Tag Archives: pr

Creative Social Publicity and Promotion – SFU, 2016


From time to time, I visit various classes associated with B.C.’s Simon Fraser University’s fine publishing program under the stewardship of Suzanne Norman. This time around, the class was something about personal publicity and brand building. As such, I share anecdotes gleaned from Hootsuite and dozens of other personal social and community projects from over the years of activism, media outreach and marketing.

Download Creative Social Publicity and Promotion – SFU (1:56, 80MB, .mp3)

More: Roundup of artifacts from Creative Social Publicity and Promotion at SFU

Cool Under Pressure: How HootSuite Responded to Embarrassing Tweets, Crashing Servers, and the Japanese Earthquake, via Tech.co

Tech.co, by Kira M. Newman, May 30, 2012

Cool Under Pressure: How HootSuite Responded to Embarrassing Tweets, Crashing Servers, and the Japanese Earthquake

On February 15, 2011, a Red Cross employee – obviously having a lot of fun – accidentally broadcasted this tweet from @RedCross rather than her personal account. (See the full story on CNN.) But what VP Community Dave Olson was most alarmed about was the little HootSuite marker: the rogue tweet had been sent using his startup’s social media dashboard.

So HootSuite flew into action: they donated to the Red Cross, encouraged others to donate, and sent a care package with a beer koozie to the mistweeter. Soon, with support from Dogfish Head, breweries were offering a free pint of beer for customers who donated a pint of blood to the Red Cross, rallying around the hashtag #gettngslizzerd. And HootSuite quickly launched tools for secure profiles – an extra step to confirm that you want to tweet to a protected account. What could have been a fiasco turned into a PR boon for 3 companies.

Time and time again, HootSuite has adroitly avoided missteps and faux pas while capitalizing on pivotal moments. That same February, while the Arab Spring ignited in Egypt and Facebook and Twitter seemed blocked, protesters and media signed up for HootSuite to get the message out. As press coverage soared, HootSuite released a timely infographic on popular hashtags and tweets about the Arab Spring. They were soon getting calls about it from the US Department of State, National Geographic, and Voice of America.

The following month, HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes was scheduled to present on a SXSW panel called Big in Japan. Less than 3 days before the panel, Japan was struck by the record-breaking earthquake and tsunami.

“The show must go on, in some way or another. We couldn’t just go there and say, ‘Let’s all cuddle up and cry,’” recalls Olson. So HootSuite set up a breakfast with the panelists to make sure everyone’s family was safe, and started the panel with a moment of silence. Afterward, they held a discussion for those concerned about Japan. HootSuite tweeted to urge attendees to donate, and SXSWers ended up contributing over $125,000. Meanwhile, HootSuite employees in Japan – the first market they had localized for – used their language skills to help stranded locals and connect them with embassies.

I met with VP Community Dave Olson at HootSuite’s Vancouver headquarters

And HootSuite was still a small team. Though they’ve now grown to 180, they only had around 20 employees when Amazon Web Services crashed one month later, bringing HootSuite (and many other sites) along with it. But the HootSuite blog was still up, and they used it to alert customers of the situation and share news coverage from around the web. Throughout, says Olson, they refrained from “throwing Amazon under the bus.” Once service was restored, HootSuite wrote a blog post about how they’d prevent a similar problem in the future, and issued a $50 credit available to their 1.6 million customers.

From humiliating tweets to chaotic revolutions to tragedies big and small, HootSuite has kept its cool and remained genuine. But how?

“I want to build this company one hug at a time, one relationship at a time – of course it’s not quite possible anymore but we still take that same ethos and same attitude,” says Olson.

“We really try to be egoless. We’re all in it together. We’re all just owls. … Having this egoless, hustle, underdog culture – there’s something really ingrained in our DNA about we don’t take anything for granted. We don’t compete against people; we compete against ourselves – we’re always raising the bar for ourselves.”

It’s a tough lesson to implement, but this is what it looks like in the trenches.

Source: Cool Under Pressure: How HootSuite Responded to Embarrassing Tweets, Crashing Servers, and the Japanese Earthquake

A note on Press Release writing…

In brief, … write your press release in a way that is easily copy and pasted for refactoring (ergo: change byline and title) by “journalists” seeking to refactor your release into valuable news coverage.

“ATG purchased” in The Olympian with comments by Dave Olson

ATG (OlyWa) Purchased from The Olympian – (pdf) 06/06/02

Scott Wyland from The Olympian article again mentions Zhonka entering the market, “Former OlyWa employee Dave Olson, also unavailable for comment, has said he wants to launch an ISP called Zhonka Broadband, which would offer high-speed connections to Web users.”

Long-distance company ATG purchased

Integra officials say OlyWa service will not be disrupted


Advanced TelCom Group Inc., a mid-sized carrier that gave callers an alternative to Baby Bells, has agreed to sell its assets to repay a chunk of its $206 million debt.

Portland company

Portland-based Integra Telecom will take over most of ATG’s assets, which include property, equipment, customer accounts and labor pool.

Based in Santa Rosa, Calif., ATG two years ago bought OlyWa.net, a local Internet service provider.

ATG laid off OlyWa’s 10 employees by the time it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in early May but continued to serve some 1,600 subscribers.

No disruptions

No disruption of service is expected under Integra, including to OlyWa customers, said Gary Cuccio, ATG executive chairman.

Cuccio said he took the helm at ATG six months ago in an attempt to turn the company around, but by then it was too late.

“We grew too fast,” Cuccio said. “We simply borrowed money that we were unable to pay back.” Integra representatives couldn’t be reached on Wednesday to discuss their plans for OlyWa.

Former OlyWa employee Dave Olson, also unavailable for comment, has said he wants to launch an ISP called Zhonka Broadband, which would offer high-speed connections to Web users.

Because of the Chapter 11 filing, the sale can’t be completed until all parties sign off on it, including ATG’s creditors, Cuccio said. That could take one day or several months.

Integra will have the option of changing the ATG name, he said. “Not much will be left of ATG.”

All told, ATG will receive about $20 million for its customer accounts and other assets, about one-tenth of what it owes 13 banks, Cuccio said. Creditors will have to eat the remaining debt, he said.

Other buyers

Three other buyers purchased a small portion of the assets: Cavalier Communications, of Richmond, Va.; Step 7, of Santa Rosa; and TelePacific Communications of Los Angeles.

ATG spiraled into the red when the slumping economy caused small to mid-size businesses — ATG’s main client base — to fold or pull back on spending, Cuccio said.

The mounting debt prevented the company from doing an initial public stock offering needed to boost capital, he said.

ATG had some success competing against big carriers such as 1/2 est, but it lacked the resources these large companies had for weathering an industry slide, Cuccio said. “I think when the downturn hits, they have deeper pockets.”