How do I incorporate social media into my comms program?
"Social media is fast gaining momentum among PR pros as a new means of communicating with key stakeholders using a more conversational, inclusive, and collaborative approach," notes George Vazquez of PR Newswire, who identifies the primary tools defining social media as blogs, RSS, social networks, and search engine optimization.
To get started, Vazquez advises identifying blogs that are key to your industry by using tools like Technorati. Familiarize yourself with the conversations happening in those blogs to better understand what's motivating your audience.
"Next, incorporate social media tools into your news release," he says. "Some of the commercial newswire services do this for you automatically at no additional charge. Look for search engine optimization, RSS capabilities, and tagging for social bookmarking sites like del.icio.us and Digg."
If you have video content, Vazquez suggests researching and targeting video content sharing sites like YouTube and BlinkxTV. Broadcast PR companies can assist in production and distribution of video to those sites.
"Embracing the social media phenomenon," he explains, "means putting your messages into the hands of your stakeholders through blogs, search engines, and social networks, and encouraging active dialogue among your audiences."
How can PR pros sound more compelling on the phone?
"Your hello is equivalent to a handshake," says Diane DiResta of DiResta Communications. "People will judge you by the sound of your voice and by the words that you use."
Be sure to convey a warm tone on the phone. Put a mirror by your desk to remind yourself to smile - people can hear a smile. And do some vocal warm-ups before the call.
Sustain a strong voice, DiResta adds. A soft, breathy voice creates an impression of weakness. And avoid milk products when making a lot of calls. Milk creates mucous, which can cause throat-clearing that can be interpreted as nervousness.
"Avoid up-talk at all costs," she warns. "A sing-song or rising inflection will make you sound young and inexperienced. Bring your voice down at the end of a sentence to increase the level of conviction. Tape yourself to make sure you are not using this sabotaging vocal pattern."
DiResta also advises using strong definitive language. Don't use weakspeak: "Hopefully," "I feel," "I think," "sort of," "only," "you know," and "like" are instant credibility killers.
What are some practical ways to stay abreast of the latest tools and trends in PR technology?
Jeffrey Davis of Sawmill Marketing Public Relations says an easy first step is subscribing to an RSS feed for syndicated content and reading PR technology blogs.
"A second technique is using a paid wire service," Davis says. "You'll reach mainstream media, Web portals, and online sources that pull down releases with certain keywords."
Remember that press releases written with optimization in mind can rank highly in Web searches, he adds. "Readers of optimized press releases constitute far more than journalists - especially important since the Internet is now the primary news source for millions of people," Davis explains.
Finally, he recommends acquainting yourself with such innovations as social media press releases. The format uses links, photos, financial data, tags to other stories, executive and analyst quotes, del.icio.us tags, and Digg links, leaving it up to the journalist to assemble the pieces into a story.