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Social Media – the Small Business Owner’s Checklist [Infographic]


Social Media – the Small Business Owner’s Checklist [Infographic]

Social media can be confusing. You know you need to do it, often feel intimidated, sometimes get sucked in so it saps time from other valuable business actions. More worrying, how do you prove that it has an ROI (return on investment)?

There is much advice out there, and it's changing constantly. So, wouldn't it be nice if there was one place where you could stop, take a breath, and really have a clear view on how social media can help your business in today's world? Real help, in a practical manner.



Goodbye 2012 and helloooo 2013!

Goodbye 2012 and helloooo 2013. What’s been going on and what can we expect to see over the next 12 months? NettResults takes a look back of 2012 in the world of media and what we can expect in 2013.



The Secret Sauce to Exceptional PR Coverage... Framing

When corporate communication professionals (or their PR agency) propose a particular story (e.g. in the form of a press release) to a journalist, they engage in two separate but related processes. First, they are soliciting interest in the story. Second, they are making sure that the story is framed in a way that is consistent with the organization’s preferred framing (i.e. how the organization would like that story to be told). Find out more...



Batman, the War Against Crime & Public Relations

There are possibly many learnings from the heavily armed gunman attacked an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater early Friday, that terrified audiences, killed 12 and wounded 38... but how will Warner Bros manage the inevitable PR before their $250 million project sales are effected?


PR Multiplying or Dividing?

There was an interesting story we tweeted about a few days ago originally written by our friends at PR Newswire that suggested there is some disagreement about the skill set PR pros need to succeed in today’s environment, and there are three points of view emerging:

  • The traditionalist, who values the ability to write, build relationships, isolate and convey key messages and build publicity strategy above all else.
  • The digital enthusiast, who values social media acuity, digital content production and editing and coding skills highly.
  • The quant, which focuses on data, analytics and how PR integrates with business processes.

At NettResults we like to think of it as multiplying and dividing.

If you have a list of 1,000 subscribers or 5,000 fans or 10,000 supporters in a social media world, you have a choice to make. You can create stories and options and benefits that naturally spread from this group to their friends, and your core group can multiply, with 5,000 growing to 10,000 and then 100,000.

Or you can put the group through a sales funnel, weed out the free riders and monetize the rest. A 5% conversion rate means you just turned 5,000 interested people into 250 paying customers.

Multiplying scales. Dividing helps you make this quarter's numbers.

So it is with PR.  You want to ever increase your sphere of influence, or put another way, you want to increase the number of journalist you can call up.  At the same time you want to concentrate your time on the 5% (or is it another 80/20 rule?) that don’t just passively receive your news stories, but actively read into them, converse with you and find the story they can report on.

This is why an intellectual rivalry between traditional PR pros and digital enthusiast PR pros is a loose/loose battle.  To be good at PR in today’s rapidly evolving media market, you need to be both a traditionalist and a digital enthusiast.  Gone are the days when having one Millennial digital evangelist in your PR agency’s office was enough – today each of your teams need to be made up digi-traditionalists.

Oh, and they better be able to measure that success. Results are king.

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6 Surefire Signs of Good Public Relations

There is good public relations and there’s bad. 

Let’s face it, some organizations, people and agencies are good at it, and some are not. 

But when you are in the thick of it, when you’re spending the money, how do you know?

Oh, that’s quite simple, you wait five months and then look at the coverage you achieved.  Wait a minute, did someone in the back utter that they move quicker than that and they don’t want to wait five months?  What, you actually want to know now if you are spending time and money wisely?  OK, well in that case, there are six sure fire signs of good public relations.

1 – First up, you better have a strategy.  A clear, concise strategy.  Can you (or the person/agency in charge) define in half a page:
- the target market that needs to be reached
- the media used to reach it
- the message that needs to be communicated
- the desired action of the target market
- the media tools that will be used to achieve that
- and when they will be used?

If you can’t then you’re running your PR strategy in an ad-hoc manner, which is not going to give you the results you need.  The number one tell-tail signs is inconsistency… in regards to when coverage is achieved, who it reaches or the messages it conveys.

2 – How are your relationships? It doesn’t matter how great your strategy is if your PR team doesn’t have the best media relationships to get it delivered.  This is where larger teams have the advantage. I’ve yet to meet one person who gets on with everyone.  So it stands to reason that if you have a one-person team or freelancer on your PR they can’t have relationships with all the core media.  It takes a diverse team of people at various seniority and experience level to be able to hold all the core relationships.

This is doubly important if your target includes multiple social-economic targets or possibly more than one language.  Look at the make up of the journalists and editors you are trying to reach and make sure your team are similar.

3 – Responsiveness and consistency rules.  PR is not a tap you can just turn on or off as you feel.  It’s more like a snowball pushed down a hill - once started it will keep on rolling and growing if you treat it right (and if you don’t treat it right it’s like putting a tree in front of the snowball). To keep that snowball rolling and growing you need to be ever responsive to the media (never leave a man hanging) and you need to ensure you fuel the media machine with consistent, newsworthy and relevant information. 

Tell-tail signs - if your PR team can’t respond to you within a coupe of hours, then they are not responding to the media quickly either.  And if you don’t have a constant funnel of news and ideas being worked on, then it’s akin to your snowball rolling over concrete.

4 – Reporting and feedback. At NettResults we make it simple for all our team members: for a successful client/agency relationship there are two things that drive success – media results need to be obtained and there needs to be constant reporting with the client.  A campaign that has great results, but there is little client/agency interaction or lack of reporting, will fail. 

Media relations is a constant feedback loop.  Multiple minds need to plan it out and everyone needs to be watching what is working and what is successful. This is the only way that momentum can be gained and we can drive a higher return on investment.

5 – Business acumen.  Look at it this way - there’s this funnel.  At the bottom of the funnel is PR, above that is marketing and above that is ‘the business’.  While I’ve had bosses that have said to me they can write a press release about anything, irrespective of whether they understand the subject, you can’t play in the PR space successfully unless you understand business.

Much as we would like to think that media and PR teams are the bees-knees – there is always a higher being that is driving the business. The PR team needs to be aware of this and have a true understanding and respect for when PR plans need to be modified due to a business requirement.  Tell-tail signs – have a conversation with your PR team about your business, not the latest PR news, but about the actual business.  Do they talk sense?

6 – Is there a level of trust?  What this all comes down to is trust.  A client needs to be able to trust that their team/agency is proactively working on their behalf.  There has to be bilateral trust between the PR team/agency and the media. 

More than most industries I have witnessed, trust is central to PR success.  Like all professional service business, we’re talking about a professional’s time.  How it’s being used and how efficient it is.  We’re talking about abstract terms.  We’re talking about things that people get emotional about.  Wrap that all up and the lubricant that keeps the cogs turning is trust.

These six simple concepts will give you good insight into how successful your results will look in five months.

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Avoiding the PR crisis before it happens

It’s always great to see when a sensible business gets their PR so right in a proactive manner.

For anyone that ever spent 5 minutes in a car in Southern California, they are (without doubt) bound to have heard the rather dodgy sounding radio commercial for 1-800-GET THIN and their revolutionary lap-band procedures that will have you dropping 125 lbs and whizzing around shopping malls in no time. Oh, and your insurance will cover it. But hurry – this offer won’t be around forever.

OK – so the commercial is really, really tacky and their jingle sounds no better when my 9 year old suddenly starts humming it.  You listen to this advert and you know, instinctively, that something is wrong. Somehow you visualize yourself walking into a very dirty and smelly waiting room and being helped by personal that don’t look qualified to take your temperature – let alone open your stomach up.

California has some very large people, and when you live in a city that chooses to wear sweat-pants and do yoga on the beach, you know you got to look good. It therefore stands to reason that there is some very serious amount of business here.  And as any savvy businessperson has probably already worked out, 1-800-GET-THIN is really only a marketing company – that in turn provides leads to independent clinics that in turn provide surgery using Allergan’s Lap-Band weight-loss device.

What do you do when you provide the devise that according to lawsuits is central to five Southern California patients whom have died since 2009 following Lap-Band surgeries at clinics affiliated with 1-800-GET-THIN?  You do the right thing.

Allergan today announce that they will no longer sell its Lap-Band weight-loss device to companies affiliated with the 1-800-GET-THIN marketing company. In a business where everyone is chasing the dollar and making their next quarterly goals for financial pundits, this is the right thing to do. From a business perspective, while it’s never easy to turn down sales, in this instance the PR team is handling what could be a PR crisis very well.

Good luck to Allergan Inc – smart PR move.

Now hopfully my 9-year-old can stop humming that stupidly anoying jingle.



Social Media, the Journalist, and how PR agencies interact

Our friends at Cision have just released their 2011 Cision-Newhouse School Digital Influencers Survey. It has some interesting findings and you can read the full research here.

Now, much as we love research and its findings, we do have to identify that Cision's research is often heavily skewed to the bias of selling media lists and the Cision services. That said, we all benefit from understanding exactly how to use social media with the media.

The 2011 digital influencer survey shows that social platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn (with the impact of Google+ soon to be felt) continue to revolutionize how those who create digital content do their jobs: how often they post content (“file stories”) and how they identify stories and trends, cultivate and qualify sources, and share information.

But – perhaps even more importantly – it is apparent that social media has empowered anyone with a voice that resonates with a community to build influence and vie for the same attention and audience as traditional media.

These “other content creators” may not be connected to an established news organization or blog, but their “social capital” is so significant that they have a direct impact on consumers and other influencers.

Those who define themselves as journalists tend to have very different (and less positive) perceptions about the usefulness and accuracy of social media.

Yet all respondents agree that social media is a superior way to share stories, connect with communities, and make their voices heard.

Bottom line - what does this mean to PR agencies and organizations that use agencies? Well, PR agencies need to use social media tools to inform/converse with journalists and those writing materials that customers are reading. But they can't rely on them - social media needs to be integrated into journalist outreach.



Power is nothing without Control

...according to the tire manufacturer Pirelli. And so it is with public relations. Gone are the days when an organization can fully control their corporate message to the media.

In days gone by, it was normal for an organization’s employee handbook to strictly dictate that no employee could speak to the media without prior approval and spokesperson media training. No problem.

Then a few years ago social media popped up. According to a recent piece of research by Altimeter, companies average an overwhelming number of corporate owned accounts – about 178. That is a bunch of people from different departments and around the globe that are speaking on social media platforms, that the media are seeing. And that’s before we count the personal SM accounts of employees who happen to mention their job. So what’s to be done?

NettResults recommends three levels of corporate communication development:

1 - Relinquish a mindset of control - instead ‘enable’. In business school we were taught to foster message control and encourage all corporate representatives to stay on message. Yet today, as multiple business units from support, sales, HR and beyond participate in social technologies, communication is spread to the edges of the company – not just from the PR department. As a result, PR groups have changed their mindset to safely enabling business units to communicate, based on pre-set parameters they put in place through governance, coordination, and workflow.

2 - Roll out enterprise workflows - education programs at four levels. We’ve found that savvy corporations have detailed workflows, including sample language in which employees should respond. Beyond creating these workflows, they must be distributed throughout the enterprise through education programs, and drilled. We’ve found savvy corporations have up to four types of education programs spanning: Executive team, social media team, business stakeholder teams, and finally all associates. Even if the mandate is for rank and file employees to not respond in social on behalf of the company, reinforcing education is still required.

3 - Run mock crises. Lastly, we’ve found a closer relationship with media relations, social media and crisis communications. Savvy corporations are working with agency partners such as NettResults to setup mock crisis drills where they approach a week-long crises in a number of hours in private. Not only does this test the mettle of the organization it provides useful training so companies can respond faster, in a more coordinated approach. We have already witnessed health organizations receiving ‘social-crises-ready’ compliance notices and we expect compliance programs to spread into other industries.

Get ready – take control.



Who are the key decision makers and are the spokes people media trained?

Every company has a organizational chart - a ladder of power, but how this structure functions during a crisis must be clarified with all the stakeholders in the company; particularly the communications department. A crisis can hit at any time, and the company needs to determine secondary command structures in case key decision-makers are unavailable at the time.

Not only is it important for those to know who need to spring to action (and how those people are contacted) - it is equally important that everyone else in the organization knows they can not speak on behalf of the company or to the press. Something that is best handled in a company employee handbook.

Organizations also need to decide which situations warrant which spokes person, and plan accordingly.

Most importantly, the spokes people need to be media trained in advance. Effective spokes people should receive professional media training and should be well versed on how to deal with the press. An organization's spokes person need not necessarily be the most senior staffers. For example, in some cases, the CEO is not the most efficient spokes person due to experience, knowledge or geographical location.