Category Archives: public relations

Outsourcing PR? There’s a Platform for That

ImageCame across this news on TechCrunch about a PR startup, AirPR, that’s building a platform to help start-ups and big company’s with PR support.

We can all agree that PR is a tool in a marketing plan, as much as a hammer is a tool in belt. If you don’t know how to swing a hammer or pick the right nail for the material being used, it’s the fault of the user and not the tool? Yes? And are companies are really spending $50K without a scope of work?

And, I still don’t understand what this means:

The mission, according to AirPR’s founder, is to decrease the friction for the PR professional, while increasing efficacy for the client — a mission that, if it is followed-through, could bring a huge benefit to startups and big companies alike.

You can read more about it on TechCrunch. And visit AirPR.

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A Healthy List of Great Companies

Everyone loves a good list. If you’re a blogger, you know that a good list will drive a good amount of traffic. However, there is still a couple of lists that hold significant interest and weight.  FORTUNE’s 100 Best Companies to Work for is one of those lists.

One surprise this year was the number of healthcare companies that made the list.  Twelve. Twelve healthcare companies made it. This got me thinking that with all the bad economic times and troubles in the world, can helping people mean more than money and perks.

I look up some research and found this interesting quote: “Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning. Whether at work or at home, the goal is to engage in activities that are both personally significant and enjoyable.”

Looking at this list of companies whose employees speak highly of their workplace is inspirational and this year it seemed a little softer, healthier, happier.  And that is a good thing.

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What’s with All the Questions?

“Good questions outrank easy answers.” — Paul A Samuelson

If you’ve been online lately you’ve noticed a lot of answering going on. There’s been an explosion of social media tools that look to create an environment for knowledge sharing. From the professional LinkedIn Answers, to the friendly Facebook Answers, to the personal Formspring and now the new kid on the block, Quora. And that’s not including the informal question and chat session that take place on Twitter on a daily basis.

With all these questions, it makes you wonder if anyone has the answer.  It also leads me to believe we’re in the golden age of knowledge management by having so many accessible tools to gain, share and distribute information on a variety of topics. One of the key goals of KM is it informs, rather than instruct. This information enables individuals or organizations to move towards collaboration at a quicker pace.

While some of these question platforms are easier to use than others, the good thing is people now have a variety of ways to gain information and share knowledge. Here’s how I’m seeing these platforms being utilized:

1. Demonstrate Expertise: Some of the content being created by individuals is quite informative and thought out. Users of these answer boards are using these platforms as a way to establish themselves as experts on a topic or showcase their understanding of a topic.

2. Setting up the Sell: I’ve had some cases where I’ve answered a question in a question forum and was promotly solicited a product that solved for the question being asked. The person who asked the question was the salesguy. It’s an interesting way of gaining visibility to people who are experiencing these issues and identifying qualified leads.

I’ve also seen some really good vendor selection discussions that are educating the broader audience on pros and cons in selecting vendors. These are important conversations to be monitoring if you’re responsible for vendor selection or if you’re one of the vendors being discussed.

3. Networking: This is different than showing expertise, rather this is about finding like-minded, like-tasked people to continue the conversation offline.  Peer mentoring is a great way to extend your skill set.

The last example is probably the most important along the model of true KM.  The path to collaboration is the most important step along the KM model.  Being able to turn positive business outcomes from knowledge received is key to helping improve organizations and individual performance.

If you approach these and other message boards with that mindset, I’m sure you’ll be able to look past the noise and find the value of the the question.  I’m curious to hear the ways you’re using these forums and innovative ways you’re seeing them being used.

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Another Book about Social Media…YAWN

Everyone wants to see their name in print. Even those that have managed to build successful businesses that buck the traditional way of doing business and “old”  media.

There’s been a number of books published on the topic since Groundswell first came out. Books written by social media people…that were not written with the help of community. That do not have ongoing communities to discuss the book, well free ones at least. It seems the biggest badge of honor for a social media person to receive is the opportunity to participate in old media.  Quite comical really.

About three years ago I was invited to participate in Don Tapscott’s Growing Up Digital book. There were discussion groups created where a number of us talked about the trends and concepts Don was writing about. In fact, I still connect with some of the people that were in those chat rooms.  A book about the digital age, developed and enhanced through digital channels.  Perfect.

Keeping in that tradition I came across this book on Twitter. Yawnn…NO! It’s a book written about Twitter by the Twitter community. Masterminded by Justin McCullough (@mccjustin) and complete with multiple writers, multiple view points. YES! This is new way of doing old media.  Go to and download your FREE copy. Learn from a list of Twitterati what you can’t in 140 characters.

Thanks Laura (@pistachio) for being a champion of the Twitter community and showing me this gem of an ebook.


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The Fifteen Most Hated American Companies Of 2010 – 24/7 Wall St.

Think a company’s reputation doesn’t matter?  A look at these 15 companies and why they made the list will show consumers demand trust.  In 2010, some companies broke their trust, others are un-trustworthy, while others have consumers trusting that they are up to no good.

The actions of a brand and the promises they break speak volumes on how the public perceives the brand.  It’s also worth noting there are several brands on here that have highly publicized and admired social media program.  Two ways to look at this: either social media does nothing to improve reputation or these companies have such an acceptance of their poor reputation that they will pull all the stops to right the ship.

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Personalization, Not Social Media will be the Biggest Trend in 2011

It’s that time of the year when everyone produces their top 10, 7, 5, 3 lists of 2010 and others give their predictions for the coming year which are only extensions of the trends seen the year before.  This is not a list.  Rather, it’s just a statement of one trend that I think is coming in a big way: personalization.

We’ve all seen 2010 define, at least for companies, social media as a tool.  About time! Web strategist and social CRM pioneer, Jeremiah Owyang predicts 2011 is the year of integration for SCRM.  But what that means for consumers is this year will be all about personalization.

The 4 M’s: Media, Movies, Music and Mobile

Segmenting the way we receive media is not a new idea, we’ve had RSS feeds and Google alerts for awhile. But the ability to customize our own media experiences will explode this coming year.  using Facebook connect and single-sign-on, consumers will start to carve out their online viewing preferences by providing marketers insight into how they surf.

When Netflix announce its new streaming only service, it signaled a shift and preemptive attack on the consumer trend of selecting a movie and wanting it now.  Even HBO could possibly go streaming and not need to be tethered to costly cable plans.  GoogleTV and Sony are making it easier to view online content on your TV and bringing this self-selection model that won the internet for Google is about to come to the TV.

Music. Pandora. Grooveshark. iTunes. Cheaper, better quality and more programming and the ability to create your own stations around artists you like. The thumbs up rating in Pandora is a thumbs up for personalization in 2011.

Mobile has been a trend that is coming like a freight train.  It’s not new. But it will grow. Search “smartphone growth” and you’ll see all the jaw dropping figures for yourself. eCommerce, internet, social media, global economies are all effected by the rise of smartphones.  These phones combined with their Apps allow consumers to personalize and manage their life.  Companies like FourSquare and GoWalla will battle to provide businesses the ability to personalize their consumer experience once someone checks in.  What all this check in data will turn into is buying habits and behavior.  Mobile is such an exciting space right now and really its true power won’t be seen in 2011.

These are just my thoughts on how next year will go. With audiences being so segmented now, it’s only inevitable that personal experiences are the next frontier.  Humanization and accessibility of/to brands boils down to being personal.

Don Lucchesi said, “it’s not personal, it’s business. ” Watch 2011 to be about making business personal. And for consumers to further personalize their media consumption.

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Here’s to a Pretty Good Week

Sometimes things just fall into place. Personally, professionally and otherwise.  I was fortunate that this was one of those weeks.  Lots of very cool highlights professionally. And, the best part is I got to come home to a wonderful family each day.  This was a week that was not without a little drama, but it ended by hearing from dear friends and learning that a little seed planted years ago in my past “life” will soon receive national attention. More on that later. :)

So without further rambling. Here are the hits!

Applied Materials was featured on the homepage of Way cool.

Applied CEO was on Fox Business and I met anchor Liz Claman in person.

Applied placed #8 on Newsweek’s 2010 Green Rankings.

AND…the new and improved launched. More on this later.

So, that was my week. Not to shabby. Hope you had a great one too. OH! And, one of the highlights from my week as mentioned above…

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AD Measurement in a PR World

I’m not the first to comment on the abusive use of ad values to measure PR effectiveness, but I saw two articles on the topic relatively close to each other that explored the issue.

First, the Institute for Public Relations took a “strong stand against using Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) as a measure of value in public relations. In the field of communications and media relations, AVE suggests that the space and time occupied byearned media generated through public relations is equivalent to the same space and time of paid media when purchased as advertising.”

Among its recommendations for PR measurement:

  • First and foremost, the IPR Commission encourages measurement and evaluation practices that demonstrate the degree to which public relations efforts contribute to organizational goals. Ultimately, outcome-based measures – such as awareness, understanding, attitudes and behaviours – provide a better way to demonstrate public relations’ unique impact.
  • Advertising cost isn’t a meaningful metric. Advertisers don’t use the cost of placing their advertisements as an outcome. It’s a cost of achieving the outcome of increasing sales or brand awareness. So, it makes no sense for public relations to compare its outcome to the cost of achieving advertising outcomes. Publicity isn’t the outcome, it’s part of the process of reaching a more meaningful outcome, such as protecting reputation or increasing awareness of responsible behaviors.”
  • Advertising is purchased and affords complete control to the advertiser for content, placement and frequency and is almost always positive. In contrast, publicity, or earned media, is only semi-controllable after ceding the final output to the medium that may result in positive, neutral or negative messages.

More about IPR’s study and findings can be found on its website.

Then I saw this come across my screen: Top 10 global brands based on media value. Which brands won the most valuable press in the third quarter?

This came from Ragan PR’s PR Junkie newsletter, “The list is based on mentions in traditional and new media outlets and the positive vs. negative sentiments of those mentions. Those mentions are assigned a dollar value, which are noted.)”

The top 10 were 1. Apple – $1,489,558 2. Google – $925,976 3. Microsoft – $625,672 4. Yahoo – $433,107 5. Hewlett-Packard – $260,723 6. Intel – $253,174 7. eBay – $156,819 8. Oracle – $155,113 9. Nokia – $137,630 10. Ford – $130,833

So to recap last week. HP selected its new CEO and was criticized for the choice, while suing Oracle for its hiring of former HP CEP Mark Hurd.  Nokia continues to be an embattled after it announced earnings and Intel received alot of attention for its record earnings.  Apple is Apple and Google is Google. They are who we thought they were.  And of course there would be a lot of chatter and media stories about the two hyper-successful brands.

If I go back to the IPR’s findings, “it makes no sense for public relations to compare its outcome to the cost of achieving advertising outcomes. Publicity isn’t the outcome, it’s part of the process of reaching a more meaningful outcome, such as protecting reputation or increasing awareness of responsible behaviors.”

Could you put a price on your reputation? Could you put a price on the negative stories that weren’t told. And if they did make the news, would you want your corporate reputation measured favorably for it?


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Say What You Mean to Say

I finally got to utilize a nifty online tool that builds cloud tags of your content. It’s a great free tool that you can even customize.  Check it out at Aside from it looking really cool, it helps you understand if you’re actually saying what you want to say.

A tag cloud, for those that don’t know, is a visual representation of the most used/most prominent words in a cluster of text.  I ran all of my blog posts from the past year through the tool and this is what I got back.

As you can see, I’ve apparently discussed media, people, social (probably social media), FedEx and quitting – and I think I know lots of things.

If I were to analyze the purpose of this blog, I’d say my content matches it’s mission.  I firmly believe social media, media and communication is about people. I worked at FedEx during the first quarter of this year. And even though I left, I did just write a post about quitting. And, I never have enough time.

This is a great exercise to run your key messages, web content and video scripts through to be sure your word emphasis aligns with your message strategy.

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Process Will Set You Free

“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.” – W. Edwards Deming

If you know me well, you know I’m not one to promote process. In fact, I probably spent half of my junior career running from it. I was the AE who was locked out of his computer come Monday morning because my Time sheets weren’t in. I was the guy late to the meeting because I was writing my activity update 5 minutes before I was to provide updates on activity at the meeting.

But a funny thing happens when it’s just not your activity you have to manage and balance. Process can make your life easy or if you’re on a course of bad process or no process, you’re life will be hell.    In a life of managed chaos it helps to get all activities down on paper and then execute towards them.

The way I have found to help me organize my thoughts and align across teams a simple one page document that lists out:

  • the purpose or overview of a project
  • objective
  • strategies
  • tactics
  • measurement (go figure)

It’s important to clearly define where you want to go, how you will work to get there and then the steps needed to take for it all to work.  This one simple process will not only save you from not knowing what you’ve been doing, it’s already documented for reporting purposes and maybe, help keep you out of trouble.

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