Snapchat’s Comeback?

The general belief around our office? Snapchat is dead. I happen to remain an avid user of Snapchat (I’ve yet to post an Instagram story), but as of late it seemed that Snapchat was on a fast decline. In the first quarter of this year, the app reported its slowest user growth rate ever, and stock shares fell 15%. It was looking grim for the just 6-year old app (for comparison, we’ve had Facebook for almost 15 years and Twitter for 12).

To be fair, the app still pulls in 191 million daily active users. But Instagram stories, it’s biggest competitor, is double that at 400 million daily active users. Facebook stories (honestly the worst in my opinion) is catching up at 150 million. So, what’s next for the app that created the original disappearing picture/video message?

Well, things might be looking up. Every year, Condé Nast and Goldman Sachs release the Love List Brand Affinity Index, an annual research study that examines shifts in Millennial and Gen Z purchase motivation and shopping preferences. Millennials are currently the most influential retail demographic, but Gen Z is expected to quickly surpass them with their $44 billion in buying power. The 2018 index was just released, and the findings bode well for the little ghost.

The study asked participants, “What apps are you using today that you were not using much several months ago?” Amazon, unsurprisingly as they strive for global conquest, took the top spot. But right behind it? Snapchat—ranking above Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Did you notice what’s not on the list? That’s right, Facebook. If anything is dead, it’s probably that app. After all, 44% of millennials have deleted the app in the past year. Ouch.

Check out the full 2018 Love List Brand Affinity Index to see what the youths are into these days.

Part I: Why You Need a Crisis PR Agency

Let’s take a moment to delve deep into the dark crevices of “what if.” Stay with me here. Take a moment to let your mind wander to worst case scenarios that could potentially happen at your place of business. Perhaps a rainmaker embroiled in a #MeToo accusation? A high profile employee takes to Twitter to trash a client? An unhappy donor threatening to expose shady bookkeeping practices to the media? It’s uncomfortable, I know. But if you take the time to really think about all of the potential crisis lurking just below the surface I bet you can come up with quite a list.

Now, in each of these scenarios, imagine what your next steps might be. Who are you calling? What are you saying? What are you not saying? How do you respond on social media? What’s your plan of action?

If at this point you’re sweating slightly, you’re not alone. Most organization don’t have a formal crisis response plan, precisely because it’s uncomfortable to think about. It requires planning for something that will hopefully never happen. It takes time that is not billable and planning involves immersing yourself in a dark place.

But here’s another thought to consider. The moment a crisis hits is not the time to start calling around to PR firms asking about their services and pricing. It’s not the time to reach out to your sister’s best friend’s husband who you think is in PR to see if he can help. It’s too late.

The time to prepare is now.

Once you have an identified agency partner on call, you can proceed with the confidence of knowing that the crisis team is already up to speed on your company, its executives, and other relevant players and details. It’s not necessary to take time to get anyone up to speed because it’s already happened. In this scenario the agency can immediately get to work on responding to the situation at hand.

Different crisis agencies work in different ways, but it most cases, if you’ve already contracted with an agency, you will likely have a response plan developed that can immediately begin to be implemented. In addition, it’s likely that your executives have had some version of response training such as media interview training. At this point it’s just a matter of reviewing and refining messages based on the situation.

Companies who have taken the time to arrange for crisis counsel in advance of a situation tend to fair much better in a crisis situation than those who have not. If you’re ready to discuss crisis preparation services for your company, get in touch with us here.

PART II: HOW TO PICK A CRISIS PR AGENCY THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU

 

Part II: How to Pick a Crisis PR Agency That’s Right for You

If you’re in the market for a crisis PR firm, here are a few tips to take into consideration when making your selection:

In crisis, comfort with the team is king. Your agency partner must be a group of folks that you trust and are completely comfortable with. These are the folks who you will be sharing scenarios you hope never see the light of day, so you must feel confident they can manage and contain the situation, should it ever arise.

Meet the team members. Many times senior executives or dedicated new business development team members will sell the business and then step out of the picture once the deal is closed. During the selection process, make sure you meet the actual team members who will be assigned to your account. Find out how involved senior leadership will be and who your day-to-day contact is.

Ask about their experience. Find out what clients they’ve worked with who are in similar industries or have had similar situations. Ask how the situations were resolved and what the outcomes were. Ask how long the relationship with the clients lasted, and if it ended, why.

Understand how they bill. Crisis agencies generally bill in one of three ways: by the hour, on a monthly retainer basis (whether you use their services that month or not), or with one flat fee that covers a certain amount of hours. Decide what you’re comfortable with and ensure the agency is as well.

Be clear on the terms of service up front. Be sure you fully understand what the agency’s scope of work is before signing the contract. If you sign a crisis-only contract and another PR-related item pops up, is it covered? If your crisis takes you over the allotted amount of hours, how does billing change?  Make sure you understand the full scope.

Hiring the right crisis PR agency can be a challenge, but successful outcomes are based on thoughtful preparation. Being as prepared as possible in the agency identification phase will set your company up for success in the long run. If you’re ready to discuss crisis preparation services for your company, get in touch with us here.

 

Spotlight on: Jessica Sharp

How did you get into PR?

I went to Drexel, which has a five year co-op program where students go to school full-time for six months and then do an internship full-time for six months. My last internship was at Exelon Corporation in their external communications department. I worked closely with several of the company’s PR and advertising firms and what they were doing looked like a lot of fun. When I graduated I focused my job search on agencies and was fortunate enough to land a position at a small PR/advertising firm in Philly.

 

What’s the proudest moment of your career?

I’ve had so many! I think I’m most proud when we help a client to realize the power of PR. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to work with so many different clients and types of client contacts, some of whom didn’t believe they should hire a PR firm, or didn’t truly understand how PR fits into the overall marketing mix. When I see the lightbulb go on and they get it, it’s pretty great.

I’m also really proud of the company that Rebecca and I have built. It’s been almost 13 years since we started and it’s been amazing. There have been too many great moments to mention them all here.

 

How has the PR industry changed since you started?

The biggest change that I see is the shift from PR to integrated communications. PR can no longer stand alone and be successful. It has to be thoughtfully integrated with social media, content marketing, and digital. Not that long ago a big feature story in a top publication was enough to make a big impact. Today that’s not necessarily true. Coverage in traditional media is certainly still important, but it’s not the be all end all.

 

When you’re not at the office, what can we find you doing?

Right now I’m training for my first triathlon, so I’m doing a lot more running and biking than I normally do. Not so much swimming, which I need to work on.

 

What’s your favorite show to binge in Netflix?

Right now I’m watching the third season of Better Call Saul, which is really good.

 

What book are you currently reading?

I just finished Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman. I think I read the whole thing in two days, I couldn’t put it down.

 

What’s your favorite restaurant in the City?

I’m so lame. We used to go out all the time, and then we had kids, and now it’s exclusively sushi or pizza, which is pretty much the only thing they eat. That said, Pizzeria Stella is a go to, as is Morimoto, but that’s only on a night without kids.

 

What’s your dream vacation spot?

I love any vacation that involves an adventure or lots of activity – hiking, biking, sailing, climbing, etc. As long as it’s not too cold. I hate the cold (skiing is definitely out). We just got back from a week in Wyoming where we did horseback riding, hiking, biking, and yoga at the top of Jackson Hole Mountain, which was amazing.

 

And finally, tell us something about yourself that we’d never expect.

I play the violin. I started taking lessons with my kids about three years ago and they’ve since moved on to piano, but I stuck with it. I just started Suzuki Book 4, no big deal 😉

 

Spotlight On: Brianna Rooney

1. How did you get into PR?

My dad and sister are in advertising, so I knew wanted to do something to that extent. I was a little more writing -focused and not as creative so from there, I decided PR was the right fit. At Temple orientation, I declared PR as my major and while I had no idea what it meant, I stuck with it and here I am!

2. What’s the proudest moment of your career?

I think the proudest moment of my career so far is when clients trust you as an extension of their team. It’s hard getting to know clients at first, but once they say, “You can handle this,” or “We trust you,” it’s a big moment! Trust goes a long way and really benefits the overall client/agency relationship.

3. How has the PR industry changed since you started?

It’s changed a lot, but not a lot at the same time. I think there’s a bigger shift toward digital and social, so you have to supplement what you’re doing for traditional media outreach with online and digital outlets. You can no longer just rely on people seeing your news in the paper, you have to share it on social media, on your website, in your newsletter. There’s a few more steps to get the news out there, but innately it’s staying the same. You work hard to share your client’s story.

4. When you’re not at the office, what can we find you doing?

Reading, drinking rosé (usually while reading), spending time with family and friends, and exploring the city!

5. What’s your favorite show to binge watch on Netflix?

I’m going to go with One Tree Hill! I wouldn’t recommend any of the shows I watch otherwise because they’re all on Bravo. But for a “real show” I just finished The Fourth Estate – it’s on Showtime, and it’s about the New York Times reporting during the Trump administration, from election to inauguration and what’s happening now. It’s a unique look into the newsroom and really captured my attention.

6. What book are you currently reading?

I am currently reading The Alice Network – a historical fiction novel that shares a story of female spies during the Great War.

7. What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?

There are so many good places, but I’d say my favorite that never disappoints is Twenty Manning.

8. What’s your dream vacation spot?

Lately it’s been South Africa. A little bit of wineries and beaches, with a side of safari. It takes forever to get there so hopefully one day I have the time to travel there!

9. And finally, tell us something about yourself that we’d never expect.

I studied abroad in Paris, and I speak French!

Spotlight On: Rebecca Devine

  1. How did you get into PR?

I started my career as a political pollster for local and national campaigns in NYC. We would develop surveys to find out what public perception was on a variety of topics from hard hitting issues to what tie color people preferred the candidate wear for major events.  Once we had culled through all the data, we would often hand over the results to a candidate’s PR or Marketing agency, who would create a campaign around our research. I realized pretty quickly that I wanted to be on the creative side, not the number crunching side, and started looking for Public Relations positions when I moved to Philadelphia.

  1. What’s the proudest moment of your career?

I don’t have one specific moment, but the “firsts” always stand out in my mind: Signing our first real office lease, hiring our first employee, signing our first annual contract, the list goes on. It’s been 12 years since we started Maven and I am amazed at how many small but immensely rewarding things happen every day.

  1. How has the PR industry changed since you started?

Public Relations used to be somewhat synonymous with Media Relations, but our definition of “Media” has completely changed in the last 8 years. Now, every company can publish great content without relying exclusively on reporters. Bloggers, social media, and self-publishing platforms have transformed the way companies think about sharing their story, and the way we consume that information. There are so many more ways for organizations and brands to reach their target audiences than ever before.  It’s been exciting to be part of that change, and develop ways to help our clients make the most of it.

  1. When you’re not at the office, what can we find you doing?

Hanging out with my husband and daughters, age 3 and 6. I recently picked up tennis again, which has been a lot of fun. It’s great to compete, but some of the matches get pretty intense!

  1. What’s your favorite show to binge watch on Netflix?

Stranger Things is a good one. My guilty pleasure is GLOW, which stands for the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. It’s quirky, a little sad, and hysterically funny.

  1. What book are you currently reading?

I love historic novels, real or fiction. This summer I finally read Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer’s firsthand account of the 1996 Everest tragedy. It’s incredible. I’m currently reading Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan. It’s a WWII era profile of the first female diver. Set in New York, it has intrigue, gangsters, soldiers and interesting, plucky characters. I’m really enjoying it so far.

  1. What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?

Right now I’d say Vernick, Zahav, and Wm. Mulherin’s Sons.

  1. What’s your dream vacation spot?

I’d love to go to Croatia and Bosnia.

  1. And finally, tell us something about yourself that we’d never expect.

I was a competitive gymnast when I was younger, training 30 hours/week after school. My daughters think it’s cool that mom can still do a cartwheel.

 

Tips to Help Team Members Grow

There comes a point in everyone’s career when they are charged with managing an intern or a team member. This is more than your job, it’s a responsibility that can greatly affect the future of your team members. Interns look for positions to gain job experience and junior level staff look to learn and grow from their senior peers and managers. Providing feedback is a key part in mentoring a team member to produce the kind of work that you, your company, and clients expect.

Here are a few tips for managers to consider when providing feedback/mentorship to interns and junior level staff.

  1. Create the right mix of honesty and encouragement: Provide truthful feedback that helps them learn what they can do better, while also providing positive affirmation by pointing out what they’ve done well.
  2. Set expectations: From the first day, let your team members know the types of projects they will be working on, the importance of each part of the work, and the standards expected. Explaining the full picture of the projects helps them realize the important role even simple research can play, thus making them want to do even the mundane work well.
  3. Provide examples: It always works best to provide samples to similar project work. This allows the intern/team member to evaluate what kind of outcome is expected.
  4. Create a continuous learning experience: The review process is part of the learning experience, so set feedback check-ins to review parts of the project throughout the process. This will allow the team member to continue to improve while ensuring that they also understand. Once they have a grasp on the work, these check-ins can become less frequent.
  5. Share the process that works for you: Sharing tips about what works for you can be useful to help them develop good work habits. This can range from telling them how you approach a project to walking away from something they’ve written for a few hours and coming back to it to proof with fresh eyes.
  6. Share your experiences: We have all been in their shoes and have a few of our own war stories. Be relateable to them by sharing some of your experiences, especially the times where you faced hardships/struggled.

Using these tips can help create an effective team and gives interns and team members a positive experience that can have a lasting impact on their career. It often will lead to you being considered a trusted mentor.

Related Articles:

3 PR LESSONS FROM SHERYL SANDBERG

The 4 Most Common Misunderstandings about Public Relations

Five Ways to Make the Most of Your PR Internship

Spotlight On: Emily K

  1. How did you get into PR?

I studied communications in college and was fortunate enough to get an internship out of college at a PR agency. Since then, I have had a lot of really amazing mentors who have guided me along the way.

  1. What’s the proudest moment of your career?

I am still waiting for that career-defining moment, but I have had a handful of impressive media placements and client wins that I’m proud of. Also, it’s always an exciting moment when you get in sync with a client and they view you as not just their agency, but as a true extension of their team.

  1. How has the PR industry changed since you’ve started?

I would say that things have gotten a lot more digital, especially since the emergence of social media. It’s just such a big part of our lives. There’s really no such thing as breaking news anymore. Everything is minute-by-minute and everyone is tweeting reporters – that’s how you’re engaging. I think we are also relying less on traditional news cameras because we can just whip out our phone, take videos, and send them into the news stations.

  1. When you’re not at the office, what can we find you doing?

Definitely seeing live music! You can also find me at any number of gym studios throughout the city and trying new restaurants.

  1. What’s your favorite show to binge-watch on Netflix?

Well the current season of The Real Housewives of New York City aren’t on Netflix, but as far as Netflix goes, I just binged Season 1 and 2 of Queer Eye, it’s amazing. I think my all-time favorite binge show is probably Friends (favorite episode: The one with all of the resolutions).

  1. What book are you currently reading?

Everyone at Maven knows I have a tough time getting into books! Making time to read has been on my New Year’s resolution list for the past couple of years, so maybe 2019 is the year.

  1. What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?

My all-time favorite restaurant in the city is Zahav, I love Israeli-Mediterranean cuisine. I’m also really obsessed with Royal Sushi & Izakaya.

  1. What’s your dream vacation spot?

It’s hard to choose because there are still so many places that I haven’t been, but I would really love to go to Africa.

  1. And finally, tell us something about yourself that we’d never expect.

I have attended at least 200 concerts…that’s a conservative estimate.

How to Handle the Dog Days of Summer as a PR Pro

We’ve written about how to keep your PR campaigns on track over the holidays but as we’re in the last month of summer, you’ve probably realized your campaigns have slowed down or maybe you’re not paying as much attention as you usually do. Similar with people being away over the holidays, the summer is a time where most go on vacation and don’t follow their usual habits or proactivity takes a backseat.

Instead of falling behind on client facing work or not knowing what to do with a slower season, here are a few tips to stay on track:

  • Social Media – With more time on the beach or out of the office, people are spending less time on their phones and instead, living in the moment. With that said, be aware of when you are sharing client’s news on social media. Mid-day on Friday? Your reach will likely be lower with people having summer hours or vacation days. Aim to post mid-week for a better chance at engagement.
  • Repurpose Content – Did you get a great segment on the news over the weekend? Reuse the spot on social, website and your newsletter to ensure more people see it. Similar to the above, people are on their phones less so share news across different platforms for a higher chance of being seen.
  • Use Your Connections – Have a big story coming up over the summer? Touch base with the reporters you have relationships with to see if they’ll be around to share your news or the best time to reach out to them with pitches. Working together can result in the best outcome for all.
  • Summer Clean Up – Are your clients away on vacation and it’s a slow news-cycle? Take some time to clean up your server, files and email. We often get so busy during the day that administrative tasks take a back seat so take time in the summer to do “back to school organization”

While summer may be a time off for some, PR never takes off, so plan ahead! What’s your approach to staying on top of work in the summer?

How Facebook’s Consumer Trends are Changing the Game

Recently, Hootsuite, a social media management platform, hosted a webinar that covered a pressing issue for those of us in PR: how do we use Facebook to drive meaningful customer interactions with our content?

The webinar focused on a few different ideas, but these statistics stood out:

  • The average person spends 3 hours a day on their mobile device
  • The average person checks their phone 80 times a day
  • More than 20% of time spent on mobile is on Facebook or Instagram
  • 78% of total mobile data traffic will be video by 2021
  • On Instagram, in October 2016, there were 100 million daily active people watching stories; by June 2018 there were 400 million daily active people watching stories

These numbers look intimidating when you see them on paper, but what do they mean practically? They mean that our industry is changing right before our eyes. What used to be effective, such as a simple graphic promoting a business, is losing its potency.

How is the PR scene changing?

Consumerism has shifted in three ways:

  • from desktop computers to handheld devices
  • from television to mobile video
  • from newsfeeds to stories.

Because of this latest shift to stories, ads are changing as well.

Vik Kambli, the Regional Head of Western Canada Facebook, led a section of the webinar. He made clear that among Facebook’s top priorities is “meaningful interactions – connecting with people and passions we care about.” What he means is that Facebook is not a website meant for advertising. It’s a website meant to spur and nurture connections between people. The way businesses promote themselves on Facebook is different than most platforms – it’s not a one-way blast, rather, it’s a two-way conversation. Stories are currently the best way to do this.

So what should PR firms be doing to keep up with the consumer’s changing preferences?

We have to embrace technological advances and stay ahead of the game. As an example, many businesses still haven’t gotten on board with Instagram stories. This gives PR firms willing to keep up an edge and an opportunity.

Fortunately, the short amount of time it takes to make and edit an Instagram story can be used to our advantage. We can make videos quickly and post them quickly.

Additionally, Facebook’s research has found that multiple scenes work better than one long scene. As opposed to newsfeeds, where consumers watch videos with the sound off,  with stories, people watch with the sound turned up. So use sound!

What are the key takeaways?

Think mobile. Think about videos and stories. And play! This new frontier doesn’t have to be intimidating. It can be a chance to be creative, think outside of the box, and try different iterations in order to find what works best. It’s never been easier to be a content creator, and now is the time!