public relations: October 2008 Archives

Here's a video that's sure to go viral, from


Build your own video at
I've written previously about creating text that's reader friendly, but also creates meaningful keywords to search spiders. Several readers and students have asked for more information on keyword tools. Here's an excellent list of tools to try
Google Alerts is one of the most useful, yet basic tools for monitoring the Internet. With the current service, you receive email notification of your preferred searches when new information is added to the index.

If you're new to RSS, or just hungry to learn more, visit this link, which aggregates popular links tagged "RSS" at

Richard Edelman points out how the Federal government failed to tell - and sell -  the story of why an infusion of cash was needed to stabilize our financial markets. Note that the post was written on Sept. 30, before the bailout passed Congress.

One sure sign the project is being railroaded: no attempt to construct, frame and sell the message. Just gimme the dough.
As a public relations professional, I'm always thinking about relationships. That's my stock in trade. But for most of the world, it's money that does the talking. You gotta have that do-re-mi. 

Of course, smart businesses build relationships and make money. I was reminded of this the other day, when I attempted to return something to The Bicycle X-Change, a store in Wichita, Kansas. I had purchased a cable for a vintage three-speed English bicycle that I'm restoring. It turned out my existing cable was OK, so I returned to the store to claim my $8.49. I had with me the cable in its unopened package and my receipt.

The kid behind the counter told me he could not give me a refund, only store credit. I protested, so he got another employee to tell the same story. He pointed out that the receipt says "no cash refunds."

I told him that I understood that the business made that choice, but that it was unacceptable to me, and that I could also make a choice. I walked out of the store.

So who cares? What's one little customer?

Maybe nothing. But I do own six bicycles, one of which always seems to need some sort of attention. I am a former president of a bicycling club. I have organized 100k bicycle touring events. In college I worked in a bicycle shop. I once built a recumbent bicycle from scratch. When my friends are thinking about buying a bicycle, they ask me what to buy, and I go along with them to the store. In a very local way, I am a bicycle opinion leader. 

I gotta think that somewhere there's a bicycle shop that wants me to go home happy. 

Here's another way to think about my failed attempt to get my $8.49 back. The shop wins. They get to keep my $8.49. And every month, they'll turn around and spend crazy money on marketing to try to get people to walk into the shop. Yellow pages. Newspaper ads. I've even seen television ads for this modest shop. 

And they could've had me for free.

This is the lesson of the world-is-flat-social-media environment in which we live. In the old days, businesses sent a stream of messages to their customers, who listened. Today, many of the messages about a business come from its customers, who tweet their experiences. Blog about them. Write reviews on social media sites and message boards. Search engines organize this stream of information and make it easy to find for other customers. Research validates this concept: these messages are more credible than traditional ads. An entire industry has sprung up to manage these new online relationships. Social media marketers and public relations professionals help businesses understand this interactive environment and optimize their performance so the messages work for them, not against them.

I've started riding my bicycle to work, and am saving up for an Electra Amsterdam Royal 8. Know any good dealers near Wichita, Kansas?

The book I'm looking forward to reading will detail how the Barack Obama campaign was built in large part with expert use of social media. I attended an Obama event last winter, and have been impressed with the almost daily updates on how I can participate in his campaign for President.

Now the campaign has created an Obama-specific application for the iPhone. It allows you to participate from one easy portal. For example, it organizes your contacts by state, so you can first call your friends who live in so-called "battleground states."

Of course, iPhone users are likely to be social media-savvy and Democrat-friendly, so it's the right message for the right medium.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, there is a "Donate" button.

McCain's response: "iPhone? What's an iPhone?"

Sticky, sticky, sticky. Well done!

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the public relations category from October 2008.

public relations: August 2008 is the previous archive.

public relations: December 2008 is the next archive.

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