July 2012
Volume 7
No. 7 


Pulling aside the curtain:

PR's leading role behind the scenes  


Zynga's fall from grace; are declining numbers a trend?















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About Eiler

Eiler Communications is a public relations and marketing  firm in Ann Arbor, MI.  We specialize in new and traditional media marketing, serving established and emerging companies in the communications
technology, financial services, biotechnology and healthcare industries.

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Pulling aside the curtain:

PR's leading role behind the scenes




PR is widely misunderstood, for the simple reason that people aren't sure exactly what "public relations" means for them, as a client or a business. While the terms "marketing" or "advertising" inspire recognition, "public relations" often inspires confusion instead.


The reason for such confusion is simple; though public relations is tailored towards creating and building a story for public consumption, much of what PR entails takes place behind the scenes. Writing press releases, coordinating media contacts, creating the target audience of media, securing credentials, and lobbying for article placement, among other things, are all non-public activities essential to the practice of PR.


Since these things don't necessarily amount to a tangible entity, like a full-page advertisement spread or a prominent billboard, the value of PR isn't immediately recognizable. However, its effectiveness and viability is often twice or even three times more useful than advertising alone. American marketing strategists Al and Laura Ries argue, in their bestselling novel The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR, that public relations has become the most effective way to build a brand or business.


Public relations is all about telling a story effectively; the better the story, the more the public will respond. It's a legitimate third party endorsement, which translates into better credibility and effectiveness.


Once a client or a business understands the value of PR, options for defining or redefining the brand and target audience are considerably widened, for a very low cost. One of the most important aspects of public relations is its relative cost effectiveness, especially in contrast with standard advertising techniques, the expense of which can be debilitating to a new, emerging business.


PR is not just something to be used and employed by larger businesses; it can have an enormous effect on small and emerging businesses as well. While exporting the job to a qualified PR firm is often the best option, there are several common PR strategies a small business could implement on its own in order to gain some of the benefits of advertising without the costs. Including telling their business story effectively, as well as learning how to navigate and utilize social media successfully.


According to research done by the Public Relations Society of America, public relations as a practice is becoming more recognized and relied upon, as well as utilized, as an important business tactic. And while much of what PR does takes place in the background, the benefits it imparts end up taking center stage.


By Kelly Etz


Zynga's fall from grace; are declining numbers a trend?   



Chances are, you've heard of the immensely popular game, Farmville. Commonly played on the social networking site, Facebook, Farmville allows the player to plant and water their own veggies, swap plants or give gifts to other users, and spend real cash on virtual merchandise.


But recently, the game manufacturer Zynga (which also runs Cityville, Casteville, Fishville, etc.) took a huge hit with its numbers, falling 35% in Facebook gameplay, according to AppData, a company that records the traffic of applications on Facebook.

Zynga is currently in negotiations to determine what went wrong and where they can step up their game, literally.


Even with the percentage drop, Zynga is still raking in hundreds of millions of dollars a year; the real issue is why the numbers are dropping at all. Are Internet users simply tired of Farmville and similar games? Or are new trends developing in Internet usage, suggesting these types of games will soon become largely irrelevant? The Internet is erratic and unpredictable, and Zynga will just have to muddle through in the hopes that users are still turning to their new or updated games in the future.


However, Zynga's issues are troubling for other social media and entertainment based companies as well. Of course, social media giants, like Facebook and Twitter, probably aren't too concerned. But as is the nature of the Internet, one day something is immensely popular, the next day it's not, just like that.


Just recently, Facebook debuted its new public IPO, but was too overconfident in the perceived popularity. Investors claimed losses of up to $500 million of Facebook shares they didn't want or had cancelled, according to an article published in the Wall Street Journal. The public IPO is now gaining strength, but is still viewed as a veritable "flop."


Looking back to a few years ago, no one had ever heard of Facebook, and MySpace was the top social networking site. Now, MySpace is largely irrelevant and has had major losses in both popularity and profits. Facebook could very well end up exactly like its predecessor, MySpace. The fact is: no body really knows what could happen.


Zynga's battle to remain popular is a lesson for other game developers and social media creators; the fickle nature of Internet users proves: there's no such thing as a "sure thing" in this business.


Kelly Etz 







Social media sites such as Facebook already exist for connecting with both friends and family members, but how about for the professional world? Establishing and facilitating professional connections is important for the success of almost any business or individual, whether it be a reporter looking for additional sources or a company looking to find possible employees. This process used to rely on word of mouth and luck, but now, with the advent of LinkedIn, this process has never been easier. LinkedIn allows people and businesses the ability to not only connect with the contacts they already know (first-degree contacts), but also to view and reach out to their contacts' connections (second-degree contacts) in addition to the contacts of the second-degree people (third-degree contacts).


However, one cannot directly connect to a second-degree contact. In order to ensure the professional integrity and privacy of LinkedIn, one must request to be connected to a second- or third-degree contact through a first-degree contact. This transferal of requests provides the necessary filter needed to keep both spam and unwanted contacts at bay, as, just as this process works offline, every time a connection is made, the reputation of the connector is put on the line as well. If the person requesting the connection is linked to a person who isn't appropriate or is less than professional, their time has been wasted, and vice versa.


So, if one maintains a professional profile, LinkedIn can be an incredible resource as it allows the possibility of reaching wider prospects. As Sree Sreenivansan, the dean of student affairs and digital media professor at Colombia University Graduate School of Journalism, wrote in his article "LinkedIn, Anyone?" posted on Poynter in 2006, "As of this writing, I have 317 direct connections; 43,000 second-degree connections and 1.4 million-plus connections in my network. I can search my network and contact anyone on it, but the reason that the system works is that I can only connect with my direct connections directly. Everyone else has to be connected through folks I know. They hear only from people they already know directly. So it's basically friends - or acquaintances - making the initial connection."


By ensuring that each connection made is judged and filtered through its user base, LinkedIn has established an effective system for not only expanding one's personal network, but also reaching out to individuals and businesses that would have otherwise been impossible. Even if the contact you are searching for does not have a LinkedIn account (though as reported by LinkedIn, as of January 2012, it has more than 150 million registered users in more than 200 countries and territories), more likely than not you will be able to find the profile of a co-worker or other individual who would be able to contact him or her.


Though the system is not perfect (there will be users who send spam contact invites to generate a larger network), if one judiciously chooses not only their first degree contacts, but also which connections to pass on, LinkedIn can be an effective tool for professional businesses and individuals. As its user base expands, to members beyond the tech field, and into media industries, it is undoubtedly important to be at least familiar with this pioneering social media site.

Emmy Mills

Eiler Communications 900 Victors Way, Suite 180 Ann Arbor, Michigan 48108 Map
Phone: 734-761-3399 Fax: 734-761-3724