The Need for Special Events

By: Abby Miller, @abbby_e

02.07.09 MPI at Aquarium

When people think of public relations, the usual skill and strategies like social media management and crisis management come to mind. One aspect of public relations that can be of key importance, however, is special event planning. Special event planning is when a company puts on a wide variety of events that promote their business. A special event could be anything from a grand opening, to an anniversary celebration, to a community fair. Hosting a successful event can do wonders for your brand’s image, and hopefully position that brand in your consumers’ minds. For just this reason, event planning is an important skill for every aspiring PR professional to have in their arsenal.

  • What can special events do for your brand?

Hosting a number of special events can help to strengthen your relationship with your customers and/or community, by providing them the opportunity to see who your company is. This in turn builds awareness of your brand, encourage brand loyalty and support, and draws attention to all of the cool new actions that you’re company is taking!

  • What to avoid?

One of the main pitfalls of special event planning is hosting an event for no reason. Make sure there is a legitimate reason to be putting on an event. Special events are best done with a specific purpose in mind, whether it’s to promote a new product, celebrate a company accomplishment, or strengthen community relationships. Regardless of the reason, its important to always have a message and clear target audience to deliver your message to.

Another major pitfall of special event planning is lack of planning. Producing a successful event takes time and dedication, and an event won’t live up to its full potential without it. Nothing is worse than inviting a group you want to impress to an event that falls short of their expectations.

Special event planning is a large aspect of public relations, and making sure these events are done appropriately will ensure that they are also effective for your company.

Finding the perfect pitch: social media lessons from an a Capella perspective

By: Catrina Lang @trinalang13

Becoming a member of The Tempo Tantrums, an all female a Capella group here on campus has been one of the best and most unique experiences I’ve had in college so far. Making pop music come to life with nothing but our voices is a challenging but rewarding task. Throughout my first two years with the group, I’ve learned a lot about different musical elements such as tone, pitch and harmony. What I’ve come to realize is that many of the same tools that we use to create beautiful music can also be applied to craft and implement successful social media strategies.

TT1

  1. Tone. In music, a tone can be described as a “steady, periodic sound”. Before creating a successful social media strategy, you must first figure out your brand’s tone on social media. This tone should be steady and consistent so as not to confuse the audience or potential customer. The tone should be a positive representation of your brand. Brands can consistently choose to adopt a humorous, professional, fun, educational, or various other types tone throughout all of their social media outlets. The key is keeping it consistent.
  1. Harmony. Constructing harmonies is one of the most important things to focus on when singing a Capella music. Each voice part is singing different notes, but they all come together to form chords that sound like a cohesive whole. This is important to keep in mind when using multiple different social media platforms as well. Even though each platform presents unique opportunities (such as tweets versus Instagram photos), it’s important to keep in mind the consistency of the brand that you are trying to portray. As long as you keep in mind the goal of the brand when utilizing different platforms, you can successfully use each different platform to get across the same brand message for your client.

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  1. Audience. One of the most important elements of performing is keeping in mind your audience, and how to best connect with them in different situations. When my group is presented with a potential gig, we have to decide which songs to sing, what to wear, etc. to best relate with the client, while still keeping our own personal brand in mind. For example, we will choose different songs, attire, and introductions for a gig at a nursing home than we would for a gig at a coffee shop. Keeping in mind your target audience when you launch a new social media outlet or campaign will help you connect with your audience on a deeper level overall. Some questions to ask yourself could include:
    1. What kind of perceptions does my audience already have of the brand?
    2. What are some aspects of the brand that would best appeal to a particular audience?
    3. How does the targeted audience currently use social media?

Gathering the data and information to answer these questions will help you create the best social media strategy that keeps both your targeted audience and your own personal brand in mind.

When creating a social media strategy, keep in mind the tone, audience and harmony of your social media outlets – in the end it will greatly increase the impact of your brand. I have learned by performing with The Tempo Tantrums that giving your audience what they want while maintaining your personal image and brand with help you hit all of the right notes.

 

Summer Reflection Series: Laine Carey

What I Learned From My Experiential Marketing Internship

By: Laine Carey @snakesona_laine

I’ve been asked a lot recently, “What did you do this summer?” I say, “Well, I was a giant cookie.” Ummm it’s hard to explain. Just look:

Smiley, Eat N'Park's Mascot
Smiley, Eat’n Park’s Mascot

But honestly, I did a lot more than just prance around in a cookie suit. I drove the Cookie Cruiser, too!

cookie2

Needless to say, my internship was incredibly fun. But in all seriousness, I learned so much. Along with 4 other girls, I travelled all over Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio on behalf of Eat’n Park Hospitality Group. We were Eat’n Park Team Smiley, and we worked as travelling brand ambassadors. We went to places like parish festivals, baseball games, zoos, various benefit walks, etc. so Smiley could make an appearance – and so we could hand out free Eat’n Park Smiley Cookies!

Without getting too in-detail about the specific company, here’s what I learned about PR and marketing in general:

  • Know the brand like the back of your hand. (Hey, that rhymed!) I’ve worked for Eat’n Park since I was 16. When it came time to travel to Ohio and West Virginia (where there’s significantly less brand familiarity than in PA) clear, concise explanations of Eat’n Park’s brand were a necessity. Knowing everything about the company you’re working for makes a world of difference.
  • Never underestimate good old face-to-face interaction. Granted, we ran the Team Smiley Twitter and Instagram Accounts as well as the blog, which were important too. However, we also encouraged dialogue at our events – we talked to people about Eat’n Park, directed them to our website, promoted our Instagram contest, verbally promoted summer specials, etc. We also gained a lot of valuable feedback about Eat’n Park restaurants just from attending community events and being our regular, fun selves.
  • Have fun. Sorry this one’s so cheesey. I absolutely loved my job this summer, so this was easy. We were the face of the brand, out there interacting with the community. The second we arrived at the event and stepped out of the Cookie Cruiser, we had to be walking, talking, crazy balls of joy and fun – because that’s what Eat’n Park is all about. People, especially kids, are smart and perceptive. They would’ve known if we had been faking it. So, it’s a good thing I loved the heck out of my internship!

Is Pinterest Effective for Your Brand?

By: Annie Beard @annie_beard

Social media has become one of the most important strategies that a brand can adopt in order to engage with their consumers. Along with Twitter and Facebook, many brands have turned to Pinterest. Some are successful, while others struggle to find any relevance.  It is important to know whether or not Pinterest is effective for your brand, and there are a few ways to tell.

Before you can gauge your brand’s relevance on Pinterest, you have to know and understand the demographics that Pinterest reaches. The following info graphic illustrates some “Pinteresting” findings.

pinteresty

Key takeaways:

  • 68.2 percent of users are women. While men do have a small representation, women basically run Pinterest, so it is important that your brand can appeal to women on some level.
  • The largest age demographic represented on Pinterest is 25-34 year olds with 27.4 percent of users.
  • The average annual household income of Pinterest users is $100,000+. This is one of the highest household incomes on any form of social media.

Now that you have an understanding of Pinterest’s audience, you must determine if your brand’s audience fits with it.  Is your brand attractive and marketable to these demographics? You also must decide if your audience would be interested in engaging and communicating through visual posts, like photos and videos. Are there compelling images that are associated with your brand? Great images are what will get your post pinned and shared.

One example of a brand that has found success on Pinterest is Whole Foods Market. They post recipes, health tips, as well as seasonal food and meal ideas. With images of food and drinks, their posts are compelling and attract a lot of consumers to engage with their brand.

Another successful brand on Pinterest is Target. They have such a wide variety of products, which makes them relevant to many users. Target pins home decor, fashion tips, quotes, and they even have a board that includes how Target is getting involved in the community.  These boards are appealing to their consumers and allow them to converse successfully.

Now that you have an understanding of Pinterest’s demographics, you have to decide if your consumers would fit into them. From there, think about the images that they would be interested in sharing. Could your consumers learn something from or be entertained by your pins? If so, then Pinterest could be perfect for your brand. So, do your research, and happy pinning!

A Lesson from Warby Parker: How to Use Instagram Effectively

Warby Parker is an amazing eye-glass company that sells unique and stylish frames for $95 (yes that also includes the lens)! In addition to the amazing price point for every pair that is sold, a pair is given to someone in need. Aside to being known for its trendy glasses, outstanding customer service and exceptional prices, Warby Parker is also known for its social media – namely its Instagram account.

Warby Parker has mastered the use of Instagram and is a perfect example of a company who uses the platform effectively.

Culture

Looking at Warby Parker’s Instagram account gives a customer not only a look at their product, but an insight into what the company and its employees are like. It showcases their interests in books, favorite places to dine and amazing scenery from the company travels.

Instagram provides an all-access pass into WP’s company headquarters by documenting days at the office. Snapshots focus on behind the scenes work at photo shoots, company uniforms for WP’s “Spirit Day” and office pot lucks!

Promoting Events

Any event that WP is attending or hosting is usually featured on Instagram, accompanied with an awesome photo and unique hashtag.  There have been many events, such as The Warby Parker Class Trip (#wpclasstrip). Employees were sent on a road trip across the country in a renovated school bus to bring WP glasses to areas where there aren’t any showroom locations. Photos of their road trip were featured on Instagram – allowing users to follow along with them as they made their journey across the U.S.A. Other events and promotions have included #whereswarby and #warbyegg.

Earlier this year, WP celebrated another milestone: its 4th birthday. To commemorate the company’s birthday, its Instagram was filled with pictures capturing employees and the four founders when they were 4 years-old.

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2Promoting the Product

The ultimate goal of brands being active on social media platforms is to push their products. WP is no exception. However, its advertising is not as obvious or in-your-face as most brands. Photos of the glasses often appear on its Instagram surrounded by numerous other items such a books, newspapers, food, candles, coffee, etc. For these Instagram photo shoots, WP tries placing the glasses in an environment that they would typically appear in if a consumer had them.

People may feel uneasy about buying glasses online and that is why WP lets you pick out 5 pairs of frames, ships them to you for free and gives you five days to try them on and decide which frame you like best. This can be a tough decision! WP uses social media as a way to connect with its consumers who are struggling to select a trendy frame. Customers can upload pictures of themselves in the different frames, and by using the hashtag #pickapair, WP specialists will step into help! WP also features employees who are stuck deciding between frames and allows the customers to give their input.

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WP has even been praised by Business Insider and IMPACT Inbound Marketing Agency for its content on Instagram and other social media platforms like YouTube and Facebook. The company has set the standards for brands on social media, and given them a model to aspire toward.

Follow WP on Instagram: @warbyparker 

Kathleen Marincic is a junior studying Strategic Communications. You can follow her on Twitter at @KathMarincic.

Five steps to the perfect pitch

pitchWhether it is an internal request or cold calling, pitching can be a nerve-wracking and difficult task. Basically, you have to convince someone to add something to their to-do list, or take out his or her wallets and donate to a cause. However, it has been done, and done successfully. Here are five steps to nail the perfect pitch:

Do your research. Find ways to integrate your pitch into the person or company’s culture or lifestyle. Bringing up past connections is always helpful, along with a positive reminder of that experience. The ties that bring them closer to your pitch will help you get a meeting with them or get them initially interested.

Be friendly. Once you get a chance to talk or meet, be sure you have a friendly and positive attitude about the interaction. When asking someone to take time out of his or her day for you, it is polite and makes the conversation enjoyable and easygoing.

Prepare. Anticipating possible questions, having details ready to go and knowing your pitch inside and out can make the meeting successful and smooth. Think of yourself as an ambassador for your company or organization, in that you need to know important details and how to answer questions. If you are leaving your meeting with a bunch of unanswered questions or unclear details, your contact will be unsatisfied and probably not follow through.

Be clear. Have your key message points ready to go. Tell the person why this is important, the relevance to them and their company, the benefits it can provide and how they can participate. These are all points your contact will want to know, and will make them feel secure with the partnership. Leave something tangible behind so the contact can look over your materials, and think about your pitch thoroughly.

Follow-up. No matter the outcome of the pitch meeting, be sure to follow-up with your contact. A thank you if they accepted, along with an inquiry insuring success. A follow-up is obviously required if your contact is still pondering the decision to offer any more insight or answer any questions. If the contact rejects the pitch right away, follow-up to keep the conversation going in order to help with future pitches.

Though no pitch can be completely predicted or broken down to an exact science, the research, personality, planning, clarity and follow-up can make all the difference when making your perfect pitch.

Allison Evans is a junior studying Strategic Communications. You can follow her on Twitter @Allison_Evans.

Twitter Lessons from the A-List

As technology is evolving, so are the ethics of journalism. Part of the changing technology is the emerging presence and influence of social media. In 140 characters you can enhance or inhibit your professional career – so no pressure.

By having a presence on Twitter you are not only conveying your thoughts, ideas and work, but you’re building a brand that may be an employer’s first impression of you. And what better way to learn what to do, and not do, on Twitter than look at the people who arguably have the most influence on the Twitter community?

Here’s some lessons to take away from some of our favorite A-list celebrities.

Do show your personality. Oftentimes I will like, or dislike, a celebrity based on how funny and relatable I find their tweets. And yes, I do realize this may not be the best course of action.

Take Anna Kendrick for example. I saw her in Twilight and loved her in Pitch Perfect, but I never really thought twice about her until I found her Twitter, after which she instantly became one of my favorite celebrities.

Anna

Do promote your work. Promoting your work is important and now with the influence of the Internet, we have more power than ever before to set ourselves apart and promote our work.

Mindy

Do connect with others. By reaching out to a firm or company before meeting with them, you have a great opportunity to set an amazing first impression. By connecting with others you can also promote collaborations. Jimmy Fallon does this before his show each night.

Jimmy

Don’t get into Twitter feuds. This one’s for you Kanye. Getting into a fight with Jimmy Kimmel on Twitter…probably not the smartest idea. So if you’re having an issue with a friend, colleague or stranger, it might be best to not display your emotions on the Internet for everyone to see. A simple phone call or text message might suffice in this situation.

Kimmel

Don’t drunk tweet. We get it, you partied, maybe drank a little too much. That doesn’t mean you have to turn to Twitter every time you have a crazy night. There are some things that are better left off the Internet, and drunken tweets are one of them.

LIamDon’t tweet only promotional things. When people only tweet promotional things to advance their careers, I get bored. It’s always more fun to follow people who spice up their promotions with some personality or fun anecdote.

-Carolyn Nachman is a junior studying strategic communication. Follow her at @CarolynNachman.