Category Archives: Agile Engagement

Potent & Creative Content Earns Attention: See The EARNIES Winners!


Earlier this month, we announced the winners of our 2nd earned media awards program, The Earnies.  The caliber of work was impressive and is testament to the fact that PR professionals and marketers are truly pushing creative boundaries and thinking outside the box to successfully connect with their audiences and drive business results.  And with thousands of votes cast by our community, this year’s winners can walk away knowing their work was admired not just by us, but by their peers.

The winners are:

The Earnies Grand Prix:   The Advertising Council

Campaign: “FWD Campaign” by the Ad Council and USAID

usaid mnr

A snapshot of the Multimedia News Release used to promote the FWD>> campaign. Click on the image to see the actual MNR.

 In an effort to raise national awareness about the famine, war and drought in the Horn of Africa, The Ad Council joined forces with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and created the FWD (Famine, War, Drought) campaign, encouraging Americans to FWD the facts about the crisis and support relief operations.  By leveraging a variety of social media channel and the influence of their partners, allies and agencies to spread the message, the Ad Council achieved astounding results – reaching millions of people, igniting incredible audience interaction and generating an impressive amount of content surrounding the campaign.

Best Use of Video in Social Media: LatentView Analytics

Campaign: Confessions of a Serial Analyst

In order to showcase their workplace culture, LatentView Analytics tested their filmmaking skills and also put their own in front of the camera. “Confessions of a Serial Analysts” was filmed in their India office and the result was a fun, short film that resulted in thousands of video views and Facebook likes – and gave viewers insight into the world of LatentView Analytics.

Best Connection to Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook Audience: New Media Strategies

Campaign: Engaging the casual wine buyer: The Wine Bar Facebook Community

wine tasting
Diageo Chateau & Estates needed help establishing a social presence for their Lifestyle Wines and attracting a younger demographic of wine drinkers.  After conducting thorough research of the audience, their behaviors, likes and wants, as well as of the competition, New Media Strategies strategically created an editorial calendar which focused on easily digestible and visual content and launched a new Facebook page to reach this audience. The Wine Bar Facebook page quickly became an online wine community that boasts a fan base of 31,000+ with extremely high interaction outpacing the competition

We Can’t Believe That Worked!:New Media Strategies

Campaign: ACCCE “Click-to-Call” Grassroots Advocacy

earnies12-believe-NewMediaACCCE, American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, wanted rally online advocates to take offline action, increase the level of activism and increase online visibility in search and social.  In order to do so, New Media Strategies, needed to identify a way to do so quickly and easily, and motivate “an army of grassroots supporters into a quantifiable result.”  Using a two-fold approach, educate and activate, NMS developed a first-of-its-kind, a click-to-call campaign using Twitter, owned email lists and Facebook to connect local supporters directly to their  state senators.  With 3,300 calls and 41 hours of constituent-to-congressional-office talk time and promoted tweets, ACCCE saw a ~153 percent increase in followers. Furthermore, Twitter and Google used this campaign to create platform case studies, highlighting the success of this campaign as a first-of-its-kind in the advocacy space.

Best Use of Social Listening for Campaign Planning: General Electric

Campaign: HealthyShare: Surprise & Delight

ge tweetLooking to strengthen the public’s association of health and health-related subjects with the General Electric brand, GE developed a campaign that would allow them to have meaningful conversations about health, engage audiences that were interested in such subjects and grow brand enthusiasm.  By using a refined list of Twitter search terms and carefully listening to conversations taking place on Twitter, GE was able to identify a strong audience base to target, establish trust and share healthy gifts that helped generated earned media and new brand advocates.

Best Visual Campaign through Pinterest or Instagram: Fathom

ConsumerCrafts Back-to-School Crafter’s Challenge


It’s no surprise that the use of visual content is a necessity for ConsumerCrafts, an online craft store that sells affordable arts & craft supplies for jewelry making, scrapbooking, kid’s crafts and more.  So in order to increase Pinterest followers and pins, Fathom and ConsumerCrafts developed a contest that invited users to submit photos of creative kid’s craft projects using back-to-school items.  The winning entry was simply determined by the highest number of repins.  ConsumerCrafts saw a significant increase of blog and website referral traffic, engagement from bloggers promoting the contest, hundreds of repins and was able to identify new followers, as well.

Best Use of an Infographic: Cisco Systems

Campaign: The Internet of Things

earnies12-infographic-CiscoInternetArmed with the understanding that there are more devices tapping into the Internet than people on Earth to use them, Cisco set out to bring awareness that connections to the Internet go way beyond the obvious – computers, tablets and phones – and explain the impact this has on business.  Furthermore, Cisco sought to drive positive conversation around their brand and its role in bringing the network into its current, impressive state.  By creating an infographic and thoughtful messaging to support it, and then promoting it through multiple channels, Cisco’s campaign, “The Internet of Things,” was a huge success.  In fact, Cisco noticed a 30% increase in quantity of conversation and a 7% increase in sentiment; 100MM+ impressions, impressive media pick up and significant social conversation and tweets by thousands, including industry influencers.

Best Global Communications Campaign: Tourico Holidays, Inc

Campaign: Best Hotel Promotion Combined with a Worthy Cause!

earnies12-global-TourisoIn an effort to increase revenue during a one-month global promotion and also raise $40,000 for Give Kids the World Village, Tourico Holidays had to get creative.  By engaging contracted hotels and creating a system that encourages small donations, a match program, along with promotion of the campaign through email, social media, at events and on their website, Tourico was able to increase the number of bookings by 93% and increase revenue by an impressive $685,000.  Before all of the check-ins even occurred, they were able to donate the $40,000 to Give the Kids the World Village and hope to triple that once all hotel check-ins are made.

Best Integrated Campaign on a Shoestring Budget: Gutterglove

Campaign: Gutterglove Brings China Manufacturing Back to California

earnies12-grandprix-GuttergloveGutterglove wanted to bring awareness to the fact that bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. would improve the American economy and began to create the content to do so.  With just $3,000 to spend, Gutterglove was forced to think outside the box.  One of their employees, John Quincy Adams IV, was the descendant of our former presidents and leveraged this fact and incorporated it into messaging to spark additional interest in their story. That, along with a website dedicated to promoting the cause, helped Gutterglove see huge earned media success across broadcast, print and social media.

Best Piece of Branded Content: CSC

Campaign: Connected Consumer

With a new, major Leading Edge Forum (LEF) report, “Connected Consumer and the Future of Financial Services” in hand, CSC wanted to put this piece of content to work to stimulate conversation among the media, analysts and clients, enhance their reputation, promote themselves as thought leaders and generate leads.  By executing a thorough, targeted, multi-channel campaign that considered internal and external stakeholders and influencers, CSC’s campaign was able to do so. By implementing a number of tactics – including live-tweeting of a panel discussion, relevant, third-party blog posts, town halls, dedicated sales tools and more, CSC secured coverage in major financial services outlets,  received enthusiastic feedback from analysts,  garnered more than 40,000 Twitter impressions in just over a week and generated hundreds of leads through downloading of the report.

We were inspired (and a bit awed) by these winning entries, and the runners up.   Our congratulations to the winning entrants, and our hearty thanks to our judges:

And thanks also to YOU, our readers who cast their votes to determine the final winners!

What the Pew Social Media Usage Report Reveals to Communicators

Last week the Pew Internet & American Life Project released its report on social media users for 2012.   The report’s findings detail the social media behaviors of different demographic groups, and provide some important guidance for communicators.

Here are some of the key take-aways for PR and marketing pros:

  • Align content (and calls to action) with your target demographics.  The Pew report reveals some strong differences in social media platform preferences between gender and ethnic groups.   If your brand has a narrow focus, such as a product specifically for African-American women, you’ll want to be sure that your brand has included a well-developed Instagram channel and Twitter presence.  Why?  According to Pew, Instagram users skew toward young adults, African-Americans and urban residents.  Twitter users show similar demographic characteristics.    However, if you want to reach women more broadly, you’ll need to throw Pinterest into the mix, to pick up its white female user population, and Facebook, which is used by women of all races.
  • Visuals, visuals, visuals.  Pinterest and Twitter are neck and neck in terms of user numbers, and Twitter has been around a lot longer.   The near-vertical arc of Pinterest’s growth tells me two things.  First, brands need to be on Pinterest.  Second, visuals need to be the cornerstone of communications, not an accessory.    While the popularity image-centric networks like Pinterest and Instagram is undeniable, it’s also important to note that Twitter and Facebook (Instagram’s parent) have made significant improvements on the display of multimedia content within their primary user experiences.
  • Social media is here to stay.   More than any strong differences in behavior among groups, the Pew report paints a picture of the ubiquity of social media.   Whether you live in an urban or rural setting, whether you have a high school diploma or an advanced degree – you’re almost equally likely to be using a social platform.   The usage statistics are all within a few percentage points of each other, and across the board, usage percentages all exceed 65%.   The one significant difference in user group behavior is age-related.  Younger people are significantly more likely to be using social media than their elders.

Here’s a link to the full Pew State of Social Media Users – 2012 report.  It’s succinct and does a great job of summarizing the data, and is well worth a read.

Once you’ve identified key demographics, your next step is to identify influentials among the group.  Here are some ideas for finding and building relationships with the connected insiders who are so important to successful brands today.

sarah avatarAuthor Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media, and is the author of the e-book “Unlocking Social Media for PR.”  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

Tesla vs. the New York Times: New-School Crisis Communications on Display

A lot of discussion and PR thought leadership have been focused on managing crises in this age immediate communications and networked audiences.

However, a fascinating situation that’s unfolding right now between the New York Times and Tesla Motors highlights the important opportunity brands have to tell their side of the story immediately and convincingly when they have a dispute with the news coverage, and it sure beats the daylights out of having a correction or clarification printed three days after the fact.    Simply put, brands don’t have to take what they consider to be unfair or biased coverage lying down.

Here’s what’s happening, in the smallest of nutshells.

John Broder of the NYT test drove a Tesla Model S.  In his unfavorable review of the car published last weekend, he detailed a problem-riddled trip and ultimately had to have the car towed when he said it ran out of power.

Tesla Motors responded quickly, charging that the vehicle’s logs proved that Broder had ignored warnings, driving by charging stations, detouring from the prescribed route and driving at excessive speeds.   According to the company, despite Broder’s best efforts, the car never stopped running.

“ When the facts didn’t suit his opinion, he simply changed the facts,” concluded Tesla CEO Elon Musk in a blog post offering a rich rebuttal to the Times story, including electronic log data that specifically contradicts many of Broder’s claims.

Tesla published electronic logs documenting Broder’s speed during the test drive, and called out inconsistencies in his story. (The emphasis on the chart is Tesla’s.)

On Tuesday, Broder published a response in the Wheels section of the Times, refuting Tesla’s claims in detail.

“My account was not a fake,” he wrote. “It happened just the way I described it.”

This story is still developing and doesn’t yet have a conclusion, at least as far as the relationship between the Times and Tesla is concerned. However, in terms of online sentiment, Tesla appears to be winning.

“… Now that every smart company has a regularly updated blog, Elon Musk has 136,000 Twitter followers, etc., brands can speak for themselves very powerfully,”  noted Dan Frommer, in a post on LinkedIn titled “Tesla vs. The New York Times: Everyone’s A Media Company Now.”  “And if the tone is right, they don’t even look lame: Tesla actually looks pretty great right now. The balance of power has shifted.”

Whatever the outcome, this situation leaves in its wake a couple important lessons for PR pros and anyone charged with safeguarding brand reputation.

  • Your brand’s social connections can morph instantly into advocates during crises, especially if the brand is the victim of foul play.  This is one more reason why developing a strong social presence is a good idea.
  • Your publics are perfectly happy to listen to your side of the story, and facts are powerful fuel for your rebuttal.  Get to know your company’s logging and analytics systems, because that data can provide crucial proof for your side of the story.
  • Hone your company’s response clock speed.  Real-time communications require empowerment, fast multimedia support and the swiftest of approvals.

Whether you need to defend your brand against an angry Facebook fan or some wonky coverage in the New York Times, these two simple lessons can turn the tide of a story before it swamps your reputation.

Catch up with the story yourself:

Original NYT Story: Stalled Out on Tesla’s Electric Highway

Tesla blog post:  A Most Peculiar Test Drive

NYT “Wheels” response:  The Charges are Flying Over a Test of Tesla’s Charging Network

Updated since original publication:

NYT:  The Tesla Data: What it Says and What it Doesn’t

The NYT Public Editor’s take:  Problems With Precision and Judgment, but Not Integrity, in Tesla Test

The Atlantic Wire: Elon Musk’s Data Doesn’t Back His Claims

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.

If your brand’s crisis communications operations aren’t up to snuff, PR Newswire’s Media Room suite can help you plan ahead for those days you hope you never have, enabling comprehensive preparation and rapid response.

Data: The New Creative

What do you think of when you think CES? Gadgets, TVs, Cameras? Most of us do, but the panel assembled for the session on Contextual Media & Advertising was here to discuss the “now what?” of technology.

We have all of these screens, devices, and channels but how do we serve up what the audience wants? It became clear that these devices are giving communicators two things: a place to talk to us and a place to learn about us. Where we are, what we are doing, what price point is the threshold for an impulse purchase, what are we doing after we are served relevant content?

Harnessing that data to accurately communicate and serve up relevant and timely content is the holy grail. According to this panel, we are getting there, but haven’t cracked that code. We are no longer looking at the data as “good to know” historical information, but we are looking at that data to assist in more accurately guessing what comes next.

On a panel that was mostly media or media adjacent companies, there was a lone soldier of the “traditional” in Ellis Burgoyne, Chief Information Officer and Executive Vice President of the United States Postal Service.

It is with Burgoyne that I think the disruptive use of data in a creative way was most exemplified. He spoke of a world where the USPS could tell you what is in your mail box, a world where campaigns are hyper targeted to specific users at specific times in both digital and physical mediums. He also spoke about the ability to have print come to life.

Turns out that the USPS has partnered with Aurasma to create an augmented reality experience for direct mail, a true convergence of traditional and digital. (The video at the top of this post demonstrates some of the other augmented reality experiences Aurasma has developed.)

Burgoyne eloquently painted a picture of a person being alerted to a timely piece of mail that can be scanned to provide additional information revealing a time sensitive offer. Thus engaging with the consumer based on reliable data. The data telling when this person likes to shop, what type of device they use, what action was generated and ultimately how much that person spent. The consumer has a personalized experience and the marketer has a gold mine of information to help them accurately market to that individual.

A little creepy? Maybe, but how many of us get frustrated when we get served up irrelevant ads on our social sites? The only way to get accurate ads is to mine the data that we give when we are online and in store.

The conversation turned toward the success of data mining done by President Obama’s campaign. Joan Hogan Gillman, EVP, Time Warner Cable, Inc. and President, Time Warner Cable Media talked about the level of flexibility and creative pre-planning the campaign did so that they could adjust and adapt as the data streamed in.

Laura Caraccioli, EVP of Advertising at Electus, proposed why not share your data and insights with your creative team? Let them figure out how to design the campaign to adapt to how you want it to ebb and flow.

After sitting in that session it was apparent to me that if we aren’t contextualizing our data to the creative teams we are missing a huge opportunity.

PR Trends for 2013: Evolving Media & Social Business

What’s on tap for PR in 2013?  The answers we received when we asked PR pros to complete the sentence “PR is _____”  provided a harbinger of what the industry can expect in the coming year.

The answers were myriad and varied:  Mind share. Cross-channel conversation.  Content that adds value for readers.  Creating understanding in a complex world.  Engaging dialogue.  A connection between a company and its publics.

And all the answers were correct and point to an emerging reality – PR is getting a lot “bigger.”    The scope of the job is greater, the audiences more vast, the information marketplace is more fluid and the integration with other departments more crucial.

To gain a better angle on the trends for 2013, it’s also important to consider the underlying drivers of trends.

Social Business :   There’s no question that changes in the media environment has had an effect not just on PR departments, but on entire organizations.     Social media has changed customer expectations and introduced an age of radical transparency.  Smart organizations have recalibrated their entire enterprise to connect with, communicate to and serve their customers and prospects.   So what do these changes mean for PR?  A lot, it turns out, from a tactical standpoint.

  • Collaboration & integration:  Silo-busting has taken on a new urgency – it’s crucial for different departments to collaborate in order to deliver a cohesive message strategy and experience for customers across channels.   Social media, inbound and outbound marketing and print buys, for example, all have to work together and make sense.    Print media often drives online behavior, and brands need to plan for (and capture) those actions.
  • Listening & response:  Today’s transparent marketplace puts new pressure on businesses to respond quickly to queries  and comments from their constituents.  This requires communications departments to spool up their social listening efforts, and calibrate their processes (such as review and approval) to speed response.

Evolving media markets:  Journalistic model evolution:  The underlying business models of traditional media continue to evolve – the fact that Newsweek is going all digital in 2013 was probably the most dramatic example from 2012.   What does this mean for PR?  As journalistic models change and go digital, chances are excellent that the folks creating content for digital entities will change how they measure success. Instead of news stand sales, for example, digital metrics, such as the number of times a story was read, shared and commented on – will take precedence.  But the digital environment wages war every second for reader attention .  How can an organization succeed?  By consistently publishing unique, useful and interesting content. Therein is the opportunity for PR pros.

  • Digital media does a great job of serving niche interests, and while the audiences may be smaller, they are enthusiastic and informed.  Find unique story angles to share with tightly focused digital media for maximum visibility to your core audiences.
  • Just because something isn’t “hard news” in the traditional sense doesn’t mean that it won’t be of interest to your audience.  Content that will help your constituents and addresses their pain points plays very well.  Find your internal experts who can offer tips, tactics and advice to your readers.

Mutable social networks:   As we build our communications plans and strategies, it’s important to remember that social platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest have the right to change their service offerings, algorithms and terms of use – and they do.  For example, in November, Twitter ceased to render images from Instagram (owned by Facebook) within its news feed, in order to give images generated by using its own suite of photo filters more visibility to Twitter  users.   Organizations that had created rich content on Instagram, and used Twitter to share it to a wider audience, found themselves in a tight spot, as visibility for the images they distribute was reduced.   At the same time, Pinterest announced that (for the time being at least) they added support for Twitter cards, thus ensuring images shared via Twitter via Pinterest will render  on Twitter’s web site and apps.  Confuzzled?  You’re not alone, and there is no safeguard against these sort of changes, which can negatively impact the investment an organization has made in developing a strong presence on a particular network.  So what should communicators do?

  • Don’t become solely reliant upon a social network.   While social networks are incredibly useful for finding, connecting with and engaging audiences, at some point, the brand needs to develop a more direct relationship with audiences.   Encourage your social connections to participate in events, refer them to content on your own web site, and provide engagement options (live chat, comments, etc.) on your own web site to enable your audience to communicate directly with the brand, via channels the brand owns.

In subsequent posts, we’ll discuss trends in PR tactics and outcomes for 2013. Watch this space for more!   In the meantime, you can access an archive of a recent webinar titled PR Prepping for the New Year: A Look at the Evolution of Modern PR & What It Means for You discussing the evolution of PR and trends for 2013.  Panelists included:

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.


A 6 Step Plan to Maximize Content Marketing with Agile Engagement

cm marketing paperThe bad news first: The sheer momentum with which the two phenomena are evolving today is swamping many marketing departments. It turns out that generating enough high value content in ways that are meaningful to multiple social audiences is a monumental challenge in today’s always-on media world.

The good news? Owned and earned media were born to leverage off one another – and their combined impact often proves to be far greater than the sum of their parts. Successful PR professionals work toward a self-renewing “virtuous cycle” in which owned media is published by a brand, audiences play it forward as earned media, and the amplification continues as these ripples spread throughout the social sphere.

And there’s even more good news: owned media is not limited solely to the videos, white papers, tweets and other content you produce; it also includes the multimedia platforms you’ve creatively designed to host that stream of brand messaging, as well as the communities you’ve built and diligently maintained around your messaging. With these multiple manifestations of owned media comes a greater resulting opportunity for earning media.

We’ve just published a new white paper titled “Content Marketing: A Six Step Plan for Agile Engagement” designed to help you get your arms around earned media opportunities and incorporating the agile engagement construct into your communications plans. We hope you enjoy the  paper, and invite your feedback in the comments below!

Link: Content Marketing: A Six Step Plan for Agile Engagement

Earned Media: Capturing Audience Attention

According to  Altimiter Group’s Rebecca Lieb, who  addressed  Future M conference attendees recently, today’s media environment is a “virtual Times Square; an environment of screens.”  As consumers, she noted, we are bouncing from device to device and message to message.  We are “tuning out the noise and too distracted to concentrate.”  This is an environment that makes it even harder for brands to capture the attention of their audiences.

Her analogy is a good one.  Your first experience on New York’s bustling midtown streets can be exhilarating – amazed by the bright lights, flashing billboards, and bustling crowds.  You may try to soak it all in, capture the moments on camera and embrace the chaos.  The third or fourth time, however, might not be quite the same.  Anymore, when I think about Times Square, I consider the quickest exit strategy; the detour I can take to get around the dizzying lights and crowded streets to my final destination.  Something has to be quite intriguing to capture my attention there, and therein is the challenge for brands today.

So how should brands tackle this challenge? By being ubiquitous.  By being visible across all media channels and creating a dynamic and consistent story in paid, owned and earned media spaces.  By creating “branded surround sound,” as Lieb puts it, and implementing an integrated strategy in which all channels work in concert to amplify one another and ultimately maximize the impact of the overall strategy.  Consumers are simply looking for the most relevant and engaging information – in the instant that they need it and in the channel they are seeking it, and to remain relevant, a brand message must be wherever they are.

This informed and active consumer, along with the emergence of new social platforms where they have the power to share and play a brand message forward, has caused a shift in the scales of paid, owned and earned media.  It has spurred a transfer of influence from traditional marketing to this new, evolved converged media where earned media, more commonly known as PR, is taking the crown as King.  Owned media, too, is rising in influence, helping sustain the buzz of a brand generated by earned media, in turn, posing a challenge to paid media.  Still a necessary component, there is a growing opportunity for paid media to leverage owned media & earned media to stay relevant.

The new playing field requires communications professionals to reimagine their strategies of the past.  They must create more holistic programs, programs driven by engaging content, constantly streaming from brand to consumer.   Marketers are using enhanced PR tools to cost-effectively communicate with their audiences through multimedia content.  PR pros are doing more than managing brand reputation, but are evolving their role as storytellers to influence consumer behavior and drive demand through earned media.  The convergence, while it opens up the door to more opportunities for a brand, also requires willingness to adapt, an integration and collaboration among departments, a strategy that aligns across departments, as well as to the overall business goals, and the ability to act with agility.  Understanding the impact of the converged media landscape gives you an edge in the virtual Times Square within which we are living.

Are you an earned media wizard?  The deadline to enter the Earnies is approaching.   Entry is free! To enter the Earnies, simply review the categories, and then click the pink “Submit an Entry Now” button under the category that best fits your campaign.

Author Meryl Serouya is a marketing communciations associate with PR Newswire.