Tagged: crisis communication

The Importance of Hello

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?

Lights, Camera, Action: Video Conversions in 2021

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.

YouTube
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.

TikTok
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.

Instagram Reels
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.

Twitter
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.

Starbucks Gets Roasted

by Nikki McClaran

If you got your iced caramel macchiato at Starbucks last week, you probably found “Race Together” written on your cup. No, this was not a challenge to initiate a store-wide coffee drinking competition, but Starbucks’ attempt at a social awareness campaign about racial inequality.

The idea: Initiate conversation about diversity through your cup of Joe.
The outcome: Serious backlash, a shut-down Twitter account, and the halt of the campaign the week of its launch.

This was not Starbucks first dive into social issues, the Starbucks Foundation being a large part of the global corporation. So, how did this campaign manage to fail so miserably, even with such good intentions? Looking from a purely PR perspective, Starbucks’ committed two missteps that really burnt the beans.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Racial inequality has been a serious topic in the news this past year with headlines from the Ferguson, Mo. crisis and Eric Garner’s death. Unlike Starbuck’s past campaigns that addressed AIDS and jobs in America, this social issue stands out in that it is at a peak of tension with two distinct sides. Making customers believe that Starbucks was truly invested in the issue rather than being financially opportunistic required thorough planning- something Starbucks failed to do.

Planning comes at all levels, and not only did the corporate executives not know how to handle the situation (spoiler: that’s next), the baristas didn’t either. Videos of baristas being unaware of the program or not wanting to discuss it began popping up all over the web.

Starbucks, I get that you’re a big company and it’s hard to get everyone on the same page, but with such a heated topic, better preparing the ones who are primarily responsible for executing the campaign might be a good idea, especially since you were just accused of creating gentrification. It could prevent you coming off as a money-hungry corporation, seeking to capitalize on sensitive issues.

Brew up a crisis plan, and actually follow it.

Social media is like coffee. It has the ability to brighten your day and energize all of your efforts, but it also has the capability to give you really bad breathe before that 8 a.m. meeting. As an active social media beast, you would think that Starbucks is prepared for the negative consequences social media can bring, but that didn’t seem to happen. Almost immediately after its launch last Sunday, Starbucks began receiving serious Twitter backlash.

I’m assuming (and hoping) that Starbucks had a crisis plan established, yet rather than follow it, they responded the worst way you probably could- they didn’t. Corey duBrowa, Starbucks’ senior vice president of communications, fueled the fire by supposedly blocking Twitter accounts that responded negatively to Race Together and deactivating his own account. Bad move, duBrowa.

And now Starbucks’ chairman and CEO, Howard Shultz, is defending that the halting of the campaign as planned and intended. I hope this is true, rather than a last-minute attempt to justify the company’s actions.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to visit Starbucks for my soy, no foam latte. Honestly, Starbucks has done a great job with social media engagement and humanitarian events in the past. This just wasn’t Starbucks’ cup of tea and from it we can see the value in proper campaign planning and crisis management. Want to espresso your thoughts? Comment below.

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Facebook and Apple Offer Paid Procedure Intending to Empower Women

by Jordan Rafferty

Facebook and Apple are two leading competitors in their industries, always staying one step ahead of the game. Apple recently released a new iPhone and iPad, while Facebook has surpassed 1.35 billion active users. Both share a competitive nature, so it’s no surprise when they both make the same announcement, creating quite a stir.

Both companies announced a new employee “benefit” for women. They offer female employees $20,000 to cover the cost of two rounds of freezing their eggs. Apple released a statement saying, “We want to empower women at Apple to do the best work of their lives as they care for loved ones and raise their families.”

My first reaction to these announcements was a positive one. I commend them for being ahead of the game (or so I initially thought. A few other companies offer similar benefits). Women are now having children much later in life because they want to focus on their careers or finding the right partner. Facebook and Apple noticed this trend. Yet, 43 percent of women leave their careers because they have children (according to theatlantic.com). By offering to pay for the delay of children in a female employees life, they are able to keep their staff longer, and it’s enabling women to rise up to higher positions because they stay with the company for longer periods of time.

Social media reaction

So, I am really excited about this announcement, and then I get on Twitter, Facebook and Google News. Some people do not like this one bit. There has been far more backlash than either company anticipated. Here are a couple tweets I saw on my feed:

People are concerned that Apple and Facebook have the ulterior motive of forcing women to put the company first and a family last. This is a concern that could address by communicating to their publics on the issue. Some are also concerned with the health risks of the procedure itself.

I went from excited to sad for Apple and Facebook in a matter of minutes. In my heart I believe the companies are trying to do the right thing, but I can’t help but think that they should have done the research to anticipate the negative reaction. Remember the first step of the RACE model? Research, Research, Research. You never know what you will come across. The smallest detail could make or break you.

I read a number of the articles on Google News and,according to alternet.org, hyperstimulation of the ovaries (the freezing process) uses what some see as an aggressive and potentially dangerous hormone therapy that uses non-FDA regulated drugs. Those opposed believe a number of things can go wrong with this process, like punctured ovaries or organs, abdominal bleeding and other complications. Bloggers and Twitter users alike are concerned with the risks to the procedure and are questioning why Facebook and Apple even agreed to offer such a thing to their employees. Some feel that by offering to pay for this the companies are basically saying that families are not important.

Communicate with your publics

I searched to see if Apple or Facebook ever responded to the negative reactions, but so far I haven’t found a thing. The fact that I haven’t seen a response concerns me. Sure, there are other things going on with the companies, but they should be communicating with their audiences. As a PR specialist I would suggest responding early. Tweet back to those concerned and reassure their audiences that they do, in fact, care about families. They are just offering to pay for the procedure, and not every female employee has to do. Like Apple said in their statement when they made the announcement, they are empowering women. There are women who want to hold off on having children, and Apple and Facebook are making that possible.

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American Airlines manages potential crisis

By Elissa Huck

Public relations professionals wear many hats and must be able to multi-task in order to fulfill several duties; they maintain media relations, internal and external communications and marketing functions. One significant responsibility of today’s PR professionals is crisis communications. A crisis is a major occurrence that could negatively impact a company. Any company in any industry can face a crisis and this week, American Airlines had to deal with an unexpected turn of events on Twitter.

American-Airlines-terrorism-tweet-jpg-1

A possible terrorist threat

Sunday, April 13, a 14-year-old girl with the Twitter username @QueenDemetriax and named “Sarah” tweeted at American Airlines, “hello my name’s Ibrahim and I’m from Afghanistan. I’m part of Al Qaida and on June 1st I’m gonna do something really big bye.” American Airlines responded, “Sarah, we take these threats very seriously. Your IP address and details will be forwarded to security and the FBI.” Feeling threatened, Sarah posted a frenzy of sporadic tweets expressing it was a prank and pleading for the company not to take legal action.

Her “social media meltdown” portrayed both her fear of getting in trouble along with insincere and questionable updates about her growing number of followers and more. American Airlines removed its response, and Sarah’s Twitter account was suspended, but not before garnering nationwide attention. “We took it down basically because it generated a lot of traffic,” American spokeswoman Dori Alvarez told the New York Daily News. “We took it down so we could better focus on our customers.”

Twitter backlash

The next day, Sarah turned herself in to the police in the Netherlands. She is being interrogated, and the exact intention behind her prank threat is being investigated. Many who witnessed the intense Twitter exchange believe that American Airlines was too harsh on the young girl, and others believe that she rightfully deserves her punishment. The public has taken to Twitter to fervently defend and condemn Sarah’s actions.

Evaluating the threat as a developing crisis

I learned in my strategic crisis communications class that crises have five stages: detection, prevention/preparation, containment, recovery and learning. Examining the situation from a crisis perspective, American Airlines detected the threat as a prodrome, or warning sign, to a potential terrorist attack and worked to prevent the crisis by responding in a firm, deliberate manner.

The company made efforts to contain and recover from the developing crisis by deleting the Twitter responses to stop people from encouraging the behavior so the posts would not get out of control. American Airlines can learn from the situation by evaluating the positive and negative outcomes in order to be prepared for a similar occurrence in the future. Whether or not the terrorist threat was real, the company took immediate necessary action in order to keep its customers out of harm’s way.

As an aspiring PR professional, how would you handle this situation? Give us your feedback, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Photo courtesy of: http://www.PRdaily.com

A minor crisis turns out to be great publicity

by Sadie Hicks

Jeep TwitterOn Monday Burger King’s official twitter site was hacked. The hackers played a terrible joke on the company by changing the avatar to the signature golden arches logo and the background to a McFish Bites promotional ad. The hackers also changed the profile description by saying McDonalds now owns the Burger King franchise.

Burger King received criticism for the slew of offensive messages that went out under Burger King’s account name. One wouldn’t think things could get much worse for a company that just got busted for using horse meat in their burgers two weeks prior.

Surprisingly, this PR fiasco was not all bad for Burger King. Its Twitter followers grew by 5,000 within the first 30 minutes of the account being hacked. Only two days after the Twitter hijack the page received a whopping 30,000 new followers. Not to mention, this scandal conveniently outshines the whole horse meat issue.

On Tuesday, Jeep’s official twitter account was also hijacked by the same Burger King hackers. The adjustments to their page were similar to the Burger King/ McDonalds edits. Jeep’s Twitter followers also increased by nearly 5,000 from the hacking crisis.

It was important for both Burger King and Jeep to quickly recover the accounts and manage the hacking crisis before it got out of hand. If either company were to let this get out of control the impact could have been much more negative from the public… especially with the offensive images and messages being tweeted. Letting the hijacking last too long could have caused backlash towards Burger King and Jeep for being negligent and insensitive to potential consumers.

After both companies regained control of their accounts, they seem to be in good spirits. And why shouldn’t they be? What could have been a PR disaster turned into an increase in followers and not too much flak from the media about the offensive tweets. MTV attempted to fake hack its Twitter account in hopes to gain some of the same publicity that Jeep and Burger King received. They have gotten a lot of backlash for the attempt. That is why it is never a good idea to create your own PR stunt.