Are You In The Business Of Rapid Content Creation?

Rapid content creation 2It's 2014. If you are in PR, marketing or communications - or have that as part of your role, even if you are not formally in that "department" - is part of your business the rapid creation of online content?

The Internet provides all of us with a fundamental opportunity on a scale great than we've ever had before:

We can tell our OWN story, in our OWN words, through our OWN channels.

The gatekeepers of the past to whom you had to beg permission for them to publish news about your organization are now... gone. Disrupted by the Internet.

As Tom Foremski famously wrote, "every company is a media company." (Also see these posts.)

But have YOU embraced that?

Are you thinking like a "media company"? Are you thinking about how you can best tell your story online? Are you thinking about how you enable many people within your organization to tell your story?

I'm not just talking about social media and encouraging employees to share or retweet corporate tweets or posts on Facebook or Google+.

Are you enabling people within your organization to rapidly create online content related to their roles?

Can they easily post blog posts? Can they post videos to YouTube? Can they create an audio podcast episode? Can they post photos to Instagram or Pinterest or Flickr?

Or does everything have to go through YOU in the PR or Marketing department? Are YOU the only one who can post information about the company online?

And if so, can you/your department scale to truly represent your company online when thinking like a media company?

Unless you've got a large staff and budget, I think the answer for most people is that to truly embrace the "media company" thinking, you have to look at how you enable more people within your organization to rapidly post content about their aspects of the company. Your role can then evolve to be in helping with the overall strategy and with enabling the individual groups within the company to rapidly create online content - and also to post

If you are embracing the "every company is a media company" opportunity that is out there (and guess what, if you aren't your competitors either already are or will be soon), then you need to start asking yourself some questions:


Do people within your organization have the authority to create online content related to their part of the organization? Can they do so rapidly? Or does everything have to go through 15 layers of approvals before it can go out?

Do you trust certain people within your organization to communicate online on behalf of your organization?


On a purely practical level, CAN they rapidly create content? Does your website or blog system allow them to rapidly create content? Do they have the tools - and training on the tools - to be able to create content?

Have you reduced the "latency" in your processes? Is the user experience as fast as it can be?

If someone wants to post something online, particularly someone who might only be doing this as a small part of their larger work, can they get into your system, enter in their content fast, and publish it quickly?

Or is your system slow, with many different screens and fields that just don't make sense?

If you have a non-tech-savvy person who just wants to post an article with maybe a photo, can they do that fast?


To that point, do the people in your organization have the skills to rapidly create content? Do you have people who can write well who are tasked with communicating for their group? Do you have people knowledgable in how to create videos or well-done photographs? Do you have people who understand the nuances of using different types of social media services?

Think about this - have you ever considered "embedding reporters" into the different groups and teams within your organization? Hiring people with communications skills who don't work directly for, say, the PR department, but instead are working within the actual product teams or other divisions within your company?

Could you do something like that with those embedded communications people having some connection to your central team? (And some companies are doing exactly this by hiring some of the journalists who have been laid off from the true "media companies" (ex. newspapers) who have been disrupted.)

Can you help people within your organization to gain the skills to help tell their part of your larger story?

The Internet has fundamentally disrupted the traditional view of PR, marketing and communications. The opportunity is there for people who can embrace the new world to truly rise above the others out there and tell their story in their own words.

Are you embracing that change?

Are you enabling the people in your organization to rapidly create their own content?

Are you thinking like a "media company"?

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Internet Society Hiring Marketing Communication Manager - Apply Now!

Isoc logoDo you want to ensure that the Internet remains "open" for everyone? Would you like to work for a global nonprofit organization focused on promoting "the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world"? Would you like to work with me[1] and the other great people we have on our staff?

If you have a marketing / communications background, the Internet Society is looking for a "Marketing Communications Manager" based in our Reston, Virginia, USA, office. Full details and information about how to apply can be found here:

The Internet Society (also known as "ISOC") is an excellent organization[2] working on a wide range of activities related to the development of Internet access, public policy around Internet governance and open standards and the key technologies underlying the Internet. We have a simple vision that "The Internet is for everyone" and that underpins everything we do. Our latest business plan lays out our priorities for the next few years and if you take a look you'll see we're active all around the world.

A key element of all that work is to increase the capacity of our Communications team - and this new role is a key element of that.

I hope that some of you reading this will take a look and strongly consider applying!

There are a great many battles out there for the future of the Internet... and we need people who can help us get our messages out!

[1] To be clear on how I fit in here, I should note that while I am involved with external communications for the Internet Society, it is through the Deploy360 Programme, one of the programs of an internal team known as the "Deployment & Operationalization (DO) Team". You can read more about why I joined ISOC and what I am doing there. I work with people on the Communications team and so you would be one of the people with whom I would potentially work - but there are also 70+ other employees scattered around the world.

[2] I was a member of the Internet Society long before I became a staff person in September 2011.

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Note to PR People: PLEASE INCLUDE A URL With Your News Release!


Yet again I was reminded today that so many people involved with public relations (PR)[1] simply fail to understand how media works in 2012 - and fail to understand how one simple step could help them help other people tell their story!

As is the case most days, I received another batch of news releases[2], and there was one in particular I wanted to write about... but...

There was NO URL to where the news release was posted on the Internet!

Here's the thing... I write articles on my various sites. In doing so, I like to link to original sources. I'm generally NOT simply going to post your news release verbatim... I want to provide some context or commentary - but I want to provide a link back to the news release for any readers who want to read what the company/organization said.

Usually this takes the form of something like:

blah, blah, blah... As company XYZ indicated in a news release today, they will be... blah, blah, blah...

I like doing this as a way of citing an original source.

But to do this... I NEED A URL!

If you as a PR professional do not include a link to your news release in the email you send me, that means I have to dig for one. I have to go and try to find it on your site.

Odds are with the very little time I have for most of my writing, I'm not going to do that! Unless I am extremely interested in writing about your topic. I'm simply going to move on and write about something else.

Here I am... offering to give you a free link... to send people over to your site. TO SEND YOU TRAFFIC!

And you're missing that opportunity!

Yeah, Dan, but how many people actually read your site, you say? After all, I'm not __<insert name of big site>__.

Well, while my site may or may not send you much traffic, given that you are spamming me with an email you probably sent to a thousand other potential "media", you're potentially missing out on getting easy links from thousands of other people, too!

A Very Simple Recipe

Here's a VERY simple recipe for doing this right:

1. Publish your news release on YOUR site. You do have an area of your (or your client's) site where you post news releases, don't you?[3]

2. Visit the news release web page on your site using your web browser.

3. Copy the web address from your browser. (That would be the "URL" if you don't do geeky three-letter acronyms.)

4. Paste the web address into the news release email.

5. Spam your message out to me and everyone else, because clearly you don't have enough time to do PR correctly and target your messages appropriately.

Okay, step #5 may be a bit snarky... because in truth I've seen messages that have been targeted (and even individually tailored to me) that have still failed to include a URL.

A Bonus!

Here's another tip about why you might want to include a URL. I might not have the time - or interest - to write about your news release today. But I still might think it would be of interest to my "audience" of people who follow my site.

So while I might not post my own article, I might pass along your news via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.

But to do that, what do I need???

That's right... a LINK!

So by you failing to include a URL you're missing a moment when I might, right then, tweet out or post about your news release!

Instead I'll either have to try to find a link (which I may or may not do), or wait until sometime later when I see someone's post about your news.

Either way you lost my moment right then when I might have acted and helped spread your news.

Fix The Process!

Now, when I've asked some PR people why they have failed to send out a link in their email, often the comment is that "it takes a while" to publish the news release to the company/organization's site. They've wanted to get the word out quickly when the news release goes on the wire... and don't want to wait for whenever the company's web or IT team gets around to getting the page up on the site.


This is 2012, people!

If your website is not up to the task of dealing with real-time publishing of content, maybe you need to be asking some tough questions about your site.

Pretty much every content management system (CMS) I am aware of has some mechanism for scheduling content publishing in advance. WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, others... they all have it either built-in or available as an add-on. You should be able to get the news release loaded into the website and even get the URL that the news release will be available at. Then, when the news release goes live, you can be all ready to send out your spammy email to everyone pointing them to your site.

You're already loading the news release text into a wire service web interface to distribute it... why can't you (or someone within your organization) also load it into your own site and queue it for publication at a specific time?

This is NOT rocket science or quantum physics.

If the "web team" or "IT team" won't let you load it into the site - or has some other issue making the content available at a specific time or at the very least getting you a URL - well, that is a process issue.

Fix it!

Send me and everyone else a URL to where your news release is posted on your site.

Help us tell your story!

One simple step.

Stop making excuses.

Do it!

P.S. And no, I did not write about that news release I saw this morning because the PR person did not include a URL... and I spent my time writing this rant instead! :-)

P.P.S. And for bonus points, you can even go a step above your other PR peers and have the link you send me also have links to company logos, quotes, photos, videos... other things you might want me to potentially include in my article. It could be a full-blown "social media news release" - or it could just be a set of easy-to-find links in the sidebar next to your news release. Help me tell your story! Make it super easy for me to do... and odds are I will!

[1] When I say "people involved with PR", I do not mean only people at PR agencies. It could be someone on staff or contracting for a company/organization... basically anyone sending out email messages promoting news releases.

[2] NONE of which were actually targeted to me, but rather just spammed out there... but that's another "PR101" topic for another day.

[3] Some people do send out URLs to the news release on distribution services like PR Newswire or Marketwire and while that's at least a link we can use, why send traffic to the distribution services site? Why not send it to your site instead? Where it can be surrounded in your branding and your other links?

Image credit: _maracuja on Flickr

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Watching The Colossal PR Train Wreck Of The Susan G. Komen / Planned Parenthood Debacle

This, my friends, is what a truly colossal PR/social media train wreck looks like...

Komen facebook comments

... and the comment count will undoubtedly be higher by the time you all look at the Facebook page.

If you've missed the story that's all over the news, the Susan G. Komen For The Cure organization has got itself into a PR nightmare. Most of us in the USA and many parts of the world are probably aware of the Komen organization. It is a major force in efforts to raise funds for research into a cure for breast cancer and has made the now ubiquitous "pink ribbon" a powerful symbol. My wife and I have donated to Komen and run in multiple Komen-sponsored races and walks, even before my wife wound up fighting breast cancer.

Train wreck at Montparnasse 1895
Today, though, the Komen organization is in a great bit of trouble.

Last year, per the company's story, in an effort to be more accountable and be sure their dollars were making the most impact, they tightened up their eligibility requirements for future grants.

This, in and of itself, is a good thing. Charitable organizations should look at how to be more accountable to their donors and ensure their dollars are going the farthest.

Back in December, Komen notified its longtime partner Planned Parenthood that under the new guidelines they would no longer be able to receive new grants, apparently because Planned Parenthood is under investigation by the US Congress related to its use of federal funds.

Again, one can potentially see the point. If an organization is being investigated about its funding, other donors to that org may want to take a "wait and see" approach until the investigation is resolved.

And if the organization in question were not Planned Parenthood this might all have all been seen as proper fiduciary responsibility on the part of the Komen organization.

Playing With Fire

However, in our hyper-politicized age, and in an election year, an organization like Planned Parenthood is a insanely hot lightning rod. The mere mention of the name can send some crowds into a frenzy.

Anything involving Planned Parenthood is playing with fire.

And so when the AP broke the news on Tuesday, the predictable media frenzy started. Planned Parenthood blamed anti-abortion foes and right-wing groups and was, understandably, quick to stoke the flames and use the issue as a fund-raising tool. Rather smart on their part and last I heard they had already raised nearly as much in donations than Komen granted to Planned Parenthood in 2011.

Komen's position was not helped by the fact that they recently hired a vice president who previously stated her strong opposition to Planned Parenthood. In fact, she clearly stated in a run for Governor of Georgia that if elected she would eliminate state grants to Planned Parenthood.

More wood for the fire.

And then...

... the Internet took over.

A zillion tweets... more and more and more... thousands upon thousands of Facebook comments, posts and shares... more in Google+... more in blog posts... spreading like wildfire all around the globe...

The Response?

And in the face of this insane maelstrom, the Komen organization did...


As Kivi Leroux Miller writes in her excellent post, "The Accidental Rebranding of Komen for the Cure," the Komen crew was missing in action while all the action was going down.

Komen was not active on their Twitter account nor on their Facebook page.... nor anywhere.

They lost control of the narrative.

They let the story be defined by the media, by pro-choice activists, by critics of Komen, by supporters of Planned Parenthood, by everyone else but them.

Train Wreck, 1905
Many hours later Komen issued a statement in corporate-speak about how their changes had been "mischaracterized" and that "our grant-making decisions are not about politics". They subsequently released a video from founder and CEO Nancy Brinker that I thought at first might be an honest outreach to people who were so upset... but turned out merely to be a visual recitation of that same corporate-speak statement. Similarly, they posted a few tweets and Facebook updates... but just again pointing to their statement or emphasizing key points.

Meanwhile, people all across the Internet are talking about ceasing all their donations to Komen. Sure, some who support the decision are saying that they are glad they can finally donate to Komen, but they are far outweighed by those who are critical of the change.

Komen's Facebook page is filling up with such wall posts and there is a constant stream of tweets directed at them.

They are, right now, pretty thoroughly screwed.

Now What?

So what does Komen do now? They have completely lost any control of the story - and the stories circulating on the Internet are now feeding upon themselves. How do you even remotely start to unmake this mess?

Given that I try to first believe "Never assume malice where stupidity is a far better explanation," I would personally like to believe that the Komen folks are sincere, that they made some changes to their grant-making guidelines and that this whole debacle has caught them unawares. I'd like to believe that, although admittedly the political angle does make that hard.

If they are sincere, though, were they really so clueless from a PR point of view that they didn't think about the political ramifications of their decision? Or if they did, why were they not prepared for the reaction?

As Kivi Leroux Miller writes in her post:

It’s a no-win situation that could have been avoided had they developed a communications strategy on this decision at the start. Sure, they would have still angered many of their supporters, but I believe they could have avoided this huge rift had they communicated upfront, and honestly, about the decision. They should have released it, instead of letting Planned Parenthood own the messaging.


On something as potentially contentious as this, they should have gone out first, rather than letting the AP and Planned Parenthood define the story.

Or, in the event of the AP story blowing up as it did, Komen should have had a plan to get out there and explain their decision in clearer terms.

Instead, as Kavi Leroux Miller writes:

Yet it appears that Komen wants to desperately pretend that this decision is being made in some completely different context. By not responding at all to the overwhelming negativity being thrown their way, and continuing to pretend that this has nothing to do with a red-hot social issue, they are alienating a big part of their constituency.

It seems like they are hoping this will just blow over. It won’t.

Hiding away won't help them.

While they've spent 30 years building up the organization, this past 30 hours may go far in destroying all they've built up.

Their only chance now may be to come out with more information about the changes to their grant-making guidelines, to explain more about why Planned Parenthood no longer qualifies, to explain what other organizations will no longer be able to receive funding.

It may be too late.

Are You Ready?

All of which begs the question...

are you ready for something like this to happen to your organization?
If a media story runs with comments critical of your organization, are you ready to deal with the resulting social media firestorm? What would you suggest for Komen to do from a communications point of view?

The story is still unfolding, but I think this one will definitely be an example for the textbooks in - so far - what not to do...

Image credits: learnscope and jill_carlson on Flickr

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LinkedIn's Brilliant PR Move - The "Personal" Letter To Its First Million Members

I do have to hand it to CEO Reid Hoffman and the others at LinkedIn for a positively brilliant action today. Like many others in the early adopter set, I received a "personal thank you" from Reid Hoffman thanking me for being among the first million LinkedIn users now that they have hit 100 million users. (If you didn't get the letter, no worries, TechCrunch posted a copy.)

The genius here was including our actual member number (which turns out to be the ID number in your LinkedIn URL). Mine is 199,110 ... which when you realize that there are now 100,000,000+ members means that I was indeed among the earlier folks using LinkedIn.

And... like the sheep we so often are in the early adopter set... my first reaction was to go tweet about it.

At which point I noticed a zillion other people tweeting about it...


Absolutely brilliant.

Some folks just tweeted how cool it was:



While others tweeted about being an early adopter:

Twitter   ian kennedy Thanks and congrats  quix

Twitter   Tim Wagner 476 525 Never let it be sa

And others did note the mass e-mail side of it:

Twitter   Dossy Shiobara Neat just got the mass em

Twitter   Ali Fenn  35 605 Great personal t

My favorite was perhaps this one...

Twitter   Brian Steeves I m an early adopter with

and this witty tweet...

Twitter   Sameer Patel I love you regardless of y

My own tweet, then, was one of amusement more than anything else.

Brilliantly done, LinkedIn ... you played us so extremely well. Appealing to our pride in being early adopters. You had to know we would tweet that out. And of course, we did. (And some of us even wrote blog posts about it.)

Well done.

P.S. Congrats, by the way, on hitting 100 million users.

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The FIR "Podroll" - *other* marketing/PR podcasts to listen to

FIR PodrollOn the January 17th FIR episode, Shel Holtz mentioned that he'd cleaned up the sidebar of the FIR site to make it both more readable and useful. Indeed he has and you can see the results at:

The most interesting part to me, though, is that if you scroll down the page toward the bottom of the sidebar, you come to the FIR "Podroll" listing other PR podcasts. Shel updated it and confirmed that all of these are active podcasts. While I knew most of them already, there were a couple that were new to me and so it was good to find out about them.

If you are looking for great audio content to listen to while you are traveling, working out or whatever, do check out the list!

P.S. And of course you can check out all the other aspects of the updated sidebar, too... :-)

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It happened again today... I received a news release via email from a PR firm that had some great news in it about which I want to write (and I will). However, there was one fundamental problem:


Not in the email from the PR firm. Not on the company/organization's website. Nowhere!

Here is the thing:



When writing about news, I generally like to include a sentence along the lines of:

Today Company XYZ announced that ...

with a link to the news release.

Help me out here... give me a link and I'll link to it!

To me, this should just be part of PR 101. (And I do this myself... when I sent out a Voxeo news release this morning, I made sure that a copy was available for linking online from our news release page... and I'm also distributing that link in our media outreach.)

When you send me an email with a news release either in the email itself or as an attachment, please also include a link. Don't make me go search for it... if I care enough, I might... but odds are that I won't... and maybe that means I won't write about it.

Now maybe this means that you have to coordinate with whomever manages your website so that the news release goes live on your site at or before the news release hits the wire. Maybe this means that someone has to come in earlier than he or she normally does - or sign in remotely.

Do it!

Get that URL out there on your site. Or if you can't do that, at least send out the URL for where your news release is at the wire service you are using. (And I would argue to make it happen on your site so that you are driving the traffic to your site and content, versus that of the distribution service.)

And then send out that URL along with the news release!

Flickr photo courtesy of striatic.

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A perfect example of how NOT to pitch a blogger through a blog comment...

How many ways can you spell "FAIL"?

You'd think the turkey could have at least filled in my name after "Dear" :-)


Needless to say, I won't be reviewing or trying his service.

(It was someone who is very obviously tracking posts related to a conference I mentioned over on my Disruptive Telephony blog and who seemed to have copied/pasted the contents of an email message into the blog comment, complete with email-type signature. The content was pure marketing-speak and had no personalization whatsoever to my blog. Too bad, because his service does sound halfway interesting... I might have looked it if he had taken a minute or two to personalize his pitch and try to relate it to what I write about. Pitching bloggers isn't rocket science, people!)

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Outstanding list of the "Best Internet Marketing Posts of 2009" from Tamar Weinberg

tamarweinberg.jpgOver on her "techipedia" blog, Tamar Weinberg has pulled together an outstanding list of "The Best Internet Marketing Posts of 2009". It's a LONG list... but Tamar has done an excellent job curating a list of what's been worthwhile to read this year in the social media / marketing space. There's a few I might add... but I can't quibble with any she's listed there.

If you're looking for good info on marketing, PR, social media, search/SEO, and many other topics... you definitely need to read through the list and start following links.

Thanks, Tamar, for compiling this list... it's a great resource for all of us.

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Summarizing the Attention Wave concept of packaging news releases

Back in September, I started talking about the idea of creating an "Attention Wave" - of building a package of content around your news release. The whole idea is that:
The opportunity has never been greater to tell your story in your own words.

And that in particular in our attention-starved time, one way to potentially attract more attention to your news is to create a "wave" of stories associated with your news. Instead of simply a single story that appears as a tweet and is then missed... there may be six different stories from you from different points-of-view, plus an audio podcast, plus a video on YouTube... plus stories from other people about your news. It's a series of tweets and retweets that do get attention from people on Twitter (for instance).

Here are the posts I put up on the series:

Over the course of 2010, I have a number of other posts I'd like to write in this series. I'm also looking for examples of people and companies using an approach like this that can be highlighted.

Thanks for all the great comments and feedback I've received about this concept - and I'm looking forward to writing more on it in the months ahead.

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