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How to Go from Anonymity to Fame With Just One Tweet

How can a self-proclaimed geeky company with no knowledge of public relations go from virtual anonymity to media darling with just one tweet? This is the story of how social media is changing how companies make news and how the new world of public relations is practiced It all began around 10 am CT on August 12, 2009, when Ryan Kelly, founder and CEO, of market insights and analysis firm Pear Analytics of San Antonio, posted the following onTwitter:

How can a self-proclaimed geeky company with no knowledge of public relations go from virtual anonymity to media darling with just one tweet?

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This is the story of how social media is changing how companies make news and how the new world of public relations is practiced

It all began around 10 am CT on August 12, 2009, when Ryan Kelly, founder and CEO, of market insights and analysis firm Pear Analytics of San Antonio, posted the following onTwitter:

“The Twitter Study we mentioned at #bmprsa is now available: http://bit.ly/17htXE interesting results…” BMPRSA is a San Antonio PR and social media group where Kelly had spoken a few weeks before and mentioned the pending study.

No sooner did he post the tweet that a friend from sales and marekting company Sales by 5 DM’d or direct messaged him on Twitter: “Please let me know when you release it, and I’ll send it to Mashable.”

By 5 pm the very same day, Pear’s study was featured on the front page of Mashable, one of the largest blogs discussing social media and technology. By 6 pm, the study was the Number One and Two trending topic on Twitter. Later that evening, Kelly was interviewed by Robert Scoble, formerly of Fast Company and now an evangelist for Rackspace. And from there it went viral.

Google Pear Analytics today and you’ll see some 500 articles from everyone from the BBC to CNET to NBC.com to outlets worldwide writing about its study. It’s the sort of publicity a company would pay a big chunk of change to get.

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Besides pointing out the phenomenal “make or break” quality of social media, there’s a delicious irony to Pear’s story. Its study’s big news was that 40% of Twitter messages are what it cleverly called “pointless babble” with just 8.7% of Tweets to be deemed of value with worthwhile news content.

Of course, without Twitter, Pear’s study might have seen the fate of so many studies that end up unread and unreported. Nothing like soaring to prominence on a media you’re deflating.

What’s also fascinating about Pear’s story is that the company followed none of the traditional PR practices. No press release. No outreach to media. No loud announcement.

So what’s the secret to Pear’s PR success?

“I can attribute its success to a few things,” says Kelly, who was as surprised as anyone that the study took off and says “I know nothing about PR. One, by analyzing the Twitter stream and categorizing the content we did something no one else had done. Where, however, we really struck a chord was by labeling the most popular category “pointless babble.” I think if we would have named this something else, it may not have gone as far. Most of the news outlets used that phrase in their headlines.

“And lastly, I have to say we had a little luck that day in that no other major news happened that week–like Michael Jackson–that would have buried our news easily.”

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And we’ll add that he had the smarts to post this very not “pointless babble” on Twitter.

I’d love to hear what you think about the “Tweet” heard ’round the world and what it says about the practice of public relations?

Wendy Marx, PR and Personal Branding Specialist, Marx Communications

Technorati tags: twitter, Pear Analytics, public relations, social media

About the author

Wendy Marx is President of Marx Communications, an award-winning boutique B2B Public Relations agency known for turning companies and executives, including start-ups, into thought leaders. Follow her on Twitter @wendymarx and on Google+ @ plus.google.com/+wendymarx.

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