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For Immediate Release: 5 Tips for Making Your PR Social Media Friendly

  news-socialYes, there is an “S” in PR, and it stands for social. Like so many of your association’s traditional communications, press releases have gone social. This tried and true method of publicizing your events, product releases, partnerships, and other milestones is still worthwhile, but with a few added tweaks for the digital age. Cision, a provider of global PR software and services, recently posted a tip sheet for creating social media releases. I would like to highlight five of those tips here: 1-     Tell the story in your own words. Instead of posting your story in the typical style of a press release, put on your journalist hat and write it as if you were reporting on it yourself. Use quotes and descriptive, non-industry speak to make your story stand out from all the rest. 2-     Use multimedia to support your story. Studies have shown that the more multimedia you add to your story, the more engaging it is. While most text-only news releases just get viewed, it’s the ones with videos, infographics and photos that are most shared on social networks. 3-     Keep your social pitch under 120 characters. Your social pitch helps people easily share your story and should be tailor-made for microblogs like Twitter. With this in mind, keep your social pitch under 120 characters to allow others enough space to retweet and not cut off your pitch. 4-     Pull out short, relevant facts. People gravitate to – and are more likely to share – short, easily digestible snippets of information from a story. Pull some interesting facts from your story and put them in the Quick Facts section. This section not only immediately engages your audience but also makes it easier for them to tweet these facts to their followers. 5-     Create relevant and engaging content. None of these tips will matter if you don’t start with stories that your audience actually cares about. It may sound obvious, but there’s a lot of content being promoted that isn’t interesting to anyone, let alone your customers. So start thinking like them, or, better yet, ask them what they’d like to hear about. Willingness to adapt their communications vehicles to various distribution channels will serve associations well now and in the future. Related Content Paper and Pixels for PR: Follow Beyonce’s Example  
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Watch Yourself: When a Selfie Becomes a Situation

obama-red-sox-baseball “Have smart phone, will photograph self with others, and post online immediately.” This seems to be the prevailing attitude among Americans. According to Techinfographics.com, a million plus selfies are taken each day. We appear to be a nation obsessed with taking selfies and posting them online. As I travel around the country introducing associations to Fonteva For Associations, I have witnessed this phenomenon first-hand in airports, restaurants and other venues. Many associations are encouraging their members to take selfies during their major meetings. Even President Barak Obama has been caught in the act. He received negative press attention earlier this year when broadcast reports from Nelson Mandela’s memorial service captured him as he appeared to be taking a selfie with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and British PM David Cameron. Another recent selfie taken with the President has also caused quite a stir. During a White House ceremony to celebrate the Red Sox World Series win, slugger David Ortiz took a selfie with the president and posted it to his Twitter account. Boston Globe writer Michael B. Farrell reports that Ortiz’s selfie was retweeted 40,000 times. Who wouldn’t grab the opportunity to take a picture with the President? Most of us would. The difference is probably none of us is a paid social media ambassador like Ortiz, who has a contract with Samsung.  Of course the company posted the photo on its own Twitter account. When the “spontaneity” of his actions was called into question, Ortiz insisted that taking the photo with Obama was his idea and not a marketing ploy orchestrated by Samsung. Certainly, the President wasn’t aware of the player’s relationship with the company, according to White House press secretary Jay Carney. I would agree with Farrell that this scenario raises some important questions about the role of social media in marketing:
  • When is a social media moment also an advertising event?
  • Are the celebrities genuinely excited or motivated by money?
  • Should people be wary that every celebrity selfie is an endorsement of some kind of another?
These questions are becoming increasingly relevant for professionals working in all sectors, including association executives. For instance, let’s say your president or CEO takes a seemingly innocent selfie with a vendor at your annual meeting. If that vendor Tweets the photo, could that be construed as an endorsement? You’ll likely need to think about how your organization wants to address yet another complexity of social media. Watch yourself out there!  
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Friends and Followers Make Great Colleagues

enterprise-social-networkingGiven the amount time people – including your association’s staff members –spend using social media, employers in all sectors are eager to find a means for harnessing this level of engagement to their benefit in the workplace. Enterprise social networks may be the answer. In the simplest terms, an ESN is an internal workplace that streamlines communication among co-workers. Deloitte predicted that 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies would have fully or partially implemented ESNs by the end of last year.  ESNs are being identified as ways to give employees a sense of online community and establish connections between departments, especially within larger organizations. According to new research from Frost & Sullivan, the number of full-suite enterprise social media subscribers is expected to rise from 208 million in 2013 to 535 million in 2018. For example, Macy’s uses Tibbr, which has a profile layout similar to Facebook where employees can list interests and past projects. T-Mobile uses Jive, a mobile-ready ESN with profile functions that allow users to make recommendations and identify profiles of people they should get know within their companies based on shared interests and related areas of expertise. The Frost & Sullivan research also indicates that the benefit of enhancing business operations through social channels has begun to appeal to decision-makers. Frost & Sullivan also note that “the need to improve communications and collaboration in workplace to increase employee engagement, accelerate decision-making and boost overall productivity is driving the global enterprise social networking market.” Would an ESN make your association more collaborative and efficient? It could be time to start asking that very question. Here at Fonteva we value the sharing of information among our team members above all else. Technology tools geared towards this aim seem like a good step forward for all organizations.  
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Tax TV

IRS TAKEAWAY TUESDAY Take it away! This is the 12th in a series of posts that will be featured on Fonteva’s blog highlighting important strategies associations can take away from other industries. In today’s sixth-degrees-of-separation world, your members are assessing your association not just in comparison to similar organizations but in relation to the totality of their experiences as consumers. As such, we want to help you stay abreast of key trends and best practices, those takeaways that may benefit your association.
Tax TV Yes, today’s the day. Perhaps, you’re one of those people who filed your tax return months ago just as soon as you received the necessary documents from employers, financial institutions, etc. On the other hand, you could be among the one-third of Americans that the IRS says wait until the last minute to file their federal taxes. Preparing those annual returns is not a task most of us look forward to. Certainly, the sheer volume of information and instructions alone is daunting. In an effort to make its materials more accessible, one of the least popular government agencies has taken its case to social media. YouTube is at the center of the IRS’ social media efforts. The agency posted its first video there four years ago, and viewers can watch three different channels for short, informative videos in English, Spanish and American Sign Language. These channels feature more than 100 videos that have been viewed more than 7.5 million times. Videos are also available through the IRS Facebook and Tumblr sites. In addition, according to the agency, more than 95,500 people follow the IRS Twitter feeds, one which provides news and guidance for tax professionals. Further, more than 5.5 million people have downloaded the free IRS2Go phone app, which is available in both English and Spanish for Apple and Android devices. The totally redesigned IRS2Go 4.0 provides features to help taxpayers check on the status of their tax refunds, obtain tax records, find free tax preparation providers and stay connected with the IRS through social media channels such as YouTube and Twitter. For me the key takeaway here is that if the IRS can do it, so can you. If your association is still hesitating to develop a comprehensive social media strategy, what are you waiting for? Social is too important of a channel for communicating with your members and other stakeholders to leave untapped. As I’ve mentioned before, we’ve seen how useful video has been to some of our customers in communicating about new or improved member benefits like the enhanced portals that are available through Fonteva For Associations. Perhaps, it’s time your association took to TV to tout its benefits and programs.        
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Social Stats: Fact or Fad?

By now, you know how I feel about data. As far as I am concerned, for associations, data and decision should be synonymous. You can’t make the best strategic decisions without having the data you need to support them. Further, you need all of your data in one place for consistent analysis. Fonteva For Associations enables customers to eliminate point Platform Solutions and manage all transactions and interactions from a single database. This creates a better environment for viewing and managing data, and as a result, leadership can make more informed business decisions. At the same time, I share a concern recently expressed by Jerry W. Thomas, president and chief executive officer of Decision Analyst Inc. Thomas says, “Often, without thinking, we tend to see all data as equal, but rarely is that true. The corporate world is awash in data. It streams in from all directions 24 hours a day, and the data deluge continues to worsen.” I also agree with his view that in some instances, “more data often means more confusion. Which data are correct? What data can be trusted?” These are important questions that Thomas goes to discuss at length as he offers his point of view on nine types of data, ranked from most trustworthy to least. Here I would like highlight some of his key points about the trustworthiness of social media data. According to Thomas, while “social media data are, perhaps, most valuable as an early-warning system—of something going wrong, of a competitive initiative, or of an unexpected aberration,” they must be viewed with some level of skepticism several for reasons:
  • Sample size. Many product categories and brands are scarcely ever mentioned in social media, making sample sizes too small for data reliability.
  • Lots of noise. Social media comments are influenced by the news cycle, special events, media advertising, promotions, publicity, movies, competitive activity, and television shows (i.e., there is a lot of noise in the data).
  • Ease of manipulation. Social media data are subject to manipulation. You may think you are following an important trend in the data, only to learn later it was a clever ruse to confuse by a competitor.
  • Reliability of source. As social media comments are identified and collected via Web scraping, we almost never know the exact source, the context, the stimulus, or the history that underlie a comment. These unknowns make interpretation risky, indeed.
Certainly, your association’s social media data are worth evaluating from both a quantitative and qualitative perspective. However, you need to do with some degree of skepticism, so you’re able to separate fact from fad.
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