Know Your Audience, Understand Your Brand’s Voice, and When to Report ROI

By Simran Kumar, News Generation, Inc.

brand1

From L–R: Emily Zeigenfuse, Josh Habursky and Mike Fulton

On Thursday, September 15, PRSA-NCC’s Professional Development committee hosted “Social Media: Staying on Message and on Brand.” Moderated by the Asher Agency’s Mike Fulton, with panelists Josh Habursky, Director of Advocacy, Independent Community Bankers of America, and Emily Zeigenfuse, Senior Digital Strategist, Hager Sharp, the discussion focused around the changing social media landscape. Habursky and Zeigenfuse offered tips on how to stay on brand and maximize budgets while researching audiences on the appropriate social media platform.

Habursky started the discussion by emphasizing the importance of understanding the brand’s voice and message. Zeigenfuse continued by encouraging PR pros to be sure to craft messaging that resonates with the desired target audience. She also talked about creating content that is unique to each channel and understanding who is using which channel.

brand2When it comes to staying “on brand,” Habursky said it’s necessary to know what a brand’s “untouchables” are. For example, the McDonald’s arches are signature to the McDonald’s brand. As communications professionals, it would be unreasonable to try to change something so iconic. According to Zeigenfuse, it’s important to go back to basics, and understand what a brand or client’s end goals are in terms of social media campaigns and then work backward to meet them.

For all social media campaigns, the ability to show ROI to management is key. Habursky talked about being sure to show tangible results. Zeigenfuse echoed Habursky, and said the ideal measure of success depends on a client and their end goals. As for how often to report results, both Habursky and Zeigenfuse said it depends on whether a campaign is paid or unpaid, and that when it’s a paid campaign, it’s often necessary to report more often to determine if messaging should be changed.

brand3If you’re struggling to convince senior management to pursue a social media strategy, Habursky stressed the importance of having an advocate within your organization that’s going to be first follower. Zeigenfuse also talked about being able to show senior leadership why it’s important to have a presence on social media. When collaborating with digital influencers, Zeigenfuse talked about the importance of trying to work with someone who is passionate about the specific organization’s cause. Haburksy stressed the importance of building a relationship and showing an influencer the value of getting involved with the organization.

As for future social media changes, Haburksy said he’s recently looked at what presidential candidates are doing as they usually use innovative techniques. For Zeigenfuse, one of the next big changes will be related to content publishing.

The lively discussion with Habursky and Zeingenfuse offered the audience takeaways for staying on message and on brand on social media and tips for keeping up with changing trends in the industry.

For details on upcoming PRSA-NCC events, visit www.prsa-ncc.org/events.

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Networking 3.0

by Patty Nicastri, Hager Sharp

Networking 3.0 EventSnapchat, LinkedIn, Email, Twitter—the number of tools you can use to network is constantly growing. So how do you navigate social media to connect with someone in a meaningful way? How do you connect with influencers in the age of Networking 3.0?

That was the topic of discussion at the February 18 professional development workshop “Networking 3.0: Building Communications Relationships, Creating Opportunities, and Balancing Privacy.” Matt Bennett, senior vice president and D.C. practice lead at Racepoint Global; Anthony Shop, chief strategy officer and co-founder of Social Driver; and Paige Lavender, senior political editor at Huffington Post shared tips and tools to help develop strategic and mutually beneficial relationships. As panelists pointed out, it is possible to over-network and cross the line. By understanding some of the “Do’s and Don’ts” of networking, you can ensure that’s not you.

First the “Do’s”

Networking 3.0 event

Left to Right: Mike Fulton, Anthony Shop, Matt Bennett and Paige Lavender

DO develop a relationship. According to Anthony, “Often, we’re so obsessed with telling our client’s story, we forget the people we want to reach are telling their own stories. The question is not, ‘How can I interrupt your story?’ it’s, ‘How can I become a part of it?’” That means you have to bring something to the table when you reach out to reporters or other influencers. Listening and then responding is the key to building a strong relationship—just pushing out content is not. Relationships must be mutually beneficial.

DO understand who you’re talking to. If you pitch a reporter, you should know what they write about. Racepoint Global uses Field Facts, a proprietary technology that helps identify, analyze, and target journalists, bloggers, and other influencers. Using a tool to keep track of influencer information is a way to be strategic about building these relationships. If a reporter wrote one article on a topic several years ago, it does not mean they currently write about that topic. Also, you should know where to reach the person. Sometimes, Twitter is not the most appropriate place to reach out to someone. Instead, an email or phone call may be more appropriate. Do your research first.

DO utilize social networks. There are so many apps and networks to choose from and, according to panelists, no one is really maximizing the potential of these networks. You can use LinkedIn to see who mutual connections are. Anthony uses LinkedIn to identify mutual connections and will then ask those connections to introduce him via email or phone or in person. Tools like Rapportive can be helpful for identifying these connections. If you’re trying to connect on Twitter, Paige suggests adding to the conversation instead of just following and retweeting. Retweets can be lost if there are a lot of them, but if you add commentary, you’re more likely to be noticed by influencers.

Now the “DON’Ts”

DON’T act “creepy.” Paige suggests thinking of someone’s online presence as a hierarchy. Facebook and Instagram are personal, while Twitter, LinkedIn, and email might be more appropriate for reaching out. Additionally, if you come across information about someone’s family online, it’s best not to bring that up. According to Matt, “If you don’t know the person, family is off limits.” Additionally, if you meet someone and instantly follow and connect with them on every platform, it might be off-putting. A good rule of thumb: If you aren’t sure what the etiquette is on a particular social network, ask someone who is.

DON’T cast a wide, impersonal net. According to Paige, personalization is key. Taking time to personalize a pitch makes her more likely to respond or pass it along. This ties in closely with understanding who it is you are talking to.

DON’T reach out on networks you don’t use. If you only use Twitter to pitch reporters, you’ll probably be ignored. It can come off as impersonal and inauthentic. Also, if you only tweet once every few months, there’s probably a better medium for you to use to connect with an influencer.

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4 Twitter Tips for Businesses and Organizations

By Sabrina McGowan

The explosion, variety and evolving nature of social media has created both PR opportunities and challenges for businesses and organizations. In an October 1 Independent Public Relations Alliance program, Lisa Nicholls, CEO of Tira! Strategies, offered her suggestions for leveraging Twitter to create greater interaction between you and your followers, and to increase your numbers.

Lisa Nicholls, CEO of Tira! Strategies

Lisa Nicholls, CEO of Tira! Strategies

  1. Define your audience. Customers, members, business partners and vendors are just a few of the people you should be following on Twitter. Professional and industry organizations as well as local businesses will likely produce additional followers for you, too. Don’t forget to follow your competitors for insight on how they’re engaging with your ideal customers.
  1. Build a content strategy. If you want to know what type of content you should share on Twitter, follow other accounts and decide what you like about them. You can also monitor conversations by using the “search” function to find examples of content you like. It’s important that you find the sweet spot between what your target audience wants to hear and what you want to say that promotes your business. So add value through your tweets and give people a reason to follow you. Lisa suggests following the 80/20 rule for your content strategy – 80% follower interaction (retweets, favorites, replies) and 20% offers. Creating a calendar will help you stay on task.
  1. Expand your reach. To get more interaction with your tweets, you need to be visual and creative. Your tweets should encourage immediate action from your followers, so include offers and calls to action. And don’t hesitate to ask for replies. You can increase your followers by putting your Twitter handle everywhere – be sure to add a follow button to your website and email signature, and ask your existing customers to follow you, too.
  1. Use Twitter ads effectively. Did you know that the click-through rate on Twitter is higher than Facebook – 3.6% vs. 0.4%? Twitter ads can be a great tool to increase followers and engagement as well as drive more traffic to your website. According to Lisa, Twitter ads are also great for lead generation. For example, you can grow your list via an ad that asks followers to enter their email address to receive a coupon or other offer. Keep in mind that Twitter ads can be pricey and that the most effective ads use photos and brief videos (under 30 seconds).

The key to Twitter is conversation, so use it to communicate with your followers, and let your personality shine. By focusing on how your products and services benefit your customers, you can help ensure your Twitter success.

Sabrina McGowan is the owner of SQM Communications, bringing creativity and integration to the communications efforts of non-profits, trade associations and forward-thinking businesses. Sabrina is also the marketing chair of the Independent Public Relations Alliance. You can follow her on Twitter at @sabrinaqmcgowan.

How To Develop Your Own Social Media Engagement Index

By Katie Delahaye Paine

Forget engagement, affection, influence, and whatever other social media or mainstream media scores you’re debating. What we really need for a public relations measurement metric is a Kick Butt Index (KBI). My KBI idea grew out of a recent conversation I had. A former client of mine described his measurement needs as follows:

“I want something so that when the business development guy or the product manager storms into my office and says ‘Lockheed just kicked our butt on this one!’  I’ll have an answer.”

What does “Kicked Our Butt” really mean?

The crux of his problem—and similar problems for most of the rest of the PR world—is that no one agrees up front what “kicked our butt” means. How do you really define success? Does it mean more front page headlines or better message communication? More fans on Facebook or more retweets?

Just about every organization I deal with has different PR / social media programs, with different goals and audiences, which means that every organization I deal with has a slightly different definition of what Kicking Butt really means. And then within every organization there are probably seven different definitions, depending on whether you are in sales, marketing, finance, competitive intelligence, or PR.

If your definition of Kicking Butt means more coverage than the other guy, then you need to define what that coverage should look like. Are key messages most important? Getting your CEO or thought leader quoted? Getting your brand in a headline? Are there myths that you need to dispel?

I’ve been helping organizations develop customized KBI’s for nearly a decade, and here’s the process.

Call a meeting with your boss. In that meeting, agree on what success means for the program. If someone says “lots of coverage” remind them that not all coverage is desirable. Get everyone to describe what a perfect 10 story looks like for your program. Then determine what your worst nightmare mention looks like. And maybe clips don’t matter at all. Maybe “kicking butt” really means “more unique visits,” or some other metric. That’s up to you.

In the process of figuring this out, most organizations do one or more of the following:

  1. List desired outcomes of a program, department, launch or whatever it is that you are promoting.
  2. List key messages and rank them by importance.
  3. List strategic initiatives and rank them by importance.
  4. List most influential media sources
  5. List key target stakeholders.
  6. List key competitors.

Not only does this process get you a clear, agreed upon definition of “kicking butt,” but it also sets you well on the way toward a perfect measurement system. By getting everyone to agree on a standard definition of success, you can far more easily judge your performance in the marketplace, relative to your competition.

If you want to develop your own custom “social media engagement index” start by referring to your goals. What are the priorities and objectives of your specific program? What sort of engagement do you want to encourage? If you are a new organization and trying to build a following, a like might be an acceptable level of engagement. If you are an established brand with a message to get across, then a like or even a short comment may not be sufficient.

The most important thing is to start with a discussion of your goals and objectives, the perceived path to purchase, and the role that senior leadership believes that your social media engagement program plays in that path to purchase. That will determine the weightings and the specific elements of your index.

Be clear about whether you are measuring “owned” social media or “earned” social media. For “owned” a KBI might look something like the suggested scoring below, and would be applied to all your content.

Earned Media - Kick Butt Index

Social Media Engagement Index for “Owned” Media – how are people interacting with your content

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earned Media - Kick Butt Index

Social Media Engagement Index for “Earned” Media – what people are saying about you

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each item of content receives a score, then both the total score and the average score per month or week is calculated. Ideally you would collect three to six months of data and correlate it with sales leads, conversions, or some other business metric to most accurately determine which actions correlate most closely with the business outcomes.

There are any number of tools, like Simply Measured or Sprout Social, that will provide most of this information. You will need a web analytics tool like Google Analytics or Simply Measured to find the number of clicks to specific URLs and to determine correlation rates with web traffic.

Register to attend a workshop on traditional and social media measurement with expert Katie Delahaye Paine on Thursday, March 19, from 8-11:30 a.m. at the U.S. Navy Memorial located at 701 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. Register and learn more at PRSA-NCC.org

“Taking it to the Tweets: How Digital Advocacy Will Shape Public Affairs in 2015” Covers Best Practices and Looking Ahead

By Robert Krueger, director of public relations and social media at the Urban Land Institute

PRSA-NCC Panel

From left to right: Anthony Shop, Adora Jenkins, Allie Walker, Phillip Lovell

Are Washington policymakers and staff actually paying attention to your social media posts? It may be surprisingly good news to public affairs offices that policymakers spend a considerable amount of time listening to rather than broadcasting their own messages. That was the panel consensus at a recent PRSA-NCC event entitled “Taking it to the Tweets: How Digital Advocacy Will Shape Public Affairs in 2015.”

The morning panel focused on what digital tools could reach decision makers on Capitol Hill and produce real results. Panel moderator and Co-Founder of Social Driver, Anthony Shop, shared the results of a recent Congressional study on what had more influence: email campaigns, a single Facebook comment, or a Twitter “thunderclap.” To attendees’ amazement, Congressional staff rated the individual Facebook comment as the most influential since they appear the most authentic and least manufactured.

Adora Jenkins, Vice President of External Affairs at the Information Technology Industry Council and Former Press Secretary to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, helped put this into context explaining that government agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is limited in what it can broadcast since its social media posts automatically become official responses and part of government record. Because of this, government agencies will use social media platforms primarily as listening tools in order to analyze the sentiment of their constituents.

However, the ability of public affairs offices and lobbyists to take advantage of a social media-attentive Washington culture can be tricky. Panelist Allie Walker, communications specialist at Honda North America and former press secretary to Congressman Dave Camp and the Ways and Means Committee, stressed that the key is giving your public affairs audience the representation you intended. Speaking on reputation management through new digital tools, Walker said that her company focuses on creatively sharing what they have, what they do, and who they are through storytelling. She noted that this starts with listening at both the local and national level, building your image, and then acquiring a base of digital allies that will help communicate your message to policymakers.

PRSA-NCC Panel

From left to right: Susan Matthews Apgood, Allie Walker, Adora Jenkins, Phillip Lovell, Anthony Shop

Phillip Lovell, Vice President for Policy and Advocacy of the Comprehensive School Reform at Alliance for Excellent Education, provided the most detailed example of how a targeted digital campaign can get noticed by policymakers. Targeting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with his 99in5 campaign, his advocacy organization used visual technology to increase awareness to people outside the Washington Beltway. With the goal of getting over 99 percent of U.S. schools to adopt high speed broadband internet within a 5-year period of time, his organization asked students, teachers, and administrators to create and post online videos on why reliable and fast Wi-Fi is important to their school.

What made social media campaigns, like 99in5, such a success was its authentic nature. When digital advocacy campaigns ask constituents to be involved and help create content, a message becomes more genuine due to the fact that you have actual people advocating on behalf of your campaign. Panelists emphasized that whether it is an organically created video or a retweet, it is seen as mobilization by policymakers, and they will surely take notice.

 

Brand relevance and the art of finding your sweet spot

“Relevance” is a word that D.C. marketing expert Bob London likes to use when talking to clients or giving branding advice to groups like the Independent Public Relations Alliance.

Bob London speaking

Marketing expert Bob London was the guest speaker at June’s IPRA luncheon.

“It sounds simplistic, but in every way, be relevant. Striving for relevance hits all of the touch points of personal branding,” he told a group of about 30 PR practitioners attending last month’s IPRA luncheon in Tysons Corner.

The veteran D.C. marketer is the principal of London, Ink, a firm he started in 1995 to help companies solve business challenges through effective marketing and communications strategies. He often steps in as a “virtual vice president of marketing” to provide interim leadership and execution.

As far as staying relevant, London offered three prescriptions for PR practitioners:

  1. Figure out what you’re great at and make it your brand specialty.
  2. Listen to your clients so you can address their “elevator rants.”
  3. Market yourself through LinkedIn and other social media.

London observed that most PR and marketing people are good at many things, but they are great at only a few. “What engages you the most?” he asked. “What excites you and makes you want to go to work? And what kind of work or client do you dread?”

He noted that we often pride ourselves in being generalists—able to do everything and anything for a client—but in reality we should be focusing on what we do best. “There is great power in being specific. You have a much better chance of succeeding. Find your sweet spot and develop that.”

A few years ago, London took it upon himself to visit clients and old associates to ask them what they thought his strengths were. “I was hurt that some things weren’t mentioned, but that exercise taught me a lot. It helped me refocus my business. Now, every summer I reevaluate what I’m doing.”

London recommended Michael Port’s book, “Book Yourself Solid,” which suggests that entrepreneurs spend more time with the clients they love working with and dump those “dud” clients who frustrate and drain them. “I’m not saying that you should just dump all of your clients overnight,” London said, “but gradually you do need to weed out the duds.”

London is also big believer in listening. “Every client has an ‘elevator rant,’” he noted. “This is what keeps them up at night. It’s the thing they would tell you in the space of an elevator ride that is really bothering them. You have to be able address those rants if you want to succeed.”

London has been able to create added value by translating his clients’ rants into marketing solutions. “Once you’ve talked to customers and better understand their concerns,” he said, “questions about strategy, message and channels just fall into place. It has taken my services to a whole new level.”

London also spoke of the need for solo practitioners to constantly market themselves. “I probably devote 20 to 30 percent of my waking hours to networking,” he confided. His favorite social media tool is LinkedIn. “I can’t say enough good things about it,” he said. “If you have a specific service to offer, I would suggest trying LinkedIn ads.”

London also uses other social media and his blog to get his name out there, and he said he has had success with his weekly “Drivetime Marketing” video series posted on YouTube.

Jay Morris is president of Jay Morris Communications LLC, an independent PR and marketing firm in Alexandria, Va. He serves on the PRSA-NCC and IPRA boards and blogs at waywardjourney.com.

Will you be the next PRSA-NCC Social Media Rock Star?

Trophy Winner

Did you know that 20 percent of our day is spent on social networks? I admit that first thing in the morning, I’m checking Facebook and Twitter for the latest news. We want to see, as well as share content, stories, tweets and advice through our various social networks.

What better way to celebrate our time using social media than to recognize public relations professionals that help share content for the National Capital Chapter of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA-NCC). PRSA-NCC’s Marketing Committee is starting a new program to acknowledge members who help promote and share information about our events. The committee will monitor Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and each month we will announce the PRSA-NCC Social Media Rock Star.

PRSA-NCC understands the value of social media. It has helped raise the visibility for our events. For example, this year we used various social networks to promote Social Media Week in DC. PRSA’s event had one of the highest attended professional development events in our recent history, with 50 percent of the audience being non-members.

Here are some statistics about how much we have grown since 2011:

• Facebook = 350/593 (June 2013)
• Twitter = 1,000/2,066 (June 2013)
• LinkedIn = 350/1,104 (June 2013)
• YouTube = 1,284/13,000 views (April 2013)

Social media is a powerful tool for PRSA-NCC as well as our members and their clients. Are you going to be our next Social Media Rock Star?

To participate, PRSA-NCC members should use the hashtag #PRSANCC or re-share material on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. If you aren’t following PRSA-NCC yet, here are our different social media handles and links:

Twitter: @PRSA_NCC
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/30633095702/
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/PRSANCC-Public-Relations-Society-Americas-828017/

We want to raise the visibility of our active members who help us promote our different events, but board members and committee chairs will are not eligible for the award. At the end of the year, the Marketing Committee will recognize all the winners during its annual holiday party.

So, start sharing content today, including my blog!! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.