Tag Archive | Communications

Social Media Lessons Learned – #SMRTCCE

The Social Media Research & Techniques (#SMRTCCE) course at McMaster University is coming to a close.  One of the most valued lessons I have learned from this course is that peer sharing is very important. This offers professional development as individual communicators, but also to support the development of best practices within our industry.

Three points brought up during this course were important reminders to me:

Research is the cornerstone of all Social Media Strategies

Research offers the benchmark for the entire plan.  Without research you can’t answer the important questions of: who, what, why, when and where.  Like any race, if you don’t know where the starting line is, you won’t be able to know if you won (among other things).  ‘Gut instinct’ is fine to use for part of your research, but spend the time and money to get some hard metrics – your success depends on it.

Best evaluation of Social Media efforts requires human intervention

Software tools are plentiful, but many are still in the beta / development stage.  Yes, they can get the hard metrics for you.  However, when it comes to measuring sentiment, the human experience is indispensable.

“Please” trumps “I am sorry” every time

Ask permission before posting anything – quotes, photos, etc.  Do not assume that since you personally think it is okay (because YOU would be okay with it), that this is true for everyone else.  Not only will this help protect you (the professional) against possible liability, but will also demonstrate good character to those around you.  A good reputation is incredibly valuable and takes a long time to acquire, so take care of it.  Even though “I am sorry” goes a long way when a mistake is made (none of us are perfect), remembering to say “please” is the better way.

Social Media (as a business communication tool) has grown up, and now has acquired enough history behind it to be able to evaluate, learn, and re-direct as needed.  The readily available information shared by experts in this field (in the areas of research, planning, execution, and evaluation) will make it easier for those just starting to introduce Social Media into their business practices.  For those who want to take Social Media to the next stage, and start using Social Media as part of their strategic planning, this information will be even more helpful.  But there is a lot of so-called ‘expert’ advice out there.  Look for those thought leaders that have experience using Social Media as a tool to support business objectives, that will offer metrics to support a good ROI (Return on Investment) for social media , and that have experience in various aspects of business (not just within marketing or public relations).

My professional road map…

  1. Continue to work with small businesses in the area of strategic communications to support their business objectives.
  2. Take the next course in the Public Relations Diploma program at McMaster University this Fall (learning never ends!)
  3. Spend more time networking with other communicators to support best practice development within our industry.

Social Business: A Measuring Stick

What is Social Business?

“An organization that has put in place the strategies, technologies and processes to systematically engage all the individuals of its ecosystem (employees, customers, partners, suppliers) to maximize the co-created value” [1]

How does your business measure up?

  • Connected – Internal and external stakeholders of the organization are able to seamlessly engage in conversations.  Various communication platforms relevant to the position and accessibility of the people involved are available.  i.e. Intranet for employees, Social media sites (open for the public and closed groups for employees), Email, Forums, Chat rooms, Video Conferencing, etc.
  • Social – Authentic, honest, and transparent are the key etiquette rules for employees that are part of a social business.  Less about selling / marketing – more about engaging in two-way communication.  This is especially true when representatives are providing content for official company sites, but also when they publicly post and engage in conversation personally.  In both situations, they are ambassadors for the company while they are part of the organization (employees, contractors, etc.)
  • Present – Conversations may begin by being posted on a company website / social platform / media release   (i.e comments on the site, linking back to an article from another social site, reference in a blog or magazine article, etc).  It can also begin from an offline experience but posted online by one of their public (i.e. customer review site, video, comment on social media site, etc)
  • Intelligent  – Not only intelligent, but also responsible.   Intelligent because you will have systems, tools and resources in place to measure, monitor and evaluate results (qualitative and quantitative) against business objectives.  Always need the Return on Investment numbers.  Responsible because you will be setting the company culture.  You are saying that you are listening and showing you care by responding.  Don’t let them down – Listen and Respond!


Social Business articles:

What is Social Business?

Social Enterprise 

Social Business Overview

What the hell is a social business? 

References:

[1]  Social Business 

Wikipedia – Social business model  

Social Business Blog Series:

Off-Line Networking Wins

Building online relationships through social sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogging, etc. are important, but  if you have to pick one over the other, building off-line relationships is more beneficial.  I don’t mean just rubbing shoulders in a conference and then leaving, but having the opportunity to hold real conversations with people.  These may be people within your industry, or people who know people, who know people, who know people… because 6 degrees of separation is a reality.

Why is a hand-shake better than an @mention on Twitter?  Because there is more to a conversation that just words.

What makes Off-line networking better?

  1. Honesty through body language –  gives you the opportunity to talk with someone and see their response to your words, or to you in general.  Do you ever notice that when someone loses interest in what you have to say they look away (or their eyes glaze over) or start to fidget?  This is your chance to redirect the conversation to keep them engaged, or let them go because you know now that they really aren’t interested in what you have to say.  Perhaps though this  is not about them, but about you.  Think of their response as a mirror to you.  Are you speaking only of yourself?  These are hard lessons that cannot be ignored when you are in person.  Real engagement is when you talk about others, and less about yourself.  You don’t get that opportunity to have this kind of immediate and insightful feedback when you are online.
  2. Memory – You have the opportunity to include all your senses (and emotion) when meeting someone in person:  Smell – the greatest sense for enhancing the memory, Sight – 3 dimensional sight is more effective than just a profile pic, Sound – how  their voice sounds during a casual conversation may offer insight to how they REALLY feel about what they are saying (podcasts that are scripted don’t offer such insight).  All of this gives you clues to who these people really are.  It will help imprint on your memory for future discussions that may take place later:  off-line or online.
  3. Speed – With all of the above factors taking place during a physical interaction with another person, the speed of getting to know one another through off-line conversation is so much faster than online.  Hard to believe, but online is slower in some things, and this is one of them.
  4. Authentic – people cannot hide their true self when in the company of another, or at least not as well.  Perhaps this is unnerving to some, but in the age of transparency and communication excellence, this should not be a problem.  #foodforthought
  5. Healthy – YES, it is healthy to get out and be with other people!  Away from the computer.  Physically interacting with other people.  For some people this is part of their everyday life, but more and more we find ourselves spending an incredible amount of time behind the screen of an electronic device.  Be good to your body:  Get out and mingle!

I enjoy the sales meetings and conferences that I have the opportunity to attend – especially the global ones.  Not only to learn about new products, but because it is a healthy change of pace.  It is a chance to meet peers from other countries :  to share challenges, accomplishments and best practices.  NOT over a digital platform, but with the mountains at our backs, music around us, drink in hand and much laughter and smiles.  Business cards exchanged, LinkedIn profiles connected, and promises to stay in touch.

THIS is networking.

What other benefits have you experienced through off-line networking?

Image borrowed from : WannaReadYou.com – More about body language

Emergency Management and Communications

Who are our emergency managers?

Emergency management (EM) professionals’ role is to protect people, property, critical infrastructure and the environment during emergencies and disasters.  They are often involved in educating  the public on how to be prepared for such events. When a disaster occurs, they are the ones that are organizing the efforts to get help to those in need.  You will find emergency managers in any organization that are First-Responders during a disaster or emergency – i.e. Fire, Police, Paramedics, Hospitals, Municipalities, etc.

In Ontario, it is law that each municipality is required to have an Emergency Management Program Coordinator. [1] [2] Emergency management is sometimes a role within a role.  For example, a fire chief may take on the job of an emergency manager [3].  A sample task within this role could be overseeing the implementation of a more effective communication program between various First-Responders (i.e. police, fire, mayor’s office, etc) to use during an emergency.

How do they communicate?

Working with FutureShield for a couple of years, I have had the privilege of meeting some exceptional EM pros from across our country.  One aspect of FutureShield’s  business is to help their customers find the right software technology to support better communications within their organizations.  These men and women in charge of sourcing out such solutions are some of the most innovative, visionary and tech-savvy among their peers.  They understand the advantages of using technology to assist their efforts to support the welfare of our communities.  Examples –  Windsor Exercise , U Windsor wins the MTIA award , BC Hydro’s security during the  Olympics

Do these same people embrace social media as part of their overall communication plan?  How is social media affecting their roles?  How does it fit within their overall communication strategy?

Related Blogs:

References:

[1]  Ontario Regulation 380/04

[2] Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act

[3] Emergency Management Coordinator as an additional position – North Bay, Meaford, New Tecumseth

People, Links, Related Articles:

Patrice Cloutier  – Communications Strategist for the Ontario Government

Shared Emergency Management links

IAEM – International Association of Emergency Managers

OAEM – Ontario Association of Emergency Managers

Emergency Management Ontario – EMO

www.sm4em.org – online group for Social Media for Emergency Management – including Twitter Hash tag discussions #SMEM

Community Matters

Working and living in a small community all my life has shown me the value that our neighbors, friends, local businesses, etc have in our lives.  Even with the world of technology becoming more a part of our lives, it does not take the place of people needing and wanting to be with other people.  History shows the importance of creating strong connections with people:  within our immediate familiar circles and those on the ‘other side of the bridge’.   Community is important to all of us in one way, shape or form.

What are we doing in the area of  Marketing, Public Relations and Communications that is affecting our society – small and large. What tools do we have today to support our communities communicate with one another and within the group?  Who is making a difference in our communities and why?  What is happening in the world today that affects us?  What can we learn from historical communities?  Tips & Testimonials.

My experience comes from almost 20 years in small town retail, traditional education in Business & Public Relations, and my life as a small town ‘gal’.

Small businesses, Government, Recreational Activities, Families, Education, Environmental and Healthcare all play a part in the well-being of our society.  It will take true transparency, authenticity, effort & compassion from everyone -organizations and individuals –  to make a our communities thrive  Let’s  learn, let’s live and let’s leave behind greatness in our communities.