Social Media Best Practices: PR Group Project

29 11 2010

This semester my PR class is working for a client, Safe Harbor.  In addition to the Pepsi Refresh Project, the class has split up into groups to produce deliverables for our client.  My groups is working on a social media best practices guide including a calendar of when to post to Facebook, Twitter and the blog and a section on how to launch a social media campaign.  We are also creating a document with recommendations for their website including the addition of a press room and a discussion forum.  The first step in completing these deliverables was research.  We looked extensively at Safe Harbor’s Twitter, Facebook and blog.  We also looked at other nonprofits and specifically domestic violence shelters to see how Safe Harbor compared to the competition.  We found that the American Red Cross was a great example for nonprofit organizations hoping to get involved in social media.  This organization is very active with social media and even has a social media plan and how to for its branches.  We are using this organization to help us give suggestions to Safe Harbor.  Safe Harbor is doing a fairly good job with social media.  We have just a few suggestions on how to make their Twitter, Facebook and blog more effective and align them with each other.  We think that these social media sites need to be more conversational and work as a team to promote Safe Harbor and domestic violence.  Many of our tips include marketing their social media accounts, how to make posts on these sites more strategic and how to increase followers, friends and comments.  We hope that our suggestions help Safe Harbor to become more involved and a better networked nonprofit.

Update on our Pepsi Refresh Project

22 11 2010

In an earlier post I mentioned the year-long social media campaign Pepsi has launched tiled the Pepsi Refresh Project which will donate more than $20 million to charity projects.  My PR class has applied to win a $25K grant for our class client Safe Harbor.  Safe Harbor is a domestic violence shelter in upstate SC that provides shelter, counseling and other services to abused women and children.  The 2 Safe Harbor shelters are in desperate need of revitalization as more than 500 women and children sleep and stay in their 2 shelters a year.  If Safe Harbor wins the grant they will use the money to purchase new mattresses, playground equipment and carpet for their 2 shelters.

To help Safe Harbor win this competition my PR class is leveraging all of our individual social networks as well as Safe Habor’s social networks.  We set up a plan to strategically post on Safe Harbor’s Facebook and Twitter 3 times a week.  We have also asked Safe Harbor to post on their blog about the project and tell others through their email networks.  Individually we have sent emails to our networks, posted on our Facebooks, Twitters and blogs.  We have also tapped into to Clemson University’s networks by emailing departments, campus organizations and even the president to ask them to support our effort and vote daily.  In addition, we sent press releases to local media.  Our press release was published in The Tiger, Clemson University’s newspaper.

So far our efforts have been successful.  We have moved from number 207 to number 85 and continue to climb.  We have to be in the top 10 by November 30th to win the grant.  Please visit our page on the Pepsi Refresh site to vote!  We need your help!

Creating Social Culture

18 10 2010

This chapter discusses the notion of social culture that is created from an organization’s online presence.  The book defines organizations that have social cultures as:

  • use social media to engage in two-way conversations
  • embrace mistakes and take calculated risks
  • reward learning
  • use a “try it and fix it as we go approach”
  • overcome the need to do things as they have always been done
  • understand and appreciates the informality of social networks
  • trust staff to make effective decisions and respond rapidly to online situations

Often organizations are afraid to let go of their control and chose to engage only partially online.  This is not an effective way to build a social culture.  An organization’s online activity should be real and authentic.  One way to help ease the fears of organizations when it comes to social networking is to create a social media handbook or online communication guidelines.  The book mentions the American Red Cross’ social media handbook.  This will ease the feelings of fear and anxiety of letting control go.  I found a website that links to different organization’s social media handbooks.  It is very interesting to see how different organization’s attempt to ease fear of losing control with the principles it outlines for social media use.  The American Red Cross does an excellent job of guiding users through FAQs, explanations of social media tools, how to create a strategy, etc.  This is something my group feels that our client, Safe Harbor, really needs help with.

This chapter includes an outline of what should be included in social media guidelines.  The suggestions are:

  • A purpose statement for the policies
  • Reminder that everyone is responsible for what they say online.
  • Encouragement to be authentic.
  • Reminder of who the audiences are and what they mean to the organization.
  • Encourage good judgement.
  • Balance personal and professional roles.
  • Respect copyright and fair use.
  • The need to protect privacy of clients.
  • Use social media in a way that adds value to the organization.
  • Create balance between online and on land activities.


Selecting and Training Spokespeople

5 10 2010

It is critically important to choose the right spokespeople.  The messenger is extremely important in establishing trust and credibility for your organization.  This particular chapter talks about how to choose the right spokesperson; understanding what is meant by “on the record,” “off the record,” and “on background”; getting professional training; and presenting a face and name people can trust.

One particular part of the reading that seemed especially important was understanding media terms and how to successfully interview with the media.  The number one rule all spokespeople should understand is to assume that everything is “on the record.”  This avoids confusion and avoids bad press.  Spokespeople should be especially careful what is said around the media and in media interviews.  Always present your organization in the best light by using accurate information, not exaggerating and always communicating effectively.

Another point this chapter brings up is that the press is constantly trying to “put a face” on issues.  Many times they want access to real people who can tell their stories about the issue that the organization is involved with.  This involves extra preparation to ensure that these people are protected and adequately prepared.  However, sometimes “survivors” are great spokespeople for an organization or issue because they experienced it first hand.  Safe Harbor could benefit from this tactic.  It would put a face and a survivor story with the organization.  This is very tricky for an organization like Safe Harbor whose issue is domestic violence, because it could put the person in harms way.  Organizations who support issues where their survivors could be harmed from sharing their stories need to be especially cautious.

Creating Movements for Social Change

8 09 2010

I recently posted a blurb about Brains On Fire and the PR campaign movement they created called Rage Against the Haze.

A recent blog post by Brains on Fire, Movements Move People to Believe, further discusses the notion of movements and what makes a movement so special.  A movement must be generated by the organization or group of people who support it.  They must believe in the organization and believe in themselves.  This post had me think of our class project involving Safe Harbor, a shelter for abused women and children.  Safe Harbor and domestic violence as a whole needs a movement, not just a marketing campaign.  In order to initiate lasting social change:

  1. People need to receive clear and consistent messages from domestic violence shelters like Safe Harbor
  2. People need to be educated about domestic violence and be shown that there is a better way to live
  3. Safe Harbor needs to encourage people to share their healthy lifestyles or healing stories with others so that they too can believe that they can get help and make a change

The post states that: “any brand can ignite a movement with its customers, so long as the brand can move people to believe in the company, to believe in a better way, and to believe in themselves.”  I think that this advice would be very beneficial to any nonprofit organization who is hoping not only to initiate a PR/marketing campaign, but wants to create SOCIAL CHANGE…A movement.