Nearly one half of all organizations are unprepared to handle a PR crisis, which is especially scary considering the lasting impact a poorly handled response can have on a brand’s reputation. This guide is a helpful resource that highlights all the best tips for what to do, and what not to do, in the middle of a PR crisis.
Social media helps public relations professionals fulfill a more nuanced role to help with relationship management, identify brand reputation threats, and engage influencers as well as journalists.
Back in the day, public relations professionals would give a statement on air, release it in print, or publish it online. Social media has disrupted the field, making public relations a faster-paced and more delicate matter.
We need only look to our Commander in Chief to know that a social platform like Twitter can now serve as the primary channel for a business, brand or celebrity to release official information about itself. The lesson here is clear. Businesses that fail to use social media to manage their reputations may not only lose reach in the digital world, but may not even be noticed amid all the noise. For PR purposes, few modern mediums pack the same punch as social media. Here’s how professionals are now using social platforms as their primary option for managing information about a client or company.
The Evolution of Public Relations
Before digitalization, public relations professionals primarily engaged with the public after a major change. They announced new offerings, minimized reputation damage, and reacted to industry changes as the face of the organization. With the blossoming of social media, that’s evolved. Now, many public relations professionals play a much more nuanced role. They may proactively engage in reputation management activities, counsel leadership, and identify potential problems in a business’s relationship with the public.
Social media eliminates the walls between members of the public and a brand, shortens the time a company has to react to relevant stories, and blurs the line between marketing and public relations. Often, public relations’ and marketing professionals’ roles overlap on social media.
Crafting and maintaining a positive public appearance requires a balance of engaging content and a careful awareness and reaction to public opinions. For brand reasoning, explanations, and crisis response, modern public relations professionals may look to social media as the first line of defense in an increasingly connected world.
How Public Relations Professionals Use Social Media
Social media can help public relations professionals meet their goals or it can hinder the reputation management process, depending on the situation. Some of the most common ways public relations teams use social media include:
- To find influencers – Influencers give brands a voice they could never use on their own. Social media influencers have massive digital followings that brands can tap into to promote offerings and protect reputations. When public relations professionals create relationships between brands and influencers, they’re really adding another line of both promotion and defense the brand can use to its advantage.
- To identify brand threats – Social listening gives professionals the power to understand the public’s opinion before it turns into a trending topic. They can proactively find and address online threats and possibly prevent a major brand reputation crisis. To think like a public relations expert, consider using one of the dozens of social listening tools out there to understand what social media users really think.
- To influence journalist’s stories – The public can actually see PR professionals on social media when they address a crisis, but many work behind the scenes to shape a brand’s image. When a trending topic arises, journalists often put their ear to social media to see what people are saying. Public relations professionals will often join that online discussion in order to influence journalists to present a certain angle. PR pros may not always end up seeing the published story they’d like, but they can still use social media as a tool to keep their angle in the public eye.
- To swiftly react to negative press – Social media is one of the first places people look for a brand’s reaction to a negative claim. Public relations professionals may use a company account to craft and publish an immediate response and to direct the public to another medium for more information. Social media gives public relations professionals immediate access to a large, attentive audience.
- To make announcements – Word travels fast on Twitter, so public relations professionals often use the platform to announce awards, product launches, and company updates. With captivating short snippets and links, professionals can reach a much wider audience via social media than traditional forums.
Social media is a natural fit for public relations and one of many tools businesses can use to protect and promote their reputations. When public relations and marketing teams combine their efforts on social media, brands often enjoy immediate positive results.
Businesses Can Use Social Media to Manage Public Opinion!
Regardless of professional public relations support, all businesses can use their social media accounts to help manage public opinion. Don’t wait for others to create stories about your brand. Create interest with some public relations influencing tactics. Create flattering and engaging stories about your brand, react to other large stories, and react publicly to negative comments. Think like a public relations expert and create content like a marketer on social media to boost your reputation and earn new followers.
As of April 2015, CEO participation on social media is still low. That said it is becoming increasingly more important and more common for CEOs to step out from behind the desk and into the digital spotlights of social media.
I have been writing and preaching about this for years now! As the graphic shows below, a “social CEO” (aka a Cheif Executive Officer who uses social media to benefit and for the overall “good” of his or her organization!) is still rare.
The good news is there are at least a few leaders out there demonstrating what it looks like and how social media can benefit their personal and professional brands. Keep in mind that Laurie Pehar Borsh PR specializes in the production and management of CEOS and other high-level, high-profile executives on social media.
No! A busy executive should not go at this alone (that could be the issue).
The simplest truth for business owners to remember is that they must invest in their brand (as well as their personal professional brand) before they invest time and money into gaining media attention. 1000% Guaranteed: If your product or service is amazing, unique, better than your competitors, and your followers and clients can’t stop telling the world about you….the media will come!
5 Evidences that your Brand is Not Ready for Press…
1. You don’t have a brand
You have an idea. You have created a product or service that none or few have yet to pay you for. It may be remarkable or even breathtaking, it could even be the beginning of a multi-million dollar enterprise! Unfortunately, it has not successfully hit the market yet and credible journalists do not report on potential.
2. You do not have any followers
You do not have to become a viral sensation to be successful! However, having at least a few hundred people who consistently rave about how awesome you are will build credibility within the eyes of the media and your target customer.
3. There is no revenue
Almost every journalist loves a good rags to riches story or to be able to boast a company’s soaring financials. Since 50% of all start-ups fail, reporting on the successful ones is a joy to the media. Your product may be perfectly brilliant but without revenue the media will view it as a hobby not an enterprise.
4. Your product is mediocre
There is a saying in media, “Dog bites man is not news, man bites dog is news”. If your product is common like your competitors with the same price and similar qualities, the media will not come running. If you have a scarf company that is not news. If a single mom created hand-woven scarfs in her home, using the rarest fabric on the earth, and donates 25% of revenue to cancer research…that is news! How are you unique?
5. You have not researched the media
If you are a serial dater of the media and sending broad, mass pitches to every and any journalist you are not ready for the media! Think of the single person who goes around a club or social setting handing his or her number out to EVERYONE. How ridiculous do they look? Approaching all media gets you no where because every journalist has a specific audience. You must first research the media and find out which outlet covers products similar to yours and how your offerings can specifically benefit a journalist from that outlet.
5 Solutions to get you press ready.
1. Build a brand
Before you hire a PR firm (GASP), spend your dollars on your brand. Make sure your logo is spectacular, your website is superb, and your customer service is unbeatable. You may be a mom and pop but make sure you look like a cooperation. Give your company a dazzling personality and do not cut corners, hire professionals and the best of the best to transform your vision to reality.
2. Build a social media following
Interact and post thoughtful content on Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook. Re-post all that you see that is awesome, follow influential people, and share your company’s updates often. Also, kindly ask every client to give you a review on Yelp, and share your testimonials on your social media outlets. Do not simply “sell” on social media. For example, if you owned a dog food store your Facebook post should not read “Dog food on sale $12.99 buy now”. Your post should be an adorable photo of a dog that says, “Like this photo if you love dogs”, this is an example of engaging VS selling.
3. Make money
Invest and make sure your product is the highest quality and if need be, spend money on advertising (not to be confused with PR). 10 years ago advertising meant having a $50,000 budget but with today’s digital platforms and solutions you can advertise effectively for hundreds of dollars. If your budget will not allow for it seek referrals, look for places to sell your product online or what ever it takes. If you fail to make any real profit after 12 months of advertising and selling, go back to the drawing board and figure out why your product is not selling itself and redefine who your target customer is.
4. Make your product better than the rest
For this it is time to stalk your competitors. Evaluate what makes their products sell and examine your own product and ask yourself how can you create the same value they have but even more. What is your man bites dog story? Where can you not cut corners but be incredibly detailed? How can you use your product to tie and uplift your community?
You read right. If you sell an organic household cleaner find yourself a journalist who is known for following and reporting on the dangers of toxins and the importance of healthy home care. Read their editorial calendar like the Bible, follow their social media, and pitch them as someone who is able to in the future provide value to their readers. Do not do the failed, traditional “Feature me please” pitch. Instead, try a, “I am a fan, nice to e-meet you, I have tons of material that your audience will find valuable so if I can ever be a resource for you please let me know” approach.
I haven’t been contributing to this blog, I know in quite some time (I mean SOME time). I edit and produce for my clients. Always the plumber with the leaky faucet, but no more. Do as I say, not as I do right?
Had to share this great blog post (continue reading here), but here’s the lead in… love the gifs on this one!
Developing a Personal Brand on a Global Stage
By Shalee Hanson
I was in sixth grade the first time I remember anyone talking to me about Internet safety: “Do not EVER, put any personal information on the Internet. Don’t give out your real name. Never give out your address, or your birthdate or any other personal information. The Internet is dangerous.” To be fair, they were warning us about Internet chat rooms, so, I get it; but I remember thinking it was strange that we had this tool that connected the world and all we were ever going to do was lie to each other with it.
Fast forward to 2015, and Facebook knows my full name, date of birth, my last four places of employment, every city I’ve ever lived in, my phone number and anything else someone may want to know about me. In fact, more often than not, when I’m going to meet someone for the first time, or shortly after I’ve met them, I will spend time checking out their social channels to figure out what they’re like. Let me reiterate, before anyone in the world has ever met you, they can develop a sense of who you are. What does your personal brand say about you?
It’s crazy to think about, really. Thirteen-year-olds who have Twitter don’t even know that what they’re tweeting right now is going to be a part of their personal brand forever. If they tweet some nonsensical garbage about hating America, and years and years later they run for president, someone will find that tweet and the whole world will know that when they were thirteen, for whatever reason, they said they hated America. Is it fair? No. But it happens.
Whether you’re a regular person, a public figure or even a brand trying to navigate your way through the social playing field, here are some tips on how to develop your personal brand on the global stage:
Read the full article here – says it all!
Last year, I wrote an article for Jaffe–the legal industry’s full-service PR and marketing agency, entitled Come Out from Behind the Brand. I guess you can call me a traditionalist; I am a huge proponent of staying true to what social media actually means, and how it was originally developed toconnect people with people. If you recall (or recall hearing), “the Facebook” was developed by a Harvard student (most of us know who he is) to help students connect with students about the happenings around the university. People connecting with people and, as we all know, the rest is history. My back to basics mantra: “Social media works best when people, not the brand entities that they work for, communicate with people about what and who they like and know of, the latest news and incredible stories, etc.”
Here’s the key: the more people in “the village” (i.e. company, or really any organization of any sort) who are “talking about” various things in the social media channels that either pertain or relate directly to their organization or company (brand), in representation of that organization or company, the more likely others (people) will follow, engage and talk about these people and more importantly, about the brand (company/organization) that person and their “village” represents or leads. In doing so , all of this can and will lead to increased online visibility (digital PR and publicity!) for the brand/organization which will naturally lead to or provide new opportunities (namely new business, sales, leads, further mainstream publicity, and so forth).
One of the advantages of using social media networks for creating new business opportunities is the ability to share great information without having to rely solely on the traditional sales pitch approach. Absent the hard sell, “social media network broadcasting” allows for the opportunity to engage with people on a number of levels, from personal interaction to thought leadership. Broadcasting includes sharing your own original content/information, re-sharing other information and content (via your colleagues, friends or media sources), or having a conversation about a specific topic.
So, rather than looking at using your posts in social media networks as just another overt sales pitch method, try deploying a personal “broadcasting” campaign to encourage the people in your networks (LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and so forth) to look forward to hearing from you. That will only add to your new business development process. The more frequently the people in your networks (or your “audiences”) read about you and all the interesting things you have to say or share in their various social media network newsfeeds, the more “buzz” you can create for yourself and/or your law firm.
With the right strategy and a consistent tactical plan, your social and other online media (blogs, groups/forums) network audiences will eventually start to share, like and even comment on your broadcasted content (original articles, shared content, or back-and-forth conversations, etc.). During this process, audiences will also share your content with their audiences, who may also then share with their audiences and so on. It’s a viral process (and it doesn’t happen overnight – it takes time to build up) that will eventually add to your online public reputation and increase your online publicity, which in turn will support your traditional sales and business development processes.
That’s a win-win situation, no matter how you look at it. Rather than simply telling your public what you offer and how valuable it is, social media broadcasting allows you to demonstrate – over time and in a very direct way – why you and your product or service is of benefit and why people should believe the person (you) or the company behind it. Reading what is being shared by others in your social media network newsfeeds can also give you insight into what’s on the minds of your clients or potential clients: what they like, what they don’t like, and what they’re saying about you and your competitors.
Good information is the lifeblood of social media networking. While it’s important to create a robust profile in a variety of networks, these no longer can remain static. The more you broadcast (on any level), the better your reach-out to your audience will be. This generates publicity and enhances your public reputation, and develops web- or blogsite traffic, direct email inquiries or calls. Social media broadcasting success also benefits from the sharing of non-competitor information through your various channels, from featuring guest bloggers to recommending the products and/or services of others to your audiences.
You can easily measure the effectiveness of social media broadcast efforts to gauge the level of impact it’s having on your business. Here are some typical social media measures I look at:
-Number of new followers and connections, such as “new likes” on Facebook, followers on Twitter, connections on LinkedIn, etc.
-Traffic to your website or blog measurement from social media sources such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.
-Number of new email (newsletter) list or blog subscriptions compared to your old rates before ramping up your social media efforts.
-The “reach” of your social media broadcasting efforts (how many people beyond your own network channels read/see your posts).
-Level of audience engagement (number of comments, questions, etc.).
-Number of people buying your product or service as a result of a social media network referral.
-Physical sales numbers before and after starting your social media campaign.
Know your audience: Your audience cares much less about you than about themselves, so stop making your content about you. Understand what motivates your audience, and cater to that.
Entertain: If you’re asking people to invest time into your content, the least you can do is make it worthwhile. Don’t be afraid to use humor or drama to make your message that much more interesting to read. Bonus: Being entertaining helps make you memorable.
Inform: The worst reaction you can get from your audience is a collective “So what?” Write about current events, give your opinion on trending issues or add insight to popular topics. Anything you can do to educate your audience will help show your value.
Inspire: Getting people to read a piece of content is one thing, but provoking your audience to take action is something else altogether. Great content can turn your efforts into real-world results. For example, charities often find ways to tell emotionally powerful stories of their constituents as a way to inspire viewers to donate.
Engage: What’s more interesting, a lecture or a group discussion? Most people would probably agree that the latter keeps their attention longer. Think about ways you can interweave the comments and feedback of your audience into your content. Hosting guest blogs and curating third-party and social media content can be a great way to turn your one-way channel into a two-way street.
The bottom line: If you want to get results (or ROI) out of your social media participation (investment) effort, you must you engage in social media network broadcasting. Just as traditional advertising and sales approaches remain critical components of your marketing and branding toolbox, social media network broadcasting is also becoming more and more necessary. Surprisingly, even with numerous social media networking success stories and case studies there are to learn from, many attorneys and law firms are quick to brush these off as “fluff” or gratuitous. If done well, strategically and tactically – with the right mix of solid information, social media channels, audience engagement and tangible measurements – social media network broadcasting is a proven publicity and lead-generation strategy that can get and keep you in front of your target markets and set you apart from the competition. Interestingly enough, everyone who is part of this pay-it-forward process will also benefit!
Originally published for the Jaffe Blog.
The ability to tell a story is a fundamental skill that all good brand communicators should possess. Storytelling not only shares information, it makes that information relatable to the audience, humanizing complex ideas and offering fresh perspectives.
Christopher Hammond, senior vice president of corporate communications for Wells Fargo, shares some tips here on how to enhance your brand’s message through storytelling.
#1. Take it to your audience!
Read the full article here…