January 2012

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2012.

Every time I post or as the mood moves me, I’ll explain some industry specific terminology. This page will be then, as they say, organic and ever evolving. Come back often. Bring your friends…


B-roll is the video that you supply or that a news team gathers that runs behind the intro that an anchor makes to a story or as the visual when a reporter or anchor is narrating overtop. B-roll does not include interviews.


sometimes written as b2b and less frequently as BtoB and btob, is simply short for business to business. A b2b company is more interested in selling its goods or services to another business entity. Conversely, a b2c enterprise is more interested in selling its services or products to consumers. b2c stands for “business to consumers.”


Some journalists specialize in a particular subject or area, the way a doctor or a lawyer does. They take on a specific area of interest or even geography and get to know it very, very well. When they do, they are known as covering a “beat.” Its origins supposedly come from the language of policing, as when a police officer walks a beat – his or her usual area of patrol.

Branded Journalism

It’s a relatively new concept, so if you’re asking “hey, just what is brand journalism,” you’re not alone.

Brand journalism essentially embeds a journalist (in my view, a former journalist) within a company to help the company tell better stories and create content that adds value to the reader, viewer or listener.

The idea is to create content that meaningfully engages the audience in ways that don’t leave them feeling like someone is trying to sell them something. It is a different kind of content from that which is in a press release, but it is a type of PR content that PR and marketing practitioners manage or create.

A company will hire hire a journalist who is not affiliated with any one news outlet to create the content, relying on their skills to tell more engaging stories and create multi-media content. PR departments get journalism quality stories that look and feel like real journalism.

But they aren’t journalism. And they aren’t because the journalist is on the company’s payroll, which, removes any possibility of any real sense of objectivity.

That’s not to say they aren’t bringing a great many of their journalistic skills to bear. That isn’t to say they aren’t great journalists, maybe even brilliant journalists, but in this role, they are not journalists. They have transitioned to to a new career in PR and marketing.

They are performing a paid service to help certain messages about a brand to resonate within target audiences.That’s not a journalism.

Many will disagree with me, especially those within the PR community who are promoting issues and products that get push back. Hiring a journalist to create their content gives it the aura of a third party endorsement. But it’s in appearance only, and it’s spin, since the creator of the content is on the company’s payroll.

What’s the difference?

Call up a journalist to ask for a correction because he didn’t write the story according to the press release, and there’s a mighty fine chance your story will get killed.

Branded content, I can buy. But not journalism.

Some proponents argue that Brand Journalism is “honest brand storytelling that invites audiences to participate.” Others say it is “honest, informative and engaging.”

The latter describes what PR should have always been. And the first is what it should increasingly be aspiring to in the era in which we live.

Bottom Up vs. Top Down:

When you are trying to get your message out to the world, there are essentially two ways of doing it: Top Down and Bottom Up. Until the advent of Social Media, it was widely considered that Top Down, or via the media, was the way to go because it was the fastest way of reaching a lot of people.

In many cases, it often is. Increasingly however grassroots organizations and others are finding that they are able to reach the people they need through email marketing and social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and Linked In, and through other sharing platforms like YouTube and Pinterist.

When those activities reach enough people or touch some kind of nerve or create an effective rallying cry or platform, the mainstream media come to the organization to cover the story instead of the organization or movement going to them. That’s what’s know as Bottom Up.


A hashtag looks like # and is used on Twitter to identify your tweet as part of a particular conversation. When Charlie Sheen was so famously at the height of his bad boy behaviour, he coined the term WINNING to describe his take on events. #Winning took on a life of its own on Twitter, although it usually indicated that the tweet had something of a joke in it, and often one at the expense of someone who seems somewhat divorced from reality.

Hashtags are often used during conferences and during Twitter chats (see definition) for two reasons:1. To make everything said in one conversation identified with a hashtag searchable and 2. To create a bit of buzz around a particular idea or event.

There is a site called Hashtag.org which lists the often used hashtags for more commonly used phrases, like “customer service” or #custserve in the Twittersphere.

Endorsement Deal

More often than not when you see a celebrity wearing a particular brand or speaking on its behalf, they have signed what’s known as an endorsement deal. It means they lend their celebrity to a product giving it buzz, sex appeal, credibility or some other value that comes from being associated with them. Endorsement deals can come at a cost of millions of dollars or be much more modestly priced, depending on the deal. Even a smaller celebrity who appeals to a particularly important audience can command six figures and a multi-year deal.

Of course, there are downsides to endorsement deals as became apparent when Tiger Woods’ personal life upstaged anything he was doing on the golf course. Most endorsement deals have morals clauses now that allow for contract cancelations if the celebrity makes any one of a number of transgressions.


I’m sure you’ve seen them but you may not be familiar with the word and may be asking yourself “what is an infographic?” An infographic is a graphic dipiction (picture) of facts and figures, meant to make stats and bits of research more digestable. You can expect to see many more of them over the coming while.


They make it easier for us to scan information, and online, our brains are now trained to scan not read. Pictures are increasingly important on the web as we try and make as much understandable in increasingly shorter periods of times. And you know what they say about a picture being worth a thousand words.

Pinterest, the social sharing site which curates pictures users pin to virtual boards, is tapping into our growing love affair with pictures, and is growing fast. It even has an app called Piktochart that lets you build your own from their templates.

Here is an example of an infochart.

Key Messages:

If you’ve ever worked with a PR pro, you may have left shaking your head a few times and asking questions like “just what are key messages anyway?” Key Messages are what you want your target audience to come away knowing or remembering about your brand through any and all of your outreach and PR activities. They are crafted carefully to help you influence the people who can best help you achieve your business goals.

You may have different key messages for different target audiences.


People use the phrase “keywords” to describe the words that people punch into search engines (usually Google) to find the information they are looking for. Ric Dragon from Dragon Search prefers the term “key phrases,” which is actually more accurate since most people don’t type in just one word, but usually a phrase. Because there is so much content on the internet, trying to optimize your site for any one word is increasingly difficult and more often than not impossible. Effective keywords (or as Ric would call them, Keyphrases) are usually at least a few words long – sometimes several words long. Most emerging bloggers will have more success with what’s known as LongTail keywords, keywords that won’t pull as many searchers but will still pull a core group specifically looking for information you can give them and put you on the first page of Google for a lesser searched term. Enough longtail searchers will ultimately add up to a more robust website.


What is microblogging? Microblogging is simply any writing or updating one does using social media sites that allow a limitted number of characters per post, including Twitter, Facebook and Google+.


Journalists don’t have a lot of time to make decisions on story ideas, so PR people often send them a “pitch.” Traditionally, it’s no more than a couple of paragraphs and contains everything that makes the potential story compelling. Better pitches inlcude a strong hook and additional information like links to more information, video, sound bites, art, graphics etc. You might consider pasting your media release or media advisory below it or attaching it (be careful of attachments though – some news outlets block them and you’ll end up bounced or in the spam filter) or you can wait and send that as a follow up if they are interested. Make sure you have your contact information in your pitch as well.


Slideshare is a site dedicated to letting people share slides. Often, those slides have been created in Powerpoint or Keynote, however, Slideshare has other handy uses. For example, you may want to put a video on your Linkedin page. You actually can’t do that right through the application, but you can drop in one slide housed on slideshare that has your video as the content of that one slide. To do that, you must have a paid Slideshare account.

Target Audience

What is a target audience? Essentially, your target audience are the people you need to reach or influence with a particular message. They may be grouped together by age, or by sex, where they live, by what they do, and a variety of other criteria in various combinations or alone.

Your target audience is essential to you achieving your business goals. Often, they are the people you need to buy your product or services or donate or support your cause.

Top Down vs. Bottom Up

When you are trying to get your message out to the world, there are essentially two ways of doing it: Top Down and Bottom Up. Until the advent of Social Media, it was widely considered that Top Down, or via the media, was the way to go because it was the fastest way of reaching a lot of people.

In many cases, it often is. Increasingly however grassroots organizations and others are finding that they are able to reach the people they need through email marketing and social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and Linked In, and through other sharing platforms like YouTube and Pinterist.

When those activities reach enough people or touch some kind of nerve or create an effective rallying cry or platform, the mainstream media come to the organization to cover the story instead of the organization or movement going to them. That’s what’s know as Bottom Up.

Twitter chats

By nature, people love to build communities. Twitter is no exception. So when likeminded people gather on Twitter to discuss things they care about, it’s not unusual for them to say “hey, we should explore this more indepth at a particular day and time each week and see who else is interested.” That, in a nutshell, is what Twitter chats are: groups of people gathering at the same time and day each week to talk about something that matters to them collectively. Their conversations are no more private than any ordinary time on Twitter but the hashtag (#) is a way of distinguishing all tweets around a particular chat and making the content of that chat searchable after the fact.


The universe that is Twitter.


It’s hard to believe that YouTube has only been around since 2005. For a long time, it was lumped in with social media but, as Ric Dragon talks about, it’s really more of a search engine than any kind of community building platform, except that it allows comments. But what a search engine it is. It is the 2nd most searched engine in the world eclipsed only by Google. Because of that, even organizations that would prefer a more polished and professional look of another video service like Vimeo feel it’s important to have a YouTube channel. Brands should build out their YouTube channels and make sure that all of their videos are tagged and optimized with keywords.

The average user can upload videos up to fifteen minutes in length, although preferred users in good standing can upload longer videos. Supported formats include .AVI, .MKV, .MOV, .MP4, DivX, .FLV, and .ogg and .ogv which include video formats like MPEG-4, MPEG, VOB, and .WMV. YouTube also supports 3GP, meaning videos can be uploaded from mobile phones.

YouTube videos are generally easy to embed on other sites and blogs. YouTube claims that 4 billion videos are streamed on its site daily and that 60 hours of content gets uploaded every minute.

YouTube has a rather insipid FAQ that really only lists the most basic of information and in generalities.

Video News Release

Video News Releases are usually a news story created by an organization. In the US, they are commonly released to news stations and sometimes broadcast as news stories, as if they had been shot by the news organization. In Canada, that rarely happens and, when it does, the news organization usually identifies that the piece was produced by the organization and not the news outlet.

Video News Releases can be useful in getting media because they can show an outlet how a story could run and also, parts of it might be useful as b-roll or for use in related stories. Better video news releases are not overly promotional and actually have more of a neutral news feel, but many of them are easily identified because they feel commercial and more promotional than newsy.




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Mari Smith is the Queen of Facebook, a social media trainer whose expertise extends well beyond Facebook. She is the author of a terrific new book called The New Relationship Marketing, and I’m thrilled I had a chance to chat with her about how you can best manage your professional Facebook presence. Watch the short video below for great advice from one of the best social media trainers in the business.

Then check out this short post on the newest changes to Facebook. And please fill out my survey about what PR challenges you face. I won’t be making specific recommendations for any one business, but it will help me create content that will better serve you.



Facebook has recently launched what they’re calling “frictionless” apps. They are essentially applications that will post shares on your behalf whenever you do anything using the app. It means your Facebook stream will likley see more content posted automatically on your behalf by the app (if you opt in) and on behalf of everyone you’re friends with who has also opted in.

As this recent article in HuffPo points out, it’s kind of a seminal moment for Facebook because it represents a transition from the experience as something more curated to something extremely active and in real-time. You can choose to opt out of the application, or to adjust what gets posted and to whom, but you will receive the updates from those who have opted in and may have to fiddle with your settings for each person if you’d like to turn down the volume on any or all of them.

These updates will get posted to your Facebook Timeline, the more dynamic and rich version of the personal profile that everyone will soon be upgraded to. 60 apps have launched so far tied to companies like Ticketmaster and Autotrader, meaning your interactions with these organizations will be posted if you’ve opted in.

In other Facebook app news, here is a list of 23 really interesting apps that might be helpful to you, your business or cause. The list was released by Social Media Today earlier this month.The apps range from those that let that you create your own coupons for your website to event calendars you can add to your Facebook pages.

A facebook page is intended for business, allowing you to direct people to your site and corporately brand your page. It does not give you the same opportunities to experience the postings of the users they way you can with a personal profile. In other words, with a page, your fans can see your posts but they can’t see yours.

You can have a personal profile and a page that you use for business. You cannot have two different personal profiles. You get one personal identity on Facebook, and they have strict rules about registering under your real name, something Salman Rushdie just challenged when Facebook tried to make him use his given name, which he hasn’t used in decades.

Which brings me to another point: consistency. You might want to maintain the same identity across all social media platforms. For example, I have just set up a business Facebook page for me, Susan McLennan. It is consistent with my personal profile on Facebook of the same name, and also what I use for LinkedIn and Twitter. My Susan Mclennan business Facebook page at this point is nothing to write home about. I’ve only just launched the website for my name. You’ll see it evolve in the coming weeks from these humble beginnings hopefully to something much more interesting, engaging and useful. I might even crowd source key elements of it. Why should I have all the fun?

It’s important to know that a Facebook profile is capped at 5000 friends, so once you exceed that, you will be more reliant on having a page that can quickly redirect your fans and friends to your website or other portal where you can engage them, call them to action, etc. Ensuring that your Facebook page and profile are consistent with your website is really important because users like consistency across the various platforms.You may have noticed that in yourself in your own wanderings through the interwebs!

If all of this is a little overwhelming, don’t despair. I will add content in the coming while that will help demystify the set up process for those newer to trying to use Facebook for business or cause related purposes.

Facebook has now surpasses 800 million users and it is the largest social networking site in the world. It’s where your customers and donors are. So it’s where you need to be too.


Facebook reserves the right to take down any picture on a user’s site that it deems offensive. And it regularly excercises that right, usually in response to a complaint by a user’s facebook friend.

Of course, what one person considers art another may consider offensive, a point driven home by Facebook’s response to photos of mothers breastfeeding their babies. For years, the social media site has been pulling pictures down from individual users pages who have posted pictures of themselves breastfeeding. In some cases, it has suspended or revoked the users’ accounts.

Facebook has a no nudity policy, but its offical policy on breastfeeding pictures says they can be shown as long as the baby is clearly latched onto the breast.
But Facebook sometimes pulls photos that are compliant with that policy down while leaving others up, and then reverses itself, putting photos back up, and then taking them down again. Its policy is confused and confusing at best.

Facebook says its policy on breastfeeding photos is consistent with those of news organizations, but photos Facebook has taken down run on or in traditional news outlets without complaint.

The always wonderful Ann Douglas wrote about the issue in this recent Toronto Star story. And yes, that is me quoted in the article sounding a smidge more intelligent than I actually am.

In the meantime, all Facebook users should know that they have control over what they see of another person’s posts. If there is someone in your newstream that you consider to be an over-sharer, you can lessen how much you see from them by hovering over their name in any one of their posts until a little chevron looking icon appears in the upper right. Then chose which option you want.

Prior to posting your own stories into the feed, you can also ensure some people don’t see content that isn’t appropriate for them. Only unfriend someone as a last resort. It always gets noticed and leads to bad feelings. Before you report someone, take a minute too to think if it really has crossed a more generally held standard.