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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.

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?

 

 

Telling Your Story with Storify

The modern PR professional utilizes a wide variety of online platforms to get the word out about a client or cause.  From Facebook to Hootsuite, Twitter to LinkedIn, the volume, expanse and power of social sharing networks are virtually endless.

One up-and-coming and thus far significantly underrated platform, in my opinion, is Storify: a social sharing service that allows the user to tell a story using content pulled directly from the web.  Storify helps you collect the best posts, photos, links, and tweets about a certain topic, plug them into a webpage, and turn them into an easy-to-follow “social story.”

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Not only is a Storify story easy to read, it is also aesthetically “easy on the eyes.”  Instead of readers becoming inundated with text-overload, they can watch videos, see multiple tweets, view screenshots, and access links, giving the story a greater depth.

Just to name a few of Storify’s many benefits:

  • Storify is free of charge, user-friendly, and you can sign up through Facebook or Twitter.
  • It allows users to scan for content across various social media sites straight from the Storify platform.  The user can then select desired content and embed it directly into a Storify presentation.
  • Other users are able to “like,” comment, share or embed a Storify story on a website.  This creates endless possibilities for distribution and conversation surrounding a story.
  • It’s a unique presentation tool.  Just log in, select your presentation, and scroll as you speak.
  • The web content used for Storify immediately notifies the original author, and essentially builds an instantaneous list of sources that may possibly view and share the story.

Whether you are promoting a brand/client/event, explaining a crisis, or developing a strategic plan, Storify’s many functions can aid execution and delivery:

Promotion:  One way PR pros can promote a brand, client or event via Storify is to “tell” the clients’ story by using links to existing material, such as press releases, videos, images, and screenshots (of their social media presence, perhaps).  On a single page, you can include a more impressive expanse of information than most other services offer.  For events, you can pull tweets from all over Twitter about the event and publish the story the day of to give status updates and provide information to attendees.

Crisis Explanation:  In college, I used Storify to give a presentation on Target’s late 2013 credit card security breach.  I was able to pull supporting information, such as screenshots, news coverage, articles, and videos into a single story, yielding a simple, efficient and thorough presentation that was easy to understand and visually appealing.

Breaking News:  Recently, news networks have begun utilizing Storify to compile coverage updates for breaking news.  They are able to pull tweets, posts and images from various websites and social networks onto one page, providing a constant, chronological flow of updates.  Instead of having to visit multiple media outlets for updates, one can simply visit a particular news channel’s Storify page, a one-stop-shop for finding out what they need to know from a variety of sources and outlets.

Although the uses I’ve highlighted are only the tip of the iceberg, I hope they have offered insight into Storify’s seemingly endless capabilities.  Because Storify allows users to utilize so many other social media sites and tools, a brand or organization can creatively employ Storify in a way that best suits its needs.

Reporting in the Social Era: Takeaways from Leading Biz Journalists

I recently attended a PRSA – National Capital Chapter Professional Development session at the new National Public Radio (NPR) headquarters in Washington, D.C.  Five leading journalists from top-tier national and D.C.-based publications offered their perspectives on how PR professionals can support reporters in a changing editorial landscape that accommodates our around the clock, on-the-go, social society.  Here are a few of the takeaways:

UrgentiPhone-DGWe’re Not in Kansas Anymore

The editorial world is not what it once was.  Readers are accessing content on their small mobile devices as they’re on the run from one place to another.  With so little time to capture an audience’s attention, rarely will a text-heavy piece suffice.  Reporters are seeking to perfect the art of storytelling through incorporation of all things visual: images, graphics and video.

While strong narrative will always be imperative, multimedia can be the missing component in the creation of a compelling story.  Reporters are now stepping away from the keyboard to learn new tools and tactics, such as shooting high quality photographs on an iPhone or producing a video.  Greg Otto, assistant editor for the Washington Business Journal, said, “It’s important to hone our skills and find the best way to tell our story.”

Moving on Up

Deadlines are shifting; no longer can a reporter sit on a story for an entire day, analyzing the various ways they could approach the news before filing at 5:00 p.m.  Now, it’s all about reporting as it happens.  The 24×7 newscycle creates a constant struggle for reporters to always be the first to report because if they don’t, someone else will.  And that someone could simply be a bystander on the street that breaks the news via Twitter.  The focus is now less about providing in-depth commentary, and more about getting content up early, often and during peak web traffic.

The Communicator + Reporter Dating Game

The value of a strong, trusted relationship could not be stressed enough among the panelists.  They urged PR professionals to proactively connect with reporters, when they are not trying to pitch them, to spark a collaborative partnership.  Let them know about your clients’ areas of expertise early on so that when they need a knowledgeable source right away, they know exactly who to call upon.

When describing the initiation of relationships between PR professionals and journalists, Scott Hensley, digital health correspondent and editor for NPR.org, joked there may be a need for a PR Match.com.  “I may be open to new relationships, though I already have a lot of steady ones,” he added.

 

 

4 Costumes PR Pros Should Avoid

HalloweenPhotoBy now, you’re probably well along in your quest to debut an original, imaginative costume on All Hallows’ Eve.  As PR professionals, we’re immersed in the headlines and latest trends, giving us a competitive advantage when it comes to inventing a costume that is not only timely, but creative enough to stand out among the rest.

While dressing up is top-of-mind for all of us during this time of year, unfortunately in this profession, practitioners can often make the mistake of wearing a costume to the office year-round.

Here are a few you may have unintentionally tried on for size:

  • The Jack-O-Lantern – We all have bright ideas inside of us, but sometimes we let insecurity get in the way and prevent them from shining through.  Sitting in a meeting and keeping all your thoughts on unconventional approaches to launching a new product or energizing your clients’ social base to yourself is not good for your agency or your career.  Embrace your creativity and never be afraid to express it; that little flicker of an idea could be enough to spark the next big thing.
  • The Ghost – Being a wispy presence during the planning and tactical stages of a campaign is not an option in PR.  Don’t be the person who hides from criticism, or, worse yet, appears out of the mist when it’s time for the accolades.  Take an active approach to making your presence known early and often, lending an eager hand and attitude every step of the way.
  • The Monster – Taking a lesson from Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” we know that a combination of knowledge and alienation can have grotesque results.  Likewise, piecing together old ideas and strategies and re-applying them to new campaigns can keep even the most weathered PR veterans stiff and stuck in their ways.  We can have the best intentions, but if we don’t make ourselves agile, flexible and open to new approaches, we’re not doing ourselves, our peers or our clients the justice we all deserve.
  • The Mummy – Last but certainly not least, with the 24×7 news cycle and on-demand society in which we operate, it’s easy to get too wrapped up in work.  Maintaining a professional-life balance is essential to success both inside and outside of the office.  At the end of each day, take some time to unwind, relax and reflect upon all you’ve accomplished.

Are there any similar “costumes” you or your colleagues have worn to work?

Keeping Organized with Hootsuite

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In my last post on Fireside, I talked about the series I write about the great social media resources available to businesses and ones we use here at Wireside.  In writing the post, I realized that the one tool I use day in and day out had not yet been highlighted in that series on tools we endorse.  It’s the common case of not recognizing what’s right under your nose.  But I’m rectifying that omission today.

Today, I’m writing about the tool I rely on every day to organize our social media output – Hootsuite.  Hootsuite was originally developed as a way to organize tweets.  It has since evolved into a service that helps users manage a number of social media platforms.  The free membership allows a user to set up to 9 streams that display different feeds for each social platform.  Here at Wireside, we monitor Twitter feeds about our clients, trending topics, and any mentions about our own brand.  It’s all in one place, easy to monitor, and keep track of the topics of greatest importance to our company.  We also have our Wireside Facebook and LinkedIn pages integrated with Hootsuite and monitor our wall posts and company updates.

The best feature I’ve found with Hootsuite is the ability to schedule tweets, Facebook and LinkedIn posts in advance.   It’s a great feature to make sure that relevant content is going out throughout the day and not all at once.

The free version also allows users to generate basic analytic reports that help to determine what is resonating best with their audience.  My favorite analytic report is the Ow.ly Click Summary which shows which links were clicked on most frequently.  It’s quick to generate and easy to understand when distributed throughout the company.

But even for all the wonderful things that Hootsuite does for me, it isn’t without a few quirks.  As it was originally created for use with Twitter, it still works best with that platform.  I still find the need to log in to Facebook directly sometimes because a wall post doesn’t display properly.  I’ve also found the search feature, to search for a person to follow or a hashtag, to be a bit limited and have found myself logging into Twitter directly on occasion when I can’t seem to pull the necessary information.

Yet, these are very minor inconveniences when compared to the amount of time saved with Hootsuite.  If you’re looking to get organized, I highly recommend setting up your Hootsuite account today.

A Brave New, Overshared World

SocialMediaI write a series on Fireside about social media resources we use here at Wireside that we endorse.  There seem to be so many great (mostly) free tools and resources for businesses to track and analyze social media output.  I’ve written on this blog about resources like Klout which allows individuals and businesses to gauge their influence on social media; RebelMouse which compiles a user’s social media output into a dynamic, colorful, easy-to-read format; and Bottlenose which allows users to analyze their social media influence and trends in real-time. And I don’t know what I’d do without Hootsuite, which allows me to schedule tweets and Facebook posts in advance, see a number of designated streams at once, and provides basic analytic tools – all for free.  It seems that every day a new start-up pops up to make my life as a manager of our social properties easier.  And I love that businesses use social media; it allows for a two-way dialogue with clients and customers rather than the one-way dialogue of the past.  As a marketer I love engaging with, not just talking to, customers.

But lately, I’ve read news account after news account about adolescents who are being bullied on social media, who are having their lives destroyed by one unflattering picture being posted online and remaining there forever.  In a recent article, in a series focusing on what they term “Generation Overshare,” an HLN.com reporter points out the difference between adolescents growing up today and those of past generations.  He notes that all of us encountered embarrassing experiences in our teen years (oh yes, I can attest to that!), but what’s changed is that now those embarrassing moments are turning up on Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram to exist in perpetuity and be shared and shared until kids in the neighboring town and around the world have seen it.   Sometimes those images come back to haunt them into adulthood when they go to get their first job and the hiring manager does a quick Internet search.

It’s definitely a brave new world and it has gotten me to thinking about what resources are out there to help adolescents analyze and protect their social media output.  Sure, they could sign up for Bottlenose and track the trends around their handle and their personal brand, but such services are marketed towards people like me – the digital marketing managers – not adolescents.  Where are the start-ups in Silicon Valley dedicated to sniffing out digital bullies and erasing derogatory, bullying posts and tweets?  Are there engineers working to build programs that can erase those awful, embarrassing images once teens graduate to adulthood and realize that hiring managers know how to use Google as well?  It seems there is quite a market for such services judging by the news coverage.  If you know of great tools out there to manage social media output for teens and anyone interested in protecting their personal brand, please leave a comment below.  After all, teen years will always be filled with embarrassing moments and kids will be kids, but should teens be judged forever on one embarrassing, overshared moment?

How Much Klout do you Have?

You’ve set up your company Twitter account and are tweeting with your followers, your company Facebook page is up and running and the number of likes are increasing.  Now what?  How do you measure how well your social properties are performing?  Enter, Klout.  Klout is a free service that measures influence across a number of social media platforms.  Originally just for individual users, the company recently released Klout for Business (currently in beta) to help businesses better gauge their influence on social media.

Klout defines influence as the response received from what a user shares on social media.  The more you engage with your audience and they engage with you in return, the higher the Klout score.  With the individual accout, Klout tracks more than 400 distinct points across a variety of social media channels to create a Klout score, including Wikipedia pages.  Having a number of properties linked will only help the Klout score increase.  Data is updated every 24 hours and scores fluctuate based on how much engagement there is.  Stop tweeting for a week and your score could go down sharply.  Klout The site also includes insights into what topics influencers care about the most and recommendations on how to better engage with your audience.

One limitation with a business account, probably due to it still being in beta, is that not all social media properties are available for businesses as for individual account holders (for instance, LinkedIn can only be connected to an individual account, not to a company LinkedIn page, and there is no way to link a company’s Wikipedia page).  Even with its shortcomings, however, having a Klout for Business account is still a good tool in your arsenal to track how your social media program is performing.  It should not be seen as the authority – each company has unique goals and expectations for their social media program which should be measured individually – but adding Klout for Business into the equation allows one more metric for measurement.  And today, when everyone seems to want to know ROI and have hard metrics behind their communications strategy, having another metric – and a concrete score – is a helpful tool in any communicator’s toolkit.

Social Media Sonar Graphs with Bottlenose

So you have the Twitter account up and running and you’re posting daily, interacting with others, and following the conversations but how do you really know what the key trends are so you can contribute in a more effective way?  How can you take all those conversations and put them into a visually appealing graph so others can quickly digest the conversations?  Or, how can you synthesize the conversation occurring around one, key term?  The answer, my friends, is Bottlenose.

Bottlenose is currently in beta with a pro, paid version on the way, but for now you can use their service to analyze trends in real-time in your twitter and other social media feeds, generate sonar charts based on your choice of keywords, and more.  It aims to make sense of what is happening now so you can react and interact as conversations are happening.  And the best part?  It’s free!  It takes a couple minutes to set up with your Twitter account and then you’re up and analyzing the trends and conversations happening between you and your followers.
Wireside_Bottlenose

The feature I like best is the Bottlenose sonar graph.  It is a graphical depiction of the conversation around a chosen key word.  It’s great to use if you’re running a campaign and want to see in real-time what people are saying around a key term.  You will probably discover some trends you didn’t even know were occurring that will lead to richer engagement in the future.

Bottlenose Pro promises to have more robust analytic capabilities, but for those just starting to measure their social media reach and engagement, the free version is a good way to start.  So, what are you waiting for?  Jump on in – the water’s fine!

 

 
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