Interviewer’s Note: I was excited to speak with FletcherPR to learn not only about how they use Twitter for their professional needs, but also to delve into how they manage social media for their clients. It’s always interesting what insights a perspective like that can share- indeed, Heather Ripley, the vice president of media relations and social media, described the company’s strategy with using individual employee accounts.
Hello Heather! Welcome to the Pluggio Blog! How do you describe your company?
FletcherPR is a national public relations firm based in Knoxville, Tennessee. We offer full-service, integrated marketing communications and strategic public relations. While we do some local and regional PR, we shine in differentiating our clients and garnering national media attention for them. We have local, regional, and national clients and we manage small- to large-scale media relations.
Any particular specialty or niche you tend to work with?
Our niche is in marketing to women, facilitating ways for companies to reach female consumers and engage with them across multiple platforms, including social media. Our diverse agency expertise also includes health care IT, technology, plumbing and HVAC home service, restaurants, medical practices, consumer product launches, crisis management and branding.
As an agency, we always strive to be the best. And because we’re committed to delivering the most impactful results for our clients, we hire the most creative, hard-working and competitive professionals to work with us.
How did you get started?
FletcherPR was founded in 2008 by home shopping executive, Kelly Fletcher. Kelly had spent most of her career marketing to women and found that most marketing/PR firms did not focus on the most powerful consumers on the planet – women.
What role does Twitter play in your business?
We have an agency Twitter handle (@kellyfletcherpr) and all agency employees have their own Twitter handles. We primarily use our agency Twitter handle to promote our blog (www.kellyfletcherpr.com/her-voice) where we talk about trends in marketing to women, case studies and hot topics in the industry.
And you use individual accounts for other purposes?
We use our personal Twitter handles to network and communicate with business owners, journalists and bloggers. We have successfully garnered major national media coverage for our clients using Twitter.
Twitter also plays an integral role in just about all of our communications plans for clients. We train our clients how to use Twitter and engage their customers and extend the reach of their marketing efforts. For some companies, it is also a great customer service tool
When you recommend Twitter to a client, what things need to be considered?
I think the most important part of executing any social media strategy is to make sure we have complete buy-in from the client. We manage the Twitter accounts for most of our clients. However, if the organization wants to manage it internally, we spend a lot of time discussing best practices which we study day in and day out, including the times of day to post to get the most visibility, how often you should post, what your posts should look like to get retweeted, how to use hashtags, and so on. If they don’t do all of these things correctly, our communications strategy won’t be as effective.
What impact or change have you seen due to Twitter/social marketing?
Well, I know this phrase is thrown around a lot, but citizen journalism is on the rise. Anyone, anywhere in the world, can easily talk about your brand, product or service to thousands of people at a time. They can talk about you whether or not you’re listening. Companies must keep up with technology and monitor what people are saying about their brand. And listening is a key component of any social media strategy.
Where does Twitter come in?
Twitter is an extremely powerful tool to measure brand awareness and reputation. The more we know about our clients’ customers and their perceptions, the easier it is to create an effective communications strategy and effect attitudinal change.
6,000 people following you- wow! How did you build your following? What kinds of people/businesses are they?
I tweet mostly about PR and social media case studies or hot topics in the industry. I also tweet about SEC football and random quotes that I find interesting. I follow people I’m interested in talking to, including other PR professionals around the world, people who live in my hometown and other sports fans. I’ve found that people follow me back because they find my tweets interesting, funny and engaging.
How will you choose who you will follow? What do you look for in a follower?
I like to engage in conversations and sometimes a direct message is more appropriate. For instance, if I’m pitching one of my client’s stories to a journalist via Twitter, I want to send them a direct message. I follow back most of the people or companies who follow me.
If you could go back to when you first began using social media, what is one thing you would have done differently?
The only thing I would have done differently is join Twitter earlier. I was a skeptic a few years ago and didn’t realize the potential Twitter had for businesses.
What does Twitter do for you that nothing else can do?
Twitter allows me to engage in real-time discussions and gain access to real-time news. It’s unlike anything else if you want to know what’s going on. For instance, in 2010, I was in Florida and was watching the Tennessee-Oregon football game on TV when they had a delay of game due to a severe thunderstorm. I watched the blank television screen for a few minutes wondering when the game was going to come back on. I decided to check Twitter to see what was going on. I saw pictures of the storm clouds from the stadium and people who were absolutely drenched in the stands. I learned the stadium had been evacuated and people were led to the arena across the street, and I found out the exact time the game would restart. It was almost like I was there. I found out all of this while the TV camera showed an empty stadium with the words “Lightning Delay” at the bottom of the screen.
What lessons have you learned about Twitter and online marketing?
Twitter is an excellent tool for building and maintaining a company’s online reputation. Where else can you go to learn what people are saying right now about your brand, product or service? Twitter can give your brand a personality, create engagement and instill confidence in your customers. The beauty of Twitter is it can be a great source of referral business for a company. If someone asks for a recommendation for a plumber and your business is named, that’s priceless. Right now, there’s nothing else like it.
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