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Creative and strategic PR, social media, other digital things, events, video, content optimization. Guided by analytics. Usually way more effective by lots of different measures.


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5 Takes on the Future of Content Marketing

Atomic’s VP of Digital, Shannon Coulter, was recently asked to speak on a panel hosted by Vidcaster about the future of content marketing. She shares her experience as a content marketer for a solar startup company competing in the super aggressive clean energy space. Shannon assures us that spending money on good content can be the difference between ranking first on Google or not at all.

Click through to hear her story along with the perspective of 4 other industry leaders.

Atomic Opens Seattle Office

Atomic has opened an office in Seattle led by SVP Nick Olsson - Read more here:

Bulldog recognizes breakthrough Atomic campaign – The one man town of Buford and the power of real estate auction

The one man town of Buford, Wyoming provided the inspiration for a campaign, orchestrated by Atomic, to raise awareness of the benefits of real estate auctions for client Williams & Williams. The campaign produced more than 1,700 media hits from top tier, regional and broadcast outlets including Associated Press, BusinessWeek, NBC Nightly News, CNN, MarketWatch, MSN, NPR, TIME, USA Today and Yahoo! News. 

You can read more here:

Atomic wins Twitter based review for Aloft Hotels.  btw, Atomic’s Spirit Animal is television’s Patrick Duffy.

Why the future of PR looks like the movie Blade Runner

By Andy Getsey

There’s always a lot of discussion about how traditional media will be replaced by digital and social media, how journalist produced content will be replaced by branded and citizen produced content, how PR people will be replaced by some other thing.  Much of the discussion makes it sound like a switch will be flipped, and suddenly the whole landscape and everyone in it will be these brand new alternative things.

The evolution of science fiction tells us that this idea is wrong.

The future of PR and advertising is and will actually be more like the future portrayed in the movie BladeRunner.  I said so as a panelist last week at PRSA Silicon Valley’s meeting on #thefutureofPR. Thanks to all the folks who re-tweeted my comment. 

Here’s why it’s true.  This is a bit of a generalization and I chose BladeRunner as a super mainstream film example.  Others saw something similar – but didn’t mainstream it so hard.  The idea still works. 

Before BladeRunner, most sci–fi movies (like Dune or Logan’s Run as popular examples) portrayed the future as all tall crystalline towers, airlocks and Jetson–style flying cars, telepathy, ray guns and all sorts of other fantastical things. More often than not, inexplicably, people in the future wore togas back then.  WTF? 

Beginning sometime before the release of BladeRunner, the future started being portrayed as a mashup.  Some buildings are state of the art, modern fortresses of ultracool design. Next door might be old buildings from year 2000; run down. Some communications are completely corporately sponsored, others are renegade. Some media are super modern, but there are also billboards and blimps.  Some people are super modern, with bio enhancements, cool weapons and outlandishly modern hair and fashions.  Some are regular people with regular weapons. Others are poor, beaten down, old–fashioned people wearing a variety of raggedy clothes that could be from any era where poor people wore raggedy clothes, and really crappy weapons. 

The future of PR is turning out to be more like BladeRunner than Logan’s Run.  It’s also turning out to be a lot like the adoption curve of radio, TV, email, social networks, etc.  They’re all still here – none have totally replaced the other yet.  Each still has their place. But some are ascending in importance; others are receding.

Some agencies and clients have great tech; some don’t. Some clients care, others don’t care as much - yet. 

It’s just like that with people.  Some are super quants.  Some are social media mavens.  Some are trans-media story tellers.  Some are awesome with bloggers. Some are super good at getting on TV and into the New York Times.   Some are good with everything.  There’s no complete switchover yet.  It’s a mix.  And most kinds of people still have their place. 

But ultimately, in movies and in life - awesome humans with amazing multi-situational skills and advanced weapons are the ones who usually make it into the sequels.

Agree? Disagree?  Message me @andygetsey, or email me: andy(at)atomicpr(dot)com.

Also, if you’re interested in being in the sequel – we’re hiring :-)

Skills future PR people will need

By Andy Getsey
Co-founder, Atomic
Feb 7, 2013

I was invited to talk at  a round table discussion last night about the Future of PR sponsored by PRSA Silicon Valley.  The panel was moderated by Steve Barrett, Editor in Chief of PR Week and included David Swain, director of technology comms for Facebook, Kelly MCGinnis, VP comms for Dell, Burghardt Tendrich, formerly Text 100 and Bite, now associate professor at USC’s Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism.  And me. Here’s a mashup of my thoughts, and those of the panel and audience - about the critical skills PR practitioners need to acquire as the field advances.

Excellent writing and storytelling skills.  More than ever, good thinking, writing and storytelling skills are critical.  Brands are now self-publishing all sorts of content, the journalistic media world is more hard pressed for time and bandwidth, and these core professional communications skills are getting more important.  Still, many people in the audience feel that people with these critical talents are harder to find than ever.

A healthy understanding of how powerful “traditional” media really are, still.  It’s popular among many of the digerati, as well as many social marketers (both groups to which I belong) to propel the idea that traditional media don’t matter any more (a myth I don’t support).  Our agency has monitored and analyzed every campaign we’ve ever done over a twelve year period, and I can tell you that we have never had even one single instance where a client’s web site has crashed because of traffic generated exclusively from online buzz.  We have dozens and dozens of client sites crash from traffic generated by exposure in traditional media.  Sure, their business models are under siege in many cases, but their ability to deliver massive audiences and persuasive impact is still real.

Transmedia skills.  People with bright intellect, solid experience, good writing skills, and solid media expertise are always in demand. Add social media, SEO, graphic design, video production, event production and other skills and you are going to another level.  If you know how to tell stories and engage audiences in various ways, written, visual, experiential, through search returns, media, social etc, you can write your own ticket.  Since the lines between PR and advertising are blurring a bit at the edges – a stint working at an ad or digital agency wouldn’t hurt you either. 

Branding expertise.  Most of us in PR feel we understand branding, but it’s actually a bit more of a formal discipline than many PR people like to think.  Future PR pros will be wise to have some formal education in branding.  A good way to get it, especially for students, is to take courses and intern at a pure branding consultancy.  For others, there are a number of great books, books on tape and videos about what a brand is and how brands are managed.  PR work gets better when it’s informed with a knowledge of the principles of branding that CMOs work with every day.  Lack of real understanding shows.

Business savvi-ness.  As communicators, we’d all like a place at the table in the C-suite.  But business is the language of the C-suite, and we need to understand business in general, the specifics of the client or employer business at hand, and specifically how various communications strategies, programs or events might or will impact the business itself. We need to be able to counsel C-level execs at this level to provide real value at the table.  Too many practitioners lead with pure PR- or publicity-driven thinking.  Business education or hands-on management experience is usually what it takes to build the knowledge needed to succeed at the table with the C-people.

Sophisticated knowledge of and application of analytics for planning, consulting and program measurement.  Most of the conversation about analytics in our industry is about reporting in order to defend the value of programs. Or it’s about listening in on social conversations. That same basic focus was in effect at the PRSA event.  There is actually so much more value in applying analytics to forward strategy and planning, in addition to simple listening and reporting.  With the volume of noise and data increasing dramatically across all channels, practitioners can elevate their skills considerably by becoming educated in a variety of communications analytics, statistical principles, and especially how to apply analytics and insights to strategy and planning.  Don’t just justify to senior execs – lead!

Aggressive curiosity.  The industry is changing so fast that we will all do ourselves a big favor by being boundlessly curious, and stretching beyond what we know to acquire broader knowledge, more skills and a wider network. Don’t settle into a groove.

Is the future easier for PR professionals?  I’m afraid the answer is no.  the present and future are becoming more complicated and demanding.  But as a PR professional that started in the industry just as the landscape and dynamics got way more complicated, I can tell you that for those that possess innate curiosity, drive, the willingness to master new skills and adopt new perspectives as the industry evolves, PR and social media offer an incredibly interesting and rewarding career.

What do you think? Ping me at andy(at), or @andygetsey on Twitter.

National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Selects Atomic for 75th Anniversary of March Madness Campaign

PR Week announced this week that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has hired Atomic to develop a campaign that will help the players, the teams and of course, the fans, celebrate 75 years of March Madness.

“We see it as an amazing opportunity to expand March Madness beyond just the people who know the tournament,” said Libby Langsdorf, VP and MD of Atomic’s New York office.

Atomic will “help consumers and the general public see all of the work that the NCAA does in communities, schools, and with players and coaches throughout the year that culminates in the March Madness tournament,” said Langsdorf.

In a statement, NCAA representatives said Atomic was hired to “leverage its creativity, media relations, social expertise and clever use of analytics to get the most out of” the campaign.

The campaign will start now and last through the 2013 Final Four next April. Atomic will handle media relations to sports, business, trade and consumer lifestyle outlets.

New in Social: Facebook Stories and Reblorg!

A few weeks ago, Facebook launched its most recent project, Facebook Stories, which draws from the experiences of everyday users to populate an online magazine at Each month, the social platform chooses a particular theme and invites the public to submit personal stories related to it. The best stories are showcased on the site and accompanied by an infographic relevant to the theme. August’s topic is “remembering.”


Hot on the trail of Facebook, Tumblr just announced the launch of its latest endeavor, Reblorg. The page has a whole different flavor, complete with off-beat .gifs, videos and images. In order to land a spot on Reblorg, users must submit brand new, original work. So far, there are flying hotdogs, epic Devo/Karate Kid collages and plenty of cheeseburgers.


Both sites take advantage of the cool stuff people generate in their day-to-day lives and how social media makes this creation possible and shareable. And, of course, both sites stand to gain from doing so. For starters, Facebook is looking to soften its image in the public eye after getting flack for being loosey-goosey with members’ privacy settings. On the flipside, Tumblr is battling the perception that many of its users don’t produce original content.

I like the idea of Facebook showing a fuller picture of how its platform can serve users in more meaningful ways than alerting people of their friends’ status updates. If Facebook Stories takes off, it could establish the social network as a global publisher that gives a voice to people from across the world. Of the two, I’m actually more excited about Reblorg. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, it’s easy to get involved with and it’s a total free-for-all. Sounds like ideal conditions for some pretty kooky creations. 

Digg Is Back—Should You Forgive It?

I remember attending a Digg Nation with my ex girlfriend – girlfriend at the time – about three years ago and seeing the absolute pandemonium in the crowd. Fast forward to about a month ago, and it was amazing to see the snickering and mocking taking place when it was announced that Digg was being sold for much, much, MUCH less than what it was once valued at. People had been so turned off by version 4.0, that the site nearly died.

But Digg is back. And it’s got some interesting ideas. Before they re-launched, they solicited feedback from users and one simply said, “build something awesome, the internet is rooting for you.” (Source: The Verge)

Betaworks, the company that bought and re-launched Digg is calling it v1 and it is entirely built on new code. So much is new that they didn’t have time to put  in a commenting system!

But there’s still a lot to admire. It’s a lot more image heavy and there is an editorial staff helping to curate stories. And for the time being—no ads, no sponsored posts, etc.

The redesign looks very modern and similar to a lot of popular news reading sites. Their iPhone app also allows you to save stories to read later (like when you’re underground and can’t access your 3G/4G).

Apparently, reviews are mixed amongst users—except online marketers and spammers who hate it. Which, honestly, has to be a good thing. (Source: The Verge)

I decided to sign up for the daily email that will send me top Digg stories since I can’t seem to find an RSS feed. And their Twitter handle doesn’t tweet every story on there. (I know—I’m old school in that I rely on Google Reader so much.) Time will tell if I’ll revisit the site often and since I have plenty to do on my morning commute, I didn’t download the iPhone app.

But has anyone else tried out the new Digg yet? If so… leave your thoughts below in the comments. (Because at least we’ve got a commenting system.)

What PR Professionals Can Take Away from the AP’s New Social Media Guidelines

by Alan Danzis

When starting at a new company, it’s becoming increasingly common practice for employees to agree to and sign a set of social media guidelines—especially at PR firms and media companies. Social media remains a critical communications tool for both groups, but as the line between professional and personal continues to blur, these guidelines must continue to be refreshed.

The Associated Press revised their social media guidelines today. Below are some of the more interesting parts of their guidelines and how that policy, if implemented similarly at PR firms could and would impact employees’ social media lives.

“We recommend having one account per network that you use both personally and professionally.”

While it’s not a policy I personally follow, it’s one I respect. If PR professionals choose to not go this route, they must make sure they use the hashtag #client whenever talking about a client—and they should try to avoid only talking about clients, unless they’ve got that separate professional Twitter account.

A retweet with no comment of your own can easily be seen as a sign of approval of what you’re relaying. However, we can judiciously retweet opinionated material if we make clear we’re simply reporting it, much as we would quote in a story.”

“It is acceptable to extend and accept Facebook friend requests from sources, politicians and newsmakers if necessary for reporting purposes and to follow them on Twitter. However, friending and “liking” political candidates or causes  may created perception among people unfamiliar with the protocol of social networks that AP staffers are advocates. Therefore, staffers should try to make this kind of contact with figures on both sides of controversial issues.”

This is something PR professionals have to contend with on a regular basis. In competitive monitoring for our clients, it’s extraordinarily important we see what they’re doing on social media. On Facebook, for instance, we have to like the page of our competitors in order to get the regular updates. But isn’t a like an automatic implied acknowledge of our feelings towards that brand to all our friends? While it’s unlikely that most would care, a reporter who I’m Facebook friends with could leave a snarky comment when he sees, for example, I liked Panasonic, even though I work on Samsung. Where possible, it’s probably best to hide/delete those kinds of updates where possible from our timeline and avoid calling attention to them.

“AP managers should not issue friend requests to subordinates. It’s fine if employees want to initiate the friend process with their bosses or other managers.”

This is a sticky issue to be sure. I’ve both friended my bosses in the past and had them do it vice versa. I’ve never truly had an issue with it, but have encountered many colleagues that do. This is a smart policy for the AP, and similarly should be recommended for PR professionals and reporters. While I’m Facebook friends with a number of reporters, I for the most part did not initiate the process—they did. This does not need to apply to Twitter, however, since that’s an important tool for monitoring what reporters cover on a regular basis and it’s something they expect.

“Be mindful of competitive and corporate issues as you post links; we compete vigorously with other news organizations…”

Also good policy for PR professionals. Don’t comment on competitors in public—either positively or negatively.

“You must never simply lift quotes, photos or video from social networking sites and attribute them to the name on the profile or feed where you found the material. Most social media sites offer a way to send a message to a user; use this to establish direct contact, over email or by phone, so you can get more detailed information about the source … Twitter’s verification process has been fooled, meaning we should still do our own checking with the newsmaker. The same goes for verified Google Plus pages…”

Good to know that the AP is instituting this policy, as it relates to company spokespeople. Still a good idea to make sure all spokespeople know to watch what they say on social media, since not every media outlet will have the same policy.

“If you believe a tweet should be deleted, contact a Nerve Center manager to discuss the situation.”

Smart move since even after you delete a tweet, you can’t stop all the RTs. Just as important as the deletion is the apology, and that’s something companies don’t often think through in the rush to delete something offensive or troubling, as was seen with this Aurora related-tweet on Friday.

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