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Pinterest for Business Development

9 Feb

When I joined Pinterest awhile back I never knew I’d be reading it’s name in headlines every other day. It seems that it’s the “popular” thing to be talking about.

I use my Pinterest account to stalk my love of fashion and photography. But as I’ve discovered recently the business world is jumping on and engaging too.

Every blog seems to be chatting about how Pinterest is becoming the next big thing in social media for business. PR professionals are discussing Pinterest as a trend and how it can be helpful in promoting your business. Everyone is talking about it — even those who think it’s a waste of time.

Personally I feel that it is somewhat of a genius idea. Most people are drawn to visual pleasing things — so why not make a site that allows you to bookmark webpages in the most visually appealing way. As a long time user of Delicious I can tell you right now that I’d rather click on a link with a gorgeous description then a few words jumbled together. Of course it can’t be used to bookmark all webpages — I mean I guess it could — but it can mostly be used to trace back to a product or idea you like, or want to use in the future. It’s like a giant creative brainstorming device.

I’ve decided with all this chat about how awesome Pinterest is for businesses that I’m going to test it out for a client of mine — free of charge. The business is a retail surf and skate shop, and I thought it would be the perfect client to try it out with. The business is more small scale but I figure there will be no harm in testing out some of the business development strategies. Stay tuned for how it turns out.

With that I leave you with some of my favorite Pinterest business strategy ideas.

Share Your Products

  • It makes sense, and it is the most obvious strategy. What a great way to share your products with users? Group your pins in product categories. You can create a virtual product catalog of interest for consumers.

Drive Web Traffic

  • It’s driving buyers to websites. According to Entrepreneur, “In the last six months, the retail deal site ideeli.com has seen a 446 percent increase in web traffic from Pinterest and sales resulting from those visits have increased five-fold.

Better Understand the Larger Retail Landscape

  • Pay attention to who is pinning what, and from who. What products of yours are being re-pinned, and what isn’t.

Engage With Users

  • As any social network does it gives you the opportunity to engage with other users to get more ideas, and helpful feedback on how to improve and give consumers what they want. Share other companies products, or comment on other users posts you feel signify what your business is about. Encourage customer interaction, and try following users back.

The Fight Against Destructive Spin

17 Mar

This is a paper I wrote last term concerning the difficulty it is to decipher public relations and propaganda today for a Social Media course. The piece of news I used about Kenneth Cole was breaking the day I wrote this paper. Because information is hitting us at all different directions with the help of social media, I used a trending topic from that particular day to make a point of how one day news is relevant, and the next it’s not.

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The Fight Against Destructive Spin

When speaking with most individuals I’ve gained an understanding that most people class public relations and propaganda in the same category, but is this really the case? In a way both have the same end goal to promote a certain idea or understanding, but one usually stands for truth and the other deception. In today’s world there is more information being thrown at you via social media than most would know what to do with; creating an abundance of knowledge from different views and angles. Unfortunately it makes it more difficult to determine what is false from what is real. By looking at the differences between public relations and propaganda today can you really tell the difference between them? If so, how?

Propaganda can be dated back to 1622 when the pope established a missionary organization called Congregatio de Propaganda Fide (Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith), which was also the source of the name (Encyclopedia-Britannica). According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary propaganda is “the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person.” The definition is simple and if read quickly enough you may think it sounds similar to what public relations stands for, which is “the business of inducing the public to have understanding for goodwill toward a person, firm, or institution (Merriam-Webster).”  Truthfully definitions of ideas such as these are vague and don’t fully represent what they stand for, but you have a sense.

Propaganda mostly is known to be used by government and political parties to distract the public from what is really behind the curtain, but today you see it being used on a daily basis; just sign onto Twitter and start reading. With the way social media spreads words like wildfire you are capable of spreading your propaganda, or spin, with a simple spark. Take for example a recent issue in the news today concerning designer Kenneth Cole, who owns three lines and a company that is reportedly worth over $1 billion (New York Magazine). Cole in an attempt to gain publicity for his new spring collection tweeted this, “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at http://bit.ly/KCairo – KC.” There was, of course, a social media backlash and an estimated 1500 negative retweets were sent an hour, and a @KennethColePR twitter spoof account was made (Tsotsis). Cole, only hours after the original tweet was sent, deleted it, and made an apology. Already the publicity he has gained from remarking on such a serious situation in humor, or in light, has done what he set out to do, right? Cole was looking for people to take notice of his spring collection and that is exactly what he got. Now is it in a positive light? Most would say no.

This isn’t the first time Cole has pulled off a stunt like this. Once he compared a woman’s choice in handbags to a woman’s right to choose an abortion (Tsotsis). His company survived and it continues to thrive. Who is to say that the tweet Cole made himself wasn’t propaganda to get attention to his new line. I would argue that he knew very well that the public would lash out at him for making such a crude comment regarding the recent events in Egypt. Should we consider this issue propaganda, or just bad PR?

As one blogger stated about the Kenneth Cole stunt, “anytime you have to issue an apology and interrupt your work of growing your business, that is bad PR. No matter how many people are talking about you (Dietrich).” Does propaganda then stand for bad PR? In my opinion yes. The blogger continues to point out reasons why, “people have a horrible perception of the PR industry,” and in her words it’s, “because of crap like this (Dietrich).” “Maybe it won’t hurt sales. Maybe some people will be grateful to be reminded of how much they love his shoes and clothes. Maybe it won’t bother people outside the social media bubble one bit. But maybe it will create boycotts. And maybe it will decrease sales. And that, folks, is bad PR (Dietrich).”

Similar propaganda ploys are being sent out on a daily basis with the help of social media, so it’s safe to say it has become difficult to determine the difference between good public relations and propaganda. But as shown in cases such as the famous Balloon boy incident people are willing to do a little investigating and dig down to reach the truth, and when the truth does come out everyone, and I mean everyone, will hear about it thanks to social media.

Not only are journalists helping to find answers to these questions but PR gurus are making a positive name for themselves by incorporating the concepts of engagement and relationship building to bring to light the truth. The PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) defines PR today as: “Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other (PRSA).” This definition sounds a bit different from what you may find in your dictionary, and that is because to weed out the propaganda and bad PR you must redefine PR, evolving the definition alongside public relations’ changing roles.

Bibliography

Dietrich, Gini. “Kenneth Cole Demonstrates How Not to Use Twitter | Spin Sucks.” Spin Sucks – Social Media Strategy and Social Media Consulting for Marketing and PR. 04 Feb. 2011. Web. 04 Feb. 2011. <http://www.spinsucks.com/social-media/kenneth-cole-demonstrates-how-not-to-use-twitter/>.

Tsotsis, Alexia. “@KennethCole Sets New Bar For Social Media Stupidity [Update: And Removes Tweet].” TechCrunch. 03 Feb. 2011. Web. 03 Feb. 2011. <http://techcrunch.com/2011/02/03/kenneth-cold/>.

“Kenneth Cole – Designer Fashion Label.” New York Magazine — NYC Guide to Restaurants, Fashion, Nightlife, Shopping, Politics, Movies. New York Media LCC, 2011. Web. 03 Feb. 2011. <http://nymag.com/fashion/fashionshows/designers/bios/kennethcole/>.

“Propaganda — Britannica Online Encyclopedia.” Encyclopedia – Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Web. 03 Feb. 2011. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/478875/propaganda>.

“Propaganda – Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary.” Dictionary and Thesaurus – Merriam-Webster Online. Web. 03 Feb. 2011. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/propaganda>.

“Public Relations Definition: PRSA Official Statement.” Public Relations Resources & Tools for Communications Professionals: PRSA. PRSA, 2010. Web. 03 Feb. 2011. <http://www.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/PublicRelationsDefined/>.

“Public Relations – Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary.”Dictionary and Thesaurus – Merriam-Webster Online. Web. 03 Feb. 2011. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/public relations?show=0&t=1296780196>.

Memorable & Creative Pitches

24 Feb

The other day I stumbled upon a blog post on Ragan’s PR Daily by New York Time tech columnist David Pogue about his favorite PR pitches. Click here to see the full post. I’m going to highlight a few of my favorite remarks of Pogue’s from the article and share both pitches below.

Pogue mentions how it’s clear when PR people believe in what they represent, and it’s clear when they don’t. I strongly feel that if you’re not representing a product, idea, or company that you truly believe in then what is the point of trying to promote it? If you want to be good at what you do in public relations start by representing something you’re passionate about, or at least have faith in. Otherwise how can you get your message across, and do so in a memorable way.

Both of his favorites are clever and address him directly on a personal level. The pitches aren’t flat or boring. Give the person who you’re pitching direct attention and you’ll be sure to gain their attention. His first example is from a company called CodeWeavers who were promoting their new program called CrossOver. They posted Pogue’s face on life size celebrity cutouts, cross dressed, and made a point on telling him how they were big fans of his. You have to see this video:

Not only did they make a video for Pogue but also four other writers. Personalizing each to all the writers.

The next pitch he mentions is by Nikon’s PR guy, Geoff Coalter. Pogue had written a review on the Canon S95 in the form of a love letter and to his surprise he received a response “from” the Nikon D80.

Dear David—

It has been far too long since our last encounter, and today I found out why. Imagine my horror to find your public proclamation of love for that floozy, the Canon S95, for the whole world to see. You called that little camera “something special?” Well, I remember when I was your one special camera, the one you could come to for anything. Photographing a soccer game? Done. Days at the beach? Easy squeezy. Amazing landscape shots on vacation? You betcha.

Is it because I’m so much bigger than the S95? After our years together, I would think you would accept me for what I am: a highly capable, semi-pro SLR that empowered you to take great pictures. Depth of field, fast burst rate, sharp focus, accurate colors—these are all things only a camera like me can give you.

Let’s not forget all the fun times we had with my friend NIKKOR, who was always willing to go to great telephoto focal lengths to please you. And sometimes our friend Speedlight joined the party to brighten the mood. You talk about physics? I’ll talk about chemistry. You, me, and your 18-200mm VR lens are a perfect match.

But I don’t want to be spiteful. I only want what’s best for you, and I think you are a great match for my cousin, the P7000. She is smaller and more powerful than most cameras, and leads the way for a segment of cameras that is quickly gaining in popularity, the high-end compact. She’s got a cute retro style that everyone loves, and full manual analog controls.

From Your First photographic Love,

Your Loyal Nikon D80

It’s a brilliant pitch. The pitch is personalized and one of a kind. The time and thought taken to address Pogue definitely won him the review.

To end Pogue’s post he mentions that not all great pitches are sure to win media coverage – but you better believe that if you make a great pitch and it doesn’t work out one particular time, they will remember, and next time you have a pitch they will be listening. It pays to take the time to be creative sometimes.