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The role of PR in 2011: #prwebchat with Lizz Harmon

PR firm CEO and social media specialist Lizz Harmon was nice enough to stop by for this week’s #prwebchat to talk about PR in 2011—what is changing and how can you prepare?

Lizz is a seasoned PR pro with over 13 years of experience in her field. Her clients include Disney on Ice, Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey, Monster Jam and the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. HarmonTampa PR has earned an enviable reputation for providing personalized, top-notch PR programs on time and on budget, for Florida businesses for more than a decade. Here’s a recap of the chat:

SA: Should we call it a press, news, or social media release, and why?

LH: Call it what you like, but the root word is “new” which is what the media wants to know: what’s new and why should the audience care? Press, social media may be part; but what’s important is the news element. Press releases carry your news to the media. Caution, many sites still can’t handle social media news releases well.

PRWebChat Lizz Harmon

SA: What tips do you have 4 small biz owners who don’t have a PR dept? (doing PR in-house without hiring any one extra)

LH: Small businesses should follow PR pros on Twitter that tweet tips and info. I tweet tips weekdays at 9am and 9pm, for example. There’s tons of info on the web; biz journals in your market and others are good to read too. Small businesses should also “like” FB fan pages of PR firms for examples of what they can learn, and friend local news people. Another resource for info for small businesses is Linkedin Groups. Ask questions on Linkedin and follow discussions.

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SA: Why is” spray and pray” pitching ineffective? How can we convince others not to do this and to target their audience?

LH: Spray and pray means sending your release to everyone under the sun, hoping someone will use it. S&P ends up making journalists mad, especially those for whom the story isn’t a fit. That’s a big NO-NO. Always Bcc: your contacts in email pitches. Read print pubs and watch TV to see who covers your type of news. The bottom line: target releases appropriately and you’ll get covered.

SA: Is PR merging into marketing? How?

LH: There are so many forms of PR. In its bare sense, PR is publicity and promotion, which IS marketing. For PR and marketing to be effective, efforts have to be cohesive; messages have to be carried through all forms of promotion.

SA: How much time should we spend on social media for our biz?

LH: How much time one spends on social media in biz depends a lot on your goals. You need to be active daily by listening and engaging. Remember, in PR, your social media engagement goal is to get customers and media to identify with your vision and values. There’s no definitive answer for how much time is the RIGHT amount. Minimum 10 minutes in the AM and again in the PM. Most important factors are to be: responsive, relevant & remarkable. If your posts are interesting, you’ll stand out.

SA: So I’ve finally gotten that media interview after a pitch. How do I prepare?

LH: Image is very important. For TV, solid colors are best, but no white; new haircuts should be done a week in advance; send contact info early. Pick three key messages you want to mention and hone those. Practice and stick to them in the interview. Lastly, don’t forget your manners and send the interviewer a thank you note afterwards.

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The next #prwebchat features Laura Fitton (@pistachio) of @oneforty and author of “Twitter for Dummies” on January 6, from 2-2:30 pm EST! Have a question you’d like to ask @pistachio? Tweet or DM it to me @prweb or @sacevero. Follow in real time, join the conversation, and see previous #prwebchat tweets here and at BloggingPRWeb. Have a wonderful holiday break, relax, eat, be merry, and we’ll see you for a new chat in 2011! Reminder: The #prwebchat hashtag is always ‘open’ for conversation related to #PR, #smallbiz, #SEO, #marketing and #socialmedia.

About Cision Contributor

This post was written by a guest Cision contributor.

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