The Internet was abuzz after the 2014 Oscars but it wasn’t the award for "Best Picture" that had everyone talking. Instead, it was how host Ellen DeGeneres grabbed a few of her famous friends for a star-studded “selfie” that included Jennifer Lawrence, Angelina Jolie, Bradley Cooper, Kevin Spacey, Jared Leto, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Lupita Nyong’o and Brad Pitt.
Previously, Barack Obama’s election-night photo of him embracing Michelle was the most retweeted tweet of all time with over 778,000 retweets. In under an hour, Ellen’s photo hit over 1.2 million retweets and continued to climb, even hours later, to 2.7 million retweets.
Though initially seen as a victory for Twitter – millions of people propagating a single message using the free microblogging platform – it was later revealed that the act was most likely a conceived stunt for Samsung, a major sponsor of the Oscars. Ellen snapped the now infamous shot with what appeared to be a Samsung Galaxy Note 3, but it was later revealed that Ellen had been tweeting backstage from an iPhone during other parts of the evening.
While social media has become a mainstay in most companies’ integrated marketing platforms, it’s situations like this one that suggest that traditional media isn’t going anywhere. This was not just happenstance, but rather a product of a very large company sponsoring the biggest Hollywood event of the year, and getting its product into the hands of some very famous people. Even if your company or brand doesn’t have a Hollywood budget, there are still plenty of ways that you can integrate social media into your traditional marketing program.
Use social media to promote your traditional media coverage. You might not be seated in Dolby Theater, but if your company spokesperson is booked on a local morning show, join them to live-blog the experience from your social network of choice. You’ll make people who are tuning into your updates from home feel as if they were “there” and they’ll relate to your brand all the better.
Develop an influencer program in your local market. Though Hollywood-gifting opportunities can begin at upwards of $5,000, they don’t always guarantee that your products will fall into the hands of the likes of Ellen DeGeneres. Instead of taking the A-List road, start local and seed product to your local news anchors, television personalities and authors, who may be frequently photographed or filmed when out and about on the town. You’ll create just enough local buzz that the national media might eventually turn an eye.
Develop social network programming around live events. If you want to maximize a live event the way Ellen did, you don’t need several million Twitter followers to do it! Next time your company participates in a live event – be in a trunk show at a local boutique or a chili cook-off at the state fair, come armed with your camera and a device with built-in WiFi. Create a fun contest, giveaway or coordinated chat around the event so that people who can’t attend in person have incentive to participate in home. No, you might not be able to snag Brad Pitt, but you’ll tap into people who might not have known about you if they hadn’t been tuned in online.
Update: Oh yeah, it's confirmed that this selfie was planned by Samsung. What an excellent example of how social media can amplify advertising, PR and other marketing campaigns!
Since October, I have assisted a bankruptcy law firm with both social media and public relations (PR). Before several months ago, bankruptcy wasn’t a topic with which I was personally familiar. As a person who has always been very fortunate to pay my bills and credit cards on time, (so far at least) bankruptcy was foreign to me.
Yet, at that point, I was charged to build the social media from the ground up.
So I sat there and wondered, “How can I make this topic interesting and relevant to people who might not be touched by bankruptcy?”
Here are a couple tips that have helped us along the way:
- Make it Relevant – While bankruptcy (or any topic) may not touch someone personally, they are almost always indirectly affected by it. Our ultimate challenge: Find that meaningful connection! Provide an example of how a subject that initially may seem unrelated or “foreign” is quite relatable and significant. Example: What do Donald Trump, Walt Disney and Henry Ford have in common with Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson? They all filed for bankruptcy.
- Weave in a Story – A story lifts your topic and associates it to something inherently more interesting. Example: "Each year Waterford Crystal designs a fabulous new pattern for the famous Times Square Crystal Ball that drops on New Year’s Eve. The company declared bankruptcy in January of 2009. It’s almost too painfully symbolic. As we put one of the worst economic years on record behind us, we celebrate by lavishing attention on a colorful crystal ball that is produced by a company that fell victim to the recession. We came into the year broke and we should remember that as we exit it, even if they say things are looking up." – Nick Obourn, The Culture Spoke, 12.30.09
- Thread in an Inspiration – Some people are motivated by inspirational thoughts. Example: Bankruptcy is not an end. It is a fresh start. It is the beginning of your next chapter in your life.
- Enlighten with Statistics – There is nothing like a startling statistic to open a reader’s eyes or even just make them feel appreciative of their situation the very day they read the post or tweet. Example: Did you know that one in three of your neighbors are struggling with paying their credit card bills and will most likely file for bankruptcy in the next 24 months?
- Humor – Depending on the sensitivity of the topic, a little levity can go a long way. Consider reserving humorous jokes for Friday and be sure to obtain approval from your client if you’re not certain of their style. Example: It is said that the world is in a state of bankruptcy -- that the world owes the world more than the world can pay.
It can be a challenge to spice up a mundane topic. However, taking time to discover ways to attract readers and encourage conversation will always pay off in a deeper community interaction and increased brand awareness and to getting good PR!
About a month ago I was on a brainstorming call with one of my clients discussing the creation of an event at her New York City hair salon. As we chatted, my husband/wife client mentioned to me that their best friend happens to own a very popular Seattle Seahawks fan bar in NY. The Super Bowl was approaching and the Seahawks would be in the playoffs with a bid at going to the big game and my clients said they would like to do something to support their friend, his team and his business at the same time driving new business and potential media to the salon. “How about a discount for hair service?” the client asked. Sure, who doesn’t love a coupon, however is that going to really grab the attention you are looking for to bring new business to the salon during the Super Bowl craze? Probably not.
I quickly thought…how about super-fan styling? Let’s offer the patrons of the bar and visiting Seahawks fans a custom grouping of super-fan styling services – including Mohawks, colored hair, hairstyles with a lot of fanfare, etc. The clients loved the idea and quickly jumped on board to make it happen.
Sure enough, the fans responded, the Seahawks won the playoffs and we had 12 days to get the word out to fans on the other side of the country who would soon be barnstorming the greater NYC area for Super Bowl 48.
Enter Twitter and Facebook. Ahhh, the power of social media… we quickly logged into the Salon’s social media accounts to start the word of mouth campaign about the Seahawks fans styling, we joined NYCSeahawks fan groups, followed reporters coming into the area and planned visits to the fan bar, Carlow East, to be sure we didn’t miss an opportunity to connect with fans.
Within a few days we heard from CNN, NBC Seattle, NBC Sports, a Denmark reporter and other media outlets. Although I had emailed many pitches, most had found us on Twitter and Facebook and wanted in on the story, why??? They had a visual of what was going on at the salon and they knew that if they came in to check out the fan styling, they would have an amazing visual to share with their audiences. It was fun, a great pre-Super Bowl filler story and a fantastic visual.
We engaged the Seattle fans regularly and in no time we were booking an appointment with two diehard Seahawks fans from Seattle who would be arriving in the city in time for the ‘Blue Friday’ fan day. We booked the super-fan styling appointments, contacted the media and bought the area out of blue and green hair dye. As expected…some of the media couldn’t juggle their schedules to make it across town to the salon, however, much to our excitement, CBS Spokane called Friday morning and headed immediately down to the salon with their crew and joined the reporter from Ekstra Bladet Denmark. NBC Sports came in the afternoon for another story shoot.
The excitement in the salon was surreal. We had been tweeting back and forth with the Seattle fans and boy did they deliver, going for the most outrageous super fan hairstyles and nail and make-up to head out for a fun night on the town. Within a few hours, images of some of these fans were popping up on social media and even caught the eye of an AP photographer, which landed one fan on Yahoo! News, Newsday Print Edition, and many other news outlets.
The main point of this whole post is to show how the excitement would not have come from a simple coupon. We had to think bigger! The client was on board with creating super-fan hairstyles, loved the visual aspect of the story, and within two weeks their goals to attain media attention were happening. My client and I had a fun experience being a part of the Super Bowl excitement and we were thrilled when the Seahawks won too! (I know my Denver friends don’t approve – we are a Denver-based PR agency!).
Remember to dream big. If you have an idea, push yourself to take it to the next level. With risk, comes reward! With great visuals and the power of social media, you, too, can achieve your desired PR outcomes.
Photos: Bryan Sargent
With the Olympics upon us, all eyes are glued to the coverage of gold, silver and bronze medals. But the Olympics can teach us much more than how to get halfpipe air or stick that axel jump on the ice. Behind every athlete, every opening and closing ceremonial detail, to news coverage, there are aspects you can take to get PR gold and stand on the podium in front of the world.
As we’ve learned from Sochi mishaps, whether it is hotel rooms that aren’t complete and open manholes in the street, to water that you use at your own risk. It’s always best to be prepared. Take that to heart when it comes to publicity. Always have fact sheets on hand and talking points down pat. When a journalist asks a question, you are always ready for anything.
A Story for All
No matter who you are or what you do, you have a story to share. Something you may not think is necessarily newsworthy might actually go a long ways in the world of media. All athletes have fascinating stories whether it’s overcoming failure, losses, injuries or abuse. The public finds their determination incredibly inspiring. So dig deep and share your personal story.
It has been circulating that US snowboarders have been complaining about the halfpipe, and skiers have blamed their performances on Mother Nature at Sochi. So, with that said, it’s crucial to put your best foot forward. Not only will you make a great impression, it will leave a lasting impression. Remember the bobsled team from Jamaica? Exactly. They may not have medaled, but their perseverance allowed them to become an Olympics novelty. So much so, that the movie Cool Runnings was based off of this team.
The Olympics are all about competition, and so is business. Keep an eye on your competitors. This will give you an idea of what has worked for them to generate new business and get stellar media placements. Set up a Google Alert and constantly stay in the know of what your competition is up to. This will ensure you get the competitive edge.
There are those who get sick at the thought of public speaking and then there are those of us who get a rush out of it. Call us strange if you must, but the power to use your voice for the greater good is a remarkable thing and it can lead to a profitable future as well.
But first things first. What will you speak about? Why would people want to come and listen to you? Just because you enjoy public speaking, doesn't necessarily mean you should BE a professional speaker.
Here are a few tips to help you decide if you're ready to pursue the world of professional speaking:
- What's your message?
- Will you focus on business or advocate for a social cause?
- Do you have life or professional experiences that others will want to hear about & be inspired by?
- Can you keep a room's attention for 30 mins? An hour? Longer?
Once you've decided to jump in, the work has just begun. Now you must:
- Create your speeches and presentations.
- Write a Professional Bio.
- Create a Speaker's Kit.
And now that you have everything ready to present, you must market yourself and find your audience. This includes:
- Media pitches and interviews to establish your presence as an expert in your field.
- Submissions to organizations, conferences, businesses and events looking for speakers.
- Negotiating speaking fees.
- Reviewing and signing contracts.
- Updating your website and social media sites regularly and building your audience.
Sound like a lot of work? It is and not every speaker has the time or is experienced in the marketing, PR and writing aspect of building their brand. The great news is that those of us at Red Jeweled Media are experienced in this and can assist you every step of the way. Once you make the decision to pursue speaking and know what your message will be, we can take care of the rest!
Recently a client asked me how he could better merchandise all of the great press we were getting his business. He had noticed that whenever his product was featured in the media, his social networks would blow up for a few days, and then the dust would settle leaving him wondering, “What do I do next?”
The first thing to do before planning the best way to merchandise your brand’s media coverage is to determine, “What do I want to accomplish with my press coverage?” As my friend and PR colleague Linda once said, “buzz” will always come and go – it isn’t sustainable, or it wouldn't be called "buzz!" But, the lasting value in press coverage really comes from the third-party endorsement you get, how you capture and share the moment to build your brand.
Buzz is fleeting, but building on that, the awareness and reputation last. The goal is not ultimately buzz, but it's the opportunity the buzz opens. If a brand scores 2-3 great big hits per quarter ("big" will depend what your goals are of course) then it’s easy to determine ways to merchandise it that aligns with the marketing goals you have set.
Tout on social media.
You may already be using social media, but did you know that the shelf life of a tweet is about 12 minutes? All of your social media followers aren’t reading every post you do. Recycle your publicity as much as possible by blogging and posting hits to social media, reposting them, pulling out quotes from the press and thinking of creative ways that to feature press hits on social networks. Look beyond Facebook and Twitter, too: share everything on Google+ as well as a company page on LinkedIn.
Merchandise press hits for sales.
For print hits, make copies of them and for digital hits, create beautiful mock-ups that your sales team can use to showcase to retailers that a) carrying your brand will generate buzz for them and b) that your product is worthy enough to be endorsed by established media.
Create "as seen in" badges.
To keep your press coverage on your customers’ radar, create a small badge that touts each (of the best) media outlets you've been featured in. You can have these on homepage slider, in your footer, or in a side bar so that people who don't go to your press page will still see the hits. You could also put the badges directly on the specific product featured so that if a customer sees it, they will know where to look.
Showcase press in your company newsletter.
Include links to press or press clippings in your e-newsletters. Repurpose the "as seen in" column that you create on your website and make it a recurring series in your email communications. You could also add callouts like if a reporter says, "This was the BEST product I’ve ever seen!" it will draw attention to the positive coverage and make more people want to see for themselves!
Tugging at a reader’s emotional heartstrings is a great way to get your PR story heard and serve up your personal or brand’s message points, albeit in a more covert way. If you look a little closer at today’s successful and memorable media campaigns, you might first recall some of the more powerful emotions.
The simple fact is, viral social media campaigns always contain several key ingredients - including at least one powerful emotion – which serves to sway people to press the “share” button every time.
If you want to harness the power of human emotion as part of your social media campaign, below are some crucial emotions to consider:
Joy – A powerful driver of social sharing activity, joy is an emotion that binds us together. Whether joy is expressed by dancing in a field at a summer concert or the warm embrace of a soldier coming home after serving time overseas, joy is a pleasure to behold and a universal emotional trigger.
Anger – As joy’s ugly stepsister, anger is an emotion that gets our blood boiling and one we express on social media, especially if we have personally experienced an injustice. Receiving a hefty parking ticket before the meter actually ran out, discovering a flat tire in a rainstorm while realizing your cell phone is dead or being blamed for an act that you didn’t commit are situational examples that produce anger.
Pride - Within the context of social capital, i.e., the networks of relationships among people in a society, pride is a more ‘under the radar’ emotion. Today, pride is ubiquitous; it underlies every selfie that surfaces on social platforms. People share something (picture, post, video, link, news clip) that make them look good in front of others, engendering a sense of pride. The proud feeling of belonging within a group and giving back to the group is a universal but underlying emotion that is expressed all over social media.
Fear – Another “under the cuff emotion” – fear of being left behind, fear missing an opportunity and the regret that inevitably follows. This familiar emotion is best summarized in, “Keeping up with the Joneses.” If there is a party – in any sense of the word – even if we chose to turn the opportunity down – we still wanted to the invitation.
Need to Belong – We constantly look to other people for hints about appropriate and non-appropriate behaviors within society. Scientists explain this attachment helps us survive and thrive within the evolutionary process. For example, when people share their intimate secrets, we also feel compelled to share our secrets. See Elizabeth Vargas’s new revelation about her alcoholism – just recently expressed via social media.
Overall, powerful emotion underlies a successful social media campaign because it creates a strong bond between the viewer/listener and the storyteller. Try sprinkling some powerful emotion within your next social media campaign and see how it helps spread your message. Contact me to discuss how Red Jeweled Media can help you stir up emotion using PR and social media campaigns.
A successful PR campaign is a partnership, with both parties working together to get optimum publicity for a product, individual, cause or business. Follow these 10 easy steps to make the most of your partnership with your PR firm:
1. Return calls and emails within 24 hours - Even if you’re just responding to say that you’ll get back to them at a later date and time, always return the initial call or email within 24 hours. You don’t want to miss the opportunity of a lifetime because you thought, “I’ll get back to them when I have more time.”
2. Send requested items and info within 24-48 hours - Oftentimes your publicist will need some information or items to complete a pitch or project they’re working on. Help them out by getting this to them as quickly as possible or let them know when they can expect it and then stick to that date.
3. Understand that PR is a process and takes time - This is one of the most crucial aspects to a fruitful relationship. Success most likely won’t happen overnight so remember that slow and steady wins the race. It will happen, just give it time.
4. Be active on your social media pages - Who better to send fans, followers and likes to your page than you? Make sure that in addition to your firm promoting your pages and building your following, that you are also sending your own family, friends and colleagues there as well. Don’t just stop there, interact with followers on your page and encourage your colleagues to do the same.
5. Keep your firm up to date - Make sure that you share new events, awards, hot topics, promotions and specials with your firm so that they can leverage it within their PR efforts.
6. Take their advice - Your PR firm has your best interests at heart. You might not always understand their reasoning for doing something or you might not see what they see in an opportunity, but trust them. You’re paying them to do a job so that you have the time to focus on yours so try to do just that.
7. Be on time - Whether it’s a meeting, interview, phone call, etc… always be on time. And keep in mind that being on time generally means being 15 minutes early.
8. Notify them of conflicts - If you have a scheduling conflict come up, notify your firm or publicist immediately so that it can be addressed and rescheduled.
9. Don’t be afraid to share your suggestions - Yes, your PR agency is the professional when it comes to gaining publicity and pitching your product or service, but don’t be afraid to share your own ideas as well. By brainstorming together, you just might come up with some truly “out of the box” ideas that will give you a competitive edge to get both the media and public’s attention.
10. Always remember that communication is key - If both parties keep the lines of communication open and treat each other with a mutual respect, the possibilities are endless!
The list could go on and on but by following these 10 simple steps, you can help ensure that your PR firm is in the best position possible to help you. Have you already been doing many of these things? Now you can either pat yourself on the back for a job well done, or take a minute to reach out to your firm and start fresh by putting these steps into place.
Submitting a Letter to the Editor is a great way to get your voice heard and publicity for your business. Take a close look at your local newspaper’s Opinion pages – see all the wonderful voices being heard there? They’re not all famous people, they’re everyday people with a unique opinion on everyday topics.
If you want to get a published Letter to the Editor as part of your PR strategy, follow these tips:
Find Your Topic – Newspapers are reporting the “news” so you must make sure your Letter to the Editor is about a newsworthy, timely topic that is of course somewhat related to your business. Do you own a recycling company and this year is an election year? Maybe you have an opinion on how much waste election propaganda creates? Do you own a fitness company and have a unique spin on why people shouldn’t make New Year’s Resolutions? Write a letter in December or early January that offers your unique insights on this topic.
Add a Twist – If you submit a letter that only flaunts your company, it probably won’t get published. Be sure to add a plot twist, something unexpected, or an unconventional viewpoint. Your Letter to the Editor will more likely be accepted if you offer a fresh perspective on a topic of public interest than if you use it as a means of self-promotion.
Send It to the Editor – OK, you have a Letter to the Editor that you want published, now what? You’ll want to send it to the Opinion’s Editor – his or her contact information is usually published in the Opinions or Editorial section of the newspaper or you can get it by calling a newspaper’s main line. Your PR agency should have access to it through their media databases too.
Short and Sweet – You only have so many paragraphs to make a statement, so make every word count and never rant and ramble! Make sure everything you say is concise and to the point. Both editors and readers will appreciate this.
Read the Fine Print – Most Opinion sections have specific requirements on what a Letter to the Editor should include. Some may require a photo of the writer, direct contact information (phone number/email address), and/or a word limit. Always investigate before submitting your Letter to the Editor to ensure it doesn’t get rejected due to something you missed in the fine print.
Overall, submitting a Letter to the Editor can be a great way to get some press in a newspaper of interest to you and your customer base. Don’t be shy – go ahead and write a compelling Letter to the Editor and get your voice heard!
Taking your product or service on a blog tour is an excellent way to secure PR for your budding business. A blog tour is where you or your PR agency introduces your product to a variety of hand-picked blogs that everyone believes would be open to covering or reviewing a specific product or brand.
I love blog tours for two reasons:
First, blog tours are a great way to stir-up PR for your product. Bloggers are generally open to learning about new products and services, and many of them work very hard to curate product recommendations for their growing community of readers. Second, I love blog tours because they work! Traditional PR is hard to come by these days. In the baby industry alone, we lost two great baby magazines, babytalk and Parenting, in 2013. Poof, they're gone! With the traditional media window slowly closing, getting online and blogger press is often a better use of a company's limited PR resources and nets articles that remain forever online.
If you decide a blog tour is in your PR plan for 2014, here are some best practices to planning a kick-butt blogger campaign:
Decide on a Topic: Give your blog campaign a theme or topic. When we took Drazil Kids Tea on a tour of parenting blogs in Northern California, we asked them to take Drazil for an end-of-summer adventure and write about it. This inspired our invited bloggers to think about ways to incorporate Drazil into their summer outings.
Handpick Bloggers: Only invite a select number of bloggers to participate in the campaign. Being selective will make the bloggers understand that you're not spamming anyone, but truly seeking influencers like them who you believe are a good fit for this campaign. Further, it's important that you do your research, selecting bloggers based on the content quality, content fit, traffic and website rankings, as well as social media activity. You want well-rounded bloggers who have taken the time to build a good audience, who only post quality content, and who are active on social media.
Compensate: It's okay to compensate bloggers and you'll get the most response if you do. In our 2013 Parenting Blogger Survey, we found that bloggers think of themselves more as marketers than journalists. They want to be brand advocates for products and companies they believe in and that they personally enjoy too. Compensation can come in many forms and is dependent on the product's value you're sending them, the blogger's rates (which is usually based on their audience figures), the cache of working with your brand, and their compensation policies. Just make sure any blogger you compensate, whether it's in the form of product or money, is disclosed prominently in their blog post.
Get Social: Let your fans know you invited these bloggers on your blog tour. The bloggers you invited will notice the attention they're getting on social media and will feel this is a positive experience for them from the get-go. Also be sure to share their published posts with your fans, giving them bonus exposure too.
Include Call to Actions: Some bloggers are open to doing a giveaway or contest with their fans as part of the blog tour. This is something you can discuss with each blogger and figure out on a case-by-case basis. I often ask the bloggers to use the Rafflecopter app to host any giveaways so they have to require their fans to like my client's Facebook fan page in order to enter. It's a great way for us to earn new fans who might eventually become customers.
Be Weary of Contests: Remember, bloggers don't like gimmicks. Never invite them to a blog tour for a chance to win your product. That is silly and demeaning. If you to add a contest component to your blogger campaign, make it interesting. For a blog tour we did with Kid Pointz, we were searching for The Next Kid Pointz blogger - a paid position at the company. The winner would be selected from all the entrants we invited to participate and they would also receive a compensated trip to a blogger conference of choice. This was an exciting campaign that the bloggers we worked with could feel good about participating in. Read our Kid Pointz case study here.
Follow Through: The bloggers you contract with for your blog tour are your colleagues. Thank them, pay them promptly, and invite them to keep in touch with you. They will likely be interested in future product launches if they enjoyed this experience.
If you're looking for a unique and thoughtful way to get PR in the New Year, consider doing a blog tour. Please contact us to discuss your blog tour idea for 2014 and let's get started!
Read more about our mom blogger campaign services.