Platforms Fall Flat in Crisis Response

Operating a client’s social media accounts is an immensely important role for public relations professionals. Whether it’s communicating to followers during a crisis, promoting an upcoming campaign or gaining brand loyalty, each social media platform is unique in the way it reaches audiences. All serve as efficient PR tools, however, how efficient are the PR teams behind these social media companies?

It’s extremely unlikely that you didn’t hear about the Facebook privacy scandal that broke in March 2018. The world bursting in uproar as it was learned that an estimated 87 million people had personal information from Facebook compromised due to unauthorized data-mining from a third-party app. The social media giant didn’t respond in a timely manner as head executives Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg fell silent for five days following the initial report.

This public became enraged even further after Zuckerberg didn’t apologize for the privacy breech once he broke his silence. The company is still trying to regain the public’s trust. It also started running the “Here Together” ad campaign in April that promises to keep people safe and protect their privacy.

YouTube is another company that has received a great deal of criticism from its users due to its lack of communication. In April 2017, major marketers for the site discovered that some advertisements were running videos that promoted hate speech and terrorism, causing them to pull their ads. Not wanting to lose business, YouTube began withdrawing creators’ ad revenue on videos that were deemed not advertiser friendly. What people took issue with is that YouTube did not clearly state what type of content is and isn’t advertiser friendly. Left confused, creators’ earnings began to drop, some even claiming to have lost 99% of their previous revenue. The company eventually created an advertiser-friendly content guideline but many creators still are struggling to create videos that fit these rules.

These two situations are examples of how social media companies can fail to respond to key stakeholders in the midst of a crisis. In hindsight, we learn that timeliness and openness are two factors where the companies fell short.

Do you think Facebook and YoTube will make repeat the mistakes in the future or will the platforms improve and rebound?

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Fact vs Fiction: Debunking PR Myths

PR practitioners have heard it all — the good, the bad and the ugly. Because public relations is a fairly new profession, there’s are myths that people outside the field, and even in the field, subscribe to. However, the reality is often far different. It’s our job as PR professionals to uncover the truth and educate those who may be skeptical of the profession. Here are some of the biggest PR myths and the truth behind them, via Dummies and Stephen Davies.

Myth: The media view PR professionals as “the enemy”

Truth: While there is a stereotype that media people dislike PR professionals, that is often not the case. The truth is that many journalists get their stories from PR pitches or press releases. Journalists appreciate PR professionals who send them relevant information within their beat and who are reliable sources. Earning a journalist’s trust by being reliable, ethical and truthful is crucial in forging good relationships with the media.

Myth: Press releases are dead

Truth: Although it seems like press releases are a thing of the past, they still work. When a press release is well-written and expertly delivered, it can result in great media coverage at minimal cost to your company or client. The key is to make sure the message is delivered with a great subject line that will catch the journalist’s attention since many are inundated with hundreds of emails a day.

Myth:  PR is just spin

Truth: “Spin” is a thing of the past — or never was. Most PR professionals pride themselves in being ethical and trustworthy, and they work hard to earn the trust of the public, the media, and their clients. Today, PR is building mutually beneficial relationships between the public and a company. This means that there must be trust and truth in PR, otherwise, the public fails to benefit from the relationship.

Myth: All publicity is good publicity

Truth: The whole point of public relations is to build a positive reputation for a company. When a company receives negative publicity, that is not doing anything positive for their PR. It actually tears into their reputation, which is exactly the opposite of what PR professionals work to do. Although it may seem like being in the media is good for business no matter if the coverage is positive or negative, that is far from the truth. Especially in today’s society, it is incredibly important for brands to maintain positive reputations in order for their customers to remain loyal.

Myth: PR is a glamorous career

Truth: There are many aspects of PR that are less than glamorous. Crisis communications is a great example. The truth is, PR is a demanding career that requires discipline and entails lots of late nights and early mornings in the office. While there may be times that involve galas or trips abroad, most of the time PR is just hard work. But for those of us who love it, it’s definitely worth it.

Any other myths we can explore?

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Office Friendships Aid Teamwork

There is an array of skills to master in order to be considered a true public relations professional including management, research, social media and communications. Still, one-on-one internal communications often takes a backseat. “I’m not here to make friends,” is a statement you might hear from colleagues said Laryssa Simpson, Zion & Zion marketing and advertising account executive, in her blog, “Are You Here To Make Friends?”

Simpson points out that there are personal and professional benefits to making friends in the workplace. Benefits include improvements in team creativity, synergy and loyalty. In short, workers who have developed friendly relationships with each other are less likely to hold back when sharing creative ideas. Friends in the workplace are also more likely to communicate when problems arise and have a deeper sense of responsibility toward a project.

Some difficulties people may have when making workplace friends is that it usually requires more face-to-face interaction rather than online interaction. However, this is not to say that online social interaction doesn’t count. “Three major game-changers have entered our world: portable computers, social communication, and smartphones,” said Dr. Larry Rosen, former chair of California State University Psychology Department in an article from The Wall Street Journal. “The total effect has been to allow us to connect more with the people in our virtual world — but communicate less with those who are in our real world.”

“I just don’t like people,” is the common excuse people make when opting out of social situations. For many, this cynical attitude toward society isn’t just recognizing a problem but perpetuating one. For example, imagine that you frequently ride the bus home. Every day that you ride the bus, you assume that someone unpleasant will sit next to you. So, instead of allowing others to sit near you, you occupy two seats. However, your actions aren’t irrational. You have had unpleasant people sit near you in the past. Yet when you adopt the attitude that all people are unpleasant, you become a part of that group.

“Sing like no one’s listening, love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like nobody’s watching and live like it’s heaven on earth.” -Mark Twain

So now that you’re a reformed people-hater, what’s the next step? Like many people, you may have trouble figuring out how to make friends. “This is a very, very common problem,” Thomas Frank, founder of College Info Geek, said. “A lot of people find it difficult to make friends. Especially as they get older or when they, say, move to a new city.”

In his YouTube Video, Frank suggests six tips for people trying to make friends:

  1. Go Out and Do Active Things: Frank says you should begin any friendship by asking potential friends to join you to do something active. In the office setting, this can be anything from grabbing a coffee to trying out a new lunch spot together.
  2. Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Activities: “You might be tempted to … only look at things you’re already into,” Frank said. Instead, leave your comfort zone and join an office group, like a Fantasy Football league. Pro tip — ask management to setup team building exercises or volunteer days.
  3. Don’t Ignore Proximity Friends: Frank says finding a proximity friend allows you to open your horizons. So instead of making friends based on common interests, try making friends with the person sitting right next to you.
  4. Live By the 3-Second Rule: Frank says that when you see someone, you should decide within three-seconds whether to speak to them. “If you wait any longer than that, your brain’s going to start concocting reasons why you shouldn’t,” Frank said. “You’re going to think you look silly or they look busy and then you’re going to talk yourself out of doing it.”
  5. Be OK with the Reality that Some Conversations Will Fizzle: Frank said a common reason people are afraid to initiate a conversation is the fear of an awkward exchange. “This is going to happen sometimes, it even happens to total extroverts.”
  6. Ask Questions and Take an Active Interest In the Other Person: To continue the conversation going longer Frank suggests asking the other person questions. Some questions suitable for the office may be favorite places to eat or plans for the upcoming weekend.

In conclusion, creating friendships at work should be one of your primary goals at work. Create friends. iI you’re not doing it for your emotional well-being, then do it for the overall job.

Have you used one or more of these tips to make an office friend? Suggest you own tips.

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Defining Workplace Diversity

Since the workplace began, diversity has been a controversial subject. On opposite ends of the conversation are those who strongly believe affirmative action is an answer and others who are fearful their jobs are being stolen.

What is diversity? The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines it as:

“The condition of having or being composed of differing elements:VARIETYEspeciallythe inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization.”

It’s important to understand by this definition, diversity is more than just the color of a person’s skin. Diversity can include gender, sexual orientation, beliefs and much more.

“The concept of diversity means acceptance and respect for all individuals,” Abbie Fink, of HMA Public Relations, said in her blog titled Become A Diversity Advisor for Your Organization.

In her post, Fink recognizes the importance of including diverse audiences in imagery messages — particularly people with physical and mental abilities. “Diverse groups wield great influence and spending power,” Fink said.

However, this discussion desperately needs to continue. The bottom line is that the representation of diverse people in messages alone is simply not enough. The inclusion of people from diverse groups needs to extend into the messaging process.

Peggy Olson from Mad Men says, "I don't think anyone wants to be one of a hundred colors in a box."

Source: Mic/AMC

How do you define diversity?

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Causes Can Trigger Major Effects

In recent years, it has become increasingly important to consumers that the businesses they support take a stance on behalf of a cause. A business stance can be set around any value from using locally sourced ingredients to supporting inclusion with the LGBTQ+ community. Consumers want their brands to be socially responsible and their money to make a difference.

According to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, members of the general online public are more likely to trust businesses than their government. This may be because consumers believe that businesses are more likely to listen to their preferences than federal and state representatives.

“While companies risk alienating consumers when taking stands, they don’t necessarily do so at the expense of business,” Diana Marszalek, a reporter for the Holmes Report, wrote in Provoke18: ‘You Can Make a Difference And Still Make a Profit.’ In this article, Marszalek sums up the findings of four c-suite leaders from a panel at the #Provoke18 Global PR Summit. In short, the panel emphasized that stakeholder trust was the “the ultimate payoff” and company actions are usually driven by core values.

Still, it’s easy to assume that stances are driven not by a business’ core values but rather personal values. So where does the line exist and how do companies decide whether a stance is relevant to their business?

Answering these questions might help:

  1. What are my businesses’ core values?
  2. Does this stance align with the core values?
  3. Where do the shareholders stand?
  4. Is my business in a position to truly make a difference?
  5. Does my business have the time, money and support necessary to contribute to this cause?

Do you think these are the right questions businesses should ask?

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Why Video is Vital

In today’s world everything is online and everyone feels the need to record every funny moment of every day. What does this mean for brands? Think video, all the time.

From a Forbes article, Five Reasons Why Video Will Be Crucial For PR In 2018, online video content is how people are consuming their news.

“Digital content leaders like NowThis have built entire publications on the foundation of Facebook video storytelling. Even newer players like Cheddar have scaled rapidly using edited consumer product videos as the core of their organic growth strategies. The best media players right now understand how to take video and turn it into short, engaging news vignettes.”

We have all heard that print news is dying, fading away. Is video the new print?

From another article published almost two years ago, this article discusses the same rise of video and decline of print news. This has been an on-going rise of technology and 2018 isn’t holding back with new technology releases and creations. This gives marketers and brands more platforms to inform the public.

According to, Top 10 Reasons You Need Video in Your Content Marketing Plan, “65% of viewers watch more than ¾ of a video, which is more than we can say about text-based content. So if you have a message to get across (and why wouldn’t you if you’re creating content?), video might be the way to go.” 

Do you think video is successful in reaching consumers? Photos and info graphics? Check out this video to learn how videos can be used on multiple platforms!

Video Marketing In 2018, Maximize Video Reach On Social Media

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Paying for Placement: Social Media Ad Buys

Have you ever scrolled through your feed and stumbled upon an account you didn’t recognize? Then upon closer examination, you find the word “Sponsored.” This is a strategically placed advertisement. You have been targeted.

Now the effectiveness of this marketing campaign isn’t black and white. It depends on dozens of factors. Do you click on the post? Do you follow the account? Do you click on the link in the bio? Do you scroll through the website? Do you purchase anything?

Are ads always a good tool to reach a wider audience? Unfortunately, the answer to that lives in a gray zone.

While owned and shared content mixed with smart use of hashtags and geotags can generate interest and engage new audiences, paid ads are an easy way to reach more people within your target market.

However, it’s easier said than done. Every paid advertisement is strategically placed on an individual’s feeds who have shown interest in similar products already. This means the person will be more likely to engage with the content. On top of this, the ad needs to be visually engaging, straight-to-the-point and clear.

Let’s take a look at some smart paid advertisements.

It is difficult to ignore Airbnb’s sponsored posts. It’s not a coincidence that this post shows up on your feed the day after you were searching through Airbnb’s places in Mexico. This is the brand’s nice little way of reminding you to book a home. These ads are effective because they are visually appealing, simple and engaging. Plus, the price of the home is right there on the post. You can’t resist.

This New York Times ad is a great example of a good paid ad because it’s also simple, yet the font and classic colors make it visually appealing enough without being overwhelming. This ad also fits the overall brand of the NYT well because the newspaper itself isn’t flashy, so neither is this post. If the advertisement shows up on your feed, chances are you have either looked at articles online, follow other news organizations on social media or have liked pictures from stories. This means you’re more likely to click on this sponsored post.

You may not think about them much when you’re scrolling through your feed and find a sponsored post. However, lots of thought, time, planning, research and implementation have gone into the whole process of getting that one sponsored ad onto your feed. It may seem like mountains of work for one picture, but when done right– you might just click on it.

Notice sponsored messages when you scroll?

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Does Taking A Political Stance Pay Off?

This fall, Nike introduced a campaign with Colin Kaepernick as its corporate face. Some may recognize Kaepernick as the professional football player who decided to take a knee on the field during the national anthem. Major controversy was and still is raised over professional athletes refusing to stand for the anthem as some see it as disrespecting the United States and their troops. Those who kneel believe this action protests police brutality and its injustice.

Colin Kaepernick

After the launch of this campaign, social media was filled with users burning their Nike apparel, showing they do not agree with Nike’s political stance and decision to publicly support Kaepernick and the movement.

Nike Cleats Burning

In this video, People Are BURNING Their Nike Products To Protest Colin Kaepernick Ad, the reporter discusses some background knowledge on the situation along with footage of civilians burning their apparel.

My question then is, was it worth it? Did Nike profit? Is it smart?

Nike says the Colin Kaepernick ‘Just Do It’ campaign is driving traffic and engagement. Nike’s stock price is up by one percent despite recent actions of the company. Of course, immediately after the release of this campaign stock prices plummeted but has greatly improved since then with more companies stepping out of the dark to show support.

“While improvement in the footwear business continues to be the focus for many investors (+10% in 1Q19), Nike’s apparel business is quietly posting impressive results,” wrote Susquehanna Financial Group in a note. Analysts there rate Nike shares positive with a $100 price target.'”

What do you think? Should companies continue to get more involved with politics?

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Personal PR: Relationship Science

It’s in the name – public relations specialists must be able to build relationships with the public.

As anyone old enough to read this has probably figured out, everyone is unique. Some people are are kinder than others, some are more cynical, some are more imaginative, the list goes on. But, as Psychology Today points out, there is a science behind building and keeping solid relationships. The basics sing a refrain attuned to that of PR experts. Building strong, lasting relationships require building trust, practicing patience, showing respect, and communication, communication, communication!

Image result for how to win friends and influence people 2018

Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People is famous for translating this concept into a self-help handbook. It’a all about building leadership skills, persuasion, and, at it’s very core, building relationships. At the basis of all this is just being a likable person. Here’s how Carnegie’s “six tips for making people like you” can be applied in the age of open workspaces, digital friendships and e-blasts, 84 years later:

1. Become genuinely interested in other people.

two women holding phones

This means putting your phone away, making eye contact, and engaging without interrupting. We know this, but it’s worth repeating.  Keep your phone next to your plate table during a lunch meeting, refrain from texting under the conference table when someone is presenting, and stop scrolling through at your computer when your coworker is sharing an idea. All are small acts that make an enormous difference.

Digitally, your affirmative head nod to acknowledge someone’s ideas has become the “like” button on social media posts and the “sounds good, thanks” or “great, I’m on it” email response.

2. Smile.

smiling man and woman hand shaking inside room

In person, this is pretty self-explanatory, but just do it! Smile at the doorman, the woman presenting at the next meeting, your coworkers, your clients, and people on the street! You never know how that person may circle back in your life again and if you smile, maybe they will remember you as the person who brightened their day. And it’s free, so why not?

Digitally, smiling is done through the tone of your written words, through stepping away from the robotic overly-formal tones and injecting a little personality into your professionalism.

3. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

Image result for mindy kaling book cover

This one is simple and I’ll let Mindy Kaling sum it up:

“I don’t think it should be socially acceptable for people to say they are ‘bad with names.’ No one is bad with names. That is not a real thing. Not knowing people’s names isn’t a neurological condition; it’s a choice. You choose not to make learning people’s names a priority. It’s like saying, ‘Hey, a disclaimer about me: I’m rude.'”

4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

woman sitting on yellow armless chair near gray laptop computer

In person, this one ties really well with tip number one, being genuinely interested in what others have to say. Anyone is worth 15 minutes of your time. Let them talk. Get to know them. Listening is the gateway drug to building trusting, lasting, healthy relationships.

Digitally, stay up-to-date with the big milestones people are accomplishing, the stories they publish, the trips they go on. Or at least brush up on what they’ve been up to before a meeting or before sending a pitch. This “listening” shows people their voice is valuable and people are paying attention.

5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

two people drawing on whiteboard

Take note of what people are into. Make your meetings at restaurants that appeal to their diets, are reminiscent of a recent trip they went on, or makes a great version of their favorite food. In conversation, relate to their interests when explaining a new concept to them. This helps them understand more clearly and lets them know you’re genuinely listening and caring.

6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

two men having conversation while walking

In person and digitally, all of the above are components of making someone feel valued. But asking someone for their opinion or assistance, giving them the floor and respecting their voice, that makes someone feel important.

Do you use these tips on a regular basis? Try them and see if they make a difference in your life.

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Brand Humor: Highs, Lows of Sass and Sizzle

What makes you follow a brand on social media? Maybe it posts really aesthetically-pleasing photos. Maybe it features giveaways and contests. Maybe it engages you in a unique way — with a sense of humor.

While using social media for marketing purposes is highly beneficial to a company, it is also crucial to add a sense of personality to the brand. This makes the account look relatable and relaxed, which translates well on certain social channels. Brands like CharminWendy’s and Moonpie are just a few that have nailed the entertainment side of the social media realm.

When done right, adding a touch of humor can boost the amount of likes, shares and overall engagement.

Take notes from Charmin, the brand took advantage of the type of product it sells and spun it in a humorous direction when it came to creating content. In 2015, the toilet paper company started the hashtag #tweetfromtheseat. This created a funny way to engage with its followers and receive organic posts in return as people used the hashtag on their own personal accounts.

Moonpie adds a sense of humor with the perfect dash of snarky, witty comebacks that have dominated Twitter debates and overflowed the posts with likes and shares.

That simple tweet went viral and received over 200,000 likes within a few days. While Moonpie may not be as popular of a snack as in the past, its Twitter account has 258K followers and 10.9k likes thanks to the quality of the content. While not all of its posts are obvious marketing tactics, some posts include advertising elements with a sense of quirky humor that makes the content more shareable.

Another great account that has achieved success utilizing humor in its posts is Wendy’s. Wendy’s takes these kinds of posts to a new level. The restaurant really brings “the beef” and will burn other restaurants in its tweets and even its own followers. It’s a unique way to interact with audiences and even though insulting your followers doesn’t seem logical, it works surprisingly well for this brand.

Posts like this receive significant attention, including thousands of likes, shares and comments. There was a phase when Twitter users would actually ask Wendy’s to roast them with tweets like that one. It doesn’t seem like it should work but it does. This creates interaction between the user and the brand, while also generating interest and buzz in the company simultaneously.

Does this mean that incorporating humor into a post is always the best option? Definitely not. Witty comments can make a brand stand out in a crowd but not always in a good way.

Since it is best to learn from prior mistakes, learn from the major error IHOP made in a Twitter post. IHOP experienced success tweeting humorous and relatable content with sayings like “Pancakes on fleek” or “Pancakes, you look good, won’t you back that stack up.” These captions were made relevant to Twitter users by making references to pop culture and people loved it. However, IHOP eventually went too far with two tweets that stated “The butter face we all know and love” and “Flat but has a GREAT personality”. These posts instantly received backlash for being sexist and misogynistic.

IHOP  deleted the posts and issued an apology via Twitter.

When done right, a brand can really benefit from humor to create a unique online personality. This helps an organization to stand out and connect with the audience. However, when companies fail to recognize insensitive material, it can harm its reputation.

It is a fine line to tread and a dangerous one. Plus, just because a post is deleted doesn’t mean it’s forgotten.

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