The Hired Hand – Not just another blah-blah-blog

April 18, 2012

The quiet person’s guide to getting people talking online

My blog post originally was published by SmartBlog on Social Media.

Computer screenMuch to my chagrin, behavioral experts would consider me an introvert. For a PR professional, it’s almost a death knell. For a creative type, however, it can be a blessing. And for someone who dabbles in the digital space, it could be a perfect match.

Lucky for me, I’m all of the above.

Let’s get something straight: An introvert isn’t necessarily a shrinking violet. Technically, an introvert is someone who finds crowds draining and who is energized by solitude.

Research has revealed that introverts not only are highly creative, they also can be extremely effective leaders. What do Albert Einstein, Warren Buffet, Charles Darwin, Mahatma Gandhi, Al Gore, Sir Isaac Newton and Rosa Parks have in common? You guessed it. They’re all introverts.

So what’s all this got to do with social media? With a little creativity and a lot of savvy, introverts can use social media to their advantage as a public relations tool. (Don’t worry, we won’t get into the discussion about who should “own” a company’s social media outlets — PR? E-commerce? IT? That’s a topic for another day.)

Here’s how introverts can maximize their social media moxie in terms of PR:

  • Learn from being a lurker. If you observe more than participate on social networks, that’s OK … to a point. Take the time to understand the various players — customers, media, competitors — then use that knowledge to best position your product or service.
  • Make the most of online relationships. Introverts, as a rule, are more comfortable with one-on-one communications. That’s the beauty of social media. While you have access to many audiences at once, you can focus on one conversation at a time. There’s a reason it’s called public relations.
  • You’re a good listener. Prove it. Compared to their extrovert counterparts, introverts are said to be exceptional listeners. Listen to what your customers are saying about your company — both good and bad. Listen to what people are saying about your competitors — both good and bad. Go beyond just listening to your constituents. Let them know you truly hear them.
  • Devote some face time to Facebook. I’m not asking my fellow introverts to share your personal lives with thousands of your BFFs. Instead, make sure your business has a separate Facebook account/page, and use it to interact with current and prospective customers. You’ll be surprised at the honest feedback you’ll get.
  • You’re a person of few words? No problem. Twitter’s the social network for you. You’ve got 140 characters to state your case, so make them count. Twitter is ideal for customer relations and crisis communications. You can deal with crises in real time — and even avert crises with timely, up-front tweets about the situation at hand.
  • You’re a person of even fewer words? Pinterest is for you. Take a few pointers from Kotex Israel, which launched a successful PR campaign on Pinterest. Here’s a snapshot (pun intended) of the campaign: Kotex targeted 50 inspiring women on Pinterest, then created personalized gift boxes for each, based on their boards. To receive the gift boxes, the women had to repin the Kotex invitation. The key takeaway here is that Kotex, with help from the Smoyz agency, took the time to get to know its target audience. PR professionals can do the same, whether it’s the media or consumers.

So don’t use your introverted nature as an excuse to shy away from social media as a PR vehicle. In fact, social media is tailor-made for us introvert types. Gone are those awkward silences we so dread in face-to-face communication.

See you online.

Check out Darcy Grabenstein on Google+


March 29, 2012

Pinterest and the perfect pitch

Filed under: Branding,Email marketing,Public Relations,Social Media — The Hired Hand @ 11:23 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

In the old days (before you could update your relationship status on Facebook), getting pinned was a precursor to becoming engaged. Today, it refers to a whole new kind of engagement. That is, if you’re talking about Pinterest.

It’s a visual way for people to engage with one another, and for brands to engage with their consumers.

Pinterest has taken scrapbooking to a whole new (digital) level. And one company – Kotex Israel – has taken the art of the pitch to a whole new level. Working with the Smoyz agency, Kotex created “Women’s Inspiration Day by KOTEX.”

Smoyz found 50 inspiring women on Pinterest, then created personalized, handmade gift boxes. The boxes were filled with items the women might want, based on their boards, and were decorated the boxes in styles that reflected each woman’s pins. Kotex is taking this “personal products” thing a bit seriously, don’t you think?

To receive their personalized gift boxes, the women only needed to re-pin Kotex’s invitation. According to Kotex, the project has had 2,284 interactions with total potential impressions of almost 700,000.

As the Israelis say, “Yofi!” (“Fantastic!”)

Engagement? Looks like Kotex is ready for a long-term relationship.

Check out Darcy Grabenstein on Google+

March 27, 2012

Speed dating for brands?

Originally posted in November 2011


Some people talk the talk. And some walk the walk. And some, like entrepreneur Jeff Pulver, do both.

Pulver organized the recent BrandsConf – “Exploring the Humanization of Brands” – in New York. As emcee for the daylong event, Pulver certainly put a human face on the conference. He gave each presenter a big hug as he or she walked onstage, and another hug after the presentation. You could say he Pulver-ized the participants by embracing their ideas – and embracing them literally.

The BrandsConf was part of the #140Conf series, with individual presentations limited to 10 minutes and panels from 10 to 20 minutes. These events are based on the Twitter concept of brevity, where posts are limited to 140 characters. It was like speed dating on steroids for branding; the day featured more than 50 presenters.

Successful brands must know their audience, and Pulver’s format was perfect for this attention-deficit group. A glance around the darkened audience revealed the eerie glow of laptop, tablet and smart phone screens. But were these audience members really engaged?

I can think of several times during the day when the audience was riveted to the stage. As if reinforcing the day’s themes of community and storytelling, all eyes where on the big screen (not laptops, tablets or smart phones) when Tony Heffernan showed a video tribute to his young daughter, who died of Battens Disease. The father from Ireland, whose son also was diagnosed with disease, launched to provide support and information. His story made an emotional connection with others, compelling them to engage.

Greg Corbin also managed to grab the audience’s attention. Corbin, executive director of the Philly Youth Poetry Movement, is passionate about what he does. It shows. And it’s contagious. He shared a poem with the audience, and they listened. There’s a lesson here as well. Sometimes, if we change the manner in which we present our message, it’s more likely to be heard. I’m not saying all our ads need to rhyme like Dr. Seuss, but we need to make our message stand out from all the clutter.

It’s no surprise that Mallika Chopra, CEO of and daughter of physician/spiritual healer Deepak Chopra, asked the audience members to close their eyes for a moment of meditation. It was a brilliant exercise, for it forced the digital addicts to turn their attention inward – away from their devices – if only for a short time.

Gideon Gidori and Leah Albert also managed to capture the attention of the audience. So who are they? The masterminds behind Fortune 500 companies? The next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg? They’re more likely to be the next Neil Armstrong or Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (she’s the president of Libya, BTW, and the only elected female head of state in Africa). You see, Leah and Gideon are 7th-grade students at the Shepherds Junior School in Tanzania. So what where they doing at a brands conference in New York, you ask? Their moving stories illustrated how personal experiences can be used to help garner support for a cause and help shed light on social justice issues. Their tiny yet confident voices resonated with the audience, proving that you don’t have to shout your message in order to be heard.

In a brands conference that focused mainly on social media and online communication, it’s not unusual to hear the term bytes or to discuss cookies and their impact on marketing. However, it was the edible kind of cookie that was mentioned on more than one occasion.

DoubleTree Hotels celebrated the 25th anniversary of its popular chocolate chip cookie last summer with a cross-country Cookie CAREavan. A hotel-sponsored food truck visited major cities, giving out free cookies at every stop. The event was considered a huge success, resulting in more than 2 million media impressions and 35,000 Facebook friends.

Jonathan Kay, ambassador of buzz for, used cookies to thank a blogger. Grasshopper provides virtual phone systems for small businesses. A blogger with a modest following wrote about the Grasshopper service, and Kay said Grasshopper sent him three homemade cookies as a thank-you. It’s another example of how a brand can connect one-on-one with its customers.

If you were to ask organizer Pulver, he’d probably say social media is one big group hug. It’s about reaching out to your audience, listening, and responding in a caring and informative matter.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a group hug.

Check out Darcy Grabenstein on Google+

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