Category Archives: Blog

Authentic Communications: Rethinking What We Say During the Pandemic

The past few weeks have created quite a disruption, but far and away the question we’ve been asked the most is: “Should I still be sending regular communications out to my key stakeholders?”  

The answer is “yes,” but with a caveat. This means you absolutely can and should communicate with your various audiences, but what you say, how, when, and how often you say it must be considered through an entirely different lens than that of just a few weeks ago. This applies to internal audiences, who need an up-to-the-minute understanding of what’s expected of them, and external audiences, who can and should be reminded of your presence, actions, offerings, contribution, and encouraging thoughts 

During this time of uncertainty, you can’t afford to go dark with anyone who matters to your business, whether employeescustomers, investors, supporters, patients, or other stakeholders. Now, though, you must talk with them on a new timetable and in a much more direct, yet nuanced, voice 

Far and away, the best thing to do throughout is to ask yourself: How do I want people to communicate with me during this challenging time? One way to approach this is to think in terms of three areas: 1) Content 2) Context, and 3) Timing 

1.Content: Would you want to read it? 

A colleague mentioned how annoyed he was that so many companies were incorporating coronavirus messaging into their email marketing campaigns yet offered nothing helpful or relevant. The next time you consider sending an inappropriate email to a prospective or existing client, think twice 

The best litmus test for your CRM and other communiques is the mirror. Before you send something out, ask yourself if it would benefit you if you were on the receiving end. Would you find it helpful and relevant, or just a waste of your time? Is it authentic or does it smack of opportunism? Does it contain information so useful that you would actually want to share it with someone? If you can answer yes to most or all of those questions, send it. 

Sometimes the most useful content is something that is counterintuitive to what you might normally expect to receive. For example, inspirational quotes can be helpful in times of crisis and stressA genuine, shared sentiment from one professional to another is authenticNow is the time to reflect and reach out with genuine concern and an attitude of service.    

2.Context: We all know we’re in a coronavirus pandemic! 

How many emails have you gotten in the past week that started with something like, “Coronavirus, the deadly international pandemic, has recently brought business to a halt …” or, “In this time of unprecedented disruption caused by the deadly COVID-19 virus…”  

If your answer is “too many!” you’re not alone! We all know what happened, so there’s no need to start every email with it. Rather, begin with something that is relevant to the readerFor example, a computer networking company might start with: “Best tech tools for working at home during the pandemic.” Or, if you are a nonprofit, consider an approach like this: “4 Ways to Make an Impact and Help Others During the COVID-19 Crisis.” This is useful information that may help people and organizations during this difficult time.   

As we recently shared in an article on internal crisis communications on O’Dwyer’s, first and foremost employees need to know where they stand–every single day. Be clear and consistent, and above all else don’t keep them guessing. It all comes back to what you would want to experience. The same holds true with such key stakeholders as customers, students, supporters, investors, patients, and distributors. Just because in-person meetings and travel have halted doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep communications strong 

Over the past few weeks, how many conference calls and meetings have begun by talking about the bad news? Too many. Start by saying you hope everyone is doing okay, and that you’d like to start with the business agenda and hold off any conversation about coronavirus until the end of the meeting. Otherwise, you stand to spend the first 10-15 minutes not focusing on why you are all there in the first place.   

3.Timing: Be timely, or better yet, get there ahead of time. 

These days, with sheltering in place, time moves to its own strange beatit’s easy to forget whether it’s Tuesday or Thursday and if a call is at 2PM or 4PM. Days blur and what was true an hour ago can already have been replaced by new information–or misinformation. If you want to build a positive, productive relationship with your audience, communicate with them in real time, and look ahead, not back. What happened yesterday can seem like week ago, and no one wants to dwell on the past in this new reality. They want hope. 

As with any unexpected situation or crisis, if you look closely enough, you’ll find ways to be of service. You’ll unearth viable avenues to be an integral part of the conversationand the solution. Now, with weekdays blurring into weekends, we are no longer bound by when is a “good time” to send a social post or email campaign. The same thing applies to PR. Previously, our experience demonstrated that the best time to send a news release or distribute it on the wire was first thing in the morning on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Over the past two weeks, we’ve gotten unprecedented pickup in late afternoons and on weekends. This is due to the fact that we are presently on a 24/7/365 news cycle.  

It is impossible to predict the future, even what will happen in the coming weeks, but to remain relevant, it’s critical to plan and execute strategic communications. Now more than ever, timelines should be developed and adhered toTiming has been altered, but you can still create a comms. roadmap of where you are and where you want to go 

If your organization needs help with crisis communications, PR, issues managementor COVID-19 communications strategy, contact Chris Rosica at PR@rosica.com or call (201) 806-6543 x 202. 

Internal Coronavirus Communication Strategies

Given the new business reality, agency President Chris Rosica outlines 7 Essential Internal Communication Strategies for dealing with the coronavirus crisis.  

His seven internal comms. imperatives include: 

  1. Internal Communications First Communicate with your team frequently and proactively.  
  2. Lead With Candor  In times of crisis, as with COVID-19, leaders and managers must be forthcoming and foster an environment of open communication.  
  3. Embrace  &  Communicate a “Never Give Up” AttitudePerseverance is required to maintain team spirit. This spirit can make or break a company, institution, or nonprofit. Make “never give up” your mantra. 
  4. Encourage Innovation Now is the time to reward creativity and encourage managers and staff to create new business opportunities. Your top people will align with this call to action.  
  5. Now’s the Time To Bolster Technology – The new work-from-home ecosystem warrants organizations do all they can to ensure connectivity and productivity. 
  6. Avoid Micromanaging, But Be Sure To Manage  Have managers connect with employees daily or even multiple times each day. Understand their challenges, where they need training and support, and how you can best support the team. 
  7. Adjust Internal Comms as RequiredTweak internal communications to ensure you remain relevant, supportive, and of optimal service to your customers.  

Not only do these practices help your staffbut maximize your chances of success.  

Read Rosica’s article to learn more about the coronavirus internal communication strategies your organization should adopt. 

Washington Examiner Shares Chris Rosica’s View on Storytelling in Times of Crisis

In yesterday’s Washington Examiner, COVID-19 crisis communications expert Chris Rosica was asked to comment on Dr. Deborah Birx’s story delivered at the White House’s daily coronavirus briefing. Dr. Birx shared her grandmother’s heart-wrenching story and a plea not to be the person who introduces the virus to a vulnerable person. According to Washington Examiner reporter Rob Crilly, Dr. Birx said, in reference to the Spanish flu epidemic, that her “grandmother Leah lived with a lifetime of guilt after bringing flu home from school, she said.”  

In the article, Crilly states: “Chris Rosica, a crisis communications expert, said storytelling made people tune in, remember the message, and, most importantly, share it. Birx, he said, had a powerful ability to connect with her audience.” Rosica added, “When it comes to storytelling, personal stories are often the most effective ways to communicateThey not only suck people in, but there’s also an emotional element beyond the facts and the science.” 

 

To view the entire story click here https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/immunologist-mother-granddaughter-how-dr-deborah-birx-is-humanizing-the-coronavirus-pandemic. 

Best Practices for Coronavirus Communications & Preparedness  – By Chris Rosica

On March 11, 2020, the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) officially reached pandemic status, which, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), means the “worldwide spread of a new disease.”

Regardless of whether you are a school, nonprofit, Integrated Delivery Network (IDN), corporation, transportation provider, municipality, NGO, or other entity, it is vital to know the facts and communicate proactively with all stakeholders-using clear, compassionate, and understandable messages. This not only demonstrates leadership but reduces everyone’s stress levels and instills trust among key stakeholders.

In times of crisis, you must prepare operationally. At the same time, you must prepare to effectively communicate as well. These fundamentals will guide you in successfully planning and communicating during this time of heightened public concern:

  1. Swiftly Establish Operational Protocols & Procedures

The first step is to create a Coronavirus Crisis Team. This should consist of such senior executives as CEO, SVP of HR, SVP of Communications, COO, CMO, CFO, CTO, CISO, GM, and department heads (e.g., sales, facilities, supply chain, etc.). This team should meet and establish strategic imperatives, communication protocols, and a meeting rhythm.

For many organizations, the bulk of the work required centers on establishing business continuity and human resource policies for coronavirus. For others that serve the public, the focus should be public safety, policy, and clear, thorough communications.

There is a great deal to determine from an organizational perspective. Depending on your organizational structure, your Crisis Team will want to discuss and agree on such policies and systems as:

  • Continuity – This is the most critical piece as the livelihood of workers depends on the livelihood of the organization. Proper planning ensures you’ll be able to serve your students, patients, constituents, customers, consumers, and other stakeholders—even if you cannot open your facility, company, store, school, restaurant, or operation’s doors. This means getting creative and using the Internet to promote internal collaboration and better serve your publics. If appropriate, telemedicine, at-home instruction, and home-delivery options should be explored and implemented. In this time of adaptation, it’s imperative to make sure your people understand their roles and your expectations in the new service/product delivery structure.
  • Creating a Safer Workplace – If an employee has symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, or fever, immediately encourage them to self-quarantine and seek medical attention to be tested for coronavirus. In addition: actively encourage sick employees to stay home and remain in contact with their doctors—and implement rigorous environmental cleaning protocols.
  • Reporting Structure – Ask employees to alert HR if they’ve tested positive for coronavirus (or if a family member or friend has). This should immediately trigger internal procedures and communications to inform and guide stakeholders (keeping names and details strictly confidential). Healthcare providers should report COVID-19 cases to their local or state department of health (DOH), which, in turn, informs the CDC. According to the CDC: “Persons who are placed under active monitoring or facilitated self-monitoring should follow instructions provided by their local health department or occupational health professionals, as appropriate.” As we know, this includes a two-week quarantine period.
  • Sick time – Given the spread of coronavirus, you may have to modify this policy and add a section for pandemics and epidemics. This is particularly true when a longer quarantine period is being recommended by the medical community, WHO, and CDC.
  • Technology – Whether or not you are providing laptops, tablets, or other mobile devices to employees, you will want to establish email and social media policies surrounding this or any other pandemic (update your social policy and, if you don’t have one, create one—and include language on epidemics and pandemics). Remind team members that they should take precautions and avoid at all costs clicking on links in emails as there are a flood of phishing scams, many of which use coronavirus scare tactics. Should they need information regarding the pandemic beyond what you will be providing, they should seek guidance only from the CDC, WHO, and local DOH websites. They should avoid seeking advice given on social media channels altogether.
  • Tracking COVID-19 – One member of the Crisis Team should be responsible for monitoring the CDC and WHO throughout the day for any new alerts, updates, or guidelines. This information will be disseminated to internal stakeholders and, in some instances, shared with the external stakeholders outlined in #2, below.
  • Travel – To protect the workforce and the public, guidelines and policies surrounding travel must be established and followed for all employees. A European travel ban was put into effect by President Trump on the evening of March 11, 2020. See the WHO website for travel advice.
  • Work-from-home – You’ll also want to update this policy and communicate what’s expected from team members and what they can expect of you—letting them know upfront that the situation is fluid and may change based on the pandemic’s trajectory and the CDC’s guidance.
  1. Communicate Internally with Clarity & Detailed Information

In times of a public health crisis, communication and coordination are essential. Glen Nowak, director of the Center for Health & Risk Communication at the University of Georgia and former director of media relations at CDC says it is crucial to eliminate mixed messaging. Nowak says this confusion can be problematic “because it communicates that people who are providing guidance aren’t on the same page.”

Successful communications start with employees and internal stakeholders. With coronavirus, it is no different. This means communicating—ongoing—with stakeholders (patients, staff, partners, customers, board of directors, investors, suppliers, local government, and others) about the pandemic—how it’s impacting the organization and those you serve.

Now is the time for CEOs and top executive to communicate with employees and stakeholders and reassure them by stating the steps the organization is taking. He/she should record an organic (not highly produced) 60-second video—on a current model smart phone­—describing the current state of affairs, steps being taken (to disinfect surfaces and protect people), what is planned next and why. This can supplement such written communications as direct mail pieces, emails, texts, and social posts. Then, have another C-level executive communicate regularly and as things progress. Chief executives should remain visible and communicate regularly to bolster confidence.

Internal communications should include but not be limited to:

  • Your concern and commitments.
  • Updated policies and procedures, with an emphasis on business continuity. This puts people at ease and demonstrates strong management.
  • Customer or public communiqués regarding continuity, public policy, protective measures, and the solutions you are implementing. This should include how to properly disinfect hard surfaces (computers and technology, office furniture, desktops, etc.) that can transmit the virus.
  • Frequent updates from credible sources.
  1. Create a Crisis Communications Scenario for Coronavirus

A crisis is an event that causes a significant threat to operations or image and that can escalate if not handled properly. Crises can cause severe reputational damage and deplete employee morale, so it is important to implement a plan ahead of time (or quickly if you do not have one in place). This includes preparing pre-approved messaging for specific situations that may arise.

Ultimately, the course of action for crisis planning depends on the type of organization you work for. Brainstorming the top communications scenarios your organization should prepare for is a good place to start.

This should be an adjunct to your existing crisis plan and include such elements as:

  • What happens when a confirmed case is established in your organization
    • Protocols, so all staff are immediately reminded about the company’s policies and procedures and given next steps
      • What measures you’ll implement logistically/operationally
    • Where staff may be working from and during what time frame, logistics around departmental and company-wide communications and “meetings,” reporting, client relations, technology support, and other considerations
    • Developing social posts, communiqués, and email copy/templates —in advance. These can be updated as circumstances unfold
    • What disinfecting procedures should be utilized
  • How your facility may be compromised and what steps you’re taking to address this (there may be several crisis scenarios that fall under this category)
  • Steps to take and communiqués that outline what happens if your chief executive or other C-level executives are infected
  • What to do if your facility or staff are blamed for infecting others for negligence
  1. Be Prepared for Media Inquiries

It is imperative to be prepared for media inquiries, which require a number of critical steps, including anticipating difficult questions; developing factual messaging that conveys empathy, transparency, and concern; establishing and media training a company spokesperson; and monitoring social and other media commentary.

  1. Try to Remain Calm & Stay Current on the Facts

As of March 30, 2020, there were 143,532 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States with 741,030 globally, impacting public health, mental health, businesses of all kinds and sizes, and the economy. During this time when many questions arise, it is imperative to stick with the facts. Visit the CDC website for regular updates www.cdc.gov. 

During times of crisis, stakeholders will rely on your organization’s leadership to provide answers, solutions, and guidelines to follow. Ahead of the crisis, prepare statements/communiqués for employees, social followers, and the stakeholders we’ve discussed, including the media.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital to maintain open, transparent communication with your stakeholders and the community. People panic when they feel a lack of control, and if you are consistent, calming, and communicative, you will be supporting those who matter most and protecting your organization’s best interests.

If your organization needs help with coronavirus PR and crisis communications, contact Chris Rosica at PR@rosica.com or call (201) 843-5600 x 202.

Five Ways Social Media Can Help Protect Your Reputation Online During a Crisis

Social media can be your biggest ally in monitoring and protecting your reputation online and it can impact several aspects of your business—from managing reviews to dominating search results for your name. When a crisis occurs, monitoring and managing social media are vital. This effort can impact your image and how you’re perceived in the marketplace.

Sometimes, events occur that drastically alter the way your company is viewed by its stakeholders. According to the Institute for PR, a crisis is an event that causes “a significant threat to operations or reputations that can have negative consequences if not handled properly.”

Academic scholar W.Timothy Coombs says there are three different types of crises organizations face – victim, accidental, and preventable. Victim crises are when the organization suffers a crisis due to no fault of their own. Examples of this are seen in natural disasters, workplace violence, product tampering, even Coronavirus. Accidental crises are those that happen despite seemingly good intentions, such as technical errors, data breach (could also fall under preventable), fires, or product defect issues (think Samsung Galaxy) – not resulting from negligence. In other words, it’s unintentional or uncontrollable. Preventable (or intentional) crises are risky events the organization knowingly participates in. Examples include sexual harassment, human-error product harm, or organizational negligence.

No matter what type of crisis your organization is facing, here are five ways social media can protect your online reputation: 

  1. Social media allows you to engage with customers and immediately respond to issues, comments, and crises.

During a crisis, your organization may see an increase in social media comments. Though stakeholders may be speaking poorly about your organization through comments or posts, be sure to remain responsive and do not hide or simply hope that the issue will resolve itself. When you delete users’ comments, it can appear you’re trying to hide something.

Instead of deleting comments, you can use in-app messengers (like Facebook Messenger, and Twitter / Instagram direct messaging) to send private messages to these people to assure them. By directly connecting with people and taking time to send private messages to them, we’ve created relationships and reduced fallout on social channels, which protects reputations.

Silence also isn’t the answer and, during times of crises, no response is a clear response. Acknowledging the crisis and providing your audiences with the information and resources they need, helps them view your brand more positively.

  1. Social media sites appear high in search results, and because you can manage most social content, you control the narrative (your image online).

Perception is key, and while your organization may or may not be to blame for the crisis, there are steps you can take to mitigate the damage and protect your reputation online. The first five results on page one of a search are responsible for nearly 70 percent of all search clicks. With this in mind, it is easy to see why complaints, negative reviews, and information about an organization or crisis that appear high in search results can seriously impact credibility, reputation, and sales. In fact, through our ongoing review of our clients’ analytics, we have found that if a complaint (a negative social review/post) appears in the first five organic listings of a search result, a B2B organization can expect conversion rates to decrease by 30 to 40 percent. In some business sectors, we have seen a conversion rate drop 65 percent due to negative content that appears high in an organic search.

The main thing to know is that social media channels appear high in search results. Google places a priority on social sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and the like. As a result, if you have active social media profiles, they will likely appear on page one of a search result for your company or your key executives’ names.

  1. Social media allows you to post fresh content in real time, so you can consistently and proactively disseminate positive information about your organization to manage perception.

Social media allows you to develop and share a steady stream of content, from resources to stakeholders on managing the crisis – to subject-matter-expect advice. In other words, your content can pop up consistently reminding your potential customers that you are the expert and still offer smart solutions despite reputational challenges. If you proactively build a strong social presence, you can enhance the likelihood that your well-managed social content and profiles appear prominently on search engines so you can manage perception and your company’s image.

  1. Social media is a tremendous resource for collecting positive reviews about your company, which can markedly influence stakeholders.

The unfortunate reality is when companies receive praise for their services, the positive stories rarely appear and get noticed. During a crisis, you can expect a disproportionate number of negative reviews that communicate an inaccurate view of true customer satisfaction. We have met with companies that have thousands of happy customers and only two dozen negative posts and complaints. The ratio of satisfied to dissatisfied customers was not reflected in the negative reviews that prominently appeared online, and they lost sales opportunities because of a small percentage of unhappy clients. This is due to the fact that only a very small percentage of happy customers posted reviews. This demonstrates the importance of managing your online reputation and developing an ethical system for attracting reviews from happy customers.

Reviews pack a lot of punch. In fact, 83 percent of people in one survey reported that they do not trust advertising, while 72 percent said that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from real people.[1] Just how trusted are these peer-review sites? According to a Nielsen survey, peer recommendations are the most credible form of advertising, and when it comes to making a purchasing decision, buyers are 92 percent more likely to trust their peers over an advertisement.

Be sure that customers will see right through any attempt at deception, so be persistent in your efforts to encourage happy customers to post their authentic thoughts.

  1. Social media channels are a great place to disseminate publicity, views, thought leadership, and expertise, which impact reputation and image.

Here is another way social media can help you protect your reputation: Google and other search engines consider media outlets to be authoritative due to their credibility, fresh content, and heavy web traffic. This means that if you secure earned media coverage, it will rank high in Google’s algorithm—particularly if you syndicate synopses of the articles on social channels with links to this content online.

Then, use SEO tactics, such as link building, to promote it. If you act strategically, then, you can leverage positive media mentions of your company to control search results.

Managing search means managing perception, so work to manage the message and content that potential customers and partners see.

Of course, it is smart to prepare for crisis scenarios that could impact your reputation and organization’s livelihood.

Contact pr@rosica.com with any questions about crisis communications or social media marketing.

My Time with Jack Welch, by Chris Rosica

While serving as the president of the New York City Chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), formerly the Young Entrepreneurs’ Organization or YEO, I picked up the phone and called Rosanne Badowski. For 14 years, Badowski served as Jack Welsh’s personal assistant, or shall I say personal manager. She did an incredible job of “Managing Up” and eventually wrote the book on it – under the same name.

I asked Rosanne if Jack would speak to a group of 300 business owners and CEOs from YEO and YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization) groups in NYC. After a few conversations, Welch agreed to do it at no cost, and we locked in a date. Jack was on a book tour for Winning, which had just been released, so we had just two months to plan this elaborate event. We bought books for all attendees, which made HarperCollins happy.

It was a pleasure working with Rosanne to coordinate all the details. She was very professional and cordial. She told me that Jack preferred interview style presentations, rather than standing at a podium and giving talks.

I soon had the amazing good fortune of interviewing him in front of this large, high-powered group for more than an hour.

To say I was nervous is an understatement. The tension escalated when just five minutes before the event Welsh hadn’t arrived. I couldn’t reach Rosanne or Jack via cell and decided to wait on the street in case his driver was having difficulty finding the entrance.

Inside, the anticipation of his arrival was palpable.

To my great relief, with literally one minute to spare, Jack, Rosanne, and his wife Suzy, the book’s co-author, arrived at this sold-out event.

When we got off the elevator at the penthouse event space, Jack put his hand on my arm, looked me in the eye, smiled, and said “Let’s get something to drink and unwind for a minute.” Despite his very hectic schedule and the event start time, he insisted we take the time to decompress. Jack always said what was on his mind and asked for what he wanted but thought of others around him and what they needed as well. He knew I needed to relax! Jack was intuitive, considerate, and responsive. All worthy leadership attributes.

Soon, we were sitting together in producer’s chairs under the bright lights for one of the most memorable 60 minutes of my life.

I had read his book twice before the interview, highlighted it, and had prepared plenty of questions. Afterwards, he sincerely thanked me, signed a few books, and chatted with a small group of entrepreneurs before disappearing into the night.

Some of my takeaways from Winning:

  1. Jack always instructed his managers to hire for integrity, intelligence, and maturity.
  2. He expected employees to:
    1. Have positive energy and to possess the ability to energize others
    2. Tap into the courage to make tough yes or no decisions
    3. Get the job done right – and to “own” execution
    4. Learn from their mistakes
    5. Be passionate
  3. He also wrote about the importance of top managers and leaders possessing authenticity; being able to look ahead and predict the future; demonstrating resilience; surrounding themselves with smarter people (which requires not having an ego and needing to be right); and knowing when to celebrate.
  4. Finally, throughout the book, he spoke about candor and how important it is in growing a culture of accountability and effectiveness. He personified the word.

My regrets to his friends and family. Thanks Jack and thank you Rosanne for our exciting time together.

In his work life, Jack Welsh certainly walked the walk. All who worked for him report that he embodied these principles.

He will likely go down as the world’s greatest CEO.

Chris Rosica

Making The Case For Micro-Influencers

Photo of micro-influencers taking a selfie

Much had been written in recent years about influencer marketing and micro-influencers. Many clients ask whether this is (still) a worthwhile investment of time and money.

Companies that approach marketing from a strategic vantage point — and understand the importance of integrated marketing communications and maintaining a positive reputation online — appreciate influencer marketing. According to Nielson Consumer Trust Index, “92% of consumers trust influencer marketing.” Influencers are people who have the power to impact purchasing decisions because of their relationship with their audiences, their expertise, or valued opinions.

According to an AdAge article that ran this week, “Micro-influencers (which CreatorIQ defines as content creators with followers in the 10,000 to 99,999 range) and nano influencers (1,000 to 9,999) consistently have the best engagement rates, particularly on Instagram. Brand marketers, according to the survey, are increasingly showing a strong preference for such smaller-reach influencers vs. so-called mega influencers with a million or more followers.”

However, on rare occasion have we witnessed an influencer campaign delivering significant direct sales benefits.

Micro-influencers are a subcategory of influencers, obviously with smaller reach, but who are much easier to work with and do not require big-dollar partnerships. While most, if not all, large influencers require payment, which can cost thousands, micro-bloggers and influencers are generally open to creative (free or low-cost) partnership opportunities.

If strategically implemented, an affordable micro-influencer initiative can give a boost to your online reputation management, SEO, and content marketing efforts.

What you should know about micro-influencers

The benefit of working with micro-influencers is you can reach a smaller, but highly relevant following. According to Forbes, “This tight-knit group of followers may be more likely to want to buy products that are being marketed by someone they feel they know or who seems more exclusive.” But, again, don’t do it to boost sales unless you’re looking to be disappointed.

Micro-influencers are far more flexible and authentic — and much less demanding. As said, reaching their audience can be free or may require a product sample or small stipend. They typically won’t price gauge. Regardless, it’s smart to set aside a small budget in case it’s needed to reach your target audience and support your SEO efforts, especially if there’s added value, as mentioned in the “tip” below.

These influencers can be bloggers, well-regarded writers for trade publications and websites) accomplished consultants, industry analysts, or anyone who is well regarded and has a following. They also encompass key opinion leaders, subject matter experts, clinicians (doctor, nurse, veterinarian, Ph.D., etc.), professional speakers, association executives, conference managers, advocacy group reps, and authors. When they talk, people listen.

There are several software tools we use to find micro-influencers, though it’s important to note the number of bloggers in certain industries or segments may be limited. That’s why it’s smart to research tradeshow speakers and subject matter experts to round out your list. Attending events is one way to identify micro-influencers. Consider attending industry conference/tradeshows and get to know the keynote speaker and presenters (research them in advance and follow them on social channels).

3 reasons micro-influencers matter today

  1. This category of influencer can strengthen your social reach

When working with micro-influencers, it’s important to establish a relationship with them before sending pitches. Most people wouldn’t open spammy email from a stranger, and the same mindset applies to social media. Through engaging with them, they will become familiar with your organization. Social media enables the sharing of articles, viewpoints, industry news, trends, and information that center your positioning and your strategic objectives. Leave comments, build rapport, share what you like about their posts, and share and re-tweet their views. This way, when you do reach out, the interaction will be authentic.

  1. Online reviews are VIP: micro-influencers impact an organization’s reputation online

Perception is what matters most. When businesses in a B2B environment and consumers in the B2C world search online for the products and services they require or want, reviews inevitably appear. Securing numbers of micro-influencer reviews and write-ups can go far to managing an organization’s image online. After obtaining positive reviews, it’s important to synopsize, optimize, syndicate, and promote them through social and link building.

When a micro-influencer talks about your company, it can also go far to build thought leadership, increase positive social references (which people often review as well), and support organic search optimization.

  1. Their articles can give a boost to your content marketing

If a micro-influencer you are working with reviews your product/service or mentions your company in a positive light, you can repurpose their content in email marketing campaigns, on your social (including your blog), for search marketing, and other stakeholder communications.

When leveraging micro-influencer reviews/references, be sure to create unique content for each channel, which should help with your overall search engine rankings.

It’s important to remember that micro-influencer content does not have to be too polished. It should look and feel authentic or organic – not overly produced.

Tip: Hire an industry expert to write an article for your blog or website and pay them a small stipend to do so – regardless of the size of their social following. This infuses your site with fresh, quality content that can help your SEO – and the article can be sent out in an email marketing campaign to your database and posted to your social media channels. You can ask the influencer to share a synopsis of the article on their social channels with a link to your blog or website. As you can see, this approach supports content marketing, SEO, and your social strategy. Due to the modest stipend, this expert may also be open to mentioning you at a conference they’re speaking at or writing about you on their blog in the future.

For more information on micro-influencers, please contact pr@rosica.com, or call us at (201) 957-7156 x 202

Top 5 Reasons Why Companies Employ Cause Marketing

Today is World Corporate Social Responsibility Day.

From a business standpoint, it’s also the perfect opportunity to employ cause marketing.

Cause marketing is a public relations strategy that leverages the public’s demand for socially responsible corporations by forging an alliance between a for-profit company and a non-profit organization (or “cause”).

Under a cause-marketing campaign, a company incorporates a philanthropic agenda as part of its marketing strategy, garnering ongoing media attention and visibility through cause-related events, public relations activities, internal communications, merchandising, advertising, package design, online social media, and marketing. Cause marketing principles can be applied to any business model, whether the corporation is business-to-business or business-to-consumer, and regardless of company size.

Here’s the Top 5 Reasons Why Companies Engage in Cause-Marketing Campaigns:

Reason # 1 Give a Boost to Sales

Cause marketing attracts media attention, which gives the public greater awareness of the company. When properly implemented, cause marketing attracts media attention, which gives the public greater awareness of the company. And greater publicity (especially positive publicity) always translates into a bigger bottom line and desirability factor. A company that engages in a cause-marketing campaign enjoys increased sales because consumers show a greater interest in conducting business with charitable corporations. Because cause-related marketing impacts a company or brand’s image, it also impacts customer loyalty, which means that a company sees repeat sales from its existing client base and attracts new ones.

Reason #2: Build Brand Awareness

Did you know Famous Amos Cookies began with no advertising budget? No advertising budget whatsoever. However, in a textbook case still studied in college marketing classrooms today, Famous Amos and Literacy Volunteers of America (another little-known brand) partnered to develop grassroots media events that spread the message nationwide. With the help of Rosica Mulhern & Associates and its founding partners, Bill Mulhern, Marilyn Rosica, and John Rosica, the team-built brand awareness for Famous Amos Cookies, which eventually was purchased for millions.

Reason #3: To Improve Employee Morale

Companies that face high employee turnover and demoralized employees can ignite their employees’ passions by engaging in cause marketing. Common sense dictates that happier employees are more productive employees. If employees feel deeply passionate about a cause and understand that the company is concerned with more than profits, the company will see greater productivity and lower turnover. Companies that engage in cause-marketing campaigns will witness the entire corporate culture change for the better. Employees, excited about going to work, will feel good about the work they do.

Reason #4: Manage or Avoid Crises

In a perfect world, cause marketing should be proactive. Optimally, it should begin long before a company faces a public relations crisis, so that if and when an obstacle presents itself, the company has already established itself as a charitable one, and the fallout is not devastating. But let’s face it—many companies turn to public relations only as a solution to a crisis. If properly executed, cause marketing can help counter-act the reputational damage of a crisis by showing stakeholders your organization cares about a cause. This helps improve your brands image in the public eye.

Reason #5: Create a Fresh Public Relations and Publicity Strategy

One of a company’s main challenges is to keep itself fresh in the minds of its audiences when the company has nothing new to report. Ongoing media attention helps corporations (both business-to-business and business-to-consumer) build their brands by providing third-party endorsements, thereby boosting credibility and visibility. Cause marketing gives a company an evergreen story to tell. In terms of public relations coverage, this practice keeps the momentum going; it keeps the spotlight on the company year-round.

Nearly every company, regardless of size or objectives, should incorporate cause marketing into its public relations strategy. To order The Business of Cause Marketing, from Noble Press, visit Amazon.

Contact pr@rosica.com for more info…

5 Ways AI Can Help You Enhance Content Marketing

In today’s world, AI is becoming increasingly more integrated into our daily lives, yet many people are still wary about it. (Don’t worry, this blog post isn’t being written by a bot.)

“AI adoption is forecasted to surge by 143% over the next 18 months,” according to a recent Salesforce study — meaning more organizations will begin to incorporate AI into their communication campaigns as well.

How AI Can Help Enhance Your Content Marketing Efforts?

1. Augments content creation

Creating fresh, original content for blogs, social media and your web properties is extremely important today, given what we know about Google’s algorithmic preferences. Not only does frequently-refreshed and relevant content encourage readers to keep coming back to your site, it really helps with SEO.

To lighten the workload, you can use AI content services, like MarketMuse and Automated Insights, which can write original content for you. A bit apprehensive? Consider that the Associated Press uses AI software to generate content on corporate earnings reports and, according to a NY Times article, roughly a third of content published by Bloomberg News uses some form of automated technology.

2. Eliminates tedious tasks

Data analytics is another benefit of AI. Long gone are the days of reviewing t-tests and bar graphs. According to Lingumatics, text mining is “an artificial intelligence (AI) technology that uses natural language processing (NLP) to transform the free (unstructured) text in documents and databases into normalized, structured data suitable for analysis or to drive machine learning (ML) algorithms.”

Some companies hire employees for the specific purpose of audience engagement. However, chatbots can create auto-responses that interact with stakeholders on social media platforms to promptly answer questions, like posts, and enhance customer engagement.

3. Enables personalization

Artificial Intelligence helps personalize content to enhance the stakeholder experience with your organization or brand. Through platforms like SharpSpring, you can now create specialized email marketing campaigns addressing the receiver by name, organization, and how they’ve interacted with your company online (on-website, through email, or social). AI also helps make widely-distributed emails feel more personal, encouraging users to respond and interact with your company.

Additionally, AI helps customize newsfeeds on social media based on user demographics and location, and through data analysis, predict which posts users are more likely to comment on, hide, or mark as spam. This helps measure which campaigns were more successful than others.

4. Improves customer service

AI improves customer service by asking specific questions designed to find out exactly what information the stakeholder is seeking. This helps eliminate long phone queues waiting to speak with a representative. By integrating these initiatives into content marketing, users are able to get valuable information they need without wasting time and energy. All while taking steps not to lose the human touch, especially for elevated customer-related issues.

5. Helps with sales conversion rates

Platforms like SharpSpring and SalesForce help companies keep track of the sales funnel from initial leads and contact to conversion and repeat customers. Leveraging data gathered through online engagement with prospects and stakeholders, these services are especially efficient, aggregating information into one resource for effective decision making.

Content marketing has a lot to offer and AI can support your content marketing initiatives. Contact a member of the Rosica team today at pr@rosica.com to learn more.

News Releases Are Dead… Long Live News Releases.

3 Reasons they are alive and well

Media dilution is an understatement. It’s impossible to keep up with thousands of information channels we have at our fingertips today. With media dilution, PR has completely changed. As a result, the perception is that PR’s impact has become watered down, creating a vortex that leaves public relations pros looking for ways to demonstrate ROI, add value, and meet the demands of smart in-house marketers who require measurement against pre-determined KPIs.

Long gone are the days when sending out a press release would generate meaningful coverage. With the exception of media “alerts” or “advisories,” it’s been years since we’ve sent releases to producers and reporters and expected them to take action. This change is in large part due to the fact that media outlets have very limited staff nowadays, often operating with skeletal crews and low morale. They’re inundated with emails from PR people and simply do not have the bandwidth to read them all.

It’s important to note the quality of news release writing, whether by PR agencies, PR departments, or corporations, has always been criticized by media. Several years ago, the Wall Street Journal announced (ironically through a press release) that they were no longer accepting press releases. The New York Times responded on the story the very next day. It’s also important to note, later that same week Rosica secured a front-page story on the Wall Street Journal. Through what means? A news release.

The moral of this story is that sometimes you need to go against the grain. While pitch letters now dominate reporters’ email inboxes, news releases have become the path less traveled, which means you’re more likely to get a reporter’s attention. When everyone else stops distributing press releases, send them – keeping in mind the tips below.

3 reasons news releases are still alive and well:

Reason 1: News releases can be part of your overall content marketing strategy

Whether you are posting news and information on your website, sending it through an email marketing campaign, or sharing it on social, a news release represents an unexpected communique. Ask yourself: How many press releases do you, as a businessperson, receive daily, weekly, or even monthly? We are inundated, however, with e-newsletters, email marketing solicitations, advertisements, banner ads, and other overt promotional pieces.

As an example, we have many clients who send direct mail and email marketing campaigns with news releases on Rosica agency letterhead, which present as third-party endorsements in a format that is not widely used for email marketing and sales letters.

We’ve also shared releases at client conferences, meetings, and tradeshows — and synopsize, search optimize, and syndicate this content on blogs and across social media channels.

Reason 2: News release content can bolster SEO efforts

When posting a news release to PRWeb (SEO version) or PR Newswire, you are introducing fresh, branded content on the web. If you effectively build links to that release online, this content can be found by people searching for your organization’s name. This means that incorporating optimized keywords and phrases into a release is an imperative.

Google is always looking for fresh content. Posting a synopsis of a release on your website or blog provides fresh content for your site, rather than duplicate content. With the synopsis, be sure to include a link to the full news release (i.e., PR Newswire or PRWeb) online.

Reason 3: News releases help manage perception

If you effectively disseminate news release content and promote it through SEO then the likelihood of this managed content appearing on page one of a Google search for your name will be heightened greatly.

A key strategy in communications today is search engine domination. Simply put, this is about developing and promoting fresh content to manage perception online — what people find and learn about your organization. Therefore, managing the first page or two of organic search results for your name is paramount. Most people never leave page one, so this effort can help protect your image.

As you can see, news releases still have much to offer. Often times, what’s old is new again, so long live news releases.

To learn more about what news releases can do for your organization, contact pr@rosica.com.

Expert Crisis Communications Council

Rosica specializes in health-related strategic internal and external corporate communications and media relations. We are helping corporations, public and private schools, universities, and nonprofits with COVID-19 communications preparedness and management.