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Smooth influencer

There’s no way to dazzle followers like sharing an extended version of one of life’s most romantic if not always completely surprising events, live online. So when Instagram fashion influencer Marissa Casey Fuchs’ fiancé popped the question, the biggest butterflies-in-stomach moments may have been for those tracking the financial impact on her big-name clients, as it seems safe to assume that the event was planned in advance by the couple. Judging from the enthusiastic reception from her fan base, and the free news coverage that ensued, it was one clever idea.

 

The client and the influencer

 

With more than 160,000 followers on Instagram, Fuchs has a long reach. As publicists become more of a part of the story themselves, as companies are able to gain a good following by simply dedicating a few employees to managing their social media accounts in-house, and as images and messages are more easily streamed by anyone for any practically any purpose, just who is promoting whom becomes an intriguing question. Going into a partnership with an another party, the reputation of the more renowned one tends to more significantly affect the less well-known one, or, in the case of two parties on more or less equal footing, it’s a matter of building opportunity, one relationship at a time. Who the greater influencer of them is, is an open question.

 

Every move you make

 

Fuch’s smoothly choreographed engagement was closely followed by her fans, and earned her new ones. The elegant gold necklaces studded with diamonds that were part of the story, the places the couple dined, and other personal details all became part of a brand-focused experience and story. While it may not have been a surprise, the engagement still sparkled, judging by the approving posts of followers, and generated its own feel-good PR, proving that this Instagramer is indeed the FashionAmbitionist she bills herself as.

 

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PR ethics for competition and communication

In this final edition in a short series of blogs on how the Public Relations Society of America’s Code of Ethics relates to online-based PR today, the concepts of furthering communication and competition are looked at. On the face of it, the nature of digital realities today make ‘competition’ and ‘communication’ rather synonymous and symbiotic, seemingly forever feeding each other in an endless round of healthy if at times barbed exchanges online, with no communication-inhibiting monopolization in sight thanks to the competitive nature of posts and counter-posts on Facebook, Trip Advisor and the like…

 

Beyond tit for tat

 

…Only that these social media platforms can become self-serving pedestals and alter the nature and purpose of communication carried out on them. The PRSA’s stated commitment to a free flow of information, are checked by societal forces that have always worked to crush competitive forces, for better or worse, which often links with the idea of limited or at least dramatically curtailed communication. Worse, the go-to biggies of the digital age like Google, Facebook and Mircosoft, while officially espousing free expression, have all come up into trouble for hindering the freedoms they claim they stand for. These three titans have faced, and fought, for example, enormous fines from the European Union, and have become accustomed to operating with few to no rivals. The democratizing forces of the Internet have come up against firewalls protecting multinational institutions, which are often the ones setting the new standards.

 

Is there still room for privacy?

 

While Facebook’s CEO famously derided the idea of privacy in the future, and censorship, facial recognition technology and other digital forces coalesce to serve the consolidation of power, signs of counterbalance are found in new messy norms which champion the peer reviews of the little guy and the growth of the next big-time Gen Z influencer. But as long the Information Age police are the information providers themselves, the whole point of digitalupgrades’ are called into question.

 

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Reinforcing the PR side of PR

Everyone appreciates praise. Yet the art of flattery and persuasion, even in the age of influencers, often seems to have taken a hit. There’s a distinctively impersonal, IT/AI feel to social media, due to its basis on connectivity which takes place without face-to-face interactions. Publicists proud of their lists of and links to influential people would do well to take a pause and ask themselves what their philosophy on relating to people is based on.

 

Online, but not all the time

 

Genuinely glowing reviews often bring in more revenue than well-placed advertisements. Persuading customers and potential buyers to leave behind a few heartfelt words helps generate future sales and better ROI. Money can’t buy this. Prospective buyers are more influenced by peer reviews and storytelling than ever before. So by all means, get your stories out there, spread and shared not just via algorithms and “Likes” but at water coolers and dinner tables.

 

Relating to the public

 

When negative reviews come or damage control is needed these soft or people skills are all the more essential. Getting people to write or otherwise share nice words about you is more of something friends do for each other, not clients of colleagues, no matter how financially valuable the relationship. Goodwill is largely based on other values, even when the bottom line factors in.

 

Online more of the time

 

That being said, do be practical and digital, of course. Maintaining a strong online presence is something PR firms should do and should ask their clients to do as well. It’s an ideal way of spreading good vibes and messages these days, of course.

 

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How to maximize your megaphone

Congratulations on the publication of your article! Is your PR placement online, in print or both? Have you emailed it to the right people and broadcast it far and wide on social media? PR placements play a vital role, but limited bandwidth and a greater number of competitors facing the same concerns means that audiences are smaller, so you’ll have to push more buttons to have the same effect as yesteryear.

 

Resend, and make it resendable

 

The go-to way of spreading messages for PR firms and just about everyone else who want to be heard is of course online, and that of course means efficiently using the right social media platforms. Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are the key places to focus on. Make sure to tap the right influencers for enhancing your key message in your placement, so a wider range of followers and potential customers can be reached. Both quality and quantity matter in terms of platforms for effectively dispersing matters whenever you are extending the reach of an article, advertorial, advertisement or other campaign material with a message people want to hear or you want them to hear.

 

Go ahead, paraphrase

 

Short and effective rewrites are easy ways of enhancing main messages with a minimum amount of work that goes far, and maximizes SEO potential, while drawing a greater range of data seekers to your article. Just about everything except for the link can be worded differently. Similarly, original 1-2 sentence summaries with a link to the original article can be placed on various social media sites to boost readership.

 

Your good work on display

 

In a world logged on, an unplugged, classic and professional approach stands out in unique and powerful ways. Easels, frames for walls and portfolios are just a few ways of enhancing easy and elegant access to attractively presented PR placements, without needing to open your smartphone or laptop.

 

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Determining why and how social media matters

New studies this year are telling us what we all know like never before: the impact of social media is significant and growing in many aspects of human life, including buying and marketing of, well, just about everything, now that you ask.

 

Everybody’s doing it

 

Despite a small but significant group of conscientious objectors and an increasingly smaller segment for whom IT is still beyond reach for economic or cultural reasons, social media usage continues growing unabated. Just under half of respondents in a new study reported that they have upped their online portfolios over the last half a year. Businesses know this, and are all the reminded by the potential digitally generated windfall each time a new statistic like this comes out. Ninety percent of these firms are convinced of the significant benefits of maintaining a strong social media presence. Yet they remain unsure of what this means exactly and how best to exploit this new market.

 

Not everyone’s benefitting

 

Seven out of 10 social media marketers believe they are sharing essential information and tips on how in-house teams can develop beneficial strategies. Yet almost 5 out of 10 struggle to meaningfully contribute to the developing pans that help meet their company’s goals and key needs, including positively impacting profits. While the technology and communications norms of everyday social media usage are just beginning to seem understandable, verifying their net impact on various economic aspects of life remains difficult to track.

 

Give the buyers what they want

 

One study of similar demographics produced two years apart delivered results indicating just how challenging it is to reach out meaningfully to audiences and potential buyers. The first study indicated interest in posts making overt reference to sales and discounts, but the response for this same topic this year was much lower. That part of the PR business never changes: trends are just that, and the truly successful messages and campaigns need to highlight something timeless and beyond the interests of the day.

 

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And the innovators are…

Boston Consulting Group recently released its report “The Most Innovative Companies 2019: The Rise of AI, Platforms, and Ecosystems”. The companies at the top shifted slightly, and, ironically, are also those sometimes known for losing their knack for creative intentions.

 

Innovation means IT

 

The #1 position has been taken by Google, having replaced Apple at the top. The former #1 and new #3 has been in the news lately not so much for innovation and carrying on in the outside-the-box spirit of its late founder, Steve Jobs, but for a future focusing on streaming original series for fans of the brand. Apple has also been on the defensive in terms of sales of smartphones and other gadgets, with competition stiffening with the up-and-coming Huawei. The top 10 positions on the list of innovative companies were dominated by tech firms, which gives a good indication of how IT provides need to be on the ball and changing all the time, lest market shares and the advantages of leadership slip away. Just ask Nokia.

 

A Google will rise

 

Even the new #1, the world’s most famous search engine, will not impress everyone with taking over the top slot, as this can be seen as the inevitable position of a behemoth controller and provider of information that insists on getting its way. The king of SEO will be seen as innovative by size and influence alone, no matter what effects this may have on daily life, for good or otherwise. Amazon, an online good provider making bold plans for a whole new bricks-and-mortar shopping experience, placed second. Notable at #4 is bundling giant Microsoft, also no stranger of bullying competitors and customers with offers they can’t refuse.

 

Another fly higher

 

Meanwhile in other barometers of success, another firm worth mentioning is Singapore Airlines, which has long been the world’s most awarded airline. The carrier credits its successful campaigns and popularity with travelers by taking the approach that localization is hardly synonymous with translation, and that nuanced, contextual understanding of and respect for local audiences is essential in forging the right connections. The company’s latest tagline, ‘Making Every Journey Personal’ says it all about what happens when you live up to your own PR.

 

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Influence through the ages

While there’s tendency to look at modern, IT-focused folks these days as something like minions, overly reliant on our smarter-than-us smartphones and losing the ability to think independently, the truth is humans have never been all that hard to persuade. We are easily influenced, and influencers have long been toying with our perceptions of ourselves and how we might ideally perceive ourselves. But while we may not be fully in charge of our own destiny, we can at least be alert enough to retain significant influence in deciding who we let influence us in the digital age.

 

Incognito by nature

 

Two years ago, the US government called on social media influencers to be more open about who they are and who their sponsors are. The relevant regulating board noted that “clarity counts” in its advice for the industry to self-regulate, calling into question vague attributions such as #collab, #ambassador or #spon. Yet the lack of clarity and anonymity of those posting messages provides them the cover of security when whistleblowing is called for – not to mention good old-fashioned privacy.

 

All’s Well that Ends Well

 

This play by William Shakespeare’s play includes the advice of one character to another that if you “eat, speak, and move, under the influence of the most receiv’d star” the chances of career advancement and steering clear of trouble are higher. But while a full fourth of the master wordsmith’s many plays include the word “influence”, rarely is the word presented in a positive context. “Influence” derives from the Latin words for “inflow”, and indeed in many ways being influenced is as natural as breathing. But we must be on guard. Cautionary tales abound, and the truism “buyer beware” retains significance in the digital era. Be mindful of the influence that blows your way, and be careful of what you take to be truth.

 

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Australia cracks down on violence in social media

Social media executives are now liable for punishment for scenes depicting “abhorrent” violence that are not “expeditiously” removed, according to a new law in Australia. The significant shift can more easily turn erstwhile nearly untouchable online publishers into criminals for their being deemed as overly lax on oversight of material on their sites. While traditional media has long played by such rules, social media has been held less accountable due to the nature of running a sharing community in which everyone is a potential content provider, with allegedly fewer opportunities for effective checkpoints.

 

Large platforms need to more responsible, not less

 

The clear message the new legislation sends is that larger sites like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, with their many millions of members, need to see themselves as complicit with the shockingly easy available videos and rants of an extremely offensive nature. A platform’s large size, rather than being used as an excuse for the difficulty of effective monitoring, should be all the more reason for more effective checking for the appropriateness of information being transmitted on such a scale.

 

Higher technology, lower morality

 

While representatives from many in technology and social media companies have raised concerns about the legislation, Australian Attorney Genera Christian Porter said that just as TV stations wouldn’t be able to get away with showing footage of a murder, neither should social media. Punishment for people hosting a service and neglecting to take appropriate action to remove material can now face up to three years in prison, a fine of 2.1 Australian dollars.

 

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Who do you think you’re influencing?

In a wild west town called Influence, self-made people with genuine followers are everywhere, as well as a fair share of hucksters, charlatans, and big-talking wannabes. Some deliver what they say they can. Many don’t. Oftentimes, the truth is somewhere in between, and companies need to be shrewd in sizing up the good, the less than good, and the genuinely influential aspects of people contacting them and interested in forming ‘partnerships’… Meanwhile in the Philippines, one resort was so fed up with dodgier influencers looking for freebies that it decided it was high time to take a stand.

 

Even in paradise, please try to ‘actually work’

 

The Banana Beach Club resort in the surfers’ paradise of Siargao won many admirers (and a few critics), when it fired out a sharply barbed missive worded like this: “Help out there. We are receiving many messages regarding collaborations with influencers, Instagram influencers. We kindly would like to announce that White Banana is not interested to ‘collaborate’ with self-proclaimed ‘influencers’”. Kindly, but firmly, the resort zinged, “And we would like to suggest to try another way to eat, drink, or sleep for free. Or try to actually work.”

 

The Siargao way

 

Noble-minded but less followed influencers may not be welcome at the Banana Beach Club, while brash-sounding pros who actually provide results will find doors open, at least a crack. A word of advice to those asking to collaborate but less than capable of bringing home the KPIs: companies are genuinely interested in those delivering real digital influence. But if your PR experience is more big ideas, and less of a track record, be ready for rejection. That being said, it never hurts to ask.

 

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Intellectual property violations, imitation as flattery, and the PR in between

“There’s only one Colonel in Chicken Town.” This is how a narrator wraps up a new, much-talked about ad for KFC UK, in which Colonel Sanders styled like the Godfather, accompanied by the film’s famous theme, drives through tough streets teeming with fake KFCs. Instead of taking on the copycats directly, he awes them simply by fearlessly cruising through their neighborhood on his way to the real KFC. There he gets down to work, making the fried chicken that the brand is renowned for. It’s a clear message that the original master still has the most street cred.

 

Pirates of the Information Age

 

Intellectual Property (IP) and other violations regarding logos, films, songs, secret recipes and other creations can cause significant financial loss. Pirates have gone mainstream on platforms like YouTube, aided by technology that is complicit in diminishing the original work of creators. Grey areas have sprouted up everywhere online and elsewhere in regards to whom should profit from what ideas and products and to what extent, in a culture in which IP sharing has been normalized.

 

Amplified with intention

 

The KFC commercial’s message is thematically integrated into posters featuring the logos of the imitators, with similar all-caps lettering reminiscent of KFC, but instead declaring DFC, RFC, LFC, etc. KFC signs off at the bottom of the posters with “Guys, we’re flattered”, taking stock of the situation and spinning a negative into a positive with a classic comeback. Taking on any issue with the style and poise of a grand master creates a lasting impression – especially if you’re iconic enough to back it up.

 

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