Thursday, March 31, 2011

Facebook as a school district's newsroom

I like to keep track of interesting questions in the hopes that someday I might have an answer or would ask others in the hopes of furthering the dialogue on social media and school public relations.

One such question came from a marketing professional, Chris Stone during the #schoolprchat, (a Twitter chat that is currently on hiatus.)

This is a great question because it forced me to pause and take a critical look about how I was using my school district's Facebook page.

A school district's Facebook page is a prime location for sharing timely, relevant, and interesting content with the community of parents, students, staff and even some random people that have decided to 'Like' the page along the way.

The strategy behind the school district using Facebook could be summed up as fish where the fish are. With so many people on the social utility, it just makes sense for school districts engage their community there.

But Facebook as a school district's newsroom? I think in the traditional sense of the term 'newsroom' perhaps not since it doesn't really provide enough to meet journalists' expectations. From distribution and content expectations of journalists, Facebook doesn't really work.

Ah, but journalists aren't the only people school PR folks are trying to reach. Certainly traditional media should (and will continue to) be a fundamental component for school district communication pros. And we should do everything we can to sharpen our media relations skills and approach.

But don't let that be the only focus.

School districts should already be leveraging Facebook for communication and community outreach. Set your district's Facebook rules of engagement, prepare and gather content from all over the district to share. Post, listen, engage and promote...and repeat.

I know some school districts don't allow you to comment on their Facebook page wall. I don't agree with this broadcast-only practice. The magic is in the feedback. When we post items to Facebook like updates, questions, links, photos, videos, student/staff recognitions, explanations, news, events, etc. it's done with the audience in mind. I use Facebook in my school district to share and engage with the community.

Oh and for the record, I recently tried to pitch a story to a local newspaper reporter only to be told, "yeah, I saw that on Facebook earlier."

Come to think of it, maybe it is the district's newsroom.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Commmunication Planning and the Acronym Jumble


Creating communication plans is tough when you're doing it right. I've been using a short acronym to help me remember the steps for some recent PR planning  and it made me think that we don't talk about PR planning enough.

It's crucial to put some forethought into your communication efforts. Admittedly, I have made what I believe is the mistake of taking an idea straight to the implementation phase (strategies/tactics) without much planning or analysis.

Sometimes this works. Sometimes it doesn't.

PR Plan Alphabet Soup 
So what should you do? I've used RPIE (Research, Planning/Analysis, Implementation/Execution/Communication, Evaluation) for my PR planning taken directly from the Accreditation in Public Relations Study Guide.The outlined four-step process explains each section and gives questions as a guide. For me, it's as much a learning tool as it is a practical tool for public relations professionals.
"Public relations programs cannot be successful without proactive, strategic planning that includes measurable objectives, grounded in research and evaluated for return on investment"
- APR Study Guide

Research - Research is the systematic gathering of information to describe and understand a situation; check assumptions about publics and perceptions, and check the public relations consequences. Research helps define the problem and publics.

Planning/Analysis - Goals, audiences, objectives, strategies and tactics

Implementation - Execution of the plan or Communicating

Evaluation - Measure effectiveness of the program against objectives. Identify ways to improve and recommendations for the future. Adjust the plan, materials, etc., before going forward. This can serve as research for the next phase or program.

Here are a couple of other acronyms that might be useful.

Action Plan


Thanks to Mary Deming Barber for the REGOSATTBE acronym. She also shared a planning checklist document a while back that is a great, concise tool. (I love learning from PR people that are smarter than me.)
What about you? Do you use these or a different acronym method for your PR planning? Do you think PR people talk about PR planning enough? The comments are yours.

(Image credit: noeltanner via Flickr Creative Commons)
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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment: A Book Review in Verse

Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions is Guy Kawasaki’s tenth book. In it, he explains how to influence what people will do while maintaining the highest standards of ethics.

This is my book review post written as a poem.
Have you ever wondered
Why others get all the attention;
From business, loyalty, and customers
To posts, Likes and mentions.

What are the things that go beyond
Just merely a pull and a shove?
What persuades and makes the difference
Between being in like and being in love?

Enchantment gives that difference
From basic Likability, Trustworthiness, and Preparation
Along with cues for employers and employees
To help customer relationships across organizations.

Guy's book is chock-full
Of simple, savvy, and smart information.
Most of which would seem common knowledge
But often gets ignored or lost in translation.

Each chapter ends with short personal stories
From real people and their impressions.
These vignettes are wonderful writing tools
To help crystallize the book's concepts and lessons.

Take some time to read this book.
(Pay close attention to the section on Reciprocity.)
Fine-tune the things you can do today
And become an Enchanting virtuosity.
Yep, there's a reason why I don't make my living as a poet. If you need more convincing, here are some other (non-poetic) reviews, but they're still pretty good. Happy reading:
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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

35 hand-picked posts for fellow PR pros

Photo via timrich26
So here we are again with what has become my annual birthday gift to you, a simple round-up of PR-related and digital communication blog posts, features, resources and tips that I've collected, saved, shared, loved, tweeted, and bookmarked or just found fascinating.

These are writings from those who I believe are some thought-leaders in the public relations industry or from those who continually provide rich resources for communication professionals. Many of these could just be cool and I think you should (re)read.

(Also, if you are interested, you can also check out my lists from my 34th and 33rd trip around the sun.)

Let's begin:
  1. Crisis Planning: Prepare Your Company For Social Media Attacks (Web Strategy)
  2. The Private Nature of Public Relations (Conversation Agent)
  3. 5 Things Depeche Mode Can Teach You About Effective Online Marketing (Copyblogger)
  4. Interactions, Engagement & Ecosystems (Logic + Emotion) 
  5. Where Next for the News Release (PR Breakfast Club)
  6. The Digitization of Research and Measurement (Metrics Man)
  7. Katie Delahaye Paine's Accuracy Checklist for Public Relations and Social Media Measurement (The Measurement Standard) 
  8. The Difference Between Making the News and Being the News (Social Butterfly)
  9. Posterous Grows Up as a Blogging Platform (Danny Brown) 
  10. Planning For Disaster: Communicators And PR Must Step Up (Copywrite, Ink)
  11. PR pros need to write more like…gasp! Sales copywriters! (Mengel Musings) 
  12. 4 keys to to building a social media editorial calendar (Communications Conversations) 
  13. 57 Social Media Policy Examples and Resources (Dave Fleet) 
  14. 11 must-read posts about blogger outreach (Communications Conversations) 
  15. Social Media Release: Evolution (PR Squared) 
  16. 34 Reasons to Start a Blog (Conversation Agent)
  17. Don’t Build Your Brand On A Third Party Platform (Social Media Optimization)
  18. Want to get quoted in the media? Try a video expert advisory (As Media Changes) 
  19. Corporate Altruism: The Blurring of the Lines Between CSR and Cause Marketing (Communication Overtones)
  20. Is PR Ready to Adopt a Standard Set of Measurement Principles? (The Buzz Bin) 
  21. 5 Tips on Business Blogging With Minimal Resources (TopRank)
  22. It's Time to Stop Collecting Facebook Fans (Ad Age)
  23. Content curation: A required skill for digital-era communicators (Shel Holtz)
  24. Newsroom Facebook Fans: Quality vs. Quantity (Journalistics)
  25. Klout for Business: A Useful Metric –but an Incomplete View of Your Customer (Web Strategy)
  26. Putting Words Into Action: PRSA’s New Social Media Policy (PRSAY) 
  27. 96 Free Professional Blog Topics (Geoff Livingston) 
  28. Consumer-Facing PR Means Business (Jason Kintzler)
  29. ‘My Tweets Are My Own’ is a Bogus Line (Lauren Fernandez)
  30. 10 Press Release Alternatives (Social Media Today)
  31. Easy Strategies to Start Measuring Your Public Relations and Social Media (The Measurement Standard)
  32. Q: What’s a new tool for public relations? A: Quora (PRSA Tactics)
  33. Building Your Own PR or Social Media Measurement Index (Chuck Hemann)
  34. Social Media Crisis Management: A No-Nonsense Guide (Mack Collier)
  35. Becoming a Conscious Written Communicator (Brass Tack Thinking)
Whew. That's a lot of reading. Just like in the previous years, there are some source repeats, but I think they are worth it. I hope you take some time and go through this gift of public relations resources or just save it for later. Either way the birthday party is mine but the comments are yours.

Monday, March 7, 2011

5 Tips to keep your School PR job - Tim Caroll, APR

I had the pleasure of spending some time in sessions, catching up with school PR colleagues and friends in addition to presenting at the 2011 Texas School Public Relations Association conference last month. The current Texas public school financial realities seemed to be a common theme of discussions and among a few of the presentations. Folks were concerned just like educators across the state about whether or not personnel reductions will happen in the name of cost-cutting measures.

I caught up with Tim Carroll, APR from the Allen ISD to ask him what he thought are some ways school PR people can help themselves keep their jobs:

5 Tips to keep your school PR job
  1. Contribute in areas that benefit the school district financially or that clearly address goals and objectives. Find the things that are important to the district leadership.
  2. Get a seat on the superintendent's cabinet. You need to be/become a trusted advisor to management.
  3. Become the go to person for strategic communication needs. Go beyond being the camera, press release, newsletter person.
  4. Get out of the office. It's just a good idea to spend time at campuses to see what's going on so you can tell good stories and remind yourself why we do what we do. (It's for the kids.)
  5. Seek additional responsibilities that fit into your skill set. Staff reductions will leave gaps that need to be filled.

In addition to being the Director of Public Information for the Allen ISD, Tim Carroll, APR is the 2011 President of the Texas School Public Relations Association and a 31 year PR veteran. He sums up two of the best reasons I concur for why school communications pros should be a part of professional organizations like TSPRA or the NSPRA; (one) networking with other PR pros and (two) access to shared resources.

What do you think of these tips? What would you add? As always, the comments are yours.

(Photo credit: zawtowers via Flickr Creative Commons)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Brazil surrenders to the multifunctionality of the Social Media Press Release

BrazilImage via Wikipedia
The following is a guest post from Brazilian public relations professional Rodrigo Capella.* Rodrigo is a lecturer and writer, he edits the blog PR Interview and has more than 20 books published.
For a long time, the traditional press release has been used in Brazil. With basic information (title, lead, quotes, boilerplate and contacts of the PR agency), this tool of communication led several news (mergers, product launches, new strategies, etc.) to the journalists.

In the first years of existence, the traditional press release was very well evaluated by professionals working in publications. It happened because the Brazilian PR Agencies always adapted the institutional information according to the journalists’ needs.

Nowadays, the contact of the journalists with this tool is wearing out quickly (most of the media professionals prefer to receive all the information together - image, video, quotes, etc). Even so, for many years, Brazil has insisted - contrary to many countries - to use the traditional press release as a primary tool of communication.

To get an idea, for more than five years, many in the United States adopted alternative tools, such as the Social Media Press Release (SMPR). Made in various formats, this platform can unite, in a single space, podcast, video-release, relevant links, tags, and RSS. There is also, of course, the elements of the traditional press release, like boilerplate and quotes, among others.

An interesting example was the SMPR “Second Life Reforestation Project Qualifies as a Finalist in American Express Members Project,” which facilitated most of the media professionals’ work. An interesting point: this platform has presented to the journalists the direct contacts of the spokesperson (a fact that, for cultural reasons, seldom occurs in Brazil).

Now, after overseeing the successful of the SMPR around the world (here's another example), Brazil has surrendered to this agile tool and already collected some interesting cases. To announce the launch of the new 3DS, the portable console that lets you play in 3D without special glasses, the PR agency S2 Publicom sent to the Brazilian press a SMPR (there’s a password and login to access this platform) with files in English and Portuguese. In this SMPR, it was possible to have access to video-releases, pictures and a variety of information about the launch.

Another interesting example was conducted by CDN in partnership with Cinnamon Communication. The PR Agencies did a SMPR to launch the new VAIO notebook Y. With video release, links, images and testimonials, the platform has brought all the necessary information for journalists reporting the product.

These two examples of SMPR (3DS and VAIO Y) confirm a trend: there is no communication without innovation. Brazil learned this lesson. Now, it needs to be aware of upcoming changes for not getting used to be outdated. 

[The reference to the Social Media Press Release (SMPR) should be understood to flow interchangeably with social media news release (SMNR) or just Social Media Release. I found Rodrigo's post particularly interesting and relevant since it points out some of the basic ways to help PR pros get a better grasp on how one can use social elements and digital assets with releases.]

* Contact Rodrigo Capella via E-mail: Twitter: @rodrigo_capella 
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