Author Archives: Victoria Harres

Gluttony and Other Things I Learned About During Social Media Week

Written while flying back to Dallas after Social Media Week New York City 2011.

Earlier today I was telling some friends over lunch that my memory is not what it used to be. I’ve actually worried about it quite a bit lately, wondering if my mind is going old much faster than it should. I even purchased special vitamins said to enhance memory, and perhaps if I remembered to take them they might actually work.

But at one of the Social Media Week NYC sessions I attended this week, someone said that research has shown that consuming large amounts of information daily will cause your mind to have trouble remembering things and processing information.

All that rich data my friends and follows have been sharing on Facebook and Twitter have turned me into an out of control data glutton.

Not quite the kind of thing I expected to learn during this week’s social media lectures and panels, but indeed it has turned out to be one of the most comforting.

So here I sit on a flight back to Dallas, my mind feeling a bit bloated with facts and data gathered and I’ve decided to brave the heavy turbulence to share what has resonated with me most before I forget it.

  • Twitter has become a significant tool for journalists who are using it in a variety of ways:  for doing research and finding information, for creating lists to follow certain feeds by category, for finding experts, and as a replacement for RSS readers.
  • Search is headed in a direction that gives much more weight to content that is ‘shared’ or ‘liked,’ furthering democratization of content curation.
  • Publishers are concentrating on creating experiences for their audiences. The Daily recently launched with much ado about the experience, but as it turned out the experience seemed less exciting without solid content behind it.
  • Mashable gets more engagement with their content on their iPad app than on their website. – Adam Ostrow
  • The Huffington Post needs the paid contributors they are now hiring, but it would never have grown to what it has if not for the non-paid bloggers it has depended on in the past. – Jay Rosen
  • Something that will never change in successful publishing and PR is the need for story telling.

So now as my flight is approaching landing time and I have given the flight attendant all my trash, I consider what it is about the bits of information above that have caused them to stand out so in my mind. The direction of publishing of course is the main pattern here that seems to concern me.

But there’s something else.

I find myself questioning whether we are headed in a direction that moves us away from putting quality of information first. Is all this concentration on technology, ‘experience,’ and engagement with content leading us to telling likable stories, but not necessarily worthy stories?

A friend told me recently that he has completely stopped reading news sites or print newspapers.  Instead he trusts that any news worth knowing about will find him through his social connections. This is a successful businessman. He said it has greatly reduced the plethora of information he was previously consuming, and he doesn’t miss it.

Will this affect his ability to make good business and personal decisions, I wondered.

And what about this ‘experience’ many publishers are working so hard on for us? I raised my hand at the end of the Publishers as Technologists panel and asked if we are perhaps headed in a wrong direction in thinking that giving people an ‘experience’ with our content is truly what they want or need. I myself don’t have time for ‘experience’ everyday. I want the information I need in the simplest and easiest to consume fashion possible. But don’t get me wrong, on a Saturday morning I am found in my reading chair enjoying a good experience with my favorite iPad news apps.

Of course I may be worried for nothing. I do tend to wring my hands together more than is truly needed. This is probably due to the fact that I can’t remember why I shouldn’t worry. <Note to self: take magic memory vitamin when I get home.>

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you, or would you trust your friends and follows to provide you with content you need? And do you like your content with a good side of ‘experience?’

Post authored and image created by Victoria Harres, director, audience development, PR Newswire.

Media Relations: Meet Twitter

There are some very good reasons to be tackling media relations over social networks, especially Twitter. Many of these reasons were apparent in the 2010 PRWeek / PR Newswire Media Survey. Some notable facts from the 1300 media professionals who filled out the survey included:

  • 79% of journalists now have Facebook profiles (58% in 2009)
  • 64% of journalists now have LinkedIn profiles (51% in 2009)
  • 58% of journalists now have Twitter profiles (22% in 2009)

So why do I think Twitter is the best social networking site for media relations when Facebook and LinkedIn numbers look very nice indeed?

Simply put, you don’t need permission.

You don’t have to convince anyone to accept you as a friend or connect with you as a trusted colleague. Twitter is a place to introduce your self, share information and build relationships. It’s a place to do your research and understand what individual journalists and bloggers are interested in. Find out what they’re reading and what they’re writing.

Also, journalists and bloggers are using Twitter for research of their own!

If you want your product or story to show up in a journalist’s search, make sure the information is there to be found and that you’ve used appropriate keywords that make the research job on the journalist or blogger’s side a little easier. But please remember, if you use hashtags, make sure they are germane to your topic or you will quickly become an un-trusted source.

Let’s also not forget that Twitter posts will show up in the major search engines.

Aha! A bonus to your work on Twitter is that what goes on Twitter does not stay on Twitter.

Start out by just learning (listening as the cool kids like to say). Use to learn about your industry, learn about who’s writing about your industry, and learn what thoughts and opinions are surrounding issues that affect your business.

When you feel you’ve started to really know the key journalist and blogger twitterers in your industry, start to connect. Comment on their tweets, their articles, their blog posts. Join in casual discussions and formal chats that they are involved in.

Offer journalists and bloggers tips and information that ‘don’t benefit you’ in the least!

Remember giving should heavily outweigh taking. Then, when you have something you would like covered or need help promoting, you will find that people are a lot more agreeable to retweeting you or covering your event or announcement via their articles and blogs if it makes sense to what they are doing. But of course it will, since you did your due diligence and built your relationships carefully.

Just remember one rule: keep the self promotion to less than 10%. Going beyond that gets you into a territory of being a nuisance and not worth engaging.

Authored by Victoria Harres, director, audience development, PR Newswire.

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Twitter, Social Media and PR: Stats & Tactics

Lisa Buyer, Sean Jackson, Sarah Evans, Victoria Harres PR Newswire social media pubcon

The PubCon PR panel: (l-r) Lisa Buyer, Sean Jackson, Sarah Evans, Victoria Harres

Last week I was on a panel at PubCon Las Vegas 2010, “Twitter and Social Media from the PR Experts,” with some top-of-their-game folks: Sean Jackson of CopyBlogger Media, Lisa Buyer of the Buyer Group, and Sarah Evans of Sevans Strategy. None of us had connected before-hand on what we were each presenting and only the night before asked, but as it turned out (thanks to sheer luck) our presentations complimented each other so well that we’ve sworn we’re going to do a world tour with this panel. Stay tuned.  My passport is ready.

Here are some key stats and tactics from each presentation:

Sarah discussed how to identify story opportunities via social media and what to do with them. She told us how some quick and clever thinking when she was awakened by an earthquake in Chicago led to having her name and business mentioned in the New York Times. And it all started with some tweets. Sarah said, “We are all news producers now.” Her presentation told the story in images.

Sean gave us tons of statistics illustrating that the more successful Twitter accounts, like @Mashable, tweet mostly original content and very little @replies and retweets. He said that “Content matters. A steady stream of Twitter content is more important than follower interaction via @ replies.”

Mashable has about 3% @replies and 1% RTs. Interestingly, Chris Brogan’s hugely successful Twitter account does the opposite, he posts more than 60% @replies.

Lisa spoke of Twitter being your PR feed. She said to take your press release and “break it up:  quotes, stats, top news line, and link it back to the full press release on your site.”  Your tweets need to be part of your content strategy, she continued, and optimized with strategic keywords that can be picked up by Google and Bing.

As for me, I spoke about media relations and team tweeting for a brand. A key fact gathered by the PRWeek/PR Newswire Media Survey 2010: 58% of journalists have Twitter accounts, and they are using it to do research. Think of this as an opportunity to put your best foot forward and build relationships.

Find journalists and bloggers who write on topics you are interested in and follow their Twitter feeds, read the content they are talking about (especially articles they themselves wrote) and get a good understanding of their interests. Comment on their work. Offer tips when you can, but it certainly ‘should not’ always benefit you. When something you are promoting does fit their needs, you won’t be a stranger, you’ll be a trusted source.

Which brings us to team tweeting. At some point, most brands will have to address this as their Twitter accounts grow in following and function. Choose the right people who bring different perspectives and talents together and make sure everyone understands their role and the strategy clearly.

Think of your Twitter account as a publication. Each team member is an editor and someone should certainly be designated as publisher. The publisher makes sure that everyone stays on target with the overall strategy and can make critical decisions on handling potentially sensitive situations.

Each editor should have their own beat as it concerns content. @PRNewswire is a magazine to us. We provide content that we know our audience is interested in and we don’t veer into content that isn’t part of our editorial strategy. Each team member is clear on what their contribution to the overall content is.

For us, @PRNewswire is an opportunity to share valuable content and information, do media relations, interact with our clients and build community.

Authored by Victoria Harres, director of audience development for PR Newswire.

Don’t Call Us Daddy Bloggers

Dad bloggers at BlogWorld 2010

The panel of dad bloggers from BlogWorld 2010. From left, Jim Turner, Brad Powell, C.C. Chapman, and Craig J. Heimbuch.

I found myself in a predicament at BlogWorld LV 2010. The “mommy” bloggers and the “daddy” bloggers were speaking at the same time. I wanted to hear from both sides of the parental blogosphere.

Alas, I had to make a choice.

I picked the lesser known and understood dad bloggers and felt slightly like a child forced to choose a side. Apparently, most people went with mom. I don’t think there were more than 20 people in the room for dads.

I couldn’t be happier with my choice.

It was half way into the daddy panel discussion that I began looking around the room. “All the brands not here listening right now, just made a huge mistake,” I thought.

2011 will be the year of the Dad bloggers!

I’m not making that up. Dad Brad Powell said it. And please note in the photo above, Powell looks like he’s very well in touch with his mom side and probably could have fit in on either panel. He was actually making a statement about how brands normally treat dad bloggers.

So what do brands need to know about dad bloggers?

  • Don’t call them “daddy bloggers.” According to Powell, they are “dad content creators.”  Craig J. Heimbuch added that “Dad bloggers write about anything…from a dad perspective.”
  • Don’t put them in your “mommy blogger” list and send out a blast email that starts with “Hey gals!”
  • Do read their blogs.
  • Do email them individually, call them by their name, and understand what each blogger writes about. Have an angle for your story that fits their interests.

Dad blogger C.C. Chapman said that if your email has any of the following in the subject line, it will not be read. The others agreed, and now we all know what to avoid:

  • Media Alert
  • Immediate Release
  • Urgent

An audience member with a very well known brand asked the dads about the best method to add contacts to her daddy blogger list.

I winced in pain for her. For a moment, you could have heard a pin drop.

Then everyone jumped in at once. The general consensus: Never say you are building a database or list of daddy bloggers (the same goes for other bloggers and journalists, by the way). Everyone’s fear, of course, is an inbox full of “Hey gals” emails.

I was surprised by the heartfelt stories shared by men in the audience who also blog and are dads and who feel they don’t get respect for putting their roles as family-men first. It’s easily accepted, and truly expected from moms, but dads are supposed to be out earning the big bucks, coming home late, and having time for the kids only on Saturday afternoon.

Brands mostly haven’t picked up on the fact that this is a different era.

Advertisers still target women with household products, and make men look naive about how the household functions.

Not that all dad bloggers are the primary caretakers of the home, but we have to realize that we are living in an age when many dads ‘choose’ to be the stay-at-home partner, working from home, doing the laundry, and making sure the kids get to soccer practice. It’s a choice many families make.

Blogger Jim Turner said he has confessed to peers on business calls that he was folding the laundry while they talked. Sometimes someone, another man, will ask him a laundry question and Turner isn’t shy about sharing his experience with products.

So what’s a brand to do?

Start by following the dad bloggers from this panel:  C.C. ChapmanDigital DadsJim Turner, Genuine BlogBrad PowelDad Labs; and Craig J. Heimbuch/Man of the House. Read their blogs and watch their videos. Get to know them.  Join their discussions.  Then, check out the other dad bloggers in their communities. Finally, please remember to target your stories carefully and conscientiously.

This is the season of the dad.

Authored by Victoria Harres, director, audience development, PR Newswire