Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Thinking about Trust Agents

Trust Agents is a book by noted bloggers and web denizens Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.  It's a fascinating look at how the web and social media sites are changing how we do business not only in this country but all over the world.  The biggest change has come in the way we communicate on both business levels and impersonally.   I'm such a dinosaur that I can remember the days of mailing news releases and then having high quality prints made for sending out photo releases via USPS!

This means that today's communicators need to have a good grasp of the web and social media.  In the book they give some very good reminders about not sending what could be perceived as spam to friends.  They also talk about the differences between trust agents, consumer advocates and brand evangelists using a variety of examples from Big Business.  In their view, trust agents care more about people and work to grow relationships.  They talk about how trust agents planting seeds that might create a positive image of what ever brand they are out to promote.

They suggest finding communities of people with shared interests on  the web and on social media sites, since geography isn't a consideration anymore for networking etc.  Something that really touched me in the book is their sense of humans being more important than a bottom line.  They advocate doing nice things for people, just because, with no sense of quid pro quo.  It's almost as if these guys are trying to bring the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you) into the business arena, something that is sorely needed in this day and age.

While Brogan and Smith are right on about using the web to expose more people to your products, they don't touch the subject of how to target your market on the web, especially for such "personal" products as art or theatre.  I say personal because art, like beauty or theatre, is a very subjective thing.

Providing a free service is seen by them to be a leveraging maneuver.  They also suggest using recommendation engines like Digg or Stumble Upon, so that your audience will help you spread the message.  Offering needed resources on your blog is another way to  leverage according to them.  Crowd-sourcing is seen as a way to find our audience and leverage their power.  Other suggestions include getting a personal assistant (which I'd love but it's hard to find smart, saavy people who will work for free) and by delegating work.

They suggest that a product that is both "sticky" and "spreadable" is the product that trust agents can more effectively promote on the web.  Reaching out to those who are coming up the ladder is seen as another way to marshall resources as is helping folks get the word out on their projects.

Brogan and Smith have a word of warning to PR people - they don't want a traditional press release with the who, what, why, where and when in it!  They are looking for information to interest their audiences from the PR community.

In summation, they contend that the web is just a bunch of people - like you and me - who have specific interests.  In their eyes, the web differs from other media in that the advertisers weren't "in" on it from the get go like they were in print, radio or TV.  They are right on the money there!  The internet was "created" as a way for scientists to share information. 

My only disappointment with the book is that they don't give any examples of how to locate one's audience in cyberspace for niche-type products.  But I highly suggest it for anyone who has not considered the power of the web in promotion.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Making a Splash

Sorry I haven't been as up to date on this blog as I have been on my other one, but after getting back from the hubby's family reunion, had much to do and then last week, a hideous cold struck.  It's been five days already and I'm still recovering.  But that doesn't mean that social media has not been on my mind!

I'm going back through the book Trust Agents to pull some interesting tidbits to put here, although you really should go out and get a copy - perhaps your library has a copy.  But thanks to my Linked In group and Tony Gates, here's another take on social media:

But do you believe in the wisdom of crowds?  If something is popular, does that make it good?  I did go to Reddit and searched for art topics and guess what?  Nothing was there.  So because nothing is there, does that mean it's not good?  Let me know... and Merriest of Holidays and the best of the New Year!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

FaceBook Nation

Do you have friends or colleagues who do not answer email, but do respond to you via FaceBook?  Don't feel like the Lone Ranger then.  It's not just you and me, it's everyone else.  Especially if these Top Ten Digital Marketing Trends play out in 2010. 

Special thanks to Chad Sorg for posting on - where else - FaceBook and to SmartBrandBlog-er

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Love Your Twitter-ers

My friend Chard Sorg - social media marketing maven that he is - posted a very interesting link on Twitter today.  Here it IS

The post above reminds me of many of the things that Chris Brogan and Julien Smith make in their book Trust Agents, which I will comment on in another post in the next few days.  It's about the love, people!  And being helpful and commenting.  We're moving into a different paradigm shift in communications.  For more about paradigm shifts look HERE.

Change is good!

PR for Playwrights on the other side of the Pond

I suppose you can tell I'm from the East Coast originally, the way I reference Europe as "across the pond".  But a theatre in London is doing a very smart thing right now, using technology to help themselves and playwrights!  So being the old reporter that I am, as well as also being a playwright,  I had to check it out.  The theatre is also promoting the site as a social network for playwrights. You can read about it HERE.

I got the tip on this from one of my contacts on the Linked-In Technology in the Arts groups.  PR for the arts is one of the most difficult of all PR jobs.  It seems that here in the US, the arts are the poor stepsister to film, TV and tech-related entertainment.  Like many of the performing arts, theatre is thought of as elitist and beyond the ken of the regular person.  This is just so much crap because theatre is generally always about people and there is nothing like feeling the energy created by actors on stage. 

Unfortunately most of the media "gatekeepers" forgot that while we need to support many groups that are trying to help solve the problems of  homelessness, hunger and job creation, we also need to support the arts because they feed the soul.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

More on Social Media

I have a friend who is becoming a social media maven.  He sees it as a way to promote his own work as an artist as well as helping other folks promote their products and services via social media.  His name is Chad Sorg, if you google him, you will find that he's on Facebook, Twitter, you name it.

Meanwhile in the corporate world, news of social media could be the engine for job creation!  One of my Linked In groups posted a link to a very interesting (and charmingly named) blog.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Views on PR and Social Media

Here are more views on Social Media from Linked In professionals around the country.
  • Kathy Griffith, who is in Administration for Qoro, LLC Fine Art Services in the Philadelphia area has this to say:  "Qoro, LLC ( and is using all forms of social media to forward our new website and online art gallery. We have used Facebook, LinkedIn, blog and Twitter (all joined together) to reach more artists and end clients. We have seen increase in our stats to our website in the few months that we have ramped up the social media PR but have not reaped the ROI/Sales from those hits yet. 
  • We have reached many artists we wouldn't have with just cold calls or emails but what we need to reach is the end clients that want to purchase the fine art giclees.  This is our dilemna, how do you friend people you don't know or reach them? We are hoping that providing the artists with information they will come to us for their prints and that is working slowly.   If you would like more information on our social marketing plan, please feel free to call at 877-470-4278 or email 
  • On the West Coast, David Dubrino an Online Marketing Manager at DRS & Associates chimed in with this comment: I think the key is that you have to use all of the social tools out there together to help each social account and platform. You also just can't create the accounts and then leave them, whether it's a blog, twitter account, fb page etc... you have to be consistent and stick with it... every day.   If it's NOT your goal to get people to your website so that they will contact you to hire you for your services or purchase something, then you don't need to worry about social networking. Otherwise it's going to be crucial to your business sooner than later.

  • And finally we hear from Giselle V, who is a Sales Director at the Deco Design Center in the Miami Beach area:  Deco Design Center is using all forms of social media but we prefer twitter and linkedin the best out of all of them. Facebook is more difficult I think and less targeted clients. You can follow us on twitter at 
It seems to me that everyone who has commented on this issue realizes the importance of Social Media  in the 21st Century.  Apparently it's more of a PR than an marketing tool from the comments we've listed over the past few posts.  Which is something that I've always felt.  If you disagree, tell us... leave a comment!

Since this blog is already linked to FB, I'm going to go Twitter about it now...

Friday, November 13, 2009

More on Social Media

I'm going to try to get comments from more folks on this post about Social Media as part of a PR tool kit. Niki VanEch who is the principal at VanEch Studio in Washington, DC, thinks this is a "très groseille" subject:

"Yesterday I attended a panel discussion at the Washington DC Design Center "Growing Your Business Through Marketing Communications: Big Results from Small Budgets". The panel was comprised of Arianne Nardo and James Barra of Interiors Magazine and Designer Victoria Neale from Washington DC. They focused on having good web sites and getting work submitted to editors for publication. Interestingly, the majority of the questions from the attendees were about the relevance of social media as facebook, twitter, linkedin, etc. as well as blogs. All three of the panelists basically implied that while these efforts may keep you somewhat connected, they do little to bring in new business. "

We also have this comment from Tyler Broome the Marketing Coordinator at Ballard Designs in Atlanta, GA:
"We have utilized social media with no intent of achieving any ROI. We mainly use it as a tool to build upon the already existing loyality from our fans. We also use it to get instant feedback about product related issues from our customers. Also, a great way to keep your brand in the minds of the consumer..."

And finally for today, we have thoughts from Denise Butchko, a Designer/Marketer from the Chicago area who says she's "passionate about teaching the benefits of social media":
"The idea with social media is to create an opportunity to make a sale. It really is, first and foremost, about participating from a place of sharing. You really do build relationships - and those relationships bring all sorts of opportunities. And every day there are more ways to track efforts - so you can get a handle on what's working and what's not. And take Jennifer's advise and check out "Social Media Revolution" on Youtube - it's worth the four minutes and some odd seconds."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Feedback on Social Media

Posted a question on a Linked-In group on how people are using social media and what results they are seeing and got some very good responses!  Like this one from Jennifer Smith who is the founder and president at Southeast Decorative Arts Center, Inc in Wilmington, NC:

When I hired my Member Services Coordinator, one of the top five questions was, "Do you know how to use Facebook?" She replied, "I check my Facebook as soon as I open my eyes." She got the job. 

She has built a following for my start-up business and I credit our Social Media efforts with much of the word-of-mouth buzz SEADAC is getting! As I am tightening my advertising budget for 2010 I am less stressed knowing that we can utilze Social Media to keep our name in front of people. Check out Social Media Revolution on You Tube if you don't think Tweeting and Facebooking is important!

 Thanks Jennifer for letting us know what it's doing for you in the Southeast.  However, I've read some reports that the recession is faring differently in different parts of the country.

Tomorrow we'll hear from Niki VanEch on what social media is doing for her in the Washington, DC area.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Who Do You Trust?

Your FaceBook friends?  There seems to be almost as many opinions about social networking and it's relative value to PR and marketing, as there are books about the subject.  Ironically, this post is based on a comment from one of my groups at Linked-In and a possible new job that a friend might be taking soon.

One woman posted in the discussion section about how she had set up Twitter and FaceBook accounts for her company but wasn't exactly sure what she should do now or if there were other sites they should be listed on.  To my way of looking at it, all businesses should have a presence on social media, because it's just plain ole easy PR to keep your name out there.

But the person who responded to this woman told her that she needed to read a book (Trust Agent by Chris Brogan) that had been recommended to her by a Boston-based PR agency.  Chris's blog/website is a very interesting read with some damn good advice on blogging.  Matter of fact, I hadn't realized that one of my techniques about seeing something interesting about PR and then blogging about it was one of his hints. 

Has your business or organization had positive reactions to blogs or social media?  Tell me about them, it's another way to generate some PR because I will write about it!

And if you are thinking of getting some new art for the home, office or gift giving, come see me at the St. Mary's Art Fair, 58th & M Streets in East Sacto, this Saturday, Nov 14th from 10 am to 6 pm.  Print this post out and I'll give you a 25% discount on any framed art or print.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Honest PR

Many people confuse public relations with advertising.  Yes, they are both part of a marketing campagin, but they differ widely.   If  these confused people also happen to be one of your clients, then you are in big trouble because of probable diminished expectations.  I always tell clients that PR is just a crap shoot, sometimes you get lucky and other times you don't.  With advertising, you simply get what you pay for - an ad.  Perhaps it's easier for me to understand media because I was once a journalist who was pitched by PR people. 

I always tell clients this first off before we even get to talk about strategies and the like. The reason I do this is that I too have had clients who expected way too much from one or even a series of news releases that I wrote for them.  Then there is also the problem of importance.  Clients think their service/product/event is the most important thing going on that day.  It can be difficult to break the news to them that journalists don't think that way.  If there's a big say ax murder on the day of your launch, the media won't care two figs about you.  Even in these days of changing media, if it bleeds it leads!

I belong to many (probably too many) groups at Linked-In.  One of these is Freelance Professionals, where Brian Salisbury's post and link to his blog got this line of thought going. He's got some interesting thoughts HERE

If you've found this blog, you might be interested in my other blog: Ann Tracy's Waiting for the Muse, my blog about life as a Sacramento artist and theatre person.  You can find it HERE

Thursday, October 1, 2009

PR and Promotion Advice from an Artist

O sure you're saying after reading the title of this post, like what's an artist know about PR and promotion?  It may amaze you that there are some artists who really want to get their work out there and sold.  One of these folks is Chad Sorg, a very talented illustrator, fine artist and video dude.  He posted this last week on Facebook and is letting me repost it here.  I think there are some worthwhile ideas here.

1) When it comes to social networking, there are only events. If what you're selling isn't an event, make it into one.
2) Interesting photos or videos tell more than your boring words ever will; not only do we want the info–dates, times, etc.–but we might pay attention if know what being there is going to 'feel' like. *Stylish examples of these will always get you more mileage.
3) Comments are your friend–ALWAYS. Inspire commenting.
4) Pretty girls make the world go 'round.
5) Repetition seals the deal. 3 or 4 updates in a row are the most you can get away with without annoying your peeps, but a couple updates a day, the week leading up to the event, now that's the dog's nuts.
6) If you're just being lazy, we can spot it. Don't be lazy.
7) a LOGO is not a photo.
8) I can't stress HUMOR enough–but I can mention it here without being funny.
9) Social networking/marketing is ALL about giving.
10) People will thank you if your marketing gives them an experience.
11) If your event is beer based, link up with the beer people; if it's theatre based, link with the theatre people, and if it's beer AND theatre based, refer to bit #6–link with both groups.
12) Action is attractive while humor is contagious.
13) Promoting others is the best way to promote yourself.
14) The more people that stand to gain from your event the easier your job will be; put them all to work promoting themselves.
15) Add to your credibility by NOT advertising constantly. Offering links related to your topic from YouTube or blog sites works nicely.
16) In promotions, playing the game works; NOT playing the game works better!
17) Be conscious of analytics, in other words, be sure you can measure your results.
18) Target the popular people, they know how to network your networking.

*Video has found a perfect marriage with social networking. The SorgSorg Fan page here on Facebook is the spot where you'll be seeing examples of my videos. Above all, I hope you find them entertaining. Get a hold of me if you think I can help your efforts; I'm affordable.

If  you're on facebook, you can find him here
or cut and paste the following into your browser

or you can find him here
or here;

If you have a project that needs illustration, video or promotion, contact Chad.  He knows what he's doing and he's a nice guy too!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

To Twit or not to Twitter

Social media is the hot new PR topic right now.  This includes sites like FaceBook, My Space and Twitter.  But not everyone is thinking that they all make sense:

"Twitter has become a playground for imbeciles, skeevy marketers, D-list celebrity half-wits, and pathetic attention seekers: Shaquille O'Neal, Kim Kardashian, Ryan Seacrest. Sure, some serious people, like George Stephanopoulos and Al Gore, use Twitter. And a lot of publishing companies and bloggers (myself included) use Twitter to send links to articles we've published. But most of what streams across Twitter is junk. One recent study concluded that 40 percent of the messages are "pointless babble."

The quote above is from Daniel Lyons who writes for Newsweek Magazine and is included in the September 28th edition.  And I think he's right!

I set up a Twitter account last year, but have rarely used it.  I might just try to use it for a client, but I would put a caveat in the short post so it could be tracked.  For an artist it might be, come to the reception and get a free 4 x 6 print if you tell me that you saw this on Twitter.  At least that way you would know if it worked.

However, looking at the way most people are celebrity-focused, why would anyone want to listen to my twits, except perhaps by a twit.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Win-Win PR

When you or your company can do something good for those less fortunate, but also garner some headlines doing it, I call this a win-win situation.  When I was involved in an artist-run coop gallery a few years back, I always tried to make sure we could help someone while doing something a little different to gain some press coverage.  We asked artists to donate pieces of mail art to the gallery so that we could sell the work and then give 30% of the proceeds to a nonprofit group called the Women's Wisdom Project, which provides art classes and a free lunch to any woman who is undergoing some kind of crisis. 

This was a very small way to try to give back to those who needed help in the community while positioning ourselves as compassionate gallery owners.  They are now doing this in France but in a far bigger fashion!  They have asked famous artists to donate work for a sale that will benefit an AIDS organization.  But they have an interesting twist to it.

Details are HERE

Friday, August 28, 2009

Don't be like XM Radio

Why would a huge company like this bill someone for a service that they didn't even want?  And then when asked by the credit card company to rescind the charge, refuse to?  Thus we have the curious case of XM radio.  It seems strange that a company, which already has quite a number of complaints with the Better Business Bureau, wouldn't realize that their telephone representatives are the first line of public relations for any company.  When a telephone representative is told of the circumstances and then tries to hard sell the service even though the customer is requesting a cancellation, this is not good PR. 

But perhaps it's because the merger of  XM with Sirius thios past July, is causing financial difficulties. Or maybe company executives don't think honest, good customer service matters.  Good customer service is your best word of mouth PR campaign.  It's something that advertising will never give you!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Social Media

Is it really the NEW PR tool? Or is it a way for people to waste time at work? It is a good way to develop a group of friends and co-workers and you can post events there. Only time will tell if it's a good way to get people to come to your events and shows and what have you.

However at the social media website, they did list 10 of the best social media sites for PR folks. Here's the link.

or if that doesn't work, try cutting the pasting the following into your browser:

Saturday, July 25, 2009


I've decided to also blog about PR, something that I've been doing for over 15 years now, in addition to my art blog at Waiting for the Muse. I started doing PR after leaving a 10-year career in radio and print journalism. This gave me a unique background compared to most practitioners in that I had been on the receiving end of PR for many years.

What is PR you might ask? It's simply the flow of information from a company or group to the general public via mass media and now, social networking. This can take the form of news releases, event announcements, media interviews, newsletters and blogs. I often call PR a crap shoot in getting a message to the public via mass media. Why? You might have a great, "sexy" story that you think the media will go with, only to be upstaged by a large local event like a huge fire, or a murder or a scandal involving a public figure.

Although many think PR is more credible than advertising, the one thing you can't do really is control PR the way you can advertising. PR must be thought of as a long-term strategy that works together with your marketing and advertising plans.