To Tweet nor Not to Tweet

A recent BusinessWired (Business Wire) poll of more than 270 PR professionals asked them their favorite social media tool. In a close finish, Twitter was the leader with 33 % of respondents reporting Twitter as their top social media channel. Facebook was a close second.

It’s a clear favorite over blogging. Why? The speculation is that Twitter takes significantly less time for an equivalent timely impact. Blogging takes a significant investment in time and intellectual effort.

If this speculation is true, then the implications are troubling. Twitter is, indeed, a useful tool in many ways. And it is easier and quicker for most of use to use. Yet its very brevity of 140 characters leads to simplicity of thought and ideas.

A better mix, I would think, is extensive use of Twitter to drive traffic to more thoughtful — but perhaps fewer — posts on a blog. Yes, that requires more work and more time. But the result is increased awareness and understanding.

Both Twitter and blogging have their places. They should be used as partner tools in an overall communication strategy of engagement with key publics.

Read their report at http://bit.ly/fcGl8I.

Advertisements

PR Firms Report Rebound

For those looking for jobs in 2011, there is some good news. The Council of Public Relations Firms just reported (Jan 19) that most firms reported significantly increased income for the final quarter of 2010 as compared to the same time in 2009.

Indeed, two-thirds reported double-digit revenue growth in 2010!

As a consequence, two-thirds of firms reported hiring more public relations professionals immediately and in the near term.

One of the specific growth areas, no surprise, is social media. Implications: absolutely necessary skill set. Not just how to, but why and when to.

Read the complete article at: http://bit.ly/hYOkyK

Pew Reports News Consumption Up

Well some good news finally on the media front. A new report from Pew Research finds that news consumption by Americans is back up to mid-1990’s levels. While the pattern is changing, the idea that Americans are getting more news is heartening. Of course, the devil is in the details. And the findings continue to suggest we will increasingly continue to consume news online and via mobile platforms.

Some details:

  • 34% say they “went online for news yesterday.”
  • 44% say the got news from more that one source either internet or mobile.
  • Print consumption continues to slowly erode, but television appears flat (good news?).

Yet….

  • 75% of Americans report that they got news “yesterday” from one of the three traditional platforms — television, radio, print!

And while that is certainly good news, the key message in the data is that Americans are increasingly mixing their platforms to gain news and information. There is no dominant platform.

Implications for public relations? Easy. We have to be everywhere! Treat every outlet and every platform as if it was the most important. Because they all are important. Means we need to continue to focus on ALL media, not just the “new media.” Traditional platforms still have impact.

Take a look at the data: http://bit.ly/bAyjGH

Is the News (Press) Release Dead? Really?

So here we go again. Yet another pundit has announced the death of the news release. Yes, NEWS release, not “press” release (pet peeve, live with it!).

So this morning Simon Dumenco on AdAge.com opined that the news release died this summer (ostensibly with BP and others). In the same article he suggests that the replacement is Twitter and provides examples directly from celebrity gossip Tweets.

OK, Simon. Celebrity information is NOT news. It’s gossip publicity. Again, NOT NEWS.

The News Release still has strong validity for most reputable news organizations. They want details. They want good points of contact. They want links to photos and other art.

Will they run the story, like Ivy Lee’s Penn Railroad story, verbatim? I sure hope and expect not! But is a well written and distributed news release still highly valued? Certainly.

Especially when it comes from a reputable source to a reporter or editor with whom that source has a relationship.

  • Is Twitter a source? Sure.
  • Is Facebook a source? Sure.
  • Are blogs sources? Sure.
  • Is your waiter at your favorite lunch stand a source? Sure.
  • Is the secretary at the CEO’s office a source? Sure.

The world is much more complex than this, Simon. There is room for many mechanisms, and the venerable news release remains one of the most reliable — when used right.

Twitter IS valuable. Twitter is a great complementary tool for both ends of the equation. But it’s not the only solution. Not even the best solution in most cases.

Read Simon’s thoughts at: http://bit.ly/boZNAS and judge for yourself.

Who Manages Social Media?

According to the latest Communication and Public Relations GAP Study (Generally Accepted Practices), conducted every other year by Strategic and Public Relations Center at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, public relations departments at companies and corporations seem to be gaining ascendancy in controlling and managing social media for organizations. Of course, the competition is generally between marketing and public relations. (See the full report at GAP.)

While this may well be early in “the fight,” it is a good sign that organizations are understanding, correctly, that social media is more about dialogue and relationships than it is about selling. This is an excellent sign, but we must not assume it will be the final answer.

First, we are early in the game here. As everyone continues to explore social media — including customers and constituencies — the competition for control will continue as well. As our understanding of this new set of media grows, and as customers and consumers sophistication continues to increase, this dynamic might shift. So…

Moreover, social media is an ever-moving target. It is an incredibly changing arena of dialogue and communication and will only continue to morph as we move deeper into the 21st Century.

Yesterday Twitter was the rage. Now, Foursquare and geolocation enter the fray to change the relational sets yet again. And this dynamic environment will certainly continue.

Lesson? We in public relations must not only be masters of this new realm of relationship creation and maintenance, we must continue to monitor developments and be the “experts” ( if such can be said to exist) on this new arena.

It is not enough to master Facebook and blogging and Twitter to your heart’s content. How are you using FourSquare and other geolocation tools? What internal tools are you using to enhance productivity? Have you effective policies in place to guide organizational use of social media? Are you using tools to measure your ROI or relationship development?

And finally, are you keeping your eyes and ears attuned to new developments so public relations is there at the forefront of adoption?

We are, indeed, living in interesting times. And exponential times. Stay with it. Stay on top. The fight will continue!

I Tweet, Therefore I Am

Microblogging is all the rage these days. Millions are tweeting their 140 characters of thought constantly. Yet why?

Of course, most are just telling you what they are doing throughout the day. On a personal level, that’s probably harmless, and perhaps even interesting for friends and family to follow each other throughout the day. Should be fairly harmless. Yet, it’s not something you should consider if you are tweeting for business purposes.

So what’s the purpose of using Twitter from a public relations perspective? Well, it could be for any number of reasons. Here are a few:

  • You are following tweets to resolve customer service complaints and issues.
  • You are advancing your brand with useful and informational posts.
  • You are providing useful information about your companies/organization’s products or services.
  • You are providing useful information about your profession.
  • You are establishing yourself as a professional.

All of these are good reasons to microblog — use Twitter or other such tools.

For myself, I Tweet to provide additional and useful information to my professional colleagues and students. It’s a simple purpose and keeps me focused on what and why I’m doing this Twitter thing. Hopefully others find utility in my Tweets. If they don’t, they unfollow. Easy. (Yes, new verb: To Unfollow)

Why to you Tweet? Do you know?