Executive Summary: PR News’ Big 3 Conference: Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook

April 18, The Grand Hyatt, New York

The Big Picture on the Big 3:

In the day’s opening session, Chris Vary, executive VP of digital program innovation at Weber Shandwick, said that brands and agencies are each searching for how to best connect with consumers and other businesses. “It's now important for every company to think about themselves as a media company—or as a content marketer,” Vary said. “There are many channels to choose from—editorial, community generated, social channels, wholly owned content hubs, advertorial.”


“Facebook has told us to post hyper-locally, not nationally now,” Vary said, referring to Facebook’s geo-targeting capabilities for its paid postings.  “You can target 15 different people.”

When it comes to Facebook Home, a Facebook app that owners of Android phones can load onto their devices and integrates all of the social network’s services into the phone’s operating system, Vary said that he had it for a week and “had to get rid of it for its constant Facebook overloading.” Facebook wants to own the mobile experience with Facebook home, Vary said, and they're hoping to integrate better into your television sets. “Facebook’s overall reach is declining, and its ad spend is on the rise.”

Vary said that the new Facebook Timeline has changed the way tabs work for campaigns, and we have to think about the reach.

If he had to bet on which social network among the Big 3 is primed for the brightest future, Vary is betting on Twitter for it’s dominance among social media when it comes to news events and the spread of information.

His social platform keys included: If your business is boring, don’t pretend to be fun; you are who you say you are online (authenticity is key); be mobile-first; track high-performing brands and embrace the paid syndication of social.

Must-Have Social Tools for Your PR Toolbox

Speakers: Alex Cecala, Social Media Specialist Ketchum
Adrianna Giuliani, SVP, Creative & Strategic Planner, DeVries

There are some tools that all PR pros must have to manage their social media programs efficiently—and the good thing is not all of these tools have a price tag. Alex Cecala, social media specialist Ketchum, said there is no magic tool—it's all about what your business goals are. “Finding the right tool depends what channels your looking at, and who on your team is going to use the tool,” Cecala said. “In keeping these question in mind, you need to think about conversational context vs. online context.”

3 Main Buckets of Tools:

1) Social listening tools: “These are for listening to overall consumer conversation and help tell us what people are feeling in general,” Cecala said. “However a lot of these don't have engagement features, but some do (Sysomos, Radian6).”

2) Engagement tools: HootSuite, TweetDeck, Buffer—these optimize and manage daily social media posting, Cecala said.

3) Brand page tools: These are the owned and competitor tools for Facebook and Twitter. They measure and research owned and paid performance.

Influencer Identification:

“Influencer identification requires social influence metrics, all of which are vanity metrics in general,” Cecala said. “Some are based on number of mentions, reach, engagement—they're all still software metrics and influence still takes a human measurement to determine if someone is actually influential.”

Adrianna Giuliani, senior VP, creative & strategic planner, DeVries, said it’s important to keep in mind a macro perspective and convert your listening skills into insights. You have to understand what your listening metrics, like share of voice, conversations drivers, audience analysis (age and demographics, education level, etc.), adjacent conversations (not necessarily your demo talking about your brand, but what else they're talking about, so you can figure out a way to get into that conversation), Giuliani said.  

Who's Dour Data

“Your own backyard has data platforms, Giuliani said. “Twitter Analytics, TweetDeck, Google Analytics and Facebook Insights can help you figure out what content is the most sticky, what's driving people to your site and which search terms are the biggest drivers.”

Always-on Brands: Consumers expect service and responses in real time. “You can get additional help in a crisis for amped up listening, even if you're a one-person show with instant resources like proactive frameworks and thresholds,” Giuliani said.

Tips for Getting it Right: Listening first is the key to effective communications, Giuliani said. At the same time, avoiding knee-jerk reactions with our access to respond so quickly is critical. Sometimes you need to talk with your team and discuss what's appropriate. And of course, use social tools to improve versus celebrate your work.

Pin for Success: How to Engage Your Audience with Pinterest 

Speakers: Natanya Anderson, Director of Social Media, Whole Foods Market, @natanyap
Erica Campbell Byrum, Director of Social Media, Homes.com @ericacampbell
Kim Matlock, Senior Director, Digital and Customer Relationship Management, Hard Rock International, @kimpossible2

Food, fashion and media brands have notably tapped into Pinterest's rapid growth and ability to drive sales, but brands of all kinds can leverage its power

You may be asking yourself if you work in a non-visual brand, what's in Pinterest for me? There's still an opportunity to tell your story visually, said Natanya Anderson, director of social media for Whole Foods Market. “You can use a basic Pinterest approach to be useful for your brand, regardless of your audience. “

Whole Foods takes the "ate" approach to Pinterest—curate, integrate and evaluate. “Pinterest is about curation. We have a 5-1 rule—for every one of our own things, we pin five things from outside sources,” Anderson said.

It all starts with curation, she said, citing the "borrowing" ethos of Captain Jack Sparrow of “Pirates of the Caribbean.” It’s all about the leverage, and these points are a roadmap to effective leverage:

  • Know your customers’ passion points

  • Know team’s passion points

  • Know the data—but in a visualized form

  • Provide solutions—in a visualized form

  • Always have fun—that’s what it has to be about

  • Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good

  • Start building a library of curated images

  • Find inspiration all around you

  • Take a photography class

  • Explore a few good apps

  • Build an extended team

  • Bring in partners

  • Pin video—it’s an effective visual medium and great for Pinterest

Examples of great curation, Anderson said, include the marketing automation company Eloqua, which created a campaign covering “40 Charts for Modern Marketers.” Neiman Marcus is another, with pins on “The Art of Celebration.” AMD, appropriately enough, has a campaign on getting “Technically Organized.”

In integration, Anderson says to follow the “Coach Phil Rule,” referring to Phil Jackson, and focused on not forgetting the fundamentals. They include:

  • Don't lose track of your goals

  • Stay focused on your audience

  • Focus on powerful messages

  • Consider share-ability and context

  • Differentiate decoration and inspiration

  • Link strategically

  • Bring on role players

Finally, Anderson said, measure what you pin and understand what works for the audience. One campaign, she said, had only 179 pins but generated 70,000 impressions. 

Editorial Calendar for Pinterest

Erica Campbell Byrum, director of social media, Homes.com, said that Pinterest is the third largest referrer of traffic into the Homes.com website. "We're using it more as a lifestyle perspective—Pinterest is like fantasy football for girls. I even used it to plan my entire wedding,” Byrum said.

Homes.com work’s with an editorial calendar and aligns it directly with PR pitches. The team maps out top brand themes and ties its Pinterest efforts into trends and seasonality.  Here are some of Byrum's internal best practices for use of the edit calendar: 

  • Share it where everyone can see it, touch it and live it

  • Place accountability on the team—ensure that those responsible for various elements get things done as assigned

  • Align directly with PR pitches—by doing so, you strengthen brand messages and expand participation in the Pinterest campaign

  • Provide big picture and hourly details

  • Map out topic themes in advance

  • Tie Pinterest campaigns into trends and seasonality


“We've created a Pinterest ambassador program,” Byrum said. “We figure out who has great influence and aligns with our brand. We have a group of 20 ambassadors.”

Byrum also has a major infographic strategy, and uses graphics in cross-collaboration across its social networks, and hires companies for premium placement. “We have minimalistic branding on them, they're more focused on what the consumers likes,” Byrum said. “Take risks and use your website and other data you have. You don't want to put too much text information on a graphic that people won't click through—at the end of the day you are still striving for a click-through.”

Kim Matlock, senior director, digital and customer relationship management, Hard Rock International, said that in the business space Hard Rock wants to be in every channel that its audiences populate.

“We want to be educational—but what if your brand isn't that exciting? Use others' content and use others' audiences, but be cognizant of legal and copyrights,” Matlock said. “You can also share boards with other businesses. Look at your business space—for us it's the hospitality industry—and look for partnerships.”

'Spider' Approach:

“Our multi platform approach includes Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook from a spider approach, all out of the center piece of content,” Matlock said. “Our hashtag strategy keeps these aligned across all of the platforms. Make sure also that you're linking into those categories and using category keywords.”

Proven Twitter Tactics to Gain and Retain Followers

Speakers: Mindy Finn, Head of Strategic Partnerships, Twitter, Inc.
Rose Mary Moegling, Social Media Manager, Toshiba America Medical Systems @ToshibaMedical
Richard Pesce, Senior Manager, Social Media Communications and Digital Media, Capital One@rpesce

Refresh your Twitter engagement strategies by learning how consumer, b2b brands and nonprofits are successfully growing their legions of Twitter followers—and keeping the ones they already have. David Ringer, director of media relations, Audubon Society @audubonsociety

Key Takeaways from Rose Mary Moegling, social media manager, Toshiba Medical Systems:

  • Research keywords and hashtags before choosing them—the best choice may not be what you think.

  • Respond publicly if it can be done in 140 characters.

  • Measure each campaign for effectiveness, not just in clicks but also in what they did after clicking.

  • Evaluate your social media strategy continuously, adjusting messaging and tactics as necessary.

  • Monitor conversations to stay ahead of potential issues.

Richard Pesce, senior manager of social media and digital communications for Capital One, said it's best to tap associates as brand advocates in their own social networks. Associates are an untapped social asset and are uniquely positioned to drive positive sentiment and brand advocacy. They know the company the best, have vested interest in good outcomes for the organization, are credible, trusted sources of information and have deep, authentic connections to their networks. They are online. And they are talking and sharing.

Key Takeaways from David Ringer, director of media relations, The Audubon Society:

• Be interesting: Brand, timing, humanity

o What else is happening in the world?

o Embrace and encourage user-generated content

• Use Crowdbooster to figure out what works

• Tweet often: More tweets = more followers

• Listen and engage

o Set up brand searches in HootSuite

o Use Tweepi to follow people in your space

o Respond, respond, respond

• Thank fans and influencers

• Increases engagement and builds your credibility

• Creates long-term advocates

Facebook's Top Developments and Features for PR Pros

Speakers: Kelly Colbert, Staff VP, Advertising & Social Media, WellPoint @WellPoint
Alexandra Nicholson, Vice President of New and Social Media, Cone Communications @alex20001
Jennifer Sadler, Manager, Social Media Strategy / Marketing Communications, Navy Federal Credit Union @NavyFederal

Facebook’s drive to increase its revenue is good news for communicators—the social network is constantly refining and adding features, and in fact has just announced a series of apps that integrate Facebook with Android's operation system. 

Key Takeaways from Kelly Colbert, staff VP of advertising and social media at WellPoint:

  • Apps are a great way to engage with consumers on Facebook.

  • They enable great storytelling.

  • Think about what you want customers to say to each other and how your app can create those stories.

  • Create experiences that can be shared with friends.

  • The best apps enable friend-to-friend interaction over app-to-person interaction.

  • Build your app for mobile and desktop: Consumers are using both, so let them connect from any device.

  • Leverage app insights to create stronger connections: Compare app insights to page insights to understand the most important relationships.

Key Takeaways from Alexandra Nicholson, VP of new and social media, Cone Communications:

  • 96% of your fans never return to your Facebook page  after they “Like” you. Encourage content that drives comments above all. 

  • Work on limiting negative feedback on page. 

  • Use tools like EdgeRank Checker and Facebook Insights to analyze performance and adjust content. 

  • Budget dollars to promote your content, just like you do for press releases. 

Key Takeaways from Jennifer Sadler, manager of social media strategy and marketing communications, Navy Federal Credit Union:

  • Prepare for Graph Search: Graph Search is a way for users to use simple phrases to search for sets of people, places, and things that match specific characteristics. Update your page information, use images, create local pages.

  • Know, Acquire, Engage, & Respect your fans.

  • Leverage your existing customers.

Keynote Presentation: It's a Digital World, Populated by Analog People

Keynote speaker Rishad Tobaccowala, chief strategy and innovation officer for VivaKi, said that social channels are “the people’s network,” and that once information becomes digital it becomes “digital leakage” and burns through boundaries between companies, industries and the analog world, like an acidic agent. “If your company is not authentic, nothing will help you on the people’s network,” Tobaccowala said. “The recipe for success is authentic storytelling and inspiring experiences.”

Twitter is as much of a search engine as Facebook is a discovery engine, Tobaccowala said. Social network isn't just Facebook or Twitter. “It's the people's network, and that’s what allows David to take on Goliath. Don't forget David (the people) has the rock, and you've (the brand/Goliath) better have something better than a shield.

“The best way to define your brand is answer threes questions, Tobaccowala said: 1 What’s your niche, your voice, and your story? “If you think you’re going to be the best in everything, you're selling mounds of mediocrity to the uninformed.”

PR is the ultimate form of native advertising, Tobaccowalla said, and digital provides us with new ways of telling great stories.

Case Studies in Successful Visual Storytelling

Speakers: Allison Robins, Director of Global Public Relations, Zumba Fitness @zumba
Doug Simon, President & CEO, D S Simon Productions @DSSimon
Dane Wiseman, Digital Marketing Manager, Critical Mention

Your online audiences want and expect great visual content—especially video. It’s time to mine your existing visual content and create new content (affordably); determine how to use those images to tell a brand’s story across multiple social media channels; apply tried-and-true storytelling principles to the use of still images; articulate the relationships among visual pieces to clarify your storyline; and launch visual stories that motivate audiences to participate and share their own images.

Doug Simon, president & CEO of D S Simon Productions, said your social media channels are important for media when they're looking for leads of the stories they cover. “You have to make sure you brand journalism and visual storytelling is prominent and working for you in those environments,” Simon said.

Simon defined PR-keting, which is a five-step process that goes beyond brand journalism.

1) Identify the behavior you are trying to change.

2) Identify the people who you are trying to reach and where they consume content.

3) Create content that will be effective in changing their behavior.

4) Place the content where they will find it, view it, share it etc.

5) Measure it all

Simon’s Visual storytelling tips:

1) Have your elevator pitch ready

2) Create a script web—at the center is your story. What are the different legs of your idea that you can support with visuals. Once you have about 6-7 legs, you can prioritize them.

3) Tell a story

4) Avoid one-sided scripts and open with compelling content.

5) Production—match the quality to what you're trying to present as your brand image.

6) Prepare the talent, speak to them in advance to get their feedback on what you're trying to do.

7) Don't overlook audio quality’s importance.  

8) Plan moments and elements—make sure you've got what you need before you wrap the video shoot.


Allison Robins, director of global public relations for Zumba Fitness, described Zumba’s triangular brand proposition:

1) Emotional (freeing, electrifying, joy)

2) Physical (fit)

3) Social (belonging)

For Zumba, their visual storytelling aligns to the triangle. Robins provided tips for spotting storytelling opportunities:

1) Analyze company goals

2) Identify areas of business that need improvement

3) Meet with relevant departments to strategize

4) Develop a PR plan with social media elements that will move the needle

5) Activate.

What value can you bring to the media? “This is one of the most important things I've learned to consider while at Zumba,” Robins said.

 1) What is the number one thing any media outlets want?

2) How can you help them achieve their goals?

3) Partner with publishing houses and providing digital content.

4) How can social media play a role in that relationship'?

Case study: Media Partnerships:

Robins said Zumba partnered with Shape Magazine for onsite marketing integration at Zumba convention. A fitness-concert Livestream was done via Shape's Facebook page and on Shape.com. Shape’s social media channels saw a 21% incase in new visitors to the site and nearly 50,000 unique visitors with 220,000 total streams. And, of course, Zumba got major coverage in shape.

Keep an accomplishments jar: no matter how small or big. Whenever everyone gets stressed out, they take them and read them. It keeps people sane.

Dane Wiseman, digital marketing manager at Critical Mention, focused on the importance between owned, earned and paid video content. “The goal of all marketing strategies is to create a quantitative and qualitative ecosystem,” Wiseman said. “The success of all content marketing strategies is to have a continued growth cycle of content with prolonged lifecycles and sharing.”

Setting Tangible Key Performance Indicators for Your Big 3 Initiatives

Speakers: Joy Hays, World Wide Manager, Digital & Social Media Communications, Texas Instruments, @joyhays
Toni Jones , Social Media Manager, U-Haul International, @uhaul

Developing a social media measurement strategy can be a challenge for PR pros trying to convey the value of likes, followers, reach and engagement to senior management. One of the best approaches to proving value is by defining key performance indicators (KPIs).

Developing a social-media measurement strategy can be a challenge for PR pros trying to convey the value of likes, followers, reach and engagement to senior management. One of the best approaches to proving value is by defining key performance indicators (KPIs). Unlike the often fuzzy concept of ROI, establishing KPIs for your measurement program will clarify which digital metrics to measure and also provide the clear, concise stats needed to convince data-driven C-level executives that your social-media efforts are moving the business needle.

1) Differentiate KPIs vs. Metrics: The main difference between a KPI and other metrics is "the fact that you tie KPIs back to business objectives,” said Joy Hays, worldwide manager of digital & social media communications. “Numbers don't mean anything until we make them mean something—business objectives define everything that we need to do,” Hays said. So digital communications gives you all these things to measure, and all this stuff, but KPIs limit measurement to what's important to management.

2) Define success: "You want to set your SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound)," said Toni Jones, social media manger at U-Haul International.

3) Include social from the start, not as an afterthought: PR and social media need to be involved in the entire process of launching campaigns, Jones said. "Having tracking links is important so that all campaign touch points (e.g., websites) are linked together." 

4) Avoid the Meltdowns: Hays described what she calls "the measurement meltdown cycle." "In any one of these four examples, you don't really have value to add, or evidence that pushes your agenda for social media forward in the company. 

▪ Action but no data. 

▪ Data, but no insight. 

▪ Insight, but no context. 

Context, but no action. "Content is king, but content without context is a figurehead with no power—give content some context to prove its importance."

5) Follow this measurement framework: In fact, print it out, tape it on your wall. Consider getting it tattooed. 


6) Analyze results with a human touch: "Data and reports can only take you so far. Understand how outcomes relate to behavior. Then make decisions," said Jones. 

7) Refine strategy: "Don't get stuck on what's trending; only do what's right for your goals and your organization," said Jones. "Just because everyone is on Vine, doesn't mean we need to be there. It has to be right for our business—you don't have to be on every platform." 

Use Twitter to Gain a Competitive Edge in Media Relations

Speakers: Douglas Brundage, Chief Digital Strategist, Gansevoort Hotel Group @HotelGansevoort
Vanessa McGrady, Social Media Team Project Manager, Media Relations, Southern California Edison @SCE
Nicole Yelland, Director of Marketing & Communications, Livio @NWLife

Nicole Yelland, director of marketing & communications, Livio, said that in using Twitter, be yourself, however weird you may be; it shows the real you and that's what might be relatable to audiences and people.   

Douglas Brundage, chief digital strategist, Gansevoort Hotel Group, said using Twitter is like going to different dinner parties, which requires different ways on how to behave but it's always best to listen and respond; listen before you engage in conversation. Be careful on sponsored content. Be authentic.

"With LinkedIn and Twitter, explain the connection before you want to engage with someone," Brundage said. "Do not go for the 'open-mouth' kiss immediately when you want to initially engage someone via social channels."

Launch Contests on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest

Speakers: Matt Levine, Co-owner Cocktail Bodega, Sons of Essex, The Rowhouse Inn, indieFORK
Trevor Martin, Social and Mobile Marketing Manager, The Nature Conservancy, @nature_org

Launching contests can be a great way to rapidly increase your fan and follower base and even get media coverage for your brand. Matt Levine, co-owner of Cocktail Bodega, Sons of Essex, The Rowhouse Inn, indieFORK, said when it comes to contests, don't read the book; write the book. Get creative.   "If you want to be an innovator in this field you can't resort to what everyone's doing," Levine said. "Do something different and be a trendsetter in the field."

Levine said that for contests it's important to show the offerings of a brand, but don't "push" sales. "Create a brand 'environment' that represents your brand and your message," Levine said. "Let the consumer 'play with' your PR campaigns and make sure they are relevant; push the envelope." 

It's important to go local to get people/customers/prospects conditioned to your offerings, Levine said. Create video that focuses on the local communities that can help celebrate your brand. To promote his restaurants, Levine's videos teach people how to prepare certain dishes (using regular people and not actors, which adds to the video being authentic). "Video puts the brand in the 'incubator' of what's happening in the neighborhood; the first image is key; you don't get a second chance to make a first impression."

Trevor Martin, social and mobile marketing manager, The Nature Conservancy, said that if social is part of your overall strategy, then a contest is a tool in your social strategy.

Martins Elements for an online contest:

Goals: What are they, specifically?

  • Contest type: Your goals will help determine the right type of contest.

  • Prizes: Internal or external? Monetary or not?

  • Platform: (Goals + contest type = platform)

  • Legal: "Buy your legal team pizza," Martin said. "Trust me, it works."

  • Marketing: Promotional calendar, assists, channel

  • Distribution: Leverage existing accounts partners + media

  • Engagement: Respond to users

"Don't make your hashtag just the actual brand; build it around the brand," Martin said. "Use hashtags that can be used across channels."