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PRSA’s Media Training Bible with Brad Phillips

Recently, President of Phillips Media Relations and author of The Media Training Bible, Brad Phillips, joined the Richmond PRSA to instruct PR pros on preparing themselves and their spokespeople for media interviews.  Below I’ve outlined highlights from the class.

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Three is the magic number

Brad recommends that speakers develop three main messages when going into an interview or preparing for a speech. Speakers should either focus on one main theme supported by three ideas, or three main concepts supported by interesting data and examples. There is no perfect answer as to why this is the best strategy, but our brains seem to like organizing information into bits of 3.  For example: Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; red, yellow, and green); and small, medium, and large. When an audience is given too many points, they tend to lose interest.  On the flipside, too few points or messages can lead to redundancy.

The three-legged stool of messaging

Keeping the number 3 in mind, when constructing a solid message, a helpful visual is the three-legged support stool.  Imagine a three-legged stool, with each leg representing support for your message: stories, statistics and sound bites.  To put this into action, first, envision your message.  You want to put it into context, so you tell a story.  To support your story, you then cite statistics.  It’s important to keep in mind that numbers tend to not stick with an audience unless they are unexpected or shocking.  Lastly there are sound bites: what key piece of information do you want your audience to take away? Think of superlatives or extremes to give your audience to drive your point home. For example, “This is the biggest technology advancement in 50 years” – using an impressive superlative will keep your audience’s attention and hopefully stick with them after you’re done speaking.

Body Language do’s and don’ts

When giving a speech or being interviewed, it might be easy to focus only on the words you are saying and forget about your motions/actions..  As body language can make or break an interview or speech, Brad provided a few tips for proper body language.  First off, the use of gestures is a good thing.  Some people say the contrary, but as we are naturally expressive to some degree when we speak, we shouldn’t fight it when the spotlight is on us.  Fidgeting and quick movements are distracting, however, and should be avoided. Additionally, gestures actually improve listener comprehension, which many people don’t know.  If sitting while speaking, lean slightly forward to show engagement. This also makes it easier to gesture and be expressive while speaking.  Last, think about hand placement.  It can be easy to fidget and not know where to place your hands when you are nervous.  Get used to either resting your hands in your lap when sitting, or clasped in front of you if standing, or even keeping them by your sides when standing.

The power of tone

Maintaining a proper tone in speech is vital when all eyes are on you.  Though this may be obvious,  it can easily be forgotten when under pressure.  When speaking, think about a topic you are passionate about and speak as if you’re discussing that.  If asked a tough question, never sound defensive.  Instead, say something like, “Thank you for asking that question,” and move on with your point. Maintain an upbeat attitude even when being put on the spot or stumped.  It may be beneficial to practice having someone ask you tough questions and see how you react.

Brad’s tips on preparation for speeches and interviews, in conjunction with his website, http://www.mrmediatraining.com/, provide PR professionals with an arsenal to prepare themselves and their spokespeople for media success.

Wireside Recap: 2015 PRSA International Conference

I recently attended my first PRSA International Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The event, which was packed with educational sessions and networking opportunities, drew about 2,000 PR professionals from across the country.  Although each session brought something unique to the table, I want to highlight one of my favorite speakers from the conference, and key takeaways from his session.krr

Being part of a high-tech PR firm, I was eager to attend one session in particular.  David McCulloch, Sr. Director, Corporate Communications, Cisco, spoke on the session, “The ‘Internet of Things’: Are You Ready for the Opportunities and Risks?”  He provided some interesting examples to demonstrate the IoT in action.

  • The Henn Na Hotel (which translates to “Weird Hotel” in Japan) will be the world’s first hotel fully staffed by robots. These robots come in different forms; some made to look and have mannerisms like humans; others, like animals or cartoons. These robots speak several different languages: English, Japanese, Chinese and Korean. The robots perform duties such as checking guests in, carrying luggage, and cleaning rooms.
  • Physical sensor technology company Sensum uses sensors to detect the physiological changes of audience members during presentations. These sensors enable a company to determine whether audiences are surprised, excited, or bored. This diminishes the need for traditional pencil and paper surveys, providing the speaker with feedback with little to no effort from his or her audience. Additionally, this allows the speaker to garner genuine feedback that is not affected by hastily – or dishonestly – completed surveys. This also solves the common problem of surveys not being completed, period.
  • This past September, the Food and Drug Administration accepted an application to evaluate a new drug-sensor-app system that tracks when a pill has been taken. The drug under discussion is Abilify, an antipsychotic. The actual sensor will only be the size of a pencil tip. The app will come connected to a Band Aid-like sensor, worn on the body, which will know when a tiny chip hidden inside a pill is swallowed.  This way, if patients aren’t taking their pills, doctors will be alerted.
  • Target made headlines back in 2012, when the store found out about a high school girl’s pregnancy before her father did. The store was able to trace the teen’s buying patterns, and based on her recent purchases, began sending her coupons for baby products in the mail. Her disgruntled father, unaware of the pregnancy, stormed into Target and had it out with the manager. He later found out his daughter was, in fact, pregnant, and apologized to the manager.

McCulloch’s examples of the IoT in full-effect not only engaged his audience, but left some of us shocked – and possibly uneasy – about the evolution of technology and the ways businesses can utilize it to uncover personal details about consumers.

My first PRSA International Conference was an unforgettable experience. Not only was I provided with an opportunity to network with others in the field, I was also able to get a crash course in the do’s and don’ts of PR from some of the most prominent names in public relations.

 

The New Face of Influence is as Sweet as Pie

Over the past few years, the definition of influencer has undertaken a significant transformation.  Gone are the days where our daily dose of news is obtained during the 6 o’clock broadcast, delivered by legendary anchors behind a desk.  For the most part, we no longer read the headlines of yesterday in the form of a newspaper with a morning cup of coffee in hand (unless you’re my 75-year-old father, that is). pie

Media and analysts will continue to be a valued source of information but as PR professionals, we must continue to recognize that the face of those with the ability to influence our clients’ stakeholders is changing.  Through social media, we’ve seen the emergence of a new form of influencer.

Average people, who may or may not be experts in their own right, are taking to various social platforms to share their opinions and inadvertently inspiring others to take action.  In some cases, these social media stars are even benefiting financially.  For example, YouTube star PewDiePie earned $7.4 million from his YouTube channel last year.

A prime example of the power of social influence is the recent surge in sales for Patti LaBelle’s sweet potato pie, thanks to a James Wright Channel YouTube tribute to the tasty treat.  To date, the video has received 4.1 million views.  Viewers watch as the LA-based singer digs into the pie and channels the legendary soul singer, belting out tunes like “On My Own” and “Isn’t it a Shame.”

In response to the viral video, pie sales soared, selling at a rate of one pie per second for 72-straight hours the weekend before Thanksgiving.  As the exclusive retailer for the Patti LaBelle pastry, Wal-Mart’s across the country sold out of the pie – including our own local store where I captured the image to the right.

While building trusted relationships with traditional media and analysts is still, and will always be, an important step in establishing our clients’ brands, we must keep an eye out for those with the power to drive others into action – even as unconventional as it may seem at times.  Whether in B2B or B2C marketing, the need to identify and connect with influencers applies across the board as they may just be the direct line of communication to your clients’ target audience.

Dear Taylor Swift, Thanks for the Social Media Marketing Lesson

Before social media, public relations was ironically not so great at actually relating to the public.  It was almost one-sided.  Brands had a corporate spokesperson pushing the company line, as they say, and maybe a newsletter and that was it.  Of course, those who didn’t agree with the brand could always protest or pen the occasional strongly worded letter to voice their opinions, but who has time for that today? buzz

Last month, Wireside attended an AMA luncheon at the University of Richmond where Natalia Dykyj, Director of Product Management, Cision, gave a brief presentation on how PR and marketing have changed from the “old-school” way of doing things through the influence of social media marketing.  In this post, I’ve outlined a few of Natalia’s key points, supplemented with some real-world examples of marketing success stories.

Today, the consumer wears the pants in the relationship and the brand can very easily, and often does, end up in the proverbial doghouse.  The power of social media (and an angry mob, albeit a virtual one) can greatly impact a brand’s choice – and fast.  A very recent example of this comes to mind.  Apple recently released a music streaming service so new users can stream music for the first three months of their trial period for free.  This seemed like a great idea, until music artists realized they wouldn’t be paid for their music to be streamed for the trial period.  Taylor Swift wrote an open letter to the company voicing her opinion on this, saying that it is unfair to not pay artists for their work and that maybe Apple shouldn’t get access to her next album.  Uh-oh. Less than a day later, Apple changed its policy, agreeing to pay artists during the trial period, and wrote Taylor a mea culpa letter begging for her forgiveness.  Of course this particular situation involves a celebrity and one of the most well known brands on the planet, but wouldn’t it be nice if all customer service issues were resolved this way?  To be fair, similar interactions can and do happen on a smaller scale.

Marketing:  Who’s Doing it Right?

 “Brands are lucky if audiences engage them in conversation,” Natalia said.

And she’s right.  If, as a brand, no one is engaging with you in some way, you probably need to change your marketing strategy.  So who is doing marketing right? Natalia’s first example was Target.  Target, she said, has not one, but two official Twitter feeds.  The official feed  is purely for messaging purposes.  This is where the company updates followers on what’s going on with Target, essentially pushing out its desired message to followers.  The second feed, however, is conversation-based.  This feed is where consumers can voice opinions and ask questions, and Target will talk back.  This is a great way to interact with brand followers, involve them and make them feel like they matter; that they have a voice.  It’s this kind of open brand participation that helps make loyal brand ambassadors.

Target’s Twitter success had me thinking: What brands have utilized two of the other biggest social media platforms of today, Facebook and Instagram, in a way that set them up for marketing success?  Inspiration came from my own personal Facebook and Instagram feeds: Humans of New York and Kayla Itsines.

Humans of New York

Humans of New York is a more unconventional brand in that it began as a photographer telling stories.  The photographer, Brandon Stanton, roams through New York City daily, stopping random people of all ages and asking them questions about their lives.  He then posts a simple snapshot of the person with a quote from the conversation and posts it to Facebook.  He has since expanded to Instagram and Twitter, and has even published a book.  By utilizing its Facebook audience (with over 13 million likes), Humans of New York has not only gained exposure for itself, but has also done good deeds for the community.

In February 2015, Brandon photographed a 13-year-old boy on the street, asking him who inspired him the most.  The boy said that person was his principal at Mott Hall Bridges Academy, a small middle school in Brownsville, a lower income area of New York.  The reactions and sharing of the photo went viral, so Brandon started a fundraiser to help the school take its 8th grade class on a field trip to Harvard to inspire the students to set high goals for themselves.  In two weeks, $1.4 million was raised for the school.  With the use of Facebook, one of the world’s most popular social media platforms, a photographer was able to gain worldwide attention for his brand and help others while doing it.

Kayla Itsines

In recent years, Instagram has taken the world by storm.  The platform’s growing popularity means brands must find an effective strategy for promoting their product or service.  23-year-old Australian personal trainer/health and fitness expert Kayla Itsines has gained an immense following on Instagram, utilizing the platform in several ways.  Not only does she share personal pictures, she also posts before and after pictures of weight loss/fitness success stories of fans that have used her fitness guides on her page.  These pictures show real world results, serving as inspiration to others while also showing appreciation of her fans.  Kayla’s 3.2 million Instagram followers show that she is able to capture and grow her audience with the motivational nature and variety of her posts. I find myself skimming Kayla’s Instagram page daily, and I’m not even into fitness!

Do you have a social media marketing success story you’d like to share? Which social media platform has your brand had the most success with? How do you use it as an effective marketing tool?

 

 

Creating “Brand YOU”: Personal Branding Tips for Millennials

Last week, Wireside attended a luncheon hosted by the American Marketing Association at the University of Richmond, where guest speaker Sima Dahl, International speaker/trainer/coach for Sway Factory gave a presentation on personal branding.  The interactive presentation was full of advice relevant to each and every audience member – because after all, we are all the directors behind our own personal brand. mkt2

“Who do you know who…?”

In the professional world, networking is key.  Often, we hear people ask, “Who do you know who specializes in xyz?” Sima says we should strive to become that resource. If you aren’t the person someone is looking to connect with, then make it a point to know someone who is.  Building up your professional network will enable you to become the go-to for your colleagues, peers, etc.

LOVE LinkedIn

This one may take time.  While it’s easy to utilize platforms where you can share what you’re eating and who you’re with (think: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram), it may be a little more difficult to appreciate LinkedIn, a platform used for growing one’s professional network.  Take a minute at least once a week to update your status on LinkedIn – whether it be sharing an article or writing about a cool networking event you attended, these statuses will get you on the radar of other professionals in your network.

You… According to You

Speaking of LinkedIn, your headline and work experience should make what you do and what your skills are completely apparent. For example, if your headline says “Program Manager,” that’s too vague.  What field are you in? What exactly do you do? Additionally, your work experience needs to be flushed out (but keep it relatively brief). Don’t just copy and paste bullet points directly from your resume.

Headshot Help

Sima stressed the importance of having a headshot. A headshot, she says, must be a close-up picture, professionally done and current.  She also gives tips on Facebook profile pictures: Don’t wear sunglasses, leave the kids out, and don’t make your profile picture a logo or object – you are a person, after all.

Hopefully you can utilize some of the tips I’ve highlighted to grow as a professional. Do you have any tips for personal branding? If so, we’d love to hear them!