Archive for the ‘Topic of the Week’ Category

Tom Foremski

Die Press Release, Die Die Die

A Social Media News/Press Release is not meant to “stand alone.”  It is meant to suppliment your mainstream press release, not replace it.  The SMR combines flexible formatting options with a tagging standard. It becomes more user-friendly and useful by allowing the advantages of the linking, multimedia and social media capabilities of the Web.

The goal is to make business news usable by online reporters and bloggers. According to Brian Solis, a Social Media Release (SMR) “should contain everything necessary to share and discover a story in a way that is complementary to your original intent.”

The thing that started all the hoopla about defining and setting up some type of form or standard was an article written by reporter Tom Foremski in his blog post “Die Press Release, Die Die Die.” In it, he basically says that all he needs from an SMR is the facts. He is sick of reading the spin because he is the writer, and that is his job.  Basically, he is much like the detectives on the old Dragnet television show.  He wants, “Just the facts, ma’am.”

Recently, I viewed a Webinar from PR Daily that covers this topic  thoroughly. The host, Michael Sebastian, who is managing editor of PR DailyWeb hosted a show entitled, The Basics: How to Produce a Social Media News Release.  His guest was Shel Holtz, ABC and principal of Holtz Communication and Technology.

He explained that this caused Chris Heuer, the founder of The Social Media

Neville Hobson & Shel Holtz

Club, took the intiative to have the IABC (International Association of Business Communicators) assume the leadership role in the standardization of the Social Media News Release.

The SMR Working  Group of IABC to Date includes:

Current members:

  • Chris Heuer, founder, Social Media Club and principal, The Conversation Group
  • Tom Foremski, journalist
  • Shannon Whitley
  • Brian Solis
  • Shel Holtz, ABC

Those who have recently joined after receiving an IABC invitation are:

  • Laura Sturaitis, Business Wire
  • Jiyan Wei, PRWeb
  • Dan Zarella, social media consultant
  • Todd Van Hoosear, communicator and social media practitioner
  • David Parmet, public relations counselor
  • Jason Ryan, New Zealand public sector communicator.

Todd Defren at Shift Communications released the first template of a Social Media Release.  Although Foremski suggested bullets as a quick way to find the information, Holz says that you don’t have to include bullets if you don’t think your audience likes them or you are not comfortable using them.  Basically, he says you just need to include the core elements.  He lists these as being:

  • Multimedia: Images, Audio, Slide sharing (PowerPoint), and Video.
  • Quotes (Tip: worthwhile to subdivide quotes from 3rd party quotes. ex: CEO/Customer/Advisor
  • Research Aids (ex. Technorati Tags, Links to related content
  • Contact information
  • Boilerplates

Holz says that there are three ways in which you can produce an AMNR.  They are:

  • Do It Yourself: He himself codes in Html as he is writing.  If you are not proficient in that, you can always use a Web content managing system….a blogging platform(ex. WordPress, Blogger) to make this a lot easier.  It just needs to be clean, simple and utilitarian for your audience.
  • SMNR Services:  There are many out there for you to use. Pitch Engine has a template. All you have to do is copy and paste your content or type it in from scratch.
  • Links to sharing sites.

The bottom line is that when preparing a Social Media Release, you shouldn’t try to write showy, eye catching dialog. That is the job of the writer, whether that is a blogger, a reporter, or another journalist. Watch the following video from RealWire, a press release distribution company who  gives a quick rundown of the effective SMR.


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Are you a brand new PR student who has never dabbled with writing a blog?    Don’t worry, I was in the same place just a year ago.  Though I still struggle with all the new things popping up in the world of Social Media and PR, I can still say….I’ve come a long way, baby!  If I can do it, anyone can.  Here’s a list of my top ten tips if you’re just getting started.  Some of these are all my own, and some were tips that I read in similar blogs when I was just getting started.

1.  Stay true to yourself. You aren’t writing for someone else. There’s a subject that you feel you have some experience in and you’ve got something to say. You can get ideas from others, but ultimately your blog has to reflect who you are and how you communicate with others.

2. Credit your source. This one is so important. It does matter where you got it from. If it is a truly original idea, or a new take on an old idea…give credit where credit is due. If you don’t, you might get blacklisted among other bloggers. Be credible and do what is right!

3. Decide what your focus will be and stick to it. It could be PR. It might even be sewing. Whatever it is, if you write about it, it should tie in with your primary subject. This is the only way people who are also interested can find you. Also, if you write about your Granny’s dog, and you can’t tie it into your quilting blog, then put it on your facebook and leave it off of the blog. However, a creative person can usually tie in the things that are important to them.

4. Use AP Style correctly. This means to check, check and then check again. My advice is that you buy the newest AP Style book (2010) and Use It!

5. Participate in other blogs with a similar focus. If you do, they may come and check your blog out.  Also, you can link to other like-minded bloggers. It gives your readers other avenues of information, and you’ll develop a following of readers and bloggers alike.

6. Check out new social media. It can be filled with new ideas and hot topics.

7. Invite comments and make it easy to comment. Remember, interaction is the name of the game.

8. Add pictures–don’t be boring. Just remember to give credit for others pictures that you use.

9. If you’re not sure what someone is talking about, google it. It may seem strange to you out there who have been participating in every social media as it came on the scene. However, I am new to this and when I was assigned articles on Twitter and a podcast….I didn’t know what either one of them were. So, I googled them. I have fallen in love with the podcast, and I would have missed out on many things that I like if I hadn’t discovered it and its meaning.

10. Keep It Clean. This is probably the most important tip that I can give you. Even if something is deleted from a site, it can still float around the Internet for years. Be careful what you write, it probably will come back to haunt you!

These are just a few tips that have been helpful to me. For more about writing, look at Gena’s post. Another interesting article for new bloggers can be found on Jorn Barger’s site.

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Tonight I did something I have never done before.  That’s happening to me a lot lately in my PR Writing Class COMM 4333 with Prof. Barbara Nixon. I have had to be dragged kicking and screaming, mainly because of my disability.  That’s right, folks.  I have a double whammy!  I am Computer and Digitally Challenged. That’s a real problem in this digital age. However, I will have to say that after I got past my “learning curve” I actually enjoyed several of these experiences.  Twitter is definitely not one of them.

There may be several reasons why and I will sketch them out briefly before sharing the content of the Twitter discussion that I watched and participated in, albeit in a somewhat limited way.

The biggest reason is that I am not actually a PR student.  Therefore, this discussion was mainly “over my head.”  I have no practical knowledge of the PR business.  I know just enough to “get me in trouble” as they say.  More than  half of the questions asked by the panel were foreign to me.  Many of the abbreviations used I didn’t understand.  On Twitter, they will abbreviate words to save characters, but they’ll use commas.  That’s laughable to me. I’m too much of the “English” teacher to enjoy this abbreviated type of communication.

Perhaps if I’d listened in on something that I understand, like education, I might have been able to contribute more.  Still, I did make the effort and I sat there for the entire time taking notes.

The PR20chat was a panel of PR professors and students asking about the way PR is taught in our colleges today. They put seven questions before the public, and anyone was welcome to participate. Here are the questions and a sampling of the answers given from the tweeters out there.

  • Question #1: How would you train young professionals to develop solid decision-making skills in a fast-paced social media environment?

Mentor them and help them build their own online community.  Teach               them to communicate “truly, w/integrity.”

  • Question #2: How would you teach clients and new employees to engage audiences as participants in dialog rather than receivers of messages?

Remind them they are talking to other humans. Golden rule in place                     here. Be mindful of brand and purpose.

  • Question #3: How would you balance adding value to the community with the need to achieve your own organization’s objectives.

People will value what you have to say based on how much value you               provide them.

  • Question #4: What “new” skills do PR students need to learn to succeed as professionals?

Digital literacy, discerning quality information online.

Big theme: Writing skills:  Attn: students!

PR is an evolving beast.  U need 2 know how 2 roll with the punches                    evolve quickly and smile during the ride.

  • Question #5: How should professors prep students to understand PR measurement and explain “value” of PR? (I personally have no understanding of what ‘measurement’ is).

This will sound harsh, but unless they have digital strategy                                       experience they should not be teaching our kids.

Hard to understand measurement until you actually apply it to a real                world situation. (My question is: What is measurement in the context of PR? I’ve never heard it used in that context before).

  • Question #6: Is the pendulum swinging too far? What % of course work should be on social media vs “traditional” PR?

0% social. If we quit separating it, maybe we’ll finally “get it.”

I really wish there was a course on pitching at my school.  Would have                been very helpful.

Schools that provide real world opps in class/as a class (think in hours                  PR agency) excel in developing top grads.

  • Question #7: How would you encourage new professionals to think strategically about social media?

Again, think biz problem 1st. Then, consider how tech might assist  in               process. Remember, it’s just one piece.

The panel considered this “tweet” session to be beneficial.  In the space of an hour, there was 1,500 tweets. For the most part, I didn’t really understand all of the questions and did not know exactly what they were referring to most of the time. Still, I’m sure that this session will be beneficial to anyone who intends to work in the field of PR.

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Inside PR Podcast 2/23/2011
The Ten Commandment of Positivity

Martin Waxman of Inside PR

This podcast included hosts Martin Waxman, Gini Dietrich and Joseph Thornley.  The majority of the podcast centered on a recent blog by Martin Waxman with the above mentioned title.  Waxman’s top ten were:
  1. Don’t lie
  2. Don’t Spam
  3. Don’t over promise
  4. Don’t pretend something is what it isn’t
  5. Be creative and tell a story as good as you can
  6. Remember that yours isn’t the only story out there and others may have a better and/or more important story.
  7. Know where you stand in the grand scheme of things (tragedy trumps product every time)
  8. Do what you say and as quickly as you can
  9. Smile when you’re talking or reaching out to people
  10. Say thanks.

The conversation progressed and Gini relayed the fact that she heard Terry Fallis say that “Your mood is as contagious as the common cold.”  This brought up the conversation concerning the writing of angry or critical emails.

People tend to take their bad mood out on someone in an email because they can avoid conflict.  People will say things in an email that they’d never say face to face.  Gini Dietrich commented that for a while her company banned internal emails. If someone needed to have a discussion like that, they had to do it person to person. Sometimes a late night email can be devastating and cause someone a sleepless night.

The discussion concluded with all being in agreement that one on one conversation about conflicting issues is more professional and better on the working environment.

Inside PR Podcast 3/23/11

Happy Birthday Twitter

Gini Dietrich for Inside PR

The podcast began with Gini talking about her new E-book.  Apparently she asked 32 business leaders to contribute by writing letters, which is what the book is comprised of.  This book is now available at Spin Sucks.

The discussion then moved on to wish Twitter a Happy Birthday.  It seems that on March the 21st Twitter celebrated its fifth birthday.  Some of the statistics that were given concerning Twitter were:

  1. It took Twitter three years, two months and a day to get to its billioneth tweet.  Now, it take one week for Twitter to get a billion tweets.
  2. When Michael Jackson died in 2009, there were 456 TPS (tweets per second).  Currently, there is 6,939 TPS.

The statement was made that Twitter has established itself as a news source. However, Twitter is making some changes that have a few people upset. They are starting to “tighten up” download and store Twitter results.  Last week they really made those in their developer community angry by suggesting that many of the functions will be core to Twitter and that the developer community that helped them to get these large numbers really is “circumscribed” as to what it will do.


 The other side of the coin is that Dave Winer, considered by many to be the father of podcasting and RSS feeds, is still developing a simple new blogging tool that will “keep an archive of our content on our servers but will push it out to wherever we want.” In this way it will get around “the problem of the guys at Twitter actually owning your content and being able to change it with its terms of service.”


Inside PR Podcast 3/30/11


We Ask Facebook a Question

Joseph Thornley of Inside PR

Gini begins the podcast talking about Twitter and Facebook.  She starts off by saying that Twitter is cutting down on Spam, and this will affect the Follow Friday for many people.  She goes on to inform us that if you use the has tag and Follow Friday, then include a bunch of Twitter handles on Friday, that will be looked upon as Spam.  However, putting just one person each week will not be seen as Spam.

The panel decided that it’s probably better coverage and that it is a good idea to cut down on the spam on Twitter.  Gini says that Twitter has not officially announced it yet, but that it definitely is going to happen.

The next topic is a discussion of a new app on Facebook. It allows you the ability to ask questions.  You can ask a question and answer it yourself, or you can let others answer it.  You can also close off the ability for people to add to their own answers.

Martin didn’t get the app, and so Joe goes on Facebook to try his hand at asking a question and he gets 11 hits very quickly.  It is mentioned that Quora has a similar feature, except that it can change your question and your answer.  Facebook has it so that no one can edit your question and answer. 

You can find the information about getting the app at Facebook.Joe brings up a recent blog of Martin Waxman‘s called “Is Your AgencySitting on the Sidelines?”  It lists agencies in the two categories: What You Need and What You Can Do Without. It gives tips about how to have overall effective communication.

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The Long Tail Of Fans by ojkelly

In essence, infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge. These graphics introduce complicated information in a clear and quick way.

They are commonly used to show the weather, as well as maps and site plans for events and graphs for statistical information.

Infographics have been branching out.  They are now used in signs, journlism, technical writing and education.  It is another way to communicate concepts concisely and in many cases in a way that is more easily understood.

Actually, making infographics is a certain discipline within the information design world.

The visual devices used to communicate in infographics include but are not limited to charts, diagrams, graphs, tables, maps and lists.  Common devices  are horizontal bar charts, vertical column charts, and round/oval pie charts.  Modern interactive maps and bulleted numbers are also infographic devices.

USA Today, which debuted in 1982, established the practice of using graphics to make informaton easier to understand.  The paper has been criticized in the past for “oversimplifying news” and “creating infographics that focus on entertainment.  They are charged with disrespect for content and data, which is referred to as chartjunk.

As the popularity of infographics grows and its use intensifies, many internet marketing companies will use them to produce viral content that web users will freely share.

Click here to view my Infographic for Band Promotion Tactics.  


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HARO (Help a reporter out) is one of a small group of services for reporters.  Peter Shankman, a public relations pro started this site last year on Facebook as a group to connect reporters with sources.  He’d been doing this himself up until the Facebook group. According to Shankman, it has grown to over $1 million in yearly revenue with almost no overhead.

After the Facebook hit the limit of 1,200 users, Shankman changed the service by making available a 200 member e-mail list in March of 2008.  It has since grown to a resource used by over 30,000 reporters and other news gatherers.  The service has 150 to 200 questions per day which is sent out to its 80,000 or more network members.

Shankman makes money by selling carefully chosen clients who advertise on the site.  His demographic includes 75 to 80 percent who open each e-mail they receive every day.

Unlike other sites providing a similar service, HARO is free.  It is totally supported by advertising dollars.  Although public relations professionals make up the highest group to use HARO, Shankman says the fastest-growing group on the site is small business owners.  This is because they desire to be quoted as an authority on a subject but cannot afford to hire a PR firm to do this for them.

There’s many subjects covered and the site can be useful to those  who are not in some kind of PR job area.  You should check it out.  HARO also has a Twitter site for you tweeters out there.  For more information you can click on Epicenter or HARO.

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Grammar: goof vs. guru February 27, 2011

Filed under: Topics of the Week — asghaly @ 8:31 PM

I have always prided myself on my ability to understand and use proper grammar. I even won the English award at my high school graduation. Where math and science failed to compute, English made sense to me. Despite my natural inclination to excel in the language arts, I still have a lot to learn as Cleaning Your Copy: Grammar, Style and More taught me.

The main thing I learned is that I am not quite as talented in my English ability as I once thought. I learned just how big of a deal that spelling is. The course said that people will not notice how fantastic and spot-on one’s spelling in. They will, however, definitely notice if one’s spelling is atrocious. Spelling is a relatively small thing, but it greatly affects the way one’s work is received by the professional public.

I was surprised by the amount of grammatical topics this course covered. Grammar (of course), style, punctuation, and spelling were discussed. This is useful because someone might excel in spelling but need help in style or punctuation. The way this course was presented was comprehensive and helpful.

I want to learn more about can and may. I have a ongoing debate with a friend of mine. The question is: Does one use can or may when one asks someone else for something or to do something for him? For instance is it, “Can you pass me the remote?” Or is it, “May you pass me the remote?” I always was told can is the right word in this case, but that is one pair of words that this course did not address.

This course is perfect for journalists, novelists, and students. Almost anyone who takes this course will learn something new. Some aspect of one’s writing capability will be enhanced through this course, and I highly recommend it.

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