WordWrite Storytelling Blog

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

Stop stressing about the new Facebook algorithm

Posted by Louis Spanos

 

If you’re in the communications field in any way, shape or form, you’ve probably heard about the big change to Facebook’s algorithm.

Mark Zuckerberg is hoping these adjustments to the algorithm will be the first steps in correcting the less-than-perfect effects Facebook has had on our society. With this change, posts from friends will be given priority over those from business accounts. Instead of seeing an Old Navy carousel ad, you’ll be more likely to see what your roommate from college had for brunch. Facebook claims it wants you to connect with your friends again.

While this positioning sends a great message from Facebook, there’s another reason social media experts claim to be the true motivation behind the algorithm change: Facebook wants more ad dollars. With the update, advertisers will need to pay more to get the same impact while the organic reach of business pages will be decreased. There have been numerous opinion pieces published mourning the loss of organic social to Facebook’s pay-to-play system. Experts say as advertisers are forced to shell out more cash, the barrier to entry gets higher and higher

facebook-3-241232-editedThis announcement has been incredibly controversial, eliciting some strong reactions, but let’s all take a breath. While we love to use Facebook for ads, Mark Zuckerberg is right: Facebook has become less a place for friends and more a place to see new ads with each swipe on your phone. We also shouldn’t be shocked Facebook is making their advertising system more expensive; this change has been anticipated for years.

The good news for businesses? Organic social is not dead. Will it be harder to get the same impact you’re used to? Absolutely. However, if you’re already creating posts that follow best practices, you have nothing to worry about. Facebook is mainly targeting spam posts designed to cheat the algorithm or that don’t contribute to the conversation at large. The best way to protect your company is to create engaging content.

While I wish we could wave a wand and make your page audience like, comment and share your posts, we can’t. If we could, we’d do it ourselves. What we can do, however, is share a few strategies we’ve used to increase engagement.

  1. Have a set schedule for posts. If you consistently post between 1 and 3 p.m. on Wednesdays, stick to those time frames to keep your audience.
  2. Engage with other accounts. If you’re sharing content that’s either about a company or from someone else, tag their page to encourage the page to engage with your post. This is a good way to “nudge” them to like or even share the post. Their audience will then see your account, amplifying your reach.
  3. Plan content your audience wants. To make it simple, every piece of content you post needs to have a purpose. Whether it be to establish your company as a thought leader or educate the audience on the benefits of your goods or services, don’t post content just to post content. Create quality content your audience wants.

Ignore the alarms about the world being turned upside down with the latest Facebook algorithm update. If you’re already creating quality content your audience enjoys, then you don’t need to worry. If your content isn’t up to par, consider this a wake-up call.Spanos Headshot

Need help crafting quality content for your business? Reach out to the WordWrite team today.

Louis Spanos is an assistant account executive at WordWrite Communications. You can reach him at louis.spanos@wordwritepr.comSpanos HeadshotLouis_Spanos_headshot

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Topics: social media, B2B, facebook, content creation, algorithm change, B2C

Media relations: letting go of control

Posted by Hollie Geitner

As communicators, we have a natural tendency to want to control things – a message, a story, an interview, a planned event, etc. We’re also cynical by nature, not because we’re characteristically negative, but because we are trained to anticipate the “what-if’s” of any circumstance.

  • What if we get this question?
  • What if there is a fire?
  • What if production is halted?
  • What if someone is injured?
  • What if there is a natural disaster?
  • What if there is a lawsuit?
  • What if it fails?

AdobeStock_48659280 reducedThese are all things we’ve been faced with at one point or another in our combined nearly 150 years of working in crisis PR and media relations on behalf of our clients or employers. In general, we prefer to over-prepare rather than scramble because we haven’t thought things through thoroughly.

If there is one thing we’ve all learned through experience, it’s that being prepared is vitally important. So is being flexible and able to maneuver through unknowns. It's truly the key to success.

Recently, we were tested when we pitched a story on behalf of a client. We drafted a short pitch and sent it to a reporter with whom we’ve worked for many years and during his time at different publications. We know he’s seasoned and if he’s interested, he’ll let us know. He did almost sidebarimmediately.

Good news, right? Absolutely. But, we also know this reporter is very knowledgeable about the industry he covers and has a lot ofconnections for stories. Part of his interest was likely to add to his list of connections for future stories, which is smart on his part. For us, however, that meant we didn’t have any certainty he would indeed write a story, despite his interest in speaking with our client.

So, we worked with the client to get contact information and availability for the two company leaders, representatives of a company that had commissioned a survey related to the pitch and a supporter/board member and shared it all with the reporter. He promptly thanked us, but still, no confirmation of a story.  

At that point, we could only assist. Control was officially out of our hands.

About two weeks later on a cold Sunday morning, we saw it. Front page, Business section, a beautiful story about the company we’d pitched, complete with a photo. The next day, the same story was posted on the paper’s website.

The takeaway of this example? To steal from a well-known movie my daughter absolutely loves, sometimes you just have to let it go. Resist all urge to control and simply trust. Trust that you’ve done a good job in preparing and trust in the reporter doing his/her job to the best of their ability. There is no “secret media relations tip to guarantee coverage.” If we told you that, we’d be lying and that’s not who we are.

It’s quite simply a matter of knowing your audience, managing expectations and trusting that it will work out the way it’s supposed to. If the journalist had only spoken to the client and not written a story, that would have been a success too. At the end of the day, we work in media and public relations. We’re not scientists or doctors. If we make connections with people who may not have known each other prior to our introduction, that’s success. Click below to download our guide and learn more about how we develop meaningful media relationships at WordWrite.

Download my media relationship guide! 

Hollie Geitner is vice president, client services at WordWrite. Follow her on Twitter @JustHollieG

Hollie

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Topics: media relations, public relations

Business goals and New Year resolutions: 4 tips to stay on track in 2018

Posted by Hollie Geitner

Serious question – did you set a resolution for 2018? Have you been successful so far? Be honest. According to Statistic Brain, 41 percent of Americans usually make a New Year’s resolution and of those 42.4 percent fail completely. In fact, only 8 percent of people actually succeed at all.

Every January, people flock to the gym hoping to lose weight, get fit and live healthier. By the end of the month, more than half of those gym-goers have thrown in the towel, reverting to their previous year’s habits. But, ready for the good news? Those who make a resolution are 10 times more likely to be successful than those who never commit at all.

A survey conducted by Statista revealed, not surprisingly, the most common 2018 aspirations are: lose weight, eat healthier and save more money. Sounds pretty admirable, right? As I sat down to write out my own goals and resolutions for the year, it occurred to me how much of what we do in PR and media relations is like a resolution for some companies. Oftentimes, there is a lofty goal (more media coverage, more attendance at an event, etc.), however, much less time or financial investment is devoted to achieving those goals. And, because of that, they fail.

So, let’s take a look at what makes resolutions successful and how those can translate to marketing and PR goals for the year.

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1. Specific Goals

Whether it’s losing weight or connecting with influencers, you need to be specific in what you actually want to achieve and what you consider a success. If you have a product you’d like to get out in front of social influencers, your goal could be:

Connect with 12 bloggers and marketing influencers in [industry] who will review or write about [product name.]

2. Measurement

You may have heard the saying, “if you can measure it, you can change it.” And, that’s certainly true. Once you know what you want to achieve, figure out how you’re going to measure progress. Say you want to use social media to attract more potential clients. You might measure your success along the way in terms of forms filled out via a landing page, engagement from your audience on your social channels or tracking how people found out about your business.

3. Patience and Perseverance 

Depending upon your goal, it’s highly unlikely you’ll reach it overnight. If you want more earned media in 2018, understand that this takes time. It’s not like purchasing an ad and waiting for calls to come in, which hardly ever happens either. You have to craft your story and devise a plan to share it with those who matter while building relationships along the way. Sometimes, you’ll come across roadblocks or get frustrated because things don’t turn out exactly as you’d have liked. Persistence is key. Look at the bigger picture and make necessary changes. Maybe messaging needs tweaked or the timing needs to be adjusted. Small setbacks do not equal failure. It’s simply a part of the process and why we always encourage clients looking for earned media to have a long-term plan rather than focus on quick projects.

4. Reward Success

Celebrating small wins and victories is crucial to the process. Don’t wait until the end when the main goal has been achieved, chose critical points along the way and celebrate sticking to the plan. This can provide much-needed motivation when things get difficult – and they will.

In short, as you look ahead to your goals for 2018, keep these tips in mind to be in the elite 8 percent of people who keep their resolutions and make positive changes.         

Our friends at HubSpot created this marketing planning template to help you align your marketing efforts with SMART goals. Download it below!

Here’s to a great year!

Download your free SMART marketing goals template

 

Hollie Geitner is vice president, client services for WordWrite Communications.You can find her on Twitter @JustHollieGHollie.jpeg

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Topics: public relations, marketing, goals

New year. New Facebook policy that affects you.

Posted by Noah Fleming

Facebook had an interesting year in 2017, from hitting 2 billion monthly users to having to testify at congressional hearings to explain how Russia was able to purchase Facebook ads in an attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Whether you have been following this story or not, Facebook has already begun taking the necessary steps to fix the spreading of “fake news” and made updates across the platform. You can read more about each of the updates in 2017 here.fullsizeoutput_78.jpg

The policy that’s the focus of this blog post is the new Domain Verification Policy that will be implemented in “early 2018” from what we’ve been told by Facebook. Now why does this matter to your Facebook content marketing strategy? Here’s the Facebook version.

“We’re always working to limit the spread of false news on Facebook in order to support a more informed community. Last month we shared an update on why we’re removing the ability to modify shared link previews on Facebook. Starting today non-publisher Pages will no longer be able to overwrite link metadata (i.e. headline, description, image) … This will help eliminate a channel that has been abused to post false news. Impacted Pages can still program and preview how their link attachments will appear on Facebook using Open Graph tags and our Sharing Debugger.” There’s more in this blog post.

The short version: when you are scheduling Facebook content that comes from your website or client’s website, you will no longer be able to update the preview link, header text, or the image associated with the content. Whatever pops up from the link will be what you have to post.

How do you fix this?

To reclaim your content freedom (and prove you’re not posting fake news), you will have to verify your domain. If you are an agency, you will have to verify the partnership between your client’s business manager account and your own account to continue to update these essential features moving forward.

You have two different options that you can share with your IT department, web developer or whoever may have access to your web host (say GoDaddy.com for example). Facebook provides a step-by-step process to complete this change. You can find it here.

fullsizeoutput_79.jpgIf you are a business and already have a business manager account, you are all set and will be able to continue posting great content!

However, if you are an agency posting on behalf of a client, you’ll have to take a few more steps to complete the process. If your client already has a business manager page, you will need to work with their team and have them “assign” you as a partner. If they don’t have one, you will need to work with them to create one and then follow the steps at the link.

Some key takeaways here:

  • Understand why Facebook is implementing this policy and when it will happen.
  • Be proactive and follow policy updates as we move into 2018. We suspect there will be more information early on in Q1.
  • Take the “sooner rather than later” approach through the domain verification process. It will save you the headache when it officially rolls out.

 

Noah Fleming is digital and inbound marketing specialist at WordWrite. You can reach him at noah.fleming@wordwritepr.com.Noah headshot photo.jpeg

 

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Topics: facebook, content creation

Top lessons from the 2017 IABC Heritage Region Student Conference

Posted by Nicole Gittman

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the IABC Heritage Region Student Conference. The speakers covered a variety of topics to help me understand why I've made certain decisions so far in my life and how I can apply all that I’ve learned to the work world.

It can take years of trial and error to find out who you really are. When I was little, I dreamed of being a veterinarian, but here I am now as a college senior, majoring in public relations at Slippery Rock University. So, what changed? I did.

The real-world experience that the workplace provides enhances our skills so we can make an informed career decision. I learned that as much as I love animals, a medical field was not for me. My eagerness to make a difference still pushed me to pursue a career where I’d have the ability to do so via storytelling and working with the media. The IABC speakers explained how to stand out using skills like crisis management and how networking can positively impact your life and the world.

Standing out

Steve Radick, VP of Brunner, and Paul Furiga, CEO of WordWrite Communications, both explained the importance of differentiating yourself from the crowd. There is no other person with the same unique qualities and skills as you. You are your own brand that you’re trying to market to potential employers, so it is up to you to make sure these professionals see your value.

Paul explained how instead of focusing on asking for a job right away, you should engage in a casual conversation about the industry. Be sure to also ask “how” questions. This is the equivalent of asking the professional’s opinion, allowing your contact to be the expert. These questions give you the opportunity to add your own opinion and ideas to the conversation so you can stand out.

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Instead of immediately asking an employer if they’re hiring, send a message and connect with them on LinkedIn. If you enjoyed a recent blog post of theirs, include that in the message! For example, you can say,

“Hello Ms. Rectenwald. I read your blog post about how to share your nonprofit’s story with the media and loved it! How did you become involved with nonprofit PR?”

This not only compliments another professional’s work, but includes a “how” question to start a conversation with the connection.

During the session, Steve asked, “What makes you, you? What makes you different from everyone else out there? As I tell my clients, sometimes different is better than better."

It finally occurred to me that not only will my competition have a degree, they’ll also have extra-curricular activities, job experience and professional recommendations—so how can I prove to a potential employer that I’m different? By proving that I’m different from the other candidates.

Steve shared a story of how he interviewed one intern candidate that had “Student Jeopardy” on his resume. Did this have anything to do with public relations, marketing or advertising? No, but this told Steve about the interviewee’s interests. How many of you can say you were on “Student Jeopardy?” It’s a conversation starter, and from there can help the employer determine whether you’ll fit into the office culture.

When asked, “If you were only given 140-characters or less to differentiate yourself from everyone else, what would you say?”, I was completely puzzled. I had never thought about something like this before. What do I value? How could I possibly narrow down all these little facts about me to 140-characters? (And yes, I know, Twitter now offers 280-characters, but let’s pretend you still had to keep to 140.) Remember, less is more when it comes to social media.

Crisis Communications

Once you get that job that you’re absolutely in love with, you’ll have to learn to adapt to obstacles that come your way. For PR, you never know when a crisis will occur.

According to Dianne Chase, IABC International chair, there are 10 types of crises. These include industrial, criminal, environmental, financial, regulatory, legislative, natural, product, labor and corporate. One type of crisis can overlap with another at any point, possibly leading to multiple crises at one time. PR professionals must be flexible to cope with challenging circumstances. There are definitely a lot of different variables to juggle, but that’s the joy of PR.

When handling multiple crises, it's important to inform the employees first to make sure everyone stays updated. My guess was that the first step to handling a crisis is to make a statement and include an apology – wrong. As it turns out, employee relations come first. In PR, your staff is more than your team; they’re your family. You don’t let family handle a crisis alone, or even worse, find out via the news or social media. Everyone must be on the same page so you can work together to find a solution.

The importance of networking

Finding employment today is harder than ever. To get a job, you don’t just submit a resume online anymore; social media now allows us to build relationships with people who can connect you to where you need to be, all with the swipe of a finger.

Paul discussed that while networking should start out on social media, it still ends up being face-to-face. Be sure to ask open-ended questions – “yes” or “no” answers shorten your meeting with someone who could change your career.

Paul shared that, “When trying to stand out, keep the focus solely on letting the employer learn about you. Don’t ask for a job because, psychologically, it can frighten the potential employer away.” It’s kind of like when asking someone on a date – come on too strong, the relationship is ruined before it even had a chance.

Steve also added that students should be branching out and contacting different employers now. The first time you connect with someone shouldn’t be to ask for a job – make conversation. Build a relationship. Let future employers learn who you are before you apply for a full-time job. One connection could lead to another that could in turn lead you down a path you never even thought of.

Paul and Steve’s presentations provided my peers and me with invaluable advice for taking our first steps towards the real world, while Dianna taught me how to handle any crisis. Her tips can be utilized to assist with any situation that I might face in the future, either in my career or even in my personal life. I know planning ahead can be stressful, but the IABC Conference taught me that you can have control over your life and your future.

Now, are you ready to read my resume-tweet? “In the past ten years, Nicole has seen over five countries, rescued 16 animals and moved six hours away for school.”

Can you describe yourself in 140 characters or less? Comment below.

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Nicole Gittman was the Fall 2017 Intern at WordWrite Communications, and will graduate from Slippery Rock University in Spring 2018. You can connect with her on LinkedIn (use as many characters as you'd like) here.

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Customer service = client service: PR lessons from a restaurant pioneer

Posted by Jeremy Church

The pioneering CBS newsmagazine “60 Minutes” might no longer be appointment viewing like it was during its first 25 years, when at least 20 million people tuned in each week.

But it’s still the gold standard in investigative reporting and the personality profiles are typically just as compelling.

Take, for instance, a segment on the Oct. 8 episode spotlighting Danny Meyer, a restaurant entrepreneur who has been the innovator behind many dining experiences we take for granted.

His company, Union Square Hospitality Group, oversees 15 different restaurants, including upscale eateries, casual bistros and a little burger chain you might have heard of called Shake Shack.

I was casually listening to Meyer speak while putting away dishes, but the parallels he started describing between the restaurant business and the world of strategic communications consulting made me pause, sit down and think.

In our experience, strong client relationships depend on identifying who we need to please within an organization’s hierarchy, doing whatever we can to make those people happy. This typically involves assisting them in driving forward initiatives they lack the internal resources to accomplish themselves. Because it’s often more than one person we need to portray as the hero, the strategies and tactics we employ vary, based in large part on the wide range of personalities we serve.

It’s no different in Meyer’s line of work and he had his own unique way of articulating the challenges associated with keeping his customers satisfied.AdobeStock_37865487.jpeg

“Everyone on Earth is walking around life wearing an invisible sign that says, ‘Make me feel important,’” Meyer said. “And your job is to understand the size of the font of this invisible sign and how brightly it's lit. So, make me feel important by leaving me alone. Make me feel important by letting me tell you everything I know about food. It's our job to read that sign and to deliver the experience that that person needs.”

These comments epitomize the significance of maintaining and growing existing client and customer relationships. In the world of business, everyone has an organizational or personal agenda. We’re naïve to believe otherwise.

In the restaurant world where profit margins are razor thin, diners expect the food to be good. If it’s not, they won’t come back. The same parallels hold true for the world of public relations and content creation. At WordWrite, if we can’t execute the organic social media, inbound marketing, paid search or media relations campaigns (among other services) we were hired to perform, then we’ll be out on the street quickly.

For us to be successful in the long term, for us to keep clients coming back and attract new clients, we must also constantly read and understand the audience – both internally in the organizations we serve and externally in the audiences we’re trying to reach. 

In Meyer’s world, it’s not just about the food. The expectation of good food gets diners in the door. He wants the experiences people have at his restaurants to create memories that keep them coming back.

Or as he puts it, you need to understand who the boss is at each table.

“There's no question in my mind that at every single table there's somebody who's got the biggest agenda,” Meyer said. “If it's two people doing business, there's someone who's trying to sell something to somebody else. And I think that if you can figure that out early on in the meal, and understand what is it going take for the boss to leave happy . . .  It could be making sure that someone else gets to pick the wine. You’ve just got to pick up on those cues.”

We’d like to know what you think in the comments section.

How does Meyer’s philosophy translate to your organization’s approach?

Feel free to click here to learn more about the way we prefer to engage with our clients.

 

Jeremy Church is a partner at WordWrite Communications and the vice president of media and content strategies. He can be reached at  jeremy.church@wordwritepr.com and on Twitter @churchjeremy.Jeremy.jpeg




Photo credit: Adobe Stock

 

 

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Topics: client service, content creation, strategic communications, consulting

How to tell your nonprofit's story to the media

Posted by Robin Rectenwald

WordWrite Communications serves a variety of clients, but we also have a passion for helping local nonprofits tell their great, untold stories.  

In September, I was asked to speak to West Virginia University’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter. While I shared information about the type of work we do for our clients, I focused on how we come up with compelling story ideas for our nonprofit clients. We thought we’d share those tips for other students interested in this topic or any nonprofits looking for ways to share their stories. 

Who is the hero of the story?

Too often, nonprofits rely on telling their stories by touting all of the great work they do for the community. While it’s important to communicate your organization’s impact, it does not always need to be the focus. When thinking of ways to tell your story to the media, think of who you’re helping.

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What is their story and how are you providing support to help them achieve their goals? The media is always looking for human interest stories, especially local ones.

Who is using your services?

Similarly, nonprofits should consider getting to know the people utilizing their services or visiting their space. Who is depending on the services and how are they using them? For example, we recently pitched a story to WPXI-TV about a local teenager utilizing the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s teen space and resources to publish a literacy journal to promote the outstanding poetry, fiction and nonfiction writing of teens in Allegheny County. Check out the news story here. 

In other words, if you have people coming to your space to utilize the facilities, such as a kitchen, computer room, donation room, etc., learning more about these people and how they are using these services is another way to tell your story to the media.

What makes the program unique?

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS), there are more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the U.S, many of which offer similar services. For this reason, nonprofits must keep in mind how its program is unique, or how it differentiates from other nonprofits.  

Take the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh for example. Every summer, the nonprofit organization invites children to Camp Soles, a traditional summer camp similar to other camps found across the nation. So, how were we able to coordinate a story with an NBC affiliate in Johnstown?  We pitched, “Camp America,” a unique program that invites third culture kids, or American children growing up in foreign countries, to experience an American tradition. With this interesting angle, we were able to catch the attention of a reporter, who did a great story!  You can view it here.

Where is the nonprofit located?

Many nonprofit organizations serve specific communities and are looking for support from that community. For this reason, pitching to community newspapers is a great way to share its story with its target audience. Take a look at this story about the Ward Home, a nonprofit that serves at-risk foster teens. Because the nonprofit is based in Scott Township, we pitched The Almanac, a weekly community newspaper serving the South Hills.

Who are the subject matter experts?

Even if a nonprofit does serve a particular community, there are still ways to get your nonprofit quoted in national publications. How? By pitching your subject matter experts as thought leaders. For instance, we recently helped Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh get quoted in a Reader’s Digest article on parenting tips.

Erin Zambataro, an early learning librarian, works with families and children on a daily basis to ensure that every child in Pittsburgh who enters Kindergarten is ready to read and succeed in school. By sharing her knowledge and expertise with a national publication, she was quoted in this article: 50 Tiny (but Powerful!) Ways You Can Encourage Your Kids Every Day.

These are just a few ways to brainstorm unique story ideas to grab the attention of the media and ultimately tell memorable stories that will attract new donors and volunteers to your organization.

Interested in learning more about how WordWrite can help your business tell it’s story, let us know by emailing Paul Furiga at paul.furiga@wordwritepr.com

Robin Rectenwald is senior account executive for WordWrite Communicatons. You can reach her at robin.rectenwald@wordwritepr.com

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Topics: media relations, story, public relations, non-profit