Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Strategic View: Q&A with Jennifer Collins, The Event Planning Group

(Editor's note: This interview series brings you the strategic views of top communicators who are working creatively--all people in my extensive network. Washington is a city that thrives on events, and as president of The Event Planning Group, Jennifer Collins leads a team that prides itself on creating engaging brand experiences. She does that from a solid public relations background, and I'm delighted to share her insights on using social media with you.)

Go back to when you were considering how to use social media. What did you decide on as an approach, and how did you come to that decision?

I considered the recommendations of others who suggested that I use the platform that makes the most sense. Essentially, I was counseled that I shouldn’t get caught up in using all mediums just because they are there, and “everyone’s using them.” So I considered the places where my audience would be most informed about our capabilities as well as those with the best networking opportunities.

Another important consideration was deciding who would be the best person(s) to populate each platform. As company President, it was not in my best interest to personally try and engage all platforms. So I decided that Twitter and LinkedIn were the best tools for me to engage. We are in the process of designating another team member to maintain our Facebook page and develop video outreach.

Have you replaced any traditional PR methods using social tools only? Share some examples that you think are working well.

We are pretty much only using social media for our outreach. Our main focus at this time is building up content on our blog. We then push the blog postings to our other targeted platforms. What we’ve found is that there is an entire other “universe” on social media. For instance, Twitter has delivered networking and visibility across the globe. Many of our postings have been retweeted as industry resources. We have also been able to meet some of our followers at industry events.

What's a big lesson you've learned in using social media?

To respect social media for its power. While I tend to be a slow adopter of technology, I do see the benefits.
As a business owner, marketing the business using social media is much easier than when I first started out. In 1997, we were mainly using hardcopy brochures, direct mail and traditional PR. Social media has the capability of “expanding our coast” further and faster. It’s just now a matter of being consistent and organized in its use.

Which platforms are you using now?

We are using Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. We plan to begin using videos as well.

How do you measure results?

We do not have firm statistics of contracts being won due to social media. But what the outreach has done is generate visibility, which has led to inclusion in requests for proposals, speaking engagements and consideration as a resource.

What would you like to be able to do that you're not doing now?

I would like to increase our blogging capability and develop a video component to our outreach.

Finally: Share some links to examples of your social media efforts.
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