This weekend I went to Paris and I felt like I was one of Jacatot’s students. I had four years of high school french under my belt but was falsely confident in my abilities. The first day was overwhelming yet after being thrown into a place where I was forced to learn the language, I found that it came easier than I thought. Jacatot is right: intelligence can be measured not by one’s innate abilities, but by how much one wants to learn. When I was starving, hungry and cold, I had never been so motivated to learn a language, specifically, how to ask where the closest cheap restaurant was.
Viral videos have become such an important part of pop culture. Everyone knows the classics (i.e. “Charlie Bit My Finger”) but these videos can do more than entertain.
They can bring light to troubling problems. This year millions of people watched Karen Klein, a 68-year-old bus monitor, get verbally abused by the children riding the bus. Viewers were appalled by the children’s behavior, and one group raised over $750,000 for Ms. Klein to go on a vacation.
They can unite a nation. Millions watched with baited breath as Felix Baumgartner jumped out of a small space craft and free fell to Earth, breaking the world record for longest free fall.
Perhaps most important to public relations professionals, viral videos can bring your client into the spotlight and expose their brand in a matter of days. Psy, a South Korean singer, uploaded his hit song “Gangnam Style” to YouTube and it became the first ever video to reach over 1 billion views on YouTube. He received almost instant celebrity status.
How to Make a Video Go Viral
So, for public relations practitioners who need a way to put their client in the spotlight, a viral video may be the answer. Here are 5 important tips for ensuring your video gets seen.
1. It has to be interesting
There’s a reason not every video on the internet goes viral. The key to making your video a success is making it interesting enough to be viral in the first place. Apple‘s advertisements have been extremely successful on YouTube because they are interesting. There isn’t a customer on screen talking about how much they love Apple’s products. They are innovative, cute, and to the point.
2. Utilize Social Media
Social media is the main catalyst for getting a video to go viral. Post it on Facebook. Tweet the link at your friends, coworkers, family members, news outlets, celebrities – basically ANYONE that might care about your client’s video. Newer applications like Vine and Instagram could even be used to promote videos. For clients that have a big following on social media, more people will see it quickly. If your client doesn’t have a huge following, make sure to share your video with people that you know or accounts that publish similar content to get more retweets or reposts.
3. Submit the video to websites and other major media outlets
Using traditional media outlets is just as important as using social media. If your client is a local company, try submitting your video to the online version of the local newspapers or magazines. Have a client that is already a big name in the industry? Submit the video to websites that discuss similar topics. If your video is funny, get creative! Send it in to TV shows that like to highlight YouTube videos each week. Shows like The Late Show with David Letterman, The Daily Show with John Stewart, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon show videos all the time. Maybe yours will be the lucky one that catches their eye!
4. Be persistant
This is the most important tip. Your client’s video is never going to get anywhere if you post it once and that’s it. It will be slow at first, because not as many people will be exposed to it. A video might need to be posted, 10, 20, even 50 times before it gets out to a lot of people. Tweeting the link at shows might not get their attention right away, but if you keep tweeting/posting the same thing at them over and over again, believe me, they’ll see it!
Succession planning is a key part of any organization. Who will take over? Who will take charge until a new CEO is named? Who will we select? A lot goes into selecting a new leader. There are many stakeholders who will be impacted – employees, stock holders, customers and clients, and the media. Companies have to be extremely careful when deciding how and when to announce these types of major changes.
Where Social Media Comes In
23% of social media users check their accounts five times or more every day (Huffington Post). With staggering statistics like these, one can see why a company should strongly consider announcing successions via social media. Although press releases and posts on a company’s website are also useful tools, social media is the fastest and easiest way to spread information.
The Livestrong Example
On Wednesday, October 17, 2012, Livestrong announced that Lance Armstrong, the man who has stood behind Livestrong since its beginnings, was stepping down as the chairman of the company. After battling rumors of using steroids during his Tour de France races for years, he finally admitted that the rumors were in face true. As a result, he stepped down in an effort to protect the integrity of the Livestrong brand.
Here is the original tweet posted by Livestrong:
The Livestrong blog also issued an official statement. By using Twitter and linking the tweet to an official blog post, Livestrong offered both a quick update on the chairman’s status as well as an in-depth description of the situation.
- Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites are the quickest and easiest way to spread information regarding a succession
- Social media can be used to lead people to more comprehensive information
- Social media must be embraced when a company announces a succession, not ignored
Wanted: Married Couple to Fly by Mars.
Baby was Tossed Out in Grocery Bag.
Vermont Woman Receives Face Transplant.
These are the types of headlines that appear on the front page of any reputable news website. The examples I just named are from ABCNews.com and CNN.com. What does it mean about newsworthiness today if headlines like these overpower other subjects like politics, war, and the economy?
It means that our society is fascinated with the new and unusual. It means that we won’t bother even looking at a news website if something doesn’t catch our eye quickly. As has been acknowledged many times, we live in a society of scanners. We quickly look over what is either short enough to take the time to read, or interesting enough to invest our time in.
Since the development of Twitter, I think that “real” news on news websites has become even more scarce because people have the luxury of reading the day’s highlights in 140 characters. CNN, The New York Times, ABC News, USA Today and other major news outlets are constantly updating their Twitter accounts with the latest news. Who wants to read a 500 word story when it can be told in a tweet?
What does this mean for public relations professionals? It means that our stories better be pretty darn interesting. Unless a story directly relates to a reader, they won’t look twice if it’s not interesting enough to compete with everything else on the home page of a news website.
I think that the best tool out there for PR practitioners is Twitter. If the tweets are crafted well enough, audiences can look at the tiny microblog and know everything they need to know about a story or an event. Unless the story you are trying to pitch is about a seven-headed fish crawling out of a local high school’s toilet, Twitter is the best tool for public relations professionals.
The 2012 presidential election proved to be a social media milestone. Twitter specifically was hit with millions of tweets regarding the big day. A timeline of Election Day tweets shows the magnitude of people using social media to express their thoughts about the election.
- 7:45 p.m. ET – Twitter reported there were more than 11 million #Election2012 tweets
- 8:30 p.m. ET – Twitter had hit a new peak: 65,000 tweets per minute bringing up the total count of tweets to 13 million
- 9:26 p.m. ET – Twitter hits another new peak at 66,019 tweets per minute when the Pennsylvania results were announced
- 10:16 p.m. ET – Twitter hit 20 million election-related tweets, making it the most tweeted-about event in U.S. political history
- 11:16 p.m. ET – Barack Obama broke the news via a tweet: “Four More Years” which by 11:25 p.m. had 128,469 retweets
Not only did citizens of the world use Twitter to talk about the election, but the two most important people of the day also used the tool. Obama definitely held the upper hand when it came to social media. Romney’s efforts paled in comparison.
Here’s a brief comparison of the two candidate’s social media efforts:
31 million likes
11 million likes
24 million followers
1.7 million followers
70,000 notes per post
400 notes per post
Laura Olin and her social media team were behind President Obama’s, First Lady Michelle Obama’s and Vice President Biden’s Facebooks, Twitters, Tumblers, Spotifys and Instagrams. During the election, 60% of the voters between the ages of 18-29 voted for Obama (newmediarockstars.com). Is it safe to say that these voters were influenced by the Obama campaign’s social media presence? I believe it is.
Are there negatives associated with the implementation of social media strategies during an election? Possibly.
Although social media had a seemingly huge impact on the 18-29 demographic, older citizens may not take advantage of the platform. For all of the time and energy that goes into Tweets and Facebook posts, a large majority of the country won’t even see the outcomes. I think it is important that the campaign managers stay equally as focused on other media coverage.
Also, if social media accounts are not monitored closely, they may as well not exist. People like Laura Olin and her team have to be on top of things at all times. If a mistake is made in a Tweet or post, millions of people can find out in minutes.
Overall, I think that social media had an overwhelmingly positive impact on the presidential campaigns, at least for Obama. This election should prove to future candidates running for office that social media is not a platform to be ignored.
If a nonprofit group endorses another nonprofit on social media, are they hindering their own success?
I recently received an email from an internship supervisor regarding the organization’s Twitter. I manage their Twitter account, and the organization I work for is a nonprofit.
In this email, she said I should never retweet another nonprofit organization, endorse them, or even follow them. She said that it would take away from our organization.
I can see where someone might get this idea, but I have recently learned otherwise.
I am currently enrolled in a class called Social Media in the Enterprise. One of the required texts is a book called Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. They actually say the opposite of what my supervisor told me.
According to Trust Agents:
- An organization should promote other companies more than themselves
- This builds relationships
- Relationships make people trust your company
- Organizations have to control their ego and not always post about themselves
- Organizations should aim to be “one of us”
By censoring the organization’s Twitter page, is my supervisor actually hindering potential success? New theories on the importance of establishing relationships between an organization and other organizations and audiences suggest that this may not be the best route to take.
New social media and collaboration tools have started popping up in work places. These tools can be used for face-to-face communication, sharing files, and even creating a private social network for an organization. These tools clearly have many benefits, but there are some drawbacks too.
First, here’s a brief description of three tools being used by companies today:
Skype – a program that allows users to video conference, message, and share information with other users.
Yammer – allows companies to create their own private social networks designed like Facebook or Twitter.
Slideshare – the world’s largest community for sharing presentations. Users can share presentations, documents, PDFs, webinars, and videos.
One important factor of internal communication is that it should be personalized. Employees need to feel like they are an important part of the organization. If they are being sent generic, pre-written emails, they won’t feel like they are an integral part of the organization.
Using a tool like Yammer can make internal communication very personal. With a setup like Facebook or Twitter, each post or microblog is unique to the situation. Tools like these also allow for group dialogue between employees and employers.
Remote Workers and Globalization
Another benefit of these new collaboration tools is their ability to connect employees across long distances. Skype is an especially useful tool for connecting members of an organization who are working remotely.
Skype and other similar tools can also help companies globalize their company or product. Video conferences are a great way to connect with potential partners in various parts of the world. Since the program is free and also allows for sharing files, it is a great alternative to a regular conference call.
One negative aspect of these new tools could be that they don’t provide enough structure for people to quickly find what they are looking for. This could be especially true with private social networks. With everyone posting and commenting on things, certain messages may be lost.
Exclusion of Employees
These new tools could also potentially exclude members of an organization who are uncomfortable using new technologies. It would be very overwhelming if a company converted all forms of internal communication to a digital medium. People who have been receiving printed newsletters and desk memos might not adapt to programs like Yammer and SlideShare.
If an organization uses these new programs, it should be a gradual transition. This way, everyone has time to adapt to the change and really learn all of the benefits of the tool.
“With great power comes great responsibility”
While social media has proven to be extremely useful in many ways, Hurricane Sandy showcased how the tool can also be misused during times of uncertainty and panic.
According to New York Magazine, Hurricane Sandy is already being marked as a coming-of-age moment for Instagram, the photo-sharing service acquired by Facebook last year, which saw uploads of up to ten images per second tagged #Sandy during the storm. However, a lot of images shared before, during, and after the storm have been proven to be edited.
A poignant photo of soldiers standing guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns, a picture of a giant wave slamming into the Statue of Liberty and pictures of sharks swimming in the streets of N.J. all flooded the internet. None of them were true.
These images sometimes resulted in false reporting by major news outlets. A false report and edited photos that showed the 109-year-old building that houses the stock exchange flooded made such an impact that CNN reported the untrue information.According to USA Today, CNN spokesperson Bridget Leininger said that CNN referenced a National Weather Service report that turned out to be incorrect. The National Weather Service spokesperson said that they got the information from several local New York City media outlets who had posted it on Twitter.
As evidenced by this incorrect reporting, a simple picture can result in a multitude of falsities, all of which will eventually need to be corrected. Fake and edited pictures were abundant during Hurricane Sandy, and contributed to the panic that people were feeling across the country.
The Good Side – Relief Efforts
There were benefits of using social media during Hurricane Sandy. Many relief organizations publicized their efforts using various social media platforms.
Katie Benner, usually a writer for Fortune, created a Tumblr called Sandy Sucks in the aftermath of the hurricane. On it she posted a daily list of ways that people could help. It effectively connected people who wanted to help to ways that they could do so. Within four days of being created, Sandy Sucks had gotten 3,000 unique visitors
12-12-12 Sandy Relief Concert
The 12-12-12 Sandy Relief concert was jam-packed with social media elements. The hashtag #121212concert was used to promote the event. Various celebrities, including the performers at the event, were tweeting using the hashtag and posting pictures of themselves onstage. The hashtag was also scrolling across the screen as the concert was being broadcast live on 37 different networks in the U.S. and 100 overseas.
The 121212concert.org site had links to Instagram, Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ where people could look for more information about the event. Members of the audience were encouraged to live-tweet during the concert using the hashtag.
Even though fake photos were abundant and some instances of false reporting occurred, I think the majority of the social media used during Hurricane Sandy was positive. It made it easy for people to find out what was going on, and help with relief efforts if they wanted to. The 12.12.12 Concert was a huge success, raising about $50 million for hurricane relief efforts, according to The New York Times.
Hurricane Sandy proved that when it comes to social media, you have to take the good with the bad.
Hearing Christy talk about social media was a very valuable experience. Being the web content manager for the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, she knows what she’s talking about.
The same day, I also had the privilege of hearing Anthony Rotolo, Syracuse iSchool professor, talk about the benefits of using social media. His signature class, know by the hashtag #RotoloClass, has been called a “Twitter legend.”
Both professionals spoke about reasons to use social media, and they both agreed on four specific factors; to widen your outreach, to find out more about your audience, to build relationships, and to increase revenue.
Widen Your Outreach
No tool has ever existed that allows organizations or individuals to widen their outreach more than social media. With the click of a button, users can instantaneously connect with other users who are potential clients, investors, or audiences. The bigger a network is, the more opportunities there are for growth.
To Find Out More About Your Audience
Just as it’s important for your audience to know about you, it’s important that you know about your audience. By looking at what they are posting and responding to, you can better understand what they expect from you or your organization. You can even cater your message to appeal to the audience more.
To Build Relationships
So, now that you know about your audience and your audience knows about you, a relationship can start to form. Social media has made it possible for relationships to form without ever having to directly interact with the person. While this can be scary in some cases (the show Catfish is a good example of social media personal relationships gone bad), it can be extremely helpful in the case of organizations and their audiences.
To Increase Revenue
If a company uses social media to its upmost efficiency, it can even increase revenue for the organization. Promoting services or offering special deals on different social media platforms encourages audiences to frequent a company’s social media accounts. This ideally results in more revenue for the company.
I really enjoyed Christy’s talk on social media, as well as Professor Rotolo’s. The fact that both of them touched upon four of the same exact reasons for using social media shows that it really needs to be considered an integral part of any organization. It should no longer be thought of as an add-on or a novelty.
“Have confidence in your dreams, they are the soul’s longing for expression”
When I was younger I wanted to be a doctor. Or a veterinarian. Or a teacher. I wanted to help people and change people’s lives for the better. I wanted to feel like people depended on me.
As I neared my senior year of high school, I realized I get queasy around needles and I passed out just watching my 75-pound chocolate lab Roxy get a shot. My doctor and veterinarian dreams were done. I also spent two summers nannying and realized that I could not possibly work with children all day. So just about to apply to colleges, I was left with wanting to help people.
As I unwillingly began the college application process, I came across Syracuse University. I was looking at different programs and started reading about the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. I called my mom into the room, and had her look at the different majors. I asked her what she thought about public relations.
“You can’t do that,” she said. “PR is so cutthroat. You’re too nice for that.”
As it turns out, mothers are not always right.
In my almost two years at Newhouse, I have turned my dream of helping people into a reality. In a field where most outsiders think we all run around the city, attending black-tie affairs and drinking cocktails like Samantha Jones, it’s sometimes hard to show people the good that can be done.
The aspect of public relations that I am most interested in is Community Relations. I want to work for corporations, reaching out to their publics and helping the surrounding community.
I am currently an Assistant PR Director for the on-campus publication, What the Health magazine. I help promote special events like our “Love Your Body Day.” I have shadowed people in the Philadelphia Phillies Community Relations department, which is responsible for raising money for various charities, providing mentorships between children and the players, and even working with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to give VIP tours to terminal patients.
My latest endeavor is interning with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. My grandma had MS for my whole life and being able to raise awareness for MS and plan various walks and bikes to fight the disease has further shown me how versatile public relations can be.
All of these experiences have proved that PR can be used as a tool to make a difference in the world, or if not the world, at least to one person. I am so excited to continue pursuing a degree in public relations and see where it can take me.
P.S. My mom now believes that I am cut out for a career in public relations.