Tag Archives: PR

PR Trends to Look Out for in 2016

As 2015 comes to a close, we’re taking a look at recent trends and new technologies that we can incorporate into our clients’ public relations plans for 2016. The industry has certainly gone through quite a transformation in recent years due to the growth of social media, and that plays a strong role in the strategies being used in the PR world as well. What developments should be most prominent in the coming year? Here are a few that we believe will support PR efforts throughout 2016.

Mobile Content

  • Where do most people receive information these days? Whether checking email or social media sites, our digital devices – cell phones, tablets, etc. – are the center of our lives for communication and they’ve become instrumental in spreading news. This past spring, Google began using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal that ultimately means that those sites not optimized for mobile would be ranked lower and lower. The push from Google will force companies to develop mobile-friendly content, so responsive design and embedded videos will become standard and expected. Use this technology as a way to connect with your audience and the billions of mobile-device users anywhere and at any time.

Visual Content

  • Visual elements tell a story and add emotion, prompting your audience to drive the visibility of your message. Educational and instructional videos are great tools to provide to a customer, perhaps based on a new product or service being offered. In fact, the videos that are gaining popularity are actually user-generated videos, not necessarily those that are finely produced and staged. We all have access to quality cameras through our phones now, which create more meaningful videos and photos.

 

If sending a press release, make sure that a photo, logo, infographic, or video is included as well. Those types of visuals engage reporters and increase the likelihood of landing placements in print, but especially online. Since PR and social media efforts typically tend to support one another, visuals are also great tools to carry over onto social sharing sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Take the time to evaluate what tools worked for you in 2015, and don’t be afraid to take some risks in 2016! Whether your business is B2B or B2C, working in fresh, new strategies will help make your business relevant.

Four Ways Public Relations & Social Media Should Work Together

It’s no secret that public relations and social media are (or should be) a crucial part of a company or brand’s strategy for success. Though both areas are different, they share the common goal of positively communicating on behalf of a company or brand, and both are becoming more and more intertwined.

Here are a couple of ways that they can work hand in hand:

  • Public relations professionals work hard to pitch ideas and content to media outlets on behalf of their clients. If pitches are successful and clients/products are featured in a news article, magazine, TV spot or blog post, share those successes on social media. Not only do you maximize exposure to that content, but it’s a way to make a connection with the media outlet that published it.
  • If your client has an online newsroom, share links to distributed press releases on their social media profiles. If you want to take it a bit further, repurpose the content in the press release. For example, if you distribute photo caption sheets, take some of those stellar images and post them on Pinterest while linking back to the release.
  • If your client is hosting an event, chances are that you’re distributing press releases, fliers and calendar postings to alert the masses. Consider creating an event on Facebook and inviting fans. You can gauge how many people are interested based on the RSVPs, and it’ll give your client, as the host, an opportunity to engage with the audience and answer any questions people might have. If your client is gearing up to attend an important industry event—like a trade show or expo— your press release might announce their attendance, but this is a great opportunity to make the announcement on LinkedIn or encourage them to join an existing event/thread on social media to make connections before they even get there.
  • Great engagement on social media profiles can lead to amazing public relations opportunities. Having a real conversation with someone and creating a relationship is what public relations is all about. These days, reporters and other media outlets can generate an entire story based on the conversations and communication they see on social media sites. Don’t be afraid to issue statements on your profile, and don’t be surprised if a media outlet highlights it in an article.

How else do you use public relations and social media together? Feel free to share in the comments section!

Using Social Media to Connect With Reporters

Social media has changed the way journalists work on a day-to-day basis. More reporters/editors are using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other networks as a resource in content creation and research. They sift through information on social media to generate story ideas, promote their own articles and engage with the public and/or potential sources. Many reporters have their own professional Twitter handles and Facebook pages separate from their publication/station’s general account.

Public relations and marketing professionals should take full advantage of this new way to reach out to journalists because:

• You get to know the reporter/editor, their audience and their niche. Pay attention to what they share and post, and don’t hesitate to interact with some of their posts.
• You can, and should, develop a relationship before you have a relevant topic that is of interest to them. When/if the time comes to pitch an idea, you’ll already have established a connection. Avoid sending a pitch or story idea publicly on social media, however, because it takes away the feeling of exclusivity.
• Reporters sometimes utilize social media for “reporter want ads,” a brief statement in search of a source for a given topic. If you have a client or source who fits the bill, this is a great opportunity to refer them.

Though connecting with reporters on social media can help you in a number of ways, building relationships can take some time, just as it would in person. Once you have a working rapport, make the effort to maintain that connection.

Is The Press Release Dead?

This question commonly pops up on LinkedIn groups and other forums devoted to marketing.  As a business owner and practitioner with a firm that derives income from writing press releases, I have a vested interest in the answer.

Even if that weren’t the case, I’d still argue that the basic press release is very much alive and well; and for good reason.  Here are five reasons why it remains one of the most cost-effective marketing communication tools any business or organization can use:

  1. They sharpen your message: We’ve all heard about the importance of having an “elevator speech.”  A press release helps you write one.  How?  By forcing you to distill the essence of your product, service or event into one or two short sentences in the lead paragraph.
  2. They’re cost-effective.  A compelling headline, a concise product description and a current media list may be all it takes to generate new sales leads for your company.  If the content in your press release is newsworthy, editors and readers will check it out.  If not, you’ve either buried the message or you need a more compelling one.
  3. More media consumes more content.  Chances are your press release won’t get picked up by the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. On the other hand, trade magazines, blogs, websites and e-newsletters are voracious consumers of content.  A well-crafted press release can sate their appetites and build awareness and recognition for your company, product or service at the same time.
  4. They’re SEO- and social media-friendly.  Search engines reward websites that update content. In addition to blogging about your latest company news, post a release to your online newsroom and let Google, Yahoo and Bing do the work of getting readers to your site for you.  Press releases are good social media fodder, too.
  5. They’re an easy pitch.  Press releases often generate calls from editors looking for more background information or photography. That creates new opportunities for you to pitch an interview, feature story, case study or plant tour. When you’re trying to build awareness for your business, it’s always helps when editors are calling you.

What do you think?  Is the press release dead?  Share your thoughts with us by responding here, or check out our tips for writing a good press release here.

 

Lululemon’s Image Problem

It’s been a rough year for Lululemon, the Vancouver-based yoga retailer. First there was mass recall of sheer yoga pants, now their Dallas store has gotten them back in the news for all the wrong reasons.

Let’s look at the problem and how Lululemon reacted.

From Business Insider:

 “Lululemon Athletica is in hot water after one of its Dallas stores posted a sign appearing to mock a charity that helps battered women.

 “We do partners yoga, not partners card,” the sign read, referring to the Family Place charity’s “Partners Card,” which costs $70 and offers deep discounts at 750 area stores — not including Lululemon — to help raise money for womens’ shelters…

Paige Flink, executive director of the charity, said she was offended by the sign at the store in Dallas’ NorthPark Center because she felt it was mocking the charity. She personally asked the store to remove it and management told her the store might remove it by Monday.”

 

This incident has caused quite an uproar on social media, with many people posting that they will never purchase from Lululemon again. An apology was posted to the Lululemon Athletica NorthPark Facebook page on Tuesday:

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Click for image source

While an apology is nice, it’s important to note that the response came from Lululemon’s corporate headquarters in Vancouver, not from the Dallas store itself. You can see this from the tag produced by Facebook’s location enabling service. It has also been reported that the store’s manager has offered the employees of The Family Place free yoga, even though it can be noted here that the executive director of the Family Place made it clear that funding is the best way to help the charity.

So, what can you learn from Lululemon’s fiasco?

First: Think it over – while signs being witty are wonderful, and even signs that push the boundaries can work if that is appropriate for your audience, always remember not to make fun of other businesses, people or, in this case, charities.

Second: Act quickly – The store should have removed the sign as soon as they were aware of its offensive nature (though I’m not sure how they didn’t realize it was offensive prior to putting it up) not waited 3 days to remove the sign.

Third: Apologize (the right way) – Lululemon should have had the store manager apologize, not their corporate office. It makes it appear that the store manager does not take responsibility for what happened, when it was clearly a message created solely for their store. I would have also recommended a donation of monetary value – not yoga.

 

What do you think Lululemon could have done to handle the situation better?

Choosing the Right PR Firm

Hiring an accomplished public relations firm is a tried-and-true formula for generating awareness of your company or promoting your individual products and services.  If you live near a major metropolitan area, there are hundreds of good local firms and skilled individual practitioners from which to choose.  Here are four ideas to keep in mind when seeking the best one for your business:

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Content is king.  In today’s multi-channel marketplace, PR practitioners have countless avenues for promoting your business, from traditional broadcast and print media to web sites, electronic media, social media, special events, brochures, newsletters … the list goes on.  Yet, for any campaign to be effective, the old PR fundamentals – sound strategy, creative thinking and sharp writing – still apply.  When interviewing PR firms, ask about the methodologies they use to develop content and campaign strategies for clients, and for measurable results that demonstrate success.

What’s their specialty?  Chances are your business specializes in something.  PR firms do, too.  Most concentrate on business-to-consumer or business-to-business accounts, and some focus more narrowly on specialty niches such as health care, professional services, automotive, education, high-tech or building products.  Find two or three with expertise in your business and talk with agency owners or executives – as well as the people who will actually manage your account – to see which have the best fit with you.

Size matters.  Big PR firms have excellent media contacts; talented, well-trained staffs and a wealth of resources, including the best seats for the local sports teams.  The downside is that their rates can approach those of a high-priced lawyer, even with less-seasoned professionals assigned to your account.  If you’re on a budget – and can do without a lot of client perks – you often can get great results with a single practitioner or small firm.  Many are run by well-established entrepreneurs who gained experience and contacts at larger firms before striking out on their own.  Not only are their rates reasonable, you’re more likely to work closely with an agency principal who will put his or her knowledge directly to work for you.

Ask around.  Not sure where to start your search? One good place is your friends and business contacts.  It is likely that someone you know has worked with a PR firm and gotten good results. If not, contact the nearest chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), American Marketing Association (AMA) or Business Marketing Association (BMA).  Of course, there’s always Google, too!

No matter the size, uniqueness or complexity of your account, there’s a talented PR professional out there with the skills, expertise and media contacts to help your business grow.

 

Tips for Writing Press Releases

Got News? Whether your company is launching a new product, promoting an event, or sharing other news, sending out a press release on the subject has long been one of the most effective ways to reach reporters and editors. While social media is changing the game, press releases are still an integral part of any successful PR campaign. As always, the hard part is capturing the attention of busy writers. Here are 10 tips to help you write better press releases:

business man

Click for image source

  1. Compelling subject line– Reporters and editors live in a non-stop world and receive hundreds of emails a day. Unfortunately, that means a lot of them go unread. If the subject line doesn’t capture interest, the email will get deleted no matter how groundbreaking the news is. Also, make sure the subject line/heading is written in the present tense so the news appears fresh and current, even if the content in the release already occurred. The past tense is old news.
  2. Lead paragraph – The lead paragraph is the most important and most read part of a press release. It should include all of the important details: the who, what, when, where, why, and how. All other supporting information is secondary and should be included in subsequent paragraphs.
  3. Write in third person – When writing a press release, imagine that you are telling the story about someone or something else. For example, “FaceSpace launched a new social media platform at an event last Thursday,” rather than “We launched…” Unless “I” or “we” is part of a quote, don’t even think about writing in first person.
  4. He said, she said – Speaking of quotes, they add a human element to a release. While you can include a quote from someone inside the company, avoid using canned quotes because they tend to sound corny and self-promoting. Instead, quote one of your happy customers or someone involved in an event.
  5. Keep it short and to the point – Press releases should be kept to one page, or about 400 words. Use simple, effective language that gets your point across. Avoid excessive adjectives, adverbs, and words from your word-of-the-day calendar. Fluff is awesome, if you’re talking about the marshmallow variety, but it shouldn’t be included in a press release.
  6. Link up – Just because your release should be concise, it doesn’t mean you can’t provide links to relevant pages on your company’s website or other resources as a way to provide more information. But, be careful and don’t overdo it. As a general rule of thumb, you can insert one link for every 150 words.
  7. Photos – People like seeing pictures and images. However, unless you are distributing the release through a wire service, I wouldn’t email a press release with an attachment. Think about it. Do you open emails from people you don’t know, let alone one with an attachment? Nope (or at least you shouldn’t). Emails with attachments also tend to be blocked by spam filters, meaning the release may not even reach an intended target. Instead, link to the image or include a note at the end of the release that says images are available upon request.
  8. 10 and 2 – No, I’m not talking about holding a steering wheel. When sending out a news release, it’s best to do so between 10 am and 2 pm. That way, you’re at the top of a recipient’s inbox after their morning cup(s) of coffee, but before they start rushing through the remaining items on their to-do list for the day. Also, unless it’s an urgent matter, it’s best to send out a release on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.
  9. Proofread – Yep, as soon as you click the mouse button, sending your release, you finally notice that typo. It’s happened to us all, but can be avoided by proofreading. Have you been staring at the same release for a while? Ask someone else to look it over. A fresh pair of eyes may spot something that you didn’t catch.
  10. Contact info – It seems simple enough, but remember to include contact information at the top of your release so that a writer can follow up if he or she has questions, would like to schedule an interview, or ask for photos.

 

(PS…don’t forget to proofread your work again.)

 

Why Do You Need a PR Firm?

Here’s something that happens a little too often.  A client, prospect or business acquaintance will casually mention something good that is taking place in their organization.  When I ask what they’re doing to promote it, almost invariably, they’ll say “nothing,” or explain that they’re not sure it’s “newsworthy.”

That’s usually when I get a chance to answer the question in this blog’s headline.  Truth is, if you’re like most business owners or managers, you’re simply too focused on your day-to-day responsibilities to tell your customers, prospects, community and industry about all the great things your business is doing.  Besides, you’re pressed enough for time as it is already, right?

Public Relations

The right PR firm can help – not just to get coverage in the local paper or an industry trade magazine, although that’s part of it – but can actually help your business grow.  That means more than news releases and pitching story ideas to editors.  Sure, those tactics have their place, but with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Vine and other social media channels popping up all the time, there’s almost no end to the tools PR pros can use to position your products or organization with key influencers and successfully engage their interest.

Whether you have a new product or an established business – a big marketing budget or almost none at all – there’s a PR person or firm that is ready to make sure the right people know about it – consistently (because that’s important) – and in a way that fits your budget.  Check back soon for tips on how to find one.