Wednesday, December 8, 2010

PR by the numbers

I'm beginning to be convinced that the Mashable website is a treasure trove of information for anyone dealing with PR and marketing.  A couple of years ago, I would never have had a "smart" phone because I just wasn't into texting.  That changed when I saw that some of the younger people I worked with at the theatre company wouldn't answer phone calls or emails, but would responds to text messages!

What sealed the deal for me in buying my smart phone was that I had an opportunity to work as a judge for a solo show theatre competition in Romania.  After looking at the costs to call back home from there, I became a fan of texting, which is far less expensive.  With that and gmail chat, the hubby and I could stay in touch even though I was half a world away.

But let me get back to the age issue, which is the focus of this article on Mashable.  Granted that they have slanted this article to marketing, I think it also holds relevance to PR issues as well.  How about you?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Social Media and Communications

Thanks to the folks over at Mashable, we have our new post here!  Although the article is geared towards people managing their social lives, it does have resonance for folks doing PR.  I must admit that I've not yet tried one of Facebook's newest additions - Groups.

But I am going to try it today to see if I get any more traffic for my December 5th Holiday Open House at my studio.  My plan is to NOT set up an event page on FB, but instead set up a group for all my local contacts here in Sacramento.    I set up an event page on FB for the Capitol Artists Studio Tour this past Sept and I didn't get much action from it.  I'll also set up an Evite list and see if that helps build the crowds for me.

The reason some of this works is that the biggest part of PR is merely communication.  Although PR can also take in marketing for some folks, it's really trying to find a way to get information to the individual.  We used to do it with newspapers but due to their dwindling editorial space and the fact that most folks under the age of 30 don't even subscribe anymore, social media is the other place we can post information, without even having to sell a reporter on a story idea!

Is it more effective?  Only time will tell or have you had great success in using social media to promote your clients and causes?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Arts and Social Media

Today instead of focusing on just PR, I thought we're branch out into another interesting topic - The Impact of Technology on Cultural Partnerships.  I must thank my Irish Twitter friend Saoire O' Brien for turning me onto this.  If you;re on twitter, go ahead and follow her for very interesting stuff that's arts-related.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ch Ch Ch Ch Changes

are about the only constant my friends.  It's amazing that I've been posting more to the PR blog than my art & life blog, Ann Tracy's Waiting for the Muse!  But I've stumbled upon some very interesting stuff that I did want to share with you.

Big thanks to my Twitter friend from Ireland - Saoire O' Brien for passing along this link to an article in Mashable about how Facebook is changing and morphing.  Granted they talk about it more in a marketing sense, but I think this is useful for PR as well.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What was Old is New Again

While PR and marketing folks have some new tools with social media, you still need to get the job done the old way.  This article in Mashable Business harps on that.  But for folks like me who are also visual artists, I can sell work straight from my page here on Facebook.  See the tab at the top that says "Shop"?  If you click on it you will bring up all the inventory I have on Fine Art America.

So I wouldn't write off social media for making the purchase, at least not yet!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

'Tis the Season

If you haven't already seen dreaded Christmas stuff in stores already, I want to know where you live!  Yes, retailers have thrust the season upon us too early, but in the PR world, it's not too late to think of a way to help those less fortunate while at the same time promoting your business or service!  I love it when businesses partner with non profits - a win-win situation.

But what can you do?  Here in Sacramento, not only did part of a big suburban mall burn recently, but a food bank was also scorched.   I would advise local clients to hold a canned/dry food drive to benefit the food bank.  I would also advise them to offer some of their products or services to be awarded in a drawing to those who signed up on their mailing list. 

So, take a look around your town or city to see what is going on and what needs to be done.  With more folks not finding work for long periods of time, I think it's always good to do something for local food banks which are being hit harder than ever.

Another idea is to hold a toy drive and bring what you have collected over to a children's charity in your area.  Or if you are associated with any kind of "beauty" services for women, offer those services on a special day to women who are clients of the domestic abuse agency in your area. 

I think that it's probably common knowledge that when economic conditions decline, the rates of domestic violence rise, especially around the holidays.  One thing that I do is that I collect all those little shampoo and conditioner and the like bottles from my hotel stays.  In December, I gather them up and bring them over to the Sacramento Childrens Receiving Home.

And once you have made your plans, publicize the hell out of your events!  Get it posted on Facebook, Tweet about it and make sure that you post your news releases (which you should send out first) on the many free news release sites.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Side Saddle

Is how I'm picturing myself with this PR blog over the past few weeks.  Many things going on in the art wrold for me and in the personal world so that I have neglected you my dear readers for which I apologize.  Many thanks again to my good friend Jane Gassner for her guest post.  She is one smart cookie and a fabulous writer and I'm a lucky blogger to have her post for me!

I'm now in Portland Maine, a world away from Sacramento but close to the heart of my childhood home and a place I'm thinking of re-locating to.  So, just to call in yet another favor from Jane, I'm posting this link from her Tweet to me today.  It's a very timely and well written post that applies to all of us who have dance from one career to another.

Should we errant bloggers get a temporary B on our foreheads when we ignore our posts?  Maybe I'm only thinking this since I'm in "Scarlet Letter" territory.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Guest Post

Welcome to the Social Media pool 
where the water is quite warm
By Jane Gassner of MidLifeBloggers
Here are my social media bonafides:  first used the Internet in 1994; started blogging in 2004; signed up with Twitter in 2006; went on Facebook in 2007.  Those dates tell you one thing, that I’m an Early Adopter.  And that I’ve had to listen to a lot of people--friends and relatives--question, nay sneer, at my use of social media.  She who laughs last, etc etc and many of the sneerers are now friending me on Facebook or following me on Twitter.  They’ve gotten the word from the 21st century that the ways we communicate on both a personal and a professional level has changed.  
Still, I must admit I went through a period of disenchantment with both Twitter and Facebook.  For the latter, it was an overwhelming and seemingly endless stream of messages from people I had once considered quite bright--educated, serious, smart--calling out their need for a pig or a cattle trough or some such thing on a Facebook app called Farmville.  With Twitter, it was the onslaught of Tweets selling something, someone, somewhere crowding out the Twitter conversations I was used to having with people I knew. I was mad at both sites for a while, sulked some, but then I pulled up my Big Girl Panties and figured out a way to wrangle social media to serve my ends, rather than those of the nameless hordes.
One of those ends is marketing.  Social media has become the go-to place when you want to hit as wide an audience as possible.  Yes, hard-core marketers have already figured this out, but they’re not the only ones. Writers, artists, actors, filmmakers--those of us formerly confined to our garretts--are tapping in the spotlight of social media.
Several weeks ago, the Sacramento Social Media Club held a panel discussion featuring the ways in which artists of different genres are using social media to communicate with the public and enhance their sales. You can read the article I wrote about it on Sacramento Press here.  Suffice to say, the general message from all the artists was that social media is the way they connect with and broaden their audience
Last week, I was at a SITS blogging conference at which actress Jessica Bern talked about how she uses video blogging (vlogging) to enhance her career.   Voted one of the top ten humor bloggers of 2009, her series bernthis is a popular feature on Youtube.  Here’s some of what Jessica suggests when you’re planning a video of your work to post on Youtube:
  • Pick a detail of your work and build a story around it
  • Three minutes max is ideal--figure out a way to go as short as you can and still get your message across
  • You need movement, so find a prop that is appropriate
  • You can do multiple takes and then edit them together in one of the video-editing programs
  • Create your own Youtube channel that is set it so only your friends can see your videos and ask them to critique.
  • Last but not least:  Set a goal for your vlog and work toward it
Bottom line:  don’t be afraid of social media.  It really is your friend.  In fact some of the research being done now shows that contrary to the idea  that the web kills human interaction, using social media can create positive social bonding.  Paul J. Zak, director of the Center for Neruoeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University in California, is quoted in a recent NY Times article as saying:  “The Web is bringing businesses back down to the individual as the average company becomes smaller, more niche and specialized.  Paradoxically, the Web is moving us back to a human-centric business model.”
For those of us selling the fruits of our imaginations, that can only be a good thing.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Media Opportunities

It's always good to get on TV.  Now, thanks to my Irish Twitter friend saoireobrien, folks in the San Francisco Bay area and beyond have a new opportunity!

Only goes to show you that checking in on social media can offer you opportunities that you might not find elsewhere.  Unfortunately it doesn't look like they are too interested in fine art, unless it intersects with pop culture.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Back to Basics

If you're a baby boomer, you probably remember heading back to school AFTER Labor Day, as I do.  Why is it that out here in California, where you have no "snows days", they make everyone start in August before summer is rightfully over?  Can someone out there please explain this to me?

While you're thinking of that or researching it or whatever my little rant has spurred you to do, I'll be getting back to basics in the writing department by purchasing a new copy of the Holy Book for Journalists and Others who Want to Write in a Clear and Consise Style - "The Elements of Style" by Strunk and White.

I was listening to NPR the other day as they were discussing the "Wiki Leaks" business that you're probably sick of  hearing about by now - I know I am!  One of the women who called in started complaining about the misuse of language among our citizens and even members of the 4th Estate!  Yes, Virginia, back in the day when reporters actually developed stories and dug for information instead of turning a news-cast into an entertainment-cast, this is how members of the media described themselves!

This woman started to bad mouth the editors of the paper of record - The New York Times - where the editors apparently don't know when to use who or whom!  (Clue for NTY editors, simply substitute the word he for who and him for whom and you should be able to figure this out easily.)

Misuse of  language is one of my pet peeves.  I remember once asking a young grocery clerk why he used the word ain't.  He looked at me and just shrugged like a teenage boy would do in that circumstance.  I told him that I didn't think he looked like a dummy, but if he continued to misuse language that way he would be taken for one!  I'll never forget the shocked look that came over his face, as if either:  no one had ever been that honest with him or he couldn't believe some old broad was mouthing off to him.  Although I'd like to think I made a difference in a young person's life, I'm thinking he was probably thinking of the latter. 

"The Elements of Style" isn't just a book for journalists, but a book for everyone who writes.  Go on, go get yourself a copy!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Social Media Deja Vu

If you're a reader of this blog, you know that I've been hammering away at social media since I started writing.  I'm doing this because I think we have to change the ways we think about PR and media presence.  I'm not the only one either.  More and more consultants and businesses are realizing that having an effective presence on line via social media is almost more important (unless you sell things) than a website!

Case is point is HERE- where one of my favorite hotel chains (Joie De Vivre) is a test case for improved marketing using social media.  Last week while at a photography workshop (need any editorial or product photography?  give me a call!) some of the participants who run portrait studios and the like started talking about the time that it takes to keep up on social media.  This is when I pipped up and told them that they could hire a consultant such as myself to take that off their hands.

It even makes financial sense when you consider that someone who is doing this a great deal will spend less time doing it than you would. 

Friday, July 16, 2010

Corporate Biz Goes Gaga over Social Media

Thanks to my Tweep on Twitter who posted this link about corporations jumping all over the social media bandwagon - without truly knowing why!

Have a good weekend everyone and hope it's going to be cooler than here in the Sacramento Valley where today's expected 104 will beat yesterday's 100!

Back in the Saddle

After a short hiatus, we are back here at PR Insights.  The time that we have taken off has not been squandered, but spent in service to the arts and to education - traveling in Italy, art shows in Reno and here in Sacramento as well as a photographic workshop with the world-famous Elizabeth Opalenik in Santa Fe! 

What has inspired me to post again is the Apple iPhone 4 flap.  Apparently the device has an antennae built into the metal band around the phone.  The only problem is that when you hold the phone, you block the antennae.  One 2nd  hand news report has Apple chief Steve Jobs just telling people to hold it differently!??!.  Here's but one other reason I have for not joining the cult group of Apple fanatics, even though the iPhone looks pretty cool and I thought by now all the bugs would be dealt with.

So after a major mainstream media outlet like Consumer Reports gave it the thumbs down, the PR staff at Apple is FINALLY swinging into gear, but in their own selective way.  "Selected" media have been invited to a special news conference that is just getting underway now in Cupertino. 

Apple has gone through a transformation from the little David of the first Macs to the Goliath that it is today having a value bigger than Microshaft Microsoft.  The giant is now beginning to feel the pinch with Wired reporting that stock shares tumbled significantly on Wednesday morning. 

All because of neglecting a PR problem.  This would have turned out far differently I'm sure if the Apple executives had actually listened to consumer feedback.  Could this arrogance be caused by Apple getting a bit too big for it's britches?  If they had held a news conference open to ALL media IMMEDIATELY after getting several reports, this tale could have had a different ending. 

Let this be a warning to all businesses big and small - you will be in a good place in consumers minds if you immediately own up to a product's flaws.  Just remember the Toyota debacle.

Friday, April 2, 2010

News from Outer Space?

Ever wonder how news hounds track their prey, I mean get the information for their stories?  Apparently it's not just the police scanner anymore according to an article in Media Post.  Take a guess, come on!  If  you were to say social media, you would be partly right.  In a national survey by Cision and Don Bates of The George Washington University, it shows that 40% of journalists think social media is somewhat important to them as they do their jobs.   

While this isn't a huge majority, one must remember that the average age of the news room is getting younger as older works such as myself retire or are laid off.  This is not to say that only young people take to social media, but they use it more I think.  

What can this mean for PR practitioners?  To my way of thinking, it means that PR people need to not only get their stories to journalists but also to post them at social media sites.

I'll be on hiatus for the next several weeks as I'm going back to Bacau, Romania for the Star Gala produced by Teatrul Bacovia, a marvelous municipal theatre in that city.  If you'd like to follow my adventures, please go to my other blog.

See you back here in May!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring is in the Air

The folks at the big corporate PR and Ad Agencies are feeling the thaw, specifically when it comes to hiring.  According to Advertising Age, the big agencies are getting ready to hire again!  So if you're looking for a gig with some of the biggies, now might be the time to dust off that resume and get out there.

In the meantime, to keep your skill set fresh, why not do a little pro bono work for a nonprofit group?  There are many arts and social service groups that would love to have you help them.  Here in Sacramento, there is a group called the Arts + Business Council (check for a branch in your city) that specifically matches nonprofits with business folks.

Special thanks to Pat Frew on Linked In for  his post about an article in the Wall Street Journal about updating job skills. Also kudos to Lisa Gunggoll for her response to Pat about the article in Ad Age! I couldn't write this post without you folks helping me out!

And to all of you a Happy St Patrick's Day!  Remember it's not just about green beer, it's about those Black and Tans!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Must be Official

Once something hits the Harvard Business Review (HBR), does that make it official?  If so, social media as a new platform for PR and Marketing is now official.  Read the article HERE.  Special thanks to Tony Gates from the Sacramento Chapter Social Media Club for alerting me to this.

However, like all marketing and PR efforts, I think much depends upon where you are and who you are promoting.  Although maybe I will try it on my art page on Facebook !

Of course there are always tight ropes to balance on in the social world of cyberspace.  Another article in the HBR, also spelled out why I'm leery of getting anywhere near Google's latest stab in the social media marketplace called Buzz. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Non profit Media

If you are still one of the dinosaurs (like me) that subscribes to a daily newspaper, it’s no news to you that papers have changed, especially over the last five years.  Not only has the internet and social media been responsible for many of the changes, but there’s now something called Citizen Journalism – which to my mind is either a field day for PR folks like me or an excuse to get someone to write something and not to have to pay them.  OK, maybe I’m cynical.

But now we have another twist to the picture thanks to It's a site where folks can go to offer up some money in exchange for trying to get someone to cover a certain story.  Maybe you can call it Capitalistic Journalism? 

Actually it might be a very good idea for folks who want to suggest stories that are important to them that the media is currently ignoring.  For the community, the best part is that since they are non profit, you can deduct your donations to get a story funded.

Of course they are new and it looks as if only San Francisco and Los Angeles are covered by the site right now.  Here's hoping that they begin to spread their coverage to at least California's capital!  Actually what were they thinking about not including Sacramento? 

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

New PR Tools?

I just found out about a new resource for PR folks and for reporters - HARO, which stands for Help A Reporter Out.  It was created by Peter Shankman, who is not only a PR guy, but also a social media expert and a very respected dude who isn't bothered by having a photo taken of him with an elephant's trunk around his neck!  Looks like he could be fun to sit down and chat with over cocktails.  This free PR site originated as a FaceBook group.  It's devilishly simple:  reporters log on with queries on subjects they write about, then that info is put into an email which the folks that are members of HARO receive.  If anyone can offer information, they go to the HARO site and make their pitch to the reporters. 

Shankman will be the featured speaker for the Sacramento Public Relations Association or SPRA on February 25th at Sofia restaurant downtown.  I just hope the quality of the food has improved there.  Last time we went there a few years ago, it was dreadful.  But can anyone screw up Chicken Parmesean?  Details after the lunch, on both Shankman and the food quality.

The other breaking news is that Google is entering the social media field.  Now I could re-write the report from, just like the old days of re-writing AP wire copy, but have too much on my plate presently, so read all about it HERE.

Now time for you to chime in my friends.  Do you think that Google will surpass Facebook with this new Buzz?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

How to Write a Bad News Release

When I was in J School - journalism that is - we were taught a very formulaic way to write.  You are supposed to get the who, what, where, when and why all into the first paragraph.  Then each descending paragraph can expand upon each of the five Ws.  The reason being that editors cut from the bottom of stories to make sure that everything fits in the newspaper.  Of course radio writing is a different animal, but what's the sense of even talking about it now since the FCC has gutted the news business.

When I left the world of radio and print news to become a PR consultant, I decided that news releases would follow the same format.  In some of the small towns I sent the releases to, they ran them as is.  I wanted to make it easy for someone to just plug it in.

In radio, I saw some of the worst news releases, some of which even included photos!  Yeah, like we were going to describe the photos on the air.  What were they thinking?  Or perhaps it was they weren't thinking in the first place.

There really should be a news release hall of shame and now there is something of that ilk on the internet.  Paddy Johnson of the wonderful art blog Art Fag City, has risen to the challenge on the Hyperallergic blog !  Go on over there and vote for your take on the worst.  They are both pretty dreadful, full of silly art speak and other hyperbolic language.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Why PR is a Crap Shoot

I'm working with a new client these days who didn't get the information to me in time to meet a certain print deadline.  Sigh, I wish everyone would understand that we all have to hustle to meet deadlines.  Having worked in media, I can tell you that if I didn't get the information by 5 minutes before the newscast, it just wasn't getting in that broadcast.  Same is true of print media.  Luckily the internet is far more forgiving and once it's out there, it's there maybe forever, who knows.

Generally sending out a news release is always a crap shoot, sometimes there's room for your story, but many times other events, like the devastation of Haiti, will push your worthy story to the back burner.  Except on the internet!  This client is hosting a reading of a screenplay that he will produce down the road.  He wanted to get the word out to the community and not only have other writers/actors/industry types comments, but comments from regular folks.

I wrote the release and then posted it on as many internet outlets as I could find, thinking that even though we couldn't post it on the TV channels community calendars (they need the info at least 8 weeks in advance- rather like Public Service Announcements), I could post at other sites where folks would see it.

Probably three hours after I sent it out, I get an email from the client saying that he's already received several phone calls from people, some of whom might be interested in helping to fund the project!  I was astounded honestly for him to get that immediate response.  Generally PR, unless it's event related and time sensitive, takes a much longer time to have an impact.

And speaking of Haiti, please donate what you can.  I have a dear friend who works with a group called Map International, so they get the PR plug of the hour here on PR Insights.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Do you Hear Birds?

If you do, it might be that everyone around you is Twittering!  OK I know that was a very bad joke, but if I can't torture my small but growing audience with bad humor, who can I torture?  I admit that I'm still a new user of Twitter and am in the process of discovering how to use it for PR for clients and myself (must mention that I'm also a digital artist and photographer in addition to being a writer and PR consultant).

Matter of fact it was a Twitter message that led me to making this post. Thanks @DawnSandomeno, who I found after gawking around at my friend Margaret's Nanny Goats in Panties Twits.  It shows the genius of the site as a way to spark conversation and providing resources for many of us. 

Dawn listed the url to this article in the New York Times by David Carr.  I'm down with most of what he talks about except for surfing the web less often.  Maybe in time, I will be able to do that too.