Top PR Trends for 2018: Part 2

If you’re like most busy marketers or entrepreneurs, you barely have time to get through your own to-do list, let alone research and stay on top of the latest PR trends that can help your brand increase its visibility and attract more customers.

We’re here to help.

Today, we’re continuing our two-part series on the top PR trends for 2018. My colleague Megan Custodio shared some incredibly valuable insight on the continued rise of influencer marketing and the evolution of the press release in her blog post last week. This week, we’re diving into two other big PR trends shaping the industry this year: the role of media coverage in social media and the rise of thought leadership.

 

The role of media coverage in social media

Social media has not only changed the way we interact with our favorite brands, friends, family and celebrities. It’s also drastically changing the way we get our news.

 

More Americans than ever are getting their news from social media. According to a Pew Research Center study, two-thirds of Americans get their news on social media.

 

We are already primed to consume our news and stay informed through stories our friends share on Facebook. If you aren’t constantly sharing your media coverage on social media – and positioning it in a way that provides tremendous value to your audience – you’re missing out on a big opportunity.

 

You can no longer simply post your media coverage on the news section of your website and hope a potential customer reads it. You must take your media coverage where your audience is – social media.

 

One important fact to remember about social media is this: people don’t spend time on social media to be “sold to.” They want to be entertained, connect with others, as well as find and share interesting news, blog posts, videos and pictures. Sharing your media coverage on your social media platforms provides you with a perfect opportunity to provide interesting, valuable news with your audience.

 

However, you must position your media coverage in a specific way to get the right type of engagement from your audience. This is where many brands miss the mark.

 

As the old adage goes, everyone’s favorite radio station is WIIFM (What’s In It For Me). You must apply the WIIFM principle to everything you create for your audience, and a social media post sharing one of your pieces of media coverage is no exception.

 

Instead of publishing a Facebook post that simply says, “We are in The Wall Street Journal! Click the link to read the story,” analyze this piece of media coverage from the WIIFM standpoint of the customer. Ask yourself what interesting ideas or knowledge your customers can gain from this story that will make their lives and/or business better.

 

Then, find a way to pique the interest of your audience with attention-grabbing copy that tells them exactly what they’ll learn and how it will help them if they read this story. For example, “Struggling to reach enough talented people to hire and grow your business? Learn why text interviews can help you screen more job candidates in a shorter amount of time than traditional phone screening interviews. Discover what our CEO Aman Brar has to say about this topic in The Wall Street Journal and learn how Canvas is helping employers improve their interview process with the first enterprise-grade text-based interviewing platform.”

 

The rise of thought leadership

With smaller staff sizes struggling to produce enough content to satisfy the needs of their readers, media outlets are more open than ever to receiving contributed articles by outside subject matter experts.

 

And who are those outside subject matter experts, you ask? They are our clients – and experts like you.

 

Right now, there is an unprecedented opportunity for brands to position their team members as trusted thought leaders in their field through contributed byline articles that demonstrate their expertise. While it may sound counterintuitive, one of the best ways to attract new business is to stop talking about your business.

 

Instead, find ways to share your experience and knowledge of the industry through contributed byline articles. Whether it’s sharing best practices, trends, or other educational topics that provide value to a media outlet’s readers, you can establish yourself as a trusted, knowledgeable expert within the field. Becoming a published author in a media outlet your ideal customers read gives you instant visibility and credibility.

 

There’s a fine art to pitching and securing this type of thought leadership media coverage, and at Dittoe PR, we help our clients share their expertise, get in front of their ideal customers and establish themselves as valued thought leaders within their industries.

 

Are you ready to take your company’s media coverage and social media to the next level in 2018? If so, let’s discuss how we can be of service to you. Click here to schedule a call or meeting with us today.

Top PR Trends for 2018: Part 1

When I first joined the Dittoe Public Relations team in 2006, one of our go-to research methods was thumbing through the paper-thin pages of the 10-lb printed Bacon’s Media Directory (maybe a slight exaggeration, but that thing was heavy). It took way too much time flipping through its thousands of pages just to find one good contact.

I can confidently say I don’t miss those days. I’m so thankful for the evolution of public relations over the past 12 years and the tools and tactics that make the lives of PR professionals easier, so we can produce amazing results for our clients.

Today’s blog post is part one of a two-part series that will look at four trends shaping PR in 2018. Part two will be posted by Dittoe PR VP and Partner (and PR phenom) Lauren Sanders.

 

Continued rise of influencer marketing

Influencer marketing has grown significantly over the past few years. It’s no longer a nice-to-have for PR pros and the businesses they represent, but a must-have. It should come as no surprise considering that 88 percent of people trust online recommendations as much as they do endorsements from family and friends, according to data compiled by NoGre.

 

Social influencers are now just as important to consider in your PR strategy as coverage in traditional media outlets. Stories on Instagram, Snaps on Snapchat, a post on a blog or a video review on YouTube all have the ability to change the way people feel about a brand and influence purchasing decisions.

 

On a personal note, the LIKEtoKNOW.it shopping app has changed the way I buy clothes. Instead of trying to decide what I think is cool to wear, I now rely on the best-dressed social influencers to tell me—and purchase what they recommend. I’d venture to say that three-quarters of the clothes I bought last year were because someone on social media told me to (sad, but true).

 

In 2017, Social Media Today reported that the average person spends nearly two hours on social media every day—that’s a total of 5 years and 4 months over a lifetime. In 2018, these numbers will only increase, and influencer marketing will be more important than ever.

 

Often, businesses aren’t strategic in their decisions about the influencers to partner with and end up wasting time, money and resources. There are several key considerations to evaluate before relying on influencers to drive meaningful business results, including:

 

  • Think quality over quantity. Just because an influencer has 1 million followers, doesn’t make them the best fit for your brand.
  • For sponsored Instagram posts, consider micro-influencers, or those with followers in the 10,000-100,000 range, as they often have a more highly engaged following that is more inclined to purchase your brand’s products or services.
  • What is your brand image and how does that align with the influencer’s?
  • Who is the influencer’s audience and are they relevant to your own?
  • Does the geographic location of the influencer and his/her followers matter to your business?
  • What are the terms of the agreement? Many influencers charge a fee for a meaningful partnership. Be clear about your expectation for frequency of posts and engagement.
  • How can you track the impact of the partnership? Customized promo codes are one idea to measure the results.

 

Evolution of the press release

For years, many PR professionals have said that the press release is dead, or less dramatically, on its way out. While I think there’s still a lot of life left in the press release, I do agree that it has gone from always-necessary to a good supplement for a great media pitch.

At Dittoe PR, we stopped encouraging our clients to distribute their press releases via wire services several years ago for a few reasons. The links aren’t permanent, unlike earned media stories that we pitch and obtain for our clients, which stay online indefinitely. Also, press releases distributed on wire services aren’t usually picked up on quality news sites. Quite frankly, it’s also quite expensive to use a wire service. In short, wire services rarely guarantee lasting, meaningful, organic media coverage.

Personalized outreach to the media is the way to go to get the best earned media coverage, and it’s what we do best.

In 2018, the press release will evolve beyond text-heavy Word docs with lengthy paragraphs that no one reads entirely. Instead, PR professionals will think digitally and start embedding more videos, images and graphics to bring their client’s news to life. Copy will be minimal and only include the most pertinent details of the announcement.

Press releases do still matter, but in 2018, we need to give them a much-needed makeover.

 

Come back to our blog next week for part two of this series on the latest trends shaping PR in 2018. In the meantime, if your brand could benefit from working with social influencers and generating meaningful media coverage, we’d love to talk with you!

Five Lessons From 2017’s Biggest PR Fails

2017 debunked the myth “all press is good press” as we experienced some of the most gut-wrenching PR disasters that created major setbacks for a handful global corporations. While these major mishaps were difficult to watch, each crisis provided amazing real-life teaching moments for public relations professionals everywhere. As we celebrate the New Year, let’s take a look at some of the companies that are still recuperating from their self-inflicted PR mistakes.

 

UNITED AIRLINES

The Crisis: 2017 unleashed a never-ending cycle of PR disasters for United Airlines. Most notably, the airline took the worst hit in the company’s 90-year history when a passenger was dragged off an overbooked plane, breaking his nose and knocking out teeth in the process. The incident was recorded by onlookers’ camera phones and immediately circulated on social media.

Once notified of the situation, United CEO Oscar Munoz made it even worse by apologizing for “having to re-accommodate these customers” and then later said in a leaked employee email about the incident that “employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this.” This came just one month after he was named 2017 U.S. Communicator of the Year by PR Week.

The company’s poor response to a customer incident caused its stock to drop $1 billion in value and has placed the entire airline industry under the microscope.

The Lesson: If you’d be ashamed for millions of people to see something your company does, don’t do it. Instead, if you need to inconvenience a customer, be willing to negotiate with them and never force it. Furthermore, if a problem does arise, remember that “the customer is always right.” This customer-centric mindset also needs to be evident in your crisis communications plan both internally and externally. In statements, never blame the victim but acknowledge the mistake and offer a heartfelt apology.

 

PAPA JOHN’S PIZZA

The Crisis: As one of the biggest sponsors of the National Football League (NFL), Papa John’s came under fire as CEO John Schnatter attempted to link its declining pizza sales to NFL players’ national anthem protests and that it might cease its sponsorship if the protests continued. Schnatter’s stance earned the support from The Daily Storm, a neo-Nazi newspaper, who even adopted the company as the “official pizza chain for the alt-right.” Schnatter was forced to issue a statement asking the group to stop eating his pizza, hoping to halt the PR disaster, and resigned as CEO.

The Lesson: Any business issues being addressed in a public-facing statement, such as social media, need to be approved by the chain of command listed in a communications plan. Even with the relaxed demeanor of social media channels like Facebook or Twitter, these posts need to be vetted out to determine any repercussions that may arise.

 

EQUIFAX

The Crisis: Equifax experienced one of the largest data breaches ever that affected more than 143 million customers. Not only was it being investigated by the SEC and multiple states along with hundreds of lawsuits, but Equifax also sat on the news for six weeks. To make matters worse, four well-informed company executives sold $1.8 million in stock well before the news became public.

Once the breach was disclosed, Equifax tried to charge comprised customers a fee for the privilege of protecting themselves and freezing their credit. Although it later waived the fee after public outrage, the damage was done. To this day, Equifax has still yet to tell anyone how hackers infiltrated the system or how the company is preventing it from happening again.

The Lesson: Transparency is key. When a problem arises, it needs to be disclosed sooner rather than later or else the perception will be deceiving rather than proactive. A company also needs to focus on promising corrective action and then effectively following through.

 

DOVE SOAP FACEBOOK POST

The Crisis: Dove has always been a huge advocate for inclusivity and diversity. For instance, it’s long-running “Real Beauty” campaign has celebrated the natural physical variation of women and invoked a new level of self-confidence in females of all ages worldwide. However, the brand experienced major backlash when the company produced a Facebook GIF showing an African American woman taking off her shirt to reveal a Caucasian woman. Social media users called it “racist” and “insensitive,” interpreting it as a message implying the dark skin was dirty and would be cleaned after using Dove soap. Realizing the error, Dove removed the post and issued an apology.

The Lesson: Given how many brands fumble in getting respectful messaging across about race and diversity, it’s vital for all communicators to ensure their brands have an internal review process for all creative content. This helps companies nix off-mark messaging long before it reaches the public. Although it may delay creative processes, gathering multiple viewpoints through audits of inclusion and diversity practices will help brands from “missing the mark” in the future.

 

CHEERIOS

The Crisis: It’s no secret that there is an issue with the world’s declining bee population. Naturally, Cheerios seem like the perfect brand to raise awareness of the honeybee’s critical role as a pollinator of many of the world’s most important crops. So, Cheerios’ parent company General Mills partnered with Canadian company Vesays Seeds Ltd. and distributed 1.5 billion wildflower seeds to customers to help with bee habitat restoration.

However, the promotion turned controversial when it was discovered that the packets sent out included seeds for plants that were invasive in some states and banned in others. In addition, ecologists revealed some of the seeds could pose a significant threat if introduced outside their native range. Cheerios pushed back on the accusations by sharing reactionary statements via social media, but the damage was done.

The Lesson: The public back-and-forth between experts and General Mills caused major confusion among consumers on the authenticity of the campaign. Even if the seeds may not have been invasive, the lack of consumer awareness and education on the ecology industry larger construed whether the campaign was truly good-hearted or just a PR ploy. Instead of shipping a basic mix of seeds that included some that were not native to America, General Mills should have used native flower specific to specific locations and made that evident in campaign content. It may have been more expensive and time-consuming, but the overall message would have been better accepted.

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