Posts Tagged ‘communication’

Social Media Case Studies: The Candy and Jerky Stories

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013
by flickr user jessdamen

by flickr user jessdamen

The real value of content (the fuel of online media) is gaining the attention of the reader. This was one of the insights from David Witt, Mid-West leader at WCG, former Director of Global and Digital Marketing and Brand Public Relations at Hershey, and former Senior Manager of Consumer Engagement and Brand PR at General Mills. Witt spoke at the Minneapolis St. Paul Social Media Breakfast on November 15. Kathleen Petersen, media director at Space150, also spoke about her work on a campaign for Jack Link’s Beef Jerky jerky. The session focused on social media campaign case studies.

Promoting the Candy in Orange

When starting to work on the Reese’s brand for Hershey, Witt’s team began by looking at the analytics. He said he needed to understand where the conversation was happening on social media. They discovered 40 percent of the conversation was around recipes, so his team promoted user generated content (photos and recipes) on Facebook. One cake post generated 172,499 likes and over 5 million impressions.

The brand did not have a blog, but helped to promote Reese’s recipes and ideas on other blogs. They also started a Twitter account, which worked to extend the reach of the other posts.

Because people congregate around their passion, Reese’s partnered with the NCAA 2013 basketball championship for the #LetsGoReeces campaign. Their website traffic increase five times with the help of social media.

Summer is a slow time for candy, so the Hershey team created the “Summer of Love” campaign with lots of fun art around summer and the image of the peanut butter cup, and included a Facebook contest. The images were promoted via their social media properties with engagement increasing by 150 percent.

A Bigfoot Halloween

Jack Link’s Beef Jerky chose the Space150 team to lead their social media shortly before Halloween. Petersen says they were looking to increase fans, quickly.

The Space150 creative team was sent into the woods with 10 props, three creatives, one Sasquatch and one iPhone to shoot video and photos to be used in a Sasquatch Trick or Treat promotion.

The premise: fans sent a message via Twitter or Facebook to Jack Link’s letting them know if wanted to #tricksasquatch or #treatsasquatch. To extend their reach, Jack Link’s sent email messages to a fan list and a purchased email list.  The Space150 team created fun responses, including photos (utilizing the consumer’s avatar when possible) or video replies and posted them to the @me_sasquatch Twitter handle or the Facebook fan page.

The team discovered the videos took longer to create and approve, so Petersen recommends if you have a limited budget to stick with images only. She also advised working out the approval process with your client ahead of time in order to speed up the turn-around time.

The campaign also targeted a few celebrities who talk about Bigfoot or beef jerky on social media, like pro wrestler James Storm, who replied with a video.

The campaign resulted in 250 personal responses, an 87 percent increase in Facebook comments, 7,500 YouTube views and over 1 million incremental impressions.

What’s one of your most successful social media campaigns?

Debbie Friez BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas Blog Debbie Friez serves as tech editor for the Capitol Communicator and is also a consultant. Previously, she worked as Vice President, Major Accounts for BurrellesLuce. She originally joined BurrellesLuce at their Minnesota Clipping Service affiliate.

Friez was a senior account director for West Glen Communications, a broadcast PR services company. While at West Glen Communications, she was a frequent contributor to the DC Communicator newsletter.

She has a broad understanding of the technologies that are transforming the marketing and communications profession. She serves on the advisory board for the Capitol Communicator, the membership committee for the Minnesota chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, the national marketing committee for the Association of Women in Communications, and is a member and past president of Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR).

Friez is a graduate of the University of North Dakota. She lives in Minneapolis, MN with her husband Paul Croteau, their two cats, Smokey and the Bandit, and Gus, the dog.

LinkedIn: dfriez Twitter: @dfriez

How Technology is Changing the Way We Connect

Monday, November 25th, 2013

by flickr user Eric Fischer

by flickr user Eric Fischer

by Bill Werner*

On November 21, I attended the IABC Phoenix luncheon, where Cisco’s Senior Communication and Marketing Manager Brad Whitworth gave a talk on how technology is changing communication in the world.

Whitworth noted that these days technology is so relevant in our daily communication world that we now notice where we cannot communicate instead of where we can. With widespread wifi hotspots and vast cell phone service coverage, we know where we can’t use our devices, whereas not so long ago, it was the opposite.  Now, we expect service wherever we go. We expect to be connected at coffee shops, bars, restaurants, hotels, and airports. What used to a bonus offering is now a must, and if one of these spots is lacking connectivity, we’re not very happy.

Wifi is also becoming part of activities that usually seem mundane, and becoming a way to control and monitor entire cities and organizations. For example, some cities are implementing systems that notify you of available parking spots. With the ready availability of wifi towers, GPS systems, and apps, one can find a parking spot on a mobile phone. With these same resources, cities are revamping plans for trash pickup, with sensors that indicate how full cans are and routing trucks only to areas with full cans.

The changing roles of technology are also changing the way we network and create our network. Whitworth advised that effective communication is all about building your network and using modern technology to your benefit. To do so, he explained that we must live outside our comfort zone, and not be afraid to use all types of groups and applications, including but not limited to LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

A handy rule he recommended is to “build your network before you need your network.” It’s a lot more beneficial to have a network when you can offer people something instead of asking for something. Finally, Whitworth believes that face-to-face networking is still relevant, and that we should always take advantage of it whenever possible, as, he explained, it’s the best way for people to really know you.

This was my first IABC meeting, and I look forward to putting Whitworth’s insights and suggestions into practice. I plan to integrate plenty of face-to-face events into my networking strategy while also building my networking groups digitally. Do you know of or are you part of useful networking events in the Phoenix area? What sorts of networking events have you found to be the most valuable?


Bill Werner is an Arizona native and Business Development Director at BurrellesLuce, where his focus is developing client relations and providing clients with a comprehensive solution to their needs. His background is in the construction industry, where he learned that developing relationships and communicating are the keys to success. Bill’s family of three includes Katie and their newborn son, Gavin, as well as two cats and two dogs.

Life Lessons From a Day in the Mud

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Life and work lessons from the Tough Mudder challengeby Denise Mazzella*

Last weekend I participated in a Tough Mudder with my amazing team, the Tripping Billies. The Tough Mudder is a 10- to 12-mile obstacle course known for challenging participants mentally and physically. I had no idea what to expect aside from what I’d seen in photos from past events. I knew I was going to be covered in mud from head to toe, but I had no clue how much of an impact this experience would have on me.

Of all the obstacles I went through that day – Electroshock Therapy, Arctic Enema and  Everest to name a few – what has stuck in my mind is the teamwork aspect of the event. You need a helping hand, a boost, or a shout of encouragement to get through the day. Teammates and complete strangers pull you over mud hills, help you up if you slip, and watch to make sure your head pops out of the muddy water after a 15-foot jump (hello Walk the Plank).

The brains behind Tough Mudder emphasize this is not a race, but I didn’t believe that until I witnessed it for myself. I thought I would be overrun by cocky twenty-somethings who would rather leave you in the dust than lend a hand. I was wrong. I felt a strong sense of camaraderie and that everyone wanted you to succeed. In turn, I wanted to help people because if I was going to cross the finish line, I wanted them to be there too. I wanted everyone to get the coveted bright orange Tough Mudder headband placed on their head that day.

Now that I’m back to work and wearing my bruises with honor, I can’t stop thinking about all I learned and wishing I could incorporate a bit of that Tough Mudder magic into my workday. With all the marketing Tough Mudder does to make the event look cool, challenging, and fun (which it is), I think there are other takeaways from the event.

First is  teamwork. I’m not just talking about lending a hand on a project every now and then. I’m talking about legitimately caring about your coworkers and wanting to see them succeed. Make time for people you rely on and for those who rely on you. Approach their concerns with the same level of detail you would your own. If a team member is struggling, help out. This may consist of coming up with a plan to tackle a problem or figuring out a new way to explain something. Putting more effort into teamwork will help you in the long run because eventually we will all need a helping hand.

Second, be an encouraging force in the office. Stay clear of negative conversations whenever possible. Instead of dwelling on a problem, brainstorm ways to fix or get around the issue. By being approachable and positive you will establish stronger bonds with your coworkers. When times get rough it’s important to have a strong, trusting team on your side.

Finally, practice the Tough Mudder way with effective communication. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Re-read emails before sending them. Watch out for condescending tones or messages that can be misconstrued. Communication is an important tool that can make all the difference.

During the Tough Mudder one of my teammates talked me through an obstacle called the Cage Crawl. I am claustrophobic and this obstacle consists of a chain-link fence over the top of a pool of muddy water. There is six inches of space between the water and the fence so you have to float on your back as you crawl across the pool.

My teammate knew I was afraid and he kept me calm by talking to me and communicating how far I was from the end of the pool. His words kept me from freaking out, which would have caused me to pull down on the fence and ultimately end up with my head under water. Using effective communication in the work environment will promote meaningful conversations with coworkers and ultimately lead to better end results.

I intend to apply the concepts from my Tough Mudder experience to my workday because these principles make me feel good! The preparation paid off and by working together my team was able to enjoy the accomplishment. Our orange headbands are the reward for not giving up.

In a work environment the reward can be acquiring a new client, pulling off a successful PR campaign, or receiving a thank you note from a customer. There are numerous ways to approach your workday the Tough Mudder way. What’s your company’s “orange headband”?


*Bio: Prior to joining the BurrellesLuce Client Service team in 2008, Denise worked in the marketing industry for three years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Connecticut, where she gained experience interning in PR and working for student organizations. By engaging readers on the Fresh Ideas blog Denise hopes to further her understanding of client services. In her spare time, she is passionate kickboxing, traveling with her husband, charity work, and curling up with a good book. Her claim to fame: being adventurous has always paid off. LinkedIn: dmazzella Twitter: @denise10283 Facebook: BurrellesLuce

Press Release Fail: What to do if Your Press Release Goes Viral

Monday, September 23rd, 2013
Press release go viral? Don't put your head in the sand

Press release go viral? Don't put your head in the sand

The Internet makes it easy for recipients to share press releases, which is a good thing for spreading your message but a bad thing if the press release isn’t one of your best and it’s shared in the context of being mocked.

The press release is a fickle beast: Crafting, distributing, and seeing results from one brief news blast can seem like both the most important PR task and the most ineffective one. But somewhere along the way, the press release has turned from valuable news distributor into ubiquitous email blast.

So what should you do if you find that one of your press releases has been eviscerated online by one of its recipients? Publicly, probably nothing, unless someone called it out on a national stage – like Stephen Colbert did.

If the person who mocked your press release uses your organization’s name online in an especially negative context, it may be tempting to ask them to take it down. But most journalists won’t react to that well, and relations may further sour. Instead, politely ask the author to remove or redact the name of your organization.

Conversely, use the publicity to your advantage. Embrace the fact that the press release got attention, and use it to get more attention for your next press release. Issue a brief humorous and self-aware statement and ask that it be included in the entry about your press release.  When crafting such a statement, ensure the statement is appropriate to your organization’s culture. Keep tone in mind; if your organization’s material tends to be formal, the statement should be too. Run the statement by a few key people to ensure it strikes the right tone.

Finally, do some internal inventory as to why the press release was received with derision rather than excitement. Was the message properly targeted to its recipients? Did the press release make sense to people outside the industry?

Avoid more mistakes by learning from four of the most common press release mistakes:

It’s a bad headline

The headline is the first thing people see, and a headline that’s confusing, off-putting, or just plain bad means your press release is starting at a huge disadvantage.

Quick tips: keep headlines short. – preferably fewer than 65 characters.

It’s filled with jargon

Buzzwords and jargon won’t help you stand out – the PR industry’s most overused buzzwords won’t differentiate your press release.  Plus, to people outside your industry, industry jargon just sounds like nonsense.

Quick tips: Find other words for “innovation,” “solution,” and “leading,” and variations thereof.

It’s too wordy

Recall that brevity is the soul of wit; if you can say it in fewer words, do so. The longer a press release, the more likely it is that the writer is struggling to explain everything.

Quick tips: Stick to the facts. List the most important points to convey, and lead with the most important one.

It’s filled with errors

For writers on deadlines, time is short, and receiving an error-filled press release is both frustrating and a waste of time.

Quick tips: Proofread your press release, then have someone else proofread it. Familiarize yourself with AP style, which is considered the media style standard, and stick to it.

Check out more of our tips for crafting better press releases.

The Body Language of Voice: Use Your Voice to Your Advantage

Monday, September 16th, 2013

It's not just what you say, but how you say itA large portion of all human interaction is nonverbal, which is excellent news if you’ve mastered body language and conduct business exclusively face-to-face. The CIA’s The World Factbook reports that in 2011 there were 2.1 billion Internet users, 1.2 billion active landlines, and 6 billion mobile phones, and modern businesses are putting those connections to use. Now that digital communication has made the world smaller, our face-to-face meetings have largely been replaced by phone meetings, video chats and email.

So what’s a body language guru to do when all you have to go on is voice? Turns out there are plenty of adjustments you can make to the way you speak that can support – or detract from – your words.


My mother constantly barked, “Don’t slouch Jennifer!” She had a point: the way we carry our body affects not only our health, it also affects how people perceive us.

The way we sit or position our body has a massive effect on our breathing pattern, which in turn impacts how we speak. So sit up straight before you make that call – good posture radiates confidence all the way through the phone.


Our emotional state affects the pitch of our voice. When we’re excited or fearful, our vocal folds tighten and make the pitch of our voice higher. However, we tend to associate a low-pitched voice with authority, so if you’re trying to project a more commanding image, lower your voice a few steps. Voice pitch also exposes our mood; to make yourself sound happier on the phone, try smiling as you talk.

Tone and Inflection

Our word choice, delivery, and inflection constitute our tone of voice, an aspect crucial to accurately getting across your message. A curt, rough or forceful tone implies anger, while a soft, soothing and subtle tone of voice suggests delight or pleasure.

Inflection is the movement and melody of our voice, the highs and lows, and it signifies whether or not we’re interested in what we’re saying. Speaking in monotone indicates we have little or no interest in what we’re saying. Voice inflection, and the emphasis we put on certain words, can change the meaning of our sentences. So think ahead to the key points you’re addressing, and plan your tone and inflection around emphasizing those points.

If you’re in doubt as to how you sound or how you should sound, match your voice to the person you’re talking to. This doesn’t mean you should adopt a completely different accent; rather, make subtle, gradual adjustments by listening to the pitch, tone and inflection of the person on the other end of your phone call.

The reminders are simple, be mindful of your posture, answer the phone promptly, provide a sincere, welcoming and warm greeting, speak clearly, and please, don’t slouch. Sit up straight!