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Sunday, 14 November 2010

Use Twitter for PR & Market Intelligence

picture of the blue Twitter bird logo
Intelligent use of Twitter
Twitter is popular with business users as it's a highly time-efficient way to learn from the best in your field if you follow really good people.

It is also very easy to keep tabs on your major competitors online.

Use Twitter's List facility to set up a private list of any named Twitter user's tweets.
  • Click on New List at your home page to create a list.
  • Set up lists of all the Twitter accounts you want to keep tabs on to see how they using Twitter.
  • Read, mark and learn!

Then you can see how effective your competitors are, by running a Twitter search on your @competitors' names. Save the search to repeat it quickly. That will show you what others are tweeting about them.

You'll be able to spot when people are complaining about them - and the things that others really appreciate about their service.

While you might feel like jumping straight in to offer something better when you spot a problem, it's less spammy to get others to recommend you. Or you could offer tips on choosing that kind of product or service without blatently selling yours? Less is more for sales results, especially online:

The King of Helpfulness always trumps Princess Pushy.

Learn from competitors' successes: lots of retweets for a tweet containing a link to their blog gives you a good steer on what topics are the most popular. And if they're not active in this area, maybe you have spotted a cunning opportunity to become the go-to expert in your niche or area?

People often connect Twitter to their other main social media tools, making it easier to work out which social media tools they are deploying. Updates from the other networks will show up in their tweet-stream. You can virtually deduce a whole social media strategy with an intelligent look at a tweet-stream.


One of the most wicked tools for gaining insight into a competitors' list of followers is a tool called It shows a Twitter user's followers (ranked by factors such as the number of followers and the frequency of their tweets) so you can spot the most influential. Armed with that info, you may want to monitor them, or follow them in the hope that they follow you back (apparently on average, 80% of people return the favour and follow back) so they get exposed to your company too.

Tweepi also gives you an easy way to identify people who are following you, but you have not followed back, so you can quickly rememedy that oversight if you rate them.

I particularly like Tweepi for it's ability to find quality people to follow - just start with one top quality person in your field on Twitter with a decent number of followers. Rank the Tweepi table by the number of followers or activity levels (opt out of speed mode in the menu on the top right and selected Preset targets, and have a look at the explanations - it's a very fast education in the finer points of Twitter).

Followers posting quality information links are useful, but become very important if you want to create your very own daily newspaper using I've mentioned before here, so this is just a quick description: it takes the links posted by people you're following on Twitter and turns them into a very smart looking daily newspaper bearing your name. It will also promote your daily newspaper (if you select the promote option) by putting out a varied daily tweet from your twitter account. If nothing else, it takes care of the days you don't get round to posting anything else. But be sure to follow enough people that post links to create a daily paper. You may also want to clean up your follow list to avoid inappropriate material ending up in your daily newspaper.

Measuring Twitter Influence

You can also get objective feedback on competitors' Twitter performance (and measure your own to draw comparisons) using two free tools.

Twitter Grader produces a report showing the overall score of any Twitter username's presence and the most frequently used keywords in their tweets. Very helpful information if you want to come up on Twitter searches under key search terms - or need a reminder to jump on a particular keyword bandwaggon.

Another service, called Klout, looks at a number of factors including the amount of interaction from followers generated by any individual Twitter user to determine the reach of that person on Twitter. I personally find it rates/encourages meaningless chatter between two people that would be better conducted on a 1-2-1 basis, but apparently, we all want to be seen chatting to influential people... sorry Brittany, must dash...

Twitter Management Tools
To manage all this and monitor several tweet-streams at once, consider using free Twitter management services like Tweetdeck or HootSuite. They also allow you to post fast replies.

I find is the most useful tool if you want to put out a post in a variety of different ways as it allows you to create variants for blogs, microblogs like Twitter and also social bookmarking sites.

Other Twitter Tools?

I'm working my way through Twitter tools - which ones do you think I should try?

Thanks Smashing Magazine for the Twitter pic.

PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK

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Thursday, 11 November 2010

PHPR's own mobile app!

PHPR's mobile app for Nokia

We now have our very own mobile app showing my blog and twitter feeds all arranged for a mobile screen. So our online PR goes online mobile.

PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK

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Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Prezi v PowerPoint in Marketing & PR

Have a look at this - there's no comparison!
No wonder the TED conference voted to back the inventors.

PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK

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Clear Communications, PR and abbreviations

picture of coloured dice with letters on them - Abbreviations need to be spelled out for clear communications
Abbreviations need to be spelled out for clear communications
I've just had a press release in from an organisation with a name composed of three initials. The subject matter is something to do with employment, but I haven't a clue whether they are a union, a recruitment consultancy or something else. A quick glance at the website didn't help.

Any journalist worth their salt knows how dangerous it is to make assumptions about abbreviations. There are a huge number of owners for every short arrangement of initials, as any good acronyms guide will clearly demonstrate. That's why journalists are always taught to clarify abbreviations they use by spelling them out in brackets after the first use, regardless of how familiar the abbreviations appear to be.

The named press contact on the release is an in-house PR (public relations) person. There's no mention of a PR agency, and maybe that's the trouble. An outside eye might have been less blind to the obvious. It's all too easy to get sucked into adopting the jargon and initials used within an organisation.

But regardless of what type of PR person wrote the release, they've obviously forgotten or never had any basic journalism training.

Why should they? Well, if you don't understand the needs of the market you are trying to communicate with, how can you be taken seriously? Especially if you commit elementary mistakes.

And not making it obvious who you are on your releases, and compounding that confusion on the website homepage is missing two major communications tricks.

It may sound harsh, but if you can't be bothered to make it clear who you are, do you really think anyone else is going to bother?

Image: jscreationzs /

PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK

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Tuesday, 9 November 2010

PR Fees and Press Release Distribution

Press release distribution and results online and in the media
A business forum posting about press release distribution (from a member thanked over 100 times) claims that PR agencies want at least £3k and most want £7k plus for the work.

Really? I wish I could find people throwing these amounts at us for a release and we usually get brilliant results!

Then a couple of pages follow containing a few online distribution suggestions. But this is all back-to-front to my mind.

The secret is not just the distribution (and we submit to 100+ online sites + a wealth of off-line media), but what you distribute that counts. Good content is what matters if you want real business results from your releases: such as editors paying attention to your releases and giving you media coverage that raises your profile, increases sales enquiries and boosting your marketing and sales efforts. Plus journalists and potential clients reading your releases when they pop up on page one of Google searches.

The execution of the idea (spot-on writing and great distribution) is important, but it is just the carrier mechanism. The initial idea comes first.

The ideas generation is the bit that most business business owners find hard because they have too little time to come up with stories or visual ideas. It's also a question of focus - you need to live and breathe media to be in the groove. We are constantly focussing on news stories. In fact, we often find businesses sitting on great stories that have been completely over-looked. Years of editing, broadcasting and journalism experience probably help, allied to both online and off-line PR skills.

We also invest in high quality media data service providers - online and off, including bloggers and freelancers, to ensure that clients' releases get the maximum exposure because you only get one chance with each release. Our distribution service further maximises that one chance by allowing us to embed pictures and videos within the release without clogging up editors' in-boxes. Online editors in particular like media options to enliven their pages. Plus several trade press editors I've spoken to are so fed up with pack shots that they say they will print "almost anything within reason as long as it comes with a decent picture" to brighten up their page layout - we know who they are!

We also:
  • Optimise the release to boost your website ranking and SEO results
  • Then go online to report on the distribution success of your release.
  • Help promote the release further with cross posts on social media.
  • Offer suggestions for further social media exposure, or handle these for you.
  • Plus offer advanced media training for crisis and contingency planning - and handling media enquiries effectively.
Maybe some of the PR agencies the forum poster was thinking of do more than this for their £7k, and that's fine.

We just think that our service will suit people who want effective results.

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Monday, 8 November 2010

Your Brand on Social Media

Photo of Penny Haywood Calder, PHPR's MD on a huge billboard illustrating Pictures with PR impact
PHPR - Pictures with PR impact
First impressions count - and that's all down to your photo on social media.

Mashable/Social Media* asked designers for tips on boosting your personal brand.

The first is kinda obvious: start with a sharp, in-focus quality pic.

Secondly, use the same pic to become instantly recognisable as you post across forums and social media.

Thirdly: check out how your pic is being displayed and re-scale if necessary using Photoshop or the free GIMP photo editing software. My cheat's way to avoid mucking about with picture editing is to use Google's Picassa to organise pictures and do basic editing tasks because it's a lot faster than dedicated editing software. To re-size photos, export the photo from Picassa to your hard drive (the export function is near the bottom of the screen) and you'll get an option to adjust the photo size setting.

If you want to jazz up your photo, the Mashable post suggests using Photoshop to get a retro Lomo photo look or a pencil drawing effect. However, you can get both these in Picassa now they have linked up with the excellent (and easy to use) Picnik tool. Picnik offers a lot of freebie photo effects and charges a small annual fee to access premium effects. But I suggest remembering to use the 'save as' function to keep a copy of your original pic as effects go in and out of fashion and a good photo is often surprisingly difficult to re-create.

If you're using your photo for business, I'd personally avoid their suggestion of using an avatar instead of a photo. Real people tend to buy from real people, unless you're in a very funky niche where people don't care what you might look like, but might be impressed with the latest design band-waggon.

I am grateful to the Mashable post for leading me to which offers compellingly good photo mash-ups. I used it to create the photo above. However, I don't think that diluting your personal brand by mixing it in with something else will help on most social media sites when the pic is reduced to a 1cm square. It'll be extremely hard to recognise you from the little portion on the mash-up.

But I have to admit Photofunia is great fun and will make striking personalised cards (yes, there is a Xmas tree with the option of putting your photo on the baubles). It's also another way of getting your face better known, creating personal and unusual photos for newsletters and blogs. There's research that shows people switch off from stock shots in blogs and newsletters but do pay attention to pictures of relevant people (but not models). Photofunia is a fun way to get your face into lots of good-looking situations and hopefully the personal touch will get your images past the viewers' visual bloat response.

There's lots of effects to choose from and it's free, but I wouldn't use a combined image as my main personal brand on the little squares allowed on most social media and forum sites.

And they do have a Photofunia song:
PhotoFunia Theme by photofunia


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Friday, 5 November 2010

PHPR Daily News

I was at a couple of networking events yesterday and several people commented on our daily newspaper which is promoted every day on my Twitter page*

They were all wanting to know how we do it.

The secret is the excellent (and free) tool.

Plus using our editorial skills to carefully follow a sizeable number of people who post interesting and/or useful material. That's the hard bit and we are still tweaking that list.

The reason the people you chose to follow is so important is because takes the content for your personalised daily newspaper from the links these people post. does the heavy-lifting when it comes to organising the content within these links, presenting the material in a professional manner and providing optional promotional assistance.


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Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Prezi is lightyears ahead of PowerPoint

Have a look at this! Keep moving it on with the arrow key.

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Online Newsrooms Failing Journalists

Companies are in danger of losing the initiative when it comes to being the "go to" source of information about themselves.

According to the Bulldog Reporter /TEKGROUP International's 2010 Journalist Survey on Media Relations Practices, more than 84% of journalists visit corporate websites or online newsroom at least once a month. Despite that level of interest, more than half the journalists surveyed reported it is often difficult to find a) the organizations’ media representatives, b) their PR contact information or c) useful press materials.

Journalists on deadlines don't hang about when they want information.

That probably explains why there is a 19% increase in journalists visiting social media sites to do their job. Around 55.5% claim to use Twitter and 73.4% use Facebook for research. Not surprisingly, there's an even higher dependency on social media among journalists covering consumer technology, entertainment and arts/culture.

Do you really want a company name search on Twitter or Facebook to be the first thing a journalist sees about your business?

However, the good news is that PR people can find out more about journalists and engage with them direct since more than 90% of journalists in the study are on Facebook and around 70% on LinkedIn. But heaven help you if you spam them!

The study found journalists are blogging less, but receiving (so hopefully reading) more blogs, podcasts, videocasts, and digital news services—by subscribed RSS or e-mail feeds.

PHPR always advocats posting a minimum of 24/7 media contact info, plus links to photos and videos, press releases and press background materials.

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Monday, 1 November 2010

Real Time Marketing & PR

David Meerman Scott's new book is launched today and the last time I looked, it was already at #12 on

I'm not surprised.

Real Time Marketing and PR (Real Time MPR) is another refreshing blast at traditional ways of promoting things. It follows his seminal New Rules of Marketing & PR - a book that went on to become a modern business classic and stayed on BusinessWeek's bestseller list for six months.

Real Time MPR shows that engaging with people in real time puts companies significantly ahead - with the research to back that up. He shows how people in the 100 largest companies in America engage in real-time (or not) - and names names.

You can download a free sample of Real Time MPR here:

Earlier today, I attended Meerman Scott's Hubspot webinar where he made a really useful observation: that "reaching people in real time" is something that interests companies much more than "social media". Once more, DMS has articulated something I've seen but not put into words. He is a really clever soul.

Careful: reading his books may cause a series of light-bulbs to glow brightly above your head.

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