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When it comes to content production and marketing, one of the biggest traps businesses fall into is trying to communicate through too many channels without a clear goal in mind. Thanks to the digital landscape on which we live, there are so many ways to create a message and even more ways to engage with people.

It’s a tremendous opportunity, and one that should not be taken for granted. However, therein lies the issue – many businesses fall under the FOMO spell (Fear Of Missing Out) and try to communicate through too many channels at once in in fear of failing to get their message across.


The end result is a waste of time and resources, and a number of KPIs that may never be met.


When I was a younger PR practitioner, there were times when my competence was judged on how many channels I could come up with to engage with our audience. For a while I was sure that the key to business success was to launch a message through every form of content known to man. The result was an audience who felt they were being spammed.


I soon realised that there was a difference between being strategic and being lazy. In order to ensure your message, and your business, succeeds, you must first ask ‘Why’ – why is this an effective medium for my message? Why will people respond to this form of communication?


I believe in using more than one channel for content production and marketing, but being strategic is vital.


So, how do you choose the right delivery for your content?


While it’s not fun to fail, experimenting with certain content marketing mediums is useful to find out how your audience engages with your brand. Pay attention to the data and take note of open rates, clicks, views and responses to ‘call-to-action’ prompts.


It’s also good to focus more on who you want to specifically engage with, rather than focusing first on how you wish to reach them. An internal newsletter, for example, via Mail Chimp or Vision 6 may be more effective for a mailing list of company members and sponsors.


Deciding on what to actually say should also be a priority over the medium. Would your message be more effective amongst the headlines of a reputable news source, or would it be better conveyed through a video shared through social media?


While there are certainly challenges involved, today’s landscape allows for great potential for the forward-thinking content producer with the ambition to properly utilise what is available.

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Producing high-quality narrative content can be time consuming and expensive. Whether it is based on research, customer testimonials or product focussed, your written content is the foundation of successful marketing.

Well-executed high-impact narrative content will address your buyers’ concerns at every potential stumbling block throughout the buying cycle, easing their worries and ushering them to the next step in the process. Despite its importance many marketers will make the fundamental error of utilising narrative content in too few channels, wasting the opportunity to supercharge their return on investment.

With some simple creative thinking every piece of content can, and should, be utilised across at least five different owned, earned and paid channels. Developing a simple strategy for each and every piece of content you produce to maximise its value across other channels should be a fundamental part of the ideation, planning and execution strategy. This re-purposing of content for alternative channels will supercharge your investment.

START WITH A FOUNDATIONAL PIECE

Over many years as a publicist I’ve learned that high-quality, proprietary research is PR ‘gold’. Insightful research packaged in a good media release can deliver many multiples of return from editorial coverage in the earned media.

But the story should never end there. The narrative essentials of a media release – strong headline, great lead paragraph, some quotes and background contextualisation – are often very specific to their purpose. However, like almost any piece of content produced for a specific purpose, it can form the genesis of countless other pieces.

While a media release is great for sending to journalists and storing on the news section of your website, the re-purposing of it it for other channels will significantly amplify its value.

CREATE A LONG-FORM, SEO-FRIENDLY FEATURE

Some of the most powerful content takes complex ideas and chunks them down into easily digestible bites – that is often the main purpose of a media release. For large parts of your audience, shortening narrative content down to a few hundred words or less is ideal. But for a small part of your audience, particularly if you work in the B2B space, long form content of more than 2,000 words can be extremely engaging and valuable.

Taking the time to expand your media release into a more detailed narrative and integrating an SEO keyword strategy with more of everything may take some time, it is these pieces that often become extremely valuable evergreen content that attracts traffic for months and years.

GO NATIVE

Many marketers often neglect using narrative content in paid media channels. Using narrative content in paid channels is primarily done using native advertising. For the uninitiated, native advertising is the use of paid ads that match the look, feel and function of the media format in which they appear.  Native ads are often found in social media feeds, or as recommended content on a web page. Unlike display ads or banner ads, native ads don’t really look like ads . They look like part of the editorial flow of the page.

READ MORE: Native Ad Spend Will Make Up Nearly 60% of Display Spending in 2018.

The key to native advertising is that it is non-disruptive – it exposes the reader to advertising content without sticking out like a sore thumb. Highly-engaging narrative content utilising the principals of narrative storytelling are most suited to native advertising.


TELL YOUR TEAM

The main priority of marketers requires that are often focussed exclusively on external audiences. Finding and recruiting new customers is their primary purpose. Sometimes, particularly in large companies, there can be a large disconnect between the way a brand is positioned externally and the way other, non marketing, functions within a company see the brand.

Sharing narrative content and explaining the how, why, what and where it is being used externally is a great way to build a commonality of purpose within an organisation. If product developers know how their work is being sold to customers there should be a much greater alignment of interests.

ADD INTERACTIVE VISUALS

Findings from the 2015 Content Preferences Survey show that a majority (91%) of buyers prefer visual and interactive content rather than traditional, text-based formats. This higher level of buyer engagement offers prospects a more valuable buying experience — while also providing marketers with deeper insights for future marketing initiatives.

Adding interactive elements to popular content formats such as video can boost engagement and lead to greater insights about prospective buyers, experts noted. Short videos, image galleries, infographics, interactive tools, calculators are all great tools to give your narrative content so extra oomph. Even a simple thing like extracting a quote from the piece and turning it into a graphic can improve engagement.

This list is by no means exhaustive but a good start to understanding how getting creative can turn one idea into many opportunities.

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Social media has moved to the front seat of many PR and marketing strategies. Many groups and individuals engage with social media on a daily basis, and when done correctly it can immeasurably boost a brand or message.


One of the biggest challenges presented by social media is knowing the perfect time to engage with users. Some strategies suggest engaging in the morning and afternoon, before and after the audience is focusing on their jobs or day-to-day business. Other strategies prefer relying on social media during the day when people are more likely to be looking at a device.

Some people may ask why it matters – isn’t it more important that the message is out there? But research has found that social media users are more susceptible to messages when they are feeling more positive, and positive and negative emotions have been directly linked to a person’s location and the time of day.

A recent study conducted by the University of Melbourne, the Victorian Government and the University of Tasmania combined social media such as Twitter and big data analytics, and tied them to real time and place which provided insights that suggested optimal social media engagement.

“Each tweet is tagged with the time it’s posted. Tweet sentiment scores can also be averaged across specific periods, such as hour, day or month. Beyond the general positive effects of parks compared to built-up areas, we found some general patterns that show people tend to be influenced by the time they are tweeting.

“Across the day, from lunch to the end of the work day, people tended to express less and less positivity, before bouncing back in the evening. This change seems to mirror general schooling and working life – that is, how people experience and recover from their work.

“Similarly, there is a general pattern of people being more positive on weekends than weekdays. While this pattern is similar for both parks and built-up areas, parks seem more positive than built-up areas regardless of the day of week.”

You may recall earlier in this piece a reference to location also being a factor in social media receptivity. After analysing 2.2 million Tweets in Melbourne, the researchers found people in parks are more positive than those around areas like major transport hubs, and that tweets in parks contain more positive content than in built-up areas.

For built-up areas in general, negativity is often associated with major transport hubs, perhaps unsurprisingly, and residential areas.

It’s important to note that the study was conducted to illustrate the importance that open spaces like parks have on human wellbeing, but it also revealed some illuminating insights into when people were typically more receptive to social media engagement.

“Hundreds of millions of people around the world use Twitter for updating their family, friends and followers about their daily activities, thoughts and feelings. People sometimes post public tweets that are linked to the location they are sending from. The words in each tweet can be analysed for their emotional content (referred to as sentiment).

“Sentiment analysis categorises each word as positive, negative or neutral, to give an overall score for each tweet. We averaged tweets across the parks that they were posted from, to give an overall positivity/negativity score for each park.

“On average, tweets by people in parks express more joy, anticipation and trust, and lower levels of anger and fear, compared to tweets by people in built-up areas. Being near parks also reduced negativity, but did not affect positivity.

“People might be happier in parks for several reasons. Parks can help them to recover from the stress and mental strain of living in cities, and provide a place to exercise, meet other people, or host special events such as music festivals.”

When you have a story to tell, it’s important to know when people are listening.


References to research were sourced from an article on The Conversation by Kwan Hui Lim, Dave Kendal & Kate Lee. Read the full story here.

The Conversation
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Marketing’s transition from art to science continues to gather pace with top-performing companies almost three times as likely as their mainstream peers to have invested in an integrated, cloud-based technology stack.

Econsultancy’s 2018 Digital Trends report, published in association with Adobe, is based on a global survey of 12,795 marketing, creative and technology professionals in the digital industry across EMEA, North America and Asia Pacific. 

One of the most important takeaways from the report is the impact of marketing technology infrastructure, or tech stack.

The reports showed that while just over one-in-ten respondents have “a highly-integrated, cloud-based tech stack” those that do are almost three times more likely than their mainstream peers to outperform competitors (25% vs. 9%).

The bottom line is the nature of a company’s technology infrastructure can make or break its attempts to provide an optimal experience for customers across a growing number of channels and touchpoints.

Despite this, organisations are most likely to have a fragmented approach with inconsistent integration between technologies, an unsatisfactory state of affairs indicated by 43% of company and 48% of agency respondents.

A lack of integration reduces the chances of providing a seamless customer experience. It can also be frustrating for marketers and other employees who want to go about their jobs without unnecessary restrictions in their ability to acquire, retain and delight customers.



With an ever-growing number of marketing technology point solutions available (more than 5,000 at the last count), it is no surprise that many companies are struggling to build the kind of unifed platform that is increasingly a prerequisite for success.

The other major takeaway from the report was the growing importance of customer experience (CX), as well as the content required to facilitate this. Organisations committed to CX were shown to outperform their peers.

Asked about the single most exciting opportunity for the year ahead, optimising customer experience (19%) again comes out on top, ahead of data-driven marketing that focuses on the individual (16%) and creating compelling content for digital experiences (14%).

Organisations with a ‘cross-team approach with the customer at the heart of all initiatives’ are nearly twice as likely to have exceeded their top 2017 business goal by a significant margin (20% vs. 11%).

Just under two-thirds (62%) of companies agree they have ‘a cohesive plan, long-term view and executive support for the future of [their] customer’.

The top strategic priority for organisations in 2018 is content and experience management. Almost half (45%) of companies surveyed rank this as one of their three most important priority areas for the year ahead, with a fifth (20%) stating that this is their primary focus.

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Content marketing and search engine optimisation (SEO) go hand in hand, though they’re often viewed as being separate disciplines.

For the best results in a modern marketing campaign, they’re best used together – with one feeding the other to get amplified results. SEO expert Marcus Miller has outlined some useful steps to bring it all together.

First, a quick reminder of what content marketing and SEO are.

According to the Content Marketing Institute: “Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience — with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

For most businesses, the content they promote usually provides some advice, insight or attempts to solve problems that your customers and target audience usually face.

SEO stands for “search engine optimisation.” It is the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” search results on search engines.

It’s important to rank highly on the big commercial terms, but this is very competitive territory for most SMEs.

How to get your content marketing found on Google


The two main options are to 1. Get your content published on a highly authoritative website where the content will automatically rank well; 2. Increase the authority of your own website and at the same time your published content.

 

Option 1 is great if you can achieve it by coming up with an informative and well-researched article and getting it published on a highly relevant site.

 

Option 2 can be more difficult as your site isn’t likely to rank as highly as an established site that has prominence in its space. So, to counter that you need to have your SEO basics up to speed for your own content. Building domain authority for your overall site is crucial, then promoting your articles individually to secure page authority.

 

Both options are useful. Effective SEO can help achieve you being in front of potential customers without paying per click.

 

Miller believes that a best approach is to identify well-linked content in your sector, and then create an improved version of that content.

 

His simple strategy then to drive more traffic to the content on your own site is:

 

1. Create great content

 

2. Promote that content with:

 

  • outreach
  • digital PR
  • guest blogging.

To ensure you improve your visibility in organic search and rank higher in Google, Miller has listed 5 Easy wins for 2018 in SEO.

 

1. Research and Use Relevant Keywords

 

2. Optimise Page Titles & Meta Descriptions

 

3. Optimise Page Content

 

4. Optimise Your Business Around the Web

 

5. Build Relevant Links.

 

Another tip is to register your site with Moz or Google Search Console where there are various tools and reports to improve your rankings in search results.

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Marketing technology (Martech) has exploded to almost unfathomable size in recent years. Few other areas have been disrupted, and continue to be disrupted, by technology more than the art of securing new customers.

The graphic above was first produced in 2011 with 150 companies operating in the martech space. In 2015, it had grown to 2,000. Last year, it nearly doubled from that to the 3,500 mark. This year, it includes nearly 5,000.


For the average small business operator who also needs to be on top of accounting tech, product tech, HR and all the other techs, finding the right blend of solutions, or tech stack, for a high-performing marketing framework can be daunting.


For our own business, clients and in-house projects we have trialed dozens of new technologies designed to make marketing more effective while reducing the financial and human resources required to deliver genuine results.


If I knew five years ago what I know now and was starting my own small business these are the essential technologies I would invest time and money learning to use. The payoff will be immense.

Website/CMS

Your website is the foundation of all marketing. Using a content management system (CMS) that allows you to quickly and efficiently load products, add and edit content, integrate other technologies and manage security is essential.


Don’t be conned into paying big fees for a complex proprietary or custom CMS. Demand your provider use an open source platform like WordPress. If you are planning an online store, the WooCommerce platform was made for WordPress.


If you elect to outsource building of the site to someone else it is essential you take the time to understand how it works. What plugins you are utilising, what structures have been established and what the SEO strategy is. It will grow to become your most important marketing asset.


Cost: WordPress is Free but factor in cost of buying domains, hosting, themes, plugins, security and backups.

 

Many years ago I had an idea for a website that eventually became www.mbanews.com.au. I visited a range of web developers all with their own custom/proprietary CMS. The development quotes came in at $15,000-$75,000. This was well beyond the $3.50 I had planned to spend.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was someone who told me to “Lock yourself in a room for a weekend and learn WordPress”. So I did.

Four years later the site attracts more than 10,000 unique browsers a month and has become the number one source for potential MBAs in Australia. The external cost to get the site live $0.00. Well inside my budget.

Direct/Email Marketing

Building a database of satisfied, engaged customers who do your marketing for you by word of mouth is easily the most cost effective form of marketing, because it costs virtually nothing.

While there are literally hundreds of solutions available for email marketing, for ease of use, low cost and extensive range of integrations we recommend MailChimp. The core platform makes building lists, creating emails and understanding the results easy. With an ever-growing range of integrations, including the ability to develop Google remarketing ads, it will change the way you reach your customers.

Cost: Free for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,00 emails per month.

Analytics

Understanding how your customers are interacting with your website is essential to the continual task of refining your product and marketing messages. Intalling, monitoring and using the insights provided by Google Analytics.

The range of data available to businesses from Google Analytics is simply extraordinary. The biggest challenge you will find is isolating and utilizing the data that is of most value to you. Again, the easiest way to get your head around the complexity is to take a deep dive; immerse yourself in it for a day, the knowledge you gain will last years.

Cost: FREE for small business


Online Advertising

No other area of martech is populated by more sharks than online advertising. Some of these sharks have built very big businesses on their ability to separate small business people from their money on the promise of an avalanche of customers. Most of their customers are left confused, and poorer, with little to show.

Depending on the goals of your business, Google advertising should be a large chunk of your budget. Whether you are DIY or using an agency, managing the effectiveness of this spend to ensure you are maximising ROI is easy with a platform like WordStream. One of the many benefits of WordStream is the extensive resources available (for free) to help you get the maximum from every dollar.

Advertising on social media platforms, particularly Facebook, is increasingly easy with ex Many people have built.

Cost: How much have you got? External AdWords management can be charged as a flat fee (including set-up and ongoing management fee) or as a percentage of your spend. Bigger agencies will charge 15-20% while smaller agencies (like us) charge 10% with a minimum fee.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Search Engine Optimistaion (SEO) is how you ensure customers looking for your products can you find you easily and before they find your customers. Great content is the foundation of all SEO and your website should be a highly-tuned SEO machine. Once you have your site humming, developing off-site SEO tactics like backlinks, can take your traffic stats to the next level.

We used a range of different SEO technologies before discovering Moz. If SEO is going to play an important part of your marketing, the Moz platform is essential. Identifying high value keywords, making content tweaks and tracking performance are all easier with Moz.

COST: From $US99/month.

Social Media

Most small businesses don’t need to be told the importance of (organic) social media in their marketing. While paid advertising on social media platforms is important, building an organic social following is the sort of investment that will pay dividends for years.

Like your website, content on social media is king. Monitoring what content is working and what is not can be made much easier with the use of martech like SproutSocial and Hootsuite. We use both for our business and clients.

With prices starting from $100/month it is a significant investment, especially when you can count your followers on one hand! But it is important to be persistent in posting content, understanding what works and why and refining your content to improve engagement.

Cost:  Sprout Social from $US100/month. Hootsuite $US25/month, billed annually

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The irony of blogging about how to manufacture authenticity does not escape me. Surely being ‘real’ does not require an instructional video? Unfortunately, in the age of fake everything, it does. In modern corporate environments, particularly the marketing and communications space, we have developed a sophisticated language designed around coded phrases that have been deliberately created to squash authenticity. When a business claims to be leveraging a paradigm shift to move the needle towards a success narrative you know they are full of it and have lost the ability to communicate authentically.

Why would you trust a brand or person that can’t even trust themselves enough to be themselves? Being authentic is not just a moral obligation, but can have serious benefits for your career or brand. There is no better example of the growing value of authenticity then the election of Donald Trump.

Regardless of your political views, his campaign to win the Republican nomination and then defeat ‘Crooked Hillary’, was a masterclass in the value of being authentic. Despite his many other flaws, US voters developed an appreciation of his desire to not be anything else, other than himself. On the other hand, Hillary came to reflect everything that was manufactured; a slick careerist unable to say anything for fear of offending anyone. It became a choice between a flawed human and a perfect machine.

People still trust people more than robots and the rest is history. So how can you be more authentic in your communications, and enjoy the benefits of more engagement, without appearing to be faking it?

Be fearless

The courage to offend is often the first step towards authenticity. However, being courageous is not just about being an over-opinionated blowhard and saying whatever pops into your ahead. As Donald Trump will ultimately learn; manners and tone matter too.

To courage to speak your mind, add respect. A simple acknowledgement of the fact you disagree sends a clear message about your intent to ‘agree to disagree’ and builds trust with your audience. Too much modern corporate and political spin is created to avoid any potential blowback from individuals or groups who may not agree with you. The ability to respectfully disagree while maintaining dignity and composure are essential to authenticity.

Avoid platitudes and cliches

Platitudes are statements, especially those with a moral content, that have been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful. Like clichés, they are lazy form of communication that indicate to your listener that you haven’t bothered to create original thought for them. Avoid clichés like the plague.

Actions speak louder than words Speaking coach and author Nick Morgan believes a lot of coming across as authentic is in the non-verbal cues we give people. These non-verbal cues are the second conversation you are having with your audience and can have a huge impact on your ability to engage with people.
“We’re learning that in human beings the second, nonverbal conversation actually starts first, in the instant after an emotion or an impulse fires deep within the brain but before it has been articulated. Indeed, research shows that people’s natural and unstudied gestures are often indicators of what they will think and say next. You might say that words are after-the-fact explanations of why we just gestured as we did.” Nick Morgan (www.publicwords.com)
Morgan identifies four aims (or intents) that give rise to authenticity. The intent to be open with your audience by relaxing, the intent to connect with your audience by keeping their attention, the intent to be passionate about your subject matter and the intent to ‘listen’ to your audience by adjusting to their needs or mood.

READ MORE: How to become an authentic Speaker

Keep It Simple Stupid

Your staff and customers are facing and endless barrage of information meaning simplicity has never been more powerful or necessary. Effective leaders distill complex thoughts and strategies into simple, memorable terms that colleagues and customers can grasp and act upon. If you’re having trouble distilling something to its essence, it may be that you don’t understand it. So get clear and look out for technical jargon and business speak, which add complexity. Say what you mean in as few words as possible. These are of course only the basics but a good starting point to throwing off the shackles of fakery and beginning to build better relationships with your staff, colleagues, customers and partners by becoming a new, realer, you.
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Developing positive content about an individual or organisation is only a small part of what defines Public Relations. Whether it be from the advice of a PR practitioner or the choices made by an organisation, much of the PR sphere involves responding strategically to any situation in order to maintain a favourable public image.

Trust and relatability are values that an audience holds dear and they contribute heavily to public image. This means that sometimes, a well-spun positive message to cushion a negative situation doesn’t cut it. Instead, maintaining a positive public image sometimes means crafting content that defends in the face of public scrutiny or admits guilt.

Public Relations content needs to reflect the expectation people have that individuals and organisations understand what constitutes appropriate behaviour. For example, when people do something wrong, we expect them to own up to it. When someone is being wrongly persecuted, defence is acceptable as long as innocence can be proven.

Here are some examples of this in action.


Know when to ‘hit back’

In 2016, the Sunshine Coast Daily’s brand took a slight dive after publishing what many would consider a ‘low brow’ piece on their website and social media.

The story was republished after originally appearing in The Sun, entitled ‘Women quits job to breastfeed her boyfriend’. As the headline implied, the story was about a woman who took part in an ‘Adult Breastfeeding Relationship’ with her boyfriend.

After reaching an untold number of Facebook news feeds, readers and Facebook followers curiously clicked on the story and were left feeling like taking a shower after reading. But not before letting the SCD know what they thought about the quality of their content.

 


The SCD’s reputation took a slide as more people began to realise stories like this one were constantly appearing on their Facebook news feeds, and as far as they were concerned, the SCD’s quality of journalism had gone to the dogs.

A trashy story? Perhaps. Was it what many people were clicking on? Absolutely. It was this fact that inspired SCD to step in and stand their ground.

 


Their response piece explained that their range of stories is diverse, and ultimately the SCD couldn’t be held responsible for what people seemingly preferred to view on social media.

 


Of course, many rolled their eyes at such a defence. But the logical points managed to hit home for some:

 


While some readers did not change their negative opinion about SCD content, the news platform felt their point was valid and needed to be addressed. Doing nothing risks the audience continuing to believe that SCD doesn’t grade better than fish wrap. Whether people accepted the statement or not, it was a strategic piece of PR damage control that made their point clear and provided people the appropriate context.


Know when to fold

In April 2017 the media and communications industry was in a frenzy over the now infamous incident involving United Airlines and their response when a passenger was rather brutally removed from their seat.

If you’re having trouble remembering, On April 9, 2017, O’Hare International Airport security forcibly removed passenger David Dao, a 69-year-old doctor, from United Express Flight 3411 when he refused to depart the airplane. Management requested he and three other passengers give up their seats on the plane for flight staff. Camera footage was taken of Dao being manhandled by security as they pried him out of his seat. Other passengers looked on in horror as the man was dragged down the aisle.




Dao reportedly suffered several injuries including a broken nose and it turned out the plane was not actually full, even though he was asked to give up his seat for airport staff on the grounds that the plane was overbooked and the staff needed to fly for work purposes.

However, the real issue to be addressed here his how United Airlines responded to the incident the next day. The airline released a statement which, in part, stated:

“Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked. After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate. We apologize for the overbook situation.”

United chief executive Oscar Munoz then followed this up by apologising for “having to ‘re-accommodate’ these customers.” He also issued a statement to United Airlines staff supporting their actions as per protocol. His statement to his employees also went public.

Naturally, this sparked all kinds of outrage. The public were furious that this “combination of airline jargon and public relations spin” was part of their first response. Especially after such objectively confronting footage was released. PR blogs and opinion pieces rained from the sky, weighing in on how this could have been better handled.

This is a stark contrast to the PR dilemma the Sunshine Coast Daily faced. No matter what protocols United Airlines had in place, trying to immediately justify their actions through bland corporate spin was not the right move, especially when the public was stirred by footage of a bleeding passenger in distress.

It was universally agreed that the best course of action was to face the music; back down and own up to what happened. Take actions to prevent it from happening again. Show (don’t tell) that they could earn everyone’s trust back. The security guards were reportedly dismissed several days later, but by then it was much too late – the public had up their mind.

As we consider these two examples we can draw the ultimate lesson about public image. Humans are complex creatures, and Public Relations content should be created to reflect that fact.
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Facebook has announced changes to its news feed flagged last year which will have the effect of prioritising posts from friends and video content over posts from media outlets and businesses.

For news outlets and pages this will change the likelihood of their posts appearing in your news feed.

Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s head of News Feed wrote in a post that Facebook was built to bring people closer together and build relationships

He wrote: “With this update, we will also prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people. To do this, we will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed. These are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to – whether that’s a post from a friend seeking advice, a friend asking for recommendations for a trip, or a news article or video prompting lots of discussion. We will also prioritize posts from friends and family over public content…”

“Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.”

You can read Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement here in full:



So, what types of Page posts will show higher in News Feed?

According to Mosseri page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos. Many creators who post videos on Facebook prompt discussion among their followers, as do posts from celebrities. In Groups, people often interact around public content. Local businesses connect with their communities by posting relevant updates and creating events. And news can help start conversations on important issues.



If you still want to see all content from a favourite page or business, you will still be able to; you’ll need to change the appropriate preference setting to see posts from your favourite pages.
This change is a sure-fire reminder that Facebook is there to make money and not just to give a business or publisher a free platform to promote itself and drive traffic. Organic reach will continue to decline for them and necessitate a rethink on the sort of content they provide and the level of sponsorship they will need or future posts.

If you’re a brand and can generate engagement, discussion and sharing then you may still be able to generate organic reach. However, all brands will need to rethink their content marketing strategies and decide how important Facebook is to their marketing programs.

Facebook has introduced these sorts of changes before and now it’s up to users and advertisers to react and respond.

Hopefully one meaningful change to news feed will be the penalising of publishers who seem to thrive on clickbait-type articles and headlines.  We’re looking at you, Fox Sports!

Image copyright: grinvalds / 123RF Stock Photo
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Olaf Werder, University of Sydney In a world of mass communication and social media, people seem prepared to share their opinion on almost any subject.

When it comes to remembering a conversation you were involved in, in most cases the deciding factor is the contribution you made to that conversation, according to British journalist Catherine Blyth in her 2008 advice book The Art of Conversation.

But today when people talk, online and offline, any real dialogue seems to have given way to parallel monologues, paired with an inability to actively listen.

Healthy advice

A brief trip into my own discipline of health communication illustrates the dilemma. The core argument of what makes health promotion work is that the promoter must first find the barriers as to why people don’t live healthier. The promoter then converts those into convincing campaigns.

Yet, health promoters still have difficulties explaining why seemingly reasonable people still deliberately disregard or dismiss their messages. In Australia alone, the federal Department of Health says smoking still kills an estimated 15,000 people a year.

So, how do we explain that people wilfully choose to harm their future health by ignoring sound health marketing? Researchers call this phenomenon health resistance. It is basically a lack of motivation to comply with someone else’s ideas of good and bad.

And since every form of communication starts with someone’s own worldview, which has to pass through the filter of a possibly very different worldview of others, these rebellious reactions are not surprising. In politics and social issues (debates of marriage equality, climate change, race and religion, etc), we witness an increasingly dire split and hardening of positions. But the attempt to focus on perfecting one’s own arguments has equally led to an impasse in advancing public health.

Communication skills

The study of communication has its origins in rhetoric and public speaking skills of the ancient Greeks and Romans.

Rhetoric teaches the art of using persuasive tools. However the idea of resolving disagreement through measured agreeable discussion, known as the dialectic method, played an equal role to the ancient Greeks and Romans.

With this in mind, it is interesting to see how our outlooks of communication have changed in modern times. Back in 1922, the American writer and reporter Walter Lippmann still called communication:
[…] a central and constitutive place in the study of social relations.
This opinion was echoed by his contemporary, philosopher John Dewey, who argued that:
[…] communication can by itself create a community.
This early definition was close to the spirit of the dialectic method. It was also in line with the root of the word “communication”, which comes from the Latin communicare (to share or to make common) and communis (belonging to all). Both terms are also related to the word “community”.

The rise of mass media

The rise of electronic communication technologies and mass media after World War II shifted the focus onto a more scientific interest of how best to disseminate information. This was famously symbolised by the communication loop model of Claude Elwood Shannon and Warren Weaver.

A growing interest in the information processing capacity of communication ultimately led to a detachment from the art of debate.

Persuasion and media effects concepts moved centre stage. Those areas were especially useful for purposeful or strategic communication that were needed in political campaigning, marketing and public relations. Those fields, not coincidentally, grew in importance at the same time.

US communication scholar William Eadie noted that by the 1980s communication in the United States had been separated from the study of speech and rhetoric. It was more associated primarily with learning journalism and media production, while the latter became subcategories of English.

The dawn of the information age intensified the focus on creating messages further by providing people with unfiltered, instant access to media and removing communicators from real audiences.

Whereas the idea of the internet as a democratic source of information and active engagement was noble, the web algorithms that filtered what someone was exposed to along their interests created an echo chamber of one’s own held opinions. It effectively reduced communicative competency to engage in human dialogue.

If we look at the current public and political dialogue in many countries, it seems bleak. The fallout from the US presidential campaign and the UK’s Brexit vote are just two examples.

But we know from psychology that humans have a natural drive toward belonging and contribution (being heard) and finding expressions of their creativity (being inspired). This explains social movements, the fan culture in sports and participatory management.

Getting the message through

One way to arrive at practising a slower and more compassionate communication style is to borrow ideas from the Slow Movement. We can step away from instant responses and replace the idea of conversations as a competition, with a win-win mentality.

The field of health communication attempts this in the form of community-involved and -led health campaigns, creating ownership, mutual voice and togetherness in the process.

On an individual level, we need to balance impersonal with personal communication, seek out and engage with opposing opinions on purpose, and try understanding the background for someone’s position by actively listening.

This goes beyond the freedom of speech idea. It forms an attempt to find common ground when talking to each other, which is not coincidentally also a definition of the term “community”. The Conversation

Besides the obvious effects in building connections, it has direct health implications, working against isolation, antagonism and stress.

Olaf Werder, Lecturer in Health Communication, University of Sydney

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
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