Stop Fearing Wikipedia: Dan Cook’s Advice on this Powerful Platform
Over his thirty-year career, Dan Cook has worked as a staff journalist in five different markets, including stops at the Portland Business Journal and Reuters. That work put him in regular contact with public relations professionals of all stripes, and as he notes early on in this interview with PR Talk host Amy Rosenberg, “I’ve learned how to find the ones who can really deliver and I hang onto them for dear life.”
These days, Dan wears many hats. He covers healthcare and benefits trends for BenefitsPro and Benefits Selling Magazine. In this role he works closely with PR pros and throughout his conversation with Amy offered important insight on how they can work collaboratively with the news media.
Dan also works as a communications consultant for To the Point Collaborative, spending most of his time helping clients navigate through the murky waters of Wikipedia.
Wikipedia as a PR Tool? Dan Says YES!
As a Wikipedia consultant, Dan teaches clients how to ethically write and edit their own articles on the world’s online encyclopedia. Most PR pros understand how valuable a good Wikipedia listing is for their clients, but avoid the platform altogether because of its intimidating environment. But instead of fearing the site, Dan feels strongly that PR pros should learn how to use Wikipedia correctly.
As Dan explains, Wikipedia is run by a group of volunteer editors who take great pains to ensure that every new article and every new edit meets a tight set of community standards. It’s not uncommon to see poorly written or improperly sourced articles pulled down from the site, or for unscrupulous paid editors to receive outright bans.
Proper sourcing is everything on Wikipedia and many paid editors run into trouble when they try to support what they’ve written with external links. According to Wikipedia’s rules, an article cannot link back to a company’s web page. However, if an article can link to sources that were written and edited by a credible third-party–such as a news outlet–it has a great chance of staying live. In Dan’s view, this is where PR pros can shine.
Whenever possible, PR pros should include important factual information in their press releases like the number of employees, key clients, services areas, etc., even if they’re not related to the main subject of the release. That way, any resulting press coverage could potentially be used to support a company’s Wikipedia page.
Dan offered these additional tips for PR pros interested in getting started on Wikipedia:
- Contrary to popular opinion, conflicts of interest and paid editing are NOT banned on Wikipedia. In fact, volunteer editors appreciate paid editors who approach the platform correctly.
- With this in mind, paid editors should be transparent on Wikipedia by choosing their own usernames and not logging in using client accounts.
- Articles should be written objectively and refrain from sales messaging.
Through To the Point Collaborative, Dan offers Wikipedia training programs that walk clients through the process of creating a transparent Wikipedia account, writing an ideal article draft, or implementing changes to an existing article. Dan also holds occasional Wikipedia “edit-a-thons” where he walks a group through the process of writing an article from start to finish.
PR pros who would like to add this important skill to their communications toolkit can reach out to Dan for more information.
About the guest: Dan Cook
Connect and follow Dan on social media:
This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon
Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.
In such a fast-paced, multi-faceted work environment, it can be tough to stay on top of everything. monday is the collaboration tool trusted by businesses of all kinds to help cut down the clutter and streamline productivity. Learn more at monday.com and signup for a free trial. You’ll see in no time why so many teams around the world are choosing monday for their project management needs.
PR Talk listeners can use the coupon code BetterExecute for a 15% discount.
My second installment in our “Back to the Basics” series. The first was driven by a specific client request for help optimizing a LinkedIn company page. So naturally, we move on to the most popular social network, Facebook, for the same kind of post.
We will again assume that you have a page already, but if not, simply go to facebook.com/pages/create and start by selecting what type of business you have and follow the instructions from there. Note that each category is different and it will ask you for unique information. If you are not sure what type of page to create check out this post on How to Determine What Kind of Business Facebook Page to Start.
Since this is a “Basics” post, I am not going to focus on Facebook Business Manager. However, if you have or plan to have multiple pages and/or run Facebook advertising campaigns, I recommend using Facebook Business Manager. The page elements and strategies are the same, but it is easier to switch between pages and to NOT accidentally post as your page when you want to post as yourself and vice versa. Don’t worry if you do not know if you will advertise or have multiple pages as you can always switch to Business Manager in the future.
Whether you are creating a new page or editing your current one, here are some tips for the overview section. I am going to use a side project podcast (which I’ll create as an “Entertainment” page) for this example:
Use the common name for your organization. It does not need to be your legal name (leave off the LLC, Inc., etc, unless you are identified that way). Think about how your page should come up when someone tags it on Facebook. I suggest not having something too long or descriptive.
Use Page Tips
Page Tips will provide suggestions for the basic elements you need to fill out to complete your page. Of course, there will be some marketing messages from Facebook about expanding your reach through advertising, writing effective posts and inviting friends to like your page. Follow those at your own discretion.
You get 155 characters to say what your page is about.
Add Your Website
Here is where you can link to your website or a specific page on your website.
Help People Take Action | Create Button
There are several options for types of buttons to use for your primary Call-to-Action (CTA). You will decide which button to use based on what type of page you have created or your marketing and sales goals via Facebook. Here are the preset button options:
Book Services – use if you want people to book an appointment, book travel or start a food order.
Get in Touch – do you want people to reach out for more info? You can choose between the following “Get in Touch” options:
- Call Now
- Contact Us (drive people to your contact us form)
- Send Message (via Facebook Message)
- Sign Up (typically for an email subscription or the like)
- Send Email
Learn More – link to a video on your website or Facebook, or take them to another page to learn more
Make a Purchase or Donation – drive sales or donations
Download App of Game
Note that there are several third-party apps you can connect to your button on Facebook. Evaluate and use at your own discretion.
Know Friends Who Might Like Your Page? | Invite Friends
Want to kickstart your page fandom? You can invite your friends to like your page…just be careful to not spam them. For example, if your page is for a local Portland business, only invite your friends that live in the Portland, Oregon Area. Once you click on the “See All Friends” button, you will have several options to manage whom you invite.
I’m just going to highlight the top settings you need to focus on. Ideally, you will go through every setting and update/customize it for your business page. Some of them are obvious and just leave them on the default setting (e.g. Page Visibility should be set to “Page Published” unless you don’t want anyone to see it yet).
Most of the “General” setting will go unchanged, but you have the ability to target specific audiences and restrict what people can do and/or see on your page.
Templates – by default your template will be set to “Standard,” depending on the type of business, you may want to change the template you use (Facebook may suggest specific templates based on the type of page).
Tabs – you can edit what Tabs to show and the order in which they are listed. There are additional Tabs that can be added and ordered as you like. Hide tabs that are irrelevant or do not have any content (e.g. hide the YouTube tab if you don’t have a YouTube channel). See more about each tab below.
You can control what Facebook notifies you about and how to receive those notifications. I suggest only receiving emails for important notifications and turning all Text Messages off.
Here is a bit more detail about the various tabs you can feature along the left side of your company page:
Edit your Category and Name if needed.
Create Page @username – note that you may need to have some page “Likes” before you can create a @username and it is very difficult to change a @username, so choose wisely. I suggest starting your user name with your primary company name. Think about how someone would begin to tag your company page in a post. For example, our company @username is currently @trueveracity. Not ideal. We chose this because our website URL used to be trueveracity.com (and @veracity was taken). We are trying to change our @username, but it is not easy.
Edit story – this is where you can provide a complete description of your business page. While Facebook does not provide a specific word or character limit for your story, it will be truncated with a “See More” button after about 400 characters (+/- 50 words).
Pretty straight forward
Add any “Other Accounts” you want to be connected to your page including:
Edit this section as needed
Picture & Cover Photo
Take the time to create and resize your picture (the square image that will appear on all of your posts) and cover photo (image at the top of your page) to fit Facebook’s specifications. The dimensions for your picture are 160 x 160 pixels with a square layout. For a company page, this should typically be your logo. Cover photos display at 820 x 312 pixels on computers and 640 x 360 on smartphones (image must be at least 399 x 150).
Also, you can either choose to pick an image that will last a long time, like a version of your logo, a headshot for an artist or public figure page, a team photo or something else that represents your company/page. Or, you can change your cover photo on a regular basis to reflect what your company is up to, some important announcements or the like.
Posts, Groups, Videos, Photos, Reviews, Likes
Once you start posting and sharing content (videos, photos, etc.) you can select what you want to feature on each of your tabs. You can also select if you want to show reviews and likes, and to feature and link any groups you are a part of to your page.
What should you share?
Now that you have your page updated and you’ve invited some friends to like it, what do you do? You need to “Write something…!”, share a post as Facebook calls it.
There are four main items that can be shared from a company page; text, photos, videos, or links. All can be combined into one post too.
What to share: these are your thoughts, articles or blog posts that your target audience is interested in. The best sources are your company and industry content, such as:
- Content you create (blog posts, white papers, how-to guides, etc.),
- Media hits or other content the company &/or employees are mentioned in,
- Stuff your employees publish,
- Content from partners (channel partners, vendors, nonprofits you support, etc.).
(remember to @ tag people and companies)
Sharing photos, videos and updates are also good ways to keep your page content fresh and interesting. Videos tend to have good engagement and you can even share live video content (plus re-share it later), numbered lists get shared a lot and posts with a link typically perform better. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of blog posts about what makes good Facebook content. Here are a few to read, try searching for specific tips within your industry or page category for more targeted articles (e.g. Facebook business page tips for accountants):
Scheduling posts: Facebook has a good interface for drafting, scheduling and even backdating posts. However, if you are going to post the same (or similar) content on more than one social network, or are looking to be more efficient, you may want to use a third party tool/app like Buffer, Hootsuite or CoSchedule.
When to post: The first step is to look at your Facebook Insights and see when your audience is active. Then test out various posting times and types and see what has the best engagement with likes, comments and shares. A mistake we often see is to “only” post on weekdays on Facebook. We have found that most audiences are still active on Saturdays and Sundays on Facebook.
Page notifications: Another tab on the settings page is to manage your notifications. There are currently ten different notification settings you can turn on or off. You can also select how you receive the notifications you have turned on, via Facebook message, email and/or text. If you choose to be notified by email, be aware of what email address you have set up to receive notifications. Users often have a personal (gmail, yahoo, etc.) email address for their personal Facebook page. This is fine, but if you don’t frequently check that email account, you may want to consider either changing your primary email or using Facebook Business Manager.
That about covers the basics for setting up and at least initially optimizing a Facebook company page. If you have specific questions please feel free to ask in the comments section (or on our Veracity Facebook company page).
If you are looking for advertising advice, check out How to Optimize Facebook Advertising in 7 Steps.
Every organization has different resources, stakeholders and marketing needs. Follow this systematic guide for building a blogging plan with staff, a board and volunteers.
In this example, we are using a nonfictional nonprofit, BB Camp, that I happen to serve on the board and lead the marketing committee for. The rules and principles will work for any organization; adjust for your specific organizational chart.
There are five main questions to answer when creating a blogging schedule for your organization:
- What are you going to write about?
- Who are you writing to?
- Who is doing the blogging?
- How frequently are you going to post?
- What is your system for being efficient?
What are you going to write about?
Start broad, then get into the specific categories, topics and plan each of the posts. Map it out like this:
Categories – in general, what are you going to post about? These posts could promote product lines or programs.
BB Camp’s categories include the various programs we manage (summer camp, retreat rentals, kids activities, free book programs, after-school youth activities), goals of the organization (developing youth leadership, enhancing Jewish life, fundraising) and the geographies the organization operates in (Portland and the Oregon Coast).
Core Topics – what are the various topics that should be explored? Each category will have several core topics.
Taking the summer camp category in our BB Camp example, core topics include things like:
- Getting ready for camp
- Camp activities
- First-time campers
- Long-time campers
- Day camp
- Overnight camp
Post Topics – time to brainstorm all the potential post topics your organization can write about.
Now we get into specific topic ideas, so post topics such as What to Pack for Camp, What to Expect Your First Time at Camp, Campers Favorite Foods, Top Camp Aquatic Activities, and The Ultimate Sleepaway Camp Packing List are a few examples of post topics.
*Don’t forget to plan the type of post it will be (short form, long form, lists, infographics, etc.)
Who are you writing to?
Who are your audiences? Do you have personas already created? I got into this a bit more in my 7 Elements of a Blog Post piece.
At BB Camp we have at least four specific audiences including campers, parents, donors and potential renters. Each audience is unique in who they are and what type of content they are looking for. How to balance whom to write for and when to publish is an important part of your plan. The personnel working closest with each audience can give you a better idea of what they will want to consume. Which leads us to…
Who is doing the blogging?
Is it just you? What about other internal members of the organization? External authors, board members, volunteers, guest authors? What about editing and drafting the posts on your blog? Is this the responsibility of the author or do you need to put another system in place?
Here is how I break it down for our sample organization:
Staff, board members, committee members and community volunteers contribute to the blog. They have access to a shared document that features the brainstormed blog topics. They also have access to a document that lists the various requirements (suggested and mandatory) for each post. This includes the suggested number of words for each post (a range from 500 – 1,500 is ideal), image(s) and link requirements and how to submit a completed post. All posts are delivered to the Marketing Manager and she is responsible for final review and posting.
How frequently are you going to post?
There’s no point in starting a blog if you aren’t going to consistently post. The frequency really depends on the plan and size of your organization. You can start slow to get the hang of it and ramp up from there. I think a great place to start is to expect each author to be able to write one post per X. The X depends on their role and how much time you can expect them to give you. Here are a few ideas for different types of authors:
Marketing & Sales Employees:
Once per month. Of course, some people don’t have writing skills, etc. but they have ideas and can contribute.
In many volunteer situations, you take what you can get, but I think if someone is willing to write one blog post for you, asking them to contribute quarterly isn’t a stretch, so if you do get someone to raise their hand, plan for a post every three months from an average volunteer.
Similar to volunteers, you typically take what you can get from board members, as they are often also volunteers. However, they have a passion for what you are doing, so coming up with one post a year shouldn’t be too much of a stretch. If you have 12 board members willing to contribute once per year, that’s a post every month!
Here is how I break it down for our sample organization:
||People in Dept
||Frequency per Person
||Posts per month
||Every other month
||3x per year
||2x per year
||Once every 3 years
|Total Posts Per Month
Our goal is to start with a post each week and based on our breakdown, we end up with more than 5 posts each month, right on target.
Marketing & Sales Employees – 2 posts per month. BB Camp has four staff people that are expected to write two posts (combined) every month.
Other Staff – 1.75 posts per month. Seven staff members develop and execute programming for BB Camp. As a group, they are expected to contribute one post per month (one post every six months per person). The Executive Director is also responsible for a post a quarter and the other eight staff members a post every other month combined.
Volunteers – 2 posts per month. We ask our 19 Board Members to generate a post every other month (six of the board members write one post each during the year), our Marketing Committee members to contribute six posts per year and Community Volunteers (other committee members and volunteers at-large) to submit one post each month.
What is your system for being efficient?
The last thing you want to do is recreate your process every time a post is penned. This is your chance to create a documented, repeatable process. The easiest way to create the process is to simply document all the steps you go through to create and promote your initial posts. You will inevitably forget a few things the first time you write it down, so know it is a living document.
At a minimum, your process should include guidelines for the following:
Post Title – what is the desired word or character count? We aim for one full line across for each post (two lines max) which is typically about 35-50 characters (7-10 words).
Subtitle/sub-headline – is a subhead required? Do you use the H2 tag for it?
Image requirements – you should require at least one image per post. What are the size and layout requirements?
Featured image – does your blog specify a featured image?
Dimensions – what is the ideal (and consistent) size for your images? Do you have an archive to choose images from or other sources (free or paid) for images that you can use (don’t forget about image rights requirements)?
Compression – the smaller the file size the better. Check out TinyJPG for simple compression of jpg and png files.
Links – good blog posts have links to other relevant content (e.g. our Key Elements to a Blog Post), also try and link to something on your own site (as a referenced supporting article) to guide readers to your other content and potentially create an external link if your post is shared on other sites. We have a policy that external links open in a new tab.
Social share schedule & requirements – each blog post should be shared via appropriate social channels upon publication. The author can be required to submit blog posts with several sample posts for social sharing.
Once you address these five core questions, creating a blog schedule won’t seem as daunting. Approach each element and know that you don’t have to get it perfectly right the first time, every process should evolve over time anyway.
I recently was helping a client get their LinkedIn company page optimized (well really just set up as they had a page for a while, but they didn’t create it or manage it) and thought, this isn’t an uncommon problem…and I need to write a blog post (plus create curriculum for our upcoming Coaching Program).
We will assume that you have a page already, but if not, simply go to Interests>Companies and click on the yellow “Create” button. It is pretty intuitive from there, but if you have questions or run into problems, LinkedIn has answers.
Whether you are creating a new page or editing your current one, here are some tips for the overview section:
Use the common name for your organization. It does not need to be your legal name (leave off the LLC, Inc., etc, unless you are identified that way).
You have 2,000 characters here, but only the first two lines will show by default. So whether you decide to keep it short and sweet or use all of your allotted space, make sure the first sentence or two conveys who you are, before visitors have to click “See more ∨”
Image & Company Logo
Take the time to create and resize your company image and logo to fit LinkedIn’s specifications. 646 x 220 pixels or larger with that same aspect ratio for the page image. 300 x 300 pixel minimum, with a square layout, for the logo.
LinkedIn cover photo dimensions should be at least 646 x 220 pixels
Also, you can either choose to pick an image that will last a long time, like a version of your logo, a team photo or something else that represents your company. Or, you can change your cover photo on a regular basis to reflect what your company is up to, some important announcements or the like.
List up to 20 specialties of your organization. These are “keywords” that you want your page to show up for when someone is looking for a product or service on LinkedIn.
Be intentional about the terms you use for your company specialties.
List up to three groups that you want your company to be associated with. Industry trade groups, nonprofit/service organizations and/or topical discussion groups are best.
What should you publish?
Now that you have your page updated with a great cover image and description, what do you do? You need to share some posts (or updates as LinkedIn calls them). There are three main items that can be shared from a company page; an article, photo, or update.
Sharing articles: these are articles or blog posts that your target audience is interested in. The best sources are your company and industry content, such as:
- Content you create (blog posts, white papers, how-to guides, etc.),
- Media hits or other content the company &/or employees are mentioned in,
- Stuff your employees publish,
- Content from partners (channel partners, vendors, nonprofits you support, etc.).
(you can now @ tag people and companies on Company Page updates)
Sharing photos, videos and updates are also good ways to keep your page content fresh and interesting. Videos are really gaining traction on LinkedIn (like they are on every social network), numbered lists get shared a lot and posts with a link typically perform better. Check out 12 Data-Backed Tips About the LinkedIn Company Page for more:
Scheduling posts: You can’t schedule posts directly on LinkedIn like you can on Facebook, so you may want to use a third party tool/app like Buffer, Hootsuite or CoSchedule.
When to post: The simple answer is to test out various posting times and see when is best for your company (meaning engagement with likes, comments and shares). Typically, weekdays during work hours are ideal on LinkedIn (not as much evening and weekend use as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).
Page notifications: If you are worried about missing comments or questions on your page, don’t fret, but know that there is not a way to get push (email or app) notifications specifically for page updates. There is a good notification center you can access as an administrator of your page. Also be aware of what email address you have set up to receive notifications. Users often use a personal (gmail, yahoo, etc.) email address for their personal LinkedIn page. This is fine, but if you don’t frequently check that email account, you may want to change or add an email to get notices for your page at an account you do monitor consistently (like your company email).
Of course there is a lot more to a LinkedIn marketing strategy beyond getting your page created or claimed, filled out and haphazardly sharing content…but that’s another post or curriculum for that Coaching Program I mentioned.
Rather listen to our podcast on Ed Cals?
With 2017 right around the corner, there couldn’t be a better time to address editorial calendars. Not the kind that map out what an organization will cover within its own blog and social media. Rather, the old school “Ed Cals” as we like to call them, which were most likely the first type of editorial calendar ever created.
The majority of magazines, trade journals, larger newspapers and many websites utilize editorial calendars to plan the topics they’ll cover within the year. They represent a window into future news, thus offering PR pros a hint into how they can garner coverage. With careful planning and the right pitch, some might consider future PR coverage a sure thing when armed with abundant editorial calendars.
Let’s examine what Ed Cals are, how to get your hands on them and how to make them work for you.
What are Ed Cals?
Editorial calendars are a roadmap of stories that help keep the editorial teams organized. But their main function is to help the advertising department sell ads. Pairing advertisements with related editorial content creates a more seamless sales pitch. For example, if a restaurant is told that all of their competitors will be advertising within the Top Restaurants special section, it’s harder to say no. Of course that restaurant will pine after appearing next to their competitors with their own ad.
Where can you find Ed Cals?
Since editorial calendars are so strongly utilized by advertising departments, they are typically found in each outlet’s online advertising page. Within the advertising page, the Ed Cals are often hidden within the outlet’s Media Kit — an extensive document detailing everything you could possibly ever want to know about a certain outlet, including circulation numbers, demographic information and hopefully its editorial calendar. The Media Kit’s main purpose is to drum up advertising customers.
You don’t want to buy an ad?!?
I don’t blame you with access to this golden nugget! Everyone gets that PR pros don’t want to buy an ad, but media outlets make it hard on us by hiding one of our most valuable resources in their advertising collateral. If you can’t find the Ed Cal online, simply ask the advertising contact for it. While this shouldn’t come with strings attached, prepare yourself for an advertising pitch. There’s no harm in listening, just don’t take up too much of their time. You never know what future help this advertising contact may extend, but don’t make any promises you can’t keep. You’re free to hint that you’re sorting out your budget or that you’ll pass along their info to your advertising manager.
How do you organize the Ed Cals?
Upon culling through each Ed Cal and flagging the appropriate topics, take steps to organize the mountain of information that could result. I am in love with Excel, so I input all of the opportunities into a sheet for each client. Other groups may want to use collaborative tools such as Sharepoint, Google Calendar/Sheets, or Trello.
For Veracity’s purposes, all the information about each opportunity would go into Excel, including the following:
- Media Outlet
- Coverage Topic & Details
- Deadline (you’ll have to pad the advertising deadline appropriately for editorial, we’ll get into this below)
- Issue Date (when the topic you’re pitching will run)
- Contact Name & Info (If this isn’t in the Ed Cal, leave this part blank and come back to it upon commencing more research)
- Status Report (what’s happening with each pitch, we’ll get into this below)
When do you send Ed Cal inquiries?
Sorry, your work is far from over yet. The most important part — inputting your pitch deadlines into your personal work calendar — still needs to happen. Along with inputting the deadlines into Excel, we set reminders through Google Calendar. Use whatever tool you wish for this, just don’t miss the deadline! If you are a procrastinator like me, give yourself plenty of lead time, but don’t make your deadlines so irrelevant that you ignore them completely (not proud to say that I am speaking from experience here).
While the tried and true PR professional will get to know their press targets, here is a rough outline of when to send pitches. Some trial and error will help you refine this timeline to match your press friends’ exact needs.
- National monthly magazines, like Real Simple and Martha Stewart Living: Pitch 6 – 5 months ahead.
- Trades & Verticals: Pitch 3 – 2 months ahead.
- Regional monthly magazines, like Portland Monthly: Pitch 3 – 2 months ahead.
- Weeklies: Pitch 6 – 3 weeks ahead for a special section.
- “Short lead” publications, like daily newspapers: Pitch 6 – 3 weeks ahead (even though it’s a daily, you’re erring on the side of caution for a special section).
What do you pitch?
If you’ve been working in the same industry for a time, you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t. You can also gauge what you need to pitch by reading all the info about the topic listed in the Ed Cal. But here are 3 types of pitches to send with Ed Cal inquiries:
- Offer up insight: For our methylsulfonylmethane manufacturer, Bergstrom Nutrition, we simply send a pitch asking if the press would like any insight from the company’s executives on a particular article that might fit. We then include any compelling information, like a new study or science that might align with the topic to pique their interest.
- Offer to write the article: We might ask if they’d like an article written by our client that matches the topic. We then include any qualifying information as to why our source would be considered an expert on that particular topic, along with links to past writing samples if possible. This is mainly for trades and verticals.
- Send a press release or blog post: If you happen to have a press release or blog post ready on the topic, you might as well send that along with a pitch mentioning that some or all of the information could be used in the article they’re planning. Drop a hint that you might create something special just for them.
After the pitch?
Be sure to record everything you’ve done (emails sent, messages left) and all of the communications back from press in your “status” section of the Excel. This includes any insight that might help your future pitches. No’s are just future yes’s in disguise if you pay attention to any reasoning or redirection from the press.
If we haven’t heard back from a contact, we’ll typically follow up just one more time depending on how hard up we are for news. If we’ve been getting a lot of news lately around this particular topic we may give it a rest. However, if our research is telling us that our news should most definitely be included, we’ll dig a little deeper, either by confirming that we’ve got the right contact or readjusting our pitch, if necessary.
The 2017 editorial calendars should be out already, so get a jump on your yearly planning while everyone else is busy with the holidays. Ed Cals can serve as a starting point from which the rest of your content plan emerges. Not only will you have some timely, newsworthy topics deemed valuable by the press, you could possibly reach beyond your current audience if the press picks up any of your materials. Remember that anything you send to the press can be converted into a different type of content. Media pitches can be transformed into social posts, press releases can be revised into blog posts and white papers can be converted into op-eds. So what are you waiting for?
Whether we admit it or not, we all want to be recognized for the work we do. Be it a casual “atta-boy” from your boss, encouragement from a friend, or even simply the sign of general interest from a new acquaintance, recognition feels good. In one form or another, organizations, too, seek accreditation because it keeps them moving forward.
In what I call “The Commenter Era,” everybody’s a critic. We review everything — the movie you just saw in theaters to the vegan taco truck down the street — the list doesn’t end. There’s no denying the power of the mobile influencer and businesses are right to appease them. I’ll argue, though, that efforts are perhaps better spent locking down third-party accreditation from other professional entities. Winning an award can be the most successful way to do this.
Here’s a brief walk-through of the process of winning an award for your organization and how to ensure you get some coverage for your hard work. Maybe soon, your website’s front page will look like this:
The front page of our client, Logical Position, a digital marketing agency.
Step 1A: Do good work…
This should go without saying, but in order for your organization or an executive within your organization to win an award, you need to actually be doing award-worthy work. Having said this, the work you’re doing should not be motivated by an award you want to win — let the award be the reward for the brilliant work your organization already considers standard practice.
Step 1B: Choose wisely.
Being nominated for a prestigious award sounds great, but in most cases it doesn’t work like that — more often than not, your organization will have to submit your work to a particular competition (I will get to this process). It seems that there are awards for nearly every business category, given by every type of organization imaginable. This means that some awards would be more work to acquire than they’re worth. For instance, I’m not sure we at Veracity would benefit too much from being named “Best Public Relations Agency in the World” by my Dad’s blog — although he may think so! Moral of the story, put your time into throwing your hat in the ring for an award that is both attainable and helpful to your organization.
Step 2: Writing the entry form.
Honesty time: if your submission isn’t written the right way, you can just ignore the following steps. Here is where the real art of the PR agency comes into play. In public relations, we take an outsiders’ perspective to create a narrative for the work of your organization, that you might not have even known was there. We then tell that story to the most fitting audience using the most fitting language. Crafting and adhering to the right messaging goes a long way. Here is where the PR professional will have a field day. Make sure that you follow ALL of the directions on the entry form. If it asks for the answers in less than 500 words, don’t submit 700 words and hope they don’t care — details like this are important! Complete the entire entry and make sure it’s submitted on-time.
Step 3: Win.
Assuming you have performed Step 2 correctly, there is not much more you can do now but sit it out, twiddle your thumbs, keep cranking out that award-worthy work and wait to hear from the powers that be. That is unless there is a voting or social media portion of the winning criteria. In this case, call on your network to help you win.
Step 4: Flaunt your prize!
It’s time to leverage the culmination of your hard work via your owned channels: your website, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages. You can promote your award the same way you would any good press hit, considering your internal, external, partner and paid opportunities. This is also a great time to play good-sport — send shout outs on your social channels to the institution that gave you the award, as well as any other winners or nominees. If the award is one that you wanted, that means other people did too. On this note, make sure your internal team is flaunting the win as well!
Step 5: Earn some media play.
Local outlets want to celebrate their community’s organizations, and you’ve just given them all a great opportunity. If a specific person at your company has won the award, submit it to the Business Journal’s People on the Move section, which has a category for professional recognition. Next, draw up a press release that details the award you won, and more importantly, the project or campaign you won it for — getting traction that celebrates your work in the press is really the target in mind. Building up an invested cadre of outlets that will cover your organization and your story will do wonders in the long-run as you grow and continue to produce award-worthy work.
The process of winning an award can be long and daunting, but the returns and connections as a result will make waves. We all seek accreditation in some form or another. Public relations can help you get recognition for that recognition, all in an attempt to drive your organization forward.