- Member Type(s): Expert
- Title:Principal and Co-founder
- Organization:InkHouse Media + Marketing
- Area of Expertise:Public relations, social media
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011, 10:35 AM
Dale Carnegie first published How to Win Friends and Influence People in 1937. I read it in 1998 during a leadership seminar and the main message has stayed with me: if you want to have influence, become interested in others and see their point of view.
Of course, Carnegie never had social media or the Internet in mind when he wrote that book, but the lessons are playing out in interesting ways today. We all know that the “social Web” has changed communications dynamics. It’s made us all more glued to our devices and computers, but it’s also made companies more social. Of course, Apple, Facebook and Twitter are the perennial success stories of finding a casual and simple, yet compelling voice.
However, if you look deeper beyond the household names, companies from small businesses to B2B startups and networking giants are becoming more social. Although we are all obsessed with our various social profiles, we have also become more interested in curating content from other sources to highlight and better define our own points of view.
Read the full post at www.inkhouse.net/get-over-yourself-%E2%8...
Friday, January 21, 2011, 12:32 PM
As I watched the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Twitter yesterday, inspiration came from @iamdiddy (P. Diddy for those who don’t know) of all people, who Tweeted: “Let no man pull you low enough to hate him. Martin Luther King Jr. #MLKDAY”
Anyone who works at InkHouse has heard my “stay above the fray” mantra. I generally offer this advice for real-world scenarios, for example, those nasty emails that compel the recipient to compose a two-page, line-by-line defense. My advice is to write the response, read it out loud, and then delete it. I have desperately wanted to get into the fray on a number of occasions. But I cannot name one instance where it would have created a positive outcome (other than the short-term gratification that I spoke my mind, which leads to longer term regret).
The fray can be a tough place to avoid in social media. We’ve all seen nasty blog comments and as a blogger, I’m on the receiving end as well. One of my personal favorites: “Other than boring us with ‘social networking’ anecdotes, what are you good for? Nothing. Precisely.” I liken this to driving. Cars provide people with emotional armor that emboldens them to hurl insults and nasty gestures at other drivers. Would this happen if we were all standing next to each other?
Participating in the social media conversation means that you’re going to get some negative feedback, which can be hard to take. However, it’s part of being social. And the social universe requires the same measured response you would provide in the real world. We always tell clients not to say anything to the press that they would not like to see in tomorrow’s paper. The same is true for tweets, status updates, blog post comments and anything else in the public social sphere. If it’s publicly posted, it’s fair game.
I am not suggesting that we should stand by and passively agree with everyone we encounter. I am suggesting that a thoughtful discussion is the reason we enter into the social conversation, and we, as content creators have a responsibility to foster it. So how can you stay above the fray in social interactions on behalf of your corporate or personal brand?
To read the dos and don'ts, go to www.inkhouse.net/seven-tips-for-staying-...
Monday, January 10, 2011, 2:29 PM
As I watched the events unfold in Tuscon this weekend and hoped against all hopes that Representative Giffords would make it through, I came across this article in The New York Times by Matt Bai: A Turning Point in the Discourse, but in Which Direction?
Bai noted that a number of politicians had begun removing pages from their Web sites, pages that contained powerful rhetoric that could be associated with some sort of militant response to politicians on the other side of the aisle. My post is not about politics, so I will leave those details out, but I encourage you to read Bai’s piece, and many of the other thoughtful articles that have followed (just do a quick Google search on “Giffords and political rhetoric”).
This kind of article is a reminder for communicators whose job is focused on elevating conversations and points of view above the din. The din is a powerful obstacle, and as I have noted here in the past, controversy almost always leads to interest. There is an appropriate role for controversy in many kinds of industry conversations. However, frequently the most extreme points of view garner the most attention simply because they are extreme.
Controversy and differing points of view are powerful tools, particularly when you are competing against millions of voices in social media.
To read the full post, go to inkhousepr.blogspot.com/2011/01/words-as...
Thursday, January 6, 2011, 9:12 AM
What is the benefit of an auto-DM on Twitter? Practically speaking, I suppose it’s great. Automated responses reduce the time that you have to spend personally acknowledging new followers.
Sure, sending an auto-DM after someone follows you might sound like a good way to begin a Twitter relationship, but the more I receive, the more I feel like unfollowing the person (or company) sending it to me. It feels canned and makes me wonder if a real person actually manages that handle.
Conventional wisdom tells us to follow everyone who follows you on Twitter, and I believe in that principle for quality followers. Increasingly, the followers who auto DM me after I follow tend to be people or companies that appear to simply be trying to secure large numbers of followers, and therefore, just don’t have time to respond to every inquiry personally.
Read the complete post at
Monday, January 3, 2011, 2:56 PM
This morning NPR aired a piece by Jesse Baker titled, “Gawker Wants To Offer More Than Snark, Gossip,” on Nick Denton and Gawker Media. It was sparked by Denton’s redesign plans that will include more in-depth and analytical pieces to draw in upscale readers and advertisers.
Denton said, “I would like to show the full range of content, from scurrilous and sensationalist through to beautiful and uplifting. Because People can’t live on snark and viscous gossip alone.” This is an interesting development for a media brand that’s built its name by breaking news quickly (news that is often characterized as gossip).
Gawker’s success is indicative of today’s news culture. People gravitate toward sparks of news (irresistible headlines), and these sparks tend to be more of the sensational and less of the heartwarming.
The media industry has become somewhat of a Wild West since blogs have ignited a culture of round-the-clock news with a priority on bragging rights for breaking it first. In turn, consumers read hundreds of headlines each day through Twitter, Facebook, RSS feeds, you name it. This has fueled a competition for eyeballs – we want more Twitter followers, more likes on Facebook, more followers for our blogs, etc.
But just because you have my attention does not mean that you will retain it.
Thursday, December 16, 2010, 1:12 PM
Words, when wielded effectively, can carry great power. But that’s for another post. As we near the end of 2010, I’ve compiled a list of words that have simply lost their meaning from overuse. Many of these are perfectly good words that just need a time out.
The age of social media has placed an emphasis on easily digestible content and PR has followed by simplifying messaging and press releases accordingly. While Woody Guthrie was talking about music when he said this, we should think about it in the context of how we communicate as marketers:
“Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple.”
In honor of simplicity, I asked the InkHouse team to send me their lists of words that we should retire after 2010. Most of these fall into the category of overuse in marketing materials, but we threw in a few pop culture terms for fun.
- Best-in-breed and leading-edge
- Leading provider
- Next generation and revolutionary
To see the full list, go to inkhousepr.blogspot.com/2010/12/10-words...
Monday, December 13, 2010, 1:20 PM
There is a lot we can learn from the Tea Party outside of election politics, but I will come back to this in a few paragraphs. A few months ago, I was honored when Business Insider asked me contribute posts from blog. A number of my posts have been syndicated now and one thing is true for all of them – my headlines always get changed. I don’t mind because as a PR person, I appreciate the value of a good headline. Inevitably, theirs are a bit more sensational and I believe that they have helped me get more readers than I would have otherwise. I’ll give you one example:
· Mine: “Make Hay While the Sun Shines”
I’ve written here before on the topic of creative and compelling headlines and believe strongly in their value. As Twitter becomes a veritable news aggregator for many of us, the importance of headlines has never been greater. Recently, @MrMediaTraining (Brad Phillips of Phillips Media Relations) tweeted this: “Why You Should Never Return a Reporter's Call By His/Her Deadline.” I immediately clicked on it because it sounded like bad advice. However, after reading the post I learned that he was advocating for spokespeople to call reporters back well before their deadlines so that they could play a part in shaping the story. Great advice and great headline – it worked.
To read the rest of the article, go to inkhousepr.blogspot.com/2010/12/what-pr-...
Wednesday, December 8, 2010, 3:44 PM
Part 1:Embargoes and Exclusives
Last week Scott Kirsner
, the Innovation Economy
columnist and blogger for the Boston Globe, Ross Levanto
, SVP at Schwartz Communications, and I sat down to discuss embargoes, exclusives, TechCrunch, social media, entrepreneurs doing their own PR, and other “under the covers” issues related to PR and the media.
This is the first of four posts that will come out of that conversation. We started with the hotly debated embargo issue, which has received more than its fair share of attention over the past few years in the wake of high-profile policies against embargoes such as Michael Arrington’s back in 2008
. This summer we blogged about the issue
when a major news daily “accidentally” broke a story on a piece of client news.
Scott posted his perspective in June where he included advice for how he handles embargoes (he is rarely interested) and outlined what he is interested in covering: “On the blog, I'm mainly focusing on trying to cover company formations, financings, important product launches, big-name new hires (and firings), shut-downs, and the like first.”
Read the full post here (with audio): inkhousepr.blogspot.com/2010/11/conversa...
Part 2: Is the press release dead?
In part two of my series following a conversation with Scott Kirsner
, the Innovation Economy
columnist and blogger for the Boston Globe and Ross Levanto
, SVP at Schwartz Communications, we talk about the future of the press release. Last week Ross posted a piece of that conversation about targeting your audience
, which I encourage you to read.
The topic of the fate of the press release comes up often, most frequently from those who have embraced social media and view it as a relic from the past. Many of these entrepreneurs, CEOs and marketers are looking to use their blogs as the mouthpiece for their news.
Scott said that he comes across younger, more entrepreneurial companies that think they are old school. He said, “They’ll announce interesting things on their blogs and via Twitter, which is great because you feel like that stuff is coming off the CEO’s cuff, but I do wonder about breaking news via your blog or Twitter feed that you may have been able to get the Globe, the Economist or Wall Street Journal to write about.”
Read the full post here (with audio): inkhousepr.blogspot.com/2010/12/conversa...
Thursday, November 18, 2010, 10:07 AM
A few things happened over the past week that have gotten me focused on the importance of immediacy. First, New Hampshire announced plans to crack down on its ban on texting while driving – reminding me of how addicted we all are to the ding of a text notification. Second, I read Om Malik’s post on “Perpetual Nowness
.” He is suggesting that we are constantly seeking the next thing and “suffer from a collective cultural amnesia about what happened five minutes ago.”
Naturally, this got me thinking about PR and the state of news media. Public relations has always been fast-paced and social media has only amped it up. It’s also the same for bloggers who are under intense pressure to be the first to break a story, even if it comes out at 1 a.m. We’re all nagged by the constant urge to check the text/IM/email/Facebook/Twitter notification we just heard beep in the background. But is all of this “nowness” helping us or hindering us?
Working in PR requires an insane attention to detail and the ability to do 10 things at once. This is my nature and I embrace it because it makes me good at my job. If you’ve met me, you know I’m not a very Zen kind of person. I’m type A. But the call of now from all of my devices and alerts has given me pause to consider whether it’s making me a better PR professional or just a more manic one.
As it turns out, my 22-month old had the answer. She’s been working very hard at teaching me how to be here, now. As all parents know, it’s pretty close to impossible to think about anything else when you’re in the midst of a meltdown over which pair of shoes your toddler is going to wear to the park. But in all seriousness, I get small slices of each weekday to see her, so I made a decision that during those periods, I would sign off. Cue the panic alarms!
Miraculously, my experiment is working. I am not missing anything, I’m coming up with better ideas for work, and am finding more moments to enjoy with my family. It turns out that “here and now” is more than a Letters to Cleo song. So cheers to the here and now, but please, don’t make me respond to every message within the minute. I’m silencing my notifications, pledging NOT to check messages in the park and banning email from meetings! Wish me luck.
Monday, November 1, 2010, 9:37 AM
Original post located at: inkhousepr.blogspot.com/2010/10/currency...
The notion of “content” has taken on new meaning in the age of social media. Public relations used to be limited in many people’s minds to media relations. But today, social media has given us all a platform for becoming part of broader conversations and creating dialogues that previously were not possible. In fact, the contribution of interesting content has become a virtual currency to broader recognition today.
This requires communications professionals to consider content in a different light. It’s not a 180-degree turn though, it’s a slight skewing of the angle. After all, content creation has always been the job of PR – a press release is actually supposed to be written just like a news story so that it can easily be repackaged as one. Ironically, those guidelines were developed (and proliferated through the AP Style guide) many years ago, but they are more important today than ever as bloggers simply repackage press releases as news stories.
Before the advent of real-time communications and social media, PR’s job was also to be a conduit for expert’s perspectives on the news to the reporters who cared about them. We had to identify issues of relevance and connect the experts to the masses. These same principles apply today as we look to help our clients create the content so critical to their visibility with target customers and partners. What’s changed is the pace and the channel – virtually anyone can connect with key influencers on social media.
So what does it take to break through all of this conversation? We tell our clients that they should still broadcast their messages when it’s appropriate, but that they must also contribute to the dialogue and join the conversations that matter in their industries. Remember though, that contributing does not mean posting your press releases on your blog. You need to add something useful – a perspective, data, case study, video – anything that adds context, background or interest.
The good news is that this content does not have to be created from scratch – it can be found within virtually any organization. Here is where you can start to look:
1. Mine your data. What data do you have internally that could reveal something no one else knows about your industry? One year, we worked with a mobile voice recognition company and we asked them to look at the top 10 most common voice-powered Web searches. We didn’t know what we’d find, but the results showed that on mobile, people search for destinations such as “Facebook.com.” When we looked at Google’s most popular desktop search terms, we saw a big difference. On the desktop, people search for topics such as “Michael Jackson.” We wrote a press release and got a bunch of coverage during the slow week between Christmas and New Year’s.
2. Read the news. Do your executives have an opinion about what is going on in the news? If so, get it out there on your blog, through Twitter and directly to reporters who are covering the topic. Just make sure your executive has the background to make him or her an expert. And if that fails, make sure they have something controversial to say – controversy almost always breeds interest.
3. Listen to your customers. What trends are taking place within your customers’ organizations? One of our clients offers disaster recovery and business continuity software and after hurricane Katrina, we discovered a number of customers who had used the software, and also had amazing stories about how they helped their businesses continue operations in the midst of the terrible disaster. We pulled these stories together into advice for other companies as they prepare their corporate disaster recovery plans.
Once you find this content, the next job is packaging it and timing it appropriately to make an impact (see our post on how to blow a press release). This topic could fill a number of additional blog posts, but the key to creating conversations is fostering a two-way dialogue. The starting point can be a press release, blog post, video, Tweet or Facebook status. It’s what you do with it afterward that creates the conversation.