By: Rachel Schultz
“A potential friend (connection), is only a hello away” – Paul Liebau, Canadian Best-Selling Author
I remember when I was a sophomore in college, there was this tall, dark-haired man who visited my track practices. Drew was a 32-year-old man who had an attention-getting smile. After many random appearances, I began to talk to Drew. I learned that he graduated from the same program I am currently enrolled in, and became a two time All-American in track and field, all while raising two kids.
A year passed and the regular drop-by visits continued. I was always eager to say “hello” and be the first to greet Drew. As fellow public relation enthusiasts, this gave us the chance to network. Yes, even at a track practice.
Before we knew it, my junior year of college finally arrived. Public relations students at the University of Central Missouri are required to complete at least one internship before graduation. Drew was already familiar with this process. One of our typical chats resulted in me landing an interview for an internship the very next morning. This was perfect timing and Drew opening the door for me was all because I was the athlete who always greeted him with a hello.
Throughout my internship, I expanded my knowledge in many different areas. Specifically, the art of communication & networking (two areas where Drew truly excels). By attending large events and maintaining open conversations in the office, I have yet to regret a hello. The joy I find in greeting others is priceless and the benefits are endless. The biggest lesson I have learned throughout my coursework and experiences is to never be afraid to speak to anyone. There is a surprising power in hello.
The purpose of this blog is to showcase the importance of the word hello. As communication and business professionals, we should all be eager to greet others, strangers or friends. Hello serves as a greeting, not a conversation. Yes, it may lead to a conversation but what exactly is the harm in that?
Somehow it has become socially okay to ignore others when passing by. It seems we are now in an age where people would rather avoid eye contact, just because they may have to speak to someone…why?
There appears to be a major disconnect in thinking that simple things are unimportant things.
There are endless opportunities in this world and by simply being personable to others, it could truly open doors for you. Sure, we all get anxious sometimes. Sure, we all aren’t a “people person.” Sure, our mothers told us not to talk to strangers. However, didn’t our mothers also encourage us to step out of our comfort zones?
This simple word is not an overused and unimportant gesture. It is an often underappreciated greeting. Hello is a sign of respect. A sign of being friendly. A sign that you acknowledge someone’s existence.
If I told you saying “hello” could earn you your first dream job, would you do it?
The game has changed. Written material is on its way out and its replacement? Video content. With the numbers on its side, it’s no surprise people prefer this fresher form of content over its older, outdated counterpart. Keep reading to see why and how you can take advantage of this movement before it’s too late.
Why such a shift to video?
So what’s so great about video content? Well, the reasoning has to do with its ability to captivate an audience on two playing fields. Where text only has the ability to capture our attention via visuals and is forced to rely heavily on punctuation, word choice and visual cues to convey a message, video has the ability to appeal both visually and auditorily. Although adding sound and movement may seem like a minor shift, according to Medium, an average viewer is able to remember 95% of a message when it is watched, whereas only 10% when read. This huge margin of retention rate plays a significant role in this shift to video, but it isn’t the only reason.
According to a study shared on Wyzowl, the average attention span of an individual has significantly dropped. What was once 15 seconds has now dwindled down to a measly 8.25. Dwindling attention spans have been recognized already by ad agencies across the world causing 77% of them to view video ads as an essential business moving forward into this digital era. As new technologies emerge, the more options advertisers will have when it comes to video advertising.
How can I apply this?
Video campaigns aren’t going anywhere, so how can you effectively apply them to your business? There are many platforms where video campaigns can be utilized, but this list highlights the best of the best and goes over ways to truly optimize both your campaign and your viewer’s experience.
With 2.3 billion users per month and $19.7 billion in revenue in 2020, according to BusinessOfApps, Youtube is the front runner of this evolving marketing tactic. Both creating original content for YouTube and running video advertisements are effective ways to expand your consumer reach and brand awareness via video campaigns.
A. Original Content – Creating original content is already a difficult enough task for most, however, properly optimizing your content is another beast. Detailed below is a list of tactics you can use to take full advantage of what YouTube has to offer in regard to future video campaigns.
a. Promote Interaction – At the end of each video invoke the viewer to do something. A simple “Click here to learn more” hyperlink can do the trick and, depending on your goal, can be adapted to virtually anything. Notifications, such as cards, should also be used throughout the video to promote interaction as
well as hold viewers’ attention.
b. Visuals, Visuals, Visuals – One of the key components to optimizing your YouTube
videos is to have an eye-catching thumbnail. According to a study done by BestSeoCompanies, “88% of thumbnails
c. Promote Subscriptions – Obviously the more subscribers you obtain the better, so simply reminding viewers at the end of your videos to subscribe, and supplying a hyperlink to do so, creates the opportunity to increase your following.
d. Partner Up – Collaboration promotes a synergistic outcome for both parties and allows new horizons to be introduced via new viewers. Partnering with companies or individuals with similar personalities and audiences leads to the best outcomes for both parties.
B. Advertisements – YouTube offers a wide selection of ads for advertisers to choose from. Each ad choice depends on the budget and goal of the advertisement so it’s important to consider how you want to reach and impact viewers.
in 2020 were colorful and averaged more views than thumbnails with a more
minimalist color scheme.”
a. Skippable In-Stream Ads (TrueView Ads) – Because they can be skipped, it’s critical these ads grab and hold the viewer’s attention while still informing them about your product or service. These ads can vary in length from as short as 12 seconds to as long as 3 minutes. Payment for the ad only occurs if the viewer interacts with it or watches more than 30 seconds of it.
b. Un-skippable In-Stream Ads (Pre-Roll Ads) – Up to 15 seconds long, these advertisements offer a great way to quickly promote a brand. A call to action is important in order to generate more leads to a website. Bumper ads are another form of un-skippable in-stream ads that are six seconds long and could leave viewers interested in learning more.
c. Video Ad Sequencing – This more extensive type of ad allows advertisers to tell a story through a series of videos strung throughout one or multiple YouTube videos. This type of storytelling often leads to more engagement from the viewer. According to AdPresso, this type of advertisement has been shown to produce a 107% higher ad recall and a 134% higher purchase intent when compared to the other types of ads.
d. Youtube Ad Extensions – Ad extensions offer a call to action, usually in the form of a “Learn More” banner alongside a video ad. By implementing this, you offer a simple way for the viewer to learn more about your product or service. This type of ad generally leads to more interaction from viewers due to its simplicity.
analyzed from the most popular videosDespite its relatively new conception, TikTok has become one of the most regularly used and visited social networks of this generation. With over 1 billion active users per month, according to WallroomMedia, TikTok is also one of the fastest-growing social channels this decade. Brands on TikTok can easily blend in with every other creator on the app which, in turn, helps with brand exposure. Videos highlighting important elements of an organization’s product/service while remaining consistent with trends on TikTok are the most effective in creating exposure.
Similar to that of TikTok, Instagram Reels can be used to create a variety of content strategies. By properly applying Instagram Reels, a brand has the ability to diversify its Instagram posts, leading to not only more impressions, but new ones, expanding brand awareness. IG Reels can be used as a “bridge” to your Instagram profile, ultimately leading a potential consumer to your homepage.
With a video length limit of 2 minutes and 20 seconds and a daily user base of 166 million, according to Hootsuite, the proper application of Twitter’s video capability has the potential to greatly increase brand awareness. Twitter’s latest update also included the addition of “Fleets.” Similar to that of both TikTok and Instagram Reels, Fleets allows the user to post short videos that are then placed at the top of your follower’s feed. This addition can be used to highlight important dates, upcoming releases or sneak peeks in regards to your brand.
By: Derek Caswell
Over the past few years many of the normalacies in life have changed. Masks, for example, are now a normal fashion accessory, and having temperatures being taken as we enter buildings is now a part of our morning routines. However, there is one thing that has been significantly impacted due to the COVID outbreak, and that is where we do our work.
Many people across the world have had their daily lives changed. In many cases, the commute to work or school is now a simple walk to the kitchen to start our morning coffee! People have been working from home for about a year and half now and, from what I’ve seen online, have enjoyed the change.
However, work routines are starting to go back to what they were before. Thankfully, through vaccinations and the hard work being done in the medical field we seem to be moving back to the “normal” lifestyle.
People online are expressing their dislike of having to go back to working in an office. Many of them seem to really enjoy working remotely and having the luxury of not having to be in an office. Many Gen Z/Millennials who entered the workforce are making jokes about finding a new job after receiving the email about returning to the office. According to bloomberg.com, when surveying around 1,000 adults nearly 40% of them said they would consider resigning if they’re supervisors weren’t flexible about working remotely. When concentrating those results to include just Gen Z/Millennials, the number jumps to nearly 50%.
As someone who has gotten used to doing a lot of work from home, I definitely understand the struggle. There’s just something special about waking up ten minutes before a meeting and logging in while sipping your morning coffee on your couch. At first, it did feel a little weird to be inside one building all day instead of going to school/meeting in person. Sometimes I wonder why we even had to go in person in the first place. Need to have a group meeting? Great, let’s all hop on a call in 10 minutes and discuss everything. You can stay in your pajamas while watching the newest episode of “Love Island” from last night.
Now, I have to wake up earlier, think about an outfit, and make sure I have enough time to get to my destination. This all sounds ridiculous right? Who knew it would take a pandemic to make people appreciate the small things in life. But, eventually routines will return to normal again and we will have to go back to working in person full time. I’m curious as to how this time will affect “office” culture with what is or isn’t allowed. With graduation in just a couple of months, I’m excited to enter a world that is somewhere in between. It will make the first couple of years interesting to say the least.
By: Diana Eads
There are many reasons why a public relations career might appeal to adult learners. Some people may wonder what an adult learner is. An adult learner describes anyone who is not a student in the traditional sense. It could be someone who has decided to go back to school after being out for several years because they want to finally finish it up and earn a college degree. It could also be someone who has an opportunity to get a promotion at work, but first they must learn some new skills. There are many reasons why people decide to go back to school. Becoming an adult learner can be challenging at times, but it also has many advantages. By going back to school after you have had some time to experience life, you will likely have an advantage over younger students because you will have gained real world experience. You have held jobs and had to meet deadlines. You know what it’s like to have to properly manage your time in order to get many things done. You will have developed a level of maturity that will help you to be able to handle yourself in most situations. All of the things you have learned during your adulthood can help you out immensely in college.
Public relations is a very hard field to succeed in but once you do, you will have achieved a lot. To be a great PR professional, you need to possess a strong variety of skills. If you are new to studying PR, it definitely helps if you have already achieved some of these skills. This is why an adult learner is a great candidate for studying and excelling in public relations. Below is a list of some of the skills needed to excel in public relations as well as some of the reasons why this career might appeal to adult learners.
You must have very strong communication skills in order to be a great PR professional. This includes verbal and logical thinking, public speaking, and written communications skills. Most adult learners will probably have experience with some or all of these communication skills already because they can be developed over time by working at many different jobs. Having all of this communication experience can be an advantage to adult learners if they are interested in a public relations career.
In the public relations profession, you must be familiar with all types of social media and have the skills to know how to use them. According to a study done by Regis College, nearly 70% of all U.S. adults have at least one social media account and the average American user has seven. This proves that most adults are very familiar with how to use social media, so this is a plus for them if they were to choose a public relations career.
Time Management & Multitasking
As a PR professional, you must be able to juggle multiple clients or projects at the same time, so you must be good at multitasking. Most adults have had jobs that have deadlines and that require them to do many things at once. Lots of adults also have to drive their children to and from various events in addition to their jobs, which has helped them learn to manage their time well. These various job and life experiences that they have had will benefit them in a public relations career.
Relationship Building Skills
The ability to build relationships is definitely one of the most important skills needed to be a great public relations specialist. It will help you build up your professional network by possessing this skill. Adult learners will have already created many contacts throughout their lives and careers which is a very good thing. This could give them a head start above other entry level public relations professionals.
As you can see, all of the various job experiences that an adult learner has had and all the life lessons they have learned could help them immensely on the path to becoming a very successful public relations professional. You can study this profession online which makes it very nice because it can allow you to continue to work as you are learning. The nature of this industry is always changing, and when it does, it evens the playing field in terms of experience. Lastly, if a working professional gains expertise specific to an industry, that expertise can almost always be applied in a PR setting in that same industry. Your knowledge in that industry doesn’t become irrelevant if you do PR in that industry. These are the reasons why I believe PR might appeal to adult learners.
By: Senior, April Wood
As I approached and finally entered the last year of my undergraduate degree, one question became an uncomfortably looming presence – What do I want to do with my life (and my degree)?
The truth is – I’m still looking. But I’d love to share my thought process so far.
In figuring this out, I decided to approach it with the wisdom I have gained from the UCM PR Program and its professors. I formed a rough vision of my ideal life. I took note of the values and morals I held. I also focused on what made me happy.
I asked myself questions; What do I enjoy doing? Where do I enjoy being? Who do I want to spend my time with? What do I want my work life balance to be like? What job will challenge my knowledge and experience with all of my favorite skills?
The answer is: I’m only 22.
If my life is in the form of the ROPE process, I’m still in the research phase. I’m in the bulk of that work now, and in one of the busiest times of life.
I’m reaching the verge of the objectives phase.
Values that solidified during the research and analysis stage will be present throughout the entire rest of the process.
Below is just a little more insight into my journey specifically and how I applied my skills gained during my undergraduate years in planning my future.
I enjoy embracing a challenge, but I love embracing one of my own creation.
Having control over my schedule is also a must I flagged. I need the flexibility due for several reasons. I enjoy learning, planning, and analyzing.
More and more, It seemed like starting a small business could be a solid goal for me. I’ve decided to tentatively embrace the idea – pending A LOT of time and work.
I’ve begun researching flipping houses as one potential small business idea. It’s a business concept that has always fascinated me. I enjoy creating and designing, I’m not afraid to pick up a tool, and I have a wealth of business, finance, and strategic communications knowledge.
I have experts and mentors to support me, a network of connections I have spent my young adult life cultivating, and I will soon have a Public Relations and Strategic Communications degree with a minor in Finance. I have a solid foundation of knowledge of how a business runs, how to make financing decisions, how to communicate to an audience, and how to develop a brand.
This plan is obviously going to take years of learning and saving.
What am I doing now to progress towards my goal?
Right now, I’m working to further develop my skills and gain as much knowledge and experience I can. I believe in life-long learning, which makes me versatile and driven. After graduation, I’ll aim to find a job opportunity to continue learning while saving money.
Ultimately, I just want to have a happy and secure life. If I can do it by running my own business, great, if I fail – it’s not a waste. Part of being a lifelong learner is never failing to learn something from a success or mistake.
So, this is what I HOPE to do with my degree – at some point, and maybe not forever. I’m just eager to see what life has to offer.
By: Sebastian Szczurowski
When I look back at my time at the University of Central Missouri I can’t help but to think about how fast it all went by. It seems like it was just yesterday that I made my first official visit to the university for my scheduled orientation day. When I first made the decision to major in public relations I really didn’t know what to expect from it or what I would gain from it in the future. Ever since I first decided to pursue a college education I knew that I was either going to major in some business or marketing-related field because those two industries always piqued my interest.
When I completed my two-year tenure in community college and was looking to transfer to a four -year university I received an email from UCM’s Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies advertising the public relations program. When I saw it I didn’t think much of it because my sights were set on becoming a marketing major and I had no prior interest in pursuing a degree in public relations. But, I decided to look more into it just out of pure curiosity. That’s when I discovered that the Harmon College was one of the most highly accredited business colleges in Missouri and I read nothing but good reviews about it from previous students who graduated from the college. That is when I decided to delve deeper into it and reach out to one of the public relations program’s leading professors.
After exchanging a series of emails with them I wanted to travel to the university to do a campus tour and meet some of the public relations professors in person. After completing my general campus visit I met up with one of the heads of the public relations department and had a very productive conversation with them about what to expect from the program and the types of courses they offer for the major. Many of the classes sounded very interesting to me and I knew from that day on that I was fully committed to the public relations program.
Throughout my time as a student in this program I was able to learn the ins and outs of the public relations industry and was fortunate enough to have been taught by some of the most passionate and driven professors. I had the opportunity to learn many useful skills such as the proper ways to gather and conduct research and how to write strategic public relations plans in a professional manner. I was grateful to have had such supportive professors to help guide me through the program at my own pace and provide me with the necessary tools needed for me to succeed.
With graduation fast approaching, I reminisce about all the knowledge I was able to gain about the industry and the amazing people with whom I had the opportunity to network.. Now, as I look ahead and begin applying for jobs after graduation, I feel more confident in myself and my abilities as a professional because of all the great mentors I encountered at UCM on my educational path. Majoring in public relations has allowed me to gain extensive knowledge and skill sets in communication, technical writing, organization, strategic writing and much more. I can now confidently say that I’m ready to take on whatever career comes my way and use the skills that I attained in a real-world setting.
By: Emily Schaper
Being a Part of the Table
We’ve all been part of a conversation where we have no idea what is being talked about. It sets you apart from others and can become difficult to get to know more people. When it comes to global issues, reading the news or checking the media every day can set yourself a spot at the table. Plus, if you know about what’s going on in the world, you can start up a conversation about almost anything.
How to Get Started
There are so many amazing websites that will send the news to your email every morning. It doesn’t take any time at all to be up to date with what’s happening around you. All you do is enter in your address and the top stories for each day will be sent straight to you. Some beneficial websites include:
Why It’s Important
The news is important for a number of reasons within society. Not only does it inform the public about events, but it connects everyone together. Plus, if you’re interested in Public Relations, the news should already be of importance to you. Continuing on, the media can be broken down locally, nationally, and internationally.
- Local: News from a local area helps advise people about activities that may have an impact on the community. Decisions can be determined and people can be brought together
- National: When news becomes more of interest, it will have a broader perspective. This can become tricky because of the differing time zones. However, it can be of value to know the situations of other cities and towns
- International: When it comes to the global economy, news from other countries becomes vastly important. It gives us a sense of other perspectives and lifestyles/cultural differences
As a Public Relations major, my professors would always tell the class, you never want to be the last to know about anything. If you’re not up to date about what’s happening around you, you probably need to find a new job or area of interest. If you ever want to lock in a seat at the C-Suite Table, you’ll need to define your role, show your ability to think strategically, elevate your game, and act like you belong there. All of these can be achieved by reading the news every single day and knowing what’s happening around you.
By: Elizabeth Ewell
Mental Health Issues have become one of the leading common deaths in America. Mental health is often a topic that is shunned or embarrassing to discuss. Some take mental health issues as a joke, and some are not afraid to speak out about the issue. Still, there are more who pay no attention to mental health and do not take it as serious as it should be. The respect level for those who are aware that they have a mental health issue is also low.
I myself have struggled with my mental health this semester, which is not something I would have been comfortable sharing a year or so ago. I often overwork myself and am, frankly, hard on myself. I am a go-getter, independent, and a perfectionist. I have worked my way through college all four years, and at one point worked three jobs to sustain and reach goals I had set for myself. I was involved in a lot of activities on campus and often spread myself too thin. I felt as though that if I said no, I was hindering myself or missing out on great opportunities, when the truth was I did more than enough with what I could handle throughout my last four years. I was blessed with opportunities of a lifetime, held high positions in organizations, and made lifetime connections with professionals and peers through the work I did on campus.
However, I spread myself too thin again this semester, and have honestly found myself struggling to keep up with schoolwork and my actual job. Personal issues have also caused tremendous stress on me, and I felt super overwhelmed. I got to a point where I needed a break, or I was going to have a mental breakdown. I had not focused on myself and had not been properly taking care of my mental wellbeing. I was mentally and physically exhausted.
Public Relations was listed as the sixth most stressful career in America according to Career Cast.
In a recent article written by Paul Sutton, Five Solutions to Stress, Anxiety & Depression, in Public Relations 60% of PR professionals say they are ‘stressed’ or ‘very stressed’ at work.
‘Thirty percent (30%) of public relations professionals have also expressed that they are somewhat happy at work or not happy at work.’ (CareerCast)
Why are so many unhappy in public relations?
Glean info details that PR professionals are stressed because of “tight deadlines, unreasonable clients, a constantly changing media landscape, confrontational reporters and a cynical public. The challenge of proving the benefits of PR to clients and corporate managers can also cause anxiety.”
Many also expect public relations to give an exact result, like advertising, which is not the case. The misunderstanding of public relations causes a lot of conflicts which causes stress.
Public relations courses require a lot of critical thinking, focus, time, and research, to plan and execute work, just like a PR professional job. If you do not follow these strategies to meet deadlines, you will not be successful in PR. Due to my mental health suffering, I was not doing any of those things, causing me to fall behind badly on my work. Had I not been honest with my professor, it could have hindered my entire semester.
How can we solve these issues?
What if I had not spoken up? I would have had many missed assignments in the grade book, a failing grade, or worse I would have failed the course which would’ve hindered me from graduating in the fall. The first step is acceptance with ourselves and acknowledge that you may be suffering from some sort of mental issue.
Next, talk to your employer about your health, and be open and honest. Your employer cannot fire you for expressing the stress you may have due to the job, or because you may not be mentally healthy at the moment. You should express concern if you receive judgment on your mental state of mind. Your well-being is not humorous and should be important to your employer. Telling your truth to your employer will help you in the end.
Ask for Help
Seek help from a professional. Sometimes your job might even compensate you for your visit. Professionals could teach you how to cope with working under pressure and minimizing stress for yourself with your job. In the field of public relations, no day is the same and you often are thrown curveballs; knowing how to deal with stress is important to be happy in this career.
Be Honest and Don’t be Afraid to Take Breaks
Again, be honest about your health, speak about your issues and take a break or vacation from work, if in dire need. Taking breaks can bring peace to your life and help you think clearly. Many jobs will allow you to take a temporary leave of absence for a certain period of time. This break can give you the peace of mind you need to get back in action and start “killing it” in your career.
Normalize Mental Health in the Workplace
Employers should make sure mental health is an important topic to discuss openly with their employees.
Today many employers bring in professionals on mental health and host workshops on the issue. Knowing your organization cares about the mental wellbeing of their staff can make it more comfortable for an employee to discuss their health to their employer. If your organization does not openly discuss mental health, maybe suggest some of the ideas above to create awareness of the issue in your workplace.
Be okay with saying no to additional tasks because of stress. If you cannot handle additional work, it’s better to not do the work than to do work wrong or not of good quality. Instead, ask for smaller roles until you feel stable enough to handle your regular full workload.
Public Relations is a demanding, but exhilarating job, so making sure you take care of your mental health is a major priority to be successful in this career. Do not be afraid to use your voice, because your health matters!
By: Maxlyn Wilbanks
When you first think of public relations, what do you think of? When I began my degree, I thought of all the negative aspects of PR and wasn’t sure it was the right choice for me. However, as I am about to graduate from UCM, I have realized how much my perspective on PR has changed. I now see the profession in a much more positive light and see how perfect this major was for me.
Want to know the reason I love PR so much? Well, I’d love to tell you: PEOPLE! I have met some of the nicest, most genuine people through my experiences in my PR program. Let me tell you about some of my favorites-
I recently interviewed sisters who are 98-years-old and 103-years-old during my internship with Western Missouri Medical Center. The older sister remembers the Spanish flu epidemic and told me about some of her experiences during her prime in the 1930s and ‘40s. I got to take photographs of them while they received their COVID-19 vaccinations and each one took it like a champ! Click here to read the full story!
Helen (left) and Sammy (right) receiving the COVID-19 vaccine!
During my internship with the GenWhy Leaders Podcast, I had the opportunity to speak with several successful entrepreneurs. One of my favorites was a woman who decided to start a jewelry business after creating a pair of earrings to match an outfit. Now, her business is one of the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies. Click here if you’d like to watch the full episode!
I have also enjoyed the people I’ve met while working for IPR. One of my clients created his own podcast and interviewed with the Director, Multicultural PR and Engagement at McDonald’s USA. I never thought I would have a connection with someone with such an impressive position at such a huge corporation. Click here to watch the full video on YouTube to hear about her great experiences.
I am also a member and was on the board of PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America). Through PRSSA, I met someone who worked as the Public Relations and Social Media Director at Hallmark. He now does freelance work and owns his own communications company.
Through all these great connections I have had the opportunity to apply to several jobs in preparation for graduation. I’ve been told, “resumes don’t get you jobs, connections do”. This is a statement I totally agree with and I’m lucky to have picked a degree that has allowed me to connect with so many great, successful people.
Meeting people is one of the greatest pleasures I have had while pursuing my degree. I am so glad to have been able to learn from so many great entrepreneurs and hard workers who taught me valuable skills and life lessons.
So if you are ever curious about what public relations truly is, it’s meeting amazing people and making great connections.
By: Faith Ford
TikTok, is a massively popular app that lets users create and share videos up to 60 seconds long. At least that’s the Dictionary.com definition of the content creation app that started to gain social media users’ attention around 2018. So how did TikTok get to where it is today? And what does it mean for the future of social media, especially in the public relations, marketing and advertising industries?
TikTok, described as one of the fastest-growing social media platforms of 2020 – and all time, began as an app that most people had recognized as Musical.y after an acquisition in 2017 by a Chinese company called ByteDance. Due to this merger of brands, the app specialized in dancing clips which led to viral trends of dance-offs, lip syncs, and extensive use of hashtag challenges. The app today has grown into a hotspot for influencer marketing and as a medium for brands to use when sharing their messaging. In just four years, the social media site has reached 150 countries, has 2 billion downloads, and 1 billion active monthly users. All this activity puts TikTok ahead of business favorites like Facebook and Instagram.
While TikTok has shown its tremendous growth and strengths within its use as a marketing and communications hub for businesses, the app has faced crises that have jeopardized usage rates in the business world. The biggest issue facing the platform is privacy.
Concerns about privacy have been under the lens of the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission and were even highlighted in a late summer move toward a possible nationwide ban on the social networking site, and other actions by individual businesses.
In a July NBC news article, reporter Kevin Collier states that, “The bank Wells Fargo told its workers to delete the app. Amazon ramped up the scrutiny of TikTok on Friday after a leaked internal email said company employees needed to remove the app from their phones. Amazon later clarified that no such edict had actually been issued.”
It seems hard to imagine that employee internal conflict with this app would reflect positively on the company, when the company starts to use it for its own purposes, as employees are a primary public to keep in mind.
However, the hesitations to use the app for public external messaging also becomes easier to understand. Why would a business invest in positions to research, analyze and create when there’s a possibility of the app being removed from your consumers?
With regard to these concerns, it seems that TikTok has outgrown its “he who cannot be trusted” description, as more and more businesses join the viral experience.
Considerations for Businesses
Of course, businesses shouldn’t just join in on the site just for the numbers and its popularity. There has to be some reason for their use or else the messaging seems forced, is lost, and won’t reach their intended audience. This is where PR comes in. Remember: “What or how you do something is not as important as the WHY.”
So what does this mean for companies wanting to use TikTok as a social media platform?
Do your research. Know who your audience is and what they are looking for. If you are a Senior Living facility, for example, trying to reach 65-year-olds, TikTok is probably not the place to reach your primary audience.
Be engaging. The whole point of social networking sites is to connect you with people. The ability to engage with your audience will give you a better idea of who they are, what they are looking for, and their personality. The extra effort of responding to comments, “dueting” challenges that have helped your brand, and being conversational with influencers is valuable for your brand on the platform.
Be aware. Look for opportunities that seem organic and authentic for your company. Is there a trend that fits your new launch? Act on it! TikTok trends move quickly, so being aware of the app’s climate is important to being up-to-date and creating new and unique ideas.
Other Emerging Social Sites
TikTok grew – fast. It was important for businesses to be aware of its presence, even if they were choosing not to be as active on the platform as their employees. While there still may be reservations about the site, here are some social media sites that public relations, advertising, and marketing professionals should keep their eyes on:
Social media, including TikTok, can be a powerful tool for businesses wanting to reach their audience. However, if you are considering including it in your communication strategy, don’t forget to do your research, and most importantly, don’t forget to answer the “Why?” if you want to maximize its effectiveness.