The Matchbox.

Aug. 31

The ABCs of DEI

As more American companies embrace dedicated Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, they’re baking it into everything they do. From efforts by fast-food chains to increase diverse franchisee ownership of U.S. restaurants through low-interest loans, to a freight transporter in Connecticut being the first company in the industry to establish a DEI office, promoting these initiatives is important to build relationships and goodwill.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when incorporating DEI initiatives and research into a PR plan including thought leadership, social media, messaging and media outreach:

  • Stick to what you know: Develop bylined articles on a topic you are already an expert in. For example, an edtech company can draft an article about ways higher ed institutions can improve DEI efforts to attract and retain students.
  • Prioritize the cause: Stay away from self-serving outreach. DEI initiatives exist to create an inclusive, welcoming environment for all – they shouldn’t be used as a stunt to edge out the competition. The key is to focus on the cause, be genuine and be respectful.
  • Stick with it: Being a diverse, equitable and inclusive company should not be a fleeting priority or one that only lasts long enough to send out a press release. Instead, build DEI messaging into ongoing efforts across the organization.
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Jul. 19

Is It a Messaging or Facts Problem?

Often when issues arise within a business and there is negative chatter in the air (media, poor analyst reports, competitor fodder), all eyes turn to the marketing department and PR to manage the “messaging problem”. And while crisp concise messaging is incredibly important to convey a company’s unique value prop, problems with product offerings, poor customer service or leadership issues cannot be wished away with razzle dazzle messaging or press release announcements.  In these cases, the organization has a facts problem, not a messaging one.

Utilize your marketing team as investigators to determine the root cause of the issue and then build a cross-departmental team to begin addressing and fixing it. By acknowledging the problem and demonstrating pro-activity around solutions, the facts will begin to change and thereby the narrative of the story will as well. As an example, after resolving known issues with customer implementations, invite those clients to participate in future product pilot launches and report on the entire journey. Every company has challenges but it’s not magic words that will save the day.

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Jun. 21

Going the Extra Mile in Media Monitoring

Helping secure media coverage isn’t a PR pros only job in the media relations journey. Knowing what the media is reporting on requires more than simply keeping an eye on byline articles and stories published. Here are several best practices to ensure your media monitoring goes above and beyond the call of duty.

Compile a Media Coverage Report

Whether it’s in the form of a weekly email or a spreadsheet maintained over time, a structured report of media coverage enables marketing and other company leaders to quickly access the information and include it in presentations to show stakeholders how the brand is being positioned externally. 

Exhaust All Search Options

Not all media coverage, good or bad, will have the company’s name in the headline or even in the first few paragraphs, so relying on one keyword or monitoring tool to catch all media coverage can cause important articles to slip through the cracks. Use multiple streams to monitor for coverage.

Stay Vigilant After Significant Events

How a company is reported in the media will vary when a major announcement, merger or crisis develops. To be prepared with effective responses, monitor the news and social media as it breaks to keep company representatives and stakeholders updated and strategically ready for possible interview requests.

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May. 12

PR During Unprecedented Times: 3 Tips for Media Outreach

As PR pros continue to work closely with clients during a time of consistent change and an era of historical events, they face new challenges that come with garnering media coverage in the new reality of life in 2022. 

Below are three tips for navigating the industry’s “new normal” while ensuring clients’ stories are told tastefully and efficiently:

Stand Out from the Content Clutter – Media are bombarded with companies offering thought leadership topics and expert opinions. That means your clients’ competition for coverage is heightened, so it is critical to find a unique hook to push through the information overload.

Online or Bust – The pandemic prompted every industry to undergo a digital transformation overnight and it stuck. While the move to virtual life hasn’t been easy, it is our reality, and working alongside clients to turn virtual challenges into opportunities is the best way to move forward. 

Relevance is Key – It is essential to stay updated on daily news and the economic impacts. A worst-case scenario would be pitching a media outlet with content that is now irrelevant or no longer fits the topic’s narrative. Review editorial calendars, develop client case studies and ensure your client’s narrative is appropriate and valuable.

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Apr. 19

Don’t April Fools Me

I like to think I have a sense of humor, but I am not a prankster. And it shows on April Fool’s Day when it seems everyone uses social media posts to try and punk their loyal customers. I am not a fan. Sure, it is in good fun, but there are varying degrees of efficacy. My 13-year-old’s prank of switching bags of cereal to different boxes is funny and harmless. My 9-year-old creating toothpaste Oreos is not so funny and gross.

So, when it comes to posting April Fool’s Day pranks via corporate social media or creating fake press releases, my two cents is to stay away. The risk is not worth the reward. And definitely don’t announce real news on April 1 as it could be easily dismissed.

Attention spans today are so short that even a well-intentioned joke can be taken the wrong way – especially if read scrolling through a social media feed. And for news organizations, even the niche ones that post fake news stories in the spirit of April Fool’s Day – the results are doubly impactful as readers, listeners, viewers are tuning in for helpful information.

Leave the jokes to the comedians, where, as we’ve recently seen, it can still be a risky move.

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Mar. 21

Timing Is Everything: The Dos and Don’ts of Launching Client Campaigns During A Tragedy

When preparing to make a client announcement, it’s critical to stay up-to-date on major news headlines leading up to and the day of to ensure it is tastefully done and positioned for optimal positive impact.

Suppose your client’s press release and social media campaign is scheduled for 8 a.m. and there is a national tragedy overnight. Don’t be afraid to pull the release and any scheduled social media posts. Otherwise, you set the brand up to look callous and disengaged. For example, when working in communications for MGM Resorts in Las Vegas during the tragic mass shooting in 2017, it was critical to hold pre-planned social posts and company announcements. Unfortunately, the brands that didn’t pull their posts in time paid the price. One brand received backlash from the community when they posted a lighthearted photo of their mascot in front of the famed “Welcome to Las Vegas Sign,” which was near the tragedy’s location.

Amid a tragedy, it may be beneficial to work with marketers to develop non-self-serving social media posts that offer sympathy for those affected. Also, depending on the severity, give the media time before pitching your company’s story.

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Feb. 21

Steps to An Eye-Catching B2B Social Media Strategy

Maintaining a consistent B2B social media presence is critical as it demonstrates the company’s engagement with their stakeholders and involvement in the latest developments in their industry. Social media is also a valuable tool to further promote media coverage and thought leadership.

In managing social media for a number of clients, our team recently completed the HubSpot Academy’s Social Media Certification Program and were reminded of several important, evergreen social media principles.

  • Establish a consistent tone and brand voice across posts that will serve as the foundation for your social media presence, e.g., informative, playful, formal, etc.
  • Pay attention to what kind of content your target audience finds interesting and mix of the posts with more than just brand-related content
  • Post consistently to keep stakeholders up-to-date on company happenings, as well as promoting your page to a larger audience
  • Use action words to engage more people, e.g., “Read more here” or “Click here for more” rather than just “See more here” or “More here” 
  • Use social platforms as a way to connect with target media via tagging and sharing relevant articles
  • Humanize the social presence to connect with followers on a personal level, acknowledging holidays, important cultural events and highlighting individual employees, clients and partners. 
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Dec. 20

Happy Holidays from Y&A!

Happy Holidays to all of our colleagues, clients and friends. We are thankful for all of you and are looking forward to new beginnings in 2022 as we welcome two new team members to Y&A. 

We are thrilled to introduce Senior Account Executive Krista Gilbertson. Krista is an Austin-based PR pro who enjoys tech PR and has a passion for writing. 

In addition, our intern Megan Fox, who just graduated from the University of Maryland College Park, is joining us full time in January as Account Coordinator and is based near Albany, NY. 

This month we also said farewell to our long-time colleague Eve Lerner (Sheridan) who is embarking on a new chapter in her career. Eve was an immense contributor to the Y&A team over the years and we are lucky to call her a friend. 

Please join us in congratulating all of these ladies on new beginnings and cheers to you all for a happy and healthy holiday and successful new year ahead.

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Nov. 22

Remain Calm; Carry On

We’ve all been in a difficult business meeting, conference call or other workplace situations where tough questions catch us off-guard (if you haven’t, consider yourself lucky). It’s easy to become defensive but the worst place to let it get the best of you is during a media interview. 

Whether it’s today’s climate where questionable behavior and sometimes nasty disagreements are more frequent or social media discord has seeped into our daily lives, I’ve been disheartned by an increase in unprofessional, testy behavior in various aspects of interviews with journalists. 

Yes, journalists can sometimes be unprepared or ask unfair or challenging questions. But it is the job of the professional being interviewed and their PR pro to prepare and help navigate those tricky exchanges. If you know that the content discussed will be difficult, conduct a dry run and prepare responses ahead of time. Your media relations partner should ask the tough questions and help work through responses, so the SME isn’t going in anxious or cold.

Just remember, everything that occurs in an interview is on the record and on display – even poor behavior and antagonistic responses. As the old saying goes, you catch more bees with honey than vinegar.

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Oct. 17

Getting More Mileage Out of Content

Content is one of the most valuable parts of a PR program as it supports an organization’s purposeful narrative and conveys important news and insights.

Companies can extend the value of content by repurposing it across multiple platforms – such as leveraging press release content for blog posts or highlighting varied byline article angles in different social posts.

This practice is useful not only for reducing the time and effort needed to create new content but bolstering press coverage and thought leadership.

Here are some helpful tips for getting the most mileage out of PR content:

1) Adapt Content for Appropriate Platforms

Consider the intent of each piece and how the target audience may use it. As an example, when repurposing an important press release for a blog post, edit so it appears less like a news story or trim the length as blogs tend to be more short-form.

2) Avoid Repetition 

While repurposing content across platforms means some repetition, it’s important to differentiate. For example, if the past few blog posts featured on a website have been webinar recaps, brainstorm new content approaches such as an executive Q&A on a critical industry issue.

3) Add Something New 

New insights can come out of repurposed content, and it’s important to showcase these fresh insights across platforms. Sharing new perspectives or data about previously published content demonstrates that the company is dialed into industry trends and offers in-depth, evolving commentary on the most pressing issues.

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