Skip navigation

I signed myself up with a Twitter account a few weeks ago and I’m still trying to get the hang of it. Twitter confuses me. I’m able to admit that. I haven’t found a way to interact with Twitter in a capacity that gives it a meaning to me. If I stopped using Twitter tomorrow it probably wouldn’t really bother me. On the other hand, if I stopped using Facebook cold turkey, I would definitely have to go through an adjustment period.

I’m sure as I use it more and more and I follow more people and have more followers (how pretentious does that sound?), I’ll develop an affinity and a use for it the same way I have with Facebook. It’s just taking longer than I’d like…

Any tips on helping this transition along?

If so, this (click here) is the best PR campaign money can buy. If not, it’s still hilarious and a great attempt at personal brand management.

Thoughts?

Blogging. Everybody’s doing it; me, my professors, even CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies are blogging.

It’s this last group that really interests me. CEO’s of large multinational corporations, who wouldn’t have time for you if you called their direct line or dropped by the office, are blogging. They’re blogging in reaction to customer dissatisfaction or blogging in an effort to be proactive about their consumer relations. They think they’ve found a way to create some sort of personal relationship with their customers, all of them, by reaching out, albeit virtually, and talking to them online. They’re answering queries, sharing secrets (probably not really important ones though), and just keeping their interested consumers in the loop.

Blogging is becoming big business too. Along with media training for CEO’s, some PR firms are now offering corporate blog training for executives. Manning Selvage & Lee, an international PR firm with an office in Toronto, is one such firm. They’re actually the only firm I managed to find that was publicly advertising that services. Maybe they’re a step ahead?

Some executives blog like clockwork. They do it daily, weekly or on some other scheduled and well known routine. Others are more sporadic and blog whenever the mood hits them. Some executives take a rather relaxed approach, blogging about whatever they may have on their mind that day. Others keep it strictly business.

But, just how effective is blogging? Are publics buying this attempt by CEO’s to reach out and create happy little consumer communities?

According to PR Communications, it does… some times. According to the article, corporate blogging can definitely create value for your company. It has the ability to reach out to certain publics and create a relationship with those publics. It is by no means a surefire way of doing that though.

As with most relationships, if your blogging relationship with your public is disingenuous people will see through it. But, if you are genuine in your blogging, it is a tool that has the potential to reap many rewards. As with many things, honesty is the best policy and keep it simple. Blog about what you know. And, oh yeah, flogging is probably a bad idea.

If it’s done right, blogging can definitely be an added benefit in the constant struggle that is customer relations. It offers companies an unparalleled medium through which they can have access to their public(s). It can be a big benefit and a huge advantage over competitors.

So, in conclusion I’m not sure if they’ve done it, but, I definitely think they’ve gotten closer. I think corporate execs have found a medium that effectively allows them to communicate directly with their publics. And just like with any new medium, those who use it properly, start early and who use it genuinely, for the best interest of both the consumer and the company they represent, will prosper. The good execs out there, those ‘on the ball’ will see the benefit and will get behind this movement. They’ll also probably be the ones who introduce us to the next movement. I wonder what that will be?

Not too long ago, the word networking meant something, the word had a certain opportunity and optimism attached to it. Company Christmas parties were about more than getting your salaries worth at the open bar, they were a chance to finally rub shoulders with some of the higher ups and get yourself noticed – and hopefully out of the mail room.

Networking used to be about making the opportunity to network. It was a calculated move that showed ambition, drive and a certain level of self confidence. Now however, with the explosion of social media, networking seems to be something that people do between lunch and being productive.

The adage, ‘nothing worth doing is easy’ seems relevant here. But,with tools like Facebook, LinkedIn and others networking seems to be getting easier and easier. Is networking too easy, or am I just old fashioned?  And if it is too easy, is that a bad thing?

Any thoughts?

In 1972, Vic Paraninfo opened up his ‘footwear and leather goods repair’ shop at the corner of Yonge St and Wellington St in Aurora, Ontario. Vic’s Shoe Repair is a small shop in the downtown core of Aurora – don’t blink or you’ll miss it; the store and downtown Aurora.  Vic’s is sandwiched between an advertising agency and an office for A-Channel news and compared to his flashy neighbours, Vic’s signage is a subdued yellow sign that simply reads ‘Vic’s Shoe Repair’.  Vic’s stands out because of it’s simplicity.

Vic is a skilled shoe maker and leather worker, so, upon arriving in Canada it was only natural for Vic to continue doing what he knew how to do, so he opened up Vic’s Shoe Repair. After years of hard work and determination, Vic has managed to turn that trade into a career.  A career that has helped Vic raise a family, support a community and create a legacy.

Right now you’re probably wondering what exactly a shoemaker in a small town has to do with PR. … Bear with me for a moment and I’ll try and explain it to you.

As good as Vic is at repairing shoes, he’s ten times better at repairing skates. So, during our week hiatus from classes, when I was visiting my parents in Aurora, I brought a pair of skates with me that I had broken while playing hockey. I was going to drop them off at Vic’s to see if he could work his magic on them.

I walked into Vic’s and handed over my skates to the man himself. He took my skates with his rough and weathered hands and told me he would be right back. As he disappeared into the back of his shop to take a look at the damage, I started to look around the shop. That’s when I noticed it.

One of the walls inside of Vic’s Shoe Repair was completely covered in newspaper clippings. The clippings, the entire wall full, were from the local paper the ‘Era Banner’ and every single article praised Vic in some way shape or form. The theme of all of the clippings was Vic giving back to his community. The clippings spanned 30 years from 1976 up to 2006.

Among the clippings were about a dozen or so covering Vic’s ‘Sharpen for Arthritis’ fundraiser. For two decades, starting in 1976, Vic would hold a skate sharpening marathon on a designated Saturday and donate all of the money he made that day to arthritis research. Another group of clippings showed Vic’s constant support of local police and fire departments, again with Vic holding shoe shining and repairing events that saw all proceeds going to those two institutions. The most impressive clipping I saw was from 1982. It showed Vic being driven around town by the mayor of Aurora, Vic was being honoured as Aurora’s citizen of the year at the annual Canada Day Parade.

Vic resurfaced a few minutes later to give me some bad news about my skates, they were unrepairable. After digesting the tragic news about my skates, Vic and I started talking and I pointed to the newspaper covered wall and told Vic he was a celebrity.  This seemed to humble the usually soft spoken and extremely friendly Vic.  He shrugged off my comment and then started talking to me about the virtues of creating relationships.  Vic said that life was about creating relationships with people and being real in those relationships.  Vic told me that as long as you’re sincere and genuine with people you will hold their respect and as long as you have peoples respect you’re on the right path.

What I realized then was that Vic Parninfo is everything that is right about PR.  Vic’s entire life, and career, was based on creating relationships.  A local vendor in a small market, Vic did what he knew how to do and he did it well.  At the same time, he supported causes that he believed in and gave back to a community that in turn supported him as much as they could, all the while practicing perfect PR.
Over the past 30 years, Vic has been the one staple at the corner of Yonge and Wellington seeing many businesses come and go while holding down his own forte.  He’s outlasted almost every other mom and pop shop, and even some bigger corporate stores as well, all because of the relationships he’s managed to build.  He’s created a worth, for himself and his business, well beyond discount prices and blowout sales.  Vic manages to offer that intangible aspect to business relationships that most consumers yearn for. And the funny thing is while some companies pay tens of thousands of dollars for those kinds of intangibles, at Vic’s Shoe Repair its just Vic being Vic.

So,  whenever you hear reporters or lawyers or traditional marketing and advertising execs bash PR for whatever reason, just think of Vic and how PR in its simplest can also be its most effective.

Admittedly I’m a fairly outspoken individual. I enjoy engaging in conversation and do so regularly – with whoever is around to play devils advocate. Throughout my childhood and into my adult life I’ve always enjoyed being social and fairly outgoing. Talking to people, regardless of the circumstances, has never really been a problem for me. However, for the first time in my life I’ve found myself to be pretty much speechless. The reason? Blogs.

I don’t know a whole lot about blogging, or the blogging world for that matter, so I had a fairly open mind when I found out that I’d have to create my own blog for online PR. The first thing I did when I found out that I’d be creating my own blog was some research. I started reading blogs. I read up on things I like such as hockey (and sports in general), music, organizations I find interesting, and so on. I read a wide variety of blogs and have even bookmarked a few. But, even with all of my bookmarked blogs and growing insight into the blog world, I’m still not an active ‘blogger’. I am, for all intents and purposes, a passive blogger. I read them, some I follow regularly, but I don’t post any comments. I don’t have anything against posting I just haven’t yet. I haven’t posted yet because I haven’t been able to think of anything substantial or relevant to write.

I found the same problem when I was trying to write the very first article that was to appear on my own blog. I couldn’t think of anything that I could write about that other people would want to read. Maybe it’s my naivety and greenness with respect to the blog world, but from what I’ve experienced so far blogs seem to be for the most part glorified online diaries. And please, before anyone gets personally offended by that comment, look at the source. I’m new at this. I really have no idea what I’m doing yet. But, I’m willing to give it a try and find out what all the rage is about.

What I do know though is that a) One of the things that attracted me to the PR program at Centennial was the fact that the course administrator had a blog that seemed to be relevant to the field

b) Blogging gets a lot of coverage . Serious blogs, and bloggers, seem to carry some big time weight in their respective fields/industries

c) With the growing emphasis on social media and technology with respect to PR/marketing/communications, blogging is no doubt going to be an essential tool in the future.

That’s all for now. Any thoughts?