Don’t Play the Social Media Blame Game

Do a Google search on blaming social media and you’ll find over 5.6 million results. They range from social media being blamed for your bad mood to the 2011 London Riots being blamed on social nets. Social media is an easy punching bag because it’s still relatively “new” in society.

Social networks have taken the world by storm. First, it was a fad, then it was emergent and, finally, mainstream. Many people and organizations are on board with using social. While social is widely hailed as helping to transform the way we communicate, it’s become somewhat of a target or crutch when someone needs to place blame.

The latest “blame social media” incident was during the July 16 MLB All-Star Game in Minnesota. St. Louis Cardinals’ pitcher Adam Wainwright clearly grooved a fastball to retiring New York Yankees All-Star shortstop Derek Jeter in the first inning. Wainwright admitted it in a separate interview and was flamed on Twitter. He then backtracked in a dugout interview with Fox Sports’ Erin Andrews.

“Don’t you love social media…,” Andrews was saying tongue in cheek to Wainwright. He replied, “No, I don’t love social media.”

While this isn’t the most egregious violation of blaming social media, it is an example of the lengths people will go to place blame on social media for their own mistakes. Wainwright blaming social for his own error is akin to me blaming my kids You-cant-handle-the-truthfor not making dinner when I said I would in the first place.

Social media has become the punching bag for those that don’t really understand how powerful social is today. In this day and age, you need to fully grasp that your words and actions are magnified by social. Something that use to be a benign comment can be overblown very quickly. It’s not all social media’s fault; be responsible for what YOU do and say. Here’s how.

  • Don’t use social as a crutch- “I didn’t mean to post that,” “If I didn’t have a Twitter account, I wouldn’t do things like this,” or “Social media didn’t get my sarcasm,” are crutches that you need to throw away. They are excuses. You and you alone have the power to control your actions and virtual words. Period.
  • Understand what social can do for you- Social media is responsible for something of the biggest news events becoming bigger. Remember U.S. Airways Flight 1549? What about the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound that netted the Al Qaeda leader? These are examples of how social has changed news reporting, gathering and dissemination. It’s also become the place where brands make major announcements. With great power, comes great responsibility. Social media is a great responsibility.
  • Know your role- The more you understand how social works, the better off you will be when using it. If I post something and someone takes it the wrong way, that’s on me. I didn’t explain it well enough in 140 characters, or clearly in a Facebook post. Just because you don’t have a blue stamped check mark next to your name on Twitter or have a million followers on Facebook and Instagram, does not mean you aren’t being listened to closely. Your role in social media is a big one, whether you believe it or not. Appreciate what social is and what it has become.

Facebook is ten years old, Twitter is only eight years old. That’s still very young. However, social media has come a long way in that time. You need to understand that before you go placing blame on a social network for your words. Be better with social and you’ll appreciate the benefits.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Guest Post: What I Wish I Knew Going into College

A nearby conversation caught my attention during a recent subway ride. Three gents were talking about starting their freshman years of college. My initial thought was, “Lucky.” After that, I got to thinking about how I was feeling at their age about my upcoming new life chapter.

Don’t take anything for granted. People say your time at college will be the fastest four years of your life. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but time only gets faster when you leave the bubble that is college and enter the “real world”. Go out on a Tuesday night. Skip a class to enjoy time on the quad with friends. (But don’t make a habit of it – as a “student always” words cannot express my jealousy for not being able to go into a classroom daily. Take full advantage.) Choose courses for a reason. And then throw in some for the heck of it. Read the class assignments not because you have it, but because you can see how it will benefit you.

Leave behind your comfort zone. As someone who took her sweet time adjusting to life at college, I urge you to jump inOff-to-college without any reservations. College is the most ideal time to work really hard, play really hard (sorry parents) and fail more times than you’d like to count. You have your entire life ahead to be a professional – now’s the time to try, fail and give that whole trying thing another go.

Contribute to the community. Donate to a cause. Host a fundraiser. Chalk the quad. Join a club. Start a club if they don’t have what you’re looking for. Introduce yourself to someone new in class. Write an opinion piece for the daily newspaper. Run for student office. Do something to get involved.

Take road trips. Visiting my friends on their campuses created memories that we still laugh about to this day. Make sure some of those trips bring you home to Mom and Dad. Aside from the perks like free laundry and home-cooked meals, you will find that your conversations with M&D have reached a new level. You’ll appreciate them even more and your relationship will only improve with age.

Create a loose life plan. There will be plenty of time for tailgates and nights out, but it is important to remember that college is not forever (sad, right?) and you will need to land a job one day. You don’t need to know exactly what you want to do when you grow up – I certainly didn’t at your age. Internships, job shadows and informational interviews will offer you great insights into the working world. Instead of focusing on the title/department, I looked for companies I thought I would look forward to going to every day…knowing that the workload would inevitably interest me.

To the college kids, what questions do you have? To everyone else, what did I miss?

Flo 3

 

Stephanie Florence is a 20-something who can talk to a brick wall and dance to a kazoo. She contributes to the 40:20 Vision as the Millennial Editor and on every day that ends in “y” you can find Stephanie meeting people, telling exceedingly long stories and taking the approach of a student…always. Find her dancing around New York City in her personalized Chuck Taylors, complete with her Twitter handle: @StephanieFlo.

 

Guest Post: Why Your Company Needs a Social Media Policy

[Jas' note: I'm glad to have my friend Ben Butler provide a guest post on a very important topic]

The company handbooks given to new employees nowadays seem to be getting thicker and thicker. Unfortunately, it seems that one potentially brand-crippling area is neglected—social media.

Here’s why your company needs to add a social media policy to its employee handbook:

It Clarifies Expectations

Your company may not be on social media, but I can almost guarantee that your employees are. You should never assume that your employees will represent themselves or your company properly. In fact, it often seems that some people forget the standard rules of engagement when they’re online.

Establishing a social media policy puts all of your expectations in one, formalized place. This will help you explain what behaviors are discouraged and even what could get someone fired.

Some of the topics you may want to cover include: best practices for discussing the company, what company topics are social-policyrestricted (confidentiality concerns), venting about customers, racist comments or posting inappropriate photos.

It Helps You in Times of Crisis

Remember Justine Sacco?

The former director of corporate communications for IAC Tweeted, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get Aids. Just kidding. I’m white!” before getting on a plane. Not only did her Tweet created a personal crisis for Sacco, but it suddenly created one for IAC as well. Sacco’s rank in the company immediately attached them to the chaos.

Because they knew how to handle employee conduct in the digital realm, they were able to quickly and properly react by denouncing her comments and publicly firing her before she even landed in Africa.

It Can Enhance Your Company’s Brand

It’s difficult to control exactly how and when your employees talk about your company, but it’s wise to add a best practices section to your social media policy.

Sometimes employees want to share the news, but are unsure how to do so. Be sure to provide examples of how employees can advance your company’s brand on social media. It also probably wouldn’t hurt to include stories like Sacco’s so that employees know what happens when social media is used incorrectly.

How has your company used a social media policy?

profile-ben-300x300

 

Ben Butler is the founder and president of Top Hat IMC, an integrated marketing communications firm in Wexford and Pittsburgh, Pa.

The JourneyCast Podcast: Stephanie Wonderlin

When you hear the words “Twitter Powerhouse,” you may think of a brand like Mercedes Benz or Starbucks. But, you’d be wrong. The Twitter Powerhouse we are referring to is Stephanie Wonderlin. Not only is Stephanie a passionate user of Twitter (@swonderlin), Facebook, and Instagram, she is also one of the savviest people on YouTube. Whether it is AboutSWTweetheartTV, being a social media corespondent, or working on her own new segments, titled “It’s a SWonderful Life,” Stephanie has proven time and time again that not only is she one of the most talented people on social, she’s also one of the kindest.

In this edition of The JourneyCast Podcast, I talk with Stephanie about her career, so far, how she has had to adjust her brand, what “lean in” means to her, and  how she balances her busy home and work life.

The JourneyCast Podcast, Episode 8, with Stephanie Wonderlin.

You can find all of Stephanie’s links by going to her website.

Subscribe to The JourneyCast Podcast and don’t miss an episode. We’re listed on iTunes, so you can listen in the car, while you’re working, or even working out!

 

Tuesday Tip: Valuing Yourself as a Pro

Whether you are in public relations, marketing, advertising, or social media management, it is important to understand just how valuable you are. Why? It could be the difference between a potential client understanding your worth and not being valued.

In today’s Tip, I explain the importance of value as a professional.

 

 

What are your thoughts? Weigh in by leaving a comment or sharing one on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.

The JourneyCast Podcast: Michael A. Brown, Sr., Ph.D.

Over a year ago, Michael Brown, Sr. reached out to me and asked if he could use one of my blog posts in his upcoming book. It was flattering to be asked, since I’ve never been included in a book, and I agreed.  Fast forward to April 2014 and that book is now out. Michael is the co-author (along with Tracy Schario, APR) of the book, “Social Media 4EVR: Identifying, Achieving, and Nurturing Social Capital.” 

MikeBrownWebsiteIn this edition of The JourneyCast Podcast, we discuss Michael’s career, his unique skill set, and why the book is important for new and experienced pros.

The JourneyCast Podcast, episode 7- Michael A. Brown, Sr., Ph.D. 

You can find Michael on Twitter, @MichaelBrown76

Let me know your thoughts on the podcast and leave a comment below.

You can also subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.

Tuesday Video Tip: Planning

“Plans are nothing. Planning is everything.”- Dwight D. Eisenhower 

Planning is part of our fabric as public relations pros. We make sure that clients have planned for an event, roll out, or social media campaign. In today’s Tip, here are a few ways you can be better planners.

How do you go about planning your day, your tasks? Let me know in the comments.

It’s Good to Be The Marvel Brand

“‘I am Iron Man”. You think you’re the only superhero in the world? Mr. Stark, you’ve become part of a bigger universe. You just don’t know it yet.” – Nick Fury, Iron Man

The above quote by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) in the first Iron Man film was very prophetic. In fact, it actually set into motion a series of monumental successes for Marvel Studios. When Iron Man pulled in $98.6 million on its opening weekend, it not only guaranteed a second Iron Man movie, it put the wheels into motion for the greater Marvel movie Universe.  Box office hits since Iron Man? “The Incredible Hulk,” “Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Thor,” “Iron Man 2,” and 2012′s “The Avengers” has marketers excited and movie goers giddy for the follow-ups.

What about the X-Men and Spider-Man trilogies, the rebooted Spider-Man (The Amazing Spider-Man)? All good films, but none had the brand impact that the Avenger member films did.


The first Iron Man’s worldwide success, rocketed not only Marvel’s brand back into the stratosphere, it put Robert Downey, Jr. back in the limelight, too. Marvel (and director Jon Favreau) took a very big risk with Downey, who was coming off a pretty rocky few years. Now, when you think Robert Downey, Jr., you think Tony Stark. marvel studios logoDowney and Marvel aren’t too unhappy with that fact.. and that’s not bad thing for a brand.


What else is Marvel doing right as a brand? Here are a few examples:

In the last five months, Marvel has seen Thor: The Dark World rake in over $206 million at the box office and now Captain America: The Winter Soldier is setting records. As of April 21, it has been number one for three straight weeks, adding over $200 million (and counting) to Marvel Studios’ coffers.

Marvel’s brand is as shiny as Captain America’s shield. That’s something Stan Lee would say “Excelsior” to!

What I learned from Illinois State PRSSA

Me with some of my new friends at Illinois State University.

Me with some of my new friends at Illinois State University.

A few weeks ago, I was absolutely thrilled to visit the campus of Illinois State University and it’s nationally recognized PRSSA chapter. The visit was part of “March Brandness,” an extension of my CEO of You talks I’ve held via Skype and at various conferences.

This talk wasn’t something that was thrown together by ISU PRSSA, it was months in planning. It started back in December of 2013, when Hailey Lanier reached out, followed by Marrison Worthington, the chapter’s president and vice president, respectfully. After Skyping in to a chapter meeting (and getting jealous about the Jimmy John’s they were eating), I was able to see why they have been recognized as an award-winning group. When it was finally time for my visit, I was treated to, frankly, some of the more professional students and future pros I’ve ever met.

Here are three things I, ultimately, learned from my visit and being a Redbird for a day.

Proper Planning- From the moment I gave the thumbs up to visiting the campus, ISU PRSSA shared ideas on promoting the talk via email, Skype, and phone conversations. Planning is a key component of any successful event. If you haven’t planned for every possible contingency, something will go wrong. In this case, chapter leadership thought of everything. From transportation to campus visits, ISU PRSSA even gave me an itinerary of what the day would look like from the minute I landed to the day I left.

The Value of Mentors- One my first stops on campus was Fell Hall (the mecca of ISU’s Communications program). It was there I was introduced to, among others, Dr. Pete Smudde and Tom Lamonica. After talking to both gentlemen, I realized why the students held them in such high regard. They have taken a vested interest in the education and development of these students. They have helped to shape the future careers of many of the chapter members. Both also stressed the importance of the March Brandness event. Every student needs a mentor to give them support, honesty, and advice when necessary.

Show Off Your Surroundings- When I landed, I was greeted by Marrison and Hailey at the airport. Both ladies gave me the lowdown on Normal, Ill., including what businesses were based there, as well as a great understanding of the ISU campus. I was given a great tour by both ladies and then was joined by Ali Seys, who discussed the unique food truck, Two Blokes and a Bus. From there I was treated to lunch at the Pub II’s, with its outstanding cheese balls (and members of the e-board) and Sugar Mama Bakery’s delicious cupcakes. I felt as if I had been to campus and surrounding Normal before, thanks to how well the group educated me and helped me understand this great area. It also proved to me that working and living in a town or city is more than just saying, “I live in XX.” You should know as much as possible about your surroundings. It could come in very handy.

Ultimately, this trip also proved to me how outstanding PRSSA is. I’ve spoken to many chapters and students over the years; I have never, ever been disappointed in the passion, drive, and dedication each of these student show. Case in point, on April 9, it was announced that Illinois State’s PRSSA chapter was awarded a Pacersetter for the month of March 2014 from PRSSA National because of how well March Brandness went. I could not be more proud to have been part of such a great event with great people.

Big thanks also go to Ryan Smart, Melissa Fortes, Abby Brennan, Shelby Ray, and the many other great members that made this trip so memorable!

Learn more about Illinois State’s PRSSA Chapter by checking out their website.

 

 

Crisis Preparedness: Will you be ready?

[Jas' note: I'm happy to welcome Samantha Dickson to the blog with a timely guest post.]

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 9.05.53 AM
Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 9.11.18 AM

A quick glance at the headlines of any newspaper will tell a company that they should always expect the unexpected. Yet still, companies fail to realize the importance of preparation. I’m referring specifically to crisis management.

As PR professionals, we recognize our role within a company. We also see the value of our position when we are prepared for a crisis before it even strikes. So what happens when this forward thinking isn’t present? Negative brand reputation, drops in stock price, and loss of investor trust, just to name a few.

With such negative impacts on a company, it’s hard to imagine that some CEOs will still assume “Oh, that will never happen.” Sadly, it can, it will and when it does, you better be prepared. This is where the public relations role, and corporate communication position is of extreme value within a company.

Outline company threats.

In order to be prepared, a company needs to begin to analyze potential areas where a threat could arise. It is extremely important to understand your industry and what could be a problem for your company or client.

Crisis Planning.

Taking the threats that you’ve outlined above, the next stage would be to strategically plan how to deal with the crisis. This might include identifying your stakeholders, potential solutions, and how to work on brand recovery once the peak of the crisis is over.

Develop pre-crisis communication material.

It is imperative to have audience messages and material ready to be disseminated. If you can identify a large threat that will impact your company or client, develop some material that can be tweaked should the crisis occur. It is better to have something prepared than nothing at all. This might be the shell of a press release, a prepared tweet if it’s social media related, or a letter from the CEO. If you have this material in advance, you’re able to act more quickly in the moment of the crisis.

The brands that are able to recover from a crisis are the ones that have a plan in place. The key takeaway is to do your research. If a crisis does occur, take the time to do a post-analysis on implementation and effectiveness. It is important to see what worked, what didn’t and ways to improve in the future.

SamDickson

 

Samantha Dickson recently graduated from Queen’s University in Kingston, ON with a B.A. in Political Science. She is currently a graduate student at New York University in Public Relations and Corporate Communication. In her spare time, Samantha writes for her blog One Heel Ahead, provides freelance communication services and loves to travel.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,208 other followers