Fresh Ideas from BurrellesLuce
In this day and age you would think that being intelligent and confident would allow women to be taking seriously in the board room, on the golf course and at home, but there are still many who struggle with self-esteem and the entitlement to feel empowered no matter where or what situation they are in.
Luckily, several brands have jumped on board and created campaigns that don’t just appeal to women that are housewives and mothers but to strong ambitious women. These brands are inspiring women to feel assertive when it comes to the way they look, act and feel.
Let’s look at a couple of brands that are leaders in empowering women:
Over the last couple of years, Dove, has certainly become the leader in the movement with their “Campaign for Real Beauty”. The goal behind the campaign is to “Imagine a World Where Beauty is a Source of Confidence, Not Anxiety.” The campaign started a global conversation about the need for a wider definition of beauty after the study proved the hypothesis that the definition of beauty had become limiting and unattainable. Among the study’s findings was the statistic that only two percent of women around the world would describe themselves as beautiful.
Ban Bossy Campaign
This is not your customary ad campaign; it is a PSA by Lean In and the Girl Scouts of the USA. Many celebrities have joined the campaign to empower not only women but young girls to take the leadership role, be ambitious, and know there are no limits to what they can achieve. And “bossy” is just the beginning. As girls mature, the words may change, but their meaning and impact remain the same. Women who behave assertively are labeled “aggressive,” “angry,” “shrill” and “overly ambitious.” Powerful and successful men are often well liked, but when women become powerful and successful, all of us—both men and women—tend to like them less.
Last year Pantene launched The Global #ShineStrong campaign, which educates and enables women to overcome bias and societal expectations and celebrates strong women. A recent ad campaign was created to trigger water cooler talk regarding how women innocently minimize their power by always apologizing, even though there is no need to. The “Not Sorry” ad has already received over 2.5 million views, with hopes to be a successor of the Pantene Philippines “Labels” campaign from last year that has over 46 million views.
Kevin Crociate, marketing director of Procter & Gamble’s North American hair care business, said “We’ve struck a chord in terms of changing gender norms for women” and that they “used market research to look at what gender norms were holding women back and tried to tap into the most relevant and insightful areas. This problem of saying sorry, it wasn’t just something women in the U.S. were facing but globally. After the success of the first campaign, ‘Shine Strong’ is something we’re committed to as a brand.”
While many of the female species may claim that these brands are being condescending in their attempts to to empower women, I think that ads that enable women to show their true beauty and poise will continue to encourage all of us.
Do you think these campaigns are actually empowering, or are they calling us out for lack of confidence and implying that we hold ourselves back? Or worse, are they pandering?
We all know that storytelling is a key component of public relations. We tell stories to enhance our brand, our client and/or our mission. You know your story is being heard, but is your audience really listening?
McDonald’s USA public relations manager Christina Tyler, APR, spoke last week at the PRSA Midwest District Conference on how to be disruptive to get your points across. She began by showing McDonald’s advertising clips, spanning four decades (that’s 40 years for those who are math-challenged), all saying their burgers are 100% pure beef. This message was loud and clear in the ads; yet, in nearly every focus group, the main question people had was “What’s in the beef?”
Tyler talked about consumers seeing Super Size Me and making (incorrect) assumptions about their ingredients. Or, perhaps they saw a Facebook post that was a hoax, myth or urban legend, but gets passed along by the uninformed as truth. She discussed how stimuli gets interpreted by our beliefs to form “facts” that may not be facts at all. Perception IS reality.
Time to get disruptive! It doesn’t have to be “in your face” or rude, and you shouldn’t feel obliged to engage trolls. What you do need to do is to interrupt the flow of information. Tyler laid out six disruptive tactics McDonald’s has used and why they work:
1. Start on the inside of the organization
- Make sure the customer’s voice is present. Be sure your messages, campaigns and programs support what the marketing team is saying/doing. Push your organization’s tolerance.
- This works because consumers are naturally “me” focused. Consistency across all touch points improves the likelihood of being heard.
2. Play to the heart
- Leverage your history and shared cultural experiences (like the Dove soap commercials, for example). Lead with your values. Step aside and let fans tell the stories that matter to them.
- This works because it makes people feel “warm and fuzzy” so they are more likely to listen. People like to share their own stories—you simply provide the platform.
- Show them everything.
- People need to see to believe.
4. Change the messenger
- Move away from corporate spokespeople and toward real people. Credibility doesn’t always equal credentials.
- Letting someone they trust share the story improves believability.
5. Provide unexpected access
- First, broaden your idea of who should get access. Offer face time with CEO, or take them behind the scenes, or better yet—put them to work. Let them experience it–see it, touch it, feel it. Tyler gave the example here of taking a blogger to the farm where McDonald’s ingredients are grown and having them crack an egg or pick a piece of lettuce.
- Seeing is believing; doing is even better. That’s why this works.
6. Take yourself out of context
- Make it possible for customers to experience you in a new milieu. Surprise them by doing something unexpected of your brand. For example, last year, McDonald’s held a Top Chef event in New York where they gave top chefs the ingredients used in McDonald’s restaurants and had them create a menu. They invited 100 people to sample the results. People were amazed that these gourmet dishes came from the same ingredients as are found under their local ”golden arches.”
- You can probably see from the example why this works. If you can truly set aside existing perceptions, then you have better odds at engaging in a new dialogue.
So, ask yourself, is what’s standing in the way of me disrupting the status quo and getting my message across the adherence to doing things the way it has always been done just because that’s the way it’s always been done? If the answer is yes, then get disruptive!
by Lauren Skidmore*
You’ve written a book. Great! But that’s only the start of publishing. Even if you do public relations or marketing as a day job, marketing your own debut book can feel like shouting into a void, especially when you don’t have a built-in audience from a large publisher to do half of the work for you. My debut novel was released a month ago, but the work that went into marketing it began long before that. Here are three quick tips on how to jump start getting that book into the hands of readers.
Create an Online Presence
People need to be able to find you. The general recommendations are to pick two or three social media platforms to do, and then do them well. An author website is a must, even if it’s just a simple landing page – you can always expand it later, and you’ll be glad when you’ve claimed your domain name early.
Facebook and Twitter are also strongly recommended, but it also depends on which platforms your target demographic use. With a young adult fantasy novel, I split most of my time between Twitter and Tumblr because that’s where many of my readers are (and it’s where I have the most fun). I also use a Facebook page and my blog for big announcements so readers can always quickly find out what’s new with me.
Build an Audience
When I pitched my novel to potential publishers, one of the things they wanted to know was how many followers I already had online. As a hobby, I had a Tumblr with over 4,000 followers at the time – that’s 4,000 potential readers right there! Publishers don’t like to take risks, and if they see you already have thousands of potential buyers, that’s one more mark in your favor. Again, pick the place that works best for you. It doesn’t really matter whether you do this through blogging, Twitter, or elsewhere, just get that follower count high.
You also want to hold on to your audience, and newsletters are great for that. People can sign up and get updates right in their inboxes. I suggest only sending these newsletters when you have big announcements, such as a book release or promotions, and definitely no more than once a month so you don’t spam your readers. MailChimp and Constant Contact are two popular tools for creating your own newsletters, and if you’re under 2,000 subscribers, MailChimp is free!
What will people associate with your name as an author? For non-fiction writers, you should establish yourself as some sort of authority or expert in your field. You can write guest blog posts or maintain your own blog, participate in social media or forum discussions, or whatever you can think of to put your name out there.
For fiction writers, it’s a little different, although doing any of the above certainly won’t hurt. You’ll want to define your genre, as well as what you’re bringing that’s new. For example, my novel was essentially pitched to publishers as a Cinderella retelling in which Cinderella has to rescue the prince.
Genre? Fairy Tale Retelling. What’s different? Role reversal. My target audience knows right away if this was something they’d be interested in, as well as what makes it different from every other retelling.
The good news about doing all this early is that the groundwork will already be done when your release date is here, and you can hit the ground running on your next novel. Because in the end, the best thing you can do is keep writing and keep releasing new material. Your books will begin to advertise for you as they take up more shelf space and loyal readers return to see what else you have in store.
Lauren Skidmore is the Broadcast Keyperson at BurrellesLuce by day and writes by night. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English Teaching and double minors in Teaching English as a Second Language and Japanese. After graduating, she lived and taught in Japan for a year before returning to the United States where she spends far too much time on computers and the internet. What is Hidden is her first novel.
The media at large can’t really decide whether print is dead or not, but a look at the change in newspaper circulation statistics for the top 25 newspaper outlets – and the savvy businessmen snapping those outlets up – provides a pretty definitive answer:
No, print isn’t dead.
Click here to download this infographic.
Using data from our 2014 Top Media Outlet list and its 2009 counterpart, we examined the circulation numbers for the nation’s top 25 newspapers. In light of how much talk about newspapers is of the doomsday variety, the numbers were somewhat reassuring: on average, circulation numbers among the top 25 newspaper outlets increased by an average 25 percent. Take a look at the below table for the actual newspaper circulation statistics:
The statistics for newspaper circulations show that some papers performed better than others; the paper with the biggest growth in the previous five years was the LA Daily News, with a 201 percent circulation increase. Not far behind was the San Jose Mercury News, with a 144 percent increase in circulation. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and The New York Times also saw large gains of 99 percent and 90 percent respectively.
The Arizona Republic had the biggest decrease in circulation, with a 41 percent drop. The Washington Post saw a circulation drop of 31 percent, and the New York Daily News experienced a drop of 26 percent. 11 of the 25 publications (44 percent) experienced a drop in circulation, so clearly the newspaper industry still faces a myriad of challenges, however the gains the other papers made is indicative that the modern newspaper industry has stabilized significantly since the Great Recession.
Some of this stability and growth likely has to do with the fact that these papers have strong elements of editorial review and investigative journalism. Newspaper readership statistics show that local, high-quality journalism has been able to maintain a foothold – 54 percent of readers in 150 large markets read their local news only in print.
And if business tycoons like Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, John Henry, and HF Lenfest are any indication, print still holds value. Their newspaper acquisitions in recent years show that newspapers may be not just a monetary investment, but an investment in influence and the 21st century incarnation of print and digital news.
Click here to download this infographic.
Did you have to Google an explanation of how the US Soccer team lost last week and still advanced to the next round of the World Cup? I did. While I was delighted with the result – the home team advancing – it wasn’t initially clear how they had pulled off such a coup. Once I better understood the brackets, that all ”wins” are not created equal, all “goals” weigh very important and that someone else losing helps, it made sense. It’s actually quite similar to the media relations ecosystem and enforces the importance of having qualitative and quantitative elements to any analysis program.
Brackets: Each day there’s a lot of competition for quality editorial real estate. Depending on your industry or vertical market and what’s happening that day, there’s a built in demand for certain types of coverage and dominant ”players” will get a lot of attention. I’m sure we all feel like we are in our own ”Group of Death.”
Win: While you may get some coverage, a true ”win” is subjective. For many organizations certain qualitative elements – i.e. positive tone, appears in a key outlet, features key messages and builds your organization’s reputation – is required for a true win.
Goal: When building your brand, every story is a brick in the foundation. Not only for the obvious SEO, but also for learning and developing messages that support overarching business objectives.
Someone has to lose: No matter how amazing your story, event or issue, a breaking issue will take precedent. When everything goes perfectly and all of your interviews lined up go through without a hitch, it’s a good day, but some days you’re Portugal.
Almost any aspect of business can be placed into these same elements. The real takeaway is to always do your best and play to win. Even in the toughest groups those teams who are conditioned and wholly prepared for the elements along with the slings and arrows of circumstance will prevail. Always keep your eye on the goal and with your best players at peak performance you’ll increase your chances to score.
If you don’t make the goal initially, you’ll ideally develop your strength where needed or identify the weakness that gives you an advantage and succeed the next time. Manage expectations and have contingency plans. One real dire risk of only using quantitative metrics in media analysis is on any given day you could be Portugal (look equal to a former campaign or program) but the overall score does not reflect comparative ”results.”
Disclosure: I write this as a former coach. I coached the Sharks (my brother’s soccer team for five-year-olds) to a winning (6-2) season, so I know a thing or two about the game and what it takes to win.
If you caught Tuesday’s episode of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, you might have noticed that beneath all the political ballyhoo, something pretty notable happened. In the first three minutes of the segment you’ll notice a prominent prop. That’s right – it’s the front sections of The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Leaving all politics where they belong – on the side – this segment is a remarkable demonstration of the influence that print newspapers still yield. The entire beginning of the segment is not only structured around the content of a newspaper, but the anchors also wave it around prominently for three whole minutes. There aren’t many things that say “Newspapers matter” more than that.
MSNBC could have shown the anchors on their tablets viewing the paper’s digital edition, or they could have brought up a graphic of the homepage on the screen, but they didn’t. Why?
Because the front page is still notable. Despite our digital era, what goes on the front page of a newspaper is way more noteworthy because there’s not infinite space, and what goes on there is permanent. You can’t change out the headline after a few hours – once it’s the headline, that’s it.
The digital front page doesn’t have the same gravitas that the paper front page does because it’s the opposite of all those things: it’s impermanent and it changes in real time. Of course, digital news is still important, as Americans are accessing news digitally on many devices throughout the day. But homepages don’t command as much influence or as many eyes as the digital content.
The segment also shows that people just read print versions differently. People may trust print more (ironic given the content of the Morning Joe segment) than online because of its permanence. So thank you, Morning Joe, for reminding us just how much print matters – and why it’s not going away.
Just last week we discussed Contently’s content marketing survey and the gaps in content marketing management. One of these biggest gaps came in the form of marketers choosing the wrong metrics for their goals and relying on the aforementioned pageview and visitor number to measure the success of their content. Why don’t those metrics work? They’re mostly used for buying and selling ads, not measuring brand awareness or engagement.
Upworthy announced on Sunday that they are changing how they measure their engagement. Instead of visitors and pageviews, they’re going for “attention minutes,” which measures “everything from video player signals about whether a video is currently playing to a user’s mouse movements to which browser tab is currently open – all to determine whether the user is still engaged.” For those with coding resources available, Upworthy is even making a sample of their code for attention minutes available for others to work from.
This change means that Upworthy can monetize their audience’s attention instead of their clicks. So while five different video posts may get the same number of visitors, those watching the duration of a 12-minute video will be far more engaged with the site than those who stay to watch a seven-minute video.
Upworthy’s not the only one basing a lot more on engagement instead of clicks: The Financial Times just announced that it will sell its display ads based on how much time its audience spends with content. While The Financial Times’s commercial director of digital advertising Jon Slade admits it’s still an experiment, he says he wants to prove “that the longer you show somebody a piece of brand creative, the more resonance that piece of content has with an audience.”
Of course, this doesn’t mean that this shiny new metric is infallible; for sites that publish short, quick-read posts, attention minutes would not be as effective a tool in measurement or content differentiation. But that’s OK – no one measure is effective for every kind of content, which is exactly why the innovation of attention minutes is important and very relevant to the PR industry’s measurement conversations.
If AMEC’s recent Social Media Measurement Framework User Guide has made anything clear, it’s that measurement is not one metric; it’s a spectrum of interactions and intertwined metrics that measures outcomes, not outputs, and is a process that should be specially tailored to each organization and its goals, contents, and channels.
Media contact databases have long been considered a critical tool in the public relations pro’s arsenal. But such contact lists must be used with discretion, careful targeting, and common sense.
The purpose of a media contact list is to provide PR pros with contact information for relevant journalists, not to provide a recipient list for an impersonal press release blast. This may sound like Public Relations 101, but when journalists receive press releases that aren’t relevant to their beat, location, or publication, they get frustrated, and it gradually erodes the quality of relationships between public relations and journalism:
On mission to stop receiving stupid press releases that have nothing to do with my work. @BurrellesLuce is main culprit
— Dave Lieber, CSP (@DaveLieber) June 18, 2014
Media lists should be but one small component of our outreach efforts. Especially in 2014, when within minutes we can call up all the articles a journalist has written, take a look at his or her Twitter, and assess whether our information is of interest. Media lists cannot and should not be a substitute for meaningful, personalized connections.
Here are things you must consider for every journalist before sending them a pitch or press release:
- Does this pitch pertain to their specific geographic area?
- Does it pertain to the journalist’s specific reporting areas? i.e. an investigative reporter will have no use for the announcement of a new restaurant location opening
- Does the publication run the types of story you are pitching?
- Is this really newsworthy? Yes, it’s frustrating when clients demand coverage for something we know isn’t really news, but sending a journalist an irrelevant release just so you can tell the client you sent it will not help your case when you have something of true value in the future
It’s time to stop taking the short view of just sending a press release to say it was sent to X number of people. If it’s not relevant to most of those people, it’s not only the same as not sending it, it’s worse. Think of the long-term implications of repeatedly sending irrelevant press releases: it trains journalists to tune them out. It’s a classic Boy-Who-Cried-Wolf scenario: no one will listen when you finally have something valuable to say.
Though it might not seem like it, journalists and PR pros are fighting the same battle. We’re all fighting to do more work on less time in a saturated medium. So instead of using the challenge as an excuse, use it as a way to better relate to our journalist counterparts. It can only make it better for all of us.
Streamlining your organization’s social media procedures is not a simple as merely designating a token Millennial as resident social media expert and letting it go from there. Creating an effective standard that many can and will follow takes time, thought, and continual checking in. Whether you’re starting from scratch or reassessing a current social media procedure, here are a few of the most important factors to consider.
Determine your goals
As with every project, standardizing social media procedures starts with establishing SMART goals, and you’ll probably have a lot of them. Maybe you’re looking to increase engagement, or get more reliable measurements, or establish a consistent presence. Whatever your goals are, each of the standards must contribute to those goals in order to create a sustainable, successful procedural.
Have measurement methods ready
The key to successful social media usage is knowing what works and what doesn’t, and the only way to do that is to measure, as accurately as possible, the outcomes of your social media efforts beyond shares and likes. A resource like the AMEC Social Media Measurement Framework User Guide is valuable in both the planning stage and throughout implementation.
Designate who’s responsible
In order for your standards to work, someone has to be accountable. Maybe it’s you, a person in marketing, or a few people who work together, but the people or positions who are held accountable and who hold others accountable must be designated from the outset.
Each responsible party should also know exactly what they’re accountable for, so outline the tasks and social media aspects each person must cover. Divide up responsibility by social media channel, types of outputs, or even by the schedule, but make sure it is clear and that everyone is committed.
Outlined responsibilities should also cover people who will participate but who may not manage efforts on a daily basis. This might include occasional bloggers who post links to their blogs, or other team members who pinch hit when a regular member is out.
Set the schedule
Determining how often and at what times you will post to social media is critical for consistency, which will create momentum and push you toward your goals. Set the posting schedule for each social media channel and stick to it. Part of scheduling should include determining how many of your posts are to your own content and how many of them are shares to other content sources.
Establish your social media voice
Of course, you’ll want your social media efforts to stay true to your corporate voice and image, so determine early on how social media accounts can best support that. If you want your social media accounts to spin off a new corporate voice, determine that before it goes live and test some potential posts to make sure it’s viable.
This leads into determining what types of content are appropriate for your social media channels, and what aren’t. Is your Twitter account silly and irreverent like Denny’s or DiGiorno Pizza’s? Or is it information- and marketing-focused like Ford’s?
Explain legal issues clearly
If there are any legal limitations as to what employees may post on social media, make it very clear, but don’t be heavy-handed in preventing employees from talking about work. Last year The New York Times reported that the National Labor Relations Board said “workers have a right to discuss work conditions without fear of retribution, whether the discussion takes place at the office or on Facebook.”
Create a guide
Just like a style guide, all this information should go in a guide that all relevant team members receive. Having it written makes it easier for reference, accountability, and future review. Within the guide, set a timeline for regular reviews with the social media team so that the procedures can be revised for efficiency and efficacy.
When 90 percent of surveyed marketers say they’re uncertain that their key metrics are effective in measuring business results, you know you’ve got a measurement gap.
That startling statistic came earlier this week when Contently released its State of Content Marketing survey, which sampled 302 marketers split evenly across B2B and B2C businesses. Though social media metrics and measurement are hot topics in marketing and public relations communities, it seems the boots on the measurement ground aren’t sure what to do.
While that headlining stat does suggest a large swath of uncertain marketers (albeit in a pretty small sample), there were other statistics toward the bottom of the report that were far more telling:
Marketers are choosing the wrong metrics for their goals
The report showed that only 11 percent of marketers stated ad monetization as a goal for their content. Yet 69 percent of them measure the success of their content by pageviews, a metric which – the study points out – is primarily used for buying or selling ads.
That means that many of the more than 72 percent of marketers who identified brand awareness as the goal of their content are measuring that goal with the wrong metric. There is a world outside of the pageview. But multiple metrics does not cohesive measurement make – it doesn’t matter how many metrics you’ve got if you don’t have the right metrics.
Shares are overvalued
Luckily, many (65 percent of respondents) of the marketers who measure pageviews also measure for shares and likes. Unfortunately, a quick look at the next page in the report shows that shares and likes may not mean that much after all, since research from Chartbeat shows that there is zero correlation between reading an article and sharing it.
Lack of awareness
Nearly 50 percent of marketers said they wished they could measure how much real attention people are paying to their content, even though simple analytics like bounce rate or time spent on a page (which only 45 percent of respondents measure) are great basic indicators. Not to mention that how much attention people pay to content is exactly the type of thing Chartbeat measures.
How to fix it
Measurement is not easy, and the reason many of these simplistic, sometimes irrelevant metrics persist in measurement programs is because they are free and easy to obtain. Unfortunately, they’re just not effective measures of everything.
We need to start thinking of measurement as a spectrum of interactions instead of a slice of numbers. That’s why the debut of AMEC’s new Social Media Measurement Framework User Guide is so important; it looks at the stages of the marketing funnel over different channels and encourages users to think critically about their objectives, channels, and resources as it relates to their content and marketing process.
The difficulty of tracking measurement and conversations is why marketers and PR pros also need social listening programs to ensure they don’t just count the shares, but listen to what’s being said about their content so they can start tracking tone and sentiment in responses as well as in their media mentions.
Here are some BurrellesLuce resources to get you started on developing your measurement processes:
by Athina Koutsoumadi*
On Thursday evening June 5th, 12 teams from PR firms participated in the PRSA-NY Annual Summer Social: Amazing Race 2014, sponsored by Anchin, Block and Anchin LLP. Our team, “The Analytics,” consisted of Anchin’s Josephine Lau and Athina Koutsoumadi, as well as BurrellesLuce‘s Alfred Cox and Colleen Flood. The race started at Stitch Bar & Lounge, located on West 37th Street. Our team was very eager to conquer the world but we were more in line with “Pinky and The Brain” as we managed to finish in third place…from the bottom!
All in good fun, we enjoyed running around the streets of Manhattan, starting from Midtown West, Times Square, circling a few blocks around, taking pictures of strangers, borrowing magazines (GQ w/ Channing Tatum – seriously) for a “celebrity” picture, getting yelled at by a school teacher while attempting to take a picture of a student holding a camcorder, handing over my iPhone to strangers to take a picture followed by a threatening line “If you run with my phone, we’ll catch you!”
We made it to the East Side while pretending to be Superman around the globe in the Daily News building, only to scare the life out of a lady who helped us with a group picture. It’s amazing to see how New Yorkers bond when they see you running, sweat dripping down your forehead, holding your hips as you feel they will dislocate and you ask them to take a picture. An elderly couple stepped up to the challenge of taking a group picture in the Fox News building, waiting patiently for the ticker to show “Fox News”… If only they had realized that our ticker was ticking as time was of the essence!
We took pride in not using public transportation, which gave us consolation as to our place in the race. Walking the streets allowed Josephine to find electronic stores to take pictures of tape recorders (who really uses those anymore?) and Colleen to use Google Maps for New York buildings. Ah!…. The joy of the iPhone app ScanQuest! As only one person on each team had to download the app and control the challenges and pictures, we faced a different type of challenge! Running and looking at challenges simultaneously, I held onto my phone “for dear life,” and also tried to control Alfred who loved leading the way, only for Colleen having to call him to find him! These unforgettable moments between the two firms have set the stage for next year’s team (only with a better name) and created a strong bond. We are going to be “The Incredible 4”, with the costumes to go with it. This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship! It doesn’t get any better than that!
Brains can do a lot of things computers can’t, but they still do some weird things that work against us. Take the negativity bias: our brains are built to react more strongly to negative perceptions. This means we’re more influenced by comments, experiences, or interactions we (correctly or incorrectly) perceive as negative which can adversely affect our performance.
We can work around the negativity bias, but we have to be aware of it first. Here are three ways it affects your work, and ways to mitigate that effect.
Marketing or PR campaigns
Next time you’re wording a media response, crafting a tweet, or tweaking your messaging, consider whether your audience could perceive what you say as negative. When you’re crafting words for public consumption, keep positive words top of mind and use them as much as possible, and avoid negative words.
Sit down and consider what you wrote from another angle. Try reading it out loud to see if it sounds different, and have someone else – even if they’re not familiar with your project – read it and give you their feedback. Getting a range of opinions and thinking about what you write from multiple angles could help mitigate the negativity bias.
When we’re reading emails from someone, our brains interpret messages that are neutral as negative, and messages that are positive as neutral. Part of the reason email is especially vulnerable is that there is no way to discern body language or tone of voice through a computer screen.
When you’re writing emails you want to make sure you don’t sound negative, a lot of times brevity is not your friend. Example:
That’s not what we discussed. Let’s talk.
It’s concise, but it also sounds terse and stands a good chance of putting off your recipient. Revamp:
I don’t have that listed as something we talked about. Let’s arrange a quick follow-up to make sure we’re on the same page
That sounds a lot more positive. It took you longer to type, but softening your language will ease your recipients’ negativity bias, thereby making your communications more effective.
If you’re on the receiving end of what reads like a terse or harsh email, before you get put off, remember the negativity bias: what you read as negative the sender may have meant as neutral. Consider also who it’s coming from; if it’s someone with whom you regularly interact, imagine the email in their voice and see if the negativity still holds.
The negativity bias is everywhere, from comments your boss makes about your performance to offhand remarks from colleagues. We can even interpret negativity in compliments, such as “That’s the most compelling pitch I’ve heard from you.” Automatically we think: Well, what was so bad about all my other pitches? even though that (probably) wasn’t the intent of the compliment.
In your everyday work life, it can be hard not to let the negativity bias get you down and influence your performance. Try to move your attention to put you back in a positive frame of mind; a great exercise is to write down the things you’re grateful for in that moment.
And don’t forget to remind yourself of the negativity bias; once you know it’s there, it’s a lot easier to overcome.
It’s one thing to know we should be measuring our social media communications campaigns – and it’s quite another to know just how to do that. Today marks the start of AMEC International Summit on Measurement, and with it comes something big: AMEC’s Social Media Measurement Framework User Guide.
The guide provides an example of how to apply the framework. It does not focus on developing a single metric for measuring communications progress; rather, it is a guide designed to look at multiple metrics across different stages of campaigns and assess outcomes, not outputs, to make results meaningful, credible, and useful.
Within the user guide are two frameworks: the Paid, Owned, and Earned Framework and the Programme, Business, and Channel Metrics Framework. Both frameworks use the same five stages of the marketing funnel to measure outcomes and help PR pros better understand how each channel impacts the goals of your campaign:
Exposure: Potential audience exposure to content and messages
Engagement: Interactions that occur in response to content on an owned channel
Preference: Ability to cause or contribute to a change in opinion or behavior
Impact: Effect on the target audience. Can include but not limited to any financial impact
Advocacy: Are others making the case for you about something? Includes positive sentiment such as a recommendation, a call to action or call to purchase, suggested usage or change of opinion.
The framework is broken down into six steps:
Plan with SMART objectives. Remember, all your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Select a framework. Decide whether the Paid, Earned, and Owned framework or the Programme, Business, and Channel Metrics framework best fit your campaign.
Populate. Populate the framework with the metrics that matter to you and that represent a balance and broad view.
Data. Identify what data you will need, some of which you may need to obtain from specialist providers. Be sure to be clear how you will collect it and where it will come from.
Measure. Ensure the data covers all appropriate fields and determine when and how often you will need to measure the data.
Report. Put your results into reports that best suit your audience, whether that be charts and graphs, written reports, or videos.
Also, make sure to check out page 10 of the user guide, which gives 10 top tips for using and making the best of the frameworks.
How do these frameworks and models help your measurement processes?
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Yeah. Because computers are renowned for their wit.
As The Washington Post reported, the Secret Service wants to automate their social media monitoring process and quantify their social media outreach and lots of other things public relations pros and their organizations want.
“More specifically, the orders ask for a long list of specific tools, including the ability to identify social media influencers, analyze data streams in real time, access old Twitter data and use heat maps.”
Is a computer program really the best way to detect sarcasm? Machines don’t have a sense of humor and are notoriously poor at correctly identifying sarcasm and irony; when given a pool of sarcastic tweets, computers identified sarcasm successfully only 65 percent of the time. And that’s when all the tweets were already sarcastic. So why search for a computer program to do a mediocre job when you could hire human analysts to do the job with more accuracy?
Here’s what we know at BurrellesLuce: Software makes an excellent first tier for sorting through data, but there are things computers just can’t do as well as humans. Here are just three reasons that computers are not the pinnacle in measurement:
- Qualitative analysis improves predictive models: A human will produce more targeted results when going through a random sample of captured data. Those results will improve your predictive models for recurring situations.When you have a set of captured data, a human going through a random selection will produce more targeted results that can be used toward a predictive model for recurring situations.
- Accuracy through qualitative measurements: When assigning tone, a majority of software programs default to labeling something “neutral” when tone is not clear. If increasing positive coverage is your goal and you know you’re using a program that defaults to neutral, you’re already starting at a deficit and looking at potentially skewed results.
- Cost vs. Price: If you’re relying solely on a computer sort tone, there will be false positives and false negatives that a human must sort through. The resulting cost in personnel is – more times than not – much higher than outsourcing the original work to a company like BurrellesLuce, which has a dedicated workforce which specializes specifically in gathering and analyzing that data.
So maybe it’s more a question of why are we willing to cede tasks at which computers do not excel to computers? Maybe this is just the next step toward cybernetic revolt. Or maybe it’s time for us to integrate technology with the advanced machines that reside in our heads. CC John Connor.
When someone well-known puts their foot in their mouth, the media delights but the public relations pro cringes. The reps for Charlize Theron and Gwyneth Paltrow had very good reason to cringe this week when they both made ill-thought-out remarks about the nature of fame.
When SkyNews brought up her Google results, Theron replied, “I don’t [Google myself] – that’s my saving grace. When you start living in that world, and doing that, you start feeling raped.”
A few days prior, remarking on harsh online comments lobbed at her, Paltrow stated that such attention is “a very dehumanizing thing. It’s almost like how, in war, you go through this bloody, dehumanizing thing, and then something is defined out of it. My hope is as we get out of it, we’ll reach the next level of conscience.”
In case you needed us to point it out, fame is not like war or sexual assault. So why did they give these answers to what were certainly not hardball questions? Herein lies a very important public relations reminder: when you prep a client or spokesperson for a media interview, prep them on the hard questions and the easy questions.
No one is too good for prep
No matter how accomplished a person is at being interviewed, they’re never too good for practice. Jim Miller, formerly SVP at Dentsu Communications and current president at Momentum Communications Group, says that “the best value you can provide is to cover the basics: review anticipated questions, reinforce key messages” and get in a practice run. A good rule of thumb is one hour of prep for every minute of air time. If someone is interviewed frequently, prep them regularly to keep them sharp and prevent any lapses.
Consistency and Sincerity
Interviewees who get a lot of coverage are likely to be asked the same questions multiple times, and even if they’ve answered a question countless times, it could be the first time a particular audience hears the answer. In order for the audience to be compelled to care about the interviewee, he must be sincere and relatable. Sound bites, even for the repeat questions, are a great aid for avoiding feigned interest or any perceived defensiveness. Your subject needs to connect to the audience and if they get stumped on the “What are your plans for the holiday?” then the rest falls apart quickly.
Rephrase common questions
When you’re prepping, always reframe the same questions to ensure you don’t fall prey to reiterating a negatively asked question and fumbling your response to fit into how the question was asked. practice tailoring canned responses. For example, “Do you Google yourself?” and “How do you feel when you Google yourself?” or “What’s the most surprising thing you’ve seen when you’ve Googled yourself?” Using the same talking points with different delivery will keep your interviewees thinking.
Keep everyone up-to-date
Your client or spokesperson may be asked to comment on a topic that is related, even if tangentially. Make sure they know how to respond with a key message or are adequately trained to bridge back to the primary topic.
Assess what works, then build
The post-interview debrief is equally as important as the preparation. You can get the best assessment of “what we can do better next time” of “need to hit that issue harder” of “have more resources about X to demonstrate expertise on the matter.”
Storytelling is a very powerful tool in the media relations arsenal; unfortunately, when placed in the wrong hands can be lethal. Work with subjects to make sure the images they conjure are relevant and on target. What other tips do you have for prepping answers to the easy questions?
Now what? Whether you’re unplugging for a day or a week, the best way to take advantage of your newfound unplugged time is to know what the goal of unplugging is in the first place. Is it to brainstorm new ideas, forcibly manage your time, relax and recharge, or reconnect with a hobby? Your goal defines how to use your unplugged time.
Here are three ways to take advantage of your status as digital hermit and achieve your goal of getting it done or getting away from it all.
If your goal is to brainstorm, set aside time to sit down with a pen and paper for at least ten minutes and write whatever comes into your head. It’s helpful if it is related to what you want to work on, but it’s not mandatory.
This is an exercise I used to do at a writing retreat (and an exercise I should do more often), and it helps to loosen your thinking muscles – think of it as a warm-up to your productivity workout. Often, in what you wrote you’ll find a nugget, a great idea you hadn’t thought of before, which makes working that much smoother and more productive.
It’s important that during this exercise, you do your best not to judge what you write as “stupid” or “pointless.” It doesn’t matter what you write, just that you write something and get your brain whirring in a non-digital medium.
Savor the silence
So you want to relax and recharge; it’s not always as easy as you hope it will be. To keep from feeling unmoored once you unplug, think of what you do on vacation. Do you read, take a walk, nap, meditate, or play a sport? Do that!
If you’ve been so busy that you’ve forgotten how you unwind, you definitely need this unplug time, so don’t give into the digital withdrawal you’ll likely experience. The free writing exercise can help you relax your mind, but if you don’t want silence, consider reaching out (via telephone, not email or text!) to friends or family for a social visit (sans digital device). This can help you ease in to your unplugged state by constructively and beneficially occupying your mind.
Do your best not to give in to the voice that tells you you have to do something. Being connected tricks us into thinking we can do something all the time; connecting to the world outside your screen is doing something.
Manage withdrawal – or the dread of reconnecting
You may experience withdrawal, but the plus side is that it probably won’t last for long; people who are forced to disconnect often find their unplugged lives to be much more vivid and refreshing. If you feel withdrawal, put your device well out of reach. Some heavy Internet users experience a significant drop in mood once they’re disconnected, so keeping yourself occupied with friends or activities can help lessen that. If you’re only disconnecting for an hour or two – or even for 24 – moving to an unconnected area won’t rely solely on your willpower.
Chances are, you’ll unplug and never wish to go back. Unless your career and lifestyle can support that, it probably won’t happen, but you can commit to using your devices less. Delete social media apps from your phone and only connect on a computer; turn off notifications and only check email at designated times; or install an app on your computer that forcibly blocks you from the Internet.
How do you take advantage of your unplugged time?
The oldest school of journalism in the United States (and possibly in the world), University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, added its first new major in 50 years when it added Convergence Journalism back in the fall of 2005. Over the past several years, news consumers have witnessed a revolution take place whereby we consume news stories via multiple platforms (traditional, digital, social) and in various formats such as long-form, short-form, textual, auditory, visual, formal/professional reporting, citizen reporting.
I recently attended a convergent media panel event (hosted by PRSA St. Louis) which featured Kelsey Proud with St. Louis Public Radio, Caryn Tomer with Techli.com, and Perry Drake (formerly of NYU) now with UMSL.
Proud started off with showing a perfect example of media convergence in a story they’ve just produced on chronic absenteeism in schools across Missouri. In this series, they utilized audio (radio), research/analytics, data, dynamic visuals and text.
Tomer discussed tailoring the story presentation to what their readers want. The staff likes (pertinent) press releases but may also use video, audio, text, social, linkbacks and even gamification to enhance the user experience.
All seemed to agree on how they decide what content makes it. Of course, it has to matter to their audience but beyond that—it’s all about emotion and reactions.
As the late Maya Angelou said:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
How does this affect PR pitching/media relations efforts?
By now, most savvy PR pros know multimedia storytelling is no longer optional—it’s a necessity.
- We must adapt and be flexible. Stories need to be told in different ways depending on the medium.
- PR is no longer just accountable for the message—we’re now depended on for choosing the most effective modes and channels.
- Effective public relations outreach does still include traditional media pitching (newspapers, magazines, television, radio) but may also include social media marketing, blogs, content marketing, web development and analytics, graphic design, SEO, and emerging technologies we aren’t even aware of yet.
- Don’t be afraid to partner and/or collaborate as necessary. If you are ill-equipped in a certain area, take advantage of the opportunity to learn and expand your skill set!
- This new media model is dynamic – making it fluid and spontaneous, requiring PR pros to be quick on their feet and adept at managing communities, not just a message.
How do you see multimedia journalism affecting your job?
It’s that time of year again: your AP Stylebook is out of date. That’s because yesterday the 2014 Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law made its spiral-bound way into the world. This year’s edition features about 200 new additions and/or revisions, and adds an entire chapter with “more than 200 religion terms.” [Per what may be this year’s most controversial revision, the AP wrote “over 200 terms,” as the title, but it looks like they decided to toe the old-school “more than” line in their press release.]
Over the past few months, they’ve alerted us to the newest revisions: there was the aforementioned “over/more than” debacle; state names should now be spelled out instead of abbreviated in the body of a story; and it is now “Wal-Mart” in all instances.
Following AP style makes you look like you care
When a reporter clicks on your press release, his or her attention is yours to lose, and typos or incorrectly capitalized words make that release easy to ignore. Here’s what Dan Friedman, a journalist and my dad, has to say about that: “I get so many press releases that they’re like sitting ducks; if you make your press release easy to ignore or delete, it makes my day go that much quicker. But the clean, nicely done press releases I get are so compelling that sometimes I can’t say no.”
Following AP style rules (like most journalists do) makes it clear that you care about the English language, which in turn makes you look smart and shows you care about your readers.
Journalists will be more likely to give you a chance
You want to be known in the newsroom, but not as the flack who send press releases that require heavy editing. Sending clean news releases that adhere to AP style makes journalists much more likely to read your release without feeling itchy inside. That will, in turn, make them more amenable to working with you. That doesn’t mean that one AP-style news release will get you a mention, but consistent good writing can only help your cause.
It will improve your writing
Following AP style will improve your writing both in and out of press releases. Referring to the AP Stylebook as you write means you’ll be paying more attention to your writing, which can only improve it. Familiarizing yourself with AP style and adhering to it means you’ll also be on the lookout in your colleagues’ writing, which will also make you a better editor.
It’s true that I have a soft spot for both grammar and AP Stylebook (they don’t call me @ellisredpen for nothing), but I’ve also been a journalist and am the offspring of two of them, so I know of what I speak. Remember: friends don’t let friends capitalize job titles when they appear after a person’s name.
As a visual medium, Instagram is a product-friendly social media platform. But for B2B brands, leveraging such a visual platform is more of a challenge, especially if you offer a service, not a product. Plenty of B2Bs successfully use Instagram for brand management and user engagement, and while it’s not appropriate for every B2B, there are ways to make it work. And since Instagram is now in the top ten social networks, it’s a valuable marketing tool, so here are some tips for maximizing your B2B Instagram potential.
Remember the goal
The goal of putting your brand on Instagram is not to generate sales or leads; the purpose of Instagram is brand engagement, awareness, and management. Using Instagram may not even increase your blog traffic by much – if at all – since links aren’t live. So make sure your goals are in line with the reality of the platform, and that if you’re going to put in the effort, it’s a platform conducive to your brand.
Take compelling images
Don’t go posting grainy, under-lit photos; make sure whoever is in charge of the Instagram account knows how to take and edit a photo. Learn about basic composition, and try out some free photo editing apps like Snapseed or VSCO Cam. If your organization has a photographer on staff, get them to take pictures and send to the person in charge of Instagram.
Share your company culture
If your organization volunteers, goes on team outings, or attends a lot of industry events, Instagram is the place to post shots of the fun in action. Think of it as displaying the human side of your brand and promoting who you are as a community. This is an especially valuable tactic for brands that are very involved in the community and/or host a lot of events. For a B2B brand that has a very active, well-done Instagram, check out Cisco’s account.
Think beyond your services to your brand values and your customers. How do your clients benefit from your service, and how do those fit in with brand values? FedEx’s Instagram shows their vehicles around the world delivering packages, but also uses a visually stunning – and sometimes amusing – format. Don’t be afraid to think beyond your brand and hijack a trend or two, like FedEx did with last fall’s hit song “What does the fox say?”
Just like Twitter, Instagram is no place to skimp on the hashtags. They’re what make you discoverable, since search functions are only by user name or hashtag. Consistent use of relevant hashtags will help your content succeed, but don’t go overboard – stick to five hashtags. Beyond that and you’re annoying or spammy.
If your brand regularly holds contests or giveaways, start moving them to Instagram to grow engagement on that platform. Advertise them on other platforms, but make part of the contest include commenting or liking a photo. This drives engagement and helps build up and retain a base audience.
What Instagram strategies does your B2B use? How has Instagram worked – or not – for you?
Summer is less than a month away, and that means schools will be closing, beach houses will be rented, and swim trunks and flippy floppies will be on as temperatures rise. As we sit at our desk and fantasize about being anywhere but here, like on a boat or at the beach sipping a margarita or just outside enjoying a hike or run, these summer distractions will curb our workplace productivity and creativity. Here are four quick tips to help you avoid the approaching dog days of summer and boost your efficiency at work.
Plan Time Away. Everyone needs to step away from the world of emails, social media, conference calls and projects. When planning to take time away from work, make sure that you have arranged to have back-up while you are out and that everyone you work with or manage knows you will be off the grid and who they can contact during your absence. Even leaving a couple of hours early during the summer to enjoy activities can help with those summer blues; arrive to work early and get everything done so there is no reason why you can’t leave at 3pm.
Prioritize. Your boss is on vacation but you really need approval on this one project, which may leave you feeling stuck and not able to focus on something new, but try to move on to projects that require in-depth thinking. “This may be a time of fewer distractions because of people being out. Capitalize on that by focusing on projects that require strategic thought and planning so you’ll be ready to proceed with your fall proposals at a time when the pressure cooker environment returns. You’ll be glad you took advantage of any lulls.” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant.
Keep Working. Many people fall prey to thinking, “The boss is out; I can’t do anything or there is nothing to do.” This especially happens during the summer when lots of your co-workers are also away. You are still receiving a paycheck so you should still be delivering the same quality and quantity of work.
“If you’re not productive simply because things around the office are slow, use the time to get a jump start on upcoming projects, or to catch up on many lose ends that have accumulated,” says Anita Attridge, a Five O’Clock Club career and executive coach. “Just keep in mind that achievements trump hours spent. Just because you’re in the office for the required eight hours, doesn’t mean you’ve done your job.”
“The summer is not a ticket for slacking off,” Taylor agrees, “so don’t do it!”
Take a Walk. Recent studies have shown that taking a walk during the work day helps boost productivity and get the creative juices flowing, and as we all know, “Sitting is the New Smoking,” so it’s not healthy, either. Instead of sitting in that drab conference room with a sweater on because the office doesn’t have controlled AC, take your team meetings outside for a walk around the building.
Not only do walking meetings amplify productivity and creativity, they also boost morale and endorphins. To quote the famous Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” And don’t forget that by soaking up some rays during your walk you are also getting a natural source of Vitamin D!
In her new book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, Arianna Huffington explains how walking has helped her navigate the many challenges of life. So don’t feel guilty for leaving your desk to enjoy a beautiful summer day when you can’t be on vacation.
What are your tips for staying productive during the summer months?