Tag Archives: social media

3 Reasons Why Law Firms Should Be Active on Social Media

Research conducted by Good2BSocial finds that a majority of law firms understand importance of social media but are reluctant to engage clients with it. On the other hands, top law firms in the US and UK found direct correlations between social media use and client success. As search and social become the go-to methods of finding and sharing information, law firms are slowly recognizing the business advantages of creating content to locate and engage prospects. At Business Development Institute’s recent “Social Media Marketing Summit for Law Firms,” legal experts and content marketing thought leaders discussed the importance of social media as a tool for law firms to get discovered, build credibility, and ultimately generate business.

“It should be the job of every lawyer to be active and engaging on social media,” says Guy Alvarez, chief engagement officer at Good2BSocial. The nature of the industry is changing and large, well-established law firms are facing serious competition from the smaller firms who are using technology to generate greater awareness for their brands and gain more clients. Additionally, law firms that are active on channels that law students frequently access such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have a competitive advantage in recruiting top-tier talent. As discussed at the summit, here are three reasons why law firms should be active on social media:

Social media is a discovery tool  

According to Leslie Prizant, general counsel for CarePoint Health, “Content is key but searchability and how easy it is to navigate a website is more important.” In today’s digital environment a strong web presence gives brands an air of credibility, a crucial component to the legal industry which is founded on principles of trust. But searchability is contingent upon several factors, including the quality of content a brand creates and how it is disseminated.  Solely relying on owned channels such as the company website, blog, and social media pages to spread awareness limits the reach of messages to existing followers and does not continuously acquire new audiences and influencers. This is where the importance of multi-channel distribution comes in to build credibility and generate greater brand awareness.

“The currency of a law firm is intellectual capital” says Andrew Meranus, regional vice president at PR Newswire, in reference to the importance of content creation and distribution for law firms. Distributing content through a mix of owned, earned, and paid media channels establishes legal expertise and affords brands the opportunity to be heard among new audiences and get noticed by influencers looking for expert sources. Major firms including White & Case and Fenwick West are utilizing wire distribution to promote branded content and drive traffic back to their company websites. Amplification of messages, which must be highly relevant, compelling, timely, and consistent, is what seeds social interactions and drives discoverability for the brand.

Social media is a credibility tool

“We need to be human on social media,” asserts Alvarez, “people hire lawyers not law firms.” Social tools and practices are becoming an important part of criteria that potential clients use when choosing a firm to do business with. Social intelligence tools can help monitor topics of interest and business pain points that are relevant clients and prospects, which helps firms provide the solutions that stay ahead of trends and build their credibility.

Social media is a business acquisition tool 

Hans Haglund chief business development and marketing officer at Blank Rome LLP explains that the connection between your firm’s social media strategy and business development strategy is critical. A business development analysis by Blank Rome LLP shows that efficient use of social media increases lead generation and profitability for law firms, with a lead to conversion rate of around 10 percent. It is important to note that conversions are heavily dependent upon good content that is formatted for consumption on social, is shareable, and drives traffic to company website.

Some best practices for law firms who want to create content and engage on social media include:

  1. Legal messages need to be specifically targeted to relevant audiences. Email blasts and folders with collateral are antiquated marketing methods in the digital age, but powerful content with proper context is effective.
  2. Get rid of legal jargon. Most readers are business people and they need to be able to understand the information you are providing.
  3. Make it easy for your clients and targets to share your content by including social share buttons on blog posts, your web site, and client memos.
  4. Use multimedia and share relevant content. “Visual is an emerging and very important type of content that should be used whenever possible” Alvarez recommends. Instead of a text-heavy blog post, you can create a visual representation of legal processes through infographics. Additionally, Alvarez emphasizes the value of producing videos even if they aren’t of high production quality. For example, videos taken of legal reps speaking at conferences will still be effective because audiences are more interested in the substance of that content rather than the production value.
  5. Breaker larger pieces of content into smaller pieces. There is a use for longer format but it should not be focus on social media.
  6. Include a call to action with each piece of content. Longer form pieces should be a value added piece for lead generation, with full-length PDFs and blog posts available for download in exchange for contact information.
  7. Use keywords people are searching for. If the content is out there, make sure it is available to the people who are actively seeking this information.
  8. Distribute content across multiple channels. Your digital footprint is a major factor in establishing credibility, expertise, and growing your audience.

For more insight on PR and marketing for law firms, click to view the latest blog post “Legal PR and Marketing: A Behind the Scenes Look” on Profnet Connect. 

ShannonAuthor Shannon Ramlochan is the Content Marketing Coordinator at PR Newswire. Follow her on twitter @sramloch.

 

8 Tips for PR Pros Who Want to Avoid Being Muted on Twitter

With Twitter’s announcement this week of the ‘mute’ feature, which will allow people to hide from their feeds tweets by Twitter accounts they follow, PR pros have to think even harder about their Twitter strategy.

You may think that because your brand has thousands of followers that you are reaching thousands of people. No. It wasn’t so before (people aren’t watching their Twitter feeds 24/7) and it may be even less so with the new mute feature.

According to Twitter, users can expect the following results when muting another Twitter account:

  • Muted users can follow you and interact with your content.
  • You can follow a user you’ve muted. Muting a user will not cause you to unfollow them.
  • @ replies and @ mentions from muted users you follow will still appear in your Notifications tab.
  • Muted users you follow can still send you a direct message.
  • When you mute a user, their previous Tweets will still be displayed; only Tweets from the point you muted them will be hidden.

From the receiving end of managing brand Twitter accounts, this feature could be useful. You can silence someone tweeting in a manner you don’t like while still leave the communication lines open. They can still message you (unlike blocking) and they can still send you a direct message (unlike unfollow).

But the situation is not so appealing from the other side of the coin. People can mute your brand and simply forget about you. You’ll think you have a lot of followers listening, but you might be wasting resources better spent elsewhere.

So how can you prevent your brand from being muted, or even unfollowed by your followers?

As I started to write my thoughts on this subject it occurred to me that I should ask the PR Newswire audience what would drive them to hit mute, so I posted the following question on Twitter and Facebook:

Tweet ie mute button May 13 2014

And here are the responses I got most often:

  1. High frequency: Don’t tweet excessively. Too many tweets, too often, or in a short span of time is very annoying to people.
  2. Too promotional: Mind your manners. All brands need to find their balance in content that is simply useful to their audience and what is simply self-promotional.
  3. No engagement: Talk to people. If all you’re doing is broadcasting your messages and not engaging your audience you are missing the point of social media, and your Twitter account won’t be very interesting to follow. Of course there are exceptions. Newsfeeds like @AP, for example.
  4. Non-relevant tweets: If you are a fashion brand and frequently post about football or politics, you will probably lose audience. And that goes the other way around too.
  5. Too personal: This is business. Having some human/personal touch to a brand Twitter account can be very useful to connecting with people, but you have to know your boundaries.
  6. Too many @’s and #’s:  Overused, they can make reading a chore. There are times when you are going have a lot of mentions and hashtags, like during a Twitter chat, but it shouldn’t be a daily thing.
  7. Boring! I don’t think this needs any explanation. You don’t have to be entertaining, but you do have to hold people’s attention.
  8. Too much automation: some automated tweets mixed with human curation and engagement can work fine. But again, we have to mind the frequency.

These responses are a clear reminder to all of us about what people expect and what people will tolerate.  In general, people appreciate useful content and don’t mind the occasional promotional message, but we have to strike the right balance. We have to know and understand our audience.

Of course, one concern with the new mute feature is that people may hit mute during a Twitter chat when you are posting a lot, intending to un-mute you later, of course. But what if they forget?

In that case, you better be unforgettable. As PR pros we all need to make sure that people would miss us if we were silenced.

At least one respondent on Twitter stated she wouldn’t bother with the mute. She would just unfollow:

Diversify distribution of your brand’s content with SocialPost from PR Newswire.  We’ve created dozens of topic-specific channels, curated by real humans, to deliver your messages to broader online audiences. 

 

Victoria HarresVictoria Harres is VP, Audience Development & Social Media at PR Newswire and is the original voice behind @PRNewswire. She leads the media relations team that provides customer service to the members of PR Newswire  for Journalists, and in her spare time, she Instagrams the world around her.

What do FB Newswire, Storyful & PR Newswire for Journalists Have in Common?

FB Newswire, powered by Storyful is serving up pre-verified status updates from Facebook users who share their content publicly. This is something that can be incredibly valuable to a journalist when an event like last weekend’s tornadoes destroy homes and lives without much notice.

In that kind of circumstance, the best on-the-spot reporting and photography will frequently come from an eyewitness with a smartphone posting updates to their Facebook page, and Storyful is there to verify and curate that content for easy media pick-up.

But that’s not all. FB Newswire also offers journalists and others who follow the feed, human interest and lifestyle posts that could include content which started its life cycle as a news release on PR Newswire, like the #catcafe story that appeared the day of FBN’s launch.

FB Newswire post about Purina One's Cat Cafe.

FB Newswire post about Purina One’s Cat Cafe.

The story originated a couple of days earlier as a multimedia news release on PR Newswire. It was a great story, and Purina One did a great job of telling it.

Coverage from FB Newswire was a bonus.

At PR Newswire, our media relations staff took note of this immediately and realized we could help Storyful in its verification process since we run news from thousands of organizations, celebrities, and brands.

We have media relations teams across the globe, covering every continent, and since Storyful is based in Ireland, our U.K. group reached out and offered our services. Now, the Storyful editorial team has full access to our media-only website, PR Newswire for Journalists, where they can search for the latest news and contact information from thousands of sources.

So what do FB Newswire, StoryFul and PR Newswire for Journalists have in common?  Content from verified and authentic sources, large and small, from around the world.

 

Victoria HarresVictoria Harres is VP, Audience Development & Social Media at PR Newswire and the original voice behind @PRNewswire. She leads the media relationsteam that provides customer service to the members of PR Newswire  for Journalists. In her spare time, sheInstagrams the world around her.

What PR Pros Need to Know About Facebook’s New FB Newswire

fbnewswire

Facebook has actively been courting journalists and bloggers for years, first launching the Facebook for  Journalists page in 2011 in order to position its vast social network as a source of trending and popular content.   The company took their efforts a step further today, launching FB Newswire.  Powered by Storyful, which describes itself as a “social media newsroom” that aggregates and vets social content for use by news media, FB Newswire  is being positioned by Facebook as a resource for journalists, enabling them to incorporate newsworthy content from Facebook into the media they produce.

“Look forward to first-person photos, videos, and status updates posted publicly on Facebook from the front lines of newsworthy events around the world which have been selected and verified by Storyful’s editorial team,”  — FB Newswire post.

What FB Newswire means for brands

FB Newswire is going to attempt to separate signals from noise on Facebook, and the service will undoubtedly lead to earned media placements for brands.  To get there, however, content first and foremost will need generate interaction (likes and shares) and comments on Facebook – to get onto the Storyful radar screen, stories need to reach critical mass in social sharing. Content that doesn’t inspire action on Facebook won’t be surfaced by Storyful.

If you want pickup on FB Newswire, social interactions are an outcome your PR content MUST generate.lil tweet bird

Keys to developing social interaction with brand content:

Understand your fans and their preferences.

Posting messages by rote on Facebook and other social network won’t serve your brand well.  Chances are good there are distinct differences between your most engaged fans on Facebook and followers on LinkedIn or Twitter, and they probably have corresponding differences in preference in terms of content format and topic.  Analyze the last several months of your brand’s Facebook posts, and notice what sort of content was more popular in terms of unique users and total interactions.

Build content that appeals to them

Instead of simply posting your press releases to Facebook, go to school on your Facebook Insights data, and develop unique posts highlighting the messages most likely to resonate with your FB audience.  Doing this will ensure the content you post to Facebook is more aligned with your fans’ interests, and increases the likelihood that they will start a cycle of sharing and interaction that will increase the message visibility and traction on social networks.

Utilize multiple visual images.

The majority of posts on Facebook contain a visual, and the effectiveness of visual content on social channels is well documented.  Recently, Facebook enabled users to post multiple images to posts, and while the jury is out in terms of impact on reach (I have not seen any large studies about this), anecdotal evidence suggests that multiple images in a post do have a significant positive impact on reach.

Share on Facebook – and encourage broad social sharing.  Sharing is one of the most powerful signals of content quality, and broad sharing of your message across Facebook and other social networks will be one of the key factors in garnering FB Newswire pickup.   We’ve written extensively about social media strategies for PR and content marketing (http://blog.prnewswire.com/tag/social-media/) but here are some keys worth repeating:

  • Write a descriptive and compelling headline, and keep it to about 100 characters.
  • Use bullet points and bold font to make it easy for readers to scan content and quickly land on key messages and interesting facts.
  • Employ visuals.  Redundant, I know, but worth emphasizing.
  • Embed social sharing buttons in your content.

In the example below and on the right, Dancing with the Stars’ Carrie Ann Inaba shares a photo from Purina ONE’s temporary “cat café” that opened today in New York. You can read Purina ONE’s original press release announcing the café, as well as its multimedia news release with photos and videos of Inaba and the Cat Café on PR Newswire.

Left to right: Purina ONE's multimedia news release with images and videos from the Cat Cafe; FB Newswire's posting of Carrie Ann Inaba's photo.

FB Newswire represents another earned media opportunity for PR pros, but at this point, it’s impossible to gauge the impact it will have on reporting (and thusly, PR.)  Many media outlets already feature popular social content – it’s not unusual at all, for example, to see popular YouTube videos on morning news shows.  In reality, because of the effectiveness of social media on driving traffic to web sites and the value search engines are placing on social signals, PR pros should be making social sharing and the generation of social proof a priority in their campaigns, regardless of whether or not FB Newswire becomes widely used by professional media.

Additional tactical advice for digital PR campaigns:

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

Content We Love: A ‘Snap’-py Approach to Social Media

ContentWeLove

Though the world of #selfies seems to be dominated by teenagers, they aren’t the only ones turning cameras on themselves. Brands are now incorporating the wildly popular form of content creation to connect with their social audiences, a topic we’ve been tackling in our ongoing event series “How to Keep Your Content Relevant in the Age of the Selfie.”

Grey Panda LastSelfieA recent release by Grey Group  and The World WildLife Fund titled, “ Grey And The World Wildlife Fund Use Snapchat To Raise Awareness Of Endangered  ” debuted a new social media campaign on Snapchat called the #LastSelfie, to raise awareness about the diminishing population of tigers, rhinos, orangutans, pandas and polar bears. The campaign encourages Snapchat users to share images created by the WWF of these animals utilizing the platform’s short lifespan to transmit the real message: these animals are in danger of disappearing. The press release tactics incorporated into this announcement showcase Grey Group and WWF’s thorough understanding of where their desired audience is engaging and the types of content that will be most interesting to them.

Powerful visual assets paired with minimal text

Organizations are becoming attuned to the fact that attention spans are shrinking and communication is shifting from a text-based to image-based approach. The WWF forfeits lengthy text in favor of three visual assets including video, which amplifies their message exponentially. They have allowed their message to reach not just Snapchat, but Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and all other social platforms where their target demographic is engaging with primarily visual content.

A perceptive and targeted approach to social engagement

The WWF covers largely uncharted social territory by targeting their selfie campaign to Snapchat. The mobile app has become a hit among a younger demographic due to the user’s ability to send photos and videos to peers that disappear forever within seconds of being viewed. WWF is tactfully mirroring this idea to raise awareness of endangered animals to a new generation of activists. It is a targeted approach to social engagement that demonstrates a true understanding of this platform and the kinds of messages that will resonate with its users.

Now that social media has solidified its place as a necessary part of communicating for brands and consumers alike, the audiences on these channels have evolved. Using social media platforms with purpose instead of a scattered approach targets your message to the people most important to it and indicates  the types of content that you should be creating for that audience. Congrats to Grey Group and the WWF on their social-savvy communications efforts!

Author Alyse Lamparyk is a Customer Content Specialist for PR Newswire. Follow her on twitter @alyselamp.

5 Ways Journalists Use LinkedIn for Research and Reporting

 

Data courtesy of the Oriella Digital Journalism Survey, image via MediaBistro

Data courtesy of the Oriella Digital Journalism Survey, image via MediaBistro

LinkedIn has come a long way from its start as a conduit for creating professional connections.

In fact, LinkedIn quickly is making inroads into newsrooms as a place for research, sourcing, and listening, allowing journalists to follow issues and pull stories out of conversations.

Journalists can keep their ears open for nuggets through groups on LinkedIn, said Yumi Wilson, a corporate communications manager with the Mountain View, Calif.-based company.

“With groups, if you just want to follow new technology or mobile, you can find what people are saying about different companies,” Wilson said. “Journalists can follow groups, participate in discussions, and solicit feedback.”

LinkedIn also consistently is adding new tools to help users be more productive and successful in their business.

Here are 5 ways journalists are using LinkedIn:

  • Sharing stories. There are 1.5 million publishers currently using the LinkedIn share button on their sites. This includes traditional news organizations and media, such as Mashable, TechCrunch, and Gigaom.
  • Increased story visibility. LinkedIn acquired Pulse about a year ago. This means stories from those publishers with the share button are being featured in Pulse. Wilson explained the algorithm to display stories is based on an individual’s customizations and the publishers they’re following. The same happens with trending stories on LinkedIn, which takes place when many people share a particular story.
  • Following companies and employees. Journalists are staying on top of companies and running searches of employees there to see those with LinkedIn profiles. Watching a particular company’s job listings – and the types of job listings – is a clear indication it’s in the market to grow and expand.
  • Keyword search for research or story ideas. Wilson used the example of the Facebook acquisition of WhatsApp. When the story broke in February, Wilson was in a training with Bloomberg reporters, who wanted to find WhatsApp members with LinkedIn profiles. The search was successful, and it came up organically, Wilson said.
  • Looking up sources. The advanced search function on LinkedIn allows journalists to find and connect with people for stories.

LinkedIn also is unveiling long-form publishing beyond their Influencers program. This feature is being rolled out in stages, with initial access available to about 25,000 members. It will be a great benefit to writers, or those wanting to share certain insights, Wilson said.

“It means I can write a longer post and not just a personal update and share it on LinkedIn,” Wilson said. “If someone likes it, they can follow me.”

LinkedIn celebrated its 10th birthday last year. Its membership is staggering: 277 million worldwide, of whom roughly 100 million reside in the United States and Canada.

To meet this incredible demand, LinkedIn beefed up its corporate presence, expanding staff from 2,100 employees in 2012 to 5,000 employees this year.

Learn more about LinkedIn for journalists on the site’s Press Center.

Christine Cube is a media relations manager with PR Newswire and freelance writer. She’s absolutely on LinkedIn. Follow her on Twitter @cpcube.

6 Keys to Using the New Twitter Design for PR

Actor Channing Tatum’s Twitter profile shows off the new format.

Twitter’s new design – mirroring Facebook’s layout and emphasizing visuals – reinforces the importance of using multimedia elements in communications. However, the new layout offers more opportunity for brands than initially meets the eye.  (See related: Coming soon from Twitter)

Surfacing granular content (& winning attention)

The brands that do it best know that Twitter is about granular information. The short format requires brevity, and forces tweet authors to get straight to the point. Best practices for tweeting links are straightforward:

  • On Twitter, your tweet is your headline. Its role is to arrest the reader’s attention and get them to take a next step, such as clicking on the link or re-tweeting the message.  lil tweetAvoid generalizations. Instead, carefully craft your tweet to give followers insight into what the link contains (and incentive to click!)
  • Include visuals that are strongly related to and illustrative of the content you’re sharing. Pictures and videos stand out in the newsfeed and command attention, and they convey messages in their own right.
  • Use relevant hashtags. While hashtags can be used to convey side commentary or emotion, for brands, hashtags are also how content is found. Scan your own Twitter feeds for relevant hashtags, and also use the Twitter search function for research. Don’t use a hashtag without first looking at the related tweet stream. You want to make sure your messaging is in relevant and appropriate company.

Drill into the angles
You can surface (and illustrate!) a variety of themes and elements for the story you’re promoting. In most cases, the stories we create –whether in the form of a press release about a new product, a blog post about an industry trend or pitches about an important development at the companies we represent – contain multiple hooks and angles and elements. Every tweet is another opportunity to engage your audience, and sharing different story angles increases the message’s appeal.

So for PR pros whose brands have cultivated strong presences on Twitter, some new tactics are in order:

  • Don’t get in the habit of tweeting the headline and calling it a day. Instead, create a series of tweets highlighting different elements of the story.
  • Share individual visual elements. And when sharing large infographics, consider having your designer create image snippets that illustrate one key fact. A simpler image will render better in the Twitter feed.
  • Don’t be afraid of tweeting multiple messages about one piece of content. One white paper or press release could reasonably offer a host of tweeting angles – quotes from people mentioned, a host of key findings, a variety of charts and graphs. Stagger the tweets over a few days (or even longer) to maximize visibility.

One final note: as Twitter rolls out the new design, we all need to be mining our image files for visuals that will fill the new space. Larger profile pictures and a Facebook cover-style banner are key features of the new look, and offer brands the opportunity showcase their visual identities.

Learn more about using visuals in B2B campaigns by viewing the on-demand webinar: Powering B2B Content with Multimedia.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

 

 

Trend ID Algorithms: What Communicators Need to Know

During the height of the Occupy Wall St. movement, some speculated censors were at work, because the related hashtag didn't trend.

During the height of the Occupy Wall St. movement, some speculated censors were at work, because the related hashtag didn’t trend.

Trend ID algorithms - such as the one powering trends on Twitter - reward spikes,  which is why Occupy didn't stand a chance against a Kardashian wedding.

Trend ID algorithms – such as the one powering trends on Twitter – reward spikes, which is why Occupy (the cobalt blue line, with consistent levels over time) didn’t stand a chance against a Kardashian wedding (purple line), Steve Jobs (yellow) or a popular hashtag used by individual tweeters (grey.)

You may not realize it, but much of what you see online is determined by the algorithms that power search engines and social networks.  Designed to surface the information that is most compelling, and likely to get you to read the article/view the video/take the survey – and then share it with your friends – algorithms are doing more than serving information.  They are shaping journalism and arguably, having a negative impact on democracy, according to Heidi McBride, a senior member of the faculty of the Poynter Institute and Gilad Lotan, chief data scientist for Betaworks, during the discussion they lead at South by Southwest.

“Trend identification algorithms are all over the web,” Lotan stated. “We have to think about the power they encode, and that is the power to draw attention.”

Learn more about how the digital evolution has impacted newsrooms and journalism by viewing our on-demand webinar, “The Evolution of Media: How Newsrooms are Adapting to the Ever-Changing Digital Environment.”

On web sites everywhere, data scientists are using algorithms to find and display content that is likely to draw readers and inspire social sharing (thus drawing more readers.)  These numbers have an economic impact – after all,  Google, Facebook, CNN and the New York Times are all add-supported, and more visitors to their web sites (and visitors who stay longer) equal more ad impressions, and thus, more dollars.

In building the trend ID algorithms, data scientists are looking for trends away from the norm.

“We look for spikes, things out of the ordinary, outliers,” noted Lotan. “And activities around celebs spike much more dramatically than other conversations.”

There’s a self-reinforcing effect as the journalism companies respond to the algorithms, as the algorithms have an economic effect on the journalistic companies, effectively steering news coverage.

Lotan reminded us that algorithms are created by humans, and thus may reflect their creators’ biases or preferences.  Additionally, he noted that algorithms can be selectively manipulated, citing as a case in point changes Twitter made when Justin Beiber was constantly trending, causing user complaints. The team changed the algo, making it more difficult for Beiber to trend.  Another example of selective algorithm manipulation happens on the search engine side of the house, such as when Google penalized JC Penney for poor SEO practices by dropping the Penney website to the bottom of the rankings heap.

What’s needed, McBride and Lotan posited, is more public understanding of how these algorithms work, and more transparency from the companies employing them.

“The companies that control our attention to so without any transparency,” McBride stated. “We build our understanding of ourselves and the world around us through the stories we tell, and if algorithms only reinforce certain types of stories, it reduces our understanding of ourselves and our communities.”

The session did offer one important tactical take-away for brands.  Stories take hold fast and algorithms reinforce this.  If a problematic story is gathering steam, swift response is absolutely essential. The more quickly you can correct information, the more quickly the entire news democracy can reference that information as the topic trends.  But if you miss the gap, your message will be left by the wayside. Click to register for the our free webinar on March 20 at 1:00 ET.

Click to register for the our free on-demand webinar 

You can also read more from this session on The Guardian’s extensive recap.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

Trust at Scale: Harnessing Authentic #Advocacy for Your Brand #SXSW

influencers v advocatesMedia fragmentation and information overload stymies ad effectiveness. Consumers are ignoring digital ads, and overall, trust in brands is declining, a trend which according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, is accelerating.

Influecers vs. Advocates

How can brands convey communications in a trustworthy matter that resonates with their audiences?  The key, according to Jim Larrison (@jlarrison) of Dynamic Signal, is advocacy, and this doesn’t simply mean paying an industry bigwig to tweet on your brand’s behalf.

Jim’s presentation centered on importance of finding passionate advocates amongst employees and the “mid-tail” of the influence spectrum – connected people who have enough social media pull to move the needle in a particular sector, and who really care about the industry or segment.

These trusted peers who are talking about relevant topics have the real ability to drive individual behavior.   And those ‘trusted peers’ include employees, who have significantly more credibility than the C-suite, according to the aforementioned Edelman Trust Barometer.

Why advocacy works is simple: it’s centered on trust, and done well, it’s trust at scale [tweet this].  But brands and marketers need to realize they’re not renting trust – it’s not a transactional relationship.  Herein lies the challenge, because most marketers today stop marketing at the buy.  They are optimizing for the purchase event, not building advocacy.

Rewards for advocacy can be surprisingly simple

The rewards advocates value are simple.  Employees are motivated by simple recognition, as are brand fans and followers.  Access to unique content and authentic relationships are also rewards they value.  And tangible rewards – membership in a group, swag and prizes, are also important — but not as much as the recognition and access.

Marketers who develop advocacy programs dramatically increase marketing effectiveness.   In addition to being authentic and credibility, empowering and cultivating advocates also covers more surface area within the marketplace.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

The Secret to Real-Time Storytelling Revealed at #SXSW

What’s the secret sauce for real-time storytelling? Telling a story as it unfolds requires significant planning.  At SXSW today, I got a look behind the scenes at the making of the Melbourne Remote Control Tourist campaign, an extraordinary piece of work masterfully produced by Clemenger BBDO Melbourne, Tool and Exit Films for Tourism Victoria. Our guides were:

Dustin Callif, managing partner of digital, Tool North America

Jason Nickel, interactive director & technologist, Tool North America

Jason Zada, director, Tool North America

Together, the three told the story of creating the Remote Control Tourist (“RCT”) an example of what they call real-time storytelling, which they describe as the merging of social media and live action, and having the audience impact what’s happening with a narrative.

The project started with the task of “curating the city,” which involved finding the best and most interesting things in Melbourne, but doing so with an eye toward the logistics of filming.

“You have to start from the standpoint that this will be something good that people will want to watch,” noted Zada. “The second you started being boring, people start leaving. When you are doing  a show like this, every single second needs to be as interesting as it can be.”

The user interface also required an extraordinary amount of work. There were a lot of moving parts, starting with an interactive map, into which the team built a lot of functionality including realtime updates on the RTC’s status as well as background  information and context for each location.  All of this was framed around the live video, and overlayed with near real-time social interactions.

The campaign exposed the fun and positive messages about Melbourne to more than 100MM people worldwide, and resulted in the world’s first crowd-sourced city guide.    Thousands of people made requests of the tourists during the live window, and the wide-ranging RTCs garnered some surprising celebrity cameos, too.  Despite the visibility generated, at the end of the session, Callif noted the value of high quality owned media and recognized that even more could have been done.

“There’s a PR hook in this stuff that needs to be capitalized on,” he said, noting that in the next project, he’d want to more emphasis on  leveraging the content to earn more attention.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.