Inside PR 3.55: Agency or in-house? That is our question.

Here we are with our second show on the FIR podcast network.

And this week, we’re not talking about Toronto Mayor Ford’s – er…rather unique – approach to communications. That will come soon.

Gini introduces our topic, which she found via the Vocus content suite she’s testing out; a story about how Visa fired its PR agencies and took the work in house.

Is this a trend?
Gini hopes this won’t continue, but thinks there’s a chance it might. So she’s looking for more signs and wonders if other larger corporations will follow suit or not.

Joe references Dell’s experiment with a purpose-built agency that they started and then abandoned. He doesn’t believe the move to in-house is going to be a trend because agencies bring a broad outside approach, ideas and creativity that is a benefit for clients.

Martin agrees and says the external viewpoint offers a fresh perspective you may not have considered and gives the example that often times what seems like big news to a client may not be to the world and it’s an agency’s job to offer solid counsel and say the things you may not want to hear.

Agencies can also provide insights and analytics that help clients understand whether or not a campaign is a success and why.

We also talk about Twitter’s new Custom Timelines, content streams where you can follow a topic or hashtag and embed the feed on your website or blog. It’s something you could do on Hootsuite within the platform, but now on Twitter, it’s a publicly sharable feed.

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We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

Inside PR is part of the FIR Podcast Network.

Inside PR is produced by Kristine D’Arbelles and Ashlea LeCompte.

Inside PR 3.53: Seed&Spark

This week on Inside PR…

Roving reporter, Martin Waxman, talks to Emily Best, the CEO and founder of Seed&Spark.

Seed&Spark is a one-stop shop where filmmakers can crowdfund, distribute, and interact with their audience and the broader independent film community.

What does this have to do with PR, you ask? Joe Thornley asked that very question and got an answer!

We talk about how much of the social media conversation has devolved into things such as Klout scores. The chat with Emily reminds us there is a higher purpose of being valuable to your community and how we’ve lost that in recent years.

What’s also interesting about Emily’s mantra is the differences between the film industry and marketing. She talks about how the film industry has figured out storytelling, but doesn’t know how to build community and engagement. And marketing can build community and engagement, but hasn’t figured out how to tell compelling stories that aren’t self-centered.

The tie-in, of course, is Seed&Spark. They create the opportunity for the film industry to build fans, along the same model the music industry uses.

It’s an interesting business model and, even if you don’t work within the film industry, has some important content creation and delivery lessons.

Before you take a listen, the two books Joe mentioned are The Whuffie Factor and Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.

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We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

Inside PR is produced by Kristine D’Arbelles and Ashlea LeCompte.

Inside PR 3.52: Buffering an online crisis

What would you do if you discovered your site had been hacked and your community’s data had been compromised? Would you hide and hope the situation would quietly fade away? Let users find out about the issues themselves on social networks? Or proactively inform your users?

It’s hard to believe how many organizations might opt for – or at least consider – the first two options.

With the speed of social media, we all know how quickly issues can turn into full-blown crises if not dealt with immediately and honestly.

And social media platform Buffer chose the proactive approach to deal with the crisis they faced on the weekend when they found a security breach on the site.

This week, we discuss some of the things Buffer did to fix the situation and restore their customer’s trust and the company’s reputation. Their approach is almost a case study in best practices in crisis communications 2.0

Here’s a recap of their actions:

- Buffer apologized and took responsibility early and often. They assumed a leadership role.
- They didn’t make excuses.
- They informed people about the situation with regular emails and posts.
- They spoke candidly about what happened, what they’re doing to correct things and what users needed to do.
- The communicated back to customers often, issuing ongoing updates and status alerts and using email, their blog, Facebook and Twitter.
- They were transparent.
- When things were fixed, they provided instructions about what to do to get reconnected.
- They continued to issue genuine apologies.
- They were focused, well organized and first and foremost paid attention to the needs of their users.

From many of the comments on their blog, it seems as if customers appreciated their honesty and straightforward approach.

What do you think? Are you a Buffer user? How do you think they handled the crisis? Would you have anything else to suggest?

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We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

Inside PR is produced by Kristine D’Arbelles and Ashlea LeCompte.

Inside PR 3.50: Fake Reviewers and the Global Laws

Recently the New York attorney general’s office conducted a year-long sting to find people who are posting fake reviews online in exchange for money.

What they found is there were 19 companies paying anywhere from $1 to $10 per positive review posted. They fined the organizations a combined $350,000 for the unethical work.

Michael Lasky, an attorney who specializes in PR firms, wrote about the undercover operation and provided four lessons for PR professionals, in a recent PR Week column.

The warning is clear: While the sting only looked at SEO firms, PR could be next.

So what does it mean for PR firms?

We already know Wikipedia is adamant against PR professionals posting anything in there on behalf of their clients, unless it’s clearly disclosed. And, ProPublica just came out against the New York Times for not disclosing who helped them with the President Putin editorial (hint: It was Ketchum).

So where is the line?

We know what is black (fake reviews, astroturfing, whisper campaigns) and we know what is white (honesty, transparency, disclosure). But what about the grey?

Say you work for a multi-national company that has offices around the globe. You write a blog post and ask your colleagues to share it on their social networks.

Is that ethical?

Or you have clients who produce content and you ask your team to comment on it and share it.

Is that ethical?

Is it realistic to expect the New York Times or the BBC to disclose the PR firms they worked with on the stories that had some outside influence?

This week’s episode covers these issues and how to tow the grey line.

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We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

Inside PR is produced by Kristine D’Arbelles and Ashlea LeCompte.

Inside PR 3.49: Jay Baer wants companies to be more useful

We’ve talked to author, digital strategist and speaker extraordinaire Jay Baer on Inside PR a few times before. In fact, the first time was after the 2009 PRSA Counselors Academy Conference in Palm Springs that Jay references in the beginning of his new book, Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help, Not Hype (highly recommended by Martin).

Jay is the closing keynote at Meshmarketing conference in Toronto on November 7, so we thought this is a good time to catch up with him and discuss what’s new.

Jay defines youtility, the theme of his book, as creating marketing that has so much intrinsic value people would pay for it. He says many companies are embracing this principle because it helps them break through the clutter we face today.

He encourages businesses to ‘market their marketing’ by developing a launch strategy for their content that leads people to it.

The competitive landscape has altered the information we consume into a mashup of personal and professional sources and Jay he believes businesses need to develop relationships with customers that are similar to the relationship people have with their friends. He calls that friend of mine awareness.

Jay says the PR industry, which became active in social media early on because it understood the importance of stories and relationships, now has to change the way it executes and move from being talkers to skilled makers of content like infographics, videos and white papers. Most PR agencies don’t have makers on staff and have to outsource too much of that work.

Joe experienced the concept of Youtility last week and references a number of blog posts from trusted sources on what we need to know about the new Google algorithm; he received useful information in real-time that helped him.

Gini is surprised businesses are still not creating launch plans for marketing the content they produce in order to help amplify it.

Joe talks about how he’s moved Thornley Fallis into an agency of makers with video, web design and creative people in-house. However, he’s noticed some clients aren’t including PR agencies when they’re looking to develop an integrated campaign and we need to change that.

Gini, who also transformed her firm into a maker agency, agrees and says there’s some confusion on the client side on what we, as new PR agencies, can do.

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We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

Inside PR is produced by Kristine D’Arbelles and Ashlea LeCompte.

Inside PR 3.48: Transparency and Disclosure in Media Relations

On this week’s Inside PR podcast, Martin Waxman, Gini Dietrich and Joseph Thornley tackle an issue raised by Gini in a post on Spin Sucks: disclosure by PR agencies of business interest in media relations pitches. Gini kicks off the conversation by asking the question, “Should media disclose every time they work with a PR person in preparing a story?” Martin tells a story of a lesson earned through experience and Joe argues that the real issue isn’t the activity of PR agencies, but the notion that PR agencies are attempting to influence objective news gatekeepers. And we go from there.

Also this week, Martin also recommends that PR practitioners should take a close look at Google’s recent Hummingbird search algorithm changes.

Finally, in this episode, we talk about taking Inside PR on the road. We’ll be covering MeshMarketing which takes place in Toronto on November 7. If you are a marketer near or in Toronto, this is a conference well worth attending. You can find details on the schedule and registration here.

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We would love your thoughts.

Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

Inside PR is produced by Kristine Simpson and Ashlea LeCompte.

Inside PR 3.47: Viral Videos and What Makes the News

What constitutes news?

Martin Waxman and I talk about what constitutes news and how easy it is to trick not just the Interwebz, but the news media as well.

Case in point: A young woman was practicing her twerking in her apartment when her roommate opened the door into her and she fell onto a coffee table full of lit candles. Her yoga pants caught on fire and the video ends with her screaming and jumping around, trying to put out the flames.

Jimmy Kimmel invited her on the show and it came out the video was a fake, the girl is a stunt actor, and yet…all the news media covered it as if it were a real thing.

As well, The Onion had a piece by Meredith Artley, the managing editor of CNN.com, about why Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance was their top story of the day.

It’s an interesting conundrum. We are attracted to the train wrecks, which create the eyeballs and the clicks, but we complain when the media doesn’t cover the more serious news of the day, such as what’s happening in Syria or Kenya.

So what makes the news? If you are in charge of a brand’s journalism, do you cover what’s important or what drives eyeballs? Do we have a right to complain about the viral videos and twerking if we are more interested in the gossip and train wrecks instead of the hard news?

We would love your thoughts.

Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

Inside PR is produced by Kristine Simpson and Ashlea LeCompte.

Inside PR 3.46: Google introduces In-depth articles

Earlier in the month, Gini wrote a blog post about Google’s In-depth articles. She discovered them when she was doing a search for a client and, in addition to the regular results, noticed a series of three other links listed at the bottom of the page.

She dug a bit deeper and found Google launched In-depth articles in August to feature longer-form content people are talking about – usually from mainstream media outlets.  (Note: a search of ‘google in-depth articles’ did not include any in-depth articles, but did show Gini’s post.)

Recently Google has been using three elements to determine ranking:  recency and relevancy, popularity and authority. Now, in combination with these measures, content creators should consider developing longer-form pieces like ebooks or white papers.

These are more reflective pieces that should demonstrate the writer has done their research, cited credible sources and has the authority to offer a perspective on the topic that adds value.

Agencies and organizations will want to experiment with longer-form articles to determine what works and how it affects the perception and discoverability of their brand.

Joe says it’s interesting to watch where search is heading and recalls that four or five years ago you would get really interesting links when you searched a topic. Now, in top-level searches he’s seeing is the equivalent of ‘network television’ – that is, links from larger outlets rather than the independent voices that often provided a fresh point of view.

Martin wonders whether this is Google’s way to re-legitimize media outlets as publishers and point people back to them.

For our Canadian listeners, In Depth Articles don’t work in Google.ca, so you’ll need to search in Google.com. Right now, it only seems to be for top-level searches.

Are these shifts toward more mainstream results harkening back to the brochure-ware websites we used to find online? What happened to the individual voices we know are out there?  Will the average person understand how to refine their searches in order to find independent voices? What’s the impact on communicators who want to reach a wider audience?

We’d love to hear your ideas on where you think search is heading.

And as we mentioned, here’s the link to the new subscription-based ‘Netflix for books’ app, Oyster.

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Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter. Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer. Inside PR is produced by Kristine Simpson and Ashlea LeCompte.

Inside PR 3.45: Good PR firms evolve

On this week’s episode of Inside PR, Martin Waxman, Gini Dietrich and Joseph Thornley chat about the recent changes in Google’s handling of news releases and the impact that has on PR agencies.

Gini argues that these changes will motivate good PR agencies to become even better. It forces us to go back to basics, to focus on relationships, not on search ranking hacks. Martin suggests that we need to reconsider the concept of “owned media relationships,” that we must look at them as shared relationships with our clients. Joe believes that media relationships always are “functional.” They exist only as long as we can be of value to the journalists at the other end. And we must constantly be focused on what the person at the other end of the line cares about and having something interesting to say about this.

For the past several years, PR pros have been led to play the SEO game to match Google’s rules and guidelines. We succeeded at doing this in the past and we’ll succeed in adopting to the new algorithms. Change isn’t bad for any industry. Change is just bad for those who refuse to learn and change themselves. As Martin says, It’s always time for the PR industry to come up with a better way of doing things.

We also talk about the recent SXSW V2V conference in Las Vegas. Martin attended this inaugural edition of a new conference by the folks who organize Austin’s SXSW conference. And he found it to be a return to the smaller, more intimate gathering of a community drawn together by common interests. Great energy. Much more intimate. Much more like SXSW in its early years. Worth attending this year. Worth considering attending next year.

We close out this week’s episode with a comment from Mark Buell relating to our earlier discussion about protecting your identity online. Mark recommends that you should “regularly check which third party applications have access to your Twitter account. If the service doesn’t require ongoing access (like Hootsuite, Klout, etc.) revoke its access. Third party access is a weak link in your social media security chain.”  Thanks go to Mark for a practical useful tip.

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Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter. Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer. Inside PR is produced by Kristine Simpson and Ashlea LeCompte.

Inside PR 3.43: Online Security for PR Pros

To start, Martin Waxman is gaming his Klout score by using Spin Sucks as his platform. He began with a Klout score of 68, used a guest post to encourage social shares and climbed to 70 before settling on 69.

Learn more about the experiment and what we learned in just a few days about the influence game.

But that’s not the main point of our podcast today.

The point of our discussion comes from a question from Liza Butcher.

She asks:

My Twitter account has been “compromised” three times in the last two weeks. I would love if you could do a show or part of a show on the best way to protect yourself and/or your organization from being hacked or, as Twitter calls it, “compromised.” Do you think this is something that is happening more and more?

As it relates to online privacy, I relate a story that happened with Spin Sucks where we were under attack for more than two weeks. Because we use LastPass to generate our passwords every few days, we lucked out and the worst that happened was the blog was slow. But if it had been two months ago, they would have gotten us for sure.

We discuss what online passwords mean to each of you personally, how to secure yourself, how to use good judgement, and which tools to use.

A special thanks to Liza and to David Jones for their comments.

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Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter. Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer. Inside PR is produced by Kristine Simpson and Ashlea LeCompte.