Tuesday, September 30, 2008

If NPR is in the Social Networking Game it Must be Here to Stay

From the AP:

National Public Radio, already strong online with free downloads from many of its shows, is boosting its digital ambitions with Monday's introduction of social-networking features akin to Facebook.
NPR also plans to overhaul its Web site and expand the tools for sharing its programs elsewhere over the next few months. And it is working to increase the flexibility of its popular "podcasts," audio downloads that have tripled in usage over the past two years.
These digital initiatives are aimed at capturing and retaining audiences -- particularly younger people who aren't habitual radio listeners but who represent the future for fundraising at NPR's member stations.

NPR and Facebook? Does it fizzle/does it pop?

PN Corp Interviews Peter Shankman

Didn't know this happened. Pretty cool. PNNY’s Matthew Snodgrass interviewed Peter Shankman about HARO and the ProfNet controversy. Any thoughts on this from the PR community?

Using Twitter to Become Part of the Conversation

The following tips come from a Cision executive tip sheet on how Twitter can become a key element of your communications effort.

Not a day goes by without hearing the terms social media, blogging, micro-blogging, Twitter, FriendFeed, etc. The question is, how do these services apply to public relations and can they be used to help you improve program execution and results? More important, how can they be used properly without getting burned? Millions have flocked to Twitter, a messaging application that has become the rage among the technorati, attracting more than 12 million registered users so far. Top technology industry analysts, PR and marketing pros, editors and writers, the big names influencing social media, corporate executives, community managers and others can be found at all hours of the day tweeting their thoughts and ideas or providing links to sites delivering critical information.

Many public relations and communications professionals see the growing community of editors, analysts and influencers congregating on Twitter as a “goldmine” of potentially useful contacts. But that is where the potential problem begins. If it is a goldmine, it is one that has to be mined appropriately and carefully. Don’t view Twitter as simply another channel through which you can pitch editors and other influencers. Instead, view it as a means to establish relationships with those who in the long run could help you and your clients.

Here are six tips on how to get involved with Twitter and other “micro-blogging” services, and what practices to avoid if you want to create meaningful relationships with key influencers who may be receptive to hearing and writing about your clients’ products and services:

1. First, get in the game.

The first thing you need to do is to sign up to participate. This is an extremely simple process. Given Twitter’s popularity, it should be your first stop. However, also consider signing up with FriendFeed, Identi.ca and several others. A simple Google search on the term “Twitter” will turn up thousands of articles that likely cover many of the competing services worth investigating.

2. Choose your friends.

Services like Twitter are of little value unless you find the right people to follow. Once you find people with interests similar to yours to follow, and once you start posting your own thoughts for other to see, you will start attracting your own followers. When you find a few valuable Twitter friends, you can then review their lists and find others to follow. You will quickly have a solid list.

3. Listen closely.

Sit back for awhile and follow the conversations. See what is being said about specific industries and even specific companies or products. You may even read things about your company or a client. Learn what interests the people you are following. In addition, there are tools that allow you to plug in a search term and see what is being said about a company or a topic. These search tools can also help you find the right people to follow. [My favorite site to search for what other's are saying about our clients is www.summize.com - If they are talking about our client, I usually end up following them.]

4. Time to start talking.

Once you feel comfortable, you can then enter the conversation. Respond to topics and post your own topics, thoughts or ideas. If you see an interesting article, post a link to it. Closely follow which of your posts seem to generate the most interest and post more of the same. At some point, one of your followers or someone you are following may send a direct message to you asking you a specific question or looking for further details on something you posted. Also, interesting and provocative posts usually attract more Twitter followers. [I usually try to post links to good blog posts or articles about our client as well. If they offer a fresh perspective or a good tip, usually others want to hear about it.]

5. To pitch or not to pitch.

Having established Twitter relationships with key influencers, the next question is, do you actually pitch them on Twitter? Most cases, the answer is no. Unless, of course, you have established relationships through direct messaging, and you feel the target of your pitch will be comfortable receiving it. Many influencers who are on Twitter would bristle at direct pitches, so it is best to be careful. However, the information you gain on Twitter should help you with your pitches moving forward, be they via email, telephone call or other method.

You can, however, post client news, although it is strongly recommended that you do not spam. Many agencies and PR/social media professionals are avid Twitter users and when they post news from a client they clearly label it as such. And, they usually keep this type of post to a minimum. In addition, numerous companies have Twitter accounts that they use for various reasons, including developing stronger relationships with customers or to distribute news.

6. Improve your writing skills.

Twitter’s 140-character limit per post might seem imposing at first. However, it eventually becomes a great way to improve your ability to tell a story in a few words. Being able to make a clear point or communicate a message in 140 characters or less on Twitter should help you to become a more succinct and better writer when it comes to developing pitches and other communiqués. There are several Twitter users who have taken to writing 140-character news releases and they have been able to effectively communicate a story.

To sum up, technology and the internet have put a new level of communications tools in the hands of PR professionals. Used properly, these tools can give you and your clients a major advantage. Used poorly, they could end up hurting you and your clients. Make sure you have a game plan in place before running on to the Twitter field.

Friday, September 26, 2008


It’s fall again here in Seattle, the time when the warm sunny days of summer give way to the gray. And cold. And wet.

Some people turn to football to get them through the season. Some turn to the local breweries. But here at Porter Novelli, we turn to comfort food.

Next Thursday will kick off Crocktober, a month of surviving/celebrating the fall. Every week we’ll have a warm and soothing lunch, cooked in a crock pot and sponsored by a member of the PN family.

Everyone is encouraged to celebrate Crocktober, at the level of participation where you feel comfortable: providing a crock pot, sponsoring a week, bringing food, offering recipes or just eating.

Please comment here to participate; it'll be PNawesome. Happy Crocktober!

Oct 2 – Cliché Crock, sponsored by Charlie
Oct 9 – open
Oct 16 – Olé Crock, sponsored by Libation B
Oct 23 – open
Oct 30 – open

Crock pots provided by:
Charlie, The Pickle, Big Cat, Baconmeister and Alyssa Pone

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Maybe We'll Have to Suspend the Internet Too...

Vint Cerf, the “father of the internet” predicts that we will run out of IP addresses in the next two years.

Perhaps it won't matter if the economy is so shot we can't pay for electricity anyway.

Flu Season is Here

No doubt the PA team’s focus on public health and our daily news reading on the subject has me paranoid. And with flu season officially here, I can’t resist sharing tips from CDC about how to protect yourself and those around you. It's nothing we haven't all heard before, but a nice, timely reminder, I hope.

  • Get a flu shot-The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year.
  • Cover your mouth and nose-Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.
  • Clean your hands-Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth-Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact-Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  • Stay home when you are sick-If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
  • Practice other good health habits-Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

I also recommend hitting the Zicam, Airborne or Emergenc-C when people around you are sick or you first start to feel symptoms.

Take care!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

But Will it Pass PN's Security Test?

Google and T-Mobile launched their version of the iPhone today.

I met iPhone (though sadly don't have one...) and you, Google, are no iPhone.

Nothing but a number

Here's a new buzzword to add to our lexicon...Numerati. In his new book, Business Week writer Stephen Baker explores the data miners who are going through the endless amount of data on human behavior to discover insights on everything from health care, to politics, and of course, marketing.

Big Brotheresque freakiness aside, The Numerati seems like a fascinating read for PR people. While groundbreaking insights can be culled from our credit card use or soda habit, there are some insights that seem like a stretch. For example, Democrats are likely to be cat owners, while Republicans are of the canine persusion. (really?) How much should we rely on this data as we're crafting pitches or building entire PR plans? And how do we weed through the mess?

For reviews of the book and Baker's blog posts relating to the material, check out:

And if you're interested, Baker will be at Elliott Bay Books on September 30th. I think I might attend...anyone care to join me?

The Press Fights Back

In the case of the ongoing national embarrassment that won't end, the McCain campaign initially barred reporters from covering Palin's meetings today with the UN and world leaders. They offered to let in one pool camera but no editorial coverage. In return the media revolted and pulled the camera--in effect refusing to cover the visit.

Turns out the press won and the McPain camp let CNN in with both a camera and (gasp) a producer. While the farce deserves no coverage it will be fun to watch her ask Hamid Karzai what his son's name is...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fridayside Follow-up: NYT, Amid Market Turmoil, Some Journalists Try to Tone Down Emotion

A NYT article from Sunday offers interesting insight into coverage of the financial crisis and how the media are choosing their words very carefully. They're riding a fine line--not wanting to create panic, but not wanting to minimize the danger either.

It's a great follow-up to our discussion at Fridayside on this topic. Check it out: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/22/business/media/22press.html

Friday, September 19, 2008

Did You See Bud Light's Emmy Winning 'Swear Job' Commercial?

Anheuser-Busch won it's first-ever Emmy for a commercial that never actually aired on TV! According to the PR team the 'Swear Jar' commercial has been viewed 12 million times online. I think it's safe to say that this video had some viral legs that took it very far!

Drudge Report Named #1 News Site

When it comes to website optimization is a high bounce rate a good thing? I've always viewed it as a bad thing because you are loosing customers. They took one look around, didn't see anything they liked, and left. Maybe I've been thinking about this the wrong way.

If you look at the Drudge Report, who is now the #1 news site and has 500 million monthly page views, you start to see things differently. Their entire site is made up of links, which means their entire model is based off of sending people away from their site. The length of time their users spend on the site is the amount of time it took them to find what they were looking for. The shorter the amount of time the better and they always come back wanting more. So they've got a high bounce rate and a high percentage of returning customers.

The bottom line is to give your customers what they want. Don't try to bait them into clicking from page to page to keep them on your site. The faster they find what they are looking for the happier they'll be, even if that means sending them away to a third-party site.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Be careful!

In this evening's queries email, Peter Shankman calls out a couple of PR people who aren't following the rules. Here's the rant that starts his email:

"Hey listen - I hate to bring this up again, but it would see that WOW Public Relations, specifically Nan Murray and Chris Burres, continue to SPAM HARO reporters. Now, I know for a fact that I've kicked them off the list, but for whatever reason, these people don't get it. Here's the problem: They continue to spam on behalf of their client, Patrick Wanis - I've talked to Patrick, and he's told them to stop, yet WOW public relations continues to SPAM reporters. So, if you get an unsolicited email from them, know that they're not welcome on HARO, ever. I'd never, ever work with them, nor would I ever recommend them. I personally have added @patrickwanis.com to my killfile, and you all might want to consider doing the same. It's sad - some people just continue to do the wrong thing, despite being told repeatedly why it's wrong."

I am glad to hear that Peter is keeping PR people accountable, but I would not want to be called-out in an email to thousands of people. This is a great reminder for all of us to be responsible about sending pitch emails. Not just because Peter is watching, but because it's the right thing to do.

If you don't know who Peter is, I recommend checking out his blog at http://shankman.com/.

Too bad summer is over. Otherwise this woulda been on the PA Team's "books for the beach" reading list...

Not even yet released on Amazon.com but able to pre-order:

Encyclopedia of Pestilence, Pandemics, and Plagues.


"From the Athenian flu pandemic to the Black Death to AIDS, this extensive two-volume set offers a sociocultural, historical, and medical look at infectious diseases and their place in human history from Neolithic times to the present. Nearly 300 entries cover individual diseases (such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, Ebola, and SARS); major epidemics (such as the Black Death, 16th-century syphilis, cholera in the nineteenth century, and the Spanish Flu of 1918-19); environmental factors (such as ecology, travel, poverty, wealth, slavery, and war); and historical and cultural effects of disease (such as the relationship of Romanticism to Tuberculosis, the closing of London theaters during plague epidemics, and the effect of venereal disease on social reform)."

Take that Bird Flu...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run

As many of you know, I completed my frist Ironman triathlon this past weekend in Madison, WI. I'd say I fizzled and/or popped during the race, but I'm not sure which one would best describe the feeling the last three miles on the run gave me after a little more than 10.5 hours of swimming, cycling and running.

Here is a link to my race report if you are interested.


I'm a sucker for purdy things...


You can thank my Morocco connections for this one. It’s a tool that is designed to take data sets that you provide and turn them into a variety of graphical representations.

Here is Obama’s speech at the DNC, turned into a word tree with McCain as the roots. http://services.alphaworks.ibm.com/manyeyes/app

I’m still wrapping my head around what it all means, but I do know that it at least looks cool and I’m a sucker for that.

I can see this tool making a cool graph for a client that has plenty of data to work with… say Coinstar or HPWatch? Once again, I don’t know how but I do know that it would look cool.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Your Secret PR Weapon…

… can be your employees. A company that treats employees well is on the short path to good PR and not to mention karma. For example, I recently splurged at Restaurant Zoe in Belltown. Our waitress eagerly explained she has been with the company eight years—a member of the original staff to be exact. Our other server had been with Zoe for three years. This type of employee retention in the restaurant industry is unreal. Our waitress had nothing but amazing things to say about Zoe’s owners, chef, sous chef and staff. She bragged about the food and helped me decide which foie gras fit my taste. (I chose the seared hudson valley foie gras with roasted organic nectarine, lovage puree and pan vinaigrette).

She not only did her job well, she acted as the best spokesperson a company could ask for in this situation. Just watch, her next table may be the New York Times food critic in town for a Northwest vacation. If so, Zoe need not worry. The employees have your back.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Martin's Gorilla Gram Birthday Surprise

For all those that weren’t able to make it to Fridayside last week please enjoy the following video and please excuse the poor camera work as I was laughing too hard to keep the camera still!

Martin – The big surprise is WHO was actually in the suit…. ☺

Software Launch as Comic Book

Google has a way of doing things a bit differently than its competitors.

Their minimalistic home page is like a blank canvas compared to the overwhelming barrage of icons displayed at MSN and Yahoo.

So it was no surprise that Google went nontraditional with the product announcement by posting about their new open source browser 'Google Chrome' first on its corporate blog, then in comic book form an hour later.

In this case, Google succeeded. By explaining their new application using a fun, alternative medium, they were able to translate tech-speak with greater ease (the term 'Asynchronous API Development' doesn't exactly roll off the tongue).

Plus, the company was able to present their software engineers in the comic as articulate folks wearing jeans. And cool t-shirts.

Google Video For Business Launches

Over the past couple of weeks we've created several videos at PN that we've wanted to share with clients and others in the PN Network without making them accessible via YouTube for the world to see. The problem with adding your 'private' video to YouTube is that you have to send out special invitations to your friends in order for them to see it, which means you have to take the time to invite a client to be a friend, wait for them to accept, and then invite them to view the video. It's a really long process that isn't all that efficient in a world that demands instant gratification.

I was thrilled to learn today that Google just launched 'Google Video For Business' - I only wish it were free!

The app is similar to YouTube, only the security is better and they make it easier to send secure videos within your office or network. The application enables workers to....

Share rich video information – Video sharing makes important communications like internal trainings and corporate announcements more personal, engaging and effective.

Keep videos secure and private – Employees can securely share videos with select coworkers or everyone at the company without making confidential information public.

No large files or complex infrastructure – Google securely hosts and streams your videos, so employees don't need to share videos over email, or burden IT for a video solution.

Everyone at your company can contribute – Employees can share videos instantly. Viewing and annotating doesn't require any special software, just a standard browser.

Google Video for business is now available as part of Google Apps Premier Edition at no additional cost (the suite itself costs $50/user/year). Each Google Apps Premier Edition domain gets 3GB of Video storage per user account, with a file limit of 300 MB per video.