5 Steps to Promote Your Cross-Platform Brand Story

Reprinted from PRNews

Since I wrote 6 Steps to Create a Comprehensive PR Plan in 2014, the public relations and communications industry has gone through a transformative time.

The speed of communications is ever-increasing, and new channels are constantly emerging. There’s also a greater need to micro-target messages using interconnected cross-platform campaigns to create a continuous story experience. But getting the basics right still applies.

Here are 5 steps to consider when starting your campaign:

Challenge your goal. What outcome do you want to achieve from the campaign? A change in behavior, a change in perception, increased sales, increased awareness? Brainstorm with your team to delve into the outcomes required from the campaign. Challenge assumptions and think differently. This is where you determine whether a campaign is a go or a no-go, which will save you time and money in the long run. Is it the right strategy for your brand right now in the current market context?

Know your audience, know your platforms. The details are in the demographics. Determine which individuals you need to move to achieve your goal. Know how they interact and receive information about your brand. Where do they get their news? What platforms are they most active on? Who/what do they rely on as a trusted source? Who are they influenced by? How influential are they as a whole? A marketing research agency can help you segment your audience, while focus groups, surveys and polling can help you find answers to the questions above. UberConference can be used for focus groups with ability to monitor who is on the call, while SurveyMonkey offers a selection of ready-made marketing surveys.

Let your data speak. Continually mine your data for insights. Consider social media monitoring software such as nuvi.com to help you listen in and see what others are saying about your brand, the industry you are in or the perception you want to sway. If you have the budget, you can work with a digital agency; if not, be resourceful and use the data you have available on your channels. Avoid the temptation to mass-market your campaign due to lack of data access.

Create your storyline. Analyze other campaigns that are targeting similar audiences to see what is and isn’t working. What content is your audience responding to? What content are they creating? Review your agreed-upon goals for the campaign and brainstorm 3-5 storylines with your team, keeping the outcome in mind. Test your top storylines with a selected segment of influencers and revise, revise, revise based on input. You can release test storylines onto your social platforms to measure performance in terms of reach and spread across your audience segments or select influencers you are familiar with to participate in an online, closed focus group.

Determine your channel mix. Your campaign story can determine your mix. Maybe you start with a consumer Instagram Story which ties into promoted brand content on media platforms. That Story ties to an event launch for your brand, and is followed by your brand story promotion. Think of multiple ways to lead and position the story, connecting within your public and consumer audience from the beginning.

Truth, reputation and reliance are mainstays—make sure those key attributes are anchored in your approach and are reflected in your selection of media partners and influencers.

5 Tips for Creating a Multilingual Digital Presence

Marina Monzeglio

Marina Monzeglio has over eight years of experience in digital communications. She is currently a global communications consultant in Washington, DC. Prior to her consulting career in the States, Marina worked with  the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition both based in Geneva, Switzerland. Follow Marina on Twitter @marinamonzeglio.

Like most internet users, I have visited multilingual websites before. It’s convenient to surf in your own language, and the uses go beyond. Where the translation on a website appears a bit “uneven”, I have sometimes compared language versions to better understand the content.

So, going multilingual must be simple, right? Just replicate content with translated materials? A successful multilingual website is dependent on a series of factors, and I will outline here what I have found to be the most important.

1. Use simple, powerful language
When writing content for a multilingual website, it is particularly important to use simple and effective language. Be consistent with your terminology, and avoid jargon. This will not only be appreciated by online readers, but it will also make the translators’ task easier.

The relationship with the translators is crucial: news announcements and other updates for the web are usually time-sensitive and a roster of reliable and fast translators is needed to keep a website relevant and up-to-date across languages. A good relationship with translators can also help improve the original content – translators will flag and ask clarifications if the original text is obscure or incoherent.

2. Adjust the layout to reflect the length of the text in translation
Always remember that a translation can be significantly longer or shorter than the original text, according to the pair of languages. Schedule time for adjustments to the web page layout if needed.

3. Adapt structure and content management
The structure of a multilingual website is more complex than the structure of a monolingual website, and requires a robust content management system that can be regularly updated.

To ensure better SEO results when using Google and other search engines, as well as maximum accessibility through assistive technologies such as screen readers, every web page should be properly labelled in the correct language.

Pay particular attention to URL syntax, so they follow a clear and logical structure in each language and across the site.

And your SEO strategy should include each language, allowing users to input keywords in their language and presenting results in their language only.

4. Monitor website usage by language
Analytics can give you good insight into how users navigate the site in each language. With this data, you can make improvements to the site to optimise their experience. The sites that are driving traffic to yours will often also vary by language. Your approach to outreach must be multilingual, too.

5. Be prepared to handle requests generated by the site
A successful website is a dynamic one, that does not only broadcast information but encourages reflection and reaction. Website users will likely be sending you requests in all languages, and a process for handling requests in all languages needs to be put in place.

Creating a multilingual website does have a price tag, from cost of translation to additional staff time. However, it may be better to see it as an investment with the potential to deliver returns that dramatically expand your global reach and engagement.

New Year, New Crisis Plan

When was the last time you reviewed your crisis response plan?

Whether they would admit or not, many organizations either do not have a crisis response plan or have one that is barely, if ever, reviewed. In the changing political and global context of today, having a dynamic crisis response plan that aligns with your business and is integrated across channels is critical to your operations.

In my experience, crises have a higher tendency to occur as a result of actions taken by an organization or in response to their mission or philosophy. You may, without realizing it, trigger a crisis by your actions – the releasing of a statement, a comment, a change in direction, an exit from a country, an issue with a program, funding, etc.

Rule number one with a crisis is that it will be incredibly fast-moving and will involve both digital and traditional media. Rule number two is that the issue that becomes a crisis will shock you – it will not be what you expect. Rule number three is that the press will seek comment from anyone with a relationship with the organization, past and present.

Some important tips:

  • Ensure senior leadership is committed and involved in the development of your plan (or updating your existing plan) and is actively engaged in live drills across the organization at least twice a year.
  • Be ready to respond and take control of the message with prepared spokespeople – not associated with the organization – who can speak on your behalf and to have supporters counter accusations on digital or start counter campaigns if needed.
  • Respond quickly – do not sit on the issue or bury your head in the sand – the longer you wait to respond, the more intense the crisis will become. Publicly provide action steps that you plan to take, the timeline in which you will take them and keep apologies short, and only apologize once.
  • Avoid becoming social shy – several recent crises showed that organizations and individuals tend to avoid digital when the heat is turned up, locking comments or maintaining scheduled posts throughout. You cannot – no matter how negative the comments or the campaigns or the memes – avoid your digital platforms.
  • Monitor digital, emails and calls so that any press that contact you are directed to the media team taking charge of vetting incoming calls and one spokesperson who had previously been trained and selected as the crisis spokesperson.
  • Stick with your talking points each time your spokesperson is interviewed to ensure that they are consistent with the facts. If an error has been made, admit it and state the necessary steps to ensure it will not happen again in the future – and make those steps publicly known.

The more visible you are, the more others may try to use your visibility for their own objectives and to advance their own agendas – for both positive and negative reasons. Recognizing the power of the collective and engaging with it will enable your brand to stay flexible and aware of changing trends and sentiments. But being prepared, and ensuring your leadership is prepared, is your ultimate strategy.

 

“Wait, I have a great idea for a video!”

On Location

As a communications professional, I am fairly confident you are asked at least once or twice a week for your thoughts about a great video concept from a fellow colleague – their eyes widening as they go into great detail, with great excitement, on the next Oscar-winning short they envision. It’s often framed as the solution to all of the communications problems facing that division, your company or your division.

Whether it’s the unrelenting access to the medium or that childhood desire to be an actor or actress that creates so many unknown directors with video concepts dancing in their heads, it can be quite a challenge to direct this enthusiasm and passion into a workable product for them and for you so that all involved feel like they’ve achieved success.

Added to that challenge is the standard follow-up comment as you leave the discussion “make it viral”.

Before you start assembling that flash mob, here a few tips for creating effective videos that engage your audience and fit in with your overall communications strategy:

Ask why. Before you begin concepting your video, you need to know two things: the ultimate goal of the video and who your audience is. It sounds basic, but most skip this step in the rush to be creative.

Is this the right medium? Is a corporate-generated video the right medium to meet your goal and reach your audience? Consider user-generated content through Instagram and Vine contests or “man on the street” interviews at conferences by audience members. Think of where your audience interacts and target that medium.

Does it support your communications strategy? Revisit your objectives for the year and whether this video lines up with those objectives. If not, make a course correction or rethink the goal and audience reach so that it does meet those objectives.

Select your team. This is the most important part of the process. When seeking out a videographer, be sure to ask for a portfolio to ensure their style and technical ability match the style you are seeking. Also ask for references.

Start with a pen and pad of paper. Write down the story you want to tell. It does not have to be a full script but a story outline with a beginning, middle and end.

Create your storyboard. Have an idea of your shots, and sequence of shots before shooting. A storyboard is an online, artistic rendition of each shot, in sequence. Adjustments will be made on location but storyboarding is a necessary planning step to ensure your vision is understood and actualized by the production team.

Include a call to action. A call to action is the ultimate action you want your target audience to take as a result of engaging with your video. For example, do you want them to share the video and/or visit your website? Make that explicit at the end of the video.

Remember SEO. Include a transcript of your video where you embed it. Search engines will pick it up and it will improve your overall SEO. And don’t forget a title, description and keywords.

Last but not least, think long and hard about your distribution strategy. How are you going to release the video to your target audience? Via press release, opening an event/conference, an online launch on web and social media platforms? Have this planned out before you begin to ensure your video has a chance of being seen and being shared, giving it the opportunity to go viral.

Global Perspectives: Building an Online Community

Welcome to the fifth edition of Global Perspectives featuring Elenice Tamashiro.

Elenice TamashiroBased in São Paulo, Brazil, Elenice Tamashiro has worked in the social entrepreneurship and innovation fields over the last 13 years. A Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy graduate, she is currently working as a consultant for international businesses, organizations, and foundations focusing on technology and innovation initiatives. Follow her at @elenicett_cm.

Six years ago, I embarked on a new journey named the online global community. Everything I knew when I said, “yes, I accept the challenge”, was something related to technology that could boost the roles of individuals, foundations and businesses as social change agents. It could not have been more compelling for me . . . help build an online community to engage innovators around the globe to tackle the world’s most pressing social issues.

There are four foundational components that are essential to build an online community: purpose, people, content, and structure.

Purpose: The organization must have a purpose as well as clear internal goals – what does the organization want to achieve with the established purpose? It has to resonate with people, nurture their sense of belonging, and touch their heart! Without a purpose, it will be hard to reach out to the constituency that matters to the organization.

People: Who are you primary targets? Do you want to increase the audience or community members? Other than common interests, community members are enthusiastic about offering contributions, exchanging ideas and experiences. People are the driving force of a community and empowering them will inspire others, multiplying their actions to an expanded group of people both online and offline. The important point is to identify and attract the group of people who are most important to you.

Content: Community members-focused content – either inspirational or calls to action – usually reverberate better to the constituency while also strengthening your organization/company brand. Consistent and continuous content fosters community members’ engagement and accelerates change on the ground.

Structure: The technological structure must be as friendly as possible. Reducing “pain points” for the user is crucial to an online community. Do not be afraid of making mistakes but listening to the users (community members) and addressing glitches in a fast manner will ensure a good online experience and an enjoyable journey to them.

Certainly there are many other elements to take into account but the lack of any of the above four will prevent the online community from pursuing its goals.

Despite named as global, the majority of online communities have language constraints. It is just fine if the platform features one language. But the decision of taking the initiative to other geographies must be as planned as possible. Becoming multilingual unfolds into a myriad of concurrent and customized processes, strategies and tactics. The purpose, rules and technological structure can be one but the initiative expansion cannot be a mere replication of the original language setting. Therefore, giving a regional flair to an online global community requires redoubled energy.

Here are my lessons learned from developing multilingual platforms:

Be empathetic to local context: Be humble, listen to locals, and adapt the strategy and tactics as much as possible. Leveraging other geographies’ participation in an online community is not an easy task. Getting the buy-in from the local constituency is a good start to create a solid initiative for the long run.

Pay attention to content customization: It goes way beyond translation. Each region requires special attention to content and terminologies. Hard content (e.g. institutional texts) can be adapted but local content development is key.

Understand the local community members’ needs: Do not think about babysitting or micromanaging! This means stepping back. Just make sure you can provide an enjoyable experience to your constituency so all of them can walk on their on feet.

Keep the plates spinning: Once you decide to embrace new locations and languages, you cannot run away from matrix management. Additional human resource capacity may be added to handle all demands yielded by localization. Never underestimate the volume of work because it is an online thing and always remember to keep your sense of humor in difficult times, be witty ☺.

Lastly, here are a couple of inspiring examples of online community building: love.fútbol (football for social change online and offline community) and patagonia (check out their customer-focused content, it attracts the group of people they want without mentioning the brand).