Friday, August 31, 2012

The weekend read

If ever there were a week that needed rounding up, this one is it. Time to gather the herds and head toward the high ground of the weekend, pardner. I've got the best picks right here, found moseying around in my Twitterstream this week: Good reads, jobs, and other finds I think you should see before you light that campfire:
It wouldn't be the weekend without some jobs to peruse and pass along. UNC-Chapel Hill is looking for a public communications specialist in the Office of Research Communications. The World Bank wants an Arabic online communications associate. And the Charles Darwin Center in the Galapagos Islands needs a science communicator/media officer. You know what to do, cowhands.

Jim Garrow, a disaster planner and emergency and risk communicator with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, weighed in, so to speak, on the press release diet. His useful thoughts are here--don't miss his links to other posts of his on using social media with journalists. It's nice to have such thoughtful observers.

It's a long weekend here in the U.S., so I appreciate your help in getting it started. Thanks for reading, as always.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Closed today

Just a reminder that the blog's closed for the day. Your weekend read of finds from my Twitterstream will be back next Friday. In the meantime, don't forget to have a weekend, and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Should you start a Pinterest portfolio? 12 career highlights to pin

Science journalist Carl Zimmer shares video,
audio links of talks and interviews
The more I spend time on Pinterest, the more I'm convinced that we haven't yet found all the uses to which this versatile and visual site can be put. And one idea that intrigues me right now is the idea of creating a professional portfolio of your work on Pinterest, particularly now that the network no longer requires invites to join.

Not an ordinary resume, your portfolio on Pinterest can encompass all sorts of work-worthy examples and kudos in ways that other career sites can't mimic. Here are a dozen things I might consider putting in my Pinterest portfolio, if I were you:
  1. Speaking engagements: Organizers are always looking for video or audio of your speaking gigs. Why not follow journalist Carl Zimmer's example, and post them on Pinterest? His collection includes media interviews on radio and television, as well as lectures and talks. Since Pinterest is fully integrated with SlideShare, a board about your speaking gigs can easily include your slides, as well as video and audio and media coverage.
  2. Media coverage: Been featured in the news media? Make a board of your coverage, with links to web, audio or video. Don't forget blogs where you've been mentioned, linked or interviewed. Did a reviewer or interviewer say something powerful about your work? Capture the text with Share as Image to create and pin a visual quote that links right back to that raving review.
  3. Publications: Book authors can pin a board full of book covers with links to purchase sites. Ditto those of you who write white papers and reports, design brochures or create more unusual publications, whether online or in print. Freelancers, here's the place to link your articles with a visual from either the layout or the magazine cover or website where they appeared. 
  4. Social media presence and your best posts: Bloggers, your best posts go here, please. And everyone can link to the places where we can find you in social media, a direct way to let followers on Pinterest see what else you're doing.
  5. Visual work: Maybe you produce videos, make art, design logos, create graphics, or take photographs. Pinterest works best of all for visuals, so post a portfolio's worth here. Photographer Brian Kraft has boards of others' photos he likes, but saves some boards for his own favorite works.
  6. Where you've worked, memberships or your clients: Whether you post a visual of the building, the logo or a particularly evocative photo, you can capture your resume stops visually here.
  7. Wall of fame photos: I can't think of a better place to put those photos of you with the famous, the notorious, your clients, or the photos of the moments that really capped your career. 
  8. Awards: Grip, grin and pin, people. Any congratulatory photo that reflects an award you've received can get on an awards board, not to mention video of that acceptance speech.
  9. Great quotes about your work: Use Share as Image to turn quotes and recommendations into visual posts on Pinterest. Link back to LinkedIn or any other site with great quotes about you.
  10. What you're reading: On any social network, sharing your reading list is an easy way to communicate how you think and what interests you beyond the confines of your stated resume. And books suggest pinned book covers, which are popular on Pinterest, but you can use this board to post articles and other reading.
  11. Your measurement data: Make one board like an ongoing annual report about your accomplishments, and challenge yourself to find visuals to match the measures.
  12. Recommendations: If you've been collecting recommendations on sites like LinkedIn, Share as Image can capture the best parts, make them visual, pinnable and linked back to LinkedIn. You may want to keep recommendation quotes with the topics to which they refer, or just create a board full of recommendations.
What boards would you add to this list to capture your accomplishments? Share in the comments.If you're looking for other ways to use Pinterest for business communications, check out my post about 17 things you can pin to Pinterest that are not pillows or dresses, and follow my Pinterest board of great ways to use Pinterest.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Weekend read: My weekly share on Twitter

Knock, knock. Who's there? Why, the weekend's here...almost. Before you shut the door on the week just past, take a look at all the goodies I found in my Twitterstream this week. As usual, it's a pile of data, insights, good reads and jobs--and you get door-to-door delivery just in time for the weekend:
My weekly door to jobs: The American Psychological Association is looking for a communications director, and the Pew Charitable Trusts is looking for a director of communications strategy. And here's a former job of mine, now open: Director of media relations for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. I post smart communications jobs here on Fridays, and if you follow don't get caught on Facebook, you'll find some of them there during the week...but I always recap them here on Friday.

I'll leave the door open for next time: If you're trying to register for Be an Expert on Working with Experts, registration is closed for the August 23 session. But I want to know if you're interested in the next session, so go here and select "put me on the waiting list for...." that workshop. Hoping I'll schedule it at a certain time? Go ahead and let me know at infoATdontgetcaughtDOTbiz.

Finally, the ballpark here will be closed next Friday--a rare couple of days off, so I tried to make this weekend read extra-jam-packed to keep you going. See you back here on the 31st for another weekend read!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The guest who came to Twitter: Hand over your social accounts

Call 2012 the year of the hand-over in social media. It feels as if all the kids are doing it, handing over control of their social accounts to people who previously might have been thought of as the audience for those posts.

Many companies and organizations have experimented with hand-overs in social media, or just switched around who's posting what from time to time. But very public hand-overs have come into view recently, as the nation of Sweden handed over its official Twitter account, @Sweden, to citizens for seven days at a time, gaining thousands of followers around the globe. Inspired by @Sweden, Vermont's tourism agency handed over its Twitter account to citizens so they could describe @ThisIsVt. Not without some qualms:
“At first I was like, ‘What are we going to do here, this sounds like a train wreck!’ ” said Jen Butson, the director of communications for the state’s Department of Tourism and Marketing. “That’s the communications mind.” Still, Ms. Butson said, the project could offer this rural state — where the population has the second-oldest median age in the nation, according to the 2010 census — a chance to present a contemporary, humanized narrative as it works to attract more tourists and young residents.
It's not just place-based and public government institutions trying the hand-over. Communicators everywhere might consider an internal hand-over of sorts, patterned on this recent example in which the New Yorker PR department handed over an Instagram account to the magazine's photographers, who will rotate ownership of the posts for a few weeks at a time. Yes, you heard that right: the PR team gave up posting photos and let the photographers do it directly. You can guarantee the viewpoint will be different, with a behind-the-scenes feel minus the filter.

Private foundations also are opening up communications channels to the nonprofits they fund. The Communications Network asks "what if foundations–instead of targeting grantees as recipients of their social media output–made more of a conscious effort to engage grantees as social media content creators?" and points to The Heinz Endowments, which features a feed called the "Spotlight" on its website, where its grantees tell their own stories. Heinz communications manager Linda Braund says: 
Some people at the Endowments were genuinely worried that we could run into trouble with inappropriate content, and that was the biggest obstacle that I faced in getting the Spotlight online. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be aware of what’s being posted — I get an email with a link every time anything is posted to our site so that I can check it out. But, don’t let fear of what your grantees are going to say stop you from allowing them to post directly without waiting for approval from you. We have gained a lot of rich, authentic content on our site about the work our grantees are doing in the community — without a lot of work and time on our part.
Handing over your account is an instant way to give it a fresh look and feel, and to keep your feed varied and interesting. Giving up control is a good look for your company or organization, too--it suggests you feel confident enough to turn over the reins. I'd love to hear and see more examples of hand-overs in social media. Have you turned your account over to someone--or several someones? Would you consider it? Share links, concerns, case studies and experiences in the comments.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Weekend read: My weekly share on Twitter

Did this week measure up, or did you just inch along toward the weekend? That distance is getting shorter, fast--it's Friday, and time for the weekend read of my best finds on Twitter.
Often, I end this post with jobs. Today, a real find on Twitter: @PRJobWire, a new account that will post fresh job leads in PR throughout the day, from Amanda Miller Littlejohn. Smart!

There are many weeks when I wonder, "Should I keep doing the weekend read?" And then I see a tweet like this:
You know who has a stellar weekly wrap-up for communicators? @dontgetcaught does
— Zan McCollochLussier (@zanarama) August 3, 2012
Coming from the guy who does the very good Free Tool Friday posts, that's something. Thanks, Zan, and thanks to you for starting your weekend with me, as always.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Instead of a press release: Options to add to your press release diet

If you're a communicator--particularly one who works within an organization or company--it may seem as if the only thing your clients request is a press release, regardless of intended audience, media interest, likelihood of coverage or content issues. In many cases, a press release is wanted to reach non-media audiences, like members, trustees or supporters who can be better reached in other ways. And of course, I've put you in an awkward position because I'm urging your organization to go on the press release diet.

The solution? Having a menu of options that are alternatives--and likely better ones--than that press release.

I first started the list "instead of a press release" when I directed communications for the American Chemical Society, and our press officers complained that every program wanted releases, releases, releases--but then, that's all they knew to ask for. Instead of becoming a press release vending machine, we developed a sheet of options, and every communicator had it at the ready to start a conversation about alternatives. Many press releases died a-borning in this way, if the truth be known.

But here's the trick, communicators: My team didn't feel they had the backup to say "no" to our internal clients asking for releases, which is what prompted the discussion--and they didn't feel as if they had the ready answers. Brainstorming our options as a team helped everyone feel empowered and ready to suggest alternatives, two keys to making this alternative approach work.

 Here's my starter list of options, all of which can be used to prompt a discussion about the intended audience and whether, in fact, a release is the right tool for the job:
  • op-ed article
  • blog post
  • event for interested parties
  • email or letter to members or constituents
  • speech, informal talk or demonstration before the target audience
  • advertisement or public service announcement
  • quote or soundbite, offered in relation to breaking news
  • briefing online, on the phone, or in person
  • social discussion, a Google+ Hangout, office hours on a Facebook page, a Twitter chat
  • white paper or briefing for policymakers
  • a list of useful expert sources on the topic, posted on your website
  • panel discussion at an appropriate conference
  • media advisory or photo opportunity notice
  • note to editors to clarify a point
  • technical article with a cover note, sent to reporters with interest
  • nothing -- no action needed after discussion
Many more alternatives exist--feel free to post your ideas in the comments--but these offer a good start. Be sure you've discussed all the possibilities, and the wisdom of whether to act, before proliferating more news releases. (This post updates one I wrote in 2007.)

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Free ideas list: 50 things any volunteer can do to help your nonprofit's social media

Even if your nonprofit's staff is in charge of its social media efforts, it'd be nice to have volunteers engaged and involved in sharing those communications and posts. That's the challenge my art gallery faced, so I promised the member artists a list of 50 things any volunteer could to to help our social media efforts--then decided the list was too good not to share.

It's a list that ranges from the very basic, for volunteers who are just getting started in social media, to more sophisticated strategies they can carry out. You'll see examples from our gallery's efforts to get volunteers involved in social media, like this one: The photo at left is by Leslie Nolan, one of the gallery's artists, who posed her own painting and the model for it in front of the gallery, then shared that photo on her own Facebook page as well as the gallery's page--a creative and fun idea that shows an insider's view of how artists work. But the list is written so that any nonprofit can use it as a jump-start for involving volunteers and getting creative about their involvement in your social media strategy, whether they're manning the front desk or involved as a donor. And here's a hint: The list also works for small businesses and membership organizations as well.

To get the free list, just sign up for Speakers & Communicators, my free monthly newsletter on communications and social media strategies, and tips for public speaking and presenting. Already a subscriber? Look for a link to the list in the next issue of the newsletter.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

What's your social media plan B? Contingency plans communicators need

Everyone loves getting an A, but it's that plan B that will save you in tight circumstances. With the advent of social media, communicators can get caught if they haven't planned ahead for today's contingencies.

When I'm advising clients on social media strategies, it's the plans B that often help make the decision--for example, if you can only handle one person staffing one channel, and either the channel or person are down with no backup, you may want to rethink your plans. Have you thought through these situations where a social media plan B will stand you in good stead?
  1. Cross-training for ordinary staff absences: Everyone has sick days, surgery and recovery, family leave, and other routine absences. Is the rest of your team ready to step in for each person on the team? Do multiple players have access to the accounts, dashboards and other tools--and the experience to use them? Facebook now allows for multiple page admins with different roles, so make sure each role is backed up in this way.
  2. High-traffic post responses: Before you get overwhelmed by an unexpected major response to one of your posts, have you coordinated with your IT team and your own team about how you'll stop, drop and roll with a tsunami of comments or traffic? That means everything from keeping your site functional to how you'll respond, content-wise. Get some lessons by reading about how SCOTUS blog survived the announcement of the Supreme Court health care law decision by preparing for an overwhelming interest in the news on its site. There's more from the SCOTUS blog's publisher on what happened that day, including how the Court itself bet solely on its website, which couldn't stand the load at the most critical moment. It's one of many factors that contributed to some news organizations reporting the news incorrectly that day. Some smart tactics here to share and discuss with your IT folks. Don't forget to point out the impact on your end of the business.
  3. Pulling automated posts in a crisis: Your social media plan needs its own crisis plan: 6 lessons from the #hopkinsshooting offers a case study in getting caught by surprise, with lesson one being a plan to stop any auto-posts, which may look wildly out of context in a crisis. Social Media Explorer agrees, noting that it took some companies two days after the September 11 attacks to remove their Times Square ads or replace them with something more appropriate....and that two days in social media is an eternity.
  4. The channel is down: Whether it's the Twitter fail whale or something more dire, the channel on which you most depend may go down for reasons out of your control, as Twitter itself did recently for the better part of a business day. Where will your posts go then? How will you communicate with your users if that's your primary channel? Where's your "meetup" place for followers--do they know where to go to find you in an emergency outage?
  5. Your account is hacked: Aside from new security controls, what do you need to do to refute any harmful content posted under your brand? How are your users and followers reacting? What channel can you offer them as a secure posting place?
  6. Your message is hijacked or prompts a protest: McDonald's Twitter hashtag #McDStories quickly got overtaken by Twitter users who posted negative experiences. In this case, the company stopped promoting the hashtag within a couple of hours, replacing it with another that was already planned as a backup. It's a good reminder that your backups may need to be content backups as well as technical ones. If that sounds obvious, a July 2012 report notes that "of companies that have been subject to social media criticism however strong (ranging from a single complaint to a full-scale campaign), fully 72% rated their preparedness as average or below, with 20% being completely unprepared." 
What contingency plans do you have in place? Please add to this list, in the comments.

Registration is now open for the next Be an Expert on Working with Experts, for communicators and related professionals who work with subject-matter experts, policy analysts, scientists and engineers. The workshop is August 23 in Washington, DC, or I can bring it to your workplace. Get an early registration discount if you sign up by August 3. Details at the link.