Friday, December 26, 2008

Joining the Social Media Revolution: Blogs, Twitter and facebook

Are you blogging? Are you Tweeting? Are you on facebook?

If you have no idea what more than one of those things are, or how to use them to benefit your business, you’re missing out on what is shaping up to be an online social media revolution.

Online social media is all about interaction with your customers and with potential customers via the Internet.

Blogs, Twitter and facebook are just three social media sites that can help you reach out to potential clients and build your online reputation at the same time.

Getting Started with Blogs
Blogging has become the craze of the 21st century, and there’s no sign of this particular craze going away. Literally hundreds of millions of people have blogs.

With easy-to-start blog sites like (run by Google) you can be up and running with a blog without any technical hassles. This particular blog site makes it remarkably easy - setting your background colors and format has been made idiot-proof, and you’ll be blogging very quickly.

Why blog? Blogging allows you to show your expertise, to connect with customers, and cast your name into the large waters of the Internet and be heard, via search engines.

For example, my post on the Abbott PR blog ( about a rather ill-advised General Motors TV ad pushing for a bailout called “Why GM’s “Ripple Effect” PR Video Will Fail” was picked up by Google, and is now the number one search for *“Ripple Effect” video PR* That’s valuable to your business.

Uses of a blog can be to post your thoughts on a trend in your field, to post news releases, to discuss new policies, and to make other announcements.

Tweeting About Yourself
Twitter is a rapidly growing phenomenon and a relative newcomer to the Online world.

The company describes itself as: “privately funded startup with offices in the SoMA neighborhood of San Francisco, CA. Started as a side project in March of 2006, Twitter has grown into a real-time short messaging service that works over multiple networks and devices.”

Basically, you sign up, and begin typing messages - called “tweets” - all of which are limited to 140 characters. The limitation, says the company, inspires creative and thoughtful expression, and so it does.

You can use your computer to tweet, or you can send messages via your cell phone or from your desktop, using various other online services that have sprung up.

Some users never get past posting exactly what they’re doing RIGHT NOW, the original intention and most used purpose of the service.

But getting past the “my cat just rolled over” or “I’m eating” phase is important, and some major business gurus, like Guy Kawasaki ( have Twitter accounts, and use them to promote their books and ink to news stories online that deal with trends in their business or breaking news.

And - as with blogs, the service is a great way to express your expertise in your field, and thus build up your reputation.

Search your profession right now at to find how people in your profession are using this service to do just that.

The social networking aspect of Twitter consists of gathering “followers” on Twitter by becoming “friends” with others, and is an excellent way to expand the reach and knowledge of your company, and yourself.

Gathering facebook Colleagues
Facebook is an excellent example of an online social media network because it is so vast. Over 600,000 NEW users join facebook EVERY SINGLE DAY!

Originally started with college students in mind, high school students and then their parents quickly got facebook pages, too. Finally, businesses have joined the fray, and facebook allows companies large and small to have pages that reach out to a wide variety of demographics. (Advertising opportunities on facebook are also worth looking into.)

Like other services, you can sign onto facebook and create a personal page relatively quickly. Once that’s done, starting a business-related page, posting “notes” (basically blogging) and using the "status update" feature to discuss your business life, as well as your personal life, can

And like Twitter, facebook "friends" can be gathered in your social network, though you should start with friends, colleagues and nearby residents in the real world, then THEIR friends online will join you as well. You can also start or join existing “groups” that promote your products or your profession.

From this very brief introduction, you can begin to see that the opportunities for self-promotion and reputation building are indeed huge online.

These new social networking sites are new and exciting ways of expanding your reach beyond the four walls of your business, and for spreading the word about your own expertise and services to the virtual Internet Community that’s becoming commonplace in the 21st Century.


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Monday, December 15, 2008

PR campaigns help funding, study shows

A study published in PR Week magazine showed that startup companies utilizing PR campaigns are 30 percent more successful in getting funding within one to three motnhs than those that don’t.

The study was condudcted by Chicago’s BIGfrontier Communications Group.

Forty-four percent of the respondents who used PR outreach received funding in the one-to-three-month time period versus 14% of those that did not. The survey also found that 78% of respondents who said PR helped in their funding efforts are planning to use some of their venture capital for additional PR.

“Those entrepreneurs understand that anything they can do to get them an advantage to get limited or finite funding is something they should avail themselves of, especially now,” said Steve Lundin, founder of BIGfrontier. The boutque firm specializes in PR for startups, tech and consumer companies, and law firms.

Overall, though, the survey found that only 18% of the 300 startups surveyed had a PR program in place during the funding process.

This clearly and starkly underlines the importance of an ongoing PR campaign, especially for small start-ups.

Abbott PR prides itself on working with these small companies - even one-person shops - who don't usually have access to "BIG PR FIRMS."

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Motrin “gets” PR after ad campaign misstep

A few weeks ago, Motrin pulled an ad created for it by its creative agency that had moms all around the country in an uproar.

The ad sought to address the concerns of mothers who get back pain from carrying their babies in a sling or in a device that allows them to hang in front of them, either facing forward or towards the mother, while her hands are free to work, or shop, or walk. The ad, of course, recommended Motrin for the back and neck pain that these devices can cause.

Check out the ad below, on YouTube:

Some phrases pop out in this video. The fact that moms are carrying their babies as a “fashion accessory” or that it “totally makes me look like an official mom,” for starters. Both are patronizing to women, and a bit insulting.

At least that’s how tens of thousands of mothers saw it.

Outraged at the tone and attitude of the ad, which was not only on TV, but placed in magazines and papers as well, angry moms took the case against Motrin viral.

YouTube was almost instantly flooded with videos of moms expressing contempt for the ad’s condescending tone. They used the social networking site Twitter to spread the word about the ad, flooding it with contempt for the ad, the product and the company. They also emailed and called the company, and caused an uproar in more traditional media.

The Chicago Tribune later reported that one video created by an upset mom was viewed over 12,000 times.

To be sure, there were many bloggers, Tweeters and YouTube commenters who replied that some mothers were getting too upset, and that there were some more important things to be outraged about. That, of course, didn’t get the company off the hook.

The company, knowing they had erred, acted quickly. They pulled the broadcast ad, and published an apology on their Website,

Four days later, on Nov. 20, they posted yet another apology:

So…it’s been almost 4 days since I apologized here for our Motrin advertising. What an unbelievable 4 days it’s been. Believe me when I say we’ve been taking our own headache medicine here lately!

Btw - if you’re confused by this - we removed our Motrin ad campaign from the marketplace on Sunday because we realized through your feedback that we had missed the mark and insulted many moms. We didn’t mean to…but we did. We've been able to get most of the ads out of circulation, but those in magazines will, unfortunately, be out there for a while.

We are listening to you, and we know that's the best place to start as we move ahead. More to come on that.

In the end, we have been reminded of age-old lessons that are tried and true:
When you make a mistake - own up to it, and say you’re sorry.

Learn from that mistake.

That’s all... for now.

Kathy Widmer
VP Marketing
McNeil Consumer Healthcare

And they got it just right.

The rules of public relations are just as Ms. Widmer stated: admit mistakes publicly and quickly, and learn from them.

To fail to admit a mistake - to dig in one’s heels and fail to own up to it (like a certain Illinois governor, perhaps?) or to grudgingly admit it, but fail to take corrective action, would both be failed reactions to a PR crisis like this one.

But Motrin, while angering a lot of moms out there, has also perhaps saved a lot of their business in the long run by pivoting so quickly and changing course.

That’s a good lesson for all companies.

But the lesson doesn't end there. The makers of Motrin learned:

1) Don't underestimate your customers, and don't be condescending to them.
2) "Motrin Moms" are tech-savvy.
3) These videos, Tweets (postings to Twitter) and blog postings will remain online FOREVER. So they've got a lot of work to do to overcome this episode.

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