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 [email protected], 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 3.56: Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson, Pioneers of Podcasting for Communicators

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Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson began their FIR For Immediate Release podcast, in January 2005. And they’ve been podcasting every week since then, making the FIR podcast one of the longest continuous podcasts featuring content for professional communicators. In fact, on the morning that I post this interview, Shel and Neville have just posted episode 732 of the FIR. That’s a lot of content. That’s dedication to the community.

This week on the Inside PR podcast, we have the first of a two part interview Joseph Thornley recorded with Shel and Neville. In today’s installment, we go back to the beginning to talk about how Shel and Neville first got into podcasting. We also talk about how they structure the episodes, pick their content and think about their audience as they produce programs. If you’re interested in what motivates two of the best podcasters and why they’ve kept going over the years, this episode is for you.

When you listen to this, you’ll notice that Joseph Thornley is doing the show solo this week. Gini Dietrich and Martin Waxman took at well deserved Thanksgiving break. They’ll be back in two weeks.

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We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], 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 part of the FIR Podcast Network.

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

Inside PR 3.33: Insight into how to organize a great conference

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Yes, we all love making contact online with people who share our interests. But for Martin, Gini and I, that only feeds our appetite to meet the people in real life after we’ve connected with them online. And what better place to do this than a conference focusing on topics that matter to us?

socap_badgeThere’s just such a conference coming up next weekend on June 1 – the Social Capital Conference. Now in its third year, SoCapOtt has grown in number of attendees and number of sessions and speakers featured each year.

We know first hand how good this conference really is, both from attending and also speaking.  In fact Martin delivered the opening keynote last year and Gini is delivering the opening keynote this year. So, we sought an interview with Karen Wilson, co-founder with Lara Wellman of SoCapOtt and, along with Melany Gallant and Jordan Danger,  one of the organizers of this year’s conference.

In her interview, Karen offers some useful insight to others who might be thinking about organizing a conference. She speaks of mistakes made, lessons learned and the importance of engaging your intended participants in developing themes and content.

And it wouldn’t be Inside PR if Martin, Gini and I didn’t use the topic at hand to riff on a related topic. Martin is leading a session on Social Media goes to College with a panel of people teaching social media. And that gives us a chance to riff on the challenge of locking in course content in an area like social media that changes so rapidly.

But that’s just what we think. We’d love it if you’d listen to the episode and tell us what you think.

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Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], 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 3.32: How do you assign authority and credibility in the era of instant news?

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This week, Gini Dietrich talks about what it was like to be in Europe when the news of the Boston marathon explosion reached her. The reality of knowing almost instantly about something combined with a sense of distance fed by different mainstream media news agendas and the sense of being out of sync that occurs in a different time zone.

How can we assign credibility to sources we encounter for the first time during a fast breaking news event? While mainstream media may occasionally lapse, can the application of professional journalistic practices be counted on to produce more reliable coverage in the whole?

Martin points to the recent AP Twitter hacking incident, which he says drives home the responsibility we all have to approach anything we hear or see with a degree of skepticism.

Joe likens this to moving around in a darkened room. We know we’ve had contact with something, but we can’t really see what it is. Judgment and speculation become overly close neighbors at times like these.

How do you assign authority and credibility in the era of instant news?

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Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], 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 3.31: How are you making your living in the world of integrated communications?

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We’re living in a period of profound change in communications channels and tools. How will you change your communications practices to reflect these underlying changes in the communications networks, expectations and participants? What are the opportunities? What are the challenges?

Gini says that the current set of changes are accelerating a move to agency consolidation that she has been observing since the turn of the century. But while we as professionals are finding ourselves in integrated agencies, we are feeling pressure to become expert in related fields – SEO, content marketing, paid promotion. We have to be able to operated above and across the silos as they break down.

Martin Waxman feels that the greatest challenge for PR practitioners is to break out of the publicist mode once and for all. The move to content journalism and content marketing plays to the PR practitioner’s traditional storytelling strengths. And if you’re looking at your career, don’t disregard this path to the future.

Joe points to the trend to anchor integrated communications in marketing departments and marketing programs, places and activities that measure real results against defined objectives. PR practitioners must become platform agnostic, married not solely to earned media, but open to paid media as well as owned media.

Gini notes that she has seen search firms competing for some of these assignments. The challenge for these firms is that they are great at writing for robots, not for human beings. The complete firm will write for both human beings and the search robots. The success of PR firms or any firm will rest on their ability to pull together in one team the analytic and storytelling skills to offer truly compelling, effective content marketing.

Finally, Martin asks how people will be able to make a living as content creators when online outlets like Huffington Post and Forbes.com pay nothing or very little for quality content. Joe suggests that most won’t. There are few Mathew Ingrams or Om Maliks, few people who have something to say, day in and day out. Most of us write more infrequently on a narrower range of topics. As it ever was, few will make a living directly from their content creation. Most of us will of necessity rely on earning our living in jobs in which we benefit from reputations enhanced by creating and publishing smart content.

Also in this episode, Martin gives a plug to the digital communications class at University of Toronto. The next course starts in May. So, if you’d interested in taking this, contact Martin.

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Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], 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 3.30: If you are not paying for the product, you are the product

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If I live in a luxurious cage, am I any less a prisoner than if I live in a concrete cell?

In this week’s episode of Inside Pr, we talk about the biggest trend social media trend of all: mainstreamification.

As the traditional business models for traditional media wither away, as social media start-ups become mainstream with mass audiences and seek to generate revenue that justifies their sky-high valuations, we have decisively left behind the early social media ecosystem of independent voices and the culture of generosity that nourished it. We’ve left behind the free and self-sufficient connections of self-publishing and replaced them with the dependence on proprietary social networks.

Martin calls this the “mainstreamification” of social media. In five years, he argues, we’ve seen the triumph of the “get if fast, get it first, then get it right” mentality in online news outlets. Both he and Joe point to the large number of voices previously found on independently published blogs who have moved their content onto platforms like Huffington Post or Forbes.com in pursuit of the much larger audiences that those platforms have attracted. They have left behind their independent mindset for a mass media mindset.

We shouldn’t be surprised that these networks put their own business interests ahead of users’ interests. It’s not just one move. It’s a range of moves. It’s Google turning its back on its core Google Reader users and dropping support for RSS feeds. It’s Amazon, the king of the walled garden publishers, taking over GoodReads which, until now had been a champion of the device and platform agnostic publishing. It’s Facebook publishing a start page for Android to entice users of the most open mobile OS into its walled garden.

Social media was born out of our desire to have a voice and to connect with people who shared our interests. It provided us all with a low cost/no cost way to be heard. And as such, it celebrated the niche. It didn’t matter how narrow the audience was. The economics of the platforms and the passion of the users supported interests of all shapes, sizes and natures. No one was unimportant. Everyone was important if they had something to say.

What are the downsides of the mainstreaming of social media? The decline of the niche. The decline of innovation in platforms that serve niche content producers. The era in which voices with something to say mattered – even if they didn’t have a mass audience.

We should not sleep walk into this era of mainstream dominance. Gini points out that the strategies of the dominant platforms give us reason to remember the smaller, independent providers of tools for self-publishing and content discovery and curation. If we are open to examining these options, we may in fact find that they are better.

So, in this era of “mainstreamification,” let’s celebrate the independent voices.

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Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], 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 DietrichJoe 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 3.19: Lots of news in the social space

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In this week’s episode of Inside PR, Gini Dietrich, Martin Waxman and Joseph Thornley talk about a number of things that caught our eye this week.

Google+ Communities

Google has added Communities to its Google+ Network/layer/thingamabobby. Think Yahoo Groups. Discussion groups you set up to discuss specific subjects.

We’ve set up a Community for Inside PR listeners on Google+. If you like the podcast and would like to suggest future topics or discuss each week’s episode, click over to our Google+ Community and join the conversation.

Twitter upgrades(?) with Filters on Photos

Gini Dietrich points us toward Twitter’s move to add filters to photos.

Both Martin and Gini wonder whether Twitter is on the right path – or undercutting itself by moving away from the universal publishing platform to one that emphasizes its proprietary solutions and services.

Facebook drops its commitment to user democracy.

Does anybody care? Was this ever a real thing or did Facebook’s thresholds so high that it simply fed a feeling of powerlessness from the outset?

Lots of questions in a great discussion.

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Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], 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 DietrichJoe 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.

Inside PR 3.18: An eclectic look at different cultures, a new digital strategy certificate and an NPR experiment

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The team is back together and catching up on some exciting events that have happened in the past few weeks.

Gini Dietrich shares her stories of her trip to the great land of Holland. She regales us with tales of her journey to Amsterdam. You will get a little chuckle when you learn why she was thrown out of the red light district.

Gini’s trip also sparks the conversation of how different cultures respond to people in different ways. The hosts talk about the art and culture of listening in different parts of the world, and the importance of being a good and active listener, especially in the industry of public relations and communications.

Martin Waxman announces that he will be part of a new digital and social media program created by the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. They will be launching a three-course Certificate in Digital Strategy and Communications Management in January 2013. The classes are geared to communications and marketing professionals who want to fine tune their skills and learn how to adopt a strategic approach to digital and social networks. You can read his blog post on the program here.

And last, but most certainly not least, Joseph Thornley shares an NPR Facebook experiment that determined what kinds of local stories drive engagement. The result were the following nine type of local stories: place explainers, crowd pleasers, curiosity stimulators, news explainers, major breaking news, feel-good smilers, topical buzzers, provocative controversies, awe-inspiring visuals.

This study can help your organization determine what kind of stories to share to ensure engagement with your local audience.

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Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoe 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.

Inside PR 3.14: Content Marketing Secrets from Lee Odden

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Following up on our last episode, Martin Waxman, Gini Dietrich and Joseph Thornley, talk about another great interview they recorded at the PRSA International Conference in San Francisco.

This week, we feature Joe’s discussion with Lee Odden about his successful approach to content marketing.

Odden is the author of Optimize – ‘How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing’. He is also the CEO of @TopRank Online Marketing, a Minneapolis based digital marketing agency specializing in strategic internet marketing consulting, training and implementation services including: content, search, email and social media marketing.

Joe and Odden talk about the book, the ‘people’ behind the SEO, and how to strategically integrate other distribution channels beyond social media and email marketing to promote your content.

Lee Odden is one of the featured speakers at the 2012 meshmarketing conference in Toronto on Nov. 7.

Inside PR will also be there to talk to more thought-leaders and digital innovators and keep you up-to-date with digital trends in our industry.

Watch the video interview on the Inside PR YouTube channel:

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Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoe 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.

Inside PR and PRSA present: Silver Anvil Awards Finalists – Part 1

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This week, Inside PR and PRSA present a special show where Martin interviews two Silver Anvil Awards finalists.

Scott Brooks is vice president, marketing and communications for IBM Research. He talks to us about Watson, the computer-contestant on Jeopardy that defeated two of the show’s best players. Watson’s technology is based on the concept of  ‘automatic question answering’.  A team of 25 people worked for years to improve the ability of computers to answer questions.  When the communications folks saw the initial results, they realized the PR potential to build awareness and contacted Jeopardy to see if they might be interested in a man-machine competition.

Getting an early start and narrowly targeting their prelaunch outreach was one of the strategies the communications group used  to tell the complex story in long form. About 18 months before the matches, they approached three media influencers, New York Times magazine to write a feature, PBS TV’s Nova to produce a documentary, and author Stephen Baker to write a book.  The three had open access to Watson throughout its development.

The biggest communications risk IBM faced was presenting Watson live on television and not knowing what the outcome would be. Brooks said they made big decisions early on that were game changers including what to name the computer, what kind of voice it would have and what it would look like on stage.  Watson was actually named for for first president of IBM.

Their strategy paid off and Watson garnered prelaunch awareness and much traditional and social media coverage during the matches and after the win.

Kari Mather works as a senior communications consultant in corporate communications at Allstate Insurance Company. (Disclosure Allstate Canada is a Thornley Fallis client though we don’t work with Allstate U.S.)

The company created the Allstate Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, to fund cause-related programs in support of safe and vital communities, safe driving and ending domestic violence.

In this case, they helped the community of Tuscon Arizona build a playground in honor of Christina-Taylor Green, the young girl born on 9/11, who, along with 10 others sadly lost their lives during the shooting that injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Not long after the tragedy, the Allstate Foundation learned the community wanted to commemorate Christina’s short life, stepped forward and granted funding to build a playground at Christina’s elementary school and ensuring her classmates were involved throughout the project.

In addition to the funds, Allstate Foundation was active throughout the design and build, brought in more than 100 volunteers and stood side by side with the community to help bring the Christina-Taylor Green Little Hands playground to life.

What could have been a local story was picked up by local and national media and it became an important milestone in the company’s history as they were able to involve the community, agencies and employees in a cause they really believed in.

This year’s Silver Anvil awards will be presented in New York City on June 7, 2012. Inside PR will be there.

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Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoe Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

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

This week’s episode was produced by Kristine Simpson.