4 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Press Releases

4 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Press Releases.

4 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Press Releases

5 keys to great nonverbal communication


5 keys to great nonverbal communication

By Dustin York | Posted: November 27, 2013
Clear and effective communication is essential during presentations, whether for board rooms full of executives, auditoriums at conferences, or classrooms full of students.

Verbal information is vital, but how we present that information can determine how much an audience remembers. Researchers Allan and Barbara Pease found that 83 percent of communication is nonverbal, but I wanted to know what impact it had on audience recall.

I conducted an experiment with four identical university classes with a total of 80 students. Each class had a guest speaker who presented. Two of those presenters used effective nonverbal communication, while the others used poor nonverbal communication.

The interesting part was that this was more of an acting gig than a teaching gig. Each presentation was exactly the same, word for word. The PowerPoint was the same, and the presentation length was the same. The only difference was a few nonverbal tactics.

Nonverbal communication includes a number of elements, so I manipulated only five elements:

1. Eye contact. The effective nonverbal instructor tried to make eye contact with each student throughout the presentation; the poor nonverbal instructor looked at the PowerPoint and minimally glanced at the students.

2. Voice fluctuation. The effective nonverbal instructor varied his vocal pattern throughout the presentation; the poor nonverbal instructor kept a moderately monotonous vocal range.

3. Position in the room. The effective nonverbal instructor used a PowerPoint clicker and walked around the front of the room; the poor nonverbal instructor stood behind a podium and used the desktop computer mouse to navigate the PowerPoint.

4. Facial expressions. The effective nonverbal instructor used a variety of enthusiastic facial expressions; the poor nonverbal instructor kept a moderately flat expression.

5. Hand gestures. The effective nonverbal instructor continually showed the palms of his hands during gestures; the poor nonverbal instructor kept his hands on the surface of the podium.

Following the presentation, each class took the same test, which questioned them about the information they were just given. The effective nonverbal communication courses scored almost 30 percent higher on the test than students in the poor nonverbal communication courses.

[RELATED: Find out how the best workplaces have the most engaged and collaborative workforces at our February conference.]

Students had interesting things to say about their experience during a focus group following the lectures:

Effective nonverbal communication class: 

• “If he didn’t look like he knows what he’s talking about, then I wouldn’t trust him or listen to him.”

• “(Presenters’) body language in general can definitely tell you a lot about their knowledge about the subject.”

• “Sometimes when (presenters) are speaking, I just won’t pay attention because I am bored, but I paid attention to this one.”

Poor nonverbal communication class: 

• “He just had random facts. I just didn’t really know where he got those from.”

• “I got distracted easily with doodling on my paper. I listened to the first half, but I don’t remember anything from the second half.”

• “I agree. I kind of wandered off. I tried focusing on the PowerPoint, but that was bad, too.”

So, next time you’re offering a presentation for a client or at a conference, remember you’re saying just as much with your body as you are with your mouth.

Dustin York is an assistant professor at Maryville University.

Six Traits of a Great PR Client (and six of the worst!)

Six Traits of a Great PR Client (and six of the worst!).

 Jessica.SharpBy Jessica Sharp, Principal, Maven Communications

In the PR business we have the opportunity to represent amazing businesses and organizations that develop innovative products, create initiatives that positively impact communities, and provide services that improve people’s lives. What makes working with such amazing companies even better is when there is a real simpatico relationship between the client and the agency.

If you’ve been in PR for a while you know what I mean. A relationship where you work together well, respect each other’s opinions and push each other to produce the best outcomes possible.

Out of all of the traits that my clients have had over the years, I’ve narrowed it down to six that I feel are the most important and keep me loving what I do every day. Hopefully these are traits you’re also able to experience as a PR professional.

Six traits of a great PR client:

  1. The client is open to exploring initiatives that they’ve never done before because…

  2. The client trusts your expertise and respects your professional recommendations.

  3. The client is on board with adjusting the campaign to keep the results aligned with the business objectives of the company.

  4. The client pushes you to continually be innovative.

  5. The client’s campaigns are intellectually stimulating…

  6. And also intellectually demanding.

Just like public relations campaigns evolve, so do relationships with clients.  Sometimes this change happens simultaneously, but not always. As an agency, it’s important to realize that this can happen, and that it can affect the outcome of your PR campaign, sometimes greatly.

The client/agency relationship doesn’t always have to be rainbows and unicorns, but it does need to be productive, respectful, and beneficial. If a relationship has deteriorated to the point where it is no longer beneficial for either party, or worse, to the detriment of the PR campaign, it might be time to cut ties.

Here are six instances where it’s okay, and probably appropriate, to end your relationship with a client:

  1. When a client it unwilling to shift the tactics of a campaign, even though results indicate that it should be done.

  2. When a client’s expectations become unrealistic, and even after addressing the issue they still expect unattainable results.

  3. The client is asking you to do something unethical.

  4. The number of hours your team is consistently putting into the account has made it unprofitable for the firm; and the client is unwilling to reduce the workload, or increase the retainer.

  5. There are multiple instances where the client is not providing the full story, or withholding information that is important for you to have in order to do your job effectively. To that point, if you discover the client is lying to you, it’s time to call it quits.

  6. If you’re generally not being treated well. I’m a strong believer that there is no reason, none, to have to endure an abusive client.

In the end, the most successful and rewarding client/agency relationships should be one where both client and agency are working together to achieve the goals of the company. The combined minds should be better than the singular.

About the Author: Jessica Sharp is principal of Maven Communications, a results-driven PR, social media and issues management agency based in Philadelphia. More at http://www.mavenagency.com.



Social media backfires: The 10 greatest hits

Social media backfires: The 10 greatest hits

Social media backfires: The 10 greatest hits

Betsy Farber

Social Media Posted on November 14, 2013

Through the power of social media combined with clever marketing, brands today are able to reach millions of consumers in a matter of seconds. Pair that instant connection with today’s 24-hour news cycle, and we’re left with many marketers waiting, with baited breath, for the next breaking story that they can tie into a tweet or a Facebook post to relate to consumers. Although success can be sweet, a hasty social media post can backfire and spread surprisingly fast.

Social media backfires: The 10 greatest hits

Here are 10 shameful examples of social media marketing from this year (and a few from years past) that resulted in a lot of brand exposure — and not necessarily the good kind.


KFC’s infamous hashtag (#iatethebones) became an integrated campaign crossing over into TV, mobile ads, and all the usual-suspect social media outlets, asking customer to send in pictures of their disbelief at eating all the bones.

Social Media Backfires: The 10 greatest hits


But the company’s playful intention took a turn to the dark side and incited people to post morbid tweets and disturbing memes, associating the brand with serial killers and bad behavior. Eating a piece of fried chicken might never be the same.

Social Media Backfires: The 10 greatest hits

Bank of America

In most cases, instant customer service via automated response on Twitter can work wonders for all parties. But not in the case of an angry citizen berating Bank of America’s lack of empathy for regular Americans. No, this was not a good time to pull out the ol’ staple tweet to take care of a customer’s needs — who turned out to not even be a BOA customer. The tweets continued, and BOA kept tweeting back its robotic responses — sparking more anger and making the company look even more out of touch.

Social Media Backfires: The 10 greatest hits

Kenneth Cole

With lots of references to military garb swirling around in early September, Kenneth Cole couldn’t help but incorporate the catch phrase “boots on the ground” into its fall Twitter roll-out. Although the brand got a lot of backlash and admitted to hiring a crisis management firm, the company unapologetically stood by the provocative tweet that upset a lot of customers. Controversial social media is not new for this brand, and it refuses to let a marketing faux pas disrupt its promotions. 

Social Media Backfires: The 10 greatest hits



Durex Condoms

An immediate condom delivery service sounded like a good idea to the brand Durex, until it polled Facebook asking what city would be most in need of instant protection. The contest was an open forum, with no parameters or choices for voters to pick from. The campaign took a bad turn when it was revealed that the conservative Turkish city of Batman (yes, this is a real place) took the top prize. It was forced to shut down the mockery-ridden campaign, and it inadvertently brought negative attention to a city’s modest culture, offending many just by the association. This rubber campaign wasn’t able to bounce back, ending in a total loss for Durex.

Social Media Backfires: The 10 greatest hits


Referencing a memorial day on social media sites can be a slippery slope for marketers, and this was especially true for AT&T’s interesting tweet this past Sept. 11. The company’s controversial picture caused many people to take to Twitter and Facebook to criticize the phone company for taking advantage of product placement. Although the company issued a public apology, the incident still cast an insensitive stigma on the brand — something consumers won’t easily forget.

Social Media Backfires: The 10 greatest hits


Pepto-Bismol’s candid tweeted question (below) was, needless to say, already turning heads, but it was the misplaced comma that really got people going. People immediately responded to the odd comma placement with retweets and snarky responses like “log out forever.” Although we’re getting a good laugh at its expense, Pepto-Bismol shook off the minor blunder.   

Social Media Backfires: The 10 greatest hits



Offering food as a way to console someone in mourning might be fine in some cases, but not when a company is trying to sell scones — in 140 characters or less — following an act of terrorism. Epicurious (a food and menu site) curiously posted tweets following the Boston Marathon bombing in hopes to boost sales. Not surprisingly, that pissed off a lot of people. Regretful tweets were then issued after scathing remarks were made by the brand’s followers. But, for some, it didn’t excuse the company’s initial intention to monetize the tragedy.

Social Media Backfires: The 10 greatest hits


It wasn’t Kmart’s “thoughts and prayers” message to the victims of the Newton School shootings that had people upset. It was the hashtag toy promotion (#Fab15Toys) embedded in the tweet that people found offensive. Maybe Kmart innocently overlooked the hashtag inclusion. Maybe it thought customers wouldn’t notice the shoutout to its promotion, which happened to coincide with a shooting at an elementary school. Either way, it looked bad.

Social Media Backfires: The 10 greatest hits



Here’s an example of a brand using bad weather to promote its website. Unfortunately, the storm turned out to be the monster Hurricane Sandy that resulted in fatalities and left thousands without electricity and many homeless. The company issued an apologetic tweet, backpeddling regarding the message of its original tweet. Damage control aside, many people were offended and didn’t hold back in saying so.

Social Media Backfires: The 10 greatest hits


The McDonald’s hashtag promotion, #McDStories, turned into a runaway marketing train when customers decided to share unpleasant stories about the brand and its employees. In theory, the concept sounds like a fun way to get people buzzing about why they love your brand. The obvious downside is managing the haters who will jump on any chance they get to make heckling comments. This McDonald’s marketing story is one for the books: Control your social media before it controls you.

Social Media Backfires: The 10 greatest hits

Social Media Backfires: The 10 greatest hits

Betsy Farber is an editorial assistant at iMedia Connection.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

“OOPS!” image via Shutterstock.

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Moving the PR profession from talkers to makers

Moving the PR profession from talkers to makers

Moving the PR profession from talkers to makers

By Martin Waxman | Posted: November 12, 2013
Macher is an old Yiddish expression that, literally translated, means maker, but idiomatically it is far from that.

It’s often used pejoratively and refers to a person who considers her/himself a big shot or big-time operator—often pictured as a guy with a fat cigar.

It’s not all bad; machers are well-connected, like to put themselves in the center of things, and can be good people to call if you’re looking for an introduction or trying to find the latest news. Hmmm, reminds me of a few PR pros I know.

Disclosure: I have, from time to time, been a macher, and it surprises me to say I haven’t minded that at all.

I thought about the term after I talked to Jay Baer on Inside PR 3.49.

I was interviewing him about his new book “Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help, Not Hype” and keynote at Meshmarketing in Toronto.

I asked him about the state of the PR industry, and he said the challenge for PR pros is this: We’re mainly talkers in a world where companies are looking for makers.

Makers are creators of content—videos, websites, infographics, white papers, or other sharable social objects. Talkers on the other hand, well, they talk about it, maybe even offer advice or a strategy, but when push comes to shove, they have to outsource the work.

It’s safe to say that in the evolving marketing communications landscape, PR firms are competing more and more often with ad, digital, social media, content, and whatever new hybrid agencies appear on the horizon. The industry’s challenge is not only to get clients to think about us, but to think of us first.

Putting our creativity where our mouths are

Here are five steps we can take right now to get us closer to the maker end of the spectrum:

1. Lights, camera, PR school. PR education must add visual storytelling to its curriculum ASAP, including courses in photography, audio and video production, coding, and online graphic design. Some graduates can specialize in the new disciplines. Everyone else should at least have a basic knowledge.

2. Go DIY. Working professionals must commit to learning something new on their own time. Maybe it’s making a GIF, starting and maintaining a blog that enhances your personal brand, or researching and writing a long-form article. You can do it yourself, find online courses, or enroll in a local program.

3. Redefine the PR industry. We still spend too much time referring to public relations by what we’re not (i.e., not advertising). Compounding this is that many clients hire us primarily to do publicity, but it’s essential we tell our story by demonstrating the value we provide, and how we help clients achieve their goals.

4. Step out of the news release box. The next time you’re about to suggest a news release, try coming up with three other content recommendations to accomplish the same business objectives, just differently.

5. Hire makers. Listen to them, adapt to their perspectives, and integrate them into the fiber of the agency.

Many people across the disciplines have been trained for one skill, have gotten really good at it, and now find they need to master new types of expertise. Let’s take the lead and transform PR from talkers to makers—or from machers to, um, machers—but without the big, fat cigar.

[RELATED: Learn how to create content that sticks for the long haul at our December NYC summit.]

Are you a talker or a maker? What do you think PR should do to upgrade the profession? 

Martin Waxman has his own consultancy and is a senior counselor for Canadian firm Thornley Fallis. A version of this story originally appeared on Spin Sucks.

5 common social media mistakes and how to avoid them

5 common social media mistakes and how to avoid them

5 common social media mistakes and how to avoid them

By Cassandra D’Aiello | Posted: November 6, 2013
Social media can help expand your personal and company brand, if it’s done right. If social media is done poorly, it could send the wrong message to your community, hurting your brand. 

It is important that you don’t put your social media on autopilot and neglect it. Social media takes a lot of care and feeding. 

Here’s a list of five common social media mistakes and how you can avoid them. 

1. Not customizing your message to the social network.

How many times have you seen @ signs on LinkedIn? Probably a lot. Do you pay attention to those messages when you know they are for another social network? Probably not. Are you really going to read an article about LinkedIn tips that’s been posted on Twitter? Such mistakes are common. 

The remedy: Remember the purpose of each network, along with its ins and outs. LinkedIn is a social network for professionals; therefore, your posts should be more professional. Facebook is a network for friends; so these posts should be less formal, more casual. Remember to cater your message to the platform. For some that is communications 101, but for others it is a common sticking point. 

2. No strategy.

Have you ever asked yourself why you are on Facebook? What about Twitter? Are the people your company trying to reach on that social network? Are your friends still on Facebook, or have they left for another platform like Instagram? With whom are you trying to communicate? Before you or your company joins a social media platform, ask yourself: Why do it? 

The remedy: Create a social media strategy. Having an intern manage your company’s social media presence is a big mistake. (Here are 11 reasons why.) A seasoned and experienced professional should oversee your company’s social media presence, because he or she knows your business well and can avoid crises. 

3. One-way communication.

Social media is not a platform to blast messages. It is a way for people and brands to listen, learn, and engage. How often do you see a brand or person never respond to a post or a message they sent? How often do you see questions or concerns go unanswered by brands and people? It shows a lack of understanding the true essence of social media: being “social.” 

The remedy: Social media is way to humanize brands (here are 20 tips on that topic) and open up possibilities for people to connect with people around the world. Social media is a platform for two-way communication, not one-way broadcasting. For every @ mention on Twitter, you should reply. It doesn’t take a lot of time to say thank you to your followers who care about you or your brand. 

4. Selling. Selling. Selling. 

Social platforms are not for selling. People don’t join social media networks to be pitched. They join them to converse, see what others are doing, and learn about the world. How often do you see posts about companies talking about themselves too much? 

The remedy: Share news and expert content that is helpful and shareable. Find a balance of posts that promote others and you or your company once in a while. Share content created by your colleagues and industry experts. Be helpful, not sales-y. 

5. Inconsistent or no posts.

How many times do you see a company create a social network, but they haven’t posted in months or years? The page looks like a ghost town. For example, how many Twitter accounts have you seen where the person still has an egghead and has never tweeted? Inconsistent posting on social sites can say more to your followers than what you are actually posting. Would you work with a company that didn’t care about its social media presence? How you would be treated as a customer? Would you get neglected as well? 

[RELATED: Learn how to create content that sticks for the long haul at our December NYC summit.

The remedy: Make sure you post at least once a week. On some social networks, you may want to post once a day but you don’t want to clutter your followers’ feed. For example, Twitter is a much faster moving feed, so posts can be much more frequent than Facebook. On LinkedIn, you might want to make an update at least twice a week because your home feed on that platform is getting more activity recently with the launch of sponsored updates

What would you add to this list? What are others doing wrong on social media? 

A version of this story originally appeared on the Knowledge Enthusiast blogCassandra D’Aiello is social media manager at Perspectiv3