Tom Watson’s Presentation

September 19, 2009

Tom Watson was kind enough to share his presentation.

Read the rest of this entry »


Social Media Diva Talks About Integration – Toby Bloomberg

September 19, 2009

Even though Toby Bloomberg said there were “no experts in social media,” she did provide some valuable advice for business and industry to integrate social media into their current plans. Bloomberg began by stating that it’s important to start with a plan, establish goals and objectives, and get to know the audience. She said that once an organization establishes that broad brush strategy, then they can start the process of incorporating the tactics.


Toby makes a point

Toby makes a point

Bloomberg discussed engagement in social media as bringing back the corner store relationships. She described the building of trust which allows organizations to take the conversation to a new level. The emphasis is not just on sales anymore, it’s about building relationships and communities. Also, businesses have to get away from just sending out messages and taking from consumers and move toward creating good will and understanding their publics. Bloomberg described this process as “ripping down that Wizard of Oz curtain.”


In addition to providing informative advice on how organizations can integrate social media into their existing plans, Bloomberg provided some examples of how some organizations who are succeeding at integrating social media.

Naked Pizza   This little pizza shop from New Orleans who experimented with Twitter used it to get to a small radius within their neighborhood. They found that 15% of all new business came from Twitter.

Donors Choose   Another great example of how an organization can drive their publics from offline to online and back. Someone can hand you a card, you go the Web site, experience the different projects, choose which project to donate, and then you get a response instantly from that organization. Depending on your donation level, you get anything from a post to your Twitterfeed or a widget on Facebook to a hard copy thank you letter mailed to you.

Dell Dell used integrative online strategy  to drive people to other online vehicles and drove their sales up.

Ultimately, the focus comes from the company and each individual business culture. The level of authenticity comes back to the person and the organization. Within each culture, how social media is personalized to convey the organization communication is decided and adapted based on the audience and message.

Toby Bloomberg is a widely recognized for her expertise in combining social media with traditional marketing values (strategy, customer insights, segmentation, etc.) while maintaining the authenticity of digital conversations. She speaks regularly on the topic to organizations and at industry events. Combining 20-years of traditional strategic marketing and with the lessons learned from her adventures in over 5 years with social media, Toby’s company, Bloomberg Marketing/Diva Marketing, works with (the people in) organizations to join-in on the new conversation, from blogs, to social networking to widgets to blogger relations and beyond, without getting blown-up.

“I hate social media.” – Jeremy Pepper on Integrating Social Media into Business & Industry

September 19, 2009


Jeremy tells it like he sees it

Jeremy tells it like he sees it

The crowd gasped. Our PR world stopped spinning. I think I felt a tiny earthquake. Did Jeremy Pepper, director of communications and social media for Palisades Systems, just say he hated social media at a social media conference? Yes, he did, and he had one heck of a good reason:

“The term ‘social media’ ignores what we’ve been doing in PR for the last 50 years. It’s a new term for things we’ve been doing forever; it’s just another way of engaging people.”

Public relations is all about using engagement to get  people excited about your brand, and social media is just one of the ways we as PR practitioners can do this. Pepper gave great examples of how companies are using social media to drive engagement from online to offline. Chick-Fil-A, for instance, holds tweet-ups to get mommy bloggers to come to their family story times. Pepper himself uses Twitter to find people that hate the competitors of his company. He then offers these people help or advice, and in doing so, creates fans and praise for his company.

Pepper says we need to step outside of our own little worlds and start seeing the endless options we have for engagement. Twitter is often seen as a purely Business to Consumer medium, but Pepper revealed that it actually works wonderfully for Business to Business communication. In fact, Twitter is where Pepper reaches most of his stakeholders.

While Pepper is not a fan of stunt PR, he admits that creating a buzz online drives buzz offline, and traditional journalism will jump in here. Journalists will write about an online hit, but that is not to say that social media is the end-all-be-all in communications. “Social media creates cowards,” Pepper said, “Even CEOs complain on Twitter about other companies. Is this really appropriate?”  He also thinks it creates unequal treatment and raises a good question: Do people with more followers deserve more attention or more respect?

One particular mommy blogger received a phone call from Maytag almost immediately after complaining about the company on Twitter. Is that fair? Shouldn’t social media be used to respond to all customer concerns? Isn’t the ability to interact with all consumers the point? Pepper thinks s0, and this mantra is what has made him an expert in the very term he hates. He shocked us, made some valid points and got us talking. Yep, sounds like Jeremy Pepper has this whole “social media” thing figured out.

Integrating Social Media in Non-Profits Panel: Tom Watson

September 19, 2009

Tom Watson is the Deputy Dean and Reader in Communications in The Media School at Bournemouth University in England. Before entering full-time academic life in 2003, Watson’s career covered journalism and public relations in Australia, the UK and internationally. He ran a successful public relations consultancy for 18 years and was chair of the UK’s Public Relations Consultants Association from 2000 to 2002. Tom presented at the conference via Skype.

Tom Watson presented information about the nature of nonprofits and how to use social media successfully. Watson views social media as playing a supportive role instead of a primary role in public relations. According to Watson, nonprofits have the potential to influence policy and maintain long-term goals, but the ability to win media coverage is extremely important.

Watson’s case studies found that donors were in support of using commercial activity for fundraising as long as the projects are aligned with an organization’s values. Acceptable items must represent the cause. Social media can be used for fundraising as long as it’s supplemental to traditional methods and not a replacement.

Watson presented information about three nonprofits Oxfam, World Vision and Trinity Center. Each of these organizations is integrating their Web site with their traditional media relations. World Vision has a Facebook fan page that has 24,000 fans, but there are 17 fan pages and 500 groups not affiliated with World Vision. World Vision can control the message on their own fan page.

The positive aspect of community pages and groups set up by fans is support from the community. The problem is the spread of incorrect information. Maintaining your own brand on social media is important for controlling that message and propelling it into the online communities.

The main point of social media in Watson’s eyes is the resulting word-of-mouth. Measurement should be based on mixing quantitative research with content analysis. It’s important about what’s being said, not just how many people are talking. Old metrics need to be applied to the new situation. Discover which blogs and Web sites are the creators of opinions and who are the followers. The positive word-of-mouth is the hopefully final outcome.

Integrating Social Media in Non-Profits Panel: Richard Waters

September 19, 2009

Dr. Richard Waters is an assistant professor from North Carolina State University (NCSU). Before returning to academics, Waters was the Director of Communication and Development for statewide healthcare organization in California. His area of expertise is fundraising in regards to non-profits.

Richard Waters (North Carolina State University)

Dr. Waters has conducted a great deal of research in fundraising in non-profits specifically quantitative aspects of the healthcare industry.  His findings show that there are some organizations that achieve great numbers with social media/technology, however there are also multiple organizations that don’t have great numbers (though people often disregard the failures).

Dr. Waters thinks that social media can be very helpful in terms of fundraising, but the face to face interaction is not going to be replaced. Though it is growing in numbers, Dr.Waters doesn’t believe in partaking in social media just because it is out there, instead we should think of a strategy.

Dr. Waters uses “Facebook Causes” as an example of using social media without strategy. The Washington Post showed that companies who used “Facebook Causes” had sub-par results. 73 percent of  the “Facebook Causes” on Facebook generate zero dollars. Though a lot of organizations partake in the application–not a lot of them see results because they dive in without researching. Even though, people are giving more than ever, e-fundraising has shown signs of decline because strategy isn’t being thought about.

Moreover, according to Dr. Waters, social media should serve as complementary tool to non-profits. Currently, it is being utilized as an awareness tool. He references a study done with a graduate student in NCSU, which looks at Twitter. They found that two-way communication is not occurring as much as we think. They found that a lot of organizations are using Twitter to publicize something opposed to engagement.

Additionally, non-profits NEED to involve constituents personally. If non-profits don’t, then the messages they send to constituents become spam.

Sara Valkova on Integrating Social Media in Non-Profits: Engage, Don’t Promote

September 19, 2009

3934459406_b0d295e1e7When non-profit organizations step into the social media world, they must first know their audience and have a particular goal in mind for reaching that audience, according to Sara Valkova of Emory Healthcare’s Web Marketing Team.

“Some non-profits are in the social media world because they feel like they should and don’t know how to use social media effectively. They are not engaging and not having a dialogue,” Valkova said. “Social media should be about initiating two-way communication between a non-profit organization and their audience, and not all about brand reputation management.”

An example of using social media as a way to connect with publics can be found in Emory’s February Heart Month initiative.  Emory created an online calendar with heart-related tips for each day of the month and also provided a newsletter full of heart-healthy tips. Emory promoted this initiative with a Facebook ad that targeted the desired audience, those at risk for heart disease. Not only is this an example of using social media tools to engage with your publics, but it also shows how traditional and social media can go hand-in-hand.

Emory also uses social media for direct and timely customer service. For example, some patients are more comfortable going to a public forum like Facebook or Twitter to complain about a bad experience at the hospital than directly telling their nurse. When Valkova and her team sees complaints like this in the social media sphere, they contact the nurse in the unit responsible for the complaint and directly address the problem.

“Our target is very defined, so we target that group and we go where they are,” Valkova said.

When asked about the future of integrating social media in non-profit organizations, Valkova replied: “Non-profits have to see what’s important to their audience in order for social media to work for them.” Just like the old adage says, you have to know where you are in order to know where you are going.

Sara Valkova is a web development specialist for Emory Healthcare and co-chair of the Emory Social Media Advisory Board. She is the driving voice behind Emory Healthcare’s social media initiatives and responsible for developing and implementing Emory’s social media tactical plan. You can follow Emory on Twitter @emoryhealthcare.


September 19, 2009


Is Social Media Transformational? “The Jury Is Still Out”

September 19, 2009


Aaron, Dan and (via Skype) Melanie

Aaron, Dan and (via Skype) Melanie

Although Aaron DeLucia, senior vice president of Porter Novelli, Austin, and Dan Greenfield, principal at BernaiseSource Media agreed that social media is transformational in the field of public relations, Melanie James, a public relations lecturer at the University of Newscastle, didn’t agree.


Greenfield believed that social media transformed the way organizations work in public relations. Back when he worked for MCI he would say “there’s this thing called the Internet and you have to use it.” It allows departments to collaborate in ways that they haven’t in the past.

“I think social media conveys the organization and the way it is organized, the authority,” Greenfield said. “All of the rules are being turned upside down. It is making PR and marketing work in ways it has never worked before.”

When responding to PR’s use (or over use) of great metrics brought up by Melanie James, he further used an example of how he created, organized and promoted PR Camp Atlanta, a workshop to bring public relations practitioners in Atlanta together to discuss pertinent issues in the industry such as social media, solely online. He said that although he sent two press releases about the event, not a single reporter covered it.

“If I didn’t have Twitter, it [PR Camp Atlanta] would have never happened. Twitter was responsible for getting people involved and creating a buzz about it. It was through non-traditional [PR] tools that I was able to make this happen. It was made possible because it didn’t cost me a dime to publicize the event, and that is a far cry from the PR when I first started.”

Aaron DeLucia thinks that Twitter has been the biggest transformation for PR and how corporations and organizations look at communication with their different publics, whether it is with journalists, customers, etc. DeLucia also believes that social media has created new relationships through its existence.

“You’re always connected and you always have to be available,” DeLucia said. “We’re interacting with people at different levels. You need to have a support person/technical person that will interact with the customer [that has the answers to the questions that PR practitioners can’t answer].”

However, James does not agree. She believes that it is transformational in terms of where public relations will be in the future but that it also comes down to the micro level in terms of what should PR practitioners actually do as opposed to the other departments within an organization or other industries in general.

“I have seen numerous turf wars in PR and marketing,” James said. “In Sydney, Australia, turf wars are tough between social media agencies, advertising agencies, and certainly social media has driven a lot of that. ”

However, they all agreed that PR practitioners still need to be responsive regardless of how organizations respond and need to take into account their online presence, relationship management and branding of their organizations.

United Airlines and the mishandling of one man’s guitar was discussed at length and because of this, Southwest Airlines is capitalizing on this mistake through mass media about the care they take in handling bags. The question became does having this online public outcry have an actual, bottom-line effect on the company. Have they lost customers? Do people remember? The case study is always accessible via search.

Furthermore, the panel discussed if the terms new media or social media are productive or interchangeable. The terms ‘horseless carriages’ and ‘information superhighway’ were replaced. Although terms do not matter as much, people have more control over content this content making everyone a spokesperson with the power and capability to shape or change a brand and its reputation.

Finally, students and social media were discussed with the fact that people around 21 years of age have a more personal relationship with the media. The panel believes that students must be taught skills to leverage their day-to-day use of social media.

Dan Greenfield on social media, Atlanta, and PR

September 14, 2009

Get to know Dan Greenfield in 4 quick Q&As:

Q. Your session is called, “Is Social Media Transformational?” Is this, in your opinion, an important question to ask? What do you expect your session to do in terms of answering this question?

A. I think it’s a very important to ask the question – because beyond the hype and hyperbole, social media is in fact transforming the message, the means to distribute it and the organizations that deliver it.  It decentralizes authority, redistributes power and redefines roles and responsibilities.

This session should define what social media is and its impact on the PR profession both in what we say and how we say it.

Q. You recently organized a PR/social media conference yourself. After that experience, what are your thoughts on the Atlanta PR community in terms of its knowledge, experience or use of social media?

A. Based on my experience organizing PR Camp Atlanta, I think Atlanta’s PR community like most communities in other cities is hungry for all things social media.

Social media is a moving target.  They want to manage its impact on the way PR is sold, practiced and measured.   They are realizing they are not alone in having many questions and few measurable solutions that they can take to their clients and bosses. They also realize that a generational divide exists between Generation Y and Generation X and Baby Boomers.  Young PR professionals have a more intuitive, personal relationship to social media, but lack an understanding of how to communicate with an organizational voice.  Their older counterparts may not how download apps on an iPhone or upload a video to Facebook, but they understand how social media fits into an overall communications strategy.  Together they can teach other how to manage change and deliver better results to their clients.

Q. What are your favorite blogs to read? Do you read mostly PR blogs, mostly media/comm, or something else altogether?

A. Increasingly Twitter is replacing blogs as my source for opinions and information.  Three years ago, I would tell anyone I knew to start a blog.  Now I tell them to use Twitter – even though I love to blog.  That being said, Mashable and ReadWriteWeb are essential blogs for anyone who wants to keep up with social media.  They help keep track of the latest developments and provide useful advice.

Q. What’s your personal favorite social tool to use? How has social media benefited you personally or professionally?

A. Twitter and WordPress. I wouldn’t be speaking at the Connect 2009 conference without them.  Enough said  (and I still have 35 characters to spare).

*** Update after panel discussion of ‘Is Social

A Midwestern Coastie: Interview with Lt. Connie Braesch

September 11, 2009

Lt. Connie Braesch is a 15+ year member of the United States Coast Guard and a Grady College alum. Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, she has been moved all over the country including Maine, Hawaii, Key West, and Alaska. Lt. Braesch will join us via Skype from Washington, D.C. where she is currently working at Coast Guard Headquarters as the Social Media Tactical Officer for Public Affairs. She will pair with Dr. John Tedesco to discuss the role of social media in the government.

When asked about the unique challenges the Coast Guard and the military at-large faces in their use of social media, she responded by saying the biggest challenge, outside of cybersecurity and operational security issues, is “providing the public an easily identifiable official source for information, which can be difficult to find in the decentralized and often puzzling online realm.” Braesch believes that “collaboration, search engine optimization (consistent tagging, identifiable URLs, regular content), and engagement are imperative.” To succeed, she cited it “requires communicators across the entire organization to be on the same page and driving towards the same goals.”

Braesch added that “This is not a simple task given the Coast Guard’s 11 mission areas and worldwide operations where every Guardian is a spokesperson for the service and (in the spirit of the social media tools) members, units and commands are encouraged to freely use social media to engage with the public. That’s a lot of cats to herd.”

Here are a few questions to get to know Lt. Braesch a little better:

Q: What are 3 facts (i.e. accomplishments, projects) about your career not found in your biography?
A: I am not sure these are so much as professional accomplishments as they are memories that I remember most about my career.

1) For three years, in addition to my duties as the Sector Northern New England Command Center Chief, I coordinated and oversaw maritime Presidential security operations for President George W. Bush when he visited the Bush family summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine. I am honored to have a picture with his father, President George H. W. Bush, and to have been one of the few people to get a private/autographed photo with George W. Bush.

2) For nearly two years, during my first tour in the Coast Guard as a young 19-year old, I trained Coast Guard Recruits in physical fitness during bootcamp.

3) In my 15 and a half year career, I have relocated ten times and driven across the entire United States from coast-to-coast and corner-to-corner (not sure how best to say that beyond driving from duty station to duty station, I have also driven straight from New Jersey to California, Alaska to Key West (via the Alaska Marine Highway ferry), and Connecticut to Hawaii (well, I didn’t drive to Hawaii 🙂 but I drove to Los Angeles and shipped my car to Hawaii).

Q: If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?
A: A Midwesterner’s Coast Guard Career (sure, it’s not very original but that is why I am in the Coast Guard)

Q: What (who) has been the biggest new media influence on your career?
A: I surely wouldn’t have the job I have now if it wasn’t for Dr. Karen Russell, Associate Professor at the University of Georgia. She introduced me to social media and challenged me to learn and adopt the communication tools.

I will never forget one of my first days as a Mass Communication Graduate student… I was a business management undergrad, had not been in school for six years, and had been in the Coast Guard for 13 years when I found myself sitting in Dr. Russell’s Public Relations Foundations class. She started to talk about wikis, blogs, social media, Web 2.0, and many other terms I had never heard before. I even raised my hand and asked how to spell “wiki.” At that point, I knew I had a lot to learn and was in for a wild ride. I spent the next two years focusing on social media and challenging my use and application of the online tools. One of my favorite and most profound classes was Dr. Russell’s Word-of-Mouth Communication – a definite must for any PR student.

Q. What single piece of advice would you give to a PR educator? A PR pro?
I am neither an educator or a pro but I was a student and I am now new to the field of social media. So, my advice for a PR educator is that although I have heard educators say that they do not feel that they should show students how to use online tools, I feel that providing them a simple introduction to the basics will give them the familiarity and confidence to take the next step and the next and the next… The tools can be intimidating, but once you start you realize how simple they are. The anxiety and anticipated technological limitations all slip away.

My advice for a PR pro is that for me, social media communications is all about teamwork. I think it is crucial to make sure social media communicators are either the subject matter experts or they have access to the subject matter experts to do fact checks and bounce ideas around. It also takes a team to collaborate, monitor, track, manage and engage in all the various tools that are used. It isn’t a one-person (or one-office) responsibility.

For more about Lt. Connie Braesch, read her blog My Coast Guard Career or follow her on Twitter @ConnieLea