Advice Unlimited

The use of videos on organization pages has become a growing trend. Partnered with social media and interactive links, videos can be a strong asset for any organization; they’re a great way to give a little personality to your organization. There is a multitude of ways that videos can be useful to capture the attention of your target audience, position your organization and your executives as trusted thought leaders, and increase awareness of particular products or initiatives. However, the misuse of video can ruin an organization’s website and diminish credibility, so it is always critical to pay close attention to the videos posted and ensure they do not become overly intrusive.  Below are some of the pros and cons of using video for your organization.

The Good:

1. Video is easier than text. If your goal is to inform your website visitors, video is more convenient than text. It is much easier to watch a 30 second to one minute video than it is to click around an entire website until you find the same information. The U.S. Air Force does a great job of integrating video into the right places. The brief U.S. Air Force history video is a wonderful example of how to use video to inform your audience without being overly intrusive.

2. Videos allow for stronger search engine optimization. Using keywords in the description and headline of the video directs the content right to search engines, helping to gain more traffic to your website. This can also generate more traffic to your website after the video is watched because of the viewer’s curiosity to learn more and their propensity to share what they’ve viewed.

3. Getting to see the personality of an organization can make a huge impression on the website visitors. Video allows for an organization to show a little personality and gives viewers an idea of the culture of the organization. A great example of this is the White House website video section. They do a great job of using video for the President’s speeches and other events that the White House is involved with. Most videos get thousands of views and help to give personality to the President and his family; this allows viewers to feel more connected and in-tune with current goals and initiatives.

4. Versatility is a great benefit of video; as videos can be used in a variety of ways in addition to residing on your website. You can use the videos in other venues, such as public events or internal training videos; they can also become a great sales pitching tool.

The Bad:

1. Videos can oftentimes turn out poorly if the people who are being filmed are camera shy. When planning the video, it is extremely important to figure out who the correct people are to film. That is as important as what the person is saying. A poor video can easily sully a viewer’s perception of the organization as a whole. Be sure the spokespeople being filmed are comfortable in front of the camera and that they speak clearly, exuding both charisma and knowledge. Ensure everyone has their script ahead of time and that they practice enough to sound like they’re not reading a memorized script. It should be thought of as a conversation between the spokesperson and their target audience – a dry, lecture-style speech will do nothing to attract and retain viewers.

2. Another disadvantage is buffering or quality of the video while being viewed. This is something that varies with every person’s connection, but it can be intrusive for the viewer and lead to dissatisfaction for that person. Attention spans seem to be steadily decreasing. According to a recent article by The Guardian, studies have shown that 32% of consumers will start abandoning slow sites between one and five seconds. A one second delay in page load time can result in 11% fewer page views, 16% decreased customer satisfaction and 7% lost conversations. At a time when everyone is expecting instant gratification, you cannot afford to have slow or interrupted videos on your page.

3. ‘Do it yourself’ videos often look like just that, and still require a commitment of time, and an investment in software and hardware. For example, some software like Adobe’s “After Effects” can cost $50 per month for an annual contract. And not all of the video editing software is easy to use. Some of these programs take time to learn. That can be done through online education sites like Lynda.com, which can be up to $375 annually or more. A smarter approach might be to hire your PR/Marketing firm to handle the creation of the videos from soup to nuts: writing the script, managing the shoot, editing the video, etc. They can add the professionalism you want to ensure your video is engaging and will draw in, entertain and educate your audience.

Ultimately, videos can be extremely beneficial, helping you to increase website traffic, connect more deeply with your target audience, and increase trust in your leaders and your organization. Strong, well-spoken leaders and experienced communications teams and video teams are essential to creating successful videos. Make sure you review your goals before starting the video process, get your teams in place, and you’ll be well on your way to reaping the benefits that videos can bring!

This has been a rocky year in the government IT space; many of us are relieved to see this year finally come to a close, and look forward to 2014 -- a new year, new opportunities, and a new government budget almost in place! This is a great time to assess your organization's public relations and marketing strategies for the New Year, and make sure you're on track for higher visibility and awareness in 2014.

 

Public relations is hands down the best bang for your buck -- it is the single most powerful tool in any organization's marketing communications arsenal. If it's not in your arsenal, 2014 is the perfect time to take advantage of this influential tool. Consistent, focused PR educates your audience on the solutions you provide to help solve their problems; a results-driven PR campaign builds name recognition and brand awareness, helping you expand your organization's sphere of influence. Here are five tips to consider when you think through what you need to accomplish through PR to help you support your strategic business goals in the coming year. 

 

     1. Think through your business goals and objectives for 2014. You should be ambitious about where you want to be in a year and how much you would like to grow, while also making sure your goals are attainable. Then align your PR goals with your business goals. Want to expand your thought leadership presence? Grow a specific vertical market? Defining your goals helps you clearly identify where PR can provide support and 'air cover.'

     2. Ask your PR agency/team to define the PR/marketing actions needed to achieve your goals and objectives. It's important to be realistic about how much you can accomplish in twelve months, and you need to ensure that your actions truly support your goals. For example, if you want to grow a specific vertical market, you want your PR effort to focus on the media and events that serve that specific market.

     3. Review the past year's successes and efforts that were especially effective in communicating your message, and integrate these initiatives into next year's campaign, as well. You want to continue to nurture and leverage these successes to ensure continuity and consistency.

     4. Establish metrics to be achieved: how many feature articles are you aiming for, and what's reasonable to expect with resources committed? Remember, consistency is key, so an important element is securing feature articles that truly tell your story throughout the year, not just clustered around an important event. Want spokespeople quoted in the press? Work with your PR team to define the metrics that make sense with your level of effort and commitment, then put them in writing, and track results.

     5. Enjoy the holidays! Make sure to take time out of your busy end of year work schedule to spend time with friends and family. You have been working hard all year long, so take the holidays as an opportunity to relax and re-energize for next year. 

 

And if you need an engaged, focused PR team to help you achieve your goals, please call me -- we'd love to help you plan and implement a focused, results-driven PR campaign for 2014! Our promise to you -- we'll consistently deliver results, exceeding your expectations!

 

Happy holidays!

 

For more information on how Advice Unlimited can help you create and implement a successful public relations plan, or provide support for other public outreach and communication initiatives, please contact me at 301-924-0330 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 

There has been energetic debate about the definition of PR. What is public relations, and why is it important for accomplishing the goals you have for your organization? The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) recently initiated a crowdsourcing campaign and a public vote to establish this new and concise definition:

 

“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

 

To define more clearly what public relations is, it may help to delve deeper into two aspects of the PRSA definition: strategic communication and beneficial relationships.

 

Strategic Communication:

 

Just about anyone can communicate. But effective communication requires thorough planning, connections, and craftsmanship. There is a common misconception that the only way organizations can communicate to the public is by dispersing their message to as many people as possible through as much advertising as possible. This method works for some organizations, when the target audience is broad based, undefined, or difficult to define. “Inbound marketing or content marketing,” an approach used by many PR/Marketing professionals, is the purposeful placement of your organization's message in a way that earns the attention of your customers and entices your customers to come to you.

 

To break things down practically -- the world each and every one of us navigates is entirely made up of information delivered in different forms and through different venues. Each of our decisions, especially regarding business, is based upon the information that we’ve come across throughout our navigations.  As we go through life, we find ourselves maneuvering through this world of information overload as efficiently and effectively as we can; avoiding information we deem useless and holding onto information we regard as useful (or potentially useful). Sometimes we hold onto information simply because it’s fun, sometimes we ignore information that might be good for us because we don’t trust or like the messenger. We will only hold onto the information that we find valuable enough to keep and we can only hold onto the information we find during our daily maneuver-filled navigations. For an organization to be successful it needs to disperse information in a way that can and will be retained, using communication channels your target audience uses and trusts. Public Relations presents your information so that your target audience can find it and will hold onto it.

 

Pure PR is when the message and the outcome desired drives the communication channels used. The strategic PR professional will determine which media or communication channels are most used and trusted by your target audience, and most appropriate for the type of message you’re delivering. This ensures your message reaches your target audience in an environment that they respond to, where they’ll read and absorb the message, and in the language and format that resonates with your audience and inspires your desired action.

 

Beneficial Relationships:

 

The advantage of this strategic communication is magnified by ongoing proactive PR; which leverages the PR professional’s relationships with respected journalists and helps build beneficial relationships between you and your audience.  When you’re doing it right, PR becomes a key channel for developing a positive relationship with your audiences. A PR professional gets your information to the places it needs to be in order to get the optimal retention from your audiences. Continuous PR gives your target audiences frequent and varied positive encounters with the information they need to better trust, understand, and respect your business.

 

An essential factor in any organization’s growth is reputation. What people say and who is saying it both play an immense factor in making any monetary decisions. Pure PR communicates your organization’s trustworthiness to deliver on the expectations you establish, through communications channels that your audience views as trustworthy and capable.  

 

Having your solution or service talked about as news in the right publications is at the heart of what makes public relations so valuable. This third party credibility is validation that your organization does what it says it does. Positive press coverage builds trust in your organization.

 

When a consumer reads a particular publication, it is out of the trust, respect, and credibility they associate with that publication. They rely on these publications to serve as a trusted distributor of news they care about. When your organization’s successes and visions for the future are articulately expressed in an article, readers transfer the esteem they give the publication they’re reading over to the businesses mentioned – this establishes credibility via association. This pathway to credibility is particularly valuable in the government sector, and in any industry where there is a trusted pool of influential media, and balance, fairness, and third party credibility are crucial in procurement decisions.

 

With good public relations, organizations are properly presented to relevant audiences and audiences are pleased to be introduced to relevant organizations. Pure PR is the symbiotic element added to the organization/public relationship. Proactive PR -- continuous strategic communication -- is an invaluable tool to engage, educate, and influence your target audience regarding your products, services, and vision.

 

From the blog of Thomas Moylan, Advice Unlimited's Social Media Specialist.

 

In American society, there are advertisements in your face everywhere you look. There are ads on billboards, television, radio, social media, automobiles painted as advertisements, pop ups and ad banners on every website and even people dancing with signs on street corners. With so many advertising strategies to choose from, it can be hard to decide which one is right for you and your company. In a society so full of advertisements, we have to question whether the targeted audience is even seeing the message in the ad, or if they’ve become so saturated with in-your-face advertisements that they simply avert their gaze. I have been looking into the facts about push (or outbound) advertising strategies and the general consensus is that while useful for major corporations that can spend the money on huge advertising campaigns, outbound advertising is not well accepted and, quite frankly, is perceived as annoying and invasive by  members of the public. In the government market, sequestration has significantly curtailed outbound advertising and large scale trade shows. One advertising/marketing strategy that has been getting a lot of buzz is inbound marketing, and this can dovetail nicely with a focused public relations program – still the best bang for the buck in your marketing communications toolbox. 

 

The pioneers of inbound marketing at Hubspot.com define it as marketing focused on getting found by customers. Traditional outbound marketing uses cold-calling, television ads, blast emails, print ads and trade shows. These strategies still can be used today, of course, but with the advancements in technology and the prevalence of social media, people are changing how they absorb their information. Inbound marketing is all about creating great content that will attract customers in a targeted market to your company’s services. The idea is to create incredible content, make the content available to the public in as many relevant places as possible, gather customers and leads from the distribution of your content and gather analytics on your content distribution to stay on top of productivity and efficiency. Public relations/marketing firms are devoting more time and energy to this way of thinking in the current climate.

 

Content is the most important element of inbound marketing.  It is essentially the lure on a fishing line and you need to make it the most appealing and interesting looking lure in order to attract the best fish in the market. The content should include pictures, videos or a fun interactive display that really catches the viewer’s attention. A public relations firm can be an amazing asset when creating content because that is what they excel at. Public relations specialists are trained to create content that is so interesting and insightful it will appeal to and be used by reputable and relevant publications. As with any aspect of public relations, knowing where to find the targeted audience is key. Once the content is created, the content is posted on as many blogs and social media websites as possible. This increases SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and creates a large funnel or hub for people searching your industry to find you and get enticed into visiting your website.

 

Once you have lured the public in with your immediate content, it is time to convert these people into customers. The immediate content should contain lots of photos, visually-stimulating media and short taglines about the product or service in order to catch your audience’s attention. Now you need to transform the public visitors into customers with your informative content. This information should show off the best features of your company. The public visitor needs to believe that you are the absolute best choice for what they need. The informative content should be strong at its basic level – this includes who you are, what you do, how you do it and why they should choose you over anyone else in the industry. We know that the public does not always have a lengthy attention span, so the content should be very informative in a concise package.

 

There are many inbound marketing strategies available to reach your potential customer through different communication channels to strengthen the relationship and help transform the visitor into a customer. It is important to remember the target audience, and leverage the tools and approaches that are most effective with that audience. For example, for consumer-facing products and services, a combination of email and social media marketing can be extremely effective.  According to Rob Zazueta, technology Evangelist at VerticalResponse, it is critical to combine email marketing and social media.  He states that, “companies that combine email and social media marketing have a 27% higher open rate than those who use email alone.” The first step is to acquire the customer’s email address in order to send out updates and promotional incentives. Advise them to follow your social media outlets but more importantly, encourage them to join an email list with exclusive incentives that will not be advertised through social media. Getting their email gives you a direct advertising channel to stimulate return sales. To develop the process and increase the reach of your company’s inbound marketing campaign, you should get your customers to share their successful experience with your company through their own social media outlets. This can be done by giving incentives or special offers to customers who do share your company with their network. This tactic can significantly increase your reach with very minimal cost to your business. The cost of the special offer will most often be paid for with new business from the customer’s social media sharing.

 

If you work with the government marketplace, particularly if you’re selling complex IT solutions, you would use a different approach that’s more focused on building long-term relationships and providing education and information to help the government make informed decisions around your solution. Always be respectful of the specific parameters you need to follow when reaching out to government customers. Many government employees won’t feel comfortable giving out their email, and cannot accept special incentive offers.  Still, there are creative and effective ways to use inbound marketing with this unique customer, to build awareness, relationships, and understanding of your solutions and services.

 

The most important element of inbound marketing is the content. A public relations firm can be a great asset when creating and spreading your company’s content for your audience to find. For additional information on inbound marketing and help developing an inbound marketing campaign, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , check out our website at www.adviceunlimited.net, and follow us on twitter www.twitter.com/AdviceUnlim.

 

 

2013. Advice Unlimited LLC.

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