Hughes PR, Social media

Quora? That is the question.

Quora – an online website where questions and answers are created, edited, and organised by everyone who uses it – was launched in Beta about a year ago and there’s been quite a bit of buzz about it on Twitter in the last few weeks.

After coming back from leave recently I setup an an account, which was incredibly easy. Using it is also quite intuitive, something I always like in a new service or any online service for that matter. Although being the type of service it is, I could always ask it how to use it.

In relation to my job at Hughes PR regarding social and digital media, I am able to follow topics related to these areas to see what questions and answers people are adding. I can also follow a particular question and if someone answers that question I am notified within the system, a feature I particularly like because I don’t always remember to follow up on these things. I can also see what questions my followers are following and what the trending topics are.

Therefore it’s quite a social system. But is it of any use to our clients? I think it could be.

Rather than showcase a particular client, I did a search for ‘Adelaide’ being the city in which Hughes PR is based:

This search could just as easily been for a brand. See in the image above how one word in the search bar will show a bunch of related questions so if you do a search for your brand or business you can immediately see what questions are being asked.

These results show me that Quora is not only being used in Adelaide, but that people are asking and answering questions related to Adelaide.

Quora answers are also showing up in Google search results making it another tool to potentially add to the digital strategy arsenal for businesses. At the very least it should be monitored for any references to your business.

One of my first thoughts after starting to use Quora was that it could be more useful than LinkedIn groups facility for questions and answers. I think Quora is a bit more user friendly in this regard.

There are roughly 1 million registered Quora users, although the jury’s out on how accurate any such number is. It has a way to go to catch up with the likes of Twitter and Facebook and maybe it never will, but in the meantime I’ll keep an eye on it.

Hughes PR is a communications and public relations consultancy with proven and extensive experience in publicity and media relations, issues management, crisis management, digital media and social media strategy and implementation, community consultation, event management, media training, publications and strategic problem solving. Find out more.

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Hughes PR, Public relations

You can lead a man to a computer…but you can’t make him type!

Writer’s block is annoying. And as a junior PR consultant I fear I’ve been more prone to it than my senior colleagues. In fact I had it just a few moments ago when thinking about this post.

I’m sure you too have experienced it at some stage – it is an ongoing problem for writers young and old. There have been movies around it (Stranger than Fiction), there are plenty of tweets to help you avoid it (see @advicetowriters and @bookwritingtips) and if you type it in to Google it returns a search of 2,530,000 websites.

Samantha Cain: writers' block!

Samantha Cain, writers' block sufferer.

Most of the time, overcoming writer’s block is bit like getting all the green lights when you’re running late for work – it’s just not going to happen.  In fact your writer’s block may be coming from deep rooted psychological trauma experienced during your childhood. If this is the case… I can’t help you.

In all other scenarios I’ve found these tips to be the most useful:

  • Go for a walk around the block to clear your mind and start fresh. Perhaps stop for coffee on the way
  • Jot down the main points you want to make and build sentences around them
  • Accept that your first draft will be rubbish and move on. You can resume your perfectionist traits during the  edit process
  • Staring at a blinking curser may be the problem. Try switching to ye olde pen and paper
  • Listen to music…or stop listening to music. Try both.
  • Reward yourself after meeting targets. i.e. ‘After I write 3 paragraphs I can check my Facebook!’
  • Switch between project to avoid getting stuck in a rut

If all else fails perhaps consider these words of wisdom from American poet William Stafford: “There’s no such thing as writer’s block for writers whose standards are low enough.” – Perhaps that’s why I always get stuck 🙂

If symptoms persist seek advice from your doctor. Good luck!

Hughes PR is a communications and public relations consultancy with proven and extensive experience in publicity and media relations, issues management, crisis management, digital media and social media strategy and implementation, community consultation, event management, media training, publications and strategic problem solving. Find out more.

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Hughes PR, Public relations

The importance of media monitoring

In an industry where a major measurement indicator is media coverage, there’s a lot to cover.

Wikipedia claims there are 519 newspapers in Australia, and hundreds more magazines and specialty publications.

And that’s just the print media. When you include broadcast (television and radio) and online (news sites, blogs and social media) – most of which are broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week – it’s no wonder that organisations that have a presence in the media find it impossible to keep track of it all.

At Hughes Public Relations, we use media monitoring tools to track what the media is saying about our clients, their industry, their competitors, and their stakeholders. This requirement to get on top of it all applies to both traditional media and “new media” (online). While the methods used to monitor each type of media differ, the core requirement remains the same – ensure that the coverage is relevant, timely and accurate.

We work closely with one of Australia’s largest media monitoring companies to deliver up to date results on client news – which requires refinement and review as news evolves.

Once we’ve used media monitoring tools to gather mentions of keywords, organisation names and industry news, it’s important to make sense of it all. Questions to be asked include: Does the media coverage show that we communicated effectively to our target audiences? Does the media coverage contain our key messages? Does the media coverage include quotes from our spokesperson, or a competitor?

At Hughes PR, we’re advocates of using a qualitative method to measure media coverage. To say “we achieved X number of mentions” or “the advertising value of the media coverage was X” often doesn’t look at the true “value” of the coverage. Value comes not from quantitative measure, but from analysis of the way the message was communicated.

For us, media monitoring is a vital tool to keep track of our results, report to clients, and keep us abreast of what is happening in the client’s industry.

And for a giggle, here’s a clip from the television program Wilfred, where Adam explains his job as a media monitor. (We’re pretty sure there’s more to it than that.)

Hughes PR is a communications and public relations consultancy with proven and extensive experience in publicity and media relations, issues management, crisis management, digital media and social media strategy and implementation, community consultation, event management, media training, publications and strategic problem solving. Find out more.

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Crisis management, Public relations, Social media, Twitter

Social media risk management

A few months ago I came across a really useful infographic about Social media triage. Credit to Charlene Li for this one as outlined here. Click on the image to view in full.

Steps to follow in a social media crisis

The first thing outlined in the diagram above is to assess the message. This means that someone has to be monitoring your brand. But are you?

Last year, there were many examples of companies that failed to monitor their brand and consequently were unable to react to a crisis in the time that social media users expect. Messages from people using Twitter and Facebook can spread very quickly and their reach can be enormous.

Here are some examples of crises that were managed well and not so well via social media.

Good social media responses

  • Harvey Norman ran a radio ad about photos with Santa at Christmas with a reference to lap dances. People found this offensive and voiced their opinions in Twitter. Because Harvey Norman were monitoring social media they saw this and the ad ended up being pulled four hours after the first Tweet. Read about it here.
  • Two Domino’s Pizza employees made a video of themselves doing unsanitary things to food being prepared for customer delivery and posted it to YouTube. Domino’s responded with a video of its own. While the Dominos response was good, it was perhaps a bit late.

Not-so-good social media responses

Harvey Norman and Domino’s both responded to the criticism positively and relatively quickly. They assessed the message, evaluated the purpose, and fixed what needed to be fixed. In Harvey Norman’s case, they took the radio ad off the air. In Domino’s case they responded with a video saying that the employees had been dismissed and that this was an isolated incident.

Qantas didn’t respond at all which just added fuel to the fire and while Nestle did respond, they responded negatively and defensively which impacted their brand negatively in both cases. Qantas should have responded more rapidly (and one would assume the company has put mechanisms in place to do that in future). Nestle shouldn’t have deleted Facebook comments or responded defensively to others. It should have used the criticism as feedback about its brand and made appropriate changes – which it eventually did, but not before the damage was done.

These case studies show that social media can spiral out of control, but how do you mitigate potential risks?

  1. Monitor social media. There are paid tools to do this but there are also free ones, namely: Google Alerts, Social Mention, Twitter search, Booshaka. Setting these up should cover most of your bases.
  2. When/if something does happen, take a deep breath, stay calm and respond to it using the social media triage shown above.
  3. Are you in the social media space now? If you have a crisis, what social media channels will you use to respond? It’s better to have engagement with followers who can become your advocates in a potential crisis rather than scramble to find them if a crisis occurs.
  4. Do you have policies in place for social media? If not, it’s worth setting some policies up so that employees know how to respond, if they should respond etc. Usually companies have some sort of communications policy or guidelines and the social media component can form part of these.

Have you had to deal with crisis that involved social media?

Hughes PR is a communications and public relations consultancy with proven and extensive experience in publicity and media relations, issues management, crisis management, digital media and social media strategy and implementation, community consultation, event management, media training, publications and strategic problem solving. Find out more.

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