Sunday, November 16, 2008

Need your help: Read this social media plan and let me know what you think.

(Note from me: I'm a general PR person working for a nonprofit and social media is relatively new to me. So I really need your help. This is a proposal I plan to submit to our nonprofit to bring us into the social media realm. Please take a look -- it's unusually long -- and let me know what you think. Let me know what I can nix and what I'm missing. Thank you!)

Social Media Strategy: Why start? How do we get in the conversation? What’s the plan?

I. WHY START?

We’re on YouTube now and will soon have an athlete blogging. And there’s more we can do to draw in more participation and donations. Here are the numbers we can eventually reach: Blogs in general receive 77.7 million unique visitors in the United States (source: comScore MediaMetrix (August 2008); Facebook has 41 million viewers, YouTube gets 10 percent of all internet traffic (Ellacoya Networks). We’re always looking for new supporters – this would open up our access. We could even e-mail some after developing relationships and ask if we can have their e-mail addresses so they can receive our monthly e-newsletter and e-mails from us.

II. WHAT ARE WE STARTING?

The biggest sites we should target are Facebook, Twitter, and Flikr all of which are offered for sharing on the Good 2Gether program. We should also try a fundraising site called Chip In for one or several small fundraising goals throughout the year.

About Facebook www.facebook.com Launched in 2004, Facebook is the second largest social network on the Internet. Users have profiles, where it’s recommended that even for organizations, to post a photo of the actual user instead of the organization so people aren’t turned off. You can add friends. You can post updates to what you’re working on or what’s happening, post photos and comments on other people’s pages. Users also post events and invite friends online where friends can RSVP. We can also post comments on friends’ pages, answer and ask questions, and hopefully friends (or “advocates”) will post good comments on our page. Every time either you or a friend posts, all of their friends and yours see the post. Users can also download blog posts. And as we join groups with similar interests and make comments on pages, our name gets out there even more.

About Twitter www.twitter.com Social media observers estimate 3 million people use Twitter, which debuted in March 2006. Industry influencers, press, analysts, celebrities, authors, politicians, businesses, consumers, and professional communicators, are on Twitter.

Twitter users are asked “What are you doing?” when writing a 140-character message letting people know about an event, or reinforcing your brand, or links to tips for your audience, a relevant video or blog of interest. This taps you into the community you want to reach by providing helpful information and not just making an ask.

We can link back to articles in the local media or our supporters’ blogs, and introduce potential story ideas about new programs or an athlete’s achievement.

About Flikr www.flikr.com Flickr is a popular image and video host mostly free Web site. Users share photos. Bloggers can also use Flickr and post a stream of photos on their blogs and Web sites. We can even get a Flikr badge for our Web site where people can click on it and see our photos. It also has a friend aspect to Flikr where your Flikr friends have access to your photos and they can make comments.

About Chip In (from Beth Kanter’s ChipIn Widget Fundraising Case Study http://widgetfundraising.org)

This is a site where nonprofit groups, especially small ones, can set and broadcast fundraising goals to friends in its social network. We create an account, fill out an online form stating what we’re collecting for, how much we want to raise and state a deadline. Organizations are required to have a PayPal account. We can insert the html of donation forms in our Web site or create a ChipIn page at specialolympicsga.chipin.com. The idea is to set small goals. We could do this on our event pages for something specific or just post one fundraising goal at a time. This isn’t meant for huge donation campaigns but still can be profitable. (Maybe Susan can spearhead this part of the social media plan??)

III. HOW DO WE GET INTO THE CONVERSATION? (From Social Media kingpin Chris Brogan

1. Find the constituent: Assign two people to build listening queries, daily update pages and regularly measure social media efforts (explained in section V).

2. Announce the new rules for employees: Create a one page outline of SOGA guidelines (and insert it in the employee handbook) for building employee profiles on social platforms like Facebook. Work with IT on firewall concerns. Determine a fair use policy during work hours.

3. Empower the person making the social media updates: Write a one page blogging policy (no more strict than the e-mail policy). Create policies on comments (including how to handle negative comments). Build a strategy on the types of posts, ideas for outreach, promotion and finding similar blogs and people in the space.

4. Shift Behavior: Demonstrate through case studies and pilot efforts how to empower employees to be helpful. Share examples and ideas on how these efforts can positively impact marketing/sales efforts.

5. Warm up the funnel: Build a way to report the multi-touch approach of using social tools to reach out and maintain relationships with prospects and customers.

6. Measurement: Improve current reporting to include the social elements such as comments, inbound links, search term value, etc. (Tools will be discussed in section V.)

IV. How much time will it take?

Recommended time it takes from Beth Kanter who helps nonprofits fundraise through social media. We can cut it down significantly and practice successful time management. J

- Listening to what is being said about Special Olympics Georgia, SO in general, pro sports and intellectual disabilities (through Twitter alerts, Technorati and others) 5 hours per week

- Participate and connecting with others online and communicating with bloggers first and then ask some of them to write about SOGA. 10 hours per week

- After we earn credibility and trust (by not making huge asks right off the bat) we can start spreading buzz. 10-15 hours per week.

More specifically:

Listening and updating Twitter 15 minutes per day

Facebook: Set up page 20 minutes; listening and updating 20 minutes per day.

V. How do we measure our efforts?

The results will be small at first but will grow over time with the more connections we make online. Every week we can listen to what people are saying about us through:

http://blogsearch.google.com

http://www.technorati.com

http://search.twitter.com

tweetbeep.com Alerts will be e-mailed when someone mentions our organization.

Twitscoop

(Tips for measurement come from Brian Solis and Chris Brogan.)

We’ll record findings monthly and report twice a year to CEO and possibly at staff meetings.

VI . What’s the plan?

(The action items listed each month isn’t everything. Also sprinkle in thank you’s during golf tournaments and tweet about check presentations and athlete stories that you hear about.)

December 2008: Announce social media rules to staff, give policy to comments and posts to social media updaters.

-Create Facebook page. Use your photo for the organization’s profile. May need to nix the Facebook profile page, and stick to creating and updating an organization fan page. Post photos of last year’s Winter Games and events, and start making friends.

-Create SOGA Twitter page. Mix in personal messages with work or issue related ones. Personal musings are good too, just remember you’re representing our company. Be mindful of tweets, updates and posts. For the profile photo, choose one from the person in charge of posting.

Stuff to Tweet about: personal thoughts or reflections that suit our brand, events, contests, reply to other people’s tweets, blog posts, also promote others’ blog posts (this is a good relationship building tool), announcements, funny things you overhear people say at the office, link to fun Internet games, and lyrics or quotes (This comes from the CEO of Zappos, who loves Twitter!)

-To find friends: Whoshouldifollow.com allows us to find friends based on keywords and certain networks

-Twubble http://crazybob.org/twubble/searches for people you know and recommends people you may want to follow.

-Ask CEO to create her own Twitter page. Comment a few times a week. She could post when she’s speaking at a conference or to a civic group, when she wants to thank a sponsor or company for anything or kudos to a company (sponsors) project or a headsup when she’ll be on the radio or TV.

Here’s what the CEO's Twitter page could look like:

Loader

Twitter.com

http://s3.amazonaws.com/twitter_production/profile_images/52942196/tony_CEO_bigger.gifzappos

followingFollowing

You follow zappos
zappos's updates appear in your
timeline.

Device updates

On Off Receive zappos's updates via SMS or IM (activate).

Headed to Winter Park near Orlando because people keep telling me to check it out. Anyone have any restaurant or bar recommendations there? about 18 hours ago from txt

Just got confirmation that Oprah will be airing the Zappos story next week on Thursday, October 23! Same episode as the Olsen twins. 5:20 PM Oct 17th from web

Lunch at ANA conference with editorial page editor & various SVP's from New York Times. I'll be speaking after lunch to about 1000 people. 11:38 AM Oct 17th from txt

Got into hotel late in Orlando so ordered room service. First time I've ever seen any place automatically add 21% for gratuity. 10:43 PM Oct 16th from web

Spoke at @bif4 conference today, met lots of smart, passionate & interesting people! Now at Providence airport about to fly to Orlando. 3:38 PM Oct 16th from txt


January 2009: -Facebook and Twitter: Tweet about how great it is to be a fan in the stands at one of our events. Tweet about fundraising program for the month. On Facebook, invite people to the February event.

-Record company mentions and traffic.

-Tweet about athletes heading off to World Games. Tweet as a headsup of TV news stories, link to stories

February2009:- Create Flikr account and start inviting friends

- Post photos of Winter Games on Flikr, Facebook.

-Tweet updates of athletes’ competitions at World Games. Share photos.

-Group Tweet http://grouptweet.com/ allows us to broadcast and share tweets (messages) to a specific group. And it’s free. Group tweet about the statewide March event or link to Flikr photos from Winter Games.

-Remember to monitor organization mentions in blogs and on Twitter.

March 2009-Post a badge of Flikr linking to our photos on the company Web site. Also post a stream of photos on our Web site, possibly replacing the photo gallery

-Tweet and Facebook about the March fundraiser, post event photos on Flikr and Facebook.

- Wendy needs to visit Twittertise http://twittertise.com/ and see how we can advertise on Twitter and track the success of branded communications with our constituents. The platform helps us track technology to measure the effectiveness of our traffic driving ability.

-Post event on Facebook about the bocce fundraiser. Post a quiz on Twitter where the winner wins a free ticket to the event.

April 2009 – Follow-up with Facebook on possibly having a $1 free gift a duck or medal where a portion of the amount collected goes back to our company.

- Check into Chip In and create an account, also with Paypal. Consider either creating a fundraising goal for one event or for each event during the year. It might be better to run a pilot in one fundraiser in 2009. Possibly, post a fundraising goal for State Summer Games and link from several locations on our Web site. Also can post link or embedded donation form through Chip In for events for the remainder of 2009.

- Make an announcement about the Chip In campaign on blog, or note in Facebook and Tweet about it.

- If we choose to have a Chip In campaign for each event, the event’s organizer should e-mail contacts, letting them know about the new campaign.

- Remember to monitor and measure social media efforts with the sites listed in section V.

- Remember to add friends in Facebook and Twitter.

- Link video from last summer games to Flikr and Facebook.

May 2009-Continue to build relationships on Twitter, Facebook and invite more friends into Flikr. Post photos of Summer Games 2009 on Facebook and Flikr.

-Tweet links of Summer Games news stories

-Link to Dutch Walters site of Summer Games photos.

-Start tweeting, writing about Duck Derby in Facebook. Invite people to Duck Derby on Facebook.

-E-mail 10 people in each event (not the same people) to donate $10 each to help complete the Chip In campaign.

-Send e-mail thank you’s to people who donated through Chip In. Include photos in the thank yous.

-Remember to thank everyone in a blog and Facebook note when a campaign ends.

June 2009-Post Master Bowling event on events, tweet about it.

-Prepare a social media status six months report for CEO. Invite SOGA friends on FB to DSA.

-Invite people to Duck Derby again on Facebook. Tweet updates on duck sales, or where we’re selling ducks.

July 2009- Post photos of Masters Bowling on Flikr and Facebook; tweet about Masters Bowling.

-Tweet links of athlete news stories.

August 2009-Post some photos of DSA winners on FB and Flikr, tweet some of the sweetest moments.

- Post an event about the Duluth Tournament, maybe Tweet about how we’re doing on golfer numbers.

-Record results of media efforts.

September 2009-Post event about the DinoDash, tweet about a sponsor and or/product, post event about State Fall Games. Invite people to volunteer on Facebook.

- Post a note about the October golf tournament a Georgia golfer’s group page on Facebook.

October 2009-Post photos of Fall Games on Flikr, Facebook.

-Tweet some of the athlete’s accomplishments at State Fall Games in Statesboro, say something nice about Statesboro.

-Record results from social media measurements.

-Tweet about athletes preparing for the State Horse Show, Sailing Regatta and Powerlifting

November 2009- Post photos of athletes from the Horse Show, Sailing, and Powerlifting

-Prepare report to CEO on the year’s efforts in Social Media.

-Tweet some inspiring athlete stories.

-Write a status update letting people know they can make a donation in memory or in honor of someone.

December 2009

-Present the year’s report of our efforts with social media.

In 2010 check out BrightKite. It’s kind of a new type of social media like Facebook and Friendfeed. But is expected to be very useful later on.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

You want this puppy, yes, you do. Michael Vick, I don't mean you.

I know, I knowI don't like to hear about homeless puppies either. But animal people, when you hear of a little one needing help, you have to at least pass the info along . . .
My childhood friend Sarah found this seven-week old American Pitbull Terrier in the Atlanta-area without her mama.
She likes dogs, even if they are bigger than her.









She can live indoors and likes to explore.

Sarah said the following about the puppy:
"She's your typical puppy in that she falls all over herself when running. She follows my big dog around all the time and is quite willing to be carried around by Emma [Sarah's two-year-old]. She's very respectful of my older girls [older puppies :)] and listens when they tell her to back off. She likes to cuddle and gets in between the couch cushions to sleep."
She's a curious little puppy and appreciates nature.
There's a lot of info about these dogs and they require space to run and supervision with animals and with the right socialization they're sweeter than most. Check out these links. Dog owner's guide. A-Z info about the animal.

Shoot me an e-mail if you're interested in the puppy. I'll pass along your info to my friend. There may be an interview.


































Monday, September 1, 2008

One edit recommendation WebMD: Please bold the disclaimer on symptoms


Note to possible hypochondriacs or slightly imaginative obsessive folks: just call a doctor or a pharmacist when you're sick. WebMd might be a slippery slope to panic for you (and me.) Please also note that WebMD is very useful and has been around for a long time because it provides a much needed service. Sometimes a doctor is a long time away and you need to know if something sounds kinda serious.
It'll be about 24 hours before I get my official diagnosis from the doctor.
WebMD: make it clear that just because folks have a symptom or two, doesn't mean they have the worst.
I would love it if WebMd bolded the title of the column they already have, "Conditions Associated with Selected Symptoms" below the list your symptoms or bold the word "associated." Or maybe add one of those pop-up notes: Please see your doctor for diagnosis. This is a list of diseases, scary and not, from our database that match certain symptoms. One symptom doesn't mean you've got the worst disease on our list.
I had a scary list of possible ailments.
According to WebMd, some of the conditions associated with how I'm feeling have spooked me over the last few days. The short list: mono, epidermal cyst, Scarlet Fever (haven't really heard of that one since one of my favorite movies Ann of Avonlea), tuberculosis, and the PLAGUE. Of course, there are some less serious issues like allergies and muscle strain also listed. Thank goodness one of my symptoms isn't my head involuntarily turning or thrashing about. That is a symptom listed on WebMd.
Here are two other sets of symptoms and the conditions associated with them:
1. Symptoms: headache, drowsiness, fever
Some conditions associated with those signs: aseptic meningitis, acute sinusitis, Cryptococcosis, the flu, bacterial pneumonia, mono, lupus, dementia in head injury and more.

2. Symptoms: anxiety, difficulty falling asleep, easily distracted, impulsive behavior
Some conditions associated with those symptoms: excessive caffeine use, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, depression, Bipolar Disorder, cocaine use, agoraphobia and other things.

Now, on to more positive thoughts. When I drag myself to the office again I'm going to research different kinds of social media releases (and on my off-time, dear boss :) ). I'm trying to figure out a style for our organization.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Update: R-word on Project 96.1

I wrote McDonald's and asked them to pull their advertising from 96.1 because the station made fun of people with intellectual disabilities who can't always defend themselves. Unfortunately, I got a canned response from McDonald's saying they were sorry I was offended by their commerical (it wasn't even their commerical) and they base their decision to advertise on a particular station because of it's listener demographics. But for the last week, I haven't heard the "Retard Alert" on Project 96.1. It's usually on during the Giant Show in the morning. And I haven't been able to find it on their Web site.

Has anyone heard the "Retard Alert" on the show in the last week?

Special Olympics is campaigning against the use of the R-word. Check out the Web site here: http://www.r-word.org/.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Advertisers should listen to the stations they use

Before buying radio ads for your company try to listen to the station first, instead of signing off after studying listener demographics.

96.1 in Atlanta has a "Retard Alert" segment.
Here in Atlanta, Project 96.1 has a morning radio show called Retard Alert where they blast obnoxious warning sounds and "Retard Alert" "Retard Alert." One morning, callers told the morning personalities about when they felt like a "R-word."

And after all the national protests of the movie Tropic Thunder, of how the movie portrays actors portraying people with mental and intellectual disabilities, 96.1 blatantly makes fun of people with intellectual disabilities. It seems that people with intellectual disabilities are among the last group to continue to be made fun of without repercussions.

Here are a few things the radio station should think about:
- People with intellectual disabilities also listen their music and station. Already many of 96.1 listeners were picked on in school and elsewhere, also in their adult lives with the word retard or hearing the word whispered behind their backs, and it's not over. There's still a popular radio station covering several counties surrounding Atlanta saying it again and making fun of them again. It's hurtful and not funny at all.
- People with intellectual disabilities are productive citizens in the Atlanta community that offer help to other groups and many work full-time jobs.
- They also go to restaurants, shops and malls and spend money that help build our economy. And they deserve to be treated with respect or dignity, just like you do.

Radio Shack, McDonald's and Ruth's Chris Steakhouse
So far, I've found that Radio Shack, McDonald's and Ruth's Chris Steakhouse advertise on 96.1. I'll listen for more advertisers and will give you updates. They have aligned themselves with a radio station who indirectly attacks a group of people that can't always defend themselves. Do those companies feel the same way 96.1 does?

Show you care about your community and people with intellectual disabilities and don't frequent those places. And let the companies know and ask them to stop advertising on 96.1.

Make a guest comment to Ruth Chris's Steakhouse here.
Ask the marketing people by e-mailing: media.relations@RadioShack.com
Let McDonald's know here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

From me to you: Try Seasons 52


Warning: Business promotion follows: Where have I been? After so many fast food lunches of Taco Bell, McDonald's, Chick-fil-A, Subway, Jersey Mikes etc., I saw the answer to my guilty hunger today: Seasons 52. This restaurant uses fresh ingredients and cooks in a way where nutrients aren't lost and just about each meal is under 435 calories. There is one outside of Atlanta near my work, in Buckhead, Orlando and probably other places. (The photo above is the one in Orlando, but looks similar to the one I visited today for a going away lunch for a great co-worker and friend Jasmine McGinnis.) Hours after lunch I'm still excited I know where this place is now.

These places are going to be everywhere.
I predict these restaurants are going to pop up everywhere. How often do you go to a restaurant where you don't have to worry about what you get, just pick something that looks good! You don't have to do the pros and cons unless you're allergic.

This place is awesome.
From looking at their awards page, they've already had great publicity by winning awards most recently for Best Business in Buckhead to Best New Restaurant. They say the word of mouth and peer to peer communication about a particular subject is the most powerful. And I liked this place so much I'd be tempted to take their brochures with me to places like Arden's Garden, REI, my Hot Atlanta Yoga Studio, my general practitioner's office -- anywhere people want to be healthy. Maybe they could send them coupons for free dinners there. (Taking a lesson from Brand Hijack.)They may not need the business though. (We had to make a reservation for lunch on a Tuesday.)

Monday, August 4, 2008

You've gotta read Brand Hijack.



I need to read it a few more times to really get the complex marketing discussion in Brand Hijack marketing without marketing (2005) by Alex Wipperfurt. But it'll be worth it. The book is a meaty explanation full of examples that explains how companies let the consumer define the brand and also how you can be successful if you take risks. It's complicated but Wipperfurt's style is humorous and easy to read. (And there's a great notes section in the back marked by chapters for reference.) Plus, Publishers Weekly, Wired News and Fast Company liked it too.


Here are a few interesting things I gleaned from the book:



  • Red Bull creators used a boycott and rumors (don't know if they were the squealers) of it being legal speed, from Bull's testicles and a magazine article calling it "liquid cocaine." And lucky for them, people talked to one another about the mystery and how it was a quick energy boost. Plus, at sometime or another everyone needs a pick-me-up, so it doesn't have a small audience.

  • P&G geniuses recruited dentists to sell the whitening kits in their offices. It also gave gift boxes to the Academy Award nominees. They marketed various groups especially the largest group of consumers: gay men, brides, teenage girls -- so they put up posters, and print ads with the "Smile Team"-- hunky men with beautiful teeth in predominantly gay neighborhoods. It sponsored film festivals and Pride Parades.

  • Find a social tribe and a narrow one to tap into your product. Those folks start trends. Dr. Martens marketed toward roadies, bouncers, working class people. Lots of things happened including the movie A Clockwork Orange featured a shoe that resembled Dr. Marten's and soon rebel types were wearing them and soon the ugly shoe became a star.

Here's a review of the book.



Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Copyright applies to Facebook, too


Facebook's game Scrabulous was taken off line today because the originators of a very too similar game called Scrabble sued them. Scrabulous, they said, is a knock off. Here's the Associated Press story I saw in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Why not Scramble, or Word Twist? Those have been the bane of my limited computer fun time existence. On second thought, oh please don't anyone have a similar game before that they might have copied. I love them.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Man who taught us how to live died today

My photojournalist friend Amber McCloskey sent me an e-mail early this morning that Randy Pausch, the guy who wrote The Last Lecture, based on his life lessons for his children died early this morning. More on MSNBC. Check out my earlier post here.

For the video of the "last lecture" he gave his students at Carnegie Mellon University about living a good life, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Should have known better: Don't alter a man's brand at least without his permission!

Rapper 50 Cent is suing Taco Bell after his lawyer said the restaurant used his image in a print ad without permission AND asked him to change his name to 79 Cent, 89 Cent , or 99 Cent. They're promoting their menu items for under a dollar. The Associated Press said the rapper heard about the ad through a news report. He's suing for $4 million. I saw this story in the Atlanta Journal Constitution this morning.
Here's what Taco Bell might have heard after talking to a few more people before pursuing this ad campaign:
- Don't you pay people for endorsements? Using his image counts.
- What would 50 Cent think if he saw this ad? Someone is always watching. Clipping services and online and print make a good business of finding articles and ads for companies for their marketing books. And if a couple of guys in the United Kingdom see my small, new blog and comment on it, don't you think somebody's going tell 50 Cent about a newspaper ad they saw? Like a lawyer or someone who might see this as a business opportunity for them.
- A lot of thought goes into creating a name that is your brand, your identity among the public and it's basically your livelihood. Many news makers still believe that just so their names are spelled right, they don't care about bad publicity. To ask someone to change his name for even a day can be seen as insulting, especially in an advertisement. Do you want to make a friend out of 50 Cent for the future or tick him off?
-Are you sure he wants to be associated with Taco Bell? I love the nachos bell grande and the yummy chili cheese burrito, but it's also very cheap food. -When was the last time someone in Hollywood was asked to change their name for a promotion? Are there some celebrities you can do this to and some you wouldn't?
- Is it possible some dummy might yell out to 50 Cent on the street -- "hey look, it's 79 Cent!" I think that's why he uses the name 50 Cent over and over . . . so people will know it's him.
-You're trying to make money off of him without him knowing. Does that sound ethical?

A little more research was needed.
50 Cent already sued an Internet company for using his image without asking in a game called "Shoot the rapper" where players pretend to shoot him.
A taco sure does sound good . . .
But, even with all the news and the possible $4 million loss in revenue if they lose, a lot of somebodies, somewhere (me, right now, because it's almost lunch time) are thinking, ummm, taco. I could use a taco. And there's a Taco Bell down the street. Cha-ching. But is it worth it?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Marketing/PR measurement

I'm looking for a best practices plan for measuring marketing and public relations efforts. For me, it seems like the success of the product and/or event is the only indicator of a job well done. One idea tossed around in the office is that we put on communication or online forms folks complete to include the "how did you hear about this?" There are so many factors... how do you measure your efforts at your organization or company?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

You can’t force a negotiation, I learned




After two months of car shopping off and on, haggling and getting mad, I finally got another car, a 2001 Honda Civic. And I learned something very important this week. You can’t make someone negotiate with you. Lucky for me, the car met my magic number after taxes and fees.
The small dealership sales manager shook his head every time I asked him to lower the price from the Internet one of $6,995.

Intimidating stares
The plan was for my friend Leslie and I to first be very nice. (And at first, it was looking pretty good when the first thing the sales guy said to us was do you want to take the Civic out? He didn’t even get my driver’s license.) Then when he didn’t lower the price we were just going to sit there. And look at him. I hoped the uncomfortable silence would push him to say something, anything, like a lower price. He just stared back at us and didn’t flinch. Didn’t work.

Scrambling for plan B
So, we tried a couple of other tactics. But the deal was in the dealership’s favor. With gas prices rising, everyone’s trying to find smaller cars with high miles per gallon. There was only one Honda in his lot and it wouldn’t be there for long. The only thing in my corner was there was a stain on the carpet. It looked a little worn. Still, no lower price.

One small concession, thanks to Leslie
Here’s how some of the banter went about the free tank of gas:
Sales guy: “I give you two gallons of gas.”
I wince.
Other sales guy: “Hey that’s a lot of money these days.”
Later on cool Leslie says: “I thought you said two tanks of gas. Take two tanks of gas.”
Sales guy: “No, I said, two gallons. How about a tank?”
Me: “I’ll take it!”
That Leslie is a sly fox.

Carmax is Carmax and they’re not it
After the sales guy says he won’t go down in price he explains: “People think they can haggle. We really don’t lower our prices.”
Me: “You’re not Carmax! Maybe you should put up a sign saying the price is what is or something.” No one pays the sticker. Right? Ha Ha.

The point is, you can’t negotiate if the other person won’t. It’s just like a relationship or conversation ending when one person leaves and the other one stays.

But in the end, I have the car I wanted for an OK price.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Searching Technorati: You're not vain. You're working!


You can find out what blog posts say about your organization or company using Technorati. I read about this blog search engine in PR 2.0 by Deirdre Breakenridge and many, many, many blogs host this little logo. Think of it as Googling yourself, because Technorati is updated with 175,000 new blogs each day. And blogs are updated overall with1.6 million posts per day.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Now here's a camera for nonprofits


OK -- this is a product and business plug. But I couldn't find too many camera recommendations for nonprofits on the Internet. So I hope this will help someone else who is about as knowledgeable about fancy cameras as she is about the "time circuits" in her car's speedometer. (That's right, time circuits are only possible in the movie Back to the Future.)


I was recommended to Showcase in Atlanta for a camera for the novice to use at events when we can't get a volunteer photographer. We needed something not expensive, easy, and with the capability of getting high resolution photos. The folks at Showcase were so helpful and knowledgeable and recommended the Nikon P80. (Hint: It also helps to know photographers to compare notes.) There are only a few key buttons to remember. You can choose what resolution you want. And you can get video for your Web site and You Tube.

I've got it out of the box and started to charge the battery ... so far so good.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

It's getting harder for the boss to snoop on your texting on the work phone


Don't go crazy yet sending racy texts to your person. But a new court ruling is making it harder for employers in some states to snoop around your phones/pagers, so says an article in the July 14 issue of Newsweek.

In the U.S. Ninth Circuit states -- Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands (but no, sniff, sniff, Georgia), --protects text messages from nosy employers. Couple of questions: How will this be enforced? Will phone companies simply not reveal any of the messages in their back-up system to employers? Are the messages admissible in court?
Here's what happened to spur this all on: a California police officer, Newsweek reported, was provided a work-issued pager. His bosses read his personal text messages sent from this device. The officer apparently had even gone over his text limit -- so his bosses checked into it. He typically paid the overage charges. But the Ninth Circuit court ruled that the officer's texts are protected, even though they were on a work phone.

With all the employee handbooks out there stating that everything you look at on the computer, every e-mail and phone call can be monitored because it is the company's property, this case is surprising, but nice. Wonder how texting is different from e-mailing?

Monday, June 30, 2008

Lessons of E-mail: How do we stay out of trouble?

Gosh, I hope I never make this mistake again. A few years ago, I sent a smart aleck e-mail about an irritating co-worker to a friend and actually sent it to the irritating one instead. It felt good for a second to send that e-mail but it took many days for the embarassment to wear off every time I passed him in the hall. So I now 1) at least look twice at the to category or more importantly 2) don't send those types of e-mails anymore. So here are a few other things I've learned:
* Use good grammar. Make it easier for any recipient to read your message. No capitalization, bad punctuation, missing words slows the reader down.
* Take a break when you receive a stinging message. Maybe the sender didn't mean it the way it came across. Respond with just the facts or better yet, go talk to them in person.
* Don't write in all caps. Ever.
* Keep font easy to read.
* Try not to reply all to everyone if only one person needs to know.
* De-tweak the tweaking cc. You can cc the boss every time somebody doesn't "do right." Your boss will appreciate it in the beginning. But when your co-workers hesitate about talking with you or worse, working with you, you lose.
Here are two articles with tips.
E-mail ettiquette
Top 20 Rules of Most Important Rules of E-mail Ettiquette
What are your thoughts on e-mail rules?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Twitter reminds us of the power of social media

It's a little bit of an old story, but.. CNN reported that an American student used Twitter to get his translator freed from Egyptian authorities. He first used Twitter to free himself. He was able to send a one-word blog post "Arrested" from his cell phone through Twitter and all of his friends were alerted.
Check out the story here.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Things you don't want to hear car salesmen say

Over the next couple of weeks I'm continuing my search for another car. Today I went to three dealerships looking for a decent used car. I saw a 2004 granny Concorde with 33,000 miles out the door for around $8,000. A 2002 Liberty Jeep Limited Edition for $8,000. It looks great, so I'm wondering what the catch is. And, I drove a 2001 Honda Civic LX with a sour milk smell and torn floorboard carpet priced at $8,000 out the door. Walking in with old jeans, hooded sweatshirt, no makeup or jewelry and a little bit of a baby cougar attitude, here are a few things I never want to hear a salesman say again:

- So, what do you consider a large monthly payment? (Hint: Never say what you want to pay per month. Those turkeys will figure a way to get more money out of you playing with interest rates. Focus on the bottom line and then tell them you're getting your loan at the credit union.)
-"Why don't you take that $8,000 and use it as a downpayment and then your monthly payments will be really small." (ha ha)
- "Follow me." (They lead you to the back of the used car section to the cars they think you can afford.)
-"That's all in." (That's their best offer so if it's not good enough, you get all out of there.)
- "We don't even give our employees those prices."
- "We're only making $150 on this deal. I'm being honest." (No, you're not.)
- "My manager says I can only go this low." (I'm going to see if the manager across the street will go lower.)

Tips
So, for car salesmen and the rest of us that sell anything, from ideas to boats, check out these links for customer service tips:
-Customer Service Tips and Techniques
- The Ten Commandments of Great Customer Service
- Customer Service Tips and Advice

P.S. Thank you Andrew for letting me scoot around to the dealerships and work in your awesome truck.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Revised: When sales people call and you wish they hadn't

In honor of blog guru Kevin Dugan's hosted blog on the writing process -- I revised a post from last week for fun. I still think I could edit more...
Revised blog:
I wonder if I am doing something wrong. I get these messages:

* "Yes, Wendy. I'm just following up after the (huff) voice mail I left last week (huff) and the e-mail I sent the week before about the media tracking service we can you. Please call me back. (last huff)"

* "Wendy! I've left two voice messages and at least one e-mail about Summer Games, that you guys have going on. We really need to get started on the copy so we can get on air in time." (This message comes after an ad was already on air on a different station.)

Printers call to see if we need something printed. Radio ad sales people call to see what events we have coming up. At least two people call every day wanting me to spend some of our organization's money with them. I also write and edit newsletters, our Web site, pitch ideas to media, plan marketing for our events and program growth and write grants. And I don't have time to help them figure out how they can help me.

What do you do when someone leaves a message (so glad we have caller ID now) about a service he wants to tell you about? Do you call him back and say, thanks but no thanks? So Or, do you ignore him? (That's what I do)



Also, speaking of dealing with sales people. I'm getting ready to buy another car. Got any tips for how to get a good deal, other than bring a male shark negotiator?

Happy place - Anything to get you back to a positive personal brand


Anytime I feel like shooting off a terse e-mail to someone, I like to look at sweet pictures of animals, like this one. Unfortunately, I just came across this photo.
Personal brand
Personal brands and work e-mail etiquette work together. I try to present myself as a serious, no BSer, a feisty yet compassionate idea person, non-tattle teller, competent, a cheerleader and helper. So when I'm challenged through e-mail, I have to take a quick walk and respond in short, factual and helpful statements, or speak to the person directly. We're taught not to engage in e-mail wars, ever. More tips here.
Delete the tweaking cc'ing.
But I have participated in the tweaking cc'ing game. Read what it means here for the sender and the recipient. I have received negative feedback where a superior was cc'd. I made edits and cc'd everyone too. I wanted everyone to know it was OK. But, no I missed something again. And a superior was cc'd again on another e-mail letting me know something still wasn't right. This can go on for a while if you're not careful. And being a goof-ball was not part of my brand. In a do-over, I would have just e-mailed the sender.
It's our brand that counts the most.
In public relations, we prep ourselves to present an idea, a company, a person, a group, an organization in the best light possible. We should do this for ourselves, as well, including our appearance, our work ethic and how we treat others. Read more about personal brands.
What do you do if someone challenges you to an e-mail war?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Don't yell: a customer service no-brainer

I can't believe I have to say this. No matter how mad a customer makes you, DO NOT pitch a fit. My friend at Curry Honda in Atlanta had a run-in with his temperament this week.
At the car dealership
I went to Curry Honda after totalling my new beautiful 2007 silver Honda Civic EX. We got a good deal last summer, so I went back to the same place for another one. I mistakenly told him about the accident and I wanted to buy another car from him, thinking the deal would be even better this time. I signed the paperwork, drove the car out, and planned to come back about financing. Hint: do your financing before you get to the dealership. Basically, we went back and forth about cost issues. The salesman told me one thing over the phone to get me back to the dealership and when I got there, he gave me another figure and said that was the only option. They had made a mistake. No kidding.
So I brought the car back to the dealership and here's how the misbehavior unfolded:
I gave him the keys and thanked him for the test-drive. He said, “What? Why? What happened Wendy?!” I pointed my finger at him and said, “Because you lied to me! You don’t respect your customers.” I walked through the parking lot hoping my ride would hurry. Then he yelled like a school bully. “What, is that all you’re going to say?! You're going to leave it like that! After all the time I spent on you!” He saw his commission disappear.
You don't care about them.
I turned around and yelled back, “I don’t care about you!” I walked away headed toward the driveway area. He followed me. "Wendy! Well, I can call to see if I can get you a lower interest rate. I told him no and that I was going elsewhere. Then my ride pulled up. Thank God. By this time I was standing really close to the road and I hopped into her car.
Dear sales people, for heaven's sake, you don't have to be fair. But please don't be scary!
Get ready.
Friends, learn how car salesmen are trained. Click here for a horror story. Click here for another one.

Note: Thank you to my co-worker and friend Jennifer for following me to the dealership and driving me home.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Happy Birthday Dad


Sunday was my Dad's birthday. After I sang to him, he laughed and told me he got half off his breakfast at the Golden Corrale. He was a senior citizen now. He laughed again and said Mom had to pay full price. He said he's going to get all kind of good deals now. And he deserves it and more.


My Dad
My Dad worked 30 years in a paper mill for 12 hour days and on many swing shifts for our family. He encouraged my brother (who's a successful lawyer) and I to go to college and do anything we wanted. He taught me how to fight if someone tried to abduct me before I started high school; how to balance my checkbook; how to play third base and catch; check the oil in my car; and how to be calm in a crisis. He was the first person who taught me to focus on ability. I'm thankful that Dad shared with me his passion to make everything we can that's good inclusive to everyone.
Beauty doesn't always fade
The picture above was taken at my brother's wedding at Oak Island, where my parents now live. Yes, I know, my dad is handsome and he is going to kill me when he finds out I put his picture on the Internet. Yes, similar to the children of Paul Newman, Michael Douglas, I have a good looking dad, who just became a "senior citizen."

Happy belated-birthday Dad. (The card's in the mail.)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

People relations: When they call and you wish they hadn't



I'm finally in a work position where people are selling me ideas. (And I do a lot of idea-selling too, by the way.) Printers call to see if we can pay them to print a program book. Radio ad sales people call to see what events we have coming up that they can help us with. At least two people call every day wanting me to spend some of our organization's money with them. Media buys of any kind are a small part of my job. I also write and edit newsletters, our Web site, pitch ideas to media, plan marketing for our events and program growth and write grants. And I don't have time to help them figure out how they can help me.


I call them if we need ads, media clippings, printing. So my question is, what do you do when someone leaves a message (so glad we have caller ID now) about a service he wants to tell you about? Do you call him back and say, thanks but no thanks? So he doesn't think you're looking for a project for him? Or, do you ignore him? (That's what I do.) Doesn't everyone?


Let me know what you do. Because I'm starting to wonder if I'm doing something wrong, because I get these types of messages on second and third tries after I don't return the call.

* "Yes, Wendy. I'm just following up after the (huff) voice mail I left (another huff) last week and the e-mail I sent the week before about the media tracking service we can you. Please call me back. (last huff)"

* "Wendy! I've left two voice messages and at least one e-mail about Summer Games, that you guys have going on. We really need to get started on the copy so we can get on air in time." (This message comes after an ad was already on air on a different station.)


Also, speaking of dealing with sales people. I'm getting ready to buy another car. Got any tips for how to get a good deal, other than bring a male shark negotiator?


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Well, he must not be a klutz

Oh, I wish I had my camera! When I was at Oak Island, NC, I saw my favorite business sign: Terry Klutz Construction. It has been up for at least the last 20 years. Word moves pretty quick when a construction company isn't up to snuff on the small heavily residential island, so somehow, Klutz must have defied the odds of having a negative name. After all, who wants a house built buy a klutz? How easy it would be to have an injured reputation with only a few mistakes. Their work and service must be outstanding even with the kooky name. Can you hear the insults? It's just too easy. Those Klutz's are brave souls. No Web site either.

Here's a do's and don't list I found for coming up with a business name at About.com: Retailing :
- Do make it easy to understand, spell and pronounce.
- Don't use negative sounding words. (But it works!)
- Do consider where your business will fall in an alphabetical list such as the yellow pages.
- Don't limit your product line by choosing a name that won't represent all you do.
- Do create a name you can stand behind. (Talk about the need to go above and beyond your name.)
- Don't use a strictly generic term, such as 'discount office supply' which cannot be protected as trademarks.
- Do be creative and imaginative. (Klutz's, you didn't even have to try. Gold.)

Here's another another site PowerHomeBiz.com that helps businesses come up with names.

What can ruin a reputation, of course, is service. Here are a couple of blogs that talk about it:
- BL Ochman's whatnextblog.com.
- Techdirt blog

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Still in search of a practitioner's PR 2.0 book



Deirdre Breakenridge's PR 2.0 New Media, New Tools, New Audiences came out in March trying to reach three audiences: academicians who need theory and history; PR old timers and newbies with some knowledge of how to use the internet in PR but need to catch up. And that was almost an impossible job. I was looking for more concrete examples and a practitioner's how-to. Those items were scrapped for the sake of the book becoming a "PR on the Internet" textbook. I skimmed through the history for helpful to-do list type items, or at least an example of what a social media release looks like. And some programs advocated are to expensive for our nonprofit budget.


Below are just a few tips I found useful in the first half of PR 2.0:

Even if you're a small company, you can afford to do research

- Research resources before a big campaign for small companies are:
http://www.highbeam.com/, http://www.cornerbarpr.com/, http://www.websurveyor.com/, http://www.surveymonkey/, http://www.surveygold.com/, http://www.mediamap.com/, http://www.usprwire.com/, http://www.clickpress.com/, http://www.sbwire.com/, http://www.marketwire.com/.

Big companies, lucky you, plenty of resources lie at your feet

-Research resources for larger companies where you can find either a database of media types, see who grabs your releases or see how your news fits in the world: http://www.hovers.com/, http://www.cision.com/, http://www.vocus.com/, http://www.prnewswire.com/, http://www.burrellesluce.com/, http://www.harrisinteracitve.com/

For everyone's online newsrooms


- Make an interactive newsroom by: adding RSS feeds, photo libraries with high resolution images, MP3 files or a podcast, video footage for Video-On-Demand, links to previous coverage on a topic with the ability to use del.icio.us or http://www.digg.com/ for social bookmarking (BTW-how do you do that?); use Technorati, which searches and organizes blogs and tracks how blogs are linked together while recording the relevance of the links to your subject matter.

More on beefing up your newsroom . . .

-In your news releases online and in your online newsroom: cut and paste links from your Web site directly into your social media template (release) including links to sites with photos, bios of management team, white papers or research studies, video clips, past or recent publicity discussing the topic, your company, or quoting an executive, groups that have similar perspectives on a topic, other Web sites that are useful to your topic and again, links directly to del.icio.us or Digg for journalists and bloggers to bookmark info. Good luck to me and whoever else doesn't know how to use del.icio.us or Digg yet.


You can get a copy on Amazon.com.





If you wrote a how-to book for PR 2.0, what tips would you include?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Reading PR 2.0 New Media, New Tools, New Audiences

I was browsing the media/marketing/sales section at Barnes and Noble this weekend looking for almost a text book about skills today's PR person needs. I flew by books written by pros about their take on personal brand, how to make money by e-mailing and so many books of someone's opinion or theory. I just wanted to know how I can be a part of PR 2.0.

And there it was. PR 2.0 New Media, New Tools, New Audiences 2008 by Deidre Breakenridge. Well, I'm half way through and so far I found some helpful tips that I'd like to share with you about media gathering tools, databases of media contacts, and even updating your company/organization's media library. I hope in the second half there will be more examples and almost a how-to section. Like what does a social media release actually look like? I'll share a highlight of tips and sources hopefully next Wednesday.

I'm going out of town where computers are scarce for my little brother's wedding. I'm excited about my new family members. I'll have a sister-in-law and two smart and adorable nephews.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Media Training: Don't talk with your mouth full

Before heading over to one of Atlanta's television stations for a PSA taping with an athlete I lead a super brief media training with my co-workers at our nonprofit. I talked about tips for talking to reporters about good stories, how to handle negative stories that catch you off guard and the middle-ground stories that make you feel nervous. I also handed out a cheat sheet for common questions about our organization with answers.

While preparing for this training I thought about what I hated as a reporter and asked them to not do it. Plus, I remembered the time a colleague forgot to turn off his cell phone during a live TV interview. His mischievous friend and co-worker called him a zillion times. Luckily, the phone was on vibrate.

And I looked on the Internet for advice. No wonder companies charge to teach you how to work with reporters. Info's pretty scarce out there. But here are three articles I used:

Six tips for taking control in media interviews from the Microsoft Small Business Center and Media Training Tips: Maximising Your Media Moment and Media Tips: A Media Training Primer for Today's Executives from Ezine articles.

I wonder what's worked for other PR people out there when training colleagues to talk to the media.