How to Create a Communications Strategy

how to create communications strategyA lot of organizations have separate documented communication strategies for each communications discipline. Your organization may have a public relations strategy, marketing communications strategy, social media strategy and sales strategy, all operating in parallel to accomplish often similar (or exact) goals. I suggest having one, clear and cohesive communications strategy that covers all communications activities within your organization. If there are different people responsible for each strategy, get them all in the same room to create a single one (this goes for any organizational-wide plans as far as I’m concerned).

With communication plans, you’re ultimately developing and delivering messages to target audiences for a desired outcome – that is the fundamental formula. If you’re new to creating communications strategies, or want to match your approach up to an alternative approach, I’ve provided some suggestions below for creating your comprehensive communications strategy. [Read more…]

Taking a Newsroom Approach to Content Marketing

content marketing trendsBrands have never cared more about content marketing. It is the hot topic for 2013, as brands look to leverage great content to expand their reach, drive more engagement or improve their search engine rankings – to name a few. Don’t believe me? Search any content marketing related keyword in Google Trends and you’ll find a spike in conversation this year around the topic (the graph to the right is for “content marketing” news headlines). [Read more…]

Are You Listening?

The physical presence of ears does not make you a good listener. Listening makes you good listener. If you’ve created a Twitter, Facebook or [insert your favorite social media] account for your brand, congratulations, you now have ears. Are you listening?

I think we’ve reached a point where most brands realize they need to be present in social media, and I think most that create a presence actually are listening, but you wouldn’t know it. You wouldn’t know it, because they’re not engaging their audiences. They’re not part of the conversation. If somebody says something nice or not-so-nice about their brands, there’s no response. Are they responding behind the scenes? It doesn’t matter, perception is reality with social media. We need to see you in social media to know you care.

This post is motivated by my personal experience trying to engage with brands online lately. In most cases, I’ve been raving about how awesome I think some person, place or thing is. You know, an unsolicited endorsement or recommendation to my friends and followers. In most cases, I’ve used their Twitter handle (or Facebook page, URL, etc.). I know somebody has seen it on the other end, but no love. What gives?

I suspect the unresponsiveness stems from one (or more) of the following:

  • Lack of experience using the tools of the trade – brands don’t know how to listen
  • Lack of resources dedicated to social media – the brand only has one person reviewing social media one hour a day (or less)
  • Gag orders – organizations that don’t allow employees to engage – or have had a bad experience in the past which has everyone gun shy now
  • They don’t care – it’s not even on their radar. They’re above it.
  • Too much to handle – it is possible to reach a level where you can’t possibly listen to it all, or engage with everyone. Justin Bieber comes to mind. Then again, Lady Gaga is notorious for engaging with her fans… it’s worked pretty well so far.

Here are some suggestions for starting out listening and engaging with your audiences:

  • Create a basic social media policy – here’s a list of 57 social media policies you can draw inspiration from. Don’t make it too “employee handbook”, but rather “guidelines for engaging.” Things won’t always go smoothly, but make a concerted effort to get better over time.
  • Monitor your Twitter and Facebook accounts more closely. Set up alerts so you know the second somebody says something about you. If it’s nice, say thank you. If it’s a problem, help solve it. Do it publicly at first. If it needs to be taken offline, do so. Once solved, encourage them to share their experience.
  • Use the search feature of Twitter to create some searches for your brand name. You might want to create some searches for common terms in your business, followed by a question mark. As an example, I monitor “journalism”? to see what questions people are asking about journalism. It’s a great way to discover new people and conversations related to what you do.

  • Act online like you would offline. It’s funny, but sometimes I picture the person I’m going to engage with – would I say what I’m about to send them in a message? It makes things more interpersonal for me. It’s also a good idea to use your manners here. Say please and thank you.
  • Pay it forward. Plenty of brands reply and say “thanks for the RT” or “thanks for following”. It can seem a little robot-like after a while. I can name a dozen or so high-profile Twitter users who have RT’d something I said about them. For me, this is a big one. It shows me they were listening – and, they thought enough to share with their network.

It’s not an all or nothing type thing. Start slowly. For me, I think a basic requirement should be to at least engage with a couple of people per day. If somebody takes the time to mention you, retweet you, comment on your wall, or like your page, the least you can do is thank them or ask for their opinion on something. Right?

Great, thanks for listening!

What do you think? How can brands new to social media do a better job listening to, and engaging with, their most important audiences?

Social Media Has Changed Brand Management Forever

When it comes to online brand management, most businesses are already familiar with the more common techniques such as using SEO to gain top search engine positions or content and keyword control. However, many are failing to recognize the importance of social media and customer reviews sites to online brand management.

According to the 2010 Pew Internet & American Life study, a staggering 78 percent of U.S. Internet users have researched a company or product before making a purchase. These customers are not only going to the prospective business’ site, but are searching neutral sites for reviews like Viewpoints.com or Angieslist.com, or mainstream social media like Facebook or Twitter.

In order to protect your brand over a long-term period, you need to construct a brand management plan in addition to plotting appropriate SEO work. Brand managers should prepare to monitor the following two areas on a regular basis: [Read more…]

It’s July 4th… Are You Ready for a Hot Dog Eating Contest?

There are influencers on the web for just about every subject under the sun. Pick a topic of your choice – we can assure you that someone is writing about it. If you write about something – on Twitter or Facebook, in a blog or even in a “traditional” publication, wouldn’t you like to see what kind of influence you have on the community and find the leading voices to engage and interact with?

But how do you get there? A Google search probably won’t do it – it certainly won’t give you a score or rank the other top Influencers. That’s why we designed My mPACT… so you can search for any subject (you pick the keywords, we do the math) for both your score and a list of top influencers. [Read more…]

Making the Case for Infographics in PR

Infographics are taking the Web by storm. Not the infographics pioneered by USA Today to make the news more exciting for people that don’t like to read, but rather the so-long-you-need-to-scroll and so-darn-good-you-have-to-read-and-want-to-share kind. Infographics are out of control – everyone is using them. That usually means they work great. Are infographics linkbait? Do they get shared a lot? Absolutely. So how can you use infographics as a weapon in your PR arsenal? Here are a few infographics I like with some suggestions for how you can use infographics to get your message out.

Brian Solis’ Conversation Prism

No list of PR-related infographics is complete without a reference to Brian Solis’ Conversation Prism (the graphic next to the first paragraph), so lets start there. You’ve probably seen this one a hundred times by now, but it’s worth mentioning because it illustrates the true power and viral nature of infographics (it was also a pioneering move when it came out – infographics weren’t as common as far as viral content goes). Oh, and this infographic makes money. Get yours here.

[Read more…]

5 Ways Journalists Can Use Twitter

Social media and journalism are becoming more and more intertwined, and while the debate rages on if social media is a part of the journalism industry, Twitter, Facebook and the like shouldn’t just be reserved for the marketers and brand community managers out there. There’s an even greater potential for journalists to leverage the power of networking with Twitter, but before you sail into unchartered territories, you first need to know how to navigate the waters.

[Read more…]

Journalists on Facebook

Facebook announced a new “Journalists on Facebook” Page yesterday, a new Facebook Page dedicated to helping journalists use Facebook as a reporting tool. My first reaction to this announcement was, didn’t they do that last fall? Yes, Facebook did launch Facebook for Media last Fall, but that Page is more geared to media, the organization.

Journalists on Facebook (or Facebook and Journalists, depending on what you read), is all about the individual. It exists to help journalists better wrangle the power of Facebook for journalism – both from Facebook-provided best practices and peer collaboration from a swelling community of journalism professionals.

What Can You Expect From Journalists On Facebook?

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How Is Social Media Not Journalism?

There’s no denying where most of us get news. Michael Jackson’s death, the Hudson River plane crash, Charlie Sheen finally going off the deep end: all things that I found out about first on Twitter. And with the political unrest spreading throughout the Middle East and Africa, Twitter has  played an integral role in telling those people’s stories when most of the traditional communication methods were blocked. (Now, there’s even a book about it.)

More so than just staying updated on current events, social media is one of the the only ways I — and I’m sure many others — get information about industry happenings. (It’s the only way if you consider Google Reader a part of social media.) Plus, it’s one of the only things that I  — and I’m sure many others — use to spread information. And it’s also one of the fastest-growing ways that companies are communications and interacting with their target audience.

But with big name brand fails happening more often than we social media junkies care to admit — Kenneth Cole uproar being the most recent that sticks out in my mind — it begs to answer one critically important question, one that should have been answered and addressed ages ago: Why isn’t social media a part of journalism?

[Read more…]

Monitor Check-In and Review Sites to Boost Business

When something doesn’t smell or taste right to you, what do you do? You tell your friends around you to smell or taste it to see if they agree. They hesitantly comply and either confirm or deny your position. A similar scenario unfolds with social media all the time, but with an adverse effect. Peer reviews are being posted and instead of readers jumping on board to share the displeasure, they’re simply accepting their peers’ opinions as their own.

Location-based services (LBS) like Foursqure, Gowalla and Facebook Places – the apps consumers use to ‘check-in’ at your business, or review sites like Yelp!, Google Local / Google Places, OpenTable and Citysearch, the services consumers use to rate and review your business, can make or break your business. Consumers will opt not to visit your business if they read a bad review. Likewise, positive reviews can send swarms of customers your way. The problem is customers usually only post reviews when they’re upset. [Read more…]