Saturday, October 29, 2011

Insiders Reveal Ocean City's Best Kept Secrets

The US city of Ocean City is a mid Atlantic seaside destination attracting millions of visitors each year.  But it is in competition with  holiday destinations like nearby Washington DC and Virginia Beach.

Consumers often turn to peer-to-peer advice to help plan their holidays and increasingly these conversations are happening through social media.  That's why the City's PR team has recruited online volunteer ambassadors to help promote Ocean City as a vacation spot.

20 Ocean City Insiders have been chosen to represent the area by spreading positive and valuable online information  to potential visitors. They offer travel advice, suggestions and answer questions on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and TripAdvisor, and through a special area on the municipal website.

So far results are impressive:
  • Insiders have provided over 8500 answers to questions posted to the Town website.
  • In four months there were 100,000 unique visits to Insiders sections of
  • There have been hundreds of thousands of impressions to ambassador-posted content.
City merchants support the program and hard working Ocean City tourist staff benefit from having additional online help, which means:
  • Less time spent answering questions.
  • Ensuring the accuracy of answers and reviews that other people post online.
  • Increasing search engine optimization for the City website.
  • Enhancing Ocean City’s online presence.
The program has the hallmarks of a great online campaign - positive user generated content, limited budget and authenticity.  Real people talking passionately about a place they love.

You can download helpful program resources at

Thursday, October 27, 2011

New PR Insights

Fellow PRSA member and CEO of Pure Performance Communications, Deirdre Breakenridge, is authoring her fifth book  titled “Social Media and Public Relations: Eight New Practices for the PR Professional.” 

The book is available in February 2012 and will be available through retail, in digital formats as well as via print on demand.

“Shifting your mindset to marry communications and technology is a critical first step and it’s at the heart of the PR expansion movement.  Adopting a new attitude naturally leads to expanding your focus and daily activities; several practices that were not a part of the PR person’s past responsibilities,” said Breakenridge.  

The book focuses on eight new practices for PR pros, as a result of social media including: 
  • The PR Policymaker.
  • Internal Collaboration Generator.
  • PR Technology Tester, Communications.
  • Process Originator.
  • The Pre-Crisis Doctor.
  • The Relationship Analyzer.
  • Reputation Task Force Member.
  • Master of the Metrics.
 Deirdre's books include “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations” and “PR 2.0, New Media, New Tools, New Audiences.”  Earlier works include The New PR Toolkit and Cyberbranding: Brand Building in the Digital Economy.  

Deirdre writes wirh uncommon wisdom so keep watch for her next book.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Disney Story Telling Secrets

Recently I heard the Creative Executive of the Disney Company,  Joe Rohde, talk about Disney's approach to turning raw ideas into  commercial success.

The Disney Company has built its success on storytelling to become one of the world's great brands. It uses compelling narratives in film, theme parks, resorts and other ways  to engage global audiences.  And, it has been doing this for generations.

Joe spoke about how Disney translates ideas into reality through themes.

A theme is a simple statement that distills the essence of an idea and infuses it with spirit and feeling. 
Similar to a brand statement but more than a mission statement or key message, a theme is the fundamental building block for the communications and business decisions surrounding a new project.

Once Disney selects a theme it cascades downwards to guide the design and shape of a  project. At a working level it gives Disney's people a framework to add, modify or reject suggestions.

Themes lead to stories.  And here Disney taps into the ancient art of story telling.

Stories help us make sense of the world around about us. They allow us to find the familiar patterns of life.  Joe is quick to add that stories- any story - needs fresh information or insights to keep our interest. 

The stories it selects (within a given theme) and the telling of them make Disney so successful, so different.  They inspire Disney staff to venture into new ways of thinking in pursuit of creative difference.

Disney is continually researching, seeking new information and challenging its people to enter new corridors of thinking rather than ambling down the predictable hallways of the mind. 

So is Disney approach to themes be relevant to you and me?

Perhaps it might encourage us to look for the themes that best sum up what we and companies do.  And to seek out the compelling stories that we can use to engage one another and the wider world.