Tag Archives: public relations

4 Social Media Marketing Predictions for 2013

7 Jan

lego jetpack



1. 2013 is year we stop saying “Social Media”. 

It’s just media … messages … communications. We’re putting too much emphasis on “how social” something is. It’s losing its meaning quickly. Also, the faster we can stop saying “viral video” when describing every video online, the better!


2. 2013 is the year of Google+.

Sure, some say Google+ is the perpetual also-ran to Facebook.

Will you use it as much in your personal life as you use Facebook? No.

But, when potential customers search for information, will they see the content you put on your Facebook Fan Page or the content you put on your Google+ profile? Yep, it’s called Google+ for a reason. Get on board now!


3. 2013 is the year Public Relations steps up.

After 5 years of complaining that we’re once again not at the executive table, PR professionals will take a leadership role within most organizations to manage the messaging and manage the relationships with the audiences.


4. 2013 is the last year a CEO thinks Social Media is about reaching “the kids”.

I hope.



Social Media and Public Relations Presentation at Loyola

7 Apr

I had the terrific experience today of discussing Public Relations, Social Media, and the value of great content with Bob Kornecki’s class at Loyola University in Chicago.  Thanks to Bob for the invitation and to the class for their  excellent and thoughtful questions.

Here are the slides (no audio) from the presentation:

Who Should Be Driving Social Media?

13 Dec


Much has been written about the similarities between the Hippie counter-culture of the 1960s and 1970s and the current Social Media culture or subculture. I tend to ignore the love-fest similarities, and focus on one important shared trait: both movements take away the power of mediating institutions.

The most powerful and influential voices of that generation didn’t just work around the system, but also worked with and through the system. The same can be said about Public Relations professionals who should be the thought leaders for Social Media marketing for brands.  

Unfortunately at most organizations, consumer engagement via Social Media is not the responsibility of PR or Communications. And those folks may be the most qualified. Here’s why:

Public Relations = Relate to the Public! 

PR has for too long been a misnomer for media relations.  PR should be involved in Social Media, directly engaging consumers without media involvement, as well as working with (and coordinating information for) that particular intermediary.

Are consumers’ questions, reviews, and opinions so different than those of journalists? Not anymore. The same people charged with messaging for the media should be the ones delivering messages to consumers in order to preserve consistency.

PR Pros have the chops

Old-school PR – or even publicity – agents spent much of their time pitching the same handful of journalists year after year. However, the fragmentation of traditional media and the erosion of journalists’ jobs forced PR pros to sharpen their skills when communicating to thousands of individuals of all types.

Social Media is not advertising

Engagement means earning, not buying, attention. Big sales and special deals become more noise for consumers to ignore.  What’s needed is great story-telling, the specialty of a PR pro!

Does PR Own Social Media?

10 Nov

PRSA Chicago 

The Chicago Chapter of PRSA once again wrapped up a year of programs with the city’s agency leaders discussing this year’s trends and next year’s industry forecast. 
Northwestern professor Clarke Caywood moderated panelists Bill Zucker, Midwest Director at Ketchum, Maxine Winer, Senior Partner and General Manager at Fleishman-Hillard, Maril MacDonald, CEO of Gagen MacDonald, and Gary Rudnick, EVP and Managing Director at GolinHarris.

What are agency leaders asked about first? That’s right…Social Media. The discussion quickly turned to the looming question of WHO owns Social Media:  PR? Marketing? Advertising?


The panel made a good case that PR pros should lead Social Media efforts due to a history of (and skills sets that include) relationship-building, content creation, and garnering attention


Bill Zucker cautioned that no one really “owns” social media, but all disciplines should participate. Gary Rudnick added that owning SM is like the outdated thinking that advertising owns TV and PR owns newspapers. 
Maxine Winer sees PR beginning to make a difference when it intersects with customer service. The integration of CRM tools with SM platforms enables companies to engage with their customers faster and more directly. 

It was refreshing to hear Maril MacDonald advise the crowd to align SM engagements to your clients’ or company’s most important business metrics (sales, traffic, etc.) instead of communications metrics. 
I agree! Too often, PR conferences are infiltrated by “Social Media measurement mavens” (the most horrible term in the industry) and their silly equations that make CEOs’ eyes glaze over. In order for PR to participate in bottom-line business discussions, we need to speak the language.


While these PR industry leaders make a good case for PR to lead Social Media, I question if that is really happening currently. Many companies with whom I speak daily have Social Media engagement sitting squarely with Marketing with no contribution from the PR team or outside PR agency.


Please share your thoughts via comment section –

Should SM engagement be led by PR, Marketing, Advertising, or Customer Service? And…WHY?


PRSA International Conference 2010

6 Oct

 PRSA International Conference

I’m gearing up for the
2010 PRSA International Conference in Washington, DC October 16-19 and I’m quite impressed with PRSA and Verizon for putting together a mobile app for the conference featuring alerts, schedules, hotel info, maps, and sponsor info. Download yours here:

Click here to download free PRSA App



And also – here are the top 3 things to bring to this or any conference:

1. Hand sanitizer. Seriously. It should be a universal conference and trade show rule that everyone has to carry a bottle. The only thing I want to bring home is some new ideas.

2. Business cards. Whatever number you were planning to bring, double it.

3. You don’t have your @twitter handle printed on your cards yet? Take 20 minutes this week and write it on the back of a couple of dozen. Because at the show, no, I don’t have a pen!

Social Media Strategy = Snake Oil

7 Jun


Snake Oil

Go search Twitter right now for the phrase “social media strategy” and see who is trying to sell you snake oil. It’s not pretty!  A few Tweets every minute pop up by someone using that phrase.

I cringe every time I hear or read the phrase “Social Media Strategy”. It’s still being used frequently by so-called Social Media “Experts”. By the way, that’s a bogus term too, but that’s well-covered ground here and at many other places.

There is no such thing as Social Media “Strategy”.

You have a business strategy and perhaps a communications strategy and hopefully a communications plan.

Your Social Media tactics are a means to execute those strategies just like any other tactic or activity. Social Media can be a platform, avenue, channel, or tool.  
I have had many organizations tell me “We don’t yet have a Social Media strategy.” My reply is usually, “Do you have a telephone strategy?” Of course not; you use a telephone to make the connections and build relationships to achieve your business goals.

It’s the same with Social Media!

Social Media Douchebag

I hereby pin this badge of dishonor on anyone claiming to be a Social Media Strategist or Expert.

Showhomes Hits Franchise Expansion Goal

13 May

Here is a recent DailyVista article regarding Showhomes. The company’s rapid expansion in the current economy is an exciting story that is resonating with media, consumers, and business leaders nationwide.

My firm has worked with Showhomes for a couple of years and I am still fascinated by the company’s story and its ability to tell the story well. Congratulations on another great year!  

Showhomes Home Staging 

Showhomes Home Staging Company Hits Franchise Expansion Goal

By Stephanie Jacoby

Managing Editor, DailyVista  

May 11, 2010

Showhomes, a home staging provider, announced it has added 11 franchise units by April of 2010, thus surpassing its expansion goal and setting a company record for new units opened, according to the company.

The Nashville, Tenn.-based company expects that 2010 will be its seventh consecutive year of steady incline. Showhomes is also on track to open 40 new locations this year, even further exceeding its 2010 goal of 25. Showhomes has opened 20 franchises in 2009, compared to the 15 that were projected, and intends to sell out all available units by 2014.

“If you take a step back, we are a home-based business, we are in a hot category of small business, the cash requirements for opening are low, we have an excellent track record, we have some of the best franchisee validation in the industry and we have a really high potential return on investment,” Chief Operating Officer Matt Kelton said in a statement. “When you add it all up, I can’t think of a better franchise in today’s market.”

Showhomes is a home staging franchise that uses live-in home stagers to help realtors sell vacant houses. These live-in home stagers help manage vacant houses while they are on the market for sale and offset a home owner’s expense to stage the home.

Thomas Scott, vice president of marketing, told DailyVista that Showhomes has been around since 1986, but has really seen a boom in its business due to the heightened interest in the art of staging a home for sale.

“HGTV started airing home staging shows, and thanks to them, home staging became a buzz word,” he said. “Staging preps houses for sales – they show better, and that started our momentum. During the current housing bust, when everyone is talking about how bad the market is, we’re one of the few good stories out there in real estate. It’s been golden for us to expand.”

The depressed real estate market has been very helpful for Showhomes, and as such, the company has plans to build out a national foot print, which may include an upwards of 150 to 200 new units.

“We’re well on track to do that, we’re ahead of where we thought we’d be, so it’s a good problem to have,” Scott said. “We’re expanding heavily in the Northeast, and adding more units in Florida, Texas and California. We’re expanding wherever there’s interest.”

Showhomes is big in Southern California, and is hoping to open in Napa Valley and in Sacramento in the coming months. Kelton says that the franchise does well in many markets, small and large, because there are vacant houses everywhere, and even in the boom, it has a lot to do with how often people move. Most consumers will purchase new homes before they sell their old homes and move all their furniture to the new place, which creates a need for vacant home staging.

“Franchising in general has been struggling. It’s one of the real ironies in the market, because in a recession more people want to start their own business more than normal because they’re out of work so there is a big disconnect between franchise companies and people who want to open a franchise,” Scott said. “With our forward-thinking approach, we engage customers and put information out there. Aggressive Blogging, social media and social media PR have really generated sales for us.”

Coupled with Web content, guest blogging and other types of non-traditional communications, Showhomes’ current online content and social media efforts have allowed folks who are naturally interested in real estate or home staging to tune into the company story long before they talk to a salesperson. When they do inquire about either owning their own Showhomes franchise, or requesting the company’s services, they have already done some research and are engaged.

“We’ve also found on the franchise sales side, one thing that’s working today is old-school trade shows,” Scott said. “The entire last decade companies spent getting connected to the Internet, and now with all those portals, people don’t trust sales people.”

Scott says his company saw a big turnaround at trade shows in 2009 and that they now produce almost a third of its overall sales. Consumers want to meet a live person and those that have an inherent interest in the industry go to Showhomes’ booth and meet their team.

“We are also big on what I’d say is social media PR,” Scott said. “We’ve found we have to be way more aggressive and more targeted with the PR we do – it drives a lot of the brand. PR works for us but only because we produce releases that tell real stories and don’t read like what a PR firm produces. We turn our releases into real stories that will get a journalist’s attention.”

“There’s no such thing as viral content in today’s market, it’s just good content,” he said. “We tend to produce things in-house because we find most PR and marketing firms don’t know how to produce good content. I’m a former journalist and I use journalists to do our writing. We know how to produce a campaign the gets results because we all have a very keen idea of what’s interesting and what’s absolute junk. The junk gets tuned out – the really interesting content is what you need to fuel a successful social media campaign.”

Showhomes finds that consumers in today’s market are using Google as a starting point for any kind of research. In line with this research, Scott spends a great deal of time tracking back to see where customers have found a link to the Showhomes Web site, and also implements quite a bit of search engine optimization to stay top of mind when it comes to home staging.

“We do lots of hyper-local searches – generating leads from Google searches and from Craig’s List,” he said. “We had to adapt our marketing in the last year, because social media has really changed the way customer make buying decisions. We’ve had to revamp almost everything we do and it’s been great for our franchisees. We’ve come up with more cost-effective campaigns, but it takes lots of brain power and going against the conventional wisdom.”

As far as potential franchisees, mortgage brokers are Showhomes’ target market at this point, which gives the company an opportunity to grow in the mortgage broker industry, which is struggling these days. Other interested parties are folks that are simply interested in real estate, not necessarily realtors themselves, just those intrigued by the industry.

Scott said that through his own consulting company; a lot of these marketing efforts are handled in-house, adding that due to his journalism background, he hires former journalists and writers to assist with press releases and other content as soon as he needs them. “What has emerged is that getting results is all about the content; you produce intelligent content, designed specifically for that audience, and that’s what fuels social media, instead of a PR agency or a marketing, or an SEO or a Web firm, you have a content strategy firm that produces PR, social media content, blogging content and all the other various pieces that go with it.”

Scott said that those who can tell the company’s story are the ones that truly generate traffic. Outside of franchising, these types of agencies are building content and are quickly becoming a mainstay in the communications industry.


For more information on Showhomes, please contact:
Thomas Scott

5 Awesome PR Innovations – PRWeek Awards

10 Mar

PRWeek Awards

The PRWeek Awards winners will be announced tomorrow in New York including PR Innovation of the Year. 
I have been working on the development of MatchPoint for the past year and want to congratulate everyone on the team for the nomination.  

All Nominees for PR Innovation of the Year:

Edelman and American Thoracic Society The TB Advocacy Toolkit  

Ketchum The Ketchum Media Optimizer: Adding Discipline to the PR Discipline  

Ketchum Virtual Meeting Mashups – Reinventing Online Events
Waggener Edstrom Worldwide What’s on Your Mind? Now Anyone Can Decipher Twitter Discussion with the Help of twendz!  

eNR Services, Inc. and MatchPoint MatchPoint for PR  

Best of luck to everyone and I look forward to speaking with you at the Awards!

The Most Engaging Part of MatchPoint That You Haven’t Used…Yet

1 Mar

Using MatchPoint searches to uncover influencers who are writing stories similar to yours is just part of the power of the MatchPoint application.
Many MatchPoint users are finding time efficiencies and increased pitching success by using the ENGAGE button attached to each journalist, writer, or influencer.

Engaging in MatchPoint

The Engage Button in MatchPoint

The engage button will open an email pitch note from you to the selected writer. You may also include any previously saved campaign elements embedded into the body of this html email. These elements can include:

  • Links to videos
  • Photos
  • A Press Release
  • Attributable Quotes
  • Bulleted News Facts
  • Boilerplate

Journalists have raved about receiving these embedded elements as opposed to attachments which often get filtered, ignored, or deleted.
When sending your pitch note through MatchPoint instead of via traditional email, you can also track who has opened your pitch!


Apple’s Ongoing Brilliance in Driving Demand

25 Jan


In anticipation of the next big Apple media event this Wednesday, everyone is guessing that the big announcement is the launch of Apple’s Tablet.

Well, it’s no longer really guessing due to Apple’s well-planned PR “leaks”. Check out the latest on Mashable.  So, surely the Tablets are on the agenda. But I’m hoping for these two announcements:


1. Ending of exclusivity with AT&T

2. Change of name for the iPhone. Seriously! Is anyone using the phone anymore?!?

My suggested new name is the “iText-iSearch-iUseApps”. No? Yeah, too clunky.  Okay, let’s stick with iPhone.

I’m hoping there is a Verizon or other carrier deal announcement coming soon. Because with AT&T’s coverage in several places I need to go, it’s an iPaperweight.



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