Why Everyone Wants to Go Viral

Viral

In an era of Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Periscope, images, links and videos spread like wildfire in the blink of an eye. While many of those images and videos we’re bombarded with are world and regional news and live events, every now and again we’ll see an interesting product, meme or cat video.

Grumpy cat

The most viewed YouTube video of all time is Gangnam Style with more than 2.4 billion views (we warned you, it’s catchy) followed by Charlie Bit My Finger (so cute) and a slew of other music videos and Grumpy Cat memes. As PR pros, we dream about 2.4 billion views and we lose sleep over unique monthly visitors and comparative advertising values, but is there a magic formula to obtain this type of traction and what do we do with it once it’s happened?

Gangnam Style

The quick answer is no and yes. While there’s no specific algorithm that equates to billions of eyes on a product and millions of dollars sold, it’s our job as PR pros to determine the unique qualities of a brand and bring those qualities to light for consumers. We are storytellers at heart; we do all we can to unearth messages that will resonate across the board to a wide variety of audiences. From there, we leverage our relationships and place those stories in outlets and on platforms that we know will generate traction.

Happy Endings

So what do we do with this momentum once we’ve obtained it? Quite honestly, we run like hell with it by continuing to tout those achievements on even MORE outlets and propel the brand into selling heaven. As with all cycles that ebb and flow, there’s always a point when the virality of a message ends. So we look for new stories from a brand, and whether it’s a new products, service or milestone, and we begin again.

Run

Lights, Camera, Preparation: 3 Things You Need to Nail a TV Appearance

Lights, Camera, Preparation-

While the online media has completely exploded in recent years and video has become much more prevalent, television is still a coveted medium. The awe-inducing factor of seeing either a product or yourself on TV hasn’t gone away despite the YouTube stars who, in some, cases have more fans than Hollywood stars – but I digress.

TV can have a major impact on a brand, and it’s important that each appearance is met with meticulous preparation and rehearsal. There are a few things to keep in mind, especially if you’re appearing on national TV:

  • Questions! There will be a lot of them from the production team, and you should be asking many more yourself. Most national shows have rounds of production meetings, and you’ll need to provide a litany of press materials, bios, collateral and video links so be prepared. TV production can often move quickly, so be ready with these things as soon as they’re asked.

 

  • Messaging: While any speaker should always feel comfortable on camera, it’s important to make sure that person has a rock-solid knowledge of their topic. The best interviews are ones that are conversations and not static Q&As. While the speaker should be very well-versed, they should also make sure the delivery is very natural and doesn’t feel robotic. The quickest way to either be cut from a segment or not asked to return is by being cold and sterile. Communicating effectively on camera is a skill that takes practice, even if it’s with your smartphone’s camera.

 

  • Details: Everything from transportation, timing, contacts (and their cell numbers), location, body language and even attire needs to be considered. While most production teams will have a lot of this information ready, it’s critical to ask even the smallest questions. Knowing that your client won’t blend in with the green screen and be a floating head (yes, we’ve seen it happen to other people!) will undoubtedly make sure you sleep better the night before. Don’t forget to crack a  smile – you’re on TV!

 

What Mad Men Taught Us About Life, Cocktails and Love(ing your career)

madmen_1_long_image

It truly was the end of an era. Seven seasons of perfectly timed mental breakdowns, escapades, weeklong binders and expertly crafted messaging that grew our love for Sterling Cooper (and all variations of the company) to the mega-agency McCann Erickson. What was part fiction, with expertly woven historical events tied neatly into a world of fantasy, was every PR person’s TV addiction. We tuned in weekly to see Don’s antics, only to realize there was always a method to his madness – much like that of our own supervisors. Mad Men is now a gravestone in the history of excellent TV scripting, but we’ll always remember the lessons we learned.

 

  1. Love your job and you’ll never work a day in your life (Stan Rizzo – he lived for being an illustrator)
  2. Culture is important. While maybe not at 11am, an Old Fashioned is always appropriate (Don Draper, especially at 11am)
  3. You can’t buy talent or passion (Pete Campbell – although he never stopped trying)
  4. Own and refine your personal brand – even if it’s a façade (Don Draper aka Richard “Dick” Whitman)
  5. Men and women belong in the boardroom. Talent is talent, who it comes from is irrelevant (Joan Holloway and Peggy Olson)
  6. Believe in the underdog (Peggy.Olson.)
  7. Education is important and you’re never too old for school (Betty Draper – kudos for attempting college despite your fateful demise from lung cancer)
  8.  Understanding client demands (Ken Cosgrove’s run-in with a bullet that led to a slick eye patch for half the series)
  9. Never forget the human side of the business. Technology does not solve all problems. In fact, it creates many. (Michael Ginsberg, RIP right nipple)
  10. Inspiration strikes at any time, don’t ignore it (cue: #MadMenFinale or Hershey Bar episode)

Keeping a Product Announcement on Course

Product Announcement on Course

This week taught us that PR and Rocket Science are more alike than we thought! Sometimes, despite meticulous planning on a solid execution, the outcome isn’t what was expected. Unforeseen circumstances are, at times, unavoidable, but unlike SpaceX’s continuous mission, an agency only has a small window of time to maximize their client’s news. Here are a few tips and insights to turn around a client announcement and save it from a crash landing:

1.      Conducting Thorough Pre-Launch Research: What challenges does the launch face? How can you anticipate them? What are competitors doing and how can you separate the brand? There are several unfavorable factors that can be avoided before a client announcement or product launch with a bit of research. Be aware of any tradeshows surrounding the date of your client announcement and any other industry-leading media announcements that have been planned in advance.

 2.      Learning to Pivot: Quickly determine what is not resonating with the media from their feedback and highlight other angles to the story. While its critical to always lead with the most newsworthy item, perhaps a philanthropic tie in or user testimonial is what the story needs to really resonate.

 3.      Transparent Communication: It is important to keep your client abreast of the media’s feedback. Being proactive and aggressive ensures that you’re always delivering the best possible results for your clients while helping the media tell compelling stories.

Tap That App: 5 Must Haves for PR Pros

Untitled design (5)

Working in public relations means you need to actively monitor the media landscape, and stay abreast of the latest and greatest – which usually requires us to be constantly plugged in. However, when used correctly, our smartphones can become one our greatest assets when it comes to productivity.

 

Here are our top five must-have smartphone apps for PR pros:

 

  1. Pocket: Probably our favorite of the bunch. As PR professionals it’s important that we’re up to speed with the news cycle. However, sometimes we simply don’t have time to read every article the web has to offer. Pocket allows you to scan and save articles for easy offline reading.

 

  1. Twitter: Keeping tabs on social media conversations is an integral part of the job. Thankfully, the Twitter app makes it easy to keep track of what’s trending, and what consumers are saying about the brands we represent – as well as their competitors.

 

  1. Flipboard: Visually appealing, Flipboard is a news aggregator that makes that feels like flipping through a magazine. Flipboard curates content based on your selected interests allowing you to browse handpicked articles, but also build your own personal magazines. You can even add your own social network feeds including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

  1. Dropbox: A great app to have in your arsenal. Makes it easy to access, share and edit files from wherever you are. Also syncs to all your devices.

 

  1. Umano: A new find, Unamo picks the best stories the web has to offer and hires professional voice actors to read them to you. It’s a great way to catch the latest news on your morning commute.

 

What apps are you favorite and make you most productive on and off the clock?

What PR Practitioners Want on Amazon Dash

What PR Practitioners Want on Amazon

By now, you’ve likely heard of Amazon’s latest “a-ha” moment, Amazon Dash. What looks to be no larger than a pack of gum, adorning your favorite brand’s logo, attaches to devices and allows users to order regular household items with the push of a button.  Genius, right? It got us thinking; wouldn’t it be incredible if there was a button for EVERYTHING, even business services? And no, we’re not talking about that Staples Easy Button.

 

By now, you’ve likely heard of Amazon’s latest “a-ha” moment, Amazon Dash. What looks to be no larger than a pack of gum, adorning your favorite brand’s logo, attaches to devices and allows users to order regular household items with the push of a button.  Genius, right? It got us thinking; wouldn’t it be incredible if there was a button for EVERYTHING, even business services? And no, we’re not talking about that Staples Easy Button.

 

These are our top five wish list items for Amazon Dash – Amazon, feel free to connect if you need additional details.

 

  1. Public Relations – Obviously. In a perfect world, the push of a button would execute a finely-tuned PR program for your business or product instantly generated thousands of positive media impressions.Tina-Fey-giving-herself-high-five
  2. Publix Cookies – Publix, a local grocer sells the world’s most delicious cookies. If we could have those on “speed dial”, we would.cookie mon
  3. Libations – PR folks work long hours. One should relax with a tasty beverage when nearing a 12 or 14 hour day.                                                                                                                                        mad men
  4. Mute – Be honest, who hasn’t wished for a mute button every now and again?                                                                                                                                                                                                                         shhh
  5. Banking Services – How often have you found yourself without cash and no ATM in sight?  We’d love a cash delivery service for  those inopportune moments.

free money

 

These are a few of our favorites. Let us know your Amazon Dash wish list on our Facebook and Twitter pages!

Patrick’s “Workspiration” Corner: 10 Minutes to Success

snowflake

In this business, you’re constantly conducting outreach to journalists, fielding incoming requests, offering clients counsel, drafting press materials and planning for upcoming launches and initiatives. All of those things can happen before lunch, and that’s just on the PR side of the house. Social media is a constant flurry of content creation, engagement, community management and in some cases, fielding customer service inquiries.

While most PR and social media practitioners could easily double in a Ringling production thanks to our juggling prowess, it’s always good to switch up the routine and try something new.

Many of us have been employing the 10-minute method, and finding great success! The principles are pretty simple. Break up any task into 10 minute increments to maximize your productivity. Anything that takes longer should be broken up into smaller tasks.

While not a completely foolproof solution in this industry, it’s a great hack that will make you more productive throughout the day!

 

To Infinity & Beyond: The Evolving World of PR

Infinity and Beyond- The Evolving World

As an industry, public relations has had to adapt to a variety of changes. From the way in which the media landscape has evolved to how audiences receive information, the industry has had to learn new ways to engage the public.

The following are three ways we’ve seen the industry evolve to address this new landscape:

1.)    Targeting New Influencers and Outlets – With the term “media outlets” becoming more loose with the rise of sites like Buzzfeed, this allows brands to attract new audiences.  PR pros now need to treat all outlets with equal importance and think outside the box when it comes to working with different platforms and journalists.

2.)    Drafting Content for Audiences on New Platforms – Turning on the radio, picking up a newspaper or watching TV all face stiff competition from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat. Photos, videos, GIFs and shareable content have allowed users new ways to receive their news and information. Content creation goes beyond a standard pitch and follow up but to how creative and compelling is the brand message to the audience.

3.)    A Block of Text Almost Guarantees It Will Not Be Read or Shred – Any information needs to be able to be clearly communicated in 140 characters. Brands need to be able to clearly communicate to ensure their message is appropriate for a targeted platform.

 

There will always be a need for strong, competitive communicators willing to go the extra mile for their clients. As long as new and exciting opportunities develop for brands to share their message, the public relations industry will continue to adapt.

Sorry is the Hardest Word

SORRY (1)

In recent weeks, celebrities like Giuliana Rancic and Benedict Cumberbatch have found themselves in the wrong kind of spotlight for remarks that the public found to be in poor taste. While the history of the public mea culpa has long been documented, it is not solely reserved for celebrities and public figures.  At times, brands will find themselves in situations where a public apology is all but required. Whether it is the result of a customer service blunder, a product launch delay, an error in product manufacturing or simply a misguided tweet, there are moments when brands are faced with the decision of having and how to apologize to customers.

Should one find themselves in the situation where an apology is required, there are a few tactics that should always be kept top of mind. The apology must be authentically remorseful. Take responsibility for what you have done and provide acknowledgment that a mistake has been made. Transparency is a word often tossed around in the PR world, but in this scenario it is truly important for brands to be honest with consumers about the situation – what really happened, how do you plan to fix the problem and how do you plan to make sure the same problem doesn’t happen again.  An effective apology ensures that the same mistake won’t be repeated.

At the end of the day, every brand will have to consider their own unique circumstances to determine the best course of action. Not every situation calls for a public apology. However, with every mistake, there is always an opportunity for brands to learn and grow. They can and should use these opportunities to reconnect with consumers and show them why they became loyal to the brand in the first place.