This blog has moved on…

Hi everyone,

I haven’t posted on this blog for a long time, but I’m posting topics similar to what I post here on my (once personal) blog. Check out:

for more updates. I look forward to seeing your feedback and comments there.

Why FriendFeed is Cool

All Web 2.0 applications do at least one of two things:

  1. Create Content
  2. Organize Content

Applications that create content (Twitter, blogs, Flickr) have become so numerous that it is now necessary to organize that content in an efficient manner. RSS has done wonders for syndicating blogs, and there are a large number of ways to organize tweets.

When I first heard of Friend Feed, I saw it as an intuitive way to organize content. Friend Feed’s About page (and some bloggers) tout it initially as the same thing. I like what co-founder Bret Taylor says in an interview on Jeremiah Owyang’s blog about what makes Friend Feed special:

The challenge is that much of the content that is created is noise to many, but signal to very few. You may not care what Michelle eats for dinner, but her immediate sisters absolutely do. With this micro conversations happening on many websites, we need to organize this content not around websites, tools or technologies, but instead …sorted by people.

I’m not so sure if I agree that we need to organize content around people, but it is certainly convenient to organize a feed around what a person, or even an organization, does with social media in one place, especially if I’m doing research on a client for an account. (Or, on an organization on the Internet.)

In my excitement about Friend Feed, I payed no attention to another useful aspect of Friend Feed: “It’s also fast and easy to start discussions around shared items” (taken from their About page). Then I saw this tweet from Robert Scoble about how he would be discussing energy on Friend Feed. No matter where he discussed energy that night, everything he said was aggregated on his Friend Feed page. Much of what he did was available for comment, even his tweets.

In short, Friend Feed pastes the pieces of conversations that Web 2.0 applications tear apart. It helps cut through the noise that applications that produce content can (and often times do) generate. It does it in a way that makes keeping the conversation convenient. And while it’s not the RSS feed to end all other RSS feeds (what about when you want to organize feeds by topics?), it’s darn convenient.

Check out my Friend Feed account.

Be an idea ‘salesman’

I know and have worked with a guy who is amazing at coming up with creative ideas to meet objectives in public relations campaigns. He is, quite literally, an idea generator. In one brainstorming session, he spits out literally hundreds of ideas ranging from completely far-fetched to almost practical. Unfortunately, I was never able to realize his potential in any of my campaigns because he could never convince me that any of his ideas were worth pursuing.

Being able to sell an idea is essential in a public relations campaign for people who want their ideas to play a role in the success of a campaign. Because campaign managers don’t have the time or the money to chase down every rabbit hole idea generators throw at them, idea generators need to convince campaign managers that their ideas are worth investing both time and money in.

This can be a daunting task for idea generators. To idea generators, their ideas work perfectly because they know the “ins” and “outs” of their ideas. However, the idea generators may not communicate their in-depth knowledge of the idea to their campaign managers who do not know the “ins” and “outs” of the idea. This is similar to the ‘curse of knowledge’ concept in “Made to Stick.”

Even after effectively communicating the idea, the idea generator has to be prepared to further defend their idea. A campaign manager may think the idea sounds great, but they will often voice their concerns (which the idea generator may not have anticipated) and expect the idea generator to answer them on the spot or find out the answers later. Sometimes, this means implementing a mock version of their idea on their own time to prove to their campaign manager that their idea is plausible.

Sometimes, idea generators need get their hands dirty and spend the time and effort to produce an example or a plan of action for their idea. This does two things for the campaign manager:

1. It shows the campaign manager that the idea was good enough for the idea generator to put in time and effort to create an example.
2. It provides more answers to the questions and concerns that the campaign manager might have about the idea.

Idea generators who can show that they are dedicated to their idea are more successful at getting their ideas used in campaigns

In most cases, being an “answer man” is a sure way to get ignored. But because campaign managers have thousands of different aspects of a campaign to pay attention to, being an “answer man” in regards to your idea is a good way to increase the chance of having your idea used in a campaign.

Cut Through Twitter Spam

Social media makes it easy to create a visible presence on the Internet for marketers, public relations professionals, and journalists.

And Spammers.

Unfortunately, it seems that spammers have infiltrated Twitter. Every time I update my twitter feed, a different spammer decides that then is a good time to start following me. In order to keep my friend feed clean, I’ve started blocking spammers automatically.

So when Zee M Kane of We Do Creative started following me on Twitter, he was two seconds from being blocked just like any other spammer. But his feed was longer than most Twitter spammers, and he had a good following to follower ratio (2:1 is good; Zane has one of almost 1:1).

I looked through his profile and his tweets and found out that Zee’s company We Do Creative has a branch specifically for public relations. I had a sneaky suspicion that Zee didn’t just add any tweeter who updated more than twice daily. I sent him tweet asking him why he added me, and he tweeted back saying he recognized that he made an effort to add people relevant to his industry.

This caused me to start thinking about effective ways to increase my followers on twitter beyond the obvious ‘Drive web traffic to your twitter feed’ tactics. Here is what I came up with:

  1. Follow a specific audience. Tweeters who have good following to follower ratios don’t add people who are irrelevant to their tweets. If you are in the automotive industry, don’t start adding tweeters who specialize in neurosurgery (unless neurosurgery is important to you, and even if it is, don’t expect them to follow you back).
  2. Don’t ignore @messages or replies. One of the things that impressed me about Zee’s feed was that he responded to both my @messages promptly despite having close to 1,000 followers. Recognizing your followers and responding to them will keep them from removing you from their twitter feed, and in some cases, will inspire them to add you.
  3. Engage your Audience. Go beyond just replying to your audience. Make your tweets interesting to whatever audience you’re trying to build. If you are a tech blogger, link and/or comment on the newest apple gizmo. If you are a coffee shop owner, tweet about a new drink you made. Stay up to date with the latest news in whatever field you specialize in and tweet about it.

Twitter is a powerful way to communicate ideas, but it is only as powerful as the number and type of people you have following you. By adding people who are irrelevant to your tweets, you are guaranteed to be seen as a spammer. Pay attention to who you add and take care of who you add if you want to see your follower count skyrocket.

Stop the (Word)Press revived

After a brief haitus, I’ve decided to revive Stop the (Word)Press.

I started this blog as an assignment for my Advanced Public Relations writing class, but I believe that this blog has created a niche for itself in the realm of social media for public relations. By reading social media website blogs, finding out what other people had to say about social media and by applying my own (limited) experience as a public relations practitioner, I’ve been able to comment on different social media tools, trends, and methods of use in the world of public relations.

While this method worked for my class, I always felt as if my posts were similar to research papers containing only third party research. Through engaging in social media and talking one-on-one with prominent social media users, I’m better prepared to bring original thoughts and comments on social media.

I’m also planning on expanding the scope of Stop The (Word)Press. This site used to be devoted solely to social media, but I also want to make posts based on my (again, limited) experiences managing public relations campaigns.

Keep checking back for updates.

Digg Note # 1: Commenting

One of the best ways to gain rapport on Digg is to study Digg’s culture. A Digg user who has a grasp of the culture will be able to recognize content that is interesting to Digg users and will be able to avoid submitting content that Digg users will dislike. To find out what I’m talking about, visit Digg’s website, click on the world & Business button, and look at the top stories on the right hand side.

Because it is elections season, a lot of presidential candidate news makes it to the “Hot” section (column on the right side of the webapge). You’ll also notice that Digg users tend to like certain candidates (Barack Obama, and formerly Ron Paul) and have a certain distaste for other candidates (John McCain, namely). It almost goes without saying that a story that features John McCain in a positive light, or portrays Barack Obama negatively, will probably not become a popular story on Digg.

Another way to become familiar with the Digg culture is to read the comments on a submitted story. What’s interesting about Digg’s comment section is that users can digg comments the same way they digg stories. To get a feel for Digg culture, look at what people are saying about top ranked stories. Don’t just look at the comments with the most diggs; check out comments that are “buried” (the opposite of “dugg”). After you have a feel for how the Digg community reacts to comments, start commenting on stories (but make sure to either digg or bury the story first, otherwise you’ll lose rapport).

Keep in mind that in order to have a lot of digg users read your comment, you need to comment on a story before it reaches the Top 10 section on the front page. The best way to get people to see your comments is to comment on a story that is in the “Upcoming” section of Digg. If the story gets popular, your comment will appear higher on the page and more users will digg (or bury) it and respond. A comment I posted about a Fox News poll recently got close to 200 Diggs. I originally found the story on the Upcoming section, but it reached the #1 spot on the Top Ten stories list.

When commenting, it is important to clearly communicate your message. I dropped the ball on this one when commenting on a Ron Paul story. I had intended to say that I hoped Dr. Paul would be healthy enough to run for President in ’12, but I made a typo in the original comment that suggested that I hoped McCain would be healthy enough to run again in ’08.

Click on the image for the full size version. My username is Bry0000000.

As a result, my initial comment was dugg down, but after I clarified myself (a little better, but the modified comment was also a little ambiguous), I received some positive feedback.

Update: I changed my widget on the right to display Digg article’s that I’ve bookmarked. I’ll be researching more and posting hte interesting ones as I find them.

Digg This is the epitome of internet democracy. Users submit news stories to the site while other users rank them by “digging” the story. Digging a story is simple; login (create an account if you don’t have one), find a story you like, and click on the “digg” button next to the story. Stories with enough “diggs” will be moved to a column on the right side of the page which features the top 10 “dugg” stories on Digg.

It’s easy to see why companies and public relations practitioners should become familiar with Digg: a story that makes the top 10 column can receive a significant increase in site visits.

While this is a huge opportunity for public relations professionals to bring attention to a client, there are some guidelines they should follow when using Digg:

  1. Do not digg your own content or a client’s content: This is a cardinal sin in the world of Digg. Self promotion is frowned upon by the Digg community and will quickly ruin your reputation on Digg. If you must submit something on Digg on behalf of your client, identify yourself as a public relations practitioner who is digging on behalf of a client.
  2. Make friends on Digg: Digg is a social networking site in that users can link to each other’s profiles and identify each other as friends. Friends are able to see stories that you submit, stories that you digg, and comments that you submit. Of course, you have to establish yourself as a creditable digg user before people will add you as their friend. Do this by digging stories that are interesting to you and making comments that other diggers find entertaining or useful. Digg has its own culture, so what diggers find interesting may be different than what most other social media users find interesting.
  3. Get RSS feeds from popular news sites that cover your beat: If you’re involved in political public relations, you’ll want to subscribe to the Huffington Post, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Fox News (if you research the culture of Digg you will see why Fox is included) in order to be the first to submit breaking news. For technology, subscribe to Lifehacker and Engadget, just to name a few. Subscribe to blogs or websites that talk about what you’re representing as a practitioner, then use your RSS feed to be the first to post breaking news.

There are many different tips and strategies to becoming a power user on Digg. One of my goals is to become a power user on Digg in order to make myself more marketable as a social media professional. I’ll keep this blog updated with my successes and failures in the world of Digg throughout the summer. To find out more about becoming a better digg user, check out my page. I’ll keep updating it as I find new content.

Update: I forgot to post a link to my Digg profile. Add me if you’re on Digg!

What I’ve learned

I’ll be honest: I never thought that I would be able to learn anything new about social media just by maintaining a blog. Having read the previous 12 posts, however, I discovered that before I started this little project, there was a lot I did not know.

I never knew that there were advantages and disadvantages to using Facebook pages over Facebook groups until my blog forced me to think critically about the issue. I would have never thought about the problem that news feed sites such as Digg and Reddit presented in terms of broken conversations, and I would have never guessed that services such as Yacktrack existed to fix this problem. I would have never included blogs such as ReadWriteWeb or ProBlogger in my RSS feeds.

Most importantly, I would have never thought about the impact that social media has and will continue to have on Internet users, and I certainly would have never thought about how social media and the Internet relates to my future career.

In light of this, I believe that I will continue to blog about social media in hopes of learning more about how the Internet relates to us as public relations practitioners and Internet users in general.


Sometimes, a good idea gets ignored because people do not believe the idea is good. Often times ideas that receive attention, however, are ideas that come from creditable sources but are not great ideas (just turn on the television and look at the plethora of un-inspiring commercials from big businesses).

People sometimes assume that an idea can only be credible if it comes from a well established source or if it receives the endorsement of a well established source. However, there are a few ways to maintain an idea’s credibility without coming from a source already endowed with credibility.

  1. Use convincing details. Specific details that are easy to remember will help your idea gain credibility. Find a way to make those specific details concrete.
  2. Make your details tangible. 5,000 nuclear warheads is an abstract concept to most that will not stick. 5,000 BBs dropping on the ground all at once will, even if your audience doesn’t remember 5,000 specifically.
  3. Think of Frank Sinatra’s famous lyric: “If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere.” Pick the most difficult situation that your idea will encounter and show that your idea can succeed there.
  4. Allow your audience to test your idea. Give them a way to sample your idea at no risk to them.

‘Above the Influence’ commercials, which are designed to keep teenagers and young adults off drugs, have almost no credibility. Target audience members either don’t recall the ads whenever they air, or they don’t pay attention to them.

But consider this: An ad shot by a person using a hand held camera who attends a party where drugs are being consumed. The attendee walks into a back room where two or three teenagers are preparing to inject themselves with methamphetamine. The camera records one of the teenagers injecting himself… only for the teenager to overdose. It’s a way to present a convincing, tangable example that would make a seasoned drug-dealer shutter. The idea is controversial, and would involve investigation as to how to create the ad in an ethical manner, but it would undoubtedly convince most teenagers to stay away from drugs… or at least meth.

Simple ideas are hard to forget

Chapter three of “Made to Stick” talks about taking ideas and finding out what they’re really about. Concrete ideas are easy to understand and even easier to remember. Every idea has a core message it is trying to communicate. Unfortunately, that core message is often times wrapped up in abstractions, such as jargon or hard to understand concepts, that make the core message confusing.

When he was running for his first term as the president of the United States, Bill Clinton could have talked for hours on his policy reforms on health care, foreign policy, or the economy. However, most of these involved discussing ideas that are abstract and have very little meaning. Instead, he had three short and concrete messages he made sure to re-iterate in most of his appearances: “Change versus more of the same,” “It’s the economy, stupid,” and “Don’t forget health care.” (These three ideas were created by Clinton’s campaign manager, James Carville.)

Even though Clinton had three concrete ideas, only one of them stuck. Most people remember “It’s the economy, stupid” more than they remember the other two. Despite having three concrete ideas, the public also had a say in what they thought stuck best. Sometimes, it’s impossible to guess what the public thinks will work and what they don’t think will work.

About Bryan Saxton:

I am a Journalism Student at the University of Oregon and the Public Relation's Officer for the International Student Association.
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