Four Ways PR Can Support Event Marketing

Event marketing is on the rise.

A recent report by event software company Bizzabo says 85 percent of marketers cite event production as “essential” to their marketing strategies, while 41 percent consider event marketing the most crucial channel to achieve their goals. Two-thirds surveyed say they plan to increase spending on live events in 2019.

As more organizations look to live events to boost the bottom line, they’re also looking to their PR teams to help get the word out to improve visibility and drive attendance.

Why Are Events Growing in Popularity for Marketing?

Events allow face-to-face interaction with prospects, helping them establish a more personal relationship with brands. And they can get feedback in real-time – versus waiting for customers to try the product and share comments, which may never happen.

“For instance, intimate VIP events may help to win new customers, while thought leadership and networking events may help to increase brand awareness, and awards ceremonies may help to generate revenue from ticket sales and sponsors,” says Bizzabo.

Given this rise in live events, how can PR pros help brands make the most of these opportunities?

Here’s How PR Can Support Event Marketing

#1 Traditional Public Relations Tactics

Use press releases to create buzz. These can be written in advance and pitched to relevant publications, posted on your web site and social media and issued on wire services.

“What doesn’t work is writing the same old press release for the event,” says Vannessa Wade, Founder, Connect The Dots PR. “Add flare. Talk about the event with excitement. Have a clear call to action.”

“Whenever possible I try to connect client events to a local community conversation or a trend,” says Olivia Adams, communications strategist, Byrum & Fisk. “This makes media advisories, press releases, pitches and social media content all that more relevant and impactful when the event is connected to a bigger conversation.”

In addition to press releases, invite media to attend and cover the event. Post the event to local listings and event calendars.

Leverage event headliners in your PR efforts. Set up an interview with them before the event so you can create a press release or blog post. Beyond that, pitch an interview with them to local media. Then, share the articles that result on social media and the event landing page.

#2 Content Creation

Beyond press releases, craft blog posts to talk about not only what your company is doing at an event but what you’re looking forward to. Are there themes you’re excited about? Are other brands participating that you may be able to include in your post?

You can also create a landing page with all the information about the event – the who, what, when, where, why and how that answers all the questions potential attendees might want to know. Include a sneak peek or behind the scenes footage or images, a program of speakers with excerpts from their work, and so on.

After the event, you can write another blog post that recaps the highlights. Include photos or videos from the event. Be sure to post this on social media, as well.

#3 Social Media

Leverage social media with scheduled posts, as well as live updates during the event. Post it on Facebook Events.

Enlist partners and sponsors in your social media campaign to promote events. Be sure to tag them in your posts to increase the likelihood that they’ll share them.

You can also create sample posts for your employees and third parties to share, making it easy for them to cut and paste.

#4 Influencer Marketing

“A major problem for brands in today’s digital world is that they tend to be faceless among a social feed of other brands,” said Deirdre Lopian, creative director, DLPR. “But influencers know how to create engaging content that will stand out and resonate with their audience.

What types of initiatives can influencers help brands with? Keynote speeches, panel discussions, promotions and live-streaming are a few examples Lopian cites.

Be Sure PR Is Involved When Marketing Your Next Event

As brands ramp up their event marketing efforts, the public relations team can use these techniques to help build buzz and excitement to make them more successful.

Read our latest ebooks for a deep dive on how you can leverage influencers and make the most of media relations to supercharge your event marketing strategy.

Crisis Communications: To Respond or Not? 3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Decide

Regardless of their industry or the specifics of their particular crisis, there is one consistent question we get from clients when faced with criticism. We got a bad review. Somebody posted a nasty comment. There’s an online petition accusing us of being horrible people. Should we respond?

We generally counsel clients to listen but not not feel obligated to respond to every comment. Instead, monitor social media chatter. Are the comments gaining traction? Jumping into a back and forth with someone who has already decided that you are guilty escalates, rather than diffuses, a crisis. Instead, if the situation merits comment, explain your position through a statement posted on your website and social channels or as an op-ed in the local paper. These channels allow you to present the facts and get your perspective on record while avoiding a public confrontation with an adversary who has already expressed that they will not believe a word you say.

To be clear, it’s never a good idea to let your opposition tell a one-sided story. However, there are ways to communicate your side without engaging in a shouting match that accomplishes nothing and may in fact further damage your brand’s reputation.

Go on Record—For Now and for Later

Cheyenne Frontier Days (CFD) is the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and Western celebration, so it is frequently the target of social media campaigns from anti-rodeo groups that accuse the event of animal abuse. Groups will contact local media demanding that CFD respond to their claims. Like many rodeos, CFD’s first instinct has been to refuse to respond. Why bother to argue with people who already mistrust you?

My firm, Pushkin PR, uses media intelligence dashboards to monitor social channels and alert our clients when a response is warranted. Having an awareness of the negative chatter allowed us to help CFD draft responses to media questions and develop content illuminating all the animal care steps they take to prevent and treat injuries. Now, instead of getting a one-sided story, anyone interested in the issue heard CFD’s point of view. https://www.pushkinpr.com/our-work/case-studies/cheyenne-frontier-days-cfd

Know When to Step In

Cheyenne Animal Shelter faced an onslaught of online criticism from local residents after an unfortunate situation that started when a stray dog was dropped off. As with most municipal animal shelters, unclaimed animals are put up for adoption if no one claims them after a certain period of time. A few days after this dog was adopted, it attacked and killed some livestock, and state law requires animals that attack people or livestock be euthanized. Friends of the original owner began an online petition and a flurry of social media posts claiming that there was no proof the dog had killed livestock and accused the shelter of preventing the original owner from reclaiming the dog.

The Shelter posted a statement on its Facebook page detailing exactly what happened, and we continued to monitor for negative posts using Meltwater. Choosing to not respond but keeping a close eye on chatter was an effective strategy until a local radio station posted a news story on its website that included misleading statements it had gathered from social media: http://kgab.com/cheyenne-animal-shelter-defends-decision-to-euthanize-dog/

Now we were faced with a situation where a media outlet posted a news story, including unverified claims they obtained from random social media posts. At this point, we determined that a response was necessary to protect the organization’s reputation and ensure accurate information was available, so we sent a statement to the station’s news director responding to the false claims.

So, How Do You Know When to Respond and When to Not To?

So how do you know if and when you should respond? Answering these questions is a good start.

1. Has there been damage to your organization’s reputation? As Warren Buffet famously pointed out, it takes 20 years to build a reputation but five minutes to ruin it. It can also take years to repair a damaged reputation once it’s been tarnished. So if there’s been damage to your reputation, most crisis communications pros would counsel you to respond quickly, decisively, and transparently.

2. Would a reasonable person expect a responsible organization to respond? In most crisis communications situations, the answer to that question is obviously, yes. So the question then becomes not should we respond, but how should we respond?

3. Is public opinion about you being shaped by inaccurate statements or slanderous claims? If the answer is yes, it could be time to address that negative sentiment by clearly stating the facts.

Ultimately, the only way to know if you should respond or not is to listen. There are plenty of social media monitoring tools available to help you do this. Pushkin PR uses Meltwater to continually monitor social media chatter for our crisis communications clients. We are able to get daily reports and real time alerts when we need them, which allows us to instantly notify a client about anything that may require a response.

While we don’t recommend getting into online shouting matches, we do believe that it is always important for any organization to protect its brand reputation. Don’t let five minutes ruin what it took 20 years to build, and don’t let it take years to repair the damage to your brand once it happens. Knowing whether to respond or not is not always simple. But the answer will become much clearer if your first step is to listen.

Jon Pushkin is the President of Pushkin PR, a Denver-based, full-service public relations firm specializing in crisis communications and healthcare, nonprofit and government public relations strategy.

Top CEO Social Feeds: How to Keep Your Brand on Top

According to current research, only a mere 40% of CEOs are active on social media.

Of the 40% that leverage social media, 70% use LinkedIn only. However, this number is expected to grow significantly in 2019 as people turn to authentic sources of information.

In an era of misinformation and fake news in the media, CEOs and other top business executives have a unique opportunity to be more vocal on social. This can help boost your brand’s reputation and build trust among your users.

That’s why we put together a list of 5 top CEOs on social media that are making a splash for themselves and their company.

Top CEO Social Accounts

1. Strive Masiyiwa, Econet Group

One CEO that accounted for an incredible 33 of the top 500 Facebook posts of 2018, according to BuzzSumo, is evidence of the power of a CEO’s voice and leadership on social media.

It’s the Founder of the global enterprise Econet Group, Strive Masiyiwa.

Masiyiwa has racked up more than 3.5 million fans to his Page, ranks 437 among all Public Figures in the world, and generated 108+ million engagements to his posts in 2018.

And the most interesting part is that he’s done all of this through images and captions (not videos). A lot of his high ranking posts are more like micro-blogs, averaging well-over 300 words per caption.

2.Mary Barra, General Motors

Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors (GM) was the first female CEO of a major global automaker. And that’s just one of many impressive facts about Barra.

GM ranked No. 1 on the 2018 Global Report on Gender Equality – one of two global businesses that have no gender pay gap All thanks to the leadership of Barra as CEO.

Frequently, Barra uses Twitter as a platform to champion social causes like empowering female leaders and emerging nonprofits such as GirlsWhoCode. She also demonstrates that even as the head of a Fortune 500 company, it doesn’t mean that you have to stick to a boring, media-friendly script.

She uses social media as a way to confront potential issues and negative press head on. Instead of hiding in the shadows, Barra steps into the spotlight and speaks transparently on behalf of GM.

3. Mark Benioff, Salesforce

In one of the bigger political brand moves of 2018, Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff, made a pledge to support Prop C – A measure to tax the biggest businesses in San Francisco to raise as much as $300 million for homeless programs:

What’s most interesting about this particular situation, is that Marc Benioff personally lead the charge on social media. Benioff was personally in for $2 million, while Salesforce reported nearly $5.9 million in contributions. 

As a CEO of a massive SaaS brand, this is a perfect example of how effective social media can be in gaining press attention for your business. Instead of framing it as a Salesforce initiative, the Salesforce PR team helped Benioff craft a compelling narrative that eventually lead back to the company.

4. Angela Ahrendts, Burberry

Former CEO of Burberry and now Senior Vice President of Apple Retail, Angela Ahrendts is a master storyteller both in her personal life and for the major brands that she leads. 

“Great brands and great businesses have to be great storytellers. We have to tell authentic, emotive, and compelling stories because we are building lifelong relationships with people. That relationship has to be built on trust.” 

You can see and feel Angela’s storytelling ability in every one of her posts on social media. Even seemingly small Tweets come across as captivating: 

CEOs need to be great storytellers in order to amass and move a large audience online.

 5. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook

2018 wasn’t Facebook’s proudest year, in fact, Mark Zuckerberg probably wants to forget it ever happened. 

However, that doesn’t mean Zuckerberg is giving up. Quite the opposite – he’s showing CEOs everywhere that even in the hardest times you can still come out as a better person and business. 

To do so, Zuckerberg uses Facebook as a place to open up a conversation around change:

Zuckerberg publicly addresses many of the issues Facebook is up against in 2019 and explicitly states what he is going to do about them.

Social media is the perfect platform to enact change because it’s on public record and it’s a forum where CEOs can interact with key stakeholders – you and me.

The Importance of Social Media for CEOs

These CEOs show that personal social media accounts can be a powerful force for good in customer service, brand building, PR, marketing, and sales.

However, CEOs can only accomplish these goals if they are active and consistent on social media. It’s hard to build an audience and community otherwise. 

Take a stand, confront your company’s biggest challenges, be an advocate for change, and leverage the power of social media as if you’re job depended on it.

5 Examples of SaaS Social Media Accounts That Are a Notch Above the Rest

If you’re looking for some incredible marketing inspiration, look no further than the teams behind some of the top SaaS social media accounts online today. 

They excel at everything from storytelling to content creation to engagement and even throwing shade when the time is right. What makes the SaaS industry so great is that it’s relatively young and unbelievably competitive, meaning that there is no shortage of ground-breaking social experiments for us to learn from.

5 Amazing Examples of SaaS Social Media Accounts 

Mailchimp

Quirky, fun, and incredibly entertaining, Mailchimp might as well be teaching a master class in social media marketing.

It seems like every time I turn around their social media team is launching a new campaign—capturing the hearts of their audience in the process.

For example, Mailchimp is used by thousands of small businesses around the world and so their team wanted to give back to those businesses during the holidays. That’s when the Small Business Saturday campaign was born. 

Most brands would stop with a few Tweets, but Mailchimp took it a step forward by creating personalized, custom GIFs of their employees, which they used during the campaign to respond on social media. 

InVision

InVision’s social media strategy revolves around design—providing consistently useful and educational content across their various channels. In doing so, they hold their own against design competitors such as Adobe and Sketch. 

Their content is shareable, easy to digest, and uniquely catered to the people who matter the most: customers.

If you focus on posting great content every single day, the engagements (likes, comments, shares, and clicks) will naturally follow.

I like to think that great content is at the intersection of educational and entertaining.

In other words: edu-tainment. Aim to create content that’s both entertaining and educational, and you’ll be on your way to social success.

Wistia

One brand that isn’t afraid to march to the beat of their own drum is Wistia

Everything from their social media account cover photos to their captions and content is shared in a way that shows off their one-of-a-kind brand personality. Not only does this set them apart from other SaaS brands on social media, but it gives their audience a reason to come back and engage on a regular basis. 

Take the Wistia “One, Ten, One Hundred” marketing campaign, for example. This idea originated from Wistia’s constant questioning of “marketing norms” and their quest to do things differently.

One big challenge for brands today is carving out a niche in a never-ending stream of online content. 

That being said, Wistia proves that you can still build a strong brand following on social media by humanizing your content and cultivating a brand personality that people can relate to.

Intercom

The thing that makes Intercom so inspirational is their attention to the visual aspects of their social media accounts.

Everything from their cover photo to individual Tweets are designed to reinforce their overall brand. They don’t miss even the smallest of details. 

Take, for example, their use of the Twitter account cover photo in what is a creative visualization of how their product works:

Intercom Twitter Cover Photo.jpg

Using visually appealing graphics such as this might seem like “too much” to invest in as a SaaS brand on social media, but Intercom has proven that it’s well worth the investment, surpassing 100,000 monthly users as of February 2017.

In a world where stock photos are the norm, breaking out with your own unique visual style might just be the boost your brand needs.

Trello

The more brands can get their audience actively involved on social media, the better their results will be. 

When it comes to activating an audience, Trello is one of the best in the business.

Recently, Trello launched a brand new campaign called #WhereITrello that asks their community to share photos and stories of where and when they use the Trello product.

Since the launch of #WhereITrello, the hashtag has been used more than 1,000 times across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram making it an instant and smashing success. 

The industry might be young and highly-competitive, but there’s no shortage of SaaS social media accounts showing us all how it’s done.

Next Steps

To up your social media game, let us show you what an all-in-one media monitoring, media outreach, social listening, and social management solution can do for your brand.

Rogue CEOs: Tips on Building Trust Between PR and Top Executives

When CEOs of corporations make major mistakes or utter unfortunate remarks that harm the organization’s reputation, it’s usually PR that must find a way to fix the situation. Within the past few years, leaders from large companies, including Uber, Papa John’s Pizza, and most recently, Amazon, have all negatively impacted their business through cringe-worthy comments and questionable decisions. All of these situations caused their PR team to mobilize into crisis mode quickly.

Although most PR people may not be dealing with CEOs who are household names, there are plenty of business leaders whose slip ups can lead to an unexpected issue. But what can a PR professional do to avoid or lessen the fallout? And how do you guide a rogue CEO when it’s time to respond to the crisis?

According to Kim Marshall, a seasoned PR pro and co-founder of S’Well Public Relations, it is important for CEOs to be fully media-trained and ready for anything. Although she was not connected with any of the companies mentioned above, she explained that lessons can be learned when it comes to all crisis situations. She said, “CEOs need to understand that in the business world, anything that’s personal becomes instantly public. And a personal crisis can be incredibly embarrassing. But honesty is always the best policy—because you need to show that you are human.”

She pointed out that frequently, a CEO may want to “hide” a crisis or a bad decision. A true PR pro must convince a CEO that a decision was wrong and he or she must change tactics and their response to the media—quickly. She added, “Don’t hide or wait. It’s important to address the issue immediately. Some of the most common mistakes I’ve have seen CEOs make in terms of public relations are not listening to their PR team, not preparing for an interview, not realizing that nothing is really ‘off the record,’ and not understanding the on-the-ground reality of what their front-of-the-line employees are going through during a crisis.”   

Known for her extensive experience in crisis management, Marshall has dealt with a number of crisis where the CEOs did not handle a situation well. In one instance, she was working at a major resort when a tragedy occurred. “The resort featured a “swim with the dolphin” program, and unfortunately, two of the dolphins suddenly died. The backlash was so huge, even Greenpeace was protesting outside the resort. But instead of dealing with this honestly, the CEO recommended to avoid showing the dolphin area to any journalists—a true impossibility since their lagoon was a focal point of the resort.”

She continued, “If we followed this bad advice, it would have caused the resort’s problems to worsen, but I had to convince them to tell the truth and show that we care about the dolphins and the environment. We then launched an educational program, and found the cause of the dolphin deaths was from a toxin from a nearby golf course. After we identified the problem, we were able to clean the area and ensure the other dolphins were healthy.”

Marshall shared another example from years later, when she was working with a luxury resort that hosted a group of influencers. She explained, “We held a dinner in the hotel’s restaurant and unfortunately almost everyone had food poisoning the next day. But instead of doing the right thing, taking the blame and showing remorse, the CEO remarked that they probably caught the flu and didn’t apologize. I did everything I could to help the group, and wrote an apology letter to each person myself. It was seriously a miracle that nothing bad was written about that experience, but I’m sure those influencers won’t be returning to that resort. If the CEO had responded in a kinder way, those individuals would have felt like we cared about their well-being.”

Marshall believes that CEOs should choose wisely when selecting their public relations directors or agencies, as those are the people who will be guiding them during a crisis. She said, “You definitely don’t want a ‘yes’ person or someone who is inexperienced. A tough, smart PR person can save you from a major crisis or a great embarrassment. A professional PR pro is always prepared for anything—and provides the most valuable advice.”

Key Takeaways

Don’t wait until hell breaks loose to get your CEO thinking about the public impact of their words and actions.

  1. Preparation: Your CEO is by default a brand spokesperson. Make sure that she or he understands this, and takes it seriously, especially if your executive is on social or interacting with journalists and influencers. 
  2. Trust: Everyone can slip up, but not everyone is prepared to take accountability for it. Sometimes ever. Let your executive know that you’re here to fix messes, and are prepared to take the lead when that happens.

For a complete guide to crisis management, read our ebook on using media intelligence to prepare for crisis—or better yet, avoid it altogether.