Saturday, January 17, 2009

Social media as a business tool

An article by SMH/Age reporter Paul McIntyre recently suggests that with the Prime Minister of Australia on Twitter, blogging his way to the next election, that it's about time business sites up and gets more serious about harnessing the power of social media as a business tool.

All the evidence suggests it will be impossible to ignore.

Twitter, a micro-blogging venture in which users post views, or "tweets", to a maximum of 140 characters, is still tiny. But numbers are up more than 500 per cent this year in Australia, says Hitwise. And the time Twitterites spend with the application is greater than MySpace, Facebook and any of the big five online publishers, including ninemsn and Yahoo!7.

Twitter is just one emerging social media application, but combined with others (and there are hundreds) it is creating a boom for the PR industry because someone's got to interpret what's being said about companies and brands online.

However while technology may be helping media audiences gather news from sources outside the mainstream - eg blogs, social networks, podcasting, vodcasting, video-sharing sites, it can't deliver what companies need: automated insight about consumers.

Companies around the world over are starting to dabble with social media - and they have to or they will be left behind.

Here are some of its statistics on online users gathered this year:
Bloggers globally: 184 million;
Those who watch video clips online: 82.9 per cent;
Those who say they have joined a social network: 57 per cent;
Those who have uploaded photos to a network: 55 per cent;
Those who have uploaded videos to a network: 22 per cent;
Those who have uploaded a video clip to a video sharing website: 8.5 per cent.

These are global figures, but UM breaks out some numbers for Australian users: 62 per cent say they have read a blog, up from 21 per cent in 2006 and 55 per cent last year.

Most important point for companies: 34 per cent of bloggers say they post opinions about products or brands!

So the challenge for those of us in PR is not only to monitor these forums for information and discussions around our products or brand but how we engage and participate in the discussion.

Join in the Professional Communicators' Network Online Forum
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To read Paul McIntyre's original article visit

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Secret to Setting Powerful Goals in 2009

Do you set goals or make resolutions at the beginning of each year? With 2009 upon us now is the time to whip out a pen and paper or your Blackberry and make some plans before another digitally enhanced year speeds by!

Want to know the secret to setting goals that you will achieve? It's all to do with your unconscious mind and the way you frame your goals. You see when you talk about accomplishing something in the future, it will stay in the future in your mind.

For example here are some typical goals:
"I aim to increase my profits per client by 50%."
"I plan to delegate more and take more holidays in 2009."
Instead write them in the following manner:
"I increased profits per client by 50%."
"I outsourced all the administrative and operational functions of my business and took 6 weeks of holidays to travel."

See the difference? When you write your goals as accomplishments, you trick your subconscious mind into believing they've already happened.

Instead of thinking about all the obstacles between now and reaching your goals, visualize yourself already where you want to be. This minor shift in language will make a huge shift in setting up the mindset you need for success.

If you want 2009 to be more successful than 2008, you need to think differently and plan differently. You may need fresh ideas and different skills; to find new partners or associates, better ways to organize your business and even a coach or mentor.

Make a list of your accomplishments for this coming year. The act of writing them down and sharing them tricks your brain into making a commitment to reach them. Define what you'll have achieved 12 months from now written in the past tense, as if you'd already achieved them.
My secret weapon in ensuring my goals are powerful is to write them in the form of a gratitude letter. So each year I write my goals down in the form of a Gratitude Letter because as an author and communicator I find this narrative, descriptive form most powerful as it makes it tangible and gets my creative juices flowing.

I recommend you review your goals and plans regularly, daily if not weekly so as you reread them you can track your progress. It's easy to make resolutions. But it's hard to make them come true.

No wonder so many people make the same resolutions every year, without ever achieving them. Don't let yourself fall into this trap. This year 2009, right now, resolve to put your goals onto paper and, if you need to, hire a coach or find an accountability buddy to keep you on the track to success!

If you would like to download and read a copy of my special gratitude letter simply visit

Friday, January 9, 2009

The 'Embargo' argument

Last year, Chris Anderson of Wired magazine made news with the controversial decision to publish the email addresses of PR practitioners who consistently bombarded him with irrelevant pitches. Now, Michael Arrington of the TechCrunch blog has fired an opening salvo at companies that fail to enforce embargoes.

The latest article from Marketing Profs outlines his new approach:

"We've never broken an embargo at TechCrunch," he writes at a post titled "Death to the Embargo." "Not once. Today that ends. From now our new policy is to break every embargo. We'll happily agree to whatever you ask of us, and then we'll just do whatever we feel like right after that. We may break an embargo by one minute or three days. We'll choose at random."

In the last year, argues Arrington, companies desperate for attention have become especially aggressive in their pitching methods, for instance by providing embargoed announcements to just about anyone with a URL. While reputable outlets like TechCrunch hold the news until the embargo date, it looks as if they're being scooped on a regular basis by less scrupulous competitors. "The benefits are clear," he says. "[S]ites like Google News and TechMeme prioritize them first as having broken the story. Traffic and links flow in to whoever breaks an embargo first."

What do you think of Arrington's policy?

Cheers Heidi Alexandra Pollard, The Communicators' Coach