Play along with me. What if I told you that most of us spend more than two hours per day on one single activity. Would you classify that activity as important?
Now I’m going to share that during the same couple of hours (142 minutes, to be exact), a brand can leave an impression, create an action, or even make a sale for a little $.04 ad. Would you consider it a good investment to place your marketing dollars there?
We’re all marketers, so I think you know where I am going with this, but hang with me just a little while longer, please.
Now if I shared that this investment would be in social media, what would you expect that budget to be? $1 per day? $10 per day? $100 per day?
In our world, there is often a disconnect between the opportunity social media strategy and advertising presents, and the budget clients are willing to allocate to it. This begs the question. What is social media worth…to you?
For big brands, millions of dollars are spent on flashy Superbowl commercials and billboards whose measurement is difficult to quantify, to say the least, but many have been slow on the uptake when it comes to creating a social media presence or shifting budget. Knowing that a Superbowl commercial or even an advertisement on TV is out of the question for the majority of businesses, why wouldn’t we encourage a more affordable spend of budget on a medium such as social media?
According to research by Digital Information World, nearly every age group spends more than an hour per day on social media. That means that unless your target audience is strictly senior citizens, you need to be on social media too. (This also doesn’t rule out a presence for social platforms to target seniors. My grandmother has been known to make a comment or two on Facebook per day. Maybe more depending on how long her bridge game lasts.)
Have I convinced you yet? Most brands should be on social media, but what does that mean? At REED, it means developing a consistent brand voice that showcases who you are and provides quality content for your audiences, coupled with an advertising strategy that elevates your posts and ensures they are seen by those audiences.
And this is why it all comes back to basics of public relations when we talk about social media. From a communications standpoint, it all begins with the right message. Before you determine the correct channel and set up the target audiences, you must lay the foundation with the research and key message development. As we like to say, you can be reaching all the right people in all the right ways, but it doesn’t matter if your message doesn’t resonate. They will scroll right on past, or worse, hit the dreaded “don’t show me again” button.
This is why we feel strongly that social media belongs with a communications specialist, a wordsmith, a PR pro, shall we say.
Many brands do not realize the time it takes to create a substantial social media presence that consistently resonates with your audience, and some do, which perhaps is the reason they haven’t taken the leap to establishing this presence.
To provide the full context, I’ll explain our social media process. At REED, we include social media in the PR umbrella and in many ways, use our discovery process and client knowledge as a foundation for the social media calendar. Where things begin to get more time-intensive is developing content on a daily or tri-weekly basis that is varied enough to keep things interesting, yet targeted enough to stay true to the brand.
Our teams spend hours brainstorming, writing, and rewriting content to ensure the message is perfect before a draft calendar even crosses a client’s desk. Once the content is approved, the ad targeting strategy is set along with budget, and the team begins to monitor as the content is scheduled and posted. Finally, we analyze and assess what is performing well and which posts or ads are not to optimize for future content.
But social media and the content you create for each channel doesn’t have to stop there. Your content should be maximized across all channels and platforms. It can be expanded upon on your website, videos can be extended, and repurposed, and graphics can be used in media outreach.
A cohesive communications strategy is the backbone of any PR or marketing campaign, and social media is a highly valuable component of that. So, what is social media worth? What would you pay if you could reach your customers during those 142 minutes they spend per day checking, viewing, and sharing on social media? I’ll let you be the judge.
As TEDxNashville headed into its 10th year, their event team approached REED to assist with media relations and organic social media content creation for the event. With the number of Nashville’s ticketed events continuing to grow year over year, REED was tasked with helping to increase event attendance and raise awareness for the event, as well as ultimately ensuring its longevity. We were also responsible for helping to spread the word and garner attendance for the first-ever TEDx360 event, taking place the night before to kick things off.
To share stories of hope and innovation to inspire positive change, events like TEDxNashville are important for Music City’s expanding community. Because TEDx Talks are independently organized events from TED Talks, they are held and executed by groups of passionate volunteers. RPR kicked off the TEDxNashville team six weeks before the event, hitting the ground running from there to ensure a successful event.
The campaign consisted of earned media coverage, securing influencer partnerships, and the creation and posting of organic social media content. These efforts culminated in coverage and buzz that spread through Middle Tennessee in the form of digital, print, broadcast, social media, community calendars, and word-of-mouth.
REED created an announcement press release and conducted pitching, securing coverage across the greater Nashville area’s mainstream, lifestyle and business publications. Top hits included three consecutive broadcast segments on WSMV News 4’s premier midday talk show “Today in Nashville” featuring three of TEDxNashville’s speakers, print inclusion in The Tennessean’s The Ticket section and on-site coverage from WSMV News 4 featuring an interview with Sugarland co-founder, Kristian Bush. We also received coverage on the TEDX360 kickoff event, including post-event photo round-ups in Nashville Lifestyles and Nashville Post. Total earned media impressions were 15,506,705.
REED also had the event included in all significant local calendar listings, reaching an estimated audience of 2,604,422. Additionally, the event was featured in the e-newsletters of notable community news outlets and organizations including Nashville Guru, StyleBlueprint, the Nashville Downtown Partnership’s “Downtown Details” and more.
Targeting lifestyle influencers with engaged followings, REED secured ticket giveaways with three popular, local influencers including Goldwill Digger, Native in Nashville and Breezy and Brazen. These efforts were made to support our overall media relations campaign and goal for the event, resulting in a combined 55,515 impressions.
Organic Social Media
REED crafted and posted organic social media content –– as well as real-time, on-site content at the event — on TEDxNashville’s Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter pages from mid-January through the event. REED used social channels to raise awareness and increase attendance for the 2019 event, provide information and updates about TEDxNashville, and maintain a regular stream of engaging lifestyle content. We also worked closely with event volunteers working to implement paid campaigns to support the event itself and our organic content.
REED provided on-the-ground event support by managing on-site media opportunities, capturing and posting real-time social media content, and managing social media volunteers.
REED secured more than 5 million media impressions highlighting the TEDxNashville event, its speakers, and its purpose/mission. RPR was tasked with garnering a minimum of 8 media placements, securing a total of 26 media hits + event calendar listings
The event had 1,600 attendees, exceeding last year’s number by 500. RPR was tasked with growing attendance by 15 percent, ultimately growing the 2019 audience by nearly 32 percent.
The event––including the kickoff TEDx360 event––was a success in terms of media coverage, attendance, overall reception, and how impactful the talks and performances were for guests.
yogasoul is more than just a yoga studio. It takes what yogis love about the practice and elevates it so that proper form and optimal results are at the forefront. Located off of Wedgewood Avenue, yogasoul was founded and is led by Cindy Lunsford and her incredible “Soul Squad” of experienced and diverse yoga instructors.
Because yogasoul isn’t an average yoga studio, their marketing couldn’t be average either. RPR’s three-month-long campaign introducing yogasoul into the Nashville market culminated in one furry, fun event: Bunny Yoga benefitting the Nashville Bunny Rescue. Cue the collective “aww!!”
The concept for this event stemmed from yogasoul’s commitment to give back to the local community while celebrating Easter weekend in a unique way. Our team worked to secure media announcing the event, drive RSVPs, create promotional flyers and coordinate attendance from some of Nashville’s top digital influencers.
It was as adorable as it sounds and served as a great way for yogasoul to connect with local yogis and animal lovers alike.
In total, RPR secured more than 6.8 million media impressions for yogasoul to raise awareness for their opening. Be sure to pick up the May issue of Nashville Lifestyles to read more about their yogi-centric approach and see inside the studio.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but is it worth $1,000? That depends on who the post is coming from.
Influencer campaigns have proven to be extremely effective even when traditional media has struggled to gain its footing in the digital world. While working with influencers can produce similar results to that of traditional media coverage, especially for consumer-focused campaigns, the process of working with influencers can be quite different and the rules are often hazy.
Marketing and advertising pros have long since tapped influencers as spokespeople for brands dating back to the Queen and the Pope promoting the use of general medicine to common people. The concept of a digital influencer, however, has only become popular in recent years and it’s still developing. What qualifies someone as a digital influencer is up for interpretation – is it the number of followers? Anyone can buy those. Level of engagement? That’s all relative to their follower count. Is it quality of content shared? Yeah, that seems important.
It’s some combination of those things, but the truth is there is no industry standard so anyone can claim to be a digital influencer. There is no professional society of influencers, no set of ethical standards to abide by and, because there isn’t a ton of information out about influencers and their results, there’s no set pricing structure or market for advertising or working with them.
Recently, the FCC put regulations into place requiring influencers to post any endorsements with #ad, although, this is rarely regulated.
The cost of working with influencers can vary greatly from person to person. Some may only request a trade for product or services, while others always require payment. It’s important to remember that just like traditional media, influencers are dedicating their time and efforts to generate content and they expect to eventually monetize what they are doing.
Once we understand that influencers don’t have set standards for how they work with brands or even set pricing, how can you know what to expect from them and the best way to get results that help your bottom line? It all boils down to strategy and budget.
As with traditional media and public relations, always start with the story and the audience you are trying to reach. At RPR, we first dig deep into what we want to convey for a client and then match that goal with a relevant publication or target outlet. The process is similar for influencers because many influencers focus on very specific subjects so we are able to directly reach people interested in those topics through strategic targeting.
For example, in 2018 we worked with an environmentally-focused brand that sold toilet paper from recycled materials. Through a targeted campaign that utilized micro-influencers with followings who showed interest in sustainability and eco-friendly initiatives, we were able to track direct sales that resulted from partnership posts.
When it comes to budget, we have to be realistic. These days almost any influencer worth their salt is charging or expecting something in return for sharing content so a budget should always be set aside for influencer payments. Pricing can vary greatly and there is no set science to knowing if a specific partnership will work, but we advise clients to be flexible with budget and understand that part of influencer marketing is trial and error. With so many algorithms and other factors at play on social media, it can be difficult to pinpoint when is exactly the best time, message, etc. to post for an influencer.
The positive side to the chaos is everything is negotiable. In a good partnership, the influencer will want your team to see results so you want to work with them again and again. Select partners who will allow you to tweak messaging or change the timing of posts to improve results and get confirmation that they will do this in writing – but also give them the freedom to make creative decisions they know their audience will respond to best.
Although it may seem like the Wild Wild West when it comes to digital influencers right now, in some ways it’s not all that different from a traditional public relations and marketing approach. Starting with the end goal in mind and developing a strategy around that is the first step to establishing a mutually beneficial relationship that earns you results.
RPR turns six this month.
I started to write an all too sappy and sentimental post thanking six people for six years in business. The thing is, though, I couldn’t narrow it down to six. Six years ago we didn’t exist and now we’ve worked with major brands like McDonald’s, Ford Motor
Company, Google, Bank of America, Orangetheory Fitness, O’Charley’s, Madame Tussauds and more. I clearly couldn’t have done that on my own, and there are just too many people who have graciously helped me along the way to name everyone in one blog post.
Instead, I took a late-night trip down memory lane (aka our company social media accounts and internal employee-only Facebook page) to narrow down some of my favorite moments over the last six years.
1.) I’m including this as proof that yes, at one time, men actually worked at RPR. Well, okay, one man. I’m not sure what happened (maybe it was the lavender wall in our lobby?), but let’s just say I certainly get my fill of girl talk these days with an all-female team. Jason, we miss you!!! All other male PR professionals, please feel free to apply.
2.) When I started this business, all I needed was a laptop and a good Internet connection. As the team grew, we started looking for office space and eventually found a spot to call home in Midtown. While signing the lease was a huge leap of faith (we’re locked in for at least five years?!), it was also one of the most exciting moments. During the build-out, we were stopping by every 2-3 days – ok, every day – until it was finished. Katie even risked traveling on a treacherous snow day to be here on furniture move-in day.
3.) When you move into your brand-new office space right before Cinco De Mayo, you obviously have a big party. And when you have a big party, you obviously have to rent a donkey and bring him into the new office to film the invitation. This basically describes the past decade of my and Katie’s relationship. I’ve always said I don’t want to go up against Katie in anything because she’s the grittiest person I know. We have these kooky moments of inspiration and by golly, she figures out how to make it work. Even if that means coaxing a 200-pound animal into our building’s elevator…
While the landlord didn’t love the party or the live farm animal in our office, it made for a great blog entry.
4.) Hannah Paramore was my first client and this is documentation of my disbelief that someone was actually paying me real, actual money to do PR on my own, without the name or backing of my previous agency. She believed in me when she had no business doing so because, goodness, there was so much that naïve but eager 29-year-old didn’t know. I thought I was just going to freelance until I “figured things out and got a real job” but Hannah was busy hooking me up with a banker, an accountant, potential clients and everything else I needed to start a business. She’s still a client today but also so much more. I know I can count on her to celebrate the highs of the business and to help me work though the lows. Even though Hannah is the client, I’ve learned so much from her and I’m forever grateful.
And while I don’t make my husband take pictures of me with every check that comes in the mail these days, six years later I do still feel immense gratitude for our clients with every single bank deposit.
5.) Nashville City Club. 2017. RPR Holiday Party. Some wine was consumed.
Hey, do y’all want to get tattoos?
No caption necessary.
6.) Clearly, we like to do backbends around here. When your team says they are too busy to go take a yoga class, you bring the yoga class to the office with a private yoga instructor. There’s something about synchronized breathing that brings you closer as a team… or it might just be a collective love for the lavender-scented towels you get at the end.
Imagine this: You get an unexpected call in the middle of the day. Your company’s network has experienced a data breach and information for thousands of customers is now susceptible to hackers. You don’t know all the details yet, but the local news has gotten wind of the story and they are planning to run a story in the evening newscast. To make matters worse, chatter from worried customers has already started on social media after an employee overheard the news.
What do you do? Are you prepared to field questions from media, your employees and your other stakeholders? How will this affect your company’s reputation and how will you take action to right the situation?
Of all the exciting aspects of public relations and marketing, crisis management can be one of the most challenging and most uncomfortable areas to address – but it is also one of the most critical.
Big or small, for profit or not-for-profit, all organizations should have a well-rounded crisis management plan in place. A good crisis plan will serve as a guidebook to navigating all matter of complex situations that could affect the profitability, integrity or reputation of your organization. This includes serious crises such as workplace crime or violence to less dire situations such as your computer networks crashing.
Our fifth birthday is this year. That just blows my mind.
To some companies, that’s a blip in their history. To us, it’s a huge milestone. The reality is I didn’t plan on being a business owner. I didn’t have a business plan. I didn’t want employees. I definitely didn’t want the liability of a long-term office lease. I’d be just fine working as a freelancer, thank you very much. Or so I told myself. But the Nashville market was hot, I had to grow to avoid turning down projects and here we are almost five years later. When I first started out, numerous people told me that if I could make it five years, apparently my chances for long-term success increased exponentially.
It’s been full of extreme highs, the lowest of lows and everything in between. I’ve cried (a lot), I’ve laughed (even more) and I’ve learned more about myself these past five years than in the previous 29. And while it is difficult to pinpoint just a handful of lessons – because, quite frankly, I make a lot of mistakes and each one provides learning opportunities and a greater self-awareness – here are the ones I’d offer to aspiring business owners.
Surround yourself with people who get it. Other business owners have been critical to my sanity. Not everyone knows the pressure of making payroll or trying to figure out the right thing to do versus the affordable thing to do when it comes to employee health care benefits or how the heck to try and take a maternity leave and still run a company. Those are the people you want in your corner. There are organizations for business of all levels. I participated in the EO Catalyst program early on and still meet monthly with some of the other business owners from that group. Depending on the day, the people in my forum are my sounding board, my cheerleaders, my reality check or sometimes my happy hour buddies. It’s been inspiring to watch their businesses take off. As my company has grown, I’ve also joined the Women Presidents Organization, where I’m able to tap into the advice and expertise of a group of truly amazing women running multi-million dollar businesses. Find a group and plug in. You will inevitably hit tough times as a business owner and I firmly believe the support of others who have been there can be the difference between fighting through and coming out stronger on the other side or giving up.
Hire people smarter than yourself. Being a lifelong learner is critical to running a successful business. I want to be surrounded by people with skills and natural abilities that I might not have. If I’m the smartest person in the room, who will I learn from? Set your ego aside, figure out your weak spots and hire people who can make you better. This is especially important in my business. I’m not selling widgets. I’m selling our time and expertise. I personally only have a finite amount of hours, so I need really smart people to a.) do the things I am not good at so I can spend my time working on the things I can do well and b.) handle projects and clients that I am not involved in, increasing our capacity for additional revenue.
Reward success. The job’s not done once you hire those smart people. You need to make them stay. The top talent could walk out today and get other jobs, especially in a strong market. Pay people what they are worth. Teach your team that compensation is directly tied to the value they bring to the company and then reward them for growth. In my experience, being generous with profit sharing has only caused our revenue to grow.
Know your ideal client – and the value that you bring. Early on, I thought we had to be the perfect fit for every client and we had to win every single account. We had to recognize that not every client is going to be a great fit. Until we learned that, we weren’t able to do really great work for those who were a good fit. By working with just anyone who knocks on the door and not paying attention to red flags, you aren’t setting yourself up for success.
Sometimes you just need a donkey. Or puppies. Or tacos. Or whatever it is that lightens the mood and reminds you not to take yourself too seriously. Life gets busy, work gets stressful and even the most functional team can wear on each other’s nerves. Have fun. While the resulting visit from the landlord was slightly awkward, one of my all-time favorite days was sneaking a live donkey into our office to film an invitation to our Cinco de Mayo party.
It’s funny – while I never wanted to be a business owner (let someone else sign the rent checks!), after five years I can’t imagine having it any other way. I’m most grateful to my family and friends for their constant grace as I try to balance mom life and work life, my team for showing up every day and making me look awesome (even after that one time I was in Hawaii and forgot to run payroll) and my tribe of other business owners for their support.
Oh, and we’re obviously going to have a party. Stay tuned.
As a public relations agency with a focus on cause marketing, we help our clients make an impact in their communities. But why did we come to work each day? What was our core purpose?
We spent hours trying to figure it out as a team until one night it just clicked. We want to work for something more than just a paycheck. We want to help others go out and do good in the world.
That’s how this initiative was born.
Through Be The Good, our agency provides travel grants to individuals who want to do volunteer or mission work at home and abroad.
We believe that mission work changes you. It makes you a better team member, spouse, parent, friend. As an agency, this allows us to work for something bigger than ourselves. As individual people, it’s a way for us to pay it forward.
Will you join us?
“What would you do if money was no object?”
In January, our team sat down to discuss our core purpose during our first planning session of the year. The goal was to answer one question: Why do we come to work each day? Yes, we’re good at PR and we enjoy helping our clients grow their businesses and their brands, but there had to be a bigger purpose. We just couldn’t put our finger on it.
We came up with this core purpose statement:
Challenge ourselves through work we love, with people we love, to make a lasting impact.
But what does that mean? What can we as an agency do to make that lasting impact? We’re just a few women working in a small office in Nashville. How can we work toward something larger than ourselves to truly make a lasting impact – in Tennessee and beyond?
Fast-forward a few weeks.
Raven was peppering me with questions on our way to a client meeting in St. Louis. Among them was one of the most simple, yet thought-invoking questions I had ever been asked.
“What sort of business would you start if money was no object?” she asked.
Without hesitation, I shared that it wouldn’t necessarily be a business. It would be a nonprofit that provides travel scholarships or financial assistance to send people into the field to do mission or volunteer work. We delved into what that would look like and suddenly had a near-complete hypothetical business plan.
Within a matter of minutes we realized that we – RPR – could do that.
In ten minutes we had the plan mapped out: the selection process, candidate criteria… even a map of the world for our office that we would add a pin to each time we sent another traveler into the world to do good.
There was a lot of squealing, and in our excitement, we missed the exit for our hotel. Twice.
This is an area that I am deeply passionate about. Mission work changes you. It makes you a better business owner, team member, spouse, parent and friend. And with this program, it goes even further. It impacts the lives of those we’re sponsoring, and it impacts the lives that they are touching.
RPR will provide travel grants to individuals who wish to do volunteer or mission work abroad. The amount of money allocated to this will be tied to agency revenue. This allows us to work for something bigger than ourselves.
It’s actually quite simple. We do fantastic work for our clients, make money and send people to do more fantastic work around the world. Now instead of making money for “the man” (or woman, in our case) our team is working hard to help mankind.
You know that action-oriented core value of ours? Well, since dreaming up this program in November we’ve been able to provide grants for four individuals to do mission or volunteer work in various parts of the globe, including Africa, Ireland and Costa Rica – all during the unofficial pilot phase.
Stay tuned for the official launch in 2016. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for details on how to apply and where our volunteers are going.
We’ve only just begun.