Peak Communicators
April 5, 2016

Three Reasons You Should Care About the Latest Instagram Changes

Did you know: the average Instagram user only sees 30 per cent of their newsfeed? As social media continues to evolve as a business tool, Instagram (conveniently owned by Facebook) is likewise making large strides to adopt the business-minded algorithm that Facebook newsfeeds adopted years back. With this in mind, here’s why the new algorithm is going to affect you and your brand a little more than you think it might:

You’re going to have to try a little harder

Any savvy Instagrammer that you currently follow – businesses and brands included – will be battling it out to be categorized in the aforementioned elite 30 per cent. How do you do this? The answer’s never as straightforward as you’d like, but the bottom line is that you simply need to generate more appealing content so you don’t get buried in the other 70 per cent. ‘Likes’ and comments matter now more than ever.

So how does this affect the once-authentic (and chronological) nature of this image-based platform? Plenty if you ask John Mayer

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Turning post notifications on may not be the answer

If you haven’t been living under a rock the past week, you’ll have definitely come across brands begging their followers to turn post notifications on in light of the new algorithm changes. But, as a business, is this really your best and smartest option?

Asking followers to turn notifications on is a big ask and it puts the pressure on you to deliver. If people start to get flooded with too many notifications, the quick fix is – you guessed it – to turn those notifications off.

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The short answer to keeping people engaged with your page is simply to create engaging content that entices people to ‘like’ and comment on. Unfortunately for content creators, this probably means extra brainstorming hours, but if you keep people coming back despite the new algorithms, you’re golden. Just remember: quality > quantity.

The “Golden Age of Advertising” is now

Advertising on social media doesn’t carry the same stigma now that it did when it was first introduced on Facebook, then Twitter. There’s a reason you’re starting to see more sponsored posts on Instagram these days – it pays off.

And, thanks to the new Instagram algorithms, you’re seeing ads from businesses that are deemed interesting and relevant to you based on the people you follow and things you like on Instagram and Facebook.

As a business, considering advertising buys on Instagram isn’t a sign of defeat. It’s a means of generating engagement from an audience that is hand-picked to fit your target market. The ads are also unobtrusive meaning they look just like any other shared image or video. So, while you may be seeing less organic reach in the future, you’ll at least be seeing more lasting engagement.

So, for now, we’re saying goodbye to the chronological Instagram newsfeed users have come to know and love and embracing (or at least trying to) its new algorithms. Above all, keep calm and don’t turn on post notifications…just yet, anyways.

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March 15, 2016

How Does Public Relations Fit into the New Media Reality?

Out with the old, in with the new

Looking back on nearly two decades of public relations work following a 30-year career as a news reporter provides an opportunity to reflect on how PR and the media interact in 2016. The new reality for the news media is there are now fewer people employed to do what, in many cases, is much more work.

After a series of buyouts of senior people, The Vancouver Sun and The Province announced earlier this year that they are merging their newsrooms. What does this mean for PR? Less competition and fewer people to cover news.

Television news that once was confined to slots at noon, supper hour and late newscasts is now delivered 24 hours a day in back to back ‘news wheel’ formats that stretch reporters, editors and videographers to new limits.

A new media frontier

The power of the internet continues to grow, with bloggers having as much or more impact than reporters for mainstream media.

So how does this impact the ability of companies, organizations and public relations professionals to get the message out in the media?

Simply put, the media landscape may have changed dramatically but there are more opportunities and channels than ever for publicity.

Everybody is talking about Donald Trump

Love him or hate him, Trump is a publicity machine. He is getting more media attention than anyone else on earth with radio, television, newspapers and social channels featuring what seems to be a play-by-play of Trump’s latest antics in the Republican presidential candidate race.

Getting noticed still makes or breaks reputations, makes the cash register ring and brings people to the door.

And so, getting your message out with ‘earned’ media – otherwise known as public relations – is still one of the best ways to become known. Although the number of reporters may be contracting, newspapers and television are still hungry for content. The number of social channels grows every day. Trade magazines also abound and every industry is supported by at least one that’s looking for stories.

Do-it-yourself

If you can’t get the media to tell your story through positive news coverage, do it yourself. Have videos produced and tell the story of your own company, your product or your services with words and pictures that matter to your brand. Then, feature it on your website.

Do something amazing and put it on the web via Youtube, Vimeo or Instagram. Send this to everyone you know. If your story goes viral, everyone will know what you want to get across and good things can happen.

 

 

 

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January 26, 2016

30 Social Media Marketing Tips for 2016

Social media is central to many of our campaigns at Peak. We consume news about the impact these channels have and apply our learnings to client projects.

If you’re still struggling to get buy-in on social media, this list of 30 facts provides useful need-to-knows on why engagement is important.

Did You Know?

  1. Over 75 percent of all internet users use social media (source: Makeuseof)
  2. 71 per cent of women use social media compared to 62 percent of men (source: SearchEngineJournal)
  3. 91 percent of brand mentions on social media come from people with fewer than 500 followers and 94 percent of those mentions are positive (source: Business2Community)
  4. 21 percent of consumers will unfollow brands that post repetitive or boring content (source: Social Times)
  5. 89 percent of 18-29 year age group use social media (source: smallbusinesscan) and 84 percent of C-level/VP execs use social media to support purchase decisions (source: smallbusinesscan)

Facebook:

  1. Facebook accounts for 21 percent of all social media referral traffic globally (source: TechCrunch)
  2. Facebook drives 23 percent of all traffic across the internet! (source: Shareaholic)
  3. 189 million of Facebook’s users are ‘smartphone only’ (source: wersm)
  4. 23 percent of users check their accounts at least five times a day (source: SearchEngineJournal)

Pinterest:

  1. 80% of pins are actually re-pins (source: Mashable)
  2. Shoppers referred to a site from Pinterest are 10 percent more likely to buy (source: Socialmediatoday)
  3. Pinterest referrals spend 70 percent more money than visitors referred from non-social channels (source: Socialmediatoday)
  4. Pins with a call to action increase engagement by 80 percent (source: Socialmediatoday)
  5. 80 percent of Pinterest users are women; 50% of all users have children (source: Socialmediatoday)

Twitter:

  1. The fastest growing group of new users on Twitter are aged between 55 and 64 years (source: wersm)
  2. 65 percent of users expect a response on Twitter in less than two hours (source: SearchEngineJournal)
  3. 88 percent of Twitter users are on mobile and 500 million tweets are posted each day (source: Jeff Bullas)

LinkedIn:

  1. LinkedIn has nearly a quarter of a billion users (source: smallbusinesscan)
  2. Only 20 percent of LinkedIn users are under the age of 30 (source: SearchEngineJournal)
  3. 40 percent of B2B buyers say LinkedIn is important when researching technology and services to purchase and 65 percent of B2B companies have acquired a customer through this channel (source: business2community)

Instagram:

  1. More than 70 million photos and videos are sent daily (source: Hootsuite)
  2. 53 percent of internet users aged 18-29 use Instagram (source: Jeff Bullas)
  3. Instagram is considered the most important social network by 32 percent of American teens (source: Hootsuite)
  4. Among top brands Instagram has been adopted by 85 percent (source: Hootsuite)
  5. Brands on Instagram are seeing a per follower engagement rate of 4.21 percent – that’s statistically 58 times higher than Facebook and 120 times higher than Twitter (source: Hootsuite)
  6. Still photos are more popular on Instagram than videos – generating 36 percent more likes (source: Hootsuite)
  7. Posts with at least one hashtag average 12.6 percent more engagement and posts tagged with a location receive 79 percent higher engagement (source: Hootsuite)

Google+:

  1. 18 percent of marketers plan to increase efforts on Google+ this year (source: SearchEngineJournal)
  2. The +1 button is hit 5 billion times per day (source: Jeff Bullas)
  3. Google+ has more than 2.5 billion users but only 10 percent are active (source: smallbusinesscan)

 

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December 4, 2014

The Powerful Vaccine Against the Bad News Flu

People often think of public relations only in marketing terms. How can we use PR to build our brand? If they don’t see an immediate payoff, they ask  why bother? They are missing the link between positive PR and saving the brand during a crisis. Positive PR is like getting a flu shot, it won’t guarantee you don’t get the bad news flu, but it will make the symptoms less severe.

When a crisis hits, the first step reporters take is to type your name and your company’s name into Google. They are looking for a general impression. What another reporter has said about you will be given a great deal of weight. Reporters trust other reporters above all others.

Step two for a reporter is to search your name and the key crisis words like “fire,” “layoffs” or “complaints,” whatever best describes the crisis. They are looking for how you handled previous events and if there are any stories about your preparedness or lack thereof.

They will search all your social media channels, personal and corporate. They will dig hard and they are really good at it.

Within a few minutes they will form a picture of your corporate or personal character and that will frame an approach to the story in the hours, days, or weeks ahead. It is a picture you will find very hard to change during a crisis. For media there is no grey. It’s black and white, you are the good guy or the bad guy, the victim or the perpetrator.

what are they saying about youTry it right now. Search your name, your company’s name. Now search again and add in a crisis word or two. See what comes up. That’s what a reporter will know about you today if bad news strikes in the next few minutes. If you have been keeping a low profile, not telling your positive stories, then reporters will find a void. This void will be filled with bad news when disaster strikes. Your bad news flu just became pneumonia. It might be fatal.

The most overlooked component to effective crisis management is building a positive public reputation in advance of any crisis. You can’t control when a crisis will strike but you can control how you build your reputation in advance of the bad news. This reputation will be the foundation you stand on during the crisis. Create a public perception of your company as a positive member of the community. It will help shape how media and the public will view the crisis story and your efforts to deal with it.

There is an old saying in politics, “If you don’t define yourself, your opponents will define you.” Business is no different. If you don’t define yourself now, the media, your critics or the crisis will do it for you.

Online-Reputation-Management-Like_DislikeAn organization with a good public reputation will take a hit but will weather the crisis better than one that the public first hears about when a crisis has struck and the blame game is in full swing.

Now is the time to get your bad news flu shot.

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July 2, 2014

Email Etiquette 101

Image_hands typing

By now everyone knows to be careful what they share on social media.

Potential and current employers may be monitoring your online activity, or it may be brought to their attention by others who deem your posts inappropriate or offensive. Even corporate social profiles have a heightened sense of what they share after the US Airways NSFW image fiasco, and more recently the Delta Airlines giraffe debacle (get it together airline social media!)

When we share on social channels like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, we know our posts will be broadcast to either the public or to a list of followers we have approved. Emails, however, we often assume are private. Like a phone call, they are typically not intended to be viewed by the general public.

Evan Spiegel, the 23-year-old founder of the billion-dollar app SnapChat, learned that this isn’t always the case, when a number of blatantly sexist emails he sent out to his fraternity during his college days, were publicized on Gawker.com and nearly every major business and technology publication in the days following. I am not here to condemn Mr. Spiegel on his less-than-eloquent language, as it may be argued that he was, and is, a 20-something frat boy uneducated in the impact of language. What I am here to do is remind us that we too could fall victim to embarrassing email mishaps, and provide some simple steps on how to prevent them.

Double check who you’re sending to

A certain member of my family who shall remain nameless once told me how he responded in a not-so-favourable manner after finding out that one of his colleagues would be taking charge of a major project, not realizing that the same person had been cc’d on the email. This resulted in a 45-minute phone call of back pedaling and apologies.

Proofreading the body of an email is second nature for many, but it is also important to make sure you check who exactly you are sending a message to before hitting send.

Image_business man_mistake

Know your audience

You may be quite chummy with clients, reporters or coworkers, but at the end of the day you are involved in a working capacity and a level of professionalism must be maintained when communicating over work email. Be aware that what you share and how you present yourself to these people could have an effect on your rapport with them.

Be wary of your formatting

Tying into the previous point, how you format an email to your mother or best friend should be different to how you format a business email. A proper greeting and signature, punctuation, and a clean font can say a lot about the quality of your work. It’s difficult to take someone seriously in Comic Sans.

Think before you hit send (or at least be prepared to stand by what you say)

At the end of the day, be it on social media or in an email, don’t send something you’d be embarrassed to have publically shared. I’m sure Mr. Snapchat figured his messages would never go beyond the inbox of those in his fraternity, but in a leadership role with his Stanford University chapter there was an expectation of him to have a  level of professionalism, and his subsequent success made him an easy target for dirty laundry airing.

Though most of us won’t go on to create wildly successful phone apps, everyone wants to have a good reputation in the working world. If you are going to say something risqué, be confident in backing that statement if it is ever brought to light.

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March 17, 2014

Kelowna Seminar: Making Communications Work For You

Peak Communicators - Okanagan Seminar for Businesses: “Making Communications Work for You”

Peak Communicators is excited to be partnering with the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce to host two half-day seminars on building, enhancing and protecting your reputation through strong communications initiatives.

Taking place on April 16th at the Capri Hotel, attendees can learn the secret sauce behind building your brand and business. The session will also discuss how to protect your good reputation by identifying an issue before it becomes a crisis and delivering strong messages to internal and external stakeholders and the public.

Other topics to be discussed include:

  • Building a brand and profile through public relations and media initiatives
  • How to find and tell your news and your story
  • Why a crisis communications plan is necessary and how to develop one
  • Issues management and crisis communications
  • Using social media tools to build, enhance and protect reputation

The session will be hosted by two senior Peak consultants, Alyn Edwards and Chris Olsen. Both were news reporters for 30 years and are experts in helping companies tell their stories.

Date: April 16th 2014

Time: Two time options: 8am – midday or 1pm – 5pm

Location: The Capri Hotel, 1171 Harvey Avenue, Kelowna, BC, V1Y 6E8

Room: The ‘Vineyard’ room at the Capri

Cost: The seminar cost is $195 per person or $149 for Kelowna Chamber of Commerce members

Registration: Available online through the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce

Parking: Available on site

If you’d like further information or have questions, please call Peak Communicators on 604.689.5559.

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July 18, 2013

A Picture is Worth Several Hundred Thousand Tweets

1683419-inline-i-2-rolling-stone-cover-boston-bomber

A picture is still worth more than 1000 words.  The furor over the cover of the Rolling Stone proves that once again.

The cover depicts accused Boston Marathon bomber Jahar Tsarnaev but unlike the 1970’s cover of Charles Manson which showed a demonic killer, this cover shows someone who could be the latest teen heartthrob.

Reaction has been swift and damaging to the Rolling Stone’s reputation, a reputation founded on the cache of being on the cover as much for the often profanity laced articles inside.

The PR mistake that Rolling Stone made was failing to understand that emotions were still raw surrounding this terrible event. The editors forgot PR 101, lesson one, people react emotionally to what they see and not what they read.

What they saw and are fixated on is the picture.  The words “bomber” and “monster” don’t come close to balancing that, even in bold, large print.

A picture is still worth more than 1000 words.  In this case it’s worth hundreds of thousands of tweets threatening never to read the magazine again, and some retailers pulling the magazine from circulation so as not to offend their customers.

Having created its own “PR Crisis” the steps that Rolling Stone have taken are good ones:

  • Publishing the entire article so that people can read for themselves that the article does not glorify a “monster”.
  • Giving away its cover story,  so that Rolling Stone is not seen to be benefiting from the controversyRS Charles Manson
  • Acknowledging the bombing victims at the top of the article and explaining why they pursued the story

The article is legitimate. TV entertainment shows do this all the time.  Sometimes entertainment news just becomes news.

In 1970 Rolling Stone published a Charles Manson cover story, but the picture demonized Manson. This one didn’t.  It showed the boy next door or the newest rock star.  The public wanted to see the devil and they saw themselves.

It has been 40 years since Dr. Hook released “The Cover of the Rolling Stone” a song which immortalized what it meant to get on the cover. The public hasn’t forgotten what that means.

If Rolling Stone had a do-over they would pick a different cover.

Will it do permanent damage?

Only time will tell.

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February 28, 2012

Think Integrated, Simple and Achievable

I had the privilege of being a panel expert at NEXT Marketing & Design Agency’s unique BRAND CHATTER event earlier this week. BRAND CHATTER™ is the name coined by NEXT’s CEO, Sandy Gerber – something she uses to describe the buzz around a brand. I joined four other experts in social media, networking and broadcast media. An interesting discussion ensued that gave the 80-strong audience of business owners and marketing directors food for thought. I think the discussion accurately reflected the ever-evolving communications industry – how social media is now a necessity and not really a choice and how the value of traditional media and campaigns is being scrutinized more closely. Business owners now want the most cost-effective options that will create the most buzz and engagement for their brand. So, what’s the answer?

Here are some key take-aways from the discussion:

  • Integrated campaigns are key. As seasoned communications consultants, we should be recommending campaigns that have a mix of traditional PR, social media and, depending on the brand and its objectives, an element of advertising. Word of mouth and networking is still crucial to a brand’s success and should also not be ignored. A lot of brands need to reach multiple audiences so leveraging different channels will help achieve this. That said, it’s important to ensure that communications are always clear and consistent, regardless of the platform.
  • Keep it simple. Be realistic – you can’t be everywhere all the time. And, if you’re a small business, you will have to prioritize what’s best for your brand. Just because other brands are now exploring Pinterest and Google+, shouldn’t automatically mean that you also have to be there. Perhaps Twitter is your best option at present, along with a simple media relations campaign. Building a brand’s reputation takes time and patience.
  • There’s no set formula or template. We were often asked, “where should I be” and “what should I be saying and when?”. The important thing for business owners to realize is that there’s no winning formula that can be applied to every brand. Ultimately, it comes down to what is going to bring you the best ROI. A good consultant should review your vision, objectives, audience, budget and resources and make recommendations off the back of that.
  • Content is still king. It’s an old one but a good one. And it won’t go away. However sophisticated a campaign may sound or cost, it must include compelling and regular content that engages a brand’s audience and makes them want to come back for more and share it with others.
  • Don’t just broadcast your message. Listen to your fans, followers, readers…Whether it’s through social media or more traditional focus groups, letters to the editor, surveys or blog comments, brands should be responding to the needs of their markets and not just shouting how great they are. If you go with the latter, it may well be falling on deaf ears – you will never know. Ambassadors can be a great way to create BRAND CHATTER – they garner interest and credibility – something that can prove priceless.
  • Metrics – this is something every communications professional should feel accountable for. Campaigns can be relatively easy to measure – i.e. number of coverage hits, circulation, readership or the equivalent advertising cost – or metrics can be more difficult to define, especially in the social arena. Still, it’s important that metrics are agreed upon at the outset of a campaign so that everyone involved is aware of what is being used to define success.

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January 17, 2012

FedEx Caught on Camera

You may have seen the shocking YouTube video of a FedEx delivery man throwing a computer monitor over a customer’s gate, uploaded in December.

Within 24 hours, it had received 200,000 views. The story then featured in the Daily Mail and the number of views soared to 4.5 million. Today, the total stands at over 8 million and it has been ‘liked’ 17,000 times.

So how did FedEx deal with the situation?

In the first statement, FedEx condemned the employee’s actions, stating that executives were ‘shocked’. They said the handling of the package was ‘unacceptable’ and vowed to track down the employee responsible.

This is a good initial response. FedEx probably learnt about the incident at the same time as the press so they wouldn’t have had time to investigate. FedEx was also right not to protect the employee; instead they distanced the company’s brand from the individual’s actions.

FedEx’s next move was smart. They created a YouTube video in response – within 48 hours. The speed of their response was critical, helping curb speculation about the incident.

In the video Matthew Thornton, Senior VP at FedEx, said they had met with and apologized to the customer. The company deserves kudos for this; in difficult situations, companies typically communicate with customers via telephone or in writing. Meeting face-to-face is personal and proves FedEx cares about its customers.

Thornton also answered the question everyone asked: what happened to the employee? He explained ‘they’re working within their disciplinary procedures and the employee is not working with customers’. This is a mediocre response. Customers and journalists alike wanted reassurance that the guilty party had been fired. I suspect HR procedures prevented FedEx from providing a stronger response.

Thornton then reminded viewers that the company’s motto is to ‘make every FedEx experience outstanding’. This is good; he uses a difficult situation to reinforce the company’s key messages and its commitment to customers.

Despite this, the footage still damaged the company’s reputation – and consequently it was listed by Forbes as the ‘most brand-damaging viral video of 2011’.

FedEx’s YouTube video also received less than half a million views, a sixteenth of the original video. Clearly bad news travels faster than good.

This incident won’t go away for FedEx and any reoccurring issues will be closely watched by the public eye. However, FedEx can be commended for responding quickly, using YouTube as the channel to respond and meeting the customer face-to-face.

What are your thoughts on FedEx’s response?

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December 21, 2011

PR Predictions for 2012

As another New Year begins, it’s time to consider how PR will change in 2012.

PR is one of the fastest-paced – and fastest changing – industries in the world. The evolving role of the Internet, social networks and new technology affects how people digest news. PR professionals need to respond to this change to ensure clients’ messages reach their intended audience.

So what will happen next year? Here are our predictions:

Content: As the saying goes, ‘Content is King’. This will remain true in 2012. Brands, PRs and journalists alike will strive to source or create unique and compelling content that can be shared, ‘liked’, or re-tweeted via social networks.

Exclusives: Given that breaking news is posted instantaneously online, we expect an increased demand for ‘exclusives’ from print publications. Holding a story until the morning is becoming ever-more important for newspapers.

Print won’t die: There has been much speculation about ‘the death of the newspaper’. This won’t happen in 2012, if ever. People love flicking through a newspaper on a Sunday; the experience cannot be replicated online.

Online content may come at a cost: The Wall Street Journal and The Times are trialling ‘paid-for’ only access to their online content. Given the current dependency on advertising and the looming double-dip recession, we may see Canadian newspapers follow suit to increase their cash flow.

Consumer power: Consumers now have a platform to quickly and collectively lobby companies via social networks; expect to see them capitalize on this opportunity with increasing frequency.

Crises: With the increasing speed of information dissemination, the number and pace of crises will intensify. Companies that do not respond immediately will be criticized.

ROI: The need to demonstrate ROI will increase with the uncertainty of the economy; budgets will tighten and C-suite executives will want clear evidence of ROI before investing further in PR. New tools for measurement may be developed as a consequence.

Pitching: Expect to pitch to journalists more regularly via Twitter and Google Plus; it’s an easy way to get journalists’ attention.

Gadgets: Tablets, particularly the iPad, are changing the way people read news. More magazines will develop apps where readers can interact with the content (e.g. clicking on a revolving image to get a 360 degree perspective).

Government regulations: Expect greater transparency in lobbying activity, particularly in British Columbia. This follows a public education campaign by the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists raising awareness of the hefty fines lobbyists face for not registering their undertakings.

Do you have other predictions to add?

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