Haber-Homework

Step One:

Comment on this blog. Comment on what you find interesting or add something that I may have missed. This is a conversation among all of us. Look below the title of a post and click on “add a comment.” On my blog, you shouldn’t have to start an account, but on others, you will need an account to comment. I suggest taking the five minutes.

Step Two:

Set up an RSS feed in Apple Mail for my blog, a news site, and another blog. Somewhere on each of these there will be a little orange RSS button. Click it. The address that pops into the URL (in this case https://annahai.wordpress.com/feed/) is the address that you will enter into Apple Mail to receive the RSS feed. Now in Apple Mail, on the bottom of the left hand navigation bar, click on the “+” sign. Select ‘Add RSS.’ At the top of the window that opens, click the button “specify a custom feed URL,” then in the below box, add the RSS feed URL.

Step Three:

Use the Haberman test wiki. Go to http://sites.haberspace.com/wiki/. Edit an entry, or add a page if you’re feeling ambitious.

Step Four:

Create a Facebook account and join the group Haberman Interactive Learning. Creating an account is very easy, but if you want guidance, grab someone who is familiar with it, and ask for a little help. It only takes a few minutes to create a basic profile

Extra Credit: Read up, a final adieu to print from the Rake

http://www.rakemag.com/reporting/features/all-news-fits-and-then-some

Connecting the Dots

It is our job as PR/marketing/design professionals to begin connecting the dots – to see opportunities that are waiting to be discovered in the din of web-based chatter. The multitude of tools commonly used in the internet-based media landscape give us a chance to maximize the impact of our messages and to pioneer new ways to convey information to our audiences.

The following video was created by Kansas State University professor Michael Wesch. It was brought to my attention by father, Gary Kruchowski.

Web 2.0…The Machine is Us/ing Us

Advising Clients

Before you advise clients on web-based campaigns, RESEARCH! You wouldn’t give a client advice on their taxes if you didn’t have accounting experience – utilizing interactive tools is similar. In order to launch a successful campaign, you have to be fluent in the various types of interactivity available and know how they are all connected. Additionally, you need to know how to drive traffic to your campaign, as well as ensure a worthwhile experience for users.

There is no method or formula to ensure or predict success of web-based campaigns. Each project will be unique; each project must allow for expansion in content and capabilities. A successful campaign is faithful to its users and takes their suggestions into consideration.

A few questions you should ask yourself before you recommend an web-based campaign?

  • What is the goal of the campaign?
  • Is this the best way to reach the client’s audience – are traditional tactics more efficient?
  • Which online tools should we be using? A successful campaign often integrates several.
  • What value does the user get out of the campaign? Entertainment? Information?
  • How can I drive traffic to the campaign?
  • What does it offer to encourage individuals to recommend the site to others?
  • How much effort does the client want to put towards maintaining, improving and elaborating on the campaign?
  • Who is creating the content – the client or the users?
  • Has this been done before?

Social Networking

Image from ProBlogger.net

Social Networking doesn’t begin and end with Facebook. ‘Social Networking’ is a general term that refers to internet-based interactions between individuals. These sites pop up every day that allow people to connect with one another.

Think of going to a large wedding where you know a handful of people among hundreds. You start by interacting with people you know, then you move on to people your friends know. Eventually, you’ll start finding common ground and conversation with people around you. By the end of the night, you will have found interesting people with whom you will have shared details about your life, work, and family. This is social network based around a one-time event.

Online social network is almost identical, but is based around going to a web-based community rather than a wedding. Given enough time on the site, individuals join like-minded groups – causes, political parties, passions, random preferences. This leads to sharing preferences for books, movies, products and other things. It also facilitates information sharing, both personal information and information relevant to the group’s interests.

A good example is CafeMom. CafeMom is a site that allows mothers to begin a profile and join social groups. One group is for mothers with tattoos, another is mothers interested in organics. Essentially, people come together based upon psychographic attributes.

How can PR professionals use Social Networking?

Lurking, or monitoring the activity, of a given group can provide a wealth of information regarding the group’s common questions, key issues of interest and preferred methods of communication. This can help with idea generation and client recommendations. However, note that individuals that participate in these types of groups aren’t necessarily reflective of an entire demographic or audience, only that group which may or may not be consistent with popular/mainstream beliefs.

A note on ethics: There is a difference between lurking and participating. If you are participating based on genuine, personal interest in the topic, it is acceptable to join in the conversation. However, trying to direct conversation for the benefit of a client is deceitful unless your intent is disclosed. I would recommend that you never use a social network group as a focus group without expressed consent of both your client and the group’s moderators – if ever.

How can clients use social networking?

It’s easy for a client to say, “we want to do social networking.” In reality, social networking isn’t always a good idea for a client, and often involves a lot of planning. This is a complex topic that will be discussed in future posts. Simply creating a Facebook page for the company does not guarantee that people will want to join or interact on the page. Social networking pages must offer viewers something unique and relevant to the target audience – news, games, resources, etc. Often, a company-created page may be seen as intrusive or opportunistic to the community. The page must be created with the sites users directly in mind.

Wikis – Beyond Wikipedia

Wikipedia

What is a Wiki?

Think of wikis as a collaborative network of webpages that are written and edited by a group of individuals. Essentially, they work like an idea map. Each editor adds a new idea that is linked to or searchable through other pages on the wiki site.

Wikipedia is the best-known example of a wiki. Each page is written by many different authors, each able to change what was written before them and elaborate as necessary. In this sense, wikis are self-correcting. If I create a page about spiders and refer to them as insects, another editor can come in and change “insects” to the correct classification of “arachnids.”

Wikis are traditionally used for sharing knowledge. Wikipedia works like a public encyclopedia to which anyone can add (given that an editor doesn’t delete your changes). They have also been used within educational arenas, medical professional groups, and even businesses. However, wikis aren’t limited to simple information sharing. Wikis have less commonly used abilities. For instance, a press release draft could be entered into a wiki, and changes/edits could be made collaboratively by clients/PR Professionals.

I’ve created a test example of a wiki for Haberman Employees to explore at http://testwiki.serveblog.net/wiki/Main_Page. David, Nikki, John, and I have made a few pages to start. Edit, add, and include references as needed. This site is temporary and for fun. Add a page about your favorite happy hour spots or your own bio. Explore how wikis can link within themselves or link to websites that exist outside of the wiki.

Blogging

A poignant entry by xkcd.com, “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.”

Facilitating a conversation about “blogging” is like trying to encompass all forms of journalism in the topic of “media.” Blogging is a spectrum, ranging from a teenager discussing their personal life to well-known national journalists posting breaking news items. Furthermore, blogging is integrating itself into the greater category of journalism – developing its own set of rules, etiquette and methods of dealing with PR professionals. Depending on the theme, audience, and personality of a blog, each should be approached using different tactics. However, one thing remains the same – RESPECT and TRANSPARENCY. The following is a guide to understanding blogging (at least to the extent of my knowledge).

Following and Participating in Blogs

Become familiar with blogs that are relevant to you. Read them and participate in comment “threads.” By commenting on blogs, you are engaging in a two way discussion with the author and other readers. Furthermore, you are letting the author know a little bit about yourself. This can help with networking in the interactive community or pitching them (they may know who you are before you send a pitch – giving you greater credibility). However, make sure your comments are honest reflections of your opinions, and never comment about a company you are representing. Whether for your own knowledge or in prepping to pitch a specific blog, reading them will give you greater insight into how the blogosphere and specific bloggers work. If you find a blog that you enjoy, set up a RSS feed.

Pitching Bloggers

DOs:

  • Read their blog, familiarize yourself with their attitudes, writing style and favorite topics.
  • Be TRANSPARENT – you are a PR professional, and hiding that is disrespectful and dangerous. If you have something to offer them that is newsworthy in their eyes, you won’t be brushed off.
  • Be less formal than normal “media” pitches, but still respectful and not overly casual.
  • CUSTOMIZE – Bloggers have a lot of competition and want unique story ideas. They also want to know you aren’t just sending them a message because they are on a blogging list.
  • Offer them visuals, videos and content that can be posted directly.
  • Send one follow-up if you don’t get a response. Bloggers get a lot of email, and if something is truly relevant and interesting, they might just need a reminder.
  • Be cautious – bloggers can and sometimes will post emails they receive.

DON’Ts

  • Don’t send out blanket pitches to bloggers you determine to be important (there are some exceptions when it comes to products).
  • Don’t customize with generic comments such as “I like your post from last week,” instead try “I appreciated your take on genetically engineered food last week.”
  • Don’t stalk a blogger, emailing them too regularly will get you blocked, unless it’s a two-way conversation.
  • Don’t rely on a press release. They’re not very helpful to bloggers.
  • Don’t tell them to post; they know what you’re after. Ask them what they think of the information you’re sending.

Starting a Blog

Whether it’s for a client or personal use, blogs can be endlessly useful. Successful company blogs can establish CEOs as opinion leaders and agenda setters. They can also backfire if thoughtful writing and planning aren’t incorporated early. Keep in mind, blogs don’t always make sense for a client. Think through your client’s goals and intended blog audience.

Tips:

  • Choose a topic. Unfocused blogs typically aren’t heavily read. Readers like consistency in content.
  • Read other blogs, bookmark them, network. If you find someone with a similar topic, try linking to them and see if they’ll reciprocate.
  • Incorporate images and videos where relevant.
  • Update regularly. If you want readership, you need to post fairly frequently.
  • Provide new and interesting information. Blogging about an event that happened last month isn’t going to intrigue your audience, unless it’s an extremely unique commentary.
  • Link to other sites and reference your sources where appropriate.
  • Don’t be afraid to editorialize. Blogs don’t need to be unbias, but they should present a well-founded argument or message.

RSS – Really Simple Syndication

RSS feeds are an easy way to make news come to you. By subscribing to RSS feeds, you can have news/information from your favorite sites sent to your own website, inbox, or RSS reader. RSS feeds send articles and information to you as soon as it is posted, giving you quick and efficient access to information relevant to your own life or your professional interests.

One of the most popular ways to subscribe is through iGoogle, which is a simple way to select what type of news you would like Google to display on your iGoogle homepage. However, you can also have RSS feeds sent direction into your Apple Mail Inbox, or download a program that will act like an inbox, allowing you to click through headlines as you have time.

Apple Mail RSS

How can I use RSS to help me professionally?

RSS feeds will allow you to monitor a “beat” or publication more efficiently. Not only can you become more familiar with a given reporter or section of a publication, but you can follow trends, headlines and breaking news.

How can I use RSS to help my clients?

Does your client have a blog, newsletter, website or other changing online content? By offering RSS feeds, individuals actively interested in the client’s organization, cause or company can keep tabs on the client without having to randomly stumble upon new content. Instead you can directly offer the content, or you can offer a link for them to click through (truncated RSS feed).