Thursday, February 16, 2012

Branding Yourself Using Social Media

We all enjoy social media for gathering news, connecting with our friends and sharing content, but do we really know how to use it to its full advantage? Mike D. Merrill, the Director of Marketing at ReachLocal, was this month’s speaker at the PRSA Dallas luncheon on Feb. 9.

As a PR professional, we all know the basics of social media, but every once and a while a presentation can teach us something new. Mike expanded on social media in a way that grabbed my attention and made me think twice about making that call to action.

Mike’s presentation covered the value (and proven success) of using social media to personally brand yourself. Personal branding is the process in which people, and their careers or their lifestyles, are marketed as brands. With PR being such a competitive industry, everyone is looking for ways to market themselves, so why not do it for free using social networks?

After being laid-off at work, Mike wrote a simple post on LinkedIn advertising himself as a freelancer looking for work. The very next day he had several responses and quickly landed himself a job working for the University of Oklahoma. This unexpected amount of response launched him into building his career through blogging, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and almost any other social media outlet you can think of. Now, Mike travels all over the U.S. speaking about social media. Although Mike’s main focus is individual branding, his information can be applied to PR agencies and the work we do for brands. Below is Mike’s list of steps to start building your personal brand, whether it is in fact personal or professional.

1.    Benchmark the Current State: Search your name on Google and see what comes up. Set a Google alert for your name and check your Google analytics. This is your starting benchmark; watch the way your Google identity changes as you gain a larger web presence.
2.    Create Profiles and Engage: Join the conversation through blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. Make comments, answer questions, share useful articles and join groups.
3.    Share Content: Read other blogs and informational websites and use your social media outlets to share what you find interesting.
4.    Start Writing: Write wherever you can, whether it’s on blogs, commenting on reviews, posting in LinkedIn Groups or Yahoo answers. Start. Writing.
5.    Purchase Your Own Domain: The best way to brand yourself is to have your own URL.
6.    Network: Don’t wait until you get laid off to start networking. Attend networking events in your area and join professional organizations.
7.    Start Blogging: Demonstrate your expertise and commitment to your industry, profession and community. Develop your personal voice.
8.    Update Your Status Regularly: Update with unique ways that will induce interaction. Do something every day so your name shows up on home pages.

To learn more about how to make your own brand identity, check out Mike’s full presentation by clicking here and follow Mike on Twitter at @mikedmerrill.

This post was contributed by Kathrine Brody

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What We Really Do

Inspired by the internet meme of the graphics that depict perceptions versus realities in a variety of careers, our agency came up with its own twist on what a public relations professional really does.

Although some of us are masters at event management, how many times have people asked you, “Oh, PR is like party planning, right? How fun!”

Let us know if you agree with how we think the world views PR!
Created by Vicky Smithee, @VSmithee.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Strategy is Key to Navigating Vast Ocean of Social Media

Yes, you are reading yet another blog post on social media, but what makes this post different – and of course, worth your while – is the fact that it focuses on B2B social media. Before jumping into a social media campaign, we always tell our business-to-business clients the key to ROI and a successful campaign hinges upon one thing: strategy. Ignore the “online noise” and instead focus on your company’s strategy and harness it. Just like each client has different target audiences and industry segments, the same holds true for social media.  Different social media platforms are more beneficial for some clients than others. 

To determine what social media tool is best for your company, heed the advice our fearless agency owner, Cynthia Pharr Lee, recently imparted to an audience of healthcare financial managers during her presentation about the risks and rewards of social media. Cynthia stated, “The biggest part of a social media strategy is knowing where you are going and why. After you answer that question, determine an integrated social media strategy that makes sense for your company and stick with it. On the flip side, ignore digital strategy, and it can negatively impact your company’s success.”

I came across this article in Fast Company that further illustrates the points Cynthia made in her presentation. The author emphasizes setting a strategy for corporate tweeting, something all  B2B social media campaigns should take note of.
A strategic and disciplined approach to social media provides yet another way for B2B clients to develop thought leadership platforms and positioning in the marketplace. It can be a brand builder and a reputation enhancer.  Not being engaged in the social media conversation is no longer an option for any brand or company out there.

I’ll offer you the same advice that Cynthia gave during her presentation: Strategy is the key to making an impact on the destiny of your company in the vast ocean that is social media. Or, you can sit back and see where the waves of social media will take your company… I just hope it’s in a positive direction.

This post was contributed by Leah Ekmark.