should be used as case studies.

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Tools For a Successful Facebook Campaign

24 May

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) recently launched a “Faces of the Future” Facebook campaign. The campaign’s goal is to raise awareness about the BCGA’s state-of-the-art technology offerings for students. The BGCA Facebook page looks professional and inviting. It has useful and relevant information, as well as compelling graphics.

But will it be successful? Will it increase awareness and increase the number of supporters?

Several months ago, Milk-Bone launched its “It’s Good to Give” Facebook campaign. The campaign focused on a dog named Noble and shared Noble’s story while he went through training to become a service dog. The campaign was extremely successful. It increased brand awareness and had more than 6.3 million impressions.

Let’s look at some tips I’ve created based off of the successful Milk-Bone Facebook campaign. Let’s see if the BGCA has what it takes to succeed.

1) Share an individual’s story

The Milk-Bone Facebook page was updated frequently with posts of pictures and stories about Noble. Soon, Facebook followers grew to love Noble and couldn’t wait to see his latest photograph. People became emotionally attached to Noble and thus became attached to Milk-Bone. Showcasing an individual affected by the organization allows each Facebook stakeholder to feel emotionally connected to the person, which then emotionally connects them to the organization.

How does the Boys & Girls Clubs of America campaign compare?

The BGCA focuses on a young man named Richard on its “Faces of the Future” page. You can click a link to learn more about Richard and his journey from a gang member to an aspiring recording artist. The BGCA shows how it helped Richard and how it will continue to help more young people if it has continued support. This personal story allows fans to connect with Richard and connect with the cause.

2) Creatively use the “like” button

The Milk-Bone Facebook campaign included a “like” button that fans could click in order to unlock special gifts for Noble. Asking someone to “like” something for a cause allows them to participate and feel directly involved.

How does the Boys & Girls Clubs of America campaign compare?

The Facebook page has a “like” button that allows fans to help give Microsoft Office to members of the BGCA. This is a great way to increase interactivity and let fans feel like they are personally helping.

3) Keep it simple

Milk-Bone’s Facebook page only has six links (Wall, Info, Photos, Video, Links and Notes) on the left side. This allows for minimum confusion and keeps the page navigation simple. Fans were able to focus on Noble’s story and Milk-Bone’s mission without being distracted by too many links.

How does the Boys & Girls Clubs of America campaign compare?

The BCGA Facebook page is fairly simple but it does include 14 links on the left side. Some of these links cannot even be seen unless you click “more” and expand the tab. The BGCA could eliminate and condense some of these links to create a straightforward page.

For the most part, the BGCA Facebook campaign looks like it is off to a great start. As of May 24, 2011, the BGCA Facebook page has 21,424 “likes.” Do you think it has the tools to double this number? To triple this number?

Adapting Marketing Methods to Social Media

17 May

Ever wondered how to combine traditional marketing with social media?

I recently read a blog post by Len Stein in which he outlines strategies to blend traditional and social media marketing. The post was published in 2010. It is still relevant, although even newer social media strategies have started to emerge.

Stein suggests five tips and I have added some relevant commentary for 2011.

1. Reach out to the traditional media on and offline by tweeting the link to an article. Have your inner circle comment on the article and link it to other sites such as Digg and Delicious.

Make sure the people who comment are transparent about who they are. You don’t want your articles’ comments to appear as if you paid people to say nice things. It’s great to establish a network of professionals who will comment and link your article, but make sure their comments are constructive.

2. Internally distribute by sharing the column with your staff by posting a hard copy around the workplace.

This tip can be translated to the online world as well. If your employees are connected on Twitter or LinkedIn, make sure to share your article and relevant links through these networking sites.

3. Post an article abstract on the company website that links to the company blog. Make sure to respond to comments.  

Interacting with and responding to potential stakeholders is essential. Customers and shareholders want to voice their concerns and questions and they expect a response. Responding is also essential on Twitter. If a follower re-tweets your links, it is appropriate and often necessary to tweet back a thank you.

4. When sending an email, embed twitter copy with a hyperlink in the white space for a signature.

Even if the email doesn’t directly relate to the Twitter post, it is a great way to cross-promote your news or product.

5. Update business cards to include Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter URLs.

Make sure it is appropriate to include your Facebook. If you only use it for personal use, then I would suggest only including your LinkedIn and Twitter. Also, include a link to your online portfolio if relevant.

Use these tips when trying to combine social media and traditional marketing. Traditional marketing still exists, but it is important to integrate social media marketing. Social media moves quickly and it is essential to modify marketing methods.

Students + Social Media = Addiction?

10 May

I recently came across a study from the University of Maryland that asked 200 students to abstain from social media for 24 hours. Even after one day, students felt severe withdrawals and described themselves as “antsy,” “anxious,” and “miserable.”

So why can’t students survive without social media?

It’s really not our fault. Social media is intrinsically connected to our lives.

I use Facebook to catch up with old friends; ask classmates about an assignment; create events and RSVP to them; learn about current political and entertainment news; and share pictures and insights with my friends and acquaintances. Long gone are the days of email correspondence; I simply use Facebook messages.

I use Twitter to share relevant links and news stories with my classmates and friends. I use it to look for internships and the latest public relations news.

And yet – could I go without social media for 24 hours? My answer is yes.

I would feel disconnected, and I would certainly feel “antsy” like the University of Maryland students. But at the end of the day, I would still have my cell phone to stay connected and I would still have the newspaper to stay informed.

Does this apply to everyone? Certainly not.

After a Google search for “Facebook Addiction,” the first result is a wikiHow “How to Defeat a Facebook Addiction” with eight steps to breaking the habit. Also, a “Facebook Addiction” Google search brings up 96.6 million hits, where as “Cigarette Addiction” only has 11 million hits and “Drug Addiction” has a measly 7 million hits.

So clearly, students think that they cannot go without social media. But how does this work in the classroom?

During my classes, I always see students on their smart phones using social media. They check Facebook statuses, Twitter updates and Flickr posts. Often, my professors notice – and they are not pleased.

The trick for educators is to learn how to integrate a student’s need for social media with the class itself in order to stay connected. Students must also learn how to balance their social media craving with lectures and classes.

Three tips for educators about how to integrate social media into the classroom:

  1. Create a class hashtag on Twitter. If the lecture was interesting, students want to talk about it. Twitter is the perfect environment to share thoughts and post relevant links. A class hashtag will stimulate discussion that might not have happened during the lecture.
  2. Create a class Facebook group. Members of my friend’s economic class uses a Facebook group to ask each other questions about the lecture and clarify homework problems. If students are already checking their Facebook 24/7, why not add an academic component?
  3. Say enough is enough. If students are constantly on their phones during the lecture, they are not giving their full attention. You need to be firm enough to refuse the use of laptops or phones – unless of course you have instructed them to respond live during your lecture to a class hashtag.

Three tips for students about how to balance social media and classes:

  1. Learn when to stop. If you are checking your Facebook more than studying for a math midterm, it is probably time to close your browser. Be aware of how much time you spend on social media sites.
  2. Put away the phone during class. It’s okay to leave your phone in your purse or backpack and simply take notes during a lecture. You can always check Twitter and Facebook after the lecture – I promise the world won’t end!
  3. If teachers create a class hashtag, use it! They want to hear your thoughts and provoke a class dialogue. And they may actually like you more!

Hopefully these tips will help educators and students balance social media with classes and the classroom. There is no reason to fear the social media and technological evolution – embrace it with class hashtags!

Welcome!

28 Apr

Hello!
And welcome to my blog!

My name is Angela and I am a public relations student at the University of Oregon. I created this blog for my public relations strategic writing class, and I intend to continue to update after the class ends.

This blog will (hopefully!) attempt to provide readers with current public relations news. I will focus on new social media techniques, ethical public relations dilemmas, international public relations campaigns, and any other public relations news that I think is interesting.

So the big question – what does “relate to this!” mean? My blog will focus on relating public relations to other industries and ideas. I will also attempt to get you to relate my ideas or public relations reporting.

The exclamation mark is not intended as a command. I am not forcing you to relate to my ideas about public relations. It is simply there to get people excited! I want everyone to become enthusiastic about public relations, whether involved in the public relations industry or not.

I am excited to write and update this blog and I hope you are excited to read it. I would love to stimulate discussion and come up with new ideas about public relations. Please read my comment policy if you have any questions about appropriate responses, as well as my about me if you would like to get to know me better.

Thanks for reading! And I can’t wait to get to know all of you.