Why is Twitter So Attractive to PR Professionals?

When I started using Twitter years ago I remember wondering where the value was in this new tool. Facebook offers many of the same utilities, I thought. This is just a place for people to share what they just ate for breakfast, I thought.

Do not underestimate the bird.

Well two years later, I can see the light.

While some offer the same “I am walking out my front door” content, many Twitter users are taking advantage of its powerful opportunities.

Twitter allows communicators to distribute key messages, research topics and develop an audience simultaneously.

Even though I understand how these tactics are helpful, I am still learning the best ways to implement them. That said, here are some key ideas about Twitter that I have found to be helpful from my classwork and the blogs on my reading list.

Key messages can spread quickly and with clarity.

Getting a key message across to your audience is one of the communicator’s most important jobs. Twitter’s 140 characters provide a distinct space to get a clear idea across quickly.

A perfect example of this could be the support for Egyptian democracy shown on Twitter right now.

Beth Kanter discussed the use of #Egypt in a post about the movement. This allowed all of those interested in contributing to the Egyptian movement toward democracy to do so by including the hashtag in their tweets.

This caused a large spike in awareness and sparked discussion of the movement on the Web. Hashtags are used on a second by second basis and should be monitored for a communicator to become fully involved in a discussion.

Twitter’s speed should never be underestimated, especially in times of crisis for your organization. In her post on social media crisis management, Prya Ramesh stated: “Thou shalt deploy a round the clock Twitter monitoring schedule.”

Key messages are not only easily distributed through Twitter, but they are also easy to monitor for research.

Research is abundant, free and can create an audience.

The power that social networking represents comes from the act of sharing information and direct communication with an audience.

Content on Twitter can be sourced and questioned to provide an excellent source of research. Researching on Twitter also provides the opportunity to develop more relationships with specialists, which can lead to more far valuable sources than researching via Google presents.

Communicators can also conduct research through lists on Twitter to cultivate an audience while conducting research.

Creating a list can help to bridge the content gap as mentioned by Valeria Maltoni. It can bring together individuals with a common interest and put you in the “community leader” position.

By becoming a connector on Twitter you can source information, create a community and conduct research simultaneously.

Can you think of a better research tool than that?

How to Create Value Blogging for an Organization

A blog is an amazing tool. It can provide a direct connection to specialists as well as an arena for discussions on limitless subjects.

While in the past, organizations had to conduct costly research to find consumer opinions on their products or services, they can now view such results with just a few clicks: For Free.

That last reason gets some in trouble.

The power in hosting a company blog is in the value that you can create through interactions with your audience.

But how can you cultivate meaningful interactions? And how does one gather a community online?

After reading detailed guides from Valeria Maltoni and Beth Kanter, I have drawn out the following key elements in creating value when blogging for your organization.

Find a focused topic to write about.

To find the focus of your blog, start with why you want traffic.

What is the focus of your content?

Answering this question allows communicators to create meaningful content for their audience.

A focus also gives opportunities for organizing your content in interesting ways, such as fixed-gear-biking company Eighthinch’s photo Friday. In this post they gathered interesting local content that their national audience is interested in and blogged about it.

Linda Lam, a classmate of mine, recently found her focus in blogging about Eugene’s food scene. Her posts include easy to digest information about her favorite spots and the unique dishes they serve.

Effectively creating content requires that there is a focus of the blog. Beth points out that this is also a key element in building a community.

Work towards community building.

Interacting with influential people in your focus will help to build your reputation and content.

After finding a focus, it is important to work towards community building in your content.

Valeria Maltoni’s Bridging the Content-Gap addresses this issue in detail. She suggests curating information as one of the ways to encourage community building on a blog.

Linda’s blog is a great example of this in action. In creating localized content, she has also created a place for readers to gather and discuss the best places to grab a bite.

It is important to keep this in mind to create content that is both timely and relevant for your audience.

Commit to an online presence.

If your organization decides that a blog is the right way to communicate with its audience, then committing to an online presence will be key.

Taking care of a community is a large and important job of the communicator in the digital landscape.

Your organization must be prepared to equip a staff that can efficiently handle the aspects of content creation and community development.

As Valeria pointed out: “The other misconception is that because many of these tools are free, it’s all upside. That all you need is set up a few sites and get traffic coming your way. Follow the advice for the implementation above and you could end up hurting your reputation.”

If a blog is the tool you choose to utilize, a deep commitment on behalf of your organization will be key.

Conflict Resolution Strategies Part Two: Planning for Conflict

If you read my last post then, hopefully, the helpful tips Julie Brown presented on resolving conflict have sunk in and you are in a better position to manage conflict effectively.

While knowing your audience and finding the right expert were the key ideas in that post, this one will focus on the aspect of planning for hostility.

Communicating to your audience, through either an expert or yourself, is a strategy that is out in the open. However, Julie made it a point to emphasize the importance of the work that goes into conflict resolution that the public does not see.

Here are some of her tips on behind-the-scenes work you can do to resolve conflict:

Never underestimate the effectiveness of a face-to-face meeting.

Whether it’s the a media contact trying to view files that your organization deems confidential or an individual worried about the environmental effects of a new building, hosting a face-to-face meeting is by far the most effective way to deal with conflict head on.

Answer specific concerns or issues during the meeting.

During this meeting it is important to answer specific concerns or issues as it gives the invaluable opportunity for direct communication.

Hosting this kind of meeting shows that your organization truly cares about the worries that an individual or group may have.

This also presents communicators with the chance to find out what positions and concerns exist that may not have been taken into consideration. One can then take this information and feed it back into the conflict resolution plan to adjust for a new audience to reach.

Finally, meeting with influential people on the topic can create a positive interaction for your organization.

Plan for conflict in key areas of a long-term issue.

Planning for any project should include consideration of conflicts that may arise over the project’s life.

Specifically in long-term ventures, there are “hotbeds” that are important to notice.

Not where you want to be in times of conflict.

These are the spots in the program or project that noticeably may cause conflicts of interest in the community or audience. They are the areas that professional communicators should pay extra interest to.

Once discovered, one can prepare for the conflicts with the strategies outlined in my last blog post: Research the individuals who may have problems with the particular issue and find an expert in that field to answer the questions they may pose.

Planning for conflict at the outset of a project helps your audience get their questions answered early.

This also allows the communicator to find who to contact with the right information, thus avoiding miscommunications.

Conflict Resolution Strategies Part One: Navigating Conflict

What happens when your organization faces hostility within the area it operates? What about conflict within the organization itself? These are the questions I had about real world conflict resolution issues. For answers, I looked to a public relations professional who has dealt with both of these real-life scenarios:

PR pro Julie Brown.

Julie is the director of media relations at the University of Oregon, and she faces conflict management issues like these daily. Whether it’s students who feel angst about the new tutoring center on campus or members of the Eugene community who have environmental issues with the new research building, Julie is the communicator who addresses their concerns.

During our half-hour interview I gleaned some amazing tips on how to manage conflict that I would like to share.

Enter the conversation after you know your audience.

As Kelli Matthews detailed in a recent post, one of the most important values in social media is in its listening capability. The direct connection it provides offers communicators an opportunity to learn from as well as to inform and converse with their specific audience.

Listen to your audience.

Effectively listening to key issues your audience is concerned with and monitoring conversations about your organization or brand gives a perfect way to resolve conflict before it occurs.

Social media tools also allow for the fastest possible way to do so.

In directly communicating with a group or individual, the communicator can find information that is being miscommunicated, rumors that need to be corrected or influential groups that may not have yet been anticipated but are now active.

After listening to key issues and topics around your brand, it is important to remember the golden rule for online communication — transparency.

Have the right experts ready to answer the right questions.

It is the communicator’s job to find the individuals who have the right background knowledge and context to fill in the blanks your audience is concerned with. These experts can then be connected to media inquiries on the issue to provide a thorough explanation on key issues.

Find the expert with the right background, knowledge and context.

Letting an expert chime in on the key issue your audience is talking about not only positions you to resolve conflict but also shows that your organization is truly vested in its audience.

Adding credibility to the organization for which you work is undoubtedly one of the PR practitioners goals, and using tactics built upon transparency is the only route to get there.

If finding an expert is out of your time line, it may be required that you must chime in yourself.

In this case it is vital to remain as upfront and factual as possible in a conflict. This retains transparency in resolving conflicts and leaves the audience without question as to your intent in the situation.

What’s this all about?

Hello all, welcome to The Intermediary! If you check out my “about” page, you’ll see that I created this blog to explore and share the aspects in public relations that I find interesting.

There will be at least one new blog post per week, and I will try to cover the topic to the best of my knowledge at the time. If there are updates to any posts, I will strike through the corrected text and comment to the post indicating that it has been altered.

I will be discussing the following topics:

  • PR relating to the tech industry
  • Learning strategies and tactics from non-PR classes
  • Conflict resolution strategies and tactics
  • PR blunders and how they could be avoided
  • Social media strategies and tactics

If you have any ideas on issues that you would like to see addressed here or observations on any of my posts, please comment below!