Monthly Archives: November 2014

Long Lead vs. Short Lead

By: Gina Mason

Timing is everything in PR and in order to score that big media placement your timing must be right on or else you may lose the opportunity. One common misconception is that getting media placements in those nationwide publications can be done right away. Often times, new clients will say to us “I want to be featured in next month’s edition of GQ magazine, can you make that happen?” As much as we would love to deliver on our client’s request, pitching those publications can be very time sensitive and can require planning months in advance.

In order to see results from your pitch, you must be cognizant of the writer’s editorial calendar, time and deadlines. There are different types of publications (print & digital) and each has different deadlines in terms of pitching. As PR professionals, we distinguish those publications and our pitches as long and short leads.

Long Lead
Long lead outlets are primarily print magazines and those reporters are usually working on stories anywhere from 3-6 months in advance. National magazine like Allure and Men’s Health take a long time to create, edit and publish so they work months in advance so they have plenty of time to make any changes before going to print. Many of these long lead outlets also follow an editorial calendar or publishing schedule which usually maps out what each edition of the magazine is going to feature for the year (i.e. the July edition of Food & Wine may feature 4th of July BBQ recipes).

Every publication has a different calendar, so be sure to check it out on their website prior to pitching.

Here is an example of SELF’s editorial calendar:
http://www.condenast.com/brands/self/media-kit/print/calendar

Notice that the July issue closes on May 1st. That means that your pitches must be submitted at least a month in advance (more like two) before that May 1st so deadline the reporter has enough time to conduct interviews, fact check any information and submit the story to their editor.

Short Lead
Short lead outlets are daily/weekly newspapers & magazine, blogs, and news websites that do not require pitching that far in advance. Depending on the type of outlet, pitches for short lead publications can usually be done around a month in advance (sometimes even less). However, timing is still important to consider when pitching short lead publications since reporters are most likely on a tighter deadline.

Here is an example of a great timeline for pitching typical long and short lead holiday ideas:

• New Year’s Resolution – long lead pitch in September, short lead pitch up to end of December
• Valentine’s Day – long lead pitch in November, short lead pitch up to mid-February
• Easter – long lead pitch in December, short lead pitch up to April
• Christmas – long lead pitch in August, short lead pitch up to end December

Tailoring your pitches for long and short lead publications is extremely important. You should be sure to do your homework on each outlet to ensure that you get the placement you desire and most importantly, to make sure that you aren’t wasting a reporter’s time. Happy Pitching!

As always, I welcome your comments or questions and if you like what you read be social and share.

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Social Media Bad Habits Brands Need To Abandon

By: Jenifer Wetterau

Social media: when brands do it well, they do it really well. A great recent example is “Alex from Target.” So simple, seemingly effortlessly non self-promotional. Admit it, even if you don’t shop there you were intrigued.

Then again, there are those brands that continuously make mistakes that turn people off, and they don’t realize it. Here are four of my pet peeves that turn me off a brand:

Hashtag Overload
By using hashtags correctly, you can get maximum exposure for your brand’s message and deliver your content to the intended audience. But brands that abuse hashtags are hurting their image and driving customers away. More is not better.

Companies should ask themselves three things before tweeting with hashtags:
-Is it relevant to my post?
For example, using #socialmedia when your tweet is about sports to try to get maximum engagement will result in the opposite. Your customers will be turned off when they see you trying to cheat the system and engagement will decrease.

-Do my tweets exceed two hashtags?
Although studies show that tweets with one or two hashtags see twice the engagement compared to those without, that doesn’t mean you should cram in as many as you can. In fact, that same study showed that tweets with three or more hashtags resulted in a 17 percent drop in engagement. Keep hashtags to a minimum and your brand will not look spammy.

-Will my audience actually search for this hashtag?
You must do your research. Find out what hashtags your customers, and target customers, use with specific topics. Build your community around the hashtag by actively engaging with it consistently. You can’t use it one day and expect the results. You must promote it and promote it well. If you use them correctly, your content is going to get found by those who care about it.

Quantity over Quality
Social media is not a numbers game so don’t treat it that way. It’s essential to give your posts some thought before sending them out. Offer quality content that your customers will appreciate. When planning your updates, think about what you personally like to see in your timeline, and what makes you engage with a brand. I doubt it’s the number of times they tweet in a day! Show that you are value on social media and the followers will come. Everything you do should be strategic, follow best practices, align with your goals and image and provide value for your audience.

It’s All About Me
In terms of customer loyalty, it is important for brands to recognize that sometimes it is better to listen more and talk less. To be liked, you have to be honest, helpful, compassionate, willing to listen, genuinely interested in others and what their needs are and not dominate the conversation. Of course, one of the goals of social media is to promote your business, products, services and overall company brand. But what you should not do is be overly self-promotional, constantly pumping out updates and pushing your products. People don’t browse Twitter or Facebook to be sold to. Bombarding them with products and offers repeatedly will turn them off, and you may lose a few customers. Rather, let the information you share, the expertise you demonstrate and the brand personality you portray do the talking for you. Ask questions and address concerns to give your customers a voice. The more helpful and interesting you are, the more likely people will keep coming back for more.

Asking For Shares or Retweets
You don’t walk up to strangers on the street, yelling “be my friend!” and expect them to give you a hug and invite you to dinner. Why would you do this online? When brands do this I feel that begging makes them look needy and even inauthentic. You want people to engage with your content because they genuinely like it, and think others will to. Along the same line, tagging people to get attention reflects poorly on your brand and will alienate followers.

Now it’s your turn: what social media habits make you log off? As always, I welcome any and all comments and if you like what you read, be social and share.

Meme Mistake

Meme Mistake

Social media can be a great tool for celebrities and brands to engage their fans. We see it all of the time, celebrities do promotions, ask fans questions and do silly things to get people’s attention. However, not all social media posts are created equal or generate desired attention, just ask Bill Cosby.

Last week, Bill Cosby (or his PR team) tweeted a wholesome photo of him from his Twitter account asking his nearly 4 million fans to go to his website and create a meme of him. What started out as a fun-loving, nostalgic post quickly turned into something more. Despite the “tip-of-the-hat” hopes his PR team tried to evoke from his followers, this meme generator turned out to be a BIG mistake. Sure, this tactic may have worked for other celebrities, but due to the recent resurfacing of Cosby’s 2006 rape allegations this did not turn out as they expected.

Almost instantly, Twitter users began using the meme generator to create not-so-nice memes of the Jell-O spokesperson while referencing his sexual assault allegations. Some of posts included quotes such as “”Look at this wacky shirt I’m wearing, also I am a serial rapist” and “”My two favorite things: Jello pudding and rape.” According to the New York Post, “a few hours after the meme generator’s launch, Twitter users realized the word “rape” was being removed. In fact, when the words “rape,” “rapist” and “sex” were typed in, they all cleared out. That didn’t stop critics from having their say, though.” Thousands of memes were generated, most of which had nothing nice to say about “The Cosby Show” star despite the fact that he was never formally convicted of rape.

This whole situation seemed a bit usual from a PR standpoint. As a publicist or a digital strategist, you have to think worst case scenario here and most memes are used in a joking matter, generally make fun of someone or something. It was a little shocking that they didn’t think this one through and did not consider that some people on the internet would turn this into something negative. Also, the fact that they did not immediately remove the tweet and meme generator was surprising. Once negative memes started showing up, I don’t know why they didn’t immediately remove the problem to stop it from getting bigger. This situation was very unusual and I think Cosby’s team will definitely think twice again before trying to use photos to engage Bill’s audience.

Despite the PR nightmare that this turned into, I think we can all take away something from this situation. This meme mistake speaks to the importance of always being prepared to handle a crisis and being conscious what we put on online and how it will affect our brand.

How do you think Bill Cosby’s PR team is going to handle the aftermath of this PR nightmare? Do you think Bill Cosby’s image will ever recover from this scandal?

As always, I welcome your thoughts and if you like what you read be social and share.

Who’s Filling Your Feed?

By Jenifer Wetterau

On Facebook, the News Feed is where you go to catch up on what’s happening with your friends and find the content you are most interested in. What you do in News Feed helps determine what you see in News Feed. You decide who you want to connect to, and what Pages and public figures you want to follow. But, more often than not, I find it clogged with annoying posts from friends and pages that I’m just not interested in. Are you tired of being bombarded by cat videos and “Which Real Housewife Are You” quizzes? Mark Zuckerberg feels our pain and Facebook has come to the rescue with a solution to give users more control over whose content fills their news feed.

We all have that friend who feels the need to tell the world she doesn’t like the weather or had a difficult commute. Instead of unfriending them, you can now elect to see less of their posts.

Before, you could click on the gray chevron in the upper-right corner of a post and choose “unfollow” and “I don’t want to see this.” Now Facebook offers more options, including “see less.”

How it works:
If you see a story you’re not interested in, you click the arrow in the top right of that story to hide it. When you hide a story you’ll have the option to ask to see less from that person or Page.

If you choose to see less, you are then given the option to unfollow them if you don’t want to see any of their stories in your News Feed. You can always visit News Feed settings to see everything you’ve unfollowed and have the option to re-follow them.

Facebook also launched a new settings page devoted to the News Feed. The update will also give users insights into why certain posts appear on their news feed and give them the choice to filter these posts.
Using this page, you can see who you’ve unfollowed in the last week and have the option to re-follow the person or page. You can also analyze which pages and people take up the most space on your News Feed and have the option to unfollow without unfriending them.

So what does this mean for brands? They need to be on point with their content, offering real value to their followers. When brands saw their organic reach on Facebook plummet last year, it was thought to be a result of people tagging their posts as spam. These new controls could have a similar consequence in the event of continuous uninteresting, irrelevant content or blatant product hawking.

According to Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s Product Management Director for News Feed, users can expect the news-feed settings page to include more options and customization in the future. Facebook is considering adding the ability to regulate posts on individual topics, such as science or breaking news. It might also show which posts came from specific types of friends, like “close friends” or members of a specific group.

What do you think of this customization option to “turn down” posts in your News Feed? Do you think many people will take advantage of it?

As always, I welcome any comments and if you like what you read, be social and share.

The Benefits of Infographics

By: Gina Mason

They say a picture is worth a 1000 words and in content marketing, it can be worth thousands of dollars too. Studies have shown that “people process visuals 600,000 times faster than text” and they “retain 80 percent of what they see and only 20 percent of what they read,” according to an article on Regan.com. Also, “the average person reads only 20% of webpage text,” making longwinded blog posts and excessive content on websites go unnoticed. This makes it difficult for many brands to capture people’s attention while communicating their strategic message.

The second part of this dilemma is that our society is on content overload. Nearly, 1.5 billion pieces of content, 140 million tweets and 2 million videos are created daily and we are exposed to an excessive amount of information per day. So how can you make your brand’s message standout in a sea of content? One solution is to create an infographic.

Outside of tantalizing food porn photos or cat memes, infographics are a fantastic tool to build your brand and get your message out there in a fun, attractive and interesting way. For those of you who are unfamiliar with infographics, they “are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly.” Infographics can be used for many things and have a number of branding benefits.

Here are some reasons to consider implementing infographics into your marketing strategy:

• People love new tidbits of information, yet as mentioned above, many people no longer have the attention span to scroll through a website/article/blog post. Infographics can be compelling, attractive and can efficiently and effectively communicate your strategic message in a matter of seconds.
• They create brand awareness by demonstrating your expertise on a certain topic or in a certain industry and also give you an opportunity to showcase your brand.
• They can be easily shared and present viral capabilities with the right information and design.
• They help with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) which is great for expanding your brand to new audiences. According to Social Media Marketing expert Jeff Bullas, “The viral nature of the infographic medium makes people link to your site and Google will index your website higher due to Google’s “Page Rank” algorithm. This increases the importance that search engines pace on your site.”

However, not all infographics are created equal. In order to make sure your infographic gets the attention it deserves, make sure your infographic includes the following elements:

• Make it visually appealing while including unique and interesting content.
• Keep it simple and don’t overwhelm people with text.
• Make it easy to share on multiple platforms (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.).
• Site your sources of research or statistics.
• Most importantly, don’t forget to include the link to your website so people can trace the information back to your company/brand and learn more.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to infographics and with our ever-dwindling attention spans, I believe that they will become even more prevalent as time goes on. Due to the sharing capabilities, I think that it is very smart to invest in infographics in order to promote your brand and reach a much larger audience.

What do you think of infographics? Do you find them to be informative and useful?

As always, if you like what you read be social and share.

Get Amped Up For Exercise

By: Jenifer Wetterau

Does the thought of being disconnected give you chills? Hate dragging around clunky chargers? Do you take better care of your smartphone than you do yourself? Then this may be the gadget for you! Introducing AMPY, a new device that charges your smartphone with your own kinetic energy. Like a hamster spinning in a wheel, this cute little device charges your phone as you move.

AMPY works by storing and repurposing energy generated by motion. You can wear AMPY on any part of your body, but an up and down motion is most effective in maximizing the energy production. How fantastic is this? Clean, renewable energy for your gadgets, and all you have to do is get off the couch and move.

At approximately half the size of an iPhone, weighing about 5 ounces, AMPY is small and portable, fitting easily into your pocket or purse, if you prefer to keep it hidden.

What better way to inspire you to get moving? The more energy you expend the more power you get, so the more vigorous the exercise, the more power juice you will pump into AMY. For example, about 10,000 steps will generate three additional hours of battery life. All you marathon runners will never experience the frustration of dealing with a dead battery again!

How it works: simply pick your favorite activity (running, cycling, dancing, shopping, etc.), strap it on and exercise away to your heart’s content. Once you’re done, just connect your phone to AMPY with a USB cord and it’ll start charging automatically. Brilliant! AMPY is equipped with USBs for output and input, so you can also charge it from a wall outlet, if you prefer. It comes with its own app to tell you how much energy you generated, how many calories you burned, and the carbon footprint offset you got by using AMPY instead of regular electricity.

Although AMPY currently can’t provide enough power for a laptop or tablet, the developers are working toward that goal. Intrigued? Preorder AMPY on Kickstarter at a discounted price ($85) until November 10, 2014. The first batch is expected to ship in June 2015. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1071086547/ampy-power-your-devices-from-your-motion

Do you think this will be successful in getting the more sedentary among us to exercise more?

As always, I welcome all comments and if you like what you said, be social and share.

ROI in PR

By: Gina Mason

Bill Gates once said, “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.” From this statement, it is clear that even “Billionaire Bill” finds great value in public relations and would go as far as investing his very last dollar on the practice. Why? It is because he knows that public relations will show great returns on his investment.

When it comes to return on investment or ROI in public relations, it is hard to precisely quantify the value of it strictly in dollar amounts. Sure, we can measure things such as media impressions, reach, analytics and social media interaction. However, the real value in PR comes from brand building and generating awareness. If you are able to establish those elements than you will be able to double, maybe even triple your investment over a period of time.

There is a common misconception that getting media hits in publications like The New York Times will result in direct dollar for dollar sales. While getting media hits can in fact, result in a large number of sales, there is an intangible value that makes the ROI much greater. As stated above, some of intangible elements that add value are brand awareness, credibility and brand recognition. These elements should not be overlooked because they are all essential for a brand or company’s success even though they are difficult to measure.

So how can you tell if you PR firm is actually building your brand and returning your investment? I recently read a fantastic article in Forbes about ROI and PR and I found that the author, Ilya Pozin brought up some poignant questions that brands and company should consider next time they speak with their PR firms. Instead of trying to crunch numbers, ask the questions below:

“Are You Keeping Your Competition Out of the Media?”
“Every placement you get, every article written about your company, and every positive mention you receive is chipping away at your competition.”

If people are talking about your brand or company that means they are ignoring your competition and that your PR team is doing their job. A great media hit can give you a competitive edge and it is very likely that it will also lead to more sales.

Is Your PR Team Forming Valuable Relationships?
“A great public relations team, however, will build lasting relationships by working as a bridge between your needs and the needs of the media.”

Relationships are everything in public relations and developing mutually beneficial relationships can be incredibly valuable in the long run. In addition, those relationships will not only help you grow your business, but can also assist with establishing credibility.

Is Your Team Building Your Brand?
“Building up a recognizable brand identity is perhaps one of the most essential reasons to utilize public relations professionals.”

Brand building is what public relations is all about and getting your brand out to the correct audience is half the battle. Just remember, that brands aren’t built overnight and take some time to develop in order to be successful. Once your brand is established, you can see some huge returns on your investment.

There is so much more that goes into investing in PR and it can be extremely valuable to a company who is doing great work. Although, it may take some time to see the fruits of your PR strategy, all of the intangible elements that PR can bring to your brand are priceless.

As always, I welcome your comments and if you like that you read be social and share.