Partnering for Success: Why Hire an Agency if You Have an Internal Team

With summer in full swing, many in-house teams are laser-focused on seasonal trade shows, industry events and warm-weather marketing opportunities. This makes perfect sense, but raises an important question; why are their agencies focused on a different season?

At this time of year, as temperatures rise and heating systems become a distant memory, we in the agency world are talking about an equally distant concept — Holiday. That may seem premature on first blush, but agencies often serve as an essential complement to in-house marketing efforts.

This means that brands working with agency support have a two-fold advantage: an in-house team managing day-to-day execution of contemporary tasks while their agency partners develop future opportunities in tandem with the moment. This two-pronged approach is just one of the many reasons working with an agency can be so beneficial.

 

Additional Opportunities

When it comes to Holiday, there’s a distinctly different lifecycle to media coverage opportunities. Here at GreenRoom, we’ve been talking with editors and journalists about Holiday Gift Guides and annual award submissions as far back as our Spring Media Tour — and we’re seeing traction despite being months away from the colder weather. We’ve helped a number of new clients adjust strategy on the fly and add items to their calendar — secure in the knowledge that they now have the right resources to address them.

Our team-based approach to media outreach drives impactful coverage year around, not just during Holiday. We’re constantly cross-pitching, which means your brand is given more opportunities to gain media attention via roundups, briefings, and trend pieces.

This happens on the digital front as well. Marketing teams are often overflowing with work, so they’re unable to start tackling holiday campaigns until much later in the year, when options for partnering on large-scale initiatives are more limited. An agency partner keeps the ball rolling, and by the time fall comes around, Holiday campaigns are already in full development.

As on the media side of the house, our digital seasonal strategy isn’t limited to just holiday. Our team has spent the summer dressing models in sweaters and tailgate football gear, prepping for creative content that will publish in fall and winter.

Agencies can help in influencer negotiation and balancing seasonal initiatives

Industry Insight

Working with a number of clients facing the same challenges puts an agency in the ideal position to inform timing, budget, and strategy on both the media and digital marketing fronts. While we’ll constantly analyze the performance of your brand’s initiatives towards established goals, we’ll also compare this progress to the results we’re seeing from other clients. Because of this, you gain a greater depth analysis. If something needs to be changed, we can borrow learnings from other clients, and implement a strategy that we already know to be successful.

This is especially important on the digital front, where platform algorithms constantly change. If you’re working with just one brand, it may take months to analyze a trend that an agency will quickly see appearing across multiple clients. This means that clients partnered with an agency can better take advantage of platform updates, adjusting strategy to meet the needs of today.

On the PR front, agencies are the first to know when a publication is changing direction or when a new reporter is hired for a beat. This up-to-the-minute information creates efficiencies in media outreach and saves time and effort.

 

Negotiation

Negotiating pricing is another key area in which agencies pay dividends for their brand partners. Third-party vendors and influencers know that agencies have a broader client reach, so agencies can often negotiate better rates and find deals more regularly than a single in-house team.

Negotiation doesn’t just happen on the outside — sometimes internal marketing teams need additional resources to get senior management on board with a new initiative. This is also the time of year when marketing teams are pointing towards budget discussions that will impact the year to follow. We can help bolster the case for additional dollars that could mean the difference between running in place or speeding ahead. An agency can be that reliable outside voice, often delivering the essential push when a VP needs to ok a budget.

Agencies can provide in-house marketing teams with in-depth industry analysis.

When Is the Right Time to Hire an Agency?

We know that even the most skilled of internal teams can benefit from additional resources for seasonal initiatives, product launches and award nominations, among other milestones taking place in the back half of the year.

More often than not, we find that the best answer to the question “When?” is: right now. (Yesterday: no longer an option!)

The Right Time to Hire a Public Relations Agency

Often in our conversations with brands the question arises of when to hire an agency. While each situation is unique, there are a few times when agency support can be especially helpful.

Launching a Brand New Product

As an agency, we’re able to place our clients in a plethora of marquee media outlets. By giving the media a first look at the product, the brand is positioned to have a string of hard-hitting press coverage publish during the launch. This is a great way to generate buzz and place your new product at the forefront of consumer’s attention.

Holiday Season Buzz

The holiday season is a critical time of year for retail companies, as millions of potential customers are in “buying mode.” One of the most sought after media placements are Holiday Gift Guides, some of which are the only source of product information for shoppers! However, the timeline for this may start earlier than you think. We typically start Gift Guide conversations with reporters in June — yes, June! — in order to maximize coverage. Opportunities and placements will grow as we get closer to the holiday season.

Attending a Trade Show

When it comes to trade shows, our biggest priority for our clients is to make a huge splash. Whether it’s a large show like CES or an industry-specific show like Interbike, we strive to fully maximize the days you’ll be attending. In addition to booth support, we’ll secure meetings with top-tier media outlets during the show, giving you an opportunity to present your product front and center to some of the biggest names in media. On the social side, trade shows can be one of the best times to take advantage of live features and trending opportunities. Our team can be on-the-ground to handle photos, video, and live digital engagement.

Just Looking For More Brand Awareness

Maybe you’ve been selling your product for quite some time and feel like you’ve plateaued. You might feel that if you could just reach fresh eyes, your product would take off. That’s where we come in! We provide you with a PR and social “megaphone” that allows you to spread the word  to millions of potential customers. With sample units available, we’re able to create engaging social content that aligns perfectly with the brand story we’re telling  marquee media outlets. This one-two punch of social and PR will make sure your product is not only being seen, but being seen by the right people.

Inside the Algorithm: What Facebook’s Changes Mean for Your Content

Facebook’s latest update

Since its launch in September 2006, the Facebook News Feed has been in a state of flux. From the introduction of Like buttons to the prioritization of popular posts to the crackdown on clickbait and fake news, Zuckerberg and company have continually updated the News Feed to optimize the user experience. Since a 2015 report in the Journal of Experimental Psychology that mindlessly scrolling Facebook could be detrimental to mental health, the platform has concentrated its efforts on driving active participation on the platform.

With the latest algorithm update in January 2018, Facebook overhauled their ranking process to focus on engaging content from family and friends over content from brands and publishers. Vice president of News Feed Adam Mosseri shared in a Newsroom post that the updates would prioritize “posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people.”

How does Facebook determine what is meaningful?

The platform is using reactions, comments and shares to adjudicate how compelling a post actually is. While it may seem that engagement spend is the easy answer to this, friend-to-friend interactions will take precedence. Companies will have to think less about what the brand wants to push, and more about what their target audience wants to see.

What does this mean for content creation?

Creators should put themselves into the shoes of their social customer and ask, “What kind of content would I want my best friend to see?” Thought leadership and philanthropic efforts are more likely to organically take root within an organic community than flash-in-the-pan sponsored posts. Similarly, this type of content is more likely to generate long-term benefits than its ephemeral meme-like counterparts.

Additionally, because we can anticipate that users will be spending less time on the platform, there should be a stronger focus on snappy, succinct content that contributes positively to a viewer’s Facebook experience. Gone are the days of sharing a meandering ten-minute YouTube tutorial on your Facebook page; concise, meaningful content is in.

What does this mean for marketers?

Marketers will need to think outside of the box of engagement baiting to create content that is genuinely engaging, rather than artificially popular. Clickbait-style promotions, including giveaways that use “Comment below!” or “Like this post to enter!” will have higher CPM rates, higher cost-per-click and lower organic reach overall than they have in the past.

It will take months for these updates to roll out across all of Facebook’s products. As we learn more about what these changes mean for brand reach and how to best spend in the new digital climate, one thing is true now more than ever: it’s all about your audience.

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

How to Measure Social Media Success

SALE

“How do you measure the success of brand’s social presence” is a question we receive time and time again. Evaluating the success of your social efforts can be challenging, but by using the five key components below you’re sure to unlock valuable insights into your audience demographic, competitive landscape and sales metrics.

 

1. Consumer Traction: Social media is a conduit between a brand and the consumer. Not only does it allow consumers to stay connected with a brand, it gives the brand real-time feedback on fan sentiment and position among competitors. Utilizing social media analytics can also help a brand identify new markets or customer segments that the brand is resonating with, providing guidance for other marketing efforts.

 

2. Reputation: Managing a brand’s reputation, customer sentiment and online presence is a key component to any social media strategy. The first sign of trouble for any brand can usually be identified first on social media. Having a dedicated social program provides the opportunity for a brand to manage potential grievances and keep consumers satisfied before they infiltrate the community with negative comments.

 

3. Engagement: One of the most popular metrics to determine social success is a brand’s engagement rate on social media is engagement. Monitoring and evaluating social engagement can help a brand determine how invested the social community is and how effective are its campaigns. Tracking these metrics is vital in creating an evolving social strategy. (should we add engagement stat to provide insight as to what would be successful? How about how we measure it?

 

4. Traffic: An increase in search volume ultimately leads to an increase in traffic to both the brand and retail partner’s websites. Social advertising efforts can be measured by implementing tracking pixels as well as referral traffic via Google Analytics. Garnering an increase in inbound links is another added benefit when engaging on social media. Most fans begin to share information about the brand on their own personal channels which leads to additional traffic and a higher organic ranking on search engines.

 

5. Sales: Utilizing both tracking pixels and Google Analytics can assist in evaluating how many leads were secured from social media thus further defining social media’s success.

 

 

 

How Social Media Can Impact Fan Sentiment

Hayley's Blog Graphic

One of the most rewarding and fulfilling aspects of being a community manager is the ability to engage with a brand’s core fan base each day. Community management offers brands the opportunity to speak with fans in real-time – one of the things that make social media so unique and valuable, and most importantly, integral to a business’s growth.

Fans want to feel like they are valued by the brand and are a part of the team.  While customer service is an integral part of a social media campaign, when a brand can elicit positive emotions on social media from a follower, chances are, you’ve done your job correctly. How you choose to interact with your followers is extremely important in the realm of sentiment. Positive word-of-mouth and sales leads are the goal, and keeping tabs on fan sentiment about your brand can offer key insights that can affect your businesses bottom line.

 

Here are four ways your brand can engage its fan base and increase positive sentiment:

 

  1. Utilize Hashtags:By creating a unique hashtag for your brand, you can easily listen to and join conversations your fans are engaging in. Pro tip: Hashtags for entering a contest or creating evergreen hashtags can help you track and monitor communications about your brand.
  2. Build Relationships: Start conversations with fans who interact with your brand and engage with them on other relevant topics aside from your brand. Liking their photos or commenting about a topic can often transform a fan into a brand advocate.
  3. Cultivate Advocates: These are the fans who consistently talk about your brand and jump into conversations with you daily. Advocates are essential to community growth. Plus, their word-of-mouth praise can drive new business for the brand.
  4. Take Advantage of Giveaways: Nothing says “I appreciate you” more than rewards. When a brand reaches out to its loyal followers and rewards them with product, the fan is typically overwhelmed with joy. Even if the fan was originally impartial to the brand, a giveaway or a prize can be the point at which they become true brand advocates.
  5. User Generated Content: Sharing fans’ content on your brand’s channels can bolster engagement and brand affinity not only from the fan but also new potential customers. Seeing that real people use your product in their everyday life can be more of a motivation to purchase than any other methods of promotion.

It’s Handled: How to “Olivia Pope” Your Customer Service Inquiries on Social Media

its-handled-liv

On Scandal, there isn’t a situation that fixer Olivia Pope can’t handle. From international relations crisis to handling her love life, she does it all with cool confidence.  So when it came to trying to break down the nuances of handling customer service, she immediately came to mind.

Following her no-nonsense attitude and skill for execution working with a variety of stakeholders are all core competencies that can be employed with customer service inquiries on social media. It is often the quickest and most efficient route to a resolution while building long-term followers. Now more than ever it is imperative for brands to have an integrated strategy to manage customer service via their social media channels.

According to the Customers 2020 report, the customer experience will be more important than any other factor to consumers by the year 2020. Having a good customer experience is already critical to a company’s success, and will only become more so. To further that point,  Accenture’s Global Consumer Pulse Survey showed that 66% of consumers around the world stopped doing business with a company in 2013 due to poorly handled customer service. To succeed in managing your customer service inquiries on social, follow these simple tips:

Always Have a Plan:

tumblr_inline_msxsdndtko1qz4rgp

It is important to think of your social media platforms as an integrated extension of your customer support team, and always keep your social media team informed with a plan that aligns with your internal customer support team’s best practices. Both teams should have a set of FAQ’s and best practices in place to handle all incoming issues. Having these in place will streamline processes and keep key brand messaging congruent.

Take it Offline:

shut this down

Remember to always address all public questions, complaints and concerns and then take them offline by directing a consumer to a private message or to the support team’s channels for further assistance.

Complaining vs. Trolling:

look-at-me

Assessing the type of complaint is just as important as handling it. Researching where a complaint is coming from and evaluating its validity can save time and resources. If the complaint or inquiry is a legitimate concern from a consumer then answer their inquiry and continue to follow-up until the matter is resolved. Most fans who are legitimately complaining just want to feel heard. If you assess the complaint and find that it may be a person trolling your page, address the issue head on. If they continue to spam your account you may have to take extreme measures such as blocking said user. It is important to provide a place for your fans to engage with your brand rather than a breeding ground for complaints.

The Customer is Always Right…Even When They Are Wrong:

We're in this together

The old adage of the “customer is always right” is still a good reference to stick to within limits. Many times, it’s not the actual problem, but how it’s handled that leaves a lasting impression and can convert an angry customer into a lifelong brand evangelist. When you make it clear to a concerned customer that you are doing everything in your power to assist them, you will find that they are more appreciative after their issue is solved. It can often lead to them taking their gratitude back on social media to sing your brand’s praises.

Earn Their Trust:

If you want me earn me

Being able to quickly turn around an issue is another reason why consumers are turning to social media rather than the traditional customer support channels. Allowing the consumer to feel heard and offering a quick solution has become commonplace on social media. An industry standard is acknowledging the issues within 24 hours, though many brands do so sooner. This does not mean that the problem will be solved in this time frame but they will at least know that a resolution is in the process.

 

Snapchat – Transitioning from nudes to news?

snapchat

It’s clear that today’s media and content landscape is more fragmented than it’s ever been. Amazon winning Golden Globe awards is a prime (Amazon pun intended) example, and it’s truly unclear where the next great story might come from. The latest entrant into the content distribution landscape is Snapchat. With the introduction of Discover, the photo-sending app is now getting into the content game. The latest addition to the platform gives users the ability to see a variety of stories from some of the biggest and most influential media companies in the world. It’s an interesting and significant move for a few reasons.

First, Snapchat understands that the novelty of sending photos will eventually start to wane, and it’s critical to maintain an active user base. Snapchat has managed to capture the coveted millennial demographic, which is both a very powerful and influential group. By offering another reason to open the app, Snapchat is hoping to maintain and grow that engagement.

Second, it’s legitimizing the app from a novelty that had some questionable beginnings, to a source of news. While the stories feature brought more meaningful storytelling to the app, it was still up to the user base to generate the content. Having thoughtful curation specifically for the platform should yield more dynamic and interesting content.

While it remains to be seen how many users engage with this feature, it’s still a win for telling stories from our perspective. Our business is telling thoughtful and engaging stories, and we always welcome a new platform with which to do so!  Find us on Snapchat!

*You can “Snap to Add” us by placing your Snapchat camera over the ghost in the photo above.

 

6 Easy Steps to Conquer Instagram

MEXICO (1)

Follow these 6 easy steps and your social strategy will be singing one happy tune!

1. I Know Who You Are:

Knowing your audience and whom you are trying to target is one of the most important steps you need to decipher to ensure a successful Instagram social strategy.

635347412222229578WhoareyouHarryPotterGIF

2. Take a Look At Me Now:

Instagram’s claim to fame is mainly due to its focus and usage of visual media. In order to break through the clutter and reach your target audience it is imperative that your content is visually appealing.

Look_at_me

3. Time After Time:

Timing is everything when it comes down to posting content on Instagram. Utilizing sites like Iconosquare can help you identify which times of the day are best to engage your audience.

tumblr_mkmwhddtA31rkbt85o1_500

4. Hashtag Rules Everything Around Me:

Utilizing the right hashtags can help your content exceed its reach beyond your followers and to new users.

a. Track the most popular hashtags in your space and ensure you are applying them to your social copy.

b. Remember the more hashtags the better!

hashtag

5. I Will Follow You:

Want to increase your exposure and community base? Engage & work with Instagram influencers to help build your audience. Leveraging a relationship with an influencer can ignite your social presence on Instagram.

tumblr_mkdithZ36R1s2tlt8o1_500

6. Lean On Me:

Don’t forget to cross promote across all of your social channels. Sharing content on your other social channels can lead to new followers who already have an affinity for the brand and help cement a strong and integrated social strategy.

 anigif_enhanced-17927-1392132666-16

Increasing Kickstarter Campaign Awareness with Social Media

Increasing

One of the key components missing from most brands Kickstarter campaigns is a fully integrated social media campaign. In order to avoid losing out on these opportunities use these checklist items to help your social media strategy stay on course.

  1. Amplify messaging about the campaign utilizing all social channels! Are you promoting your campaign on every social platform at your disposal?
  2. Curate engaging and fun content: fun taglines, user generated content and real time photos. Keeping your audience engaged and your content shareable can help expose your campaign to new potential backers.
  3. Your content should be consistent and timely. Social media gives you the opportunity to tell a story. Use daily posts as a portal of insight to make fans feel like they are taking the journey with your brand. You’ll find this can lead to an increase in backers.
  4. Use your social media channels to highlight your team (behind the scenes photos). People want to know who they are helping. An emotional bond will help boost brand affinity.
  5. Tweet a lot & remember that it’s ok to repeat a tweet. Most fans may have missed the tweet the first time around.
  6. Real time engagement is very important. Jump into relevant conversations and introduce your campaign to new eyes.
  7. Submit your Kickstarter campaign to sites and Twitter handles that promote ongoing campaigns
  8. Add CTA’s (Call to Actions). People need to be told what you need them to do with your content.
  9. Introduce extra incentives to encourage backers to share that they’ve contributed to your campaign with their audience.
  10. Feature backers on social channels. You can create an entire campaign highlighting your social backers.
  11. Create short Facebook, vine or Instagram video content featuring the products. Video is just another tool in your social media tool belt to help you reach potential backers.
  12. Reach out and connect with influencers on relevant social channels to introduce them to your product and potentially support & promote your campaign.
  13. Host mini contests outside of the Kickstarter to get fans ramped up. The contests should encourage them to Share, Retweet, Like, Comment and Favorite for chances to win relevant prizes.
  14. Give fans weekly-daily updates to let them know how close you are to reaching the goal. A visual is even better to include.