Who’s the Pimp?

18 02 2009

I have read a couple of posts recently by leading PR evangelists talking in disparaging terms about ‘pimping’ blogs in social networks.  It seems that it is unseemly to post too many links to your own scribblings in twitter and elsewhere.

I’m going to ‘fess up right now, I ‘tweet’ a link to pretty much every post I write on this blog and on PR Media Blog the agency blog for Staniforth\  (I also recommend blogs by my colleagues) and I think that it is a right and proper thing to do for a number of reasons.

  • One of the most important functions of the social web is to promote and share content. Links maketh the web.
  • If I don’t link to what I post I really shouldn’t expect others to do it for me.
  • It’s completely opt in.  If you don’t want to follow the link, you won’t and if it really offends you, you will vote with your feet and unfollow, delink or unbefriend.   Market forces are alive and well on the social web even if they seem to have deserted the global economy.
  • I can’t say everything I want to in 140 characters.
  • I want the people I follow to tell me when they’ve written something.  It’s more personal than an RSS feed (and I’m a bit slack when it comes to looking at my feed readers). 

This having been said there are some conventions to observe and room for a well mannered approach

  • Promote other people’s content as well as your own.
  • Maintain a healthy balance and add some thoughtful microblogs to your twitterstream.
  • Keep your friends and followers in mind whatever it is you say or link to.

There is a final argument in favour of the promoter.  This blog has a twitter presence (@SOCIALWEBPR).  It does nothing but pump out links to this blog….and it is about to overtake my personal twitter presence in terms of follower numbers, oh and it never follows it just follows back.   I can only conclude that  the simple  links are more compelling than my innumerable  assorted micro-ramblings.





WOM on SocNets, is it the Future?

17 02 2009

Last night I got involved in a heated debate about PR and search engine optimisation (SEO) .  Partly because the debate was on twitter and it was late into the evening (I think most of us were on UK time) it was fast moving, free flowing and it also involved many of the people who know most about the emerging roles of digital PR.

The discussion became confusing at times…talk about distributed conversations.  I think however that the main points can be summarised as follows, (and there may be I admit a little bias towards my own views here):

  • Public relations on line can play a significant role in SEO or raising the rank and therefore importance of sites in Google and other search engines
  • It is an inexact science, there are probably lots of ways to make this work but they are not publicly available or widely discusssed in the PR community
  • Some SEO agencies know this and are hiring PR people
  • Some PR people know this and are hiring SEO people
  • The PR industry has lost out so far to the SEO industry in selling skills in this area to major companies and brands
  • Planning and use of analytics will be key to how the PR industry develops in the field
  • WOM in SocNets is the future (or even the present).

I want to take issue with the last point not because I disagree but because it points up a problem.  I’ve been in PR a long time and have been involved with the social web in various ways for a good few years but the phrase threw me and I had to look it up. When I found that it meant Word of Mouth in Social Networks I felt like a fool…of course.  Let’s demystify and let’s not be too enthusiastic about the next big thing before it happens.

It is true that social reputation and peer to peer recomendation will assert themselves in the digital space but let’s not downgrade search just yet.  I went to Twestival in Manchester and met lots of mates ….it was packed with PR people and digital marketing people, so I conclude that at the moment we are talking to each other a lot of the time.

For the time being search and content are critical for the PR industry but let’s keep and eye on the growing importance of SocNets.

Many thanks to Tim Hoang, Stephen Davies, Stephen WaddingtonJed Hallam, Jaz Cummins, Lewis Webb, Melanie Seasons, Pete Goold, Ian Delaney and many more!

Stop post (that’s stop press for the blogging era): read Stephen Waddington’s take on the debate here and Jed Hallam’s note from the geekfest here.





Tweetdeck is my Weapon of Choice

15 02 2009

I have been pretty resolutely old skool about Twitter, choosing to use the web as my application of choice. That was up until today when I decided to check out Tweetdeck.  It’s a desktop application developed in the UK by Iain Dodsworth and launched in June 08.  It has also just raised almost $1/2 million in funding to allow Ian the time to develop it, so expect it to get better and better.  

Tweetdeck allows you to tackle the issue that every Twitter user encounters when they get to follow about fifty or more people (Ian reckons his problem kicked in at the thirty mark), the issue of too much noise.  It provides a set of columns that allow you to organise your twitter information streams.  You still have a column for everyone you follow but you can set up columns of selected followers or columns based around search terms that you select.  

There is also a Twitscoop word cloud that allows you to track ‘trending terms’. This Sunday morning I watched ‘hangover’ trending highly in the morning to be edged out by ‘church’ as the day progressed.  For us PR people it provides a neat adition to the tools we can use to track the twitterverse and the conversations that are taking place, which might particularly interest us.

There is also an audio alert for new tweets or, and this is my preference, a discreet notification window which is gently nudging me as I type this blog.

Oh, and the default colour scheme, which you could alter if you wished, is black and cool.





Intermediate Twitter Tips

12 02 2009

Recently I posted some tips for people new to twitter. Although twitter is incredibly simple in concept there are some hints and tricks that might be useful for people who are ready to tear up their twitter L-plates.

Desktop & mobile applications – For many of us using twitter in the web browser is all we need but there are lots of other ways to access and post.  The best way to find out more about these is to click on the linked name at the end of a post, where it says from Tweetdeck or Twhirl.  There are many ways to tweet.

Favorites – If you want to save a tweet, so that you can refer to it later hover over it and click the star icon to the right.  It will add it to your Favorites(sic) menu.

Other People’s Favorites – The Favorite menu on other people’s profiles is clickable so if someone interests you, you can see what interests them.

Twitter Search – Twitter has its own search engine.  You can’t reach it directly from the twitter site but you can by clicking here.

Finding Retweets and multiple @posts – If you are still wondering what RT means it is a retweet and it is a key way for twitter users to propagate interesting content. But how do you know if someone has retweeted your post?  Use Twitter Search and look for your own twitter identity.  This will also show you @replies that have been sent to you where your name does not come at the start of the entry (these are automatically added to your @Replies list). This means that you won’t miss @replies that have been sent to you and other twitter users.

Monitoring – You can take an RSS feed for any  Twitter Search.  That means you can monitor terms in twitter with any RSS reader.

Posting long links – When you add a link twitter automatically crunches the link into a TinyUrl, but to do this the link plus message must be less than 140 characters.  If the link is too long just open a Tinyurl page  and crunch it yourself.

Linking to a tweet – you can post a url in twitter (or anywhere else) that links to a single twitter message – to find it click on the time that the twitter message was posted.





The Marriage of Search and PR

9 02 2009

1 + 1 = 1 by Grrrega. “Google is not a search engine. Google is a reputation-management system, and that’s one of the most powerful reasons so many CEOs have become more transparent: Online, your rep is quantifiable, findable, and totally unavoidable. In other words, radical transparency is a double-edged sword, but once you know the new rules, you can use it to control your image in ways you never could before.”    These were the sage like words of Clive Thompson in a piece called the ‘The See-Through CEO’ in Wired. March 2007. He identified a major new challenge for the PR industry; the need to consider and deliver against the results of relevant search.

Many forms of PR related content are starting to rank highly in search.  Social networks have become important in terms of creating searchable and relevant content. Considering the increasing importance of public relations generated content we now need to deliver that content in a way that is itself optimised for search. The public relations industry needs to start adopting some of the techniques of search engine optimisation or SEO. For example the type of language that we use in our written output needs to use terms more likely to be used when our audiences are using search engines. We must avoid complex or convoluted terms and phrases that in the past have been favoured by some branding campaigns to more straightforward and descriptive terminology that will raise our search rankings.

The need for this and the positive results are becoming increasingly clear. Properly used editorial content can push web sites to the top of Google search rankings without spending a penny on traditional SEO.

 





Advice to Hacks from a Flack

6 02 2009

Ever wondered why PR people are sometimes called flacks?  No, me neither but come to think of it I’ve dodged some in my time as a PR person and too often from journalists.  

This post was inspired partly by a really interesting piece from the Guardian’s technology editor Charles Arthur and partly as a result of a dare from fellow PR person Megan Codling  (some of us can be quite wary of the press….seriously).  Charles’s post was the first time I have ever seen a  journalist acknowledge the fact that we are advocates for our clients and paymasters.  We are in thrall to the media too but the relationship should be mutually beneficial.  So, swallowing hard, here are a few tips for the fourth estate: 

  • Don’t let fly when you get a call from a PR person about a story you are not interested in.  Politely and firmly let them know.  They may well be lacking in experience and sometimes even judgement but they have summoned up the courage to call you and they’ve probably been polite.
  • When you get something you don’t want by e-mail (or DM) click delete and chill.  Don’t get annoyed because there is an attachment or the story isn’t up your street.  We strive to send you what you want but we don’t always get it right and often we are under pressure too. 
  • Resist the urge to take us down a peg or three.  Most PR people have a great deal of respect for who you are and what you do (and sometimes a well developed sense of inferiority).  It tends to evaporate when you turn up the heat.
  • Believe it or not we counsel clients on what they should release to the media.  We have to develop a keen news sense and we work hard to dissuade clients from issuing non-news
  • Work with us, we can be a very useful resource, we will endeavour to respond swifly with words,  images or a good interviewee.  We really don’t expect you to use what we give you verbatim.  We know the value of your endorsement and we strive for it but we don’t expect it.

Let me know what you think, whichever side of the fence that you sit on.  Let’s have a heated debate.





Celebrities, Stars and their New PR

5 02 2009

Five months ago I posted a piece called The New Twitterati on PR Media Blog.   It was inspired by my discovery that tennis player Andrew Murray @andy_murray  had started to talk to his fans via Twitter.  This was long before  Stephen Fry @stephenfry  or Johnny-come-lately, Jonathan Ross @wossy had started to eulogise about the microblog fad.  It is clear now that Andy was blazing a trail.  I suggested at the time that we should “stand by for a rush to join the new ‘Twitterati’.  It won’t be long before we have a flood of singers, sporting heroes and stars of the screen, sharing stuff”.   That rush is turning into a deluge.   Stephen Fry is the third most popular person on Twitter and Hollywood couple Demi Moore @mrskutcher  and Ashton Jutcher @aplusk signed up a couple of weeks ago.   Tour de France hero Lance Arrmstrong @lancearmstrong is just outside the top ten most popular and Britney’s entourage fill out the 140 charaters for her…although she claims to do a few herself.    Even legendary crooner and definite non Gen-Y-er Neil Diamond @NeilDiamond is hanging out.

Twitter only really works for those that use it themselves and engage directly.  It works best if it is used as a conversation channel in the way that Fry uses it not simply as a broadcast tool (take note DJ Chris Moyles). 

What is fascinating is that it provides a real route for stars to talk to their fans – direct.  No PR people or journalists in between.  They can do it right there with no advice.   Some will do it brilliantly and use the medium to boost their profile.  Others?  Well…there may be a few egg shells to be delicately traversed and even the odd banana skin.   I can’t wait.








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