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How to Use Social Media for Business, Part Two.

Part One focused on how the Pittsburgh Penguins used more traditional media to contact and acquire their fan base.  This post (which is also the final blog post for my class) focuses on how they’ve integrated social networking to engage their fans.

As I previously discussed, I was drawn into the Penguins via the HBO series “24/7 Pens/Caps: The Road to the Winter Classic.”  After watching that series, I really fell in love with the team and the sport of ice hockey.  Naturally, I liked them on Facebook, followed them on Twitter, downloaded their app for my iPhone, and perused their website.  I became as engaged as I could with the resources I had, and luckily, they provided fantastic outlets to engage their fans.  I have to say, when you’re a fan of the Penguins, you don’t feel like a “fan”.  You feel like you’re part of the team, part of the organization.

Here are a few reasons why:

They strive to connect with fans on many social outlets, but primarily I’ve seen this on Twitter.

If you recall my blog regarding the Main Event and Behind the Scenes, the Penguins use Twitter a lot for their Main Event.  Even though a lot of their tweets will link back to their Facebook page, I almost always get the Tweet in my timeline before the Facebook post.

Their Twitter page doesn’t only provide information, but they provide feedback to their fans.

I tweeted them last year about my birthdate being two of my favorite players.  They actually responded, and quite jokingly!  I was floored that they actually responded to me and the tweet didn’t go unanswered.

They strive to make their fans feel like they are a part of the team. 

Even though the HBO series focused on both teams in the Winter Classic, the Penguins took that idea and created a web series called “In the Room”.  Originally, they posted a 5-10 minutes webisode per week that showed clips of that week’s games, player interviews, and video/audio of mic’d players during the games.  Two years later, this has become a series that airs 30-60 minute episodes on Root Sports Pitt, and has even been picked up by the NHL Network.

in the room doors

This was taken during an amazing opportunity I had to tour the Penguins locker room.

They do a lot of community engagement that the players take part in.

  • They deliver pizza to college students waiting in line to get tickets (I blogged here about the AE Student Rush opportunity they provide)
  • Players frequently do autograph sessions at various locations throughout Pittsburgh, and throughout the year
  • They have a “Skates and Plates” event that is a fundraiser dinner and silent auction.  The players dress in formal wear and serve patrons at the event.
  • They provide a lot of youth programs in the community including hockey rinks, hockey gear collections, and youth development camps that the players host and coach.  This is quite notable since the recent IIHF World Junior Hockey Champions (Team USA) boasted four, yes, FOUR players from Western Pennsylvania.  It is quite uncommon that so many players are from the same state, let alone, the same area.

Along with the above, they have many contest opportunities via text, Twitter, Facebook, and their app.  I’ve blogged about these previously so I’m not going to go into detail here.  But as you can see, they do everything they absolutely can to be engaged with their fans, involved in the community, and they do so quite successfully.

In short, I think that the Penguins have capitalized on not only social networking, but all the right ways to do it successfully.  They use the platforms that best allow them to engage and interact with their fan base and the community, and don’t try to use the ones that will hinder their efforts.

I am sure that other platforms are incredibly successful for other types of businesses: Instagram, Vine and Pinterest are perfect for people who provide tutorials, recipes, or any other step-by-step information.  But in the case of Penguins, and other sports organizations, those sites may not be as useful.

I will close with this:  When I had the opportunity to tour the Penguins locker room, I was able to talk with the VP of Communications, Tom McMillan.  He was born and raised in Pittsburgh, went on to become a sports journalist in Pittsburgh, and has worked for the Penguins for over a decade.  The Penguins are his passion, the city is his passion, and he’s been able to work with that passion.  One of the things he said to me was that the organization has been successful because of their willingness to utilize social networking, and having incredible community engagement.  The organization’s community involvement is there because it’s important to them to give back to the community that has supported them through the past 43 years.  I know that the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Pirates do the same.

Pittsburgh is a sports town.  People live for sports there, and they bleed black and gold.  All of their professional sports teams boast that they have “fans that travel well”.  Sure, those fans may actually travel to away games, but generally, they have fans all over the country.

I want give you an idea of how successful their sports teams are in engaging and acquiring lifelong fans.  Whether or not you personally know me, you know that I bleed black and gold.  The first question anyone asks me after talking sports is if I’m from Pittsburgh.  The answer?  No.  I’ve been to the Steel City three times in my life.  But I’ve fallen in love with it simply because of the sports teams and culture there.  The genesis of my lifelong love was the Penguins.  Their organization has impacted me on many levels, from the moment I became a fan, I knew what I wanted to do with my life.  I want to work for the Pittsburgh Penguins, and provide the opportunity for others to fall in love with the organization just like I did.


It’s amazing really, how a few tweets and webisodes created a lifelong commitment to a sports team.

Now that you know what kind of an impact social media can have on your brand, what are you going to do to make people fall in love with you?


How to Use Social Media for Business, Part One

This will be part one of my final blog post in relation to this semester’s online course.

The gist of my class this semester has been how to successfully utilize social media platforms to expand your brand. I focused a lot on the Pittsburgh Penguins because that was the organization that I could relate to the most easily.

Fun Fact: Before I became a Penguins fan, I had no direction for my career path. Absolutely none. I was a non-traditional student; I took classes part time and worked full time. It took me 11 years to get both of my undergraduate degrees. And still, I had no direction. My career path at the time was general administrative work in cancer and neurological research. Those types of research are incredibly important to me, and I liked that I could contribute in a way that didn’t require me to slice up animals or play with chemicals to do so. But I still felt unfulfilled. When I thought about what my dream job would be, there wasn’t one. I only had ideas of what I might like to do, and those were simply based on high salaries. It was incredibly frustrating to have such a lack of desire for my career. As great as my job at the time was, I wasn’t challenged and I didn’t feel fulfilled- and there was little room for me to grow professionally (or fiscally for that matter). Something had to change. And it did.

Hockey Night in PGH

You may wonder how this transpired. How did watching a team two states away give me professional direction? Simple. By how they interacted with their audience- their fan base. When I saw what they did, how they engaged their fans, I knew I wanted to be a part of that. To share my passion for the team with the thousands of followers out there. For the first time in my adult life, I had a clear, professional goal. And I decided to go for it head on. This is how it happened, and how social media helped get me on the track to my goal: to work for the Penguins Organization.

For those of you who aren’t avid hockey fans such as myself, you may not have heard of a game called the NHL Winter Classic. This game is played every year in an outdoor arena, as a throwback to the origins of ice hockey. Many hockey players learned how to skate, and play, on an out door rink (or pond/lake). This game is a tribute to the genesis of that. It’s authentic. Rugged. And hockey fans love it. This game is very widely publicized on the NHL network, and other sports news networks that air hockey games, but outside of that, it isn’t very well known. This is where traditional and social media combined to generate interest in the game, and expand the fan base. The start? HBO. Yes, HBO, the movie channel(s).

I had no idea that the Winter Classic existed. Until one day in late fall, 2010. I was watching a random show on HBO when an ad featuring the Winter Classic came on. It was called “24/7 Pens/Caps: Road to the Winter Classic”. The series contained 6-8 episodes of behind-the-scenes interviews, practices, game content for both of the teams, in the weeks leading up to the Winter Classic which aired January 1, 2011.

And just like that, I was smitten with the Penguins. In the coming months, I became obsessed with learning as much as I could about the players, the team, and the sport of ice hockey. This is where social networking really sealed the deal for me. Not only had I found a real interest in a sports team, but I had found what I wanted to do in life. The HBO series got me intrigued, and the Penguins social networking strategies made me a lifelong fan, and is the catalyst to knowing what I want to do in life: Social Media Marketing and PR.

Are You the Main Event, or Behind the Scenes?

I want to do this blog post on the challenges to overcome with having too many social networking channels to communicate your message, and how to better organize thoughts and processes when deciding which outlets are best for you and your brand/product. Before starting my class this semester (Managing Online Public Relations), I was already pretty comfortable using various social networking platforms. I’ve had a Facebook account since 2006 and I started Twitter about a year later; I’ve generally been on the front end of emerging social media outlets. However, I feel like the past two years have shown a huge increase in start-ups trying to outdo what Facebook and Twitter have so beautifully accomplished. For instance, Myspace tried to recreate itself, to no avail. Google+ seems to be slowly catching on, but I think it’s an afterthought, not a primary resource for social networking. I have a Google+ account by default since I use their email, but I don’t use the “plus” features simply because absolutely no one I know uses Google+, and especially not any of my social interests like music and sports. I really don’t see it going anywhere- I equate it to Lync on Microsoft Outlook. If everyone you are affiliated with is on it, then you use it. But I only use Lync professionally, and save the other stuff for my personal life. So… Yeah.

Well, this is where other successful platforms enter the scene: Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube. Pinterest of course, fulfills my more ambitious self: the one who thinks she’s incredibly crafty, but generally fails miserably in her attempts (Unless it’s baking. I’m pretty fantastic at baking).

YouTube is what I term the “catch-all” for my interests and fanaticism: I will recall an amazing hockey play from a recently watched game and search for it on YouTube. Two hours later, I’m watching videos of animals bouncing on trampolines and then I delve into fashion and beauty bloggers. Time is sucked away into the vortex that is YouTube which is the primary reason I rarely visit the site when I don’t have time to waste. I know I can’t resist the wonderful black hole that will suck me in for all of eternity. (It’s also a dangerous place to be when procrastination takes hold while “researching” videos for my blog posts. Note to self: Create time blocks specifically for YouTube research to stay on track…)

Instagram is sort of the lazy version of Facebook for me. “Oh hey, I can be mildly interested in what my friends are doing without actually having to put in a lot of effort. Awesome.”

But, back to my original thought, yes, I do think that it’s easy to not only become overwhelmed with all of the social media outlets in the world, but also to fail miserably when you don’t capitalize on the right platform for your business.This is why I have decided to break down social networking to what I think contains two parts: The Main Show, and Behind the Scenes.

The Main Show is exactly what it sounds like: it’s the platform you use to market yourself. The face of your brand. It is YOU, front and center. This includes Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. These platforms are the main event, the main account that you use to get your message out there. (I will discuss Vine in more detail as well in a bit).

Behind the Scenes is again, exactly what it sounds like: it’s the platform that houses the bulk of information and does the brunt of the work. These platforms include YouTube, Flickr, Imgur, and product/business/brand websites. The Main Show platform gets you interested, and the Behind the Scenes gives you what you want.

Here are some examples to illustrate:
Pinterest is a great site for craftiness and recipes. Martha Stewart and Lauren Conrad have great success using Pinterest to generate snapshots of their projects that would link back to their website for the step-by-step process, or YouTube for the video. I wonder how Martha created that amazing cake? Click on the photo and it directly links you to her website.

Instagram is the social version of Pinterest. Not only can you network with your friends and family to stay in touch, but you can follow your favorite celebrities, sports teams, and even food chains and bloggers. One of my favorite bloggers, Emily Schuman from Cupcakes and Cashmere, uses Instagram to capture a daily moment, in conjunction with her daily blog posts. “Oh look, a pretty manicure. I wonder how she did that?” How convenient that she’s provided a link in the comments/description that links to her blog. You go to her blog, and bam! There’s a video (from YouTube) showing the how-to of the manicure.

Facebook Honestly, I feel a little silly explaining how Facebook can integrate all of these things into one, but I have to remember that not everyone out there is as Facebook savvy (or addicted…) as I am. I will resort to my beloved Penguins for this example. The Pittsburgh Penguins have a Facebook account. They post photos from games, of players at practice, of player updates, of sweepstakes, pretty much everything related to the organization and promoting it. They post a photo of a promotional sweepstakes to win prizes for fan appreciation week. You click on the link in the description of the photo and it takes you directly to their website that is hosting the sweepstakes. You enter to win, and go on your merry day. Again, Facebook is showing the main act, and when you click the link shown, the website is doing all the grunt work.

Last but not least…

Twitter I saved Twitter for last because well, I think it’s the best option out there for marketing to your particular market, regardless of your business venture. Because it is 140 characters or less, information is forced to be concise and streamlined, and many other sites have been created to help make that easier (I love you,, a link shortener). Back to the Penguins example illustrated in the Facebook description: The Penguins Twitter account says, “Hey #Pens fans! We want to show you our appreciation during Fan Appreciation Week! Click here to learn how to win tickets www.”. Look at that- 24 characters and you have your message out there. Click the link, and it can either link you to the Facebook page if the contest is there, or to the Penguins website if the contest is hosted there.

Another example that isn’t sports, hobbies or celebrities, but food… Starbucks. Starbucks is hosting a “Frappucino Happy Hour” from May 3-12 from 3-5 p.m., all Frappucinos are half off. They tweet it out, and BOOM. Instant retweetdom ensues. Note: Frappucinos are especially loved by tween-teen-agers. Who are addicted to Twitter. I think we’ve found the perfect marriage of social networking and clientele here. But yes this time, instead of clicking a link to get information, it’s all there, it’s 2:55 p.m. on May 5 and you head to your local Starbucks to get in on the action. This particular example doesn’t really encompass the behind-the-scenes-ness of the subsequent posts they have on their website, Facebook and Instagram pages, but it definitely shows the instant gratification when you have the perfect storm of product, marketing strategy, and clientele.

Lastly, I wanted to touch on Vine. I’ve not personally used Vine, but that’s because I haven’t had many opportunities to video a snapshot of something I’m doing. I recently did the Spartan Sprint, but decided to forego destroying my iPhone for a six-second promo of my struggles and conquests. For the record, I have some gnarly bruises from the race. Totally worth it. But to provide a specific example of when I think Vine can be used as a great Main Event platform: Joy the Baker (one of my favorite bakers!) might have a blog on how to make an amazing iced tea or other refreshing beverage, just in time for summer (yes, she does more than just baked goods). She creates a six second video of her blending some random things together, ending with her wearing shades, sitting on the deck with a beautiful sunset in the background, sipping the delicious looking beverage in her hand. I’m salivating just thinking about this imaginary Vine video I’ve created on behalf of Joy! See what I mean? It’s the video version of Instagram- quick snapshot to get your attention, and then bam! Takes you to the “Behind the Scenes” platform to show you the process.

Bottom line is this. Find what outlet works best for you and your brand/product/business, and capitalize on it. Figure out what your target audience will respond best to. Starbucks hit the nail on the head with their Tweet(s) for the Frappucino Happy Hour and their key demographic. They essentially took out the need for the Behind the Scenes guy and drove their customers straight to their stores (literally!)

Reflections on Social Media and the Impact of Social Media on Public Relations

As I previously blogged, the Pittsburgh Penguins have taken hold of the new wave of marketing and PR: social media outlets. The interview I listened to with President David Morehouse was one of my favorite pieces of media (in small part, I’m sure, because it’s about the Pittsburgh Penguins), and explains how the organization jumped onto social media use as part of their marketing strategy. President Morehouse stated that he doesn’t really understand what it is about social networking that gets younger generations excited and engaged, but he doesn’t discriminate, and uses it to it’s fullest advantage to connect with his fans. In the article The impact of social media on public relations from, Nigel Ferrier, director, Optimise PR and executive chairman, stated ,“social media cuts across channels and is all about engaging with individuals, holding conversations not relying on press releases and launches.” Tom Malcolm, head of consumer, Diffusion, said that, “ The rise of social media has also had an effect on media organisations [sic] which are now in search of unique and engaging content which will drive traffic to their websites. This in turn has transformed the role of PR. To feed the media’s growing appetite for engaging content, successful PR campaigns are now increasingly reliant on their ability to create engaging content that people want to share and talk about online.” Both Ferrier and Malcolm highlight the importance of not only connecting with the public, but also how an organization connects with the public. PR focuses so much on strategies, however, this new realm of social networking strategies focuses a lot on engaging with the public, but in a personal way. This is essential because it allows a more personal connection with your audience; when an organization is humanized, it’s much more likely to receive unwavering support (in my opinion, at least). Ferrier addresses this, “companies live and die by their reputation, and since the advent of social networking, they live and die a lot quicker. Consumers look online for information and reviews; last year the Social Media Statistics Compendium found 75% say purchasing decisions are influenced by what they read online…So social media is integral to most PR campaigns in some shape or form.”

As an example, I’ll discuss the most recent NHL lockout. Many hockey fans were understandably irate and angry that there was yet again another lockout. When it was announced that there were serious labor talks presiding, fans were hooked on Twitter; not, but TWITTER, because that was where the breaking news was. Sports journalists were live tweeting press conferences, and it was exciting… until it wasn’t- when the labor talks would end with no progress, or worse, regression. And then, a few short days later, labor talks would resume, and the emotional roller coaster would begin again. Ferrier’s advice is definitely applicable in this situation. He says, “There are huge opportunities [in social media PR], but the 24/7 scrutiny brings new threats, too. The key is to have a strategy: think carefully about the resources you have and how you can keep control of any conversations you begin. Anyone can set up a Twitter account, but you need a strategy to make it a success. If you treat social media as a key part of your PR and wider business strategy you can achieve real business results.”

The NHL and NHLPA would have been wise to heed this advice, but how could they do so? Disallowing media to cover critical labor negotiations would only seem as if they were covering something up, but allowing media pundits to break the news minute by minute wouldn’t provide the “spin” that they desired. As Ferrier advised that “anyone can setup a Twitter” account, the consumer has to be careful about what they accept as real and trustworthy sources. Take “novelty” accounts on Twitter that take hold when something viral happens. One such account I’m sure many people remember was during the presidential debates… Mitt Romney bad-mouthed Big Bird. Within five minutes, there were at least a dozen novelty accounts, and they were gaining massive amounts of followers by the second.

Relative to hockey- during the end of the labor negotiations, there was one specific meeting between the NHL and the NHLPA that stirred up a lot of interest. Talks were happening per the norm when all of a sudden, a reputable sports journalist tweeted that the NHL podium was present in the press conference room. But, there wasn’t an NHL press conference scheduled until the next day. This of course, led to a frenzy of panic, interest, and obsession by many NHL fans. And then, it happened. The @NHLPodium novelty account. The account amassed followers by the nanosecond, as we all needed something to distract us until the real press conference occurred. And after the non-existent press conference occurred (they were, in fact, preparing for the next day), the novelty account lost its well, novelty. I vividly recall joking around with my nhl fan friends on Twitter about the absurdity of the account, and how we all felt a little “duped”, though amusingly so.

Vocus, a PR Software company, discusses the impact of social media in their article, Analyzing the Impact of Social Media: From Twitter to Facebook. They point out that although having a lot of followers and “likes” on Twitter and Facebook is important, the bottom line is still how successful your company is in meeting its goals and bottom line. They state, “with a new world of communications channels opening, determining where to focus your efforts is a challenge in itself. Social media provides the opportunity for PR to impact the entire organization”.

In the wake of the NHL lockout, I’m not entirely certain what could have been done by the NHL/NHLPA to have better marketed their labor talks and progress. Fans were disgruntled simply because of the constant meetings and failed negotiations, and were prepared to relive another non-season, as the last lockout manifested. The thing about social networking, is that it’s a double-edged sword. It clearly allows a wider audience and potential fanbase (in this example), but at the same time, allows for a distraction from the importance of the issue at hand. I mean, look at how successful the @NHLPodium account was when fans were on pins and needles, and quite frankly, ready for any decision to happen. Even if it meant the end of the season.

Reflection on Social Media and It’s Future

This week’s reflection was on three articles:  Jay Rosen’s The People Formerly Known as the Audience, Brian Solis’ blog Social Media as the Next Web, and a Fox News article (I know, I’m sorry…) Users Flee Instagram After Privacy Outcry.  


In 2006, I was one of the very few users who utilized Facebook, and you had to have a college/university email address in order to even use it.  For a couple of years, I was quite the loner on the now-popular social networking site.  The majority of my “friends” on Facebook are people whom I’ve never met.  I can literally trace them all back to one person I actually do know- a friend who was a fellow Communication Studies major.  At one point in time, people looked at me in disbelief, and with a slight sideways glance as if to say, “why are you friends with people you don’t even know?  I told them simply- I like connecting with people with common interests.  In today’s social networking world, it almost seems weird not to interact or be “friends” with people you’ve never met and don’t know outside of the internet. 

 Brian Solis’ blog, “Social Media as the Next Web’ states that, “Most people connect because they know someone in real life or because they share mutual friends…human nature also permeates engagement, albeit at a smaller scale, tying profile photos, attractiveness, and a number of connections to why people decide to connect.”  This is entirely reflective of my experience on Facebook and Twitter.  In the early days of my Facebook use, I connected with people I didn’t know because we had similar interests; Facebook and Twitter were like exclusive clubs. The majority of my 200 plus followers on Twitter are Pittsburgh sports fans.  I am absolutely certain that the two main reasons why I have that many followers are due to our similar interest in sports, and the fact that I’m a woman.  Most of my followers are male, and most of the people they follow are women who are sports fans.  This may not be a true phenomenon outside of the sports-fan-social-networking-world.  I have seen this common theme repeatedly on Twitter.  In fact, Solis provided data that reflected the trends of the quality of a profile photo and a person’s physical attractiveness with the reasons of making a connection.  While women did this 8% and 9% respectively, men did this 10% and 14%; this data reflects my hypothesis. 

 People have a natural tendency to want to connect with one another, and social networking makes it easier to do so in a fast paced world.  I prefer computer-mediated-communication based on the amount of personal time I have to spend with people.  Not only do I work full time, take 6 credit hours, and have other personal interests, but I’m also trying to fit friendships in there.  Today’s average American is infinitely busier than they were 20 years ago.  Solis’ blog contained data that showed a 21% increase in one year alone (2011-2012) of time spent on the Internet; a third of overall social networking time was via mobile apps.  Not only are we connecting with a greater variety of people, but also are doing so more often, and for longer periods of time.  As busy as we’ve become, we’ve resorted to connecting while taking care of personal business- Bolis’ blog stated that 31% of those aged 18-24 use social networking on the toilet.  Either we’re addicted to connecting, or too busy to connect face to face so we’re doing it when we can.  Likely, it’s a combination of both.  Simultaneous social networking and toilet duty (horribly bad pun intended) are fine, as long as you wash your hands and sanitize your phone afterward. 

Not only are we connecting via Facebook and Twitter, but also through sites like Pinterest and Instagram.  Admittedly, I initially hated Pinterest, and still use it sparingly.  I have, however, been very into Instagram, specifically, for the filters.  Instagram has become a new way to document the photographic catalogue of my life, and to see the same from my friends.  It’s much more intimate than seeing status updates on Facebook.  I may obtain more information from Facebook, but Instagram allows me to see the world through my friend’s photographic lens.  Clearly, many other people agree with me.  According to the “Users Flee Instagram After Privacy Outcry” article on, Instagram had 16.4 million daily users at its peak in December, 2012.  However, the same week they peaked their user accounts, they changed their privacy settings and promptly dropped 4 million daily users, to 12.4 million.  The changes were simple, but significant. 

 Instagram’s changes essentially made it possible to profit from its users photos.  This is problematic since it absolves the user of any ownership said user would have of their photographs.  I have many photographer friends, all of whom despise Instagram.  Not because it’s a photo sharing site, but because in their eyes, it enables users to apply filters in a way that distorts the integrity of the photo.  They all fondly call Instagram, Instacrap.  That mentality aside, they do believe in a photographer’s right to own his/her photos, and Instagram’s new policy ripped that essential, basic right away from the photographer, no matter how bad the applied filter made the photo.  Regardless, the outcry was quick and effective.  The article states, “just about the time the hashtag #boycottinstagram popped up on Twitter, Kevin Systrom, the CEO and co-founder, chalked it up to a big misunderstanding and insisted the company had no intention of selling users’ photos. Instagram has reverted to its old policy.

 It’s easy to see how important social networking has become in our daily lives.  I still know people who don’t have a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.  However, they all use at least one of those platforms to communicate and share details of their lives.  Though they may not use all three networking platforms as I do, and in the same way I do, it’s telling just how far reaching the concept of social networking has become.  While I’ve always used it as a way to connect to family and friends I know or don’t know, I’ve also used it as a platform to voice my opinion.  Naturally an opinionated person, there is rarely a time that I won’t share some semblance of what I’m thinking with someone.  My instinct to be both social and opinionated is what has led me into the Public Relations career path. 

 Furthermore, I’ve rarely liked simply receiving information; I’ve always felt feedback is important.  That being said, Jay Rosen’s article “The People Formerly Known as the Audience” was incredibly insightful.  As a Communication Studies undergrad, I was constantly reminded that (paraphrased) “media doesn’t tell you want to think, it tells you what to think about”.   We learned about “gatekeepers” and “agenda setting theory” and “message framing”.  And it all made sense.  There are seven major media conglomerates in the entire world that own every thing you see as a media consumer:  NewsCorp; Bertelsmann; Vivendi Universal; Sony; AOL Time Warner; Walt Disney: and Viacom.  This is why you rarely see any major news stories that detract from mainstream media.  And this is the entire reason why Rosen’s article made sense, and is such an important way to reflect and react on the current state of media in our world.  

Rosen describes it beautifully: “Think of passengers on your ship who got a boat of their own.  The writing readers.  The viewers who picked up a camera.  The formerly atomized listeners who with modest effort can connect with each other and gain the means to speak—to the world, as it were.”  This is where we are in today’s society.  And I love it.  Twitter engages the “writing reader” in me.  And Twitter seems to host the writing readers in everyone else.  This is why some form of the phrase “opinions are my own” is in almost all media pundits profiles on twitter.  Or those aspiring to be pundits or social media managers like myself.  No longer are we expected to simply absorb and retain information, and then discuss it ‘round the water cooler Monday morning at the office.  No!  We absorb the information… Process it… Form opinions, and then tell others about those opinions.  On Twitter.  On blogs.  Even on Facebook.  As Rosen said, “we graduate from wanting media when want it, to wanting it without the filler, to wanting media to be way better than it is, to publishing and broadcasting ourselves when it meets a need or sounds like fun…  You don’t own the eyballs.  You don’t own the press, which is now divided into pro and amateur zones.  You don’t control production on the new platform, which isn’t one-way.  There is a new balance of power between you and us. 

So, how do I define social media, and where do I think it’s headed?  It’s simple, really.  Social media is the platform on which amateurs and professionals have a level playing field- the breadth and depth is as far as one can market oneself.  It is heading into uncharted territory, but it’s providing variety in a way that has been needed in media for quite some time.

Social Media, Cowboy Boots and Penguins: In the Words of Richard Edelman

Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman Worldwide, is a pioneer in emerging social media strategies. As one of the first CEO’s to begin a blog (his in 2004), he well understands the importance of social networking in today’s market. As current technology rockets forward, it’s important to understand and implement some of the key basics, and Edelman is on task. Fortunately for you, I am providing a slideshow of a presentation he gave last June at the Edelman Academic Summit.

Edelman’s presentation can be broken down into three sections:

5 Media Trends to Watch

3 Ways [Moving] Forward for PR

4 Communication Musts

(note: there was a bit more to the presentation, but I found these areas to be the most important to focus on.  You can view the entire slideshow here)

5 Media Trends to Watch

New social giants emerging
; Paid media now amplifies social [media]
; Search is morphing with social [media]
; Amplification now trumps circulation
; Visual storytelling is now in Renaissance.

Specifically, he notes it is interesting how these trends are “key disruptions reshaping how news is produced, distributed, consumed and monetized”. As an unknowing consumer, I see this pattern every day and really don’t realize it.  I wake up, get on Facebook and see an ad in my timeline for “Country Outfitters”. I think to myself, “wtf? I hate everything about country music and clothing. Why am I seeing this ad?!”  So, I do what any rational, analytical person would do…  I click on the link, look around their page a bit (which only confirms my dislike for country/western clothing), and slowly it dawns on me.  I wasn’t facetiously and randomly bombarded with tacky western-wear.  I realize that three of my friends have “liked” an advertisement post by Country Outfitters (and seriously consider the value of my friendship to them, based on their poor fashion choice in cowboy boots).  I then continue scrolling through my feed, responding to notifications, and log off Facebook.  But – I’m still perturbed that I was viciously accosted with that Country Outfitters ad in my timeline; even more so as now it seems to happen on a weekly basis. I felt slightly…violated.

So perhaps I’m being a bit hyperbolic.  I wasn’t physically accosted or violated.  Psychologically, however, you can see how Edelman’s trends are on par with what I experienced. Facebook allows paid advertisements to randomly pop in your feed simply because some of your friends “liked” that advertisement. If you’re unfamiliar with the company, you will then google them to figure out exactly what they are, or better yet, click on their Facebook page (as I dangerously did).  Assuming that I actually enjoy looking like an extra from a 1960’s John Wayne movie, the marketing strategy would have been genius and effective for Country Outfitters.   And let’s not forget about those pesky “sponsored” tweets that show up in my twitter feed.  Statistically speaking, one of these days I will be graced with an ad so perfect that I will have no choice but to blindly “like” their page on Facebook and follow them on twitter.  Let’s hope that it will also be accompanied with swag in exchange for blogging opportunities.

I want to discuss the next two sections of Edelman’s presentation together, as I feel the concepts are related to a fantastic interview I heard last week.

3 ways that PR is moving forward:

Show and Tell; Be Rational and Emotional; and Dig the Data.

4 Communication Musts:

Social Engagement;
Understanding Data;
Emotional Intelligence; and Visual Storytelling.

When I read these concepts, I immediately thought of a podcast I listened to last week by one of my favorite sports writers, Dejan Kovacevic, of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. (Podcast is here).

Kovacevic interviewed David Morehouse, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Penguins.  I’m nothing if not a huge Pittsburgh sports fan, specifically, the Penguins.  I began following the team about two years ago, and was immediately impressed with their social media presence.  Not only did they have a Facebook account, they also were very active on twitter, and they had a mobile app for my iPhone.  Being a Penguins fan in Indianapolis is only problematic when the games are nationally televised (apparently, the Blackhawks are the regional favorites), so occasionally I would miss a few games.  Worry not, as the Penguins twitter account live tweeted the games AND streamed the radio airing via their web app.  I can say with certainty that this made me love the team even more: they catered to the needs of their fans, and I feel that’s incredibly important in the sports world.

Morehouse comes into play, though, as he is the brains behind the media presence brawn.  He was promoted to president of the team in 2007, and his responsibilities included marketing and promotion.  In his interview with Kovacevic, he stated that the most important thing was to promote and enable fan engagement.  He went on to explain that data showed the demographics of their fan base, which was increasing numbers in a younger fan base.  So he decided to market the team in a way that would make sense for fan engagement- social networking.  Though he says that his generation doesn’t quite understand the need for social networking (referenced tweeting in line at Starbucks), he realizes that it’s about what will best draw a fan base that will be involved and support the organization.  As you can see, he integrates the necessities of communicating as well as strategies to achieve successful marketing and fan engagement in the future.

This makes me incredibly optimistic as both a fan and a potential PR strategist.  My dream job is to handle the PR/Marketing communications for the Pittsburgh Penguins.  I realized this dream almost two years ago and have been working towards that goal as much as possible.  It’s refreshing and encouraging to know that as of right now, my potential future employer is already in the direction that PR is going, and it solidifies my passion for pursuing my academic and professional goals are on the right rack as well.