Archive for the ‘social media’ Category

Thank Goodness for Public Relations

August 6, 2015

Hand to God

Even if you’re not a Broadway fan, there is some news that PR pros need to talk about.  If you haven’t heard, a desperate phone-out-of-battery audience member at a performance of the Broadway Play, Hand to God jumped on stage with his charger in hand.  The anxious theater goer was scanning the theater ready to plug his phone into a visible outlet. Before he could realize that the outlet was fake and simply a part of the set, security intervened and led him back to his seat as to not disrupt the rest of the audience.  Sounds like no big deal right? However, the entire incident only lasted seconds, but the reaction lasted weeks.

The audience member not only delayed the play and interrupted the entire performance, but he also added to the never-ending observation of how attached people are to their phones. Because of this, people were eager to tweet, post and share their opinion about society’s dependence on technology, causing a reaction from Hand to God’s publicity team.

As in any unexpected situation, the reactions go viral immediately- especially in a world where social media runs untamed. The need for thoughtful PR has increased as silly incidents like this one have become more frequent and more viral. The lesson for brands is that they can’t always control the incidents that will spark chatter on social media, but they can control their reactions- especially by using PR.

What’s more, it is exciting to see the story lines and headlines that can result from an unexpected situation. For example, this incident drew attention to the play’s craftsmanship of the set design (due to the realistic outlet). That discussion was a great way to lead to positive attention from the media.

With their own initiatives, the play’s publicity team were able to control the reactions that yielded the most results. They created a hashtag, #Chargergate, created their own video, and even forgave the audience member when he came forward and apologized on camera– right in front of the theater itself. They took advantage of this interruption, and turned it into a full-fledged PR campaign.  And to boot, the buzz encouraged people to ask how they could buy tickets to see the show!

As a PR Account Coordinator, it was interesting to me to watch this event unfold and watch the conversations in the media develop.  I believe that PR pros can make a reactive campaign that works by controlling the conversation on social media  and using the attention to reach overall marketing goals. I give Hand to God’s PR team a standing ovation- they did everything right, and used great responsive PR techniques to boost their brand.

If a blog is written in the blogosphere and no one is around to read it- does it still make a sound?

October 15, 2014
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Photo: Sebastien Wiertz

When I started my own book review blog in 2010, I thought it would be easy to attract readers.  But I quickly learned how wrong my assumption was.  Because the blogosphere is a crowded space, writing great content does not guarantee readers will follow.  After learning this lesson, I had to find ways to push out my content so readers would find it, and then become loyal followers.

Readers of this blog might be wondering, with the plethora of blogs out there how do  writers ensure their content stands out from the crowd?   Without readership- many blog messages can get lost in the shuffle and writers lose the opportunity to showcase their work and get their thoughts/opinions/expertise out to target audiences.

Bottom line- a writer can have a great blog with top-quality content, but without readers the blog’s existence is pointless.  This is why blog promotion is so important. At EZG, we’re constantly coaching our clients to promote their blogs since there is good, quality material in them.

For our readers, we’ve provided three easy tips for gaining blog readership:

  1. Make the blog easy to find

This tip may sound like common sense, but it’s surprising how many websites have a hidden blog tab or link. If site visitors are required to search the site to find the blog content, they will usually not continue the search.  By placing the blog front and center on the homepage, the content maintains visibility by being just a simple click away.

  1. Utilize social networks

A blog lives (and gains popularity) on the internet- and what better way to ensure your blog gets the eyeballs you crave? By spreading it on social networks.  When bloggers tap into their social networks, they’re ensuring hundreds (to thousands) of readers are exposed to the link.

We advise bloggers to share the links to their blogs multiple times a day to reach those who may be surfing the social sites at different times.

Bonus tip* Hashtags and @mentions are great tools for potential readers to find and share blog posts and increase the likeliness the blog link is found by readers. Twitter and Facebook are great places to find communities of other bloggers who are ready and willing to share good content!

  1. Reach out to other bloggers

Does your client (or you) follow a popular blog that covers similar subject areas?  We advise our bloggers to reach out and say hello to the other writer! For bloggers, it’s important to expand the reach of the blog by inquiring to other writers if there is an opportunity for cross promotion or guest blogging.  Bloggers, much like journalists, need content and will often welcome guest posts with open arms.  The blogger will also help promote your guest post through their various networks which expands the reach and credibility of the blog.

As a blogger myself, I have found these tips to be extremely helpful in attracting readers. The blogosphere is crowded, but with a little bit of work you can drive traffic to your blog and attract readers who trust your insights and opinions.

The Ice Bucket Challenge – Why It’s the Coolest Social Campaign Right Now

August 22, 2014

Like many of you, my Facebook newsfeed is crawling with videos of friends and acquaintances pouring ice water on their heads- there are so many of these videos that they’re impossible to ignore. In a matter of days, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge went viral, with everyone from celebrities to politicians being nominated to take the challenge.

If you haven’t heard about it yet, allow me to explain; a person is challenged by a friend, family member, co-worker, etc., to pour a bucket of ice water over his/her head as a way to help raise awareness for the deadly disease ALS. If they don’t, they must donate $100 to help fund ALS research. From there, the person challenges a few friends (usually on social media) to take the challenge or donate within 24 hours.

Some people who made a video may not realize the Ice Bucket Challenge was not always connected to ALS. The idea was the same, but people could donate to any charity of their choice. When Pete Frates, a former Boston College baseball player who has been living with ALS since 2009, and his family got involved, the challenge took on a life of its own. Frates’ father’s video tied the Ice Bucket Challenge to #StrikeOutALS, an on-going campaign for ALS.

#StrikeOutALS in correlation with the Ice Bucket Challenge has created a way for people to unite- through one cause- and through one challenge. Today, people are accepting the challenge as a way to raise awareness for a horrible disease rather than just donating to a charity of their choice. This campaign has purpose, and it’s working.

The challenge has gone viral for three reasons:

  1. There is a clear call to action
  2. There is a sense of urgency (24 hours to respond)
  3. Connectivity through hashtags

These three elements will ensure that the campaign will have a relatively long shelf life and is sure to bring attention to ALS. . While there are naysayers who believe the Ice Bucket Challenge hasn’t really accomplished much, the ALS Association has received over $53.3 million in donations between through August 22. Just as important- people are talking. People are talking about ALS about what it’s like to live with ALS, , and coming forward with their own tales. I can’t help but watch my friends and my favorite celebrities pour freezing water over their heads and know that it’s going to help people like Pete Frates and Anthony Carbajal.

To watch Anthony’s hilarious, yet heartbreaking video click here:

Have you participated in the #ALSIceBucketChallenge? What are your favorite #IceBucketChallenge videos?

3 Brands Winning the #WorldCup on Social Media

July 3, 2014

This year’s World Cup is officially the biggest social media event ever, and it’s not even done yet. Millions around the world are watching the matches and taking to social media to live-tweet their thoughts during games—and this is a great branding opportunity for companies.

For the brands unwilling to dedicate a large amount of their advertising budget to space during the World Cup matches, social media has acted as a great platform to gain visibility. Many brands have effectively used live-tweeting to connect to World Cup fans around the world.

There are 3 brands, which have scored on social media by creating great content and engaging hashtags during the World Cup:

Waffle House

What do waffles and soccer have in common? Very little–but that didn’t stop the Waffle House from crafting one of the most talked about Tweets during the World Cup. Before the USA vs. Belgium game, the Waffle House declared a war on Belgian Waffles by tweeting a play-on the #IBelieveThatWeWillWin chant:

Despite not actually referencing the World Cup or USA vs Belgium match, this simple tweet was a huge hit. It was retweeted nearly 24,000 times and helped the Waffle House gain coverage in the national media. The Waffle House connected to the World Cup phenomenon in an extremely clever way that drove mass engagement.

Snickers

One of the most talked about moments on social media from the World Cup was the Luis Suarez “biting incident.” Twitter exploded with people immediately making jokes about biting and twitter was buzzing.  Naturally, brands wanted to participate in the action as well. Snickers, was ready and had the perfect social post created:

The simple claim of “More satisfying than Italian” fit perfectly with their brand’s voice and capitalized on Luis Suarez’s  bizarre behavior.

By using the most popular hashtags of the week, Snickers’ post was retweeted nearly 50,000 times- resulting in one of the most popular Suarez- related tweets on social media.

Nike

As a sponsor of the World Cup, Nike spent advertising dollars in all the necessary places.  Adertising aside, they still launched the #RiskEverything campaign, using Nike’s main twitter handle and their Nike Football handle as part of the campaign. Nike’s short videos (promoted on social media) have impressive viewing statistics—upwards of 80 million views. When posted on Facebook, the video garnered over 70,000 likes and nearly 50,000 shares- Gooooooooooalllllllllllll!

Their campaign has been following the cup’s action, and has had huge user engagement with thousands of social influencers spreading the #RiskEverything hashtag. Nike’s social media campaign appears to paying off with fans around the world responding and interacting.

Of all the #WorldCup posts you’ve seen on social media, what was your favorite? Who are you rooting for? Let us know @ebben_zall!

 

Why Rolling Stone’s Editorial Blunder is Actually A Great PR Opportunity

April 11, 2014

Our worst nightmare as PR pros, spokespeople, or brand ambassadors is when great press opportunities are ruined by careless errors. Whether it’s a misquote on a press release, or an inappropriate tweet, we naturally get uncomfortable when plans go awry causing us to miss the chance at making a good impression. However, sometimes the biggest bloopers lead to a higher volume of PR activity than those that are perfectly executed. We like to call those happy accidents.

For example, you may have heard about actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus posing in her birthday suit on the recent cover of Rolling Stone to promote her TV comedy (Veep).  For extra Veep branding, her bare back was splashed with a fake tattoo containing verbiage from the US Constitution.

The photo was intended to draw attention to her political comedy on HBO, but instead drew attention to a minor detail on the tattoo: a signature by John Hancock on her lower left hip.  No doubt, John Hancock would be proud, except that he didn’t sign the Constitution (Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence)

Many Rolling Stone readers took to social media to comment on the Seinfield starlet’s bare-it-all photograph (for several reasons) but, history buffs? They were out to correct the John Hancock signature gaffe.  Over the past few days, media has been chattering about this historical oversight, and asking if the misplaced signature was intentional or if Rolling Stone editors need a seat in a 9th grade history class.

Sometimes what sticks in PR can’t be planned; sometimes it’s the unplanned that receives the most attention.  To keep the PR machine greased, Julia Louis-Dreyfus has played into the error’s momentum by posting a #TBT picture and noting  the John Hancock signature in her baby photo.

JLD_tbt
The back and forth criticizing the magazine has mostly been done in good fun, and as PR pros, we’re happy to see a mistake made by Rolling Stone turn into a teachable and laughable moment. Hey, looks like Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the buff turned unsuspecting history buffs into accidental publicists…who knew historians were such great viral marketers?

What about you? Do you find any particular public blunders to be hilarious? If so tell us @ebben_zall

Once Upon A Time…You Hired a PR Firm

April 4, 2014

Why stories are made great by the publicists who tell them.

flickr/derekGavey

flickr/derekGavey


“We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one.” The quote from Doctor Who may seem like it has nothing to do with the public relations field, but I find its meaning relevant to what we do every day at EZG.

Our job, after all, is about finding and telling stories that capture our clients’ expertise. With news and commentary
travelling at light speed every day, we have to actively leverage the news and making sure our clients are hitting the right headlines. We know their stories, their goals, and their expertise, but the real science of PR comes down to knowing what’s going on in their industry at large.

To do this, we keep our eyes peeled with tactics such as:
• Monitoring headlines to cruise the issues that reporters are covering
• Monitoring hashtags to find the conversation starters on social media
• Monitor media and marketing trends to ensure we’re using the right combination of tools to fit our clients’ needs.

Without tracking the pulse of the industry, we can’t give our clients’ stories context – and no story works in a vacuum. Bottom line: we have to think like journalists if we want to succeed. So we work to connect ideas with a timely event or popular trend in the news, always keeping in mind the real value reporters and their readers will gain from a story idea.

But the media has many sides to it, now — don’t forget to be social! Active chatter on social pages is part of the equation, and in many ways follows the same guidelines for understanding the context of a story. Whenever I draft posts for social media, I always think about how a post relates to who our client is and their social media goals. But we must also always remember why. Why are we choosing to post particular photos? Why are we choosing to use specific hashtags? Why are our client’s pages following certain individuals or groups? Understanding the why is what gets us to not only be a part of the conversation,but to be conversation starters.

Which brands won at the Oscars?

March 7, 2014

Sure, everyone loves a good awards show.  Glitter, glamour, gowns, and stumbling celebrities make for great theater.  And while the nation (world?) tuned in, there were a few brands that deserve special recognition for making of the most of their exposure:

  1. Best Intentional Product Placement: Samsung
    Samsung takes home the prize for what’s been dubbed “the selfie seen around the world.”  Host Ellen DeGeneres set social media on fire when she whipped out a white Samsung Galaxy, grabbed some pals, and took a selfie with Hollywood’s hottest stars.

    What a spontaneous coup for Samsung, right?  But the plot twist is a familiar one: Samsung paid big sponsorship dollars for product placement through the evening, and the selfie was a smoothly executed part of the plan.  Yes, we’ve seen that one before, but high marks for execution and follow through.  Bravo.

  2. Best Surprise Product Placement: Big Mamas & Papas Pizzeria

    Big Mamas & Papas Pizzeria scored an unexpected on-air win when Ellen called on them for a celebrity delivery.  They knew they’d be tapped for backstage hunger pangs, but didn’t realize their pizza would be shared with the A list.  According to NBC Los Angeles, “The restaurant didn’t spend a dime on the stunt and received advertising for free, all thanks to DeGeneres’ desire to feed her celebrity family.”

    The store is now trying to capitalize on their Oscar appearance by selling their apparel right on the homepage.  Can they roll the momentum into a sequel?

  3. Best Unintentional Product Placement: Coca Cola
    Coke doesn’t necessarily deserve free advertising, but they got it when their logo appeared on those surprise pizza boxes.  See?  Stay loyal to Main Street and reap the benefits.

    Having the brand splashed on camera (and all over social media) was made sweeter by the fact that Coke yielded its traditional Oscar sponsorship to Pepsi this year.

  4. Most consistent brand to take 2nd place: Pepsi
    Ah, Pepsi.  Will you ever win?  Or are you destined to spend blockbuster dollars, only to yield the spotlight.  Perhaps Leo should take over as official Pepsi spokesperson.  Yeah, I went there.

Stay classy, Hollywood…until next year!

What’s in a Hashtag? Entire strategies!

February 27, 2014

Hashtag

Pound sign, number sign, hashtag; whatever you want to call it, this little symbol has impacted the marketing sphere for all who work in the communications industry. It’s hard to remember a time when hashtags weren’t part of marketing campaigns because they play such a significant role when building a strategy. In fact, in some cases the hashtag is the strategy.

Since hashtags are supported on multiple social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest) marketers realize using hashtags can be advantageous for bigger picture gains. Hashtags can be used to reach target audiences in a fun, engaging and social way that other forms of marketing materials can’t. By using hashtags, brands can create a quick connection to a large group, and if brands are really smart, they’ll connect the hashtag with a feeling. Creating an emotional connection enables the hashtag to leverage a positive brand image for an organization or individual. For example, Honda aired its touchy-feely #HugFest campaign (starring Bruce Willis) during the Super Bowl. Honda purposely did not mention their brand within the hashtag, in order to generalize it and position it to a larger group. Honda then went the extra mile and supported the #Hugfest social media campaign by launching a series of YouTube videos. Doing so caused the #HugFest hashtag to take off like a Civic Coupe on a race track. Marketers at Honda clearly know that everybody can use a hug now and then, and were wise to correlate a “warm and fuzzy” feeling with the famous auto maker.

Additionally, hashtags can be used as a fierce weapon to differentiate brands from competitors. For example, Yoplait Greek Yogurt flipped their lid and created a duel with competition brand, Chobani (the Greek yogurt giant). After realizing they would rather win the “who’s better” battle fair and square (instead of swooning shoppers with studly John Stamos) Yoplait formed the hashtag #TasteOff as a way to motivate customer feedback. A risky move that even Uncle Jesse couldn’t combat.

Yoplait invited real consumers to go spoon to spoon and vote in the #TasteOff on Twitter. Ladies and ‘gents, Yoplait won the brand battle right then and there. At EZG, we can stand behind a hashtag campaign that inspires direct engagement with consumers and promotes real brand loyalty across social media. Consumers want to be involved; they want to be spoken to and know when they’re being sold. Through a simple hashtag, Yoplait kicked off the conversation that inspired brand loyalty amongst consumers, a tasty move indeed.

At EZG we participate in hashtag specific campaigns on behalf of our clients. We conduct industry research and survey the conversations taking place on social media in order to be active social listeners. When monitoring hashtags, we filter out the noise and find the windows of hashtag opportunity where our clients can promote their brand, position the brand ahead of competitors, or just simply engage with an existing audience. Whether it is a brand specific campaign using a designated hashtag, or a hashtag that is used during an event, we understand the power that hashtags have and we love it.

What are some of your favorite hashtag campaigns? Comment and let us know which brands you think use hashtags effectively or tweet us @ebben_zall.

I Don’t Always Watch the Super Bowl…But When I do It’s for the Commercials

February 6, 2014

When I was a kid, I would sneak into my parents closet several times in the weeks leading up to Christmas and find my presents. I’m not proud of it, but it’s the truth (sorry, Mom). Even though it was such a thrill to tip-toe around when I thought no one was paying attention, knowing what my gifts were ahead of time made Christmas morning anti-climactic. In the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, I had been reacquainted with that old, familiar feeling.  This year, the eager American public was absolutely inundated with “leaked” Super Bowl ads online – eliminating any element of surprise when it came time for the beloved commercial breaks.

While it is has historically been a tradition for some of the best ads to be released for a “sneak peak” before the game, it seems to me that every year, more ads are released weeks before the big game. I’ll be the first person to admit it, I am not a huge football fan. However, I am one of the many people that (regardless of which teams are competing) will tune in to watch the commercials—I do work in advertising after all.

MostInterestingStephanieInTheWorld (1)

 The volume of leaked ads has me wondering about the future of Super Bowl advertising. Super Bowl ads are without a doubt, regarded amongst advertisers as the most coveted advertising real estate there is. This year’s game was the most watched television event in U.S. history drawing in 111.5 million viewers last Sunday night. According to The Washington Post, a 30 second ad cost a record breaking $4 million, or $133,000 per second.  So, with ads leaking prior to the Super Bowl I have a major concern: Each ad that is exposed ahead of time reduces the amount of viewers who tune in just to see the ads.  By doing this, viewership can dramatically drop and real estate for advertisments can depreciate.

One company that is embracing the trend of leaked ads is Google. CBS MoneyWatch stated that “while Google isn’t disclosing how much money it’s earning from Super Bowl commercial pre-game buzz, the company is stoked enough by the number of related searches and video streams…”. One of the biggest beneficiaries is Google’s subsidiary company YouTube, being that practically every pre-released ad is almost immediately posted on the video sharing website.

With the overwhelming takeover of social media in recent years, the reoccurring trend of Super Bowl ads caused me to ask this question: Will a time come when 30 second pre-roll ads (commercials that play before an online video loads) are just as sought-after as a 30 second TV ad? If Google and YouTube have anything to do with it, the answer would be “yes.” It may seem like a stretch, but when thinking about how much social media has changed the way marketers reach their audiences, the concept does not seem too out of reach.

Although viewership of the actual game was up, ratings for the game were down from last year. According to Austin Karp of SportsBusiness Journal, “FOX’s coverage generated an overnight rating of 47.6 for the Seahawks-Broncos game.  That’s down a hair from last year’s 48.1, during the Ravens-49ers contest in Super Bowl XLVII.”

While the drop has not been proven to be directly linked to the early release of so many ads, advertisers may want to be wary about leaking their ads too soon as a way to gain viral buzz. The last thing major companies would want is to spend an incredible amount of money and have it completely fall through on the day of the Super Bowl. Hey, I guess advertising wouldn’t be the only thing to fall through during the big game right? Too soon, Broncos fans?

Live-Tweeting: A Powerful Way to Connect

January 22, 2014
©Esther Vargas

©Esther Vargas

With so many users on social media in 2014, it is nearly impossible to simply watch T.V. “Tweet-watching” would be a more accurate phrase to use when describing how we interact with television shows this season.

Program viewers like me live-tweet during programs as they air and share opinions in real-time with other viewers by connecting with hash-tags. Live-tweeting television shows using designated hashtags has taken over Twitter, with #Sherlock , #Scandal  and #GoldenGlobes emerging as trending topics as they air. By using Twitter as a communications tool to connect with others T.V. fans, thousands of people are watching, tweeting and interacting with each other at light speed.  Because of this, television is no longer a passive activity but an interactive experience.

The shows also encourage live-tweeting as they often include the desired hashtag to use on the screen, and ask viewers to tweet @ reactions to the show’s Twitter handle. For example, when the airdate for the third season of hit BBC drama Sherlock was announced, the show introduced the hashtag #SherlockLives on the side of a hearse. Fans instantly took to the new hashtag, and used it in their tweets when Sherlock returned on January 1st, 2014. The BBC used the hashtag as they live-tweeted their reactions and exclusive photos and content for the three episodes of the series. By connecting through advertising, show promotions and Twitter, fans were able to share in the experience of the show’s premiere instead of simply observing it.

However, live-tweeting is not just reserved for TV’s biggest fans—brands are also tapping into the benefits of live-tweeting and using it as an advantage.   For example,   DiGiornio Pizza is one brand that excels at leveraging the power of Twitter conversations.  During NBC’s Sound of Music Live! DiGiornio live-tweeted the entire show which resulted in hilarious tweets and free media coverage for the brand. Using #SoundofMusicLive (the second highest trending topic that night) DiGiornio was visible to a large audience, which resulted in hundreds of retweets and catapulted the DiGiornio brand as a trending topic. While the Sound of Music and frozen pizza seem to have nothing common, the people behind the DiGiornio social media campaign created funny and clever ways to tie their tweets to the broadcast and connect back to their brand.

More Examples of DiGiornio’s Creativity here:

Live-tweeting is a new way for social media managers to garner attention for their brands on social media. While live-tweeting might not work for every brand, it is an intriguing new way to use Twitter and users are already starting to get on board. If you’re confused about how to get started, I’ve included a few helpful tips below:

  • Think before you post
  • Be spontaneous
  • Find clever and creative ways to engage
  • Bring the conversation back to your brand/program/event

Live-Tweeting has already shaped the way that broadcast outlets, brands, and consumers connect in real-time. With the rise of social media platforms like Snapchat, it shows that there is now slowing of the need for immediate stimulation. Because of that need, I feel that live-tweeting will become much more common. It will be interesting to see if more brands will utilize the potential of live-tweeting and how sales will be directly impacted—who knows we may even cover that topic on the Ebben Zall Group blog.


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