Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Years Eve… Social Media Style

New Years Eve for most of us is a fun holiday to spend with friends, family and … brands? Companies both large and small have traditionally used this holiday as a platform to generate another round of media coverage before the year’s end. However, this year’s branded festivities are bringing a slightly new twist, focused on social media sharing as opposed to traditional news pick up.

Here are some neat campaigns going on this New Year’s Eve:

  • Nivea Kiss Platform – I heard about this campaign, not from a new article, not from a blog post, but through a text message from a girl friend – “Watch for me on NBC!” People strive for fame, and they like sharing those moments with others. Nivea recognized this human condition and cashed in.
  • Red Bull: New Year. No Limits. – If there’s one company that has a passionate fan base, it’s Red Bull. They could post a viral video of a potato (drinking Red Bull, of course) and it would generate viral buzz. Yet, the company has again confronted a pre-existing record by challenging athlete Travis Pastrana to break the record for car jumping on New Year’s Eve. It will be interesting to see if the brand sees as much viral buzz during the event as it saw in the weeks leading up.
  • New Year’s Eve Worldwide Webcast – In case you can’t make it to Times Square this year… wait, what am I talking about, you CAN make it to Times Square this year! The Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment are bring Times Square festivities to your living room. Though the campaign doesn’t appear to be branded at first sight, a quick glance at the page’s sponsors shows otherwise.
  • Ustream Broadcasts New Years Eve Worldwide – In case Times Square isn’t your thing (or maybe its “so last year” and you’d prefer to travel to Beijing, instead) Ustream (disclosure: A Zeno Group client) is bringing national ball drop ceremonies to your computer screen this year.

What innovative NYE campaigns did you see this year?

Cross-posted in the Zeno Digital Team Stream

Friday, January 23, 2009

What have I been up to?

I know, I know, I've been fairly MIA the past two months, but not without good reason, I assure you! And definitely not absent from blogging. In fact, I've been blogging more than ever!

I suppose now is a good time to introduce my new blog to you all - Westbound Boarder. The blog is about boardsports, and its exclusively for women who ride (though we don't discriminate against men who'd like to read, too!) It is a project shared by a good friend and myself, and our hope down the road is to grow this into more of a support group and resource for women who snowboard.

This project has been a great way for me to step out of my PR shoes and see the other side of things - what it's like being pitched, what things affect traffic numbers, etc. - and it has really helped me understand the agenda of bloggers I work with on a daily basis. I've also been learning a lot about the technical side of things, which has been helpful just in simple conversation. And its a great way to combine my two hobbies - boardsports and blogging.

My goal with this blog (aka, my somewhat abandoned PR blog) is to completely rebrand and import to wordpress/self-host, now that I know a bit more about the platform and process.

Another blogging-related project I'm involved with is the Social 7 - a weekly video podcast conversation on the week's top 7 stories in social media and marketing. Starting by two coworkers and myself, it has been a fun project, and is helping build our brand as social media experts in the PR industry. Definitely check it out!

Until then, I'll try to post when I can until I have a chance to develop my snazzy new wordpress blog :)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Local Blogs Take The Stage

Cross-posted in the Zeno Group blog, Acropolis.

A few months ago, Los Angeles Magazine announced that downtown LA was named the “third bloggiest neighborhood” in the US. That’s a pretty cool claim to fame, if you ask me, but I have noticed that as local dailies die out, readers are turning to local blogs to get their news (or perhaps local dailies are dying out because people find more value in local blogs.)

Whatever the case, I moved to LA not too long ago and one of my favorite things about this city is the number of great local blogs. (I mean, West Linn, OR = cool, but newsworthy? Not so much, unless you count the occasional “a couple was caught being intimate on the baseball field” type stories – yes, that really was printed in the West Linn Tidings, and a friend of mine has the clipping hanging on her fridge if you’d like proof.) From LA Observed to LAist and a bunch of others, it is not hard to see why both print-affiliated and citizen journalists alike in LA are trading in their pens for Apples.

In fact, our dependence on local blogs has forced local dailies to hop on the blogging bandwagon as well, with most local papers having at least one (if not, several) affiliate blogs. This is smart for a number of different reasons:

  1. Local blogs are rapidly growing in both readership and sheer numbers;
  2. Blogs foster a two-way dialogue, whereas print publications are only one-sided;
  3. Blogs support the ‘eco-friendly’ direction our society is headed (aka, green is trendy);
  4. Blogs enable the 24-hour news cycle our now ‘always on’ society craves, especially during times of crisis (check out LA Now’s 24/7 coverage of the LA fires, for example);
  5. Blogs allow local dailies to push out their content in a variety of different ways (RSS, e-mail and Twitter, for example) instead of just via subscription.

A few weeks ago, Steve Rubel predicted that by 2014, we will see the end of tangible media as we know it. And that’s a modest prediction in comparison to MediaWeek, who foresees the fall of many local dailies by 2010. My first though was, “No way! Where would our credible news come from?!” But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that, yeah, maybe tangible media will die out in theory, but the big (smart) dailies will never go away; they will simply switch their focus online.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Barack the Vote: Social Media and the Internet in the 2008 Presidential Election

Last Saturday, my colleague Alex and I had the opportunity to attend the Election 2008 conference at the University of Southern California. The two panels we sat in on were entitled “Challenges for the New Administration and the Two Parties: POLITICO Editors and Reporters Look to the Future” and “Technology in Politics: How Campaigns Use the Internet to Talk to Voters.” Though the first was extremely interesting from a political perspective, the latter (and its focus on digital media) is what interested me most.

Over the past year, it was evident that online technology and social media played an integral role in the 2008 Presidential election, with some even claiming that the Internet won Barack Obama the election. Though I don’t personally agree with that bold claim, Obama’s use of the Internet and social media to mobilize and directly connect with supporters certainly helped.

What Obama Did Right

During the 2008 Election, Obama used social media in ways no other candidate ever has. Obama had a Facebook fan page with more than 3.2 million fans (Michelle also has her very own fan page), and a Facebook application with 164,551 subscribers. He had a MySpace page with more than 1 million friends. He even created his own social network, Some 3.2 million supporters donated to the Obama campaign through an excellent, well-maintained Web site. He had a Twitter account and tweeted frequently, ultimately becoming the single most followed entity on Twitter. His campaign launched an iPhone application (something that panelist Becki Donatelli admitted the McCain campaign was quite jealous of). He even announced his pick of Vice President via text message. Yes, now President-elect Barack Obama has made social media part of his everyday life (even post-election, when he took his weekly address online.)

It is clearly evident that times are changing - not only in Presidential campaigning, but in our overall media consumption habits as well. I credit Obama for thinking a few steps ahead of the rest, being the first Presidential candidate to launch a truly integrated campaign (and get it right). As one of the panelists on the above mentioned Election 2008 technology panel stated - Obama didn’t invent the technology; he simply perfected it.

What McCain Missed

Though some attribute McCain’s loss to his lack of engagement with technology, personally I don’t think it was his lack of using the technology (he did, after all, have a Facebook fan page, a MySpace page, and a Twitter account, to name a few); it was more a matter of his objective (which, unlike Obama seemed to be a means to an end instead an end itself). We heard it in nearly every public speech and interview made - “McCain has the experience” - and along with his experience in office, he also has more experience campaigning, even being directly involved in the 2000 race for the Republican Presidential nomination against George W. Bush. Though he lost the race, he did learn a lot about campaigning in the process, taking those lessons and applying them to the race in 2008. However, McCain seemed to have taken the wrong lesson out of 2000, focusing more on the end result (ie, media relations and generating positive press coverage) and not enough on connecting directly with supporters.

Obama, on the other hand, brought excitement to the grassroots approach. To him, it was important to go straight to the people, not the media, and the Internet served as a key player in helping him do so.

Will TV ads (and traditional media) become obsolete?

The recent hype around Obama’s use of online and social technologies makes this question seem more real then ever - will TV ads become obsolete in future elections, being replaced solely by online initiatives? While some think yes, a few of the panelists surfaced an interesting perspective - offline ads help drive people online.

Take a look at the sheer numbers - TV ads are not becoming irrelevant anytime soon, and candidates are still focusing heavily on paid advertising (in addition to his online initiatives, Obama also bought half-hour primetime segments on CBS and NBC less than a week before the general election, for example). TV ads may be diminishing in importance, but it will be a long time before they completely go away. However, the panelists pointed out that now, we are seeing more of an online/offline plan. Online and social technology and traditional media serve completely different purposes - the Internet is used to activate the base and raise funds, then the money raised is being used to get people sitting at home on their couches to go online. It is now vital to synchronize both and integrate into one solid campaign.

Looking ahead to 2012/16

During the conference, one panelist made the bold claim that by 2016, campaigns will no longer exist in brick and mortar buildings; instead, they will exist solely online. Though traditional advertising will still play a dire role in campaigns, social media will become increasingly important to candidates seeking election as it becomes more mainstream. Due to both advances in technology and a growing number of media outlets for people to choose from, it will become vital for candidates to have a short, buttoned-up message.

Moving forward, Presidential candidates won’t be the only ones to use social media in campaigns; candidates at the local level will begin to jump on board as well. Campaigning via social media is cheaper, more effective, and easier to mobilize a core group of constituents to act.

Last, technological advances like TiVo and XM Radio have empowered consumers to choose what information they want to receive. Often, the casual constituent (or as Joel Benenson calls them, the “Up-for-Grabs” voter) doesn’t hear political messages via TV and radio ads; they hear about them through YouTube videos or e-mails and SMS videos forwarded by their friends. It is now important for candidates to broadcast their message across as many different channels, in as many different ways as possible to reach that casual constituent.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Search for Social Media

Cross-posted in the Zeno Group blog, Acropolis.

As a member of the Zeno Group Digital Lifestyle team, I feel that it is my duty to help engrain social media into our everyday PR lifestyle. So, for this past week’s Zeno LA “Happy Half-Hour Friday,” it was my turn to put my party-planner hat on, creating our first ever Social Media Scavenger Hunt! I think the digital lifestyle team was a little more excited about this than, say, our business manager, but overall the event was a great success.

The scavenger hunt featured several different social networking tools (Facebook, Digg and Twitter, to name a few) and called for participants to not only learn about them, but take the extra step and interact with each other using these tools. For example:

  1. Sign into Twitter and create a Tweet using the #ZenoLA hashtag.
  2. Now, respond to one Tweet that another Zeno LA employee posted.
  3. Post an insightful comment on one of your favorite PR blogs. Which blog did you choose to comment on?

Of course, this was not meant to be a full training on all the social media tools available, but rather a fun way to expose the office to some of the new tools and apps available. (For example, most PR professionals know about Twitter, but many might not be aware of the long – and growing – list of apps that are available for it).

Broadening the scope of this post a bit, we are entering into an era where it is important for everyone in PR to at least be familiar with the basic social media and networking tools. By now, many PR professionals are aware of the ‘biggies’ (i.e., what they should pay attention to), but many have not taken the time to actually learn about and understand them (let alone start using them). Simply creating a Twitter ID and tweeting once or twice isn’t enough anymore; smart PR people should take it one step further and engage with the community on a regular basis, especially if it’s something that might make sense for a client down the road. At the same time, it’s okay to focus your attention on a select number of tools after you’ve explored all of the options. If you try Friendster but realize, “hey, maybe this one isn’t for me,” that’s okay! At least you took the time to figure it out.

On a different note, I encourage you to implement a social media scavenger hunt in your own office and share the results in the comments section below!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Let's Hear It for the Women

Cross-posted in the Zeno Group blog, Acropolis.

Whenever I was asked the question “Who would you most like to have lunch with” in elementary school essays, my default answer was Steven Spielberg (what 10-year-old child aspires to have lunch with a popular film director over Jonathan Taylor Thomas, I do not know, but apparently I did). Fifteen years later, if you asked my now more grown-up and professional self the same question, I’d have to say Google’s Marissa Mayer. Hands Down.

On Tuesday, FastCompany’s Saabira Chaudhuri published an article on the “Most Influential Women in Web 2.0” (which, of course, includes Ms. Mayer). Though the article picked up a lot of heat throughout the blogosphere, with some calling the author “sexist” for not also including men, I believe it’s about time women are recognized for their great achievements in Web 2.0.

From Arianna Huffington who created what is now the most popular blog on the Web, Huffington Post, to Ning’s Gina Bianchini, the outstanding women featured in this article have all made great strides online during a time when women are finally beginning to put the “housewife in the kitchen” stereotype behind them. Truth be told, it can be fairly intimidating competing and interacting with the “big boys” online. These women offer great advice, such as “you need to stick your neck out there and just do it in order to be successful.” (Cyan Banister).

In a traditionally male-dominated industry, it is nice to read about and celebrate the achievements of women who have made great strides in the online environment. As Marissa recommends, it’s important for women to find a company that fosters “an environment where people will invest in you.” I’ve found this to be so true and important to my growth as a digital media professional. For me, with Google and Marissa as examples, nothing is impossible.

Photo Credit: dfarber on Flickr

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

This is TOO Cute!

I just had to share this picture with you all :) (If you own a doxie, like me, you will likely find it extra funny). Enjoy!

Monday, November 10, 2008

SO Social... 2.0 Style

I just created a profile on Savvy Auntie, an online social network specifically for Aunties. I suppose this now gives me bragging rights for my adorable niece and nephew (pictured below - I tried relentlessly to talk my sister into creating her own blog this past weekend, but she just 'didn't get the point, when there's Facebook...')

This is one of hundreds, maybe even thousands, of niche networks popping up all over the Web. The common trend of our generation has been to join as many of these communities as applicable in efforts to stay connected, build relationships, learn, and offer advice & peer counsel. Wait, back up. For centuries, people have always longed to belong to communities, joining groups and associations for essentially the same reasons. Web 2.0 simply offers these niche groups the tools to bring activities online. So does that mean the offline community no longer exists? No way, but it can have more members and communication methods than ever before.

Other niche networks I belong to... How about you?
  • PR Open Mic - A fabulous online community for PR students and professionals.
  • MyRagan - An online community for communicators.
  • LinkedIn - Is this really 'niche' anymore?
  • BlogHer - A social community for female bloggers.
  • LiveMocha - Online community for language learners.
  • Action Profiles - Community for boarders (snow, skate, surf, etc..) Good for connecting riders with sponsors, or riders with boarding buddies.
  • Yelp - My favorite online reviews site.
And the cuties? They're below :)

Friday, November 7, 2008

This Is Great

A bit of humor to jump start your Friday afternoon :) Classic commentary on our generation, although I think it's already a bit outdated (I mean, come on; where's the blackberry?!)

Photo curteosy of

Great Job Hunt Advice

Really great post from one of my former classmates on how to build your network prior to the job hunt. Her advice helped her land a job at a fab agency within one week of moving to a new city!