Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Furia Rubel Launches New Marketing and PR Blog

As Furia Rubel Communications celebrates its 15th anniversary, we have launched a new brand and a new website - and that includes a new blog.

Click on over to our new blog and follow us there. In addition to the law firm public relations strategy that we have always shared, we also provide insight into advertising, marketing, social media, business development, and more.

Thanks for following, and we hope to hear from you soon.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Amazon's Jeff Bezos Day 1 Philosophy Can Transform Contentment and Attrition in Business

By Gina F. Rubel 

In a recent letter to his staff, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos outlines the proverbial “Day 1” landscape, while warning against the complacence of “Day 2.”

In Bezos’ view, a company never can stop being a start-up. He believes that company leaders always need to think as they did on the first day of their business. “Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1."

His letter is a powerful reminder of the importance of staying focused on your clients and their needs, every day. For instance, marketing of a company is not really about the company’s products or services per se, it is about how those products and services fill the wants and needs of the company’s particular customer.

Bezos makes some key points:

  • Provide value. Like many of the successful consumer-facing companies such as Amazon and Zappos, it is client value and client service that differentiate thriving companies from their competitors. 
  • Focus on the future. Always look ahead for your clients and your business. As markets and industries evolve, so must your products, services and delivery methods. 
  • See the big picture. Understand that short-term decisions cannot be allowed to affect long-term success. Sometimes, in fact, difficult decisions, such as reorganizing staff, no longer providing certain services and changing product offerings must occur to ensure the long-term health of your business. 
  • Make decisions quickly and learn from others. Embrace the process of “disagree and commit.” Not everyone will agree on every decision, but it's still possible for people who disagree to work toward the same goal. Those goals should be dictated by quantifiable client feedback. Remember, it is client service and client value that you ultimately should strive to be known for. 
  • Focus on results and not just process. While process is important, it cannot wag the dog. Use it as a tool, not as the proxy. 

Daniel B. Kline, for The Motley Fool, asks, “Is it really always Day 1?” Kline says, “What Bezos is doing is guarding against the contentment that success can bring. He's creating a culture where past results do not guarantee future success so it's always important to strive, innovate, and be open to change.” This is the key takeaway.

This business advice is much like long-term relationships, whether it be marriages, commitments, friendships and the like. In order to keep a relationship fresh and interesting, to meet the wants and needs of the other party, and to keep the relationship alive, it serves us well to think of every new encounter as a first date.

Because, like Kline said, “past results do not guarantee future success,” and this is true in all relationships, business and personal alike.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

5 Things You Need to Know About Reaching Millennial Clients

By Jackie Sofia

Comparing Social Media Use between US Adults overall, and Millennials specifically

Source: http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/11/11/social-media-update-2016/
  1. Social Media is essential. The fact remains that millennials are using social media more than any other age group in the U.S. Data released by the Pew Research Center indicates more specifically that Facebook is the choice platform of millennials (88 percent), with Instagram creeping up to second place (60% percent). 
  2. Keep a blog, and keep it updated. 33 percent of millennials review blogs before they make any type of financial transaction, compared to fewer than 3 percent who use TV news, magazines or books. Millennials are also incredibly self-reliant. Having always had the internet at their disposal, millennials are used to finding the information they need themselves. You can feed into this self-reliance on your blogs by providing well-written answers to common legal dilemmas that are hyperlinked to your legal experts within the firm. This will also direct your target audience to your firm for further legal services and advice. 
  3. Know your limits. The American Bar Association requires lawyers to stay abreast of the benefits and risks associated with technology in relation to the practice of law. While social media can be a great opportunity to stay engaged with millennials, it's a constantly changing environment where many of the old school regulations are being adapted or applied directly towards technological advancements that are deemed within their purview. The good news is that there are resources out there that can help you stay on top of these changes. Regardless of whether your firm even has a social media account, it's important to regularly participate in continuing study and education and comply with legal education requirements. 
  4. You have to be one, to know one. Hiring millennials to join your team is one of the more critical investments you can make for the future of the firm and its growing target audience of fellow millennials. According to Nika Kabiri, Director of Strategic Insights at Avvo, one in four Americans are dealing with legal issues, and half of those Americans are millennials. Not only can millennials identify more closely with the younger target audience, but they tend to also be ambitious as well as fluent in social media and digital technology. 
  5. Be proud of your pro bono work. Social media isn't the only thing that attracts millennials. They are also interested in what companies do in their community. Millennials may be apt to choose your services over others if you have a pro-bono roster that exhibits a more empathetic and charitable firm. A 2015 Elite Daily Millennial Consumer Study revealed that 75 percent of those surveyed thought it was important for a company to give back to society.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Facebook Changes Link Previews to Help Combat ‘Fake News’

By Caitlan McCafferty

Big changes from Facebook took effect the week of July 18. In order to combat the ongoing spread of misinformation, Facebook has changed the way users can edit the previews of links that they post to the social media platform.

This latest update from Facebook eliminates the ability to customize link metadata, which determines the headline, description, and image shown in the preview of the link.

According to an article by Engadget, the preview function has been abused by many fake news outlets, which “have been taking advantage of the ability to customize a story's metadata to spread misinformation.They often replace the headline, image and snippet with something controversial to get the most shares, likes and comments possible." This change allows Facebook to eliminate at least one method of disseminating false information.

The social media platform recognizes that legitimate publishers and content creators rely on the customization function to tailor their shares in order to improve audience engagement, and Facebook developers have been working on a solution for them. In the meantime, content creators can continue to customize how links appear with Open Graph meta tags. Open Graph meta tags are an important option to consider to optimize content on social media.

Overall, this change signals a serious commitment from Facebook to curb the spread of false information. Shortly after the 2016 election, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced an initiative to stop fake news. The elimination of the ability to alter link previews appears to be one of many steps the social media giant is undertaking to achieve that goal.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Twitter Tools for Hashtag Marketing and Research

By Gina Rubel

I recently went on a marketing mission to find out who is using certain hashtags on Twitter. My goal was to find those users who were most influential and most engaged on certain topics.

If you’re not familiar with hashtags and their value, check out Mashable’s 2013 post on The Beginner’s Guide to the Hashtag which is still relevant today.

Using Twitonomy for Hashtag Research
While there are various online tools that one can use to find influencers and hashtags, I discovered Twitonomy which I’ve decided to test as a one-month user.

Here are some of the things I discovered:

It is possible to download lists of followers or, more importantly, those a user is following. This is important because if you’re looking to find, for example, various reporters for a particular publication, or sources uses by a particular publication, it is likely that that publication and its editors are following those people.

I also ran a follower report on the profiles following me @ginarubel on Twitter. The report is chock full of interesting information.

For example, the top hashtag used by my followers are:
  • #marketing
  • #socialmedia
  • #PR
  • #law
  • #entrepreneur
This information tells me that I’m reaching the right audience as I am a lawyer entrepreneur who works in marketing, public relations and social media.

In addition, the top keywords used by my followers are:
  • Marketing
  • Legal
  • Business
  • Social
  • Media
Again, this tells me that my followers have interests and speak on topics similar to mine.

I can also identify where the majority of my followers are located:
  • Philadelphia, Pa. – where we conduct quite a bit of business
  • Doylestown, Pa. – my hometown
  • New York, N.Y. – where we have clients and deal with media
  • Bucks County, Pa. – the county within which I work and live
  • Chicago, Ill. – a hub for law firms, American bar association business and legal marketing activity
Using Hashtagify.me for Hashtag Research
Another tool that I was recently introduced to by members of our PR department is Hashtagify.me which allows you to search a hashtag to find related hashtags, top influencers, usage patterns and more.

For example, I searched #globalwarming in the free tool of hashtagifyme. Other relevant hashtags include #climatechange #drought #environment #science #climate and the top influencers were @pitbull, @xhnews, @theeconomist, @greenpeace and @realtonyrocha.

While there is a bit of information available for free on Hashtagify.me, the majority of the information is behind a paywall which is the save for other platforms that I found.

What tools are you using for hashtag marketing research? We’d love to hear from you.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Importance of Carrying a Business Card

By Karen Preston-Loeb

Technology has transformed business communication from email to internet. While written communication is often paperless, one piece of correspondence remains printed: the business card. And while it seems that it would be more advantageous to ping information between colleagues, it remains important to always carry a business card.

Here are some reasons why business cards are effective business tools:

Brand marketing
The business card represents your company’s brand. Not only does it convey important personal contact information such as name, title, email, website, address and phone number, but oftentimes it is also the first exposure to the overall image of the business. The company logo is prominently displayed for brand identity. The fonts used, color, texture and paper stock used also conveys a message about the type of industry represented. Specialized printing techniques can be used such as embossing, foil stamping, thermography or laminating. The business card reflects the personality of the company and gives the first impression.

Conveys professionalism and preparedness
Image is everything. Having a business card on hand gives the appearance of professionalism and shows proper planning. Being caught off-guard without a business card imparts an ill-prepared impression. Always carry a stack of business cards protected by a card case and you will convey a polished quality.

Quicker to hand a business card vs input digital information
Numerous apps exist for smartphones to transfer contact information wirelessly; however the quickest and easiest way to exchange data remains the paper business card. Multiple business cards can be handed out in seconds at a networking event versus entering data. In the fast-pace workplace, time matters and nothing beats the quick handing over of a business card for speed.

Some clients do not own digital devices
Do not rely on smartphones for transferring of contact information, because some people do not own digital devices or are not tech savvy. While the majority of our population does have a personal electronic device, some prefer not to rely on theirs. And even if digital devices are used by both parties, the applications may not be compatible. Exchange business cards and you can always follow up with an email that contains your digital contact card.

Essential in international business
With the rise of global working opportunities, doing business overseas is becoming more normal.  Business cards are not only necessary in international business in some cultures, but they are also used ceremoniously. In most Asian countries, the business card is treated with respect. It is often presented with two hands, never tossed, and should be properly placed in a holder once received—never shoved in a pocket. In Japan exchanging business cards is a ritual and considered a formal introduction to a person. Business cannot begin until business cards are exchanged as this signifies the beginning of a relationship. In India, business cards are exchanged even in non-business situations and are always presented face-up with the text facing the recipient. In the Middle East, protocol varies per country. In Bahrain, for instance, never exchange business cards with the left hand and be certain to look at the business card received carefully before putting it away.

The printed business card still dominates. At any instance, whether a networking event or at a coffee shop, the opportunity for a business connection can occur. Not having a business card on-hand could result in a lost potential client. Exchanging business cards gives the ability to follow up, providing a foot in the door for a business transaction. It also allows a personal encounter between two parties, a crucial element of creating a business connection.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Aligning Video Content with Brand

content marketing video best practices
How to Make the Most of Your Video Production Marketing Efforts

By Laura Powers

Businesses today should consider video a key component of a strategic content marketing plan. In January 2017, 78 percent of internet users in the U.S. watched online video content. It is a vehicle that immediately communicates a sense of what it is like to work with or for the company, the culture that surrounds the company, and team members and collaboration at the company. All of these factors contribute to a viewer's decision to buy services and products, to consider employment opportunities, or to make a referral.

Included here are key factors to consider for brand consistency as you invest time, resources and a team’s creative energy into producing marketing video content.

Keep it Short

There are reasons that elevator pitches are effective. They provide us with a tool to convey important messages in the short time frame where we have a person’s undivided attention. This recent blog on the limits of our attention span touches on the importance of tailoring experiences to a distracted population. Undivided attention for an elevator pitch is an infrequent, but fortunate, opportunity. Undivided attention while watching and listening to a video is more rare. We can’t control the distractions that may happen while someone is viewing. Since we are not in the room with the viewer, they can easily turn away or ignore us without the fear of being perceived as rude.

For these reasons, videos developed for content marketing purposes should run no longer than 60 seconds. If a one minute video can’t communicate everything necessary to educate and inform your audience, make a series of videos on one topic.

In certain circumstances – such as a 20th anniversary video that includes highlights from an organization’s history and profiles of key leadership – it is appropriate to extend the length of a video.

Select a Single Theme

Videos produced for paid advertising placement are typically driving one message home in a short, concise clip. Videos for marketing purposes are shared on a different platform (YouTube, Vimeo, company website) and are pushed out via a different method (email marketing, social media) and can get caught in the marketing trap of diffused, complicated messaging. To be most effective, each video produced must capture and hold the attention of viewers, be clear in its purpose, and increase credibility and trust with your audience. Some central marketing video themes are:
  • About Us Content – showcase your brand, team members, products or services in a documentary video
  • How-it-works Content – demonstrate a product or process in animation or live action video
  • Specialization Content – highlight differentiation, unique features and benefits of company services
  • Special Topic Content – videos highlighting anniversaries, events, awards, and topical issues
For about us, how-it-works and specialization content, select a single theme with a single message and focus on only that in one video. For example, a video highlighting a team member's expertise in state and local tax issues shouldn’t distract from the theme with other unrelated accomplishments or expertise.

Set the Mood

The atmosphere in video across the web is wide and varied. The atmosphere in a company video should demonstrate a tone and personality that is consistent with the brand through other marketing vehicles. In making decisions for setting a mood, ensure that they align with the company’s positioning statements, key messages and brand strategy.

Mood and atmosphere are often overlooked in a company video, especially with the low quality production tools available to the general public, but they are very important to get right. Incorrectly aligning the tone of a video and a brand can set a company back in its overall marketing efforts rather than move it forward.

Consider POV

On occasion, an individual facing the camera and speaking to the viewer (a talking head) may be necessary, but strongly consider a different point-of-view. A law firm promoting their energy practice attorneys may convey a better experience of their brand story if beautiful footage of energy sources is shown on screen with a voice-over, versus an office interior with a talking head. Abstracted video concepts like this one convey emotion, a sense of culture, and a personality. Most importantly, they are exciting to watch.

All video produced for business with the objective of building credibility, describing products and services, or reinforcing trust can benefit from thinking cinematically before filming begins. A first-rate video production company will assist with concepts and recommendations, scripting, securing voice-over talent and providing a mix of camera options such as wide pans, time-lapse and multiple angle options.

Video is a vital vehicle that will amplify a brand and provide reinforcement in a multi-channel marketing mix. Strategically shaping the POV, mood, tone and theme will produce a marketing video that aligns with and reflects the perception you wish to maintain.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Can You Keep a Goldfish Interested? The New Attention Span in the Age of the Internet

By Rose Strong

In a world bursting with new technologies, it has been said that humans now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish which has an attention span of about nine-seconds.

The New York Times op-ed by Timothy Egan, addresses the eight-second attention span. He says, “I can no longer wait in a grocery store line, or linger for a traffic light, or even pause long enough to let a bagel pop from the toaster, without reflexively reaching for my smartphone.” Does this sound familiar?

According to the website Statistic Brain, office workers check their email 30 times an hour, and the average attention span has dropped 3.75 seconds from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8.25 seconds in 2015. In addition, only 17 percent of website page views last four seconds or less.

When you are thinking about marketing and public relations in a world where people zoom by ads and content, it is a challenge to engage them successfully.

How, then, do you get and keep your clients’ attention?

Consider audience wants and needs. You first need to think about your target audience. What do they want? What do they need? When will they be paying attention? Often, businesses share content online about their accomplishments but it is important to connect those accomplishments to the prospective customers’ needs. For instance, if you are a lawyer who was named a Best Lawyer or Super Lawyer in the area of estate planning, it’s worth sharing that news and tying it into how your readers can safeguard their personal estates.

Go where the customers are. Understanding where people get their information is fundamental to a successful online content strategy that seizes the viewer’s attention immediately and keeps them. For instance, B2B businesses are more likely to engage their target audience on LinkedIn than Twitter while Facebook is a better platform, in general, for B2C.

Capture the micro-moment opportunities. Today most people are doing micro-moment searches on their mobile devices. According to an article by Rob Weatherhead of Media Network Blog for The Guardian, the micro-moment is a term coined by Google to define anytime a consumer uses an online platform to look something up, be it a store’s hours, a restaurant menu or where the closest gas station is located. Make sure your content is optimized for organic search in order to keeping the viewer’s eyes on the prize.

Create clear, concise and engaging content. In today’s tech world where immediate gratification is all around us, it is important to carefully manage content choices. For example, website images and their placement should take into consideration load time, size, placement, visual appeal and story-telling value. Those images should complement your content, which should be easy to read by using bullets or specific spacing. Less is often more.

In her interview with David Greene of NPR, Jessica Helfand, author of “Screen: Essays on Graphic Design, New Media and Visual Culture,” says, "The impatience with which people have come to expect everything to be delivered to them is a terrifying prospect." In an age where people are “constantly engaged in multimedia multitasking — reading, working … and checking Facebook every 10 minutes,” Helfand says it is important to create “a better visual, more compelling experience— an experience tailored to shorter attention spans.”

With the rise of technology and its continuing advancements, we have turned into a society even more eager for information at light speed. We can embrace in marketing and public relations with shorter, more targeted, more visual information distributed through the many new tools, such as social media, that capture the minds moving at warp speed.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Furia Rubel Communications Goes to Washington Newseum

By Caitlan McCafferty

In honor of our marketing and public relations agency's 15th anniversary, the Furia Rubel team had a company retreat at the Newseum in Washington, DC on May 19.
The Newseum is dedicated to the First Amendment, and the museum celebrates freedom of expression in its many forms. The museum tells the story of communication, which ranges from the history of technology that has facilitated people's communication to the people doing the communicating, like journalists. It tells the complicated, yet powerful history, of storytelling and how people have used their freedom of expression to change the world.

Some of the more powerful exhibits include the Berlin Wall Gallery, 9/11 Gallery and Pulitzer Prize Photographs Gallery. Each of these exhibits explores the depths to which journalists go to tell people's stories. It also provided each of us with an opportunity to reflect on those events and how they shaped our thoughts, opinions and the world we live in, whether the event happened up close or from a distance.

When asked why the Newseum was chosen for our retreat, our founder, Gina Rubel, said, "As a marketing and public relations agency that prides itself on client advocacy and ethics, I thought it would be a good exercise to witness how the work we do is tied to all forms of media and how the messages and media shape public perception." She said, "It was an excellent reminder of the duty we have to present accurate information and to sift through the myriad messages we receive in order to tell fact from fiction. It was also a bonus to receive a private tour from one of our employees who was an intern at the Newseum."

As a team, we also enjoyed the "Louder Than Words" exhibit focusing on the interplay of music and American politics, the News History Gallery that highlights the biggest headlines and trends in news since the 1400s, and the "Inside Today's FBI" exhibit that tells the history of the FBI's relationship with the media and the FBI's current fight against cyberterrorism.

The Newseum is fascinating at every turn. It gave us each a chance to learn and think about how our role as communicators fits into the history of the media.

Stay tuned to our PR and marketing blog and our social media platforms for more exciting 15th Anniversary news from Furia Rubel Communications.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Benefits of Social Media Engagement for Municipalities

By Gina Rubel

I recently spoke at the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs annual conference in Hershey, Pennsylvania on the “Effective and Ethical Use of Social Media for Municipalities.”

Social media offers municipalities efficient and cost-effective ways to engage and inform residents, community visitors and businesses on a myriad of topics. But, in order to be effective, municipal leaders must understand the benefits and manage the risks of social media use without crossing into certain gray areas. The post will address the benefits only.

What is social media and why does it matter?

Many leaders in smaller municipalities shy away from using social media for official purposes. The common barriers to entry are budget, buy-in, the time commitment and a general lack of understanding of what social media is and how it can be beneficial.

Social media describes the online technologies and practices that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives. Social media content can take many different forms, including text, images, audio, and video.

The term “social media” refers to forms of electronic communication through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages and other content. Social media provides new and capable ways for governments to communicate the value they provide to their residents. It offers cities/towns/boroughs a way to create added value by providing more targeted, useful, and detailed information and opportunities.

Questions to ask when deciding to participate in social media for municipalities. 

Several questions need to be answered before engaging in social media activities – which should not be ad hoc, a more common than not approach.

  • Does your municipality and its leaders understand the benefits of social media? 
  • Does your municipality and its leaders understand the pitfalls, risks and liabilities of managing a social media presence? 
  • What protocols can be implemented to manage the risks and liabilities of social media engagement? 
  • What best practices and training programs can be implemented for successful use of social media?  

Benefits of social media engagement for municipalities. 

Among the many benefits of an effective social media presence with relevant and regular content is that it can boost resident loyalty and engagement for municipalities. Thousands of elected officials in all aspects of government are using social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn and YouTube to communicate with their audiences. And yet, many boroughs, townships, cities, and other types of municipal entities are either not engaging or not engaging properly.

Here are some of the most notable benefits that we discussed at the conference:

  • Citizen participation, communication and data gathering such as surveys
  • Crime watch and safety alerts
  • Crisis and reputation management
  • Improves efficiency
  • Increases trust and confidence with transparency
  • Marketing cost savings
  • Media relations and news dissemination
  • Polls and election forecasting
  • Promotes economic development
  • Real-time communications
  • Supports mission, objectives and message management

Examples of positive engagement on social media platforms include:

Doylestown Township, Bucks County, PA, which maintains active profiles on Twitter and Facebook with a prominent social media policy on their website.

Easttown Township in Chester County, PA, maintains social media profiles which can be followed from their website for their township, police and library.

The City of Philadelphia maintains a social media policy and profiles on various social media platforms including City of Philadelphia Government on Facebook, @PhiladelphiaGov on Twitter, and many government-sponsored videos on YouTube.

What examples do you know of that demonstrate a positive and effective use of social media by municipalities? Please share your examples below.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

2017 Webby Awards – Honoring the Best of the Internet

By Heather Truitt

The internet has come a long way since the Webby Awards started in 1997. According to the Webby Awards website, in 1997 there were just over a million websites and 14 Webby Awards. For anyone who remembers surfing the internet back then, on a dial-up connection, the internet was in its infancy. Some of my favorite examples from the 1997 Webby Awards include Travelocitye!Online and Fortune Magazine. A lot of the websites have a similar theme, columns with navigation on the left side, elementary color schemes, and rudimentary designs.

Fast-forward 20 years. The Webby Awards estimates that there are now more than one billion websites and they have given 407 awards this year alone to honor the best the internet has to offer.
Below are five of my favorite 2017 award winners:

Best User Experience
What I love: What’s not to love about space exploration? I love the graphics and the way the timeline is treated and how visitors can interact. The music and space talking in the background adds to the “feeling” of the website, which conveys an important message to website visitors. The mood and tone is determined by the visitor within three seconds of landing on the page. The “feeling” the visitor gets should be just one of many of the take-aways the website owner wishes to convey.

Best Visual Design – Aesthetic
What I love: iFly 50 is the anniversary edition of iFly KLM Magazine brought to you by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. The special edition of this magazine features 50 great travel locations. It includes breathtaking photographs and videos that sell the travel experience. Striking visuals are a way to make your visitors remember your website. I especially like the “extra” features – for example, when you hold the spacebar down on #46 the Stari Most bridge, a16th-century Ottoman bridge in the city of Mostar in Bosnia, you see an image of a bridge dive. On the next screen, you can learn more about the bridge and the 450-year dive tradition. This specialized user experience creates brand awareness and engagement for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. 

Best Shopping Website
What I love:The vintage photo at the top of the website creates a nostalgia of going to the candy store as a child.  The limited color palette makes the photographs of the products stand out. It’s easy to navigate and shop, and even to create a custom box of chocolates with many options. Each photograph entices the visitor to make a purchase which is the goal of an eCommerce business. 

Best Home Page 
Milwaukee Ballet 
What I love: The movement of the website and the way the camera continuously moves provides excellent visual appeal to the website visitor. The navigation is also different, which provides the visitor with a unique experience, just like the Milwaukee Ballet does with its performances. This is an excellent example of a website that marries the experience it is selling to the visual experience on its website. 

Best User Interface
A Bear’s-Eye View of Yellowstone 
What I love: Have you ever wondered what bears eat or how they travel through Yellowstone Park? If so, this is the perfect website for you. It is packed with information and engaging bear’s-eye view video. The interactive map allows viewers to go from one area to the next by scrolling to see what the bears are eating and how they are traveling. On the left side of the site, visitors can see how far they’ve traveled with a particular bear on its path.

The annual Webby Awards provide useful information for businesses and designers alike to see what is new, different and trending in website design and development. Sometimes, you see websites showcased that you wouldn’t normally see like Bear’s-Eye View of Yellowstone. But most importantly, it provides a plethora of ideas and experiences that can be adapted to similar audiences when companies need to launch new or redo existing websites.

Want to see more award winners? Check out the list of winners here. If you like what you see, be sure you check out the 21st award show live on May 16th on YouTube.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Key Lessons from Cision’s State of the Media 2017 Report

By Caitlan McCafferty

With the rise of social media and a struggling print industry, the media landscape is rapidly evolving and the priorities of journalists have evolved with it. Each year Cision surveys more than 1,500 journalists and influencers to gauge what is important to them and how they interact with public relations professionals and marketers. The State of the Media Report provides insights to how journalists are adapting to change and PR pros and marketers, like us, can do a better job interacting with them.

As explained in a previous blog post, these are interesting times in terms of the public’s relationship to the media. Journalists cite regaining the public’s trust as their biggest challenge in 2017.
So how does the current “state of the media” affect media relations? These are some of the key lessons for PR Pros from the report: 

An informed pitch is the best way to reach journalists. 51% of journalists surveyed want to see a displayed knowledge of their past work, interests and strengths in the pitches they receive. A previous relationship with the PR contact is also important with 15% of journalists surveyed saying that it makes them pursue a story. 
Journalists echoed this feeling again when Cision asked, “How can PR Professionals improve?” 82.53% of journalists surveyed responded with “researching/understanding my media outlet.” It only benefits the PR professional to do their research and contact the best person at the target publication. While building your media list, be sure to ask yourself the questions: “What do I know about this publication?  What has this journalist written about previously? What topics is this journalist interested in writing about?”

Journalists continue to rely on PR Professionals as story sources. 63% of responding journalists reported that they still use PR professionals to reach their sources. The report also shows that press releases and story leads continue to be the most valuable to journalists. Journalists rank expert interviews and story sources the second highest in value and assistance in story writing the least valuable. 

Journalists use multimedia from newswire sources and stock photography more than staff photography compared to 2016. Adding multimedia content to your release will increase your chances of pick-up. 

Digital media has changed the way the American audience consumes information.  Facebook continues to be the most powerful channel for audience engagement. Journalists have confidence in Twitter, despite the company missing recent revenue targets. The group’s confidence in the social media platform may be due to journalists being the largest verified group active on Twitter. Despite their confidence in social media platforms, most journalists continue to believe that social media is not a reliable source. 

Overall, the Cision 2017 State of the Media report provides a nice snapshot of how journalists and influencers are feeling about the media landscape. Most importantly, it shares insight into publicity and media relations best practices. Relationships with journalists are crucial for our clients’ success. Supporting best practices with the data of the survey will better prepare PR practitioners for the next long-lead feature or small news item. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Understanding Snapchat Geofilter Uses and Guidelines

By Gina F. Rubel

If you aren’t familiar with Snapchat, let’s start with the basics. Snapchat is a mobile photo messaging and multimedia sharing app which has been growing rapidly among mobile users (predominantly ages 18- 34). At the end of 2016, it had over 150 million active daily users among which 54 percent log in every day. For more statistics, check out Snapchat by the numbers.

Here is a brief Snapchat lingo lesson:

  • Snaps are the posts on Snapchat. 
  • Snapchatters are the users of Snapchat.
  • A filter (a.k.a. Geofilter) is a photo overlay that changes the Snap photo in some way.
  • A Geofence is a virtual geographic boundary defined by GPS or RFID technology, which enables software to trigger a response when a mobile device enters or leaves a particular area.

Types of Geofilters

One of its most popular features – and, importantly, an revenue stream that Snapchat hopes to grow – Geofilters are location-based overlays that Snapchat users can apply to their Snaps. Snapchatters, businesses, artists and designers can submit fun and creative Geofilter artwork which can be used strategically for marketing.

There are two types of Geofilters:

A Community Geofilter is one that doesn’t include any branding, business marks/names, or logos, and doesn’t promote a business or a brand. Sometimes called a Personal Geofilter, it can be submitted to Snapchat, for example, to celebrate a birthday, a prom, a graduation, an anniversary or the like.

An On-Demand Geofilter is one that promotes a business or a brand, and it will need to meet the Business guidelines set forth by Snapchat. A Geofilter delivered to a national audience will typically be seen by 40 percent to 60 percent of daily Snapchatters.

Uses for Geofilters

The idea behind Geofilters is to be creative and compelling. An On-Demand Geofilter cannot be active for more than 30 days, so if it’s a Geofilter with the name of your business, make it something exciting and submit new Geofilters monthly (and remember not to cover up too much of the screen). There are many uses for Geofilters. Just some of them include:

  • Company sporting events
  • Company sponsored events
  • Speaking engagements
  • Community events
  • Company recruiting (best moments of the day at your company)
  • Trade show and professional association events

In order to have your Geofilter accepted by Snapchat, it is important to follow the guidelines (listed on SnapChat’s website as of April 24, 2017):

Places and Dates

  • Draw your geofence thoughtfully; it should cover only the relevant area.
  • Keep it local. Do not cover an entire country, state or province.
  • Select a public place, neighborhood, landmark, venue or other location where people are likely to gather and send Snaps.
  • Select the dates and times that the Geofilter should be active. An On-Demand Geofilter cannot be active for more than 30 days. 


  • Do not use logos or trademarks you don’t own or have authorization to use.
  • No photographs of people, hashtags or lotteries. 
  • No phone numbers, emails, URLs, Snapcodes, download instructions, social media usernames, or personal information.
  • No more than two lines of non-stylized text.
  • Make sure it's relevant to the location.
  • For additional content restrictions and guidance go to Advertising Policies and Community Guidelines.

Have you seen or used any compelling Geofilters lately? Share your Geofilter stories with us in the comments.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Why is Email Marketing Newsletter Content and Image Balance Important?

By Heather Truitt

There is nothing like opening an email on your computer or phone and seeing the following screen:

The average person received 90 emails per day in 2016. As digital marketers, we want to ensure that our messaging stands out in the crowded email-marketing space. Unfortunately, email marketing messages such as the above, that rely on only images and no words, are far more likely to miss their mark. Unless the email has a subject that has captured my attention, this email would immediately get deleted. In fact, I might even take the extra minute to unsubscribe.

Using an image is a great way to grab attention in your email marketing, but adding text content that supports the image is a best practice. That way, if your image doesn’t display correctly in your recipients’ inboxes – showing only a message to “right click here to download image” – they still will have an idea what your message is about.

You are selling yourself and your company short by not including any text-based messaging along with an image in your email marketing content. By taking a shortcut and using only images, more of your email recipients will unsubscribe from your email marketing database.

By balancing the image-to-text ratio in your email marketing messages, however, you will create content that engages more readers. For example, take a look at this Netflix email marketing message:

Netflix has included a large, attention-grabbing image at the top of the email, and below, they have added text content that supports the image. The image immediately presents the promotion, and the text content provides more insight. Even if you don’t “load the images” for this email, you will still understand the message. At the bottom of the message, Netflix add two action buttons (if you need help constructing an effective call-to-action, check out our recent blog post).

Below are a few email marketing best practice tips:

  • Test, test, test, test, and do another test before you schedule or send your email blast. I can’t tell you how many emails I receive and just ask myself… Why? Twice last week, I received emails that were either mis-formatted, missing images, or contained broken links. Sure, everyone makes mistakes, but these were very simple things that could have been avoided if a round of testing was incorporated into the email marketing process as a quality control measure.
  • Make sure you optimize your images. People don’t have the patience to wait for large images to load in an email. A particular daily email publication that I follow often features vintage artwork and vintage graphic design images of historical significance, but it sometimes takes 2 minutes for the entire email to load. Make sure you are saving your images so the file size is less than 50kb. That will ensure that they load more quickly for your recipients.
  • Test on multiple platforms. This is something that we do in-house at Furia Rubel, where some of us work on Macs and some of us are on PCs. Sometimes there is a world of difference between what you see on the screen and what your coworker sees. You can also subscribe to a platform like Litmus, where you can test and view different platforms and versions all in a simple interface. 

The appropriate balance of images and text ensures that your recipients are more engaged in your marketing messaging and are more likely to click-through your call-to-action links.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Echo Chambers and Alternative Facts: PR in the Public Sphere

By Jacqueline Sofia

Echo Chambers and Alternative Facts: PR in the Public Sphere
There’s an echo in the room. Do you hear it? Every time you scroll through your Facebook or Twitter feed, that echo reverberates louder and the walls inch inward.

You see a headline that makes you nod in agreement. You “like” it and move on to the next post. Some of the articles have no basis in fact, but you’re not reading the articles anyway, just the headlines. The more you click that blue thumbs-up emoji, the less the facts matter, and the more your emotions start to build their own reality inside these walls. Now the air is thick with alternative facts in an alternative reality of your own making.

Welcome to your echo chamber.

Swaying Public Opinion

This isn’t the Twilight Zone. The practice of engineering public opinion through mass dissemination of information, and watching as that information (factual or not) sways people’s emotions and actions, can be traced back more than 100 years.

In October 1902, leaders of the American coal mining industry were arguing over whether the president cared more about mine operators or mine workers. Theodore Roosevelt’s response was, “I speak for neither the operators nor the miners but for the general public.”

Roosevelt and his administration pioneered the use of public relations to convince the American people that the U.S. government was equipping them with the necessary facts to make policy decisions that were rooted in their best interests.

An activist in many respects, Roosevelt felt strongly for the well-being of anthracite miners who were on strike in Pennsylvania at the turn of the century. Although he could have let his emotions guide major U.S. policy decisions, he instead went out seeking the facts — not “alternative facts,” but actual information that could be verified, including first-hand accounts of the living and working conditions of striking miners, as well as non-union mine workers.

Roosevelt carefully researched the issues facing the American labor force, and helped galvanize public opinion in support of the government’s ability to present accurate information and proposed solutions, for the sake of the greater public good. In essence, his public relations strategy wasn’t just fact-based, it was also ethical.

Manipulating the Message

Let’s not be na├»ve. Unethical tactics are used as a part of larger public relations strategies all the time. Some tactics are more disturbing than others. The manipulation of facts to serve a biased agenda and garner support from the masses was most notably enacted by the Nazi regime leading up to and throughout World War II (1939-1945).

The German propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, and other Nazis managed to take hold of the human psyche and derail the world’s understanding of what was fact and what was fiction by carefully crafting public relations campaigns that included posters, children’s books and newspaper ads depicting Jews as criminals and crooked personalities.

These tactics came to a head on the night of Nov. 9, 1938. The “Night of Broken Glass” saw the desecration of Jewish cemeteries and the arson of Jewish-owned businesses and synagogues , with additional campaign tactics following the events, blaming Jews for the violence. Over the next six years, more than 6 million European Jews and minority groups were murdered in one of the largest genocides the world has ever seen, otherwise known as the Holocaust.

Whether we choose to call it “propaganda” or “alternative facts,” the definition is the same, and so are the results: A public relations agenda utilizing mass media to reiterate false information, resulting in a loss of basic humanity.

Now imagine how history might have unfolded if Roosevelt or Hitler had Twitter.

Social Media Becomes Powerful Megaphone

The speed at which we can re-post, retweet or Snapchat whatever we want on today’s social media platforms is alarming. At no previous point in history have we been able to disseminate information with such ease to so many people at once, whether that content is a vehicle for telling people the facts, or creating “alternative facts.”

In the past 18 months, rhetoric used by President Donald J. Trump and re-posted throughout Twitter and Facebook has included phrases such as, “bad hombres” and “rapists” in reference to Mexican immigrants, as well as repeated xenophobic remarks against Muslims and a call for a Muslim registry in the U.S. – a proposed move that is frighteningly similar to the stars that Hitler demanded all Jews wear on their clothing.

And now, to the present: on Jan. 7, Jan. 14, Jan. 27 and Feb. 24, a mosque burnt to the ground here in the U.S. Three of the four fires have been ruled as arson. And on Feb. 26, more than 100 headstones were toppled in a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia.

More than 100 years after Roosevelt, we must ask ourselves whether politicians, or any public figures, are taking their cues from our former president and speaking on behalf of the greater good, or if they are operating by an alternative set of facts in order to achieve an alternative (and dangerous) agenda. In a world where anybody with a Twitter account can make a statement to 25 million people at once, and where our news feeds are our own personally programmed echo chambers, it’s important to question the legitimacy of the information we’re being spoon fed through our screens.

PRSA Reaffirms Core Code of Ethics

As PR professionals, we advise our clients on what type of messaging they should send out into the world, and we do our best to advise them on what facts to disseminate in those messages. We also try to predict what the reaction will be from those who digest that information —Facebook “likes” and Twitter retweets are measured, recorded and analyzed. We try to understand the psyche of our clients’ followers, because we want to know what catches their attention, and duplicate it for the success of future clients.

We also hold ourselves accountable to a core set of ethics. Regardless of whether a Facebook post filled with exaggerated content and alternative facts could garner mass attention and popularity for our clients, we choose instead to operate on truth.

What about our industry as a whole? Are we doing enough collectively to battle the alternative facts that are inundating our newsfeeds? It’s evident that the field of public relations and communications has a fraught history, but which end of history are we going to choose to define us?

In January, the Public Relations Society of America, which represents 22,000 communications professionals and sets a code of ethics for the profession, took a firm stand. PRSA Chair Jane Dvorak released a statement reaffirming the organization’s commitment  to communicating with honesty and accuracy.

“PRSA strongly objects to any effort to deliberately misrepresent information,” the statement said. “Honest, ethical professionals never spin, mislead or alter facts. We applaud our colleagues and professional journalists who work hard to find and report the truth.”

Communicating with honesty and integrity is a core value for the PR and marketing team at Furia Rubel, as it should be for all of us.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

How to Create an Effective Call to Action

By Karen Preston-Loeb

One of the most important elements in advertising and marketing is the call to action, or CTA. This tells the consumer what you want them to do.

A solid call to action will grab the user’s attention and direct them to take a desired action, whether it be to purchase an item or click through to a website. The call to action can boost conversions; it is the difference between a user bouncing away from a website and a reader becoming a customer by signing up to receive blog posts, reading your website, requesting a free trial, or even purchasing a product.

Good CTAs need to be compelling. Here are some tips to create an effective call to action:

Be direct
Tell your target audience exactly what you want them to do, and use a strong command verb. Text should be short and to the point, enabling the reader to grasp exactly what you want them to do at first glance, while also creating a sense of urgency. The CTA is your sales clincher, so be persuasive.

Make it stand out
The CTA can be a button or a clickable line of text, but if it is not easily found, it is not going be effective. Make sure your CTA stands out on your ad. Place the CTA in an expected logical position. Use graphic elements of color, size, and surrounding white space to visually direct users to the correct spot. And remember to size the CTA appropriately for mobile devices. It is always a good idea to test different graphic elements to see what works best for your customer.

Get creative
Keep your content fresh. The call to action text is part of your advertising copy and should be treated as such. Use engaging copy that ties into your ad and gets your customer to act. Steer clear of bland words like “submit” and use friendly dialogue. Using the voice of the customer in a personalized approach such as “Show me my plan,” or “Yes! Take me there!” can be effective. Readers should understand the copy and be able to relate to it without too much technical jargon. Be clever while staying clear in your message.

Entice your customers with a unique selling point
Make sure your call to action gives your customers a reason to click through. A unique selling point (USP) is a factor that differentiates a product from its competitors. This could be a lower cost, a complimentary consultation, a free trial, or even a blog post that would benefit the user to read. The unique selling point differentiates the resulting product from its competitors.

Offer instant gratification
While we have heard the notion that good things come to those who wait, in marketing, waiting can result in a high bounce rate. People want instant satisfaction. When persuading a user with a call to action, it is important not to delay giving them what they want, as this can affect your conversion rate. Reward the user immediately, and use action words such as “now.”

An effective call to action that customers cannot resist will boost traffic, improve click-through rates and convert prospects into customers. An effective call to action also can vary according to the target audience. Be sure to test yours to see what works for your company.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Top 5 Actions to Achieve Blogging Success

By Laura Powers

Many professionals today are blogging on their own blogs or on a company blog in support of a team marketing effort. There are many things that contribute to making a blog successful with its target audiences. The essential factors of topic relevancy, good writing, timely content and a point of view are a given, but what about other factors like length and frequency of posts?

A recent annual survey of 1055 bloggers shows interesting trends from 2016. There are 5 actions taken by bloggers who report successful results:

1. Write posts with 1,000 words or more

In general, blog posts are getting longer. Posts with 500-1,000 words are still relevant and acceptable, especially if you’re a working professional who includes blogging as just one marketing and public relations tactics you employ. Although the average word count should be something that is comfortable for the author, there is often good reason to dedicate more words to a topic if it will benefit your audience.

2. Include video, lists or multiple images

As the amount of content grows across the Internet, competition for readership increases. Rich media such as video and images, as well as lists (like this one you're reading) that provide specific directions or tips, have become fundamentally more important to call attention to online content.

3. Frequent blogging is best

Most bloggers surveyed are posting every week, however, the bloggers that report the best success are also the ones that post the most often. This makes sense as their main marketing efforts are probably centralized around blog content and promotion. Most bloggers publish when it works within their schedule, but should consider increasing frequency if possible.

4. Use paid promotional services and leverage influencer audiences

When bloggers in the study reported strong results from their efforts, the promotional channels that they used most were paid and influencer. Paid promotion are tactics like LinkedIn Sponsored Content campaigns – the amount you can invest will vary with the scope of a campaign and the platform. Influencer marketing involves reaching out to credible individuals who maintain a high level of celebrity status within their industry to promote your blog post through their own extensive networks and profiles. This process involves dedicating time to grow your understanding of why they would want to share your content (what’s in it for them?) and building trust through developing a relationship.

5. Measure through analytics 

You won’t know if you’re successful if you aren’t looking at the analytics. Monitoring key data points of each post such as overall traffic, blog comments, and amount of social media sharing and engagement will show long-term success and set future content strategy.

While we can’t always access multiple, relevant images for a post, or invest in creating a professional video, or even find time to write more than 1,500 words, attempting to achieve some of these benchmarks throughout 2017 may significantly affect your blog. Take action to write posts of quality content of 1,500 words or more that include rich media and are posted on a frequent basis for maximum audience engagement and blogging success.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Event Recap: Meet the Philadelphia TV & Radio News Directors

By Caitlan McCafferty

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a panel with some TV & radio news directors in the Philadelphia market. The event was hosted by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Mid-Atlantic Chapter and Drexel University. The panel was moderated by Susan Buehler of PJM Interconnection and the speakers included:

  • Steve Butler, Director of News and Programming for KYW Newsradio 
  • Sandra Clark, Vice President of News and Civic Dialogue for WHYY
  • Margaret Cronan, Vice President and News Director for CBS3 and the CW Philly
  • Tom Davis, Vice President and News Director for 6ABC 
  • Jim Driscoll, Vice President and News Director for FOX29 
  • Anzio Williams, Vice President for NBC10/Telemundo62

The panel members' discussion ranged from their goals as news directors to their career trajectories and their advice for young broadcast journalists. Each of them provided rich insight into their motivations as journalists and how their production and reporting teams are dealing with the ever-evolving media landscape.

An event bringing together six competitors in the country’s 4th largest media market was an interesting dynamic to begin with. But it soon became clear that they actually had many things in common. As news directors, they are responsible for the strategy and journalistic integrity of their stations. Each cited the same motivation – providing a public service and telling people’s stories.

But, certain differences, such as the allocation of resources, sets Clark, VP at a public media affiliate, apart from the others on the panel who have the resources of major network affiliates at their disposal. Despite a challenging media landscape, the panelists are more willing than ever to provide local audiences with the honest and informing stories they need and want.

When asked about digital media trends, the panel members were generally positive. Tom Davis talked about how 6ABC uses social media for brand enhancement and Cronan echoed that sentiment by talking about brand consistency in social media. In the radio space, Clark talked about how important podcasts have become to WHYY’s success. Butler also discussed how he was hopeful about digital media and that he was doing the most hiring for social media positions at KYW.

Some of the news directors also talked about some of the digital tools they use for stories. Driscoll uses Fresco, an app for citizen journalists, to curate footage of events. Williams uses Banjo, a news aggregator, to stay on top of up-to-the-minute happenings in the Philadelphia area.

So with all this in mind, the news directors had some helpful tips for PR professionals to consider when pitching:
  • Only pitch local stories. Each panelist has a local focus, and KYW has a hyperlocal focus. 
  • The panelists talked about struggling to allocate resources to the suburbs. If pitching a story about an event in the suburbs, be sure to contact the newsroom the week before to give them time to prepare. 
  • Use digital tools to stay on top of the news. Pitch your client as a source if they could be a resource to journalists on a certain issue. 
  • Contact the right person in the newsroom. The news directors spoke highly of the talented producers that work at each station in the Philadelphia market. The producers are responsible for assigning stories and putting the final broadcast together.  
  • Follow the news station and key people at the station on Twitter to keep current on their interests and projects. 

Thursday, March 09, 2017

From Oscars Flub to Fake News: What We’re Reading Now

By Jackie Sofia

‘Envelopegate’ and the Power of Public Memory
The PR nightmare continues for PwC in the wake of this year’s Academy Awards, during which the accounting giant somehow mixed up the envelopes announcing the coveted “Best Picture” award winner. Jaws were left visibly hanging after Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway handed the golden man to the wrong man.

After the debacle, PwC was spotted on Twitter trying to bury their shame amongst unrelated news content about the firm. The distraction was not very effective; CBS News reports that the two individual accountants involved will never work the Oscars again, and the relationship of the entire firm is “under review.” While PwC’s reputation is now tarnished, they may have inadvertently buffed up the image of several other accounting firms just in time for tax season. One man’s loss is another man’s win.

An Instagram How-To: Multiple Image Posts
Instagram continues to advance its offerings for users. A new feature allows users to post multiple photos at once with a slideshow effect. The digital flip book allows you to post up to 10 photos simultaneously and already has been implemented widely by advertisers on the platform.

Marketers can use this feature to relay more extensive messages to their audience, or get creative and compile step-by-step guides for their products and services. Speaking of step-by-step guides, here’s a tutorial explaining how to use the new feature.

What the CIA is Saying About the New Wikileaks Document (Vault7) 
Wikileaks released its latest batch of CIA documents, a series titled “Vault7.” It’s a cool name, but the contents may be more sobering. The information released this past week includes thousands of documents that describe software tools and techniques for breaking into people’s phones, televisions and other electronic devices.

CIA spokesman, Dean Boyd, said of the surprise release, “We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents.”  Michael Hayden, the former CIA and NSA director, tried to further soften the blow by assuring viewers on CBS’ The Late Show that these purported tools would not be used inside the U.S. unless a domestic agency received court permission. The jury is still out on whether these leaked documents will be followed up with additional details, and whether the agency will have to come up with a more pointed public response on the matter.

Facebook Launches ‘Fake News’ Flag
Facebook has finally taken steps towards identifying “fake news” on its platform. The company launched the beta version of a two-pronged initiative back in December, which allows users to “dispute” an article if they think it’s fake. The reported dispute is then passed on to third-party fact checkers who determine whether the article receives the label permanently.

Granted, Facebook isn’t known for its transparency, so it’s unclear whether this will be a truly crowdsourced initiative, or whether a select few will have their say on the back end.

Meanwhile, be prepared for disputes over whether a news source should be marked as disputed.

Battle Alternative Facts with a Customized, Fact-Based Infographic

If you still have reservations as to whether Facebook is doing enough to combat the spread of fake news, take your own initiative and fight the good fight with a sharp infographic. People process visual content 600,000 times faster than text, and retain 80 percent of what they can see, compared to only 20 percent of what they read.

This is reason enough to ensure that your visual content doesn’t get buried among all the alternative facts. We’re digging this step-by-step hack for uploading custom-sized graphics along with your Facebook posts.