Communication is all about consistency

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It’s fun to have a new toy for your business, and it can definitely feel like a win to finish a big project, like a website redesign. Knowing how you’re going to use a new tool – and how it’s going to work with your overall communications program – is half the battle. After all, what good is a new website if customers can’t find you or if your content is stagnant and stale? Communication is all about consistency, and that’s where we come in.

How to get more media coverage for your company

Sometimes you make news and don’t even know it. Other times, you have a big story to tell, but you fail to capitalize on it.

Companies that generate positive publicity are often the first to respond to opportunities and take advantage of them. They move with a sense of urgency and find a way to cut through the approval process to put their message ahead of others competing for recognition.Past deadlines

Journalists, no matter what media they serve (TV, online, print), work against deadlines — and that means those who recognize deadlines and respond to them as quickly as possible are often those chosen to be quoted or recognized, particularly in fast-breaking news situations.

Here’s the formula: Editorial need + Content = Publicity

Editors have an insatiable need for content. The journalists who serve the editors (and ultimately, their audience) are required to create that content — and deliver it in time to meet demanding editorial deadlines.

Publicity-hungry companies, however, often drag their heels in making decisions about getting ahead of the news or responding to it. They often bring too many people into the decision-making process which slows up the approval process and causes them to issue news after it has already broken or moved out of the news cycle.

Jack be nimble. Jack be quick

Take a close look within your organization and identify who can (and should) make decisions on issuing news information.

The list should be short (the fewer the better) and limited to those who can make on-the-spot decisions while still ensuring whatever you issue is accurate and meets the criteria of what editors or journalists are seeking.

Strive for decisions that allow your publicist or PR team to get the news out the door and to the media. Drafts of press releases, quotes, plans and programs that sit in inboxes don’t have a chance until the information is actually distributed. And if that information is issued after a deadline, fuhgeddaboudit, as our friends in Manhattan would say.

The companies who make the news first are often those who reacted quickly or anticipated a journalistic need.

Be a soothsayer. Identify — or announce — a trend.

Sometimes news exists where you least expect it — like in research about your industry or observations from your staff.

If you can recognize a trend, you can own the trend. But you have to tell people about that trend before they can recognize it.

If you see, for example, that contract managers are overwhelmed by data, resulting in missing contract expiration dates or the information in the fine print, say it. And back it up with data that makes your observation valid.

Even if the information is old hat to you, it may be brand new to a journalist, particularly if that journalist is new to your beat.

Editors love to “discover” trends and reporters love fleshing out what might be totally new information for their readers and viewers.

Does all this guarantee news coverage?

Nope.

When you compete for news, you are up against more than your competitors.

You are battling for share of mind and space against everything else in the world. Presidential tweets. Kim Jong Un’s latest missile test. Taylor Swift’s hairstyle. Tropical depressions in the Caribbean. Solar eclipses. The latest diet trend.

Your news has to battle its way through a maze that is constantly shifting, with stories moving up and down in relevance.

News shape-shifting is the primary reason no one can guarantee publicity.

You must be willing to release information on time, with the same sense of urgency editors and journalists live by. You must provide information that makes sense for each media’s audience. You must put your news into a competitive posture…and the simple act of getting it out there is the first step. You news cannot make news while residing an inbox.

We work to serve our clients…and the media in which they want to appear.

Our team has experienced how news teams function…from both sides of the desk. We know how challenging news-gathering can be. And we know how challenging getting news out to editors and reporters can be.

If you want to get more news coverage, particularly coverage that defines you as a recognized leader in your chosen field, call on us.

We work quickly, effectively, and with the kind of savvy that comes from working in a newsroom.

Find out more. Call me at 407-339-0879 or email me at will@wellonscommunications.com.

Council of 101 Hosts Festival of Trees Media Preview

The 29th Annual Festival of Trees took place at the Orlando Museum of Art. We have had the pleasure of working with Council of 101 for several years, and it was an honor to organize their media preview kicking off the 2015 Festival of Trees event.

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A media preview is beneficial to any business. It can offer a promotional boost in advance of an event opening or product launch, and it gives you the opportunity to spotlight your unique angles for an audience that is equipped to spread the word far and wide.

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Media events rely on having not only the proper contacts, but the right approach. A specific structure is expected for a successful media event as well. We pride ourselves on our ability to help you put your best foot forward for the most appropriate audience.

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Many thanks to the media guests in attendance, and kudos to Council of 101 for another enchanting display! The organization has raised over $6.5 million dollars benefiting the arts, children’s programs, and the museum.

New Facebook Videos Will Generate Ad Revenue

Four million users a day watch videos on Facebook. The social media site now wants to cash in and more aggressively compete with Google Inc.’s YouTube.

 

Mark Zuckerberg talks about Facebook Video and it's plan to share revenues with it's users.Facebook announced a revenue sharing model this week similar to YouTube’s where they will share ad revenue with video creators in a move, according to the Wall Street Journal, designed to attract more polished content and more ads. If successful, Facebook is a more daunting threat to the Google owned online video site.

 

While many people are mesmerized by family moments and funny animal stories, the Titans of digital media clearly see your videos as a strong revenue stream. Interesting fact to note: smart phones are the source of 65% of all video views on Facebook.

 

For more details on the changing landscape of what you’re seeing online go to Fortune.

Tracking the Invisible – Analytics for Social Media Images

Social media has become increasingly more image-based. This fact can be attributed to why platforms like Instagram and Vine are increasingly on the rise. Here are some quick stats:

  • According to 2014 research published on eMarketer, photos accounted for 75% of content posted by Facebook pages worldwide.
  • Photos and images are also the most engaging type of content on Facebook, with 87% interaction from fans.
  • For Twitter, adding a photo URL to your tweet can boost retweets by 35%.

Knowing this is great for content marketers. However, for those attempting to track mentions from followers and engage their brand in the conversation, this is a challenge.Analytics

How do you find a great post to “regram” on Instagram if no one tags or adds a #YourBrandHere to their post? How do you respond to customers on Twitter who don’t include your handle? How do you respond to Facebook users who don’t post directly to your page? How do you track the analytics to show your boss that social media is worth the time?

Nearly 85% of posts that contain a logo contain either no text or no text that is relevant to your brand, according to Brian Kim, director of product management for ad-tech startup GumGum.

If the visual elements going on social media largely elude the tracking and analytics brands use to keep tabs on what people are saying, how can we give an accurate picture to our clients about what’s being said about them?

Our recommendations:

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Enter the new social media analytics platform, Mantii. This platform is an offshoot of GumGum. Mantii looks for all or part of brand logos contained in social media posts, whether they mention the brand in text or not.

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Another method is to track your own images being shared through a reverse Google Image search. Google’s search by image can easily give you the information you need about your own pictures being shared by others.

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A final method is to use the platform Curalate. Curalate applies image-recognition algorithms to social media platforms, much like Mantii. However, this platform is officially recognized by Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram.

Have you used, or plan to use any of these platforms? Or are you using a different platform to track your images? Let us know in the comments.

“There is a permanent record today and it is called the Internet”

Privacy is a commodity. In today’s world dominated by the Internet, anything and everything can be posted instantaneously and shared with millions in mere seconds. David from “David After Dentist” would agree. However, privacy concerns are no laughing matter. Vigilance should be taken to ensure that the next breaking news scandal that hits the front page of Yahoo does not revolve around you, which is why we’re shaking our heads at Mitt Romney this week.

After secretly recorded comments from a private Boca Raton fundraiser leaked of Mitt Romney saying that 47% of Americans are victims dependent on the government, we can’t help but wonder why the aspiring President would vocally disparage almost half of his country. Here’s a tip for you Mitt Romney: if you are running for President, everything you say and do WILL be held against you in the court of public opinion, thanks to the Internet. The video was leaked to the press, and now everyone from Jon Stewart to Diane Sawyer is spreading the remarks to their audiences; meanwhile the Mitt Romney campaign has spun its gears to full-on damage control.

Another unfortunate recent example of the royal lack of privacy today comes from an Italian magazine publishing topless photos of Kate Middleton. The Duchess of Cambridge was simply enjoying a sunbathing session on a secluded French chateau getaway when a paparazzi photographer captured the scene. Now, the British royal family is taking the matter to court with hopes to stop further publications from printing the photos, but you can’t take back what has already been done. Amazing what a zoom lens and internet connection can do to the public image of a Princess.

Even the common person is not immune to the repercussions of online activity. Everything that you post, from Facebook cover photos to the latest Tweet about what you had for dinner, becomes fair game when you click “publish.” Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor and lawyer for high-profile defendants, says that young people nowadays don’t seem to value privacy. “They put stuff on Facebook that 15 years from now will prevent them from getting the jobs they want,” he said. “They don’t understand that they are mortgaging their future for a quick laugh from a friend.”

And that’s nothing to laugh about.

Mac users steer to more expensive hotels on Orbitz

Many Mac users are fanatical about their computer and are willing to pay extra to own the brand.

Those same Mac users apparently also like to spend a little more on hotel rooms. The online travel agency Orbitz says Mac users spend as much as 30 percent more than PC users on the average hotel booking. The Wall Street Journal reports that the online travel service is showing Mac users more expensive properties.

Orbitz is experimenting with showing different hotel offers to Mac and PC visitors. The move is raising eyebrows and attracting front-page attention. The online travel agency is following a growing trend using predictive analytics to target potential buyers. Orbitz is quick to point out that both Mac and PC users can still rank hotels by price if they wish.

Companies used to just track what websites were being looked at, now they are tracking what computing system are being use.

Budget conscious Mac users should be cautious. Orbitz is likely to begin using the same algorithms to show rental cars and airline flights.

For PC users – especially those with broken hinges on their three-year-old laptop – expect to see more budget-friendly options on the front page of your online travel agency.

Reputation Management in a Modern World

“Glass, china and reputation are easily cracked and never well mended.”
– Benjamin Franklin, “Poor Richard’s Almanack”

Long gone are the days where figureheads of corporations remain in the shadows. Now, news outlets and the public are putting the spotlight on these bigwigs, often exposing their misdeeds in the process.

Best Buy is a recent example of this. Two weeks ago, the CEO of the consumer electronics giant, Brian Dunn, resigned after the company opened an investigation into his “personal conduct.” There was speculation that he misused company assets to contribute to an alleged relationship with a female subordinate.

Another high-profile case involves University of Arkansas head football coach Bobby Petrino, who was recently fired from his multi-million dollar gig for violating a morals clause. The crime? He had a secret affair with a recruiting coordinator for the Arkansas football team.

These examples highlight two important lessons related to reputation management and the media. First, political leaders are no longer the only ones to have their personal lives catapulted to the front page; no one is safe from the scrutinizing eyes of the customers or shareholders. In fact, everything from financial records to emails to cell phone text messages can sometimes be fair game to the press thanks to the Freedom of Information Act.

Good reputation management involves being aware of the fact that nefarious activities in your personal life can easily cross-pollinate to news outlets and spread like a virus. It takes just one blow to your credibility to dismantle the years of hard work building that reputation.

Secondly, we learn how personal reputation is not the only concern in these scenarios. As shown from the Dunn and Petrino issues, organizations believe their image is tied to that of their employees. This is nothing new, as noted by Cees B.M. van Riel and Charles J. Fombrun in their 2007 publication, “Essentials of Corporate Communications.” They termed the phrase “media mania” to refer to this trend of how companies and their top executives now perform in the media spotlight. The book also states that chief executive officers in particular act as spiritual and emotional symbols of the organization, so it is especially important that these figures adhere to the same values and ethics of the companies they represent.

In this day and age, technology has allowed media outlets to report and deliver news instantly, which means they are quick to pounce on breaking scandals in politics, corporations and even football fields. Organizations have certainly taken notice and become more critical with media monitoring and reputation management, showcasing how they may react to threats by removing scandal-plagued employees from payroll, like what Best Buy and the University of Arkansas did to their offenders.

It also helps if the immoral acts weren’t committed in the first place, either.

Groupon: Accounting principles up to 50 percent off

Ok, so maybe the headline of this is tad unfair and technically incorrect. However, there is no denying that Groupon’s reputation has stung in recent days because the popular Chicago-based online coupon company overstated its financial position in its first quarter as a public company.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Groupon’s auditors discovered that the coupon company suffered a “material weakness in its internal controls” and did not set aside enough money for customer refunds.  The size of this oops-worthy mistake was more than $14 million, the newspaper reported.

For companies that are trying to polish their accounting numbers to make them look as good as possible, there is a deep downside – bad PR that travels quickly. Reputations are hard to earn and quickly lost.

The numbers might have frustrated Google’s investors if the company had recorded their financials right the first time; however, it would also not be shown in a negative light at the front page of the leading financial newspaper.

Groupon should leave the deep discounting to specials. Deep discounting on accounting practices will lead to negative publicity that will last longer than the daily deal.

Back when you had to type “TheFacebook.com”…

By Sarah Harmon, Wellons Communications Account Executive

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Just about everyone is talking about today’s release of The Social Network. From NPR to Fast Company to MTV, the hype has reached (or perhaps even surpassed) Twihard status.

The movie basically chronicles a pseudo-fictional account of the advent of Facebook and its smarmy Harvard student creator(s)…although “smarmy” can easily be replaced with a certain, smarmier adjective used by Vanity Fair 8 times in the first four paragraphs…and once again at the end, for kicks.

The cause for this wide-range of interest (and ultimate media coverage) is in the movie’s layers. Sociologists can look at the broader scope of social media’s impact on society. PR professionals can reflect on using Facebook to increase brand, event and product awareness. Business execs can examine the ins and outs of a $1B+ enterprise. Psychologists can study the impacts of greed, social awkwardness, and a number of other traits exhibited by those of “smarmy” character. And a few (no names attached) will head to the box office just for a glimpse of Justin Timberlake.

Having been in college during the launch of Facebook, I started using the social networking site in 2004. Back then you had to have a .edu e-mail address and were required to type thefacebook.com. I was also only one of two from my high school on the site.

Six years later, the social network has taken over. As for the movie, we’ll grab some popcorn and see…