Posts Tagged 'Twitter'

The Space Between: Digital and Traditional PR Look Really Similar These Days

By Dave Levy, @levydr

I have at least one or two media contacts with whom I rarely, if ever, email. It’s not that I’m not doing my job; it’s that whenever I have a pitch or want to soft-sound a story idea, I have to shrink the thought into way-less than 160 characters so I can direct message them on Twitter.

It will not surprise you to learn that most of these “Tweet First” contacts are bloggers. A few years ago, blogger engagement was a separate category from traditional media activities. In fact, during the growth of digital PR back six or seven years ago, we had two distinct teams with their own tasks related to either traditional pitching or blogger engagement. I was working in the latter camp, and by way of talking to people who blog, and who were some of the first on Twitter, it was kind of a natural progression to stop emailing each other and then just tweet.

Blogging looks a lot more like mainstream news these days (or mainstream news looks more like blogging, that’s a chicken or egg post for another day). Along with that, the space between what I’ve been doing in my career around online news sources and what colleagues who have filled more traditional media roles has gotten really, really small. Sure, my leading example here talked about how bloggers and I talked through Twitter direct messaging. But it isn’t only bloggers who rely on Twitter for everything from news to getting leads from sources. There are even reporters who have grown in their careers to join traditional outlets by way of being active online bloggers (and, again, plenty of writers who once wrote for large organizations have jumped to independent, online outlets).

When I got into this business, it felt different to be talking to a blogger, but maybe it shouldn’t have. I don’t know if I’m ruining some big secret, but there really isn’t that much that’s different in terms of what we do when we reach out to an online-only reporter. Journalists and bloggers alike are writing stories, and sometimes we as PR professionals have – or think we have – a tip that will help them create content. Ultimately, we have to take the time to get to know the writer, what they consider relevant and the best ways to reach them. That process doesn’t change on the basis of reaching out to either a blogger or a traditional journalist.

As a final bit of homework, I’ll challenge you to think about what pitching a story in a direct message is like. It’s really, really good practice to take your pitch and try and get all the important parts into less than a sentence. If you can do that, you’ll have a better sense of your story and what you are trying to say – no matter who you are reaching out to.


Why Social Media Will Save Us From Information Overload

By Amanda Guisbond (@agbond)

There’s no dearth of news these days.  Let’s take the most recent earthquake (ahem, aftershock to Boston and NYC) on the East Coast as an example of a “news event” that was sliced, diced and spun 100+ ways in a matter of 24 hours, including:

And my favorite:

The point here is, there have been many different perspectives on the news, whether brief or in-depth, and much, much more beyond what I’m sharing via links.  I’ve curated the news based on what leapt out to me from a simple Google News search, and now you get a more digestible sample of some of the “kookier” takes.

Really, to me, the earthquake was a small experience that I felt for a matter of seconds while at my desk at work, and my Facebook commentary was something along the lines of… “Now I have no excuse not to move to California.” (Engagement: 5 likes, 8 comments)

There I did it again, “curating” the news for my Facebook friends, who by the by, are sometimes my GO-TO source for a major event.  After the “shaking,” I jumped on Facebook, only to discover status updates from several friends from all over the East Coast assuring me that either a) they were being evacuated OR b) it was just aftershocks, and they were at a food truck stand when it happened.

The reason I went immediately to Facebook and not to Google News is because lately, Google News terrifies me with its overwhelming choices of publications, blogs and “in-depth” repurposed sub-pieces about major news events.  I just don’t know where to click and so I revert to my friends, who I know and trust.

There continues to be a major opportunity for brands to curate world news and events that are relevant to their industry, community and customers, via platforms like Twitter, Facebook and now… Google+!  So, as brands look to build out their own platforms – corporate blogs, branded communities – they should continue to identify opportunities like the “earthquake” to engage their audience and have a relevant, real-time conversation with them.

My favorite recent example?  Cape Cod’s Wellfleet Beachcomber (a beach bar with live music) took to Facebook with the following update this week – regarding the next weather disaster – honest, humble and totally upfront.  It’s not good news but… you can’t help but love ‘em.

Wellfleet Beachcomber:  Sucky News Alert Number One: Gene Ween and Dave Dreiwitz has been cancelled. There is no way we could talk Gene into driving 8 hours in a hurricane, even for the ‘Comber. Tickets (300 of ’em sold) will be refunded over the next 48 hours. Cold blows the wind…………

Tool Time: Do you give a hoot about HootSuite?

By Justine Massiello (@jmassiello)

Image from HootSuite

I don’t know about you but I’ve wanted to be able to be in two places at once – which is exactly what HootSuite ( lets you do. This bad boy is perfect for the professional Twitter client, it helps you monitor keywords, manage multiple Twitter profiles, schedule tweets and measure your success. Also known as, everything and more that your client wants and needs from you.

The Good:

  • Its freeeee!
  • Tweet scheduling
  • Manages multiple twitter profiles
  • URL shortening and tracking
  • Monitors RSS feeds and send headlines out in your Twitter feeds automatically

The Bad:

  • Statistics – they are there but don’t always work
  • Functionality is not so clear at first glance – you’ve got to work with it to figure it out

Image from HootSuite


The Verdict:

  • I would highly recommend HootSuite to those who are in need of a successful Twitter campaign.  I love tools/applications for Twitter that schedule your tweets and shorten the URL.  It also saves you time and makes you look like a magician, what more could you ask for?

Overall rating: I give HootSuite 4/5 slices!

Love That Social Media! A Twitter Fan Story

This post is courtesy of AE Mike Fearon (@MDFearon) – a guy always cruising the Twittersphere for free t-shirts and the latest tips on orange soda consumption…

Being in the social media biz, you see some brands that get it and many that don’t. When I’m not being an average PR Joe, I use the tools from my day job to hobnob with some of my favorite companies and brands. I don’t want to email brands. I don’t want to call a customer service line. I just want to send them an @ message on Twitter.

My desire to interact with brands on Twitter makes the platform a great proving ground to separate the social haves from the have-nots. For example, I turned to Twitter when orange soda brand Sunkist started to run a summer 2010 ad campaign promoting its new Solar Fusion flavor and I couldn’t find the product locally. Excited that the brand had a Twitter handle, I initially didn’t notice until after I tweeted at the handle that their last tweet came on October 2, 2009. Orange I mad I couldn’t connect with you on Twitter. For those interested, I never did get to try Solar Fusion…it’s something that will haunt me for the rest of my days.

Another example of a Twitter disappointment is Keystone Light’s lack of a Twitter handle for its newest pitchman Keith Stone. In his adverts, Stone is the coolest Keystone customer offering the smoothest advice on the block. His 30-second sound bites would have made a smooth transition to the 140 character world and, if handled properly, could have given Keystone the Q3-Q4 version of the Old Spice Guy. Instead, I’m just left with a bitter beer face.

However, there is one company that has consistently knocked my social socks off with its efforts to connect with fans on Twitter. In fact, they were recently lauded in an Ad Age piece for their social marketing efforts. That dedication helped Popeye’s Chicken win a national taste test over top rival KFC, but more importantly, made me a fan for life.

It all started in February, Mardi Gras to be exact. The Popeye’s Twitter handle kindly asked fans to retweet a post for the chance to win a t-shirt (no flashing required for these beads). Being a lover of free t-shirts, Mardi Gras and chicken, I obliged and was soon rewarded:

The t-shirt arrived at my house a few days later and I’ve been turning heads ever since (it is one of a kind) but this story is not over…fast forward a few months to planning a monthly team outing…to Popeye’s in Kenmore Square.

Of course I couldn’t visit my favorite chicken chain without representing their colors and coming unannounced:

In a savvy move, Popeye’s responded:

I obliged and provided my dinner photo:

Ultimately, the chain culminated with a request that my picture be used on the Popeye’s Facebook Page and my teammates @agrinavich and @Trochman got involved:

Popeye’s social media team did not spend the entire day on my tweet. It didn’t take hours of strategy sessions to agree on messaging before replying to some nerd talking about wearing a Popeye’s shirt to a team outing (I have a hunch these hours were put in before the Company’s first tweet). In fact, it could be argued that this nerd and his co-workers did most of the heavy lifting – but I wouldn’t want to take credit from a job excellently executed by my friends at Popeye’s. It took three simple steps for Popeye’s social media managers to earn my lifelong loyalty: monitoring, personality and action. Make sure these elements are in your social media plan and who knows, I might make you famous on Twitter and Facebook. 🙂 For a great example of brand/customer interaction, you can follow Popeye’s on Twitter at @PopeyesChicken.

And to Popeye’s, the only thing I love more than your social media is your chicken! You’ve got a friend in me!

Double Trouble for Dunkin’ Donuts

By Mikinzie Stuart (@mikinzie)

If any of you “Like” Dunkin’ Donuts on Facebook, you might have noticed something less than palatable appear on your news feed recently. This is because Dunkin’ Donuts was spammed on their Facebook page earlier this week with provocative links and images (seeing as these images are NSFW, we will just say they involve young women and the phrase “scantily clad”).

Hmm... something's missing.

Contrary to what you may think, the real crime wasn’t the spam itself; it was the fact that it took Dunkin’ Donuts 12 HOURS to acknowledge the spamming to their Facebook community. Even after the initial wave of images was finally removed, naughty photos and links kept showing up, flooding the company’s Facebook page throughout the following day.

Fellow SHIFT colleague, John Carter, noticed one of the racy spam videos pop up on his Facebook news feed and brazenly “liked” the spicy video. To prove a point, of course.

“More than anything, I think it points to the gap between content creation and community management when it comes to social media. If you look at Dunkin’ Donuts’ Facebook page and other initiatives, they’re doing some really great stuff; the donut creation contest and fan of the week are both absolutely genius. But their actual one-on-one interaction with consumers is rudimentary (at least on Facebook),” said Carter.

While DD Facebook fans waited and watched to see how the company would respond, it was disappointing when Dunkin’ Donuts followed up with a simple boilerplate apology to angry comments left on the Facebook wall by loyal customers:

“Thanks for your concern. We’re responsible for protecting the integrity of this community and take this very seriously. In accordance with DD Facebook Etiquette, all of these posts have been removed, flagged and banned. Any future posts of this nature will also be dealt with accordingly. We’ve always tried to keep our Facebook page open for fans to share and post links, pics and videos. Unfortunately, there will inevitably be a few individuals who abuse this. But rest assured that we’re on top of this and will always do everything in our power to keep this type of content off our fan page. Thanks, Ben”

As the conversation around the Facebook flop moved to Twitter, it was clear the damage had been done. Even though Dunkin’ Donuts quickly responded to customer tweets about the spammers, the fall-out had solidified, with complaints about: 1) the fact that it happened (and was left unattended) in the first place, and 2) a weak attempt to resolve the problem via a blanket apology.

So, what can be learned from DD’s double-down? Too many brands are concerned with the fancy bells and whistles of their social media space and forget that they need to have someone moderating the content. Granted, mistakes do happen: Dunkin’ Donuts could have had technical difficulties with the Internet down all day; the person in charge of monitoring the Facebook page and scanning for coverage could have been off sick that day; or maybe, and more likely – the company wasn’t investing enough time in regularly checking up on its Facebook page.

As one of the administrators of SHIFT Communications Facebook page, I check the space multiple times a day. I do this not only to moderate what is being posted on the Facebook page wall, but to understand what is important to SHIFT’s various audiences and what it takes to maintain the outward image of our company.

It’s just unfortunate that, as of late, Dunkin’ Donuts has been outdone by those other double Ds.

Twitter and Ice Cream: A Love Story

By Amanda Guisbond (@agbond) w/ photos from Katie Despres (@kdespres)

Who needs location-based social media (hello, Foursquare) when you have a Twitter-branded moving target? Such is the brilliance that is Ben & Jerry’s dessert-on-wheels, the Ben & Jerry’s Truck (@BenJerrysTruck). Granted the Truck is leveraging SM tools such as Foursquare (by staking a claim in every new location) and Twitpic, its main spot is Twitter with more recent stops along the streets of Boston.

And, naturally, how does one elicit a visit from the Ben & Jerry’s Truck – and more importantly, the gift of free ice cream? By using Twitter to beg, plead and bargain with the brand! SHIFT Communications Boston staffers took to Twitter yesterday, in response to a provocative tweet by the Truck, asking for recommendations on where to stop in the greater Boston area. SHIFT’s pleas for ice cream even inspired a #hashtag:

Full disclosure – SHIFT Boston shares residency with a few other big Boston brands, including WGBH and New Balance. WGBH staffers, including @WGHBJoanna were also on the case to bring Ben & Jerry’s to our offices, and even buddy-ed up with us on the cause!

Needless to say, the Truck came through and delivered free, mini-ice cream cups to WGBH & SHIFT staffers, to everyone’s delight. So what does this mean from a brand standpoint? Is Ben & Jerry’s just giving away product? What is the ROI?

  • Increased awareness of Ben & Jerry’s social media presence on Twitter, Foursquare and Facebook (savvy SHIFT staffers quickly turned to Facebook to fan the Ben & Jerry’s page and seek out any additional details on the truck’s whereabouts)
  • Social media-savvy brand support from Boston-based companies actively sharing the Truck’s presence via their own feeds. For example, the Truck visited and was tweeted by @Google, @oneforty, @HubSpot and @ZipCarBoston – and all in a 24 hour period!
  • Increased brand loyalty (or at least the guise of it) via happy consumers everywhere – including SHIFT staffers who posted smiling photo ops like this on their own Facebook pages…

Thanks, Ben & Jerry’s!

Sweet Tom, Tweet On

Post by Jany Xu

Sweet Tom

Tom Foremski stopped by for a quick lunch at SHIFT’s San Francisco office yesterday.  I’d never really met him, only seen him from afar.  He has the most soothing voice and a deep understanding/insight into the valley (which makes his blog, Silicon Valley Watcher, such an appropriate name).

The discussion centered around the evolving roles of PR and media in the tech industry, more specifically, where are we going and how to we pitch you.  Here are some of his pearls:

  • What happens if old media dies before new media learns how to walk?
  • You can’t fake interest online (referring to bloggers and their topics).
  • Google isn’t a tech company.  Google is a tech enabled media company.


Tweet On

As if Tom isn’t enough, our own Todd Defren had a tweet up last night @ Elephant & Castle.  Of course, I had to make an appearance, and I’m so glad I did.  Why?

  • Hef- its the end of a long work day; my body keeps telling me I haven’t slept and need to get on that.
  • Great company- I swear, at one point, we were discussing the merits of choosing the right traditional & new media strategies for each company, and then, we started talking about Folsom Street Fair (I am SO going this year!).
  • Elephant & Castle- we had the whole downstairs.  It wasn’t too loud.  Our server was amazing.

Shout outs to @bitemarks bunch, @dale, & @julie.

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