Eric Bryant

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    • Member Type(s): Communications Professional
      Media - Other
    • Title:Director
    • Organization:Gnosis Arts Media Group
    • Area of Expertise:Online Marketing, Digital PR
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    • Member:ProfNet

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    Hulksmash + Media = Not Good PR!

    Sunday, October 7, 2012, 11:30 AM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Commentary by Angelica Garcia-Hennings, Communications Intern of Gnosis Media Group. gnosisarts.com/home/Services

    The video is a clip from the off-the-air television show "West-Wing", Season 1, Episode 1, 1999-2000, written and produced by Aaron Sorkin, directed by Thomas Schlamme and John Wells.

    It identifies the importance of choosing your words wisely when addressing the public. Josh made an offensive statement about religious conservatives. He wanted a "cheap laugh" but his words ironically cost him a lot.

    As PR professionals you must keep in mind that your words do not just represent you, but your company and people connected to you. William Shakespeare said "Words once spoken have wings." You cannot take back what you said - especially if the media gets a hold of your statements. Take every effort to be educated in the realms of the culture, demographic, class, and characteristics of the publics you are addressing. If unwise words slip from your mouth, the best you can do is manage the situation and steer away from the negativity.

    The media tend to uphold themselves as a guardian of public interest. If words or body language are misinterpreted, your client's reputation is at risk. The media is democratic in terms of they allow the public to discuss and participate in deciding what your reputation will be. They will ultimately provoke the discussions and control the public's opinion. If you issue any kind of offensive statement, joke or gesture that is unclear the media may "fan the flames" of discord by taking sides, emphasizing prejudices, muddling the facts and peddling half-truths.

    Josh's words potentially cost him his job—look for the next episode. His apology also has no value to Mary. She is a lobbyist whose job has now been made harder due to his statement. Josh now has a label on him and every word from that point on will always be compared or related to his offensive statement, if the media decides to do so.

    Some tips for reputation management:

    1. Pre-plan to deal with crisis and opportunity before it happens
    2. Do not avoid public criticism (openly acknowledge and proactively respond, do not let the media and public snowball assumptions and spread the fire)
    3. Publish positive online articles and social media profiles that outperform negative results in search engines
    4. Keep your cool (no Hulksmash nonsense)
    5. Never forget ( learn from your mistakes, we are human)

    Are Free Press Release Submission Sites Worth It?

    Saturday, July 14, 2012, 1:20 PM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    By

    Many small businesses utilize free press release sites to publicize their news, products and services. But how effective are these services? The answer is: It depends.

    The effectiveness of a free press release depends primarily on what you are trying to accomplish. You need to first ask yourself: What is my main objective for submitting this press release. In our experience, free press release submission can be beneficial for achieving certain objectives, but not so effective for accomplishing others.

    Some common publicity objectives are:

    1. To obtain media coverage in a publication (whether digital or print)

    2. To get a lot of traffic to the main business website

    3. To be seen by relevant searchers

    4. To rank highly for target keyword phrases in the search engines

    5. To produce a conversion action of some sort (e.g.,  a signup, subscription, contacting the business, making a purchase)

    6. To generate backlinks

    7. To "fill your clips portfolio" for a client who has a relatively small budget

    These aren't the only reasons why you might submit a press release, but these are a few of the more common ones. To understand the value of a free press release, you need to understand how well a particular submission service achieves one or more of the above objectives. In order to determine that, you need to know what you're getting in a particular free press release distribution service.

    For example, some free press release sites are not Approved Google News Sites. This means that the press releases published to the site's newsroom do not get fed into the Google News Search Engine. As a result, your press release may not get very much visibility. Many journalists and bloggers utilize Google Alerts and receive press releases from Google News based on the keywords they are monitoring. So, if your press release doesn't get into Google News, your chances of being seen by a journalist are lower than those that do get into Google News. Therefore, if your goal is to get earned media coverage (see gnosisarts.com/home/PR_Dictionary), at the very least you will want to ensure that the site's pressroom is Google News Approved. You can do this by visiting Google News and typing in,

    site:domain.name into the search bar (replace "domain.name" with the newsroom's actual domain name. It is also important not to put a space between the ":" and the "d" to get the most exhaustive results).

    Our newsroom - Press Releases Online - is an Approved Google News Site, and all of our press releases get picked up by the Google News engine. (see s.gnoss.us/nshtn). Generally speaking, press release that make it into Google News will receive greater traffic than those which don't, another reason to verify Google News inclusion.

    Moreover, if traffic is your goal, you'll want to find out whether the press release site offers any social media sharing. With most free press release services, they don't share your press release to Twitter, Facebook, or other social media sites. Social sharing can increase traffic to your press release, and by extension, to your website. It also increases the likelihood that other sites will link to your press release, according to recent studies. Our press release submission site, while not free, is very low-cost, and social media sharing is included in our options (see gnosisarts.com/home/Submit_Press_Release...).

    If your goal is to be seen by people searching for your particular products or services, generally speaking free press release services won't get you there. This is because they don't usually come with an SEO option, and you need SEO in order to get your press release in front of people searching by keyword phrases. We offer a very inexpensive SEO press release service, that targets searchers by keyword you select. Currently we are offering a 50% discount on this service, if you purchase through our SaveLocal deal. Interestingly, in terms of media coverage, some of our SEO press releases do get the attention of niche bloggers and forum moderators. These bloggers and moderators often do their own independent write up of our clients, thus increasing their visibility.

    Sometimes what you're looking for in a press release is a conversion. You may be publicizing a new product launch, for instance, and you want people to sign up to try it or contact you for more information. Free press release can work well for this, but not always. It depends on three factors: 1. how appealing the content is written and 2. whether the audience most likely to try the product sees the press release and 3. whether there is a compelling enough call to action within the press release.

    Again, because free press release sites don't generally allow you the ability to target granularly enough, they often will fail to produce significant results. We offer a press release service where embed a QR Code into your press release. This helps facilitate conversions. This type of press release, combined with the SEO press release, both gets your news in front of interested searchers, and then motivates them to convert with the QR code once they arrive.

    In sum, the effectiveness of a free press release submission service depends a good deal on what you want to get out of the service. As the familiar saying goes, "You get what you pay for." Free press releases are okay if you are just trying to generate a few backlinks to your website, or if you are working for a client who just needs to see a large volume of clippings on a shoestring budget. However, free press release sites generally won't take care of the heavy lifting of marcomm.

    Carving Out A Niche in Nonprofit Public Relations, Gnosis Media Group Continues to Grow Its Text-to-Donate Services

    Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 6:17 PM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Gnosis Media Group establishes new partnerships with Friends of the Bronx Charter School for Excellence, Ayden Rae Foundation, and Khadarlis of Sierra Leone to offer these nonprofits affordable Text-to-Pledge Services

    By
    – Gnosis Media Group, an Internet PR firm in the Greater NYC area, has been developing a text message donation service that has gained significant interest from nonprofits around the nation. The firm offers an effective alternative to conventional short code or SMS fundraising technology. Its service, said firm officials, fills a much-needed gap in the market.

     

    "Startup, small and medium-sized nonprofits are just simply not being served by text to donate providers," said Barbara Bryant, chief of operations for Gnosis Media Group. "Our market research has found that most of the text donation providers are over-priced, have too much red tape, and impose too many rules and restrictions." 

     

    With the news spreading that there is a text-to-pledge service available to small colleges and nonprofit organizations at a lower cost, partnerships with Gnosis Media Group for the service are rapidly increasing.

     

    "Nonprofits need a mobile texting service that makes getting started easy on them," Bryant said. "Our developers have worked for the past year to provide development directors with a solution to these problems. And I'm confident we've built it. With one short one-page contract and two small payments, we can have you fully operational in less than 20 minutes."

     

    The Friends of the Bronx Charter School for Excellence (FBCSE) (www.nycharities.org/donate/c_donate.asp?...), and Khadarlis of Sierra Leone (khadarlis.org) have recently started using the service. In fact, FBCSE utilized the service for the first time last night during a fundraiser. They garnered nearly $7200 in pledges in just three hours, according to a firm official.

     

    The Ayden Rae Foundation (www.AydenRaeFoundation.org) is also utilizing the text to pledge service. The foundation provides support for life-saving efforts in advocating and improving patient care for HG patients, education, research, and reaching populations at risk from Hyperemesis Gravidarum. 

     

    Vanessa Pack, chief executive officer, says that she researched for months trying to find affordable text donation solutions.

     

    “We started looking into our options and mobile text-to-donate was something that really caught our attention. Sadly, we only considered this option for about 2 minutes because once we saw the cost to actually have such a campaign we knew we were out of our league. This was until we were introduced to Gnosis Media Group, they make it possible for smaller non-profits to benefit from this amazing mobile fundraising opportunity, they believe in truly helping others and aiding in seeing the non-profits they support, accomplish their mission and goals,” she explained.

     

    “Gnosis Media Group has opened doors for the Ayden Rae Foundation that we once thought were not feasible,” said Pack. “The majority of Text-to-Give campaigns are limited by phone carriers to nonprofits with fundraising revenues over $500K.”

     

    Blue Sky Bridge (blueskybridge.org) is one of the most influential family advocacy nonprofits in Colorado. The center provides support services to child victims of physical and sexual abuse and non-offending family members.

     

    “For an organization our size, finding a cost-effective way to offer texting services for donations was incredibly important,” said Nia Wassink, development director for Blue Sky Bridge. “Working with Gnosis Media Group, we’ve been able to launch a text-to-pledge campaign that meets our organization’s needs, raises funds, and shows our tech-forwardness to supporters. They have been wonderful to work with and so supportive of our efforts!” 

     

    For more details or to sign up for the service, visit the firm's website at gnosisarts.com/home/SMS_Fundraising or call 908.443.1665.

     

     

    Wikipedia's Tenuous Relationship With Public Relations Pros

    Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 10:36 AM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    I chose this clip, quite honestly, because of our rocky history as a PR firm with Wikipedia ( see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Sunflowergal3... for starters). My wife said to me one day, while I was embroiled in heated debate with some Wikipedia editor, that Wikipedians remind her of the folks on the LemonLyman.com website. Ha! Ha! And this clip expresses the sentiment that I have felt towards the Wikipedia community, for some time. And not just me, but a lot of other people as well.

    However, mainly I chose this clip because it is instructive on how to deal (or not to deal) with online social media communities as a public official.

    The clip is instructive really for anyone who acts as a spokesperson or representative of a corporation, organization or institution that influences and interacts with the public online.

    Oh, I could offer pages worth, tomes worth, of commentary comparing aspects of the dictatorial moderators of LemonLyman.com to the legalistic and hypocritical editors of Wikipedia. But ... I don't have enough space for a dissertation! Suffice it to say that every single emotion that Josh Lyman (played by Bradley Whitford) felt about the LemonLyman folks, I've felt about Wikipedians at one time or another.

    Where did Josh go wrong? In short, where Josh Lyman went wrong was when he said to Donna Moss (played by Janel Maloney), "I think I need to clarify my previous post." Why? Because you can't reason with hypocrites, and you can't clarify arguments to irrationals.

    But one public relations organization is determined to take a whack at it anyway. As you may or may not know, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) - one of the leading public relations trade associations in the UK - is currently engaged in an advocacy initiative with Wikipedia ( see conversation.cipr.co.uk/posts/jane.wilso...). CIPR's leadership is drafting best practice guidelines for PR professionals to work with Wikipedia editors. (More details on this can be found at uk.wikimedia.org/wiki/Draft_best_practic...). In the best traditions of our profession, CIPR is trying to forge a mutually beneficial relationship between PR consultants and Wikipedians. To do that, CIPR's engaging in public dialogue, rhetoric and debate in the hopes that such will win over the hearts and minds of the Wikipedia community and the leadership of the Wikimedia Foundation, Wikipedia's oversight organization.

    To know why this initiative is so monumental requires one to understand just how much Wikipedians loathe any monied interest or ideological whitewashing influencing their encyclopedia. What progress they will make, of course, remains to be seen. Despite my own misgivings about the success potential of this initiative, I do admire the work CIPR is doing on this front. I also think that, on some level, the success or failure of this initiative will say just as much about PR's shortcomings, as it will about Wikipedia's.

    My personal feeling is that, as C. J. Cregg (Alison Janney) said and our firm experienced, CIPR is going to run into "the cast from one flew over the cuckoo's nest" when they attempt "to clarify their previous posts."

    How to Determine Exactly Which Google Display Network Site Delivered a Conversion

    Saturday, April 28, 2012, 3:06 PM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Or How to Track the Original (or First) Referrer of a Conversion using Google Analytics

    (NOTE: In case you can't read the images below, the original post can be found here)

    The purpose of this post is to answer one specific question: How to find out exactly which Google Adwords Display Network site was responsible for a conversion recorded in the Goal Funnel Visualization section in Google Analytics.

    Now, I am sure there is more than one way to do this. I am sure there are cleaner, easier, simpler methods of doing this than my way. But as my Indian coding brothers like to say, "I didn't found one" - not one that worked consistently and under all cases, at least. Admittedly, this way is a bit complicated, consists of a lot of steps, and isn't all that intuitive. But it works. Our team spent two days researching, testing, tweaking, over many different test cases. So, we're confident it works and are excited to share it with you.

    Can't You do This With Adwords Conversion Tracking?

    Supposedly, you can do this with Adwords Conversion Tracking, as Brad Geddes explains here. However, we needed to do this for a client account, which complicates things. In order for Conversion Tracking to work, you have to be able to link your Adwords and Analytics accounts (I think). But you can only do this if the Adwords and Analytics account are under the same Google Account credentials .. or something. At any rate, we couldn't figure out how to do it this way. We are managing the client's Adwords campaign inside our own Adwords account, but the client is sharing the analytics data with us from inside their own Analytics account. So, linking the two - we couldn't figure out how to do that. (I don't even think it's possible when the Adwords and Analytics accounts have different usernames, but if someone else knows how, by all means, share!)

    What You Will Need

    1. The Filter Manager - You will need to create two custom filters which we will show you later.
    2. Manual URL Tagging - with a slight modification
    3. Javascripts mentioned below
    4. A webserver to upload a .js file to be called remotely

    The Steps

    1. Add the GA Initial Referrer .js file to your webserver. You can find the script on our website here. (Note: Please ignore the other scripts and samples on this page; this is a testing page we use to house some coding we're working on). Kudos to John Henson at LunarMetrics, Brad at the ROI Revolution Blog, and Brian Clifton's first referrer tracking scripts. Scroll down to the section called "GA Initial Referrer Script". Copy this to a text file, rename the .txt extension to a .js extension, and upload to your webserver. Remember the path because you will need it later.

    2. Add the GA Initial Referrer Script 2 .js script to the web pages you want to track. You can find the script on the same page as in # 1, in the section titled "GA Initial Referrer Script 2". Add this just above your existing Google Analytics tracking scripts, on all pages. You may even add this script on your confirmation pages as well. Your revised tracking script should look like this:

    Google Analytics Tracking Script, Revised to Track Initial Referrer

    Note that you will need change the path of the first line of html_removed

    3. Create a filter to view the conversion referrer. The filter looks like this:

    See Conversion Referrer URL Filter

    What this fliter does is takes the value in utm_medium of a manually tagged URL and rewrites it to the utm_source value. Later on you will see why this filter is needed when we get down to how you're supposed to manually tag the URL. For ease of reading, the values for the above filter are

    • Filter Type: Custom -> Advanced
    • Field A: Campaign Medium -> ^(cpc|ppc)$
    • Field B: Referral -> ^https?://([^/]+)/
    • Output To: Campaign Source -> $B1
    • Field A required: Yes
    • Field B required: Yes
    • Override Output Field: Yes
    • Case Sensitive: No

    By the way, you can find the place in Google Analytics to create such a filter here. See the yellow highlighted section below:

    Where to Create the Filter in Google Analytics

    4. Create a second filter to view the full URL of the referrer. (GA out of the box doesn't show you the full URL). It looks like this:

    See Full URL of Referrer Filter

    For ease of reading, the values for the above filter are

    • Filter Type: Custom Filter
    • Advanced
    • Field A -> Extract A: Referral (.*)
    • Field B -> Extract B: leave blank
    • Output To -> Constructor: User Defined $A1
    • Field A Required: Yes
    • Field B Required: No
    • Override Output Field: Yes
    • Case Sensitive: No

    5. Manually tag the URLs for your Display Network ads following this syntax:

    gnosisarts.com/home/Free_Press_Releases-...utm_source=&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=EP

    Notice the orange highlighted section in the code above. Normally, you need to specify a value after the " = " sign for utm_source. However, for this case, you must leave the value blank. I am not sure why, but we noticed that, when you put in a value for "utm_source=", that value overrides everything else in the User Defined Value segment of your Analytics. We don't want this value to be hardcoded in there. Rather, we want it dynamically populated, as it were, from our customized tracking scripts.

    Now you see the reason behind the first filter (number 3 above). Since we are rewriting the utm_medium to the utm_source value, we suspect that this is the reason we need to leave the "utm_source=" value as blank.

    For example, when we put in "PRON3" as the value for "utm_source=", this is what we get in Analytics:

    Manually Tagged URL with utm_source= specified

    When we specified "utm_source=PRON3", this is what results. We get a (not set) for User Defined Value, when what we are really looking for is the original referrer URL.

    But when we left "utm_source=" as blank, this is what we get (see lines numbers 7 and 8):

    What it looks like when utm_source= isn't specified

    Notice that we tried many different combinations and permutations of this (lines 1 - 6 and 9-10). All other versions of the manually tagged URL produced a "(not set)" in the User Defined Value.

    Putting it All Together

    What line 7 in the picture above tells us is that a person started off at a Display Network Placement of "http://www.pressreleasesonline.net/2011/ ..." and ended up at our conversion confirmation page (gnosisarts.com/home/Thank-You3.html). Google Analytics now shows us the full referrer URL of any content network placement that delivers a conversion! This is valuable because it gives us another way to see which content network sites are producing conversions and which aren't. We no longer have to just rely on the CTR of the Content Network placement to evaluate that placement's worth to our campaign.

    Now, we do not know which of the elements mentioned above is causing GA to report all this in the way that we want. We tried many different combinations and permutations and none of them gave us exactly what we were looking for except this one. So, since we can't be for sure, we suggest you use all the steps we stated above - even if one or more of them is unneeded. Again, I'm sure there's a simpler way to do this, but we don't know of one that works as reliably as this one.

    Nonprofit Public Relations and Text-to-Donate Services

    Friday, February 24, 2012, 11:22 PM [General]
    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    By

    Many nonprofits have heard of the benefits of text message fundraising, but find that these text donation services are cost prohibitive, cumbersome and confusing. Conventional SMS donation services often charge hundreds of dollars per month, plus exorbitant set up fees, just to own or rent a short code that registers donations. Add to that lengthy set up time frames, long, confusing contracts, and lack of technical support, and it is no surprise that the very nonprofits and NGOs who could benefit the most from these services find the barrier to entry simply too high.

    "Our market research is finding that most of the text message donation services out there are way beyond the budgets of the vast majority of nonprofits and charities," said Barbara Bryant, chief of operations for Gnosis Media Group. "How many nonprofits have hundreds or thousands of dollars to spend for a setup fee? How many can afford astronomically priced monthly fees for a short code that they can't be sure will generate donations? Our findings show that nonprofits are looking for a text donation service that will work for their organization without demolishing their bank accounts. We provide that solution."

    To find out more about this text donation fundraising service, visit the firm's website at gnosisarts.com/home/SMS_Fundraising or call 908.443.1665.

    To serve the nonprofit community, Gnosis Media Group built an SMS-based, text-to-pledge service where donors can pledge a donation – via text message - to a nonprofit using their mobile device. The firm then sends the nonprofit's authorized representative the full contact information of those who have pledged (including full name, phone number, email and pledge amount). Gnosis can also embed a link to a mobile checkout page, business website checkout page, even a Paypal payment page, so that those who pledge can complete the transaction right from their mobile device.

    "We can even build a mobile-formatted donation page using Google Checkout," Bryant added.

    Gnosis felt that nonprofits needed a text message fundraising service that doesn't require them to have a Master's in computer science to utilize. They saw a need in the market that was left unmet and decided to do something about it. 

    "We're getting a lot of interest for this service, many from well-established nonprofit organizations such as universities, public high schools and political campaigns," said Tiffany Williams-Jallow, business development manager.

    "Many of the text-to-pledge or text-to-donate providers out there have information on their websites that makes absolutely no sense to the average consumer," Bryant explained. "They present nonprofit fundraising managers with a lot of technical speak that sounds fancy, but they come away wondering what exactly it is the service provider is offering."

    Nonprofits also face another obstacle in trying to utilize text donation services. Often cell phone donation services can take months to get approval, with lengthy contracts and long wait times.

    "Nonprofits need a mobile texting service that makes getting started easy on them," Bryant said. "We've worked for the past year to provide development directors with that solution. Our service is built and ready to go. With one short one-page contract and two small payments, we can have you fully operational in under 20 minutes."

    For more details or to sign up for the service, visit the firm's website at gnosisarts.com/home/SMS_Fundraising or call 908.443.1665.

    Gnosis Arts Multimedia Communications LLC Has a New Name and Logo

    Saturday, January 14, 2012, 6:12 PM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Name and logo changed for clearer branding; reflects new purpose, service offerings
    Gnosis Media Group New Logo

    Bedminster, NJ, January 14, 2012 (Press Release) - Gnosis Arts Multimedia Communications LLC, a digital, virtual PR firm in the Greater NYC area, ushered in the new year 2012 with an official name change. The change, staff said, reflects the firm's maturation and rebranding over the past five years since it's been in business.

    "It never ceases to amaze me, how far we've come, how much we've changed over the last 5 years," said Barbara Bryant, chief of operations. "When we first started back in 2007, we were, quite frankly, all over the map: we did a little of this, a little of that. We struggled to find our unique identity. Now, five years later, I think we've found it."

    The History of Gnosis Media Group

    "I'm just going to admit it: I didn't know what I was doing when I first began," said Eric Bryant, director, laughing. "To be honest, Gnosis Arts was just a hobby, a 'side hustle', as my Twitter pal, and skilled business coach, Pam Slim, calls it. I didn't know anything about branding, or marketing, or public relations. I was just chasing a passion in my spare time."

    That passion grew into a viable, solvent business in 2008-2009. Gnosis Arts Multimedia Communications LLC was born, and it became a state-registered Limited Liability Company, complete with staff, an operating agreement, a business plan - even an officer (Eric's wife, Barbara Bryant).

    "After I got serious about my hobby, I turned it into a full-fledged business in 2008, " Eric explained. "But it wasn't easy. We went through quite a few iterations. For a while we tried to make SEO (Search Engine Optimization) our main specialty. But the market was just too fat with big players. Then I went a more esoteric route, and tried to make philosophical consulting our specialty. Hence, the 'communications' part of the name. But this also never really took off, and wound up confusing our branding more than helping it.

    "Later, we hit the jackpot - or so I thought - by getting into the Wikipedia writing business. This proved quite lucrative," Eric explained. "We made a lot of money and had our most profitable seasons in 2009-2010 writing and editing Wikipedia articles for clients. We did so well that I was able to hire two new staff persons to take over this wing of the business, full-time."

    "Momma Said There'd Be Days Like This..."

    But this soon landed the firm in hot water. Wikipedia has had a tenuous, not-so-amicable relationship with public relations and marketing firms over the years, and they've defined paid editing as pretty much a cardinal sin.

    "So, we had to shut the Wikipedia editing business down in 2010," Eric lamented.

    After mounting conflicts of interest between the firm and Wikipedia officials, Gnosis Arts went through a period that can really only be described as disarray. Eric had to let go of the two Wikipedia staff. One of the staff he terminated became disgruntled and began trying to sabotage the business and stealing clients. Eric then had to enlist the aid of lawyers to defend company assets. He then had to re-conceive the entire business model.

    "The whole ordeal was really a mess. We had to almost totally redefine who we were," Eric said. "It was tough. There was infighting all the time. Everybody was kind of lost. Staff were doubting my decision to close down the Wikipedia business. They were even doubting my leadership ability. There were dark periods when I felt like a complete and utter failure, like just throwing in the towel and calling it quits. I had to redefine who we were, I had to completely change around service offerings. It was a pretty monumental task."

    Could We Recover?

    But the firm was able to recover.

    "We started to dig really deep into the market research," said Tiffany Williams-Jallow, marketing/PR manager. "After literally weeks of hardcore market research, we discovered that the Internet/Digital PR niche was a possibility. It had beatable competition. We'd already gotten a jumpstart in it, and that's where we were seeing the most attraction to our services. There were only a few high-quality players, along with a plethora of cheap flacks," Williams-Jallow explained.

    "I said to myself, 'This is doable. This might work. We might have found our niche'," Eric said.

    So, the firm then began to re-purpose itself. It built a brand new newsroom which included a semi-automated, free press release submission service in late 2010. In early 2011, it added mobile SMS applications to the roster. Later that year, it added a social media services to the list, including a tweetchat curation wiki and a homegrown social listening tool for Twitter. Additional services included a High Visibility Press Release distribution service, a QR code press release service, and an improving of the firm's SEO Press Release service.

    The firm also got into the electronic publishing market, republishing its previously published ebooks to the Amazon Kindle marketplace.

    "Kindle publishing has not brought in nearly the revenue that Wikipedia editing did," Barbara explained. "But it has brought in some and it looks like definitely a market segment that we can build on. Plus, Amazon Kindle just makes sense for PR; it opens up a whole new world of public relations possibilities, if you really think about it."

    Gnosis has also really stepped up its game in the free press release market.

    "We built a free press release service that rivals the best of them out there. It has become credible enough that Google News has included it in its search results, which is no small feat," Williams-Jallow explained. "We then built add-on services to the free press release, such as Tweet the Release, Add YouTube Video, Post to Linkedin News, and Make Sticky options. These have also been well-received by our customers."

    New Partnerships

    A big component of the reorganization of Gnosis Arts was establishing key partnerships with other organizations and businesses.

    "We've partnered with Cambrian College in Ontario, Canada, which is the second university along with Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania that we've partnered with to grow our internship program," Barbara said. "We've brought our internship program to them, and the director of PR studies there, Dr. Nancy Griffin, has really been great to work with. She's been a wonderful catalyst for our growth."

    In fall 2011 the firm partnered with PRNewswire - the nation's leading newswire service - to offer its customers a guaranteed media placement package that surpassed the competition.

    "The new media placement package, quite frankly, puts our press release distribution services on the top of the heap," Williams-Jallow said. "We are better than the long list of mediocre 'press release factories' out there that just publish your press release with no effect. We get results. We're new and improved, real contenders in the press release distribution marketplace now."

    Igniting Customer Loyalty

    "We've also started recognizing businesses who have become sort of brand evangelists on Twitter and Facebook," Barbara said. "We created a sort of informal 'Brand Ambassadors' recognition where we publish a photo and information about their business on our company website. We began seeing these business owners as not just acquaintances, but as strategic partners."

    Along with the brand ambassadors program, Gnosis created a Loyalty Rewards program to reward its most loyal customers. The loyalty program has produced significant results. According to Gnosis staff, 90 percent of its current client base is now composed of repeat customers, some of whom have been doing business with the firm for over two years.

    "Depression lifted! I'd say we must be doing something right!" Eric said. "You just keep plugging away at it and you never give up, and eventually you can get there."

    "A Rose by any Other Name ..."

    All these changes have proved to be positive steps in the right direction for the firm. But this metamorphosis required a new name, new branding initiatives, and renewed vision, to go along with it.

    "For a while now, I've wanted to call us 'Gnosis Media Group'," Eric said. Unfortunately, there was already a firm in Florida with the same name (sigh). Make matters worse, they were also a PR firm! So, I had given up on the idea that we'd ever be able to use this name. But something told me to research it a little further. When I did, I found that that Florida company had failed to renew its business name, and the name had been inactive for quite some time."

    Eric also found that, since LLCs are creatures of the state, it is possible for two LLCs - in two different states - to have the same name legally. So, he registered the name with the State of New Jersey, and they accepted his request. Gnosis Media Group was now born.

    "Now it's official," Barbara said. "We are legally 'Gnosis Media Group'. This is so awesome because now our name is shorter and more succinct. It's easier to remember, which is also good for branding. It still captures what we do and who we are. It works so much better than the former name."

    Even though the firm still owns "Gnosis Arts Multimedia Communications LLC", it now can do business as "Gnosis Media Group".

    "It's like changing from a caterpillar to a butterfly overnight, " Williams-Jallow said. "I like this new name better, personally. We are so different now than when I first started working for the firm. We have revised our vision statements, and we've even added a code of ethics section on our website.

    We've also added an informational section that explains why we are better than the myriad press release factories out there. All these changes have served to give us a clearer identity in the mind of the public."

    About Gnosis Media Group

    What defines who we are is gnosis, an archaic Greek word that means "knowledge" - but not just any knowledge, knowledge that comes from experience.

    Experience. There's just no substitute for it. Experience comes from two other important words: ex-, "out of", and -periens, or "trial". That is, our experience means: we've tried it. Everything we know about PR comes from experience. Then we speak, we speak from experience, not theory. When we relate to the press, we do so by experience, not theory. When we execute your PR campaigns, we operate by experience, not theory.

    Gnosis means that we have knowledge gained through repeated trial, testing and experimentation. We've tried it, so you don't have to. We've tested it, found out what works, and what doesn't, so you don't have to. We proved our PR ability through practice, and we've "gotten pretty handy at it!"

    You don't just need a PR firm. You need gnosis. You need Gnosis Media Group.

    Buy Better Ships: Why CSR Is Important in Public Relations

    Saturday, December 31, 2011, 12:18 AM [General]
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    This installment of "West Wing Chronicles" offers an excellent example of why Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR for short) has come to the fore in business negotiations. It also demonstrates why CSR is so important to sound business as well as public relations practice. CSR reminds businesses to think about the "Triple Bottom Line": Profits, People, AND Planet.


    Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe) is an attorney at a well-known Manhattan law firm. His job is to create legal liability protection for his client - a client who buys ships to transport oil for big petroleum corporations. Sam tries to persuade the client to "grow a conscience", so to speak, urging him to resist the temptation to settle for the cheaper, older, poorer quality ships but rather to spend a little extra money and "buy better ships."


    The older ships are a danger to the environment because they create conditions for more frequent oil spills. Although they are more expensive, the newer ships are of better quality, have fewer accidents, and therefore are safer for the environment.


    Nevertheless, Sam's proposal is met with fierce resistance - not only from his client, but also from his boss, who threatens to fire him. The client only seems interested in one thing: money. The client only seems to care about paying as little as possible for the ships and getting just enough legal protection to prevent being saddled with any legal liability. Despite Sam's passionate argument, his client doesn't seem to care all that much about the environment. Neither does Sam's boss, who repeatedly asks him, "What are you doing?" Of course, he refuses to listen when Sam actually explains what it is he's doing.


    "But there's a broader liability here," Sam contends. He then cites a few cases of oil spills that have occurred over the past decade or so. "People were driving past Exxon [out of disgust, presumably] after Valdees," Sam reminds them.


    But his pleas fall on unreceptive ears. "We've got PR firms for PR problems," the client retorts.


    And that, right there, is the lynchpin. That statement causes us as PR practitioners to question what our primary role is or should be. Are we just there for "damage control"? Is our only job to just allow our clients to do and say whatever the want, however unethical, and then put a shiny gloss over it to make it palatable or acceptable in the public eye? Or do we really have a responsibility to bring ethics and "broader liabilities" to the conference table?


    If the answer is the latter, then it is clear that CSR will play a deal breaking role in the future of public relations. If we believe as PR pros that companies should not merely care about profit but also about creating organizations that sustain the environment as well as themselves - that serve the public interest as well as profits - then we have to be willing to stand up and make arguments like the one Sam made.

    #PRDefined: PRSA's New Initiative to (Re)define What Public Relations Is

    Thursday, November 24, 2011, 8:36 PM [General]
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    If you aren't already aware, there is a new initiative spearheaded by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) to update the definition of PR. New web technologies such as social media and digital commerce have altered the way PR is practiced. Therefore, many in the industry have felt for some time that a new definition of PR is in order. (You can also find out what PR practitioners think by following the #PRDefined hashtag on Twitter).

    What do you think of this initiative? How do you define PR?

    Our firm's definition of PR is patterned after Morris and Goldsworthy's work:


    "Public relations is the practice of producing publicity (excluding promotional materials and paid advertising, which typically fall under the purview of Marketing); managing media relations and communications (typically among members of the Fourth Estate); and managing reputation."

    We chose this definition because we think it expresses what is both essential to public relations practice, as well as what distinguishes it from other management functions. Our definition also takes into account what most PRs do, most of the time, in carrying out their job duties. Additionally, our definition takes into consideration Wittgenstein's notion of "meaning as use"; a concept's definition is constrained by how it is used in general parlance.

    For example, many of the current definitions seem to want to focus on this idea of relationship building or relationship management. But relationship building is a necessary management function of any business, regardless of whether the business has a PR firm, or an in-house PR staff, or whether it even calls this "public relations" or not. In other words, "relationship management" does not seem to be a feature that is distinctive of public relations because it is shared, in most organizations, by many different job functions or departments. CxOs, HR people, sales managers, marketing directors - all these people are involved in relationship building with stakeholders.

    Another set of definitions emphasizes "adapting an organization to its publics", but these don't seem distinctive of PR, either. For instance, under these types of definitions, when the public in question is customers, then PR is more or less customer service - as customer service focuses on adapting an organization's products and services to its customers. When the public is employees, PR would very often be reducible to Human Resources - as HR handles adapting employees to its organization in various ways.

    If we were to use the "adapting an organization to its public" idea, when the public is shareholders, PR is more or less investor relations, as shareholders are investors, first and foremost. When the public is the media (or the consumers of a particular media outlet), PR is basically media relations. When the public is the aggregate of potential consumers or audiences "out there", PR can be talked about in terms of "publicity" or "reputation management."

    In other words, to try to make PR a function of "adapting an organization to its publics" seems to me to be a confounding and unnecessarily confusing way of defining PR; this "adapting" is often already done by another department or business function.

    As Hegel said, "All determination implies negation." To say what PR is requires that we say what it is not. Therefore, we choose our definition. Publicity, media relations, and reputation management: these appear to us to be the functions that are almost always done by PR people and only by PR people; this marks these functions essential to PR; without these, PR ceases to be PR. These functions are also almost never done by any other job roles or departments; this marks them as distinguishing characteristics of PR folks; you don't find marketers or CFOs or Legal or Sales primarily focusing on these functions. Hence, we think our definition, which is a slight elaboration of Morris and Goldsworthy's, is solid.

    Communication Isn't Just About the 'What' But Also About the 'How'

    Friday, November 18, 2011, 1:16 AM [General]
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    In this episode of West Wing ("Running Mates", Season 7, Episode 10, January 8, 2006), vice presidential candidate Leo McGarry's chief of staff, Annabeth Schott, (played by Kristin Chenoweth), critiques McGarry's debate presentation. She points out how important facial expressions, gestures and tone of voice are to communicating one's message.


    Communication is really an art, when you get right down to it. Having someone to assist us with polishing our communication skill can be a valuable public relations asset.


    Good communication is not natural for most of us. Like everything, it takes practice in order to improve.


    You'll notice that skilled communicators are quite deliberate in how they communicate - knowing when to pause in silence to gather their thoughts; being aware of their voice quality; being precise with their bodily gestures and facial expressions; only answering when ready.


    Effective, purposeful communication is not just about the message but also the delivery of that message.


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