On Public Relations and Taking Out the Garbage

Sometimes in public relations, you have to take out the garbage. I recently had a “talk ’em off the ledge” conversation with a young friend who has just passed the half-year mark with a big-city PR firm. She had targeted this particular firm because its focus and client mix mirrored what she had been passionate about in college, and she dove in with enthusiasm. Image: Nehama Verter via Flickr, CC 2.0 But, as those of us who have “been around the block” a few times know so well, nothing’s perfect, especially when it comes to working for a living, which I’ve talked about before. It was 10 o’clock on a Friday night. She was holed up in her cubicle putting the finishing touches on some press kit materials for a client, and her phone kept up its insistent buzzing with messages from friends out on the town wondering where she was. This wasn’t the first time that she had been “stuck in the office” late at night. All of a sudden, it wasn’t fun anymore. When I saw her initial tweet of frustration, I responded and we traded several notes with my wrapping up around 11-ish assuring her that situations like this are neither unusual in the public relations world, nor are they an indication that her higher-ups don’t value her as an employee. This incident reminded me, though, of the numerous conversations I’ve had with students at Curry College, where I oversee the Public Relations Concentration. They express an interest in public relations, but when the question is put to them,“What is it about PR that interests you?” more often than not the response is
“I like working with people. And I like planning and running events.”

To which I usually respond, “Do you like taking out the garbage?” Then comes the quizzical “What do you mean?” look. That’s one of the eternal challenges for those of us who work in or teach public relations. Our profession is viewed by many as a glamorous, rub-shoulders-with-the stars, party-every-night kind of business. And I’ll grant that… sometimes… it can be kind of cool. But there’s a lot of grunt work that goes on in the background to make sure that the party goes off as planned, or that the VIP gets the attention he or she expects. There are any number of pieces of collateral material that have to be created. There is painstaking research to be conducted to ensure that no surprises pop up. And sometimes you’re the only breathing soul there at 10 p.m. In today’s instant gratification world, public relations can be perceived as a glacially-slow process. Yes, occasionally things happen quickly, and that’s fun. You do something, and you see results soon after. But, more often than not, it’s a process…a lengthy, evolutionary process. And the results may not be seen for weeks, or months, or years.
But the reward is still there, the feeling of satisfaction for having been a part of an initiative that resulted in good things happening for a client or employer.

So, as I assured my friend, there will be good stuff that she’ll be a part of as she progresses in her career. But sometimes, she’s just going to have to take out the garbage. (Note in closing: I spoke with my friend at the end of the following day. She was cheerful and excitedly talking about a new project that she had been asked to work on. She also thanked me for listening. We do that in PR, too… a lot.)

On Public Relations and Taking Out the Garbage is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

Author information

Kirk Hazlett
Kirk Hazlett
Professor at Curry College
Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, holds the position of Associate Professor, Communication/Public Relations, at Curry College; he is also Lecturer in Communications, at Regis College. Kirk has 35+ years’ federal government and nonprofit organization PR experience, followed by nearly 10 years’ undergraduate- and graduate-level college teaching experience. Some of the organizations he has counseled include the Blood Bank of Hawaii, Medical Area Service Corporation and Boston Harborfest. He blogs at A Professor’s Thoughts.
On Public Relations and Taking Out the Garbage

It’s About “Time”

About TimeI’m hanging out in a local mall writing this while my wife has a session with her acupuncturist a couple of miles away. I’m fascinated as I sit here watching folks mosey by with no apparent purpose other than to mosey. “How do they do that?” Image: Alan via Flickr, CC 2.0 I’m also reminded of a somewhat terrifying, ultimately rewarding, experience I had as a college sophomore. I had transferred to a junior college closer to home after a less-than-stellar year at Auburn University to which I had ventured fully intending to become the world’s greatest civil engineer. Instead, I: *Set a new personal low in grade achievement
*Partied my brains out
*Fine-tuned my pool shooting skills
*Not so much on the academic side of the river, however Needless to say, my parents were less than thrilled. I dutifully decamped to Middle Georgia College to do some grade-repair and try to figure out just exactly what I wanted to accomplish in college…and life. So, I’m hanging in the hallway one day in between classes with, as I describe to my Public Relations Concentration disciples at Curry College, “my finger stuck in my ear, doing nothing.” Along comes my English Lit professor who promptly (and literally) grabs me by the nape of my neck, drags me into his office, and slams a copy of Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet” into my hands with these words: “I don’t ever want to see you standing around wasting time again.”
Wow! First off, someone actually cared about my educational development! And I also found that I actually felt more productive when I was doing something.

I know that sounds awfully “Duh,” but… Flash forward 50 years as I sit here today writing this post with life bustling all around me. I don’t feel pressured to be doing this. And I’m getting doggoned good at “multitasking”…writing, watching, and listening simultaneously! Plus, I am very relaxed and at ease.
The lesson here, grasshopper, is that you can enjoy life and still accomplish a lot without making yourself crazy.

I’m not suggesting creating major overload here, and I’ve talked about this in previous posts. You start by getting a handle on your work-life saturation point. Pay attention to things like feelings of “I can’t deal with this anymore,” and recognize that however much you’re doing at that point in time is probably the upper level of your comfort zone. It takes some practice. I’ve had some spectacular flame-outs in my time when I added “just one more thing” to my backpack…seriously missed some important deadlines…and spent some “quality time” in my president’s office. The end result is that you will find yourself able to accomplish more than before with less stress and aggravation. You’ll be happy with yourself. And, no surprise, your superiors as well as your co-workers will develop a greater respect for your capabilities as a professional and as a human being. To those of you who already have grabbed your iPads and are feverishly banging out a “Kirk, you idiot. You’re suggesting that we totally give up on fun and relaxation.” Nope, quite the contrary. I’m advocating for a lifestyle balance that enables you to check things off your “to-do” list while allowing yourself to relax, brew a nice cup of tea, and enjoy life for what it is… “life.” It’s about “time,” don’t you think?!? (In closing, a tip of the hat to Professor Bob Hill Anderson, who took the time to show a budding lay about how to truly enjoy life…and Kahlil Gibran!)

It’s About “Time” is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

Author information

Kirk Hazlett
Kirk Hazlett
Professor at Curry College
Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA, holds the position of Associate Professor, Communication/Public Relations, at Curry College; he is also Lecturer in Communications, at Regis College. Kirk has 35+ years’ federal government and nonprofit organization PR experience, followed by nearly 10 years’ undergraduate- and graduate-level college teaching experience. Some of the organizations he has counseled include the Blood Bank of Hawaii, Medical Area Service Corporation and Boston Harborfest. He blogs at A Professor’s Thoughts.
It’s About “Time”

Is the NFL Digging Its Own Grave?

A guest post by Erin Feldman The NFL is no stranger to PR crises and controversy, but its lackluster answers to the ones it currently faces is worrisome. Fickle replies and behaviors do the brand no good; neither does a lack of response. PR crises require answers and action. The NFL’s absence of both raises a question: just how many PR poundings can a brand take before it faces an inevitable financial hit?

Crisis One: Dosmetic Violence

Ray Rice Original Image by Keith Allison When the world heard that the Ravens’ Ray Rice was to be suspended for just two games because of domestic violence, the world started a firestorm. It had a valid reason; abusing another person is not something to be punished with a slap on the wrist. That’s what seems to have occurred with Rice despite the NFL’s commissioner’s attempts to assuage the public:

You [Ray Rice] will be expected to continue to take advantage of the counseling and other professional services you identified during our meeting. […] I believe that you are sincere in your desire to learn from this matter and move forward toward a healthy relationship and successful career. I am now focused on your actions and expect you to demonstrate by those actions that you are prepared to fulfill those expectations.

While the commissioner, Roger Goodell, owns the nickname “The Enforcer,” his judgments of late have cast the name and subsequently the NFL in doubt. A number of reporters pronounce his judgments erratic and not in keeping with the crimes committed as evidenced by the chart below. Goodell's Record In addition, he has remained silent on the Rice matter since announcing the suspension. Adolpho Birch, the NFL Senior Vice President of Labor Policy, has become the public face of the NFL, a move that has raised questions and caused more misgiving and criticism. The silence and inaction on the part of the NFL and Goodell could prove detrimental to perceptions of the brand as well as sales; the brand claims a large female audience. It even has sought to cultivate that relationship through its “Fit for You” women’s apparel. Those women may show their displeasure by boycotting NFL products and events or ceasing to support the brand altogether. The NFL could keep those relationships intact, but it would require Goodell and Birch to change their words and actions. Howard Bloom, a reporter for Sporting News, advises the brand to do more than change its disciplinary practices. He says, “The fallout from the Rice decision affords the NFL a unique opportunity to right a wrong and make a statement about domestic violence.” Bloom offers some recommendations; he suggests that the NFL annually donate a percentage of its “Fit for You” sales to victims of domestic abuse, which would keep current fans happy and possibly attract new ones.

Crisis Two: The Redskins and the Browns

Washington Redskins Original Image by Keith Allison The Washington Redskins have been repeatedly asked to change its name but to no avail. Goodell and the NFL either have been relatively silent on the subject or have tried to put a positive spin on it. The team’s owner, Daniel Snyder, has not used either tactic. His unswerving support of the Redskins name has been termed “defiant” by some sports reporters. While the name might not be offensive to some, that doesn’t mean it’s a non-issue. James Brown, CBS newscaster, says:

If […] the name is offensive to a group of people, then do the right thing and change the name. It’s as simple as that.

I know people will engage in an argument and say, well it hasn’t been an issue all this time. Yeah, well, the civil rights issue was one where ‘that’s just the way it was’ for a long period of time, right? So that holds no basis and substance to me. Do the right thing. The NFL’s insensitivity is problematic and pervasive; it isn’t isolated to the Washington Redskins alone. Goodell has been mysteriously silent about the Cleveland Browns’ owner, Jimmy Haslam, who faces fraud charges while the NFL has gone so far as to call Haslam a “man of integrity.” Silence sometimes is the best and wisest course, but it is not in these two cases. An answer is needed. More than that, an honest one is needed if crises are to be averted.

Crisis Three: Concussions

Injury on the Field Original Image by John Martinez Pavliga The NFL is plagued with injuries, specifically head injuries, and how could it not be? It’s a violent sport in which hulks hurtle against each other. Even so, the NFL faces a potential crisis with its ongoing litigation and inconsistent implementation of new concussion protocols. PBS’ FRONTLINE has studied the concussions in more detail only to make perturbing discoveries. Injury reports often are inaccurate because of the way they’re reported. Many athletes aren’t missing any games despite suffering a concussion. New rules, such as moving up kickoffs by five yards and penalizing hits to the head, have had mixed results. In 2013, the number of concussions dropped, but the number is still higher than in 2010 when the rules were first introduced. Winning a settlement might seem cause for celebration, but it’s not. The few players, current and retired, who have won say the win is “the best of several bad options.” The outcomes of those settlements often are unclear; the most recent one leaves many players wondering what exactly the NFL will cover. To restore confidence in the brand, the NFL needs to follow through on its commitment to better concussion care. The NFL also should seek ways to care for its players and their families and, in some cases, their widows. Some of those women face large medical bills because of their husbands’ neurological conditions, many of which were caused or exacerbated by their time on the field. PR crises can be overcome, but they have to be dealt with quickly, honestly, and openly. If they’re allowed to linger and multiply as they have with the NFL, it’s only a matter of time before they impact audience sentiment and eventually the bottom line. What do you think?

“Growth Hacking” – Ignore the Hype

Growth Hacking There is a dangerous idea being shared in marketing, community management, and start-up circles in San Francisco – “Growth Hacking.” Image: daryjeki via Tumblr, CC 4.0 According to Neil Patel, the history of the term comes from a successful Silicon Valley executive who helped organizations achieve substantial growth specifically in acquiring a user base. However, this version of the story neglects to mention the long-term life-cycle of the companies and how complex successful communications programs really are. There is no mention of whether this style of growth worked for the organizations to really achieve what they’re looking for. There is no mention of which specific companies have employed this approach successfully, nor analysis of the return on investment, customer retention, or perception data. The term seems to be applied as an umbrella for a range of Internet skills and tools, from social media engagement, to measuring site traffic, to content site partnerships. Using social media and Internet tools to amass a huge user base can create as many problems as it solves, because engaging with lots of people means more stake-holders, each of whom bring their own expectations to the table. Believing that “growth hacking” is the way to build your user base, community, or marketing program is a very dangerous idea. It treats people monolithically, ignores differences in everything from demographic make-up to political background to existing perception barriers, and most importantly, ignores how complex the end customer’s decision-making process is. There is no consideration of how the customer comes to understand and relate to the brand, nor does it account for the additional bandwidth that this growth requires and the new constraints this adds to existing structures. The great promise of social media has been to give consumers more power through connection to their favorite organizations. By glossing over these distinctions, “growth hacking” completely ignores what an empowered consumer looks like in the social media age, and treats each person as a data point. That sophisticated customer who would understand and appreciate a new technology tool, that this approach is geared towards, knows that they do not have to be treated poorly by the organization. Your-perceived-audience-size In some ways, this makes sense in the current Silicon Valley zeitgeist. “Growth hacking” comes from a combination of the “faster is always better” and “newer is always better” mentality – contrasting Internet products like Facebook and Dropbox with tangible products like shampoo and couches. Unfortunately, this is a very dangerous way to think about organizational growth. This way of thinking encourages marketers to push for growth above all, rather than take the time to build something properly. The very product examples mentioned above compare apples to oranges, and gloss over the nuances in each of those market spaces. As a buzzword, this approach overlooks the very real challenges that technology both faces and has created, which are evidenced in the conversations raging around diversity, inclusion, and social responsibility. Even the Airbnb example leaves out what happens when the organization rolls out a new brand that misfires. More insidious is the fact that, because “hacking is cool,” growth hacking as a buzzword encourages lazy marketing and communications, and allows those using this approach to feel superior to more experienced communicators. For some start-ups, “growth hacking” has come to mean pursuing a single viral content hit, as opposed to a well-rounded content strategy that takes into account the complexity of reaching a return on investment and the organizational growth goals. Even if a start-up could engineer the success of a single piece of content to go viral (an increasingly challenging task in today’s complex online world), there is no guarantee that this coverage would result in the end metrics most successful organizations must rely on.
When content goes viral, the organization loses control over the message, the customer’s relationship to the content, and the reason that the content is being shared.

“Growth hacking” treats people poorly, ignores how complex real communications success is, encourages lazy thinking, overlooks the maturation process of an organization over time, and sets the organization up to be blindsided by inevitable problems that will come from having a large userbase. Responsible communicators will know that real success comes from ignoring spin like this, and investing in well-researched, carefully-crafted programs based on an understanding of their audience and stakeholders. Graphic via BufferSocial

“Growth Hacking” – Ignore the Hype is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

Author information

Maura Lafferty
Maura Lafferty loves San Francisco, social media, and social responsibility. She is currently applying for full-time communications roles, where she can bring her nonprofit and tech knowledge and integrated media relations to a great team building some awesome programs.
“Growth Hacking” – Ignore the Hype

Twitter and Television: A Match Made In Heaven

3412239865_995fa95581_bI have a confession to make. When I’m asked how I like to spend my free time, I tend to hem and haw. “Riding my bike,” or “reading up on the day’s news” are the answers I usually give, and those are true. But deep down inside, I know that the truth is the box that sits in my living room. Television. I have an unhealthy love for, and obsession with, television. “The Blacklist.” “Sons of Anarchy.” “The Walking Dead.” “Justified.” “The Americans.” “Fargo.” “Mad Men.” “Game of Thrones.” When I stop and think about it, I’m a bit horrified at just how much time I’ve spent watching television. Add sports into the mix, and I’m seriously embarrassed. A big part of why I enjoy TV so much is the camaraderie I get from tweeting along with the shows as they air. It’s so cool to see your feed explode when (GoT SPOILERS) Ned Stark loses his head or (Fargo SPOILERS) Gus shoots Malvo. My experience is that Twitter has become very intertwined with primetime television. So when NBC Universal Research Chief Alan Wurtzel had this to say about Twitter and the Olympics, I was shocked.
Just 19% of Olympic viewers posted about the games on social media, according to NBC. What does that mean, though?

Keep in mind, the East Coast was 9 hours behind Sochi. So, a hockey game being played at 5 p.m. in Sochi was airing at 8 a.m. in New York. Saturday and Sunday, you’d get some folks tuning in. Monday through Friday? Not so much. So let’s start there. It feels like NBC is comparing apples to oranges. Your programming has to be live in order for social media to drive it. If I already know the outcome of the game, I’m not likely to watch the entire thing. How can you expect social media to drive ratings when social media likely spoiled the outcome hours earlier?! I believe we’ve established that I think NBC’s full of it. Do I have any proof to back that up? Not particularly. Let’s try and fill in the blanks with what I have: a boatload of circumstantial evidence and lots of tweets. The next time you flip on your TV, check out the bottom right hand corner where the network logo (known as a bug in the industry) lives. Many, many, many, many shows have their own hashtag located there. AMC does it for their shows, so do NBC and ABC. I’ll admit to not watching any shows on CBS, so I can’t speak intelligently about that network. My point is this:
If social media has zero effect on drawing eyeballs to their shows, why are the networks (NBC included) so intent on promoting them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.?

I think it’s because social media does increase ratings; Nielsen and the networks just haven’t figured out how to connect the dots just yet. Social media IS impacting TV ratings. 35.6 million tweets were sent during the Germany/Argentina World Cup Final. Were those folks listening on the radio? Doubtful. “The Walking Dead” season finale saw more than one million tweets sent out about it. Interestingly enough, the Kid’s Choice Awards saw 2.1 million tweets that same night. My bottom line: people are posting on social media while they’re watching TV, be it sports or scripted shows (or “unscripted” shows like “Survivor”). Social media and TV are becoming evermore intertwined. Networks would be wise to learn how to monetize all the word of mouth they’re getting on social media while their shows are airing, and do it fast. Image: David Ross via Flickr CC 2.0

Twitter and Television: A Match Made In Heaven is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

Author information

Matt LaCasse
Social Media Account Manager at KimberMedia
Matt LaCasse believes that finding the methods and channels customers and audiences use, and engaging with them in their comfort zone, is the key to effectively communicating with those groups on behalf of clients. He does social media management for  KimberMedia and teaches for  @bgckids. He is a husband, Iowa Hawkeyes and Chicago Cubs fan. He may, or may not, use humor as a defensive mechanism. He also blogs.
Twitter and Television: A Match Made In Heaven

Social Media Measurement for Pragmatists

Social Media Measurement Guest Post by Robert Rosenthal I like studying results-based information from social media experts. Much of it is fascinating and useful. But I’ve noticed a tendency among some to repeat behavior I saw early in my career in paid media: act as if tracking to the bottom line – especially where social media measurement is concerned – is pointless or impossible. In fact, at one time, many marketers (and creatives in particular) claimed that treating marketing as a science would kill the art. Image: sean dreilinger via Flickr, CC 2.0 Generations of craftsmen were taught that the biggest benefits of great campaigns couldn’t be measured. In my book, Optimarketing: Marketing Optimization to Electrify Your Business, I talk about a lesson we learned shortly after grown-ups were allowed on Facebook (before so-called fan pages even existed). We formed a group called “What I Saw at the Direct Marketing Revolution” and began having discussions that weren’t really available anywhere else. Within several months, our marketing agency tracked two new clients directly from the group. These were people who weren’t previously in our database. They joined the group, participated in discussions, got to know me and my marketing agency, and decided, when they needed help, to give us a go.
It was social media monetization before it was cool. And the math was fairly easy.

Now, I suspect some of you may say something like, “Robert, calculating ROI in these cases isn’t always so easy.” I agree. In a significant percentage of instances, it’s difficult or impossible to track customers back to their original sources. But not being able to track everything doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile to track what you can. At times we’ve been able to make important media decisions when about two-thirds of customers could be accurately tracked back to original sources. Some relationships will originate in social media; in other cases, social media will get an “assist.” Even a 50% rate of successful tracking could be valuable.
The difference between being in the dark on the ROI of customer acquisition sources and illuminating a sizable chunk could be substantial in bottom line terms.

A potential downside of tracking customers back to original sources and running an ROI calculation: some executives outside marketing may expect all marketing to be calculated to that level. In these cases, it’s best to treat colleagues as grown-ups and educate them on what is and isn’t reasonable or possible. It’s easier for marketing programs to be fully funded when the executives responsible for approving budgets believe every attempt is being made to make the most of available funds. As the cliché goes, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Measure what you can – right to the bottom line. Robert RosenthalRobert Rosenthal is founder of Contenteurs, a content marketing agency, and author of Optimarketing: Marketing Optimization to Electrify Your Business, which recently became the #2 marketing book in Amazon’s Kindle Store. Robert was previously with BBDO Direct, Petersen Publishing, American Management Association, and National Syndications.   

Social Media Measurement for Pragmatists is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical Social Media Measurement for Pragmatists

Match Makers go Social by Breaking Stereotypes

Match Makers [Ed: The tradition of arranged - as opposed to "love" - marriages has been practiced in India for centuries, and is still a thriving and commonly accepted practice on the sub-continent. A relatively recent proliferation of matchmaking sites is bringing the tradition in step with the tech age.] Most of you reading this post have, or will go through, a phase in life where it seems the only goal of your friends, family and strangers is to get you married! Image: Weddingsforaliving.com via Google, CC 4.0 That’s when you get anti-social, run away or hide from family get-togethers, parties and weddings. People around you suggest uploading your profile to matchmaking sites, so as to find the best fit in a potential life partner. But little do they realize or understand that it’s not just about finding “a suitable boy” (or girl). It’s about finding someone with whom you’re so compatible, you can imagine spending the rest of your life with them. Recently I came across TrulyMadly.com, a modern day matchmaking service that claims to effectively use science and psychology to find suitable matches. The website offers a new way to connect with like-minded individuals who are looking for serious relationships. At first, I wondered how different it was from other matchmaking sites like Shaadi.com, Matrimonialsindia.com or Jeevansathi.com (which I personally have very little experience of). But my perception about such sites in general changed when I came across a unique and very promising campaign by TrulyMadly called #BreakingStereotypes. It made me think that, perhaps, matchmaking sites aren’t such a bad way to meet your dream boy/girl after all. What makes TrulyMadly stand out from the rest of these sites, is that it matches people’s profiles based on who they are and what they are looking for, instead of the traditional matches based on caste or location. The campaign was aimed at disproving stereotypes, thereby supporting compatibility and personal interactions among individuals. #BreakingStereotypes The campaign introduced 10 fresh stereotypes a week. Each stereotype was illustrated using photographs, articles and tweets, which also frequently used humor. And what they did was to refute the cliched opinions we form of people, based on superficial elements such as the colors they wear, and the work that they do. Check out a few #BreakingStereotypes which created quite the buzz: #BreakingSterotypes #BreakingSterotypes #BreakingSterotypes #BreakingStereotypes ran for five weeks. Over this time, 53 different stereotypes were posted about, which reached over 1.1 million people through social media. According to reliable sources, 90,000 people engaged with the brand on Facebook and over 9,000 interactions were recorded on Twitter by 375+ participants. And, most interestingly, a 330% jump in unique users on TrulyMadly was observed over a span of a month. It’s fascinating to see how social media is taking over every aspect of our lives. There was a time in India when people didn’t believe in such sites, and the only way to find the right fit in a bride or groom was through suggestions from extended families and friends. And what TrulyMadly has done is to get a step ahead of the competition, as people have become more tech-savvy and started using matchmaking sites, taking advantage of the way we live our lives in and through social media. The #BreakingStereotypes campaign gained a lot of attention in the virtual world. What do you think it will take for it to gain traction offline in what is still a fairly traditional society?  Images: Breaking Stereotypes via TrulyMadly, CC 4.0
Match Makers go Social by Breaking Stereotypes is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

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Ancita Satija
Ancita Satija
Senior Account Executive at Six Degrees PR
Ancita Satija has a Masters degree in Public Relations & Corporate Communications from the Xavier Institute of Communications, one of India’s best school for communications & media studies. With a keen interest in social media, she blogs regularly at In My Humble Opinion...; other passions include singing (professionally trained for over a decade!), reading and traveling. Learn more about Ancita via her About.me page.
Match Makers go Social by Breaking Stereotypes

How NOT to Run Your Social Media

Social MediaGuest Post by Josh Lyon Social media is a great tool for engaging with consumers. It’s personable, it’s instant, and it’s highly visible. For the most part, brands use it well. There are some fantastic examples of effective social campaigns and professionally-maintained accounts out there. Image: Bryn Salisbury via Flickr, CC 2.0 Unfortunately, it’s the mistakes that are often most noticed and most memorable. All of the benefits listed above suddenly become negatives in the wrong hands. Social media is very susceptible to human error, things are said in the heat of the moment without enough forward planning, and a large follower base can mean something goes viral in minutes. With that in mind, here are my top five tips to help you avoid some common social media errors. 1. Watch out for #fails This hashtag is an immensely popular tool for starting conversations, spreading ideas, and adding extra levels of meaning. Sadly, it can also go horribly wrong with the wrong choice of wording. Make sure there is no room for confusion with the hashtag you choose – a second pair of eyes might help – and consider carefully whether its meaning could be subverted. Hashtags that encourage consumers to “tell us why you love [brand]” have a tendency to backfire, as there will inevitably be people out there who don’t like your brand and will relish the opportunity to hijack your hashtag. The McDonalds #McDStories campaign is a classic example; the hashtag unleashed a barrage of stories of food poisoning and animal cruelty, not exactly what the brand had in mind. 2. Avoid the bandwagon Perhaps one of the most unforgivable social media crimes is jumping on a disaster or tragedy. For example, Epicurious decided tweeting recipes would be a great comfort to the people of Boston after the tragic marathon bombing. If you see a hashtag trending, it’s wise to check what it’s all about before you use it to promote your brand. It’s equally damaging to your brand to jump on completely irrelevant bandwagons for cheap clicks. When royal baby fever was at its peak, it seemed every single brand was sharing some kind of off-topic tripe just for the sake of it. Additionally, in 2009 furniture retailer Habitat decided it might get more traction by including trending hashtags such as #trueblood, #iphone and even #mousavi (who was running in the Iranian presidential election at the time) in tweets about competitions and discounts. That’s spam, alright?! 3. Know who you are Social should always be personable and on-topic with your brand, something many accounts struggle with. Continuity is vital in building up a personality for your business. Of course, there are times when branding can go too far. Spaghetti Os thought their mascot would look great holding a U.S. flag to commemorate the attack on Pearl Harbor which killed almost 2,500 people. Unfortunately, the playful cartoon branding was viewed by many people as distasteful and disrespectful. Know when to step back, and understand there are situations where it’s inappropriate for your brand to wade in. 4. Take it seriously Always train your staff on how to use social media, or make it someone’s full time responsibility. Social is an important job, and not one that should be left to an intern – especially in a time of crisis. If you wouldn’t let someone be interviewed about the business on live TV, you shouldn’t let them have access to your social account. Controlling access to your brand’s accounts is an aspect of “taking it seriously.” When HMV fired 60 staff members in January 2013, a staff member hijacked their official account to send a series of devastating tweets. In the midst of the drama, the marketing director had no idea how to shut down the account. Similarly, there are some memorable examples of individuals who work in social tweeting from the wrong account. Better to be safe than sorry. Have a separate smartphone for your personal use, and never log into your personal accounts on a work computer. 5. Keep your finger on the pulse Communicate internally so you always know what the rest of the business is doing, and always know what’s in the news. Set up plenty of Google alerts, and keep a close eye on listening tools in case there’s something happening in your field you should be aware of and be sensitive to when using social. Of course, sometimes it’s just a thoughtless choice of words, and there’s not much you can do about that. If there is more than one of you working on an account, try checking each other’s tweets before clicking send. Also, try scheduling tweets so you’ve got time to cancel if you have a sudden “I’ve made a huge mistake” moment. Ultimately, what’s more important than any of the above tips is how you handle it when things go wrong.
*Don’t be too big to apologize
*Know when to embrace the funny side
*Engage with your critics

These days, there is no better tool than social for ruining or rescuing your reputation in an instant. Make sure you do it right. Josh LyonJosh Lyon is the marketing executive for Peppermint Soda, a full service PR agency in Manchester, specializing in branding, design, digital and advertising.

How NOT to Run Your Social Media is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical How NOT to Run Your Social Media

Good Storylines Make For Great Fundraising

GStorylinesuest Post by Vipin Shri Storytelling can be found in everything. Memories are made of stories. Good storylines imprint right into the minds of an audience, sometimes permanently. Image: E. Phillips Fox [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons That’s probably why the author of The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, Christopher Booker, argues that every story in film, literature, and mythology throughout time is based on one of seven great storylines. A good fundraiser tells a story that easily evokes emotions and most importantly promotes actions. As a person watches the storytelling of tons of nonprofits and individuals on a daily basis, I think it’s safe to say that the majority of their stories also fall in line with Christopher Booker’s notion. Below are three storylines that we as a fundraising platform see quite often. 1. Overcoming the monster In “overcoming the monster,” the protagonist sets out to defeat a deadly force or antagonist that threatens something important. In nonprofit storytelling, overcoming the monster is a popular and easy theme, because the very nature of social causes is to defeat something that keeps the world from being a better place. ExampleInternational Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF) is raising money to pay their green army members to help fend off poachers *Protagonist: IAPF/Green Army *Antagonist: Poachers *Conflict/Issue: Poaching has become a serious global issue with a high risk of ruining complete ecosystems 2. Rags to Riches In “rags to riches,” a protagonist is trying to rise in the world, despite insurmountable obstacles. This is a very popular storyline with organizations that deal with overcoming poverty and homelessness. The protagonist sometimes has to lose it all to gain something even more valuable later on. *Example: Back On My Feet is raising money to set up running clubs for homeless people in order to build confidence and dedication, with the hopes of taking those traits into the workforce *Protagonist: Back On My Feet *Antagonist: Homelessness, Job Loss *Conflict/Issue: Homeless people need to build confidence, dedication, and a feeling of accomplishment, in order to get themselves out of their current situation 3. The Quest In “the quest,” the protagonist has to undertake a very important journey to reach a certain goal. There are tons of nonprofits that use this storyline as a way to raise awareness and inspire donors to join the journey by donating or volunteering. *Example: Summit On The Summit is raising awareness of clean water needs by getting influential supporters to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro *Protagonist: Summit On The Summit *Antagonist: Lack of clean water *Conflict/Issue: Nearly 1 billion people have no or limited access to clean water, so building awareness of this issue takes a lot of effort There’s a reason why Hollywood makes billions of dollars a year using different variations of these storylines. So what’s stopping you from using them to raise money and awareness? Vipin ShriVipin Shri is a Manhattan-based digital marketer and start-up consultant. He is currently the marketing manager of CauseVox, a fundraising & crowd funding platform for nonprofits and social good causes. You can get more tips on using plot lines in CauseVox’ recent ebook. For more about Vipin, follow him on Twitter.
Good Storylines Make For Great Fundraising is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical Good Storylines Make For Great Fundraising

Five Signs the Future Belongs to User-Generated Content

User Generated Content Disclaimer: Pic-n-Post is a client of RedShift Writers. Hello, WUL readers! Remember me? I used to write here all the time. Then I started my own business, wrote about what was going on with it in my first six weeks, helped a B2C pet product get off the ground and dove headfirst into the world of entrepreneurship. It’s been a heck of a ride! Image: mayeesherr. (in West Bengal!) via Flickr, CC 2.0 Fortunately, I’ve had a good enough experience so far to keep my head on straight and continually share what I have learned. In the realm of marketing, learning is the name of the game no matter what your goal is. Today’s lesson is user-generated content 101 and five reasons why the future belongs to the users. Here they are: 1. Harlem Shake vs. Gangnam Style Gangnam Style and the Harlem Shake make up two-thirds of the triumvirate of ultimate online mainstream music-based video sensations (with Blurred Lines completing the podium). The two sensations peaked roughly four months from one another on extremely similar arcs, but the similarities end there. Gangnam Style was a concentrated publicity effort based on the work of Psy and his PR team. The Harlem Shake dance video craze largely took off based on the whims of students, employees and other everyday folk interested in making a funny viral video. So which one garnered more interest according to Google trends? It’s a landslide: Gangham Style vs. Harlem Shake Community creates results. The Harlem Shake depended on community. User-generated content is far better at creating that community. 2. Rise of the social photobooth and video jukebox Live event social media generally involves a social media person or standard event-goer using a mobile device to put content online. Now, there are all kinds of devices that allow individuals to put pictures up without having to make comments or even bring up their own social networks. Pic-N-Post, for example, is a social photobooth that allows users to take their own photos and upload them to the event, brand sponsor or organizer’s Facebook page with effects almost instantaneously. Pic-N-Post has already revolutionized weddings and parties; now, it’s changing the game for hotels, convention centers, special events, restaurants, and more. Similarly, an app called Hurl now allows users to put YouTube videos in a queue in similar establishments by transforming screens into interactive jukeboxes capable of both user-created experiences (such as videos) and experiences spurred by the brand (established advertisements). 3. Holistic media and commerce Long ago, before the rise of e-commerce, the question of how to reach users was more difficult because of the barriers to access. The difficulty now is determining which channels customers are on. To make up for that, brands have begun engaging with customers in ways that personalize their experience and tailor how they shop as well as what they do to improve engagement and understanding between customer and brand. Holistic commerce and media involve opening the door to gamification and meeting the customer halfway in their environment, including on social media, mobile devices, through beacon technologies while in store, at kiosks, and more. Retail companies the world over are taking to holistic commerce and everything it brings to the table. Other industries should take note immediately. 4. Customer feedback system and process sophistication Customer feedback was once easier to sidestep. While customers have always held the dollars that controlled your company, the last decade has brought far greater control into the hands of consumers than ever before. Business processes have not only been made more customer-centric (as previously mentioned), but even customer-driven. Starbucks’ green swizzle-stick stopper was a result of customer feedback. Customers improved the experience for other customers. To Starbuck’s credit, they fostered and implemented the idea, but the users get the credit for generating it. Culture and systems such as these will greatly enhance the content produced and inspire users to contribute. Expect the future to bring more of this kind of involvement. 5. Gamification Gamification is still a bit of a loose concept, in spite of the various coupon plays, discount systems, loyalty programs, punch cards, check-ins, mobile technology and other factors playing into new ways for brands to interact. Red Bull’s events, including the famous Flugtag and Crashed Ice, have literally transformed brand material into live action. Creating a sport around your brand may be the most sophisticated gamification on the planet. On the other hand, brands the world over are leveraging more tech-based gamification methods, such as mobile devices and social media, for the betterment of their market position and general reputation with customers and potential customers. When consumers become involved in games associated with companies, they become part of the company story. Their interaction is content of the highest order. Have you seen the effects of user-generated content first hand? Please share in the comments below.
Five Signs the Future Belongs to User-Generated Content is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

Author information

Daniel Cohen
Owner & Lead Writer at RedShift Writers
Daniel J. Cohen is the founder and lead writer at RedShift Writers, LLC. Cohen and his fast-growing team of content writers produce visionary content strategies and prolific content production for a growing portfolio of wonderful businesses from Bengalore to the California Bay. Most of all, he wants to leverage writing to improve the world.
Five Signs the Future Belongs to User-Generated Content

#measurePR Recap: Richard Bagnall Returns

Guest Post by Jen Zingsheim Phillips Richard BagnallThe May 6 #MeasurePR chat featured a very special guest—Richard Bagnall, the UK CEO of PRIME Research, and long-time friend of the chat. Richard talked to the #MeasurePR community about challenges and changes in measurement, and why it’s so important for a PR program. Here are some highlights from the discussion: We kicked off the chat by discussing the upcoming AMEC Summit, which takes place June 11-12, in Amsterdam. The theme of the conference is “From Measurement to Insight,” which I think anyone involved in PR would agree is a critical component. Measurement without insight is just… data collection, really. Richard emphasized this in one of his early tweets on the topic: We chatted extensively about the user guide that has been developed, and will be unveiled at the AMEC Conference—and, it was co-written by another #MeasurePR alum, Don Bartholomew!

We also discussed measurement platforms, which always leads to an interesting discussion. As we usually tend to discover, tools can only do so much:

Richard’s role as the UK CEO of PRIME Research was next up in the chat, and how that position works with the measurement expectations of global businesses. Richard believes that more and more, businesses are coming to rely on effective PR measurement to provide the guidance and direction they need to have comprehensive and effective PR strategies. PRIME is a global PR measurement specialist, working in nine offices with more than 700 staff. Finally, I asked what the biggest measurement challenges are for PR pros, and Richard’s answer was succinct:

Best practices are tricky to suss out when so much of the work is contextual—measurement will vary depending on a client’s baseline, objectives, and situations. But AMEC and PRIME Research are doing a great deal to further develop the user guides and conferences that will serve as a pathway for more effective measurement. If you missed it, you can grab the full #measurePR transcript for May 6. The next edition of #measurePR will come your way on Tuesday June 3rd, 12-1pm ET. See you then! Jen ZingsheimJen Zingsheim Phillips is a writer and strategic consultant based in New Hampshire. She most recently served as Vice President of Content Marketing and Media Analysis for eOutreach/CustomScoop, analyzing media, digital content, and trends for Fortune 500 clients. Earlier in her career, Jen worked at Fleishman-Hillard’s St. Louis headquarters, and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

#measurePR Recap: Richard Bagnall Returns is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical #measurePR Recap: Richard Bagnall Returns

Putting the Art in Article, Part II: IntermediART to Advanced SmARTy Pants

pyramid of artGreat visuals can enhance your articles. We’ve already covered the basics. Now, let’s take your art to the next level. Guest Post by Alicia Lawrence Infographics communicate a lot of information, usually statistical in nature, in easy to understand graphics. To create a great infographic, not only do you need a great designer, but also someone to put together the research and organize it into bite-size pieces that tell a story. Not all infographics tell a story, some may just be a list, but they usually all try to solve a problem or answer a question. You don’t have to be an Adobe master to create an infographic. There are plenty of online tools tailored to making infographics, such as: Infogr.am, Visual.ly, and Piktochart. While most infographics tend to be long, in my experience, shorter infographics (or just simple graphics) are embedded by others more often. Videos, webinars and podcasts are great content assets to keep an engaged audience. Your company may have the resources to create stellar movies, such as Final Cut or webinar software. However, if you don’t, there are some free and inexpensive tools to help you get started. If you are looking to do a voice over or a podcast, consider Audacity for your audio needs. Depending on your computer, you can use Windows Movie Maker or Mac’s iMovie to edit your footage. You may have never thought of comics for your company’s web content But many businesses have discovered the benefit of a cartoonist on staff. HitReach does a great job creating and marketing their entertaining short cartoons. It doesn’t have to be anything extraordinary, but a little industry humor goes a long way. Don’t forget to include an embed code with a link back to your site to make sharing (and link building) easy! Slideshows have become quite popular They work well as stand-alone web content or even as an additional outline of a full length article. Forbes, along with many online magazines, has incorporated this content in most of their posts. There are many free online tools to create the kind of slideshow you want. For a unique moving presentation, try Prezi; or use Haiku Deck if you just want a modern looking slideshow. Advanced SmARTy Pants At this advanced level, you will need to know some Adobe products, JavaScript and basic HTML. Interactive web graphics can be anything from a moving infographic to an interactive map. ThingLink is the intermediate version of an interactive graphic. Google’s free web designer tool is comparable if you are looking for an online tool to help you get started. You can do a lot with jQuery plugins. These handy little plugins can help you create anything from awesome moving typography to unique scrolling options. In order to implement a jQuery plugin, you can copy the HTML template from hundreds of different plugins online and then customize it to fit your site. Are you using art to enhance your articles? What tools are your favorite? Please share in the comments below. Image courtesy Alicia Lawrence, used with permission. Alicia LawrenceAlicia Lawrence is a Harrisburg-based writer and entrepreneur specializing in communication and health. Alicia works as a content coordinator for WebpageFX and is the founder of MarCom Land. For more about Alicia, visit her website or follow her on Twitter @Alicia_Lw.  
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3 Ways to Make Your Local Giving Day a Success

America's Giving HistoryGuest post by Lori Finch Give Local America, which takes place tomorrow, May 6, is anticipated to be the largest, one-day, charitable, online crowd funding event to date. Seven thousand-plus nonprofits in 120 communities across the country are participating – an astounding number. Here’s an infographic that provides a visual snapshot of the event, including its historical context and key statistics. Here are three lessons we’ve learned on what makes for successful giving days: 1. Social media should be your Main promotional channel. Giving days are driven by social media activity. It keeps everybody informed and excited about what’s going on in real-time, and it allows you to see what’s going on as well.
  • Leverage Facebook because of its popularity. Facebook is the most popular social network – bar none. You can bet that all of your supporters are there (even the baby boomers, who are the fastest growing segment on Facebook). Share real-time updates on funds raised, post photos and encourage people to share your message.
  • Use Twitter for fast-moving news. Twitter is a faster moving social network that’s ideal for real-time updates.
Use Twitter to announce milestones, “listen” to what others are saying about your event, and communicate with news outlets.

  • Keep it visual. Social media posts with images get shared more often than just plain text. Share lots of images and videos of your supporters doing goofy things, wearing funny outfits, carrying signs about your giving day, celebrating or just having fun. Share images of the beneficiaries of your cause.
2. Use peer-to-peer fundraising to amplify your giving day. Here’s why:
  • One in four solicitation emails from peer-to-peer fundraisers resulted in donations, v. 1 in 1,250 sent by the fundraising organizations themselves;
  • Peer-to-peer campaigns drove 26% of traffic to donation pages from Facebook, v. 16% of Facebook traffic from all fundraising campaigns combined;
  • 71% of all peer-to-peer donors were first-time donors.
3. Set goals and share them.
  • Focus on measurable goals: new donor engagement, increased social following, dollars raised or number of donations;
  • Use urgency to create momentum;
  • Share your goals and progress throughout the event.
May 6th will see the power of grassroots philanthropy unfold at Give Local America. I hope you’ll join us! Lori FinchWith an extensive background working with nonprofit organizations, Lori Finch manages Kimbia‘s relationships with its community foundation clients and partners, helping to ensure their success. Prior to Kimbia, Lori spent six years at The San Diego Foundation where she served as Director of Nonprofit Programs, developing education resources and tools for more than 250 local nonprofits.

3 Ways to Make Your Local Giving Day a Success is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical 3 Ways to Make Your Local Giving Day a Success

Urban Communication: The Curious Speech of Cities

Pristina RainbowI moved to Kosovo in 2012 to get out of my comfort zone. Now I spend my weekends navigating the winding streets of Pristina, dodging feral animals and erratic motorists on my way to my favorite bakery. My modern apartment building is nestled among post-socialist high-rises and ottoman-inspired tenements. From my window, I can hear the call to prayer echoing from the myriad mosques across town. Sometimes a friendly neighbor wishes me “mirëdita” (Albanian for good day). My adopted community speaks to me in many ways. This is urban communication. Arial Shot Zurich How do cities communicate? According to the Urban Communication Foundation:
“Cities are places where messages are created, carried, and exchanged by structures, infrastructures, and people. ‘Urban communication’ is the meshing, for better or worse, of technology and social interaction.”

So whatever city you find yourself in, your experiences within are invariably formed by how you engage with its many elements. Traveling helps me clear my head. Vienna It allows for the chance to utter a few multi-lingual pleasantries, to taste some culture, and experience how each city communicates its own dynamic. The specific impressions one acquires from truly and inter-personally interacting with a city affords me the opportunity to explore places I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. I noticed how Vienna’s museums are sometimes more striking than the art they house. I scoured many of the bustling markets in Istanbul lit up with hurried tourists and by the ornately traditional hanging lamps. Rome I saw how Rome’s colorful transit system demonstrates that art can be found just about anywhere. I looked up at the pink skies in Tel Aviv that blended almost seamlessly into the townhouses in Neve Tzedek. I rode a camel to access Petra’s carved in archeological treasures. I photographed Sofia’s wonderfully ubiquitous street art, Paris’s beautiful clichés, and Skopje’s ridiculous statues. Petra Look up Someone once told me that you could spot a tourist by where they’re gazing. We might be too busy to notice our surroundings and whether our meanderings actually shape human behavior, but it’s worth taking a moment to observe and appreciate how the city is communicating. After all, cities are “arguably among the world’s oldest forms of media and communication,” as they convey human experience through their built form and patterns of interaction. How has urban communication affected you? Please share in the comments below, I’d love to know! Images courtesy Andrea Young, used with permission

Urban Communication: The Curious Speech of Cities is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

Author information

Andrea Young
Andrea Young
Andrea Young works in communications for the United Nations in Kosovo (UNMIK). She supports the Mission’s preparations for official events and visits, including acting as a spokesperson and collaborating with UN partners, such as Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) , United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) , and UN Women . A social media enthusiast, Andrea uses digital media to chronicle her travels in and around the Balkans.
Urban Communication: The Curious Speech of Cities

Adjectives are Cheap: Sell Yourself with Nouns and Verbs

Adjectives Are CheapGuest Post by Ann Wylie
“Adjectives are cheap. Everyone is a ‘best selling’ author or a ‘sought after’ speaker or a ‘world class’ coach. Nouns are more expensive: How many BOOKS, how many SPEECHES, how many CLIENTS?” ~Alan Weiss, principle, Summit Consulting Group

My long-term webmaster is leaving for greener pastures — Sniff! — which has left me searching for help from, among other resources, oDesk. Here’s what I’ve found: Don’t get shot down. Make your argument with verbs and nouns, not adjectives and adverbs. Adjectives are cheap. This candidate tries to dazzle with modifiers and exclamation points:
“If you are looking for a reliable and responsible helper, then look no further! I am a low cost, on demand expert! I am a dedicated, motivated, and hard working individual who is ready to get the job done! I am confident that my skills and knowledge are very useful for the position. I am a responsive, resourceful, and detailed worker that can provide quality results at fair price. I dream to be known not through my name but through the quality of work that I will provide to my employers. Your business is my top priority. I am ready to provide customer satisfaction by offering the best quality and creativity in my work and delivering assignments on time.”

Nouns are expensive. This one sells with facts and figures:

“Wordpress is my life. I spend 8-10 hours every day on WordPress. *1200+ oDesk working hours *70+ jobs completed on oDesk successfully *15+ oDesk Tests *Top 10% oDesk Freelancer for WordPress”

But verbs are best of all. Want to really dazzle me? Use verbs to show me what you’ve accomplished for others, and how you could help me. Remember, the verb is the story. So try something like:

“I’ve helped clients: *Increase sales by 12% by implementing a new SEO tool. *Reduce marketing costs by 45% by creating a widget that puts the e-zine together for you. *Deliver new products and services by developing an app that translates long words to shorter ones.”

 Catch Your Readers Want more tips, tweaks and techniques for writing messages that sell products, services, programs and ideas? Join Ann Wylie for Catch Your Readers, a two-day Master Class, in Kansas City on April 29-30 and in Portland, Oregon on July 23-24. Photo derivative of image courtesy Ann Wylie, used with permission Ann WylieAnn Wylie (WylieComm.com) works with communicators who want to reach more readers and with organizations that want to get the word out. To learn more about her training, consulting or writing and editing services, contact Ann. Get FREE writing tips when you subscribe to Ann’s popular e-zine.

Adjectives are Cheap: Sell Yourself with Nouns and Verbs is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical Adjectives are Cheap: Sell Yourself with Nouns and Verbs

Putting the Art in Article, Part I: Beginner Thou ART, Teach I Shall

Pyramid of ArtGuest Post by Alicia Lawrence Creative web content is all the rage in the marketing world. Great copy isn’t enough anymore to capture and keep readers—they need visuals. Image courtesy Alicia Lawrence, used with permission Below I’ve collected a list of tools to help you put the “art” in your article. I’ve separated the list into a “pyramid” based on your expertise. The beginner section consists of the most tools, as that will be the foundation for more advanced web graphics. Before we get our hands dirty in digital paint… Let’s look at some of the basic terms you’ll hear when it comes to creative web content. * Pixels (px): The term used to measure image dimension. * Inspect Element: In order to view HTML of a website, right-click on the webpage and choose “Inspect Element.” This will give you a setup similar to the screenshot below. Use Inspect Element to check a website’s image dimensions or view any problems you might have in the code.Image Dimension * Byte: The byte size of an image can take up a lot of space on your server, which could result in a slow loading time. Typically, around 50-150 KB is a good byte size. To check a photo before uploading to the web, right-click on the photo and choose “Properties.” * RGB: RGB (red, green, blue) is the color model you’ll need for web images. Note, this is different than images for print, which are CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black). * Image Types: Here are the top three most common file types for the web: JPG (preferred for high quality photos with lots of colors), PNG (text and illustrations), and GIF (animated, logos and transparent images). If in doubt, save as JPG. * Web Format: Web formats are displayed in dpi (dots per inch) and indicate the quality of the photo. While printed photos need a high dpi, this isn’t the case for the web. Your web images should be 72dpi for best results. With the amount of free content creator tools on the web, there is no reason why you should not be putting images in your blog posts, articles, news releases or any other web content. If you don’t already have access to free (or stock) photos… Here are a few places to get you started: * Flickr Creative Commons: Make sure to check the box to “only search within Creative Commons-licensed content,” and be careful to use images licensed for commercial use if your usage falls within that category. Some photographers request that you link back to them, so comply with the terms of use… read them carefully!
As a general rule of thumb, always clearly credit the photographer, and make sure your credit line is placed clearly and logically within your content.

PicJumbo: This is a new, hence smaller, site for pictures, but they are free for you to use (but not sell). New photos are added every week. * UnSplash: An incredible selection of free photos for you to use as you wish. The search function is a little tough (the site is built on Tumblr), but you can view them by month in the Archive section. * HubSpot’s Collection: Some companies and sites will offer their photos for free (usually in exchange for your contact info). Stop making excuses You don’t need Photoshop or any other Adobe program to create great images. There are dozens of image editing programs on the web, many of which are free. If you are looking to add just a few words over a picture to make it “Pinterest friendly,” you should stick to the basic program Paint, which is usually already on your computer (Mac users, use Preview). For more complicated photo and graphic edits, check out PicMonkey, Pixlr, or Gimp.
Be aware of the photographer’s rules for editing their photos. You can read this article to learn more about legal issues regarding using Creative Commons photos.

Pinterest-friendly images I’ve had many bloggers request a Pinterest-friendly image when I write a guest post. So what does that mean? * Use numerals in the picture. * Taller images get repinned more. * Include the headline or key words at the top of the image. * Add your logo to bottom of image or use brand colors. Memes and GIFs Very loosely: * A meme is any image or set of images, usually taken from a movie or previously published content, with words over the top. Before you criticize me in the comments, I know this is not really a meme, but it is what everyone is calling it these days. * A GIF is very similar, but the picture is animated in a short, repetitive action. The great part about this type of content is usually the only thing you have to do is find it, unless you’re feeling really creative and want to create your own. Drawings Let’s say you want to create a graphic but you aren’t at the intermediate (or should I say intermediART) stage of design. If you can think it, you can create it! Get that pen and paper out and draw your graphic. Afterwards, just take a picture (I like to use Instagram to add a cool filter to it) and upload it to your computer. Flat Icons and Clipart Another easy win! You can find free flat icons and clipart online. Put them together with text in Paint or Gimp, and you’ve got yourself a stellar, eye-catching graphic. Flat icons also make infographics or mini graphics easy to create. Screenshot When it comes to explaining a step-by-step process, nothing helps the reader more than screenshots. There are many free extensions to help you get the best shot of your screen possible. They also let you add arrows, text and other markups to get your point across. I personally use LightShot, but I’ve heard Awesome Screenshot is, well, pretty awesome too. Typography Artistically designed text can draw the reader’s attention as much as a graphic. However, don’t overuse this art form or it will lose its appeal (and you’ll lose your readers).

Keep your typography choices consistent and easy to read. If you don’t like any of the fonts on your computer, check out DaFont and Google Fonts for free font styles.

Other awesome and easy-to-use art tools Placeit has tons of images that you can use to generate realistic product screenshots with a variety of backgrounds. This is a great freemium tool for companies looking to display new websites or apps. Create your own interactive photo with  ThingLink. This tool allows you to embed icons in your image which, when hovered over, can be clicked to display additional information, such as: another image, tagging a person, videos, surveys, social buttons, etc. ThingLink Wish you could insert your pictures or text into an already awesome template? Now you can with Canva! This is one of my new-found favorite tools. Search for the perfect layout to insert your images, or use the stock images Canva already has on its site to create your graphic. Now that you know the basics, you’re well on your way to developing advanced web graphics. Be on the look out for Part 2 where we’ll tackle IntermediART. See you then! Alicia LawrenceAlicia Lawrence is a Harrisburg-based writer and entrepreneur specializing in communication and health. Alicia works as a content coordinator for WebpageFX and is the founder of MarCom Land. For more about Alicia, visit her website or follow her on Twitter @Alicia_Lw.

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#measurePR Recap: Complying Socially with Eric Schwartzman

Eric SchwartzmanGuest Post by Jen Zingsheim Phillips We had a lively group on board for the #measurePR chat held on March 4, with very special guest Eric Schwartzman of Comply Socially. The primary discussion centered on privacy, and what the boundaries are for those who monitor social media. The chat was kicked off with a question about the risks of social media monitoring in the workplace. Eric noted that the biggest risks of social media monitoring are: intrusion of privacy, invasion of privacy, and the potential to use social media for job applicant screening. This tweet caused some to bristle a bit: Tressa Robbins followed up with a very good question, asking:

The concept of people posting publicly but not exactly understanding that it can—and possibly would—be monitored was definitely a hot-button issue for chat participants. For many, it strained credulity to think that people don’t understand that public is, well, public. Eric followed up by pointing out that training is the best and most effective way to show people what is permissible to monitor and what is not. It can also show those who are posting what they should be considering when they post to social channels. There are very real consequences for monitoring, especially regarding job applicants. Eric pointed out that monitoring to screen applicants could run afoul of federal regulations:

Eric followed this tweet up by noting that there are roughly 80,000 EEOC claims annually. The legal cost to defend is about $162,000 and awards are $2.7 million, on average. This led to an agreement among participants of the chat: training, provided by an employer, is the best bet to stay out of hot water on these issues—with the understanding that this can be an expensive and unwieldy endeavor, depending on how many employees are in a firm. I think that one of the reasons that people were so fired up about this discussion was the notion that monitoring publicly available content could be perceived as invasive. For those of us who see monitoring as a key part of due diligence on the client side, this concept can be a little hard to swallow.

But the important point here is that we—as practitioners—come at monitoring from a very specific standpoint. Viewing monitoring through only that lens could leave us vulnerable, since individuals won’t always see it the same way. Training is key, for everyone.

If you missed it, you can grab the full #measurePR transcript for March 4. The next edition of #measurePR will come your way on Tuesday April 1, 12-1pm ET with special guest Don Bartholomew, SVP, digital and social media research at Ketchum. See you then! Jen ZingsheimJen Zingsheim Phillips is a writer and strategic consultant based in New Hampshire. She most recently served as Vice President of Content Marketing and Media Analysis for eOutreach/CustomScoop, analyzing media, digital content, and trends for Fortune 500 clients. Earlier in her career, Jen worked at Fleishman-Hillard’s St. Louis headquarters, and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

#measurePR Recap: Complying Socially with Eric Schwartzman is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical #measurePR Recap: Complying Socially with Eric Schwartzman

Memejacking: How to Get Started Marketing with Memes

Meme JackingGuest Post by Adrienne Erin  No matter how old you are, it should be clear by now that there are certain things that are “quintessentially Internet” – that is, they belong to the people who were raised on the Internet, in all of its omnipresent glory. Memes are one of those things. Image: Retis via Flickr, CC 2.0 For most of us, memes are a trifling way to spend the day: a source of laughter or, albeit less frequently, inspiration. For marketers, memes may have come to represent something very different: an “in” with the “Internet culture” crowd. What we’re talking about here is memejacking: another of those made-up-sounding words that has come to have a welcome place in the marketer’s toolkit. So what is memjacking, and how can you make it work for you? It would probably be useful to cover the basics first, such as: What’s a meme? Whether you’re familiar with the word or not, you’ve undoubtedly come across them in your Internet travels. A meme is anything that spreads via the Internet: a concept, idea, or, very often, a video or image. For our purposes, we’re going to focus on visual memes, such as the famous Rage Face or Scumbag Steve. Memejacking is, quite simply, the appropriation of these memes for marketing purposes: that is, hitching your brand’s proverbial wagon to content that’s already popular and instantly recognizable. Why Does It Work? We’ve covered the most important reason already: memes are popular. Really, really, popular. In the parlance of our times, memes are already viral: they’re engaging and fun, and perfect for sharing with friends and family. Memes are also perfect for use on social sites. Marketers hear all the time about how they should double-down on their creation of visual content. Why?
Because social media is the future of marketing, and seemingly made for the fast dissemination of visual content.

Havahart Raccoon Memes are a perfect way to cash in on existing viral trends. Memes attract shares, links, Likes and +1’s. Anything that’s as at home on a soccer mom’s Facebook profile as on a fraternity brother’s is probably a good thing to bet on if you want to increase your readership or customer base. Who Can It Work For? The easy answer would be “anyone,” but the better answer is “anyone who understands how memes work.” If you need some inspiration from a perhaps unlikely place, look to Havahart. They have a history of using memes not only correctly but thoughtfully, showcasing their humane animal trapping products in action or just appealing to their community of animal lovers. If you want a great example of a viral video that took its inspiration from a popular meme, look to Abercrombie. Their use of viral sensation “Call Me Maybe” has captured tens of millions of views on YouTube.
Mosquito Magnet have proven themselves very talented with appropriating popular memes for their fans. They also post trivia and news stories related to the pest. Wonderful Pistachios is another great source of inspiration, thanks to their use of pop culture icons and fan-favorite memes like the Honey Badger and keyboard cat. How to Get Started The most important thing you need to do is to familiarize yourself with the most popular Internet memes. Nothing will kill your efforts faster than your fans pointing out that you’ve misused a meme, so make sure you understand the context and the history of the memes you want to use.
Also be sure to always give credit where credit is due if you sourced the image from elsewhere, and don’t break any blatant rules in the process.

From there, it’s a matter of finding a meme generator to use, of which there are many. A perpetually popular site is QuickMeme, which offers fast and easy meme creation with built-in sharing features. After that, it’s up to you. Memes might sound like a marketing “silver bullet,” but a great deal of their success will depend on your creativity and sense of humor. Remember to have fun with it, and the Likes will be pouring in in no time. Adrienne ErinAdrienne Erin is a freelance writer and social media marketer who loves to pick apart ad campaigns to see what makes them tick. She also writes for Muck Rack, Socialnomics, and SiteProNews. In her free time, she loves practicing her French or getting lost in a good book. You can get in touch with her by following @adrienneerin on Twitter, or by checking out her design blog.

Memejacking: How to Get Started Marketing with Memes is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical Memejacking: How to Get Started Marketing with Memes

Four Ways Content Writers Can Change the World

Writing process I have long been a proponent of the power of language. From the time I wrote an essay in second grade that blew away half of the elementary school teaching staff, to what felt like thousands of rounds of high school debate, to my current job at the helm of a fast-growing stable of content writers, language has been an intimate part of my existence. Image: Hownote via Wikimedia Commons, CC 3.0 I thrive on it and would perhaps die without it. I feel so strongly about this that I wonder sometimes what I would do if I couldn’t type because I had no fingers or couldn’t speak because… well, the thought is too horrible to entertain. Writers really can change the world. Their mastery of language puts them at the helm of one of humanity’s most powerful tools. And that position creates tangible results on a nearly daily basis. Here are four ways content writers can change the world (some of which are employed by writers every day). 1. Leverage content for causes. Explaining causes to people is never easy. But writers- and social media practitioners, speakers, and other professional communicators- can often get the point across as well as or better than others. Writers are excellent when it comes to producing scripts addressing world issues.
There’s an idea behind every script, and there is a writer behind each of those ideas. Writers are best equipped to find a cause, pick up a pen, and get to work.

2. Add ideas to the world with clearer conversations— both online and off. It’s not abnormal for a good writer to be a good all-around communicator (though it’s far from granted as fact… the same way Johnny Carson was an excellent talk show host, but not so good as a backstage conversationalist). Yet writers make excellent speech writers, and often excellent dinner guests. The late Christopher Hitchens was well-known for being an excellent speaker and conversationalist and brought more than a few philosophical ideas to the world. #WUL writers are also pretty doggone good at keeping digital dialogues rolling.
Writers converse well. And the more they converse, the more ideas there are floating out there, waiting to change the world.

3. Engage in civic innovation. Last week, Houston engaged in an effort to crowd-source solutions to city issues. The Houston Writeathon brought together writers, designers, stakeholders and decision-makers to solve city problems by improving communication. But such an effort doesn’t have to be limited to Houston. It’s an effort that can be started inside the boundaries of any city, town or other designated political area where a few like-minded, motivated people can join together to make a positive difference in the way the government communicates to citizens.

If you live in another city, feel free to reach out and bounce around ideas on how you can start something like it in your own hometown. We will be happy to tell you what we learned at the event.

4. Team up with natural allies in both the arts and sciences. Understand: there is no actual gap between art and science. There may appear to be one because of the way we have described these different categories of study for thousands of years. However, the real gap is not between disciplines, but in our minds as to how to combine and apply these different fields. This is a concept discussed by Robert Greene in Mastery and perhaps best disproved by the works of Frank Lloyd Wright and Leonardo Da Vinci. Art and science can be combined into one idea within any effort.

Writers can help the world far more by teaming up with scientists to help describe their efforts. They can explain the inner workings of a particular piece of art. And they should expand their own horizons, too, practicing scientific concepts by taking instruments apart and putting them back together, studying diagrams, and generally extending the hand of writers on behalf of the rest of humanity.

Writers can bridge the gaps of ideas with their language and just a little bit of effort.

Four Ways Content Writers Can Change the World is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

Author information

Daniel Cohen
Owner & Lead Writer at RedShift Writers
Daniel J. Cohen is the founder and lead writer at RedShift Writers, LLC. Cohen and his fast-growing team of content writers produce visionary content strategies and prolific content production for a growing portfolio of wonderful businesses from Bengalore to the California Bay. Most of all, he wants to leverage writing to improve the world.
Four Ways Content Writers Can Change the World

Have You Heard of the #CoolestInterviewEver?


Disclosure: HCL is a client of my agency, Six Degrees PR. However, the campaign partners are ITSA Brand Solutions and FrogIdeas. I thought this was an interesting campaign, and wanted to share my thoughts with WUL readers.

Have you ever been to an interview where you don’t have to speak at all, yet are expected to answer whatever the interviewer asks?

Image: HCL via Google, CC 4.0

Sounds weird? Think again. Because India has been buzzing over the #CoolestInterviewEver, where one of the country’s largest companies wanted you to be “cool” enough to work for them.

Recently HCL Technologies (NSE: HCLTECH), India’s fourth largest software services firm, started a global recruitment campaign on Twitter. Here’s how they said it would work:

  • Respond to questions on Twitter: Over a two-week period, participants were to respond to various questions posted on Twitter (this round closed on Feb. 21, btw). One hundred would be selected to participate in the next round, which was …

  • A two-day TweetChat: this would be held with with HCL Technologies’ HR and Recruitment Office, where participants would be asked (and could also ask) further questions related to their areas of interest.
  • For the final round, five candidates from the semifinal round were to be selected to visit their nearest HCL office, and answer the final round of questions on Twitter.

In the third and final week (that’s this week), the company will select a winning candidate for one of the “cool” job profiles featured on the site. The winner will also receive a US $75,000 prize and have access to an HCL leadership mentor in his or her particular field.

The buzz that shook the IT industry

  • The initial buzz started through videos and banners. As of this writing, the promo video has more than 74,000 views.
  • According to Campaign India, as of Feb. 17 the campaign had received more than 110,000 replies, tweets, re-tweets and favorites.
  • #CoolestInterviewEver trended in India on February 18th (Tuesday), 21st February (Friday) and 24th February (Monday) for more than 12 hours.  

It has been interesting to observe a big brand experimenting with a different recruitment strategy altogether. HCL and its agencies have gained a lot of attention for this campaign, and many Indian online influencers have been talking about it. As a Millennial in the workforce, I’m probably not alone in hoping that many other IT/Non-IT companies will soon follow suit, and start to look for – and hopefully, find – new talent through social media platforms.

But… how authentic is social media recruitment?

When I first heard about this campaign, I felt it was the most innovative recruitment campaign ever. After all, it takes a lot for a big company to invest in a campaign like this. However, I had a few questions about the authenticity of getting to the final round.

If all the preliminary – and even second-round – interviewing was on Twitter, I could get someone to help me with the answers, couldn’t I? After all… who would know? So technically at least, I’d be able to make it through at least the first two rounds, right?

I remember the days my parents would tell me how important it was to look smart and confident at a job interview, how important that “first impression” was on the interviewer. But in this situation, it really wouldn’t have mattered whether I’d showered or not, or had messy hair, or food stuck in between my teeth. In this instance, if I were “cool” enough, then I’d be able to crack the interview from the pool, or from bed, or the couch… right?

While there’s been a lot of buzz around the campaign, it’s also been noted that:

  • A reliable source mentioned that “more than 80% of the participants for #CoolestInterviewEver were either very irregular Twitter users, or created accounts simply to participate in the campaign” 
  • The requisite spoof page goes by “Coolestintervieweeever” (it’s funny, but not that funny)

Online meeting offline

Perhaps crisp, to the point, and quick communications are now the “first impressions” we should be concerned about. And while it remains to be seen if/how the winner (and even the finalists) lived up to their online “conversation,” kudos to HCL for an initiative that will hopefully help job seekers  understand how to communicate well via today’s social platforms and stay ahead in the competitive landscape.

Do you think that a 140-character tweet can land you your dream job in the near future? Will digital interviews replace the traditional method of one-on-one interviews? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment below.

Have You Heard of the #CoolestInterviewEver? is a post from: Waxing UnLyrical

Author information

Ancita Satija
Ancita Satija
Senior Account Executive at Six Degrees PR
Ancita Satija has a Masters degree in Public Relations & Corporate Communications from the Xavier Institute of Communications, one of India’s best school for communications & media studies. With a keen interest in social media, she blogs regularly at In My Humble Opinion...; other passions include singing (professionally trained for over a decade!), reading and traveling. Learn more about Ancita via her About.me page.

Have You Heard of the #CoolestInterviewEver?