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Going Hyperlocal: The New Role of Verizon's Kansas PR Manager

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Brenda Hill, Verizon Wireless PR manager for the Kansas/Missouri Region, gave this presentation at the November 10, 2010 Social Media Club Kansas City event about how Verizon has created a hyperlocal ...

Brenda Hill, Verizon Wireless PR manager for the Kansas/Missouri Region, gave this presentation at the November 10, 2010 Social Media Club Kansas City event about how Verizon has created a hyperlocal online presence in various markets to better connect with current and potential customers.

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  • Give brief company overview (when it started, what it’s grown to today, coverage data, device data, customer data, Kansas specific data). Shouldn’t be more than a two minute overview. Say when you joined the company and what position you started in (if different from today). Verizon Wireless operates the nation’s most reliable and largest wireless voice and 3G data network, serving more than 93 million customers. Headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with more than 79,000 employees nationwide, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE, NASDAQ: VZ) and Vodafone. Company was formed in 2000. In the past 10 years, Verizon Wireless has grown to be the largest wireless carriers in the U.S. The acquisition of Alltel in January 2009 significantly increased both our coverage area and number of customers in Kansas & Missouri (didn’t apply to Southern IL). Coverage today is virtually all of KS and MO with 3G. We just announced the rollout of 4G LTE in St. Louis and the KC and STL airports. More markets will follow. Network investment: [INSERT FIGURES] I joined VZW in October 2006 in a job share role for PR manager. Went full-time in February 2008. Have 20 years of experience in PR, both on agency and client sides of the business.
  • Explain what your primary job duties used to be, emphasizing that media relations was a huge part of your job when print was thriving. Mention that communication was primarily one way – Verizon PR reps shared company news with media, media broadcasted the news to the public. When I started in 2006, we didn’t have social media or bloggers or anyone other than traditional media on our radar. We also had the luxury of dedicated device reviewers and reporters who were dedicated experts in wireless technology. They were knowledgeable about our products and services and interested in what’s new. Print was still a big part of our media mix. All that starting changing very quickly, with the cutbacks and consolidations that have been happening in news organizations all over the United States within the past few years. Print, especially, shrank quickly and dedicated technology reporters found themselves downsized out of traditional media.
  • Explain what your primary job duties used to be, emphasizing that media relations was a huge part of your job when print was thriving. Mention that communication was primarily one way – Verizon PR reps shared company news with media, media broadcasted the news to the public. Like many in public relations, we continued doing things the way we’d done them for a long time, despite the trends. But then the trends accelerated. And not only was wireless getting to be more competitive than ever, at the same time, we were competing for a smaller and smaller “news hole.” We started noticing bloggers and they started noticing us. We knew about the existence of social media, but weren’t sure about how we could use it.
  • Media relations is still a big part of the job, but traditional media have shrunk. Many consumers go to blogs and Twitter to get their news. The rise of social media has opened up the gates for communication. It’s now two-way communication, discussions, dialogue. News no longer funnels from Verizon executives, to PR, to media, to public. PR managers now are communicating directly with current and potential customers. In 2010, for the first time, PR managers at Verizon Wireless are required to participate in social media. We have the opportunity to be guinea pigs and try out what works and what doesn’t, and we also have the tremendous opportunity to get the pulse of our customers. We also have an entirely new media audience, and new ways to communicate with them. Our smartphones enable our customers to use social media on the go. Now we are starting to keep up with them. In May/June 2010, we established the Twitter handle for the KS/MO Region: VZWBrenda. I had no idea what to tweet about, but I knew we could help promote the products and our events.
  • In the past, PR managers mostly heard directly from customers only when they had complaints that they weren’t able to resolved elsewhere. We were the people they contacted when they didn’t know who else to talk to. Now, customers follow not only Verizon Wireless, but they follow specific devices (such as the Droid), and even my specific Twitter handle for KS/MO. And they want us to know about their total experiences – not just the problems, but also likes, dislikes, unique applications, etc. And they want us to respond to them, in real time, with what’s happening. We don’t have to wait for a new cycle – we are creating our own news cycle.
  • Used to be that customer issues were funneled through a defined system (go to a store, call customer service, send an e-mail). If whoever you talked to couldn’t solve your problem they would put you in touch with whoever could). Certainly, we still have procedures for handling customer issues. And we have to be sensitive to customer confidentiality, especially in social media. But we now also have a new way to stay ahead of those issues and stay in touch with our customers. I find myself going to Twitter now to find out what’s going on with others, and to share what’s going on with us.
  • Customers can still turn to Verizon “owned” customer service touch points when you need help or have questions, but your options have expanded thanks to social media, particularly Twitter, and the hyperlocal online presence Verizon is establishing in various markets across the country.
  • Customers can still turn to Verizon “owned” customer service touch points when you need help or have questions, but your options have expanded thanks to social media, particularly Twitter, and the hyperlocal online presence Verizon is establishing in various markets across the country.
  • Verizon corporate has a strong presence on social networks, primarily on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. This is where you can find and connect with our national brand online to learn about company news, new products, new coverage areas, new company/organization parnterships, etc. Different social media sites for different business units (Residential, Wireless, Business and Corporate)
  • It’s important for Verizon to have a presence online from a national brand perspective, but region PR managers are using Twitter to create a hyperlocal presence for the brand in several markets across the country – including the Kansas/Missouri region, which I am in charge of.
  • It’s important for Verizon to have a presence online from a national brand perspective, but region PR managers are using Twitter to create a hyperlocal presence for the brand in several markets across the country – including the Kansas/Missouri region, which I am in charge of.
  • Review main goals of having a hyperlocal Twitter presence in Kansas. Touch on the fact that another main goal is to build relationships with local bloggers and members of social media/tech/mobile organizations. Bloggers now do device reviews. You also use Twitter to strengthen relationships with local media and to share stories about the brand in traditional local media outlets.
  • You still have all your other job responsibilities in addition to your efforts on Twitter. You are only one person, there are only so many hours in the day. You can’t catch every tweet from someone in Kansas who is unhappy, or every tweet from someone saying how much they love their phone. But your hyperlocal online efforts make the holes smaller. Customer service is an aspect of your Twitter efforts, but it’s not your main job. You may not be able to solve everyone’s problems or answer every question, but you sure can guide them to the answer.
  • You still have all your other job responsibilities in addition to your efforts on Twitter. You are only one person, there are only so many hours in the day. You can’t catch every tweet from someone in Kansas who is unhappy, or every tweet from someone saying how much they love their phone. But your hyperlocal online efforts make the holes smaller. Customer service is an aspect of your Twitter efforts, but it’s not your main job. You may not be able to solve everyone’s problems or answer every question, but you sure can guide them to the answer.
  • Listening to what is being said online about Verizon, its products and its service in the Kansas/Missouri Region is a huge part of our hyperlocal online effort. We monitor key words/phrases on Twitter related to the brand and specific devices. The agency you work with on social media strategies handles the listening effort because it’s tedious and time consuming. Stress that you do your own tweets – there is no ghost tweeting from your account. I manage all my own tweets. We don’t do any “ghost tweeting.” We want our Twitter interactions to be authentic. In my own experience, once I started Tweeting regularly, it got easier. Once simple way to get started is simply to observe what others are doing. This could be my peers within Verizon Wireless, as well as people in fields totally unrelated to mine.
  • Listening to what is being said online about Verizon, its products and its service in the Kansas/Missouri Region is a huge part of our hyperlocal online effort. We monitor key words/phrases on Twitter related to the brand and specific devices. The agency you work with on social media strategies handles the listening effort because it’s tedious and time consuming. Stress that you do your own tweets – there is no ghost tweeting from your account.
  • Even though you have support and buy-in from leadership in your region to spend efforts on Twitter, you still have to track and report your results/success. You received detailed Twitter reports from your agency at the end of every month that divide your tweets into six main categories. Calculate percentages and compare to your efforts the previous month to determine if you need to spend more time promoting/reaching out to brand promoters, or share more Kansas-specific Verizon news. You see exactly how many customers you helped – potential lost customers are turned into happy customers.
  • Here’s an example that I can take back to my boss and show how I’m providing value for the company in the Twitterverse. My efforts on Twitter are now part of my yearly performance reviews. We save screen shots of tweets like this, or tweets from someone who bought a product thanks to me reaching out to them, or a previously unhappy customer turned happy because I helped them solve their problem.
  • So, what’s next for the Twitter presence I’m working on building in the Kansas/Missouri region? Connect with more people, continue achieving goals and improving on Twitter efforts month after month, have Verizon have a presence at more local events, potential for deals/discounts shared only on Twitter for residents of Kansas/Missouri region, contests/giveaways specific to this region, etc.
  • Thank everyone for the attention and time. Tell them you’d want to know what they’d like to see result from Verizon’s Twitter efforts in Kansas. You welcome questions/comments/feedback today, or people can contact you on Twitter or via email. Let them know the presentation is available on SlideShare.

Going Hyperlocal: The New Role of Verizon's Kansas PR Manager Going Hyperlocal: The New Role of Verizon's Kansas PR Manager Presentation Transcript

  • Going Hyperlocal: The New Role of Verizon’s Kansas PR Manager
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/54031162@N00/3156373103/ Rule the air.
  • The role of a Verizon PR manager then
  • Tweetable takeaway: Before social media, #Verizon PR managers focused primarily on traditional media relations. #smckc
  • The role of a Verizon PR manager now
  • Tweetable takeaway: A new job function for many #Verizon PR managers is talking directly with customers via social networks like Twitter. #smckc
  • The old customer service system
  • The new customer touch point
  • Tweetable takeaway: #Verizon customers can still turn to company-owned channels with questions/feedback, but social media is a new option. #smckc
  • Verizon Corporate Social Networks http://www.verizon.com/socialmedia 11 Twitter Accounts 7 Facebook Pages 6 Blogs 3 Forums 1 Flickr Account 1 YouTube Account
  • Hyperlocal online presence
  • Tweetable takeaway: #Verizon has a national presence online, but creating a hyperlocal online presence in several markets has proven valuable. #smckc
  • Goals for Verizon’s Twitter efforts in Kansas/Missouri region:
    • Create relevant conversations
    • Reduce churn/turnover
    • Amplify brand promoters
    • Engage with brand detractors
    • Share news specific to local markets
    • Support online and retail sales
  • Making the holes smaller…
  • Tweetable takeaway: @VZWBrenda may not be able to catch every tweet in Kansas about #Verizon, but she makes the holes smaller. #smckc
  • Listening for keywords/phrases
  • Tweetable takeaway: Listening for keywords/phrases from Kansas tweeters is a big part of #Verizon’s hyperlocal online presence. #smckc
  • Detailed tracking and reporting of Twitter efforts are a must to prove results/success
  •  
  • What’s next for Verizon’s hyperlocal online presence in Kansas?
  • What’s important to YOU? Questions/comments/feedback welcome @VZWBrenda [email_address] Presentation available at: http://slidesha.re/VerizonSMCKC
  • Image credits
    • http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/23cb0c/
    • http://nycom.com/network.asp
    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/51035555243@N01/205664675/
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    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/95819651@N00/534155207/
    • http://www.peoriaaz.gov/newsroom.aspx?id=613
    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/23737778@N00/4813268991/in/photostream/
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    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/joelanman/367425390/sizes/l/in/photostream/