Why PR is Becoming a Visual Game (and How to Win)

Wonka meme

Remember when you were a little kid and your parents asked you to pick out a book to read? Did you gravitate toward the one that was a sea of black-and-white letters, or the cool one with lots of colorful, eye-catching photos?

In high school geometry, which was the better textbook? The one that wrote out how to determine the surface area of a trapezoid, or the one that showed you?

Even now, are you more engaged and likely to retain information with presentations that are strictly verbal, or ones that have graphics and charts?

It’s a fact: human beings are visual creatures. As a general rule, we remember 80% of what we see, compared to 20% of what we read and a small 10% of what we hear, a New York University psychological study found.

Applying this to PR, an industry in which the main objective is to communicate positive messages about a brand or person, Wharton School of Business researchers determined that presentations based on visuals were found more compelling and convincing than those that were only verbal.

Furthermore, 67% of the audience in the study said that merging visuals with verbal aids were all the more effective. So how can we, as PR professionals, leverage these findings to the advantage of our brands?

Get Social

With the popularity of visually-driven social media networks like Pinterest and Instagram, there’s no time like the present to socialize your PR strategy.

pinterestPinterest is especially great since a pin can link directly back to a website. If you pin a PDF of your fresh press release and put some compelling preview text in the description, your audience will not only want to read that particular release, they’ll be taken to your news room, blog, etc. and likely read many more. And check out your team. And explore your website.

In an industry like hospitality, make sure to load your website and e-menu up with lots of great photos showcasing your space, food and amenities. With one click, users will be on your site and one step away from making reservations.

instaInstagram isn’t to be forgotten, though. Although it lacks the referral power Pinterest has (at least for now), it’s a great vehicle for furthering community relations efforts or raising awareness of your brand offerings.

For example, nonprofits can benefit immensely from showcasing their volunteer efforts and positive impact in real time, while a fashion line can post sneak peeks of their new collection and the behind-the-scenes design process to get fans excited to buy.

With a few well-placed hashtags, even non-fans will be in on the action. Networks like Facebook and Twitter, as well as outlets like blogs, can also add to your visual storytelling power in their own unique way.

Create a Better Press Release

Notice I say “create” rather than “write.” That’s because although words still rule in PR, the changing face of the industry requires a little something extra for maximum connectivity and traction from both consumers and media.

As mentioned last year in our piece on putting together a great press release, adding just one photo to a release will increase views by 14%. Applying elements like more photos and video continues the upward trajectory, culminating in 77% higher consumption when visual education tools like infographics comepolaroids into play.

This all depends on the industry, too. B2C brands will do well with high-quality photos of their products or properties, while B2B people may be more receptive to charts and graphs.

As with any PR effort, think about your target audience when adding visual elements to collateral like press releases.

Get Ready for Your Close-Up

If you’re not sprinkling video into your PR plan at least occasionally, you should be.husky

ComScore found that in the US alone, people watch more than a billion online videos every day. Why?

They’re dynamic, typically easy to consume and people equate them with entertainment. Video makes it simple and fun to showcase brand philosophy, spread the word on updates and give a glimpse at the human side of a company, which consumers love.

If you’re trying to rebrand a respected, but traditionally conservative corporation, try a regular feature showcasing employees doing volunteer work or shadowing them for a day on the job. If you’re a tech-savvy company, dabble in mixing up your written press releases with video ones.

Video is also a great tool for media relations. At (W)right On, we’ve had great success creating client b-roll and sending on to news stations for high-quality, late-breaking event coverage – plus, it allows you to pick and choose the footage you want to show off. And, video is a fast way to introduce people to who you are as a company, piquing the interest of potential customers, media influencers and even investors.

What other ways have you found visuals instrumental in a successful PR program? Tell us in the comments or find us on Twitter.

Getting Real About Media Results

99 problems

PR = media results. It’s a fact even those unfamiliar with public relations know to be true. As industry professionals, it is our responsibility to navigate the complex world of media relations on our clients’ behalf, build a rapport with journalists across a variety of publications and verticals and, naturally, land solid media hits that lead to a positive action – booking a hotel room, purchasing a product, forming new awareness or an elevated opinion… the list goes on. But often, companies can get hung up on the quantity of results without first considering the quality. Here at WOC, one of our guiding philosophies is our belief that media hits are not a communications strategy. Take a deeper look into why, and how a fresh perspective on results can benefit your brand’s bottom line.

Recently, a client partner was looking to spread the word on a comprehensive, weekend-long event that would appeal to a specific type of traveler. Rather than sending a pitch to every outlet that maybe, possibly, if the time was just right could have covered it; I got real – I examined the timeframe we had, the audience we were trying to hit and the feasibility of particular outlets saying “yes” given their proximity (or lack thereof) to the location. The end product? A slimmer, but highly tailored, pitch list. And it worked – we got several hits that made perfect sense for the task at hand. One single-handedly resulted in close to 70% of the attendance goal reached within just a few days of being published.

This approach is beneficial in several ways – it conserves time (and therefore budget), leaving more wiggle room to focus on a variety of client efforts; it allows the PR pro to build more meaningful relationships with journalists they can reach out to time and again; and it ensures that media hits make real sense. The time used to create a well-crafted, impactful pitch and secure a few solid media hits is much better spent than on spinning wheels and taking shots in the dark, or getting a large number of hits that may not connect in the right way. Some may say, “at least you’re getting the word out,” and yes, sometimes you do need to take a chance on a pitch. But if you ask me, talking is a lot more productive when there’s someone ready to listen.

Readership numbers are important as well – they give indication to an outlet’s clout and how many eyeballs will be on your content. But sometimes, smaller outlets can be just the ticket. For example, say an online publication has 10,000 monthly readers. Not mind-blowingly impressive. However, you have to investigate who those readers are. Do they engage with the content? Do they comment on and interact with social media channels? Do their demographics fit the mold of the person you’d want to learn about your client partner’s news? You also need to do your due diligence on researching the outlet itself. Is the writing high-quality? Does the author hit on a number of focal points? Do they include great photos with their pieces? If so, they shouldn’t be overlooked based on numbers alone. Key takeaway – just don’t forget about the little guys along the way. Plus, any big pub has to start somewhere. If they happen to explode, you’ll already have your foot in the door and a relationship in place.

On the topic of big publications – another PR factor that often isn’t fully understood. For many brands, these are the Holy Grail of media hits, and rightfully so. We want them, too! However, even if you have a BFF-level rapport with the editor-in-chief, it takes a great deal of time, effort and typically multiple attempts to break through. Take a magazine with millions of readers each month. It will have more writers and editors assigned to cover content, to be sure, but also an inordinately higher number of pitches and invitations and press releases flowing in and out each day. I’ve had editors at national outlets tell me they get over 200 emails an hour, most from PR people. For an average workday, that’s 1,600 emails to comb through. A bit overwhelming, wouldn’t you say? Once they’re done sifting the good from the bad, they’re still faced with whether something fits with their (usually more stringent) editorial calendars, they have a writer to work on the assignment and whether they even have the space for it.

In a realistic world, it could take even a veteran PR pro with an awesome, perfectly crafted angle a year or more and numerous pitches to make it into a national magazine. Seriously. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying to write off your chances of ever getting into Sunset or Forbes. We’ve done both, many times, and there are more outlets where those came from. Just don’t put undue stress on yourself (or your friendly neighborhood communications expert) if you don’t make the cut right away.

So remember – when assessing the best approach to a media strategy; spend time on the smart stuff, don’t forget to play nice with the lesser-known and stay persistent when shooting for the big leagues. Before you know it, you’ll have a roster of results that highlight your brand and establish a savvy, respected public face.

Twitter’s New “Buy” Button is Ready to Shake Up Your Social Media

Twitter's New Buy Button Ready to Shake Up Your World

In today’s digital-loving environment, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t shop online. Retailers tempt with exclusive products, special deals and shipping incentives; and Cyber Monday is quickly on its way to taking over Black Friday, just about the biggest brick-and-mortar shopping day ever. So e-commerce has the world wrapped around its proverbial finger – but what about s-commerce? Yes, s-commerce, or social media commerce, is A Thing. Platforms like The Fancy (like a purchase-minded Pinterest) are in on the game, and Facebook started sussing out a Buy button in July. But people today move at a rapid-fire pace, and need something to keep up – enter Twitter’s new Buy button.

“We are beginning to test a new way for you to discover and buy products on Twitter,” the company announced last week. “This is an early step in our building functionality into Twitter to make shopping from mobile devices convenient and easy, hopefully even fun. Users will get access to offers and merchandise they can’t get anywhere else and act on them right in the Twitter app.” Already tested out by influential retailers, nonprofts and music acts including Burberry, The Nature Conservancy and Pharrell Williams, the “Buy” button works like it sounds – within the Twitter app, users can view a tweet offering a product. If they like what they see, they simply need to tap “Buy Now” to pull up more details, enter shipping and payment info and – done. Although results of the test run haven’t been provided, we at WOC think this will be a game-changer in terms of how brands do business on the Web – and on social media to boot. It’s a streamlined and straightforward way to make a purchase, and it’s intuitive – it speaks to the ever-present need to get things done and get them done fast. Where networks like The Fancy and Facebook encourage browsing, Twitter’s buying feature works just like the platform itself – real-time and easily consumed on the go. This tool is in beta for just the elite members of the Twitterverse for the time being, but it doesn’t mean you can’t plan ahead. Brands with marketable goods and services are wise to start thinking about how they can leverage this for success once it’s available to all. Sure, clothes and music are a great fit for this, but ponder how you can step outside the box and be an early adopter in your industry. For hotels, for example, this feature could act as an excellent sales tool. When new seasonal packages or meetings promotions roll around, tweet them out with the option to buy. Booking directly isn’t supported (yet), but a Twitter follower could easily purchase a voucher and connect with you to arrange their visit. You could take it one step further and create a great first impression, as well as maybe secure a true social media evangelist – when Twitter-sourced fans check in, greet them with a special treat and a note encouraging them to tweet about their stay with a preset hashtag. Nonprofits could use “Buy Now” to sell event tickets and donations by creating buy amounts, then let people buy $5, $10, $20 and so on. Much easier to manage – and more likely to make people feel at ease – than a buy-with-hashtag situation. Or, for agencies or inidviduals touting thought leadership, you could peddle whitepapers and access to webinars reserved just for your loyal Twitter fans. Any brand could build excitement and high-quality followers by releasing regular specials on a certain day, too – people would quickly look forward to “Travel Deal Thursday” or “Webinar Wednesday.” Have you tried out s-commerce, or will you now that it’s becoming so easy? Talk to us about it @wrightoncomm. By Erica Schlesinger, Communications Strategist

What Show Business’ Most Recognizable Names Can Teach Us About PR and Branding

Pop Culture branding image

Jay-Z. Lady Gaga. Kim Kardashian. Whether these names make you giddy or gag, there’s one thing for sure – you know exactly who they are. With longstanding stints in the public eye, these celebrities have establishing a recognizable, trademark presence and personal brand down to a science. Even if you’re not looking to make yourself the next rap-repreneuer, eccentric musical goddess or love-to-hate pop culture fixture, this group delivers some great takeaways that can inform developing and innovating branding and messaging in just about any industry.

Jay-Z

Jay said it himself: “I’m not a businessman; I’m a business, man.” This guy has his hand in more projects than most people manage in a lifetime – besides his obvious source of primary income as a rapper, he owns record labels, liquor brands, nightclubs and more. The backbone of his brand is elevating himself as a high-class jack of all trades, but with a twist – it’s not his businesses that make him, but the other way around.

What he can teach you: Build yourself or your brand up to be the authority, the reigning expert. Identify areas where you can position yourself as a thought leader, early adopter or innovator and capitalize on them. If you’re like Jay and can truly master a number of empires, by all means, do it and do it proud. However, it’s far better to be absolutely stellar at one thing than to be just ok at many – that will build a reputable, strong presence within your industry or with your customers.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga is a chameleon when it comes to her style du jour – who could forget her infamous meat dress? – but her brand has been consistent from the start. She lives the old Oscar Wilde adage, “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” Gaga uses her quirkiness and willingness to dance to the beat of a slightly different drummer to stay on people’s radars, as well as her passionate devotion to human rights causes.

What she can teach you: I’m in no way suggesting a lawyer or C-level executive must oversee meetings in a bedazzled egg capsule to maintain industry relevancy and garner attention. But, it is important to build your own brand of weird – it may not even be weird in the literal sense, but just how you set yourself apart from your competitors. Why are you different than them? It also never hurts to attach yourself to a cause, whether it’s fighting for better content marketing or making sure your organization spends time giving back. Just one thing – if it’s the latter, please be genuine. There’s nothing worse than using a philanthropic cause just to look good.

Kim Kardashian

Ms. Kardashian cultivates a wide-eyed, vapid persona that makes her seem… well, dumb. But you know what? I’d bet you the whole Kardashian-Jenner and West fortune she’s not.  Think back a decade. No one knew who Kim Kardashian was. And although she may not have burst onto the scene in the most flattering light, she definitely rose above it and has built herself an empire. Sure, she’s famous for simply being famous, but she’s effectively leveraged that to build businesses and amass a fortune that is nothing to sneeze at.

What she can teach you: You can make a comeback. People make mistakes, and these people run companies and develop brands. Maybe a new logo didn’t sit well with diehard fans or a social media manager made a snafu on Twitter. Acknowledge your error, listen to your audience and put a plan in motion to make it right. It always helps if you can laugh at yourself a bit, too – the humanity will be appreciated. Plus, if you’re on the radar for doing something not-so-great, a well-executed new strategy will be even sweeter once carried out.

What other celebrities do you think have PR and branding down? Let us know at @wrightoncomm.

San Diegans Oppose City Funding New Chargers Stadium

San Diegans Oppose Building New Chargers Stadium

63 percent of San Diego County residents oppose the City of San Diego funding a new Chargers stadium

SAN DIEGO, August 26, 2014 – A study conducted by (W)right On Communications found that 63 percent of County residents would oppose the City of San Diego funding construction of a new stadium for the Chargers. Of those who oppose, 67 percent said that they do not support public funding of a new stadium even if that means the Chargers would move to Los Angeles. The results were nearly the same at the City level: 59 percent of City of San Diego residents opposing, and of those, 63 percent said they would not support it even if it means the Chargers would leave town.

“Because many in the community have advocated to replace the aging stadium, we were surprised to see that a majority of San Diego county residents opposed making such an investment,” said Hamish Marshall, Director, Research & Analytics at (W)right On Communications. “This is critical because should the mayor propose a new stadium plan, San Diego voters will ultimately have final say on whether public funds can be used for it.”

Last season, only 513,641 fans visited Qualcomm Stadium to see the San Diego Chargers play, which ranks them 22 out of 32 NFL teams for game-day attendance. Formerly known as San Diego Stadium and San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium, the Chargers played their first game at the multi-purpose facility in August 1967. It is the fifth oldest stadium in the National Football League. In 2003, San Diego hosted Super Bowl XXXVII, and although the event was a success, then-Commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced that it would be San Diego’s last Super Bowl until it builds a replacement for Qualcomm.

The survey was produced by recently launched (W)right On Communications’ analytics division, WOC Intelligence, a data-driven decision-making initiative that strategically helps reveal the heart of key issues through expert survey development, implementation and analysis.

An online survey questioned 375 San Diego County residents between July 21 and July 24, 2014. Results weighted by age, gender, income and County region, with the margin of survey error being +/- 5.1%, 19 times out of 20.

(W)right On Communications Launches WOC Intelligence

Int-Logo

New survey reveals San Diego County residents strongly favor SeaWorld fireworks

SAN DIEGO, August 21, 2014 – To gauge stakeholders’ opinions – from hyperlocal through national markets – and leverage those detailed insights for data-driven decision making, San Diego public relations firm (W)right On Communications has created WOC Intelligence.

(W)right On’s new research capability is one of the first of its kind among San Diego-based PR agencies. WOC Intelligence is a market and public opinion research service that strategically helps reveal the heart of key issues through expert survey development and skilled analysis.

“It’s part of our core values to work with client partners to develop intentional and strategic campaigns that produce exceptional results,” said Grant Wright, CEO and managing partner of (W)right On Communications. “Since intelligence gathering has long been a critical part of how we develop strategic communications plans, WOC Intelligence continues (W)right On’s investment in the right tools to ensure our strategies are informed by the best information available.”

Based from (W)right On’s Vancouver, BC, office, Director of Research and Analytics Hamish Marshall is at the helm of WOC Intelligence. A former advisor to the Prime Minister of Canada, provincial premiers, city mayors and dozens of elected officials, Marshall has strong experience throughout the USA, Canada and UK in all data collection methods to provide critical insights for strategic planning, marketing and other organizational activities.

WOC Intelligence conducted a recent survey of San Diego County residents on a variety of topics coinciding with the agency’s key practice areas in hospitality and tourism, energy and water usage, and health care. Among the results, WOC Intelligence found that the majority of San Diegans think SeaWorld should continue its fireworks. 74 percent of San Diego County residents are in favor of keeping the SeaWorld fireworks. 15 percent are either moderately or strongly opposed and 11 percent said they weren’t sure. The results did not vary between City of San Diego and South or North County residents, nor 18 to 34 year olds versus other age groups.

An online survey questioned 375 San Diego County residents between July 21 and July 24, 2014. Results weighted by age, gender, income and County region, with the margin of survey error being +/- 5.1%, 19 times out of 20.