The 5 C’s of Communication Part 4: Crisis Communication

Welcome back everyone! This is part four in a five part blog series, this series has focused on the public relations communication process. During the last three posts I discussed the the best ways to connect with an audience, how to creatively engage an audience, and the different types of consumers to target. Those first three topics worked well together and can be implemented during the same campaign. However, today’s post is going to focus on things to remember when the communication process fails.

This post will focus on the do’s and don’t’s of how to handle a crisis. If you would like to know the steps on managing a crisis please check out my other blog post “Tackling Crisis Management as a PR Pro”.

One way to approach a crisis is to understand what the problem is and the first step needed to help solve it. So I’m going to start this post by determining what exactly is a crisis. Crisis Communication can be best defined by the Business Dictionary as “The effort taken by a company to communicate with the public and stockholders when an unexpected event occurs that could have a negative impact on the company’s reputation”. Basically this means when a negative situation arises, the company must work to solve the issue and try to keep company’ reputation intake.

A crisis can be different for every company and the best way to handle it depends on each situation. As always the best way to deal with a crisis is to make sure it doesn’t happen. Crisis prevention is the one way to help ensure the company’s reputation stays intact.

However, even with preparation problems can still occur. So here are some ways you can positively handle a crisis.

  1. Determine the Severity of the Crisis
    Is it a nationwide crisis or is it posted all over social media? Can it be handle within the company or do outside parties have to intervene? Determine the severity of the crisis before decieding on a courses of action. By understanding the problem, you can best start to handle it.
  2. Understand the Emotions Involved
    Depending on the situation the public could be angry or upset. Try to tune in and address their emotions. This lets the public know the company cares and what’s to rectify the situation.
  3. Be Honest
    Most lies will be discovered and that could cause another crisis to arise and that’s an even bigger mess to clean up! By telling the truth, even if it’s unpleasant, will eventually get better in time. Whereas a lie can continue to follow the company into the future.
  4. Take Responsibility
    Admit where the mistake was made. It’s best to acknowledge that mistakes and accidents happen, rather than trying to pass the blame onto another company, person, or inadequate reason.
  5. Have One Consistent Spokesperson
    Choose the best person to become the company spokesperson when addressing the public and media about the crisis. The reason for having only one spokesperson is to help provide consistency to the public; this provides them with a consistent familiar face.

Now that you know some positive ways to handle a crisis, here are some things you should avoid doing during the crisis.

  1. Taking Too Much Time to Respond to the Situation
    After a crisis occurs the PR team needs to quickly gather with the appropriate people and put together a plan. It’s important this happens as soon as possible. If it takes too long for the company to publicly address the situation, the more difficult it will be to handle the backlash.
  2. Don’t Respond with “No Comment”
    When those words are used, it gives the illusion the company is trying to hide information. By providing some, even small, information can show the public you are addressing the issue. The only time it’s acceptable to not provide information is when there is a legal reasoning. However, even in that case it’s still best to respond with “Legally, I am not able to provide that information” rather than saying “no comment”.
  3. Don’t Make Promises
    When you are addressing the public, be careful not to make promises that can’t be kept. Be honest if you don’t know when you will have more information. Because if you promise to provide something at a certain time and the promise isn’t kept, it will look unreliable and make it even more difficult to manage the crisis.

To sum up this post remember to review the crisis and determine its’ severity and be aware of how the crisis is affecting the public and everyone else involved. Then after a crisis management plan is created, choose the best spokesperson to handle all the communication to the public. Be sure to address the crisis as soon as possible, even if it’s just to let everyone know the problem is being addressed. Finally, be honest throughout the whole event of what is going on and take responsibility if it’s needed.

Overall, just be aware of your surroundings and try to understand the crisis as much as possible. Work together with the PR team, the  company’s president, and anyone else the crisis pertains to.

Be sure to check back to my next post for the final part of this blog series focusing on how our culture in society affects the communication process!

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Snapchat Advertising

Welcome back readers! If you celebrated Independence Day I hope you had an enjoyable holiday and if not I hope you had a great weekend! Yesterday, I read an article about the phone app, Snapchat, offering companies a way to advertise with them. In case you aren’t aware what Snapchat is, I’ll briefly explain it.

Snapchat is a free app you can download to your iphone or android; this app allows you to share pictures or videos with your friends. What makes this app unique is the person can only view the photo/video one time; then it disappears and cannot be viewed again. If you want to learn more in depth about some of Snapchat’s features check out this article!

When Snapchat first became available in 2011 it instantly became popular, especially with young adults between 13-24 years old. Eventually companies and advertisers saw this as their chance to reach a younger audience in a new way. Once Snapchat realized their chance to grow as a business, they created three advertising options for companies:

1. Live Feeds

10 second live videos to appear in the users’ new feed.
Example: Disney can show a 10 second movie trailer for a new movie being released that day.
2. Discover Network
Content produced by 11 different media outlets.
Example: An article written by a magazine can be published for the user to read at any time.
3. Geofilters
Stickers or icons that a person can add to their Snapchat photos/videos. Companies have the option to offer filters in specific locations.
Example: If you are inside a Starbucks coffee shop, you may have the option of using Starbucks stickers in your pictures/videos to send to friends.

Overall, I think Snapchat is providing companies with some good options for advertising; however I’m still skeptical if it will benefit the businesses. As a frequent Snapchat user, I barley watch the live videos and only occasional view the Discover channel. However, I do enjoy using the filters, but just because a friend sent me a photo with a McDonald’s icon doesn’t persuade me to go visit the restaurant.

Also, there is no statistical way to determine the success of Snapchat advertising. The only information a company will receive is how many views a photo/video earns. They do not learn how many people took action because of the content, unless the company researches it more on their side of the business (through surveys or questioners).
To read more in depth about Snapchat’s advertising and how the company’s CEO feels about this new change, check out this International Business Times article.

Overall, I am interested to see how successful and popular Snapchat’s advertising will be for their users and I will keep you updated on any news about this topic! How do you feel about viewing advertisements? Is their one option you enjoy or dislike more? Do you think it will be successful? Feel free to comment below!

Until next time have a great week!
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Social Media Marketing Plan Part 4: Measuring Success

Happy first week of summer! Today is the final part of my social media marketing (SMM) plan series! Today I will be discussing a few ways to measure the impact of your campaign. Over the last three posts, I discussed how to create and initiate a SMM campaign, some popular social media sites to utilize, and how to publish useful content. Now this final post will help to determine if all that work proved useful!

It’s important to measure the impact of your SMM plan; it will help you to learn how social media can impact the company and learn the best (and sometimes worst) ways to connect with the public. Measuring your SMM plan can help you to accurately determine if you reached your goals (that were outlined during step one of your SMM plan).

There are a few different ways to measure SMM success, depending on your goals. I will list a few different ways to measure the success or failure of your campaign.

1. Gaining and Maintaining Online Followers

This helps to determine whether the SMM plan helped to gain and maintain online followers. This shows how many people were impacted by the content. It can be measured through how many followers (tweets, connections, visitors, etc.) your site began and ended with.
For instance: At the start of the SMM plan your Facebook account had 200 followers and by the end of the campaign, it tripled to 600 followers.
Note: It’s important to compare these numbers to your SMM goals. Was the objective to double your impact or triple it? Determine how successful this was to your overall goals.

2. Social Engagement
This helps to determine how many people engaged with the content posted. You can measure your social engagement through: Facebook mentions, Twitter retweets, YouTube video comments, and Pinterest posts.
For instance: By measuring who is mentioning the company in online posts is important. Was it your targeted public or maybe an industry expert in the field of topic? This helps to learn if the targeted public was reached during the campaign.
Note: Use your SMM goals as a way to measure the success of social engagement. If the goal was to reach more women between the ages of 25-35 years old then look at who all engaged with the content to best determine if the goals were meet.

3. Call to Action
This determines how many people took action because of the content. It can be measured based on: increasing website visitors, increased online sales, or the amount of content downloads.
For instance: The majority of posts asked online users to check out the new company website. Then the website statistics showed increased visitors over the SMM plan period.
Note: Was your SMM goals to increase website visitors, increase sales, or both? Judging the amount of online visitors and overall sale numbers can help to determine if the published content was successful.

4. Compare with Competitors
It can be helpful to learn where the company stands next to the competition. You can measure the two through: online followers, company mentions, LinkedIn connections, and YouTube video views and comments.
For instance: During the primary SMM planning stage, researched showed a company competitor had over 800 Facebook likes, but little public engagement. At the end of the SMM plan, your company had more likes and increased involvement over the competitor.
Note: Although it can be useful to maintain awareness about the competition, don’t determine the SMM success solely on beating out a competitor. That’s why it’s important to clearly set company goals to best determine the SMM plan’s success.

5. Evaluate the Content
Determine which online posts received the most visitors, comments, and retweets. Then research to find out if the popular content contained a specific subject or was published on a specific day or time? By determining what received the most popularity can help determine future content.
For instance: Content that was posted on Friday afternoons between 1:00 p.m.-4:00p.m. received the most engagement. This could show that the public is most active during that day of the week.
Note: By learning the most popular times or subjects that best reaches the public can help to keep them better informed and engaged on the social media platforms.

6. Return on Investment (ROI)
This lets you determine the amount of time spent on the SMM plan compared to the success of the company goals. It’s important to use social media in a successful way to achieve your goals.
For instance: A 3 month SMM plan only achieved two out of six goals, determine if the SMM plan needed to be implemented longer or the campaign didn’t generate the expected responses (if so find out why).
Note: Wasted time is also wasted money, so quickly determine the flaws within the SMM plan to best determine future PR campaigns.

7. Online Measuring Metrics
There are many different programs (free and paid) available to measure social media success. Here are two systems that could be useful during the SMM plan.
Facebook Metrics: Allows you to learn views per post, follower engagement, and page statistics.
Twitter Analytics: Learn when your posts are retweeted, measure any Twitter posts that relates to the company, and learn how to post content to reach your targeted public.
For instance: Using Facebook metrics is a simple way to understanding how well the company page is doing online and what can be done to improve the page.
Note: There are many measuring systems out there, be sure to do the research to determine which systems can best benefit the company.

To easily sum up this four part blog series it’s important to clearly understand the reasoning and purpose behind creating a SMM plan. Always remember to follow steps one, two, and three and all the future steps will fall into place. Remember quality over quantity; it may seem important to have five social media sites, but if they aren’t being properly maintained it can cause more harm than good. When posting social media content keep the public in mind and who the SMM plan is targeting. Post topics pertaining to your targeted public and always remember the basics of spelling and grammar (it does matter). Finally, measure the SMM plan success with the goals, from step one. If the SMM campaign exceeded the goals than it was a success, but if not determine the problems and the best ways to move forward.

Well thanks for reading this series! I hope you learned a lot and you’re ready to tackle social media in the PR field! Please comment your opinions below!
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Social Media Marketing Plan Part 3: Maintaining Social Media Sites

Happy Wednesday my readers! Today’s topic is going to focus on the importance of maintaining social media sites during your social media marketing (SMM) plan, along with some helpful tips. Last post, I discussed three popular social media sites (LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram) and the importance of choosing the right sites to use during your SMM plan. Today’s helpful tips will focus on all social media sites.

To get started, I’m going to create five categories of tips. This will help you to better understand where to apply these tips. The five categories will be: useful information for overall social media use, targeting the public, pitching to the media, learning about competitors, and company employees.

1. General Tips in Maintaining Social Media Sites

• Valued Content
Your content should always add some value to the reader. How does it pertain to them? How useful is the information? The more valuable your content, the higher importance the public will place on it and the faster your post can spread online.
• Simplicity is Key
Try not to overwhelm the public with too much information at once. Each post should focus on one thought. If you want to share multiple topics, create multiple posts. If a post appears too “wordy” or has too much information, readers will continue to scroll past. Remember many people use social made as a way to relax and unwind from work.
• Do Not Spam
Don’t post repetitive content over and over again on your sites. This can scare away current and potential followers online. No one wants to feel harassed when they go online to check out their social media newsfeed.
• Accuracy
Just like in high school English class, spelling and grammar does matter. Don’t get lazy and forget to proofread every post before it’s published. You don’t want your company to be remembered for spelling “pubic relations” instead of “public relations”.

2. Tips for Targeting the Public

• Creativity and Engagement
Creatively appeal to your public through a variety of ways. You can appeal to your audience through humor with a funny picture or video. Be compelling; provide posts that focus in on a current popular trend. Anything that can grab your audience’s attention.
• Be Personal
Let the public get to know the company in a more personal way through company events, employees, and holidays. This will let your followers feel more involved and provide them with a face for the company. For instance, posting fun facts about employees once a week is a great way for your followers to get to know everyone involved in the business.
• Company Social Media Mentions
It’s important to monitor what is being said about the company. By keeping up to date when a company hashtag or username is mentioned can help to monitor public reactions. That way if a situation needs addressed it will be caught early. Also, if your company is being praised for great work it’ll be a positive reaffirmation for doing a good job!
• Real Time
Post content that is up to date and current, not something that happened two weeks ago. For instance, when the blue/black or white/gold dress photo was taking over social media that was a good time to get involved in a trend. However, waiting until its two weeks out of the news, isn’t. By then the hype is over and no one is interested with the multi colored dress.

3. Targeting Media Personal

• Forming a Connection
There are many journalists, bloggers, industry influencers who utilize social media and your site can be a great way to form connections. By reaching out and connecting online with some of these professionals can help your company grow. For instance, by following journalist’s accounts, you can learn more about stories they are interested in writing. Then you can effectively pitch your news story to them.
• No Information Overload
Don’t try to list every bit of information you can in a pitch. Instead give journalists the facts and go straight to the point. Journalists are very busy and don’t have time to read multiple paragraphs for a story pitch.

4. Learning to Beat the Competition
• Industry Competitors
Do your research and see what similar companies are posting online and how they are interacting with the public. This will be a great way to gain insight to earning followers. For instance, Lowes wants to improve their Pinterest page, so they review some fellow competitors (Home Depot, Ace Hardware, etc.). Lowes learns that the competition have a very active board for home improvements, but lack outdoor settings. This could be a great Pinterest board to add to the Lowes account and try to gain the followers the other two companies’ lack.
• Trending and News Alerts
Stay updated on the most recent news and trends. This will help you to keep the public informed and show your company can provide quick appropriate responses to current information. Google Alerts is one website you can subscribe to that will provide you with updated information.

5. Social Media and Company Employees

• Happy Employees Equals Positive PR
Employees are the face for the company. How they choose to act online through social media when work ends, you can’t control. Try maintaining employee happiness and help the company to treat them well. Then employees will send off positive energy about your company rather than negativity.

I know this post was longer than usual so I will quickly sum everything up. While maintaining social media sites it’s important to remember who you are targeting and to treat them well. They choose to follow your company in their free time. Use social media as a way to reach out to media personal. Lastly, remember competitors and employees have a big impact online, so always do your research and remember to treat everyone fairly.

I hope everyone enjoyed today’s post and provided you some helpful insight! Come back next week for the final blog in the SMM series that will focus on measuring your SMM impact! Until then have a great week!
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Social Media Day 2014

Happy Social Media Day everyone! So what exactly is World Social Media Day? Well it started on June 30, 2010 and it’s a way to celebrate how the digital world is forever changing our lives. Since the major popularity of Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, and more the way we are living our lives is focused around social media! In my opinion it’s one of the major ways we communicate with our friends and family (especially the ones we can’t see every day). And within the last few years, businesses have taken this opportunity to reach us through our favorite sites. For instance, I’ve learned more about American Eagle sales, Starbucks drinks, and my favorite PR agencies through Facebook than with advertisements on TV or in the mail. So it makes sense there would be a day dedicated to such a large part of our lives. And although I am worried about the negative effects of social media, I prefer to use this blog post to focus on the positives it has offered us over the years. So in order to properly celebrate this day, I want to talk about some of the major social media sites and how much of an impact it has on our lives!
1. Facebook
Next to MySpace, this was the first major social media site I joined. After I finalized my profile, I started checking this site every day. It was crazy how much more advanced it was compared to MySpace and all the perks it had, including games! But I bet there are some things you don’t know about Facebook. For instance, if you type facebook.com/4 into the URL it takes you directly to Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page! Also in 2011 a third of all divorces claimed Facebook was the reason for their failed marriages! The study found that Facebook was the reason for inappropriate messages to members of the opposite sex, posting nasty comments, and Facebook friends reporting about a spouse’s behavior.
2. SnapChat
This is a phone app that allows users to send photos or videos with small captions to a friend for only a few seconds before it disappears completely. So how did anyone even come up with this crazy idea? Well two students from Stanford University developed the idea of SnapChat in 2011 when one of their friends regretted sending a photo to someone. Within three years after its launched, SnapChat now has over 100 million users and roughly 400 million snaps are sent a day throughout the world! Now that’s a crazy number for such a simple app! But as an active user of it, I love having the ability to send my friends goofy pictures of me or my pets. These are photos I may not have sent through as a picture message. But young adults aren’t the only ones spending large amounts of time “snapping”, but businesses are trying to use this app too! Taco Bell, television shows, and other brands are using this popular app to communicate with their audience and offer exclusive offers! To learn more about SnapChat you can check out this article!
3. Twitter
This popular site allows users to post their opinions about things with 140 characters. Since their launch in 2006, their users now post over 1 billion tweets a week! That’s insane! And the most popular retweet of all time was Ellen Degeneres’s Oscar selfie (it had over 1 million retweets). But taking the number two spot was President Obama’s retweet when he won his reelection in 2012 (it had over 800,000 retweets). The most popular Twitter user, Katy Perry, has over 50 million followers! But celebrities aren’t the only ones becoming active; businesses are taking advantage of this popular site. They are using this site to have customers express their love for their brand, offer contests, and generate more popularity around the world.

Finally, my favorite thing about social media sites is it allows everyone to connect to people and companies in a whole new way. No longer do you only talk to distant family members around the holidays or special occasions, but you can see how they are doing every day and maybe even develop a better relationship with them. Or if you have a product or favorite food dish you can now express your love for the brands you enjoy most in a great way!
Well I wish you all a Happy Social Media Day and I would love to hear your favorite things about social media and how it has positively impacted your life. So comment below and until next time have a great day!
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