When a client asks for a creative idea or strategy, our team gets giddy to put our heads together and lay ideas on the table during a brainstorming session. Brainstorms: where creative juices flow freely and no idea is a bad idea – but that doesn’t mean your brainstorming sessions can’t be structured.
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Recently, I was able to help with a nonprofit workshop hosted by Public Relations Society of America’s Dallas Chapter, Communities Foundation of Texas and My Sweet Charity. This special event was packed with stellar panelists, insightful instruction and more than 100 nonprofit participants from all over Dallas-Fort Worth ready to ramp up their public relations efforts.
During this free, half-day PR workshop, made possible by event sponsor Dean Foods, participants learned to hone their branding and messaging, media relations, digital marketing and social media skills with tips from the experts, like WFAA’sRon Corning and PaperCity Magazine’sJane Rozelle. This event was planned purposefully to help nonprofits maximize their efforts to tap into North Texas Giving Day, which is Sept. 17, from 6 a.m. to midnight.
This will be the seventh year for North Texas Giving Day, and it has become an integral part of many area nonprofits’ donor engagement strategies. This year, there are more than 2,100 participating nonprofits and $2.4 million in bonus funds and prizes available. Last year, North Texas Giving Day encouraged 98,000 gifts totaling $26.3 million to 1,580 nonprofits. The bulk of those gifts came from donations less than $100, and 27% were from first-time donors.
Here are some of the best tips and tricks covered during the workshop:
Messaging and Branding
Focus on donor engagement in all regards. Who are your past donors? Who is involved with your organization—volunteers, staff and board of directors? Include specific calls to action in all the organization’s messaging, and remember to thank donors after the event. Get creative!
If you’re promoting an event, keep in mind producers won’t want to highlight events that are already sold out or that their viewers can’t afford. Be proactive with social media – reporters appreciate content to share!
For social media advertising, start small, always target your audience and don’t always sell. Remember, great content is shareable, valuable and engaging. Think graphics and calls to action!
If you’re local to the area or see a cause that resonates with you, we encourage you to join in on the action for #NTXGivingDay. But, as a reminder, these nonprofits need your help all year round. Consider giving your time, talent or money to your favorite organization on more than just one day a year. Here at LPR, we are all individually involved on a regular basis in different organizations. We even volunteered together this summer at Vogel Alcove. We hope you’ll give and get involved, too!
Photo Credit: NorthTexasGivingDay.org
The past six months have been VERY busy here at LPR. My LPR travels have taken me down to Austin quite a bit lately to work with one of our clients, Acumera, a growing technology company that provides network connectivity, security and visibility for convenience stores. We’ve been working with Acumera since 2012, but they recently decided to up the ante with our relationship. They needed an internal marketing resource, but didn’t want to worry about the learning curve or overhead costs associated with adding a full-time team member. Since I’d been on the account for more than three years, I was able to jump in and fill the role, giving Acumera the benefits of having both an agency team and a dedicated “internal” resource to support Vice President of Sales and Marketing Tom Yemington.
We’ve accomplished a LOT in the past six months. In addition to managing traditional public relations activities, including news releases, thought leadership and media relations, I contributed to marketing strategy, message development and sales collateral development. We’re also about to launch a new Acumera website. (Stay tuned!)
The whole experience has reinforced our philosophy that the most successful agency-client relationships are those that truly integrate agency team members into the client’s culture and business. It’s the best of both worlds.
Here’s a quick video from Tom on why he decided to use a PR agency to support his marketing efforts.
Just as there are plenty of different leadership styles, there are just as many communication styles. But there are a few characteristics that you tend to see in top CEO communicators. These are the CEOs who we follow on Twitter, read their op-eds during our lunch break and maybe even pick up their books on the weekend. We trust these leaders. We’re enthused by their work and the direction of their company. To become a leader who can communicate in this way, it’s important to stand out from the crowd with these unique attributes.
Be real. The most inspirational leaders engage on a human-interest level. It’s important for your audience to trust you. Don’t lose them with scripted grandiosity. Use personal stories and be relatable.
Strive for an openness that draws the audience in. Knowing they’re not about to get the wool pulled over their eyes will keep an audience listening and engaged. Admit shortcomings and excite them with sneak peeks of the company’s next big idea.
How can CEOs do this while maintaining the respect and competitive advantage of their office and company? By maintaining a growth mindset. Leaders who admit setbacks and ask for input tend to be the best communicators and biggest innovators out there. See Apple’s swift response to artist royalties on streaming music.
Be available. Leaders shielded from the media can project distrustful personas to the public. Executives who engage with employees, customers and external stakeholders build a reputation that garners respect and appreciation, while also reaching a larger audience. This visibility can lend to authenticity, making for more dynamic communications and leadership.
Be thoughtful. CEOs stand apart by truly adding value to the conversation through their innovation and reputation for success. These leaders don’t give a keynote with their eyes down at the podium. These CEOs are the ones booking media briefings for open Q&A because they’ve thought through all the questions beforehand. When confronted with an unknown, the CEO is honest and curious about it. It takes a confident leader to ask for critical feedback, like Elon Musk did with his Hyperloop white paper. Establishing these connections builds a following that bolsters credibility.
If your CEO is giving a speech soon, you might consider incorporating some of the tenets of the TED Commandments throughout the speech writing and preparation process. You can see many of these core traits shine through their communications principles.
And, if you missed the blog on the best tools CEOs can use, be sure to check it out - Communications from the Top: How CEOs communicate.
We live in a world of increasing connectivity and demand for real-time marketing. With a 24-hour news cycle and content being pushed through multiple social media channels, it’s vital to have the intellectual bandwidth on staff to manage the immediate demand. With centralized operations to facilitate rapid and targeted messaging, public relations war rooms can make or break a successful campaign, event or brand.
Preparation and Planning
What makes for an effective modern PR war room? Preparation and planning are essential. Draw strategic inferences and scheduling cues from previous, similar or competitor events and programs. Was the last townhall, Twitter chat or Google+ Hangout a success? Why or why not?
Is every department or issue area represented? Do you need surrogates lined up for media hits? Check schedules to see who is available. Ensure all team members and spokespersons have background and appropriate messaging going in. Getting the right team prepped and ready to go should be done well in advance.
Have as much pre-approved content as possible, including messaging strategy with examples, talking points for spokespeople and digital content with infographics, photos and videos.
Build a timeline, but remember to budget room for spontaneity. Inevitably something will surprise you. Will you have the intellectual, informational and physical resources to provide a thoughtful response?
For rapid response events, what will you need to maintain successful operations for the duration of the event? Equip your team in advance—a live stream, multiple screens to monitor news coverage, pre-approved statements and news releases and maybe even dinner to keep the staff going.
If you don’t have the right team in place with the right resources, your brand likely won’t be on message.
How do you win on social media? You’ll need to have a focused strategy for messaging throughout.
Think about who the influencers are and engage appropriately, using replies, retweets and favorites. Does your brand have a frequent complainer on Twitter? It isn’t effective to reply to every negative comment, but you should respond to critics and customer service complaints.
Use apps to maximize your reach. Don’t miss out on opportunities to appropriately exploit innovations of social media like Instagram, Swarm, TweetDeck or HooteSuite.
Having socially savvy people with content and messaging that’s pre-approved equips and empowers your team of digital ninjas with a solid foundation to win.
Metrics and Evaluation
Deliverables should be clearly defined, and feedback should be expected.
Are you trying to beat last year’s social media analytics? Which ones—impressions, engagement or new followers? Defining the goals specifically sets the expectation for success. Doing this will ensure you have someone ready to go on-camera after an event or can push your team to capture a wider audience for digital engagement.
Continuous feedback is important, too. Listen to your team on site so nothing is missed. And before you put the campaign to rest, make recommendations for future operations to help the next event or program be an even bigger success.
Bringing it all together.
Preparation and planning will be the crux of the operation. Focusing on these tips for a modern PR war room should set you with a stellar team equipped to effectively communicate – and more importantly, engage – with your most critical audiences when it matters most.