A.wordsmith

Trade Media: Making a Bigger Impact

TRADE MEDIA

While trade media outreach sometimes takes a backseat to national media, it may be time to reconsider its role in your PR efforts. Why? It can be an invaluable part of your PR program, reaching niche audiences that can have a bigger impact on your business goals and establishing you as a leader in your industry. Here are a few reasons why trade media should be front in center in your PR program:

 

You can reach a highly targeted audience

Let’s get one of the top concerns about trade publications out of the way: they may not have the massive following of national outlets, but in reality, their smaller subscriber count is a great advantage to your PR program.

These specialized publishers target only one industry – software development, consulting or manufacturing, for example, and there are trade publications for every industry. The majority of their readers are knowledgeable in their respective fields. Typically, they are highly passionate about industry topics, and it’s likely that many will be interested in learning about your product, service or reading your thought leadership. The highest impact stories aren’t always a matter of hitting the biggest audience — often, they’re about targeting the right audience.

 

You can take a deeper dive with trade media

Since trade media audiences are educated on your industry, they offer the chance to showcase the depth of your expertise, particularly in technical or niche industries. For example, while you may not be able to cover all the details of a new product when working with mainstream media, trade media audiences often want the nitty-gritty detail. Trade media are often happy to discuss the ins-and-outs of a new product or point of view at length to gain a more complete understanding.

In interviews, reporters will be more educated on industry topics and ask more in-depth (and sometimes tougher) questions. This is also an opportunity to dive deep into a story or issue in ways that may not be relateable to a general audience.

 

It increases your credibility and establishes you as a major player

For those that are launching their PR program, have recently started a new business, or are just seeking to become better-known, it’s important to create a foundation that establishes you as a key player to watch in your industry.

Trade journals are typically edited by trusted experts who have decades of experience in the field. Stories in these journals are considered highly credible, and can increase awareness of your expertise, products or services, and leadership.

 

It positions you as an excellent media source

When pitching local or national media, pointing to previous coverage in trade publications shows that you understand how to work with media and provide them with the information and resources that they need. National media also occasionally scours both trade and local media for stories that can be nationalized.

Leaders, according to me

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What is a leader?  It’s a question I think about often.  I think about the people who surround me that I consider to be leaders. I think about the state of the country and the world and the people who we call leaders because of their titles, but maybe little else.  I think of everyday people who step out of their comfort zone to lead – maybe even when they didn’t intend to do so. And I think about myself and analyze my own ability to lead.  Am I doing it right? Am I doing it enough? Am I equipped?  How can I be better?

What really does it mean to lead?  The good news is that since this is a blog post, there is really no right and wrong answer to that question – just ultimately my opinion.  Which puts me in the advantageous spot of getting to lay out what I think it means to truly lead – and not just lead for the sake of leading, but lead in a way that makes people want to follow.

BE INSPIRED

In my life I’m lucky to know a lot of inspired leaders.  You know the kind of person I’m talking about.  Yes, they are smart.  Yes, they are driven.  But above those characteristics, they are incredible! They make you want to be better, yell “hell yes!” and hitch your wagon to their cart.  When they speak you listen because what they say matters.  They believe – and so do you – that they can make a real, positive difference.  You can literally feel the passion oozing out of them.  I can feel it right now just thinking about them!

BE BOLD

“I just really want to follow a weak leader,” said no one ever. Leaders must be strong – and confident – and also humble. Admitting our own mistakes is perhaps the boldest move out there.  I respect a leader who is not afraid to go outside of the lines, who can speak with conviction and shake up the status quo. Heck, I love a leader who throws out a good ol’ fashioned curse word when they are committed to getting a point across.  It demonstrates a fire in the belly – a refusal of being constrained – a human response that proves they mean business.  The leaders I admire have spunk, compassion, attitude and more than a little hellraiser in them.

BE BRAVE

Leading is hard.  I don’t care if you’re the leader of a Fortune 100 company, a boutique firm or a family of four, sometimes we just don’t want to be the one in charge.  The day before I got married my grandmother imparted some words of wisdom on me: “You set the tone, honey,” she said. “Every day it will be up to you what tone exists in your house and in your life.”  That’s a lot of pressure and I am the first to admit that I mess up the tone all of the time.  And while some people might say that those words aren’t fair, I’d challenge them to whether or not they can truly say the words are wrong.  After all, we do in fact set the tone in everything we do.  What do we bring to the to the office – to the board room – to the dinner table?  As leaders we have to be brave to walk through fire, make tough choices, fight for what we believe in, be there for those around us – and all in a way that instills confidence and a desire to join.

BE YOU!

Everyone can sense a faker.  You can’t pretend to lead – at least not successfully – at something you don’t embrace. That being said, we all can lead when we feel that it’s our calling to do so. When you go with your heart, your conviction and your head, others will inevitably follow.  More than once I’ve let tears flow during staff meetings.  It isn’t because I’m weak or want to quit – quite the opposite.  My passion is so strong for my team and our firm that sometimes that comes out in unflattering ways. But no one can argue that it isn’t me – good, bad and teary.

On our team, every person is a leader. Every person has the ability to impact our outcomes, our clients, our camaraderie, our day.  Go forth and lead with purpose.

Who are some of your favorite leaders?  Here are my top five:

  1. My dad. He taught me early and often to “have pride in myself and what I represent.” And that giving up isn’t an option – ever.
  2. Michelle Obama. “When they go low, we go high.” Enough said.
  3. Rachel Maddow. Because it’s more important than ever to be informed, engaged and aware of what’s happening in this country. And Rachel is relentless when it comes to telling the unedited version of the truth – every single day.
  4. Jessi Duley. Owner of Burncycle and entrepreneur extraordinaire, I admire Jessi for her drive, passion and flat-out bad-assery.  Plus, she’s changed my life, so there’s that.
  5. Bernard Daly. Unless we grew up together, you don’t know him but he was a doctor, businessman, banker, rancher, state representative, state senator, county judge, and adviser at Oregon State University. He also ran for United States Congress, and was his party’s candidate for the United States Senate. No joke. And by “his party” it should be noted that he was a Democrat – and a beloved one at that – in a county that was and still is a Republican stronghold.  His selfless act of establishing the Daly Fund has meant college educations for generations of Lake County, Oregon students, including me. So yeah, he changed my life too. But mostly he proved that it doesn’t matter if you’re a small-town kid or from the big city, when you put your mind to it, you can do literally anything.

 

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Sustainable Brand Design

Environmental concerns are increasingly top of mind for companies across the globe. And rightly so–global warming, growing populations, and shrinking resources mean environmental responsibility must become a priority for huge brands, especially those that are consumer-based. As long as people buy things, there will be resources used and waste produced. But there are many ways to reduce resources used as well as the resulting waste (and maybe even to do a little good for the environment).

The obvious and most common practices (though they are still often priced higher than standard printing methods) include using environmentally-friendly inks and print on recycled stock. Packaging in recyclable substrates is great if possible. Minimizing said packaging is even better. But what are some of the less obvious ways brands can walk the walk when it comes to being eco-conscious?

EcoBranding

What is EcoBranding? We don’t seem to have a clear, universal definition (yet), but one method companies may consider to employ “eco-branding” is through reduced use of ink in the company brand itself. By designing logos with fewer flood colors, a substantial amount of ink can be saved over the millions of printed products a brand creates and sells every year. Ink savings can also be captured by using certain typefaces, as well as colors and images that require smaller quantities of ink.

Ecobranding Interbrand shares some interesting examples of how it can turn a regular brand into an eco brand.

ecobranding

Logo design, font faces, color selection, and even image treatments can impact ink usage levels.

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These logos look a little different than we’re used to…

Make it Last

A consumer company’s usual goal is to sell lots of product. So this will be a hard sell for many, but what if companies built such great products, they didn’t need to be replaced? Building products to last is one of the ways certain forward-thinking companies are focusing on the environment. Patagonia (recognized for a number of its environmentally responsible practices) famously asked customers NOT to buy one of its products.

Don't Buy This Jacket

Patagonia’s surprising ad in the NYTimes many years ago.

From a statement on its website around the campaign:

“Businesses need to make fewer things but of higher quality. Customers need to think twice before they buy. Why? Everything we make takes something from the planet we can’t give back.”

They may sell fewer units, but they reap rewards in brand loyalty over the course of certain buyers’ lifetimes.

Unique papers

Paper is made of trees. Unless it’s not…

According to Wikipedia, sources of fiber for tree-free paper can include agricultural residues (i.e. sugarcane bagasse, husks and straw), fiber crops and wild plants (such as bamboo, kenaf, hemp, jute, and flax), textiles and cordage wastes, and non-fiber sources like calcium carbonate bound by a non-toxic high-density polyethylene resin.

And Arjowiggins Creative Papers has recently released a paper line called Curious Matters “derived from spherical particles of raw potato starch (a by-product of the food industry).” Perhaps you’ve seen seed papers (paper products with flower seeds incorporated, for fun and easy planting), which indicates that perhaps paper products could turn into crops.

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Potato paper! Cleverly titled for rare and special spud types.

Small actions, big impact

Brands can think more big-picture, considering all the potential environmental impacts the brand design may have along the way. AIGA has a great roadmap for sustainable design considerations, including topics like Creation, Durability, Disassembly, Supply Chain, Waste, Impacts, Conflicts, Desirability and Need / Use, Waste = Food, and Visions (eg., “In what ways can this project compel people to make more sustainable lifestyle choices?”).

The future depends on it

Brands who are serious about environmentally-friendly practices have a number of creative options now, and will continue to have access to new and better practices around reducing their footprint. While certain “green” stocks and inks are currently more expensive than the traditional standards, more unique approaches like designing a logo for less ink usage can actually save a company money. The first step is to determine how valuable a pursuit sustainable design is for your company. Thoughtful stewardship of our earth’s resources seems like a pretty worthwhile investment to me.

Listen to these Podcasts for New Marketing and PR Ideas

PR + Marketing podcasts

More than 67 million Americans now listen to a podcast monthly, up 14 percent over last year. For those that commute or lead busy lives (who doesn’t these days?), podcasts are an excellent tool to learn about a new topic, become immersed in a story or simply keep track of the day’s news. Here’s a few of our picks for marketing and PR podcasts to help build your knowledge in marketing or get a few new ideas for outreach.

 

The Science of Social Media

Produced by the staff at social media management software company Buffer, this podcast features an interview with a top social media executive each week including NASA’s head of digital strategy, HubSpot’s VP of marketing and other notable industry standard-bearers.  This podcast is a fun listen, and offers actionable insights for those who manage social media.

 

Mixergy

This podcast publisher covers business topics far beyond marketing, but their interviews with marketing leaders offer fantastic advice on everything from SEO and chatbots, to design and video development. The interviewees on the podcast are experienced businesspeople who aim to help listeners learn from their own experience.

 

S-Town

Not a marketing podcast, you say? It may not appear so at first listen, but there’s a lot to be learned through this podcast about narrative structure and uncovering deep, meaningful stories (especially where they’re not always obvious.) In this 7-episode series, host Brian Reed perfectly captures the environment of small-town Alabama and the personality of its residents, who he spent nearly three years with to create the show. In the process, he weaves an unforgettable story.

 

Inside PR

Hosted by Gini Dietrich of Spin Sucks along with Joe Thornley of 76engage and Seneca College PR professor Martin Waxman, this podcast covers the top PR news headlines of the week and dives deep into industry hot topics. Each episode comes in at around 30 minutes, making this a great option to build your knowledge while on your lunch break or commute.

3 Ways Glossier is Owning their Strategic Communications

Working in office situation

Working in the field of PR and communications, it’s interesting and refreshing to observe companies who “get it”. I have to admit to personally being a fan of Glossier and their products – but their smart approach to thought leadership, communications and social media is equally as engaging from a business perspective. Glossier effortlessly and expertly weaves together all the elements that support strategic communications – and as someone that falls directly into their customer target, I can tell you it’s working.

Glossier CEO and Founder Emily Weiss started the company after years of running a highly successful beauty blog called Into the Gloss. The blog was built around interviews with women from all walks of life, providing peeks into their beauty routines and products. Eventually, Weiss saw a gap in the beauty industry and created her own products that she felt would best appeal to what her readers were missing.

Emily Weiss, photo credit: Entrepreneur

Emily Weiss, photo credit: Entrepreneur

Elevating their leader

Weiss had a thought leadership advantage with Into the Gloss – she’d already established herself as an industry expert before she launched any products.  Into the Gloss still plays a crucial role in Weiss and Glossier’s thought leadership. The blog is fully established as a stand-alone expert source referring readers to a wide range of products, from beauty store moisturizers to exotic skin serums.  While Into the Gloss is closely tied to the Glossier brand, I’m often surprised how little they push their own products, obviously being conscious of being over “sales-y”.

Weiss’s thought leadership is not limited to the realms of make-up and self-care. She presents herself as a business thought leader as well. She’s established herself as an expert on building a socially driven beauty brand as well as a successful woman entrepreneur who secured $24 million in B series funding last November. Weiss frequently posts about speaking engagements, business events she attends.

Finally, Glossier’s thought leadership includes multiple members of their staff recognizing their value and influence in the company’s success. While Weiss is the face of the company, Into the Gloss and their social channels regularly feature the different areas of their team, from IT to product development to administration.

Social, Social, Social.

Glossier’s social media is a case study for everything social can be. It’s valuable and engaging, attractive and pristinely branded. While it may look effortless, it’s clearly methodical and well-planned.

They’re Instagram story experts – whether giving an inside look into the office or creating mini-videos about different products.  Users are engaged with reoccurring posts such as #wallpaperfridays where Glossier features a new image followers can screen cap for personal use. The images always fit within the overall branding.

Glossier makes use of user generated content and routinely quotes customer feedback. Weiss is quoted in a Fast Company article saying: “We think of things from a content perspective: How would this show up in a user-generated photo?” Smart.  User generated content not only builds rapport with customers (most millennial users love having their photo shared with 690,000 people), but also demonstrates how willing their customers are to share their involvement with the brand. Glossier’s social channels feature photos and videos of customers using their products.

glossier insta 2Glossier insta1

Killer Content (visual and copy)

Glossier’s brand voice is conversational and witty. Their website reads like a conversation you would have with your confident, takes-no-BS best friend. In an interview with Tech Crunch, Weiss said Glossier approaches content as talking to a customer as one would text a friend. This approach is evident everywhere – from social media to product descriptions.

Here’s some examples of their website copy.

“We Make Emails: “We do this thing where we send email updates on stuff you’ll probably want to know about: new products, Into The Gloss posts, promos, and parties. Unsubscribe anytime.”

Balm Dot Com product description: “Opt for Original, or choose from five mood-enhancing flavors: Birthday (inspired by Milk Bar’s famous cake, with subtle shimmer), Rose (with a barely-there pink tint), Cherry (with a sheer, juicy red tint), Mint, and Coconut. The lip-smacking 11-year-old in you is freaking out right now. Collect them all!”

Glossier describes themselves perfectly with this description: “We’re the beauty brand that wants to be friends with you—mostly because we’re not so much a brand as we are real people over here just trying to rethink the beauty industry and have a good time doing it.”

Glossier, I want to be your friend too.

 

6 Design Tips for Better White Papers

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In our digital world of social media attention spans and interactive brand experiences, the traditional white paper isn’t necessarily the most exciting way to convey content. But white papers still play an important role in many B2B organizations, as objective and informative pieces to aid sales, act as lead generation tools, and provide a means to position an organization as a thought leader in a given field. How can you ensure people will actually read your white paper? I have a few design pointers to help liven up this traditionally text-heavy document.

Make it read like a story

When I’m confronted with a wall of text, the first thing I want to do is break it into digestible chunks. Even if these chunks of content end up being a number of pages, I still find “chapters” easier to process than a run-on document. Breaking the white paper content into sections provides opportunities to insert visual interest elements like photography, graphic title treatments, or clever subtitles. Allowing the reader to take a break and come back later makes for a better, less burdensome reading experience.

Include images

Relevant photography and graphics support the content and provide visual interest. They also allow for visual “rest” as the reader processes technical content. Abstract imagery can highlight larger overall themes, especially if woven in as a series.

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White Paper for North Highland

 

Use interesting layouts

Full-page columns are uninviting and difficult to read; leveraging multiple columns, ¾ column layouts with sidebars, and ample use of whitespace make for a much more interesting reading experience. Thoughtfully placed callouts and quotes give readers a taste of what’s coming, break up the page, and add a bit of variety in color and typefaces.

ascend-layouts

White paper example from Ascend Studio

 

Include infographics 

White papers often include lots of facts and figures, and those data points are much more interesting and impactful in graphic form. Charts, tables, and even type-based data callouts help highlight key pieces of data, and add pops of color to otherwise plain pages.

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White paper example from Art Version

 

Embrace white space

Yes, white space will result in increased page count. But I am much more willing to read a longer piece with a comfortable layout than a shorter piece with cramped, tedious blocks of copy.

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White Paper for Sparks Grove

 

Make it colorful

Embracing whitespace does not mean avoiding color. Thoughtfully placed pops of color help create visual hierarchies, and immediately enhance an otherwise boring page. Some of the most text-heavy pages are immediately improved with just a spot of color or two.

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Tableau Visual Analytics White Paper

A beautifully designed whitepaper looks professional, is a pleasure to peruse, and represents the expertise contained within. A positive visual experience helps legitimize the content and create a sense of trustworthiness for the reader. It also makes the piece much more shareable, making for broader exposure to your content and brand.

Social Media Strategy: How to Manage Multiple Pages

small business social media

For small to medium sized businesses, launching and managing a social media campaign can be challenging. The budget often doesn’t allow for outside support or hiring an extra team member to help the marketing team (if the business even has a marketing team). Executing great social media strategy also takes a lot of time, effort, and a long-term investment – a lot to add to someone’s already very full plate! Still, social media can be a boon for smaller businesses; making the effort should be a priority in any marketing strategy.

When businesses have more than one location, or specific products that may warrant their own separate social media pages, things can get even more complicated. Not only are there multiple social media platforms to contend with, there are multiple pages that need specific content fine-tuned for individual audiences. However, it is a beast that can be managed. Here are four tips for keeping your multi-channel, multi-account social media campaigns on track.

Utilize a content calendar

social media strategyTo excel at social media, a business will need to have a long-term idea of their goals and strategy. Scrambling to come up with a post at 3 PM every afternoon is not only stressful, it’s not a great use of your time. Sure, you’ll have content up, but it might not be targeted or well thought out. Your social media campaigns should tie into your overall marketing strategy.  One of the easiest ways to streamline your social media process is by using a content calendar. Using Google Docs, DropBox, or good ol’ fashioned Excel, create a monthly social media calendar. At the end of each month, spend some time going over your marketing plans for the next month, and create social media content that ties in to those goals. Depending on current events and business happenings, the calendar may need to change – so keep things flexible.

Use a scheduling tool

Once you have your carefully drafted and thought out social media calendar in hand, starting your week each Monday will be a lot easier. To make it even better: utilize a social media scheduling tool to schedule post in bulk for the week ahead.

There are several paid and (mostly) free options for that business can take advantage of. On the most basic end, some platforms like Facebook offer built in schedulers. There are some outside platforms like Hootsuite that offer a free option. There also several platforms available for monthly subscriptions that offer a wealth of analytics and info that may be difficult to access otherwise. Spend some time at the beginning of the week getting everything scheduled across all your pages and channels. This doesn’t get you off the hook the rest of the week, however; you’ll need to check in daily to make sure things are posting and check in on audience feedback.

Tweak content for each platform

For each platform, and each page within that platform (such as pages for different business locations), you’ll want to finetune the content. It’s totally acceptable to use the same content across your channels – your newest blog post, for example – but the actual post will need tweaked for each audience. Also, consider that some of your Facebook audience may follow you on other channels too – they probably won’t want to see the same exact post three times in a row.

When planning your content for the month, consider posting the same piece to different channels on different days and times. Be sure to use analytics tools to get to know your audience on each channel, and understand what will fit them best.

social analytics

Use free, built-in analytics

While there are platforms that offer in-depth analytics tools for social media, a good portion of small businesses won’t have the budget available for it. Thankfully, you can glean a wealth of information from several channels built in analytics tools.

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Instagram all offer at least basic insights tools. We have a more in-depth POV on this topic, which you can check out here. When you’re managing multiple profiles, analytics become even more important – your audience will be able to tell if you’re just posting the same thing across the board. Multiple business pages offer the opportunity to get personal and make authentic connections with smaller, more targeted audiences.

 

The most important thing to keep in mind when planning a strategy for one page or 10 is that social media is about the long game. There will be trial and error, experiments, and a few risks needed when you first start out. As your audience builds organically over time, you’ll gain their trust and approval – something that can’t and won’t happen overnight.

Tools to Help Copywriters Find Their Flow

Tools to help copywriters

In an ideal world, copywriters would have time to let inspiration strike. We would get to brainstorm, let ideas incubate, bounce them back and forth with fellow writers. You know, just like Peggy Olson and Don Draper did on Mad Men. In the real world though, copywriters often have to come up with creative and compelling copy on the spot, alone and sometimes even without a proper brief.

Like most writers, I’m a pen hoarder. But through the years I have compiled a set of tools to help copywriters that make the writing process easier and more enjoyable. The following free apps and websites have rescued me countless times when deadlines were creeping up. Let’s take a look.

Thesaurus.com

I’m going to start with this one even if you roll your eyes because sometimes having a reliable thesaurus by your side makes all the difference. I use Thesaurus.com as often as I reference the AP Style Guide and I’m not ashamed of it. Plus, it’s the most comprehensive thesaurus online and a cool mobile app, and it has never failed me.

Words to Use

This tool may sound like it works as a thesaurus, but it does a lot more than grouping words by their meaning. Words to Use groups subject-related words by parts of speech like nouns, verbs and phrases. The list was created in 2008 by copywriter Amy Pogue, and it continues to grow as a resource for anyone who writes.

Un-Stuck-It

I write a lot of B2B materials and sometimes I unintentionally carry business jargon to less formal, more conversational pieces. Un-Stuck-It is a free web app with a sense of humor that helps you find words that flow better and that may resonate more with your audience.

Free Dictionary’s Idioms Dictionary

Though I would never advise a fellow copywriter to use idioms, I do encourage them to search Free Dictionary’s Idioms Dictionary as an exercise to find new meaning in those overused and trite words. Who knows, you may find a brilliant pun that actually works!

Rhymezone

I never thought I would ever have to write copy in rhymes, until it happened. A client wanted a TV spot to sound like a Bob Dylan poem read by a cowboy in the voice of the dude from the Big Lebowski. Turns out, I was only able to make one of those things happen and I owe it all to Rhymezone.

Live-Keyword Analysis

I see a lot of brands stuffing keywords onto their pages. Over-optimizing SEO is a dangerous game and can get some websites penalized. Plus, contrived SEO is as bad as terrible writing and your audience will quickly notice it. Live-Keyword Analysis helps you calculate the density of keywords in your text so you can reach that sweet spot.

Hemingway App

When Ernest Hemingway’s real estate in Cuba was cleared, his family found some notes he had seemingly written to himself, in pencil. One reads: “You can phrase things clearer and better.” And the other: “You can remove words which are unnecessary and tighten up your prose.” The creators of the Hemingway App took his notes to heart and developed a program that highlights overly complicated words and suggests alternatives. The app also calls out adverbs, difficult-to-read-sentences and passive voice. The way Hemingway himself would’ve liked it.

Cold Turkey

If you’re like me, you get easily distracted when you’re writing. You go to a site to do some research and before you know it, you’re on a news site or reading emails. Thankfully, there’s help. Cold Turkey helps you quit this terrible habit by locking you out of certain sites or apps for a period of time. While there are many other distraction blocker sites out there, I find Cold Turkey to be the most customizable and easy to use.

Writefull

Writefull is a neat add-on that uses artificial intelligence to improve your writing. The app checks your writing by running it against a database of correct language. It helps you hear how your text reads, translates text in any language into English and finds out which words you’re using most often.

Urban Dictionary

Have you head of galories? They’re calories women consume when you go out with your girl friends. Not to be confused with palories, the calories men consume when they’re hanging out with their pals. Trust me, you’re not getting old, language is just…evolving. Urban Dictionary has been around for ages and it has saved me from sounding like I live under a rock multiple times.

Tools to help copywriters

Happy writing!

 

Your Most Underutilized PR Resource: Your Employees

your most underutilzed pr resource

 

Listening to your customers via social media, review sites, website comments and other digital forums has become second nature for most businesses, but many aren’t always the best at listening to their own employees’ stories. That means many businesses are missing out on a major internal resource for their PR efforts. Your own employees can be an excellent source for compelling stories that humanize your brand, engage your customers and add authenticity to your marketing. Here’s why you should consider sourcing stories from within your business:

 

Why are employee stories important for PR?

Sometimes the most effective way to tell your business or product story isn’t through the CEO or the voices of your customers, but by sharing the experiences of your employees. According to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, employees are trusted between 16-38 percent more than CEOs on issues ranging from financial earnings to innovation. Today’s audiences can tell when a story is a little too sleek. In the age of social media and constant digital connection, authenticity is key to connecting with customers. Adding the right internal voice to your PR efforts lends credibility to your cause and showcases that your company practices what it preaches.

A product designer may have a fascinating reason why a feature was added to a product, or an engineer might be the best voice to debate a hot topic in your industry. Do you have employees that volunteer their professional skills in the community, or have inspiring stories about how they came to be where they are? These are all good starting points to begin connecting with your employees and start working their stories into your PR strategy.

 

The payoff

Sourcing stories from your employees can provide a big payoff for your PR campaigns. Take for example this Business Insider story of two Google employees who lived in their van for two years, which highlights the unique culture and opportunities the company provides. Or this Portland Business Journal story about a Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield team investigating fraudulent Medicare billing, which drives up costs for their customers. By mining stories from their internal teams, both companies leveraged new ideas that share their message and lend an extra air of authenticity to their brand story.

 

How do I start uncovering these stories?

There’s a simple way to start gathering employee stories: listen. Your business likely already has a variety of methods for this, from regular team meetings to staff recognition programs. Start mining those existing efforts for new story ideas. Your team managers and HR will be your best friends here – start a regular dialogue to help them start thinking in “story mode.” Since they spend the most time interacting with employees, it’s paramount to get them thinking about PR as an everyday activity and start sharing stories that could be good candidates for PR outreach.

Customer Service on Snapchat

snapchat customer service

In its short history, Snapchat has grown from a novelty app to a social media platform in which brands are eager to pioneer new styles of social media campaigns. From branded lens and geofilters, to influencer “story takeovers” and specialized in-app ads, there’s a multitude of ways for brands to utilize Snapchat. Users on Snapchat tend to be digital natives, younger and turned off by traditional advertising. They expect personal connections from the brands they love and buy from. Snapchat is a natural platform for these connections, and some brands are taking it to the next level by using the app as a customer service tool.

Brands have already discovered that Twitter makes a great customer service tool and allows for quick responses – but it doesn’t allow for voice or face-to-face conversations. Early adopters of Snapchat are discovering that the platform offers the direct connection of Twitter, with the added benefit of video to help solve customer issues, and puts a friendly face on customer service. Here are three ways brands are elevating customer experience through Snapchat.

customer service

Troubleshoot customer service problems with video

For certain consumer and B2B brands, troubleshooting product issues can be difficult over the phone. But busy consumers often don’t have time to come back into the shop, ship the product back, or make an appointment to have their defective product looked at. Forward-thinking companies like iOgrapher are experimenting with applying Snapchat’s convenient video messaging to their troubleshooting process. Customers with concerns can make a short Snapchat video describing the problem and send it directly to the business’ account. This is convenient for both customer and business: The consumer gets a quick, easy way to send in a “support ticket,” and the business gets a physical look at what the problem is, rather than trying to decipher the issue over email or phone. While this might be difficult for one customer service rep to manage for large corporations (and the multitude of customer issues they respond to daily), small to mid-size startups and businesses can use the platform as a free tool to connect to consumers where they are and respond in a more personal way.

Phone calls without a call center

Occasionally, customers don’t need (or want) to use a video to discuss the challenges they’re having with a product – a phone call can suffice. But some call center systems can be frustrating to deal with, and no one enjoys listening to hold music for 20-30 minutes while they wait to speak to an actual human. Using Snapchat’s phone call feature, brands can connect with customers on an app they’re already spending time on. Brands need to connect with their audiences where they “live” – and that probably isn’t on an automated phone system.

Tutorials and guides

Particularly with beauty, food and health products, consumers love to see real people using and explaining products before they make a purchase. Whether it’s showcasing the variety of ways to use a hairstyling product or sharing a recipe using a new food item, brands can build goodwill by helping their customers learn how to use what they sell more efficiently. Snapchat is a perfect platform for tutorial videos. Brands can use their own staff or partner with popular influencers and offer tutorial videos for their followers. When advertised beforehand on other social platforms, brands can ensure an audience for their Snapchat story (which will only stay live for 24 hours).

 

Though still in its early stages (and facing strong competition from Instagram’s Stories), Snapchat is still growing in popularity, especially among the younger age set. Brands who jump in now will be ahead of many companies, and will be able to experiment and pave the way in this new field of customer service. Customers will continue to demand personal, authentic connections, and brands that adapt to these needs will only benefit.