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Four Years Later, Little Traction for Barcelona Principles

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The coalition’s participating organizations are a veritable alphabet soup of PR: the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC), the Institute for Public Relations (IPR), the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management, the Council of Public Relations Firms and The Conclave, a groups of social media specialists.

The first set of adopted standards covers traditional media measurement, digital and social media measurement, communications lifecycle (awareness, knowledge, intent, preference, and advocacy) and return on investment. (For details on the standards, go to www.instituteforpr.org.)

For the last several months, the “core four” brands have been working with their in-house measurement executives and vendors on how to put the initial standards to use.

“We’re applying the interim standards and trying them on for size,” Rutherford said. “It’ll be a game changer if we’re all speaking the same language, showing how we define success and how we measure it.”

SPREAD THE MESSAGE

But there’s a growing sentiment that the PR practice needs to do a much better job of educating communicators (of all stripes) about the Barcelona Principles as well as the initial set of standards.

A recent survey by PR News found that 66% of PR professionals are not familiar with the Barcelona Principles. The survey drew 145 responses.

“We need improvement on the awareness of the standards,” said Frank Ovaitt, president-CEO of the IPR. “We need to get out there and promote more standards in PR measurement, which is not an easy story to tell. We’re winning the war even if some battles will require more firepower.”

Giselle Bodie, CEO of the measurement company Salience Insight, added: “We have clear evidence that PR measurement is growing and in good health. However while it is pleasing for the industry that, slowly but surely, it is establishing a foothold in the wider PR and marketing consciousness, we are still a ‘work in progress.’”

One test will be later this year, when the coalition is hoping to achieve widespread adoption of the initial measurement standards.

Rutherford stressed that it will be a challenge to get measurement vendors on board, many of which have a vested interest in maintaining their own measurement tools.

“We need to foster competition on the [communications] insights, not on the black boxes,” she said. “The pressure needs to come from the client.”

PR Measurement standards will evolve, of course, to conform to macro changes in the marketplace. However, regardless of the nuts-and bolts, communicators need to put the concept of measurement at the forefront of all their activities, said Molly McKenna Jandrain, director of PR at McDonald’s (USA).

“The big difference is we used to measure the results in terms of outputs,” she said. “Now, we’re using measurement to inform strategy and allow us to measure outputs as they relate to business outcomes.”

Asked about the low visibility of the Barcelona Principles, McKenna Jandrain said: “It shows we have more work to do. If we want to elevate the PR profession, we have to take the standards seriously.”

Barcelona Principles Facing Growing Pains

Mark Weiner

Mark Weiner

The president of a mid-sized PR agency once confessed to me: “I’d rather forego being a proven success in exchange for never being a proven failure.” This attitude undermines public relations’ aspiration for professional status and misses two of the greatest benefits of research: to provide the feedback required to make better decisions in the future; and to provide validated “proof of performance.”

In 2010, the Barcelona Principles established straightforward guidelines for proving and improving PR performance. But after four years, public relations practitioners have not widely adopted the principles, leading PR research advocates to consider what must be done to take the profession forward on this important matter. Here are a few my observations and suggestions on why the Barcelona Principles have not achieved broad acceptance and what can be done now to improve adoption.

Observation: Like it or not, public relations is not acculturated to measurement.

Suggestion: The “measurati” must continue to reinforce the importance of measurement as a long-term goal rather than seeking instant results. Last year, GM, GE, MacDonald’s and Southwest Airlines publicly endorsed the standards. Now, measurement advocates, as well as the four companies themselves, must reinforce the wisdom of their decision and enlist many more organizations to follow suit (though wide acceptance won’t happen overnight).

Observation: The principles reject AVEs (Ad Value Equivalents) yet most PR pros cling to them as a simple inexpensive representation of PR success.

Suggestion: The profession must propagate simple inexpensive media measurement alternatives including, for example, cost-per-positive mention (out-of-pocket cost divided by the number of positive mentions); key message delivery; and target media penetration. The easiest measure recommended in the principles is to set and then beat management-authorized measurable objectives (whatever they are as long as they are meaningful, reasonable and measurable).

Observation: Outcome measurement requires significant resources to determine business effects. As such, practitioners choose to avoid them.

Suggestion: PR research experts must advocate accessible measures to connect PR results to outcomes and business results. Free tools for surveys and social media analytics offer attainable, if simpler, approaches to assess outcomes.

This sidebar was written by Mark Weiner, president of PRIME Research, Americas. He can be reached at weiner@prime-research.com.

CONTACT:

Giselle Bodie, giselle.bodie@salienceinsight.com; Molly McKenna Jandrain, Molly.McKenna@us.mcd.com; Frank Ovaitt, president@instituteforpr.org; Linda Rutherford, Linda.Rutherford@wnco.com.


This article originally appeared in the April 7, 2014 issue of PR News.

 

How to Measure PR According to the Barcelona Principles

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PR objectives

Your objectives are what you're trying to achieve to support your organization's strategic priorities.

To identify your PR objectives, consider the following questions:
· How can we cut through the noise and competition to get our messages to our audiences?
· How do we use PR as part of the brand value proposition and to influence the behavior of customers, clients, volunteers, members, supporters and employees?
· How does PR help take an "outside-in" rather than an "inside-out" perspective?
· How do we articulate what we deliver in a way that's compelling, memorable and will influence behavior?
· How do we use PR to build relationships with all of our audiences?
· What does it take to engage with customers, clients, volunteers, supporters and brand partners more deeply, turn them into brand ambassadors and engage with them more effectively in the future?

PR objectives should cover the following:
· Increasing awareness (quantified prompted/unprompted awareness) of the organization's aims amongst all primary and secondary audiences—including employees and brand partners.
· Increasing awareness of specific deliverables with respect to the company's strategic objectives. (You also need to quantify these.)
· Influencing the direction of proposed legislative controls on the organization's ability to achieve its objectives.
· Managing any potential negative media coverage that could affect the reputation of the company.

Inputs
Inputs are, for example, background information and research. An analysis of current company perceptions could inform the planning of any PR campaign. Some of this information could provide benchmarks you can measure against later. For example:
· The PR brief (information on organization or sector).
· Desk research and original research (to inform the content of PR materials).
· Pre-testing (messages and materials understood).

Outputs
Outputs are the messages the organization sends out. They're a quantified measure that can analyze the degree of exposure and audience reach, but can't explain to what extent you've influenced people's opinions or behavior.

PR agencies build many PR plans around outputs. However, this isn't the complete picture and doesn't allow PR professionals to demonstrate the positive effect their work can have.
For example:
· News releases, background briefs, case studies and photographs you've issued, and coverage you monitored and evaluated.
· A website launch and the traffic analysis you compiled.
· A PR event you staged and the number of attendees.
· A research survey you conducted.
· The extent to which customers receive your messages.
· An analysis of the media coverage you achieved.
· Online tracking of comments and feedback with customers and clients.

Outcomes
This is perhaps the most important element of any PR program—and the toughest to satisfy. Measuring outcomes is about understanding the degree to which PR has changed people's awareness, opinion and behavior. For example:
· Was there a tangible incremental increase in sales?
· Did focus groups confirm a shift in behavior, rather than just purchase intention?
· Were there more brand advocates in this quarter compared to the previous quarter?
Outcome is the strongest basis for calculating PR's return on investment. It's also a valuable source of information that you can feed back into the research, planning and measurement process for next time.

Ardi Kolah is author of "High Impact Marketing That Gets Results," published by Kogan Page. A version of this article originally appeared on the Vocus blog.

 

Four Years Later, Little Traction for Barcelona Principles

 

By PR News| Posted: 4/7/2014

 

The Barcelona Principles, the declaration of standards and practices to guide the measurement and evaluation of public relations, is about to mark its fourth anniversary.


But don’t expect too much celebrating. Nearly four years after being introduced, the principles serve as a blueprint for PR professionals and communicators looking to legitimize their measurement efforts. And yet, not much has happened in terms of widespread adoption. It’s been a long, hard slog.

Truth is, there’s still a lot of work to be done in educating communicators about the principles and in convincing brands and organizations to adopt new standards stemming from the document.

“We needed a few years for everyone to wake up to the fact that it would be helpful if all of us spoke the same language,” said Linda Rutherford, VP of communications and outreach at Southwest Airlines. “We are now heading in that direction.”

Southwest Airlines, General Electric Co., General Motors Corp. and McDonald’s last October adopted the first round of standards proposed by the Coalition for Public Relations Research Standards, which was formed in 2012.

 

 

The coalition’s participating organizations are a veritable alphabet soup of PR: the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC), the Institute for Public Relations (IPR), the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management, the Council of Public Relations Firms and The Conclave, a groups of social media specialists.

 

The first set of adopted standards covers traditional media measurement, digital and social media measurement, communications lifecycle (awareness, knowledge, intent, preference, and advocacy) and return on investment. (For details on the standards, go to www.instituteforpr.org.)

 

For the last several months, the “core four” brands have been working with their in-house measurement executives and vendors on how to put the initial standards to use.

 

“We’re applying the interim standards and trying them on for size,” Rutherford said. “It’ll be a game changer if we’re all speaking the same language, showing how we define success and how we measure it.”

 

SPREAD THE MESSAGE

 

But there’s a growing sentiment that the PR practice needs to do a much better job of educating communicators (of all stripes) about the Barcelona Principles as well as the initial set of standards.

 

A recent survey by PR News found that 66% of PR professionals are not familiar with the Barcelona Principles. The survey drew 145 responses.

 

“We need improvement on the awareness of the standards,” said Frank Ovaitt, president-CEO of the IPR. “We need to get out there and promote more standards in PR measurement, which is not an easy story to tell. We’re winning the war even if some battles will require more firepower.”

 

Giselle Bodie, CEO of the measurement company Salience Insight, added: “We have clear evidence that PR measurement is growing and in good health. However while it is pleasing for the industry that, slowly but surely, it is establishing a foothold in the wider PR and marketing consciousness, we are still a ‘work in progress.’”

 

One test will be later this year, when the coalition is hoping to achieve widespread adoption of the initial measurement standards.

 

Rutherford stressed that it will be a challenge to get measurement vendors on board, many of which have a vested interest in maintaining their own measurement tools.

 

“We need to foster competition on the [communications] insights, not on the black boxes,” she said. “The pressure needs to come from the client.”

 

PR Measurement standards will evolve, of course, to conform to macro changes in the marketplace. However, regardless of the nuts-and bolts, communicators need to put the concept of measurement at the forefront of all their activities, said Molly McKenna Jandrain, director of PR at McDonald’s (USA).

 

“The big difference is we used to measure the results in terms of outputs,” she said. “Now, we’re using measurement to inform strategy and allow us to measure outputs as they relate to business outcomes.”

 

Asked about the low visibility of the Barcelona Principles, McKenna Jandrain said: “It shows we have more work to do. If we want to elevate the PR profession, we have to take the standards seriously.”

 

How to stay current on social media (in just 30 minutes a day) cont'd

The point is to organize your blog reading system. I organize my blogs by geography, discipline, clients’ industry blogs, and other miscellaneous categories (fun, business blogs, etc.). With Feedly, I can scan headlines in about 15 minutes a day (I give myself a hard stop). I look for posts relevant to clients and interesting to me. I bookmark the ones that meet those criteria, maybe share them on Twitter or Facebook, and move on.

Blog screen shot

Strategy No. 2: Scan and save

This is where a social bookmarking tool called Diigo does some serious heavy lifting for me. I use Diigo to not only archive posts (by tags/topics), but also to share them using the handy Diigo bookmarklet (see below).

Scan and Save image

My Diigo archive is a goldmine of articles and blog posts I’ve saved over the last five to years. I use these articles and posts in presentations, client decks, blog posts, and for reference in client meetings. It’s invaluable information, and it’s at my fingertips because of this “scan and save” process I’ve developed (not all that groundbreaking, keep in mind).

Other folks use tools like Instapaper and Delicious, which work fine. Everyone has tools they prefer. The point is to develop a process where you can scan and save a number of posts and articles on the Web quickly and efficiently.

Strategy No. 3: Maximize downtime

You know that time you waste each day standing in line for coffee, bus commuting on the bus or train, or (gulp) using the bathroom? You need to start using that time to your advantage. Use tools such as Flipboard, Reeder (iPhone app), and Cadmus (see below) to stay abreast of industry trends and business news. You have to maximize your downtime.

Cadmus image

Strategy No. 4: Make Twitter lists your new BFF

A colleague and I lamented this point a couple months ago: Why don’t more people take advantage of Twitter lists? They give you a great way to make Twitter smaller. Consider the opportunities, such as lists to follow industry thought leaders or bloggers you want to get to know better. You can even create private Twitter lists to follow competitors, industry influencers, and other folks you don’t want your competitors or others seeing.

What’s more, you can steal other people’s Twitter lists for you own. Why do all the work when someone else may have already done it. For example, I follow a list Lee Odden created called “MinneTweeple.” It’s a great list of interactive marketers and PR folks in the Twin Cities.

Use Twitter lists to your advantage to make Twitter smaller—and more manageable—on a daily basis.

Twitter feed screen shot

Strategy No. 5: Turn on the radio

I’m not talking about the radio, but podcasts instead. Again, consider your downtime. Specifically, think about the time you’re captive, where you have nothing to do but the task at hand. For me, it’s moving the lawn. I throw in the ear buds and spend 45 minutes mowing the lawn and listening to my favorite podcast (and thus, getting smarter about my craft).

My favorites are the long-running For Immediate Release, plus Marketing Over Coffee and Jay Baer’s new podcast Social Pros, in which he interviews front-line social media folks doing real work. Very useful.

Podcast image

Strategy No. 6: Keep tabs on news in your industry

There’s an easy way to do this. It’s called Google Alerts. Set them up for journalists, keywords, even competitors in your industry.

Recently, I discovered a new tool called Newsle (thanks Heather Whaling) that serves you up alerts (emails) each time one of your LinkedIn, Facebook, or email database contacts is featured in a news story. It might not seem like much, but this gives you a great way to keep tabs on journalists with whom you’re trying to develop relationships, not to mention colleagues in the industry, business partners, and other influencers.

Here’s an example of an email I received that contains a news story featuring a friend and local agency leader Blois Olson:

E-news image

Strategy No. 7: Read blogs/sources that curate content weekly

Here’s one thing I learned a while ago about curating content: If someone else is doing it better than you, steal from them. I shamelessly do this with my friend Heather Whaling’s blog, which curates the best posts from the previous week on her blog PRTini. Why reinvent the wheel? Heather already has all the spokes in place.

Don’t do all the work yourself. Seek out those sources that already exist and use that information to your advantage.

Blog image

Strategy No. 8: Curate your own content

Curating your own content can be just as powerful as reviewing others that have done it for you—especially when there are tools that can do the curating for you. One of them is Paper.li.

Many people use Paper.li to curate content and share it content on Twitter. I, however, use Paper.li to curate content and consume it myself. It does all the heavy lifting and serves me a daily/weekly digest of posts from people Paper.li thinks I find influential/interesting. See below for an example.

Curated content

Anything you’d add?

Visit the author’s blog, Communications Conversations, to see the full presentation.

Arik Hanson is principal of ACH Communications. 


David Armano: The future of digital media (cont'd) 

1. What is the future of digital media? What will we be talking about 12 months from now? 

At a macro trend level, digital keeps creeping into our lives. It's increasingly mobile and social. At a micro level, I believe we will be talking about things like "social entertainment" in the not so distant future. We've been seeing how social is becoming connected to how we watch TV for example. In fact, "buzz" on social networks generated via programs is essentially a more pure form of ratings. If a program isn't getting a lot of chatter which can be measured via social, it's likely not doing all that well. In fact, we might even have to look at the whole ratings system based upon the potential to measure social data. Nielsen should look out. On that note, it's not just television. Sports and live entertainment events are tied to social media and as people "watch"—they also participate. Social is not a spectator sport, and entertainment will finally reflect this. 

2. What trend do you watch more closely? The evolution of different tools or how people interact? 

Most definitely how people interact. Tools are indicators but the good ones are a reflection on how people behave. Not too long ago, people in general thought that "blogging" was for a select few highly opinionated people—but now we all have Facebook status updates which essentially lets everyone "blog". What happened in between blogging and Facebook? Lots of people started doing things like Tweeting. Not just bloggers. Facebook understood this behavior and based on what people were doing—introduced the status update. But the core insight was this: people (not just bloggers) wanted to share. They were ready. Understanding how people interact now and taking educated guesses as to how they will behave in the future is the key to building any platform or tool. 

3a. Is there a specific tool we should pay attention to more? Why? 

Not sure I would classify these as tools—but there are two I would look out for. A social network called Path limits your friend count to no more than 150 connections. It's gaining momentum partially as the result of "social overload" from large networks where our friends have begun to over promote themselves. It's adding some intimacy back into social networking and it combines an exceptional mobile interface which does neat things like including song recognition software so you can share what you are listening to. Another social platform called "Pair" is also mobile centric, but limits interactions between you and only one other person. In an overly connected world, both these platforms act as an oasis or refuge for highly active digital types who crave connectivity but value quality and intimacy. 

3b. How will our interactions on social media change/evolve?  

As previously mentioned, we'll seek more signal and less noise. We will learn to filter and everyone will do it differently. Not unlike how we learned to manage e-mail, dealing with spammers etc. we will use whatever tools and techniques it takes to manage social noise. For a high end user like myself, it could be a Path or Pair, and for a more average user, it could be using mute features or functionality which selectively limits updates from connections. In short, we will develop the critical skills needed to navigate our newly hyper connected worlds.  

4. We keep adding social channels that we check, update.  Will it eventually condense or continue to grow larger? 

Depends. Some might continue to add while others consolidate. We will spend time where we see value. To some degree, social platforms are like nightclubs: some get really hot while others fade away and eventually close up shop. We're all "ADD" now to some degree and much in the same way advertising convinced us to buy things which would make our lives better, it is our social connections who use peer pressure to get us to join (or try) a new network. Logically, this seems unsustainable—but it's worth noting that human beings are far from predictable. 

5. What is the next big thing, biggest upcoming shift in digital media? 

I think Facebook's "reach generator" self service advertising model will be a game changer. I truly believe that companies will shift their advertising dollars over to Facebook over time due to how targeted ads will become. Also, Facebook is increasingly blurring the line between what was traditionally known as "paid" and "earned" media as it allows companies to promote select posts. And If the targeting data isn't great now—just wait because it will probably get better as the Facebook empire grows. Companies will still only be able to support so much budget when it comes to advertising and I think more if it is going to go through Facebook and the companies who work as part of their ecosystem. 

6. What role does broadcast media play in effective social media strategy? Will that change? 

Broadcast is still significant, but increasingly less so. If we are all spending more time on mobile and computer screens—then how much do we have left for broadcast media? I've seen studies show that as people watch TV for example, they are using it as background noise while they text, e-mail and tweet away via their mobile devices. The broadcast industry like any media needs to understand this behavior and make every communication and integration "digital friendly". One concrete way to do this is to make content "searchable & shareable". These are the two digital behaviors we see as driving digital media specifically—people share the things they like and search for the information they want. Expect these behaviors to define media consumption (and participation) in the future. 

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. 


The big PR study: 14 takeaways for the PR professional (cont'd)

By Michael Sebastian, PR Daily 

“As expected, social media monitoring and participation have significantly increased and can now be considered a mainstream responsibility of [PR and communications],” the study noted.

Among respondents, 30 percent are from public companies and 25 percent are from private companies. The remaining participants are from nonprofits (21 percent), military/government organizations (17 percent), and the "other" category (7 percent).

You can download and read the full study here.

Here are 14 takeaways from the report (when indicated, the results are unique to corporations):

PR budgets to (mostly) hold steady in 2012. Although PR/communications budgets increased modestly from 2009 to 2011, more than 50 percent of respondents expect them to remain steady in 2012. Roughly 25 percent expect an increase.

Social media as a “core responsibility” is on the rise. When asked about their chief responsibilities, respondents said corporate communications remains No. 1, with 88 percent indicating the task takes up more than 50 percent of their time. That’s followed by executive communication, internal communication, crisis management, and social media management, and social media participation. The social media categories represent 70 percent and 66 percent of the respondents' time, respectively—a significant bump since 2009.

Marketing/product PR takes a hit. Curiously, the category of marketing/product PR took the biggest dip from 2009 to 2011, with 50 percent indicating it’s a core responsibility, down from 61 percent. Among corporations, this category also saw an 11 percent decline in money allocated to its budget.

More dollars flowing to social. In terms of budgets at corporations, social media monitoring and participation saw the biggest boost in dollars allocated from 2009 to 2011, followed by SEO and internal communications.

More dollars flowing to measurements. Money allocated to measurement and evaluation is up 5 percent, increasing to 9 percent in 2011. Here are the top 10 tools for measurement:

Top 10 Measurement Tools graphic

Measurement is on the rise. According to the study: “Growth is concentrated in more sophisticated, objective, quantitative techniques that are likely to provide strategic insight to guide campaigns and evaluate campaign outcomes."

How you use it is key. Companies that measured outcomes—such as stakeholder opinions, bottom line, etc.—are more likely to be successful than those measuring outputs, such as advertising value equivalencies, clips, impressions, etc.

More money, more problems. The study also noted that with more money means greater responsibilities. Respondents indicated they’re accepting more tasks.

“Social networking sites” ranks as the top digital tool. Here are the top 10 digital tools, according to respondents from corporations:

Top 10 Digital/Social Tools graphic

Interest in Facebook and Twitter up, Wikis down. No surprise, the use of Twitter, Facebook and blogs was on the rise since from 2009 to 2011. Wikis and virtual worlds (such as Second Life) were on the decline. Twitter, Facebook, and SEO are most frequently used by public companies:

Percentage of frequent usage graphic

 

PR owns social media. Half of respondents from corporations indicated PR/communications controls social media, following by marketing, customer service and information systems. PR/communications also has the most strategic control of social media, according to the survey respondents.

Money for agencies declining. The amount of money corporations are allocating for agencies has dropped since 2009, although the study indicates that the fall might be exaggerated because of a change in reporting. The study further noted: “As corporate communication/PR budgets have increased, the decline of actual agency budgets was modest.”

Nearly all large-companies work with agencies. Among large public companies, the use of agencies “remains almost universal” with 95 percent indicating they employ them. The number of agencies retained by corporations continues to increase, the study noted. Here are the top reasons companies retain agencies:

Agency Relationships graphic

 

Access to C-suite increases worth of PR. As expected, the PR departments with access to the C-suite saw their recommendations taken more seriously, along with a greater role in strategic planning and a more significant contribution to their companies’ bottom lines. Among corporations, 60 percent of respondents said they strongly agreed with the statement: PR/communications attends senior-level strategic planning meetings. Eleven percent strongly disagreed and 29 percent neither agreed nor disagreed. Moreover, 69.2 percent believe their recommendations are taken seriously. A mere 4.4 percent said they don’t.
You can download and read the full report here.
The Annenberg school partnered with The Arthur W. Page Society, the Institute for Public Relations, the International Association of Business Communicators, and the Public Relations Society of America for the study. 


Gap’s social media policy a guide for other companies

By Gil Rudawsky | Posted: March 15, 2012


Gap Inc., struggling to make its brands stand out in today’s crowded marketplace, is turning its workforce loose on social media in an attempt to recreate some of the buzz for which it was known in the ’80s and ’90s.

The clothier—which operates the Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, and Athleta chains—gives each of its 134,000 employees a no-nonsense social media policy, and nowhere does it recommend to “just cinch it.” The policy is broken down into three categories, “Keep in mind,” “How to be the best,” and “Don’t even think about it.”

The guidelines were presented last week by Gap Inc.'s social media team as part of a crisis communication conference, hosted by U.K.-based Ethical Corp. The guidelines are not posted for the public, but highlights were taken directly from the handy, iPhone-size, five-fold brochure given to each employee. The brochure is titled: "OMG you will never guess what happened at work today!!”
 
Gap social media guide

The policy should serve as a guide on how a large, multinational corporation can strip away the legalese and provide a real-world manual on social media that keeps the company’s best interests in mind.

Even the warnings are conversational:

“These guidelines are important—because if you don’t follow them a few things could happen: your posts can get deleted, we could lose customers and investors, we could get in trouble, or, worst of all, you could even lose your job … So do the right thing, stick to the guidelines.”

Some highlights:

Keep in mind…

There’s really no such thing as “delete” on the Internet, so please—think before you post.

Some subjects can invite a flame war. Be careful discussing things where emotions run high (e.g. politics and religion) and show respect for others’ opinions.

It’s a small world and we’re a global company. Remember that what you say can be seen by customers and employees all over the world and something you say in one country might be inaccurate or offensive in another.

Respect other people’s stuff. Just because something’s online doesn’t mean it’s OK to copy it.

Your job comes first. Unless you are an authorized Social Media Manager, don’t let social media affect your job performance.

How to be the best …

Play nice. Be respectful and considerate, no trolling, troll baiting, or flaming anybody, even our competitors.

Be yourself. Be the first to out that you are a Gap Inc. employee – and make it clear that you are not a company spokesperson.

If you #!%#@# up? Correct it immediately and be clear about what you’ve done to fix it. Contact the social media team if it’s a real doozy.
Add value. Make sure your posts really add to the conversation. If it promotes Gap Inc.’s goals and values, supports our customers, improves or helps us sell products, or helps us do our jobs better, then you are adding value.

Don’t even think about it…

Talking about financial information, sales trends, strategies, forecasts, legal issues, future promotional activities.

Giving out personal information about customers or employees.

Posting confidential or non-public information.

Responding to an offensive or negative post by a customer. There’s no winner in that game.

As you can see, Gap Inc. has figured out a social media policy doesn't have to come from the legal department, and that a straightforward, conversational tone probably makes the greatest impact with employees. It covers everything, but it doesn't beat you over the head.

Gil Rudawsky is a former reporter and editor with 20 years of communications experience. He heads up the crisis communication/issues management practice at GroundFloor Media in Denver. Read his blog or contact him at grudawsky@groundfloormedia.com.

 

Is Your Press Release Twitter Ready? 

By Tracy Jones

If you've ever played Chinese whispers, you know how easy it is for a simple message to lose its meaning.

Sending out a media release is like playing this childhood game. Very few journalists will ever replay it the way you want and the essential message can be lost as people reword and rework your beautifully crafted prose into just a few short sentences.

That's just the name of the game in public relations, but the advent of social media has made the job even harder. Thousands of citizen journalists are now reinterpreting your media release into less than 140 characters.

A recent example was an announcement from the Northern Territory Government in Australia during Cyclone Carlos allowing non-essential public servants with child-caring responsibilities to take personal leave if they could not get alternate care arrangements for their children. Employees should check with their supervisor if they were not sure if they were regarded as "essential".

The tweets from those spreading the word looked something like this:

Non-essential public servants urged to stay at home due to #TCcarlos

The result? Hundreds of public servants with and without children stayed at home without ever contacting their supervisor.

It's hardly the fault of the multitudes who retweeted this message, but it is a great example of how a message can lose its full meaning very quickly.

At Creative Territory, we've seen hundreds of original media releases, stories and blogs get mangled as well-meaning tweeters try to make sense of what the writer was trying to say and rebroadcast it in a tiny package.

So what can PR professionals do to make it easier for others to pass their message on?

We've recently created the "Twittercue"- the practice of adding a set of words to the bottom of media releases that enable tweeters to pass on your message without distorting the meaning.

So if I was writing a media release for the situation above, I would add the following to the bottom of the release:

Twittercue: NTG non-essent staff who need 2 care 4 kids may take prsnl leave. Chck with supervisor #TCcarlos http://tiny.cc/3pdeaz

Some tips for writing a great Twittercue:

Forget the flowery language - concentrate on the facts
Use an appropriate hashtag
Include a url pointing to the full copy of the media release
Keep it to 120 characters in total to allow for unedited retweeting
Don't be afraid to use abbreviations - speak the language of your Tweeps.

Twittercue for this release: Is your media release Twitter ready? http://tiny.cc/twittercue #PR #SM #twitter