Tuesday, August 4, 2009, 11:11 AM

Tuesday's quick reads: car dealers & soda companies talk PR; word of mouth marketing takes off

1.) For Twitter, a tweet in time can avert a PR mess (The Wall Street Journal) -- A growing number of businesses are tracking social-media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter to gauge consumer sentiment and avert potential public-relations problems. Ford, PepsiCo, and Southwest Airlines, among others, are deploying software and assigning employees to monitor Internet postings and blogs. They're also assigning senior leaders to craft corporate strategies for social media.

2.) Car dealerships say PR push helped save them (The Chicago Tribune) -- Thomas McCaslin might never know for sure why General Motors called two weeks ago to say his 80-year-old dealership in the heart of Nebraska cattle country wouldn't close after all. He has a feeling that a hamburger cookout and an old-fashioned brand of political lobbying had something to do with it.

3.) Word of mouth marketing hits $1.5 billion (AdWeek) -- Now that's a lot of chatter. Spending behind word-of-mouth marketing hit $1.54 billion last year, according to PQ Media.

4.) How to pitch USA Today's bloggers (Ragan) -- USA Today’s blogs serve a triple purpose, says Chet Czarniak, the paper’s online managing editor. “They’re for surveillance—connecting the readers to the story,” and ensuring online readers can dig deeper into news, Czarniak explains. Second, blogs are for “getting ahead of a story,” or breaking news in a way that’s not practical or fast enough for print or elsewhere online.

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