A Conversation with Serena Ehrlich, Executive Director, Attention
By UCLA X425 Student Misato Mizuguchi
Serena Ehrlich (@Serena), executive director for the Los Angeles office of New York-based social media PR agency Attention, was our second guest speaker at UCLA X425 – Best Practices in Social Media for the Communications Professional. She shared tons of useful tips on how to maximize the power of social media for your PR outreach.
If you are representing a brand, a product or an organization, and you want to deliver your message to the world, the first thing you need to do is to find your audience, which can include influential journalists and bloggers who can potentially help deliver your message to the public.
With millions of updates every day, it might sound difficult to narrow down your target audience amongst the flood of blogs. Fortunately, there are many resources out there that are free and can help you navigate the crowd. One such tool is Alltop.com, which gathers top stories by displaying the five most recent headlines (as well as the first paragraph) from blogs and other information sources. Another site is Muckrack.com, which helps you find journalists who are on Twitter and may be appropriate for you to pitch your story. These tools help you obey the basic rule; “Fish where the fish are.”
Another important task you need to do on a daily basis involves catching the first buzz of the news that relates to your company or client, before that news becomes widely discussed by the public. Serena shared an example of how she tracks topics related to her client’s by using practical tools such as Google news alerts. While such tools can’t search privacy-controlled posts on sites like Facebook, they’re still very important from a crisis management point of view to keep an eye on public conversations out there.
There are also many other free tools that can support your PR activity. Slideshare.net is a site that shares PowerPoint slides, and it’s a place where you can get lots of useful information before making a presentation to your client. Viddy lets you capture, produce and share important moments happening at real time using your smartphone. Storify.com lets you create a story by borrowing content from others. Useful applications such as Viddy and Storify.com let you easily update what is happening, and deepen the engagement between you and your followers.
After using all these tools, how can we measure the output of our social media PR activities? If you don’t have a big budget to purchase services from radian6.com or sysomos.com, luckily there are free tools to help you understand your social network presence. Klout.com measures influence based on someone’s ability to drive action. Socialmention.com lets you track and measure what people are saying about you, your company, a new product or any topic across the web’s social media landscape in real-time.
After listening to Serena talk about so many useful social media tools, my impression was that even with all these tools to support you, communicating through social media is about expressing excitement and being interactive with new topics. When you are the one delivering the message out there, your personality on social media sites is always more exposed compared to traditional media, and it can really influence the social engagement between you and your audience. If we are interactive and genuine in our use of Social Media and we utilize all the useful tools out there, the possibilities are infinite.