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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. Nice Girl, Author, Entrepreneur and #PRStudChat Co-founder Gets Lippy

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      In PR, an industry largely driven by the female constituency, there are two distinct camps: the mean girls and the nice girls. The “PR mean girl” is not a stereotype – it’s a living, breathing, actual creature. And it totally sucks.

      When I shifted into the tech side of PR, I needed to know who my advocates would be…because they were (and are) the ones who would support us in moving the proverbial PR needle.

      Before we launched our second product, I asked my former colleague, Kelly Byrd, to give me her Top 10 list of PR nice girls – because our first product had surfaced the mean girls, and I wanted to arm myself with “reinforcements”.

      At the top of her list?

      Deirdre Breckenridge presentingA very talented, beautiful, kind, and extremely intelligent gal by the name of Deidre Breakenridge. In addition to being the CEO of Pure Performance Communications, she co-founded #PRStudChat and is the author of five (YES FIVE!) PR and social media focused books.

      If it’s not obvious by the following interview I conducted with her a few weeks ago, I have a serious serious serious #nicegirlcrush on this woman.

      And I imagine you will too…

      Rebekah Iliff: You have been at the forefront during the convergence of marketing and technology. What are the 3 biggest things in your opinion that have changed over the last decade due to this fusion? 

      Deirdre Breakenridge: We’ve experienced so many changes over the past 10 years, but here are the top three that come to mind as a turning point in our communications:

      (more…)

    3. 5 tips from Randi Zuckerberg on striking a tech-life balance

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      Randi Zuckerberg’s ascension to the “voice of reason” in our fast-paced, digitally-enhanced, technology-connected age couldn’t have come at a better time.

      In her recently launched book Dot Complicated, Randi addresses some of the most pressing issues of our time, how to put up boundaries around technology, and essentially build a life that is tech-interdependent.

      Bonus about Randi: She’s about as sweet as they come and totally sincere in her mission to enforce positive tech role modeling. However, she does have a lil’ sass. Love.

      My favorite quote ever came during Dell World 2013 a few weeks ago while she was doing an interview with Moira Forbes.

      When asked how she responded to Mark when he first wanted to bring her into “The Facebook” fold:

      “Why would I want to work for your stupid, little startup?”

      Ah-hem. Well?

      From Facebook to the frontlines of untangling our wired lives, here are some seriously useful insights and thoughts from Ms. Zuckerberg…

      Rebekah Iliff: If the core of a person’s life is a narrative, should this be true for businesses and how would an industry like PR support this?

      Randi Zuckerberg: In this day and age, a business absolutely needs a narrative to succeed. As social media and an online presence becomes an increasingly integral part of the marketing plan for any business, companies have to fine-tune their persona and voice to fit the story they are promoting for their business. The businesses that are transparent and authentic are the ones that will draw (and keep) the most loyal consumers. An important role for PR is to encourage clients to really be thoughtful about how they present their brand to the world via social media and general online presence.

      RI: You talk about a couple of “crisis comms” situations, both personal and professional, in your book. Are situations like these something you should tackle alone or is it important to have support? (*cough cough..PR)

      RZ: Today, the lines are blurred between personal and professional crisis comms. Thanks to social media, every employee (from intern to executive) reflects and adds to the reputation of their firm. That’s why we need to always be careful of what we post online, even to our personal networks. For personal crises, it’s fine to handle them on your own, or with the advice of friends and family. The moment it implicates your company, however, it’s a good idea to have the support of a PR team. Also, make sure to train your employees to proactively communicate with customers, instead of waiting to act reactively after a crisis occurs. (more…)

    4. Maris gets an apology, P.S. social media shares don’t always equal sales

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      In light of the holiday last week, we decided to forego sending out an email, which would have likely clogged your overflowing Inbox.

      So, post Labor Day, and much to your non-white-wearing delight, we bring you a Double Feature blog post. In said post, we will (at my expense) explore feeling like a total A-hole and eating a good ol’ fashioned slice of humble pie at the same time.

      Ready?

      For starters, before the holiday I wrote a post about press releases and distribution services, debunking myths and attempting to uncover truths at the same time.

      A few days later, I received an email from Maris, the woman I semi-doooshingly called out in the article. In my defense (if it is indeed defensible?), I searched high and low for her in my contacts and old emails just to make sure I didn’t know her from anywhere-land before I included her in the post. As many of you do, I receive about 192410482104 spam-like emails a week that have no context, that I haven’t subscribed to, and that have little or no relevance to what I do in my life. Period.

      P.S. If you’re the dude who keeps sending me pitches about camping equipment I implore you to stop. I haven’t camped since 1992 and the odds of that happening anytime soon are slimmer than an emaciated model during fashion week. Unless, one word: Glamping.

      Back to Maris…she was nowhere to be found.

      Here is how she started the email:

      Rebekah, 

      I am very surprised that you chose to use my release as an example of “what not to do with a press release” in your post: http://blog.airpr.com/fallacy-press-release/.

      The reason that I sent this specific release to you is because we met at a press event (the function at Rebar introducing Entrepreneur Eve). Following that party, we had a phone conversation in January and had said we’d keep each other posted on our client news. That’s what I was doing when I sent the release your way.

      [Gulp]

      The email goes on, very sweetly, to ask if she perhaps misunderstood our conversation. And as she went on I felt worse and worse save this one redeeming fact: how on earth am I expected to remember everyone unless there is context to an email – especially if they aren’t in my contacts? Which I do a very good job of maintaining in my opinion.

      Ugh.

      The featured lesson here?

      Assume that anyone you send an email to is likely filtering a million pieces of information a day. Unless they are your mother, brother, father, lover, best friend, or boss, they will need context. Save them from their own God forsaken demise by giving them a teensy weensy hint as to why you are sending them the email.

      Maris, I am truly sorry. And ya’ll…do be a Maris because she was classy and kind to my snark.

      Moving right along…

      On August 30, I wrote this article on Entrepreneur.com. It has, to date, had over 3k social media shares. “Semi-viral” if you will. For those of you adept at content marketing, besides the fact that I enjoy writing and one’s ego certainly gets a boost from seeing your byline in on a notable publication’s website, the whole point of these exercises is to build brand awareness – in this case that brand happens to be AirPR.

      The personal side effects of these posts in truth: they generally cause MORE work for me. I am added to “camping dude’s” press list (among many others) and have to filter more inane requests than I thought humanly possible. It’s a double-edged sword…one which I’m happy to sheath and carry. I’m just sayin’, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.

      Look at this face. That's a straight shooter right there.

      Look at this face. That’s a straight shooter right there.

      In an attempt to understand the assumptive value of all this social media “amplification,” I turned to my trusted data scientist, Patrick, to get the down and dirty facts.

      Here’s what he said…no frills…no “I’m going to try to make Rebekah feel good”…just literally and directly:

      1. I haven’t found anything particularly out of the ordinary for that article.
      2. It does convert at 11.11% instead of the site average of 8.8%.
      3. It’s 100% new visitors.
      4. The bounce rate is 23.33% instead of 38%.
      5. But the visit length is also shorter than normal at 2:35 versus 4:15.
      6. And the average pages viewed are 2.4 instead of 3.4.
      7. Also our traffic hasn’t seen any large spikes.
      8. There could be social referrals that we’re missing, but there are only a few visitors a day from social media.
      9. So it’s not like, say, the TechCrunch articles about us.

      What?! I’m not as influential as @ripemp? Psch.

      After I’d recovered from yet another mild ego bruising, I asked for his thoughts on indirect traffic from the article, as well as his overall value assessment:

      “One of the ways we identify indirect visits is we create a statistical model from the normal traffic to separate the normal indirect traffic from article-driven indirect traffic.”

      Oh. I mean…obviously that’s what we do!

      “In this case, there doesn’t seem to be much article-driven indirect traffic for the last few days based on our models. 🙁 ”

      [Yes, he included that specific emoticon]

      “At this point, I would say that the value in these types of articles is not in visitors to a company’s site, it’s more in brand awareness or SEO.”

      Thank you Patrick.

      The featured lesson here?

      While content marketing is arguably an important part of the PR function these days, and while having your spokesperson or CEO pen thoughtful, insightful, and oft-earth-shattering content may be a boon for brand equity, it must be recognized as such.

      The good news:

      Bruised ego notwithstanding, there is no PR silver bullet, or one “right” thing. Rather, it’s all of the various, strategic activities working in tandem – on a continuum – that truly drive customers toward that “path to purchase.”

      We welcome your thoughts, so please tweet us here @AirPR. Just make sure you give us some context (help me out!) and make the content good (help yourself out!).

    5. Journalists like to tweet and they like to drink

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      As a continuation of last week’s post, where PR renegade Shaun Saunders interviewed Murray Newlands, and leading up to next week’s PR Summit in San Francisco, I present an entertaining conversation with Greg Galant, CEO of Sawhorse Media (creator of Muck Rack and the Shorty Awards).

      Greg is one of those guys we can all learn a lot from; in terms of just normal human being-ness…he’s pleasant and unassuming but not afraid to ruffle feathers. It’s a fine balance, but he does it with extreme adeptness. In this interview he talks about the future of PR, what journalists like, and that little thing called Twitter. P.S. He will be speaking at PR Summit next week!

      Rebekah Iliff: What was the impetus behind Muck Rack, and how’s it going?

      Greg Galant: When we created the Shorty Awards in late 2008, we were surprised by how many journalists were using Twitter to do their jobs. We had inbound press requests from The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BBC and many more. At the ceremony our pressroom was filled with over 60 journalists. We ran out of drinks for them.

      So we learned journalists like to tweet and they like to drink. We thought we could help with the former desire. In April 2009 we [Sawhorse Media] launched Muck Rack as the first place to find journalists on social media. After we saw its popularity, we re-launched in late 2011 as a full-fledged social network for journalists and introduced Muck Rack Pro to help companies get more press.

      We’ve got over 15,000 journalists on Muck Rack. Most of the top PR firms and many Fortune 500 companies are using Muck Rack Pro, in addition are many “growth stage” companies including Hubspot and Hootsuite. We also have many tiny startups using it to scale their PR efforts.

      RI: How has the PR role changed since the days of Steve Jobs (i.e. needing to know 4-5 journalists to get your story out)?

      GG: Three big things have changed in media:

      #1 – There are many more outlets that matter.

      #2 – Journalists change jobs and beats more frequently.

      #3 – You can find and build relationships with journalists using social media.

      The first two make life harder for PR pros, but the third is a huge opportunity most people in PR are still not taking advantage of, in my opinion.

      RI: Talk about the concept of “Slow PR” – what does it mean, and why does it deserve lip service?

      GG: Much of the PR industry has devolved into writing stale press releases and emailing it en masse (i.e. spamming) to hundreds of journalists. Emailing lots of journalists the same thing seemingly doesn’t have a cost. But it’s not very effective. And in the long term there’s a big cost to your reputation.

      Slow PR is about using social media to heavily research which journalist you should connect with, building relationships and sending focused pitches – over time. (more…)

    6. PR’s about-face and the future of content marketing

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      Ahhh, post-holiday brain mush. ‘Tis going to be a fun week.

      The past few weeks I’ve been torturing enlightening you with media relations best practices. Or shall we say “arguably” best practices, because they are and always will be up for argument. That is, until PR becomes the equivalent of performing a root canal. There’s only one right thing to do: get that sucker out.

      If you missed these media relations posts, you can go here to learn about embargoes, here to find out the Top 5 PR don’ts, and here for tips on how to pitch the press.

      This week, we turn our attention to yet another important aspect of the PR machine: content marketing. A recent trend has PR pros taking responsibility for creating and pushing out thoughtful, insightful, engaging content on behalf of their clients. In the [very near] future, content marketing is likely to surpass…wait for it….traditional media relations.

      You should be excited about this!

      Thanks to our friends at PR Daily, we’re going to give your brain a rest – which means you don’t have to read and process a thousand words. You can just look at this pretty infographic below. If you want to read the associated article, head on over to PR Daily.
      State of Content Marketing