In a post by PR Pro Tips, we learn that pitching a story via Twitter can be “unnecessary and annoying.” I agree it can–especially if you set up an account expressly to spam reporters (and if you read the story in the link, you’ll see a host of other mistakes made by the source trying to get a write-up).
However, if you’ve developed a relationship with a reporter, blogger or columnist, i.e.,: you follow each other on Twitter (or even Facebook), then an occasional pitching of links is just fine.
I’ve scored at least a couple of interviews the past quarter pitching via social media. Also, note that not every reporter on Twitter has a problem with the “cold-call tweet”–just make sure your link lands somewhere with impeccable presentation and navigation (I like Pitchengine and Launch.It for Social Media Releases). It has to be very clear what you want the reporter to look at and why.
Incidentally, you can follow me (and even pitch guest blogs) on Twitter at @A_Greenwood.
The numerous online and social media tools vying for attention are enough to give some small business owners an anxiety attack.
Case in point, I met with a prospective client last week, and she was a little worked up after attending a class led by a social media expert. Apparently the expert had the class pretty amped about using social networking tools right this minute. My prospective client fired off several questions at me, including:
Foursquare really stuck out–the expert apparently said “You better be using Foursquare or you’ll get left behind!” (Or something to that effect).
For the uninitiated, here’s what Foursquare is:
Foursquare is a location-based mobile platform that makes cities easier to use and more interesting to explore. By “checking in” via a smartphone app or SMS, users share their location with friends while collecting points and virtual badges. Foursquare guides real-world experiences by allowing users to bookmark information about venues that they want to visit and surfacing relevant suggestions about nearby venues. Merchants and brands leverage the foursquare platform by utilizing a wide set of tools to obtain, engage, and retain customers and audiences.
It obviously has its uses–particularly for businesses that wish to increase foot traffic. Personally, I think it’s right up there with doing my mileage report–tedious. I don’t use it also because it’s just one more thing I don’t have time to do well–and I have my doubts that even doing it well will do me any good at all. That aside, it also has a potentially dangerous aspect, as this article in Time magazine highlights:
Think before you tweet. You might not be aware of how much information you’re revealing.
That’s the message from the founders of Please Rob Me, a website launched on Tuesday that illustrates just how easy it is to rob people blind on the basis of the information they’re posting on the Web. The site uses streams of data from Foursquare, an increasingly popular location-based social network that is based on a game-like premise. Players use smart phones or laptops to “check in” to a location, recording their position on a map for friends using the service to see. The more often you check in, the better your chances of being declared the mayor of a particular location, be it a restaurant, bar, office or even your own home.
The problem comes when users also post these locations to Twitter, says Boy van Amstel, one of the founders of Please Rob Me. Then the information becomes publicly available, making it theoretically possible for a robber (or anyone else) to keep tabs on when you say you’re in your home or not.
“We saw people checking in at their home addresses, or even worse, those of their friends and family,” van Amstel says. “Which we just thought was very wrong.”
My prospective client said she didn’t want to broadcast her location to the internet for just those very reasons, and I don’t blame her. What concerned me was she that was told–or it was strongly implied–that she needed to be an avid user of such tools in order to succeed.
That said, I told my prospective client to step away from the computer and put down her smartphone for a minute.
“All these things you mentioned are tools. Use the tools that you need–don’t let the tools use you.”
And there it was. She looked relieved!
Of course. Your car may have heated seats, but you don’t use them in the summer, right? You may have access to an air wrench, but you probably don’t use it to tighten a bolt on your kid’s bicycle. You could buy a full page ad in a newspaper about hiring a new account exec, but a notice on your company website is probably all that’s necessary. It’s about being sensible and practical with your resources and time.
Tools like Foursuare, Facebook, LinkedIn and your blog are tools that certainly have their uses to grow and enhance your business–if used correctly, sensibly and as proscribed. If you’re a person who makes a living driving long distances by yourself, “checking in” and tweeting your locations may not be a good idea. Your empty house could get robbed or worse, you could get into some trouble with ne’er do wells on the road.
A less dire consequence of using tools simply because you can is that it will certainly “rob” you of your time and you probably won’t use them effectively. I’ve covered that ground before in another post about having a blog and making it an asset rather than a chore. I’ve also recommended three relatively easy things you can do to get your business noticed.
People are very excited about social media and online tools as ways for even the smallest business to compete. That’s great.
But you have to keep your feet on the ground and remember that with a finite amount of time, energy and focus, you should choose to use tools that enhance your image, product or service. Don’t get so enamored with the latest “hot” online thing that you lose sight of your goal.
Or, to put it in a way my pre-internet grandfather would appreciate: don’t let the tail wag the dog.
UPDATE: Just found a great article here on cell phones “unleashing our inner rudeness” that has a quote from the first man to make a cell phone call back in 1973–it really resonates with the theme of this post (bold emphasis mine):
“You should not be a slave to your telephone,” he said. “The technology is there to serve you, not the other way around. If the technology is not making your life better — if it is robbing you of experiences in the real world that you would otherwise be enjoying — then you are working for it, when it should be working for you.”
Filed under Entrepreneurial, G Whiz, Message & Strategy, Public Relations, Tips & Tricks, Working Together · Tagged with AlexanderG Public Relations, Foursquare, Kansas City Small Business, marketing tips, Please rob me, public relations kansas city, small business, SMS, social media and public relations, social networking
Our take on the Public Relations Profession today, quoted in the Dallas Morning News. Click the link below to read all about it.
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