You can’t own an entire communications channel, just ask the Murdoch’s

According to the latest PR GAP study, PR “owns” social media. More than a quarter of companies they surveyed stated that they gave 80 per cent or more of the budgetary control of social media to PR. In addition to control of the budget, almost a quarter said that PR is also the strategic lead when it comes to social media. But, does PR really own social media? Can you possibly own an entire communications channel? The answer is no.

Does advertising own TV? Media buyers outdoor display? Do the spin doctors and publicists get the red tops? Again, no….PR doesn’t own social media, we just get it more than the other disciplines. Ask any PR person what the key to their success is and they’ll tell you – developing and maintaining relationships with a diverse range of media, making sure that the conversations they’re having with each one is both meaningful and rewarding. It’s this that put’s PR in the driving seat when it comes to social media, but it doesn’t give us ownership of it.

This space is going to require a truly integrated approach to make it work, having a conversation is fine, but what are you going to talk about, what do you want to share? Ultimately, the question is this – what’s your brand story? This isn’t a PR-only job, it’s a wider job that requires brains from our buddies in advertising, branding, media buying, research. Don’t agree? Put it this way, if PR owned TV, there wouldn’t be any TV.

So, I go back to my initial point – you can’t own an entire communications channel. But there is something that you can own in social media – you brand story. But like any good story, it’s got a lot of different characters involved, many twists and turns and ultimately, that story means something different to everyone that reads it….you get me?

Is IR the next big social media milestone for PR?

I came across an interesting press release from Furlong PR suggesting that FTSE 100 companies are missing on the investor relations potential of social media. The press release mainly cites some research that Furlong has conducted which looked at a number of FSTE 100 corporate websites. Unsurprisingly, most of them lack any kind of social media elements, even the basics such as RSS feeds. In the release, they also make reference to a Canadian company that began integrating social media into their investor relations and saw traffic to their site increase from 100 to 4000 per week, and also saw the share price double from $0.06 to $0.12.

With most experts assigning social media “ownership” to PR, is IR the next big milestone for the PR industry? In my own experience over the past four years working with social media, it was initially quite difficult to convince traditional PR teams to invest in social media and I envisage the same journey unfolding with IR teams. So, what lessons can we learn from our social media journey with traditional PR teams? It surely has to be simplifying the entire process:

  • Clearly outline the objectives to be achieved – drive further traffic to IR information, increase conversation around this information. Ultimately, help increase the reputation of the company and therefore help the share price
  • Clearly identify the audience – understand the stakeholders that are important to IR, outline the different groups within these and rank their importance
  • Identify relevant channels – where do we best focus our efforts? Looking at he audiences, where do they spend their time and where are we most likely to be able to deliver our information and meet our objectives
  • Measurement – we know what the objectives are, who the audience is and the channels we’re going to use, so therefore we should know what we’ll measure to judge success

Sounds simple and straight forward doesn’t it? But what’s not addressed here is the fear factor that we all faced with those initial projects with clients. This is something that we’ll need to address with more authority and vigor with this audience. So, how do we do it? Do we employ the tried and tested methods of crisis communications, do we wheel out the Crisis comms chap? Nope, that’ll just increase the fear factor by 10! So what do you do? You follow a method that’s not readily employed in PR, but one that encourages companies of all sizes invest anything from a few thousand dollars to billons of dollars – you assess the risk, independently if you can.

Risk assessment is something that FTSE 100 companies undertake in most major projects, either externally or internally depending on the size and scope of the projects. Why can’t PR do the same when dealing with IR in social media? Most PR firms have IR, corporate and even legal teams that could help produce such an assessment, so it seems a logical step to take and one that FSTE 100 companies are very comfortable with.

SEO for PRs

There was a day, a long, long time ago when the existence of your average PR person was much more simpler, but it was also a lot more boring… Today PR people have a lot on their plate and are often required to understand several other areas of expertise in order to be good at one they do. One of these is SEO.

Now, I’m not saying that we all need to to go out become SEO experts overnight, but getting a good understanding of it will help you and your clients.

So, here are a few simple tips for PRs venturing into the SEO space

  • Go and talk to the SEO team for your client and find out what they are doing, what they are focusing on and get their Keyword glossary from them
  • Review the areas that your working on and select the most relevant keywords from the keyword glossary that the SEO team shared with you – telling them which words you’ve selected
  • Integrate these words in to as much of your online communications as possible – headers and body text for SMPRs, descriptions and tags for other content like video and pictures
  • Incorporate your keywords throughout any social media profiles you might have
  • Be sure to include your client’s name along with a link through to further information along side your keywords in all activity
  • When spokespeople are commenting on blogs posts, forums or community sites make sure you include relevant keywords along with the company name and links through to further information 

The important thing here is to remember that we’re communications experts and when we use SEO, it must not overtake the conversations, so don’t try and shoe-horn keywords in where they don’t fit. Remember to provide links through to further information from your client, this will help with tracking and measurement.

There’s loads more to this debate and these are just a few thought starters, if you’ve got more, add them below.

It’s a woman’s world

This did the rounds earlier in the week, but I wanted to add my thoughts to the debate as well. New figures out from Social Media God, Brain Solis show that women are dominating the social web, with the exception of Linkedin, YouTube, deviantART, Delicious and Digg.

From my own experience, I’d say that this is spot on. Take Facebook for example, from my experience not only do there tend to be more women engaging with brands through sponsored pages, they are also the most active fans on the page and contribute much more to the conversation.

What could this mean for brands? I think it represents an opportunity to further diversify the way they talk to their audiences, providing the opportunity for near 360 degree engagement, but more importantly a continuous and collaborative conversation. The result – a carefully crafted brand built by people that care the most. 

chicksrule_550

Spotlight on….Tweetalondoncab

In the land of social media there’s practically an idea a minute, some good, some bad, some crazy and some that are genius. The genius ideas usually speak to our personal and cultural situations, which is why Tweet a London Cab is genius.

Now, having lived in Australia for 4 years and also experienced the taxis in countries around the world, I can tell you that the black cabs of London are second to none. So, when you add a layer of social media over the top of that impeccable service, you’re bringing a British institution bang up to date. 

Essentially, the team at Tweet a London Cab offer a service for people to DM their feed with their location, destination and time of pick-up so that drivers in the area can arrange to pick you up via Twitter.  Sure, there is a novelty factor to it, but it’s also quite cleverly shifting engagement to more popular, modern means – in this case Twitter

I’m not entirely sure of the business model behind it, but it is still early days for them so I guess it’s watch this space for now….Who knows, it could all be an elaborate publicity hoax. If only then operated in Hertfordshire…..

Surviving and thriving on Facebook

Once the darling of social media, Facebook now has to battle Twitter to be the first word on excited communicators lips when talking about social media. But in my opinion, it’s between Facebook and YouTube as to who’s done more to attract brands to invest in their platform. If pushed, I’d have to say that it’s Facebook, if for nothing else that the self-serve advertising and awesome analytics it offers.

But still, getting it right on Facebook requires a bit more that setting up a sponsored page. I’ve worked on several Facebook campaigns to date and the one thing that I would say is this – getting it right takes time, effort and commitment, here’s a few tips:

1 – take a look at what’s going on elsewhere on Facebook that relates to what your doing – what are the type of things that your competitors are doing that makes them successful, what kind of pages are your audience interacting with and the big question – is someone already running a page under your brand name and do you want to work with them rather than set-up your own?

2 – talk to people. Ask your audience what they think. Ask them on Facebook, via your website, your blog and other social profiles and get their opinions.

3 – have a content plan. You need to have a steady flow of content in order to keep your audience interested, don’t just launch then twiddle your thumbs

4 – promote your page through all means available to you. Internally, customer emails, traditional advertising, PR, blogger relations and even packaging – check out what Pepsi Raw did 

5 – engage with your fans as much as you can, as often as you can. Keep the conversation flowing from both sides.

6 – give them the autonomy to help shape the page by submitting photos, videos and even regulating negative comments

7 – Invest in some social advertising from Facebook. Using this blended results yields some awesome results.

Finally, remember that Facebook is most effective as a long-term marketing tool. As such invest and plan to be active with your page for the long term and you get some superb results

It’s been a long time, hey?

Around 9 months ago the family and I packed the bags and left the sunny shores of Sydney to head back to the UK. After almost 4 years in the “Lucky Country” it was time to head home to the rest of the family, premier league football, warm beer and roast dinners.

Since I’ve been back, I got myself an awesome job, settled down in a little Hertfordshire town, had our little daughter Ebba and even got the dog from Sydney to the UK….via a 6 month stay in the South or France with my parents.

Anyway, now that explains to total lack of blogging activity, let me introduce you to the new home for Digiwedo. Although I loved my old blogger site, I figured it was time to move on and get a more professional looking platform for my thoughts….another reason it took me so long – finding the time to set it up.

I’m still making a few final tweaks to the site, so please go easy on me. Other that that, service will be resumed as normal – so please subscribe for your regular dose of all things social media, PR….with the odd bit of gadget and tech thrown in for good measure.