5 Steps to Take Before Your CEO Goes on Camera

By Bridgette Borst Ombres

Note: Before you commit to any media interview, make sure you’ve researched the outlet and reporter and have decided it’s a good idea to take the interview in the first place. In a crisis, refer to your crisis communications plan for more detailed guidance around engaging with media.

Need a toolkit for getting your executive camera-ready? You’ve come to the right place – this post is jam-packed with tips, a “cheat sheet” you can download and additional resources that will ensure your CEO aces his or her next interview and lands killer soundbites.

Develop 3-4 key points

The soundbite has been shrinking for years so with limited time to get the main point(s) across in an interview, make every second count.

Honing in on a few key points will keep your spokesperson focused. If he or she shows up for an interview with a laundry list of things to say, this waters down the message and may come at the cost of getting attention around the most important things your brand wants to get in front of stakeholders.

Role play

Interview scenarios allow the CEO to apply communications skills/techniques in real time and provides the executive with an opportunity to practice the toughest questions.

If time allows, always record the role play takes and critique them afterwards.

Review bridging, bump-and-run, commenting without commenting and turn table techniques.

The CEO should build a verbal “bridge” from the reporter’s question to his or her answer (referring back to tip #1).

If a reporter fires off a tricky question, make sure the executive understands how to “bump” the question with a quick answer (yes or no) and “run” back to the 3-4 key points.

Commenting without commenting: In straightforward terms, the executive should explain why they can’t say more (i.e., the interviewee should stay in his or her lane and shouldn’t weigh in on an issue or subject that isn’t related to his or her duties).

It’s perfectly OK for the CEO to pose a question and quickly “turn the table” to answer it. For example, “The real question here is: ‘how are we responding to the cyberattack?’ We have a plan…”

As a former television reporter, I can tell you there’s no phrase more damning to a spokesperson than “no comment.” The reporter (and viewers) hear, “I’m guilty!”

Straight from Mr. Media Training himself, here’s a great read on how to answer tough questions.

Eliminate umm’s, like’s, uh’s and so’s.

Get rid of the verbal litter – it doesn’t add anything. In fact, it takes away substance, can become distracting and makes the interviewee appear less intelligent and polished. Sometimes it’s difficult for people to recognize this bad habit themselves initially, so the spokesperson must train his or her ear to listen for it. That’s why recording role plays is so helpful.

During media training clients, here’s a short exercise I use to help people become aware of using filler words:

Ask them to pick any object in the room (i.e., printer, television, filing cabinet, etc.) and talk about it for 30 seconds. Make note of how many times they use a verbal filler and point it out to them afterwards. This helps the person be more attune to when they’re using fillers since most people don’t even realize they do it.

Practice positive body language

Since most communication is nonverbal, be sure not to overlook this step. Positive body language isn’t limited to remembering to smile and not shifting your weight. It’s important to run through energy, tone, eye contact, gestures and posture with your CEO (another reason why recording role plays is critical in preparing for a media interview – so you and the CEO can see any negative body language issues that should be addressed).

Forgive the cliché, but practice makes (almost) perfect. Repetition helps to internalize the key message points and reduces the risk of going off-message or completely bombing the interview. No matter how seasoned the spokesperson, being prepared is the best recipe for a successful interview. If you can, try to pre-interview the reporter to get a better sense of the story’s focus and questions.

Whether you’re preparing for your next media interview or prepping the CEO (or another spokesperson) for one – click here to reference this quick “cheat sheet.”

Interested in learning more about how to land a successful media interview? Check out this blog post on what not to do – “Media Interviews: The 7 Deadly Sins.”


 

Bridgette Borst Ombres is a former television news reporter turned PR and marketing professional with a decade of experience working in the communications field across agency, corporate and nonprofit sectors. Bridgette is the director of marketing and communications at a tech company in Pittsburgh and also consults for a variety of businesses.

She is a member of PRSA Pittsburgh, serves on the TEDxPittsburgh committee, the co-founder of Not Your Mama’s Book Club and volunteers as a mentor at both of her alma maters.

 

 

5 Secrets to Outrageous Success in the APR Process

By Ben Butler, APR

[ This is the fourth post in the APR Journey Series exploring the Accreditation in Public Relations credential and the journey to getting it. Check out the introductory post here. ]

So, by now you understand the process, you’ve checked your qualifications and you’re rip-roaring, ready to go. You’re probably wondering, “What’s the best plan of attack to momentously completing and succeeding at getting your APR credential?”

Here are 5 secrets to help you achieve success:

Secret 1: Set a Steady Pace

Just like a run, pace is the most important aspect at achieving success. In the APR process, you’ll need to set a pace that’s repeatable for the duration and gets you across the finish line.

Your first step is to submit an application. Once you receive approval to engage the process, you’ll have exactly one year to complete the journey. That may sound like a long time, but it’ll go far quicker than you think.

You’ll need to maintain a disciplined routine and high-tempo pace if you hope to finish. I’d recommend trying to complete this as soon as your schedule allows. If you happen to have the time available, this is especially relevant. Use availability to its maximum potential because you never know when a work or life event will disrupt your flow.

Secret 2: Start Studying for the Exam before You Present Your Panel Review Presentation

This piece of advice — given to me by former PRSA Pittsburgh Accreditation Chair Jeff Worden, APR — was a game-changer for my APR journey.

When given approval to start the APR process (Step 1), dive into the recommended texts and the official study guide. Be well-versed in that content before you even prepare for your Panel Review Presentation (Step 2).

The study process takes the longest to do, so it’s best to begin early and not save it for last (exam is Step 3). More than that, however, it’s a great refresher on the full scope of the practice of public relations. Shaking the dust off the full range of considerations for public relations will help frame your mentality through the rest of the process.

You’ll also be able to move from successful completion of your Panel Review right into the examination with serious momentum. That will pay dividends in the end.

Secret 3: Get a Study Buddy or Study Group

Entering the process with a buddy is worth considering. Together, you can study and hold each other accountable through the process.

Secret 4: Book Time Weekly for APR Activities

Doing APR activities on a “whenever” basis won’t work, especially with what needs completed. I recommend allotting one day a week to hunker down on the studying and preparation. Evenings and weekends seem to work best with most schedules.

Secret 5: Lean into Your Accreditation Chair

Leaning into your Accreditation Chair is the best decision you can make. Yes, you’re going to have a lot of questions, but I’d take things a step deeper.

  • Before you begin, consider having them review your application.
  • Ask them to review your materials and preparation work through the process.
  • Ask them for feedback on your Panel Review Presentation before setting it up. They’ve been there, they know the grading code and they can help make sure you’re successful.
  • Ask them for study tips and connections with relevant professionals who can help mentor you in expertise areas you’re curious about.

 

Need help making this a success? Get in touch with me — I’m happy to be your sherpa.


 

Ben Butler, APR, is the client services director for Top Hat, an award-winning marketing communications firm in Pittsburgh, and the Accreditation Director for PRSA Pittsburgh. In his past life he served as a public relations guy for a motorsports complex, director of inbound partnerships for an inbound marketing agency and head of communications for a software startup. He’s been named a Top Under 40 Communicator and is Accredited in Public Relations (APR)—a distinction held by less than 20-percent of all practitioners.

3 Customer Experience Strategies You Can Steal From McDonald’s, Red Bull and Domino’s

 [ This article originally appeared on The Way, Sprinklr’s content hub. As one of PRSA Pittsburgh’s sponsors, each month Sprinklr will be delivering you with some insights into how you can use technology to make your marketing more efficient and effective. ]

The sharing economy has taught us that customers crave experiences, not things. This isn’t just a platitude; it’s evidence of a significant trend in spending behavior–especially among millennials. And to stay ahead of the game, marketers need to shift their strategies accordingly.

The good news is that advertising is no longer limited to buying ads and renting billboards. Those tactics simply sell products. On social media, however, marketers can move beyond one-sided interactions and create lasting experiences that engage customers across multiple platforms.

That may seem tough to do, but leading food and beverage brands like McDonald’s, Red Bull, and Domino’s have already mastered the art of building customer experiences that keep audiences coming back for more.

Here are three top-notch customer experience strategies you can steal from them.

1. Use Customer Insights to Deliver What People Love

It’s hard to create a unified customer experience when your brand has over 36,000 locations, 28,000 social accounts, and 60 social mentions per minute. That’s the challenge McDonald’s faced in 2015.

The company saw an opportunity to delight customers by offering the Egg McMuffin all day long–instead of just for breakfast. But before they could make this change across 14,000 US locations, they needed to be sure customers were on board.

By partnering with Sprinklr, McDonald’s was able to sift through social conversations dating all the way back to 2008, and pinpoint mentions of all-day breakfast. Once they saw that demand was out there, they prepared to launch their All Day Breakfast campaign.

The brand began by messaging the first person who ever tweeted about wanting McDonald’s breakfast 24/7.

McDonald’s then sent 12,000 personalized tweets directly to its customers, instead of just shouting its news to the masses.

 After making this commitment to customer experience, McDonald’s saw a 10% year over year improvement in public sentiment. It also drove company growth after 14 consecutive quarters of decline.

McDonald’s didn’t need to put up a big billboard or pay for social ads. It just needed to listen to the voice of the customer and use insights to offer something people love.

2. Promote the Culture, Not the Product

If Red Bull just promoted an energy drink, it wouldn’t have 47 million Facebook followers and 5.8 million YouTube subscribers. Just look at similar brands like 5-Hour Energy and Rockstar, which have much smaller social followings.

Red Bull set itself apart by moving beyond the label of a “beverage brand” and transforming into a full-blown media company. It built an entire culture around extreme sports and high-octane stunts, offering thrilling and inspiring customer experiences across multiple platforms. Oh, and it happens to sell energy drinks.

Take Red Bull TV, for example. The brand launched its own Netflix-like hub of original sports, music, and adventure content. Recent top picks include the snowboarding film, “The Art of Flight,” and “Who is JOB?” a series that takes you around the world with pro surfer Jamie O’Brien.

Red Bull TV

Image source

Red Bull TV even became the first branded content channel to stream on Apple TV. Meaning, it’s right up there with other apps like HBO GO and ESPN.

The company also launches livestreamed events like the historic Red Bull Stratos campaign. In October 2012, skydiver Felix Baumgartner broke records for the highest and fastest freefall jump when he lept from “the edge of space,” 24 miles above land. The adrenaline-pumping event was livestreamed, and it all happened in Red Bull’s name. It also broke the record for the most-watched livestream in YouTube history, with roughly 8 million people tuning in at the same time.

The highlights video on Red Bull’s YouTube channel now has 41 million views and counting:

Red Bull doesn’t have to tell people that their energy drinks are good. Instead, they show them what high-energy adventures look like, and inspire them to create exciting experiences of their own.

3. Make Life Easier for Them With New Technology

Ordering pizza is pretty easy to do. But Domino’s found a way to make it even easier. In May 2015, the brand became the first to let people place an order with an emoji. All customers needed was a Dominos.com account and a saved Easy Order. Then they could just tweet or text an emoji to the pizza company, and receive their order in 30 minutes.

Thousands of people ordered with emojis on the first day, and over 500 people signed up for an account to take part in the fun. The campaign also earned 1.2 billion media impressions, and press attention from Jimmy Fallon, The Today Show, TIME, and Good Morning America. Ellen DeGeneres even used emojis to order pizzas for her live studio audience.

This new ordering system didn’t stand alone, either. It was part of the Domino’s AnyWare initiative, which enabled customers to place orders via Smart TVs, Apple Watch, Ford Sync, Google Home, and Amazon Echo.

This venture helped prove that Domino’s cares about the customer experience and is willing to take risks to delight its audiences. The brand essentially changed the language of online ordering. It allowed customers to use trendy graphics–emojis–to place an order without leaving their their Twitter feed or text app.

To put a cherry (or pepperoni, maybe?) on top, it also encourages customers to associate the oft-used pizza emoji with Domino’s, and not with a competitor like Pizza Hut or Papa John’s.

Provide Your Audience With Memorable Experiences

Customer experience isn’t just about offering great service–though that is important. It’s about building a community that keeps customers engaged, even after they’ve made a purchase. It’s about showing people that you’re not just out to push a sale; you’re committed to helping them improve their lives.

Take these lessons from McDonald’s, Red Bull, and Domino’s. Use data to understand what your audiences want. “Wow” your customers with new technologies. And be the voice of your culture, not just your products. So when people go looking for great experiences, they’ll find your brand, and they won’t be disappointed.


 

The author, Ben Waldron, is a former journalist and PR professional, who joined the Content Marketing team in 2016 as Associate Editor.

Letting the Cat Out of the Bag: 6 Things I’ve Learned about Leadership

By Bridgette Borst Ombres 

Imagine you’re driving hard to bring the development of a new campaign across the finish line when your team just learns the client’s business goal has changed – a surprising, unwelcome twist on a Friday afternoon that squashes any weekend plans.

There is one team member who jumps right in with solutions, eager to recommend a new course of action while another individual starts asking questions.

Ever think the first person to come up with fresh, new ideas is the smartest in the room – or the leader of the group?

I’m going to let the cat out of the bag.

Next time you’re in a group setting, sit back and watch the people who lead with questions instead of answers. It’s one of the tell-tale signs of a leader.

As we start to unpack leadership in this post, I’ll start by admitting that early on in my career there was a time I believed “boss” equaled leader. The corner office. Expensive car. Fancy title.

Don’t get me wrong – a boss can be a leader, but not necessarily. A leader could be the person sitting next to you who shares your stapler. Most of us have been in situations where the real leader of a team or even a whole organization, is not the boss. Someone else is. Leadership has nothing to do with age, a job title or one’s position in the hierarchy of an organization.

A decade later as a communications professional, I’ve reported directly to and worked with CEOs; done a fair amount of traveling for business; managed teams and met a lot of great people both in PR and across other industries.

Based on my mashup of experiences in the workplace, here’s what I can tell you about leadership:

People may respect the boss but everyone loves the leader.

That’s because they are skilled at emotional intelligence. They practice humility and they are positive and approachable. This guy right here is a model for just that – not to mention, he’s one of PR’s finest.

Great leaders pass the credit and take the blame.

This means when you win the RFP – the leader gives a little more kudos to the team than earned and when an ad falls flat, accepts a bit more of the responsibility than deserved.

Leaders are masters of effective communication.

Learning to communicate effectively is one of the most important life skills and it’s especially critical in public relations.

If you want to lead well, begin with the end in mind.

That’s called vision.

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” – Steven Covey

Excellent leaders work hard to understand the other person’s perspective. A lot of people listen with the intent to reply, not understand. Don’t pretend to be listening and enter the conversation only to get your point across.

Leaders act like winners before they start winning.

Remember that confident, talented kid in your theater class who is now on Broadway or the super-driven, recent grad who started as a marketing assistant and is now the CMO of a Fortune 100 company? Leaders start with having the right mindset.

While leadership can be defined in many ways – to me, the legendary John C. Maxwell says it best:Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.”

Think Gandhi. The single most important part of the Indian freedom struggle against colonial rule.

MLK, a visionary whose tireless and inspirational work to advance the civil rights movement in the United States continues to live today.

Mother Theresa: Nobel Peace Prize winner and humanitarian who fought for the rights of the sick and helpless.

Looking back at historic leaders, some have brought peace to troubled lands while others have even strewn corruption. Regardless, the one thing they all have in common is the power to influence people. It’s having the ability to turn vision into reality.

Contrary to my recent-grad viewpoint years ago, a boss is simply a person who is in charge of the workplace. It’s an individual who is focused on process, but not always people.

As I put the pen down on this leadership post, I’ll leave you with this –

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, become more, you are a leader,” John Quincy Adams.

Interested in learning more about leadership and hearing different perspectives? Check out these killer TED talks here and here.


 

Bridgette Borst Ombres is a former television news reporter turned PR and marketing professional with a decade of experience working in the communications field across agency, corporate and nonprofit sectors. Bridgette is the director of marketing and communications at a tech company in Pittsburgh and also consults for a variety of businesses.

She is a member of PRSA Pittsburgh, serves on the TEDxPittsburgh committee, the co-founder of Not Your Mama’s Book Club and volunteers as a mentor at both of her alma maters.

 

Employee Communications: Tactics June Issue Recap

By Bre Stephens

Employees are the backbone of an organization—which is why it’s important to create a culture in which they can thrive while keeping an open, effective line of communication.

With a focus on employee communications, the June issue of Tactics provides readers with a variety of insights into utilizing modern internal communication platforms, increasing productivity in the workplace and implementing successful strategies to keep employees engaged.

Email Sign Out: Why Some Communications Teams Are Switching to Slack

  • Say goodbye to old-fashioned email and hello to Slack. Natan Edelsburg, executive vice president at Muck Rack, talks about how PR teams and agencies can benefit from Slack’s modern twist on internal communications.

How a PR Agency Can Maximize Company Culture

  • Catriona Harris, CEO of Uproar PR, discusses how agencies can maximize company culture by hiring employees who mesh well and creating a welcoming, nurturing office environment.

Play at Work: Increasing Communication and Productivity in the Workplace

  • Who said play was only for kids? Samantha Roblin, general manager, ZogSports Corporate Culture Business, tells readers how play in the workplace can foster a sense of community—leading to increased productivity, morale and engagement.

Food for Thought: Amy Jenkins on Internal Communications at Chipotle

  • Get a glimpse into internal communications at Chipotle Mexican Grill’s as Amy Jenkins, internal communications manager, explains how her team handled the foodborne-illness outbreak crisis. She also offers best practices for engaging employees and effectively communicating with them in crises.

4 Lessons From 4 Years of Running an Agency

  • Ben Butler, APR, founder and client services director for Top Hat, shares four lessons he’s learned along his journey running an agency—one of which is understanding how business works.

Read the latest issue of Tactics here.


 

Bre is an assistant account executive at Havas PR. Follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.

Announcing PRSA Pittsburgh’s Second Annual Women in Business Event, Carving Your Niche

Unfortunately Carving Your Niche has been cancelled.  We look forward to meeting you at a future PRSA Pittsburgh event.

Thank you for your understanding!

 

While Pittsburgh is in the midst of a revitalization so, too, is our PR community.  It’s growing by leaps and bounds.  And with dozens of organizations and events happening all the time, why Carving Your Niche?  Simple: we wanted to create collaboration between peers, to start a conversation and to build connections with one another.  And what better way to do that than to host an evening featuring some of the top businesswomen in Pittsburgh?

I’d like to invite you to join us at SLATE, a newly opened event space produced by Shayla Hawkins Events, on Thursday, July 27 beginning at 5:30 p.m.  Grab a drink, grab a seat and get ready to be inspired.  Each of our presenters will share her experience, insights and tips for Carving Your Niche in any industry.  2017 speakers include:

  • Andi Perelman, Manager of New Media, Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Kelley Skoloda, Chief InfluencHer and Angel Investor, KS Consulting and Capital
  • Betsy Benson, Publisher, Pittsburgh Magazine

But how will we know if Carving Your Niche has been successful?  Well, if one person leaves feeling empowered to take the next step in their career then we’ll know we did our job.  And if folks feel like they’ve found their niche?  Even better.

Whether you’re an executive leader, a senior manager or an emerging professional, this is the event for you.  Member tickets are $45 and non-member tickets are $60.  Register here

We look forward to seeing you next month!

FAQ: Am I Qualified to Go for My Accreditation (APR)?

By Ben Butler, APR

[ This is the third post in the APR Journey Series exploring the Accreditation in Public Relations credential and the journey to getting it. Check out the introductory post here. ]

Beyond the process itself, the most frequently asked question in the Accreditation in Public Relations Process is: “Am I qualified to go for my Accreditation in Public Relations (APR)?”

PRSA and the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB) — the governing bodies managing APR — recommend a minimum of five years of professional communications experience. The process itself also tests historical knowledge of public relations, of the various niches of public relations, business acumen and vettes your hallmark career case study.

Curious if your credentials have prepared you for the Accreditation journey? Here are a couple of baseline questions to begin asking:

Question 1: Do You Have a Track Record Being a Strategist?

In my mind, the five-year mark can be a helpful baseline, but doesn’t necessarily qualify or disqualify you. It really comes down to your experience being a strategist, rather than a tactician.

That being said, you could have 20 years of experience, but no strategic experience. Or you could have four years of experience (one year shy of the recommendation), but a lively career of strategic experience.

Your strategic experience will be put to the test through the entire process, but is really focused upon in Step 2 of the process, the Panel Review. Here, you present your best case study to a panel of APRs. This case study should exemplify the Four-Step Process, showcasing Research, Planning, Implementation and Evaluation.

If you weren’t integral in a strategic communications plan, I’d recommend pursuing one before going through the process.

Question 2: Do You Wield Well-Rounded Knowledge About the Core Areas of Our Profession?

In all honesty, it’s unlikely you’ll have rounded out experience covering every niche of the profession.

What’s important, however, is that you have a full understanding of the 12 core functions of public relations: trusted counsel, internal communication, media relations, community relations, external communication, research, planning, implementing, evaluating, publicity/special events, issues management and crisis communication.

If you can’t speak knowledgeably about those 12 core functions, and apply the concepts to critical thinking, you’ll need to gain this to be successful.

These concepts will be tested in the Panel Review and extensively in the online examination.

So Far So Good? There’s More to Consider

On a baseline level, answering the above questions can help determine if you’re ready or not. If you’ve checked off those boxes, I’d say you can feel fairly confident.

There are still some considerations to explore before committing fully though. I’d recommend checking out the following resources:

Need help evaluating your credentials? Get in touch with me — I’m happy to be your sherpa.


 

Ben Butler, APR, is the client services director for Top Hat, an award-winning marketing communications firm in Pittsburgh, and the Accreditation Director for PRSA Pittsburgh. In his past life he served as a public relations guy for a motorsports complex, director of inbound partnerships for an inbound marketing agency and head of communications for a software startup. He’s been named a Top Under 40 Communicator and is Accredited in Public Relations (APR)—a distinction held by less than 20-percent of all practitioners.

From Student to Professional: Make the Move and Join PRSA

By Jordan Mitrik

Dear PRSSA graduates:

Congratulations! You’ve successfully earned a college degree and are ready to enter the professional world.

What’s first on your post-grad to-do list? Aside from taking a huge sigh of relief, we suggest you join PRSA as an associate member. Here’s why:

We’ve got a Young Professionals section dedicated just for you.

PRSA provides benefits and opportunities to all levels of professionals, including recent grads. Our Young Professionals Section is dedicated to making the transition from student to professional as smooth as possible. Through events, workshops, agency tours, blog posts and other initiatives led by our board members, you can learn how to launch your career in no time.

You’ll have the opportunity to network and find a mentor.

Trying to navigate your career path your first year can be challenging. Don’t go through it alone. When you join PRSA, you will be immediately introduced to a number of seasoned professionals who are willing to help you find your place in the industry.

Having a mentor is an investment of your time that is almost guaranteed to pay off tenfold in your early years as a professional. Look to see who is already around you or who you can reach out to for advice. Take the initiative and schedule a coffee date with a professional and see how you can both benefit from this new found relationship.

You can continue to learn about the industry you’ve developed a passion for.

Now that college is over, it’s up to you to gain new skills and continue to enhance your education about the industry.

PRSA offers programs that help sharpen your skills and expand your public relations toolkit. With a PRSA membership, you will receive the latest industry information directly to your inbox, have access to members-only webinars and learn from industry leaders by reading PRSA’s award-winning newspaper Tactics. Our professional development events and workshops are also great resources to stay up-to-date on trends and build critical knowledge.

There’s no better time like the present to enhance your career and professional development. Take that next step and join PRSA – we even have a special deal for recent graduates! Check out our rates here. If you have any questions about membership, contact our 2017 Membership Chair Meredith Amoroso.


Jordan Mitrik is a junior content creator at BRUNNER, a top U.S. full-service Marketing/Advertising agency in Pittsburgh. He also serves as web content manager for PRSA Pittsburgh. Connect with Jordan on LinkedIn.

Using Social Media to Drive Sales and Deliver Better Customer Experiences

[ This article originally appeared on The Way, Sprinklr’s content hub. As one of PRSA Pittsburgh’s sponsors, each month Sprinklr will be delivering you with some insights into how you can use technology to make your marketing more efficient and effective. ]

When social media came onto the scene, not everyone gave it the credit that it deserved, but some rolled up their sleeves and got to work.

Good companies quickly realized what it meant for them – that they needed to engage customers in a personalized way on all social platforms. Better companies figured out what it meant for customers – that they expected brands to deliver these personalized experiences more efficiently than before. The best companies did all that and more – they used social to drive more human, intuitive, and seamless customer experiences at scale, and they rewrote the rule book.

Here are a few ways that big brands are using social to improve customer experience and increase sales.

Use Proactive Customer Care as an Upsell Opportunity

Customer care used to be siloed and reactive. Customers would buy a product, and brands wouldn’t interact with them until they placed a formal customer service complaint or bought something new.

But the best customer care today is quite the opposite – it involves listening to, and engaging with customers across all of the social channels.

Take, for example, a large consumer athletics company – within minutes of a runner complaining on Facebook about her shoes, the care team is alerted. The team can see that the customer is preparing for a marathon, and that she’s been a loyal shopper and advocate for quite some time.

They take this information, look at social chatter around the race, and learn that there’s rain on the forecast. When they engage the customer, not only can they offer solutions to her shoe problem, they can also offer discounts and suggestions about gear for running races in the rain. These suggestions lead to the customer purchasing additional gear worth 3x the original shoes.

What starts as a negative situation becomes a value-add experience for the customer, who will likely amplify her brand love on social and post pictures in her new gear on race day.

Leverage Advocates to Speak on Your Behalf

Brands once had control over what was said about them. Now, people prefer to hear what their peers have to say. Customers would rather turn to advocates for authentic and genuine information than be served ads.

This departure from traditional methods has an upside – the reach can be far greater. With 116 million followers on Instagram, Selena Gomez has over 40x more followers than People Magazine, and nearly 60x more than Us Weekly. The potential of using an influencer like Ms. Gomez isn’t lost on brands, but they do struggle with how to select influencers and cultivate relationships.

Some are turning to technology to identify and engage with brand advocates that are loved by customers. A large consumer company, for example, follows individuals who are vocal and influential among their customers. They monitor customer sentiment around these individuals to see which are the most loved.

They build relationships with those individuals and start marketing together. This allows them to reach more customers than they could on their own, in a way that feels less promotional to consumers than traditional advertising.

Unite Siloed Teams to Engage Authentically in Real Time

Gone are the days when posting ads was all you had to do to drive sales. Pushing brand content out into the digital world and leaving it there doesn’t cut it anymore.

Consumers increasingly expect to have in-the-moment, two-way conversations with brands on their preferred social channels. Smart companies track social mentions, and engage with customers in a personalized way.

A telecommunication company abandoned clunky manual processes, and brought down response times from weeks to minutes. It streamlined technology to eliminate over a dozen different systems and now coordinates across functional teams and local partners in multiple geographies through one unified platform. As a result, disparate teams have a unified view of their customers and are able to engage with them authentically in real time.

Automate and Integrate Advertising to Increase Agility

Consumers see more online advertising than ever before, but the old CMO adage, “I know 50% of my ads work…just not which 50%” prevails.

In response, many companies are learning that it’s not about large campaigns based on volume, but many shorter, smaller, more relevant initiatives shaped by real-time customer feedback.

A leading technology company with a 10 million dollar advertising spend on Black Friday uses a Social Command Center to gain insights, identify key audience segments, and hone real-time bidding to maximize business results. They have integrated advertising technology that automatically kills low performing ads, and targets look-alike audiences when ads are successful.

It’s the difference between serving 100 people a day-long buffet, and giving four groups of 25 their favorite lunch. The outcome is that companies spend more efficiently on advertising, because customers are only served ads that they’re interested in seeing.

Use Automated Technology to Localize Social Presence at Scale

Another big challenge for companies with a large sales force and distributed partners lies in simultaneously scaling a social strategy, and keeping content both personalized and relevant to local audiences.

Ultimately, irrelevant content won’t be effective. But getting approval for every outbound post can leave local agents in social media limbo – unable to get anything done in a timely manner.

As a solution, some companies have launched social portals with content that agents can quickly localize, thereby reserving valuable time with customers. Others in highly regulated industries like insurance and finance closely monitor activity with automated rules and workflows to ensure agents do not overstate product attributes, and adhere to industry regulations to avoid company liability or a crisis.

Thus customer engagement can happen in real time, employees see increased efficiency in content creation and distribution, and brands can be sure that only approved language and assets end up online.

Create End-to-End Shopping Experiences on Social

Many customers do product research before stepping into a store, and compare prices on the shelf with what they see on their mobile devices. Consumers are increasingly turning to social channels to shop and companies have begun to realize that being in the “right time and place” means bringing the store to the customer.

A large retail brand supports the entire customer journey on social. Their ads to new customers include social buy buttons. Products can be purchased without the customer leaving the platform, and delivery dates can be tracked in app as well. Any customer care needs can be addressed through the same platform, and customers can be alerted about upcoming sales.

This type of end-to-end social shopping experience decreases friction in the buyer journey, making the customer’s life much easier.

These are just a few examples of how big companies are using social media to drive business objectives. But there’s an abundance of stories of companies providing incredible customer experiences waiting to be told.

Getting to a place where you’ve mastered putting your customers first through social will allow you to be prepared for the next big thing. When it comes, you can roll up your sleeves, get to work, and keep the foundation of your company – your customers – happy.

If you’re not quite there yet, begin by reviewing your social customer journey, and reconsider your strategy with unrelenting emphasis on the customer. Everyone else will follow suit – because they’ll have to.


 

The author, Dennis Chen, is VP of Strategy and Transformation at Sprinklr based in Singapore. He has held leadership roles at BCG, IBM and Cisco across Asia Pacific, United States, and Europe.

Grow in Your Career: Tactics May Issue Recap

By Bre Stephens

While one chapter is ending for many college students, another begins as they leap into the world of PR. Whether you’re a recent grad or a seasoned PR pro, the May issue of Tactics is packed with tips and tricks for taking your career to the next level.

Dig into this month’s issue to learn how to kickstart your career, flourish as a young professional and make a name for yourselfwhile standing out from the rest.

You’re Hired: 8 Secrets to Help You in the Job Application Process

  • Want to know how to differentiate yourself from the crowd during your job hunt? Danny Rubin, author of “Wait, How Do I Write This Email?”, offers eight tips for making yourself memorable, such as tapping into the power of storytelling. “Learn to tell your own story and doors will open.”

Life After College: How to Attract Potential Employers

  • One of the toughest challenges new grads face is standing out from their competition. Ron Culp, Fellow PRSA, says that sharpening your literacy skills, crafting an impactful personal statement and boasting your extracurricular work will help with the transition from student to professional.

4 Ways to Continue Growing in Your Career

  • Hanna Porterfield, senior account executive, Development Counsellors International, discusses how PR pros can continue to thrive in the early stages of their careers. One tip? Cultivate your writing skills by launching a personal blog.

Standing Out: What Recruiters Look For in Job Candidates

  • What does your online presence say about you and your career? Stephen Dupont, APR, vice president of public relations and branded content for Pocket Hercules, explains the importance of having a strong digital footprint to attract recruiters and land the job.

News Team: Newsroom Lessons That Benefit Young PR Professionals

  • Bill Atkinson, partner in 212 Communications, shares the best way for PR pros to successfully work with the press: think like them.

Read the latest issue of Tactics here.


Bre is an assistant account executive at Havas PR. Follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.