Ashton’s Twitter Snafu

Ok, so is anyone else horrified by Ashton Kutcher’s inability to control himself on Twitter?

Ashton Kutcher has reportedly handed over control of his Twitter handle to his management team after tweeting inappropriately one too many times.  While i don’t disagree with him being monitored a bit by his publicist and others responsible for maintaining his brand, i do find fault with the way he has gone about it.

Why the big anouncement?  The announcement came on the heels of his tweet expressing regret over the firing of the Pennsylvania State football coach during an embarassing sex scandal involving student athletes.  Apparently Kutcher was unaware of the allegations at the time of his tweet.  Fan backlash forced him to cut and run.  Kutcher should have quietly handed over the reigns and faded into obscurity, resurfacing every now and again to tweet personally on more benign topics.  Announcing that his tweets are no longer his own only serves to alienate him from his followers.  No one is interested in what his management team is thinking at any given moment.  No, the fans want to know what Ashton is thinking and doing and feeling.  His original tweets have a voice and tone specific to him.  This cannot be replicated by a bunch of suits in an office.  Come On Guys!!

Perhaps he announced this to demonstrate to the public that he was trying to become more responsible.  Maybe he thought he would be forgiven in the public eye if he abandoned ship.  i will be interested to follow this for the next couple of months and see if this decision has made an impact on his fan base.  i believe it is only a matter of time before he bounces back from this awkward situation to reclaim his position in the hearts of his adoring public.

Crisis Management – Tiger Woods Style

 

An important PR function, crisis management is essentially the strategic diffusion of situations that may cause damage to a brand and/or client’s reputation in the public eye.  PR proffessionals are responsible for controlling the image and perception of their clients.  For this reason, it is important to brainstorm and have a plan in place in the event that something dire and unforseen occurs.

One of the most important things to remember when it comes to public perception is that honesty and transparency is key.  After all, the public is willing to forgive and even forget as long as one is honest about their mistake and takes steps to remedy the problem.  Especially with the wide spread use of the internet these days, if there is questionable behavior or lies being perpetuated, they will be sniffed out.

Let’s use the Tiger Woods debacle as an example.  After the revelation that he had been carrying on copious affairs with multiple women over many years, and after news broke regarding the altercation that he had with his wife, Tiger Woods continued to exhibit what i like to call “Studio Silence”.  Rather than addressing and diffusing the situation in the media with a press statement, Woods’ team chose to ignore the situation and try to remedy it behind closed doors.  Bad strategy my dear.  Although it was a personal matter, Tiger Woods is a very public figure and the assumption of privacy in those situations, unfair or not, is almost non-existent.  i believe Tiger Woods, like Kobe Bryant before him (one could almost forget his Colorado rape snafu – almost . . .) should have quickly released a statement acknowledging the situation and then have asked for the public to respect his privacy during this difficult time (how many times have we heard that statement before?!).  Without a public statement, the media had free reign to run wild with the story and increase speculation that would prove to irreparably damage his image.  And now look, Tiger can’t win a tournament to save his life anymore and has becoming the laughing stock of the golf world.   Was his publicist of vacation or taking a nap during that whole embarrasing situation?  Seems like it.

Perhaps i should give them the benefit of the doubt.  After all, PR firms have even been known to drop high profile clients when they refuse to adhere to their advice.  PR professionals have a reputation to protect as well and cannot be associated with embarrassing situations that they cannot control either.  When R&B singer Chris Brown chose to wreak havoc on the Good Morning America site after an interviewer asked questions he did not want to answer, his publicist Tammy Brook dropped him like a hot potato.  Apparently Tammy didn’t want her good name to go down with that sinking ship.  Smooth move.

Hooray for RSS Feeds!

Ok, I admit it, I had no idea until this week what that little symbol meant until this week.  Many of us have been wasting time emailing ourselves the URL for websites that we have come across that spark our interest.  Sometimes I will tear out an article or write down the name of the company or website and then competely forget why I had bothered to take note of it.  The genius surrounding RSS (Rich Site Summary) feeds is that now you can subscribe to a particular website or blog and any time that site posts new content you will immediately in the know.  Especially for people who are constantly on the go, this service is a true time conserver.

Social bookmarking (also called Social Tagging) sites essentially serve the same purpose but in a different manner.  Want to remember where you saw that article about naturally occurring purple elephants in the wild (a ridiculous example I know, but bear with me)?  Sites like Delicious.com allow you to mark the page for you to revisit in the future.  That way you can prove to your friends that indeed there are such things as purple elephants (which there aren’t although that would be oddly cool). All of your bookmarked sites would appear on a web page where you can organize them by date.  Isn’t technology amazing?

For more information on RSS Feeds and Social Bookmarking, click on the links.

My Top 5 PR Blogs Revealed

As a new blogger, i have been trolling the blogosphere for inspiration and guidance from the most popular PR blogs.  There are hundreds of blogs dedicated to PR related topics.  Many public relations firms have their own company run blogs that serve as a platform for disseminating information about their clients products and services.  While these are interesting to read about new product launches, i am more interested in blogs that offer tips and strategies geared toward seasoned and new PR professionals.  Below i have compiled a list of some of my favorite and most influential PR blogs that everyone should be familiar with.  Since the fashion industry remains my primary interest, i have sprinkled in a few fashion PR blogs throughout this list.  Get to reading folks!!

My Top 5 PR Blogs:

  • Footprints –  A shoes-off, barefoot blog, aiming to help public relations students and young professionals find their paths in the industry.
  • PR Couture – One of my favorite PR blogs, PR Couture explores the ever-evolving role of public relations, marketing and social media in the fashion industry.
  • Pierce Mattie – This blog attempts to stimulate “fuel for thought” about the luxury lifestyle industries and those interested in public relations, branding, new media, marketing and event planning. Their goal is to give bloggers access to the same content and attention that we give mainstream media.
  • PR-Squared – Written by Shift Communication principal Todd Defren, this blog explores the business side of social media and marketing as well as changes in communication strategies.
  • The Future Buzz – The Future Buzz is a digital marketing and social media blog run by communications professional Adam Singer and updated by the entire site’s community of contributors. This blog will help you become successful in spreading buzz online for whatever you’re doing on or off the web. Readers are inspired to think creatively about leveraging the web for their business, art or clients.

For a comprehensive list of the top 100 PR blogs visit Blog Rank.  For a short list of fashion related PR blogs, visit PR Couture.

Create Your Own Persona through Personal Branding

It’s amazing how much bolder we become when obscured by a computer screen.

Have you noticed that some people’s blog comments can be venomously critical and scathing?  Oftentimes, because some people think that they are anonymous online (and this is so clearly not the case. Check out my post about the myth of cyber anonymity), they have the tendency to exhibit awful behaviors that they would not normally if engaged in a face-to-face interaction.  There is definitely a dark side of the internet, but it also allows you to brand yourself however you would like which is pretty cool.  This is the case for a lot of bloggers who have made themselves into an authority on certain topics such as celebrity gossip (think Perez Hilton and Necole Bitchie) or tech products (Michael Arrington- founder of Tech Crunch, Larry Dignan – Editor In Chief of ZDNet.com), or celebrities like Kim Kardashian and her hangers-on.  Even if you aren’t famous or aspiring to be, it is a good idea to create a public persona online.

The important things to think about when creating your personal brand online:

  1. Have a definite direction for your brand and be consistent.  Be sure about what image you want to portray and tailor all communication towards this image.
  2. Control the message at all times.  It is important not to communicate anything that may damage the brand you are creating.
  3. Treat your persona as a business.  Have fun with it but always be cognizant of how it is being perceived
  4. Google yourself (don’t forget Google Image) and find out what is already out there about you.
  5. Have strategies in place to combat anything that may tarnish your image

It is also important to be aware that someone is always looking at you.  That is not meant to be creepy but it’s true.  Many professional recruiters troll the internet looking up potential job candidates by perusing their Facebook pages, etc.  When creating your personal brand, be sure not to create a persona that is at odds with your professional goals.  For example, if you want to spend your days mentoring children it is best not to brand yourself as a sexpot.  I must admit that i am still trying to figure out exactly how I want to brand myself.  My hobbies include all things fashion and entertainment, but how does that exactly translate into a personal brand?  We shall see I guess . . .

I Need A Job! Can Social Media Help?

If you are anything like me (young, about to graduate college, ready to have a career instead of a series of go-nowhere jobs) then you are actively looking for a job in your field of choice.  In fact, this is my primary objective for the next 6-12 months – to find a PR/Social media specialist position within the fashion or entertainment sectors, preferably based in New York City.  We have all heard horror stories about record unemployment and continued lack of job opportunities for young people (see CBS News report – Lack of jobs spawning the “Lost Generation”) so it is no wonder that me and my classmates exhibit some stress when thinking about our next steps after college.  Luckily there are new opportunities being created for social media “experts” spanning many different industries.

Social Media Experts/Specialists –

It is clear that social media has become an integral part of our lives on a global scale.  Although mostly used casually as a way to connect with friends and acquaintances, more and more businesses have a presence on social networking sites than ever before.  They use these sites not only to connect with customers and promote new products/services, but also to field customer complaints and monitor the blogosphere for negative statements about their brand.  Using social media adequately can help a business increase brand awareness and many celebrities have discovered this function and used it often, sometimes to their detriment (Ashton Kutcher anyone?).  Having an expert manage your company’s online presence helps ensure that the brand is being represented in all relevant arenas and that politically incorrect  and other potentially embarrassing statements do not get made.

There is a growing debate online as to whether social media experts are worth employing or not.

Peter Shankman, author of a blog post entitled Why I Will Never, Ever Hire A “Social Media Expert” on Business insider.com argues that social media experts are just online marketers that do not see the big picture.  He claims that most of their job equates to simple common sense and that an integration of traditional marketing methods with social media and word of mouth is the best formula for success in conveying a client’s message.  In an interview on techcrunch.com, all around businessman Gary Vaynerchuk  opined that “99.5 percent of social media experts are clowns” which obviously created a big stir.

Many bloggers and businessmen came to the social media expert’s defense, extolling the merits of their work.  Rand Fishkin, co-founder and CEO of SEOmoz.org shot back with a lengthy blog post detailing the importance of experts as business consultants.  According to Fishkin “Facebook has 600 million users; Twitter’s at nearly 200 million; LinkedIn is over 100 million; Blogs have hundreds of millions of readers and tens of millions of publishers; Tumblr alone has 250 million pageviews in a day and Disqus reaches 500 million visitors each month. Social’s driving an increasing proportion of the web’s traffic, conversions and value. How can anyone logically proclaim that experts are worthless?” He also includes a chart that shows the ‘spheres of social media expertise’ further demonstrating the need for staff that understand the many levels of social media/networking. (Click on the chart for a clearer view)

As part of her blog response to Gary Vaynerchuk’s comments entitled Are Social Media “Experts” Worthless, Sonia Simone, co-founder and CMO of Copyblogger Media, gives her own list of best practices for social media specialists called ‘How to get into the .05%’.  Simone suggests that understanding content marketing strategies and direct response copywriting will help differentiate good social media specialists from the rest.  Also partnering with others who have the skills that you lack helps create a well-rounded team.  As always, being well educated on the newest and most efficient tools and developing specific strategies tailored to the clients needs is key.

I believe that the need for Social media expertise is a great opportunity for young people and college grads with an interest in communication to land a great job.  After all, young people like me have been on social networking platforms like Facebook and Myspace for years and are the earliest adopters of new sites/services like these.  We follow, and more importantly create, trends and know what is hot before the rest of the population discovers it.  HIRE US!!

Check out the links above and be sure to read the comments at the end.  People are really passionate about this subject.

  • What is your opinion on the Social Media expert influx?
  • Do you agree with Gary Vaynerchuk’s opinion that “we are going to live through a devastating social media bubble”?

Online Resources for PR Professionals

With the rapid development of new technologies, it is no wonder that PR professionals have been seeking new tools to help them communicate and maintain relationships more efficiently.  A quick Google search yields many websites and services that the modern PR professional must not only be aware of but well versed in too.  Many of these sites offer their services for free.  Culled from web searches, articles and blog posts on the subject, here are a few of the websites that I believe are most useful:

issuu.com

This free website allows you to create digital look-books, portfolios and media kits with magazine quality.  You can publish your work on the website and browse other publications as well.  issuu.com puts an end to creating and downloading large PDF files and allows you to share your creations on social media sites.

pitchengine.com

Create and distribute pitches for your clients.  This site allows you to add multimedia to your pitches, convert them into a mobile format, and share them on social media websites. According to the company “Your sales flyer, press release or announcement will ooze class. It’s like sexy, stylish business attire for the modern communicator.”  Click on the link to watch a short and informative video about the merits of this site

rapportive.com

Rapportive.com allows you to view your contact’s latest information accross multiple platforms including recent Tweets, Facebook posts and the like.  This description comes directly from Rapportive’s website:

Rapportive shows you everything about your contacts right inside your inbox.  You can immediately see what people look like, where they’re based, and what they do. You can establish rapport by mentioning shared interests. You can grow your network by connecting onLinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and more.  And you can record thoughts for later by leaving notes.  Imagine relationship management built into your email. For free.

Do you know of any other good PR websites and resources?

Please check out the following articles for more useful websites:

5 Free Digital Tools No Fashion PR Should Be Without

10 of the Best Social Media Tools for PR Professionals and Journalists