22 Apr 2010

We live in an “e” world. Is it good or is it bad?

We have e-mails instead of mails, e-zines instead of magazines and e-newsletters instead of newsletters. The list can of course go on and on. The “e” has made our lives easier because with the “e” things are faster.

Another great thing about the “e” is that we can track it no matter where it goes in this entire Planet. We can easily find out who read our e-mail, e-zine and e-newsletter and when.

How effective is this tracking?

This online world includes of course websites and blogs. These can be easily monitored using the free tool Google Analytics. We can see how many people visited the website, where they come from, how much time they spent on our pages and so on.

These quantitative data are however not enough to provide an accurate picture of visits and visitors. Let’s take for example average time spent on website. The higher it is the better. But what if we open a page without reading anything, then go to the kitchen and eat, while at return we just close the window. The average time on the website is high but we have not read a single row. On the other hand, comments are a good way to evaluate a website. Only people interested in what has been written can leave comments. And we can tell who read what.

From a different point of view however it is a bit scary to know that every move we make online can be tracked.

So as a PR practitioner I like the fact that I can track the “e” (even with the downfalls mentioned) to improve the channels for disseminating messages. But as a person (PR pros are humans don’t get me wrong:)) I want my “e” to travel in “peace”….

20 Apr 2010

Can Twitter replace call centers?

Twitter is being used all around the world for personal and business purposes.

PR pros have started to use it for real time and to-the-point media relations. But there are other publics that can be easily reached through this micro-blogging platform. Twitter can be also used for customer relations. From airlines to coffee shops Twitter “bonds” companies and clients.

The question is: can there be a twit center instead of a call center?

It is easy to ask a question and receive an answer via Twitter, isn’t it? Just type the 140-character question and you will receive the 140-character answer. Why bother to call when you can be “enlightened” (this word reminds of one of the greatest professors we had in college - Edu:)) for free? Some companies do have free-of-charge call centers, but there are some which have not.

Using Twitter as "call center" has advantages as well as disadvantages. The good news is clients do not have to listen to the call waiting song until an operator becomes available any longer. Things with Twitter can happen in real time and this is the beauty of it. But real time in this case means human resources. The "many" operators and clients still exist. Luckily we have Tweet Deck, which allows the same account to be handled from more computers. Moreover, lists of people followed can be made. So things can get easy: make lists based on criteria (e.g. geography, fidelity and so on), install Tweet Deck on more computers and let the twitoperators do their job.

We still have to deal with two more issues: character restrain and privacy issues. Asking a question in 140 characters is not an easy job. Nor is answering one. Being to the point might prevent the twitoperator from understanding the problem. Further information means more tweets. More tweets can be difficult to manage.

Then we have the privacy issue. For example if you call the internet provider to ask a question you will have to provide some personal data in order to prove you really are their client. Are we willing to give up our privacy?

What do you think?

10 Apr 2010

Making websites social media friendly

Websites are not a novelty for companies, consumers and PR pros. But from “how to create a website” to “how to adapt the website to the social media reality” there is a step.

While issues such as what kind of background, font, colors to use, how to structure the information on the website, how to attract traffic, what content to publish, and what key words to use in order for search engines to find the website were popular in the past they now remain a common “should do” and other topics emerge.

With social media the requirements for websites change. Among the most important of these is proving USER SHARING. This is in the benefit of both the visitor, who can share useful information with friends, and the company as this sharing assures “positive” visibility. This is because the information on websites is most of the time checked, approved and controlled by the organization.

Visual communication is very helpful in depicting sharing facilities. People are accustomed with logos of Twitter, Facebook and so on. So all companies should do now is to make their websites social media friendly by incorporating these “buttons” onto their websites.

Even though there are websites that have adapted themselves to these online changes, unfortunately there are still many that haven’t. I have to say “their bad” :)

1 Apr 2010

Me, you and Twitter

Although I have been using Twitter for some time now I have used it also for my PR and Technology module in the last month.

I started my Twitter account for my dear friends from college in Romania and further to an online PR training I attended at work. Then I realized it is a good source to get updates on what bloggers, journalists, PR pros, colleagues and so many other do, think and write about.

Before I engaged into Twitter for school purposes I had not used Twitter Deck. Quite frankly it was hard for me to follow all the tweets. Then I installed the Deck and made my lists. This was so much easier.

During the module Twitter provided a good opportunity for me to discuss with my classmates, get inspired for my blog posts, learn about so many things, and make my posts visible. What did I mostly enjoy about Twitter? The fact that so much and very interesting information can be exchanged via it.

I did not used to send links of posts and articles I found interesting on Twitter. But I was encouraged to do so by our instructor Derek Hodge. And the “experience” was rewarding. I got re-tweets even from people I do not know, which demonstrates how fast tweets travel and the global side of this network. It was the first time I got re-tweeted:) Another thing I enjoyed was that my blog posts were sent via Twitter by followers which made them visible to various people worldwide.

All in all, Twitter opened communication doors and new horizons for me. I twitted with everybody, friends, classmates, followers etc, learned about opportunities for personal development and enjoyment, and shared information on various topics.

At the end of the road with my blog I have to say I really enjoyed blogging, I liked the online PR module and I loved to tweet. This however is not a “good-bye” but more of a “new beginning”. I am thinking to continue with the blog and twittering.

Tweet tweet!

31 Mar 2010

Do PR pros speak social media?

There are thousands of PR pros all over the world who speak hundreds of languages. But they do have one language in common: social media. Do they?

Social media has become powerful. That’s a fact.

PR specialists worldwide have recognized the benefits social media brings in the relationship with stakeholders, be they media, customers etc. And now they use all the available tools: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flicker, blogs and so on. So no matter the native language they all speak social media.

Or maybe not...The trend is new and not all PR pros have had the chance to practice social media. Moreover, technology can sometimes raise problems for senior practitioners who are not that computer literate (as Kathryn wrote).

The future looks bright however. Universities provide online PR courses, students are eager to take new media classes, senior practitioners attend trainings, and online communications specialists do their job.

In the end all of us in PR will speak social media no matter the country. Because that’s the beauty of social media: it is global and crosses cultural barriers (among others of course:))

30 Mar 2010

Media relations on Twitter

To tweet or not to tweet with journos? This is the question…

People use Twitter no matter the age, profession, gender. The micro-blogging platform has brought both journalists and PR pros together, while offering the latter the opportunity to do media relations in real time. How come? Well, press releases, interviews, pitches and press conferences can be held on Twitter.


The tweet release is a short press release that only contains the lead - who, what, when, where, why.
Examples of such releases (below) were posted by Cristian Manafu, top blogger in Romania. He calls them “news in 140 characters” (I find the name quite appropriate:)):
• Microsoft organizes a series of workshops in March;
• The forum on Tourette has been lunched;
• Ericsson lunches a competition for students interested in developing applications.


A twinterview is an interview held on Twitter. The advantage of such approach is that journalists get the answers they need in real time (compared to an email interview for example). Moreover, it is time saving because journos do not have to commute to a certain venue (like in the case of face-to-face interviews). The real time issue also applies in case of the readers (followers) who read the ongoing interview.

Check out the first and the second twinterview in the UK.


Pitching stories on Twitter seems to be more efficient from journalists’ point of view (as Jeremy Porter wrote) because:
• It forces PR pros to go straight to the point because of the 140-character limit;
• It allows PR people to learn what a journalist is interested in writing about by following the journo on Twitter, thus eliminating “spam”.


Tweet conferences gather journos and company officials on Twitter and have similar advantages as twinterviewes.

I would say: TWEET. But be cautious, learn how to use Twitter, make sure you follow the right journos and send them appropriate (newsworthy, attractive etc) tweets.

You might be also interested in reading about @MicroPR :)

Interpersonal needs theory applied in social networks in Romania

There is no doubt technology has changed the way we communicate, leaving its footprint on intrapersonal, interpersonal and group communication: from diaries we got to blogs, from letters we got to emails, from telephones we got to mobiles, from meetings we got to online conferences.

Defined, interpersonal communication takes place between two individuals (called a dyad) and has a number of determinants, among which the most important are age, gender, personality, education, occupation, social class and nationality (Rosengren, 2006). Several theories have tried to explain why people engage in communication with one other. Among these there is the interpersonal needs theory, according to which people engage in interpersonal communication to fulfill needs. Schutz (1958, cited in Sammut, 2010) suggests three such needs:

Inclusion – the need to establish identity with others;
Control – the need to exercise leadership and prove one’s abilities (applied in group communication as well);
Affection – the need to develop relationships with people.

Group communication takes place between more people who establish certain relationships among themselves. This type of communication is also influenced by certain variables, just like in the case of dyads.

With social networks interpersonal and group communications have moved online and the needs behind engaging into “relationships” (virtual ones) are changing.

A study conducted by Daedalus Millward Brown provides an insight on why Romanians use social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Hi5, explaining the needs behind engaging into virtual interpersonal and group communication in case of Romanian people (variable considered: nationality).

The results show Romanians use:

• Twitter for problem-solving, personal development, promoting opinions and ideas;
• Facebook for a sense of belonging, virtual entertainment;
• Hi5 for self-promotion.

I find interesting analyzing these findings and Schutz’s proposals from the perspective of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

Whereas in Shutz’s view communication needs are more related to the love/belonging level of Maslow pyramid, in case of social networks and online communication needs are more focused on the esteem and self-actualization levels.

Given the fact that in Maslow's hierarchy needs are fulfilled on levels from bottom to top (which means people reaching esteem and self-actualization needs have already satisfied the love-related ones), we can conclude that with social networks people not only fulfill affection needs but go beyond them. Consequently, the highest peak in terms of satisfying personal needs can be reached with Twitter, Facebook and Hi5, at least in case of Romanians.