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Building brand awareness through content creation and community engagement.

June 4th, 2015

Be Human and Change Your Social Business

Abbracci Gratis

Via Flickr user iz4aks https://www.flickr.com/photos/iz4aks/15209190168/

Be human, have an opinion and search smart all sound like dating tips. Gotta have a game plan, right?

I know back in my dating years I was always honest whether my date liked it or not. Probably the reason why I didn’t date that much. Fast-forward to today; I’m a happily married husband with two beautiful kids, working at Voce Communications and those tips still apply to my job. When I work with clients on their content and communication strategy, I remind myself the reasons why I interact with brands. It’s not about whether they have a good offer but instead about the ability to develop a real relationship with them. Will they respond to my tweet? And if they respond, is it a robotic response or one that actually has some effort put into it? Read the below three guiding principles that I believe can change the way you run your social business:

  1. Be human – People follow brands because they are looking for that one to one engagement with a brand that they might not get otherwise. The content you publish and engage with needs to have a personality and human touch.  I always recommend that brand publishers, through social media profiles, interact with prospects and customers in a conversational way. Imagine you are talking with them at Starbucks. Are you going to jam a product offering in their face right in the beginning or get to know them a bit first? The best way to be – or at least act – human is understand your audience and what motivates them within the framework of the customer buying cycle. Once you have a good understanding, work to spark an emotional connection. One post that I do at least once a week is ask my followers how can I help. It’s not about selling my product but about how I can introduce them to a contact, help them brainstorm on a problem, or give them a call just to talk. You’d be surprised at the those that want to engage with you and see the real human behind the corporate social account.
  2. Have an opinion – The best way people can get to know you is by understanding how you make decisions and what your opinions are about certain trending topics. Take a risk and write a blog post on LinkedIn or your own corporate blog and post a link to it via your social channels. Or the next time you RT a status update add your opinion to it. People value the latest news but even more if they can make an emotional connection with that person that is giving them the news. That starts with an opinion which yields in time will yield trust.
  3. Search smart – 25 years ago consumer opinions weren’t public and searchable because the web hadn’t gone social yet. You no idea what was trending in public conversation and relied upon surveys that were limited in actionable results and timeliness. Now with everyone posting their opinions, activities and immediate reviews publicly, brands have a better understanding of their audience in real-time by searching thru the public social data. If you are a social media manager you have two options: 1) Use Twitter search  2) Use a 3rd party vendor (I use Union Metrics (aka Tweetreach), SimplyMeasured or LittleBird depending on the project) to comb thru the data and find actionable insights. Like with any tool you use, it will take time to analyze and produce recommendations. If you have the budget, hire an analyst at your company that not only knows how to sift thru data but understands your audience and can turn that data into something actionable.

How are you being human in your social strategy?

  • Are you engaging with your community in real-time?
  • Have you approached your thought leadership in a new way?
  • What thought leadership content sparked a real conversation?
  • Have you a success story of hiring a business analyst?

Comment below or tweet @djksar #behuman.

About the Author
Randy Ksar works on the social media team at Voce. You can follow him at @djksar on Twitter.

Filed in Publishing Programs

June 4th, 2015

Social Media Lessons from Baseball

One of the great loves and passions of my life is baseball. I played when I was young, and I still follow the game with an evangelical zeal. I’m so into baseball that it invades my everyday thinking; in many situations, I’ll use baseball terminology to describe a situation, or draw a baseball analogy to explain my perspective.

It struck me recently that my personal passion of baseball can often apply itself to professional passion – social media marketing. There are parallels that can be drawn – elements necessary for success in baseball are also needed to win in social media marketing. Without further ado, here are the reasons why social media is a lot like baseball.

Vintage Baseball

Image via https://flic.kr/p/xZRdA

 

[1] Matchups are critical. In baseball, managers are always trying to play the players with the most favorable matchups. Which hitters have had the most success against the other team’s pitcher? Is it time to do a lefty-righty switch and bring in a left-handed reliever to face a left-handed batter? Should he bring in a defensive replacement in the late innings of a close game? In so many ways, creating favorable matchups can be the difference between winning and losing.

In social media marketing, matchups are just as critical. Which of your audiences will respond most favorably to which kinds of content? What networks or platforms are most appropriate for what types of content? If you’re simply throwing content onto your Facebook page in hopes of reaching your 10,000 followers without thinking about whether Facebook is the right platform for the content you have; if you haven’t thought about which platforms your audiences tend to favor; if you haven’t considered whether your timing is right for a particular message… you’re probably not creating the right matchups for success. Social media isn’t just about having a presence or creating content; winning takes strategic thought about your audience, your content, and your platform.

[2] You don’t have to hit home runs in order to win the game. While fans may appreciate the spectacle of a big home run, good baseball managers know that you don’t always need a home run to win. String together three or four singles in a row, and you’ve got a run. Get 12 or 15 hits or walks in a game, you’re probably going to win even if none of those hits was a homer. Playing small ball is just as effective a way to win a game.

In social media, we all appreciate the spectacle of a viral home run. Many brands live in endless pursuit of that viral smash over the wall – a video that scores millions of views, a tweet that gets retweeted hundreds of times, a Facebook post that draws thousands of likes and shares — that gets everyone’s attention and wins in dramatic fashion.

But just like in baseball, you don’t need that home run to win. Focus on the fundamentals – bunts and singles – and you’re just as likely to win in the long run. Develop good content that’s relevant and timely for your audience, and be smart about how you target them on various platforms. You may not get that viral hit, but if you just focus on executing your basic communications well and doing that over and over, you’ll have the equivalent of four or five singles in a row; you’ll be scoring with your audience and making yourself a winner.

[3] If you try too hard to hit a home run, you’re likely going to whiff. Remember when you were in Little League and you’d swing for the fences? Didn’t it seem that the harder you swung, the more likely you were to miss the ball? Professional hitters still can suffer from the same thing; most of today’s power hitters will tell you that they go to the plate just looking to make good contact, not trying to hit a home run.

The same principle applies in social media marketing. It’s possible to try too hard; trying to go viral, trying to be too cute or clever, trying to draw even the most tenuous connections between your brand and some popular meme or cultural touchpoint can lead to poor efforts that don’t provide any value to your audience and get easily ignored or dismissed. Try too hard to hit a home run, and you can easily swing and miss. Just go into your content development looking to make solid contact with your audience, and you’ll do just fine.

[4] Defense wins games. In baseball, a team that fields well and plays good defense can save itself several runs by preventing the other team from scoring. The really good defensive teams win several more games every year than they otherwise would have because they are able to keep opponents from scoring on them.

In social media, too, defense can help you win by preventing opponents from scoring against you. Do you have a plan as to how you would handle an online attack on your product or brand reputation? Do you regularly monitor social networks for mentions of your brand, products, and services? Do you address customer issues quickly and respectfully online, before discontent can spread and negative stories can spread about your company or organization? Remember, your presence online isn’t just about pumping out your own content, it’s got to include knowing what others are saying about you and being able to defend against attacks.

[5] One of the most crucial skills is knowing how to hit a curveball. Lots of guys can hit a fastball. Even when a pitcher’s throwing gas and approaching 100 miles per hour on the radar gun, hitting a fastball’s still just a matter of timing. But when a pitcher starts throwing stuff that moves on the hitter… that’s when the real skill comes in. When the ball doesn’t come straight at you, but takes unexpected darts and breaks on its way to the plate, the best hitters can react well and still hit, while less talented hitters are fooled and strike out.

In social media, the one thing that’s certain is that nothing will go exactly planned or expected. Audiences react in unexpected ways to one of your campaigns. An unanticipated external news event happens just as you’re starting a Twitter chat. A angry customer will reach out with a customer service issue in response to the video you just posted. The social media world is full of curveballs like that – things that aren’t as straightforward or simple as you’d like. How do you respond when things aren’t going as planned? How do you react when your surefire idea accidentally offends someone? What if one of the major platforms changes its terms of engagement or one of its algorithms? Can you react quickly to the curveball and still make contact? You’d better be able to; hitting the curveball can mean the difference between major league stardom and minor league anonymity.

NL-only bonus: Pitchers have to hit. In the National League, unlike the American League, the pitcher bats. While it’s debatable how many of those pitchers can actually hit, there’s still an element of accountability in the fact that the guy throwing to your hitters has to take his turn in the batter’s box.

In social media, so many of us have experienced it: An agency has a big name “social media influencer” or thought leader who comes in leading the pitch to a brand and wowing them with his or her notoriety and knowledge. But when the contract’s won, suddenly the big thinker who pitched you is nowhere to be seen, and the execution of your program is left to some under-experienced 22 year old whose experience is limited to posting to their own Instagram feed. No need to name names, but we all know agencies that do this.

This of course is unfair to the client. There needs to be accountability; the guys (or gals) who pitch should be there taking their turn in the batter’s box for you. One major question you should be asking any agency in the social sphere: are the people in the room pitching your business the same ones who will be responsible for executing your program?

Like baseball, social media marketing is a long season marked by twists, turns, unexpected heroes and plenty of passion. Remembering your fundamentals is a good way to succeed in either sport.

Play ball.

About the Author
Christopher Barger is Senior Vice President of Global Digital at Voce/Porter Novelli. You can follow him on Twitter @cbarger.

Filed in Social Networks

June 3rd, 2015

Pew: Most Millennials Get Their News From Facebook

pew millennials politicsWhat Is It: The Pew Research Center is out with a new study showing 61% of Millennials – broadly defined as anyone born after 1980 – get political news primarily from Facebook, almost exactly the opposite proportion of those in the Baby Boom generation, for whom local TV news still dominates.

What Does This Mean: There are all sorts of interesting data finds in the study that are well worth reading, particularly those that deal with how trusting members of the various demographic groups are of media. But the question that should cause the most discussion isn’t raised until the end and it’s roughly this: What does it mean that so many people are getting their news through social media?

The answer is incredibly complex and requires consideration of a multitude of factors, but at the core it comes down to how some social networks, particularly Facebook, are filtering the user experience in ways that sometimes can’t be controlled and are invisible to the audience, who often aren’t even aware there are filters being applied which a vast swath of people aren’t.

Facebook recently released a study where they essentially washed their hands of responsibility and said people themselves for whatever diversity they were or weren’t seeing in their Newsfeeds. While that may be true (to an extent…Facebook is still ultimately the one that governs the algorithm that creates the Newsfeed), the results of getting your news from a system that’s almost uniquely designed to reinforce your own point of view and limit outside opinions is felt well outside of Facebook and informs people’s behavior on a local, state and federal level.

Facebook plays a unique role in today’s information ecosystem, as this new study shows starkly. But the impact of that role is, I’d wager, only beginning to be felt.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Media, Social Networks

June 2nd, 2015

Voce Student Weekly Reading 6/2: Where Millenials Get Their Political News, Facebook GIF Support & More

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Social Media

Rejoice: Facebook Gets GIF Support. Here’s Everything You Need to Know.

The first thing to keep in mind is that the feature works with GIF links, not GIF uploads. At least for now, attempting to upload your favorite GIF will not result in a usable, playable GIF on Facebook.

Voce Insight – Facebook’s decision to provide GIF support has been long coming. Since GIFs are currently only available for personal pages, there is not a lot of impact on brands… yet. It may only be a matter of time before GIFs come to brand pages, allowing brands to benefit from these popular forms of content.

Facebook Now the Number One Source for Political News – Study

“A new study by Pew Research has found that Facebook is ‘far and away the most common source for news about government and politics’ among Millennials in the U.S. The study compared the top media news sources for Millennials (aged 18-33), Generation X’ers (34-49) and Baby Boomers (50-68), finding that Facebook leads among both Millennials and Gen X, in terms of being a political and government news source.”

Voce Insight – When it comes to where younger Americans get news about politics and government, social media look to be the local TV of the Millennial generation.

Public Relations

The Etiquette of Following Up a Pitch

“Wait two or three days before contacting the journalist, as they are most likely working on other stories. Allowing a few days will provide the journalist time to review their emails, and gives you an opportunity to perfect your follow-up, which is another pitch in itself. Try contacting the journalist by phone first as it is more personable, and then contact by email if you cannot get in touch over the phone.”

Voce Insight- There’s nothing worse for a journalist than a pushy PR person. Make sure you’re persistent without crossing the line into annoying. Follow up after a few days, but if you still receive no response, count it as a loss and move on.

Report: Journalists are the largest, most active verified group on Twitter

“When taking a closer look at who is most active on Twitter, things are suddenly making more sense again — It makes sense that media properties (blogs, big news organisations, etc) and journalists tweet a lot about content they’ve created and breaking news.”

Voce Insight – Journalists are the most active verified users on Twitter, which means PR professionals should be there as well. Monitoring Twitter streams from journalists in your field and familiarizing yourself with what they are interested in will make outreach much easier.

Career

10 Hardest Interview Questions

“It would be to your advantage to go to your interview prepared. The more you get prepared, the more you can succeed and get an offer. Remember you may have only one chance to show them that you are the right candidate for your dream job. Use the below questions and tips in order to prepare for the big day!”

Voce Insight – The good thing about the unstructured interview model that currently dominates most companies’ hiring processes is that a lot of the same questions will be asked. Preparing beforehand is a great idea, perhaps even by writing out your answers. This will give you the confidence to answer the unanticipated questions when they arrive.

3 Ways to Turn Your Internship Into a Full-Time Job

“The best interns are bright, naturally curious, and quickly able to build on the skills we teach them, ultimately delivering real value for our company. In short, they’re exactly the type of entry-level people we want to hire.”

Voce Insight – Consider an internship like a trial period for your future job. If you treat every day like an interview, you’re more likely to get hired full-time. However, if after a week you start getting complacent and lazy at your internship, don’t expect to get hired on to full-time at the end of the internship period. Be your best every single day in order to prove you have what it takes to be a valuable employee.

Filed in Career Development, Weekly Reading

June 2nd, 2015

SCOTUS’s Ruling: Good for Free Speech, Bad for Victims of Abuse

Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States issued a decision that outwardly seems to affect individual users of Facebook and other social networks, but may well impact brands as well. In a 7-2 ruling, the Court held that rants and even threats issued on Facebook may not be prosecuted solely on the basis of how they were perceived. In short, law enforcement has to take into account the intent of the person posting the messages rather than just how someone perceives the messages.

image via wikimedia

Image via Wikimedia: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d8/USSupremeCourtWestFacade.JPG

The test, the court said, is what the sender means, not whether the recipient considers it a threat. Not only has this issue made its way to the Supreme Court but it’s been hotly debated in the last year or so as more and more people speak out about the threats they’ve received, usually because of their race, gender or sexuality. “Doxxing” along with threatening Tweets, Facebook posts and more were among the favorite tactics by anyone who dared speak out against the “Gamergate” crowd, though that’s just one example of what some people deal with on a daily basis.

There were immediate reactions to the decision. The ACLU and other free speech advocates hailed the decision, saying that deciding otherwise could have had a chill effect on free expression, including music and art. Advocates had also argued that “a statute that limits speech “without regard to the speaker’s intended meaning” runs the risk of punishing protected First Amendment expression simply because it is “crudely or zealously expressed.”

Domestic violence advocates, on the other hand, decried the ruling, saying that the court had, in effect, licensed abusers to use social media to terrorize their victims while claiming innocent intent. “Threats cause devastating harm to victims, including fear, anxiety, loss of sleep, and disruption, regardless of whether the abuser intended to threaten or only intended to vent or to make a joke,” said Kim Gandy, president of the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

It’s a slippery slope, trying to prosecute based on how words are perceived – such prosecutions open the door to potential abuse by those in power, whether in government or law enforcement. On the other hand, it seems inconceivable that someone threatening to kill someone else on Facebook could be considered legal and protected speech. The Court also did not define or narrow what the standard of deciding intent would be, so this issue could well be revisited in future cases.

How does this impact businesses and brands? Ultimately, this decision is a victory for advocates of free expression online – which unfortunately also means a victory for trolls and agitators online. Most brands have faced “haters” online or consumers who are decidedly not fans of their brand. This case implies that all online conversations are protected speech, and even the most vile or seemingly threatening posts can only be prosecuted if law enforcement determines that the commenter actually intended harm.

So if a brand finds itself confronted on its Facebook page or on Twitter by an agitator who seems threatening or to be suggesting a physical threat to employees, a call to law enforcement alerting them to the perceived threat may not instigate any action by authorities, unless the authorities decide the person actually meant to carry out their threat and wasn’t just spouting online because they could.

(Again, how the authorities are supposed to make that determination, the Court left unspecified.)

Brands active on social networks or who frequently encounter trolls online should be aware of this decision as they develop their response strategies. It’s for situations like this that we work with clients to develop strong comment policies, so everyone knows where the lines of appropriate behavior are and threatening or similar comments can be dealt with appropriately.

About the Author
Christopher Barger is Senior Vice President of Global Digital at Voce/Porter Novelli. You can follow him on Twitter @cbarger.

Filed in Publishing Programs

June 1st, 2015

Facebook Extends GIF Support

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What Is It? Facebook has announced that it’s expanding support for GIFs. Previously available only by using links to Giphy-hosted images, now you can link to any page with a GIF and have it displayed on your Facebook profile. But there are two important caveats: 1) This does not mean you can upload GIFs and have then play, you have to link to them and 2) This feature has not been added to Pages yet, just personal profiles.

What Does It Mean? Big picture it means that Facebook finally realized this is an ongoing trend they’re increasingly being left out of, and that if they want to keep competing with Tumblr and other networks they better figure out how to make GIFs work, despite reported reservations that Facebook thinks they will make the Newsfeed messy. For brand publishers it doesn’t mean a lot right now other than that they should plan for this to be rolled out at some point, likely within the next year. But if you haven’t already gotten on the GIF bandwagon – there are plenty of platforms that support them today – then you may already be three steps behind.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Social Networks

May 27th, 2015

Voce Student Weekly 5/27: How to Start a Conversation with New LinkedIn Connections, Increase Engagement on Instagram & More

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Social Media

How to Unleash The Potential of Social Marketing Campaigns

“It’s a fact that social media marketing campaigns are 60% more effective than traditional advertising. That’s why organizations that want to make the most of what social has to offer are launching them in droves. But when should you launch your first campaign? What kind of campaign should it be? And what will its results mean for your business?”

Voce Insight – Every opportunity you have to syndicate your content and increase your visibility is valuable. Your social media networks are just new channels for your brand’s voice and content. This is important because it simultaneously makes you easier and more accessible for new customers, and makes you more familiar and recognizable for existing customers.

7 Ways to Build an Engaged Instagram Following

“Hashtags are a great way for brands to stand out on Instagram and find people who are not yet following their account. Hashtags help organize and categorize images and video content, which aids in the process of content discovery. Just make sure to use Instagram hashtags that are relevant to the audience you’re attempting to reach.”

Voce Insight – The secret sauce behind Instagram’s engagement levels is user-generated content. The best brands deliver an ongoing stream of expressive, emotional and inspirational photos – and they often come straight from their fans.

Public Relations

Five Ways The Internet Hasn’t Changed Public Relations

“In the Digital Age, text only press releases and pitches can still score if the copy is very well-written and relevant. Investors reading the latest financials, or employees learning about internal company news, need more steak than sizzle. However, in a crowded marketplace with less journalists and more publicists, often good video, photos and graphics enhance the pitch.”

Voce Insight – The Internet has given just about everyone the ability to share their opinion just about everything with the entire world in a matter of seconds. The ability to reach thousands or millions of people in virtually no time gave PR specialists a powerful tool. However, the tool is only as good as the person wielding it. Strong, well-presented content is still the biggest key to PR success.

Crisis PR Tips: 3 Ways to Spot Ticking Time Bombs

“What if you don’t have the budget to commit to a turnkey monitoring solution? Revisit the recently improved Google Alerts, which now features a cleaner look, a “flag as irrelevant” link to refine results, and social media sharing buttons.”

Voce Insight – Stopping a crisis before it starts is key in PR. Make sure to monitor the brands you represent in order to watch for signs of trouble. Flagging these for your senior leadership is a great way to prove that you are looking out for the best interests of the brand/ company you are working with. Also, you could consider thinking up responses to worst-case scenarios before they ever happen, so you’ll be more prepared if they ever do.

Career

Why Your PR Career May Start With a Post-Grad Internship

“Most of all, don’t feel bad if this is what you need to do. The job title doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are moving toward your next goal, which is to find a job that is satisfying.”

Voce Insight – If you haven’t been able to get an entry-level job in PR right after graduation, don’t despair. An internship isn’t a failure – it’s simply a stepping stone to building your career path. Take advantage of every internship you can get, and then after a year, apply to those entry-level jobs.

How To Start A Conversation With A New LinkedIn Connection

“When someone reaches out to YOU and asks to connect, make sure you message them immediately after accepting their request with a message that says something like, “Thanks for connecting. It’s great to meet you.”

Voce Insight – LinkedIn is a great tool for college students and recent grads to connect with people in the PR and social media industry. Don’t let a connection on LinkedIn lose its potential. Reach out to that person in a friendly manner, so you’re more than just a random person that “connected” with them. By creating a real, personal connection, you’re more likely to be top of mind when that person has an entry-level or internship position at their company. Every connection counts!

Filed in Career Development, Weekly Reading

May 19th, 2015

Voce Student Weekly Reading 5/19: Ways to Bolster PR Outreach, New Facebook Features & More

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Social Media

Exclusive: 7 Facebook Events Features Coming This Year and Beyond

“Although the team hasn’t begun experimenting with solutions yet –- and Facebook says a solution wouldn’t arrive until next year, at earliest -– Koolwal suggested one scenario whereby users would still be able to invite a friend by entering their email address. That friend would receive an email enabling them to RSVP without requiring them to actually create a Facebook account.”

Voce Insight – Facebook continues to tweak their offerings in order to provide users with the best possible experience. By providing users with more ways to share their events with friends (and not only Facebook friends), they’re able to spread Facebook’s reach farther than just their users.

Facebook Begins Testing Instant Articles From News Publishers

“For publishers, the Facebook initiative represents the latest in a series of existential balancing acts. The social network, which has more than 1.4 billion active users worldwide, captures more attention of mobile users — and prompts more visits to news sites — than virtually any other service.”

Voce Insight – For traditional PR professionals and social media managers alike, this is an important story. A growing percentage of adults get their news from Facebook, and partnering with traditional publishers like the New York Times solidifies this trend. Recognizing that Facebook is a content distributor for serious information in addition to entertainment is relevant when working with clients.

Public Relations

9 ways to bolster public relations and media outreach

“Use Twitter frequently,” says David Erickson, vice president, Online Marketing, Karwoski & Courage, a PR agency. “Reporters are heavy users of Twitter. It has become a primary way for them to develop expert sources,” he explains. “Demonstrate your expertise on Twitter by sharing articles related to your industry and business that reporters who cover your industry would find compelling.”

Voce Insight – Quality over quantity, people. All of your PR efforts and tactics are meaningless without a compelling and relevant piece of content. You want to share truly newsworthy content for your target audience. Use your resources wisely. Services such as HARO and ProfNet are great to connect with reporters.

Making Time for Face Time With PR Clients

“In this world of emails, texts, webinars and FaceTime, it’s critical to carve out actual face time with clients. Of course, we speak with our clients by phone and have dedicated calls with them on a regular basis, but nothing replaces the interaction and discussions that happen when everyone is together in the same room.”

Voce Insight – In our industry, much of what we do day-in and day-out is done with the help of a laptop and Wi-Fi connection. It’s beneficial to just engage in conversation instead of sticking bullet by bullet to an agenda.

Career

3 Nuggets of Advice from a Graduating Intern

“As interns, we all have to do some grunt work. For me, this meant cleaning up a 3,000-contact media list. I spent weeks doing deep Google searches of journalists, bloggers, niche websites, and everything else in between, meticulously editing that Excel spreadsheet to ensure that it was up to date. I didn’t realize it at the time, but with every contact I searched I became more and more familiar with the types of reporters and bloggers The Agency works with, and the industries that our clients work within. It was tedious work, but it paid off – I proved that I could conquer that not-so-glamorous challenge, and in turn I was given greater responsibilities.”

Voce Insight – Take advantage of any of the tasks you’re offered at your internship. Some of the most valuable learning experiences stem from tasks that seem the most menial. Compiling media lists, and building briefing books may not be the most exciting assignments in the world, but you’ll learn extremely important details about journalists and contacts that you wouldn’t have learned otherwise.

Become an Effective Problem Solver: Learn to Listen Better

“The art of being a good listener can make you more likable and effective in the workplace. Too often people think that leadership and confidence are tied to directing conversations and taking command. Research on effective leaders shows the opposite is true. Great leaders are empathetic towards others and display finesse in harnessing others’ strengths.”

Voce Insight – If a conversation is always a means to an end, it should be to understand something, rather than win something. Coworkers with strong opinions can be difficult, or an asset if you learn to take their point of view and wholly consider everything they have to say. This will lead to better decisions in the end and fully harness the brainpower of your team.

Filed in Career Development, Weekly Reading

May 19th, 2015

Viral Sameness Waters Down the Media World

New on the PNConnect blog is a post about “viral sameness,” that phenomenon where you see dozens of media brands covering the same story – sometimes serious, sometimes funny, sometimes ridiculous – not because of the inherent newsworthiness of the story but because everyone else is and they don’t dare lose out on whatever traffic search and social might send their way.

If you follow many news sites on social media, you may have noticed a numbing trend over the past few years. Every site shares the same stories, often with identical angles. Time will cover the same story as Mashable, which is the same story Vox shared earlier, which originated on a Reddit thread. It’s been called “viral sameness,” and it has the effect of taking a piece of web ephemera and mainstreaming it.

It happens for a simple reason: When a story is spreading, readers are going to click somewhere to see what it’s about, and no one wants to leave those page views on the table. Growing social usage means the overall pie is bigger, but everyone’s getting a smaller chunk of that pie. With so much advertising revenue at stake — and with so few alternative business models — there’s a continual race to grab as many readers as possible.

In the long term, these sites give up much of their distinct brand. A publisher may start out with a focus on a central topic or a precise mission statement, but the picture gets fuzzier when it gives attention to ephemeral stories (e.g. how quickly a contestant solved the Wheel of Fortune puzzle) simply because “everyone else is doing it.” The end result is a homogenized media landscape, where everyone is about everything and no one offers a unique value proposition to the audience.

Read the full post here.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Media

May 13th, 2015

Voce Student Weekly Reading 5/13: Social Media Profile Designs, Career Tips for College Seniors & More

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Social Media

Buzzfeed and Twitter seek to turbo-charge content marketing

“Content marketing and social media sharing are trends that have become cemented in the day-to-day lives of brand managers, but that doesn’t mean they won’t evolve. Two recent announcements seek to make the processes more effective for the growing number of PR, marketing and social media pros moving to online campaigns.”

Voce Insight – Perhaps not all clients will need the granularity that something like Buzzfeed’s Pound provides. However, social media teams should always have a solid way to measure results, prove their worth and improve their efforts.

11 Terrific Twitter Profile Designs for Inspiration

“Now we work, play and create in a digital ecosystem that defines you by your image online. Your credibility and brand is determined by your web content. The photos on Facebook, your blog posts and tweets. How are you looking?

Voce Insight – Cover images in Twitter and Facebook and header images in platforms like WordPress are prime screen real estate. Social media teams should consider updating these images regularly, perhaps to coincide with the season, or using them to promote big events or announcements.

Public Relations

What Should You Do When a Reporter is Blowing You Off

“Many times in these situations, I’ve observed that the media relations professional and the reporter enter into a brief “push/pull” dynamic that quickly ends the relationship: the PR person keeps calling, emailing, and pressing, and the reporter is repelled by the (perceived) onslaught and backs away.”

Voce Insight – It’s easy to get frustrated when a reporter doesn’t get back to you, but it’s important not to get too pushy and demanding. There is a fine line between being persistent and being annoying.

What Your PR Classes Didn’t Teach You

While we learn a lot from our PR classes and there’s no denying the value of a good education, there are simply some things about working in PR that cannot be taught in a classroom, no matter how good a professor may be. Sometimes internships can help prepare students by filling in the gaps between higher education and the “real world” workplace. Still, students preparing for their first full time job are often left asking, “What do I need to know that my classes didn’t teach me?”

Voce Insight – Pay attention to detail, no matter what the task. In classes, teachers always require attention to detail, so they are receiving quality work. Obviously everyone aims to produce work that is near perfect but many people overlook the fact that not-so-important tasks call for this same attention to detail.

Career

9 Tips for College Seniors Looking for That First Job

“Although the odds may seem stacked against you without any real work experience, you do have assets employers are seeking: a fresh perspective, willingness to learn and loads of energy. Your strong technology skills are also a plus. And because you presumably have fewer outside responsibilities and financial obligations, you demand a lower salary.”

Voce Insight – If if you haven’t started yet, now is the time to start building your professional network on LinkedIn. Attend employer presentations and career fair. Most employers conduct webinars, virtual chats, attend career fairs, as well as participate in live campus presentations in order to reach and identify a variety of students and inform them about the opportunities they have available.

Career Tips for the Class of 2015

“It’s easy to go into the job search focusing on what you want. While that is important you must also be a solution provider. In our current economy you may land contract or temporary work that leads to full-time permanent work so be industrious and lead with I Believe I Can Help You…and provide a solution to an issue or concern.”

Voce Insight – Don’t go into an interview or networking event talking about what benefits you hope to get. You should instead be focusing on what you can provide to the company or contact. Human nature is inherently selfish, so you’ll get more positive results from talking about the benefits YOU bring to the table, not about how they can serve your needs.

Filed in Career Development, Weekly Reading

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