TagPR

Online PR is all about community

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Spot on. PR firms and brands, please watch this this. Then watch it again, and internalize it. With no further comment:

Online PR is all about Community from RealWire on Vimeo.

(via)

Update: A great way to get involved in the community is by the way – in all bluntness – to sponsor a community event. Like the one we’re putting together for late September, atoms&bits Festival. Feel free to drop me a line or read more about it here.

Once and for all: A beta test isn’t enough to create buzz

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It’s old news, it really is. But since I get confronted with invitations to beta tests everyday (in my role as a blogger, as a freelance consultant and as project lead for German blog magazine blogpiloten.de), I can promise you that a lot of PR agencies still think a beta test is enough to get bloggers to write about your product, and thus to create buzz. It isn’t. Period.

Beta tests are important. If you’re a bootstrapping web startup, you need to release early and release often. In order to to that, you need constant feedback from your users. Potential users (and testers) are most easily identified by their blogs, so inviting bloggers to your beta test makes a lot of sense.

That said, inviting bloggers to test your stuff just to get their attention and save money on marketing is a really, really bad idea. If you don’t allow for the feedback they’re willing to give, you’re being unfair, both to these bloggers and to your product. Whatever it is you’re developing, it’s not perfect. It cannot be perfect. So you’ll need that feedback, simple as that. Open feedback channels very early in the production phase. Post-launch is too late. Pretending to bloggers (who you should be trying to make your fans) that they have any influence that they don’t really have will almost certainly backfire, and badly so.

So, where does that leave us?

  1. Identify users who might be seriously interested in what you’re doing, for whatever reason.
  2. Invite them very early on in your production phase, so you can implement their feedback into your product.
  3. Give them feedback, respect, and credit. Lots of all of this. And then some.
  4. Make sure to hook them up with a free version of your product once it’s all set and done. They just put a lot of effort into your product, so you can make money off of it. It’s only fair not to charge them.

Next-generation marketing: It’s the groups, stupid!

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David Cushman of Faster Future has this neat presentation about how PR works completely differently in networked environments, like on the web or mobile devices. It’s all about group behavior:

David Cushman: Adapting brands to the networked world.

(via End Of Control)

How to pitch media, bloggers, the web at large?

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For PR folks, pitching to the web is a problem. Talking to a PR firm recently, we ended up chatting about the challenges traditional PR firms face online. You have experienced professionals who know the ropes, the tricks of the trade, and their journalists. But facing a diffuse mass of bloggers is a different story altogether. What can you do about it?

Enter the Social Media Release, a concept that has developed over the last few months, maybe a year or two. The short-short version is this: Provide bloggers (and other online media) with as much material in as many formats as possible. These folks want to pick the materials they use, comment it, mash it up, and stir it thoroughly.

Lego Blogger Picture by Flickr user minifig Are blogs like toys, fun but not professionally relevant? Not any more. (Image: Lego Blogger Picture by Flickr user minifig, released under Creative Commons.)

(For further reading I recommend: Brian Solis (read his stuff thoroughly, starting maybe with what he says about blogger relations, his definitive guide to social media releases and social media releases, everything you ever wanted to know as well as the evolution of the press release.) Also, PR-Squared has a well-maintained list of successful use-cases of social media releases in the wild. (Update: and they have a template, too.) Just to pick one of those examples, Ford knows how to work the web: Note how everything is embeddable and the tons and tons of topic-related RSS feeds?)

Of course, this means you lose control over how your message is used, adapted, changed. The old rules of traditional media don’t apply here. They just don’t, so don’t even try. This is a hard lesson to learn for both PR firms and big brands, i.e. their clients. It requires a whole new approach to interacting with your stakeholders out there, and to some degree a new company culture.

It’s also tough to identify which bloggers to pitch, which services to use, and mainly: how to react to negative reactions on the web. For every campaign, you’ll have to find a decent strategy that works. A few basics like what’s listed in the articles above sure helps (think RSS feeds, embeddable pictures and videos, information in as many formats as possible). Also, forget embargoes, but that should be clear anyway.

If you’re a PR firm: How do YOU address bloggers (or do you at all)? If you’re a blogger, what are your experiences with being pitched?