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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2016 Habits for Life and Public Relations

Happy 2016 PR Coordinators! It’s hard to believe 365 days went by so quickly and now we have a brand new 366 days to make our mark on the world (yay for February 29th, giving us an extra day to accomplish things).

For this post I’m going to talk about what you can do to refocus your mind and habits for 2016 that will help you in PR and life. Then next week I will finish my blog series on parts 4 and 5 focusing on crisis communication and culture.

This year focus on what you want to accomplish in your career and your life by writing out tasks that will lead towards your goals. That way you can make sure by the time 2017 arrives you are ready for a new set of challenges!

As PR pros we have to have quick thinking, constantly be learning, have excellent people and communication skills, and be creative. Maybe those four traits are what appealed you to the PR field (for me it did), but they are also positive traits to have in your everyday life too. They help you grow as a person and be ready for new challenges. So here are some tips to keep your mind focused this year on your life and career.

  1. Quick Thinking
    Crises and unexpected situations can be a constant struggle in life, something falls through at work or your car breaks down, so you need to be ready to think on your feet to quickly solve the problem the best way possible. You do not want to waste half a day trying to find a five minute solution. So when you have some free time during your day (maybe when you’re at lunch) write down some common scenarios that could arise in your life/work. Then jot down some solutions you could have to help solve the issue.
    Life Example: Your car starts making some weird noises and you know it needs to be looked at quickly. Have a list of numbers of family or friends who could help you or have a few local auto shops you could call and have your car inspected.
    PR Example: Your job requires you to plan multiple events throughout the year and sometimes option one isn’t available. So have a list of multiple caters, venues, and florists available in a handy location.
  2. Constantly be Learning
    Nothing in life ever stays the same, so just because you’re out of school that shouldn’t stop you from teaching yourself new things. With technology constantly changing we are forced to keep learning or fall behind, but this shouldn’t restrict you from only learning about the newest technology. Teach yourself that language you always liked, learn to cook some new meals, or study up on some topics of interest. Public relations is a growing and ever changing field, because our focus is on the public and social media we have to always be ready to change to continue growing in our field.
    Life example: Take one hour every week to spend it teaching yourself something new.
    PR Example: Always be ready to learn about constant social media trends and issues by reading up to date articles and trending news. As you learn about the next trend, you’ll become a bigger asset at work. Try getting in the habit of reading one or two articles every morning or evening to always be aware of industry changes.
  3. People Skills and Communication
    Unless you never leave your home dealing with family, friends, and the public is a daily activity for most people. Developing relationships and communicating with people helps you to grow as a person. Both of those skill sets are vital in the PR world because we are communicators. Whether we are communicating to the public on something new or helping to inform on an issue, if communication isn’t done right we have to fix miscommunication with crisis communication. This relates to our everyday life because if we are trying to work out a dispute with a loved one we need to be able to effectively communicate our point of view while still being able to hear and understand their view.
    Life Example: You and your roommate thought there was an agreement made on informing each other when there would be visitors, but communication was lost and now you both are upset. Learning to effectively communicate with each other can help solve the problem and clear things up for in the future.
    PR Example: Your new project at work requires you and three other coworkers to create a new advertising jingle by the end of the day. This task screams people skills and communication! A good way to be prepared for this task is to brainstorm ideas with the group and discuss the best option and more forward together.
  4. Creativity
    Your creativity helps your imagination to grow and can be one of your greatest assets. This allows you to help give creative gifts to family and friends, decorate your home, put together a great wardrobe, and more. Creativity can be a huge asset at work because if you can create new things before the competition, you can become more valuable. There are many different forms you can use to be creative including: words, art, decorating, gift giving, sewing, etc.
    Life Example: Try to stay creative throughout the year by working on small projects. Maybe paint that old bookcase, sew yourself a new blanket, or learn to sketch. This will help your mind to grow and give you a nice break from life’s stress.
    PR Example: Look at new and past advertising campaigns and imagine how you would change them for the better. This will help to keep your mind sharp and constantly be ready any upcoming projects.
    ***To make it more advance, give yourself a time limit***

Let 2016 be the year that you grow even more as a person and PR professional. Don’t let bad habits overtake your life, but instead focus on your goals and dive into the year with success all throughout your life!
Until next time stay warm!

The 5 C’s of Communication Part 3: Consumer

This is part three in a five part blog series that is meant to help you better understand the communication process for marketing and public relations campaigns.

This week I’m going to focus on helping to determine which audience to target, how to best understand your audience and different tactics to create during the campaign.

Dictionary.com defines a consumer by explaining it’s “a person or organization that uses a commodity or service”. This relates to the communication process because the consumer is the main focus of the campaign. So to have a successful campaign you, the PR Coordinator, must clearly understand the type of consumer that needs to be reached and the different forms of communication that can be used.

Here are five key thoughts to keep in mind when focusing on your target audience.

  1. Determining your Audience 

    What are the campaign goals and objectives? Is the method of communication most important or can it be changed? Can you clearly explain who would want to participate in the campaign? By answering some of those questions can help you to determine your target audience. For instance, a campaign’s objective could be to increase online sales through Google ads. Therefore, you want your target audience to be active online participants.

  2. Audience Profile 

    Start by determining the audience you would like to target for your campaign. Then conduct some primary research and  secondary research, if needed. By better understanding your audience, you will be able to get create tactics that will successfully spread the campaign’s’ message. 

  3. Providing for your Audience 

    How will this campaign help your audience? Will it solve a problem or make things easier? Once you are aware of how you can help your audience, be sure to identify that issue during the campaign. For instance, if your campaign will solve a problem identify the problem and how you provide the solution.

  4. Building Trust with your Audience  

    It’s common knowledge that people are more interested in purchasing things from people they trust rather than focus solely on advertisements. So encourage your current consumers to promote your brand. This will help to grow your audience and the company’s brand through positive encouragement. Depending on your campaign’s purpose, you may want to have video or written testimonials, social media posts, or simply word of mouth.

  5. Choosing the right Communication Tactics

    Your target audience will help to determine which tactics will be helpful and which will be less successful. During this process refer to the target audience research; this will help to determine the best tactics to use during your campaign. Here is a list of possible tactics that can be utilized: social media, videos, blog posts, television and radio ads, online banners, Google ads, promotional souvenirs (t-shirts, pens, notebooks, etc.), and more. Try brainstorming with some co-workers to come up with creative and catchy ideas!

Remember that the consumer is an important asset in the company since consumers help to drive the business. Conduct research as necessary and be sure to learn from the results. The better you understand your audience, the better results the campaign will achieve.
Be sure to check out part four of my blog post focusing on crisis communications. Until the next post, have a fantastic weekend!

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The 5 C’s of Communication Part 2: Creativity

Welcome to a new week, so let’s kick off another slow Monday with some creativity. Last post I talked about the importance of connecting with your audience during a PR campaign. Now I’m going to discuss some ways to use creativity to help your campaign succeed. Creativity can be a great asset during your campaign, but it’s important to have structure behind your free flowing creative ideas. So I created a list of five key thoughts to keep in mind when using creativity during your next campaign.

1. Engage your Audience
Try to create a campaign that will engage your key audience. Engagement helps you to form a connection between the campaign and the audience. There are four different ways to engage your audience. You can engage the public through actions (activity participating), emotional connections (connecting on a personal level), rational thoughts (provide details and value of the campaign), or ethical ideas (focusing on values or principals). Depending on the campaigns objectives, you can choose one or more of those forms to reach the target audience.

2. Set Specific Goals
Coming up with creative ideas can be fun and overwhelming. Try to remember the purpose of the creativity by setting measurable goals. Once the goals are determine, have the brainstorming section of the campaign. Afterwards, your goals will help to determine which creative ideas can best accomplish the objectives and which ideas are best left behind.

3. Visual Ideas and Words
Everyone connects to ideas and thoughts differently, sometimes words can convey the best message while other times images are needed to best explain the situation. Try using a combination of words and images throughout the campaign. This will help you to ensure that all aspects of your target audience are reached with your message.

4. Blend Media Forms
Do not limit the campaign, or yourself, to one specific media form. Try combining multiple communication forms to spread the campaign in a variety of ways. For instance, if the purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness of the dangers of texting while driving and the campaign will focus on facts, statistics, and personal stories then use multiple platforms. Try using Facebook for the facts and personal stories, newspaper articles on the statics with a personal story, and Instagram to post informational charts and graphs. By forming a concise message through different multiple forms can reach a large variety of your audience.

5. Examples of Creative Campaigns
Here are two examples that used creativity as a way to help spread a PR campaign. One example is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. This campaign engaged the audience by encouraging the public to take action and raise awareness about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. This campaign blended together social and broadcast media attention to help raise awareness and money for this disease. Overall, the campaign was able to connect and successfully engage the audience.

The second example focuses on “Eddie the Terrible” from the Humane Society Silicon Valley. This campaign was focused on helping a small Chihuahua, Eddie, find a home; however the human society decided to be creative and try a new form of marketing. They made the decision to focus on Eddie’s bad traits, but explain how the negative habits can be turned into positive traits in a humorous and educational form. The society crossed multiple media forms from blogging to social media to local media. In the end the campaign proved successful because it found Eddie a home and the humane society gained a larger public awareness.

Creativity can help reach people in new and different ways and can help spread a campaigns’ objective. Just remember during the creative process to set specific goals, engage the target audience, and use words and visual images to connect with your audience.

My next post will focus on specific ways to connect with your consumer. I will discuss the importance of knowing and understanding your audience and learn some of the best ways to reach your audience. Until next time, have a fantastic week!
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The 5 C’s of Communication

Happy September! I hope everyone had an enjoyable August and enjoyed your final full month of summer. I thought the best way to go into the autumn season is by starting this month off with some important aspects of Public Relations communication. This post will lead into a five week blog series that will focus on five parts of communication within the Public Relations field. This week I will provide a general overview and brief explanation of each section.

I am breaking the five important aspects of communication into five C words. The sections include: connect, creativity, consumer, crisis, and culture. These five aspects will help you to remember the important ways to communicate with the public. Here is an explanation of each trait.

1. Connect
Since technology’s increasing presence in everyday lives, you need to release content that will connect with the public. This can include social media accounts, easily displayed smartphone and tablet content, and short, easy to grasp information. It’s important to connect with your audience on a personal level. This will help people to like, comment, and share content that will easily spread your message.

2. Creativity
Create engaging and informational content that is appealing to your public. Try spreading information in creative ways that will appeal to your audience. Creativity can be your best asset in any PR campaign you conduct!

3. Consumer
Always keep in mind who you want to reach with your content and message. The way you choose to display and spread content will be different for every audience. For instance, the way you spread a message to young adults will be different from the way you spread messages to older adults. By knowing and understanding the audience can best help you to effectively spread information.

4. Crisis
Crisis communication can affect any business or person, so by staying proactive can help you to avoid or better handle a crisis. There are different ways to handle a crisis and how to be proactive depending on the situation. One way is to have a crisis communication plan in place and how to handle certain situations that can arise.

5. Culture
By understanding business and society culture can help you to better spread company messages. Business culture focuses on the mission statement and the purpose of the business. While society culture can keep you updated on current society trends; this will allow you to decide different ways to reach an audience.

Overall, those five C’s of communication can help to serve as guidelines in reaching out to your audience. Over the next month, I will write about a specific section and explain its value. So be on the lookout for my next post, the first C I will discuss will be connect!

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Helpful PR Tips: Writing Clarity

Happy Friday readers! Today’s topic is going to focus on the importance of writing clarity. As a PR Coordinator, you will use many different forms of communication to reach an audience. They can include: press releases, social media posts, blogging, photos, videos, radio commercials, and more. One characteristic they all have in common is the importance of clarity.

The purpose of using communication to reach an audience is to spread your client’s message. For instance, if your client wants to inform the public about a fundraising event, a social media post could be a great way to reach someone! However, if the information is not clearly written there can be problems.

Example of miscommunication: “Come join us for a BBQ fundraiser next Friday at Boyce Park!” – This post does not say the fundraiser’s purpose, the time of the event, or an exact location at Boyce Park.
Example of clarity: “This Friday from 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. come help us raise money for the local Boys and Girls Club at the Boyce Park, Pavilions #8 and #9.” – This post provides an exact location, time, and the purpose of the event.

Clarity should always be a top priority because the message needs to be understood. Here are some tips to keep in mind when writing for the public.

1. Grammar
Always remember what you learned in high school English class: correct sentence structure, spelling, and the different forms of words. For instance, their, there, and they’re OR to, too, and two. By remembering basic grammar dos and don’ts will help you to clearly spread your message. For a refresher course on grammar visit this website.

2.Simplicity
Don’t try to overwhelm your audience with too much information at once. If you only have 140 characters or a 90 second video, keep the topic to the basics until you can fully explain the subject. If you are using writing as a form of communication, there’s no need to repeat the same thoughts.
“Wordy” Example: “Fabulous Hair is proud to announce our partnership with the American Diabetes Association. We have worked hard to earn a partnership with this respected non-profit organization. To learn more about this partnership read our monthly newsletter being released next week!” – That’s not a bad post, but it is repetitive.
“Simpler” Example: “Fabulous Hair and the American Diabetes Association joined together to help raise money to find a cure for diabetes! Read more about this in our monthly newsletter!” – This shorter post will be quicker to read and it still gets the same message across.
For longer forms of communication try a blog post, press release, or newsletter.

4. Start, Middle, and End
This is especially important for blogging or any long worded document. Make sure to clearly state the purpose of the topic and to have a complete thought. The beginning should have an attention getter or a thesis statement that states the document’s purpose. The middle should have the body of information pertaining to the topic. The ending should tie everything together in a nice bow.

To sum up, clear writing is most important because it will help to clearly spread your message. Always be consistent in your writing form and have a beginning, middle, and end. Try not to be repetitive with content and always use proper grammar.

Comment your tips on clarity below! Until my next post have a great weekend!

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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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