Influence is Great, but Advocacy is Golden!

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Image by: Google

In the business world, increasing your organization’s reach is essential. As a matter of fact, it is imperative! Because so much of our marketing efforts are being redirected to the digital space, we now have to switch how we market to our audiences.

One of the key metrics that any organization can measure is influence. Now, I am sure you are all pros at this stuff but for those who have no idea what I’m talking about, I will explain exactly what it is. This post is going to outline a few things:  what is an influencer, who our influencers are (from a business standpoint), where influencers spend their time and how they are different from advocates.

So, right about now you are probably asking yourself “what is an influencer?” in the context of digital and social marketing, an influencer is a person, whether a journalist, online consumer, blogger or business prospect, who has the ability to change or sway public opinions and behaviors. These people are capable of driving outcomes that are measurable to some degree for your business. Influencers are important people and can either help or hurt your business.

In order to effectively increase your digital reach, finding out who your influencers are is very important. Why? Because they help you to stay in business. So, let’s put this into a way that you can understand. Have you ever searched online for a product, maybe for a pair of shoes or a new game console and you were not sure if the shoes were worth it or whether one console was better than another? If you are anything like me you did some research before buying. You either read reviews about the product on some website or watched video reviews via YouTube. The people who take time to write reviews and record videos to talk about your product are your influencers. They are the ones who educate the rest of the world about the quality of your work.

Where do influencers spend their time? That’s very simple. EVERYWHERE! Your companies influencers are on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube and a host of others. They are also on blogs, forums and other online communities. The bottom line is this: You need to be where your influencers are. You need to be in tuned with what they are saying about your business so that you can make your mark on the online community. Here are the benefits of being at the right place at the right time:

  1. Shows that you actually care about your reputation
  2. Allows for immediate response to a bad or good PR situation
  3. Gives you a chance to show your consumers and prospective customers that you are a thought leader within your industry
  4. Helps build credibility among your peers and other thought leaders

If you aren’t already convinced that online influence is important to your business and to the growth of your organization, let us look at an example of how influence can affect your business.

Right now Buick and Hyundai are receiving a lot of backlash for posting about their product in light of a tragic situation. The byline reads: “A child abduction should never be viewed as a marketing opportunity.” That alone tells you that things are not okay in the land of Buick and Hyundai. To make a long story short, people are mad and they are expressing their opinions about it online. Take a look:

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If Buick and Hyundai are smart, they will respond to the crisis in the same medium in which the public heard about it. In order to do that they must first know where their audience is on the web.

Influence is great, but advocacy is golden. Why? Because advocates do everything that influencers do but with an added bonus. Advocates support and recommend the things that they love and if your brand is one of them, then you have yourself a new medium for exploration. You can now disseminate information about your products and services without having to lift a finger to type. If you are in the same places with your audience, engaging with them about your company and your products and services then you have more than just followers. You have a return on your investment! You have a way to push your message out to the public and gain credibility! When one person shares your brand with the people he or she influences, your brand starts to grow! Most importantly, it grows with positive enforcement to support it.

The On-Switch Moment

  1. When you realize that you have to be where your audience is
  2. When you accept the fact that your brand is being talked about, sometimes negatively and sometimes positively
  3. When you care enough to go after your influencers and turn them into advocates

The Plight of Young Professionals: Insight to Excite

By: Google Images

By: Google Images

 

I know this post is not directly related to public relations or to social media; however, I feel the need to speak to every young professional out there who is either in the same situation as I (jobless) or have obtained a job that is not in the field in which they attended school to learn. I believe that we all share a common goal and that is to seek achievement, recognition, acceptance, guidance and most of all success.

The purpose of this post is to put into perspective, based off of previous conversations with other young professionals, friends and colleagues, how we as young professionals feel about the working world and why it is so hard to get to where we need to be professionally when we have the credentials and only seek a means to better our lives. This is only my opinion and should be treated as such. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion! So please, share yours with me.

Anyway, getting on to my point. As young professionals we are given the task of making our own way, achieving for ourselves the dreams that are instilled in us by our parents and grandparents. We are challenged to rise above the rest of society and make something of ourselves. We are encouraged to go to college and get a degree so that we can one day work for a company that pays top dollars, a company replete with benefits, a company that values us and keeps us around because we are so “awesome” and have such a bright future. Yet so many of us are left with pierced hearts and egos because we are promised a piece of the American pie and still have nothing to show for it after college is completed.

College Only Teaches Us What It Wants Us To Know

Given my current situation (a recent graduate of Marquette), I have had the opportunity to look at life a little differently. Being on the opposite side of collegiate struggles, I can now understand that college is, in my opinion, underrated. Here is why:

We as students are taught the basic principles of certain subjects. We work through all of the prerequisites to declare a major. Once we declare a major we work to master that one subject. However, college focuses so much on getting us to learn one subject that it does not teach us how to survive with what we have learned. We graduate from college with only the basic knowledge of our subject, but what about the other important subjects and skills we fail to get practice realize are important? For instance, many of us know how to communicate with the public but have no idea how to make a budget or write a proposal or craft a business plan.

Another flaw within the system is the fact that the school system is based on a pass/fail criteria. That detracts from students actually learning! We focus so much on getting the grade that we fail to retain all of the information given to us. Yes, you can argue that it is about applying oneself but what is application without motivation? Then, we get to the point where we have finally passed the class, but don’t care for the material because we have conditioned our minds to retain information only for the purpose of passing the next test or quiz. Now, where do students go from here? WE TEACH OURSELVES!

I value education because THAT cannot be written off on our tax sheets and it doesn’t cost us a thing. School on the other hand…well, we will feel that burning a hole in our pockets for years to come.

Working With What We Have To Obtain What We Don’t

The most daunting part about being a young professional is questioning whether or not we have what it takes to make it in the working world. Believe me, it is pretty scary especially when we have other responsibilities like taking care of ourselves: paying for rent, feeding our faces and just surviving with the bare minimum. Somehow we have to make it work and only with the help of those who care for us. It is true what they say, “It is not always what you know, but who you know.”

Young professionals have the incredible task of finding a career, not just a job, and proving to employers that we are “worthy” to be hired and to wear the crest of accomplishment. Well, given that we often graduate with little to no experience and a couple of internships to show, how realistic is it that we actually have a breakthrough and find a company that is willing to not only accept who we are as human beings, whether Black, White, Asian, Hispanic or otherwise, but also know that we often still need some sort of guidance to get where we want to go. It seems as though companies and organizations want the cream of the crop right out of college but turn away so many of us with promising intellect, drive, motivation and ambition. I assume that is not enough when all that matters is improving the company’s bottom line and making money. Companies often do not hold on to prospects long enough for them to make a splash and show themselves “worthy” to be a part. So once again, where do we go from here? WE GRIND AND KEEP IMPROVING OUR SKILL SET!

In a country where companies claim to be “equal opportunity employers,” I find it amazing that so many of us young professionals seek even entry-level employment but many times are told to “strengthen your resume and get back with us” or “polish your skills and reapply.” Well guess what Mr./Ms. Employer? We can only work with the little that we have and if no one is there to MENTOR us then we must do it ourselves!

What Should Young Professionals Do About Their Situation?

If you do nothing else in your life, find the skill set you are naturally good at. Whether it is writing, drawing, planning, organizing, teaching, etc., find your niche and perfect it. There is always someone who can’t do what you can do! Here are some tips to help you along the way:

  1. Market to individuals who seek your skill set
  2. Read up on how to improve your skill set
  3. Practice your skill set
  4. Make yourself available to smaller businesses in order to gain experience working in a professional setting
  5. Stay encouraged and keep working at your craft!
  6. Share your work with the world! How else will you build credibility?
  7. Brand yourself alongside your work. You have what it takes to get where you need to go. Just be faithful!

Please let me say that this does not at all suggest that I hate companies or organizations. I am simply providing a different perspective on the professional world and encouraging other young professionals to keep striving for success. Also, I am not discouraging people from going to college. Please, go to college. It teaches a lot about being self-sufficient and decision-making.

SOMETIMES THE BEST OPTION IS TO DO IT YOURSELF! CREATE SOMETHING MEANINGFUL FOR YOU AND WATER IT SO THAT IT GROWS INTO SOMETHING YOU CAN BE PROUD OF!

I would like to take the time to say I’ve enjoyed every moment of my thriving life and every experience that I’ve had. I have truly worked with some great women and men in my life and I have learned so much from them. I’ve learned a great deal of strategy, business tactics and learned from some of the best in the PR and social media business. I am grateful and look forward to making my mark on the world.

Peace and Love!

Public Relations: Why Your Business is Nothing Without A Plan

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by: Google images

How many stories have you heard about a brand that was once adored and loved by the public but are now just mere memories of what it used to be? Can you recall any businesses with damaged reputations due to a lack of proper planning or horrible communication? If not, let me assure you that brands exist, companies exist, with bad or no public relations plans in place.

I know you’ve heard the saying by Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Well, Benjamin was right! You’re business will fail if you just go into it without some plan of action.

After reading, you should get a good understanding of why public relations is important not only to large companies but also to small companies and individuals who strive to keep a positive image for their brands. Every business needs public relations. You will also learn what it takes to prevent a crisis from incurring.

What is public relations? Public relations is the management of one’s brand image and reputation. The relationship between a company and the public. In accordance with the Public Relations Society of America, it encompasses a few things:

  1. Anticipating, analyzing and interpreting public opinion, attitudes and issues that might impact, good or ill, the operations and plans of the organization.
  2. Counseling management at all levels in the organization with regard to policy decisions, courses of action and communication, taking into account their public ramifications and the organization’s social or citizenship responsibilities.
  3. Researching, conducting and evaluating, on a continuing basis, programs of action and communication to achieve the informed public understanding necessary to the success of an organization’s aims. These may include marketing; financial; fund-raising; employee, community or government relations; and other programs.
  4. Planning and implementing the organization’s efforts to influence or change public policy. Setting objectives, planning, budgeting, recruiting and training staff, developing facilities…

Who do PR plans effect? Public relations effects a companies stakeholders: suppliers, customers, employees and investors. So, it is a pretty important factor in contributing to an organization’s success.

Why is it important? Well, in an age where social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter serve as platforms for expressing one’s opinion, stakeholders have an incredible amount of power in that they can influence how others see your organization. If a stakeholder is dissatisfied about a product or service your company is providing, he or she is within rights to complain all they want to. Depending on how influential that person is, it can mean the difference between earning business or losing several followers and supporters, in turn, negatively affecting your bottom line.

Having a plan in place to handle crisis situations like social media backlash is critical. Without it, you put your organization’s reputation at risk. 

How can you prevent a crisis? Create a plan of action BEFORE it happens! Anticipate what your stakeholders may like or dislike about your products or services. In the event someone does complain about your business, craft a response that answers the stakeholder’s questions. Here is a list of things you SHOULD NOT do in responding to a crisis:

  1. Do not ignore the situation, it will only exacerbate it.
  2. Do not tell the stakeholder that they are wrong for how they feel. That just isn’t smart. That will surely result in a loss of followers.
  3. Do not spin the story! Truth and transparency are essential!
  4. Do not take more than 24 hours to respond. Speed is just as important as truth.
  5. Do not insult the stakeholder. Show sincerity and commitment to solving the issue.

Every word spoken, tweeted and posted on behalf of your organization is under a “spotlight.” Yes, that means you have to be on your best behavior before, during and after the problems occur. It’s okay to exude personality in your posts, just remain professional. Here is a list of things you absolutely SHOULD DO in a crisis:

  1. Listen – It’s important to listen to what your audience is saying about you. 
  2. Respond quickly and appropriately
  3. Again, be professional, responsible and actionable – Own up to your mistake and fix it!

Remember, you want to make your business thrive long-term. Does it really make sense to risk your reputation just to make a point? In my opinion, No. If you think otherwise then you need to reevaluate what your organization’s goals are. Be safe about your business practices and have a PR plan ready.

Hope for the best but plan for the worst! 

Thanks for reading! Please comment on what you think about the post! If you just want to discuss some of the things I written about or ask me questions, my line is open!