Posted tagged ‘Social Media’

Giving a “Thumbs Up” to Wine

August 4, 2012

Do you or someone you know love wine? I was born and raised within 15 minutes of the Napa Valley so of course I have a soft spot for wine and the wine industry. But, just because I grew up in the region, doesn’t mean I’m a wine connoisseur.

When it comes to picking out wine, I need just as much help as the rest of you. I look at all the websites for reviews, but in reality (at least from what I’ve found) it’s all just jargon and industry speak. Here’s what I want: to find a bottle of wine, preferably inexpensive, that’s going to 1) taste good and 2) pair nicely with my meal.

Like me, are you tired of endless websites giving you “professional” wine reviews that quite frankly are just too boring and don’t reach you on a personal level? How come we can’t just find a couple of everyday guys who aren’t going to tell me what they think I want to hear, but instead, the wine I should buy that won’t cost me a whole week’s paycheck?

Well thankfully a website made just for you does exist. Let me introduce you to Joe and Matt of Thumbs Up Wine.

Here’s a quick introductory video:

Thumbs Up Wine provide tools including video reviews, a mobile app and more to help people find the best supermarket or warehouse wines. They make it simple for you, the everyday consumer. As their website says: “No one wants to know whether the wine has “notes of Cavaillon melon.” But everyone wants to know whether it will go with the steak/chicken/pasta that they’re having for dinner.” Does that sound like you? Well…it sounds like me, my friends and my family.

Furthermore, the guys on Thumbs Up Wine go out and taste the wines that you can actually find, tell you what’s good/what’s not, and actually make sense of it all. The site completely independent – they are not paid by, or affiliated with, any winery. Their mission is simple: to pair consumers with the best bottle of wine that you can find at your local grocery store, based explicitly on what you’re looking for.

As most you you already know, sometimes I don’t have the world’s greatest attention span. It’s because of this that I love their series of videos. On the site, you can find the good, the bad and the ugly.

Here’s a couple of quick examples of Thumbs Up reviews of a Fetzer Riesling 2010 and a Red Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon 2009:

 

 

They’ve already got more than 100 videos but I hear that they’ve got another 10 – 15 entertaining ones that will be released over the next few months. Can’t wait!

Did I mention they have a mobile app? Of course they do. Everyone does these days. But this one will really help you out when you’re looking for just the right bottle. Appropriately named “The WineFinder”, this app matches you with the best wines in the store you’re shopping in, based on the perimeters you’re looking for. Even better: it’s updated every week.

So, if you’re looking for that perfect bottle of wine tonight and don’t want to go through the hassle of reviewing boring website after boring website, be sure to check out Thumbs Up Wine. Down-to-Earth reviews made specifically for you. Who doesn’t want that?

Check them out on Facebook  and follow them on Twitter at @ThumbsUpWine for more information.

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4 Tips to Building a Better Relationship with the Media

September 26, 2011

Relationships are key in our daily lives. For those of us who have chosen PR as our career, building relationships with the media is our lifeblood. Positive inclusions in a newspaper, magazine or on a key industry blog can help put our clients name on the map, as well as increase their revenue. As PR professionals, it is our job to make this happen.

But, you need to understand that generating positive coverage for your client isn’t about blasting mass emails, press releases or untargeted pitches out aimlessly. In reality, most journalists will tell you that there is nothing more frustrating than finding their inboxes filled with irrelevant pitches from PR professionals. To avoid this, don’t repeatedly spam them with information they can’t use. You need to be a reference that they can come to for help and to make this happen, you need to build a strong, ongoing relationship.

Here are four tips from my experience in working with journalists that will help you to succeed in building a strong relationship with the media:

Be Sure You Understand Their Outlet

Before developing your pitch, you need to first understand the outlet you’re pitching. As I mentioned before, nothing can be more irritating to journalist than to receive off-base pitches while they are under the pressure of meeting a tight deadline. As PR professionals, we must understand each of the outlets that we work with, as well as how they are structured and their timelines for story development. Take the time necessary to familiarize yourself with the outlets and stories that your targeted journalist typically covers to ensure that your client is relevant. Fully understanding who and what they cover will go a long way towards building a long-term relationship.

Always Personalize Your Pitches

No one likes impersonal communication. Make sure that you take that extra couple of minutes with every encounter you have with them to personalize your interaction. I highly recommend that you read up on what the journalist has recently covered and incorporate this you’re your pitch or general follow up. Keeping your pitch personal will let the journalist know that you understand their coverage area and is key to building a relationship. Also, every interaction doesn’t need to be a pitch. I’ve found that just checking in with a journalist to let them know that they recently wrote an interesting article can be very beneficial in the relationship building process.

Don’t Bait and Switch

Journalists are always on deadline and they don’t have time to play games. If you pitch a story, or source, that they are interested in, be sure you can deliver. Nothing can sour a relationship with a journalist faster than failing to meet their expectations by promising an interview with your clients CEO and then having a marketing director on the call. The same goes for story pitching. If a journalist goes into a call expecting one thing, and you turn around and talk about something completely different, chances are you might not get a second opportunity with the journalist.

Saying Thank You Goes a Long Way

After a story featuring your client appears, don’t forget to say thank you. This doesn’t have to be a long-winded, gushing letter. It could be a sentence or two that lets the journalist know that you appreciate the time and effort he or she put into the piece. This simple act of appreciation can be the difference between continued coverage with a journalist or not. Whenever a journalist covers one of my clients, I always send a short note thanking them for their time and offering the client up as a source for future pieces. This shows appreciation for their hard work and I for one know that it’s nice to be acknowledged.  I’m sure they do too.

Those are a few recommendations that I have from my personal experience. Do you have any other tips that work for you? How do you build strong relationships with the media? Please leave your thoughts below.

Mexico News Editor Found Decapitated

September 26, 2011

The editor of a Mexican newspaper was found dead, her body decapitated and with a note next to it.

Earlier this month, attackers left ominous threats mentioning two social media websites on signs beside mutilated bodies in northern Mexico. This appears to be yet another threat to journalists and citizens in Mexico who are reporting on cartel activities on social networking sites.

From CNN:

Maria Elizabeth Macias Castro, 39, was the editor in chief of the newspaper, Primera Hora.

Her body was found Saturday morning, according to the attorney general’s office in the northern Tamaulipas state. A message “attributed to a criminal group” was found next to her, the office said.

“The state government expresses its deepest condolences to the relatives and loved ones affected by these lamentable acts,” the office said, adding that it is investigating.

Casey Anthony: Release Date This Weekend

July 15, 2011

As most of us already know, serving nearly three years in prison while awaiting trial, Casey Anthony will be released from prison this weekend. The exact timing when Anthony will be released hasn’t been made public as of yet.

Well…it’ll be interesting to see what happens next, that’s for sure!

From CNN:

The abrupt end to a criminal case that at times transfixed the nation resulted in anger and revulsion as well as donations of cash to her jailhouse account. It’s also led to speculation that the polarizing subject of the “I Hate Casey Anthony” Facebook page — and the source of ire for its more than 40,000 fans — might change her name and appearance and move someplace far away.

“If her attorneys are doing the right thing and are doing their jobs, they’re going to have to explain to her that there is real hatred out there for her, that there have been death threats, that she cannot just walk amongst the population,” HLN legal contributor Sunny Hostin said. “That is not just going to happen.”

Few details have been publicly released about how Anthony will be let out of the Orange County Jail, where she has been held since her arrest in October 2008.

Court officials have released limited information to reporters, mostly plans to bring three journalists inside a secure area of the jail sometime late Friday or early Saturday and cut them off from outside access while they wait for Anthony’s release.

Casey Anthony: Are We to Blame for the Not Guilty Verdict?

July 13, 2011

Very interesting piece on the website of the Orlando Sentinel today. I suggest clicking the link below for the full article.

It turns out that a consultant for the defense analyzed more than 40,000 highly-charged opinions, both negative and positive, that were found on social media sites and blogs, and used them to help the defense craft their trial strategy.

“A perfect example was Cindy Anthony. People hated her when she admitted to the chloroform searches, but there were many who said she lied out of motherly instinct. They felt a kinship, especially mothers. In closing, the defense softened its approach and said she lied to protect [Casey Anthony].”

From the Orlando Sentinel:

“When bloggers and others in social media sites started to attack George Anthony about his alleged mistress, the defense team beefed up their questions against him,” said Fort Lauderdale-based consultant Amy Singer. “None of the bloggers ever changed their minds about him.”

The innovative pro-bono tactic by Singer shows how social media sites like Facebook and Twitter could revolutionize the way lawyers defend their clients, especially in highly-publicized cases like the Casey Anthony murder trial.

“This is the first time I have heard of this kind of consulting for a trial and it’s incredible,” said Florida A&M University professor Shiv Persaud. “It definitely might become a part of my curriculum in trial practice. We could benefit from a new type of tool we didn’t have before.”

“I’ve spent 32 years listening to people’s reactions to trial stimulus, but it’s never been anything like this,” Singer said. “This whole case was driven by social media. We really tapped into people’s minds and I think it’s a tool that should be used by defense and prosecution.”

Casey Anthony: Be on the Lookout for Facebook Scam

July 12, 2011

Facebook users….beware!

A scam making the rounds right now claims that you can watch a secret video confession by Casey Anthony. Do not click on this!

From the Orlando Sentinel:

One of the most popular scams masquerades as a Facebook post urging the social media site’s nearly 700 million users to click on a link that plays a secret video confession by Casey Anthony, the 25-year-old acquitted July 5 in the first-degree murder of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee Marie.

Scam post message reads: “BREAKING NEWS – Leaked video of CASEY ANTHONY confessing to lawyers. Click To See – She can’t be re-tried, double jeopardy[sic]…OJ all over again!”

There is no video. There is no secret confession. However, scammers gain access to users’ Facebook walls, personal information, and share the viral scam using the unquestioned loyalty of their social media friends.

Can Justin Timberlake Bring Sexy Back to Myspace? Maybe…

July 1, 2011

Like most of us these days, I consider myself a member of Team Facebook. To be honest, the thought of Myspace still being around hadn’t even crossed my mind until it was announced this week that News Corp. had sold its struggling social network to Irvine-based Specific Media for $35 million. Obviously, this is a huge financial hit for News Corp. after paying $580 million for the social networking site back in 2005.

According to their press release, former N’Sync star Justin Timberlake will also take an ownership stake and play a major role in developing the creative direction and strategy for the company moving forward.  I have to imagine that it was Timberlake’s popularity, and his involvement in the music industry, that were the key draws to Specific Media. With Timberlake’s help, the new owners will look to rejuvenate MySpace and transform it into a destination for original shows, as well as bolster its already available video content and music.

So, does anybody else find it ironic that Timberlake starred as Facebook investor Sean Parker in the critically acclaimed Hollywood hit The Social Network last year? Equally as ironic is that Parker recently sat down with Jimmy Fallon at the NExTWORK Conference where he explained why Myspace surrendered to Facebook. You can read about it, and see video of the interview here.

Anyways, it’s hard to look back now and imagine that MySpace had been the most popular social network until it said “Bye, Bye, Bye” two years ago when it was passed in popularity by Facebook. But, according to comScore, the network still has approximately 35 million visitors in the United States per month, compared with more than 157 million for Facebook, and that’s still a decent user base to build on.

So the question remains: will Timberlake bring sexy back to Myspace or will he be left crying a river in the near future? In a statement, Timberlake stated: “There’s a need for a place where fans can go to interact with their favorite entertainers, listen to music, watch videos, share and discover cool stuff and just connect. Myspace has the potential to be that place.”

A USA Today article stated that Myspace Music has a catalog of 38 million songs and 700,000 musicians. That’s definitely a good start! I have to admit, the one aspect of Myspace that I enjoyed was how I was able to easily connect with bands on their site. Many of my favorite bands even ditched their traditional websites for Myspace pages.

Specific Media will also leverage the Myspace infrastructure to deploy socially-activated advertising campaigns, enabling brands to turn their campaigns viral by allowing users to share their favorite ads with friends. This isn’t surprising as Specific Media was founded back in 1999 to address the needs of the growing online advertising space. Over the past decade, the company has developed into one of the world’s largest online advertising companies, with capabilities spanning original programming, addressable advertising, and cross-media distribution.

But is Myspace still relevant and can Timberlake bring the star power needed to revive the struggling social network?

In an interview with AdAge, Specific Media CEO Tim Vanderhook stated that “The one thing we were looking for immediately was bringing Justin Timberlake in — we were looking for someone to drive creative strategy.” Vanderhook also noted that “Justin is a very busy person with many careers. He will have an office in MySpace, and he’ll have a team there. Probably not going to be there every day.”

His own office at Myspace’s Beverly Hills headquarters? Not bad…I hope his deal comes with “No Strings Attached”.

Specific Media and Timberlake are planning a press conference later this summer where they are expected to reveal their vision for Myspace. I’m sure at that time we’ll learn more about their future plans, but for now, I’m at least a little bit interested. I can’t say that I’ll go back and update my Myspace page right away (if I even still have one), but I won’t rule out the possibility.

With Facebook being the dominant social networking site today, do you expect to see users jumping ship? Will the addition of Justin Timberlake make you say “I Want You Back” to Myspace? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.