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4 Employer Brands that Get Social Media Marketing

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a post about why so many Employer Brands continue to struggle with social media.

As I researched these Employer Brands, I noticed a number of brands (big brands, mind you) making some fairly common missteps when it came to how they used social media.

My friend, and recruiter by trade, Paul DeBettignies, brought up some really good points around “why” this is happening in the comments of that post.

Paul said:

“Recruiting tends to be under HR and not Marketing. Regardless it does not usually have a direct like to the C Suite.” (Good point)

“HR tends to be an entry level point to a company. (Another great point; junior-level folks are most likely running these accounts with minimal, if any, oversight).

“Recruiting is not a degree program.” (So, not only are junior folks running these accounts, they may be junior people with no college degree and junior people with varied backgrounds that aren’t in HR).

“Most marketers do not get that recruiting is an actual two way conversation.” (And, even when marketers ARE involved, they’re looking at social from one-way push mentality; I have to agree with Paul here, too)

But, even with those drawbacks, there are a number of brands doing interesting and productive things with social media. I thought we might take a closer look at those brands today.



PwC is one of the very accounting firms–and actually, organizations in general–to have an Employer Brand-focused Instagram account. Makes sense as a channel though, right? Younger people are there–and that’s a key audience for accounting firms. But, I liked a lot of what PwC was doing on Instagram. They include a heavy dose of employee/culture-focused photos, but also play on popular internet memes in a relevant way–like taking advantage of historic PwC pics as part of #ThrowbackThursday.


Even though they stuck a URL in the caption (um, you can’t click on those PwC–you know that, right?), I like this mini-campaign. Great way to put a face on a sustainability program and make it a recruiting tool. Taking a page out of Marriott’s playbook, if you remember their recruiting effort on Instagram a while back.


Microsoft 1

OK, so sure, not everyone company has the luxury Microsoft has here. Not every company has employees posting pics to Instagram of their experience at work. In fact, I would probably argue very few do. But, that doesn’t mean Microsoft shouldn’t do it. And, I love that they are. Sure, they post their own pics from time to time on IG. But, they consistently regram employee pics when appropriate. Excellent way to demonstrate employee engagement–and show how Microsoft is a great place to work (in an employee’s own words–and pics).

Microsoft 2

Love how Microsoft is providing value to job-seekers with this easy “service.” All they’re really doing is aggregating the best (read: most sought-after/urgent positions, most likely) jobs across the company, throwing them on a blog/site and positioning it as “Hot Jobs” via social. Simple, but brilliant because it makes life easier for job seekers, and it also put the top jobs Microsoft probably needs to hire for more than others at the top of the list.


Walmart 1

Employee pride should almost be a key part of any Employer Brand effort on social. After all, employees probably make up a decent chunk of your fans/followers on any social network. So, why not play to that employee pride once in a while? It will help spark employee engagement–and show how prideful and happy your employees are, as a result. Who doesn’t want to work for a company like that? Walmart did this well in this Instagram/Facebook post featuring it’s employees on Black Friday.


General Electric

GE 1

One last really good idea–and example–from GE. Up top, I talked about how employees probably make up a decent chunk of your fans/followers on social media. I’m guessing that’s true for most brands. So, why wouldn’t you address them publicly in a post every now and then? I love what GE did with this post, specifically asking its engineers what they would add to this list. As you can see from the comments, a number of employees weighed in. Doesn’t that look good for GE? Think if a prospective employee sees and read this post. Don’t they feel good about the fact that so many employees (and others, of course) chimed in on the post? Doesn’t that employee engagement signal that those employees are happy and in tune with what’s happening in the industry and with the company? I tend to think so.


What will PR technology look like in 2025?

A few weeks ago, the MN PRSA folks asked me to present at the local APR study session on “technology.” It’s always a fun thing for me to do since once upon a time I was APR certified (different story for a different day).

I love going back and 1) Giving back to the an organization that gave me so much over the years, and 2) Seeing who is going through the APR process.

I’m not sure I’m the right person to talk about “technology”, but I guess given my business and its connection points with digital marketing, I may know enough to be dangerous.

In my presentation, I tried to set things up by taking a look back at where we’ve come from when it comes to tech in PR.

Just look at what PR tech looked like in 1985:


Everyone remembers where they were when they got their first word processor, right?

In 1995, technology looked like this in the PR world:

Apple Computer 1995

The Mac Classic is one of the computers I grew up with. This model was actually on the scene earlier than 1995, but it gives you a good sense for what tech was like 20 years ago.

Now, what about 2005?

YouTube 2005

This is what YouTube looked like just 10 years ago. THIS! Can you imagine?

Or, think about what cell technology looked like 10 years ago…

2005 phones

What does PR tech look like today? We now have access to technology like smart watches:

Apple Watch

And, virtual reality, which was laughable 10 years ago:

Oculus Rift

Pretty crazy to see how far we’ve come in the last 30 years, huh? From word processors to virtual reality that is so damn real it actually makes you sick.

Where will tech be in another 10 years? That’s the question you hear most often. And, it’s the one everyone wants an answer to.

While I’m no technologist, I think it’s fun to take a peek at the future from time to time. After all, who could predict that Facebook would become an essential took for PR pros in 2005? Or, that you would be able to produce entire brand videos right from your smart phone?

Safe to say, technology can amaze us, and exceed our wildest expectations fairly easily.

So, predicting what will happen in another 10 years in 2025 is next to impossible.

But, I’ll take a shot :)

Wearables will completely transform the way we tell stories

From the get-go I was a pretty big Google Glass doubter. It just seemed too early. The hardware was too geeky (and offensive in some cases; you remember “glassholes”, right?). And the software needed fine-tuning (if you ever tried one on, you know what I’m talking about). But, the second, third and fourth generations of such wearables will improve. And, when they do, they’re going to start to completely change the way we tell stories. You saw a glimpse of it with Victor Oladipo at the NBA Draft last year. My feeling is we’ll see much more of that by 2025 as wearable tech gets better, and people start to open up a bit more to the possibilities.

Facebook won’t exist, but social media will still be key to PR success

It feels like we’re almost at a tipping point with Facebook. I know the stock price is crushing. I know user numbers continue to grow. I know it continues to be the dominant platform in social media marketing. I know all that. But, I just can’t shake this feeling that Facebook will take a big plunge in the next five years. And, when it does, it’s going to take a BIG plunge–like a MySpace-like plunge. It’ll fall completely off the radar. Remember, for as fast as tech can enter our lives, it can leave our lives even faster. Case in point: Blackberry (remember when Blackberry was THE mobile phone a while back? Look at them now). But, when Facebook falls off, social media won’t go with it. Social media and its landscape will merely shift. Another platform will step in. Another tool will shape our experiences. I have no earthly idea what that platform or tool will be, but I guess the idea here is to keep paying attention. Because when the landscape shifts, it is going to SHIFT. Big time.

Virtual reality will become a key PR tool (but only in spots)

Look, I’m no virtual reality bobo. And, I’m not an expert either. I’ve really only tried it a couple times (including Oculus Rift at a MIMA event last year, which was downright incredible). But, I do know two things: 1) Right now, motion sickness is the biggest issue to mass adoption, and 2) It’s still pretty expensive for a headset (save the Google Cardboard option) and fairly futuristic in the minds of *most* people. So, VR has to fix #1 ASAP. And, they will. And, they need to win folks over in #2 (and they will), and bring the prices down (which they also will). Given all those issues are addressed, VR will become a key tool for PR folks in 2025. Heck, it’s already happening in very niche spots (check out what the folks at space150 and Victory Motorcycles did with VR at a recent trade show–pretty effing cool, and the only way I’d EVER ride a motorcycle!). VR is coming folks. So, start thinking of how you can use it NOW.

Video technology will render conference calls useless

The funny thing is we’re already there with the technology. You may have heard of it–Google Hangouts. But, many organizations (big and small) need easy video conferencing that can exist behind a super firewall where employees can discuss proprietary information. That’s the key. And, I think it will eventually happen. It HAS to happen, right? I mean, for those who have been on an audio con call (OK, that’s everyone, right?), you know how frustrating a audio con call with 5 or more people can be. People talking over one another. Awkward silence. The inability to read body language. And, we HAVE the technology NOW. We’re just not far enough along yet. But, it’s coming. And when it does, it’ll put an end to my taking conference calls in my sweat pants and Homer Simpson slippers :)

The fall of content marketing tech

Content is king. Right now. But, what about five years from now? Will companies still be investing millions in content marketing? Or, will we be knee deep in what Mark Schaefer refers to as the “content shock?” I tend to fall closer to the latter. And, when that happens, all these content marketing tech companies are going to dry up pretty quickly. I get it–content marketing operations like Scripted have their place. You need fast, cheap content. You hire it out at a lower price. Makes sense. But, it only makes sense in the current content marketing arms race culture. When that goes away (and, I tend to believe it will), the companies that support it go away, too. And, we largely go back to employees within organizations developing good, quality content. The way it really should be.

Twin Cities PR This Week – March 2

I was out of town late last week, so I’m getting this to you all a day late. But, as usual there’s been a lot going on here in the Twin Cities the last couple weeks.

See below for the full list of comings, goings, promotions, events and open jobs.

Fenced In, Part 3


Congrats to Derrick Shields who was recently appointed as vice president on the MIMA board.

Also: Congrats to Aimee Reker for accepting the position as Treasurer on the MIMA board of directors.

Karen Seal, formerly the manager of health and wellness communications at General Mills is now client relationship manager-Creative Services.

Laura Krinke, former account executive was recently promoted to senior account executive at PadillaCRT.

Kendall Bird, former online community specialist, was recently promoted to associate social media manager at Collegis Education.


Join me next Tuesday as MN PRSA and Macccabee PR host “Content Marketing for Communicators.” Register here: http://www.mnprsa.com/content-marketing-communicators/

Great non-industry event–the next Ignite Minneapolis will take place on April 23. But, the Ignite folks are taking talk submissions through March 15. Got what it takes? http://www.ignitempls.org/


Thomson Reuters is seeking a director-technology communications at its Eagan campus: https://toc.taleo.net/careersection/2/jobdetail.ftl?lang=en&job=JREQ036722

The Catholic Community Foundation is seeking a strategic director of communications: http://www.ccf-mn.org/uploads/ccf_dir_of_strat_comms_final_2_17_2015.pdf

Work for the Fair! The Minnesota State Fair is seeking a marketing and communications specialist: http://www.mnprsa.com/marketing-communications-specialist-minnesota-state-fair/

Dream of teaching? University of St. Thomas is looking for a full-time PR instructor: http://www.mnprsa.com/clinical-instructor-strategic-communication-university-st-thomas/

Thrivent Financial is seeking a digital marketing specialist: https://www.mima.org/networking/apply_now.aspx?view=2&id=275337


How the biggest company in America–Walmart–breaks news in 2015

In case you’ve been living under a rock, you probably heard the big news out of Bentonville last week: Walmart is set to increase its minimum wage for associates.

Big news, right? HUGE news is more like it. So, given the fact that I am a PR counselor by trade, and Walmart has been a client of mine in the past, I was more than a little interested to see how they broke the news.

What I discovered was really pretty interesting–and may change the way you think about breaking news yourself with your clients and organizations.

I’m not the first to write about this–Patrick Coffee at PR Newser noticed last week, too.

And, after digging in a bit more, I thought there were some interesting lessons to learn from the way in which Walmart broke this news.

Most notably, the integrated nature of the way Walmart broke the news. They used a variety of tactics from owned to earned to paid media that no doubt involved many different groups and departments from within the Bentonville company.

Let’s take a closer look.

First, they shared a news release with specific journalists (as noted, by Coffee, in the PR Newser article).

WMT Twitter 4

So, no big surprise here. On point with what most companies would do, no question. At least, most larger companies.

Next, they established an online “home base” for the news–one that was interactive, and open to two-way conversations with employees, customers and stakeholders: The Walmart blog (see below).

WMT Blog 1

Here’s what’s interesting about this move–Walmart didn’t post the news release in its newsroom. The blog post WAS the news release–at least in the online world.

Why is that smart? Because now the “release” (post) becomes portable to use in different social media channels. And, it becomes more interactive. Note the Walmart folks featured the video of Doug McMillon (we’ll get to that in a moment) right at the top of the post. We know people (and media) love video–let’s make sure everyone sees it right at the top (and has the ability to embed it in their stories and posts across the web).

They also plugged in a large infographic (we’ll also talk about that in a moment as well)–another nice visual piece that helps explain the decision from a few different angles. And finally, they opened up the comments on the post–something a garden-variety news release wouldn’t have. And, as you can see, they were actively responding to folks (and the comments weren’t all positive, either, as you might expect).

WMT blog comments 2

And finally, using a blog for this news made sense because I think it “humanized” Walmart and the news a bit more. After all, this was a very people-focused topic, right? Walmart wanted this news to come off in a warm, more welcoming way (enter Doug McMillon video). I think using a blog for the home base accomplished that more than a tried-and-true news release would have (at least publicly).

Walmart then went on to share this news across its social channels, including Facebook:


Note the context and text they used in the post–different from what they used across other social channels. So, here’s one lesson: Use different language, depending on the media (probably well-known by now, but worth mentioning).

They also shared on Twitter, specifically from their flagship @walmart and @walmartnewsroom accounts:

WMT Twitter 3

Couple things to note here. Again note the language–different from what they used on Facebook. Shorter, more “retweetable.” But also notice they pinned the tweet to the top of their timeline. Simple, but smart. Also–notice how Walmart strategically retweeted some of the bigger Twitter players who shared the news throughout the day. Not everyone–just the heavy hitters. Again, simple but smart.

WMT Twitter 2

Walmart also did a very smart thing with Twitter–something I’ve been talking about for the last couple years. They took the larger piece of content (the infographic–full form on the blog post) and broke it down into smaller “chunks” they then used in individual tweets. Like this one:

WMT Infographic 2

For context, here’s what the full infographic looked like:

WMT Big Infogrphic

Walmart went on to share three more tweets–all using different “chunks” of the same infographic. Great job extending the lifecycle of that one piece of visual content on the blog!

And, then I noticed this tweet in my feed yesterday. It seems that Walmart used promoted tweets to make sure the news showed up in people’s timelines. Interesting. Now this is part of the integrated approach to how Walmart broke the news. It wasn’t all about “earned media”–Walmart used the owned/earned/paid triangle to distribute and promote the news.


But, they didn’t stop there. A simple Google search and this showed up.

WMT paid search

Interesting, right? Here’s Walmart using paid search dollars to make sure the news pops up at the top of the page for key search terms. The link takes you back to the Walmart blog post with the announcement details, video and infographic. So again, we’re back to the integrated approach of using paid/earned/owned. I also think about what this means for the Walmart PR team–guessing they aren’t in charge of SEO and search at Walmart. That means, they had to work hand-in-hand with the marketing team on this. Sounds simple, but if you’ve worked for or with a big company, you know these types of things don’t always just happen as seamlessly as you think they should. And, certain departments (even though they may be separated by just a few feet or hallways, don’t always communicate), don’t always communicate well.

Walmart even teased the Doug McMillon video on Instagram.

WMT Instagram

Keep in mind, Walmart has more than 86,000 followers on Instagram, so while this is most likely a “secondary” channel for them, it’s still substantial. And, the post did receive more than the average number of comments–in fact, the only post recently that drummed up more engagement was the post alerting customers that Walmart was now selling Oreo Red Velvet cookies!

All in all, a very interesting approach to breaking news by Walmart here. Sure, not every organization has access to the resources the biggest company in America does. But, I would argue many of these tactics and approaches could easily be executed by virtually any company. Walmart probably invested more in the paid piece of the execution, but if you’re a small or mid-sized business, you wouldn’t have to spend a ton on Google search ads or Twitter promoted tweets to achieve a similar effect.

Something to chew on as the way in which we share and break news as an industry continues to evolve.

4 unwritten commandments of the corporate communicator

Today’s corporate communicator has a legion of responsibilities. Everything from executive communications to media relations to employee communications falls under its umbrella.

Corporate communicators must be good writers. They must be able to hold and lead a meeting. They must have good interpersonal skills. And, they must be able to work well alone–and in a team environment.

We know about all of this because it is well documented. We talk about it a lot in professional organizations like IABC and PRSA. We read about it on blogs and industry publications.

Candy Dish

But, we talk very little about those unwritten laws that govern our profession. Those “commandments”, if you will, that truly enable us to do our work–and do it well.

What am I talking about? I’ve come up with four unwritten “commandments” I believe play a key role for every corporate communicator.

1–Thou shall always keep executive admins happy.

One of a corporate communicator’s most important partners is the chief executive. And the CFO. And SVPs. Also known as “executive row” in many places of employment. These are your go-to spokespeople for the organization, and they are also an important source of information. So, it’s absolutely key you have unfettered (or relatively unfettered) access to these people as much as you can. Enter the administrative assistant. Developing and maintaining open and solid relationships with these people is ESSENTIAL to doing your job well. Why? Because they control the executive’s calendar. Piss them off, and you can forget getting 10 minutes today. Develop a good working relationship with them and they can become one of your most important allies in the organization. When I was working on the corporate side, these were always the first people I sought out. I made time to talk to them about personal matters. I asked them questions about their kids. I got them coffee on occasion. I looked for ways to make their lives easier. And, invariably, it always paid off.

2–Thou shall always keep a full candy dish at your desk.

Wait, what? That’s right, always be the guy/gal with the candy dish at your desk. Why would you do that? Because the candy dish is the new water cooler. Who really has water coolers anymore? That’s a dated concept. A candy dish on the other hand–that’s where you get the gossip of the organization. And, as a corporate communicator, believe me, you want to hear that gossip. You want to hear the chatter going on among employees and managers below the surface, so you know what the REAL issues are around the company. Not just the issues leadership sees. That candy dish is your ticket to those conversations. Some people might scoff at this commandment, but I truly believe in it. Another benefit: It opens up the lines of communication between you and others within the company. After all, who doesn’t love a Twix at 2 pm in the afternoon? That Twix will inevitably turn into a short 5-minute conversation about what’s going on with that employee. And again, that’s the stuff you want to hear about before it starts bubbling up.

3–Thou shall never eat alone–or at your desk.

Somewhere along the line, eating alone at your desk became a badge of honor for PR folks. And, I’m not sure why. As a corporate communicator you NEVER want to eat alone. That lunch hour is just as critical as the rest of your day.  You should spend it grabbing lunch with your boss. Or, a colleague. Or an employee. Nurturing relationships. Learning about what’s going on in a different department. Talking to a colleague in product design to mine for stories for the intranet in the next month. Yep–it’s a working lunch, but it should never be spent alone. And, every once in a while, I suggest grabbing lunch with a colleague or friend OUTSIDE the office. This networking will be invaluable to your development–whether it’s lunch with a former colleague, a friend in another industry, or just someone you’ve always wanted to meet. To be clear, I’m not really saying you have to eat lunch with someone else EVERY day. But start by shooting for a couple days a week and move on from there. After all, think about the executives you support. Do you ever see them eating alone? Probably not. Why? Because they know the value of those relationships across the business. And you should, too.

4–Thou shall take at least 2 trips per year.

I know, you’re scratching your head again. What could I possibly be talking about here? Every corporate communicator should seek to get out of the office at least twice per year. Here’s my thinking. If you work for an org with offices in different locations, get out to one of those locations at least once a year. It pays to get out among employees and see the environment in which you’re communicating with employees. It pays to see the front lines. It just pays to see what it’s like in different offices. All of that will help you formulate strategies and tactics in your planning. Don’t have offices around the country? What about an industry conference? Don’t you want to get smarter about your work? Make the case to management that you need to attend at least one conference per year. And, make sure you come back with ideas and lessons you can share with your team. Lastly, take a freaking vacation! I shouldn’t even really have to say this, but vacation time is essential to healthy employees. Everyone needs a break. Yet, I remember from my time in corporate America, that far too many people were rolling vacation days over each year. Make sure you make time for yourself. Believe me, no one is too important to miss work for a week. No one.

photo credit: Candy Dish via photopin (license)