PR Niblets

Monday, September 24, 2018

PR Worldwide: Employee Advocacy as a Strong Link in Your PR strategy

Anyone who wants to implement a PR campaign internationally is faced with various challenges. The language and cultural barriers and other working methods do not often simplify things. Yet as a company you want to have one voice to be heard and achieve the best results in every country with a universal strategy. How can you handle this?

With this question in mind, the PR World Alliance (PRWA) – Feintuch Communications is a founding member – recently visited the Netherlands at the invitation of Marcommit, our local market partner. Ten offices from different countries came together in Amsterdam to discuss international PR issues. Fake news and employee advocacy popped up as the two main themes.

In this first part of this two-part blog series we will dive deeper into employee advocacy and the role that PR can have in this. What do our eastern neighbors say about the use of social media among employees? How do French organizations successfully attract candidates and what core values ​​are relevant in American labor market communications? You read it in la première partie of this international series!

A stage for your own employees
The Netherlands is currently dealing with an employee shortage. This means that employee advocacy is in vogue. We can see the examples all around us. For example, think about police vlogger Jan-Willem and the Dutch online police series RobuustBlauw. Both vlogs attract many youngsters (and therefore potential employees) and give them a glimpse behind the scenes of the Dutch police world. It is not surprising that more and more companies are committed to the ambassadorship of their employees. For example, research from LinkedIn shows that companies with involved employees have a 58-percent greater chance to attract top talent.

Eline Visser is managing director at Marcommit and observes that an increasing number of companies are using creative ways to reach out to potential employees.

"By activating employees to share relevant content in which the organizational culture emerges, an effective form of word-of-mouth advertising is deployed. After all, it is much stronger and much more credible to let your own employees tell others that you are a good employer, than that you do that as a company. This makes employee advocacy a truly strategic marketing tool: it can achieve a high organic reach and appeal to a wider audience. However, it is important that you start from the right objective and adjust your approach accordingly. Do you want more reactions to vacancies? Or strengthen your employer brand? Do not forget the objectives for participating employees. What can they get out of their ambassadorship? Think, for example, of strengthening their authority position. Only in this way do you encourage employees to voluntarily share content. You do not want to oblige them."

Define the DNA of your organization
Companies that want to do labor market communications in the United States, need a strong emphasis on communicating their core values. Peter Stanton of Stanton Communications in the United States recognizes four core values ​​that are frequently present at the moment: respect, freedom, opportunities and transparency. These values ​​are characterized by offering flexible working hours, having a good work-life balance and realizing career growth. Stanton explains: "Especially in the context of #metoo, respect is a very important core value. All employees must be treated equally. In this sense, the core value of freedom is the opportunity to give your opinion as an employee and to be able to express yourself without any negative consequences. By contributing these four core values ​​internally and externally, employees can transfer a good image of the organization to their own network. It is their challenge to give it their own twist!"

Authenticity as a guideline

After all, individuality is vitally important for the success of employee advocacy. You want to stand out, not using empty phrases and boring generalities. Meike Grisson from the German Panama PR talks about how they are tackling this: "Certainly in Germany it is noticeable that employees are eager to work on their thought leadership position. When they do not have a clear idea of ​​content that is worth sharing, you can help employees and provide them with authentic content. There is already a lot of handy technology for this, such as LinkedIn Elevate, Bambu or DrumUp. Make sure that it is not pre-fabricated news. "

Grisson also explains that in Germany, they pay a lot of attention to best practices, such as the story of a new employee who enthusiastically discusses his training and how he already uses the learnings of this in his daily work. By choosing someone to which new candidates can mirror themselves, you show that you recognize the wishes of job-seekers and actually acknowledge them.

Show your workplace

In addition to the company's own channels and employees, external channels can maximize results. For example, in France external online platforms are often used, says Catherine Kablé of Kablé Communication: "In France, a lot of use is made of the job board Welcome to the Jungle. Here employers can be put in the spotlight through attractive content. Photos of the office, videos with the daily activities, what the male – female ratio is: you can find all sorts of information. This content brings the organizational culture to life, shows the core values ​​and is therefore very effective for attracting new talent. Employees can also add content to the company profile themselves. In addition, links can be placed to the social channels of the organization."

And the viewpoint from Feintuch Communications? 

"In the U.S., where thousands of PR firms of all sizes compete – and new physical and virtual organizations join the competition each month – it’s critical to communicate who and what your organization stands for on an ongoing basis. It’s also about listening and understanding the wants and needs of the talent pool," states Henry Feintuch, president, Feintuch Communications.

"Today’s millennials, for example, want far more than just a steady job; they want to learn, be able to experiment (and fail) and be given responsibility. Salary, benefits and job title alone will not attract and retain these professionals. It’s about job satisfaction and work/life balance. With the competition for talent so keen, employers must communicate their respect for employees, the opportunities for growth and ability to enjoy their work."
Eline Visser has another tip for extra involvement: "In order to motivate your employees, it is effective to show them their contribution. How much coverage did his or her blog, vlog or article get and how much engagement has been achieved? If you really want to bring it, you can set up an internal competition across the entire width of the organization, which will keep track of which employee generates the most interaction with his or her messages. That way you make it fun and make your results visible to everyone. Your ambassadors program will spread quickly!"

Real and sincere
Whether you want to deploy employee advocacy in Europe or in the United States, one thing is obvious. Organizations need to show their personality more than ever through their employees. What is stronger than having your own employees talk about what your company really stands for and what it is all about? For example, content distributed by employees on social channels reaches no less than 561 percent more persons than messages distributed through their own company channels[1]. By drawing up core values ​​and communicating them clearly to your employees, they can identify themselves better with the organization and communicate these values ​​externally. Then you can look at a good advocacy strategy that brings your company to the attention of new talents. The right strategy not only helps your employees to acquire a stronger thought leadership position, but at the same time it is also cheaper than purchasing social media ads. By offering authentic content and giving employees insight into the results they achieve, they remain motivated to share their expertise with their network. New employees, come on in!

In part two of this series we will discuss fake news. What does this mean for the PR world and how do international PR agencies deal with this? Should they take more responsibility, or leave this up to journalists? Stay tuned.

[1]  According to PostBeyond, 2018

Monday, August 20, 2018

What are the Similarities Between Journalism and PR?

Last July, after being a television news producer for over three years, I left the journalism industry to pursue a new career path in public relations.  Many former journalists (including our very own Henry Feintuch) have successfully made the switch to the new, yet related field of public relations.  I knew that I would face some challenges in the transition, but I also knew that there was a strong relationship between both professions and I was excited to translate the skills I’d developed as a producer to my new career as a PR professional.

There are probably more similarities than there are differences between journalism and public relations but here are, in my humble opinion, the top five similarities:

1.       No two days are the same
Much like in a newsroom, where your work is determined by the news of the day, no two days are alike as a PR professional.  What I find exciting about PR is the variety of work from day to day.  We represent many different clients, with many different needs and objectives that require different approaches and strategies.  Whether you’re a journalist or a PR professional, your days are busy and full and there’s always something new to tackle each day.
2.       Clear and concise writing reigns supreme
In both professions, efficient and timely communication is the key to success. Journalists and PR professionals keep their intended audience in mind when writing and try to relay information that’s both engaging and easy to understand.  Whether it’s writing a press release or a feature story, to grab the audience’s attention and keep them engaged, the writing and the message must be clear and concise.
3.       It’s all about the story
Both journalists and PR professionals are in constant communication with the public.  Yes, there is more strategy involved on the PR side of things, but ultimately, it’s all about telling your clients’ story.  I’ve had to put on my “journalist thinking cap” to interview some of our own clients to gain a new perspective or a new angle that could then be turned into a pitch, by-lined article or press release.  Journalists know there’s always a story waiting to come out if you’re willing to look for it.
4.       Trust and credibility are imperative
To be successful in both journalism and PR, it’s crucial to develop credible and meaningful relationships.  PR professionals need to build relationships with reporters in order to get coverage for their client and reporters must have credibility with the public in order for their story to gain an audience.  Both journalists and PR professionals build these relationships through relaying honest and credible information.
5.       Using your “news sense”
Journalists are constantly asking themselves, “will people care about my story and if not, how do I shape it so that they do?”  PR professionals, on the other hand, are asking themselves a very similar question when shaping press releases: “will a journalist buy this and if not, how do I make them interested?” At the end of the day, the goal is to use your “news sense” to determine how to best shape a story for your intended audience.

I’ve been an account executive for nine months now and I still learn something new every day.  When I look back on my short tenure in public relations, I’m thankful for my time as a news producer and the invaluable perspective it’s given me as I continue to grow and learn as a PR professional.  In my next post, I’ll cover the major differences between journalism and public relations.  Until then, thank you for reading and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Small Talk is Big for PR Pros

I remember how my professors at Syracuse University would bristle when they heard a student say the reason they selected PR for a career was because “I like people.” They were offended at the implication that PR is merely about shaking hands, smiling, slapping backs, etc., rather than a serious practice within the communications field.
That said, liking and taking interest in people is not a bad thing for the PR professional. After all, the cornerstone of what we do revolves around creating and maintaining relationships. While these are mostly professional interactions, the personal side of the equation should not be overlooked.
We’re all aware that just about any meeting we participate in will start or end with small talk. It could be a discussion of the weather, weekend plans or a shared interest. This banter is a natural warm up and cool down to the business at hand and makes the work day a little more pleasant. However, it can represent more—an opportunity to learn more about your clients and co-workers. Do they have kids or play a musical instrument? Are they health nuts, foodies or travelers? These casual chats can forge important connections that will likely serve you well over the course of your career.
For example, I have a colleague that is a hardcore biker. We worked with a client that was also a biking fanatic, and the two of them would have intense exchanges that would cover all manner of bike equipment and the ungodly numbers of miles they each biked the previous weekend and for the year-to-date. While I never felt as out of shape in my life as when I listened to these discussions, I could appreciate the friendly connection between the two of them. This client has moved on, but they remain friendly and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were to find occasion to work together again.
Personally, I look forward to being one of the first on the line for the conference call to chat up the client before we all roll up our sleeves to pay the bills. However, small talk comes more naturally to some than others. Case in point: I have a friend in the business who used to drive to client meetings with his boss. On the way, he’d be asked about his family – where did he grow up, where did he live now, did he have any brothers or sisters, etc. This is nice, right? The problem was that over the course of 10 to 12 of these trips – he’d be asked THE SAME QUESTIONS EVERY TIME! It was clear his boss was going through the motions and didn’t really care to know anything about him. Not a great way to forge a connection. (While this disingenuousness would seem an unfavorable trait for a PR professional, it occurs to me that this person is one of the most successful PR people I know of. So what the hell do I know?)
Regardless, I’m going to stick with my premise that PR is a “people” business and that it is worthwhile to make the effort to get to know those with whom you associate. More often than not, you’ll find it will add enjoyment to the job and may even lead to your professional enrichment and advancement.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Public Relations: The Next 50 Years

Recently, the editorial team at O'Dwyer's approached a group of PR industry veterans and asked them to contribute articles, tributes and comments regarding the approaching 50th anniversary of the PR industry publication family.

Though the years are ticking by, I surely didn't have first-hand insight into the O'Dwyer Newsletter's
first decades. But I have been in the journalism industry (briefly) and PR for nearly 35 years. That's long enough to have watched the profession -- and the O'Dwyer editorial franchise -- change and expand.

In my guest article, featured in the O'Dwyer's July 2018 50th Anniversary Magazine,  I wrote about my personal interactions with publisher and editor Jack O'Dwyer. The article went on to look at changes over the past 50 years in public relations, and then, through the thoughts of some industry experts and friends, it took a look at what the next 50 years might bring.

The Feintuch team welcomes your reaction to those forecasts and opens the pages of our blog to your own thoughts and forecasts -- script a paragraph or a column and send it over.

Let's all meet up in another 50 years and see how we did!