PR = Personal Relationships


Today I was honored to be a guest on Blog Talk Radio’s Chicks Who Chat with @sugarjones and @extraordmommy (regular host @keepitclasseyjen was in New Orleans for Mardi Gras).  I was also a panelist on the #GNO Party on Twitter tonight(it takes place every Tuesday night from 7-10 pm MST). I was among the elite with @barbarajones, @nancy_martira and @todaysmama. It was a fast-paced conversation (I have hand cramps to prove it) but a lot of good questions were asked.

This post is for bloggers looking to reach out to companies or media that align with their brand. I titled this post PR = Personal Relationships because that is what it is. You may be saying “but I’ve never done PR, I don’t know what to do.” My response would be “Have you ever engaged someone in a conversation?” That is what PR is. It is about engaging a company/journalist in a conversation.

As a PR professional for over 10 years I have had a lot of experience and I must say, that I have had to evolve with the times. 10 years ago I wasn’t reaching out to bloggers, as they really didn’t exist. Now, I mostly focus on outreach to bloggers because I know that they have a big “Sphere of Influence” (more on this later).

How do I start a conversation? Seek them out in the community’s where you are. Let’s say you love to ski (as I know you all do!) and you would like to reach out to ski resort to see how you can work with them. Use the tool and search your favorite resort. Say you type in “park city” and find @snowmamas @reply and say how you love Park City. Build up that relationship first, because remember that is what PR is.

Why would a company want to work with you? Because you can help them share their story. I have shared this before, but it’s worth sharing again. David Armano, a genius in my mind, created an “Influence Ripples” chart. Basically, you as a blogger, have a sphere of influence that has a ripple effect. You may have 10,000 followers or you may have 10 followers, either way these people trust you. And if they trust what you are saying, they are going to share it with their “sphere of influence” and so on. The ripple effect keeps going and going.

How do you prove your ripple effect? First, it is true that some companies are not as “educated” on social media and they may just want your #’s like Unique Visitors. Yes, number are nice, but this is your chance to educate them. First, Google Analytics is a must. If you don’t have it, you must get it. It’s free! There is so much great information that you can track with it and it creates really cool graphs/charts.  You can get your unique visitors, page views, etc. But you can also drill down into your readers engagement. What’s the Avg time on site? Are people staying for 10 seconds or are they engaged with your content and staying for 10 minutes?

Second, comments on posts show engagement. I heard it tonight, and I’ve heard it before, but please leave comments on someone’s post that you’ve enjoyed. It’s ok to twitter them and say how you loved their post but complete the circle and comment on their post as well. Comments show that your readers are engaged in what you say and that they trust you and your opinions, which is important for our third point.

Use “corporate” jargon like ROI but don’t use it in the “Return on Investment” sense. Use it in the “Return on Influence” speak. Show your ROI to a company. If a company sees that your readers/listeners are engaged in what you say they will want to work with you.

But what is the most important thing? Be authentic! Work with the brands that are true to you. If you hate dogs (not that you would) don’t agree to do something for Purina Dog Food. Your readers know you, which is why they love you, and they want to see your opinions on brands you really would use!

Have fun and make new friends! PR people are no different than the ladies you meet at #gno every Tuesday night (ok maybe our fangs come out at night)! Start a conversation, you might be surprised what could come of it.

I am happy to answer any questions you might have. DM me at @kristaparry anytime.


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Word of Mouth or Word of Mouse


Recently I had someone question that I was leading my company’s  marketing strategy down a social media path that was forgetting about good ol’ fashioned “word of mouth” as a communication/marketing tool. 

Without even thinking for a second I responded that it’s no longer “word of mouth” it’s “word of mouse”. I wish I could claim that I was that clever to come up with this term, but I heard about it when I read David Meerman Scott’s ebook  “The New Rules of Viral Marketing: how word-of-mouse spreads your ideas for free”

I love the case study he used of the success that Cindy Gordon had at Universal Orlando Resort when she launched “the Wizarding World of Harry Potter”.  Instead of spending millions of dollars on an advertising campaign she identified seven “influential” everyday people to tell. Through their “word of mouse” those people told tens of thousands of people. Funny enough when you do a google search on the topic 80 percent of the top results are blogs. And guess what, all those blogs have other people who link to them and so on.

There is extreme power in that mouse. These days it’s not you creating your company’s brand (or even your own personal brand), other people are doing it for you whether you like it or not. That is the power of “word of mouse” marketing. influence_ripples1

David Armano‘s  Influence Ripples does a wonderful job illustrating the power that “word of mouse” marketing can have.  All ripples matter, whether they are big or small, because at some level they are still building your brand.

So how do you find these “influencers” or evangelists? Easy. Start by listening. There are several great ways to monitor what is being said about you or your company. Google blogsearch allows you to search blogs and Twitter search provides great results on what is being talked about on Twitter. 

One of the most brilliant marketers out there Mack Collier recently posted about this exact thing on his blog using Tropicana as an example. As he says it takes some time to really drill this down but isn’t it worth the effort!

What do you think, has “word of mouse” marketing taken us away from “word of mouth”? Or has it exponentially changed the power?


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Resort Marketing in a Changing World

The last seven years have been very interesting for me to watch and see how the marketing/PR fields hav changed. If you were the marketing director of a ski resort (as I am) you used to spend a lot of money placing ads in vertical publications (aka SKI, Skiing, etc) and call it good. In fact, you knew you had made it as a resort when you had an ad running in every issue of these magazines. And of course this doesn’t come cheap! And who do these magazines even reach? Is it your audience.

A little over four years ago I was promoted to Director of Marketing and Communications from Communications manager at Park City Mountain Resort. There were a lot of people questioning my young age (23) and  “what in the world I could know about marketing” when I had been in a PR world. I am not of the same belief that running ads in vertical pubs is a smart decision or even running ads in other magazines. What is the ROI? Can you really track it? I seemed to bump heads with those who had in been in their positions for over 20 years and continued to do the same thing year after year. Is it really smart to have the same marketing plan in place that you used 10 years ago? 5 years ago? even 3 years ago?

You see times have changed. It’s been said that american people see over 3,000 advertising messages a day! I love what Seth Godin said in the article “”Permission marketing turns strangers into friends and friends into loyal customers.”

So how do you accomplish this? What I believe in is good old PR. Now remember I don’t just think PR is about media relations, it’s about personal relationships!  It is about communicating with your audiences…all of them. This means your internal team (and as a ski resort we have over 1500 employees to communicate our message and be brand advocates), the community you work in (especially if you are in the travel/tourism industry), your guests (those who choose to visit or use your product) and your future guests (those who don’t know yet why they should choose you). Each of these audiences is unique but they all have one thing in common: they want you to engage with them. They want to feel like they are getting “insider information”. They want “authentic” conversations. They don’t want to feel like you are just advertising to them.

So how are you turning strangers into friends? Are you engaging them? In what ways? Is there a balance that needs to be had? Of course. How do you find that balance? I’d like to know your comments.

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2009 – A Year of Growth

I have toyed around with the idea of starting a personal blog for quite some time but never took the time to do it. I was a big part of launching my company’s blog over three years ago and never really thought to start my own. But now with the new year I thought what a better time than now to start one.

I’ve always loved meeting new people, which is why I chose to go into PR over 10 years ago. Back then working for a New York PR agency meant only building relationships with the media. Sure I worked closely with my clients but their goal was to get media coverage, not to build relationships with their stakeholders, which includes a lot more than just the media. I have found through my 10+ years that the media can only do so much. Sure they can certainly help to get your name out there but if you have a bad repoire with your internal team (employees), or the community you work in and with, good media coverage can only do so much.

I’ve learned from some of my new friends that PR is not public relations it’s Personal Relationships, which is why I love social media. I can have mentors that I’ve never even met. I can have mentors that live over 1,000 miles away. I can have mentors who don’t even know who I am. These are just a couple of those mentors:  Chris BroganAnn HandleyPeter Shankman,  Shannon Paul,  Mack Collier , PRSarah Evans (and the list could go on and on).

Chris Brogan offered up a great excercise to start the new year.  He said to “Look for three words that will help you frame your challenges and opportunities for 2009.” Here are my words to live by this year:

1) Knowledge – I’ve always said Knowledge is Power and I love to learn new things. This year I will continue to seek out ways/things to learn. I will also share my knowledge with others in any way that I can.

2) Build – As I gain knowledge I will build myself. But most importantly, I will build up those around me. Becoming a first-time mommie in 2009 I will build a solid foundation for my new little family!

3) Inspire – I will look for inspiration in all things and experiences. I will then seek to inspire those around me.

What are your three words?

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