The best part of blogging is receiving comments. Not only does it provide instant feedback that someone has actually read what I have written, but it provides an opportunity to listen to and learn from the views of others. Through comments, we can have our views challenged, supported or augmented. Comments are indeed where the conversation really happens.
So, I want to receive as many comments as possible. And I want to approve every comment I receive.
Sadly, I haven’t been able to publish every comment that has been submitted. Some have included content that wasn’t in keeping with the kind of place I want my blog to be.
This hasn’t happened often. But it has happened. And when it did, I realized I need to have an explicit comments policy on my blog that will provide you, my community, with guidance on what I will or will not approve for publication on Pro PR.
So, here it is. My blog comments policy.
Pro PR’s Blog Comments Policy
This is my place. I try to be civil and I’d ask commenters to be governed by the spirit of civility.
I moderate comments. I want to approve all comments. So, to be sure that I approve your comment, please:
Provide your real name, social media URL and email address in the comments form. I do not accept anonymous comments. My name is on all my blog posts. You know who I am. I’d like to know who you are.
Be civil in your comments. I will not approve comments that contain insults, threats, attacks on a person’s character or use abusive or profane language.
Be on topic . I will delete SPAM and off-topic comments.
Do not include private or personal information about another person .
What do you think?
So, there it is. My blog comment policy. Does this policy seem reasonable to you?
He is one of the most widely followed commentators on the intersection of social media and public relations. Over time, he has been one of my primary sources for news and commentary about new developments in social media. In fact, the list of the TopLinks blogs that I have linked to most often when writing posts in my own blog shows that I have linked to Shel, Neville and the FIR podcast more often than any other source other than Shel Israel .
If you want to hear one of the best speakers on social media, consider making the trip to Montreal to take in Shel. I’m planning to make the trip myself. So, I hope to see you there. And if you read this blog and see me at the event, please say hi.
If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that I believe that social media is a game changer for public relations.
It forces public relations people to come out from behind the curtain. No longer can we be the "unnamed source" who talks "on background."
We now are in a world in which the traditional news cycle has been replaced by a constant flow of breaking news and immediate commentary. We must start to monitor conversations well before we ever wish to enter them in order to find where people are talking, listen to what they are talking about, identify the new influencers, and understand their point of view.
And then, when we have done this, we join the conversations where they are occurring. This helps us to build credibility and trust among those who are already engaged in the issues of importance to us.
And all of that occurs before the words "corporate blog" are ever spoken.
Social media demands transparency and authenticity. That means that we must be front and centre as individuals when we are playing the role of spokesperson for our organization. If you want an example of what I’m talking about, take a look at RichardatDell . Richard Binhammer has been one of Dell’s most high profile people in the blogosphere since mid-2006. He is part of the conversation through his personal blog , direct outreach to bloggers , Twitter and realworldpresentations . And he does this with transparency and authenticity. The corporate spokesperson becomes a real person – and our trust increases because of this.
And that’s the template for the new PR practitioner.
And I’m not alone in my view. It was encouraging to read other industry leaders underline the importance of social media during a recent roundtable discussion organized by PR Week (April 14, 2008, p.12). A couple of statements that caught my attention:
"Traditional PR is getting completely redefined. I won’t say it’s dying, but I think people need to get with what’s on the cutting edge, in terms of building communities and starting conversations – as opposed to that traditional one-way dialogue." Karen Kahn, Vice President, Global Communications, Sun Microsystems.
"The bigger evolution in our job is not learning about social media and digital. It’s about changing from a [text] storyteller to a visual storyteller. I think as PR pros we always related to the written word, and these new Web 2.0 applications relate to being more visual…" Luca Penati, Managing Director of the global tech practice, Ogilvy PR.
Things to think about when you’re planning your own career and growth path.
UPDATE: Shel Israel posted this video interview with Richard Binhammer on Global Neighbourhoods TV shortly after I posted. It’s worth looking at for an illustration of the "up front" PR person. There’s very little (if any) "corporate speak" on Richard’s side. Just a PR person speaking in plain language about what he believes about his company.
How do I measure the effects of social media on me and my organization?
At every conference I attend, most speakers present examples of the “successful” use of social media by individuals or companies. Most of these success stories are primarily anecdotal. Measurable results that can be compared to benchmarks and across other cases are much harder to come by.
This places social media at a distinct disadvantage in the C-suite, where executives are used to being presented with Web analytics, market data, conversion data and other metrics that show them that progress was made against an objective. In the absence of some types of replicable and comparable measurements and metrics, how can the case be made that there are benefits to social media that justify any risk and expense of adopting them?
This month`s Third Tuesday Toronto has a panel of measurement experts who will lead us in a discussion of how we can move beyond social media as a faith-based initiative to measure its effects and contributions to the achievement of organizational objectives.
Our panelists will be arriving at Third Tuesday straight from the Roundtable on Social Media Measurement and Metrics. So, this will extend the conversation beyond the roundtable into the broader social media community in Toronto. And we`ll be recording this session so that we can pick up quotes and snippets of the discussion for inclusion in the White Paper that we will be writing following the Roundtable.
So, if you’re interested in a good discussion with some smart people who know a lot about measurement and, like us, are looking for ways to measure the impact of social media, sign up to attend Third Tuesday Toronto.
As always, this event will be free to anyone who wants to participate. Thanks to CNW Group who have sponsored us throughout the year and wherever Third Tuesdays are held. You keep the community in social media.
We’ve assembled a great group of participants who represent measurement experts, developers of social media metrics applications, corporate communicators and marketers and social media thought leaders. (I’ll publish a list of the participants in a separate post.)
It is our intention to produce a White Paper that advances the discussion begun in these previous roundtables and White Papers.
For my part, I’m hoping that we be able to develop suggested guidelines for a social media measurement dashboard. As a minimum, we could suggest what components should be part of the ideal social media measurement dashboard and how should each should be weighted. Of course, this will vary by specific objectives and context. So, I think a good start would be to produce two model dashboards for two common scenarios:
a dashboard that could be applied to social influence marketing and
a dashboard to measure community building and engagement.
What do you think? If we produce this, would it be a useful next step? Are there other things we should be aiming for?
Freshbooks lives in the open wilds of social media. The officers and employees blog and use twitter. Customers respond in kind. So far, all has been good. But what happens when a disgruntled customer attacks?
Michael McDerment argues that by being transparent and proactively communicating with people, a company like Freshbooks builds up a reservoir of good will that causes most people to hold their fire when the company trips up.
Saul Colt tries to handle the situations in which people are angry. His approach: “First rule, you can never win one of these arguments. So treat people with the utmost class and respect. Never get into a shouting match. Kill these people with kindness. If they have a problem, try to work it out in the most level headed way. Never ignore people. I try to answer any blog post we can find, even if it’s a ‘hey we love you’ post. … We really believe that customer service is the new marketing.”
Saul provides an example of how Freshbooks dealt with an actual disgruntled customer. Watch the video to get the complete story.
Final note. This is the last of the series of posts with videos of Freshbooks’ appearance at Third Tuesday Toronto . I hope that you found them interesting and informative.
Other clips with Freshbooks’ Michael McDerment and Saul Colt :
Not only does CEO Michael McDerment blog, but at least five other employees also blog. And there will likely be more.
So the obvious question: What will you do if one of your employees messes up and gives out a company secret or does something to hurt the company? Do you try to curb your employees’ blogging?
Michael McDermont: “It comes back to hiring. You’ve got to find people with shared values. And at the end of the day you have to trust people. … That’s the best you can do.”
It strikes me that this is a problem for large organizations which, by their nature, lose the ability to ensure fit between employees and company culture. But having acknowledged that, for organizations that still are of a size where this is practical, McDerment focuses on exactly the right place – management’s hiring decisions and attitudes.
Other clips with Freshbooks’ Michael McDerment and Saul Colt :
The road is littered with disappointed clients and fired communications agencies. One of the primary reasons for this is a failure to establish clear and realistic expectations at the outset.
It’s hard for a company to look a proffered contract in the face and say, “Hold on. Let’s be sure that your expectations are reasonable before we start.” But it’s absolutely essential. And the companies that have the courage to insist on this step will only help themselves in the long run.
Picking up on this Saul Colt suggests, “We had different expectations than some of the PR companies we have worked with. We have the greatest story in the world. So we can’t understand why we can’t get coverage in some really desirable places. … PR companies should sit down and say, ‘hey, you’re about to sign a contract and we just want to let you know that you’re not going to be [in all the places you want.’”
Good advice from clients who have seen the wrong side of disappointed expectations.
Other clips with Freshbooks’ Michael McDerment and Saul Colt :
This month’s topic is The Shiny New Object Syndrome. We’ve assembled a panel of Colin McKay , Ryan Anderson and Brendan Hodgson to lead a discussion of which social media tools are most useful and which are just code looking for a reason to be.
Of course, the best part of Third Tuesday is the discussion. And that includes you. So, be ready to share your thoughts on which tools are most useful and which just don’t make sense to you. It should be a great conversation and an even better one if you participate. So, plan to join us Monday. You’ll meet some interesting people.
As always, special thanks to our sponsors, CNW Group . CNW has supported us through this entire season – and their contribution has enabled us to keep Third Tuesdays as free events for the social media community.
Competitive pitches for new business. They’re the bane of any agency or firm that must participate. And they’re also an unavoidable fact of life.
Public relations practitioners get up every day looking forward to doing great work for their clients. But in order to get the opportunity to do this, we first must win the confidence of those clients.
This is best done by developing a reputation for doing outstanding work and the network of people for whom we have done this who will then call us directly or provide us with referrals. In this situation, the battle is nearly won by the time that you hear the words, "I have this challenge that I’d like your advice on…"
However, not all relationships originate in this way.
Competitions: Costly and Capricious
Many potential clients, especially large corporations and governments, feel they need to conduct formal competitions for their business.
The way these competitions are run is highly idiosyncratic. Short list. Long list. With creative presentations. Without creative presentations. Proposal only. Proposal plus presentation. Budget revealed in advance? Maybe. Maybe not. A blind competition in which you do not know the identities of the competitors? More often than should be the case.
And costly. Boy, does it cost a lot to win a competition. A determined firm will pull in a team to research the client, the client’s industry and the client’s competitors. Brainstorm(s) will be held to develop ideas. A formal proposal will be prepared. Artwork and mock ups will be created for visual, physical and Web elements of the program. Cost quotes will be obtained and a budget prepared. All of this will be pulled together into a bid package. Then a PowerPoint will be prepared to support the team presentation, which will itself be rehearsed. Finally the team will get a chance to present their ideas to the client.
All in all, thousands and probably tens of thousands of dollars worth of time and direct expenses are invested in a competitive bid. So, it’s only natural that communications firms pine for a simple bid process that is fair and transparent.
Agency Link says it can be better
Now, a new firm, Agency Link , wants to get into the middle of the selection process with a promise to help clients find the PR partners who best meet their needs.
Agency Link offers a range of services, including audits and evaluations of existing client-supplier relationships, assessments of RFPs, assistance with search and selection of PR firms, and contract negotiations. Agency Link will work for the clients, not the PR firms. And they have published a Code of Conduct to reassure both clients and PR firms that they will conduct themselves in a fair and transparent fashion.
This is a new concept in Canada. And most PR firm heads I know are quietly supportive of Agency Link, hoping that it will deliver on the promised of a more effective selection process for those clients who use its services.
Agency Link is the brainchild of two co-founders, Stan Didzbalis and Sheila Corriveau . Both Stan and Sheila have extensive experience as PR firm principals and on the client side. Stan was the founder of BenchMark Communications, which he grew to over 50 consultants before he sold it to Omnicom. Before establishing his agency, he worked in communications at two bluechip corporations, IBM and Inco. Sheila is a former CEO of Porter Novelli in Canada. Her corporate experience includes leadership roles in several communications functions at The Dynacare Health Group.
Interview with Stan Didzbalis
I caught up with Stan Didzbalis this week in Toronto. He took a few minutes to talk to me about what Agency Link is up to.
Stan told me that there are two sides to Agency Link’s business. "One is to help clients find the right agency fit – whether it be a public relations agency, a digital marketing agency, an investor relations firm. … The second part of our business is a consulting practice. We consult with clients to help them optimize their agency relationships and get the best that they can out of their agencies."
The benefits to agencies? According to Stan, "We hope to take some of the inconsistencies out of the search process. We hope to eliminate cattle calls. We really want our clients to minimize the agency churn. The best way we can do that it to educate the clients on how best to utilize an agency resource."
Here. Here. I’ve gotta wish Stan and Sheila total success in achieving these objectives.
You can watch the video of my interview with Stan Didzbalis here.
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ProPR is authored by Joseph Thornley, CEO of Thornley Fallis and 76design. Thornley Fallis helps companies and organizations build relationships with customers, clients and stakeholders by integrating social media with public relations, creative design and word of mouth communications.