Three Communications Mistakes That Will Haunt You…And How to Avoid Them

Three Communications Mistakes That Will Haunt You…And How to Avoid Them

Working in communications is not as frightening as running from Michael Myers, but there are pitfalls that all companies will want to avoid. In the spirit of Halloween, we wanted to offer some hauntingly good advice on how to keep your candy corn, sorry, communications strategy, safe and fresh. Proceed with caution!

 

Untrained Spokespeople – Scary!

Speaking with media presents a great opportunity for companies and individuals to share their message and position themselves in the marketplace. But without any preparation, what was once a positive development can quickly turn into a missed opportunity, and in some cases, a petrifying episode.

Whether you work for an agency or in-house, taking time to media train potential spokespeople is an essential part of a strong communications plan.

Reporters and producers, particularly those in broadcast, are constantly on the lookout for new sources. Those who appear knowledgeable, are dynamic, and clearly relay their message points will not only connect with their target audience but also have the potential to develop productive relationships with media contacts. Practice makes perfect, so don’t let your star burst. With proper preparation, you will be a whopping success!

Selecting the Wrong Influencer – Alarming!!

Having the opportunity to work with influencers is increasingly becoming an important component of communications today. In the age of digital media, influencer marketing has helped bridge the gap between marketing and communications strategies.

If you opt to focus on paid influencer strategies, the number of followers a potential influencer boasts on Twitter or Instagram is a good starting point. But relying on these numbers alone won’t paint the full picture, especially as micro-influencers can be just as effective and produce a high return on investment.

The following are a few key questions to ask to prevent a sour patch:

  • How often do they engage with their followers?

  • Do they come off as authentic?

  • Are they passionate and knowledgeable about what they say?

  • Are they viewed as just a popular personality or are they more highly regarded as a thought leader or authority?

 

Allowing a Crisis to Linger and Escalate – Terrifying!!!

Crises happen. No matter how successful a company is, no matter how well a company treats its employees, no matter how well-liked a company is by its consumers, it will need to deal with a crisis at some point in time. More often than not, crises will occur in the public eye and draw the media’s scrutiny.

The late great Don Canham, former athletic director of the University of Michigan, is known to have often said, “Never turn a one-day story into a two-day story.” This message rings truer today than it ever has before. We have continued to see companies and organizations fail to step up to the plate – or misstep – over the past few years.

In the age of social media and instant accessibility to both facts and fake news, failing to respond appropriately to a crisis can be detrimental to public perception and, ultimately, a company’s bottom line. Here are a few tips:

  • Proactively Communicate with the Public Be vigilant, communicate proactively to control the message and avoid information vacuums and fake theories that can cause more damage.

  • Be consistent in messaging, both internally and externallyJust as it is important to keep the public updated, the same can be said for employees. Be communicative and transparent.

  • Be Honest – Transparency is vital in today’s world, even if that includes admitting a mistake. Showing accountability can go a long way in helping repair your image, and the only thing worse than getting caught in a crisis is getting caught lying in response to that crisis.

Don’t find yourself betwixt. Follow these simple steps and you may end up being a life saver!

Reframing Influencer Marketing

Reframing Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing, which targets influential individuals to drive a brand’s message home and reach stakeholders, is frequently used in conjunction with social media and content marketing. But it has increasingly become a critical component of today’s most notable marketing and branding strategies.  While it is often referred to as a “hot new area,” focusing on influential individuals is nothing new. In fact, marketers have long utilized these tactics in the form of word-of-mouth and testimonial marketing.  Yet, despite its proven track record, apprehension may still exist.

Below are the top three influencer marketing misconceptions we’ve heard and how to counter them:

Celebrity Driven

While many influencer campaigns do work with celebrities, there is a common misconception that influencer marketing only involves a social media celebrity toting designer goods. The reality is that an influencer is anyone who can shape and guide a conversation.  Informed industry leaders, who have credible and discernible voices and whose opinions are well-respected within their networks, make excellent partners in influencer campaigns. Businesses must effectively utilize this select group’s ability to bridge the gap between user-generated content and professionally curated content. When used effectively, audiences tend to listen.

Online Presence

There is a misheld belief that influencers only live online. Influencers exist in the real world as well –  all that is required is that they have a platform on which to spread their message. For example, at a business conference, keynote speakers can be identified as influencers. The main difference between online and offline influencers is the size and scope of their reach, as well as the way their “success” is measured.  Online, analytics and quantifiable data provide hard proof that an influencer is bringing in results, whether it be via click-through to a website or engagement on social media. In real life, impressions are not as easily tracked, however, they may be longer lasting, more impactful, and lead to loyalty. When done effectively, influencers can build interpersonal relationships with consumers and improve brand sentiment.

Rogue Players

Influencers are invaluable. They can engage their community by authentically spreading ideas through original content. However, with the generation of “original content,” there is the concern that your influencer could go “rogue” or post content that does not mirror the tone or spirit of your organization. Therefore, the most valuable and trusted resources are those who already follow and engage with your brand. Mindfully selecting your influencers is a critical component of building a successful campaign.

Once you understand and see the potential value of influencer marketing campaigns, it is hard to dismiss them. Influencer marketing has taken over from word-of-mouth and testimonial marketing. It provides a new, often affordable and practical way of targeting audiences and conveying a sense of credibility that spans platforms. In a professional environment, influencers offer both a sense of humanity while maintaining an authoritative voice. A combination that is hard to come by.  

Influencers come in many shapes and sizes. They are the business leaders speaking at esteemed conferences, the journalists with well-respected voices, the culinary mavens and the street artists. And, when utilized correctly, they are the ultimate game-changers for the way people view your brand and drive your business performance.  

Goodman CEO Q&A with The Small Business Journal

Goodman CEO Q&A with The Small Business Journal

GMI’s very own CEO, Tom Goodman, speaks with Small Business Journal on building a business and remaining competitive in the constantly evolving communications industry. Read the Q&A here: https://bit.ly/2FB5ryp

HOW COMMUNICATIONS PEOPLE AND JOURNALISTS CAN WORK BETTER TOGETHER IN 2018

HOW COMMUNICATIONS PEOPLE AND JOURNALISTS CAN WORK BETTER TOGETHER IN 2018

GMI Digital's Executive Director, Amy Jaick, sat down with our client, Purch, to discuss tips for how communications people and journalists can work together to build the best stories.  A brief excerpt is contained below.

A few weeks ago, we published a blog post about how PR people can improve their working relationships with journalists…from the perspective of a journalist and editor. And that post got us thinking: Surely PR people (or communications people, as they may preferred to be called) have their own thoughts on how to improve working relationships with journalists. So we decided to ask them!

We picked up the phone and called Goodman Media, Purch’s external communications agency, and lucky for us, Goodman Media’s executive director, Amy Jaick, had time for a chat. “What’s your advice to journalists for making the most of their relationships with communications folks?” we asked Amy. Here’s what she had to say.

1. Ask for more. Journalists are now expected to share stories in many ways — not just through articles. Communications experts know this and can often provide resources, like infographics or social media strategy tips, which help journalists deliver their message in a novel way. So go ahead and ask your PR contact for more than just a source!

2. Be willing to compromise. Journalists often want to get an expert source on the phone right away to grab a quote for a story, but sometimes that’s just not possible. Communications pros appreciate it when journalists are willing to explore a client’s expertise outside of direct conversations and will gladly point journalists toward published articles that their clients have written or talks they’ve given that fit into the story being told.

3. Learn to listen. Good communications people are experts on the broad trends occurring in the industries they represent. Sometimes, when journalists contact them for assistance with a story, they may have input on those trends or news that can help make a story even more impactful. Be open to hearing what they have to say, and trust that they’re up to date on the topic you’re covering.....

To read the full piece on Purch's website, please click here

Goodman CEO Featured In Bulldog Reporter's PR PROfile Series

Goodman CEO Featured In Bulldog Reporter's PR PROfile Series

Bulldog Reporter's latest PR PROfile features Goodman Media's very own CEO, Tom Goodman. From his most memorable experiences to top lessons learned, Tom shares his secrets to PR success. We've included a snippet below, but the full version is available here.

TOM GOODMAN

President, CEO and Founder, Goodman Media International

Length of PR career (so far): 40 years and counting.  I was at J. Walter Thompson PR for four, ABC News for six, CBS News and CBS Inc. for nine and, now, Goodman Media, which I founded 21 years ago.

Your most memorable campaign: British Airways (through its agency M&C Saatchi) was our founding client; I was brought in to help publicize one of the biggest promotional stunts in the airline’s history—the placement of a half-sized model of the Concorde atop a building in Times Square. Goodman Media literally “took off” with that project and it’s a nice coincidence that our office overlooks that site today.

Most poignant professional moment: I spent one year after college as a newspaper reporter in Ohio and nothing in school or life prepared me for one of my first big stories, a triple murder of three beautiful little girls, ages 19 months, two and a half, and four. Seeing what happened to those kids, photographing them and reporting the story became part of my life; I never forgot the girls or their mother, for reasons that quickly became apparent. She committed the unimaginable crime.

Read more at http://bit.ly/2sjEhZ8.

Simply Because You Can Talk Directly To Your Audience, Doesn't Mean You Should

Simply Because You Can Talk Directly To Your Audience, Doesn't Mean You Should

Social media has revolutionized the PR and marketing world by enabling brands and celebrities to speak directly to their audiences.  While this offers an amazing opportunity for ongoing engagement and authentic conversation, it also opens the door to larger potential issues.

Even though companies and individuals can communicate with their followers directly without PR support, for marketing efforts to be truly successful, communications executives should always have a seat at the table.

Identifying The Squeaky Wheel

There’s an old saying that the squeaky wheel is the one that gets greased. Nowhere is that more true than on social media. With a direct line of communication to the brand, followers can publicly criticize or laud a product, often prompting knee-jerk reactions from the brand itself, especially when the commentary is negative. 

Before you react to new social media feedback, ask your PR team to do a deep dive into general sentiment. Since PR professionals focus on overall perception, they can quickly evaluate whether all customers feel a certain way or it’s only a small portion of the audience.  With this insight in hand, marketers can make more accurate decisions about inventory, product modifications, and more.

 Living Outside The Moment

We can all think of a celebrity or public figure who, in the last month or even the past week, has endured public criticism for incendiary comments fired off in the heat of the moment. Take, for example, Kanye West’s Twitter feed. Though many did “shut up and enjoy the greatness” of some of West’s Twitter rants, his actions ultimately reflected negatively on his brand, causing the public to question his mental health and ability to continue performing on tour (it was cancelled midway through).

Situations like these never end well for the criticized party.  While brands often think they won’t make the same mistake as individuals, that’s simply not true. Without the same training as PR executives, brands may inadvertently turn a small issue into a larger crisis.

Publicists are in place to provide safeguards for off-the-cuff responses by those closest to the brand, and plan for the time and distance to carefully craft an on-brand response to any unforeseen criticism. When negative commentary starts flooding in, turn to your PR team, who can assess the situation, formulate a proper response plan and share that with key stakeholders.  After all, all it takes is one well-meaning tweet with the wrong word or message to create a firestorm.

Keep Messaging On Brand

While organizations and celebrities are immersed 24/7 in all aspects of their brand, PR pros keep a targeted eye on the messaging and positioning across all channels. Finding an authentic voice is important to engaging and keeping an audience, and a larger team should be involved in accomplishing the sometimes difficult task of brand voice. But, PR people are well-trained to help navigate the brand team through the nuances of language and communications – and ultimately help distinguish between the next top-engagement tweet and a tone-deaf, off-brand gaffe.

Testing, testing, 1,2,3…

Each year, companies spend countless amounts of money and resources developing new marketing campaigns.  Even with advanced research and insight, it’s not always clear how the public will react until these campaigns go live. Today, social media provides a valuable opportunity for marketers to test new messages and narratives in a lean way. However, marketers who test it on their own, without incorporating other groups, will quickly find out that they’re only getting part of the story, a mistake that could become costly later on.

PR and marketing executives, who have both spent their careers building and executing campaigns, can work together to test new ideas. Unfortunately, all too often these two groups are working in silos, never connecting until after a campaign has been approved. Working together early in the process, can help marketers figure out what to build upon, what to test further and what to drop, before making a hefty investment in a splashier, all-encompassing marketing campaign.

ROI

While a core component of PR is media relations, the idea that media relations is the singular focus, is no longer correct. Today, PR touches upon all areas connected to the consumer or audience, ranging from social media to marketing to customer service.

This means that marketers don’t have to do it all alone.  You can leverage your PR team to help amplify the work you’re doing on social and digital.  By working with your communications team, you can draw more attention to your campaigns and increase your ROI.

Good PR professionals – whether an in-house team or an outside agency – bring to the table a targeted expertise when thinking about the overall marketing picture. As the part of your team with a constant pulse on what the marketplace and the media is talking about, it’s always wise to consult PR before engaging with that same marketplace. Teamwork makes the audience engagement dream work!

To see more about how we think, please click here.  Follow us on Facebook at @goodmanmedianyc or on Twitter at @GoodmanMedia. 

How Can PR Help to Restore Public Trust in Media?

How Can PR Help to Restore Public Trust in Media?

According to a late 2016 Gallup poll, only 32% of respondents had “a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media.” This statistic is unsurprising, given the rise of “fake news” permeating today’s headlines and social media feeds.

For communications professionals, the fact that consumers are becoming more splintered and confused about which sources to trust is concerning. As the media is a main lifeline of our work, what can publicists do to thrive in the changing landscape?

CNN Senior Media Correspondent Brian Stelter gave a heartfelt plea after the election on the importance of standing up for truth. His plea was aimed at journalists, but it can just as easily apply to communications professionals as well. He said: “…Don’t tell half-truths, don’t shade the truth. Don’t fear the truth. And then we can focus on the other ‘t’ word—trust.”

Know which outlets are reputable and which are not. A Merrimack College media professor has provided a fairly comprehensive list of “fake news” sites here, but understanding what makes a trustworthy outlet in the first place is an important first step in combating fake news. Does the outlet employ diligent fact checkers? Are the stories without a clear and obvious bias, and were they written by a real person? Does it have commentators from both sides of the political spectrum? While clients may see value in having a story placed in a buzzy online site that gets millions of monthly views, being associated with a notoriously dishonest site will ultimately hurt its reputation in the long run. It’s critical to remember that quality and respect is always more important than quantity and views.

Supply journalists with only accurate, real information. It’s also on us to ensure the pitches and releases we send out can be verified against scrupulous fact checkers and that all our claims and promises can be held under scrutiny. The reputation of both the media and the PR industry depend on our trustworthiness.

Expand PR capabilities. With the splintering of audiences and trust, media relations should not be the be-all, end-all for communications professionals. If traditional media relations is your bread and butter, consider expanding your capabilities and skills to adapt to the changing landscape. Find a way to interact directly with the consumer by employing digital and social media initiatives, event marketing and other emerging trends. But be sure to always be truthful in those efforts as well!

The media industry is facing an uncertain future. While the Fourth Estate has yet to fail us, PR pros must do all we can to ensure the media’s longevity and reputation as a trustworthy source of (real) facts. After all this commotion has died down, those who kept their standards and held to the truth will be remembered and respected for their efforts. Let’s do our part.

To see more about how we think, please click here.  Follow us on Facebook at @goodmanmedianyc or on Twitter at @GoodmanMedia.

Why You Should "Date" Your Audience

Why You Should "Date" Your Audience

As Valentine’s Day approaches, conversations about love and relationships begin to appear more often. While it may not seem obvious at first, PR and marketing professionals can learn a lot from the advice of relationship experts. In fact, those who take the time to “date” their audiences are far more likely to succeed in the long run.

There are a lot of fish in the sea. Stand out.

Just like in dating, you want to stand out.  In order to do so, you must present a compelling reason why someone should pay attention to you.  What is it about you that’s unique?  How are you different from others?

Once you’ve answered that question, pay close attention to the way your audience talks about themselves and their needs. By understanding exactly how they communicate, you can articulate your value proposition in a way they’ll understand.

Finally, if words alone aren’t enough, it may be time for some sort of grandiose gesture. Just remember that while big campaigns are likely to attract attention, your focus should be on building a long-term relationship, not just trying to pique someone’s initial interest.

Continue the conversation

Congratulations! The “first date” went well and now your audience wants to hear from you again. The question is, what do you say?  How do you keep the conversation going?

Start by recognizing what attracted them to you in the first place. If it was because of your quirky sense of humor, keep being funny.  If it was your deep insight in a particular area, highlight your expertise regularly.

You should also make sure that each of your interactions is meaningful.  Content should be relevant and specific. Customer service should be timely and helpful. Product offers should be valuable.

Finally, communicate with your audience when and where they want to hear from you.  Make sure you’re using the right channels to get through to them, not just the channels you’re used to using. When it’s appropriate, you may even think about introducing them to new ones.

Work on your relationship

Just because someone is interested in you, doesn’t mean your job is over. In fact, it’s actually just beginning.

Devote real time and attention to your audience. Talk to them regularly and listen to what they’re saying in response. Create an environment where they can speak honestly and openly and where you support their ideas and feelings on an ongoing basis.

This Valentine’s Day, remember how much your relationships matter.  Treat your audiences with care and you may be on the road to a lifelong love affair.

Written by Amy Jaick, Executive Director of GMI Digital at Goodman Media. For more on how we think, click here.

 

 

Building An All-Star Communications Team

Building An All-Star Communications Team

Last night, we watched two standout teams, which have spent the past few months enduring an endless amount of workouts, practices, meetings and games, fight for the title of Super Bowl winner.

As PR professionals, we can all appreciate and gain some perspective from the similarities between building an all-star football team and building an all-star PR team:

Head Coach: Like a football team’s head coach, senior PR executives build and manage groups of individuals who demonstrate exceptional talent, expertise and promise. While these leaders may not have all the answers, they do have the experience and understanding necessary to develop successful strategies that move things down the field. 

Team Captain: To take a team from great to best, you need a fearless team leader with a clear game plan and the ability to inspire those around them. When the proposed game plan isn’t working as well as it should, this leader can call an “audible” and quickly change directions. These decisions keep teams nimble and are a testament to the leader’s ability to read what’s best for your team at any given moment.

Most Valuable Player (MVP): An MVP is a top player on the field that has the opportunity to make THE game-changing play. True MVPs go the extra yard – they assist teammates when needed, always meet deadlines, are known as a go-to for quality work and continuously challenge themselves and those around them to keep improving. Being an asset to their team also means they are an asset to their client.

The Rookie: No team is complete without a rookie, usually taking the shape of the youngest or newest member. Rookies are sponges, and with strong leadership, coaching and teammates, they can rise to become an MVP or even the captain. Leaders should be a mentor for their rookies and show them how to keep the ball moving forward. When appropriate, take them off the bench and trust them to keep the ball moving forward on their own. You might be surprised to find out they have the perfect new pitch idea or a much needed mastery of presentation decks.

The Locker Room: Also known as your office, a company diner, meeting room – wherever the team comes together and makes magic happen. It’s where the team spends hours preparing client materials and late nights or early mornings meeting deadlines. A great company culture allows every member’s opinion to be heard and new ideas are welcome and respected, ultimately allowing the team to work to its full potential.

By combining all of these elements with motivation, a good attitude and drive, you can build an all-star PR team that is ready to move into the end zone for the win.

 

How PR Pros Can Navigate Executive Change

How PR Pros Can Navigate Executive Change

Last week, our country participated in the age-old tradition of peaceful transition of power.  While most executive changes don’t typically involve the Oval Office, they all face similar challenges. 

New executive teams often result in change, both internally and externally, and fear or anxiety may be the byproduct of these shakeups. As employees, clients and even media begin to speculate about the organization’s future, the vital role of the leadership and communications teams is to reassure and re-engage.

For PR professionals involved in the transition, clear communication is the key to a successful and smooth “changing of the guard”. Adhering to a few sound principles will help: 

Plan ahead, way ahead. Forward thinking and strategic planning should be incorporated early on. Together, as partners, thinking about and talking about the transition well ahead of time allows for ample preparation and strategy development for the succession. It also ensures that the right questions are asked proactively and that messaging is developed well ahead of when it is actually used.

Be in the room where it happens. A crucial component of success comes from truly being a part of the process from the beginning: meeting with the board or key leadership, discussing a strategy and putting a timeline in place in order to meet goals.  PR executives can also guide leadership on communications process and prepare them for the transition.

Transparency goes a long way. When handling internal communications, it is important to be transparent whenever possible. With more information available, there is less chance for the rumor mill to disseminate false claims.  Communicate frequently, be open and try to acknowledge the changes ahead. It allows a sense of a surety and trust within the organization. 

The first 100 days following any transition are critical, but our work as communications executives doesn’t stop there.  In fact, day 101 marks the continuation of the new campaign. The first year is an equally exciting time and the work continues with ample engagement opportunities ahead. Acknowledge any key milestones and find news pegs and fresh ways to keep your executive top of mind.

For more on how we think, click here