Monthly Archives: December 2010

My Top 5 Social Media Moments of 2010

It’s the time of year for lists! I know you’ll be disappointed if you don’t get one.

So here are 5 moments that made social media worthwhile for me in 2010. Either that or they just had my jaw dropping. Enjoy!

  1. My mate Jane Garvey joins Twitter and secures 2,000 followers in a matter of days. I like this one for a number of reasons. Firstly because it’s great to have one of my wittiest friends out there brightening my day with her observations about the follies of everyday life. Her Woman’s Hour newsletter is consistently funny and clever – I wrote about it here in A blog by any other name But her Twitter debut also reveals how different it is out there if you are even remotely well-known. Not for her the lonely hours of radio silence when nobody responds to your so-called ‘crowd sourcing’ questionnaire. People are fascinated by a celebrity’s every move and this radio presenter gets Re-Tweets for asking a server to say please in a sandwich shop. But you also realise how circumspect you have to be if you are in the public eye or represent a brand e.g. the BBC. There is so much you want to say that you just can’t risk – so no tweeting on girls’ night out, no dissing the children’s teachers and no bad-mouthing celebrities – you never know when you might be asked to interview them.
  2. The discovery of David Meerman Scott. David blogs at Web Ink Now and is a renowned social media expert in the States. I have followed such ‘gurus’ ever since I took up social media but David was something else again, namely someone who said everything I wanted to say but hadn’t got around to thinking out for myself! Reading his book Real Time Marketing and PR was a joy for me because I agreed with everything he said (which is rare.) The emphasis on real-time and having a 24 hour newsroom mindset is something I have returned to again and again and I hope he will continue to inspire me in 2011 – plus he is a really nice guy and made personal contact when he saw that I had written about his work,so thanks David!Please do read his book or indeed any of the others he’s penned.
  3. The spat at Men with Pens left me open-mouthed. We’ve all heard about flaming and trolls and other nasties associated with blogging but I had never come across it before until I  stumbled upon this almighty row at one of my favourite blogs. It blew up after James Chartrand, the chatelaine of M with P’s, called out an anonymous writer for using a personal tragic tale to pull on the heart-strings in a sales letter. I really don’t want to go into the detail but it blew up out of all proportion and the row spread across the internet like flames through stubble. The whole thing left me feeling rather sad and disillusioned – like a kid watching their favourite grown-ups pissed and brawling. (ooh—-I grew up that day!!!!)  The big lesson here is that it is almost impossible to have a civilised discussion where tone of voice is so hard to detect and if you can’t see the pain in their eyes don’t say the mean things. 
  4. I really enjoyed getting involved in a lively discussion about Bloggers and PR. In my post Should PR Leave Bloggers alone? I came close to suggesting that PR had jumped on the wrong bandwagon. I was suspicious about the motives of some PRs and felt that bloggers were being treated as dupes. However I soon came to realise that a lot of bloggers – mummy bloggers in particular – are sharp, switched on media women with journalism or PR backgrounds and they really can take care of themselves!    
  5. This was the year a friend of mine over at Making People Happy With Cake penned THE funniest story – entitled Kebab Anyone? When I had finished laughing I shared the link along with – I am guessing – several of her other readers. As a result, within days the story had been on Radio 4 twice and was being repeated at dinner parties as far away as France. It just goes to show that good material WILL be shared even if the person doing the re-telling sometimes takes the liberty of saying it happend to them. Just ask another friend of mine who spotted some great time-lapse video of the New York blizzards on Twitter yesterday which ended up on the main TV news. Who is going to get the credit for that?

So there you are – my top 5 Social media moments of the past year – what were yours?

This Much I Know

What is the sum of my knowledge from this past year – what do I know now that I didn’t before?

Truly? Get out of here – I can’t tell you that! OK I’ll tell you the bits that are relevant to the part of my life spent trying to earn a living.

  • Make Real-time Your Goal. Opportunities are there but they move pretty quickly and it’s no use responding to an appeal someone put out on Twitter last week. In travel PR requests sometimes go out for information on certain types of holiday and even when there is a generous deadline giving you time to get your information together, the prized editorial always goes to the first relevant replies. The same goes for writing jobs where it’s a first come first served world. Got some exclusive information? Don’t sit on it – get it out there now – even when you don’t have a competitor racing you for it, it just looks so much better when you act like a news operation. Real Time is still relevant! 
  • Words Still Matter Video is getting all the glory at the moment and where would we be without images? But to my mind (and I would say this) words  still can’t be topped. We can move people with words, conveying rich, complex ideas. Words work so hard for us, don’t ever give up on using them.
  • Twitter Doesn’t Work Unless You Talk to People  I’ve said it before but really, Twitter is a lonely place unless you communicate. Don’t be the bozo at the party – people want to talk. 
  • Your Blog Will Still Carry On Without You for a limited period if you have to take a break. I had some sad family news recently and had to let the blog live on without my help for a bit, which it did admirably. Past posts came to the rescue and kept the pipes warm until I could get back to it. Did you miss me? 

Should PR Leave Bloggers Alone?

Bloggers are the “big it” right now and just about everyone wants a piece of them and front of the queue are PRs

Why? Because bloggers provide the potential to reach audiences other media can not. Many people are becoming harder to reach because they no longer read a  newspaper every day, we may also fail to consume other mainstream media in the old patterns which used to be well understood.

If a blogger can be persuaded to become a conduit for PR messages, then this message stands a good chance of spreading. Add in retweets and link sharing on social media and the message can potentially flow into a huge hinterland previously untapped and it all sounds like a very good idea indeed.

The problem is that in many cases neither side really “gets” the other. PRs are frequently guilty of cutting and pasting a list of Britain’s top bloggers in the relevant sector into their to do list before hitting them en masse with a press release and expecting the blogger to be grateful.

But of course, the majority of bloggers don’t blog in order to please third parties, they do it because they feel compelled to write, because they love their subject or because they feel the need to share. They might be persuaded to blog about a product in the right circumstances but that is not why they are there.

At this stage I must point out that I work in PR but I blog as well so I can see  both sides and having spent time talking to bloggers about the subject I have begun to wonder whether PRs shouldn’t just leave bloggers alone.

But of course things are not as simple as that.

Sometimes the marriage between blogger and PR message can be very good indeed. If I were a blogger who talked about how to make life easier for mums with small children then a product review for something which did just that would be great. But I would not expect to be told what to say and I would  want to see the product I was reviewing – in most cases I would expect to keep it too.

Bloggers want something in return and content is not enough. That is the message I have been getting loud and clear. One thing that’s easy to forget is that journalists get paid by the publication they write for, bloggers do not.

So treat bloggers with care and respect. Read what they write before you hit them up, make them a good offer and don’t fall off your chair if they turn you down.