Posts Tagged ‘community’


St. Louis Rams Tackle a Disengaged Community for a Win

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Kevin Demoff is in his fourth year as executive vice president of football operations and chief operating officer with the St. Louis Rams. As any football fan, or anyone who lives in the heartland, knows the Rams team is bad on the field but even worse off the field. There is simply no connection to the community.  Demoff’s 100_0763critical challenge? How to get the community excited—even if the team wins no games.

During Demoff’s recent address to the PRSA St. Louis chapter, in a room just off the owner’s office overlooking the practice field as the “boys” wrapped up for the day, he explained that football should be a tradition.With the exit of the Cardinals to Arizona, however, it skipped a generation here as there was no hometown team.

Today, The Rams are now involved in every football league in the area, from pee wee teams all the way up, so they grow up into fans and pass it on. This strategy is not going to gain immediate fans. It’s long-term grassroots planning, including community programs, that will pay off down the line. The Rams only play 16 days per year, yet must be top of mind 365 days per year—what a challenge!

Rams Community Outreach Initiatives

Rams Staff Day of Service is one example of getting involved in the community. One day per month they shut the doors and everyone, from the players to the accounting 100_0759clerks to the upper management, does a community service project.  For example, last summer about 90 members of the Rams staff took a trip to Joplin, MO to aid relief efforts after the devastating tornado. Another example is of how the Rams help build playgrounds. A program started in 2009, the Rams most recent playground build was for “a local town of 2,600, a community with no schools, only a library […].” 

Demoff accepts nearly every opportunity to speak. When I heard him speak (Thursday, August 23rd), he had already spoken to eight or nine other groups. He’s out making the personal, emotional connection with their stakeholders—this doesn’t happen behind a desk. He says it’s crucial to speak from the heart via every medium possible, whether that is in-person, social media, print media, broadcast media, etc.  As a matter of fact, seeing the need to expand their media footprint, the Rams now have their own broadcast team including a film crew. They needed to grow the brand outside the immediate area, and whereas they used to not even be carried in the next market over, there are now nine states on pre-season now.

They produced a community service video, which we watched, and notably there was no football in it. The goal is to make the community better—even if they’re not winning at football—and Demoff leads them to be one of the community’s strongest philanthropic partners. As a matter of fact, in the 35 years of local philanthropic awards, no sports team has ever won. That is, until 2010 when the Rams were named St. Louis Philanthropic Organization of the Year.

They even started a program where players buy tickets for underprivileged kids—they’re up to 28 players now participating in the program. Recently the St. Louis Rams showed appreciation to Scott Air Force Base, where they traded jerseys with the soldiers and held a scrimmage game. Along with all the typical things like hospital visits to soldiers and critically ill children, the Rams have come a long way. 

It’s apparent that hard work and personal dedication has been quintessential to their success. I think the biggest takeaway from Demoff and the Rams outreach program is the sincerity with which they participate. Rather than make it something that a few players do with the hopes of garnering publicity – the program is built in such a way that it becomes a part of team identity on and off the field, regardless of an individual’s role in the organization or team. Demoff spearheads a culture of service that benefits all involved – and it is the authenticity that really fuels outreach success.

Do you have examples of community engagement strategies or techniques to share?

PRSA-NCC Members Told Social Media is ‘Where We Live Today’

Friday, May 11th, 2012

This post first appeared on Capitol Communicator 5.11.12 and is cross-posted with permission. 

PRSA-NCC session on Social Media

Shown in the picture, (l to r) Chris Brooks, Julie A. Weckerlein, Cappy Surette, Jennifer Mitchell and Gloria Huang. The session was moderated by Debbie Friez, vice president, BurrellesLuce.)

Five communicators made the case that social media is “where we live today” during a May 10 professional development session conducted by the Public Relations Society of America’s National Capital Chapter (PRSA-NCC).

The session at the Navy Memorial, “Social Media Tips and Success Stories for PR Pros,” featured Cappy Surette, director of public relations at U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery; Chris Brooks, manager of social engagement at Hilton Worldwide; Julie A. Weckerlein, public affairs specialist at U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Gloria Huang, senior social engagement specialist at the American Red Cross; and, Jennifer Mitchell, director of social media at BRG Communications. The session was moderated by Debbie Friez, vice president, BurrellesLuce.

Social media allows you to reach “a wider and more diverse audience than we can through the use of traditional media alone,” said Surrette. He and the other panelists said social media provides a great opportunity to attract advocates you may never have considered. These advocates, it was noted, can come to your aid when your organization is being challenged.

Brooks, who said his job at Hilton Worldwide is to put “heads in beds,” added social media allows you to build up a “community of supporters” in advance of a problem. He added , to be successful, you should consider multiple channels – such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Flickr. During his presentation, Brooks also offered these two observations: Approach social media in an organized manner and remember that “measurement is key.”

Regarding social media, Weckerlein told seminar attendees, “don’t be afraid to take calculated risks,” but use the “same voice” and present the “same message.” She also presented a case history from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showinghow cost effective social media can be for an organization. The real cost of the CDC campaign based on the Zombie Apocalypse preparedness relating it to hurricane preparedness was $87.00, but the campaign generated more than three million dollars in estimated marketing value.

In her presentation, Huang said, “you don’t have a choice on whether to do social media, the question is how well you do it.” She offered the followed social media principles employed by the American Red Cross: Be accurate, be relevant, be considerate, be transparent, be human and be compassionate.

Mitchell stated organizations do well in social media when they look beyond their own organization. As an example, she said that social media allows you to ask questions to your target audience to get them involved with your organization. In short, she said, personal relationships are more important than ever, so encourage your target audiences to interact with you. Content is king, and she reminded the audience, “People spread (share) awesome content. They don’t spread mediocre content. However, Mitchel also offered an observation that put social media into perspective: It’s an addition to, not a replacement for, “old” communications platforms.

The bottom line, according to Surrette, is that “You can’t control the sea of public opinion, but (using social media) you can at least navigate it.”

***

Phil Rabin has covered trends in communications for more than two decades for a number of media outlets. Currently, he is editor of Capitol Communicator, www.capitolcommunicator.com, an online resource working to bringing together communications professionals who influence and educate the Mid-Atlantic region by providing news, trends, education and opportunities for networking. Phil also is Vice President of West Glen Communications, www.westglen.com, and is a member of the Public Relations Society of America.

Discovery – Using Social Media to Drive Social TV Experiences

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Today’s TV now needs to be “social TV,” where the online experience allows viewers to share their experiences with other viewers and the world. Fans no longer have to wait to discuss the latest episode at the water cooler the next day; they are doing it in real-time and all the time.  

Discovery Communications’ main social media strategy is engagement says Gayle Weiswasser, vice president, social media communications, during an American Marketing Association’s Washington, DC (AMADC) chapter program in January. Additionally, Discovery looks to build community, drive fans to tune-in, increase website page-views, and gather insights.

Most social media strategies contain the big three platforms, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but not all platforms are right for every organization. For Discovery, YouTube and GetGlue are also essential platforms. It even started a Pinterest page for TLC because TLC shows are very visual and tend to attract a lot of female fans. As quoted from this Desert News article, “If you’re an American and you know about Pinterest, chances are you’re either female or someone who heard about Pinterest from a female – because no fewer than 83 percent of Americans using Pinterest are female.”   

(For tips on adding Pinterest to your integrative communications efforts, check out this BurrellesLuce newsletter: Understanding Pinterest and Your Audience and my BurrellesLuce colleague Tressa Robbins recent post about Pinterest and how companies and the media are using the site.)

Tips for Creating Social Experiences to Enhance TV Fan Bases

  1. Give fans exclusive content. This is a great way to drive engagement, Weiswasser says. Discovery offers additional scenes and other insights as rewards for comments and sharing. The content is usually only available for a limited time and is not available during the broadcast time for the show it promotes.
  2. Use multiple platforms to interact with your audiences. Weiswasser suggested making “co-viewing” apps available on multiple platforms to promote a linear TV experience for user who following the conversation on a number of different social networks.
  3. Think before you post. Weiswasser tells her team to ask, “If I were a viewer/fan, would I really like this post?” If the post is mediocre, she says it’s best not to post.
  4. Be aware of trends and hot topics. A great way to gain some momentum for your organization is to embrace the culture at the moment.  Animal Planet, for its show “Hillbilly Handfishin’” tweeted, “@OldSpice & @FabioOldSpices – Are Either of You Brave Enough to Try Noodlin’? We Triple Dog Dare You!” Both of Old Spice’s spokespeople, Isaiah Masufa and Fabio took the dare for a couple of fun April Fool’s Day jokes on YouTube.
  5. Increase outreach success by having (celebrity) spokespeople interact with your communities. When Clinton Kelly of “What Not to Wear” took over the show’s Facebook page, they had the most activity in eight years.

Some other great takeaways from Weiswasser:

  • Give the social media team authority to make real decisions.
  • Listen and talk to fans.
  • Build on the engagement you’ve made.
  • Accept that not all audiences are alike.

What lessons have you learned from your social media fans? How do you encourage more engagement? Which new social networks are you adding to the mix?

Understanding Pinterest and Your Audience

Friday, February 24th, 2012

February 2012

With 2012 in full swing there is no shortage of social media trends vying for attention. While many might be interested in Facebook’s recent IPO, it’s Pinterest that’s proving to be the social media sweetheart of the first quarter.

According to its about page, “Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web […] Browsing pin boards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.” Though the site grows steadily, with around 12 million monthly unique visitors, it continues to remain true to its mission – at least for the moment – providing a unique outlet for people to share the things they love.

While the appeal for the individual is obvious, businesses and communications professionals can also gain from interacting on Pinterest. Whether you’re looking to create a new brand identity, craft virtual scrapbooks, entertain your community, or simply stay aware of the latest trends, this highly engaging and interactive site has a little something for everyone.

Read more of month’s BurrellesLuce newsletter: Understanding Pinterest and Your Audience.

Creating, Marketing, and Measuring Online Video for Your PR Campaigns – Tips from PRSA-NY

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Alfred Cox*

Recently I wrote a post, here on BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas, outlining key tips for integrating online video into your PR campaign from a recent PRSA-NY panel. For this post, I thought I would re-cap some of what I thought were the most compelling best practices for creating, marketing, and measuring online video content – as discussed at the event.

The event featured presentations from Joe D’Amico, PopTent; Jake Finkelstein, Method Savvy; Jonah Minton, Ustream; Mark Rotblat, TubeMogul; Eric Wright, DS Simon; Jim Sulley, newscast US; and Larry Thomas, Latergy.

It was followed by a roundtable Q&A moderated by Jason Winocour, social and digital media practice leader at Hunter Public Relations.

How to Create Online Video Content
Nearly 89 percent of journalist report that they regularly include online video content in their stories. But how can marketing and communications professionals create compelling video content?

Jim Sulley, president of Newscast U.S., had these best practices to offer:

  • Understand who you are trying to reach. Who are your target demographics?
  • Get the attention of the people watching. You only have 10 seconds to hook their interest.
  • Shoot to script, don’t script to shoot. In other words, take the time to plan your videos and write a script.
  • Create biscuits, little surprises along the way, and don’t give away the ending upfront.
  • Be truthful. And remember, production values count.
  • Entertain or DIE.
  • Too much text is annoying for online video.

When creating video content, you will also want to get your online community, stakeholders, and agencies involved, as this with provide you with feedback and help you market your initiatives. (more…)