Saturday, December 27, 2008

Twitter goes mainstream

Now that the O'Reilly Radar has released their latest report Twitter and the Micro-Messaging Revolution: Communication, Connections, and Immediacy - 140 Characters at a Time (O'Reilly, $249, PDF), Twitter and the "micro-messaging phenomenon" have officially gone mainstream.

A number of my clients have approached me about whether or not they should use Twitter, and I've posted about using Twitter professionally before and I use Twitter myself, but as Twitter moves more solidly into the mainstream, my guess is these types of inquires will start to come in even more frequently.

The simple truth is that while both technologies and tools come and go, the ability to effectively create a conversation and tell a story are the real keys to success, especially for those of us in PR.

Before your company and/or organization decides to actively engage in the "twitterverse", begin by finding out what people are saying about your organization and/or category in these active communities. Run a simple twitter search to find patterns in the existing conversation, or follow key thought-leaders in your industry anonymously to see how they use the tool.

Watch. Learn. Listen. Then – and only then – make a conscious decision about what you want to accomplish before diving in to the conversation.

As social media – including Twitter – moves to the mainstream, more and more users will begin to dive in to it without thinking through their objectives thoroughly. This is another opportunity to use the “POST” method pioneered by Forrester Research. POST is an acronym for “People, Objectives, Strategy, Technology” and it outlines the order in which organizations should build their online social strategy. (For more information on the POST method, click here.)

While I've long advocated for the value of social media as an effective, and increasingly relevant, PR tool - I've now begun to worry that its misuse could start to do more harm than good.

Update: 1/6/08 -
An excellent resource for using Twitter for Community and Communications professionals from Brian Solis @ PR2.0.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Two new tools I love

I've recently stumbled across two new tools that I love that I thought were worth sharing.

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Note: I'm not advertising for these companies/products - and there may be better tools out there that accomplish these tasks (if you know of any, please share them in the comments section) - I'm just excited about them and wanted to pass them along in case others find them useful as well:

1. Press Release Grader:
A simple web-based tool that checks your release for both basic PR mistakes (missing contact details, etc) and generates a word cloud that shows you how your word use appears to search engines - a critical piece of data for Search Engine Optimization. It also gives your release a numeric grade out of 100, and confirms its overall readability. It's an incredibly quick and helpful tool to help you refine your release before you send it out into the world.

2. Pitch Engine:
An elegantly designed web-based tool that allows you to easily convert your standard/traditional press release into a blog and social-media friendly SMR. It's free to use (you incur costs if you want to archive materials or group them into "newsrooms" - both of which are worth paying for if you ask me) and actually turns your press release into something useful, i.e., something that can be shared online.


Update 1/14 - PRN has a press release optimizer as well here. Any other tools out there that deserve to be shared?