Resolve to Rebuild in 2022

If 2020 was the year of the pivot, 2022 will be the year we rebuild. One of the primary ways businesses and nonprofits will do so is, in part, through raising the profiles and awareness of their brands, services and products.

Kimball Hughes Public Relations reached out to hundreds of for- and non-profit entities across the U.S. to get their take on 2022. We asked about opportunities and obstacles as well as about some of the fundamental tools and resources these entities use to connect with their audiences.

Opportunities & Challenges

One third of respondents reported that being seen as experts would be their top priority to achieving business or organizational goals in 2022. Maintaining or expanding awareness of their reputation among their key audiences came in second at 28.6 percent. Sales, product or service awareness and adding new products or services as tactics to improve performance in 2022 as paled in comparison.

The biggest challenge to growth in 2022 was seen as lack of brand or organizational awareness (72.7 percent). Limited marketing budgets ranked second as a challenge at 54.5 percent, while economic uncertainty and competition tied for third as other major obstacles in the new year.

The Road Ahead

To maximize the potential for raising brand awareness in the new year, securing media recognition and generating content will be essential.

Only 20 percent of the organizations we surveyed reported that being quoted or included in the media as a high priority. Fifty percent said it was one among many priorities, and 15 percent reported they were indifferent to seeing their brand represented in a reputable or industry-specific third-party content provider.

For those creating and publishing their own, non-social media content, nearly 23 percent say they do so daily.  Forty one percent produce their own website, blog or video content weekly, while another 23 percent do so monthly. Just over 13 percent report leaving content development, as a strategy to expand their reach and reputations, to “when time permits.”

Make a New Year’s Resolution

If you’re resolved to grow or expand your reputation or reach in 2022 — or you know of someone thinking about doing so — Kimball Hughes PR can help. Reach out to us today at info@kimballpr.com or call (610) 559-7585 and ask for a free consultation.

Giving Thanks: Acknowledging the Small but Mighty Work of The MOG Project

By Eileen Coyne, Director of Public Relations, Kimball Hughes Public Relations

During this season of Thanksgiving, we want to take time to recognize a special organization for the tremendous good they are doing and for the hope they are inspiring in at least one small part of the rare disease community.

The MOG Project is a young nonprofit working to promote awareness of a rare neuroinflammatory autoimmune disease found in people of all ages and children in particular. Myelin Oligodendrocyte Glycoprotein Antibody Disease (MOG-AD) is a newer disease only recently identified via an antibody test in 2017. The disease causes dangerous inflammation in the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. Due to its similarities with Multiple Sclerosis, it is often misdiagnosed as MS, which The MOG Project is fighting to change. Such a misdiagnosis can lead to incorrect treatments and prove harmful to the patient.

For us at Kimball Hughes Public Relations, we are passionate about donating our time to non-profit organizations, and for me, the MOG Project is personal.

In the Spring of 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 lockdowns, my elementary school-aged son was diagnosed with MOG-AD. Unfortunately, it took weeks of frightening symptoms including tear-inducing headaches, fevers, relentless vomiting, chronic fatigue, severe leg weakness, long hospital stays and the loss of nearly 20 percent of his body weight before the doctors came to a diagnosis. Lesions on his brain and spine found in an MRI led his team of physicians to ultimately test for MOG-AD. He was positive. And, as I understand it, we were lucky. My son was a patient at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), a leading pediatric institution recognized around the world for its research, treatment and care.

Again, we are fortunate to be a patient at CHOP where my son’s MOG-AD has been well managed. I am convinced that many hospitals around the country would not have known to test for this rare disease and may have even misdiagnosed him. He had two MOG-AD flares early on that manifested themselves by blurring and darkening his vision, but since receiving regular therapy, he has been healthy and well with 20/20 vision – attending school, playing sports and having fun with his friends.

A diagnosis of a rare disease, like MOG-AD, is more than just frightening. It can feel isolating at times. While I had the support of my family, friends and incredible colleagues at Kimball Hughes PR, I needed more. When I was ready to seek additional guidance and support, I came across The MOG Project. Little information was available online about MOG-AD, but The MOG Project was there to show me and my family we weren’t alone. Other patients, doctors and researchers are working diligently to encourage research, enhance treatments, and in due course, finding a cure. I immediately connected with the founder of The MOG Project Julia Lefelar and soon after Kimball Hughes PR began providing public relations services on a pro bono basis.

As public relations professionals, we inherently recognize the value in raising the public profiles of our clients. We understand the meaningful impact a smart media placement can have on an any organization – let alone an advocacy group so passionately dedicated to advancing awareness, educating the medical community, supporting patients and caregivers, and promoting research around a rare disease.

We hope to help this amazing group of remarkable individuals and industry-leading researchers bring MOG-AD to the forefront. Working with The MOG Project, the patients it supports and the influential doctors on its board, we’ve learned that in fighting for better outcomes for patients with one rare disease, we can help promote better outcomes for all. Please check out The MOG Project at https://mogproject.org/.

Responding to Golden (State) opportunities

I was recScreen Shot 2016-07-20 at 2.16.36 PMently reminded that publicity is perhaps one of the most important tools for a non-profit organization. Athletes C.A.R.E., a student athlete organization focused on ending homelessness and hunger, received an unexpected shout out from Nick Young of the L.A. Lakers on a recent episode of Cupcake Wars: Celebrities.

This was an unplanned windfall for Athletes C.A.R.E., but absent a plan to respond and capitalize on the event, it would have ended as a one-time happening missed by many.

Fortunately, Athletes C.A.R.E. took advantage of its active social media presence. For non-profits, leveraging social media can mean a huge boost in messaging attention, and even fundraising.

The first step is to post about the event. Take to every platform where you have an active presence and let followers know your organization has been publicly recognized. In those posts, be sure to tag the relevant names and organizations. For Athletes C.A.R.E., this meant tagging Nick Young, the L.A Lakers, The Food Network and Cupcake Wars. By tagging the appropriate parties (and their social media accounts) you widen the reach of your post and expose your organization to broader audiences. Now not only will your followers see the post, but the followers of anyone you tag will see the post as well.

Additionally, you can reach out to your local newspaper and other local media outlets to alert them of events such as having Nick Young reference your non-profit on national television. Something at that level might warrant a local news story.

Finally, you can follow-up two or three more times via social media over the course of the following week, pointing out different aspects of the initial event to extend the message and the reach. However posting more than that will likely be unwelcome. And any additional social posts about the event should be broken up by other content on social media.

With limited budgets and personnel, publicity and social media are two of the strongest tools in a non-profit’s arsenal. The ability to capitalize on and expand your organization through opportunities such as the situation with Athletes C.A.R.E. will strengthen your organization and help spread your message.

This post is courtesy of Cassidy Taylor, Lafayette College class of 2017, Kimball’s summer 2016 intern.

As days go by: blogging matters

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Blogging can be fun; it can be tedious. It’s a task for an intern, or for everyone to share. No matter how you look at it, what you say online is crucial to growing your business while also demonstrating your expertise. Let me explain…

We’ll start by exploring a little thing called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). People who know and use your business can get to your website whenever they want by entering your URL into their web browser.

What about growth, though? When new customers or clients are searching for the product or service you offer, you want them to find your website first. That is what SEO does. You can make sure that your website is clear and informative, stating exactly what it is you do; relevant information helps your website appear higher on the list of results when certain terms are searched. You can even pay for advertising around the keywords that people are typing in to increase the position in which your website appears.

But all of that applies only to your relatively static website. Each time you create a blog post, you create a new web address with relevant content for the audience you want to reach. You’re gaining credibility by talking about what you know best, and you’re stretching your online presence by providing new information for clients and customers to find when they search for a service like yours online. So now, instead of appearing in search results only once, each blog post has the potential to appear as a separate site, increasing your online presence dramatically.

What happens after you blog? Does that post disappear deep into the archives of your website? Nope! Hubspot, an inbound marketing company, explains the idea of “compounding posts,” which basically means that you may get 100 views on the first day you publish your post, but over the next few months, a good post will continue to generate traffic to your website, sometimes exponentially.

hubspot graph

From a PR perspective, contacts generated and credibility gained are really going to make the difference. By blogging regularly, you gain a captive audience that will now see your press releases as soon as they’re posted, while we’re still in close contact with other news sources that will reach the rest of the population you’re hoping to target. You put yourself a step ahead of the game, so as days go by, it’s bigger growth for your company.

Getting started, or ramping it up (if you’re already blogging)

As far as content for blog posts, write about what you know best—piece of cake! Images make a post more attractive, so don’t forget to include one or two. Social Marketing Writing has some stats that will improve your blogging performance. My top three favorites include:

  • Once you accumulate 51 posts, blog traffic increases by 53%, goes up by 3 times when you hit 100 posts, and by 4.5 times after 200 posts. Posting more often will help you get there!
  • Blogs get the highest traffic on Monday mornings, so at the least, plan to have a post published every Monday morning.
  • Posts published on Thursdays get the most social shares.

Blogging is a low-cost way to keep in touch with your clients and grow your business. We think it’s an essential part of any company’s marketing and PR strategy.

To find out more about how we can help you achieve results through blogging, contact us today!

You can run, but you can’t hide #TwitterFails

Twitter Fail!

Photo credit: Transferwise.com

Social media is to branding a successful business as cheese is to mozzarella sticks. We’ve known for quite some time that marketers need to look alive every second of the day (or even just six hours per week), on the Twitterverse. But when opportunity arises or crisis strikes, it’s all about tactical PR. A strong media presence requires time commitment, creativity, and responsiveness; dedicated and experienced PR support is the best way to meet these demands. Without a practiced PR team or agency, your company may fall victim to the #nightmares detailed below.

#Wheresthecheese

Speaking of mozzarella sticks, McDonald’s launched them as a new item on their menu recently. Customers quickly took to social media to vent their frustrations with their cheesy purchase turned “lactose-free.“ McDonald’s came out with their explanation/ apology via The Chicago Tribune, but not before some smart competitors took to social media to boast the cheesy goodness they offer.

PR Takeaways:

1) Keep a close eye on social media callouts, so you can respond to the problem before the hashtag becomes the new problem.

2) Seize the opportunity, or dare we say, “cheese the opportunity.” Use humor and offer incentives to keep the situation friendly. Your audience will get a good laugh and hopefully drop in for a bite to eat. Just be sure to put your money where your mouth is if you’re going to play this card.

Meanwhile, McDonald’s has discontinued this product in response to negative feedback.

“Fire your agency. Then fire everyone who hired them”

Twitter users across the country did not appreciate the response Red Lobster gave to their Super Bowl Sunday shout out from none other than Queen Bey herself in her newly released single, “Formation”. The somewhat controversial lyric referencing Red Lobster turned all eyes on the seafood chain restaurant. While clearly trying to maintain their family-friendly rep, Red Lobster landed themselves in hot water with the masses on Twitter who waited hours for a clever response.

PR Takeaways:

  • Always be ready. You only get one shot to impress a lot of people.
  • You need to impress all of those people while sticking true to your brand, so tread lightly, but not too lightly.

#RIPTwitter

The social media site fell victim to the power of its creation when rumors spread that they may change their news stream from reverse-chronological order to an algorithm based feed, similar to Facebook’s. Even a few celebrities got on board with #RIPTwitter to express their discontent, to which CEO Jack Dorsey had to step in and quell the chaos.

PR Takeaways:

  • It never hurts to have employees at all levels involved with social, even the CEO—his word over all when it comes to shutting down rumors.
  • Don’t stick to just one outlet. With Twitter’s user growth slowing, it’s important to maintain messaging across multiple media outlets, social, news or otherwise.

Whether you work for a fast food giant or an insurance company, it’s important to control your own message. A small business may not generate viral hashtags the way Red Lobster would, but you can never be too sure what will happen in the realm of social media. Stay alert, stay focused, and stay out there.

How can hotels use social media during a crisis response?


Photo credit: Mark Emery Photography via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

The majority of hotels recognize the critical need for crisis response planning. But have they factored in social media? Over at Hotel Executive, Gary explains eight ways hotels can be effectively using social media during a crisis response.

 

Rod discusses thought leadership in the National Law Journal

Ascent Magazine Atos Thought Leadership Fast

photo via Atos on Flickr

Want to be a thought leader in the legal field? What exactly does it mean to be a thought leader?

Our VP Rod Hughes offers Meg Charendoff some sensible advice for readers of the National Law Journal.

Know your audience: a content lesson from the middle of the woods

Don’t appeal to empty seats—know your audience.

Recently, a minor controversy flared up on a Facebook page for an outdoors magazine. In a web feature on getting fit for hiking, the lede read: “Doughy is a lifestyle choice.” Huh?

On certain fitness blogs or emblazoned on across a “fitspo” meme, such a statement wouldn’t be out of place. But to the readers of this magazine it seemed an odd crack aimed at heavy hikers. Most of the comments below the related Facebook post were some variation of this, from a commenter named Todd: “LoL I am doughy and I out hike lean athletes any day of the week. It’s not all about the cover. Over weight people can have very good fitness.”

If commenters were not taking the magazine to task for shaming bigger hikers, they were confused by the very nature of the article. That is, they didn’t understand why a hiker would need these fitness tips. As commenter Katherine quipped, “I got in shape for hiking by… hiking.”

So what’s going on here (aside from insensitivity)? If we examine this from a writing and public relations angle, it becomes clear the magazine made a basic, yet extremely common mistake: they misjudged their audience.

Under ever-increasing pressure to produce more and more content, companies sometimes forget for whom they are writing. They seek out new formats and approaches to writing quick blog posts and features, often mimicking what works elsewhere on the web. Though this can lead to content that is more interesting to readers, writers and brands have to keep those readers in mind. You can adapt a form or approach to mesh with the information and tone your audience seeks from you.

So let this little hiker dustup serve as a reminder: next time you sit down to write a new blog post, article, white paper or other piece of content, ask, “who is this for and what do the want from me?”

Don’t be a phony: Wikipedia and PR

David Kracht / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0The PR industry extended an olive branch to Wikipedia this week.

Earlier this week a consortium of PR agencies released a joint statement on their intention to comply with Wikipedia’s terms of service. This may seem like an empty gesture, but it is considered a significant step towards resolving a conflict between the communications industry and Wikipedia’s vigilant volunteers.

If you are not familiar with this conflict, here’s the short of it: Edits to a Wikipedia entry by a paid representative of an individual or organization constitute a conflict of interest and violate Wikipedia’s terms of service and goals. However, PR pros and freelancers have been paid to edit entries for nearly as long as the online encyclopedia has been around. Read up on the 2011 dust up between a British PR firm and the online encyclopedia for a clearer picture of the relationship.

Though I generally disagree that someone involved with an organization is incapable of updating basic information about that company without falling susceptible to promotional urges, I understand Wikipedia’s policy. It helps keep entries honest, factual and balanced. But more importantly, I understand that it is a community with rules and guidelines; it doesn’t matter whether or not the PR industry likes them. We have to play by the rules or risk our clients’ reputations and exclusion from the community.

Plus, trying to control a conversation—whether through spin or ham-fisted encyclopedia edits—necessarily relies on subterfuge and dishonesty. That never ends well. Instead, PR pros need to make their clients a part of the conversation.

On Wikipedia, that means requesting an edit and making your case for it. There’s even a page full of resources for paid editors, including the proper channels for requesting a change. If you need to make a change to a client’s Wikipedia entry, start there.

For a bit more inside baseball on the relationship between Wikipedia and the communications industry, check out the entry on conflict-of-interest editing, WikiProject Cooperation and WikiProject Integrity. These—and the terms of service—are essential reading if you are considering editing a Wikipedia page for a client or employer.

To get a peek into how Wikipedia’s community of moderators and editors resolves perceived conflicts of interest, check out the talk section of the Cracker Barrel page.

There are as many opinions on this matter as there are Wikipedia pages. Where do you stand? Does editing Wikipedia entries for pay violate your professional ethics? Have you done it? Talk to us about it in the comments.

PR pros, take a lunch break!

Lunch at Koinonia

Wouldn’t it be nice to eat without getting mayo all over your keyboard?

We’re all guilty of not talking a lunch break and eating over our laptops at times. Even if we do step out for a “break,” we’re usually fiddling with our phones, checking emails, etc. Many PR professionals eat lunch at their desks. “Sixty-nine percent of PR professionals eat lunch at their desk rather than joining that chatty klatch heading out to a nearby deli, according to the PR Daily Salary and Job Satisfaction Survey” (PR Daily) With the year coming to a close, PR pros are especially busy planning for 2014, but it’s not an excuse to skip lunch.

Why it’s vital to take a lunch break

  • Food=fuel. If you take some time for lunch, you’ll have more energy to tackle the next project.
  • If you step away from your desk, you’ll be able to clear your mind and take a break from the digital world.
  • Heidi Mitchell (WSJ) discusses other benefits of taking a lunch break in this video, “Is Taking a Lunch Break Better for Your Health?

A few things you may want to do on your break

  • Refuel, but not with coffee. Try an apple or fruit instead.
  • Take your dog for a stroll if you’re nearby or work from home.
  • Take some time to breathe in the fresh air to help relax your mind.
  • Pamper yourself occasionally. Why not schedule a massage?

Like this post if you’re sitting at your desk reading on your “lunch break.”

Photo credit: NatalieMaynor / Foter.com / CC BY