Posts Tagged ‘Garbage In Garbage Out’


Issuing Citations: How to Quote Wisely and Accurately

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014
flickr user Gage Skidmore

flickr user Gage Skidmore

A political and media kerfuffle ensued late last week after Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor and former Republican presidential candidate, spoke at a Republican conference. Below is his full quote:

If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it, let’s take that discussion all across America because women are far more than Democrats have made them to be.

Soon after, CNN journalist Dana Bash tweeted this:CNN Dana Bash Tweet BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas

Then NBC reporter Kasie Hunt tweeted something similar:NBC Kasie Hunt BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas

These tweets, which did not accurately represent the context or content of Huckabee’s remarks, spurred a number of clarifications and a whole lot of discussion. Even in a political and media issue such as this, there are plenty of takeaways for PR pros:

Be sure of the proper context

Bash’s tweet made it sound like Huckabee said he thinks women are “helpless without Uncle Sugar.” The reality is he accused Democrats of thinking women are “helpless without Uncle Sugar.”

Quoting someone? Triple check you’ve got the context right. Sometimes there’s a disconnect between what we know and what we write, so if you’re quoting anyone, make sure the quote and the surrounding content very clearly state the context of who said what. This is just as important, if not more so, when you’re summarizing in 140 characters or less. If it’s not crystal clear, don’t tweet it.

Tweet Wisely

Especially if you’re live tweeting. As Bash and Hunt both exemplified, tweeting with no or incorrect context leads to backlash and completely derails a conversation, especially if it’s political. Suddenly, the story focused not on what Huckabee said, but on the media getting it wrong (even though it was only two reporters out of hundreds).

PR pros are in a similarly visible field, and this is an era in which out-of-context or ill-thought-out tweets can land you in hot personal and professional waters (as Justine Sacco proved late last year), whether it’s warranted or not. Particularly if it’s your message at stake, or that of your industry, you don’t want the focus to shift from your message or meaning onto a silly mistake.

Edit without losing context

There’s an easy fix to Bash’s tweet. Had it been worded: “At RNC meeting @MikeHuckabee says ‘Dems believe women can’t control their libido w/o birth control,” the problem never would have arisen.

The first way to edit within context: listen fully. This means paying attention and not letting your personal opinion get in the way. Then, distill selectively. Determine what the two or three main points of the quote are and summarize from there. Remember: quotes are not malleable; either it was said, or it wasn’t. Be accurate from the get-go, because issuing clarifications or retractions detracts from credibility.

Quality over speed

The nature of Twitter means that live-tweeting has become not only de rigueur, but practically mandatory not only for journalists, but for people attending anything of note, like awards ceremonies or industry events. It takes a lot of concentration to listen to someone speak while quoting what they said two or three sentences back. Unless it’s expressly necessary and you can be sure you’re representing the quote accurately, be very careful when tweeting of-the-moment.

The demand for immediate tweets is a classic GIGO scenario: it takes our focus off of the importance of what’s being said, places it on being first to tweet it, and disregards sharing quality tweets.  When we put out words that haven’t been verified, checked, or thought-out, it shows.

Five Tips for a Strong Start in 2014

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Five Tips for a Strong Start to 2014 - Goals and resolutions - Ellis Friedman BurrellesLuce Fresh IdeasNow that 2013 has almost ended, it’s time to kick your professional resolutions into high gear. We don’t know what will come in 2014 but today we share a few goals that will keep you ahead of the pack. (For some personal goals that pack a big professional impact, check out this month’s newsletter.)

Find and tell your corporate story: One of the hottest PR topics this year has been content marketing, and that’s not expected to change in 2014. Effective content marketing requires a savvy strategy, and part of executing that strategy is telling your corporate story. Not only should all content reflect your organization’s brand values and voice, but it should also have universal appeal that also supports business growth.

How do you find your corporation’s story? It’s not really about the organization itself, it’s about using a certain platform to relate to your audience. Use resources to dig a bit deeper into the company’s history, its mission statement, and its values. Use those values and stories as pivot points to engage with your community and spread ideals and positive, consistent messaging.

Say “No” to GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out. Your end product is inherently tied to what you put into the project, especially your time, your energy, your content. GIGO isn’t a solution; it’s usually a last resort or a byproduct of time or money spread too thin. GIGO comes with a lot of pitfalls, like incomplete data, misleading results, poor performance, unmet goals, and having to go back and fix or re-do work you’ve already done. Assessing where your GIGO is and deciding how to fix it can be a huge upfront investment of time and resources, but it ultimately pays off in greater, long-lasting rewards. We’ll be talking a lot more about getting rid of GIGO in 2014, but for now check out this newsletter and our Seussian poem on GIGO.

Keep your goals SMART: Setting SMART goals keeps you focused and give you direction, as well as ensuring that the goal you’re setting is both measurable and achievable. SMART goals must be: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. So no matter what you’re plotting – content market strategy, sales goals, or social media tactics – remember that SMART goals are achievable goals.

Keep your social media consistent: We know that in a digital, instantaneous world, updating consistently and often is paramount to staying relevant. But it’s also important to keep your organization’s digital voice consistent to maximize your brand’s impact and recognition. If more than one person runs or has access to your organization’s social media accounts, bring them together for an early 2014 meeting to refine the corporate voice and get everyone on the same page.

Similarly, ensure that someone’s consistently monitoring those social media accounts to check for comments or mentions and respond to any questions, shout-outs, or complaints. Users expect a response from a brand within an hour, especially if it’s regarding a complaint, so stay connected, and don’t forget to engage, even with a simple “Thanks for the RT.”

Think about SEO in a whole new way: SEO isn’t about keywords anymore, it’s all about semantics. Google’s Hummingbird update is changing the way the search engine displays search results. Now, it’s about content quality, not just keyword quantity and link building. Build your new SEO strategy along with your content marketing strategy, as the two will now go hand in hand. And don’t neglect Google Plus – while this seems like it should be part of a social media strategy rather than an SEO strategy, Google Plus will become integral in search engine rankings. Check out our post on integrating Google Plus into your SEO strategy for more tips.

For more SEO tips, read our newsletter about SEO strategy and our recently-updated SEO tip sheet with an SEO checklist.