Social Media Leaks Osama bin Laden’s Death

Social Media Leaks Osama bin Laden’s Death

On a special CBS evening news report last night, Katie Couric and her team reported on the monumental death of Osama bin Laden and how social media has become the predominant outlet for people to use when news breaks.

In fact, the person who leaked the first mention of the news, Sohaib Athar, wasn’t even aware of what he was tweeting about. Couric reported that a computer programmer in Pakistan was so startled to see a helicopter hovering over his town that he went on Twitter to tell the world. What he didn’t realize, however, was that he was actually witnessing the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound. Read more

The Chaos Scenario and Traditional Media’s Downfall

The Chaos Scenario and Traditional Media’s Downfall

In a recently published book by Bob Garfield, “The Chaos Scenario,” he discusses the current digital revolution and how the mass media and marketing world as we know it is being replaced.  Garfield interestingly notes that this revolution is not unlike the revolutions throughout history; complete with change, restructuring, and victims… the victims in this scenario, however, are traditional media entities like newspapers, radio, and television.

These media staples that have defined our communication and connection with one another and the rest of the world for over 100 years are in a downward spiral, unlikely to resurface thanks to the Internet and mobile accessibility.  Now that people can read their news online, watch TV without worrying about network schedules, and carry their music wherever they go, these outlets are becoming obsolete.  Garfield attributes this traditional media downfall to three factors:

  1. Audience shrinkage with consequent advertiser defection
  2. Obsolete methods and unsustainable costs of distribution
  3. Competition from every computer user in the whole wide world

What I found particularly interesting is the concept that TV shows, newspaper articles, and songs are now simply “content.”  This content can be distributed as anything nowadays through a whole host of outlets, received on a variety of technologies from Blackberries and iPhones to Kindles and TweetDeck.  An article is not just an article anymore, but a Tweet, blogpost, and podcast as well.

The downfall of these traditional media outlets will encourage a more creative approach to marketing and advertising as both new media adapts to marketing and marketing adapts to new media.  Especially as much of the new media is free, this presents an interesting dilema for advertisers.  But, as Garfield points out, this revolution is not to be seen as a set back of any sorts, but an advance into the future of media and marketing.

For more on this, check out Bob Garfield’s ‘Chaos Scenario’ on NPR.

Incorporating New PR Skills

Incorporating New PR Skills

As I mentioned in my post last week, Adapting to New Media, public relations professionals need to stay on top of new media trends to stay competitive and keep their clients competitive in their respective industries.  PR agencies can no longer continue down a path where they’re pursuing tactics that don’t work for an audience or medium that no longer exists.  In a world where every click increases readership and every reader can be a publisher, creativity needs to be expanded and leveraged to make the most of this changing landscape.  New media requires a more inventive approach to go along with the incorporation of new skills and strategies.

In a recent article, 14 Key Skills & Attributes For New Public Relations Professionals, Dave Fleet comments that “Public relations has changed significantly over the last few years.  Even if you don’t buy into the idea that online communities and relationships are part of the public relations function, it’s hard to deny the rising importance of blogs, the gradual decline of traditional media and the impact that online conversations can have on brands.”

Dave notes that good writing, communications skills, attention to detail, media relations, proactiveness, and work ethic are all traditional skills of a good PR professional, however, with the changing media scene, new skills need to be incorporated just to stay afloat!  These include blogging, microblogging, social networking tools, SEO, coding, RSS and RSS readers, blogger relations, and social media ethics.

This provides a good start to the list, but, it’s important to reiterate that these are skills.  They are not merely tools that need to be learned.  Knowing what blogging is differs from knowing how to use blogging for best public relations practices.  Likewise, knowing what SEO (search engine optimization) is or even how to apply it, is different from knowing how exactly to increase keyword relevance and break down barriers for indexing.

Knowing what these skills are is certainly important, but terminology and definitions simply won’t cut it.  Really knowing how to use these skills is imperative to stay on the cutting edge of media and public relations.  After all, reading about baseball doesn’t make you a great pitcher.

Public Relations, a Look Ahead in New Media

Public Relations, a Look Ahead in New Media

With the rise of social media, there has been some discussion of how the PR industry will undoubtedly change.  Will it subside as new media outlets become more easily accessible to the public?  Will it grow as people try to figure out how best to leverage their company in the face of the changing market?  I address some of these issues in my post, “Social Media for Start Ups – New Roles for PR Agencies?

According to an article in PRSA, “Ad spending now smallest piece of communications pie, forecast says; public relations expected to see 9 percent growth,” PR is on the rise while other areas of communications are dropping off.  Even though communications spend went up by 2.3 percent in 2008, according to a New York Timesarticle, “A Look Ahead at the Money in the Communications Industry“, 2009 isn’t looking as promising.

Comm Spending

For 2009, Veronis Suhler expects overall advertising spending to drop 7.6 percent, with a 1 percent decline to follow in 2010. According to the firm’s estimates, the segments where advertising will decline most rapidly this year are newspapers (down 18.7 percent); consumer magazines (down 14.8 percent); radio (down 11.7 percent); and broadcast television (down 10.1 percent).

Comm Spending Percent Change

This is surprising since advertising was once the biggest investment in the communications realm, although it does not come as a shock that newspaper and magazine ads are falling to the wayside since readers are turning more and more to other mediums (especially online), causing more viral marketing/advertising to take off.  Traditional media in general seems to be phasing out as social media is taking a firmer grasp on society.

In a recent reportForrester Research asked 114 global companies with 250 employees or more what their 2009 budget looks like for social media, even during a downturn.  Fifty-three percent indicated an INCREASE in their social media budget and 42 percent indicated they’d keep their budgets at CURRENT levels, while only a mere 5 percent indicated they’d DECREASE their social media budget.  When compared with the developments in other areas of communications spending, this is an interesting trend that can be leveraged by PR agencies for clients willing to spend in other areas to get their messaging and company name out there.

The forecasted growth for the PR industry, though, is very encouraging.  It makes sense that as the traditional media outlets are declining, companies will turn to PR agencies to learn how to make the most splash in the new media scene.  PR professionals know all the ins and outs of dealing with journalists and publications, whether it’s through newspapers and magazines or Twitter and LinkedIn.  To keep up with the industry, PR agencies need to move into the modern era of social media marketing and networking, and become the experts that companies expect them to be.

*Includes event sponsorships and marketing, ad-sponsored games, and product palcement.

The Key to Social Media: Balancing Observation with Participation

The Key to Social Media: Balancing Observation with Participation

As social media popularity and functionality continues to escalate, many companies are asking how best to make use of tools such as TwitterLinkedInFacebook, and the like.  I believe it comes down to participation – something I highlighted in my post Using Social Media to Generate Leads.

Participation is something new for media.  In the days when traditional media like TV, radio, and newspapers dominated the media scene, all people could do was listen and observe.  But now with social media taking hold, people cannot merely stand back and listen if they want to make the most of these tools – they now have to participate as well.

A section of Scott Kirsner‘s recent article in the Boston Globe called Listening While Thinking highlights this point:

“Companies trying to market their products through new communications channels like blogs, Twitter, and Facebook often follow the same strategy they have used with more established channels like radio ads and billboards: They talk without listening. Forrester Research analyst Josh Bernoff says new “social media’’ channels require both talking and listening – which can be a challenge for many companies.”

The combination of talking and listening, as Kirsner describes it, is difficult when one strategy has been so ingrained for so many years.  Advertising, PR, and promotions are typically the “talking” channels whereas “listening” channels have traditionally been things like customer service, research studies, and focus groups.

The strength of social media, however, is in the combination of the two.  Companies can use what they glean from listening to these channels in their own promotions and campaigns while also contributing back to the media community – and their contributions are that much better from their listening experience.  But as soon as you start listening, you’ll want to participate – and as soon as you start participating, people will expect you to listen.  The key is to strike a balance between observing and participating.  You have to take into account what everyone else is saying in order to make the most of your contributions and get others to observe you and take account of what you’re saying.

Using Social Media to Generate Leads

Using Social Media to Generate Leads

Last week, I attended the webinar “How to Use Social Media for Lead Generation” led by Rick Burnes, Marketing Manager at HubSpot.

Rick described how traditional marketing channels like TV, radio, newspapers, direct mail, and cold calling are like a sledge hammer.  They keep banging people over the head with their messaging, which is oftentimes more expensive and less effective.  The companies Rick used as prime examples of this tactic were P&G, McDonalds, Pfizer.

Traditional Media = Sledge Hammer

Traditional marketing, however, is falling by the wayside as companies are finding ways to leverage social media tools instead.  Rick likened these tools such as TwitterFacebook, and YouTube, not to a sledge hammer, but to a magnet that draws potential customers in.  This technique is called inbound marketing and examples of companies that have used this tactic to their advantage are Google, Amazon, and Facebook… no surprises there.

Social Media = Magnet

The webinar described how inbound marketing is like a funnel.  At the top there are all the people coming in to your website through successful approaches like press, promotions, and optimization – made all the more successful through tools like content management, blogging, social media, SEO, and analytics.

Once people have found your site, the next part of the funnel comes into play – converting visitors to customers.  The three conversion tactics to achieve this are testing, targeting, and nurturing through tools like special offers/CTAs, landing pages, email, lead intelligence, lead management, and analytics.

Funnel

To achieve the magnet effect through the funnel with social media tools, you must work to build relationships and trust with clients.  It’s not only important to join and listen on social media sites, but to participate as well.  Participation is easy through things like Facebook discussions, Yahoo! Answers, and LinkedIn Q&As.  When you answer questions and make contributions, you begin to build a reputation and, eventually, relationships with influential community members and potential clients.

Social media tools are a great way to distribute your content, but it’s not just about yourself, you must interact with people to achieve the optimum results.  You need to balance your conversation and distribution to get the most out of social media.  Good content spreads fast, so you’re not only reaching a select group like with a traditional ad.  Worthy contributions not only reach the people associated with your social media accounts, but also everyone associated with their accounts… that is, if they deem your content good enough to be shared.

Content that gets shared is interesting, fresh, useful, and relevant to target audiences.  New data, top blog posts, and funny videos are among the top things to get redistributed.  Product info, free trials, or software documentation is typically not redistributed, though it can still be useful and interesting – so this is where striking a good balance comes into play.  Blogs, podcasts, videos, and photos in combination with presentations, eBooks, and press releases will generally achieve a good mix of information that people will want to share.

Overall, the webinar had some great insights for “inbound marketing” through social media – something that more and more companies are making use of (often through PR agencies who conduct social media campaigns) to generate new customer/business leads.