Monthly Archives: September 2014

Blog prompt for next week

I hope everyone is recovering from a busy last week and enjoying the weekend. Congratulations, again, to the Theatre Team for doing a great job with their plan. I hope you’re all feeling energized for the next phase of the project! Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to the Music Team’s presentation this week.

As promised, here is your blog prompt for this week’s entry:

For this week’s blog post, you should critically reflect on the readings and this week’s topic of how to build and maintain online community and conversation. What are the lessons that Groundswell, in particular, teaches us about engaging online communities? What are your favorite case studies from the book that illustrate effective engagement? Furthermore, based on our other readings, our guest speaker, your own campaigns, what do you think are the critical components of engaging publics on social media? Where do you think most campaigns go wrong?

Plans, production, and pitches

We had a really productive and invigorating class last night, C193/293! It was great to see how engaged and thoughtful everyone was with their plans. As we gear up for your pitches, I wanted to share some additional thoughts on your work.

Social Media Plans. As you can see, your plans, while not very long in page length, contain a lot of thoughtful substance. Every part of your plan is important and each section sets up what follows. Therefore, while an individual team member may be managing a particular part of the proposal, you must make sure it all works together, and also make sure key decisions are undertaken as a group — i.e. narrowing publics; strategies; calendar; etc.

As you continue to refine your strategies, you should be mindful of both your content strategy — i.e. what you will post on each of the platforms – and most importantly, don’t forget about the relationships you want to cultivate. Remember, these media are best used to facilitate two-way engagement, not solely pushing content out to your key publics. You must also be mindful about  how you can encourage your publics to push content (i.e. “talk”) to you. Also, think about the communities you want to cultivate across your platforms. Try to move away from an old-model of one-way messaging to cultivating engagement/interaction with your Client, and also amongst your community members. Your strategies and tactics need to be very specific in terms of what you will post and how your will engage your publics.

Your key messages are also important. What is it you want to say to your key publics? Is there a call to action? Again, beyond promoting an album or show, think about how you want your community members to engage with you and each other on these platforms. I’m reminded of the Mini Cooper campaign discussed in Groundswell and how the campaign planners realized that Mini Cooper owners loved to talk to each other about their cars. What will your key publics talk about with each other? Which conversations will your campaign participate in? Have you identified hashtags for your campaign? This might help you focus and identify your key messages.

Production. As you map out the calendar, you should also prepare sample posts or topic ideas, and identify who will be doing what, when (from your team).

Pitches. I estimate your pitches should be around 20 minutes. Every team member needs to have a speaking part and exhibit confidence in your proposal! You do not need to go into all the background research, only do as much set-up as you need to, to support your proposal. The rationale for your campaign should be clear to your Client. They will be especially interested in your strategies and tactics — how you will engage key publics online and through which channels — so this section needs to be very well developed and well-delivered.

Pitches are a key part of the creative services business. Typically, you will have several firms competing against each other for a Client’s new business (i.e. if the Client issues a Call for Proposals, or “Request for Proposals” (RFQ) ). To get you excited about your presentations, I include two videos below for your viewing pleasure.

This one features Ad Executives discussing the process of pitching:

AMC, “The Pitch” excerpt

And, here’s an inspired concept pitch from the show, “Mad Men” discussing the Kodak slide projector:

Let me know what you think of these videos — do they inspire you or intimidate you? (Hopefully, the former.)

Keep up the good work!



Next week’s assignment

For next week’s assignment, you should start your Twitter account, if you haven’t already, and begin tweeting. For the next week (i.e. at least September 22 – 26), you should tweet at least once per day on the subject matter of your choosing. You may tweet about things you’re thinking about, respond to someone else, comment on a recent event, etc. Pay special attention to which of your tweets get retweeted, if any, and/or generate comments from other users.

Spend some time exploring Twitter. In order to participate in the conversation on Twitter, you must identify 5-10 other handles than interest you and begin following them (unless you’re already heavily engaged in this platform). Also, connect with your classmates from this class.

You should also connect your Twitter feed to your Blog page. In WordPress, under “Appearance” go to “Widgets” and there will be a widget for Twitter (essentially a small App or computer program). Click and drag this to the right side of the page (the “primary widget area”) and provide any information requested.

For this week’s blog post, discuss some of the conversations that are happening on this platform that interest you. Also, reflect on Twitter as a public relations tool, specifically discuss the value you think it has a public relations tool. What are some good examples of organizations using Twitter effectively? What about bad examples of its usage? Also, what new insights did this week’s readings give you regarding Twitter?

Meanwhile, in the weeks to come you will be required to live tweet from an event, so start thinking about what might make a good event from which to do so.

Have a great weekend!

Social Media Fact Sheets

As you all know your Fact Sheets and presentations are due this Thursday. The assignment, as previously discussed is included below.  One thing to note, I will not REQUIRE a Powerpoint/Prezi for this presentation. Since you will be spending time on the platform you’re analyzing (i.e. for demonstration), it may be too cumbersome or confusing to also navigate through a Powerpoint/ Prezi, as well. I will leave that up to you in terms of what you think will aid you in being a most effective communicator.

The assignment:

Each student will comprehensively review a social media platform and become a subject matter expert, explaining its history, effective practices, etc. Students will be assigned a social media channel including social networking sites, blogs, Pinterest, Instagram, vines, etc. Students will create a single-spaced fact sheet, using headings & bullet points, to address the significant things professional communicators need to know about these platforms. Your Fact Sheets must be 1 -2 pages long and you must create handouts of the Fact Sheets for all class members. Presentations should be between 7 -10 minutes long.

  1. Introduction to the platform with some basic information about who is using it and for what (users and marketers). Include data like reach (how many people are active users) and user demographics.
  2. Brief demo on how to use the platform;
  3. How do brands or businesses successfully communicate on this platform (show at least 2 examples);
  4. Specific user elements that are important to the platform (likes, hashtags, etc.); How do you use the platform to provoke responses or engagement?; What level of engagement is realistic or achievable on this platform (refer to your examples)?;
  5. What risks are inherent to this platform? How can syntax (limitations on size of messages for example) increase risk?
  6. What are the top ways to build followers on this platform? What tips can you offer brands that will allow them to develop loyal, engaged and committed followers that spread positive WOM for them?
  7. Your advice and recommendations for using this platform to communicate with customers or potential ones.

C193/293 – Next week’s blog post

What makes a good blog? As we prepare for next week’s topic, let’s do some investigating of our own.

For next week’s blog post, I would like you to find 2-3 other blogs about a topic that interests you, and critique these blogs. These blogs can be about any topic, such as fitness (Michael Contrereas) or cars (Kelvin Cao), for example. Specifically, discuss the tone and content of the writing, and the blog layout and design. How would you describe the writing tone/voice of the blog? What makes the layout attractive (or not)? Does the blog post a lot of photos or other visual “eye candy” or not? Do you notice any commonalities across the blogs? What do you think works really well in these blogs, and what doesn’t? Also, note the level of engagement on these blogs. Are readers commenting a lot? Most importantly, what ideas can you take away from these blogs to improve your own?

Remember, your blog is a work in progress and I encourage you to improve it as the semester progresses. Think of this, also, as an opportunity to consider your own voice and your own personal brand.

C193/293 Schedule Changes

I’ve had to modify our schedule — even after last night’s changes — due to the scheduling of some wonderful guest speakers!  Therefore, please note:

Next week, September 16, 18:
On Tuesday we will welcome our first guest speaker, Ian Hill, executive producer for digital and social media for News10 Sacramento. He will discuss the rise of social media in the newsroom and suggest some strategies on how to use social media to engage audiences.

This means that ALL fact sheets and accompanying presentations will now be due next Thursday, September 18. On this date, I will also ask that you hand in a draft of your social media plans for your Client. Get as much done as you can, and especially work on sections that may be particularly problematic for you. The point of the draft is to make this a working document so that I can provide you with some feedback before your Client pitches.

Remember plans should include: Background Research and Situation Analysis; Goals and Objectives; Key Publics; Key Messages; Strategies and Tactics; Budget (likely $0 unless you’re proposing some sort of give-away); and Evaluation. Also, please include a short (250 words) executive summary (i.e. an abstract) and some samples of your proposed content.

A suggestion to manage your work flow: you may consider divvying up the sections and assigning a lead to get the draft going on each section (or 1-2 sections). Then, make sure that at least 1 other person also reads/contributes to that section. Then someone should read the whole proposal for continuity sake, as well. Do not short change your research — remember, think about what we need to know regarding the organization; project; environment; key publics etc. Your research is key as it supports the logic of your proposal.

Client pitches:
The Music Team will now pitch their plan on Tuesday, September 30 (not October 2 as originally stated in the syllabus). This will move the pitches closer together and make room for a special guest speaker from Edelman Digital who will come to class on October 2. I am awaiting confirmation from Theatre Arts that September 25 still works as a pitch date.

Any questions? Please let me know. I’m excited to see how your work is progressing. Hopefully you are as excited as I am to see everything come together.


Next Week’s Blog Post

For next week’s post, I would like you to reflect critically on the Goundswell (Li & Bernoff, 2011) readings you’ve completed thus far. Reflect on the first 5 chapters of this book. Which ideas do you find particularly interesting? What take-aways have you gotten that might influence your approach to designing a social media campaign? Is there anything you disagree with or think needs updating?

Use this blog post to engage with the content thoughtfully. You do not need to summarize the material, and avoid generalizations. Instead, I want to see you engaging with the material, and critically thinking through the ideas presented in the text.


Preparing for class tomorrow – Client visits!

This jam-packed, exciting semester will get a jump-start tomorrow with our Client visits. At 5pm, Professor Tromovitch from Theatre Arts will be visiting with our class to debrief us on her needs as related to social media and the upcoming performances. At 6pm, Professor Hatschek from the Music department will join us to discuss the upcoming album drop and their needs vis-a-vis social media.

To remind everyone of the process: tomorrow will be our Client debriefings in which our Clients will explain their needs and concerns. This is also our opportunity to ask all of our questions related to their upcoming campaigns. Therefore, between tonight and tomorrow, you should really start thinking about their “products”/events and how you think social media can be used to help them achieve their objectives.

Therefore, you should also be considering all the components that will go into your social media plans. You must consider: research; goals; objectives; key messages; audiences; strategies; and tactics. Start thinking seriously about your content strategy. Remember, you should think beyond using social media for one-way messaging (i.e. “old-fashioned” promotion); instead, think about how to use these platforms to engage. You can also jump ahead in Groundswell and read on page 68, key objectives the authors identify for organizations to pursue online. These are: 1) listening; 2) talking; 3) energizing; 3) supporting; and 5) embracing. Consider which ones might be most appropriate for your Client in this context.

As mentioned yesterday, you want to show up to your Client meetings knowing all you can about their business. You want to maximize the precious time you have with your Client, and ask questions that cannot easily be answered on your own. I.e. do your own research now on their current social media properties, past events/product launches; etc. Read the scripts, if you are working on the theatre campaign. When working with Clients, you want to demonstrate that you care as much about their business as they do. So, please take time to prepare for these meetings tomorrow.

The fun is just getting started!