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How to Write a Rockstar Twitter Bio

By: Amy-Mae Elliott This post can originally be found here

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What does your Twitter bio say about you? Don’t think in terms of cold, hard facts — what does it really reveal about you to others?As we’ve recently discussed on Mashable, your bio is one of the major factors that people take into consideration when deciding whether or not to follow you on Twitter, but it’s even more important than that.

Your bio is searchable within the Twittersphere, meaning you need to think carefully about keywords. It will show up in search engine results for your name, so it has to represent the true you. It’s also how you choose to present yourself to Twitter’s 230 million users, so it’s worth giving it some serious thought.

The Bio as an Art Form

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Whether or not you agree with the The New York Times‘ rather grandiose statement that the Twitter bio is a postmodern art form, it’s certainly a skill to distill the essence of your complex, multifaceted personality (or so we’d all like to think) into 160 characters.

Embrace the space available. Don’t think of the allowance as a limitation; think of it as an opportunity to be concise. When you write your bio, actually compose in the window Twitter allows. This will help with structure.

Are you creative or commercially minded? If you fall into the commercial camp, it may help to think of your Twitter bio as a a copywriting exercise. The product is you and you have 160 characters not just to summarize it, but sell it to an indifferent, anonymous audience.

If you’re more creative, you might enjoy approaching a bio as you would a poem. Every word you use must justify its place on your limited canvas, add meaning, appear in the correct order and work as a whole.

The Bio as a Cliché

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“Coffee expert. Twitterholic. Internet advocate. Music aficionado. Wannabe entrepreneur.” This might read as a totally believable Twitter bio, but it is in fact gobbledegook: made-up, buzzword nonsense from the “Twitter Bio Generator”.

Developed by Josh Schultz, the generator was designed to poke fun at the list-based bio format so beloved of key-word-minded Twitter users.

“I created that site a few years back just for fun, when I noticed a lot of similarities among Twitter bios,” Schultz explains. “Folks using short, punchy phrases to describe themselves, including an inordinate number of ‘social media experts’ and all manner of ‘mavens.’ It was actually a bit of a joke: I included bits that could describe practically anyone on the Twitters, and threw in a few silly things, for flavor.”

Could your bio be easily interchangeable with A. N. Other’s Twitter bio? Could something you’ve written in your bio appear in the Twitter Bio Generator’s database? Then you need to think of ways to make yourself stand out.

Bio Basics

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This should be obvious, but from the amount of typo-ridden bios out there, it bears repeating. Your bio must have perfect spelling and grammar. There are no excuses for mistakes. Run your text through a spellcheck tool or get a buddy to check it for you, but be sure what you’ve written is error-free.

Secondly, be consistent. If you are going for the list-based format, decided whether you’re separating words with commas, periods or vertical bars, and stick to that. Capitalize consistently by choosing to write the entire thing in either sentence case or title case. The same goes for if you’re mentioning usernames or using hashtags (e.g., @JohnSmith or @johnsmith, or #Football or #football) — keep to the same format for every example.

Learn From Others

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Don’t create your bio in a vacuum. Do some research, study the different styles of bios out there and read what other Twitter users have written — especially ones with large followings.

When you’ve followed someone on the strength of his or her Twitter bio alone, consider what it was that prompted you to hit the “Follow” button.

Sarah Milstein, the 21st user of Twitter and co-author of The Twitter Book, has the following straightforward advice: “Look at a bunch of Twitter bios, notice which ones you like best, write a bio that imitates those.”

Find Your Unique Sell

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From a professional perspective, make it clear exactly what it is that you do. This helps differentiate you from others with similar bios. Don’t just state you’re in a sales role, mention the industry in which you work. If you’re a recruiter, what kind of candidates are your speciality? Do you work in marketing? Which industry sector?

“Your Twitter bio should position you as an expert in your field who serves a specific audience,” states Dan Schawbel, author of Promote Yourself and Me 2.0.

“The objective is to position your personal brand so you’re using the right keywords and clearly showing what your focus is so people read it and know exactly what you do and whom you serve.”

As well as widening your appeal for potential followers, Schawbel suggests this tactic may help your future job prospects.

“I did a study with American Express and we found that 65% of managers are looking to hire and promote subject matter experts. The problem is that most people position themselves as generalists or ‘Jacks-of-all-trades,’ and that won’t work in this economy,” he says.

Consider SEO

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The words you use in your bio don’t just add up to create a picture of you, they carry some serious SEO juice. Tools such as Followerwonk can search Twitter bios on a keyword basis. Carefully consider what topics you’d like to be discoverable under, as you never know who might be searching for just those subjects.

“Followerwonk helps users find people through bio search, which is incredibly powerful for niche audiences and building brands,” says Erica McGillivray, social community manager for Moz, the company that created Followerwonk.

“On Twitter, it’s all about first impressions, while finding the right audience, whether you’re reaching out professionally or just looking for new friends. By optimizing your bio to give the perfect details — your interests, location, job, company, love of cupcakes — you’re telling the world why they should follow you. Why you’re important,” she says.

It’s not just Twitter search you have to consider, but wider searches from third-party engines. “Write a bio that will motivate others to follow you on specific topics, those you most often tweet. Use keywords and be direct,” says Michael Dobbs, group director of SEO at digital marketing agency 360i.

With news that Google Search has recently made moves to include hashtag searches, Dobbs also suggests: “Consider adding hashtags on keyword topics you’d like to be discovered against.”

Be Unusual

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“The idea behind your bio is that you want to provoke enough interest so that somebody will follow you back,” Mark Schaefer, author of The Tao of Twitter, says. “Be honest and give at least a hint of what you do in the real world. Then, add something unusual or funny to stand out. For example, I identify myself as a consultant, author and social media bouncer. That often starts a conversation!”

On an online platform of over 200 million users, it can be hard to stand out, so don’t be afraid to let your quirks show and don’t hesitate to use humor in your bio. If you have an unusual hobby or a niche passion, include it, especially if it’s something you’re likely to tweet about.

“Your bio should reflect who you are, your values and what you have to offer others,” statesLouise Mowbray speaker, coach and branding consultant.

Most importantly, use your bio to let people know what you’re going to bring to their Twitter streams — how following you is going to enrich their Twitter experience. After all, as Mowbray says, “Twitter is all about giving something of value to others for free.”

Image: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

PR lessons from a broken iPhone

By: Briagenn Adams Post can be originally be found here

It finally happened.

Just a few weeks ago I was walking around without a care in the word. I was texting, taking pictures, checking my Twitter feed, acting like my iPhone 5 was an indestructible commodity. Then, with one small slip of the fingers and one little shatter of glass, my world changed.

Not to be dramatic, but shattering my nearly new iPhone 5 is definitely on the “Top 10 Bad Things That Happened to Me in 2013” list. My iPhone was my baby; the one special thing that I went to sleep with every night, and woke up to every morning. I even thought about giving it a name.

Although my shattered iPhone still works OK, I am forced to live with the ever-present reminder that things are just not how they used to be. It’s easy to be mad at Apple for not making its products stronger and sturdier, but looking back on the relationship with my iPhone, it’s easy to see that I was in the wrong.

So, here’s what I’ve learned from shattering my iPhone screen, and here’s how I’m going to carry these lessons with me into the professional, PR world:

1. Never sacrifice quality. 

When I shattered my iPhone, the only protection between it and the cold, hard, unforgiving ground was a flimsy case that I had bought on Amazon for $1.25 the week before. Although the case was attractive and very cheap, I knew it did not offer even a small fraction of the protection my old OtterBox Defender Series case did. However, after having had my iPhone for the past four months without incident, and especially after watching this YouTube video, I decided to sacrifice quality and go for what I thought was a cooler, more attractive upgrade.

Look where that got me. Lesson learned? Never sacrifice quality—oh, and don’t believe everything you see on YouTube. Who cares if my Otter Box case wasn’t the best-looking thing on the market? It did what a phone case is supposed to do—protect the phone—whereas my Amazon “deal” failed me.

So, how does this translate to PR? Basically, in every way. When you’re working with clients, never offer them cheap, slapdash work just because it’s easy to produce and superficially attractive. Instead, go for top quality. Spend the extra time and money to perfect a project; show your clients that you care about their success. In the end, when their investments have proven to be worthwhile, clients will thank you for your high-quality service and they will form loyal, lasting relationships with your company.

2. When disaster strikes, pick up the broken pieces and make do with what remains. 

I broke my iPhone. I broke it, I broke it, I broke it. It sucks. However, no matter how many times I wish I had held a firmer grip, no matter how many times I let out a sigh of exasperation because I can barely read the time, the fact remains that I broke it, so now I have to make do with my mistake.

The first thing I did after I broke my phone was order a screen protector. Now, instead of resembling Bill Hader in one of those T-Mobile commercials, I can at least slide my fingers across my screen without drawing blood. Although this is a small accomplishment, it’s much better than no accomplishment at all.

Likewise, when you’re working in PR, it’s probable that disaster will strike at one point in your career. If—and when—that happens, you can’t take back the mistake, but you can learn to recover and move on. You might not be able to forget what happened, but at least you’ll no longer feel the lingering pain.

3. Always, always have insurance. (Or a Plan B). 

Thank goodness I have insurance on my iPhone. Of all the life decisions I have ever made, buying insurance for my iPhone 5 was one of the smartest. If not for insurance, I would have to pay up to $900 for a new phone. As it is, because of insurance, I will have to pay only $100. Still a lot of money for a broke college kid like me, but way less than it could have been.

 

For the purpose of this post, I will equate buying insurance to having a Plan B. In case something fails—a client event, a pending press release, or a media pitch—it’s essential that you have a backup plan. That way, when disaster strikes, you won’t find yourself out on the streets, begging for charity and forgiveness.

Briagenn Adams is a junior studying strategic communication with a minor in French. Follow her on Twitter @Briagenn. A version of this story originally appeared on Ohio University’s ImPRessions blog.

PR Pros: Choosing Clients’ Causes Carefully

By: Toni L. Rousell                   Original Post can be found here

Your advice is not only valued, as a hired PR professional, wise counsel is required.

So, how do you help your clients choose the causes they support? Being driven by emotions or going with what’s popular, is sure to be a recipe for disaster.

Discouraging clients from seeking alliance with causes they really have no sincere desire to support, or no real understanding of, should be number one priority.  It can be hard to steer them in a more beneficial direction, avoiding self-destruction of their brand, but it’s responsible and necessary.  They’ll thank you later and you’ll sleep better at night.  Throwing support to a cause they don’t truly believe in, will only lead to their support waning, which will consequently reduce the value of their endorsements as they appear “flaky”, or even unstable, in the public-eye.

Local vs. National

It can seem convenient to offer support to the largest, most visible organization when it comes to “giving-back”, but could a local organization, requiring more hands on support, be more beneficial to your client’s long-term philanthropic goals and public image?  Analyzing the organization’s mission, do results support that mission?

Local organizations will allow for your client to see the lives their efforts effect. They will be able to look directly into the eyes of those benefiting from their donations and volunteering, and will also be more likely to give to those in their hometowns who directly affected their success, which makes for excellent public relations.  This encourages a more faithful, less “fair-weather”, connection.

Alternatively, national organizations offer the opportunity for clients to give-back to multiple communities at once.  If your client lives or their primary business is based outside of their hometown, this choice would allow them to give-back to their hometown community, as well as to the new community that has embraced them. There should be no lack of effort on the client’s part to make their presence known, even when the cameras are off or not around.  A national organization will also be more likely to have consistent PR representation, affording a better grasp on public support of the cause and offering more flexible events your client can join.

Making the Commitment 

Sometimes a client desires to support organizations with a focus that may require a little extra effort for educating the public or validating the connection. Is the client truly committed? This is where your client’s genuine beliefs will come into play. The work required will expose the true intent: is it pub or love?

One example of true commitment is that of Actress Ciera Payton. Being raised, until the age of 13, by her grandmother and drug addicted (now incarcerated) father, Ms. Payton wanted to align her brand with organizations that would allow her to connect with youth growing up in an environment similar to herself: children of incarcerated parents.

But how understood is this cause?

Most children of incarcerated parents are misunderstood and, in many cases, ignored.  Many can site statistics, and some can actually admit they’ve become a statistic, but Ms. Payton’s focus is clear: share the fact that she has overcome the statistics.

By welcoming audiences in, sharing some of her most painful moments growing up in a life-threatening environment, Ms. Payton reaches those who can relate, finding those in need. She credits the Arts for saving her life, and not only commits funding, but diligently focuses on giving-back to youth facing the same battles she’s faced by mentoring.  She has chosen a mix of both local and national organizations to support, allowing her to give back to her hometown of New Orleans as well as her new home of Los Angeles.

Maya Angelou quote (pic)

PR and Publicity vs “Puff and Fluff”

While announcing the partnership, be honest with the public.  Don’t puff up your client to be more than what they are or try to fluff up their support to be more than what it is.  Instead, once the choice has been made, be sure to connect with those who genuinely share in the cause.  Reach out to those who are long-term supporters, whether celebrity or not. This will not only increase the support base for the cause, but will also strengthen your client’s alliance.  Joining forces and sharing ideas for creative support, increases public awareness and makes the difference between superficial “puff and fluff” and careful PR and publicity.

Remember, it’s the man who has more that gives more and philanthropic efforts are what keeps many in need going and feeling encouraged.  Giving back for the cameras is bound to be exposed and never worth the backlash.

Rachael Sacks: Why PR Pros Are Different Than Publicists

By Shawn Paul Wood This post can be found here

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Forgive the headline. This nitwit does not espouse the definition of why PR pros are different than publicists. Rather, she is the proof in the proverbial pudding splattered all over her dress.

I have often aforethought a contentious opinion on the said difference between PR pros and publicists.

Full disclosure, I — as well as almost 90 percent of the media — loathe publicists. And if you check my LinkedIn profile, I’ve been one to some major domos out there, so I can share this. Why the vitriol in the industry? The aforementioned example. They make PR professionals look bad. I have a theory, so kids, hold your ears. The difference between a PR pro and publicist is like a pimp and his ho. One works for it, strategizes the right area for it, and knows how to bring in ROI for it. The other…well, just shows up. Enough said?

That said, thanks to the New York Post, meet Rachael Sacks.

Here’s how self-avowed wealthy college brat Rachael Sacks responded Saturday after her online essay, “I’m Not Going to Pretend That I’m Poor to be Accepted by You,” earned her Page One notoriety in the best paper in town.
“I don’t even have a publicist yet,” exclaimed Sacks, whose doctor dad back home in Maryland is footing all her bills as she pursues a writing degree at the New School.
“Maybe I’ll get a publicist, I don’t know,” she mused holding up The Post and smiling as she flipped the bird to haters. “People are suggesting that to me.”

So, sans an introduction to celebrity fandom via the night-vision tape (Kim Kardashian, we see you), this pre-pubescent dolt thinks he answer to fame is having someone schlep around to get her on TV and radio.

And that’s what is wrong with PR — the publicist.

Any dolt with Mommy and Daddy money thinks being a publicist means you have arrived. No, a publicist means they haven’t arrived. You think what they do is work? They represent someone famous, and after fetching said starlet’s dry cleaning and sex toys, they call a local radio station and say, “Hey, I have this chick. Wanna talk to her?”

Of course the answer is a clamoring, “YES” and a PR-ish career is born. The minute PR professionals can stop confusing publicists actions to what we do, the better off we will be as an industry. And publicists, if you want to join the real world, call us.

Then again who could blame you? You get drive cars that aren’t yours. Fetch clothes you can’t afford. Shill for people who don’t deserve fame in hope you get a cameo on some dumbass ‘Bravo’ show.

Maybe being a publicist is the way to go after all. Hey, Rachael? Call me.

15 writing tips from a journalist turned PR pro

By Becky Gaylord  This post can originally found here

Think back to a time you stared at a blank screen, not sure how to start writing that memo, press release, report, or presentation. Stark and harsh, emptiness intimidates.

It can, anyway, unless you know exactly what you want to say. Seeing a vast sea of nothing can deepen feelings of being, literally, adrift. (It sure does for me.)

Now, think of a time when you wrote down a shopping list before heading to the grocery store. Or jotted down the things you needed to take on a trip before you packed. Simple recipes or driving directions can serve a similar role: steady reassurance. When consulting such reminders, I tend to check them repeatedly in tackling the task at hand.

Here’s my secret to writing: before I start, I make a map. (Really, it’s more of a list.) I’ve been doing it for decades for news stories with urgent deadlines as well as for projects that took months to complete. It always makes the writing part easier. I find it keeps things clicking smartly along. When I feel lost, I just look at my map.

Tips for how to make a map-like list for your next written task:

1. At the top of the page briefly describe the audience.

2. Next, write the main reason for writing this. What is the most important thing for the audience to do? Keep it short.

3. Now come the main ideas. I use a dash or asterisk to start each item, so I can just type them without worrying about the order.

4. After the first dash or asterisk, write down one major idea the piece must include, such as the reason you’re writing it.

5. Then, write down another major idea the piece must include.

6. Keep going until you’ve written down each major idea the written work must discuss.

7. Don’t forget to list any call to action as a main idea.

8. Determine whether you need to include an attachment or link.

9. If you need information you don’t already have on hand, note that in parenthesis after the major idea it concerns.

10. When you’ve got all of the main ideas, go back and check your first two lines: Who needs to know and why? Do your main ideas all relate to those? Delete any that don’t.

11. Of the main ideas that remain, do any stand out as the most important? Do others need to be discussed in sequence to make sense? Is one a good way to end?

12. Based on that analysis, reorder the main ideas from first to last—it’s OK if some don’t have a precise position and could appear interchangeably (just note that in parenthesis.)

13. Your map-list is now done.

14. Start writing, working through it.

15. As you incorporate items into the piece you’re writing, delete them from the list. This way, the map displays only those ideas you haven’t yet written about in the piece.

Here’s a sample for a news release about the launch of a new strong and flexible fabric created, in part, from recycled materials.

Audience: Mainstream journalists, trade media, bloggers, and analysts who cover sustainable products, textiles and high-tech fabrics.

Main reason for writing: The audience needs to know about the product and its unique and important benefits.

* name of company introducing the product

* name of product

* major benefit it offers, and who’ll get that benefit

* why and how

* unusual uses, attributes ((must yet confirm descriptions))

* lively quote from company exec. ((still need approval))

* another major benefit and why

* another lively quote

* how to learn more, link to website and social media connections

* brief details about the company ((order of these last two could be switched))

It might feel like extra work to do a map-list before you write. But with practice, it gets easier. Doing so is now just part of my writing process. And I am convinced it makes things easier and smoother.

Try it. You might disagree. I’d love to hear what you think.

Becky Gaylord worked as a reporter for more than 15 years in Washington, D.C., Cleveland, and Sydney, Australia, before she launched the consulting practice, Gaylord LLC. You can read Becky’s blog Framing What Works.

This story first appeared on PR Daily in September 2012. 

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