Tag Archives: Newspaper

Are you doing social media right?

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Many people think that I just get paid to sit on Facebook all day and don’t do anything productive, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Social media has to be done correctly to save yourself from the consequences of bad PR for yourself AND your client. There are certain steps in which you should take in order to ensure that you are getting the most out of the tool that has the potential to connect you to so many more people than tradition PR and Marketing allows you to.

A lot of companies who don’t specialise in a communication vocation think that they have to do social media just to ensure that they are keeping up with competitors. What needs to be understood is that it is a free tool and just takes man-hours to make it right. I’ve been to many interviews for PR and Social Media job roles and when I’ve done research in to the company in question I’ve more often than not been left a little let down by the social media already in place.

If you find yourself with fewer followers than everybody else, you need to look at what YOU are putting out on the social media platform, not wonder why people aren’t falling for your spiel. You need to ensure that you are updating regularly, with relevant information to your business (or just what you want to put out there) so that your followers know when to check back with what you’re saying. If you post on a Monday, and then don’t post for two weeks and post on a Friday, followers won’t know when to check back and gradually fall out of the routine of checking back with what you are saying.

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When you think of Facebook and Twitter, chances are you think of your friends or an organisation just broadcasting what they want you to read and there isn’t much room for engagement. In order to gain followers and boost your reputation, you should post content that will generate conversation, don’t forget that this is SOCIAL media and is very much a two way communication channel, use it to your advantage and don’t let it hinder you.

What most companies need to understand is that their Facebook and Twitter feeds are not meant to be glorified ad streams, and need to have good quality content that generates conversation to ensure that followers don’t lose interest. I often find that the easiest way to make people aware of your brand is to not really advertise it at all on social media (within reason, obviously) and a great example of a brand that has got it right is believe it or not, Tesco Mobile. The fact that their Twitter account is more often than not, dedicated to tweeting everybody who tweets the brand with funny, on the line, witty replies is pure genius in my eyes.

Another sin that many people commit on social media, is just auto-post updates across all of their social media platforms. Facebook is incredibly different to Twitter, which is different to Pinterest, which is different again to Linkedin. Look at it this way, you wouldn’t have the same conversation you have with your best friend with your grandma would you? So don’t do it on social media either. Make sure that you connect effectively with each audience to maximise the success of your social media efforts.

It is important to set a social media plan to ensure that there is structure to your posts. Even though many people think that social media is spur of the moment and shouldn’t be thought about to much, there needs to be some sort of similarity in posts so you don’t veer of the mark too much. In order to make sure that there are guidelines, you should figure out the following:

  • Who is responsible for updating your social profiles

Try not to have too many people writing on social media profiles, if your company has a social media team, leave it to them, as silly as it sounds, tone of voice is very important. Consistency is important for keeping your readers interested.

  • How frequently your social profiles will be updated

Figure out a schedule and keep to it, your readers will appreciate the effort of consistent updating and enjoy the content even more.

  • What type of content you will post

It won’t make sense for your readers if you post something extremely serious or sales related to your brand and then post a picture of a puppy with no accompanying copy.

  • How you will use imagery in your posts

Will you include and image in every post? Will your content be mostly images? Imagery plays a big part in how engaging your post is. If a huge lump of copy is teamed with images to break it up, the more likely your readers will finish reading.

  • What tone of voice you will use when posting

This, to me, is the most important of all. If you are writing on a blog and using the tone of voice you would use when talking to your clients, you’re doing it wrong. Figure out whom you are speaking to and adjust accordingly.

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The worst thing a company can do, and I’ve been subject to it, is to delete negative social mentions. It WILL happen, you cannot please all of the people all of the time. I had a dragged out argument with Boohoo over the terrible customer service I had received regarding a problem on their end, and when I commented on their Facebook wall asking for some help because I didn’t know who else to speak to anymore, they messaged me privately and deleted my comment off their wall in order to save their reputation from taking a knock. I personally think that if you publically handle a negative situation, the better you appear to your consumers.

I am no professional when it comes to social media, and I don’t confess to be. I don’t think anyone should say that they are and if you find a method that works for you and your business, stick to it. There are no ‘rules’ that you should follow, and this post isn’t to say that you are doing your social media wrong, but simple hints and ‘guidelines’ to help improve your social media presence. I’ve done extensive research in to social media for the past year and a half, and always kept up to date since starting university in 2010. I did my dissertation on how to be influential on Twitter so I feel I do have some insight in to making it work!

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No such thing as bad publicity?

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Like the title suggests, is there anything such as bad PR? I personally think there is, from both a consumer and a PR point of view. If a brand you like is being publicised in a negative way, you are less likely to want to continue to use the brand, and from a PR point of view, if your client is receiving a considerable amount of negative press, well your job just got a whole lot harder!

An example of this came to light a couple of days ago. As I was on Facebook, I came across a link that was doing the rounds on the social media website that revealed two very popular high street shops, H&M and Topshop, that have stores all over the world. Topshop are all to a custom to a disaster or two in the past, such as the tax evasion and sweat shop allegations but this time after secret filming came to light of workers of a sub-supplier for both stores in China were found to be plucking fur from rabbits who were sadly still alive and go through this every three months once the fur grows back again. The footage was released by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) showing the awful, despicable act.

H&M were the first high street shop to acknowledge the fact that some of their items were being produced in this way and quickly ceased and recalled all items of clothing and took them off their website and off the shelves in stores. I personally think that this is a great show of respect and concern for ethical trading by H&M, and from a PR point of view it is extremely clever, taking a very serious situation and turning in to something that benefits them reputation wise. What H&M didn’t bank on was the way in which Topshop are handling this situation, once again, I find that Topshop have half heartedly halted the sourcing of Angora wool purely because they know they have to, rather than because they genuinely believe in ethical trading like H&M have shown themselves to do.

I say this because they have continued to sell the rest of the stock of the 42 items of clothing that are made of Angora wool, clearly on a money making scheme which is definitely what the point of business is, but sometimes I fear companies do more damage to their reputation in the long haul in what could be a short term money loss situation, and I’m sure Topshop aren’t doing that bad!

There is currently a petition to stop the sales of the remaining stock of the Angora wool garments in Topshop and at present there are just short of 101,000 signatures on the petition and the total needed before action is taken is 120,000. H&M have said that they are going to step up their inspections of its sub-suppliers in order to stop anything like this happening again in the future and has released a statement saying customers who have previously bought Angora products in the past from the store can take them back for full refunds, which is a fantastic approach to take and definitely keeps the respect and loyalty of regular customers but also attracts new customers who wouldn’t normally shop in the affordable clothing store. Topshop is doing the complete opposite and is showing a very poor attitude in such a serious matter that is becoming increasingly apparent to todays society, especially when there are more humane ways to treat animals rather than what was looked over in the past.

Topshop’s PR department need to tread carefully in the following days as it is easy to let this situation turn in to a huge disaster, I personally think that they should just swallow their pride and pull the items now to show that they do actually care about the issue and not all the money that their over priced garments are going to make them in this holiday season!

Much like Tesco’s horse meat scandal earlier this year, the way in which they handled it was somewhat questionable considering the apology they released didn’t sound like they were sorry about the situation, but rather that they were sorry for being caught before trying to pass the blame on to everybody else rather than themselves.

I think that companies who are major players in their sectors should genuinely concern themselves with issues such as the ones spoken about in this blog, purely because it puts a sour taste in peoples mouths, and tarnish’s the brand, a quote that jumps to mind is ‘forgive but never forget’, even though their customers will remain loyal, they will forever be brought up in questionable times.

Crisis management at the ready!

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Do machines really need to do everything?

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I read an article this afternoon about search engine giant Google and the fact that they have patented plans for software that slowly learns how you react to things you see on social media networks. In layman’s terms, the software will mimic the way in which you usually respond to updates and messages from friends and relatives to help you ‘cope’ with the daily processes. The software sifts through the messages you receive and conducts an analysis of continuing interaction and goes on to flag messages that demand a more personal response.

I find it hard to believe that social media is that much of a chore that people need a robot to respond to your friends and family, or even just followers on your Twitter account! This entire concept just takes the personal touch away from what should be a conversation between two or more people!

A software engineer at Google, Ashish Bhatia, said that the popularity and use of social networks and other types of electronic communication has grown dramatically in recent years. It is often difficult for users to keep up with and reply to all the messages they are receiving. Again, I find this very hard to believe that a standard person finds this task difficult, that said, I do believe that businesses find it hard to maintain the amount of messages they receive, and I can see the benefits of having an automated personal response rather than a bog standard repetitive message to all your followers.

The system analyses the responses you initially make so it can eventually start making suggestions of its own that, ideally, should be indistinguishable from those of an actual person. Which asks the question, what is the point. Why do you need this? Does it automatically publish the responses? What if it got a response wrong and made a huge mistake? How could you answer that? This whole concept has many flaws to it, I can see the benefit to a company who wants to please its consumers, but I think it’s just another step in the wrong direction. Some things need to be personal and come from a real person in my eyes!

The article from BBC News went on to say that instead of writing every response individually or clicking buttons to “like” or forward messages, the software would generate suggested responses which a person could simply agree to be posted on their behalf. Now what is the point? The person would have to read the message that they received and then read the automated robot’s response and then decide whether or not it was suitable. Just answer the message! It seems like an awfully long winded approach to just simply writing out a response that takes no more than two minutes anyway!

An example given in the article was:

In response to learning that an acquaintance called David has changed jobs, the system might suggest: “Hey David, I am fine, You were in ABC corp for 3 years and you recently moved to XYZ corp, how do you feel about the difference, enjoying your new workplace?”

That to me reads like an automated response. If my friend told me that they had changed jobs, I wouldn’t feel the need to tell them that they had been working in their previous position for however many years. I think it is a really lazy way of keeping in touch with people!

I find that we have spent so long, especially in Public Relations, telling people why social media is so important, and why you should make every effort to personally respond to relevant messages personally has been totally disregarded with this software, and I find it a strange move on Google’s behalf. Social media allows human-to-human interaction, and I personally think that shouldn’t be messed with. As the old age saying goes, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it!

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How to create a good headline!

 

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In order to gain good readership, you have to have the ability to write good, interesting headlines in order to make the reader want to continue reading your story. I consider the headline to be the most important aspect of an article, it is the first impression that you make to your readers, which deserves a decent amount of thinking time!

Of course, it is not just an article that requires the headline thought process, blog posts, book chapters, even dissertations all need to make the reader want to continue reading your handy work. The main question that you need to consider throughout the entire writing process is ‘would this make me want to read on?‘, if it doesn’t, don’t put it in!

There are various different methods of writing headlines and various different types of headlines, it all depends on the nature of the story which method you choose to use to construct it.

1. Direct Headlines

As the word ‘direct’ suggests, these types of headlines don’t beat around the bush, but instead sum up the story in a matter of words. For example ‘50% off all stock all weekend’.

2. Indirect Headlines

Indirect headlines are used to raise the curiosity of the reader, they pull the audience in and the content of the story fills in the rest of the information. Indirect headlines use a variety of different ways to interest the reader such as:

  • Puns
  • Double-meanings
  • Play on words
  • Figures of speech
  • Metaphors
  • Symbolism

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about Miley Cyrus and her very strange and erratic behaviour, especially the stunt she pulled at the MTV EMA’s that were being held in Amsterdam. For those that don’t know what happened, Miley won an award for Best Music Video for her song Wrecking Ball, as she was giving her speech she proceeding to pull a joint out of her bag and light it up on stage. I read an article in the Metro whilst on the bus with the headline that read ‘Miley High Club’. This is a great example of an indirect headline, as I’m sure most of the people reading this blog post will know what mile high club means, and the obvious misleading meaning it has in terms of this story!

3. News Headline

This is kind of self-explanatory, as long as the news itself is actually news! This could be a product announcement, software updates. A great example of this type of headline is ‘Apple Release New Iphone 5s’

4. How to Headline

This is one of the most popular types of headlines as it is easy to gain readership with the promise that help is going to be provided for a topic the reader is not too sure about. This headline is very popular online and offline and a perfect example for this type of headline is, well, this blog post!

5. A Question Headline

This type of headline has to do more than ask a question. The question needs to be worthwhile and appropriate to the story and has to spark up some good answers in the readers mind that compliments the body of the article. Ideally the reader can empathise with the question and would like to see it answered. A good example of a question headline would be ‘Are You Tired of the Same Old Shopping Routine?’. After a question headline there needs to be instant recognition of the question, so the first paragraph of the content needs to have the answer before the information, for example ‘If so, then come to the new shopping centre here at … and let us revolutionise your shopping world!

6. The Command Headline

This basically tells the readers what to do. It is a simple headline option, and often helps get the results the author wants. The first word of this type of headline should be a strong verb demanding action, for instance ‘Subscribe to AKavanagh PR Today!

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Britain’s most influential tweeters

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I recently read an article published on the Telegraph online, about Britain’s most influential tweeters today. As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, I am extremely interested in social media and my dissertation topic was how to be classed as influential on Twitter, so this article was right up my street!

There is a huge mix of people on the list, which is constructed of 140 Twitter users. I have a problem with the way the word ‘influential’ is thrown about, when really, I think the word ‘popular’ is more suited to the users in the list. The meaning of the word influence is ‘the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself.’ and the meaning of popular is ‘liked or admired by many people or by a particular person or group.’

As you can see, there is a fine line between the two words, and yes, I’m sure the One Direction boys are influential to their fans, but I don’t think they have the power to have an effect on the character, development or behaviour on someone who is not a fan of their music, or them as people.

There is an obvious correlation between popular celebrities today and the most ‘influential’ tweeters today in the article and the top 5 in the following order, are low and behold, One Direction members;

  1. Liam Payne
  2. Harry Styles
  3. Niall Horan
  4. Louis Tomlinson
  5. Zayn Malik

Move down the list to the 7th spot, and you find our Prime Minister, David Cameron. He is meant to be the most ‘influential’ person in our country, as the political leader of the United Kingdom, I find it hard to believe that Liam Payne has more power to influence a group of people than the Prime Minister does.

In the 63rd spot on the list, comes Anne Twist, for those who aren’t die hard fans, that is Harry Styles’ mother. Bringing back the notion of perhaps this list is for popular people, and not influential content that has the power to change the way people behave.

The whole list from 1 through to 140 is constructed from a mixture of people, ranging from politics to vloggers (mentioned in a previous blog post), and I have no issue with this information being formulated in to this article. I just think the word influential should be used in the correct manner, as Harry Styles’ tweeting about his dinner isn’t really ground breaking, thought provoking content is it?

As I found out when writing my dissertation, everyone is influential in some capacity. I am influential to my followers, but I may not be influential to yours. One Direction are influential to their fans, but they are popular on Twitter, and so forth.

To sum this post up, I believe the Telegraph published a list of popular people with a lot of followers, they did not publish a list of Britain’s most influential tweeters like the title would have you believe!

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