Tuesday, May 19, 2015

#EastDallasIs a Social Media Success! Six Tips to Increase Social Media Engagement

I recently had the chance to help plan and execute a social media strategy for a community project in East Dallas. The goal of the project was to build awareness and support for a new co-brand for East Dallas – “Lake & Garden District” – while rallying the entire community around enhancing the value of living in, doing business in, spending money in and playing in the East Dallas community. This viral campaign was a huge success and it all started with creating a Facebook and Instagram page to reach the large community of East Dallas. Additionally, we engaged with traditional media, hosted and attended community events and used yard signs as a way to create buzz.

The social media outreach for this community project was well received and gained attention from the community and the media almost immediately. In fact, the Facebook page went from zero to 935 fans in one week! The Lake & Garden District’s social media pages have been steadily growing since they launched on Feb. 6, 2015. To make your social media strategy a success, I've outlined a few tips below to grow your online engagement.  
1. Get Visual – The reach and impressions for the Lake & Garden District Facebook page were highest when we posted fun visual content. Posts that had videos, photos and links to community news content were viewed and shared the most. Here are the top five posts from the Lake & Garden District Facebook page:

Our number one post to date with a reach of 7.2K+.
2. Sharing is Caring – Share posts, photos and videos from your followers. Social media is a way to have a conversation with your fans and followers. By liking and sharing content from others, you’re building a relationship and humanizing your organization. A few well-known and not-so-well- known organizations that are masters at this include @AnniesHomeGrown, @Netflix, @PizzaHut and @TacoBell.

3. Be Strategic – There are a myriad of ways to gather data about your posts and your fans to maximize the impact of your posts. Learn when your users are on social media and plan your posts around this schedule, posting on the most “popular” days and times when your fans are more likely to see and engage with your content.

4. Go Offline – This may sound counter-intuitive for a social media strategy, but engaging with your audience face-to-face is a great way to strengthen your relationships and build a fan base outside of social media. Whether you plan an event or simply encourage shoppers at your store to use a hashtag, having that positive in-person rapport translates to more fans online. 

5. Be Selective – It’s a rarity that a single company or organization needs to be on every social media channel. Consider your audience before you create a Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook page.  For the visually-heavy Lake & Garden District, we recommended starting with a Facebook and Instagram page because we knew we’d be creating photo contests, sharing hashtags and asking our audience to share images and stories of East Dallas.  Facebook and Instagram were the perfect tools for us and they continue to be the social media sites we utilize to reach our diverse audience. 

6. Create a Dialogue – As a way to not only reach, but engage our audience we encouraged fans to participate in the community project by sharing an #EastDallasSelfie or filling in the blank to this simple phrase: “East Dallas Is…” We encouraged our fans to share and post their “East Dallas stories” on our social media pages and on yard signs. The result was an overwhelmingly positive outpouring of support and community pride as our fans shared countless photos out and about in East Dallas along with numerous messages of what East Dallas means to them.

This post was contributed by Krystal Morris@KrystalNMorris


Friday, May 8, 2015

Millennials…We Aren’t All Job Hoppers! How to Reinforce this Message to Showcase Client Corporate Culture.

By now you’ve probably heard or read the term “millennials” in a handful of news stories. It seems like this term and angle is getting lots of play recently in the media. Even NPR has an ongoing broadcast about millennials called “New Boom.” As a millennial myself, I’ve taken an active interest in reading about my generation and how the media and the world view us. The perception of my generation runs the gamut from the positive descriptors – tech-savvy and philanthropic – to the less than glowing description as an entitled, “selfie-obsessed” generation moving from job to job as quick as we can. 

This last descriptor of the “job hopping” mentality gave me pause because I am still in my first job since graduation after more than 10 years; and, I can also name a handful of millennials in my group of friends who are still in their first jobs right out of college. To top it off, a few of my clients have millennials in their workforce who have been with the company 10+ years. This got me thinking, there must be a trend story to counteract the negative perception that classifies millennials as the job-hopping generation.

Leah (in green) in third year at C. Pharr - former client event, Plaza Style  
Whenever I’m working on developing any story idea for a client, I focus on strategy and key messages instead of simply pursuing a story because it’s “good press.” For this millennial angle, I asked myself: “Does this story idea have any value for clients beyond being a timely story about remaining at your first job? How does this idea relate to my client’s key messages versus just good publicity?” I quickly realized this media pitch would be a good opportunity for clients to highlight their engaging, positive corporate culture that encourages employees to hang on for the long-term and promotes employee retention. The story would prove to be a good opportunity to showcase their company as a good place to work. And, we all know the underlying message here for businesses – happy employees generally mean increased productivity and happy clients.

I went ahead with my pitch and the end result was a business feature in the Sunday section of the Dallas Morning News. Read on to see what my clients, friends and I had to say about millennials and why we’ve decided to stay put in our first job.

This post was contributed by Leah Ekmark Williams, APR. @leahcpc


Monday, May 4, 2015

My CPC Intern Experience

The experience and lessons that I've learned from the staff at C. Pharr and Company ink (CPC) are ones that will be applicable to wherever I go next. This was my first public relations internship, and I had no prior background in public relations before this job besides several classes I took at UT Arlington. I have studied specific campaigns and how to write public relations materials such as press releases, media advisories and fact sheets, but I quickly learned I needed more practice in order to hone my writing skills. 

On my first day at CPC, I went on a client meeting with Kathrine to Real Estate Tax Consultants (RETC). Going into the meeting I had no clue who the client was or what they did, but learned very quickly that RETC is a company that helps building owners lower their taxes by making changes internally. I felt that attending this client meeting on my first day was a very good way for me to jump into my internship. When I first thought of public relations, I thought about business to consumer, but I learned very quickly that public relations can also help businesses benefit from other businesses. Going to this client meeting on my first day helped me understand that I would be getting hands on experience with clients very quickly. 

After having my one-on-one meetings with all of the staff at CPC, I gained the knowledge about the career paths that public relations can lead towards. I also learned that a big part of finding public relations jobs is having different connections. Pitching to reporters is also a key component of the industry. Knowing and making connections with reporters is important if you'd like to get an article published about your client. Being able to correctly write a press release, or deliver a pitch to a reporter over the phone about a client is vital when trying to secure attention. 

Another important part of my internship was being able to participate in the PRSA Dallas Pro-Am day. During this event, I shadowed Mr. Cook who is the Assistant Vice President of Global Media Relations for AT&T. It was interesting for me to see the difference between a large corporation that has their own in-house public relations department and an agency like C. Pharr. They started the morning off with a meeting where they called different AT&T markets around the United States and got up to speed up on what was being said about AT&T on different social media platforms. They even had a large screen that monitored what people were saying, whether it was good or bad and also what people were saying about their competition.  

Some people say that if you are going to a job that feels like you are doing actual work, then you are not in the right profession; at CPC I feel as if I'm engaging with a team that is giving me invaluable information to better prepare me for my career and fascination with public relations. All in all, with the skills that I've gained working at CPC, I know that I will be able to fit into the industry without any hesitation.

This post was contributed by Mark Bullock II, CPC Spring Intern.