How to Pick the Best Social Media Platform for Your Brand’s 24-hour disappearing ‘Story’

On March 9, Facebook rolled out a new feature merged into its Messenger chat application called “Day.” Inspired by Snapchat, it allows you to post video or image content that lasts for 24 hours. Afterwards, your posted content disappears.

Facebook is not the first social network to copy Snapchat’s innovative Stories feature. Instagram has done the same (also calling their feature “Stories”). The previous month, WhatsApp followed suit, adding an update to their “Status” feature.

As a business owner, you can use these features to capture a sense of spontaneity and engage with your customers. But which network should you choose? We explore the pros and cons of each platform.

Facebook Messenger Day

Facebook Monthly Active Users: 1.23 billion daily active users

Facebook Largest Demographic: 25-34, followed by 35-44, 18-24, and 45-54

Facebook Messenger Day Pros: Because it’s brand new, fewer people use Facebook Messenger Day, which means your posts may not get lost in the crowd. This is ample livestream “real estate” to broadcast your day to people who otherwise may not use livestreaming platforms. Additionally, Facebook is still the most popular social network with the largest overall reach. As Messenger Day matures, this may ultimately result in a broader reach than you will find elsewhere. Facebook’s demographics are well distributed among middle-aged users. If your business is targeting a middle-aged demographic, this would be the perfect livestream feature to capture their attention.

Facebook Messenger Day Cons: Because Facebook Messenger Day is still new, your reach may be limited. Functionality is lacking in a few areas as well. There is still no indication that Frames are available for use with Day posts, which restricts geographic discoverability. Day also does not work with Facebook pages right now; it’s only available to individual users. That means you must use a personal account, which may be difficult if all of your business content is on your company fan page. Facebook Messenger Day is also still missing features that exist on Snapchat and Instagram, such as 3D stickers, swipeable filters and brush styles.

Instagram Stories

Instagram Monthly Active Users: 600 million

Instagram Largest Demographic: 25-34, followed by 18-24

Instagram Stories Pros: Instagram is arguably the best overall choice for most businesses. This social network has more monthly active users than Snapchat. While it has fewer active users than Facebook or WhatsApp, Instagram Stories is far more established than Day or Status. For right now, it provides the best reach. Instagram is particularly popular with millennials, making it ideal to reach the younger generation. Like Snapchat, Instagram is well established and sports numerous features like brush styles and GIF capture. So, you can customize your posts—perfect for letting your employees showcase your corporate culture.

Instagram Stories Cons: Instagram is a particularly popular network among marketers, so you may find yourself vying for attention. This is because Instagram is well established as a visual platform and provides a broader reach than Snapchat.

Snapchat

Snapchat Monthly Active Users: 301 million

Snapchats Largest Demographic: 18-24

Snapchat Pros: Twenty-three percent of Snapchat users are between the ages of 13 and 17. So, if you’re targeting gen Z, Snapchat will provide you with fine-tuned visibility. It has many advanced features like 3D stickers and the ability to export to other platforms, so you can customize your posts. Another advantage is that Snapchat is well established and was the leader in developing this feature. Because it was the original livestream, it still has the most “authentic” vibe.

Snapchat Cons: Snapchat is not as useful for reaching baby boomers and Instagram stories may be a more ideal platform for reaching millennials who are already active users of the platform. For this reason, its utility within a B2B context is limited.

WhatsApp Status

WhatsApp Monthly Active Users (as of January 2017): 1 billion

WhatsApp Largest Demographic: 25-34, followed by 35-44

WhatsApp Pros: As with Facebook Messenger Day, WhatsApp Status is relatively new in its current incarnation and not yet oversaturated. WhatsApp has a large user base and gives you access to a wide age distribution. Status updates are encrypted, perfect for reaching out privately to a single customer or associate. Another interesting feature about WhatsApp is that it was designed specifically for use on mobile devices, which may make Status the perfect choice for B2B posts in an industry, such as construction, where mobile technology is pervasive.

WhatsApp Cons: Like Messenger Day, this version of Status is not well established, which will restrict reach in the immediate future. Because it’s still in the early stages, it lacks the advanced features available on Snapchat and Instagram Stories.

Ruby Media Groups Picks:

  • Best for overall reach: Instagram stories
  • Best for targeting Millennials and gen Z: Snapchat, Instagram stories
  • Best for targeting baby boomers: Facebook Messenger Day
  • Best for privacy: WhatsApp
  • Best for mobile reach: WhatsApp
  • Best for customization: Snapchat, Instagram Stories
  • Best for geographic discoverability: Instagram Stories, Snapchat

Differences in demographics and reach make one platform more appropriate for your brand than the rest. Evaluate your target market and choose the platform that will best reach your customers.

The days of static social media are long gone. It’s no longer enough to post a photo and hope for the best. Every social network is clamoring for your attention and encouraging users to livestream their day. Without taking advantage of these livestream features, you may be missing out on a core functionality of where social media is headed.

Kris Ruby is the CEO of Ruby Media Group, a public relations and social media agency. Ruby is a frequent on-air TV contributor and speaks on social media, tech trends and crisis communications. For more information, visit rubymediagroup.com or krisruby.com

 

Photo Credit: Kara Hendrick, Women in Digital


PR Don’ts: 11 Ways to Annoy a Journalist

These common faux pas will ensure that you’ll get cut from their story

Congratulations! A reporter wants to include you in a story. Whether it’s because your site is optimized or you’re highly visible on social media, a journalist has found you and is interested in writing about your business. However, a journalist finding you is just the starting point. Every word you say to a reporter from the second they reach out to you until the story goes live matters.

Here are the 10 most common ways to annoy a journalist and risk getting cut from a story.

  1. Speaking in industry jargon. There is a reason people hire publicists: They know how to speak journalists’ language. Publicists know what journalists are looking for, when they are looking for it, and how they want to consume it. If a reporter reaches out to you, do not start speaking in industry jargon. A reporter wants the simplest version that their readers will understand. They want you to break down your story in a way that makes sense to consumers—not to other people in your industry. They are coming to you because you’re an expert. Boil down your points so they are digestible to the masses.
  2. Answering 10 hours later. Reporters are working on deadlines. Typically, a reporter is working on several different stories at once, not just the one they emailed you about. The sources that get back to them the fastest are most likely to be included in their story. If you answer them 10 hours later, they might already be working on their next story. If you see an email with “Press Request” or “Jane Doe from X News,” be sure to prioritize it.
  3. Referring them to your publicist who doesn’t answer. If you hire a PR person to handle your media, make sure they are responsible. The worst mistake you can make as a business owner is referring a journalist to your press person, only to have them answer a week later. If you notice your PR person hasn’t answered a reporter within one to two hours, it’s time to find someone new. Your PR person should be optimizing your chances for press coverage, not diminishing them.
  4. Blowing their story on social media. If a reporter invites you in to film a segment, listen very carefully to what they ask you to do. If they say, “No photos or videos from this can be leaked on social media until after the story is published,” do not post anything. Recently, I filmed a behind the scenes segment for a story I was working on and the source leaked the entire story on Instagram Live. I will not include them in any further stories. If you’re that impatient for a story to go live that you have to leak it on social media, you don’t deserve to be in the story.
  5. Asking them to pay for things. If a journalist is interested in featuring your product in a story, it’s important to pay any associated costs that go along with this. If you don’t, you make it very difficult from them to try the product and ultimately feature you. If a journalist wants to feature your product, do not ask them to pay for the product, the shipping of your product, or your travel expenses to get it in their hands. If you are lucky enough to be considered, bite the bullet and pay the associated costs.
  6. Asking multiple times when the story is coming out. Once a story is filed, a journalist has to deal with several other departments. First, the story has to pass through their editors. Then, the story may have to go through the art department. When the story comes back to you, there may be new edits you want, which starts the whole process again. A journalist does not owe you an explanation of when their story is live. If you’re concerned, set up a Google alert for the journalist’s name and outlet so that you receive a notification when it comes out. Don’t annoy a journalist by asking when an article is coming out. Most of the time, they don’t know.
  7. Promoting a story without tagging the journalist on social media. Journalists are all competing to get eyeballs on their writing. If you’re lucky enough to be included in a story, journalists want to see that you’re promoting the link on your social media accounts. Don’t make a faux pax by promoting the link without including the journalists handle on Twitter or Instagram. Journalists pay attention to which sources are social media savvy. If you push their content, it doesn’t go unnoticed.
  8. Copping an attitude. If a journalist is including you, do not harass them. A journalist is featuring your product and helping you increase sales, so if you cop an attitude with them, why would they ever want to include you? A journalist is not concerned with how prominently your product is featured; they’re concerned with the facts of the story. The more you make it about you, the less credibility you have.
  9. Sending PDF’s. If a journalist asks for your press kit, do not send them a PDF. If a journalist has to copy and paste your PDF into word, many times the characters don’t show up or there is a break in the code. You want to make their life easier, not harder. Also, be sure to include product “blurbs” or descriptions in whatever press materials you give them. If you ever wonder why certain products have longer descriptions than others, this is why. If you don’t give a journalist source material to pull from, your paragraph will be shorter.
  10. Sending broken Dropbox links. If a journalist asks for your press kit and you send them a Dropbox link, do not deactivate the link after one day. Most of the time, the journalist may not open up the Dropbox link until the night before their deadline. If you deactivated the link, how are they supposed to pull your information for the story?
  11. Asking for changes after a story is published. Finally, if a journalist includes you in a story, do not badger them about making changes after the story goes live. If you want to ask them to change the spelling of your company name, that’s fine. But do not ask them to change what they have written about your company. Also, do not ask them to change website URL’s and descriptor text because your marketing manager said it would help you rank better on Google. This is a completely inappropriate ask. You have control over your assets on your site, not over another publication’s.

When you are communicating with journalists, remember to be appreciative. Journalists work hard to put together stories. Many of the journalists today are contributing writers for publications, in addition to having full-time jobs (such as myself). Journalists are very aware of the promotion you’re getting (for free) by being included in a story. Having a basic understanding of this dichotomy will take you far. If you are lucky enough to be included in a story, follow these tips and don’t blow it! If you make these mistakes, don’t be surprised if you “die on the chopping block floor” as the old saying goes.

Kris Ruby is the CEO of Ruby Media Group, a public relations and social media agency. Ruby is a frequent on air TV commentator and speaks on social media, tech trends and crisis communications. For more information, visit rubymediagroup.com or krisruby.com

 


The Edible Selfie Experience: 10 Delicious Ways to ‘Share’ Your Face on Social Media

These are the best choices for printing your social media photos on food

Remember how hard it used to be to have a custom made birthday cake with your photo on it? Now—thanks to the rising edible selfie industry—a few companies are changing that. Through portable experiential technology and social media integration, it’s easier than ever to have your social media photos printed on edible items. Long gone are the days when you had to email a photo for these items manually. Now, you can upload them and have them delivered the next day with your edible selfie at your doorstep.

Edible selfie experiences are changing the event industry. Several companies have created portable experiential technology that can print your on a macaroon or a latte on the spot. Edible selfie machines are even replacing photo booths at weddings.

To test this trend out, I reached out to the top players in the edible selfie world. I handed over my Instagram handle, and the rest was history! As more companies discover how profitable it is to offer edible selfie experiences, this will become an increasingly competitive business.

From macaroons to Rice Krispies treats, this list of the top edible selfies is sure to leave you hungry. Eat your heart out (or face!).

Selfie Macaroon

Selfie Macaroons by Makelab

Forget regular photo booths; selfie food photo booths are all the rage. MakeLab, an event technology studio in Toronto, offers 3D printers, laser cutters and food photo booths. Their designers, technologists and food scientists create interactive events around the world. Guests grab their camera, snap the perfect selfie, and watch as their photos are laser-caramelized onto colorful French macaroons. If you’re looking to have edible selfie macaroons at a big event, these are the perfect choice.

Selfie Latte

Selfie Latte by Selffee

Using only FDA approved and flavorless dyes, consumers can sip their image, which is printed directly onto a drinkable latte within minutes. Selffee, a startup, has plans to expand to meet the growing demands of the public to “eat their face.” Currently, the company can print edible selfies on iced coffee, iced tea, cookies, cupcakes, milkshakes and marshmallows. Simply snap, print and sip! Founders David Weiss and Farsh Kanji launched the company specifically to create edible selfies at live events. The coolest part? They can even print your selfie on coffee! Now that is Instaworthy.

Selfie Marshmallows

Selfie Marshmallows by Boomf

Boomf is the ultimate edible selfie digital machine. Simply upload your Instagram photos directly to their website, and they’ll mail you customized selfie marshmallows or even selfie chocolate. Their packaging is especially clever. Boomf is the ultimate gift for the Instagram addict in your life.

Selfie M&M’s

Selfie M&M’s by My M&M’s. 

My M&M’s has created an entire site for designing your own set of personal selfie M&M’s. I was extremely impressed with the user-friendly experience. You can design your own M&M’s by choosing custom colors, uploading your selfie, and adding in your favorite hashtag. The best part is that you can see an image of what your custom designed M&M’s will look like before you purchase them. Simply design it, package it and share it. My selfie M&M’s arrived in a stunning round acrylic black gift box surrounded by satin mesh. I personalized my M&M’s with the hashtag #Instaworthy.

Rice Krispie Selfies

Rice Krispie Selfies by Edible Gifts Plus. 

If you want to see your selfie on a jumbo rice krispie treat or 8 x10 cookie card, Edible Gifts Plus is a perfect choice. I was shocked to see a crystal clear image of one of my photos placed on a giant rice krispie treat picture sheet laced with white chocolate. I could never imagine eating it because it looks just like a real picture. Edible Gifts Plus will also take your photos and put them on rice krispie selfie photo pops. All of their edible selfies come beautifully wrapped and look top notch—perfect for client gifts. This company gives new meaning to the term “edible art” as an artist truly designed each piece.

iPhone Instabites

iPhone Instabites by Kellies Baking Co.

Kellies Baking Co. has been so successful with edible selfies that they launched a collection called Instabites. Instabites includes iPhone photo cookies, Instagram selfie cookies and a specialty selfie instacookie gift set. The instacookie gift set is beautifully packaged and features all of your Instagram photos on miniature cookies. All of the instabites are far too pretty to eat, but perfect to include in your Instagram stories to make your friend’s jealous of your Insta deliciousness!

Instalolli

Instalollis by Vintage Confections. 

Vintage Confections launched a line dedicated to creating customized lollipops with your Instagram photos. To make your very own “Instalolli,” choose your favorite images from your Instagram feed and connect your feed directly to their site. They will produce nine lollipops with your Instagram images.

Selfie 3D Chocolate Lollipops

Selfie 3D Chocolate Lollipops by Candy Mechanics. Kaitlyn Flannagan for Observer

Candy Mechanics created a 3D consumable edible selfie product that can be made directly from your smartphone. If you’re looking to see a 3D version of your head made out of chocolate, then this is for you. To make your cranial selfie chocolate lollipop, take a video of your head and upload it to their site. It’s then rendered as a 3D model and carved into chocolate. It’s so fun to see your head in chocolate!

Selfie Cookie

Selfie Cookie by DeelishableKaitlyn Flannagan for Observer

I was first exposed to the edible selfie world when I received a box of gourmet Deelishable selfie cookies when filming my show for BRAVO. In addition to your selfies, Deelishables will put magazine covers, book covers, and full-blown TV appearances directly on cookies. These selfie cookies come custom wrapped with ribbon and sprinkles, making them extra glamorous.

Gluten Free Selfie Cookies

Selfie Cookies by #Selfiecookie. Kaitlyn Flannagan for Observer

#Selfiecookie is touted as one of the first companies to tie edibles into not just pictures, but the entire modern sensibility around photos and social networking. It was created as a physical extension of existing social media activity. With #Selfiecookie, you can put your best Instagram moments on cookies from New York and send them anywhere in the world for next day delivery. Bonus: customers can choose from chocolate chip, red velvet, sugar, oatmeal, double chocolate chip, and gluten-free chocolate chip for their #selfiecookies.

Kris Ruby is the CEO of Ruby Media Group, a public relations and social media agency. Ruby is a frequent on air TV contributor and speaks on social media, tech trends and crisis communications. For more information, visit rubymediagroup.com or krisruby.com


10 Ways to Leverage Instagram Albums for Business

Utilize the new feature to increase your visual storytelling capabilities

One of the most buzzed about social media changes in 2017 is the new Instagram update known as “Instagram galleries,” “Instagram albums,” or simply “carousel.”

You may be familiar with carousel ads, which Instagram had as a paid feature. Now, that same feature is available for free to all users to share their stories. The carousel feature lets users upload up to 10 videos and static images in a single Instagram post. This feature is ideal for social media managers and content creators who are looking to increase visual storytelling capabilities on social media platforms. It’s also ideal for those who struggle to choose just one image for an Instagram post.

How can you take advantage of the new carousel feature to promote your business? Here are 10 ideas.

  1. Team member carousels. This helps your customers build a relationship with your business. Take a picture of each team member and post it in one carousel along with a group shot at the end to showcase your corporate culture. Utilize the “Boomerang” feature to make this carousel come to life.
  2. Before-and-after carousels. Does your brand run photo challenge contests on Instagram? Put a new twist on the tried and true idea by challenging your customers to submit before-and-after shots, showing how your product has transformed their lives. If you are a cosmetic dentist, you could share a series of before-and-after cosmetic makeover photos, demonstrating your services.
  3. Case study carousels. Use a carousel to showcase your best case studies. Figure out how to bring your work to life by leveraging video and photography, and showcase your top 10 case studies in a carousel. This is a great way to show off your success by leveraging a visual medium. Get creative with how you want to tell the story. No one wants to read basic case studies, so use Instagram to make them come to life. Tag customers and brands that you are referencing for an added bonus.
  4. Thematic album carousels. If you are business-to-business (B2B), the ability to create themed carousels is a great way to take advantage of Instagram albums. For example, you can create a carousel on your company’s top press moments or a carousel with the best photos at your company’s Breast Cancer Walk.
  5. New product carousels. Post a carousel with close-ups and a video of the product in one album. This will allow your customers to see your product from all angles without feeling like they have been spammed with a bunch of posts in their feed. Imagine being able to show off a clothing item from all sides or demonstrate how to use a complex appliance in a single post.
  6. Behind-the-scenes carousels. Buyers who are passionate about a brand love to get the inside scoop into how a product is manufactured and how a creative team brainstorms ideas. The carousel format is perfect for sharing these behind the scenes moments. Behind the scenes footage will make your customers and associates feel like they were right there with you.
  7. Product demo carousels. If you are looking to promote a specific product from all angles, Instagram carousel is a great option. Post close-up photos and a demo, and customers will be able to visualize themselves using your products, which may give your bottom line a crucial boost.
  8. New line/collection carousels. If your business involves clothing, use a carousel to pinpoint each item in a look. This is great for your new spring arrivals. Highlighting each item of clothing from your spring collection will inspire your customers to try out new styles and imitate what you share. This is the perfect opportunity to tag brands so your customers can find other clothes they might enjoy from the spring collection.
  9. Sequential tutorial carousels. If you sell a cooking ingredient or kitchen appliance, you could use a sequence of images or videos to walk followers through a recipe, which might inspire them to purchase your product. If your company sells surfboards, you can share a sequence of videos and images to help new surfers get started with their first board. This may be all someone needs to take the plunge and make a purchase after seeing how to use the product.
  10. “Best of” album carousels. If you are a celebrating your companies fifth anniversary, put together a “best of” album showcasing your top moments over the years. For example, you could choose one image to represent the best of each of your five years in business.

After you have chosen the images for your Instagram album, be sure to tag all featured brands in the post. Also, if you are including multiple photos or videos in a carousel, remember to shoot in a horizontal format. If you want to reorder the slideshow images, tap and hold an image to move it from the beginning to the end. You can drag it to change the order or delete a photo from the post altogether. You also have the option of filtering all the posts with the same filter or individually.

Instagram albums are brand new, so jump ahead of the competition and leverage carousels to gain visibility for your business before everyone else starts doing it. The goal is to figure out how to take content and use social media to tell the story in a new, social media friendly way. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the changes in the social media networks. Instead, focus on the story you want to tell, and leverage the networks to help you tell your brand’s story.

Kris Ruby is the CEO of Ruby Media Group, a Public Relations and Social Media Agency. Kris Ruby is a frequent on air TV contributor and speaks on social media, tech trends and crisis communications. For more information, visit rubymediagroup.com or www.krisruby.com


10 Workplace Etiquette Mistakes You’re Making on Social Media

You walked into work this morning and headed to your cubicle as usual, but you couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. When you went to get your coffee in the break room, several of your co-workers looked at you and whispered. When you passed your boss in the hall, she made an excuse not to talk to you. You can’t help but wonder: Was it that political post you made on Facebook last night? Was it your weekend party photo on Instagram? Was it that late night drunken tweet?

Most importantly, is it going to cost you your job?

Workplace etiquette has always been a nebulous, confusing social territory even before the days of social media. Professional boundaries and personal boundaries of behavior are very different. Social media further blurs the line between the two, making it harder than ever to know the appropriate social cues and responses.

If you worry that you’re making gaffes with social media that could cost you your job, you could be right.

Here are 10 workplace etiquette social media blunders to avoid:

1. Posting photos during business hours

There is nothing wrong with posting endless photos of your baby or your dog in private, but steer clear of posting all of this during business hours. After you have posted the 500th photo of your baby, your employer may begin to question what your top priority is. Of course, not every post should be about work; balance is essential.

2. Friending co-workers you don’t know

If you know your colleagues well and you chat a lot at the office, it might make sense to add them on social media. But if you don’t have a close relationship with a colleague, adding them on Facebook or Snapchat might just be awkward. After all, you avoid talking in the break room, so why would you want to connect online?

The basic rule is this: online boundaries should be a reflection of offline boundaries. If you try to cross one of those lines on the web, it could potentially lead to an uncomfortable situation.

3. Not understanding how each social media network works

LinkedIn is the best social media platform for connecting with colleagues and staying in touch. However, it should not be used the same way Facebook or Twitter is used. Your LinkedIn connections want to see work anniversaries, business blogs and press mentions. They don’t want to see party photos or personal content. If you’re going to be on the social media sites, follow the rules for what is socially (and professionally) acceptable to post on each one.

4. Being overly personal on social media

This is perhaps the biggest workplace blunder I hear people complain about behind co-workers backs. The people who work with you do not want to hear an endless saga from you about your failed marriage or your financial woes. It makes them see you in a different light. Eventually, they will unfollow you on Facebook because it’s nicer than unfriending you altogether. Therapists are for venting, not Facebook.

5. Not being discreet about your Facebook groups

Joining groups on Facebook is one of the primary reasons people like to use it. However, most people don’t realize that your groups can often be visible to your Facebook friends. If you don’t want your co-workers to see that you’re part of the Overeaters Anonymous Facebook group, you may want to consider joining other groups. Even if you’re able to successfully hide your groups, when someone goes to join a group, it will still tell them which of their friends are in that group. Additionally, anyone in the group can screenshot your private posts in the group, which can leak out beyond social media.

6. Mis-using live stories

This pertains to Facebook Live, Snapchat, and Instagram Live. All are these are great if you want to embrace live sharing. However, if you start watching a previous co-workers Instagram Live story, remember that they can see who is watching them. At some point, it begins to look stalker-ish if you watch peoples stories that you had a bad relationship with. The same is true for any of the live sharing social media sites. When you look at an Instagram photo, no one can tell unless you like it. When you look at an Instagram story, the poster knows who is watching.

7. Breaking dinner table rules

Just like your mother said, you should never discuss politics, sex, or religion at the dinner table. These rules apply to the office, and, if your boss or co-workers can see your posts, that means they also apply on social media. We don’t always think about what we are doing when we comment on someone else’s political post online. But if those posts are in public, you could end up regretting it the next day when someone screenshots it and uses it against you. In today’s divisive political climate, the wrong political remark could cost you your job.

8. Not filtering your posts 

On Facebook, you can filter your posts, and on Google Plus, you can add people to different Circles. These systems allow you to only share content with certain people in your life. Filters allow you to share things with family or friends that you aren’t comfortable sharing with your co-workers. If you aren’t using filters, groups, and circles, you are publicly posting everything.

9. Sharing without reading

How often do you re-share a video or an article without actually watching or reading the entire thing? Our online profiles are curated reflections of our personalities. But while we are busy skimming content and re-sharing what we think reflects our views, we can sometimes miss key details. For example, you might share an article because you like the headline—but later you find out the headline is misleading and the content does not represent your feelings at all. Always read or watch content in full before you share it so that you are clear on what you are endorsing.

10. Not checking up on what your friends and family are posting

Finally, you aren’t the only one who can destroy your professional reputation; friends and family can too if they are indiscreet with their tagging. Adjust your settings so that people need to ask your permission before they tag you. Your boss may have very different political views than your mom does, so keep them separate to be safe.

Social media should tell a story about you that you would be comfortable sharing with your boss. Regularly post updates that help to cultivate a story of professional dedication and success, and avoid sharing content that tells a story you don’t want bosses, co-workers or headhunters to hear.

Kris Ruby is the CEO of Ruby Media Group, a Public Relations and Social Media Agency. Kris Ruby is a frequent on air TV contributor and speaks on social media, tech trends and crisis communications. For more information, visit rubymediagroup.com or www.krisruby.com

Follow Kris Ruby on Twitter @rubymediagroup and @sparklingruby

©2017 Ruby Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Top 10 Signs You Shouldn’t Hire a Publicist

PR requires patience, dedication, and practice

 

There are a ton of articles floating around about why you should hire a PR firm. I wrote an article on it last year. But what I didn’t delve into is all of the reasons why not to hire a PR firm. Having run a PR company for almost a decade now, I can quickly assess who is going to be a good client fit. If I sense certain red flags, nine times out of 10, I will walk away from the business prior to the start of a new client relationship.

Here’s why: PR is not for everyone. PR is expensive, time consuming, and it requires a lot of work from the client as well as the agency.

If you fit one of the below, I recommend not hiring a publicist.

You want instant, overnight results. If you are someone who likes instant gratification, you will be unhappy with any publicist you hire, unless their rolodex is made of gold. As a PR practitioner, I rarely meet other publicists who pick up the phone, dial an editor at Vogue, and instantly get their clients written about. That kind of myth is a remnant that still exists from the old days of PR. Publicity takes work. No matter how strong the publicist’s relationship with an outlet is, if the story isn’t strong enough, then the reporter isn’t going to cover it.

You don’t want to do any work. This is the biggest issue that I encounter in the PR industry today. People hire a publicist the way they hire an accountant. They think that they can hire a vendor, speak to them a few times a year, and that publicity will magically happen. In reality, PR requires daily engagement from the client side. The clients who are happiest with PR results put the most amount of time into driving the client-agency relationship. They read the news, send stories to their publicists to pitch, and write back to their publicists with thoughtful responses to HARO queries. In short, they put in the time. PR is like a sport. It requires patience, dedication, and practice.

You don’t have the time to provide the necessary thought leadership content. As an industry, PR has shifted. Most clients don’t want press placements anymore; they want digital placements. To do this, a solid amount of time is required from the client side to provide thought leadership tips for content creation. For example, if you are a neurosurgeon and you hire a publicist, it is not their job to ghost tips for you. They simply can’t because they don’t have your knowledge base. Unless you’re looking for low quality work from a content farm, you need to send your PR person what they are asking for. They can’t promote your greatness without the core knowledge that only you possess.

You expect PR to translate into sales. Your PR person is not your Director of Sales. This is the number one reason most agencies get fired: clients are unhappy that the placements didn’t generate a massive uptick in sales. The role of a publicist is to formulate stories that get the media’s attention and result in a placement. If a publicist is getting you consistent placements, then they are doing what you hired them to do. The problem is when clients start complaining, “I know you got me a three-page spread, but it didn’t translate into new business.” That is the equivalent of saying to your dentist, “I know you filled my cavity, but you didn’t fix the pain in my jaw. The pain in your jaw should be seen by a doctor, not your dentist, and it’s not the dentist’s responsibility. The same goes for sales and PR.

You want to be “famous.” If you want to hire a publicist because you aspire to be famous, please don’t. Clients who hire publicists because they want to be famous are the worst clients. Saying you want to be famous is like saying you want to be President some day. What qualifies you to be famous? What is interesting about you? What star worthy quality do you have that makes you press worthy? Ego driven PR is not a strategy; it’s a waste of everyone’s time and money. Fame is the end product of many years of work in a specific industry. The publicist’s job is to bring attention to what you makes you special, not to make you special. 

You have nothing newsworthy to promote. I get that you have a new business. So does everyone. What makes it different? Why should the media write about it? If you haven’t thought these answers through, you need to. Unless you are looking for a one hit wonder PR campaign, you will be unhappy. Granted, it’s the publicist’s job to come up with these angles, but if you don’t have newsworthy content, the media won’t write about you. If you hire a PR person and have convinced yourself how newsworthy your story truly is, please don’t blame a publicist if they can’t get it placed. Your Mom thinking something is great is not the same thing as a reporter at Forbes thinking something is great.

You think PR will solve inherent business issues. A lot of people hire publicists thinking it will fix a core issue in their business. PR can’t solve these issues. If anything, it can make them worse. For example, if you are a Fortune 500 company and have constant turnover, chances are greater something pertaining to this story will come out while working with a PR person. The reason being that if a PR person secures a story on your company, any journalist worth his salt will start digging around and notice certain discrepancies. It’s best to have everything buttoned up before hiring a PR firm.

You saw a competitor on TV and now you want to be on TV. Believe it or not, this is one of the most commonly listed reasons that prospects come to me. They see someone else doing it, and therefore, they think they should be doing it. If you hire a publicist to get you on TV and they get you a hit, you are expected to drop everything you have for the day, close up shop, and run down to the city to do the hit. If you say no, the chances of the opportunity coming up again are slim to none. Are you really prepared to close your business for the day just because you saw someone else on TV?

You aren’t good with long-term commitments. When you hire a PR firm, you have to be in it for the long haul. The average agency retention rate is incredibly low; at the typical agency, every six months clients seek new agency representation. Clients run from agency to agency, thinking the problem was with the publicist. The truth is that you will be happier with your results if you stick with one firm for long enough. Most publicists won’t work on engagements for less than 6 months. If they are pitching long lead editorials, some of the placements may not even come out until after your relationship ends. The first one to three months of any new engagement requires a lot of upfront prep work, the next three months require heavy pitching. I rarely encounter a new client who is ready to go to media from day one. The best PR client I have has stayed with me for 6 years. They understand the business and are in it for the long haul.

You aren’t willing to drop everything for a press hit. When a reporter does answer; they want to speak to a client immediately. If you work in an industry where this just isn’t an option, then PR may not be the best approach. There is no worse feeling than getting a client a hit and not being able to do it. In the PR world, there is nothing more important than getting back to a reporter or producer. If you aren’t ready to drop everything to speak to them, then PR may not be right for you.

Kris Ruby is the CEO of Ruby Media Group, a Public Relations and Social Media Agency. Kris Ruby is a frequent on air TV commentator and speaks on social media, tech trends and crisis communications. For more information, visit www.rubymediagroup.com or www.krisruby.com

Follow Kris Ruby on Twitter @rubymediagroup and @sparklingruby

©2017 Ruby Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Why Content Marketing is Critical in the Age of Visual Marketing

With content marketing exploding in 2017, it has morphed from managing a company blog to building entire brand newsrooms and content libraries curated by an outside public relations agency or social media management firm. So why does your company need content integration and a newsroom?

For starters, a strategic social media campaign will be extremely bareboned without solid content to back it up. Content is a critical part of any social media campaign today. At least 2/3 of your outbound social media posts should include backlinks to content that is generated by your company that lives on your site.

According to marketing expert Neil Patel, brands who succeed at content marketing experience 7.8 times more site traffic than companies who are not crafting compelling, valuable content.

This 8% increase in eye traffic on your brand is one of the many reasons why every company should create a solid digital footprint and integrated content marketing strategy. A well thought out content strategy helps prospects find you when they are looking for your services. It also helps your bottom line if your content answers sales questions that representatives previously answered by phone. Additionally, great content creation will position you as an expert in your field more than a traditional press release ever will (press releases are dead). Well thought out content will also give you the trust factor you are looking to build with media, and provides media with usable snippets they can pull into articles.

Establishing a content library or newsroom takes a lot of work, and a lot of content. However, if you already have a public relations firm or social media management firm, they can help create content for you. This has become a critical function of the PR department as the lines between PR/Social Media/Marketing becoming further blurred together. If you already have retained a firm and want to try getting more bang for your buck this month, try having your PR firm work on content marketing for you, rather than pushing out traditional press releases (that no one is reading.)

Here’s how content marketing – in partnership with PR and social media pros — can boost your marketing efforts in 2017:

What’s a Content Library? All highly successful brands have built a well-planned and executed “content library.” Also called a “newsroom,” this digital information storage space includes everything from press releases to white papers, infographics, images and videos.  In fact, Fortune 500 companies build, populate and administrate completely separate websites just for journalists and editors. Mobile giant T-Mobile has three: 1) a consumer newsroom; 2) a media center for journalists; and 3) a social media “home” or library.

“Use content as your currency to create marketable content your prospects are seeking.”

What kind of content should I write about? Consider the journey your ideal clients follow to find your product or service. Go on a treasure hunt to discover all the keywords your current clients and potential prospects use to find your company and solve their problems. This includes long-form, problem-based keywords, solution-based keywords and casual language.

Tip: Use Buzzsumo to research the most highly shared articles in your industry to get ideas for what topics you should be writing about.

How can my publicist help me curate a content library? Public relations agencies and social media management firms know exactly what your content library should (and should not!) include. Your content library needs to provide solutions to your customers’ and prospects’ greatest challenges. If you deliver smart content to help make them become informed decision makers, then you can expect more highly qualified purchase decisions resulting in ideal new clients.

Don’t have a newsroom yet? One way to build a content library quickly is to repurpose old press releases by transforming them into blog posts, which can help secure backlinks and increase SEO.

Where do I distribute content? What’s the point of creating an entire content library if you don’t distribute it correctly? Once your content library is in place, make it available to as many distribution points as possible. This includes your company’s newsroom, blog, email marketing and all social media accounts – even Facebook Live or apps such as Snapchat and Instagram. All this fresh and “repurposed” content should attempt not just to entertain, but to educate, enlighten and go for “direct action” so your brand sees immediate results. Be sure your content can be easily redistributed by your brand’s fans and followers so it is easily shareable for consumers.

Need to create content quickly? Go to your sales team and have them ask current clients what they’d like to read when it comes to your business and then create content to educate them on those subjects.

How do I hire a content writer? Public relations professionals and social media management firms understand how to communicate with your different client “personas” by working with media-savvy specialty writers. Need to attract millennials? Or, how about middle-aged women with a certain amount of disposable income in Westchester County (or wherever your business may be located)? PR and social media management firms work with many different writers to capture not only the mind, but the voice of your niche market customers.

Choosing the perfect content writer for your company is like a treasure hunt. Remember, PR and social media management firms can help you hire the best writers who focus on solution-based keywords.

How do I format content? Formatting content is equally as important as the writing itself. Ever click out of a web page or a story just because it’s too long or unreadable? Think of the many ways your clients or potential clients want to consume media from your brand. For example, millennials want “punchy” copy with short sentences and bold headings. Baby boomers usually prefer longer, journalistic style articles. And Gen Z? They want to watch videos on their smartphones rather than read stories.

Need to revamp your brand? Sometimes bringing fresh content to the boardroom table can revitalize old school marketing materials and breathe new life into your brand.

The bottom line is this: Your brand’s content should help solve your prospects’ greatest challenges.   With a well-executed content library and consistent distribution, your company will stay top of mind and be positioned as a thought leader in your industry.

Ready to craft stellar a content strategy and distribution plan? Ruby Media Group brings years of PR consulting, content marketing and social media management expertise to help your company be even more successful in today’s diverse new media space.

Visit Ruby Media Group at www.rubymediagroup.com or Kris Ruby at www.krisruby.com.

For more information on optimizing your exposure with content marketing, contact kruby@rubymediagroup.com 

Follow Kris Ruby on Twitter @rubymediagroup and @sparklingruby

©2017 Ruby Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


BU COM Alumni Kris Ruby Leads Personal Branding Workshop for Executives

I was thrilled to lead an interactive personal branding workshop recently for Boston University’s College of Communications alumni. For the full webinar, click here: 

Do you recognize the need to establish a personal brand, yet are unsure how to do so? During this webinar, Ruby Media Group CEO & Social Media Expert Kris Ruby will teach you the top 5 ways to leverage social media and digital PR to build a brand to stand out from your competitors.

During the webinar, Kris Ruby (COM ’09) will cover the following key points:

  • How to be positioned as a source so the media calls on you for quotes
  • How to leverage content marketing to increase inbound interest in your brand
  • How to use social media to make new connections with members of the media

Webinar main topic / industry: PR, Marketing, Communications, Branding

Webinar Target Audience: Mid-level managers and senior executives with intermediate prior knowledge of social media

Kris Ruby (COM ’09) is the founder of Ruby Media Group (RMG), a full-service Public Relations and Social Media Agency. RMG specializes in creating award-winning integrated public relations and social media campaigns. Ruby works with top Executives to help position their brands in the ever-changing world of social media. Kristen graduated from Boston University’s College of Communication in 2009 with a major in Public Relations. Kris is one of America’s pre-eminent social media experts on social media and is a frequent on air contributor on FOX News, CNBC, GMA, The Today Show and more. Kris was chosen by the Business Council of Westchester as the youngest “40 Under 40″ Rising Stars. For more information, visit www.rubymediagroup.com or www.krisruby.com


How to Get Your Business Featured in Westchester Magazines

PR Tips to Gain Exposure in Print

Westchester PR firm shares how to get published in westchester magazines

Wondering how to get published in print publications, but not sure how to go about it without insider advice and connections? Then be sure to follow RMG’s top 12 tips on how to create media magic inside the pages of your favorite print publications.

As experts in public relations, we have secured numerous editorial placements for clients. Below, we boiled down years of pitching and securing print placements to give you our top advice on how to get your story told and featured in the print magazines you love most.

Top 12 Tips on How to Get Published in Print

1. Create a spectacular image-driven website. Lifestyle journalists and editors will go to your website first when considering covering your business in the pages of their glossy magazine. Not only are they looking to vet you as a credible business, but they are also looking with an art director’s eye at your corporate imagery. Does your company have at least a handful of drop dead gorgeous high-res images ready to go that are fresh and on trend? Be certain you use the “show, don’t tell” motto when it comes to brand imagery. Luckily, there are simple programs available to you today, so you don’t need to understand code to design an attractive site.

2. Produce your own media. A common mistake that entrepreneurs make is forgetting to create their own media before, during and after a client engagement. Capturing multimedia (images, videos, memes and even livestreams) is more important than ever when it comes to digital marketing. All of these assets can provide valuable social proof to an editor from a third party perspective on why you are the best at what you do. So, make certain to discuss the possibility of “capturing media” with your clients before you start your next project so you can leverage it in the pitching process.

3. Hire a photographer. Want to woo a magazine editor with your images? Look inside the publication you most covet and check out the photo credits. Is there an award-winning photographer the magazine uses over and over? Hire the photographer for your next post-project photo shoot. Then, leverage the images and share them with the media the next time they are considering covering you.

4. Send images in the correct format: Jpeg? Tiff file? High res? Low res? No, this isn’t a foreign language; just standard formats for sending images. High-resolution images are required for print publication, but the huge files can clog—or crash—an editor’s inbox, so consider sending images via Dropbox or other cloud sharing sites.

5. Do your media research and pitch accordingly. Targeting media correctly is an art. And it takes a lot of time and pinpointed research. Conduct detailed background research of other local, regional and blog outlets that you want your business to appear in. Remember to focus on your niche market and find the publication that best covers your areas of expertise.

6. Determine the correct editor and use email. Score! You have the list of publications you want to appear in ready to go. Next, it is time to determine which writers and editors at each magazine would cover your story. The goal is to find the golden egg: their email address. While this may sound easy, editors are especially adept at keeping their email addresses private. This is why PR firms pay big bucks to have instant access to media research and aggregation services (such as Cision). Plus, editors are notoriously busy and don’t have time to read every press release and pitch that comes their way. Publicists are great at crafting detailed, yet short email subject lines that get the attention of the top editors.

7. What about exclusivity? It’s an unwritten media ‘no-no’ to pitch the same story to multiple outlets. Two competing magazines don’t want to showcase your business using the same story angle. So, offer your story idea and accompanying media gallery as an exclusive first. If you get a polite ‘no thank you,’ then move onto the next publication’s editorial team while continuing to refine your pitch each time.

8. Don’t skip entering contests. While entering a professional contest may seem time- consuming and trivial, don’t pass on the opportunity. Design awards and professional award opportunities come with the bonus of free publicity if you win. And, even if you don’t win the award, editors keep a list of up-and-coming professionals on their minds for future story considerations.

9. Separation of church and state. Don’t confuse advertising with editorial. Most of the time (except when it comes to advertorial), advertising and editorial are complexly different departments within each publication.

10. Social media and content integration. Use the multimedia you create with your projects for a consistent pipeline of brand messaging and consumer engagement via your social media channels, blogs and web site. Regional editors are constantly viewing what’s happening on social media, so be certain to always include locally-used hashtags and engage in online conversations with other local business people, influencers and media outlets.

11. What about Westchester? Remember, editors cover “beats” or locations. If your business is outside the greater Westchester region, then you may be wasting the editor’s time if you pitch them a story that is way outside of their coverage area. Be certain the editor immediately knows that your business is located within the publication’s editorial “map.” You can get a better idea of a publication’s coverage area by requesting a “media kit” from their advertising department. Usually found buried inside a publication’s website (and downloadable as a PDF), a magazine’s media kit includes eye-opening information on readership demographics, advertising space details and the all-important editorial calendar.

12. Ask for the publication’s editorial calendar. Every year, magazines release a new upcoming editorial calendar, which highlights the specific features they will be covering in editorial as well as specific advertising features. Be sure to time your pitch to something they are already covering if you want an editor to feature your business. This calendar describes the theme of each issue and is a good way to strategize your brand campaigns and pitches.

For more advice on PR, contact kruby@rubymediagroup.com to secure a copy of our new e-book How to Strategically Increase Media Exposure.

Follow us on Twitter @rubymediagroup and @sparklingruby

©2016 Ruby Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.