Political PR: 7 Brands Show Us How to Do Corporate Social Responsibility Right

Sometimes political activism comes for your brand, whether you’re ready for it or not, and sometimes it’s part of your brand strategy. Either way, the outcome can be extreme. Whether you’ve chosen to enter the political fray or been dragged into it, your approach to the situation can result in your audience feeling even closer to you and the values you represent, or you can find yourself in a major brand-defining media crisis. The gulf between these two outcomes often depends on how much your position reflects the current social zeitgeist, the sincerity of your message, and how well you’ve navigated tricky PR waters.

Brands That Take Their Corporate Social Responsibility Seriously

As comms pros, continually monitoring social channels and media outlets, you may have already noticed that more and more brands are asserting their values via ad campaigns, press releases, social posts, and C-Suite interviews. Here are seven cases (in no particular order) where brands took a stand in accordance with their brand values and how this position impacted public perception.

1. Airbnb: Opening Doors to Some, Closing Them to Others

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Airbnb has faced plenty of criticism, both for their business model and for their advertising. However, one thing they’ve shown they are very good at is using technology to coordinate those looking for housing with those who can provide it. They demonstrated this when Hurricane Harvey hit last weekend, eliminating service fees that would normally go to the platform. On the flip side, last month in Charlottesville, in a show of brand values, Airbnb didn’t allow neo-Nazis, the KKK, or white supremacists to use their booking service when these groups showed up for a rally that turned violent and led to the death of counter-protestor, Heather Heyer.

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On the left we see Airbnb’s social sentiment score for July 2017 and on the right for August. The data shows that their audience is responding well to their support for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

PR Takeaway: Aiding those in need of housing during a crisis isn’t as politically charged as denying housing to white supremacists, but both share positive values (brand or otherwise) with many in the Airbnb community. Both moves were easy wins.

2. Lyft: Taking the High Road on Equal Pay

We’ve covered Lyft’s very public donations before. Since much of their marketing strategy is to position themselves as the “anti-Uber”, Lyft has given to a number of causes over the last year as Uber continues to fall into crisis disarray. Lyft, it seems, has decided that they have a fighting chance if they compete for the hearts (and wallets) of consumers via brand values.

PR Takeaway: While it may be tempting to call out competitors and indulge in some schadenfreude, taking the high road and distinguishing yourself via example speaks volumes. As befitting their comms strategy, Lyft broadcasts their take on corporate social responsibility via their social channels, aligning themselves with values that their community has shown to be important in their stand against their primary competitor.

3. Target: Hitting the Mark with Trans Customers and Employees

In North Carolina, a law banning individuals from using the bathroom of their choice (instead of requiring them to use restrooms that align with the gender they were born with) went into effect. Not only did Target support restroom choice, they doubled down at all their retail locations. To ensure their inclusive stance was crystal clear, they released a press release that stated: “We believe that everyone—every team member, every guest, and every community—deserves to be protected from discrimination, and treated equally. Consistent with this belief, Target supports the federal Equality Act, which provides protections to LGBT individuals,
and opposes action that enables discrimination.”

While conservatives tried to launch a boycott (via hashtag #BoycottTarget) against Target, supporters launched a competing hashtag #ThankYouTarget. To reiterate their stance, CEO Brian Cornell and various comms team members have gone on national TV and given interviews in media restating their tolerant bathroom policy. Since it hasn’t impacted their stock price, it was definitely the right move.

PR Takeaway: Whatever your brand values are, be consistent. It’s hard to preach equality and inclusivity but then enforce a trans bathroom ban at certain locations. Once your organization has made a possibly divisive decision, enforce it across the board and make sure that all levels of the C-Suite are brought onboard and have the talking points/data to back up your corporate brand values.

4. Tiki Brand: Turning the Lights Out on Hate Groups

Tiki Brand

Tiki Brand learned an eye-opening PR lesson in early August: activism can come for your brand. When a Charlottesville white supremacist, neo-Nazi, and KKK rally turned aggressive, photos splashed across news outlets such as New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, and The Sacramento Bee. The images revealed angry white men (in their 20s and 30s) wielding Tiki Brand’s easily identifiable torches. It was in stark contrast to typical associations with their product as decorations at fun events and kitschy references to Polynesian culture. Now they were in danger of being associated with angry hate groups. Tiki Brand immediately issued a Facebook renunciation. It is only in our current reality that being against neo-Nazis, the KKK, and white supremacy might be considered a political stance. But, let’s be real, those who support the ideals of Tiki Brand aren’t likely to find fault with this stance.

Tiki Brand Values

A quick look at Tiki Brand’s media intelligence dashboard shows us that a spike in brand mentions correspond with a precipitous dip in sentiment. This data serves as a clear indication to its communications team that the brand is in trouble.

PR Takeaway:Whether or not you take a stance in response to a controversy, it’s important that you’re always listening for unexpected associations to your brand. When necessary, reasserting your brand values might be a good idea, especially if there’s a potential for your brand to be redefined in the public’s eyes. You’ll want to have a crisis comms plan in place, in case this situation arises.

5. GoDaddy: Pulling the Plug on “Morally Offensive Activity”

As the largest domain registrar in the world, GoDaddy facilitates the online presence of many a brand. Consumers zeroed in on this role as they lobbied GoDaddy to eject the Daily Stormer, a well-known neo-Nazi website from the service. However, GoDaddy supported DS via a subsidiary, even though their website warns users: “(Do) not even think about using our service” to partake in “morally offensive activity.” It was not until the Daily Stormer’s response to the death of Heather Heyer at Charlottesville, that GoDaddy decided the site was morally offensive after all. Whether or not this seeming inconsistency in policy will come back to bite them or not, only time will tell.

GoDaddy corporate social responsibility

GoDaddy’s weekly sentiment score for August (shown in blue) is well below August sentiment, quickly revealing that the brand was in trouble as its audience criticized the company for not acting on brand values.

PR Takeaway: If you state your brand values publicly, consider sticking to them and making your boundaries clear. When your corporate social responsibility is called out, you’ll be expected to stick to your values or be questioned for not taking them seriously.

6. Merck: Prescribing Diversity

Kenneth C. Frazier, one of five African American CEOs at a Fortune 500 and the only African American on Trump’s CEO Council most likely wrestled with the decision to leave this high-profile post. But given Trump’s “both sides” statement in the wake of Charlottesville, Frazier responded, “As CEO of Merck, and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.” While his departure was seen as political by Trump and received condemnation from him via a tweet, it was followed by other CEOs withdrawing from the Council and drew praise from other Fortune 500 CEOs. This act of conscience served as a reminder to other CEOs that they had an obligation to their employees and shareholders to support diversity.

PR Takeaway: Your brand does not exist in a vacuum. Consider how your brand values align with community values and act accordingly. Taking a sincere, relevant stand will undoubtedly bring you attention. If you’re monitoring your social and media mentions, you might find the community approves of your integrity.

7. Proctor & Gamble: Spotlighting Difficult Dialog

Proctor & Gamble, the largest consumer goods company in the US and home to many highly recognizable brands, including Tide, Crest toothpaste, Gillette, and Pantene took a very personal approach in affirming its commitment to the African American community. While many of the brands we’ve looked at address this same theme by directly responding to events in the news, Proctor & Gamble never references today’s headlines. Instead, they’ve produced a moving spot focusing on Black mothers as they discuss racial bias with their children. The commercial seemingly opens on the 1950s and goes through every decade to modern day, showing that having “the talk” has been a tradition for Black Americans and hinting that racism has been ongoing and isn’t over, even as the talk has adjusted to the times. While the spot can be seen as subtly acknowledging Proctor & Gamble’s presence in the American home, no products are visible or promoted, allowing its social message to stand on its own. And while think pieces from both sides of the aisle have weighed in on the success of the campaign, it looks like social media approves by embracing the branded hashtag #talkaboutbias.

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Proctor & Gamble have received nearly universal support for their spot, as a search for brand mentions related to the commercial reveals. We clearly see that their approach to addressing a sensitive subject was a good one.

PR Takeaway: If you have resources to back up your brand values, you might be in the perfect position to push a timely conversation as part of your corporate social responsibility. While there is a chance that a segment of your audience might consider the move opportunistic (or even offensive), if the message is on-brand and socially resonant, you’ll assert yourself as a voice for the community and open dialog, rather than self-interest or divisiveness. Launching a hashtag as a vehicle for interaction also gives you a leg up on understanding how the community receives your act of corporate social responsibility.

Knowing how to steer the conversation is an invaluable skill to modern PR pros, get a refresher by registering for our upcoming webinar: Crisis, Not Catastrophe.

The Missing Link Between PR Professionals and the C-Suite (Part 1)

Every PR professional will face this question regularly throughout their career – and for many it’s a daily consideration: How do I get the attention of senior executives when they have so many competing demands?

Whether you are working within a business or for an agency, getting the C-Suite behind your campaigns can be the difference between getting the resources you need to run a successful programme and never getting an idea off the plans.

But as in every other part of your PR practice, bridging the gap to the C-Suite involves understanding the needs of your audience, and planning to deliver your message accordingly. And from a PR perspective, the C-suite will want to hear about three key things more than any other: trends, opportunities and threats.

Trends, opportunities and threats are important to senior executives because they can have an immediate impact on the performance of the business (and their own daily schedule).

Using the latest monitoring tools, PR professionals have access to valuable insights that can not only highlight risks but also identify valuable areas of potential growth and development. Consider the following: is there a potential competitor who will disrupt the market? Has the government announced a new policy that will affect business operations? Or, is there an industry or social trend that presents an opportunity to drive more sales?

Monitoring and analysing the market is a daily discipline for PR professionals, with analysis of trends and consumer behaviours that can now be gained in real-time. Providing the C-suite with a daily digest of meaningful and valuable insights can help ensure they see PR as a practical tool to help them chart a course for the organisation.

However, senior executives are busy people, so cut straight to the facts and avoid using PR jargon.

While it’s important to measure PR activity, the C-suite are more interested in the outcomes. This means they want to know how your PR efforts have gained them customers, increased their sales or boosted employee productivity – which can’t be measured in Facebook follows or total number of articles published.

Instead, measure your activity using business metrics. Target your reporting to tangible results: how many consumers shared the content, bought their product and proceeded to tell another consumer about it? Other measurement tools include, surveys, landing pages, online vouchers or sales codes on social media. These will provide the C-suite with real evidence that PR provides a return on their investment.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn, and was written by Mimrah Mahmood. For more of these insights, please connect with Mimrah on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mimrah

 

mimrah-mahmood

About the Speaker:  As the Asia-Pacific Regional Director of Media Solutions at Meltwater, Mimrah Mahmood help organisations across the Asia-Pacific break down media data (social, print and other media) and make business decisions from insights; create a framework to progressively and scientifically track efforts in PR and marketing; build a road-map to improve your communication plan; and identify opportunities and threats that arise from competitors. As a leader within a multi-award winning company, Mimrah is proud to be advocating better measurement practices in PR, Brand and Strategic Communications for many of the largest MNCs in Asia-Pacific.

Infographic: Supercharge Your Marketing with Statistics

How do you captivate and appeal to an audience with an elusive attention span?

Supercharge your marketing with statistics and you’ll grab them with take-notice data!

This infographic unpacks how to use metrics and data in a powerful way and harness the full strength of your marketing materials. Magnify the impact of your messages by adding statistics with authority. As PR and marketing pros, tapping into that extra bit of gravitas could be what is needed to break through the static to be heard.

Places to find great marketing statistics include:

  • Statista is one of the world’s largest statistics portals. It provides access to relevant data from over 18,000 sources.
  • Market Force works with brands to create custom predictive models for both soft metrics (like overall satisfaction or Net Promoter Score) and hard financial KPI’s like same store comparable sales or revenue per available room.
  • Economics & Statistics Administration from the United States Department of Commerce provides ongoing statistics on macroeconomic indicators like Advance Report on Durable Goods Manufacturers’ Shipments, Inventories, and Orders and Homeownership Rate.
  • Pew Research Center tracks public opinions on U.S. National Conditions, Political Attitudes, and Domestic Issues. They emphasize key national, political, economic and demographic trends over time and use regularly updated charts.
  • Surveys created using Google Consumer SurveysPolldaddyQualtricsSurvata, and SurveyMonkey.
  • And of course, Meltwater for analytics related to your brand, your competition, and your industry.

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This post was originally published on July 31, 2016. We republish evergreen blog posts on Saturdays.

PR and Inbound Marketing: 5 Ways to Integrate PR with Your Inbound Marketing Campaigns

Public relations and inbound marketing are two hot keywords in the marketing industry. But what are they? What do they mean for your organization? And how can they work together to bring the most value to your business?

For those not as familiar with these two facets of marketing, I will give you a quick rundown:

Public Relations

According to the Public Relations Society of America, “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” A public relations strategy can help increase awareness for an individual or an organization, it can help build relationships with the media, and it works to create or preserve a positive image.

To be successful in public relations, you must focus on the needs of your company, the media, and your audience. You can’t focus on one without the other two in a successful PR strategy.

Something that PR and inbound marketing have in common is thought leadership. In public relations, you pitch your thought leadership in your industry to the media on a certain topic. In inbound, you create content that you publish yourself that is still educating your audience and showing your expertise. The difference here is where the content is published. In PR, the content can be written by a journalist or by the thought leader him- or herself; however, it will be published through a third-party outlet. This gives your content more credibility. In inbound, usually, you publish the content yourself, and your audience knows it is coming from you.

Inbound Marketing

So, now you are thinking, “Okay, great, my PR and inbound marketing have things in common but are not the same, but wait—tell me more about inbound marketing.” You’re in luck! We love to talk about inbound marketing on the SmartBug blog.

Here is the quick and dirty version: Inbound marketing focuses on being found by customers by providing valuable content.

So, now that we have wrapped our heads around what inbound marketing and public relations should look like, let’s take a look at how they can work together.

1. Content, Content, Content

When it comes to public relations, it is all about the pitch and the relationships to take it the distance. What is the angle? What publication will find this most valuable? How can it be tied to current events? Once a PR professional has the topic, he or she pitches until that topic is picked up—or until it is determined that it’s time to move on. After all, not every topic will get a bite. In inbound marketing, you take your topic, figure out what your audience needs to know about that topic, and get to writing. So, the question is: Why come up with similar topics for two different purposes when you could just repurpose one topic? That is exactly what you should do!

Similar to inbound marketing, public relations cannot survive without continuous ways to prove expertise and thought leadership.

Use your inbound marketing topics and ideas to help create your public relations pitches and vice versa. There is no need to always reinvent the wheel. Also, with this strategy, you can ensure that your messaging and strategy align across all aspects of your marketing.

This article originally appeared in The SmartBug Inbound Marketing Blog.

 

This article was written by Mary Cate Duffy from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Infographic: Summer Numbers, the Hottest Brands on Social Media

Summer is the only season that feels much shorter than it is. Now, at the beginning of the end of summer 2017, we’re holding onto the good times by recalling the online conversations around some of our favorite summer events, movies, water parks, and of course, barbecues and beer.

The Hottest Brands on Social Media

It wasn’t surprising that the consumer brands that dominated social media this summer were the same ones at every barbecue and picnic. It’s a Weber Grill and Budweiser world and we only live in it.

For summer events, Schlitterbahn dominated the water park landscape and two-thirds of those that shared info about San Diego Comic-Con on social media felt positive about the event (and most likely the films, comics, and TV shows that were covered).

When it comes to summer films, Wonder Woman (#1) and Spider-Man: Homecoming (#2) captured the same spots for share of voice on social media as they did in US box office receipts. Interestingly, Dunkirk did much better on social media, coming in #2 for share of voice, while only hitting the #6 spot in ticket sales. This might mean that people who saw Wonder Woman or Spider-Man saw it multiple times (I saw WW twice) or that Dunkirk had more of a problem with piracy than the other two.

To find gorgeous images of summer, we mined the Instagram influencer account of Tiny Atlas Quarterly and their #mytinyatlas hashtag.

Without further ado, here are the brands, the events, and their associated data that made summer so memorable. When you’re ready to report your brand’s summer PR data story, we can help.

Summer Brands on Social Media

Media Requests: When to Say Yes and When to Say No

When you’re pitching an up-and-coming brand, raising the profile of a little-known executive or promoting your business in a new market, the process always looks the same in the beginning: countless pitches go out the door with very few media requests rolling in.

Until, at some point, momentum starts to build. Now, journalists who wouldn’t answer your emails are replying back with follow-up questions. New journalists are reaching out and asking for interviews. Outlets you’ve never worked with are calling to see if they can ask you a few questions.

media requests

So How Do You Choose the Best Media?

When you’re proactively pitching media, you’ve got a clear objective. This month, for example, Uber’s PR team is pitching stories to introduce their new in-app chat. Facebook’s PR team is hard at work driving coverage around the company’s redesigned video tab, Watch. Soundcloud’s PR team is telling anyone and everyone that they’re living to fight another day.

But when you’re assessing requests reactively, the objective isn’t always as clear. What seems like a straightforward interview from a respected trade publication can turn into a reputation-damaging story without proper vetting and consideration.

So how do you figure out which ones to go for and which ones to pass on? Here are three critical questions to ask each time a new opportunity presents itself.

1) What are your business priorities?

Incoming PR requests are like big shiny objects—they look real pretty but can be enormously distracting. The purpose of any solid PR strategy is to align with a specific business goal—whether that’s driving users to an app, a new video platform, or a music streaming service they thought was about to go under.

When your inbox starts getting noisy with requests, here’s the first and most important question you want to explore with your team: what are our short and long-term business priorities?

You can bet that, on the back of Uber, Facebook and Soundcloud’s recent announcements, they’re seeing an influx of incoming PR requests. For those that are focused on further promoting the company’s announcements—a clear business priority—their respective PR team are likely seriously considering them.

But if, at the same time, Soundcloud’s CFO is being asked to be profiled by a reporter they’ve never worked with for a trade publication they don’t follow? That’s probably going to be a no.

And, at this moment, rightfully so.

2) What’s the journalist’s track record?

For any of us who’ve lived through a crisis communications event, we know that the old adage “any press is good press” is, in fact, completely false. (Uber would agree with us.)

When you pitch announcements proactively, you’re more likely to accept opportunities with hard hitting reporters. But as requests roll in, you have the ability to be more selective. As John McCartney, Managing Director, West Coast of Wise Public Relations offers this sage advice, “Not every outlet is the right fit for a brand. One needs to really see the treatment a media outlet gives to their stories. Are they snarky? Are they hard hitting?”

To find out, you want to thoroughly research each and every journalist that sends a request (even if they’re just asking for a comment or statement). Check their social media updates. Google their past coverage. Look at their Linkedin profiles. Use your media database to track down their history of covering your industry and brand, their beat, their story and angle preferences, and any other noteworthy tidbits you can find about their work.

Is their coverage aligned to the type of reporters you trust? Let this answer guide your decision.

3) What’s the relationship at play?

No one needs to be told that PR is an industry built on relationships.

The final consideration is who the request is coming from. Have you been building a relationship with the journalist or media outlet? Is it a reporter you have a good rapport with? If the answer is ‘yes,’ it’s an easy yes. If it’s not a journalist or media outlet you know or, after researching, care to forge a relationship with, politely decline.

As your pitching efforts take-off, stay away from the knee-jerk reaction to accept each one that comes your way. In the long run, it’s far more strategic to say no to those that don’t align with your brand values or business priorities, aren’t led by journalists you know and/or trust and don’t further important industry relationships than to drag your brand into a media storm unnecessarily.

Make your work easier by using a media database to help you research journalists and the media outlets they contribute to.

How to Write a News Release in the Modern Age of Journalism

The past decade has brought many changes to the journalistic scene. Among other things, this means that you need to learn how to write a news release that speaks to the needs of modern journalists. Doing this will amp up your results, and create new opportunities for your B2B business.

In a previous article about press release best practices, we covered the basics, such as crafting an awesome press release headline, or what to include within the body of your press release. But now we’re going to go a little deeper into the journalist psyche. Let’s see exactly how journalism has changed in the last decade, and what this means for your press release.

The Main Challenges Facing Modern Journalists

A lot has happened since the glory days of 10 or 15 years ago, when newsrooms were full and buzzing, and journalism was a bustling career. Many journalists today face special challenges in their careers that didn’t previously exist. Some of these challenges include…

Cutbacks

Since the growth of social media and online, many news budgets are being cut, and traditional media outlets are shrinking the number of staff. Those who are left are faced with stress, extra workloads, and ever-looming, merciless deadlines.

Technology & Social Media

New technology and ongoing strides in social media have changed to some degree how journalists function. For many, followers and engagement rates on social media are the lifeblood to their career. Media outlets put pressure on their journalists to get more likes, shares, and comments than their competitors.

There is also more for journalists to learn than before. They constantly fight to stay on top of new technology, changes to social media, and new editorial techniques, as well as their own creativity — not to mention the news.

Fake News

With all the hype about fake news, many journalists are under pressure to get all their facts straight. That makes it more incumbent than ever for PR professionals to write press releases that are screechingly accurate.

Now let’s take a closer look at how these challenges within journalism affect how you write news releases.

6 Helpful Tips on How to Write a News Release That Captures the Interests of Modern Journalists

1. Anticipate Their Needs

Because journalists are under such a time crunch, having a ready-to-go press release is very appealing. Inculde all the necessary information for a journalist to pick up and use right away.

What information is needed to make this a story? Put it at a journalist’s fingertips. This may include key statistics, background information about your company, and how this announcement affects the industry. You should also include links to supporting information that will add further details.

Right within the first paragraph, you’ll want to answer the essential questions of your reader — the who, what, where, when, and why. Show them from the get go exactly what to expect from your release.

2. Use Multimedia

Multimedia is an integral part of modern journalism. Colorful infographics and images enliven a news release and make it more visually appealing for journalists and their audiences.

The advancement of mobile has made multimedia even more necessary. Many journalists look at press releases on their mobile devices. Releases with visual content are the easiest to read, and usually stimulate the most response.

3. Put on Your Journalist Thinking Cap

Think like a journalist. What pressures are they under? What information and tools do they need from you to create a killer story that will satisfy their readers and viewers?

Also, reflect on the pressures that journalists are under. With resources tight within many news outlets, journalists are under a crunch to produce top-quality stories in a short period of time. Does your press release give them everything they need to do that?

4. Think Out of the Box

Get creative with your press release. Engage journalists with your story. Storytelling is one of the leading press release best practices in the era of modern journalism. Journalists and bloggers need to feel drawn in and a part of the story you’re telling.

Don’t hesitate to use new innovative methods or tools that will set your press release apart from the pack. For instance, sharable multimedia content can help differentiate your press releases. What new tools could you use in your next press release?

5. Take to Social Media

The convenience and wide reach of social media platforms make them an excellent tool to use with the modern news release. Because editorial resources are thin in many media outlets, the majority turn to social media to find stories and do research.

Key in on the social networks that are most effective in your industry — where your audience stays on top of industry news and events. For many B2B businesses, this means LinkedIn and Twitter. Look for groups within these social networks that journalists in your industry are already using.

6. Optimize Your Press Release

Google is a top tool used by journalists to seek out their next story. Make sure that your news release is fully optimized to appear at the top of the list in search engines.

Use a keyword research tool to find out what journalists in your industry are researching. Aim for long-tail keywords that will offer lower competition — this ensures that your release will more quickly make it to the top of search engines results pages.

Once you’ve chosen a reliable keyword, it’s time to insert it into your news release. Make sure it is in the title, first paragraph, and within the alt text of images. Small steps like these are often the key to journalists finding your release.

A Few Points to Remember…

  • Cutbacks, technology and the hype about fake news are just some of the issues facing modern journalists.
  • Include multimedia in your news releases to capture the attention of journalists and set your release apart.
  • Use social media to find relevant journalists and connect with them.
  • Always optimize your news release for search engines.

As times change, and you learn how to write a news release that catches the eye of modern journalists, this will push you and your business to the top.

This article originally appeared in The B2B PR Blog, was written by Wendy Marx from Business2Community, and legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

10 Reasons Your Organization Needs an Internal Newsletter

Most communications pros are focused on getting the word out, not in. But, as we’ve recently covered, internal communications are important and there’s plenty of overlap between the priorities of a PR professional and the internal newsletter that might come from your culture or HR team. Whether you have a newsletter dedicated to your media coverage or not, any intra-company newsletter is an opportunity to keep everyone in sync.

For PR and marketing pros, newsletters are a great way to tout successes, make sure everyone understands a brand’s message and tone. It can also serve as a central document to gather resources for your organization, with links to brand graphics, a style guide, and access to a social media guide. Having this info front and center can cut down on valuable time spent looking for these resources.

When embarking on an internal newsletter strategy, remember that the values you want your company to reflect should be the values underlying your newsletter content.

Here are some ideas for what to cover, your organization’s internal newsletter can:

  1. Funnel content to internal pipelines. When working in a large office, it may be difficult to find information about what other teams are doing. And the reverse is true as well. You might be more successful targeting outside media than your own colleagues. Make sure they know what you’re up to, and encourage them to share as well.
  2. Promote social advocacy and provide guidance. Keeping track of social platforms that an organization participates in can be daunting. An internal newsletter can help promote brand channels and make sure everyone is aware distinct strategies for each one and specific messages to share.
  3. Reinforce brand voice, style, imagery, and personality. Quick do’s and don’ts can go a long way in keeping everyone on their toes. Plus linking out to key documents will be useful to anyone creating presentations and reports.
  4. Highlight evergreen content. An internal newsletter can be a resource for sales and other front-facing colleagues to parse evergreen content to the public. Make sure they know about your great thought leadership pieces.
  5. Highlight customer case studies and bring in suggestions for new ones. Case studies are a great sales tool, and an internal newsletter can highlight new and relevant clients that are using your product or services.
  6. Complement existing company collateral and resources. An internal newsletter is a weekly, monthly, or quarterly examination of what the company finds important. It broadcasts what management and internal comms deem important to an organization at a point in the company’s evolution. It can be a platform to welcome new employees, announce new product versions, highlight the company’s successes, and ask for input on a rebranding. In this way, it reinforces the messages and information in all the other content that your company produces.
  7. Highlight cross-departmental collaborations. Calling out collaborations and results on a company-wide platform helps those involved feel appreciated and encourages more sharing of ideas and resources.
  8. Reinforce transparency as a mindset. Having a newsletter opens up a line of communication that doesn’t clog up the email inbox. As comms pros, we know that the best way to start a conversation is to provide the subject and the platform. At the very least, an internal newsletter can be the jumping off point to discuss company values and employee culture.
  9. Share news updates. If a newsletter is implemented right with a predictable cadence, it can be an invaluable mouthpiece for internal stakeholders throughout the organization. The resulting content can be a 360-view of what is going on in an organization. The material can be as diverse as a recap of the CEO’s recent “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) session; the sales team’s exceeding their monthly sales quotas; issues with a recent product launch; or highlights from the social media team.
  10. Include industry news, trends, and insights. No matter how innovative a company is, competitors are a healthy part of any industry. That’s why highlighting the achievements, as well as the missteps of close competitors, can give employees insight into how to do their jobs. With a media monitoring solution in place, a company can monitor their own, as well as competitors’ keywords to see how well their social media accounts are leading to engagement. From this info, they can perform competitive analysis to share with the entire organization.

With the challenges of brand protection, doesn’t it make sense to cultivate a strong employee culture? Now, that newsletters are easy to produce, the question is not “why start an internal newsletter?” But instead, “why not start a newsletter today?”

 

Prepare for PR Crisis with These 6 Tactics

Preparing for a PR crisis requires getting out of the mindset that keeps us busy executing and measuring our tactical goals. Just because we have a social media manager who can push a message out in 140 characters or less several times a day doesn’t mean we have a mechanism in place to handle a full-blown PR crisis. That’s why being prepared for a crisis before it begins is the right strategy, here are 6 of the 10 steps. Access the other four steps, along with invaluable tips in our free ebook, Media Intelligence for Crisis Communications.

Step 1: Add Contingency Planning to Job Goals

Amidst your daily routine, you might not be able to design a protocol for every potential crisis right away. Pace yourself. Map out two or three crisis protocols per quarter. And make sure that accomplishing this goal is part of your performance review.

Step 2: Search for Early Warning Signs

A powerful media intelligence tool doesn’t just monitor your brand mentions. You can use it to set up searches on any number of topics and keep on top of them in all your channels.

Start by making a list of the kinds of messages you’ve already put out that have met resistance. At any point, this same resistance might come back, get amplified, and take on a life of its own. You’ll also want to talk with sales reps, customer support, and legal counsel on issues that they’ve encountered. Once you’ve made a list of crisis triggers, create news, and social searches for them.

To help you get started, here are some examples:

Executives: Journalists, analysts, and sometimes even customers pay attention to what high-ranking executives say and do. And so should you. Keep on top of their Twitter and Facebook feeds, what videos and blogs they post, and how everything they are putting out into the world is received and amplified.

Competitors: Pay as much attention to competitor brand mentions as you do your own. Their crisis could easily become yours. And if a competitor decides to come after you, you’ll want to know about it first and respond before others have a chance to amplify their message.

Industry news: Sometimes a PR crisis will hit you by association. By keeping track of how your industry is perceived and any events that might impact it (such as natural disasters or newly introduced legislation) you are prepared to address these issues as an industry leader.

Events: Keep track of trending topics related to the event to help prevent speakers and reps from getting caught with their guards down.

Controversy: A media intelligence tool enables you to keep track of any number of business and political keywords. You’ll know when hot-button topics are trending and get ready to explain your position on them before you are equated with the fallout they’ve generated.

Complaints: Make a list of complaints and keep an eye out for them in your search results. Once an influencer amplifies customer concerns, they can be cemented as “expert opinion,” and your credibility can suffer longstanding damage.

Step 3: Create a Crisis Management Workflow

Start by outlining the internal steps you need to take before releasing a public statement. Then assign stakeholders where relevant. For example:

Assess the situation – Hopefully your company has got some feet on the street to report back on your crisis with first-hand insights, but use media intelligence to understand the full scope of the communications landscape and all of the points you’ll need to address.

Assign duties within your team – When you’re engaged on multiple fronts, you’ll need to man various stations. Decide who will manage influencers, keep the executive team informed, serve as liaison to other key stakeholders (including partners, customers, members, etc.), and record every detail, action taken, external response, and resolution.

Identify key advisors – A PR crisis may require technical information or strategic insight that you’ll need to get from leaders in IT, accounting, HR, or elsewhere. Identify all relevant functions specific to a given crisis and how to contact them quickly.

Draft your statement– The head of PR may be responsible for doing this, or it may fall to the agency that the head of PR should already have on speed dial.

Initial review – It’s always a good idea to have your CMO review your statement (or the agency’s), as he or she will undoubtedly be asked to defend it.

Legal review – Any statement you make during a time of crisis should be reviewed by counsel to assess its legal consequences and minimize damage should legal action be taken against the company.

CEO review – During a PR crisis, your CEO (likely your company’s primary spokesperson) must be kept in the loop.

Step 4: Establish a Notification System

Break down your audience, both internal and external, into key stakeholders and list the best channels to reach them. Chapter 3 explores in detail how to communicate with and engage your audience as you respond to a crisis.

Step 5: Have as Much Written Ahead of Time as Possible

Because social media moves so quickly, it can hurt your brand to wait for executive stakeholders to approve detailed statements. Having something preapproved that acknowledges your aware- ness of the problem without saying too much will go a long way in putting your audience at ease. Don’t forget that how long it takes for you to get your initial response out could be a detractor’s next headline.

Here is a fill-in-the-blank statement that can be used in any number of situations:

A ___________________ at ___________________ involving __________________ occurred today at _________________. The incident is under investigation and more information is forthcoming.

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Step 6: Finalize Key Messages and Update Corporate Talking Points

Once the worst is over—but before you reach for a beer and put it all behind you—you’ll want to craft a final word. Explain what your company learned from the crisis and how you’ve adapted processes, policies, or products accordingly. Remember, people will want to know you’ve taken action, not just paid lip service. You can then update any relevant company-wide talking points.

Once you prepare for PR crisis, you’ll be ready, if, when, and to what degree it may impact your company and brand. How your brand reacts to its community, audience, and detractors may have wide-encompassing repercussions. It’s hard to prepare for every contingency, so try to prepare for the ones you can by downloading our Media Intelligence for Crisis Communications ebook.

Media Intelligence for Crisis Comms

This post was originally published on this site on September 2, 2016. We’re republishing select, useful content on Saturdays.

Sales Influence in the PR World: Quota Driven

It’s no surprise that PR pros can have an impact on the way a sales team does their work. But let’s look at this from a different viewpoint: can sales practices have an influence on how PR does theirs? Can PR benefit from adopting a quota driven mindset to achieve associated tasks?

Meltwater’s Vancouver office encourages cross-departmental collaboration. In my current role as field marketer in charge of PR initiatives for Meltwater in Canada, I work closely with the client acquisition team. But two years ago I was working in client success. Although each role has different tasks and responsibilities, one thing remains: quotas.

Monthly targets working with client acquisition and client success included the following:

  • Generate XX quality leads for the client acquisition team.
  • Assist with XX client requests.
  • Create XX media coverage reports.

Monthly targets for field marketing and PR initiatives can include the following:

  • Pitch XX journalists per month.
  • Write XX thought pieces per quarter.
  • Hold XX events per quarter.
  • Arrange XX speaking engagements for C-Suite per quarter.
  • Secure XX media placements.

Before beginning my journey at Meltwater, I never had quotas or monthly targets, especially not in a PR role. I previously thought quotas added stress without positively impacting PR success. I’ve changed my opinion since starting at Meltwater. Working with the client acquisition team opened my eyes to how PR can be number driven and how PR pros can be rewarded for reaching specific targets.

I’ve been the Marketing and PR Field Manager for under a year and requested monthly quotas before beginning my new role. Why, you ask?

Here are more reasons:

Accountability

  • Having a monthly quota will allow for accountability. It’s an effective way to understand how well you performed and what to improve, moving forward. In relation to PR, there are several ways to measure your performance thanks to tools such as Meltwater. Being able to track media coverage or measuring the reach of your PR campaign is an effective way to analyze monthly performance.

Focus

  • Setting realistic monthly targets is imperative in any role. It gives you a blueprint to approach each month and will keep you focused on tasks. Unlike most careers, PR professionals are constantly faced with unexpected responsibilities. Whether it be a request for a media report by the C-Suite or dealing with a brand crisis. Knowing these events occur, it’s important to set realistic targets. For instance, successfully dealing with a company crisis shouldn’t be a monthly target. Rather, aim for something more realistic such as securing media placement in 3 different publications or establishing a relationship with 5 different journalists.

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Yearly Review

  • Targets allow insight into annual achievements. Not only do monthly targets keep you focused, it allows insight into your year’s PR efforts. Having quotas helps illustrate ROI and provides clarity to your daily work. They can also pinpoint strengths and weaknesses, so they can be tackled. Tracking ongoing quotas and their results can also help teams map out a strategy for the next 3-12 months.

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Motivation

  • Having monthly and quarterly targets act as motivation. You’re motivated to reach your quota/successfully complete tasks to get that financial bonus. Monetary incentive… need I say more?

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Ultimately, working with a sales team can change your perspective on quotas. I find it rewarding to successfully complete tasks given to me by my Director or that I set out for myself. It helps me to hold myself accountable, stay focused, and motivated. I’ll leave you with this question to ponder: What if everything you did had a quota associated with it?

A Day, Week, and Month in the Life of a Marketing Data Analyst

In today’s data-driven climate, nearly every business and departmental decision is influenced by numbers. Never before has there been this amount of data at our fingertips, and while accumulating data is important, the real value lies in extracting value from this data. An organization needs to be able to harness this extracted data to make informed decisions. As PR and communications professionals become data-driven, the role of a marketing data analyst is an important addition to any marketing, communications, or PR team looking to let numbers guide strategy.

The specific role of the data analyst, especially a marketing data analyst who specializes within the confines of the marketing department, will vary considerably from company to company. One thing that remains consistent however is that marketing data analysts help make sense of the data by digesting numbers into fuel for marketing efforts. It’s important to remember that marketing isn’t always about originality and creativity (and this belief is why marketing analysts have often been underutilized), sometimes it’s just about the statistics, the numbers, and the gritty hard facts– this is where your analyst comes into the equation.

At Meltwater, we use data to support everything and the role of the marketing data analyst is no different. The role revolves around data (I mean it is included in the position title ☺) and on any given day I’m responsible for analyzing program performance, setting managers up for success