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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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

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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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 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 Marketing Plan Part 2: Focusing on Social Media Networks

Happy Tuesday blog readers and welcome to social media marketing (SMM) part two! Just to recap my last post, I discussed the background on SMM and the best ways to lay your plan’s foundation. The five main points I focused on were: goals, target audience, content, competitors, and available resources. To benefit you long term, it’s important to clearly determine those five criteria when starting a SMM plan.

This week post is going to focus more in depth on some popular social media sites. Each social media site has its strengths and weaknesses and depending on your goals, it can help you determine which social media sites are most beneficial.

1. YouTube
It provides the public with entertaining and informational videos with ease. This site has over 1 billion users worldwide and can be viewed in 75 countries. YouTube can help you provide users with a face of the company and educate your audience with company information. However, YouTube doesn’t allow you to interact as easily with their audience, but it does allow users to post their thoughts and share videos. It’s important to remember not all information is best conveyed through videos.

Some ways YouTube can best be utilized is:
Promotional videos for upcoming products or events
Testimonial videos from customers and employees
Press Release announcements with more of a personal touch

2. Instagram
This social media site allows you to interact with your audience through photos instead of long videos. This site allows users to easily scroll through posts in a short amount of time. This means your photos have to stand out of the crowd to grab your audience’s attention. If you can provide unique photos, Instagram can help you reach your audience very quickly. In a recent study, results showed this site is more popular among women than men and is most often used at the end of a work week. The negatives when choosing this site is if the content is not catchy, users will quickly scroll past your information.

Instagram can be used for multiple purposes including:
Event photos
Creatively posting new products (different from what you would see on the company website)
Showing off current and new employees
Telling the audience a story (either through multiple posts or a photo collage)

3. LinkedIn
Unlike other social media sites, LinkedIn can allow your company to learn more about your target audience. Through Q &A pages, you can better understand what topics your audience is interested in and what they are looking to learn. With over 227 million members worldwide, you will be able to reach out to multiple audiences. LinkedIn can help you reach out to journalists and bloggers in a new way besides email and phone. You can follow news media sites to view their focused topics for the day or if they are working on any special projects. However, if your SMM goals are more focused on a new product or increasing sales, LinkedIn may not be the best site to use. Since LinkedIn is more of professional setting, it may help your SMM plans if your goals are to better understand your public, help inform journalists about newsworthy company information, or help to build creditability for your company.

Instances LinkedIn is helpful can include:
Posting informational news stories to pass along to journalists or bloggers
Keep the audience updated on company information/changes

Overall, videos and pictures are great ways to interact with your target audience. They are quick simple methods to get your message across. While reaching out to journalists in an easier form, can increase your chances are providing newsworthy information in a new way.

I chose not to talk about Facebook or Twitter because I wanted to provide more in depth information on the above three social media sites.

I hope this post gave you a new perspective on how social networking sites can help you better reach your SMM goals. Next week I will be discussing the importance of maintaining your social media sites and how you can best utilize them for your SMM campaigns!
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Instagram’s Newest Transformation to Carousel Ads

Welcome back readers! Today is Transformation Tuesday and I’m going to discuss Instagram’s newest transformation. Instagram is a social media website that allows users to post photos about events in their life for their friends and family. It also allows companies to better connect with their audience in a more personal and direct way.

Instagram doesn’t focus on words to capture an audience’s attention, but instead allows an image to take the place of words. For instance, Target recently posted a photo to promote the DVD release of the movie Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. In the photo you can see clothes and supplies that can be associated with the movie. Target chose this photo because it allows the user to imagine being a part of the rebellion from the movie. The image encourages users to visit Target to purchase the movie and maybe a few extra supplies. This photo is unique because it appeals to a wide range of girls and women. It allows them to imagine themselves as the independent warriors in their own lives.
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Instagram’s new transformation will now allow businesses to promote their brand through a photo slide show. Originally, companies could only post one photo at a time on their Instagram account; but now with new slide show brands will be able to post multiple photos together. This new advertising method is called: carousel ads. Carousel ads will allow users to scroll to the left to view multiple photos. Here is a video that shows how the slideshow will work for users.

Another transformation Instagram will offer is a link to click and view a company’s website. In the past, Instagram only allowed companies to promote photos, not website links. But now with the carousel ads, the user will have the opportunity to click on a company website and learn more.

This new transformation was caused by advertisers needing more direct results with their audience. Many current Instagram business accounts wanted more successful ways of reaching their audience and have their audience take direct action (by clicking on a link and purchasing an item). So Instagram worked to create the carousel ads that will allow more direct contact with users, but also allow the users to scroll past the ad, if they are not interested.

From a PR perspective, I can see the new carousel ads becoming effective because it will offer more interaction with users and provide them with more information. I think by allowing companies to promote their message with multiple images can help to better inform the user.

However, my only concern is how accepting users will be about viewing more advertisements on their newsfeed. As a frequent Instagram user, I’m not always happy when I see multiple ads on my newsfeed; especially if I’m not interested in the displayed content. So it will be interesting to learn how these carousel ads will play an effect on the future of Instagram’s advertising.

Instagram will be releasing the new ads on a limited time frame and during that time they will try to determine which format will best relate to users.
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