Entrusting Your Team with Facebook

July 12, 2011

by Heather Keroes

Several years ago I worked for a company that decided to block social media access.  As public relations professionals, my department had to convince the company to, at the very least, grant our team access, as social media was growing in great importance to our field.  Access was granted and eventually extended to the entire company.  Today, all top 100 companies to work for allow employees to access social media sites … which is why I was so surprised to hear in this video report by Ragan that 57 percent of companies still don’t allow employees to access Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

The great fear prevailing among companies that block social media access is that their employees will waste valuable company time on these sites – checking statuses, posting pictures, tweeting what they ate for lunch and the like.  However, the video brings up a good point – you should trust your employees to spend their time wisely.  How strong can your business be, if you don’t trust your team?  You also risk making your company less appealing to Gen Y talent, who have grown up with Facebook and lead “plugged in” lifestyles.  Although I doubt that blocking social media would prevent all companies from finding new employees, it definitely won’t help retain them … especially when a company is lacking one of its greatest assets – trust, pure and simple.

Why Didn’t I Think of That?

July 11, 2011

by Kim Taylor

Allow me to trail off the general theme of “Taking Aim” for a moment to discuss my passion for business, and more specifically, great business ideas.

Great business ideas like eBay or 1-800-Got-Junk take simple ideas – concepts that we can easily understand – and turn them into highly profitable ventures.

The latest “idea” to cross my path is a new neighborhood business called iStudioSalons, which initially sounded like a cross between an iPhone, recording studio and hair salon.  Turns out, it’s a genius concept created by entrepreneurs, Mark Abbett and James Schregardus, which allows independent stylists to own and operate their own salon.

iStudioSalon’s spaces are laid out with 20 or so individual (or double) fully equipped “studios” which allow the stylist to basically run their studio as their own business … setting their own hours, making their own rules, etc.  A concept that is a true blend of full ownership and typical chair rental … offering the benefits of the former without the headaches of the latter.

What they did isn’t mind-blowingly brilliant, but they did something that Seth Godin recently talked about in his blog post, Unbetterable.

“Find things that others have accepted as the status quo and make them significantly, noticeably and remarkably better.”

How do you break through the ruts in your business and find ways to make an impact, or is everything around you simply “unbetterable”?

Powerful Social Commentary

July 8, 2011

by Roger Pynn

If you’re old enough to remember the three martini lunch, this post on Mark Shaefer’s {grow} blog will either scare the living daylights out of you or make you pick up the phone and invite a client out for a drink.  If you’re younger, hopefully it will provide some food for thought.

Shaefer fears the days of conducting business based on these deep relationships is over, but I disagree.  To the contrary, as our economy continues to recover buying decisions will be made based on trust … the belief the person you are buying from will follow through on their promise.  That can only come from getting to know each other.

Hence, successful public relations programs will focus more and more on direct communication rather than relying on media (traditional or social) alone.  Face-to-face and event-based opportunities to share a message will become more powerful than ever before as you compete to earn trust.

That doesn’t mean the return of the three martini lunch, nor does it suggest that tactics once used by over-zealous salesmen who showered clients with expensive perks and questionable favors will once again be common.  Rather, it means savvy executives will be provided with opportunities developed by strategic public relations people who have designed plans that allow for building personal relationships (PR).

Kudos to the Associated Press

July 8, 2011

by Roger Pynn

Having opined here on Taking Aim frequently about the slippery slope of social media, it was gratifying to see the Associated Press send a strong message to its journalists about refraining from expressing personal opinions.

Poynter’s Jim Romenesko writes that AP’s Deputy Managing Editor for Standards and Production Tom Kent sent out a memo July 6 regarding tweets about Casey Anthony and New York’s gay marriage law saying “AP staffers should not make postings there (on Twitter) that amount to personal opinions on contentious public issues.”

Kent’s memo says that AP’s reputation as an unbiased source of news is at stake.  Amen.  And, let’s hope media outlets everywhere agree.

The Dream Verdict

July 6, 2011

by Dan Ward

Though many supposedly objective journalists are joining the throngs of Cable Network pundits in denouncing the Casey Anthony verdict, my guess is that there is much rejoicing in media business offices.

If Anthony had been found guilty of murder and sentenced to prison, there would have been follow-up news coverage to be sure, but at some point the world would move on and media would have to fight over the next major non-news story that drives web click revenue.

But now, media will be able to continue their non-stop coverage … Casey comes home, Casey meets with her family, Casey applies for work, Casey goes to a restaurant, Casey signs a book deal.  Every move that Casey makes for the foreseeable future will be cause for “Breaking News” coverage, keeping her name and image front and center on online news sites.

Many of us had hoped that the verdict would be the beginning of the end for wall-to-wall Casey coverage, but to paraphrase Winston Churchill, I’m afraid we’ve only reached the end of the beginning.

Another New Low

July 6, 2011

by Roger Pynn

I’m one of those who can’t wait for the Anthony Circus to pack up and leave town, but can’t let the train pull out without noting that Sunday’s coverage of the Casey Anthony trial added another step below the waterline in American media history when television stations broadcast live the defendant’s taped telephone conversations from jail laced with more “f” words than ever before heard on the air.

Somehow the protection normally provided the public by the regulations of the Federal Communications Commission went out the window with this trial and THAT WORD streamed into living rooms across Central Florida no doubt filled with young children, elderly folks and others for whom language like this is inappropriate and offensive.

I admit to having a colorful vocabulary, but try to use restraint and common sense about when and where and before whom I use an expletive.  WESH was on in our living room when Casey’s “f”-laced rant began, but my mother probably heard that word more times than she has in her 96 years on earth.  I don’t know if other stations carried it or bleeped it – although I was told that FOX News apologized after the third iteration.

Regardless, the point is simple:  decorum has gone out the window.

CBS was assessed a huge fine when we had to see Janet Jackson’s naked nipple during the infamous “costume malfunction” during her halftime act with Justin Timberlake at Super Bowl XXXVIII.  Although overturned by an appellate court, the incident sparked a furious debate.  Yet, we’ve heard no such uproar over this.

Will the FCC react to this?  Will language inappropriate for broadcasting now be deemed acceptable anytime a trial is covered live or on tape?  Should producers and editors have known this was coming and prepared to use a delay?  Is this freedom of the press?  Or have we reached the bottom?

What’s the AVE of Negative PR?

July 5, 2011

by Julie Primrose

In a recent column and blog post, Carl Bialik of The Wall Street Journal raised a point that comes up many times in the public relations industry.  Bialik discusses the dangers of relying on advertising value equivalencies, or AVEs, to measure the outcome of publicity efforts.

Bialik’s article leads to several questions for those who continue to use AVEs as a form of measurement, including “How do you measure negative publicity using AVEs?”  If an article is worth three times an advertisement of the same size, how do you calculate the value of a negative story?  Do you subtract its value from the total of all positive coverage?  And what happens if the sum of all coverage dips to a negative number?

As many have previously written, a story receives its value simply because it cannot be purchased.  It may be difficult to quantify, but the fact that coverage in the news can’t be bought speaks to its value much more than an arbitrary figure based on the cost of an advertisement.

In his article, Bialik pokes another hole in the sinking argument for AVEs.  The public relations industry may not have given up on AVEs entirely, but there is a growing consensus that these figures don’t communicate the true impact of publicity, whether a story is negative or positive.

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