Inside PR 3.73: Counselors Academy – Agency Lessons Learned

Martin here. This week it’s Gini and me and we’re talking about what I learned at Counselors Academy’s annual conference for PR agency owners and leaders.

We’ve mentioned #CAPRSA before – and as many of you know, it’s the place where Gini, Joe and I met in person, got to know each other and really was the beginning of the current IPR hosting team.

Over the years we’ve interviewed PR and social media thought-leaders and recorded live shows at Counselors. This time, I was there without my two compadres (Noooooo…) so it was up to me to give an update on the event.

Highlights included: keynotes by Shonali Burke and Steve McKee, a talk on creative storytelling by Rob Biesenbach and agency leaders like Brett Werner, Janet Tyler and Lynn Casey on strategies and lessons they’ve learned running successful firms.

And of course, it’s a wonderful opportunity to talk ideas with smart, articulate and friendly people and get re-ignited about agency life.

Congratulations to Tom Garrity, the conference chair, Chuck Norman, the co-chair and the entire conference committee. If you’re an agency owner/leader and you’re looking for a must-attend business event, we think Counselors is something you should definitely consider.

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We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Inside PR is part of the FIR Podcast Network.

Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the FIR Google+ Community, 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.

Thank you to the people behind Inside PR

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

Inside PR is produced by Ashlea LeCompte.

 

Inside PR 372: Mesh Conference with Mark Evans

Mark Evans is a co-founder of mesh conference, which is in its ninth year, and will be held in Toronto on May 27-28.

Roving reporter, Martin Waxman, recently caught up with him.

He began the conversation by talking about the biggest surprises Mark has seen since the conference started.

And, as a former journalist, Martin wanted to know what’s been the biggest change in media since he was writing, and why pitches from PR professionals are still terrible.

Mark handles the latter question extremely well, while providing some great feedback on the things PR pros should consider, even with the immense amount of pressure we face from clients.

They talk about the media stream at mesh, which is the brain child and passion of Matthew Ingram, about the trend toward the new media companies introducing newswires to capture citizen journalists, and the y talk about the conference.

What’s most interesting (as I listened to the interview) is Mark’s take on Neil Harbisson, Mark Little, and Stewart Butterfield.

You’ll find what he has to say about each of these speakers really interesting. He talks about how Neil’s cyborg activism will help you think differently about how you live your life and how you do your job because it gives you a different perspective. How Mark, with the help of Storyful – the company he founded – is standing in the social “grayness” to help us determine what is actually news and what is not. And how Stewart salvaged a business from complete failure by doing a strategic pivot.

It’s a good episode you don’t want to miss!

Disclosure: Thornley Fallis is helping out on the PR for this year’s Mesh conference.

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We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Inside PR is part of the FIR Podcast Network.

Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the FIR Google+ Community, 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.

Thank you to the people behind Inside PR

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 3.71: New makeovers for Google+ and Facebook

MartinGini, and I are back together again for the first time since we got together in Toronto for the launch of Gini’s new book Spin Sucks. (And by the way, if you haven’t had a chance to get your copy, I recommend that you do. It’s an excellent read.”)

This week, we ask, “Would you care if Google plus disappeared?”

Martin likens Google+ to vitamins. He knows that they are good for him, but he must remind himself to use it. It’s not part of his daily routine.

While agreeing with Martin that Google+ is not her first-choice social network, Gini says that Google plus is a large driver of traffic to the Spin Sucks website. So while it’s not necessarily a preferred site for its consumer experience, Google+ definitely does drive benefits to a content marketer.

As I look at my top four destinations, I see a real differentiation between Twitter and Facebook on one hand and Google+ and Feedly on the other hand. Twitter and Facebook are ideal for awareness. They tell me something has happened quickly after it does happen. Feedly and Google+, on the other hand, provide me with more in-depth and thoughtful analysis and commentary on developments that lead to better understanding.

We also talk about the FB newswire.

Gini sees its content as typical of citizen journalism – delivering reports on what people are seeing or experiencing in real time. Martin suggests it may be a lifestyle feed, not a news feed.

We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Would you care if Google+ disappeared?

What about FB Newswire? Have you looked at it? Do you find it useful?

Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the FIR Google+ Community, 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.

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Thank you to the people behind Inside PR

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 is part of the FIR Podcast Network.

IPR special edition: Rob Biesenbach on telling stories

Martin here. I’m getting ready to head off to PRSA Counselors Academy’s spring conference and thought I’d catch up with one of the presenters, Rob Biesenbach. Rob is a communications expert, speaker, writer and actor who is ‘fighting to end dull ordinary communications in our time’.  (But he doesn’t have a cape.)

At Counselors, Rob’s going to be talking about how to Unleash the Power of Storytelling to build trust and win business.

He says most people play fast and loose with the definition of story and don’t understand its distinct structure: a character, in pursuit of a goal, in the face of some sort of obstacle.

Stories aren’t a quote from Winston Churchill or a customer testimonial.

Rob likens our job as communicators with acting: both require you to connect with your audience, tell a story well and express yourself. Too many businesses compare themselves to other businesses – when they should be looking to and learning from show business, where the most powerful stories in our culture can be found.

Rob is also doing an Ingnite style presentation based on his new book, 11 Deadly Presentation Sins.

He talks about the three he thinks are the worst:

  • Failure to connect with an audience
  • Failure to focus
  • Doing a data dump rather than a story that’s filled with emotion.

And when it comes to PowerPoint, he cautions us that when you see ‘insert text here’ on a slide, it’s a suggestion, not a command.

Want to hear more? You can catch Rob at Counselors Academy or check out his website.

And if you’re interested in Counselors Academy and the other presenters, you can follow the hashtag on Twitter #CAPRSA.

Gini and Joe will be back next episode.

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We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Inside PR is part of the FIR Podcast Network.

Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the FIR Google+ Community, 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.

Thank you to the people behind Inside PR

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

Inside PR is produced by Ashlea LeCompte.

Inside PR 3.70: Tom Garrity on PRSA Counselors Academy Conference

It’s Martin semi-solo, this week; Gini and Joe are off.

I’m here with Tom Garrity, president of The Garrity Group and chair of the PRSA Counselors Academy conference for PR agency leaders, which takes place in Key West, Florida, May 4 to 6.

Tom and I start off by chatting about how some PR specialists are also hot air specialists. Actually that’s not quite true. We got on the subject because Tom’s agency represents the Alburquerque International Balloon Festival, one of the more visually exciting events around.

If you follow Inside PR, you’ll know we’ve discussed Counselors Academy before – that’s where Gini, Joe and I met. We’ve been to the event many times, recorded a few episodes there and I was conference chair in 2012.

I’ve said this a number of times: CA is my one must-attend PR gathering of the year, a chance to meet and get to know a smart, friendly and lively group of PR agency movers and shakers.

Unlike other conferences, Counselors is focused on the business of running a PR agency and provides an opportunity to take part in top notch professional development and lots of idea-sharing over casual conversations, coffee or drinks.

This year, one of Tom’s highlights is the closing presentation at Hemingway House, with keynote speaker and ad agency owner Steve McKee, who offers insights from his new book, Power Branding: Leveraging Success of the World’s Best Brands.

Other keynotes include 9 INCH marketing founder Stan Phelps talking about branding and strategic marketing and Shonali Burke on successfully integrating research into your PR plans and pitches.

Tom’s also looking forward to the Bold Moves session – raw conversations about major changes agency owners made in order to transform their business. It’s a Ted X type format moderated by past Counselors chair and Mitchell Communications CEO Elise Mitchell. Speakers include Aaron Blank, president and CEO, The Fearey Group, Lynn Casey, chairman and CEO, PadillaCRT, startup entrepreneur Forest Featherstone and Janet Tyler, founder and co-CEO, Airfoil.

There’s a round of short Ignite presentations, breakout workshops, roundtables and a Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Tom recommends Counselors because it always helps him improve his agency and fill in what he doesn’t know.

Here’s where to go for the schedule. There’s still a bit of time to register if you’re interested. Or you can follow the hashtag on Twitter #CAPRSA.

I’ll be there and will interview some of the presenters for upcoming episodes of Inside PR. Stay tuned.

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We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Inside PR is part of the FIR Podcast Network.

Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the FIR Google+ Community, 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.

Thank you to the people behind Inside PR

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 3.69: Behind-the-Scenes of Spin Sucks

We have a very special guest on today’s Inside PR.

She is someone near and dear to my heart, both personally and professionally.

She was with me in Toronto a couple of weeks ago for Third Tuesday and we caught up with her to talk blogging, editorial calendars, and community.

That person is the one and only Lindsay Bell-Wheeler, the content director for Spin Sucks.

Lindsay and I have worked together for nearly two years and have evolved the blog from a top 25 contender to one of the top (or the top, depending on which list you look at) PR blog in the world. She also manages the strategic content direction for our clients and coaches a team of writers and editors.

I let Joe and Martin lead the conversation, but managed to get in a few quips of my own.

She didn’t know she was going to be a guest on the show (I know how stressed out she would have made herself had I told her) so her comments, jokes, and wit are completely off-the-cuff…and brilliant.

I’m excited to introduce you to her and excited for you to learn more about the behind-the-scenes happenings of the crazy place we call home.

Enjoy!

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We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Inside PR is part of the FIR Podcast Network.

Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the FIR Google+ Community, 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.

Thank you to the people behind Inside PR

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 368: Spin Sucks!

Spin sucks! You know it and I know it. And Gini Dietrich knows it. But even more, Gini has written a new book, Spin Sucks, in which she shows us how to replace spin with authentic communications that your community will find informative, entertaining and useful.

Spin Sucks the Book has just launched. And in this week’s episode of Inside PR, Martin Waxman and I talk with Gini about the book, what it tells us, and her innovative approach to marketing the book. (If you know Gini, you wouldn’t expect anything less from her than to turn the launch of her book into a marketing experiment. She’s always thinking of how to do things better.) This included a Brand Ambassador program to spread the word about the book so that Gini could maintain a much more limited travel schedule to promote Spin Sucks than she had to maintain when promoting her previous book, Marketing in the Round. Over 800 people applied to be a Brand Ambassador, agreeing to buy the book and write a review to coincide with the launch date. Ultimately, she selected over 200 of the applicants to be Ambassadors.

If you wonder what type of results Gini got from this approach, check out the quality of the reviews on Amazon.com. High quality, Well written, persuasive reviews from people who’ve read and loved the book. (At the time I write this, there are 76 reviews of Gini’s book. Sixty five are 5 star and eleven are four star. It doesn’t get much better than that.)

Gini will be launching Spin Sucks in Canada at Third Tuesday Toronto on April 7 and Third Tuesday Ottawa on April 8. There are still a small number of tickets available. So if you’d like to meet Gini and get a signed copy of the book click on one of the following links to register for Third Tuesday Toronto or register for Third Tuesday Ottawa.

Also this week, we had a listener comment from Charlene Burke about the use of LinkedIn.

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We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Inside PR is part of the FIR Podcast Network.

Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the FIR Google+ Community, 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.

Thank you to the people behind Inside PR

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 367: Reflections on SXSW and PressFriendly

Martin here.

When we recorded this show, I’d just returned from SXSWi and I offer my thoughts reflections on this year’s Festival.

There’s no doubt SXSW remains a one-of-a-kind event with a unique laid-back energy and excitement for all things tech and social. That’s something you see first-hand watching the featured speakers and keynotes and in many of the smaller sessions, too.

And while there weren’t any big new platform launches in 2014, there was a lot of big thinking.

SXSW is still a defining event. Yet with so many people and ideas in one place it can seem a bit overwhelming. Before you go, do your homework and figure out what you want to see and do and who you want to meet; the Festival offers such a friendly, open vibe, you can meet anyone.

And if you’re looking for a more intimate conference with the South-by feel, check out the second annual SXSW V2V in Las Vegas that happens in July.

You can read more about my SXSW highlights on the TFC blog.

Oh and here’s Kevin Bacon’s hilarious video explaining the ’80s to millennials.

In the second part of the show we talk about PressFriendly.

After receiving a pitch, Gini asked Laura Petrolino to test out the product and Laura wrote about it on SpinSucks. Essentially PressFriendly helps automate media relations. It’s aimed at startup entrepreneurs who are frustrated with the PR experience and want to try it on their own.

Gini feels they have the right thinking but that it’s difficult to automate relationship-building. She also wonders if reaching out to media and bloggers is the best use of an entrepreneur’s time or if they’d be better off hiring a professional.

Joe’s not sure building a media list should be handed to the most junior person or to an algorithm. That can lead to spammy pitches that hurt the reputation of the entire industry.

Finally, I mention that one of the students in my UTSCS hybrid Foundations Course produced a video, Joey Loves Water, and it went viral. It was part of her class assignment and as of this writing, she has nearly 200,000 views.

Joe notices the video has been picked up on a lot of cat sites as well as on Huffington Post. Once it got on the circuit, he observes, you can almost trace its virality by seeing which sites help amplify and pass it along.

The lesson? Ditch the corporate spokesperson and bring in a cat. Or…maybe not.

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We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Inside PR is part of the FIR Podcast Network.

Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the FIR Google+ Community, 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.

Thank you to the people behind Inside PR

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 366: Kelly Blazek, LinkedIn Connections, and Proper Communication

Martin Waxman is back and we are grateful because he is much better at the intro and closing than Joe Thornley and me.

We kick the show off by talking about the Kelly Blazek crisis situation that happened a couple of weeks ago.

As a quick refresher (or the story, for those of you who missed it), the 2013 Cleveland Communicator of the Year received an email from a young professional who is moving to Ohio and searching for a job.

Because Blazek runs the 7,300 member marketing job board for the Cleveland area, this young woman sent her a LinkedIn message, explaining who she was, her business expertise, and what kinds of jobs she could do. She then asked to join the jobs board.

What she received from Blazek, in return, was both unprofessional and … strange … for a communicator.

Kelly-Blazek-Response-to-Diana-Mekota

While we don’t beat this horse to death, it did create an interesting conversation about LinkedIn and how we each use the tool.

As it turns out, we have three different uses for it: Ambivalence, referrals, and contact management, which makes it an interesting look at how there really is no right way or wrong way to use social media. Except to not take your bad day out on someone asking or help.

Martin also mentions he hates the generic LinkedIn requests. You know the one. The, “I’d like to add you to my professional network” with no mention on how you know the person or why you’d like to connect.

He also talks about his pet peeve, which is people who have never worked with you asking you to write a recommendation.

After you listen, we leave the floor to you. What are your personal rules about LinkedIn connections?

P.S. While Terry Fallis’s new book, No Relation, doesn’t come out until May, as is his modus operandi, he is podcasting it for you ahead of time. Check it out!

************************************************************************************************

We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Inside PR is part of the FIR Podcast Network.

Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the FIR Google+ Community, 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.

Thank you to the people behind Inside PR

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 365: MasterCard ties one on, Facebook going mobile and the New Klout

Gini Dietrich and I do a two-hander in this episode as Martin is on a train with only spotty online access.

This week we talk about MasterCard’s aggressive PR tactics around the Brit Awards, more evidence that we’re all going mobile and the New Klout.

MasterCard ties one on

Gini pointed to MasterCard’s efforts to tie  coverage of MasterCard to access to the Brit Awards. Dominic Ponsford detailed exactly what happened, from the PR company’s suggestion that access would be tied to agreement to mention MasterCard through the reactions to the Twitter backlash.

Ponsford published the text of an email to a reporter in which MasterCard’s PR company asked reporters to agree to tweet MasterCard messages in their feeds. The PR company went so far as to suggest content for tweets before, during and after the event:

Pre event – e.g. Really excited to be heading down to @BRITAwards tonight with @MasterCardUK #PricelessSurprises

Event night – live tweeting from the event including @MasterCardUK handle and #PricelessSurprises and to retweet @MasterCardUK tweets throughout the night where appropriate

Post event – tweet directing followers to @MasterCardUK BRITs YouTube videos

Needless to say, this prompted a backlash, with Twitter comments like this:

The managing director of the PR agency didn’t back down, arguing that:

“The role of the PR agency is to pursue all coverage opportunities on behalf of its clients. This includes providing accurate brand references from the outset, for use across all platforms. It is a two-way conversation between the journalist and the PR in order to reach a mutually beneficial outcome. Editorial control always remains with the journalist.”

Gini and I discuss our views about this type of tactic. Gini sees this as an illustration of the fine line between legitimately promoting an event and the questionable offering of a benefit for coverage.

I see it as a clear example of tied coverage. “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. You give me reference to my client and I will give you access to the awards.”  Yes we have seen this before. Think of auto journalists flown to exotic locations to review new cars. But in recent years, the trend has been against these kinds of junkets, with many news organizations telling their staff to refuse the benefits. “You can’t blame a guy for trying. But you can blame the other guy for playing along.”

What do you think of MasterCard’s media relations approach? Too cheeky? Or taking fair advantage of the an opportunity. Or somewhere in between.

Canadians go mobile with Facebook

The world truly is going mobile. New stats out of Facebook Canada indicate that Facebook Canada is making more money on mobile devices than on PCs and stationary devices. Of Facebook’s nineteen million Canadian users, ten million check their Facebook account once a day via mobile versus only four million who check it daily from non-mobile devices like desktops.

To me, this just underscores the importance of think mobile first. If you are thinking about communicating with people primarily in front of PCs or laptops, you’re failing to follow the audience where they’ve actually gone. They are looking at the mobile devices in their hand.

Gini cautions against following an overall trend without looking at your specific circumstance. In her experience, many sectors are lagging behind in the move to mobile, with many of her clients’ sites continuing to receive the majority of their traffic from desktop applications. It’s important that you know where your traffic is coming from. So check your analytics.

A New (Improved?) Klout

And finally, we discuss the new Klout. Gini finds it useful, because it surfaces content from people with whom she already engages. Gini also finds the measurement tab to be useful in that it’s suggests which individual pieces of content have generated the greatest engagement. For my part, I find the metrics to be even more dumbed down than they used to be and of the dubious value. It appears to me that Klout is positioning itself as a tool to assist content creators in competition with established players like HootSuite or Buffer.

What do you think? Is the new Klout a step forward or moved to irrelevance?

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We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Inside PR is part of the FIR Podcast Network.

Send us an email or an audio comment to insideprcomments@gmail.com, join the FIR Google+ Community, 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.

Thank you to the people behind Inside PR

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

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