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rusty speidel Archives - Jaggers Communications

The Joys of Being the PR Firm Around the Corner

By | Communications, Public Relations | No Comments

I worked in St. Louis, Missouri for years.  17 in all, in fact. Five of those I lived in Charlottesville, Virginia. And while I loved that job, the firm I worked for, my colleagues, my clients and the work itself, traveling (and all its inevitable hassles) back and forth and not having the ability to “walk the halls” of my clients’ offices frequently wore me out. While I’m clearly a big believer in staying connected to others through social networks, I deeply value the ability to show up, to be present and to be eyeball to eyeball with people who are important to me.

At the end of 2010, after that last lonely hotel room, that last airline delay, that final unexpected layover, I quit the job in St. Louis and at the beginning of 2011 I opened my own shop in Charlottesville. I haven’t looked back since.

One of the truly great joys of working here is the ability to be present, live and in person, with our clients. A common day might include running into clients on the downtown mall, or really anywhere around town. Or learning the Gangnam Style dance from a client prospect at a mutual friend’s birthday party. Our proximity to those we serve allows us to dash, sometimes literally around the corner, to a client’s office. A client had a crisis recently and my colleague Rusty and I were able to pick up sandwiches for a working lunch and land at their office to work through the crisis management within the hour.

I’m not saying it isn’t perfectly possible to work at a distance, and we’re happy to do that, but there’s great gratification at being able to connect with those right here in our community.

Facebook Likes Are Back On My )@(#*$ List

By | Social Media | 2 Comments

After a blissful, serene quiet period, I have somehow started getting more and more “opportunities” to “like” one or another business on Facebook, usually in exchange for a CHANCE at some future benefit. Sometimes these opportunities are delivered in bulk, like a case of Pepsi (I’m a Coke man, myself) or doses of bad tasting cough syrup. What gives? Haven’t we already decided this is a bad idea over the long term? It feels a little smarmy, selling out the goodwill of your brand for a short little burst of happy. For we all know that these likes are fleeting, don’t we?

There are many articles on this. Here is one from ZDNet. Here is another from Fresh Networks, and yet a third from Social Media Today. They all say basically the same thing: once someone comes to your page and hits “like,” they rarely, IF EVER, come back. There is typically no reason to in their minds. 47% of potential  customers in a recent survey said that liking a page has no influence on a purchasing decision from that brand, and that 67% only liked the page to get better deals.

Facebook is a great platform for sharing the human side of a business and giving customers a glimpse of the people behind the operation. Sharing content, thoughts, and ideas with your customers in turn builds trust, which can enhance sales over the long term because we all feel better buying from trusted sources. But in order to earn and KEEP that trust, you have to be prepared to make the page a source of value EVERY DAY. If you promise one thing and deliver less, you will undo all your efforts.

So why would you undermine that trust by baiting “likes” with false or weak “deals” that will never be repeated? Moreover why would you PAY to do that?

Jaggers Communications on CBS-19: More about the Reinstatement of UVA President Teresa Sullivan

By | Communications, Crisis Communications, Media, Public Relations | No Comments

Did you catch Rusty Speidel on CBS-19? So much of the ousting and reinstatement of UVa President Teresa Sullivan has been about the public relations efforts that accompanied the story. Rusty provides commentary on the story as the Newsplex shares the latest poll confirming Sullivan’s approval rating. Watch here.

Five Ways to Beware the Social Media Scammer

By | Corporate Strategy, Media, Social Media | 2 Comments

There was an interesting study released last year by Booz & Co. in partnership with Buddy Media on social media and marketing and its impact on job growth. Some highlights:

  • Virtually every company (96%) has plans to spend more on social media; 40 percent plan to spend “substantially more.”
  • As companies are building up their social media, much of their investment is focused on hiring in-house staff. Partners also will play a key role in supporting companies as they use social more widely.
  • The money spent on social media will primarily be shifted from other forms of digital advertising, so new expertise will be required.

Great, we’ve gone mainstream!

But I gotta say, I’ve been really bothered lately by these so-called “social media experts” and “social media marketing firms” that are cropping up everywhere. “We have a decade of experience with Facebook marketing,” they say. Really?? It’s only five years old. Trust reduced. “View our case studies,” they invite. Really? OK, it says here your team worked with the client to develop a Facebook and Twitter marketing strategy. Cool. But what did that strategy actually include? What insights did you gather that make it worth sharing and using as a promo? Are you just spamming our news feeds with promos, or are you actually engaging? Why should I believe you without evidence?

Um, I don’t. Trust further reduced.

My point here is that there are a LOT of people out there capitalizing on the ignorance and fear of those who don’t understand how to tap into the amazing potential of engaged, strategic, social media use. They need real help, and so might you. So here are some guidelines to help weed out the opportunists from those folks that can actually get your social media projects off the ground.

  1. Make sure they create and deliver a strategy, not just tactics. Social media without a plan is worthless. You need to determine what your business goals are, how social tools fit into those, how content fits into that and who will do what. There also needs to be legit measurement against actual business goals, not just a laundry list of “likes” and “retweets.” If your potential vendor glazes over when you ask about those, run away.
  2. Check references. Did they actually accomplish anything of value for others? Not just what their web site claims, but real accomplishments that map to what you’re hoping to do as well. Can’t find those? Run away.
  3. Does what they claim sound reasonable? Anyone claiming to have more years of experience with a platform than it has actually existed would be a example of a suspect vendor.
  4. Run away from specific promises. “We’ll get you page one on Google, guaranteed!” would be an example. Another would be “get thousands of Twitter followers right away!” These things are theoretically possible, but without strategy and patience it will either be fleeting, damaging to your brand, or both.
  5. Focus on the conversation, engagement, and long-term relationships. These are the hallmarks of all the best social media campaigns. A legit social media strategist will embrace these ideas. Scammers, not so much.

Lock your doors, set the alarm, hide the kids!  Or call someone who can really help.

Have you ever been the victim of one of these scammers?

Remaining Calm Regarding SEO

By | Communications, Corporate Strategy, Media, Social Media | 2 Comments

We just got a call from a potential new client that runs a web site. Her site is currently the market leader in our area for her specific area of expertise, but a new competitor has just launched and she was a little worried about how that would impact her. She already has an excellent publishing platform, writes, contributes and shares regularly on the topics her customers care about, and has built all the necessary relationships behind the scenes to support her customers. She has a presence on all the appropriate social networks, but she still felt the need to get in touch with another local “SEO expert” to make sure she was on track.

Whenever I hear that, my neck tightens up.

The bottom line with SEO, just as it was way back in 2007 when this seminal post by Scott Karp was originally created, is that good content and user experience drive links and readers, and links and readers drive good search engine rankings. That hasn’t changed. In fact, Google already hinted at SXSW this spring that if you try too hard to optimize for SEO you could actually LOSE rankings. One thing that HAS changed is that your supporting social media presence is now a big part of how well ranked your site and content remain. Social is tied directly to search results. So what does this really mean and what should you do?

  • Google+ is going to have a huge impact on search results. One way Google can drive adoption of Google+ is to reward participation. What a concept! They have over 90MM users already and they all see personalized search results (SERPs). High participation and large, well-connected circle counts matter in Google’s search rankings. So get on there and start sharing!
  • Conversations and traffic are being emphasized almost more than keywords (which are still really important). The more visibility and connections a piece of content can generate, the better it does for SEO. Social networks are now the primary drivers of those connections.
  • Content remains king. The king is dead. Long live the king! Content has to be fresh, regularly updated, and well-distributed over the social web. So a good content publishing strategy with social distribution is a core competency for your business to develop.
  • Tweets and retweets matter. Google says they don’t directly count tweets in rankings, but a popular tweet containing a link earns a lot of re-publishing across the web that Google does crawl, index and count.
  • Facebook really helps Bing results. Through Bing’s partnership/integration with Facebook, results are massively personalized for any logged in Facebook user. So building a presence and sharing content there is no longer optional.
  • Social content distribution drives awareness and branding, which also drives searches. People just knowing about you and what you think will make them search for you more, yes? It also can lead to more love from the press, who are looking for easy ways to generate stories via social networks and connections.

In the end, it all comes down to content. As usual. If you regularly publish things that are worth reading and sharing and you hook up the necessary social platforms to actually DO that sharing (and enable your readers to help you), you will earn a social search rankings boost, gain natural followers and links, amplify your reach and influence, and bias consumers towards your stuff. And towards your business. All will be well. Deep breaths…