Tips

Seeing is Believing

Seeing is Believing [Note: This post was originally published March 3, 2014.]

I had the pleasure of presenting last night at the Stanford Shopping Center annual Merchant Meeting.  Stanford is one of the premier shopping centers in the country with virtually every luxury brand you can think of under one open air "roof."  They bring their merchants together to discuss the focus of their marketing for the year, among other things. We have had the pleasure of representing Stanford, along with dozens of other Simon Property Group malls throughout the west coast, for more than a decade.

I wanted to give the PR teams of their merchants an actionable take-away — something they could begin doing this morning to grow and better interact with their social communities.  I spoke about the ability to optimize visual social media — to understand its power and then tactically, how to create visual content that increases engagement and reach.  As a take-away we shared this infographic.  Take a look.  Hopefully it helps you too.  If you have thoughts or comments feel free to call us or hit us up on Twitter @curatopr.

VisualSocial_infographic

Download your own copy here: Visual Social

 

Event 101

As two PR and social media pros, it’s basically our business to attend events on a reoccurring basis. Not to mention we do our fair share of playing host on behalf of our clients. Appetizer and cocktail tastings are the fun part of event planning, but they aren't the only things that lead to a successful event. To make your next event better than the last, we have pulled from own experiences creating social events from cocktail hour to the after-party. Who doesn’t want their event to be the one you'll never forget? Provide Information. From the first invitation to the execution at the event, it’s important to provide your guests with the information they want and need. Especially for events with a social component, making sure there is signage with the appropriate handles and hashtags you’d like used saves everyone the trouble of asking, using the wrong one, or worse, not engaging at all.

During the holiday season we helped coordinate two Holiday Preview Events for Macy’s in both Seattle and Portland. A local blogger hosted each event, but we provided guests a list of the attendees, complete with everyone’s blog name and social handles, so they could easily find one another.

 

In February we helped coordinate a Valentine’s Day Twitter Tasting for Whole Foods Market  -- each guest had their own menu that outlined the courses that would be covered as well as clear signage with the event hashtag.

 

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Choose The Right Hashtag. Choosing your hashtag is almost as important as choosing your venue these days. The hashtag is the vessel for your event on social media, giving you full access to the post-soiree feedback  from attendees. Not every hashtag needs to be branded, but it does need to be relevant to your event or subject. If your event is part of a series, think of a unified hashtag you can build upon for each event. The most important tip for your hashtag? Keep it simple and easy so your attendees don't misinterpret, which can often cause a misspelled hashtag.

Tangible Takeaway. Everyone loves a swag bag, but even if you can’t provide a take-home gift, it’s good to have a little something that your guests can leave with, and reminds them of the event or brand after the fact – and that’s always the goal, right?

Seattle Bloggers Unite recently hosted its Spring Social Meetup and had a nametag station so every guest could make their own adorable nametag. They also had an incredible gift bag for everyone, filled with products from a number of local businesses.

 

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Reward Social Activity. Asking your guests to share on social media is the perfect opportunity to build relationships. Why not reward their action with surprise acts of kindness? During your event, surprise guests with tweets gifting them extra drink tickets or gift cards for your service! The unexpected gesture will be appreciated and possibly lead to a few more social shares.

Remember, You're the Host/Hostess. Just like if you were having people over to your home, remember, it’s your responsibility to make people feel welcome and guide them through the event. Whether that's making introductions between guests, leading a demo, moderating a panel, or directing people through an activity, you should make sure there is a kind of flow to the event to keep people from feeling uncomfortable or bored.

At the Seattle Refined Launch Party, KOMO TV's Steve Pool played emcee for the night, giving some structure to what was a very social event.

 

Have a great event tip or want to chat with us about our favorite events? Tweet at us @C_Allodi and @Brookeandersen

Buffer And Feedly: A Social Media Tag Team That Will Help You Dominate

Edge and Christian  

Last week I wrote about a content scheduling strategy I use by combining Buffer and Feedly. But that's not all these two apps can do. They're both packed with helpful tricks and shortcuts that can make your process of curating content easy and efficient. When you combine them together, they become a tag-team threat that can help you save time and generate more interaction on your social channels. Here are some of their best moves.

Queue up Buffer straight from Feedly

This is the most straightforward combo feature, and it's a great excuse to switch to Feedly from whatever RSS reader you currently use.

sharetobuffer

Count characters with Feedly and quote to Buffer to double your content

One of the smartest things I've read in the last year came from Buffer's blog. Belle Beth Cooper wrote that you should post content more than once to your social channels in order to test different headlines, different time zones and different content sharing types. Doing this has effectively tripled my output and my incoming engagement.

Feedly makes it super easy to do with its character counter. Let's say you've already Buffered a blog post you like by posting the headline and a link. Go and highlight a quote you like from the post (Twitter loves quotes), and watch what Feedly does:

feedlycharactercount

Now you can see what will fit on Twitter, and what will fit within the optimal number of characters for your other social networks. Plus, you'll have just doubled how many posts came from the content you just found. That gives you more chances to be seen and retweeted/shared.

'Buffer this image' to triple your content

Here's where shit just gets crazy. If you've got the Buffer extension for Google Chrome, you secretly have a feature on your right-click menu called "Buffer this image." Find an image you like in that same found-content in Feedly as before, and you've suddenly tripled your sharing output:

bufferthisimage

Best of all, you've created three completely unique posts—all from the same piece of content.

(Side note: You're probably noticing that "Pin It" button in the top-left of the image. Yeah, you can pin images straight from Feedly, too.)

BONUS: Stack the deck with IFTTT

One of the things that made wrasslin' tag teams like Edge and Christian so successful was having an ace in the hole—a partner who could sneak into the ring and give them an extra hand when needed. For E&C that was usually Rhyno or Kurt Angle. For you, that partner is If This Then That (IFTTT).

With IFTTT, you can build "recipes" that automate actions across social networks and apps. For instance, I can tell IFTTT to save every link I tweet to Delicious so I have it saved for later. That saves me the step of having to Buffer something and then save it to my Delicious account. Or I can tell it to post a headline and link to Buffer every time I bookmark something in Feedly—now I don't even have to use the Buffer sharing button.

IFTTT can be an insanely useful tool, especially when trio-ed with Buffer and Feedly. Play around with it a bit, check out some of the recipes other users have created, and see what you can implement that works for you.

Put everything together

Again, dovetailing off my scheduling post from last week, here's an example of a morning workflow that could help save a ton of time throughout the day:

  • Check Feedly for shareable content.
  • When you find something good, bookmark it, and make sure you have an IFTTT recipe set up to Buffer your Feedly bookmarks.
  • When you find something really good, Buffer the link with the headline, a quote and an image. Optimize those three types of posts for each of your social networks.
  • You're done!

5 Chrome Extensions That Will Change the Way You Internet

Remember when you got your first smart phone, how excited you were to start downloading apps? You probably can’t imagine going back to an old calculator style phone. Sure, flip phones and Blackberries still work for your basic “phone” functions, but apps opened up a whole new world of productivity and entertainment. Like smart phones did for cell phones, new browsers have brought innovation to the browsing experience by integrating apps and extensions that take them far beyond their basic function. The funny thing, however, is that most of us have been using internet browsers longer than cell phones, yet some people still treat their browsers like Netscape Navigator.

If you want to get more out of your browser - and out of your day - check out this list of must-have Chrome extensions. If you’re still an IE, Safari or vanilla Chrome user, get ready to have you mind blown.

Evernote Web Clipper:

I’m admittedly an Evernote fanatic. I use it to organize everything from work projects to home renovations, and to remember everything from business contacts to where I parked. At its core it’s a cloud-based notebook, but add to that its range of integrated tools and it becomes a must have; to wit, Evernote Web Clipper. This handy tool lets you pull great content you find on the web into your Evernote in a range of formats. You can tag and organize right from the Clipper, and the text stays searchable, so it’s always easy to find what you saved even if you only remember one or two words from the page.

goo.gl URL shortener

This simple URL shortener is perfect for crunching those long links into just a few characters. Just click from any webpage to turn a lengthy link into a mini URL or even a QR code. It’s perfect for social media or when you need to share an obnoxiously long URL (e.g., google directions, which can easily exceed 400 characters).

Printfriendly:

Print Friendly

If you’ve ever tried to print a webpage for a meeting, you know that the printed version usually ends up about eight pages long with about 80% of each page wasted on ads or unrelated content. Most people end up just resorting to a screen capture, but that poses a problem if the content you want doesn’t all fit on one screen. For a more elegant solution, try Printfriendly, an ingenious extension that pulls webpage content into an editable web tool. Each element is separated into removable blocks, allowing you to keep just the content you want in the size you want. The final product is a clean, readable PDF that can be saved, emailed or printed right from the web tool. Plus, unlike a screen capture, the text is preserved so it remains selectable and searchable.

Evernote Clearly:

Reading online articles it sometimes a little like trying to listen to someone tell a story in a crowed bar. All the “related” stories, links, photos, share buttons, banners, embedded Twitter feeds, - it’s all just noise that interferes with the overall enjoyment of reading. If the afore mentioned Web Clipper wasn’t enough to make you drop what you’re doing and go download Evernote, maybe this will convince you. Evernote Clearly strips out all the unrelated distractions, leaving you with clean, quiet content. With a few clicks you can change the theme and font size, print it with room for notes, or save it to your Evernote for future reading.

Hola Unblocker:

Hola Better Internet

Okay, enough about productivity, let’s talk about entertainment! There are a lot of practical applications for this extensions, but the one I use it for is Netflix. Hola is a VPN proxy service that essentially lets you trick a website into thinking you are in a different country. This is extremely helpful, because not all “Netflixes” (or Hulus, etc.) are created equal. Due to regional copyright rules, your selection of shows and movies will vary based on what country you are logged in from. For example, the second half of  Breaking Bad season five didn’t hit the US version of Netflix until Feb 24, while those in the UK got to watch the new episodes each Sunday after they aired. Like the show Community? Canada has every season. Surprisingly unavailable in Canada is Space Teens, but they have a lot of other great content. Hola is simple to use, just click the country you want to log in from and enjoy the rest of the internet.

So, there are my top Chrome extensions. If I missed an essential tool that you love, let me know at @robinsonpost.

They Say it’s Your Birthday

Curator PR

It’s my birthday next week, and birthdays are one of those times that you get to be the person that everyone is thinking of. At whatever scale, friends, family, and co-workers are thinking of ways they can make the birthday person’s day better, happier, easier, and more fun—in other words, people are most compassionate on a birthday. This is how I think PR folks should think about pitching media.

It’s no secret that reporters are frustrated. If you’ve ever joined me in the search for “how to reach out to journalists with a media pitch,” you know the result is a long list of all capped, “DON’T’s, NEVER’s, and PLEASE’s.” Reporters speak out about specific annoyances, and they feel like the neglected birthday kid. You know, the one that’s never had a surprise birthday party thrown for them. Reporters want to be respected and valued for their expertise and talent, not just looked at as a tool to publicize our clients. We’ve all got deadlines and pressure, so it’s easy for PR folks to focus on themselves, their own story, and agenda. Too often PR professionals are trying to throw their own party.

Here’s how to make a reporter feel like it’s their birthday:

Act like the reporter is your best friend

Just like you wouldn’t serve a traditional birthday cake to your Gluten-free friend, consider how you may insult a reporter by sending an irrelevant pitch. You can show reporters compassion by knowing their expertise, learning their interests, and understanding their style. We’ve got tons of tools to access people just by knowing their first and last name. Aside from reading recent articles or their blog, check out their Twitter and LinkedIn profiles. People often tweet about personal interests and LinkedIn is a great way to learn about past work.

Give them what they want

We all know not to gift the friend living in Manhattan a pair of hiking boots, even though she is visiting Seattle soon and you plan to convince her that Mount Si is the best place on earth. You want that, she doesn’t. When crafting a pitch, think about what the reporter wants, which is ultimately to get promoted or great reviews from their boss. Great reporters are known as a source for breaking news or a new perspective on old news, so pitching a unique angle or offering an exclusive interview is what reporters want. PR folks can also help by providing great content. A lot of news outlets are understaffed, and so if you share photos or video, it opens up a chance for reporters to cover the story when they otherwise may not have had time.

Walk a mile in their shoes

You can’t effectively throw a surprise birthday party at 3:00 p.m. on a Friday, if the person of honor gets off work at 5:00 p.m. A reporter’s day is bombarded by hundreds of emails, most of which they can’t read, because from 9-5, they’re gathering information for another story. The busiest point in the day is the hour or two leading up to their deadline, which is usually 5:00 p.m. Make a strong and brief point, and only do it one time to make the most of a reporter’s time. Most reporters check their email at the start of their day, so it’s helpful to send them then. Time constraints make using the phone an annoying interruption, so only use it when a reporter has already committed to your story and needs information from you.

Reporters see the above points as obvious insights, which make actions that contradict them seem even more offensive. When compassion is applied, it can mean the world, and can also mean coverage for your client. 

Oh The Places You’ll Go…

Every spring I look forward to commencement ceremony season. When I graduated, I only listened to my own speaker that year, which I remember none of. But now I anticipate the speeches to hit the web. Who says grads get all the inspiration and permission to dream? I’m no wise grandmother willow tree, but with three years into the career world, if I were giving a graduation speech, this is the advice I have to offer so far.

Fall in Love with the Journey

As I was wrapping up college, I thought I needed to have everything buttoned up. Planning the rest of my life turned out to be horribly overwhelming. Naturally, I freaked out. Then, someone told me that even 10 or 20 years from that moment, I’d still be asking myself “Who will I be?” He said, “You’ll never get to a point when you’ll know everything that’s coming next or that you’ve figured it all out.” I replied, “Actually, I thought I would,” as if all the thinking happened upfront, and then I could just do it, as simple as a Nike ad.

Real life is a twisting, turning, beautiful mess, and can sometimes feel like you consciously walked straight into the woods and then threw your iPhone into a lake. If you can learn to fall in love with the journey, maybe that lake is the perfect temperature to take a swim. Career building is about moving up the ladder, but just as importantly, it’s about building bridges to other ladders, and exploring how you fit into the world, and that takes flexibility and risk. It’s okay to be a little lost. Look for the lesson in everything and keep asking yourself “Who will I be?” Answer honestly, and you’ll end up in the right place.

Your Job is to Learn

This one is threefold:

1. Read. Everything. Read about your own industry and your clients’ business, but read about the things that interest you, even if it’s fiction.

2. Ask Questions. At the beginning of your career everyone is expecting you to ask questions. Ironically, it feels most scary to ask questions when you’re new to an industry, putting unrealistic expectations on yourself to know it all. The faster you ask, the less you get stuck thinking, “I should know this.”

3. Collaborate. Forget how you’ve done work for the majority of your education. Yes, I said forget. I used to think if I couldn’t finish my work on my own, it meant that I was incompetent or weak. It actually meant I was just wasting time, because I wasn’t using the resources that my (and your future) co-workers are. Most jobs, especially Communications/PR/Advertising require tons of collaboration. Ask earlier rather than later. Get feedback on your work before you think it’s complete.

Find Creative Ways to Contribute

As I mentioned above, you don’t have to know everything, but be proactive about bringing something extra to your team, whether it’s sharing baked goods or sending a helpful article…or a not so helpful BuzzFeed link that reminds everyone how much they love dogs. It’s okay to bring your personality and interests to work, because your co-workers are people, and people like other people.

Be a Yes Wo/Man

Adopt the mindset to always be open to new projects or to just help out for a couple of hours. It’s always an opportunity to learn and can go a long way. First, you never know what a superior sees in you that you may not. They could be setting you up for your next position or even a promotion. Second, when someone asks you to help, it means they trust you with their project. It’s a chance to prove that you’re flexible and well-versed in several pieces of the business. Lastly, you never know when you may need to ask a favor or advice, a year from now or ten. The chances of someone sharing their time with you are a lot higher if you’ve already reciprocated the act.

Everyone has to Earn Their Stripes

No matter which industry you’re in, the first couple of years aren’t that glamorous. It’s a fact. But, if you can hang, understand that no job is below you, and know that discipline is worth something, you will earn your stripes and get to do the stuff your professors used as case studies.

Find a Mentor

Sometimes graduating can feel really lonely, like it’s you against the world. Simultaneously, the predictability of college is suddenly gone. Luckily, millions of people have done the same thing. The best thing you can do is learn from them.

Understand what you want your life to look like and what kind of person you want to be. Then, find a person that reflects it, in their professional and personal life. It might even be two or three different people. Once you’ve found them, make a point to create a real relationship where you can talk regularly. Learn about their successes and failures, for they’ve likely had multiples of each. Share your own struggles and ask questions. Let your mentor bear some of your burdens too. You’ll discover solutions together a lot faster than on your own. And the best part, you’re learning how to make choices and get perspective from a person you admire, helping you become the person you want to be in the long run.

Seek Advice Aggressively

You can learn a lot about a person based on the advice they give. Most people give advice based on the things they value most. If you ask for advice often, you’ll start to see similar themes pop up, which is a great way to learn how to succeed in any workplace.

As an exercise for this post, I’ve gathered several bits of advice from the Curators. You’ll find some to be similar to each other, and others already stated above.

“Live in the moment as much as possible every day.” –Annie

“No task is beneath you, be willing to dig in and do whatever it takes!” –Megan

“My personal motto is ‘let the beauty of what you love be what you do.’ No job or degree is best put to work unless it’s complimented with passion. Find what you love and work that into your education, the result should be a challenge that never stops you from learning.” –Brooke

“Be proactive, be positive and use the word ‘No’ sparingly!” - Chelsey

“Follow your passion, the money will come.” –Scott

“Be an individual-- your uniqueness is an asset, a way to make you stand out in the crowd. Embrace your individuality and use it to fuel your success.” –Noelle

“No matter what your role or title is at your first job/internship, be ready to roll up your sleeves and tackle every project that comes your way.” –Matthew

“I think Conan O’Brien said it best, ‘If you work really hard, and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.’” –Ann Marie

“Have a point of view. Always. Regurgitating facts or making pretty charts isn’t enough… to be successful, you need to be able to analyze that data, tell what it means and then what we should do about or with it. People hire agencies for their expertise, so be an expert.” -Dan

“Don't put anything off or get tricked into thinking you'll have time later. You won't. If something seems like it's too expensive, too time consuming or whatever, it's not. Figure out how to make it happen, and do what you want to do. Credit cards can be paid off and stress can be mitigated. You can never go back and do things how you wish you would have done them the first time.” -Paul

Public Relations and Sandwiches…What More Could You Ask For?

Sandwich

Earlier this week, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed hoping I’d come across a link to the latest public relations news that would spark a stroke of genius in me to write an awe-inspiring blog post. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much luck on the genius front, but what I did notice was my Twitter feed was filled with tweet after tweet of foodie news and comments. This could be because I have a severe obsession with food – I have been known to be one of the biggest eaters in the office. My colleagues even had to buy me a traffic cone to stop me from always going to the kitchen; true story.

But, what does food have to do with PR? Well, it turns out a lot in my case. The real reason my Twitter feed screamed lunch time is because I work for a client in the food industry. Which means I need to live and breathe everything food. It’s a tough gig.

What I’m trying to get at here is emphasizing the importance of not just understanding PR, but deeply understanding your client’s industry. When you sign up to become a PR professional, you’re agreeing to learn a lot more than just that field alone. A few reasons why in my mind it’s so crucial to know the ins and outs of your client’s industry:

Speak the Language. You can’t fake authenticity. As PR professionals, we’re constantly creating messaging on behalf of our clients. Whether it’s in the form of a tweet, Facebook post, press release or a pitch email, we’re speaking as the experts to an audience filled with our client’s competitors, peers and customers. To reach these audiences successfully, we need to be able to talk the talk.

Be Experts. Our clients expect us to be the PR experts. That’s why they hire us. But, what makes our work stand above any other agency out there? It comes down to being a true partner and providing the best possible council. This is accomplished by caring just as much about your client’s brand and industry as they do. This is key to gaining their trust to handle crucial projects.

Know the Key Players. Knowing your client’s industry also means you know all of the big names in that circle. Whether it’s industry influencers, trade media or bloggers, you need to know who these people are and what they’re saying. Their conversations not only indicate current and future trends, but knowing this information will help you better communicate with them and ultimately garner relationships and coverage for your client.

Understand what’s Relevant. How can you ever get a journalist to respond to your pitch email if you’re talking about old news? You have to fully understand what’s cutting-edge in the industry and likewise in your client’s business. This ensures your pitches are relevant, intriguing and are going to say something different than the hundreds of other pitch emails the reporter receives that day.

If you hadn’t figured it out already, you need to love more than just PR to be successful at it. You need to be as involved and passionate about your client’s business and industry as much as they are…if not more. So, pick the industry you enter into wisely, because you’ll be spending a lot of time with it. Another reason I’m pretty darn happy I’m spending my time with food!

The Curator’s News Feed: November 30, 2012

Social Media

Hard to believe there’s only one more month left of this year! As November comes to an end we are seeing lots of social media news with end-of-the-year trend recaps and insight for what to expect in 2013. Here’s some of this week's news that caught our attention:

Imagining The Possibilities Of Facebook's External Ad Network, AllFacebook. Everyone expected that Facebook would eventually take users' information and use it to sell ads on external sites, and now Facebook says it's actually happening. If you're a Facebook user, this means the things you Like, share, comment and click on will be used to serve up ads on sites you visit outside Facebook. It could even mean you'll start to see ads that essentially say things like, "Your wife really wants this blender, Paul." Creepy? Only if you're still under the impression that your Facebook activity was ever private. Actually, I think I just convinced myself that this will be a lifesaver. – Paul

This is How Much Time You Spend on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Mashable. This week, Mashable pulled together some pretty intriguing infographics on how we’re using social media. Between work and personal use, my day appears to revolve around social platforms, so these numbers actually seem a little low in my book. But, taking into consideration the population as a whole, having the average time spent on social-networking sites more than double since 2006 is pretty striking. At the same time, we’ve seen a decrease in the use of email, which could mean users are ditching old methods of communication and turning to tools such as Twitter, Facebook, etc. to reach out to their contacts. This is a quick turnaround from the days when Twitter was used primarily as a quick news source. – Annie

Facebook and Pinterest are the New Wedding Planners, Mashable. As more and more of my friends get engaged or married, I feel like everywhere I turn there are Facebook posts about the proposal, the ring and pleas for planning advice and wedding ideas. It has become hard to avoid and I even find myself looking at photos on Pinterest. All I can tell from my ‘research browsing’ is that planning a wedding seems like an incredibly long and overwhelming process, but in a lot of ways has become easier thanks to the helpful tips and ideas on sites like Pinterest and TheKnot. This article proves my suspicion and shares some interesting stats on how these social media sites have taken over wedding planning. – Chelsey

Future Travel, CNN. Having clients in the travel category keeps me on the lookout for trends affecting travelers, so it was fun to stumble across this story about the future of travel in 2022… – Dan

4 Media Relations Tips From YouTube's Most Popular Video Ever, PR Daily. Korean rap sensation, PSY's, infectious "Gangnam Style" tune and music video – which is now the most watched video on YouTube – just might be able to teach PR pros a little something about media relations. – Jennifer

Your Emails Are Too Long: Here's How To Fix Them, Lifehacker. We're all guilty of sending the occasional rambling email or those "Thanks!" one-offs that clutter up inboxes. This post has a list of good reminders for keeping your messaging short and to the point. – Paul