Sunday, May 31, 2009

CNN, Dominoes, Tweeting, and Damage Control

Everyone is getting into the tweeting act.

On its business page Monday (Apr 20), the LA Times reports "Tweets Are an Ally in Crisis PR" and goes on to talk about the likes of Dominoe's Pizza, CNN and Amazon. And about how knowing Twitter can make or break any one's PR department's ability to avert a crisis. Including theirs.

It also makes clear how an agile tweeter can sell more product simply by doing what people generally like to do and that's relate genuinely to other people.

So, when Amazon has trouble with their image because they don't get Twitter (remember the "glitch" excuse for removing the ratings from gay literature?) and when CNN realizes they'd better have some control over their own branding by handling their tweets from under their own umbrella, isn't it time more authors understood Twitter and got involved?

The answer is yes. But it's more than that. It's also understanding how to use it, not just spinning out your little 140 character tweets. There is a knack of it and I'm happy to consult with you on that. But I want to go deeper with this blog, too.

That is, you can manage social networking much better if you know what is going on in the social network universe. And you can't do that without help. It used to be that a good friend was all you needed to tell you when someone was maligning your name. But now you really need an automated friend. So let's jump from Twitter (or Facebook or any of the other groups like iFogo or Ning or . . . you get the idea!) to alerts.

Very simply put, authors need alerts. They need Google Alerts and they need Twitter Tweets Alert Digest from Tweetlate.com. These online entities will let you know when your name is mentioned for good or for bad. You tell them what you want them to find for you and they do it.

So, as an example, I let it find all my titles for me, in part and in whole. And my name. And my twitter moniker (@frugalbookpromo), and my series' name (HowToDoItFrugally). I use alerts in lots of other ways but this article is about damage control and sales so we'll leave it at that.

So, once you've got an alert, what do you do with it?

You react to it. One of the first rules of great PR is to react and to do it immediately.

When you react you don’t just to say you're innocent and can do no wrong. You examine the accusation to see what part you played in it and own up to that. Only then can you dismiss any untrue part of the statement. Remember, this has to be done fast but not so fast that you don't formulate your admission (or apology). Don't get vague like Amazon did and say "Oh, it was just a glitch." Do what Hugh Grant did when he was caught with a prostitute. He said, "Yes, I made mistake. I'm sorry. My following deserves better than that." And the problem went away. For everyone but me. I remember PR coups like an elephant with a 100 year memory. But I did forgive Grant. He's only human (and adorable.).

And what if you get alerted that someone said something nice?

Well, you've heard it here before. You thank them. Preferably publicly where others will see that someone said something nice. But genuinely. You can't buy advertising as good as this kind of PR.

So, tweet anyone?

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. Her FRUGAL book for retailers is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog.

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