Author Archive for Beth Hardy


A Big Help with Healthcare Product Marketing

In today’s poor economy, everyone is looking for ways to cut costs and often the marketing budget is the first to be slashed. But past experience has taught us that cutting marketing budgets in a recession could be a big mistake. So where do healthcare organizations – specifically those that manufacture surgical products – go to get the most bang for their buck and reach their largest audience? The Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) Congress, which will be in Denver next week, March 13 – 18.

AORN Congress is the largest surgical products exhibit floor in North America, and 10,000 – 12,000 attendees, including nurses and exhibitors, are expected this year. Operating room (OR) registered nurses (RNs) from around the world attend the show to gain first-hand knowledge of and experience with the newest OR products and services that help protect the safety and care of surgery patients.

Along with utilizing AORN Congress as a marketing tool, some manufactures are getting creative to reach their target audience. Healthcare product manufacture 3M Company partnered with AORN to launch “It’s in Your Hands,” a hand hygiene YouTube video contest. They asked perioperative professionals to submit videos that visually demonstrate the AORN recommended hand hygiene techniques. The winning video will be announced at AORN Congress, and the winners will receive a $5,000 educational grant made possible by 3M Company.

Now that’s an innovative way to get your name out there and drum up some positive PR – the educational grant is key!

Take a look at a couple of the submitted videos:

Congress is THE annual opportunity for surgical product manufacturers to get in front of their main audience – OR nurses – and show off their latest technologies. With limited marketing budgets, many manufacturers are taking full advantage of this show, as this may be one of the only marketing opportunities they have all year.


The Good and Bad in Sports PR Scandals

Some professional athletes handle scandals and unfortunate news well, and others just don’t. With the Winter Olympics in full swing, I can’t help but notice how some Olympic athletes are doing a good job in navigating potentially negative press, while other athletes – Olympic or not – have crashed and burned in their attempt to avoid the unfavorable limelight.

Two athletes that come to mind are Lindsey Vonn, the American Olympic alpine ski racer, and Tiger Woods – we all know who he is. While their news-generating situations are extremely different, they provide great examples of how to manage news well and how to manage it poorly. (Guess which one managed it poorly!).

Vonn, who received lots of favorable pre-Olympic press, hurt her shin pretty badly just before arriving in Vancouver for the Winter Games. Rather than keeping her injury a secret, potentially performing poorly in competition and then having to explain what went wrong afterward, she stepped up to the plate and contacted the media to discuss her situation. She was upfront about the injury and how she wasn’t sure if she could even compete.

I was very impressed with this tactic. Not only did she quickly and honestly acknowledge the situation, she managed the medias’ and the fans’ expectations – and that’s half the battle. Letting everyone know that she was injured and that she might not be able to compete – or if she did compete, she might not perform well – was the right move in this situation.

On the other hand, everyone by now should be familiar with Woods’ suspected extramarital affairs and his unwillingness to speak to the media. News recently broke about remarks he’ll be providing from the TPC Sawgrass Golf Course in Florida this Friday. According to, he’s expected to discuss his affairs and other personal problems that contributed to his recent scandal.

Now I’m not a proponent of spilling your personal guts on national TV just because you’re a celebrity and you’re in the midst of a scandal, but I do think there is a lot to be gained by addressing the situation early – a la Hugh Grant. Woods’ apology message on his Web site just didn’t cut it for many of the media, his fans, his sponsors or the general public. And his silence seemed to make matters worse with rumors running rampant. Now he’s making public remarks, and he’s chosen to do it during the middle of the Olympics when many of the sports media are out of the country and occupied. Brilliant move on his publicist’s part, but it still screams slime ball. I’m not impressed. Not one bit. I think Woods’ scandal is a perfect example of how not to manage a “crisis.”

So the moral of this story is to be upfront and honest, manage expectations, and don’t be shady. The media and the public will respect you more for being forthright out of the gate.


The Buzz On Google Buzz and How it Can Benefit PR and Marketing

Google’s newest social media tool, Google Buzz, launched earlier this week. It merges your Google email, contacts and instant messenger to make a service similar to Twitter. The Google Buzz home page says, “Go beyond status messages. Share updates, photos, videos and more. Start conversations about the things you find interesting.”

According to Drew B’s take on tech PR, “Reactions from watchers have been varied. Some are saying it will be the Twitter/Facebook/Foursquare/Friendfeed killer. Others say it’s Google’s play on reorganizing the world of email. Some say it will bridge a gap to Google Wave.”

At this point, I’m still trying to figure it out. I’ve posted an update, added a few connected sites (Twitter being one of them) and followed back someone who is following me. But I need to know more about it, particularly how I, as a PR practitioner, can utilize this service. Fortunately, Drew B’s take on tech PR has compiled five first look tips for PR and marketing practitioners. Following are his thoughts:

  1. Google Buzz will integrate very nicely with mobile phones and maps. So this will further impact mobile social networking and online communities on the go. This could affect event PR and marketing quickly.
  2. It will be easy to use (where many say Twitter isn’t). Google Buzz has already been described as something so simple ‘your mother’ would use it, according to one watcher I’m following.
  3. Search engines will find content much more easily than with content on Twitter. For brands this is a reputation management issue.
  4. For PR people, the address book has always been valuable. Whatever your current email address book is, exporting it into Gmail as well will create an instant social network.
  5. There will be an ‘enterprise’ version of Google Buzz coming soon. This will change the way internal communications works as well (and might also create the killer).

As I play around with Google Buzz and read up on it some more, I’ll report back with additional findings. But for now it sounds like a great social media service for communications people and the general public alike. Could this be the next Twitter or Facebook? Only time will tell!


New PR Show Alert: “Kell on Earth”

I first discovered People’s Revolution founder Kelly Cutrone years ago on some reality hairstylist show where she was reading a newbie stylist the riot act for not knowing what a chignon was (it’s essentially a low bun, for all you non-fashionistas out there). The outspoken and often unabashed publicist scared me then, but I have uber respect for her now, especially after watching her in action on the MTV reality show “The City.” (I admit it! The show is one of my guilty pleasures.)

So when I heard about Cutrone’s new show, “Kell on Earth,” I was very excited. As a PR person in Denver, I’m far from the LA and New York fashion industry, which Cutrone’s company services. But the PR process is still the same – just twice or three times as intense – which absolutely fascinates me. Plus I’m a girl who loves fashion, so the industry itself is more than intriguing.

I haven’t yet seen “Kell on Earth,” the first episode was February 1, but I plan to watch religiously and buy her new book, “If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You.” The perspective her show and book provide on the PR industry is surely different from my day-to-day experience, but that’s what makes it so interesting. There have only been a couple reality shows about the PR/publicity world, so this should be fun. Who’s going to watch with me?


New PR Show Alert: “Kell on Earth”


File This Under “What Were They Thinking?”

I’m jumping on the “Are there any women in Apple marketing?” bandwagon that Brooke Hammerling (@bhammerling) started yesterday in regard to the iPad. (Yes. I realize I’m a little late, but this was the earliest I could sit down and write this!)

I have no idea what Apple was thinking when they named their latest product, but they clearly didn’t run it by any focus groups that included women. If they had, I imagine the feedback would have been negative.

But now that the iPad is out, we can enjoy humorous comments like the following on PR Newser:

“All I know is that if I can buy it from a vending machine in the washroom, it’ll be damn convenient.”- nankevans

Funny stuff!

But in all seriousness, I’m a big fan of Apple products and I have no doubt that the iPad will be a big hit. We’ll all probably get used to the name and it won’t be such a hoot in the near future.

However, the lesson to be learned here is that Apple, being the huge corporation that it is with a good reputation for putting out quality products, can get over a silly naming gaffe. But other businesses may not be so lucky. A situation such as this could cause smaller, lesser know companies to fall flat on their faces, no matter how awesome their product. Take note when the big guys stumble to ensure you don’t make the same mistake.


Top Seven Twitter Mistakes to Avoid

If you aren’t familiar with the “Quick and Dirty Tips” series, I highly recommend you check it out. It’s a sequence of blog posts, podcasts and newsletters from experts in everything from grammar and nutrition to digital marketing and dog training. The experts break down complicated subjects to make them easier to understand and apply to your everyday life.

My favorite series is “Grammar Girl.” I love receiving her daily grammar tips in my inbox, and you wouldn’t believe the things I learn—and I thought I knew a lot about grammar. But I digress!

I’m writing today to talk about the top Twitter mistakes to avoid, according to “The Digital Marketer,” one of the “Quick and Dirty Tips” series.

The Digital Marketer

If you’re using Twitter for professional purposes—to promote your business, build yourself professionally, or market a product or service—you should definitely pay attention to how you’re using it. Repeated mistakes online can cost your company and your reputation.

Without further ado, following are seven of the top Twitter mistakes to avoid from “The Digital Marketer,” Aliza Sherman:

1. Following a ton of people. There is no need to follow a lot of people on Twitter, especially if you are just starting out. Of course, “a lot” can mean different things to different people. I keep the number of people I follow under 2000. Others keep it below a few hundred. Still others follow only a dozen people on Twitter. Know your information overload threshold. Following too many people can send you into a mental tailspin. And it also makes you look suspiciously like a Twitter spam artist, so just don’t go there.

2. Shaming someone for unfollowing you. Stop taking it so personally if people follow you or don’t follow you, unfollow you, or never follow you back. Contrary to popular belief, it is not always about you. And calling out in your Twitterstream when someone doesn’t follow you back or chooses to unfollow you makes you look like a spoiled child who had his toy taken away. Very unprofessional.

3. Forwarding links through Direct Messages. With the onslaught of Twitter spam, it just isn’t good communications practice to share a link with someone privately in their DM box. If you cannot share a link publicly, then email it to them—and include something in the message that is personal so they know it is not spam. DMs are terrible for extensive communications anyway–take it to email for best results.

4. Crafting tweets too long to retweet. One annoying thing on Twitter is when you read a tweet that you really want to repeat—or retweet—in your own Twitter stream to your followers, and it is way too long to retweet properly. There is a very simple formula for crafting a retweet that I use: Take the number of letters in your Twitter handle. Add five. Then subtract that number from 140. That will give you the number of characters for your retweetable tweets.

5. Overtweeting contests and giveaways. Everyone loves a freebie, but you’ll lose friends and followers quickly if you keep retweeting contest and giveaway tweets—unless that is what you are known for. We can all get overzealous with our retweeting—I personally tend to do a lot of it in the morning when I’m just starting my day—but remember that what you retweet is a reflection on you.

6. Automating a “Thanks for Following Me” message. Contrary to popular belief, canned “Thank you for following me” messages are not looked upon favorably. They come across as canned at best and creepy at worst. If you cannot take the time to review who is following you—and Twitter emails this information to you—and then send individualized messages to them, don’t bother. No message is better than a fake message.

7. Being overly commercial. Want to put out a lot of salesy tweets to get people to buy your products or hire you? Just don’t do it. Twitter isn’t about broadcasting commercial messages. It is about listening to what others are saying, thoughtfully engaging others in conversation, contributing meaningfully to the conversation, and building real contacts and connections. Gone are the old ways of advertising and marketing. Today it is about real conversations between real people.

I love how Aliza describes Twitter and what it’s really about. She says, “Twitter is about listening to what others are saying, thoughtfully engaging others in conversation, contributing meaningfully to the conversation, and building real contacts and connections.” I couldn’t agree more. Being thoughtful with your Twitter posts will not only help you promote your cause, but it will also help you save face.

If you have other common Twitter mistakes to add to this list, we’d love to hear from you. Include your comments here.


How to make your Twitter posts more retweetable

Getting your Twitter posts retweeted is a great way for your information to reach thousands of people. But how can you help ensure your posts are retweet worthy? Blogger Dan Zarella researched the “factors surrounding retweets.” Below are a few of his findings along with a list of the most retweetable words and phrases:

“When I looked at the parts of speech that occur in retweets versus those that occur in normal tweets, I found that retweets tend to be noun-heavy and use third-person verbs.

“This pattern is reminiscent of newspaper headlines. Highly retweetable headlines talk about someone or something doing something.”

“The words that tend to occur more in retweets than in normal tweets are topped by the word ‘you,’” continues Zarella.

“This means, whenever possible, you should talk directly to your readers. ‘Top’ and ‘10’ also rank highly, showing that lists do well on Twitter. Not surprisingly, talking about social media and Twitter itself also helps.”

Another of Zarella’s conclusions that I found quite interesting is that rare and more novel words are highly retweetable. For me this is great news – an excuse to comb the thesaurus, one of my favorite publications! (I know, I’m a nerd!)

For Zarella’s full report, click here.


HootSuite Adds Facebook, Twitter Lists and LinkedIn. Hurray!

As I was logging into my HootSuite account to begin my morning round of Twitter updates for clients, I was surprised and delighted to learn that the social media dashboard has added Facebook, Twitter lists and LinkedIn to its repertoire. I was just saying the other day that I’d love an application like HootSuite for Facebook so I can manage multiple accounts, pre-schedule posts and measure their success. The fact that I can manage both Twitter and Facebook accounts from the same application is even better. Hurray! I love when technology actually simplifies things.


The Debate Rages On: Should Social Media Be Housed Under the PR, Advertising or Digital Umbrella?

The recent news about Web strategist Blue State Digital, which famously created, winning’s digital and social media work is a reminder to the communications industry that this form of media still doesn’t really have a consistent home. Should it be the responsibility of the PR agencies, advertising agencies or newer “social” agencies? It depends on whom you ask.

Being a PR professional, I, of course, feel social media should fall under the PR umbrella. So much of social media involves community (or audience) relations – engaging your community, interacting with your community, conversing with your community – which is already a large part of PR. Plus, with the media industry shrinking before our eyes, social media provides PR practitioners another outlet to reach our desired audiences. It’s media relations without the media. We’re delivering the news directly to our customers without the use of a third party to distribute it.

On the flip side, an ad exec could have a similar argument – they use social media to promote products to their consumers without the use of a third party and without paying for it.

This goes to show why we are still debating over where to house social media. There seems to be a good argument from all sides. Either way, I can guarantee all agencies are clambering to stay competitive in the social media realm.

What are your thoughts on social media? Who should manage it?

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