Musings about digital communications, PR, social media & life…

Archive for January, 2012

And the award goes to… Social Media

Hollywood awards season. This is one of two (or maybe three) guilty pleasures I allow myself in life without excuse. The film, the fanfare, the fashion… I can’t get enough. From the nomination announcements to the events themselves, I love it. And the fact that its kickoff overlaps the height of my other guilty pleasure (NFL football playoffs), Well… it just doesn’t get any better.

Social Awards And the Winner Is... Social Media April Lynne Scott BlogOver the past few years the industry has been diving deeper and deeper into social media to combine it with their live spectacles. This year the partnership between social media and the awards season has not disappointed. In fact, it may have changed the way we see the future of televised programming.

Entertainment blogs sent writers and tweeters to the events. Paparazzi and event-goers posted photos to websites and social networks like Pinterest. Television networks incorporated tweet-meters and “What’s hot” indicators. Live blogging has been everywhere from the nomination announcements to the red carpet arrivals and the events themselves. The fans have enthusiastically participated live with real-time comebacks to awards hosts’ witty remarks and live commentary about fashion hits and misses and celebrity faux pas. An adrenaline-filled, multi-channel, live-fetish, interactive media overload – and I can’t get enough.

Social media makes the awards ceremonies more fun to watch; but I would be watching anyway. This year more than ever, social media is encouraging non-awardaholics to tune in and even take part. Must-tweet = Must-see. Television is turning into a living, breathing channel not just for viewing but for engaging and interacting thanks, in part, to live programming like awards ceremonies and sporting events. Just wait and see what happens at the Superbowl during the multi-million dollar commercial breaks.

Just last night I noticed major networks adding on-screen, hashtagged keywords during programming. This is a good sign toward integration. But, only time will tell if this seemingly perfect relationship between social media and television will last.  As rating successes continue for live events like the Golden Globes and the Superbowl, the industry will need to consider social media an important part of their programming decisions by creating and scheduling content that fans will not only watch, but tweet about and interact with.

This could signal a huge change in the way we’ve thought about the future of television. The networks and key players in the industry hold the future of this opportunity in their hands. Whatever the case, with the Superbowl and the Oscars right around the corner I’m in my happy place.

***The phrase “Must-tweet TV” coined by founder and CEO of Mashable, Pete Cashmore in his article The new goal: Must-tweet TV
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Now Showing: Social Media | Coming Soon: Entertainment of the Future

In old Hollywood, movie premieres boasted a once in a lifetime opportunity to rub elbows with the stars in Now Showing Social Mediabeautiful theaters adorned with murals, columns and sparkling chandeliers. They were big events. Following the premieres fans rushed to theaters everywhere to watch these films on the big screen in lavish theater environments. As technology progressed, so did the theater experience – surround sound, 3-D, computer generated graphics. With DVD distribution and further technological advances fans can now enjoy experiences outside of the theater that are more enticing than movie-going. This has created an interesting situation for studios and entertainment brands.

Enter stage right: Social Media: 
This is where things get a little messy. SOPA and PIPA have been big news lately. The industry is fighting for their content, their longevity, their revenue streams. Other industries have been in this fight for a while already, and the way they have survived (if they have) is something that sounds a lot like “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”

In the words of Brian Solis, this is “the end of business as usual” – and that goes for everyone… including the entertainment industry. The world discovers, researches, purchases, consumes, shares, and opinionates differently today – and they do it online. The world of online sharing does not equal the death of revenue or brand building. But, to continue to compete the industry must find a way to participate, form partnerships, roll up their sleeves and entertain us… online.

Lost in translation are the details of how to incorporate social media into the progression of the industry to ensure success rather than failure. This success is dependent on the industry embracing digital media, engaging fans, and making social media a must-see experience like the classic movies in old Hollywood.

Newsflash: Your fans are online –
Meet the fans where they are. Engage them online – be on Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter – any and all applicable channels – have a blog, and be creative with online digital communications and collateral. Use traditional marketing data to know the fans and give them a unique, interesting experience.

Social media allows your fans to experience your brand on multiple levels and to develop a different kind of relationship with your brand. Your unique story is what they should experience through social media. You are unique – tell them why. Social media gives the industry the opportunity to engage fans and show them what they’ve been missing: behind the scenes, sneak peeks and interactive experiences that can make social the big event.

Just because social media is global doesn’t mean ignoring local and niche markets. Your company, your film, your subject matter – no matter how big or small – have audiences that offer a unique perspective and an enthusiastic loyalty – use it to connect with fans.

Like it or not, your brand is on social media – It doesn’t matter if you’ve set up a Facebook profile, have anyone managing your social brand or have implemented online strategies. Fans and media are talking about you online. If you were present in that conversation you would discover a new world of challenges, opportunities, conversations, loyalty… and revenue.

Amazing potential exists for the entertainment industry in the online world. The opportunity is there for an award-winning performance. Will you be nominated? Is your brand even on the ballot?

Social Media + Celebrity: Taming the Wild, Wild West

2011 was a year of epic celebrity engagement on social networks. Lady Gaga became the undisputed queen of Twitter and fans around the world follow her tweets; waiting with bated breath the see if the twitter queen will reply to or retweet their digital adorations.

Taming the Wild West on April Lynne Scott's WordPress blogSocial media cannot be denied as a viable and effective channel for celebrity branding. Enter WhoSay, a new social platform already boasting more than 900 celebrity members. WhoSay aggregates content from a celeb’s social media accounts on his or her WhoSay Profile. The content on the site is copyrighted by the celebrity making it a useful way to disseminate statements, photographs and other breaking news. The Associated Press has recently formed a partnership with WhoSay so celebs can license content directly to the media through the new platform.

Social applications like WhoSay are popping up everywhere giving celebrities even more reason to engage through these new media channels… and they are. Hollywood’s A-List stars (Justin Timberlake, Bono & Lady Gaga to name a few) are devoting time & money to social business while celebs like Michael J. Fox are devoting their use of social media to drive awareness to causes like Parkinson’s research and other charitable organizations. Like any other business in today’s world celebrities know that they have to embrace new media to survive.

Even with these positive advances in the social world for celebs, 2011 was also been a year of epic celebrity failure on social media. Celebrities can’t stop themselves from spewing an inappropriate social stream of consciousness resulting in bad PR and a big mess for their publicists and managers. Celebs are using social media the same way the rest of us do, but their reach is far greater… and the damage far more costly.

From the novice celebrity tweeter to the Twitter-maestro himself Ashton Kutcher, celebrities are guilty of sending the wrong message. These social faux pas have proven costly both in terms of their finances and their reputations.

Social Media is PR in an instant. Celebrities like Ashton Kutcher have realized their brand can be damaged by a single tweet and have taken themselves of the social game. As much as fans and media crave these intimate, candid moments, social tools have to be used properly and with the same care and discretion given the other areas of their careers to be beneficial. What we must understand is that a celebrity’s brand can be damaged just as much by inappropriate management of their social brand as it can by handing over the management of that social brand to a handler.

Celebrity social media Paparazzi April Lynne Scott WordPress blogThe goal of social interaction is to connect with media, fans and friends and create stronger relationships, increase fan engagement and keep the star relevant  n the media. These social relationships will not be effective if they are not delivered (at least partly) in the celeb’s own voice. The celebrity’s personal interaction must be carefully balanced with those of the handlers & managers monitoring their social channels. So, how can celebrities and PR professionals walk this fine line?

I have to wonder why celebrity social media has been left unsettled and ungoverned – dangerous & deadly – much like the wild west. Celebrity managers and publicists would never consider leaving any other part of a client’s business unplanned or without strategy. Social media is no different.

Social media is a real, viable, critically important channel for the world of entertainment and it’s time we start treating it as such. Fans & media already understand that managers & publicists play a large role in every aspect of the celeb’s brand… why not this one? We must be well-versed in the tools of new media. We must be completely aware of the risks involved and prepared to handle the consequences in real-time. News is made and reputations are damaged in a social instant. It’s high noon and there will be a shootout. Are you armed with a plan?

Much Ado About Nothing: PRSA’s #PRDefined Contenders Fall Flat

Embarrassed on April Lynne Scott's blog

Photo Credit: Matt King

Wednesday, PRSA unveiled three candidate definitions for their #PRDefined campaign, one of which will form the basis of a new, modern definition of public relations. PR professionals and the general public are invited to weigh in on the options to help PRSA in choosing – or creating – this new, modern definition of public relations. The “comments period” lasts through January 23 – you can through your thoughts in here. Without further ado – the contenders (plus added commentary):

Definition No. 1:

“Public relations is the management function of researching, engaging, communicating, and collaborating with stakeholders in an ethical manner to build mutually beneficial relationships and achieve results.”

I have a strong negative reaction to the word “stakeholder.” This word is not representative of all PR professionals in what should be a current definition of PR – not a limited description that defines few situations in the field. As well, it is unnecessary to include a laundry list of functions in this redefinition of our profession. And, if we need to state “in an ethical manner” in our definition we have a larger problem with our profession than the need to redefine it.

Definition No. 2:

“Public relations is a strategic communication process that develops and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their key publics.”

Definition No. 3:

“Public relations is the engagement between organizations and individuals to achieve mutual understanding and realize strategic goals.”

I’m disappointed. It seems a committee selected words from the past century of PR definitions and crammed them into 3 new definitions. This is not at all how I imagined this process. This is much ado about nothing. These are not modern or new in any way, but simply a regurgitation of former definitions.

 

Let’s take a closer look:

In the early 1900′s Edward Bernays (some say the founder of public relations) originally defined PR as:

“A management function which evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an individual or an organisation with the public interest, and plans and executes a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance.”

Doesn’t this sound a lot like Definition No. 1? Should we want a laundry list that is in neither concise or all-inclusive PRSA can apologize for the hubbub and return to the original definition from the early 1900’s.

After several other revised definitions, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) again re-defined PR In 1982 as:

“Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.”

Doesn’t this definition also sound too similar to our “new, modern” definition contenders?

In the beginning, I struggled to get on board with redefining my profession, forced myself to take part in the process and am (to be blunt) embarrassed by the outcome.

I was under the impression the goal was to create a concise description defining our profession in a modern way that is easily understood by the general public. Why did PRSA not throw out the old, tired words we’ve used for more than a century and begin fresh? We need a new, modern, concise definition defining the uniqueness of the profession while allowing for the intricacies of technological advances and the wide-ranging environments serviced by PR professionals.  I hoped this effort would unite those in the profession and educate those outside of it. To the contrary, we have again put ourselves in an awkward position best described by Doc Searls (@dsearls):

“PR has the biggest PR problem of all: people use it as a synonym for BS.”

This was an opportunity to change the negative opinion of our profession. This was a opporunity to start the process of regaining respect. We have failed miserably. We owe it to ourselves to be a bit more innovative with our “new, modern” definition. Back to the drawing board, PRSA.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: 7 Ways PR can Take care, TCB (and Regain Respect)

7 ways PR can regain respect

There’s been a lot of talk lately about public relations. The death of PR, the redefining of PR, and the stress of the profession. PR is getting a lot of negative press. It’s time to stop debating the past and take action to regain respect.

“PR has the biggest PR problem of all: people use it as a synonym for BS.”

Says Doc Searls (@dsearls),

“It seems only fair to defend the profession, but there is no point to it. Common usage is impossible to correct. And frankly, there is a much smaller market for telling the truth than for shading it. Maybe it is time to do with PR what we do with technology: make something new — something that works as an agent for understanding rather than illusion. Something that satisfies both the emperors and their subjects. God knows we’ve got the material. Our most important facts don’t need packaging, embellishment or artificial elevation. They only need to be made plain. This may not win prizes, but it will win respect.”

7 Ways PR can regain respect

1) United We Stand; Divided We Fall
Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman, says,

“Our goal will be to elevate public relations as a management discipline that sits as a full partner alongside finance, operations, legal, marketing and strategic leaders in the C-suite. We need to offer coherent strategy. We must work together or we will fall short.”

Integration between all communications, marketing and business channels is key to the success of a brand. Working side by side, strategies should touch on elements of each channel to form a united front. Small start-up or a publicly held corporation, mom & pop business or international celebrity; the road to success is paved with integration. Just do it!

2) Too Little, Too Late
fashionably late doesn’t exist in PR! Time is of the essence. Long lead? Forget it. This is a digital world where information moves at the speed of light. This means having the right people in the right place at the right time with the right knowledge and authority to respond. Without it you will be late to the party and doing yourself and your client a disservice. Timing is no longer negotiable. TCB.

3) More Than Words
Content goes far beyond press releases, speeches, and pitches. Today content is audio, video, podcasts, webcasts, email, eBooks, blogs, and social media posts (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg). Think about your story in a digital way. Multidimensional content marketing is the way to transform your words into content capable of reaching a larger audience. But, don’t expect them to come to you – communicate to them where they are in a language they understand by diversifying your content.

4) A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words
It’s time to update traditional writing skills with digital mindsets. Words are more important than ever. SEO and SEM are as important as the story you’re telling. All content (pitches, releases, video, photos – everything) should be optimized for search engines. SEO shouldn’t take away from the facts, story, or pitch, but it will help get your story in front of the right people.

Make the story visible; make it easy to find. Learn about keywords and SEO. Use this knowledge to enhance your writing and to bring your images to life.

5) Get Real
Richard Edelman calls this “Practicing Radical Transparency.” Being authentic starts with strategy, extends to clients, and doesn’t stop until it reaches employees, shareholders, media and anyone else listening.

In a speech delivered the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) Edelman said,

“We are the last line of defense for the truth, because our material is increasingly used as primary source data. We also must be scrupulous about policing our own behavior and even what we pass along in social media.”

Transparency builds trust.  Trust builds relationships.  Relationships build respect. Be real, be truthful, be scrupulous – no exceptions.

6) Free Your Mind
Expand imagination. Expand creativity. Expand your strategy. PR is guilty of living in the past; of being chained to traditional rules.

In “The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book – Change or Perish” Avinash Kaushik (@avinash) says,

“How good can it possibly feel to do unimaginative things that barely even worked on TV/radio/magazines/catalogs? Whether you are the Marketer/CMO or the Web Analyst/Ninja, it is imperative that we unleash imagination. Why doesn’t everyone do that already? I know that this sounds utterly simple but we, people and companies, don’t always realize that the “rules” have changed.”

The rules have changed. PR has spent the past 100 years arguing with itself about what the rules and definitions are anyway. Public relations professionals are doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Why not free your mind and venture into a world of truly creative and innovative PR?

7) Deadly Sins
Gone are the days when journalists waited by fax machines and office phones for leads on the latest news. They are searching the internet, connecting on social networks, using smartphone apps and getting the latest headlines in realtime. All of this actually makes it a great time to be in PR. According to Amanda Marsh (@AmandaNMarsh) there are “Seven Common PR Sins to Avoid.” Her post is a must read and stresses respect.

Marsh writes,

“Respect my inbox, and make both of our jobs easier.”

To regain respect, respect others. Brush up on your R-E-S-P-E-C-T and see if some of it doesn’t come back your way.

PR: Top Stressful Career? Maybe You’re Doing it Wrong-

Stressful jobs - April Lynne Scott blog

Yesterday CareerCast created quite a stir with the release of their annual list of the most stressful careers (see the full list below). On the list were enlisted military and military generals, firefighters, airline pilots, police officers, CEOs, public relations executives…

Wait. What? PR execs? This, coming at a time when PR’s own professional organization has led it into an identity crisis by setting out to (again) redefine the profession? Ugh. I simply can’t take it anymore.

A little history:

In the early 1900’s Edward Bernays (some say the founder of public relations) originally defined PR as:

“A management function which evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an individual or an organisation with the public interest, and plans and executes a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance.”
He spoke of publicists as:

“An applied social scientist who advises a client on the social attitudes and actions he or she must take in order to appeal to the public on which it is dependent. The practitioner ascertains, through research, the adjustment or maladjustment of the client with the public, then advises what changes in attitude and action are demanded to reach the highest point of adjustment to meet social goals.”

In 1978 the first World Assembly of Public Relations Association re-defined PR as:

“PR is the art and social science of analyzing trends, predicting their consequences, counseling organizational leaders, and implementing planned programs of action, which will serve both the organization and the public interest.”

Finally, in 1982 the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) again re-defined PR as:

“Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.”

PRSA’s definition is certainly more concise than Bernays’ version or the World Assembly’s definition, but essentially all saying the same thing – right? And now we await (anxiously, I’m sure) the release of yet another definition from the PRSA’s Public Relations Defined initiative (#PRDefined).

As an aside: Bernays also said

“PR is not publicity, press agentry, promotion, advertising, or a bag of tricks, but a continuing process of social integration.”

Hold on. Did he say “social integration?”

Maybe you’re just doing it wrong:

Clearly, PR professionals have brought this stress on themselves. Sure there are people who don’t understand exactly what it is a PR executive does each day. Not to mention low budgets and high expectations, crisis communications and being on call 24/7, juggling clients and media (both of which can be rude), the perception that PR as a profession is dead and the digital unknown looming around us. Yes, it is true. There is a lot of uncertainty in the world of public relations these days.

Social media and digital communications have changed not only this profession, but nearly every profession known to man. This should not be a stressor, but an opportunity to acquire new skills and new perspectives. In many ways new media has made PR more relevant than ever and should strengthen communications and relationships leading to less stress in the field. We need to move forward into the future by “continuing the process of social integration” (Bernays could not have known how appropriate that statement would turn out to be).

As PR professionals we arm ourselves with cellphones and laptops and media lists, not machine guns or fire hoses… and I have never held someone’s spleen in my hands or sent someone’s son or daughter to war. So to list the profession of public relations (identity crisis or not) in the same group as any of these is just too much.

CareerCast 2012 List of the Most Stressful Careers:
1. Enlisted Military Soldier
2. Firefighter
3. Airline Pilot
4. Military General
5. Police Officer
6. Event Coordinator
7. Public Relations Executive
8. Corporate Executive (CEO)
9. Photojournalist
10. Taxi Driver

2012 + 3 Words = Success

AprilLynne Scott wordpress blog - 2012 + 3 Words = SucccessI love lists. There – I said it. Grocery lists, packing lists, to do lists; I am a bit O.C.D. about organizing my plans. So then, it should be no surprise that I am a New Year’s resolution maker. I don’t do it because it’s the “in” thing to do or because I can’t set goals any other time of year. The end of the year just seems like a finite end to a period of time that I can look back on and determine what I can and should do better – and a new year to look forward to growing, learning and setting new goals for… and making a list.

Several years ago I learned of Chris Brogan’s “3 Words” technique.  Chris challenges people to skip resolutions, and instead, come up with 3 words that will help define their goals and experiences for the coming year. I have never participated in his challenge because “3 Words” isn’t much of a list – and, again, I love lists.  But this year I felt like I needed focus rather than a laundry list of “things to do”-type resolutions… and this seems like just the way to find that focus.

So without further ado, here are my 3 Words for 2012:
Create ~ Passion ~ Cognizance

Create:
This first word is where I can dump all of my typical New Year’s to-do’s and add a “creative” twist. There are always things I’m resolving to do during an upcoming year, but thinking of them as creative processes and a way to create something more meaningful as a result of the task is refreshing for me. For example, one thing on my to-do list is “write”. But it isn’t really that simple. As a result of writing I am creating something – more than just a blog post, document, or story.  I’m also creating time for myself to be creative and to express my opinions or feelings – and, hopefully, creating a relationship with the reader, among other things. A few things outside my to-do list I hope to create are compassion, peace, happiness, joy, and inspiration in my life and in the lives of those around me.  How I accomplish those is a part of my journey this year… and leads me to the second thing on my list.

Passion:
In my life I have consistently put aside passion for the sake of work.  Fortunately for me, work is one of my passions. Some might even call me a workaholic. But outside of my job, I have passion.  This year I will focus on those passions specifically to make sure I do not toss them aside for the sake of business or busyness. In fact, the main reason I have chosen “passion” as one of my 3 words for the year is because this year I will devote time and energy to finding ways to incorporate my passions into my work – or even make them my work. This is a goal that may not come to fruition during this year.  It is a process – but I can’t think of a better time to get started.

Cognizance:
Defined as “conscious knowledge or recognition” or “the range of what one can know or understand”, cognizance seems the perfect 3rd word.  I am guilty of putting my nose to the ground, blinders on, plowing ahead to the end of a task. In 2011 this method was not effective for me or fulfilling either in my professional or personal life.  In 2011 I became acutely aware that I was not at all aware.  Late in the year I came across a quote from William Arthur Ward (American scholar, author, editor, pastor and teacher). Paraphrased it says: “Before you speak, listen. Before you act, think. Before you criticize, wait. Before you pray, forgive. Before you quit, try.”

Basically, be aware of yourself… your words, your actions, your thoughts, your motivations.  This is my main focus moving into the new year. I want to have a conscious knowledge of myself and my work, an understanding of why I do the things I do, an appreciation for those around me who support and encourage me, a recognition of others who are working hard on their own 3 words, attention to detail and the little (beautiful) things in life, sensibility to move ahead with courage and integrity into every new moment, and a mindfulness that success is not equal to perfection.

These are my 3 words.  What are yours?

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