Raising Visibility Through Story and Strategy

Most organizations have an innate sense of how to raise their visibility in the market—Find great stories! Tell them! Showcase our differentiators! Reach our audiences! But executing on those concepts takes more than a basic understanding. Here’s how to go deeper to build lasting Story and Strategy for your brand.

Story

Prioritize expanding your toolbox as a writer for better storytelling.

  • Listen first. Engage with your frontline staff and customers. What are the moments that have stuck with them over the last month? The last year? For a story to have real power, it has to be relatable and personal. Traditional PR runs a risk of sounding a bit canned—talking with people helps you dig further.
  • Use narrative structure to your advantage. Good stories have a main character, a set up, a conflict, a climax, and a conclusion. Adding those elements to your organization’s story helps draw in audiences. I could technically tell you about a new piece of healthcare equipment in a news release, but it means more if I share the journey of a little girl whose life it helped to save.
  • Always be seeking new stories. Don’t just tie your story gathering to large initiatives or product launches. Stay in touch with people to mine stories on a regular basis. You’ll build a great internal library and organically create a culture that understands the value of telling your company’s story.

Strategy

  • Find your audience. The best stories in the world don’t mean much if you’re sharing them with an empty room. These days, it’s not enough to know who your audience is; you’ve also got to know where they get their information, which channels they use, and who their influencers are.
  • Think in layers. Crafting a great social campaign might be a good strategy, but it’s probably more honest to say it’s one branch of an even better strategy. Layer your information in a variety of channels and across a variety of times to generate the most awareness.
  • Evaluate and refine. Story-telling is a craft—that means you have to work at it. Assess what did or didn’t generate the results you wanted and be proactive in adjusting for the future.

With these tips in mind, your organization will soon become a pro at marrying Story and Strategy into lasting visibility.

 

The Walking Dead – Reviving Your Social Media Strategy with Agency Help

Recently, an article Arthur Thomas wrote for BizTimes explored how companies end up with “essentially defunct social media pages” – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn profiles that haven’t seen new content in months, maybe even years, but are still linked to the company website.ghost town

An unattended, out-of-date zombie social media account can be dead weight for a company, making it seem behind the times or unengaged with its audiences. However, it’s not always easy to keep up in a fast-paced world of social networks. As Thomas said, “Maybe an intern or someone on your staff set up accounts on every conceivable platform a few years ago,” and now, no one has taken over the task and your Facebook page is a ghost town. 

Bring Life Back Into Your Social Media Strategy

At this point, you may want to throw in the towel and delete your accounts, but there is a way to bring the zombie back to life. PR agencies like Bottom Line are pros at social media strategy and can help you turn that graveyard of a Twitter feed into an active network that will benefit your brand. Here are some of the ways a PR agency can help you maintain active social media accounts:

Picking the Right Channels

In our ever-changing digital landscape, there are social networks to fill every niche, and they won’t all be the perfect fit for your brand. PR agencies can help your company ask important questions about who your audience is and what they like, determining where they’re most likely to see and engage with you. Whether you’re a highly visual real estate development company seeking Instagram strategy or an all-business law firm looking for a rock-solid LinkedIn setup, working with a PR agency can position you where you need to be for your audience.

Setting up Accounts

Creating a social media account isn’t always as simple as typing in your company’s name and calling it a day. Consistent, professional social media management means coordinating consistency in usernames and passwords, having engaging, up-to-date information in any bios or “about” sections, and making sure that the company’s brand is emphasized in all profile and cover photos. These little details all add up to a professional social media presence that your audience can’t help but notice.

Social Media Storeroom

One of our most successful strategies when a client needs help populating their social media feeds with content is the creation of Storeroom and Shopping Cart spreadsheets. These digital tools allow anyone involved in the social media process to drop in ideas for posts or fully fleshed-out posts, respectively, getting the entire team involved in the content creation process. Train experts from all departments of your company to contribute content and your audiences benefit from the knowledge of the whole group.

Day-to-Day Content Management

While it’s great to get your experts involved in coming up with content ideas, sometimes you need a little boost. We have a history of handling clients’ day-to-day social media operations, researching to find relevant articles for them to post, highlighting engaging images to use, responding to and engaging audience members, and tracking necessary metrics to measure performance. With agency help, a zombie page turns into an active, thriving network audiences will want to return to day after day to check out your new content.

Campaigns

The gem of any social media strategy, campaigns use everything in the social media toolbox to create a highly-visible series of posts centered on a topic, product, or piece of news. With the amount of advance planning, design work, and preparation required, PR agency assistance can mean the difference between a flop and a truly successful campaign.

Help from a PR agency can make all the difference between a staggering zombie social media account and an engaging, professional page that will excite your audience into learning more. Dust off the cobwebs and start getting the results you want out of your social media strategy!

5 Ways to Get your Social Media Accounts Ready for the Spotlight

Is your organization gearing up for a large social media campaign? Are you attending a prominent industry conference? Or, maybe your organization is about to announce a big change?

Whatever your situation may be, if you anticipate more people, or a new audience, checking out your social media accounts, it’s time to make sure your social platforms are ready for the spotlight.

Here are a few quick and easy ways to take your social media accounts from drab to fab:

1. Establish consistency. Whether your organization is on two social media platforms or ten, the brand should remain consistent across all its accounts. Make sure your organization’s names (handles), photos and general description are as similar as possible so it is easy for people to find, follow and engage with you. Once your accounts are consistent, use the “website” field to cross-promote them.

2. Elevate your photos. We live in a world of high-quality photos. With a little cropping or coordination with a graphic designer, it’s simple to optimize (resize) your main pictures to look great on social media. Chose photos that will work well across all platforms to keep your accounts consistent. 

According to Hootsuite, the standard image sizes for major social platforms are:

  • Facebook profile picture: 180×180 pixels
  • Facebook cover photo: 851×315 pixels
  • Twitter profile picture: 400×400 pixels
  • Twitter header image: 1,500×500 pixels
  • LinkedIn logo: 400×400 pixels
  • LinkedIn banner image: 646×220 pixels

3. Spice up your organization’s bio. To make your organization more searchable, work relevant keywords into your social profiles. Add links, hashtags, handles, prominent industry terms and maybe even a little humor or creativity into your bios, and your number of page visits and followers are sure to increase. 

4. Engage with others. With so many companies using social media, sometimes all it takes is a little reminder that you exist. Follow-back people who have followed you, thank people for taking the time to retweet or like your post, or ask your clients/customers for reviews or endorsements. In the social media world, there are infinite opportunities to engage.

5. Publish a “teaser” post. Did you start reading this blog because you could relate to one of our opening questions? Well then, it sounds like you have exciting news to share! After you’ve made some updates to your social media accounts, tell your audience why you’ve made changes. A “teaser” post like, “We’re giving our social media accounts a face-lift in preparation for a BIG announcement,” will keep your audience engaged and checking back in with your accounts often.

Now, are you feeling more ready for the spotlight?

How Companies are Catching more than Pokémon with Pokémon Go

Pokémon – it’s everywhere. Thanks to a new free mobile app, called Pokémon Go, people across the country can now “catch ‘em all.” Using users’ GPS and camera on their phones, Pokémon Go allows players to capture and battle virtual Pokémon who appear throughout the real world. And it’s a phenomena that’s sweeping the nation—in just five days, it has more users than Twitter and added nearly $11 billion to the value of Nintendo stock.

As marketing nerds, we’re excited to see companies taking advantage of this pop culture hit. To get new customers in the door, museums, churches and businesses are promoting that they are PokéStops, places in Pokémon Go that allow you to collect essential items, such as eggs, Poké Balls, potions and more. Others are taking advantage of nearby PokéGyms, places players can battle their Pokémon, by urging people to stop by their businesses before and after a battle.

We always guide our clients to take advantage of trends—both in their industries and in pop culture—in their PR campaigns. Here are a few ways to use hot topics like Pokémon Go to “catch” new customers:

  • Know your audience. Although it seems like something only little kids would be interested in, Pokémon Go is most popular among nostalgic millennials who grew up playing Pokémon on their Gameboys and trading Pokémon cards. If your audience isn’t interested in the topic or trend, all your marketing efforts will be wasted on them. Be sure to ask yourself, “Does my audience care about this topic/trend?”
  • Get creative! Think about your product or service offerings and brainstorm creative ways to connect them to a hot topic or trend. Use visuals, statistics, humor or a play-on-words to show how your brand relates.
  • Weave the trend into your promotions. For example, one restaurant is offering discounts depending on a player’s Pokémon Go level—if you’re on level 3 you get a free soda, while level 13 gets a free 8” pizza!

Want to take advantage of the latest hot topic or trend in your media relations or social media campaigns? Give us a call.

Storytelling that Matters

When you break PR down to its basics, it’s all about sharing a story in a way that compels people to action. Whether we’re telling the story of a company, a community or an individual, our job as communicators is to make it shine. Easier said than done, right?

For a precious few stories, all the elements seem to come together in a way that was made to shout from the hills! For the rest, here are some tips to find the heart of a great story in nearly any topic:

Make it relevant
In the daily media world, this means it must be newsworthy via a tie—however small—to what’s happening in current news and culture. What trends does your topic help support or contradict? What impact does the story have on its industry, on other business, on society at large? Get creative!

By demonstrating these connections in your story, you’ll likely catch the eye of more reporters and readers. Remember, if your focus is trade media, they have a much deeper but narrower view of what’s relevant to their audience. You can use this to your advantage. While new training formats aren’t national news, for example, a trade magazine will definitely be interested in industry changes like that.

Make it personal
A relevant story tells people why they should read it; making it personal reminds them why they should care. It gets them invested. The best stories revolve around an individual—it’s worth the time to do your research and find a captivating subject for your story. This can be a patient who’s successfully walked the long-road of stroke recovery, a family who’s just bought their first home thanks to a unique loan program, or even an employee who gives back to the community outside of work. People love reading about people! Not only will you hold their interest, you’ll bring them one step closer to taking action as a result.

Make it vibrant
Nothing makes readers flip the page or click a different link faster than dry storytelling. Avoid rote sentences or monotone fact-listing. Instead, spice up your story with a strong, intriguing lead and direct quotes. Subheads also help mix things up, especially for tricky transitions in what might normally be a less-than-interesting article.

This is where your efforts to make it personal pay off yet again. Even if your story is about nothing more than drain tiles, putting a face to it introduces a twist that can help maintain interest.

And don’t forget a call to action
The point of great storytelling is to make readers feel something, do something. It can be as simple as chatting about the article the next time they’re with friends, or it could be a larger ask, like encouraging them to make a personal contribution to a cause. You want to write your story in a way that the call to action is implied, even if it’s not stated outright. How do you do that? By making it relevant, personal and vibrant.

So, next time you’re ready to share a new story, make it great!

Finding (and Knowing) Your Audience

No matter what strategy or tactic you’re pursuing in PR, it’s essential to first know your audience. The best collateral materials or social campaign in the world won’t be effective unless you’re able to get it front of your audience, with messages relevant to them.

When planning, ask yourself questions like:

  • Who do we need to reach with this and why?
  • What action do we want them to take?
  • Where does this audience currently get their information? What channels do they already frequent? A busy executive, for example, likely isn’t engaging in the same way or in the same places as moms or college students.
  • What does this audience want most? What could make our message cool and relevant to them?
  • What other likes or interests does this audience have that could relate to our message and boost attention?
  • Gather data on what’s worked or hasn’t worked for this same audience in the past.

This can be trickier than it seems. Popular e-commerce sites like Amazon and Netflix do a great job of understanding their audiences’ tastes via gargantuan amounts of data. They recommend additional products accordingly, but there’s a line between pure audience data and turning it into actionable intelligence. Netflix got a lesson in that recently with its Marco Polo launch. Though the show seemingly hit on all the audience hot buttons, according to data—action, romance, exotic settings, etc.—it by-and-large failed to bring those together in a way that appealed.

Smart PR pros recognize that to “know” an audience is to go beyond simple numbers or demographics.

You also want to make sure your messaging and tactics match your audience. We worked for a client who had developed wonderful messaging for referring providers…only to realize their target audience should actually be patient families, who desired a very different set of messages.

Knowing your audience not only requires up front research and thoughtful planning, but also a commitment to remain connected to and invested in that audience so you’re able to track with changing wants and demands. While challenging, it’s one of the most important aspects of PR, and once you truly connect with an audience, their loyalty makes all the difference.

Mobile Marketing Equals Concise Content

Health care is a complex subject. Social media, on the other hand, tends to be 140 characters or less, especially when it’s read on mobile devices during the brief digestible attention spans of today’s consumers. Since we operate in the space where these two concepts meet, we’ve become pretty skilled at communicating in-depth ideas in a few short sentences.

Here are some of our favorite tips for creating concise mobile marketing in healthcare:

  • A picture’s worth 1,000 words. No, really. A photo will build higher interest and communicate more fully than a lengthy LinkedIn post, for example. Choose a compelling image and place a key phrase or stat across the top of it.
  • Use mobile to drive people to additional content. Good news: Your mobile content doesn’t have to be the be-all, end-all. You can use it to generate interest and action that leads to more detailed information. Customers can click a link to visit your website, read the full news release, or attend an informational community event.
  • Why should the patient care? When in doubt, bottom line it. Why does this piece of information matter to your customers (whether they be patients or others)? Put THAT info first in your mobile content. The details can be supported via links like we mentioned above.
  • Practice being concise by highlighting key phrases. Grab your organization’s latest white paper, news release or event announcement and highlight the short phrases or sections that best capture its importance. Those are the items you can build posts around.
  • Craft your posts in series. Don’t try to say everything related to a news item in one single post. Spread it out over a series of posts that highlight different aspects of the news. Remember, mobile content has a short life-span, so releasing your posts in a series can also help with overall visibility.
  • It’s okay to not use full sentences. Look at our second bullet. See how we said, Good news: instead of, The good news is that… It saves space and gets to the point faster.

Now, we’re off to check the latest mobile healthcare headlines. Is yours there?

Get Your Blog Noticed

So, you’ve written an amazing blog post. It’s powerful, it’s compelling and you know people will want to read it…if you could just figure out how to get it in front of them.

Clicking “publish” on your blogging platform is not the be-all, end-all of getting your post noticed. Here are some other steps to consider to create attention and awareness for your blogosphere masterpiece.

  • Leverage social media – If you’re blogging, chances are your organization also has other social media channels. Use them! Cross-posting blog links to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more, is a great way to extend the post’s reach. People who don’t catch it on your blog itself, may find it via their social media feeds. It’s also a great way to generate likes or retweets.
  • Make it easy for people to follow your blog feeds – Feeds alert interested readers to your latest blog headlines—often straight to their email or app. Make it simple for new readers to add your blog to their feed list and consider strategies that will help you grow the number of people who subscribe to your feed.
  • Comment on other blogs – Check out the other well-known blogs for your industry and comment there. The blog owners will often return the favor by commenting on and spreading awareness for your blog as well. It’s also a good way to build your profile and credibility in the blogging community and attract new readers from those blog audiences. The same goes for any industry forums where you could comment or link.
  • Put keywords near the start of your headline – To maximize SEO and key word visibility, consider headlines that put your most important content words first. For example, “Crisis Tips: Top 10 Must-dos” is stronger than “Top 10 Things to Do in a Crisis” because the key word crisis is placed earlier and, therefore, given more emphasis in a keyword ranking.
  • Respond to people who engage – One of the best ways to drive visibility for a post is simply to engage with those who do find it and read it. By responding to comments, emails or feedback about a post, you’ll strengthen the relationship with those particular readers and potentially encourage them to share the post with others in their network.
  • Track the results – Measure whether your strategies are effective by tracking the visibility of each post. Do some social media channels boost your views more than others? Did your comment on a leading industry blog produce a parallel spike in your own blog traffic? This will help you refine your approach and track the growth of your blog audience.

Now, brainstorm that next great post idea and get it out there!