Integration in a Fragmented Media World
Like many, we all have our profiles set up in more than a few social networking sites. It could become a time consuming and complex task to keep up and in touch with all your friends and contacts from all these different networks. In my last post, I hinted at how fragmented communications has become. There are now tools that allow you to either post or connect across all the popular networks – Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo, GovLoop, Flickr, Friendster, Twitter, AIM, MSN Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger, just to name a few.
Are you a media, marketing, social marketing, public affairs or communications strategist looking for ways to streamline your external communications outreach and increase the depth of your Internet penetration? You can accomplish a more mature communications model that mirrors near “continuous communications” out to your target audiences. And, you can do it across multiple online media channels. There are a few ways in which you can carry out this multi-tasking function.
You can either do it one by one with each individual channel with a single cut and peck-peck-peck method (no please don’t do that) or you can do it simultaneously across all of your media channels posting from anywhere to everywhere.
So, tonight, I want to mention a few tools which I personally like using, from an external communications perspective. These do not require any IT investment except your time in learning how to use them. Really, it’s quiet simple. They all are free. Yep, no cost. Nada. I am sure there are similar tools out there and others are sprouting up through the Internet perma-frost even as I am typing this up (copycats, are a nice complement in adding to an already good thing).
I also personally believe these tools can help with more consistency in an organizations external messaging and driving increased awareness in a tough and highly competitive economy.
The first tool I mention is for pushing/micro-blogging your messages out simultaneously. The second is for shortening your URL links (and making them trackable) to save space pointing people where you want to drive your target audience in a 140 character world. And, finally, the third tool is for generally zooming down to a geographic area and “listening” to the buzz on the street, real-time. Remember, we have to listen to know what to say in order to resonate with our target audiences ( this is just one tool).
1) Ping.fm. Often it’s the (seemingly) simple applications that turn out to be the most powerful, and the most popular. Simplicity is beautiful. Ping.fm is a service that allows you to easily update a host of social networking and social media profiles all at once, seeks to resolve the headache of needing to log into multiple accounts to send the same message to different groups of friends and contacts all over the Internet. Ping.fm also has a decent help Wiki for more information.
Additionally, I like the fact that I can Ping right from my browser toolbar so simply that it makes my just giddy. While for some, Ping.fm may just be a nice little time-saving utility, for social media and communication professionals, this service may well be THE killer app of our time. Over the last few years communication patterns have shifted primarily from face-to-face communication to more online communication in email, IM, and other tools. As more collaboration is being done remotely through technology, there are relatively fewer opportunities for face to face informal conversations. In addition to time constraints or human resource limitations at work due to employee downsizing, drilled down efficiencies can be useful. To learn a bit more about Ping.fm read what’s on Wikipedia for some general information.
2) I am sure many of you have heard of or used Tinyurl.com. I believe it has the longest shelf life and was the first, dating back to about 2001/2002. URL shortening is a technique where an individual can make a web page available under a very short URL in addition to the original address. Since the launch of Tinyurl.com about 100 or similar sorts of URL shorteners have been born. As of Spring 2009, Bit.ly over took Tinyurl’s usage on Twitter. So I think it is safe to say, it has leading edge staying power. I personally like Bit.ly because it also allows me to quasi track the results of my link click through rates in real-time. It has some other good features as well. I came across an article that talks about some of the others, of course each one has its pros anc cons. For example, tr.im is another one which uses your Twitter account as your login, making it a sure-fire hit if it keeps up the rest of its services as well. A great one to try, it might surprise you. And then you have U.nu which creates the smallest URLs of any shortener, with only about 8 characters for each new URL created(not including the “http://”). That’s mighty tiny. The point is, that you have some choices with regards to shortening your long Webpage URLs for all your external communications so you can drive people exactly where you want them to go with a compelling message and then track that link’s click results. Anyone still hand typing paper press releases anymore and faxing them? Really, you can do it all with in the blink or wink of an eye, well almost. Now, that’s affordable and near continuous communications.
3) Visual Trends Map on Twitter topics being discussed or micro-blogged about in real-time. You really can get a pulse of what’s hot and what’s being talked about in specific geographic areas. Just incredible. And, then you can formulate and message and respond using the tools mentioned.
If one thing communications has taught me is that it is a constantly evolving medium. Never static, either in the evolution of the language we use or the medium in which we communicate through. We started with fire and smoke signals, sticks drawing in the dirt, painting on cave walls, pen and ink, the Gutenberg Press, newspapers, the telegraph, the LinoType, telephone, Radio, TV, Internet, Cellphones and so on to name just a few media landmarks (not necessarily in exact chrono order).
Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of movable type in 1452, was deemed “the most influential man of the millennium.” The first book printed in the colonies was in 1640. The first publisher was Lipincott. And, Thomas Jefferson was a radical for his defense of Free Speech. That old press release written in AP style? And, Ivy Lee, a PR genius. It was created to fit into the evolution of communication by using a new tool with the advent of electronic transmissions across telegraph wires, dating back to the early 1900′s. And, YES indeedy here we are in 2009 and we are still formatting our press releases the very same way we did 103 years ago. Why? Much has changed. Some things have not.
Your organization’s lead news ‘graph of 21 words or less in a 350 word press release should be considered a historical dinosaur (forgive me, being a PR professional, I should know better than to even whisper such). It begs a few content related communication and distribution upgrades. No, an extreme makeover.
Is that press release formatted for continuous instant consumption to fit in a 140 character Tweet? Is it formatted for today’s “telegraph wire” in 2009? And, is that press release just sitting on your Website with a hyperlink to it sitting there percolating on your server going no where, with scads and scads of other press releases from years and years and years ago?
There are, of course, still some resonating repeating themes from the original press release objective. And, I encourage you to read the article to see if you can pick out a few? I will wait, go check that link right there just above this line.
Open, transparent communication? Hmmmm. As this post draws to a close highlighting three useful online tools, it leads me to yet another area for exploration. Web 2.o enabled social media press rooms and social media press releases, can they still accomplish the Who, What, When, Where and Why in an inverted pyramid format? Should we? We we are to achieve open and transparent communications, we may well need to recraft out media relations is formatted, tactically accomplished and transmitted.
Stay tuned for more. Are you ready? Are your Website media “rooms” Web 2.0 enabled? Are your press releases Web 2.0 enabled?
Have we come full circle? Are we not still saying and wanting the very same things today that were echoed in 1906?
What is your idea of the best Social Media Press Release for a main stream best practice? There are some samples out there already floating around and being test driven, talked about and even used. What do you think?
Well, until Web 2.0 enabled press releases become mainstream, I hope you will see the potential value at least in the three tools I mentioned tonight to help with some of your organization’s external communication efforts. We may not be able to physically integrate all the media channels, but we can closer to streamlining our external communication efforts using these tools.
Have a good day everyone!
Alice M. Fisher
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