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Influencer relations – the do’s and the don’ts 

Just over a year ago I started a blog. It was more of a cathartic exercise than anything work related, but it has provided me an invaluable insight into what works for influencers and what’s an absolute turn off. With this in mind I’ve put together my top tips for more engaging influencer relations.

The do’s

  • As with any media, building a relationship first and foremost is paramount to your brands success in being advocated by a influential blogger or Instagrammer. With this in mind, focus on quality over quantity. Identify your key targets from the offset and focus on building really valuable relationships with these influencers.
  • Be prepared to offer value in kind or even payment for features. An influencers time is valuable, not least as many blog, whilst working full time or juggling a full family life. If you value your influencer’s time, you’ll receive more traction when pitching.
  • Make sure your targets are truly relevant and personalise your pitch. If you mention family names or similar it goes a long way to demonstrate that you’ve done your research and you genuinely feel like their platform is the perfect fit for your brand.
  • Use your engaged network as more than just influencers, help them to help you by including phrases like; ‘if you or any of your influencer friends want to come along, just shout.” Or; “As a valued influencer, I wondered if you could recommend any food bloggers too me? Naturally we can send you some cheeky samples for your mummy blog too”. This way you can build an engaged audience that is more likely to really buy into the brand you’re looking to promote.
  • Remind your influencers that you’re available for review opportunities. Make sure you drop them a line from time to time to keep in touch and promote new products etc.

Don’ts

  • Don’t send out generic emails promoting something irrelevant. I receive at least ten random emails per day from PRs that haven’t done their research. This makes me less likely to engage with them when they are promoting a brand that I could be interested in.
  • Avoid saying ‘Hey there’ when emailing en masse, it becomes very obvious that you’re one of many and the PR hasn’t done the research into what type of content will work for your blog.
  • Being afraid to step outside of the box is a no no. Take time to look at what your influencer is promoting and how you could work together on something exciting and new.
  • Don’t focus too much on your own products and lose sight of why you’re contacting your influencer. Consider instead what your influencer is trying to achieve and how they’re audience will feel excited and engaged by a partnership with your brand.
  • Don’t be too formal. The majority of influencers have a relaxed tone, and so respond to a more personalised and tailored approach. Ask how they are, how their family are. Tell them how much you adored their recent post and why.

Have I missed anything?

The ‘Micky Mouse’ degree. Are qualifications holding back communicators?

The importance of a university degree and demonstrating a certain level of learning, has long been spearheaded as an ideal route into the PR industry. Whilst some have wrongly deemed it a ‘Micky Mouse degree’, the need or preference for a degree when applying for roles isn’t uncommon, with many industries offering non-graduate roles with a glass ceiling guaranteed – this is particularly notable, quiet ironically, in the public sector.

But is a degree really an absolute must when it comes to being an effective communicator? In my experience this answer tends to be no. I have worked with a number of highly professional and skilled people over the years that offer real insight and life experience when it comes to the industry, similarly I’ve worked with a lot of young, fresh faced graduates that can talk the talk, but fail to walk the walk. Which raises the question – is a degree really required, and if so, what could be done to make such courses more effective?

I didn’t study PR at university. I undertook a joint honors degree in English Literature and Art; it’s arguably relevant… the art represents the creativity and a certain level of understanding on how political movements can impact on consumerism and society as a whole, whilst the English element of my degree taught me how to become more eloquent in my writing. But these are just two very small traits required to be an effective communicator.

The above didn’t teach me common sense, it didn’t expose me to a fast paced, deadline driven environment, it didn’t show me how to handle clients, manage a team, get under the skin of business management or generate an eye for a news story. Arguably a PR degree would have offered me some of these distinctive skills – but from my experience of graduates leaving university following a PR degree, I’d beg to differ.

In fact I have a couple of examples of truly inspiring communicators that didn’t go to university. And, I’ve got to say, the majority of my colleagues that did go to university, certainly didn’t study PR as a discipline. So, for me, this raises an interesting question. Should we be doing more on the ground to entice young blood into the industry at an earlier age? Pre-university, perhaps even pre-college? And if so, how would this shape the way we approach the industry as a whole? How we connect with our audiences and how we embrace new technology?

There’s a skills shortage. This is apparent across a whole range of different industries, and PR is no exception. The shortage in PR however sits in the middle ground. Good quality execs are not hard to come by, good quality managers however are. So consider this. If the majority of practitioners are heading to university, we don’t receive the bulk of new blood until they’re around 21 to 23 – meaning it will take another three to four years for them to fulfill the roles we so desperately need to in management positions. However, if we were to engage with a younger generation of potential communicators, we could have them at management level by the time they hit their 20s. That’s a time saving of at least three years.

But it’s not just youngsters we should be encouraging into the industry. From journalists, to other creative sectors, there are plenty of people; skilled and talented professionals that can help shape our industry in a more effective way. Degree or no degree. It’s time we invested more in vertical sector outreach to ensure we’re attracting people into the sector at all ages, up-skilling them and providing our businesses with the skilled labour we desperately need.

To conclude, being an effective PR practitioner is less about the certificates you keep under your bed, and more about your real life experiences – your ability to connect and relate with your audience. As a successful PR, you need an eclectic skill set – if that includes a degree then great. If it doesn’t… I personally don’t see the problem. Regardless, one thing is clear. In order to really spearhead industry development we need to focus less on the traditional and more on the upcoming – surely this is something that fresh faced school leavers, combined with a healthy mix of experience from sister sectors can provide in abundance?

PR Account Executive, Leeds, Job Vacancy

It’s been an exciting time at Prohibition PR. What with new offices in Chapel Allerton and a raft of new account wins, we need to expand the team for the fourth time in the last 12 months.

As you’ve probably figured out, we’re not old fashioned when it comes to PR. While we do ‘the traditional stuff’ID-100247354 very well indeed, we’re constantly pushing the boundaries of what you would expect from a traditonal PR agency. So that involves lots of exciting things like online community building, social media listening, brand audits, online crisis management, content marketing and video seeding.

Here’s what we’re after:

We’re looking for someone with at least 6-12 month’s PR experience, with a definite interest in all things social media. Someone who blogs, knows their Foursquare from their flickr, and at least pretends to understand Google’s spiders.

But more than anything, a hunger to learn and the right attitude is key. We want someone who has their finger firmly on the pulse of digital and PR developments, as well as popular culture.

We’re a small team but growing. If you’re interested in growing with us, and rolling up your sleeves to get involved in all aspects of our client work then get in touch.

Send your CV to hireme@prohibitionpr.co.uk along with a brief overview of your favourite meme of the last 12 months.

No agencies please.

How to be legally compliant on social media

Yesterday morning. the Prohibition team jointly organised a successful breakfast seminar exploring the important issue of legal compliance in social media.

Held in conjunction with leading Intellectual Property law firm, HGF, the central-Leeds seminar was attended by 50 marketing and legal professionals from across the region.

HGF 1Social media undoubtedly provides brands with fantastic opportunities to promote themselves and powerfully engage directly with their customers and stakeholders, as many well-publicised cases show. However, social media can also be a huge trap for those unaware of the potential legal consequences.

The increasingly blurred boundaries between professional and private social media use can pose challenges for organisations, as employees unwittingly go “off message” in their personal social media networks.

These issues were explored in two short, but lively sessions, from Anthony Gold, Partner at HGF, and Chris Norton, Managing Director of Prohibition, as both talked through the challenges, opportunities and risks for brands seeking to expand their use of social media, whilst also discussing some of the key tools for success in this area.

The event was the latest in a series of seminars from Prohibition, exploring all aspects of social media best-practice. Our next events cover online crisis management, and take place at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Ramside Hall in Durham.

5 tips to keeping your Facebook content fresh

downloadHow often do you post an update on your Facebook brand page? Weekly, every other day, daily, more often than that even? There’s not necessarily a right or wrong number of times to post updates, and your appropriate post frequency depends heavily on your brand, the purpose and broader strategy of your page and how interested or engaged your audience is.

Clearly a Gen Y mobile operator or fashion retailer will do things differently to an engineering company or a law firm, but regardless of sector, it’s always worth asking yourself some serious questions to make sure your content is as fresh, engaging and hard-working as possible. Here’s a few pointers to achieving this –

1)     What does your Facebook insights tell you?

Every community manager should spend as much time in the back-end of Facebook as in the front end. That means getting to understand your audience; what day and time are they online, and what content do they engage with most? Act on the insights, even if it means chopping out a day’s content here or there. And be prepared for some surprises: maybe your audience is most active at 11pm on a Sunday night, not at 9am on a Monday morning as you previously thought.

2)     (As tempting as it might be) avoid straying into spam territory

Ok, so we’re not talking spam in the conventional sense, but avoid ‘shouting’ at your audience. Try to keep explicit brand messages to an approximate 1:10 ratio, unless you have good reason to do otherwise. Similarly, if you see your engagement dropping right off, then maybe you’re over-posting (or indeed, under-posting) or just not hitting the mark with your content. Less is often more.

3)     Are you ever scraping the barrel when it comes to content?

You know what I’m talking about here, but don’t try to link your brand to every damn world event or public holiday that’s happening. Obviously if you’re a greeting’s card company then Christmas is perfect for you, but if you’re a wood stain company, then it might not be such a good idea. It’s worth following Condescending Corporate Brand Page for some of the very worst examples of this.      

4)     An image (or video) tells a thousand words

Social media has been hurtling towards rich media content for a while, but only now are we truly reaching tipping point. So that means telling your brand story though imagery, not endless text updates. Think about what imagery you could use as a brand and invest properly in quality photography and design, not tired stock shots.

5)     Embrace Facebook’s new promotional guidelines (sparingly)

As you no doubt know, Facebook now allows you to directly run promotions or competitions on your brand wall, rather than via a third-party app. This can be a double-edged sword; don’t fall into the trap of running competitions or giveaways too frequency, or you risk attracting the ‘compers’, who are only interested in freebies, not what you’ve got to say. But that said, a well-timed promotion or competition can do wonders for your post reach and engagement. Also think of creative mechanisms, such sharing a branded photo or a website treasure hunt – not just a ‘like to enter’.

It takes a brave social media executive to suggest to their client that maybe they shouldn’t be doing social media updates every day, especially when that client pays for said agency’s time, or that there needs to be a dramatic content focus shift. However, Facebook brand pages should be fun, engaging, living, breathing communities, not just a one way conversation. Ask yourself, is your brand page reaching its potential?

How to moderate comments on a brand Facebook page

Sadly sometimes it’s inevitable that from time to time, customers will have a small gripe with your company, and if you have a social media presence it can often result in people becoming rude or abusive on your online platforms.

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In order to try and contain or extinguish these figurative fires you need to approach the situation in the right manner to prevent customer dissatisfaction and this negativity.

Facebook Settings – Before you start

When first starting your Facebook page it’s always worth familiarising yourself with the page settings which are accessible to a page admin.

To start, you have the option of whether you want to enable users to post on your wall, via the ‘posting ability‘ function. Using this setting can restrict users in a way which only allows them to reply to your posts, rather than them being able to make their own posts directly on the page’s timeline. This can reduce a page being filled with nasty negative posts and your great content being lost.

Another easy way to filter out the abusive comments from positive ones is through use of the ‘profanity setting’. This will automatically block posts with profanity in accordance with the settings you set from none to strong. Of course there will be words with negative tones created by users to skirt your guidelines, meaning there will be insults which your computer and the vast majority of the public won’t understand or even dream of. It is also an American filter so it sometimes doesn’t understand UK curse words.

If you need any extra help use a swear word generator to really maximise your creativity but no laughing at the words please!

how to settings facebook

As a fail safe, on the off chance the profanity setting is unable to block certain words, there is a setting which allows you to immediately block comments which use the words of your choice, labelled ‘moderation blocklist‘. Whilst this might be one of the more time consuming ways to moderate posts, it is arguably the most effective.

Laying Down Your Facebook Page Ground Rules

It is important to set out your page rules beforehand rather than add them later when you are experiencing difficult or angry customers. The creation of some house rules will give you the basis to act and will hopefully prevent trollish abuse or the advertising/promotion of other sites of your page. Remember, social media is in the public domain and therefore all outward facing, so taking the time to prevent bad practice is much easier than panicking and having to react when the worst occurs. Here are the types of things to consider when writing your own house rules:

  1. Clarity and politeness is key – lay out your rules but show you have the customer’s interests at heart, whilst also encouraging discussion e.g. saying you will remove abusive comments ‘so you can quickly and efficiently help people in need’.
  2. Keep the focus on you – people will either reference other companies or post links to external sources. While these comments might not be abusive, they restrict focus on you. Your own page is about self-promotion meaning comments promoting outside organisations should be removed and followed up with a private explanation on why you have removed the comment.
  3. Give contact details – people will have genuine queries that need to be addressed, some of which are difficult to solve over social media. To prevent frustration display a contact number or email to customer support.
  4. Deleting chain comments – some comments might have to be deleted even though they aren’t abusive as they’re chained to a comment which needs to be removed. Highlight the possibility of this situation and in event of it happening, apologise and explain the situation.
  5. No tolerances for spam – both customer and provider have little patience with spam. Remove the posts and notify the user that you won’t tolerate it.
  6. Exercise your right to delete comments and block users – while it shouldn’t be your first port of call, make it clear you are within your right to remove posts or people from your page. Only use when other avenues have been exhausted.
  7. Outline protection for others – if users leave comments containing their contact details delete the comment for the safety of the consumer and contact them privately to help them. Outline a zero tolerance of bullying to protect yourself and your consumer’s interests.

An example being the BBC’s blog house rules:

bbc house rules

Replying to people’s Facebook Comments

Now your Facebook page is set out, don’t be scared you maybe at the mercy of the public, some of whom will be looking to bombard you with complaints but the reality is often far less sinister.

Whilst it may be frustrating to get complaints or negative feedback, the trick is to grit your teeth and bare each comment no matter the how irritating or daft the comments may be. Replying to each comment in a polite and helpful manner is the only way you will reap the rewards from your social media page. Never get involved in an argument.

tesco

Tesco’s four pint milk might be a puzzle to pour for the minority of the public, but the post above is dealt with in a polite and helpful manner of which (so far) hasn’t resulted in a customer backlash.

Deleting comments should be your last option. If the user is repeatedly abusive and ignoring your help, then it might be time to delete their comments and possibly block the individual if no progress is being made as it can cause distress and annoyance to your other page fans.

Be careful when deleting comments however, no one likes to be ignored and if a user realises their comment has been deleted they could come back bitter, possibly trying to confront you on the subject (even if it’s clearly obvious why you have done so).

If the user persists to leave negative comments despite you sorting their problem and this is causing trouble regularly. This is when its probably best to block that particular user, before any more disruption is caused. Think about containment, if you’ve got an isolated problem with a user, who isn’t being responsive or constructive, cut them out of the picture so you can focus on constructive criticism and keep the attention on your brand and what your trying to do.

All of this can seem rather scary but here at Prohibition we manage pages of all shapes and sizes and some get genuine negative customer service enquiries and some get none. However, if you try to help people and be transparent with your replies and take the antagonists offline this will often result in a far happier Facebook community that continues to thrive.

If you are really interested in how to contain an online crisis you can also read our MD’s latest article on E-consultancy entitled: 22 tips to help contain an online crisis.

Image used under creative commons, courtesy of CALI.

 

Five must have tools for content marketing

One of the biggest problems for businesses is that they have something to say, but not a voice loud enough to rise above the swarms of other businesses also trying to tell people their message. Here lies the need for content marketing which offers different tools to help your voice stand out from the crowd. A creative and original content strategy can be the key to connecting with your audience whilst also expanding your social footprint. This can range from the content you create to tools you use to publicise it.

The one thing you can’t top is creating imaginative and high quality content, consistently. If you want people to repeatedly return to you, you have to frequently supply material worth coming back for.  There’s no point publishing an article onto your blog or website and then not putting anything out there again for the next few months. People will lose interest. It also helps to be unique and have a catchy headline. Any potential audience is going to be attracted to your headlines more than anything else and this is why ‘top tens’ and ‘the best…’ work so well. People aren’t always interested in trawling through reams of copy and are much more attracted to easy reads where quick comparisons can be made. With this in mind, here are some useful tools to help you in devising a content marketing strategy.


Infographics but don’t miss the obvious.

Since 2010, infographic search trends have gone up 800% which goes someway to explaining their popularity. For the lay audience out there, an infographic is a visual and usually colourful representation of usually quite complex data/information. Not only are they beneficial to the visual learners, but they really stand out in the congested market of content, tweets and status updates. The ease at which they can be scanned and shared makes infographics a really engaging medium with the potential to become viral. You can create them on websites such as infogr.am and visual.ly. The key mistake many people make here is just creating the graphic and then sending the JPEG out which often defeats the object of getting a link back. If you place your infographic on your own website and use an embed code so people can embed it on their sites this creates the link and you get a free link for all of your efforts too.


Social media management apps

Social media is arguably the most important tool for businesses when it comes to content marketing. However, it can become difficult to manage when you have so many accounts across various platforms. Hootsuite is one of the most popular management tools when it comes to social media and it allows firms to execute operations on the likes of Twitter and Facebook from one dashboard. You can schedule messages or status updates, track conversations and even analyse traffic all from one screen. There are other management tools out there such as TweetDeck, Bufferap and Tweepi, but Hootsuite has proven to be the most popular with free and paid versions available with many criticising Tweetdeck since it was bought out by Twitter.


Editorial Planning

Surprise, surprise but content is still key in this new world of digital PR so it’s important to be organised. A content calendar such as DivvyHQ or Kapost makes it easy to stay on top of your content and allows a business to plan and manage the production process for each of its articles. These online tools allows a host of calendars to be set up, categorised in a range of ways from client name to content type and enables the user to add article ideas and deadlines if necessary. If content publishing is your new marketing, then being organised is essential.


WordPress is the blogging weapon of choice

Content Marketing

WordPress is the number one publishing tool out there on the social web and it provides a detailed and versatile platform to deliver content to a potential market. The blogger is king in the digital age and open source software such as WordPress means it’s never been easier to set up a blog or website for your business. WordPress has an intuitive design which makes it easy to create, design and modify posts and is incredibly easy to manage. It’s also created with SEO in mind and has many default features in place to help search engines find your page as well as making various plugins available to increase the search exposure of posts. The key to wordpress is these plugins – so many people just set up a blog with wordpress and post their content but if they actually sat down and went through the most useful apps like Akismet, related posts and many more like these.


Google Analytics

If you’re going to be producing an abundance of content you’re going to want to know where your audience is actually coming from. Google Analytics creates comprehensive statistics about the amount of traffic going to a website and where this traffic is coming from, i.e. search engines, social media etc. It can also give you the make-up of your audiences with it using cookies to determine a visitor’s gender, age and interests. This is a powerful tool (IT’S FREE) which allows a business to determine exactly who to target and how. Another great benefit comes in your knowledge that through utilising analytics, you have a solid understanding of the wants and needs of your audience, allowing you to provide them with what they crave on a regular basis.

All good businesses understand the important of content when it comes to PR and social media marketing, and this list, albeit not exhaustive, highlights some of the key tools which can be used to make content marketing just that little bit easier.

Image credit to bplanet via https://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Top Tips: Advanced community management Seminar

Early last Thursday morning, the Prohibition PR team travelled to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park to host a special breakfast seminar on advanced community management as part of our Social Media Training Series.  A variety of business and marketing experts from all over the country came across to evaluate their current digital and social media strategies and, more importantly, to find out how to adapt and improve them.

Prohibition PR founder Chris Norton led the session, in which he covered all areas of strategic community management; from the effective use of social media for business, to making full use of specialist insights tools to measure online success.  The main focus of the presentation was to offer a genuine insight into how to turn online ‘fans’ and ‘followers’ into real customers – a concept with which many businesses still seem to struggle with.

After refreshing with a quick tea break and a huge bacon sandwich, Julia Dettler from Search Laboratory took to the stage with her presentation on SEO and best practices in corporate blogging.

The issues raised in the seminars obviously resonated with the audience, because following the session; we had some really interesting questions and discussions.

If you missed out on this event, you can watch the full presentation here on our YouTube channel and if you have any questions, just contact Emily on 0845 519 6942 or you could go really crazy and actually tweet us.

SEO vs. Social Media

A pattern within the younger generation is definitely emerging, with social networks growing in popularity as a method for a discovery resource; in 2010 only 18% of people were using it for that reason, up to 25% in 2011 and then in 2012 it reached 32%. Although the usage of search engines such as Google, is up from 54% in 2012 from 50% the previous year, many are questioning whether to reconsider their marketing strategy and start spending less efforts on SEO.

However, what are the advantages of both channels, and can they be used effectively together?

ID-10069290SEO

· Quality – with social media you may gain a lot of irrelevant traffic, because a person has merely followed a link to your website from their friend’s Facebook. Whereas in the case of SEO that person will have entered into a search engine that exact service/product you offer and so will be a more valuable visitor.

· Brand Reputation – If the search engine has listed your website high, then people are more likely to respect your brand because they trust search engines to give them the most relevant and important sites.

· Web Development – to even be successful in SEO, your website needs to have good navigation and no broken links etc which in itself will push your business to develop an accessible website, which in turn will please your customers because they have a better browsing experience.

Social Media

· Quantity – as mentioned before, although you may get more irrelevant visitors, those you do get may be more interested in your service/ product because of the fact it has effectively been recommended by a friend, with seven out of ten people more likely to use a business if it has a presence in social media (comScore Networks/TMP Directional Marketing)

· Coverage – Experian reported that 27% of internet time is spent on a social media site. This marketing channel will be more successful therefore, simply because that’s where the people are.

· Brand Reputation – instead of relying on Google to rank your business’ importance, you can manage your own reputation. By dealing with negative comments and encouraging positive feedback you ID-10053100 (1)can influence your brands position.

SEO and social media have their own pros and cons, but they can be used together very effectively. Most simply because you are have two positions from which to target people: if they for example are exposed to your product on one site, this may not lead to a conversion to a customer, however t when they then see it again, the second time it may do.

Although the trend is pointing towards younger people using social media more and more, this is may not be true for the older generation. Therefore for a business to be effectively using both means that they are targeting the largest customer base they can.

By using social media to post your services on similar industry pages, you create back links which then enhance your SEO ranking.

Do you think SEO will actually be beaten into submission by social or is that a pipe dream?

 

This was a guest post by Jamila Campbell-O’Connor

Images courtesy of Stuart Miles via. https://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Master isolated images via. https://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Free music can transform your marketing

If you read my last blog post on how to get free images online then you will recall I mentioned some useful sites that could be used to make your blog look much more engaging and exciting, without worrying about costs.

On a similar thread, this week I’m focusing on a number of websites which offer free music. Perfect if you’re creating a brand video or podcast and want to ‘jazz it up’.

ID-100157158As a rule, using someone else’s music or sound effects without permission could violate their copyright and you could face a hefty fine. However, that’s where Creative Commons licensed content comes in. You might think this only covers images, but under the terms and conditions of this licence, there is also a wide variety of free music downloads that have been authorised by the artists themselves.

One of the sites recommended by creative commons is, Jamendo.  This site can used to discover new music by searching for artists, as well as most-downloaded, and most-played. When you find a song or artist you like, you can then download the track or album. The site has a collection of more than 350,000 tracks for you to browse through. As well as downloading from other artists you can upload your own music and licence your song(s) under the Creative Commons law.

Another site I came across is Freesound. This is great for if you’re recording a podcast and need to break up your content with music. This site has some interesting sounds you can download. One of my favourite is the “hungry stomach” sound – you never know when this will come in handy!

Amazon There’s a good selection of free music to download at Amazon. You can see the all the free music downloads by clicking on a genre or sorting by popularity, release date etc. You can play it from the Amazon Cloud Player or download it to your computer anytime you want.

Happy listening!

Image credit FreeDigitalPhotos.net courtesy of Stoon