social media case study… Shark/Ray Videos “Reel” in Event Attention, Attendence by Janet Krenn

A touch tank is the aquatic equivalent of a petting zoo, and an event like the opening of a new touch tank might not sound like front page news.

For McWane Science Center, the online video campaign, Shark and Ray, was featured on the front page of a local news website every week of the campaign. In the end, opening day became the Center’s third best attended, behind opening day and one other special event, and the Shark and Ray characters have gone on to help raise funds to support the newly installed touch tank.

So how did a couple of employees and a few professionals working pro bono do it?


The McWane Science Center in Birmingham, Alabama, is museum that encourages hands-on activities. So a touch tank in that allows children and adults to interact with sharks and rays was a natural fit. More than just an additional display in the museum, the touch tank was an expansion. It required the not-for-profit to attract additional funding to support it while generating interest in the new attraction.

“Social media is the least expensive way to reach our audience, and that is why we were initially interested in exploring it,” says Chandler Harris, Director of Public Relations at McWane Science Center.

Shark and Ray Campaign

The Shark and Ray campaign began as a series of 7 web videos that were launched weekly leading up to the grand opening of the Shark and Ray Touch Tank.

“When creating the concept for Shark and Ray we knew we would be speaking to a younger audience,” says Jason Hill, from Provenance Digital Media who consulted with the McWane Center on the campaign. “But we still wanted to make the humor broad enough to appeal to parents as well.”

“I think for most of us, the most surprising aspect was the range of adults without children that became some of the biggest fans,” Hill adds.

Social Media Tools

To promote the Shark and Ray videos, the team turned to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, but focused on their already large Facebook fan base of 2,700+ fans. Twitter was used to tweet updates from the characters. YouTube was used as an alternative video host to Facebook.

“All three complement one another, but serve distinct purposes. When combined, they are much more powerful then when used as a single channel of communication,” Marc Beaumont from Contenova Growth Advisory.

Behind the Scenes

Those who produce the Shark and Ray series notes that their success cam from building a strong team. Combating the notion that social media is so easy it could be done out of a basement, the McWane Center brought in several groups to work on the project. Consultants helped by conceptualizing and producing the video. McWane Center Staff maintained social media pages.

“It was a great example of how a group can work together,” said Jen West, Designer at the McWane Center and Project Manager of the Shark and Ray campaign.

Advice from the Team

What does the team think is important in having an online video social media campaign?

1. Talent and Technical Know-How

The Shark and Ray team were specialists. There were people who wrote; those who strategized; and those who were responsible for the editing and compression of video. Some worked on the look of the video, and others offered their voices for the characters.

2. Courage

Not only do you need to take risks, you need to know when to reign it in. As Marc Beaumont put it: “You have to have the courage to fight the impulses to make it into a high-end production.”

3. Resourcefulness

Jason Hill notes that the consultants who worked on Shark and Ray, as well as the local celebrities who participated in the clips all did so pro bono. “Don’t be afraid to ask for volunteers and to reach out into the community and encourage participation,” says Hill.

4. Flexibility

One of the benefits of working with social media is the ability to respond. By keeping your projects relatively simple, you can maintain flexibility. “Social media is created to resonate with people, and make it moldable,” says Jennifer West.

5. Brevity

Remember that successful online video is only a few minutes long. Chandler Harris says, “Keep it short and simple.”

The Team

JANET KRENN is Communication Co-Chair of the New Professionals Section of PRSA. If you’re a member of the New Professionals Section, and you’d like to contribute to the New Pros’ blog, email her at janetqs(at)gmail dot com

pr strategy… Facebook Group v. Fan Pages–Never build a group page by Janet Krenn

Go to any professional development seminar and the first thing you’ll hear is, “You can’t ignore social media. Get your company on Facebook.”

Yes do, but for pete’s sake, never build a Facebook Group Page! If you’re looking to build a Facebook presence for your company, use a Fan Page. Looking to build a presence for an association–Fan Page. Facebook presence for your church group or club–Fan Page.

If your company, association, or club is already using a Facebook Group Page, kill it and relaunch as a Facebook Fan Page. That’s what your New Pros Section did this week, and although only time will tell how well it meets our members’ needs, I’m betting the additional functionality will make us better connected than our previous page. In case you’re ever charged with building a Facebook presence, I thought I’d share with you some of the improved functions that only a Facebook Fan Page can provide–Oh, and if you haven’t already, Become a Fan of New Pros!

Fan Pages Send Updates to Members’ Homepages

How well would you keep up with your friends on Facebook if their updates never made it to your homepage? I bet not very well, and unfortunately, no part of a Facebook Group Page will make it to your members’ homepages. Events, wall postings, and discussions will all go unheeded unless you send your members a message. It takes away from time you could be spending developing new and better content. Fan Pages work just like Personal Pages. If you update events, the wall, or any other part of the Fan Page, it will make its way to your fan’s homepage. This means you can save the “message members” function for big announcements that need a little extra attention.

Fan Pages Can Receive RSS Feeds

When you’re working on a multi-layered social media campaign, you could be looking at 4 different networking sites and let’s face it–you need to streamline. A Facebook Fan Page can receive an RSS feed and automatically post new content to your wall as it becomes available. This could be a great tool for promoting a blog or another on-going effort, without having to manually update your Facebook Page everytime.

Fan Pages Allow Apps

Okay, confession time, in the previous paragraph when I said Fan Pages can receive RSS, I was referring specifically to the “Notes” application. But your app options don’t stop there on a Facebook Fan Page. Any box, application, or function you can put on a Personal Page, you can put on a Fan Page. Or if you have the budget, you can higher a developer to build a unique app to spruce up your page and build that coveted brand identity.

Fan Pages Help You Integrate Facebook to Other Online Venues

You may have noticed that in the sidebar of this blog, we have a new Facebook widgit. When you launch a Fan Page, you get the code for this nifty little box. You can add the code to your website, your blog, anywhere that runs javascript, and it visitors to your other online venues can become your Facebook fan just like that!

Fan Pages are User-Friendly

Your wall is the most important part of any Facebook page, but only the Fan Page keeps the wall at the top of the page, where it belongs. Group Pages bury the most frequently updated parts of the page: Discussions are under layers of static text, the wall ends up at the bottom of the page, and events are tucked away in a sidebar. If you want the newest information you post to show at the top of your Facebook page, you need a Fan Page.

Fan Pages Have Analytics

If you need to show your higher ups, or yourself, that your Facebook efforts are successful, know that only Fan Pages provide analytics. A few simple clicks and you can check out fan demographics, page visits, multimedia views and more. You can even export your data into an excel file or a comma separated variables list.

Fan Pages Have It All

Okay, not really! But I’ve found the functionality of a Fan Page to be shockingly superior to that of a Group Page. If you’re considering building a Facebook presence for your group, go for the Fan Page and never look back!

JANET KRENN is the Communications Co-Chair of the New Pros Section. She wants you to know that the opinions expressed in this post are that of her own, and should not be assumed to be the opinions of PRSA or the New Pros Section, although she suspects that they hate Facebook Group Pages as much as she does. Oh, and Janet’s always looking for new contributors to the New Pros Blog. Email janetqs(a) if you’re interested in contributing.

social media case study… Using Facebook to Execute the Quick PR Campaign by Janet Krenn

When California Tortilla won Best Burrito in Washington, DC by Washingtonian Magazine, the California Tortilla marketing team wanted to develop a promotion to get the word out by the beginning of July–and by the way, they only had a couple of weeks to develop, launch, and close said promotion.

To meet their time crunched goal, they turned to social media.

California Tortilla, a Maryland based Mexican food franchise, already had a solid footing in social media. Their Facebook page has more than 3,000 fans, and their Twitter page (caltort) has about 1,800 followers. California Tortilla also has a strong email list, called TacoTalk.

“[Social media] was a good fit for this campaign,” said Stacey Kane, Marketing Director at California Burrito, who notes that the franchise frequently uses social media to run promotions such as coupon give-aways and others. “Our customers are very vocal, and so social media is a good extension, a good way to interact.”

To spread the word about their new “Best Burrito in DC” victory, the company decided on a radio script writing contest. On the California Tortilla Facebook Fan Page (July22), the wall read:

“You know how California Tortilla won Best Burrito in Washingtonian Magazine?? Well we did…and we want to run some radio but we have no budget to pay anyone to write the copy. So we decided we wanted our fans to do it for us. Write a thirty or fifteen second spot saying why we deserved the award and the winner gets $1000 and free burritos for a year…”

In fact, California Tortilla relied nearly exclusively on social media to promote the campaign. But it’s not as if they snubbed traditional media. “We put out traditional PR, but it seemed to only get picked up by the trades, not local media,” said Kane.

Once the contest opened, fans had only 5 days to submit their radio scripts. California Tortilla received nearly 100 entires.

“The entries weren’t just written scripts. Several people actually submitted produced radio pieces,” said Kane.

Kane said she was shocked at the “shear amount of time and passion that people put into [their entries]. The contest closed on July 7th, and by July 8th, people we’re emailing to ask whether we picked a winner.”

They hadn’t. Instead, the company sent all the participants a goody bag of coupons and other swag to tide them over while waiting for the winner to be announced. California Tortilla plans to announce the winner within the next week, when the company launches its new website.

Although Kane said her group did not pick a metric by which to measure the campaigns success, she felt it was a hit. Not only did they get a large response quickly, “The campaign did generate a lot of buzz, and this was reflected in increased sales,” Kane said.

What does Kane recommend for other companies considering launching a similar contest via social media?

  1. “In regard to social media campaigns, stay true to your brand.”
  2. “Make stuff clear and easy for fans to execute.”
  3. “Do what you promise to do; make clear cut rules, and stick to them.”

JANET A. KRENN is Communication Co-Chair of the New Professionals Section of PRSA. If you’re a member of the New Professionals Section, and you’d like to contribute to the New Pros’ blog, email her at janetqs(at)gmail dot com

social media tools… 15 Great Twitter Apps for PR Pros by Janet Krenn

For a three-year-old toddler, Twitter sure has a lot of toys! Seriously, there are thousands of applications available that you can use to expand your twitter-bilities.

Here are 15 that I think are highly useful for PR professionals.

Get Your PR Message Out

1. Twitterfeed automatically tweets your blog titles, streamlining your online campaigns.

2. Twiddeo allows you to upload video from your phone or computer and posts a short url to your twitter account.

Manage the Timing of Your PR Message

3. Tweetlater  is a handy tool, especially for the PR professional. If you want to post reminders of an upcoming event, schedule them through Tweetlater.

4. Vacatweet can keep you active on the Twitter-sphere by responding to your messages while you’re on vacation.

Monitor Your PR Campaigns

5. Tweetburner not only generates shortened urls, the application will allow your to post the url to your Twitter account and track clicks and re-tweets of your url.

6. StrawPoll lets you put a quick poll on your Twitter page. A great tool if you’re looking for simple feedback.

7. Tweetnews  can track news-related tweets on Twitter.

Show Off your Publications or other Promotional Documents

8. FileSocial allows you to upload documents to their site and post a link to those documents on Twitter.

9. TwitDoc  is similar to FileSocial, with the added bonus of drag-and-drop functionality. But this function is only available for Adobe AIR users!

Meet People, Follow, and Be Followed

10. Twitdir  is one of the many Twitter directories that allows you to search for Twitterers by location, email, and alias.

11. Twitterlocal allows you to find people actively tweeting in an geographic area that you define.

12. Twollo  compares your tweets to other users to try and suggest people you might want to be friends with.

Manage Multiple Accounts

13. Splitweet compiles multiple Twitter accounts, allowing you to easily post to any of your accounts. You can also track keywords.
14. TweetDeck also compiles multiple Twitter accounts, and although I know it is vastly more popular than Splitweet, I’m just not as into it!

15. ??

I know I promised 15, so I’ll ask you: What do you think is another highly useful twitter application for public relations professionals?

JANET A. KRENN is Communication Co-Chair of the New Professionals Section of PRSA. If you’re a member of the New Professionals Section, and you’d like to contribute to the New Pros’ blog, email her at janetqs(at)gmail dot com

what is public relations… Marketing VS Public Relations–The final showdown(?) by Janet Krenn

Knowing the difference between marketing and public relations seems like a scholarly exercise… until you consider applying for a PR job under the supervisory umbrella of the marketing department, or you have to write a marketing plan to define how your company will use public relations to achieve marketing goals.

So what is the difference between between public relations and marketing? I’ve looked at several sites to try to come up with an answer.

What’s the difference?

Marketing: Definitions and Partial Definitions

  • “…marketing exists to sense, serve, and satisfy customer needs at a profit.” (from Public Relations: Concepts and Practices, republished)
  • “marketing is the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit” (Philip Kotler)
  • “Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders” (American Marketing Association)

Public Relations: Definitions and Partial Definitions

  • “Public relations exists to produce goodwill in the company’s various publics so that the publics do not interfere in the firm’s profit-making ability.” (from Public Relations: Concepts and Practices, republished)
  • “Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.” (Public Relations Society of America)

The Visual Description
Perhaps the most interesting comparison of public relations and marketing come from an older, but still very relevant  post on The Brand-Builder Blog.

What are the Major Differences?

Role within the Organization
In a company, marketing promotes goods and services to consumers. These activities are projected from the company outward. Public relations works to “help the organization and its publics adapt mutually to one another”, according to one professor. PR activities should strive to have a back-and-forth relationship with the world outside the company, by projecting information and working with others. In other words, putting the “relationship” in public relations.

Measures of Success
Because the goal of marketing is sales, the success of their efforts can be measured in profits. The goal of PR is to build positive impressions of their client or company. So publics’ perceptions become the measurement tool in public relations.

Is there Overlap?

Jack Trout, a prolific author on the subject, would say that positioning is the process of “owning space in a person’s mind.” For example, what company do you think of when I say the word “happy”? For about 75% of people, Disney comes to mind (Differentiate or Die, Jack Trout and Steve Rivkin). Disney “owns” the word happy.

Marketing and public relations work in tandem to position a company. Marketing does the research to determine what the position of the company is and should be. Public relations promotes the image and position of the company through events and news.

How Do You Think Marketing and PR are Different or Related?

Do you think marketing and PR are more related than different? Do you think I missed some key similarities or differences? Leave comments!

JANET A. KRENN is Communication Co-Chair of the New Professionals Section of PRSA. If you’re a member of the New Professionals Section, and you’d like to contribute to the New Pros’ blog, email her at janetqs(at)gmail dot com