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December 22, 2011

Oversharing is not honesty

Just today I came across Pamela Mayer's TED talk on How To Spot A Liar. Apart from taking away some interesting tips, this one quote made an impact on me- "Oversharing is not honesty".

I suppose each one of us has to deal with friends who overshare on social networks or may be we are one of those people who overshare but add this aspect to brand marketing on social networks and the picture isn't any different.

Some brands are downright annoying with auto news feeds crowding your stream/timeline. These can be updates from Twitter that are duplicated on Facebook (vice/versa), retweets/reshared material from other sources (usually big news items) that most of us have already read, frequent irrelevant updates etc. 

Social media has blessed humanity with its amazing function of bringing the world closer but at the same time it is notorious for making people believe that transparency=sharing+over sharing+manic sharing! There's information everywhere you look, endless loops of conversations that can make it impossible for a person to judge the intentions, the integrity behind words. As I have understood from Pamela Mayer's talk, this then means that we are adding to the lie, as honesty somehow does get lost behind this noisy information bombarded around every second.

Respectable businesses understand that honesty is indeed the best policy, so why not take this same approach online? 

If you google this simple question-"Why do people unlike brand pages?", you get taken to a bunch of articles all explaining the same issue i.e. "Frequent updates", "Irrelevant updates", "No updates"!  Search Engine Watch has some information from a DDB Paris and OpinionWay research carried out recently that provides a look at some of the reasons that drive fans to unfollow brands.

Social media is built on our need to relate as a collective. I personally think that overshared information somehow takes the seriousness away, the process starts to appear mechanical as opposed to emotional. I don't know how to judge the ethical values of a business that chooses to constantly throw information at me, it makes me feel as though I have no value as a consumer. If social engagement is the motive, I don't see that happening with oversharing.

Furthermore, another issue that pops out of oversharing is the one of auto feeds i.e. automation versus optimization. From looking at my Facebook stream, I've assumed most businesses post information that they probably don't even read. I stumbled upon this explanation by the brilliant Jure Klepic (@jkcallas) where in he highlights the process of optimizing auto posting. He stresses on the importance of using an application like BufferApp, where one can read the posts and then time them to be delivered for when the readers are most likely to be active thereby getting the greatest value from the content. 

May be this proves that social media cannot be taken lightly. You can't just hire a student to work part-time as your social media expert to populate your page, nor can you dump this activity in the hands of an outside agency and forget about it. Keeping a track of your progress is important from day 1 whether social media is practiced in-house or on contract. I always believe, what works for me in life is trial and error. It is definitely hard to find that balance between what will work for you and your fans but if done with honesty and sincerity, you will end up gaining some true supporters. 

Although the world will never be an ideal place, this rapid technological revolution needs support from a moral society. Building authentic relationships requires authentic transparency that comes from a place of honesty.

December 15, 2011

Importance of an online newsroom

Almost every PR professional knows the importance of content distribution and in a society accelerated forward via technology, reaching out to the journalists has become a lot simpler. Any business, whether small or large can benefit from the presence of a robust multi-channel content strategy. Online Newsrooms play an important role in not only increasing your brand’s search value but also provide a direct connection between the media and you.

What is an online newsroom?

Image via 
It is an online media repository that contains all the information journalists require when they work on a story. This information includes a company profile, executive bios, press releases, latest news, multi-media and contact information. What used to constitute the paper press kits has now been replaced by resources in the online newsroom. By narrowing down the time spent by journalist to receive desired information and ensuring quick follow ups, online newsrooms are a cost-effective way for businesses to make information available 24/7. Prospective customers, potential investors, employees, can all benefit from this same information. Online newsrooms have also become centre points for corporate crisis management. (Example: Toyota via

Important elements of an online newsroom

  • ·      Company profile
  • ·      Executive bios
  • ·      Direct contact details (Good to include contacts based on expertise as well)
  • ·      Press releases in a chronological order
  • ·      Links to recent articles published by media
  • ·      Frequently Asked Questions
  • ·      Search feature (Media specific)
  • ·      Financial information that could interest stakeholders, investors.
  • ·      If resources permit, handle real-time enquiries via iChat
  • ·      Upcoming events, calendar
  • ·      Awards won
  • ·      Charity/Corporate Responsibility/Sustainability ventures
  • ·      Links to social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn)
  • ·      White-papers, presentations, company blog
  • ·      RSS
  • ·      High resolution images that can be downloaded
  • ·      Multimedia like YouTube/Flickr, Podcasts
  • ·      Twitter/Facebook integration to display latest social media feeds

Best practices for an online newsroom

Search Engine Optimised content

Content within an online newsroom must be search engine optimised. If a journalist types in your ‘brand name’ followed by ‘news’, they should be able to access pages from your newsroom. Rely on keyword tools and closely monitor your analytics to produce search engine optimised content.


Prominent links to the corporate newsroom must be placed on the brand website.

Complicated newsroom architecture should be avoided. The most common issue journalists face is when the PR contact cannot be found. An online newsroom should be user-friendly.

Newsrooms should have a simple, easy to recall URL. Example:;; etc.


Really Simple Syndication- Ensure your online newsroom is RSS enabled. It is a well-known fact that people prefer to subscribe to your RSS feed than email.

Content should be easily sharable across all social networks.

Apart from being an information portal, online newsrooms do alternate as a soft-selling medium but cannot be considered as a replacement for hardcore public relations. There are plenty free and paid tools available online that can make your task of managing an online newsroom fairly simple. For small businesses, online newsrooms are definitely cost-effective, these pages don’t need to be glamorous, all they need is the right content. In return, investment of resources in an online newsroom also ensures the expansion of your online presence.

Lastly, don’t forget to UPDATE!

Few of my favourite newsrooms are:

Intel -This is one of the best ones out there. Being a massive brand, they have a ton of information to offer yet everything is easily accessible.

Starbucks -Simple layout with a couple links to their communities. Starbucks' online newsroom just like Intel's caters not only to the media but the customers too.

H&M -H&M has a newsroom that is quite different. I like the innovative social media newsroom feature. Their investor relations page is quite in-depth featuring a five-year summary. Great example of how they are balancing the profession and fun-social side at the same time.