1)      Similar Concept, Fresh Take

With so many Social Networking Sites (SNS) developing all the time, it’s sometimes hard to keep ahead or even on track of the game. For example, I’ve signed up and tried out countless pages over the past few years of SNS proliferation – some pages I am an avid (or addicted) user of – namely Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and to an extend Google Plus, however, there are many others I tried for a while, then either abandoned or forgot about completely – namely Quora *shudders*.

What I like about Pinterest is the fresh concept it brings to the multitudes of similar SNS sites. For example, the concept of “re-pinning” is more or less exactly the same as the concept of “re-tweeting”, except with a big pretty picture of something you want to share with your followers.   

But why use it…..well that leads me to my next point…..

2)      Visual Imagery Rather Than Text

Emphasis is put on the visual quality and interest of the images posted rather than actual text. Of course there is room for description and image categorisation underneath, but it’s really the image that draws users in and makes them either want to re-pin, click through to the link, read or comment upon the image.

Visual imagery can be a powerful PR tool as it can send messages to audiences in a straightforward but interesting and timely manner. PR professionals are consistently seeking ways to best relate messages to the varying public’s of the organisation or clients they represent (hence the name “Public Relations”). The use of visual communication over written or verbal communication is therefore an interesting concept in today’s digital era when we consider that not all publics are wired to pick up and read a newspaper / news website every day, can be bothered to access the multitude of professional and personal Blogs out there, or even spend time scrolling the thousands of Tweets competing in their newsfeed on an hourly basis.

This, then, leads me onto my next point……

3)      New Communication Channel

Pinterest has the possibility therefore to tap into a whole new audience, whom before for whatever reason may not have been as easily reachable. Now, I am by no means saying that people who don’t read newspapers or blogs, or check their Tweets every hour will automatically be a user of Pinterest, but I am saying that Pinterest has the possibility as a new SNS platform to appeal to a new range of people.

For example, according to recent demographic figures:

68.2% of users are female

Over 50% of users have children

28.1% of users are middle-class

The average age demographic is 25 – 34.  

As a PR, knowing your target audience is one thing, but knowing how to successfully reach them with key messages of interest can be a whole other.

4)      Builds Communities of Common Interest

Given the above demographics then, it is not surprising that some of the most popular categories that users follow include: [Click to link]

Food and Drink

Home Decor

Kids

Pets

Travel & Places

Wedding & Events

Women’s Apparel

This of course can be tailored to the user’s choice and preference i.e. Pinner’s I follow include categories of interest such as Art, Architecture, Cars, Photography, Print and Posters, Travel & Places. This then allows me to connect and re-pin the pins (images) that specifically interest me.

This specific use of categorisation in effect allows users to build communities of common interest which can be commented and shared with their followers – a kind of ripple effect so to speak commonly found in PR practices.

5) Brand Building

This quite naturally then leads me to my fifth and final point regarding how this use of community can be successfully leveraged to build and maintain brand awareness through the creation of brand pages.

The opportunities for successful outreach are vast given the Pinterest demographics and common categories of interest (i.e. as a PR you could represent an interior design company, a travel and tourism organisation, a kids toy manufacturer, a restaurant, an artist etc) – the list is endless. How brands utilise this new platform as a form of two-way communications activity will be interesting to see – but specifically, I am intrigued to see how big brand names such as Apple, Red Bull, McDonalds, Coca-Cola etc, might intend to utilise Pinterest in relation to consumer outreach and brand reputation, i.e. new product launches, events, employees, good Corporate Social Responsibility?

Like many other SNS platforms only time will tell whether Pinterest is a keeper which can be successfully implemented in PR strategies.

For the moment however, I’m totally hooked!!

Connect with me…..

I am always happy to connect with people of similar interests – please come say Hi on Pinterest: abbeymichellepr

 

So, there has been a lot of debate recently on how to define “Public Relations” given the recent decision by the PRSA to find “A Modern Definition of Public Relations”

According to the PRSA, “[Public Relations Defined] is an initiative to modernize the definition of public relations. Through an open and collaborative effort, PRSA and its industry partners are providing a platform for public relations, marketing and communications professionals to add their voice to a new definition of public relations.’

Out of the thousands of submissions of suggested definitions, the PRSA has narrowed it down to three contenders for people to vote on:

1)      Public relations is the management function of researching, communicating and collaborating with publics to build mutually beneficial relationships.

2)      Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.

3)      Public relations is the strategic process of engagement between organizations and publics to achieve mutual understanding and realize goals.

Now forgive me for stating the obvious, but when they suggested a “Modern” definition (aka: relating to the present or recent times as opposed to the remote past), I was expecting some form of modern – “Digital Era-GenerationY-Facebooky- #TweetTweet-ConsumerBrand-Mass-Two-Way-Communication” – type of definition.

Or at least something with a little digital zing to it!

However, instead we got three re-hashed versions of traditional definitions, basically stating the same things that have always been said about PR, aka:

“Public Relations is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics” (CIPR – UK)

“Public Relations is the management function that identifies, establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organisation and the various publics on whom its success or failure depends” (Cutlip et al.)

Etc, etc, etc…..

Now, there is no way that I am going to attempt my own definition of PR in the Digital age, or even traditional PR for that matter, and the simple reason being because PR as an industry is too broad in scope to define or concisely contain into one neatly tied up definition with a little red ribbon on it.

However, it is precisely this immense depth and scope that makes PR fundamentally such a wonderful industry to work in! New trends and “modern” communication possibilities emerge all the time; something which has happened throughout history with hieroglyphics and carrier pigeons etc…. But, specifically in the past century or so with the birth of radio, television, internet and mobile technology, modern communication methods have all coincided with the birth and development of PR as a serious profession.

This, with no shadow of a doubt will continue through these current “modern” times and way into the future, meaning that as technology and communication methods develop, so will PR along with the rest of the Communications industry, meaning any “modern” definition will be defunct in a few years or so anyway. It is therefore due to this constant flux and endless potential that efforts to define PR as one single authoritative definition are futile.

Now, I am by no means saying that the above suggested definitions of PR are bad, because in fact they are very good in their essence of capturing the importance of planning and organisation, engagement of stakeholders, and relationship building in PR activities. However, I am merely stating that if the intention from the outset of the PRSA really was to come up with some NEW SPARKLY MODERN definition of PR, why are we still stuck with three definitions stating exactly the same thing?

So, I beg the question, has anybody got any POSTMODERN DEFINITIONS of PR up their sleeve?  

I just saw this on PR Daily and thought it was not only hilarious, but highly useful and correct.

Social Media can be a tricky thing to explain to non-digital natives, hence why I like this clever idea of explaining the world of Social Media via something that everyone understands – doughnuts!

This simple list demonstrates in a light-hearted way the many different ways social media can be used to share or state the same thing in effect….but from a different angle. This in reality of course could be anything from a media release, a feature, a piece of coverage, an interview, a video – something which an organisation might want to share on several different platforms in order to reach their broadest potential audience.

Other suggestions may include:

Twitter: I’m drinking #Wine

Facebook: I like cheesecake

LinkedIn: My skills include tea and coffee making (a skill of a particular importance for a recent graduate like me!)

Who knew that doughnuts could be so educational ;-)

So I woke up this morning to find this rather amusing post from the Daily Mail’s Twitter feed:

@MailOnline: “#McDstories: Twitter promotion backfires as users hijack #McDstories hashtag to share fast food horror stories http://bit.ly/AyjniD

The original campaign had been to promote positive stories about the farmers who grow produce for the world’s most famous fast food brand using the hashtag #MeetTheFarmers. The stunt magnificently backfired however when the hashtag was changed on one tweet from McDonalds Twitter feed from #MeetTheFarmers to #McDstories, then subsequently hijacked by the not so shy and retiring voice of the Twitter community……

@McDonalds “When u make something w/pride, people can taste it,” – McD potato supplier #McDStories

The use of this more general hashtag certainly got people Tweeting their #McDstories, but as I suspect, not quite in the light those poor MaccyD Marketers were hoping!

@Muzzafuzza ‎”I haven’t been to McDonalds in years, because I’d rather eat my own diarrhea.”

@Alice_2112 “Hospitalized for food poisoning after eating McDonalds in 1989. Never ate there again and became a vegetarian. Should have sued #McDStories”

@PuppyPuncher “Ordered a McDouble, something in the damn thing chipped my molar #McDStories”

This MaccyD Twitter disaster is a prime example of how an online campaign can turn from a simple stunt into a full blown brand crisis in the blink of an eye.

So what went wrong?

Well, first of all, that clever communications team at McDonalds HQ forgot one major thing: GREAT BRAND, POOR PRODUCT!  

They are a fast food chain with a high calorie, fat and salt count which has contributed highly to the worlds growing obesity endemic! So why do they insist on the constant need to pretend they are “natural” and “healthy”, when, as quite clearly demonstrated by the disgruntled Tweeters of #McDStories, they are not and never will be…..no matter how many times we #MeetTheFarmers or buy a salad box to go with our Big Mac and fries! To prevent further brand damage, they should simply embrace the fact they are a fast food chain instead of this contrived attempt to pull the wool over consumer eyes.

Second, that clever communications team at McDonalds HQ also forgot the most important and seemingly obvious thing about Twitter – TWITTER IS A TWO-WAY COMMUNICATION PLATFORM!

Unlike placed media advertisements, controlled Facebook pages or viral marketing videos for YouTube, the basis of Twitter’s popularity is the fact that it gives a voice to ordinary people like you, me and the tweeters behind the #McD[horror]Stories.

There is no means of one-way control over Twitter, it is a loose cannon designed to generate community conversation which is why it is so fundamentally fantastic. It is a channel to talk about the good and the bad (mainly the bad in this instance), and give power back to the people to have their say. Simply put, it provides organisations with a voice, but equally provides consumers and activists with a voice too.

Social media voices should be symbiotic in nature, not antagonistic, hence the name “social”. The sooner big brands such as McDonalds realise this, along with the fact they are no longer infallible to the wrath and online speed of the public voice, the sooner they can come to embrace social media for productive brand building purposes rather than one-way publicity stunts.

I just added some information about my experience with the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund – It was a campaign I undertook between February – May 2011 and I thought i’d just share a few facts about it here. If you are interested, would like to read more and see some of the coverage achieved, please visit the “Work” section of this Blog.

Background To The Campaign

In May 2002 The Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund (MKMRF) was set up by Chris Knighton in memory of her husband Mick, who died from the asbestos related cancer, mesothelioma in 2001.

Over the past 10 years MKMRF has raised over £900,000 and has successfully funded three major research projects into mesothelioma.

On the 14th May 2011, MKMRF hosted their sponsored Glitter Ball to celebrate the 9th Anniversary of the Charity’s foundation. The Glitter Ball also commemorated the 10th year since Mick Knighton’s death.

Objective

Successfully raise awareness amongst publics about the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund and the asbestos related cancer, mesothelioma, with the aim of encouraging charitable donations before the May 14th Glitter Ball, 2011.

Strategies

Launch a media relations campaign and successfully gain coverage in at least one major North East publication.

Launch a personal communications strategy with organisations to effectively raise awareness and charitable interest in MKMRF and The Glitter Ball.

Launch a Social Media campaign.

Organise a fundraising event to raise money towards MKMRF’s first £1,000,000.

How This Was Achieved

Press releases to media contacts.

Telephone and email correspondence with past and potential charitable organisations.

Brochure and leaflets produced about MKMRF and The Glitter Ball, and sent via email and post to past and potential charitable organisations.

Online fundraising and awareness materials set up including JustGiving, Facebook and Twitter pages.

Face to face correspondence with potential event fundraising hosts.

What Was Achieved

A front page feature and double page spread on pages 10 and 11 of The Chronicle worth a calculated £25,010.

A four minute coverage feature on BBC Look North.

Four pages of online Chronicle coverage.

Leaflets produced and sent to over 2,000 recipients of the MKMRF newsletter.

PDF brochure designed and circulated to past and potential sponsors.

Facebook and Twitter pages created.

Prize donations collected and auctioned at The Glitter Ball, including restaurant vouchers, Fenwicks vouchers, collectable art, skydiving lessons and a weekend holiday stay in York.

A charity Salsa event held on Monday 2nd May.

Over £30,000 raised, surpassing the target on the night of the Glitter Ball by £15,000!

VIDEO REEL:

This is a short photo-reel I created of collated photo’s taken by MKMRF of some of their greatest achievements over the 9 years of existence

I was feeling a little down yesterday for multiple reasons I shan’t be delving into. However, when I went into my sisters room to take refuge I found this delightful coaster on her dressing table, and it cheered me right up…so I though I’d share it :)

“May his JOYFUL SMILE remind us of how much there is to be happy about”

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

A SHORT HANDBOOK TO THE SCARY WORLD OF COMMUNICATIONS AND SOCIAL MEDIA

I just added some information about this onto the “Work” section of my blog. However, I just thought I’d share a little about it here…..

I created this little handbook for a client in summer 2011 to gently ease them into the idea of why and how they should use social media to promote the organisation and reach a wider audience. I made the handbook pretty general so it was applicable to any type of business or organisation, emphasising the importance of social media in a digital-era, and how communication tools can be easily incorporated into the day-to-day functioning of a business without having to bring in an external agency.

Below is a brief extract from the social media section, but if you are interested in reading more, please click on the link above to view the PDF version :)

SAMPLE EXTRACT:

“Social media is a relatively new form of online communication which proliferated in popularity with the launch of Facebook in 2004. Other major Social Media sites include Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Tumblr.  

New social media pages are established all the time, but Facebook and Twitter remain the major leaders in online communication and networking. A useful professional networking site however is LinkedIn where you can share professional knowledge and expertise about either your individual self or your organisation. 

Social media is the next generation in communication and it is essential that organisations get to grips with its importance, influence and possibility to avoid being left behind in the online social sphere. Social media is especially useful in creating a broader prospective awareness, and is also great to meet and connect with other people or organisations that you may have a specific interest in, or they with you. At a simple level, social media is a fantastic way to share information in a straight-forward, effective and cost-free way. For example you may have added something to the news section on your website – by simply adding a link to your social media pages, you can easily broaden the spectrum of interest and hopefully promote a greater awareness of your organisation.

Of course in order to do this, you must first build up an online following. By adding social media buttons onto your website, and URL’s on any marketing or PR materials, it will allow people to see that you are an active social media user and encourage them to follow and connect with you. Social media should not however just be used as a one-way mechanism, but should act as a two-way communication tool where other social media users can comment you and participate in active online conversations.

Social media can also be used as an excellent form of internal communication. By encouraging staff and service users to follow the organisations social media sites, you can easily keep them up to date with information and events which will show up on their wall feed.

 Social media has opened up a whole new realm of communication possibilities and should not be overlooked or dismissed as a useless piece of technology. It is dynamic and ever-changing in scope and potential and can easily be actively incorporated into the everyday functioning of an organisation.”