February 23, 2018

About Contributor Sally Falkow

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Expansion Plus
Email Sally
I am a veterab of the PR industry and one of my long time interests is consumer behavior - how people interact with one another, the media and business or products. I saw the potential of the Internet to change how we communicate and access information back in 1995 and have been an avid learner since then. My current interest is the use off RSS to facilitate communication between people and groups. I developed PRESSfeed, a content syndication tool, to assist marketing and PR professionals use the Live Web easily.

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How Not to Handle the Blogosphere

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on on 01/5/07

ABC/Disney is on the warpath against Spocko, a media critic who took umbrage to some of the content aired on KSFO-AM.According to Media Post the conflict stems from Spocko’s criticism of a right-wing talk show that had some comments that were particularly venomous.

Disney has spooked Spocko’s Internet service provider into taking down the blog–but Spocko isn’t giving up the fight just yet. He’s contacted the Electronic Friont Foundation and intends to continue the fight – legally if necessary.  And what might have been a storm in a teacup has become a very public fight – and we’re all blogging about it.

A good lesson in how not to deal with negative comments online.


PR Gets Heads Up About Blogs

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on on 01/4/07
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The Daily ‘Dog, the daily newsletter from Bulldog Reporter that goes to over 40 000 PR professionals in the US has a Pulse of PR survey on the site right now that shows more than half of the respondents regard blogs and new media as the trend that will most impact PR in 2007.

Yes, it’s an informal survey, and we don’t know how many people have responded so far.  But it is an indicator.  The  number two item is ‘online media will continue to splinter into micro-granular niche outlets’.  So I htink it’s safe to say PR has got the heads up.  Online PR, new media, blogs and RSS feeds will be on their radar in the coming year.

About time, too. Marketers have seen the light – and it is a train coming the other way – the Cluetrain. Search results are affecting brand perception and conversations are in full cry online. Corporate communicators need to learn how to join the online conversation.


Will 2007 see the death of blogging?

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on on 12/18/06

The analysts at Gartner have made their predictions for 2007 and they say that blogging will peak next year and all the hype will fizzle out.

One of their top 10 predictions for 2007 is that the number of bloggers will level off in the first half of next year at roughly 100 million worldwide. The reason: most people who would ever dabble with web journals already have. Those who love it are committed to keeping it up, while others have got bored and moved on, said Daryl Plummer, chief Gartner fellow.

“A lot of people have been in and out of this thing,” Plummer said. “Everyone thinks they have something to say, until they’re put on stage and asked to say it.”

Well, that certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons!

It got a flood of media coverage and many bloggers weighed in too.  Does this mean blogging will suddenly die and go away.  No, the Gartner gurus say it will level off and the rapid growth we’ve seen with the blogosphere doubling every 6 months will go away.

There may well be 200 million ex-bloggers, but dedicated bloggers with a real voice and an audience will continue to keep the conversation alive.  And many of them are business bloggers.  C level execs are only just getting comfortable with blogs and blogging. They’ve seen the success of business bloggers like Jonathan Schwartz of Sun.

“The trend is, I think, irreversible at this point,” said Shel Holtz in the USAToday article. “You’re having businesses that are showing some substantive results with well-thought-out, strategically planned corporate blogs.”

And that’s what businesses are after – substantive results.




Another One Bites the Dust!

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on on 12/15/06
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Is there no end to the faux pas that corporate communications folk and interactive marketing and PR agencies make in the blogosphere?

Hot on the heels of the Wal-Mart Edelman flog fiasco comes the  admission that alliwantforxmasisapsp.com is a fake blog put up by sony and their agency Zipatonia. It’s no wonder that corporate executives in the US and the UK polled for the Bulldog Reporter/Peppercom business blog survey said blogs are not a credible source of information – with corporate shenanigans like this the public will soon feel that way too.

They have obviously not read all the data that clearly shows consumers want openess, honesty, transparency and authenticity.   It builds brand and engenders customer loyalty.

A commenter on the blog claiming to be a Zipatoni executive replied to criticism in the fake blog’s comments. “Please know that we approached the client initially with this scenario and they said ‘who cares if people find out? As long as it is funny, we do this stuff all of the time,”

And you guys thought that would be all right then?  If the substance hits the fan, we’ll duck and point fingers at the client.

It’s the job of an agency to advise the client on how to operate in the new social media environment.   Not to take their money and run when the project goes south.

Social media is a new playing field with new rules.  Ignore them at your peril.

“The blog world is a very open, self-policing and pretty unforgiving world when you try to trick them with things like this,” commented Cymfony’s Jim Naill. “I don’t understand why marketers, after all the different examples of this, don’t get the message that you can’t get away with faking these kinds of blogs.”


Blogging as a Marketing Tool – Ten Strategic Tips

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on on 12/11/06

 Richard Nacht, president of Blogging Systems which specializes in blog strategies for the lending and real estate industries, has the following Top Ten strategic benefits of blogging,

  1. Search Engine Marketing
  2. Direct Communications
  3.  Brand Building
  4. Competitive Differentiation
  5. Relational Marketing
  6. Exploit the Niches
  7.  Media & Public Relations
  8. Position You as an Expert
  9. Reputation Management
  10.  Low Cost

Read more at the Daily ‘Dog

Business Blogging Survey Reveals Corporate Disconnects

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on on 12/5/06

Peppercom and Bulldog Reporter’s Business Blogging survey certainly turned up some interesting facts about how US and UK corporations see the blogosphere:

  • Almost 89 percent of U.S. respondents and nearly 83 percent of U.K. respondents believe blogs are an important     digital communication
  • More than half of all respondents admitted that no one is blogging on their or their clients’ behalf (U.S.: 64 percent, U.K.: 64 percent)
  • Most respondents (78 percent for U.S. and U.K.) believe that the public relations department should handle fallout from bad news breaking in the blogosphere
  • However, over 80 percent (U.S.: 87 percent, U.K.: 82 percent)Most respondents confess they or their clients don’t have an official blogging policy in place
  • 63 percent have not adapted their communications strategy to include proactive outreach to blogs, message boards, and other forms of digital medium
  • Half of the respondents (49 percent) are not monitoring blogs and online conversations 


So the vast majority think blogging is an important communication medium, but they are not monitoring the online conversation and they’re not adapting their corporate communicaiton strategy to include digital and social media. But if things go wrong, PR must handle the flap. 

We’ve seen a few of these examples of PR departments and agencies putting both their traditional PR feet in their social media mouths.  It’s way past time that companies make social media and online PR training a priority.

Business blogging is an important communication medium,  It’s not going away.  Markets are conversations.  Learning to particpate in the conversation effectively is a vital PR skill today.

Listen to the podcast for a full analysis of the survey.  It’s a little slow to load but worth the wait.



For many businesses blogs remain a mysterious medium

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on on 11/12/06

According to a tally by blog vendor Socialtext, just 40 of the country’s largest 500 companies have blogs. For many businesses, blogs remain a mysterious medium dominated by teenagers and technology geeks, says Information Week.

Most execs “do not read them, they do not understand why people write them,” says Charlene Li of Forrester. that will have to change  if they want to stay current with customers. “It’s a different mind-set that they have to understand,” says Li in the Information Week article

This last week Bulldog Reporter’s PR University held their annual new media and advanced PR technology in practice seminars in New York City and San Francisco. There has been a big shift in the knowledge and attitude of the attendees.  Last year they did indeed find blogs to be a mysterious medium.  This year they are much more up to speed on blogs and why a business would or should blog, but it’s the social media aspect that has them flummoxed.

GM is one blog that gets it. They use consumer-generated content from YouTube and Flickr on their FYI Blog, and  encourage people to lable images in Flickr with the tag GMFYI.

“Social media is a unique thing that’s going on on the Web right now, and it’s important for us to take part in it,” says Bill Betts, manager of Web services for GM communications.

This social aspect tagging and bookmarking content is the next thing companies need to get their heads around. Markets are indeed conversations and people are sharing content with each other and with the rest of the world.  With all the new social media tools available anyone can do it, and they can do it in the blink of an eye.

A political pundit interviewed recently on TV about the John Kerry Iraq statement commented that in today’s world of lightning-fast communications, someone in the audience with a video camera on their cell phone can take a clip of a speech, or a corporate meeting, and it will be on YouTube before the meeting is over.  

How can businesses benefit from all this?  Make your content relevant, authentic and interesting.  Then syndicate it. Make it easy to subscribe to the content and include social media elements that make it easy to share it.


Why Businesses Don’t Blog in the UK

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on on 11/6/06

An excellent article in E-consultancy about online PR and why businesses are not blogging.

His comments about PR agencies applies as much to the US and it does to the UK

“Ask them to explain how Google works. Ask them about RSS. Ask them about anchor text. Ask them to give you some tips on online copywriting. Ask them why blogging would be a bad move, with all the above in mind  The fact is that most PR agencies are not even vaguely qualified to advise you on blogging, or even about online PR.”

If you are in PR or marketing and you can’t answer these questions,  you should have been at the Advanced PR tech worlshop in New York on Friday. Debbie Weil did a stellar job in the session on blogging. They also got podcasting, video, online news, search and social media. 

There is another one on Friday 10th in San Francisco.  No Debbie this time though – I will be speaking on blogs and social media.


What Makes A Good Blog Entry?

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on on 10/20/06

It’s refreshing to see the growing interest in Web 2.0 and business blogging in South Africa. Vincent Maher, a professor at Rhodes University recently posted some good guidelines for blogging.

He says a blog is a stub for conversation and you should think about the perspectives of your audience.

Stephen Downes gives his take on these ideas here

While some bloggers may be writing for their own edification, most are in it for the conversation.  And there is merit in knowing your audience.  Not so you can write only what they want to hear, but to facilitate good communication.  

Blogging is a communication.  Business blogging certainly has the purpose of reaching an audience. One of the first things you learn in communication theory is to understand the person who will receive your communication. Maher’s thoughts on blog posts fit in well with the old Seven C’s of Communication written by Cutlip and Center in Effective Pubic Relations:

In a speech given at Ball State University many years ago, Phil Lesly provided these guidelines for effective communication:

1) Approach everything from the view point of the audience’s interest–what’s on their minds; what’s in it for them.

2) Give the audience a sense of involvement in the communication process and in what’s going on. Get them involved and you get their interest.

3) Make the subject matter part of the atmosphere the audience lives with–what they talk about, what they hear from others. That means getting the material adopted in their channels of communication.

4) Communicate with people, not at them. Communication that approaches the audience as a target makes people put their defenses up against it.

5) Localize–getting the message conveyed as close to the individual’s own millieu as possible.

6) Use a number of channels of communication, not just one or two. The impact is far greater when it reaches people in a number of different forms.

7) Maintain consistency–so what’s said on the subject is the same no matter which audience it’s directed to or what the content is.

8) Still, tailor-make each message for the specific audience as much as possible.

9) Not propagandizing but making sure that you make your point.

10) Maintain credibility–which is essential for all of these points to be effective. (Schranz Lecture, 1982)

If you view your blog as a conversation, this is evergreen advice.  Take it to heart when you blog.

RSS, Blogs Head Up Holiday Marketing Plans for Etailers

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on on 10/6/06

Nearly two thirds of adults intend to do their holiday shopping online this year. Take a tip from the major eTailers’ marketing playbook:-blogs, RSS feeds and viral marketing are what you need to drive all those eager online shoppers to your site.

Nearly half, 41.6 percent, of retailers will incorporate blogs or RSS feeds into their holiday marketing strategy, and 79.5 percent will use viral marketing at social networking sites, like MySpace and Friendster, says the 2006 eHoliday Mood Survey released Wednesday. The study was conducted by BizRate Research for Shopzilla and Shop.org.

And don’t be misled by the perception that these sites are only for teens. More than half the visitors to MySpace are now 35 or over–up from less than 40 percent last year, reveals new data from comScore Media Metrix. 

Of course they have to find your website – so 97.4 percent of eTailers invest in search engine optimization and marketing.

Since shoppers show signs of starting their holiday spree early in November, now’s the time to get your blog and feeds up and running.  Plan a holiday content strategy and create RSS Feeds that will raise your search rankings and distribute your content into the news aggregator sites, making it easier for the online holiday shopper to find you.



Verizon Wakes Up To Blogs and Social Media

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on on 09/26/06

Verizon Communication has seen the blogging light.

Speaking on a panel on engaging the in-control consumer at the MIXX Conference in New York, Jerri DeVard, senior vice president of marketing and brand management for Verizon said they had been ‘asleep at the wheel a bit’ and that they’ll be playing catch-up in the fields of online and social networking. They plan to launch a blog that will be a no-holds barred “all issues on the table” dialogue with consumers–and support it with a round-the-clock response team.

Sounds like they have the right idea, and one other corporations could implement.

“We would rather do business with a company that openly communicates and that provides the service or product that we are paying for. And we would rather not do business with companies that don’t; and companies that don’t do either one, eventually will not have customers, profits and finally a business at all,” writes Marianne Richmond in her Resonance Partnership blog post called Sprint, can you hear me now?

She goes on to say, “A few weeks ago Josh Hallet at Hyku wrote a post with the title Corporations Visiting Blogs, But Not Commenting=Prank Calling? Allan Jenkins, David Parmet and I left comments agreeing with his premise that corporations were obviously monitoring blogs for information but not taking the extra few minutes it would take to leave a comment…not even a “form” comment that could say, “We heard you, please call 1-800-IDO-CARE to discuss.” And then have that as a “working” number.”

Monitoring blogs is a vital PR activity, but unless you respond and enter the conversation, you’ve missed the point of social media and the in-control customer landscape we’re operating in.

And blogs don’t just reach the young

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on on 09/4/06

The young and politically aware may well be a prime audience for bloggers, but you can reach all kinds of folk online.

“I thought blogging was for young people with political interests, but now I see it’s for anyone who wishes to interact with people all over the planet. And they can be good for business,� says Kate Loving Shenk, Nurse Entrepreneur and founder of Nursing Career Transformation, about her new blog,

Even Baby Boomers are online in growing numbers. Earlier this year ClickZ reported that three out of five adults 55 years and older, known to be the heaviest consumers of offline media such as newspapers and TV network news, say they use the Internet more today than they did a year ago.

The number of online adults aged 55 and older grew by 20 percent to reach over 27 million in 2005.

Of course they have to find the blog.  So your choice of subject matter and the  keywords and phrases you use will be vital to your success.


Church and State Agree: Blogs Reach A Net Savvy Younger Audience

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on on 09/4/06

“As a pastor, I shouldn’t be just leading a church but connecting with people using the same formats they use every day,â€? says Pastor Ben Arment of the HIstory Church in Oak HIll, Va. “Blogging is a forum that’s successful because it corresponds with how younger generations think.â€?

Mark Batterson, the lead pastor of National Community Church in Washingaton, D.C. Batterson estimates he spends 20 percent of his workday updating his blog, “Evotional.�

“I used to think that the blog supplemented my weekend message,� said Batterson, who draws upwards of 25,000 visitors a month to www.evotional.com. “Now I wonder if it isn’t the other way around. It’s hard for me to imagine why a church that has younger members wouldn’t have a blog component

NPR’s On The Media spoke at length yesterday about the power of consumer generated media, blogs, video and podcasts. Politicians need to take heed of the power of the Net, was the overarching message. Smart politician’s know that they need to take their message directly to the audiences relying on the Internet for news and information.

Senator Lieberman’s loss in the Connecticut Democatric primary to Net-savvy newcomer Ned Lamont was a case in point. Indiana Senator, Evan Bayh, is posting messages aimed at the younger generation on sites like YouTube and Facebook in preparation for his anticipated 2008 presidential bid.

And there’s a lesson to be learned here by business bloggers: that old PR adage that you should use the channel most familiar and acceptable to your audience still applies.

RSS and Content Syndication Series

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on on 08/21/06
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The first article in the six part series on RSS and content syndication is up today.  It’s an introduction to RSS and content syndication as a marketing and PR strategy

Online visibility and online traffic are, quite naturally, of paramount importance to everyone and anyone marketing or conducting business online, period.  While RSS may not be the key tool to improve your online visibility and traffic, its importance in helping you do this cannot be disputed, says Rok Hrastnik of MarketingStudies.net author of Unleash The Marketing Power of RSS.


Start Your Own Damn Newspaper

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on on 08/18/06

The latest issue of The Public Relations Strategist is all about blogs and blogging. There is some very good material, but it’s a subscription pub and so not all the articles are online.  

There is a great Q and A about why businesses should blog.  Ed Cafasso, Snr VP  in the Boston office of Manning, Selvage and Lee is a blogging skeptic and he asked some hard questions that were well ansere dby his team.These are the two I particularly liked.

Q: Many C level execs see blogging as just an online diary yet PR strategist say it is a must.  What should I say to clients?

A: Clients and prospects should know that a conversation about their brand is taking place in the blogosphere – it’s not really their choice.  Remember the old line for voicing a complaint?  ‘Start your own damn newspaper!”  Well, that’s what’s happening here.

Q: Risk and fear of the unknown are  big hurdles. What’s the  guaranteed minimum takeaway or behavior change we can claim with a blog? 

A: If your company fully embraces blogging we can guarantee that

  1. You and your employees will see the potential of blogs as an internal and external communication tool
  2. You’ll begin to see other ways to use social media: podcasts, RSS feeds, wikis, video blogs etc., in your external communication plans
  3. You’ll learn about your customers need and desires

What I tell clients who ask about blogs:

  1. There is a conversation in progress – it’s going on with or without you.  Listen first and learn what your customers are saying.  This is one guaranteed takeway.  You will gather a wealth of information about your product, your company and your industry.
  2. Once you know what your audience is interested in you can develop a content strategy that will meet their needs – and meet your goals.  Starting a blog or creating an RSS feed is easy today. But it’s what goes in the blog or feed blog determines your success. If what you write doesn’t resonate with your audience, they won’t be back.  


Does Blogging Help Your Business?

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on on 08/17/06
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PRSA’s Issues and Trends has a good article about PR bloggers today.

The article looks at blogging from several angles and makes some salient points:

  • You should figure who would be interested in your content – will you reach the right audience? PR professionals tend to read PR blogs and this may not be the best audience for building a PR practice.
  • Blogging will not necessarily boom your business, but it will raise your profile and build your reputation as a thought leader. Steve Rubel’s rise to Senior VP at Edelman is cited as an example.

How can you tell if your blogging is successful?  As with any business stategy, set a goal before you start and measure your results.  It does not have to end up in the top 10 blogs in your category to be a success – it just has to reach the right people and resonate with them.

FUD about letting employees blog

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on on 08/16/06
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Recent studies indicate that 85 percent of workers in America with Internet access admit to spending an average of 2 hours per day on personal e-mails and Internet activity, while 80 percent of employers monitor that activity, according to a press release from Bracewell & Giuliani

B  & G is giving Human Resource Management Association members in Texas the low down on employee surfing and blogging in the workplace and the legal implications of corporate monitoring of employee online activity.  

Different companies obviously see blogging very differently.  Here’s what Sun Microsystems has on their site;

Welcome to Blogs.sun.com! This space is accessible to any Sun employee to write about anything.

Sun certainly is not too concerned about their employees blogging. When he spoke at the Syndicate Conference late last year Jonathan Schwartz said they attribute the revitlization of Sun’s brand to their blogging.

But employee blogging can be a minefield.  Last year’s upset over the image posted by Niall Kennedy speaks volumes on this subject.  The flap over the image aside, Niall’s point about fear and the availability of the ‘new printing press’ in the hands of everyman is very valid.

Technorati supported Niall 100%, but it did create some backlash.

“We do not censor people’s blogs, and we take the censorship allegation extremely seriously,” wrote Dave Sifty. “I actively encourage our employees to blog, and to express their opinions. However, many readers do not make as clear a distinction between personal and work lives as many experienced bloggers do, and will view a provocative image on a blog in the worst possible light, especially when presented by the company’s Community Manager.”

There may well be bumps in the road when you start blogging in your business.   It’s a given with a new form of expression that gives a voice to anyone and everyone.

It’s wise to set guidelines for your employees when they blog.  But don’t let the FUD get you – the benefits blogging offers far outweigh any fears you may have.



Are you making the most of your RSS feeds?

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on on 08/10/06

After talking to more than 500 people one on one at SES San Jose over the last few days, I now know that very few people understand the power of RSS.  We asked questions of eveyone who came by our booth and this is what we discovered:

Most people know what RSS is, but only about 10% are using it on their websites.  Of course everyone who has a blog has a feed.  But the big surprise to me was that they don’t know what it can do – or why they should pay more attention to it.

In our panel about News Search Nan Dawkins of RedBoots spoke about how to use your blog and pitch other bloggers to get coverage in Yahoo News and Google News. I followed with our case study on the use of RSS and content syndication to get broad pick up and coverage in Yahoo News. (Featured July 21 in PR Week)

The question I got most frequently after that session was “How did you do that?”  When I asked them if they have a feed of their content, many who blog said yes.  But they has not done anything with it. Their feed was not even registered with the 100 + news aggregators.  Many bloggers don’t use Technorati tags or leverage the power RSS feeds can offer. 

They know they have a feed, but they have no idea what it does or how to promote it.

Over the next six weeks I will be writing a series of articles on The Power of RSS and Syndication – a little mini-course, if you will. If this is of interest to you, please let me know







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