PR word cloud

I was very excited to find out the final voting result for PRSA’s “Redefining PR” campaign. Actually my first reaction was “I won!” since I selected the one that received the most votes.

“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

I did put in a bit thought when I was reading the three finalists. I chose this one based on my own understanding of PR.

First, I believe public relations is a communication process. No matter how much this field has changed, we are still trying to communicate with publics about an organization. On my very first class as a PR student at Michigan State University, my instructor gave us a simpler definition of PR: “Communicating accurate image of an organization to the public.”That was a definition I strongly agree with, and the one from PRSA included the meanings it had.

Second, I am a firm believer that effective public relations will create mutual benefits for both parties (organizations and publics/stakeholders). Good PR should not be manipulative. Instead, it will make people “want to do business with you”. I learned that from another professor at MSU. Starbuck’s campaign “Every Love” for Valentine’s Day this year was a great example. Starbucks produced three excellent and moving videos about sharing love via its products. It is not just boasting about how good the coffee is, but educating people how much difference you can make with a simple cup of coffee.I was amazed by the great amount of emotional comments and stories shared on Facebook and Twitter by Starbuck’s fans. In the era of new media, great PR achieves communication between companies and consumers, and between consumers and consumers. This is how PR builds “mutually beneficial” relationships.

I had a hard time to explain what PR is to my families and friends when I decided to become a PR professional 3 years ago. I am still trying to improve my interpretation whenever I have a chance to tell them about my passion for this profession. I think what’s even more important in this PRSA campaign of redefining PR is that it gave all of us, the PR pros, a moment to think and a chance to reflect. No matter what definition in the future we use, we will be grateful for this process because it encourages us to get better at what we do, and make a contribution to the growth and evolution of this amazing industry.

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I am recently doing a study on social media marketing of automotive brands – a sort of continuation of my course project two years ago. I plan to write down my findings and share with you. Hopefully it will stir up the discussion and help me learn more about promoting auto brands on social media.

Are you engaging, or are you broadcasting? This is a serious question we should ask ourselves from time to time when we are promoting brands on social media. Believe or not, it is tricky to lose the ego and the compulsion to perform monologue that “our products are awesome” and instead wisely realize that you can pick up your consumers’ content – which might be even more awesome.

Three auto brands I’ve been studying gave me the inspiration of this topic: Jeep, Saab, and MINI. Generally speaking, these brands are marketing as niche brands. They may not have as many fans as BMW does, but they manage to embrace the power of active fans, which is highly valuable. Here are three tips I learned about how to use user-generated contents (UGC) to boost your Facebook pages:

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Courtesy of E Releases

Media relations 2.0 is real.

I say this because I found perfect evidence today. Social Car News, one of the automotive blogs under High Gear Media, published a post on Feb 18. The post questioned Jeep’s recent celebration as the “first domestic automotive brand with more than 1 million Facebook fans“, because Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro already hit the record before Jeep. Joel Feder, the author asked: “Is Jeep splitting hairs when it comes to Facebook Fans?

So far the post only attracted 57 views. Not really impressive. However, the only two comments surprised me a lot based on the people who left those comments.

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Sentiment is the “It” girl in social media monitoring.
In the circle of social media, we do monitor everything, but sentiment is the one we cannot afford to ignore or forget. After all, no brand or marketer likes to hold a Twitter bomb when it’s already ignited. We monitor the sentiment so we can immediately jump in to save the negative conversations. My question here is:

“How do we find those ‘bombs’ in the jungle of social media?”

Recently I’ve been learning and practicing online monitoring by experimenting with a variety of monitoring tools. Here are my current thoughts on finding social media “bombs”:

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Integration will be a key focus for social media strategists in 2011. This is from the research result of Altimeter Group’s recently published “2011 Social Media Business Forecast”. According to Jeremiah Owyang’s keynotes for this research, 46.7% of 140 corporate social strategists said they would focus on the integration of social media onto corporate website.

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