MasterCard ties one on, Facebook is mobile in Canada and the New Klout

This post was originally published on the Inside PR blog. I’m posting it here so that readers of this blog will see it. If you like it, please consider subscribing to the Inside PR podcast.

Gini Dietrich and I do a two-hander in this episode as Martin is on a train with only spotty online access.

This week we talk about MasterCard’s aggressive PR tactics around the Brit Awards, more evidence that we’re all going mobile and the New Klout.

MasterCard ties one on

Gini pointed to MasterCard’s efforts to tie  coverage of MasterCard to access to the Brit Awards. Dominic Ponsford detailed exactly what happened, from the PR company’s suggestion that access would be tied to agreement to mention MasterCard through the reactions to the Twitter backlash.

Ponsford published the text of an email to a reporter in which MasterCard’s PR company asked reporters to agree to tweet MasterCard messages in their feeds. The PR company went so far as to suggest content for tweets before, during and after the event:

Pre event – e.g. Really excited to be heading down to @BRITAwards tonight with @MasterCardUK #PricelessSurprises

Event night – live tweeting from the event including @MasterCardUK handle and #PricelessSurprises and to retweet @MasterCardUK tweets throughout the night where appropriate

Post event – tweet directing followers to @MasterCardUK BRITs YouTube videos

Needless to say, this prompted a backlash, with Twitter comments like this:

Good press coverage is hard to bribe. For everything else there’s Mastercard. #PricelessSurprises

— Felicity Morse (@FelicityMorse) February 19, 2014

The managing director of the PR agency didn’t back down, arguing that:

“The role of the PR agency is to pursue all coverage opportunities on behalf of its clients. This includes providing accurate brand references from the outset, for use across all platforms. It is a two-way conversation between the journalist and the PR in order to reach a mutually beneficial outcome. Editorial control always remains with the journalist.”

Gini and I discuss our views about this type of tactic. Gini sees this as an illustration of the fine line between legitimately promoting an event and the questionable offering of a benefit for coverage.

I see it as a clear example of tied coverage. “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. You give me reference to my client and I will give you access to the awards.”  Yes we have seen this before. Think of auto journalists flown to exotic locations to review new cars. But in recent years, the trend has been against these kinds of junkets, with many news organizations telling their staff to refuse the benefits. “You can’t blame a guy for trying. But you can blame the other guy for playing along.”

What do you think of MasterCard’s media relations approach? Too cheeky? Or taking fair advantage of the an opportunity. Or somewhere in between.

Canadians go mobile with Facebook

The world truly is going mobile. New stats out of Facebook Canada indicate that Facebook Canada is making more money on mobile devices than on PCs and stationary devices. Of Facebook’s nineteen million Canadian users, ten million check their Facebook account once a day via mobile versus only four million who check it daily from non-mobile devices like desktops.

To me, this just underscores the importance of think mobile first. If you are thinking about communicating with people primarily in front of PCs or laptops, you’re failing to follow the audience where they’ve actually gone. They are looking at the mobile devices in their hand.

Gini cautions against following an overall trend without looking at your specific circumstance. In her experience, many sectors are lagging behind in the move to mobile, with many of her clients’ sites continuing to receive the majority of their traffic from desktop applications. It’s important that you know where your traffic is coming from. So check your analytics.

A New (Improved?) Klout

And finally, we discuss the new Klout. Gini finds it useful, because it surfaces content from people with whom she already engages. Gini also finds the measurement tab to be useful in that it’s suggests which individual pieces of content have generated the greatest engagement. For my part, I find the metrics to be even more dumbed down than they used to be and of the dubious value. It appears to me that Klout is positioning itself as a tool to assist content creators in competition with established players like HootSuite or Buffer.

What do you think? Is the new Klout a step forward or moved to irrelevance?

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We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Inside PR is part of the FIR Podcast Network.

Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the FIR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

Thank you to the people behind Inside PR

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

Inside PR is produced by Kristine D’Arbelles and Ashlea LeCompte.

 

SXSW Interactive's Special Sauce: Community

With the opening of the SXSW Panel Picker to new presentation proposals, preparations are actively underway for the 2014 edition of SXSW Interactive.

SXSW is the little conference that grew and grew to be a giant festival of all that is geeky good. Why has it grown far beyond other conferences of its sort?

DSC00018One explanation may be found in the sense of community that has propelled SXSW Interactive from its earliest days. In my view, SXSWi is a conference of, by, and for the attendees.

Hugh Forrest, the Director of SXSW Interactive, can be seen as the embodiment of this ethos. In fact, he actively eschews his actual title of Director, saying that he prefers to think of himself as SXSWi’s Community Manager.  In a recent interview for the Inside PR podcast, Forrest told Martin Waxman, “Community Manager is what most of my work is, managing this community, or trying to understand this community, trying to communicate with this community, trying to absorb all they great ideas they have. That community manager concept applies to so much I do.”

And Forrest gives full credit for the success of SXSWi to the community of participants. ”I have been completely amazed at how much Interactive has grown in the past ten years and, particularly, in the past five years. When we first started this thing, it was a struggle to get people in the door. It was a struggle to figure out what we were doing and what our market was and I could never imagine that it would grow as much as it has grown. … I would love to say that it  was my vision that propelled that growth. But, it’s really this community that’s pulled us forward as opposed to us trying to push them in one direction. The better we’ve become at listening to this community, engaging with this community, understanding what this community wants, polling the best ideas of the community, the more the event has grown. The more we have been able to let them pull us forward,  the better this event has become.”

Forrest has a well thought-through approach to the SXSWi community, to which he attaches the PEACE acronym:

P: “Patience over profits.” Things take a  while. Be prepared for it.

E: “Early buzz is good buzz.” The panel picker and community voting on presentations in July and August build anticipation of the event nine months ahead of the actual March festival dates.

A: “Acknowledge your mistakes and failures.” If you are doing something innovative, you will make mistakes. When you acknowledge mistakes, the community can be very forgiving.

C: “Customer service leads to customer advocates.” Word of mouth endorsements are still the best kind of publicity there is. The line between love and hate is a thin one. Acknowledge, respond to and help the critics. They may change their minds and become supporters.

E: “Encourage massive creativity.”  Forrester does not see SXSWi as a technology event. “We are an event about creativity.” And he tries to be open to the ideas of the community that push the programming forward.

Listen to Hugh Forrest explain his perspective on the success of SXSWi using the player below. And stick around for the second half of the podcast to hear Martin Waxman, Gini Dietrich’s and my take on Forrest’s approach and building community.

You can't judge a presentation by its title

June was a month of wall to wall conferences. And those conferences brought Gini DietrichMartin Waxman and me together in two cities – Austin and Ottawa – and pulled us to opposite ends of the continent.

Tod Maffin speaks at PABSo, you spend all that money and time to attend a conference. And now you’re sitting in a presentation and you’re deciding whether you made the right decision. What makes it worthwhile?

Gini applies the Chile Con Queso Test. She loves chile con quesos. And she judges a restaurant by their quality. If they’re great, she’ll keep going back for more. Gini’s Chile Con Queso Test for conference presentations? Does the presenter provide her with at least one idea for a blog post? “If I can go into your session and come away with a blog post idea, I’m going to think you’re the best speaker on earth,” says Gini. On the other hand, “If I can’t get at least one idea to create content around, I’m not going to think you’re a great speaker.”

If you’re a speaker, how can you deliver the goods for your audience? I saw Lee LeFever talk about this at the recent Fireworks Factory organized by Darren Barefoot and Julie Szabo. Lee, who is best known for the explainer videos he has produced through his company, Common Craft, says that you must start from a position of empathy for the audience. Focus on what we care about, not what you want to present. Frame your topic in terms to which we relate. Suggest a commonly experienced problem to which we all relate. You’ll know you’ve done this is you see our heads nodding. Once you’ve established the shared space, focus on “why.” Why does this matter? Why will you approach it in this way. And then, and only then, move on to the “how.” How do I do this. Think about the presentations you’ve seen recently. How many of them failed because the presenter plunged directly into the “how” section, providing minute detail of what they did, while you were still stuck at, “Why do I care about this?”

Martin calls this the importance of appealing to the audience’s emotional senses. He points out that this often can be achieved through story telling, in which a motive is established and listeners are drawn into identifying with the subjects and storyline. Gini agrees with the power of this approach, pointing to a 52N (five minutes to engage, a variant on Ignite) presentation delivered by Abbie Fink at the recent PRSA Counselors Academy Conference in Austin. Abbie’s presentation consisted of reading a letter to her recently deceased family dog. At the end, she left many in the room in tears and everyone considering the nature of relationships. A story that appealed to our emotions. That appealed to the pet lover in all of us. That didn’t explain the why, but relied throughout on it. (Pity the poor presenter who followed Abbie – Martin Waxman!)

I attended a presentation recently by a speaker who gave me not just one good takeaway, but nine. Nine takeaways in an hour long presentation. And that speaker was … Gini Dietrich! Perhaps because Gini listened for takeaways in other speakers, she deliberately packages takeaways in her presentations. “When I write presentations, I write them long form. But as I do it, I write sound bites that I know people can tweet. You have to think about the key takeaways. Is someone going to get enough to pass the Chile Con Queso Test? And are they going to be able to tweet about it?” If you achieve these three objectives, people will come away with something to think about over the long term as well as content that will prompt immediate tweets and conversation.

Finally, there’s one huge no-no for conference presenters. What makes the audience groan and flee the room in droves? Martin calls it the “You can’t judge a presentation by its cover” problem.” You  decide to attend a presentation on the basis of the description in the program only to hear the speaker lead off with the statement, “I’m going to talk about something different from the advertised topic…” Sadly, that’s not uncommon at conferences. Not just the small regional conferences, but even larger conferences. The kindest interpretation I can put on this it that because of the long lead time between the time that the conference topics were set and the actual presentation, the speaker decided that the topic was outdated and decided to offer more up to date thinking. The unkind interpretation is that the speaker just said yes to the organizers’ invitation and then realized that he didn’t really have anything worthwhile to say about the topic. Either way, it can be a real let down if you showed up keen to learn and discuss the advertised topic.

Gini sums it up: ”We’re all busy. We all want to find value in the things that we are attending. We’re spending money to attend these things. And if we can’t get something out of it to bring back to our careers or organizations, then it’s not worth the time.”

This post was originally published on the Inside PR podcast blog.

Inside PR 334: Community at Social Capital Ottawa

Gini Dietrich, Martin Waxman and I had a rare opportunity this week. We were able to record the Inside PR podcast with all of us sitting face to face in one place in real life. We were in Ottawa to attend the Social Capital Conference. And the best thing for me was that it felt like I was getting together with two of my closest friends for a chat about our shared experiences. Even after all these years, I’m still in awe of the power of social media to enable us to create deep and meaningful relationships over distance. So, even though Martin, Gini and I are together in the same real life space at most four times a year, we have developed a much deeper relationship.

Gini delivered the conference opening keynote explaining how she has built a large and active community around her Spin Sucks blog. The starting point, says Gini, is recognizing that “The one word we all like to hear is our name.” Her approach to community is grounded in this recognition. It has driven her to focus on the people who come to the Spin Sucks blog. She acknowledges them personally, responding to virtually every comment left on the Spin Sucks blog or the Spins Sucks Facebook page. But she goes beyond this. She reaches out to the members of the Spin Sucks community and participates in the discussion in their home spaces. Community is a two way interaction, not just one way.

Another factor to consider in building communities – it takes time. And this is at odds with the short-term, campaign-based approach taken by many marketers. As Gini points out, she has been blogging for seven years, and it took more than one try to find the right combination of factors that led to the current success of Spin Sucks. This same point was made by Sherrilynne Starkie, who presented a real world case study of an international union building community. In Sherrilynne’s words, its success was only possible because the union leadership were prepared to “stay the course” and persevere through early stages of thin participation until members caught on that this was a real and ongoing exercise. Momentum built slowly. The community could not have emerged in a short-term campaign.

Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson have demonstrated bot of these fundamentals in building a successful community around the For Immediate Release podcast. They have been persistent and consistent creators of content. They routinely acknowledge their listeners and feature their contributions in the podcast. And they’ve set up a Google+ community to provide listeners with an opportunity to offer their own thoughts and engage in conversation with other members of the community.

This is something we’re trying to do with the Inside PR podcast as well. If you’re a regular listener, please consider joining the Inside PR Google+ community or the Inside PR Facebook group and participating actively. We’d love to involve you in the podcast.

And if you’re still with me, you can listen to the podcast by clicking on the player below.

 

Inside PR: Where do you place your trust?

Trust MeIn this week’s episode of the Inside PR podcast, Gini Dietrich, Martin Waxman and I talk about the challenge of determining what news coverage we can trust when traditional media outlets vie with social media to be first with the news.

For me, this is like moving around in a darkened room. We know we’ve had contact with something, but we can’t really see what it is. Judgment and speculation become overly close neighbors at times like these.

How do you decide where to place your trust when news is breaking online?

The final episode of Inside PR – at least for 2012

Gini DietrichIt’s the end, at least for this year. The final episode of Inside PR for 2012 has been posted.

Martin-Waxman-20112-293x300In today’s episode, Gini Dietrich, Martin Waxman, I look back at the trends in 2012 that stood out for us. Things like the continuing evolution of social media to photos and video; the convergence of advertising, PR, digital agencies to compete directly against one another; the evolution of search to incorporate personal profiles and social interaction. And above all, for me, the stripping away of my idealism about the blogosphere that came when I read Ryan Holiday‘s “Trust Me, I’m Lying.”

Have a listen. Let us know what you think. In a comment on this blog, on the Inside PR blog, on the Inside PR Google+ Community or on the Inside PR Facebook group. Anyway that you want. We’d love to hear your views.

We’ll be back in 2013 as Inside PR begins its seventh year.

Have a safe and happy holiday season.

Inside PR: Google+ Communities, Twitter Photo filters and Facebook Democracy Fail

Inside PREpisode 3.19 of the Inside PR podcast has just been published. In this week’s episode, Gini Dietrich, Martin Waxman and I talk about a number of things that caught our eye.

First up: Google+ Communities

Google has added Communities to its Google+ Network. Think Yahoo Groups. Discussion groups organized around specific subjects.

Introducing the Inside PR Google+ Community

We’ve set up a Community for Inside PR listeners on Google+. If you like the podcast and would like to suggest future topics or discuss each week’s episode, click over to our Google+ Community and join the conversation.

Google+ Communities

Worth watching

Will the Inside PR Google+ community get as many members as the Inside PR Facebook group? Will there be better discussion on Google+? (I’m betting the conversation on Google+ will be much better, if not more voluminous.)

Twitter upgrades(?) with Filters on Photos

Is this a step forward? Or a defensive move in response to Instagram pulling its integration with Twitter? I’m not sure about the companies’ moves. I bet our listeners have more insight into this than I do.

Facebook drops its commitment to user democracy

Does anybody care? Was this ever a real thing or did Facebook’s thresholds so high that it simply fed a feeling of powerlessness from the outset?

Listen to the complete podcast

And tell us what you think

This week, I’m encouraging Inside PR listeners to join the Google+ Community and find out whether this will be an instant success, a slow build, or a complete fizzle.

Social Media and Government: We're all human

In this week’s Inside PR, Martin Waxman and I shared our takeaways from last week’s appearance of Canada’s Treasury Board President, Tony Clement at Third Tuesday Ottawa and Third Tuesday Toronto.

Social Media in Government: Treat them like we would want to be treated

I came away with a sense of respect for a politician who is making a sincere attempt to introduce social media to government in a manner consistent with his conservative principles. Martin was struck by the vulnerable position a politician like Tony Clement puts himself in by engaging in the social media flow. His takeaway: If we want to encourage our government leaders to engage with us in social media, we must be prepared to allow for the fact that they make mistakes and refrain from “piling on” every time  a politician makes a mistake on social media.

The discussion about social media in government starts at 1 minute 25 seconds into the show.

Playing with Pinterest

Gini Dietrich LOVES Pinterest (You have to listen to this week’s Inside PR to hear her enthusiasm.)

Gini has been testing the reach and impact of Pinterest. She pinned some pictures of items from a friend’s ecommerce store on her pinboard. Then, she and her friend watched her Google Analytics. Pinterest generated lots of traffic to her friend’s ecommerce site- it was the number three traffic source for the four hours after Gini pinned the pictures. That’s pretty impressive, especially given the ease with which content can be posted to Pinterest. But it goes beyond that. The conversion rate for people who arrived at the site via Pinterest was higher than the conversion rate from any other source of referrals. Pinterest drives traffic and the traffic it drives is engaged.

Martin Waxman has been experimenting with Pinterest as well. He’s found that the tags he attaches to Pins are important. Clearly, in his view, people are following tags that reflect their interests and they will look at new content that is tagged into one of those categories. (This raises a whole other question about “tag SPAM” on Pinterest.)

I’m interested in Pinterest’s impact on other existing services. I’ve moved my photo-taking from Instagram to Pinterest because I like the ease with which I can tag, organize and then browse my photos on Pinterest. I’m also drawn to move some of my social bookmarking – at least for the highly visual items – away from the two services I have been uising, Diigo and Delicious.

I find the simplicity of Pinterest makes it a tool with many possibilities – much like Twitter was at its outset. A basic concept that appeals to a common urge – to express ourselves – and because of its simplicity allows people to use it in the way that makes sense to them.

Pinterest may not work for all companies and products. It may be best for highly visual products. But if you sell items that you can showcase visually, you should explore whether Pinterest is for you.

 

Our discussion about Pinterest starts at 7 minutes 15 seconds into this week’s episode of Inside PR.

 

We are: Martin Waxman, Gini Dietrich and Joseph Thornley on Pinterest.