What is 'PR'?

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Today I bring you a guest post from Amanda Jackson of Tigerfish PR.  I met her a few weeks ago when I was co-presenting at Preston FM with Will Buckley.  She shared her 'hourglass' analogy whilst explaining about Public Relations (PR) and I was fascinated.  I asked Amanda to share her analogy on Geekalicious and here it is.  If you have any questions for Amanda please post them in the comments section and I'll direct her over here to respond to them.

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There are two questions I get asked frequently. How on earth do you find time for social media? And 'what IS public relations exactly?'

And usually answer to both of them is helped by... my hourglass. Yes, strange as it sounds, I use my beautiful half-hour device - it looks like an oversized egg timer. Let me tell you about it.

I acquired it a few years ago, in a bid to explain PR. There are many definitions of PR. It is  often thought of as press relations, but more accurately it is public relations. But what on earth does that mean?

Image Credit:
Rachel Caitlin, Flickr
Well, imagine my hourglass. The top part of it  is what is happening in your own business. All the business wins and challenges. The people coming and going, the funny incidents, the exhibitions you're going to. The 91 year old you might employ, the apprentices you've taken on. The new machinery you've bought, the services you've improved. You know, the 'stuff' that makes up our business world.

The bottom part, is what is happening in your customers' world. Pretty much the same - the challenges and successes. The new people, products and services.

So the middle bit? The neck of the hourglass?? Well, that is where PR fits in. That is the way that you and your customers communicate. That sand flowing though? That's the PR, the public relations. It's small bits of information, delivered slowly, consistently. They might be emails, stuff customers read in the press (via press releases), it might be a newsletter, it might be an exhibition, hey, it might be a conversation. But it's communication.

And the best thing about an hour glass, is that it is two-way. Turn it over. The information flows from customer to you. Who wouldn't want that?

Which leads me onto the social media. Because social media, whether it is Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. are all ways that you can communicate with your customers and potential customers. They are all that 'sand' flowing both ways, between you and your customer. But oh boy, can it eat time.

Which is where my timer comes in again. Mine is a half hour timer. I have it permanently on my desk. So I allow myself half hour 'chunks' of time for social media. I can see when the time's gone. There's no "forgetting" what time I started. I wouldn't be without it.

Finally, I confess, that half hour timer is also perfect for making me focus and crack on with tasks I sometimes put off. Like, er...doing 'PR for me' for example, because I'm like that  classic cobblers' child i.e. barefoot.

So for me, a half-hourglass forms part of the answer to many questions. But in in my experience, never the one which starts -'how long does it take to make a 30 minute Jamie Oliver meal?'


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Amanda Jackson is founder of Tigerfish PR, a PR agency which specialises in logistics and manufacturing sectors.  Her firm offers down-to-earth communications strategy, PR campaigns and social media training for companies that make stuff or move stuff. 

How To Create Great Images For Pinterest

Pinterest is all about images.  If a picture catches the eye then the user is more likely to click through to read the article and repin.  If you are looking to use Pinterest to drive traffic to your website having fantastic images is an important inclusion in your blog post.  

This tutorial shows you how to overlay text onto an image intended to draw people to your blog post. 

I switch between PicMonkey and Picasa (desktop version) to create my Pinterest images.  They use very similar methods to overlay text onto an image.  Here I am using PicMonkey to demonstrate.  Both editing programmes are free (although PicMonkey does have a paid upgrade available)



Image


picmonkey main screen

  • Pick an image that relates to the theme of the post.
  • Upload your image to PicMonkey using the prompt on the main screen


Text


picmonkey editing suite

  • Overlay your text onto the image and ensure the text is prominent and readable
  • Save the image to your computer (it will save as a new image instead of replacing the original)


Use


how to make balloon flowers image
Example using the method
in this post
  • Insert into your blog post in the upper third.
  • Ensure you have a Pinterest-friendly blog if you want your images to be pinned
  • This image style is great for tutorial and recipe posts


If you do not want your images to be shared on Pinterest please have a look at my "Block Pinterest" tutorial 







Are you aware of your digital footprint?

digital footprint
Paris Brown is was the UK's first youth police and crime commissioner.  She is 17 years old and already has a number of social media accounts.  Since her new role was made public, the British media have made it their mission to delve around in her very short online history and dissect anything they can find.  They printed tweets dating back three years which made her appear racist, homophobic and supportive of the drug culture.  
source:  BBC News
updated source:  BBC News

As Ms Brown so rightly says, with hindsight, teenagers have been brought up with digital media all around them and it is second nature to share instant snippets of their lives with their immediate peer network.  It's difficult to remember that almost all online activity is cached (saved) and can be found with very little difficulty.  Another very good point to recognise is that Ms Brown has done something that not many politicians or celebrities can do; she has stood in front of the British media and answered to her previous actions.

However, does this now open the door for all prospective employees to request access to our social media accounts during the interview process?  After all, we are very used to seeing disclaimers such as, "These are my own views and not those of [insert well known organisation]" on many a Twitter bio.

I am constantly engaged in conversations where parents are attempting to protect their children's digital footprint by giving them nicknames online (especially in the Parent Blogger community), hiding their faces in images uploaded to social media accounts or even reserving their Facebook account names and/or domain names for future use.  As a parent of older children (now teenagers and young adults) I feel that this is taking away some of their digital responsibility and the excitement of creating their first online account but as a parent, I understand the need to educate my child about 'netiquette'.  But are we teaching them correctly?

Each social media platform has its own merits and uses yet prolific online users tend to connect with as many as they can in an attempt to achieve a maximum audience.  At the other end of the scale, you will find slightly less techy people sticking to Facebook as they were early adopters and it is an easily accessible platform for users of all ages and ability (plus there are games).  However, I feel that we should use each platform differently and you don't need to use all of them all of the time.

Facebook:  Great for family and friends.  Befriend people you actually know and get into the habit of checking your privacy settings.  Use the platform to keep in touch on a 'real life' basis.  

Twitter:  Real time updates from real time people.  Twitter reminds me of the Ferris Bueller quote: Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.  Apply this to Twitter (time spent, amount of people you follow, the type of people you follow) and you can't go far wrong.

Google Plus:  It's a geek zone.  It's going to take time for your Average Joe to migrate over to a new platform.  However, if you understand that whatever Google create now is going to be incorporated into its own search engine then you can use that power for your own gain.  

Every social media platform is going to be embedded with money-making schemes and spammers.  The algorithms built into each platform allow you to be targeted according to your usage.  Each platform will capture your information and usage statistics and use it to enhance your time spent on there.  This forms part of your digital footprint.  

Facebook has introduced Edge Rank, targeted advertising and now payment for messaging strangers.  Twitter has promoted tweets - clearly marked and sometimes locked into the top of an app.  Google tends to embed their campaigns into their search results and (by choice) on-page advertising using Google Ads but with a little forethought and planning we can control the settings on our accounts, flip everything on its head and enjoy the social media platforms in the way they were intended.  

Online life is an important part of now and of the future  however, as long as we are aware of what we are sharing (both with our audience and with the platform owners) then we remain in control of our digital footprint.  And this is what we need to teach new users from the outset.


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