Online PR Course – May 2010

After getting some feedback from folks (thank you) I’ve rejigged the Online PR Course I gave back in January and will now be doing a premium course based on it. It will be on May 4th in the Camden Court Hotel, start at 9.30am. 210 euros for a day, inc lunch. Max places = 14. If interested email damien with subjectline: May Online PR

Online PR course breakdown

  • 0. Basics of Online Comms
  • 1. Developing a Communications Bible
  • 2. Developing a Comms Philosophy
  • 3. Working with: Bloggers, Running blogger events, Forums, Twitter etc.
  • 4. Finding Tools – Who is talking about you online?
  • 5. Crisis Communications

    Update: More details
    * 0. Basics of Online Comms

    How people are communicating online. The numbers, the tools and sites they use and the language they use

    * 1. Developing a Communications Bible

    Using techniques used by TV show writers to create a working document on how a company communicates with itself and the outside world and the prescribed methods and content to be used when communicating.

    * 2. Developing a Comms Philosophy

    Working with your staff to create guidelines on communicating with the outside world both when as an official representative of the company as well as when in a personal capacity.

    * 3. Working with: Blogs, Forums, Twitter etc.

    How to use online media to spread your company message and how working with bloggers, Twitterers and Facebook users can create digital word of mouth campaigns

    * 4. Finding Tools – Who is talking about you online?

    We go through a list of tools you can use (both free and premium) to see what people are saying about you and your competitors and where they’re saying it

    * 5. Crisis Communications

    With the best of intentions, things can go wrong and go wrong quite quickly. We go through how best to respond to a crsis and how to turn any negative fallout into neutral or positive sentiment. We’ll use Irish and UK examples of good ways to address a crisis online.

Thanks Online PR peeps

About three weeks ago I ran the Online PR course/workshop. The dealio with it was that those attending didn’t pay with money but accepted that they had a task to blog/Tweet something they found useful from the course. Thanks for the 35 people who came along and the below folks who have so far blogged about it.







Dave Davis.

Derry O’Donnell.

Leo Fogarty. Includes a video too!


That free Online PR Workshop (maybe more than one)

Ages and ages and ages ago, in a Galaxy far far away I committed to do an Online PR Workshop and then time ran out for me and time is still not back. Instead of doing this in August 09 I’ve not got time to do it until January 2010 instead. Saturday January 9th to be exact. At least I’ve stuck the date in the diary. Whoever signed up for this workshop can still avail. If anyone else wants to come along if someone gives up their space or for a second workshop then leave their name here or on the Facebook Page for Online PR in Ireland.

Please do note that this is a test/beta workshop. You’re the guinea pigs!

Online PR: Companies inviting bloggers and Twitterers to events – Some experiences

I’ve run a good few blogger events (apart from the Blog Awards and Web Awards) including Collision Course, the Bord Gais meets the bloggers event, Show and Tell and a few others where bloggers meet companies. A few more events are on the way.

The line to the dance was long and crowded...
Photo owned by AndYaDontStop (cc)

Some personal experiences, your mileage may vary:

Invite interested bloggers, not bloggers who have “readerships”
The numbers game is poison. If you are inviting people because they are read by x hundred people instead of them writing well informed blog posts then you might get an uninformed message out to x hundred people. Go for quality, not quantity. Quality travels further. Invite bloggers or Twitterers who you think would be interested in what you are doing and have people who read or follow them that would like to be informed about what you are doing. This means you have to do research and find out who writes about what. Ask other bloggers to help you with this if you don’t know. Also, open the event up to those not on your list if you have spaces. Meet people you don’t know anything about. Saying that, I’ve seen some bloggers who have come along to an event and professed they have zero interest in the event, despite them approaching me or the company to come along.

Personally invite bloggers
Don’t send a mass email with everyone BCCd in. If you think bloggers will find value in the event, start as you mean to go on. Know something about them already, isn’t this why they are being invited? Send an email to each one and for the love of god don’t do a mailshot or copy and paste the same email to each of them. Bloggers and Twitterers are also on IM to each other and ask each other if “so and so PR company” emailed them about an event. You know what’s really nice these days? Personally written notes or cards. Not enough do that. Despite the digital world, many bloggers treasure the analog items.

Give them something of value, as in content
Freebies, yeah, great. Not a lot you can blog about if you get something for free. Give bloggers something they can give to their readers. New, interesting content. An interview, a video of a new drinks cocktail, facts about the company’s new product about to be released. The CEO asked questions that were sent in via their readers.

Give them more control than you’re comfortable with
Don’t suggest a hashtag for the event, let them suggest it. If you are going to run a competition with bloggers or Twitters, get them to use their creativity. They know their audience more than you. They’ll know what will work best in terms of quizzes or the like. Even ask bloggers privately about the way to structure their event. Collaboration works best.

Give more then was expected
Steve Jobs does his one more thing. Do the same. Bill 4/5ths of what will happen at the event. Something not known is nice when presented. A staffer they were not expecting, news before anyone else, test kit for a new product.

Don’t ask when they will blog about this
This is probably obvious but you now and then get “I’m sorry to ask this but my boss wants to know when you’ll be doing a blog post on this” from someone. I once got asked when writing for the Sunday Tribune could I let them know the word count of an article I’d be writing after coming to their event. If bloggers don’t find it interesting they won’t blog it. If you push someone to write then you’re commissioning an advertorial and you’ll get some half-assed job too.

Meet more people for each event, not the same people
They’ll get sick of you, you’ll get sick of them, they’ll get sick of each other. There are plenty of bloggers, invite new ones to your next event. The circuit is starting to happen where the “usuals” are at every event. Spice it up.

It only starts after the event
This is all about relationships being built. It’s not a marketing thing in the traditional form nor is it traditional PR. It also has customer relations thrown in. Use each event to learn more about those coming along. See can you use your contacts to help them out. Know a friend in another company that can get them access to a musician, have you got a sports star you use for events that they’d love to interview? Just even add them to Facebook, Twitter or leave genuine encouraging comments on their blog. See what they come back to you with as well and accept their feedback and suggestions, which leads us to…

Listen and act
You’re get some good feedback at your event and suggestions about things you might want to try. If you can, act on them. You’re bringing people together who are good at expressing opinions. See what you can do to show the bloggers that you are doing more than listening.

PR agencies in Ireland and how they interact online

We’ve created a page listing PR companies in Ireland. It’s one long flat page right now but we hope in time to create a proper directory listing all of these and their various presences online. If we’re missing some or some of the details need changing, leave a comment, send an email, arrange a photoshoot outside our office…

Yes your business and you can screw up in public

A good point was made to me of late and that is of companies afraid to join the online web community for fear of the reaction. They highlight the bad cases. For some that’s just an excuse. It’s the headache to avoid sex, right? And? Here’s the sad fact of life: Even Mother Theresa was hated. The cow.

A good point was made to me of late and that is of companies afraid to join the online web community for fear of the reaction. They highlight the bad cases. For some that’s just an excuse. It’s the headache to avoid sex, right? And? Here’s the sad fact of life: Even Mother Theresa was hated. The cow. That’s just humans for you. Hiding from this though means you hide from the 99.99% of people that will be neutral towards you/like you/love you. If you want to mix with the real world then you need to stick your neck out.

If there are negative comments there are going to be positive comments too, probably way more. Being afraid of potential negative comments ore reactions and allowing them to dictate online reactions will poison your company.

Photo owned by Phillie Casablanca (cc)

Maybe companies should have more faith in not screwing up? However if they do mess up, they need to realise that being genuine about what happened and communicating it will help an awful lot.

There are tonnes of cases of companies getting the crap kicked out of them online. I’m an example myself for having a very short fuse with companies that invade my email or online space without having manners. People think life is too short to get worked up, I think life is to short to let some fucker walk all over you and let them off because they’re thick or invariably, lazy. That’s me, not you.

Anyhoo… a subtlety about being online is that while a screwup can cause an online riot, it can cause just a mild stir too or nothing. Bloggers screw up from time to time and sometimes there are outcries and threats of hate-sites and then people move on, something else happens to catch the magpie eye. People understand screw-ups and if t can be relayed to those online why the screwup happened and that there is genuine regret, most people will say “That’s grand so”. It also helps if you are already active online and are known to people before the screwup. That’s the biggie. Before you do anything, try and not be a stranger. Be known by being there in some way. Emails to people complimenting them on what they do, comments on their blogs. Genuine commentary, not commentary to tick a box next to “Being there”.

Warning Soft Mud
Photo owned by Bitterjug (cc)

Another way of being there is to start interacting on or create a space on IGOPeople and gently get involved there.

Dominos and the issues with staff doing horrible things to their pizzas got worldwide attention within hours due to the virality of YouTube and Twitter and Dominos responded quite quickly with their own YouTube video. Dominos were not on Twitter or YouTube or had much of an online presence before this, that’s now changing. Were they online and had a presence they probably would have known of this sooner and reacted sooner. The event would still have happened but maybe it would not have spread as much. Imagine if Dominos just released a press release?

For very large companies/brands, your first adventures in opening yourself up to the world might end up with lots of people shouting at you for years of crappy service or that 1% of crappy service when 99% of it was great. Think of the tech support hotline where you might get someone ranting and raving at an agent about some computer issue and then they end it with thank you. Initially your customers might need to vent.

At the recent blogging event in the EU Commission’s office EU Commissioner Margot Wallstrom spoke via video to a load of bloggers and talked about her first few blog posts got hundreds of negative comments from anti-europe people. She addressed some issues and ignored some of the madder stuff. She kept blogging and slowly more and more of the comments became more positive. The people that ranted for probably not being listened to up to now realised they were being listened to and became more constructive.

If you as a company realise a percentage of your customers are pissed off at you and so this is a reason for not opening up, then maybe the transparent nature of the web is not for you. Ownership is changing, copyright is changing. People feel loyal to brands and companies and give over energy to support their following and so feel they have a little ownership of the entity. Owners look after what they own.

We live in a prudish world where what we do on our free time and then stick up on Facebook might be used against our employers and so our employers don’t want you to do this. Imagine if instead they said “so what?” and told anyone complaining that they fully back their employees. Online, we, the ones that play around here a lot, we do say the “so what’ bit.

So please, join, accept, return the comments, screw up, don’t screw up, have fun and benefit.

MeasurementCamp lands in Dublin, first one May 27th 2009

Analysis is like sunlight, it’s a great disinfectant. If something can be measured and analysised properly then it can have a real value. Online campaigns can be evaluated and companies and their clients need to know this. It’s not guess work. It’s not throw fifty grand at something and being told a few comments are the way to see that it worked. MeasurementCamp, the regular meetup of people who want to measure the effect of social media style campaigns now has a franchise in Dublin. Hooray for MeasurementCamp Dublin. Will McInnes is the founding father of the cult of the MeasurementCamp and now we are having one in Dublin and I hear it’ll be in more cities soon. Good.

Unlike MeasurementCamp in London, the “scene” in Ireland is still very much in the gestation period so as McampDublin gets going there will probably a lot more learning and teaching about the basics before we can up a gear. Switched-on PR and Marketing companies in Ireland are the exception rather than the rule but the appetite to learn about all these new areas is ferocious by a significant number of companies involved in communications. One of the main tasks too is to make sure and enforcing by beatings if need be (well maybe not) that people don’t try and do sales pitches. Both developers and PR/Marketing folks. It’s a habit that can be broken. We want case studies of both campaigns that worked and didn’t work backed up with how these case studies were measured. MeasurementCamp is about sharing so those coming along will be asked to give to the group.

If You Can
Photo owned by CarbonNYC (cc)

The first MeasurementCamp Dublin takes place on May 27th starting at 10am in the Odeon, with thanks to Fleishman Hillard for organising this venue and sponsoring it. There are 30 people signed up fo far, most of them from the dev side of the equation. We’ll hopefully see a rebalance with that closer to the day as the PR and Marketing companies become aware of this. Please sign up on the page above and come along if you’re interested in contributing to making the online PR and Marketing industry in Ireland better.

Photo owned by Todd Huffman (cc)

D4Hotels – Great local example of Online Interactions

D4Hotels introduced a special offer back in January of hotel rooms with free broadband for just over €20 a night for select rooms at select times. News first hit about this on and spread like wildfire online before getting picked up by the tradtional media. It got huge attention when their marketing person appeared on the Pat Kenny show to talk about the offer and with what sounded like a rookie mistake or nerves or perhaps stupidity, she said all rooms were at that price, which wasn’t true.

D4 Hotels

She got dragged back on air the next day and got roasted by Kenny. Lots and lots of apologies and dozens of complaints. Online however, they not only got the communications right, they upped it with direct interaction with people who booked the offer and people who were considering it. Someone called Pat from D4Hotels came along on and started answering questions. Then switching people to better rooms and following up on stays to see were people happy.

Park Plaza Hotel
Photo owned by cherrylet (cc)(Not actual pic of hotel)

And when the special offer ran out? Well, with the momentum slowing, they introduced a special discount for those using (Go here and the code is BOARDS) And the momentum kept going again. The discussion thread on the Bargain Alerts forum on got locked yesterday after 23 pages of interactions and 100+ posts from Pat but not before the hotel set up their own blog to keep the interactions going.

Recognition is deserved for Pat and others in D4 Hotels that did this. More of this sort of thing!

Fianna Fuckup – Government party trick bloggers into event

Update: Damien Blake who organised the “getting the bloggers and non-hacks to come along” bit has a blog post on this, apologising for the cockup and taking blame for it. He has also left comments below.

So Fianna Fáil got one of Obama’s web people to come and give a talk to the public about what he did. Or rather, an event billed to be a talk by Joe Rospars was advertised and bloggers were asked to put it on Twitter and their blogs.

It was far from transparent that it was going to be a Fianna Fáil supported event though it was obvious given Fianna Fail were twittering it themselves. It’s fine if they are getting this guy over as a consultant and then getting him to talk to the public, while here. However it seems very much that this was a Fianna Fáil event with a waving monkey for a few seconds and the rest was a party political broadcast. So Fianna Fáil without saying they were Fianna Fáil invited a load of bloggers to this with the (no pun intended) hope of seeing one of the Obamanointed ones but as I write this these bloggers are completely and utterly pissed off. Twitter is alight with their ire and it even seems Fianna Fáil are already trying to placate some journalists:

@unarocks on the phone with FF – they just called to try and control the situation.. too late guys!

Some of the ire here:

LIVID having been ambushed by Fianna Fail, lured with bait of Joe Rospars (Obama campaign director).

and here:

@fionnkidney i feel completely duped. How does FF think this is a good way to engage with bloggers?! TOOLS.

and here:

#rospars event over. People running away. Not a good event at all.

and here:

this event was NOT advertised as FF event. Recruitment was not through FF. But we went to a FF launch plus # Rospars with his FF account

When you start down the route of engaging with an online public, starting off with dishonesty won’t get you far. Events like these are meant to build trust, instead Fianna Fáil will now be even more hated and mistrusted.

More posts on this:

A very good summary from Suzy Byrne.

More on IrishElection.

And on Fionn’s site.

Green Ink on it.



Irish Times coverage.

Collision Course II – Final Details – Sharing is caring

The second Collision Course is going to be on on Wednesday February 18th, again in the Edelman Offices on Stephen’s Green. We’ll start at 6.11pm and go on for an hour and half. 30 people have stuck their name down so far for this so we’re fairly full. But add your name too as there’ll be cancelations no doubt.

At this Collision Course we’re going to get the PR and Digital Marketing people to mix more with the bloggers who are attending and to share their experiences during the time we have. On the night we’ll split into three groups, each group will hopefully have the same ratio of PR/Marketing people to bloggers and each group will be given a campaign to work on. Each group will then present their ideas on what they’d do. The purpose is to cross-train/cross-share their opinions and insights and in doing so, get to know each other even more.

Last time we all went our own ways afterwards so maybe we should stick around for a while and get to know each other a bit more or head to a bar. Last time some of us went to O’Donoghues. Perhaps we can do the same again?

Police car crash
Photo owned by big-ashb (cc)

The next Collision Course is March 11th, again in Dublin. We’d like to try out another venue but to suit everyone, it needs to be in the City Centre. Offers are appreciated. The venue needs to be quiet so we can marvel at the sound of our own voice and needs to hold 30-40 people.