It’s high time Austin had its own crowdsourced map of its diverse startup ecosystem. That’s why we are launching Startup over Coffee today.

Why now? Over the past decade it’s hard to argue that any other metro area in the country has risen in the ranks of most every startup statistic as much as Austin has. We came in at #1 in the CNBC Metro 20: America’s Best Places to Start a Business in August. We cracked the top 10 on the 2016 Kauffman Index, which measures the entrepreneurial vitality of the 40 largest metro areas on the country. Austin also hit #1 on the Forbes list of The Cities Creating the Most Technology Jobs 2015.  

One of the keys to the success of Austin’s startup scene? A well-established startup ecosystem made up of all kinds of businesses, organizations and media!

Claim your spot on the Startup over Coffee map!

This map is intended to be crowdsourced and maintained by those who make up the Austin startup scene. From coffee shops to co-working spots and startup accelerators to media outlets, we want to democratize the map’s content in order to make it as relevant and up-to-date as possible.

For any organizations who want to claim their pin, it’s easy to do. Just follow these steps:

  1. Click your organization’s pin (you must represent the organization to be approved)
  2. Click ‘More Info’
  3. Click ‘Claim Place’
  4. Sign-in (you will need to create a MapMe account)

Any organizations that support the Austin startup scene not already on the map can easily add a pin by following the instructions found here.

But don’t just take it from us!

Our friend and local startup expert Paul O’Brien had this to say about the Austin startup scene:

Driving Austin’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is the incredible diversity of creativity. Where places like Silicon Valley thrive as a result of their innovative technology entrepreneurs, Austin thrives because it’s the convergence of technology with design, art, music, architecture, gaming, and the experiences that we love. Finding success in Austin is a matter of finding your node; balancing your own resources and needs and finding the community ideal to what you’re doing.  Austin lives to work and our entrepreneurs are in coworking spaces, office parks, working from home, and in coffee shops throughout the city; connecting opportunities with talent, resources, and ideas.

Can you help?

Startup over Coffee is an attempt to capture the richness of that startup ecosystem and share it for anybody who is looking for a way to plug-in, network and contribute to the Austin startup scene. That’s why we need your help!

We hope you will join us in supporting Austin’s startup scene. Those of us who have been involved in it for the past decade know we would not be where we are today without a strong sense of camaraderie and selfless support from thousands of like-minded entrepreneurs, influencers and volunteers.

 

Businesswoman pressing unlocking on virtual screens, technology for cyber attack, computer crime, information security and data encryption.

It is a decision that needs to be made up front in every B2B content marketing strategy: which content assets will be completely free for all (ungated) and which ones will require a contact form to be filled out prior to making the content available (gated).

This blog post you are reading is ungated. Anybody can read it, with nothing asked in return. On the Manzer Communications site you will also find a series of white papers covering topics as diverse as crisis communications, trade shows and social media campaigns. We love to make this content available, but in return we ask for just a little bit of information.

No sales without leads…

So what is the logic behind choosing whether content needs to be ungated or gated? Do companies randomly decide to make some content freely available and others not? The answer of course is: no. The ‘gates’ in the form of the sign-up webforms are meant to collect information on the person (and company) who wanted to access a certain kind of content.

In content marketing speak, gated content is meant to identify the person who shows an interest in a particular marketing piece and ultimately understand to which buyer persona he or she belongs, what is motivating the search and where in the sales funnel to place the lead.

… but no leads without awareness

A general rule of content marketing is that the more perceived value a piece of content has, the more a prospect will be willing to share about himself or herself in return for the content. A 200 page booklet can be made available at a higher ‘price’ than a 10 page white paper.

The 2015 Form Conversion Report by Formstack showed that there are on average 11 fields on a lead form and that the average conversion rate of the form amounts to 17%. By most lead gen standards, 11 fields is a very high number, if not completely unrealistic at a 17% conversion rate. Perhaps there is even a disconnect with the study or a research bias but what is not disputable is that lead conversion rates are impacted by the number of required fields. In our experience, it’s better to keep the number of required fields below five unless you have a content piece that is based on intensive industry research.

So while gating content is important for lead generation, it does not mean that you can and should pass on ungated content. Websites generally contain more ungated than gated content for a reason. Search engines cannot index content that you put behind a gate. That means gated content won’t contribute in any significant way to your site SEO strategy, unless you provide a summary page as part of your landing page.

Gated content cannot be shared with a single click so with that easy social sharing is out the door. You need the ungated content to create broader awareness and encourage more social shares among your prospects.
The advantage of ungated content is that it fills the ‘top’ of your funnel and thereby increases the number of prospects who will be tempted to consult your gated content, thus becoming leads. Ungated content can be ideated from the start as ungated content, but it can also take the form of a repurposing of gated content. An example of the latter is when you make a chapter of an ebook freely available on your blog or through LinkedIn Pulse.

Two illustrations: a gated webinar of Salesforce and a collection of ungated manuals of Harte Hanks. The Salesforce form asks for among others the job title and the size (as measured by number of employees) of the company.

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And the winner is…

There is a time and place for both gated and ungated content. For many B2B marketers, the right balance may vary greatly based on the perceived value of leads versus raw website traffic. What is indisputable is that ungated content will pull in more website traffic while gated content will assist in lead capture and converting leads into new customers over time.

 

 

 

CES 2016 ExhibitOne thing B2B brands can agree on is that trade shows still are a very valuable investment. So valuable, in fact, that the average B2B brand invests nearly 40% of its total marketing spend on them.

With so much money spent annually on a single marketing initiative, it makes sense to ensure your marketing investment is capable of delivering the expected ROI.

In our white paper, “Your Roadmap to B2B Trade Show Success,” we provide a foolproof method for planning and executing your next trade show marketing initiative.

To give you a flavor of the white paper, we have included a brief list of some of the topics addressed:

Picking the right trade show

Do you go all in and set up a booth at the biggest — and most expensive — trade show for your industry or try one that has less attendance but will involve less financial risk? Deciding which trade show is right for your budget and growth ambitions will go a long way toward ensuring you get the healthy return on investment you seek.

Budget

You should always set up a budget for your trade show initiative lest you find yourself constantly sinking money into an ever-growing cost center. The budget should be realistic, based either on your company’s past experiences at trade shows or research you do on other companies in the same or similar industries. Build in a reasonable financial margin for error, of course, since you never know how much variability there will be in pricing of key inputs like booth design and materials, shipping, travel and lodging, etc.

Project Manager

Perhaps the single most important decision you make is who to assign as project manager. A good PM will steer the trade show marketing initiative with confidence, and be able to marshal the resources from all over your company to ensure everybody is on the same strategy page.

Staffing

Seems like a no-brainer but staffing your trade show booth with the wrong employees could spell disaster. Better to go with employees who truly thrive on customer service and can operate on little sleep and in chaotic environments because trade shows often involve after-hour schmoozing with clients, prospects and influencers. They should also be very fluent with your product and service offerings and have a professional demeanor for discussion with all kinds of individuals.

Marketing

Be sure to plan your trade show marketing collateral well in advance. Any new product launch should include foolproof demos and accompanying product data sheets. You may need to have a product specialist on the team to ensure the demos go well on the trade show floor. Also, be sure your marketing is consistent with your company’s brand guidelines in terms of colors, logos, fonts, etc. The last thing you want is to sow confusion among customers and prospects with respect to company brand and messaging.

Social Media vs Media Outreach

Both are important. Social media is a great way to communicate with customers and prospects before, during and after the trade show. The key is to plan well in advance by beginning to follow and share posts of professionals you are targeting. Be liberal with shares and general information posts about your prospects as opposed to direct sales pitches; nothing turns off a prospect faster than a direct overture without having worked to develop a meaningful connection first.

Media outreach is still very relevant as it is one of the best ways to establish your brand’s credibility and reach a much wider audience. To ensure you get a shot at media coverage during the trade show make sure you reach out in advance to key journalists who are planning to attend the event in order to set up face-to-face meetings at your booth. If you are launching a new product, it will be easier to set appointments with media; but if you don’t have a news trigger like that then try to grab coffee or a happy hour drink with a couple of key journalists and bloggers to begin developing a relationship that will lead to future news coverage.

Follow-up

This is a key item that companies have to get right or they risk missing out on the primary reason they attend a trade show — new leads! Some companies employ card scanning technology but many simply pocket the cards for entry into a CRM system after the show. Whatever your approach is, be sure that every lead entered into CRM is properly identified in accordance with your lead rating system. Well-qualified leads should be assigned to sales for immediate follow-up while leads higher in the sales funnel can be added to your drip marketing campaign.

Ready to download now!

Your Roadmap to B2B Trade Show Successtrade-show-white-paper” is now available to download! If you have any questions about our white paper or need tips for strategizing an upcoming trade show, feel free to share your information with us and we’ll schedule a brief call.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Manzer Communications has teamed up with seven other communications agencies to found the Global Fintech PR Network, the world’s first network of agencies serving the specialized needs of the financial technology – or fintech – industry.

Based in five continents, Global Fintech PR Network is designed to help clients gain a global perspective and reach in the highly competitive, transformational fintech industry. The idea for the network originated in Copenhagen earlier this year with the partners behind Norfico – the first dedicated fintech advisory and PR agency in the Nordics.

The founding members include:

The new global network of fintech PR agencies will be able provide truly global service across multiple continents, cultures and languages to allow fintech clients a seamless engagement experience staffed by some of the world’s leading experts in fintech communications.

For more information about how to design a global fintech engagement, please call one of the Manzer Communications offices in Austin, Denver or Houston or fill out our contact form and we will reach out to you.

 

We are proud to announce that our agency was selected by the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to provide media relations services for the upcoming Belgian Economic Mission to the State of Texas. The economic mission will take place December 3-11 and will be led by HRH Princess Astrid, Representative of His Majesty the King.

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“We are truly honored to be the agency selected to manage the media relations for the Belgian Economic Mission. We were picked mainly because of our strong European focus and past experience assisting European technology companies like 3D printing software developer Materialise seeking to expand brand awareness in the U.S.,” said Dave Manzer, founder and president of Manzer Communications.

The trip will involve over 100 Belgian professionals from companies, trade organizations and the Belgian government. Manzer Communications will be responsible for the media relations during the mission’s visits to Texas including Austin, Houston, San Antonio and College Station. More details on the scope of the mission, the event schedule and Texas participants will be shared with the press in November.

 

 

trade show marketing tips

Regardless of business sector, there is bound to be a trade show that brings together the leaders and great minds of the industry that your business inhabits. Exhibiting at a trade show can provide countless benefits for the growth of your business. From reconnecting with existing customers and meeting new ones to scoping out the competition, the list goes on. Trade shows are also an ultra competitive battle ground, with competitors from the same sector, lined up in rows one after another, fighting for the finite amount of time that each customer has.

Here are a few general categories to keep in mind as you make your decision about whether a trade show is worth the investment.

Picking the best venue

With a myriad of trade shows available, you will have no shortage of options to choose from. To make the most of a trade show and avoid unnecessary costs, however, it is important that you choose to exhibit only at trade shows that are best aligned with your business.

Deciding between attending consistently successful industry trade shows or less established ones can be tricky. If you are going for the less tried and tested route, then it will be useful to check on past event media coverage, the presence of big name guest speakers, social media activity and the expected attendance for the event.

Plan to succeed

Every successful trade show depends upon a tremendous number of activities coming  together seamlessly over several days in a location often far away from the corporate office. The process of preparing for the trade show must therefore begin months in advance and involve multiple departments within a company including product marketing, sales operations and corporate communications.

Bring your ideas into focus: If you want to stand out from your competitors and generate more traffic to your booth and media buzz about your products, then you better spend some quality time on the planning phase. Showing up to a trade show just won’t cut it. Nor will the “If you build it they will come” mentality. You are facing off against the competition so be prepared to come out with a compelling strategic vision to guide your trade show investment decisions.

Spying on the ‘enemy’: Okay, nobody is suggesting you hack the competition to find out if they are going with a red plush carpet or video booth at this year’s trade show but at the very least you would be wise to learn how they presented at past trade shows. While copying the competition won’t get you far, emulating their strategy or booth creatives can give you some fresh ideas on how to build out your trade show presence.

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Create a budget:  Before you start spending, be sure to create a budget for the trade show initiative, which will include brand assets, product prototypes, media outreach and booth staffing. Start thinking about whether you want to spend more to create a show-stopping booth, with complex marketing material and a big booth space, or if you want to go for a more utilitarian route – keeping it simple, yet getting your message across.

Find a creative partner: You may be better served by bringing experts on the team to help you with the trade show strategy planning and execution. While hiring somebody outright may not always be an option, retaining the services of 3rd party experts often is. Some of the main areas you may want to outsource include booth design, collateral messaging and design, booth staffing and media outreach. The good news is that with a well-established 3rd party provider you will get professionals with many years of experience helping companies like yours get desired results at trade shows. You can also hire an agency to work on-demand or possibly consider a monthly retainer in the case of a content marketing & PR agency.


Get the word out

Contrary to popular belief, the bulk of the work for trade shows actually happens before the event itself! Ideally, you should give yourself about 90 – 120 days of lead time to make the necessary arrangements – or in other words, the sooner you start, the better.

Get your signage ready: Instead of cutting on costs, try spending a little more and creating signage that your patrons would enjoy taking pictures of. In the competitive world of trade shows, cheap signage rarely translates into better foot traffic. In fact, if you view your trade show signage as an investment and a chance to make a bold brand statement, you can keep it and reuse it for subsequent events.  

Promote on social media: Assign one employee to take charge of your company’s social media pages for the duration of the event, to ensure ease and consistency in communication. Make full use of the event hashtag when promoting your own marketing material to get the information to event attendees who might not be following your social media accounts. Also, don’t forget to keep your existing followers updated with constant tweets and posts.

While you’re at it, synchronize announcements: The point of going to a trade show is not just to press the flesh of customers and prospects but also to show off your newest innovations and draw a sharp contrast with competitors. To maximize the impact of your product and/or service announcements you should create an announcement strategy that maps out the timing of announcements across all communications platforms. For instance, an Internet of Things (IoT) supplier to the solar industry announcing a breakthrough product/software solution would likely issue a press release to the industry trade press, while also posting about it on the company blog, launching a product landing page and saturating social media channels with a mix of organic and paid posts. The goal of this well calibrated cascade of information is to reach your customers, prospects, influencers and media on the channels where they are present and turning prospects into leads wherever you can.

Speaking of media initiatives…: If you are looking to make an important announcement at the trade show, get a hold of the media list from the trade show organizer and send out a release announcing your attendance, where you can be found on the trade show floor and that you plan on revealing a major product breakthrough. As part of the outreach, try to secure one-on-one meetings with your spokesperson(s) to obtain as much media coverage as possible. Developing a media interview schedule based on the availability of your spokesperson will avoid the potential embarrassment of having a journalist show up with the spokesperson on a lunch break.

Spokesperson training: An often overlooked part of preparations is ensuring your primary spokesperson is fully fluent in the product and company pitch and can maximize the impact of an interview. The last thing you want is for a spokesperson to get a key detail wrong and have a journalist turn around and communicate that to the world.

 

Be Outstanding

With the crush of competitors at trade shows, you have to make sure that you are thinking out of the box and doing something to stand out so that people remember you.

Set yourself apart: According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), the average time that each visitor spends at each booth is about 5-15 minutes. Thus, to keep them interested and to get them to stay longer, consider setting up video displays, interactive screens, iPad kiosks or raffles draws! Don’t throw things together haphazardly however. Your booth needs an overarching narrative, a dominant theme in which everything needs to fit. 

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Staff Selection: Make sure your staff is well versed on product features and benefits. This will greatly affect the quality of engagement with prospects and customers. Your most productive staff in the office are not necessarily the best people for the job. Pick employees who are outgoing and capable of exuding your positive organization culture to leave a positive impression of your business in the minds of visitors to the booth.

Less is more: A trade show is not meant to be a historical display for all of your products and offerings. Instead, highlight 1-3 products/services that you want all of your booth visitors to remember. If you feel the need to talk about more than just 1-3 products/services, perhaps set up a digital display where booth visitors can find out more.  

Don’t hide in your booth: Networking is the game you have to play at industry events. Consider making it a competition among your sales reps to talk to as many people as possible and even award prizes on a daily basis. You can even keep track of level of engagement by tallying points for things such as business cards collected, leads generated and LinkedIn connections obtained.

Post constant updates on social media sites: Physical trade shows and a virtual presence don’t have to be mutually exclusive. By posting constant updates on Twitter, photos on Instagram, and perhaps a mix of both on Facebook, you keep both event goers, and non event goers updated throughout the show. And of course one or more dedicated landing pages will contribute greatly to your lead generation.

Owned event: Make use of the opportunities offered by the venue to own your own events. These run the gamut from a press conference to a happy hour or even a panel discussion with industry experts moderated by your CEO. 

 

Keep it going

Follow up: Adding a personal touch after the show might just seal the deal. Send the people you met an email or a follow-up note on LinkedIn to let them know that you want to keep in touch. Ask them if it is ok if you put them on your mailing list. Even consider asking for their feedback about the trade show booth to get the customer perspective and discover ways to up your game next time around.

Share media coverage: It’s okay to be proud of your accomplishments and to boast about them on your various platforms. Track all media placements and then share the media coverage on your company website, tweet about it, add pins on pinterest, or make an instagram post out of it (but just make sure you don’t break any copyrights)!

With the multitude of content covering social media campaigns from almost every aspect imaginable, it can certainly be a tedious exercise putting it all together for a “big picture” view. That’s why we saved you the trouble and did it for you!

Our white paper, “How to run a successful social media campaign,” is a comprehensive guide for planning and running an effective social media campaign, complete with specific examples and relevant statistics that outline every step of the campaign process.

Here is a brief overview of what you will see in our white paper:

Know your goals!

In order to save time and resources, planning every detail of your campaign ahead of time is absolutely essential. Each goal and objective should be outlined, from what results you’re looking for to which platforms you want to use. For example, if your campaign’s goal is to spark more engagement on Facebook among a specific demographic, then be prepared to decide what actually constitutes engagement for your brand — comments, shares, conversions, etc. — and how it will be measured when the campaign is completed.

Stay consistent

After determining which social media platforms will receive the most engagement from your target audience, synchronize and execute the campaign across all of them. While each platform works in a unique way and may target a slightly different audience, your brand messaging must remain consistent across each of them. If you’re planning to use Facebook and Instagram as your primary platforms, you may want to use an ad on Facebook and a visual post on Instagram. Broadcasting your content in both organic and paid posts across platforms is an opportunity for crossover promotion that is a must in today’s pay-to-grow reality. Strive for consistency by using the same hashtag for each post.

Measure results accurately

Measurable results are the main objective when launching a social media campaign, otherwise how else will you know if your campaign achieved its strategic objectives? To best measure your campaign’s results you will need the right tools to determine your campaign’s effectiveness and, ultimately, its ROI. Most social media platforms provide ways to measure engagement and reach, but it’s advisable to use your own social analytics tool– there are plenty of them on the market today– in order to measure and report on the campaign in one convenient place. 

Ready to download now!

How to run a successful social media campaign” is now available to download! screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-11-04-33-amThe white paper will take you step-by-step through the intricacies of developing a social media campaign capable of delivering results across multiple social networks and even competing technologies like digital billboards. Our section on budgeting gives practical guidance on the need to create realistic budgets and even build in a little padding for the inevitable cost overruns that are part of running live campaigns using multiple teams, tools and timelines.

If you have any questions about our white paper or need advice on creating highly integrated digital marketing and social media campaigns for your growing business, feel free to share your information with us and we will schedule a brief call.

In the meantime, we wish you happy social media prospecting!

 

 

 

 

With the upcoming release of the Deepwater Horizon movie we are reminded of these dramatic events of 2010. In this post we look back on the many crisis communications mistakes, and some good moves, that BP made as it tried to manage the optics of the disaster.

It has been six and a half years since the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, sank and started to spill oil uncontrollably in the Gulf of Mexico. It took no less than 87 days for the sea-floor oil gusher to be capped. Eleven people died because of the accident. At an estimated 210 million gallons of oil discharged, it was the largest marine oil spill ever.

BP saw a lot of credit it had gained in the preceding decade evaporate almost overnight. The company had worked hard to position itself in the years leading up to the disaster as a leader in corporate social responsibility and even made it to the ‘most sustainable company’ rankings. It had spent a small fortune on marketing to bolster its image as a ‘green’ company, and even changed its logo green to reflect its commitment to environmental responsibility. Within weeks of the Deepwater Horizon accident, however, that carefully maintained image of BP went up in flames literally and figuratively in what eventually became the worst man-made environmental disaster to hit the Gulf Coast.

 

Check out our free white paper “Writing the crisis communications manual” 

 

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was also a public relations disaster in the way the company handled the media and responded to public outcry for information on the spill and ongoing plans to cap the well. Media coverage showed the oil rig on fire, underwater shots of oil spewing into the Gulf and heartbreaking scenes of oil washing up on the Gulf coast and oil-soaked coastal birds fighting for survival.

These scenes ensured BP would be judged poorly in the court of public perception. What sealed the company’s verdict was the inept way it communicated about the catastrophic event. Making matters far worse, the company’s lead spokesperson, CEO Tony Hayward, seemed oddly cavalier and disconnected from the gravity of the event.

BP continues to struggle with that legacy till today. As recently as in 2015, BP’s senior vice president of U.S. communications and external affairs tried to ‘correct’ media perceptions of the damage done by BP to the Gulf. His tone deaf Politico op-ed, which was defensively entitled No, BP did not ruin the Gulf’, backfired (as could have been expected). Isn’t the role of PR, after all, to anticipate the mood of the media and public at large and then weave a narrative that does the most good for a company’s brand reputation?

Initial failure to take responsibility

BP was quick to point fingers at Transocean, the company that owned and operated the Deepwater Horizon. Although it might well have been the case that the company was wholly (or partially, as it turned out) responsible for the incident, being so quick to shift blame to another party was not the right call to make in the face of a crisis. External stakeholders perceived the move as an evasion of responsibility by a company that already had a history of industrial accidents, including a 2005 fire in Texas City that killed 15. Instead of scapegoating Transocean, BP would have been far better served if it has risen to the occasion by promising to do everything it possibly could to figure out what went wrong and fix the problem. It certainly seemed to many outside observers that BP let its legal team establish the message strategy. In fact, it became a recurring theme in how the company managed the crisis: Minimize ownership of the accident, blame others, downplay BP’s liability.

Lack of empathy

Who can forget the infamous words of then BP CEO Tony Hayward (yes, ‘then’, because the crisis cost him his job) when he said on camera that he simply wanted his life back. The optics could not have been worse for such a verbal gaffe. The last thing BP should have done was had a highly paid CEO of a global oil giant lamenting about his loss of quality of life with the backdrop of the worst man-made environmental disaster to hit the Gulf in memory and one that cost 11 lives. Fittingly, Hayward’s comment expressed an element of selfishness and lack of empathy that was emblematic of BP’s handling of the crisis it helped cause.

If Hayward appeared cavalier in his approach to the media it was because he either failed to properly seek the counsel of his internal PR team or felt confident he could ad-lib his way through live press conferences. It was discovered, much later, that a corporate cost restructuring at BP resulted in the elimination of senior corporate communications staff, a critical managerial lapse that cost both him and the company dearly.

BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg added insult to injury by making a statement in which he said that BP cared about the ‘small people’ who were impacted on the Gulf Coast. Not surprisingly, Svanberg failed to consult senior communications staff prior to the press conference given the aforementioned corporate changes. The ‘small people’ reference contributed to the larger narrative of a “foreign” company with a history of industrial accidents essentially trashing the Gulf Coast while only showing concern about the event’s impact to itself and not caring about the loss of 11 lives and widespread damage to the Gulf Coast ecosystem.

Lack of truthfulness

The company was less than truthful in the way it reported on the size of the spill. Whether it engaged in purposeful deceit we may never know. What’s clear is that in denying media access to the cleanup site the company gave additional ammunition the belief that it was trying to cover up the true scope of the crisis. Moreover, continuously over-promising on when the leak would be fixed and failing to deliver left the public frustrated and further damaged the credibility of the company. While it is true that a company in crisis needs to project as much situational ‘control’ as it does empathy it does not entail making empty promises to get the media off its back. Control should have meant BP sticking to the message that everything was being done to cap the leak as soon as possible and doing everything possible to minimize the damage to the Gulf Coast ecosystem.

Did BP do anything right?

BP may have gotten a lot of things wrong with its crisis communications strategy, but it is generally regarded as having done a good job of employing social media — Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube — to keep the public up to date on efforts to cap the spill, clean-up the Gulf and pay reimbursements. Social media also allowed BP to respond quickly to any rumors or errors in media coverage to set the record straight. Social media became a way for BP to gain direct access to the public without the media filter, and it became highly skilled in its use.

BP also created an entire section on its website devoted to the spill. Visitors could find pictures, video and maps that tracked the spill clean-up. The section was kept active for several years given the long-term nature of the spill clean up and slow-pace of the legal fall-out and eventual financial payouts the company owed. It was also a way for BP to argue its case on its ‘home turf’ without the need to rely upon 3rd party media outlets.

Conclusion

Much like the Wells Fargo crisis discussed in our last post, the Deepwater Horizon incident is yet another example of how a reputational crisis, if mismanaged by not having senior crisis communications professionals in the trenches with senior management, can easily become an existential threat to a company.

BP did a lot of things wrong, but it did some right. A look at the Deepwater Horizon nearly six years later illustrates the need for a strong crisis communications plan and well-trained team because the demands are extremely challenging during a crisis. Companies also need senior communications staff on board who can counsel the leadership on HOW to communicate, a mistake that led to many embarrassing moments for BP. Most importantly, company leadership must take crisis communications seriously and be willing to heed the advice of skilled communicators.

FreeCrisis Communications Plan Crisis Communications Manual ready to use!

Manzer Communications has made it easy for your company to begin preparing for a future unknown crisis. Our free whitepaper “Writing the crisis communications manual” is available for download and use by your communications team to customize for its own unique needs. The manual lays out step-by-step how to build out your crisis communications plan. It gives you examples of training scenarios to use in workshops, drills and simulations. It even provides you a sample table of contents to help you build out your comprehensive manual. 

Crisis Communications services available!

Do you need help writing the manual or training your staff for a crisis? If so, Manzer Communications can help. Our experts provide comprehensive crisis communications services from preparation of manuals and spokesperson training to on-site crisis communication training and live crisis communication consulting.

If you are worried about what a potential crisis can do to damage your brand and the reputation you worked so hard to build, then let’s talk!

 

A photo by Jay Wennington. unsplash.com/photos/i8CYGnoerR0

Within the past year, the most massive shift in social media has been in live video streaming. From Facebook Live to YouTube Live, the largest social networks are committed to bringing live video to the forefront and surfacing live content higher than pre-recorded video, or static images.

Business owners who jump into live video as soon as possible are going to benefit from being among the early adopters. Let’s take a look at how you can plan your videos and “go live” easily.

Choosing a Live Streaming Platform

With this new explosion in live video, there is a growing list of options for where you can stream. Some of these are standalone mobile apps, while others are features within existing social networks.

The easiest place to get started is on Facebook or YouTube since you likely already use them for your social media content. You can extend your reach significantly on those networks by adding in live video content. If you are active on both Facebook and YouTube, select the one that has the most engagement from your existing audience.

Planning Your Videos

It can be intimidating to start live streaming if you don’t treat it like the content you are already creating for your business. With social media content, planning out a publishing calendar can help you have a bird’s eye view of the upcoming month and quarter. Do you have an upcoming campaign or announcement? Plan to add in live video so that your audience has a rich variety of ways to interact with your company.

Another way to prepare for your stream is to outline talking points for your broadcast. You can get ideas for topics by looking at your existing or upcoming blog posts or images and creating live content around it. No need to reinvent the wheel! Think of video streaming as a way to extend your social media and blog content.

Broadcasting From Your Desktop (or Mobile)

You can broadcast using live video on your desktop or mobile, but there are pros and cons to each. When you are getting started in live video, keeping it simple and using your phone is best. On Facebook on your phone, this is as easy as clicking the “Live” button from the area where you normally publish on your Facebook page. This is the simplest setup possible, but it doesn’t allow you to add any overlays or multiple cameras.

On YouTube (or to use your desktop computer camera for Facebook), you need to use software. For a full production studio with the ability to add image overlays, pre-recorded video and other features, Wirecast has become the go-to software. It takes a bit of a learning curve, but it is a great tool when you are ready to take your broadcasts to the next level.

Don’t Wait, Get Started Now

Live video is not a trend that will be gone tomorrow. Over the past year it has grown to have massive reach. With the commitment of social media juggernauts like Facebook and YouTube to give live video premium placement on their networks, now is the best time for you to add in live streaming as a strategy for your business.

PS: To help plan your first live video topics, download the Live Video Quickstart Workbook.

About Alessandra Colaci: Alessandra is a live video and social media strategist, and the founder of Influence Buzz and The Empire Planner. Influence Buzz works with businesses to help them increase their reach and develop unique content for live video.

Alessandra is recognized as an innovator, thought leader, and national speaker on topics such as mobile, social media, startups, and technology. Past clients include national brands and Fortune 500 companies such as: Coca-Cola, Warner Brothers, Seventeen Magazine, Sirius XM, Marshalls, T.J. Maxx, E! News, and MTV.

Responsive web design on mobile devices phone, laptop and tablet pc

When it comes to generating leads for your business, a landing page has become an indispensable tool in the marketer’s toolkit. Because of that, many SaaS (software as a service) landing page platforms have launched to make creating landing pages easier, faster and more affordable for the average company.

For those not already in the know, landing pages are a single page of content dedicated to a call-to-action that results in the acquisition of a prospect’s contact information. Landing pages are often used in concert with a paid or non-paid form of advertising, the most common of these being PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns employing Google AdWords and/or social media advertising.

One of the more common call-to-actions is for a free white paper or eBook providing a target audience with valuable insight into a specific topic of interest. For example, we routinely offer white papers on various marketing and PR topics. One that did surprisingly well was our crisis communications plan white paper, which enjoyed a conversion rate of 30%, well over the 8 – 14% standard conversion rates for B2B industry vertical white papers.

One of the keys to our success was a landing page we created using Unbounce, which is a subscription landing page service that allows you to quickly set-up and manage landing pages for a variety of campaigns.

Below we give you some of the pros and cons of using landing page services, of which there are several including Unbounce, Instapage and Lander. Wix is even getting into the game.

Pro: ease of use

Unlike default web page layouts that come with a WordPress site, you can easily set up a landing page in minutes, or a couple of hours at most. Landing page services do this by providing you with multiple templates from which to choose and adapt to your needs. In the case of Unbounce, there are easy ways to turn on or disable graphics and text boxes and add clickable buttons with embedded URLs to drive traffic to a website. This ease of use was definitely one of the most important reasons why we have opted to use a dedicated landing page service.

Con: limited creative freedom

You don’t have unlimited creative freedom when using many of the landing page services. Some may provide you access to the HTML code, but why would you pay for the service when you could just as easily code inside your own website? The limited creative freedom is a expected price to pay for the convenience of use.

Pro: A/B testing

One of the most overlooked strategies in landing page design is A/B testing your designs and call-to-actions. Landing page services make it easy to turn off a click-through button, add an extra field in a contact form, or change the color of a graphic. Believe it or not, even the most subtle changes like the color of a button can have a measurable impact on the effectiveness of a landing page. Once you have two versions of a landing page set-up, you can then tell the landing page service to divide inbound traffic at just about any percentage between the two: 50/50, 60/40, 20/75, etc. With any luck it won’t take longer than 2-4 weeks to see which version is more effective at driving leads. At that point you can change the under-performing version appropriately and repeat the experiment with other subtle variations. Rinse, repeat.

Con: lower website traffic

While a landing page makes creating, managing and updating a breeze, it does not necessarily result in greater website traffic. This happens because your landing page, instead of being hosted by your own domain, is actually hosted on the landing page platform’s servers.

Pro: great reporting

One nice aspect of using a landing page service is that it provides plenty of reporting on the page you create. True, you can always use Google Analytics to derive similar reporting for a landing page you create on your own website, but external landing page services make analysis of your most important metrics — total visitors, unique visitors and downloads — a snap to review!

Con: brand compliance

When you have strict guidelines for your brand, using a landing page service is not always the best way to stay in compliance. While you can easily upload graphics to a landing page service, getting the exact standards for look-and-feel can be a challenge. For some large enterprises, this can be a deal killer.

Pro: lead tracking & logistics

One of the really wonderful aspects of a landing page service is its ability to capture, log and track raw & qualified leads. 3rd party app integrations with Hubspot, Salesforce and Marketo means that you can directly feed any new prospects into a CRM to enable analysis of the prospect’s potential and determine how to allocate them inside the enterprise: marketing for ongoing nurturing or sales for immediate follow-up.

Con: fewer website clicks and engagement

One school of thought is that landing pages should be laser focused on acquiring the contact information of visitors by keeping them free of other distractions (e.g., drop-down menus on your website), which a landing page page platform will allow. The flip side is that by not hosting a landing page on your website you forfeit the opportunity to have prospects already on your site and in a position to discover more information about what you offer, your team, the blog, etc.

Do you have any opinions about landing pages? Are you a fan or a hater? Let us know with a comment below or hit us up on Twitter or Facebook!