Facebook’s new algorithm: what’s next for PR

Another Facebook update is here. And the PR game is changing…yet again.

With frustrations high, let’s hash this out and see how to still come out on top with strong PR game.

What’s going on
Mark Zuckerberg announced in January a new algorithm where Facebook users will start seeing more posts from friends and family and fewer posts from companies and brands.

According to Facebook, the update is supposed to encourage more engagement on Facebook because we’ll be seeing more posts and content from the ones you love.

“Recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained in a post on Thursday. It’s true.

My Facebook feed is full of video after video. It’s to the point I don’t even want to get on Facebook anymore. However, Facebook is a primary outlet for businesses trying to reach their consumers and clients.

“I want to be clear; by making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down,” Zuckerberg said. “But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too.”

Businesses depend on Facebook as a social media outlet to share their brand, motives and goals. With the algorithm changing, PR professionals working in social media will need to find alternatives to the algorithm change.

What’s next
Adam Durfee is an SEO and public relations guru and said, “Facebook has made it very clear that what matters most for businesses is brands and pages starting conversations. Facebook will be giving edge-rank boost to those starting conversation among followers.”

“Your job as a PR professional running business pages now is to start conversations among followers. If you can’t, your reach will disappear. If you can, you’ll have better reach than ever before. Don’t just tell stories, get people to engage in them,” Durfee concluded.

There is a way to rise on top. We just have to know what we’re dealing with and then act. We have the chance to have a larger reach than ever before if we adapt to the new system.

Advice moving forward 
If you’re sitting at your desk thinking, “great, time to make an entire new strategy,” I’m happy because it means you get it.

But, think of it like this: Instead of writing stories and experiences to tell to your audience, you can start writing posts to talk with your audience. Start your new strategy now. Find creative ways to engage.

I think one of the most engaging tactics in social media right now is Instagram Story polls. How can we incorporate these on Facebook?

How can we start conversations that people actually want to respond to? As PR professionals, these are the kinds of questions we need to start asking. When you and your team begin crafting your new strategy and launch your first posts with conversations, your reach will be like Durfee said, greater than ever before.

We came into the PR industry knowing that it is ever changing. We have to be flexible. Creative. Adaptable. Innovative.

If we embody these traits, there is no social media update that will get us down.

Don’t try to fight Facebook, beat ‘em.

Written by Genny Hickman

Newsjacking: The what, why, and how

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I think we can all agree that we get asked about the news more often than not. Current events are one of the most talked about topics in our day to day lives because people naturally want to know what’s going on in the world around them.

As communicators, our job is to help our company be noticed and heard. We want to write stories that make our company seem appealing and exciting. But how do we do that when there is not constant breaking news every day at work? The answer is newsjacking.

Newsjacking (v): The process of inserting your brand into current events to create media attention.

The news is even more instant with the constant movement of technology. The news can be accessed in many different ways and that is why newsjacking can be so beneficial. Whether that be opinions of industry leaders, a funny meme, or lending public support to a crisis happening around, there is always a way to place your brand’s name in a place where it can be seen.

How can it help my company?
Newsjacking can help any company at any time. It doesn’t matter how big or small a company is, there is always an opportunity for it because of the technological world we live in. Technology allows instant communication at the touch of a button. Newsjacking will allow content to be produced, websites and social media to drive more traffic, and can give people something to talk about. There doesn’t need to be a large budget, just a team of individuals who can be quick on their feet and more creative and strategic than competitors.

The most exciting part about this is that you can write about something that is unrelated to your company but because it is relevant to the news it will benefit you. It shows consumers that your company is up to date and has an idea of what’s happening in the world.

Remember the Super Bowl of 2013? Yes, the one where Beyoncé performed at halftime and the Ravens and the 49ers had to wait over half of an hour before the power turned back on. Well, turns out that the majority of people didn’t remember those things too much but they did remember Oreo. During the power outage, Oreo’s team thought fast. They produced some of the most influential newsjacking examples we have today.

Oreo’s tweet in the 2013 Super Bowl during the blackout. Photo courtesy of Oreo’s twitter.

For that Super Bowl most advertisers paid about $4 million dollars for a 30-second commercial spot.  During the blackout, Oreo tweeted one tweet (which obviously wasn’t planned) but they got more attention from that tweet than many other companies that spent $4 million dollars! 

“The only reason I remember the Super Bowl in 2013 was because of the power outage. It was unfortunate but I do remember seeing Oreo’s tweet and thinking how that was good,” says university student, Bailey Bunch.

Looking back, we can see that Oreo definitely made its mark.

How can I do it?
The idea sounds great right? But how do you go about Newsjacking? Below is a simple formula from Search Engine Watch that will change everything for you.

  1. Data: It is important to keep up to date with the news around you. It will allow you to be a step ahead of your competitors. Timeliness is the key to newsjacking. This diagram shows the phases that a news story goes through. It is essential to newsjack within the first 2-3 phases in order to capture the attention that is needed.

Newsjacking is more beneficial in the first 2-3 phases. Photo courtesy of newsjacking.com.

  1. Creative: Being creative and clever in this industry is always a must! But when a company can take everyday news and turn it into something special, now that’s what will be remembered. Just think, everyone will see this news story, but how will you make this one different?
  1. An Opinion: Putting in a short and simple quote that voices an opinion can always be enough to for someone to pay more attention to you. An opinion allows consumers to see where your company stands on certain issues as well.

By being aware of the news, creating content to stand out, and adding opinions, companies will be able to use newsjacking as a strong tool. Along with that, technology will continue to grow which will allow more opportunities for newsjacking in the day to day workplace.

Keep your eyes open!

Written by Oliva Oldroyd

150 years of the best holiday campaigns

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he most wonderful time of the year is here. Lights twinkle at every street corner, fresh snow starts to blanket the ground, and the spirit of giving warms the hearts of all. But perhaps the most obvious sign that this joyous season is here, is the start of holiday marketing campaigns.

For over a century, companies have kept the public guessing what creative tricks they will pull out of their sleeves during the month of December. The advertisements, the jingles, the iconic characters, have all helped trademark the magic this time of the year brings.

Here is a list of the nine most iconic and beloved holiday marketing campaigns over the last 150 years.

 1874: Macy’s holiday window display

The grand Macy’s department store in New York City was the first brand to create a major holiday window display. The boom of the industrial revolution made glass in rich supply, allowing R.H Macy to bring to life his vision of creating an elaborate storefront to fascinate his customers.

In 1874, Macy’s debuted its first window display, featuring collections of hand-painted, porcelain dolls from around the world, as well as scenes from the novel, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

To this day, people from all over the world visit the department store in New York, to witness the beautiful artistry captured behind the glass of Macy’s windows.

 1924: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade

in 1924, Macy’s expanded to cover an entire city block in New York City. The newly acquired 1 million square feet of retail space was enough reason to celebrate, and thus the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade was born. Macy’s employees scattered the streets in bright costumes, as floats and animals borrowed from central park zoo entertained an audience of over 250,000 people.

For many, the annual parade marks the start of the holiday season. Still to this day, the elaborate production draws extensive national attention, making Macy’s a brand name that is strongly connected with the holidays.

 1931: Coca-Cola’s father of Christmas

Years ago, the image of Santa Clause as a jolly, grandfather-like figure, did not exist. Every artist had a different interpretation of the holiday icon, until Coke created an image that would stick for years to come.

In 1931, Coca-Cola hired artist Haddon Sundblom, to create an image of Santa the company could use in its Christmas advertisements. Sundblom developed the character America knows and loves today, conveniently wearing the same classic red that is associated with Coca-Cola.

1939: Montgomery Ward’s Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer

Each year, the department store Montgomery Ward created Christmas coloring books for children as promotional items. In 1939, the company hired copywriter Robert L. May, with the task of creating its annual book.

Montgomery Ward’s Christmas coloring book in 1939, introducing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for the first time. 2.4 million copies of the book were sold that season.

In his youth, May was bullied for being small in size and extremely shy. These past experiences inspired the writer to create Rudolph, a misfit reindeer that was mocked for his shiny red nose.

During the 1939 Christmas season, May’s coloring book sold over 2.4 million copies. To this day, the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is one of the most popular holiday children’s stories.

1955: Norad’s tracking Santa’s journey

In 1955, a local newspaper ran a Sears advertisement that invited kids to call Santa Clause. However, a problem arose when the newspaper accidentally changed a single digit in Santa’s phone number, leading all the children to call the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) center.

Each year, members of NORAD and dozens of volunteers, take phone calls from children about Santa’s location on Christmas Eve.

To avoid acting like scrooges on Christmas, the military leaders at NORAD gave a few men the special assignment to answer all Santa related calls.

From that night on, NORAD became an integral part of Christmas Eve, as the command center started to “track” Santa’s journey across the globe. Children continue to use NORAD’s tracking website each year to see how close Santa is to their house.

 1989: Hershey’s holiday bells

The iconic advertisement personifying Hershey kisses as bells has run every December since 1989. However, what most people don’t know is that the beloved commercial was not supposed to exist.

Hershey’s creative team had already decided to go in a different direction when an employee came up with a simpler idea he thought would be better. Without financial support, the employee ran with his own advertising concept.

After showing his boss the finished product, Hershey scrapped its more elaborate animation and released the now famous Hershey Holiday Bells commercial.

1993: Coca-Cola’s sledding polar bears

Coca-Cola’s signature polar bears made their sledding debt during the 1993 holiday season with a commercial titled, “Northern Lights.”

Coca-Cola debuted its iconic polar bears for the first time with a holiday advertisement titled, “Northern Lights.” The creator of the commercial was Ken Stewart.

The creator of the commercial, Ken Stewart, chose to feature polar bears because they reminded him of his late Labrador retriever. Coca-Cola used the most advanced computer graphics at the time to bring Stewarts vision onto the screen for the holidays.

 1997: Starbuck’s red holiday cups

In 1977, Starbucks released its first holiday cup. A festive red cup adorned with seasonal designs made for a beverage holder every customer wanted to drink out of.

Starbuck’s holiday cup campaign is still going strong today, as the cup serves as a perfect complement to the company’s seasonal drinks, such as peppermint mocha and gingerbread latte.

 2007: Macy’s Believe campaign

In 2007, Macy’s launched its first “Believe” campaign, calling all believers in Santa Clause to put their faith to good use. For every letter written to Santa and sent through a Macy’s department store, the company would donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Over the course of nine years, the campaign has raised $15 million for the charity.

Written by Brittain Steiner

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How to conquer the writing process, as told by Taylor Swift

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he phrase “writing process” often fosters many eye rolls and the feeling of dread among writers. The journey from pre-writing to publishing can seem like an uphill battle with no end in sight. Thus, it goes without saying that the writing process has a rough #reputation.

Taylor Swift will release her sixth album, Reputation, on November 10 of this year. The first single from the album, “Look What You Made Me Do,” broke chart and streaming records within days of release.

Pop icon Taylor swift can also sympathize with a bad reputation, or at least that’s what her new music says. On November 10 of this year, T-Swifts highly anticipated album will drop, exciting millions of fans around the world.

In the spirit of Taylor’s new album, here’s six tips to conquer the writing process, complete with some throwback lyrics from the artist herself.

  1. Overcoming writers block: “I’ve got a blank space, baby”

There it is. The dreaded blank page. The cursor blinks, and the anxiety of starting from scratch begins to set in. Ideas encompass your every thought, but the quest to create the perfect formation of words is debilitating.

The best way to overcome the paralyzing effect of writer’s block, is to free your mind from lockdown. An article titled, “How to Overcome Writer’s Block: 14 Tips that Work,” author Jeff Goins advises going for a walk, baking some cookies, or calling an old friend to get the juices flowing. Do whatever you must do to relax, and the words will come.

  1. Prewriting: “Jump, then fall”

Even after overcoming writers block, starting from nothing can still seem overwhelming. However, Swift says it best when she advises, “jump then fall.”

In order to tackle the writing task at hand, Stephanie Wong Ken, author of the article, “How to Free write,” offers wisdom about how to tackle a fresh piece of writing. The best piece of advice she includes, is to take a deep breath, then jump into prewriting. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t have to be organized, just write, and begin to fall into your story.

To help gather your thoughts, use bullet points, make lists, or even write out sentences that come to mind.

Just like diving into a cold pool of water, the best way to start the writing process is to go in headfirst. It may seem scary to begin with, however once you emerge to the surface, the direction of your paper will become clearer and clearer.

  1. Drafting: “The story of us”

The first draft is always a diamond in the rough, however it is up to the writer to figure out how to make it shine. The best way to do this is to tell a story that sticks.

Sticky stories are those that are relatable and that captivate an audience’s attention. Swift epitomizes this writing technique.

“You connect with an audience by showing them you’re just like them. That’s what brings them back,” said pop culture expert and BYU professor, Scott Church, “Taylor Swift connects with her audiences because she writes about basic emotions that are associated with everyday relationships. She is more authentic and less manufactured.”

[/vc_column_text][mk_padding_divider size=”20″][mk_blockquote style=”quote-style” text_size=”18″ align=”left” font_family=”none”]Taylor Swift connects with her audiences because she writes about basic emotions that are associated with everyday relationships. She is more authentic and less manufactured.[/mk_blockquote][mk_padding_divider size=”20″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

Swift has engaged millions of fans around the world and has kept them coming back for more through her relatable lyrics. She is singing about your love story, your heartbreak, and your best friends.

To keep your readers reading, find what makes your story stick to the audience you are trying to reach. Chances are if the story is meaningful to you, it will be meaningful to one of your readers as well.

  1. Revising: “Why you gotta be so mean?”

After completing what seems to be the perfect first draft, get ready for the twist of fate that comes next.

Cue the revision process, where the story you wrote “looks a lot like a tragedy now.”

Revision can be the hardest step in the writing process, as your beloved first draft is picked a part with red ink and an iron fist. However, the people editing your paper are not trying to be mean.

Yes, there are haters out there that are gonna hate on your writing, but peer revisers are not those people. Revisers are put in place to offer fresh insights and outside perspectives. With their help, your piece can reach its fullest potential.

The best thing to remember about this step in the writing process, is to not take anything personally. “Shake it off,” and take the criticism in stride.

  1. Editing: “Are we out of the woods yet?”

Finally, after many re-writes, a beautiful piece of writing has emerged. However, you are not out of the woods quite yet. Editing is the final step of the writing process.

Editing is like the final wardrobe and makeup check before your writing goes out to shine on stage. All the hard work has been done, except for the last bit of polishing. It is essential to go through any piece of writing with a fine-toothed comb to proofread, and to look for any errors in spelling, words usage, grammar, or punctuation.

One misspelled word or writing the wrong kind of “there” can instantly taint your credibility as a writer. No one wants a bad reputation for lazy editing, so be sure to be meticulous in this final stage of the writing process.

  1. Publishing: “You are the best thing that’s ever been mine”

In the words of Swift, “do you remember when you were sittin’ there” with writer’s block?

You put your palm to your forehead for the tenth time?

Well, you wrote a story out of cautious writers cumbered thoughts.

Now, the finished product is the best piece of writing that’s ever been yours.

After the writing process is complete, and your story is ready for publication, don’t forget to pat yourself on the back. A publishable piece is a job well done.

Written by Brittain Steiner

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