15 PR Experts to Follow on Twitter

I personally find Twitter to be a bit of an annoyance.

Sure, it’s a great place to engage customers with real-time customer support, but it’s also crowded, distracting and filled with nonsensical ramblings.

If you’re selective, however, you can find some excellent resources.

That’s how I use Twitter. I follow the select few who share informative, educational and insightful ideas, and links to relevant content.

Here are 15 Public Relations experts and contributors that I think are truly worth the follow.

  1. Bill Stoller – 25-year PR Pro helping others get their share of publicity; Editor & Founder, Free Publicity Newsletter.
  2. Joan Stewart – Publicity and PR expert, journalist, author, biker chick, gardener, foodie, Weight Watchers devotee, Sopranos junkie & proud Cheesehead.
  3. Paul Hartunian – World renowned free publicity expert, 1st person to REALLY sell the Brooklyn Bridge, making worldwide news.
  4. Deirdre Breakenridge – CEO of Pure Performance Communications, speaker, author of Social Media and Public Relations & PR 2.0, adjunct professor.
  5. Todd Defren – Principal at SHIFT Communications, and a PR blogger.
  6. Danny Brown – Chief Technologist @ArCIntel. Co-author Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing
  7. Barbara Rozgonyi – Public Speaker * Corporate Trainer * 3D Social Media * Photographer * SMCChicago Founder
  8. Pam Perry – Award-winning Social Media Marketing & PR Pro, Radio host, Author, Community Manager, Content Curator, Wife, mother & Branding Superstar!
  9. Dan Janal – Publicity speaker and PR consultant. I help people become thought leaders with effective and affordable services. Author of Reporters Are Looking for YOU!
  10. Petri Darby – Brand marketing, digital & communications strategist for Make-A-Wish America. Did agency, corporate and political gigs too.
  11. Dan Keeney – President of DPK Public Relations, baseball and cycling fan and beer enthusiast.
  12. Heather Whaling – Communicating … Connecting. PR & SM small biz owner (@GebenComm). Love nonprofits, sports, politics, news, pop culture, vino & my iPhone. Blog: www.prtini.com
  13. Sarah Evans – @SevansStrategy, non-profit, social good, fashion, #journchat and MediaOnTwitter, community mgr @Pitchengine, dog lover.
  14. Valerie Simon – SVP BurrellesLuce Media Monitoring and Measurement; Public Relations Columnist/ Freelance writer, Suburban mom of 2/still a NYC girl @ heart.
  15. David Meerman Scott – Marketing speaker and bestselling author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR and the new book World Wide Rave.

Which PR experts on Twitter do you think should be added to the list?

Twitter to Have Brand Pages

Twitter has announced a major redesign today that includes a big makeover for the public-facing profile page. The new look will take the profile in a direction that more closely resembles Facebook and Google+, with most of the user information moved to the upper left corner. That only makes sense considering that eye tracking studies have always shown that portion of a webpage to be the hot zone, the part of a page that is viewed first and with most intensity.Twitter saysthe changes will put “you and your interests front and center,” and will be “your opportunity to introduce yourself to the world [and] stay close to everything you care about.”

That’s all great, but from a marketing standpoint the real news of the day is Twitter’s decision to introduce brand pages.

While companies have been able to make use of a presence on Twitter, until today those branded profile pages have only served to push content to followers and respond to customer service requests. The pages are hardly destination unto themselves since company pages are really no different from user pages.

Twitter will now, however, give companies a way to showcase their brand. New branded pages will allow marketers to not only customize headers so that logos and taglines are featured prominently, but give them the ability to select a particular tweeted message that visitors see when they first come to the page. This, Twitter says, will help you “highlight your most engaging and important content and better connect with your target audience.” Highlighted tweets will also appear auto-expanded, so visitors can see the photo or video content that is linked from the tweet.

For entertainment companies and big budget marketers this could be a real enhancement to Twitter presences. Think about what it could be like when visiting the Disney Twitter page…now they’ll be able to feature video clips of upcoming movies right on their profile.

And for little company’s…what a great opportunity to highlight videos, links and other calls-to-action that can better drive traffic to your site.

AdAge points out in their article discussing the changes today that while one aspect of this decision to have branded pages is Twitter’s attempt to take on Facebook, another component could be Twitter’s attempt to make their own advertising products more appealing.

Either way, Twitter isn’t going away anytime soon, and branded pages will only make sure of that.

While they’re not available just yet, watch for the new branded pages. The big launch partners include American Express, Best Buy, Bing, Chevrolet, Coca-Cola, Dell, Disney, General Electric, Hewlitt-Packard, Intel, JetBlue, Kia, McDonald’s, Nike, PepsiCo, Staples, Verizon Wireless, NYSE Euronext, Heineken, Subway and Paramount Pictures.

Then it will be your company’s turn to jump on the bandwagon.

Would You Let an Intern Plan a Major Event?

Let’s say you had a huge event coming up. Maybe it is a new product launch. Or maybe it’s a presentation by the company’s CEO to a group of Wall Street analysts. Would you turn the whole thing over to a summer intern? Would you let them plan the event, pull together all the applicable research, create the presentations and coordinate deliverables from various departments?

I am guessing you are thinking a flat NO. And, that’s exactly what you should be thinking.

Why is it then that companies let interns handle their social influence marketing?

More often than not I think it has to do with a generational gap in the thinking of marketing leadership. A department head who is out of touch with the rapidly changing world of marketing thinks — my daughter spends all day on Facebook — and that becomes the company’s social media strategy.

In early 2009, Pizza Hut launched its Twitter page and immediately posted a position for a “twitern” to run their social media efforts. It has been famously mentioned in books, articles and blogs as a perfect example of a potential marketing disaster. Thankfully, Alexa Robinson, the 22 year old intern hired to tweet Pizza Hut offers did a pretty good job. But other “twinterns” haven’t been so lucky. A twittering intern for Habitat, a home-furnishings retailer in the U.K., decided to use misleading tweets as the primary strategy for attracting followers. He used words that were being searched in relation to ongoing protests in Iran, such as #iran and #mousavi, as a means to get people who had been searching for information about the protests to the Habitat page and website. Habitat apologized, vowed to do a better job with their social marketing, and who knows what happened to the intern.

In most cases the people who are handling a company’s tweets and social marketing are doing so with little, if any supervision. And a great many of them are interns or kids fresh out of college who don’t even know the business or services they are supposed to be tweeting about. Gini Dietrich, who runs a Chicago public relations firm, says, “There’s a general perception that young people are the masters of all things social media. By letting an intern determine [social media strategy], you’re putting your brand and reputation in the hands of someone who has no experience…[and who has] been using social media in a personal, not business [way].”

Sounds rather scary, yet company’s continue to hand over the reigns of social media marketing to inexperienced interns without even considering the potential pitfalls. It’s like giving an unchecked megaphone to a perfect stranger and allowing them to be the voice of the company.

You wouldn’t let an intern plan a major company event. Don’t let them run your social media strategy.

How About Those TV Hashtags

A couple weeks ago I was watching Royal Pains, the dopey but cute show on the USA Network about a doctor and his brother who have moved to the Hamptons to set up a medical concierge practice for the rich and famous (sort of a Baywatch in the Hamptons), and I noticed the #royalpains hashtag in the lower left of the screen. I got out my MacBook and jumped on Twitter…and I have to admit…it was fun!

A hashtag, for those that don’t know, is a community-driven convention for adding additional context and metadata to messages you post on Twitter. In case that confused you more: A hashtag basically allows you to make your tweet easier to find by people who are interested in the same topic. A person wanting to see what is being said about Royal Pains would just search for #royalpains. And if they want their tweet to be included in the conversation they merely include #royalpains in their 140 character post. (You can read more about hashtags here.)

What I found, when I jumped into the #royalpains conversation was a whole bunch of people saying pretty much what I had been saying to my wife…things like, she’s allergic to something in the flower garden, or, Evan’s sweater is hideous. It was as if I were suddenly watching the show with thousands of other people at the same time!

From a social marketing standpoint it’s a great way to build a community and following around a television show. Especially for viewers who may be sitting at home and watching alone. It makes the whole experience fun and entices the viewer to watch again the next week to be part of a like-minded crowd.

Here’s the marketing positives on this:

  • Hashtags are subtle enough that they don’t distract or annoy viewers who don’t know what they are or don’t care. They are usually just small watermarks in the corner of the screen.
  • Hashtags make monitoring Twitter conversations easier, thereby making it fun to be part of a group with whom you share an interest.
  • By having a dedicated hashtag (#royalpains as opposed to #royalp or #royalpainsshow) increases the chance that the conversation will start trending, or become popular. When people who don’t watch the show see that #royalpains is a popular conversation they will be curious about tuning in and watching the show. 
  • And, this is the biggie — seeing hashtags on their recorded shows may remind DVR users they’re missing out by not watching in real time.
That last bullet point could probably be the most important (and smartest) thing, when it comes to marketing. Sure, they Royal Pains people and the USA Network want you to watch the show, but it’s a whole lot better if you watch the show while it is airing live. Watching the show live, as opposed to recorded, means you also watching the commercials. Bingo! A marketer’s dream come true!
Recent studies by Yahoo and Nielsen have found 86% of mobile phone owners (and an incredible 92% of 13-24 year olds) are on their phones while watching TV. And, somewhere around 40% of those multi-taskers are browsing or updating social networking sites. Outside of those numbers the studies have shown that 53% of survey respondents use their computers to check social sites while watching TV. Imagine how those numbers will change as more and more people move to smart phones and tablets like the iPad.
So, creating a buzz and conversation around a TV show in real time means that you have also pulled all those people into the ads. And let’s not forget, these are the people with a phone or computer at their fingertips, which means all those advertisers are getting fresh hits as well.
As a marketer, I would have to say, TV hashtags are pretty damn smart!