WordWrite Storytelling Blog

In 2018, Effective Communications Strategies Aren't One Size Fits All

Posted by Hollie Geitner

Man leaning over hip-looking desk and working on his laptop.

Facebook Live, IGTV, Twitter chats, LinkedIn groups … all of these are good and legitimate ways to reach certain audiences — perhaps even your intended audience. Especially if you have a consumer product geared towards a Millennial. 

But, what if your audience is a niche market? What if your prospects aren’t Millennials, aren’t on social media regularly and have no clue what IGTV is?

With rampant information overload today, finding creative ways to communicate to people where they are makes sense. Celebrities and politicians are praised for letting us into their personal lives through social media. When we see glimpses of a senator playing with a new puppy on Instagram or an actor hosting a Q&A on Twitter, we relate to them. This is their way of marketing themselves. For businesses, having a fresh, unconventional and diverse content marketing strategy (focused mainly on reaching Millennials) is key.

For the B2B company with a niche market wondering — are these same tactics right for us? Will hosting a Twitter Q&A take us to the next level? The simple answer is no. Your CEO is not Brad Pitt, and the people most likely to buy your product or service probably aren’t hanging out on Twitter. This is not to say that you shouldn’t maintain an active presence on social media — it’s simply to say that you should walk before you run — and make sure you have the proper shoes and a roadmap before getting started.

More Tools Doesn’t Equal Better Tools

The great news is that we have more tools for companies and executives to share their stories. The bad news is that we have more tools for executives to share their stories.

In our experience working with B2B companies of all sizes around the United States, we know that busy executives want results and if someone tells them a Twitter chat is where it’s at, they just might believe it — because why not? That’s what the celebrities do, right? Here’s the thing, what works for one person, one company or one organization is not necessarily what is right for you.

In fact, in a niche business, I would go so far to say that these tools aren’t where you should be telling your story or sharing your message, at least initially. First things first, determine what your story actually is — decide what differentiates you from the competition.

Sometimes the idea of all the flashy tools takes away from where the real focus should be — building relationships with the right people.

A compelling story for your business may not need to be shouted from the rooftop, but rather shared in your living room during an intimate cocktail reception with your top sales prospects.

All too often, we meet folks who think to “get out there” they need to be on every cool new platform, so they hire a firm to get them set up and then six months later, those very platforms sit vacant — devoid of content or conversation. It’s a lot of work to build up a loyal following on many platforms — and it’s a requirement before even attempting to get “celebrity-level” results.

What Your Business Should Do

The alternatives are:

  • Go where your prospects are (PR and media relations)
  • Begin a strategy that brings them to you (inbound marketing)

Or, you can do both.

If you sell machinery parts to the automotive industry or provide a very specialized consulting service to owners of manufacturing companies, your potential customers are likely reading industry publications and business-focused weekly newspapers. They may be reading them online. But that’s what they’re reading. Or, they might even participate in group discussions on LinkedIn. It’s highly unlikely they are spending a chunk of their day following hashtags on Twitter.

Focus your public relations efforts on building relationships with reporters and editors who write about what you do or the industry you sell to. Go to networking events. Don’t oversell — just listen and be helpful. You want those influencers to know you’re there, but not because you’ve come in shouting your company name to everyone in the room.

Turn your marketing efforts inside out. Instead of blasting out your messages to everyone, create compelling content and a reason for the right people to find you. In our industry, this is called Inbound Marketing. You can download our whitepaper, Inbound Marketing 101to learn more.

As you consider the best public relations and marketing strategy for your business, trust your gut — not what a hip, consumer-focused ad agency executive tells you is the latest and greatest. Sometimes keeping things simple is best. Remember, you can’t go wrong if you go where your prospects are (the key is your prospects, not where the masses are) or if you build a solid strategy that will bring leads to you using inbound marketing.

We’d love to hear your marketing challenges to see if we can help you develop a customized strategy that connects you to the folks who matter for your business.

Get in touch with us today!


WordWrite Vice President, Client Services, Hollie GeitnerHollie Geitner is Vice President, Client Services at WordWrite Communications. You can get in touch with her via email at hollie.geitner@wordwritepr.com or follow her on Twitter at @JustHollieG.

 

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Topics: media relations, social media, public relations, B2B, B2C, measurement

The Keys to Measuring PR Success

Posted by Hollie Geitner

Graphs and data are set upon a table along with a laptop as two executives compare data and results.

Before embarking on any project, the general rule is to have clearly defined objectives and goals. Without them, the entire project is likely a waste of time and resources.

But, for many public relations projects or campaigns, goals are often meaningless because they are an afterthought rather than a key part of the initial planning.

Over the years, PR measurement has evolved for the better due in part to the power of social media and the emergence of sophisticated measurement tools. To our delight, gone are the days of manually counting clips and comparing an earned media placement to the equivalent of a purchased advertisement. Today, PR and social media professionals take a more holistic approach that evaluates both quantitative and qualitative data.

At WordWrite, we’ve adopted the industry standard, The Barcelona Principles, for tracking and measuring the success of our work on behalf of our clients. One of the principles (there are 7 total) is the total rejection of advertising value equivalents as a concept to value PR, media content or earned media. Obviously, this is a complete departure from the early days of PR measurement and we’re certainly grateful for that!

Instead, we look at three key categories:

  1. Outputs: materials or tactics to share a story (press release, news conference, media pitch, etc.)
  2. Outtakes: broad, accurate and compelling articulation of the story and messaging, as evidenced by quality and quantity of media coverage, increased visibility
  3. Outcomes: identified metrics that tie back to a business objective

Drilling down within those areas, there are many metrics you can choose to measure. What’s most important is to identify ones that closely tie back to your business goals whenever possible. Some of our most successful client engagements were the result of being aligned with the marketing department. Our metrics overlapped, telling a more complete story for leadership, further reinforcing ROI.

Once you’ve chosen the metrics, establish your baseline and create a document to track progress. On a weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly basis, review the data and course correct if things aren’t progressing as you’d anticipated. Senior leadership will often only want to see quarterly or yearly data, but you’ll need to have your finger on the pulse of the project so frequent monitoring is key.

If you have a PR project in mind but aren’t sure how to measure success, we’d be happy to talk through your goals and help you create a simple way to track progress so you can demonstrate ROI for your company. 

Get in touch with us today!


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Hollie Geitner is Vice President, Client Services at WordWrite Communications. You can get in touch with her via email at hollie.geitner@wordwritepr.com or follow

her on Twitter at @JustHollieG.

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Topics: story, WordWrite Communications, public relations, analytics, measurement

Storytelling is universal & other things I learned on my Italian media tour

Posted by Beth Turnbull

Having the opportunity to travel the world as a college student is a truly remarkable experience. I recently had the good fortune to travel throughout central and northern Italy as part of an international media class. My journey throughout Rome, Assisi, Florence, Venice and Milan inspired me not only as a student, but as a professional.

Between pasta feasts and cultural excursions, we visited a variety of media-related businesses including a newspaper, radio station, public relations firm, advertising agency, publishing company and some internal media operations.

With one foot in the academic world and one foot in the working world, I sometimes limit myself from learning abStudents sitting around a conference table as a man at the head of the table leads a group discussion.out other communications fields. But when you’re working in an agency setting, it is a good idea to see what the rest of the industry is up to from time to time and this trip gave me the platform to do just that.

We covered a lot of ground in two weeks, so here are some highlights.

Making something small big

One of the companies that captured my attention in Rome was Art Attack, an advertising agency within the Arkage Group.

We spoke with Claudio Ciatti, managing partner and founder; Federico Giuntella, chief customer experience officer; and Mario Feliziani, creative director – all of whom were incredibly passionate about their work. (I think some days we could all use a little more passion for our work.)

They spoke to us about authenticity in advertising, the ways in which data helps inspire creativity and how content marketing should be inherently personal.

One stand-out piece of advice Mario shared was this, “never think you are doing something small, because if you do your job well, it can be something big.”

Storytelling is a universal language

Our last morning in Rome we visited Enel, an international power company that is making strides when it comes to renewable energy.

We spoke with their Head of Internal Media – Ivano Ferioli – about building company culture, developing a brand charact

er and how to keep employees across the globe informed and engaged, something we strive to do for our clients here at WordWrite.

 

Students looking at slideshow image showing how the right and left brain work together to combine data and creativity.

Enel has an internal media mix consisting of an intranet, e-channel (TV), email, e-radio and vertical web platforms. All this to comm

unicate company news to their offices across the world from Tel Aviv to Boston. How many American-based companies do you know that have a full-scale TV studio in their building?

Ivano laid out the editorial pillars of Enel’s content, stressing that it must be: informative, timely, well-formatted, tell a story and free from external bias.

See? Storytelling is a key player, even across the ocean.And you can rarely go wrong with high-quality, organized content.

 

Great ideas can come from unexpected places

Our next set of media visits took place in the lovely city of Milan – Italy’s fashion and business capital. We had the opportunity to visit the Milan branch of public relations agency Burson-Marsteller (soon to be Burson Cohn & Wolfe) and speak with CEO Fabio Caporizzi along with a host of other talented communicators.

I was fascinated to learn that most of the agency’s work is conducted in English. Fabio told us, “we think in Italian, but we work in English.” He stressed the fact that the Italian market is often overlooked, but they are just as capable as other countries when it comes to creating great campaigns.

Elena Silva of Cohen & Wolfe presents a case study relating to brand development.

In the American market, it’s easy to overlook the small, boutique agency and praise the giants of PR. But just like the Italian market, those small agencies, like WordWrite, have a lot to offer the industry.

We are in an exciting world as PR professionals in 2018. The industry is always growing and changing, and we should make every effort to nurture our knowledge and passion for our work.

And hey, if you need a trip to Italy to do that, I won’t stop you.

 

 

 


 

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Beth Turnbull is an intern at WordWrite Communications. You can email her at beth.turnbull@wordwritepr.com or tweet her at @thebethturnbull to learn more about her trip to Italy.

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Topics: media relations, WordWrite Communications, public relations, internal communications, traditional PR, Italy

Canceling Roseanne: did ABC make the right call?

Posted by Paul Furiga

 

One of the most popular sitcoms in the 1990s, “Roseanne” was also one of several beloved shows to return to our television screens this fall after a long hiatus. ABC had struggled over the years to create blockbuster shows, and bringing back “Roseanne” was its Hail Mary.

As a network, ABC has tried to be as diverse and inclusive in its programming as possible, with shows like BlackishOff the Boat and Modern Family appealing to a variety of demographics based upon gender, race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation and economic status.

The “Roseanne” revival premiered to huge ratings, as roughly 18 million live viewers tuned into the first episode, making it one of ABC’s highest rated new shows.

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With such monumental success, it came as a shock to many when ABC suddenly canceled the new show. The cancelation was the result of racist statements made by Roseanne Barr on Twitter.

Was it right for ABC to pull the plug?

Ultimately, yes. Since the return of the show, Roseanne’s personal social media activity has been part of a larger pattern, and this specific tweet was more than the network could bear in reputation damage. The “Roseanne” revival was supposed to be the centerpiece of the ABC schedule, not a millstone that could cost the network advertisers as well as viewers.

This behavior is nothing new, as we’ve seen similar situations play out with other celebrities. The network executives had pretty clear choices: act now or suffer a public outcry for some extended period of time and wind up taking a similar step anyway.

What should Roseanne do next?

It is time for a major retooling of Roseanne and her brand, starting off with a period of silence to clear the air. After a brief break from the public eye, there are four steps Roseanne should take.

  1. Express regret for her actions. This was initially done on Twitter.
  2. Establish the response she will take in order to demonstrate she’s not racist.
  3. Clearly indicate how her actions will be different in the future.
  4. Reassure the public that her behavior is truly different through actions that can be judged as authentic and sincere.

When ABC decided to bring Roseanne back into the fold, they should have known to prepare themselves for a potential crisis. Failure to prepare led to a decision that, while ultimately swift and correct, cost many people their jobs. [Note: ABC has been in talks to bring the rest of the family back for a spin-off sitcom, however nothing has been confirmed.] Crisis planning is always best done on a sunny day, not when it’s already raining.

Want to talk crisis planning? Click below for our Guide to Crisis and Media Training.I want my crisis and media training guide!


Paul Furiga is President and CEO at WordWrite Communications. He can be followed on Twitter at @paulfuriga. WordWrite_chief_storyteller_Paul_Furiga_2015

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Topics: social media, crisis communications

EMS Week: A Conversation with Jeff Kelly, Cranberry Township EMS director

Posted by Beth Turnbull

EMS Worker

Can you think of the last time you called an ambulance? Chances are, it was probably a bit of a scary situation. Whether for a broken leg or something more serious, nobody wants to be in that position. However, one thing is sure: you can rest assured knowing you’re in the capable hands of an EMS worker. These medical professionals offer lifesaving services and are considered medicine’s front line. While a vital service for many, few really recognize how important their services are.

National EMS Week, established by The American College of Emergency Physicians, aims to shine a light on the work these professionals offer to their communities on a day-to-day basis. While the situations are oftentimes high stakes, they always work to provide the highest quality of care. In honor of National EMS Week, we spoke to a local EMS professional to learn more about the work he and many others do on a regular basis and how you can support your local EMS department to be “Stronger Together.”

Cranberry EMS director, Jeff Kelly
Photo courtesy of the Cranberry Patch.

When Jeff Kelly first set his sights on becoming the director of Cranberry EMS, Cranberry’s Emergency Medical Services reputation was less than stellar. Kelly took those obstacles and looked at them as opportunities to grow the program. Now, seven years later Kelly is continuing his public outreach and striving to strengthen his community’s medical services.

WordWrite: Could you tell us why you became an EMT? 

Jeff Kelly: I have been affiliated with the Volunteer Fire Service since I was 16 years old. I went away to college for Sports Medicine and Athletic Training. While there, an emergency took place that required the EMS to come and stabilize the patient and then transport them to the hospital. I decided then that I wanted to become an EMT. I then acquired my EMT certification through CCAC in December of 1993.

WW: Is there a difference between an EMT and paramedic? If so, can you explain?

JK: There is a difference and it revolves mostly around the clinical skills that each possesses. An EMT goes through approximately 140-200 hours of classroom training prior to being eligible to sit for the National Registry Exam. Conversely, a Paramedic program is over 2,000 hours and has the following in its curriculum: advanced clinical skills (intubation, defibrillation, cardioversion, advance airway and IV skills) but also more in-depth knowledge of cardiology, pharmacology, anatomy & physiology, respiratory, neurology, trauma and other acute medical emergencies. The paramedic curriculum is made up of classroom, clinical and “ride along” truck time in which the precepting student must perform a standard number of skills prior to being eligible for the National Registry Exam.

WW: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

JK: The most rewarding part is knowing that someone is alive today because of my actions. There is no greater feeling, in my opinion, than knowing someone is alive because of the direct impact my clinical care had on them. 

WW: What is the biggest challenge your organization faces? Or, the industry as a whole?

JK: Currently there are many challenges within the industry. The three most discussed are reimbursement, recruitment and retention. Reimbursement from all payers (Medicare, Medicaid, commercial insurers) is far below the costs of staffing and responding an ambulance. Recruitment is much more difficult now than it was previously because EMTs and paramedics now have greater choices with which to use their skills. EMS is currently competing with other industries like gas & oil wells, urgent cares, even hospitals and doctors’ offices, for the people who possess this unique skill set. When I started in EMS, EMTs and Paramedics were only expected to work in the back of an ambulance. Today that is not the case. Which leads us to the third issue, retention. As an EMS manager, my team and I are continuously trying to come up with ways to keep the folks that we have not – just at our service, but within our industry.

WW: Could you tell us about the most memorable moment in your career?

JK: My EMS career has been filled with quite a few memorable moments, unfortunately, many more are bad than good. I have seen many things that are very hard to “unsee.” That said, I have also been witness to many miracles of patients who have made brilliant recoveries. The memorable moments for me are when I can either directly see, or receive feedback from a patient or patient’s family of what an excellent job we have done. I don’t get to work in the back of the ambulance much anymore and I do certainly miss the interaction with the folks who call EMS.

WW: What is one issue you have today that wasn’t a concern 10 or 15 years ago?

JK: Recruitment of people into the industry is a much more widespread problem than 10 or 15 years ago. Without people wanting to do this job, and younger folks not entering the profession, we are burning out our seasoned providers and threatening the very services that we provide the community. 

WW: What do you wish more people knew or understood about EMS professionals/volunteers?

JK: I would encourage folks to get out and meet their EMS providers. I would more strongly encourage the EMS providers to engage the public so that you can educate them as to what EMS does and can do for them. EMS can be a rewarding job with a lifetime of memories and great clinical experiences. You see all sides of people and can experience the highest of highs like assisting with a baby delivery, to the lowest of lows like losing a pediatric patient, all in the same shift. It is a stressful job, but one that we need people to understand and support. I would also like to add that what happens in the real world is completely different than what you might see on TV or in a movie. 

WW: What is one powerful way the community can support EMS?

JK: There is always a need for financial support. However, I think the best way to support your local EMS organization is to reach out to them. Ask to come visit at an open house or have them come to your location for a site visit to begin a dialogue about what EMS is, does and how it can benefit everyone within a community.

Beth Turnbull is an intern at WordWrite Communications. She can be reached via email at beth.turnbull@wordwritepr.com or on Twitter at @thebethturnbull.

Beth Turnbull

 

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Topics: writing, community, EMS Week

Writing What You Don't Know

Posted by Beth Turnbull

Crumpled paper, coffee and a blank sheet of paper - an all too familiar indicator of writer's block.

There’s an old saying in the literary community, “write what you know.” Ideally, writers across our industry—bloggers, content marketers, social media managers— would be able to follow that advice. But in reality, there will be more times than not that you are asked to cover a topic you have very little knowledge of or interest in. This doesn’t make you less-qualified, no one is an expert in everything. It would be impossible.

A diverse mix of projects fall into your lap as a PR professional, and you have to be able to execute them the best you can. Maybe a new client that specializes in high-tech medical equipment just came on your radar. Maybe you failed math in high school and were just asked to write about new accounting practices. Before you give up, remember: the topic won’t matter if you’re already a talented writer.

But how do you fake it ‘til you make it when it comes to these intimidating writing projects?

  • Do your research.Getting started is always the hardest part; use a quick Google search to get going. You can gather information from trade publications, read similar articles for inspiration, and identify facts and statistics that will strengthen your piece. You might even learn something! And being able to explain continuous covenant operations to your friends over dinner is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
  • Reach out to an expert. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Go through your LinkedIn connections (maybe even some Facebook friends) and see if anyone happens to be an expert in your topic. Social media is your friend here. Industry experts can give you information that you might not have found on your own, helping you craft a unique and original piece.
  • Get a second or third (or fourth) opinion. Your research has no doubt helped you craft something you’re proud of, given the circumstances. But unfortunately, you are still not an expert. Have a trusted co-worker (or several) fact check and proofread your work. Your co-workers are there to support you and someone will likely be able to offer insight.

Writing is a skill like any other and it presents its own set of challenges. Remember to stay calm, ask questions, and trust in your ability as a writer. You may not always be able to write what you know, but at least you’ll know what to do.

Need help generating written content for your business? Reach out to the WordWrite team today.

Get in touch with us today!


 

Beth Turnbull is an intern at WordWrite Communications. She's a senior at Point Park University and will graduate in December 2018.
You can reach her at beth.turnbull@wordwritepr.com and on Twitter @thebethturnbull. 

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Topics: public relations, B2B, internal communications, blogging, storytelling, strategic communications, B2C, writing

What Twitter's data security mishap means for you

Posted by Louis Spanos

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Social media has been a hectic landscape as of late. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal, all organizations that deal with sensitive user data have been much more careful than usual.

On Thursday, May 3, Twitter announced it had discovered a bug that stored passwords that unmasked all its 336 million accounts. As a precaution, Twitter suggests all users change their passwords.

The social network has made it very clear that this is not a data breach, but a precautionary step. Twitter says it has no reason to believe that anyone had access to the data, but suggests users change passwords as a precautionary measure. But what does this all mean?

How were the passwords revealed?

Twitter has an internal log that stores all account information, such as passwords and other sensitive user data. Passwords are hidden to the eye of the standard worker using a program that causes the password to be ‘masked’ behind random characters that amount to the same length as the user password.

For example, if your password was pass123!, the information could be displayed as a random selection of numbers, letters and characters such as 7@dajge6. However, the bug would instead cause the password to plainly display as pass123!, presenting a security hazard.

So now what?

Since the passwords weren’t leaked, you could technically keep your password and be safe. However, in today’s world where there’s a new data breach every other day, we suggest you change your password for Twitter (or, we can handle for you!).

This is also a great time to upgrade your cybersecurity measures – is your Twitter password a standard password you use across other accounts? Whether it be social media or clouds with highly-sensitive data, you might want to rethink your strategy and dedicate time to fortifying your cyber barricades. Here’s a few suggestions to get your security measures into tip-top shape:

  • Use as many different types of characters as possible.This means upper-case, lower-case, numbers and other symbols that the service will recognize. The more variance, the harder your password will be to crack.
  • Use different passwords across accounts.This tip has been around for ages, but it’s especially true now. Having the same password across accounts is essentially an invitation for a hacker to take a dive into all of your platforms.
  • Use a password manager.It’s hard to keep track of intricate passwords, especially those that are randomly-generated. How many times have you had issues trying to input a WiFi password? This is why a password manager is so handy – it keeps track of all of your password data in one safe and secure place.
  • Make use of two-step verification procedures.As hackings have become all too common, many service organizations have introduced the option of two-step verification for users. Two-step verification is much harder for hackers to crack – it requires human input of data that a machine can’t identify or work around. Twitter and other social media sites offer the option of two-step verification for sign-ins.

If you have any questions, concerns or would like assistance in tending to your company’s social media security, the WordWrite team is here to help.

Contact us to learn more!

 

 

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Louis Spanos is an Assistant Account Executive at WordWrite Communications. Contact him to learn more about social media safety and security at louis.spanos@wordwritepr.com 

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Topics: social media, LinkedIn, facebook, instagram, Twitter, security, cybersecurity, data

Allegiant Airlines missed the boat (er, plane?) in telling its story

Posted by Hollie Geitner

Allegiant Airlines, the Las-Vegas based budget airline, is currently under fire after 60 Minutes aired an investigative report about poor safety ratings relating to its use of the MD-80 aircraft and centered on a culture that allegedly put safety behind profits.

The fallout has been swift and powerful. Shares of the airline fell 3 percent just one day after the story aired. Many vowed on social media to never fly the airline again after sharing the news story with their followers. Experts and consultants have taken a more “wait and see approach” and some have gone on record saying peoples’ love of travel and their need for low-cost flight options will outweigh any serious financial harm to the company. It’s clear, however, Allegiant has suffered serious reputational damage that could last long after the social chatter dies down.Allegiant_Air_-_N418NV_(8215677315)-2

While the airline has publicly responded harshly to the news story, going so far as to have its top executives declare in a statement that the 60 Minutes piece is “false narrative,” they are losing the PR battle.

Let’s face it, investigative journalism is nothing new – think Woodward and Bernstein of the Washington Post who uncovered the Watergate crimes that resulted in the indictments of 40 administrative officials and the historic resignation of President Richard Nixon. Or, more recently, the Boston Globe’s investigation into cover ups by the Catholic Church of sexual abuse by priests, a story brought to life in the critically acclaimed 2015 movie, Spotlight.

If Hollywood movies are made of such investigative pieces, it’s obvious that much work goes into putting the reports together in the first place. In a news story, CBS News indicated the 60 Minutes Allegiant investigation was done over seven months. Executives at the airline surely weren’t surprised by the story. They declined CBS’ request for participation and instead provided a brief statement before the story aired.

So, what could the leaders at Allegiant have done instead? Let’s review a few communications options that might have balanced the story and portrayed them in a more positive light.

1. Allegiant could have participated in the story. 

It’s never an easy decision to join a conversation with a news organization that seems to have pre-written a story — even identifying their villain. However, by not sharing its side of the story, Allegiant allowed only one side to be shared. Crisis media training to prep for tough but necessary interviews is worth the time and financial investment and Allegiant clearly had the time to prepare. There are consultants and trainers, many of them former journalists, who focus on helping executives learn the ins and outs of interviewing, especially in high-stakes situations.

2. Allegiant could have gotten in front of the story. 

If they knew the premise of the investigation and the direction of the story, Allegiant executives could have gathered their facts, prepared messaging and pre-empted 60 Minutes by reaching out to a CBS competitor and offering their side. While it seems a stretch, and maybe even impractical, this could have been an opportunity to announce Allegiant was planning to speed up the planned retirement of the jets in question. Since Allegiant’s safety record significantly improved as more of these jets were retired, this would have provided a new story line and one that focused on the very near future rather than the past record.

3. Allegiant could have responded in person.

It’s not a surprise to us that Allegiant’s internal memo to employees about the 60 Minutes story was leaked to the media and shared in its entirety. Allegiant’s external response and internal memo should have complemented each other and been timed more appropriately. Additionally, a written statement, while a useful method of responding in some situations, might not have been the best choice in this instance. When talking about safety, especially when it’s not in direct response to a lawsuit, putting a human face and voice to a statement through a video or a speech has much more impact than words on paper. This would have helped convey proper tone, authenticity and transparency of Allegiant’s leadership. Instead, they appeared bitter and defensive. Not the best image.

In this case, the crisis was known, and even if it wasn’t, it could have been predicted and planned for in a crisis communications plan. Maybe they did have one – in fact, it would be shocking to believe they didn’t. What is also shocking is how they’ve responded to a negative news story they’ve known about for several months. If there’s anything to be learned from this example, it’s to take advantage of information, coordinate messaging and to manage the situation in person, not just via written statements. There is nothing to be gained in hiding behind a paragraph when talking about peoples’ lives.

Want to talk about crisis planning? Click below for our Guide to Crisis and Media Training.


I want my crisis and media training guide!

 

Hollie Geitner is Vice President, Client Services at WordWrite. She can be reached at hollie.geitner@wordwritepr.comHollie

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Topics: story, public relations, crisis communications

Successful brand journalism: It’s all about great storytelling

Posted by Paul Furiga

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Why are so many organizations creating brand journalism platforms in the 21st century?

The most important reason is this: Great journalism is, at its heart, great storytelling. So successful “brand journalism,” must also, even if it is backed by a brand or a product or destination or a concept or an idea must still, at its essence, be great storytelling.

Thanks to social media, while the tools of technology make even shorter bursts of communication possible (think of Twitter or Instagram), information overload has made us even hungrier than we’ve ever been for a strong, connected narrative.

The mistake many organizations make is assuming that short bursts of communication are sufficient. The new technology has actually freed up the opportunity to create long-form, rewarding narratives – to become your own publisher! And that’s where organizations really need to be focusing their content marketing. This is brand journalism — the natural and powerful evolution of this technology.

At its core, all storytelling is about making connections. That’s what the great storytellers do. That’s what great brand journalism does. Successful brand journalism shares great stories AND engages its target audiences in a way that builds community and leads to even more shared storytelling.

A successful brand journalism platform is a home for information, knowledge and context. It doesn’t sell as much as it informs. And by making a comfortable, engaging home for information, for education, even fun, a successful brand journalism platform becomes an attractive cyber watering hole and a hangout that provides immense benefit to its publishing organization.

As Maria Perez, director of online content for PR Newswire put it a few years ago, “Consumers want more from companies than just products and services – they want to know companies care about them, about their goals, their dreams, and their lives. When done right, brand journalism allows companies to connect with consumers more personally than through a traditional ad.”

This is why companies ranging from Airbnb to Lowe’s are investing in brand journalism.

At Airbnb’s online brand journalism platform, travelers are encouraged to share their own travel stories. This invitation to share pictures, videos, travelogues, etc. is at the very heart of the brand journalism goal of creating a community. The Stories section of the Airbnb website doesn’t sell Airbnb; it shares the fun and the experiences of travel through sometimes funny often poignant user-generated content that’s curated by Airbnb.

Lowe’s uses its brand journalism platform to become a font of home improvement knowledge, with a how-to library and a YouTube channel of how-to video. Most homeowners who watch a Lowe’s video on sink repair will probably learn something useful. Not all of them will head off to Lowe’s for the necessary supplies. A fair number undoubtedly will – and those that don’t will still be left with the impression that Lowe’s has built a good online watering hole for home improvement knowledge.

Brand journalism offers the opportunity to make a self-publisher into a thought leader, resource and trusted advisor.

At WordWrite, we believe that if you can’t do something for yourself, you can’t do it for someone else. So as the traditional news media continues to evolve because of competition from non-traditional sources and other pressures, WordWrite started its own brand journalism platform.

The Pittsburgh 100 is part of a national brand journalism network of more than 20 regional publications, ranging from Alaska to Dallas and Dubai. Based upon focus group research of executives, the network’s publications focus on stories of exactly 100 words and videos of exactly 100 seconds. The Pittsburgh 100, published 25 times a year, provides a consistent journalistic platform to share the thought leadership of clients while at the same time providing a broad perspective on the local community from coffee shops to events, personalities and restaurants.

To promote our brand journalism platform, we maximize social media, where we post to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. We’ve built great relationships on social with local businesses.

Is brand journalism a replacement for journalism itself? As a firm founded by journalists, and a team of PR pros who work with journalists every day, our answer is a firm “no.”

As a team of communications professionals committed to creating true engagement by building attractive cyber watering holes and hangouts that provide benefit to their sponsors and to the communities they serve, we believe there’s room in the 21st century for journalism and brand journalism.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments.


Paul Furiga is President and CEO at WordWrite Communications. He can be followed on Twitter at @paulfuriga. paulfurigawordwrite

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Topics: storytelling, content marketing, content creation, strategic communications, brand journalism

Growing your audience with a center of influence PR strategy

Posted by Hollie Geitner

HubSpot’s 2018 State of Inbound report found that 63% of companies view generating traffic and leads as their biggest marketing challenge.

Many of our clients and those we talk to regularly have expressed similar frustrations, asking:

“How do I connect with my target audience when there is so much noise out there?”

It’s a reasonable question. Traditional advertising is less effective than it once was, attention spans are shorter than ever, and newsrooms are shrinking by the day.

COI March WWr AS_26945006Perhaps it’s time to consider an alternative – communicating with your center of influence (COI), or those who directly impact the decisions of your end-users/end-buyers. In many cases, those are people or organizations you’ve been aware of but haven’t really invested the time or resources into just yet. These folks are actively looking for viable options for their clients (your ideal customers) and the sooner you make those influencers a priority, the sooner you may see results.

Consider builders or contractors who work closely with realtors, financial advisors who market to attorneys and accountants, manufacturers of safety products who communicate with risk management consultants… 

In most cases, this narrow COI audience is trusted by those who ultimately purchase or use your product or service. They are a good referral network, and in ideal scenarios, you might be able to do the same for them making it a beneficial relationship for all. In working with these groups, the key is not to sell, but to educate and inform. Offer something that helps them solve their clients’ unique challenges.

Identifying your COIs is only the first step, however. Just like your customers, you have to understand how the COIs operate, what they read, how they consume information and how they work with their own clients. Your outreach strategy might include social, digital and traditional marketing and your messaging will speak directly to them. You’ll need to tweak your customer messaging a bit, but it is well worth the effort.

The COI strategy is particularly helpful today as social media allows for highly targeted advertising focused on interests, key words, geographic location and industries served.

If you feel you’ve hit a plateau in your marketing efforts, it may be time to rethink your strategy and focus on your own COI network. Let us help you create and execute a strategy that generates more traffic and leads for your business.

Contact us to learn more!

 

Hollie Geitner is Vice President, Client Services at WordWrite. You can follow Hollie on Twitter @JustHollieG.Hollie

 

 

 

 

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Topics: marketing, center of influence