WordWrite Storytelling Blog

Four ways PR pros bring value to your business

Posted by Robin Rectenwald

Recently, our WordWrite team attended the annual PRSA Renaissance Awards of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Pittsburgh chapter, which recognize the stellar work of PR agencies and professionals in our home region.

There were nearly 50 winners in nearly a dozen categories. From the audience I saw just a snippet of these campaigns, yet it struck me: PR professionals and agencies bring great value to an organization. Whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a small business or nonprofit, public relations can help you achieve your business goals. Below are four ways PR professionals can bring value to your business.

1.   We’re creative 

PR professionals are people who love to consume the media. We don’t focus on just one outlet or subject. We have a long list of media that we follow. Why? Because we’re constantly thinking of new ideas for our clients. PR professionals make it a daily habit to brainstorm, write, re-write and think of ways to tell stories in creative and innovative ways.

2.   We have direct connections to the media

PR professionals make value the “relations” in public relations. We work diligently to establish relationships, especially with the media. Most PR professionals develop contacts in their home city and across the country. By establishing ourselves as credible sources, journalists often turn to us for assistance with their stories. This is one way to get your business can get in front of your target audience. 

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 3. We use tools that make your life easier

As with many industries, the PR field has great software tools to make our jobs easier. As PR pros, we make the most of these tools. These tools can help your company target the right journalists and media outlets, keep track of your media mentions, analyze your social media efforts and even keep an eye on your competitors.

As someone who has worked inside an organization without access to these tools, they save time and eliminate headaches to produce and track results.

Bonus: by hiring a PR firm, you get an entire team of PR professionals with a variety of experience, additional relationships and the ability to collaborate. With a PR firm, your return on investment is higher because you got a team as opposed to just one PR professional. 

4. We offer an objective eye

Sometimes you need outside perspective to help you figure things out, whether it’s a strategy, dealing with a crisis or helping you prioritize your goals. Hiring a firm provides an ongoing relationship in which you feel comfortable sharing your ideas, your achievements, your fears and anything else that is on your mind. Our experience working with many organizations gives us the expertise and experience to help you think through problems and strategically plan for the future.

Want to know more about how we help our clients at WordWrite? Take a look at some of the services we offer here.

Editor’s note: Congratulations to all the 2017 PRSA Renaissance Award winners, including Robin, who received the PRSA Member of the Year Award!

Robin is a senior account executive at WordWrite Communications.  She can be reached at robin.rectenwald@wordwritepr.com

Photo Credit: PixabayRobin_Rectenwald.jpg

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Topics: public relations, awards

Why traditional PR still matters in 2017

Posted by Robin Rectenwald

As the newest member of the WordWrite team, I’m absolutely thrilled to be working for clients who value the power of PR. Prior to coming to WordWrite Communications, I was the director of public relations at a local nonprofit organization. Without a budget for paid advertising and other marketing campaigns, I had to rely on social media, media relations and community relations to share our mission.

Do you know what I learned? In the era of social media, PR still makes a huge impact on business goals.

How do I know this? Almost every time the organization was mentioned in an article, we received emails and phone calls from people interested in donating or volunteering. This is the power of PR.

You may have read articles in the past couple of weeks listing the top 2017 trends in the marketing and communications world. My advice – don’t forget about traditional PR this year. Here are three reasons why.  

You Can Reach a Mass Audience

Major news outlets are the best way to reach a large audience at once.

The American Press Institute recently reported that most Americans still get their news directly from a news organization, such as a newspaper, TV newscast, website, or newswire (88 percent), with a smaller percentage of people reporting that they get news from word-of-mouth (65%), social media (44%) and search engines (51%).

While most Americans have smartphones, the study also found that we still rely on traditional media to access the news. The API report found that Americans on average followed the news using four different devices or technologies including television (87%), laptops/computers (69%), radio (65%), and print newspapers or magazines (61%).

Even in the era of social media, this study shows that traditional media gives you the opportunity to reach mass audiences more effectively than hoping for increased organic likes on Facebook.

You Gain Third Party Credibility

It’s true: You can’t always trust what you read on the internet. Case in point, Google and Facebook were recently under fire due to the amount of fake news that flooded the internet, during the U.S. presidential campaign. Critics claim fake news influenced the results. Is it any surprise then that Pew Research recently found (see chart below) that more people trust news coming directly from the news media than they do from social media, even in an era of profound distrust for the news media.

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You Can Improve Your Google Ranking

Traditional media not only helps your credibility with real people, it also boosts your credibility with Google. Successful search engine optimization includes having your website linked to other authoritative websites. If a major news outlet puts a link to your website in a news article and shares it on social media, it will help increase your search rankings as well.

 Here at WordWrite Communications, we put a lot of time into strategic media planning and we encourage your company to do the same. Yes, newspaper staffs are shrinking and broadcast TV faces a decline in viewers, but people are still reading and watching news. When you have a good story to tell, share it with a respected journalist and see how PR will help your business goals.   


Robin is a senior account executive at WordWrite Communications.  She can be reached at robin.rectenwald@wordwritepr.com.

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Topics: public relations

Storytellers On Both Sides Can Help Stop The Spread of False News

Posted by Hollie Geitner

There is a controversy brewing right now but unless you’re a journalist or work in public relations, you’re probably unaware. Even then, it might be under your radar, however this particular case has relevance to what we see, hear and read in the news today.

Here’s the gist – (que air quotes) ”a semi-famous” former Intel employee turned comedian, Dan Nainan, was recently exposed for lying about his age (among other things) while continually selling himself as an expert millennial in news stories. You can find him quoted in the New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Business Insider, Forbes and many more.  The problem? He’s 55 and has apparently woven quite the web of lies in an attempt to make himself relevant.  It took years and a Daily Beast piece to officially out him.

How’d he do this? Well, let’s explore it a bit. Most public relations professionals use Help a Reporter Out (HARO), a free service that connects journalists looking for sources with subject matter experts. Developed by a PR guy, Peter Shankman, HARO sends several daily emails with queries from journalists writing about a wide variety of topics, all organized by subject or industry. It allows PR professionals to scan the queries to see if they (or their clients) are a good match for the story. Then, they pitch the reporter. It’s a win-win, right? I always thought so, having had some success with it myself over the years.

The Nainan case and subsequent follow-up in piece The Observer by Ryan Holiday reveal an underlying problem ­– verifying facts has become a lost art for some media outlets. But, let’s not place the blame entirely on news media. Whatever happened to integrity and honesty? Not just journalistic integrity, but on the PR side as well?

Con artists have been around since the dawn of time, so why does it seem that truth has gone out the window more than ever? Fake news stories and the incessant sharing of such nonsense has taken over social channels. Politicians from every corner of the earth take pride in pulling the wool over their followers and constituents’ eyes. Conscience? What’s that? Few seem to have one anymore.  This is all my opinion, of course.  

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Let’s face it – it is relatively easy to spot the fake news stories that people share on sites like Facebook and Twitter. It is the public’s fault for not being responsible enough to look before spreading false news. The real problem is when legitimate, well-respected, historically significant news organizations like the New York Times, USA Today and CNN post or air stories that haven’t been properly vetted or fact checked.  

Barton Swaim, a contributing columnist for The Washington Post, addressed this very issue in a column last month. In it, he argued that while fake news is damaging, it isn’t likely to sway opinion or change someone’s allegiance to something or someone they care about. 

According to Swaim, “the false or inaccurate story published in a mainstream venue, by contrast, does the opposite. Maybe the story consists of mostly true statements, but it’s built on an egregiously false premise. Or maybe it includes a key line that infers far more than the facts allow. Or it presents a tendentious interpretation of the facts.”

Faulty sources, incomplete facts, misinformation and biased reporting can have significant consequences when presented by authoritative sources like those mentioned above. No doubt it has become increasingly difficult for many journalists to be impartial when writing their stories, but there are still many who take their jobs seriously and spend the time and effort to get it right instead of first. We can only hope the Dan Nainan case will spark more news outlets to verify sources and information before rushing to publish a story.

For those of us in PR, let’s remember our responsibility here as well. Truth and honesty should be the foundation from which we work. If it’s our job to tell our clients’ stories, it’s also our responsibility to do so in a way that helps, rather than hinders a journalist. We understand more than anyone that reputations can plummet faster than the stock market after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. It’s in our own best interest to avoid bombarding journalists with non-stories or intentionally trying to dupe reporters with misleading facts or false information. Please, for the sake of all of us who rely on the news – DON’T BE A DAN.

Photo credit: Pixabay

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Hollie Geitner is vice president, client services at WordWrite Communications. She can be reached at hollie.geitner@wordwritepr.com.

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Topics: social media

Turning a Crappy Year Upside Down: How Sharing Uplifting News Can Help Us All Heal

Posted by Hollie Geitner

There is a lot that can be said about the year 2016. There were a few good days, several bad days and some outright devastating ones. “The worst year of my life” and “2016 has taken another one” have been relatively common postings on social media as of late. Personal losses, family hardships, celebrity deaths and evil acts that take innocent lives are gut-wrenching to say the least.

Since life must go on, many are looking to fill the airwaves and social channels with positive news. News that uplifts, inspires and offers a glimmer of hope in a world that seems so dark.

Two weeks ago I saw a social post written by a local news personality. In it, she asked her followers to send “good news story ideas” her way. As the reporter who often covers the hard, breaking news, I can only imagine the toll it must take over time on her emotional health.  Just this week a popular morning radio show host urged listeners to look for the good in the world and to focus on the meaning of the season instead of the negative news of the day. It’s become a theme. Maybe it’s the season or maybe it’s that we all need a pick-me-up.

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Finding and pitching good news stories has always been a focus for many public relations professionals, but getting coverage for such stories was becoming increasingly difficult. Breaking news took precedence over everything else. And, while that may still be true to some extent, could the tide be turning as even those who cover the news have had enough of the negative? Have producers, editors and media executives figured out that wholesome, good news stories are as good, if not better, than being first to break a story? Perhaps. For now, it does appear that the media is responding to the public’s need for hope and positivity.

I was astonished (and pleasantly surprised) to find that several mainstream news outlets have entire sections devoted to “good news,” “uplifting news,” and various other iterations of stories that lift the heart rather than drag it down. Who knew? Yes, we see them occasionally shared on social channels but it hadn’t occurred to me that such stories had earned their own section. A definite good sign, indeed! Here are some to check out:

Today: http://www.today.com/news/good-news

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/section/good-news

ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/US/Good_News

MSN: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/good-news

Fox News: http://insider.foxnews.com/good-news

The Telegraph (UK): http://www.telegraph.co.uk/good-news/

Positive News: https://www.positive.news/

Newsweek: http://www.newsweek.com/good-news-2016-happy-stories-533098

Good Morning America: https://gma.yahoo.com/goodnews/

As PR consultants, we ask our clients about the great things they are doing and how they are making a difference. We counsel them to “turn the story upside down.” We want to know who they’ve helped, how they did so and why. That’s the real story—not so much the fact that they did help. It’s an easy fix when communicating but convincing some that it’s the right thing is sometimes challenging because it goes against what many believe is good “marketing.”

The fact remains that good news is all around us—sometimes we just have to dig deeper or find a new lens through which to view the world. If the news media is looking for stories, let’s help them. After all, isn’t that our job? Grab a camera and start capturing things around you. Ask the probing questions and talk to everyone—not just those at the top. You’d be amazed at the goodness that surrounds us. And, let’s face it, we all need it. Let’s bid 2016 farewell with a slew of uplifting stories and start 2017 with a full and grateful heart.

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Tell us your good news story in the comments below. 

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Topics: media relations, story, public relations, storytelling

Marketing lessons learned from a holiday classic: Miracle on 34th Street

Posted by Erin O'Connor

This past Thanksgiving, my family kicked off the Christmas season in our traditional fashion by tuning in to our favorite holiday movie: Miracle on 34th Street. For those of you who haven’t seen the film (tsk-tsk), the plot follows Kris Kringle, an old man living in the image of Santa Claus and his fight to prove his true identity. Kris begins his journey as a last-minute stand-in for the Macy’s Santa Claus, where he meets Ms. Doris Walker, the special events director hired by Mr. Macy himself to direct the Thanksgiving Day parade (which, as a side note, is a pretty kick-ass role for a female to have in 1947 – you go Maureen O’Hara). Believing he is in fact the one and only Santa Claus, Kris is eventually suspected of lunacy, and is subject to a commitment hearing to determine his fate. The story of course ends with Ms. Walker and the rest of the cast proclaiming their belief in Kris and the court rules that he is the true Santa Claus … who would have thought Christmas would be saved once again? 

While the core plot is fun and lighthearted, there is an interesting sub-story within the film that inspired me to write this post.

Miracle.jpgDuring his time portraying the Macy’s Santa Claus, Kris refuses to bend to the temptations of modern commercialism, and even sends shoppers to other stores if Macy’s does not carry a specific item requested by a child. The result (which was unexpected by Ms. Walker and her colleagues) was undying gratitude from customers for putting the spirit of Christmas first.

Mr. Macy is of course thrilled by this newfound customer loyalty, and vows to expand the initiative to other stores. 

“If we haven't got exactly what the customer wants, we'll send him where he can get it. No high pressuring and forcing a customer to take something he doesn't really want,” Macy says. “We'll be known as the helpful store, the friendly store, the store with a heart – the store that places public service ahead of profits.”

Many of you probably realize where this is going, but I’ll summarize for you anyway. The core goal that Mr. Macy has reached with the help of Kris is quite relevant to what we as marketers strive to achieve with every campaign we deploy: hit the consumer with the right message, in the right place, at the right time.

Expand upon that, you ask? Don’t mind if I do. In the spirit of the season, I’ve taken some time to jot down a few takeaways from this film that I hope will be helpful for your future marketing endeavors. (Yes, I did get to watch the movie as research for this post.)  

Beware of goodwill campaigns 

Perhaps “beware” is a little harsh, but any good PR/marketing pro knows that goodwill or cause-marketing campaigns can backfire extremely quickly. Take for example the Wal-Mart Thanksgiving food drive fiasco that went viral after consumers found out that those benefitting from the food drive were also Wal-Mart employees. The company ended up looking like a fraud and Wal-Mart’s public image was marred for much of the holiday shopping season.

The most important thing to remember when instituting a charitable campaign is to keep your messaging authentic to your brand and avoid capitalizing on other people’s misfortune. This sounds simple in theory, but it’s amazing how many companies miss this piece. Also, be thoughtful in your promotion of your efforts – only share the information that paints a favorable image of your company. Believe me, no one wants to see a news story about Ebenezer Scrooge giving one lonely penny of his fortune to Tiny Tim.

Utilize guerilla marketing appropriately, not excessively

Although it was unintentional in the movie, Kris’ plan to exhibit his inner Christmas spirit while working as the Macy’s Santa Claus was a great example of guerilla marketing done right. The execution was realistic, and the right message was served up to the perfect subset of Macy’s core demographic: moms. 

The key to successful guerilla campaigns is to focus on engaging small audiences and keep the tactics to a minimum. It’s also important to avoid creating a campaign that’s so covert your audience doesn’t recognize the brand. And please, enough with the flash mobs – when are people going to realize those are so been-there, done-that?

Keep the press on your good side

There is a portion of the film when Fred Gailey, Kris’ attorney and Ms. Walker’s neighbor, realizes that he needs to get the press on his side in order to sway public opinion during the commitment hearings. The next few scenes show a series of headlines shaming the State of New York for putting Santa Claus on trial for lunacy so close to Christmas Eve. 

In crisis situations, we talk a lot about “controlling the message” and “getting out in front of the story” to ensure our clients are being represented accurately in stories that will eventually hit newsstands. This is exactly what Mr. Gailey did to help save Kris from potential scrutiny – he knew the press would be all over such a timely case so he opted to get to them first.

Unfortunately, for some brands out there, the story doesn’t always turn out like Kris’. Sometimes companies fail to articulate the right message, and the brand ends up looking disingenuous. But the important thing to remember is that with every failed attempt there is a lesson learned. Keep your tactics simple and targeted and hopefully you’ll find your happily ever after, too. 

Interested in learning more about our public relations and marketing offerings? Poke around our site for more details, and drop me a line if you have any questions.

 Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

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Erin O’Connor is an account supervisor at WordWrite Communications. She can be reached at erin.oconnor@wordwritepr.com or on Twitter, @eoc790.ErinWork.jpeg

 

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Topics: public relations, content marketing

Inbound: Celebrating the movement behind the revolution (not the one you think)

Posted by Paul Furiga

The headlines this week are filled with news of revolutionary change.

WordWrite_Brian_Halligan_Inbound_2016-HubSpot.jpgThere’s a lot to learn from what happened in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. But that revolution is overshadowing a number of other movements, including several that made the outcome of the presidential race possible.

So this is not a political blog post. No sides will be taken. In fact, very shortly, I’ll stop saying anything about the election.

This week marks the fifth anniversary of Inbound, the annual gathering of marketers (and now sales professionals) who understand that it’s critical to engage with stakeholders when they want to learn more about what you do, rather than bombard them with content they don’t want, when they don't want it. This movement, started when HubSpot cofounders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah wrote the book, Inbound Marketing, has reshaped marketing in the 21st century.

If anything, this is a critical learning from Donald J. Trump’s success (to read more about that, check out this excellent blog post from David Meerman Scott). Whatever else he did to win, and whatever else he will do as president, Trump understood how to connect with his audience.

The tools that Trump employed – and how he employed them – are emblematic of the revolution in marketing that’s been going on for more than a decade. It’s about social media but it’s about so much more than that. It is for certain about the destruction of the conventional wisdom, which in this case, means traditional advertising.

Or as HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan put it in his keynote at Inbound this week, “The ad business is at the precipice of a monumental change that you need to take advantage of...we’re at the very top of the first inning of a new idea called pay per lead. ...This is the next major shift that all of your buyers are going to be using in the next several years.”

At the forefront of this movement for the last ten years has been HubSpot. As evidence that inbound marketing (and now inbound sales) is hardly a fad, more than 19,000 people from 92 countries converged on Boston this week for Inbound 2016.

HubSpot is again, at the forefront of a new concept in online marketing that will bring organic content marketing and paid marketing together: Paid, Automated, Self-Service and End-to-End or PASE (not to be confused with PESO, a strategy that we believe in at WordWrite and have blogged about here). HubSpot is driving its tools in this direction and is announcing a slew of new features to its platform this week that will drive this.

What does this mean for all of us? Once again, HubSpot has some insights to share. Learn more by downloading the new State of Inbound report for 2016.

Send me the 2016 State of Inbound Report

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Paul Furiga is president and CEO of WordWrite Communications. You can find him on Twitter @paulfuriga paulfurigawordwrite.jpg

 

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Topics: inbound marketing, public relations, B2B

And now the winners. . .5 PR lessons from the 2016 presidential election

Posted by Paul Furiga

While determining the winner of the presidential election matters to American democracy, public relations professionals don’t need to wait for the ballot count — the votes (and the lessons) are already in.  

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Because of the global attention focused on the election, the resources devoted to communicating during the campaign, and the peculiarities of the election itself, PR and marketing professionals (and those we serve) should consider what this presidential election can teach us about how we communicate in our roles as professionals. 

Here are the top five PR lessons the WordWrite team has learned from this election:

1. Is coarse dialogue now OK? Well, if it’s authentic . . .

Donald Trump. He’s cursed, used derogatory words, belittled people, offended entire communities and mocked a handicapped journalist. Filter? What’s that?

It’s safe to say we’ve heard it all this election, and not just from Donald Trump, but from Hilary Clinton, supporters of both camps, news commentators and everyone with an opinion. Harsh words and coarse dialogue have become so much more commonplace; some don’t even bat an eye anymore. Are we immune or hardened? Probably not.

Some believe such dialogue, while it may be vulgar or inappropriate, is considered more “real” and honest. As a society, we tend to pause when someone appears too rehearsed or fake. We label them as being inauthentic and disregard what they are saying as false. Or, we believe they have an ulterior motive or an agenda. In reality, most people, and certainly politicians, do have an agenda.

In the business world, trust and authenticity are paramount to success. Your employees, customers, clients, business partners and the public need to believe you are who you say you are and they will judge you not by your words alone but by your actions. This isn’t to say you should be harsh for the sake of appearing “real,” however it’s a trap when you try to be all things to all people. Inevitably, someone will see through the façade. The best bet is to be your authentic you. Those who believe in you and what you do will follow. We may not like it, but it’s working for Donald. At least it appears to be… 

— Hollie Geitner           

2. To be hacked or not to be hacked – that is the question

Is Julian Assange a journalistic hero or a Kremlin puppet? Does WikiLeaks hate Hillary Clinton or is it simply serving the public interest through its daily dumping of emails from her campaign?

Someday, in some capital of punditry far away, these issues will be settled. For now, PR pros and the people and organizations we serve should immediately do two things:

First, remember that old PR adage, “Never say anything you wouldn’t want your mother to read on the front page of the New York Times.” It’s amazing how much less interesting the WikiLeaks affair would be if Clinton campaign staffers weren’t so careful (careless?) to document their every criticism and negative thought in electronic writing. What can PR pros and the people and organizations they serve learn from this? Make sure internal and external communications – with rare exceptions – can pass the New York Times test.

Second, there are rare exceptions when internal communication must be blunt. And for that reason, it’s time to revisit the security of your social media channels, cellphones, portable devices, servers, etc., etc. Make it a routine, a habit. In large measure, good crisis communication is about managing risk to ensure that crises don’t happen. Do you think the Clinton campaign had enough internal discussions about the risk of a server hack and the damage from an information leak?

For PR pros and those we serve – don’t wait. Take action now. Or else you and your organization may be learning a lot more about Julian Assange or someone like him.

— Paul Furiga 

3. Social media: Here to stay but a sometimes hazy reflection of truth

Whether it’s used as a binding force to connect likeminded voters, or leverage for candidates on the debate stage, social media has played a tremendous role in this election, especially with younger age groups.

And with much of today’s political dialogue occurring on social media, we have to ask: Is this the new norm? Is it valid to judge a candidate solely by his or her social media presence? Will social media eventually take the place of traditional media in terms of serving as a public watchdog?

Social media provides users with the unique opportunity to become a content publisher, which can have both positive and negative ramifications on a political campaign. On the positive side, social media channels give candidates a new way to engage with voters in a hyper-personalized setting that’s built for conversation. In addition, these platforms allow the public to share their views with others, and rally behind a cause – creating a sense of inclusion, and even a heightened feeling of patriotism. A study conducted before the 2012 election concluded that social media can have a positive impact on voter turnout.

Yet there are several negative consequences to our ultra-connected campaigns, and a recent analysis found social media can often expose slanted views or political biases. Average users tend to believe that messaging served up to them on social channels is a clear depiction of what the macro digital world is seeing, when in actuality, the content they receive is driven by their previous activity.

In other words, just because I believe I see more messages in support of my candidate when scrolling through my Facebook feed, doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is ahead in the polls, but this type of activity could in fact affect my decision as a voter. And, opinions showcased on such platforms can often influence those who are intended to be impartial during an election, such as media personalities.

— Erin O’Connor

4. Facts alone don’t matter to voters

Americans won’t accept opposing political viewpoints, even when confronted with enormous factual evidence to the contrary.

That phenomenon didn’t start with this election.

Since the mid-1980s, numerous studies have revealed how attempts to refute false information backfire and lead people to hold on to their misperceptions even more strongly. 

Christopher Graves, the global chairman of Ogilvy Public Relations, reviewed the research for a February 2015 article in the Harvard Business Review.

Graves observed that we tend to believe news that validates our world view and dismiss news that goes against it. Trying to convince others of how wrong they are actually makes them dig in their heels even more, even if you’re relying on facts. People “remember the assertion and forget whether it’s a lie.”

So how do we change someone’s mind? 

Graves points to professor Stephan Lewandowsky’s findings in “The Debunking Myth Handbook” for one possible answer. Debunking a myth isn’t enough. It leaves a narrative vacuum, so you must create a credible alternative narrative.

This research highlights the challenges PR professionals face in moving hearts and minds.

However, it also gives us hope that the key to influencing public opinion resides in one of our core tenets at WordWrite – our belief in the value of an authentic story, fluently shared and continually measured to ensure you’re engaging your audience.

— Jeremy Church

5. Journalism evolves in pursuit of its Holy Grail

Thanks to the 2016 presidential election, the objectivity of certain sectors of journalism has been called into question and may never be the same. 

Pundits and the research agree: certain news outlets lean one way or another on the political spectrum. That’s nothing new, but this is the first election where mainstream presidential candidates have called the media out on bias. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has repeatedly accused the media of being dishonest.

The debate has been fueled by a recent Center for Public Integrity report, which found that 480 journalists and employees of major news organizations made political contributions this election cycle, most of them to the Clinton campaign. The simple fact that these practices are being discussed by everyday people during this election season indicates that citizens are acquiring a more critical eye for bias in the media – which can be a good thing! 

This election shows journalism is a constantly evolving practice. Objectivity is and always will be the holy grail that all good journalists seek. Objectivity is also something consumers strive for, and journalists that strive for objectivity have the opportunity to gain new adherents after this election.

This is an important lesson for PR professionals or anyone who wants to communicate in the post-election environment to come: We all crave authenticity, a fair presentation of a cause, issue or even product or service.

— Sam Bojarski

Those are our top five PR lessons from the 2016 presidential election – what are yours? Please share them in the comments below!

Photo credit: Pixabay / Maialisa

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Topics: storytelling

Small Business Success: Leveraging the Power of Facebook to Reach Customers

Posted by Hollie Geitner

Can you imagine anything more annoying than a giant mouse dancing to “Happy Birthday” while a bunch of eight-year-olds run around trying to fill a bucket with tickets so they can “buy” a plastic snake toy?

Me neither.

Chuck E. Cheese was officially off the list of possibilities for my son’s birthday party. Sorry kiddo, parental sanity absolutely must be a factor here. Moving on…

So, when searching for alternatives, I did the expected – I typed “Birthday party locations in Pittsburgh” into Google. Many obvious choices came up, but after skimming through a few pages, I came across a skating rink. Like a real roller skating rink! Click, click and I was on my way to their website – a very stale, outdated, non-mobile-friendly site. Bummer.

But, wait – how about Facebook? I typed in their name and voila! A nice, updated Facebook business page with recent posts, pictures, videos and reviews. Awesome! I called to speak to the owner and shortly thereafter booked a party for later in the month.

social-network-76532_640.pngAs I talked to people about my son’s upcoming party, not one single person knew of this hip location I “found.” How could that be? It’s been there since 1948? It’s a modern dilemma faced by far too many businesses today – how do you market your business to the right audience and get them to buy your services or product?

Website vs. Facebook

There is some debate about which is better – a website or a Facebook page. Imagine a handful of years ago when this was hardly even a question. Businesses spent thousands of dollars to build flashy, brochure-ware websites with the overriding belief that “if you build it, they will come.” Well, not really…

In today’s world, you have to consider where the people are, what they are looking for and how they access and share information. If you look at numbers, Facebook has 1.7 billion active users. That’s “illion” with a “B.” Wow.

Over the past few years, Facebook has been enhancing and modifying its Business Pages with the goal of encouraging companies to set up a page and ultimately to purchase advertising. Of course, they also did that little thing to their algorithm to make sure few people would see said page without putting money behind it. Their strategy seems to be working though. With 60 million active small business pages and a 33 percent increase in the number of businesses using their paid social program, Facebook is changing how many companies allocate their advertising budget. 

For some companies, especially small businesses, it makes sense to put more focus on a Facebook page. Here’s why:

  1. Adding or changing content is very easy on Facebook. If you manage a personal social page, you can manage a business page. It doesn’t require special training, tools or platforms. It’s not uncommon to leave outdated information up on a website because it’s simply too cumbersome to remove it. Either staff isn’t trained on the software platform or you have to outsource it to the company who built your website. Not very convenient…
  2. Visual content. Same as above, it’s simple to upload photos, videos and images to a Facebook business page directly from a mobile device. Plus, visual content is consumed much faster than written content. And, according to social media expert, Erik Qualman of Socialnomics, video will account for 2/3 of mobile usage in 2018. And, right now, mobile drives more than 50 percent of e-commerce traffic.
  3. It can be cumbersome to interact with a company on a website. Sure, you can fill out a contact page or submit a comment, but timely interaction most commonly occurs on social media channels. It’s where conversations happen in real time and often where people look to see the latest information about a company.
  4. Peer Recommendations. When people you know who are similar to you like or interact with a page, you’ll often see that in your newsfeed – especially when they mark they are interested in or planning to attend an event. This is useful because human psychology suggests people tend to like to do the same things their peers do. This is also why we ask our trusted friends and family for advice and we typically do so via public forums like Facebook. In fact, Socialnomics research says that 90 percent of people trust peer recommendations. By having a Facebook presence, you are making it easier for people to share, review and recommend your business.

In general, we suggest companies have a good balance of social media and website presence, however in today’s fast-paced, socially-connected world, it would be a mistake to ignore the power of Facebook when considering the best ways to reach potential customers.

So what do you prefer when searching for a company or service? Do you use Google or do you go straight to social channels, like Facebook? Tell us in the comments below.

Hollie Geitner is vice president, client services at WordWrite Communications. She can be reached at hollie.geitner@wordwritepr.com.Hollie2015.jpg

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Topics: social media

Setting up a Killer Facebook Ad Strategy for Your Business

Posted by Sam Bojarski

In the digital age, having some type of social media profile seems just about as common as having a cell phone. And when it comes to getting the attention of customers, there’s no better way to do it than to go where your customers are. Nearly two-thirds of all Americans use social media, with over 75 percent of online adults using Facebook.

Executing a great Facebook Ad strategy from Facebook’s Business Manager platform requires some setup work in the very beginning so you can target the right audience and efficiently track performance. So where do you start? With your own business records, of course!

 

Custom Audiences: Facebook affords you the ability to upload contact lists of current customers, leads, your high school crushes, etc. (scratch that last) for you to target, and even replicate. If you have captured any of this data, it would be a good idea to upload it into Ads Manager right away. To do this, go to the Audiences section on the main menu. You will be able to create a custom audience there by uploading your contact list.  

Once you have your list uploaded into Facebook, you will be able to either advertise directly to these people, OR advertise to people like them. To do the latter, you can create a Lookalike Audience based on the data in your customer list. Essentially, once Facebook has the demographics of your personal contacts, it can create a separate audience comprised of people from across the Facebook community who closely resemble them. Lookalike Audiences is one of the most simple, yet useful tools Facebook offers.

 

Facebook_Ads.jpgFacebook Pixel: While Custom Audiences allow you to target the right people, the Facebook Pixel is crucial to tracking your marketing efforts. The pixel isn’t as complicated as perhaps it sounds – it’s just a snippet of code you can copy and paste into the HTML of your website. Its optimal placement would be on a landing page or thank you page, to track visits or purchases of a product. Every time someone visits a certain page from a Facebook ad, the pixel will track and report this visit. In the Pixels section of Ads Manager, you will be able to generate the code that will become your Facebook Pixel.

 

Setting up your Custom Audiences and the Facebook Pixel will form the basis for the rest of your ad strategy. The next part of your killer Facebook Ads strategy involves getting your Facebook page seen by the right audiences, then driving potential customers to your website.

 

Like Campaigns: Few customers will want to purchase your product or service if your Facebook page has 10 likes, right? Like campaigns allow you to promote your Facebook page so it looks more attractive for your company. Not only can you create an ad with a fantastic image, a catchy call-to-action and flashy ‘Like’ button – you can target this ad to your Custom Audiences OR a specified set of behaviors/interests on Facebook. These behavior groups include factors as specific as income and education levels. You will want to set up your Like Campaign to target your ideal customer base as much as possible, but it also might be useful to run your campaign in your home city, where people already know your business and would be more apt to like your page.

 

Website Clicks: So you ran a Like Campaign for a good period of time, say a month or two. Now your Facebook page has some fans, and it’s time for your company to start attracting visitors and leads to your website. But whom do you target as potential leads, given the Facebook community is so vast?

We suggest starting with the following approach, to see what works knowing you can always adjust your strategy further down the road. Divide that marketing budget between three ad sets targeting three different audiences in the following way:

  1. People who like your page already. This will give your fans a chance to visit your site and learn more about how great your company is.
  2. A lookalike audience based on previous contact list (see above). This will help you target people who behave like your current customers and leads.
  3. Your ideal target audience. You can establish this ad set using Facebook’s detailed targeting options.

When your ads are done running, Facebook will give you detailed reports on how many clicks each ad set generated to your website, and you will be able to adjust your strategy based on what works and what doesn’t.

 

While a specific formula for success with Facebook Ads doesn’t really exist, the best practices outlined above should give you some great ideas to get started. Keep in mind that marketing your business is a highly personal endeavor that is enhanced by the unparalleled access to potential customers that Facebook provides.

As strategic marketers, the WordWrite team proudly helps companies use Facebook Ads to tell the right stories to the right audiences. Want to learn how to create a solid Facebook Ad strategy from the ground up? Shoot me an email at sam.bojarski@wordwritepr.com.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Sam Bojarski is an account coordinator at WordWrite Communications. 

 

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Topics: social media

Facebook, Snapchat & YouTube: Where should you focus your video strategy?

Posted by Paul Furiga

When HubSpot published its first State of Inbound report eight years ago, the future of video content seemed a bit out of focus -- promising, colorful but not quite clear.

Today, video is no longer a future consideration, it's the dominant social medium of the present, a fact underscored in the 2016 State of Inbound report. For example, the new SOI shares these statistics on video's dominance:

  • Facebook users watch 8 billion videos a day
  • Snapchat users watch 10 billion videos per day
  • 45% of respondents in HubSpot research watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week
  • And 49% of 18-24 year olds of respondents in HubSpot research watch at least 3 hours of video on YouTube a week.

video-marketing.jpgSo a savvy marketer no longer asks "Do I include video in my marketing strategy?" Instead, the savvy marketer asks, "Where do I focus my video strategy?"

The answer could be Facebook, Snapchat or YouTube -- or some combination. Here's some guidance from the 4,500 respondents to the 2016 SOI:

Of the marketers responding to the survey:
  • 48% are planning on adding YouTube in the year ahead and
  • 39% expect to add Facebook video.
Ok, so that's where marketers say they'll be focusing their video efforts. What about their bosses? For C-level business leaders participating in the SOI survey, video was an even stronger focus, with
  • 56% of C-level respondents planning to add YouTube as a content channel,
  • 46% planning to add Facebook video, and
  • 17% are looking into Snapchat.

 Where you focus your video marketing efforts depends on the solid understanding you have of the audience you need to reach, something you learn as you map your buyer's journey and create personas for your buyers.

It's also worth looking at how top brands are focusing their video marketing efforts.

For example, Advertising Age recently reported on Instagram's development of stories and how big brands, including Nike, are investing more on Instagram video rather than Snapchat. As the SOI statistics suggest, Google-owned YouTube is hardly a shrinking violet. There are many reasons why YouTube tops the survey results as the video channel earning the most attention from marketers and their bosses. Take a look at how the Associated Press is using YouTube to share history. Maybe you're interested in Snapchat but unsure about how to get started. Here's a great HubSpot blog that walks through this exciting new channel step by step.

Want to learn more about the state of video, social media and inbound marketing? Get a copy of the new State of Inbound for yourself!

Image credit: Nick Youngson of RM Media

Send me the 2016 State of Inbound Report

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Topics: inbound marketing, B2B, video

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