Monday, May 21, 2012

Engaging Your Audience Online

Engaging with your audience in an organic and casual forum is what builds crowds and sells books. There’s nothing that fosters a fan base or followers like interpersonal connection; getting into the ‘trenches’ if you will, and really playing an active role in enriching your audience’s lives. Emerging trends are imperative to keep an eye on, and when it comes to getting involved with your demographic, there are many developing avenues to explore; here are a few of them.

Reddit AMAs (Ask Me Anything): Reddit, a social news website that I’ve mentioned numerous times on our blog, has experienced a meteoric ascent in terms of online popularity and power in the last year. Its denizens, or ‘redditors,’ organized and raised $600,000 for charity to promote a Stephen Colbert rally in 2010, and fomented the SOPA/PIPA online blackouts earlier this year that altered the course of governmental policy. An ‘AMA’ or ‘Ask Me Anything’ is a sub-section of the website that allows users to tell their story, and open themselves up to a variety of questions from Reddit users.

An online group-interview of sorts, AMA’s allow for self-promotion without seeming self-promotional. You’re a professional speaker who’s rubbed elbows with some of the industry elites; what are they like? What is the actual involvement on your part in crafting a monetarily-viable speaking career? These are some examples of the exchanges that take place in an AMA. While presenting yourself in a spontaneous manner, you generate public interest in who you are and what you do, and may gain a few new fans along the way.

Creating a Blog and Participating:  Blogspot. Tumblr. Wordpress. All of these are platforms on which to create a blog and maintain a running dialogue with your online-followers. Many bloggers make the mistake of merely writing an update, clicking the ‘post’ button and walking away. Get involved in the comments section! Encourage your readers to take part in conversations that stem from your writing. You may encounter dissenting or opposing viewpoints, but engaging and addressing them will cultivate a respect for your work and opinions. Get blogging!

Tweetchats: A unique, developing aspect to Twitter is the ability for live chats. By logging into your Twitter account via, you can follow hashtags (#, denotes a trending word or topic) and take part in a conversation with other users in real-time about your field of expertise or your take on what’s currently taking over the Twittersphere.

It’s simple to interact on Twitter, especially using hashtags, but Tweetchat allows for private chat rooms that revolve around a particular topic and non-delayed responses. This medium allows your voice to be heard, your opinion to be stated, and as it displays your Twitter handle: followers to be gained.

You have important things to say, and getting your message to a widespread audience is why you got into the business in the first place. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty; utilize all of the rising online trends to your advantage, and watch your target audience grow in numbers.

-Carter Breazeale

PR/PR Public Relations

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Moms of PR/PR!

Changing things up a bit on this humid and overcast day in Orlando. As we're all well aware, yesterday was Mother's Day, and in this week's edition of the blog, we decided to take our own individual trips down memory lane as a tribute to the PR/PR moms!

Russell Trahan:

I love this photo of my mother at the beach.  That’s Haystack Rock, on the Oregon Coast, behind her.  You may recognize the landmark from the movie “Goonies.”  Mother loves the coast; her grandparents had a house there when she was young and she has great memories of it.  Since she was a librarian in the public school system, mother always had spring break off with us kids.  Dad would take the week off, too, and we’d all head down to the beach.  The weather on the Oregon coast isn’t always pleasant in March, but that didn’t stop us from having fun.  We’d play games by the fire while the storm raged outside.  Mother and I would always share a pinochle hand against my dad and sister.  As a team we always won, but I suspect that was more due to her skills than my help.  Seeing my mother smile at the beach, I know she’s remembering her good memories while I’m remembering mine.

Amanda Tucker:

I lived on campus all four years of college at USF. At the end of every semester, my mom would come down to Tampa to help me move my things out of my dorm room. It wasn’t always the most exciting way to spend the day…it was usually uncomfortably hot outside and I had more than you could imagine packed into my small room. Somehow we always managed to have the most fun! Those days were always full of gossip, laughter and quality time for us. On several occasions, we would have our hands full of clothes, books and boxes, get into the elevator and get the giggles, dropping what we had in our hands and laughing until we cried. My mother has a way of making every situation silly and fun. I can always count on her for that.

Lindsay Durfee:

My mom and I tend to do stupid things together.  Really dumb.  As in, at some point, we are looking at each other with that “How did we get ourselves into this mess?!?” look.  It always results in good times and hilarious memories.  Which is funny, because I think one of my favorite times with my Mom was my senior year of college.  It was fall break; there was nothing going on at home, so no one really wanted to pay for me to fly there.  Instead, my mom drove the 10 hours up to Elon to see me.  I had an off-campus apartment, so Mom had a free place to stay, and we just hung out.  We watched movies, got take out, chatted about what I wanted to do after college and just interacted as friends.  I really think it set the tone for the future of our relationship.  We have had so many more fun times since (vacation, moving to Florida, my wedding) but this memory really sticks out as one of the best times I ever had with my mom.

Carter Breazeale:

My mom and I have always been the most light-hearted and casual of the family, and because of this we share a special, enduring bond. Blessed with unrivaled patience and penchant for understanding, I always knew my mom would listen and give sound advice. My fondest memories with mom continue to this day, and they just involve sitting in the backyard with the family dog, Riley, and enjoying each other's company. Sometimes we discuss important life-events, other times we just relax in silence and take in the moment. I've learned in life that the little things matter as much, and at times even more, than the large, and I cherish all of these day to day moments with my mom that have contributed to a lifetime of great memories.

Monday, May 7, 2012

MTV's Identity Shift

For decades, MTV carried the anti-establishment banner of Generation-X. From the moment that iconic astronaut planted music television’s logo-bearing flag on the surface of the moon, it was apparent that we were entering a new period in popular culture. Proudly trumpeting in the post-Reaganomics rebellion of the ‘90’s; free of shark-jumping Fonzi’s and Tom Selleck’s mustache, MTV provided a fresh outlet for a nation of youth over-inundated with 80’s camp. Its current incarnation, however, more closely resembles a reality television petri dish comprised of spray tans and barroom brawls and lacking the music that defined the channel since its inception. Is MTV’s abandonment of the platform that carved its unique societal-niche a blatant mistake or a shrewd organizational shift to accommodate the changing of the times?

Regardless of MTV’s previous reputation of non-conformity, it is, and always has been, a business first. The top priority for businesses: relevancy and a steady revenue stream; and unfortunately for nostalgia-addicted individuals like myself, the ‘90s are gone and the channel has adapted itself accordingly. The regrettable side-effect of this format change is an absurdity-overload in the form of matchmaker dating shows and the Jersey Boardwalk; but I digress.

With the popularity of streaming video sites such as YouTube and Vimeo, and a lifetime’s worth of music available online, you can hypothesize that the execs at Viacom were backed into a corner in regards to MTV. To wax nostalgic (once more), in the past, your only options for discovering new artists were the radio and music television. This all changed with the Internet-revolution, and MTV was forced to change with it, or face declining ratings and profits.

From a PR perspective, it was the right-call for the folks at MTV to modify their business-model to match their audience, even at the expense of their initial platform. Their original viewership that grew up on Nirvana’s Nevermind and Lollapalooza has entered the professional-sector, and whether it’s a positive or negative, MTV’s target market relishes programming that hinges on ‘reality.’ At the end of the day, the network is still flourishing and remains a profitable venture.

Remaining relevant and viable requires keeping an ear to the ground in regards to current trends, and as MTV has shown, adjusting your message to fit your audience as it stands is a vital aspect when striving for career longevity and success.

-Carter Breazeale

PR/PR Public Relations