JetBlue: Little Tickets

Would you let your kids plan your next vacation? I probably wouldn’t, but Jet Blue let’s kids choose their next family vacation in this awesome video. The best part of all, JetBlue also pays for it.

I have shared these types of videos on my blog before because I think they are so genius. They aren’t advertising a sale, more leg room or better snacks, but they make you feel good about the JetBlue brand.

These type of videos have been very popular over the last few years and more brands seem to be creating them.

In case you were wondering, JetBlue does have more leg room and better snacks.

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Not All Media Coverage is Created Equal

Every client wants media coverage, but sometimes they just want a lot of stories and don’t really care exactly where they appear. I have heard some people say, “The more coverage and back links to the website the better.” However, I really believe not all coverage is created equal.

I work with a lot of consumer product goods and my clients always want coverage from Mom bloggers and online influencers. We usually contact these mom bloggers and offer them free product in exchange for an honest review. Bloggers with bigger followings usually charge a few.

I just got a daily newsletter that had some shocking stories about mom bloggers.

  • One blogger the publication found readily admitted that she was offered trips and high-end products to review, and she jokingly confessed, “My blog doesn’t even get read by more than a dozen a month.”
  • In another case, they analyzed a client’s web traffic for the past five years. They did get coverage in over 1,000 mommy blogs. Only two resulted in actual sales.

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Thank you Captain Obvious, that’s exactly how I felt! I have experienced this firsthand. I have sent dozens of products to Mom bloggers just for them to never respond to my follow up emails. There was never a contract written up, just an agreement via email. There is definitely some risk on our side but now you understand a little on why I think not all coverage is created equal.

After some of the mom bloggers I worked with posted their reviews on social media I would see that they only received one or two interactions. I don’t care if you have 10,000 followers, but if you are only getting one engagement per post there is something wrong.

So for me one Buzzfeed (or other big publication) article is equal to about 100 mom bloggers, or more!

The Power of Real Influencers

For the last several months I have been focusing on Instagram influencers.

Just in the month of October my co-worker and I were able to get 49 different links from influencers on Instagram. We didn’t pay them anything, we just sent them some free products.

Example: One influencer posted three recipes last month with one of our client’s products. Those three photos alone had a total of 4,170 likes and 290 comments. Those are just engagement numbers, that doesn’t even count the amount of people that saw the post.

Those numbers were just to further illustrate my point that not every link or story is created equal. The engagement that I got from those free posts was probably more views than all of the mom bloggers views combined that I secured before.

I try to balance my work to make sure that I am focusing on outlets or influencers that are worth while for the client. Make sure you are getting valuable pieces of coverage and not just the scraps.

Line Between PR and Advertising is Blurry

I have been working in Public Relations for just over two years now. In college it was very easy for me to tell the difference between advertising and PR. Advertising is paid and PR is free (earned). The more I continue to work in PR the more I see that is not true.

Here is an example. I mostly see this with magazines, but it can occur anywhere. Some magazines are not be willing to publish editorial content unless my client is advertising with them. I have only been in the game for a couple of years, however my more seasoned colleagues tell me the editorial and advertising departments used to be completely separate. The line is now blurred.

Here is a direct quote from an Editor/Publisher after I pitched a great well-research idea for their magazine. “We usually run editorial in conjunction with our advertising packages.”

Even though the idea was interesting and relevant to the publication it would never see print because my client wasn’t advertising. To an extent I get their dilemma, it’s because print is dying.

Occasionally I will also submit different clients for awards. One Marketing Director told me that my client would have a better chance of winning if they were a regular advertiser. When I heard this for the first time I was shocked. Shouldn’t the product be chosen because it’s a good product? That is not always the case. I have one client that consistently wins an award every year because they are a regular advertiser.

I was also talking with a co-worker that was a former editor of a magazine. He specially mentioned that they wouldn’t run editorial on a product if they stopped advertising, or weren’t advertising a lot. Even though the information was newsworthy enough for the magazine it was not included. AS the publishers they have the discretion to do that, but it was very eye opening.

I don’t run into this every day. I have a lot of success working with social media influencers and other publications that are willing to publish relevant content. I just think it is interesting that the line between PR and advertising is crossing.

This has been my experience, but I am excited to see if this anyone else has had a similar experiences.

Here are a two examples. One more recent and one from a couple of years ago.

My friend showed me this video where Martin Garrix did a concert for deaf people. It was awesome! So, is this advertising or PR?

In my opinion this is PR. My rationale is because the video was made to evoke emotion and to make you think highly of 7UP. Most advertisements are meant to push products and they have that “buy me now” feel. Those aren’t the feelings that I get from this video. I would also have no problem sharing this video on social media but I would definitely not share a 7UP commercial. I don’t even like 7UP.

This is where things get complicated. This video wasn’t free. Martin Garrix was obviously compensated and there were thousands of dollars spent on the concert and video production. Per my definition above, PR is anything that is free, right?

Here is a definition that I came up with for these type of videos.
PR Driven Content: Content that is created in order to evoke emotion, but is not necessarily focused on pushing or selling products. Most of the videos that I have seen like this are funny and relatable to any audience.

Here are two other examples:

Lyft:
Recently Lyft has created a campaign by having celebrities go undercover as Lyft drivers. They are hilarious! It’s a funny video that people would have no problem sharing even if they were a constant Uber user. Their undercover videos have a combined amount of around 16 million views.

By my definition all of these PR-Driven Content videos cost money and were sponsored by a product or service. So what do you guys think, are they advertising or PR?

Websites and Public Relations Go Hand-in-Hand

If you didn’t already know things are pretty digital these days! It still amazes me that some companies don’t have websites. I know some companies don’t have social media, but how could you not have a website?

Obviously there are many other factors that play in to why a company would not have a website. I found an interesting article that mentions a few reasons. If you want more details check it out, but for now I will mention a few of the main points.

  1. We would like to have a website, but it costs too much
  2. We already advertise in different ways, change is scary
  3. We are too small to have a website

I would like to talk about how websites affect public relations efforts.

Public relations is all about influencing the publics’ opinion through communication, right? Does a website communicate to the public? It certainly does, that is the whole point of a website.

Most companies are trying to sell a product or service and a website is a great information center. The information on websites needs to reflect the values of the company.

First, let’s take a look at superficial details of a website. If I go to a website that is ugly and cluttered, I automatically think the company is not credible. Is this just me?

While I was researching doctors for my wife I came upon a horrendous website. I would never go to that doctor’s office just based off his website. He may have the best care in the world but I would never know because I left his site immediately and kept searching.

Take a look at these two websites and you tell me who you think is more credible.

Pure Healing Foods

Nature Nate’s

Second, website content is important, but let’s be real, if there is no visual appeal not many people are going to waste their time reading the content. When was the last time you meticulously read website content?

81 percent of shoppers conduct online research before buying! If that statistics doesn’t want to make you get a website then I don’t know what will. Here is another statistics, 61 percent of shoppers read product reviews before making a purchase!

I never buy any huge purchases without researching it online. I do understand that not everyone is like that. There are a lot of impulse buyers out there.

If consumers are doing research on your company, you want to have something aesthetically pleasing for them to look at. Imagine car shopping and then you come upon this website: Ling Cars.

I am sure this website was made to be intentionally bad, but you get the point.

My main point is that if companies are going to have a websites, please make them presentable. It doesn’t have to be crazy fancy like this website, but it does need to make a good impression because it certainly affects the public’s opinion.

 

A Year and a Half in PR

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I have been slacking on my posts! I have now been working in the Public Relations department of an Advertising Agency for almost a year and a half. Here is what I have learned about Public Relations since graduating college.

In college I learned that public relations is a planned process to influence public opinion, through sound character and proper performance, based on mutually satisfactory two-way communication. I can thank my PR professor for drilling that into my head.

PR is a Planned Process:

The first thing that I have learned since being in the work force is that if the process is not planned it’s not going to be effective. Here is an example. I was in charge of doing community outreach for a small event for one of clients. I had several clients at the time and this event wasn’t a huge priority. Since it wasn’t on the top of my mind I didn’t start reaching out to media until it was too late. PR professionals can’t expect to send information late and then expect the journalist to publish information about the event on short notice. Journalists have deadlines too.

I work with magazines and their editorial deadlines are months before the issues print. I contacted a magazine editor in December about content for their April issue. I was able to secure an interview and coverage. This would not have happened if I reached out in March. The editor would have already written the story and had the necessary sources.

Two-Way Communication: Journalists like Emails, Don’t you?

Sometimes it can be hard to process large amounts of information during a phone call. When pitching reporters ALWAYS send an email before calling. If you call and ask them to write about your new product or amazing event, the first thing they are going to say is, “Please send me an email with all the details.”

I have tried this and it doesn’t work. Send an email and if you don’t hear back follow up with a polite conversation phone call. There are two reasons why the reporter probably didn’t call you back. One, they saw the email and didn’t think the idea was newsworthy or relevant and deleted it. Two, it got buried because they receive hundreds of emails a day. There have been times when I followed up it worked out great. There have been other times when I could tell they were audibly annoyed I was following up. It’s part of the game.

Journalists and PR: Love, Hate Relationship

Since I have started working in PR I have had the chance to speak with many reporters and editors. The feelings toward PR are obviously mixed. There are reporters that absolutely hare PR and don’t like receiving pitches. There are reporters that don’t hate PR, but they like it when it works to their benefit. Then there are the reporters how have no idea what PR professionals do.

I am sure there are many different other feelings toward PR that can be placed in between, however this is what I have experienced. I would be happy to know your thoughts below in the comments.

I was an editor before and I have received tons of terrible pitches so I totally understand each of the feelings I have described above. The best way to help cultivate relationships with reporters is to send good thought-out, newsworthy pitches. They may not be able to cover it every time, but that’s where the relationship starts. This leads me to my last point, research.

Research Before Sending Pitches

This sounds obvious, but it is very important. I learned this lesson the hard way. About a month into my job I sent a pitch to a Huffington post contributing writer. I skimmed (did not fully read) some of her articles and I felt I had a good grasp of her stance on a subject. I sent her a pitch and she ripped me apart. I didn’t’ read enough because the stance I thought she had was the exact opposite. She ended up writing a nasty post about me on her blog and said that I didn’t look old enough to be working in PR. This hurt. I apologized and she responded with “ignorance is no excuse.”

Keep this in mind while pitching. Make sure you ask all the necessary questions before pressing send on that pitch. Asking one more good questions could save you a lot of time, and embarrassment. The reporter even took my LinkedIn profile picture and put it in the blog post! Don’t let this happen to you.

Hopefully you have been able to learn a little bit from my experiences. If you have had different experience with PR I would love to hear them.

 

 

The Evolution of Snapchat: Discover It

Snapchat is officially more than a picture a video sharing app. Last week they introduced the “Discover” feature. This feature allows users to see daily news updates from the following news outlets.

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According to a new report from BlobalWebIndex Snapchat’s global user base grew 57 percent in 2014. That was more than any other social media app.

Snapchat is always looking to improve the way people use their app. The new Discover section is genius for several reasons. First, Snapchat is getting money from those outlets to essential advertise with them. Second, they are appealing to a broader audience with news stories. Third, it makes people spend more time on the app, which looks good to investors.

The great thing for ESPN, Comsopolitan, CNN and other featured networks is the guaranteed exposure. Lots of people are using Snapchat, around 100 million, so for me this investment is a no-brainer. I wish Snapchat would disclose the agreements they have with the outlets.

I want to know how much they are paying to be on Snapchat. It would be interesting to see those figures!

I personally haven’t used the Discover section a whole lot, however, it has potential. I already have the ESPN app on my phone, but the design of the Discover section is so sleek and clean that I visit just to see what they put on there.IMG_2334

The design is amazing because they have moving images and auto playing videos. Go and try it for yourself, but essentially what happens is it will show an image and then pan over a little and then place the article title. You can scroll down for the full article or you can swipe left for the next article. If you want to leave, simply swipe up!

It’s user friendly and really easy to use. I also want to know how long it takes them to code each news section since they have to update it daily. Once you are finished with the news outlet there is a quick reminder to return.

I have seen a few ads while using the Discover section. They don’t annoy me and if it looks appealing I might ever watch. However, I might be an anomaly because I love watching ads. The great thing about the ads is that you can swipe right past them if you want. You are not forced to watch them!

Snapchat is still on the rise! My Dad uses Snapchat! I never thought that I would say that even though he is very techsavvy. It is so convenient to send quick photos and videos without having to save them to your phone.

IMG_2340Apparently Snapchat is also going to have their own show. I am not going to go into that right not because I am not sure of all the logistics.

Overall, I think Snapchat is a forward thinking company. Brands are picking up on it too. I follow Taco Bell on Snapchat and I love learning about new products through it. I don’t watch TV anymore because of all the streaming services. This is a great alternative for businesses.

I have also seen some other ads on Snapchat under the Story feature. The great part about them is that you don’t have to watch them. That is one more win for Snapchat because they are bringing in the dough.

What do you think about the Discover section? How do you guys think Snapchat is doing? Are they moving in the right direction?

Reaching Your Audience is Harder Than Ever

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With increased content, advertising and garbage on the internet it is becoming hard and harder not only to reach your audience, but to engage them.

I have noticed over the past few months a number of companies that have amazing followings on Facebook, but have terrible engagement. Why is this happening? How can they have so many fans but such little engagement?

One of the main reasons is Facebook’s new rules, but that’s not the entire problem. Before I address those problem let’s look at two examples of what I mean when I say these companies have low engagement on Facebook.

Numbers Don’t Lie

Let’s start with the most liked Facebook page, Coca-Cola. They have 92,477,063 likes. Their most recent post received around 43,000 likes.

Math time: If Coca-Cola engaged 43,000 fans that is roughly .46% of their entire audience. When you look at that number it doesn’t seem like they are engaging that many fans. Their Christmas day post had 70,000 likes, which is around .76% of their entire audience. Once again, that number doesn’t pop off the page, but compared to other brands that is amazing!

The other companies that I am talking about have around 100,000 fans and only have around 10 to 15 likes for organic posts. Their boosted posts receive around 1,000 to 1,200 likes.

Math time: If they engaged only 10 fans that is .01% of their entire audience. Even if they had 1,000 fans like the post that is only a measly 1%.

Where are the other fans and consumers? Are they not being reached or are they simply not engaging with the content? It’s a little bit of both!

If I was a business owner and I saw those numbers, I would be alarmed. After writing this part of the blog I found an article on Twitter that backs up my math!

There are two reasons for this: Facebook’s algorithm changed and many of those likes aren’t even real people, they are bots or were bought from a farm-click company.

My main point is that it is hard to reach your audience, and Facebook isn’t making it any easier!

Main Changes to Facebook’s Algorithm

Last month’s announce of Facebook’s algorithm change will affect small business more than any other business. The changes will now make it harder for business to reach the fans they have already accrued over the years. So if you have 100,000 fans, it might only organically reach about 1% (1,000) of those fans. In worst cases it won’t even reach 1%.

Businesses will now have to pay to reach the fans who have already liked their page. This is ridiculous, that is why people like Facebook pages, so they can see their posts! Companies have already spent money boosting posts to reach people to obtain likes. Now Facebook is making them pay to reach those fans that they already paid to gain. It’s a scam!

Facebook is making it an advertising game and everyone is going to have to play along or get off. Facebook doesn’t care because they are going to bring in millions regardless. Some business will drop off, but the majority will increase their budget.

Facebook of course is trying to put a positive spin on the change by trying to say that they are “cleaning up” people’s news feeds. Let’s not forget that if a person doesn’t like a brand’s content, they can simply unlike the page. It’s the same thing as unsubscribing from a spammy newsletter that you receive in your inbox. If you don’t like it you can hit the unsubscribe button.

As of January 2015 no promotional posts will be allowed! Facebook defines any of the following as being promotional:

  1. Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
  2. Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
  3. Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

In a recent article from the Wall Street Journal, Chrisy Bossie built a $100,000-a-year gemstone e-commerce business by sharing information about her products on her company’s Facebook page several times a week.

With the new changes Bossie said in the article that she has already had to double her budget to keep sales the same! This change is going to destroy small businesses. OK that might be an exaggeration, but it’s not going to help.

Likes Don’t Equal Profit

I work at an ad agency in the Public Relations department and I sit very close to the Digital Marketing team and we talk often about this problem.

There is a client who wants to reach a certain amount of likes on their Facebook page and each month they are paying a crazy amount of money to do so. Has engagement increased? No!

Owners are worried about “likes” it as if it were a popularity contest; engagement rates aren’t even on their radar. What is more important?

Remember that all likes are not created equal! Smaller businesses are promoting product to a smaller audience, an audience that could directly purchase a product online. Their engagement is much more important than a Coca-Cola post.

I would not directly click on a Coca-Cola post and buy a Coke online. This may be different for the aforementioned Chrisy Bossie, who may have her audience click on the link and bring them to an online store. I hope you can see how this is going to affect small businesses.

Takeaways

If your company is spending thousands of dollars to increase likes on your page, that doesn’t mean that you will be able to reach them in the future, unless you want to pay…again.

You will no longer be able to post promotional content and if you do the organic reach will be around 0%. This will be effect as of January 2015, but some businesses are already seeing changes.

Do you think that these changes are positive? How will they affect small and large businesses?