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Michelle Perroni on Job Hunting in 2010: Fresh Ground #20

FG_Podcast_Ep_20.jpgMichelle Perroni had a PR challenge: she had to sell a young client to a marketplace filled with news, noise and more noise. Who was her client? Herself! Michelle had recently graduated from Brigham Young University - Idaho, and found herself job hunting for public relations agency jobs in a saturated market. How to stand out? Her tactic: take out an ad on Facebook.

Fresh Ground principal Todd Van Hoosear, not one to click on many ads, was intrigued enough by her approach to click on her Facebook ad, and wondered if it had led to any job leads or other opportunities. They spoke yesterday by phone from her home in the Houston area about her search, social networking and public relations.

While the ad hasn’t led to an offer yet, she’s netted nearly 400,000 impressions, 761 click, and emails from all over (including Fresh Ground and Edelman, among many others) after her $100 five-day run. She targeted based on interests (e.g., PRSA, social media, journalism) and agencies. If you have a job for her, tell her I sent you!

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Stephen Baker on Life, Journalism, Numbers and His New Book

Thanks to event sponsor and, I'm happy to disclose, Fresh Ground client Netezza, members of the Boston Social Media Club were fortunate to be able to enjoy an intimate evening with author and former BusinessWeek Senior Editor Stephen Baker. Steve's most recent book, The Numerati, looks "at how a global math elite is predicting and altering our behavior -- at work, at the mall, and in bed." He was invited to present a keynote at the company's Enzee Universe 2010 User Conference, and was gracious enough to take time out of his schedule to meet with the group and share his thoughts on life, journalism, numbers and the new book, expected out next year. You can listen to his session (just under a half hour) below.

I'm also pleased to announce that we'll have an exclusive interview with Steve for next week's Fresh Ground Podcast. (We did not include this interview in our podcast feed this week -- stay tuned for a great interview with a creative young PR pro in this week's podcast episode.)

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Update 23 June 2010: Tim Allik captured some video of Steve talking specifically about his BusinessWeek experience. You can read Tim's thoughts on the Tech PR Gems blog, and have a look at the video below:

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Media Relations Tips: Finding the Why

As a PR person I find it oddly refreshing to be pitched. It's like the assignment Prof. Padwe gave us in journalism school to profile each other. You learn a lot when you hear your own life translated by someone else. Your own quotes come back sounding quite a bit different.

I recently received a pitch noting that I'd written about Foursquare, then went on to tell me all about another product that is similar to Foursquare, but never really told me why I should care. The PR person sent me links to a some great stories on the product, but it didn't encourage me to write at all. In a nutshell, the PR person forgot the "why." That is, why should I, as a blogger who writes what he likes, care to write about the product? To continue the pitch analogy, the PR person on the other side of this email "dropped the ball."http://www.tanophoto.com/index.php?showimage=250

This isn't an easy thing. For journalists the why is pretty easy: they have to fill their content stream and something happening now often qualifies as news. Media relations folks like myself have made a career out of creating news hooks that encourage writing because those hooks answer the question "why should I write about you now?.

But targeting those motivations has become much more difficult as the ranks of journalists decrease. Plus, the rise of pageview journalism fundamentally changes the equation. Now, instead of relying on a journalist to write because your client is important to the industry, they must be sure that a story on the topic will drive readers. If it won't, then you're out of luck. Worse, if they write and find it doesn't drive readers, they're not likely to come back.

David Weinberger identified this problem by encouraging marketers to avoid the echo chamber, but the problem remains that journalists like the echo chamber as much as marketers. You want a story in in a top tech destination? First prove that you have an audience that will drive traffic to the story. But how do you build the audience without the exposure? Does building that audience even as you're in beta or stealth mode fit into your strategy? What work can you do to gain a foothold without broader media relations?

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Vote for the Fresh Ground Blog!

We need your help. The Fresh Ground blog has been nominated as one of the Best Up-and-Coming blogs in the PR world and we need your help to win. Voting started today, Wednesday, and continues through Tuesday, June 22. If you've found this blog interesting and useful over the past couple of months, please link over to Communications Conversations and drop in a vote for us. We'd really appreciate the help.

Of course, you may also want to sign up for our newsletter!

If, however, you think we could be a bit better in some areas, just let us know! You can leave a comment or drop us an email at info (at) itsfreshground (dot) com. That address gets to both of us at once.

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Chuck Hester on LinkedIn for Media Relations: Fresh Ground #19

In this second part of a recording of Chuck Hester’s presentation on LinkedIn success secrets from Newcomm Forum 2010, Chuck shares some great tips on using LinkedIn for media relations, among other great tips. Chuck Hester is a LinkedIn power user with over 10,000 connections on the business networking site and the author of “Linking in to Pay it Forward: Changing the Value Proposition in Social Media.” He serves as director of communications at email marketing firm iContact.

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Our opening music is "D.I.Y." by A Band Called Quinn from the album "Sun Moon Stars" and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

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A Good Newsletter, A GREAT Cause

I am very pleased to announce the Fresh Ground Newsletter -- which will arrive in your inbox no more than twice monthly, but only if you sign up for it below or on our Newsletter page. Want to get highlights of our best content in your inbox? While all the content we produce is good, we'll share only the great content with you in the newsletter. The newsletter will highlight our thinking on the trends and issues facing the converging worlds of marketing, public relations, media and technology. We'll also highlight some of the really creative work we're doing for our clients, which includes supporting a neat and very last-minute goal for one of our clients.

SocialWish has just launched in a semi-private beta (you can sign up for it by creating a wish at www.socialwish.com), and yesterday they entered a contest that ends at midnight tonight (crazy, ain't it?). Here's the deal, if we all chip in to get SocialWish across the finish line in first place, they'll donate $5,000 of the prize money to the Make-A-Wish Foundation! In order to make this happen, you need to act before midnight tonight (Monday, June 14th, 2010).

Here's what you need to do:

  1. Visit the SocialWish contest entry page.
  2. Click "VOTE for this entry"
  3. Register for the contest
  4. Check your email, click the confirmation link then, just to be sure, go back to the SocialWish contest entry page and click that VOTE button one last time.

You can read more about what SocialWish is trying to do on their blog.

Oh, and don't forget to sign up for the Fresh Ground Newsletter:


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Chuck Hester on Being a LinkedIn Power User: Fresh Ground #18

Chuck Hester is a true LinkedIn power user, with over 10,000 connections on the business networking site. He is also the author of “Linking in to Pay it Forward: Changing the Value Proposition in Social Media” and director of communications at email marketing firm iContact. Fresh Ground Principal Todd Van Hoosear got a chance to listen in on — and record — Chuck’s presentation on LinkedIn success secrets at Newcomm Forum 2010. Here are excerpts from the first part of Chuck’s session, where he shares tips on getting started and connecting on LinkedIn.

Listen Now:

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Our opening music is "D.I.Y." by A Band Called Quinn from the album "Sun Moon Stars" and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

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BP in the Gulf: When Crisis PR Shouldn't be the Question

Whenever some big crisis hits the news my dad likes to say "So, my son who is in PR, what would you do in this situation?" Then he argues with me.

He asked it again as we were watching the BP mess unfold in the Gulf of Mexico. But this time my answer was simple: there's nothing to do here. This isn't a crisis communications issue. Yes, it's a crisis, but the communications plan should be the LAST thing on their mind right now. The issue here is fixing the problem and communicating what they're actually doing. Anything less is disingenuous.

The best example of this process gone wrong is the painfully funny Twitter account @BPGlobalPR. Here you have a guy digging at BP on a daily basis, pointing out their inconsistencies and problems in an amusing way. In his Huffington Post essay, the writer of @BPGlobalPR noted the futility in any kind of crisis PR program in this situation:

I've read a bunch of articles and blogs about this whole situation by publicists and marketing folk wondering what BP should do to save their brand from @BPGlobalPR.  First of all, who cares?  Second of all, what kind of business are you in?  I'm trashing a company that is literally trashing the ocean, and these idiots are trying to figure out how to protect that company?  One pickledick actually suggested that BP approach me and try to incorporate me into their actual PR outreach.  That has got to be the dumbest, most head-up-the-ass solution anyone could possibly offer.

He goes on to say how BP's PR solution is to fix the problem. Note to BP Crisis PR folks: don't try to find fancy ways to communicate your messages, don't look for new and innovative ways to to put the best face on the problem, now isn't the time for that. Just provide information on what's being done. Period. Oh, and yell at management to do more. In fact, that SHOULD be the crisis PR plan.

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Does Google Discourage Diversity?

During the Mass TLC Social Media Summit 2010, David Weinberger pointed out how marketers love the "echo chamber" in which they get to hear lots of positive feedback from people who already love them. The problem with this, he says, is that the echo chamber may satisfy our bosses and clients, thereby making us look good, but it does little to help advance true thinking. He believes we should be encouraging more diverse thought.

David Weinberger as seen on Wikipedia

He's right, of course. Later in the morning Mike Troiano gave a shout-out to the concept of diversity of thought in his listening talk by noting that "listening is the means by which we corrupt our vision with the external reality." That is, we (entrepreneurs) may think we know everything, but when we start listening to the people around us, we realize that we know less and need to think more.

On the surface, Weinberger is right. Diversity of thought and ideas leads often leads to stronger discussions. That is, when it doesn't end with a bunch of guys yelling "You suck!" "No, YOU suck!" Or worse, with one US Senator beating another with a cane.

Generally speaking, informed discourse is the way to go, it's why we have Freedom of the Press. If we had state-run news agencies that providing everything we needed to know, we wouldn't be able to check on our government. Worse, the government would be getting and relaying information only from those with the money to lobby, and no one would be there to shout "this isn't right!" (I'm looking at you BP who told the government experts that cutting the big oil pipe would result in a 20 percent increase in oil, something that the media parroted. Only, today NPR reported that it could, in fact, be much worse.)

In any case, when it comes to diverse thought we have a small problem. Well, a big problem, actually. It's called Google.

Marketers bow before Google as the god of online marketing. Putting out a press release? Run it through a few SEO tools to make sure your keywords line up just right. Reporter writing stories find themselves rewarded based on the number of views their stories achieve, something that plays directly into Google's hands. But rising in the Google rankings means playing to the echo chamber.

Here's how it works. Let's assume that a bunch of people linked to Dave Weinberger's site calling him the smartest guy on the Internet. Eventually you'll be able to search Google for the "smartest guy on the Internet" and find Dave. Pretty cool. But if there is diversity, some may call him the smartest guy, but others may say he's the biggest moron they know. Now Google is a bit confused. Maybe both searches get to him, but more likely another guy becomes the smartest guy on the Internet and Dave loses out.

So if marketers need to get Google to look their way they need the echo chamber. They need those links that portray their company (or their client's company) in a positive light, containing the right links, etc.

Granted, this is a bit of a simplification, but you get the point.

Which raises a pretty important question. While Google opens us up to a wealth of information that has never been available, does it also push us to be less diverse in our thought?

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