Monthly Archives: November, 2012

Did Somebody Say ‘Crisis Communication’?

“If a conversation takes place on the Web and you’re not there to hear or see it, did it really happen?” –Brian Solis

This week’s PR lesson is on crisis communication. In this day and age of social media, the way businesses must approach a crisis has changed a lot and it’s up to these businesses to adapt successfully. As the quote by Solis implies, one small comment made on the web—whether negative or not—will be heard. If lucky, the comment can be harmless, but why leave it up to chance for the comment to go unchecked? That’s the key point and idea of how businesses should now manage any crisis. Be proactive rather than reactive.

The traditional crisis management plan involved responding to a crisis once the crisis already surfaced. Thus, in comes the PR team to settle down the uproar and assess the situation over time. The new model on the other hand, takes much of the concepts provided in the Groundswell—listening, talking, supporting, embracing, energizing—which is all rooted in the need for two-way communication. Instead of reacting to a crisis, Solis teaches businesses to plan ahead by listening to what’s being said about a business’s brand on the web. It’s all about preventing problems from turning into a full blown one. Even on a low budget this can be done by simply Googling the business brand and seeing what’s being said. By continuously tracking a conversation online, businesses can know what’s going on, respond to a comment when needed, and initiate a conversation, keeping customers engaged and happy.

I really like this concept of being “proactive” over being “reactive”. Solis makes a great point and it can be easily done. To take it up a notch, there are even sites like Trackur to give businesses more accurate data on what’s going on, on the web.

As a future PR practitioner, I hope to apply such concepts. Though the question I have that stems from crisis management is how to deal with problems of ethics. If a client you work for has a crisis, a crisis in which this business intentionally initiated that you don’t approve of, what do you then? Do you manage its crisis against your beliefs because it’s your job? This is just a thought I have had.  Happy crisis managing!

For further reading, check out Brian Solis’s article on crisis communication for the web.

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Location-Based Social Media: Foursquare Reflection

For this week’s Comm 193 assignment, Dr. Hether made us create a Foursquare account and check-in to places for a few days. I was initially against it because 1) I like my privacy 2) I knew I wouldn’t be going anywhere of interest this weekend since I’m confined to my apartment doing endless assignments. Still she insisted, so here I am.

In setting up Foursquare I first made sure only my peers could see me. Once I felt at ease, I jumped right in. As an individual, I still can’t get pass the creepy stalking capabilities of the application. Upon starting up the app on my phone, I checked in at my apartment. Before you start, I know checking in from your home is a bad idea, but for the purpose of this assignment I had to check in somewhere, knowing I wasn’t really going anywhere else. Kyle, my only classmate that followed me within the hour of my friend request, also checked-in somewhere around the same time.

Now for those who don’t know, Foursquare has a map that shows your exact position and gives a list of nearby places. It also shows the profile picture of the friends you follow on the map IF they checked in pretty recently. Kyle’s photo was on the map fairly close to me, which makes sense since we were still lingering around campus. I have nothing against Kyle. He’s a good guy, but to be able to see him in my proximity was a bit too much. The whole concept seems to only invite trouble. Of course this is just my preference for privacy. I know social media is supposed to bring people closer, but I don’t want to be that close.

Yes, you can control who follows you, but I don’t need to know where my friends are 24/7 and vice-versa. Then there are those moments where an acquaintance adds you, but you don’t want to accept but have to or they’ll get mad. If you become guilt-ridden like I would because of social media courtesy/ethics, you’d accept. Now you have an acquaintance you don’t know too well tracking you. Peachy.

As an individual, I don’t see the appeal but I can see why businesses like restaurants would thrive off of it. By having people check-in, businesses can get an idea of what time of day people come in and who is coming in. By having a lot of check-ins, businesses can also become potential hotspots, receiving even more business. In addition, those using Foursquare can add a status or photo to their check-ins and write a tip about the business, reflecting why they are at a particular business. Therefore there’s a lot businesses can learn about their customers. But unlike Yelp, people can’t write long reviews giving a detailed reason why the business is a good place to go to. Yelp has a check-in option and offers promotions just like Foursquare, so I wonder how people decide which app to use. Personally, I find Yelp more useful for an individual, but perhaps not for a business.

Regardless, I don’t use either service much so I’m the worst demographic to target. Still, if location-based social media works, let it work!

Social Media Metrics: Reflections

Prior to last week’s class discussion of social media analytics and metrics, I had only a general idea of its value and what it was used for. The only time I heard of the term was in an online Adobe Dreamweaver course I took a year ago; I had to insert Google Analytics into a website I created. Being an online class, I never thoroughly understood what it was for except to observe the kind of traffic my website was receiving. My lesson was brief so I didn’t think much of it, although I did know Google Analytics was important and beneficial. I just didn’t understand why.

In terms of social media, I now know why. In class, Dr. Hether discussed the four components of social media metrics: exposure, engagement, influence, and action. I found these concepts interesting, especially when using a platform like Twitter.

Coincidently the day before Dr. Hether’s lesson, I had the idea of metrics in the back of my mind without even realizing it when I attempted to promote a tweet. For those who don’t know me that well, I’m a web editor for a new online literary magazine that showcases stories, essays, poetry, and art pieces that people have submitted and the magazine has selectively published. The newest issue was released last Monday and I wanted to reach as many people as I could. I tweeted the link once, keeping in mind the best hashtags to use. One of the essayists saw my link and retweeted me, adding how excited she was to have her essay included. I did the same to her tweet by adding my own commentary.

I then asked myself, how could I reach more people? Since I followed a lot of comic writers, who in turn have fans that are aspiring creative writers in general, I reached out to one of my favorite writers, Scott Snyder.

Scott is a rising star in the comic world, but aside from this, he’s a creative writing teacher at two colleges. Having followed him for a while, I know he’s passionate about helping writers break into the business. Considering he has 28.9K followers, I figured I could reach more people if he retweeted me. Therefore I tweeted him with this exact tweet: Can I get a RT to showcase some great writers and poets? Your aspiring writer fans can submit pieces too (link).

Hours later, he retweeted me. Though what made it greater was that he didn’t simply press the retweet button. He actually typed out “RT” and shortened my tweet so that his profile picture showed rather than mine. Thus, people reading his tweets from “lists” would still see his retweet. By putting his face on the tweet, it gave my tweet more authority. From there, three of his fans retweeted him.

Now how many people my tweet reached and influenced through Scott’s retweet, I can’t say, but it’s definitely interesting to think about. From this incident with Scott and from Dr. Hether’s lesson, I’m more excited than ever to use social media metrics and analytics. While I didn’t necessarily look at the metrics of my tweet with Scott using an actual service like Google Analytics or Klout, I told the story only to reflect on the concepts of metrics.

Comm 193: Live-Tweeting Assignment

Here is the link to my live-tweeting of the PRSSA National Conference in San Francisco that occurred last month. It’s pretty long since I tweeted the whole day, so prepare yourself. To anyone unfamiliar with PRSSA, it stands for Public Relations Student Society of America. Enjoy!

Content Curation

When it comes to content curation platforms, I don’t see them having much benefit for companies looking for a social media strategy at this point in time. Platforms such as Tumblr, Pinterest, Storify, and Delicious don’t yet compare to the opportunities that Facebook and Twitter can provide. Maybe it’s my lack of knowledge on content curation platforms, but they aren’t appealing to me as PR or marketing tools.

Content curation is all about collecting, rather than producing. Take Tumblr and Pinterest for example. Both platforms are known for its reblogging and re-pinning features (pictures, quotes, music, small blurbs). If an individual likes something they’ve read or seen, they collect it by reblogging it onto their Tumblr or Pinterest board. I can’t say too much for Pinterest since I don’t use its services, but the way I perceive it, there are thousands of Tumblrs out there that are just collections. In other words, there is nothing original or substantial. Of course, this negative outlook on Tumblr stems from me being a creator. I use my Tumblr as an actual blog for introspection and as a place for creativity. The majority of people I follow are those that provide original content, allowing me to learn from them, think about what has been said, and be inspired. I, and the people I follow, are exceptions.

Without a doubt, Tumblr and Pinterest works well for individuals. That is, both are good sources of entertainment (and maybe even inspiration) for users. However they aren’t as effective for companies. That’s not to say they are ineffective period, but they aren’t universally beneficial for every company. Content curation on these platforms is more about personal branding. Fashion, photography, publishing, and media companies work best with Tumblr and Pinterest since reblogging helps spread their brand to a wider audience. Nevertheless, Tumblr and Pinterest falls short in that dialogic communication is limited. In addition, they are audience specific. While Pinterest sways more toward women, Tumblr focuses on a younger crowd.

Platforms like Delicious and Storify are a different story. Unlike Tumblr and Pinterest, Delicious mainly reblogs news and articles. Though I do like the idea of content with more substance, I’m not sure how companies would use Delicious. Therefore, it’s not much different from Tumblr or Pinterest as another branding ploy. I have less to say about Storify. It is a good PR and marketing research tool for companies to see who’s tweeting about them and what kind of response they’re receiving. Still, I don’t see Storify lifting off any time soon or having other usages.

Overall, while content curation platforms are fun and entertaining for individuals (especially collectors), they aren’t too helpful for companies at large at the moment. Perhaps that will change later down the line, but I find they’re still steps behind Facebook and Twitter, which can be used to listen, talk, energize, support, and embrace.