{Rules of PR no.9} 4 Ways to Tweet to Success, 1 Way to Destroy it

Twitter Cupcakes by Bakerella via Flickr. All Rights Reserved 2009.

Being on Twitter means you can speak your mind under the presumptions that everyone is willing to ‘share,’ be merry and kick it back just like you.

Umm…no!

Believe it or not, if you are conscious of what you say, how you say it and how you choose to relate your message, 90 percent of the time, Twitter can make you a better writer, advertiser and planner. That, or it can take away any serious credibility you could earn. Yes, I said, ‘earn.’

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10 Ways to Apply Twitter to Public Relations

Twitter Cupcakes by Bakerella via Flickr. All Rights Reserved 2009.

Twitter seems to be everywhere these days. Sam Champion and Chris Cuomo (and they are obsessed) from Good Morning America are on it and so is Oprah.  But what’s all this tweetness about? And how can you, as a public relations professional, get “in” on all that Twitterful action?

1. Set up a Twitter Account

Simple and easy to do.  You cannot have a piece of the action, if you have no pie to throw around.

2.  Understand it

Originally started, and used, by people in the technology and social media industry, Twitter has emerged as a premier social networking site. Facebook has even tried to buy it.

Messages (aka “tweets”) are 140 characters long. Be concise, be direct and say what you mean. Twitter streams in real-time, which means as it happens, you’ll find out about it.

Twitter-Jargon:

  • DM = Direct Message (send a direct, private message to another Twitter user)
  • RT = retweet (to retweet means to repost someone else’s tweet)
  • # = is a hashtag. Hashtags are associated with specific trends and topics. For example, {Rules of PR} Making Your Brand http://bit.ly/FbUgy#jobadvice #pradvice”
  • Followers = the people who “add” or “follow” you on Twitter
  • Following = the people you have “added” or are “following” on Twitter
  • @ = comes before someone’s Twitter name and is basically their Twitter address. For example, @SashaHalima
  • Pls = Please
  • EM = email
  • BTW = by the way
  • w00t/wOOt = expression of “yay” or some type of excitement
  • TYT = take your time
  • WTF = What the F***
  • WTH = What the Heck
  • TIA = Thanks in Advance
  • Tweet-up = an in-person meeting/gathering of Twitter folks
  • ppl = people
  • IMO = In My Opinion

3. Communications 

Twitter is a great way for public relations professionals to keep in touch with the latest trends. Whether your topic of choice is news, social media or straight PR, there is something for everyone as long as you know where to look.

Also, there are a lot of journalists on Twitter. It’s a great resource for them as well. My favourite Social Media guide, Mashable, created a great guide you can reference here.

If you live in Australia, click here or here for two different sets of lists. If you live in the UK, try this one.

Josh Copeland also uploaded a list of PR agencies on Twitter here.

4. Direct & Real

The beauty about Twitter is that because it is in real time, it also can serve as a great tool for direct and prompt customer service. Just two days ago, the Hyatt hotel brand’s CEO, Mark Hoplamazian, announced the debut of a Twitter concierge service.

5.  Networking & Establishing

Think about it this way: PR PEOPLE = SOCIAL = TWITTER

It’s pretty simple: extroverted, social behaviour is a common trait between the two. Therefore, Twitter is the perfect place for public relations professionals to network with other PR pros, but also to establish themselves as experts in their field. This, however, doesn’t just apply to PR people it can apply to anyone who is driven, passionate and knowledgeable about what they do.

For example, every Monday night from 8-10 p.m. ET I participate in a TweetChat (a chat via Twitter) called @Journchat. Run by, @PRSarahEvans, it’s a weekly chat for communications peopole by communications people. The thing is, it doesn’t end there. There are thousands of other chats like this on Twitter, you just need to know where to look. (see #9)

6. I am human, I come in peace

Just like everything else on the Internet, there is an ample amount of bots and spammers alike. Twitter is no exception to this. Therefore, in order to make yourself legitimate, make sure you include your real name and a photo of yourself. (For your own personal safety, DO NOT post up your phone number, home address or personal email.)

Be creative and be unique. Your Twitter likeness doesn’t need to go overboard with a ton of colours and graphics, but it should reflect who you are and what you do.

For example (click images to see Twitter pages):

 mashabletwitterbckgmar09_small

sashahm_twitter_may09_small

Also, here are some specs to keep in mind, when making your custom background etc.

  • Try to make sure it is viewable on most resolutions. To do this:
  • …make your background 1925w x 1159 h in pixels, then
  • …on the left-hand side, make sure that your “me box” (as I like to call it) is no bigger than, 177 w x 535h

While, these may seem like strange measurements, they actually are rather simple and allow for almost every resolution to see your information.

What good is putting a whole lot of information out there, if it only gets cut off?

Stick to basics — Name, Blog and/or Website Link and a one sentence description. Think in terms of 140 characters.

7. Share! Share! Share!

While, we all want to get our messages out there, Twitter isn’t a repository for press releases.  Share pictures and links to information and items you find interesting as well as your own. Remember people — public relations is all about the LOVE. It’s a two-way communication street.  (Thank you professor Shipka!)

8. URL shortners

140 characters IS NOT a lot of space to communicate your ideas. And we’re PR people we like to talk. Most of the time, unlike our journalism counterparts, we can’t get our point across to you in less than 140 characters. But guess what? Twitter is going to make us do that.

Choose your words carefully and wisely.

  • Remember to leave at least 5-10 characters of free space, just in case someone else wants to RT your tweet or in case you wish to add a # to it.

Include links too, but get them shortened: Bit.ly or Tiny URL are great tools.

9. search.twitter.com

This is the official search for Twitter. It’s a great resource to find out if people are talking about you or the brands you represent as well as what they are saying.

After setting up a Twitter account, venture to the search tool to get a feel of what you need (or need not) do.

But remember, it is always important to be PRoactive, rather than reactive.

10. Applications to Manage

Right, so, you now have Twitter, you know how to search for your brand, and heck, you may have created more than one account, so now what?

You get an application to help you deal.

If you have FireFox — check out TwitterFox. If you have Adobe Air — try TweetDeck. Other popular management applications include Twhirl, TweetGrid and TweetChat.

Now get going! There is a whole new world of social media out there for you to explore!

 

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Sasha Muradali runs the ‘Little Pink Book’ . She holds a B.S. in Public Relations and an M.A. in International Administration.

Copyright © 2009 Sasha H. Muradali. All Rights Reserved.

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