Friday, October 9, 2009

Dr. Charles Fornaciari presents tough ethical issues in today's Web 2.0 world

Charles Fornaciara, Ph.D joins us from Florida Gulf Coast University for this afternoon's topic on modern professional ethics.

What do we mean when we refer to Web 2.0 technology? Wikipedia says that this media promotes interactivity and sharing of information on the web. How is this different from traditional media?
1. It's interactive - traditional media was a one-way communication. This allows everyone to become part of the message.
2. Unstructured environment
3. The communication flow is uncontrolled
4. Always occurs in real time, all the time
5. Web 2.0 is all about the end user

Fornaciara asks us several questions that get our brains churning - when does technology cross the line?

Facebook and Beacon - in November 2008, Facebook announced a new service called Beacon. Facebook members who took actions at Web sites of Facebook partners would have related information posted to their page. Users would have to explicitly prevent this action from happening on the partner sites. This produced an extremely negative reaction - 14,000 Facebook users posted a petition against the partnership. Facebook finally agreed to let users opt out of this service as a result.

Google's GMail ad words technology - Google opened GMail to invited users, but did not tell anyone that a program would be looking at the e-mails people were sending to find keywords that matched ad content. Matched ads would appear on the screens of target users. Using GMail is a voluntary activity, and ad words are still being used frequently.

Fornaciari offers suggestions to combat potential Web 2.0 ethical nightmares:
-Develop a list of guidelines and stick to them.
-Slow down and think before implementing. Consider potential problems and work through the scenarios.
-Be careful and aware of permissions and privacy acts.
-An organization must truly listen to its audience, instead of reverting to the traditional one-way broadcast communication.

Thanks to Dr. Fornaciari for a thought-invoking presentation!

PRU session: Effectively Integrating Public Relations and Advertising “Drive or Crash” with Michael Goldberg

In this digital day and age, it may seem like the “wild west”: everyone is working to be at the top of their game to ensure clients and companies continue to see the value of what we do. Michael Goldberg, EVP-Chief Marketing Officer of Zimmerman Advertising, says Pivotal to our survival is a realization that it is our job to “sell stuff.” No matter what position we are in, it is important that what we do has a positive impact on the bottom line – which never lies, said Goldberg. We must continue to be valuable.

Showing our value can sometimes be one of the main difficulties for PR professionals with all the intangible benefits that we know about, but we must adapt to stay in the game. Goldberg says we are at an intersection, and we must grab the wheel and drive if we want to make it in the future communications landscape.

Part of that survival is working together effectively with other players on the field. Goldberg talked about being relentless in pursuit of clients and customers by focusing on results. “There’s a thin line between brilliance and true insanity,” Goldberg said. He believes that sometimes, it the best ideas may just be the wildest at the time, but it is important to be fearless to achieve success. He used the Crocs shoes campaign to demonstrate how to connect to customers and boost the bottom line in a brave way (using voices from both those who love and hate those croslite plastic shoes!). This was a great example of how public relations and advertising worked together.

In other Wild West territory, digital age news, Goldberg reports that Social Media has overtaken the Pornography industry as the as the top reason people go online…hmm.

High Tech - High Touch Panel Discussion

Lynn Schneider, APR, CRPC; Tina Haisman, APR, CPRC and Newt Barrett addressing several issues, and answering questions. We'll try to get them all in here!

Q: If and when should PR jump into the conversation online?
Lynn: She says "The same old PR skills still apply!" Gave a real-life example about answering a negative comment on a public forum utilizing a personal approach and PR skills. Never argue opinion, just correct factual information when appropriate.

Q. Tell us about the "Million Dollar Coupon Campaign" and strategies to use.
Tina: The goal was to create buzz, the coupon wasn't expected to "sell" the house. Initially was going to use a traditional approach, but came across and decided to use the service as an experiment. When it hit the web Tina set up a Twitter account for the client and tweeted the headlines as they appeared. Tina emailed David Meerman Scott to thank him for his book "The New Rules of Marketing and PR" which inspired this approach. Scott replied and asked permission to use the project as an example on his blog and in the next edition of his book!

Q. Tell us more about how content marketing affects public relations.
Newt: Get a mental image of a book cover - "The Tale of Two Cities"..."It was the best of times, it was the worst of times". That's where we are now. Ten years ago the media controlled access to the public. Today you can go directly to the public. PR and content publishers are inextricably intertwined. Must think like publishers - discover what problems the target market is experiencing and create compelling, relevant information for them.

Other thoughts from panel?
Lynn: All of us are looking to build relationships. To do that find the affinity between you and your publics.
Tina: Some tech info - I chose the media visibility package from PRWeb because they distribute to the Associated Press.
Newt: Used a couple of examples of local folk using blogs to build a web-like internet presence, free marketing!

Lynn: For us, the number one source of quality leads is still through resident referals. Need to go back to the quantity vs. quality discussion. If I have x number of hours to devote to cultivating leads, where do I spend them?

For Newt: Once you build your blog, how do you get it "out there"?
Newt: The single most important thing is to understand who your target market is and that you market exclusively to that market. Combine timeless content with timely content, continually adding to the timely content. Be precise about what you write about. If the content is there you will be found!

Don't let your online voice develop multiple personalities! Solis shares some final thoughts.

Every brand has a voice online. A "personality style guide" should be developed to promote consistency. We don't want to convey multiple personalities once the online identity has been established. Above all, we must be transparent and believable. This is how we earn influence.

For information on influencing, go to to find out what to look for, how to follow influencers, etc.

Thanks to Mr. Solis for this informative session! You can e-mail him at

Next up: Lunch! I know my stomach is growling, how about yours?

Solis tells us how to listen, influence and help our audience find what they're looking for

Solis spent a year monitoring the social web. The important part is listening, documenting, and reaching your audience where they are talking about you most. This is not just Twitter and Facebook! There is not just one audience. People are going to their networks of influence to learn, ask questions and get feedback.

So, what exactly is influence? It's the ability to inspire action and measure it. If you give people something to do, activity and buzz increases.

It is important to be strategic in titling, describing and tagging your content. Use as many tags as are relevant. Be specific and know what your audience is looking for when creating these items.

We must also be aware that, once we engage our audience, we need to send them somewhere just as engaging. For instance, if someone clicks on your Twitter link because they are interested in a product you mention, would you send them to your homepage or straight to your Web store instead? Make sure you are pointing your audience to a place where they will be able to continue the interaction.

Solis tells us how to get involved - and how to track our efforts

It is ever-important for us to continue to learn about and decide how to reach this new audience. Experimentation is a must, and through that experience we will be able to find out what works -- and what doesn't. Tracking our activity and the response of our audience to each action allows us to really see the impact of what we do online.

But, Solis stresses this point:
Just because we have access to these social media tools doesn't mean we have something interesting to say!

By no means is it OK to post fake reviews, fake blogs or any intentional misrepresentation. These are found out very quickly!

The way social media is influenced (in order):
Customer Service, Communications, Branding, Marketing

For instance, an incident occurs, the organization has a listener to find out about it at which point customer service and communications are the most important responding forces.

We must find a way to keep our audience engaged and compelled. Did you know that YouTube is the second most popular online search engine? More people are going there to search for content - only second behind Google - looking for something to share. Everything begins with search, so we have to make sure that we show up where it matters! On every single social media site, the most important way to find the information we need is the search function!

Instead of using Twitter search, use a service called Collecta. It will bring every tweet as it happens, any blog post, any Flickr image and YouTube video straight to you in real time!

Use a service called Backtype to find information in the comments sections of blogs and other social media - this is where people talk! This allows us to find out what the general public - not just the blogger - is saying.

Brian Solis shows us how to put the public back in PR

Our next speaker, Brian Solis, Principal of FutureWorks, visits us straight out of California.

He asks us, "Who is using Twitter and Facebook for business purposes right now?" Nearly the entire room full of people shows their hands.

Solis shows us a comparison of monthly visits to popular Web sites:
CNN - 30 million
Twitter - 25 million
Facebook - 300 million
MySpace - 260 million

Did you know that more than 1 billion photos are uploaded to Facebook each month? Wow! These eye-opening statistics prove to us just how important social media has become in the constantly changing practice of PR.

People have said that social media is killing public relations, but this is actually our opportunity to step out from behind the proverbial curtain and influence this realm. Our audience is becoming more engaged and interested in interacting with us.

Social media is not just a broadcasting medium - instead, it is more about making connections. It's about creating an experience for our audience. It's about telling a story. So when Anheuser-Busch wanted to premiere their Super Bowl advertisements with a social media news release, Solis and his firm created a site that turned the cameras around and showed "the making of" the ads. They included video embedding code, links and other items that his audience could easily access, copy and paste into their own mediums.

If you want to create a social media release yourself, visit It is a free site!

What's NOT News Q & A

Is it possible to refocus a story? Example: Client was contacted to provide a counterpoint to the first position, first position was inaccurate.
Everybody has an agenda, people lie to the media all the time. PR needs to talk to the reporter, provide facts to counterbalance, engage in a dialog. Media does not WANT to broadcast inaccuracies.

What do you do if media gets it wrong, reporting inaccuracies?
Pick your battles. If you call a reporter on the mat on little bits, they will stop calling you to source. If the facts are inaccurate, provide the correct facts. We trade in credibility and we won't run from our mistakes!

Time's up! Thanks so much Judd Cribbs!

Up next...Brian Solis of Futureworks - author of "Putting the Public Back in Public Relations"!

What's NOT News...Final Tips

Eliminate the words "No comment" from your vocabulary. If you can't comment, explain why. The media wants every side, and wants the story to be accurate. They fact check, but they don't break down doors. Don't ignore them!

Air times are accurate to the second. Always be ready to do the story at a moment's notice!

Staging a news conference? Be aware of camera angles, lighting issues. Have your speaker available after the conference for short interviews - if you can arrange different backgrounds for each network, so much the better.

You may have several people you'd like to have interviewed at an event, but more than likely there's only time for one interview, so make sure you have a primary interviewee selected.

What's NOT News Continues...

Judd Cribbs continues with examples of using "people words", encouraging us to make sure opening lines are not loaded down with archaic language. (And yes, "archaic" would not be considered "people words"!) In other words, do away with the technological language, make it so easy a caveman could understand it. (And here Judd does his caveman imitation - you really should be here!)

Okay, so you've sent out your press release, what should you do next...

Respond! If you are contacted to provide a source, make sure you find out the reporter's deadline and confirm any appointments necessary to facilitate.

Respond! If your company uses an automated phone answering system, make sure there's an option for media to connect immediately; on your personal voice mail, make sure to offer the media a number to connect with you immediately; make sure the media has your cell phone number; do everything you can to facilitate communications.

Respond! Investigate a little further by determining WHY the media is interested in your story - how will it be presented, what is the media's goal. Open a dialog with the reporter. Both of you have key messages to get across, make sure they are not at cross-purposes.

So, the key for this section is...Respond!

What's NOT News

Welcome to PRU - High Tech - High Touch! Our first speaker is WINK-TV reporter Judd Cribbs, a perennial favorite in Southwest Florida. He's telling us about "the file", where all the press releases, notices, etc. are kept. They get over 1,000 emails a day! And about 20 reporters have access to it, to spread the work around!

So Judd is about to tell us how to get through "the clutter"....

Building the relationship is still important, it can be as simple as a phone call saying "Hi, I'm Jane Smith and I'll be sending you press releases about Company XYZ".

Must grab TV reporters' attention and QUICKLY. "News organizations have about 6 seconds to get the viewers' attention, and you have about the same amount of time to get ours!"

DON'T bury the lead! If your story is about 28 elephants walking down the street, make sure that's in the first paragraph.

Story angle: Make sure you're clear on the story angle in the press release. Remember that stories for TV must have a visual angle.

Looonnnggg press releases will be ignored, there's just not enough time to sift through them.

When you're writing/pitching, think about the viewers - who will care and why.

Don't tax the reporters' "mental energy units"! Write in "people terms". For example "members of law enforcement" = "cops"!