Posts Tagged ‘American Red Cross’

PRSA-NCC Members Told Social Media is ‘Where We Live Today’

Friday, May 11th, 2012

This post first appeared on Capitol Communicator 5.11.12 and is cross-posted with permission. 

PRSA-NCC session on Social Media

Shown in the picture, (l to r) Chris Brooks, Julie A. Weckerlein, Cappy Surette, Jennifer Mitchell and Gloria Huang. The session was moderated by Debbie Friez, vice president, BurrellesLuce.)

Five communicators made the case that social media is “where we live today” during a May 10 professional development session conducted by the Public Relations Society of America’s National Capital Chapter (PRSA-NCC).

The session at the Navy Memorial, “Social Media Tips and Success Stories for PR Pros,” featured Cappy Surette, director of public relations at U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery; Chris Brooks, manager of social engagement at Hilton Worldwide; Julie A. Weckerlein, public affairs specialist at U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Gloria Huang, senior social engagement specialist at the American Red Cross; and, Jennifer Mitchell, director of social media at BRG Communications. The session was moderated by Debbie Friez, vice president, BurrellesLuce.

Social media allows you to reach “a wider and more diverse audience than we can through the use of traditional media alone,” said Surrette. He and the other panelists said social media provides a great opportunity to attract advocates you may never have considered. These advocates, it was noted, can come to your aid when your organization is being challenged.

Brooks, who said his job at Hilton Worldwide is to put “heads in beds,” added social media allows you to build up a “community of supporters” in advance of a problem. He added , to be successful, you should consider multiple channels – such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Flickr. During his presentation, Brooks also offered these two observations: Approach social media in an organized manner and remember that “measurement is key.”

Regarding social media, Weckerlein told seminar attendees, “don’t be afraid to take calculated risks,” but use the “same voice” and present the “same message.” She also presented a case history from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showinghow cost effective social media can be for an organization. The real cost of the CDC campaign based on the Zombie Apocalypse preparedness relating it to hurricane preparedness was $87.00, but the campaign generated more than three million dollars in estimated marketing value.

In her presentation, Huang said, “you don’t have a choice on whether to do social media, the question is how well you do it.” She offered the followed social media principles employed by the American Red Cross: Be accurate, be relevant, be considerate, be transparent, be human and be compassionate.

Mitchell stated organizations do well in social media when they look beyond their own organization. As an example, she said that social media allows you to ask questions to your target audience to get them involved with your organization. In short, she said, personal relationships are more important than ever, so encourage your target audiences to interact with you. Content is king, and she reminded the audience, “People spread (share) awesome content. They don’t spread mediocre content. However, Mitchel also offered an observation that put social media into perspective: It’s an addition to, not a replacement for, “old” communications platforms.

The bottom line, according to Surrette, is that “You can’t control the sea of public opinion, but (using social media) you can at least navigate it.”


Phil Rabin has covered trends in communications for more than two decades for a number of media outlets. Currently, he is editor of Capitol Communicator,, an online resource working to bringing together communications professionals who influence and educate the Mid-Atlantic region by providing news, trends, education and opportunities for networking. Phil also is Vice President of West Glen Communications,, and is a member of the Public Relations Society of America.

Learning How-To Be Successful and Social By Listening

Monday, December 7th, 2009
Flickr Image: Beverly & Pack

Flickr Image: Beverly & Pack

Last week I attended the PR News How-To Conference and PR People Awards, which were both sponsored by BurrellesLuce. And on Friday, Sally Falkow, social media strategist at Expansion+ and PR News Trainer of the Year, gave a presentation for PRSA-NCC.

Most of the speakers at these three events, although sometimes reviewing traditional PR tactics, often seemed to switch their focus to new social media tools.  

In this post, I’m focusing on one basic tactic that seemed to be common to all: the universal recommendation of listening first (and often) to find-out where your audience and advocates are talking. Simply stated, “You need to know where the community is congregating if you want to engage them.” Although it will seem daunting at first, a 360 overview using several tools, will help you know where to focus for continued monitoring evaluation.

Sam Ford, Peppercom, said listening is important for—

  • Product research
  • Customer service
  • Solidifying/adapting messages
  • Crisis preparation
  • Outreach
  • New business opportunities
  • Target audiences

Falkow, at a separate event, seemed to expand upon this point by saying that, “Listening helps you with your plan by generating ideas and showing you what the community is interested in discussing.”

Wendy Harmon, American Red Cross, gave a great tip: Learn to tie in your PR campaigns to what the community is talking about. By monitoring the discussions, you can make your campaigns relevant.

Both Falkow and Anne Carelli, Coca-Cola, emphasized you should “fish where the fish are.” This means you should use listening to find communities, and then start conversing in them. You don’t need to go out and create a new community if one already exists. There are several examples of companies trying to create a new community, only to fail, because it is competing with an existing one.

Colin Moffett, Weber Shandwick, and Falkow both talked about using your listening tools to understand influencers. You need to do your homework and understand what a blogger is writing about before you engage them in a conversation. Bloggers are often pickier about how and when you communicate with them then are traditional reporters.

Lastly, as listening moves into monitoring, you should use it for media content analysis. Your analysis needs to be based on your campaign goals. Most of the speakers felt “favorability” or “sentiment” should be consistently illustrated in most measurement plans. Falkow and BurrellesLuce’s Johna Burke both emphasized doing human review of the sentiment, because a computer can not understand nuances or sarcasm.

The take away for these recent industry events: listening needs be a part of your strategy from beginning to end of your campaign.

What are your “how-to” tips? Do you have any listening tips?