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Public Relations

Activism – The New ‘Sex’ that Sells

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It’s out with sex and in with activism; marketing and branding specialists alike have dubbed 2017 as the year that “activism comes of age”.

Following a series of polarizing elections and debates, it’s clear that the world is now more divided than ever. Demonstrations, protests, and marches fill our streets and dominate the conversations on our social media feeds – there simply is no avoiding the topic of activism. Fuelled by millennials – who see themselves as active agents of social change – this wave of social activism has set off new ripples in the marketing world.

It’s gone beyond supporting a cause – audiences are now demanding that everyone else does the same. And while this may present a risk of alienating segments of their consumers, brands are beginning to dip their toes into politics. The potential virality of brand activism in the era of social media marketing has helped brands gain more exposure, attract new customers and cement old loyalties. In most cases, the benefits far outweigh the harm.

No longer excused from sidestepping conversations about pertinent socio-political issues, it does little good for a brand to remain sitting on the fence. Take Uber for instance. Earlier this year, the company suffered a major setback after the hashtag #DeleteUber trended worldwide on Twitter. Close to 200,000 users deleted or deactivated their accounts within minutes, following allegations that the company was endorsing Trump’s controversial immigration policies by remaining neutral during protests. Meanwhile, in announcing its $1 million donation to the American Civil Liberties Union, Lyft (Uber’s competitor) received high praise for its denunciation of Trump’s outrageous executive order. By the thousands, angry consumers began switching their allegiance to Lyft and within hours, the company saw a drastic expansion of its user base – exceeding the numbers of Uber for the first time.

Riddled by heightened emotions and drastic political changes, consumers want to be more involved – associating themselves only with brands that share the same ideologies and values. Consumers are making their voices heard with their wallets: every purchase is a political statement. Thus, explaining the biggest rise in brand activism observed in the history of marketing and advertising. But riding this wave seems a lot easier said than done. While brands like Heineken and Dove have successfully crafted campaigns around the importance of unity and feminism respectively, others like Pepsi have completely missed the mark.

Heralded as “The Great Pepsi Shakeup” the three minute Ad was quickly pulled following the global #boycottPepsi on Twitter. Commentators on social media were understandably aggrieved – accusing Pepsi of appropriating imagery from the real protests and completely undermining the dangers and frustrations of these group of people. In attempting to resonate with the millennials, Pepsi completely neglected the most important aspect of brand activism: sincerity. Attempting to “join the conversation” (as preached) without discussing real issues, portrays the brand as opportunistic and more detrimentally, offensive.

Following this fiasco, Heineken, on the other hand, made a political statement of their own with a video titled “Worlds Apart: An Experiment.” Six strangers, each with diametrically opposed socio-political views were paired and encouraged to foster an understanding and open friendship despite their differences. Where Pepsi enraged, Heineken pulled at the heartstrings of its viewers. In this, there are two key differences:

(a) Heineken’s Ad discussed real controversial issues concerning transgender rights, climate change, and feminism while Pepsi adopted a more generic claim for unity and peace – whilst appropriating the imagery of real protests.

(b) Heineken proposed an actual, practical solution of encouraging discourse and fostering understanding despite our differences, instead of portraying themselves as the miraculous solution to all problems.

Gone are the days where sex was enough to sell. In the advent of progressive political changes, consumers and audiences alike have become more politically engaged, often interacting on social media where reputations are made or lost within a matter of minutes – aka the age of the millennials. Ultimately, as much as consumers love thought-provoking ads that tackle the real-world issues we face today, brands should always remind themselves that sincerity and authenticity should underlie all efforts geared towards harnessing the power of brand activism.

Posted by Roselynda Afandi, CorpMedia


Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Managing Your Reputation

In an increasingly digital age, online conversation plays a huge role in shaping brand opinion and anybody with an Internet connection can be a potential contributor. Your online reputation is accessible with a click and you can be sure that at any time, someone, somewhere, is going to turn on a device and check into a search engine to find out all they can about you.

When prospects encounter negative content related to a brand, they are likely to switch to a competitor, resulting in lost leads and sales for your company. The correlation between a brand’s reputation and its sales is different for each industry and unique to each field, but the link is painfully obvious to those brands that have fallen into disrepute or those personal brands that have fallen out of favour with the mainstream media often caused by negative reviews.

It’s not just your customers who will search online for information about you but the media, business partners, prospective employees, and even personal contacts. If you don’t protect yourself and your business, someone can easily post a comment, create a blog post, promote your competition or worse. The results of a negative online reputation can be as subtle as a potential customer clicking on a competitor’s search result instead of yours or it can be as damaging as an industry-wide boycott of your products or services. Case in point – the recent #GrabYourWallet boycott that saw US retailers like Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Sears, among others, drop the Ivanka Trump clothing line.

With increasing numbers of people turning to online resources for information, how does a business take ownership of their online reputation? Taking a proactive approach is the way to go. Managing your online reputation is not only a means of defence but it is also best practice.

Here, we share key initiatives that are integral to an effective brand reputation management strategy:

Public Relations: A strong PR program positions you as a thought leader and expert resource in your field in major newspapers, business and trade publications, and social media platforms. As a critical component to successful brand reputation management, PR can improve brand perception, manage negative sentiments, share positive customer opinion, and increase your web presence. A professional PR team can also secure high profile speaking engagements and opportunities (online or onsite) to promote your brand and gain top mind share.

Social Media: Social media is an integral part of brand reputation management. It’s a great way to make your business accessible, personable and focused on the customer. Being active on social media gives companies the opportunity to monitor their social reputation, as well as to act and react accordingly. Social media listening tools, like Hootsuite, SocialMention and Radian6 can research and collect user generated content such as blogs, comments, reviews, and alert a business of any negative conversation going on.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO strategies put you at the top of search engine results, where customers are searching for resources and solutions to real-time problems. If you are not present where consumers are searching, you will be left behind to competitors who are there. Leveraging strategic keywords and useful content can help to drive more web traffic and increase sales that are essential for your company’s strong brand reputation.

Content Marketing: Raising awareness about the brand through content marketing tools like white papers, blogs, targeted article contributions, and industry research reports can help in a company’s brand reputation management. Producing lead-generating content across an array of channels raises awareness about your brand and your products. By positioning your company as an informative industry source on topics your audience is interested in, you will gain more website visitors and potential customers.

Website Development: Designing a website that’s easy to navigate, with interesting and user-friendly features will definitely help a business in its reputation management. It’s important to make sure that the website works in tandem to the needs of customers – this helps them find relevant information easily and quickly. A strong website not only enhances a company’s online image but also helps to grow brand loyalty.

In the hustle and bustle of normal business operations, it can be easy to lose sight of the importance of brand reputation management and its impact on corporate growth. But lack of brand reputation management can significantly and negatively impact an organisation’s overall success.

It takes time to tackle these crises and turn the ship around, but such issues can be fixed with an appropriate online reputation management strategy. Clear, achievable goals will help restore your company’s good name and keep your business reputation clean.

Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, CorpMedia


It’s 2017 – Make it Happen!

 

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Another year rolls in, yet another opportunity to come up with new resolutions. But, let’s get serious – how many of us actually stick to our resolutions, right?

The start of a new year seems to be the perfect time to take stock of where we are in our lives and the things we’d like to improve upon. Often, though, our best intentions are no match for daily life and we slide back into old patterns. Resolutions are not confined to our personal lives. You can also create impactful resolutions for your business. A resolution, after all, is a decision to do something differently to bring about positive change.

So, if you are ready to make some powerful changes, here are some tips to help you reset your small business in 2017:

Time to Take Stock

Spend some time to look back and take stock of the previous year. As a CEO, you may want to look at the roles you took on within the company, and determine if you can delegate anything to your employees. This will help you keep your eye on the big picture – opportunities for further growth. At the same time, it will empower your employees, give them a sense of personal responsibility and therefore more commitment to achieving team goals.

Stop and Smell the Roses

Running a business takes all of your time and then some, but if you don’t build time in your day for yourself, to take a breather from the hectic pace, it’s easy to burn out and lose your passion. Even if it’s only for 5-10 minutes, be sure to carve out some time this year.

Rest Not on Your Laurels

Keeping your skills current is essential. Whether you’re a restaurant owner, retailer, or marketing manager, it’s important to try new things to enhance your own professional growth. Try a new menu selection, reposition the items on the shop floor, or offer a new service to keep your business up to date. Talk to your customers about what they want from your business and think seriously about how you can implement some of their suggestions to great success.

Face to Face

It’s time to stop relying on emails, social media and mobile apps as an exclusive way to communicate with customers. Deep and long-lasting business relationships are built in real time. Schedule time to pay a courtesy visit to your customers, even if it’s just to have coffee or lunch – let them know how much you value and care about them.

Clean Up Your Workspace

It’s hard to stay organized and on top of your most important tasks and priorities when your desk or office is a mess. Take an hour or two every week to organize the paperwork that is no doubt taking over every inch of surface area. File away the things you don’t need and take action on the things that require it. While a cluttered desk may not be the sign of a cluttered mind, it certainly won’t help you get and stay organized for success.

Tie Up Loose Ends

Set aside at least 20 minutes at the end of your business day to tie up loose ends. Go through your remaining work and make assignments to employees, forward information to co-workers as necessary, respond to email and voicemail messages, file away the things that you need to keep, and toss the rest. Finally, quickly review your appointments for the following day.

Have a Positive Outlook

Running a business can be stressful. It’s not easy, and cash flow is usually an issue. In 2017, try not to get bogged down with the negative – focus on the positives: Where you’ve come, where you’re going this year, and where you’ll be next year. It will help you focus on the big picture – your business goals. Once you’ve focused on what you want to accomplish, your business objectives for 2017 will become clear.

Here’s wishing you a happy, healthy and profitable New Year!

Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, Corporate Media


‘Tis the Season to Get Creative

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For many of us, the festive season brings much excitement – mega sales, year-end parties, exchanging presents – the list goes on.

And here forth is the early gift that content writers and marketers everywhere are presented with – the opportunity to rise above the fold, and deliver sincere and personalised messages to your consumers immersed in the festive fever. In other words, it’s the perfect time to build meaningful connections with your audience with content that is compelling, targeted and helpful.

So how do you effectively captivate with your content this holiday season? This month, we share some useful tips to get you started.

Give to Receive

While information is churned out every day, it takes the right kind of content to get the attention of your target audience. And that’s not all – you have to keep them engaged, and inspire positive action that will, in turn, enhance your brand. Compile a set of hot topics for the different segments of your audience and create pieces that provide suggestions or solutions to specific concerns that are on people’s minds during the holiday season. For example, a busy parent may find a list of time-saving decoration ideas extremely practical, while the restless millennial may appreciate tips on surviving the holidays with the extended family.

You can make content discovery effortless by creating SEO-friendly pieces. This means using keywords that people typically look for during this period in your headlines and articles. Popular ones include ‘simple’, ‘eat’ and ‘snack’. Essentially, it’s all about offering quick access and real value with your content.

When you share something helpful, people are bound to amplify it and recommend the same to others. They’ll also be more invested in the things you have to say with each new message you put out. Building great, people-centric content thus makes it easier to grow the following for your brand.

Get into the Spirit

Send greetings to your clients. This is also the best time to express appreciation and gratitude for their loyalty. Pamper them with personalised gifts that are related to your business, such as discounts and coupons for products and services. Introducing a holiday special for a limited period can also help create buzz around your brand and drive traffic to your site.

And who doesn’t appreciate the occasional heartwarming story or a spontaneous message? We all do, and even more so during this season. A large part of getting into the holiday spirit is getting in touch on a more personal level and fostering genuine connections with your clients. Throw the spotlight on your brand’s human side and share photos of staff in festive gear (complete with a fun caption!), or post short videos of your annual company party or of your team demonstrating a product, specially released for the holidays.

Indeed, ‘tis the season for good vibes! Take advantage of people’s propensity to connect with messages emotionally, and share content that’s able to hit a chord. Remember – emotions generate shares, and positive stories are likely to reach more people than negative ones.

Round Up Your Troops

Your work most certainly doesn’t end with the dismantling of the last festive lights, or amidst the dying notes of Auld Lang Syne. In fact, it’s only just beginning! The period after the holiday season is the ideal time to touch base with new followers you’ve gained in the last month. Follow up with these new additions, and continue to nurture relationships with them. Show them that their presence matters to you and make a special effort to convert them from casual customers to brand ambassadors.

Solidify your pool of followers by consistently creating compelling content – quite simply, by continually being interesting to your target audience and more importantly, by being interested in the very things they value.

The flurry of marketing activity and oversaturation of material that are typical of festive periods should in no way deter content writers from attempting to distinguish themselves with excellent stories and brand messages. Hopefully with these tips, you can be the voice of calm, seek real human connections, and reinforce your status as a trusted source of information this holiday season. Cheers!

Posted by Rahimah Amin, Corporate Media


Keeping Cool in Hot Weather

 

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“You can’t have a business without having clients and unfortunately, where there are clients, there are also ‘difficult’ clients.”

You can please some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time. Every business that provides a service, will no doubt, encounter a few disgruntled personalities along the way. As public relations professionals, we’ve all had that experience. Some clients are a breeze to work with. Others can be extremely difficult – the kind that makes you cringe every time their number lights up on your mobile. You know, the ones who drain your energy, criticize and complain incessantly about something you’ve worked on diligently (and see real value in), or an overly needy client who calls at least twice a day to find out why they aren’t in that society magazine yet!

PR is difficult at times. You’re in the middle of everyone, the diplomat between the client and the marketing spiel and between the journalist and the story. So suddenly having to deal with someone being nasty or unreasonable is just one thing that you don’t need. But how do you handle it, when the client is paying the bill?

Dealing with difficult people is essential to our success. When dealing with difficult people, specifically a client, it might seem that keeping peace and our sanity is a tough, if not impossible, task. So how do you find the right balance?

Bottom Line: You bend over backwards when appropriate but you also learn to put your foot down when needed. Even though you may be holding the phone on one end, biting your tongue and stabbing that notepad with your pen, you can turn this around! Here are some helpful tips on how to deal with difficult clients.

Be Open, Be Clear

When dealing with a client, it is better to be clear about expectations at the start of the new business relationship. This is your opportunity to share what type of reporting, results and communication your new client can expect from you. Have an honest conversation about the amount of communication that is most comfortable to your clients and what your agency can provide. However, even clients who appear pleasant, understanding and accepting in the beginning, can become challenging once the contract is signed. It is important to know that while you should aim to be a valued partner, not all requests are feasible. Don’t be afraid to tell your client no – but with good reason. Explain why their request is not realistic or possible. You cannot please everyone all of the time and that’s a fact.

Worth the Trouble

Some clients will send a rude email – out of the blue! Or you may get a harsh tone on your voice mail on a weekend. Then it’s time to ask yourself this question, “Is it me?” If not, it’s worth your while to check in on your client. Ask probing questions to find out what is really bothering him. It could be that he’s going through something that is affecting his personal life, or it could be a trickle down “telling off” from his boss that has nothing to do with you or your work. Be kind, lend your ears and see if there’s anything you can do to help. Sometimes it does have everything to do with you. If this is the case, have an honest conversation with your client, and with yourself. Perhaps, you need to assess and amplify your own efforts.

You are the Expert

For clients that call for constant updates or to give you their own PR ideas (ridiculous as they may seem), remember you are the expert, hired to do the job. Don’t be arrogant – you can either take the ideas into consideration (if worth exploring), or politely give your views as to why they cannot be executed, for e.g. it would end up in the editors’ trash. Explain why you were hired in the first place – because of your specific expertise. Perhaps, this is also a good time to share more information and updates on what you’ve been doing to assure your clients that you’re on top of things and have their best interests at heart. More importantly, assure them that you know what you’re doing.

Be Proactive and Supportive

It’s quite common for some of my clients to reach out to me for advice on matters not related to the work we’re doing. Don’t turn away. If you can help with some input to a web design or business question, become an ally and take the time to problem-solve with them. Or refer them to someone who’s in a better position to help. By offering a solution and assisting with other tasks, you show that you care about their business. This not only builds rapport but also trust and this goes a long way in building a good, long-lasting relationship with your client.

Time to Let Go!

Unfortunately, the client is not always right. If your client is consistently being difficult and your personalities just don’t mesh, then it may be time to take the “D” out and let difficult clients go. While it’s important to do whatever it takes to keep a client within reason, you, as the expert in your field, get to define what is or isn’t working.  If your client is making your team miserable, taking up a lot of time better spent working on clients who do respect your work, it might be time to set you both free.

Whatever you decide, always be professional and polite. Be as honest as you can without getting too personal.

For the most part, PR pros love their clients and probably spend more time with them than they do their family. A PR agency should act as an extension of the client’s team. Your interactions with your client should build on one another – after all, you’re ultimately interested in a long-term relationship with your clients, and that is what you should strive for.

Posted by Irene Gomez, Corporate Media


You Are What You Share: #GetSocial

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We look to the Twittersphere for the latest news and join the hashtag frenzy on Instagram with as much fervour as the next internet-wired, mobile-owning person. The world now is the World Wide Web, a place where information and communication converge. Trend-spotting, the exchanging of ideas and the coalescing of people into communities increasingly occur online.

Observing, listening and connecting through the web offer vast opportunities. And for businesses today, having access to significant groups of consumers and keeping abreast of industry developments is possible not so much by being social as it is about going social. What this means is establishing a presence and engaging on the right social media platforms.

Social media and its smart utilisation can help drive brand awareness and reinforce brand recall. Social behemoths like Facebook and Twitter have become go-to networks for both consumers and marketers – not only are they recognised as mobile advertising juggernauts, they also offer a large user base (1.59 billion and 320 million users, respectively) with which businesses can have direct and sustained contact.

So which sites should marketers put their efforts into? Here are a few essentials to take note of when investing in social media marketing:

Explore your options

With a multitude of social media channels available, it is important that you identify the platforms that best allow you to reach out to your intended recipients. Be where your audience is so that you can concentrate on producing content of continual interest and which inspires feedback.

As consumers look out for reliability, branding your images and creating consistent visuals are vital in creating trust and gaining followers. Explore more of visual marketing as it resonates best with consumers. Specifically, photos drive more engagement than any other kind of posts, while infographics convey complex data in a coherent and visually interesting manner, effectively increasing traffic by 12 percent, if used properly.

It is little wonder then that consumers are increasingly turning to platforms which offer interactive visual assets to suss out new brands or to keep up with old favourites. Trending social media networks to consider would include:

  • Snapchat: The 100 million users on this image-messaging service share single, customised snaps or create a story (a chronological series of media forming a longer narrative), with each snap lasting 24 hours. Snapchat posts often appear more spontaneous, giving brands on the app a more human feel. Businesses can also send followers personal snaps to say hello or a simple thank you.
  • Pinterest: Brands hoping to tap into a niche network can look to Pinterest, a visual bookmarking tool offering boards that organise collections of pictures and aesthetics. Most of its 100 million users are women, with fashion, food, fitness and beauty amongst the most popular categories. By allowing the embedding of single Pins or whole boards directly into your blog content, Pinterest makes the re-pinning of your material extremely convenient.
  • Instagram: Powering the sharing of images is Instagram, a mobile-based social network with 400 million monthly users who collectively like an average of 3.5 billion photos per day. More and more businesses are using it to boost their visual marketing strategy, and rightly so – the app’s users embrace brands, with Instagram posts commanding 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more than Twitter.
  • YouTube: The biggest video library has over a billion users who upload, view and comment on material ranging from TV clips to vlogs and interviews. Considering that 85 percent of online adults are regular visitors, the opportunities to catapult your brand into the visibility of a large, captivated audience through great video content are huge.
  • Vine: Ideally suited for today’s notoriously short attention spans, Vine allows its 200 million active users to share 6-second-long looping video clips on social networks or embed them on websites. The clips’ short-form nature inspires immense creativity – often showcasing brands’ quirky side – while making sure that the information being communicated remains digestible.

Studying your audience and ascertaining your niche will enable you to put together your own mix of influential visual social networks that will provide the highest return on your investments. Once you recognise the relevant social media opportunities, you can then be part of relevant conversations that will add value to your business.

Make content your priority

Content published on social media works best when it encourages participation or when it deepens consumers’ emotional connection with the brand. Focus less on hard-selling and more on engaging. Take advantage of social channels’ ability to facilitate direct interaction with customers and listen to comments which can help you shape your marketing strategies.

Learning more about consumers’ interests and the kinds of updates that motivate involvement will also help brands construct personalised messages. As consumers are more likely to seek out posts that entertain and educate, structure your content around a takeaway for the audience.  And even as you create, make efforts to curate – collate great articles, videos and images and share these generously.

Remember, content must be compelling, better still, contagious! Quality posts make it easier to amass quality followers who are likely to share it with their own audiences on other social media platforms. Going viral may not always happen, but staying hyper-relevant to customers in an overcrowded market through insights-driven content may, in fact, be just as good.

Posted by Rahimah Amin, PR Executive, Corporate Media


2016: Time to Unwrap Your Potential

2016: Time to Unwrap Your Potential

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Another year has come and gone! Is it me or did 2015 just slipped us by? Again!

Now that 2016 has arrived, many of us are tentatively jotting down resolutions for the new year. Along with personal goals like doing more physical activity and watching less Reality TV (none hopefully in the near future!), I’m sure you’ve spent the final weeks of 2015 refining your business strategy, so much so that you’ve probably not had the chance to reflect.

Fret not, here are some resolutions any PR specialist (PRs) will need to make 2016 their year:

Dump the creativity

Thinking outside the box is so passé. While those so-called creative experts may try to convince us otherwise, we all know that the best ideas come when we’re alone, seconds to the deadline, wired with lots of caffeine. But, in an era where the process is everything, any PRs worth their salt needs to at least play along with the notion of collaboration. 2016 is the year to embrace the brainstorm for what it is – group therapy with a flipchart – and save your real critical thinking for your alone time.

 Connect with your audience

PRs should live and breathe the organizations they represent. You may have tried a bit of client immersion in the past, but 2016 is the year to get your “Freak On” as the song goes. Starting on a new hip alcohol brand? Unleash your inner youth – listen to “Five Seconds to Summer” until you know all the words to their songs, watch the MTV Video awards again and again, go drinking in the millennial club. It probably won’t make your work any better nor your head, but it’ll definitely get you a step closer to “connecting with your audience.”

 Talk the talk

Touch base, flag up, check-in, sell-in, reach out….. You’ve tried long enough to avoid using PR-speake, but my friend, you know deep down you’re fighting a lost battle. Sure, these phrases don’t really mean anything, but hamming up the industry lingo is guaranteed to boost your clients’ trust in you and make your senior management team take notice. Use it enough, and you may start to believe in yourself too.

Don’t shy away

If there’s one thing we can guarantee in 2016, it’s that another viral craze will come along demanding we stick ourselves to one digital platform or another – probably in the name of some charity. As a professional bandwagon jumper, it’s important for you to be one of the first to get involved – just make sure you’re not the last.

Tweet/post/blog/vlog

In the same way a pencil makes no noise as it drops unless you’re there to hear it, your hard work means nothing without a steady stream of online updates. The trick to curating a strong professional feed is a lot easier than you think. You don’t need to read articles before you share them, just make sure your post is snappy and includes a personal comment, e.g. “Interesting read … ” or “Great piece from HBR blog… ” Looking like you enjoy your job is also key – jokes and group photos will help build your online brand.

Update your LinkedIn

With top companies trawling the site for talent and ideas, it’s time to embrace the cringe. Add pictures, join groups, and list skills – both abstract (creativity, team work) and specific (blogs) – then watch as the business roll in.

 Rise above the norm

2016 is the year of big picture. Avoid getting bogged down in too much of the nitty-gritty by becoming an expert in delegation. The key here is in packaging it up as empowerment. Empower your juniors to take more ownership of administrative details. Empower your seniors to use their specialist knowledge. In no time at all, you’ll have empowered your way to a clear plate and have more time to focus on improving your own skillset.

Happy New Year! May the Force Awaken in Each and Every One of Us!

Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, CorpMedia


Seriously….. Are you listening?

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Social. Okay, social media, got it.

Listening. Hmm… so it’s okay to just sit and listen?

Amid all the social media chatter today, with 500 million daily messages sent on Twitter alone, people are undoubtedly engaging in conversations related to your brand. Are you listening, and if so, how are you responding?

Social media has provided people with the ability to voice their opinion on companies, brands, people – in short, anything and anyone. What people say can be good or bad, but that alone doesn’t determine your social media success. The way your company listens and engages with these social media posts is what dictates how those opinions influence your online presence and brand sentiment.

Social media listening goes beyond ‘listening’ – it’s really about monitoring and managing a brand. Every company strategizes to create content that is engaging, well-written and unique but if you’re not listening to the social conversations happening around it, then you might as well bury your head in the sand!

You may think that you know what your audience is saying and are willing to spend thousands of dollars researching on what you think your audience wants to hear. But, finding the conversations around what you think is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. And if you can’t track the buzz, where does your brand go next? Listening, on the other hand, does the research for you.

I’ve finally heard what they’ve got to say.

So I’ll just fix it or respond.

 Whatever you hear doesn’t always warrant an immediate response. Social media listening allows you to hear what’s going on and gives you time to strategize before responding in a timely manner. It’s good practice to anticipate things that could relate to or affect your brand.

And conversations don’t always have to be bad ones; it could direct you to do something you weren’t thinking about. So if there’s an event happening which your brand should be a part of, jump at the opportunity. Start with an event hashtag or by simply retweeting relevant content. At the end of the day, it’s all about reputation management and playing your cards right.

 Ah..I think I finally get it!

Now how do I actually ‘listen socially’?

 There’s no scientific way to tackle social media listening –but there are tools you can use (look out for Part 2 of our blog on Social Media Listening).

When it comes to social media listening, every company will have to adapt and learn.  However, before you embark on your journey to becoming the Social Media Whisperer,  you’ll first have to ask  yourself these 5 important questions:

     1. What is your brand reputation?

Find out what defines your brand and how you want it to be defined. Monitor the names of your company, CEO, and product(s).

     2. What is the reputation of your competitors?

Monitoring your competitors’ conversations with their own communities will help you understand their positioning, and give you insight into their marketing strategy.

     3. Who’s talking, how are they saying it (outlet of communication) and who is leading the conversation?

Get a feel of who’s talking about you and discover the format of communication and style of content being shared. This will help shape your social channel strategy and help you craft channel-specific content that works. Also pick out the conversations that matter.

     4. How should you strategize?

Since you now know what’s going around, write custom content that resonates in the hearts of your followers and your to-be followers. Develop important relationships and act as a catalyst to connect to each other. Add links and other measurables.

     5. Which conversions matter?

Use free and freemium (or perhaps even paid) social listening tools out there that deliver both comprehensive data and insights associated with that data. If your strategy isn’t working, find out why and rework it.

Remember, social conversations depend on social networks. It’s hard to have eyes and ears everywhere, and it’s overwhelming to be listening and monitoring 24/7. While listening, don’t discount anything. If something seems overwhelmingly popular but irrelevant to a brand, monitor it. Find out why before you look the other way.

Posted by Stephanie Robert, Advocate, PR, CorpMedia


So You’ve Got the Product Everyone Needs?

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You’ve spent months or even years developing this product – you’re obviously going to be euphoric. But how are you going to build excitement around its release?

Anyone who has been working for months getting ready for a product launch knows the stress and the fear that can run rampant. Much of this is caused by the unknown, the fear that you’re missing something that could go wrong, and completely tank your product launch.

A successful product launch can garner valuable publicity, bring in new customers and help you expand your business presence into new markets.

Your startup or product launch is the first day you will show your “baby” to the world and let the public have a hand at your stuff. A good launch can do great things to your brand and build enough momentum to cut marketing and sales expenditure drastically. Remember the lines on the day before iPhone launch? You might not get that far for your product, but you could still generate a lot of buzz without spending too much.

Product teams have the best product launches when they work according to clear goals, deliver goods on time, and understand what makes their product lovable.

There is no doubt that the product launch phase is complex and critical. But there is little more rewarding than watching a product that you’ve worked on since inception come to life in users’ hands. But achieving this result involves enormous work from cross-functional teams.

Product launches are most successful when you plan ahead for them from the start — well before your product goes to market.  The trick is to get the ball rolling in the months leading up to and following the release of your new product.

Every launch should ideally have a pre-launch, launch and post-launch checklist. Here’s how to avoid the common pitfalls in introducing your product to the public.

Pre-Launch: 3 months before the event

  • Set your goals, objectives, strategies and tactics and identify tools to measure pre-launch objectives.
  • Develop a content calendar that highlights deliverables, themes, topics, timing, and marketing channels you will use to promote the launch and share this with your creative and content team.
  • Prepare marketing material such as ads, product information and instructions, infographics, videos, testimonials, announcements, teasers, and entries for various social media platforms.
  • Create a pre-launch buzz: search for and engage with key influencers such as bloggers, journalists, leaders in the business/commercial world, volunteers, activists or expert in the field.
  • Update your website, social media and offline portals regularly to ensure the latest news reaches your target audience.
  • Inform your launch team of key events and activities and clearly assign roles and responsibilities.
  • Create, maintain and share a logistics checklist and double check a few days before the launch to ensure everything is in place.

Launch Day

  • Create excitement through offering demos, samples, special offers, contests, or coupons. Create your own hashtag too, to create social engagement.
  • Send out announcements via different channels.
  • Employ extra staff and ensure they are fully informed about the new product; extra hands could be a bonus.
  • Appoint several employees as media persons to answer any queries and listen and respond immediately to minimize negative feedback or consumer unhappiness.
  • Employees should mingle with everyone to ensure that no outliers are left alone through engaging in meaningful conversation.

Post-Launch (3+ months)

  • Use metrics to monitor launch performance and compare with initial objectives.
  • Gather feedback and testimonials from customers and channel partners; analyse and develop case studies if possible.
  • Track sales and monitor inventory.
  • Keep the momentum going with added promotions, enhancements or more advertising.
  • Update your audience by telling them how the launch went and create social proof.
  • Review what you learnt from the launch and how you can improve in time for the next one.

Product launches are stressful – that’s just the nature of it. But by preparing yourself with the key areas to pay attention to, you can give your customers that magical moment when they find the thing that they didn’t know they were waiting for. And that’s when it gets exciting.

Posted by Stephanie Robert, Advocate(PR), CorpMedia


JUMP ON BOARD THE PR-SEO TRAIN

the-intersection-of-public-relations-seo-2

Search engine optimization (SEO) strategies have changed so much in the decade that the industry is starting to cross over into another popular industry – public relations (PR). Traditional PR agencies, on the other hand, are finding that they’ll have to adapt and work closely with social media to gain that competitive edge.

Historically, PR and SEO have worked in parallel as two separate practices. Now, the walls are coming down and each serves as one important piece of a larger digital marketing puzzle. With the common goal of reaching targeted audiences in a highly relevant way, SEO and PR professionals are learning the value of working together, implementing new tools and practices to exceed previous goals and expectations.

Content is the common denominator between SEO and PR, and the reality is that SEO is no longer a technical skill. In a world where dependence on technology is rapidly growing, PR and SEO can no longer exist on separate teams. Instead, it’s time for them to collaborate.

When PR practitioners use SEO appropriately, they’re more likely to draw their target audiences to their relevant and quality content. SEO is the most underutilized skill and strategy by the PR industry. This is actually a huge opportunity because PR pros aren’t using SEO the way they could be, so there’s really less competition out there, even from some Fortune 500 companies that have yet to jump on board. Small businesses tend to benefit from this merger as well.

What is becoming clearer is that SEO and PR need to work hand-in-hand to take on the largest search engine – Google.  Google after all dictates SEO rules!  A brand’s PR team should be aware of these trends and work with the media outlets they want coverage from so that they can help fill in the gaps and make reporters’ lives easier.  The majority of, if not all journalists, start off a story by doing a Google search.

What approach can PR agencies take to ensure that they make the most of the modern digital marketing space?  Well, for starters, throwing keywords at social media tactics isn’t quite the same thing as developing and implementing a plan to reach specific goals. Dropping links to news being promoted on social networks can have an impact but is difficult to sustain. You’ll need to consider the long-term value with SEO and social media to get the most of out of your public relations.

Here are ways you can integrate the two practices to create maximum boost for you/your client’s business:

  1. Identify your target audience. What are their behaviors and preferences for content, sharing, and media types? What keywords are used in a social and search context? Empathize with their content preferences and the context in which they consume and share. A blogger may have different preferences than say, a newspaper journalist.
  1. Set specific goals and measurable objectives. These include the number of mentions, comments, links, rankings, traffic, media coverage or other “engagement” metrics. Leverage tools from search engine optimization and social media marketing to track Web-based metrics.
  1. Determine your mix. For example, blogs, social networks, media sharing, and micro-blogging, to support and execute the strategy. Original content is great but often not practical or sustainable, so consider content curation mixed with original content for better results.
  1. Identify specific social tools to use. If social networks are the right channel, then determine which network works best – Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram? If you add video to the mix, is distribution limited to YouTube or does it make sense to syndicate to Vimeo or other channels?
  1. Set measurement tools in place. Web analytics and social media monitoring services are essential for collecting useful and reportable outcomes from news SEO and social promotion.
  1. Identify key individuals and resources to implement. Forecast time, internal reporting, and feedback mechanisms. The most effective social media SEO efforts for PR involve the agency or PR professionals working together with content creators, SEOs, marketers and others in a position to publish and promote content online.

Final thought: The word “optimization” can be defined differently from the early days to now, but one thing remains constant: SEO is essential to any digital marketing plan, and therefore, to any PR strategy. Without optimization, a website would inevitably fall further down search engine results pages and ultimately be ignored.

Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, CorpMedia