Between You and Me, There's PR

Exploring, learning and using social media, public relations and marketing.

The 5 hats social media pros wear May 7, 2014

social-media-expert hatSocial Media is a new(ish) field that will always be a new(ish) field because of it’s nature to continuously evolve and change. When it was first introduced as a marketing tool, it was just something many marketing professionals added to their job. Today, the position is driven by content creators who happen to be good at many things. Here are five hats social media pros (SoMePro) wear:

1. Writer
Obviously, writing content is a big part of being a social media professional’s job. The SoMePro must write for blogs, Facebook, Twitter, e-books, emails and etc.  Over the last few years, the recommended frequency of sharing content has increased, making the SoMePro’s job more focused on creating content than ever before.

Bad Image Use2. Designer
It’s proven that images and graphics offer better engagement than text alone; therefore, it’s the SoMePro’s job to create captivating images to accompany every message shared. Coming up with a photo or graphic for every message can be daunting, but understanding the difference between when a graphic is necessary or not is equally as important.

I’ve found one news station guilty of not understanding the difference. They have a stockpile of images they pull out for tragedies that personally, I fin inappropriate and annoying. The result? Unsubscribed. The other layer to this is that you must either find royalty free images or create your own. With those circumstances, a little Adobe knowledge goes a long way.

3. Learner
In the number of years I’ve worked in social media, every platform has changed it’s layout, statistics and algorithms. Oh yes, the magical a-word, algorithm. Social media is not something you learn once; it’s constantly changing and there’s always something new. In addition to evolving platforms, new platforms are being introduced everyday. The SoMePro should always be scouring the internet for inspiration, knowledge and best practices.

4. Fixer
The fixer is also known as the good, old-fashioned customer service representative. It is the SoMePro’s job to foster relationships with customers, happy or unhappy. It’s proven to be much more expensive to gain new customers than it is to retain customers, which makes it very important to resolve issues with unhappy customers. Often, simply acknowledging a customer’s concern can salvage a relationship, while thanking a current happy customer can be just as beneficial.

5. Analyzer
While writing is an important piece to social media, there’s no point in writing anything if there is no proof that it is working. There were many claims that social media could not be measured, but that has changed drastically, even in just the last year. It is not that it cannot be measured, it’s that it is measured differently than traditional media. The SoMePro will check the stats on every post, every day, to determine what resonates with customers and look for trends that spike engagement. This information is then used to drive future content that builds a relationship and pushes sales.

6. Detective
The SoMePro is constantly searching the web for every mention of their organization. When a mention is found, it must be evaluated for credibility to determine what action to take. Is it a legitimate issue? Is it an employee posing as a customer? The SoMePro knows how to dig into the data to answer these questions. Something the rest of the world tends to forget is that nothing ever disappears from the Internet; this is what SoMePros call entertainment.

These are just five of the hats SoMePros wear, but rest assured, there are plenty more where this comes from. What would you add to the list?


Monopoly’s Lucky Roll April 5, 2014

My family is not allowed to play Monopoly together. With a blended family comes blended family Monopoly rules. A few of my immediate family’s rules include:

  • All money from taxes and fees goes in the middle. If you land on Free Parking, you take it all for yourself.
  • $500 goes in the middle at all times for free parking.
  • You can buy houses instantly; no need to collect all same colored properties before purchasing houses.
  • If you land on go, you collect $250 instead of $200.

If you’ve ever played Monopoly, you know that these rules are totally made up and designed to make the game go more quickly. On March 25, 2014, Monopoly launched a really engaging campaign on Facebook asking fans to post their house rules. According to Monopoly, 68% of Americans do not read the instructions.

The campaign that utilized video and graphic images lasted March 25-April 3. There was no third-party application used and no prize; people simply wanted to tell their story. The engagement for the house rule campaign posts were insanely high in comparison to their previous posts; including those posted as mix-ins during the campaign, like this one that had five shares:

monopoly baseball
Alternatively, when Monopoly posted the new official house rules, it was shared 1,287 times:


This is a great example of a well executed campaign and the brain behind it deserves big kudos for the brand engagement it drove. The most amazing part to me is that there was no prize offered. It proves how iconic this game is and how a simple board game can unite or divide a house hold. They sold nothing to consumers, yet the board game rose to the top of consumers’ mind awareness.

In comparison to their stunt last year, in which consumers were asked to vote on what Monopoly piece to retire and add, this most recent campaign allowed more engagement and brand awareness; or, maybe I’m just bitter because I’m not a cat fan.

Overall, I think this was a great campaign for this iconic brand.


Is there haterade in the water? October 16, 2013

Filed under: social media — thisgirlsarah @ 8:58 PM
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Have you ever heard that saying, “Do you kiss your mother with that mouth? Or if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all? Everything we were taught about being kind to others seems to of vanished among the masses online. Simply, people are mean.

A lack of filter has led to many cases of cyber-bullying and suicides. Bullying is not something new, but the fact that someone can do it where no teacher can hear them so there are no repercussions if they don’t get caught is attractive to cyber-bullies.

Bullies are childish. So, why does it extend beyond children? Grown adults take to social media to share their opinion about everything. In customer service, it’s accepted that generally more people complain than compliment and it’s the same with social media.

I’m not saying people should be stripped of their freedom to speak, but adults should be more apt to respectfully share opinions. My jaw constantly drops with the anger people have towards strangers and situations they disagree with. People feed off one another until the snowball effect takes action and the whole situation is blown out of proportion.

Photo from


The fact that moms are mad at Maria Kang for posting an intentionally motivational photo drove me to stop thinking about writing this post to actually doing it. I can’t understand why people are so mad about the photo. Her Facebook page was specifically designed to be an inspiration for other women, specifically moms, who visit it expecting fitness tips and motivation.

It’s not like Maria is attempting to create a false image of her life; she even shows pictures of her with her kids being a normal mom  Her controversial photo asking, “What’s your excuse?” was asking fans to honestly evaluate their health and in turn, people came up with lots of excuses.

Then there are things people can rightfully be mad about, like the government shutdown. However, even if it’s something that would naturally solicit a frustrated response, the comments turn into an argument that snowballs with assumptions and anger rather than facts.

Read any news story followed by the comments section and prepare to be amazed by spelling errors, capitalization and accusations galore. No matter how sweet the story begins, there’s always someone to take it the wrong way and bring down the mood.

Let’s pretend there is actually a filter. Just because you think something, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to say it. Breathe and ask yourself, “Would I kiss my mother with that mouth?”

Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but consider the difference between voicing an opinion and being a bully. And speaking for all community managers, we’d appreciate it when the filter is used.


Starbucks Does Not React to Controversy September 22, 2013

Filed under: marketing,social media — thisgirlsarah @ 2:01 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

Mmm Pumkin Spice Latte season has arrived, unless you carry a gun. I’m not here to write another “Thank you, Starbucks” or “I hate you now, Starbucks” story, but rather looking at the PR implications of the company’s statement and reaction. (Quick catch up if you missed it, here is the letter from Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, asking customers not to bring their guns into Starbucks.)

One of the first rules in a PR crisis is to respond rather than ignoring the situation. How did Starbucks measure up with their recent gun request? I think they did everything with a careful strategy, despite the fact that it looks like they were ignoring customers.

The letter was posted on their blog at about the same time it was shared on Facebook and Twitter. Instantly, the public insisted on sharing their opinions with the company. What I find interesting, is the fact that it looks like the company shared the statement then just let it ride out, only responding to a select few of their customers’ critiques.

starbucks fb2 starbucks fb1

They didn’t even post any new corporate messages for 48 hours on both Twitter and Facebook.

starbucks twitter

Every bit of Starbucks’ strategy was intentional and planned out. Aside from correcting a few misunderstandings about the request, there was no need to defend themselves against haters; therefore, no response was necessary.

Had they responded in a defensive way, they’d have just created more controversy. Instead, they allowed everyone to share their opinion and two days later, came back with a photo of a warm cup of coffee as though nothing happened.

The general rules for a PR crisis may, in fact be to respond, but there are rules to that rule. The important takeaway for marketers to learn from Starbucks are to

  • Have a plan.
  • Decide what is right for your company as a response. Every situation is different.
  • Be united as a team and convey the same message across all media outlets.
  • Never lose control of the situation.
  • Respond, but not too much and not too loud.
  • Never ever, ever do what Amy’s Baking Company did in response to a crisis. (I can’t get enough of this story. It’s a train wreck.)

What do you think of how Starbucks handled the backlash from their announcement?


Writer’s block and other excuses August 15, 2013

Have I really been too busy to blog? Absolutely not. How is it then, that though I ache to write content longer than 140 characters at work, when I come home, I do anything else but exactly that? It’s so simple and I am 100% in control of my ability to do it, yet I haven’t.

I find bloggers fascinating. The fact that people can actually earn money by simply writing down their thoughts and opinions is amazing. Companies actually market to and create campaigns to recruit “mommy-bloggers” as brand advocates. But more than that, they are so open with ideas and supportive of one another.

band r diaryI’m an inconsistent blogger because sharing my opinions and ideas about things is like letting you look at my diary. Fittingly, when I was younger, I was inconsistent with every attempt to keep a diary as well. The only diary I consistently kept for longer than a week was my Beezus and Ramona diary that offered prompts for things to write about. And that’s what I am missing, the prompt.

When I started this blog, I was a student. I continued the blog after I learned everything I had to learn at my internships. Now, I am no longer the student. I have to figure these things out on my own and come up with my own prompts. No longer are the thing I am writing about stories of someone else’s trial and error, they are things I am experiencing on my own because I am the head of my company’s social media department (truth be told, it’s just me).

I told myself I was too busy to blog. I told myself it wasn’t important. I decided not to fix the virus taking over my laptop. I created excuses to avoid doing what I should love. Writing a blog, whether anyone reads it or not, is an excellent outlet. It’s as much a social experience as it is personal. Blogging is an especially necessary outlet for someone hanging out on party of one social media team. Those of you that do read my blog, I apologize for slacking. It turns out you are the community I need and look to for encouragement and ideas.

Whew, it feels good to get that off my chest. I promise I’ll be more willing and committed to letting you see into my “diary”.  Writer’s slump is the worst, but sometimes it feels good to let it all out into the virtual world!

What causes your writer’s block and how do you overcome it?


Adapt or Die: Marketing Trends That Said Goodbye March 11, 2013

90s Hunk

Leonardo is definitely a 90s hunk.

I’m a 90s kid and, like all 90s kids, love the lists on Buzz Feed of things from my childhood. For example: “35 Things You Will Never See Again” featuring the VHS tape and “90s Hunks Shirtless: Then and Now”  even the word “hunk” is a 90s flashback!. Today, I saw a list like those that was  written by Hubspot called, “25 Things You’ll Have to Explain to Your Kids About Marketing One Day”. This list offers a lot of perspective as to where marketing was and is going in the future. (I’ll wait while you read.)

The craziest “whoaa” moment for me while reading this was the fact that I had been taught about most of these things in my high school marketing class and even college classes just a few years ago and now the list claims they are going extinct. My job in social media didn’t even exist a few years ago, will it exist 10 years from now? What’s both really scary and really funny is to go back to my first blog post (which was for my social media class senior year- also the FIRST time it was offered as a topic) titled “Times Change“. To further embarrass myself, I’ll pull a direct quote: “This Youtube clip from Erik Qualman, author of “Socialnomics,” shows statistics regarding social media and really opened my eyes to the success of these trends.”

“The success of these trends.” I called social media, my job, a trend. Is it? Will it go away like the Yellow Pages, newspapers and catalogs?  I think they will only grow and improve. Newspapers aren’t really dead (yet). They have adapted to the changing culture. Cassette tapes have died and CDs  are dying, but they were replaced with an even better tool that makes it easier to listen to music. Direct mail has been replaced by e-newsletters. Newspapers and magazines are still printed, but their online versions were created to adapt to the changing times. I don’t like change, so my vote is we keep them, but make them fit our fast-paced lifestyles better.

Today’s marketing focuses on the online world and takes a special interest in what consumers want. We no longer live in the world where the advertiser tells us what to think or do. Now, marketers use crowd-sourcing and target ads based on our search history or Facebook profiles. Add that to the list of things to explain to your kids: “Kids, back in the day, marketers couldn’t see what you searched for online enabling them to cater their advertisements to your specific likes or dislikes. Life wasn’t creepy like it is now.”

Who am I kidding, Don can handle anything except our smoke free society.

Who am I kidding? Don can handle anything- except our smoke free society.

Wouldn’t you love to see Don Draper take on the marketing world today? He nearly had a heart attack when Peggy Olson staged a ham fight as a PR stunt, I can’t imagine how he’d handle the dynamic world of online marketing. Then again, even he had to adapt as cigarettes, their biggest client, became a health concern.

I don’t think social media will be something we’ll tell our kids about because it doesn’t exist, but I do think it will change dramatically. I leave you with 20 Marketing Trends and Predictions for 2013 and Beyond.

What do you think we’ll see?


Facebook Reach Error February 24, 2013

I feel very relieved to know that I am not crazy. Ever since December, I’d noticed a significant decrease in my page’s Reach statistic on Facebook Insights. I felt alone in this situation because for months I’d researched online to see if anyone else was seeing the same problem and found nothing recent.

Many people had written about the subject, however, they referenced the time period when Facebook introduced Promoted Posts in the late summer of 2012, alluding to the fact that Facebook decreased Reach on purpose to increase participation in Promoted Posts. This is not true and it was not reflected on my page.

Around Christmas, I noticed a significant decrease in my Page’s Reach. I manage a fairly small-ish page, but was consistently seeing a reach of 300-400 every post I shared and felt comfortable with that number. Late December, our average reach began dipping below 100. That was scary. Our Page Likes continued to increase and engagement was higher than ever, but still less than 100 people were seeing my post every day. I began test posting at different times of the day and days of the week. I found a few sweet spots that got me back to the 300 reach range, but it wasn’t consistent.

I’d nearly given up when I logged on to Facebook last Friday to see this an article from AllFacebook, “Facebook Bug Caused Pages’ Reported Reach to be Lower” and found a video explanation from Facebook Studio. The awkward lady in the video vaguely describes that their insights were misrepresented, but mostly encourages Facebook page managers to keep an eye on their own stats (because sometimes Facebook messes things up big time). Side note, how creepy is she?!

This article from Tech Crunch better explains the cause: “While trying to speed up its iOS and Android apps, Facebook accidentally stripped out too much data about news feed posts by Pages. This caused Page Insights to be misreported, leading admins to believe their posts reached fewer people than they actually did, in most cases.”

Over the weekend, I was ecstatic to see my average post reach back up to 300 with my highest post reaching over 1,100 people. I wasn’t crazy. There was a reason behind my reach decrease. I was really beginning to think I was messing everything up on my end. It’s nice to know I can blame someone else, but even nicer to see it return to normal.

Facebook has changed a lot in the last year and is still experiencing a lot of trial and error. As the video states, it is important to keep track of your statistics whether on Facebook, or another platform. It is, after all, the responsibility of the community manager to manage the community and understand its strengths and weaknesses. Luckily, through this “experience” I have discovered a new sweet spot for the time of day to post that will prove even more effective with these bug fixes. The biggest bonus is, as I have mentioned, I now know that I’m not crazy!

That being said, since this is due to Facebook changing things, here’s a good GIF for community managers: “EVERY TIME FACEBOOK CHANGES THEIR ALGORITHM”



Was your page’s insights’ affected?


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