Posts Tagged ‘Web 2.0’

Storytelling for the Digital Age: 2011 PRSA International Conference

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

This post first appeared on PRSA ComPRehension 10.27.11 and is reposted with permission.

Even though the PRSA International Conference was my 12th in the past 13 years, I was excited about this year’s theme of Envisioning the Future of Public Relations. As I’m a PRSSA mentor and adviser, and vice president of BurrellesLuce Media Contacts, the future of the profession is close to my heart.

One of the sessions I attended was led by my colleague Johna Burke, on the topic of storytelling and its importance in this digital age. I came away with two pages of typewritten notes, but here are what I believe to be the key takeaways.

Burke began by stressing that storytelling is the core competency in the public relations profession, next to great writing. She talked about this being the “Web 2.0” of storytelling. No more is it just local library readings, storytelling festivals and other analog channels. We now have multimedia, hypertext, social media, user-generated broadcast, etc. Public relations professionals must leverage the art form — make your story compelling, make it stand out.

Blasting your message out to the masses is not the way to reach everyone. The most important considerations:

  • Where is your audience? Target your story through the proper channels.
  • What matters? Understand who your community is and what they want. 
  • What is sustainable? Understand how your organization makes and spends money. Channel your resources in the proper way so that you aren’t wasting time and money talking where no one is listening.

In the spirit of being in Orlando, Burke referenced Walt Disney as one of the best storytellers of all time; he knew who his audience was. He knew that kids were his primary market, yet he recognized his secondary market was the parents (using allusions above the kids’ heads to amuse the adults). He also didn’t forget there’s always a tertiary market — audiences we may not have originally anticipated but who still matter and who take an interest in our stories. These audiences should be identified as they emerge. 

The key is to understand what your brand means. Being generic dilutes the message.

Public relations professionals must empower their audience by digging deeper, driving the story. She warns to beware of the desire to be the newest, coolest — using the “all sizzle, no steak” analogy. People see through this, and will not support long-time relationships, which is what you need. You do want to be relevant — visuals, videos, info-graphics are powerful, but don’t miss the opportunity to tell your story.

Tressa Robbins is vice president of Media Contacts for BurrellesLuce. Tressa is a regular contributor to BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog, a member of the St. Louis PRSA chapter, Champions for PRSSA section member, PRSSA mentor and Professional Adviser. She recently served as a panelist for the PRSSA National Conference and speaks at the local and regional level. Connect with Tressa on LinkedIn and follow Tressa on Twitter @tressalynne.

Highlights from PRSA Travel and Tourism 2010: Keith Burton, President, Insidedge & Johna Burke, BurrellesLuce

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Transcript –

JOHNA BURKE:  Hello, this is Johna Burke with BurrellesLuce, and I’m here at the PRSA Travel and Tourism Conference.  I’m here with Keith.

Keith, will you please introduce yourself?

KEITH BURTON:  I’m Keith Burton.  I’m with Inside Edge, and our company is an internal communications global consultancy.

BURKE:  Great.  Keith, you just did a session on helping PR professionals manage their career. For those people that can’t be here, could you give a couple of those tips on the next steps they need to take to be able to effectively manage their career?

BURTON:  Happy to do it, Johna.  It’s a huge topic and one that I’m asked about regularly. I made the point that today we have more intern candidates than we’ve ever had in our history of our business.  We have about 800 candidates that normally come in, as an example, in the entry level to the Chicago office of Golin Harris, which is our firm, as a part of Inside Edge in the work that we do. And in addition to that, we have a lot of mature professionals who’ve been in the business beyond those who are emerging, who are looking for advice on their career development today. And I tell them all the same thing, it starts first and foremost by understanding that we live in a world today where our clients expect us to be more strategic.  So that means we have to go beyond what we know about the craft that we practice, the disciplines that we work in, and understand how those discipline—this discipline influences the work that is being done in organizations.

We’re here with the travel/tourism section of PRSA and, you know, my conversation today focused around work that they may do in their outreach to communities that are served by the companies that they are a part of, understanding how to reach those consumers in new ways.  So being smart inside of the organization and outside by looking at a more strategic focus as opposed to simply doing what we’re asked to do is a very important part of managing your career.  Also, giving back into communities. I say often when I look at men and women who are coming in as candidates, I first look at their resume and see what did they do on the college campus?  What did they do in their communities in terms of their volunteerism?  Are they showing leadership there?  If they’re doing those things, it really in my mind establishes them as someone that I’d like to talk to before I may talk to other candidates. Doing the basics well.  Being a good writer, being able to understand how our profession is changing and, frankly, the new tools that are being brought into it with Web 2.0 now being an active part of our profession for many years, but how that will evolve in support of some of the classic things that we do with event management, for example, in media relations.  So, you know, doing the basics well, being able to demonstrate leadership, certainly being more strategic as both the business case for PR under the PRSA model will demonstrate for us, and then above and beyond that, knowing how our discipline will change in the future and how we can help our clients be smarter in those in our organizations that we serve, be smarter in their work.

BURKE:  Great.  And where can people find you on the web, Keith?

BURTON:, and that’s insidedge spelled with one “E” between the “inside” and the “edge.”  Also, I have a blog that’s a part of our work known as Intake that they’ll find on that site.

BURKE:  Great.  Thank you so much.

BURTON:  Thank you. 

Catching Up With Social Media In America’s Sailing Capital

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

by Mike Robinson*

Flickr Image: PJM

Flickr Image: PJM

I recently attended a seminar presented by Phill McGowan, public information officer for the City of Annapolis. His discussion was entitled, “Successful Communication in the Digital Age” and was featured as part of the PRSA Central Chesapeake Chapter’s Luncheon Speaker Series. (Annapolis is Maryland’s capital and is known as “America’s Sailing Capital” because the U.S. Naval Academy, the National Sailing Hall of Fame, and the strong reputation of the local sailing community.)

Social media tools are a large part of McGowan’s PR strategy – used specifically to listen to conversations online and then respond and engage. In the past, he worked in the media (The Baltimore Sun) and for a private public relations firm (Virilion). He attended a graduate program at American University, which was specifically focused on digital media, and has gone on to leverage and utilize his past journalism experience, his hands-on social media expertise, and a formal education in digital media to engage and connect with the public as a government communicator.

Here are some books he recommended regarding social media:

  • Web 2.0 – A Strategy Guide by Amy Shuen
  • Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug
  • In-Bound Marketing by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah

One great take-away from the event was his story about a blogger who had interviewed him and then published information that McGowan thought misrepresented the conversation. The way he dealt with the situation was to enter a comment below the story directly addressing the issues he thought were important. This was a great example of how you can monitor a discussion and then take immediate action to help address any shortcomings in that conversation – or even dispute any specific issues.

The experience was a lot of fun and informative and I look forward to my next PRSA seminar in “America’s Sailing Capital!” How are you using social media to listen, respond, and engage with your audiences? If you attended this event, what were some of the other points that you found helpful? How are you applying them to your social media activities? Please share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas. 


*Bio: Over the last 15 years, Mike Robinson has gained a lot of experience in business, sales, and marketing.  For the past eight years, he’s worked with BurrellesLuce out of its D.C. office,  advising businesses, organizations, and government agencies of all sizes on effective solutions for measuring press outreach, reputation management, and message analysis. He is passionate about news analysis, politics, and policy. And looks forward to sharing his thoughts and insights on the PR industry and media monitoring and measurement. LinkedIn: mikerobinson1 Twitter: @mike__robinson Facebook: BurrellesLuce

Are Shortened URLs Short-Changing Your Measurement Effort?

Friday, May 8th, 2009

Short Changed

by Jeffrey Barrett*

URL shortening services have existed since back when URLs had to be under 80 columns to fit in an email unbroken. They have become a mainstay, in no small part, because of the Twitter explosion. These services simply shrink a long URL like which consists of 46 characters, to a small one like, only about 20 characters. Go ahead, give both links a try; with either one you wind up at this article.

Everyone loves a short URL when composing in a 140 character bounded space. It leaves much more room for your thoughts, but there is danger in their proliferation. These mini-addresses are wreaking havoc for the destinations of these originates. When you click on a link to a website, such as, logs show where you were when you made that click. But when you click on, a truncated version of that same link, it shows up under the name of that service. This is useless for understanding which actions drove you to the site in the first place and tracking the effectiveness of a given marketing campaign. If this was done for an ad driven content site it could impact the revenue of ad sales.

New services, like, provide a partial solution to the lost metrics. Unfortunately, if – a free service with no business model – folds its tent, you will lose the metrics it does provide. Furthermore, it’s likely your existing systems do not integrate with the shorter services. The end result: the need to manually massage your metrics.

There is a call for technology that will make it possible for people to easily run their own URL shorteners. Still in its early stage, RevCanonical is one possible solution. The application “checks to see if the link owner has published a shortened version of the given page using HTML link element.” Although it has some short comings (Chris Shiflett highlights a few), it is worth keeping an eye on. Your company and clients could benefit from getting behind the sort of technology that is needed to regain the knowledge of where their visitors came from!

If you really want to be prepared, though, it might be time to buy the shortest domain you can that either sounds like your “main” domain or has the key letters of your domain. Then you will be able to provide the convenience of a shorter URL without sacrificing your tracking and metrics.

*Bio: Currently I am the chief architect of BurrellesLuce 2.0, the portal used by thousands of PR professionals to monitor, share, organize, and measure online and print news. I started as a web developer for Merck & Company and I am an accomplished technologist with a focus on large scale system architecture and implementation. With over ten years of experience designing and deploying technical solutions for a wide range of companies, I most recently managed web projects for NBC Universal, where I delivered social networking applications and supported high traffic applications. Prior to that, I served as director of technology for Silver Carrot, a marketing firm, creating and delivering the technology that powered high-performance online campaigns. In my spare time, I enjoy reading about economics and anything that has to do with modeling social interaction and social media. LinkedIn: Jeffrey Barrett; Twitter: @BurrellesLuce; Facebook: BurrellesLuce

Social Media Conference Didn’t Choose Wireless

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

The Ragan Sponsored Conference “Social Media for Communicators: A Web 2.0 Summit for Internal Communications, Public Relations and Marketing” is being held at the Wynn in Las Vegas. The great irony of the event is some of the leading social media gurus and bloggers are there to present in a venue where wireless is not provided. Wireless is available, but at a “tweeted” cost of $50,000. It was not cost effective for the conference. This resonated with me because on a daily basis I consult with BurrellesLuce clients struggling with how to be relevant and incorporate social media into their overall communications strategy.

The reality:
Every communicator and public relations professional today is faced with making decisions on how to allocate their organization’s resources. Very similar to this conference, it is a judgment call of economics and resources. Just as the tweets keep coming from a venue where wireless was not provided social media activity continues to increase as resourceful professionals “find a way” to be part of the conversation. Sadly, there is no perfect system. The fact that conversations are taking place and resources are being allocated to the development of these programs shows fortitude of communications to be relevant while being mindful of organization objectives. I wanted to share this example to let you know you are not alone and to show support of everyone faced with making tough business decisions every day.

The lesson:
Even though you don’t have the program you think you need to have or want to have the fact you are looking at this blog post relevant to your interests is a step in the right direction. The hardest part is getting started and you’ve already done that. Take the next step and provide feedback to be an active participant in the conversation. If the social media cobblers children have no wireless and they can survive so can you.

What is your $50,000 wireless challenge?