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Marketing businesses using Facebook and Twitter has become a growing tactic in marketing plans across all industries. Social media platforms serve as an effective tool for circulating branded messaging, but Internet usage and trends continue to change every day.

In a recent article, Bulldog Reporter found that 90% of all Internet traffic and 50% of mobile traffic is now made up of photos and video. For growing visual media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, this means an opportunity for continued expansion. Instagram’s more than 200 million users make up an attractive market of young people for PR and marketers. Digital media reporting site Mashable has also found that 1 in 5 U.S. adults are now using Pinterest. These large groups of users of both platforms are at the ready to receive visual content that could ultimately lead to better connecting and capitalizing on consumer and brand relationships.

With the expanding use of visual media, it is more important than ever to control your brand’s messaging. People make decisions based on trust and brand promise. Using photos and visuals helps create another tangible connection to brands. As we can see from these recent statistics, it is becoming a greater means of communication – that old adage “a picture’s worth a thousand words.” Having a strategic presence in visual media can serve as a key tool to further brand development as part of an integrated marketing approach. Everything you do or say influences what people think about your brand, so providing them with a visual example of what your brand promises also helps demonstrate that your brand delivers on this promise.

No matter the medium, the ability to connect users with your brand is crucial to developing brand loyalty, and will ultimately lead to a better consumer experience. It’s important to assess your own brand strategy as it compares to trends, as not all trends serve brands equally. With the expanding use of visual media, now is an opportune time to analyze your own brand and consider the most strategic uses of visual media and how it can potentially become part of your integrated marketing approach.

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Nonprofit organizations provide great benefits through services and products to local communities, positively changing the lives of families and individuals – your loved ones, friends, neighbors and colleagues. In most cases, they’re providing support with limited funds and resources, running on the time of volunteers along, while for-profit businesses have the advantage of better resources and full-time staff to support their endeavors. Often times, these disadvantages mean nonprofit organizations are put on the back burner with the media because their stories may not have the “flash” and grander available to the media from for-profits.

Focusing on nonprofit organizations, it’s especially crucial to keep a strong strategy behind PR efforts in order to effectively garner the attention of the media even with limited resources and time. Public relations require careful strategy to demonstrate information relevant to the audience. Implementing this strategy in a tactful and meaningful manor comes in the form of the newest PR buzzword – PESO – paid, earned, shared and owned media.

  • Owned – content generated by the organization and thus messages controlled completely through their content
  • Paid – paid advertising or sponsorships via media partnerships or other events
  • Earned – information presented to the public via the media where the organization is a resource; or PSA/donated media via advertising
  • Shared – social media mentions and virtual/social media conversations (“buzz”) surrounding the organization that builds through a word-of-mouth, viral network

These four avenues implemented strategically by any organization can garner attention related to its cause. Below are examples for paid, earned, shared and owned media and how to execute tools and tactics related to each. It’s important to consider added value with each, including compelling content the media can incorporate with mentions, such as images/video, trends, expert references, social media polls/campaigns, pop culture references, etc. Including these types of compelling content provide relevance for the media’s audience making the story more important.

Paid

  • Media exposure and mentions via media sponsors/partnerships, including print, radio, television, digital outdoor, and online impressions
  • Public exposure and mentions via partnerships, including other business’/organizations websites, press releases, broadcast media mentions, on-site/stadium events/exposure

Earned (Media pitches)

  • How businesses are affected by the organization’s fundraising, including statistics and what that means for those employed by or benefiting from the products and services of those businesses; Relate it back to the end user
  • Research and technology advances in the local area that support the organization, including scientific sources and news articles
  • Profiles on each volunteers/donors and their connection to the organization and the community, including video interviews and photos so viewers can identify
  • Benchmarks and milestones in industry advancements related to the organization and how they can be applied by families and individuals locally, including expert tips and trends for easy application

Shared

  • Charts/graphics/statistics locally and what difference funds raised for the organization could mean to the community
  • Map of communities within the area served most effected by the problems the organization serves to help
  • Facebook poll quizzing social media users on statistics and facts
  • Links to research directly impacted by the organization
  • Hashtags to use on FourSquare and Facebook when you check in at locations related to the organization and its cause

Owned

  • Create a PSA to distribute to local media outlets and ask them to share the video in order to help your specific cause. The PSA will serve as a vehicle to control the message and can be repurposed for earned media.
  • Provide the media with statistics specific to the local community and how money raised by the organization can help to improve those statistics
  • Create information graphics to visually represent statistics, event information and key messages that can be provided to the media for easy inclusion in their stories/mentions
  • Video clips from organization events and locally-based families and individuals who have benefited from the organization

With all public relations efforts, it’s important to make the pitch newsworthy with an angle that allows the media and the media’s audience to relate without much thought. For example, correspondence and information provided to the media should be brief, in layperson terms, eliminating hype and sticking to fact and direct to what it means to the audience.

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Many organizations welcome the opportunity to be highlighted with positive media attention, broadcasting their brand message among the target audiences. Conversely, there are also instances where organizations must face negative media attention, defend their brand, actions or operations tactfully in front of the court of public opinion. In both instances, when faced with media attention, its important for your organization’s leadership or spokesperson to be well versed and trained in media interviews.

At a recent event hosted by the Public Relations Society of America, Maryland Chapter (@PRSA_MD), our strategists exercised their media training skills, keeping abreast of the latest trends. We’ve shared a few of the basic points to keep in mind when preparing for media encounters. A good rule of thumb – consult your agency to develop a thorough media strategy, preparing you for positive or negative questions and appropriate responses.

Five steps to preparing for a media interview:

  1. Research the reporter/outlet prior to the interview
  2. Develop your core messages
  3. Prepare specifically for difficult questions
  4. Have your last question response ready – “I’d like to add…”
  5. Offer to provide additional information and have it on hand or readily available

The art of a good sound bite:

  • Make it locally relevant
  • Stay specific to your target audience
  • Offer something different – breaking news
  • Set up a visual
  • Provide an anecdote, analogy or third party endorsement

Do’s during an interview:

  • Be friendly
  • Translate technical terms
  • Build the relationship
  • Ask questions back
  • Provide follow up

Don’ts during an interview (and a few examples of an effective response):

  • Never say “no comment” (“I’m sorry I can’t respond to that question, but I can address..”)
  • Don’t go beyond your expertise (“I can’t speak to that but I can tell you…”)
  • Don’t speculate (“Here are the facts as I understand them…”)
  • Don’t bash the competition or complain (“Our company values dictate…”)
  • Avoid using or repeating negatives
  • Never go “off the record”
  • Avoid taking the bait (“Actually, contrary to that thought…”)
  • Don’t answer hypotheticals

If there is a media interview in your future or you’re looking to garner media attention, be sure your brand and your spokesperson are properly prepared. Need a little more training? Call one of our media experts for an in-depth media training session.

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Seen and not heard

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The presidential debates take over mainstream media coverage every year with all the major talking heads on speed dial for extensive post-coverage on body language, speech patterns and even the size of lapel pins.

So much is said about what is not actually spoken, it really emphasizes the power of body language.

President Nixon’s White House tapes recently revealed his disappointment in his performance at the first-ever televised debate with then Senator John F. Kennedy. According to the TIME Magazine article “How the Nixon-Kennedy Debate Changed the World, ” Kayla Webley notes “…those who listened to the debate on the radio thought Nixon had won. But those listeners were in the minority… Those that watched the debate on TV thought Kennedy was the clear winner. Many say Kennedy won the election that night.”

That’s because Nixon’s sweaty and stiff demeanor came across negatively to the American public viewers, while Kennedy’s smooth style elicited a Presidential confidence.

The TIME magazine article goes on to quote Larry Sabato, political analyst at the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia: ‘”Before the television debates most Americans didn’t even see the candidates — they read about them, they saw photos of them,” he told TIME. “This allowed the public to judge candidates on a completely different basis.” It’s a reality that continues to influence campaigns today. “When parties are considering their candidates they ask: Who would look better on TV? Who comes across better? Who can debate better?” Sabato says. “This has been taken into the calculus.”’

While it is likely Governor Romney and President Obama have the top body language experts prepping them before every match, even these well-trained public figures have their moments. Perhaps reaction to body language quirks is best captured in social media – we all need to enjoy a little chuckle as we lead up to casting our vote for Commander in Chief! Check out Buzzfeed’s “23 Best Twitter Reactions To The Final Presidential Debate” for some great commentary!

When we issue media training to any of our clients, we always include a body language and speech pattern analysis. To build trust in your audience, it’s important that your style comes across as confident, yet caring – humble, yet strong.

For some great tips on body language, check out PRNews’“Body Language is Right Out of the PR Handbook” which analyses Vice President Joe Biden’s body language performance in the vice presidential debate.