Everywhere I look over the past few weeks, there are heroes among us. Specifically, the many courageous heroes who are tirelessly advocating for those devastated by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. During moments like this we should consider how we can personally lend a hand and for the organizations we represent to find ways they can show support.
While the monetary contributions are impressive and very important, companies are also donating goods, their employees’ time and offices to help those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Bass Pro Shops supplied 100 boats for government agencies and rescue organizations and Home Depot’s Team Depot volunteers have helped with the cleanup effort and delivered supplies that customers have donated. In Houston, a local furniture store, Gallery Furniture Stores even opened up store locations for 300 evacuees to take shelter.
As the victims of the recent hurricanes begin long-term rebuilding efforts, it is important to reexamine corporate giving efforts, company match donations and employee volunteer hours. Organizations should do all of these things, not because it is “good PR,” but because it is the right thing to do.
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As many established PR professionals adhere to proven strategies and tactics for executing successful long-term PR initiatives, how can you tell if your program includes the best approach? And how do you know that your key messages are reaching the right journalists and industry analysts?
It’s a good idea to assess your current PR program on a regular basis to determine if it is generating the intended results. Following are some best practices to keep in mind:
Thought Leadership: Offer Actionable Advice
Whether in a byline capacity, delivering a presentation at an industry conference or serving as a resource in a marketplace trends story, your spokespeople have the opportunity to impart in-the-trenches advice and marketplace takeaways. Avoid self-serving sales messages and be willing to discuss areas outside – but related to – your core business. Is your organization offering relevant thought leadership?
Media Coverage: Forge Real Connections Successful media relationships are symbiotic. Your organization offers valuable perspectives to journalists who cover your industry and are willing to use you as a trusted resource. These connections require an investment in time and a willingness to engage multiple times. Is your organization proactively engaging with key media?
Press Releases: Quality Over Quantity
Instead of pumping out press releases that aren’t newsworthy for the sake of volume, focus on the key announcements that will hook the media – especially if they involve customer successes or new innovations. Save less news-worthy content for blog posts, social media and other avenues. Is your team executing an effective press release and content strategy?
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With the Memorial Day holiday right around the corner, now is a good time to ensure your PR program is on the right course for the summer season.
Although the summer might not be the best time to launch an aggressive PR campaign, it is beneficial to have a good stream of news to show prospects, investors and other key stakeholders that your organization has momentum. Review your pipeline of news announcements and keep a schedule for the summer months to stay on track. This can include new customer wins, new hires, award honors, etc.
While some might anticipate a slow down in media opportunities from June through August due to reporter’s schedules, e.g., summer Fridays, vacation, it is important to maintain a pulse on key contacts and keep a steady PR pace going. It is true that it might be more challenging to reach media, but if other organizations choose to quiet down during the summer months, this can be an optimal time to reconnect with a key reporter or make a new contact. Touch base with priority reporters each month during the summer to ensure you are offering them any necessary resources, research or quotes that will support stories – especially as their other resources may be hard to reach.
Finally, summer months mark the time to plan PR activities for fall/winter and get that big campaign ready. Think ahead as you are talking to reporters over the summer months, as it might be appropriate to prepare them for something coming down the pike in September.
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In January, we received heartbreaking news that Jean Young, founder of Young & Associates, had passed away unexpectedly. A cherished friend and mentor, we considered Jean family for her unwavering strength and love, fierce loyalty, toughness, support and a little bit of crazy. Jean was a guiding force in so many lives – both personal and professional. She helped many find, nurture and promote their talents, and most of all, love what they do.
A single mother of two sons, Jean came to Washington, DC in the late 70’s after working as the American Lung Association’s Public Relations Manager, to serve as Senior VP for John Adams Associates, a public affairs firm. After nearly five years at the firm, Jean left to establish Young & Associates in 1982, with the love and blessing of John Adams.
Forming Young & Associates as a technology-focused agency from the start, Jean was a trailblazer, serving as a female CEO in a male-dominated industry. Jean was not afraid to voice her strong opinions or take on a leader’s point of view when she knew her strategy was right. Throughout the nearly 30 years she led and was involved in the agency, Jean touched so many lives and remained close to countless former employees, clients and friends of the agency.
A ferocious protector, Jean had a heart of gold and for most of us that were lucky enough to know her, there will never be anyone like her again. Love you forever, Jean.
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I was pleasantly surprised when April showed up in my Facebook feed, on my TV and in conversations with friends over the last few weeks. Who is the latest “it girl”? April is the very pregnant giraffe at Animal Adventure Park in Upstate New York. So, how did a small zoo grab so much attention with its live video feed reaching more than 1 billion views?
Operating without a communications staff, the park’s owner began using Facebook to live-stream April’s pregnancy as a way to promote the park, but also to educate the public about giraffes, which are currently on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Viewers steadily increased over the last month with April making headlines across the country. Today, there is coverage across national news outlets, in local media markets and of course a major social media blitz. It is clear that the public is in need of a positive, hopeful story given the attention.
However, when animal rights activists labeled Animal Adventure Park’s live-feed as sexually explicit last week it was briefly removed from YouTube. Via a Facebook Live video, the park owner successfully combatted any criticism with a heartfelt, but straightforward message about the park’s goal to create enjoyment for those interested in April, while also educating the public about giraffes. His honesty has been key to captivating a far-reaching audience and his ability to handle negativity will surely help the zoo achieve future success.
Now, while the world is watching, let’s hope April has a speedy and smooth delivery.
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As most industries evolve over the year – particularly in certain sectors of technology – and customers’ needs change, revisiting your overall corporate positioning and messaging is a smart strategy. While some executives may downplay the need for this exercise, overall corporate messaging can:
• Concisely articulate your company’s value propositions
• Shape and narrow core differentiators and eliminate out-of-date messaging
• Provide consistent positioning throughout company-wide communications (sales, marketing, product development, professional services)
• Highlight differentiation without slamming the competition or giving them a voice
• Enable success measurement of marketing/communication initiatives
A refresher messaging exercise should review how your brand is perceived in the market based on industry evolution, current focus, etc. Take time to interview key stakeholders within the organization for their viewpoints and to identify future marketplace trends that may shift current positioning. Also, take stock in industry analyst reports and media coverage that may forecast a change in business challenges and demands.
The messaging refresh doesn’t mean a complete overhaul. Rather, nuanced – but important – changes to the brand can make a huge impact in connecting with key audiences.
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