Several weeks ago, I attended a San Francisco Public Relations Round Table Lunch featuring Kit Yarrow as a guest speaker.
Kit Yarrow, if you don’t already know, is a consumer research psychologist, author and professor at Golden Gate University. Her latest book, Gen Buy, takes a look at Generation Y’s purchasing behaviors and what makes them tick.
Kit’s presentation was insightful and as a card-carrying member of Gen Y, most of her findings rung true for me personally. However, Kit made a passing reference about the lack of depth in social media interaction that got me thinking.
There’s a prejudice, primarily among older generations, against digital communications. Interactions that take place via social media or text message are viewed as less meaningful than face-to-face or verbal communication. I disagree.
Gen Y understands how online forums, instant messaging (remember ICQ?) and online gaming opened up our worlds. It allows us to find people with similar niche interests and expand our social networks beyond the people we meet “in real life.” For Gen Y, “virtual” does not mean simulated – our activities in the “virtual” world are very real to us. We’re the generation that pays real money for virtual gaming goods. We’re the generation that “meets” the president on Reddit.
We prefer to communicate digitally because we communicate differently, not because our relationships lack depth.
1. We grew up in the age of multitasking and digital communications facilitates this. We can switch seamlessly from work projects to GTalk to Facebook to Twitter. We hold multiple conversations across multiple platforms.
2. Because of the volume of our communications, we need our conversations to be archivable and searchable. If we forget what time an event starts, we don’t need to pester the harried host with a phone call. We just pull up the details on Elite or Facebook. Joining a project midway and need to catch up? Have relevant emails forwarded to you and read through the email threads to get a better idea of the project’s progression and current status.
3. Digital communications allow us to share in the banalities of each other’s lives, and we LIKE it. Some may scoff at mundane status updates about what one had for dinner or what one wore to a party, but think about your conversations with your closest friends. Aren’t those conversations about nothing in particular?
4. Our vocabulary now includes multimedia. We use pictures, animated gifs, emojis and video/audio clips to creatively convey our thoughts. Digital communications enable us to enrich our conversations with more than just words. An exquisitely selected meme is worth a thousand words.
The same principles apply to companies.
1. Companies should have a multi-platform approach to reaching audiences. – Your audiences will be spread out across different channels online and offline. Pinpoint those channels and prioritize resources accordingly.
2. Make your information easily searchable. – People often conduct their own online research. Facilitate their search by optimizing content on your own channels and have an active online presence.
3. Talk with your audiences. Listen to their stories. Share your stories. – Provide behind-the-scenes details about your product or company. People appreciate getting to know their favorite products and companies. Have a meaningful presence on social media. Don’t wait until you wish you had a Twitter audience or Facebook page to support your brand during a viral crisis. Don’t miss opportunities to have your brand’s fans and supporters affirm you on a daily basis.
4. Communicate visually and creatively. – Consider an infographic to display content in a shareable way or a cleverly captioned image to make your point.
So if I don’t ever call you, it doesn’t mean we’re not friends. It just means I prefer to text or talk online. Similarly, if you feel disconnected from your audiences, it’s not because they have nothing to say. You may just not be listening in the right places.
The depth of public discourse about food these days is extraordinary. Every step of the food production process – from ingredient-sourcing to materials used in packaging – is scrutinized. We are obsessed with food and everyone, it seems, is a food expert. When it comes to working with the food media, it’s important to carefully consider your approach with bloggers and journalists. These are some of the factors our team at Fineman PR considers when selecting media to approach for our food PR clients.
Influence is not defined strictly by the size of one’s audience. Influence is a result of reaching the right audience. Say you’re introducing a new gluten-free product. It’s a crowded marketplace and you are competing with so many other gluten-free products hitting the market. Sure, a brief mention in the Los Angeles Times will help drive awareness and earn credibility, but a rave review in a gluten-free blog will probably influence more of your key audience –gluten-free minded consumers– to seek out your product. One percent of L.A. Times readers may be interested in gluten-free products1 while 100 percent of a gluten-free blog’s readers are actively seeking out gluten-free products and will likely be driven to purchase said product Both media have something valuable to offer with the right approach.
Just as you have regional and national traditional media, there are national and regional food bloggers. But unlike traditional media, the blogosphere is not divided into designated market areas (DMA). The Pioneer Woman may write from Pawhuska, Okla., but she has readers all around the country. Conversely, you have bloggers with national renown such as Carolyn Jung/Food Gal, who also write for regional audiences. Again, the right approach will increase your topic’s relevancy (and your credibility).
Preparing for Questions
Sure, your product is delicious, but where did it come from? How was it made? Do you treat your employees well? Consumers want delicious food, but they also want to feel good about buying it. Expect probing questions from traditional journalists AND bloggers. And be prepared for an ongoing dialogue – once an article or blog hits – that may be just the beginning of an in-depth conversation.
Compared to the blogosphere, consumer engagement is more limited in traditional media. Bloggers often welcome meaningful interaction with food companies. We work with our clients to create blogger and traditional media sampling programs, party sponsorships, blind tastings, contests and giveaways in addition to trends and issues-focused food news. A robust, diverse approach with both types of media can help differentiate you from your competitors and keep you top of mind among your target audience.
Food PR is an exciting and challenging area of public relations and requires fresh thinking to break through the crowd.
1 An estimated one percent of Americans have celiac disease.
What does a Social Media Manager do?
Fineman PR manages the social media presence for several of our accounts. In contrast to many jobs, my position as the Director of Social Media requires that I spend a part of every day on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube.
Managing a client’s social media presence requires so much more than tweeting, uploading photos/videos and getting new people to like/follow a brand. Social media communications is not just about apps and tactics. (more…)
To edit or not to edit? The ethics of editing Wikipedia is a hot topic in the PR industry right now and there really are no hard and fast rules. Fineman PR’s take? Common sense and transparency should take precedence.
According to Wikipedia: “Wikipedia does not have firm rules. Rules in Wikipedia are not carved in stone, and their wording and interpretation are likely to change over time. The principles and spirit of Wikipedia’s rules matter more than their literal wording, and sometimes improving Wikipedia requires making an exception to a rule.”
Some PR agencies have a blanket policy against editing Wikipedia entries for clients. While we can appreciate the spirit behind which these rules were created, we believe that such a policy could be a disservice to a client. Why should an organization be prohibited from speaking in a forum about itself? If the goal is neutral and entries factual, why exclude a major source of information?