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.