Posts Tagged ‘badvocates’


How to Host a Successful Twitter Chat

Monday, May 12th, 2014
#Hashtag, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

#Hashtag on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Twitter chats are great tools for motivating your Twitter-using audience to interact, and if you’re lucky, even get your hashtag trending for a bit. But as we saw with J.P. Morgan, Mark Emmert (president of the NCAA), and most recently, Roger Goodell (commissioner of the NFL), Twitter chats don’t always turn into the intellectually stimulating, informative fora marketing and public relations pros hope they’ll become.

So here are some ways to host a Twitter chat that doesn’t turn into a complete disaster.

Don’t be the subject of controversy

This tip may seem limiting since everything can be controversial, but if your organization or a prominent person therein is embroiled in scandal, controversy, or a communications crisis, it’s probably not a great time to host a Twitter chat. Of course, it’s rare that an organization’s image is squeaky clean, and snarky tweeters can always find something to rag on, but use good judgment. Also, you probably don’t want to hold a Twitter chat if your company was one of the harbingers of the banking collapse; people tend to have long memories on that one. Conveying your message in 140 characters is rarely easy, and complex issues should be addressed on a medium conducive to clear two-way communications.

Go in with the right expectations

Twitter chats will not sell more product, and they probably won’t create new customers; Twittter chats are tools for relationship and brand management. So don’t go in expecting to convert the coveted digital natives in one overarching hashtag. Instead, use your Twitter chat as a sort of real-time customer service help line and helpful resource. As such, tone down brand messaging and try to provide real answers to appropriate questions. Being a good resource of information and creating a communication vehicle to connect with potential customers is an asset in your marketing arsenal.

It’s OK to be funny

Chances are you and your staff can anticipate some of the snarkier questions you might get. So for the questions that aren’t outright rude or outrageous, have some witty but polite answers ready. Giving your brand a sense of humor can do wonders for fostering goodwill with your brand advocates. Taco Bell has proven to be a good example of wit and many millennials covet the Taco Bell RT. That said …

Don’t give in to the badvocates and trolls

It’s also OK to ignore the badvocates and trolls and focus on the positive, productive questions you’re getting. If your organization is high profile, it’s possible that some of the rude, ridiculous, and clever tweets will find their way onto online news sites.  That’s the nature of the Twitter chat beast, so …

Have your response plan ready

You’re probably going to get at least a few snarky tweets, and that’s okay – it’s the cost of doing Twitter chat business. Hopefully, your chat will go smoothly, but have a response plan in place just in case things take an undesirable turn.

Remember the payoffs

At this point, thinking about a Twitter chat may seem like more trouble than it’s worth, but remember, there are benefits to hosting a Twitter chat. Not only will it help you connect with your brand advocates (a vital aspect of brand management) on a group and individual level, but you can use it to share knowledge about your brand, product and common interests. It’s also a great time to promote upcoming events, giveaways, sponsorships, and shine a spotlight on creative people in your organization. Some of our favorite PR Twitter chats include, in no specific order, #prstudchat, #measurepr, #blogchat, #commschat, and #PRprochat.

Outlander and the Power of the Fan Base

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014
flickr user Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer

flickr user Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer

The digital age has given fan bases and brand advocates the tools to unite with unprecedented speed and volume, something Variety no doubt learned this weekend when one of their writers incited a fan firestorm.

The Television Critics Association winter press tour began last week, and naturally, television critics were covering it in force, one of them being Malina Saval, associate features editor at Variety. In her article, “12 Cable Shows That TCA Convinced Us to Watch,” Saval mentioned Starz’s upcoming series Outlander. Here’s how she described it:

“This new series is based on the internationally bestselling novels by Diana Gabaldon that bored middle-age housewives have been going absolutely bananas over. It’s set in the 1700′s, involves time travel and sexy period-piece costumes, and its Harlequin Romance-esque plot is sure to fuel breathy playground chatter for the next year. “

A few months back, we noted how successful Starz’s viral campaign became even before the shooting began. That success was – and still is – due in large part to a vast and very dedicated fan base. A few people in that fan base saw Saval’s article, posted it to online fan groups, and some of the fans mobilized. Variety’s articles usually get comments in the single digits, but Saval’s article has nearly 500 comments at the time of posting, every single one of which refutes Saval’s characterization of Outlander and its fan base.

I’m a fan of the books (and, if it matters, neither middle-aged nor housewife). But I don’t have to be to see that Saval’s comments were incorrect (the books are not genre romance novels, and ergo cannot be Harlequin) and, more importantly, misogynist; Saval not only implied that female tastes are inherently “frivolous,”* but that by virtue of the series being popular with women, it’s not to be taken seriously. This synopsis also did nothing to endear the many men who enjoy the series.

My first instinct was to think that Saval had inadvertently caused the flurry of comments with a flippant two-sentence synopsis. But let’s also acknowledge that journalists are in a tough spot: in a contracting profession with heavy emphasis on digital presence, there’s pressure to get high traffic and rankings. So it’s conceivable that, in trying to garner page views with a segment that is not Variety’s primary audience, Saval, knowing the strength of the Outlander fan base, phrased her synopsis as she did in a bid to reap comments and page views. Machiavellian? Yes. Effective? Very.

Perhaps the most perplexing aspect of the whole situation was the 48 hours of silence from Variety and Saval. Engagement – with your fans, your readers, even with your badvocates – is one of the top credos of modern-day PR, and the comments went unacknowledged until yesterday afternoon, when Saval tweeted:

Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 9.45.14 PM

If Saval’s comments weren’t intentionally provocative, her response certainly was. Comparing fans’ responses to a fatwa isn’t engagement – it’s on the verge of trolling, and is a pretty great example of how not to respond if you actually want to engage. And while PR bandies the word “engage” around a lot, we need to recognize that it goes far beyond making a melodramatic comparison to political persecution; it’s about reaching out to those who have had a negative response and acknowledging their experience. Community is about the conversation; it’s what makes the comment sections important in online media.

If the tone of her initial synopsis wasn’t intentional, Saval unwittingly turned herself into a classic example of one of the tenets of PR: don’t underestimate the power of a fan base. It doesn’t matter if it’s your base or someone else’s fan base, because there will be backlash.

That’s why engaging your fan base is so incredibly vital: Your fans and advocates are crucial to your success. One of the reasons the Outlander television series has almost every fan on board is because the main cast, writers, producers, author, and even the costume designer continually engage with fans on Twitter. They make the fans a part of the brand they already love, and respect them for who they are. When you nurture your audience like that, they come to your defense in force; when you ignore them, they’re left with a bitter taste and negative feelings.

*Quotation marks connoting not that Saval said such tastes are frivolous, but that “chick lit” and romance novels get the (undeserved) reputation of being frivolous

Mapping Best Practices for B2B Public Relations

Friday, November 29th, 2013

Businessman and business sketchAt the PRSA International Conference a few weeks ago, I attended my colleague Johna Burke’s talk about best practices in B2B public relations. She focused on several important areas that will always be key to our evolving industry.

Many departments within an organization have a methodical workflow. Accounting and procurement departments have a clear definition of their tasks, and they have a method for bringing in, assessing, and approving information,

PR departments and practitioners don’t exactly follow that type of workflow. Although they might create a template, or spreadsheet to plug in information, the template never quite ends up in its original shape.

PR practitioners are tasked with creating a workflow that provides clear direction for their organization. Everyone from customer service and administrative staff to C-suite executives need to understand what public relations workflow looks like, or what to expect under normal daily operating conditions.

Key to developing an effective communications plan is a firm grasp on the organization’s business strategy. Whether that strategy is education, driving sales and revenue, advertising, public relations, or marketing, understanding that focus allows PR practitioners to develop a workflow that focuses on an organization’s overarching corporate goals.

Integral to the business strategy is an understanding of the organization’s financial statements. Understanding a company’s profit and loss statement effectively aligns PR workflow and department objectives. Public companies produce quarterly and annual financial statements. Look for it, whether it’s publicly or internally available, and study it, because everything ties into to funding.

Do the research yourself. While educating yourself and your staff on your company’s financials, do the same with your competitor. Think twice about hiring someone outside of your organization to gather intelligence; you are your most effective resource.

In researching your competitor, don’t go for the thirty-thousand-foot overview. It’s too easy to misinterpret your market. Also, it’s critical to market against a competitor’s reality, not their myth, or your perception of their overarching goals. Know their concepts, understand their message. Understanding their marketing materials and how your competitor is spending money is equally beneficial to your overall success. The time you put into understanding all of these elements will provide the intelligence to back up what you will ultimately need to sell to your C-suite.

Next, study your customer. How do they find you?  What does their daily organic search look like? How do they get to your product or service? Are you creating SEO interesting enough to speak to your audience and capture your service or product’s attention?

That static audience no longer exists. Understand why people are using each platform and what they’re doing with the information. Are your followers influencers? Can they help your business? Are they able to cause action? How do you communicate with them?

Create thought leadership around the topics your followers have posted. Look for themes around the content you’ve created, or the content displayed about you. This provides an opportunity to invite followers interested in a topic that’s related to your service, product or industry. Create a saturated market by looking at what surrounds your brand and how those themes tie in.

Take an open-mined look at the conversations around your content. Ask someone else in your organization to interpret your message and help you clarify your message.

Talk to your audience. Talk to your advocates, the people who have had a good experience with your product or service. Reach out to your badvocates, those who have had a bad experience and need to be reconverted. Acknowledge the trolls – those posters, who no matter what are going to be out there spewing venom.. Instead, classify them and if necessary, call them out with, “Dear Troll, we know you don’t like us, however, you are not our target audience, so what we’re saying doesn’t resonate with you, but thank you for the comment, we so appreciate your feedback.” Ultimately people connect with people behind the message, not with brands or the message themselves.