09 / 03 / 2014
Check your Ps and Qs: The importance of proofreading
11 / 06 / 2013
Much has been written about bullying in recent years. The effect it can have on one’s mental health and physical behaviors is troubling to say the least. To make matters more complicated, bullying doesn’t just occur between children in the classroom or on the neighborhood playground. It’s all around us on social media, in our workplaces and, most recently, in an NFL locker room.
My colleague, Andy Pollen, wrote a piece last month about thinking twice before hitting send and living by the Golden Rule. The pictures you post and the comments you make online last forever, and being rude behind a faceless avatar is no way to live.
But what happens when you witness bullying in person? Do you look the other way or let the parties involved hash it out? Or do you do something to help?
I’m the husband of a first grade teacher and bullying is a frequent topic of conversation at the dinner table. I’m also a former athlete and believe that bullying (or hazing) has no place in sports, our schools or our places of work.
The most recent high-profile example of bullying came late last week when news broke that bullying on the Miami Dolphins football team caused a teammate to voluntarily leave the team. While many NFL analysts, executives and former players are calling the actions of those involved inappropriate and appalling (and rightly so), some are upset the situation wasn’t handled privately in the locker room.
When faced with bullying, leaders need to lead. When faced with bullying in their organization, leaders must assess the situation and solve it as quickly as possible. Every organization is different, and running an NFL franchise certainly presents a unique set of challenges. However, bullying is not an individual problem. It’s a cultural problem. If it’s present in your workplace or school, it speaks to many things—but one is a lack of leadership.
As a public relations practitioner for an agency I greatly respect, I witness the power of leadership and collaboration every day as a way to solve crises and bring groups of people together. I’m lucky to see such leadership in action every day.
The best part? Anyone can be a leader. All it takes is the courage to stand for what’s right and a voice to be heard.
If you see bullying in your organization, don’t be afraid to speak up or offer a hand to those in need. Be a leader. You might have a greater impact than you realize.
10 / 18 / 2013
As children we’re encouraged to live by the golden rule. Whether it’s sharing toys or minding your P’s and Q’s, we spend the early years of our life and education learning to be a team player and respecting others.
But lately it seems we are rewarding bad behavior.
Grumpy Cat just signed an endorsement deal with Friskies’s, Simon Cowell made $95 million last year, and Oscar the Grouch has held the same job for 44 years despite his personality.
Why the sudden uptick? I blame social media.
Browse Facebook, Twitter or a news outlet message board and you’ll likely see a flurry of narcissistic, bullying comments directed at any number of public or private figures. It’s hard to tell if people are interested in exercising their First Amendment right, or hoping the right person will see the comment, send it viral and bring them one step closer to the new American dream — 15-minutes of fame.
This isn’t a new phenomenon (the first case of cyber bullying was tried in 2000), but it’s certainly growing at pace with the acceptance and variety of social media channels for all age groups and backgrounds.
It’s also seeping more and more into the mainstream. Now that everyone has a platform for sharing their personal thoughts, bad behavior isn’t just accepted, it’s rewarded. You too could have a snarky comment broadcast over an episode of The Bachelor!
It’s a thin line between a minor dustup and teary-eyed Today Show mea culpa, so as a public relations professional, it’s good for business. I’m just surprised that in an age when a reputation can be destroyed with 140 characters that more people don’t treat social media like radon.
My parents always taught me not to say anything if I couldn’t say something nice, and I try to follow that mantra in the digital world. For the most part I keep to neutral topics — light on politics, heavy on cat pictures — but even I’ve been roped into a social media maelstrom (i.e. the great Chick-fil-A debate of August 2012).
I realize that harnessing social media would be like lassoing a unicorn, so I’m proposing that we, as consumers of digital media and conversation, take more personal responsibility and follow this matrix before using a social media service:
This is a crucial time in the lifespan of this medium. It’s time to adapt, evolve and lay the groundwork for future advancement. It may feel like it at times, but social media isn’t – nor should be – an area where civility is relegated to the backseat.
Our digital footprint is, for the most part, permanent. That offhanded Tweet from two years ago is actually the proverbial cockroach. It’s not going away and it’s going to show up when you least expect it.
All I’m asking for is ownership and responsibility. I’m not saying the use of this matrix will prevent future social media reputation suicides, but it’s a good place to start.
 Donegan, Richard. “Bullying and Cyberbullying: History, Statistics, Law, Prevention and Analysis.” Available at: https://www.elon.edu/docs/e-web/academics/communications/research/vol3no1/04DoneganEJSpring12.pdf.
9 / 24 / 2013
If you ask me, social media is pretty old news now. We get it. From Pinterest to Google+ to Instagram to Twitter, each platform has significantly changed the way our society functions. But besides the entertainment, news and engagement, have you given thought to how you personally could use social media to enhance your own day-to-day agenda?
In the past couple of months, I’ve taken a second look at some of my favorite platforms to see how they can help me. How can I capitalize on these free tools? Let me show you what I’ve discovered.
Twitter: Your Platform for Customer Service
Recently, I spoke to a friend about a customer service issue I was having. Since I was not getting much help over the phone, she suggested I reach out to the company via Twitter. “Really? You think that would work?” She told me her story…
Holly sent one tweet out about how much she liked the new home energy report from IPL Power. Shortly after, she received a goody bag and handwritten note from IPL thanking her for the kind words. Talk about superior customer engagement – she spoke and they listened!
As a result, she is now a loyal IPL customer and I’m going to utilize Twitter to inform the brands I use when I have a customer complaint or kudos. Not because I want a goody bag, but because I know companies want to hear from their constituents—the good, the bad and the ugly. Wouldn’t you want to know? I encourage you to do the same.
YouTube: Your Platform for How-Tos
Confession. I’m one of those millions of viewers who watch cat videos and other entertaining videos on YouTube for a good laugh. However, recently I’ve been digging through YouTube for other types of videos: hair and beauty tips. That’s right, I’m not really talented in the hair and makeup department—but other people are—and I thank them for posting their “how-to” videos.
Thanks to a YouTube video, I’ve finally mastered the “sock bun” and have shared the video link with several coworkers who wanted to learn, too. If you’re struggling with a “how-to” project, I encourage you to type it in the search bar in YouTube. No doubt, a step-by-step video will appear that will help you master it!
Instagram: Your Platform for Photo-sharing
I love Instagram. It’s turned into my favorite social media platform, taking a front-row seat to Facebook. Scrolling through the images of friends, family and celebrities (I know…I know) gives me a chance to see something through someone else’s eyes.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve found hashtags to be quite useful on Instagram, just as they are helpful on Twitter and Facebook. Being able to search keywords for content that includes the same hashtag takes photo-sharing to a whole new level.
This year, I’ve been planning for my wedding in January and decided to create a unique wedding hashtag that will be shared with guests. The guests can then post their pictures on Instagram with the hashtag for all to see. I’ll look forward to going back to the hashtag to enjoy the memories captured.
If you have a special event coming up, consider creating your own hashtag and spreading the word so you can photo-share as well.
Do you have a unique way you use a social media platform? Do share! I’d love to hear about it.
8 / 19 / 2013
“Do you have a second?” I’m asked this question a lot throughout the day. Granted, the person asking never really needs a “second” because what can really be accomplished in that amount of time? Not much, right? But in doing some research recently, my theory was proven wrong.
In our digital world, a lot of information is being shared fast, really fast. In fact, here are some statistics that show just how much is happening every second:
Every second! These numbers are daunting to me, as I try to understand the digital revolution. But then I think about my own habits, what I do digitally every day (every second of the day), and it all starts to make a little more sense. Whether I’m discussing a rich media ad campaign with coworkers or uploading my son’s first day of school photos to Facebook, I’m now asking the question, “What am I doing today that isn’t digital?”
When you send your next Tweet or post a photo to Instagram, keep these stats in mind, realizing you too are part of this communications revolution.
2013 digital statistics from MistMedia, Dublin, Ireland: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Slb5x5fixk4
3 / 14 / 2013
The use of social media – Facebook, in particular – is a great tactic to cultivate and engage certain target audiences. Often, to gain traction and increase visitors to social media sites, organizations turn to contests or giveaways. What’s better than the possibility of winning an iPad or concert tickets to pull people to your social media sites?
But, before you post that contest and start the promotion, you would be wise to read the fine print – specifically the legal restrictions provided by Facebook. When looking for information on contests, refer to the “Promotions” section of the Facebook usage terms. Although all terms should be read thoroughly, of greatest interest are the following:
Of additional interest is the Offers section, which maintains that an organization cannot run an offer if the product or service was not directly manufactured by the company or if the company is not a merchant for the product.
Remember, all promotions or contests are also subject to applicable local, state and federal laws.
Bottom line: Facebook is a great way to promote a contest or giveaway, but try to keep the functionality of the actual promotion away from social media unless you have a good grasp on the guidelines. That way, you avoid potential pitfalls and drive traffic to your website.
1 / 16 / 2013
Yesterday, Facebook announced a new feature called Graph Search. It takes advantage of Facebook’s existing social graph and allows users to sift through data collected from their friends. Facebook provided examples of the feature including searches for “dentists my friends like,” “music my friends listen to,” and “friends who work in my company and like to ski.”
As with previous major changes to the site, there will be excitement and concern, functionality and friction. Here are a few positive and negative takeaways from the announcement:
1 / 10 / 2013
A group of Borshoffers joined the PRSA Hoosier crowd at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on yesterday to learn the latest digital trend “scoop” from ExactTarget Senior Manager, Content Marketing & Research, Kyle Lacy.
While his presentation was chock-full of statistics and data about digital trends, the key takeaway is content remains king. If you’re not listening to your customer and providing content they want, and better yet, customized for them, you will quickly lose ground in today’s social, multi-channel purchase environment.
Here are a few interesting statistics that can help shape your marketing, social media and PR plans for 2013:
What all of this data means is that digital tools are going to continue to play a significant role in how we shape the way we reach our key audiences. Most notably, for companies that haven’t made the jump to making their site easily accessible via mobile device – don’t wait! Mobile audiences are growing in significant numbers, and if your content isn’t available on their smartphones or tablets, they’ll go elsewhere.
Let us know if you have other digital trends to watch for in 2013. You can check out Kyle’s full presentation at bit.ly/PRSSATrends.
12 / 05 / 2012
The other day, my 17-year-old was talking about something he saw on Reddit. Yes, I was vaguely aware of the social news website (www.reddit.com), but didn’t give it much thought until now. Honestly, I couldn’t get past what appeared to be a jumbled webpage of text. However, digging in a little further, I discovered it had been around since 2005, on the social media timeline somewhere between the founding of the more widely popular Facebook (2004) and Twitter (2006). And earlier this year, the company hired its first CEO.
So, why go to Reddit when I have enough news coming at me all day? Because I can shape the experience on the site. Users submit links to online content or post their own content (a “self” post), which users may vote up or down. As a result, its ranking determines the submission’s position on Reddit’s pages and front page. And I can participate in communities, called subreddits, which form around a common interest. Because I’m a news and information junkie who likes to see democracy in action, Reddit intrigues me.
It most recently claimed to have 47 million unique visitors and nearly 4 billion pages viewed. And President Obama, an early adopter of social media in political campaigns, participated in an AMA (Ask Me Anything) chat on Reddit in August, further pushing the site into the mainstream. Its creators describe Reddit as the “front page of the Internet,” where people go before they go anywhere else. And it’s picking up steam, as people become aware of its ability to build community.
Next year, we might read about a whole new social media experience, and it’s likely you will find out about it on Reddit.
3 / 19 / 2012
While employing social media can be tricky for legal and healthcare professions and other regulated industries, it can be done. Here are five tips to make a case for it:
Once you’ve gone through the process of evaluating the online conversations about your organization and the value of engaging, you’ll be in a better position to make a decision.
3 / 12 / 2012
Facebook has been around for several years now. But for many companies, it’s the newest tactic in their communications toolkit. And just as they were getting used to it, along comes the new timeline to shake things up.
The following five tips offer suggestions that are general, as well as timeline-specific, to help you keep fans engaged.
What about you? Have you had success keeping your Facebook fans engaged that you would like to share with us?