Part 1 of our 2 part series of video secrets from the pros
Having just one video about your business or organization isn’t enough any more. Now you need a series.
At our next Speakeasy event, hear from the team at Beyond Measure Media. Jay and Michele
Carter are award-winning video producers that specialize in telling documentary-style “stories from the heart” for businesses and nonprofits.
Drawing from years of experience in front of and behind the camera, they share:
- The types of videos every organization needs right now, and why.
- The most common mistakes businesses make when creating their first video(s), and how to avoid them.
- How to turn a mundane video interview into a magic moment that viewers won’t forget.
- The one production element that is even more important than video quality.
- Creative ways to boost your organization’s video output, including how to turn your entire roster of employees into lean, mean, powerful video production and idea machines.
All across the web and social media, your future customers and raving fans are out there — waiting to see, hear and connect with your brand and your mission. A series of clear, carefully crafted videos is the most powerful way to tell your story, build loyalty and grow your tribe.
Join us October 5th for Part 2 of Pro Secrets for Making Powerful Videos.
About Beyond Measure Media & Michele Kim Carter and Jay Carter
Michele Kim Carter has worked on documentary films, most recently co-directing Southern Fried Fencing, now available on Amazon. She was local producer for Beer Is Cheaper Than Therapy, which was broadcast on TV networks around the world. She produced TV newscasts in Texas, and won the Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in broadcast storytelling.
Jay Carter is a former Texas TV news anchor and reporter, with numerous awards from the Associated Press and the Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in broadcast storytelling. He has worked as a radio news anchor and voiceover talent. He also co-directed the feature-length documentary Southern Fried Fencing with Michele.
At Beyond Measure Media, Jay shoots and edits video, and helps craft the overall tone and narrative flow of video productions. Michele produces, handles logistics, conducts interviews and helps clients tell stories that resonate.
(originally drafted 7/19/16)
As I watched the furor over Melania Trump’s plagiarized speech Tuesday, I found myself pondering how I’d respond as a communication professional, were I employed by the Trump campaign.
It’s a complicated scenario to imagine because there’s a thoughtful crisis communication-oriented response, and there’s an opportunistic publicity-oriented response. Both responses serve a valuable communication purpose pending context, but I feel they often offer diverging paths for a communication practitioner to follow, and I’ll argue below that one response may be considered less ethical in this situation.
This path recognizes that allegations of plagiarism represent a serious threat to the integrity of the accused, and the ensuing strategy seeks to minimize reputational damage and restore trust. A proper response may be to issue a statement acknowledging the misstep and earnestly suggest that the internal communication team is examining the process that may have enabled such a gross error. It would acknowledge the wrongdoing and graciously applaud Michelle Obama’s thoughtful, shared vision of family and work ethic. The media attention may continue to be harsh for awhile, and additional steps may be required, but the act would also maintain the presumed credibility of the Trump campaign.
While this may be the tactic to restore trust with the media, and other intellectual stakeholders, it’s apparent that Trump’s most important stakeholders are the people that will vote for him. His communication team must also recognize that these stakeholders will perceive plagiarism as a lesser offense than capitulating to a mistake, and may punish any attempt to mention an Obama in a positive light.
It’s also possible that Trump’s communication team perceived this misstep as another opportunity to generate free publicity from the media. We know this is one of Trump’s go-to communication strategies because a story from The New York Times earlier this year highlighted how he was able to outpace his competitors by generating over $2 billion worth of free media coverage during his party’s presidential primary.
The statement contradicts an interview where Melania told Today host Matt Lauer that she wrote most of the speech herself. Does this indiscretion even register among Trump’s key supporters? Probably not. The statement also does nothing to address Melania’s serious ethical failing – so it doesn’t represent a crisis communication response. It does manifest many more questions, representing a publicity-oriented response – and the media was busy. In a bizarre Orwellian twist, the Trump campaign chairman stated that the calls of plagiarism are the fault of Hillary Clinton. Chris Christie chimed in to point out 93% of the speech WASN’T plagiarized. Most everyone in the country sighed with exasperation from the absurdity of it all.
Is the campaign’s communication strategy ethical?
After observing the Trump campaign for nearly a year, it’s become apparent that negative media coverage does nothing to damage the Trump brand among its ardent supporters, and if anything, serves a purpose – to keep the media regurgitating the Trump brand name and messaging.
The initial publicity-focused communication response from the Trump campaign team represents either an unethical or an irresponsible tactic from the perspective of this communication professional. In my view, their campaign actively prioritizes controversy to generate more news coverage, versus prioritizing the act of telling the truth or offering anything of substance. This strategy has clearly created a dangerous and hyperbolic precedent. History has demonstrated that using crazy language and manipulating the media in such a manner leads to extreme consequences as time wears on. Americans should make themselves familiar with the notion that these campaign communications are strategically manipulative, versus dismissing the outrageousness of it all at face value.
My instinct is to consider the accusation of plagiarism as a crisis communication threat and to address it accordingly. However, Trump’s reinforced brand image is that of hyperbole, puffery and gross exaggeration. Therefore, this misstep doesn’t threaten his brand at all, and if anything, is a shot in the arm to his publicity efforts.
* * *
Earlier Wednesday Trump’s team released a statement throwing his official biographer under the bus, and to my surprise, praising Michelle Obama in the process. Rather than the initial publicity-generating statement from Tuesday, Wednesday’s communication represents a crisis-communication response. Essentially versus choosing one of two paths, as I suggest, team Trump chose both. This may be part of their strategy, or it may suggest that they don’t have an effective communication plan for their campaign and were trying to patch over earlier mistakes.
If you want to be quoted, say something colorful.
(Reposted from The Guardian – January 13, 2016)
The Oregon militia’s bizarre PR tactics – from dildos to Facebook videos
Militiamen have attracted media coverage while occupying the Malheur wildlife refuge, but their disjointed social media messages have ‘created a big mess’
by Sam Levin
The armed militiamen occupying a wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon have increasingly turned to a different weapon in their fight: social media.
Militia leader Ammon Bundy and his rightwing followers, who have been stationed at the headquarters of the Malheur national wildlife refuge since 2 January, have used Facebook, YouTube and live-stream videos to get their message out directly to the public and to call on anti-government activists to support their cause.
In the process, they’ve attracted significant media coverage from across the globe while also holding daily press briefings at the entrance to the refuge that draw huge crowds of hungry reporters each morning.
But their public relations strategy has repeatedly suffered from bizarre self-aggrandizing videos that rogue militiamen continue to post to their followers. The steady feed of rambling selfie videos have prompted widespread mockery and scorn and in some cases have clearly further distracted from the plight of Harney County ranchers whom the militia claim to be backing.
Most recently, militiaman Jon Ritzheimer, the prominent anti-Islam activist from Arizona, posted a Facebook video of himself opening hate mail sent to the refuge, including a box filled with dildos. “It’s really ridiculous. This one was really funny – a bag of dicks,” he said in the video before angrily shoving a bunch of packages off the table. “They just spend all their money on hate, hate, hate, hate!” he shouted.
And on Tuesday, Oregon Public Broadcasting uncovered a video from an occupier named David Fry from Ohio, who filmed himself using government computers at the compound to create an “Oregon standoff” website.
The videos are the latest in a series of social media messages from numerous members of the Bundy bunch – footage that often captures long-winded and sometimes incoherent speeches that, at the very least, draw further support within rightwing online communities. They may have learned some lessons about how to garner consistent national news coverage from the standoff with the federal government in 2014, which was led by Ammon’s father, Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher.
But marketing and communications experts in Oregon who have closely followed the standoff, which has caused a major backlash in the nearby town of Burns, said the militia’s PR tactics were disjointed and chaotic and were only breeding further resentment from the people they purport to be helping.
“If they are trying to get America to pay attention to the grievances they have with federal laws, they are losing that battle,” said Mike Phillips, a public relations specialist with Portland firm AM:PM. “They do not have an effective spokesperson. Having so many people involved and so many people creating their own messaging on their own platforms … they’ve just created a big mess.”
Phillips pointed to Ritzheimer’s video as a clear example of how the militiamen were doing a poor job of drawing attention to complaints about the overreach of the federal government.
“He should not be a spokesperson,” Phillips said. “He’s created a huge distraction … and opened up an avenue for the media to pay attention to that. He’s also opened the door to receive more bags of dicks. It’s just kind of a cluster of craziness.”
At the very least, the use of social media has ramped up support within various conservative militia organizations and so-called “patriot” groups, which may be why more activists continue to flock to the occupation from across the country.
“There’s a significant amount of people in this movement using technologies to communicate with one another. It’s effective for that very small proportion of people,” Phillips said. “It’s probably a good technique to reach out to their core audience.”
The militia’s latest PR move was to announce a meeting in town on Friday, which will be the first time the militiamen leave the compound and formally meet with Burns residents. Given the huge pushback against the occupation from Harney County officials, the meeting is likely to further escalate tensions and draw more media attention to the questionable tactics of the militia.
“If they were going to do this over again, they probably would’ve been better served by building more of a coalition on the ground,” said Ward Hubbell, another public relations specialist based in Portland. “They didn’t really get permission from any stakeholders there to represent their interests.”
Student Portfolio Reviews Reveal Successful Tools & Tactics
For several years I’ve volunteered to review hardcopy portfolios from graduating University of Oregon public relations students. As part of the U of O program, each student presents their portfolio to a panel of three PR/marketing/communication professionals who rate their demeanor, presentation skills and mastery of career-related projects and assignments.
This experience, in addition to reviewing the daily emails and resumes sent to AM:PM PR by new hire hopefuls, has given me a good idea as to what makes a job candidate stand out. I’ve come to appreciate the value of a portfolio – it may be the best and most underused tool by jobseekers. While not always necessary, a portfolio can bolster the information found on a resume by demonstrating an expanded understanding of communication challenges and solutions.
Your portfolio should be easy to follow and easy to share. For the in-person interview, bring a hardcopy, or a tablet to walk through your work with a little digital pizzazz. Either way, make sure you bring extra printed copies of your best work to leave behind with your interviewer, who may want to share it with other decision makers.
Assembling the Standout Portfolio
Great portfolios for PR job candidates include:
- an up-to-date resume with skills and experience highlighting abilities related the the job you are interviewing for.
- a compilation of writing samples, i.e. pitch emails, press releases, blog posts and college assignments.
- before/after analytical data, such as website or social platform analytics from projects that you worked on.
- graphic, presentation or information design assignments. If you’re using printed pieces within a hardcopy portfolio, make sure you use high quality images. Pixelated images give the impression you don’t really understand the tools or you won’t go the extra mile on the job.
- materials or case studies from previous work or school experience that demonstrate strategy and results or challenges and solutions.
Leave a lasting impression
If time allows, offer to walk through your portfolio during the interview. Explain each item you’ve included as a case study – the assignment, how you thought through it, how it was executed and what the results were. The students who stood out most in the portfolio reviews I’ve experienced identified PR-related challenges and demonstrated their solutions and results.
Create a professional portfolio website. Think of it as your own personal branding tool. An attractive website demonstrates you value good design. Share links to your successes i.e. social sites, earned media, guest posts. Draft engaging and relevant blog posts. It doesn’t hurt to write fan posts about professionals you admire either. Like this interview with our very own Pat McComick.
Think about how you appear everywhere online. Include as much as possible on your LinkedIn profile and any other digital platform you use professionally, including your personal website. At 33-years-old, and only 7 years removed from a fledgling rock’n’roll career, I’m not a curmudgeon, per se – but even I recognize the importance of a clean social media profile. Consider the professional reputation you are building and what potential employers could take away from the messages you type or the information you share. You don’t have to stop having fun, but you do need to demonstrate you understand privacy settings.
Now, go get ‘em.
For the past six months I’ve been using NUVI – a real-time social media-monitoring tool – to track mentions and conversations about a crisis communication-related topic. NUVI allows me to view and track fresh blogs, Facebook posts, tweets and even comments posted on media websites.
Totally NSA, I know.
Here’s the thing. I’m also observing cadres of mouth-breathing trolls who spend their entire days professing their, supposedly, informed interpretation of issues. While I support enthusiasm for expressing opinions, the tragic reality is that most are basing their opinions on incorrect information and false rumors. A little research, say simply reading the article they’re posting a comment beneath or having a basic understanding of the judicial process, would abate their sharpest criticisms. Unfortunately, these people live in a universe unbound by reasoned thought and discourse. That universe is the comment section of online media.
If you’ve read the comment section of any online news story you’ve likely seen the mutterings of these befuddled dunderheads – or others who intentionally propagate false information for whatever distorted aims they have.
Sit back and ponder the negative consequences of these ‘communities.’ You’ll soon find yourself outraged that media sites are, seemingly, pandering to the bullies in the sandbox. To what end? Increased web traffic? Beefy analytics reports? Is there research showing that trolls are more likely to buy subscriptions or purchase products promoted by online advertisements?
I don’t think all web visitors are worth the same value to a marketer, and I’m gonna sound like a blowhard here – but I believe comment sections are bad for society and likely drive ineffective data for marketers. A direct result is that toxic misinformation and uneducated conjecture is spread like a communicable disease to ends of the earth. I have seen it with my own eyes, and it isn’t pretty.
Now, I am not arguing for the abolishment of the comment section. There are some threads where interesting, smart, thoughtful people chime in and contribute to an article. Unfortunately, these instances are far too rare.
What I want is for news organizations to take a stand against enabling the overflow of idiocy cascading from comment sections like the frothy foam forming from the mouths of their most racist and bigoted supporters. These sites have nothing to lose, but our society has a lot to gain.
U of O senior and Allen Hall PR Account Supervisor, Kati VanLoo, interviewed Pat McCormick for her blog – PR Parfait. We’re reposting and giving Kati two thumbs up.
By Kati VanLoo
Published March 11, 2015
I was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview AM:PM PR Partner Pat McCormick. A communication pro with over 40 years of experience in issue management, Pat knows the ins and outs of the public relations industry. Now he spends his days at the Portland agency with his daughter Allison McCormick and other team members navigating the PR needs of their clients. Here’s some insight he provided on the industry and advice for those of us just venturing out into the job market.
How did AM:PM PR come to be?
My daughter Allison worked for me at a PR agency in Salem for fifteen of the twenty years that I was there. In the final five years she was there, she helped with more consumer-facing PR. The young professionals were really having an impact on how everybody was communicating. It made it really clear how difficult the evolution is in our business. It personally excited me to be working at a time when there was so much change going on. When I could have retired, I talked to Allison about starting this business to continue to be a part of what’s changing.
How are young PR professionals impacting the industry?
Young professionals come into the workplace now with a sense of the currency of what’s going on. There’s a type of reverse coaching that comes from young professionals today because there are ways they grew up communicating that are different from the way older practitioners communicate. This generation also comes into the workplace in a little bit of a different fashion than, say, the Baby Boomer generation. That generation’s young professionals came into the workplace with the notion of “keep your head down; keep quiet.” Young professionals will come in today thinking, “I can contribute today.” It’s energizing in the workplace.
How important are ethics in PR?
I think an important element of PR is adhering to the ethical standards of our business. We want to have credibility, and we want reporters to trust us. The longer you’re in the business, the more you value those standards to not only help guide what you do but also decide what lines those you’re working with may be crossing. Also, we are often called in to help organizational leadership identify how their decisions could impact significant stakeholders of their company. That means sometimes you’re telling a CEO something he doesn’t want to hear, but in order to live up to the standards of our business we have to do that to our best ability. If that means that we have to fire that client when they want to continue making unethical decisions, then we fire that client. There are no long-term benefits to crossing those lines.
What is one challenge you think many PR pros face?
Part of what I think is often overlooked as a significant component to what we do is listening. We have to listen in order to fully understand what they are asking; they may not know enough to know exactly what to ask for. So, we have to listen and help them figure out what it is that they need. It’s really easy to just jump to, “Oh, why don’t you just do that,” without truly understanding what their needs are. Don’t jump too quickly to a solution without fully understanding the problem.
What advice do you have for PR pros in training?
Building a network can’t start too soon. The best available tool right now is LinkedIn. Be hungry for every contact that you make to be a connection on LinkedIn. Include the people you are going to school with; there will be times later on when those connections will give you the opportunity to speak with someone through them. Capitalize on those connections.
What are you looking for in new hires who have just graduated?
Something we look for, which I always credit Kelli Matthews for being the one who helped make possible [at the University of Oregon], is a student who understands the digital platforms. Do they have an online portfolio, a blog, a Twitter feed? What do they like to post, and how active are they? I just like to know they have familiarity with those types of platforms.
Also, we look for the ability to write. Along with being able to write well, journalistic-ally speaking, it’s important to see if the person can identify what’s important and can be clear, concise, and to the point.
Today’s customer service extends far beyond just the one-to-one relationship businesses have with their customers.
20+ years ago when I was being trained for a retail job at the mall (Sock Wear Consultant at Boston Socks) we were warned that happy customers will tell three friends but angry customers will tell dozens. Now angry customers can tell hundreds or thousands with a few key strokes. When combined with entertaining or aggravating images, videos or recordings, those complaints can go viral because they resonate with a common experience.
We experienced our own frustrations with Comcast when we opened our first AM:PM PR office in 2010. We couldn’t get anyone to talk with us at Comcast until we posted about our experience on Twitter. We got a call the same day and our issue was resolved by the following week.
Comcast appeared to handle this recent public customer service embarrassment well by:
- Taking responsibility;
- Apologizing; and
- Taking steps to get it fixed.
Time will tell how far Comcast will go to actually fix the problem. Pay policies at Comcast are coming to light that show the incensed employee on the recording is likely one of many and a symptom of a much larger customer service issue at Comcast. No one is surprised.
Comcast’s teachable moment demonstrates that brand damage can be substantial from one small incident involving a single employee in a large organization. Every customer interaction is an opportunity and a vulnerability. Customers want attention, honesty and efficiency. As long as you abide by those guiding principles, your reputation is protected.
Comcast and every business with customer service should assume every customer has thousands of social media connections and any interaction is being recorded. Today’s customers have the power and are enacting change – even in monolithic organizations. I like this trend. I know I’m inspired to hit “record” more often. I wish I thought to when going back and forth with a relentless car salesman last week…
After a cringe-worthy customer service call with Comcast went viral on the interwebs, KGW-TV asked AM:PM PR to talk about what it could mean for all businesses with customer service. AM:PM co-founder Allison McCormick spoke with Channel 8’s Joe Smith about the power of today’s customers and how businesses should be thinking about every customer touchpoint.
Have a strategy and offer content with value to your audience
If you have a business or a brand, you must have a strong online presence. Public relations agencies are no different. Every business wants to stand out and show up on the first page of searches.
Businesses and brands face ever increasing competition to be noticed. With more than 1 billion active websites, consistent attention to Search engine optimization, or SEO, is key to raising visibility.
SEO is the process of affecting the rank of a website in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid search results. The earlier and more frequently a site appears in search results list, the more visitors it will receive.
Basically, SEO encourages keyword use to increase traffic based on what people search for. However, there is a drawback. Focusing on keywords can stifle creativity.
At AM:PM PR, we write about what we’d want to read. We want what we write to be interesting, authentic, and worth our reader’s time. It’s always a bonus if we write something others find worth sharing.
It’s a complicated balancing act. How do you safely walk the tightrope between entertaining readers and attracting potential new clients with strategic keywords planted throughout the copy?
- Be Subtle – While keywords are important to search, don’t litter your posts with them. In this post all focus keywords are in bold. Words and phrases like “public relations,” “search engine optimization,” and “SEO Tips” are all terms that could bring people to our site.
- Be Creative – Sensibility with keywords can attract visitors, but creative, useful content is what keeps them coming back. Try writing your post first without worrying about keywords and then add them where they make sense. While headlines should contain focus keywords, you also need to grab attention with them.
- Be Mindful – Think like the reader you want to have. What do you want your audiences to think about you? What do you want to portray? Being mindful of how copy, relevant content, and keywords work together will help attract visitors and keep them coming back.
- Be Visual – Google likes images. Adding images and properly naming, sizing and tagged them will help your rank and make your content more attractive and memorable.
Paying more attention to SEO does take time, but it’s part of today’s cost of doing business.