We’re excited to announce that we have acquired Masi PR, a similarly focused boutique PR firm based in Denver.

With this acquisition we have added Peter Masi, principal of the firm he founded in 1995, as VP and Partner of Manzer Communications. He joins Founder & President Dave Manzer and Partner & Vice President Jo Detavernier as the agency’s senior leaders.

Peter Masi joins Manzer Communications

Peter Masi

Masi will focus on supporting client engagements as well as assisting new-client acquisition, especially in markets like Colorado Springs, Albuquerque, Salt Lake City, Portland, and Las Vegas. He will also direct the agency’s content marketing and demand generation services for clients.

“The acquisition of Masi PR brings substantial capability in terms of media relations, content marketing and demand generation expertise to our agency,” Manzer said. “With more than 20 years of experience serving B2B technology companies, primarily in the software and healthcare sectors, Pete understands that our business has evolved and is now much more metrics-driven than ever before.”

“I’m thrilled to partner with them to help make Manzer Communications the agency-of-choice for tech companies that are serious about lead generation and revenue growth,” Masi said. “Dave and Jo are communications leaders who understand the business of marketing & PR. I look forward to helping our agency grow in our key practice areas such as technology, healthcare and professionals services.”

Manzer has opened up an office in Denver for its growing team at 50 S. Steele Street, Suite 250, Denver, CO 80209. The local phone number for our new office is 720-808-5193.

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!

 

Wells Fargo Scandal - Crisis Communications

We have been witness to two major corporate crises in the last weeks. The first, Samsung, became infamous when the battery of its Galaxy S7 Note mobile phone started exploding into flames– just prior to its nemesis’ launch of the iPhone 7 no less. The second, Wells Fargo, resulted from a long-running scheme by some 5,300 employees to meet aggressive sales goals by opening millions of bogus accounts in the name of existing customers. [The CEO of Wells Fargo, John Stumpf, is getting grilled on live TV news by angry members of Congress even as we publish this post.]

Despite both companies being leaders in very different markets and their respective crises differing significantly in nature, they nevertheless share an important common theme: their crisis communications teams were put under incredible pressure to adequately stem the damage caused to their reputation, revenue and market valuation. Clearly some their efforts came up short as Samsung saw over $25 billion drained from its market capitalization in just under two weeks while a 7% drop in shares toppled Wells Fargo from its position as America’s most valuable bank in only 10 days.

Below we look at the four primary demands a crisis communications plan should be able to address if designed and implemented properly, and we give a short verdict on the state of each company’s crisis comms strategy.

You need to act fast

Is the need for rapid communications in a crisis a common place if it does not involve the loss of life and/or property? It depends. Having the communication protocols ready for fast communication takes a team of well trained and equipped communication professionals who know exactly what their respective roles are when time is short and the pressure for accurate information is greatest. Gone are the days of the ‘golden hour’ that would in theory allow you to prepare for the first inbound media questions. By the time your crisis communications staff is aware of the event the first tweets are being published and the Internet is primed for a viral reaction.

You need to talk with one voice

One of the greatest challenges facing crisis communications professionals is how to explain the crisis to your stakeholders. Each company spokesperson must have answers to questions about the crisis using the same playbook. The last thing you want is for one spokesperson to say one thing only to be contradicted by another later the same day. Not speaking with one unified voice erodes the credibility your stakeholders have in how you are managing the company and could also exacerbate the damage to the company’s reputation and ability to quickly bounce back.

 

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

 

Talking with one voice also means projecting empathy toward the stakeholders lest you give the impression your company does not value them. Consistency across communication functions is also critical as you manage stakeholder expectations. For instance, how you talk to the investor community is different than your workforce, yet they both must reflect the same core facts and message. Consistency in messaging requires razor-sharp discipline supported by cross-functional collaboration and real-time information, which are hallmarks of a well-designed and practiced crisis communications plan.

You need to listen

The act of listening during a crisis is your secret weapon. Sadly, it’s something that many companies forget to do. To be completely prepared to meet the challenges of a crisis you also need the resources in place to listen, including the staff ready to process information and adapt a communication strategy to a dynamic situation.

For instance, how are your stakeholders responding to your messages? Do you need to adjust your message or take executive action to counter a surge in negative investor or consumer sentiment? Intensive media monitoring will enable you to track responses in near-real time and give your communications team the feedback it needs to quickly react to fault-lines in the crisis communications strategy. And don’t forget that monitoring traditional media is no longer sufficient. You have to account for reactions in social media on the part of a wide range of stakeholders: tweets from activists, Facebook Live video reports from ‘accidental journalists’, Reddit posts about first-hand reports or just good-old fashioned brand bashing.

The trick is figuring how to to weave a narrative using a vast network of communication threads. This is not something you can expect to figure out on the fly without a plan and plenty of practice.

You need to communicate through all channels

The number of touchpoints for a company has ballooned in recent years. No longer can we assume that a dedicated crisis phone line and email will suffice. Layers of communications will need to be disseminated across an ever expanding list of communication platforms. Did anybody think Snapchat would be a viable communication channel three years ago?

Moreover, those who are responsible for each platform must be kept in the loop as information comes to light and needs to be shared with one consistent message across all channels. If a key piece of information comes to light or a decision is made by executives (when, for example, Wells Fargo decided to fire 5,300 employees involved in its bogus account scandal), don’t you want that information to come out not only through traditional media outlets but also through your company blog, social media accounts and customer service team as well?

The Verdict?

We’re happy to report that both Samsung and Wells Fargo rose to the occasion with their crisis communications efforts, ticking most of the boxes mentioned above. Not all has been perfect or gone “according to plan,” however. Nor is that even possible given the real world is vastly different from what can be planned in advance. Samsung, for instance, could have been clearer in how it communicated the recall of the Galaxy S7 Note in some of its markets. And then you have Wells Fargo’s bungled strategic messaging, which laid the blame squarely on the 5,300 employees it fired; a New York Times article quickly shot down that narrative with quotes from ex-employees saying the problem was systemic and a decade in the making.

Nevertheless, those lapses should not divert attention from their overall professional crisis communications performance. Both companies have (so far!) handled their respective crises in commendable fashion. Not that exploding batteries and bilking customers out of millions is commendable; clearly they are not and hence the crises. But the work they have done up to now is a result of having a comprehensive crisis communications manual. A good communications manual will address some (but not all) of the following:

  • Roles for each key player (from the CEO down to junior communications professionals);
  • Crisis resources: dedicated crisis command center, phone lines and other technology resources, food and sleeping arrangements, etc.
  • Spokesperson selection, training & briefings
  • Press conference mechanics

If this sounds like a heavy lift for any companies not in the illustrious Fortune 500 category, then you are right. But the good news is that you don’t have to have the resources of a Fortune 500 company to create a solid crisis communications manual. Nor do you need a huge team of communications, social media and customer service professionals to manage a crisis. A few well-trained professionals can do wonders for most small and mid-sized companies. Companies approaching a billion dollars in annual sales with operations either across the U.S. or the world will have to scale up their resources to meet the communication needs of multiple markets.

Crisis Communications Plan

Free 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!

Manzer Communications is a communications agency that practices a lean service model addressing the integrated PR and digital marketing needs of its technology customers. Manzer Communications has a strong international focus given its team and Associate Agency channel representing markets across the globe. For more information about the agency, please visit: www.ManzerCommunications.com.

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.

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!

Through our global communications network, we’ve been able to grasp a better understanding of media and communications in an international market. In an effort to share a bit of that insight, we’ve asked our Associate Agencies to share some common media relations practices in their respective countries.

Next up in our series, we talked to Northern Link PR, a PR agency for Nordic companies, based in Stockholm, Sweden.

 

Q. How many media markets do you cover in your country?

A. Four markets with one agency on each market: Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland

 

Q. How do journalists prefer to be pitched?

A. When it comes to pitching, key success factors are: locally relevant news (this means Norwegian news for Norway, Swedish news for Sweden and so on), phone pitching, and exclusive interview offerings. Focus on bringing value to the journalist by knowing the target audience of each media and area of interest of each journalist.

 

Q. What is the most important business media outlet in your market(s)?

A. Sweden – Dagens Industri

      Finland – Kauppalehti

      Norway – Dagens Näringsliv

      Denmark – Boersen

 

Q. What is the most important consumer media outlet in your market(s)?

 A. Sweden – Dagens Nyheter and Svenska Dagbladet

       Finland – Iltalethi

       Norway – Aftenposten

       Denmark – Berlingske Tidene and Jyllandsposten

 

Q. What is the most important trend in your local media landscape today?

A. Internet and mobile penetration are among the strongest in the world. The blogosphere is very strong for B2C PR. Also of course, social media is very important and keeps growing.

 

Q. What is the biggest mistake you can make with journalists in your local market(s)?

A. To not understand what brings value to the journalist and his or her audience. Jargon and superlatives without facts do not go down well.

 

Q. What is the reputation of PR practitioners with journalists?

A. It is an ok relationship that is kept on a professional level. Becoming friends with journalists is ok, of course, but that will not make them more likely to write. Bringing them value is the key. 

 

Q. What is the knowledge of English with journalists?

A. Very good for a non-English native region. However, written material is expected to be delivered in the local language.

 

Q. What are legal or professional code restrictions to media relations practices? For example, in Germany there are many restrictions on giving gifts to journalists.

A. Professional PR consultants know that bringing value to the journalist is key.

 

Do you have any questions about developing an international communications presence in the Nordic region for your business? If so, get in touch with us here.

Thank you to our associate agency Northern Link PR for giving us a brief insight into the media relations world in Nordic countries. Founded in 2011 for companies with Nordic ambitions, Northern Link PR is a Swedish PR agency that consists of a team of consultants that will help you with any communications need. This includes managing media relations, establishing and managing your digital channels, planning and executing events, managing your Nordic or Swedish company or product launch, or preparing and acting upon your crisis communications plan. Northern Link PR is capable of serving the Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and Finnish markets.

There once was a content manager who happened upon an immense struggle. He lay awake at night on his extra-firm mattress with plush pillows and duvet pondering, “Should I apply for a copyright on my new digital short and accompanying media campaign? Do I actually need one? What will it do for me? Oh, the agonizing burdens that I must carry.” “Have no fear,” said the Copyright. “I am the answer to all of your questions and will provide peace of mind so you can get much needed beauty sleep (ahem).”

If you’ve ever pondered the same questions as our hero, the following discussion of copyright functions and how they apply to online content creation may provide some guidance. The story of copyrights and content managers isn’t especially alluring, but with proper implementation, it can still lead to a happy ending.

What is a Copyright?

Formal copyright protection applies to original works of authorship, including literary, musical, and pictorial works, as well as others listed in Title 17 of the United States Code. Common items that online content creators may need to have copyrighted are websites, blogs, images, and other publications.

Keep in mind that a copyright is different from a trademark, which applies to names, titles, and logos; and a patent, which applies to invented processes, machines or designs. A good way to differentiate the 3 ideas is to think about the context of a song. The song lyrics themselves can be copyrighted, while the song title would require a trademark application. The apparatus used to play the song (smartphone, CD player, cassette player, or record player, depending on your level of hipness) would be patentable.

One point of frequent confusion around copyrights regards the extent of protection that federal copyright registration provides. Barring contractual agreements to the contrary, you, as the content creator, own all right to the content as soon as you create it. You do not need to apply for a copyright to obtain the rights to use the created work as you see fit. However, there are several benefits to registering the copyright that we will discuss next.

Why Should I Apply for a Copyright?

There are two main reasons to consider applying for a copyright – protecting your work and the ability to expand your reach through licensing.

  • To protect your original content.

Has anyone ever tried to pass off your work as their own? Maybe a photo or a speech at a political convention? Registering your work product with the US Copyright Office can serve as evidence in your favor in case of a copyright infringement dispute and can dissuade potential plagiarists who find your work(s) in the federal registration database. It can also protect your clients in case the content you created for them becomes the source of an infringement claim. Taking the relatively simple steps to apply for a registered copyright can provide peace of mind and extra protection for the work that you have diligently invested time, and possibly money, to create. While copyright ownership of the original work arises when the work is initially created, copyright registration serves as an official record of the date the work was created and gives notice of the owner’s claim to the copyright. If you ever intend to enforce your copyright ownership against infringement, it should be registered.

Take note that employees and independent contractors may not have copyright ownership over “works for hire,” which include original content created for an employer or principal. In that case, the employer/principal likely owns the copyright. Employer contracts and independent contractor agreements frequently address these issues, so be sure to review them carefully when entering a new employment relationship.

  • To expand your reach through licensing.

In addition to protecting your work product, copyrights allow the owner to issue paid licenses to approved users as a source of extra income while retaining control. For instance, that insightful article you drafted about craft libations in East Austin can be licensed to a nationwide magazine to publish for an agreed price and time frame. The license can be as limited or broad as the licensor (copyright owner) determines.

How Do I Register a Copyright?

It’s easy and (relatively) cheap! Once you decide to apply for copyright registration, the process is relatively simple. You can apply electronically through the United States Copyright Office by registering with the website, uploading the applicable documents for copyright, and submitting the appropriate fee. And if that’s too much headache for you, a handy dandy IP attorney would probably be pleased to submit the application in your stead.

Single document copyright registrations (ie, a one-time article) currently require a $35 filing fee, though group registrations for periodical publications and other types of registrations (ie, photos) may have higher fees. After the application and fees are submitted, an attorney for the Copyright Office will review the application and register the copyright if approved. The review process can take several months, but the registration will be listed from the time of initial submission.

Doesn’t Using the © Symbol Get the Job Done?

Yes and no. A copyright is not federally registered unless you apply and receive approval through the US Copyright Office. However, using the © symbol does tell the world that you are claiming ownership of the work that the symbol references and can deter potential infringers from doing so. Again, you should register the copyright in order to preserve evidence of your ownership to make a claim of infringement.

How Can I Legally Borrow Someone Else’s Copyrighted Content?

This is a loaded question with potential for another blog entry in response, but the short answer is to get permission. For images that you publish, either take your own photos or purchase a license from the image owner that allows re-publication. If you are citing information that you obtained from another source, give credit where it’s due and cite back to the original source. Hyperlinks are great for driving traffic back to the original publisher, who will probably appreciate the vote of good faith.

Republication of content from social media sites and other websites will most likely be subject to the particular site’s terms of use and not necessarily up to the person who posted the content. If a client says something positive about your firm on Facebook, use the compliment as a reason to reach out to them and ask permission to share their words on your website. Even if you don’t absolutely have to do so legally, the client will most likely be flattered that you value their opinion and avoid any question of unpleasantness later.

So there you have it. Copyrights inherently belong to you, the brilliant content creator, but registration is relatively simple and can be a very helpful tool to protect your creations. For additional questions, please contact Emily Morris, JD. And for more unromantic stories like the above, I recommend visiting your local law library.

About Emily Morris: Emily Morris, Principal at The Morris Law Firm, is a Texas business and real estate attorney with a marketing background.  She enjoys working with creatives and other business owners on the necessary evils of legal issues so they can focus on the work they do best.  When she isn’t drafting contracts and submitting trademark applications, Emily enjoys singing with Chorus Austin, exploring as many new locales as possible, and two-stepping with her husband Andy.