Friday, February 26, 2010

Candidly Drawing the Social Networking Line

I recently asked someone to be my "friend" on Facebook.

He declined. My immediate, gut response: pleased and impressed.

On the surface, my reaction may seem odd. But let's consider some background:

I’ve spoken with this particular individual, a newspaper reporter, about five times over the past few years, as he worked on stories with which I had some public-relations connection. We’ve never met, and we’ve never built any kind of tie beyond our respective jobs.

He works alongside some others that have made Facebook Friend requests of me, which I've approved. Their outreach to me is really what prompted me to reach out to him.

With that as a backdrop, here was his written response, which he sent via e-mail:

"Thanks for the friend request, but I just wanted to let you know that I keep my Facebook account to friends and family only. I like to keep business contacts separate. No offense intended of course, I just prefer to keep my job and my personal life in separate worlds, so to speak."

I respect his stance. And I respect even more that he articulated it.

In the four years that I've been social-networking on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, he is the first to take the time to broach the potentially awkward situation and explain, in his thoughtful way, why he was declining my request.

In this burgeoning social-media realm, it is so much easier to simply ignore requests that place us in an uncomfortable spot. And there certainly remain scenarios in which I am stumped about how to navigate someone's interest in getting into my cyber-world. In the future, I fully expect to continue ignoring some requests--and to be ignored.

But whenever we have an opportunity to convey our (often-evolving) criteria as to whom to let in to our SM world, we simultaneously have an opportunity to improve at least our little corner of this growing sphere's universe.

Indeed, inspired by my own fond memory of being diplomatically stiff-armed, I recently crafted a long-overdue reply. I created it for those seeking to connect with me on LinkedIn but with whom I have had little, if any, contact:


Thank you for inviting me to Link-In with you!

Whenever possible, I like to have more than a cursory personal connection with / knowledge of someone before Linking In. Since we are both so local, would you be interested in meeting in person sometime and establishing that face-to-face connection?

In these few words, I hope that I've reasonably and effectively explained my rationale and that you don't take offense to this proposed intermediate step. I genuinely hope we can create a stronger connection that can benefit us both in the future.

Best regards,

So far, I have sent that message to two individuals. I am sure it will come in handy often in the future. Already, my newfound mission to improve the quality of my connections--and not merely strive for quantity--has borne fruit: one recipient responded by essentially stating "whoops...I intended to Link-In with someone else whose last name is Baron."

So there's one MisLinked-In Misadventure averted.

What do you think? Do you have another way of handling this potentially delicate and awkward topic? I welcome your ideas. And who knows--even if we don't know each other yet, we may just build enough rapport for us both to want to join one another's social network.

Just don't take offense if I suggest we meet in person first.

You might also be interested in reading some previous Inside Edge PR commentaries about LinkedIn.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

You Snooze, You Lose: Get Onto YouTube

Did you know that you can secure a YouTube channel in less than 60 seconds?

If you are part of a cause or company that may--just may--make use of YouTube in the future, you should hop on it pronto, before someone else (like me) gets to it first.

Just go to YouTube and click on "Create Account" in the upper-right corner. Follow the steps and, presto, you've got a YouTube channel.

It's free, it keeps your communications options open, and I've done it at least 25 times in the past year for a variety of clients and others.

Among them: my chapter of Business Network International, OPRF Partners; the Oak Park-River Forest Chamber of Commerce; Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Gloor Realty; and the Five Seasons Family Sports Clubs in Burr Ridge and Northbrook.

And we mustn't let the cobbler's children go out with any shoes. Here's the
Inside Edge PR channel.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Journalism: One Way To Pave a Strong PR Path

Last week, I was pleased to be able to share some thoughts with students at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

Twenty years ago, when I graduated from Medill, I never would have imagined that I'd be part of something called "PR Month," which the school has wisely initiated to address increasing interest in a public relations career track among students.

Below is an excerpt in which I discuss the value of practicing as much journalism as possible before venturing into a public relations career:

To see other Inside Edge PR videos, click here.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

E-Mail Just One Part of Engaging the Media

Relying on e-mail alone to communicate news releases to the media is Public Relations Malpractice.

Pick up the darn phone and make a phone call, among other things, and you'll separate yourself very rapidly from the PR pack. Sending e-mail is among the easiest acts anyone can perform. So is deleting that very same e-mail.

Don't let the ease with which you can send a blizzard of news releases blind you to the fact that it's just one step in the process of engaging reporters, editors, producers and other decision-makers.

You can read more about my approach in this previous Inside Edge PR blog post, The Art of Contacting Reporters By Phone.

Monday, February 8, 2010

News Releases Are Not the Spot to Stroke Ego

A microblog today, echoing what I shared via the Inside Edge PR fan page and via the Inside Edge Twitter account:

The purpose of a news release is NOT to stroke the client's ego; among other things, it's to gain placement in the media, which helps the client attain goals.

All the better to let business growth stroke their ego instead!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tennis Star at Five Seasons is Latest Profile

My first story for pay, more than 25 years ago, was on Chris Lapriore, a two-time state tennis champ from my hometown of Marshfield, Ma.

One of my first stories for the Daily Northwestern was on Matt Akman, the school's #1player in 1987. Here's my latest tennis piece, a news release on Robert Stineman, a standout from New Trier High who is also a member of Five Seasons Family Sports Club in Northbrook.

You'll hear more about Robert, I suspect, as he seems to be hitting his stride in a big way on and off the court.