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May 1

Written by: News Account
5/1/2011 9:21 AM

The Independent Public Relations Alliance's April luncheon presented a new, interactive format to provide attendees with the opportunity to participate in four roundtables led by experts to discuss the latest issues in digital media. The panelists were:

Sherie Winston, founder/president, Social Medians;
Colby Cox, account executive, Marketwire;
Lynn Anne Miller, CEO, 4GreenPs; and,
Michael Toner, senior account executive and new media specialist, Business Wire.

Winston started the program with a brief overview of why independent PR practitioners need to use digital media for clients and to promote their own businesses. She also hosted a roundtable discussion, “Social Media Measurement,” and provided some sage advice.

When it comes to measuring social media effectiveness, according to Winston, “There is not ‘one size fits all’ approach.” Instead, she counseled attendees to define their own success metrics using the following steps:

-Define your goals
-Define your audience
-Determine the overall cost
-Determine benchmarks
-Define what success “looks like”
-Select measurement tools
-Analyze data and adjust

Winston noted that, in most cases, social media is part of an overall effort to drive behavior – support of a cause or candidate, purchase of a product or service, etc. Since social media is based on creating and nurturing relationships, organizations should not rely on number of followers or “likes” to determine the success of their efforts.

According to Winston, the best social media campaigns are the ones that engage the public and convert passive followers into engaged ambassadors. She outlined the five levels of social media engagement as:

-Lurker: Is aware of your social media presence, follows you on Facebook or Twitter;
-Casual: Subscribes to your blog via an RSS feed;
-Active: Re-tweets your information, comments on your blog;
-Committed: Visits your site or blog on a regular basis, recommends others follow you; and,
-Loyalist: Donates to your cause, purchases your product, becomes an advocate for your cause or brand

Organizations that recognize these levels of engagement, and find ways to move people through the levels of engagement, reap great benefits from their social media efforts.

Cox addressed the topic of “Creating an Effective Online Pressroom” in his roundtable discussion.

The goal for an online newsroom is to further engage the media with your brand, according to Cox. He advised participants to take the following steps to create a fully functioning virtual press room.

-Structure the newsroom for mobile technology;
-Create press releases in different formats: pdf, word, text;
-Create a multi-media library to include video, podcasts, webcasts, etc.;
-Provide links to your Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube accounts;
-Update your newsroom frequently with new content;
-Showcase your corporate responsibility by posting charitable giving, awards, and sponsorships; and,
-Make content easy to access because “People don’t want to peel an onion.”

Miller talked about “Writing a Great Blog” in another roundtable discussion.

“Blog about what you’re passionate about,” said Miller. “What is your dream client? Write about your passion and the clients will come.” She has developed much of her business success through blogging and offers this advice:

-Communicate about why you’re blogging about a certain topic; if you share your journey, then this builds your following and authority;
-Comment on other people’s blogs;
-Build traffic using popular search terms in headlines and tags and by getting links to your content;
-Use an analytics tool, such as Google analytics, to find out how long people are reading your blog;
-Write blogs frequently to attract followers; start by writing three per week and determine when to dial back;
-Determine whether to post your email address on the blog; contact information could provide you with better access to experts and product samples, however, it reduces your privacy; and,
-There are no rules and there is no right or wrong way to blog.

Toner hosted a roundtable discussion on “Adapting Press Releases to Social Media” and provided an excellent overview and hot tips on how to write press releases that leverage social media. He referenced Todd Defren who introduced a social media press release template that is used by many in the industry. The traditional press release is static and a container of information. The new press release is broken up into sections, such as core news facts, presented in a bulleted format. We now need to think about the press release differently if we want to leverage social media as a means for disseminating information beyond the traditional outlets.

He offered several useful suggestions such as when writing social media press releases it is important to include tags, i.e., key words from your website, which makes it more search friendly. Also, use hyperlinks in your press release, not just to your homepage, but also deep links to subpages, so the press can easily find more detailed information. Lastly, think of a social media press release as an extension of your website. Toner provided a handout with additional points of interest.

The next IPRA monthly luncheon is “Leveraging Your Preferred Communication Style for Greater Professional Success.” It is scheduled for Thursday, May 5, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Embassy Suites in Tysons Corner, 8517 Leesburg Pike, Vienna, VA, 22182. For more information and to register, check IPRA’s website under Events and Updates.

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