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5 functionalities every PR person wish LinkedIn had

I spend a lot of time in LinkedIn these days. A lot of it is for research reasons–for this blog, for my Talking Points e-newsletter, for clients, and for the Talking Points Podcast.

But, the other half of it is for client work. Helping manage corporate LinkedIn pages. And, helping executives communicate with employees, customers and other key stakeholders via LinkedIn publishing.

So, I consider myself somewhat of a LinkedIn “power user.” Not in that I know everything these is to know about LinkedIn–more in that I spend more time in the platform than the average yogi.

And, since I do spend so much time there on behalf of clients, I’ve come across a number of situations where LinkedIn functionality needs improvement.

Areas where I’d love to see LinkedIn up its game and offer new, or enhanced, functionality. Specifically, I’m talking about these five areas:

#1: Ability to review a person’s (i.e., executive’s) shares

Part of some PR folks’ jobs these days involves helping execs share information on LinkedIn. This means browsing the web, finding interesting articles to share, writing up the posts and sending to said executive. The maddening part: There’s no way to track what that exec shared without having the user/pass to the exec’s LinkedIn account. I realize that’s a big ask–but there has to be a better way to do that!

#2: Ability to respond directly to comments in threads

It’s 2017 and LinkedIn STILL doesn’t have threaded comments. What is this, a cruel, unusual joke? 🙂 Another easy fix that would make community management so much easier for those responsible for LinkedIn brand pages.

#3: Ability to tag people in comments.

You could argue you get this info via notifications, but I’d still like the opportunity to tag folks in the comment threads of brand pages. Just seems obvious.

#4: Ability to edit brand posts.

Nothing is more maddening the making a post on behalf of a client (internal or external) and then finding out the client wants to change something in the post. Because, guess what? You can’t simply edit brand LinkedIn posts–you have to delete the entire post and start over. Seems like an easy thing to fix on LinkedIn’s part.

#5: Ability to identify shares right at the bottom of each post

Another head-scratcher. These show up in analytics, but you have to dig for them. Why not list the number of shares right at the bottom of each post (with the ability to click and see who shared–just like Facebook?). Side note: Why does LinkedIn insist on using their own strange language? Why not just use likes, comments and shares like everyone else?

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3 reasons digital marketing should NOT own influencer marketing

Traackr recently released a study named “Influence 2.0–the Future of Influencer Marketing.”

I was curious, so I downloaded the full report and checked it out. But, I also take these types of studies with a very small grain of salt. After all, Traackr is a IRM (influencer relationship marketing) platform. It benefits by sharing data that reinforces the fact that many companies are spending more on IRM, but might not understand the process as well.

While much has already been written about this report, I have yet to see anyone tackle what I thought was THE big topic within the report: Who OWNS influencer relationship marketing.

Sure, the spend data is interesting (although, again, self-serving).

Sure, the maturity data has some merit.

And, actually, the data on goals of IM was pretty interesting.

But, the stats on who OWNS IM–that, to me, was the real nugget of the entire report.

And, it should upset every PR counselor out there.

Why? Because when asked who owns IM, a full 70 PERCENT said “digital marketing.”

You know how many said “PR?” 16 percent.

16 PERCENT!

That’s unbelievable.

Because at its core, IM is really all about relationships and content–two topics PR folks should know much more about than their marketing counterparts. In fact, 5-7 years ago, this whole thing was called “Blogger Relations” or “Blogger Outreach”, before “influencers” were even a thing.

Nowadays, IM is big business (hence the Traackr study). And, that’s why digital marketing took over, which should surprise no one who’s worked in the PR field for more than a cup of coffee.

But that doesn’t make it right.

I believe PR, wholeheartedly, should own IM. Three big reasons why:

1: Influencer marketing skill sets are more attuned to PR folks

Like I said up top, influencer marketing is about two things: content and relationships. These are not skills marketers, in general, excel at. In theory, PR people should be much stronger here. Why? Because we’re trained to cultivate relationships–just like they have with journalists with years. And, in their hearts, PR folks are storytellers. They know how to spin a yarn or two. Marketers? Not so much. Their skill sets, generally, are more analytical. Skill set-wise, this should be a slam dunk. Yet, to date, it hasn’t.

2: Marketers have (always had) a different focus

A marketer’s job is all about the 4 Ps–product, pricing, place and promotion. And it’s that last one that worries me from an influencer marketing perspective. A marketer is always going to think “promotion” when dealing with an influencer. But, that scope is far too narrow. Effective influencer marketing involves nuance. It involves working with the influencer to tell a story TOGETHER. Not to instruct them to help you promote your product. PRs, on the other hand, have a completely different focus. Their MO is more centered on messaging. On storytelling. Again, just more suited to influencer marketing.

3: PR just has flat-out more experience

Not to beat a dead horse, but again, influencer marketing is very similar to media relations. No, they’re not exactly the same–obviously. But, the approach you take with an influencer is pretty close to the way you approach a journalist (even in today’s climate where many influencers are paid). At first, you just try to establish contact. Then, you work to get to know the journalist/influencer–find out what they write/post about. Who their audience is. Then, you make the pitch–and again, it’s a pitch built around co-producing content, not simply promoting. You follow-up. You keep that relationship going. All that work screams PR–not marketing (who typically see the world as a series of “campaigns”). PR folks have years of experience in this area. Why not leverage that? Why let a discipline that has virtually no experience doing this kind of thing completely take the lead? That really doesn’t make any sense to me.

Note: Images courtesy of Traackr. Download the full report here (Disclaimer: I was not paid by Traackr or its affiliates to write this article)

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The most interesting Super Bowl commercial had nothing to do with selling products

Last Sunday, most of us tuned it to watch the Super Bowl. And many of us tuned in more for the commercials and entertainment than for the actual game (who cares about another Patriots championship anyway? YAWN!).

One of the more interesting developments of the evening was one I wasn’t expecting: The most interesting Super Bowl commercial had nothing to do with selling products.

It was 84 Lumber’s “Mother/Daughter” spot–and it was focused squarely on helping 84 Lumber hire and recruit prospective employees.

That’s right: A Super Bowl ad that promoted a company’s EMPLOYER BRAND.

I can’t remember ever seeing that before.

Here’s the second (longer) spot:

And, here’s the “Entire Journey”:

The spots point at a landing page where prospective candidates can see the video above and research and company a bit by visiting the brand’s social channels and checking out their Glassdoor page.

Prospective employees can even fill out a quick form to request a recruiter contact them and help them identify the right opportunity at 84 Lumber.

 

Interesting, right? But, it makes complete sense when you consider 84 Lumber is opening 20 new stores in 2017 and hiring “hundreds” of new employees (according to this USA Today story).

So, that Employer Brand angle is interesting enough. But then it got really intriguing when the (expected) backlash came.

Since the ad obviously toed political lines with its storyline (a mother/daughter looking to immigrate to what appears to be the U.S.) and powerful visuals (“the wall”), people were bound to be upset–on both sides.

And, that’s just what 84 Lumber saw.

They saw what I’m guessing were expected comments about illegal immigrants working for them:

They saw the requisite comments about immigration policy:

They even saw some pretty negative comments about people who refused to do business with them as a result of the spot:

Overall, I thought 84 Lumber handled this blowback fairly well. They responded in a timely manner (lots of replies on Super Bowl Sunday). They responded with consistent language. And, they responded to a lot of negative remarks other companies simply don’t have the stomach to handle. I tend to think they should be applauded for that (political affiliations aside).

Then, it got really interesting when it became public that 84 Lumber CEO, Maggie Hardy Magerko, was a Trump supporter. That added a political component to this story that already had a big dose of it.

Again, 84 Lumber responded–with this right at the top of their Twitter account:

Overall, really interesting case study from a couple different angles:

  • Employer brand focus — I think this was indicative of what you’re going to see more of in the year ahead: More brands investing more heavily in “employer brand marketing” as a complement to traditional recruiting efforts. This is a burgeoning sector of social media marketing right now–and I think you’re going to see many more companies investing in it this year as the need to recruit the best and brightest in different industries increases.
  • Social crisis management with a political twist — Obviously, this is a very hot topic right now: How companies communicate/market and navigate the dangerous political waters. In this instance, 84 Lumber took a pretty strong stance. And, they stood by that stance when the heat was turned up. Again, politics aside, that should be applauded. I actually wish we saw more of that in corporate America. Who knows? Maybe we will, given how high the stakes have become.

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PR Rock Stars: Sun Country’s Brittany Chaffee

Young people amaze me sometimes. They’re brave. They’re fierce. And, they take risks that I would have never taken at that age. That kinda describes Brittany Chaffee. Look no further than her Wild Morning project for proof. Nowadays, she’s over at Sun Country honing her craft in the marketing world. But, this is one interesting woman. Let’s hear all about her in this month’s installment of PR Rock Stars:

You’re the marketing manager for Sun Country Airlines–and you’re a boomerang employee, back after a few years away. Why did you decide to come back to an organization you already worked for earlier in your career?

This is an interesting question, because it’s truly shaped how I strive to define my career. I left initially for an opportunity I didn’t think would sprout into my peripheral vision until I was at least thirty-five. In continuum, the same opportunity opened back up for me at Sun Country Airlines. I have my own little love affair with the airline, my mom has been there for 30 years, so I always tell people that blue + orange blood is just pumping through my veins at this point. The lesson here? If you have to jump a few lily pads in your career to get where you want to be, you should do that. Quitting and coming back for more, or not coming back ever again, is a professional warrior call. It is not embarrassing. I built, and did not burn, a lot of bridges along the way.

You’re responsible for influencer marketing programs, among a host of other responsibilities, at SC. What does influencer marketing look like for an airline?

Yes! I’m a part of a gallant little team (only three of us in the marketing department); the Lean, Mean Trifecta, if you will. That being said, I wear a lot of hats on a day-to-day basis. One of my favorite campaigns is most certainly our budding social influencer marketing program. We drove it on a test-run last year and the initiative went well. We sent six influencers (chosen organically) to three domestic and three international Sun Country destinations. For 2017, we wanted to develop a campaign that amplified awareness using our social channels as an authentic engagement tool.

A lot went into this process. I accept free coffee and good company to chat more about it, but of course, we can’t give away all of our best-kept secrets!

One more SC question: You actually started as a flight attendant at SC! I’m curious–what’s it like to work in marketing for an organization where you were once on the “front lines?” How has that impacted your perspective as a marketer/communicator?

That is true. I was once popping Diet Cokes and traveling around the world. I’m so grateful for that time, because I always tell my colleagues I’m now just a flight attendant with a computer. If we’re executing a campaign that involves inflight strategy, it’s helpful for my previous “front line” knowledge to understand what tactically will work and what won’t. What’s even better is seeing the love Sun Country employees have for this company. I’ve experienced it ten times over, Sun Country is home for lots of people that work here. The employees are family. And it’s always a tribute to travel but come home at the end of the day. I love the living daylights out of that mantra and experience.

About a year ago, you started a new project titled “Wild Morning.” For those who might not be aware, what’s that all about? And, what drove you to start it?

You know when someone asks you about your crush in high school? That’s how I feel about The Wild Morning. I just sigh and my arm hairs dance because I love it so much. The Wild Morning is a coffee table book about women and their mornings. I’m working on the book with my fellow co-founder, Dave Puente. We simply show up on women’s doorsteps (invited, of course) and watch them get ready in the morning. Dave takes the photos and I scribble notes and ask the women questions. The book will be a combination of Dave’s photos and my poetry, set to personify the raw honesty and vulnerability of the early morning hours through real women and their stories. The dawn — not unlike the women who wake to greet it — is inspiring, unapologetic, complex and real.

The females in the community behind this project have been cherub earthlings about the entire thing. Some of the women included thus far: Nora McInerny, Falen Bonsett-Lambert, Jana Shortal, Natalie Nyhus, Carly Zucker, and Emily Engberg (among many other soul-stirrers). These women, all women, deserve to share their unfiltered truths. In our social world, it’s okay to look beyond that Mayfair-filter-façade and see strength means vulnerability. Vulnerability is strength. Let’s just marry those two forever.

Cute little plug: the book is set to be published in late April by Wise Ink Publishing. Partial proceeds of the book will also be going to a cherished partner of ours, Faith’s Lodge.

You’re one of about a BILLION people I know that graduated from the University of St. Thomas–most of which I would put squarely in the “rock star” bucket (Allison O’Keefe, LeeAnn Fahl, Martha McCarthy, just for starters). What the heck is in the water over at UST?

Seriously. St.Thomas is like an incubator for successful human beings, it is fantastic. The best part? The Tommie community is like a virtual pyramid of connections and opportunities. All of my girlfriends from St.Thomas are killing it in the PR world. I’m so, so lucky to have a network of women that light a little fire under my butt once in a while.

In your LinkedIn profile, you have listed right at the top of your profile: “I love a well written email.” I’d agree! But, what does that mean to you, exactly, and what are the components of a well-written email?

To me, a well-written email is like a pair of shoes. The more quality, the more seriously people will take you. Nobody takes me seriously when I’m wearing socks with flip flops. Nobody will take me seriously if I blast them a disruptive email that makes no sense. I’m realizing now that sounds super anal-retentive but I like a bulleted list, what can I say? Speaking of:

Components of a well-written email:

  • Mind your manners with “Reply All”
  • Spell check is fun (!)
  • Bulleted lists are always helpful
  • Don’t ask for things, tell things (politely)
  • Don’t reply to a BCC (seen it happen in its natural habitat)

Finally, you spent a year-plus in media relations at Canterbury Park in Shakopee. One question: Did you meet track announcer and Minnesota Vikings play-by-play man, Paul Allen? And, did you bow to the uni-brow?

I did meet Mr. Paul Allen! I was a baby when I started at Canterbury Park, fresh out the gate – if you will. When you’re a junior in college everything is terrifying and someone MAY die in your presence – who knows!? Even though I was young, everyone at Canterbury gave me the most open and flexible space to learn. I worked in the press box with Paul, Kevin Gorg, and my boss, Jeff Maday. I can’t say enough great things about all of them. They were the classiest bunch of gentleman. As I said, things were very terrifying for me as a young professional, so didn’t bow to the uni-brow. I did go 9/9 picking winners one night at the track. Gorg be my witness.

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How the current political environment is impacting Facebook brand marketing

In case you haven’t noticed (and if you haven’t, you’ve most likely been vacationing on the moon for the last 3+ months), your Facebook newsfeed has been taken over by politics.

Activism is at what I would have to believe is an all-time high (at least in the internet era). And that’s great to see.

Except if you’re a brand marketer.

Why do I say that?

Well, think about the current environment. Think about your newsfeed. What’s showing up?

This is a typical post in my feed right now:

Here’s another one:

It’s virtually endless. Now, I’m not here to debate whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. I’m not here to say people shouldn’t be advocating for their political views on Facebook. But, I do wonder what this means for brands.

It’s getting so bad, you’re also seeing this kind of post becoming more common each passing day:

So again, think about the current environment on Facebook. You have a large piece of the population posting relentlessly about their political views and the actions they are taking. And, you have a growing number of people who are opting to completely sit out–some even going as to far as to say they are taking a break from Facebook altogether.

As a brand marketer, that’s not-so-great news.

Meanwhile, anecdotally (and I’ve said this before recently), I’ve noticed meaningful engagement (i.e., comments and shares) has been down for big brands recently. And not just for the ones I work with.

But brands seem to be plowing forward with a business-as-usual mindset.

I’m not saying that’s the wrong approach. And I’m not claiming to have a solid answer. I’m just raising the question: Is it prudent for brands to be spending just as much time and money on Facebook as they were a year ago given the current political environment?

It’s an interesting question, right? Specifically for Facebook. Because the same discussion doesn’t apply to Pinterest or Instagram where kid pics, cat memes and food selfies continue to dominate.

But, if you’re a midsized or larger brand and you’re spending a decent amount of money on Facebook advertising right now, doesn’t the scenario I describe above concern you?

I’m not saying we need to stop posting to Facebook. That would most likely be foolish–after all, Facebook still is THE dominant social platform. But, at the very least, I think you need to think about re-assessing frequency and calibrating message a bit given what’s happening.

I’m not saying you need to discontinue advertising on Facebook until things die down. Because, well, things might not die down for quite a while. But, maybe you think about scaling back advertising for a bit–especially if you’re not seeing the results you have been seeing the last year or so.

And I’m not saying you let up on community management. If anything, you’ll probably have to spend more time monitoring the web given the polarizing environment we’re in and the fact that one tweet from the president could actually impact your stock price.

What I AM saying is it probably makes sense to give all this a little thought. Even just a quick conversation with your team. Times have changed significantly since early November–time to make sure your strategy still makes sense.

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