Monthly Archives: November 2013

Getting the Most from Social Media

iStock_000012524067XSmallOne thing I’ve found in my travels is that a lot of ‘green’ businesses are founded from a deep-rooted passion for the environment. When deciding to turn your passion for the sustainable into a business, I’m sure you’ve read about setting aside some dollars for marketing. Maybe a little advertising if your budget can stretch that far. But let’s be honest – we’re into changing the world, and the budget’s often more than a little tight.

So while media coverage and brand awareness are crucial to ensuring your campaign is a success, there are other factors which need to weigh in to the PR mix that don’t necessarily cost a small fortune. The key consideration here is social media – the fancy collective name given to sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. These sites are free to set up and can make a big impact in building an online community for your product or service. Social media PR encompasses many of elements that create your business’ online ‘persona’.

The key to social media PR is to realise that the business landscape has changed. Businesses can no longer just ‘tell’ their customers about their goods and services – they have to partake in an interactive conversation about it. Customers have never had so much input into brands and businesses – they can praise your staff on Facebook, vent their frustrations on review sites, network with you via LinkedIn, and ask questions on your blogs.

I thought I might take a few moments of your time to give you a few tips on how to make the most out of your social media profiles.

1.     Keep it Professional

A lot of social media sites are focused around two types of profiles – personal profiles and business profiles. I’ll tell you what – there’s a damn good reason for this. One mistake a lot of small businesses make in their social media profile is crossing the line between professional and waaaay too personal.
While it’s really important to have a ‘voice’ through your social media sites, you want to make sure that you’re not crossing any boundaries with your customers. Keep your sites light-hearted but informative, and leave any doubts or problems you may be having at the door. Truth is, your customers don’t want to hear about them. They want to trust that everything with your business is brilliant, and they can buy from you with ease.

Another thing you want to make sure of is that your images are the right size, not blurry, and look schmick – mainly because that oozes professional, and professional is what you are. You can find a brilliant spec sheet on my website here.

2.     Content is King

Ahhhh… content. This is an interesting one. You may have noticed that although your followers like to hear about your product or service, they don’t particularly like being ‘sold’ to. For my clients I find what works best is dispersing some product or service information in amongst more ‘fluffy’ content (pictures, quotes, and other material that has more potential to go viral on a larger scale).

A great place to find these ‘fluffy’ images is Google Images or Pinterest. Pinterest offers more stylised photos and there’s not so much rubbish to wade through to find the good images and quotes. There are no copyright restrictions on what you post on social media – as long as you don’t use the images for advertising, you’re in the clear.

3.     Pumping up the followers

This one can be a little tricky, and cost does factor in to building your followers. I’m going to focus on Facebook in particular here, but you can take this and use it through other social media platforms.
Facebook has a great feature called ‘Facebook Advertising’. You will have noticed the ads that come up on the right hand side of your page when you look at your newsfeed, and also ‘Suggested Pages’ that actually appear as you are scrolling down. As a small business with a limited budget, this is a great place to spend your advertising dollars.

The benefits of utilising Facebook advertising are that it is:

  • Extremely Targeted – you can choose exactly who sees your ads. You can narrow your reach to those of a certain age, gender, marital status with certain interests and within certain locations. For example, people who are within 5km of your local area, who have an interest in the environment as well as wellbeing.

    Facebook advertising is the best and most effective way to not only increase the ‘Likes’ on your Facebook page, but also to raise awareness of your brand and drive traffic to your website.

  • Cost-effective – In fact, you can dictate how much you want to spend on a month-by-month (or week-by-week) basis. Advertising works on a pay-per-click basis – the more you spend, the more times your ad will appear, and the more likers you will get. A budget of $10 per day is usually enough to get around 10-20 new likes in a day. Facebook can also time your ads so they appear when your target audience is online. It’s slightly scary what Facebook knows about its users!

This article also appeared on the Daily Organic website. Visit Daily Organic for information on finding your local organic, environmentally-conscious and sustainable businesses.

Social Media Spec Guide

This brilliant infographic first appeared in Visual.ly and as a social media enthusiast, it’s helped me immensely for both my own social media and for my clients. Remember that every client touch point you have with your clients, even ones as simple as Facebook, Twitter or Google+, will give potential clients a strong opinion of what your business is about.

The problem is that if your Facebook cover photo is askew, your profile picture blurry, or your Twitter background impractical, you’re not projecting your best and most professional ‘face’ to potential clients.

I’d suggest this little infographic should be bookmarked for you to refer back to whenever you feel like changing around your social media profiles. Trust me, it’s heaven sent!

social-media-spec-guide_520553e439dcb_w587

Let’s Get Touchy – Creating Meaningful Client Touch-Points

Touch Point: a point of contact or communication between you and your clients and prospects.

At all times, but particularly when the economy is sick in bed with a hangover, effectively managing your contact with cli­ents and other key targets is, well, super important. In fact, we think it’s crucial both to retaining existing business and to growing your practice further – and when the economy is making things tough, the loss of clients can be debilitating on your bottom line.

Revisiting and reviewing your current client touch points is a great way to start the process of creating engaging and customer-focused communications. Your touch points are every point of communication between you and your clients and prospects, including:

  • Front of house – how you answer to the phone, what people see when they walk in your front door, and how they’re greeted on arrival
  • Letters – prospecting, reminders, information exchange, follow up correspondence
  • Online – website, social media platforms (Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn), blog
  • Emails – daily correspondence, mass e-marketing, all database client relations

boredomWhy should I bother making my touch points effective?

Honestly, your touch points give your customers and prospects an idea of who your business really is.

A website that’s hard to navigate? The business mustn’t want us to know much about them or their services / products.

A waffling letter to your prospects? As a customer I may never get out if I call to enquire further.

Your receptionist answers the phone sounding flat and disinterested? Your business mustn’t really value their customers.

It’s easy to make the wrong impression. In the wise words of Warren Buffet, ‘It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it.’ It’s the same with touch points – it doesn’t take much to ruin your chances of business.

So how do I make my touch points effective?

Why, it’s simple Dear Watson. You just need to change shoes for a minute – instead of being the business, pretend you’re the customer.

Firstly, think about all of those niggly little things you hate about dealing with other companies (I find this one is easier to start with). Make a list of all those negative influences that make you look at those other companies as being less than deserving of your business. Whether you hate the hold music, feel like they can’t give you clear and concise information, or even that there are spelling mistakes on their website, write ‘em down.

Take your list and honestly assess how many of those things occur in your own business. Unwittingly or not, nine times out of ten there will be some sort of cross-over. Put together a strategy that helps your business avoid these customer-banishing situations for good, as well as preventing it happening in the future.

Now think about all the things you love about dealing with businesses you hold in high regard. You might love the chirpy receptionist who answers the phone and remembers your name, or the ease of being able to send them a message via their website. It may be as simple as the way they offer you a refreshment when you have a meeting with someone, or that they keep you in the loop with what’s happening in the market that might affect you.

Again, make a list, sit with it, and honestly ask yourself how many of these great customer service activities you employ in your own business on a day-to-day basis. Then, it is time to strategise! Work these positives into the way your own business runs to ensure your customers love you and your workplace is a happy one to be involved in.

It can also be beneficial to employ the services of a customer experience consultant to review your lists and implement the strategies to improve your business. Customer experience consulting gives you a chance to work with a professional on how your business can best utilise these changes and stamp out any undesirable behaviour.

What works.

Don’t take our word for it – customer touch-points really make or break a brand. These top companies know what it takes to be listed in the 2012 MSN Customer Service Hall of Fame, and all they do is take steps to make their customers feel loved.

hilton10Example 1: Hilton Hotels Worldwide

Imagine your surprise if, shortly after tweeting some gripe about your hotel, the issue is miraculously resolved.

Hilton Worldwide is among the growing number of companies that have set up a dedicated Twitter watch to both respond to customers’ direct tweets and scour the Twittersphere for random rants.

Even if they find customers that are just complaining, Hilton takes action. They have also put in place a customer guarantee to ensure that guests have the opportunity to communicate any of their needs

Example 2: Sony

Sony’s VAIO desktops and laptops are viewed as top-line computers – a trait that the company puts down to their investment in quality customer service. You see, getting the computer up and running isn’t enough. Sony surveys its customers immediately after the purchase and again after 30 days and 90 days.

The company then monitors whether customers would recommend the product to a friend based on their experience in four areas: shopping, setting up the computer at home, using the computer and getting support later.

Sony then holds a monthly meeting where they go over all of this voice-of-the-customer data and look for ways to improve their product. Among the improvements based on customer feedback: a self-heal button — an internal diagnostic tool — on computers, faster boot-up time and video tutorials.

The Art of Successful Customer Experience Management

943e1de80f7a4fbf82252b372ad6f504As consumers ourselves, we’ve all dealt with companies that don’t measure up to our standards. Some refuse to return our calls while others send us a flood of spam-like emails with content that, let’s be honest doesn’t really interest us. At all.

We’ve also all been sent correspondence that makes us wonder where they learnt the English language, and others that send us information with so much jargon you need a dictionary to decode it.

Then there are the companies that make us feel confident in their services – those with clear communication, interesting content in their correspondence, and those that make us feel as though we’re a valued member of their business success.

The answer to becoming one of the latter is a focus on customer service. Really, in today’s economic climate, businesses need to focus on the customer experience to remain competitive and successful at what they do. Every piece of correspondence you have with your clients either increases or decreases their impression of your business – it can encourage them to spend more with you or to take their business elsewhere.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be analysing the importance of customer experience management and what you can achieve by placing the focus on your clients – those you currently hold and those you will attract in the future.

Stay tuned!

At Ruby Blue PR we can help you streamline every interaction you have with your customers and ensure they feel a maximum level of satisfaction from your business. Phone us on +61 423 344 836 to find out more.

Boost Your PR & Marketing Effort with Social Media

Social media is continuously growing for both brands and consumer alike. A lot of businesses know they should be on social media, but many of them totally miss the point of why they’re actually there in the first place.

Truth is, if you’re posting on your social media platforms just for the sake of posting on them, you’re doing it wrong. Your marketing strategy should expand to include social media platforms – but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t play as important a role as something more traditional like direct marketing or advertising.

That’s why we’ve pulled together these top tips for helping your social media soar – and avoid flat-lining your marketing efforts.

SpamTop Tip #1 – Avoid Becoming Spam

Ewww. Nobody likes Spam – even the online kind. If you’re posting continuously and generically to your social media followers, you might be verging on becoming spam yourself. Strategically avoid all the things that signal Spam in your social media posts – we’re talking exaggerations, overused phrases and excessive exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They’re sure-fire signs that people will ignore your messages completely and categorise them with other unloved lunch meat, like chicken in a can.

Top Tip #2 – Don’t Smother Your Followers with Posts

If you post on social media several times a day, every day, you’re running the risk that your

smothering

followers will totally overlook what you’re saying or worse still, opt out of following you altogether. There is nothing worse than scrolling through your Facebook or Twitter feed and seeing ‘news’ from the same person in every post. Post information on your social media platforms when it makes sense to do so (like posting a conversation-starter while people are stuck on public transport during peak hour, or posting about a great restaurant / food item / meal when it’s close to lunchtime). That way your followers will listen to your messages rather than tuning out altogether.

Top Tip #3 – Kick Generic Posts to the Curb

If you belong to the ‘I post because I can’ Club, this one is for you. Posting generic messages is naughty. They achieve nothing with your followers and although they can be great fillers early on, they soon become totally lame. Posting generic and uninteresting messages will eventually backfire on your goal to develop relationships and connections using social media – your followers want to feel like they’re part of something special by following you on social media. Save your posts for truly significant news and events, and those messages that are relevant to your marketing goals. Make your posts meaningful to the people reading them. Try thinking like your followers – when you write a post, think about it before you press send – Is there a point of interest for your followers to engage with? Write messages you’d want to read yourself if it appeared on your newsfeed.

Top Tip #4 – Add Plenty of Great Images

Today’s social media followers are visual creatures – many of them click on links with interesting photos and images are one of the most shared aspects of social media platforms. Take this one step further by engaging awesome photos to attract the attention of your followers, then offer them something worthwhile when they clock on the photo or follow the link. Your images should always be clear, appealing, worth sharing and relevant to what you’re trying to say.

Top Tip #5 – Be a Social Butterfly

The essence of utilising social media platforms in your marketing strategy is that they are interactive. You can gauge how your consumers, followers, or likers respond to your information and whether they’re willing to share it with others. To help achieve this, you need to embark on a little social butterfly-ing yourself – make your social networking platforms a place to talk about your business while also staying connected and involved with other relevant organisations and the public. Like, follow and share what other people have to say and create your own networks online and you will find that your business will thrive through all the relationships built between your business and others.

If getting the most out of your social media is something you’d like to discuss further, give us a bell on 0423 344 836. Or you could Facebook us. Or tweet us. Or LinkedIn us. Or find us on Google+ (Yes, we’re everywhere). Otherwise an email will do – elise@rubybluepr.com.au. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Social Media PR

There are so many things to consider when you embark on a PR campaign. While media coverage and brand awareness are crucial to ensuring your campaign is a success, there are other factors which need to weigh in to the PR mix. We like to call this social media PR (someone else may have already coined the term, but hot diggity, we’ll use it.)

Social media PR encompasses many of elements that create your business’ online ‘persona’ and to be honest, creating and maintaining this can take up a lot of your time. There are blog posts to create, Facebook and Twitter pages to update, SEO key words to consider for your Google ranking, as well as ensuring your website text and layout is turning visits into sales.

The key to social media PR is to realise that the landscape has changed. Businesses can no longer just ‘tell’ their customers about their goods and services – they have to partake in an interactive conversation about it. Customers have never had so much input into brands and businesses – they can praise your staff on Facebook, vent their frustrations on review sites, network with you via LinkedIn, and ask questions on your blogs.

As it happens, Ruby Blue PR loves us some social media PR. We’ve helped clients create social media sites, build online communities, expand their personal networks to improve sales, and revamp their websites so that they totally kick butt. We can approach social media PR as part of an overall PR campaign, or offer it as a separate service to complement your existing PR and marketing strategy.

For example, Power Plate Australia had a few hurdles with consumers understanding the product. You run on a treadmill and pedal on a spin bike – but what do you do on a Power Plate machine? Taking stock of the lack of education, Ruby Blue PR put together a few videos which answered some the questions people were asking about Power Plate equipment, explained simply and effectively by one of their Power Plate Master Trainers, Clare.

Not only did the videos provide a great educational tool for those doing their Google research on Power Plate equipment, but it also became an additional resource the sales team could send customers to in order to answer some of their questions.

Another example is in the case of Lara O’Donnell Design and the social media PR strategy we put together to not only bring more ‘Likes’ to the Facebook page, but also engage those members so that they could ask questions, weigh in on design and renovation trends, and feel a strong connection to the Lara O’Donnell Design brand.

Lara O'Donnell design FB

 

The result? A captured audience who think renovation and then think Lara O’Donnell Design. A word-of-mouth marketing system that works at ground level and gets the results.

Ruby Blue PR offers:

  • Social Media Strategy
    Need to set up a social media outlet or just wondering which platforms your business needs? While some businesses get great a great response from Facebook, others get most of their sales leads from LinkedIn. Some businesses benefit from video blogs and a YouTube channel.  We can advise which platforms will suit your business objectives, then compose a strategy for the online space – combining your website, social media outlets, and SEO.
  • Social Media Management
    If the thought of updating Facebook leaves you searching for a fork to poke into your eyes, we can take the cutlery off your hands. Ruby Blue PR puts together your social media updates and content on a monthly basis and ensures that each update gets you one step closer to achieving your business goals.
  • Social Media Outreach
    There are many arms you can utilise to reach your target audience within the online space. Ruby Blue PR can help you build your own online community that values your opinion and wants to buy from someone with a reputation like yours.

If Social Media PR is something you’d like to discuss further, give us a bell on 0423 344 836. Or you could Facebook us. Or tweet us. Or LinkedIn us. (Yes, we’re everywhere). Otherwise an email will do – elise@rubybluepr.com.au

Apple Reveals Their Marketing Secret

silver-apple-logoIt’s one of the biggest and most successful brands in the world and now Apple has been forced to reveal the one thing it is notorious for hiding – its marketing secrets.

Business Insider reported today:

Apple no longer actually needs to do ANY advertising when it launches new products, marketing chief Phil Schiller testified Friday in the Apple v. Samsung patent trial in a San Jose, Calif., federal court.

Instead, the company relies on these two strategies:

  • Rely on the media to create buzz for its products through positive reviews.
  • Product placement in TV shows and movies.

The media is so reliably disposed to favour Apple’s products that when the iPhone was launched in 2007, the company didn’t do any advertising for a period, according to Bloomberg:

Schiller, discussing the iPhone, said Apple decided not to pay for any advertising during a brief period after the device was introduced in January 2007 and when it went on sale later in the year.

“We didn’t need to,” Schiller said. He read from several rave reviews of the iPhone and iPad, explaining that such stories did a better job than advertising to build buzz.

We’ve spoken about it on this blog before, but the importance of buzz really can’t be overlooked, especially when the industry leaders are doing it.

Just a thought!

Making Life Pin-teresting

Blog4-Pinterest2Pinterest is the newest social media phenomenon to hit our desks and it seems that nobody I know is quite sure what to do with it.

The premise of Pinterest is that you ‘pin’ photos and images to your own virtual pinboard where your followers (and yourself) can view them. It’s a great visual feast as you look through images posted by others – you can even ‘pin’ them to your own board if you like them enough.

To be honest, Pinterest seemed to me at first to be an excuse to file pretty things on a page. You like that butterfly photo? Add it to your ‘Things I Like’ folder. Want to buy those shoes? Add them to your ‘Coveted’ folder.

Until I read this article. Marla Tabaka writes about why Pinterest should matter to you and your business – and how it fits into your marketing model. One brilliant example she gives is this one about a product known as the ‘Camiband’.

Pinterest has already proven itself as a powerful social media platform. Businesses are joining Pinterest to display product, create brand awareness, build communities and, in some cases, grow profits by leaps and bounds.

On December 5, 2011, Holly Xerri was enjoying lunch out with a friend. But a series of text messages from her husband eventually took Xerri’s attention away from her friend. “I will never forget it,” she says. “More and more orders were coming in through the website. I had to excuse myself from lunch to go see what was going on!”

Xerri is the inventor of a clothing accessory known as the Camiband. Only a few months earlier, a Camiband was worn on-air by Today Show’s Jill Martin, so naturally Xerri assumed that the influx of sales was a result of the Camiband’s morning-show debut. “I thought that the Today show was the biggest thing that could happen for my business,” she chuckled. “We had 3,500 hits when the Camiband was worn on the show. But I was wrong; it wasn’t the biggest thing that would happen for us!”

Xerri and her husband hadn’t heard of Pinterest at the time, but their analytics showed a heavy amount of traffic coming from southern states, where interest in Pinterest was spreading like wildfire. “Someone pinned one of my Camibands and it went viral,” Xerri says. “In 4 days I had about 40,000 hits on my website, all from this Pinterest.” It’s been more than three months since that memorable day and Camiband orders generated from Pinterest traffic have never stopped.”

Marla also gives us a few ideas on how to communicate with our customers and clients through Pinterest, including:

 

Find powerful images to enhance your blog articles and post them on Pinterest, linking back to the article. And don’t forget your call to action; we want to convert these new visitors!

If you have written a book, e-book, white paper, or report? Your cover images are a great pin!

Infographics are hot! Use images from your PowerPoint deck, marketing materials or website to pique the interest of your audience.

Lifestyle photographs really catch the eye of the beholder. Have you written an article using colorful metaphors to demonstrate your point? Locate an image of an animal, baby, beautiful vacation spot, or a scrumptious dessert to complete your metaphor and you have a winning pin!

Get your customers involved by asking them to submit images of themselves or something that relates to your business. A happy customer is an image that everyone will connect with.

Pin images of your employees at work or enjoying everyday life. Consumers love to connect to a company in this way.

Have pictures taken at your speaking events. A shot of you on stage in front of a captivated audience positions you as the expert that you are. (Be careful to not violate the privacy of audience members.)

pinterest-wedding-screen-shotPersonally, I’m currently learning how to use Pinterest from a personal level. I’m hot into planning mode for my wedding in September, so it has given me a great filing system to store images I like of dresses, invitations, bouquets, and honeymoon destinations. Perhaps it might be worth getting yourself comfortable with this social media platform before it REALLY takes off so you’re business is in front of the game when that happens. Trust us, it certainly won’t be long…

12 Fitness Tips That Will Boost Your Social Media Efforts

Silhouette woman run under blue sky with cloudsI found this article on a PR industry blog called PR Daily. With a lot of my clients and interests in the fitness industry, I found that I really related to this article. It’s a really great way to think of your social media the same way that you think of your fitness regime – work towards your goals to create a healthy online community.

If you don’t already run, walk, lift weights, or do any other kind of physical activity to increase your creativity and productivity, stop reading now and do 50 push ups. If it takes you all day, so be it. Get it done.
During my most recent run, I realized that the best fitness advice is also excellent advice for businesses making their first forays into social media.

For instance, here are 12 fitness tips that will help companies with their social media efforts:

1. Set goals.
You don’t want to start any run or workout routine without a goal. Going from the couch to running a 5K is a great program with a reasonably challenging long-term goal—to get off the couch and run a 5K.

Your social media goal could be similar. For instance, to connect with 250 people on Facebook.

2. Start small.
A friend’s personal trainer asked her to see how far she could run in 12 minutes. It was a very small step toward her goal, but it was essential to completing the 5K.

The same goes for your social media campaign. Set a goal like, “Create a Facebook page for my business today.” You’re not going to get any followers unless you start somewhere.

3. Be consistent.
Every day, do something to work toward your goal. Some days you may walk more than others, but you have to get out there.

To reach your Facebook goal, make sure you work on it every day. Plan relevant content to share. Reach out to potential followers, and engage on their terms.

4. Be honest.
Don’t cheat in your running program by stopping short on that difficult hill.

Don’t cheat in your social media campaign; do your best in the areas of customer research, product improvement, and addressing negative feedback.

5. Be accountable.
A great tweet from a health magazine suggested marking a red X on the calendar every time you miss a workout.

The same thing goes for building your online relationships; it takes work. Seeing a lot of red X’s in a row could be the thing that motivates you not to skip your activity for the day.

6. Get a partner.
Running is more fun with someone, and you’re less likely to bail out if you know someone else will call you out.

This can work for your Facebook strategy, too. Find a fellow business owner or even a willing friend with whom you don’t compete, and ask that person to check on you. You can also bounce ideas off this colleague.

7. Cross-train.
You get better at running if you add in stretching and lifting weights.

You’ll get better at social media if you experiment with different methods, such as using video or images to build relationships, engage customers, and earn followers. Try out some other platforms—LinkedIn, for instance.

8. Limit your junk food.
Eating healthfully will help you run better. So will including fibre in your diet.

Check the nutritional content of your own social media feeds. Are you including too much junk? Are you filling up on empty calories only to be left feeling hungry? Get some high-quality content from leading experts.

9. Get good gear.
Those high-end running shoes cost more but can improve your total workout experience. And ladies, do not neglect the sports bra. Great gear can prevent injury, increase your enjoyment, and enhance your performance.

Try a refurbished smartphone if your budget is tight. Other tools can be accessed for free, such as HootSuite and TweetDeck.

10. Rest.
Some days you aren’t feeling your best. Trying to push yourself through a difficult workout and blowing it can make you feel worse.

On those days when the dark cloud is fogging up your monitor’s screen, it may be time to take a break. You don’t want to ruin any of those hard-earned relationships. Step away. Take a nap. Come back refreshed and operating at 100 percent.

11. Get a little competitive.
After weeks of training solo, it can be refreshing and satisfying to hop into a neighborhood 5K and to push yourself to perform.

Along those same lines, taking on a challenging project or competing for a great client can push your brain and your creative inspiration to new heights.

12. Reward yourself.
When you finish that 5K, celebrate! It doesn’t matter how fast you did it; save that kind of competition for your next effort—the 10K.

Similarly, when you reach your social media goal—those 250 followers on Facebook, for instance—celebrate! Host an event for your followers, and promote the heck out it, starting with the next social media platform you plan to master. There’s no stopping you now.

It’s not going to be easy. Some days you’ll run in the rain, other days you’ll twist your ankle, and on really bad days you may fall down a muddy hill and collapse in a heap.

You’re never going to succeed if you don’t try, so take that first step. And remember to give those other folks out there a thumbs-up as they work toward their goals. You’re a part of the community now, and we have to support one another.

Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan writes the blog Try It & You May and Our Better Daycare. She also owns Sweet Tooth Communications, LLC. You can follow Elizabeth at @prbysweettooth and find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/SweetToothCommunications. A version of this story first appeared on the 12 Most blog. 

 

To the Twitterverse and Beyond

Twitter-LogoTwitter is an interesting kettle of fish. I get asked by people all the time what all the fuss is about, why should they have one, isn’t it just another version of facebook? Well in my book, the Twitter hassle is warranted, especially for businesses.

Now let’s get one thing straight – I didn’t join Twitter to learn about Ashton Kutcher’s marriage, Charlie Sheen’s mental instability or Justin Bieber’s fan base. At first I just joined to see what all the fuss was about. And to be truthful, at first I did think it was just a shortened version of Facebook where people post their ‘status updates’ and other people ‘RT’ them.

People also used the ‘@’ symbol a lot.

However as I gradually joined the conversation (and learnt what ‘RT’ and ‘@’ meant) I realised that there is more to the Twitterverse than lies on the surface. With a personal interest in feng shui (don’t give up on me yet), I ended up following a Sydney-based feng shui expert who specialised in corporate environments. We tweeted and re-tweeted (RT) each other until I realised that she might actually make a pretty cool client. Her service was unique, interesting, and a little bit unusual. So I DM’d her (Direct Message, just to keep you in the loop) and we had a really positive meeting about where PR could take her business.

Although she didn’t come on as a client with the agency I was working for, it was a great wake-up call that Twitter can actually result in something other than a complete waste of time.

A few years later I saw that a major skincare company that I followed had won an award. The award was pretty highly regarded, so I tweeted a congratulations their way. They responded. A flurry of tweets (a twitter?) went back and forth for a few weeks until I asked who I could email with a business proposal. They responded straight away.

From contacting this company on twitter, the partnership between Power Plate Australia and Dermalogica skincare was born. We held events together, gave gifts to clients, gained media coverage about the partnership and built a long lasting relationship that never would have been achieved through ‘conventional’ means.

When considering Twitter for your business, I would always recommend it. Being online is all about building an interactive community around your business, and Twitter is a great vessel for doing that.

The Irony of PR

I love irony. I’m not talking about irony Alanis Morissette warbles about (which always seemed to be just a bit of bad luck to tell you the truth), but actual irony. Good ol’ Wikipedia tells us that irony typically implies a meaning in opposition to the literal meaning.

Blog1-WeLovePRWorking in PR, we get to experience the most wonderful irony of them all. In an industry all about building brand awareness and reputation, we’ve neglected to ‘PR’ the most important thing of all – PR itself.

When I tell people that I work in PR, the most common response is the assumption that I’m someone’s PA. All of my grandmother’s friends think my job involves fetching cups of tea and booking flights for my superiors.

On the occasion people do know what PR is, they smile smugly and look at me as though I’m going to fling off my underpants like Samantha in Sex and the City while sipping champagne Ab Fab style. “Oh,” said one friend. “I know about PR. You just go out for boozy lunches and fluff around with… stuff.”

Nothing quite grinds the gears of a PR professional than the idea that they deal with the ‘fluff.’ We work hard behind the scenes to help consumers make informed decisions about the purchases they make on a daily basis. In fact, we work so hard that they don’t even know we’re doing it.

The truth of the matter is (and you can thank one of my third year University Professors for this insight) that you can’t really define PR as one static thing. It changes on a revolving basis and is made up of so many different elements that it could never be black-and-white.

So why do businesses need PR? It’s not to make their ads or build their websites (although we’d love to be involved in the process to create synergy throughout every aspect of your business). It’s more about building your brand so that when people think of your product or service, they think of yours. Even better – they don’t just think of your brand, they think of it IN A POSITIVE WAY. They buy your products or services because they like the idea of them, or they need them, or they just want them. Good PR professionals create the want.

And we’ll keep our knickers on, thanks.