I’ve decided to share some lessons I have learned in my time as a public relations pro. So, without further delay, my first piece of advice is: be genuine.

Say hello. Be genuine and connect with reporters without ulterior motives. Public relations is in a period of hyper evolution and so much emphasis is placed upon the relationship side of things. Social media is, indeed, a PR game changer. More and more mainstream media are on Twitter, for example.

Keep in mind that there’s a human behind that byline. And let those humans know there’s a human behind the pitch as well.


When was the last time you made a true, genuine friend. Not a business contact, not a lead, but a true, genuine, bail you out kind of friend?

Social media has created great opportunities for us to meet, interact and connect with scores of new people. But very rarely do we meet new friends. Let’s start by defining a friend. I found a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, β€œIt is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.” But I want to go a bit further. Here’s how I’ve defined a friendship:

A friend is a person that you can share emotions with, share a meal with and share a memory with. A friend invites two-way communication and is not a one-sided relationship. A friend has earned your respect and a friend will be there when you need him or her.

Making friends

I’m curious how you make friends. As a society, our social skills are shifting online. People’s popularity is determined by the number of Myspace friends or the number of followers on Twitter. But we still are wired to crave human interaction. And that’s where friends come in to play.

Making friends is incredibly difficult as you get older. As geeks, we love heading to meetups, Tweetups and drinkups. That’s a sociological behavior. We are able to congregate due to a common interest. In fact, an article from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration says “To meet new people who might become your friends, you have to go to places where others are gathered.”

But it’s hard to begin a friendship by exchanging business cards. These networking gatherings are just that β€” networking. Making a true friend is a challenge.

Keeping friends

I don’t mean to say that it inpossible to make new, true friends. In fact, I have made connections that I am beginning to consider friends. But how do you keep them, how do you transition from contact to friendship. I think it all begins with that skill most of us have: communication.

All of these tools can now be used as a friendship building device. Send somebody a DM on Twitter to meetup for coffee. Create an event on Facebook and invite people to your house for a wine tasting. See, social media CAN be used for good.

I would love to know what you think about this and how you make and keep friends.


One of the things I quickly realized when I wrote my last post is that it is much more difficult to participate in a marketing or public relations campaign than one would imagine. So, I wanted to expand a bit more on the Participate element of CRAP.

Most large companies simply aren’t agile enough to actively be involved and followup on a campaign. And a lot of smaller companies simply don’t have the time to be actively participating in conversations.

Participating in a marketing campaign is about connecting with the audience. Let them into your world. Show them how things work and show them why your product is the best.

One of the best examples of participation is Wine Library TV. The point of WLTV is not to get video views or Twitter comments, it is to sell wine. The videos that are produced, the events Gary speaks at and the messages he sends on Twitter are a means to an end.

But other examples exist as well. Every party thrown is an act of participation. When Scott Beale at Laughing Squid has a drink up, the goal is to meet new people, interact with his audience and hopefully score some new business.

More traditional methods exist as well. Take the Webinar as an example. A project manager or product architect giving a personal, non-marketing tour of a product or technology goes a lot further with an engaged audience than a banner ad on Digg.

So, participate with your audience. It’s not about being seen, it’s about seeing and connecting with the audience.


Yeah, I said it. Marketing is a bunch of CRAP! But not the kind of crap you may be thinking I mean. I am talking about C.R.A.P.: Communicate, relate, anticipate and participate.

These are the foundations of an effective marketing campaign and will help any brand, any PR pro or any marketer work better with their clients and potential customers. So, spread the CRAP and let me know what you think.

Communicate

Photo from Flickr user kool_skatkat under Creative Commons.

This is a pretty obvious practice and should be standard operating procedure. Communicating means not just broadcasting, but responding and conversing with your audience as well. Most organizations fall short in a couple of key areas.

Openness is essential. The Beta’s delayed? Say so. There’s a bug? Fix it, apologize and move on to new features. There is a limit to how open you want to be, but I feel that in order for a company to succeed, it needs to be as open as responsibly possible.

Brevity is a key. I have invented a word: conciseification (ironic, no?), which means “take what you said in 500 words and say it in 200. Take your four sentences and make them two. By tightening your message, it becomes more memorable. The recipient can take the message away much easier.

Listening makes you a good spouse. By actively listening and conversing with your audience, they feel respected, empowered and happy. A happy audience is one of the most effective marketing tools possible.

Relate

Relating to your potential market is absolutely essential. Don’t just go to the trade show, take it over. Be a presence anywhere your potential customer base is at. This does not need to be huge parties, expensive sponsorships or even in-depth webinars.

A simple hello or a simple appearance at a meetup is enough. People will remember the brand or the business that goes the extra step to go to a Barcamp or to go to a PHP Meetup. Your competition isn’t doing it, so you should be.

Anticipate

This is probably the hardest premise to follow. In the tech business, people the customers generally get what they want. How can you as a marketer anticipate what the customer wants? Easy: Follow the other three elements of this post.

By communicating, relating and participating, you become an expert. You can identify trends and you can jump ahead of the mob to deliver the solution it is running toward.

Participate

I thought about just retyping the word “participate.” But I realized there’s a lot more to participation than being present. You’re participating because you have a goal: to succeed. But if you are genuinely passionate about the product or brand you are representing, then it will show.

Photo from Flickr under Creative Commons

Photo from Flickr user matiasjajaja under Creative Commons.

These concepts make for an effective cornerstone for a product launch, a new campaign or simply reconnecting with your audience. Step in this CRAP and the only thing you’ll smell is success. What do you think?


Technology is a wonderful tool for tackling fears. You can register for any anonymous email address you want and post anything you want, anywhere you want it.

But what does it take to really tackle a fear or move past an initial hesitation? In our highly-social, highly connected world, it’s difficult to imagine that we have real emotions that cause us to pause, and have to stare something in the face.

But in reality, a lot of our daily decisions are, at a minimim, affected by fear. The fear of failure, the fear of not being acceped. Even the fear of success.So, let’s look at fear from a sociological perspective and determine how to fix fear.

According to a paper in the Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, fear can be divided into two primary types: fear as an emotion and fear as a consequence of or motivation for social relations.

Fear as an emotion is often times based upon learned or natural behaviors that external forces have no bearing on. But what about the fear we can control? The social and business interactions.

Social fear

In my opinion, situational and social fear is normal. Being hesitant to enter a situation, sign a term sheet or hit submit means that your brain is firing as it should. But the challenge is what methods can you use to conquer the fear?

Information is power

I’ve found that being knowledgeable helps to alleviate any fear or intimidation I may have been feeling. Make sure you are factually accurate and can defend your points and perspective. Then you have nothing to worry about.

Trust your gut

Making any decision is difficult. If you’re educated on the circumstances, then trust your instincts. Usually the first reaction is proper and won’t lead you too far astray.

Talk about it

Find somebody you trust. Having one person that can serve as a confident but is honest enough to provide a reality check is an essential business tool.

These are just three tips that I use and help me make decisions and proceed in the face of fear.

So, what do you do to confront fear? Let me know.