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Influencers Share their Stories

From left to right: Tracy Imm, APR; Jessica Fast; Jill Smokler, Christine Carter, Margaret Nam. Photo courtesy of conference lunch sponsor Planit

Submitted by Tracy Imm, APR

One of the most talked about sessions at 2018 PRSA Maryland Conference held on June 12 featured four top thought leaders on influencer communications. On stage we had three influencers, two of whom are also in the PR/Communications profession, and an influencer strategist.

The panel discussion highlighted that PR professionals are well positioned to leverage social media influencer relationships and connect brands to targeted buyers. We are skilled at delivering business results for our organizations through earned media and the more we understand the perspectives of the influencer the better job we can do as PR professionals.

“It’s hard from marketers and communicators to accept: you can’t control everything. Allow the relationship to be imperfect and authentic.”

Here is a quick recap of what our panelists shared.

 

  • New York Times best-selling author Jill Smokler (aka Scary Mommy) shared with us her journey from mommy blogger to macro-influencer with a platform that partnered with major brands like Target. Before her platform was purchased she had more control over the content strategy decisions (which she liked) and she saw how having an investor changed the game. She recently left her role at Scary Mommy to pursue new opportunities where she can control the content strategy and tactics and discuss topics she finds interesting.
  • Christine Michel Carter reviewed her strategies as a micro-influencer sharing her views with other black millennial moms. She has consistently created content over the past ten years and she now has brands such as Brick Bodies sponsoring her content. She shares with her audience in an authentic fashion in order to engender the “know, like and trust” factor. One eye-opening point she made was in sharing how she measures the unicorns (impact of influencers). Her formula: Average engagement per post divided by the number of followers times 100. Her influencer score is 1.95% compared to Beyonce at 2.73%.
  • Jessica Fast from Abel Communications talked about how brands are looking for social media influencers to promote their products and services. She shared several case studies with the audience. She underscored that we need to understand influencers are not media outlets, they are people, not reporters telling your story. The power of the influencer is in their authenticity. “It’s hard from marketers and communicators to accept: you can’t control everything. Allow the relationship to be imperfect and authentic.” She also noted that we shouldn’t limit our thinking. “Don’t think about influencers as just individuals, explore relationships with influential groups.”
  • Margaret Nam from Planit, another micro-influencer who works with influencers for her clients, discussed the tactics she has used to grow her audience in the Baltimore marketplace and the new opportunities that have come her way as a result. She noted that micro-influencers provide more opportunities for added value content, a niche, targeted audience and lower cost.

 

PRSA Maryland Chapter thanks all the event sponsors who helped make this conference possible. Click here to see who was there! 

If you attended the conference, check out the pictures below and by clicking here. If you didn’t, see what you missed.

2018 PRSA Maryland Conference Recap

130 communications professionals gather in Towson for 2018 PRSA Maryland annual conference.

Each year, the PRSA Maryland Chapter gathers together a diverse network of communication professionals at its annual conference and provides attendees with a day-long professional development and networking opportunity. Speakers share their insights, industry knowledge and, most importantly, vision for the future of public relations. The 2018 conference, held June 12 at the Baltimore Sheraton in Towson, was no exception, attracting 130 attendees and speakers.

Attendees engaged with prominent social media influencers as well as heard experts present on topics about fake news, analytics, what CMOs expect, and the latest changes in social media.

The conference keynote speaker featured a presentation by Ed Bodensiek highlighting the convergence of communications, marketing, and customer experience (CX). Click here to see the full agenda and learn more about our speakers. 

PRSA Maryland Chapter thanks all the event sponsors who helped make this conference possible. Click here to see who was there! 

If you attended the conference, check out the pictures below and by clicking here. If you didn’t, see what you missed.

Photos courtesy of Coyle Studios

Why should we, as PR professionals, care what the Chief Marketing Officer within our organization is doing?

Once upon a time, PR and Marketing were very separate disciplines. Heck, back when many of us were in college, the PR department was housed with English, journalism or communications and marketing was across campus in the business department. We were studying a separate curriculum and performed separate functions within the business unit.

Enter social media and the upheaval begins. Social media is clearly an extension of PR. It’s us telling our story to our community. Oh, but wait. Now we can boost posts and target ads to be seen by specific demographics. Sounds a little more like advertising or marketing now, right? Or does it?  

We know our days in the PR world have changed drastically over the last ten years or so. We are more concerned than ever with measurement, showing ROI and monitoring the health of our brand. Some of our marketing counterparts have been completing these tasks a little longer than we have, but in different ways. It’s time for us all to come together for ultimate success.

At our June 12 PRSA Maryland Conference, Rise of Influencer Communications, we will focus on this topic in an afternoon session with Jeb Brown, chairman, Yes& Agency; Robert Sprague, president & CEO, Yes& Agency; A.J. Guenther, director, Public Relations, ConnellyWorks (a Yes& Agency); and, Jeffrey Davis, APRmanaging partner, Van Eperen, discussing the New Role of PR: Meeting the Needs of Today’s CMO.

If you want to be at the forefront of major changes coming our way, make plans to join us at the Sheraton Baltimore North June 12. Click here for the full program and registration details.

*Read more about Jeb, Robert, A.J. and Jeff as well as all our #PRSAMD18 presenters by clicking here

PR is no longer the red-headed stepchild of sales and marketing departments. Here’s why.

by Jessie Newburn, Atigro Digital Marketing

A decade ago, I accepted a job managing the PR function for an international software development company. I was pretty excited about the opportunity and knew the company had need for the PR function to play a bigger part in its overall game plan for greater brand awareness, increased engagement and, of course, the much-desired press coverage.

On my first day there, after being greeted by my boss, we walked toward my new office.

And walked. And walked. As we turned the final corner, there was a sign someone had taped up on the corridor: “Welcome to the Caves of (company name)”

And, indeed, it felt like a cave. This hallway was the farthest hallway from the center of the office, and it was the darkest with not a speck of natural light coming in.

My office was at the end of the end of the hallway and it was known for having a mysterious and bizarre intermittent smell that somehow seeped up through a crack in the cement floor.

To me, the placement of my office spoke to the company’s attitude about PR. And I’ve heard from many others over the years that public relations is often considered the red-headed stepchild to the all-important sales function, with marketing coming in after that and PR trailing far behind in importance.

Well, I think those days are over. And here’s why.

Where I sit now, inside an SEO-focused and performance-driven company, there’s a theme I hear told to clients again and again when they embark on improving their organic search engine rankings, and it’s this: You need more content. Not just any content. You need good content. To get page rankings (and leads), you need content that starts with well-researched strategic keyphrases. You need content that is compelling; content that addresses a potential client’s pain points; content that truly provides value.

And, who, my dear comrades in communications, who else is better prepared to serve up good content than PR firms and inhouse PR staff?

We know how to craft messages, how to reach people, how to get them to care because we understand that in order for people to care, the information provided (the content created) has to be valuable.

While SEO work has for many years been done in quiet cubicles, sprinkling magical pixie dust of keywords and meta content with a dash of occasional black-hat practices, those days are gone. G-O-N-E. You simply cannot get good SEO results nowadays without, at a bare minimum, good content. (And, of course, good content that is based on a keyword strategy and content that is then optimized for SEO, but that’s getting more into the weeds.)

So, take heart, my friends. Your role as a PR person, your profession, your position at the digital marketing table is not lessening as things become more complex and sophisticated. If anything, quite the opposite.Your role is becoming more prominent, more integral, more collaborative.

That’s how it looks from our side of the table. PR professionals are more important than ever for achieving performance-driven SEO.

Jessie Newburn manages BizDev and the Partner Program at Atigro Digital Marketing. She can be reached at 202-794-7276, or at jessie@atigro.com.

p.s. Atigro Digital Marketing is a top sponsor of the 2018 PRSA Maryland Conference on June 12. Be sure to stop by and say hi to Jessie while you’re there! 

Photo by KaLisa Veer on Unsplash

 

As Social Media Evolves, So Should Your Approach

Get the inside scoop on the latest changes to social media

by Lindsay Nelson, Senior Program Manager, imre

Remember when social media was judged by how many Fans your Facebook page had? You couldn’t go a week without someone asking, “what’s our count up to now?”

If this isn’t something that feels like a blast from the past, you may be in for a bit of a surprise…

Social media continues to evolve, not just by how many people use the increasing number of platforms, or the cool new content types you can develop, but it is also changing how brands can plan, measure, and report value and impacts the actual business.

So, as the power of social media grows, and more brands are finding themselves turning to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, & LinkedIn to help share their story, it’s important to stay in touch with what really matters. Below is a list of just a few cataclysmic shifts in how we think about social media.

Likes, Comments and Shares are NOT the best way to measure value of your efforts: While not entirely misleading, these metrics can be helpful in understanding if people are interested in the content you’re sharing, but social has moved well beyond these measurements to really focus on driving value through site visits, tracking behaviors, understanding your audience, and even tracking sales lift.

Posting organically WON’T help us reach our fans: Long gone are the days of organic when it comes to brand content. In many instances, the time used to route, develop and publish content is not worth it’s weight in exposure if paid isn’t a part of your plan. This is why it’s critical to think through the value of your program in terms of reporting beyond channel metrics (like Fans, comments, shares, and likes) to really be responsible with your investment.

We should NOT just post it on social: While historically many have viewed social media as the place to share your content, it’s increasingly important to consider planning for social media before you even begin developing the content. With continued platform changes, and an endless list of potential placements for your content (pre-roll, mid-stream, in-feed – desktop and mobile, stories, & audience networks… to name a few) having a plan for the content you’re developing, and where it lives, as well as the audience you are targeting is essential to drive home the value social media can provide.

 

Of course, if you’re interested in hearing about these topics and more, please join me at the PRSA Maryland Conference on June 12! I look forward to seeing you there!

*Read more about Lindsay and all our #PRSAMD18 presenters by clicking here

Fake News. Influencers. PR Opportunity or PR risk?

In a world of fake news – actual fake news, not fact-based reports a particular individual doesn’t like – the need for reliable sources of accurate and insightful information has never been greater. Journalists and public relations professionals alike must be increasingly vigilant in how they collect, attribute and disseminate information in order to maintain their credibility amid considerable public skepticism about the work they undertake each day.

Add to this dynamic the rise of influencer marketing – where select individuals with wildly different backgrounds, missions and agendas – can project a digital voice as far and wide as some traditional news outlets, and it’s clear every new communications opportunity the digital/social age affords comes with its own potential pitfalls.

No brand is immune to this reality. The question is how do we, in the PR profession, navigate this. “The best way to keep pace with the various opportunities and risks that today’s market presents is to directly engage with journalists, influencers and peers,” says Dave Curley, SVP and Corporate Communications and Reputation Management Team lead at Sandy Hillman Communications.

One place to do this is at the PRSA Maryland Conference – the Rise of Influencer Communications on June 12, which includes a media panel discussing the implications of Fake News as well as a panel of Influencers and PR strategists decoding influencer marketing strategy.

Ultimately, PR teams that succeed in this environment recognize that “credibility is the ultimate currency,” says Curley, who encourages clients to embrace four communications tenets:

  • Speak with authenticity and authority
  • Don’t speculate – share vetted, fact-based information
  • Act quickly and aggressively to correct inaccurate information in public forums
  • Own your mistakes and apologize when you’re wrong (and vigorously defend yourself when you aren’t)

Is your PR team living these tenets? Are you positioned to leverage the burgeoning communications opportunities in the age of influencer communications?

 

PRSA Maryland 2018 June Conference Related Sessions

The Fake News Phenomenon with Tom Baden, Jr., editor, The Daily Record; Colin Campbell, reporter, Baltimore Sun; Kelly Swoope, news anchor, WMAR-2; Dr. Richard Vatz, professor of rhetoric and communication, Towson University; Moderator:  Debra Schindler, regional director of PR and media, MedStar Health

Explore the state of news media and the fake news phenomenon sweeping the world. Members of the media reveal how fake news impacts their work, how they report news now, and the future of journalism. Learn how communication professionals can work with members of the news media to ensure the highest caliber of information is delivered. Get a sneak peek into newsroom discussions and the editorial decision-making process in the modern age.

Rise of Influencer Communications:  Changing the Face of PR and Marketing with Christine Carter, influencer and global consumer marketing strategy analyst, McCormick & Company; Jill Smokler, founder, Scary Mommy; Margaret Nam, influencer and social media manager, Planit; and Jessica Fast, Abel Communications

Connecting with target audiences and increasing earned reach in social media is becoming difficult due to restrictive content algorithms. Enter influencer communications. Get a 360° view of social media influencer communications and learn how it’s changing the face of PR and marketing. You’ll interact with agencies and influencers to discover how and why influencers are changing how brands reach today’s audiences. Get tips on where to find influencers who are best for your brand and key how-to’s from pay v. trade, contracts, and measuring.

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