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!

Dittoe Public Relations Aces Third BMW Championship

At Dittoe PR, we pride ourselves on truly becoming an extension of our clients’ marketing teams, and that’s why so many of our clients have partnered with us for numerous years.

 

The Western Golf Association (WGA) is one of our favorite examples. The organization conducts the BMW Championship, the penultimate event in the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup Playoffs, and oversees the sole beneficiary of the prestigious event—the Evans Scholars Foundation, which provides full college tuition and housing scholarships to students with financial need and strong caddie and academic records.

 

Every other year, the BMW Championship is played in the Chicago area. In off years, it rotates between a handful of different cities across the U.S, including Indianapolis. The WGA has always been strict about its policy to partner with a local PR agency in each market to promote the tournament.

 

Our team was fortunate to handle the public relations for the BMW Championship in 2012 and 2016—the only two times the tournament was played in Central Indiana (Carmel, to be exact). We were responsible for securing local media coverage, producing content to drive consumer interest, and planning and running Media Day as well as other promotional events leading up to the tournament. In addition, our team was on-site at the golf course at all times throughout tournament week.

 

In 2013 and 2014, the WGA also contracted Dittoe PR to handle media relations for the Hotel Fitness Championship, a Web.com Tour event in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

 

Our PR campaigns for the BMW Championship and Hotel Fitness Championship were such a success that the WGA selected Dittoe PR to lead its PR efforts for the 2017 BMW Championship in Lake Forest, Illinois. This marked the first time the organization selected a firm outside of the local market.

 

Of course, we were beyond thrilled and honored for the opportunity, but we also knew we had our work cut out for us to achieve the same results in Chicago that we did in Indiana. For one, Chicago is a much larger media market, ranking No. 3 on the Nielsen Designated Market Areas list compared to Indianapolis, which always hovers around No. 27. Chicago is also home to more professional sports teams and organizations than Indianapolis. And, the city’s North Shore hosts the BMW Championship every other year, while the tournament has only come to Central Indiana twice.

 

One of Dittoe PR’s primary objectives was to secure media coverage for the tournament several months leading up to the event, which can be especially difficult when you’re competing with the Chicago Blackhawks and Bulls during their playoff seasons, the kick-off of the Cubs season and constant Bears coverage.

 

One of our ‘secrets’ to our success in the Indy market are the strong relationships we have with local media members. At the very onset of our PR campaign for the 2017 BMW Championship, we decided to take our account team’s networking talents to the Windy City! We set up brief meetings with top producers and media personalities at the local TV and radio stations as well as reporters at the local print and digital publications. We introduced ourselves and learned how we could best accommodate their tournament coverage and help with any golf-related content throughout the spring and summer.

 

Our in-person meetings paid off. Throughout the spring and summer, we were able to consistently secure media coverage and new opportunities to promote the tournament. We used a number of story angles to get the word out. From highlighting local tournament volunteers in their community newspapers to touting a Father’s Day ticket package on morning radio talk shows to promoting a week-long interactive event at Riverside Plaza in downtown Chicago on local TV newscasts, our team worked tirelessly to keep the BMW Championship in the news throughout the six months leading up to the tournament.

 

In addition to media relations, we planned and executed the 2017 BMW Championship Media Day at Conway Farms in mid-August. We handled nearly every aspect of the event, including creating and sending invitations, drafting talking points for each speaker, producing a multimedia slideshow, coordinating a Skype interview with PGA TOUR player Paul Casey, facilitating on-site media interview requests, developing media kits, organizing gift bags, and working with the A/V company on all technical needs.

 

Months of planning resulted in a seamless Skype interview with Casey, well-prepped speakers, a flawless presentation, and ultimately, an incredibly successful event promoting the tournament’s return to Conway Farms.

 

In total, 78 members of the media attended Media Day and we secured 26 pieces of coverage within 24 hours.

 

From Media Day through tournament week (Sept. 12-17), our PR push never slowed down, and we were able to achieve the same results in Chicago in 2017 that we did in Indianapolis in 2012 and 2016.

 

From April to mid-September 2017, our team secured 249 local media stories, resulting in 176,936,443 media impressions and a publicity value of $2,659,466.

Page 1 of 712345...Last »