- 3 ways to make a Facebook page work, when it's targeting consumers, from drawing and engaging people to handling tough comments;
- Wondering whether your media trainer's still showing an old Bob Newhart episode to explain cautionary tales about the media...and doing so about 3 decades late. What should your media training look like today?;
- After my talk at the Capital Communicators Group on social media policy this month, all our posts on social media rocketed forward--including video questions from the group at the talk;
- Who inspires you as a writer? The start of our popular "80 works in 3 weeks" exercise asks writers to think of writers who inspire them.
- Ever popular: Our post on the one color to wear to help your audience focus on you -- whatever your skin color, and no matter whether you're on TV or in person;
- Pitching stories to news media and need to rev it up? Here are our tips;
- We collect great quotes to help our clients (and you) craft quotable messages. Here's our growing collection--please share your favorites;
- Do you resemble this remark? We said you should stop calling LinkedIn 'Facebook for adults,' now that Facebook's demographic is changing fast;
- Can a law firm, a big one, use Twitter for communications and marketing? See our guest post by Michael Zukewich from Manatt Phelps on how they're doing it, a popular post this month:
- My CCG talk on social media policy prompted lots of looks at a specialized social-media policy: press credentials for bloggers.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Participants in my recent trainings have said my trainings are "fun and energetic" and "savvy and informed." Let me pack lots of knowledge into your next training so you can move forward in these tough times. Email me at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz...and before you do, be a good consumer and check my tips on what to ask for in an updated media training and questions to ask a media trainer, as well as those you should ask a public-speaking trainer.
- Social media training retreats: One university advancement team--including alumni relations, marketing, and media- and public-relations--commissioned a 2-day training retreat on social media communications options. I assessed staff skills in advance (this team included adept enthusiasts and folks who'd never tried Facebook) and developed a retreat that blended overviews of how universities and other organizations are using social media with hands-on training in the basics of Twitter, Facebook, widgets, online video and blogs. We built in opportunities for staff members to discuss how social media would change their work, what they would do if others pushed back against social-media usage, and brainstorming sessions where they could develop pilot projects to accomplish their goals in media relations, student recruitment and alumni engagement.
- Communications retreats with a focus on budget-cutting: Current conditions call for communications teams to figure out how to do more with less. So these days, I'm facilitating communications staff retreats that look forward into 2009 to find new ways of operating to stretch budget dollars. (As a longtime communications director for some of the largest U.S. nonprofits, a major philanthropy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, I'm no stranger to strategic budget cuts.) In some cases, clients are looking at adapting existing print or basic Web communications vehicles to social-media platforms; in others, re-training longtime staff members to expand their skills.
- Improving speaking and presentation skills: Whether it's one-on-one training for a new CEO or group training to bring your faculty, sales team, or members up to par, I'm finding that clients are eager to invest in their speaking skills, even in a recession. Improving your ability to make the case for more funding--whether from Congress, philanthropies, venture capitalists or just your board--is a critical skill today. So I've been helping clients shape their messages and hone the skills that will help them put those messages over to an audience. Another great value: Customized training is always a better value than off-the-shelf classes. Among the specialized speaker trainings I've offered are sessions targeted to women's special skills and challenges in public speaking, based on The Eloquent Woman blog, and those that help scientists, engineers and other technical experts translate their work for public audiences.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
I'm a big believer in sharing what other agencies are doing, and happily, there are several sources for federal communicators who want to make the case for social media. Try these resources and links:
GovLoop.com, itself a social network for federal workers and anyone interested in the federal space, has lots of federal social media communicators blogging, Twittering and posting about their social media efforts and source documents. Dive in here!
The Federal Web Managers Council has posted its workplans and documents here, a rich trove that includes this paper on real and perceived barriers and solutions for social media use and examples of federal agencies using online tools.
This question from my talk yesterday at the Capital Communicators Group helped me make the point that audiences old and young are actively using social media--and universities and colleges are reaching out in both directions, to prospective students and to alumni. It helps that Facebook began as a platform for college students, and today, half of all college alumni users of Facebook return to the site daily (something few campuses can claim). Factor in that older audiences are the fastest-growing on Facebook, and you can see why universities are now using the site to reach prospective and former students.
I've helped several university clients consider how they might use social media tools for everything from student and faculty blogs to online video contests and Facebook groups and pages. Several university PR teams have taken advantage of my "get your toes wet" orientations to social media options, and added training to ensure their entire marketing, alumni and public relations teams are up-to-speed with new social media tools. The most effective of these sessions has included leaders as well as employees; cut across departmental lines; and included brainstorming pilot projects that will be manageable starts to social media use.
At the same time, some university public relations team have gotten caught behind the curve when using social media as a communications tool. Thanks to Joe Bonner, one of my Twitter team, I can share this Chronicle of Higher Education article on what college PR teams can do to rethink their use of the web--and web 2.0. Where's your university on social media adoption?
We have found that, unless a number of success factors are present, Web 2.0 efforts often fail to launch or to reach expected heights of usage. Executives who are suspicious or uncomfortable with perceived changes or risks often call off these efforts. Others fail because managers simply don’t know how to encourage the type of participation that will produce meaningful esults.But companies that take the time to get web 2.0 right enjoy the ability to put "underused human potential" to work through participation and collaboration. Check out the article and add it to your file for "making the case" for social media in the workplace. You can follow McKinsey Quarterly on Twitter, too.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
When you start to use social media for professional communications, how do you blend the personal and the professional? The first questioner noted that, as many social media applications encourage the personal, professionals express reluctance about using them. The second questioner gets to the practical: What if your boss-- or your boss's boss --friends you on Facebook--what should you do?
These questions sound complex, but there's a simple answer: Use your good judgment. Here are a few observations:
- It's important in work and in life for your social media posts to sound like a real person is behind them. So if you limit your posts to "Wow, working late again and loving it" or "Enjoying completing this work memo on my own time," you'll lose your authenticity. Likewise, if you're afraid to comment on others' posts or show your family photos, well, you're missing out on what social media offers. As in professional networking, tell us about your family, hobbies, travels. Be a person.
- Use available tools. Facebook lets you create groups of friends, and you can direct updates to some groups and not to others. You also can create "secret" groups on Facebook to post and collaborate with your work colleagues privately. Test the available options and make them work for you.
- Friend your boss? Why not? Bosses need to practice on social media, too--just use the right tools (including the one in your brain) to think through what you'll be sharing with them.
- Overall: Think through your personal social media policy -- and do what I recommend for companies, using a deft hand and a thoughtful mind.
Another question from today's Capital Communicators Group talk on social media policy: Where are those policymakers on social media? All over the place, it turns out. Many members of the House and Senate are on Twitter --and debating, of course, how they should use it. Related social policy posts also can be found from the many trade associations and nonprofits acting in policy arenas. Search Twitter and Facebook to start--and look for social-media search result findings, as social media postings typically move quickly up the search results for any group you're seeking.
This topic got beyond the social media policy talk I gave at today's Capital Communicators Group, but it's a good question -- and in terms of unofficial policy, speaks to the issue of what some clients of mine see as a monolith of social media. Should you, must you, try everything at once? Must you give over your entire schedule to it? Of course not!
My personal (and professional) preferences: I'm active on Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogger and Twitter, and invite people I've met to join me there. For social networking, I find Facebook and Twitter the most facile and useful sites--but if you need a special-audience site, by all means, seek it out. LinkedIn's comfortable for many networkers, but lacks the functionality of other sites.
My advice? Choose a site and start there first, particularly if you are testing the waters for your business. Many of my clients develop pilot projects in social media--there's no need to tackle all the sites right away, at least until you've mastered one to start.
Timewise, social media work is like any other effort. Plan out your schedules to allow time each day and week for social media. Think about what you can replace from your existing array of tasks on social media. Try using social networking sites as internal collaboration sites--there are plenty of private options, from secret Facebook groups you can set up to direct (private) message on Twitter. For me, these are effortless -- and essential -- parts of my day.
Robin Ferrier, who leads our Capital Communicators Group, asks this question she hears from skeptics: What if commenters on our blog leave negative comments?
And my answer, largely, is: What would you have done before? Social media platforms only change the game in that they make it easier for people to give you feedback. The fact that some of it is negative hasn't changed--in most cases, the only difference is that you didn't hear the negative feedback before. Now that you can, it's an opportunity to represent yourself. Put another way: When people are talking behind your back, it's tough to respond. When they share their negative feedback with you, the chance to listen, respond and listen again opens up.
I also find that questions like this are common objections put up by skeptical folks unfamiliar with social media. So if you get this question, take the time to orient your questioner. Share an example like Bill Marriott's post about the comments on his controversial decision to make all his hotels smoke-free, worldwide. And take the time to brainstorm internally about how negative comments will be handled--answering them and leaving them up is a better practice to follow.
This questioner, from one of the largest employers present, asked for "best practices" in social media policy. So I'll share links to my "wild west rules" for setting social media policy as well as this post sharing what I don't want to know about your employees on social media (with lots of links to real social-media policies you should use as models). Today, our Capital Communicators Group session talked a lot about the fine lines each organization needs to consider for itself: should employees friend their higher-ups? What'll you do if you get negative comments? Who's going to keep up that Facebook page? Should you reconsider your social media policy at some point? Here are a few more links to consider as you're setting social media policy:
- How some corporations have learned to loosen up over time with social media
- How one CEO advises others about blogging and Twitter
- How newspapers are handling comments posted on their websites (this might surprise you) and whether allowing anonymous comments is a good policy
- Whether you can trust employees with social media
I'm glad this question from today's Capital Communicators Group talk didn't peg the people who are skeptical about social media as "older," just "stodgier." Sometimes, when you're passionate about using social media as a communications tool, the skepticism of the uninitiated is tough. Here's some ammunition (in the form of data) to help you make the case, sorted by the objections I hear:
- This is just for kids. Try this: The fastest-growing demographic on Facebook is women aged 55 and over, and 60 percent of its users are out of college.
- We can't afford it. I know you know this, but most platforms are free or low-cost.
- We just invested in this great print magazine. A cost analysis will help here. One client of mine -- a newsletter publisher, in fact -- went to an all-blog format, changing her entire business model once she figured out that blogging would save her on printing, mailing, shipping and storing print publications.
Many of my clients request my "get your toes wet in the new media pool" sessions to help them make the case for social media as a communications tool -- a combination of orientation and brainstorming that includes everyone from evangelists to naysayers, and is targeted to examples and case studies from your sector. Contact me at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz if that's an option you need as you make the case.
Facebook lets businesses, artists and other organizations or people create pages and they're a great value: They're free, they allow Facebook users to become "fans," and they include all the functionality of a profile, plus the advantage of well-designed metrics and results for the organizer. (A regular Facebook profile won't include those metric reports.) More than 100,000 corporate or organizational pages have been created on Facebook, and a consumer travel page on Facebook is a great idea, so let's break down and answer this triploid question:
- How do I get fans for my organizational page? As I said in my earlier rules for the "wild west" of social media, you can't expect to round up all the dogies--they have to come to you. Having said that, you can send up plenty of smoke signals. Start virally: Ask all your employees on Facebook to become "fans," for example, so their status updates will tell their friends about your group. Facebook also helps you out by showing users pages and groups that their friends have joined, another helpful nudge that doesn't involve work from you. Put a link, badge or button on your existing websites and blogs to let your existing viewers know about the group; then ask your members, clients, or constituents to help spread the word. Blog about your page and what it hopes to do, and post a link to it on Twitter--a great advantage of social media is that you can use social networking sites as a destination and also to promote other social media efforts. And do some old-fashioned PR: Send an announcement to (in this case) travel bloggers and Twitterers as well as mainstream journalists and ask them to check out the page and cover it. Then stand back and see what happens.
- How do we maintain a good level of activity on the page? This is critical to the success of any page--you can't stand back on this aspect. Make sure you are automating your RSS feeds and blog posts, which can appear as notes on your page, so that links are automatically created when you post. Beyond that, create a schedule for posting questions, news from your organization or other information regularly. Best of all: Start discussions and participation by announcing a contest, creating a poll or asking your fans to post video, photos, and notes. For travel, it's easy: A travel photo contest or "bucket list" of places people want to travel to someday are easy options that encourage participation. Ask the crowd to source your subject.
- What if someone posts something objectionable or negative? This is a discussion you'll need to have within your organization. It's important to remember that allowing a negative post to stand--and responding to it in a forthright way--only adds to your credibility as an organization. Why not use the opportunity to publicly answer misinformation, rumor and more? At the same time, you should be prepared to develop a thick skin and let opinions stand (as opposed to errors of fact). As I said to the audience today, the only difference between social media and the way things worked before is that you didn't always hear negative feedback, and thus couldn't address it. Now that you can, why not use it to your advantage?
When people use the "wild west" analogy, it conjures up images of lawless, roaming bandits, but I'd remind you that those were greatly outnumbered by ordinary settlers (and already-resident Native Americans) looking to live and let live. So when you saddle up to set a social media policy, take these six wild-west rules into consideration:
I've helped lots of clients work through social media policy issues; email me at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz for more information.
- Don't legislate from back East: If you've never created a social-media profile, nor commented on a blog, don't attempt to craft a social media policy until you're more familiar with the territory. Make sure you've experimented with the platforms you intend to use for business, and learn the local norms. Read other organizations' social media policies -- you can find several good examples of policies here. Social media sites are community-regulated, and attempting to control them like colonies won't work in these new territories.
- Say "howdy, stranger:" Do create policies that encourage participation by your employees and by the community you're trying to reach. If you restrict usage, you won't gain the advantages of the social part of social media. (Far from banning its use in the workplace, many of my clients are encouraging their employees to use it as a collaboration tool, creating secret Facebook groups and other tools to help that process stay private.) Make it easy to comment, share or rate your content.
- Tell the sheriff what you're doing in these parts. Rather than start your policy with what you won't do, start with your reasons for participating--and let the community (the real sheriff in these parts) know those reasons. What's your goal? What are you here to do? What are you hoping others will do with what you're putting out there? How will you handle their comments? Tell them how you'll approach your communications here--for example, if your CEO promises to write his own blog posts, say so. (And stick to your word.)
- Use a barn-raising approach to building your policy. We call this "crowdsourcing" in the social media wild west, and you'll have a more realistic policy if you include your employees and customers in its creation (something Facebook learned in less than 24 hours this week when it tried to change its Terms of Service without warning its users and seeking their input).
- Don't rewrite the laws of the land. Many companies find they already have all the policies in place that might be needed when considering social media use, and if you have good existing policies on how your company deals with proprietary information, regulatory disclosures, copyright and related matters, you may need only to say "All the existing policies apply." At the same time, remember existing laws protect free speech, and understand you can't control everything. Many social media sites themselves note in writing that they can't and don't control the content on their sites, and you may need to get comfortable with that.
- Don't sit on that cactus. In some high-profile cases, employees have done stupid things on social media sites. Again, no amount of rope is going to keep some folks from hanging themselves, but you may want to use your policy to urge the use of common sense--and set some norms for how you want your customers, members or other key audiences treated. (If you already have these policies in place, congratulations and see number 5.) Want to be sure? Hold some orientation and training sessions for your employees to be sure they understand the policies.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Why audio? GMF is a major convener of important meetings related to transatlantic cooperation, and already makes audio available from them, so policymakers and citizens alike can hear important speakers on issues of North American-European cooperation. Providing an audio "time capsule" of the year seems like a good start towards adapting its annual report in new formats. In addition to showcasing key speakers, your organization may want to offer an annual report audio feature to:
review compelling quotes from newsworthies at your press availabilities;It's early enough in 2009 for you to start planning how you'll capture audio throughout the year for this project. Share your ideas in the comments.
share a message from your CEO only available in this format;
capture the sounds of groups you served: children, volunteers, consumers, homeless women, marchers in a protest;
compile sounds that underscore your activities for the year, from rocket engines to train whistles and more; or
play music, poetry or dramatic passages performed at arts events.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Tiffany Lohwater, public engagement manager at the AAAS Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology, said that communication skills are not only important for interviews with reporters, but also for scientists working with students, interacting with policymakers, giving public talks, and writing articles for the general public. "The workshop encourages scientists to consider how they can better communicate to a non-scientific audience," said Lohwater. "These activities allow them to practice those skills that they might use in an interview or public talk and get constructive feedback from colleagues."A nice note: I conducted this workshop on the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth, and our audience included some evolutionary biologists.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Buy the 6-inch Amazon Kindle
Saturday, February 07, 2009
Have you recently been hearing a lot of buzz about Twitter and asked yourself, “What the heck is Twitter?” You’re not alone. Despite its odd name, more and more people around the world are signing up for a Twitter account.
Twitter is basically a micro-blogging social medium that asks the question, “What are you doing?” Some people simply “Tweet” (posts on Twitter) a direct response to that question, whereas others take it to the next level and Tweet about their industry or profession and provide hyperlinks to articles of interest.
So now you ask, “Who reads your Tweets?” It’s quite simple really. You begin following whomever you would like to follow and, in turn, others follow you. The “following” or networking process is much easier than other social media platforms. Twitter is very user friendly: those who want to be involved in the conversation can easily converse and those who don’t want to be involved can simply observe. Getting started is very easy and before you know it, you will have built a nice network of colleagues, clients, potential clients, and friends, all involved in your conversation.
I came across Twitter in October 2008. My main reason for experimenting with Twitter was because I heard that it can increase your search engine optimization in Google searches. I work in marketing for a nationally recognized law firm and saw this as a proactive initiative to increase our firm’s exposure. I created my personal Twitter page with Tweets solely about legal news involving our firm. I began seeing a couple of our Tweets appear on the first and second pages of Google searches. In addition, I began networking with other legal marketers through Twitter and got involved in the Law Firm Media Professionals (LFMP) group, all because of Twitter. The topic of the first LFMP chapter meeting I attended was social media and Denise was the guest speaker. We spoke after the meeting about Twitter and have been following each other since.
With Denise’s motivation, I presented Twitter to my boss and am now the creator of our firm’s Twitter page. For the past few months, our firm has been seeing great results on Google, including several Tweets that have appeared as the first post in Google searches! We are now strategically leveraging our network of followers and always looking for someone new to follow. Our Twittering has also been acknowledged by some of our followers. Here are a few Tweets that we have noticed on Twitter about our involvement with this social medium:
In her LFMP presentation, Denise mentioned that getting involved with social media, whether for business or pleasure, is an experiment and takes time. She used the example of getting into a swimming pool. You don’t just jump in all at once without testing the water first. You should put one foot in, then the other, and then slowly ease into the water. For some it might be one toe at time, but regardless, getting in the social media pool is important because your colleagues, clients, potential clients, and friends are in it. It’s time that you take the plunge!
- “If I did communications for BigLaw, I would use Twitter like Manatt. I think that is an effective use of Twitter for PR.” Tweet from Bruce Carton, editor of the Securities Docket.
- “I bet immediate future for BigLaw on Twitter is as a publisher without conversation. Like Manatt. Effective form of PR.” Tweet from Bruce Carton, editor of the Securities Docket.“
- '90% of lawyers will use Twitter for PR in 2009.’ I think it will be law firms not lawyers. My ‘bold prediction’-I'm thinking like Manatt.” Tweet from Bruce Carton, editor of the Securities Docket.
- A tax attorney made this Tweet: “Anyone have an example of a law firm that’s connected in a really good way? Meaning social media, etc.” Adrian with JD Supra responded to that Tweet by saying, “There’s a bunch I think that are good in terms of objectives, start with Manatt.”
- “FYI - Manatt (large law) has been using Twitter for some time. Been following. I think it's using Twitter effectively.” Kevin O’Keefe, CEO of LexBlog.
--Michael J. Zukewich
(You can follow Michael Zukewich and follow Manatt on Twitter to stay up-to-date with how they're using this social medium. I've noticed that Michael posts a variety of tweets, sharing news coverage of the firm, noting when one of the firm's partners has expertise on a breaking issue and more. One great way for you to use this resource: Send him a tweet and ask him whom to follow in areas of the law that interest you. Readers of this blog can find me on Twitter here.)
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Just a quick note to our members that the February lunch, "Taming the Wild, Wild West: Crafting a social media policy," is booked! We already have a long waiting list, and will not be adding any more names. Sorry! (The last time we had this kind of response was, not surprisingly, our last social media lunch.) We plan to post an overview of the lunch afterwards for those who didn't make the cut.If you'll miss this discussion--which already promises to be lively--I also will post on this blog an e-handout and summary of the discussion. I appreciate your interest!
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
- Most valuable about the workshop were "the interactive components" and "Denise’s ability to keep everyone engaged."
- Helpful and lively.
- I wish you could go to EVERY professional society meeting![
- I found] comfort that public speakers aren’t born, they’re made.
- I really enjoyed Denise’s confidence when she was walking around the tables and answering to some “tough” questions and comments. Hope at some point I’ll get that level of self-confidence!
Need a basic-skills training workshop on developing a message, public speaking or handling media interviews for your next professional organization meeting? Contact us at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz. We've done these workshops for boards of directors and members for a variety of organizations, including AAAS, INFORMS, the American Society of Nephrology and more.
Monday, February 02, 2009
...some forms of new media are performing much better than others. For example:And if you're still wondering why such longstanding traditional media models are in trouble, check out this post from Silicon Alley Insider, estimating why the New York Times could give every subscriber an Amazon Kindle for what it costs to print the paper, and then some. Full disclosure: I use the Kindle to get my Times every day, among other things.
- Blogs are now used by 24% of Internet users, up from 13% in 2006
- Social networks are now used by 26% of Internet users, up from 17% in 2006
- Videocasts are now used by 11% of Internet users, up from 6% in 2006
Slower growers include:
- RSS feeds: growing from 5 to 7 percent
- Podcasts: growing from 5 to 7 percent
- Business news sites: flat at 8 percent