Startups & the Future of PR

We are always interested in staying on top of what’s trending, original, and ultimately resourceful.

In a recent article featured on Mashable.com, writer Sarah Kessler describes six startups that are beginning to gain popularity – potentially enough to define the New Year for a number of industries.

To gain better insight for how to broaden our resources as PR professionals, which startups do you feel may come to the forefront in 2012? How would these be useful in the PR industry?

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Respecting all Communicators – Wednesday’s Resolution

Because PR professionals and journalists must work together, it is essential for PR pros to know what will make life a little easier for reporters.  To carry on our trend of avoiding potential fumbles in the New Year, we should be aware of the mistakes we make when interacting with journalists as to improve the relationships that could get us the publicity we need.

In Amanda Marsh’s post on Ragan.com she describes “seven common PR sins”.  Though there are seven in total, most of the sinful acts relate to sending reporters press releases unrelated to a reporter’s beat, emailing irregularly (or large) sized files, miscommunication via email, and a lack of respect for the reporter’s time and work.

In order to create positive (and mutually beneficial) relationships, both PR and journalism professionals owe each other respect above all else. As PR professionals it’s important to do research about reporters and what kind of content they cover prior to sending them press releases and other media material.

 

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Customer Dissatisfaction

As we welcome 2012, we should also be wary in what we decide against welcoming during this New Year. As people pack into gyms after work this evening, hold doors, and express gratitude in ways unimaginable on a quest to fulfill yearly resolutions, I will identify a few ways we can improve as professionals for the New Year throughout the week.

It is of no surprise that the words Social Media would be present in this post. It also comes without surprise that one of the most profound issues with a company’s social media presence stems from how we go about responding to complaints.

Complaints are inevitable – no public relations firm is immune to the public’s voice of dissatisfaction every now and then. However, the manner by which PR professionals (or any professional) handle complaints, especially those delivered via social media, can make or break a company’s reputation and future.

Poor Example 1: Asking your customer to remove negative comments (Cursing at them as well)

In Dominique Ellis’ December 27, 2011 post on Social Media Today, she described a scenario where a pair of customers were disappointed a restaurant they wanted to dine at was closed by 10 p.m. To express their sadness, they tweeted the restaurant their sentiments. This situation happens all the time, however, things became a little unordinary when the conversation expanded to a series of tweets between the social media person from the restaurant and the upset customer and ended in the person tweeting on the restaurant’s behalf cussing at the customer and demanding they remove a negative comment they posted to Yelp.com. Throughout the article Ellis describes the back-and-forth dialogue and sums up how to communicate with disappointed customers without seeming petty or rude.

 

Poor Example 2: Becoming a Twitter Sensation – only for all the wrong reasons.

Though direct emails may seem personal, no one should ever trust that email content will stay “private” – no matter how simple or meaningless a message may seem. Ocean Marketing’s Paul Christoforo is probably familiar with this. The string of emails between Christoforo, and a customer inquiring about the order status of an Avenger PlayStation3 game controller, reveal how one should never neglect the power (and rapid spread of information) of the consumer + the internet. After a series of emails riddled with insults between the customer and himself without a clear answer as to the customer’s original question, Christoforo lost support of company’s he once worked with as well as potential customers because information concerning his dealings with one customer began to circulate on Twitter.

 The Lesson: As we do in other areas of our lives, we learn from the criticism we receive from others. Though no one likes to hear or read negative feedback, this feedback can be essential in avoiding stagnation and may be fuel for greater improvements. If you are working in any way that your work may appear in a public forum or be seen, shared, or read by others you are assuming the responsibility of keeping your cool about the fact that everyone will never love everything that you create. Use feedback to improve. Do not lay blame upon the customers or insult customers, especially if you are talking down to them about something completely unrelated to the original problem.

Additionally, if you are hiring an intern or assistant to interact on social media sites on your behalf, make sure they are representing you in a positive light. Though interns will often work without monetary compensation, this does not mean they are always in support of the company’s well-being. Any less-than-positive feedback concerning company actions is not a reflection of one’s personal worth; rather, negative feedback often reflects an area that needs a little extra attention within the company.

 

 

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Killing Time? Get a Head Start

Running at work is fun.

Running at work is freeing.

Running at work is exciting.

Running at work is gross.

…But only in the best way possible.

While we await the New Year, and coworkers’ return from holiday vacations, life around the office may seem a little dull but to those of us still working it’s the perfect time to vary routines and brainstorm ideas.

I came to work in sweats and ran a very rewarding 3 mile jog on my break. Though returning to the office and frantically waving around spare papers in a failed attempt to create a fanning object might not be everyone’s idea of inspiration, modifying your environment or changing one small detail about your day is usually good enough to unleash a few dormant ideas that simply needed a little push.

Consider it a head start. Whether you’re wheezing on the side of the road and bobbing furiously to a few surprises on your iPod or rearranging your desk and sorting emails, a few days astray from the normal routine can lead to that single thought that could manifest into something profound. Maybe you’ll never lose another email because you will organize them so well nothing could slip through the cracks. (That’s just as important.)

Take this time to decompress, rearrange, and experiment.

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Holiday-Inspired Tips

FIRE PR Group hopes you enjoyed and/or are enjoying the holidays. Though Christmas might be over, we can all learn a few lessons from our favorite bearded fella.

Joe Vasquez, the writer of yesterday’s PR Daily post, outlines a few of Santa Claus’ well-known habits, especially his ability to make a list and check it twice. It may seem a little bizarre at first, but Mr. Claus’ cheery disposition, willingness to share, signature chuckle turned slogan, and dedication to preparation and delivery are key characteristics of a successful PR professional.

Above all else, Santa’s suiting up on one of the biggest holidays of the year – a key indicator that work may never end (despite the presence of holidays), but one can turn their professional obligations into something rewarding and enjoyable by acknowledging how much their contributions help build the big picture.

 

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Online Trends: 2012

YouTube introduced New Analytics, Facebook has a Timeline, and companies can make detailed profiles on Linkedin. 2011 has been a good year – Though I’m sure I’m not the only one who was a little uncomfortably nostalgic (and occasionally repulsed) by Facebook’s thorough display of my adolescent life in 2006.

A recent post on Social Media for Your Business, outlines the newest updates about some of our favorites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)  as well as the newcomer (Google+) pertaining to forming and maintaining B2B and B2C relationships.

Here is a quick breakdown of the changes:

Facebook: Timeline features organize your Facebook activity over the years and display it in a scrapbook fashion. Users can also do more than “like” pages they’re interested in via Facebook Gestures.

Twitter: users can now embed tweets, create Twitter pages specifically for companies. @replies are organized into their own category called “Connect”, “Discover” features trending topics and stories based on your personal connections, preferences, etc. and the “Me” section features the user’s personal profile in a larger, cleaner, and easily navigable format.

LinkedIn: users can now share content, add video to their profiles, and send group messages.

(Because Google+ is relatively new, and constantly developing, I am including this article to provide background information.)

How do you think these updates will affect the PR industry?

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“Like” Tops Annoying Word Poll

Like, whatever.

According to today’s PR Daily post by Michael Sebastian, the most annoying word of the year is “Whatever”. Not to worry, “Like” trails closely behind.

For the last two years these words have topped the lists for words that, above all else, evoke feelings of frustration and discontent at even a mindless mutter.

Why?

They are filler words. I should probably give credit to “actually” and “literally” as well. Though these words have meanings beyond (or in place of) bridging the gap between two poorly formed fragments, many of us rely on the “likes” and “whatevers” of the world to avoid the “ums” and “uhhs” we are supposed to hate—and never use.

Of course there are other reasons why many of us rely on these words so much but I automatically recall a scenario when I was standing in front of a room of people, nervous, and attempting to drag out one sentence’s worth of information across two minutes with a “like” or two.

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