Does the brand align with my ethics and values?
Does the culture of the organization match my company culture and what I look for in a group of professionals?
Would I be proud to promote and share on behalf of this brand, because I believe in the vision and mission?
Am I learning and growing as a result of the partnership, initiative, collaboration, joint venture, or the reason that brings our brands together?
- Competitive Intelligence
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- Organizational Behavior
- PR 2.0
- PR 2.0 Technology
- PR Job Search
- PR Practice
- Public Relations
- Resume Writing
- Social Good
- Social media
- Social Media Planning
- Social Media Policy
- Strategic Communications
A recent Yale study published in the journal Neuron suggested that being in unstable and unknown situations, regardless of how uncomfortable they may feel, is a critical condition for our brains to grow and learn. Stability, on the other hand, stalls growth. The feeling of dealing with unpredictable changes can probably resonate with many public relations professionals, as the field is constantly changing.
However, as PR professionals, educators, and students, we probably know that it is much easier to talk about change than actually coping with it and being in the unknown for an extended period of time. Change is hard and change is uncomfortable.
Fortunately, social media and technology, when implemented strategically, can serve as effective channels to navigate change and leverage it to help one become more original and creative, which are desirable characteristics of PR professionals.
Within this context, the #PRStudChat community, which is sponsored by Spin Sucks, will gather on Thursday, Nov 15th, at 12 P.M., ET, to discuss change and social media.
Our special guest leading the discussion will be Dr. Ai Addyson-Zhang, who is a college professor of Public Relations and an independent Digital Learning & Storytelling Consultant.
Ai has been teaching Public Relations and Communication courses at the university level for a decade. Last year, Ai embarked on a self-reinvention journey as her family relocated from Philadelphia, United States, to Seoul, South Korea. This geographic location has also triggered a series of career changes such as launching a consulting practice, a weekly Facebook live show, and a blogging site. Recently, Ai has become a contributor to Entrepreneur and her first article just got published. Ai has also been featured in Forbes and Inside Higher Education, and is a contributor to HubSpot Academy. You can learn more about Ai here.
On the 15th, we will dive into social media and change with Ai, and the #PRStudChat community, discussing the following:
- Have you ever embarked on a self-reinvention journey? What triggered it & what was your experience like?
- How can social media & digital tools facilitate major personal and professional changes?
- To what extent and in what aspects can digital media devices limit and enhance a person’s ability to learn and grow?
- How can online communities help people facilitate change in their lives and careers?
- How is networking on social media different from networking “in real life”?
- How is social media changing the job landscape? What new careers is social media breeding, & what careers is it changing or rendering obsolete?
- How can one add strategic instability, newness, and uncertainty into one’s life to boost career development & life performance?
- If someone is changing careers and already has an established social media presence, how can they effectively rebrand themselves if they want to change their career?
- Life changes can be challenging. When is it time to “turn off” from social media if you need to deal with personal issues? How do you disengage, & how can you reemerge when you’re ready?
- Marching into 2019, what is one change that you are excited about implementing?
We’re looking forward to another lively #PRStudChat conversation. See you on Thursday, November 15th at 12:00 p.m. ET!
It began with a simple question asked by Angela Hernandez, then President of PRSSA at Central Michigan University (CMU). “Is PR Right for me?” A follow-up blog post by Communication Strategist Deirdre Breakenridge inspired a series of direct messages on Twitter between Breakenridge and fellow PR industry pro, Valerie Simon. This was an important question and one that should be explored beyond one student or one blog post. Why not build a community to help students across the country, and even the globe, learn from the experience and perspective of industry professionals … A community where everyone can learn and grow together.
About Spin Sucks
Spin Sucks was started in September 2006 by Gini Dietrich, the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. Its mission? To change the perception or PR. What started as a simple blog, soon became a movement. Spin Sucks is the number one PR blog in the world, the go-to resource for PR professionals to learn new strategies and tactics, to share and receive expert advice. It’s also the place where people have fun discussions, brainstorm, ask for help, and make new friends.
A Guest Post by Corina Manea, Chief Community Officer of Spin Sucks & Founder of NutsPR
Just a few short years ago, brands were pondering whether to give this social media thing a try or not. There was this popular belief that social media wouldn’t last, so why put yourself or your company out there? It was for the kids. A fad.
Plus, people would use this opportunity to backslash brands, right?
First off, social media is here to stay. No one doubts that anymore.
Second, by putting your brand out there, whether as a business or a personal brand, it opens up tremendous opportunities.
So, how do you socialize your brand? Where do you start?
There are three steps to get started. Let’s take them one by one.
Socialize Your Brand in Three Steps
If you look around in the social world, some of the most successful brands are those that focus on people.
Socializing your brand means interacting with people—your customers, your prospects, your employees, your brand loyalists, and even your detractors—with the purpose of listening to them, and building relationships.
It’s not a one-way communication street, and it’s definitely not about throwing your brand’s message out into the wild. Those times are long gone, and you better wrap your head around it if you want to make your brand social.
- It’s about your team
The first thing to keep in mind before launching your brand in social media is it’s not about you. It’s about your audience, those people you want to reach and build relationships with.
And what a better way to do that than showing off your fantastic team? Remember people do business with people, not with logos.
Because a brand that takes care of its employees takes care of its customers.
Women of Microsoft does a great job highlighting its female employees. By sharing their stories, it encourages women to pursue a career in technology. What better way to inspire your audience than by showing your employees’ success stories?
Hootsuite Instagram account is dedicated to showing the world how a day working for Hootsuite looks like. From team meetings to parties, it’s all about their team.
Make it about your team, and you’ll reach your community’s hearts. And that’s only the beginning.
- It’s about your community
Next on your list should be to build a community and involve them in your social media efforts.
Highlight your most loyal fans. They might be those who share your content consistently, comment on articles you produce, engage with you on the social networks, or write handwritten letters to your executive team.
Make them the stars on your social media channels. Start the conversation and let your community take the lead.
It’s not easy, and it’s scary to give up control. But think of it this way, instead of trying to control the conversation around your brand, why not let it flow? After all, you’ve only ever had the perception of control. Your customers have always controlled it and now they have a bigger megaphone to tell people what they love (and hate) about you.
Let your community talk about your brand. Let them show their loyalty and passion for your brand. Reward that loyalty by highlighting them through your content.
Interview them on your company’s blog and invite them to write for you.
Once you have that covered, take things forward and create contests on social media. The prizes can range from company swag to a 30-minute video call with you (the business owner) or a high profile executive in your company, to a guided tour of your company’s headquarters.
The sky is the limit here. Just be sure it makes sense for the community and your team.
- It’s about authenticity
You hear this a lot, “you need to be authentic.” And while for some it might have become a buzzword, it has value.
Unless you are a copycat of other brands, there is only one you.
To make your brand social, you need to express your brand’s personality and its uniqueness. You need to embrace its flaws and shortcomings. Because there is no such thing as perfect (which is boring; no one wants to hang out with perfect).
If you don’t know where to start, pay attention to what your competitors do.
Look at the content they share on their social channels. How do their audiences react and interact with the content they share? Are they engaged? Interested?
Deirdre Breakenridge suggests in her book, Answers for Modern Communicators, to take things a bit forward and ask yourself the following questions:
– Do your competitors have a clear branding and messaging strategy that is consistent and focused throughout their social channels?
– Are they using dedicated links to landing pages to track social media engagement and activity?
– Are they timing their social media posts or engaging frequently with people in real time?
– Does their social media efforts stop on weekends and holidays?
Socializing your brand doesn’t stop here.
Being active on social media also means you need to proactively listen to conversations happening around your brand.
Are they positive? Are they negative? What can you do to address them?
Social media is not set it and forget it. It’s being active; it’s investing your attention on what your community and the rest of the world thinks and says about your brand. Yes, it is a lot of work, but it’s worth it.
In the spirit of learning, and reinventing yourself to find what’s next in your career and in your life, here’s a book that takes reinvention and the big idea to a whole new level. If you don’t want to stand idle and feel the need to propel forward, but just don’t know how to get there, then the book, Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It, by Dorie Clark, is a great place to start. You can listen to my video review and then pick up / download a copy for yourself.
A Guest Post By Natasha Clark, Founder of Lioness Magazine.
One of the things I have always cherished about writing is the ability to convey a story or thought. Storytelling is a powerful tool to share and exchange ideas. It is also an art, when applied and mastered carefully, that we can use as female business owners to promote our businesses and social enterprises.
As founder of Lioness Magazine, there were a few things that I learned as we launched:
- Content is key. We wanted to provide news to women to help them launch their startups or scale their enterprises.
- Maintain the edge. We encourage women to unleash the Lioness within. Whether it’s sharp images or candid dialogue, we want to give that extra oomph.
- Develop a community. I also knew that we wanted women to come to our website and leave with the feeling that they could conquer the world, master whatever they set their sights on. We needed to develop a community that was inspirational and empowering. To do that, we feature everyday women who are going after their dreams and women who have accomplished their dreams and are educating other women on how to do it, too.
Think of brands that have impacted you.
Was it a moving commercial? Was it a powerful image in an ad? One of the best album titles that always stuck with me was Maroon 5’s debut album titled Songs About Jane. How clever is that? I wanted to know, “Who’s Jane? What are these songs going to reveal about her?” And after I experienced the album I thought, “Whoa, Jane is amazing and complex.”
Now take that thought and ask yourself, “how can I relate that to promoting my business?” In my mind, Maroon 5 was a win-win. They lured me in with their catchy title and then once purchased, they delivered quality music. It’s all about user experience and the connection.
Today there are so many ways to reach out to your audience. You have radio, TV, video, social media, text, email, and even snail mail. The possibilities are endless. What isn’t limitless, though, is your first impression. There’s that old saying that people always remember the way you make them feel. What is the feeling that you want people to associate with your brand? That impression should be your jumping off point in the conversation. That’s how you begin to promote yourself.
Dove is a brand that gets it. They make women feel good. Dove does three things really well: Their ads feature real women so that women feel like they’re looking at themselves. Their commercials tell stories that engage the viewer. They ask women thought-provoking questions that spark dialogue (which leads to a lot of media coverage). As a result, women are forwarding these videos and commenting on news sites – they are engaged.
Target your promotion.
Promotion is not just about slapping your name and logo on a mug and assuming that it is going to translate into a sale. As consumers, we all know that so much more goes into our spending. Think about the aspects of a product that make you say yes to a purchase. For me, those purchases are often because it is something that I’ve been dying to try out or it’s a product or service that answers my current need. With that in mind, there are two things you need to think about when promoting your business:
1. Where is your customer?
Find out where they are and be there. Do they get coffee at a particular place? Maybe you should have a partnership with that coffee house and run a marketing campaign or giveaway.
Do they shop on certain websites? Consider advertising there. Are they talking on social media to one another using particular hashtags? Start using those hashtags and join in the conversation. Are they going to annual conferences or events to interact with their peers or what Seth Godin calls “tribes?” You might want to look into having a booth or being a speaker.
2. How is your customer spending?
We need to stop assuming that our products and services are for everyone. Once you’ve discovered your audience, you need to know how they are spending their cash. Are they best deals/bargain shoppers? Are they consumers who purchase gently used items on eBay or amazon.com?
Maybe your target demographic doesn’t care about price, only quality and prestige. Others could prefer to buy from people they trust. Those types of spenders often check for product reviews before they make final purchase decisions. In that case, reach out to blogs and ask for product reviews.
If your audience are trendsetters, they want the latest items before everyone else gets wind of it. That means you should be offering exclusivity. That can include offering VIP memberships and limited editions items. These people tend to spend on their wants, not their needs.
When you start answering these questions, it is easier to strategize about what makes the most sense in terms of promotion. For example, once you discover how your audience is interacting on Twitter, then you can focus on the best way to engage them in 140 characters instead of just tweeting random messages. If you find out your audience is on a particular website, don’t just slap up an ad. People don’t click away from their favorite website very often. They need a reason.What would be the reason? Is it to find out more about something they care about? Click by a certain deadline to get an incentive? Or maybe it’s to continue a popular discussion that is currently on this website over at your website. Think about creating an ad that aggregates eyeballs and has a call-to-action that entices them to click away.
Word of mouth never goes out of style.
If you begin to have a few superstar customers that rave to you about how much they love what you do, get their testimonial. Give them a reference giveaway. Give them an incentive that not only keeps them coming back, but also entices them to spread the word about your awesomeness.
Show your customer that you’ve taken the time to get to know them. Because it’s our business, we often only think about ourselves. But what we really need to be doing is focusing on them.
Around age eight Natasha Clark was told it was a woman’s job to take care of the home and since then she has built a career out of telling women they can do whatever the hell they want. Founder of Lioness, the leading digital magazine for female entrepreneurs, the former news reporter has created a platform to educate, elevate and support female entrepreneurs. In addition to publishing and hosting events for women, Natasha enjoys spending time with her teenage son, Shaun.
Now that school is out many of our students have started interning or they are working full-time in the field. They’ve been building their resumes and portfolios from the start of their school careers, knowing that graduation was always just around the corner.
In an effort to further help our students, as they explore their PR and communication career options, #PRStudchat invites you to join a community discussion on Wednesday, June 25th at 8:30 p.m. ET, focusing on the topic “Building Your Brand to Land Your Dream Job.” Jason Mollica, who is the President of JRM Communications, will be the host of our Twitter chat session.
Many of you may know Jason for his work with young professionals. He’s also a mentor, a blogger at OneGuy’sJourney, and he lectures frequently around the county on the topic, “CEO of You.” You can learn more about Jason here.
A few of the question that our community will discuss on June 25th include:
1. What are the qualities in a personal brand that stand out to employers?
2. How do you build a brand that recruiters, other pros, can trust?
3. What are some tools you have used to build and maintain your brand?
4. What are some red flags you need to be aware of with your brand?
5. What are the key components of personal brand management?
6. How would you personally align your brand to get your “dream job?”
7. How do you effectively maintain your personal brand?
8. What social network do you feel is most important to a personal brand?
9. What is one tip you would give someone on personal branding?
10. Share a brand of someone you follow that others should follow.
If you have any questions around the topic or thoughts you want to share, in advance of the session, feel free to DM us or post your questions in our LinkedIn Discussion Group. We hope you’ll join us for a dynamic Twitter chat session on June 25th. “See” you then!
A Little More About PRStudChat:
It began with a simple question asked by Angela Hernandez, then President of PRSSA at Central Michigan University (CMU). “Is PR Right for me?” A follow up blog post by PR 2.0 expert Deirdre Breakenridge inspired a series of direct messages on Twitter between Breakenridge and fellow PR industry pro, Valerie Simon. This was an important question and one that should be explored beyond one student or one blog post. Why not build a community to help students across the country, and even the globe, learn from the experience and perspective of industry professionals… A community where everyone can learn and grow together.
Building Your Reputation Task Force
Tracing back to the early days of my career in PR and marketing, I remember a conversation with a senior account executive at my agency. She shared with me her thoughts on the importance of the brand and pointed out one resource she referred to as our “marketing bible.” You may have guessed already … it’s the branding guide or brand style guidelines. Every project started with the brand style guidelines, which we followed carefully. These guidelines were often as thick as a dictionary and covered everything from vision, messaging and voice to accepted versions of logos and fonts.
Brand style guidelines are developed to keep the brand voice consistent across multiples channels, and the look and feel of the brand in tact at every communication touch point. We used these guidelines religiously as brand champions. Branding was important then and it’s just as important now.
Today, brand guidelines are critical and these style guides are still developed for the same purpose. However, when it comes to building your internal brand champions, you need to move far beyond the development and sharing of a corporate branding guide. Getting your internal champions on board with the brand means involving champions in your brand; using brand exercises, training and initiatives that inspire employees to protect, manage and maintain the interests of the brand through every channel and at every touch point.
On May 21st, I’m co-presenting with John Mustin, CEO of Wasabi Rabbit, at the PRSA Connect 14 Conference in Chicago. We’re discussing the topic of building internal brand champions, online and offline. Years ago the “brand police” followed a set of brand guidelines. Now, it’s so much more than just following the guidelines, it’s being immersed in the brand to “Live the Brand.” My part of the presentation will focus on how to get your champions to become more involved and to “Live the Brand” online and in their social communities, how to motivate them to join a reputation task force. The more champions who become involved in the task force effort, the more eyes and ears that are ready and willing to promote, protect and uphold the image and integrity of the brand.
Here are a few simple steps to consider when you are motivating your online reputation task force:
1. Learn new ways to identify champions who stand out in the crowd. These are the employees who don’t always raise their hands, but would jump at the opportunity to be more involved with online communications. Many companies don’t realize that their champions exist in every department and often in the unlikely places. I’ve heard executives say, “Our employees don’t spend much time online and they don’t seem very social.” The truth is … the employees are online and very social, but they are just not social for the company. Of course it’s easy to identify the champions in marketing in PR. However, you have to extend your reach and find the internal ambassadors from other departments.
2. When it comes to online participation, social media policies are great to layout the guidelines for good judgment. More companies are developing social media policies to offer this good guidance. However, a policy can only take you so far. It’s imperative to train your brand champions so they understand the do’s and don’ts and the best practices. Companies go as far as simulating situations that challenge champion understanding and help them to feel more comfortable about social media. Feeling more confident leads to better communication and decreases the chance of employees fueling the escalation of negative issues. Training should be based on champion needs, so it’s important to structure targeted sessions with a core team and then eventually broaden the training to involve more employees (enterprise wide) as your reputation task force expands.
3. Create a place for your champions to collaborate. Building a reputation task force often means connecting champions and motivating them to discuss and learn from one another. There are internal collaboration sites that allow your champions to share, innovate and grow together. From the simple discussion platforms to the more advanced social computing sites for the enterprise, champions are born daily when they have access to information and can gain additional knowledge from their peers.
Today, building champions goes so far beyond the brand style guidelines. Although still an important resource, it’s not the only tool in the toolbox. With so many different channels and touch points with stakeholders you need to expand how your own people look and live your brand.
Believing in the brand and embracing the brand will translate into protecting and maintaining the brand. Invest in your people and they will invest in return. There are champions just waiting to be born; now you just have to involve and inspire them the right way.
A Guest Post By Jim Joseph
Last week I had the distinct privilege of being a guest host on #prstudchat. At first I was excited to be invited, thinking that someone out there thought I was a stud. But when I realized it was going to be full of students … well as a professor at NYU I jumped at the chance!
I am a big believer in the overall brand experience as a way to think about marketing a product. But the truth is there are lots of people who have theories about marketing. For me, it’s less about theory and more about practicing and observing and learning and reapplying. Marketing is a spectator sport, and we can all learn from the marketplace and from each other. Twitter chats are one great way of getting together and sharing. And when it’s quick and 140 characters, all the better! I so enjoyed the “experience!”
QUESTION ONE: How does PR contribute to a customer experience that builds loyalty?
We are the lucky ones! I believe that public relations is actually the closest to the consumer. Especially with social media, we are the part of the marketing mix that is talking directly to consumers as they live their lives. We have been trained to talk WITH our consumers, not AT them (as in advertising). We seek out the influencers who they trust, even when it’s just their other girlfriends! In that way, our efforts seek to build relationships that lead to loyalty and ultimately create a lasting brand experience. That puts us in charge of building the brand experience and ultimately for me, the brand.
QUESTION TWO: What are favorite examples of companies with strong and consistent branding?
In my books, I discuss a number of examples where a brand has created a consistent and relevant experience that has created long-lasting loyalty. J.Crew is one of my favorites because they’ve been able to tailor their experience, yet keep it consistent across all of their venues be it retail, web, social media, or catalog. Every interaction is uniquely J.Crew, yet specific to the touchpoint.
Lady Gaga also comes to mind. She’s not just a marketer, but also a brand. Perhaps one of the best at having a strong mission for the “underdog”, consistent messaging about her fans, and a compelling experience that evolves and evolves.
I would say that brand Paula Deen fell off the wagon this month. She had a very consistent experience (like it or not) but she took a very sharp turn and it is jarring for her fans. Let’s leave it at that!
Can’t talk about the brand experience without talking about the magic of Disney – across all of their theme parks, movies, tv shows, merchandise – it’s all about the magic of childhood and recapturing it with your family. They own it!
QUESTION THREE: What communications touchpoints engage customers the most?
The answer to this one depends on the consumer and how they live their lives. But in general, I would say that the most effective touchpoints are the ones that seemingly naturally pop up when the consumer is in the right mindset for your brand. I’ve seen touchpoints in gyms that are more relevant than mass advertising or PR!
The best touchpoint is the one that bumps into your consumer at the time they might consider you. The other day I was at the gym and saw a poster in the men’s locker room for athlete’s foot. Now that’s a touchpoint and a brand message that is “right place, right time!” And you know what, they had samples at the front desk as well.
The best way to pick touchpoints is to know your consumer and how she specifically lives her life. Figure out ways to get in front of her when she needs you. That’s how she’ll jump onto your brand experience and then hopefully share it with others.
QUESTION FOUR: What advice would you give to PR students & pros about creating a better brand experience?
We could write volumes about this, and in fact I have! But to keep it simple, the first step is to know your consumer and to know her better than your competition does. To know her is to know how to market with her. The second step is to know what you, as a brand, are capable of offering her. You can’t give your consumer something that is outside of your brand’s skill sets and abilities. So the key is to match what she wants and needs with what you are uniquely able to offer to her. Then build the experience on her terms – when and how she needs you.
QUESTION FIVE: What are the secrets to finding success at a New York PR firm?
I think you need to be willing to do anything to learn. My best advice is to start out working on a smaller brand where you can play a bigger role. There’s not as much staffing on the small brands so you can become more of a leader and do more strategic activities sooner.
Make yourself indispensable to your clients and to your teammates. Be the “go to” person for the brand’s information and you’ll find yourself in the middle of all the meetings where decisions are being made. You’ll be in the middle of the action, not on the sidelines waiting to hear what’s going on.
Don’t expect anything to be handed to you. Use some sweat equity to build your own brand. Others will start to figure out that you are a future leader and they will gravitate towards you.
Think about what you want your own brand experience to be for the people you work with and for – make yourself valuable for them and you will rise!
Jim Joseph is the President of Lippe Taylor, the Author of “The Experience Effect” series and a professor at NYU