The long and winding tweet…

I think my journey on Twitter has been similar to that of many folks. I began perplexed and frustrated until I gave it a second (or third or fourth) try and then bumped around a bit till it started to make sense. That happened around the time I was able to conjugate the verb ‘to tweet’ in public.

On Inside PR #2.23, Gini, Joe and I talk about Twitter, how we use it, which platforms we’re on and the value it brings to communications.

And, as much as some thrive on the ego-boost of new followers, balanced, of course, by the reality check of those who fall by the wayside, Twitter is  more than a quasi-religious experience. For me, it’s the people I subscribe to and the insights and information they share, the things I can pass along to others and how I’m able to keep up with certain topics and late-breaking news.

So how do I manage the ebb and flow?  Hootsuite is my base for Twitter and a few of the other social networks I’m on. I still use the main Twitter platform, which has improved of late.  But  it’s more like a starter home;  the one you soon outgrow and then move onto a 3,000 sf third-party app (with attached URL shortener and AC, no less). On my BB, I use  the Twitter App and sometimes UberTwitter.

Will Twitter replace my RSS?  I don’t think so. It’s more of an RSS add-on. The big difference is that RSS doesn’t pass by in an instant, while Twitter is like a watching a never-ending parade.

Have a listen to the podcast and let us know what you think.


Recent thoughts on social media

I’ve done a couple of interviews on social media in recent months: Barbara Nixon’s Public Relations Matters (skype video interview); and Andy Donovan’s Tweep in Profile (‘old-fashioned-new-fashioned’ print).

And I want to say a big thank you to both of you for thinking of me!  It’s much appreciated.

And… if you want to hear more (watch out for the plug), I hope you’ll check out Inside PR, the weekly podcast where Gini Dietrich, Joe Thornley and I talk about what’s happening in PR and social media.

I’m always interested to hear what you think.

Who are we?

I ask the question in my -30- segment on this week’s Inside PR (2.03). And it feels like PR people – and especially senior practitioners – ask it a lot.  You’d think we’re all existentialists or something.

But the fact is, our profession seems like it’s always searching for its raison d’etre.

It’s not as if we’re in our infancy. The Canadian Public Relations Society, for example, has been around for more than 60 years; yet we just came out with a formal definition of PR in 2008.

Let me ask you: how many times have you responded to the question, what do you do?, with: I work in PR; only to have people say, that’s a bit like advertising, right?

Well, no it really isn’t. And when you try to explain what you do, do you notice people get that smile of feigned interest as you expound on the subtleties of organizations reaching out to their publics? (Can you blame them?)

I think part of the reason people don’t get what we do is that we’ve put too much focus on tactics; the kids’ table where all the fun stuff happens.  We are superb publicists, amazing organizers, detail oriented to the max. I’ve heard folks say if you have to get something done, call a PR agency.

And sure it’s nice to be that reliable friend; the one you can count on; the one you know won’t mind riding in the backseat. Perhaps we need to step out of our comfort zone, think big picture as opposed to pretty picture; and focus on out of the box strategic thinking rather than carrying the box at an event.

It’s my hope that with social media and our profession’s understanding of communities, real relationship building and two-way communications; we can blog, socialize and share our real value honestly, openly and with a little pizzazz.

And maybe one day simply saying our profession’s name will be definition enough.

I’m interested to hear your feedback.

Note: From time to time I’ll be posting a slightly revised version of my -30- segment from Inside PR with Gini Dietrich and Joe Thornley.   In this episode, we also talk about privacy. Have a listen and let us know what you think.

Inside PR 2.01 – introducing your new hosts

This post was originally published on the Inside PR blog.

Well, the torch has been passed and Inside PR’s two creators, Terry Fallis and Dave Jones have decided to hang up their Zoom recorders (well for this podcast, anyway).  I think that for all the listeners of Inside PR (including me), this signaled the end of an era.

When Terry and Dave started in 2006, social media (and podcasting) was still quite new and many PR folks had yet to embrace it.  Their chemistry, wit, caustic humour and insights helped guide us along the way.

Fast forward. Episode 101 featured three new co-hosts, Julie Rusciolelli, Keith McArthur and me.

Fast forward again.  It’s episode 2.01 and now it’s time to introduce our new helmers:  Joe Thornley and Gini Dietrich. Welcome!

I’m sure many of you already know Joe, he’s the founder of Thornley Fallis, the agency that created and produces the podcast. Joe is one of Canada’s social media pioneers and leading practitioners. He blogs at ProPR.

Gini is the CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago PR and social media agency.  She’s a smart, outspoken strategist who blogs at Fight Against Destructive Spin blog (aka Spin Sucks) and never minces words.

We’re still looking at PR and social media from an agency perspective, and adding a tri-city POV.

What’s next?  A lot of that is up to you. I hope you’ll listen to Episode 2.01 to get a preview (and our new voices).

Apologies if it sounds a bit disjointed – we had to record in two tries due to a glitch with one of the tracks.

We’d love to hear your ideas and hope you’ll continue to listen, find value in our discussions and share your thoughts. Thank you again for taking part!

And now: on with the show…

Fixing what’s broken between journalism and PR

On Inside PR #173, my ‘-30-‘ comment, the short POV remarks we’re using to end the show, dealt with a few of the things we need to do to start fixing the pretty much broken relationship between journalism and PR.

This is something that must be done. And I think it’s up to our industry to take the lead and try improve the way we interact with each other; build trust, credibility and respect on both sides. I think the same applies to bloggers and other influencers, as well.

Part of the problem lies with the way our profession functions: trying to place stories, traditionally in MSM, for clients or organizations. We often feel under a lot of pressure to deliver results for which we have virtually no control.

Fine. That’s our reality and no one forced us into it. I’m proud to be a PR practitioner and this uncertainty is one of the things we just accept.

There are many media with whom I feel I have a good professional relationship. I define that as being able to approach a journalist/blogger with an idea they might be interested in, showing them why/how it works in a quick, efficient manner and having them say either say yes or no (or sometimes saving it for a future story).

However, I think that over the years we have made many repeated mis-steps that hurt the industry and our collective reputation.

And now, with social media and two-way conversations being embraced by both sides, this seems like a perfect time to make the change.

Here are 10 steps the PR profession can take right now:

  1. Always read a journalists or blogger’s past stories (and not just from last week). We need to do our research and know who’s covering or interested in which subjects.
  2. Know the difference between hard and soft news and position a story accordingly. It may seem big to us (or our client), but we have to step back and realize where our news fits into the grand scheme of things. I mean really fits.
  3. Be transparent and tell the truth.
  4. Stop writing in corporate-speak
  5. Strive to be helpful, not a pest.
  6. Understand that while our clients are a top priority for us, the reporter has many other priorities and we need to empathize more with them.
  7. Stop making media lists from databases. Go to the source: newspapers, broadcast outlets, blogs, online publications. See who’s writing about what. If we’re not passionate about media, why are we in PR?
  8. Never blast out an email to a large (or small) bcc list. We’ve all done that in the past. And some are still doing it. Really, this was a bad idea from the start. It turned us into broadcasters, something we’re not.
  9. Leave our PR egos at the door. It’s up to us to reach journalists. Stop griping if they don’t always call back when we want them to.
  10. Help journalists and bloggers understand the new FTC rules/principles so that we can continue to work together in a mutually beneficial way.

It sounds simple but we’ve got to make the first move.

What do you think?

Inside PR #170…recording

In the grand broadcast tradition of summer re-runs and new fall shows, we’re happy to say that Inside PR is back!

This season, the shows are going to be completely scripted… OK, maybe not. But they will be tighter with a main theme and some special features including 4Qs: four-questions for PR and social media luminaries; and ‘-30-‘, where Terry, Dave and I sound off on a topic of our choice for half a minute. (I promise I’m going to time my segment from now on.)

We’re also planning to take the show on the road for more live recordings.

And you can follow us on Twitter @Inside_PR.

I hope you’ll tune in, keep sending us your ideas (either as a comment or via Twitter) and continue to share your thoughts.

And thanks for listening.


My mesh…

I’ve had a chance to reflect on mesh 2009 and a few things struck me:

  • The keynotes really stood out, especially the one by Toronto’s Mayor David Miller. He was funny, articulate, self-effacing and honest. He responded to questions quickly and credibly; spoke in plain English. He was not your typical politician by any means. That was refreshing. And while he can never please everyone, he seems open to a dialogue and new ideas (demonstrated in part by his presence on Twitter ). It appears as if he has a long term technology-based vision for Toronto; imagining the city as a creative and business hub; one that offers residents easy access to useful information/data and a viable feedback mechanism with which to engage the city. I wish him luck. Also, whoever is responsible for his PowerPoint’s does a great job with graphics.

Mike Masnick, with his concrete poetry approach to slides and ‘button-down’ case studies, comes a close second (you can download his presentation and see for yourself).

  • I didn’t get as much out of the panels this time around. Yes, some of them had lively discussions, but for those of us who are actively involved in social media, many seemed a bit too tactically focused. Especially since we’re finding out about and sharing the latest trends, apps, etc. on Twitter or other web 2.0 platforms. I’d like to see more MSM and well-informed critics involved in the panels as a way of sparking some fresh thinking.
  • Social media, like its name says, is all about people – and the ones I met and had an opportunity to talk with were intelligent, passionate and open. I had too many great conversations to note them all here, but I want to call-out Bryan Person, who I enjoyed meeting in person. Have a listen to Bryan’s post-mesh podcast for a Canadian perspective (and thanks for including me).

And thank you to the mesh organizers for putting it all together again.