Focus Panel : Discussion on Content Marketing

ContentI’m always tickled to be included among smart people on a panel to discuss social media, communications, and other issues. Earlier this month, I was honored to be included in the following group for an online panel on Content Marketing moderated by Steve Farnsworth of Jolt Social Media and hosted by

Joining me were:

You can hear the audio (approx. 1 hour) from the panel at the archive page, or play it directly from this link:


Rather than try to recap the conversation, I did want to pull out some of the more interesting bits we covered. If you have any comments, feel free to leave them here or at the archive page.

  • When starting a content marketing program- what are your content assets?
  • Create expectations with your content by being consistent
  • Write in a way that’s engaging without sacrificing the marketing goals of your content
  • Think about metrics in terms of program tracking but also in terms of what the C-suite wants (and needs) to hear
  • Think about where talent comes from for content marketing programs- perhaps not from the marketing and PR industries, but from traditional content creating roles like journalism
  • Topics I never touch on (like marketing automation) were brought up, underscoring the need for PR, Marketing and other communications departments to be aligned in content marketing efforts
  • The shrinking world of effective free tools for managing online content, with some input from the audience to tools they use. (I have been hearing a lot about Crowdbooster lately, for example)
  • Ways to get contact from reluctant executives, such as Q&As and short videos
  • Whom and how many to follow on your social media accounts (and how much does that matter)? Relevancy and reciprocation matter
  • I was surprised and pleased to note the panel’s collective attitudes towards infographics (think “visual” not “infographic” as there are so many bad ones out there) and Klout as an influence measure (no thanks)
  • Plus: I got to throw in two of my favorite themes:
    • “No message control” in social media is a myth
    • “Data lies, trends don’t”
    • “Make me scroll, I’m gonna troll” (re: infographics)

I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic as well

Photo Credit: yourdoku on Flickr

Deleted Posts? Lemur-Burgers? Kneejerk Responses Make Social Media Marketers Look Like Idiots

I am a huge fan of pointing out mistakes social media marketers make, not to show up people who may be acting poorly or simply showing bad form (heavens!). More to the point, we should call out “worst practices” lest people think such things are OK and get the actors to answer questions about the questionable (sometimes the answers are pretty good). All considered, we ought to like to learn from and teach each other.

On the other hand, I note that there is a rush to judgment at times. We’re all guilty about it. In the scramble to write up a “lessons learned” post (can we please find another way to say that?), we take what scant info we bothered to half-read and offer our categorical condemnation.

What’s the motivation? Being the first to “thought-leader” the issue? Bragging rights for being a smarty? When did we need online proof to go swaggering and boasting? Bah humbug. Let’s put the journalistic skills most of us never learned to good use.


The  case of the Susan G. Komen Fondation’s controversy about pulling funds from Planned Parenthood is a week old already as I type this, but it’s still worth talking about. Kneejerk reaction abound, obviously in the political (or was it?) reactions to the Komen Foundation’s actions, and the subsequent retraction (or was it?). even on the facts of the story it’s not easy to pass correct judgment.

More to my point, there was a reaction to the perceived deleting of comments and posts on the Facebook wall of Nancy Brinker, head of the Komen Foundation. I heard complaints, many from friends, that posts were disappearing. When I went to the page, I found the posts in question easily; the default view on Brinker’s wall showed her posts only, but a simple click on the “Everyone” tab showed the missing posts (see screenshots for what I mean).

Does this mean no posts were deleted? I have no way of knowing that, and some friends still insist there were. But the fact remains that hundreds (OK I didn’t count) of critical posts remain on the wall, among less-frequent calls of support and posts by Sprinker et al. Our gut often tells us to expect the worst, even if we disagree- but in this case, many people forgot a simple function of the Facebook wall, which is frankly embarrassing. My biggest fear is that social media keynoters start loading this up into their “These Companies Don’t Get It” presentation decks without checking all the facts.


Diego SuarezAnother recent episode was McDonald’s who paid for a “Promoted Trend” on Twitter called “McD’s Stories.” Anyone could tell you such a big brand would attract trolls and haters, especially as not everyone is a fan of fast food. I’ll call myself out here, as I initially knee-jerked some statements that I thought McDonald’s screwed up. I quickly was corrected (for the record, by some friends and colleagues who were screaming about the Komen deletions); more importantly, was reminded that a big brand will always get the haters (I see this every day), but that does not mean the bad posts are the norm (but face it, we love to see fantastic stories about people finding lemur paws in their Big Macs*)

Also, we tend to judge these situations without talking to the principals involved- in this case, a problem alleviated by Realtime Report with this interview of McDonald’s Rick Wion. In fact, those of us who blog, speak or otherwise opine about these situations often do so without really knowing what went on behind the scenes- I have seen enough people do these far-from-complete “this company doesn’t get it” case studies that I hope I don’t ever do such a thing myself (we’ll see about that).

For Pete’s sake- take a breath before popping off about something. Maybe run out for a sack of lemur-burger’s from McD’s. I’ll try to do the same (no promises).

*I made that up

Photo credit: wallygrom on Flickr


PR Doesn’t Need To Be Objective – Just Ethical

IMG_0882There has been a lot of talk, much of it oblique, about public relations and objectivity- or the lack of it. Much of the most recent talk has stemmed from an active effort to relieve the long-time ban on corporate and agency PR agent participation in wikipedia edits, leading to a Facebook group started by Phil Gomes with much active participation from both sides. A fascinating discussion that I have been honored to be a (very) small part of and more so to simply watch it take place. Perhaps it will lead to some practical conclusions and changes.

At part of the heart of the Wikipedia matter is the notion that public relations people are not, by profession, objective, and therefore cannot be trusted to act ethically. Aside from that being a rather fantastic conclusion (lack of ethics) to draw from what is really a more mundane fact (lack of objectivity), I have always found the line of thought puzzling.

I was reminded again of this topic thanks to a discussion with CustomScoop’s Jen Zingsheim during my regular guest stint on the Media Bullseye Roundtable podcast. At the center was a post by Richard Bailey on objectivity and neutrality. Referencing the Wikipedia fight, he goes on to make a broader appeal to forgive PR’s lack of neutrality on the grounds that PR can still be objective.

I understand that thinking, if you define objectivity as the presentation of facts that cannot be denied. Certainly this is at the heart of the Wikipedia struggle- the ability of partisans who hold first-hand knowledge to be able to correct simple factual errors. However, I think we should take a step back and say: why apologize for not being neutral, for being biased?

The fact is, even journalists, as objective or neutral (I have a harder time than Bailey distinguishing between these two terms) as they try to be, always have a point of view. It can’t be helped. It behooves the audience to know what they can about the author, editor, contributor, correspondent or publisher and make determinations about the trustworthiness of content by considering the source and adjusting to that.

Public relations? No need to be neutral, objective or whatever you want to label it. PR is partisan. Ethical is good enough.


Photo Credit: joelogon (Flickr)