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Weekly Reads – Big Brands. Big Dollars. Big Takeaways.

This week our favorite reads revolve around eye-opening examples of how the deep pockets of national brands like Levi’s and DSW Shoe Warehouse are driving advertising and marketing innovation at social platforms such as LinkedIn and Pinterest. True, small businesses may have to wait patiently for a scalable trickle down effect. However, as social advertising matures, brands will be able to hone in on prospects at the tipping point of a purchase in new and unmatched ways, undoubtedly impacting organic and paid content budgets in the foreseeable future.
Read more after the jump…

What’s Really Private on Social Media?

A few weeks ago I met someone who found herself the center of a news story after posting an update to Facebook that she assumed only her friends and family would see. Not too long before that I met someone whose personal photo – shared via Facebook – ended up making national news.

Privacy and the Internet

Image by Rob Jewitt via Flickr

In a recent blog post my colleague Amanda Brannum noted that media regularly troll social media feeds for story ideas; a fact recently confirmed by a reporter I met. During our time together, he kept half an eye on the Twitter feed on his phone. If you’re looking to get your story out there, there’s no doubt that social media is an important tool. But if you’re not so keen on your personal story making the spotlight, here are some important things to keep in mind so the media doesn’t find you:

1. Regularly check your privacy settings. It can be difficult to keep track of all the changes on various social platforms, but checking your privacy settings at least two times per year is a great start. Haven’t done it in awhile? Do it today and mark your calendar to check back in six months from now.
2. Don’t include personal information in your profile. It’s a best practice to leave identifying information like your mobile number and address, even full birthday, marital status and hometown off your social media profiles. This information is enticing not only to media looking for stories, but could be valuable to identity thieves, too.
3. Disable all GPS and location settings. Want to keep your home address private, or keep your favorite coffee shop a true haven? Disable the location function on your phone and your social media apps. It’s true this might create a few extra steps next time you want an app to know your location (nearest Starbucks, anyone?), but it saves you from sharing your location every time you post a photo or an update.
4. Create checkpoints. Protect your tweets, make your Instagram photos private, and set it so that you have to approve tags or posts to your timeline in Facebook. You call the shots – and if you want to protect your privacy on social media this is a great place to start.

Three Sneaky Reporter Tactics And Tips For How To Respond

For many corporate spokespeople, the prospect of facing an antagonistic reporter can cause long, sleepless nights and even longer media training sessions. But in reality these reporters should be no more difficult to work with than friendly reporters. You just need to some insight into their inner workings so you are well prepared to meet them head on. Check out these three tricks reporters use to get spokespeople to say more than they want and how to make sure you are ready to deal with them.

Reporter at work

Photo by Robert H. Goun via Flickr

1. I’m on deadline…
Reporters know they have to show some balance in their stories by asking for opposing points of view. By catching you off guard with this tactic, they are hoping you might just say something damaging or at least provide a ‘no comment’ comment, which often looks like you’re attempting to cover something up anyway. Don’t fall for this approach. Share that you would be glad to speak with them but that now isn’t a good time. Offer to call them back within the hour and use that that time establishing your keys messages, reviewing recent stories by the reporter and anticipating some of the tough questions you might be asked.

2. Multiple questions in one
Another tactic to catch you off guard and get you to share information you are not prepared to offer is to ask you multiple questions at once. This can be quite confusing as you struggle to determine the best response to the wide range of questions. Don’t take the bait. Listen to the questions and pick the one that you are most comfortable answering. If the reporter really wants answers to the other questions, they will ask again more directly. Remember that you do not have to answer every question that is asked. If a reporter asks about something you don’t want to answer, tell him/her politely that you’re not comfortable answering that question and bridge to something you do want to say.

3. Dead air
If you’re like me, pregnant pauses are almost as uncomfortable as labor. But don’t be fooled; this is just another trick some reporters use to get you to share more than planned by filling the conversation void. To be fair, some reporters may just be reviewing the list of questions they want to ask, but either way, don’t talk out of turn no matter how tempted you are. Provide your official answer and wait them out. If you have to say something, try something like “if that is all you have for me, I’ll let you go.”

Reaching Unplugged Employees

CommunicationAh, the age of technology. We have smartphones, tablets and laptops to work from anywhere at anytime. We’ve shed the print publications in favor of online newsletters and all staff email blasts. So it is safe to say everyone is wired and up to speed via our real-time communications efforts, right?

Not so much. GroundFloor Media has several health care industry clients and we’ve experienced the challenges with communicating to clinical staff whom are seldom in front of a computer or online via other technologies. It can be extremely frustrating to sit in meetings or be stopped in the hall by a manager and have questions asked that were answered previously in staff communications. We call it the online black hole of doom.

Read more after the jump…

Dangers of Going ‘Off the Record’ With Reporters

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 9.20.32 AMDuring a recent media training with clients, there was a discussion if you can still share information “off-the-record” or “on background” with reporters.

It’s a tough call, and particularly these days when reporters are under even more pressure to get a scoop. The concepts of “on background” and “off the record” are confusing even to some seasoned reporters.

In the era of quick-hit reporting and little or no source-building, there are times when it makes sense to provide the media more than simply a short official statement.

In most crisis communication scenarios, a statement is the go-to, tried and true media response. Longer interviews or long responses get shortened or paraphrased—and often misrepresented. There are ways to get an issue across outside of an official statement, but they, too, have pitfalls.

Among those ways is to speak to a reporter off the record.
Read more after the jump…

Weekly Reads – Considering Your Audience

Very few brands have the luxury of only needing content that speaks to one type of audience. Most have customers across multiple ages, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds who enjoy their products and would be willing to engage with the brand on social media. Creating customer profiles can help, but companies cannot speak only to those segments. They must consider how all types of people will digest and react to their content to truly be successful.
Read more after the jump…

3 Recommendations for Building Accurate Blogger Program Budgets

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 12.45.27 PMIt may only be early October but requests are streaming in for 2015 budget projections and counsel. Budgeting for social media is a complex task as it continues to shift quite drastically from year to year and 2015 will be no different. Setting aside dollars for an agency or in-house social media coordinator to execute the work is just the beginning of the story. Teams must now plan for the hard costs of boosting posts, Twitter and LinkedIn advertising, visual asset creation and more. A line item should also exist for ongoing social media and digital training via webinars or conference attendance.

Read more after the jump…

The Oft-Overlooked Boilerplate

I came across this wonderful reminder about the often overlooked and under-appreciated boilerplate today via Ragan.com – “The Secret Formula for Writing Boilerplate.” So often, people want to include everything and the kitchen sink in their company’s boilerplate – or, as Russell Working points out, they want to fill it with flowery-sounding jargon. However, as PR pros, we need to remind clients that boilerplates are meant to be simple, straightforward company descriptions that tell what your company is and what it does.

Read more after the jump…

Weekly Reads – Bringing Content to Life

Expect to see more user-generated content and dynamic visual narratives from branded social media accounts in the near future. Brands that are successful on social have realized the importance of telling an engaging story and bring that content to life through video, text, imagery, data visualization and more. Read on…

Read more after the jump…

Websites and Online Newsrooms are Most Valuable to Reporters

bizwireresearchThe world of public relations is evolving at a rapid rate, with new tools and resources always right around the corner. But that doesn’t mean we should forget about the practices we’ve had in place for years, as it could actually cause companies to miss out on media opportunities. According to recent research conducted by Business Wire, 93 percent of reporters go to company websites to do research, while 77 percent use online newsrooms as a research tool. Both of those numbers are well above the choices of social media (42 percent), trade publications (41 percent), blogs (34 percent) or Wikipedia (32 percent.) What does this mean? Updating and maintaining your online content and newsrooms should be a top priority. Read more after the jump…