PR Tools and Bag of Tricks

Okay, a lot of times I get people asking me what are the super-secret tools in my blogging/PR bag of tricks.

I usually refuse to tell them, because it is about me and my tools and my skill set. It is not about making the industry better, but about pushing myself forward as the numero uno dude.

Oh, wait, that is not how I work. Damn. Well, if it was, I would totally beat down people. Totally.

Okay, really, I work with the interns here and try to teach them the best tools that I have found on monitoring the blogosphere. Why? So they have the skills here, so I can send them work to begin, and then when they go off to their career, they will be able to use some of the tools I taught them here, and then pass on the knowledge to other PR people. It's all about learning.

So, what do I use to find appropriate blogs? Easy: Blogpulse, Technorati, PubSub. Those three are great free tools to monitor and find information on blogs. Yes, they are not perfect, but they have been perfectly good tools to do what I need to do when finding and tracking and monitoring - they get the job done, for free.

And, there are other tools that I love to use, such as Biz360 and Buzzlogic. I got a demo of Buzzlogic, and think it is a great tool for PR and marketing folks to follow the conversation thread in blogs.

Because, that is what it is about - the conversation. The conversation can start anywhere - a bike messenger board, a low-readership blog, in the real world - and it can steamroll. That is the whole point with new media - that it is the conversation that starts, and can take a full whole new life on other blogs with trackbacks, which are easily monitored.

But, that is just half the conversation. The deeper conversations are taking place in comments, and beyond the ego-fulfillment to see if someone has responded to your comment, you want to be able to monitor comments merely to see what people are saying and because now too much happens within comments. And not much works well there so far.

So last night, I met up with Assaf Arkin who founded Co.mments. We had a long discussion on everything Web 2.0, dotcom boom and bust, surviving the bubble (and surviving the next bubble burst), and Co.mments.

And that is the interesting part. He tracks the conversations through the comments submitted through his service. Instead of looking at the full ginormous blogosphere, he is able to look at the conversations that his users are finding important. Think about that: he's getting a magnifying glass view of the blogosphere, through the comments.

But beyond ego-tracking, the tool is a necessary tool for PR people. It's in my bag of tricks, because it is not just enough to track blogs, but you need to track conversations. Well, baby steps for PR firms and clients - first let us at least track the conversation. Then we will get to the next step on tracking the conversations within the conversations.

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9 comments

  1. Hi Jeremy
    Great template design you have. Thought you had a polka dotted one before, so was just wondering for a second if I was on the right blog.

    Well, there lies a secret in your post. New bloggers, get yourself seen at technorati, blogpulse, biz360, buzzlogic, pubsub, and co.mments! I suppose nowadays pubsub has developed its own set of eligible criterias for blogs to get listed there - don't know how far it is true. And technorati seldom updates your site. The best tweak I found myself experimenting was deleting my blog claim and reclaiming it all over again. That way it reads all my latest and previous posts together.

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  2. Hey Jeremy,

    I'm a student and we've been focusing on PR 2.0 recently. I just wanted to say thanks for the reminder to look beyond just the blogs.

    The conversation that follows seems to offer more of a true idea about public opinions/perceptions. They may not be able to keep out all efforts of biased agenda setting, but at least they offer a more complete view of any certain topic.

    It's easy to gloss over the comment trail or forget it exists. But with actually minding this alleyway, how do you sift through? Can you offer any tips on marking a comment with actual significance?

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  3. Thanks Hobbit. I'm pretty happy with it. :)

    Nice hack on Technorati, and while there are problems, I look at Technorati from more of a tool rather than an ego thing for my blog. I use it more for finding other blogs that I need to be reading.

    Anna - good name, btw - the whole comment thread (and, well, threat) is the issue. Do I have any suggestsions on sifting through the commments? Just start using services that can track comments, and quickly read through them to see if there are any possible fires. It's the same with trackbacks - if someone has enough to say, they are going to post to their own blog as well.

    It begins with finding the right posts, and the commentary that takes place in the comments, and following the tracks and threads.

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  4. The conversation. That is what blogging is all about. I read another blog posting which really interested me that further define blogging as conversation. Here is its link. http://www.fprablog.com/2006/04/blogs_the_birth_of_public_rela.php. It brought up the point of monitoring blogs as a necessary part of any organization, whether or not there is active participation in the conversation. However, I was just wondering how candid do you think the conversations are? You mention tools which help you monitor blogs but what monitors blogs legitimacy? Blogging is steadily becoming the future for PR, used as an internet research tool to monitor and organizations audience, but what is monitoring its credibility?

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  5. Jenny, people are likely to be more candid on blogs, much more than in person, or on the phone. It's the level of anonymity - even though it can be your own name - that allows people a secure feeling where they can really say what they are thinking.

    When you blog, there's no real reason to self-edit. Well, you do self-edit, but that is likely to be more constructive rather than destructive.

    As for legitimacy, that's the funny part of blogging. Even the smallest, little read blog can start an avalanche of similar posts. You do have to limit your time and number of blogs you monitor, but you also have to be aware that the storm can start anywhere.

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  6. "Blogging is steadily becoming the future for PR, used as an internet research tool to monitor and organizations audience, but what is monitoring its credibility?"

    Outbound links. You look at who's linking to the blog, even a handful of links can give a blogger credibility.

    And if people who comment leave links to their own blog, you can learn more about them by following those links.

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  7. Great cheat sheet, Jeremy. I'll be checking out co.mments, but do tell us a bit more about Buzz Logic...it sounds cool.

    Dave

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  8. Assaf, thanks for saying what I was trying to say. :)

    Dave, it's sorta hard to explain - you have to see it to understand it, but it's an interesting way to see connections between posts.

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  9. As a wana be PR expert, I am amazed at what some of the so called professionals for major corporations publish as press releases.
    I just saw a release from Fort Dodge and I googled it, it involoves Preliminary Injunction for false claims in their advertizing.
    Its always interesting to see how they handle screwups.
    Merial is the plantiff in this and their press release was put out first, and was exceptional.
    It even included the actual court ruling so I had all the information and facts.
    Merials headline was "Preliminary Injunction Halts Ft. Dodge Ad Campaign -- False Claims Cited."
    Which was picked up and carried by everyone.
    Short concise, memorable; injunction and false claims.

    While Fort Dodge headline is "Fort Dodge Responds to Injunction Related to West Nile Advertisement"

    WHAT? Redundant! "here is our response".
    No information, not memorable, does clarify its about "West Nile ad".

    The next paragraph is a geography lesson.
    "Fort Dodge Animal Health today announced a preliminary injunction has been issued by the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta to prohibit the Company from running a West Nile-Innovator ad, which includes a specific fact sheet and comparative efficacy statements."

    Blathering run on sentance and said nothing, Nothing revelant so far. Its like the attorneys wrote it or the author is working for Merial, or was hired for other skills, ha ha ha.

    The rest of the release is almost a tacit admission of guilt.
    "When Fort Dodge learned of the concern involving the advertisement last year, the Company immediately ceased using it."

    And it wasn't their fault.
    "Unfortunately, two publications inadvertently ran the advertisement in question in the spring of 2006. While both publications have stated Fort Dodge Animal Health and its advertising agency did not request this specific ad and were in no way involved in its erroneous placement, the Company has taken proactive measures to address this matter with all publications that run advertisements for the Innovator vaccine and feels it has been successfully resolved."

    Finnaly we get to the meat IN THE FOURTH PARAGRAPH:"To clarify, the dispute is about comparison of data, not validity."

    The 5th paragraph is an advertizement.
    "Fort Dodge Animal Health, a division of Wyeth , is a leading manufacturer and distributor of products for the equine, livestock, companion animal, swine and poultry industries in North America and international markets. As a committed partner to veterinary practitioners, horse and pet owners, and livestock producers worldwide, Fort Dodge is making a difference in the future of animal health through innovative research and product development that address current and emerging animal health needs. Key products include West Nile-Innovator(R) and Innovator(R) combination vaccines, Fluvac Innovator(R) vaccines, QUEST(R) Gel and QUEST(R) Plus."

    The last paragraph is lawyers boilerplate and a probale indication or who is running their public relations department.
    "The statements in this press release that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements based on current expectations of future events and are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such statements. These risks and uncertainties include risks associated with the inherent uncertainty of the timing and success of product research, development and commercialization (including with respect to our pipeline products), drug pricing and payment for our products by government and third party-payors, manufacturing, data generated on the safety and efficacy of our products, economic conditions including interest and currency exchange rate fluctuations, changes in generally accepted accounting principles, the impact of competitive or generic products, trade buying patterns, global business operations, product liability and other types of litigation, the impact of legislation and regulatory compliance, intellectual property rights, strategic relationships with third parties, environmental liabilities, and other risks and uncertainties, including those detailed from time to time in our periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including our current reports on Form 8-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and annual report on Form 10-K, particularly the discussion under the caption "Item 1A, Risk Factors." We assume no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise."
    That is like something out of the 1960's.

    Merials last paragraph indicates they on the other hand have joined the 21st centary, and their PR department is not being run by lawyers. "Merial is a world-leading, innovation-driven animal health company, providing a comprehensive range of products to enhance the health, well-being and performance of a wide range of animals. Merial employs approximately 5,000 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide. Its 2005 sales were in excess of $1.9 billion. Merial Limited is a joint venture between Merck & Co., Inc. and sanofi-aventis. For more information, please see http://www.merial.com/."

    Marial has deleted their orginal press release regarding this, and it is being carried by 120 other sites.

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=%22Halts+Ft.+Dodge+Ad+Campaign%22&btnG=Search

    court ruling:
    http://us.merial.com/templatedata/merial/press_release/data/Preliminary_Injunction.pdf

    I would like evulations of my analysis, I will be using this in a case study for class.

    June

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