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Thoughts on Public Relations, Communications, Social Media, Sports and anything else in my life…

Social Media or Bust…Part 4

Facebook!

Everyone has their opinion of Facebook. Many like I, who wrote it off early on, have come around to Facebook and have realized the potential it has in business communications.

Facebook is essentially a social networking platform that enables users to network with people locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Users create their own Facebook profile to suit the use they prefer, whether it is socially or professionally, and begin befriending other users they know or share common interests with. These connections then allow other users to join your network by searching for certain characteristics. From your birth date to the books you enjoy, anything you post on your profile is linked to others with the same information.

Probably the best feature of Facebook in my opinion is its simplicity. The general theme is very professional and aesthetically pleasing, allowing for more efficient use of its options. I appreciate the fact that they have made it to where nobody can personalize the theme, like users can on Myspace. It becomes cluttered and difficult to navigate when users begin customizing their profiles. Plus, when you are trying to find a specific piece of information, you know exactly where to look because it is located in the same place on your profile!

According to Facebook’s factsheet, they are currently tracking over 80 million active users. That means being a part of Facebook is quite possibly one of the best networking positions in which one can put their self, given you use it effectively suiting your needs.

What cCan I Do on Facebook?

Facebook has diversified since its inception, enabling boundless opportunities. The most basic capabilities of Facebook are photo, video and link sharing. Users can upload an unlimited amount of photos to their profile and even create online picture albums.

Recently, Facebook launched its online instant messaging utility, allowing you to communicate with friends who are online at the same time as you. The utility is located in the bottom right of the screen and shows you which friends are online and able to chat with.

A big addition to Facebook was when they decided to allow users to create applications with the Facebook platform. An infinite amount of applications have been created ranging from fans of a TV show to selecting friends for superlatives. Such specialization has allowed for increased interconnectivity and made it easier for targeting publics.

The other use of Facebook I find intriguing and will definitely explore is its advertising capabilities. Ads can be created for any number of purposes and can be specially targeted to certain publics. Though I haven’t had much interaction with the advertising portion, I do know they have a step by step process leading you through the creation of your advertisement and will work with you on placement, pricing, etc. This is available to registered users and businesses who create “business profiles”. Facebook also offers an online Marketplace to its users, serving as a Facebook classified section.

Applying Facebook to PR

In the world of PR, your network can make you and break you. A strong network is an essential tool in any practitioner’s toolkit. Luckily, the creators of Facebook had us in mind when they developed it.

Aside from networking, here are a few other PR Facebook applications:

  • Targeting key publics with an idea or news release.
  • Conducting research studies
  • Creating awareness campaigns
  • Workgroup collaboration
  • Press release distribution
  • PSAs
  • PR advertisements
  • Non-profit fundraising
  • Etc.

My Thoughts

As I’ve stated, I am in no way an expert on any social media tool. I have been using some tools for a little while now and have a basic understanding of them, but cannot completely relate to all the aspects available.

Facebook is probably the one social media tool that I have been using longer than any other. That being said, I haven’t exactly maximized my use of it to my benefit. I have found great success in networking with close friends and past friends who have re-connected with me. I have spent hours viewing online ads through the Marketplace for furniture and accessories and have even signed up for a couple neat applications. However, after reading about its uses and contemplating public relations applications, I’ve got a new-found respect for Facebook. Once again, never judge site by its homepage!

So, what are your thoughts on Facebook?

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Filed under: Social Media, Toolkit, Writing

Social Media or Bust…Part 3

Micro-blogging

I felt it only natural to transition from my last blog post on blogging to micro-blogging and explain some of the ideas surrounding it. So, what’s difference between the two? Funny you should ask!

 

The best way I can differentiate the two would be that blogging is done on a hosted webpage that you create and includes a process of planning a writing to shed light on a topic or to educate readers on a topic. Blogs also enable two-way communication by allowing others to comment directly to the post, generating an online discussion. Micro-blogging is about shortening posts and quickly sending text, links, files, photos and videos to a network of your “followers”. Micro-blogs are particularly useful to update people on the status of someone or something.

 

I know there is much more to both than I explained but for the sake of brevity, I came up with that crude explanation.

Now, there are many tools for micro-blogging, but the main ones I’m aware of are: Twitter, Pownce, Tumblr, Jaiku and Hictu. Each has its own specialization, for example, Hictu is a video micro-blogging platform. Tumblr and Jaiku are capable of  text, file, link and photo sharing, while Twitter only allows text and links to be posted. Though I haven’t fully explored the other four, I am somewhat familiar with Twitter.

 

Ahh, Twitter

Twitter is one of the most widely used micro-blogging platforms right now due to its simplicity. According to its website, users need only answer one question: What are you doing? In 140 characters or less, you say whatever you like for your “followers” to read, allowing them to remain updated on you and your activities. Simple, huh?

Another cool feature of Twitter is the many ways of updating your status. You are able to update via your cell phone, instant messengers, your logged-in homepage, m.twitter.com and any third party application. I use the third party application, Twhirl. It offers every feature one needs to use Twitter, and is customizable for your taste.

 

 I’ve only been using Twitter now for about a month, but I’ve fallen completely in love with it. I have read some of the best web content pertaining to social media and public relations through posts by Twitterers in my network. I’ve even used it to pose questions and receive helpful feedback. Just this week, I found out about BlogOrlando through Twitter and then sent out an invitation for any Twitterers/bloggers in Tampa to join me in attending.

 

That being said, I find it especially important to note some very serious, yet amazing uses of Twitter:

  • Victims of the torrential flooding in Iowa were able to update family members, community members, media and the general public about minute to minute situations during the flooding. Visit IowaFlood to check it out.
  • Those affected by the Southern California wildfires were “tweeting” about the locations of the fires, current situations and anything people should know about the fires. Check out this article about Twitter’s use during this.

As for other uses of Twitter, I have come up with these:

  • Posing questions to colleagues
  • Collaborative thinking
  • Status updating
  • Linking to great blog posts and news articles
  • Practicing concise copywriting
  • Breaking news updates
  • Informal office intranet
  • News pitching
  • Job posting
  • Etc.

That is all I’m able to come up with right now. But as you can see, the opportunities for using Twitter are endless. You need to experience Twitter in order to get the full effect of its capabilties. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that if you gave Twitter a try, you’d get hooked. Just take a look around you, everybody’s in the Twitterverse! You can even follow me if you like–@natefuller.

 

What are your thoughts on Twitter? What value do you find in it? What other uses can you come up with for Twitter?

 

So, What ARE you doing?

Filed under: Internal Communication, Social Media, Toolkit, Writing

Social Media or Bust…Part 2

Blogging

 

A little secret nobody tells you when you start blogging is that it can be extremely addicting. Everyone has to find their niche and develop their own online presence. I chose to blog about public relations and my experiences as a PR student. I love every minute I spend reading, commenting and posting. A blog gives me the opportunity to express my thoughts about the field of PR and have professionals, academics and students give me feedback. Where else can one do this more efficiently than in the blogosphere?

 

That being said, I toyed with many ideas for writing this post and finally set my mind to one—tell everyone what I’ve learned through blogging and offer any first-timers some advice that took me a while to learn. After all, this is my “termblog” and reflection.

 

Please add anything to these very brief lists that you feel should be included. I am still a rookie and you seasoned veterans can shed light on much more than I can.

 

Posting

Throughout this project, I have taken special note of writing styles and techniques others have employed through blogging. I’m sure all of these points have been said before, but these are key things I’ve learned to keep in mind while writing my posts:

  • Plan your blog posts. You wouldn’t disseminate a half-hatched press release, so why would you post a half-hatched blog post?
  • Think brevity. In the course of a day, most bloggers will read 20 or more posts and don’t have time to digest your novel. Just give them the meat straight up.
  • Write casually. A blog is a non-traditional medium and doesn’t need to be written in an institutional voice. Put some of your character into your blog and people will enjoy it (hopefully).
  • Read other blogs. You can learn great writing habits by reading well-written blogs. Reading is fundamental to blogging, but you knew that, right?
  • LINK to others. If you pull nothing away from this list, let this one be it. Linking to other blogs, blog posts, websites, etc., is the way of the web. Allowing others to read original posts from which you have pulled something from enriches their time spent in the blogosphere and adds value to your post.

Etiquette

Once you have created a blog and have begun to actively post, you should take note of a few blogging etiquette pointers:

  • Praise, don’t criticize.
  • Research your information and only post solid facts. Assumptions have no place here.
  • Reply to comments that others leave for you (I’m guilty, and I’m very sorry!).
  • Link back to sources for attribution.
  • Be friendly. The blogosphere is an amazing network of individuals from all walks of life. You should embrace that and build relationships with people.

Networking

The beauty of the blogosphere is its interconnectivity. I can be sitting here in Tampa, sweating and cursing the hot weather while another person is sitting in San Diego enjoying beautiful sunshine, all the while keeping up a conversation about PR. Therefore, in order to develop your network and find contacts from all over, I’ve found these pointers to be helpful:

  • Follow a blog for a while and familiarize yourself with its content.
  • Add blogs you enjoy reading to your blogroll. Most bloggers will reciprocate.
  • Comment on a posts and invite others to your blog.
  • Subscribe to blogs and stay updated. Contribute to conversations and offer feedback when necessary.
  • Find bloggers on other social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. (You can find blogs by topic by using Technorati).

 

 The list could go on and on, but I must end it here. What networking tips do you have for newbies? What about blogging etiquette?

Filed under: Social Media, Toolkit, Writing

Developing Your Toolkit

The most important step in becoming a PR writer is assembling your toolkit. Any writer–novice or professional–must take the time to gather all the materials they will need in order to successfully craft a well-written article.

As a current PR student who has written many different types of writings, I feel like I could share some of my own insight into what I feel are the basics any aspiring PR writer should incorporate into their toolkit. Keep in mind, these are just my own contributions. Your toolkit may have more or less.

  • An updated version of the Associated Press Stylebook. This is extremely important when you need to decide whether you should use website or web site, for example. (It is two words by the way: web site.)
  • A thesaurus. I use a thesaurus every time I write any piece. I do not like to repeat words as I write and so the thesaurus is a vital part of my toolkit. (MS Word’s thesaurus is good as well!)
  • A textbook or guidebook that can demonstrate the layout of certain writings you may not be accustomed to writing. I have had to refer to my textbook many times, either for class or my internship, when crafting a piece so that it looks professional and acceptable.
  • A good contact List. You never know when you may need to gain extra information that you could not get on your own.
  • A good grasp on grammar. You should be able to form grammatically correct sentences and string them together to create well-rounded sentences. (This is a tough tool to polish. Keep up with your basic knowledge and use reference tools when you are unsure.)
  • Patience. Many writers begin crafting their pieces and do not allow for information to sink in or new ideas to form. You may feel like your writing is superb, when in reality it is a very, very rough draft. Take your time and self-edit several times to ensure that you have covered all the bases.

This pretty much rounds out my toolkit. I’m sure I may have left out some other parts, but I will repost them as they surface. This should go without being said, but you must also have all research and information on the topic you are writing when you set out to write. Believe it or not, but many beginning writers fail to incorporate much of the meat to the story. It is one of those lessons you must learn the hard way, trust me!

With that being said, your toolkit is never finished. You will always find new tools and skills to add to it. Building your toolkit is one of the most exciting aspects of public relations. Take advantage of any opportunities you have to expand and build. Blogging is just one good way!

If you have anything you would add to the toolkit I have assembled, please comment. I am always looking to expand my toolkit and keep it current.

Filed under: Toolkit

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