Social media – the free focus group

I’m a social-media binger. I jump on the merry-go-round of social media and then jump off to clear my head and stay focused on strategy and objectives. But my No. 1 objective when I jump on is to listen.

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are still my preferred streams, easily managed through Hootsuite. They help drive the conversations and constituencies of my clients and their brands. I have explored Google+, Pinterest, Feedly, Storify, Paper.li, Youtube and others. While lots of them are equally fun and engaging, I have to eliminate the streams that do not enhance the volume of relationships and feedback necessary to deliver the biggest results for my clients.

It’s easy to rant and rave on social media. I’m profoundly good at it. It’s much harder to shut up and listen. When you close your mouth and open your ears to a targeted group of people, you can identify obstacles that divide you from future relationships and business.

Social media is a free focus group for every constituency whether it’s a consumer or potential client. Listen to what they are saying about you. Listen to what they are saying about your competitor. Listen for praise, listen for rants, listen for complaints, listen for suggestions and listen for ideas. By listening, you help inform your research, marketing, media outreach and overall market position.

When you say “I don’t have time for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn” you’re essentially saying you don’t have time to listen to the people you need to succeed. Those people will simply shift their attention to the people who do.

 

 

 

Owning 2012 – Mapping measured success

Happy New Year!

As we launch 2012, I am reminded of just how important our allegiance to transparency and the truth is to public relations. When you make truth your friend, you have to answer for less. It’s a great resolution to follow in all things politics, friends and family. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Most of public relations is the art of managing what we mean to say to the world. A lot of people spend big checks and time on trying to reinvent what comes out of their mouths when it’s simply too late. So why not create a plan to say what you really mean when you first say it? It’s a simple strategy.

Here’s the truth I know for most clients and businesses: Times are tough. We have more work to do with less money. We have less people who have money to buy things. We have more people with problems and troubles than time. We still have big dreams for our children, but small resources. Our challenge is hard, but not insurmountable. We need more smart people doing more quickly. We need to be inspired to face these odds. Who and what can inspire us to tackle what lies ahead?

What inspires you? Who inspires you? Share that with the world in 2012. Make that the foundation of your public relations plan. Here’s 12 ways to make that resolution a reality:

1) Tackle one new technology that frightens you – Iphone, Ipad, Android, laptop, social media, software, etc. Make a point of mastering something in technology that keeps you current with the world.

2) Make a commitment to change the way you do business  – Pick something that is not working and change it. If you know your customer relations is bogging down your business, make improving customer relations your No. 1 goal for 2012.

3) Dare to be different – Adopt a new marketing tactic to solidify and grow your referrals. Launch a social media program, schedule more lunches, critically evaluate your existing client base, develop a creative ad strategy, walk at lunch, get up early, go home early, eat better, live better, work smarter.

4) Research and read about people who are smarter than you each week. Invite them to breakfast or lunch.

5) Review your biggest accounts and successes in 2011 and examine why they worked.

6) Don’t forget to look at the numbers. The numbers don’t lie. Look at how much you spent and how much you earned and embrace it truthfully. Know your client base.

7) Celebrate and honor your top referrals. They love and trust you best.

8) Celebrate and honor your top disasters. They will tell you what you need to know about your business.

9) Create 2012 goals that are achievable based on measurable outcomes. Measure this: Increased referrals, diversified client base, higher income, steadier income, stronger brand identity, higher client/customer satisfaction, and/or better return on investment, more time to walk the dog.

10) Create a strategic plan for the future. Decide who you want to be in five years and map the path to achieve that end game.

11) Connect with people who matter. Identify 10 people who you admire and invite them to lunch to discuss your plan for your future. And be honest about what terrifies you the most and see what they say.

12) Identify your worst habit that negatively affects your productivity and eliminate it.

Our commitment to transparency and truth will always set us free to succeed. The answers to 2012 are already there.