Interviewer’s Note: One thing I love about social media is that it does a lot to equalize the impact that a big business and a small business can have. I don’t feel it diminishes the power of a big company, but rather, it increases the power and reach for smaller companies, even for a one-man company. And increasingly, Twitter, blogs and other social media are giving rise to niches that were previously ignored or marginalized by larger entites.
On that note, today’s interview is with Patricia La Bella, a journalist who covers local events in Orange County, California. She has established her niche in the region, and attributes some of her success to social media.
Hello Patricia, welcome to the Pluggio Blog! How do you describe your work? I see you’re a writer- what kind of writing do you do?
I have been in the Marketing and Communication field for over 10 years. Currently, I work as a Marketing Copywriter and Social Media Coordinator for an international corporation. I also write for Examiner.com, covering Orange County High School Sports, Music, and Gaming.
How did you get started as a journalist?
I’ve been writing since I was a kid. By the time I was a junior in high school, I was editor of my high school paper. I was a Communications major in college. Then I joined the military where I was lucky enough to continue my writing in various capacities.
What role does Twitter play in your work?
Twitter is an invaluable marketing tool. I use it to attract readers to my columns and that of other writers. If I see something I think may be of interest to my followers, I’ll direct them to it through Twitter. I advertise all my writings, e-books, merchandise, and other viable information via Twitter.
What’s it like covering regional news? I imagine it’s fairly close knit, and you get a real sense of community.
It is and it isn’t. Sometimes it can be very cliquish, especially when dealing with high school sports. For the most part, people keep the idea of prep sports in perspective. However, there are those who take it far too seriously. I think we’ve all had negative experiences with the puffed-up coach or the fanatical parent in the stands. If nothing else, it’s interesting.
I try to keep a positive spin on everything I write and tweet, reminding myself that I’m here to provide a service and hopefully be somewhat entertaining.
In writing regional stories, I imagine you must cover a lot of stuff that other journalists don’t cover.
Yes, I think I’ve created a niche, in writing about certain sports which other news outlets tend to ignore or just don’t have the manpower to cover. For example, skateboarding, BMX, and surfing don’t get the kind of coverage of football, baseball, and basketball. The action sports community is really open and generous to any kind of press.
Are there any of your accomplishments with social marketing that you are particularly proud of?
I published an e-book last December called “Orange County High School Sports Interviews of 2011”, featuring stories and interviews I did with local professional athletes. I sat on it for a few weeks, doing very little online marketing – selling only to friends and family.
Then, I dropped the price down and did a huge online media push, using all my resources including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. In a month’s time I increased my sales by 300%. For a little-known e-book, I thought that was a big deal.
Wow, that’s very cool!
I have another e-book I’ll be releasing soon, and plan on doing a more online promotional experimenting. We’ll see how that goes.
I’d like to hear about that when you do it; maybe we can do a follow up and see how you’ve applied lessons learned to it. So how did you build your following? What kinds of people/businesses are they?
In my corporate environment, it is very select. We use tools such as Hootsuit and Wildfire to track and target certain demographics. My Examiner and personal Twitter sites are less scientific and are made up of professionals and fans of music, sports, and pop-culture. I’ve built a strong international sports following because I tweet not just about prep sports but anything from Beach Volleyball to World Rugby. Love of sports is truly an international language.
How will you choose who you will follow? What do you look for in a follower?
I always look at their Twitter profile and scan their timelines. If someone is using Twitter as a forum to spout negatives or to divide, I won’t follow back. I’m not against that and I think Twitter is a great platform for all voices. However, keeping a thread of positives and goodwill in the tweets is very important in what I’m disseminating and receiving.
If you could go back to when you first began using social media, what is one thing you would have done differently?
I wouldn’t have come into it with such a competitive mindset.
What do you mean?
Coming from a marketing background, I sometimes think I have to be at odds with the competition. There is a place for that, but I don’t think Social Media is that place.
Do you see it as more of a friendly atmosphere, less cut-throat?
Social Media is not about spin, it’s about authenticity.
I see what you mean- if you’re being authentic, you don’t really have competition from other “you’s” out there.
I wish I had learned the method I use now, which is a switching from the competitive mind to the creative mind. Social Media is truly a network and a community. We share information freely. Share what you know and if you don’t know something, ask your social network. The good ones will share with you and share you to others. That’s what I love about Social Media – There’s room for everyone! I think small businesses are more open to this than large corporations.
It truly levels the playing field, doesn’t it? What does Twitter do for you that nothing else can do?
Before Twitter, the only way I could have generated interest in my work was to either pay for advertising or beg a media outlet for some press. Twitter gives me the resource and control to market just about anything.
If I publish an e-book, I tweet about it and where to buy it. As soon as I post an article, I tweet the link. If I’m selling something cool on ebay, I tweet about it. That’s free advertising!
What lessons have you learned about Twitter and online marketing?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that you have to be open to change.
Online marketing changes every day- you can’t be stuck on one way of doing something. I think this is where Generation Y is getting it right. The 12 to 30-year olds are the No. 1 users of social media. They’ve shaped it and we need to watch how they’re using it. We need to follow their lead and build on it.
Online Marketing and Social Media can teach you something new every day if you’re open to it. There’s an old saying, “If you live in the past, you’ll die in the present.” That holds true for many things, and Twitter and online marketing is no exception.
Do you use social media in a unique way for your work, career, or industry? If so, would you like to be featured in one of our interviews? Email us and tell us what do you.
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