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!

crisis

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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Determining Your Social Media Marketing Plan: Part 1

Hello fellow PR readers! I want to start with an apology for my lack of PR blog posts the past two months. Sadly, life got in the way and I was unable to write. However, I am back and full of new PR knowledge to share and even learn from you guys! So expect many more posts to follow for the upcoming summer months.

Today’s topic is only part one in a four part series of social media marketing. Today I am going to focus on social media and how to determine the best sites that will help your business. Social media marketing (SMM) is when business chose to market their company through the use of social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) as a way to reach their target audience or goals. As SMM becomes the large base for business advertising, it might be hard to determine which social media channels can provide the best option.

Here are some key ideas to keep in mind when choosing social media channels for your marketing campaigns.

1. Goals
What’s your desired outcome from using social media? Is your goal to reach a larger audience, educate the public, a call to action, or generate conversations? Determine very clearly the goals and this will help you to chose the best social media channels to help achieve them.

2. Target Audience

Who do you want to target during your SMM? Are they young adults, women between the ages of 28-34, or the general population? Try to be as specific as possible because the more you know about your goals, the easier it will be to determine which networking sites can better reach your audience. There are many studies available that offer information about networking site and their users. The studies can offer the users: age, gender, income, or location. Try researching these sites once you know your target audience.

3. Content
By determining the type of content you want to share, you can research the social platforms that can best spread your message. For instance, a fashion magazine may choose to use Pinterest or Instagram because those sites offer the best ways to share and post images online. However, if a restaurant wants to inform their audience about proper ways to prepare meals, Facebook or a blog site may best fit their needs. Clearly determine the desired content and decide the best way to inform your target audience (through posts, photos, videos, etc.).

4. Competitors
No matter your type of business, there is always competition. Have you researched which social media sites your competition is using? Do some research on your competitors and see which sites they utilize and how much they engage with their audience. This can help give you an idea of which sites you may want to use.

5. Available Resources

Determine early on how much time the company can commit to social media. Remember quality over quantity is always best. Having one very engaging and active networking site is better than have five sites that are never maintained. By determining the amount of available resources (time available, employees, etc.) can help you decide which social media sites to chose.

Just to recap sit down with the PR/Social Media teams to clearly outline the goals and desires you want the SMM to accomplish. By understanding the purpose of your company’s social marketing can help you best determine the networking sites. Some research may be needed before completely understanding the goals, but once the goals are set, it will make the rest of the marketing campaign easier to navigate.

Well I hope you enjoyed part one of my social media series and I look forward to keep sharing! Check out next week’s part two post! I will talk more in depth about some popular social media sites that could help your SMM plan. Please comment your opinions on the five steps I listed and if you think PR pros should be keeping anything else in mind when creating their SMM plan!

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Part 1: Rebranding as a PR Pro

Happy Thursday and welcome to another week of PR knowledge! Today’s topic will focus on the first three steps of rebranding a company’s image. Then next week I will conclude the post with the last three steps. During this post I will explain the brief concept of rebranding, also I will link other articles that will provide in depth information on this topic.

So I chose this topic because rebranding can help give a company new life, but it can be a long and difficult process. Rebranding can provide the company with new opportunities by reaching out to larger audiences and investors. However, there are risks when making these transformations. The public and company employees could rebel against the new changes.

Rebranding can be defined as creating a new image of the company through their values and logos. The six basic rebranding steps include: justification, key principles, the company’s employees, distinction, brand launch, and monitoring public perception.

Justify the Change
Rebranding an existing company’s image can be a long and difficult task, it’s important to understand the purpose behind the rebranding. Creating a list of objectives can help to understand the process because it will help to create a clear outline of what needs to be accomplished.
Rebranding usually occurs for two different reasons. One, the company may be attempting to gain a head start on a new opportunity. For instance, the purpose could be to reach out to a larger audience. A similar situation with Target occurred during the 1990’s when Target was viewed as another low priced retail store. However, to stand out from the crowd they rebranded their image to offer affordable and high quality clothing. Then they created a new logo to appeal to their larger audience base and they successfully rebranded their company.
old target

Another reason to rebrand is because the company is trying to react to recent events; for instance a merger occurring between two companies. In 2005, Sprint and Nextel merged together to offer their customers a better service. However, their networks were incompatible and their new logo, that explained the merger, was subtle and very basic. Their rebranding failed and the two companies split up.
sprint

Key Principles and Values
During the rebranding process, your company should understand their key values that will be maintained during these transitions. It’s important to explain what the company hopes to achieve during the rebranding and which parts needs to be changed or removed. During this growing process, the company values should be the main focus. Don’t get caught up in creating a new visual, or logo, for the company. Creating a logo will come later during this process.

Employees: Company’s Past, Present, and Future
Never forget about the employees. They make up a large portion of the company and can have a big impact on how rebranding is received. So don’t be afraid to bring your employees together during this transition! Explain to the employees the reasons behind the rebranding and ensure they understand. To help increase cooperation, try allowing the employees to have a voice during this process. Employees understand their company well and can help provide constructive feedback. By providing the employees a voice during this growing transition can help increase their commitment and excitement about the company.

Overall, rebranding can help a company redefine their image and build better relationships with their employees. This can be a long process, but when it’s done correctly companies can be successful.

Check out next week’s article for the conclusion of the rebranding process!
Rebranding

PR New Year’s Resolutions 2015

Happy 2015! I want to start with apologizing for not posting any blog entries during December, but the holidays kept me from having any free time for my blog. But now I’m back and ready for an all new year of PR blog entries to share with you!

This week’s post is going to focus on how you can improve your PR skills in the New Year. Making New Year’s resolutions are always popular, but difficult to continue throughout the year. I like to write smaller goals that will work towards a larger resolution. That way when I complete my smaller tasks I feel accomplished and it encourages me to stay focus on my larger goal! So I hope I can help you achieve some of your PR goals this year.

Here are a few goals you can focus on for 2015:

1. Discipline
Although PR allows you to be creative, it’s important to remember to discipline yourself. It’s easy to work on fun and creative campaigns, but the backbone in PR are the skills you will need throughout your career. They include: writing, focusing, researching and interpersonal skills. So for 2015, be sure to set aside time to determine if you are giving those basic skills enough attention. And if not, take 30 minutes out of your week to practice them.

2. Negotiation
It’s important to always keep the public updated with information on your company or client. One of the best ways to spread your message is through the media and you’ll need to effectively communicate with journalists. You can do this through email pitches, in-person meetings, a brief video about the topic, or any other way you can grab their attention. During that brief time you need to inform journalists about the importance of your topic. Try improving your negotiating skills this year by practicing on friends or co-workers. Even challenge yourself! When you’re with a group try to pitch a fun activity and see how many agree with your idea. Be sure not to be pushy or waste ten minutes about your idea.

3. Creative Thinking
Never let your creative thoughts stop! You would be surprised how a midnight snack can bring about a great idea. So for 2015 try to be creative in all aspects of your life. Whether it’s a new DIY project or filming a fun YouTube video, this can help your mind stay active and be ready for the next PR campaign!

4. Networking
It’s never too early or too late to network with other professionals in ALL career fields. A new connection can open many possibilities for you. From insightful PR advice to a new friend who can introduce you to a possible client. Try attending a local networking event or even get to know some of the workers at your favorite coffee shop!

5. Attention to Details
Grammar mistakes shouldn’t be your only concern when it comes to the details. As a PR professional it’s important to anticipate large and small problems, evaluate situations, and analyze data. I like to view PR as looking at the “Big Picture” while still analyzing every frame. To test your attention to details try playing puzzle and search & finds games. Also, take a situation you may come across and analyze it from the beginning to end.

To sum up this week’s post remember to never underestimate the importance of your PR skills. PR is an ever changing field because we constantly need new ways to interact with the public. Try to maintain your basic skills even when learning new ones and you will be grateful!

Now I want to share with you my PR New Year’s resolutions. My goals are to become a better communicator with journalists, network more often, and learn more about the different industries in PR. Please comment below your PR Goals for 2015.

Until next week have a Happy New Year!
PR1

Showing off Your Skills: Creating an Online Portfolio

For today’s topic I’m going to talk about the importance an online portfolio can have as a PR professional. I created my website my senior year at college, but I wish I could have made one after my first internship experience. Because it took me almost three months to perfect my website! Although I started with a template, I was very busy with school work, a job, and well a social life. So I found it hard at times to sit down and commit to working on my site. If I had started a year earlier I wouldn’t have felt so stress. Also by creating your website early can open you up to more internship and career opportunities. By creating a portfolio site, you can stand out from the crowd and make a great impression!

So if you’re wondering what you can add to a portfolio site, here are some ideas!
***Remember never post ALL of your work online, leave out your weaker content and repetitive topics. You want your site to maintain interest and not bore viewers with the same information. ***

1.Writing Samples
This is a great time to show off some of your best work! And don’t just put school assignments on there, but other things too. You can post an in depth news article you wrote for your paper, a media strategy document showing off your mad strategic thinking skills, any social media posts you have written (make sure if you’re using ones from an internship you have permission first), and don’t forget any blog posts you have written! By posting a variety of topics will show potential employers your wide range of writing genres.
2.Video Work
Whether this is your own camera work, editing skills, or on camera recordings this shows professionals you are adaptable to changing communication fields with ease.
3.Graphic Design Examples
If you created logos, advertisements, magazine layouts, or anything else this is a great time to show your creativity with images instead of words. It also shows you’re skilled in the Adobe products.
4.Event Planning
This is one of my favorites, by listing the events you have helped to plan and execute can show employers how you can handle multiple things at once. You can post event photos and explain some of the steps you went through to create a successful event.
5.PR, Advertising, & Marketing Campaigns
If you worked with actual clients or even an in class client show off your skills of how you targeted a specific audience and what tactics helped to make that campaign successful. Be sure to include the objective, any graphs, survey results, and advertising tactics you created.
6.Primary & Secondary Research
If you were required to take a media research class, like me, or was able to take part in conducting research be sure to show off those skills. This will show employers you aren’t afraid to go out into the field to talk with the public and you can understand the logistics of a project.
7.About Me & Contact
Sometimes you might get so caught up in talking about your amazing skills you forget to talk about yourself. Be sure to include a small informal bio (nothing too personal that you wouldn’t want your bosses to know) and post a professional photo of yourself. This can help make you more personal to professionals. Then after looking at your site don’t forget to show people how they can contact you about future careers!

Now that you have an idea for the content of your site, it’s time to decide on what website to use! There are many sites that are free and only recommend buying a domain address. If you’re still in college I recommend not buying a domain address right away, just because you are starting out and it can be an expensive upkeep if you don’t have the extra cash. Now here is a list of a few websites that I think can work well.

1.WordPress
This website allows you to build your site from scratch or offer templates. You can link multiple pages to one account, create a privacy setting, have unlimited posts, and more.
2.Wix
This site can be easy to use, especially if website building isn’t your strongest trait. It provides you with many free layouts and themes to choose from and you can still customize your site to stand out from the crowd.
3.Weebly
This site keeps your portfolio very simple and easy to use. This could be great if you don’t have much content for your site, but you want to start with something!

Here is a link to an article that discusses the pros and cons of using WordPress and Wix and another article discussing Wix, Weebly, and other sites. Just make sure you choose a site that works best for you and your content.

I know I just provided you with a lot of information so here is a brief summary of this post.

Creating a portfolio site can help you to stand out from the crowd while displaying your talent. Be sure to include any relevant skills that you would enjoy using for future jobs and be sure not to include all your work on the site. When choosing what website is best for your portfolio, choose based on your content level, price, and your website building skills.

If you’re interested you can check out my online portfolio as an example. And if you have any advice of what to do or avoid please comment below!

online portfolio