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!

Don’t Panic! Here Are The Top Crisis Communications Strategies

From large corporations to schools, government entities and even your friendly, neighborhood ice cream shop, every organization – large and small – will undoubtedly experience a crisis at one time or another.

 

And while every situation is different, one thing remains the same – the decisions you make regarding crisis communications will either help your company ride out the chaotic roller coaster or, if you’re not careful, cause lasting damage to your brand.

 

Following the crisis communications strategies listed below could help you protect your organization during a difficult time.

 

Preparation is Key

While it’s impossible to know exactly when a crisis will strike, it’s important to anticipate and plan for potential crises.

 

The best way to prepare is to create a detailed plan outlining every possible crisis – everything from running out of ice cream on a hot, summer day to the building burning down – and the best possible response for each situation.

 

One of the biggest challenges companies face during a crisis is having too many cooks in the kitchen. The crisis communications plan should specify who will make final decisions on messaging, who will be the media spokesperson and who needs to be looped into all crisis communications discussions.

 

Accuracy and Speed

At Dittoe PR, we consider accuracy and speed to be two of the main ingredients in crisis preparedness – and while both are important, the two can sometimes create a confusing balancing act.

 

In the case of a major crisis, it is incredibly important to act quickly to stay ahead of the media and response from target audiences. However, that does not mean you should hastily share information or whip up a media statement too quickly.

 

Our recommendation? Face the crisis head on, only sharing accurate and factual information. If you are unsure of how the fire started, avoid speculation at all costs. Instead, share what you DO know. Avoiding the media during a crisis is often the biggest mistake a company can make, as it creates unnecessary rumors and spreads confusing messages.

 

Company transparency

During a crisis, it’s sometimes easy to forget about your employees while trying to communicate with the media, law enforcement, investors and everyone else on your list. However, neglecting employees could be harmful to your company’s internal well-being.

 

Oftentimes, employees catch on to crisis situations even if the company has not shared information and updates. Company morale can quickly diminish if employees think something is wrong, but are not receiving informational updates. Instead, the organization should always make sure to share the most up-to-date information with all employees to keep everyone in the know.

 

In the event of a crisis, the CEO and the executive team must consider the company’s employees as another constituency to respect and inform. This is particularly helpful should an employee want to discuss the company’s situation with others, on social media or even with the media. You should prep employees on what’s appropriate to share with their own networks (and also what’s not).

 

In short, managing crisis communications is no easy task. However, it doesn’t have to be detrimental to your brand if you prepare, act quickly, share accurate information with the media and your employees, and most importantly, avoid panic!

 

Additionally, working with an experienced PR firm can ensure success before, during, and after a crisis occurs, as well as strongly increase the chances of making it through unscathed.

 

Think your company or brand could benefit from expert crisis communications? We’re happy to help!

Now Hiring: Talented Account Coordinator or Executive Needed

Calling all PR pros! We have an immediate opening for an Account Coordinator or Account Executive position.

 

Account Coordinators are responsible for assisting in the execution of strategic public relations initiatives on behalf of the firm’s clients. This entry-level position is an opportunity for a smart, self-starting, detail-oriented individuals to develop a well-rounded roster of public relations skills and contribute to a variety of Dittoe Public Relations’ clients. The ideal candidate will have strong communication skills (both verbal and written), creativity, high energy and an outgoing personality. A strong emphasis is placed on media relations, research and analysis, reporting and client communication.

 

Account Executives are responsible for developing and executing strategic public relations initiatives on behalf of the firm’s clients. The ideal candidate will have excellent communication skills (both verbal and written), strong creativity, high energy and an outgoing personality. A strong emphasis is placed on media relations, strategic account management and client communication. We need self-starters and team players who enjoy spreading the word for the firm’s clients.

 

Limited travel may be required for press tours, trade shows and client meetings. Preference will go toward those with relevant professional work or internship experience in public relations or a related field (agency experience is a plus). Salary will reflect level of experience and includes a great benefits package. Other perks include a gym membership, breakfast on Fridays, a weekly half-day work from home policy, summer flex hours, Wine Wednesdays, the “Wheel of Celebration” to celebrate birthdays and work anniversaries, breakfast/lunch & learns, unlimited vacation time and paid maternity/paternity leave.

 

Account Coordinator Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in public relations, journalism, marketing, English or a related field
  • Internships or 1-2 years of relevant professional work experience in public relations or a related field (agency experience is a plus)
  • Smart, creative, assertive and innovative individual who thrives in an extremely fast-paced environment
  • Flexibility and willingness to collaborate with teams
  • Must be a versatile writer with both creative and technical writing experience
  • Must demonstrate an understanding of media relations (direct experience is a plus)
  • Proven ability to effectively prioritize and manage multiple tasks and competing deadlines
  • Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written
  • Knowledge in social media, design, photography/videography are a plus

 

Account Executive Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in public relations, journalism, marketing, English or a related field
  • At least two years of full-time, relevant experience in public relations or a related field (agency experience is a plus)
  • Smart, creative, assertive and innovative individual who thrives in an extremely fast-paced environment
  • Flexibility and willingness to collaborate with teams
  • Must be a talented and versatile writer with both creative and technical writing experience
  • Media relations experience with a successful track record of pitching and securing opportunities
  • Successful track record of developing strategic public relations and social media campaigns
  • Proven ability to manage multiple client accounts in a variety of industries
  • Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written
  • Knowledge in social media, design, photography/videography are a plus

 

For more information about these and other positions, visit our Careers page. To apply, send your cover letter, resume with references, and writing samples to Greta Snell at greta@dittoepr.com.

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