Communication is the Pulse of Life!

Posts tagged “media

The Russians are Coming!

fake news

Between fake news, fake apps, and “alternative” facts, there seems to be no let-up in the barrage of misleading and outright false messaging. Fake news is not new, but its amplification through social media gives it a new dimension, causing it to become more pervasive. Unlike the PR spin, fake news is completely and intentionally made up. And because of the false narrative, a slight blend of truth to a story can make it difficult to discern the accuracy of its claims. Not surprisingly, this has created an opportunity to influence and exploit for political or personal gains.

Social media has rapidly become an integral part of all of our lives – it is the primary source for news and updates. The epidemic of fake news and alternative facts spread quickly like wildfire on social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter – reaching tens of millions of people in milliseconds!  If you use any social media platform (duh!), you’ve probably been hit by some of these. Information doesn’t need to be true or funny to go viral – it can be a half-truth or even an outright lie.

Sometimes it may be something that fits a certain narrative that we have in our mind about a person or organization and we want so much for it to be true that we fall for it. On the other hand, a story is so outrageous that it’s easy to spot. No more was this more evident than during the 2016 US elections. Let’s see – “Hillary Clinton has brain Damage!”; “Pope Francis endorses Donald Trump!”; “Democrats to impose Sharia Law in Florida!”

Algorithms are part of what spreads fake news – because false stories which become popular can be pushed out by the software that runs social networks. But some programmers think computer code could also be part of the solution.

Google and Facebook have announced measures to combat fake viral stories online. Google has added a new feature, i.e. Fact Check (https://techcrunch.com/2017/04/07/fact-check-the-world-is-flat/) to Search and News to identify news reports as having been fact-checked by other news publishers and fact-checking organizations. Facebook is testing a new tool, located at the top of the News Feed to users in 14 countries (http://www.ubergizmo.com/2017/04/facebook-creates-new-tool-to-combat-fake-news/).  It is an educational project intended to help people spot and stop fake news from going viral.

Advertisers can help to solve this issue by paying closer attention to where their ads run and the environment in which their brand messages appear. For publications and news outlets – once the financial incentives for running click-bait, fake headlines disappear – the number of false news stories will decline.

What Can We Do?

  1. Beware the click bait: One way that fake news gets amplified or sensationalized is because busy readers may not look past the headline before they decide to share an article. Go through the whole article – you may find that it actually has nothing to do with the headline!
  2. Check out the news outlet: To trust or not to trust? Again, go beyond the pop-ups and loud ads. Google a site’s name and check out similar articles on various sites to determine if it’s trustworthy. Pay close attention to URL names of pages that look suspect to make sure that it’s not a spam site pretending to be a trusted source.
  3. Who’s the author: Looking at the writer of an article can reveal a lot of information about the news source. Searching through the author’s previous articles can show whether they are a legitimate journalist or have a history of “misleading and false” articles.
  4. Know your source: A lack of links or sources for claims in an article is an obvious red flag that the post may be false. Fake sites also provide numerous links to sites that appear to back up their claims, but are themselves spreading misinformation.
  5. Photos or photo-shopped: It’s common to take a photo from one event and say it is from another. Images can also be altered for a certain story. Reverse image searches on Google, Facebook, and TinEye can help you find where an image originated.
  6. Fact-check and verify: People are often drawn to stories that reinforce the way they see the world and how they feel about certain issues. It’s important to check that news stories are based on fact, rather than sharing them because they support one side of an argument to bolster belief or support.

Can We Ever Escape Fake News?

Unfortunately, there’s no one simple solution but we can start by not sharing stories just because they make us mad or tug at our heartstrings. News rightly gets an emotional rise out of us when a story is true, but when it’s false, that emotion can give power to baseless accusations and sow seeds of doubt. We can probably never escape it all together. But it’s up to each of us to use our intellect and common sense.

Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, CorpMedia


PR and the Media: Stop Killing Everything in a 1000 Mile Radius!

Blog 1

No relationship is perfect. Even Disney acclaims to this fact when ‘Frozen’ female-lead Anna, ends up with Kristoff, rather than ‘pretty boy’ Prince Hans.

At the end of the film, Anna, Princess of Arendelle eventually ends up falling for Kristoff, a true outdoorsman with a penchant for ‘eating boogers because every guy does it’, living and eating carrots with his mangy reindeer and taking an occasional bath here and there, seems like a MIS-MATCH made in heaven. He is a bit of a ‘Fixer-Upper’ anyway.

But no, we won’t be reviewing the dynamics of an animated couple’s relationship today but rather, the fact that every relationship seems to have its own quirks now and again. This holds true for corporate relationships as well, and more importantly, the one that we’re going to address in this post: The relationship between a PR firm and its corresponding media counterparts, AKA journalists and reporters.

While journalism and mass communication is thought to include broadcasting, print, advertising and public relations, the relationships between journalists and public relations have a tendency to be viewed as strained in the communication world. The question is, is this only a perceived problem or is there actual animosity between journalists and public relations professionals?

The first part of this post is to address how the media can piss off a PR firm. And before critics come barging through our office door with accusations of biasness and defamatory remarks, I will also address the flip side of the coin, how a PR firm can piss off the media. In the end, what this post aims to achieve is a simple list of what and what not to do when you are in these industries, so that we can all strive towards a common goal; to tell compelling stories, provide client satisfactions and getting the job done.

Things Media do to PR firms.

Rude Jude

Manners cost nothing and politeness is the new virtue. Journalists are tight for time, we get that. Sometimes PR firms may call in at an exceptionally bad time (or perhaps these journalists were just having a bad day) but that is no excuse for being rude. Even if you are simply not interested in our pitches, a simple ‘thanks but no thanks’ would indicate that we ought to hit our pitches right out of your ballpark. PR Pros do not set out to be pests; we are just real people trying to do our jobs.

Story Goes Livewire, but Gets Short-Circuited.

A journalist has posted a story, that’s great news, but how is the PR team supposed to promote it if they were not notified about it in the first place? As tempting as it is to Facebook/Google/Twitter/Internet stalk journalists, PR Pros can’t be on someone’s tail 24 hours at a time.

Going ‘Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride’ On PR Pros

Getting an elusive top-tiered business media interview is sort of like getting invited to the Olympics. If an article comes out from that, it’s like winning the gold medal as well. So when PR Pros secure an interview, we run back to our clients, getting them all excited and prepped. However, a few short hours before the actual interview, we realised that the journalist has ‘bumped’ our story, simply because he decided that our client was not up his alleyway. Do you want us to get a heart attack? Because that is how we get a heart attack.

Things PR firms do to the media.

Skydiving Into a Pitch Without a Parachute

This is a no-brainer because marketing and public relations rides well on personalization. There is nothing more distasteful to a journalist than receiving pitches from PR flacks that don’t do a smattering of research.

Google exists for a reason and a good one at that, for people to use it. PR Pros who take the time to really understand a particular journalist’s tastes, themes and interests afford them the attention that their pitch needs. Additionally, it would be viable for PR Pros to learn and understand exactly what they are pitching. Being able to answer basic questions about a client’s business proves that they have done their homework.

The Clingy Girlfriend Calling

Most people would agree that having one clingy girlfriend is more than enough. PR firms who continuously (and repeatedly) make cold calls to journalists are egging them in the wrong direction. Following up multiple times with a telegram, fax or pigeon carrier is not going to break through the clutter either.

Journalist or not, writing is an arduous task. It is difficult to remain focused if the lines are going off the hook every 5 minutes and from a PR firm no less (probably to call if you have received our pitch/release in the last minute). At the very least, the journalist will begin to see red.

Social Media Outreach

Our world is way too connected, and this is burning us out. A work/life balance is becoming increasingly challenging and everyone (PR Pros and Journalists alike) are making efforts to separate our personal and professional lives. Studies have shown that reporters who were pitched through social media were less likely to respond to such pitches. No surprise there, most people do employ their Facebook and Twitter accounts as a platform for entertainment and leisure. How would you like if a sales rep was selling a product through your Facebook account? To play it safe, just stick with emailing them.

No amount of good practice from either side of the industry will placate the other at a 100% and turn them into best friends. But that’s okay. Journalists and PR Pros alike exist to satisfy clients (and readers). Our job as a PR firm is to advise our clients on how best to ride these media rapids while a journalist’s aim is to report on events in a balanced fashion. Like it or not, both industries have a symbiotic relationship with one another. If PRs and journalists can accept that we need each other and move forward with mutual respect and understanding, then both of our jobs will become ultimately more satisfying.

Posted by Stacey Choo, PR Executive, CorpMedia


Conference Planning – Are You Ready to Roll?

Planners will cringe at the sight of this logistical nightmare. However the corporate and event planning industry is growing worldwide, and for PR practitioners it is almost impossible to steer clear. The job scope includes solidifying realistic objectives and budgets; choosing a venue; reviewing contracts; pleasing sponsors and participants; lodging; transportation; telecommunications; logistics and audio-visual requirements; hard and soft copy resources; and even food and beverage preferences… you get the gist. Everything seems to fall into the hands of the organisers to execute with expectations from all parties set unwaveringly at perfection.

Is there any way to pull through with all parties happy, and without pulling all your hair off its roots?

With attention to detail, patience, a smile and more than a couple of deep breaths, it can actually be a delight to put together. This past week, our team had the joy of hosting another international conference in collaboration with a longstanding client Aqua Culture Asia Pacific. Reflecting on this particular project and others, we’d like to share some pivotal pointers for your next successful conference planning:

Plan more-than-enough setup time
In planning events, there is always a race against time. With company or industry-wide conferences, there is no leeway for subpar performance. Professionalism is what they are paying for. Have an estimate of how much time you need to get everything and everyone in place. On top of that, add at least another 15-30 minutes so that you do not have a room full of workers frantically running around when the first delegate arrives. At this particular conference, we made sure we had everything set up and ready before 7.15 am when registration started at 7.30 am.

Also, always have a packing list, and keep it close to you!

Confirm and reconfirm your vendors
Average vendors serve multiple clients across different industries and purposes at any one time. It is inevitable that they have a lot to remember. Always get both written and verbal confirmation 48 hours before setup time. Email confirmations are still important as they help explicitly spell out your expectations, and also serve as evidence of your exchange.

Pre-empt and have contingency plans

What happens in case of unfavourable weather?

What happens if there is a competing event at your venue?

What happens if there is a closure of venue?

What happens if you have to cancel your event?

These are not easy to plan for, but if left to the day of the event itself, it will be a disaster! Pre-empt as many adverse situations and plot out contingency plans at least two weeks in advance to allow for good measure. Then, even if you have to cancel the event, you will have a system of information dissemination to all of your guests.

Schedule a walkthrough with your clients and team
In the course of planning, emails, orders and spreadsheets would definitely have been exchanged in communication of details between all parties. Organisers should not make the mistake of thinking that it is sufficient to rely on documents to paint a picture of how the event will run. Walk through the program and your vision with your clients and staff onsite whenever you can. Play out each moment and its details as though it were happening right in front of you. This helps ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Delegate, delegate, delegate
As the director, you undoubtedly know the details best and will be the one running the show. Always make sure you have a checklist ready, outlining responsibilities with clear expectations for each member of the team. With that being said, have faith in your team and don’t be afraid to delegate. Avoid the trap of running the show alone and micro-managing, no matter how small the event may be. Things are bound to happen and they work best when you have a team you trust battling alongside. Also, don’t be afraid to spend a couple of hundred more to hire additional hands. Labour shortage can actually cause bigger issues than going over budget.

Remember, your client’s success is your success. So get yourself as engaged and invested in your client’s project as you possibly can. This way, you understand where they are coming from and where they need to go in terms of achieving their conference objectives. Your job is to get them there – as smoothly as possible.

Posted by Yiwen Ng, PR Executive, Corporate Media


KEY MESSAGES – WHAT’S YOUR STORY?

The first and most important component of any PR campaign strategy is to establish your core message(s) at the outset. Clearly defined core or key messages provide the opportunity to craft your image and brand, and communicate them to your target market. Without a firm understanding of what your company’s brand equities are and what your message is, the public will not have a firm grasp of what sets you apart from the competition.

Key Messages: What?

  • Key messages are bite-sized summations of more complex brand, company and product messages.
  • They allow you to control communications and enhance relationships with your target audiences.
  • They are designed to work out what you really need to get across on the topic to the audiences.

Key Messages: Why?

  • They give you control of the conversation or interview.
  • They are true, concise and interesting.
  • They allow you to share, inform or educate your audience
  • They keep you on track.
  • They let you respond thoughtfully and knowledgeably.
  • They tell your story.
  • They provide consistency to your overall marketing message and line up with your brand.

How to develop your key message(s)

Effective key messages help to crystallize thoughts and opinions about your organization. They are the words and phrases you use consistently in media releases, media interviews, marketing materials, websites and sales pitches. Here are some important tips to get you started.

Know your audience. As with everything else in communications, your audience defines how you will tailor your message and method of communicating your message. Don’t communicate the importance of owning a credit card to an audience of teenagers.

What are your company’s objectives? You key message should reflect your company’s business goals and objectives. Your message should communicate a call to action that will in turn help your company reach your goals and objectives. Your message should never go against the goals of your company. If your company is selling soda, your key message should probably avoid talking about the amount of sugar in your product.

Follow the 4Cs. And we’re not talking condos, cash, credit cards and cars!  Your message should be clear, concise, correct and complete. It is important to have only a few key messages – 3 to 4 are ideal. Your message should be clear and concise making it easy to understand. Your message should get straight to the point and be comprehensible – stay away from using jargon and complicated, long-winded sentences. Make certain that the facts or figures in your messages are correct and include all the relevant and supporting information.

The elevator speech. Think of your message as an elevator speech. If you were riding an elevator with a potential client or customer, could you recite your key message in under a minute and without creating any questions before your client steps off the elevator? If not, you may need to rethink your key message.

The practice of developing key messages can be very helpful as you prepare to discuss a crisis situation with the media.  It can also be really helpful when working with a new client, to make sure you and the client are on the same page.  Key messages can serve as a guide when putting together public relations and marketing copy and can help to ensure that your copy is getting the right points across. 

Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, Corporate Media


STAYING RELEVANT IN A TIRESOME WORLD

Information overload is the one thing that all of us in media and communications can relate to. Given the evolving nature of the industry these days, we can’t just expect it to stop there though. Enter its successor – audience fatigue. Translation – it quite simply means the audience is getting tired. Tired of what exactly? Being overwhelmed by the plethora of options, being constantly bombarded with Tweets and Facebook postings, emails and the endless news cycles – we can’t seem to catch a break from the media any where we look.

socialfatigue

Don’t blame yourself too much though. With unparalleled diversity, digression and the vast availability of choice, the audience retention rate is naturally harder to maintain.

And so it begins – an endless pursuit to capture (or re-capture) your audience and inherently, a higher probability of inducing audience fatigue. Here are some ways to stay clear of the danger zone.

Shake it up

Despite exciting and original ideas, we often are forced to follow a tried and tested formula. This could be due to a lack of budget, deadlines or insufficient resources. Whatever the case and as hard as it may be, you just have to inject a fresh dose of creativity and get yourself out of that darned rut. While you may want to offer a unified, thematic look in the portrayal of your company, it doesn’t have to mean monotony and dishing out the same things. Don’t be lazy – look at things from a different perspective, get as creative as you can and give yourself a facelift ever so often to stay relevant and enticing.

Spread it out

This is an extension of the previous point. Think about all the options available to you and work them to your advantage. Switch around and meddle with new formats and technologies to see which option provides the best fit. As much as it may seem daunting, strategize wisely and there’s nothing you should be afraid of. A new platform presents a new audience to possibly engage with. In addition, the more places the audience can find your message and you, the higher the chance of response and engagement!

Remembering not to forget

The importance of having an emotional connection with the audience has been emphasized upon more than enough, but we forget them sometimes in our rush to meet deadlines, targets, objectives, quotas and other “more important stuff”. Strike different chords with stories, illustrations, prose, or maybe even with music and motion graphics. Don’t be afraid to try new ways to keep the emotional engagement alive. With every media or communication plan set in place, take a step back and ask yourself if you’d be moved by what has been done. It is important to be honest; otherwise, you’d only be lying to yourself.

Hold up, wait a minute

However, admittedly sometimes taking a break is the best thing that can be done. This is especially true if your company is doing something with scheduled regularity, like a daily or weekly program. Sometimes, being under the radar actually generates buzz so don’t immediately disregard a break. Take time out to regenerate and when you do intend to make a comeback, have something eye popping and wonderful up your sleeves – titillate your audience with your reappearance and win them over once more. And perhaps this time, with more spontaneity and less structure and rigour because most times quality trumps quantity!

All in all, the most crucial thing to keep in mind is that when the audience wants to engage, they are less liable to feel the fatigue.

By Yasmin Md Basir, PR Associate @ Corporate Media Services