Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Social Media Tool Review of Radian6

Our Communications Department had the opportunity earlier today to follow along in the Radian6 Dashboard Overview Training Webinar leading up to our pilot of the social media monitoring, measurement, and engagement program.

Here are the initial thoughts, observations, and items that jumped out at me as being significant from my perspective:
  • One of the best examples of an intuitive layout for web design
  • The ability to Search Media Types is impressive. They are pulling data for...
    • Blogs - searching RSS feeds for titles and content
    • Video - by tags, titles, and descriptions
    • Images - by tags, titles, and descriptions
    • Mainstream News Media - online sources
    • Micromedia - FriendFeed and Twitter (but mostly Twitter)
    • Forums - comments and replies powered by BoardReader.com
    • Comments - powered by Backtype.com
  • Source filters provides exact match using multiple search strings
  • The query builder easy to use so it would be hard to screw up a Boolean search.
  • Influencer EQ lets you exacly adjust what you consider to be an influencer versus other tools provided.
  • The imagery of their "River of News" is extraordinary (so is its functionality)
    • Real-time monitoring option or specific date range
    • Keyword search
    • Workflow option designed for active engagement and includes taffing results, audit trail, and the social profile for any source. (Loved this feature)
  • Conversation Cloud visualization with color/size for keywords (the easiest thing to understand for those unfamiliar with aspects of social media)
  • Widgets include Topic analysis and trends, New Influencers View (powered by compete.com), and vote count, which equals bookmarking on sites like delicious.com, Digg.com, and Reddit.com.
As we get further into this pilot I hope to have additional feedback to share on Radian6. I invite other users of Radian6 to share their thoughts via comments. I am trying to not be too "rah, rah" about this program since I haven't actually used it yet. (I am failing to stay objective.) However, from what I've seen so far, this program runs deep with potential for monitoring, measurement, and analytics and I look forward to jumping in.

Photo credit: Radian6

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mr. President, the community has some questions

The Obama Administration is furthering what I think is quickly evolving into the first Social Media Presidency. I wondered what we could expect from the Administration back in November as in if we would start seeing something unprecedented from our country's leadership.

So far I've been pleasantly surprised at the amount of new levels of government access and openness through things like the Whitehouse.gov Blog, Presidential addresses via video, and the recently announced, new feature called "Open for Questions."

According the announcement post,
"'Open for Questions' is a new experiment for WhiteHouse.gov, the President’s latest effort to open up the White House and give Americans from around the country a direct line to the Administration."

They are inviting people to participate to participate in the community-moderated online town hall by submitting question as well as voting on submissions from others.

It's important to note is that this new "Open for Questions" feature is referred to as an "experiment" three times (twice in the text and once in Obama's video). I'm curious as to whether or not they followed the scientific method and developed some hypothesis for this new offering.

It will be interesting to observe the outcome of this and no doubt other experiments designed for listening. So far, the initial social media integration still has the potential to work since it comes across as being a genuine interest in the thoughts of the people. I like what commenter Jessica wrote on a post by Doug Haslam earlier this month:
"The real question is: Is Obama ready to change the way the people interact with the government (with or without new media)? If the answer is yes, then the new media stuff will come in time."
I would say "Open for Questions" is a new way to interact with your government. What do you think?

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Friday, March 20, 2009

SPJ8 Panel: Blogging and Web Site Creation Demystified

I have the privilege to be part of a small panel at the Society of Professional Journalists - Region 8 Conference in a session called Express Yourself: Blogging and Web Site Creation Demystified.

I will join Mike Orren, founder and publisher of Pegasus News and Jake Batsell, lecturer for SMU's Division of Journalism and faculty adviser to The Daily Mustang.

We hope to provide attendees with some tips, tricks, tools, and techniques to leverage online writing skills. There is nothing magic about this stuff, but it does take commitment, willingness to learn and practice for those wanting to be remarkable.

Recommended Tools
Feel free to Download the Recommended Tools or access the Recommended Tools Links covering the following:
  • Blogging platforms
  • Website builders (when a blog isn’t enough)
  • Master your domain
  • Rights and privileges
  • Measure
  • Market
  • Beat Blogging
  • Images
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Rockstar tools
  • Local examples of good small / solo sites (some journos)
Also, please let us know if you have a suggested link to add in these categories via comments.
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Save My Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." ~ Mark Twain

I loved that J.R. Labbe, deputy editorial page editor of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, wrote a rebuttal response for the recent article in Time magazine article listing the 10 Endangered Major Newspapers and ensuing chatter, news stories, and commentaries produced claiming the impending end of my local newspaper.

I want to focus on a section of her response that piqued my interest because, in my opinion, it sheds some light on the future for my hometown paper:

How information is delivered is secondary to making sure the information is available, because whether you want news in paper form on your driveway, downloaded to an iPod, tweeted on your cellphone or accessible on your laptop computer, a robust and competitive press is vital to our democracy.
Bloggers and other new-media news operations enrich the public dialogue. But the work of bloggers and twitterers and vloggers who are commenting on the news largely depends on the painstaking reporting that is supplied by traditional journalists.
Interesting. While acknowledging the necessity of a free press in society, she seems to hint that in order for a newspaper to stay relevant in today's technology enhanced landscape, it must find a way to insert itself in the conversation as opposed to just getting a conversation started. Yes, the informed community depends on traditional media outlets having the wherewithal and provide top-notch journalists to pay attention, research, report, and yes, even investigate the various news many of us have come to enjoy.

The problem is many people would just shrug if their local paper closed. Sometimes, it isn't even worth noting in the national media landscape. That is the bad news. The good news is this; papers like the Star-Telegram who explore opportunities to not just survive but rather adapt and change online, have a fighting chance if they make some smart moves.

The Star-Telegram is already doing some positive things from my perspective. By engaging the community through various blogs, providing multiple news RSS feeds and bookmarking/sharing tools, and most recently entering in some solid conversations on Twitter, The newspaper is showing that they have the propensity to change. But they should not stop there.

I don't know how to save a local newspaper as some others claim. However, I do know one thing that I would share to any business in trouble - your best thinking got you to where you are today. Why not try listening to your community?

Listen to Your Community
If they are willing to listen, I have a couple of suggestions for the Star-Telegram:
  1. Stop expiring articles to an archive - This is not hard. Unless their online archive system is bringing in a ridiculous amount of its revenue and it would cause irreparable hardship on the bottom-line, there is no reason to move content behind some pay-for content archive.

    Benefit - Bloggers, Twitterers, and Vloggers would then be able to re-purpose content beyond just initial intent to keep the conversation going. This enhances the community by providing quality and factual basis for user-generated content. Just as Labbe writes, "When there are no watchdogs, little good can happen. Someone has to be willing to stand up and challenge power, rattle people’s prejudices, debunk their paranoia and hold politicians and bureaucrats accountable." Let the community help in accountability especially since we live here too.

  2. Allow for comments on ALL news articles - This is not hard. I don't understand why news outlets don't automatically provide for comments on articles. Community feedback is an excellent measurement tool and would help in determining just how (if) reporters and columnists were connecting with readers.

    A quick glance at the Local News page on the Star-Telegram yields a view like this one:

    What's wrong with this picture? Quite simply it looks to me that the Star-Telegram is only interested in what I think about two articles. Why should a news outlet decide what I can or can't comment on? Just curious.
Be Better For Your Community
Will these two things save the Star-Telegram from itself? No, not in and of themselves. So why do them? Because of what they claim to be for Fort Worth and Tarrant County - "some of the most knowledgeable members of the community on a broad range of issues, people who have excellent writing and presentation skills, who directly connect their newspaper daily with the community they serve."

Since they understand that "bloggers and other new-media news operations enrich the public dialogue," the Star-Telegram should use those resources to help spread their content and not stifle the conversation. The newspaper needs to lose the mindset of being better than the community, but rather be better for it. The community wants them around for the next hundred years, we just want them to be better at what they do.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

33 Things Every PR Person Should Read

You might be asking yourself, "why '33' things? I mean that seems like a random number."

The reason is simple. Today is my 33rd birthday and I wanted to give you a present. So I present to you the 33 tips, trends, and thoughts that struck me as worthy of sharing with you from some of the best writers that I've come across:
  1. Let Them Be Heard (The Buzz Bin)
  2. Implementing Social Media on your campus (Squaredpeg.com)
  3. Why communicators should get to know SEO (Shannon Paul's Very Offical Blog)
  4. Do you know who you're talking to? (Logic + Emotion)
  5. "I'm Just the PR Person" (PR Squared)
  6. Selling PR Measurement at Work: Rehashed (The Intersection of Online and Offline)
  7. Grow Bigger Ears in 10 Minutes (Chris Brogan)
  8. 8 Excellent Tools to Extract Insights from Twitter Streams (Grey Review) 
  9. A Quick ‘n Dirty Guide to Setting up Social Media Monitoring (Social Media Explorer) 
  10. A Social Media Glossary (The Buzz Bin) 
  11. 11 Ways to Find Brands & Companies on Twitter (Online Marketing Blog)
  12. E-Book on Social Media Marketing (PR Squared)
  13. Your News Page is the New Newsroom (Conversation Agent)
  14. How Journalists Can Leverage Social Media (Social Media Explorer)
  15. Social media transparency: How realistic is it? (The Harte of Marketing)   
  16. Being successful with social media = creating value for others (The Viral Garden)
  17. Licensed or not, Public Relations is a profession (a shel of my former self)
  18. How parenting skills (or lack of) affect customer relationship building (Communicators Anonymous)
  19. Getting Social Media Approved By Your Boss (The Bizz Bin)
  20. What Does the PRo of the Future Look Like? (PRos in Training)
  21. The Micro-Sociology of Networks (Logic + Emotion)
  22. Mirror Image: PR pros v. Salesman Sam (LAF)
  23. The Thin Line Between Confidence and Arrogance (Flacker) 
  24. How to Present While People are Twittering (Pistachio)
  25. Five Tips for Media Relations Success (David Mullen)
  26. Creating social media guidelines for your employees (Bryan Person)

  27. Personal Branding is Your Interview Suit (T-Mo's Garage)
  28. How to Become a Superstar: Give Your Knowledge Away (Communication Overtones)
  29. Social Media Ghostwriting: The Great Marketing/PR Debate (The Harte of Marketing)  
  30. This is not a newspaper: Why ghostblogging doesn't work (Shannon Paul's Very Offical Blog)
  31. The Practical Guide To Content Tagging In Social Bookmarking (Social Media Explorer)
  32. People don't trust company blogs. What you should do about it.  (groundswell Blog)
  33. The Ultimate Productivity Toolbox for Creative People (Lateral Action)
Whew! That's a long list. I know I have a few source repeats, but I read some pretty great stuff. I hope you take some time and go through this gift of resources. You may even find new writers to follow. I know I have. Also, let me know if you have a particular post that is of interest that you'd like to share in the comments below. The party is yours.

Photo credit: kentigern

Friday, March 6, 2009

Twitter is kind of funny

To Tweet or not to Tweet - That is the Twestion, I mean question.
Here's a funny five minute segment making fun of Twitter by John Stewart.

I've heard the silly jokes about tweets, tweeple, Twitterers, twerps, etc. The fact is, they are all true! Twitter can seem really silly when it comes down to it. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great communication and networking tool for professionals and I come across awesome things because of it. I just wish it was called something better. Something more manly. Maybe Word Explosions. We could all be "bombing" each other, and...oh wait, never mind. Tweets work just fine. Now back to your regularly schedule blog posts.

Monday, March 2, 2009

I'm here to HELP

The other day my wife and I were carpooling to work. Our kids were in the backseat and our oldest asked, "Mommy, why do you have to go to work?" to which my wife replied, "Well, I go to help people."

Her answer got me thinking and reminded me of something I recently heard at a professional conference. Last month I attended the Texas School Public Relations Association's annual conference. The first day's keynote was delivered by national speaker and motivational humorist, Riney Jordan. Among the many thoughts and stories that Riney shared was a bit of advice for those of us in the education profession: We are here to HELP.

School Public Relations people should HELP education
  • H [Hear] We have to hear (read: Listen). This should be an obvious for PR people. We need to be aware of and anticipate issues within education industry, the campuses, our students, the community and how they might impact the organization. School PR people must be available for counsel and open to constructive criticism.
  • E [Encourage] We have to be able to encourage. A school PR person's encouragement comes from generating useful, relevant, and worthy press releases. A school PR person's encouragement comes from understanding (or first, wanting to learn) how to engage the community. A school PR person's encouragement comes from believing in customer service as the framework for best practices in internal/external communications.
  • L [Love] We have love them. It takes a special person to be a teacher. I believe teachers have to love what they do and love the students they teach in order to be effective. A similar love for education is necessary for school PR people to reach internal/external audiences. This is not an easy trait to demonstrate, in fact it is quite challenging especially when you deal with the things that get thrust on school PR people. But, love is necessary for a foundation of a successful career in education.
  • P [Prepare] We have to prepare. Teachers prepare students for the next stages in their educational careers and life. This one has a dual meaning for school PR people. Our efforts should accentuate the service of our teachers and staff. We need to also prepare ourselves for what's now and what's next. Just as we have to anticipate issues that impact our district, we have to anticipate and explore issues and trends in our professional industry. 
Can you do these things? Do you want to HELP each day? If you can't or you don't want to do these things, please, do us all a favor and don't stay in (or get into) school public relations.