Using social media to drive promotions and customer service

February 8, 2010


I really think more businesses are starting to ‘get’ the potential of social media and the way in which some businesses are using it is very impressive and clever.

For instance, we can all agree that the @BigPondTeam has really done some great things leveraging Twitter. Twitter is the perfect channel for having a whinge and I know from personal experience how some people love to whinge about Telstra and BigPond (I used to work at a Telstra Shop many moons ago). Then all of a sudden this big corporation replies to your frustrated tweet (and pretty quickly, I’ll add), asking if they can help. What? Is this the same company where people complain about being on hold for what seems like hours at a time?

The biggest surprise was the goodwill it generated quickly among Twitter and the trend of users going directly to the BigPond or Telstra Twitter profiles with problems instead of calling up or visiting a Telstra Shop.

Similarly, @StarlightCinemas decided to give away some free tickets to help promote their outdoor cinemas using Twitter. Not only does this work online, as winners are likely to engage and report via various profiles if they won but they are also likely to go offline and tell friends, family and colleagues they won, who will then ask them how it went. Basically driving word-of-mouth on and offline – so simple and yet so effective. I would love to know if their social media activity coincided with an increase in numbers for this year’s season.

Read the rest of this entry »


What I didn’t learn at university about PR

December 18, 2009


School’s out for 2009 and it got me thinking about my own education. I’ve only been in the PR business for about two years and while sometimes I would love that to mean I am in my early 20s, that is not the case.

I returned to study when I was 25 when I decided a career in retail wasn’t going to cut it and threw myself into a communications degree at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Firstly I want to clear up that the uni I went to was great. Small class numbers, good lecturers, good facilities and plenty of opportunities. So this post isn’t commenting about how inadequate my uni was.

Rather, it’s about how much I didn’t learn at uni about the world of PR and that in most cases, experience is the best teacher.

I definitely can think of a few subjects that should be added to every PR curriculum, like: 

  • How not to piss off a journalist
  • Online, online, online. There are too many subjects to list regarding online but mainly how to prevent an online faux pas and the subsequent bagging on Mumbrella.
  • The importance of decent high resolution images and what high res actually means
  • Client relationships – how to get them and keep them happy
  • How to work with marketers from a PR perspective
  • Business deals, the best ones are made over lunch
  • How to explain PR when you’re at a party and people just don’t seem to understand what it is that you do.

 I’m sure you can help me suggest a few more.


Worst website copy crimes

October 8, 2009


As Kim mentioned in her latest blog, we’ve been doing quite a few website reviews of late, which means looking and researching many, many websites.

Most people tend to underestimate the power of good wording on a website, for most it’s about making it visually appealing and maybe having some cool effects.   

So I thought I’d put together a bit of a list of the most common website copy crimes I come across.


Feel free to suggest and discuss others that make your list.

1.   What do you actually do?

It’s surprising how many websites I come across where it takes me at least 30 seconds to figure out what it is they do. I think some businesses think that because they know what it is they do, they assume so does everyone else.

I figure you have 20 seconds at the most to communicate to a visitor what your site is all about and if you haven’t got them by then, they will be on to your competitor’s site.

For service orientated sites, the priority is not only telling visitors what you do but also giving them an idea what they will get out of it.

The trick in doing this comes from why clients use your service or what they are looking for.

For example, say you’re a business consultant that offers business planning advice, you might say on your home page,

          “Business consulting expert offering business planning services”

 But it would be better to say,

           “Helping you develop and implement business plans that work”

 If you are someone wanting a business plan, isn’t that what you want, someone to help you put together one that works?

Read the rest of this entry »

PR’s role in social media interaction

September 3, 2009


When it comes to social media strategy and implementation there is always the question, well whose responsibility is it? Marketing, communications, PR, the CEO or maybe the office junior?

I won’t attempt to explore this question because I think there can be many answers. What I’m more interested in is PR’s role in social media interaction. We see many sales-hungry businesses look at online channels like Twitter as another space for their ‘hard sell’ messages, posting things like, “Get more bang for your buck! Sign up today!”

Just like we do when explaining how to engage all media forms, print, broadcast, radio and online, our role is to educate. It’s about the right message for the right medium to reach to right people. Not a matter of loading up the marketing gun with sales messages and blindly shooting it hoping that someone will get hit and buy your product.

Our role isn’t necessarily to pose as our clients in these channels but to help them utilise social media in a way that will achieve their end objectives. Social media should be considered in light of an overall communications strategy and should work in conjunction with other activities like media relations and events.

Read the rest of this entry »

Is Twitter today’s networking?

July 30, 2009


Is Twitter today’s networking? Someone commented to me recently that, “Twitter is today’s networking” and that “marketing activities are now moving online”. To some extent I agree.

HOWEVER, even though it can be confronting putting yourself out there in person, networking is still a relevant and powerful tool for establishing business relationships and even one or two business leads.

I’m pretty active on Twitter and I love the sharing of content it offers, particularly industry blogs, so as a broadcast mechanism it works wonders. But what can it do for your business relationships?

I must admit, Twitter has broadened the media/PR/marketing industry for me and I find myself asking for people’s Twitter handle when I meet them more so than their email address BUT meeting people face-to-face still has a bigger impact.

Even Sydney’s Social Media Club holds regular events to share industry knowledge and provide a chance to meet those in the industry, many of whom you may be following on Twitter. Even the Morning Coffee is a chance to put a face to the Tweet.

This week I went to The Deck at Luna Park for a networking lunch organised by the Harbourside Chamber of Commerce.

It was actually really great and had a big focus on meeting many other businesses, kind of like speed dating for businesses. In fact after the entrée, half of every table had to get up and find other seat, thereby prompting you to introduce yourself to another group of people you mightn’t have meet. Luckily for me I met some interesting people, perhaps one or two potential business leads plus some new interesting people to follow on Twitter and link with on LinkedIn.

So the next time you get that networking invitation in your email inbox, maybe give it a chance, at the very least it will give you something to Tweet about.



Is it advertising or is it PR?

June 26, 2009


The Cannes Lions annual advertising festival, which was held recently, promotes itself as ‘the world’s only truly global meeting place for professionals in the communications industry’.

What I want to know is when did advertising and communications come to mean the same thing? Which is what I assume they mean as the event is branded as an advertising festival not a communications festival.

I fully understand that the history of the event started with advertisers, but since then it has broadened and now even includes an award for…. gasp…. public relations. I can’t help but feel sorry for the PR category as seems at odds with the other categories.

So it was with intrigue and interest when I found out that this year the top PR award at Cannes Lions went to Australian advertising agency, Nitro Cummins for their Best Job in the world campaign.

Read the rest of this entry »

April 17, 2009

Now is the time for optimism


I have been hearing rumblings, albeit quiet ones, for some time now; a few quiet words here and there about a feeling of disdain about the amount of negativity in the media.


But it is only now that I am starting to see journalists put aside the hot topic of the ‘downturn’ and reconfigure their stories. Like in the March issue of Nett magazine where editor Josh Mehlman says, “whinging won’t get us anywhere”. He goes on to say that the thing that sets small businesses apart is their optimism. Where some people see gripes and grumbles, they see opportunities.


There are businesses out there redefining themselves and shifting their businesses to match the current economic climate. This may include incorporating PR into the marketing mix, taking more of the business online and reconfiguring their services to offer more value to their clientele.


But the point is, despite the feeling of depression coming from the media, for instance stories on the latest companies that folded because of the downturn, the tide is slowly turning and it is being led by small, dynamic businesses that see opportunity and optimism.


Jo Gitsham