The internet has the tendency to bring out an ugly side of people. You don't need to scroll too far through the comments section of any article to find poorly punctuated, nasty comments. Although the Constitution guarantees our right to free speech, you have the right to control what is posted on your company's social media pages. Irrelevant and nasty comments could cast your business in a bad light or distract from content you've put online.
While it can be tempting to delete any less-than-glowing comment, we suggest putting a comment policy statement in place on social media platforms. This way you can explain why certain comments have been deleted without the risk of being called discriminatory.
At the foundation of a fair and open government is transparency. Clear communication between the government and constituents leads to greater public trust, civic engagement, and effective policies. This is where the public affairs part of public relations comes in.
Social media and the internet make it easier than ever for local governments to keep their constituents informed. Unfortunately, however, we find that many governmental units are still stuck in the last century. Many also cling to the instinct of no news is good news, putting out press releases only in crises.
The saying goes that you should work smarter, not harder. Creating original content for social media and promoting your company to stakeholders can require a lot of time and effort. As part of your media strategy, you should aim to create content that can be repurposed across multiple platforms and at different times.
For example, say your company produces a short informational video on a new service you will be offering clients, with the purpose of presenting the program to board members. Assuming the video doesn’t include any confidential information, you could also repurpose this video in a number of ways. You could include it in a press release when the program rolls out. You could share it on social media (Facebook, in particular) when the service becomes available to the public. You can repost the video one year out, even, in celebration of the program’s success.
Every business owner has heard the chatter about social media: “If you don’t have an account, you’re missing out!”
If you're like many business owners not wanting to get left behind on the social media gold rush, you've looked first to Facebook, which seems to be the most approachable platform. You create a page, put up photos, and invite all of your “friends” to “like” your business. Now, you think, “I’ve got to post about how great my company is,” and you put up daily deals, new products, and blab on about how great your service is.
And… crickets. You’re getting one like per post and it’s from your great aunt Edna who likes everything on your page. When does the gravy train roll through the front door of your office?
The problem is that you’re acting like a jerk. Remember the “social” in social media?
Imagine that you’ve come to a party at your friend’s house and you keep walking around handing business cards to everyone and bloviating about your great products and services. People are going to get annoyed very quickly, and you’re going to end up in the corner, all alone. Some people might even “unfriend” you.
Now imagine that you’ve come to that same party, and you talk to people about their families and how their baseball team is doing this year. You bring up a movie you saw or a concert you went to. You heap praise on the hosts and laugh with everyone when the silly cat gets its head stuck in the cereal box. You’re squeezing another couple dozen bacon-wrapped dates on your cracker plate and talking with Shirley when you mention your company and some of the new products or services you’ve been working on. Shirley is okay with that. She’s even interested enough to ask some questions and then she says that Al- “Come over here, Al”- might be interested. And he is interested!
That's how your business needs to act on Facebook; like a good guest at a friend’s dinner party. For every one promotional post you create, your business needs to put out ten posts about the things the other guests at the Facebook party want to hear about. Think less about marketing and more about public relations.
There are a lot of things that go into social media marketing; appropriate content is a crucial component. Get out of the corner and be a good guest at the party.
It seems like there’s a new social media platform every week; besides the giants like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, there’s Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest. Creating content for this large array of platforms can seem daunting.
However, just because your organization or company can create a profile for each platform doesn’t mean you should. Just like your company probably caters to a specific audience, different platforms appeal to different audiences. For example, LinkedIn is more often used by individuals looking for business/networking content, while Snapchat stories are more likely to contain culture and lifestyle content.
Rather than blindly posting the same press release or story on ten different social platforms, instead consider choosing a few platforms that best match your target audience and then tweak content for each one. As the saying goes: quality over quantity!
The internet and social media make it easier than ever to spread information (factual or not) like wildfire. If your company or organization has big news to share, choosing to make a big announcement gives you more control over the message and tone of your news (rather than waiting for the media to find out on its own).
Here are three things to consider before making big announcements:
Rather than fight the onslaught of wrapping paper, pumpkin spice, and Christmas tunes that pervade the end of the year, you can use the holiday season to your advantage. Although you might be tempted to slow operations down as November and December approach, the holidays present a good opportunity to leverage cheery public sentiment and push public relations efforts.
One way to do so is by celebrating your company and the past year’s achievements. For example, if your team has undergone restructuring and/or worked hard in the past year, put up a social media post with a photo of your team stating your gratitude over Thanksgiving. Before New Year’s Eve hits, post on the company blog your top five business achievements for the year, or include them in a Christmas letter sent out to clients.
You can also use the holiday season to mix and mingle. Throw a holiday-themed networking event for potential clients, or arrange a holiday-themed fundraising event for a client/cause your company supports. You can celebrate the holidays and promote your business at the same time.
Difficult situations often produce the wrong response when it comes to media relations and crisis communications. The instinct to run and hide just won't cut it.
Your long term success will hinge on how well people see you as forthcoming. People judge character. They want to see someone who can be trusted, someone they can believe, someone they see as doing everything possible to fix the problem.
Tell the truth, to the extent that you can. If there are details you're not allowed to discuss, explain why.
In a nutshell: do the right thing.
That includes responding in a timely manner.
Mack Communications | @mack_comm
Tell your story: don't leave it to the media to get it right. You'd be surprised at how many businesses and organizations do exactly the opposite. Whether it's fear of the media or a bunker mentality, that kind of thinking is usually a recipe for badly damaged media relations.
How do you tell your story? Over explain the issue and the response. While you're dealing with the media, take the same information directly to the public through social media and your own website.