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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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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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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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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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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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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Byline articles have long served as a valuable component of PR strategies for amplifying corporate executives’ voices and sharing priority POVs on critical topics. One effective approach is establishing a regular cadence of relevant articles through prominent business publications’ contributor networks.
These communities of vetted executives – ranging from Forbes to Entrepreneur, IDG, Inc., and others – offer a valuable forum for sharing ideas and guidance with a qualified business audience. Young & Associates has facilitated many of these opportunities for clients, resulting in elevated visibility and thought leadership for CEOs and other executive leaders.
– Forbes: How the Education Industry Can Make Global Experiences Accessible to Students
– Entrepreneur: Is Remote Working Sustainable for Your Organization?
– Forbes: New Data Era in Higher Ed
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As the summer winds down, I have been reflecting on the rewarding experiences gained working at my first internship in Public Relations at Young & Associates. PR is intriguing because it is an intersection of many of my areas of interest including human connection and writing. With this internship being so hands-on, I’ve gained crucial knowledge working directly with our clients on social media campaigns, thought leadership, media relations and more. Here are three of the most important things I’ve learned about PR:
Relationships are Key
To establish confidence between a client and their agency it is critical to build strong relationships from the beginning. Developing these relationships requires a solid rapport combined with a well grounded understanding of the client’s mission. These relationships are maintained by going beyond what is required in a typical campaign such as anticipating needs and suggesting creative and results-driven ways to meet them. In addition, establishing a continued connection with relevant industry journalists will ensure the best possible chance of getting coverage for your clients.
Adaptability is Crucial
The only thing constant about working in PR is that things are always changing. Whether it be changes in messaging, adapting to a client’s roadmap schedules or inevitable crises, my experience so far has taught me the importance of adaptability in day-to-day tasks and priorities. An important part of adaptability is being present for your clients and colleagues when extra help is needed. The ability to switch from task to task is imperative as different needs will emerge from all areas.
Collaboration Yields the Best Results
With so many moving pieces in a PR campaign, it’s easy for things to get overwhelming for both client and agency. Whether it be social posts, press releases, or byline articles, there shouldn’t be one piece of a campaign that is viewed by only one person. Each person working on a campaign, whether that be the client themselves, a seasoned PR pro or, even an intern such as myself, has a unique perspective they can use to make the best possible final product.
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It’s no surprise that since the pandemic, editorial teams have continued to evolve the ways they drum up stories and connect with sources. And as their bandwidth is often at capacity, they are more focused on the timeliest and most relevant pitch ideas for their coverage areas.
Here are some helpful tips for breaking through the noise and fostering successful media relations.
1) Offer New Takes on Trends – Before offering a pitch idea, ensure that the angle is novel or reveals something new about a particular trend. Review the particular reporter’s recent coverage and acknowledge how your organization’s proposed idea helps further the industry narrative. If possible, offer customers that can speak to the issue from a recent, real-world perspective.
2) Avoid Blanket Pitching – While it may seem easier to send the same exact story idea to a long list of publications (and many reporters at each outlet), this is often a mistake unless the news is truly relevant to all of them. A more tailored, thoughtful pitch approach to publications where there is strong topical alignment is most appreciated by reporters.
3) Expand into New Publications – In today’s digital age, industries often intersect in new ways that extend the value of content into different markets. For example, more business and technology focused publications are covering relevant news about particular industries. Take this opportunity to expand the reach of your media relations program and take a chance on exploring new outlets.
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Some of Young & Associates’ greatest strengths mirror the biggest tenets we push in PR – tenacity, fortitude and agility. And strong stomachs as rejection is always a possibility. Part journalist and part sales, we help our clients secure positive media coverage by shaping relevant, timely and unique stories. For the celebrated yes’s, when we connect our clients with their priority media targets, that is just half the battle. Next comes facilitating a productive interview where the journalist connects with our client’s story. And then, the last mile – coverage.
What often gets lost is that no one beyond the publication can actually control the last mile of earned media. While we can connect our clients with the right journalists and make sure they are prepped with the right messages, at the end of the day the journalist and their editors pull the strings at the finish line.
With this in mind, we employ agile PR practices for every media opportunity to navigate the natural ebbs and flows. This helps us determine what’s newsworthy and trending and enables us to pivot quickly on angles and examples. But the real strength of our PR programs – and the reason most of our clients are long-haulers – is due to our senior team’s strategic and results-based approach as we lead up to the moment of anxiously awaiting the last mile.
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