Peak Communicators
September 13, 2017

Victoria Ullrich

Sector experience

Sports, Corporate and Social Enterprise

Career background

I spent two seasons working for the Vancouver Canucks. In my second year with the Canucks I joined the Media Relations Department, where I honed in on my passion for the industry.

Education

Bachelors of Arts (B.A.) Majoring in Communications with a Minor in Print & Digital Publishing and Co-operative Education Distinction from Simon Fraser University

Volunteer experience

I currently volunteer with the Canucks for Kids Fund.

If you were going to write an autobiography, what would it be called? 

The best is yet to come: a tale of pushing yourself to achieve your dreams.

Career highlight

Profiling families who benefit from the Canucks for Kids Fund (CFKF) in order to raise awareness and funds for the cause. Meeting these deserving families and sharing their stories was a heartwarming experience.

Favourite part of Peak life

The people! Peak nurtures a positive and collaborate environment, with ample opportunity to develop and grow professionally.

Favourite social media site

Instagram

Favourite B.C. pastime 

Hiking

Secret talent 

I have a great memory when it comes to song lyrics, my friends call me a walking karaoke machine.

July 13, 2017

A simple guide to your social media plan

Identify your social media goals

Having a clear direction or end goal to your social media plan is key to determining your strategy and how you measure your return on investment (ROI). To set this up, you need to understand your company’s overall business goals, as well as their marketing / PR objectives. Ideally, a social media plan plays a part in achieving your company’s overall business goals (eg. increasing ticket sales, generating online transactions on an e-commerce website, or breaking into a new market).

Create a content calendar

Keeping your social media accounts active with relevant and quality content is key to being noticed in densely populated platforms. More than 60 million businesses worldwide now have a Facebook page, and each and every one of them are aiming to grow their following. A social media content calendar is an easy way to organize your content strategy and ensure that your company is publishing new (and relevant) ideas regularly.

Social Listening

To judge how well your social strategy is working, monitor the activity around your accounts and listen to how audiences are engaging with you.  Firstly though, make sure you know what you know what you want to listen for. There are approximately 6,000 tweets sent in the twitter world every second, so understanding the language around an issue will make it quicker and easier to find the relevant ones.

Using social media listening tools helps you understand what is being said about your business, your brand, and popular topics within your industry. You can even listen in on what your competitors are saying, how they are engaging with their followers, who their followers are, and how their followers are responding to their content.

Engagement

Now that you’re listening and monitoring your conversations, don’t forget the most important part of social media — engagement. Social media is a powerful communications tool and has revolutionized the way business and brands reach their customers / stakeholders. Engaging with your followers or audience goes towards boosting your brand and reputation in the social sphere.

Analytics and Reporting

Arguably, the most important part of any social media plan is the analytics and reporting. The only way to show value in your social media plan is to demonstrate ROI. For example, if your social media goal is to drive traffic to your website, keep track of these numbers using Google Analytics. Try your best to track absolutely everything based on what your ROI would look like. Report on what social users like and don’t like. Generating reports periodically will help you evaluate your social strategy on an ongoing basis, and guide you to tweaking it so you can achieve your social goals.

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May 10, 2017

Did a hashtag cost the BC Liberals a majority government?

It was a brief encounter, only a few seconds, typical of an election campaign when a busy leader meets a non-supporter at a public event and brushes them aside.  Liberal leader Christy Clark abruptly terminated a conversation with a retiree named Linda as Clark walked though the Lonsdale Quay.  It was captured by media following the election.  #IamLinda was born.

An error by zealous Liberal party members to try to make it look like Linda was an NDP plant resulted in a backlash and #IamLinda went viral.  As the campaign wore on, while it was considered an embarrassing moment, few pundits thought it would have much impact when there were other larger issues for the electorate to consider.  On election night, the Liberal incumbent in the North Van Lonsdale was soundly defeated and the BC Liberals came up one seat short of a majority.

There is a risk in giving too much credit to a single event, even one which goes viral however there are PR lessons in this that go beyond politics.

Everyone is watching and they have the evidence.  The safest assumption for a politician, a company or an individual is that everything you do is being observed and recorded.  Incidents take on global implications when captured on a cell phone camera.  Airlines forcibly removing passengers may have resulted in a letter to the editor 20 years ago.  Now everyone sees the evidence and the damage is ongoing.

Small events become big ones if you miss handle them.  #IamLinda shows how a very minor incident can be made much worse if it is mishandled.  These types of encounters happen every time a politician from any party goes out in the public and it almost never gets reported.  But when unfounded accusations are made against a citizen expressing an opinion it becomes social media news even if Linda doesn’t want it to go that far.

Swift corrective action is necessary.   It took six days for BC Liberals to admit their allegations were wrong.  That is nearly one-quarter of the election campaign.  Finding a picture on the internet of Linda and an NDP politician is not evidence of anything more than a citizen who is interested in politics.  Jumping to a wrong conclusion and not correcting it immediately made matters many times worse.

When things go viral – an apology is the best course of treatment. Social media spreads information like a virus and it spreads negative information faster and farther.  United Airlines problems became a global pandemic.  In an election campaign you can’t be sure about the damage until the votes are counted.  For a business you don’t know until you start adding up your sales.  Time is not your friend.  The old adage time heals is now only true if you put the apology Band-Aid on the wound.

Information is permanent and access is democratic (for the most part).  This is a lesson which we will see played out in the coming weeks.  Normally after an election the platform, the policies of a party are soon forgotten only to be resurrected in election attack ads four years later.  A minority government keeps those principles front and centre.  A minority government is by its nature is one of compromise.  Principles often move aside in favour of doing something “for the good of the province.”  This presents a danger to the Greens who doubled their vote, and tripled their seat count.  They have momentum but on the big visible issues they are not in alignment with either major party.   This is what makes the coming weeks so fascinating.  The Greens principles and vision is there for all to see and any compromise, even for the good of the province can easily be misunderstood.  The hashtags are probably already being written.

April 12, 2017

Navigating through the social media storm

Most of the world now knows about the “United Airlines incident” after a video of a 69-year-old passenger being forcibly removed from his seat went viral earlier this week.

The video, shot from another passenger’s phone, showed clearly the screaming man being dragged down the aisle, leaving him bloodied and terrified – along with the over- booked flight of witnesses.

Within hours of the video being captured, #United was the leading hashtag worldwide on Twitter. Even in China, where Twitter and Facebook don’t exist, more than 97,000 comments had been recorded on one Weibo post by the end of the day, along with a new hashtag #Chineselivesmatter.

Following the Twitter (and Weibo) eruption of the United Airlines incident, we’re reminded us just how vital a solid social media communications strategy is to any business, particularly in the event of a crisis.

When a crisis does hit a business, social media excels as a way to spread news in a quick and efficient manner. Bad news will always travel fast, and these days it’s likely to gain traction on social platforms before the traditional media get to it. It’s important to have steps in place to manage reaction in the midst of a social media storm and how monitoring early warning alerts of any change in volume or sentiment around your brand will give your team a chance to prepare for what’s coming.

When tackling a social media crisis, I believe there are 5 essential steps that need to be included in any PR plan:

  1. Plan ahead.

Even if you can’t predict what might set off a social media meltdown, the steps you will need to take are the same: Respond, reassure, research, respond again, and react. Your plan needs to state how you will do this within the tight time demands of social media. Who gets notifications? Who can access the Twitter account? How slow is your approval process? Who has final sign off? Contact details for spokespeople? Have pre-approved statements available, this will make the reaction process far more manageable.

  1. Listen.

Every business should have social and media monitoring set up to capture what is being said about its brand so that if there’s a spike in negativity, or an emerging issue, you can react instantly. Frankly, a Google alert isn’t really sufficient. For effective monitoring, you need to pin point what it is you want to listen for. There are 6000 tweets sent every second, so understanding the language around an issue will make it quicker and easier to find the relevant ones. Successful monitoring should include daily reporting, early warning alerts if there is a change in volume or sentiment, or mentions from highly influential critics.

  1. Prepare your posts.

When something happens, you need to be out, publicly, with a response in about 10 minutes. Have a holding tweet at the ready, or a post that acknowledges that something has happened – even if you can’t give out specifics, being the first to acknowledge a situation can go a long way. Even a post that says “We understand an incident has occurred. We are finding out more information and will update in 10 minutes” is better than nothing.

  1. Pick your platform.

Twitter is the place for breaking news. Facebook is the place for connecting and seeking feedback. Instagram should not be used anywhere near a corporate crisis. Understanding the difference of your social media platforms and having sufficient followers to ensure you can engage when needed is important.

  1. Respond swiftly and carefully.

It is essential that in any situation involving your business, you are the first person to weigh in and that you have the right information on hand. If you do something wrong admit, apologize, and accept responsibility. The sooner you do, the less likely that your original stuff up will spiral out of control. It’s important to not add fuel to the fire. Understand how your situation is being reacted to on social media and plan your responses accordingly. Even if you do believe your actions are justified, pause to think about how they are perceived.

Chances are, your business is not in the habit of dragging people out of plane seats while being filmed on a smartphone, but there are lessons in United’s response for everyone.

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April 6, 2017

Moving beyond ‘key messages’, the value of an authentic narrative

At its core, public relations are about storytelling and now more than ever brands need to have a powerful and compelling story to engage and mobilize their audiences.

The trouble is, storytelling has its limitations. In today’s saturated communications marketplace, where information is digested in smaller sizes and competing against more channels, the ability for a story to engage and retain an audience is becoming increasingly difficult. Furthermore, technology has expanded the ability of audiences to digest information, so brands must find a more meaningful means to deliver a coherent and credible message.

Moving beyond storytelling

Brands today must move beyond segmented campaigns and episodic storytelling and develop a narrative, an central thematic that is the basis of the brand’s identity and strategy. A foundational idea that encompasses and forms all areas of a brand’s engagement across its myriad of channels and stakeholders, be it employees; consumers, traditional media, social influencers, policy makers, etc. A company’s narrative should tell everyone what it stands for and offers an idea for those stakeholders to connect with and align behind.

Today, public relations, corporate relations, publicists and marketers are all competing to engage the same audiences through more integrated means – paid, earned, social and owned – meaning that messaging needs to be not only engaging but also consistent across the various streams, and most important of all, in real time.

Brands must lead conversations

Digital and social media platforms have changed the way brands engage with their audiences. Communication no longer flows in a single direction; audiences are now feeding back to companies on a constant basis. Brands must now lead “conversations”, interacting with their audiences in real time, which has quantifiable impact on their reputation.

Brands lead the conversation

Proactively driving engagement is now an absolute. While engaging with audiences across these various channels, brands need to utilize a coherent narrative, one that provides clarity and consistency of that engagement. The ability to communicate a compelling, inclusive and consistent narrative has the power to inspire, energize and mobilize an audience in ways our industry never thought possible.

How to develop a strong narrative

  • Have a real understanding of the brand’s purpose and its values. Consumers today are more value driven than ever before. How a company is trying to achieve its objective, is as important as what it is trying to achieve. Ensure your narrative seeks to explain what the brand stands for and what is it is seeking to achieve.
  • The narrative must be relatable and easy to explain. To maintain the attention of audiences, a narrative cannot be bogged down in jargon. A strong narrative is based on fact and is not only persuasive but also easily repeatable.
  • Be inclusive and insightful. Narratives need to evoke an emotional connection and invite participation. It presents an idea for an audience to believe in, support, and ultimately recommend.

In our hyper-completive, over-saturated communications environment, being able to portray a potent and authentic narrative has the power to genuinely connect with an audience, inspire them to action, and lead them on a journey.

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March 29, 2017

Grace Carpenter

Sector experience

Government relations, Mining and Energy, Arts and entertainment

Career background

Prior to moving to Vancouver I worked as a public relations consultant in Perth, on the west coast of Australia. I predominantly worked with clients in government, corporate, arts and entertainment sectors.  My broad skills and knowledge base includes social media management, government relations, community engagement, event management, relationship management and media relations.

Education

Bachelor of Arts, Public Relations and Journalism – Curtin University

Career highlight

Part of the team that won The Australasian Consultancy of the Year at the 2015 Asia-Pacific SABRE Awards.

Favourite B.C past time

Exploring the city and B.C. in general.

Favourite social media site

Instagram

Furthest flung place you’ve lived? 

Australia

Languages

English

Random fact

Muay Thai enthusiast

March 29, 2017

Tiffany Lau

Sector experience

Government, non-profit, social enterprise

Career background

Prior to joining Peak, I’ve had experience working in both international and local communications agencies. With an events heavy background, I’ve been involved with conferences such as the 2014 OMG Social Media conference; trade shows across the lower mainland; and the annual Rogers Santa Claus Parade.

Education

Bachelors of Arts (B.A.), Communication studies from Simon Fraser University

Volunteer experience

Canadian Public Relations Society of Vancouver

British Columbia Chapter of the American Marketing Association

Career highlight

Before any experience in the industry and while I was still a student, I tried to teach myself media relations by reading articles on Forbes and other business magazines. My first media hit was with Tammy Moyer on News1130’s morning show – a thrill that I’ve been chasing since!

Favourite part of Peak life

The supportive environment and team collaboration.

Favourite social media site

Snapchat

Furthest flung place you’ve lived? 

Melbourne, Australia

Languages

English, Cantonese

Random fact

One of my most memorable travel stories has to do with accidentally stepping on sea urchins in Thailand – it is probably the most physically painful experience I’ve had so far (trust me, it hurts!).

March 29, 2017

Tiffany Lau

Sector experience

Government, non-profit, social enterprise

Career background

Prior to joining Peak, I’ve had experience working in both international and local communications agencies. With an events heavy background, I’ve been involved with conferences such as the 2014 OMG Social Media conference; trade shows across the lower mainland; and the annual Rogers Santa Claus Parade.

Education

Bachelors of Arts (B.A.), Communication studies from Simon Fraser University

Volunteer experience

Currently, I am involved with the Canadian Public Relations Society of Vancouver.

Career highlight

Before any experience in the industry and while I was still a student, I tried to teach myself media relations by reading articles on Forbes and other business magazines. My first media hit was with Tammy Moyer on News1130’s morning show – a thrill that I’ve been chasing since!

Favourite part of Peak life

The supportive environment and team collaboration.

Favourite social media site

Snapchat

Furthest flung place you’ve lived? 

Melbourne, Australia

Languages

English, Cantonese

Random fact

One of my most memorable travel stories has to do with accidentally stepping on sea urchins in Thailand – it is probably the most physically painful experience I’ve had so far (trust me, it hurts!).

 

March 29, 2017

Nick Anstee

Sector experience

Predominantly in retail, music, ticketing and technology

Career background

I have spent much of my career working in communications agencies in London, account managing fully integrated campaigns and media pitching for five to 10 clients at any one point. Hallmark clients include Nokia/Microsoft Mobile, Canada Goose, Puma, Casio G-SHOCK, Amazon and Patagonia.

Education

Leeds Metropolitan University – BA Hons (2:1) Marketing and Public Relations

Volunteer experience

Working annually at fundraising events for Medical Detection Dogs (UK). A charity that trains dogs to detect changes in an individual’s personal odor triggered by their disease (Cancer, Diabetes and others).

If you were going to write an autobiography, what would it be called? 

There and back again: An intrepid look into the soul of an English fella.

Career highlight

Landing a national primetime broadcast slot for my client by hijacking the viral sensation of the blue or gold dress debate.

Favourite part of Peak life

Bouncing ideas off my colleagues and seeing if it sticks or what comes back.

Favourite social media site

Instagram – it is experiencing such growth in the retail and brand sphere currently and also evolving influencer roles in the marketing mix.

Furthest flung place you’ve lived? 

London

Favourite B.C. pastime 

Skiing, climbing and enjoying the great outdoors.

Secret talent 

Flipping and catching beer mats in one movement – my record is 27.

Random fact

As a toddler I went wondering from a restaurant table in Spain – my parents found me sitting on Steffi Graf’s knee.

 

 

January 9, 2017

4 Unavoidable PR Trends for 2017

As we usher in 2017, the impact of digital and social media is only going to continue to grow. As digital news is more instant, searchable and accessible, more and more people are gravitating to the online world and using social channels to find content specific to their interests. Newsrooms also shrank in 2016, allowing for less specialized journalists and the rise of influencers. So what do we foresee coming ahead for 2017? Below is a list of what to look for and how to prepare for it.

Influencers continue to be King

Since more people are choosing to read online news that is filtered to meet their interests, influencers have become instrumental to brand marketing and PR efforts. A Nielsen survey found in 2013 that 92 percent of people trust recommendations from family and friends. While this may not seem surprising, Twitter revealed, in a similar study in 2016, that their users trust online influencers nearly as much as their friends and family.

Finding authentic advocates who already connect with your followers, and who are within your brand’s target audience, will increasingly become the best option for earned media. How do we prepare for this? Start doing some research into which influencers reach your target audience, and reach out to them. Figure out what they like and what they post, and tailor pitches to meet their needs.

Contributor marketing and thought leadership will grow

As audiences trust influencers more and more, it will be integral to build thought leadership for your brand, positioning yourself as an influencer in your field. If the audience feels that your brand/spokesperson is a subject matter expert in the product/service you are offering, you will remain top of mind.

Further, as newsrooms continue to shrink, a trend we have seen for the past few years, more content will be created by contributors who are thought leaders in their field. With less staff to conduct research and dedicate time to individual stories, many news teams are also looking for expert advice in their pieces. Positioning yourself as a thought leader will not only allow for earned media coverage and brand recognition, it will allow you to influence how the story is told.

Visuals will become a necessity

Over the past year we saw a rise not only in social media, but in live video. Snapchat (or Snap Inc. as it’s now referred to) became a force to be reckoned with and Facebook Live and Instagram Stories were born. As live video exploded in 2016, we can only see it continuing to dominate conversations this year as more news moves to the Internet. In an era of information overload, brands will have to provide content that is simple to grasp, personable and compelling enough to capture the short attention span of the audience today. That can be done most efficiently through strong visuals and live video. Videos and visuals are also easily shared through social media, allowing for a wider reach.

Facts and case studies are a must

If there was one lesson learned in 2016, it was that fake news will not be tolerated. With the many fake news scandals this past year, news outlets are going to be much more diligent about the information they put out. News stories are going to now be backed up by industry specialists, and articles are going to be written by contributors with knowledge in the specific area. Additionally, pitch notes are going to have to be supported by solid facts, and new products accompanied by user reviews and well researched case studies.

In 2017, news and online content will only become further curated for individual audiences. As a result, influencers will be the gatekeepers for brands, and content must be engaging and factual. Our advice? Brush up those social profiles, build strong relationships with influencers, establish a thought leadership program and create engaging, thoughtful and compelling content.

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