The Latest

This Week in Crisis PR

watercolour-2173846_1920

Crises – they happen. There seems to be no shortage of brands in crisis mode these days. This week was no exception.

On that note, I’m introducing a new column to highlight the PR crises of the week. I bring you (drum roll, please):

PR Crises of the Week

This week, the list includes:

Papa John’s

As you’ve probably heard by now, John Schnatter, chairman of Papa John’s, resigned following the revelation that he had used a racial slur in a May conference call with the marketing agency Laundry Service.

Per MediaPost, “Ironically, the call was meant to be a role-playing exercise for Schnatter, ‘in an effort to prevent future public-relations snafus,’ following his disastrous November 2017 comments.”

The fallout continued this week, as allegations that Laundry Service was out to extort money in a smear campaign against Schnatter came to light, as reported here by PR Daily.

Then today came stories about the company culture being “sexist” and “toxic.”

There’s sure to be more to come on this story unfolding in the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned, PR pros, for lessons to be learned.

MGM Resorts

On Tuesday, news broke that MGM Resorts was suing victims of the mass shooting that took place at its Mandalay Bay property in Oct. 2017. The news created a crisis for the brand, with the hashtag #BoycottMGM now trending.

As the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports, “MGM Resorts International’s public image took a bruising on social media Tuesday after the company filed a federal lawsuit against more than 1,000 Las Vegas mass shooting victims in an effort to avoid liability.”

While CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman said MGM’s lawyers “made a smart legal move,” many question the optics.

“If you make the public think that you’re suing people or their families who are dead or seriously injured, to me that’s a PR disaster,” Klieman said.

It remains to be seen how MGM will respond to the public backlash.

Burberry

Late in the week, Burberry joined the list of major brands in crisis when it was reported that the company burns its excess stock of items to “thwart counterfeiters.”

The news drew an immediate backlash from consumers who feel that not only is it wasteful but socially irresponsible to burn the items, which range from bags to clothes to perfume.

As PR Daily reported, “The fallout could be a big problem for these companies, as data show that consumers increasingly want the brands they buy to stand for positive change in their community.”

Which Crisis Stood Out?

Which crisis stood out for you this week, PR pros? Which brand is doing the best job of handling its crisis? How will the brands apologize and recover? Let’s keep an eye out to see how things shake out for these three brands.

All of this underscores the need for brands to be crisis ready. Get a plan in place BEFORE you need one. Remember that a crisis can happen to ANY brand at ANY time.

Which brand will be next to join the list?

 

 

 

You May Not NEED a Press Release – But Here’s Why You May Want to Write One Anyway

writing press release

Here’s a question I see A LOT in the public relations industry. “Are press releases still necessary?”

Now, if you follow me, you’ll know I’m a fan of press releases. My first guest post ever was for PR Daily on this very subject (Enough with the death of the press release already). So, when I hear talk of their demise, I always feel as if it’s coming from someone who’s just tired of writing press releases.

While I DO believe in the value of press releases and reports of its death are greatly exaggerated, the truth is, you don’t always need to write one whenever you have news to announce, as my recent piece for Muck Rack discusses.

But, even if you don’t really need one, it can be valuable to write one anyway. What do I mean? Let me give you an example. Continue reading You May Not NEED a Press Release – But Here’s Why You May Want to Write One Anyway

My Favorite Posts of 2017

My favorite posts of 2017

As I look back on 2017, it’s been a banner year for my business. I’ve done more writing than ever and attracted some great new clients.

What I’ve learned is that when you do what you love, people notice. I love PR—but I’ve always loved writing. So writing about public relations and the disciplines it touches on—content marketing, social media, influencer marketing, email marketing and others—just makes sense. It’s when I’m at my happiest, delving deeper into topics that are of interest to me and my PR brethren.

So, in that spirit, I wanted to share a round-up of my favorite pieces I worked on this year. Continue reading My Favorite Posts of 2017

Can journalists work without social media? Nearly half say no

How much do journalists rely on social media?

You know reporters use social media–but do you know HOW they use it?

Having this insight helps you leverage social platforms to work with journalists more effectively.

Cision’s Global Social Journalism Study, conducted annually, sheds light on how journalists are using social media and how they view its impact on journalistic practices and the profession. Here, we look at some of the findings. Continue reading Can journalists work without social media? Nearly half say no

Yes, You Need A Website For Your Small Business

igor-miske-207639

I was doing some research recently when I came across an article that said nearly half of small businesses don’t have a website. You read that right, nearly HALF. 45 percent is the number quoted in the article, which by the way was titled, “You’ll be shocked to learn how many small businesses still don’t have a website.” And yes, I was shocked.

I’ve seen research like this before, and on one hand, it isn’t hard to believe. Small business owners are strapped for time and funds–I get it. They’re overwhelmed by the demands placed on them, including not only sales but marketing, operations, business development, HR and the list goes on.

On the other hand, how can a small business NOT have a site? It is simply a must for any business today. Even if you’re not selling anything online, a site is the hub of all digital marketing activity—social media, content marketing, PR, advertising and SEO. Where is the first place many will go when they look for a product or service? Online. If you’re not there, they may not bother to seek you out–and go elsewhere.

Continue reading Yes, You Need A Website For Your Small Business

7 Takeaways from Content Marketing World

img_1961-1vertical

As I continue to come down from the “high” of attending Content Marketing World this past week, I’ve begun to process all the knowledge I drank in.

If you’re not familiar with Content Marketing World (#CMWorld, for short), it’s a conference put on by the Content Marketing Institute in Cleveland, led by the “godfather” of content marketing (and all-around nice guy), Joe Pulizzi (@joepulizzi). This year, it drew 3,500 attendees from all over the world, including attendees from 40 Fortune 100 companies. If you create or market content, trust me—it’s a BIG deal.

So, what did I, as a writer and PR pro, take away from the event? Here, I share my top takeaways from the week:

  1. Slow down: This message seemed to come through time and again. If we’re doing too much, and not doing it well, maybe we need to do less—and do it better. It’s quality, not quantity, that matters. In our race to produce as much content as possible, something’s lost. So much of the content produced today isn’t as stellar as it could be. And, the number of typos seems to be growing, even in the work of high-level publications. Let’s slow down, take a breath and make sure what we’re writing is of a higher quality. Let’s make sure to make what we produce count. As social media and content marketing expert Ian Cleary (@iancleary) noted, “Don’t publish content just to publish – make it worthwhile.”
  2. Writing is a constant: Strong writing matters. Without great writing skills, our content suffers. That’s why, if we’re accomplished writers, we’ll always have a future in content creation. So, a focus on improving your writing skills will never go out of style.
  3. Better writing IS attainable: On the topic of writing, I was lucky enough to hear one of my favorites, best-selling author Ann Handley (@annhandley), present not once, but twice, at CMWorld. What I like about Ann is her practical advice on writing—it’s not magic. To get better at writing, guess what? You just have to write. Yes, there are some techniques and approaches Ann shares in her bestselling book, Everybody Writes, that are quite helpful (if you don’t own this book, you should). However, as she herself said in her session, “There is no magic feather” that will make you a better writer overnight.
  4. Strong opinions lead to more shares: Content marketing authority Andy Crestodina (@Crestodina) gave one of the most popular keynotes at CMWorld (no wonder he was the most highly rated speaker at the 2015 event). He talked about the power of strong opinions when creating content. What do you believe that most people would disagree with? What questions are people in your industry afraid to answer? Andy says if you take a stand and publish your strongest opinions, more followers will share your content.
  5. Social media involves more than just setting it—and forgetting it: Jonathan Crossfield (@kimota), content marketer and social media expert, talked about how history repeats itself—and there’s really little excuse for brands that could learn from others’ mistakes. Be thoughtful when planning social campaigns—don’t rush to push that campaign out there without first doing your research. Learn what not to do—and there are PLENTY of examples.
  6. Don’t forget the visuals: We know visuals are important. But HOW important? Research published by Hubspot says content with relevant images gets 94 percent more views than content without relevant images[i]. That’s 94 percent! So, find a designer or some tools (like Canva) to help you. There are also plenty of sources for royalty-free images like Unsplash and Pixabay, if you don’t have your own photos to use.
  7. Get buy-in: Content creation isn’t a solo activity. You really need buy-in from the top AND engagement to ensure the success of your content marketing efforts. If you struggle to get that buy-in, take small steps to win them over. As content strategist Deana Goldasich (@goldasich) said, “You have to walk before you can run.”

 

[i] http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/visual-content-marketing-strategy#sm.00006ju6bu19m4dg8y3gk2ofxhfjg

 

Spring marketing and PR spruce up

tulips

Ah, spring is here at last. Nature is coming back to life. The birds are singing, the trees are blooming—and, our thoughts turn to….cleaning. Cleaning out closets, getting rid of clutter, sprucing up the yard…but, what about your business? For small businesses, marketing is a constant concern. Have you given any thought to freshening up your marketing—specifically, your public relations initiatives?

Here are five things you can do to spruce up your marketing and PR: Continue reading Spring marketing and PR spruce up

The small business owner’s answer to, “What should I post on social media?”

Ever wondered what you as a business owner should post on social media? If you want some great examples, look no further than this article that recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal, What Celebrities Can Teach Companies About Social Media.

It draws comparisons between how celebrities and businesses can use social media and gives real-world advice and examples as to what to post. And if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard a small business owner said, “But what should I post?!”–well, you know the rest!

A couple of tips that resonated:

  • Don’t post the same thing across all social media platforms: The article talks about how the NBA posts game updates on Twitter, while on Pinterest, it’s more about their merchandise.
  • Don’t post at the same frequency on all platforms: Twitter requires more frequent posting, while the article recommends posting five times per day on Pinterest and twice on Instagram. From the article: “Social-media experts acknowledge that compared with celebrities, it’s harder for companies to conjure up interesting posts and tweets. ‘When was the last time you saw someone showing off a home-insurance policy on Instagram?’ Forrester Research quipped in a June report on social-media use.”
  • Do be sure to show up–meaning post on a consistent basis: There’s nothing worse than visiting a company on Twitter or Facebook only to see that they haven’t posted anything for months…. According to the piece, “A lot of times we see brands disappear for weeks or months at a time,” Hasti Kashfia, president of Kashfia Media and stylist to Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “It’s just like a normal relationship. You can’t disappear and expect that same warm fuzzy feeling within those relationships.”
  • Interact with your followers: For example, if someone tweets about your business, you should retweet, favorite and reply to say thank you.
  • Don’t be overly promotional: I’ve seen it before–because they don’t know what to post, companies will promote specials or deals on social media. This can be a turnoff to your followers. If you need inspiration, the piece suggests commenting on current events when it makes sense, or even taking advantage of “throwback Thursday” by posting old photos. “A company like Ford Motor Co., for instance, could use the occasion to post ads from the 1940s.”

Follow these tips to boost your social media efforts. You may find it’s easier than you think to find great content to post and grow your following.

guy typing at laptop

 

Do Reporters Prefer to Receive Pitches Via Email or Social Media?

As those of us in PR know, reporters don’t always like to hear from us, preferring to gather story ideas and sources elsewhere. But, when we do contact them, they have preferences as to how we do it.

While social media has come into play when pitching journalists, according to this recent survey conducted by Cision, good ol’ email still wins out, coming in at the top of the list,. Yes, 81 percent of the reporters surveyed say they prefer to receive pitches via email (and without attachments, please!).

The surprising finding here isn’t about the email preference but about social media, which many seem to think is “destroying” journalism by “undermining traditional journalistic values.” 54 percent of U.S. journalists who responded agreed with that statement. And, although they increasingly use social media to find sources, promote their stories and monitor breaking news, they still prefer to receive pitches via email.

Perhaps even more surprising, the phone was preferred (30 percent) over social media (24 percent) as a way to hear from PR pros—now, that’s saying something when they would rather hear from us via phone than social media (many reporters detest phone calls).

So, even though email is far and away still the preferred way to contact reporters, the debate will continue as to the use of social media for pitching. Read more on that topic here.