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As more news and information is shared about the Coronavirus pandemic, the public is bombarded with messages and the volume of noise increases. Yes, these are uncertain times and communication can either help or it can be confusing. You have to choose wisely how you communicate and interact with the people and the communities around you.
At the same time, the way you’ve operated and shared information in the past, whether it was a month ago or even last week, will be different than how you’ll approach your communications today. In the spirit of helping, giving and FEELing for others, I’ve decided to do something a little different myself.
I’m launching what I call a “555” Series to offer complimentary FEEL consulting to 5 businesses, uplift 5 giving professionals by sharing their resources and provide 5 tips for communicating during times that require leadership focused on Emotional Intelligence (EI). I’ve mentioned in my video that the first 5 businesses or professionals who contact me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), will receive a complimentary consulting session to assess how much they FEEL First in their communication with important constituents.
You can check out my video for the full 555 on helping businesses, amplifying the voices of colleagues with giving resources and to learn some simple tips to communicate wearing your EI hat.
It’s official … the FEEL First Test is online and ready for you to evaluate how much you FEEL (face Fears, engage with Empathy, use Ethics and good judgment and unleash your Love) in your communication.
I’ve been asked, “Why the launch of the FEEL Model and the FEEL First Test and what will you learn from the data?” The answer is simple … to help business professionals understand the major components that build trust in communication and to move from connections and simple transactions to genuine and meaningful relationships. The data we collect from the survey participants will give us an indication of FEEL by age, generation, and profession.
This test came from a year’s worth of research with millennials. After about 52 weeks and 55+ formal and informal one-on-one interviews, the millennials who participated in my passion project answered pointed questions about their communication; how they wanted to show up, be perceived and what they expected and preferred via different channels from the people around them, especially the Leaders* in their lives.
The FEEL Test scores you on each part of FEEL and lets you know how much you FEEL in your communication (from beginner to FEEL Mastery). From my work and what I’ve uncovered from this passion project is, if you don’t FEEL first, then how do you tap into how someone else feels to build an unbreakable bond?
Along with social media intelligence gathering and analyzing conversations, the FEEL model is an approach that applies all parts of FEEL across communication channels to build genuine and meaningful relationships.
Take a look at the video which offers more details and please take the FEEL First Test. We’ll be gathering and sharing data in this ongoing project that launched after my Millennial stepdaughter, Noelle, passed away last September. It was Noelle who put me on the road to FEEL. I want to share what I’ve learned with you so you can FEEL First to improve your relationships moving forward.
*Leaders were defined as supervisors, managers and/or executives at their companies, business leaders at their favorite brands or brands they followed, and political and religious leaders.
A Guest Post By Brittani Riddle, Graduate Student, American University & PR Expanded Blog Contest Winner
By now I’m sure you’ve seen the hit series This Is Us, the one-hour drama known for its heartfelt storylines, family-friendly themes, and of course, “The Big 3” Kate, Kevin, and Randall. (And I promise, there will be no Season 4 spoilers in this post!) The show has become a pop-culture juggernaut since its debut in 2016, winning the hearts of both Hollywood and millions of viewers. When the Pearson family isn’t making us laugh and cry weekly, they can teach us a few lessons on polishing up our podcasting skills. Whether you’re a podcast novice or more adept, here are a few tips on how the Pearson clan can help you perfect your podcast.
Start with Solid Foundation.
We wouldn’t have the “Big Three” without our beloved fictional lovebirds, Jack and Rebecca Pearson. Their origin story lays the foundation of what makes This Is Us a fan favorite. Their relationship sets the tone and reminds us to begin with a quality substance. For podcasting, the quality substance begins with good audio. If you aren’t able to record in a traditional studio, record in a quiet and soundproof location. Always use headphones when recording, to make sure there’s no background noise and that your audio levels are even and not distorted. This Forbes article is one of my favorites and offers excellent technical tips for podcasters. If you want to add creative sonic elements to your audio, try some of these free sound effects.
Sell the Star Power.
Kevin, the oldest of The Big Three and the actor of the family, brings the star power. Much like Kevin, the hosts are the stars of your podcast. And the same way Kevin studies his lines for television and film on the show, your hosts must know their material! If you host your own or are a podcast producer for a third party, make sure all hosts have the tools needed to shine! No matter the subject, you want your podcast to inform and entertain your listeners with catchy and engaging topics to keep them wanting more. Prepare for your show by watching and reading the news, listening to new music, attending events, or any activity that will be relatable to both your topic and listeners. There’s nothing worse than a host that doesn’t sound aware or sure of their content.
Stay On Task.
Kate, our favorite middle sister, is a task-oriented member of the family. Like Kate, setting a weekly list of tasks will keep your podcast on track. Before re-launching her music career, Kate worked as a personal assistant to both Kevin and other high profile clients. This part of Kate’s journey teaches us to dot all of I’s and cross all of our T’s. Make sure to maintain a consistent recording, editing, and posting schedule for all of your episodes. Have special guests joined you for the show? Be sure to follow up with them on when the episode will be available to listeners. Mention any reference materials such as books or albums while discussing the topic? Provide an accurate description of each resource in the show notes, so it’s readily available for listeners. You’ll make Kate proud, trust me.
Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks.
Randall, the adopted member of the Big Three, has grown quite a bit since Season 1. We’ve seen Randall go through a number of changes, from quitting his job to becoming a City Councilman in a new city. Randall’s’ gumption teaches us to take risks, and we must have the same attitude with our podcasts. Are you thinking of launching a new segment? Introduce it on one episode and ask listeners for feedback to gauge if they enjoyed it. Want to add a video component to your show? Record a few snippets of the show on your phone and post it to your social media or website. If it works and viewers respond well, expand to full recordings so listeners can have a new visual component to enjoy.
Have a Supportive Cast.
Our beloved Pearson family wouldn’t be able to thrive without some of their biggest supporters: Beth, Toby, and Miguel, to name a few. Much like the supporting stars of our favorite show, it’s important to have people around who will support your podcast. Your supporters can provide constructive feedback to keep your podcast fresh and exciting. A supporting cast can also provide additional exposure. Supporters can help by sharing episodes on their social media to amplify your show to their followers or write positive reviews on podcast subscribing sites. These word of mouth efforts can help you reach a wider audience. It’s always a plus to gain new subscribers!
Now that we’ve examined how an Emmy award-winning series can help us with podcasting, I hope you find the connection between the characters and concepts helpful while working on your podcasts. If you have any other Pearson Podcast connections, be sure to connect with me on social media so we can compare notes! One final tip, avoid all This Is Us spoilers by catching up on episodes here.
Brittani Riddle is a Washington D.C. based communications professional and first-year graduate student at American University. A lover of communication, books, music, and pop culture, Brittani always looks for creative methods to intersect all of her passions to create dynamic and innovative messaging and communication in various fields.
Social media continues to capture time and attention. Here are some of the stats revealing how much people participate in social media; where they spend their time; what they like to do and how often.
- There are approximately 6,000 tweets shared every second on Twitter. If you were to break the numbers down, there would be about 350,000 tweets sent per minute and approximately 500 million tweets per day. Can you imagine? That’s about 200 billion tweets per year, according to Internet Live Stats.
- In November of 2018, the Hootsuite Blog stated that over 200 million people participated in Facebook Groups and there were about 150 million people who took advantage of Facebook Stories.
- In August of 2018, 99 Firms reported that Instagram supports approximately 100 million images and videos each day.
- According to MerchDope, in June of 2019, there were approximately 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute.
The social media numbers continue to grow. At the same time, people are still watching network and cable television, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. They’re listening to the radio and tuning into podcasts. They’re also reading online publications, blogs and curating stories through news apps.
With all of the media available at your fingertips, if you wanted to get the attention of your customers and constituents, how would you show up and what would you share?
Let’s take a closer look at Millennials. They’re a growing population capturing approximately 50% of the U.S. workforce by 2020. With tremendous purchasing power, they are highly sought as a group when it comes to attracting and keeping their social media attention. But, what does this take?
I’ve been speaking with Millennials for the last six months, conducting one-on-one interviews as a part of my FEEL First before you communicate, Millennial passion project. Here’s what Millennial respondents told me about how business professionals and their “Leaders*” should communicate to get their attention.
- Take a stand on the issue; if there’s something happening in the world or a particular country, let me know how you feel.
- Advocate for something and show me you think beyond canned messages.
- Have more passion for the cause; leaders should always have a voice and right now it doesn’t feel authentic or connected.
- Watch out for the negative and outrageous; it gets more attention but it’s not positive or helpful.
- Understand me and my realm; be relatable to my world and what I experience on a daily basis.
- Give your unique take on something; whether you’re my supervisors or a public figure from one of the brands I like.
- Use images that evoke memories and emotions and that show they understand who I am; through this understanding, you can present powerful words and photos.
- Share personal community stories; go into the communities and get to know the social activists and well-known people who can create change.
- Listen first … really listen; it’s hard to determine if leaders actually listen because retweeting is a form of listening but it appears everyone is just trying to get their content out and this is noise.
- Communicate without remorse, and with a lot of bias and without supporting evidence; you’ll get attention but not my approval or loyalty.
- Harness a particular social media platform whether you’re strong at Instagram, Twitter or Facebook Live.
- Move to action related to your mission, so it’s not just the words on social media.
- Take the unpopular belief that’s relevant; sticky popular messages are not held by the majority of the people.
- Show empathy and be vulnerable; if I see someone sharing struggles or tough points in their career this gets my attention.
- Share videos with subtitles, which can be powerful and long posts have meaning too.
- Give the behind the scenes and things I would not see anywhere else.
- Try humor, which gets my attention, especially if you’re not someone who is necessarily humorous.
- Use a writing style that’s personal or journal-style writing.
- Catch my attention by using colors and imagery that’s fun; it gives me a feeling of happiness.
- Do an interview, on a media outlet that’s informative or interesting, such as Bloomberg and CNBC.
- Respond to people; no one ever expects the CEO of T-Mobile to respond.
What are you doing to capture and retain attention with the people that mean the most to you?
*The term “Leaders” was defined in the one-on-one interviews as professionals at the respondents’ companies, business professionals speaking on behalf of the companies and the brands they follow or care about, or their political and religious leaders.
In October 2018, I set out on a research journey to learn more about Millennial communication. I wanted to understand where they liked to express themselves and how they wanted to be recognized on social media. I also started to uncover the types of interactions Millennials expected from their “Leaders.” For the purposes of my one-on-one interviews, “Leaders” were defined as their own company leaders, business executives from familiar brands, or from the brands and the causes they cared about, and political leaders too.
One question was easy to analyze and the results didn’t surprise me. I asked 25 Millennials what advice they would give to leaders on social media. After analyzing their answers and using a tool to create a word cloud, certain words carried more weight and meaning. These included: TRY, UNDERSTAND, SOCIAL, MEDIA, NEED, CARE, GIVE, PEOPLE, RESPOND, MESSAGE, INTERACTIVE AND EMOTION. You can see the word cloud below.
Diving further into the interviews, the quotes from the Millennials answering this question were just as interesting. Here are a few of my favorite quotes offering advice to their leaders:
- Be relatable and much more interactive with us.
- If someone tweets to you, the least you could do is respond.
- Be clear and concise; our generation is overloaded with far too much information.
- The message doesn’t have to be perfect; this will make you more relatable and approachable.
- Show you care about the people behind your organization and brand.
- Operate your own social media, don’t let someone else; it seems a little shady.
- Take the time to understand us or your audience in general.
- Take the time to know us, especially on social media.
- You need to learn how to communicate through social media.
Millennials are asking for leaders to be more human and genuine and to show up with the emotional intelligence when they answer questions or interact with them. The smartest leaders will take this information and work on how they communicate through social media. One way to close the gap between what Millennials expect and how their leaders currently communicate is to FEEL first. What does this mean?
Face Fears – making you more open to different perspectives and not share knee jerk communication
Engage with Empathy – Don’t just listen but listen actively and ask questions, understand people so they know you care. Think less about your messages and how you can help them.
Use your Ethics (and good judgment) – Always being accurate, truthful and fair in your interactions. It also means showing up as your authentic self.
Unleash the Love – If you don’t show your passion, energy, and enthusiasm then why would anyone want to join your cause.
Here’s a video discussing the research and a new FEEL First Test (a web app) which is coming soon.
A Guest Post by Amanda Levenson, UMASS at Amherst Student, PR Expanded Infographic Contest Winner
For the PR Expanded Infographic contest, I chose to offer insight on how to build and preserve successful relationships with reporters. I selected this topic because I am a Journalism major with five internships under my belt. Media relations interests me because of the relationships I have personally had with public relations professionals. I was intrigued as I sat in class and learned about what happens on the other side of these interactions. I had never stopped to think about the objectives and intentions on a public relations specialist’s end. It also made me look deeper at my experiences working with PR professionals and how my relationships with them varied. Some people became my go-to resources because I knew I could depend on them to answer quickly and with helpful, relevant information. Others became notorious to me as slow-to-respond, unfriendly, or too pushy. These people became the sources I tended to avoid. When the time came to start my infographic, I felt it would be fitting to educate PR pro’s about how to make their communications with the media positive.
The target audience for my infographic is PR pro’s who specialize in media relations and trying to win earned media for their client. I wanted to communicate best practices for these interactions, so that my audience can learn to create mutually beneficial relationships between themselves and the journalists they work with. The purpose of the infographic is to help PR practitioners understand how to build meaningful relationships with journalists and make the most out of their time and effort. I hope to educate people on how to leave a positive lasting impression on reporters and how to be useful to these journalists.
I went about selecting tips by prioritizing points that Deirdre Breakenridge emphasized in Answers for Modern Communicators, and also aligned with tips Professor Jennie Donohue focused on in class and things that have mattered to me during my internships. I took notes as I read the book and made a list of the advice for working with reporters. I proceeded by looking over the list, combining points that related to one another, and deciding which held the most weight. By compiling information from the reading, in-class lessons, and personal experience, I was able to create a useful infographic.
My Infographic connects back to class content because we have discussed media relations at-length and what practices are best when planning and executing these interactions. We have discussed how media relations must be strategic because it means seeking a third-party endorsement, or uncontrolled media. When working with the media, there really are no guarantees, and public relations professionals must know the potential benefits and consequences of that. Whether it is a newspaper, magazine, television channel, online publication, etc., earned media continues to be the most credible way to create awareness, and so public relations practitioners must understand how to work well with journalists. They need to know how to develop, maintain and improve relationships with reporters, and I strived to deliver comprehensive advice on how to do this with my infographic.
Amanda Levenson is a senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst pursuing a BA in Journalism and a minor in Political Science. Amanda can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter at @Amanda_Levenson.
A Guest Post by Sean O’Neal, President, Onclusive
We have all observed the dramatic trends in the world of publishing. Compared to ten years ago there is now a seemingly infinite number of blogs, influencers, and niche content sites. And there are thousands of new publications appearing every single day. The proliferation of independent, digital-first media properties has occurred so rapidly that it has become virtually impossible to keep up with, and just as hard to discern between reputable news sources and everything else.
There are obvious benefits to consumers in having access to real-time information from a broad set of perspectives. Digital media has given us an alternative to the bias of media monopolies, not the least of which is corporate and political influence. But democracy comes at a cost, and this “democratization” of the media is no exception. We all want more choice. The challenge is when the choices are endless.
Now, if you are in the business of influencing the media (like my friends who work in PR), this fragmentation of the media landscape has introduced an entirely new level of complexity to your job.
While media relations has always required a great deal of skill, hard work, and luck, in many ways it was pretty simple. I have a set of target media outlets, probably a combination of tier one national outlets and industry trade publications, and there were a few key journalists at each publication who I maintained relationships with. When the time came to get my story out, I hit speed-dial to get one of these journalists on the phone and gave them the pitch. I got a “hit” in a recognized news outlet and my job was done.
Today, it’s not that simple. Now, instead of hitting speed-dial, I need to comb through and endless sea of media outlets and authors to find the ones who are best to help me tell my story. And how can I know which publications can actually help drive real business results?
To get at this, my company Onclusive analyzed over 1.6 billion pieces of content published globally during the calendar year of 2018. All of the content was captured directly from Onclusive’s proprietary newscrawaler, which is the largest aggregator of communications content in the world.
The results were eye opening.
The media ecosystem is expanding at a much more accelerated rate than anyone expected. But it’s not just growing, the shape of the of the landscape is changing and has grown a “long tail” of lower-tier media outlets.
We compiled this data and published as the 2018 Global Media Report. The report shows:
- An increase in the total number of publishers from January to December, almost exclusively driven by new “tier 3” publications
- An increase in the number of articles published by month, driven by “tier 3” publications while “tier 1” and “tier 2” publications decreased overall article volume
- An increase in the number of articles per journalist, with a corresponding decrease in the average number of characters per article
The length of an article matters more than you might think. One of the key performance indicators of digital content is how well it ranks in search engines like Google, since a large portion of publisher web traffic comes through these portals. And while no one knows exactly how Google’s search algorithms are tuned, and since the tuning changes frequently, the best we can do is look at testing data. A recent study from Backlink.io shows a direct correlation between the length of an article and its appearance on the first page of Google’s search results – the ultimate destination for any piece of content.
Generally, the longer the article, the better the rank in Google. Specifically, the average word count of a Google first page result is 1,890 words. Journalists take note.
We also analyzed and ranked every media outlet globally in order of article count. The 2018 Top 50 Publishers List, which is contained in our report, highlights a massive shift in the media outlets which are producing the most content. For example, digital disruptors like LinkedIn Pulse, Patch, and LiveDoor all share the list with mainstream publications like BBC, New York Times, and The San Francisco Chronicle.
Okay, so things have changed. What is a media relations professional to do with all this?
First, be prepared for anything. Don’t assume that the things that have worked in the past will work in the future. To paraphrase Rumi; don’t resist the change, it may present a great opportunity.
Second, get data. The only way to sift through everything that is happening is with hard data about what actually works versus what is just a waste of time. Don’t just keep pitching the same journalists at the same publications over and over again without knowing the true impact of those placements. Compare your existing strategies with other, less obvious media outlets. It is quite possible that these “lower tier” placements will drive the most reader engagement and influence.
The fragmentation of media and journalism that we are witnessing will likely only continue. Basic earned media monitoring techniques are becoming obsolete, and traditional journalist contact databases are capturing less and less of the true population of influencers that really matter.
Ironically, while technology is to blame for all of this, it will also be our savior as this may be as much of a math problem as anything else. But you don’t need to be a data scientist to survive in the new PR world – that is why we have artificial intelligence. The machines can now take over what has become an otherwise insurmountable tasks of reading, analyzing, and scoring billions of pieces of content every year, so that us humans can focus on storytelling.
After all, every other aspect of business takes advantage of data and technology to more effectively manage change. Now it’s time for communications to adapt.
Sean O’Neal is President at Onclusive, the data science company for marketing and communications. Onclusive technology reveals which earned media drives actual business outcomes and delivers winning content to targeted audiences at scale.