Category Archives: social media

sweat-intern

Interns BTI (Before the Internet)

Our agency just had its fourth intern finish her program with TC Public Relations. Jessica’s leaving was bittersweet. Bitter because our interns do very important work that helps the account executives get the job done and sweet because we celebrated her time here with an ice cream cake.

I remember my first internship. I was finishing a degree in audio-visual communications (read slide shows, not PowerPoint, and 3/4 inch video decks, not Flip cameras) with an internship at the local ABC television station in Rochester, New York. One of my jobs as a production assistant was to carry around a video deck that must have weighed about 35 pounds (or about 50% more the current weight of my 16 month old daughter). Part of that job was to guide the camera person when walking backwards for walking interviews. Often I had to make sure the camera person did no step into a pile of dog poop. These dog poop avoiding skills have helped throughout my career.

So what does this have to do with public relations interns of the 21st Century? While the sugar buzz from the ice cream cake is still with me, let me share the connections:
  • Interns still need to do heavy lifting: While our interns may only know Flip and Web cameras, they need to wade through tons and tons of social media opportunities (think YouTube as the second largest online search outlet) for our clients to find just the right connection points between our clients and their future customers.
  • Interns still need to follow (and lead) the people who have the experience: I’ve been in public relations for more than 20 years, so I know that when I take the time to mentor the interns, I can give them valuable insights into the business world that transcends technology and share life experiences that they can take to their next job. In exchange, the interns that grew up in a digital world can lead me and help me learn what it’s like to have a life that is more centered on social media than the society pages of a print newspaper.
  • Interns Still Need to Dodge the Poop: Yes, I know the public relations industry is changing rapidly, and yes, I know that much of the economy is still on life support, but so what? One of the last things I shared with the intern before she left was the quote “These are the best of times, these are the worst of times.” And despite the media’s year-long obsession with the 10% unemployment rate, 90% of people ARE working! So I want good interns (we’ve always had the best thanks to our internship coordinator) to know that when they do a good job at TC Public Relations they should be able to pursue the 90% opportunity not the 10% of poop.

While I am still learning what public relations 2.0 or 5.0 should look like for our agency, the value of interns that meet the demands of the times are priceless. Now, let’s see if any ice cream cake is left to fuel me through another blog post.

lawyers-social-media

True or False: Corporate Counsel is to Social Media Like Oil is to Water

I’ve been searching for something related to public relations that will transcend time and technology and I’ve FINALLY FOUND IT: lawyers’ opinions. Over the years, there has been a polite conflict between corporate public relations professionals and corporate lawyers.

These two friendly adversaries debate whether t0 stay quiet verses almost absolute transparency, which the public craves. The PR people want let the truth be known, the lawyers don’t want to get sued.

I came across an article at Ragan.com titled: “Can Legal, communicators reach accord on social media?” An attorney at Dickinson, Mackaman, Tyler, & Hagen listed five things lawyers look for in social media:

1. Use properly attributed content (our PR agency works for a personal injury attorney and on THREE occasions we found other law firms stealing this attorney’s online content, including copying every word from his blog postings).

2. Avoid unfair or deceptive trade practices (At TC Public Relations, we’ve had to tell one legal client that words like “best,” “expert” and bragging about successes could get you successfully busted by the state agencies that regulate attorney marketing. It might also get your Wikipedia listing shut down).

3. Remember the FTC guidelines (basically, if you give something free to a blogger and they review it, they need to disclose it. As a practical matter, if I’m working with an experienced blogger, I’m NEVER going to tell them about ethical guidelines they should already know about. It’s my job to pursue ethical bloggers for our clients).

4. Will you allow feedback, comments or trackbacks? (I believe if you’re blogging you MUST keep the comment option ON. That’s like inviting someone to a party and telling them to have a good time but keep their mouth shut).

5. Have a crisis communications plan in mind (You might recall the YouTube video of the Domino’s Pizza employees spitting in the food and shoving cheese up their nose before putting it on a sandwich. While the legal department can look into filing a suit, there is really very little the law can do to prepare for this, except make social media guidelines clear in the employee manual and hope for the best).

So for those of you who are wondering where’s the PR Laugh is, it’s two sources (Ragan.com and Dickinson, Mackaman, Tyler, & Hagen) cited in this article. Neither had readily available links for me to connect this post with. Hey, I gave them credit, so I’m trying to follow the rules. Now I hope they reach out to me and give me the links.

snake

Social Media Snakes for Lawyers

Disclaimer, putting the words “snakes” and “lawyers” in the same line was not meant to degrade lawyers (ha, ha). Since I’ve worked on public relations campaigns for lawyer for years, I would not want to bite the hand the feeds me. However, the problem is that over those years, I’ve seen lawyers jump on the marketing bandwagon in a big way. So much so, that they’ll try almost anything from buying overpriced website design services to hiring people to ghost write their blogs.

There’s a LinkedIn group called Legal Blogging that has a discussion going about a BusinessWeek article titled Beware Social Media Snake Oil. The dialogue was started by a thought leader in this area, Kevin O’Keefe.
As a matter of disclosure, our agency helps our clients through the social media maze. However, we do disclose that while we can measure results, measuring the primary result with ROI in dollars is difficult. That’s because too often our clients don’t track all their business leads that come as a direct or indirect result from public relations or a social media campaign.
For fun, I went to YouTube and searched for videos on “social media for lawyers.” At the top of this was this:

Talk about irony, this “expert” video is a talking head that gives nothing more that few tips. And it does not make clear the ROI. This video reminds me of what I see being sold to lawyers: social media utopia for business development.

The PR laugh for me is that lawyers, highly skilled and skeptical professionals, sometimes fall for these “snake oil” sales pitches. Why? Not because they are not intelligent, but because in recent years their business has been down like other professional services company and they are desperate and feel that social media is the sure shot short cut cure.