Tag Archives: Public Relations

Who Are Digital Influencers?

7 Aug

Who are digital influencers? What do they do? How do you identify them? If you work in the marketing and communications business, I’m sure you’ve either asked (or have been asked) these questions. The topic of digital influencers has been a pretty trendy one in a few brainstorms I’ve participated in over the past few months. Marketing and PR teams are constantly trying to find ways to innovate and this is a sexy new way of doing it.

In my opinion, there should be a loose definition for “digital influencers” because brands will work with them in their own unique ways. If I had to give a very generalized definition, I’d say digital influencers are online personalities who’ve built a following around an area (or areas) they’re most passionate about. Some of my favorite digital influencers I’ve had a pleasure of working with are JessiMae Peluso, @NYDoorman and Rae Holliday. JessiMae’s a popular stand-up comic who got her big break on MTV’s “Girl Code.” @NYDoorman started his parody account a few years ago and built a following around NYC nightlife and events. Rae Holliday is one of hip hop’s premiere socialites.

 

Once you’ve discovered a digital influencer who shares the same passion points as your brand, then it’s time to think about how you can collaborate. It’s important that you look at it as a partnership and not a build on to something existing. Digital Influencers will only work with brands that their followers love. Once the partnership is formed, there are tons of ways to create content. Below is a list of a few different ways:

  • Exclusive Content Series
  • Press Events (don’t just invite media, invite digital influencers for real-time promotion)
  • Product reviews
  • Twitter Parties
  • Facebook Takeovers

Now you’re probably wondering how to connect with these individuals. There are professional “connectors” who help brands and influencers work together. In fact, I’m one of them. Before I started working professionally as a connector, I had the privilege of meeting a ton of digital influencers at events or through social media. Initially I participated in conversations with digital influencers for the same reason you’ll want to work with them – I thought they were cool. I didn’t realize I was building a powerful network. I then was able to help my clients create major campaign partnerships with these guys. If your brand is looking to build out a digital influencer program, I highly recommend meeting with a connector who has experience working with these individuals. They can help your team build relationships for ongoing partnerships.

What are some of your favorite brand/digital influencer partnerships?

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Operation: PR Student (#OPRS)

4 Feb

Do you remember the beginning of your last semester of college? You were probably involved in more than three organizations, interning, on a national board and trying to find a job, right? Or … is that my story? Regardless, I think you get my point. The PR profession has some amazing students aspiring to

Operation: PR Student #OPRS

be just like us. However, it is a lot harder to get into this industry than it looks. For a lot of vacant positions, it is extremely important that students know someone on the inside to pass along their resume.

The thought of a passionate and capable student having to settle for less than their dream is unacceptable. This is why I have decided to encourage every PR professional to find one student and help them land their first post-graduation gig! I’ve found my student and we are working hard to get her in with an NYC-based agency.

How does it work?

  • Find a student who has realistic job-placement goals and help them accomplish them. Before taking on a student, I suggest you make sure you have a perfect match. For instance, if your student wants to work in political communications and you don’t have any connections in that industry, it probably isn’t a good match.
  • Help the student to improve their resume and cover letter.
  • When they land the interview, offer to host a mock interview with them.
  • Blog about it! Put it on Facebook! Tweet about it! I want other professionals and students to share their experience with this process so it becomes something we do every year.

Pretty simple, right?

Imagine how you can make a difference in a student’s life by taking the initiative to help them accomplish what someone helped you to accomplish.

Will you step up to the plate and help a student out?

3 Things Communicators Can Learn From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

17 Jan

As someone who is extremely passionate about leadership, I have always been a huge fan of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK). When I think of a leadership style I plan to mirror in the near future, it is of one similar to MLK’s charismatic style. Sit back and think about all

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

of the managers you’ve worked with in the past. Was there one who was naturally full of energy and positive reinforcement that you loved being around and jumped to assist whenever they needed something? If so, it’s probably because you fell in love with that manager’s charismatic leadership style. MLK humbly accepted the offer to lead a movement that put him, his family and his followers’ lives at risk on a daily basis. I could spend all day bragging on MLK because I officially drunk the kool-aid but in his honor, I want to share some things communicators can learn from him:

A Well-Researched and Properly Structured Campaign Can Change Perceptions

In this industry, it is often our job to change the way people perceive brands. This is a very challenging job if people have been “stuck in their ways” for a long period of time. Sadly, this was the campaign MLK and his team had to run in order to fight for human rights. He and his team researched what was being done in the past, the most effective channels of communication and the backgrounds of potential spokespeople to be the face of the campaign. Through his research, he discovered violence would not do anything but intensify the problems in the community. Rallies and marches proved to be very effective channels of communication because of all the media coverage they attracted and college students, political figures and community leaders were proved to be excellent spokespeople. The results? … just look around the next time you sit down in Starbucks.

Fight Passionately For What You Believe In

Everything from advocacy campaigns to pushing back at work is common things practitioners fight for on a regular basis. If you believe in something, you have to go for it. As a result of fighting passionately, MLK lost his life but he did not lose it in vain. If this great leader was still alive, he would be very proud of our country.

Humility Is a Key Characteristic to Become a Successful Practitioner

A public relations practitioner’s job is what I like to call a “behind-the-scenes position.” The majority of things we do consist of making someone else look great. In their campaign speeches, they’re not going to conclude with “thanks to the PR team for writing this piece” and the front cover of The NY Times will not read “pitched by Agency X.” If you know MLK’s story, you know he did not want to be the face of the movement but felt it was his place to serve his people. During the Civil Rights Movement, MLK walked in the rallies his team organized, sacrificed plenty of financial earnings and missed out on many days of his children’s lives. If this doesn’t paint a picture of humility, I am not sure what does.

Dr. King


What are some other ways we as communicators can learn from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

This Is Why I Want To Earn My Agency Stripes

10 Jan

The Cast of Mad Men -- talk about earning agency stripes

The marketing/public relations field isn’t the easiest to understand when you’re on the outside looking in. As communicators, it is our job to properly educate those who don’t understand our area of expertise as well as we do – team accounting, team law, team advertising, team C-suite and everyone else. Of course, we’re all working together to generate revenue for one company, but sometimes everyone gets caught up in their department teams. This situation is usually something you see in every environment but agency.

As you all know, I am a proud junior staffer at an agency but … I did not start off in agency. My most memorable college internship was working for the mayor of Charlotte, on his political campaign team.

I served as his press assistant and worked under the press secretary, communications director and campaign manager as the press assistant. While working on the campaign, I saw some things that convinced me to take an agency route right out of college. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the structure of political campaigns, it’s basically a variety of people who have different professional backgrounds coming together to help a candidate get elected.

As a PR/marketing student, the “what’s the value in this program” and “why is this more important than this” questions were extremely challenging to answer. Was there an answer to those questions? … Yes. Could I present a valid case … No. Being the young and confident student I was, I thought I had all of the answers but I didn’t. There was something about questions regarding PR measurement that was always confusing.

This is why I decided agency would be best for me right after college. The majority of agency junior staffer positions are designed to help you grow in this area. In the agency setting, you’re surrounded by PR/marketing people and you don’t have to worry about the “what’s the value in this program” or “why is this more important than this” questions because someone else will be responsible for answering it. Well, not exactly … but you get my point, right? This is the perfect time for you to sit back, observe and learn.

If someone asked those questions today, I could shoot out an answer without any hesitation and I honestly think it’s because of my agency experience.

Have you ever been in a similar situation?

Chief Marketing Officer Is Such a Beautiful Title

22 Dec

In the 9th grade, I met a short, opinionated and tough-loving educator. Her name was Kathy Pinner (Mrs. Pinner) and she was in charge of my high school’s marketing program. Mrs. Pinner was truly one of a kind.  A lot of students didn’t understand that there was a method to her madness. Some perceived her as a bitter lady who was out to get everyone but this was far from true.

I believe Mrs. Pinner created a strategic plan that her students won’t fully understand until they’re writing a blog post about aspiring to be the head of

The Four P's of marketing

marketing for a company. Her number-one goal for students is quite simple: to instill an unwavering passion for the field of marketing.

I’m glad I met Mrs. Pinner because ever since the 10th grade, I have not been able to turn off this passion for marketing. As you all know, I am a young professional with a long list of huge dreams. The latest edition to the list is becoming a chief marketing officer – the C-suite representative who oversees all marketing for a company. I’ve gone back and forth on this latest goal for some time but it is now official.

When I received my degree in marketing, I decided to get another in PR because other than advertising, it seemed to be the most complex integrated marketing communications (IMC) tool. Of course, I found PR to be a great fit for me as well but one of the main reasons I wanted the degree and experience was to make sure I didn’t limit my future opportunities in marketing.

Some may ask, “Why work in PR if you want to be a CMO?” … Here’s my answer:

The CMO Controls PR’s Budget

Not everywhere, but most PR departments get their budget from and report to the CMO. When I listen to some PR professionals complain about budget constraints, it always seems like the controller of the budget – the CMO – did not see the value in what the PR team was proposing. The typical career path for a CMO does not include PR. Usually, they work on the advertising side at an agency, move to corporate, get their MBA and boom … CMO! Well, not that easy but you get my point. Who is better to understand PR than someone that has worked in the field?

Social Media Is Changing, Has Changed and Will Continue to Change Marketing

While industry leaders are still fighting over where social media belongs, I have made up my mind: it’s a PR responsibility. In order to effectively manage someone, I need to know how to do their job. The CMO job responsibilities will continue to change as does everything in this field. When I think of a CMO who gets it, I think of Lisa Gavales of Express Fashion. Lisa is a very innovative CMO who isn’t afraid of social media and does a great job incorporating “social” in her marketing plan.

Becoming a CMO is a long-term goal. I am only 23 and don’t plan on becoming a CMO any time soon. Until then, I will continue to enjoy my life as a junior staffer at a great agency, learning as much as possible.

Does this sound realistic? What do you think the CMO position will look like in 15 years?

Let Kanye Be Kanye

17 Nov

Today’s post is part II of a two-part series. Yesterday, I shared my opinion on this situation and today, PR professional Brandon Vaughan is sharing a guest post with his opinion (which is slightly different than mine).

I would first like to say that this post is not a rebuttal to Kion’s. I, too am a big fan of Kanye (or “Yeezy” as most fans call him) and I was also taken aback after seeing his interview with Matt Lauer on the Today Show. However, I can’t say that I was very surprised by his reactions during the interview. This isn’t the first time that he has ill-expressed himself in front of millions, and I think it’s easy for many to say Kanye will be Kanye. That said, a controversial response from Kanye is not something new, but specifically this time, rather than being disgusted at his actions, I empathized with him.

Empathy and sympathy are two similar, but fundamentally different things (during the interview Kanye also mentioned that he ‘empathized’ with George Bush), and to truly empathize is to show compassion for. I find compassion in the emotional verity of Kanye’s response.This is not the first time we have seen Kanye react so emotionally, in fact his facial expressions and obvious emotional discontent are very similar to those seen in his original, infamous ‘Hurricane Katrina Response’.

“Now all I need is y'all to pronounce my name / It's Kanye - But some of my plaques - they still sayKayne”

As PR professionals, it is our job to make sure our clients represent themselves in the most positive (or appropriate) manner, however it is also our job to make sure that their representation is indicative of their reality.  Based on what we can glean from reported information, I think that Susie Arons from Rubenstein Communications did everything she was supposed to do as a professional PR practitioner. As hired counsel, she successfully recommended to Kanye that he cancel his interview (perhaps because she felt that he was unprepared), and there was probably not much that she could do when he decided to change his mind hours later.

As a client, Kanye was well within his right to abstain from Ms. Aron’s advice, but  I think that proper and complete media training would have helped him to express his thoughts more effectively. Pain and frustration are seldom simple to express. The purpose behind media training isn’t to ‘coach answers’, rather it exists to give clients the skills they need to express themselves clearly and concisely.  Beyond the controversy of the statements themselves, I think Kanye came to the Today Show with a lot of things that he wanted to say, but he came without the tools that he needed. I do think Lauer’s purpose was to elicit a reaction, and subsequent apology from Kanye for his past reactions, but I also don’t think that Kanye was ready, or willing to give him those.

“Yeezy taught me.”

Fans of George Bush or Taylor Swift might not like Kanye very much based on his comments, but frankly, they probably didn’t like him much before his outbursts. In the days since his Today Show appearance, Kanye’s friends like JayZ, Selita Ebanks, Common and even Hip-Hop guru Russell Simmons have expressed their support for Kanye, with Simmons saying in “An Open Letter to Kanye West, “there is no need to apologize, Kanye. You spoke from your heart and that is all we will ever ask from you.”

He’s outlandish. He’s uncontrollable. He’s an interviewer’s nightmare, and yet, through his perfect imperfections, he remains truthful to himself.

I am not excusing any of Kanye’s actions, rather I’m saying : Let Kanye be Kanye.

Do you think Kanye should give media training another go?

Kanye West Is Not The Victim

16 Nov

Kanye West

Today’s post is part I of a two-part series. Wednesday, PR professional Brandon Vaughan will guest post and share his opinion (which is slightly different than mine) on the situation.

As a fan of rapper Kanye West, I am very disappointed with his behavior in the recent interview with Matt Lauer on “The Today Show.” Kanye met with Matt Lauer to discuss a recent George W. Bush interview where the former president claimed Kanye’s 2005 “George Bush does not care about black people” statement was one of the most disgusting moments of his presidency.

According to the NY Times, Kanye was coached by public relations agency Rubenstein Communications before his interview. If Kanye was coached by this agency, there are only two possible outcomes: he didn’t listen to anything they suggested or they’re not strategic public relations professionals. I’m a nerd for this industry so I will assume Kanye did not listen to the suggestions from this agency.

During the interview, Kanye perpetuated stereotypes everyone loves to hate him for – being cocky and rude. No matter what anyone says about Mr. West, he is a very, very talented artist and I will always be a fan. BUT, he continuously makes it hard to defend him in my inner-circle conversations. I know a great deal of people who will not support his music career because of his constant personal-life eff ups.

After watching the interview five times, I realized Kanye thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to say the first thing that comes to his head. Yes, he is a regular human being like everyone else but he is also a brand.

 

Kanye West

There were two incidents during the interview that got my blood boiling:

Kanye’s verbal and nonverbal reactions to Matt Lauer showing him a video of George W. Bush commenting on the situation

  • Kanye didn’t think it was necessary for this clip to be played because he didn’t need it to prompt any emotions. According to Kanye, he all ready was ready to apologize without seeing the clip. I totally understand Kanye’s point but it’s not his show and he wasn’t the journalist. Kanye should have followed Matt’s direction and shared his thoughts off set. Not only was he very rude while verbally expressing his disgust but he gave Matt and his team some very nasty looks.

Kanye complaining about hearing the “sound” when they ran the b-roll footage of him and Taylor Swift

  • First of all, I think Kanye was more upset at the fact they were playing the clip and not mad because he could hear the sound. If it was loud enough to distract him, that’s inappropriate but Kanye needs to realize the Taylor Swift incident will follow him for life. Sadly,  a lot of people will only remember him for that – mainly Taylor Swift’s hardcore following.

I could go on and on about this but I would love to hear your thoughts on this situation. Below is the video, what do you think about it?

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