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Seven Social Media Tips For Local Government

Increasing Constituent Satisfaction and

Citizen Involvement

 Step 1: Understand how the agency is being portrayed in social media.

A person, business or institution does not have to be an active user of social media to have a social media presence.  People online are already talking about you – the good, the bad and the ugly.  Moreover, for a public agency, there are important topics and issues that are being addressed in social media that government can have a positive role if it is aware of online public sentiment.  So, the first step to engaging in social media is to listen to cyberspace and analyze what is happening.  Continue reading “Seven Social Media Tips For Local Government”

When An NFL Quarterback Calls an Audible

Drew BreesA lawsuit is a powerful way to put a lot of pressure to convince other people to pay.  Sometimes it’s a just correction of a wrong sometimes it’s not.  However, once they are filed, they are public information and, therefore, can find their way into the news.

A lawsuit filed against you or your company requires expert crisis communications management even if it’s not in the news.  Lawyers almost always recommend silence.  But silence can imply guilt and affect a company’s reputation in a way that affects the bottom line.  When questioned by reporters, a skilled publicist can often help keep the court action from becoming news.  If it’s already a story, the publicist can ensure your key messages don’t included “no comment.”

Obviously, NFL quarterback Drew Brees is a very famous person.  As soon as he files a law suit, it’s in the news.  Insofar as publicity is concerned, Brees has the advantage of both being a popular personality and the plaintiff, not the defendant.  If you’re the defendant in the news, what is your first move?

  1. Take a deep breath.  Keep a cool head.  This will pass.
  2. Do not manage the press yourself.  Refer to your company’s “crisis communications plan” which should include bringing in an outside expert who is detached from the story.
  3. Move all crisis communications out of the office.  Firewall bad news so it has the least impact on company moral.  Crisis communications should include internal communications with staff which is candid, factual and optimistic.
  4. Choose a single spokesperson.  Refer all reporters to that spokesperson.  They should be available 24/7 to screen all reporter calls and answer media inquiries in an orderly fashion.
  5. Answer all reporters.  You can state you will have a statement in 24 hours, but answer all reporters’ emails and phone calls with a prepared statement.
  6. Tell the truth.  Often, this is painful.  Always, this is necessary.
  7. Stay calm.  Focus on the positive.  Don’t do “spin” – only relevant factual information.

By having a simple, easy-to-execute crisis communications plan in place, a surprise lawsuit won’t derail your business before you have even entered the courtroom.   In fact, when handled well, it can/should enhance your reputation.  The key is the be prepared and delegate communications to experts in this particular type of publicity.

YouTube + WordPress

One of the most powerful ways to communicate is by using YouTube videos embedded into blog posts.  The process is simple.  Record the video.  Upload it to YouTube.  Copy the YouTube video URL into the wordpress blog post (without a hyperlink).  The result is a YouTube video embedded into your blog post.

“10 things PR pros do” – Claire Celsi

Claire Celsi, a self-described “Public Relations Princess,” is a publicist based in DeMoines, Iowa.  On her blog – which is, like mine, her website, she posted one of the most popular articles reposted by Ragan’s PR Daily, a very widely-read (famous to us insiders) PR blog.   There’s good reason.  She lists the ten most important tasks that a publicist does and describes how what they look like in real life.  PR Princess

1. They shape the debate. Ethanol is a mandated fuel mix in many states. But winning the hearts and minds of the American consumer was the goal. My job was to identify the knowledge level of the consumer, identify strengths and weaknesses, and to use public relations channels to inform the public through a variety of means.

2. They research. Its critical to be able to measure the impact of any communications campaign.  For a retail client for whom we staged their grand opening, we implemented social networking sites and documented calls to help us identify where targeted publicity is driving sales.

3. They write. After identifying key messages, we wrote the key messages into all kinds of documents. We wrote fact sheets, news releases, media pitches, position papers, PowerPoint presentations, op-ed pieces, Web copy, blog posts, and ad copy.  Once you have your core message, ride that pony ’till it drops.

4. They plan special events. The photo above was taken at an event at a Dallas 7-Eleven store. Our second driver, Jeff Simmons, took over behind the wheel after Paul Dana passed away. That event featured two more Indy car drivers, the Secretary of Energy, and ethanol advocates from all over the country. We gave away cheap ethanol and pitched reporters all over the state. It took a lot of time and planning, but it reaped benefits in the local media and taught Texas to pronounce ethanol “Eth-an-ol” rather than “eeeth-an-ol.”

5. They manage crisis situations. When Paul Dana died, the ethanol industry suffered a psychological blow. Not only was the circuit’s most passionate and visible advocate dead, but he died in a fiery crash in the ethanol “E” car. Not a great visual. Moving the organization past this loss and regrouping was part of my job.

6. They talk to the media. I formed relationships with media across the country while working on the ethanol account. It was my job to think of as many angles as possible, so my team worked hard on finding reporters from as many beats as we could. We ended up pitching energy reporters, business reporters, feature reporters, and trend reporters. The most memorable and creative pitch my team did ended up appearing as an AP story in more than 140 different media outlets.

7. They find advocates. There were many allies of ethanol, such as corn growers, industry groups, convenience stores, “Clean Cities” initiatives, and of course, the Indy Racing League. It was our job to reach out to them and form alliances for our client, and figure out ways we could work together.

8. They tell the truth. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, it’s tempting to skip steps, make assumptions, and push the button before the facts are checked. Sometimes the client is asking you to do things that push the boundary of the truth. Sometimes it’s your boss. Don’t be tempted to take shortcuts that will undermine your credibility with your team, client, or employers.

9. They educate themselves. PR Professionals should be among the smartest people on the team. They’re articulate, well read, and care deeply about the subject matter they represent. They keep up on current events, read the newspaper, and know about what’s going on in the world.

10. They use new media tools. There has been much debate about the role of social media in the PR world. Moving forward, I can’t imagine a PR professional doing a thorough job in any industry without using all tools as their disposal.

Seven Publicity Tricks

Any business can generate publicity for themselves.  It takes creativity, diplomacy and patience.  It not “who you know” it’s “how you say it” that makes the difference.
We’ve included seven go-to publicity tips to help with the creativity.  These are very common business story angles that journalists look for when deciding what to report.  So, what does diplomacy and patience have to do with publicity?
It is very easy for us to get caught up in our own enthusiasm for our business.  This is a good thing.  Reporters like enthusiasm and passion.  In fact, if our clients aren’t passionate about what they do and how they do it, we don’t take the account.  Passion is key – if it’s combined with diplomacy.
Journalists are very busy workers.  They are under a tremendous amount of pressure from their editors and producers to generate compelling, newsworthy stories.  Moreover, they have dozens, perhaps hundreds, of story pitches and press releases being thrown their way by passionate advocates for their own cause.  Some of the people contacting them are more aggressive than others.   Diplomacy can help you rise to the top compared to amateurs who can become pushy when a journalist doesn’t call them back much less cover their story. Yes, it can be frustrating, but it’s all part of the process.  Be diplomatic.
Often, a journalist will be able to fit your story in later – not now.  So you also have to be patient and continue to feed the journalists story ideas month after month.  Soon enough – one will be the right topic at the right time.  This is why it’s important to be consistent with your publicity over time.  Help the journalist write about you when they have a demand for a story, not when you have a demand for a story to be written.
Here are some ideas:
  1. Be the first, newest, oldest, biggest, smallest, etc. and explain why this is important.
  2. Introduce something new or improved and focus on key benefits or problems it solves.
  3. Announce anniversaries and stage a special event to celebrate.
  4. Announce a new member of your team and how they will change the way you do business.
  5. Win an award. Of course, you have to find them and apply, but third-party recognition are great tools.
  6. Announce a new major client – the bigger the better. Another third-party endorsement.
  7. Offer to be an expert on a specific topic or event. Journalists always need quotes from experts. Help them out and they’ll put you in an article.