A Clear View: The Clearpoint Agency Blog

End of Year PR Checklist

Posted on December 29, 2016

The start of a new year brings New Year’s resolutions, new beginnings and new goals. And the beginning of a new year is also an opportunity to reflect on the previous year’s public relations successes and missteps.

If you find that you were just shy of reaching your communications goals in 2016, either because they were not specific enough or too ambitious, check out our end-of-the-year PR checklist below. Use it to help guide your PR strategies for the upcoming year.

Evaluate Competitors – Have your PR team perform a competitor communications analysis to identify the various tactics your competitors use in their PR and communication programs. Take a deep dive to see if they are doing anything unique and analyze what seems to be working for them or not. Most importantly, look for areas of missed opportunities. By analyzing your competitors, you can find ways to differentiate and more effectively position your brand.

Review Messaging –  Does your messaging still resonate with your audiences? Have your messages changed overtime? If you think your messaging needs refreshing, it may be time to hold a messaging session. As your company grows and changes, your messaging will as well. It is important that your messaging stays current to ensure that all PR deliverables – press releases, social media posts, website content, whitepapers, conference materials and more – are in sync and consistent with what you want to communicate to your publics. Look for your use of jargon and overused phrases. Work to develop messaging that clearly communicates the compelling benefits of working with you and how you solve challenges.  Make sure your messaging is as unique as your organization is.

Analyze Social Media – Examine your social media channels to see what type of posts resonate with your audiences. Consider updating your social media strategy to coincide with your messaging.

Social media is constantly changing. What is trending one day may change the next. It’s critical that you understand which social media platforms your audience uses most and what content results in solid engagement. Once you have reviewed your social media, create a new social media plan and calendar for the new year. Focus on goals you want to accomplish with social moving forward.

Update Website – Similar to social media, website trends continually change – everything from navigation to design to mobile capability, and everything else in between. We recommend refreshing your website at least once every two years. It is also important to update your website content to be concise, well written, and on target with your messaging. Look at your images and headlines. Sometimes just changing out the images and adjusting headlines can freshen up your website between major revamps.

Set Goals –  Work with your PR team to determine communications goals for the forthcoming year. What are the most important things you need to communicate to your publics? Is there a challenge or opportunity you must address? Are there more creative ways of telling your brand’s story? Did you land the kind of earned media you wanted to over the past year?  Did your press releases tell a story over time? What kind of content do we need to create? Ask yourself these types of questions and develop a set of goals, and at by this time next year, you will have a way to measure your communications success.

From everyone at Clearpoint Agency, we wish you a happy and prosperous new year!

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#CRISIS: How social media can save the reputation of your business

Posted on October 08, 2014

Social media has fundamentally changed the way we do business by giving voice to millions of consumers in instantaneous, global (and very public) communications networks that operate around the clock. The speed and intimacy characteristic of new communications models like Facebook and Twitter have forced reputation from the number three to the number one ranked strategic risk currently facing large companies  And with good reason.

Fifty percent of the public now cites the Internet as a main source for national and international news (Pew Research Center, 2013) far outpacing traditional sources like newspaper and radio. Businesses no longer have the luxury of time to prepare their responses to criticism or crisis. Simply put: today’s public relations practitioners must be prepared to put out a fire in 140 very crafty characters to proactively mitigate reputational damage.

The good news is that there are ways to prepare  and proactively control a crisis using social media. Here’s how:

  1. Don’t hide. Digital silence is conspicuous. Social media offers a unique opportunity to publically address consumers in real time – use it meaningfully.
  2.  Plan for crisis. There’s no need to pre-script tweets and status updates, but the tone and timing of your online strategy should be discussed and integrated into your existing crisis communications plan ahead of time. Bonus: Advance planning gives you the luxury of being able to run your ideas by your legal team, making it even easier to determine exactly what your response can and cannot say.
  3.  Be quick, but don’t rush. Benjamin Franklin must have been dreaming of the Twitterverse when he said, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”  Don’t allow the speed of social media to force an ill-crafted or rushed response you’ll regret. You can’t take it back.
  4. Be human. Digiorno’s new media team, lauded in the past for their savvy, apologized with a personal tweet to each and every user who noticed that they had mistakenly weighed in on the anti-domestic violence hashtag #WhyIStayed with an inappropriate tweet (AdWeek, 2013). Although it must have taken the company hours to respond to each individual user, it made the brand appear human, which made the mistake easier to understand.
  5. Use your newfound #ALSIceBucketChallenge prowess. Among the many takeaways from the now famous #ALSIceBucketChallenge, one is that it is possible for even the largest of companies to capitalize on a 24-hour turnaround. Crisis plans are bogged down with cumbersome top-down approval processes that just don’t make sense in social media. Develop a process for getting your tweets and status updates approved in the quickest way possible, while keeping in mind who needs to see each message.
  6. Assign a social media gatekeeper who can pivot gracefully. Most crisis management plans outline not just what but who is assigned to handle each step. It is critical that you have a social media gatekeeper who can quickly implement the plan and pivot to accommodate changes to the situation. When rumblings began about #ALSicebucketchallenge participants were spending more on bagged ice than ALS research, social media teams evolved their strategy to include a significant donations from the company along with their CEO’s ice bath . One savvy company, Zodiac Pool Systems, even added a social element to their donation strategy by increasing their donation by one dollar every time a Facebook user liked or shared their video.

In short, recognize both the opportunities and the challenges that social media affords in handling crisis communications, and develop a plan that includes social media for when the inevitable crisis hits.

This blog post was contributed by Sam Peterson, Account Executive at Clearpoint Agency, Inc.


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10 Tips to Get into Print (or Online)

Posted on August 24, 2011

Getting into a print or online publication can be tricky, from writing an enticing pitch to trying to distinguish your press release from the hundreds of others sitting in the editor’s inbox. We drew from our own experiences with media relations to compile this list of tips to help you get published.

  1. 1. Be honest – Put your news to the test. Is it really newsworthy? Assess the entertainment value, proximity, prominence, timeliness, uniqueness and impact for the audience.
  2. Read your target publications– It is crucial that you know what these publications and broadcast stations care about and how they address their audiences, that way you can tailor your pitch to make it more appealing.
  3. Target the appropriate editors– And producers too. You will have a better shot at success if you send the tech piece to the tech editor, rather than to the lifestyles or calendar editor.
  4. Write a good release– Keep it factual and interesting to get your point across clearly and concisely. Associated Press Style is never going out of style so learn it and use it! Answer these questions within the first three paragraphs: “who, what, where, when and why?” Put opinions in quotations only and never make outrageous claims you cannot back up.
  5. Distribute the news through a reliable wire service– Make sure it gets to the appropriate audience, but don’t expect the wire service to do all the work for you! Send your news release with an individualized pitch to top editors/producers at your key 10-20 media outlets.
  6. Master the art of a good pitch– Keep it short but compelling. No more than three paragraphs. Give information that is not included in the release. If you can capture his/her attention in the first seven seconds, you will also capture his/her audience.
  7. If you really have a coup to announce, offer an exclusive angle to your number one media target– Or, embargo the news to the top three outlets that are likely to cover your announcement. Give them an early heads-up but ask them to hold the new until you are ready to release it widely.
  8. Include relevant visuals– A photo of a prominent person, interesting art, charts and graphs help to make a release more interesting. They’ll also get you more space.
  9. Don’t play hard to get! – After you’ve sent your pitch, follow-up by phone and make yourself available on a moment’s notice for an interview if the editor/producer is interested. Remember they are running on tight time schedules.
  10. Remember that a good PR agency just might be your best tool – We know the editors, the audiences and the pitch process that will land a story and gain success. A Good PR Agency will help get you the recognition that you deserve.

This post was contributed by Lexy Haynes, Clearpoint Agency Senior Account Executive.

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