Now Hear This, Mom! Public Relations Makes Perfectly Good Sense.

Posted on March 13, 2014. Filed under: Family Life, Public Relations, Public Relations Commentary | Tags: , , , |

Public relations was hard enough to define in lay terms  in the analog age. Imagine trying to describe to your mother what you did in PR back in the day when the word processor was a marvel of technical wizardry, laptop computers weighed umpteen pounds, and daily newspapers still had multi-page classified sections thick with want ads.

“I help companies get their messages out through the news media, Mom,” you might have said. That in lieu of going into a lengthy explanation about the need to identify key publics, slice and dice the demographic aspects of your target markets, develop a media platform by which to tell your story, align your efforts with overall corporate marketing and business strategies, and blah blah blah. Mom, meanwhile, has turned the page and is wondering whether she remembered to get  stamps yesterday so she can some household bills into the mail today.

Visuals Overcome Cultural Barriers

So you might try using pictures. We had a client, back in the good old days of actual cut-and-paste layout boards, that produced a children’s television show for PBS stations. The goal of the public relations campaign was to create national awareness for the new season of this show — a show which, by the way, earned several Daytime Emmys and was sponsored by one of the largest breakfast cereal companies in the world, one that features a noble beast of the jungle as a signature character. Anyway, we were charged with not only doing media relations but also station relations. So we storyboarded part of our presentation, including various poster concepts, newsletter concepts and some graphic slicks that could be dropped in as-is into print publications. Those visual materials were easily grasped by Mom, as they were by the client for that matter. Now Mom had some idea of what I did – promotional posters and colorful newsletters, of all things.

Fast forward to today. Now Mom, who’s relatively computer-averse, has an even harder time understanding what I — or most any PR-oriented individual — does. Besides getting people news and blogosphere coverage for all the many newsworthy and compelling stories that they have to tell, I have to talk about using social media channels such as Twitter and LinkedIn, blogs, brand journalism and Native advertising, and YouTube to “engage with key client audiences.”

Mom, meanwhile, is still sticking stamps on envelopes and using the U.S. Postal Service to pay her bills.

Back To The Marketplace

So I just say that I do a lot of copywriting for companies, come up with ideas to help them stand out in the marketplace and get their stories told in a lot of different venues — including the good old, but now quasi-analog media such as newspapers, television and radio — and give important people (such as customers and prospective customers) reasons to know about them, and like them well enough to do business with them.

If Mom wants to see pictures, all I have to do is get on the Internet and call up examples of my work.

Mom, of course, is computer-averse as mentioned earlier. She doesn’t like looking at stuff on computer screens. So there’s not much chance she’ll look at what I have to show online.

Mom, most likely, is dealing herself a hand of solitaire — one of her favorite pasttimes these days — while I finish up my spiel about what I do in my PR life. Being an analogist, Mom is playing with an actual deck of beat-up cards, Bicycle brand. I could tell her that I like to play solitaire to relax too — but now I play online. I wouldn’t even know how to deal a hand of solitaire these days. I’ve forgotten how. The computer does it for me. God help me if I ever get stranded on a deserted island with just a deck of cards for entertainment and no computer. I’d have to reinvent the whole damn world of solitaire all over again. Holy Hoyle!

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Social media: love is not enough for most businesses to live on

Posted on February 6, 2014. Filed under: Public Relations, Public relations practices, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , |

Strikes me that one of the hardest things for companies to do is to do social media properly from the inside of the company.

So natural to use the time/digital space to talk about the company and its wonderful culture, accomplishments, etc. But is that of real interest to the readers companies most want to attract?

Employees and their families, company “friendlies” – the “choir”  — naturally like to see that. If that’s the target audience, fine.

Detached observers, such as prospects, probably want to see something else – content that makes them think, entertains them, inspires them, informs them, hits them where they live.

Content such as journalists, and outsiders such as PR agencies and freelancers, produce.

It’s great to be loved by those who know you. Even better for businesses to be loved by strangers who may want to do business with you.

More on the subject here, from an MIT study: If You Like It They May Not Come.

I like to help people get the most for their marketing and PR money. If you think you could use some help making your social media strategies more effective, maybe we should talk. I’m almost a certified outsider, journalist, agency guy and freelancer all in one. I’m at Doug Hovelson or simply respond to this post.

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Social Media For Therapists

Posted on February 15, 2013. Filed under: Public Relations Commentary, Social Media | Tags: , , |

Interesting look at special challenges facing those in medical/therapy professions and their use of social media:

A Psychotherapist’s Guide to Facebook and Twitter: Why Clinicians Should Give a Tweet!.

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Add Questions For Viewers To Your YouTube Videos

Posted on September 26, 2012. Filed under: Public Relations | Tags: , , , , , |

Did you know that YouTube is beta-testing a way for you to quiz viewers as they watch your video? It’s happening now, and while it may not be the most elegant add-on it’s still plenty interesting, according to writer Megan O’Neill at See her post here at

Here’s the link to the YouTube beta site:

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My Soul To Be Social Mediaicized

Posted on February 7, 2012. Filed under: Public Relations, Social Media, Society | Tags: , , , , |

English: Joseph Stalin after 1943 in military ...

Image via Wikipedia

Get socialized!

It’s my new thing, a sort of accidental New Year’s resolution: know more about, and do more in, the social media world.

Reminds me of the ’60’s line, “My soul has been psychedelicized” by The Chambers Brothers.

Were I writing in the 1930s, you might take me for a convert to Leninism — if I’d been so bold as to confess to a longing to be socialized back then. They had a crude form of social media back then — think postcards, think telegrams, think street corner preachers and sidewalk barkers for the music halls and burlesque theaters — but they didn’t call it that.

Lenin doesn’t much figure into my thinking today, although it is intriguing to muse about what uses he and other lions of the Russian revolution might have found for social media technologies.  Nothing fun, that’s for sure. Apps for instantaneously snitching out your counter-revolutionary neighbor, hair stylist, mother. Streaming video from the show trials of fallen Bolshies. Stalin posting pictures of his bare-chested virile self on Twitter. That kind of thing.

The Social Leap!

My leap into socialization has to do with Facebook! LinkedIn! Twitter! Google+! Blogging! Flickr! Tumblr!

Need I go on?

I think not.

So what did I learn today, in my revolutionary journey through the social media jungle? (Not to be confused with the “urban jungle” again ca. the early years of the 20th century, see George Bernard Shaw or Nelson Algren).

Online Tellers, Beware

Wonderful and unsettling information was what I learned today.

Take “creativity,” for example. That’s generally a wonderful thing, especially for the artistically, marketing and Ponzi scheme inclined. But it’s not such a wonderful thing to cite as a skill or attribute on your LinkedIn profile, so I learned. Better to show your creativity in your profile, than to self-ascribe it. I think that makes sense, too. It’s the first thing you learn in Writing 101 – show the reader what you’re talking about. (Oh, the horror — a reader bored is a reader lost forevermore.) Being Creative On LinkedIn Won’t Do You Any Favours

Banish Those Banalities

So be creative in your use of social media, but don’t say you’re creative. Saying so makes it seem as if you are not so creative. And that’s not what you want. You want to cut a bold figure on the Internet. (To cut a figure, as in “he cut a fine figure,” a figure of speech encountered rarely today, where it would not have been out of place to say of Theodore Roosevelt or Babe Ruth, “there goes a fine figure of a man.” And if you ever saw Joe Stalin in the street, you would have most certainly said something to the effect of “there’s as fine a figure of a man as ever walked the Soviet earth.” If you said anything at all.  For to say ill of Joe would almost certainly have earned you rough carriage in a Black Maria to Lubyanka Prison, and denied all access to the Internet or a Tweeting machine.)

So, yes, be creative in all your online endeavors.

That’s what I learned today on the path to full 21st century cyber-socialization! And you?

[Editor’s Note: No Bolsheviks were abused in the writing of this post.]

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Shouting Fire In A Crowded Room

Posted on February 11, 2011. Filed under: Digital Dalliances, Public Relations, Public Relations Commentary, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , |

Truman Capote, as photographed by Roger Higgin...

Truman Capote, photographed by Roger Higgins

Never shout “fire” in a crowded room – unless there actually is a fire, of course.

That’s an axiom we’ve all grown up with, and yet, it seems to be pretty much useless as an admonition in a digital world driven by fire-shouters.

Just today, as every online day, I’ve seen a Tweet or two alluding to some set of “essential” things I need to know about this, that and the other thing. All of which are aimed at making me feel as if I’m an inadequate marketer unless I quick grab hold of the mouse and click on over to the poster’s page of invaluable, nay business- and reputation-saving, tips. It’s all about garnering attention, certainly, and I can understand that – in the battle for share of the digital marketing mind, all is fair.

But I as a client, assuming I were a client, would not be much in a mood for getting much work done if I spent the livelong day chasing down every hot new lead purporting to clue me in on what’s missing in my marketing strategies.

The Chattering Seas…

Since I am both client and client-seeker, in my business life mind you, I am sorry to say that on certain days it just seems as if I’m adrift in a sea of mind-addling marketing teases. That’s the time I spend online, exposed to the Twitter medium, for example – a medium that I abuse, no question about it, and much to my chagrin. Because when you get right down to it, there is a lot of essentially non-essential information floating about hither and thither under the guise of essentiality.

Which is not to say it’s not good information. People dispense with an abundance of good information all the time via the social media platforms. But separating out what’s essential versus what’s only good, therein lies a challenge of epic proportions. But that’s only half the challenge, and indeed the lesser half as it stands. The better half of the challenge, the more Herculean aspect, is to know how to rein in one’s curiosity, it seems to me.

What Would Pliny Say?

Because the Internet is a world of wonders for those with a yen for the new. There’s always something new out of the Internet, to piggyback off the statement that Pliny the Elder made re: Africa some years back. The trick, it seems, for me, and perhaps a few others, is to try and figure out how to enjoy and even benefit from this world of endless inspiration, entertainment and edification without going crazy. I’m reminded of the comment once made about Truman Capote, how he in his years after writing In Cold Blood mostly abandoned the writing craft and became a magazine addict. Better than an opium addict chez Coleridge, perhaps, but still not highly conducive to the pursuit of personal productivity.

So there you have it. Resolved, here and now, to be a better, more conscientious consumer of digital goods.

How to do it? Perhaps I’ll write on that later on. Maybe even put together a series of essential tip sheets on how to make the most of your Internet experience.

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Links Noted: PR, Social Media And More

Posted on November 25, 2010. Filed under: Public Relations | Tags: , , |

Social media and public relations, sometimes an uneasy alliance. A brave new world for journalists. Nonprofits slow to see the payoff in social networks, and a church where story-telling is used to share the gospel online.

Stop dumping social media on your PR | The Wallblog/UK
The journalist of the future: 7 – 0r 8 – archetypes | Media Standards Trust/UK
Nonprofits still see the potential in social networks — but so far aren’t seeing many results | The San Francisco Business Times
Share Your Story | Northland Church

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Industrial Giants Demonstrate Snappy New Media Touches

Posted on January 26, 2010. Filed under: Public Relations | Tags: , , , , , , |

It’s instructive to see how established industrial companies are adapting their public relations and marketing communications strategies to capitalize on social media opportunities. Here are a couple of companies whose work bears watching.

Tool Company Snap-On Grabs Hold Of New Marketing Tools

• Well-tooled marketing from Snap-On Inc on Twitter (@snap-oninc>): Just as rust never sleeps, Snap-On isn’t snoozing while the marketing world marches on. The company uses Twitter to drive traffic to other corporate staging areas on the Internet, such as Youtube.

Very adroitly, Snap-On places long-form marketing videos on the venerable Youtube site, to inform, educate, entertain and sell complex new products such as the Snap-On Video Inspector Scopes, BK6000 and BK5500. (Mission Possible: See What Others Can’t)

These products let the professional mechanic peer inside the heretofore virtually impenetrable depths of automotive mechanical systems with ease – a truly great tool that seems to have captured the attention of the mechanically minded on both sides of the Pond, based on the comments posted beneath the video.

Numerous other Snap-On videos are listed in the right-hand sidebar for further product exploration. The video itself is very well-done, with good production values and an interesting story line. See it at Snap-On Youtube video.

The new product machine at Snap-On gets a full workout on the web, as evidenced by the Twitter references to the company’s new product catalog pages for information on more mundane new tools such as the Snap-On 1 1/2” drive SAE shallow 6 point socket (Your Price $236.00). See it at 6 Point Marvel

Snap-On has sure-handedly gotten a grip on the Twitter and Youtube marketing levers, and to good effect. More than 600 people had viewed the Scopes video as of January 26, a goodly number for a product that is decidedly technical and aimed at a fairly narrow audience of automotive service specialists and, assuredly, automotive enthusiasts with healthy discretionary spending power.

3M Displays Its New Marketing Game

3M goes high-touch: Judging by the flurry of Twitter posts in early January, 3M apparently came out swinging on behalf of its new 22” multitouch display, a product from the 3M Touch Systems business unit (@3MTouchSystems). The company made a big splash, earning “coolest gadget” kudos from CNN Money – a fact that was appropriately posted to Twitter.

3M 22" Multitouch Display

3M 22 inch Multitouch Display Was On Display At 2010 CES

A link from Twitter, announcing the unveiling of the multitouch display at CES, brings the wandering linkster to the main corporate web page for the display. It’s an attractively designed, well-organized page with the news about the company’s big breakthrough in multitouch display screens prominently featured (here it is) 3M Multitouch Display.

Meanwhile, back at the old CES ranch in Vegas, @3MJane, aka Jane Kovacs, a 3M PR executive, fired off a few timely Tweets intended to draw CES visitors to the company’s show booth.

Here’s an example of another well-known, well-established company that’s seizing the initiative and effectively blending new media with old PR tactics such as the trusty old in-depth news release to get the word out about exciting new products. It’s good to see, and judging from what I’ve seen so far, 3M is just beginning to tap its potential for reaching out through the multi-verse.

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