The State of the Industry

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Public relations professionals from PPRA, PRSA Philly and PBPRS gathered April 19, 2016 for the third ever State of the Industry event. As attendees enjoyed a filling breakfast, PPRA President Meredith Z. Avakian-Hardaway welcomed the audience followed by PRSA Philly President Kimberley Ciesla and Philadelphia Black Public Relations President Vincent Thompson. Next, guests transitioned into the main part of the event which consisted of four interesting panel discussions about the state of public relations in Philadelphia organized into two breakout sessions.

During the first breakout session, “Staying Out of the News: Insight from Philly’s Top Crisis PR Experts” event attendees had the opportunity to learn more about crisis public relations from some of the top Crisis PR professionals. The panel consisted of Cathy Engel Menendez, Director of Communications for PECO, Joshua Peck, PR Head at international law firm Duane Morris, and Christopher Lukach, president and member of the ownership team at Anne Klein Communications Group. Neil Foote, president of Foote Communications LLC and the National Black Public Relations Society, moderated the conversation, introducing various challenges faced by professionals who perform crisis management. By the conclusion of the session, audience members learned the importance of getting the facts, identifying the ideal spokesperson, sharing a plan for dispensing information with stakeholders and setting the tone for a crisis during the first response. The panelists also explained the importance of preparing for crises before they occur, already having established relationships with C-suite executives and being able to communicate the values of your organization when in doubt.

555The other portion of the audience attended “The Influence Behind Philly Brands” during session one. This event was moderated by David Brown, Founder/Managing Director of the Marketing Collaborative and assistant professor of teaching at Temple University. Janeane Tolomeo of Di Bruno Bros., Trevor Prichett of the Yards Brewing Company and Paula Butler of Visit Philadelphia sat on the panel for this discussion.  Each professional discussed some of the unique challenges their brands face and the ways they leverage their brand’s Philly connection to meet their bottom lines. While Visit Philly tries to make cultural connections with Philadelphia and the outside world to engage their audiences, Yard Brewing Company competes with large companies on their small budget by appealing to Philly loyalty and using social media, traditional PR and multimedia content to develop campaigns like their “Brew onto Others.” Tolomeo explained that the Di Bruno Bros employs market research, high level connections and influential partnerships to keep their finger on the pulse of consumers.

The second breakout session focused on two different subjects: social media and changes in healthcare. In “We Snapped, Posted & Tweeted… What’s Next?,” Rakia Reynolds, CEO and Founder of Skai Blue Media, and Matthew Dickman, Executive Director of Digital Communications at Comcast Corporation, shared their expertise with the audience. After tweetgiving brief professional backgrounds, Boyd and Dickman dialogued about their recent shared experience in the Comcast lounge at SXSW. They reminisced about how Comcast spent 1/10th the amount as many other brands at SXSW but generated more engagement by providing great content, incorporating various forms of social media and creating an interactive and engaging space. Boyd and Dickman continued the discussion providing advice about strategically growing interaction on social media, organic posting versus paid search, determining the appropriate content according to platform, incorporating snapchat for large companies and more.

Other professionals who attended the event elected to attend “From Consumerism to the FDA—How Changes in Healthcare Impact Communications.” Rachel Schwartz, Vice President of Tonic Life Communications discussed the role that patient bloggers play in affecting policies in the healthcare industry. Leah Sheppard, Senior Director of Corporate Marketing and Communications, also spoke about the more active role patients are taking in healthcare consumerism. Rather than simply following doctor’s orders, patients have begun to take agency advice in seeking out physicians and institutions and it is shifting the conversation in this field. For Charlotte Sutton, Health and Science editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, she recognizes the rise in patient stories but what she looks for is the data underpinnings of these increasing patient stories.

 

After the breakout sessions, the audience heard from April Mellody, Deputy CEO of Communications of the 2016 Democratic National Convention Committee. The 2016 Democratic National Convention is coming to Philadelphia this July and Mellody is responsible for all aspects of official convention communications. A short Q&A session followed Mellody’s spiel that broached topics from communication challenges Mellody’s staff may face to volunteer opportunities. Attendees left the third State of the Industry event more informed about changes in the field of PR and with more insight about the state of Philadelphia in the near future.

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Jameeda Rucker is a senior at Temple University majoring in Strategic Communication and minoring in Spanish. Jameeda has held five public relations internships and multiple leadership roles in pre-professional organizations including her current role as Vice President of Public Relations for Temple’s Chapter of PRSSA. You can connect with Jameeda on Twitter @_JRPR_ and on LinkedIn here.

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Hooked on Snapchat – Maybe You Will Be, Too

Hello, my name is Adam. And I am a middle-aged Snapchatter. Yes, I know what you are thinking. Snapchat is a social medium platform that skews young. More for the Selena Gomez crowd; not for a child of the ‘80s, like me. To that, I say “don’t judge me”!

After all, I became convinced that Snapchat was the ‘real deal’ after watching cheerleaders Snap with one another during a Temple University gymnastics meet. And I learned how to post my own Snaps from a college student, the patient Amber Hamlett of Stockton University, who was able to show me a few easy steps to take at PPRA’s Careers 101.

Check me out at AdamDvorin. Depending on the day, you can see my office, my view from the train, my prized collection of baseball-caps and my Siberian Husky, Deuce (DOOOOOCCCCCCEEEEE!)

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Better yet, get on board the Snapchat bandwagon yourself. You’ll enjoy the experience.

My friend, Ai Zhang, Hamlett’s public relations professor at Stockton, was also key in me embracing Snapchat as a storytelling platform. She made sure I followed some of the big national Snapchat influencers – Gary Vaynerchuk and Carlos Gil are two notables on my feed.

At the same time, I saw how Ai tells her own stories on Snapchat – I have since learned that she (like me) is a big proponent of mass transit, has adorable children, shops at Costco and likes to take walks in her South Philadelphia neighborhood.

And I saw how others were using it – one I really like is U.S. Senator Cory Booker singing in the car while campaigning for Hilary Clinton or praising interns and elevator operators when back in Washington, D.C. Or the NBA, taking me courtside during Golden State Warrior games.

Why do I like Snapchat – and why should professional brands consider it as a story telling platform?

Some reasons:

  • It is portable. If you have a cell phone, you can be a Snapchatter.
  • It is visual. Whether you are taking a picture or shooting a short video, you are showing the story to whomever is viewing.
  • It is authentic. Want to take followers behind the scenes of your restaurant, hospital, factor…whatever? Snapchat is a great vehicle to do so.
  • It is easy. Press a button. Write a captain. Add a filter. Volia. You have written the latest update to Your Story.

And maybe, that really is why Snapchat is such a great social media platform. Because we all have stories to tell – whether we are young or old; individual or sophisticated brand.

There is still room for you on this bandwagon. What are you waiting for? Snap to it!

Adam Dvorin is Media Director of Winning Strategies and Vice President of Membership at PPRA. And yes, he actually snapped a photo of himself writing this blog. He needs to stop, already.

Technology & Social Media: How They’re Revolutionizing the PR Game

As an intern and a college student, I try to be a sponge and soak up as much IMGknowledge as I can. After three years of general education classes and longing for some real world experience, I finally got to dive into public relations and marketing in school as well as in my summer internship at AWeber. With a fresh pair of eyes and a spot on the marketing team at a modern, technology driven company, I’ve been able to see what PR practices are being utilized and what seems to be becoming the new industry standard. What I’ve come to learn is that social media, other technologies, and the internet in general are rapidly changing the game.

For starters, everything is online now. This can be seen as a blessing or a curse. It’s a blessing because businesses are able to have a huge reach in areas that they could have never dreamed of before. Someone 2,000 miles away could be reading this blog post right now and that is a truly amazing thing. At the same time, however, this means that everyone and their mother can put anything they want on the internet. More content means more competition. It’s harder to get the media to accept your pitch when they’re getting 500 emails a day from other agencies and businesses.

This brings me to my next point. Creativity and innovation are key in today’s world where everyone has access to almost every article that’s ever been written with one quick Google search. Most stories have already been written. That’s why it’s important to put an 180 degree angle on whatever story you’re pitching in order to get reporters and journalists to bite at it. Run of the mill stories and articles won’t get picked up unless they are buzz-worthy and offer a new, fresh perspective.

Because of the growth of the internet, it’s important to make your online presence loud and clear. The more media outlets and social media networks you’re on, you’ll have a better chance of reaching more publics and growing you or your client’s business. As a young adult and YouTube vlogger enveloped in the online world, I see too many companies with botched social media accounts. Some seem to be made with little effort and others seem to just not fully understand what they are doing. Too many businesses don’t think with the mind’s of consumers.

Social media does need to make sense in the context of your business, but it’s also equally (if not more) important that it looks good and grabs people’s attention. For example, if you run a jewelry company, you can’t just post pictures on your Instagram account of every necklace you’ve ever made. Yes, people want to see the products you’re offering, but you need to be creative and switch it up in order to make sure you’re getting loyal followers who actually look forward to seeing the content you post each day. Post pictures of your jewelry paired with cute clothing or grouped with other accessories. Posting a funny or inspirational quote that your demographic can relate to is also a good way to change up your content. Additionally, the timing of each post is just as important to get optimum reach. Look at accounts with 100k followers for inspiration. They’re obviously doing something right.

Keeping social media in mind, a lot of newer companies are capitalizing on the fame of bloggers and Instagrammers by getting their products in the hands of these social media celebrities. By offering a free wardrobe full of new clothes to a fashion blogger along with a nice commission, these companies are making the right move. These days, people go gaga for their favorite Instagrammers and want to use/buy everything they see them use. The fact that these sponsored posts don’t feel like traditional advertisements really helps because it feels like raw, original content rather than an annoying, pushy commercial or billboard.

Although PR is still a relatively new concept and term in the business world, it’s changing and growing rapidly. Newspaper clippings are no longer the go-to measurement for success, a strong online presence has become standard, and social media has completely changed the relevance of traditional advertising. The bottom line is that nothing is ever set in stone. Tactics change constantly and it’s up to every PR professional to stay on their toes while searching for the next new way to drive awareness to their company.

Julia McNamee is the Marketing Intern at AWeber. She’s also a Corporate Communication major at Penn State, a part-time freelance makeup artist, and a YouTube vlogger. Check her out on YouTube. (www.youtube.com/jaayforever).

4 Musts for Any Agency Offering Social Media

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Lots of small and medium sized businesses are spending a lot of time on social media because they understand its potential. They typically fall into three categories: doing well at it and content to keep it going, doing well at it but ready to outsource it, and don’t know what they’re doing and want real help.

In many cases, it may make sense for these people to outsource their social media needs to the same agencies handling their public relations and other marketing needs. As a PR professional, you already know what’s going on within the client’s business, what their overall goals are, and how to get them in front of their ideal audience.

I’ve seen PR agencies and marketing agencies do some things right and some things wrong when providing social media services to clients. I’m here to share my insights so you can add social media to your service offerings without the risk of failing your client or spending all of your time on social.

Know what’s on the menu.
Before you offer social media services to your clients, you should know the different ways that you can “slice” social media. Some clients might want full social media management that covers content creation, audience engagement, inbox monitoring/customer service and ad buys. But you may choose not to offer the whole enchilada. You may decide it only makes sense to provide prewritten social media posts that the client can schedule to accompany a public relations campaign you’re managing more fully for them.

If you break it down, you can offer clients:

Content calendar: This can mean different things to different people, so be sure to define it for within your own agency and be clear about its meaning to clients. It might mean a simple list of weekly themes they should follow, a yearly calendar that outlines several campaigns, or a day-by-day list of pre-written tweets, posts and updates.

Scheduling: This is simply the scheduling of social media posts to be sent at a predetermined time from within a tool such as Hootsuite. If the client insists on approving the prewritten content each week, you may want the client to handle scheduling so that any delays in approval do not affect your ability to schedule the updates to go out on time.

Engagement/Audience growth: This is the daily maintenance of the client’s platforms and real-time interaction with audiences. This includes following those who follow the client’s competitors to grow their own following and reposting and liking content from other users to get their attention. Related to this is customer service or inbox monitoring wherein you keep an eye on the social media messaging inboxes to keep track of any concerns customers have with your client’s business. You might answer these customer concerns if you’re equipped to do so or to quickly notify the client of messages that require their attention.

Ad buys: Do you want responsibility to creating ad campaigns to reach new followers, drive traffic to the client’s website, or boost posts on Facebook? How about sponsoring tweets on Twitter or posts on Instagram? This might include the creation of graphics that won’t get rejected by Facebook and reporting the results to the client.

Reporting: Whatever social media services you offer, you’ll want a system for reporting analytics so they can track progress on social media. Social media managers do reporting in different ways. Hootsuite has built-in analytics tools, Facebook has pretty advanced analytics in its Page management system, and even Twitter lets you track the reach of your tweets. There are plenty of others tools you can use. Some clients will only care about their number of followers going up while others will want to know what messages are outperforming others.

Get an ally in the client’s office.
Inevitably, there will be “fires.” You’ve seen it time and again with media placements and other PR elements: the client’s name was misspelled or there was a word missing from their quote and they want you to fix it RIGHT NOW! Well, it happens with social media too. The client might notice a word misspelled or a missing period and want the tweet or post edited or deleted right this very second. Now, you’re busy. While PR pros pride themselves on being well-caffeinated and quick to respond, it just isn’t always possible. The best thing to do to prevent client frustrations in this situation is to ask them up front to appoint someone on their own team that you can train to be responsive in an “emergency.” Then teach them the basics of editing or deleting. You might even make it super clear by giving them a handy tipsheet they can keep nearby that tells them if a post on a platform is able to be edited or must be deleted, etc.

Keep PR & social media on the same page.
If you can’t have the account executive that’s already handling the client’s PR do their social media (some of your account execs won’t be comfortable in that role or have the bandwidth to take it on), make sure that the person managing their social media has really easy access to the account exec handling PR. This is especially important when your clients have had your agency handle their PR for a long time and are just now handing over social media. Your account exec likely already knows what’s going on inside the client’s company or knows how to get that info out of the client. The person in charge of their social media needs that information too. While social media can consist largely of news aggregation and other forms of content that aren’t breaking news about the company, their social media will feel naked without such updates from within the company.

Feel free to give the client homework.
Don’t feel like because you’re taking money from the client to manage their social media that it should be entirely off their plate(s). You might ask that clients email you articles you can share from their feeds, share updates from the company page to their personal pages, or upload images in real-time from major events they’re participating in (or texting those images to you so you can upload them).

There’s a lot to consider when you’re thinking of or starting to offer social media services to clients. This really is just a brief list of the things I’ve seen other agencies mess up.

Rosella LaFevre is a marketing consultant helping solo entrepreneurs, small businesses and C-level executives with marketing strategy, public relations/thought leadership and social media. She’s also a business and marketing coach helping entrepreneurs do more good and make more money. If you want an outsider to consult on your agency’s approach to social media for clients, schedule a consultation here.

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Shopping Gets Social: Pinterest and Instagram Updates

 

Mobile-shopping-525x600As the digital landscape has transformed the way we send, receive and seek information, online shopping has increased significantly in the last few years. Research by Wipro Digital found that in 2013, 36 percent of U.S. shoppers reported doing the majority of their shopping online, and since then, ecommerce has increased by 25 percent. Today, 61 percent of U.S. shoppers are making the majority of their purchases online. This trend will continue to grow this year. According to Wipro, 50 percent of U.S. shoppers plan to do more shopping online, while only 4 percent plan to make more in-store purchases.

On June 2, Pinterest and Instagram unveiled “Buy buttons” that allow users to purchase items they see while scrolling through Pinterest boards and Instagram feeds on their mobile devices. On Pinterest, you will now see “buyable pins,” enabling users to search for pins within a specific price range, product color and more, while buying directly through Pinterest’s mobile app. Rich pins (pins with information for ingredients and DIY projects) will also have “buy it” buttons, so users will be able to buy the list of products without leaving Pinterest.

While scrolling through Instagram, you will see ads with “Shop Now,” “Install Now,”  “Sign Up” and “Learn More” buttons. These features are an addition to Instagram’s carousel ads that launched in March and will help companies with their selling and marketing efforts on social media. For companies, these new ad features will have better targeting options based on age, location, gender, interests, places and other demographics.

Some marketers believe these new features on Pinterest and Instagram will increase brands’ conversion rates and boost engagement and sales, but others believe these features don’t help them get to know their consumers enough.

While the new buyable pins on Pinterest could significantly increase company sales and enhance the consumer experience, some people do not believe the same can be said for Instagram. Adam Padilla, creative director of BrandFire, describes the new Instagram features as “risky” and “a mistake.” As an Instagram user with over 17,000 followers, he doesn’t want to feel like he’s shopping while he scrolls through his feed. Padilla described Instagram as more of a personal experience than Pinterest and said Pinterest was similar to a marketplace like Etsy.

With these features, companies will have to be cautious and think about their digital strategies because consumers don’t want to feel like their Pinterest searches and Instagram feeds are being taken over by ads.

While some believe these updates won’t help drive sales, others believe these features will make shopping even easier with instant access to products. One thing is for sure, digital technology is changing the way we live our lives, and these new features on Pinterest and Instagram have the potential to change the way we view products and make purchases.

Megan Healy is a senior at Temple University majoring in Strategic Communication with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Spanish. She is an active member of Temple University’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America and is an account executive for PRowl Public Relations, Temple’s student-run PR firm. She will be studying abroad in London this summer and will be graduating this December. Follow Megan on Twitter at @Meg_Healy_ and connect with her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/meganhealy22.