INSIGHT. 04/21/16

PR Seeks Social Media: A Match Made in the Digital Era

By Seth Grugle, vice president, ICR

As public relations professionals, we can’t so much as “swipe right” today without considering the important impact social media makes on every story we tell, every connection we make and every result we report. PR is to storytelling as social media is to story making. And that story must be told properly in order to effectively grow a brand, solidify (or re-build) reputations, reach a target audience and, ultimately, drive business results for our clients.

Public relations professionals must also be cognizant of, anticipate and plan for the potential pitfalls of social media – most notably, the ease and speed at which one negative consumer comment online can reverberate through social and traditional media channels and to key stakeholder audiences in the offline world, impacting corporate brand reputation, customer loyalty and investor sentiment.

Relationship Status

The most powerful tool when it comes to trial and conversion is word of mouth, the holy grail of PR. Our interpersonal relationships are still riding the downward slope of the “real life” bell curve, one could easily argue that word of mouth for a new generation is entirely born and bred online. Content, therefore, is king. Upwards of 86 percent of people fast forward through television commercials these days according to Demand Metric; therefore, we as PR professionals can find inspiration in the fact that 60 percent of people seek out additional information about a product or service after reading, watching or being exposed to digital content about it online.

Exercises in brand building can be told entirely through a social lens. A brand’s social following is its most authentic audience and should be treated as such. “Break” news first online, engage regularly with your most loyal ambassadors and know when it’s timely and appropriate to disengage. If PR and social teams are working seamlessly together, the story should flow from Facebook page to newspaper page without so much as a single disruption.

Swipe Right

PR and social media work best together, of course, when united to tell a single story – one that sparks action both on- and offline. Take the United Nations’ 2016 #ShareHumanity campaign, for instance. In an effort to drive awareness surrounding World Humanitarian Day, the U.N. and its partners developed a powerful platform whereby celebrities, influencers and everyday users could “donate” their social media feeds for one day to tell a true story of humanitarian aid in action. Imagine scrolling through your Twitter feed and spotting – in 140 characters or less – an announcement from a global popstar that his passport was stolen while attempting to emigrate from Syria or a television star was on her way to Kabul, Afghanistan, to start a skateboarding school for girls. Coupled with well-timed media relations efforts that led to a myriad of placements across a variety of verticals from tech to entertainment to even sports outlets, the #ShareHumanity campaign ignited a movement that not only out outpaced all key performance indicators, but saw the hashtag trending across multiple platforms on the day the entire world was listening – all thanks to the combined coordination of PR and social efforts.

Swipe Left

On the flip side, social media can negatively impact a brand’s bottom line just as much as a poor showing on Yelp or a bad review in the Times. Take Pizza Hut’s recent row with reality television personality Abby Lee Miller. The Dance Moms star took to her Instagram account to point fingers at a Santa Monica store that supposedly hung up on her multiple times. More than 2 million followers were instructed to call and harass the unit, which, apparently, they did. Pizza Hut received a barrage of calls and a few terse words in traditional media, as well. The chain subsequently asked Miller to remove the post, but in the merged worlds of social media and PR, you can’t fight fire with fire (or a $5 flavor menu). When your beef is hashed out on a digital stage, often the best plan to attack is to extend that figurative olive branch by way of an extra side of breadsticks. For life.

It’s Complicated

The value of social media to a PR professional goes well beyond added impressions or a secondary avenue of storytelling. Consider the following when planning your next product launch, brand building exercise or consumer campaign:

Mining for Content: As mentioned previously, PR and social media are fundamentally all about the “story.” PR professionals can use social as the most consumer-connected tool we have at our disposal to mine for content that can be used to create said stories and build brand ambassadors. Did a couple get engaged in one of your stores? Did a sports superstar dine in one of your restaurants following a championship win? Find those news nuggets, forge those connections and craft better stories on- and offline.

So Sentimental: Facebook recently upgraded its “like” functionality to include “reactions” – like, love, haha, wow, sad and angry. While this update might seem small at the onset, PR professionals now have a new social measurement tool at their disposal, all centered around sentiment. We can monitor reactions in real time to, say, a posted news article about our clients or brands and adjust accordingly. If our most loyal fans have an adverse reaction to one of our stories, switch course!

Teach, Don’t Preach: We’ve all seen the “how-to” videos that have taken over our newsfeeds recently, and those types of minute-long creations are quickly becoming the new normal for storytelling. Not surprisingly, consumers are more apt to engage with and place more value on a brand that provides teachable moments. Share a recipe, a life hack or a “how to” guide on a topic or product closely associated with your client’s brand or service. Plus, with publishers now operating countless social media pages and accounts that target a variety of audiences (BuzzFeed has 90 different Facebook pages, while The Huffington Post counts 79), the PR and social amplifications of teachable, shareable video marketing are endless.

Pick Your Platform: A study from CEO.com found that 61 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs have no social media presence at all, while another study from Rivalfox showed that only 38 percent of the Fortune 500 have a Pinterest presence. Does this matter? It does. Consumers expect a level of one-on-one engagement and interaction with their favorite brands and companies (and the leadership of each) at unprecedented levels today. Be the author of the story. Share, discuss, interact – especially in those places your customers already frequent online. If you don’t, your public will, and there’s no guaranteeing a happy ending to that story.

Watch Out for Pitfalls: As is the case with traditional media, companies need to think about and approach social media as part of an integrated strategic communications program, including corporate communications and investor relations. A negative, misleading or factually inaccurate comment on a company’s Facebook page can quickly escalate into traditional media coverage that is then read by investors and analysts, followed by questions about the validity of the comment on the next quarterly earnings call and mentions in subsequent analyst reports. This potential escalation needs to be taken seriously and managed quickly and properly in order to mitigate damage to the corporate brand. Proper management of these situations must be evaluated and determined on a case-by-case basis – one size does not fit all.

The synergies between PR and social media are endless – and don’t have to be complicated. From crisis situations to new product launches, mining for content to engaging directly with your most influential of brand loyalists, the more the right hand speaks to the left, the more your client or brand wins in the end.


 

ESG Lessons for the Cannabis Industry

BY PHIL DENNING, DAN MCDERMOTT Medicinal marijuana is legal in 30 states and as the cannabis industry continues to mature and more companies are publicly traded, there will be an increased focus on their environmental,…

READ MORE
 

The Board’s Oversight Role in Corporate Culture Definition

Lyndon Park, head of ICR’s Governance Advisory Solutions practice, was published in Financier Worldwide magazine discussing the board’s role in overseeing corporate culture.

READ MORE
 

The Art Of The Impactful Investor Presentation

One of the most frequently asked questions by new clients to ICR is – how can we be most impactful, to the largest audience, in the shortest time?

READ MORE
 

5 Important Communication Tips Cannabis Companies Should Follow

“‘Hype vs. Reality’ – Managing the Delicate PR Balance for Innovation-Driven Businesses,”

READ MORE
 

Hillicon Valley: What the Internet Bill of Rights Means for the Tech Industry

Bo Park Partner & Head of Technology PR ICR, Inc. When it comes to reconciling free markets, technological innovation and personal digital privacy, it’s clear that Wall Street, Silicon Valley and Capitol Hill have a…

READ MORE
 

The Allure of 1.4 Billion Customers

“Go West, young man, go West, and grow up with the country.” So urged Horace Greeley in 1865. Today, many business leaders are telling their underlings, “Go East, young men and women, go East, and grow up with China.”

READ MORE
 

Using Common Sense in Change Management

In our business, clients seek our advice on how to handle these unfortunate events. In recent years it has adopted its own jargon: change management.

READ MORE
 

Navigating ESG Ratings Agencies

BY DAN MCDERMOTT As ESG matters have grown in importance to investors, so has the influence of ESG ratings agencies. Issuers often struggle to navigate which ESG issues to disclose, the best practices for disclosure,…

READ MORE
 

Emerging Biotech Company Looking to Raise Money? Start by Raising Your Visibility

In the biotech arena, raising capital to fund R&D is mission critical. Thus implementing a strategy to raise your profile is more critical than ever.

READ MORE
 

ICR’s Phil Denning featured in 13D Monitor’s October issue

Phil Denning, Partner, ICR, and co-head of ICR’s special situations group, sat down with 13D Monitor and is featured in their October issue.

READ MORE
 

Developing an Annual IR Plan

Planning and executing a productive, efficient and effective IR outreach program is one of the primary responsibilities of the Investor Relations team at any corporation.

READ MORE
 

The Impact of Total Shareholder Return on Proxy Contest Outcomes

Some companies may release a deep exhale following a proxy season without engagement from an activist shareholder.

READ MORE
 

Best Practices in Raising the Profile and Protecting Professional Services Brands

From global law and management consulting firms to accounting and engineering firms, the competitive need to aggressively promote brand, talent and POV on key…

READ MORE
 

Integrity in PR: Some Sage Advice from Comedian Steve Martin

My favorite comedian, Steve Martin, had a routine on his 1981 album, “The Steve Martin Brothers,” that included this gag:

READ MORE
 

Analyzing Share Repurchase Programs

Recently I was asked to weigh in as a client decided whether to initiate a share repurchase program. The client was contemplating a way to reduce future share price volatility following a…

READ MORE
 

STACK, SCROLL & SWIPE: How mobile is changing the online experience

We recently came across a fascinating statistic: For the first time, people are spending more time on their smartphones than on their desktops and or laptops. More, even, than on their televisions.

READ MORE
 

The Business Case for Embracing ESG & Communicating the Results

In 1970, economist Milton Friedman famously claimed that there’s “only one social responsibility of business

READ MORE
 

Director-To-Shareholder Communication: Managing the New Normal in IR

The past few years have seen shareholders become increasingly vocal in their desire to communicate directly with a company’s board of directors.

READ MORE
 

MiFID II Update: Impact on U.S. Listed Companies is Underway, It is Critical to Become Proactive

MiFID II mandates the unbundling of trading commissions from investment research payments, requiring investment firms to value and pay for research and corporate access separately.

READ MORE
 

Amazon’s Healthcare Entrance and the Unfolding Digital Health Revolution

In the past several years, the healthcare landscape has altered dramatically as consolidation has continued across the healthcare verticals, but the scale of the entities involved now is truly gargantuan

READ MORE
 

Social Media and its emerging role on Wall Street

By Tom Ryan Co-Founder & CEO of ICR Having spent more than a decade on Wall Street as a sell-side analyst, and the last 20 years as the CEO of a strategic communications firm that…

READ MORE
 

2018 – Year of Shorts?

As shareholder activism has become an accepted and mainstream investment strategy, publicly agitating for change at public companies and calling out management for underperformance no longer has the same stigma it once carried.  Over the…

READ MORE
 

The True Value of Investor Perception Studies

The concept of an investor perception study is familiar to most IROs, C-suite executives and boards.

READ MORE
 

Rules for the Road (Show) Near Quarter End

Getting out on the road – be it through a non-deal roadshow (NDR) or investor conference – is critical to the success of an effective IR program.  Meeting current and prospective investors face-to-face and sharing…

READ MORE
 

So You’ve Just Completed Your Cross-Border IPO

Congratulations. You’ve just completed your cross-border IPO. After many months, or maybe years, of hard work, your shares are trading on Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange.

READ MORE
 

New Study Shows the Benefit of Ex-Analysts in the IR Role

Who better to help management teams communicate to analysts and investors than former analysts?

READ MORE
 

Hosting A Successful Investor Day

As companies look to generate interest form the investment community over time, they need to consider a broad range of activities.

READ MORE
 

Equifax Exposes Personal Information… and the Urgent Need for Crisis Preparedness!

The immediate aftermath of the latest Company data breach – this one affecting a record 143 million people at consumer credit bureau Equifax – brings to mind the popular definition of insanity…

READ MORE
 

PR Nightmares and Social Media: Winning Back Customer Trust

If 2017 has taught us anything so far, it’s that PR disasters can be made a hundred times worse by social media ineptitude.

READ MORE
 

The Issue of Guidance

As a trusted advisor, we are often asked about earnings guidance and whether or not a company should provide it. And if they should, how often and what metrics should be provided.

READ MORE
 

SPEED EQUALS REVENUE: DESIGNING MOBILE EXPERIENCES FOR B2B MARKETING

For many B2B companies, it’s become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy: “We don’t focus much on mobile,” they say. “It just doesn’t generate business for us.” The numbers do seem to bear…

READ MORE
 

Want a Successful IPO in the US? Asian Companies Need to Work Harder

Asia What’s in a name? That which we call a meigui, by any other name would smell as sweet. Me-i guey? What’s a me-i guey? Well,…

READ MORE
 

How to manage late SEC filings

Strategic planning and communications around late filings of an annual 10K or quarterly 10Q is critical for a company to manage the negative fallout. Companies must act quickly to reassure investors and other stakeholders when required to file an SEC Form 12b-25 Notification of Late Filing, which gives the company a short extension to file its SEC statements.

READ MORE
 

The Ten People Who Determine Your Valuation

There is a tee shirt popular among social psychologists (admittedly a niche market) that reads, “Stereotypes are a Real Time Saver.” These scientists, many of them management professors, appreciate the ironic humor. They know, through their close study of behavior, that we are all cognitive misers with too much to do and too many things to understand.

READ MORE
 

‘Hype vs. Reality’ – Managing the Delicate PR Balance for Innovation-Driven Businesses

But there is a fine line running between the reality of promising innovation and overhyped expectations that PR professionals must walk when helping companies

READ MORE
 

Key Takeaways from Annual Tulane M&A Conference

Interestingly, and perhaps unique to this conference, the most heavily attended panel is one specific to the dynamics around media coverage of M&A.

READ MORE
 

Dual-Listed IPOs: The Keys to Success in Managing a Cross-Border Offering

There is no expected slowdown in the pace of Canadian, or TSX-listed, companies looking to list in the U.S.

READ MORE
 

A List for Listings: Considerations When Choosing a Stock Exchange

ICR President Don Duffy discusses which exchange to choose for your IPO in a new interview, via National Investors Relations Institute (NIRI). Read more about the interview.    

READ MORE
 

Getting Social with Investor Relations

Only 28 percent of IR practitioners use social media for IR, according to a 2016 social media survey conducted by the National Investor Relations Institute. The same study reported reluctance among analysts, with only 15-18…

READ MORE
 

Integrated Communications in the Life Sciences

One of the biggest challenges to achieving communications integration in the agency and corporate setting is culture.

READ MORE
 

How to Handle Bad Financial News

To say the markets have been dizzying this year is an understatement. Stock instability, the Brexit vote, and an uncertain political climate in the U.S. have required companies to adjust to…

READ MORE
 

Focus on Life Science and Healthcare Sectors

ICR Healthcare, a newly-branded specialty practice that provides communications counsel and support for ICR’s growing roster of clients in the biopharmaceutical, medtech and healthcare services sectors.

READ MORE
 

The Value of PR: Lighter on Clip Books, Heavier on Revenue Creation

A significant transfiguration has occurred for PR in recent years as the internet and emerging technologies have reshaped the business landscape. Today, through its newfound ability…

READ MORE
 

PR Seeks Social Media: A Match Made in the Digital Era

ICR As public relations professionals, we can’t so much as “swipe right” today without considering the important impact social media makes on every story we tell, every connection we make…

READ MORE
 

Washington and Crisis, a Unique Relationship

Crisis communications and Congressional hearings are inevitably intertwined, proving the adage that the most dangerous place to be in Washington is between a politician and a TV camera. The recent…

READ MORE

 

Don’t let Unicorns Fool you – The Tech IPO is not an Ancient Myth

Remember the market clamor about a possible tech bubble in 2014? It was a different time with dozens of successful IPOs and newly emerging unicorns – those hot private companies claiming…

READ MORE

 

Communicating in the Golden Era of Shareholder Activism

Carl Icahn. Bill Ackman. Nelson Peltz. Daniel Loeb. These are the names that have struck fear into the hearts of every public company CEO in America since the corporate raider days of the 1980s…

READ MORE
 

Navigating the Growing Healthy Living Industry

Increasingly more companies are focused on health and wellness. The paths of two divergent sets of consumers – boomers and seniors who are living to older ages and managing new health…

READ MORE

 

The art of IPO communications, and why it matters

With the short amount of time between an IPO filing becoming public and the completion of the IPO, the transition from private company to public can feel like a whirlwind. In a matter of weeks…

READ MORE

 

The Communications Role in the M&A Rebound

The use of strategic communications unquestionably plays a significant role in helping to ensure the success of a transaction through its different phases. It helps inspire confidence, minimize…

READ MORE

 

The mainstreaming of shareholder activism

The prevalence of shareholder activism signals a new frontier for crisis communications. The practice of activism has evolved, its players have grown more sophisticated, and companies and their…

READ MORE