Tag Archives: public relations

Overview of Social Media for PR

Fourteen weeks have come and gone in my Social Media for Pubic Relations course. I have one more week to go, as I’ll be presenting a social media plan for a magazine alongside my teammates, Kyle and Vince, this week. You know, putting everything we’ve learned all semester into one proposal and presentation. Considering Dr. Hether’s class was my first public relations and social media course, I’ve learned a lot for a decent PR foundation.

When I began graduate school this past fall, I only had a relative idea of what PR was. Prior to this class, I thought it was all about crisis management, but it’s so much more. PR is about continually overseeing and maintaining a good relationship between a business and its public. It is a meticulous job, as a PR practitioner must be careful of what is being said and how it is said. It is being ready to mediate relationships when things go awry, as well as to energize relationships when they go well. PR also overlaps with marketing, but instead of “shouting” at one’s publics, it involves two-way communication. With the rise in social media use, two-way communication is easier than ever (if done right) for PR practitioners.

One of the most useful things I can say I learned in this course was everything I read in the Groundswell. I’d recommend it to anyone or any business beginning to learn the nuts and bolts of utilizing social media from a public relations or marketing standpoint. I will forever have the concepts of the social technographics profile and POST ingrained in my head as well as the ideas of talking, listening, embracing, supporting, and energizing. My favorite is “energizing” because it makes PR so exciting. Furthermore, seeing these concepts applied onto case studies, papers, and projects we’ve done served as great hands-on work.

In addition to the Groundswell, I enjoyed the weekly themed lessons on a particular social media platform or how to leverage social media. For instance, my main social media has been Twitter and Facebook, along with some form of blogging. This class gave me a little taste of content curation (Pinterest, Storify), social photography (Flickr), location-based social media (Foursquare), and social media metrics/analytics (Klout, Tweetreach). That is, social media and tools I otherwise would have never tried or heard of. Seriously, I’ve never heard of Storify before this class. I don’t have much of an opinion on Storify, but at least I tried it.

Overall, it was a very beneficial and thought-provoking class and I can’t wait to dive deeper into public relations theory and application in my future courses.

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.

Social Photography

As a public relations practitioner, you may be expected to take photos for the client you work for. Professional or not, you’ll have to do it and now is a better time than later to do so. That’s why this week’s PR assignment is to learn social photography by taking at least 3-5 photos, taking into consideration the framing, the background, alignment, and overall composition. We also had to make a Flickr account and understand its functions.

Because I went home for the weekend, I was able to play around with my brother’s old Nikon D60. Please note that I have no expertise in photography, nor do I know how to use such a camera. Rather than use the lens the camera originally came with, my brother suggested I use this other lens which allows me to play around with the aperture, causing a more artsy effect by blurring.

What I’ve learned is that I’m terrible at framing. I took quite a lot of shots. It was a little frustrating as well that the camera kept auto-focusing on the wrong spot. I was told later how to manually do it though. I definitely don’t have the artistic vision, so I’ll stick with writing and running. Regardless, it was a fun experiment. I’m sure clients that need you to take pictures for them don’t expect something overly spectacular, but knowing how to do a simple and decent job is a plus.

In terms of Flickr, the site is really easy to use. Uploading is made simple by either dragging photos in or going directly to your folders and selecting the one you want. Flickr offers quick edit options as well through a partner company called Aviary. You don’t have to make an Aviary account. It’ll just open up within Flickr and you can do basic edits such as cropping and changing the orientation of the photo. I don’t know what companies can do with Flickr, but I imagine they can use it as a hosting site for their event photos or give a chronological history of their company through pictures.

Below are a few pictures I took while I was at home. You can find additional photos on my Flickr page.

Palm Tree

Palm tree in my backyard

Lemon

Lemon Tree

Diving Board

Diving board

Green Lantern vs. Trunks

Green Lantern vs. Trunks

Literature Books

Literature books

Medals

My running medals

Energizing!

In this week’s reading, we’re taught how to “energize” consumers in the groundswell. That is, learning how to locate enthusiastic consumers (or convert those unhappy consumers to happy ones) in order for them to pass on a company’s positive image through word of mouth. According to the Groundswell, creators and critics play a critical role. They are the ones who will be doing the talking, and at little cost for a company if done right.

I find energizing to be the most interesting strategy in utilizing the groundswell because it just makes sense. In today’s world of social media, people are always talking, whether it is on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, or reviews. There are opinions, both good and bad. Though it’s important to be aware of the bad press, therefore having to “listen” and “talk” to the groundswell to mediate a crisis, being aware of the good press is just as important. In this day of reblogging, retweeting, and sharing links, digital “word-of-mouth” methods are the key to spreading and uplifting a company’s image. What’s even better is that it takes little effort and is cost-efficient in the long run. Assuming a company is already utilizing the groundswell to talk and listen to consumers, energizing can be seen as an added bonus.

In the case of eBags, they energize their consumers by encouraging those who have purchased their products to write up a review. If there are any bad reviews or a consumer contacts eBags directly with complaints, eBags makes sure to compensate those consumers with new bags or fix their problems. With such great customer service, consumers may then reciprocate by writing an enthusiastic review on both the service and/or product. Other consumers will then read those reviews, decide to make a purchase, and perhaps may even write their own review. It’s an endless cycle of energizing.

Another way to energize according to the Groundswell, is participating in online communities of your brand’s enthusiasts. In the case of Adult Fans of Legos (AFOLs), they started their own community, with no ties to the actual company. Rather then Lego having to start its own community and try to get those enthusiasts to move on over, it worked with the self-made community and created a Lego Ambassador program. The most influential of the AFOLs would then be selected as Lego Ambassadors, who worked with Lego to improve and design new products. I found this way of energizing important because the Groundswell teaches companies not to start a community if one already exists. That would only be a waste of resources. Therefore a company should use the Social Technographics Profile to locate their consumers, analyze their situation, and move forward from there on how they approach their energizing.

Overall, energizing is a great idea and can even be done on a small scale. For example, I’ve mentioned that I follow a lot of writers on Twitter. They of course, tend to tweet their works, retweet reviews of their works, and initiate conversations with their fans, which include such people as bloggers, reviewers, and other writers. As a result, these fans will sometimes retweet these writers in excitement, spreading those tweets to their own friends. This then increases the chance of a potential new fan to discover the work of the writer and give it a try. It’s amazing that such a domino effect can happen with a simple tweet or review.

Listening Strategies

This week’s reading of the Groundswell focuses on how companies can utilize the groundswell for research. More specifically, it’s about listening to what consumers have to say and how that can impact the company both negatively and positively. The book offers two different strategies for listening: setting up a private community and brand monitoring.

Of the two, I feel the setup of private communities is the most useful. The book makes a great point that traditional marketing research tools, such as surveys and focus groups, don’t give any insight. They may be good for mapping trends and answering questions, but these tools do not tell companies anything about what consumers really think and how they feel about a particular product or company. For instance, surveys may tell a company how much of something consumers are buying, but not why they are buying it. It does not reveal underlying factors, which may sway consumers to choose one product over another.

By setting up a private community, a forum within your own company, it brings together people with a common interest or concern. A company member may initiate the forum, but the consumers are the ones that will talk amongst each other. How they talk and what they talk about will depend on the company/product, but in the end, it becomes a more natural focus group. Today, with many people using the Internet for information, it makes sense that they may stumble onto a forum and perhaps even participate. Whether they are spectators or critics, there will be chatter, which will then produce unforeseen revelations a company can work with.

And while a company has to seek out participants in a traditional focus group, I find there is a higher chance that those who join private communities come of their own volition and willfully participate. To me the private community, if executed successfully, holds a lot of potential for companies to benefit from, save money, be efficient, and connect to their publics.

The idea of brand monitoring is also a good tactic, but I don’t think it gives as much insight as private communities. I see brand monitoring as just an extension of survey and focus group techniques with the addition of analyzing emotional sentiment. It’s only great for seeing trends, picking up any PR crises and minimizing the effects, and understanding how a buzz about a product is shifting. Brand monitoring is a good start, but it can’t offer anything under the surface.

Regardless of which strategy is more useful and which one companies will use, listening in general makes way for both finding out the root of a problem and stimulating inspiration for marketing changes. That is a fact that cannot be ignored.

I now leave you with my final thought on this chapter. When all is said and done of listening and marketing, where does the public relations officer fall into this groundswell method? How do you decipher between the public relations officer (who wants to maintain mutually beneficial relations between client and their publics) and the marketing researcher (who wants to generate sales)? I hope to have this question answered over the course of the semester.