Monday, January 31, 2011

Social Media & Publicity - 4 Press Release Alternatives


Peter Shankman, public relations guru who created HARO, has declared that the press release will be dead in 36 months.  According to former journalist Tom Foremski, a press release is created by a committee, edited by lawyers, and then sent out at great expense to reach the digital and physical trash bins of thousands of journalists.

Foremski goes on to say that press releases often start with a “tremendous amount of top-spin and pat-on-the-back phrases and meaningless quotes.” What’s the point of using a press release if it’s just an outdated piece of fluff?

So going back to what Peter Shankman predicted…is the press release really dead and should we ditch it altogether? With social media, it is not always mandatory to send out a press release. I still write and send out press releases for my clients, but it’s not the ONLY publicity tool I use in my “buzz-icist” arsenal.

Consider using these 4 press release alternatives:

#1 Blogger Briefing – If a social media release is the progression of press releases, then a blogger briefing is the “new” press conference. The concept is simple - when you have news to share, organize a conference call or video meeting with potentially interested bloggers

#2 Social Media Release – This is the most basic and obvious next step in the “evolution” of the press release. There has been hot debate whether social media releases really work, but they are obviously being used for a reason. Think of a social media release as an entirely “virtual” press kit - complete with links, videos, photos, and you can even integrate social media sites. If you are interested in creating social media releases, look into Pitchengine.

#3 Twitter “Chat” Tour – Twitter has an entire chat system with its own schedule filled with diverse topics. A “chat” tour involves making an appearance at different chats to promote news and your business/brand.

#4 Virtual Scavenger Hunt – Everyone has a website these days. An effective way of driving traffic to your site is by offering incentives. Hosting a virtual scavenger hunt on your site is a creative tool to drive visitors to your site. Virtual scavenger hunts also engage your target audience so they dive right into your site’s content.

I tend to agree with Peter Shankman that yes, the press release is on its way out. Social media is slowly replacing the press release with more effective, innovative publicity channels. There will always be the die-hard publicists who will stand by the traditional press release, but just remember you have more alternatives to choose from thanks to social media.

Need more online publicity ideas? Check out these inexpensive PR tools.

Friday, January 28, 2011

LinkedIn Answers - How to Market Without Really Marketing

The theme of my week was "LinkedIn Answers." If you haven't checked out LinkedIn Questions & Answers, you are missing out on potential online marketing opportunities. How can you market your company by answering questions? It's not like you can plug your company when you answer the question.

This week, I answered two questions this that involved non-profits and social media. Non-profit is my background so it's a natural fit. Ironically, one question I answered involved how can non-profits better utilize LinkedIn. As a result, my tips were included  in an article. I also will be quoted in another article about Facebook and social good.

So how did this happen? I shared my expertise by answering questions- that's it!  They asked me if they could use my quote/tips. 

I know what you're thinking: "I don't have the time to answer questions on LinkedIn let alone run to Starbucks to grab a latte" It only took me ten minutes to answer both two questions. Ten minutes that turned into an unexpected online marketing opportunity. I even cross-promoted my friend and mentor, Victoria Ipri's LinkedIn for the Clueless book in my LinkedIn answer. That was a double marketing whammy for us both. 

Here are a few tips to get you started on LinkedIn Answers:

1. Use your expertise to help others. Search for questions in your field of expertise/industry. Pick and choose. Don't answer just any question - stick with your expertise range. For example, I have a background in non-profit fundraising/event planning so I'm more inclined to answer non-profit and event planning questions. I also answer questions about public relations, copywriting, marketing, and social media.

2. Don't shoot off a one sentence answer. That isn't helpful. Offer "real world" examples that people can put to practical use. Include resources in the "Links" section and always extend the offer to help beyond just the question. I've had people follow up with me and ask additional questions. As a result, we added each other to our LinkedIn connections - a fantastic networking opportunity! 

3. Don't just answer questions but ASK questions. You have a plethora of industry experts at your fingertips so don't be afraid to jump in and ask for expert advice/help. Although, don't use it as a platform to get "free" advice 24,7. That's not the point behind LinkedIn Answers. 

4. Review the published answers before you answer the question. Someone might have already beat you to the punch. You don't want to look like a "copycat" and give a similar answer. 

5. If you haven't answered any questions on LinkedIn yet, make it a point to answer at least ONE question per week to get your feet wet. 

If you never thought about using LinkedIn as a potential online marketing channel, you might want to consider adding LinkedIn Answers to your marketing tool belt. It's the best way to market without really marketing - and saves you time since other people market your company/brand for you!

Give it a shot...and please share your success stories with LinkedIn Answers! I'd love to hear about your experiences. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

5 Steps to Avoid Negative Posts About Your Business

Before social media, a business could still be successful without being perfect. If customers were left unhappy or unsatisfied, then it was unfortunate but business owners didn’t necessarily lose sleep over it.

With social networking, it’s a completely different ball game now when it comes to customer service. With an endless supply of social media sites at their fingertips, the average (and sometimes spiteful) customer can now post scathing reviews that can easily keep away new customers.

If your business and/or employess fail to perform at your customer’s standards, then people will complain – that’s a given. And unfortunately, it’s a possibility that employees will get fired because of these negative complaints. As the saying goes: hell hath no fury like an ex-employee scorned.

It takes more than a few positive reviews online to effectively combat online negativity. Here are 5 easy steps to keep your online professional reputation intact.

#1 Never ignore complaints. All it takes is one negative tweet to that person’s 700 “friends” to bring an abrupt halt to visitor traffic on your site. And remember, people online feel like they have a cloud of anonymity to hide behind, so they won’t hold back. Respond to complaints immediately and always act professional - don't engage in online battles with customers.

#2 Offer compensation to unsatisfied customers. If conducting business with you was somehow an unpleasant experience, make sure you offer them reparation in the form of a freebie, refund, discount, etc. to encourage their future patronage.

#3 Develop a group of positive, loyal customers that are willing to make positive posts about your business. It might seem like cheating, but they are your real customers who really like your business, so why not?

#4 Send small tokens of appreciation to your more loyal customers who post positive comments. It’s amazing how much people value even the smallest gift when it’s unexpected - and it shows you really appreciate your customers' loyalty to your company.

#5 Make sure your terminated employees receive an exit interview. Sometimes employees just don’t work out and need to be let go. No one is more potentially harmful than an ex-employee when it comes to posting scathing comments. Exit interviews are critical, because it gives that person a chance to clear the air and vent complaints. You don’t want a disgruntled employee airing their grievances in a rash of angry tweets or Facebook posts.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Just one negative post from an angry customer or ex-employee could be your demise. By following these five steps, you’ll always be ten steps ahead of what’s being said about you online.

Friday, January 21, 2011

How to Play Nice on Social Media - Think Before You Post

As I wind down my series, How to Create Your Social Media Calendar, I wanted to share a few tips on how to "play nice" on social media. Sometimes we tend to forget that manners still apply to the Internet, and I think it's important to bring up up this point again. Don't use social media for your persnal "whiner" board. Social media isn't online journaling, and should not be used to to air negative grievances. Who wants to read complaints 24,7?

Before you blast your boss or co-workers on your Facebook, think before you post. Emotions can get the best of us, so take a few moments to calm down, breathe deeply and clear your head. 

Remember the following tips when commenting and posting updates:

1. You could possibly get fired  for what you post on social media accounts - there has been a lot of controversy in the news about this topic. Employees think this violates their freedom of expression but employers think otherwise. Unfortunately, many employees have lost their jobs and have also been sued as a result of what they posted about clients, fellow employees and even bosses. In this turbulent economy, that's the last thing you want to do - to lose your job! If you are a job seeker, be extra careful - your online past could come back to haunt you.

2. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. It's all about playing nice and being courteous to others on social media. Social media isn't about posting rude remarks and comments. People have a tendency to use social media as a smoke screen - because they are hidden, they think it's okay to be rude and mean.  Stay away from posting offensive language - it's not cute and only makes you look ignorant. 

3. Show respect for people's diversity. Remember that social media is a global audience and English could be a second language for some social media users. Derogatory comments about race, religion, culture or sexual orientation  have no place in social media (or offline either).

4. Use common sense. Don't post personal or confidential information about yourself or others. You definitely want to post contact information on your profile, but be cautious when  sharing information about your children, spouses, etc. Sometimes people aren't who they say they are on social media. Never give out your personal financial or bank account information. If someone wants to conduct a transaction with you, make sure it's legitimate and do your homework before buying any product or service via a social media interaction.

5. If you are a disgruntled customer or client, you have every right to post your complaint on social media platforms but don't pick online fights. Constructive criticism goes a long way. Companies want to know what they're doing wrong, and how they can improve (it's all about you - the customer!) Make sure you have all your facts straight before you post "incriminating" evidence about a company. Don't believe every rumor you read on your friend's Facebook wall. Investigate on your own - don't just jump on the negative bandwagon because everyone else doesn't like ABC Company. One false comment based on a rumor could really damage a company's reputation. 

If you can play well with others on social media, you will have a better chance of connecting and making real, authentic social relationships - remember that your future client could be reading your next  tweet. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

How to Automate Social Media Accounts in 5 Easy Steps

In my last  post, I showed you how to plan your social media calendar and mentioned the importance of automating your social media accounts.

Social automation software saves you time so you don't have to log into multiple accounts on a daily basis. The software allows you to log into one software program to manage multiple social media accounts at once - it's that easy!

Here are 5 easy steps to get you started with your social media automation:

1. If you don't have Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts, sign up for them first and make sure to fill out your profiles accordingly (include company logos, your photo, etc.) Make sure to create a company Fan page in Facebook. 

2. Choose an easy-to-use automation software such as HootSuite, Postling or choose from this comprehensive list.  Research and reviews about the software before you download it. Check out CNET for more information about the best social automation software out there right now.

3. Choose a social automation software and download the software onto your computer. Make sure the software is a good fit for you and your company - understand how the software works before you download it. 

4. After downloading the software, set up your account and create your profile. Make sure you read through the Help Section so you understand how the technical aspects work. Social automation software is user friendly - if you can navigate through your social media accounts, you will be able to handle automation software. 

5. Be prepared to link your social media accounts' passwords to your automation software - you will need your passwords in order to sync your social media accounts to the automation software.

That's it! Now you don't have any excuses to use social media more efficiently. Social media automation saves you a lot of time and it's easy to log into one program where you can do everything at once - from writing blog posts to creating tweets. The software also allows you to read and reply to followers' comments and posts. 

Now it's time to take all the tips I shared in my series, How to Create Your 2011 Social Media Calendar, and create a winning, strategic social media calendar for 2011. 


  • Who is/are your target markets?
  • What are key milestones/events coming up for your company/business?
  • Keep track of your industry's latest trends and news.
  • Create a master calendar spreadsheet for your social media updates and blog.
  • Be consistent with your social media marketing - don't slack off with your calendar.

And...Use social media automation software and you'll add hours to your busy schedule!





Friday, January 14, 2011

How to Plan Social Media Updates

In my last post, I discussed how to plan your blog editorial calendar for the year. Now that you have your blog calendar nailed down, let's examine how to set up your social media updates. I know what you're thinking, "I don't have time to post my updates." Oh yes, you do! With these easy steps below, you don't have any excuses NOT to schedule your posts for the week (or even month, for that matter!)

Before you dive into setting up your updates, keep the following tips in mind for your accounts:

  • If you create a custom background in Twitter or Facebook, make sure it looks professional and include  your picture and/or your company brand.
  • Even master social media plans and goals can be changed. Evaluate your goals and objectives on a weekly basis. Has anything changed with your company? Do your social media accounts and/or profiles need to be updated as a result of these changes?
  • Is your messaging consistent? What could you do better to improve your social media message? Use social media measurement tools to help you research and evaluate if your social media message is working for, not against, you. Here are some helpful apps/widgets.
  • Are you tweeting or posting enough? Too little? Too much? Are you receiving positive feedback/comments as a result of your tweets/updates?
  • Make sure you create (or update) your LinkedIn profile and include your photo. There are certain marketing strategies when it comes to LinkedIn. Check out Victoria Ipri's LinkedIn for the Clueless - she takes you step-by-step through LinkedIn and teaches you how to build dynamic, optimized profiles. 

How to plan your social media posts:

1. Use a similar calendar like I suggested in how to plan your blog editorial calendar. Include an additional spreadsheet page and name it: "Social Media Updates."

2. Follow the same steps as I outlined in my previous post. Make sure that your content is consistent and pay attention to your company's "milestone" events throughout the year. Highlight key messaging, events, timely industry news, etc. 

3. Automate your social media so you don't have to do all the work. Implement social media automation & project management tools such as HootSuite, TweetDeck or Postling. Check out this comprehensive list of social automation software. 

4. It is important to post/schedule social media updates on a daily basis (for Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook).  You can automate posts (make sure to include links to stories, websites, etc.) but make sure you don't turn into a "robotic" social media user. Don't just post and never respond to other users' posts. It's important to comment on a regular basis. Be interactive but don't be annoying either. Don't go off on too many random tangents - stay focused with your messages and don't tweet about your kids or dog 24,7 either. 

5. There are different opinions on the best times to post updates. Suggested high-traffic times are: 10 am to 12 pm and retweets between 4pm - 5 pm. These time frames are highly subjective, and may not work for every social media user. It really depends on your traffic and social media measurement. Maybe 8am to 10 am are better times for your target audience. That's why it's important to measure your social media and figure out what time frames are working or not working.

6. Pay attention to the latest news and trends throughout the day. Don't forget to retweet other newsworthy and timely posts, especially when it comes to global news. Remember that social media touches the world so think beyond just your town/city, state and country. 

7. Don't blast updates every two minutes. Spread out your posts every few hours and don't be preachy or annoying with your updates either. It's easy to waste your day on Facebook so remember to spread out your social media usage throughout the day.

8. If you are busy, schedule your social media management into your calendar and do it on a daily basis. Even if you only have ten minutes to spend on your social media each day, stick to that schedule and be consistent. Schedule that time in your calendar and set up alarms/reminders so you don't forget to work on your social media.

9. Don't reinvent the social media wheel. Sync your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts together. I will discuss further tips and tricks in my next blog installment - how to sync your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. It doesn't make sense to update each individual account - it's all about automation! 

10. This is my personal pet peeve. Remember your manners! Use Netiquette at all times with social media - if you don't want your mother or boss to read it, then don't post it! The point behind social networking is to lend a hand and to share your expertise in a helpful, supportive way. It's perfectly acceptable to express your opinion in group discussions, but remember to be tactful and respect other people's opinions, cultures and backgrounds. Social media is all about real, authentic connection so don't come across as fake or egotistical. You'll easily lose friends and followers that way! 

Since time is a huge factor when it comes to staying on top of social media, don't miss out on my next post, How to Automate Your Social Media Accounts in 5 Easy Steps



Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How to Plan Your Blog Editorial Calendar

Before you sit down to actually plan your blog editorial calendar, make sure you read the steps I outlined in my previous post about How to Create Your 2011 Social Media Calendar
Before you start planning, consider the following questions.
 What is the editiorial purpose behind your blog? 
  • What are you trying to achieve with your blog?
  • Is it entertaining, serious, educational, etc.?
  • Before you pick topics for your posts, figure out the purpose behind your blog. Don't write a blog just for the heck of it - think niche and be specific. Don't be 'general' with your blog's purpose and focus. 
  • For example, don't write a blog about general "green-friendly" topics. Hone into a targeted topic - green-friendly fashion or even more specific: green-friendly clothing for babies and toddlers. 
Who are your targeted readers? 
  • Do you have sub-markets you want to reach besides your main audience? For example, your blog appeals to real estate professionals but mortgage lenders, home appraisers and title companies would also highly benefit from your information. 
  • What are your readers' likes, dislikes, wants, needs, demographics, etc.?
What topics and trends interest your readers?
  • What's the latest hot industry news? 
  • What problems can you solve for readers in your blog?
Have you researched your competitors' blogs? 
  • Get a pulse for what's going on in your industry.
  • Dig into competitors' posts and find out what's hot and not - read their comments.
  • Are their posts well-received? Do they have a huge reader following?
5 Easy Steps - How to Plan Your Blog Editorial Calendar:
Step #1  Look at your calendar for the year. Pick months, weeks and days according to significant milestones, events, news, etc. within your company or industry. For example, if you're a tax consultant April would be a great month to post tax tips.
Step #2  Figure out how many posts you'll write and publish each week.  If you post only two times per week then remain consistent. Don't write one post every other month and forget about your blog - that's the kiss of death for a blogger. You can save time with posts by writing and auto-scheduling posts ahead of time. Hint: Mix up your blog with longer posts/articles and shorter posts. Some bloggers post every day and some only once a week - it's up to you how  many posts are feasible to write/publish each week. Just be consistent with your posts!
Step #3  Create a calendar spreadsheet in Excel or Word that details the following: title of blog post or topic and "to be published" dates.
Step #4 Optimize your blog with keywords by reviewing your blog research, topics, information etc and include key words in your calendar.
  • For example: Topic: How to Write Winning Content, Date: March 1, 2011, keywords: content writing, copywriting, how to write better content
Step #5 Write and schedule posts BEFORE your published dates. Don't wait until the last minute to write your posts. That's the entire point behind having a blog editorial calendar - so you can easily plan ahead!

 WordPress and other blog platforms allow you to schedule posts at any time - day or night & 24,7. Look into social media automated software such as HootSuite or Postling - makes it easy to write, manage and schedule posts.

There is a great WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin that is very helpful and will move you in the right direction - saves you a lot of time!

Stay tuned for Part Three in my blog series...How to Plan Your Weekly Social Media Updates 

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Big Digital Picture - How to Create Your 2011 Social Media Calendar

Did everyone survive their first week of 2011? It's been a busy week filled with deadlines and projects. I've jumped into the new year as a super triple tasker. 

I wanted to pass along some helpful tips to get you motivated and help steer you in the right direction with your social media calendar for 2011.

Stay tuned! I will be sharing a series of posts in the upcoming weeks about how to really hone into your social media messaging and how to create an actual social media calendar that you can stick with this year!  

Have you thought about your actual social media messaging for this year? The biggest mistake companies and solopreneurs make with their social media is that they jump full-steam ahead into social media WITHOUT having a plan or an editorial calendar.

BEFORE you start tweeting and adding Facebook friends, back up that social media trainand think "big picture" with your social media messaging. You need ideas and topics, before you can even begin updating and posting. 

Start with a few basic questions. If you don't have time to create a full-blown social media marketing plan right now, I suggest you ask yourself these FOUR IMPORTANT questions: 

1. WHO do you want to reach? Target markets/audiences? 

2. WHAT are your targeted audiences/markets biggest problems/issues? 

3. HOW are you going to solve your above target markets/audiences problems in 2011? 

4. WHAT ACTION do you want your targeted audiences to take? Think measurable and bottom-line!

Take that BIG PICTURE focus and then narrow your focus even further.  What BIG "newsworthy" EVENTS are coming up for your business in the next three to six months? Break these events down on a monthly basis: 

  • Do you plan to launch new products or services? 
  • Do you plan to restructure or rebrand your company? Layoffs? New hires?
  • What hot trends are happening in your industry? Keep up-to-date with the latest industry news and information!
  • Are there big changes (new laws, economy, etc.) on the horizon for your industry that could affect how you do business?

Then you need to delve even deeper. What should you be thinking about/doing on a daily basis that will help plan your social media calendar?

  • What do you read? Newspapers, books, online ezines, etc.?
  • What are you main sources for industry information? Newsletters, trade journals, blogs, etc.?
  • How and where are you researching your targeted audiences likes/dislikes, issues, etc? Find out where your audiences/target markets hang out (online, that is!) 
  • Who is saying what? What are your industry leaders, company executives, decision makers, etc. saying that is worth passing along?
  • What expertise or valuable resources do you have at your fingertips that you can effectively use to stimulate social media conversations and genuine interaction? 

The purpose behind your social media message is NOT to shove the latest and greatest product or service down your audience's cyber throats. It's all about engaging people in real, authentic online conversations. Don't be a fake. Offer real help and expertise and always be courteous via social media - Netiquette rules to live by in 2011.

Instead of blasting out what you had for dinner last night and how Dan was the best dancer at your holiday party, think strategically and research before you plan your social media calendar. There are plenty of online resources available at your fingertips AND remember you do NOT have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to your content.  

Another helpful tip: use a spreadsheet document on your computer  or mobile device so you can actually create a running list of topics and ideas for your social media messaging, blogs, etc.

Hope these tips nudge you in the right social media calendar direction! Start off your 2011 on the right foot by planning and creating your social media calendar NOW! 

Stay tuned for Part Two: How to Create Your 2011 Social Media Calendar... 

How to Plan Your Blog Editorial Calendar for the ENTIRE YEAR!


Monday, January 3, 2011

What Does Our Social Media Future Look Like?

Happy New Year! Hope everyone had a happy, healthy and safe holiday season.

Where is our social media future headed? The following Microsoft video dates back from 2009 but its impact still hits home as we begin 2011.  The video features what our technology future looks like in 2019 - which is just eight years away. 

This Microsoft video made me think about where our social media future is headed - what trends will we see in 2011 and beyond?

Here are some trends to watch for this year:

  • Location-based marketing: Service-based companies such as restaurants, hotels, and retailers will see a huge spurt as people feel more comfortable using FourSquare and other location-based apps.
  • Mobile marketing campaigns: Text campaigns for mobile users will explode this year. Small business owners will take advantage of this affordable mobile marketing. A great way to connect easily and quickly with customers!
  • Cause social marketing & tweet-a-thons: Charities and non-profits will jump on board and utilize Twitter to mobilize their online fundraising campaigns. This is great for promoting causes and building relationships with online donors - the future of non-profit fundraising! 
  • More review sites: We'll see an influx of consumer-review sites - an effective way to track your online reputation, and allows you to pay attention to what customers and clients say about your company brand.
  • Plug-ins and more plug-ins: Plug-ins will skyrocket and hundreds more will surface each month to make our social networking easier and more efficient.

I can't even BEGIN to fathom what social media will look like in 2019. Or will something bigger and better come along to blow social media out of the water?

Where do you think social media is headed? What are your predictions for 2019? 


Therese Pope, Copywriter/Content Developer & Digital Buzz-icist

Content Writing & Marketing Tips ** Online Buzz Branding

** Digital & Social Media Strategies