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Archive for March, 2011

Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable, Word of Mouth Movements

Hey PR and marketing pros. Are you tired of working on limited-duration campaigns? Burned out from the daily grind of tactical work? Sick of social media? Then, maybe it’s time for you to help ignite a movement.

 Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable, Word of Mouth Movements walks you through a process that contributed to movements such as teen smoking prevention, abolishment of child sex trafficking… even scrap-booking and independent book-selling.

It tells how word-of-mouth marketing and identity company Brains on Fire helped organizations set goals — then move toward achieving them by empowering passionate supporters.

Robbin Phillips, Greg Cordell, Geno Church and Spike Jones walk you through a process that includes:

* Find the passion conversation

* Start with the first conversation

* Look for inspirational leadership

* Create a barrier of entry

* Empower your fans with knowledge

* Make sure you integrate shared ownership into your movement

* Build it on a powerful identity

* Tie online and off-line efforts and tactics together

* Make those fans of your feel like rock stars

* Fight an injustice

They share  lessons they’ve learned in their fascinating work. I had the pleasure of hearing Geno Church speak at a Cincinnati PRSA luncheon last month. I couldn’t wait to get this book — and gobbled it up. I’d suggest you do the same — if you want to really make a lasting difference with your PR and marketing work.

Some tips on making the most of Twitter

March 19, 2011 2 comments

Several years ago, I watched with curiosity — and a bit of judgement — as Kevin Dugan pecked away at his iPhone during a talk by a local PR pro at a Cincinnati PRSA luncheon.

I was curious because Kevin has always been an early adopter, a cutting-edge “nerd” of high regard. His Strategic Public Relations blog is one of my favorites.

I was annoyed because of my ignorance. In my mind, he was checking and responding to e-mails on BlackBerry. How rude!

Thankfully, the curiosity won out over the judgmentalism.

“What are you doing?” I whispered. He replied: “It’s Twitter. Give it a try. You might think it’s stupid, but give it a try.”

Well, I went back to the office and signed up for a Twitter account on my PC. It didn’t make a lot of sense. It almost reminded me of those online chats I first observed when checking out that new thing called the Internet in the 1990’s. Or, to go back further, CB radio traffic. Endless streams of mindless babble.

Still, I pushed ahead. And, I’m glad I did. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way…

* Twitter is a great tool for connecting with passionate people, the real movers and shakers, the enthusiasts. You can join their communities, their tribes, and keep up on the latest. I’ve connected with leaders in public relations, social media marketing, cancer research, healthcare… my favorite band, and sports team. I’ve conversed with authors of books and leaders of organizations. I’ve kept up with what they are doing, what they’re writing, where they’re speaking… I’ve watched live streams of their talks, viewed videos of them sharing vital information, read what they’re reading, scanned through their PowerPoints…

* Twitter allows you to “attend” powerful conferences and meetups across the globe — from the comfort of your office, font porch… anywhere. By following hashtags such as #cincyprsa #nmcincy #cincysm locally, or hashtags set up by the many excellent professional gatherings taking place, I can watch as attendees tweet notes, photos, links to presentations… live from the events. I’ve learned a lot from events as far-flung as a bloggers’ confab in Indiana to an innovation conference in Texas. I make a point of following people who are speaking at or sharing from those events.

* You really do care about what some people are having for lunch. That’s the first thing that late adopters say to me about Twitter: Why would I care about what somebody’s having for lunch? The second: Why would I care about what Chad Ochocinco is doing? I usually respond that it all depends on your goal. If you are using Twitter for building your personal brand or expanding your network, you may care about where somebody has lunch or what their personal interests are. It really helps a lot to have that personal connection. You’re not cold-calling, you have some warmth there. You can build on your common bonds — maybe even the celebrities you choose to follow. By the way, I care a lot more about what Conan has to say than Chad.

* Listen and share more than you broadcast and promote. It’s about what you bring to the party, not what you take from it. Devote a third of your tweets to sharing helpful information, a third info that allows people to get to know you better, and a third to promoting your cause.

* Have thoughts of retweeting and saying Thank You in you mind when you sign on to Twitter. Give, and you shall receive.

* Get a smartphone and wireless laptop, maybe an iPad. Take them to conferences, professional association lunches and other places where information is shared — and broadcast highlights and photos to your followers. Look at yourself as an at-the-scene reporter, giving live reports.

* Follow reporters at your favorite news outlets. I get most of my news these day via Twitter. Most journalists share notes live, and then link to their full written report later. I especially like following the Cincinnati Reds beat reporter, who answers questions as a game is taking place.

Twitter celebrated its five-year birthday recently. I’m glad to have jumped on the tweet wagon early in its journey. How about you?

Classic blogging book still relevant

March 5, 2011 3 comments

Felt like a historian while talking social media marketing with my daughter as we walked past the Apple Store in a local mall last night.

I had just finished reading Naked Conversations: How Blogs Are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, the classic 2006 book that had somehow escaped my reading list. Krista Neher, author of the Social Media Field Guide, had suggested the book in her Bootcamp Digital last fall. Got it for 1 cent, plus $3.99 shipping and handling, on Amazon.

“Imagine a time with no Facebook, or YouTube, or Twiter,” I said to my daughter, as teenagers swarmed to the tables with iPads, iPods and iWhatevers. “How did we do social media? With blogs, podcasts, message boards, wikis… some of the online resources we now take for granted as we connect with family, friends and associates.”

That’s why I recommend that people still read Naked Conversations, even though at times it seems like something from the Three Stooges era of social media. (I say that because my daughter and I have been getting a kick out of the dated phrases and behaviors in the classic film clips lately. Who calls guys mugs, girls dames or toots, or tries to get laughs by smacking someone or biting their leg? Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck. Woo-woo-woo…Sorry, I digress. 🙂 )

Anyway… there is a lot of very helpful information in Naked Conversations. It served as a good refresher to me — and helped me better understand some nuances that hadn’t been clear to me before.

I particularly like the fact that two of the top bloggers in the world share their experiences with the medium. They give many examples of successful blogs. They do a fantastic job of selling businesses on the power of honest and open blogging.

They end with this recollection of their conversation with Yossi Vardi, the adult supervisor of ICQ’s four student founders:

“He pointed to us research showing that story-telling and conversations are at the essence of human culture. In that light, blogging is a point on a cultural continuum that goes back all the way to when our ancestors sat in caves shivering around fires and doodling on the walls. To paraphrase Vardi, blogging is storytelling and conversations on steroids.

“Ultimately, blogging has ended one era and ignited another. In this new era, companies don’t win just by talking to people. They win by listening to people as well. We call it the Conversation Era. It doesn’t change everything because as John Naisbitt told us, everything never changes. But something has changed, and blogging is impacting business of all sizes in most parts of the developed world. It has made the world a smaller, faster place.

“And business is the better for it.”