Our Latest Event Planning Venture: the PERQ Launch Party at Verge Pitch Night

Here at Dittoe Public Relations, media relations is what we do best.  But we like to flex our event planning muscles at every opportunity and have brainstormed, planned and executed numerous events of all sizes for clients. The latest event we’ve been working on is one that is extremely exciting. Within the past few months, we’ve been thrilled to work with PERQ, an Indianapolis tech marketing company that specializes in incentive-based promotions for retailers and other businesses.

Fresh off a brand re-launch in which they consolidated a few businesses all under the CIK Enterprises umbrella, PERQ is using this event to celebrate in the success of its new brand and show off its newly re-designed office building. And this re-design goes far beyond a can of paint and some new office furniture!

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PERQ’s walls are now adorned with custom photo prints that showcase the qualities that the PERQ team employs: grit, magnetism, savvy, competitive greatness and philanthropy. And even though PERQ’s co-founders are Hanover grads, they’re showing their Hoosier pride with an IU-themed Big Head wall which plays as a backdrop to their basketball court and game room. (Yes, they have a game room, how cool is that?) Getting jealous? Well prepare to get thirsty! PERQ also added a custom bar to their building, which will definitely be put to good use during the party!

Members of the community, marketing tech folks, the media and some of PERQ’s clients will all be gathering Wednesday for the official PERQ launch party! This will double as a Verge event and pitch night as well, with tours of the new PERQ building, giveaways, a pitch from TechPoint’s Mike Langellier and a fireside chat with PERQ’s co-founders. Brews, pizza and appetizers will be served as guests take in the new building, learn about PERQ and network.

What: PERQ Launch Party at Verge Pitch Night
When: Wednesday, Nov. 20, 6-9 p.m.
Where: PERQ – 7225 Georgetown Rd.

Interested in coming? Sign up on Eventbrite today. We’ll see you there!

 

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The Do’s and Don’t’s of Addressing Crises via Social Media

It’s 2012 and most businesses are now active on social media (if you’re part of a company that isn’t, contact Dittoe PR, we’ll help ya out). While it’s great that so many companies are seeing the extensive benefits of socializing with their customers and fans via the world wide web, there are some businesses that still don’t have a plan in place in case of public relations crises. Negative messages can often spread faster than positive ones, so PR pros need to be prepared to act in a meaningful way at the drop of a hat. But how you respond is certainly important. Here are six Do’s and Don’ts for handling Crises on Social Media:

Do – Have a Plan in Place
An effective social media policy will help save a business’ reputation in a crisis situation. These policies are meant to outline rules and regulations of day-to-day social media use as well as in crisis situations. Remember to outline steps that the crisis team should take, as well as determine who is in charge of handling the crisis via social media. The smaller the team, the better because there will be less room for confusion and mixed messages. PR firms make for great social media managers! Check out Mashable’s tips to a good social media policy. You can also read an example of a social media policy by IBM.

Don’t – Respond in Anger
With a social media plan already in place, it should be easier to follow protocol when it comes to responding to a crisis. However, whoever is in charge of social media should take time to calm down and really think through a response before taking action. An angry response will only blow the problem out of proportion and cause more trouble. Similarly, deleting a comment made out of anger will also be more problematic than responding in a diplomatic way. One cringe-worthy example occurred in 2009 when Irish airline Ryanair responded to a blogger’s post about a booking fluke with insults. They even issued an official press release backing up their claims about the “idiot blogger.” Not a good idea.

Do – Stay on the Same Channel
Say an employee accidentally sends an inappropriate tweet out on the company’s account – you shouldn’t respond on your Facebook wall. It is vital to stick with a consistent social media channel during a crisis situation. If you’re addressing an issue that has nothing to do with social media, you can still respond via social media, but your message might be slightly different depending on which social media channel you’re working with. When Domino’s experienced a viral YouTube video crisis showing an employee serving food that had been shoved up someone’s nose (just one example), the company responded with an apology video also on YouTube. This is an example of a well thought-out, sincere and impactful response.

Don’t – Ignore the Problem
If one customer has a problem and vents about it on social media, it most likely will not turn into a crisis situation. However, as part of your social media policy, you must monitor social media channels for issues that are substantial enough to affect your brand in a negative way. If negative comments start going viral, or anti-your-company Facebook pages are formed, don’t ignore the problem and hope that it will go away. Nestlé experienced this problem when they saw comments from upset Greenpeace activists regarding key ingredients in KitKat bars on their Facebook fan page. At first, Nestlé ignored the problem and deleted the unwelcome comments. Things soon got out of hand when they openly posted that they were deleting comments. Nestlé’s official apology on the matter was widely thought to be too little too late.

Do – Respond Quickly
I used to work in a newsroom on the overnight shift where the motto is, “news never sleeps so neither do we.” Because of this 24/7 model of news, a quick response is needed to show that your company is listening and prepared. The problem needs to be addressed in a timely manner, and should consistently communicate the same message. Again, a small crisis communication team will ensure that everyone is communicating the same, clear message in a timely manner

Don’t – Dwell on the Negative
Once a crisis is resolved, it is important to use it as a learning experience and more forward. Don’t dwell on what could have happened; instead turn it into something positive for your company. For example, Frontier used a severe weather crisis as a way to show customer support on Twitter. When multiple flights were delayed in Denver, Frontier’s Senior Manager of Social Media decided to tweet relevant information and flight re-accommodations to quickly spread messages. Customers were pleasantly surprised with the speed and ease of re-booking flights. These PR pros managed to show how valuable quick responses are and generated positive feelings out of a crisis situation.

A good PR firm will be able to help their clients create a successful crisis communication strategy before any issues come up. This strategy needs to have a specific section to focus on social media issues, including action plans and preparedness in case of a crisis.

Public Relations: Where we’ve been and where we’re going

Most public relations pros are well aware of their industry’s rich history which dates back to the early 1900s with Ivy Lee and Edward Bernays. Although both figures are responsible for introducing some of the more controversial elements of PR, they’re also credited for being two of the first professionals who understood the need for two-way communication in which organizations deliver their messages while listening and responding to the people who are important to them. This concept still represents the core of what public relations is today.

Although there haven’t been any massive tectonic shifts to alter the  foundation of PR, the industry has  taken many evolutionary steps during the past several decades.

Here are a few of the most notable changes.

  • The New Definition of Public Relations: In 2011, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) led an international effort to modernize public relations and came up with the following definition: “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” This definition is pretty broad, but serves to describe the various roles today’s PR pro plays for his or her clients.
  • 24/7 News: We all know the Internet has long surpassed print news as the source of choice for people seeking national and international news. All major media sources now have online outlets that are constantly updated; the news literally never sleeps. What does this mean for PR pros? The job is now even more full time and those in the industry need to constantly be prepared to see how their clients may fit into the steady stream of daily news topics.
  • Social Media: Everyone knows the big hitters- Facebook and Twitter. But the list of social media outlets PR pros work with on a daily basis has expanded to include YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and more. Social media channels have become a great way to enhance traditional and online campaigns, save money and participate in two-way communication. Still, it’s important for PR pros to know how to use each outlet to best benefit the client.
  • The Press Release: Oh yes, this gem is still around, but even it has evolved. The Social Media Press Release (SMPR) was developed in 2006 and is much more interactive than the traditional release. Press releases are now full of links, RSS feeds, tags, videos, pictures and more. There are also new distribution channels for PR agencies to deliver messages to readers.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO is an internet marketing strategy that involves using key words and phrases to boost your visibility on search results pages. PR pros can use SEO to craft messages that reflect key search terms about brands and companies. If you write with SEO in mind, you will likely improve your ranking on search results pages, which can lead to increased website traffic.
  • Crisis Communication: With the rise of new media outlets, companies now have multiple ways to communicate to their publics during a time of crisis. For example, Dominos’ President issued an apology via a YouTube video. Companies can reach more followers and fans by tweeting a link to a press release or issuing a statement. Since word of crises spreads quickly through online media, PR specialists must respond even faster than in the past.

As you can see, the public relations field is continuously changing, becoming more innovative and adaptable to the current economic and cultural trends. But one thing has stayed the same- the PR industry is here. In my opinion, it always will be. Still, more changes are inevitable.

  • PR will always be about fostering good relationships, and even with the rise of social media, that won’t change. Personal relationships between PR pros and journalists will still exist. In fact, as this post from Mashable points out, relationship building has become even more important as traditional journalists have been joined by bloggers and other key media influencers.
  • According to a PRSA blog on future trends in public relations, the PR industry will see more integration with similar professions. Convergence will continue as PR pros work closely with marketing and advertising departments. We are already seeing a blurred line between these similar industries, with marketing professionals writing press releases and pitching and PR pros writing vital company copy for websites and marketing material.
  • According to PRSA’s 2012 Industry Report, U.S. spending on public relations will have an annual growth rate of 14 percent for the next three years. The Council of Public Relations Firms predicts 10 percent year-over-year industry growth. These statistics prove that the PR industry is growing and that more companies are seeing the value in PR. Certainly, that’s enough to make any PR pro smile!

 

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