Video. We’ve heard about it ad naseum for the last 4-5 years in trend posts like this. So, video, it and of itself, is hardly a trend in 2020. Especially when it comes to platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
But, LinkedIn? That’s been a different story.
Historically, LinkedIn has been a platform heavily predicated on two forms of content: Text and photos. And, even the photo content hasn’t been all that strong or unique. But, during COVID, that’s all changed. Video has seen a big uptick in use. Not just on the personal side (I’ve noticed more people using LinkedIn Live video, in particular, during the pandemic), but also on the brand side.
Why? For starters, many of us are stuck at home and are craving connection–video on LinkedIn gets at that a bit. It’s why you’re seeing more videos from senior-level leaders at companies on LinkedIn.
Second, visuals (at least compelling visuals) are tougher to come by during COVID. So, brands are turning to video. This is why you’re seeing more Zoom-style videos in your feeds.
Finally, you could make an argument (and LinkedIn is supporting this) that the platform is prioritizing videos in the feed. So, produce more video and your content may be seen by more people, organically.
So yeah, we’re seeing more video in our LinkedIn feeds during the pandemic–and that’s why.
But, what companies are doing this well? Which organizations are using video strategically on LinkedIn to advance their goals–not just to create more content on the platform? Let’s take a look at four great examples.
General Mills & McDonalds – Providing a new video platform for senior-level executives
Early on in the pandemic (March/April), General Mills shared a number of videos where they interviewed key executives on key topics related to COVID. For example, here they discussed food trends with the vice president of consumer insights at Mills. Interesting, timely content, and another, “warmer” channel for execs to connect with customers and employees. And, at a time when other channels for senior execs might be a little tougher to come by, this one is opening up and drawing more eyeballs (and, easy to produce for comms teams working from home).
Likewise, McDonalds just recently introduced a new video series featuring its CEO, Chris Kempczinski. The interviews (so far, at least) have been done via Zoom. The most recent installment has Chris interviewing a franchisee in California. In the first episode, he interviewed Ann Murray, VP of Global Marketing with McDonalds. What’s smart about McD’s approach is this: They’re posting the interview to Chris’ personal account first (and getting the requisite engagement) and THEN reposting from the corporate McDonald’s account. It’s a classic two-for-one!
Johnson & Johnson – Showcasing a new video content series
One of the more fascinating content series that I’ve heard very few people talk about during the pandemic is Johnson & Johnson’s Race for the Vaccine series hosted by Lisa Ling. As the title suggests, it’s all about the vaccine–and J&J has plenty to talk about here as they are obviously directly involved. Ling has interviewed docs, nurses and J&J employees about a number of topics around COVID and the vaccine the last six months. But, what’s really interesting in this sense is how J&J is using video not only to showcase the show, but to tease it and promote each episode in advance. They also break apart each full episode into smaller video chunks to share on LinkedIn, too. In general, I’d say each show results in 5-6 individual pieces of video content. Talk about maxing out your investment!
Highlight safety efforts during COVID
If you want the best example of a company using video on LinkedIn to showcase how they’re keeping employees safe during COVID, Tyson Foods should be the first place you should look. Early on in this pandemic, when the spotlight was on food manufacturers, Tyson was all over this sharing video after video that showcased steps Tyson was taking in its plants to keep its teams safe. They have been as transparent as any food manufacturer providing tours of their plants and interviews with front-line employees. All in all, Tyson has been THE case study in how to use video to provide this level of transparency during the outbreak so far.
Introducing innovative technologies during the pandemic
In case you haven’t heard, Abbott has been way out in front of the virus, constantly introducing new products designed to test and treat people around the globe. They’ve seemingly introduced a slew of new products the last six months, and many times they do it via video. And it makes sense if you’re Abbott, too, right? Because for some of these products, it pays to see it in action (or, what it looks like). Especially they’re testing kit they’re introduced fairly early this summer. Video has been a great way for a med tech company like Abbott to bring some life to otherwise fairly vanilla and technical product introductions.
Everyone is glued to the news these days. Between coronavirus, racial unrest and the biggest election of our lifetimes, there’s no shortage of hard news to read each and every day. But, that doesn’t mean journalism is thriving again. In many ways, the situation is more dire than ever. Trust levels remain low. Media outlets are fragmented and politcized. And revenue continues to struggle.
And, all that has big ramifications for those of us in the PR industry. Today I thought I’d take a look at some of the macro-level trends happening in the media industry and their impact on us, as PR professionals, in the coming years.
Trend #1: Newsrooms are more barren than ever.
Supporting stat: Newsroom employment in the U.S. dropped by 23% between 2008 and 2019.
Impact: This continues a trend, as you can see from the graphic above, that we’ve been witnessing now for 10+ years. It seems to have plateaued, but newsrooms are thinly staffed at best. For PRs, that means supplying more content to our media friends. In some cases, it means pitching bylines instead of stories. In others, it means supplying them with photography and videos when you can. Bottom line: Make sure you almost always have content to offer up journalists, who are in more dire need of it now than ever.
Trend #2: Big-time news is increasingly reported from one of three cities.
Supporting stat: One-in-five newsroom employees live in New York, Los Angeles or Washington, D.C.
Impact: One translation of these stats is “consolidation.” And, that wouldn’t be wrong. More consolidation means fewer outlets to pitch, which we have definitely seen in recent years. Also, the notion of deskside briefings or actually meeting your media partners may be a thing of the past–and definitely will be for the foreseeable future with COVID (unless you live in New York, Washington D.C. or LA). So, finding ways to cement relationships virtually will be more important than ever. From recent reports, reporters still like to communicate via email with PRs, but maybe you sprinkle in a phone call once in a while, or a Zoom call. After all, reporters are human, too. They’re craving interactions. A simple, 10 minute phone call might go a long way in developing that relationship right now!
Trend #3: The problem of the paywall.
Supporting stat: According to the study by Felix Simon and Lucas Graves, more than two-thirds of leading newspapers (69%) across the EU and US were operating some kind of online paywall as of 2019, a trend that has increased since 2017 according to the researchers, with the US seeing an increase from 60% to 76%.
Impact: I’ve been harping on this one for years–because it’s a BIG deal for PRs. With the majority of newspapers now having paywalls (and more trade pubs every day), the reach of that story you just got placed is extremely limited. As in, limited to paying readers of the publication. That means, no sharing on social (even though we see that all the time–super frustrating for readers!). And, it also means no sharing anywhere else you’d like to–enewsletters, your intranet or in sales materials (not unless you flip for the PDF, which will cost you many thousands of dollars in some cases). The paywall is a big problem. As a fan of journalism, I’m all for paywalls. But, as a PR, it’s a huge obstacle. Huge.
Trend #4: Local news has a capital shortage.
Supporting quote: “There may not be enough philanthropic capital, even on the sidelines, to support the scope and depth of local news-gathering that our democracy requires.”
Impact: This comes to no surprise to anyone who follows local news. Newspapers are struggling. Local TV stations, too. And, to date, to shore up those gaps, they’ve turned to philanthropic partners. But, is that sustainable? Will it last? Those are the big questions this Nieman Lab article explores, and they’re interesting for anyone who cares about local news. On the PR front, this could mean a big change in how (and if) we pitch local news. With more consolidation, you see local news running more stories from the network. That trend will probably continue. Real, feet-on-the-ground reporting is tougher to come by. We need to adjust our plans accordingly.
A couple weeks ago, I had coffee (actual in-person coffee!) with the wonderful Laura King. We had never met before, but I’ve been a fan from afar for quite some time.
We talked about jobs. We talked about her Marketers Community. And, of course, we talked about networking.
We talked about the absolute importance of networking–especially in these tough times. And, we lamented how some just don’t understand how it works. How many are approaching it completely the wrong way. I’ve been seeing way too much of this recently.
I’ve written about this topic before (many times, in fact). But, Laura brought up a phrase that I thought packaged the approach I believe in nicely: Just network like a human.
Here’s what I think that looks like in action:
First step–become friends, Second step–figure out how to work together/help each other
The challenge here is that many start with the latter and never really move to the former. I propose the exact opposite. Start with the intent to just become friends. Get to know the person (see next bullet). Ask them a bunch of questions (see third bullet). Just like you would if you were on a first date, really. This networking “courtship” will last a while. I made a new connection right before the pandemic. He was a senior-level guy who had just been laid off. We talked about kids. School. Work. And, most importantly, we stayed in touch. We’ve talked a few times during the pandemic via phone. Again, work, school, kids, sports. Just getting to know each other. It’s been six months–and we’re still getting to know each other. That’s how networking works. Start small. Start personal. Get to know the other person before you start making big asks and requests.
Find at least one point of common connection–and lead with it
It’s not that tough to learn more about someone before meeting them these days. In 2020, 99.5% of people are either on LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram. And you can learn a lot about someone from studying their profiles on one or more of those platforms. For example, I recently met with a young woman for the first time for coffee. In studying her LinkedIn profile, I learned that she had spent time at Olson (hey, I know people at Olson). On Facebook, I learned that she has three adorable little kids (hey, I have kids! And, I wonder how she’s managing that with the pandemic?). Three instant, personal conversation starters before we talk about anything else! That took all of about 2 minutes to research. This is not hard, folks. Always, always, start with a point of common connection–and there’s no question if you look hard enough, you will always find one.
Always have a list of questions–treat your first few interactions like you’re a reporter
Most networking advice says “be prepared.” And, I definitely won’t argue with that. But, I’d like to be more specific. Always show up with at least 5 questions to ask your networking companion. Write them down. In an actual notebook. Bring that notebook along. Open it up when you get there. And read the questions from it during the meeting. More than just “being prepared” and helping you stay organized, this exercise will demonstrate to your new professional friend that you did your homework and you’re interested in what they do. For example, I recently have a virtual coffee with the CMO of a local brand. I did my research and came prepared to the meeting with 4-5 questions I knew I wanted to ask him. This worked so well, at one point he said “Boy, I feel bad you did all this research on me and I did none!” That clearly wasn’t my intent, but it was a home run in terms of research. Always have your questions ready–no matter who you’re having coffee with.
Your first contact with someone can’t be an ask (instead, focus on what you can do to help them)
The first time you reach out to them, don’t make a single ask. It’s the cardinal sin of networking. I know not everyone will agree with that, but that’s been my approach over the years. Instead, like I said above, focus on getting to know the person. And, if you want huge bonus points, look for a creative way to help THEM! I’ve had numerous phone meetings with folks during the pandemic and in a number of them the person starts the conversation by introducing themselves, talking about their resume and asking me for advice! That’s the exact wrong thing to do. If you’re in job seeker mode, I know it feels weird, but you need to start small. Like I said up top, get to know the person. Ask THEM questions. Then, after a few months (I’d say a minimum of 2-3), you might be in a position to make an ask. This is also why I say you should ALWAYS be networking–not just when you need a job. If you do that, you’ll always find yourself having to make asks on the first coffee date, and that’s never going to turn out well.
Master the art of “the ping”
After meeting up for the first time (even if it’s virtual), you now want to stay in front of this person from time to time. That could be monthly. It could be quarterly. The timing is up to you. But, this phase is all about “the ping.” It’s a text message here. A tweet there. A direct message. Just a short note to say “hey, I was just thinking about you.” When you met up, maybe you discovered you’re both big fans of the State Fair. Maybe it’s a quick ping saying “hey, did you see that new drive-thru food pickup at the Fair! That would be awesome!” Doesn’t have to be much. But, these little pings keep you top-of-mind with your colleagues. This might not seem like the most “human” way to network, but in 2020, the ping should be a huge part of your networking approach.
Go above and beyond on promotions, new jobs and maybe even birthdays
What does EVERYONE do when it’s someone’s birthday in 2020? You leave them a “happy birthday” message on Facebook, right? What about a job promotion? LinkedIn automates the process for goodness sakes (you’ve seen this, right?). My advice: Instead of going through the motions and doing what everyone else is doing, separate yourself and do something DIFFERENT. Like (GULP) a phone call! On certain people’s birthdays, I used to call and sing happy birthday to them. That got some big laughs! Figure out a way to go above and beyond during these special occasions–you will stand out from the crowd and plus, it will just feel damn good.
Those are my pieces of advice for networking like a human. Take those and get out there and network! And, please, report back–I’d love to hear how it goes!
In case you haven’t noticed yet, Apple came out with a new iOS last week–iOS14, the biggest update Apple has unveiled in some time.
I would encourage you to watch one of the many videos about the update–like this one below–for your personal use. Lots of updates that are pretty darn useful.
But, today I wanted to talk about some of the updates I thought would be useful to you, as a communicator or social media marketer–because, there are a number that could impact your day job, in addition to your personal use.
In my initial research, here are just a few of the updates that I think communicators and social media marketers should be paying attention, and how it impacts your job:
Widgets for your home screen
You’ve probably heard the most buzz so far about widgets. These are small boxes you can add to your home screen to make it easier to get to important information. Now, there aren’t all that many widgets to choose from–yet. But, for communicators I like the “News” widget (keep on top of news as it happens); the calendar/deadline widget (see your to-dos and deadlines right on your home screen!) and the reminder widget (for lists, of course!). Find what works best for you–I’m sure Apple will be adding more in future updates.
Another big feature you’ve probably heard about. Not a game-changer, but think about the people at work you text most often–your boss, your teammates, your clients, even. Wouldn’t it make sense to pin some of those folks right to the top of your text app so they’re easy to find at a moment’s notice? (Also: If anyone can help me figure out how to get these damn spam messages from Republican PACs off my phone, I will pay you a lot of money!)
Audio messages via Siri
I know, I know. Audio messages aren’t new. But, this particular functionality is–and it’s a very cool add for any communicator or social media marketer. I’m already thinking about all the texts I’ll be sending when I’m in the car now! Think of all that dead time in the car–now you can be sending audio text messages to teammates, clients and others within your organizations. This one is a big deal for me–I just hope people like receiving the audio messages!
Faster shooting on the Apple camera
iOS14 had a very different changes to the camera functionality. But, the biggest one for communicators and social media marketers is definitely the ability to shoot faster. As in, 90% faster than all previous updates! Just go into Settings-Camera and click “Prioritize Faster Shooting.” The camera, apparently, will “intelligently adapt image quality when rapidly pressing the shutter.” For as many pics as we take for our clients and companies on our phones, this one seems like a potentially big deal.
New ways to filter photos
Another change to your photos–the ability to filter by favorites. Might not seem like a big deal, but I see this as a great way to favorite client/company photos and make them much more accessible. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve went digging through the pics on my phone to find that one client photo I took three months ago. That process can take me 10 minutes! By favoriting these client/company photos, you can get to them in seconds–not 10-15 minutes.
Those are just my initial reactions. I’m sure I’ll find more features in this update that are useful for my professional life. What have you found so far that’s helpful for you as a communicator in the iOS14 update?
During the pandemic, I’ve been lucky enough (emphasis on LUCKY) to secure a few new clients. One of those has been Stacia Nelson owner and founder of Pivot Strategies. However, it hasn’t been my typical consulting arrangement.
Stacia hired me—in part—to help her find her voice on social media, especially LinkedIn. Her posts have helped her share more and build confidence–and in the process it has also increased awareness about her company. Now, this coaching role is one I’ve played in the past, but rarely (if ever) with a local agency owner. After all, in some cases I compete with agencies like Pivot.
I took the gig–and I’m so glad I did. Stacia is an ideal client and an absolute blast to work with. I look forward to our conversations every week. But, I’ve also found myself really enjoying the coaching piece of it, too. The feeling is similar to what I felt at the University of St. Thomas this year when I started as an adjunct professor.
I like the people part of it (chatting on the phone, or in-person every week). I like the listening part of it (I recently wrote about this). And, I like the consultative back-and-forth nature of it. Often, I leave those calls with Stacia with many ideas–hopefully not as many as I provide to her, but it’s energizing!
Like I said, this isn’t the first time I’ve served as a coach. I’ve played that role with many clients and many executives over the years. Clients like Sleep Number and Trane have hired me to do coaching and training sessions on how to best use social media marketing to meet needs and goals in the past.
So, I’m officially formalizing this service–I will now offer Talking Points Social Media Coaching as a package outlined below.
Talking Points Social Media Coaching
Who it’s for:
- Marketers/Communicators looking to up their social media games
- Senior-level agency-side folks looking to use social to drive business/reputation for the firm.
- Senior executives looking to use social media (LinkedIn, specifically) to advance their personal brand and their business goals.
- 1-2 monthly hour-long meetings to review social media activity
- LinkedIn and other social media account evaluation and analysis
- Feedback on weekly/monthly posts
- Content ideation and suggestions
Cost: Contact me for pricing info (note: There is a minimum monthly contract length)
Excited to start doing more coaching. If you’re interested at all, send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy to talk more!