“When should we start doing public relations?” is a question that we hear often at Ignite. The answer is not simple. But, here are a few things to review while making your decision.Read More
Ignite X specializes in helping technology startups grow their market visibility and brand. We bring expertise, connections and tenacity to helping brands break through the noise. Here are some of the things we've learned along the way.
Filtering by Category: Public Relations biz
Is all press good press?Read More
Traditional public relations tactics don't cut it anymore. Let's explore how you can blend social media into your campaigns.Read More
Should startups & established companies invest in Marketing & PR amidst the ongoing recession? Which camp do you fall under? What about your competitors?Read More
Steve Reubel recently questioned whether Twitter might replace the traditional email pitching practices of PR. We respectfully don't think so and hope not for the reasons outlined in this post.Read More
It's important for Marketing to communicate with their public relations teams about marketing activities that they are planning to participate in as early as possible.Read More
Cision, an online database provider of media contacts aimed at PR professionals, is planning to add journalists’ Twitter handles. Many members of media have joined the ranks of bloggers who are actively leveraging Twitter for its ability to amplify their reach, so the move by this contacts vendor isn’t all that surprising. In fact, analyst firms, with the exception of Jeremiah Owyang and Forrester, are just starting to awake to this new powerful and growing channel. At Ignite PR, we use Twitter to communicate internally and externally with peers, follow breaking news, discover interesting data, spot emerging trends and meet or follow interesting people. Twitter’s most important value is its inherent nature around organic participation and the meaning and connection behind one’s network. On Twitter, one can engage with other interesting individuals who have similar interests, share great content, and are just interesting people in general. Twitter along with other social media channels, such as Facebook, Digg, YouTube, FriendFeed, etc., provide a simple and interactive way for people to engage in conversations with a wide array of individuals and expand or build a new network of interesting contacts.
Cision’s move raises a red flag however. When other database vendors start selling off Twitter names/handles, they stand to benefit at the expense of others. So far, PR folks actively using Twitter early on seem to be using it in a way that is not causing friction and we wholeheartedly applaud their practice-to-date. Yet there is still cause for concern when PR folks are using Facebook to actively pitch reporters and bloggers. One can easily see novice PR people blasting press release links or pitches aimed at Twitter users, namely press and bloggers, because they aren’t investing the time in understanding the do’s and don’ts of using Twitter. Thankfully Twitter’s management does a good job of shutting down spammers, but if database vendors are going to be selling lists of Twitter users to willing buyers such as PR agencies, then they both need to be responsible for understanding and underscoring acceptable practices for using this growing new channel. It’s critical that PR people embark on a real effort of self-policing how they use new social media channels to reach members of media or the blogsphere. Just as social media tools and channels are ushering in a new way to reach and communicate with one another, PR should seize the opportunity and turn a new page in how they use this new channel in an acceptable way.
President Obama promises to usher in a new era of openness based around three priorities: communication, transparency and participation. President Obama’s theme of open communication and transparency was carried out through Facebook, SMS and Twitter updates on his campaign trail; YouTube video addresses during his transition to the Whitehouse; and user engagement post-inauguration via the new makeover of the Whitehouse.gov website. By continuing to apply a wide range of social media tools, President Obama is bypassing mainstream media channels and opting instead to reach out directly to his ardent supporters to continue engaging with them.
There’s a big takeaway in all of this for big companies and startups alike looking to build their own communities and leverage social media tools: start incorporating a digital social media strategy to accompany traditional PR efforts. For a great example, take a look at how successful Zappos.com has been with their company-wide embracement and use of Twitter as a new communication channel with their customers.
Twitter, SMS, YouTube, Facebook, blogging, Digg, Delicious, Flickr, etc. are cost-effective communication channels that are quickly becoming mainstream, enabling companies and people to reach out to their constituents and network of friends faster and farther than ever before. Social media initiatives enable companies to quickly communicate with existing customers or prospects, enhances a company’s transparency with customers, and encourages user feedback, ultimately building trust, loyalty, and goodwill.
Today’s economic downturn is affecting not just banking, housing and automotive, but all industries. As businesses adjust to weather this severe economic storm through reduced spending and layoffs, expensive advertising budgets are among the first to get slashed and the media industry is being hit hard. Print advertising at newspapers was down 16 percent in Q2 and it is steadily contracting. While more ad dollars are still being spent online versus print, Q3 experienced for the first time a slight decline in online ad spending. Print media in particular is being impacted; Time Inc. is undergoing significant layoffs across its multiple titles such as People, Fortune, and Sports Illustrated. Condé Nast was recently forced to let go of staff from its newly launched Portfolio, and Forbes underwent a restructuring to combine its web and print operations.
Given the climate, print media has had to make tough decisions. With the bleak outlook, some are testing out new approaches and introducing innovative changes. The Christian Science Monitor and more recently PC Magazine, the bellwether of tech journalism, announced plans to start publishing in a 100% online-only format. There is a small silver lining for online ad revenues; the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) in conjunction with PricewaterhouseCoopers recently reported that internet advertising rose slightly in the third quarter, up 2% from the second quarter, an 11% rise from the same period last year. Yankee Group predicts that the online ad market will reach more than $50 billion by 2011.
Traditional publications are also realizing the benefits of delivering content online to supplement print issues. The New York Times's Pogue O'Matic and Time's Channel Podcasts are great examples that continue to operate and produce print issues but have started to post supplementary angles to their print stories in their online outlets. The online sections are giving journalists additional space, where they can write a follow-on piece, include new perspectives, mention other players in the space, incorporate product information, post a video interview, etc.
With more ad dollars moving to the web, news outlets still have to carefully balance the mix of interactive features within their news content so that readers’ overall experience is kept in check. Incorporating various interactive, multimedia formats and social media tools (podcasts, video chats, streaming video, photo slides) enables media outlets to engage readers and push their content out to a broader audience of readers. Increasingly, online news sites are catering to a growing number of readers who want to share, vote, comment on or blog about the article; thus new social media buttons increasingly accompany the articles to support readers’ needs. As print publications expand their news coverage online and include new ways of engaging readers, high tech PR agencies will be afforded extended opportunities to collaborate with their clients on how they too need to leverage these expanding channels of communication, information sharing and reader engagement.
I attended the Girls in Tech / Horn Group event that examined the notion of whether social media tools are killing PR. The event was in part to address the ongoing backchannel blogger chatter, which is essentially asserting that PR is dying on the vine. Kudos to the Horn Group and Girls in Tech for taking the opportunity to move beyond the negative bickering and look forward to the role that social media tools are having and how PR must harness them. I agree with the stand that Sabrina Horn took in noting that, no, PR is far from dying and the industry is, in fact, on the cusp of being reborn. In other words, there is opportunity on the horizon for those agencies that choose to transform for the future. The panelists were fantastic, each bringing a different and highly relevant perspective: Sam Whitmore of Media Survey served as the moderator and did an excellent job of prodding the audience for feedback while trying to cover a number of areas and keep all participants on track. Susan Etlinger, from the agency-side, Jeremiah Owyang, provided the analyst and blogger perspective, and BoomTown’s Kara Swisher lent perspective from her traditional media experience. Unfortunately, the 90 minutes didn’t afford the time to really dig down into how different social tools are enhancing PR or could be integrated more successfully. Nevertheless, the exchange was positive and fruitful, providing some good take-aways. Kara Swisher was vastly entertaining and provided a dose of reality related to the drama and antics some bloggers are exhibiting.
A few folks from the crowd provided a client perspective, noting that they want their agencies to be more expert at product marketing and SEO and web analytics. Jeremiah was spot on in his assessment that today the PR industry has to build out core competencies in SEO, web analytics, product marketing, viral marketing and beyond in order to be able to offer a new brand of PR services and expertise to clients; This new brand of PR is one that will blend core practices of traditional PR with online marketing -- while harnessing existing and future tools that disseminate information faster and farther. There are indeed new revenue streams to be realized here for PR firms. PR is at a crossroads in its need to evolve and become savvy in online advertising and other marketing competencies so that we can help clients navigate how they can most effectively apply their marketing efforts and dollars to drive company revenues.
Like the auto industry’s need to retool their manufacturing plants, now is the time for the PR industry to also retool. Future core services that we begin to offer clients need to be creative and closely align with how to leverage the expanding communication channels and the different avenues in which content and services and conversations are being disseminated, shared, and consumed.