Posts Tagged ‘Connect09’

Blog posts about Connect

September 28, 2009

Read what Toby Bloomberg, Dan Greenfield, Bert DuMars, Tom Watson, and Karen Russell had to say about Connect.

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Peeking Behind the Curtain at Southwest – Paula Berg

September 20, 2009

After being introduced by Melissa Taylor from Porter Novelli as a little “wacky and off the wall” and heading the blog called “Nuts about Southwest,” we knew we were in for an interesting keynote. Paula Berg did not disappoint, providing the group with an entertaining look into how Southwest airlines integrates social media into their communication.

Berg started by providing us with the background of the “Nuts about Southwest” blog. Originally it started as a way to follow up the A&E series Airline featuring Southwest employees. The success of the show revealed increases in sales and job applications. The airline had no editorial control over the show and though at times there were some “cringe moments,” they trusted their employees to represent the company.

After a nine-month planning phase, the blog team had established the main goals and objectives and found those “people who oozed Southwest” to post to the blog. Their overall plan with social media was to connect with people they way they wanted to connect. In the process, they got to know their audience including those who wrote aviation blogs and participated in forums related to aviation.

Case Studies

Berg also discussed a few case studies featuring how Southwest has used social media in various situations. Each provided Southwest with valuable lessons to incorporate into their overall strategy. When they asked their customers to comment about their preferences between open and assigned seating, they got an overwhelming response to keep their open seating policy.  Southwest learned “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and more importantly to keep what makes them unique.

The airline has faced two major public relations situations in recent years, involving sensitive topics. In the first one, the received negative feedback in a situation regarding a woman wearing revealing clothes being asked to cover up by flight attendants, they chose to wait before responding. As a consequence, when Southwest again faced negative feedback dealing with the “too pretty to fly” story, Berg revealed they applied the lessons and created a three-pronged approach to respond. The plan provided an online spokesperson, create an official statement, and a YouTube video.

One of the biggest threats to the Southwest reputation happened in March 2008 when the FAA fined the airline $10.2 million for inspections. This situation was the first where the legal department stepped in to limit the conversation. Berg said that they could only repost information already posted, but not create any new content. Though the received much fewer comments during this situation, they learned to “take every situation seriously.”

Berg also discussed some of the tools Southwest uses outside of the blog. The airline uses YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. One of their most popular recent videos was of a rapping flight attendant. That video sparked popularity for others on their YouTube channel. He has since been dubbed the rhythmic ambassador for Southwest.

In all of the case studies discussed, Berg emphasized that the “micro interactions lead to lasting impressions,” providing organizations with a unique opportunity to connect with their audiences.

Berg left the group with four key takeaways:

1)      Establish channels before a crisis

2)      Don’t be afraid to join the conversation

3)      Act fast – don’t hesitate

4)      Build a strong team

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.

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.

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

Getting to Know Dr. John Tedesco

September 11, 2009

One of the academics joining us at Connect this year is Dr. John Tedesco from Virginia Tech, paired with Lt. Connie Braesch of the U.S. Coast Guard, discussing social media in the government. Tedesco is an Associate Professor and Director of Research and Outreach in the Department of Communication at Virginia Tech.

He attributes his doctorate from the University of Oklahoma as his most important accomplishment allowing him to do the work he loves including teaching public relations and political communication courses as well as his research into politics, media, and young people.

Tedesco identified the following as facts you won’t find in his biography:

1) I am one of three American political communication researchers invited to join the 2009 German National Election Research Team led by Michaela Maier at the University of Koblenz-Landau.
2) I co-edited a special issue of American Behavioral Scientist devoted to media, politics, and young voters.
3) I am a two-time recipient of the University of Oklahoma’s President Award for Teaching Excellence given to four faculty members each year.

When asked about the first Web site he visited every day, besides e-mail, Tedesco stated “It varies.  During the past couple weeks, the first site I visited was the US Open site to get updates on the latest tennis matches.  I’m a huge tennis fan.  You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter.”

Additionally, he identified RSS feeds as being the biggest new media influence because he does not need to visit all of the different sites he’s interested in and “before RSS, surveillance and tracking were very difficult to accomplish.”

His advice to PR educators and professionals is “do your research, especially if working on campaigns.  Don’t assume your experience with an audience or a market is sufficient as audiences and markets shift regularly.”

For more information on Dr. John Tedesco, please see his Virginia Tech profile and follow him on Twitter @jctedesco