Media Interviews in the Time of COVID

COVID has brought about so many changes to our daily lives, both big and small.  One significant change that doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon is that many of us, including the O’Keeffe team, are still working from home. So what do you when you have a media interview? BC, before COVID, you would head to the studio or have an interview on location. Many interviews are being conducted from living rooms, kitchens, or wherever your office is these days. You don’t have the benefit of professionals to set things up and keep it running smoothly. Here are some tips to keep in mind for your next remote interview.

Ask Questions

Ensure that you know how you are supposed to remote in and test the link before the interview. Check your sound and internet connection by having a dry run with a colleague or family member. You’ll want to make sure that you have the producer’s contact information if trouble should arise. If your interview is being conducted using your computer, don’t forget to turn off all sounds and notifications. Finally, as with all interviews, make sure that you are well prepared. Just because you are at home and perhaps more comfortable, you’ll want to be prepared to get in your key talking points.

Location, Location, Location

While you may not be the only one in your household during the day, you will want to find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted by other people or pets. Make sure that the room is well-lit, preferably from natural light, and has a clean, neutral background. It’s fine to have objects on the walls; make sure they aren’t distracting. You’ll want the audience to focus on what you’re saying, not on your surroundings. We’re all familiar with what a great room looks like and those that are epic fails; for a few examples of both, check out RoomRater on Twitter.

Dress the Part

Even though the interview might be taking place in your home, it’s still important to dress appropriately for the audience and your company’s brand persona. While it goes without saying that you should dress professionally, that includes below the waist, unless you want to go viral for something other than your message. We’re all familiar with examples where this wasn’t advice followed and even worse.

Call in the Professionals

One thing that hasn’t changed is the need to be prepared. A media training session will help ensure that you are prepared for various questions and will represent your company well. You’ll learn how to focus on your message and make sure that it comes through in your interview. This type of practice will make you feel more comfortable, and you’ll appear more confident when faced with the camera.

The O’Keeffe team has helped numerous clients over the years prepare for media interviews. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us before your next interview.

Dan O’Keeffe Featured on “Side Hustle City” Podcast

Dan O’Keeffe, CEO & President of O’Keeffe PR, appeared on an episode of “Side Hustle City,” a podcast that shares experiences, provides inspiration and lessons learned with listeners who are working hard to achieve their dreams.

In this episode, Dan shares his perspective on how you can become a successful marketer and grow your business, even if it’s a side hustle.

Communicating Through a Crisis

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected. The coronavirus may be the most global and universal crisis business leaders have had to face in their careers, but it is far from the only one. Cyber attacks, the #MeToo movement, and account fraud scandals have forced many businesses – both big and small into crisis management mode.

In times like these you can see the that there are companies that are ready to communicate effectively during a crisis, and those that aren’t.

A crisis doesn’t have to be cataclysmic, like communicating with employees and customers during a once-in-a-generation pandemic. Maybe it’s a workplace accident that highlights your safety protocols. Or a failure to deliver hundreds of products on time to various customers.

Managing Communications in a Crisis

Managing a company through a crisis is about relaying essential information to the right people, efficiently and effectively.

A crisis really multiplies when it catches the attention of the media. Whether that media is social, traditional or otherwise, it can put your problems under an unwanted spotlight.

Planning is Key

The point is to be ready, and to have a plan. Think about the ways in which your company might be susceptible to an unfortunate event. Then map out what might happen, what the ramifications might be and what the public might see or hear. In today’s fast-moving news world, you can expect that news of your crisis will spread quickly so you want to be in control of the message.

Three Basic Rules

The basic rules for crisis communications are simple:

  • Tell the truth.
  • Stay focused on those affected by the crisis.
  • Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know.

Think about the people who need to know what’s happening. People in your company deserve to know first.

Even if your company has managed to avoid the spotlight, you’ll want to be ready for a sudden increase in attention.

In all of these conversations, your goal is to be consistent. Work with one set of facts and statements and return to them often.

Navigating To the End

The goal is to offer as much information as you can, to do it quickly, and to the right audiences. This simplified plan helps you with the other job: solving the problem that created the crisis in the first place.

Finally, know when you need some expert help. When you’re faced with a communications challenge, contact us.

Effect of the Election on Social Media Marketing

It’s down to the final days before the election, and no matter what side of the political spectrum you fall to, we all are anxious for a conclusion. The election seems to be everywhere you turn, and unsurprisingly, that includes social media.

Elections provide their own set of challenges for marketers, even if your brand has nothing to do with the election. Here are three key takeaways for social media that we’ve identified that are particularly important during election season.

Increase in Political Noise

From billboards, to TV ads, to social media, it’s hard to avoid the election. Candidates both cause and experience a huge increase in digital activity as the big day gets closer.  While your brand may have nothing to do with such content, it is still taking up space that could otherwise be filled with your brand. Some of this content is candidate promotion, news stories, or simply conversations about the candidates. Social platform algorithms will favor this content, not just because people want political content, but because it’s the hot topic that everyone is talking about.

Decrease in Organic Performance

Along with this increase in political content comes a corresponding decrease in your brand’s social media performance. Not only are you competing with huge volumes of political content, but other brands are increasing their advertising budgets to rise above the noise. It’s going to be tough to compete in this crowded arena, but polls from the Pew Research Center suggest that 46% of social media users were already feeling exhausted by political posts on social media. And that was a year ago! If users are taking breaks from social media, whether for days, weeks, or months at a time, you can expect to see a dip in organic metrics (reach, engagement and followers).

Increase in Ad Cost

It’s the simple law of supply and demand; as demand for political ad space increases, the cost of those ad placements will increase. Combine this with some users taking a break from social media, and you are going to get much less for your ad dollars.

Home Stretch

The good news for all of us is that the end of the latest political season is coming to a close. In the meantime, you are going to want to level-set your expectations for social performance for the next couple of weeks. And take heart, once this is over, there will be an increased appetite for new and different content. That’s when your brand can make a statement. To learn more about improving your social media and metrics, connect with one of our experts.

Four Tips for Effective Virtual Brainstorms

Collaboration is critical to the creative process. And where collaboration often begins is with brainstorming…that moment when a project team puts their heads together to come up with a solution for the problem at hand. It takes planning to conduct a good brainstorming session. Without proper planning, it can be a colossal waste of time.

Now, imagine the kind of chaos that can come from brainstorming with people in various locations. Due to ongoing precautions related to COVID-19, many, including the O’Keeffe team, continue to operate remotely. We’ve had to adjust the ways we collaborate to ensure we can still meet the demands of the job.

So, how do you replicate the effectiveness of collaborating in person?

1. Distribute the Topic and Goal in Advance

Reviewing the topic and goal at the beginning of the meeting can cost valuable time and just sucks more air out of the room. By distributing the topic and goal in advance, your team will have an opportunity to prepare. Ask each individual to come to the session with a few ideas so you can jump right into the discussion.

2. Set a Time Limit

Be respectful of the team members’ time. With many working from home, it’s easy to unknowingly encroach on personal time or obligations that come from working remotely. Also, keep in mind that teams aren’t always in the same time zone. So, while running a little long might not be a problem for you, it can interrupt someone else’s dinner.

3. Stay Focused

Appoint a facilitator who can establish and maintain focus on the topic at hand. It can be difficult for teams to stay on track for an extended period of time. One topic can lead to another, and the next thing you know your hour is up and you have accomplished very little.

4. Follow Up

It’s important that you don’t let your brainstorm session become a waste of time and energy. It’s essential that you turn those ideas from the brainstorm into actions. The facilitator should follow up with participants to remind them of ideas generated and any “to do” lists for the team to turn those ideas into reality. The O’Keeffe team creates a Google Doc to house all of the information from our meetings so participants can add to the conversation.

Effective virtual brainstorms can be conducted; they just take a little extra time and preparation. Hopefully, these tips can help you get started and stay on track. How is your team navigating brainstorms in the age of Zoom meetings? Let us know!

O’Keeffe PR launches Brand Steward Services; led by former P&G NA Regulatory and Technical External Relations Manager

New service helps organizations evaluate product and business risks and develop action plans to mitigate risks; advises on interaction with government agencies.

O’Keeffe PR, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based content marketing and public relations agency, announces that Rick Hackman, former leader of The Procter & Gamble Company’s (PG) North America Regulatory and Technical External Relations Organization, has joined the O’Keeffe team to launch its Brand Steward Services division.

Brand Steward Services leverages Hackman’s 33 years of experience at P&G to advise companies and organizations in diverse industries on how to identify and assess business risks related to products and services, how to create plans to mitigate risks, and how to interact with government agencies in managing risk and crisis situations, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. Enhanced by Hackman’s expertise, O’Keeffe can guide organizations in addressing top threats to their brands, training key personnel, providing scenario planning, and developing respected external stakeholders who will stand by an organization in times of need. 

“The potential for damage to brands seems to lurk around every corner in today’s hyper-social and visualized world. Rick brings an unparalleled mix of experience, wisdom and clarity that can help brands navigate and overcome obstacles that otherwise could sink an organization’s future,” said Dan O’Keeffe, O’Keeffe PR’s CEO and founder. “We’re excited to have Rick join our team and now raise the bar globally for quality and longevity to enterprises and brands.”

During his time with P&G, Hackman led key interactions with critical regulatory agencies, developed trusting relationships with key external stakeholders to build and protect the business, and led crisis preparedness and business continuity planning (BCP) for P&G’s North American organization. Hackman was instrumental in helping to resolve important product safety issues and challenges across a variety of P&G brands. At O’Keeffe, Hackman will help organizations evaluate their product and business risks, develop action plans to mitigate identified risks and develop business-building relationships with professional and technical thought leaders.

Hackman joining O’Keeffe broadens O’Keeffe’s services to include:

  • Guidance for new product launches
  • Reputation management
  • Interactions with government agencies
  • Crisis preparedness and management
  • Risk communication
  • Stakeholder outreach and development
  • Scenario planning
  • Corporate governance
  • Product stewardship
  • Advisory board development
  • Media Relations and internal communications.

About O’Keeffe PR

O’Keeffe PR is a public relations and content marketing agency focused on helping its clients tell the right story, on the right channel, to the right audience, at the right time. Founded nearly two decades, O’Keeffe specializes in both B2C and B2B outreach, with clients ranging from technical organizations to nonprofits to retail, restaurants, and CPG organizations. From media placements to social media engagement, O’Keeffe delivers outcomes that extend beyond the limitations of traditional PR methods and works to become a seamless extension of its clients’ marketing teams. With the right mix of strategy and outreach, O’Keeffe can drive awareness and create opportunities for prospects to convert to customers and even advocates. O’Keeffe aims to be the best partner in storytelling by providing best-in-class strategy and services to its clients.

5 Steps to Creating a Technical Thought Leadership Strategy

Especially on the technical side of client accounts, it’s a common occurrence to meet a company that’s clearly among the experts in their space but unsure of how to market themselves. In many of these cases, the space in which they operate could be highly niche and separated by several degrees from the public eye. Often times, these companies make the products that go into the products that make the products that most people know and use every day.

The common course of action for companies who find themselves in this position is to rely solely on direct sales. And understandably so. A talented, experienced sales team who knows the industry inside and out, and has spent years and years developing relationships with contacts at all the various players within the industry can be a dependable rainmaker for a technical organization. The only problem here is when that is a company’s sole source of outreach. It’s important to cast a wider net by developing a well-orchestrated thought leadership strategy in order to go after the fish that aren’t directly in your sales team’s sights, as well as control your reputation and brand equity beyond what others are saying about you.

If you are a technical organization thinking about expanding beyond your direct sales efforts, the following steps should help you get off the ground.

Step 1: Admit that you are an expert

The first step is simply to realize the value of the expertise that your company possesses. As a technical company, it’s sometimes hard to see past your immediate circle and realize that there is a wider demand for your knowledge beyond just your current customers.

Step 2: Join the larger conversation

If you aren’t already doing it, go out to find and join the conversations other members of your industry are currently having with each other. Technical companies sometimes cringe at the thought of social media. But there is a lot of information exchange happening on social platforms that you can take advantage of, especially if you use the right platform. Do your research and see what people are talking about. Follow influencers, build your network, and share and comment on the posts that interest you.

Step 3: Identify your contributions and your contributors

Figure out where you can contribute to this conversation. Look inside your company for developing technologies you can talk about, or ways your company’s products or services are influencing a larger trend. Also, find your subject matter experts. Who are the champions of your company’s technologies? Who are the technical experts with the knowledge you’d like to show off to the world? Chances are, they’d be prime candidates to comment on current trends or offer input to a trade magazine feature article.

Step 4: Make a plan

Once you identify your list of topics, make a calendar with plans for producing and pushing out content showcasing your knowledge on these topics. Be sure to include with your plans how you plan to publish your content. Is it an article with wide appeal to the industry? If so, a relevant trade journal might be a good fit. Is it a white paper demonstrating in-depth one of your company’s products? Consider “gating” this white paper on your company website and posting links on your social channels to garner attention and gather valuable sales leads.

Step 5: Steady does it

Especially with your owned media (blogs, podcasts, etc), it’s important to establish a regular rhythm at which viewers can expect new articles or episodes to be published, and then stick with it. Marketing this way has a cumulative effect, and it takes commitment to a steady and regular schedule of content in order to build your following and establish your credibility. If at first you don’t see life changing results, don’t despair! Stick with your plan, and pretty soon you’ll be able to watch the needle move in your favor.

There you have it. While I hope this helps, I also know it’s easier said than done. What other questions do you have? Feel free to reach out!

How to Breathe New Life Into Old Content

Content marketing is a great way to engage new prospects. But, constantly churning out marketing content is unrealistic. Leveraging old content, however, is free.

You spent a lot of time and effort to create your messaging, which you dutifully employed in your marketing. It’s all over your website and social media. You used it in email distribution to your network and perhaps even in a blog or white paper. That’s great, but do you realize fresh content doesn’t age well? Within weeks, the search bots have moved on, your customers have seen it, perhaps read it and moved on, and a prospect probably had no reason to read it to begin with. Why? Because a customer or prospect views content from a singular perspective: what’s in it for me?

Content marketing is one of the most important ways to attract a prospect to engage with your brand. Sadly, unless you have a dedicated team who understands the true purpose of content, and with a mandate to continually churn out fresh content and gain followers, simply distributing your elevator speech will not suffice. It’s expensive and time-consuming to build new creative. So, the odds are that at some point you’ll find yourself trying to figure out how to create marketing content on a budget. 

The 3 Rs of Creating Marketing Content on a Budget

Any marketing department with a content campaign running typically follows these steps:

  • Build a piece of content (white paper, video, infographic, etc.) that speaks to your audience with useful and meaningful solutions to their issues.
  • Add the content piece to your website.
  • Push the content piece out via your social channels.
  • Send the content piece out via email to your distribution list.

Then you quickly move on to the next piece of content or campaign for the rinse and repeat cycle.

It costs a whole lot to create new content, and it’s far more economical to pull historic content off the shelf to give it a new lease on life. An easy way to think about how to accomplish this is with the “3 R’s” of content creation – Repurpose, Reposition and Reuse.

Repurpose

Let’s say the content piece is from last year. It’s a topic that’s worked and still has legs. However, your audience has seen this particular piece. It might be time to re-purpose the content. With this strategy, you take one piece of content and turn it into a bunch of other pieces using the same core content. Turn a single white paper into one or more blog posts, a slide deck, and a podcast. The expanded variety of media will engage with a new set of prospects, who may not have been interested in reading long-form content. To capture potential leads, direct visitors to the original white paper as a call to action in the introduction of the repurposed content.

Reposition 

Sometimes just changing up how the white paper is positioned with a few small edits to the body copy and a new headline will create something that looks and feels new. What has happened within your industry since the original white paper was published? Is there a new, fresh twist that can be included? This is probably the simplest way to breathe some life into an older piece.

Reuse

You’ve already shared this content. The whole world has already seen it, so why do they want it again? While I’d love to think that everybody reads each email, dives into every blog post, and absorbs all the points of the original content, it just doesn’t work that way. Your customers and prospects only care about your content if it is meaningful when they need it, and their needs don’t always align with your marketing calendar. What wasn’t of interest six months ago, could be the answer to their current problem. Hit re-send to the people that didn’t open the email or click on the original link. In addition, think of all the contacts you’ve added to your database since you first published the piece. They don’t know it’s repurposed. Remember, there is a lot of content out there. Your visitors are pummeled with messages every day. Use these strategies and engage people that have shown some level of interest and that will find it useful and relevant.

Need Some Extra Hands to Create Marketing Content?

Reach out to us! We can help you develop a strategy and create compelling content that targets your audience.

Meet Claire Chick

Help us welcome a new team member to the O’Keeffe team! Claire joins us with 20 years of experience in public relations, marketing, and investor relations.

Hi there, I’m the newest member of the O’Keeffe team as well as a newbie to the Cincinnati area! I relocated here for my husband’s job after I spent many years working in PR and marketing just up the road in Dayton. I’m thrilled to join such a hard-working, intelligent and fun group of people. It takes teamwork and collaboration to deliver superior results for our clients and we have a great one here.

I have a passion for communications and I have a particular interest in crisis communications and reputation management. I have worked on developing crisis plans for both large and small companies as well as nonprofits.

What’s your best piece of advice for a new marketer?

Don’t ever stop learning. This business is constantly evolving with trends, tactics and technology changing quickly, and as marketers, we need to change with them. You can learn something from people in all stages of their career, from the CEO to the intern.

If you could tell our clients one thing, what would it be?

We consider ourselves your strategic partner. And in order for us to be the best possible partner for your business, we’ll need a thorough understanding of your business, your competition and your strategic plans for growth. We can’t be effective if we don’t have the full picture.

What was the last book you read?

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. It’s a fantastic story of two siblings, spanning five decades, and their relationship to each other and to the third character, the House. It’s a grown-up fairy tale complete with motherless children and a wicked stepmother. I can’t wait to see the inevitable movie/TV series. If you like audiobooks, Tom Hanks does a great job of narrating this one.

Favorite word?

Sweetie. I use this instead of my kids’ names when I’m talking to them. But I promise I’m not one of those people who uses it with strangers.

Least favorite word?

Moist. Isn’t that everyone’s?

What profession other than marketing would you like to attempt?

I would love to be a travel or food writer. Polly Campbell of the Cincinnati Enquirer has my dream job.

Tell me two truths and a lie.

I’ve lived overseas. I’m a great dancer. I’m addicted to Diet Coke.

What Happens When Operational or Individual Employee Misconduct Creates a Business Crisis?

After Uber’s license was suspended in London, we had to wonder how PR professionals were handling the situation…

London’s transport regulator has ruled that Uber cannot renew its license in the city because of a “pattern of failures” that puts passenger safety and security at risk. The company has 21 days to appeal (Update: as of December 16, they have appealed) the decision and can continue to operate in the city during that time.

What Happened?

The UK government transport authority, Transport for London, found out that more than 14,000 trips booked through Uber’s platform had been taken with uninsured drivers. It said the company was failing to do adequate checks on drivers, insurance, and safety, and breaches in these things had put passengers at risk. The biggest issue it identified was that a change to Uber’s systems let unauthorized drivers upload their photos to other drivers’ accounts, meaning customers couldn’t be sure they’d get the driver they had booked. Crucially, the regulator said it did “not have confidence that similar issues will not reoccur in the future,” which has led it to conclude that the company “is not fit and proper at this time.”

There are 45,000 drivers who work for Uber in the UK capital who await a final decision over the future of their jobs. It won’t necessarily be a major blow to consumers, who can pick from one of the many other ride-hailing apps available, or get one of the city’s famous black cabs.  But what will be the long-term impact on Uber’s ability to continue providing ride-hailing services around the world? Will other cities follow suit and ban the service? And how in the heck is a PR professional supposed to spin this story?

A PR Professional’s Answer:

You must never spin anything. Spinning a story without company management addressing the underlying cause of the crisis is like trying to put lipstick on a pig. It will still be a pig, only with red lips. What is required is for Uber to clean up its operational act rather than try and cover it up, and to then initiate Public Relations to tell the story of how they used this event as a wake-up call to improve their services and the safety of the consumers.

How to Properly Communicate a Business Crisis:

Publicly recognize there is a problem. Provide a detailed plan the company will initiate to fix the problem, and regularly self-report on the company’s progress. Good news can trump bad news ONLY if it’s true and authentic.

Are You in a Business Crisis?

Get ahead of the situation and contact us. In the meantime, check out some of our content on crisis communication, like Dan’s take on how to handle a crisis, or Lisa’s video on identifying if you are really in a crisis.