Social media is still a relatively new phenomenon and the features are constantly being updated. PR professionals should consider how these changes impact or enhance their campaigns.
Below is a round-up of recent ‘need to know’ social media news this fall.
Dislike is the new thing
Facebook announced that soon a ‘dislike’ button will launch. Mark Zuckerberg explained that the new function would allow people to show ‘empathy’.
Brands need to pay attention to this; consumers will be able to voice their dislike for campaigns with a simple click of a button. Brands will make headlines for the wrong reasons when a campaign backfires as a result of this function.
Twitter is making its ‘Buy’ button available to everyone in the US, as a result of a partnership with Stripe. This is great news for online retailers and enhances the importance of Twitter as a customer service channel – the more followers you have, the more likely customers are to make an instant purchase.
The value for this activity will be measurable based on sales directly through the Twitter platform – this will make it easier getting buy-in for social media at the executive level.
Retailers should enhance their social media plans to develop an engaged, relevant and sizeable following on Twitter as a result.
Pinterest announced in September that it had hit the 100 million users’ milestone. Out of this number, around 70 per cent are considered to be ‘actively’ engaged. The company also confirmed that while Pinterest users are predominantly women, the gender gap is closing month by month.
The benefit of Pinterest for brands is people are often browsing the site for items they potentially want to buy; it is often treated like a shop window. Advertisers can proactively pay for promotional pins now and this feature will become more valuable as the number of users grow.
Pose for a portrait
Instagram is moving away from simply showcasing square images; now users can choose to post portrait or landscape photos. This is generally better for brands. Images won’t need to be compromised to fit the square frames, and will be better for accommodating specific brand guidelines.
At Peak Communicators we monitor for these social media updates daily and consider how they can be used in client campaigns. We’ll continue to share relevant updates via this blog and also our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin).
Communicating well in writing is one of the most important skills you can have, whether your job formally involves writing or not. At Peak we’re constantly striving to create engaging content for our clients: blog posts, white papers, reports, articles, tweets. The list goes on.
Once you know your purpose and audience, you need to get some words on the page. Here’s how.
Fill your brain
Before I can write about a topic, I need to know what I’m talking about. Once I’ve processed the background information, it’s much easier to synthesize cohesive arguments and writing goes a lot more smoothly. To organize my thoughts, I create a text file devoted solely to research and notes. In here I copy and paste relevant information I find online, any ideas that occur to me as I’m researching, and raw quotes from individuals I interview. If you come up with key points or sections you want to convey in your piece, put them in here.
Dump your brain
The biggest inspiration killer for me is setting rules or expectations for my piece of writing at the beginning of the creative process. Instead, just write down whatever’s on your mind. Set a time limit and keep typing until your timer goes off. If you think of a phrase that sums up what you want to communicate, put that at the top and work to it, but don’t feel limited by it. While you’re doing this, there will be additional questions that come up. Whenever I feel a brain blank about a topic, I highlight it so I can come back to it later, like so: [insert in-depth description of the process here]. Then I continue writing about something else.
At this stage, value quantity over quality. Only in the editing stages should you polish this piece. Beware of correcting grammar and restructuring sentences. Just dump your ideas.
Fit the pieces together
Now it’s time to determine which ideas you’re going to keep and how you’re going to sequence them.
Once I think I have sufficient content on the page to start putting my ideas in order, I create a new document and save the research doc as-is. It gives me peace of mind because my research and ideas notes are always there for reference. It’s an assurance that frees me to use this new first draft document to experiment with order, change wording and delete with abandon.
Defining sections is a handy way of designing the big-picture information flow for your piece. As you determine your sections, insert subheadings and make sure you put only information related to that subject into that section. You don’t have to keep these headings in the final piece.
Once I have these headings, I shuffle my research, quotes and idea fragments into the different sections.
As you’re doing this, delete irrelevant information mercilessly. Shorten and rephrase cumbersome sentences that are essential. Cut out redundant information, or synthesize it with the bits you want to keep. If there are phrases that don’t fit anywhere but you like them, keep them at the end in an Extras section. Later you can delete them forever, or bring them back from purgatory as supporting points.
If you’re using info from an interview you did for the piece, use quotes very selectively. Quotes should insert information you couldn’t deliver any other way, such as your interviewee’s colourful opinion, interesting phrasing or their retelling of an experience.
Continue to insert your notes as you go through, highlighted like so: [insert better transition sentence here].
Let it sit
If you can, take a couple days off.
Kill your darlings
Come back with fresh eyes and a taste for blood and slash anything that doesn’t support your points. Zero in on anything that sounds awkward or doesn’t make sense and tinker with it until it works, or remove it.
This piece of writing is not about you. Remember your audience and write the piece with their interests in mind. Show your sentences no mercy.
Whittle and polish
Your piece has structure and it’s streamlined. It’s nearly done. Now it’s time to tweak the small stuff. If you fiddle with the details before this stage, you risk wasting your time crafting exquisite sentences about irrelevant points that get trashed.
Do any remaining research and fact checking
Make sure there are clear transitions between each idea
Use active voice whenever possible
Clarify long and/or convoluted sentences into concise thoughts
Vary sentence lengths
Replace vague phrases with specific ones
Include illustrative examples where relevant
Think your piece is good to go?
Here are some final tests to make sure it’s bulletproof:
Get someone else’s feedback
Read it aloud
Leave it alone again and come back in a week
It’s usually better to publish something that’s less than perfect than to leave it sitting forever unpublished with the hope of someday achieving perfection. Ain’t no such thing. After you’ve done your due diligence to ensure the piece makes sense, let it loose.
It helps me be more creative when I remember not to take myself so seriously. The quality of your writing doesn’t reflect your personal worth. If the article turns out bad, learn from your mistakes and take them into account next time. Once you’re OK with the worst-case scenario that this might be the worst thing you’ve ever written, you’ll feel freer to put words on the page.
MR MIKES SteakhouseCasual launched a brand awareness campaign called ‘Mikes Unite’ to gather a record number of Mikes and Michaels in Regina. The campaign raised $30,550 in support of KidSport. Donations went back to kids in all 26 MR MIKES communities in Western Canada.
F-Pacific Optical Communications Co. Ltd. announced the establishment of their North American headquarters in Vancouver and plans to open a new manufacturing plant in Surrey that would create 200 jobs. The campaign resulted in over 50 pieces of coverage, equating to over 47 million impressions.
Peak Communicators is a green office, and I mean that in both the literal and figurative sense.
The walls are green, the carpet is green, our logo has green in it, as does some of our office supplies, and there are a few pieces of greenery around the office.
Sometimes we also wear green.
But green isn’t just one of Peak’s brand colours. When it comes to environmental practices, green is our mantra.
While we work hard all year to be environmentally sustainable, here’s a look at what makes the Peak offices green and eco-friendly in the spirit of Earth Day:
1) Car-free commute: Whether it’s by foot, bike or transit (shout out to bus 241!), the overwhelming majority of us Peakers saunter in via an Earth-friendly mode of transportation. We forgive Alyn for driving because he’s kind of a notorious ‘car guy,’ and because Chris offsets Alyn’s drive by telecommuting in from Kelowna.
2) Organic waste recycling: We received our compost bin a few weeks ago and the announcement raised a round of email cheers from the staff. Clearly we’re all about composting because we fill that bin up every single day.
3) Paper recycling: We’re media people and therefore we read all of the daily local and national newspapers. But with great power comes great responsibility, so we happily turn around and recycle them (almost) as quickly as we read them
4) Reusable dishes and containers: Those of us who cook at home bring our lunches in reusable containers and will use the office dishes to chow down. Also, Peak generously provides us with our morning coffee and tea (that doesn’t come from k-cups, and which gets recycled after brewing/steeping), so we keep some of those disposable cups from the local coffee shops out of the landfill by using our ceramics.
Hundreds of buyers lined-up at the WestStone Properties Evolve sales centre for an opportunity to buy a home in the 35-storey concrete condo tower in Surrey, which boasts prices starting at $93,900 during pre-construction.
The public relations and social media landscapes are constantly changing and, sometimes, it’s hard to keep up. One way to help stay up-to-date with new techniques and tools is by learning from bright public relations and social media professionals around you. I recently attended a YVR PR Roundtable – a casual meet up group for public relations (PR) pros in Vancouver – and the crew introduced some interesting PR and social media tools that are worth sharing. Although there are many more uses for each tool listed below, I wanted to give an example of how each tool could be used in a PR campaign.
o What it does: curates the best new products on one website; the most popular products are positioned at the top of the site.
o Useful for: gaining momentum for product launches.
These are just a few of the many PR and social media tools on the market today that help communications pros garner top tier results for their company and clients. To keep up with the latest PR and social media trends, connect with YVR PR on Facebook and Twitter.