Archive for Association News

Breakout 1D: Social Media Use in the 2016 Presidential Campaign: What’s Worked and What We Can Expect

Blogger: Amanda Handley (Capital Chapter)

Social Media Use in the 2016 Presidential Campaign: What’s Worked and What We Can Expect
Presented by: Lawrence J. Parnell, Assocate Professor and Program Director, Master’s in Strategic PR at The George Washington University

Larry Parnell, from George Washington University, opened his session by joking that he was “far away from Washington to be an expert” on all things politics.  His discussion of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and their use of media in the 2016 Presidential Campaign primarily focused on the results of two research efforts. One study is from Pew and the other is the PEORIA Project (Public Echoes of Rhetoric in America). The PEORIA Project’s goal is to understand how voters react to campaign messages. As a side note, Parnell recommended Pew Research as a free resource as all of the studies they conduct are free to the public.

Website Content:

The Pew research referenced in this session showed that Trump is relying heavily on earned media (holding many press conferences, etc.) with the vast majority of his content connecting to news articles and video clips published by traditional media outlets. Clinton is focusing her efforts on owned media (her website and social media pages). In fact, 80 percent of the links on Clinton’s site connect to campaign-produced content, most of which is written by former journalists. One commonality, though, is that like President Obama, both camps are relying on social media to control campaign outreach.

How this election looks different:

  • Unlike the 2008 and 2012 campaigns, this election is focused on a controlled message, which means that there is very little dialogue on the websites – there are no calls for comments on articles or for feedback about how stances impact.

  • None of the campaign websites have pages set up specifically for demographic groups (Latinos, African-Americans, women, etc.) Instead, campaigns are letting voters research issues that are important to them (instead of assuming that all women are concerned about healthcare and so on).

  • The use of video is dramatically increased from previous election cycles. Clinton is posting up to five videos daily, and Trump posts at least one. There are several factors influencing this change:

    • Today’s technology makes it easier to create and edit your own videos. You no longer need a full production team to produce a video. Anyone can shoot one and post it online.

    • Campaign staffs are more tech-savvy.

Social Media:

Although both Clinton and Trump are actively engaged on social media, there are some significant differences in how they use social media. Parnell focused mainly on the differences in the utilization of Twitter. Items of note:

  • Only Trump actively retweets other content. And 78 percent of his retweets were from the public and his supporters.

  • Both Trump and Clinton had millions of followers when they announced their respective candidacies, putting them well ahead of the other candidates.

  • Since early May, Trump’s social engagement has mirrored his earned media coverage numbers.

  • Twitter followers can be an asset. Trump used his Twitter to close the gap between him and Hillary Clinton and to get ahead of the rest of the GOP primary field. Additionally, Bernie Sanders effectively utilized Twitter to spread his message and close the gap between him and his primary opponent, Clinton.

Application to Strategic PR:

  • Sponsored content is growing in use. It’s extremely low cost, making it an effective play for many candidates.

  • There is a reduced dependency on traditional media to communicate messages and to impact public opinion. This has real implications for media relations and the media itself.

  • Engagement and followers are key measures for success. However, it is imperative to assess why they follow you and determine if they support you or are just curious.

  • The increased use of video is an effective means of message delivery. It reduces dependency on traditional broadcast media, and consumers (voters) accept it and share it with friends, creating a viral impact.

  • Twitter is a valuable means to offset a strong, well-funded opponent or competitor. (See: Bernie Sanders.)

  • Media coverage shared on Twitter can build followers.

Use Caution:

  • Retweeting requires extra diligence. Retweets imply endorsement, so it’s imperative that you vet what you retweet.

  • Don’t confuse followers with supporters. Just because someone follows you doesn’t mean they support you.

  • Avoiding the media and relying too heavily on sponsored and owned content is a calculated risk.

    • The media will defend itself if you ignore it or challenge it. They may pile on when the opportunity presents itself. (See: Trump and Washington Post, Clinton and the email catastrophe, Clinton and Benghazi, and Trump and questionable business dealings.)

Final Thoughts:

Dana Perino, former White House Press Secretary, has said that as a public relations professional, it’s your job to advocate for your client to the media. But it’s also your job to advocate for the media to your client. You need to help your clients understand that the media can be helpful. After all, media relations is about relationships.

Questions:

  1. Is Trump’s constant retweeting strategic or just laziness?

    1. Likely laziness. However, he does have a very small staff. And, Trump also appears to only be concerned about being in the news, not what the sentiment of those stories are.

  2. Are you seeing a shift/trickle-down in local elections?

    1. Yes because it’s a really cost-effective way of reaching people.

    2. However, people will still be doing town halls etc., because this provides them with content.

  3. Does paid media placement matter? Do you need to place your ads in reputable sources like the New York Times?

    1. He doesn’t know for sure, but it doesn’t appear to matter. People do not appear to be vetting the sources of where they get their “news.”

  4. Do you think Trump’s advisors cringe when he speaks or do you think it’s part of their strategy because it seems to work?

    1. Not sure, but the biggest challenge in our profession is finding the right way, time, and place to say, “That wasn’t good.”

  5. Do you think it’s calculated that their messaging appears to be aimed only at their base?

    1. Yes, but it’s a dangerous choice because – as of right now – Trump’s base alone isn’t enough to get him elected. He’ll need more voters than just his base.

  6. Is this election an anomaly or an indication of where we’re going as a nation?

    1. It depends on the results of the election.

ParnellLawrence J. Parnell, M.B.A., is an associate professor and director of the George Washington University Master’s in Strategic Public Relations program, named the best PR Education Program for 2015 by PR Week. During a 34-year career in the private and public sectors, he has worked in government, corporate and consulting segments, and national political campaigns. He was recognized as PR Professional of the Year in 2003 by PR Week, and was named to the PR News Hall of Fame in 2009. In addition to his work at GW, he operates Parnell Communications, a boutique consultancy specializing in executive communication, strategy development and organizational effectiveness.

 

Breakout 1B: Feeding the Beast: Launching a Content-Hungry Website

Blogger: Brandi Gomez (Pensacola Chapter)

Feeding the Beast: Launching a Content-Hungry Website
Presented by: Nicole C. Yucht, Assistant Vice President, UF Communications, University of Florida

In the breakout session Feeding the Beast: Launching a Content-Hungry Website, Nicole Yucht shared the knowledge and process of planning and creating the University of Florida’s new and improved website.

The University of West Florida had what was described as a “dated” and “non-user friendly” website used primarily by students and faculty. Realizing the end goal of appealing to prospective students and parents, the University of Florida took to researching and starting the process of launching a new website.

They first identified their end goals. What did they want the main focus of the university website to be about? They decided on the three S’s: Stature, Students, and Support. During the entire planning process, if an aspect or idea did not fit into one of these categories, then it was not going to be included on the site. In the end, everything needed to link back to the mission and goal…To engage prospective students and highlight successes of the university outside of football. Then the fun began….

DISCOVERY –  Researched and spoke to current users to identify issues

  • Talked to intern audience about what they used the site for
  • Spoke to parents, prospective parents, alumni

  • Through study, they found that their site currently focused 75% on internal audiences and 25% on external audiences

STRATEGY – Identifying audiences and focus sectors

  • Had to make sure the content fit the audience

  • Shift in focus: Their new focuses would be 85% external and %15 internal

  • Identified two different audiences: Explorers (prospective undergrads, parents, guidance counselors, and families) and Familiars (current student, faculty, staff, etc.)

CONTENT PLAN – How often content is updated

  • Primary News – updated weekly

  • Secondary News – daily

  • Social – live

As we all know in public relations, results are key…and preferably positive results. When Nicole looked at the analytics of the newly launched site for the University of Florida, she found their usage went down in views by 18 percent. Feeling discouraged, Nicole said she remembered the initial goals she made to shift the focus to more on external audiences like guidance counselors and prospective students and their current analytics did just that. Users of the www.ufl.org were now engaged in content and pages more applicable to their needs. Guidance counselors were able to quick navigate due dates and students were able to easily look at grades and success stories amongst alumni.

Through research, trial and error, and a concrete plan, the University of Florida successfully launched a content-hungry site in August 2014. Since then, they have continued to provide quality images, excellent blogs, and inform all publics.

Takeaways:

  • Know your audience

  • Focus your messaging

  • Stay relevant

  • Live by code orange and blue

  • Be ADA compliant

  • Launch at good (not perfect)

  • Have fun

YuchtNicole C. Yucht joined the University of Florida in 2014 as director of marketing in university relations, and within 14 months was named assistant vice president of UF communications. She is responsible for the institution’s marketing and identity standards, media and public relations, social media, web and campus outreach. Among her major accomplishments was launching the Gator Good branding campaign and overseeing the relaunch of the university’s homepage in November 2015. Yucht has 25 years of experience in marketing and communications, most recently working for Community Health Systems based in Franklin, Tennessee, where she was responsible for the marketing strategy of 14 hospitals in five states. Prior to joining CHS, she was the director of marketing and referral services for UF Health where she helped lead the marketing efforts for the opening of the $388 million Shands Cancer Hospital.

 

Breakout 2C: Solo PR “Ask the Experts” Workshop

Blogger: Mary Dorn, APR (Volusia/Flagler Chapter0

Solo PR “Ask the Experts” Workshop
Presented by: Kellye Crane, Lanette Hart, APR, CPRC, and Karen Swim

Each year at Annual Conference, business entrepreneurs have the opportunity to pick the brains of a panel of self starters. Jay Rayburn, APR, CPRC, who introduced this year’s session, said the people attending the panel consider it a must-see for its importance to their businesses. He stressed to remember to charge for overhead and profit. Professionals have a right to both.

This year, FPRA and Solo PR Pro representatives divided up the panel to focus on specific concerns for small business owners and consultants. Lanette Hart, APR, CPRC, presented “Taking the Plunge” for those nervous about getting started. Karen Swim gave financial tips in her “New Business / Fees” segment. Kellye Crane presented “PR Skills / Client Management.” Interestingly, the three had similar advice, and each started with national or international clients before focusing on local business.

Lanette Hart, APR, CPRC, founder and principal of Hart & Associates LLC, said getting started was a process that took 13 years of thought. She identified herself with her past employer, Bank of America, was raising four boys, and had concerns about launching a business during the financial crisis. To make the move to a solo practitioner three years ago, she first developed an exit strategy and chatted with others who’d tried going solo in business.  Hart stressed the importance of networking, to help “pull together the right team” so there is no work overload. Don’t kill yourself doing all the work.

Her mantra throughout the session was “learn to think like a business person.” By anticipating dry spells in an industry, she knows when to move to the next type of client or plan for a steady salary during less-busy seasons.

Kellye Crane, Crane Communications Ltd. and founder of Solo PR Pro, also believes in networking, but prefers to network on a national level. When contacts move to another company, that is an opportunity to gain a new client. She tends to maintain a client base of similar industries.

Crane reminded a participant who asked how to prove her value to clients that what is difficult to others should be second nature to a public relations professional.

Getting the outside perspective is important to Crane, to enable a professional to “feel less like an island.”

Karen Swim, President of Solo PR, said to never stop conducting business development. She sets month-to-month priorities and sets aside an hour per week to work on attracting future clients. Make a list of 10 prospects and research them before outreach. Patience is a virtue….

“You don’t always meet a client and close on the contract the next week. It’s a process,” Swim said. If ideas run dry, she reaches out to her own contacts and past clients that she is available to help people they may know.

Swim stressed to be bold about finding out what you can charge in each market and charging that fee, instead of lowering your value. If the client is not the right fit, know when to walk.

Favorite Resources, tools:

Hart: Her different networks for job different aspects, including FPRA and mentors. Many apps have helped her.

Crane: LinkedIn groups, Dropbox.

Swim: Smart phone: with all the apps available, she can conduct all business from her phone. Her support network in SoloPRPro is a resource. Also: MBO Partners’ online calculator to plan expenses/income.

Takeaways:

Hart:  Think like a business person instead of just planning to replace a past salary. Find a mentor and build your network to hire help when you need.
“Understand who you want to serve, what kinds of problems you solve and don’t be afraid to say, ‘You don’t fit me as a client’.”"

Crane: Dream big. She agrees with Lanette Hart that you shouldn’t plan to just replace past salary. She started young so dreams played into it.

Swim: Don’t let fear hold you back or keep you from charging what you’re worth. Even 12 years after starting, she admits that at times, it’s still scary for her.

KraneKellye Crane is an accomplished, award-winning communicator with more than 20 years of experience in integrated marketing communications who has offered strategic planning, content strategy, press/influencer relations and technical writing services to some of the world’s largest companies, including ADP, Alaven Pharmaceutical, BellSouth, The Coca-Cola Company, IBM, Intel McKesson and Microsoft. Founder and past president of the popular Solo PR Pro blog for independent public relations consultants, Crane is frequently listed as one of the most influential PR professionals in the United States.

 

HartLanette Hart, APR, CPRC, is one of two representatives for the Florida Public Relations Association on the Universal Accreditation Board. She has more than 24 years of experience in various aspects of corporate communications, public relations, marketing and journalism. She is the principal consultant and founder of Hart & Associates LLC, providing corporate communications/PR expertise and business management to private corporations and government agencies. Previously, Hart worked for 19 years as a global communications strategist with Bank of America, one of the world’s leading financial services companies. Hart is an award winning and recognized speaker. She delivers big picture thinking combined with actionable tips you can use right away to make a difference in your organization.

 

SwimKaren Swim is an accredited public relations professional who has run her own virtual agency for more than a decade. She brings to her PR work an unusually rich background in sales, human resources, business and marketing, having started her career in HR in the banking industry and going on to lead top performing sales teams at Glaxo SmithKline and Quest Diagnostics. Swim’s extensive experience as a consultant includes engagements providing high-level strategic counsel and content to B2B, technology, healthcare, nonprofit and lifestyle companies. She also ran a career marketing division of her company for seven years, where she coached independents and corporate professionals and helped them achieve their career goals.

 

 

Workshop: The Great American Novel: TL;DR, Writing for Social and Web in the age of Brevity

Blogger: Sarah Hansen (Space Coast Chapter)

The Great American Novel: TL;DR, Writing for Social and Web in the age of Brevity
Presented by: Jeff Stevens, Assistant Web Manager, UF Health

@kuratowa l slideshare.net/kuratowa l #FPRA16WK5

TL;DR: an acronoym meaning “too long; don’t read” (used often on comment boards)

Americans currently consume about 11 hours of media daily- 23% percent is social. In a thrilling workshop, XX discussed creative a voice for your brand and how to translate it to the brief world of web and social, where you’re lucky to hold the attention of consumers for more than two minutes.

Voice, tone and style

  • Voice: A brand’s personality. What does it sound like when you talk to people? What is your brand and what isn’t your brand?

  • Tone: How do you talk to people in different situations?

    • Funny vs. Serious

    • Formal vs. Casual

    • Respectful vs. Irreverent

    • Enthusiastic vs. Matter of Fact

  • Style: Punctuation, Style, Abbreviation, Titling, Spelling,

    • Speciality language is included here.

    • Use of singular “they” is becoming more popular in most styles.

  • Examples/Resources of excellent brand guides:

General Tips For Social and Web

  • Keep it brief. 79% of users scan pages, 16% read pages.

    • We get too verbose with our websites and we need to tone it down. What are consumers looking for?

    • You’re competing with the scroll on social. Most people are not going to click “read more” on Facebook unless you’ve captured their interest.

      • Optimum post length according to study- 40 characters on Facebook & 110 characters on Twitter.

  • Deeper content. When writing more content, use websites and for more engagement, use instant article publishing on facebook (when you read an article, but never actually leave the Facebook app).

  • Avoid jargon.

    • Speak in a language that your consumers recognize and can find.

    • Grammar counts. It can make or break your message.

  • Resources:

    • Writerack.com – a website that breaks out longer pieces into twitter “chunks.”

Tips for writing for the web:

  • Write for understanding.

    • Avoid vague language open to misinterpretation.

  • Write for accessibility.

  • Writing for translation- are international audiences able to translate?

  • BREAK IT UP- headings and subheading. Chunk your content into logical areas

  • Use bulleted lists- easier for scanning.

  • Focus your content. Most important at top and least important at bottom.

    • “Crazy Egg” scans your content to figure out where people stop scrolling on your page.

  • Avoid layout location specific content.

  • Use active voice.

  • Avoid synonyms.

    • Consistent language makes it easier for translators to pick up.

  • Be brief, but be clear.

  • Never underline text on the web- people may think it’s a link.

  • Write for your keywords. (headers, subheaders, in the content)

  • Never use “click here”- hyperlink a whole sentence. Also helps with SEO so google knows what the link is. Embedding the YouTube video is preferable.

  • Optimize for social: “specify a sentence so it says “tweet this” or at a glance short copy. (highlight points or quotes)

Resources:

  • Slickwrite.com: Takes your copy and shows you areas that are not common vernacular.

  • Readability-score.com: Reviews your content to see the reading grade level.

Writing for Social

  • Organic reach mean shared content.

  • Virality means content quality vs. clickability (must meet together).

  • Curiosity gap:People are hardwired to understand more behind an unclear headline. Intrigue them enough to “fill the gap.”

    • Facebook doesn’t like this. Just last week they announced that they tweaked their algorithm and they now “look for click bait and take it off the news feed.”

    • In other words, write clear, specific and informative posts.

  • Use the imperative: take action. Be immediate and in the moment.

  • Posts should be about learning:

    • “How to” “Help” “Beginners Guides” “Learn in Five Minutes”

  • Ask questions! Studies show it doubles engagement

  • Name dropping works well too. Familiar brands, celebs etc.

  • Use numbers:

    • Example: Buzzfeed writes lists.

    • Headlines with odd numbers have 20% higher click-through.

  • Keep it casual:

    • Be a person. Use slang.

  • Emojis can help with shorter character space. (be careful of how emojis differ on various devices)

  • Hashtags: great for getting into existing conversations. Be sure to look at other ways people might interpret it.

    • Ritetag.com helps determine a good hashtag by name.

Final takeaway:

  • Know when to break the rules.

  • Some things might not work for your audience.

  • Complete A/B Testing- refine your content, tone and timing.

  • For websites- use google analytics experiments to see what layouts your audience likes the most.

StevensJeff Stevens has 15 years of experience in web and social communications at the University of Florida and in branding and graphing design with Union Design & Photo. He believes in the power of helping people connect and solving design and content challenges together. As assistant web manager at UF Health, he is responsible for content and social strategy and information architecture for patient care websites and advises on the 700 sites that make up their web presence.

 

 

Breakout 3A: 9 Social Content Trends to Watch in 2017

Blogger: Sarah Hansen (Space Coast Chapter)

9 Social Content Trends to Watch in 2017
Presented by: Arik Hanson, Principal, ACH Communications

Arik Hanson shared his opinion, based on months of research, on where social media is heading in 2017 in the breakout session Nine Social Content Trends to Watch in 2017.

#1: Less is the new more. The new strategy for social posts is “less is more.” In other words, you don’t need to post multiple times a day! If you can pull together a small social advertising fund, then posting 2 “boosted” posts a week means your content will appear all week long with less work.

Target and Sharpie are both examples of this “dark” advertising (AKA no posts on their feed, but yet always on YOUR feed).

#2: Could the all-video news feed be a reality? YES! It certainly seems to be headed that way. According to the research Arik showed, the number of videos Facebook published in June was twice as many as April.

Facebook Live is a good example of how the platform is pushing more video content. Brands like Oreo and Dunkin Donuts are on board! In the 9 posts Oreo had in July, 7 of those were videos.

Why does it make sense for brands?

  • Best ad targeting platform on the social web.

  • Numbers are through the roof.

  • Adding new functionality all the time (Facebook Live, 360 videos).

  • Huge engagement rates.

#3: Will Instagram lose its “cool” factor? (Arik thinks so.)

Instagram shot up to 400 million users from 2010 to 2015. They slowly began allowing  brands to advertise, and then finally late last year, they opened their ad platform up to all businesses. I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed these ads and felt a tinge of annoyance.

Here’s why it’s going to lose the “cool” factor:

  • Users visit Instagram for a mental break- not brand advertising.

  • Those brand engagement rates- they’re about to take a hit.

  • Ads will get more likes, but fewer of the more valuable comments/tagging.

#4: Live social video will lead to deeper brand engagement. Live streaming through platforms like Periscope or Facebook Live can bring consumers access to things they may not normally have. For example, Mayo Clinic streamed a live video of a colonoscopy, while a world-class physician discussed the process and answered questions on the spot!

Interviews won’t always work though, so get creative. And remember, the internet likes weird, crappy stuff (like the IHOP Facebook Live pancakes on a beach- look it up for a good laugh).

#5: The emojis heydey is over (for brands). We use emojis to communicate with our friends and family, and to convey certain emotions in a simple, funny way. Brands are trying to get on board with this and failing.

While some brands can make it work, most brands are clunky and don’t understand how to use them properly. Arik provided examples of brands who overcomplicated it with emoji messages that became impossible to decode. Speak the language your customers are using and keep it simple!

#6: LinkedIn publishing will help close the gap between leadership and employees.

CEOs publishing on LinkedIn is becoming a bigger trend. It’s reaching the right audience and humanizes them in a way other communications haven’t. Since it’s a professional network, more leaders will begin joining.

#7: Relying on 3rd-party vendors to produce podcasts:

Why will they outsource?

  • Brands don’t have skill set in-house

  • Agencies aren’t offering/don’t have skill set either.

  • Content more compelling when created by experts.

  • Professional companies can produce a polished and finished podcast.

#8: More Pinterest. Less Snapchat. Pinterest doesn’t get the credit, but a lot of people use it. People on pinterest are building boards then buying. For some companies, Pinterest is a huge traffic-driver to website

  • Why not Snapchat?

    • Few meaningful metrics

    • Not super-intuitive for brands

    • Hard for brands to do right

  • Why more Pinterest?

    • One of the better traffic-driving social sites

    • Long tail traffic

    • Requires less time/energy to maintain

    • More bottom-line results (intent to buy)

#9: Expect more brands to start employing 360-degree photos.They are more engaging in most cases and they provide a richer, deeper experience.

  • Why don’t we see it yet?

    • It’s still early – just launched in June.

    • Brands think you need a 360 camera, but the pano camera on your phone works fine.

    • Lack of perceived need.

#10 (bonus): Feed stopping interactive content: GIFs. With all the advertising cluttering social platforms, companies need to get creative with content that “stops the scroll.” Gifs are a great example of content that most consumers will stop to engage with.

Final take away: “Be creative to cut through the clutter and use the technology to your advantage.”

HansonlArik C. Hanson is the principal of ACH Communications, and an award-winning communicator with more than 20 years of experience in digital marketing, corporate communications and PR. Over the years, he’s worked with Fortune 500 clients like Select Comfort, General Mills and Walmart, as well as regional clients like Starkey, Allina Health and Andersen Windows & Doors. His PR blog, Communications Conversations, has also been recognized as a “must read” by PRWeek and PRWeb.

 

 

Dillin Keynote Address: Rescue, Rehab & Release: Communicating a Purpose-Driven Brand in Controversy

Blogger: Sarah Hansen (Space Coast Chapter)

Dillin Keynote Address: Rescue, Rehab & Release: Communicating a Purpose-Driven Brand in Controversy
Presented by: Jill Kermes, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

In a moving Dillan Keynote Address Communicating a Purpose-Driven Brand in Controversy, Jill Kermes shared the challenges SeaWorld faced after the film Blackfish aired on CNN, what changes the company made following the controversy and why communication matters more than anything.

Jill was thrown into the Blackfish controversy immediately upon accepting her position as Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at the well-known facility. The passion Jill has for SeaWorld and its animals was evident as she told the crowd three facts about the organization that many people may not know:

  • Largest rescuer of animals in the U.S.
  • Conducts and publishes animal research studies.
  • Funds animal conservation projects on every continent.

Not surprisingly, the press hasn’t covered these facts recently. In fact, the negative exposure SeaWorld experienced in the past years has overshadowed the company’s mission.

Challenges:

  • Changing Public Attitudes: SeaWorld initially taught the general public about Orcas, which led to Orcas becoming a beloved animal.

“SeaWorld created a movement and needed to keep up with the changed mindsets,”

Since, millennials were becoming the mainstream generation, their opinion of SeaWorld had a major effect. According to research:

  • 78% want to learn something new when they travel.
  • 90% will likely switch brands (even with the same price/quality) if it supports a cause.

  • 92% of millennial moms want to buy a product that supports a cause.

  • 65% households have a pet.

  • Negative Campaigning Against Our Brand: During the controversy, advertising against SeaWorld became reflective of negative political campaigns. The film Blackfish was created by animal activists who had been against them for years. Despite being riddled with errors, it resonated with the general public and they began to see opinions change. Getting it on Netflix was a smart move, since it reached a broader customer marketplace. As a result, they began seeing a lot of the negativity on social channels.

“Corporate brands cannot defend their brand by running a negative campaign against the activists.”

  • Social media, advertising and PR were not enough: At first, SeaWorld focused on unscripted, organic videos and blogs to respond to the negative exposure. They wanted their voice to be heard and to spread a positive story. However, this wasn’t making much of a difference. They also faced the issue of many blogs being published to major media outlets (i.e. Huffington Post) without being asked to comment.

Finally in 2015, they moved to paid media, because they wanted to make sure opinion leaders had the details of their message. Data began to show they were moving the needle on public opinion, but when the ads went down, so did the positive support.

Changes:

  • Solution: Creating & Telling Your Own Story.

In the wise words of Don Draper from Mad Men, “If you don’t like what’s being said, then change the conversation.”

SeaWorld realized that they needed to listen to the public and make major changes.

“It was at this point,” Jill expressed emotionally, “that we announced we would not breed Orca Whales at SeaWorld anymore.”

They also announced they would change theatrical performances to a more engaging and informative documentary-style experience with the Orcas. In the same breath, they announced they were partnering with the Humane Society to focus on important issues including commercial whaling and the drastic loss of sharks in our oceans.

  • Being Heard: and moving public opinion. Once the barrier of Orcas was removed, people began changing their minds in a positive way about SeaWorld. In studies they conducted following the announcement, they found that 81% of millennials and 87% of California elites were favorable to SeaWorld. From there, their reputation continued to improve.

Why communication matters more than ever:

Communications both internally and externally is vital to an organization. Jill clarified that it’s dialogue vs. monologue. In other words, we need to humanize communications coming from a company. It needs be a two-way street!

What can you do?

Listen to the survey research and react to the public. In SeaWorld’s situation, they had to understand how the public attitudes were changing and then make adjustments to let them know they were listening.

In order to understand public opinion and tell our company stories, professional communicators should have a seat and be consulted along the way of decision making. And sometimes, we need to respond with actions not just slogans.

KermesJill Kermes has a background in political and corporate litigations communications and crisis management. She served as Jeb Bush’s communications director during his time as governor, and worked in the D.C. offices of Ketchum and Public Strategies (now Hill & Knowlton Strategies). She was vice president of brand and corporate communications for Volkswagen of America, as well as the primary spokesperson for Bridgestone during the company’s high-profile tire recall. She is from Safety Harbor, Florida, and graduated from American University.

 

Workshop: Effective Media Interaction

Blogger: Vickie Pleus (Orlando Area)

Effective Media Interaction
Presented by: John Zarrella, President, JZMedia

  • Takeaways: Comprehend the value in media training; understand the importance of protecting the image; find comfort on camera

  • Media training is not always going to be perfect, but it certainly can be a benefit

    • Have a good understanding of how it works

      • It’s the whole package: your presence, how you deliver message, where you deliver, how you dress…all these go into the package you’re trying to present to the client, company

      • You are the spokesperson; your responsibility is to get the message out or protect the interest of the org/ company

    • Don’t agree to interview immediately

      • What would you like to discuss?

        • If you are client, call your agency first before giving interview

      • Create outline

      • Discuss questions with other staff

      • Ask reporter:  What questions will you be asking me?

        • Does not always work

        • Reporter may say “general question about ____ (subject)”

          • Follow up questions may change anyway, be based on questions they produce

    • Be aware of surroundings, esp. for TV, and how you look

      • Clean desk?

      • Blinds open/closed?

      • Lighting?

      • Outside?

      • What to wear

        • Blues, stay away from warm tones

        • Solid colors, no stripes/no busy patterns

          • No distracting jewelry, dangling earrings

        • Dress for weather

  • Remember your manners – make the reporter comfortable

    • Be polite

    • Offer water

    • Need anything before interview?

      • May not hurt; develop rapport with reporter that’s interviewing you

  • Keep your cool!

    • Interviewer could be challenging

    • Could be an ambush

    • Keeping your cool is the most important thing you can do

      • Always assume the camera is rolling, mics are on

    • Keep it simple

      • Stick to the message

      • Talk in sound bites

      • Don’t go on and on!

        • what you want to get out may be getting lost

It’s not just how you say or what you say, it’s how you present yourself

  • Never lie; don’t make things up

    • Even if the reporter doesn’t catch it, social media will catch it

    • If you don’t know the answer, don’t make it up

      • Get back to them with the answer

      • Have an expert available to you so you may defer if you don’t know the answers

  • Consider media training

    • Interview w/subject to put them at ease

    • Record interview

    • Then “reporter” asks tougher questions

Before interview, after meetings with staff, as you work on outline, that’s where the sound bites come from

  • Don’t try to fill the silences

  • Ok to pause

  • Don’t look defensive

  • Correct incorrect information

    • Correct it on the spot if possible

  • Don’t paraphrase the incorrect information first…simply replace with the CORRECT information

ZarellaJohn Zarrella is president of JZMedia. He was a network news correspondent for CNN for 30 years based in the network’s Miami bureau. His work included coverage of natural disasters, the U.S. Space Program, the environment and major breaking news. After leaving CNN in 2014, he began JZMedia. He continues to report now for CCTV-America, an International network, and does media trainings and public speaking.

 

Breakout 3C: Five Key Tools for Surviving the Modern Crisis

Blogger: Erin Knothe (Dick Pope/Polk County)

Five Key Tools for Surviving the Modern Crisis
Presented by: Ike Pigott, Consultant, Positive Position Media Consulting

In his presentation, Five Key Tools for Surviving the Modern Crisis, Ike Pigott discussed how he discovered his gift was in helping people tell their stories better. There is no true special training or school for dealing with a crisis in your organization. Your experience and your knowledge of the organization is critical to survival, as well as knowing what outcomes you want.

Instead of five key tools, Ike shared six.

Definition

A crisis is when your organization’s reputation is at stake because of an action you did or didn’t take and public perception is negative. Similarly, a definition from the book, Overdrive, defines a crisis as a violation of your organizational vision. It’s something that violates the promises of your brand. Someone saying something nasty on Twitter is not a crisis, so don’t bring out a full scale crisis communication plan every time.

Expectations

Make sure your organization’s leaders know:

  • You are not a miracle worker.

  • Your organization will not come out unscathed. One of the only reasons why someone stops talking about you is because they’re talking about the next scandal. You will still have a scar from the situation, but you survived.

  • Your goal is to be in as positive a position as possible at the end of the day.

Triage

Two types of triage:

  • Assessing the crisis itself – Set expectations for the future so your leadership can understand why you need to take the steps you are planning

    • How hard is the hit? (impact)

    • How deep is the wound? (scope)

      • How long will we bleed? (duration)

    • Assessing the feedback – You can’t address everything, so you need to use your time and effort to address the key messages.

      • Who is saying it? Random twitter user vs New York Times journalist (authority)

      • How far is its reach? Something with 1,000 retweets is more likely to be retweeted than a message you’re trying to get out in response. (spread)

      • How virulent is the claim? How likely is it that people will want to share it? People are likely to share bad news as a result of virtue signaling, which is the idea that you want to be seen as serious about a particular topic. Slate Star Codex has an article about the topic. (stickiness)

      • Assessing the feedback is something you can do all the time. Get your leadership used to you using authority, spread and stickiness to judge how to respond to a situation.

Access

  • Who has the final word? Who is going to approve or veto your decisions?

  • Where does the person who does the approving or vetoing sit in a crisis? Your goal is make sure they know they are in the same room. No one is immune in a crisis, so they need to be a part of the process to expedite decisions and know what is going on.

    • Plan your messaging for one hour, eight hours and five years after the crisis hits.

    • Four questions to ask when developing messaging:

      • Who are you talking with?

      • What do you want them to know?

      • How do you want them to feel?

      • What will they do with that? What is their call to action? Understand the good and bad ways people can use the information you give them.

Outsourcing

  • How many personnel do you have trained?

  • How many do you need?

  • Whole functions

    • Who will your vendors be? Determine what information you need to handle and what you can share with someone else.

Some of work that is easier to outsource is monitoring, including traditional, social and internal, or whole functions. Remember that insourcing is an option to quickly get more people working on work that needs to be accomplished.

To give an example of how a crisis can evolve, Ike used an example of a group of people clapping. When it starts, clapping is somewhat chaotic. As it continues, a rhythm develops and everyone will stop around the same time. In the same way, a crisis is chaotic and you are never going to control the conversation. However, you can guide it to an end.

Tempo

  • The Tweet a Minute

    • You don’t have to have a unique tweet every minute. However, you should be retweeting, pointing back to something on your website or commenting back to a reporter every three to four minutes. People will be more likely to sit back and watch instead of trying to fill the void you’re leaving if you don’t say anything.

    • Make sure you don’t get in Twitter jail by tweeting too frequently during a crisis. Ask your twitter representative who you need to let know when you institute your communication plan so you can tweet uninterrupted.

PigottlIke Pigott is a Positive Position Media consultant. After 16 years in broadcast news, the Emmy-winning reporter branched out into crisis and disaster communications. In addition to consulting through Positive Position, Pigott was instrumental in bringing social media to disaster communications for the Red Cross, and works for Alabama Power in media relations and social strategy. He has presented at dozens of conferences in the United States, Canada and Great Britain.

 

Lunch Session: Listen to the C-Suite

Blogger: Erin Knothe (Dick Pope/Polk County)

Lunch Session: Listen to the C-Suite
Presented by: Alex Glenn, State President, Duke Energy; Moderator – Andy Corty, Publisher, Florida Trend

Note: Illness and flight challenges prevented two panel attendees from participating at the lunch session, but moderator Andy Corty from Florida Trend led an insightful discussion with Duke Energy’s State President, Alex Glenn.

How is public relations organized in the company?

The corporate communications team is centralized. Located all throughout the state, the staff directly reports to a vice president, but also communicates with Alex. They are an integral part of decision making. In addition to various regular meetings, Alex has Monday morning meetings with the Corporate Communications (CC) team and sometimes the Community Relations team to review what happened over the weekend, while also planning for upcoming events.

In regards to Florida’s severe weather, what types of communication plan does the company have?

Two general types of communication plans for emergencies:

  1. Strategic plans for large emergencies, like hurricanes

  2. Reactive plans for individual situations, like floods

    1. For these types of emergencies, tools such as media messages, question & answers, press releases, and specific communication to customers, are used on a situational basis.

How does the CC team work with other departments?

The overall view of the company is the more transparency, the better. The CC team will come up with the needed strategies and language, which is then brought to the Legal department  just to review that everything is up to regulations standards. Bad news is better in your own words than someone else’s, which is one reason why the CC Team is so valuable.

Who are your audiences?

First and foremost is employees. A great company has engaged and enabled employees. The easiest way to undermine that is to not communicate with them. Some of the mediums used are email, video conferences, meeting face-to-face, company intranet and social media.

What media do you use externally?

The types of media being used have changed. JD Power is an important voice to Duke Energy. When Duke Energy and Progress Energy were merging, JD Power said that Progress Energy was a quiet company and Duke Energy was a silent company. While being quiet is typical for the industry – you just do your job and keep the lights on – Duke Energy has worked on stepping out of that label. Now they use TV ads and create their own content on http://illumination.duke-energy.com/. Using stories to humanize the company and encouraging employees to be social media champions has been a culture change.

While the CC team plays a role in publicly visible communication, do they have a role in behind-the-scenes meetings?

Government affairs is mostly present in those silent meetings, but the CC team’s messages are present in all meetings. The talking points they produce are the “north star.”

How has the 24 hour news cycle changed the way you communicate?

Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face. – Mike Tyson

The CC team monitors and reacts as appropriate all times of day. Instead of like in the past where you would gain one and lose one customer, now you can gain one and lose 1,000 customers based on one person’s bad experience that was shared on social media.

With the 24 hour news cycle, how do you prevent the story from getting ahead of you?

It depends on the issue. The first step is to know the facts. You might lose time, but you can’t lose trust.

What is Duke is doing about renewable energy?

Renewable prices are starting to come down, so solar capacity is more possible. In the middle part of the state, the most popular energy usage time is January during the morning hours. Unfortunately, the sun isn’t shining during that time. Solar is intermittent and works for 20-25% of the time. The gamechanger for solar will be affordable energy storage. Duke Energy’s R&D investment is in battery storage. Using solar energy would be a win-win situation. Our carbon footprint goes down and consumers bills are reduced.

What’s the current plan for nuclear energy?

Nuclear energy plants are difficult to build in Florida because natural gas prices are very low and license ability is hard to get. Capital costs of the projects won’t pay off until after 20 years, so the idea is a hard sell for consumers. Unfortunately, no one wants to pay for something that will benefit their children or grandchildren.

What keeps you [Alex Glenn] up at night?

  1. Employee safety – making sure everyone goes home in the same condition they came to work in

  2. Cyber security – It’s a question of if – not when. Duke Energy has 120 million phishing attempts a month. Security plans are in place, with people working 24/7 to work against them.

What are some tips for gaining the CEO’s trust?

  • Have a very deep, thorough understanding of the business. Otherwise, how can you advise?

  • Provide solutions. Don’t just identify the problem, come up with a solution. Explain your reasoning.

  • Tell the truth, even when the person doesn’t want to hear it. If you can’t feel like you can do that, consider if your job is a good fit.

  • Think strategically. Help the business plan specifically and measure it.

What does social media look like for employees?

Employees receive a half day of training, including how to do it and what to stay away from. Only a handful of employees, all from the CC team, have an official twitter handle for the company. Employee social media comments are monitored. Using the company created content, the CC team has made sharing easy and user friendly so employees can become involved in being social media champions.

Have you [Alex Glenn] had media training and what did it entail?

An outside consultant was used to come in for a couple of days of training. Alex commented that more training would be good and staff lower in the chain of command should be getting it too.

Alex Glenn is president of Duke Energy’s utility operations in Florida, serving approximately 1.7 million electric retail customers in central Florida, including metropolitan St. Petersburg, Clearwater and the Greater Orlando Area. He is responsible for advancing the company’s rate and regulatory initiatives, and managing state and local regulatory and governmental relations, economic development and community affairs. Alex has been with Duke Energy (and predecessor companies Progress Energy and Florida Power Corp.) since 1996. Before joining Florida Power Corp., Alex practiced energy law at the international law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP in Washington, D.C.

 

Workshop: Upping Your Presentation Game: Creating an Engaging and Effective Message

Blogger: Alayna Curry, APR (Orlando Area Chapter)

Upping Your Presentation Game: Creating an Engaging and Effective Message
Presented by: Devon Chestnut, APR, CPRC - Communications Manager, Cox Communications
Link to presentation: http://prezi.com/wjqo6y5ax-o6/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy 

As someone who gives presentations on a weekly (and sometimes daily) basis, I was excited to hear and blog about Devon’s workshop on creating an engaging and effective message. I found myself nodding along and wanting to shout AMEN throughout her entire presentation. Many of the tips and tricks she discussed I use on a regular basis and are very helpful in reaching your audience.
Devon opened with a comical “what not to do” video of public speaking from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The monotone voice of Ben Stein was a perfect example of how to bore your audience to tears. So, what should you do? Here’s four simple steps.
Step 1: Create the story
  • Frame your story. Determine the start and end and then build the story within that. It’s much harder to start from scratch and work from the beginning.
  • Research your audience. Know who you’re talking to, what they already know and what they want to know.
  • Don’t give vague information.You want the audience to leave wanting more because your presentation was so good, not because you left things out. Don’t use acronyms or industry jargon that the audience won’t understand.
  • Avoid information overload. You don’t want the audience to lose the message. Keep it simple and stick to the key topics.
Step 2: Build the story. 
  • Use a similar look and feel throughout the presentation. Don’t use both clip art and photos. Try not to use too many different fonts or colors.
  • Use appropriate text and fonts for the audience. You probably shouldn’t use silly fonts if you’re presenting to your C-suite.
  • Less is more. Don’t use a lot of text. Your presentation is just the support material.
  • Make the investment in good photos and visuals for impact. Keep videos to 60 seconds or less.
  • Proofread. Many newer presentation programs (like Prezi) don’t have spell check as an option.
Step 3: Deliver the story.
  • Work on your delivery and tone. Try not to use a script. If you need a reminder, use notecards with only a few bullets.
  • Avoid distractions. Watch your posture – don’t rock back and forth. Leave loud jewelry at home and don’t use slides with too many effects.
  • Keep eye contact. If this makes you nervous, talk to audience members ahead of time to get comfortable. Find some friendly faces to look to during the presentation.
  • Pay attention to audience engagement. Be aware of their body language. How are they reacting?
  • Mind your time. Get to your presentation early so you can test out technology. It might be helpful to get your own slide advancer that you’re comfortable with.
  • Have a backup plan in case technology doesn’t work. Bring your presentation on a jump drive or print out a PDF.
Step 4: Utilize tools and resources.
During the Q&A time, I shared a tool that I’ve found helpful when giving presentations. SlideShark is an app you can download on your iPad and iPhone. Upload a PowerPoint presentation to the SlideShark website from your computer and then download it to the app on your iPad. Your phone works as the remote and has lots of different features. The best part: once it’s downloaded, you don’t need wifi!
Overall, a very informative session that will help our members give better and more engaging presentations. Great job, Devon!

DChestnutDevon Chestnut, APR, CPRC, is the communications manager for Cox Communications, a communications and entertainment company, providing advanced digital video, internet, telephone and home security and automation services. Chestnut’s role includes managing Cox’s Southeast Region internal communications for more than 1,900 employees working in the states of Florida, Georgia and Louisiana. She also plays a pivotal role on several national company projects and initiatives. In addition, she manages community outreach efforts within the Central Florida markets.