Monday, October 24, 2011

5 Key Elements of Social Media Success

Each month, people spend the equivalent of 1.3 million years on Facebook. That’s a lot.

But it’s no wonder: we spend a lot of time on Facebook and other social media because we can do a lot – stay in touch with family and friends, stay up-to-date on news and, for many businesses, stay in front of customers and prospects.

For B2B marketers, however, there are still many questions about what to do with social media and how to do it. Fortunately, answering many of these questions – on best practices, strategies, etc. – was the mission of the recent PR + Social Media Summit (#PRSMS) I attended at Marquette University.

The all-day summit featured 15 sessions jam-packed with valuable information, but here are five of the most interesting takeaways:

1. Content remains key. You need to share valuable content with an honest, transparent voice in order to build an active community that fuels conversation and growth. Make it fun, honest, relevant and valuable. Look for stories that are happening within your organization – stories that your audience can’t find anywhere else – and tell them in a unique way.

2. Social = listening. As much as you need good content, you should still listen more than you talk, answer more than you promote, and above all else, provide value. Listen to answer this question: What does my audience need, and how can I help?

3. Not everything happens online. Develop offline elements to your social programs. Get your teams out in the field to interact with your audiences.

4. Think long term. The greatest value of social media is the ongoing relationship, not the initial interaction.

5. Represent the whole organization. To be effective, social media has to be integrated across all functions to effectively communicate your key messages and address customers’ questions or concerns instantly.

What ingredients do you think are necessary for a recipe of social media success? Ultimately, social media engagement is about proving your value, so audiences will share positive interactions with their networks, encouraging others to turn to you for similar business solutions.

For further reading, you can review some of the summit speakers’ presentations at

Monday, October 10, 2011

Selecting the Right Spokesperson for Your Organization

[HINT: It doesn’t have to be someone from the C-Suite]

Consider this: how long does it take you to form an opinion of someone?


OK – pencils down. What’s the answer? Just one-tenth of a second, according to Noeleen McGrath, award-winning journalist and founder of McGrath Communications.

That’s why it’s important to select the right spokesperson for your organization. With that in mind, the Southeastern Wisconsin PRSA chapter invited McGrath to present at its most recent luncheon on how to choose the right “face” or “voice” for a company.

So what should you look for in potential spokespeople to create that desired first impression? The decision should be based on three elements: message, audience and experience. What message do you want to communicate, to whom, and what experience is necessary to support that message?

While typical spokespeople tend to be CEOs or other C-level executives, they’re not always the right fit. After answering the questions above, the right spokesperson should meet the following criteria:


While it may sound shallow, the truth is that looks matter. By nature, people want to listen to attractive individuals. That said, it’s important to wear the right outfit on camera. After grabbing someone’s attention, you don’t want viewers to lose your message due to distractions (e.g., a lot of accessories are a no-no). McGrath suggested wearing bold, solid colors, which film well on screen.

Confident, trustworthy & knowledgeable:

You want someone who can stay cool, calm, collected and comfortable in front of the camera, which comes through with confidence and knowledge. As a spokesperson, it’s important to never get emotional or aggressive. Once you expose your emotions, you leave yourself vulnerable to providing poor responses to other questions.


Again, it’s important to remember that not everyone is fit for the job. Therefore, cast a wider net within your organization and find “average joes” who can relate to your specific audience. Establish trust by finding someone who can connect with them on a more personal level – do they have kids, live in the same community, or participate in similar activities?

It’s these three key traits that will gain – and maintain – your audience’s attention, helping to make the right first impression. Aside from these points, what else would you suggest when considering spokespeople?