What are you thinking? Diane (Antoinette LaVecchia) tries to keep it together as her client Mitchell (Brik Berkes) threatens to flush his career (and her commission) down the toilet over a crazy little thing called love in The Little Dog Laughed, playing in the Portland Center Stage Studio through June 15. Behind the scenes blogs, information and tickets are available online at http://www.pcs.org/.
This blog post concludes our discussion with Trisha Pancio, publications and public relations manager for Portland Center Stage.
Some employers are concerned about the time required to engage in social media. What is your response to this concern?
Well, yes, if you’re just blogging about your belly button lint or what you had for breakfast, then that would be a huge waste of time, of course. But if you are creating content that is of direct relevance to your customers, sharing and reinforcing the brand message, and developing relationships with potential lifetime patrons, I can’t think of any time that could be better spent, especially in service and relationship-based industries (like entertainment or real estate or law or insurance or whatever.) Let’s say it was an hour a day three times a week that key members of your company committed to blogging. And each time you sat down to blog, you framed the question, “What could our patrons most benefit from knowing about us right now?” And you answered that question in three sentences or 30, whatever came to mind. I guarantee it would be time better spent than your coffee break, rearranging your files, checking the news headlines, whatever else it is that you waste three hours a week of your work life doing.
Let’s give an example. My future mother-in-law is trying to build a practice as a parenting coach. She has some contracts with the state for court-mandated kind of things, but she would also like to build her practice with clients who are choosing her services to help them with tricky transitions in their children’s lives. She can afford some advertising, but she’s having a hard time getting people to trust that she’s a qualified professional (because she’s new to the market). I told her, “Create a blog. Have a parenting tip of the day. Share your successes and failures from your court-mandated work. And then join sites like Café Mama and other places where parents meet seeking advice. Become a trusted voice (and a useful and entertaining one.) It’s cheaper than all the alternatives and allows people to sample, in a less intimidating way, how they might be able to benefit from her services.” I don’t know any businesses that couldn’t benefit from establishing themselves as a trusted voice in their industry.
The caveat: Building your blog readership is just as important as creating content. Yes, you need good content, but if nobody’s reading it then you are wasting your time. So maybe half an hour of that three hours a week should be spent finding out how you can build invitations to your blog into your other business practices (and on other social media). Is it on your business card? In your email signature? Are you “adding” friends to your MySpace account regularly (friends of your current friends is always a good starting place that doesn’t feel “spammy.”) Do you participate in the websites, blogs and listservs that are relevant to your industry? Somebody in the company’s got to be officially tasked with doing that. Are you requesting reciprocal links? And most importantly, does your blog site also contain an easy path for people to go from avid reader to avid consumer of your service? That’s the crux of the issue. In my experience, people are really good at either one or the other but not always both.
If you got great content, but you’re not routinely reminding people of how the content relates to what you do and inviting them to become a customer, you are diminishing the power of your work. It can be very subtle — a standard series of links at the bottom of each blog where people can find out more about you and your business. But it needs to be there.
Right now I’m working on the “increasing viewership” problem on our MySpace, Flickr and YouTube pages. We have great content there, but we haven’t invited enough people to participate in it yet. So that will be a summer project – whom do we approach and how do we invite their participation on our channel/photostream/page in a way that is honest and authentic (and most importantly, entertaining from the word “go.”)
Trisha, thank you for taking the time to share your insights with the readers of The PR Post!
Readers, do you have any questions for Trisha? Are there any suggestions you would like to make for improving Portland Center Stage’s social media? Do you have compliments to pass along?