by Nikki McClaran
The responsibilities for a public relations professional are endless and diverse, and with over 600 million websites, finding the right tools and resources to help with your workload can be more stressful than what it’s worth. Which website is best for finding the trending current news? Where do I go to manage social media? The possibilities are endless, and honestly, just overwhelming. Luckily for you, I have scoured the vast internet and found the sites that are currently the cream of the crop and will blow your mind in how they will help you as a PR professional.
Social Media: Buffer
Buffer is a free social media managing site, similar to Hootsuite and TweetDeck. Connecting Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, Buffer’s biggest strength is its scheduling flexibility specifically with its option to stagger posts. Want to post every Monday and Friday at 3 p.m.? Buffer’s user-friendly layout allows you to easily do so. An added convenience, Buffer will automatically shorten any link you insert to a bitly. Recently partnering with Google to upgrade its analytics, Buffer is a site to explore with its rising popularity as a social media tool.
News Sources: theSkimm
As a PR professional, keeping up with current news and trends is a necessity rather than a luxury, but some days, even scanning the local newspaper can seem like too much of a time burden. Fortunately, theSkimm, an informative and humorous daily email, is there to catch you up on what you need to know. Don’t discount it for its feminine touches because each emails contains a variety of topics such as current news, finances, sports, international affairs and pop culture. It also links directly to the original news source links so you can explore the topic more if it catches your eye. Subscribe, you won’t regret it. Want even more news? Check out Pulse, Vox and TheMuse.
Most of us will probably never go specifically into graphic design, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create infographics that make you look like a graphic design expert. Piktochart is a free designing website that allows you to create infographics, reports, banners and presentations that will truly make you stand out. In as little as 10 minutes, you can give an image to any of your big ideas with its pre-programmed fonts, images and templates. Test it out, you may be surprised at what you can easily create to bring your presentation or pitch to the next level. Want to keep creating? Check out Canva and HaikuDeck.
Financial literacy will not only promote you as a desirable employee but may even be necessary for your work responsibilities. If you’re like me though, trying to learn about finances is confusing and frustrating. To help get a basic foundation of knowledge, I suggest exploring the Investopedia’s tutorial section. A product of IAC, these tutorials offer articles that describe the basics of investing, ranging from topics such as bonds, investing, mutual funds and stocks. Once you have the foundation, head over to The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg for daily updates and trends.
There you have it–some of my suggestions for useful websites in the PR world. Think I missed some? Make sure to comment on which ones you love and they might show up on the next Nik’s Picks.
by Jonathan Haile
This semester started with a question for Innovative PR: what is brand journalism? Just when we thought we had the answer, we scratched our heads and realized there was more to it. Ultimately, we concluded that brand journalists provide readers with different stories that cover different aspects of a brand. When readers piece these stories together, they have a general understanding of the brand’s image and values.
Our best example was Coca-Cola, which takes brand journalism to a new level with a site that looks similar to Mashable, but features all Coke-relevant content. While I’m a huge fan of what Coke is doing, I couldn’t help but think that “brand journalism” is just a fancy word for content marketing. So what’s the difference?
What is Content Marketing?
My commutes to and from Warrensburg are filled with the words of Joe Pulizzi, the author of Epic Content Marketing. Pulizzi is credited with coining the term. In his book, he explains that the content marketing, in the grand scheme of things, is about getting leads and driving sales. Business 2 Community, another great resource, agrees with Pulizzi and explains that content marketing involves a “customer” relationship:
“Content marketing goal: Influence audience behavior by publishing useful content that supports the customer journey, encourages loyalty and enables amplifications.”
When you start a content marketing campaign, Pulizzi suggests you begin with a “pilot,” which he compares to that of a new television series. The pilot is an example of what your readers should expect, and is accompanied by sales measurable objectives. With a successful content strategy, you will always understand why and how your content is driving the audience to make purchase decisions.
The two concepts have inherently different objectives, but are great compliments to each other and share similarities. Brand journalists and content marketers need to be strategic in their posts—knowing what is relevant to the reader and where the post will get the most exposure.
Both tools should function to strengthen the relationship between customers and brands, lower brands’ advertising costs, and be beneficial for brands’ internal audiences. They reinforce corporate values and keep employees updated with company happenings.
As a PR student, what is more appealing? Would you rather tell the unique corporate story as a brand journalist or drive sales and build leads as a content marketer? Let us know. “Follow” Innovative PR on Twitter and Instagram, and “like” us on Facebook.
by Chelsey Webber
The concept of brand journalism is quickly becoming a trend in the world of public relations and marketing. Some professionals even venture to say that brand journalists will soon be in high demand. With traditional forms of journalism in decline, media and PR professionals could soon find themselves recruited by companies in search of brand journalists. But the question remains: what’s brand journalism?
Brand journalism stems from the idea that companies wish to be seen as more than just sellers of products and ideas. They want to be champions of sustainable efforts, environmentally friendly causes and resources, humanitarian efforts and more. AdAge characterizes brand journalism as a “Modern Marketing Imperative” that focuses on developing a brand’s story by producing creative, customized content. This extends beyond writing news releases and conversing on social media. Brand journalists write relevant and newsworthy stories to help develop a company’s brand beyond its products and services.
Coca-Cola: Brand Journalism Experts
Coca-Cola illustrates the concept of brand journalism brilliantly. Its website is filled with articles that, strangely enough, have very little to do with Coke products. You can find information regarding programs that range from restoring local parks and playgrounds to providing clean water for villages in Africa.
The content found on its website is telling the story of Coca-Cola’s brand. It positions the company as more than just a distributor of soft drinks by humanizing it. Coca-Cola’s brand has established it as not only an industry leader of soft drinks, but also as a champion of community outreach and humanitarian relief. Coke isn’t simply a soft drink; it’s a soft drink with integrity.
My Two Cents (You’re welcome).
My research on brand journalism leads me to believe that, as a whole, the concept is quite simple. As a brand journalist, you are not speaking to the company’s interests. Rather, you are speaking to the interests of the consumers.
In this wonderfully cohesive marriage of journalism, storytelling and brand management, you will find timely, relevant and newsworthy stories, written by brand journalists on behalf of a company. The important thing to recognize about brand journalism is that you are not writing marketing or advertising copy. These are stories that consumers can relate to without feeling bombarded by the never-ending stream of traditional marketing and advertising.
by Evan Whittaker
For communication professionals, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on industry trends. It can help you get a feel for the current public relations climate and may give you new ideas for popular (or not so popular) ways to engage your audiences.
One growing trend is the use of social media takeovers, where an individual takes the reins of an organization’s social media page. Whether it’s Michael Jordan taking over the Charlotte Hornets’ Twitter account, CBS stars taking charge of their shows’ Instagram accounts or even students posting on behalf of their university, an increasing number of people are getting on the takeover bandwagon.
With so many examples of this practice taking place in recent months, you might ask, what makes them so popular? To answer that question, I’ve outlined a couple of reasons why the social media takeover has become such a popular choice for organizations.
Intrigue your followers and reach new ones
It’s no secret that engaging followers is key to the success of any social media page. Sometimes, though, it can be a challenge for an organization to find new followers to add to its roster. By allowing someone to take over your organization’s social media accounts, those who follow that person are also likely to follow your organization to keep up with its goings-on. What’s more, your current followers get a taste of something new and exciting when someone else posts on your behalf. This makes the takeover a great way to engage new followers and entertain those who already follow you.
A new, personal perspective
Another integral element of a successful social media page is providing new and interesting content. Since social media takeovers allow someone new to post for the organization, it’s a great way to break the mold and provide new content for followers. What’s more, takeovers often have a “see the world through their eyes” angle to them, which can seem more personal and relatable for followers. People like content that feels genuine and relatable, and the takeover provides an excellent way to bring that element into an organization’s social media.
With the growing popularity of the social media takeover, it’s a safe bet that we’ll be seeing more of them in the coming months. Be sure to keep an eye out for the trend and learn what you can from it. Who knows? Before long, it could be your organization handing off the reins.
by Maria Schomer
AMBER Alert is not a term most people like to hear, but a term we all know well. The AMBER Alert was created in 1996 when Dallas broadcasters partnered with local police to create a warning system that notified the public about missing children. Since its inception, the system has helped in the recoveries of 728 children, according to the AMBER Alert government page. Since we are in the digital age, it is only fitting for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and Facebook to collaborate and bring AMBER Alerts to mobile Facebook users.
You may already know that AMBER Alerts are sent to your phone automatically through a text message. Using Facebook to send the alerts allows users to see a photo of the child, along with a possible vehicle description and other important information. Facebook users are now able to share the posting with their friends–a better system than text messages, where we receive is only a few words. This gives people the visual aid that could help find more children in the future.
You won’t see the AMBER Alert unless it is in your area; sometimes you might not see one at all. It all depends on the targeted area for the alert.
Facebook versus Twitter
In 2014, an 11-year-old girl was abducted but was fortunately recovered when a motel clerk recognized the girl from a Facebook post seen on the clerk’s timeline. This story led the NCMEC to see more value in Facebook sharing than Twitter retweeting. According to Forbes, Facebook had nearly 1.3 billion active monthly users in 2014, compared to Twitter’s 271 million active monthly users. In general, people tend to use Facebook a lot more than Twitter, however, 86 percent of time is spent on Twitter’s mobile application, whereas 68 percent of time is spent on the Facebook application. Despite these statistics, the NCMEC found it fitting to have the AMBER Alerts on Facebook.
Considering the AMBER Alert system has worked for nearly 20 years, Facebook and the NCMEC have high hopes that this new system will help bring more children home to their families.
by Stephanie Harvey
During the holiday season an estimated 40 percent of shoppers use social media to plan out their shopping. Despite people being busier during the holidays, consumer interaction rates increase by about 46 percent on the most popular social media sites. Facebook is expected to be “the channel of choice” for the holidays, as 92 percent of marketers are planning extensive campaign efforts for the social media giant, alone. Instagram is also going to be a big tool during the holiday season; an estimated 73 percent of marketing professionals believe Instagram is going to be a breakout platform for this year’s holiday season.
The holidays are a great time for companies to connect with their publics on a more personal level. Audiences can relate to companies when they see pictures of Christmas trees, Christmas cards, or photos from holiday parties.
Use images often
No matter which social media platform a company uses, it is important to use images in posts. Research suggests this type of content can increase engagement; many times, leading to increased sales. Because of society’s love for visuals, it is strongly recommended that image-based content be used especially during the holidays.
By simply changing a cover photo to a holiday inspired photo, many companies see increased engagement. They might get even more involved with their audience by having have followers send in their holiday photos as participants in contests.
Create a contest or giveaway
Businesses also increase social media engagement during the holidays by implementing contests or giveaways. They also offer holiday special discounts or offers, for example, Applebee’s gift card deal. If a customer buys $50 or more in gift cards, they get a free $10 bonus card.
Companies might also offer free shipping for the holidays. Target is stepping up the retail competition this year, offering free standard shipping on every order until December 20. This not only gets shoppers to spend more money with Target, but it also gets them talking about the free shipping on social media. They may “like”, “share” or “retweet” content about the free shipping to followers and friends. Those friends may, in turn, “like” or “share” the post for all of their friends to see as well.
Bluefountainmedia.com suggests that it’s still important to make sure to use the 80/20 rule when it comes to posts. The 80/20 rule means that 80% of all posts should be interaction driven while 20% of posts should be about sales and offers.
The key to engaging publics during the holiday season is producing content that is holiday related and entertaining. The key for companies is to have audiences relate to them on a more personal level while producing content that gives them exclusive holiday deals.
By Jonathan Haile
It might trouble the Innovative PR specialists (at least one in particular, I can imagine) to know that I had never heard of Kate Spade New York until yesterday. After all, I have no use for or pay any attention to ladies handbags or jewelry. That said, I appreciate a good integrated campaign, and Kate Spade is on top of that.
Anna Kendrick and “The Waiting Game”
This year, Newcastle made a few waves online with its “not Super Bowl” commercial, featuring Pitch Perfect star Anna Kendrick. It appears Kendrick, quickly becoming the queen of integrated and online campaigns, is back in this Kate Spade’s holiday ad, “The Waiting Game.”
The short and clever video shows the misadventures of Kendrick as she returns home from the retailer and quickly realizes she doesn’t have her keys. Watch the insanity ensue.
Why is it integrated?
When you find yourself on Kate Spade’s Facebook and Twitter pages, the first thing you see is The Waiting Game. It’s what makes social media so beneficial. The two minute and 30 second short film can play in the digital space, whereas it couldn’t fit as a television advertisement. Low and behold, you’ll probably find a 30 second version of it hitting your TV set as we get closer to Christmas.
It’s also instantly shareable. If you wish, you can easily send it to a friend or two, or you can tweet about it, using the hashtag #missadventure. Any time you search for that hashtag, Anna Kendrick and Kate Spade’s Twitter accounts are suggested to you in the results.
There isn’t just The Waiting Game video. I admire brands that give us these short films, but also give us behind-the-scenes access. When you watch the video on Youtube, another Kate Spade/Kendrick video is featured to the right.
It’s just a hunch, but I’ll go out on a limb and say that newspapers and fashion magazines will probably have Kate Spade print ads feating the young actress. Kendrick continues to build her star power and brand, and she is easily recognizable.
What can we learn from this?
Of all the things I touched on above, the thing that sticks out to me the most is the hashtag #missadventure. While it’s cleverly derived from the word “misadventure,” it helps the reader understand that this is a comical story about a character before they watch the video.
Again, it’s easily shareable and designed to get the user to the Kate Spade social media pages. It allows all the people talking about the video to find each other, interact with each other and interact with the company. If you don’t believe me, check out this tweet:
As PR students and professionals, we often have to explain to friends that we’re not in marketing and advertising, but those three ideas are often interwoven in integrated campaigns. Kate Spade does this brilliantly. It doesn’t surprises me that this was AdWeek’s Ad of the Day.
by Stephanie Harvey
Grabbing bloggers’ attention and getting them to talk about your company is becoming more and more important. Even a simple mention by an influential blogger with a large following could lead to a great deal of exposure.
Bloggers have a lot to say. The bigger their following, the more this may be true. That is why in the next few points below you will be provided with four easy ways to get bloggers writing about your company.
Choose targeted bloggers
It’s important to choose specific and targeted bloggers who are interested in or already write about topics relating to your company and industry. You can better understand the blogger by going back and reading over their posts. This may take some time, but it’s worth it. Doing this will help your company gain a better understanding of the blogger. Make sure to understand the blogger’s specific audience. They’re the people you want to reach.
Get bloggers interested
You can get bloggers interested many ways. One of the most common ways is to send them products to test. If your company solely provides services you can invite them to a one-on-one meeting. The blogger might also be interested in attending a product launch party or other exclusive event to gain inside access. Simply meeting the blogger over lunch or coffee and discussing your company may even get them more interested.
Motivate them by building a relationship
Give the blogger further information about the specific product that you are wanting them to promote or talk about. Images and videos are always make great content worth sending. Don’t forget about the highly influential video bloggers on YouTube and other video services.
Make sure to not send the blogger too little or too much content. Give them ways to find content on their own if they continue to show interest. Always make sure not to send them dry content. Giving them a digital and print media kit is a good route to take.
Share the blogger’s content
It also might maintain the relationship if promoting their original content. Bloggers that makes money from advertisements on their sites, so they’ll appreciate the increased traffic. Promoting their YouTube channel would help them as well.
By following the four steps you can not only gain insight into a blogger’s world, get them talking about your company, and most importantly, build a long-lasting relationship.
by Ambria Paul
Often when someone thinks of a public relations internship, they might envision an agency, firm, or corporate office setting. However, I took a unique route with the opportunity to intern at the Chick-fil-A Lee’s Summit location, which paved the way for my summer hands-on experience. An active PR team can help any organization. Knowledge gained about tailoring PR strategies to align with what is seemingly a “different” internship approach is beneficial.
New opportunities, new promotions
I was granted this opportunity because restaurant had a desire for new promotion strategies. The owner created this internship for me, as other Chick-fil-A chains do not typically hire PR interns. With such a unique opportunity, I was able to use my PR skills in a non-traditional way.
Chick-fil-A’s back office quickly became my new home and the owner and manager of the restaurant were the main points of contact. As employees referred to me as “the intern,” little was known of the specific duties I performed. My three key responsibilities were:
- consumer relations
- social media management
- strategic event planning
I was able to be a bridge between the restaurant and its customers through its C.A.R.E.S program, which gave them the opportunity to provide feedback on their dining experiences. Whether positive or negative, I personally responded to customer input via mail. Having this system not only shed light on what the restaurant needed to reinforce or improve on, but also gave consumers a feeling of value for their feedback.
Social Media Management
Prior to my arrival, the restaurant’s Facebook page was the sole method for promotions online, but with it only being sporadically updated by different employees, I was assigned to revamp it. I also launched Twitter and Instagram pages. Because families are the restaurant’s key public, the Facebook page was more successful in reaching stay-at-home mothers and parents of small children. The social media pages were used to promote new products and events the restaurant hosted. Opportunities for feedback and suggestions also were provided so interaction increased, particularly on the Facebook page.
Strategic Event Planning
This Chick-fil-A restaurant, independent of the larger organization, hosts many events. I was involved in coordinating these events alongside the owner and manager. Careful consideration went into planning when to promote, how (flyers), at what time (dinner hours worked best) and for whom the event would cater to (family event, children’s event). Budgeting for decorations and costs of flyers given out were also discussed. Such events included Princess Family Night, Superhero Night, Cow Appreciation Day, and Receipt Day. I pitched these events to the Lee’s Summit Journal and the Lee’s Summit Tribune. Creating and maintaining these media relationships placed a spotlight on the restaurant that was always readily available in time for the next event.
Searching for an internship can be challenging. It is important not to have a one-track mind within your search. Think outside of the box, consider opportunities that are not widely posted or known. Every organization needs a PR team. You already have the proper skills and understand strategies to perform PR duties; using these abilities in a nontraditional environment will help you grow as a PR professional.
by Amanda Plachte
Pulling inspiration from philanthropic efforts such as TOM’S One for One movement, Target wants to try its hand at cause marketing this back-to-school season. The retailer will give one Up & Up brand school supply product to a student in need for each school supply of the same brand that is purchased between July 13 and Aug. 2.
In her Ad Age article, author Natalie Zmuda explains that Target spokesperson Jenna Reck says that the company hopes to donate $25 million worth of supplies to the Kids In Need Foundation and will be tracking progress and updating consumers throughout the campaign.
“It’s giving us more pulse points to connect with guests in a way that’s authentic,” Reck said. “It gives us something outside of just deals that we can talk about with our guests.”
Cause marketing is becoming quite popular.
According to Adweek’s Erik Oster, popular causes include environmental concerns, feminist issues and LGBT rights. He explains that pride month saw numerous campaigns from brands like Burger King, YouTube and Lucky Charms. Female empowerment campaigns included Dove’s award-winning “Real Beauty Sketches” campaign and Always’ recent viral success “Like A Girl.”
The Cause Marketing Forum compiled a list of influential campaigns:
- American Express Statue of Liberty Restoration
- Yoplait Save Lids to Save Lives
- Dove Campaign for Real Beauty
- 1,000 Playgrounds in 1,000 Days
- The Members Project
- Whirlpool and Habitat for Humanity
- Lee National Denim Day
- Product (RED)
- Live Strong Bracelet
What makes a campaign successful?
There are some crucial elements that need to be present in order for an organization’s efforts to really pay off. Writer Savannah Marie gives some tips in her Alley Watch article. They include:
- Authenticity – Consumers need to know that a company truly cares about the cause.
- Benefit – Tactics need to actually benefit the supported charity; usually with money. By endorsing the cause, a business tells customers that the cause is credible and is truly providing a service to the community.
- Values – The endorsing company and the cause should have like-values in order to be effective.
- Publicity – Earned and paid publicity can deliver the call-to-action to consumers about how they can support the cause.