By Annakate Tefft Ross

In Part II of our productivity series (check out Part I on Three Online Tools To Be More Productive at Work), we dive into digital tools to help you get to know people in your network better. Whether you’re conducting media relations, looking for new business or just networking in general, these tools will save you time.

#1 Talkwalker Alerts

First up is Talkwalker Alerts. If you’ve been using Google Alerts to track Web mentions for companies, names or topics important to you, you’ve probably noticed in recent months that they’re not working very well. While Google hasn’t issued an official notice that alerts are going the way of Google Reader, it’s pretty obvious something is up. Talkwalker Alerts is a great alternative. This free tool works just like Google Alerts in that it emails you alerts on the topics you select as often as you want – as they happen, daily or weekly. Setting one up is as easy as filling out the form below. 

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#2 Newsle

Newsle bills itself as “News about your people.” The service will email you when folks you’re connected with on Facebook and LinkedIn are named or quoted in blog posts or news stories. The service also allows you to search for people you’re about to meet. It’s free, and it takes all of 10 seconds to create an account, then Newsle takes it from there. Here’s a screenshot of a recent result in my newsfeed (I also get this via email).

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I met Matt Rozen (above) from Adobe at a Ragan PR Conference in May, then connected with him on LinkedIn. I’d like to stay in touch with him, and knowing what he’s up to will help me do that.

#3 Rapportive

Rapportive “shows you everything about your contacts from within your inbox.” So when you’re working on an email to someone, Rapportive uses their email address to automatically pull in your contact’s social profiles in a box to the right so you can see what they look like, what they’ve been tweeting about lately, where they live and lots more.

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To use Rapportive, you will need to be using Gmail or Google Apps Mail. (See this from Tech Republic about all the Google mail products.) If you use Gmail at work, you will find Rapportive really shines, with loads of background on your contacts. For example, in the screenshot above I’m composing an email to a friend who works in technology.  Rapportive tells me I’m not yet connected with him on Twitter, and it reminds me that he’s active on lots of other networks that I can consider connecting with him on. This could be helpful to me considering we’re in similar industries.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful. What other tools do you recommend? Leave a comment below!

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By Stephanie McKinney

Social media has become an integral part of our lives. It affects how we communicate with each other, how we share our experiences and how we do business.

In honor of Throwback Thursday, join MP&F for a walk down memory lane through the history of social media. Here are just a few moments that we found to be meaningful.

The Evolution of Social Media

Of course this is just a brief glimpse. We can’t forget milestone developments such as Compuserve, Bulletin boards, Usenet, AOL, Tumblr, Blogger, Pinterest and Google+.

Today, social communities are created around subjects – Goodreads for books, Spotify for music. Others emerge with a single purpose like Snapchat for 10-second images and Instagram for artistic images of everyday life.

As the evolution of social media continues and new networks arrive on the scene, remembering the earliest social networks and how far we’ve come might make us all more eager to explore and share.

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It’s more important than ever to be in-the-know about the latest digital tools, trends and networks to better serve our clients. Audiences are fractured and segmented, and there are multiple ways to tell a story using digital channels.

It’s also prudent to stay up-to-date on technology to be more productive at work. There are LOTS of apps, browser extensions and websites that can help you work smarter and more efficiently; following are three to know.

#1 LastPass is a lifesaver. It’s an online password manager and form filler. I’ve been using it as a Chrome browser extension for about six months and honestly couldn’t imagine life without it. I use LastPass for my logins for social networks, analytics tools, media databases, online news sites, intranets and event sites, to name a few. Off the clock I use it to save my banking and email information, travel sites, e-commerce platforms, iTunes and lots more.

A quick search shows I have more than 80 usernames and passwords saved in my LastPass vault. Seriously, how was I able to keep track of all those before? Here’s how it works. As soon as I visit a URL I have saved, LastPass fills in my login information for me, as in the example below.

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  • It’s secure. You remember one master password, then LastPass encrypts everything you share with it.
  • You can share passwords among team members. If you have a company login for a site, you can share the password electronically without revealing exactly what it is.
  • Random passwords can be generated and saved on new sites so you don’t have to make one up.

Cost: Free with $1 a month Premium option. This gives me access on my iPhone so I’m connected to all my passwords everywhere I go.

Get LastPass browser extension for Chrome here.

#2 Evernote’s tagline is “Remember everything,” and that’s precisely what it does. I use it primarily for saving notable links I want to revisit later. Instead of just bookmarking them, I “clip” them using the Evernote Chrome extension, then categorize them with tags. The best part of Evernote is that your saved content is always completely searchable within your account.

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Evernote also allows you to save all kinds of info beyond links, from documents to photos to audio. Everything can be tagged and commented on for easy search later.

Cost: I’m using the free version. The Premium option, which offers access to notes offline and collaboration with a team, costs $45 a year.

Get Evernote here.

#3 Awesome Screenshot does exactly what it says. It easily grabs a whole screen or a selection, then allows you to edit the screenshot, annotate it (add circles or other callouts) and easily save.

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Screenshots are useful for so many things, from client presentations and memos with examples to grabbing a search result or headline you’re not sure will always be a live link. I’ve used various screenshot tools before and have found that Awesome Screenshot works the best.

Cost: Free Get Awesome Screenshot here.

Stay tuned next week for Part II of our productivity series where MP&F/d explores three more tools to help streamline media relations efforts.

What digital tools are your favorites?

By Annakate Tefft Ross

Have you heard of Wannado yet? It’s a hyperlocal event curation app that helps users find out what they “wanna do” in Nashville. The startup is a client of ours and officially launched the app today. Read the Nashville Business Journal story on the launch here.

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We love seeing the Nashville technology and startup communities grow, plus we love finding out about awesome activities in our fair city, so we’re thrilled to help spread the word about Wannado.

According to CEO Steven Buhrman, the app was designed to help Nashvillians spend less time figuring out what they want to do and more time doing what they love. Here’s a video the company put together.

Not only does the app use your tastes and preferences to point you in the direction of events you might be interested in, but it actually learns its users’ preferences and makes personalized event suggestions. The idea was to create the Spotify (a digital music streaming service) of local events. Pretty cool, we’d say.

So, what can you do with Wannado?

  • Keep a pulse on your favorite live music and entertainment options
  • Get tickets and add events to calendars directly from the app
  • See what your friends and other locals are doing
  • Discover service opportunities based on the causes you care about
  • Find out where professionals are meeting up
  • Follow your favorite venues and organizations
  • Find nearby drink specials and invite your friends to join

Once you’ve downloaded the app, you “tune” or specify your interests.

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After that I can get “Suggestions” for upcoming events by date, based on my criteria as selected above. I’ll also receive daily suggestions from Wannado.

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From there, you can “Explore” anything under the sun, from over 60 categories. So if your mother-in-law is in town, you can browse museums or wine tasting events, regardless of whether or not you like these kinds of events. You can also search for events by keyword.

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Lastly, I can use the “Community” function to see what my friends have “Wannado’d” or starred as an event they’re interested in. The app integrates with Facebook so my “friends” are based on existing Facebook friends.

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Wannado curates its events in part by allowing anyone to post an event (you can submit one directly through the app) and by leveraging partnerships with prominent local organizations and cultural curators, including:

In a nutshell, we’re pumped. Help us spread the word about Wannado! Get the app, then check them out on FacebookTwitterInstagram and the blog.

By Annakate Tefft Ross

There are certain steps that must be in place before trying to create a successful social media campaign. Once you’ve come up with a good idea, gotten the necessary approvals to move forward, and developed any graphics or other assets, it can be tempting to want to storm right in and begin. However, establishing a strong foundation will set you up for success.

It’s officially summer, so we got cute with our infographic with a play on physical fitness. Learn how to build your strength by starting with a strong foundation!

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Announcing MP&F/d

June 24, 2013

Drum roll, please… Today MP&F is announcing the creation of a new digital services operation, MP&F/d. Our goal is to provide integrated digital media strategies for both public relations and marketing clients. MP&F is already providing many social media and digital services; MP&F/d seeks to elevate and amplify our offerings with a fresh perspective. I’m Annakate Tefft Ross, and I’ll be leading the new division along with Partner Keith Miles.

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I started my career in PR, conducting more traditional communications and marketing campaigns. Over the last several years, I’ve specialized in social media and digital communications in the startup and technology worlds. With this background, I am very excited to join MP&F in this role.

Social media and digital outreach present amazing opportunities for corporations and brands to connect with customers, influencers and stakeholders in a way that wasn’t possible in the analog world. I am passionate about using technology to facilitate these relationships. My philosophy is to stay on top of current trends and tools while remaining grounded with solid strategy, account management and measurement practices.

We think the best social media campaigns are part of a larger integrated communications plan, a holistic approach to digital outreach. However, we also offer social media management solutions, team trainings on the latest tools and trends, competitive audits, blogger outreach, and more.

We can’t wait to start the conversation!

Contact: digital@mpf.com
Twitter: @mpf_d

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The following is an email exchange between MP&F staff members Lacey Purcell and Colby Sledge, because we were probably going to email each other about this anyway.

CS: Lacey, I’m having trouble wrapping my head around Vine. I feel like we’re really just giving life to selfies, which, along with zombies and the Boy Meets World College Years, are things we just should not be reanimating. What is the audience for Vine?

LP: I’ll overlook your BMWCY dis, because we both know those seasons were critical development periods for Cory and Topanga’s relationship.

That being said, Vine is a great opportunity to engage social media users on all platforms. I think it gives brands a chance to explore different ways to drive traffic to a website and increase SEO, among other things. What problems are you running into?

CS: My problem is that brands haven’t figured out what to do with it. Urban Outfitters dresses dogs. NBC films a JPEG of Seth Meyers and pipes in weird stock applause. These people know GIFs exist, right?

So far, Vine is populated mostly with teenagers being bored. Is this really what brands want to associate themselves with?

LP: OK, I agree. People are jumping on the Vine bandwagon a little too quickly. But isn’t that what happened with Facebook and Twitter? It took brands some time to figure out how to tailor those platforms to fit their particular messages. I think Wimbledon did a cool job giving a behind-the-scenes look with this Vine.

CS: Sorry for the delay — I just awoke from the coma that video induced.

Look, I agree with you, in part: Vine’s biggest potential for brands is providing consumers with access — something they can’t see anywhere else. Sports presents a great opportunity for this. I think the Dodgers’ “#VineDeckCircle” is a step in the right direction.

NBA and NHL playoff teams should be making bank on Vine. If Zach Randolph appeared on my iPhone and told me to purchase a special-edition “Grit and Grind” playoff headband, I would buy approximately 700.

LP: Don’t act like you weren’t entranced by Wimbledon. But seriously, that video contains something tennis lovers may never have seen before: a guy who looks really un-legit drawing the lines for one of the biggest sporting events in the world.

However, Vine does more than behind-the-scenes. What about some kind of transformation? A home décor store could use the app to showcase a room before, during and after a renovation. Perfect place to showcase new products, feature new designers, etc.

CS: And what about fashion? A few runway shows at New York Fashion Week did a good job with this, but the possibilities here are limitless. Don’t people want to see what clothes look like when they’re actually being worn?

By the way, we’re going to have to wrap this up soon, because Tim Gunn and I have an early lunch.

LP: I’m impressed. Let’s tie a pashmina around you and call it a day.

I agree. The fashion industry could do so many creative things with this app, and it makes sense for it to have a presence because of the incredibly creative nature of the industry.

I like Vine. I like social media. I don’t like it for everyone. The ultimate goal shouldn’t be to have people watch the vines; the goal should be to drive traffic into a store, raise awareness about an issue, or increase sales in some way, shape or form. Vine can help do that, but, just like with Facebook and Twitter, there has to be a strategy behind its use.

CS: Agreed. Vine looks simple, but beneath it lies a tangled web – dare I say, a tangled VINE – of necessary strategy and resources. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to record a Vine on a bicycle, and potentially a how-to on avoiding ambulance rides.

CS: We attached my phone to my helmet using a very complicated lantern-strap-and-paper-clip model, which proved way more interesting than the bike video itself. WARNING: Do not view bike footage while operating heavy machinery.