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After the news broke that 50 high-profile individuals allegedly took part in a long-running scheme of bribery and cheating to get their children into prestigious universities, those ensnarled in the legal scandal also face an uphill PR battle. Our President and Founder Lauren Reed sat down with Liza Graves, CEO and writer for StyleBlueprint, to talk about what is likely going on behind the scenes for those involved, including television stars Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, and how they can begin to repair their public image.
What’s the lesson learned for all of us here (beyond the obvious of not lying and being truthful!)?
Lauren Reed: You should never do anything that you would regret seeing in the headlines! Deeds done in the dark will almost always become illuminated at some point. Truth has a way of prevailing, and everything is so much more intense when you are in the public eye. This whole situation also has me really thinking about personal core values. What is the legacy we want to leave? Do our actions reflect this?
What are they likely being advised to do?
LR: Because it is an ongoing matter, legal is likely insisting they remain silent. If and when they release something, it will be a brief and strategic statement. For now, though, they are staying off social media and not speaking with media even if they truly desire to respond to their fans. In my experience, that is always the most difficult PR aspect of a crisis situation. Even if they want to be transparent and show remorse publicly, they simply can’t say much yet.
During Black History Month (February), our team worked with McDonald’s of Kentuckiana to recognize outstanding students in the area. What our client got in return from this scholarship program was much more than media coverage and community goodwill. Through the program and the commitment of the owner operators of McDonald’s in the Kentuckiana area, we saw firsthand how giving back can change lives and make a difference.
For 15 years, McDonald’s Black History Makers of Tomorrow program has celebrated diversity and young leaders in Kentuckiana by awarding scholarships to local high school seniors who demonstrate exceptional leadership, character, scholarship and community service. This year, McDonald’s Restaurants of Kentuckiana awarded the largest group yet by giving a dozen students scholarships totaling $18,000. RPR was given the opportunity to coordinate a ceremony that honored the recipients and raised awareness for McDonald’s contributions within the local community.
The 2019 event was the most well attended by the organization and its employees to date and featured Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, Reverend and President of Simmons College Kevin Cosby and Dawne Gee, news anchor with WAVE 3. Twelve young people from high schools throughout Kentucky and Southern Indiana were awarded scholarships. Each of their entries was so outstanding that winners were separated by just tenths of a point.
From creating the scholarship entry and judging process to recruiting community leaders to speak and finalizing all event logistics and details, it became evident to our team that the future is bright for future generations in Kentuckiana.
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.
Prepare to see more baby pics and engagement announcements on your Facebook News Feed — the social media giant is changing the way it determines what users see first when they log in.
Mark Zuckerberg recently announced a new algorithm that will prioritize updates from family and friends over posts from businesses, brands and media companies. This is great for keeping up with your great aunt’s trip to Belize, but what does it mean for your company’s social media strategy?
(Wait, you do have a social media strategy, right? If not, let’s fix that first.)
Whether you are a Fortune 500 company or a small business, the new algorithm is sure to impact how you reach and interact with consumers. Here’s what to know and how to prepare for the shift to keep audiences engaged:
Micro-influencers are even more important.
As social media as a whole has changed over the past few years, our strategies have adapted to include partnerships with micro-influencers — individuals with between 1,000 to 10,000 followers who aren’t quite celebrities or media contributors but create quality content and have significant pull with their niche audiences. Their followers trust their opinions and have a genuine investment in what they are up to day-to-day. Because many of these micro-influencers are not considered media or individual brands, they will be key to reaching consumers in coming months. The way we select and work with them may change, but they will be essential to a successful social media campaign nonetheless.
Your ad budget may need an increase.
Facebook says the new algorithm will not affect paid posts on the platform , but it remains to be seen how the changes will affect ad pricing and the bidding process. Posts from brands will not be completely shut out, but they will be ranked as lower priority — unless you’re prepared to pay — and we can infer that fewer chances to reach consumers likely means a higher price tag. Being strategic with your social media ad dollars is crucial. Run multiple campaigns, track results, and if at all possible, hire an expert to manage the process for you.
A traditional PR strategy is still necessary.
A well-rounded campaign should incorporate social media, not rely on it completely. If you already have a traditional PR strategy in place, it will lessen the blow from the Facebook drawbacks. Take the first few weeks of 2018 to get your PR plan in order, including a media and social media strategy, crisis communications plan, community partnerships and involvement in any local or industry events. Ensure you are reaching your audiences in multiple ways and that messaging is consistent across all platforms.
Our Vice President Tori Ross recently joined PR pros from around the country in sharing their best trade secrets with Fit Small Business. What stellar advice did she have to help brands extend their reach to their target audiences? Understand how social media influencers work before dishing out big bucks to the first person with a large following. Tori says:
When it comes to working with influencers such as bloggers, celebrities and other social media personalities to promote your small business, sometimes less is more in terms of followers. You can easily spend hundreds or thousands of dollars for a single sponsored post from big-name influencers. However, studies show that as an influencer’s number of followers increases, their audience engagement decreases.
Individuals with between 1,000 to 10,000 followers – known as micro-influencers – actually hold more power in today’s digital world. These micro-influencers tend to have a more engaged, loyal following. They are more likely to be seen as a trustworthy source of information and recommendations than influencers with hundreds of thousands or millions of followers. They are also usually more open to sharing posts in exchange for goods and services rather than monetary exchanges so they can be a cost-effective in that way as well.