Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Social Networking for Nonprofits

I had the pleasure of presenting a social media session for the Fort Worth Funding Information Center's Business & Breakfast Series entitled Social Networking for Nonprofits 101. It was billed with the following description:
Are you challenged with understanding social media? Not sure how to justify it as a necessary business strategy? Social media provides many exciting, accessible and affordable communications tools for non-proft professionals. Attend this session to learn why social media is integral to your marketing success through using basic and advanced techniques with Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter.

To be clear, social networking engagement can be an intriguing part to successfully incorporating social media into strategic marketing/communications plans for nonprofit organizations. However, there are a number of other steps including listening, measuring, and monitoring that in my opinion need to be explored, researched, and ultimately taken in order to truly be successful.

For the purposes of this presentation, I stuck with the engagement area among the social media tools at your disposal and concentrated on social networking. If you attended this session, please leave some feedback. Have any thoughts? Speak your mind.

Also, links from the above presentation and additional resources can be found here:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Citizen journalists and real-time PR issues

I ran across a Twitter posting (or tweet) from the Austin American-Statesman this morning that caught my attention:

When the link to the's homepage was clicked, this was the lead story with picture:

Upon a closer look, we see that the photo was via Twitter (@MrRyanPerkins to be exact):

[Here's the image via Twitpic.]

Why is this significant?
What if this was at a school or daycare? What if this was at a local sporting event? What if this was your place of business?

As a communications/PR professional, it is imperative to be aware of Twitter and Twitpic as additional online sources that anyone can use to disperse information (and be sourced by the media).

We should all by now be very familiar with another (much larger) example of a citizen taking an opportunity to capture and share an image from their perspective.

On one hand, I am impressed with the quickness and openness of Twitter user to share what he saw with the rest of us. I also continue to be impressed with news outlets, such as the, that continue to adapt to new media and engage their communities.

On the other hand, it is a bit unnerving to think about the potential for problems for an organization who could easily get blind-sided by this type of information sharing.

Speaking to the communications/public relations folks:
Are you ready for this?

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Texas School Districts on Twitter

A colleague from another school district in north Texas and I were recently talking and he informed me that he had been keeping a running list of Texas school districts that have Twitter profiles.

He was kind enough to share his list for posting in our mutual hopes of advancing and highlighting the use of social media tools by school districts.

Texas School Districts on Twitter
(Note: The date/time stamp are for the district's first tweet if that information could be determined.)

     Related District  Twitter account  First Tweet Date  
  • Mansfield ISD      mansfieldisd      3/14/2008 14:47
  • Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD     hebisd     5/22/2008 10:52
  • Pine Tree ISD     PTISD     9/8/2008 16:31
  • Galveston ISD     galvestonisd     9/14/2008 0:21
  • Winters ISD     wintersisd     1/27/2009 6:55
  • Ysleta ISD     ysletaisd     2/6/2009 9:26
  • La Porte ISD     lpisd     2/15/2009 19:11
  • Rockwall Schools     rockwallschools     2/27/2009 11:38
  • Arlington ISD PIO     aisdpio     3/1/2009 8:56
  • TEA     TEAinfo     3/3/2009 13:13
  • Burkburnett ISD     burkburnettisd     3/4/2009 14:47
  • Midlothian ISD     MidlothianISD     3/6/2009 11:25
  • Bandera ISD     banderaisd     3/9/2009 9:47
  • Mission CISD     MissionCISD     3/9/2009 13:38
  • Kerrville ISD     kerrvilleisd     3/12/2009 14:48
  • Grapevine Colleyville ISD HR Dept     gcisdjobs     3/17/2009 8:51
  • Northside ISD     nisd     3/19/2009 11:27
  • Lytle ISD     lytleisd     3/20/2009 12:57
  • Calvert ISD     calvertisd     3/23/2009 10:43
  • Keller ISD     KellerISD     3/23/2009 14:12
  • Navasota ISD     navasotaisd     3/23/2009 23:19
  • Judson ISD     jisdnews     3/24/2009 7:53
  • Carrolton-Farmers Branch ISD     cfbisd     3/26/2009 11:28
  • Childress ISD     childressISD     3/30/2009 11:19
  • North East ISD     NEISD     4/3/2009 16:54
  • Duncanville ISD     DuncanvilleISD     4/7/2009 21:21
  • Northwest ISD     northwestisd     4/10/2009 9:26
  • Alvarado ISD     AlvaradoISD     4/13/2009 12:47
  • Bryan ISD     BryanISD     4/22/2009 9:23
  • Humble ISD     humbleisd     4/24/2009 9:14
  • Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD     SCUCISD     4/27/2009 16:03
  • Tomball ISD     TomballISD     4/28/2009 7:52
  • Aransas County ISD     ACISD     4/29/2009 7:30
  • Spring Branch ISD     SBISD     5/1/2009 9:53
  • Eustace ISD     EustaceISD     5/3/2009 9:03
  • Marion ISD     MarionISD     5/3/2009 9:53
  • Chilton ISD     ChiltonISD     5/13/2009 7:26
  • Fort Worth ISD     FortWorth_ISD     5/14/2009 9:36
  • Irving ISD     IrvingISD     5/15/2009 8:52
  • Red Oak ISD     redoakisd     5/28/2009 15:25
  • Santa Gertrudis     SGISD     6/3/2009 14:38
  • Galena Park ISD     GalenaParkISD     6/5/2009 13:26
  • Magnolia ISD     magnoliaisd     6/10/2009 20:45
  • Lake Dallas ISD     LakeDallasISD     6/16/2009 17:21
  • Jayton-Girard ISD     JaytonSchool     6/21/2009 11:16
  • Fort Bend ISD     FortBendISD     6/24/2009 14:29
  • Longview ISD     longviewisd     7/1/2009 15:04
  • Crawford ISD     CrawfordISD     7/2/2009 13:54
  • Coppell ISD     CoppellISD     7/10/2009 8:23
  • Runge ISD     RungeISD     7/15/2009 19:31
  • Sabinal ISD     Sabinalschool     7/17/2009 13:41
  • Hico ISD     HicoISD     7/22/2009 12:03
  • Lexington ISD     LexingtonISD     7/27/2009 19:53
  • McGregor ISD     McGregorISD     7/28/2009 15:21
  • Livingston ISD     LivingstonISD     7/29/2009 14:09
  • Fort Sam Houston ISD     fshisd     7/30/2009 11:20
  • Spring ISD     SpringISD     7/30/2009 13:13
  • Tatum ISD     tatumisd     8/3/2009 18:41
  • Texas Tech University ISD     TTUISD     8/4/2009 14:49
  • Shallowater ISD     shallowaterisd     8/7/2009 14:45
  • Archer City ISD     archercityisd     8/10/2009 13:40
  • LewisvilleISD     LewisvilleISD     8/18/2009 9:37
  • Skidmore Tynan ISD     stisd     8/20/2009 14:57
  • Fort Bend ISD (50th Anniv)     FBISDTurns50     8/21/2009 8:32
  • Bynum ISD     Bynumisd     8/22/2009 6:28
  • Aubrey ISD     aubreychaps     no tweets yet (8/24)
  • Denton ISD     dentonisd     no tweets yet (8/24)
  • Frisco ISD     friscoisd     no tweets yet (8/24)
  • Junction ISD     junctionisd     no tweets yet (8/24)
  • Lumberton ISD     LumbertonISD     no tweets yet (8/24)
  • Richardson ISD     RichardsonISD     no tweets yet (8/24)
  • Whitewright ISD     wwisd     no tweets yet (8/24)
  • Cedar Hill ISD     Cedarhillisd     no tweets yet (8/24)
  • GanadoISD     GanadoISD     protected (8/24)
  • Hawkins ISD     Hawkcountry     protected (8/24)
  • Weatherford ISD     wisd     protected (8/24)
Updated on August 24, 2009

This list will be updated on a regular basis. Please let me know if you run across any additional Texas school districts that run Twitter profiles via comments.

(Texas-sized hat tip to Dave Nielsen and his list on HEB ISD Web site | Need a quick Twitter lesson?)
Photo credit: iammikeb

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Facebook Rocks the (Site Governance) Vote

When I logged into Facebook this afternoon, I was pleasantly surprised to see a call for the community to vote on revisions to the site's terms and conditions. Asking the community for feedback and doing something with that feedback is in the best interest of this or any online service (free or paid) - it shows a willingness to listen and be a partner in a positive user experience.

No doubt there will be some critics who will line up and take sides for and against any changes to this free service. It is already making the rounds in the online which naturally helps get the word out on the vote itself.

After reading the 'Response to Comments on Statement of Rights and Responsibilities,' I was interested in a few of the issues that originally questioned the actions of Facebook and how the site responded in the revised statement:
  • How will Facebook use, share, and store my content? Facebook needs the right to use, share, and store your content in order to provide Facebook to you and your friends. Our Privacy Policy explains what content we use, share, and store, and includes a number of examples (as do some of our responses to this section). In addition, your Privacy Settings give you the ability to direct and control how we use and share your content. 
  • Why doesn’t Facebook use one of the Creative Commons Licenses? In some ways the license grant in the Statement is more limited than the Creative Commons licenses. For example, the Creative Commons licenses are all perpetual. In addition, the Creative Commons licenses require attribution “in the manner specified by the author” and contain other restrictions (such as including Uniform Resource Identifiers) that we do not believe are feasible in a system with more than 175 million active registered users.
  • Why doesn’t Facebook audit every application? We unfortunately do not have the ability to control third-party applications, and cannot guarantee they are completely safe. However, if you feel that a particular application violates this Statement, please let us know by going to the application’s About page and clicking “Report Application.”
  • How can I limit Facebook’s use of my content in Social Ads? We provide a very transparent opt-out approach that allows you to easily tell us when you do not want to appear in Social Ads. You can do that by visiting this Privacy Setting.
Listening to Community = Good
These are just some of the things addressed by Facebook. At face-value this looks like a good move for Facebook. I am all for doing whatever you can to listen to the community (even if that community has around 200 million people.) The voting rules are interesting too:
This vote will be binding if 30% or more of all active users as of February 26, 2009, the day that the vote was announced, vote. An active user is one who has logged in to Facebook at least once in the last 30 days. Users who signed up for Facebook after February 26, 2009 are not eligible to vote. They are eligible to vote on any future change to Facebook’s site governance documents that is put to a vote.

If the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities is approved, all future changes will go through a process of notice and comment. As specified in the Statement, Facebook will hold a vote on any proposed change if at least 7,000 people submit comments. The vote will be advisory unless at least 30% of all active users participate. If turnout is 30% or more, the vote will be binding. [emphasis added]

Here's hoping more than 30% vote so it can be binding and not merely a suggestion. I hope users actually take the time to read the response to comments from Facebook and make an informed vote.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Ft. Worth PRSA: Creativity in Ad & PR Writing wrap-up

The Greater Ft. Worth Chapter of PRSA recently had a guest at the April luncheon who shared his thoughts on injecting creativity in writing in his presentation entitled Making Headlines: Creativity in Ad & PR Writing.

The speaker was Brian Pierce, a copywriter, broadcast producer and creative consultant based in Dallas-Fort Worth. Pierce set the stage by comparing the relationship between Ad people and PR people to that of Itchy & Scratchy which is pretty funny if you think about it. But mainly comes down to not really understanding what the other does. He went on to point out some examples of the blurred lines between the Advertising and PR disciplines:
  • Ad campaigns created for publicity
  • PR messages in ad form
  • Viral video
  • Social media
  • Corporate blogs
Best take-aways from the presentation...
  10 Tips for Super-swell Creative Ideas
Chameleon in HandImage by friel via Flickr
  1. Be a chameleon.
  2. Write a strategy.
  3. Laugh at your awful ideas.
  4. Be a sponge.
  5. Put your subconscious to work.
  6. When you are in the flow, don't turn off the tap.
  7. Step away from the keyboard
  8. Keep it simple - simple is good.
  9. Communicate with few words.
  10. Top your best idea.
And lastly, "It is not the lack of ability, but a lack of confidence that prevents the creative process." - Brian Pierce

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Public Relations Roles explained through Baseball Positions

CJ Wilson of the Texas Rangers pitchingImage via Wikipedia
In honor of the start of the 2009 Major League Baseball season, I thought it might be fun to create a listing of the roles and functions for public relations by baseball positions.

  1. Pitcher (P) - In baseball, the pitcher is the player who throws the baseball from the pitcher's mound toward the catcher to begin each play, with the goal of retiring a batter who attempts to either make contact with it or draw a walk. In PR, the pitching role is one where the professional attempts to garner publicity or attention through effective media relations.

  2. Catcher (C) - Positioned behind home plate, the catcher can see the whole field; therefore, he is in the best position to direct and lead the other players in a defensive play. In PR, this is role of strategy. Like a catcher, the PR professional sees the big picture where they understand that actions will lead to specific reactions.

  3. First baseman (1B) - A first baseman is the player on the team playing defense who fields the area nearest first base. In PR, this is the role of first response. The initial response to problems and/or crisis will make or break the situation.

  4. Second baseman (2B) - The second baseman often possesses quick hands and feet, the ability to get rid of the ball quickly, and must be able to make the pivot on a double play. In PR, this role is of measured quickness. A public relations professional helps to protect reputation and vital relationships when an organization is under attack.

  5. Third baseman (3B) - Third base is known as the "hot corner", because the third baseman is relatively close to the batter and most right-handed hitters tend to hit the ball hard in this direction. In PR, this is the role of coordination and quick reactions that comes with experience from having to catch hard line drives or difficult internal communication challenges.

  6. Shortstop (SS) - Shortstop is often regarded as the most dynamic defensive position in baseball so naturally the PR role is one of adaptability. The one constant is that things change, it is up to the public relations professional to be aware and keep up with the changing landscape of the profession, media, and organizational industry.

  7. Left fielder (LF) - Outfielders must cover large distances, so speed, instincts, and quickness in reacting to the ball are key. They must be able to learn to judge whether to attempt a difficult catch and risk letting the ball get past them, or to instead allow the ball to fall in order to guarantee a swift play and prevent the advance of runners. In PR, this role can be equated to good judgment. Professionals need to understand when not doing or saying something will provide the best benefit to the organization.

  8. Center fielder (CF) - The center fielder has the greatest responsibility among the three outfielders for coordinating their play to prevent collisions when converging on a fly ball, and on plays where he does not make the catch, he must position himself behind the corner outfielder in case the ball gets past him. In PR, this role is made up of the credibility a professional must possess in order to be an effective communicator to both internal and external audiences. Just like a center fielder, the PR professional needs excellent vision and depth perception.

  9. Right fielder (RF) - Of all outfield positions, the right fielder often has the strongest arm, because they are the farthest from third base. However, oftentimes, as in lower-levels of baseball, right field is the least likely to see much action because most hitters are right-handed and tend to pull the ball to the left field and center. In PR, this is the role of monitoring and measurement. Unfortunately, many professionals are not as up to speed in this area (me included) as we should do whatever it takes to learn how to measure. It requires additional work and research, but it is one of reward and justification for jobs well done.
Additional Positions
  • Designated Hitter (DH) - The designated hitter is the official position in the American League to bat in place of the pitcher. In PR, this is the role the understands the usefulness of social media for listening and engaging an organization's community. The professional needs to fully grasp various aspects of the social web to reach audiences including, at times, as a way to by-pass the mainstream media.

  • Manager - A manager controls matters of team strategy on the field and team leadership. In Pr, it's the same thing; coordination of play and tactical movements are integral for successful public relations.

Play Ball!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Journalists Might Make Good PR People - Or Not

A topic that has been swirling around in my head for a while finally has hit a point that needs to be shared. Earlier tonight on #journchat a question popped up that piqued my interest: Question #1 How can journs transition to PR? 

This question led to some good conversations on the topic. However, I want to address an assumption that has to be made in order for one to think a journalist can transition into public relations.

A journalist will most likely have the media relations chops to be successful since they understand what is and isn't newsworthy, know how to craft an effective pitch, can build and maintain relationships with media contacts, and are familiar with various aspects of the news cycle. That is great. And if that's the only role the public relations position required, they would be set.

PR is more than just trying and being able to get publicity. 
At least that has been true for the type of communications with which I've been involved. 

A good public relations person: 
  • can counsel on internal organizational decisions and strategy
  • has the trust and credibility to guide the use of appropriate communication channels
  • listens to an organization's community to help best determine needs, opportunities, and challenges
  • helps manage reputations, relationships, and change
Can a journalist (or former journalist) do these things and more? Absolutely. I know some great former media friends who are highly successful in the PR profession. I also know of some current journalists who would make excellent communicators for organizations. (And judging by the state of mainstream media these days it would be good if those that get it, start thinking about it.) 

I only want to clarify against what I believe to be a false assumption that a journalist can be a PR person just because they've equated PR to media skills. What do you think? The comments are yours.