Tag Archives: public relations

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.

How Brands Are Embracing Emojis to Communicate

Words are the foundation on which public relations and marketing professionals base the majority of their communication for the brands and organizations they represent. While visuals are often used as enhancers to the written word, some brands are relying on emojis—icons or emoticons—to connect with their audience and tell their story in place of words.

The impact emojis have had on today’s generation has not gone unnoticed. Earlier this week, Oxford Dictionaries named the “Face with Tears of Joy” emoji as its “Word of the Year.” Though it’s not technically a word, Oxford Dictionaries stated that emojis have been embraced as a nuanced form of expression, and that the chosen icon “best reflected the ethos, mood and preoccupations” of the year.

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Brands have certainly been experimenting with the use of emojis as a language in their public relations and marketing campaigns this year in an attempt to connect with millenials. Here are a few examples of how emojis are transforming digital communications:

  • Chevrolet issued a press release written entirely in emojis and waited several days before decoding it for the audience. The move had people talking about the message, and made headlines for days—when it was released and when the message was revealed.
  • Domino’s Pizza debuted a “tweet to order” campaign, which directed customers to order pizza by simply tweeting or texting a pizza emoji after they create a pizza profile.
  • The World Wildlife Fund launched its #EndangeredEmoji campaign on Twitter, aimed at helping to save animals from extinction. The charity highlighted 17 emojis representing endangered species and encouraged users to donate each time they’ve used one.

What do you think about using emojis in professional forms of communication?

Meet The Team: Carley Kelly

My name is Carley Kelly and I am the newest member at Yearick-Millea. I’m joining the team as the Account Coordinator Intern. I have lived in the suburbs of Pittsburgh my entire life and have always loved the atmosphere of the city.

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Some fun facts about me are:

  • I love to go on adventures, even if they’re small! Driving around and finding somewhere new to explore is one of my favorite pastimes.
  • I have been in over 20 plays and musicals since high school. Through theater, I have gotten to know myself better and meet some really incredible people in the process!
  • I can always be found with a book on hand. Reading is always how I pass the time.
  • I also love to draw and create things. I‘m working on so many DIY projects that I have officially run out of space for them at my house.

I want to travel more than just about anything else in life! I want to go to different places—like Thailand, Cappadocia and everywhere in between— and see things that I never would have thought possible. My family and friends mean the world to me and I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of their support.

I just recently graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown this past April with a degree in communications and writing, and I am beyond excited to learn everything I can during my time at Yearick-Millea. I cannot wait to get to get started!

Face-to-Face Time with Clients Still Matters

It’s no secret that our world is technologically-driven. Long gone are the days where face-to-face—and even telephone—interaction was the preferred way to communicate with others. Now we email, text, tweet or send Facebook messages to coworkers (even if they’re sitting a few feet away), clients, reporters and other contacts we might need to speak to.

Communicating this way is convenient; it makes it easier for you to keep written records or to refer back to older messages; and a lot of times, it’s the best way to get a hold of someone who has a really busy schedule or isn’t in town.

The public relations industry is based on communication, engagement and relationship building. While emailing or texting have become more popular, face-to-face communication is still crucial in the industry for quite a few reasons:

  • You make deeper connections: Having a face-to-face meeting allows you to connect with clients or reporters on a more personal level because you’re taking the time to have a conversation outside of a superficial email setting. It gives you the opportunity to get to know the people you are working with, and on the flip side, they get to know you. Meetings like these have the potential to create lasting relationships with clients or other contacts because you’re working with someone beyond the computer/phone screen.
  • You come to quicker solutions: While it’s true that sending an email/text is convenient and fast, that’s often not the case when you’re dealing with a complex issue that needs a solution. There’s a bit of disconnect when you’re communicating via email. Nonverbal cues and tone are absent, so there’s more room for miscommunication or misinterpretation. Going back and forth to explain an issue or a solution to that issue in an email chain often is more difficult and more time consuming than talking about it in person. If speaking face-to-face isn’t possible, talk on the phone or have a FaceTime session! You’ll be on your way to a solution in no time.
  • You stay focused: If your client is going to work with you on a big project, invite them to an in-person meeting. In this instance, email would be fine for sending important documents and information that are essential to the project, but go over those documents in person to make sure that everything is covered and all of your questions are answered before you begin working on it. Email and telephone follow-ups are inevitable, but the initial communication about an important project should be more focused and personal.

Meeting with someone in person is definitely worth the effort. To make the process a little easier, talk with your clients about getting together in person once a month or every few weeks. Try to schedule the next meeting at the end of each one. Other plans and projects come up, of course, but penciling in that face time is a step in the right direction.

5 Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block

It’s no secret that public relations, marketing, advertising and other communications professionals write a lot. Here at Yearick-Millea, we work on a variety of writing assignments for clients, whether it’s in the form of press releases, social media posts, proposals, website content, blogs or slogans.

However, a writing assignment for a client could turn into a stressful experience if writer’s block hits. Instead of panicking, follow these five tips to help your ideas flow:

  1. Write down ideas—Carry a small notepad and pen with you so you can jot down notes and ideas as they come to you throughout the day, and be as detailed as possible. If you don’t want to carry anything extra, type ideas into your phone. When you’re ready to start writing, you can reference them. You might think an idea is too good to forget, but don’t risk it.
  1. Step away or sleep on it—If you don’t have an immediate deadline for the assignment, set it aside for a little bit. Eat your lunch or take a short walk break to clear your mind, or go to bed and start fresh in the morning (don’t forget to take note of ideas you might have during this time). The concept of stepping away should not be used as an excuse to procrastinate, though. Remember you’re taking a small break to help propel you in the writing process rather than simply trying to put it off until later.
  1. Organize your thoughts/ideas—Make an outline of the thoughts and ideas you’ve managed to compile. You might find that some are more cohesive while others don’t seem to fit. Focus on those that mesh well and start to build on them. However, you shouldn’t immediately discard the ideas that aren’t blending well. They might come in handy later on in the planning process when you have a better grasp on what you’re going to write about, or they might even be something you can work off of for a future project/assignment.
  1. Write—It might seem silly to tell someone to write when they’re having trouble writing, but this step can help get you into the practice of it. Start by writing freely about whatever comes to mind. Because these words aren’t intended for a client or publication, don’t worry about a specific topic or your grammar. You can also find other writing exercises online that can help get you in a creative mindset.
  1. Unplug—When you start writing, put your phone away, shut off email notifications and close all other tabs on your computer. A good writing streak could easily be broken by a minor distraction, which could bring back that writer’s block. WordPress and other applications have “distraction-free” features that block everything but your written words from the computer screen. Take advantage of similar functions if you find that you have a hard time focusing.

 What do you do when you have writer’s block? Share your ideas with us in the comments!

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!

Yearick-Millea Acquires SWZ Design, Adds Design Capability

Yearick-Millea is pleased to announce that Kristi Schaefer and Scot Wallace, formerly of SWZ Design, have joined our staff following our acquisition of that firm.

As long-time collaborators and neighbors in our building, Kristi and Scot have furnished their creative talents to several Yearick-Millea clients, and independently to Eat ‘n Park Hospitality Group, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, DRS Architects, Cleaveland/Price Inc., Elliott Group, the American Heart Association and other well-known organizations.

Over the next few months, we will be working with Kristi and Scot to integrate their design, creative and strategic capabilities, as we chart an exciting new direction for our firm.  We’ll post more news to our social media feeds, website, blog and e-newsletter as progress continues.  In the meantime, we invite you to see samples of Kristi and Scot’s work at their website.

The Importance of Accuracy in Public Relations

As public relations and marketing professionals, we spend a lot of our time distributing information to the public on behalf of our clients—whether it’s via a press release, print collateral, website content, social media or other outlets.

But it’s important for that information to be accurate. As we’ve covered in a previous blog, accuracy is a crucial aspect of ethical behavior within the industry, and distributing false information could ruin the credibility of your firm or client.

In 2010, BP’s credibility took several blows as statements issued to the public addressing the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill were challenged and proven to be wrong.

However, the distribution of false information isn’t always an intentional action. Working with clients in a variety of industries, public relations and marketing experts are tasked with learning about those industries—whether or not we’ve had previous experience with them or knowledge about them in the past—in order to assist with communications efforts.

If you’re working on a project for a client and you don’t understand something, ask them for clarification. For example, if you’re working on a press release about a new product launch, but you don’t comprehend what the product is or what it does, reach out to the client before you start writing. If you don’t, you might be sending the client a draft of copy full of inaccuracies, and you’ll have to start from scratch once they’ve reviewed it. The client should appreciate your desire to get the information right much more than your ability to “wing it.”

Similarly, your relationship with journalists could be negatively impacted if they discover multiple inaccuracies in your content or if they publish the wrong information directly from the release you sent—even if the mistakes were not intentional.

Luckily, most organizations have an approval process in place before any type of information is distributed or published on their behalf, but there’s always a chance for incorrect information to slip through the cracks.

Avoid making careless mistakes by proofreading your content, asking the client for clarification if you need it and checking your facts—especially names, dates, statistics and even basic facts. Remember that not all sources are credible, reputable or up-to-date when you’re verifying information online.

Do you have any other tips that help promote the distribution of accurate content? What tools do you use to check your facts? Let us know in the comments!

Ethical Practices On Social Media

As we mentioned last week, September has been named Ethics Awareness Month by the Public Relations Society of America.  As public relations professionals, we must consider ethical practices at all times—especially on social media because of its emerging importance, high visibility and influence on its users.  Content on social media easily reaches people all over the world, and brands use it to build relationships with their audience. That being said, it’s a good idea to have a plan in case you run into some tricky situations. Here are a few things to consider regarding ethics on social media:

  • Best Practices: Take the time to write a social media code of ethics or best practices to avoid getting caught in an ethical dilemma. Think about potential problems that might arise and draft some guidelines for your firm. No two situations are the same, but if you encounter gray areas, having written rules and regulations can help steer you in the right direction.
  • Authenticity, Accuracy and Accountability: Distribute accurate information and avoid making false and/or misleading statements on social media, just as you would in a press release and other marketing materials. Authenticity of voice is especially important when you’re posting or tweeting on behalf of a client. Use real customer/user commentary and testimony versus making it up to make your client look good or relevant. Last week, a publicist came under fire after releasing a fake tape of Joan Rivers promoting “My Son the Waiter, a Jewish Tragedy,” an off-Broadway show. Rivers had been scheduled to record the ad before she died. If you do make a mistake, own up to it and issue an appropriate apology. Some brands have claimed that their social media pages were hacked after publishing content that was not well-received or that was inappropriate. While that is certainly the case sometimes, it shouldn’t be used in an attempt to cover up a social media flub.
  • Keep It Real: On the topic of authenticity, don’t buy Facebook “likes” and Twitter followers to make your page look more successful. Practices such as these are an attempt to cheat the system, and in the long run, they will only hurt your client because you will see little or no return. Sure, your client’s social media pages will have a lot of followers, but your audience will essentially be fraudulent, and it won’t deliver the engagement the page needs.
  • Transparency: Social media pages are meant to be a form of communication between your clients and their audiences. While most brands hope for positive feedback, there are times when they receive negative feedback on their social media pages. It isn’t pleasant, but resist the urge to delete the not-so-nice comments. Unless the comments violate terms of use or cross offensive boundaries, the right thing to do is to leave them and respond in a way that follows your company’s best practices (click here for some tips). Similarly, don’t leave negative feedback (anonymously or not) on competing social media pages. It’s unprofessional and makes your company look bad.

What other ethical issues can arise on social media? Share your ideas and tips with us in the comments.

September is Ethics Awareness Month

The public relations industry can present a variety of challenges and dilemmas, especially when it comes to ethical issues. The Public Relations Society of America has declared that September is Ethics Awareness Month. The organization is spending the month to bring light to the importance of practicing ethical behavior in this profession.

PRSA has a Member Code of Ethics in place designed to anticipate ethical challenges that come up on a regular basis. The PRSA Member Statement of Professional Values – including  Advocacy,  Honesty, Expertise, Independence, Loyalty and Fairness – are the foundations that are meant to guide a PR professional’s behavior.

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(c) Can Stock Photo

As PR professionals, we are hired to act as advocates for our companies and clients by providing credible and honest information to the public. Ethical practices really are at the forefront of every decision made – whether it’s the research and planning of strategic campaigns in an effort to avoid costly mistakes, developing relationships with the media, or determining solutions in the midst of a crisis. One of the biggest challenges faced is technology, as news travels faster than ever through websites and social media networks.

We realize that the public can perceive PR professionals as unethical at times, so we urge our colleagues to visit the PRSA code as a reminder of how to apply those particular values to daily communications strategies.

To read more on the ethics focus throughout the month, follow the Twitter hashtag #PRethics or check out the list of activities provided by PRSA. Participate in these conversations and help to raise the bar of ethics in public relations!