Announcement by The Associated Press to include Samsung-sponsored Tweets is part of an evolving platform

The Associated Press announced it will begin having sponsored tweets on its Twitter feed and Samsung will be the first company to take part in it.

Twitter has had advertising for some time in the form of Promoted Tweets – tweets purchased by advertisers that appear in targeted users’ Twitter feeds. The Promoted Tweets are denoted with the sponsor’s name or a little orange box and white arrow so they can be clearly identified on users’ feeds.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Twitter updated its terms of service in 2010 to ensure that advertisers only promoted their tweets in this Promoted Tweet format rather than infusing spam-like promotions through individual users’ accounts. AP’s Samsung announcement seems to fall somewhere in the middle.

Samsung will provide sponsored tweets through AP’s primary Twitter account during the upcoming 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Leveraging Samsung as a sponsor for this high-profile tech event might help expand advertising beyond an individual Twitter feed and make sense to the public.

AP stated in a release: “The effort builds on AP’s expansion into new advertising for mobile and social media.”

In the past, new advertising platforms for mobile and social media has developed traction with the media and and sometimes backlash from the public. Do you remember the Instagram debacle of 2012? Perhaps ‘debacle’ is an exaggeration, but Instagram’s moment in the spotlight certainly caused a stir among my social media community.

Infographic and GIF fromfastcodesign.com describes Instagram’s impact. –––>

When Instagram announced new terms of service in December 2012, users took to their social media accounts to complain. The new terms of service implied that Instagram would be able to take users’ photos and use them in promotions. The social media community panicked. My own social media feeds were flooded with pleas from others to delete my account to protest the insanity.

Instagram quickly retracted the new terms and released an apology and clarified what it had intended. Titled, “Thank you, and we’re listening,” the blog post stated that legal documents were easily misunderstood and that it would clarify its meaning in a less elusive, and more concrete manner. Instagram experienced the downside to presenting the public with a big idea rather than exact details – especially when it comes to people’s privacy and their understanding of advertising.

As Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, has seen in the past, people become uncomfortable with social media and advertising worlds colliding. In Instagram’s blog post apology, it made a simple, yet – I believe –necessary statement: “From the start, Instagram was created to become a business.”

Because we have incorporated our personal lives so much into social media, it is often forgotten that social media exists as a business commodity first and foremost – perhaps because ways to monetize the new media platforms often come months and years after their launch. Unfortunately, the medium has grown so quickly, it may take a while for perceptions to catch up. The Associated Press and Instagram are not the first to discuss their advertising tactics with social media and they will not be the last.

As the WSJ article eloquently states in its coverage of AP’s announcement, “plenty of media companies have very popular Twitter feeds and commercial departments keen to find new revenue sources.”

As social media’s audience and influence grows, we cannot expect money to stay out of the conversation. If we want our media to continue meeting our needs, we cannot always seem so astonished and offended when they announce they need money in order to do so.

  – Bailee Bowman

Many things have changed since Schroder PR begin 10 years ago; many have not

Ten years ago this week, Schroder PR opened its doors to provide writing and media relations services to a few select clients. Since then, a lot has changed in the business of public relations, but a few enduring principles remain more important than ever.

When we opened our doors to the public in 2003, we were already serving a few commercial real estate developers and soon were hired by one of the two largest law firms in town.

At that time, the primary request of our clients was that we carefully craft well-written press releases and provide them media counsel. Since then, the media world has exploded to an immediate online delivery of news from many news sources – including posts by many writers who have had no professional news training and are not professionally edited.

A decade ago, clients were still trying to understand the potential of the “world wide web” and we were often asked to help re-write their websites with new copy that would attract a prominent listing in developing platforms called “search engines.” Google was still a small private company that was a couple of years from going public.

The word blog was less than five years old in 2003 (it was coined in 1999 from its original term of weblog). Managing partners of large firms were trying to understand how to follow and regulate their use by leading-edge partners in the firms. It wasn’t long before our clients were asking us to assist them to host blogs on their own websites.

Networking and business development is a vital part of any business, particularly a new firm such as ours. Back then, the primary tool of business development was the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Book of Lists. A few days after we opened our doors, a new web-based platform was launched that changed everything. It was called LinkedIn. Today, LinkedIn is a primary business development tool, though we still usually begin our new year making lots of notes in the printed Book of Lists, which is also available in electronic form.

Email and instant messaging had long replaced the idle chatter and gossip around the proverbial water cooler. Then in 2004, we all re-learned an entirely new way to peer into the lives and thoughts of others with the launch of Facebook. Although office productivity initially took a big hit with its growth, we now spend many hours a week updating business pages on Facebook for our clients.

In 2003, we began helping clients produce videos to explain their service offerings. New computer editing tools brought down the cost of this formerly cost-prohibitive medium. Ten years ago, we were still advising clients to trim their videos to five to eight minutes in length. Then in 2005, YouTube launched and video exploded. Today, based on Pew and Poynter research, we caution clients to edit their videos to no longer than 60 seconds and we help manage their YouTube channels.

While Schroder PR has always been an advocate for concise use of the English language, we all learned to edit even tighter in 2006 when Twitter reduced our world of communication not to 140 words, but 140 characters!

As Schroder PR moved offices several times around Midtown Atlanta, we were careful to always provide a cork bulletin board above the desks of our teammates so they could post personal photos and important lists. Now we primarily use the cork boards to soften the sound in more efficient working conditions while our team is busily posting photos and lists for our clients on Pinterest, which launched in 2010.

While many things have changed in 10 years, many principles still endure. Yes, our team spends much of our time monitoring social media for our clients, but we still spend a surprising amount of time editing press releases that we can post online. Yet, we rarely send press releases to reporters. Today we boil story pitches down to one-page backgrounders full of bullet points or send short emails or Twitter pitches.

Though we have so many new tools with which to communicate, we’ve found there is an increasing need to have regular face-to-face meetings with our clients. Client service remains the most important facet of our business and in this new year, we hope to spend more time in person with our clients than ever before. That’s where the magic in this business really happens.

The proper use of the English language is still paramount. Each of of our teammates has an AP Stylebook on their desks. We did try the electronic version for a while, but the book is still our bible.

When we start working with a new client, we still spend the first few weeks and months helping to sharpen their “message” and “position.” When we launched our own website in December 2002, we introduced our company’s slogan and mission, which endures – perhaps with even more significance – to this day: “Clear Messages in a Cluttered World.”

– Chris Schroder

6 things mom taught me that I apply to PR

792_619007022871_7030986_39537165_4669_nI spent this past Sunday celebrating Mother’s Day with my mom in Tallassee, Ala. That prompted me to think of  a few things mom has told me over the years that I now apply to my career in PR. I’m sure your mom told you some of the same things, but if not, please comment below and let me know what you’d add!

  1. “Share”
    • I have three sisters, and I’m one of the middle ones. My mother probably told me to share my toys, clothes and everything else a billion times. Now, I use this concept in my career. Share content. This applies not only to clients and press releases – that’s obvious, but also sharing relevant, interesting and helpful information about everything else.  In a recent Rutgers webinar about writing for social media, I learned that 80 percent of social media posts are “me now” posts. That means starting a tweet with “I” or making about something you dislike/like – and that’s fine. Next time, though, try Angela Maiers 70/20/10 test.
      • 70 percent of your posts should be sharing relevant, interesting or funny information
        • Such as tips, speeches, this blog entry …
      • 20 percent should be connecting
        • If you look at your 10 most recent tweets and not one of them mention someone else, you’re not engaging your audience enough
      • 10 percent can be chirps
        • Tell me about your day, but only once every 10 tweets, please.
    • “The Golden Rule”
      • No, not “He who makes the gold, makes the rules,” but “treat others as you would like to be treated.” I utilize this rule when dealing with the media, clients, colleagues and audiences. When a reporter or client wants something, I get it done – that’s what I’d want to happen. I also try to be mindful of the reporter’s deadline and that they have lots of other stories to juggle. I also think about my audience when sharing information. If I were the one being marketed to, how would I feel? This simple elementary school rule can really change how you are perceived in the world, in my opinion.
    • “Those who don’t read, work for someone who does.”
      • When I was in kindergarten, I won a grade-wide reading competition and got to help shave Principal Roberts’ beard. (In retrospect, what were they thinking? I was 5 years old!) I am so thankful mom instilled a love of reading in me at an early age, and I still completely agree with this mantra. I’ve said it in earlier PR 101 posts, PR practitioners have to read/watch/listen to the reporters/producers/bloggers to whom we pitch. Also, it’s a good idea to stay up-to-date with current events anyway. Understanding what’s happening in the world, in your target industries and in your community will make you better at your job; it might even inspire fresh content.
    • Be honest.
      • The other day I told someone I worked for a PR firm. His response (I couldn’t make this up) was, “Oh, so you like work for cigarette and other morally corrupt companies and try to make them seem OK to the public?” I thought public relations being perceived as “spin” was outdated, but I guess that perception lingers. Encouraging transparency in your clients and in your own life is the best practice. Being proactive is also a good technique to avoid bad situations. There are so many case studies that show us that trying to keep a problem hidden from the public almost never works, so just give it up.
    • “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.”
      • We’ve all heard this one. Fell off your bike? Can’t get the French braid just right? Well, brush it off and try again. Well, now we can ride bikes, French braid and throw the perfect spiral, but we can still apply this to our lives and careers. There are some stories that don’t get published right away, so we have to be persistent and revisit them later or perhaps explore a new angle. There are some backgrounders that I cannot get right at all, so instead of getting frustrated, I have to just put it away and come back to it later. I know that there will be times that the brilliant PR plan I created just doesn’t show the results I expected, but even if I failed miserably I can’t mope about it – I just have to come up with a new plan and try again. Everyone makes mistakes, but we have to just try harder next time.
    • Use your manners.
      • Even though I’m 24, mom still scolds me if I am ever the slightest bit impolite to someone, whether I think I am or not. I’m glad, though, because we all need to mind our manners in every facet of life.  I’ve heard so many horror stories about divas and other employees that are hard to work with and I don’t understand it. “Please and thank you, they’re called the magic words” – we all remember that song, right? For social media etiquette tips, please refer back to the SoMe Etiquette post.

 

Thank you all so much reading, and please feel free to share with your friends.


Attack of the Meme

Oh, the Internet meme. How we love them, until, you know, they’re absolutely everywhere and lose their cleverness. But don’t worry. The next big meme is already out there! How did memes get started? I searched the Internet and I’ve come up with: the Dancing Baby. You may recall the crude, 3D baby dancing the cha cha. The baby graphic spread through email and websites, which is a pretty good example of how people lived in the dark ages of the Internet: BYT (Before YouTube.) The baby went viral, even making an appearance on the show Ally McBeal. I remember another early meme that became a big deal while I was still in elementary school. The Hamster Dance is a testament to the ridiculous. It features hamsters and rabbits dancing to a sped up song. That’s all. It was everywhere. Memes have evolved. While early memes spread by duplication, contemporary memes spread by imitation. “[Stuff] Girls Say”(“Stuff” is substituting a four-letter word here) began as a single video and then exploded as others took the idea and applied it to Indian parentsNew Yorkers, and finally“Stuff” No One Says.  YouTube was drenched with these memes, and just when you couldn’t stand it … they were on Facebook. “What People Think I Do/What I Actually Do” were plastered over news feeds. Some were pretty hilarious. I found a University of Texas meme, which led me to a UT meme Facebook page. Turns out a lot of colleges have meme sites now. Have I stumbled upon the next big thing? We’ll see. So, are memes a trend or here for the long haul? I’m inclined to argue for the latter. Memes allow for creativity and mutate so quickly into something new. Specific memes are trendy; the meme genre is probably here to stay.