Once I left the world of news reporting for public relations, everyone wanted to know what I do now. Like many of my co-workers, I hemmed and hawed because, well, how do you go about summing up what we do in a few words?
My typical explanation is that I reach out to the press about various announcements for each of my clients and I do a lot with social media. With the typical conversation comes the inevitable and typical conversation:
"You mean like Twitter?”
“Yes, Twitter, Facebook, blogging…that sort of thing.”
“You get paid to tweet?”
Sigh. “Yes, I get paid to tweet.”
“Oh. I don’t get Twitter. I don’t want to know that someone I went to high school with is brushing their teeth.”
At this point, I usually let it go. It’s perfectly fair that they don’t want to know every detail of what their friends are doing – I certainly don’t want to know about my friends bathroom habits. But before I got into PR, there was something I found even more annoying than the daily, mundane updates of the people I followed: live tweeting.
As a journalist, I would live tweet when something exciting was happening (I once quoted a town councilor as saying he wanted to fire the superintendent of schools via the newspaper Twitter handle. It took up 30 minutes of conversation), but that was about it. I had friends in PR that were regularly live tweeting from work-related events.
I found this to be both annoying and presumptuous. Why on earth do my friends think I want to read about an event they are at for work? I unfollowed several people because of it. On the other hand, one of my friends live tweets about popular events and topics -- from Super Bowl commercials to the MTV Video Music Awards to World Wrestling Federation events. She even comes up with creative hashtags for her own events and vacations with her husband.
And she always does it right. As a matter of fact, she is part of the reason I went into PR in the first place. Through her example, I learned quite a bit about live tweeting best practices. Here are my top five tips for effective live tweeting:
Your Twitter following probably doesn’t want to have their feeds filled with every command your spin instructor barks at you, and, for the sake of national security, we would all ask that you don’t live tweet an insurgence operation. But Twitter is today’s soapbox, the place where everyone has a voice and everyone’s thoughts can be heard.
If, like me, you don’t want to hear everyone’s voice on subjects such as Occupy Boston and the most recent episode of Jersey Shore, or you simply can’t stand people’s potty mouths, you’ll want to get acquainted with your mute button. If you use Google Chrome, Proxlet is one way to do it. If you’re an iPhone user, Echofon has a very handy mute button, too.
Although many of our clients are wary of live tweeting, they’ve all grown to love the idea and frequently ask us to tweet their events. They’ve found that when their company tweets intelligently and thoughtfully, they gain followers and future customers because of their insight. When the proof is in the pudding, it really doesn’t get much better.