Social media has taken the world by storm, becoming the most used medium for advertising, information sharing, and business development, with many platforms through which to reach and network with customers around the world. Jason Hartman interviews Deirdre Breakenridge on the changes in public relations, how to find the people you’re trying to attract, how to monitor your community of consumers, and listening and meeting the needs of your clients by providing more meaningful information. For more details, listen at: www.SpeakingofWealth.com. Some of the most popular platforms today are Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Vimeo. Deirdre explains how to “listen” on the various platforms, including searching Google and Yahoo, describing different powerful software platforms that can provide this tool for bigger brands. She also discusses effective public relations monitoring for speakers and publishers, including being part of community chats, blogs, and forums in social media communities, such as Twitter. She encourages people to be and act like the thought leader, but to also be available to answer questions or speak or coach. Deirdre stresses who you are online is really who you need to be all the way around. Your online presentation should match who you are in real life. “Be your brand,” says Deirdre.
Jason and Deirdre touch on the subject of news releases, the changes beyond traditional outlets, including the ability to hyperlink resources and embed YouTube videos in your material. Deirdre refers to this function as PR 2.0, a more customized story that can be shared in communities. In the new age of social media and public relations platforms, there are many more options available to reach customers/consumers. As these outlets evolve, several are becoming much more cost effective. Deirdre K. Breakenridge is Chief Executive Officer at Pure Performance Communications. A veteran in PR and marketing, Deirdre has counseled senior level executives at companies including Empire Today, Hershey’s, JVC, Kraft, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and the World Bank. Deirdre is the author of four Financial Times books. Her book, “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations,” published in March 2009, is available in major bookstores and online. She has also authored: “PR 2.0, New Media, New Tools, New Audiences,” “The New PR Toolkit” and “Cyberbranding: Brand Building in the Digital Economy.” Her fifth and most recent book, “Social Media and Public Relations: Eight New Practices for the PR Professional,” will be published by FT Press, a Pearson company in February 2012.
Deirdre speaks nationally and internationally on the topics of PR, marketing and social media communications. In 2011, she was a keynote speaker at the RIT Social Media and Communications Symposium, delivered the keynote address for the Maine Public Relations Counsel (MPRC), and presented the keynote at Visa Championships / USA Gymnastics Conference. Deirdre has also presented at BlogWorld, Social Media Congress (in Amsterdam), the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA), the Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG), the Public Relations Association of Museums (PRAM), and the Women’s Presidents Organization (WPO). Deirdre is a member of PRSA and has served as a on the Board of NJ/PRSA and the New Jersey Advertising Club. Top Rank named Deirdre among the 25 Women that Rock Social Media and Traackr recognized Deirdre as the #1 PR 2.0 Influencer in 2011. Deirdre is a contributing editor of TechConnect, PRSA’s technology newsletter. She blogs about PR 2.0 strategies and The Daily National and is the co-founder of #PRStudChat, a dynamic Twitter discussion scheduled monthly for PR students, educators and PR pros.
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Jason Hartman: My pleasure to welcome Deirdre Breakenridge to the show. She is the CEO of Pure Performance Communications at Marlboro, New Jersey. She is also the author of the new book entitled Putting the Public Back in Public Relations. Deirdre, welcome.
Deirdre: Thank you very much Jason. It’s a pleasure to speak with you.
Jason Hartman: Well, it’s a pleasure to have you on the show, and before we start I must apologize to our listeners if my voice sounds worse it is. I am fighting a cold and so Deirdre please do most of the talking for this interview.
Deirdre: Oh it’s a good thing I like to talk a lot so thank you.
Jason Hartman: This will be a perfectly match then. So tell us about you've been in the public relations industry for a long time, and most of our listeners are speakers, authors, publishers, and there have been so many changes in your industry. I mean everybody thought there were a lot of changes 12, 13 years ago well with the advent of new internet methodologies and so forth, but then once again we had a whole another metamorphosis with social media, kind of take us may be through the timeline of the last couple of decades if you would.
Deirdre: Oh sure. My goodness, the changes have been monumental. I think that with the latest change with social media its literally not that's on our side. Not to say we were doing pretty well with getting used to the internet. My third book actually was called the New PR Toolkit, and that was strategies for successful media relations online, so we were learning how to build relationships with journalist online, and then suddenly as we were building our newsrooms and sending out our e-newsletters and learning the HTML blast, next thing that happened was something called social media, and unfortunately and you know I can raise my hand too even though I started looking at social media in 2003, this was even behind the times in a sense.
Social media was out there in 1998, 1999, and I got a hard kick in the pants with social media in the meeting with the CEO of a tech company who after we presented our strategy said yeah what about the new stuff? And what I realized then in 2003 that my self and probably of my peers really weren't prepared, and didn’t understand this new approach, so I really did some long hard research rolling up my sleeves, finding out that hey this is a brand new approach. Its very exciting, but its posed challenges for us as well, but the good news is that we've seen some great progress from PR professionals and then all communications professionals where we understand that you know we have always been about relationships.
Social media helps to make better relationships and direct connections, so I think we are building into some new territories, you know never charted you know we haven't charted the waters before, and its something that I am looking forward to seeing how we embrace and take it further for ourselves personally because I am a big advocate of doing yourself and taking it back into your organization, so lots of changes, and a lot to think about.
Jason Hartman: Well, do tell us Deirdre if you would, what is involved in a public relations campaign nowadays and think of it is though you have a client, who has a speaker and author, publisher. Is it sending out news releases, is it doing their Facebook page, their Twitter account? Tell us about that?
Deirdre: Okay well, I am a hybrid so because I grew up in traditional PR I am definitely not somebody to say oh abandon all of your old techniques and just move into this new digital and social realm. I believe that you always have to whether you are a speaker an author, or whoever you are. You always have to be thinking about where are the people that I want to reach, where are they congregating, what are their issues, how can I help them, and how am I going to reach them the most effective way, so it used to be where you sort of did some research on your audience, and messages were kind of handed them.
You had them based on your experience in the industry you would formulate your strategy and part of the tactics could have been news release development, and you know all may be with all about our thought leadership program, so one thing that has changed so much for everybody, and I have said this word way too many times, and probably its in one of those books. Don’t ever say this word again because we all know what you are talking about, but is the ability to listen first to monitor communities, and you know yes we will still be using newsletters to reach people there absolutely if they find them valuable keep doing it, but when it comes to the social web, and if you know that you have groups in social communities that you want to reach its no longer just formulating these messages that serve your purpose.
The biggest thing that and the biggest change is the listening approach where you start monitoring and tracking for keywords. Keywords that are relevant to you to what you are vowed and what you can mentoring into meaningful information advice things that people need, helps them with their questions. So the monitoring exercise is so key and the keywords usually you can go into any platform. I don’t care if it's the social network or micro medium network. You can go into video sharing platforms, book marketing platforms, you name it, and you can go in, and start tracking to see number one is anybody talking about me specifically, or are they talking about my books. What is it, what are some of those trending topics that they really need help with, and as you identify in different social communities that either yes they are talking so gosh I need to be there because they are either saying great things, and I want to thank them, and join the conversation or may be there don’t understand me and they are bashing my brand, so I better explain myself whatever the case may be its that opportunity to make a better connection to provide more meaningful information and to be a resource, so your purpose and your strategies are based on that.
You are not just sending out your own messages, but you are developing the information that’s actually suiting somebody's needs. I today, everyday I am listening so that I can develop better blog post and content and work materials into my books because I hear the pain that's out there, so I dress them.
Jason Hartman: Absolutely so no question that listening is important. We have two ears, and one mouth so that's what god gave us. We should use them proportionally, absolutely. Now I can see how one does that really on Twitter because you can use Twitter to sort keywords and so forth. You can use search engines to do that. But tell us a specific granular mechanic method by which someone listens if you would.
Deirdre: Well, you would be surprised because there are some powerful dashboards that aggregate conversation so in comes cases like a [Dictamatic 0:09:35] you don’t, you can just plug in what it is that you are search and it will pull all of the dimensions through Google, through Yahoo, through Twitter. If there are many videos that mention a person that you are searching for the videos will be pulled through YouTube or let's say Vimeo.
So you want to be able to because it would be really time consuming if we mechanically had to go into every different platform to go and search so a [Dictamatic] is a free too. There are other free tools that do this to help, or you could go for some of those if you have the budget, and believe me its worthy investment. There are some powerful monitoring software platforms like Radian6 or Sismso Vocus. You know there is Lithium. There are many powerful platforms that can really do the work for you, and now you are not just monitoring for keywords, you are getting into the sentiment so you are actually seeing how people are feeling positive, neutral or negative about your brand, your share of voice to your competitors which really helpful so you can do a lot in those specific platforms.
Jason Hartman: And typically those subscriptions can be anywhere from $2000 a year may be on up to several thousand a year.
Deirdre: Absolutely. You know some of those platforms depending on whether it's based on the number of mentions or the number of keywords that you are using it could be 500 months, so it could be much higher than that. So, if you are a big brand 30,000 mentions a month is nothing, so your base 500 a month would certainly be a lot higher so yes they can be costly.
Jason Hartman: So these are not necessarily appropriate for the individual speaker author. They are usually more for PR firms, or bigger brands with in-house PR departments probably, but an ambitious solopreneur type could use them as well. You know may be a good question to ask is speakers are usually authors as well, and how do they get more speaking engagements. Do you want to talk about that a little bit?
Deirdre: Sure. I love this question because based a lot of what I do on getting more speaking engagement, so one thing that is really effective hoping that everybody is familiar with let's say HootSuite or even TweetDeck. You can monitor for call for papers, call for speakers. My area is public relations, social media, and use one of your streams in HootSuite to monitor or on TweetDeck, and you will see people who literally are talking about different calls for speakers to go into conferences that is definitely one way to stay up on your submission.
Another way especially on Twitter is to be a part of the community chat that are in your industry where you know there is certain paying points. Now, I happen to have developed my own community group on Twitter. It's called, it’s a hashtag PRStudChat. I did it with Valerie Simon who is my co-founder, and you know you are listening, our group is for students, professionals and educators in public relations, and they are all interested in this move from traditional PR to social media.
Speaking with them its daily conversations you are giving thought leadership, expertise when you participate in this type of forum you are being recognized as a thought leader which then in turn some of the connections that you are making turn into Deirdre, can you speak at such and such conference? Deirdre, you shared a blogpost through Twitter that you had on your blog, and my blog is PR 2.0 strategies, its deirdrebereakenridge.com.
You are using your thought leadership in these conversations which in turn leads to more speaking. I also think that blogging helps quite a bit with thought leadership. I had set up with my blog to talk about topics that are exciting, yet painful and that people need to move through, and there is a little area that says contact me if you have a question, or you want me to speak, so its little things like this that you can look like the thought leader.
You have to act like the thought leader, do the work behind it, but then make it yourself available so that people can contact you. I think that people should know that who you are online really is who you need to be all the way around. I've heard this a lot. There are some great personalities. We see them all the time. There is rockstars if the way you will present online, your personal brand it is very important to follow through.
In public relations, we are big on our integrity, and building the relationships you need to be that person in real life too, so if you — I think my brand is all about education and helping people on that way in real life, and I carry it forward, so I just think that you know how you are in the virtual, and you want to take to the physical that's the best thing that you can do all of this social media should lead to personal relationships in real life shaking hands because that's where business is done so I just believe in be your brand, say who you are the follow through. It's very easy to present yourself one way especially through social media, and then not be that person in real life.
Jason Hartman: Yeah well, this is nothing more than an expansion of one self. It's not an alter ego, its you. Well, may be it is an alter ego by that sense, but it's simply an expansion of ones own self. Talk to us a little bit if you would about may be news release distribution, good old fashion PR, but taken to the new modern world and some of the websites that you suggest in and methodologies to distributing these releases, and may be anything on formatting news releases too. What is changed there? They are probably getting shorter. The tension spans are shorter. We know that.
Deirdre: Yeah. There is a lot of changes in news releases. I do take a hybrid approach where I have clients who still need the far reach the distribution of a wire service. At the same time you want a great functionality that PR 2.0 can bring to you so some of the device providers that had news releases that allow you to get out there to traditional outlet as well you can share them in social communities.
They have more multimedia function. There is more resources and hyperlinks. You can embed your YouTube videos, and your podcast. Service like that which I use is PRWeb, so I find out that they sort of give you the best of both world. Now, they are the less expensive option. You still have Business Wire and PR Newswire that have great services. They have tremendous reach, and these are the big guys in the industry, and they too have these 2.0 functionality where you want your news release to get out there, and get to the outlets, and get to the journalist.
You want to make sure that they get to the bloggers, but at the same time you want to make sure that consumers as well that they are searchable. They are search engine optimized that people can find your releases, and then have the ability to share them whether its on Twitter or LinkedIn or Facebook or Google plus or wherever, so there is a lot of new media capability where it used to be send out a straight release, and wait to see where it landed.
Now, you can track the sharing, so in pitch engine this is another, this is more a social media release which is a very different than a traditional release. It is housed on a broad platform that's when you want to use a community tool where you build a release, and pitch engine allows you to do this. You build the release, and people just pull from it, and this release looks a little bit different because you had asked about the format.
As a community tool it's more bulleted. You are having hyperlinks for resources. You are definitely building in your images for people to share, and download your videos were there, but this doesn’t cross a wire so this is completely different. This is more a customized story, a tool that builds community that people can comment around, so I really think you have to step back to say okay who is it that I want to reach. As a speaker myself I don’t think that when I talk to a PR person in a particular program in a region, then I am going to send that out over the wire.
I think that's a more customized story where I can sort of dig into a topic and that would be a social media release that I am going to share in my community which is a very different approach so you can have the total social media approach with the social media release. You can go a hybrid approach using something like PRWeb or looking into what PR Newswire or Business Wire do or you know what you can still just have a traditional news release that goes out over the wire. However, I am going to throw this out too.
A lot of traditional release is used to be on the IR side for financial related information.
Jason Hartman: Because they were required by the SEC.
Jason Hartman: Yeah right.
Deirdre: Now, the SEC according to Regulation FD back in 2008 says that if your website is a primary channel, if you are a big publisher and you are a public company and your website is a primary channel you can use your IR newsroom as a place where you can disclose SEC information and your financial reportings.
Jason Hartman: First of all define a IR and define primary channel?
Deirdre: Okay so Investor Relations is IR and primary channel I believe this is through the SEC's Reg FD really means that this is a area where your investors, where your financial people, your analyst that they are able to get to, and there is certain information that needs to be available. It has to be built a certain way.
I don’t have the specifics of Reg FD in front of me but companies of course larger companies had jumped on this like Google like Microsoft. Netflix is actually done this. There is a whole list of companies who do it because they realize that they are saving company by using their own newsroom as a place to invite the investors to come in, and to do their financial reporting, so that's a huge cost savings.
Jason Hartman: They don’t have to do national news releases for every bit of information like they used to.
Jason Hartman: That is a giant because those news releases on the wire surfaces are very expensive even for large companies they are national that can really get costly for doing a lot of them
Deirdre: Yeah I heard its about $15,000 a quarter for companies generally in terms of their announcements that go out over the wire on the investor relations side, so there is a big cost saving. At the same time, there is still lots of tweaks that need to be made. It’s a transition moving through the wire surface into your own portal that is deemed in a way at appropriate channel for you to place this type of news, so I think we are going to see a lot more on the topic.
It's very interesting, but you can see just based on what I have said from the social media release to this hybrid approach from a traditional release to releasing it on your own website financial information that's huge. That's a heck of a lot of change.
Jason Hartman: Yeah it sure is. It sure is. Let's get back to speakers for just a moment and may be we will kind of start finishing up here. What about Speaker's Bureau nowadays?
Deirdre: Okay so you know what I am not even in Speaker's Bureau. I would love to be. I still think that they are valuable, and I am noticing that some of my peers are being listed. I would love to chat with some of them to see how that's working out for them. With the speakers bureau is what I have noticed through my own experience is that you know they are looking for a certain knowledge level may be it’s a number of books that you have published or what you have done in the past I think that is an excellent place to be, and I know some folks who are high, high end speakers who are doing well.
But I think its hard for the — you know I don’t want to say the little guy, but the little guy who is starting out and can't get into the Speaker's Bureau and honestly doesn’t have enough money for a public relations firm even to start their speakers bureau because that takes money too in the form of a retainer and we are going to publicize you, and we are going to create a speaking program.
Social media does give you a tremendous benefit in the fact that you can do, it takes time, but I think I built my speaking program based on my books through social media, so I think that yes speakers bureau that's great when you get to a certain level, but boy let me tell you getting to that level, you can really use social media to your advantage.
Jason Hartman: Yeah no question about it. Well, Deirdre just to kind of wrap all of this up, what would you like people to know, and may be actually before you do that, before we wrap that up, talk to us about what your firm does? Do you is it a done before you type of program or is it a program where you teach people how to do it, or a combination of both?
Deirdre: Thank you for asking. So Pure Performance Communications it is — we are a strategic communication in technology firm. We work with you to help you with your strategy so that you understand it. It could be traditional, digital and social what is the best approach to making sure there is maximum impacts with the audience that you want to reach. A lot has to do with transitioning sometimes not only your approach, but it could be your own organization, and really a lot of it is getting into training where I am noticing that people just need to be training on what give me my strategy and get me started, so we are helping you know for the small businesses and even some of the medium sized to show you what your program is going to look like and how we will set you up through your social media channels and work with you on your listening, your monitoring and what your measurement should be because if we are not measuring there is no, no question to my mind you shouldn't even be out there talking up the storm because you have to show return, and there have to be accountability so that's what we do best is thinking strategically for you, showing you a great program creatively through communication and technology and then training you so that you should be able to do this moving forward for yourself where we are just sort of spot checking, and popping in and helping where needed.
Jason Hartman: Well, Deirdre Breakenridge thanks so much for joining us today and you did give out your website before, but just give it out once again you would.
Deirdre: Yes its purperfromancecomm.com, and also check out my blog deirdrebreakenridge.com.
Jason Hartman: Thanks so much.
Deirdre: Thanks so lot.
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The Speaking of Wealth Team
Transcribed by: Renee’ Naphier