Posts Taged communications

How to tie your social media strategy to your SEO

social media and seo

Public relations and marketing professionals have learned over the last few years that they can’t exist in silos and get exceptional results for their brands. Integrated strategies are vital for success. PR and marketing live in different sandboxes, but they have to learn how to play well together. This is particularly clear with the relationship between social media and SEO. These two areas can and do exist separately, but when paired together can produce stronger results for both teams.

Both social media and SEO are part of a long-term strategy. You might not get a million followers or a hundred new links within a month, but with the right foundation, these strategies can bolster your brand reputation and bring in new customers and leads. Together, these two tools can expand and strengthen the “touch points” where your customer interacts with your brand. With enough “touches” over time, you can create dedicated and repeat customers. Here are three tips for tying your social media strategy to your SEO plan.

Choose the right platforms, get them on brand, and update regularly

You don’t have to be on every single social media platform, but the ones you have add links to your online presence. Choose the ones that are right for your brand and focus on doing those platforms well. Make sure your content is planned out and integrated into your overall communications strategy. Update each platform regularly and with content targeted to your specific audiences on each channel. Facebook is different than LinkedIn, and LinkedIn is different than Pinterest, so be sure to craft and fine tune content for each. Be sure that the branding, logos, and overall tone of voice match across each platform. When someone Googles your company, they may click the Facebook link rather than your website link; be sure they get the same story and message (just honed for Facebook etiquette) that they would from your homepage.

Create shareable and engaging content

With social media, crafting and posting your content is step one. Step two is getting engagement, shares, and mentions from your followers – and in turn, boosted SEO results. The more people publicly share your content, the more links and mentions are available for your brand, which helps boost your reputation with search engines. To get your followers to share your content, it needs to be right for the platform, relatable, and well crafted. Sharing content on social media as an individual is often an endorsement of the thoughts and ideas within – it has to be great for your followers to associate with it. Posts that are short and succinct and include a photo or video are more shareable. It also helps if your content is tied into current social media and pop culture trends that are relevant to your brand.

Use your keywords on social

Though there have been changes in the way SEO works, a good portion of it comes back to the keywords you want to be tied to and optimizing your content with these keywords. This is also true on social media; you want your posts to be searchable by the keywords your brand is focusing on. Once you have a solid idea of the keywords your SEO campaign is targeting, find authentic ways to work them in to your social media content. This is particularly helpful on Pinterest and YouTube, where users are often searching for new content by keywords. It can also work on Facebook and Twitter, especially if your pages are well done and have a good reputation with search engines.

Authenticity and PR

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You’ll often hear that public relations is an industry built on relationships. This is true, but there is an added element that goes hand-in-hand with relationships—authenticity.

In an age of curated social media posts (#blessed) and glossy corporate stories sans reference to long hours and employee burnout, consumers are left feeling dubious and duped. Instead of connecting to the brand or business, they are left wondering if what they’re observing is real—and oftentimes it’s not.

People want passion, struggle and relatable content. Storytelling in communications provides the perfect example for the importance of authentic communication. A story is one of the most common ways humans connect, hence its popularity among PR pros. The elements of a story are important: the hero, their obstacle and their solution are essential to drawing the reader in. However, who tells the story and how they tell it can have a big impact on the authenticity.

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Who’s telling the story?

The storyteller is often the one responsible for how the story is perceived. If there is misalignment between the storyteller’s voice or personality and the story they’re sharing, it’s glaringly obvious to listeners.

One example of this in PR is influencer marketing. Edelman’s 2017 Digital Trends report focused on the trend of influencer marketing. Influencers and those who are highly visible on social platforms often have a distinct voice and personalized connection with their followers which makes them optimal story-sharers. However, scripted and impersonal language can derail an influencer’s ability to connect with their followers.  Consumers are smart enough to recognize what is forced and what is real.

How are they telling it?

An element that is often passed over in storytelling is the “struggle” aspect that resides between the problem and the solution. This is what’s real and real is what matters! Don’t leave out the hard stuff because of concern that it doesn’t position the brand in a positive light.

This quote from a MarketingLand article sums it up perfectly, “The world is hungry for more truth, realness and transparency. Social media platforms are enabling our consumers to express their authentic selves — and they expect the same from the brands they choose.”

Next time you are crafting a story, consider who is telling it and how they’re doing so. It’s these (sometimes) intangible things that make the difference between authenticity and inauthentic content.

 

 

10 Tricks to Appear Smart and Informed

2016 has been hard. In this tumultuous political, cultural and financial climate the conversations and written dialogues have been HEAVY. Never have I so dreaded my Facebook feed.

So I want to take a step back and offer some tips for engaging in these conversations in ways that make you appear smart and informed, but not offensive. Taken from Sarah Cooper’s “10 Tricks to Appear Smart During Meetings,” these insightful tips will help you emerge unscathed from a variety of uncomfortable situations, and always, always look like the smartest person in the room.

1. Draw a Venn diagram

appear smartGetting up and drawing a Venn diagram is a great way to appear smart. It doesn’t matter if your Venn diagram is wildly inaccurate, in fact, the more inaccurate the better. Even before you’ve put that marker down, your colleagues will begin fighting about what exactly the labels should be and how big the circles should be, etc. At this point, you can slink back to your chair and go back to playing Candy Crush on your phone.

2. Translate percentage metrics into fractions

If someone says “About 25% of all users click on this button,” quickly chime in with, “So about 1 in 4,” and make a note of it. Everyone will nod their head in agreement, secretly impressed and envious of your quick math skills.

3. Encourage everyone to “take a step back”

There comes a point in most meetings where everyone is chiming in, except you. Opinions and data and milestones are being thrown around and you don’t know your CTA from your OTA. This is a great point to go, “Guys, guys, guys, can we take a step back here?” Everyone will turn their heads toward you, amazed at your ability to silence the fray. Follow it up with a quick, “What problem are we really trying to solve?” and, boom! You’ve bought yourself another hour of looking smart.

4. Nod continuously while pretending to take notes

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Always bring a notepad with you. Your rejection of technology will be revered. Take notes by simply writing down one word from every sentence that you hear. Nod continuously while doing so. If someone asks you if you’re taking notes, quickly say that these are your own personal notes and that someone else should really be keeping a record of the meeting. Bravo compadre. You’ve saved your ass, and you’ve gotten out of doing any extra work. Or any work at all, if you’re truly succeeding.

5. Repeat the last thing the engineer said, but very very slowly

Make a mental note of the engineer in the room. Remember his name. He’ll be quiet throughout most of the meeting, but when his moment comes everything out of his mouth will spring from a place of unknowable brilliance. After he utters these divine words, chime in with, “Let me just repeat that,” and repeat exactly what he just said, but very, very slowly. Now, his brilliance has been transferred to you and you appear smart. People will look back on the meeting and mistakenly attribute the intelligent statement to you.

6. Ask “Will this scale?” no matter what it is

It’s important to find out if things will scale no matter what it is you’re discussing. No one even really knows what that means, but it’s a good catch-all question that generally applies and drives engineers nuts.

7. Pace around the roomappear smart

Whenever someone gets up from the table and walks around, don’t you immediately respect them? I know I do. It takes a lot of guts but once you do it, you immediately appear smart. Fold your arms. Walk around. Go to the corner and lean against the wall. Take a deep, contemplative sigh. Trust me, everyone will be shitting their pants wondering what you’re thinking. If only they knew (bacon).

8. Ask the presenter to go back a slide

“Sorry, could you go back a slide?” They’re the seven words no presenter wants to hear. It doesn’t matter where in the presentation you shout this out, it’ll immediately make you look like you’re paying closer attention than everyone else is, because clearly they missed the thing that you’re about to brilliantly point out. Don’t have anything to point out? Just say something like, “I’m not sure what these numbers mean,” and sit back. You’ve bought yourself almost an entire meeting of appearing smart.

9. Step out for a phone call

You’re probably afraid to step out of the room because you fear people will think you aren’t making the meeting a priority. Interestingly, however, if you step out of a meeting for an “important” phone call, they’ll all realize just how busy and important you are. They’ll say, “Wow, this meeting is important, so if he has something even more important than this, well, we better not bother him.”

10. Make fun of yourself

If someone asks what you think, and you honestly didn’t hear a single word anyone said for the last hour, just say, “I honestly didn’t hear a single word anyone said for the last hour.” People love self-deprecating humor. Say things like, “Maybe we can just use the lawyers from my divorce,” or “God I wish I was dead.” They’ll laugh, value your honesty, consider contacting H.R., but most importantly, think you’re the smartest looking person in the room.

Facebook Newsfeed Algorithm Updates – 3 Things to Know

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For a company not even two decades old, Facebook has done a fantastic job integrating itself into the daily lives of people around the globe. It quickly became a hot spot for brands looking to connect to a wide variety of audiences, and public relations professionals have been including the platform in their communications plans ever since. However, Facebook hasn’t made their job easy. After successfully positioning themselves as a requirement of nearly any brand’s PR, the social media giant has continuously made it harder for companies to reach their Facebook followers.

Despite keeping up the appearance of a brand friendly platform in recent years, Facebook’s frequent newsfeed algorithm changes have cut back on the reach that companies are able to achieve. Their most recent changes, announced June 29, 2016, will redirect social media users back to what Facebook says was its original intention – connecting with family and friends. Content on users’ newsfeeds will highlight posts from their friends and family, rather than posts from brands and pages. This is a stricter version of a change that has been happening since Facebook did away with its completely chronological newsfeed a few years ago.

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Here’s 3 things for communications pros to keep in mind with the new changes:

Shareable content is more important than total follower count

When users were guaranteed to see most of your page’s posts in their newsfeed, a simple “like” was enough to boost your reach. Now, more than ever, engaging content is the key to reaching your desired audience. Though your page’s posts will take more of a backseat on the newsfeed, there’s still ways to reach your targets through their friends and family. The content now given priority isn’t just posts from friends, it includes highlights of what they’ve commented on and shared. Engaging content is content that gets shared and discussed, and shared content reaches beyond your page followers. Focus on creating content that adds value for your followers and isn’t just marketing. No matter how many followers and likes a brand currently has, there’s potential to reach hundreds if not thousands more through commenting and sharing.

Advertising reach is not affected

The reach of paid ads on Facebook will not be affected by the algorithm changes. Keep in mind, though, that social media users don’t have a high opinion of advertising on these platforms. Have specific goals in mind for your ads, and line up the content with what’s being posted on your page. Think like your consumer – what value can you add for them through a social media advertisement? How can you create the ad to be less intrusive and more engaging?

Don’t put all your eggs in the Facebook basket

While Facebook is still an important tool despite these changes, there are numerous other platforms to take advantage of. Twitter is a fantastic option for direct conversations with your audience, and makes sharing content easy for followers. Snapchat can be a great way for brands to show some behind the scenes footage and try new ideas that might not work well on other platforms. If your company is primarily interested in driving sales through social media, Pinterest is a land of golden opportunity. Facebook will likely continue to be a part of most organizations’ communications plans, but the rapidly changing social media landscape offers new alternatives that can boost a brand’s reach.

The 3 Classic Communications Strategies That Still Matter Today

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As PR professionals, we spend a lot of time keeping up with The Next Big Thing in communications strategies. For good reason – a Google algorithm or trending hashtag can make or break a campaign in today’s constantly-moving media landscape. In many ways, however, there’s nothing new about our jobs. Humans are communicators, and our the way we tell stories, transmit messages, and influence one another doesn’t change much.

The Art of Rhetoric

The foundations of what we now consider the art of persuasion was defined 2,300 years ago. Aristotle, pupil of Plato and tutor to Alexander the Great, is remembered as one of Western society’s first great orators. In between laying the groundwork for the next 2,000 years of scientific research and composing the first formal study of logic, he outlined classic communications strategies for effective speaking and messaging. His Art of Rhetoric describes three methods of persuasion – logos, pathos, and ethos – that a thought leader must rely on.

Alexander and Aristotle

1. Logos

Unsurprisingly, people are persuaded by logical arguments and clear evidence. In American culture, fact-based decision-making is highly valued, and it’s the persuasive strategy most of us learned in school. In marketing, we might point out tests or studies where our product excelled, thus logically demonstrating that it’s the best option for consumers.

2. Ethos

Logic and facts are useless, however, if the audience doesn’t trust the speaker. Ethos represents the need to establish a speaker’s credibility. The words of Jane Smith, Chief Environmental Officer at Eco-Green Company, Inc. carry a lot more weight than those of Jane Smith, the headshot at the bottom of this guest post. While credibility is often derived from expertise, it can also come from endorsements or recommendations, or evidence that the speaker is a good or deserving person.

3. Pathos

It’s tempting to believe that most decision-making is guided by reason, but any communications pro can tell you that emotion is equally important. The most effective speakers, writers and artists make their audience sigh, laugh, smile and cry. The use of pathos relies on eliciting those emotional reactions in the process of persuasion.

 

If the ethics of native advertising have your brain in a twist, or your contacts have dried up from staring at serifs, stop. Take a step back and make sure your message follows these classic communications strategies by being logical, credible, and emotionally appealing. In 2,000 years, the rest will be window dressing.[/text_dd] [/column_dd] [/section_dd]

Direct Mail is Not Dead — Especially Among the 18-34 Crowd

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Despite its reputation as a waning content marketing tool, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) reports that direct mail is still very relevant. In fact, according to a recent study referenced by the SBA, nearly two-thirds of all consumers reported they had purchased something as a result of direct mail in the past year. Among 18-34 year olds who are inundated by spam emails, text messages and banner ads, the SBA suggests that direct mail might even offer a sense of old-school charm that stands out from the rest of the noise. Moreover, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) reports that almost 80 percent of consumers will “…act on direct mail immediately, compared to only 45 percent who say they deal with email straightaway.”

One thing is clear—direct mail is showing no signs of becoming obsolete.

While people could easily make the shift to conduct their entire lives online, many people still opt to keep a balanced mix of online and offline interactions. They find virtue in connecting with a brand through a smartly-worded piece of mail that offers them something they value. Product discounts, reminders and packages are among the most coveted items, while pamphlets and customer magazines fare the worst, according to the DMA.

So, what’s the best way for you to market your business using direct mail? It’s important to remember that personalization is key. What might work for a retail store might not work for the nonprofit next door—and certainly not for most large-scale businesses. However, Adobe’s Digital Marketing blog offers some basic, up-to-date tips that can benefit almost anyone starting a direct mail campaign.

Mickael Bentz, product marketing manager at Adobe, recommends the below:

  • Targeting and personalization are crucial. Remember, your goal is to resonate with individuals, not to simply reach the masses.
  • Use direct mail as part of an overall campaign, as opposed to your only tactic.
  • Use clear and compelling calls-to-action. Often, you will need to repeat your call-to-action several times, as most of us skim our mail.
  • Provide multiple ways for readers to respond.
  • On paper, more information is often better. Keep in mind that people spend more time with information on a piece of paper than they do on a screen.

 

What do you want direct mail to accomplish for your business? Contact us to discuss how to make this tactic a supportive part of your overall communications strategy.

Audience Analysis: What to Do During a Presentation for Effective Communication

Audience Analysis

A few weeks back, we wrote about effective audience analysis and the role it plays in effective communication. More specifically, we went into detail about the first phase: before you are speaking in front of an audience. In this post, we’ll delve a little deeper into what to do during the second phase – once your presentation has begun.

A couple of simple steps will allow you to adapt to your audience on the fly, helping ensure that your message will be communicated effectively.

1. Establish your credibility. The philosopher Aristotle wrote about three different methods of persuasion – ethos, pathos and logos. The first – ethos – is an appeal to the authority or credibility of the presenter. It is how well the presenter convinces the audience that he or she is qualified to speak on the particular subject.

Credibility – considered by some to be your most important asset in business communications  – can make or break a presentation. There are several ways you can increase your credibility in front of an audience that might be unfamiliar with you or your expertise. Among them, Mary Munter wrote in her communications textbook, “Guide to Managerial Communication,” are the strategic use of:

  • Common ground: Establishing shared values or beliefs
  • Expertise: Associating yourself with or citing authoritative sources
  • Goodwill: Emphasizing audience benefits – “what’s in it for them”
  • Image: Using nonverbal and language your audience considers dynamic
  • Rank: Associating yourself with or citing a high-ranking person

 

2. Read your audience. Take regular assessments throughout your communication of how your audience is reacting to your message.

In “Working the Room: How to Move People to Action Through Audience-Centered Speaking,” author Nick Morgan lays out some cues applicable to western audiences (nonverbal cues are often specific to a particular culture):

ACTION INDICATES YOUR RESPONSE
Turning away, averted eyes, crossed arms Adversity Smiling, open gestures, palms open, eye contact
Squirming, minimal eye contact, shoulders slumped Disengagement Change your pace, involve audience or take a break
Shaking head, sighing, huffing, eye rolling Opposition Engage audience
Leaning forward in chairs, moving closer Commitment Confirm commitment and move on to the next topic

What other tools and tactics do you use to adapt to your audience during a speech?

3 Tools for Staying on Top of News & Trends

Working in public communications means you’ll likely spend a decent amount of time each week perusing news newspaperheadlines, industry publications, and social media hashtags. In order to best represent your clients and find prime opportunities for coverage, you need to be aware of the top trends and breaking news. This includes public relations news, industry talk pertaining to your clients, and worldwide stories. However, in a public relations specialist’s busy schedule, how can you get the most out of the time you have to browse media? I have three PR tools I check in with each day that help keep me informed without draining too much of my work time.

 

  • PR Daily & PR Week
    • It’s not all about the clients – PR pros have their own trends and news to watch, too. These two sites offer comprehensive daily coverage of what’s new and exciting in the world of public relations. From major agency announcements to news about updated social media analytics tools, anyone in PR can stay in the loop with a quick browse each day. Both sites also offer articles and webinars to improve your skills, and more humorous, fun articles – like this one about PR lessons from the Star Wars

 

  • Industry Specific News
    • Many of us work with clients in industries that we aren’t initially experts in. However, in order to pitch media successfully and write engaging content for these clients, we need to spend time increasing our knowledge. An easy way to do this is research the top publications in the client’s industry, and sign up for daily or weekly newsletters. Google alerts set for client-related phrases are also a great option, as is following industry thought leaders on Twitter. You can use Twitter lists to organize by client or field, and then browse your list each week to see what’s being discussed in that particular arena. You can also subscribe to top blogs related to your client, and set up an RSS feed.

 

  • The Skimm
    • the skimmThe Skimm is a free, curated morning email covering news in the USA and worldwide. It’s sent out in time for you to read with your morning coffee, and head into work more informed. Stories are shared in short blurbs, so you can get the most important information quickly. Most stories have hyperlinks for more information if you have some extra time. The overall tone is more lighthearted and fun, so it never
      reads like dull, typical morning headlines. Recently, The Skimm has featured quick interviews with current presidential candidates, to help readers get to know them prior to next year’s elections. The email also frequently features fun giveaways and trivia to add a little more for readers.

How To Be A Successful Public Speaker

Have you ever wondered why TED talks draw millions of views online? Is it because they are more compelling or pertinent to a large audience? Or is it because the speaker is popular or famous? These questions can be answered by research from Science of People, who have collected data and insight into why some talks are more popular than others.

The average person will encounter a handful of staff meetings, conferences, presentations, lectures and/or talks in their lifetime. Some will even have to give some – leading those to ask, what makes a successful public speaker? In any environment, whether in a classroom or professional setting, one must learn how to effectively and successfully speak and present to others. Below are some helpful tips on how to do so.

Public Speaker Takeaway Tips

  1. It’s not what you say, but how you say it. Everyone has sat through their fair share of lectures or staff conferences about the same dull topic and leaves the
    The body and Public Speaking

    The body and Public Speaking

    audience tired and yawning. How you present your content is crucial – the success of your discussion is linked to what you physically do rather than what you say. Shocking? Even though we want people to focus on our words, most effective communication is in the form of nonverbal signs and cues. If you stand in the same spot and point at a screen the entire time, your audience doesn’t recognize involvement in the topic, which leads into the next tip.

  2. The more you move your body, the better. Gestures are a nonverbal way to show and build trust. Studies have found that when we see a person’s hands, we have an easier time trusting them. This is true for the rest of your body. If you move away from the podium or table you are standing at, your audience can see your entire body and therefore can see all of you moving.
  3. Vocal variety is important. Anyone who has completed a Toastmaster certification will learn the importance of vocal variety in their training. No one wants to listen to a monotone speaker who memorized the entire talk– so raise your voice, tell a story, laugh, shout and do what you need to do to show that you are a human and have more than one level to your voice. It increases how memorable your talk will be and gets your audience engaged in your topic.
  4. Make first impressions count. Researchers have noted that audience members form opinions about a talk in the first seven seconds. Researcher, Nalini Ambady calls this ‘thin-slicing.’ She says that for efficiency purposes, the brain makes very quick judgments of people within the first few seconds of meeting them. This usually happens before any words are exchanged. This means you must take the time to think about how you enter the room, how you address the audience and how you deliver your first line. My advice? Make a grand entrance.

 

Whether you are a student, employee, CEO or average Joe, chances are you will have to get up in front of a group of people and speak at some point in your life. Why not make that talk memorable for your audience? If you’re engaged and successful, you may even inspire others.

Rabbit Pelt Ad Draws Controversy, Pizzeria Tries to Save Skin

 

Just in time for Easter, the New Zealand pizza chain Hell Pizza created a controversial billboard advertising its newest pizza topping, smoked rabbit, by covering the billboard with real rabbit pelts and the tagline:

“Rabbit Pizza. Made from real rabbit. Like this billboard.”

rabbit billboard

As you can imagine, it received quite a bit of criticism from animal activists and others offended by the use of rabbit skins.

Although the billboard was obviously designed to be provocative, Hell Pizza had a very clear stance and was quick to defend itself on Facebook by pointing out that rabbits are considered environmentally devastating pests in New Zealand, and the pelts were a regular by-product from a local meat processing company. In addition, only wild rabbit meat, not farmed, is used on their pizza.

controversial billboard advertising

The New Zealand Vegetarian Society, which originally called the billboard “deplorable” later issued a statement saying:

“While people insist on eating animals, using wild South Island rabbits (which Hell has confirmed they are) who are causing significant environmental damage is perhaps a more ethical choice than farming an animal to turn into food. The billboard, though confrontational and offensive to many, did not create any further harm to animals.”

In this case, Hell Pizza chose to be proactive with their controversial billboard advertising, and received international attention for their efforts, but had a clear and immediate response to the controversy, which I am sure they expected.