How Big Companies are Failing on Twitter

Posted by wendyama

Jul 27, 2010

By Wendy Marx

The majority of global firms aren't leading by example when it comes to social media.

Big-name consulting companies like McKinsey and Accenture position themselves as global leaders so you’d think they’d be ahead of the pack in social media.


Or at least my little experiment showed that some of these big fellas have little ears when it comes to listening and responding to at least some social media queries.

To put their social media attennae to the test, I tweeted the following last week to seven of the world’s biggest consulting firms, calling out their respective Twitter names in my tweets:

@bigname consulting company, can you help? Trying to reach someone in PR in US to interview for a story & could use some direction?

Now, I’d like to say my Twitter account was ablaze with all of these heavy hitters’ responses. Instead, I have yet to hear from the likes of Accenture, McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Company and Booz & Company.

As for the others?

Price Waterhouse Coopers e-mailed me the following day and graciously offered to help.

And a special gold star in social media alertness goes to the aptly-named firm Monitor Group.

In about two minutes after I posted my Twitter query,’s Managing Editor Michael Goldberg called me to see how he could help. Goldberg said he has on his desktop a Twitter client (he declined to say which one) to monitor (I couldn’t resist the word) what’s being said about his company.

I also reached out to Deloitte—both as part of my test and for a content marketing story I’m working on. After the traditional PR route failed with Deloitte (leaving voice and e-mail messages), I turned to Twitter to share my frustration:

@Deloitte, no one ever got back to me & here I was going to praise your PRwork. Left multiple emails/vmails. Can u help?

Around 10 hours later, Deloitte responded and around 17 hours later two Deloitte PR people tweeted me offering to help. And lo and behold the PR department kicked into gear the traditional way e-mailing me and voice mailing.

Well, at least they responded. Just not on Twitter time. A bit of irony for a company that talks up social media:

“In a connected world, power shifts to those most able to connect,” reads a Deloitte document from its Australia practice.

Now, I wasn’t sure if I had unrealistic expectations with these firms so I turned to social media guru Aaron Strout, CMO of

“I’m not surprised,” said Strout, when told of my experience.“In fact, I would be pleasantly surprised if these companies were responding. It’s still the minority that are listening and doing proactive outreach.

“Very few companies have discovered the art of conversation, of when to engage and how to react with folks. And B2B companies are less inclined to get outside the box. We're still at the tip of the iceberg.”

This original version of this article ran on

How to Go from Anonymity to Fame in One Tweet

Posted by wendyama

Jul 27, 2010

From obscurity to Twittereity in one little tweet.

A study of Twitter cites its ‘pointless babble’ and ends up going viral

By Wendy Marx

A one-day social media whirlwind shows not just how a self-proclaimed geeky company with no PR knowledge emerged from anonymity to become a media darling. It also illustrates how social media is changing how companies make news and how public relations is practiced.

Around 10 a.m. CDT on Aug. 12, Ryan Kelly, the founder and CEO of market insights and analysis firm Pear Analytics of San Antonio, posted the following on Twitter: "The Twitter Study we mentioned at #bmprsa is now available: interesting results..." BMPRSA is a San Antonio PR and social media group that Kelly had addressed a few weeks before, mentioning the upcoming study.

Almost immediately after he posted the tweet, a friend from sales and marketing company Sales by 5 sent him a Twitter direct message: "Please let me know when you release it, and I'll send it to Mashable."

By 5 p.m. that day, Pear's study was featured on the front page of Mashable, one of the largest blogs discussing social media and technology. By 6 p.m., the study was the top two trending topics on Twitter. Later that evening, Kelly was interviewed by Robert Scoble, formerly of Fast Company and now an evangelist for Rackspace. And from there it went viral.

Do a Google search on Pear Analytics today, and you'll see some 500 articles from everyone from the BBC to CNET to to outlets worldwide writing about its study. It's the sort of publicity a company would pay a big chunk of change to get.

Besides pointing out the phenomenal "make or break" quality of social media, there's a delicious irony to Pear's story. Its study's big news was that 40 percent of Twitter messages are what it cleverly called "pointless babble" with just 8.7 percent of tweets to be deemed of value with worthwhile news content.

Of course, without Twitter, Pear's study might have seen the fate of so many studies that end up unread and unreported. Nothing like soaring to prominence on a medium you're denigrating.

What's also fascinating about Pear's story is that the company followed none of the traditional PR practices. No press release. No outreach to media. No loud announcement.

So what's the secret to Pear's PR success?

"I can attribute its success to a few things," says Kelly, who was as surprised as anyone that the study took off. "I know nothing about PR. One, by analyzing the Twitter stream and categorizing the content, we did something no one else had done. Where, however, we really struck a chord was by labeling the most popular category, "pointless babble." I think if we would have named this something else, it may not have gone as far. Most of the news outlets used that phrase in their headlines.
"And lastly, I have to say we had a little luck that day in that no other major news happened that week—like Michael Jackson—that would have buried our news easily."

This article was originally published on

Adventures of a Curious Soul

Posted by wendyama

Sep 30, 2009

Journalism and social work enhance PR

Westfair OnlineWendy Marx and her B2B public relations agency Marx Communications were featured in a profile story in the Fairfield County Business Journal that talked about how Marx was ahead of her time in working in multiple careers including journalism, marketing and social work, and fusing them all together 16 years ago in a successful B2B PR agency.

“I’ve assembled a number of virtual people working for me, a group of senior level, very experienced people who help provide high-level strategic counsel and implementation plans,” Marx said. If her virtual people were full-time in Trumbull, “the talent would be extraordinarily expensive, but I can have top-flight talent available and flexible.”

“It’s a marvelous time to be in public relations,” she said. “For good or bad, I’ve been where the action has been at the time – newspapers, corporations and now public relations. In the past, you would have had to have a big building to have the sort of agency I have now. Today, you can have a virtual shop” that links clients with potential business worldwide.

In the past, she said, “people found out about you by reading a newspaper article. Now the first place they go is a search engine.” And while public relations agencies have been technologically phobic in the past, she said, “this Internet-driven world has given public relations the opportunity to have a major role in communicating with and responding to this worldwide conversation that is developing. With all these changes, I foresee a tremendous opportunity to grow my business.”

Looking for Attention? Adding Sizzle to Business Entertaining

Posted by wendyama

Sep 30, 2009

“It’s not just about the event.” That statement should be the mantra for any corporate event. If your company has ever run an affair, you probably know the drill. You sweat through hours and hours of preparation and planning, absorbed to the level of even matching your company’s logo with the color of the cocktail napkins and balloons. The goal, of course, is to create the perfect occasion.

There’s just one problem. All that effort can be for nothing if the media does not show up to cover your event. Even worse is that your company has lost a valuable opportunity for exposure.

If done correctly, corporate events are an excellent way to generate substantial attention for your company. However, staging the perfect event isn’t enough if you want to leverage buzz and momentum to create publicity for your company. To do that, you need to embrace a different mindset. You need to start thinking like a media person.

The media thrives on what’s new and different. You need to ask yourself: “What will present my company in a positive light, and at the same time attract media interest?”

Take a company’s anniversary as an example. Now anniversaries by themselves are not necessarily worthy of coverage, as far as the media is concerned. There’s no intrinsic news value. You need to ask yourself, “How can I turn a ho-hum occasion into something newsworthy?”

Better Packages, a Shelton manufacturer, was celebrating the production of its one millionth machine. The milestone was turned into a media-worthy event by partnering with a brand-name client of the customer, and inviting politicians and local celebrities, including a star player from the UConn women’s championship basketball team. The festive atmosphere was capped off by the mayor of Shelton proclaiming a special day in honor of the company.

To add to the occasion, a vintage Better Packages machine was arranged to be donated to the Smithsonian Institute. The result of these efforts was a celebration that got widespread local media and trade coverage and that eventually resulted in a feature on a national TV program.

We all remember the maelstrom that coincided with Krispy Kremes emergence in the region in August of 2002. Mason Inc., an agency in Bethany, wanted to do something more than a simple groundbreaking at the new Newington location. Fran Onofrio, executive vice president of Mason Inc., recalled bringing in fresh donuts from the nearest Krispy Kreme location 100 miles away to add to the excitement.

However, they didn’t simply bring in donuts. A convoy was assembled that included Newington police officers, the Newington fire company, and a decorated PT Cruiser to escort an armored vehicle loaded with donuts. To play off the association of cops with donuts, a police officer opened the donut-filled car and took the first bite. A photo of the officer taking the first bite made it onto the Associated Press (AP) wire and subsequently appeared in photos all across the country. It was truly “the bite seen around the world.” In return for the police department’s cooperation, Krispy Kreme made a donation to a police charity.

These examples illustrate the golden rule of staging newsworthy events. Create compelling reasons for the media to attend and make the whole process as easy as possible for them.

Anson Smith, public relations coordinator for Housatonic Community College of Bridgeport, says when planning any event ask yourself, “Why should a TV station send a camera crew out? Why should a radio station be interested?”

To be sure he gets across the media value of an event, Smith uses descriptive language in the college’s press releases and even goes so far as to write “Good photo opportunity, good footage opportunity, good actuality opportunity or any combination thereof” on the top of a release if there are good print, TV or radio opportunities.

Here is a checklist of items to do to increase the likelihood that the media will cover your event:

  • Create a newsworthy event. That means strong visuals if you want TV coverage or strong sound features for radio. And it means making your event significant in terms of news you’re announcing or news you’re creating.

  • Be smart about the timing of the event. Stage your event at times reporters are likely to attend. Broadcast and print outlets tend to run leaner operations on weekends and after deadlines so you’ll want to hold your event between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on a Monday through Thursday. Fridays are typically bad days because Saturday newspapers have slim coverage. If you have excellent visuals, consider holding an evening event at 5 p.m. or 10 get live local coverage.

  • Create a media advisory and a press release. A media advisory is a one-page document that is the equivalent of an invitation. It lays out the who, what, when, where and why of your event in an easy-to-read, one-page format. A press release adds some flesh to your advisory providing background to the event and facts and figures the re-porters can use in writing their stories.

Distribute your advisory and release. Send your press release and advisory about two to three weeks before your event. Typically email or fax are the easiest and best ways to distribute it. For your local newspaper, send it to the person who covers your issue or industry. If it’s a very small paper without defined beat reporters, send it to the editor. At radio stations, send it to the news director and at television stations, send it to the assignment editor. Be sure your local AP bureau gets your material and that it gets on the AP daybook – a list of activities for the day that goes to all AP members.

  • Follow up with the media. In these days of information overload, it’s not enough to just send out your materials and expect the media to show up. You need to personally call everyone two weeks before your event as well as the day before.

  • Arrange interviews. Arrange for the media to interview your spokesperson or newsmaker before or after the event. Local talk shows are also an option.

  • Create effective press materials. This should be a folder of easy-to-read information including your press release, biographies of key company executives and speakers, a fact sheet about your company or cause and any relevant articles that have been written about your company or cause.

  • Have a press check-in area. Have an area for the media to check-in so you’ll know which press attended your event. This is where the press can get your event materials. Be sure you have everything they need to do their job from electrical power for laptops and cameras, to an area to file a story if the event is an all-day one.

Following these steps should not only increase the chances of media coverage, but should enable the media to write a compelling story about your event. It then will become a truly memorable occasion.

Wendy Marx is the owner of Marx Communications, a Trumbull-based public relations and marketing communications agency.

This article originally appeared in the May 2005 issue of Business Times. The publication can be found at

Small is Big

Posted by wendyama

Sep 29, 2009

Click here to learn more how “Small is Big” when working with a boutique firm.

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