PR students on learning Twitter

I place a lot of emphasis on Twitter in my PR courses, but were not sure whether that was such a good idea – from their perspective. So I asked my PR students from the Spring 09 Stakeholder Communication class to respond anonymously to a survey about learning twitter. Their answers are below:

Do you believe it was beneficial for you to learn how to use Twitter? Please explain why or why not.

  • – Yes. Twitter is a good example of a social media tool and the only way to truly know about these tools is to use them. It was good for us to use because it was not too demanding, yet still allowed us to get a feel for how these different tools work.
  • – Yes I do. There are many social norms and things about twitter that I learned from this class and I think its great to show a potential employer that I understand those things. I also think it was great to teach us to be active when you get on twitter because its annoying if you just get on and don’t do anything with it!
  • – Yes. I think that we kind of “jumped onto something” much earlier than a lot of other people. I think it was beneficial because it helped us learn how news can spread really quickly and network with others.
  • – I do believe it was beneficial to learn twitter, especially since it has become so prevalent in today’s society. People ask me what Twitter is and it eels good to know that I can explain it to them because I learned it through class. It’s becoming more and more mainstream everyday and I’ve enjoyed learning how to use it.
  • – Yes. I liked that I already knew what Twitter was all about and how to use it before it became such a hot topic. Since I had already learned about the professional value of Twitter, it prevented me from getting caught up in the hype. I think this is allowing me to be a more constructive Twitter user.
  • – Yes. Not only is Twitter a necessary tool for PR practitioners, but it is becoming mainstream for all people involved in social media. Within a year or so Twitter may be the equivilent of Facebook, and it is important that PR students stay ahead of the trend.

Has Twitter helped you learn in any way? How has it helped (or not)?

  • – Yes it has helped me learn about social media. Basically the general rules of using o twitter are applicable to most social media tools. For example, you have to be consistent with using it- you can’t just create an account and then forget about it. You have to interact with people – not just broadcast random things. Twitter has a culture about it, just like other social media tools – and it is important to be able to tap into the culture of the various tools.
  • – It has helped me learn more about social interaction with PR people. I think urging us to get on to communicate and teaching us to tweet during class helped us learn it. Especially when you told us how to interact with professionals.
  • – yes. When we used it in 301, I thought it was kind of pointless, but I completely see how useful it has been in a PR class. You always have said that social media is becoming more and more important and it really is. You have showed us how jobs are hiring people to just do social media so I think that it has helped us learn to get to know other people and be less shy when it comes to networking and see how a problem can occur very quickly over Twitter, etc.
  • – Yes it has helped. It’s helped me become more comfortable with contacting people I don’t know, expressing myself, learning more about others, and become more connected.
  • – I like being able to connect with people from all over.
  • – Following the conversations of PR professionals has helped me get insight into what their world is like on a day to day basis. It also helped me to make a few connections for myself.

Do you feel you “get” Twitter? What about it do you (not) understand?

  • – I do feel that I get Twitter, but I feel that I am not using to my full capacity. I understand what is valued in the community, but I feel that I don’t always bring that value because I feel I don’t have the time to go out and find the interesting thought provoking news – I feel that I am on more of the receiving end of what’s going on – and that’s fine with me…
  • – I think I “semi” get twitter. I still don’t completely understand retweets and stuff like that. but I understand how to search for things from what you taught us.
  • – Yes very much so.
  • – I do “get” Twitter. I still have a lot to learn, and I need to become better about posting original thoughts and putting more depth into what I saw, but overall I do eel that I “get” it.
  • – It took a while, but I think I get it now. Sometime I think I get it too much because I get so frustrated with the whole fad aspect of it.
  • – I understand Twitter, but I feel like you have to almost become addicted to it to become a full-fledged user. You have to be constantly engaged with someone else in conversation and understand all of the lingo and special tools (i.e. RT, #) to use Twitter to its full potential. Sometimes its unnerving to try to start/join a conversation rather than just give updates on what you’re doing, which most people won’t reply to.

Aything else you’d like to tell me about Twitter in PR classes?

  • – Twitter is good for PR classes. Regardless of what people say. 🙂
  • – This was great for communication with you as well. I think it helped us be able to interact and I think its great to keep the lines of communication open with you!
  • – I like being able to Twitter about class…during class. It’s nice to be able to bounce ideas off of other classmates.
  • – I would recommend giving students a few contacts outside of the classroom to follow when starting. For instance, offer students the names of PRSSA mentors to follow first who can springboard them into conversations with other professionals.

What has your experience been learning or teaching Twitter?

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Two types of visibility

I just finished a webinar for PRWeb and talked about the research we did with SNCR about online news releases (pdf). I love Jiyan Wei (PRWeb product manager, he moderated the session) because he asks really good questions. One question he asked us today was to define visibility:

Everybody wants to gain visibility with news releases, but what is visibility?

I was lucky that Richard, my co-presented, was put on the spot first and I had a few seconds to think about this question 🙂

Here’s what I came up with, let me know if it makes sense to you:

I think about visibility as being of two types: push and pull, for lack of better terms.

Push visibility is the visibility you have when you “cut through the clutter” and your name (brand, product, etc.) makes headlines. People see it whether they want to or not. This is the type of visibility public relations and advertising have traditionally tried to achieve.

Pull visibility means being visibile and available when people need you and search for you. You might not be making headlines, but you are using the right keywords and showing up in relevant online searches. To use Richard’s company as an example, when people are looking for a Web development company in NY, Pillar should show up in the search results.

Traditionally, PR people have struggled to achieve push visibility, but given the changing landscape of media, of information availability, and information searching behaviors, for most of us, it is pull visibility that will make or break the bank.

In our survey results, people complained about not being able to cut through the clutter – not making headlines (i.e. not achieving push visibility). That’s OK. Not everybody can be in the headlines. As long as you are there for your audience when they need you, you’re OK.

What do you think? Does thinking about visibility in these terms help you?