The Future Is Here: A Decade of Disruption | eNews from OWC

It’s been an exciting time to build a public relations firm. There are new rules, new tools and a breathtaking pace that requires nimbleness, entrepreneurial thinking and a willingness to stick your neck out. For me, the prize has been to work with savvy and exuberant people who question everything, demand innovation and bring creativity to work each day. Our clients’ businesses are changing dramatically, too. Some are industries, such as fintech and the sharing economy, that didn’t even exist ten years ago. Here are some changes that hit us all this past decade:

  • A decade ago, there was no Snapchat, Instagram or Pinterest. Today, they’re our best friends. We had MySpace and Facebook, but only 10% of American adults had at least one social media profile, compared to over 77% now. What started out as a fun way to connect with friends has spawned business-to-business marketing opportunities and turned traditional advertising upside down. Public relations has become as much of a conduit for targeting your audiences as advertising.
  • A growing skepticism in society has meant that third-party endorsements rule buying decisions. Yelp, LinkedIn, online product reviews and Glassdoor have given mid-size and small businesses an opportunity to compete for business, employees and awareness. What’s the first thing you do before purchasing? You check out the customer reviews and recommendations.
  • Public relations is expanding content development. The PESO model (paid, earned, shared and owned) refers to the different ways to communicate for successful awareness campaigns. PR firms can no longer snub their nose at the “P”’ aspect of the equation. Social media and the media’s move into social offers opportunities to target select audiences, improve a brand’s SEO and create credibility by providing insights directly to their audience without selling anything.
  • Video content is king. In today’s media landscape, the focus is on authenticity and instant, unfiltered action, and video is the perfect channel for mobile consumption. With video now accounting for more than 82% of internet traffic, PR pros and brands must embrace YouTube, Facebook Live, Instagram Stories and whatever pops up next to share their brand messages. These platforms make you the broadcaster and allow for direct and immediate communication with customers, prospects, employees, partners and the media.
  • Companies’ reputations, market share and revenue are in mortal peril as never before. Customers, investors, employees and communities respond to negative reputational news within hours today. As a result, reputation management and crisis communications are C-Suite issues.
  • Thought leaders are the new superstars and celebrities. That doesn’t mean anybody with an opinion is a thought leader. A thought leader is trustworthy, not salesy. Their goal is to educate and empower others with insider knowledge and new perspectives. They inspire discussion about the industry and how to change it for the better. Their value is that they make change happen.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) is here. With newsrooms across the country running on skeleton staffs, reporters are focusing on in-depth stories and letting technology take the reins on earnings announcements. With AI bots spitting out just numbers, the onus falls on communicators to bring context when we can. It’s crucial for PR and marketers to adapt and embrace the chance to tell client stories in a fresh, immersive and compelling way.
  • Creating strong personal relationships is more important than ever. Innovations in technology and social media may have redefined and molded the field of public relations over the past decade, but one truth remains the same: relationships are all that matters. Communicating values is as important as describing what you do. Bonds forged with reporters, employees, clients, prospects and communities are the most valuable assets.

This week Olmstead Williams Communications celebrates ten years of success in business. I intend to make our 11th year our best. We’ve all been in it together—let’s keep it together for the decade to come.

August 9th, 2018|Categories: eNewsletter|Tags: , , , |

OWC’s Tracy Williams talks to Variety about Hollywood’s zero tolerance policy

Times have changed, writes Variety’s Gene Maddaus. In the wake of the Weinstein scandal, dozens of men have been ousted for allegations of sexual misconduct. It was a long time coming, but when it came, it was sudden. Now the same urgency and zero-tolerance mentality are being applied to offensive statements as well as deeds.

“The studios haven’t behaved well. They have been bad actors,” said Tracy Williams, CEO of Olmstead Williams Communications. “Suddenly there’s a spotlight put on them, and they realize they need to button up. Every company is moving quickly. Heads are flying; look at all the people getting fired.”

Read the full article: Is Hollywood’s New Zero-Tolerance Policy a Reaction to the Trump Era? (Variety)

July 24th, 2018|Categories: OWC News|Tags: , , , , , |

8 Books and Podcasts To Make You Smarter This Summer | eNews from OWC

Business leaders like to “pick the brain” of powerhouse players for insight and to learn from their mistakes. What’s the best way to engage leaders like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Arianna Huffington? Read what they’re reading. As Bill Gates has famously revealed, getting to know 50 new books a year has helped make him who he is. Here are our staff picks:

“Radical Candor” by Kim Scott
Recommended by Tracy as a study in candor with clients, reporters and your team.

Scott uses engaging and hilarious personal stories from her experiences at Apple and Google to illustrate her approach to effective management – radical candor. She theorizes that effective leaders must “care personally” and also “challenge directly.” More than just a management book, radical candor informs how we communicate with one another while remaining compassionate and empathetic.

“The Prince” by Niccolo Machiavelli
Recommended by Trish, an avid reader and firm believer that “one must be a fox.”

“There is no other way to guard yourself against flattery than by making men understand that telling you the truth will not offend you.” A classic and one of the most impactful books on power. Ruthless? Yes. Yet this book contains tremendous insight on the importance of controlling the narrative. Machiavelli’s debate on which is more valuable to a leader, being feared or being loved, fits right in with today’s “Game of Thrones.”

“How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie
Recommended by Ashley, who uses every party she attends as practice for Carnegie’s tactics.

Every high school student should read this before graduation, and so should we all. After 80 years, this book still has a cult following. Warren Buffett said “it changed my life.” It’s one of the best public relations reads because when you are genuinely interested in what others say, you create a bond. Carnegie also presents useful insights on the psychology behind social interactions and great tips on how to approach people.

“Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” by Simon Sinek
Recommended by Wes, who says its take on establishing core values can serve as the guideline for every decision.

Born from his 2009 TED Talk on his book Start with Why, the third most popular TED video of all time, Sinek speaks to a movement to help people become more inspired at work, and in turn inspire their colleagues and customers. His theme is that leaders who’ve had the greatest influence all think, act and communicate in the same way, which is the opposite of everyone else: they start with why, not just how, their company is different.

“Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences” by Nancy Duarte
Recommended by Paulo, OWC’s content creation guru, who says the book is visual and informative, making it a great mix of concept with how-to instruction.

Creating a presentation can be a daunting task: How many words are too many for one slide? Does this image make sense here? Am I boring them to death? Duarte’s answers can help wake the sleepers and lead to better and more entertaining communication.

Our staff commutes from Simi Valley and Pasadena to Silver Lake and Santa Monica, so podcasts are the medium of choice for getting our daily dose of news, insights and learning:

“The Moth”
Recommended by Trish, who listens to at least five podcasts every day to maintain sanity while driving “the highway of the damned” (aka the 405) during her 3-hour daily commute. See Trish in The Wall Street Journal.

Communication requires an effective storyteller and what better way to learn than to follow the examples of the most skilled. The Moth podcast is a collection of people telling true stories in front of live audiences. Topics and lengths vary, but the level of excellence is consistent.

“The Intelligence Squared Podcast”
Recommended by Ashley, who says it sharpens argument skills and helps us incorporate witty, well-reasoned positions into conversation.

If you love a good debate, this is the podcast for you. It’s like eavesdropping on the brightest visionaries and most intelligent leaders from around the globe as they deliberate hot topics.

The New York Times’ “The Daily”
Recommended by Paulo, who recommends it as the ideal podcast for a quick news fix during the morning commute.

Hosted by Michael Barbaro, each 20-minute episode is a deep dive into the latest news, all told by the Times’ award-winning staff. It summarizes the day’s hot-button headlines with original reporting from those covering the stories from the front lines and commentary from policymakers and interviews with persons involved.

We’d like your book and podcast recommendations. Please share them with us on Twitter @owcpr or via email, and we’ll include them in our next newsletter.

July 3rd, 2018|Categories: eNewsletter|Tags: , , , , , |

The Oprah Effect: What Others Say Matters Most | eNews for OWC

It’s not a secret that having a solid reputation instills trust or that a bad reputation travels faster than a good one. How do you get the word out about your credibility? The answer is third-party endorsements. They include customer and user testimonials, expert and celebrity endorsements and all news articles.

Before the internet, small businesses relied on word of mouth to gain trust with the public. While that may have evolved to fit our world today with online reviews, it certainly hasn’t died. The first thing overwhelmed consumers do before purchasing is read customer reviews and recommendations on company websites, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter and more. Surveys rank legitimate customer reviews as more persuasive to buyers than advertising or paid celebrity endorsements.

Reviews Validate and Legitimize Your Brand

Ninety-three percent of online review readers seek to determine the quality of a business, and 85 percent say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. People naturally distrust what they aren’t familiar with, and positive reviews—and even positive company responses to negative reviews—instill confidence. Third-party endorsements are the lifeblood of a political campaign with candidates seeking backing from school boards, law enforcement and civil rights groups as well as their own parties.

People today are alert to advertising in all its forms. Third-party endorsements come from sources with nothing to gain and attain the highest level of public relations effectiveness. In fact, almost all such high-credibility endorsements can be solicited without detracting from their value. For example, an Oprah book endorsement often means the best-sellers list and is seen as a powerful third-party authentication.

Building relationships with reporters who cover your market earns street cred too. Being quoted as an expert in a news article is interpreted as an endorsement by the publication and positions you as a credible source.

Highlighting Third-party Endorsements

Adding a tab to your company website with testimonials, reviews and endorsements makes your site active and useful. Testimonials are made even more impactful by interviewing your clients and posting a short video of their success stories.

Professional execution is important. Vagueness, paraphrase and gush are less effective than direct communication. Verifiable information is the currency.

Ineffective testimonials lack names, dates, locations and identities of the reviewers. Fake reviews are destructive to reputation and should be avoided at all cost. Most clients are comfortable being named if given a chance to confirm and approve. The more specific the citation, the more powerful the credibility.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a review.

Your competition probably already has reviews, considering that 74 percent of businesses ask customers to share their experience online. Surprisingly, 68 percent of consumers have left a review after a business asked them to, so make it a policy to ask for these testimonials each time you develop a relationship with a client or have a big win. They help marketing, build reputation and tell you what you’re doing right.

Third-party endorsements are critical to B2B buyers. In fact, 97 percent say that “user-generated content such as peer reviews is more credible than other types of content.” Other third-party endorsements include industry awards, speaking at industry events, being included in research analyst reports, earning news coverage, getting ranked on “best of” lists and customer reviews online through sites such as Google and Yelp as well as active social media platforms. Get employees to tell the world what a great place to work the company is at Glassdoor.com. These sites also further enhance your SEO scores on search engines.

Take some time this summer to make third-party endorsements a part of your marketing efforts.

June 5th, 2018|Categories: eNewsletter|Tags: , , , , , |