marcus harvey at AM:PM PR speakeasy

Beyond Pavlovian Behaviors: Social media Owns You

What if you spent hours, days, weeks, months curating a perfectly branded social media profile, and one day it just disappeared with no explanation?

That was an intriguing story shared earlier this month at our Speakeasy event with Portland entrepreneur Marcus Harvey.

You may recognize Harvey as the successful entrepreneur behind Portland Gear and Creative|35 and curator of the @Portland Instagram handle. His fascinating story was first reported in detail at The Oregonian and the article inspired us to invite him in for the Speakeasy event.

marcus harvey at AM:PM PR's Speakeasy

Weeks after the event our team found we were still discussing the one story he shared that wasn’t an example of his remarkable success – his acquisition of the @LasVegas Instagram handle.

Harvey said that he followed the same strategy curating the Las Vegas account that he did in growing the @Portland handle (now with 102k followers). Once he identified and acquired @LasVegas, he began a regimented effort populating the account with carefully curated, branded content – exactly as he’d done with the Portland account.

Then one day he woke up and the @LasVegas account was gone.

He tried contacting customer service at Instagram, of which there is none. After various creative attempts to reclaim the account, including the use of an attorney, he gave up and resigned himself to the reality that @LasVegas was gone. He still doesn’t know exactly what happened, but surmised that it may have resulted from his effort to operate the account from a Portland IP address.

Regardless, it was a startling reminder that when it comes to social media, as professional content curators, we own nothing.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – all of them. They brought our social profiles into this world, and they can take us out of it.

Have you, dear reader, had any similar experiences with social media?


New Data Demonstrates Teens Not Abandoning Facebook

The following article, found at was too grand not to share with the AM:PM PR audience. It shows that despite the preponderance of teen ire directed at the platform, “teens not abandoning Facebook.” Facebook hasn’t lost favor with our most emotionally maligned members of society. In fact, teen usage is up. For more read below or visit:

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There have been innumerable posts and articles about how Facebook is no longer “cool,” or as important to teens as it once was.

Frustratingly, however, much of the speculation I’ve seen regarding this has been based either upon anecdotal evidence, or upon research that isn’t projectable to the population of teen Facebook users.

So, I decided to take a look at some hard facts. According to our most recent public data release (The Infinite Dial 2014), Facebook is currently used by nearly 80% of Americans 12-17 and 18-24. In fact, articles that trumpet Facebook’s lack of growth with these demographics are missing the point—Facebook is nearing its practical limit with young Americans.

Figure 1 New Data Demonstrates Teens are Not Abandoning Facebook

Now, it may or may not be true that Facebook is no longer “cool” with teens (a question Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t appear to be the least concerned about, by the way). I would submit that this is the wrong question. Think about the other services and mobile apps that teens and young adults use—how do you think they are logging in to them? Facebook’s “helpful” management of our identities for services like Instagram ensures that for millions of people, Facebook is the plumbing for the Internet. And while there may indeed be teens quitting the service, every minute someone new turns 13 and signs up for an account.

A Facebook account is the new driver’s license. Getting one isn’t cool—it’s what you can do with it that is.

Those who believe teens are leaving Facebook in droves should also consider this stat—the average number of Facebook friends per demographic:

Figure 2 New Data Demonstrates Teens are Not Abandoning Facebook

So, to be clear, when we say that teens are abandoning Facebook, we are saying that they are willing to leave behind a network that averages 500-600 people, with no easy way to replicate it elsewhere. Cool? No. Plumbing? Yes.

Finally, it may in fact be a valid observation that teens are using the service less. But here is what I can show you—we asked Americans 12+ who have a profile on Facebook how many times in the last 24 hours they checked their Facebook page (either via desktop or mobile.) Here’s what they told us.

Figure 3 New Data Demonstrates Teens are Not Abandoning Facebook

What this graph tells us is that teens on Facebook check their accounts an average of eight times per day. Is this a lot? Well, I can tell you that when we asked this question in 2012, the average for teens was six times per day. Teens lead the pack in terms of frequency of usage, and that frequency is increasing, not decreasing. What else do Teens do eight times per day besides eat?

I will note that the rise of mobile Facebook access and the concomitant use of a smartphone’s notification system to take the place of an actual Facebook page visit may have cut down on the actual time spent with the service—but there is no credible data extant to suggest that, yet. And again, let me stipulate that Facebook might in fact be “less cool” than it used to be.

But for millions of teens across America and in many parts of the world, Facebook is the single most formidable brand in the world—and that’s unlikely to change in the short term.

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This article was written by Tom Webster and originally appeared at

About Tom Webster (Twitter)
Tom Webster is Vice President of Strategy for Edison Research, a custom market research company best known as the sole providers of exit polling data during US elections for all the major news networks. He has nearly 20 years of experience researching consumer usage of technology, new media and social networking, and is the principal author of a number of widely-cited studies. Webster also has a deep background in research in both media and entertainment research, and has conducted the largest-ever segmentation study of music and lifestyle preference in UK history. He writes about these topics and more at


Rebranding PR 3.0 – Introducing Speakeasy

We started a little informal gathering we dubbed “PR 3.0″ back in 2009 as a way to stay up to date on the latest social networking trends. PR and communications were changing rapidly so we assigned staff members specific areas of study so they could educate the rest of the team at the weekly get-together. In the beginning we religiously monitored Facebook, Twitter, social apps like Four Square, SEO and video. We held our meetings every Thursday at 4pm over drinks in our office or at a cool spot with wi-fi. We started inviting peers and clients and anyone who was interested, and the gatherings evolved.

Four years in social network time is like 40 human years. Changes in social networks are happening daily and the list of social networks worth paying attention to has grown substantially. Our jobs as communicators are increasingly more complicated with so many challenges to take stock in, while traditional media outlets shrink, and catching the attention of overburdened reporters becomes an Olympic-sized challenge.

We recently realized the name for the group was dated when a 17-year-old high school student came to our office for an informational interview to learn more about PR. She asked what 3.0 referred to.  She had never heard of Web 2.0. The name hadn’t been cool for years. We must have looked like dinosaurs.

We decided then to give our PR 3.0 meetings a makeover. With the addition of new team members, new interests, new strategy, and tactics and technology making waves in our industry, we began the search for a name that fully encapsulates this wild industry (and sounds professional enough so that our colleagues from other companies can talk their bosses into attending). After several failed attempts at witticisms, a visitor named Brie Shea suggested the name “Speakeasy.” Perfect.

So, there you have it. We’ll be hosting Speakeasy gatherings twice a month.

Click here to join the Facebook Group to receive and share the latest news.

We’ll try once a month to have a special honored guest we think is extra smart about a topic. Kelli Matthews, University of Oregon’s most popular PR instructor, has already agreed to make a special trip up for one to talk about what she’s teaching the next generation of PR pros. Our next Speakeasy gathering is planned for September 19, 2013 in our office. We’ll have some adult beverages on hand to get your big thoughts flowing. Who knows what could be happening in communications three weeks from now? If you can predict it, you’ll win.


I couldn’t have said it better myself – lessons for anyone online

Lessons for Anyone Online: Borrowed from the Washington Post Blog, ComPost:

ComPost logo

Amy’s Baking Company vs. The Entire Internet

By Alexandra Petri, Published: May 16, 2013 at 1:28 pmE-mail the writer

If you were, for some bizarre reason, to gather children at my knee and ask me to impart to them the hard-earned wisdom of my years, I know exactly what I would say:

“If you do something stupid on the Internet, children, never, under any circumstances, try to pass it off as a hacking. This just makes you look like someone who has done something stupid on the Internet AND who does not understand how the Internet actually works.”

I would go on to point out that seldom in history has any self-respecting hacker come dashing in and made you look stupider than you were to begin with. Sure, hackers take over news accounts from time to time and release startling tweets about assassinations and cause the stock market to fluctuate. But when it comes to private individuals, no hacker of note has ever gone waltzing in to your account and started firing off sexual innuendos, CAPITALIZED TIRADES or emailed Images You Would Just As Soon Did Not Reach The Public Eye to the more nubile of your followers.

The children would probably have wandered off by this time to seek sandwiches, but they would know I was right.  venn diagram

Well, if the Anthony Weiner scandal didn’t do it for the hacking excuse, the Amy’s Baking Company meltdown certainly has.

For anyone not familiar with Amy’s Baking Company, this is the most amazing non-news story that has happened all week.

In Scottsdale, Ariz., there is a restaurant so far gone that even Gordon Ramsay’s shouting cannot save it. In fact, its owners so terrified the man behind “Kitchen Nightmares” that he decided to quit working with them rather than endure them any longer.

If you haven’t been in the nooks and corners of the Web where this has been bouncing around, you are missing out. It’s brilliant and unhinged, in the way all things that go truly viral are. First, the “Kitchen Nightmares” episode itself, which features the classic lines from Amy, “We have three little boys but they’re trapped inside cat bodies. They’re cats.” It shows the owners taking the waiters’ tips, berating the customers and insisting that they do not know the kind of food they want, firing the waitstaff, shouting at Gordon Ramsey and completely refusing to accept any criticism of any kind.

Then, if viewers had any nagging fear that this insanity was staged for the cameras, the Facebook page of Amy’s Baking Company lit up with insults, as co-owners Amy and Samy inveighed against all the Web sites where the “online bullies” had given them negative reviews. Most of them are unprintable, but some highlights include: “To all of the Yelpers and Reddits: Bring it on … Come to arizona. you are weaker than my wife, and weaker than me. come to my business. say it to my face. man to man. my wife is a jewel in the desert. you are just trash. reddits and yelpers just working together to bring us down. pathetic.”


As a general rule, if you are the one typing in all caps insisting that everyone else is wrong, they are not wrong.

The couple has been doing this for some time, but suddenly they announced that “Obviously our Facebook, YELP, Twitter and Website have been hacked. We are working with the local authorities as well as the FBI computer crimes unit to ensure this does not happen again. We did not post those horrible things. Thank You Amy&Samy.”

If so, this hacker has an awful lot of spare time and an uncanny ear for dialogue.

The Amy & Samy story is essentially a master-class in How To Lose An Argument on the Internet. The basic steps, for anyone curious:

  • Explain that God is on your side.
  • Call the other person a rude four-letter, three-letter, five-letter, six-letter, ten-letter, or twelve-letter name.
  • Explain that you are right because the other person is an idiot, while misspelling something.
  • Describe your cats as “little boys in cat bodies” or “little people in cat suits” or “children, but actually cats, but really children” or “non-human children.”
  • Refuse to stop arguing.
  • When the backlash starts, insist that you were hacked.

They manage to do all of these, in some cases in a single post. They do everything short of comparing someone to Hitler.

Naturally, this has been blowing up online. To call this kicking the hornet’s nest would be an understatement. They poked and poked and poked the hornet’s nest while making disparaging remarks about the hornets’ mothers. No wonder there’s a swarm.

Folks, it’s not the Internet. It’s you.



The other Buffett Rule: If Warren Buffett joins Twitter, you should too


warren buffett faceLast Week Warren Buffett joined Twitter.

This must come as a shock to many small business owners who’d gobble up his investment advice, but would just as soon do everything in their power to avoid using Twitter. (This must also come as a disappointment to self-proclaimed social media gurus who spend hundreds of hours trying to gain followers, whereas Warren Baby {as I call him} already has 390,000+.)


A late bloomer, perhaps, but when an investment tycoon joins up with a web platform that is currently overlooked from many in the small business community, maybe it’s time to give it another look?

warren buffett twitter

If you’re ready, here are 6 uses for Twitter (compliments of AM:PM PR) that may help you on your way:

1.  Demonstrating thought leadership. You’re an expert on your brand and in your field and your target audience is already looking for you.

2. Demonstrating your brand. You can demonstrate your brand image with tweets related to your expertise or related to your business or products. You can also share related industry news to show you are a source for news and related information.

3. Search Engine Optimization. We’re guessing that you established your other social media profiles because you recognize that different people use different technologies. Further, Twitter has its own search engine independent of Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Myspace, etc., etc., etc. Therefore, when people search for information using Twitter, they are potentially discovering information unique from those other search engines. How can you brand your Tweets so that your target audience can find you more easily on Twitter?

4. Research. We’ve worked with businesses and non-profits who’ve been “discovered” by journalists researching a given topic for a story. Conversely, you can use Twitter to research targeted bloggers, podcasts or publications that may not be so apparent when searching with Google.

5. Social Interaction. The “social” in social media insinuates that you use the media to interact with others, and not to simply trumpet your ego to the world. If you’re not interacting with others, you’re not doing it right. Find Twitter users who are sharing information relevant to your brand, and build rapport with them.

6. Promotion of your brand. I made this last, just because it should be your last priority. It’s cool to share exciting news, achievements or great interviews – but if you’re constantly sending off self-aggrandizing tweets, you’re doing it wrong.

In conclusion, you’ll notice that Warren has only posted two tweets since he joined up last Thursday. This is not a technique or strategy that we recommend, unless you are already incredibly famous. We’d recommend that you carve out a minimum of 15 minutes per day for regular social media upkeep.

social media

On branding and social media


Have you found yourself censoring images, ideas or other posts on social media platforms because you feel they might cause negative feedback from certain members of your online community? This is an example of managing your brand identity, whether you’re conscious of it or not, and many people and businesses have been struggling with the act of branding ever since the first adorable baby animal images started circulating on the Internet.

Make no mistake, managing brand identity on social networks is a difficult task. Additional considerations include when to post, what to post, how to post, where to post, how to respond to criticism or a communication crisis. With all this pressure, some folks are on a personal quest to determine a special formula or to instill a set of rules to follow that will ensure social media success. I don’t know that there really is a secret formula, but I suspect it comes down to one of the first social lessons that most of us learn at an early age: you’ll be far more successful being authentic and empathetic to others, versus a self-aggrandizing type-A loudmouth. In other words, just be real and be aware of your audience.

There have been some pretty atrocious examples of brands and business leaders failing to “be real” on social media and it’s had disastrous (if not amusing) effects on their brand identity. Curiously, many of these missteps have occurred after national or international tragedy, in some ill-advised effort to capitalize on a hot topic of media intrigue. Other missteps have occurred when brands have taken a stance on social issues, temporarily unaware of the people that inhabit their target audience that they’ve spent building over a period of years.

In recent days we’ve seen the following PR disasters:

*  Epicuroius advertising some scones and breakfast treats, tying the promotion into the Boston marathon bombing

*  Eden Foods opposing the contraceptive measure imposed in the new healthcare law (do they NOT know who their target consumer is?)

For a list of more social blunders, check out this article from Mashable. These examples offer a teachable moment for AM:PM PR friends and clients.

We’ve drummed up a list of five additional suggestions on branding and social media to ensure your brand doesn’t follow in these footsteps.

  1. Don’t try to attach your brand to a crisis. I would argue that you shouldn’t do it at all, but some folks have big hearts and feel the need to express their sympathy for a tragic event. If you must, let your audience know that the employees of your business have their hearts and minds in the right place. That is real human emotion and it’s fine to express. Once. But trying to tie a product promotion or sale into a disaster is just gross, and above all, not what a real person would do. Several brands including Kenneth Cole and The Gap have had their brand images tarnished by thoughtless Tweets.
  2. Share information that interests real people.  I like kitty posts as much as the next person, but for brand integrity I try to limit myself. As challenging as it is, I do so because sharing kitty images and related social media memes does nothing for my brand. If I do ten kitty-like posts and then one post related to something business-related, my target audience may have already tuned out (or worse, hidden ALL of my posts).
  3. Don’t oversell yourself. When I was a kid, this guy Jack Roberts was famous in Seattle-area TV commercials for his many, many commercials saying “I wont be undersold.” While his marketing message has stuck with me for 25 years, it’s not an effective strategy for social media. People will get annoyed and tune you out. However, if you get a windfall and want to buy a bunch of TV advertising, give it a shot. Also check out Chuck Curcio for inspiration.
  4. Don’t create alter egos to bash your critics or competitors. Falling under the “be real” requirement, the founder of Dilbert and CEO of Whole Foods have something in common. Both created fake alter egos to praise and defend themselves online, generating some negative publicity for their brand as a result. Here’s a feature in the NY Times for John Mackey, which is usually a good thing, but this time it wasn’t.
  5. Make sure you know your customers before sharing your beliefs. In the case of Eden Foods, CEO Michael Potter (no relation to Harry) obviously had temporary amnesia of his customers when he sued against having contraception covered for his employees. Then he kept digging that hole deeper, as shown in this piece from Salon. You have to be careful when taking political postures that represent your public brand or image.

This is a snapshot of some considerations to keep in mind when branding your online business or persona, based on our observations from recent events. While the platforms are always changing, the same general rules always remain. Be authentic, be real, and in the immortal words of George Carlin’s character Rufus, from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, “be excellent to each other.”



Twitter puts it all out on the Vine

You may have heard of micro processors, micro blogging and micro machines – but have you heard of micro video? Well if Twitter has its way, their acquisition of a new company called Vine will help them branch out to the next big thing … an app that allows you to share 6-second video clips.

I can hear your eyes rolling from my office. In fact, you may be asking, “Cam, why should I pay attention to yet another app?”

Here’s why:

Debuting on January 24th, this product has already caused quite a stir in the social media world. In two weeks, online Vine users shared 113,897 videos on Twitter on over a single weekend. That’s over 2,000 videos every hour.

Major brands like Urban Outfitters, Lucky Magazine, GAP, Red Vines, Moose Tracks, Coke-a-Cola and Pepsi have already put up videos.

Brands are currently using this format to demonstrate how their products work, to hold contests and to share creative content that they hope will resonate and connect them with their target audience. Still skeptical? Check out three of my favorite videos, and perhaps I can change your mind.





4. BONUS – If you want to be endlessly entertained follow James Urbaniak


For more information:

Wired Magazine – “Why Vine’s Going to Grow Into Something Huge”

Entrepreneur Magazine – “The Pros and Cons of Using Video App ‘Vine’ for Marketing”


marketing branding team

Branding, Communications and Public Relations: Questions to Answer Before Working With a PR Firm

At AM:PM PR we begin each new client relationship with the hope it will lead to a long-term partnership. We believe the more we know about a prospective client’s business, the better we can understand the qualities that differentiate them from their competition, thus allowing us to do a better job helping to communicate each client’s unique story to targeted audiences.

During our information gathering process, we like to ask a lot of questions – a process that is beneficial to both parties. Answering the following questions provides potential clients an opportunity to think about the way they communicate about their business, product or service. If you’re ready to ask us how we may help you, copy and paste the following questions into the body of an email with your answers and email them to:

As you ponder your answers, are you learning anything new about your business, your brand, or your current need for marketing and PR assistance? Here are some branding, communications and public relations questions to ask yourself before working with a PR firm.

Introductory Questions:

What short-term and long-term goals are you hoping to achieve with PR and marketing services?

Have you worked with a PR firm in the past? What was your experience?

What are you looking for from a PR firm?

What is your budget for PR/Marketing?

What is the PR assignment, as you see it? How will you define success?

Your Brand:

What is your positioning statement? What sets your brand apart from the competition?

What is your brand personality/culture?

What are some examples of your messaging?

Have you tested your messaging?

Communications Focus:

What is the background of your business (your history, your story)?

Who are your target audiences? What is the demographic and psychographic profile of your key customers? What are your key insights into these audiences?

What media does your target audience consume?

How do they currently learn about your business/product?

What is your consumer promise?

Who is your competition?

Do you advertise? If so, where?


When was the last time you made improvements to your website?

Do you have a budget for improvements to your website?

Do you use and monitor your web analytics? Are you making adjustments based on your analytics reports?

What are the search terms that lead visitors to your site?

Are you blogging?

Social Networking:

Please describe how you are engaged with social media? Which tools are you using and what do you share?

Are there any social media tools you refuse to use? If so, why?

Curious to learn more about our services? Please contact us to learn more by clicking here.


New MySpace steps onto the field

by Cam Clark

Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, MySpace has been reborn, and I have taken a plunge into the new world. Under the ownership of a seemingly endlessly talented Justin Timbmerlake, this is a whole new beast.

The first thing you notice about the new MySpace, especially if you had an account on the old MySpace, is that it’s beautiful. It’s very visual, with lots of context-based menuing. Although it was disorienting at first, the side scrolling has quickly grown on me.

new myspaceIt is also very apparent that the site is now focused solely on music. Every piece of the site appears to be wrapped around the idea of listening, sharing, and exploring music. With access to what seems to be a massive collection, you can quickly immerse yourself.

MySpace is not without its issues though. The icon showing who you’re connected to, although simple, looks like a master card logo, and it is not instantly clear how to use it. Also, what do the different states of the icon mean? It’s not always obvious how certain layers of the site are opened and closed. There is also a stark lack of intuitive linking; I find myself trying to click on things that don’t have links, especially in the “Discovery” area.

From a competition standpoint, I wonder what Facebook thinks of MySpace’s re-entry into the social scene. After spending some time with the site, I realized that it isn’t so much Facebook that should be paying attention to this brand resurrection as Spotify, Pandora, and potentially iTunes.

I can easily see teens and 20-somethings taking to a platform like this, especially those who really enjoy exploring and sharing music. The big question, since currently there are no ads or subscription fees, is, “Where will the money come from?” Once MySpace starts generating income, how will that translate into compensation for the artists? And without any obvious features to best the dominant music players in the industry, how will MySpace compete?

Getting to play with the new MySpace has really created more questions for me than have been answered. At the same time, it’s fun to see a great player come out of retirement, and it will be fun to watch MySpace step out onto the field again. Whether or not the company hits it out of the park this time around is another question entirely.