News That Means Business

June 10, 2014

Getting Started (or Re-Started): Your Social Media Primer

So you’re thinking of not just “getting into” social media, but of committing to it as a business communications tool? There are so many platforms to choose from – where do you start? Maybe you’ve already experimented with a few, maybe you’ve taken on everything that’s out there. And maybe the returns are not what you expected. Let’s step back for a moment and re-assess. First things first: Define your objective. What do you want to accomplish with social media? Do you want to raise brand awareness, enhance customer service, build your email list, drive traffic to your company’s website, build community? Maybe all of those or maybe a few?

What you want to do will determine the platforms you should choose. Unless you have a dedicated social media staffer or a specialized outside agency, choose a manageable number of platforms. The following “primer” will help guide you to the best ones for your needs and to the kinds of posts that “work” there.

Which Platforms Are Right for You?

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube all demand consistent and constant updating with valuable, share-worthy content. On the consistency front, that means posting regular updates, multiple times daily if possible, and responding quickly to comments and messages. Consider this time factor carefully when deciding how many platforms you want to use. Better to be great on one or two than mediocre on four or five. Here’s a look at the Big 5.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional online networking site, has more than 300 million members, including the decision-makers of many companies and industries. The site features both company and personal profile pages you can use to attract new clients, establish expertise, and build a valuable business network.

Deliverables:

  • Establish credibility as an industry expert
  • Connect with business prospects
  • Publicize company updates and industry news

Execution:

  • Build your network by continually finding and connecting with colleagues, business prospects, and industry leaders
  • Join industry Groups from your personal page and start/participate in discussions
  • Share company updates and industry news

Facebook

Companies large and small capitalize on Facebook – the most popular of the social networking sites – by communicating directly with their customers who flock there by the millions and share content they like with their friends and followers.

Deliverables:

  • Build awareness of and loyalty for your company and its brands
  • Showcase your company’s top-notch service through open dialogue
  • Publicize company news and industry happenings

Execution:

  • Respond quickly to customer inquiries and comments
  • Engage your audience with an open dialogue including questions and calls to action
  • Share company updates and industry news

Twitter

Twitter is a micro-blogging social platform known for its real-time information, connecting users to the latest stories, ideas and news.

Deliverables:

  • Build relationships with customers, prospects and the media
  • Get the word out on both company and industry happenings
  • Find “trending” news, ideas, products and events and leverage if possible

Execution:

  • Tweet frequently and consistently 140 (or fewer) characters
  • Retweet to build relationships
  • Use hashtags and keywords
  • Share company updates and industry news

Pinterest

Image-oriented and appealing to an audience (more than 70 million) dominated by affluent females in the 25-45 demographic, Pinterest is the perfect platform for any business producing products or services with eye-appeal. Fashion and beauty, home-related products, real estate, travel, personal services (catering, event planning), food and beverages are all naturals on Pinterest.

Deliverables:

  • Showcase for products with visual appeal
  • Strong driver of e-commerce traffic
  • Find trending products

Execution:

  • “Pin” (post) high-quality images
  • Freshen your page (called a Pinboard) with regular pins
  • Re-pin followers’ content to build relationships

YouTube

Don’t underestimate YouTube. True, it is the world’s biggest repository of funny pet videos, but it’s also the world’s second largest search engine (behind Google) with over 100 million views daily. Consider joining the top businesses and industry influencers who have YouTube channels.

Deliverables:

  • Build awareness of your company, its brands and its leadership
  • Establish credibility and expertise in your industry
  • Boost your search rankings via video content

Execution:

  • Post good-quality video
  • Use animation as well as live-action
  • Feature your management team as spokespersons
  • Create valuable content (how-to’s, tips, insights), NOT ads

Next steps? Explore each of the Big 5 above. Check out what businesses are there. Determine where you fit best. Weigh the time involved in managing each account. Once you have made your decision as to where you want to be, you’ll be ready to develop content, create a content calendar and launch an integrated online marketing campaign. We’ll have tips on how to do that here on our blog.

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August 25, 2011

After the Earthquake: A Multi-media Moment

By Caryl Bixon-Gordon
When the earthquake hit on Tuesday in Paramus, New Jersey, like many northeastern residents, I didn’t know what to do. I thought about having our staff stand in doorways as I remembered that advice from an earthquake I experienced in California. But since the shaking had stopped, I decided instead to find out if it was an earthquake, and we all agreed, the quickest source we could access was online. So we opened Twitter.

The first Tweet came about 1 minute after the quake with a tsunami warning for the Gowanus Canal. We were perplexed. I knew the Gowanus Expressway from traffic reports but didn’t know it also was a body of water. And a tsunami? So much for the credibility of Tweets.
Out of curiosity, I searched the Gowanus on Google and found http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gowanus_Canal.

We stayed on Twitter for a while on Tuesday, and we also went to online news . . . and we called our mothers, husbands, kids and friends to find out if others felt what we did. They did – in Tenafly, Fair Lawn and Manchester, New Jersey; the personal first-hand reports were definite proof that the event was bigger than our office. Then, we turned on News 12. We kept it on the rest of the day as we all were somewhat unnerved; we wanted local news, and getting back to work just didn’t feel like business as usual.

On Wednesday, I turned on the Weather Channel as I always do. The meteorologists were tracking Hurricane Irene and highlighted topics from Twitter as part of their new social partnership. (I found myself impatient as I wanted to see the track of the storm.)
Broadcast news also used Tweets and Facebook posts, bringing a combination of local, regional, national and international perspective to their reports.

As a public relations professional, I drew three conclusions from the experiences of the earthquake: First: Social media is a valuable immediate news source, although not the last word and not always credible. Second: Traditional media sources continue to embrace social media, testing new ways to integrate these evolving sources of opinion and fact into their medium. Third: multi-tasking is fun.
And so, my preference for news is multiple screens and sources, like Tuesday, when one staff member was on Twitter, another on Facebook, several on the phones and one watching TV. It was a true multi-media moment at Caryl Communications.

January 22, 2010

Will Newspapers Survive?

Will Newspapers Survive?

The medium is the message” . . . Marshall McLuhan

I was encouraged, professionally and personally, by the WSJ’s article on January 4, 2010 outlining positive signs for the print news industry (Ad Influx Brightens Hopes for Newspapers, Magazines).

The importance of the news media for public relations practioners is obvious, especially those that focus on media placements.  As a result, navigating the changing landscape of the print industry has presented new challenges as well as opportunities for PR firms.

During 2009, recessionary pressures and the proliferation of the Internet presented a real threat to the future of many publications. The loss of ad revenues and declining circulations made even the most trustworthy publications an endangered species as generations of online readers turned to the Internet as their first source of news.

In fact, on the news side, just an hour after the 7.0 Earthquake hit Haiti on January 12, 2010, most of the first news updates communicated to traditional news agencies and broadcast media seemed to arrive through Twitter.

As a result, the debate continues – the immediacy of broadcast is less threatened by new media,  but the question remains — will the print industry survive?

As a personal reaction, during recent vacation time, I enjoyed the pleasure rather than the pressure of reading the newspaper, waking slowly to coffee and the NYT:  Perhaps it was the artistically designed layouts in print — or the tactile experience of turning the pages, folding the paper, separating the sections and seeing the whole as well as the parts. Print offers a feeling and perspective that can’t be duplicated by a rigid computer serving as the medium for the Internet and for reading news. 

Therefore, I don’t believe the print industry will become extinct, even if it evolves into a niche medium for those who want to feel what they read. Because as McLuhan said, “the medium is the message,” and while a computer laptop may heat up your lap, it rarely warms the heart.

November 25, 2009

The Press Release Remains An Effective Communications Tool

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caryl Communications @ 8:42 pm
Tags: , , , ,

In contrast to many who claim the press release has outlived its value, we find this steadfast tool of PR professionals (www.searchenginewatch.com/3623806) continues to be a reliable means of delivering news for clients.  When I founded Caryl Communications (www.caryl.com) some 25 years ago, I had no agency experience – just PR background in banking and insurance at the corporate level. To succeed, many business consultants advised me to “court” reporters and writers with lunches to expand my contacts which was not my style. A certified teacher with a B.A. in English, I chose instead to deliver real news to targeted media in tightly written releases, adhering to journalistic news style and the classic pyramid structure www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=52&aid=38693. It worked. The firm’s media contacts grew from reliable writing and a paramount sense of accountability to media.

Today is not that different – and our client news which appears consistently in hundreds of printed articles and Internet impressions each month is testament to the news release. While not all results stem from releases alone, they remain the backbone of every ongoing PR campaign we launch, with some new-media modifications  to save reporters time and to achieve SEO as part of the process in our own abridged version of the social media template (www.shiftcomm.com/downloads/smprtemplate.pdf)

 So based on our experience, with a modified style for an ever-changing media landscape, I believe if the writing is clean; the release is targeted, and the news is real, the press release will remain a viable communications tool for PR firms even as the entire news industry transitions through today’s unique challenges.

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