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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!

Our industry is extremely network-focused, and events, seminars, and conferences will always be an integral part of how we interact and get business done. When you can be the speaker at these events, not just a participant, it establishes you (and your organization) as a thought leader, provides you an opportunity to present your perspective, knowledge and insights, and helps you establish credibility and build rapport with your customers, potential customers, and influencers. Many organizations are also using webinars more frequently; here, as well, basic public speaking practices will help you deliver a more engaging presentation and help you win your audience’s hearts and minds. Following are some suggestions to help you take best advantage of these speaking opportunities.

Know your Audience and Speak Directly to Them

Obvious, but critical – write your presentation with your audience in mind, using language, references, and examples that will resonate with them. Who are you talking to – customers? Partners?  Scientists? High school students? How much background do they have on your topic? Are you introducing a new concept or are you updating a group about a project in progress? Think about what your audience will be expecting from your speech. Be sure and deliver what they need from the presentation – and a bit more!

Display Mastery

The more you know, the more confident and effective you will be. It’s crucial to really know your material inside and out – this will allow you to be natural and comfortable with your delivery. Once you master your material, you’ll have a much easier time conveying your key points to your audience. It also helps to be passionate about your topic – your audience will be able to tell if you’re talking about something that you truly believe in.

Organize Logically and Clearly

Something that successful speeches all have in common is that they’re organized and have a clear message. A well-organized speech guides your audience from start to finish, laying the groundwork for the information to be presented, providing the key points, then summarizing clearly, and closing with a memorable finish. Set the stage, and finish with a punch. When your main points are arranged in a logical manner, listeners will be better able to follow your presentation. Fleshing out your points with relevant, supporting data (such as a personal experience or research findings) will help your audience understand and relate to your remarks. Make sure you leave enough time at the end to fully summarize your main points. If it’s an informative speech, the closing statement is sometimes referred to as the “residual message” – this is a final, broad, brief statement that sums up the main message you want your audience to remember. If it’s a persuasive speech, you should conclude with a call to action – end by telling your audience precisely what it is that you want them to do. Remember: the speaker is always in control of the presentation. Your audience is there because they want to hear what you have to say; take advantage of this opportunity by taking the time to plan and prepare an informative and entertaining presentation.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Public speaking is often cited as the one thing most people are afraid of. There’s good reason for that – it’s not easy to get up in front of a crowd and really hold their interest for a set period of time. Christopher Mortenson, an international Toastmasters winner, said that he practiced his winning speech 30 times before presenting it for the first time. When rehearsing, practice speaking to the room as if the audience was right there in front of you, and present out loud; reading over the presentation is fine, but that doesn’t replace a ‘real’ run-through. Practice using gestures when appropriate to intensify your points. The more you practice, the less jittery you’ll be in front of a live audience.   

When practicing, try to visualize yourself giving the best speech of your life. Steven D. Cohen, a Harvard University professor in the school of Oral Communication in the Workplace, believes that seeing yourself succeed is one of the most important factors to overcoming nerves. Remember that you were chosen to speak for a reason and that the audience is looking forward to hearing what you have to say.

Don’t Let Visual Aids Hinder the Speech

Visual aids are often great assets to speeches; many speakers rely on PowerPoints to help their audience follow along with the presentation. It’s important to keep the amount of information on each slide to a minimum, as too much text on the screen can get distracting, and use large fonts so they can be read from the back of the room. Also, integrating artwork, photos, even videos, can make the presentation livelier. But don’t ever read the slides, and don’t let the visual aids dominate – some of the best presentations I’ve enjoyed have been just a person talking – with passion, excitement, and a great message. 

Create a Moment of Awe

People want to be wowed. Don’t just follow the written script – be sensitive to your audience and when you feel they want more information or insights around a certain point, go for it! This is a common technique of Dr. Andrew Scott Crines, a professor at the University of Leeds in the UK. Build a moment in the speech that elicits a strong emotion and use it to illustrate your point. Great speeches can feel magical, grabbing the attention of the audience and energizing them. And the more frequently you speak, the more comfortable and confident you’ll become – while you also boost your credibility and that of your organization. 

 

Social media has become the way of the world. People all over the globe use social media in some way. It is not just individuals, either; organizations are all over social media sites. The question for organizations is how to turn social media into a good return on investment. Social media helps you engage with your audience, build a 'corporate personality,' and communicate directly with your audience -- but the most powerful social media pages also generate business leads and inspire sales. Leveraging social media effectively can help you to make a good impression on both your current clients and potential clients -- and inspire them to do (more) business with you. Every day, organizations and their target audience are directly interacting through social media. Here are some quick tips that could help you turn your social media visitors into quality leads.

Make Your Page Shine
Signing up for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is a start, but each page needs to show your organization in a consistent way. Make sure each page is reflecting consistent messaging to your target audience. It is important to make your page unique; that can be done using specific types of content, including enticing visual images.

With so many different organization and brand pages, being unique is difficult, yet vital. An example of a Facebook page that does that very well is The Federal Trade Commission -- this organization does a nice job of making an impression on first sight. The picture of the building is visually appealing. The site has a lot of visitors and followers, building on its interactions with interesting posts designed with their followers in mind.

Posts and Content Make Connections

Posts are the way that organizations show people who they are. They are a way to relate and engage your audience -- quality posts can really attract a good following to your organization.

Here are a few quick tips for posting:

   -To generate a good post, remember who you are trying to reach. Each post is a building block to demonstrate your credibility and knowledge of your given field.

   -Direct your followers to your content. If there is an event or news that the public should know about, post it! People want to know what is going on.

   -Creating contests is a good way to build interaction and get your customers and followers' contact information. It allows the customer to feel involved while also providing a good way to secure lead  information.

People follow your organization to see what the organization finds important and to personally engage with the organization. It makes them feel involved and it helps your organization build recognition with the followers.

FedScoop is a great example of using social media to promote content and build credibility. They give their readers the top government headlines of the day in a quick and informative manner. They understand that not everyone is going to read an entire story; they use social media to quickly inform their readers of the government headlines they need to know about.

Let Your Followers Know You Are Listening

Responding and commenting on your followers’ feedback is important to build trust. It will help to create a strong conversation with the customer. It lets the customer know that they have a voice when working with your organization and that their input is taken seriously.

A good example of a way that customers and organizations interact is Federal News Radio. Not every post has a comment on it, but when there is a meaningful conversation or something to add to a recent post, they do a good job of interacting and following up. This lets you know instantly that someone from Federal News Radio is interacting with their readers directly.

Promote Your Pages Everywhere

Getting others to follow your pages is an important way to leverage social media. Make sure to let others know that your organization has and uses social media. Put social media symbols in an email signature and on your social media sites. Have a link at the bottom of emails linking to your social media pages. Make sure that everyone has an opportunity to find your company on every social media page you have. If no one knows that you have a social media page, no one will follow it.

It is important to remember that there is not a limit to the number of followers an organization should have. The more people who follow your page, the more people hear what you have to say, but quality is more important than quantity – don’t post kitten videos to get followers; only post content that is relevant and of value for your audience in relation to your organization. It is important to monitor what your organization is saying on all forms of social media. Responses and comments should be made quickly and should be well thought out.

Building a relationship with your customers doesn’t just happen because you’re on a social media site - it takes time, creativity, consistency and commitment – just like anything else that works well in business. The advantage is that you can reach many people quickly and relatively inexpensively, providing a broader canvas that also encourages one-on-one attention and interaction. Use social media effectively, and you can build not only your organization’s credibility and reach, but also its source of quality business leads. Social media gives your organization a direct link to your customer – be sure to use it well.

 

 

 

Creating headlines is a difficult skill that can be a struggle for many writers. Headlines are extremely important whether you are writing for online content such as blogs, social media, or webpages or you are writing articles and thought leadership pieces as a journalist or public relations professional. Being able to connect with your target audience in a quick and concise manner is one of the most valuable writing skills in today’s society of social media and online content writing. 

Even though the content of an article may be extremely well written, only a small portion of people will read that article. Headlines pull people in. A good headline will catch the eye and help the reader engage. The following tips can help you create a strong headline:

Be Accurate

Although it is basic, many people make the mistake of creating misleading headlines. It is crucial not to mislead the reader about the content of the story. Be fun, be catchy – but ALWAYS be accurate.

Here are some extreme cases of misleading headlines.

 

Misleading Headlines

Accurate Headlines

Kids Make Nutritious Snacks

Nutritious Snacks Created by Kids

Two Soviet Ships Collide, One Dies

Two Soviet Ships Collide, One Person Dies

Hershey Bars Protest

Hershey Staff Protest

Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim

Squad Helps A Dog Bite Victim

 

Marry Your Headline with Your Subject

Let the reader know what the article is about quickly and in a focused manner. Being direct will help the reader know what to expect instantly. Being straightforward will lead the reader to the body of the article. Obscure headlines can turn away a reader as quickly as a direct one can draw them in. Having good flow in an article goes beyond the body; make the headline flow into the content itself.

 

Add Spice with Strong Adjectives

Adjectives really make a headline stand out. An expanded use of adjectives will draw readers into the article. Headline writing is about separating from the pack; finding unique strong language helps you differentiate your story from others. Think of strong adjectives as bright colors on a page -- the brighter the colors, the more likely a person is to see that color.

 

Spark the Imagination

Make the reader want to know more. Sparking interest is a key in headline writing. Ever wonder why “How to” articles are so common? They always seem to spark interest right away – largely because they promise to solve a problem for the reader. The reader feels connected to the story immediately.

On The Boston Globe’s website, sparking the reader’s interest is a regular occurrence. Check out some of the stories on their page for some great examples of interesting headlines.

 

Cut the Fat

Creating a headline that can be read quickly is extremely important. Your headline should be descriptive enough to give your audience an idea of what the article entails, yet short enough to ensure you don’t lose their attention before they even get to the first graph.

Making the headline short is especially helpful when writing online. If there is a short headline, it can not only be used for the site, but it can be blasted on social media exactly how it appears.

 

Use Active Voice over Passive Voice

Headlines should always have an active voice. Having an active voice makes the author sound more definitive, while a passive voice can make the author seem unsure of the topic. This is important, as it can affect the credibility of the writer.

CNN really has some great active voice headlines.

 

Use the Spark Notes Version

Headlines should almost tell the story -- they should almost sum up the article for the reader. Clearly let the reader know what is coming. The goal is to lead the reader into the context of the article; this will result in a larger number of reads.

 

Use Superlatives

Superlatives will help to draw an audience into the story. This is especially effective when writing for blogs or web articles. For example, at the blog Upworthy, the team is tasked with finding superlative phrases for story headlines. This is credited with helping them draw in millions of readers to their stories. According to the New York Times, the headlines that they produced created so much buzz that the site had 2.5 million new viewers in its third month of running.

 

Name Dropping Works

Having a name in the headline can be extremely helpful. It is especially effective if the client you are writing about has a strong brand. People want to know about the brands they care about. Using a recognizable name connects the story to the reader quickly, increasing readership interest.

News sites like The Washington Post name drop a lot in their headlines. Political subjects are a great place to name drop in a headline.

 

Most Importantly: Catch the Reader's Attention

The number one goal of a headline is to catch the attention of the reader. It's worthwhile to spend a bit more time on the headline for any story you write, to ensure it not only describes the article, but entices the reader. Hopefully these tips will help you make the story pop off the page. It is not an easy task, but this is a skill worth learning, to help you engage your audience and deliver your message.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Government organizations’ communications budgets are getting slashed, but they still have to educate their constituents, share information, and provide guidelines and insights about their area of responsibility to support their mission. In addition, they need to keep their message fresh and engaging to reach the new generation. Many programs and messages are targeted to millennials – but how do we ensure they’re actually paying attention and absorbing the information?

 

The good news is that approved social media sites are relatively inexpensive tools, as they really only require the cost of labor – creating the content, vetting it, posting it, monitoring the sites and responding to constituents’ postings. This method of communication is fresh and easy to use, and millennials are very comfortable perusing these sites for information and insights.  

 

The key question then becomes: how do we make our message catch – and keep – their attention?

 

According to a study done in 2010 by the Pew Research center, 90% of millennials use the Internet and 75% of millennials have created a social networking profile. It is important to remember though, that social media users are looking for more than just information when they browse. Several studies have shown that people participate in social media for socializing, entertainment, and self-status seeking, on top of strictly searching for information.

 

Social media is a setting in which two essential processes take place: peer-to-peer influence, and interaction-creating connections. These processes, along with the nearly instantaneous speed of the Internet, make for the perfect vehicle for distributing messages. Government organizations can tap into and creatively utilize this space to generate a “viral” campaign. Package your message in a medium that can be easily distributed from peer-to-peer and dress it up in the latest/dominant trends and fashions of your audience. And enjoy how effectively your constituents will help you share your message.

 

Here are some tips on getting a message to go viral:

 

     - Plug in: Take a look at current dominating mediums that your audience is latching on to. In addition, popular themes can serve as a powerful tool for getting those initial contacts.

 

     - Do something unexpected: Rather than emphasizing what is great about your message or product, do something that draws the attention of your target audience to it. The message promotion should be visible but subtle.

 

     - Follow up: Give your audiences more of what they like. If you have a great idea, play with it and reinvent it for as long as you can. People say millennials have short attention spans, but they also know what they like and will only share brands they trust to deliver.

 

    - Allow and promote sharing: Make your content as accessible as your organization’s guidelines allow. When appropriate, create opportunities for people to participate in your campaign: ask for insights, suggested themes, etc.

 

An example of an organization that has taken these tips to heart can be found in a recent Center for Disease Control and Prevention campaign – they pioneered an out-of-the-box, viral campaign with flying colors.

 

In 2011, the “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse” campaign swarmed the U.S., inspiring families all over to “get prepared”. Director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, Dr. Ali Khan, pointed out, "If you are generally well equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack." This campaign creatively provided information on staying safe, outlined how the CDC operates in potentially dangerous situations, and allowed anyone to make their own preparedness videos to share on the site. The campaign was so successful that from it, the CDC developed lesson plans for educators, t-shirts, posters, and even a graphic novella.

 

The government sphere has the power to distribute important messages creatively and effectively.  Government organizations’ passions no longer have to suffer the limitations of yesterday. It's about time we caught on. With the power and accessibility of social media, combined with a little creative fortitude, government organizations can really leave a lasting footprint in the web-space of tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

2013. Advice Unlimited LLC.

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