Guest Post: Organizing & Managing a Blog Tour, Part Two

This is part of two of a two part guest post from Julie Bonn Heath. Julie Bonn Heath is a PR/Marketing Professional, Author and National Freelance Writer. She lives on the beautiful Oregon Coast. See her blog, Marketing Jewels, at www.jbhmarketing.blogspot.com. More about Julie at www.juliebonnheath.com.

The management of a tour is very important. I tell the bloggers I’m working with that their receipt of the product is an agreement that they will post about the product honestly. However, I still must visit the blogs on the days that the post is scheduled and follow up if it is not there. There are commonly two or three bloggers on each tour that don’t post at all. Obviously, I don’t ask them to join any future tours.

Offering prizes or giveaways help bloggers compete for comments on their posts and help drive traffic. I usually offer a prize for the blogger with the most comments 7 days after their post goes live, a prize for a randomly chosen person who comments on one of the posts on the whole tour and sometimes a smaller prize for the blogger to give to a commenter on that post. The blogger can make any stipulations that they want for the individual prize entry and often do.

I also often make a blog post for the bloggers with the necessary information and the tour schedule. This assists with accountability for posting, communication with the prizes and a general excitement amongst the bloggers about the tour.

As far as tracking results, this is more difficult but not impossible. If the product is a book, I set up an affiliate link at Amazon to track clicks and sales. In addition, I track increased interest in the product by monitoring Google alerts before and after the tour and several additional parameters. Often, a product on tour will receive requests from the media for even more coverage and this has been a side benefit for several of my tours. One author received an offer for a blog job via a tour and another participated in two radio interviews. At the end of each tour, I send a “wrap up” to the client with their tour results.

It’s important to remember that an online tour can have results long after it has ended. Media mentions often stay on the Internet long-term and audience numbers will continue for as long as the links remain live.

What Does the PRo of the Future Look Like?

The very ground on which we stand in public relations is shifting. Like tectonic plates colliding miles under the surface, these changes are shaking up the industry. The PRos of the future will need to have different skills and use more traditional skills in new ways. These changes are creating new opportunities for smart, creative thinkers.

John Bell at Ogilvy’s 360 Digital Influence Team offers 13 skills that will be required for PR professionals to succeed in the future. His PR Brain for 2009 looks different than the PR brain looked even seven years ago when I finished my undergrad degree.


You can read John’s post, but the point of his skills that I take away are that you have to be quick, responsive (not reactive) and creative. You also must know how to think in terms of measurement, ROI and be able to talk business.

Katie Paine offers six skills that PRos of the future need to have in a recent newsletter article. Katie offers that incoming professionals must be able to listen, create campaigns with the audience in mind and value truth and transparency. She reinforces John’s point about measurement. PR professionals must know how to measure and make decisions based on data.

They’ll make decisions based on data, not gut feelings. Yes the gut will still be a powerful tool, but in an environment that morphs faster than you can say “Utterli, Seesmic, Plurk, and Twittergrader,” the gut will be a very difficult thing to read and rely upon.

Amy Ziari, rounds out these three recent posts with insights from a (fairly) recent grad. Amy is an Oregon alum and has a very forward looking perspective about new PR grads as the future of the industry. She offers this:

I’m proposing that recent grads have such an incredible knowledge source at their fingertips. We will be the leaders in advancing our profession forward, and teaching our agencies and many of our coworkers about these changes. We will also be the ones brainstorming ways to take our profession to the next level in the future as human communications and media continue to evolve. We are a generation like no other. That can offer to our profession like no other.

I am excited for my students. It’s a new world with tremendous opportunity and they will be ready for the future.

What do you think? What skills do new PRos need to have? How is the industry changing?

What if You Don’t Have a PR Degree?

I have had more than one request from young professionals or soon-to-be graduates who do not have or will not get a PR degree and are interested in working in PR in some capacity. So do you have to have a degree in PR to do this work? Nope. In fact, I’d venture a guess that the clear majority of folks working in PR don’t have PR degrees. A career in PR is often the result of a circuitous path.

Disclaimer: I have a PR degree. My students in the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon will all have PR degrees. Having a PR degree gives you the language of the industry and a unique approach to the work and our program at the UofO is very focused on real world activities and training strategic, creative thinkers. With that said…

What can you do to move into public relations or start your career there, when your degree says something like English Literature or Sociology or International Studies? Basically, get experience.

Some tips:

  • Volunteer: Can you volunteer a few hours a week at a local nonprofit? Participate as a PR volunteer writing newsletter articles, or pitching the media human interest stories about your organization. Chances are, that organization would love to have some free help and you can get some great experience. If you don’t know much about PR, find an organization that has someone who can mentor you.
  • Read, read, read: Many many smart PR people are blogging, tweeting and putting out info every day that you can learn from. Find a few you like and soak up all you can. If you’re not sure where to start, on the right navigation of this blog are some of my favorites.

    Beyond blogs, and PR focused material, it’s also important to be an avid consumer of media, generally, and to know what’s going on in the world.

  • Network: Participate in PRSA or IABC events in your local community. Get to know the PR folks. PR is a pretty small world and you’ll find your contacts will carry you far.
  • Update your skills: If you feel like you’re lacking the technical skills necessary for that first internship or job, find a way to get some practice. Take a skills course at your university or community college that focuses on PR, for example. Or ask a local PR prof what book they typically use in their courses or books they’d recommend. Generally, we’re pretty nice and are happy to help someone who is enthusiastic about what we do.
  • Intern: Seek out more formal internships, either in-house or with an agency. Depending on your market, you may be competing with PR grads (in Portland, Ore. for example), but if you’ve prepared yourself, you will be able to hold your own and show you deserve a chance.

If you’ve “fallen into” PR and have more tips… or if you’re working in PR and see the path that those around you have taken, please share!

Succumbing to the Hype & Watching Soccer

I’m hoping that ESPN’s coverage of the LA Galaxy and the Chelsea FC (which stands for football club, by the way, I looked it up) will include some educational commentary about how the heck soccer is played… ’cause I’m clueless.

The marketing and PR machinery behind the Beckham’s arrival in the United States is phenomenal, but as I see a sold out Home Depot Center on ESPN full of fans from both sides of the pond, it appears the results are positive for major league soccer and easily measureable.

In a celebrity-obsessed culture, it’s not about selling soccer, though, the Beckhams are the commodity. And we’re buying!

The ESPN team has much more in the works for David Beckham’s debut. According to Ad Week, Portland’s Weiden + Kennedy is leading the charge. The list of tactics (via Marketing Blurb)

  • A television commercial (which I love!)

  • A digital takeoever of ESPN.com the day before the game
  • Print ads in USA Today and ESPN the Magazine
  • Radio ads
  • Full coverage of David Beckham’s debut game with expanded pre and post show reports and interviews
  • ESPN special one-hour documentary, David Beckham: New Beginnings
  • A “Beckham camera” which will follow solely what David Beckham is doing on the field during his debut game for visitors at espn360.com

Will this translate to more fans in the long-term? I don’t know. Seems that ESPN and MLS is going to have to keep people’s attention for a while (and Beckham is going to have to be the stellar footballer the Galaxy is banking on). I’m already 27 minutes into my first soccer game… so we’ll see.

Image: Carl de Souza/AP/Getty Images

Sprint Should Do the Right Thing

Sprint is skeptical. A Tacoma family insists that their phones are being hijacked. They are getting death threats, someone is watching them through the cell phone camera and leaving terrifying voicemails on both cell and home lines. You can see the Today Show story here.

I’ve heard the story on a couple of news outlets, most recently on NPR. The NPR host characterized Sprint’s response as saying it was not possible to do what the family says was being done.

From the Tacoma News-Tribune: Complaints to their phone companies do no good – the families say they’ve been told what the stalkers are doing is impossible.

From KIRO-TV: “We are unaware of technology that would enable the activity portrayed in this story to occur, and we will support law enforcement as appropriate on investigating the issue,” Caroline Semerdijian with Sprint Nextel said.

Media have trotted out a series of experts that say, yeah, it’s possible. In fact, not only is it possible, it’s relatively easy (like teen-prank-easy).

According to James M. Atkinson, a Massachusetts-based expert in counterintelligence who has advised the U.S. Congress on security issues, it’s not that hard to take remote control of a wireless phone. “You do not have to have a strong technical background for someone to do this,” he said Tuesday. “They probably have a technically gifted kid who probably is in their neighborhood.”

An old story on MSNBC even has Sprint saying it’s possible to hack into a phone. So, it’s possible that Paris Hilton’s phone would get hacked, but not this regular person from Tacoma?

Others disagree, saying is possible, but very very unlikely. Many fingers seem to point at someone the family knows as behind this. And some are even pointing at the 16-year-old daughter.

The family matriarch was interviewed saying that they were going to take a break from cell phones for a while. She’d just received her disconnection notice from Sprint and told them she had no intention to pay the bill.

This is an opportunity for Sprint to step up and do the right thing – even if Sprint thinks the family is full of crap. The family is working with local law enforcement, the FBI and even Homeland Security. Clearly the threat is real to each of them.

Sprint should:

  • Provide new cell phones. New phones, new accounts, new numbers. They should ensure that the numbers are secure, locked, blocked and as anonymous as possible.
  • Comp the family’s service until this is worked out.
  • Be visibly cooperative with law enforcement.
  • Start and lead a new industry-wide “cell phone security” campaign to educate people and work to develop protections for its customers.

Sprint should not:

  • Discredit the experiences or feelings of customers. Any customers, much less those who are getting national media attention.
  • Make any kind of absolute statements saying this hijacking just isn’t possible.
  • Avoid commenting on any media story (you can tell Sprint is NOT doing the right thing because they are avoiding the spotlight. If they were being good corporate citizens, they would be talking.)

Any potential financial loss that Sprint would take here is going to be returned 100-fold in enhanced reputation. The wireless industry is cutthroat and if I were a Sprint customer, I’d be thinking twice about renewing my contract with them.

What are your thoughts?

Photo: Allison Yin/News Tribune

PR Major Poll

Please look to the right and take my “PR Major Poll.” What do you think? As we look at curriculum reform in the School of Journalism, are there courses we should add?

Who Do You Trust?


Edelman released its annual Trust Barometer survey results in early February. I’m always fond of nicely defined and clearly labeled categories. Categories provide a nice heuristic for linking new information with what we already know.

Based on seven years of research, the agency is able to draw some conclusions and segment influencers into categories.

Trust Holders provides an overall umbrella term under which several categories fall. Each category has a distinct way in which they “form or share opinions and how they act on trust in brands.”

From Richard Edelman’s 6 a.m. blog:

There are Public Activists who engage in outspoken public actions, Social Connectors who share, seek and value public opinions, Solo Actors who take personal action and the Uninvolved whose opinion of brands is not driven by trust reputation. We see that different spokespeople and media will reach these segments; for example, a Social Connector responds best to peers, employees and friends and family.

(Click on the image for a larger view)

I like it! I can easily see how most people I know would fit into one of these categories and even where I fit (I’d say I’m a social connector). I can also see how you could use this information to help your clients understand the importance of trust in the marketplace and that to build and maintain that trust you have to be consistent, but think about different channels, different spokespeople and different media to help get your messages across.

Read the full report and media coverage here.

Tips for Your First Agency Job

Paull Young of Forward Podcast spends about 10 minutes chatting with a two men – one a Sr. VP and the other at an entry-level position in an agency about skills, tips and advice for your first agency job. Some great tips!

David Jones is a Senior Vice President at Fleishman Hillard, Toronto, and one half of the excellent Inside PR podcast. Ed Lee is a senior consultant at iStudio and the author of Blogging Me, Blogging You. Between the two of them they have 19 years of experience in PR agencies.

David Young (the Sr. VP): A good understanding of media, being well-read and following different media. Being interested in media. Strong foundation in writing skills are also important. He says these are the two core factors. At a personality level, he’s looking for someone who can add to the team. He may be hiring a jr. level person, but is looking ahead. Could this person develop into a leader on a team? with clients?

Ed Lee (the entry-level): Adds to David’s advice and says to bring enthusiasm and try stuff out!

Listen for some more great tips! Thanks, Paull (and guests).

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