Getting in front of the audience

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Here are some key takeaways for PR professionals from the Meet the (New) Media panel that I moderated for the New York chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) on November 29, 2006.

  • Know where your audience is online.
  • Get in front of your audience. Use techniques like search engine optimization, online marketing and content syndication to increase visibility.
  • Read the blogs and publications your audience reads. Pick up the RSS (really simple syndication) feed to stay on top of updates.
  • Know who produces the content and what sort of information they find most useful.
  • Personalize your information to the writer’s interests. A colleague of mine often says that online, “the riches are in the niches”.
  • Brevity is essential. Forget the press release. Instead, craft a succinct, relevant and compelling overview.

It’s all pretty basic stuff and shows that PR professionals really can and must take advantage of online communications. The most important thing is to understand what works online. This comes through experience and familiarity with the online space. As a bonus to readers of this blog, I am offering a document called The Changing Media Landscape (PDF 170 KB) that I prepared for my colleagues at Fleishman-Hillard. This is a good primer for those less familiar with digital media and online PR that outlines some of the tools and techniques we use to navigate new communications.

The PRSA panel of experienced new media types included:

Photo: Rod Kurtz (left), Bart Feder (center), Will Femia (right)

We also celebrated the most popular Meet the Media event in the chapter’s history with almost 100 registrants. It’s definitely a sign of the times. Congratulations to Paula Horri (pictured below in the lower left corner) who organized the event.

 

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[tags]prsa, newmedia, meetthemedia[/tags]

 

The experience architects

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I have worked with teams in the past to “architect” (ok – so it’s not a verb) some pretty amazing Web sites. I have worked with incredibly talented information architects. My roommate in university was studying architecture. Maybe a bit of a stretch, but I love building solutions.

I have started calling myself something new, simply out of the evolving nature of my job. While I still like “navigator” (the inspiration for this blog), a term that struck me recently is “experience architect”.

Knowing that this probably wasn’t original, I did a quick search and found a post from Tom Kelly of IDEO a year ago that discussed architecting experiences in a review of The Experience Economy. He has written a book called The Ten Faces of Innovation that uses this exact term to describe one of the faces of innovation:

“The Experience Architect is that person relentlessly focused on creating remarkable individual experiences. This person facilitates positive encounters with your organization through products, services, digital interactions, spaces, or events. Whether an architect or a sushi chef, the Experience Architect maps out how to turn something ordinary into something distinctive—even delightful—every chance they get.”

Tom Kelly, IDEO

Tony Russell, my boss when I worked at GreyInteractive and Lasso Communications, used to say:

“Online, your brand is only as strong as your customer’s last experience.”

Tony was the guy that helped me really “get it”. He was an ideas guy and really knew what it was all about, I would argue before many had truly clued in. He ranted on and on about customer service. New ideas flew around the office daily. Some were great and others half-baked. But they were ideas. They were the start of an experience. A book called Real Time: Preparing for the Age of the Never Satisfied Consumer by Regis McKenna topped his list of must-reads. There is a great article I helped place in Computer Dealer News about the importance of conversation and customer service in online spaces. It’s pretty amazing how almost 10 years later this still rings true.

Today at FH Digital, we’re really excited by our experience in virtual worlds. Every day, I have the chance to work with people who are doing incredible things in Second Life and Virtual Laguna Beach. Having spent some time myself navigating the metaverse and evaluating opportunities, I can’t wait for the 3D Internet to truly emerge. It seems like every day, we’re embarking on a new adventure.

Wow, that was alot to pack into one post. Talk about stream of thought. I hope you find it useful.

[tags]experience+architect, marketing, web2.0, secondlife[/tags]

To be a source or a resource

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John Armato: Think Inside the BoxI was chatting yesterday with a colleague of mine, John Armato. He is one of the most creative folks I’ve met and had the pleasure to work with in the PR industry. He’s also really juiced about the opportunities digital communication creates for our business. In fact, he recently started a blog called Think Inside the Box: Thoughts for living a life of ideas and filling up the box. We talked about maintaining a blog and keeping it alive. He’s updating his blog a couple of times a month on average and commented that his posts were more streams of thought. They aren’t your average blog postings which tend to reference other sites, pages or postings that fit into the network of commentary we call the blogosphere. Is this a bad thing? No.

This sparked a stream of thought for me. I had suggested that when you write the sort of content John produces, you can be more of a source than a resource. I’d call a resource blog one that catalogues links within a contextual framework. Is one better than the other? Not really. If you have unique insights and an intriguing point of view, you can be a source of ideas, facts, advice, humour, etc. If you’re really good, you can tie them all together. A source is insightful. A resource is useful.

John also talked about the challenges of attracting an audience. To be a recognized source, you need to find creative ways to draw people to your blog since you may not necessarily be utilizing as many outbound links to draw traffic back to your site. In time, people will find you, but you need to start networking yourself online.

[tags]blogs, fleishman-hillard[/tags]