Posts Tagged ‘Public Relations


Managing Crisis Communications in the World of 24/7 Citizen Reporters

Old school public relations is no longer effective in the world of 24/7 social media information, so there should be no expectations that traditional media management will be effective in a crisis. However, until you are in the throws of a crisis, you never really know what or how much exposure you will be managing. Take this opportunity to learn from those of us who have been there. Our sleepless nights can be your handbook for future success.

Through managing recent crisis communication situations, we have compiled valued lessons to share with our fellow communication professionals.

1. The media cycles with the moon

The news may not sleep, but fortunately, reporters do. Unfortunately, however, when the sun is down in one country, it is up in another. Be prepared for the cycles of the media. Within the first four hours of a recent international crisis we could predict the media cycles and when the influx of calls would come. Europe was first to call, followed by the east coast and Canada. Not far behind were the Central, Mountain & Pacific time zones. Many of the national outlets had LA offices covering the shooting, so we knew what time frame they were working on. We also knew our deadlines for follow-up and how to juggle interviews based on the time of their news broadcasts.

2. Social media will kill a good plan every time

There is nothing like a media black out to be exposed by Twitter. In a recent case, it was celebrity visits that were leaked. The visits were uplifting and incredibly appreciated, however keeping these visits “quiet” was all but impossible thanks to our world of social media. Expect tweets and Facebook photo posts to trigger an onslaught of media inquiries and induce the media to show up for their own photo opportunities. Arguments with reporters suck, so be prepared with how to answer questions you “can’t answer.” It’s a terrible position for a PR person to be placed in, but it is guaranteed to happen.

3. There will be audiences you have not yet thought of

The best laid communication plans will include all potential audiences. What I have learned is there will always be others you have yet to anticipate. Audiences on the periphery of your circle will have different motivations, and can innocently and inadvertently derail your primary messaging. They exist because they have access to communication vehicles that were not part of the news cycle a decade ago. Once they begin their own campaigns, you need to have a communication plan that deals directly with their needs and determines how to appropriately manage these additional audiences.

A crisis is a crisis because it is difficult to manage. Communication professionals train to deal with the challenges and are invaluable during a crisis, but even the best of us will all be tested and tired until the worst has passed. Expect the challenges, the long days and a lack of sleep. Bring an extra phone charger, plenty of coffee and call in assistance when you need it.

If you are interested in hearing more about crisis management, Tracy Weise will be speaking at the Colorado Health Care Communicators event on September 26, 2012 and again at the PRSA Colorado Springs Chapter on October 11, 2012. Or feel free to reach out to us at or email Tracy at


Six Ways to Jazz up a Pitch

Journalists are very busy and get thousands of emails a day. So, even very well targeted news pitches can be overlooked. However, how can you break through the clutter and get your pitch read?

Here are a few tips of how to break through by jazzing up your pitch:

  1. Have a great subject line for your email or introductory sentence for your phone pitch. A subject line with six words or less is key.
  2. Pitch your story as a process story. If your content is not particularly interesting, how did you get to that point and is that more interesting? This might be particularly useful for research-based stories. Did you use any unique processes to achieve your results?
  3. Pitch your story to an unorthodox beat. Are you pitching a biking story, how about tying into fashion, food or business related to biking instead of the typical sport beat?
  4. Tie into a tread, and I am not talking about fringe boots here. What IS the media covering and how can you be a part of it? Today, if you have a way to tie into SOPA or PIPA, your chances of getting coverage are greatly increased. Or, how about a story about the ubiquitous Tim Tebow?
  5. Leverage your existing assets. As any good communicator could tell you, half of our jobs are to repurpose and reconfigure old content, coverage and concepts. Do you have a company mascot and a yearly contest? Can you tie the two together in an interesting way?
  6. Make it a multimedia pitch. Use video and photos. Pitch on Twitter and Facebook.

Make your pitch interesting to read, view or listen to, and you just might break through.

Got other ways to jazz up your pitch and break through? We would love to hear your comments – here on The Side Note, @Weise_Ideas on Facebook.



5 Ways to Get the Media to Pick Up Your Story – Part 1 of 3

Please welcome guest blogger, healthcare communications professional Rachel Brand who will bring The Side Note a series of three blogs for the next three weeks on health care public relations.

Do you want to write more compelling press releases and earn more coverage?

You should. Health care is ripe with dramatic medical rescues, fascinating technology, unsung heroes and stirring ethical debates. But these stories often don’t get told. That’s because pr pros are writing leads like this:


The new health insurance plan, authorized by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is designed to provide coverage to uninsured individuals who have been denied health insurance or been offered only unaffordable options.

Sure, it’s important. But is it interesting? And – will it drive coverage?

1. Lead with the impact

For your next lede, ask yourself out loud, “what does it mean to the man in the green pick-up truck?” You can see him, across the park under the tree, sitting in his rusty forest green truck.

In other words, how does your news benefit, effect or change the lives of real people?

How about:

Thousands of uninsured Americans, desperate for healthcare coverage because they are chronically ill, can now see a doctor thanks to a new federally funded health insurance plan.

But what if your program doesn’t have any direct impact on people, at least not yet? Then…

2. Lead with people

Whether you are promoting a walk to fight cancer, a rally for homelessness, or the appointment of new CEO of your hospital, find a person and tell his or her story. Better, yet, tell the story of an important person in an unusual way.

Typical CEO appointment releases have headlines/first paragraphs like this:


(Anytown, USA) Lawrence Leader, currently the COO of St. Elizabeth’s Regional Hospital, has been appointed CEO of the hospital. He takes over as current CEO Marcy Mercy retires after a long and distinguished career.

But what if you took a half hour to find out Larry’s story?

The results might be:


(Anytown, USA) Larry Leader’s mother, a first-grade schoolteacher in Moline, IL, used to count out coins from her wallet each Saturday morning before grocery shopping. Rarely was there extra to buy candy.

Poor but strong-willed Florence Leader pushed her children to go to college. Larry, the youngest of five, enrolled as an Army medic to pay for it. …

The moral of the story? Writing a compelling press release that leads with the impact or leads with people is a better way to get the media to notice your press release.

(Continued next week)

Rachel Brand is a healthcare communications professional who can teach writing over brown bag lunches at your company. Contact her at rachel (at)


Health Care Marketing: Taking the Social Media Hippocratic Oath

Three key tips for physician-based social media

All physicians have a stake in their public perception; overlooking or minimizing the impact of social media in maintaining that presence is a recipe for disaster. With HIPAA regulations to consider, physicians are in a unique situation regarding their online persona. Here are a few tips designed to help physicians maintain a professional online presence and preserve the integrity of their relationship with patients. These tips are consistent with the American Medical Association social media policy released in November that highlight some of the things physicians should consider when focusing on their online presence.

Regularly monitor privacy settingsFacebook recently came under extreme scrutiny for unleashing face recognition software that provides identity suggestions for tagging people in photographs. A Los Angeles Times story describes the concerns which are part privacy and part the decision of Facebook to release the facial-recognition feature as an ‘opt-out’ feature. Massachusetts Rep. Edward J. Markey, co-chairman of the Congressional Privacy Caucus expressed his frustration, “Requiring users to disable this feature after they’ve already been included by Facebook is no substitute for an opt-in process.”  The only way to disable the feature is to update privacy settings.

Positioning information from a qualified source – The public needs information from the health care community. Providing information from a trusted, qualified health care professional will balance the misinformation gathered from outside sources including the Internet. The best way to do that is to be informative about medical conditions, research, and treatment options in general terms. It is much better to say ‘Adults with the ____ syndrome typically display ____ symptoms, ’ than it is to say, ‘I saw a patient today with _____ syndrome and he/she displayed ____symptoms.’ Even inadvertent disclosure of patient’s health information can be a violation of HIPAA.

Maintain separate personal and professional social media accounts – This tactic has the benefit of allowing for more candor in a personal account and information sharing that is more relevant to that specific account. The professional account will have more work-related messages, inquiries and information. One of the challenges is managing multiple accounts. The solution is to use a social media tool like TweetDeck or HootSuite. Just be sure you know which account you are using to send information at all times.

Most importantly, recognize that online actions and posted content can negatively affect physicians’ reputations and may have career consequences.

Tell us if you’ve implemented policies to guide physicians in their online reputation. Share your thoughts with us on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow us on Twitter at @Weise_Ideas.


Breaking Down Barriers: Opportunity to Persuade

Have you subconsciously set up a complex layer of impenetrable defense to fend off the daily bombardment of marketing messages? If so, you are not alone.  Today, I was conducting ‘man on the street’ interviews to gain some market insight for a client.  I faced a lot of rejection – primarily it was skeptical people that offered a quick excuse to get me to shine on.

What I was sensing was people tired of being the target of another marketing message.  It doesn’t matter if the message would be interesting to them – they raise their defense.

I began looking for opportunities to raise trust, like giving directions to Old Navy, pointing out the closest restrooms and holding the door open for a Mom and her stroller. I thought if I gained trust through those actions, I may be more successful in securing interviews.

Then, I wondered if I could identify windows of opportunity to persuade people that I can leverage as a marketer.  Here is my list:

  • When the prospect is indebted to me because I did them a favor (I think this was my subconscious attempt to gain trust)
  • When the prospect is in a really good mood
  • When the prospect is searching for a logical answer to an illogical situation

I also thought of two times when I am likely to be defenseless against being persuaded, don’t know if I can leverage this as a marketer, but interesting never-the-less:

  • Immediately after I have made a mistake
  • Shortly after I have denied someone a simple request

We see attempts by advertisers to shift our mindset and thereby lower our defenses to create a window for persuasion.  Advertisers use humor to put people in a good mood. We’ve seen advertisers in the recent political campaign position candidates as illogical and provide a different candidate as the solution.

Tell us if you create windows of persuasion with your marketing efforts, and if you have identified other times where the impenetrable defense is lowered. Share your ideas with us on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow @Weise_Ideas on Twitter.



Free tools everyone can use to prove ROI in social media

When starting a social media campaign for your company, the first question to ask yourself is why you want to participate in social media in the first place. If your reason for starting a social media campaign is because you want to improve your company by building your brand and developing a loyal following, then you have made the right decision. Still, you can’t improve what you don’t measure.

The hot topic of social media ROI measurement has been an ongoing debate since the start of social media marketing. Until recently there was a lack consistency when it came to measuring social media ROI. However, now there are free tools available that everyone can access in order to prove ROI for social media.

If your company’s goal is to measure traffic, sales or SEO ranking the following free measurement tools can help:

  • Google Analytics- analyzes traffic to your company’s website or blog, subscriber count and keyword optimization.
  • Google Reader- allows you to enter a feed URL and returns statistics about its posts. The most popular statistic, based on how many times they are shared on different networking sites.
  • Google Alerts- allows you to set up alerts for keyword or brand name mentions across the web.
  • Social Meter- checks your website’s social popularity.
  • Get Clicky- shows every action a visitor makes when visiting your page.
  • Pagealizer- is a web analytics that suggests changes and optimizations for your page.
  • allows your company to compare your site’s performance to any other site.
  • a URL shortener that measures the popularity of links that are tweeted and also shows the number of clicks to the link. In then combines all the for a single URL into one report so you can see who is passing your links around.
  • Delicious- shows how many times pages from your site have been bookmarked by visitors.

These are just a few of the free social media measurement tools that are easily accessible for everyone.

If you have any other free sites for ROI, please share them here on The Side Note.


The All Too Often Forgotten Marketing Rule

The All Too Often Forgotten Marketing Rule: Don’t Forget What Makes Your Hospital Different

Here on The Side Note Blog we write a lot about how and why to implement certain aspects of marketing, advertising and public relations campaigns. We have covered SEO, mobile marketing, social media, outdoor advertising, TV advertising, branding, crisis communication and so on. It should not be forgotten however, that all of your marketing and advertising should never lose focus on what makes your hospital unique. What is the one thing that your hospital can hang its hat on? Is it quality product, service, price, convenience, atmosphere or location? Never lose focus on the one thing that makes your hospital – the reason patients will change doctors to have treatment at your facility. This reason needs to remain a fundamental part of your marketing message.

Take for example a full-service hospital known and recognized by the community for its excellent oncology services that is focused on growing the orthopedic service line. This hospital should write messaging targeted at getting people to remember that a hospital with great oncology services most likely has other world-class services as well – in this case orthopedics. Anchor yourself to your key differentiator whenever possible.

Maybe the thing that you can ride on is your location. Consider a fundamental focus on outdoor and radio advertising and put directional information on every billboard and in every radio ad. Regardless of what the overall message is, never run an ad without information on where the hospital is located.

Maybe the very best thing that your hospital offers is the quality of nursing care. Focus on this. Nurses spend more time with patients that physicians do, so talk about the care of nursing in all areas of your hospital. Use your nurses in your campaigns. Talk about the difference they make every day.

Regardless of the goals of individual campaigns, try to include your distinguishing component. Don’t ever let your audience forget what makes your hospital different from your competitors.


Adidas: The Model for Integrated Social Media Campaigns

As a part of ‘Every Team Needs a Fan’ campaign, Adidas is teaming up with recognizable athletes Reggie Bush, New Orleans Saints; Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic; BJ Upton, Tampa Bay Rays; and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. of NASCAR to engage sports fans across the U.S. for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Adidas is the provider of the World Cup game ball and is extending their awareness at the global event with these four brand ambassadors.

Reggie Bush traveled to South Africa, in addition to conducting interviews with multiple media outlets, he shared a picture (right) on his twitter account with U.S. player Jozy Altidore (also an Adidas athlete) minutes after the U.S. beat Algeria.

Each ambassador is posting Facebook updates, they are tweeting during and between World Cup games. Each one has shot YouTube videos. (Dwight Howard’s is the most entertaining.)  To get people even more engaged, there is a competition for the ambassadors to get the most fans and Dwight Howard is hosting a watch party in Atlanta for one winner that signed up through Facebook.

Here are many of the locations the integrated social media campaign appears:




Individual Websites

Adidas has done an exceptional job of extending their brand presence through athletes they have endorsement deals and having them cross-over into different sports which exposes fans of these other sports to these athletes and Adidas.

BJ Upton’s participation has been limited in this promotion, however he recently became embroiled in controversy and it is possible that Adidas downplayed his role in this campaign.  This shows Adidas flexibility to adjust the campaign on the fly and the flexibility of social media as a marketing tool to enable such adjustments.

Let Weise Communications on Facebook know about the best thoroughly integrated social media campaign you’ve seen.


Lack of Social Media Planning Spells Disaster for Capri Sun

Will Capri Sun recover from the negative press it is receiving about the mysterious growth found in an individual juice pouch purchased from BJ’S Wholesale Club in Homestead, Florida? That remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure, the lack of a social media plan has damaged Capri Sun.

It started on Memorial Day when Melissa Wiegand Brown posted this picture of a globule of gunk extracted from her son’s Capri Sun pouch on her Facebook page. Within hours, the FDA in Orlando was contacted, the picture went viral and the wild speculation began.  The gunk was sent to a lab for testing and it appears the first time Kraft Foods, Capri Sun parent company, got involved was asking for the results from the lab.


After a week of non-response, Kraft issued the following statement, “We recently received word from a consumer about an issue with a Capri Sun pouch. We understand that some of you are concerned. Now that we’ve tested the material, we’ve confirmed it was mold. While unpleasant, it is not a safety issue.”

Finally, Capri Sun has released a well done FAQ on the Kraft Facebook page to address consumer concerns. However, the Capri Sun’s lack of activity has not prevented the story from going mainstream, it appears in today’s Chicago Tribune.

There are four key elements to a social media crisis plan, let’s evaluate where Capri Sun fell short in this crisis for each of these elements.

1.    Build your network before you need your network.
You can’t start social media crisis communications in the middle of a crisis. Capri Sun’s lack of social media planning meant they were seeking people to join their social network instead of communicating with an already established network.

2.    Communicate quickly; acknowledge awareness and accept responsibility.
Capri Sun simply let too much time go by before communicating with the public on the story.  Speculation from human body parts, to animals, to questioning the production locations for Capri Sun were mentioned without response from Capri Sun. Acknowledging the concern as soon as possible, even just to day ‘We are investigating’ would have been a better approach.

3.    Communicate often; provide regular updates to stem the tide of rampant speculation.
Capri Sun allowed too much information to go unchallenged. When the hysterical comments are flowing, someone needs to answer them. It gives the appearance that Capri Sun does not take food safety seriously.

4.    Authenticity matters when speaking to customers, prospects, interested parties and the general public.

Even though they missed the timing, the latest communication from Vinay Sharma, director of Capri Sun Beverages expresses authenticity. “We appreciate that our Facebook community is so engaged and willing to share their point of view. Whenever you have questions about one of our products, it’s important that you’re in the know about what we know. It’s also important that you have the most accurate and up-to-date information from us.”

Capri Sun was only successful with one of the four social media crisis planning keys.  It will be interesting to see the impact on Capri Sun sales and the rehabilitation attempts Kraft implements to repair its image.

In the meantime, I’ll only be drinking 100 percent pure Florida orange juice.

Since we are building our network before we need it, check out Weise Communications on Facebook and “Like” it for future updates and follow us on Twitter.

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