February 14th, 2013
michchandler

Behind the Scenes at Crossroads PR – Our methodology for content creation

Drum roll, please! …We have a new video series on our YouTube channel, Behind the Scenes at Crossroads PR!  The foundation of our communications methodology and recipe to our success is the tremendous value we provide with ongoing strategic counsel and client support.  In this series, get the scoop on how we generate results and work with our clients as a strategic partner.

At Crossroads, we live by our mantra “great PR starts with great content.” Our first video explains our pride and joy – the PR Sales Funnel. Learn about our methodology to generate, distribute and monitor the success of great content. We break down all of the steps for our viewers:  define strategy, identify expertise, generate content, promote, and last but not least, monitor, report, analyze and tweak. 

In our second video, we demonstrated how we used our methodology to create a great piece of content. From start(creative brainstorm) to finish (plans for monitoring,) see how we developed an educational infographic for our client, Amino Vital.

Continue following our series as we share our tips and tricks through our viewfinder.  In the meantime, you’ll have to give my colleagues a big round of applause for sharing their expertise!

 

p.s. Are you following us on YouTube? If not, what are you waiting for? Click the icon below and head to our channel!

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January 21st, 2013
michchandler

Video interviewing on-the-go with your iPhone

You don’t have to be a professional videographer to capture great video. If your iPhone is fully charged (or has a decent charge left – more than 20%) and you have space on your phone, you’re ready to shoot video.  Here are some steps to help you get started.

Step 1: Pick a relatively silent, well-lit location

Don’t feel obligated to buy an external microphone. They’re great to have, but not always an option. Make sure wherever you are filming you can hear the voice of the speaker, especially if you’re somewhere busy like a trade show. You can always go into your video editing software and turn the volume up, but it’s better to get your subject’s natural diction. 

Additionally, make sure you’re in a well-lit area. If you’re in a dark room, depend on the light from a ceiling light or lamp. If you’re indoors, use natural light from a window. Again, this is something you can fix, but a little bit of prep work can save you extra editing.

Step 2:  Prepare your shot

Pull up Camera on your iPhone and switch over to video mode. Hold your iPhone horizontally as if you were looking at a TV screen. If you don’t have a tripod mount, don’t fret.  Relax and hold the phone steady with both hands, keeping your elbows close to your body.

Consider how you want your video to look.  Are you shooting shoulders up? Do you want a clean foreground? You can always go for the classic photographer standard — the rule of thirds.  The rule of thirds requires you to hit the intersection of two lines on an imaginary grid. See the circles in this photo for an idea of how to frame your shot (props to the star of this video, my dog JD.)

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Next, be sure the camera is focused on your subject. Take advantage of the iPhone’s Tap to Focus feature by tapping the screen on his or her face.

Step 3: Test and record

Before getting into your Q&A, shoot a quick introduction video to test the audio.  Have the subject of the video introduce himself by saying his or her name and job title. Play it back and see how it looks and sounds. If you’re happy with it, set up the shot again and capture the rest of your video interview! 

Step 4: Edit, export and share

Transfer the video off your your iPhone and import it into whatever video editing software you’re using. If you own a Mac, iMovie is already available for you. Make an introductory slide, select the best content and edit the lighting and audio as needed. Once you’ve made the appropriate edits, export the video in HD format. Upload your video to YouTube or Vimeo and leverage social media to spread the word.

December 14th, 2012
michchandler

Social Media Snapshot: Today’s Venture Capital Firms

Venture capital firms avoiding brand awareness through self-promotion is so mid-2000’s. VC firms are now tapping resources to tweet, blog and spread the word about their investments. According to a recent New York Times article on this trend, several top firms have built marketing teams or hired PR agencies to help them with building and fostering relationships via social media and reach out to reporters. 

Now that the floodgates have opened, what are they sharing? We did a deep dive into what types of content venture capital firms are sharing across social media platforms, specifically Twitter and LinkedIn. We reviewed 6 firms and broke down content into several categories such as internal content creation (example: blog posts), funding announcements, and industry-related articles. After analyzing a month’s worth of data, we discovered:

Twitter

  • VC firms are actively engaging with their followers. About 27 percent of their tweets were correspondence with followers, re-tweeting mentions and sharing quotes. 
  • 18 percent of tweets involved showcasing portfolio company thought leadership/innovation (articles and bylines.)
  • Company news and events took up about 16 percent of tweets.

LinkedIn

  • LinkedIn was not as popular amongst VC firms. Only 1/3 of the reviewed companies had a frequently updated LinkedIn company page.
  • Out of those two firms, 25 percent of status updates were editorial coverage (articles and bylines) focusing on the firm.
  • 23 percent of LinkedIn company page status updates were related to job openings at the firm.

Want to see what’s currently trending in the VC community? We recommend checking out peHUB’s buzz monitor. Get an idea of who is active on Twitter, the most shared links, and more. 

October 23rd, 2012
michchandler

Why B2B companies need to be on LinkedIn

B2B companies, are you on LinkedIn yet? If not, you’re definitely missing out. According to the B2B Social Media Guide, 45% of B2B companies have gained a customer using LinkedIn. In our experience at Crossroads, compared to other social media platforms, LinkedIn is one of the top social media referring traffic sources (not to mention normally in the top 10 drivers of referral traffic to the website.)

So what exactly are you missing out on?

  • Share updates such as articles, press coverage and company news.
  • Showcase your company’s products and solutions by adding Product Pages on your Company Page.
  • Build your credibility as an industry expert by providing feedback on the latest industry trends.
  • Provide a resource for potential customers and partners to learn about your company.
  • Opportunity to further boost/increase SEO by creating a company page. On your personal page, you can post links on your personal profile.
  • Network and connect with potential technology and service partners

We strongly encourage our clients to build their presence on LinkedIn. For example, with one of our clients, LinkedIn has consistently been in the top 10 website referral sources since they have been active on the platform. The last three months at a glance show LinkedIn was the #5 referring site in July, #7 in August and #5 in September. On average, LinkedIn referred 46% of new visitors during those three months, a considerable number of new “eyeballs” to put on your products and services. Visitors (new and previous) spent approximately 3 minutes on the site, meaning they took quality time to learn about our client and its services.

If your company does not have a LinkedIn company page, get started now! Don’t miss a chance on this great opportunity to reach your target audience. Here’s a few suggestions for when the page is up and running:

  • Get your first batch of followers by reaching out to your employees and encourage them to share links from your company page
  • Posting in the morning is your best bet for high engagement.
  • Keep the page fresh by updating and/or adding new content at least once a week.
  • Share links. LinkedIn recently stated posts with links have up to 45% more engagement based on a study of all company statuses with at least 1,000 impressions.

For more tips, check out this infographic on creating status updates.

March 26th, 2012
michchandler

Facebook Fan Page DIY – Switching over to Facebook Timeline

Change doesn’t have to be scary.  This week, Facebook fan pages will be debuting their shiny new Timelines. We originally blogged about the big switch back in October, but now it’s finally time to make the transition if you haven’t already done so.

It may be easy to think, “Wait, Facebook is forcing me to switch to Facebook Timeline?” Rather than being a Negative Nancy, use this as an opportunity to find new, exciting ways to reach out to your followers. Start by reading several good resources to get started.

Still lost? Here are a few tips:

Make a good first impression - Upload a cover photo

Uploading your first cover photo is a good starting point. This image needs to be 850x315 (I’m sure you’ve seen a variety of dimensions on the web, but this one worked for us).  Since this is the first thing visitors will see, take an advantage of this prime space by using creative imagery to depict your brand’s story, share current promotions and more. However, you cannot not use any call to actions (i.e. Like this page!)

Have a story to tell? Add a few milestones

Facebook Timeline allows you to mark important moments in your brand’s development and growth. I like to think of this as putting together a scrapbook. Include important details, photos and videos about significant events. If you don’t know the exact date, you can include just the month or year. 

Highlighting (Starring) versus Pinning posts

Facebook Timeline gives you two opportunities to put your posts in the spotlight.

Highlight/Starring- If there’s an important post you want your followers to see as important forever, highlight it by selecting the star. This will stretch your post across both columns.

Pinning- If you’re running a promotion, giveaway or just want your followers to see an important post, pin it. This will keep the post at the top of your Timeline for 7 days. 

Proceed with some caution

To avoid any potential social media disasters, take a good look at your page before clicking publish. Seriously. Since you’re already in the process of adding milestones and highlighting posts, take this as a moment to do some quick spring-cleaning. Go through your tagged posts and photos to make sure there’s nothing scandalous. 

Alright, maybe a lot has changed, but several features have stayed the same. While your feeds will look different, the stories and content you’ve posted won’t change.  Fan Pages  will still have an About Section, but now you’ll have an area under your cover photo to give a quick snapshot about your brand. For the most part, switching over to Facebook Timeline requires a one-time set up. As soon as you get the basics, you can make additions and changes as you go.

January 19th, 2012
michchandler

Tips for dating a PR Pro

So, you have your sights set on a lovely PR professional. Maybe you’ve been dating for a while or you’ve just met.  You’ve probably noticed their confidence, impeccable organizational skills or knowledge of the latest trends. Most of us are social butterflies who love caffeine and are addicted to checking our email. Some of us even like to sleep next to our smartphones for quick access to our inboxes. Well, now what? How can you keep up?

PR Daily had some interesting tips on understanding what it means to date a PR professional, and I’d say it was pretty spot on. PR pros are good at fostering relationships, problem solving, and balancing a full schedule. These are all important aspects of managing personal relationships, too.  

My initial thought while putting together a quick list of tips was to ask my significant other for his advice. His response, “nod your head a lot,” didn’t exactly win over any points. So, for the lucky people who have won over a PR pro’s attention or are trying to seek it, here’s a couple do’s and don’ts from the team and me.

Don’t:

  • Be a reporter- This could be a sticky situation. While this may make you a strong team, it’s difficult to manage that relationship especially if the reporter covers your clients.  It can put you in a tough position.  
  • Try to win the fact war - We’ve already done our research. 
  • Assume all we do is write press releases all day - It might be a good idea to a basic understanding of what the job entails.
  • Be late - Several of our day-to-day tasks require meeting strict deadlines, so we’re very conscious of how we spend our time. If we’re supposed to meet somewhere at a certain time, be there. Seriously. 

Do:

  • Value open communication- As previously mentioned, we like to solve problems and talk things out.
  • Follow up- Did we discuss something that we said needed to be re-visited? I’d take that as an opportunity to check up on it sooner rather than later. 
  • Be respectful of our fluctuating schedule - You may think the job ends at 5 p.m. but sometimes it doesn’t. If an urgent, late- night pitching opportunity arises, we need to take care of it. That doesn’t mean we’re neglecting you, we just have a job to do.
  • Be honest and trustworthy - This doesn’t require much elaboration, does it? 

This list could go on and on, as there are tons of common traits amongst PR professionals. If you’re not a strong writer, detail-oriented person or someone who loves to multitask, don’t fret. For us, dating could be related to finding a good client—we just have to make sure it’s a good fit.

December 21st, 2011
michchandler

Stop the digital presses - Should press releases be shared on social media?

We’ve all wondered if the press release is really dead. Now comes the next topic for debate – is social media an appropriate outlet for press releases? Does posting a press release on a social media outlet take away from its formality?  Will the media notice or will I lose followers or likes? How do I go about choosing the correct outlet?  

In a recent Forbes blog post, Robert Wynne asks a variety of people ranging from social media managers to online marketers what their take was on the topic.

My take -You should, but you also shouldn’t. It really is a case-by-case basis. I agree with Robert’s choice of social media outlets. I wouldn’t post a press release on Facebook unless the news is epic and I don’t think LinkedIn is an appropriate outlet. 

Blogs, on the other hand, are a great outlet for press releases. Your blog receives very qualified traffic. Other than the search engine optimization benefits, someone who is already subscribed to the RSS feed who may not look out for a press release on your news page will be able to get a glimpse of the latest announcements. Instead of re-posting the press release, make the news more personable with a quick update on company news. 

But wait a second- does that mean you’ll be tweeting a link to the blog post or press release? Should you use condense your press release into 140 characters and take an advantage of your Twitter audience? 

I have mixed feelings about that one. Consider the topic of the press release before posting a link on Twitter. Should you tweet a press release about a new hire? Probably not. If you just released a groundbreaking product or will be exhibiting at a trade show, should you? Yes. In fact, this might catch a journalist’s eye as they’re browsing their feed (it used to catch mine). Like your other tweets, include the appropriate hashtags, be creative and keep it simple.

As always, think before you post. Keep in mind that each social media outlet may have a different type of audience. What is going to resonate with them? If a quick blurb about a press release would be of interest to them (be honest with yourself when you make that assumption), then go for it and choose the appropriate outlet. If not, keep it traditional. 

October 26th, 2011
michchandler

Survival Tips for PR Newcomers

It’s not always easy being a young PR pro in the making. Initially, I chose to switch to PR because I felt it would be a great way to transition my current skill set to a career with more opportunities for growth.  Through journalism, I have developed a strong background as a researcher and writer on strict deadlines. 

Not surprisingly, learning how to apply my current skill set in the PR world has become much more of a challenge than I had anticipated. A recent PR Daily article suggested a few words of advice to PR newbies including ask as many questions as possible, be proactive and useful, have faith and stay passionate about your work.

Now that I’ve gotten my feet wet, I have a few tips of my own:

Subscribe to publications on your media lists and read as much as possible

I’ll have to give the team props for this first tip. Whether you’re feeling slammed by the amount of tasks on your plate or you’re having a slow week, take time out of your day, even if it’s only 15 minutes, to learn more about the industries your clientele are involved in. Building a basic knowledge base will make it easier to complete assignments and will be applicable towards new clients in the future.

Motivate yourself to learn the latest tools and tricks

When you’re new to PR, there’s more to consider than the traditional techniques. Take the time to learn the latest social media analytic tools and platforms. 

Become as involved as possible

Don’t be scared to get your hands on everything whether it’s putting together lists of editorial calendars or learning how to pitch media. If you know there’s something you’re really great at, such as social media outreach, share your knowledge.

Listen and acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses

Remember some things are going to come easier than others, which could lead to some sad pouty faces at your desk.  Be willing to acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses, we all have them. Ask more questions and listen to your co-workers when you’re struggling with your tasks. Chances are they’ve been in your shoes before and have great advice for moving forward. When you do something well, give yourself a nice little pat on the back. 

Never forget the importance of teamwork

Last, but certainly not least, I’ve learned it is to remember how to work within a team. One of the most rewarding opportunities I’ve been given by joining Crossroads PR is to work with a group of seasoned professionals. As a PR newcomer, you should not only lean on your team to guide you through assignments when you’re confused, but be ready to support them when necessary. Communicate and be open minded to different working styles. More importantly, be mindful you’re contributing towards a bigger cause—creating a stronger PR agency.

Despite the challenges along the way, I am still enthusiastic and excited to grow as a PR professional. Of course, I’ll have to be sure I practice what I preach. 

The good news is, three months after swapping media for PR, I can verify with confidence the dark side has more cookies.

October 13th, 2011
michchandler

Should we worry about social media security and privacy?

As the growth of social media usage continues, you may a moment where you have to step back and think “are we sharing too much private or false information?” or “should we be worried about how secure these sites are?”  According to Social Ware, 13% of US companies investigated the exposure of confidential, sensitive or private information via an SMS text or micro-blogging service (Twitter). 

There’s no doubt users have to think about privacy. With the upcoming introduction to the Facebook timeline, users are able to reminisce and see reminders of their past (I haven’t decided yet if I’m ready to remind myself about the questionable fashion choices, hair colors and piercings I had when I was a freshman in college). There’s a good chance you forgot what you posted a few years ago and might not want others to get a glimpse of your past. The bigger question—should I be worried Facebook has all of this information stored? 

Other concerns may be about social media security. People (i.e. celebrities and political news sites) have had their Twitter profiles hacked into. And, there was that time a few weeks ago The Onion thought it would be funny to post about a fake report about Capitol gunfire, making users aware of the fact inaccurate information may be posted on social media sites. 

While it may be easy to get caught up in some of the fears these people are having, you can’t forget the intended purpose of social media. Social media networking keeps everyone connected, whether it’s to get the latest scoop, whether it’s watching a play-by-play of a football game on Twitter because you couldn’t be there in person, or looking at YouTube video of a cat chasing it’s tail that was posted on someone’s wall.

I personally wouldn’t want to ignore using social media because of the potential risks, but it doesn’t hurt to get to know social media policies(example: Facebook policies on privacy) and be weary of your privacy settings. 

If you’re worried about your account getting hacked, create a strong password and don’t share it. Also, remember it’s your choice to determine what goes on your social media profiles. I would advise against putting anything on your social media profiles that may raise eyebrows. Think twice about the content you place, and if someone posts something you don’t want on the web, let him or her know. Be realistic and make smart choices about your social media use so you won’t have anything to worry about.  

August 29th, 2011
michchandler

Journalism flashback: What I didn’t like about media pitching

It wasn’t too long ago I had a high volume of media pitches each day and felt consistently overwhelmed by voicemails, emails and requests. I really didn’t understand why certain unmentionable PR firms/account assistants were so pushy. Now that I’ve had some time to be on the other side, I get it. It’s the account executive’s job to get the word out their about their client by developing editorial coverage. However, there is always an appropriate way to handle things. 

With my experience as a journalist, I know exactly what not to do in the future for my clients. Here’s what I didn’t like about media pitches while working in the media.

1. You’re not the only one. Seriously. 

Although the article you’re trying to publish may seem like a top priority for you, think about how the journalist feels. They have several articles on their plate, especially if they work for a smaller publication or have staff limitations. Try to keep that in mind when you’re following up. 

2. Are you really unique?

If you’re presenting a new product or solution to a journalist, be sure to note the key features that make your client’s offering different( i.e. it wouldn’t hurt to do some competitive research.) More often than not, something you think is a unique solution really isn’t and has probably already been passed over the news desk several times. If you send a media pitch and call your client’s product “the fastest” or “the best” you’ll have to give a better explanation.  

3. Instructions were created to be followed

If you are given instructions on how to submit an article follow them to the best of your ability. Steering a byline off track is frustrating for both parties. When it comes to content guidelines, pay attention to the style of the publication or expect a lot of changes to your client’s byline. 

4. Have some patience

Journalists remember who was helpful or who they didn’t enjoy working with. It’s ok to follow up and make sure the journalist you’re working with has adequate resources or see if they know when they’ll be able to get back to you with a draft. What isn’t acceptable is calling multiple times a day or sending emails every morning asking about the status if you haven’t heard back yet. Time is necessary to create editorial masterpieces, right? Let the journalist breathe a little and get the job done without annoying them too much. Honestly, the pestering used to encourage me to delay the process out of spite. 

5. Know your niche

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve deleted emails or ignored voicemails because they were completely irrelevant to the audience I was serving. When you’re working on your media list, take a look at the publication’s media kit to learn more about who their readers are. 

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@crossroadspr

When given the opportunity to switch over to the dark side, this former print and online media pro took up public relations without any hesitation. Using an eye for emerging technologies and strong drive to learn and grow as a PR professional, Michele made her way over to the Crossroads Public Relations team.

With a diverse background in digital media technologies, multimedia development and journalism, from blogging to writing press releases, she supports her clients by identifying opportunities and providing social media strategy and media relations expertise.

As a social media aficionado, Michele strives to learn more about the latest in social media trends and analytical tools. She has used her skills to research, develop and manage blog content, LinkedIn groups, Twitter accounts, YouTube pages and more.

Prior to joining Crossroads Public Relations, Michele worked at Althos, a technical publishing company, where she focused on publications and magazines as the associate editor of IPTV Magazine and Mobile Video Magazine. When she wasn’t creating content, Michele gained Internet marketing experience by developing email marketing and online advertising campaigns and organized media agreements with leading industry trade shows.

Michele was a co-author of How to Set Up and Run Internet TV Systems and also has experience in collegiate journalism and broadcasting. She has a Bachelors of Arts in Communication-Communication Media with a minor in Journalism from North Carolina State University.

A proud northerner at heart, indie music enthusiast and cat owner, Michele resides in Raleigh and can be found catching up on the New York Times and Vogue in her favorite coffee shop or shopping for eclectic jewelry. She loves to whip up pastries, travel and discover opportunities for art projects.