IT’S A JUNGLE OUT THERE

By: Risë Birnbaum

Walter J. Palmer (left) with Cecil the Lion. (man at right is unidentified)

Walter J. Palmer (left) with Cecil the Lion. (man at right is unidentified)

Whoever thinks PR doesn’t work, think again.  Karma’s a bitch for big game hunter, Minnesota dentist Walter James Palmer with OVER 5,000 NEGATIVE YELP REVIEWS AND COUNTNG.  Palmer’s the one who traveled to Zimbabwe, lured Cecil the lion out of a national park using a dead animal strapped to his car, and killed the beloved lion with a bow and arrow.  My mistake, the arrow didn’t kill him.  The wounded animal made it away until the group found him the next day and shot Cecil dead.  And there’s that pic of the dentist, with a very toothy smile, gloating over the limp lion like some modern day William Tell.

Well, Dr. Walter James Palmer is getting his comeuppance.  Thanks to swift news of Cecil’s tragic death through social media and online and broadcast news, animal rights activists along with everyday mensches are taking to Yelp to squelch Palmer’s practice.  The verbal bows and arrows being slung include reviews like, “There’s a psychopath living among us,” and, “Dr. Palmer shot me in the neck with a crossbow.”  Ouch.

Actions have consequences and when a tragic tale makes headlines, readers and viewers want blood.  In this case, that means targeting his Yelp page, River Bluff Dental, with one-star reviews (and worse) and slamming the “Dentist of Death” on Facebook.

Believe it or not, the guy spent $55,000 for the right to hunt and slaughter Cecil.  I guess root canals don’t come cheap.  I think the dentist needs to fork over another $55,000 to the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford. WildCRU tagged and tracked Cecil for research with the ultimate goal of increasing the lion population in the wild.  Ironic. Dr. Dummy should also throw away his bow and arrow (and maybe drill and mirror) and work in an animal shelter for the rest of his life.  And if I had my way, I’d tie him to a giant target and get the chance to practice my archery skills from summer camp.  Problem, is, I’m not that good a shot.

CRACKING THE BLOGGER CODE

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BY: JASMINE WALTON

In the world of PR, blogger outreach is one of the sharpest, new arrows in our quiver. Why? More laser-targeted impressions, which means the right reach. And it’s only natural that followers are more likely to trust a blogger’s word over a branded ad.

Our zcomm team taps into the blogger world, in addition to other digital marketing tactics, to target specific audiences in industries including health, beauty, food, consumer and non-profits.

One of our key partner bloggers is Kimberly Vetrano, the founder of “She Scribes.” Kimberly doubles as a mother, wife, photographer and freelance writer. She decided to become a blogger because she loves to write, and blogging was a way to write about her life.

Kimberly prides herself on blogging about a variety of topics for a diverse readership. Her tag line is “A little bit of this, a little bit of that.” In fact, her blog topics are heavily influenced by her readers. She makes sure to read her fans’ comments, and even does yearly “polling” to find the topics that her readers find most interesting. In addition to blogging about her life, she also tracks and writes about what’s trending — crafts, recipes and style posts are all hot topics now.

When asked how she keeps her blog so active, Kimberly says her blog is her business, and she treats it that way. Kimberly says, “I make it a priority to post at least once a day, 7 days a week. If I have something planned on the weekend, I’ll write a post ahead of time and schedule it on the weekend.”

Kimberly tries to engage her followers through social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. “Social media influences my blog in a big way…there are plenty of readers who share the same interests and can engage with you about them on social media channels or via comments on the blog posts.”

Kimberly’s favorite social media outlet is Facebook. “I feel like I can connect with readers more on that platform. I can scroll down and read comments and reply to them when I have a chance. I feel like Facebook is more personal.”

When relevant brands come to zcomm for blogger outreach, we call Kimberly (and lots of other bloggers) with the kind of content that she loves. Because we know what she likes. So, when reaching out to bloggers, take time to read the blog on a regular basis BEFORE you contact them so you know exactly what they write about and the content that floats their boat. That’s the key to cracking the blogger code.

YouTube Generation

YouTube is blowing up and it is no surprise. Anyone can create an account and upload fun videos to gain attention. YouTube is quickly becoming a resource for people and brands to express themselves. There is more video content uploaded to YouTube in a 60 day period than the three major U.S. television networks created in 60 years. That is a lot of content especially for a company that was only founded seven years ago. With so much content being uploaded daily you might be wondering how you make yourself or your brand stand out.

First, identify your target audience. Are you a brand? Who is listening to your message? Once you pin down the identity of your audience you can then choose how you want your YouTube branding to be. Is YouTube a resource to help get your business message out there? If so, then your content should help describe your business and showcase the company culture.

Second, you want to keep your content fresh and innovative. Once you have built an audience you don’t want to lose them by posting irrelevant information and not sticking to your brand identity. The best way to keep an audience engaged is by making your channel personal, posting often and incorporating your channel with your other social media platforms.

Last, ask for feedback from your audience. What do they like that you are posting? What are the video’s with the most views? Another way of asking for feedback is on your other social media sites. Once a video is up you can post a Facebook message saying “Check out our new video. Click LIKE if you want to see more videos like this.” This also helps your audience feel engaged with your channel and helps you gain insight for future videos.

Now that you have all the tools needed to create a successful YouTube channel you can get out there and test the waters! Don’t forget to have fun and for old times’ sake check out the first video ever uploaded to YouTube here. Have fun YouTubing!

Gold Rush

It’s August, half of DC is at the beach and the other half is still reeling from Olympics-withdrawal.  Is there a patch for that?  If so, I could sure use one.  Maybe a 12-step program.  “Hi, I’m Risë, and I’m an Olympics addict.”  If there’s coffee and donuts at those meetings I’m there.

There were literally times when I was so wrapped up in watching swimming or diving or track & field that I didn’t dare run to the kitchen to make a sandwich and then run back to the screen.  I was hungry, but the games were on.   I couldn’t miss one second of Ryan or Aly or Missy.  And Misty, LeBron and Lolo had me glued to my couch.  I was seriously thinking of getting an Olympics tattoo (then thought again).

Was it that the coverage was everywhere?  Was it that online sites and Twitter and Facebook broke the news hours before it hit my TV?  Was it that it took place in London, one of my fave cities?  Not sure if it’s any or all of the above, but boy was I hooked.  And I’m still in recovery.

There’s this 4 hour window every night and I just don’t know what to do with it.  I’ve tried drinks and dinner with friends, a movie, even doing my laundry (special treat) but nothing works yet.

My blood still runs red, white and blue for our primed & pumped athletes and the urge is still there to get home so I can turn on the non-stop coverage of our agile, muscled, fist-pumping and bumping gladiators bringing home the gold. They may have stopped giving out medals, but the rush is still there.

This was kinda like a separation.  Yes, I’ll get to see the summer games again, but not for another four years and next time in Rio where they’ll probably have a samba competition.  Never been to Rio, but I’m definitely thinking about it.  Can you imagine a cooler place to watch beach volleyball?  I can’t.

Ate logo!

Young Guns Take on PR

The Washington Women in PR Emerging Leaders Awards is at the National Press Club and it’ll be one crowded event, and deserves to be.  It’s fantastic that WWPR takes the time and energy to salute up-and-comers in the industry.  Without kids passionate about PR earning their stripes, where would our industry be going?

The terrain has drastically changed over the past few years and will continue to shimmer and shift as everyone scrambles to learn more about the changing technology and how to integrate it into our communications practices.  No, not every new app, platform or blog site is right for marcomm, nor will every new app or platform survive, but it sure helps the industry to have youngsters come aboard who have been spending the last few years soaking up the new stuff and applying it whenever it makes sense.

It was the younger crowd in my agency that suggested we work with Pandora, Pinterest, QR codes and She Speaks on behalf of clients, and also know the exact online video hosts to reel in the right audience.  And if I ever have any question about what 20- and 30-somethings are plugging into, I just ask them in a meeting and we bat around new and juicy ideas.  Talk about off the grid.  Without emerging leaders, we wouldn’t have the freshest most innovative thinking.

And when we fold the new ideas into our proposals and programs they not only sizzle, but also provide new channels for an industry that has its roots in radio, print and online.  Why not leverage the video and audio and place it on key blog sites, partner with blog networks, catch active consumers in fitness clubs, grocery stores, even bars?  Let’s touch our audiences at home, on laptops, on tablets, on smartphones, while they work out, in airports, when they shop and when they go to the doctor.

So a big thanks to WWPR for putting on the event and props to the young guns who are smokin’ and propelling PR to new heights.

The Heat Wave is Worth Talking About

It’s too damn hot.

I’ve lived in DC since 1984 so I’m used to swamp-like weather in the summer, but this has been one blistering month even by DC standards.  And it’s the warmest January-June stretch ever recorded.  Ouch!

So, naturally the storms, power outages and chill-seeking are all making headlines.  Add in some flash floods and chunky hailstones and it’s like the 10 plagues, except it’s all heat-related.  And it’s a great story for bloggers, Tweeters and reporters.  “RECORD HEAT BLASTS COUNTRY.”  The heat story rotates as lead between the political wars and the countdown to the Olympics.  Check it out on CNN, MSNBC, WebMD and probably even Pinterest.

At lunch today someone around our conference table actually said it felt much better out today…”it’s only 90.”  Who knew 90 degrees was cool?  Let me run and get a sweater.  Better yet, my arctic parka from college (the navy one with fake fur around the hood).

I was big-time lucky last week when my power stayed on after the storm of the century.  I looked out my terrace and it was like the aliens were invading.  The sky was strobing blue and white with thunder, lightning and pounding rain.

Post-storm fallout has not been pretty.  Just google weather on YouTube and check out the downed trees, power lines and raging rivers not to mention the fires out west.  It’s like the end of the world and it’s not even the Mayan calendar.

In a stab to beat the heat, I flew to long Island this past weekend.  I figured it’s always cooler at the beach.  Wrong.

So, what to do?  Besides the online tips to drink water and stay indoors I have one better.  Go to the movies!  See Magic Mike, Savages and Spiderman 12, a triple feature.  Sit in a cushy seat, eat some popcorn and get your fluids while you chill next to an a/c vent.

I know….not everyone can go to the movies when there’s a real disaster at the door.  But, when it’s just too damn hot out and the power is still on, just give me an ice cream and a DVD of White Christmas and I’m happy.

Stop following me, creep!

This post is part of a series written by zcomm interns. Be sure to check back each week for their take on the latest in the public relations industry. This week, Hailey discusses the importance of knowing who to follow on Twitter.

Image: iconarchive.com

Sure, quantity may be more important than quality in some situations, but that shouldn’t be the case with Twitter followers. Quality over quantity is the way to go when deciding who to follow as well. For an individual, following as many people/brands/companies as possible would just be annoying and essentially pointless. For a company, brand or public figure, it could even get weird.

Just ask Nebraska Treasurer Don Stenberg. He learned the hard way to be mindful of whom you choose to follow. During a debate last week, the other Republican Senate candidate, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, accused Stenberg of being “creepy” for trying to follow his 14-year-old daughter on Twitter. Politicians make accusations often, but I think Bruning got it right. Check out the video to see the awkwardness unfold.

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