Candor recently helped a client open a new location. They wanted to generate buzz and excitement.
In the past, we would have suggested blowing up some balloons, ordering a backdrop and a podium. Then, we would hope the press showed up for our news conference (maybe we’d even let them know there would be cookies).
Now, we have much better ways to share big developments.
1) Own the Content – We didn’t wait for reporters to spread the news. Instead, we turned carefully crafted talking points and Q&A materials into blogs, news releases, etc. and posted them to the company’s website.
Along with those tactics, brands can share content on social media channels. Send a digital newsletter.
Basically, we took control of spreading the message, rather than waiting to see if TV stations and newspapers would do the job.
Brand bonus: Allocate a budget for social media advertising to amplify the message to your target audience.
2) Go Live – We also grabbed a mobile phone and broadcast the grand opening live. Hundreds of people watched in real-time, and the video ultimately reached thousands of people. We also interviewed the client on-site and posted the mobile video later in the day.
Facebook and Instagram have launched incredibly successful live video functions. These broadcasts are unedited, authentic and in the moment – which is exactly how most people prefer their content. This tactic also accommodates understaffed newsrooms. Reporters under tight deadlines may be more likely to watch the announcement on their computer rather than traveling to the event.
Brand bonus: Have a staff member play reporter. He or she can pose questions to leadership, give a tour of a new facility or demonstrate the newest product.
3) Tweet About It – In addition to the client’s other channels, we posted to Twitter throughout the day regarding the announcement and grand opening activities. Many reporters use Twitter as a resource to gather information and story ideas, and we generated additional coverage with a few posts and photos.
We issued a press statement in 140-character chunks. Today’s news consumer has a shorter attention span, and many get their news while scrolling through feeds in their spare moments. This change is scary, but it represents the future of our society and presents new opportunities for engaged brands to take control of the narrative.
Brand bonus: Include short videos or creative infographics online to increase interest and social media engagement.
Ultimately, we were successful with our client’s celebration because we didn’t focus on doing things the way they used to be done.
There are many innovative tactics companies can use to share information and announcements with the public instead of relying on traditional media. With new ways to create content, brands must take advantage of digital media channels and rethink their old communication plans to reach audiences and goals.
For businesses, a new year is an opportunity to reflect on how to take marketing strategies to the next level and ditch plans that are, like, so last year.
Many new year’s resolutions have faltered, but February is still a good time to re-examine three marketing tactics that worked last year and see if they are here to stay.
Facebook and Instagram’s algorithms give priority to video, especially live videos. Companies need solid clips to stand out from competitors.
Live video provides unedited, authentic and in-the-moment storytelling many users now expect to see and share.
Verdict: Here to stay.
Press Conferences and News Releases
Press conferences can advance an organization’s cause, especially when addressing significant news. The format provides an opportunity for different speakers to share specific messages. And live-streaming a press conference on social media to accommodate short-staffed newsrooms could broaden a story’s coverage. Press conferences also create touchpoints with members, potential customers or donors, and other stakeholders. Used right, press conferences can be successful.
News releases, another traditional tool, are on life support. A news release only doesn’t cut it anymore. Media pitches are often replaced with attention-getting social media posts sent directly to writers, reporters and targeted audiences.
Verdict: Not dead … yet.
Podcasts give organizations a place to share their thoughts on trends and the ability to target audiences. According to an Interactive Advertising Bureau study, one in five Americans have listened to a podcast in the last month. The challenge? Starting a podcast means staying committed to creating compelling content and promoting material consistently.
Verdict: Here to stay.
These tools can help kick-start an effective marketing plan. But to grow a client base or retain current customers, focus on the following three tactics.
Analytics and Measurement
What does success look like? What’s your business objective? How are companies learning more about customers? Install analytics tools for all email campaigns, websites, social media accounts and blogs. Use results to identify potential customers, and to learn about their communication and buying habits.
Paying for Social Media Advertising
Organic reach has been declining for years. Social media platforms make their money from advertising, so they give priority to organizations that invest in ad dollars. eMarketer’s research shows digital ad spending reached $72 billion, surpassing TV ads in 2016.
Basically, you have to pay to play.
Investing in Video
Videos dominate Facebook feeds and are shared seven more times than links. A study shows nearly 75 percent of adults are more likely to buy after watching a video explaining a product or service. Brands must create compelling content to attract and retain customers.
Constant change can be hard. But as old tactics become ineffective or out dated, new ones take their place. Learning the new ways reaps better engagement with the audience and a higher return on investment.
Christmas came early for Candor. In early December, PR Daily named our makeOKbetter campaign the best interactive storytelling campaign in the nation for 2016. I know what you’re thinking: “But what does ‘interactive storytelling’ even mean?” Honestly, it’s the new way to look at PR. With the rise of digital media, our services and capabilities as PR professionals keep growing. The makeOKbetter campaign wasn’t confined to just one medium. Instead, we dabbled in: social media advertising; email marketing; web design & management; infographics; high-quality, scripted video; and even live video shot directly from our phones. We coupled all of this with some tried-and-true PR methods, such as media pitching, press conferences and strategic op-ed pieces.
Here’s some background on our campaign, why it was necessary and what it took to win a PR Daily Content Marketing Award.
During the 2016 legislative session, the Oklahoma Hospital Association faced a proposed 25 percent cut to Medicaid provider rates, which would have devastated hospitals across the state.
It was a complicated issue in the middle of a statewide budget crisis, but the OHA called Candor to create a strategy that would save hospitals and save lives.
Together, we launched the makeOKbetter campaign to ensure Oklahomans were aware of what was at stake, especially for 42 rural hospitals at risk of closing. We hoped to get rid of the 25 percent cut by urging hard-working Oklahomans to ask the Legislature to “take back” federal dollars to adequately fund health care.
We needed to pack a punch to make a difference, so we outlined three phases to highlight the campaign and tell our story across Oklahoma.
Phase One – “Educate & Inform”
These budget cuts were going to impact jobs, communities and families, so we needed the title to focus on a solution. We created the logo in-house using recognizable healthcare colors. On February 24, 2016, we publicly launched the campaign with an interactive landing page urging advocates to “join the movement.” We collected e-mail opt-ins and explained the issues and key messages. We stressed the idea of “a better future” for Oklahomans. The site received media coverage around the state and let stakeholders and elected officials know there would be an organized effort to make health care funding a top priority.
The landing page housed our first video, an animation explaining the proposed budget cut and its potential impact. We made it easy for hospitals to share the video, and also gave them posters, payroll stuffers, FAQs and social media posts they could share.
After optimizing the makeOKbetter social channels, we turned the animation video into paid ads and targeted an interested audience. We used Facebook and Twitter to display hard-hitting infographics explaining the budget crisis. The infographics cut to the core of our messaging:
• “Don’t let this happen to Oklahoma Hospitals” • “Join the movement and take back our federal funds.”
By educating and informing our audience, we were ready to kick off ‘Phase Two.’
Phase Two – “Emotional Appeal”
On March 21, it was time to put numbers behind battle cries. We used video to tell the story of the rural community of Sayre and what it meant to lose its hospital. It was fresh on the mind of its community members, so our video crew took to the streets, cafes and salons to hear how they had been affected.
That was just one town. One hospital. One community. Our audience was starting to understand the dire situation.
By the end of our campaign, the Sayre video totaled 237,105 views, reached 352,535 people and received 9,272 reactions, comments and shares.
We followed the video with opinion editorials, posting earned media hits to our social media channels and sharing media clips with key influencers. And then we were hit with a few wrinkles.
Phase Three – “Call to Action”
As the month went on, it became clear the Legislature was not going to take back federal health care funds, forcing advocates to devise a new strategy. Under the direction of the Oklahoma Hospital Association, makeOKbetter endorsed the Medicaid Rebalancing Act and a proposed cigarette tax.
Through new data and a compelling infographic, we grabbed media’s attention. We stressed the need for action, stating the proposed Medicaid cuts would mean as many as four out of every five Oklahoma hospitals would not deliver babies, nine out of 10 nursing homes would be forced to shut down and more than a dozen hospitals would close within the year. Polling found 74% of Oklahomans supported a cigarette tax increase to fix health care.
We launched a new video, stating “Oklahoma is on life support” and “health care is in crisis” to create a sense of urgency and desperation. We unveiled the video at a press conference alongside the Oklahoma Association of Health Care Providers. Multiple media outlets and health care professionals attended. We asked our audience: “What are you going to do to save Oklahoma health care?”
We supported the message with infographics, door hangers for Capitol offices and a coordinated op-ed campaign from hospital CEOs.
Some legislators said our campaign was crying wolf, so we asked health care administrators to stand up and say exactly what would happen to their hospitals, services and communities if the Legislature did not act. We edited highlights from each speaker and turned them into short videos to promote on Facebook. We targeted legislative districts with our new information through detailed social media ads, and we purchased ads in newspapers.
Finally, it was time to vote. In an unlikely turn of events, the Republicans supported the cigarette tax, while the Democrats were still holding out for an agreement to accept federal funds. The Legislature left the vote open until midnight, but ultimately, the cigarette tax turned to ash.
However, within days the Legislature removed the proposed Medicaid cuts and miraculously found money to avoid the health care crisis. The makeOKbetter campaign accomplished its original goal to preserve health care funding, and developed a foundation to continue to educate lawmakers next session.