Put the public back into public relations

“In the new world of social media, PR people must know hundreds of writers, bloggers and Twitter users instead of having six top reporters on speed dial.” Claire Cain Miller, The New York Times

Now you’re talking! Journalism as we know it is going through a sea change, and PR is also finding its voice. At first, it seemed to me that the old ways of doing PR – call the reporter, send out the press release, follow up with another call, hope for a call back, call again – this time don’t leave a message. Call again, this time leave a brief friendly message, had gone away and so had the biz – but in reality, it’s opened up a tremendous door for PR people to do what we really do best, and that’s honestly communicate, engage in conversation, and show our enthusiasm and our intelligence. Hooray, it’s a new day for PR people to shine, and show what we’re really worth, and drill down to what’s important and put the “Public” back into Public Relations. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/05/business/05pr.html?_r=1&hp


Social Media - You've got a friend in me!

I’m constantly singing the praises of social media. Never before have there been so many ways to communicate directly with so many people — and make that the people of your choosing. It used to be that we PR pros would compose a lengthy press release making sure to put the real news in the headline and the subhead (sound like Twitter?) and then count on personal relationships, the favor bank and the occasional real news to catch the attention of the media. That old way took a lot of luck, timing and patience. How great to be able send out a quick thought or crystallized idea in real time.

I Tweet…Therefore I Am
Twitter really allows one to do that. Have a thought and a quick link? Keep your message short and crisp and send it out to a universe that you’ve hand-picked. Maybe they’ll see your message this time, and maybe they won’t, so that’s why you want to keep tweeting – because eventually they’ll become familiar with your tweets, and hopefully, if you have something worthwhile to say, they’ll start taking a closer look. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is your audience on Twitter. The important thing to remember is the old reach and frequency rules of advertising – they couldn’t be more relevant than on Twitter – you want to reach the largest group of people (your followers) and you want to reach out to them as often as possible — so they get to know you, and can depend on your information. Jump in, keep up an active dialogue with your followers, and say things that they and other people will want to hear.

Jumping into the Soup
We recently gave a talk entitled “Social Media — Jumping into the Soup.” It was a quick primer on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, and what we found, is that in a given group of working people, there are many different levels of social media experience. You’ve got your early adapters and your luddites, and then a whole group that fall somewhere in between. Many of the people listening to our talk already knew how to use Facebook, and wanted to know more about how to effectively use LinkedIn. In this particular group, Twitter was still as new as commercial space travel, and the majority of audience members said, “Twitter — No way!” To them we said, “there’ll come a day when you’re being interviewed for a new job, or competing for that piece of business, and the decision between you and the competition is going to come down to 140 characters.”

Here’s a quick, basic slide we used to show the old way of thinking about and using Social Media, compared to the “New Way” to use these tools to one’s business advantage:

Using Social Media

The Old Way
Connecting with friends
Connecting with family
Connecting with current and former co-workers
Connecting with your network in real time

The New Way
Forming business relationships and networks
Reaching potential business partners, employers and employees
Reaching and retaining members and donors
Raising awareness to your cause, project, program, product or company
Developing dynamic, interactive relationships
Keeping current in the marketplace
Driving traffic






What it takes to be a Woman Entrepreneur

What does it take to be a woman entrepeneur?

I was invited onto Blog Talk Radio this week to discuss the secrets of entrepreneurial greatness. Here are some of the secrets I revealed. - Karen Sperling

  1. Entrepreneurs start out with a dream
  2. They make goals for themselves
  3. They are ambitious
  4. They ask questions
  5. They listen
  6. They have a plan for getting where they want to go
  7. They review their plan often and change it when necessary
  8. They won’t take NO for an answer
  9. They are always open to learning
  10. They view every experience as a learning opportunity
  11. They use their strengths and recognize their weaknesses
  12. They have mentors and role models
  13. They make mistakes
  14. They learn from their mistakes
  15. They celebrate small victories
  16. They are not afraid to follow the path less taken
  17. They pick themselves up and they keep going
  18. They keep their eyes on the prize



Tribute to friend and former client Chuck Sutton

Technorati Profile

Many years ago I had the honor of representing Inner City Broadcasting, owner of WBLS and WLIB radio, and at that time, also owner of The Apollo Theater on 125th Street in Harlem. Back then, Harlem was going through the beginning of what would become a neighborhood renaissance. It was an exciting time, with commerce moving into the area, and a renewed sense of pride and purpose in the neighborhood.

The Apollo Theatre, once the showplace of Harlem, was sparkling once again as Amateur Night reinvented itself every Wednesday with the Legendary MC Ralph Cooper at the helm, and the incomparable ”Sandman” shooing bad acts off the stage with a dance and a shuffle and “the hook.”

My client at Inner City was the Honorable Percy Ellis Sutton, but my daily contact was his nephew, Chuck Sutton, who passed away February 19th after a valiant fight with cancer.

Chuck was a remarkable man, even to a PR agent like me who was concerned mainly with bringing in the hits. In the same conversation Chuck would tell me about the week’s upcoming talent at The Apollo, fill me in on his plan to “Jump the Broom” at his wedding, talk to me about community action in his neighborhood, go over details for his creation – “Showtime at the Apollo,” and rave about his son and the birth of his daughter Amena. In an age before blackberries and text messages, it was challenging to get a callback from Chuck; because the guy never stood still.

On Monday, Chuck’s life was celebrated at Riverside Church in Manhattan. The Honorable David Patterson said that without Chuck, he never would have entered public life, and never would have been Governor of New York. Mayor David Dinkins spoke of him as a quiet activist, a tremendous advocate and environmentalist for the Harlem community, a good friend and a devoted family man.

The Reverend Al Sharpton took the redeye from California and almost missed the service because of a record snowstorm in the North East. In his eulogy, Reverend Sharpton talked about how Chuck had worked his dash…that hyphen between the year of his birth and the year of his death 1950 – 2009. I had heard this reference to the dash before, but this time, it really resonated with me. Standing in front of the congregation, the outspoken and often controversial Reverend Sharpton said that Chuck lived an exemplary life of service, and had worked his dash to the fullest. Then he turned to the congregation and said: “After the fancy cars and big houses and beautiful clothes fall away, what are YOU doing to work YOUR dash?”

It was still snowing when I left the church. I recognized some of the pallbearers, and was amazed to see Amena all grown up.

I said farewell to Chuck, and thanked him for being such a good, great man and for sharing in some of my memories, and I thanked Reverend Sharpton, for the wakeup call.




5 reasons it's great to be late to social media

I like to get to parties on time, even a little early. My wife has taught me that there can be some distinct advantages to being late: you get to make a grand entrance, the food has been served and you won’t be bored waiting for the fun to begin. I have similar good news for any company convinced they have missed the social media party. It can be great to be late.

Here’s why:

  1. While you were waiting, your audience grew to 1 billion The number of Internet users surpassed 1 billion when you weren’t looking. Twitter hit one billion tweets.  Facebook has 10 billion photos stored, and has became the most trafficked social media site. That means there are more vertical and horizontal audiences to choose from, so you won’t get lost in the numbers.  You won’t get lonely.
  2. Social media has had time to grow up Twitter was launched in July 2006. Facebook is almost five years old, Digg is just over four years old and Twitter is two and a half years old. It can still get wild, woolly and confusing, but it’s a big improvement over the always-in-beta early months.
  3. There are more tools to make it more efficient, effective and strategic Take Twitter for example. Launched in July 2006, there are now hundreds of tools designed that create shortcuts to post, organize and measure.  Here are 35+ social media tools  you’ll appreciate.
  4. Social media has gained acceptance by consumers 70% of consumers now consider social media sites to be sources of information that influence their purchasing decisions, according to research data in MarketingSherpa’s 2009 Social Media Marketing & PR Benchmark Guide.
  5. The real party is just getting started And now the biggest reason of all. With all the noise and storm and one billion users, Web-watcher Donna Bogatin shows that most of the world is still just watching and reposting existing content. Only 1% of users are actually creating fresh new content. That’s your opening — the grand entrance you’ve been waiting for.

By bringing fresh content to social media, rather than re-tweats and a list of links, your brand can become the life of the social media party. Congratulations.