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Public Relations 101

Using Second Life, MySpace, and Google in your business


Gini Dietrich is president of
Arment Dietrich Public Relations in Chicago.
Gini can be reached at gini.
or 312-787-7249.

In my office I have several 20-somethings who grew up using computers and social networking sites every day. It’s been fun to watch them and to learn a thing or two about how “new media” works. I’d like to use this month’s article to teach you some of the things I’ve learned in the past year about using these networks to your advantage.

Second Life. Second Life is a virtual world. It’s a place for you to try new things, to have a different identity, and yes, even to make money. At first it seemed to be a place where you’d dabble or play after work and putting the kids to bed, but now people are making real money and launching brands.

I was on a plane last week and read an article in Spirit magazine about Starwood building their aloft brand on Second Life to allow avatars (that’s people in SL language) to test the brand before staying in the hotel in real life. Go here if you want to read the article: http://www.spiritmag.com/2007_04/features/ft2.php.

So it got me thinking. What if we launched hotels, restaurants, gyms, consumer packaged goods, or waterparks on Second Life first? Is it feasible to have focus groups and consumer advisory boards online? Can we get real guidance on what will work, and won’t work, in real life? Will it work as well as what we do in real life?

Stay tuned, because we have a client who is pretty savvy and is letting us try. We think it’s going to work—and work better than anything we’ve done in real life. In the meantime, check it out and see for yourself. It’s not as corny as it sounds.

MySpace. MySpace is the ultimate in social networking. It allows you to set up your own Web page and use it to attract friends. It’s had some ups and downs, such as early security issues. But now companies use it in marketing all the time because they can attract customers online more quickly than they can offline.

We tried it for a client—the Chicago Poker Open—to see what would happen. Not only did we amass 195 friends for the event nearly overnight, we had magazines such as Bluff and American Poker Alliance ask us if they could write a story about the event. We didn’t have to do any of the work! The event was the largest it’s been, raising 70 percent more money for the Boys & Girls Clubs than in previous years.

Check out the site at: www.myspace.com/chicagopokeropen.

Google. Everyone knows Google, right? Have you used it to get your Web site to the top of the list when someone searches in your area of expertise? If you don’t have someone who has created search engine optimization for your Web site, don’t fret! You can use AdWords to get your URL address to the top.

You can determine how much you want to spend each month. You also get to write your own ad. The ad should be something that differentiates you from everyone else so when a person types a search in to Google, they quickly find you. For instance, we want people looking for PR firms in Chicago to quickly find us. So our ad begins with “Chicago-based PR firm.” If you type in “PR firm + Chicago,” we come up first because of our listing in Crain’s Chicago Business.

You want to do the same thing: Figure out how you want people to find you and use those words to write your ad. Then determine how much you want to spend per month (we spend $100) and set your limit. Your account is charged every time someone clicks on your Web site from a Google search.

Check it out here: http://adwords.google.com.

Now you have three easy ways to spread news about your franchise. It doesn’t take long to set up and it works. So try it and see.

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