Digital World of PR: March Meeting Recap

Last week, YP explored the importance of new media at our March Meeting — where the word friend is used as a verb, tweeting is no longer for the birds and poking people is an accepted behavior.  The program featured three new media experts from around Los Angeles:

  • Siobhan O’Neill, account supervisor for Edelman Digital’s Western U.S. region, is a certified project management professional with extensive experience in online media/marketing production.  At Edelman, she specializes in social media tools and technologies, supporting public relations efforts for clients including Symantec, Shell, HP, AMTRAK, and Nestle.  (Find her on Twitter @angelcityblues.)
  • Marilyn Waters, director of media relations for Walt Disney Imagineering, is responsible for developing and implementing proactive strategic communications strategies.  Over the past year, she has been leading a task force of all Disney Parks to look at social media opportunities from a public affairs perspective. (Find her on Twitter @mjwaters9.)
  • Nick Mendoza, the lead at Zeno Group’s Digital Lifestyle practice, guides clients on marketing communications strategies in a world where 140 characters can be more powerful than a campaign that costs $140 million. Nick has worked with many leading companies in digital entertainment, mobile and consumer technology, including Discovery Communications, EA Sports, HP, Intel, JibJab, Texas Instruments, TiVo, Ustream and Walt Disney Internet Group. (Find him on Twitter @NickMendoza.)

Social Media is a Powerful Tool.

But, before engaging in social and new media strategies online, there are a few things to do first, such as:

  1. Define what you mean by social media with your client and internal teams.   You must all be on the same page before starting a social media campaign.
  2. Make sure to define your search terms and get internal agreement on those terms in order to limit the amount of content you must analyze.
  3. Ensure that there is understanding in the engagement strategy – when to engage online and when not to.  You must make sure that the leaders of the company are comfortable with the open platform that is online and social media.

What is Web 1.0 vs. 2.0 vs. 3.0?

Use the web to tell your story, who cares what you label it.  It’s all about digital.  And everyone is getting into the game.  In fact, Forrester Research shows that 95 % of social media marketers will maintain or increase social media spending this year.
Creating Online Communications Strategies:

  • Do the research. Online communities are a user base for most clients.  Take the time to do the upfront research to find out where you already have communities for influencers in your client’s space (related to the industry or product) and what’s being said online.
  • Answer the strategy questions. What are the business goals of this program? What are the communications goals and objectives for engaging online?  Just like any other strategic communications plan, you need to know what is out there first and do research before you start to engage.  It’s more important than ever to be focused in what you want to do and gain from the strategy, and find a way to measure it in online and social media terms.

Digital Strategy and Tactics Discussion:

  • Be authentic. Be transparent. A marketing video that is used internally or at sales opportunities does not translate into a YouTube video.  YouTube is much more raw, such as a behind-the-scenes video from Disney.
  • Learn from others. Take stock of what other public relations firms and professionals are doing, and learn from their successes and challenges.  For example, Diet Coke took a long time to embrace the user-generated YouTube content experimenting with Diet Coke and Mentos.  Another examples are the early lesson Edelman learned with the Wal-Mart blog.  This often falls into the category of astroturfing, another reason why it is essential to be authentic and transparent online.
  • There will be content that crosses the line. You and your clients need to accept that up front and take the good with the bad.  One negative comment is nothing. But, if it snow balls you need to identify it and correct incorrect facts, but never remove anything.  There tends to be a lot of self policing in online communities, and if it gets out of control someone will say something.
  • Finding the right online space for your client is just like finding the right publication for their story. Match your client’s audience with the online community that is the best fit.  One example to target moms is Twitter Moms.  You need to be narrow and focused in your outreach in order to influence behavior and perception on behalf of your client and brand.
  • Podcasts. Train your spokespeople for a podcast / videocast / v-cast just like any other media opportunity. Go through media and message training and prepare key messages you want to address in the spot.
  • Measurement online is not just about numbers. Its much more than hits.  Your online and social media results should be analyzed for influencers, other media quoting the bloggers / posters, link backs and other metrics to determine if bloggers / posters have influence in the online community.
  • Online and social media is not the same as banner ads. Online and social media engagement goes far beyond banner ads.  Engagement goes beyond the numbers metric — it’s the heart metric.  By looking at the tone, frequency, whose engaging and qualitatively analyzing the information there are far more implications for a company / brand / client beyond quantitative numbers.

Resources, Recommendations and Reactions:

Case studies to take a look at for customer engagement online:

Web sites, resources and idea starters:

Some social media news articles and Web sites from Nick Mendoza:

If you have more questions or yours were not answered at the meeting, you can tweet Nick Mendoza or Siobhan O’Neill who both offered to answer questions via Twitter. Just don’t forget to mark your conversation with the #PRSA-LA tag so that everyone can benefit from the answer.  We will be following and re-tweeting @LAPR.

We hope you can make it to our next meeting in April!   Check back for more details and location information.

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1 Comment

Filed under Events

One response to “Digital World of PR: March Meeting Recap

  1. Enjoyed the panel discussion and the great questions. Looking forward to future YP events.

    More importantly, are you following Oprah on Twitter yet? :-)

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