Meet Deirdre Breakenridge, CEO of Pure Performance Communications and author of several ground-breaking books that redefine public relations and marketing in a world of social media - think PR 2.0. She frequently speaks about the 'hybrid PR professional', recommends what to know about social media and shares predictions about what PR will look like by 2015.
She has also just announced her latest book, “Social Media and Public Relations: Eight New Practices for the PR Professional,” due out in early 2012.
I particularly enjoy that Deirdre uses a multitude of content formats to share her passion for public relations and social media - from books, to the Deirdre Breakenridge PR 2.0 Strategies Blog, video and #PRStudChat, a monthly Twitter Chat which has evolved into a "dynamic community of public relations professionals, educators and students who share a common goal; to leverage social media in a meaningful way that will help bridge the gap between the academic and professional environments." Plus, she's based in New Jersey!
I recently caught up with Deirdre to ask her questions about her company, her latest book, #PRStudChat and the PR + social media transformation.
C.B.: Deirdre, please tell me about yourself and Pure Performance Communications.
DB: I’ve been in PR and Marketing for over 20 years. I was one of those high school students who knew what they wanted to do in college, and then stayed the course many years later. I always say, besides the time I spend with my family, I eat, breathe, and sleep public relations, marketing and social media. I also use my writing (books and my blog) as a means to share my passion with others.
Most of my journey in communications was spent working on the agency side. I loved the thrill of deadlines and the crazy agency life. For those who have worked in an agency, you can relate to how the extremely creative people you meet and the interesting projects make the long hours and hard work an incredibly fun experience.
However, after owning and running a marketing communications firm for over 14 years, in 2011, I “turned the page” to start a new consulting venture. Pure Performance Communications formed to help businesses move their audiences from interest to action, by transforming messages into strategic business communications. Pure Performance focuses on innovative and collaborative technology to create more interactive engagement between brands and the public.
C.B.: What was the inspiration behind your latest book?
DB: The inspiration behind my new book, “Social Media and Public Relations: Eight New Practices for the PR Professional,” is the changing PR landscape and new opportunities for professionals who are willing to accept additional roles and responsibilities. My book should be available in February or March 2012, in all digital formats as well as print on demand.
In some cases, the new practices highlighted in the book crystallize what’s naturally occurring within our own organizations and the changes we experience daily through social media. In other cases, there will be new areas for PR people to develop and carry forward in their organizations as champion organizers, rallying others to think strategically and to embrace new practices. PR is changing and professionals have an opportunity to claim - or maybe I should say reclaim - their strategic value. PR professionals should have a permanent spot at the strategy table and they should also have a direct line to the CEO of a company.
C.B.: Describe for us the PR expansion movement? How has PR expanded and how has technology and social media forced that change?
DB: The PR expansion movement revitalized our industry allowing us to move from communications liaisons and handlers to influencers and champions through social media and democratized content. PR has expanded in many ways and technology and consumer behavior have forced the change. Consumer generated media allowed the public to really become a part of the conversation, which caused PR professionals to rethink how their companies approached communications. They had to create new ways to interact directly with people, one-on-one, to build relationships rather than using broadcast messages.
As technology continues to advance, consumers will be further empowered to engage more directly with their favorite brands, but only with those brands that are able to capture their attention, by providing valuable information. Social media allows companies to tell a much more human and customized story, allowing brands to forge deeper connections and to create loyal customer advocates.
C.B.: You refer to 8 new practices for PR pros in your book title. What are those and how do they differ from traditional PR?
DB: The eight new practices are the result of how social media requires PR professionals to think differently about communication to build long-term relationships that lead to valuable business outcomes for their brands. The eight practices include:
- PR Policymaker
- Internal Collaboration Generator
- COMMS Organizer
- PR Tech Tester
- Pre-Crisis Doctor
- Relationship Analyzer
- Reputation Task Force Member
- Master of the Metrics
For example, the PR professional who takes on the new practice of a Pre-Crisis Doctor isn’t just called upon to manage crisis and neutralize a situation. These PR professionals proactively work to prevent crisis by setting up systems and procedures that are integrated into a company’s overall crisis plan.
Another example is the practice of Relationship Analyzer, who doesn’t just build a relationship with an audience, but learns to use technology to really understand the behavior, dynamics, and connections that are made between people as well as consumer advocates and their brands. The Relationship Analyzer knows how to enhance stakeholder engagement, moving more quickly from awareness to loyalty and advocacy.
A third example is the PR Policymaker, where PR professionals are involved in the social media policy development for their companies. In some cases they are spearheading the process or they join a team of social media visionaries who help to guide employee communication through social channels (a practice different than any policymaking in the organization in the past).
The knowledge, skills and abilities of each practice may differ from traditional PR practices, yet all of the practices have to integrate. Today, traditional, digital and social media communications must integrate to reach people with information that’s useful to them.
[Note: read more about eight social PR roles in this blog article.]
C.B.: Why are these 8 practices important to businesses?
DB: The eight practices help a business to better prepare internally for social media communications, which leads to better external communications. The saying, “If it doesn’t work on the inside, it won’t work on the outside,” applies to social media. What most executives don’t realize is that social media must start on the inside of the company.
Many of the new practices help professionals to understand their role in the research, testing, and implementation of new technology and processes, and also how to empower people to collaborate and innovate together. When social media works on the inside it leads to better social media interactions with the public.
In addition, each practice is strategic and helps the business to clearly identify what it needs at various stages of social media planning from monitoring and measurement to channel selection, content optimization and better engagement strategies. When these practices are in place, valuable resources are note expended on programs that fall short of expectations.
To Be Continued in Part II.
What do you think about social media and public relations? Have you already noticed an evolution taking place in your organization?
From all of us at Simple Marketing Now to all of you, we wish you a Simply Wonderful Thanksgiving filled with friends, family, good stories, fun times and delicious food!
Thank you for being part of the stories being told on this site and sharing your insights and questions.
Image credit: Fall Leaves by Sponselli on Flickr.
If you're ready, let's focus on blogs and evaluating blogs for business. I've even created a Top Ten Tip Sheet on the subject - link at the end of this blog article.
If you've just come across this series, it continues the thoughts expressed in Getting Started With Social Media Marketing and Getting Started: Social Media, Content Marketing, Nov 2011 Newsletter, which urge you to create a daily Google calendar or Outlook reminder to spend 15 minutes every day exploring and immersing yourself online and in social media.
I believe intensely in the value of blogs for business [check out Why Blogs For Business? For Content That Connects With Customers]. Blogs are also critical to getting found online and inbound marketing. However, before you immerse yourself in a blog, it's a good idea to go check some out and experience what makes a good one and a not so good one.
- First step is to pick a topic of interest to you and go explore. I recommend a topic that you know about so you can calibrate your exploration results.
- Once you have your topic, go check out what Google blog search, alltop.com and Technorati.com offer as results.
If you're in the flooring related business, you might want to check out the blogs I've included in the November 2011 update to the Social Flooring Index.
As you explore the results of your blog searches, monitor your reactions. Do you like what you see? Is the content well written? What kinds of links do you notice? Are they to legitimate sources and do they help make sense of the topic? Or, are they self-serving? How frequently is content published? Is there a person behind the content? Or is it somewhat cold and impersonal? Would you value receiving updates from this source? Do you trust what you read?
The reason you want to explore and monitor your reactions to these blogs is so you can evaluate what makes a legitimate blog for business and determine what kind of a blog your customers might want to read and subscribe to. After all, if you're going to go to the trouble of establishing a blog and publishing fresh content on a consistent basis, wouldn't you rather have it be content that prospects and customers value?
Does that make sense?
I've organized my recommendations for evaluating blogs for business into 10 Tips for Evaluating a Blog which you can download by clicking on this link and leaving your email address.
Let me know what you discover. Which are your favorite blogs? What kind of blog do you think your customers would respond to?
In Getting Started: Social Media, Content Marketing, Nov 2011 Newsletter, I recommend setting aside 15 minutes per [business] day - consistently - to become immersed online. As you do this, you'll experience the following three stages:
Three Stages to Getting Started with Social Media
1. At first, this time getting started will be spent exploring, reading, listening, observing and understanding the different tools of social media marketing.
2. After a while doing that, you'll notice that you're more comfortable. You'll know your way about the different social media tools and can easily subscribe for updates, evaluate the quality of the source or search on topics of interest.
3. Soon after that, you'll realize that this ongoing time commitment has become part of your everyday activity and important to your productivity. You'll have developed a routine that includes scanning for updates from your favorite resources, commenting on blogs, and engaging with followers on Twitter or LinkedIn. You will have become fluent in how to use the tools of social media marketing for your business.
Social Media: a Foreign Land with its Own Culture
Taking the take to explore and become immersed in social media matters because in many ways you are entering into a foreign land, with its own language, rules and culture. You need to understand the ins/outs, not because you plan to relocate there, but rather so you get the most out of it, and realize that this vibrant land is one you want to come back to repeatedly...
Foreign for Many Businesses Because it's Social!
What makes social media marketing 'foreign' for many businesses is that, unlike traditional advertising and marketing, it encourages interaction or conversation, and easy sharing of content amongst people.
Although Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. can be used in traditional ways, these tools are most effective when used for relationship building. Unlike traditional tools, they are based on people-to-people interaction rather than business-to-people. That means that they are particularly effective for businesses wanting to show their human side and establish trustworthiness, which is increasingly something only people can do and impersonal businesses struggle with.
Why Getting Started With Social Media Marketing Matters
Here's why getting started matters. Even if you bring in an interpretor or social media travel guide with you, you want to experience some of this yourself. You want to know what makes Facebook different from Twitter. You want to know what it means to engage and interact with fans and followers. You want to appreciate how to add value to the conversation and the perils associated with spamming [i.e., shouting traditional marketing messages].
Otherwise, how can you ever get it right or direct someone on behalf of your company?
Comments, feedback, reactions? For those of you in the social know, what were your first aha! moments when you were getting started with social media marketing? What would you recommend that someone starting out fresh be thinking of?
Thanks for reading!
P.S.: If you haven't already, consider downloading my Getting Started with Social Media Guide.
Image courtesy: St. Mary's Health System
I'm so pleased to share with you highlights from the November 2011 issue of the Simple Marketing Now Newsletter which focuses on Getting Started with Social Media and Content Marketing.
You can receive it directly by subscribing to our monthly mailing list.
Here are a few highlights... to get you thinking. Feel free to ask questions and share your tips!
How to get started with social media and content marketing comes up frequently. Do you remember how you got started? What did you do first? What did you find most helpful? How did you manage the chaos stemming from so much new information?
My favorite advice - advice that I apply to myself - is to take small consistent steps and to use technology to help manage those small steps.
- Create a daily Google calendar or Outlook reminder so you spend 15 minutes every day exploring and immersing yourself online and in social media.
If you haven't already, you might find the Simple Marketing Now's Get Started with Social Media Guide helpful.
From the Content Talks Business Blog:
Given the focus on 'getting started', you may find these October articles interesting:
[Shameless Plug: If you haven't already, consider subscribing to the Content Talks Business Blog !]
Proud About Bathroom Blogfest 2011!
Did you follow the sixth annual Bathroom Blogfest? It took place the last week in October with over 30 bloggers in the US, Canada, the UK and Dubai who published 45 articles addressing the theme of "Climbing Out" from a wide range of blog perspectives. Participating bloggers represented diverse areas of focus ranging from flooring, kitchen & bath, interior design, tile and tile contracting, retail experience, customer experience, qualitative research, social media and more. It's an amazing event to be part of and, from what we've heard, to experience. We'd love your reactions!
Bathroom Blogfest 2012 is scheduled for the last week in October 2012. If you would like to be included, let me know.
Final Getting Started Thoughts:
Don't forget to get started with small, consistent steps: schedule 15 minutes per day to explore and immerse yourself in social media. Read the content you come across. Ask yourself what you like and don't like about what you find. Then, let me know what you discover.
Thank you for reading! Have a wonderful November.
Communities and the role they play in connecting with customers fascinates me. If you, as a business, have no connection with anyone in your community - think mail delivery person, UPS driver, bank representive, Church/Synagogue members, town council, store keepers - how can you connect with potential customers? And, yet, I see that pattern repeated frequently online.
Have you noticed the same?
My most recent reminder comes from the just updated Social Flooring Index, an analysis I started in August 2009 to monitor the social state of the flooring Industry, which I consider pre-digital, and not intuitively attuned to online collaboration and interaction, or elevating content conversations.
Using eCairn Conversation™, a social media monitoring, analysis and targeting platform, I map out the online flooring community, identify influencers and conversations, and monitor results. The ranking is based on relevance within the community [a function of traffic data, interaction with the community, followers and relevance to flooring].
The November 2011 Social Flooring Index series includes:
Overall, the flooring industry blogs included in the Social Flooring Index are not closely networked. In fact, if you removed the 18 high and medium influence blogs, the resulting blogs appear completely disconnected and in no way representative of a community.
In other words, the majority of flooring industry blogs created don't have a clue what it means to be part of an online community. Wow.
A few days ago, I asked on Twitter how important community was to those participating in social media. Arpi Nalbandian, editor of Tile Magazine and an influencer in the Social Floor Index responded "very". No surprise, she gets it!
What I find perplexing is, why don't more in the floor covering industry? Why don't more realize that, by not being part of the community, they are diminishing their opportunities to connect with customers?
Although I'm picking on flooring [understandable given how intense the past few days have been finalizing the Social Flooring Index for November 2011], other industries are in the same boat.
So, how do we change this? How can we make the benefits of belonging to online communities more apparent and the losses from not being involved more obvious?
Here's additional food for thought to share: the level of conversations taking place within communities:
|Social Media/Content Marketing
|Social Flooring Index
and also the level of involvement beyond the blog and with other social networks:
Facebook Page %
|Social Media/Content Marketing
|Social Flooring Index
What are you reactions?
To be fair, more conversations does not necessarily mean more connection. The Mobile/Technology community tends to be intensely focused on producing late-breaking content at a frenetic pace, without a great deal of interaction. Most of those blog owners tend to be hard to contact directly. They publish, but don't necessarily engage.
I'm surpised to see Facebook profiles promoted on blogs [that's my bias: I consider Facebook personal profiles -well - personal] whereas LinkedIn profiles are not.
Twitter profiles are the easiest of the networks to establish a profile on. How surprising, though, that the Food community has the lowest Twitter percentage!
I welcome your interpretation...
Thanks for reading!
Note: Tables created using Tableizer
Image credit: Involvement.co.UK
On October 25th, 2011, I met with Columbia Business School's Centers and Programs Group to share best social media practices and online marketing advice. David Rogers [see The Network Is Your Customer by David Rogers] joined me, sharing perspective gained as Executive Director of the Center on Global Brand Leadership. After our formal comments, we participated in a Q&A moderated by Brett Essler, web editor for CBS.
The event was great fun with plenty of discussion and thoughtful questions. You see, Columbia Business School has already established a robust Facebook Fan Page and YouTube channel [including a successful series called Ask Admissions], Twitter account, Flickr group, and iTunes playlists [note: may want to launch iTunes].
Many of Columbia Business School's Centers have established Facebook and Twitter presences and are in the midst of figuring out what makes most sense given each's distinct area of focus. The Centers, by the way, provide a bridge between business theory and practice; they've become an important part of the MBA experience.
The online marketing advice I shared addressed what I consider critical to social media success. Namely,
- Establish goals
- Be willing to interact, engage and experiment as people rather than as brands or institutions
- Remember that each network is different. Don't think of social media as a broadcast medium.
- Integrate efforts around a hub [ideally a blog on your website]
- Produce remarkable and relevant content consistently. Social platforms are hungry mouths to feed! Know what's important to your audience and what's appropriate to specific social networks
- This is a long term commitment: a marathon rather than a sprint
I also brought up these strategic questions that every business [or Center] should ask itself:
- What are you about? What value do you offer audiences? [Be sure to listen intensely!]
- Who is your audience? [Develop personas.]
- What action would you like your audience to take? [What are your goals?]
- How is your audience finding you now? What are your most effective search terms/keywords? Where is your audience congregating now?
- What does success look like? How will you manage content and engagement?
What would you add to either of these lists?
Can you imagine how an educational institution might leverage the rich academic content environment and extended community to create engagement using social media and online marketing? How might you do it? It's certainly different from the experience I had as a student, but one I would find hugely relevant! Talk about bringing theory and practice to life! Wouldn't an ongoing Twitter chat series with specific professors be interesting?
Thank you Caroline Hasegawa and Katrina Barnas for inviting me!
In this 'How to Use LinkedIn' article, I'd like to address backing up your contacts.
Have you given any thought to backing-up your LinkedIn contacts? I hadn't, until recently.
Last week, I received a LinkedIn invitation to connect with Liana Evans [see Liana Evans Blends Social Media & Search For Greater Marketing Impact]. I really like Liana, so I was delighted to connect. At the same time, I was surprised that I hadn't already connected with her.
Liana explained that her LinkedIn account had been hacked. She had successfully re-established her LinkedIn account, but every single contact had been wiped out!
Oh, my - did that ever get my attention!
I realized that I've never backed up my contacts. For that matter, I'd never given it a thought.
Perhaps you haven't either - and you may be inspired to do so if I show you how.
Consequently, here are the steps for backing up your LinkedIn contacts.
1. In your LinkedIn profile, go to Contacts. You'll notice in the bottom, right hand corner a clickable option to "Export connections". Click on "Export connections".
2. You will be taken to a new page focused on Exporting your LinkedIn connections.
You have several format options including Microsoft Outlook (.csv file), Outlook Express (.csv file), Yahoo! Mail (.csv file), MAC OS X Address Book (.vcf file) and vCard (.vcf file). Pick the format that's right for you. I chose Microsoft Outlook.
3. I went through a security verification process.
4. I saved the file, adding "Nov11" to the filename and changing the destination folder.
5. Success per the confirmation message! Note the expanded directions for importing my LinkedIn contacts into Outlook.
You'll be able to open the .csv file to double-check the contents of the file. With minor changes, you can import the .csv file with your LinkedIn connections into other applications such as an email program or a CRM application like salesforce.com.
Have you backed up your LinkedIn contacts? How have you used the file generated? Any watchouts?
I'd love to hear!
Have you noticed how trust has become a really big deal for customers - more than ever? Yet, I see examples online that either express complete disregard for trust-building, or are signs that business owners aren't aware that their online marketing does not communicate trust to prospects.
In the same spirit that shared with you how to do bad social media, I detail for you how not to build trust online based on examples I've come across in my website travels.
As always, I invite you to add to the list.
1. If you haven't yet, you should explore all 11 examples detailed in How To Do Bad Social Media.
2. Take to heart the 7 online marketing advice tips about using social icons.
3. Make sure you understand what goes into bad SEO techniques.
4. I'm always intrigued with how businesses deal with multiple locations. I love seeing website pages that legitimately describe a store or office location, include photos and even add photos of the people who manage the location. I run away from sites that include web pages for non-existant locations and stuff the page with nonsensical words that have nothing to do with the business, the location or anything of interest to a potential customer.
5. Customer endorsements matter. However, I get suspicious when every endorsement has the same publish date. I'd rather see reviews over time.
6. The 'About Us' section of a website often disappoints me. I want to see pictures of the company principals. I want to read about the business and its reason for being. I want to see signs of intense passion for the business and customers. An impersonal 'about us' page worries me, particularly if I see no active blog.
7. An active blog represents a trust building goldmine for a business with an online presence. Be sure that your blog captures the passion you feel for your business and customers. Include a photo of who's blogging. Be human and approachable in your blog articles. An impersonal blog communicates to readers that you don't care. If you don't care, why should anyone trust you?
8. Do pay attention to your copyright information. Is it up to date? Is it relevant? Is it yours?
9. Periodically check that your links - particularly important ones - aren't broken. I am grateful to visitors and friends who let me know when mine have issues [special hat tip to Bill Buyok at Avente Tile].
10. Think about what you want visitors to your website to do. Not all come to your site ready to buy. If your site focuses heavily on a hard sell message, you will drive away prospects. If you're looking to encourage visitors to browse and get to know you, figure out how to make them feel comfortable and willing to spend time getting to know you. As you might in real life...
Your turn. What have you come across in online marketing that doesn't build trust? What have you found effective for creating trust? What online marketing advice would you share?
Let me know in the comments.
Image credit: Trust... Something that im loosing. By LifeHouseDesign on Flickr.