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Being busy is no excuse: Five ways any business can be successful with new media

By Alexandra Reid

There is no doubt that the digitization of business has put enormous pressure on professionals to do increasingly more work in far less time. Adding just one more task to your already busy workday is seemingly impossible so certainly undertaking something as demanding as new media is completely out of the question, right?

Although new media hits my sweet spot, I’m not about to sugarcoat it. New media takes a lot resourcing, especially the time required to create content.

However, being busy is also not an excuse to avoid new media anymore. Your community expects it and it is likely that your competitors are already in the game. Besides, the benefits of new media can be too compelling for you to dismiss considering it just because of time constraints. Brand promotion, SEO, on-the-spot customer service and feedback, networking and lead generation are just a handful of the advantages you will reap from being actively involved in new media. So why not give it a shot?

I am a firm believer that successful new media engagement is achievable by any business, no matter how busy, so long as there is a clear plan and a good support system in place. The beautiful thing here is that, as new media channels increase in popularity, support systems have been coming up roses specifically to help you fit new media into your busy work schedule. From advice offered in blogs and white papers to new tools, to teams of people who will literally do the work for you, businesses can now enjoy all the benefits of new media with far greater simplicity.

Here are five simple ways that any business can be successful in new media.

1) Employ a community manager

Community managers are employed specifically for their communication skills and their ability to provide a human voice for a company. With customers expecting more and more from companies regarding their willingness to listen and engage in conversation, it is becoming more valuable for companies to employ community managers to build and maintain long lasting relationships in this way. Community managers should understand the company’s vision and be well connected to company employees at all levels in order to direct messages of importance to the appropriate people and ensure these messages are answered. Once a community is established, community managers can be extremely valuable in brand building, customer service and damage control.

2) Hire an agency with new media abilities

Whether your community manager is internal or part of your external agency team, there are other services available from external agencies on an as-needed basis. Agencies can help you build and maintain an online community by crafting an overall strategy, crafting your new media accounts and content, monitoring your online conversations and engaging with your audience. Executing a successful social media program requires continuous engagement over the long haul, making it vital that a long-lasting agreement be established between any company and agency. Learn about inmedia‘s capabilities in this area in this post.

3) Allow your employees to have access to new media during work time

Blocking access does not keep employees off new media sites so why not steer their engagement to your advantage? Employees need to be trained and educated on the best practices of new media participation to both encourage them to endorse their businesses’ brand among their online communities and to avoid making damaging statements about their company. Staff using new media are also able monitor online conversations and deliver messages of importance to the right people. It is vital to know if negative comments are being said about your business or brand in order to develop a plan for damage control.

4) Optimize your new media engagement

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the immensity of new media and are running on a tight schedule, it is important that you optimize your engagement by determining your audience, your goal and your action plan. Agencies, such as inmedia, can help you through this process.

5) Use the tools available

There are a number of tools available to help you manage your new media engagement.

Google Reader: If you are going to use new media, it is important that you participate in the blogophere. Google Reader helps pull all your favourite blogs into one place, group them into categories and skim the headlines of the latest posts to ensure you don’t miss anything.

Hootsuite: Integrates several accounts such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and allows you to update everything at once. It also allows you to view statistics from your tweets and send messages from the same area.

Tweetdeck: Is a desktop management application that allows you to update several sites at one time.

Tweepi: Is a web-based Twitter tool that sorts through your followers to see whose Twitter accounts have gone stale and allows you to easily un-follow these people.

Google Analytics: Allows you to analyze your web traffic. It reports how many people are coming to your site from various new media platforms and which search terms people are using to find your website.

Delicious: Lets you save all the website and articles online that you want to read later while it also allows you to see what other people are reading.

I am interested in hearing what you have to say. Why do you think businesses feel discouraged from using new media? Do you have any other suggestions for businesses on a tight schedule int

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How to bring new media channels into the PR fold

By Alexandra Reid

The challenge of incorporating exciting new-media and social-media channels into traditional PR practices has been the subject of a great deal of debate in the PR industry and the source of a lot of consternation among clients. It has left a lot of people lost, confused and scrambling. For many, it’s as if this new technology crept up and pounced on them in the middle of the night. If you’re feeling perplexed as you try to figure out just how new media should be strategically deployed for business, rest assured that you’ve now got support

inmedia recently hired me as its community manager specifically to help clients incorporate new media activities into their broader PR and marketing strategies.

Many businesses wonder why, despite all their efforts in new media, they still haven’t managed to turn followers and connections into customers. Many have also experienced those horrifying moments where harmful conversations develop about their brand while they don’t have any strategy in place to douse the flames.

That’s why it’s imperative that businesses have a well-thought-out plan before starting any new media endeavour.

As a PR agency with the capabilities of a new media agency, that’s where we can help.

inmedia has been modelling best practices in new media for more than a decade and we have the expertise to prepare and execute new media strategies. Not only can we develop strategies for our clients, we can also implement these strategies on behalf of clients.

We found the transition to new media to be rather easy because we didn’t have to alter our existing practices. Let me explain this point because it is exactly this transition that bedevils many PR agencies.

PR has always been about managing relations with various publics. Going a step further, true PR has always been about building bi-directional channels that require PR practitioners to listen, understand and respond to public concerns and viewpoints in order to forge meaningful relationships between businesses and consumers. It has always been part of our job to bring the public perspective to an organization to enable it to be responsive to public concerns.

inmedia has always taken a highly personal approach to PR and these skills naturally transferred over to new media. This was no stretch, but a seamless extension of what we were already doing. We adapted our existing skills as we saw new outlets become available.

For example, even before Peter Merholz coined the term “blog” in 1999, we were already using the highly personalized approach necessary to be successful in new media. Unlike a lot of PR agencies, we have always taken a highly targeted approach to media relations that places a premium on knowing the target journalist and why she or he would be interested in our client’s story. This approach seamlessly and effectively transferred to pitching bloggers.

Even before the term “social media release” was coined by new-media thought leaders Tom Foremski, Todd Defren, Chris Heuer and Shel Holtz, we were incorporating its elements into our media outreach. In 2007, for example, when we were managing the global launch of the world’s most advanced prosthetic hand, the i-LIMB Hand, for British client Touch Bionics,  we uploaded a video onto YouTube that yielded 100,000 views within a month. We also uploaded a slew of photographs on Flickr, which developed into an active social site for the amputee patient community. Other elements, now seen as part of a complete social media release, were made available on the company’s website.

As larger numbers of useful new channels become available, we are incorporating them into our outreach efforts by sifting through social media and other sites to find the appropriate channels to which we can offer meaningful content and start a conversation.

Now we’re going one step further. After years of looking at the evolution of our PR agency’s use of new media, we are persuaded that there is a new role for us to play – to help clients build the capacity to effectively use social media.

For some time now, we have been researching and developing new media strategies to guide our clients in the building and management of their own social media sites and online communities. Increasingly, with clients that don’t have their own internal resources or know how to use social media sites, we now are also doing at least the heavy lifting of monitoring and identifying opportunities to engage, if not the whole job of also developing and posting content and responding to feedback.

As long as we are authentic and honest, we don’t feel that there’s much of a difference between writing an article for a trade publication under our client’s byline — something that PR agencies have been doing for decades — and representing our clients’ voices in new media or Tweeting on their behalf.

As I continue my work with inmedia in building out our social media practice, I’d love to hear your thoughts regarding PR agencies adopting new practices.

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