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    1. 10 Ways PR Can Leverage LinkedIn

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      A few weeks ago I conducted an exclusive interview with two of LinkedIn’s leading tech ladies, Sarah Clatterbuck and Erica Lockheimer, alongside PR Manager Kenly Walker. We talked about everything from how to ensure your LinkedIn connections aren’t aware of your stalking habits, to how the company’s “women in tech” initiatives are setting an example for other public companies and laying the foundation for the next generation of STEM-focused gals.

      After the interview (because I may or may not be obsessed with all-things-PR) I asked them if they could kindly cull together a list of ways in which everyone from PR professionals to startup founders can leverage all of LinkedIn’s amazing features to enhance both internal and external communications strategies.

      Well, needless to say, they did better than cull. They immediately put me in touch with Senior Director of Corporate Communications, Catherine Fisher, so we could sit down and talk “PR shop.” Whether you’re a seasoned PR professional, an entrepreneur, or simply looking to raise your professional profile, Ms. Fisher’s insightful and useful tips will be a stellar way to round out your PR toolbox.

      LinkedIn can help you strengthen and amplify your internal and external communications strategies.

      How PR can use LinkedIn1. Humanize Your Brand with Your Employees, Senior Executives and Thought leaders: Whether they are in the corner office or in a cubicle right beside you, your best advocates are sitting right down the hall. Smart companies are tapping their employees to write and share content.

      Dan Roth, LinkedIn Executive Editor, recently shared, “The best of them are actively encouraging their employees to get their voice out there–by supporting their writing, suggesting content for them to comment on and share or making suggestions of what people might want to tackle and then curating and sharing the posts.”

      In fact, “on average, according to our data, the employees of a company have 10 times the social following that their company has.” A company that is doing it well is Dell.

      2. Company Page: Consume and share content on LinkedIn as a company. Does your company reign supreme in healthcare PR, or does your CEO often provide expert analysis surrounding the latest millennial marketing trends? Make sure your company has a LinkedIn Company Page and gain followers by sharing updates like employment branding and career opportunities, fun industry-related facts and quotes, and an inside look into your company’s corporate culture via executive and employee interviews. It enables your company to share news and insights with LinkedIn’s 364+ million members.

      3. Gain insights from top industry leaders known as “Influencers” on LinkedIn’s Pulse.

      Ever wonder how Arianna Huffington built her media empire or what Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite, foresees will be the next big thing in social media? In addition to members publishing content on LinkedIn, you can check out LinkedIn Influencers, around 500 of the top minds in business like Bill Gates to Richard Branson who write and share on topics like entrepreneurship and social good, for the latest news and insights affecting the business world today.

      4. Reinforce the value of authenticity, not promotion.

      Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente and LinkedIn Influencer Bernard J. Tyson’s examination of race relations in response to Ferguson reached half a million people on LinkedIn. Why? The authenticity and passion that resonated from Tyson’s post not only brought positive attention to him as an influential thought leader, but also drew positive recognition for his company just by virtue of the post.

      A robust LinkedIn profile is your ticket to a variety of professional opportunities like jobs, mentorships, new business ventures, and referrals.

      5. A picture is worth a thousand words. First impressions count in PR, so make sure your profile conveys who you are as a professional. In fact, profiles with a photo are 14 times more likely to be viewed than those without. Follow The LinkedIn Guide to the Perfect #WorkSelfie to capture the perfect lighting, angles, and environment to best illustrate you in your PR setting.

      6. Don’t bury the lede with a lackluster headline or lifeless summary. Your title is already listed in your experience section, so use your headline to differentiate yourself and grab the attention of others. Do you pride yourself on being an evangelist for health and wellness clients? Are you known for being a consummate connector? Your summary is the real estate to focus on career accomplishments, aspirations and to show a bit of flair. In fact, a summary of 40 words or more makes your profile more likely to turn up in searches.

      7. Focus on the quality of your connections not the quantity, and leverage search to reach out to new contacts (media). PR professionals come across so many people at work, but keep in mind your network is an extension of your professional brand. We advise only connecting with those you know and trust. Send a connection request with a brief, personalized note to the producer you worked with on a great broadcast segment, not the cameraman you briefly chatted with in the elevator.

      8. Show, don’t just tell who you are as a professional, and be your own best publicist on LinkedIn. Do what you do best, and use LinkedIn to publicize your professional brand to the world. Give a dynamic, visually appealing presentation of your professional story by uploading presentations, portfolios, and articles you’ve secured for clients to demonstrate your PR prowess. Broadcast to your network how the fruits of your labor culminated in an award-winning event or exclusive story in the Sunday business section by sharing an article link in a status update.

      9. Receive a stamp of approval through recommendations and endorsements.Ask for recommendations from clients, former co-workers and employers to make your profile go that extra mile. Do the legwork for them and provide the specific qualities or project examples you’d like them to highlight. For your skills section, select the ones you want to be known for and list them starting with the most important to you at the top. HINT: You can (and should) always reorder your skills, add new ones and delete others as your career goals change.

      10. Grow and engage your network. Actively engage with your network by posting status updates, joining and participating in Groups, and blogging on LinkedIn. Share links, articles, images, inspiring quotes, or anything else that may interest your connections via status updates. Did you learn compelling B2B marketing strategies at a recent conference you attended? Share a photo from the event in a status update and tag the event organizer.

      BONUS: You can also strengthen your PR reputation and grow your reach by blogging on LinkedIn. Publish long-form content to deeply explore topics that matter to you such as the state of the media industry or your best pitching tactics, and then monitor the comments to see your impact.

      As you can see, LinkedIn is no longer just about making connections with other business professionals or simply finding jobs. It has become a one-stop-shop for communicating thoughts, ideas, experience, and useful information in a conversation driven, two-way public relations world.

      A version of this article first appeared on Inc.com.
    2. Smart Speak: Ditch the business jargon to build trust

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      As a professional communicator and nearly obsessive people observer, one thing I often find myself doing at events is listening in on conversations between individuals and groups of people. Some may call this eavesdropping; I like to think of it as homework.

      While it may seem totally creepy, the rationale is simple: Through these types of observations, I gain knowledge and insights about the evolution of language, culture, business, and inadvertently modern-day communication.

      More specifically, I hear the jargon that emerges as we attempt to codify language within certain industries.

      Bryan E. Jones, VP of marketing North America and the Dell, makes the point that jargon is typically used for two reasons: “It’s either a shorthanded way to speak to colleagues or others in your industry (which is fine); or it’s a shield that says, ‘What I do is hard and complex and I want you to stay on your side of the line.'”

      Anthony Ray, aka Sir Mix-A-Lot, puts it a little more bluntly: “People think it makes them sound smarter.” He adds: “It’s not just the tech industry that’s guilty of this. It happens in every industry under the sun.”

      As a longtime entrepreneur (Appboy) and investor (T5 Capital), Mark Ghermezian has seen his fair share of jargon: “I understand why it exists, and there are definitely some environments where pulling out your ‘industry speak’ will work; but it’s all about context and knowing your audience.”

      In terms of the technology and business landscape, and in order to decode and rethink some of the most overused and overrated terms, I asked Jones, Ray, and Ghermezian to give me their take.

      ditch jargon speak smartHere are their thoughts on some of the most pervasive catch phrases, what they really mean, and suggestions on what we should we be saying instead.

      1. “Social selling.”

      This something I’ve been hearing rumblings of for the past year. “Social selling as opposed to unsocial selling is pretty ridiculous if you think about it,” says Jones. “As if we would ever say to a customer: ‘Hi, I don’t want to get to know you or your business, but I would like you to buy things from me. Is that OK?'”

      Let’s stick to simply “selling” coupled with a genuine interest in our respective buyers, shall we?

      2. “Disruption” and “paradigm.”

      These two are like the startup world’s Bobbsey Twins: completely different, each with their own adventures, but often finding themselves together at last. Notes Ray candidly: “It goes a little something like this: Company X will completely disrupt the industry and totally shift the current paradigm.”

      What to say instead?

      “How about just telling us how you’re ‘different,’ and what real-world problem you are trying to solve,” says Ray. “Using jargon is often a cover up for fluff and truly smart folks will see straight through it.”

      3. “Data-driven insights.”

      “In my opinion, there’s no reason to track data that’s not going to benefit the customer relationship,” remarks Jones. “We have a tendency to want to track every detail, but it’s our responsibility to take a step back and question the utility of it all.”

      In other words, we could think of this as “information that will enable us to make better decisions around the customer.” While “data-driven insights” sounds super smart, it doesn’t mean anything short of context and application.

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    3. Big Data and the Human Experience

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      Dell 1,5, 10 Big DataLast week, I had the pleasure of spending 14 hours talking, thinking, and theorizing about the future of Big Data at Dell’s 1-5-10 Big Data event at San Francisco’s Clift Hotel. The conversations included thoughts and insights from some of the world’s biggest Big Data experts.

      Did I mention Big Data?

      Needless to say, I went to bed with Big Data on my mind.

      The next morning, after a smooch from my pooch and grabbing a coffee to go, I jumped into an Uber with one Arman, two bags, and three changes of clothes…and headed back to my home in Marin.

      Here’s what happened during that drive:

      As Arman and I rode through the city toward the Golden Gate Bridge I decided to put my phone away and think about how my morning was being affected by Big Data.

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    4. Dell, OneSpot, and AirPR on the New PR/Marketing Frontier

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      This week we bring you a guest post from Dell’s managing editor, the incomparable Ms. Stephanie Losee. Ms. Losee has been leading the brand journalism/content marketing charge for quite some time, so it only seemed fitting that we turn her loose on two of our favorite CEOs. We hope you enjoy this illuminating exchange!

      Stephanie_Losee_HeadshotHow much longer are PR teams going to talk about “getting a seat at the table” of their organizations’ leadership? Steve Sachs, CEO of OneSpot, and Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer, CEO of AirPR are trying to put an end to that conversation. Both companies have launched platforms that attempt to give communications teams the numbers they need to prove their value once and for all.

      Stephanie Losee: What do your platforms do? How do they compare to each other?

      SFM headshotSharam Fouladgar-Mercer: AirPR is a technology platform to increase and measure PR performance. We currently have two products. Marketplace matches technology companies and innovative brands with the top PR professionals and small firms in the country. AirPR’s first-to-market measurement solution, Analyst, uses machine learning and proprietary technology to measure the ROI of PR. The product analyzes digital media activities from traffic to conversion to projected and/or actual revenue in addition to a variety of factors about your brand.

      steve sachs headshotSteve Sachs: OneSpot is a content advertising platform. Many brands have done a great job of creating incredibly valuable, beautiful content, but they often find it’s extraordinarily difficult to get it in front of the right people. We help brands build meaningful audiences for their owned and earned content to drive business results by promoting their content in a very unique way. Our specialty is not just distributing content, but serially placing multiple pieces of content in front of the same user, individually targeted to their demonstrated interests. We call this capability Content Sequencing, and it’s something that only we offer. We’re complementary to AirPR in that we’re focused more on content distribution and sequencing.

      SL: Which problem is your platform trying to solve?

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    5. Social Business: Is Your Company Ready to Commit?

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      Last Thursday, Sharam and I had the pleasure of participating in Dell’s Social Business Think Tank, a roundtable discussion that looked at the challenges and opportunities of social media’s evolution within enterprise organizations.

      #DellVenue Social Business Think TankCharlene Li, Altimeter Group’s CEO, moderated the panel, which included insightful contributions from a stellar panel of business leaders. A comprehensive list of participants can be found below and a full recording of the conversation can be found here (for those of you with 2 hours to kill).

      In case you’ve got other things to do, allow me to synthesize.The discussion centered on the maturation of social business and how brands and businesses need to think about the evolving social landscape.

      Social media is extending deeper into organizations and as strategies mature, there are molds to break and mindsets to shift. Social is revealing entirely new ways of doing business and that means shaking up the status quo.

      Are you ready to embrace all that it means to be truly social?

      Below are 3 challenges to think about and 3 (golden) opportunities to capitalize on as social business continues to blossom:

      #SocBiz Challenge 1: The Buyer Rules

      How, when, and why people buy has shifted dramatically. Consumers today are armed with more information than ever before. From search tools and reviews, to comparison pricing, buyers are in control of nearly the entire purchasing process leaving sales with very few tried a true tactics left in their arsenal.

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    6. Digital Marketing is the science. PR is the art.

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      A few weeks ago I had the elitist pleasure of joining a slew of folks much brighter and more accomplished than I at Dell’s #InspireHouse in the Hamptons.

      I was met at the door by a very sweet Ellen Kampinsky, Senior Editor at Newsweek/Daily Beast (if I had a specific “starstruck face” I would have been donning it at that moment); then about ten minutes later I ended up in a conversation with Jigar Shah – who I thought was just some dude with a great sense of humor who asked really smart questions. He’s the founder of SunEdison and is essentially the voice of the “Impact Economy.”

      Oh.

      But one of my favorite “unearthings of brilliance” came in the form of a conversation with Stephanie Losee (Managing Editor of Dell) as we bonded over the fact that every mosquito within a 100 mile radius must have sensed our “white girl skin” and flown in on their private jets for a mass feeding.

      As we sexily swatted at bugs, we got to talking about Dell’s strategic approach to marketing and how the current landscape is ripe for, if not encourages, brands to publish their own content and treat themselves as a newsroom of sorts.

      The result of this conversation was, of course, me asking her if she would be willing to do an interview for our blog.  She kindly agreed, and I can say with great affection that she hits the nail on the head in almost every way.

      Read. Enjoy. Think. And share. Then do. This is really really good stuff…

      Ok, first things first, how are your legs looking from those bites?

      Oh my God. I looked like a carrier for a new and highly contagious disease that infects its victims only below the knees – for like two weeks. My dermatologist gave me a cortisone cream so toxic I had to wash my hands before I could touch my face. What about you?

      I’m pretty sure I have permanent scars. We may have to start a support group…

      Anyway, down to biz. Let’s start here: what does your day-to-day look like at Dell?

      No two days are alike. I have a hard time imagining a job with a routine, since I’ve never had one. I’m based in San Francisco and work 100% remotely, traveling to Round Rock for events and periodic check-ins. In the course of a week I have a number of meetings with various teams who work on Dell’s content, and I juggle multiple projects that move the needle from where Dell is to where we want to go in terms of having an elegant, audience-driven content strategy.

      Right now I’m working on a pan-corporate, global owned-property audit, and I’m trying to figure out how to launch Tech Page One TV and Dell Books. I also blog, edit stories on our media channel Tech Page One, evaluate content and media partnerships, speak about content marketing, and try to purge jargon from our communications.

      For starters.

      Content marketing is obviously getting a lot of lip service in terms of how it fits under the “PR Umbrella.” Why is this suddenly the case in your opinion?

      I don’t think it’s getting nearly as much attention as I would like it to, actually. When journalism was disrupted, PR was disrupted. It’s definitional. Yet as with journalism, I think there is a certain amount of grieving for the past that people need to move through before they can confront the new reality and lead instead of react. I think content is the future of PR, and should be.

      PR has always owned a company’s media relationships; communications professionals have always served as quality control and connected the company to its audiences via articles in publications. PR agencies often have several staffers who were career journalists. If they can address the disintermediation of media by recognizing the shift from outbound marketing (advertising) to inbound marketing (blogs and other editorial content in social), they can increase the impact they have on the organization by showing them how to do it right.

      Worst pitch you’ve ever gotten?

      “I want to write for you. Would you look at my site and tell me what topics you’d like to see me cover?”

      Ugh, really?

      Yep. I know. Doesn’t seem possible.

      How does working for a brand differ from working for a news organization like Fortune?

      In practical terms, brands aren’t set up as news organizations. We don’t have the infrastructure, so we have to assemble it from a combination of internal and external resources. And the conversations are different. At Fortune, we would literally stand in the hallways and debate the finer points of crafting long-form journalism. At Dell, we sit in conference rooms and on calls and debate the finer points of inbound marketing and SEO.

      I’m thrilled I had those early conversations then so I can have these current conversations now with a big education in traditional publishing tucked into my back pocket. It makes me feel like I have the authority to help determine where my profession is going, and bring the audiences I used to reach via magazines to one of the companies that used to buy the advertising that paid my salary back at Time Inc.

      Thoughts or insights on the future of journalism? How is it changing?

      This is what I think about every day. Maybe every hour. Here’s my take: journalism was always a business. I know I’m not the only Time Inc.-trained writer who noticed it at the time. Journalism has moved from publications to corporations, who are speaking directly to their audiences rather than relying on traditional publications and TV networks to create the content that attracted audiences so that companies could advertise to them.

      That’s it. It’s not a mystery.

      I never liked the fact that we were limping along trying to pay for investigative reporting and political reporting using advertising dollars, so if this shift is pointing out the flaw in that system, I’m gratified. As long as companies are transparent and use their budgets to pay for the high-quality content that publications used to print, it can even be a journalist re-jobination program. Again, not for investigative pieces. I’m talking about “news you can use”.

      Best advice for those coming out of communications/PR programs and actively seeking employment?

      Hone your writing skills; take a(nother) class. When I ran a strategic writing consultancy, I conducted half-day trainings about better business writing for communications professionals. Often their managers would sign them up, and they’d feel a little insulted to find themselves sitting in my classroom.

      The journalism school grads who ended up in PR always raised their hands first to let me know they didn’t belong there. Those were also inevitably the people whose writing needed the most work. And also the people who gave me the biggest raves and said they had learned the most from the session.

      What excites you most about working for Dell?

      Dell is an incredible place for green-fielding. I think it’s partly a byproduct of being founder-led by an entrepreneur, and partly a byproduct of being a 29-year-old company. Dell is old enough to have incredible resources and talents, but it’s young enough not to have put in place so much process that new people are told that this is how we do things, period.

      If you have an idea for moving the company forward and you’ve got the goods, they’ll let you give it a go. And if you can prove your idea one step, one metric at a time, they’ll back up their support with budget. I’m continuously amazed.

      If a startup is building a blog, what are 3 things they need to understand in order to be effective?

      #1 – It’s not about you.

      #2 – It’s not about you.

      #3 – It’s not about you.

      Parting words of wisdom for PR pros?

      Think for your organization. Don’t wait for them to tell you how to help them create compelling content that will be shared, or how to tie the company’s events, activations, and messaging to great content.

      Digital Marketing is the science. You are the art. You can’t have great content without both. But if you don’t step up now, content will live entirely in Digital Marketing, and your moment to be more relevant to the organization than ever will have passed.

      That’s an amazing articulation of PR. Can I steal it?

      All the greats do.

      Stephanie LoseeAbout Stephanie Losee

      Stephanie Losee is the Managing Editor of Dell Global Communications. A former writer at Fortune and editor at PC Magazine, Stephanie co-wrote the nonfiction books You’ve Only Got Three Seconds and Office Mate, which was selected as Reuters’ Business Book of the Week and has appeared in publications ranging from The New York Times and Time to The Wall Street Journal and People. Her essays and articles have appeared in several anthologies as well as in O, the Oprah Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, Forbes, Salon.com, the Huffington Post and The San Francisco Chronicle, among others. She has appeared on CBS’ The Early Show, CNN Headline News, Fox Business News, and NPR, as well as on BBC Radio and other television programs and radio shows across the country and in Britain, Europe and Russia.

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      Follow her on Twitter: @slosee

      Check out Dell’s “Tech Page One” for insights on the evolving world of tech.