2021: Developing Winning PR Strategies for Architecture and Design Firms

In the current environment, architectural and design firms continue to invest in communications programs, but many are seeking to maximize and streamline that investment for speed and effectiveness.  The big questions: How can more be done with less? How can investment pay off faster?

A strong public relations program that combines media, social media and digital marketing is a powerful answer to both those questions. For you and your company, a strong PR program can be the cornerstone for how you reach new audiences and grow your practice. Here are a few “pro tips” for how you can achieve more – with less – in 2021.

Find At Least Three Uses for Your Content

If you’re not finding multiple uses for the content you generate, you should be. As a rule of thumb, The Hoyt Organization recommends finding three platforms where your content can be shared. Technology makes this fast and easy. For example, if you develop design case studies, be sure to publish them on your company’s website, share the link on your social media pages, highlight the case study in an e-blast, and share the information with trade media and reporters who cover your industry and your clients.  

Analyze Your Use of Social Media

There are about 2.5 billion global users of Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and new platforms are being introduced all the time. Architecture and design firms can be selective in which platforms they use. This will maximize effectiveness without wasting resources on social platforms that don’t support your goals. When it comes to design, Instagram and Facebook continue to be the strongest visual platforms. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is by far the strongest business-to-business platform and allows design firms to highlight thought leadership and industry expertise. Every channel allows you to showcase your projects, people and awards with high-res images and videos.

As with any platform, it can take a lot of time to create the content. Here are three tips to maximize your channels. For PR professionals who work with architects, a number of services are used to streamline and optimize your social presence:

  • Hootsuite is a great tool for planning ahead. You develop and schedule posts for an entire month and simultaneously manage multiple accounts.
  • Linktree optimizes your Instagram bio. With this service, you can place a URL in your bio section so users can access relevant links.
  • Sponsored and Boosted Posts and Ads on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn allow you to market your posts about specific projects, properties or thought leaders to target audiences not currently in your social media network. By geotargeting each campaign and investing a modest budget, posts can reach specific industries, professionals and geographies.

Increase your SEO with Blogs

Blogs are the best way to improve your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) and help you achieve a higher ranking in Google search results. Research shows that organic search results are 8.5 times more likely to be clicked on than paid search results. Your blog can showcase new projects and top tier media placements. Also consider writing blogs about trends in the industry. The more often you post new content, the stronger your Google ranking will be.

Newsletter distributions

Using any number of email blast platforms like Constant Contact or MailChimp also improve the visibility of your company and keep your current clients engaged with your brand.  

Always use quality, high-resolution images

The architecture industry is very visual and great photography and renderings are a must for any project. These assets become essential to all marketing and public relations outreach. For major projects, high-quality video is needed for broadcast coverage. Headshots, professional photography and renderings are useful for print and digital media coverage. Make sure that you have quality renderings to share.

Submit projects for architecture and design awards

Different award competitions have a variety of categories ranging from contemporary interior design and renovation to best use of color and classic architecture.  Consider submitting to both local and national awards for the best chance at winning. Once you have won, the award should be showcased on your website, newsletter and social media pages.

Participate as a speaker

In many of today’s virtual speaking opportunities or hosted webinars there are opportunities for speaking. These are often sponsored by trade associations and media outlets that cover architecture, real estate and other design-related topics to showcase trends in the industry. Some digital conferences have virtual networking sessions before the event. You can also host your own webinar using services such as GoToWebinar. This platform allows you to choose your webinar topic, select relevant images for the landing page, and do a “practice run” before the live event.

Leverage national, local and trade media

Media relations is crucial to running a design and architecture firm given it provides a solid framework for consistent messaging for your firm overall, and positions your management as leaders in the industry. As a method to providing third-party credibility, it can the firm’s expansion in many ways.

Consider hiring a PR firm that specializes in your industry to get the best media coverage

The Hoyt Organization has more than 25 years of experience supporting architect and design firms with public relations, marketing and digital strategies. To learn more about our services, please visit https://www.hoytorg.com/.

Feel free to use these helpful public relations and marketing tips for your architecture and design firm.

The Hoyt Organization

5 Healthcare Public Relations Best Practices

Any successful healthcare public relations campaign aims to get a company’s name in front of its relevant public. This can prove challenging if the content isn’t necessarily newsworthy on its own. 

Here are five healthcare public relations best practices that will help build the foundation to achieve strategic communications results in the health tech industry. 

1. Choose the best spokesperson and don’t neglect media training

Your efforts will be most effective if they manage to cut through the clutter and connect a passionate representative with an audience who can learn from what they have to say. Get to know the key figures in the company you represent and use your instincts to identify an individual who sparks the perfect balance between knowledge and enthusiasm. 

We all know by now that reporters are not interested in monotonous statements and healthcare subject matter has the potential to come across as highly technical. With a great spokesperson, you can regularly provide good news stories that communicate a company’s key messages while providing information to an engaged audience. Invest time into preparing this spokesperson to be able to interact with the media in a way that is authentic and articulate. 

2. Pitch a story, not a product

This is the ultimate arena in which a PR practitioner’s storytelling abilities can shine. Make full use of the information available to you by leveraging patient stories and current trending topics to add emotional depth to what a client has to offer. Even if the release is intended to announce a new technology or service, public relations professionals should bring the content back to how the innovation will serve people. Because at the end of the day, that is the purpose and priority of healthcare work. 

Incorporate visuals wherever possible by providing patient interviews or high-quality assets with a release. This makes a journalist’s job easier by starting the process of illustrating and giving shape to a story. A compelling patient story will often speak louder than the most impressive statistics and present healthcare wins in a way that grabs the attention of the public. 

3. Know your goals and act accordingly

Most areas of healthcare PR incorporate the same overarching methods, including social media and media relations, but you don’t want to get caught up in a strategy that isn’t targeted toward the company’s expected outcome. For example, if a product is marketed B2B, then dedicating most of your efforts toward a public-facing social media account isn’t likely to show the desired increases in revenue because it’s not well-matched. Be sure to outline where clients hope to see themselves six to 12 months out from the start of a program to know that you are focusing in the right direction from the jump and position accordingly.

4. Stay on top of relevant awards

In the healthcare world, it carries a great deal of weight to be recognized by influential publications and associations. If a client’s product or actions qualify for an award from a notable outlet then it is well worth it to throw their name into the ring to earn acknowledgment for innovative work. This usually involves an entry fee, but the authority and trust that comes with an award-winning product or service have the potential to carry a healthcare company’s name further than organic coverage alone. This also expands the list of newsworthy angles for releases and gives a greater likelihood of recognition to your client’s name when a pitch comes across a reporter’s desk. 

Proactive PR professionals would be wise to keep an up-to-date and extensive list of relevant industry awards, including the submission windows and event information available to them in order to round out an integrated communications strategy. Set reminders to check in on this information to avoid missing deadlines and give clients plenty of time to prepare assets to include in each entry. 

5. Amplify and leverage materials across available channels

From traditional news to social media to company communications, most of us gather our daily information from an endless number of sources. It is essential for healthcare PR professionals to repurpose materials across each of the necessary channels to have the best opportunities for exposure. Since healthcare involves a wide range of information formats, from research and data to visual patient stories, there is plenty of content to share in releases, social media, newsletters and more. The overlap is encouraged and will provide an endless number of ways to rework a story and keep audiences engaged.

When distributing press releases, avoid popular times for distribution (Mondays – Thursdays from 6 a.m.-8 a.m. EST) and increase visibility by reaching reporters when they’re looking for news. It is incredibly valuable to build relationships with your ideal media targets on social media channels as well. Find the people who are talking about the topics that matter most to your specific healthcare industry client and engage with or follow them on Twitter to easily stay up to date with what they’re thinking about and what they might want to cover next. Many reporters will even list their email in their Twitter bio to indicate that they’re open to tips.

We hope these public relations best practices will help guide your communications strategies as you navigate the world of healthcare and biotech. 

Check out our previous work in the healthcare industry and contact us today to learn more about how we can help elevate your healthcare public relations strategy.

Nick Luvera

The Five Crises to Watch for in 2021

By Michelle Lyng – Novitas Communications

There are five crises to watch for in 2021. It goes without saying that 2020 was a year we’d all rather forget. While the vaccine proliferation in many parts of the world offers a light at the end of the COVID tunnel, public relations professionals should keep five potential crises to watch in the back of their mind as we work to normalize again.

Vaccine rollout challenges

Government and healthcare clients are going to be under a microscope during the vaccine rollout process. Last year, the federal government, through Operation Warp Speed, worked with industry to obtain vaccine approvals in record time. Now all eyes are going to be on the states and healthcare providers to see that vaccines get into the right arms at the right time.

Not only will the public watch the operational rollout of the vaccines, but communication around the vaccine will be highly scrutinized. There will be an opportunity for brands to either be a hero or a villain in this process. The vaccine rollout is an opportunity to over-communicate around the distribution and the science around the vaccine. 

Greater regulation of all industries

While many in the public relations profession breathed a sigh of relief when President Donald Trump lost his re-election bid, the truth is that he did remove a lot of regulatory burden for companies. With a Democratic trifecta (control of the presidency, the U.S. House, and the U.S. Senate) in the United States and a global lurch to the left, companies can expect greater regulatory burden at a time when they can least afford it as they work to recover from COVID-related economic impacts. To put this in perspective, restaurants likely will not return to pre-COVID revenue for three or four years. 

Companies and industries should prepare to defend their business models among local, state and federal policymakers. For many organizations, effective advocacy can mean the difference between whether they survive or not.

Reopening missteps

A crises to watch is reopening challenges for organizations. There are two sides to this: with the customers they serve, and the employees within their organizations.  In both circumstances, the margin for error is narrow, and the opportunity for backlash is huge

For the most part, employers are going above and beyond to ensure a safe work environment, between work from home policies, makeshift physical barriers in every imaginable area of the office environment, Zoom meetings at desks instead of gatherings around conference room tables, and more. Despite these efforts, there is still the chance of an employee getting sick – or worse yet – an entire team of employees catching COVID. 

The decision to bring employees back to work is one of the most difficult leadership decisions that organizations will make, and leaders want nothing more than to have everything go according to plan.  Despite everyone’s best efforts, there are going to be some bad outcomes during the re-opening process. How organizations handle these crises will signal a great deal about their values and competency. 

Public-facing businesses have the additional challenge of creating a safe customer experience. Like businesses that operate in office environments, these companies are taking heroic measures to create a safe and inviting atmosphere. Nevertheless, companies will make mistakes and a small segment of the population dissatisfied with their customer experience could take advantage of this situation to tarnish the reputation of even the most responsible organizations.  

How companies respond to criticism in the public square about their reopening efforts will either reassure or alienate customers, employees, and other stakeholders. 

Continued misinformation around the science

Do we wear one mask, three masks, or no masks? Does the vaccine cause more harm than good? (It doesn’t – please get vaccinated.) The COVID is a crisis to watch and was born in an era of misinformation, and organizations will continue to face challenges from misinformation throughout the recovery process. Between foreign governments refusing transparency that could have benefitted the global community, to bad actors spreading intentional bad info online, there is a long list of troublemakers willing to create chaos.

Organizations must walk the tightrope of discerning what information sources are credible, and then implementing guidance from those sources. More and more, employees are looking to their workplace leadership to help them discern accurate information. Leaders must step forward and lead. Bad information can cost customers, employees, and, in some cases, it can cost lives.

COVID variants and their impact on normalization

Over the past few months, scientists have discovered several new strains of COVID with some being more contagious and, thus, potentially more deadly than the original. The new strains is the last crises to watch. Was the vaccine that people received effective against this variant? Is a new strain more deadly than others? Is a new variant more contagious than others? 

It can often take weeks or months to determine answers to these questions. In the meantime, other variants emerge while different ones subside. Just as organizations were looking for a return to some semblance of normal, it might be necessary to shift business models and workplace rules again. The necessity of remaining nimble and communicating with stakeholders is critical during times of great upheaval. Unfortunately, some organizations will not be able to sustain themselves through another course of shutdowns.

Despite the unknowns going into 2021 and even during the chaos of 2020, opportunities exist for organizations to shine and, even, thrive.

As brands look to navigate continued choppy waters, there are five things brands can do to effectively handle the upcoming year

  • Be the helper. There’s a Mr. Rogers quote that says something along the lines of during scary times, look for the helpers. There will always be people helping. Adopt that position for your stakeholders and your communities moving forward. If you can’t afford donations, offer manpower, connections, information, whatever resources you have. Not only is it the right thing to do, but the goodwill will pay off in spades.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. We cannot emphasize this enough. When brands don’t effectively communicate, it leaves an information vacuum that can be filled by people who don’t have the correct information or intentionally mislead. Leave no room for chaos due to silence.
  • Elevate the good. Everyone is tired of bad news and tumult. Find the beautiful and the good. Tell those stories, inspire your stakeholders, and uplift your communities. 
  • Lead. This may seem obvious, but we’re not talking about de facto leading due to position or rank within a company. Use your platform to support stakeholders in the way they need to be supported. For employees, that may mean taking inventory of mental health and providing resources, for example. Lead through action.
  • Seek to unify. We’re not talking about the Bruce Springsteen-style of unification where he bashes half of the population for months before getting in a Jeep on a country road to ask for unity. It’s time for brands to rise above petty politics and cheap political thrills and unite people around our shared humanity and decency. 

We hope that these five crises to watch can help you better prepare for what is to come.

This article was originally published on the Public Relations Global Network, here.

The Hoyt Organization

Why Schools Need Public Relations

Academic institutions and schools have gone through one of the most tremendous shifts in history in 2020. Teaching has moved into another dimension with virtual teaching hampering traditional learning techniques. Is it effective? What are schools doing to make sure their ‘client’ – the students, teachers, parents – are still learning and achieving grade and age level competency?

Today, more than ever, a strong public relations strategy is the best tactic an educational institution can use in today’s world. This is true for almost every desired outcome; expanding institutional reputation, expanding student enrollment, or simply expanding your reputation in the local community, a well-defined public relations program is a powerful tool in your communications arsenal.

The NSPRA (National School Public Relations Association) professional definition is:

“Educational public relations is a planned and systematic management function to help improve the programs and services of an educational organization. It relies on a comprehensive two-way communications process involving both internal and external publics, with a goal of stimulating a better understanding of the role, objectives, accomplishments and needs of the organization. Educational public relations programs assist in interpreting public attitudes, identify and help shape policies and procedures in the public interest, and carry on involvement and information activities which earn public understanding and support.”

At THO, in addition to providing strategic counsel, part of our communications goals include reputation building and thought leadership, all of which presents the institution’s stakeholders as a trusted source of information in their communities, to their students, parents and more.   

Here’s eight ways to improve your school’s public relations outreach today:

1. Crisis Communications

Whether it is a pandemic, a natural disaster, the death of a student or an act of violence, crises happen. Schools need to plan ahead for these potential crises in order to be prepared with solutions before they happen. Having a solid crisis communication plan in place before a crisis happens will keep a school looking and acting poised even in difficult times.   

2. Showcasing School Leadership 

Showcasing your leadership’s talents and accomplishments will build the status of your school. A PR plan should include crafting thought leadership articles for local and trade publications.  These pieces provide insight into the education system and highlight a faculty member, as well as provide insightful commentary.

3. Competitive Advantage

Remember to monitor your industry as well as your competitor’s media coverage. This includes social media pages as well as creating  Google alerts for key areas of interest. Then you’ll be able to continually monitor topics of key importance to determine how to position your school effectively amongst its competitors. The result? You’ll have the competitive edge in your market.

4. Remember the impact of your Social Media Presence

Studies show that 81 percent of all teens ages 12 – 17 use some form of social media and 74 percent of American adults use networking sites. Whether it is Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter, the platforms can help you stay connected with your students and parents. Develop a social media content calendar to provide a complete schedule of posts to keep you and your team on track.  

5. Media Relations Provides Third Party Credibility

Working with the media will gain additional exposure in your immediate community and beyond. There are a variety of methods to implement this type of program. Announce test score results and new administrative changes with a press release;  event and fundraisers may offer another great story; faculty members and research papers may provide the backbone for an intense thought leaders program.

For example, here at The Hoyt Organization (THO), we support the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, a major national research institution, with its annual Casden Multifamily Forecast Conference, which unveils data and predictions based on institutional research specifically for the multi-family market. This information is distributed to the media, many of whom cover trends and predictions in the multifamily real estate market. The result?  We’ve secured both national and local media coverage for the center including Bisnow, Los Angeles Times, Commercial Observer, Spectrum News and the Los Angeles Business Journal, and many other media outlets, all of which position the Center as a well-respected hub in the industry.

6. Identify a Team of Spokespersons

These representatives can offer a wide range of opinions and commentary to the media on behalf of your institution. Remember to provide media training so they will be ready, willing, and prepared to meet with the media.

7. Website Development

Considered the digital front door to your institution, make sure your website meets the needs of the wide variety of constituents you serve. Is it easy to navigate? Does it include a newsroom to support your branding? What about your various social channels – do they all support the same message? Remember, posting new content on your website will improve your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Updating content is one of the best ways to rank higher in a Google organic search. Adding quality backlinks will also help search rankings. Consider creating a blog or video series if you don’t already have one. It will improve your website’s SEO  and maximize your effort.

8. Use a Wide Variety of Communications Vehicles

 In order for a school to thrive, it must connect with its stakeholders, the surrounding community as well as the national education world. This means choosing a wide variety of tactics, depending on the audience you’re targeting. It involves creating a program that touches digital marketing, e-newsletters, brochures, admission materials, earned and paid media and much more. Using an outside consultant, such as a public relations firm that understands the nuances of the educational world, may be a wise investment in launching the right type of program for your institution.

Public relations help to build a trusted reputation while strengthening the relationship within its community. With the increased competition amongst education institutions, including charter, public and private schools, investing in a strong communications program will provide the competitive edge that your institution may be looking for.

If you’re ready to move to the front of class and learn important strategies for your schools public relations – We’re here to help.

Nick Luvera

PR Tips for Tech Companies Entering The Automotive Market

By Mariusz Pleban – OneMulti 

For starters, here’s one piece of useful information: the automotive PR industry is now very similar to the technology PR industry. This is because cars have become devices and drivers have become more of a user. Sounds familiar, right?

automotive PR industry
Source: Adobe Photo Stock

I used to work for a tire company and now I work for a device producing company – yet it’s the same brand: Continental. A tire still very much comes in the same shape as it has before, but it is increasingly saturated with sensors. Tires are becoming part of the ecosystem commonly called a car or a truck.

I used to work for cars and trucks. Today, the CEO of the automotive company I work for says simply: “We are a technology company.” (It is Volkswagen by the way). And on top of that, the cars they now produce will never have to go to a gas station.

So, if you know how to communicate in the technology industry, you’ll have it easier when you start with communicating with cars or similar devices. You have an advantage. Automotives are heading more towards tech than the other way around. After all, you have a great understanding of what launching a new technology is all about. You know that it’s not just about hardware, but also about software, which is developing faster than ever before, mainly thanks to battery electric vehicles, or BEVs.

The global shift to electric cars should make you feel good about your new PR adventure. After all, electricity is a very important common denominator. Drivers, pardon me, users are noticing this, as well. They treat the electric car as just another important device. It reminds them of a smartphone because it also charges at night.

The most important piece of advice: do your own thing. Just as you did in the technology industry. There are a lot of similarities in the automotive industry now. The annual communications plan is a grid of little solar systems around countless stars entering the market. It used to be that an auto manufacturer would launch a few models during a given year. Now, the schedule of market launches is more like that known in the smartphone market. Dozens of communication opportunities, dozens of versions and types. Lite and Pro versions. There are even cameras, screens with gigantic display sizes and resolutions, hidden speakers and – system updates!

PR is traditionally understood as media relations. Technology and the automotive sector have one thing in common: without product news, your content will not be read, watched or clicked. This means that in the automotive industry, exactly as in tech, organic PR is still at work to some extent. Journalists want this content. Content that simply gets clicks. Of course, automotive editors have to make a living, so it’s not surprising that, exactly like technology editors, they will offer paid projects. OK, not everything will be for free, but you have more chances for a journalist to answer your call, write to you on Messenger, publish your news than in other sectors.

You can easily communicate with your audience through the technology media you know. Cars used to be in their own media, computers on their own. Now every technology media outlet features technologically advanced cars. So again, it’s easier – you’ll be reaching journalists you know or their close colleagues.

If you want to show a new solution in the auto industry, show it at a consumer electronics trade show, for example. Just see how many new and well-known automotive brands showed up at the virtual CES 2021. Previously, it used to be rather shocking. Not a fitting feature. Now it is one of the technologies expected to be seen by event attendees.

So do your own thing. Modern cars are cutting edge technology after all.

Nick Luvera

Six Reasons Why Sustainability Matters for all Companies – and Two Common Mistakes They Should Avoid

By Michael Diegelmann and Justus Fischer – cometis AG 

Sustainability Matters: People are aware of global challenges like climate change, pollution and social inequality, and they discuss them and ask for solutions. It is clear that companies have a major impact on social and ecological issues, so the pressure on them to operate sustainably is increasing accordingly. Not only because of overall societal sentiment, but also because many investors nowadays do not want to invest in a company that has a poor ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) performance (Note: ESG is investor speak for sustainability). This means those companies that truly care about ESG issues are seen as responsible – and consequently have a competitive advantage.

Here are six important reasons why ESG should be a fundamental part of every business strategy.

1. Comply and explain or get sued

Governments around the world have ESG topics at the top of their agendas, resulting in ever stricter regulations. Under the Biden administration the U.S. will rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and in New Zealand financial companies must report on climate risks already. In 2022, the EU Sustainable Taxonomy will come into effect, meaning that every company in the EU will be asked to disclose the percentage of sustainable sales according to the EU’s sustainability definition. Products can only be classified as sustainable if they make a positive contribution to one of six EU sustainability goals like climate change mitigation or supporting a circular economy,  and do not significantly harm one of the others.

2. Poor ESG performance will drain investments

Every investor is going to ask how sustainable your business is. Depending on your answer, investors will love to invest in your company – or not. The better your ESG performance is, the bigger your chance to attract and retain investments will be.  The total value of assets under management allocated to ESG-criteria has increased from 22.9 trillion U.S. dollars in 2016 to more than 40 trillion U.S. dollars in 2020. Seven of the largest ESG mutual funds in the U.S. have outperformed their market benchmarks in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index over the past five years. Even the corona crisis highlighted the power of ESG: sustainable investments were able to convince with above-average performance. This shows that more and more asset owners expect the implementation of ESG to be of great importance for the long-term value development of their assets.

3. You will get rated – if you want it or not

Investors want to compare the ESG performance of companies to make reasonable judgements on whether to invest in a company or not. Rating agencies promise comparability, and so receive fees from investors for giving them ESG data, often along with a particular rating, on thousands of companies. Do you know whether your company gets rated already? If not, you can be sure that your company will get rated, too – whether you want it or not. So better start giving the ESG algorithms what they crave for: well-structured, easy-to-access data. Which leads us to the next point…

4. Algorithms everywhere: watch your mouth!

Algorithms do not only search for relevant data and ESG information in your reports. They are more than just stupid crawlers and are even able to figure out whether your written and spoken phrases should be interpreted in a positive or negative manner. Many recommendations by analysts are based on such algorithmic interpretations. So be careful of what you say and even how you say things. Saying, you ‘believe in ESG’ is understood less positively than saying ‘ESG is a big win’. Actually, this sounds plausible, doesn’t it?

5. ESG is not limited to listed companies

ESG concerns literally every company, not just listed ones: Suppliers must increasingly provide information that ensures human rights are met and disclose the carbon emissions of a particular product they sell. Furthermore, many companies today have codes of conduct for suppliers – if you do not follow them, you will lose your orders. Already, there are companies that order only from sustainable suppliers – like McDonald’s for its coffee products. So, ignoring ESG can soon mean that you will lose business.

6. Your future employees care about sustainability

Awareness for ESG issues and their importance are growing. It’s not just the NGOs that are fighting for climate protection and social equality. Many people care about these topics, too – for example when making job choices. Employees complaining about pollution or the non-transparent supply chain in their company might start working for other, more ESG-responsible employers. Take this survey, for example, in which 66% of the interviewed employees say sustainability is extremely relevant for them.  

Also, your workers of the future, specifically Generation Z, are insisting on sustainability more than any generation before. This is particularly evident in the Fridays for Future demonstrations. Most of those young people will look for information about your sustainability performance before they apply for a job at your company.

Sustainability Matters

But even if companies are aware of all those things, there are two common mistakes many companies still make when taking up their ESG journey:

1. Talking but no walking

Motherhood statements, feelgood stories and positive spin will only work in the short term. But the damage to your credibility will stick for much longer. If you don’t walk the talk, the public will see through your greenwashing very quickly. You need clear goals, commitments, and actions to win people over in the long term. This also means being honest about when you fall short of your own goals. Your company can’t just sing ballads of its great achievements. It needs to also own up to its failures.

2. Being lost in translation

You can be making leaps and bounds of progress, but if your stakeholders don’t hear about your work, you’ll miss out on many of the benefits. This means reporting your sustainability work and progress effectively. And, more importantly, using the language that your audience is attuned to. Framing your work using internationally recognized frameworks such as the Global Reporting Initiative, Sustainable Development Goals or Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, will help you tell your story in a meaningful way.

Overwhelmed by all those ESG challenges? Don’t worry: as the big ESG trend has only just begun, it’s not too late to get into the game and avoid being left behind. But what should you specifically do? Well, there’s always the option to get professional support to get the sustainability topic kick-started at your company. The PRGN has multiple experts that are happy to help you develop a sustainability strategy and tackle above challenges. Let’s get to work since sustainability matters!

This article was originally published on the Public Relations Global Network, here.

Nick Luvera

2020 – The Year of Crisis

By Philip Hauserman – The Castle Group

What a year. 

2020 might as well have been “the year of crisis.” Or maybe it was just one big 365-day crisis. It certainly felt like it, as The Castle Group’s crisis communications practice managed more than 100 crises for 57 clients in 19 states and two countries. Crisis communications is needed now more than ever.

As we reflect on 2020, we all spent the better part of nine months and counting making sense of – and living through – a global pandemic, a long overdue national reckoning around racial equity and social justice, and a contentious U.S. presidential election and persistent (daily, if not hourly) attacks on American democracy by a sitting U.S. president. (The latter of which, as of this writing, has led to a horrific assault by a mob of mostly white extremists on the U.S. Capitol, leaving five dead, and served as a painful reminder of how people are treated – or rather mistreated – because of the color of their skin). 

Let’s take look back at the three major areas of crisis that defined the year – along with examples of how these issues impacted, and continue to impact, reputation.

Covid-19

Covid-19 quickly upended our world as we know it. From Asia to Europe to the United States to well, everywhere, the virus became a public health crisis unlike anything in the last 100 years. Shutdown, lockdown, quarantine, and isolation became part of our daily lives. While some organizations acted quickly, implementing strict safety measures and mitigation efforts, others did not, failing to take the situation or the protocols seriously – or just flat out refusing to take the necessary steps to protect anything other than their bottom line.

  • Cambridge, Mass.-based Biogen will forever be synonymous with the phrase “super-spreader,” thanks to an annual meeting in February which researchers believe ultimately led to as many as 300,000 Covid-19 cases worldwide
  • Tyson Foods plant was observed by the local Sheriff as having workers elbow to elbow, largely unmasked and either unaware of or not following proper Covid-19 protocols. Following a short closure, an executive order by President Trump reopened pork facilities, including this one, which recorded more than 1,000 Covid-19 infections among its employees a month later. The lack of initial safety protocols, and the company’s failure to act quickly to protect their workers, will not only hurt the local community, but also tarnish the Tyson brand for years to come. And to add insult to injury, seven plant managers in the same plant were recently terminated for allegedly betting on how many workers would be infected
  • Amazon – which all of us have come to rely on from home to serve our every need during the pandemic – wasn’t without its own failings. A leaked memo revealed that Amazon planned to discredit a warehouse worker who was fired after protesting coronavirus working conditions. Soon after, Vice published the leaked memo, which laid out the Amazon’s PR team plans to discredit the worker. Not exactly what you want Prime to do for you.  
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, long the authoritative agency on public health in the United States, found itself in unfamiliar territory as a result of what some have perceived as a fragmented and sometimes inconsistent response to the virus, particularly given reports of political interference in science and in the interpretation of that science for the general public. The image of the very reputable and buttoned-up CDC has certainly taken a hit, and it will take time for the public to rebuild its full trust in the agency and the information it disseminates. And this is coming from a native Atlantan who has always been proud that the CDC is less than two miles from his doorstep.  
  • Higher education experienced its own set of crises due to Covid-19 – with numerous colleges and universities initially postponing … then cancelling … and then welcoming students back for virtual-only instruction or in a limited capacity for face-to-face. This cycle played out during the Spring semester and then again in the Fall, creating nightmarish financial, logistical, medical, and crisis communications challenges every step of the way (with severely understaffed and overtired communications teams). Tuition lawsuits were filed (and continue to be filed), claiming that tuition fees aren’t representative of the quality of education or experience students paid for, adding to the mounting financial pressures colleges and universities are facing during the pandemic. On campus, student behaviors and testing strategies have been erratic, students have been blamed for outbreaks, and faculty and staff are understandably scared and upset, with many feeling as though their health and safety have been completely ignored.
  • And throughout the pandemic, major college football persisted, showcasing what many have said all along – that the NCAA and big-time college athletics exploit student-athletes for monetary gain (or to prevent monetary ruin). In this case, one could argue, it was college athletics potentially at the expense of lives – student-athletes, coaches and trainers, officials, stadium workers, and all those who they come in contact with, including members of the community. Was it really worth it? Crisis communications would be helpful in this situation.

Racial Equity and Social Justice

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Rayshard Brooks, and the sustained violence against Black Americans sparked nationwide protests and brought demands for racial equity to the forefront of the national conversation. Organizations everywhere were forced to finally – and very publicly – look inward, ask questions, and confront cultures and systems that propagated discrimination and historical oppression of Black people and other people of color – and they had to do so in significant and meaningful ways.

  • Major corporations – from Target to Nike to Disney – quickly jumped to condemn racism, hate speech and violence, pledging millions to social justice initiatives and committing to changing their own internal policies and procedures. Yet some organizations were met with public criticism and backlash to statements and pledges of support, most notably the National Football League for its years-long mismanagement of Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem to bring attention to racial injustice. The NFL’s stance has evolved, but it has taken far too long for the league to publicly condemn racism and apologize for its past handling of the matter.  When Commissioner Roger Goodell finally did – on June 5, 2020 – the apology was perceived by some as insincere and lacking in action, particularly given how poorly the league, and NFL owners, treated Mr. Kaepernick, who has not played a game since 2014 and essentially became a pariah. Words are a start, but action is what is required. Only time will tell if commitments to change and company actions – DEI training, diversification of the workforce and leadership, and philanthropy, to name a few – endure beyond a social media post or CEO letter. Companies must continue to engage – authentically, consistently, compassionately, and directly – with the issue, employees and leadership, and customers. 
  • Similarly, independent and private schools – and to some extent colleges and universities – faced a reckoning of their own, as students and alumni across the country, emboldened by the power of social media, recounted experiences of racism and discrimination on Instagram pages using the hashtag “Black at” with the school name. School presidents and administrators struggled to respond, as the student and alumni experiences generally spanned decades and underscored a pervasive culture that treated Black students and students of color differently than their white counterparts. Community letters and social media posts condemning racism and extoling school values only made matters worse, with many schools having to apologize for initial apologies that lacked concrete actions and accountability measures: what changes will be made to create and maintain an anti-racist culture, how those changes will be made, and how and who will be held accountable for making sure those changes are implemented in a timely manner. 
  • While most of the world was trying to make sense of and come to terms with historical racism, one of the most influential industries in the world – social media – did not take meaningful action. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube condemned racism and violence – but they failed to curtail or thwart how their platforms are used to disseminate misinformation and hate speech. In the absence of substantive action from Facebook on this point, advertisers – including Microsoft, Starbucks, Target and Unilever, among others – pulled advertisements from the platform and many other brands decided to boycott or sharply reduce spending. While the action didn’t necessarily hurt Facebook’s revenues, it did cause a reputational nightmare that the company is still trying to wake up from. The company needed some crisis communications help.
crisis communications

Presidential Election and Politics

U.S. President Donald Trump is one of the most polarizing, narcissistic political figures in history, and his imprint and influence will unfortunately be felt for generations to come. Support and/or affiliation with President Trump and his administration’s relentless promotion of falsehoods and misinformation – particularly during this past election cycle – came at a cost for many leaders and their companies.

  • In July, Goya Foods CEO Robert Unanue said that Americans are “[…] truly blessed to have a leader like President Trump, who is a builder” and someone under whom the U.S. can “continue to prosper and grow” following the president’s executive order to improve Hispanic Americans’ access to educational and economic opportunities. Mr. Unanue’s remarks, which were intended to celebrate the order, instead led to an almost immediate backlash from the Latin American community and Goya consumers due to President Trump’s rhetoric and immigration policies. The largest Hispanic-owned food company found itself at the center of a social media firestorm, and the hashtags #BoycottGoya and #Goyaway were trending within hours. Politicians, public figures, and celebrities joined in the effort as well, creating a chorus of negativity around a brand previously beloved by so many. 
  • Just a few months later, home improvements retailer Home Depot found itself in a similar position following Founder Bernie Marcus’ OpEd on Fox News in support of the reelection of President Trump. Although Mr. Marcus retired in 2002 and the company says it doesn’t endorse presidential candidates, the damage was done, with #boycotthomedepot hashtags trending and Lowe’s invariably picking up more business, even for a short time. 
  • Sleeping apparel retailer MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s vocal and in-person support for President Trump has always raised eyebrows, but his claims of election fraud and monetary backing of the defense of Kenosha, Wisconsin, shooter Kyle Rittenhouse substantially elevated his profile – and renewed calls for a boycott of his company. More recently, even in light of the January 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol, he’s doubled down on his belief in election fraud and support for President Trump, reportedly offering a discount code, #FightForTrump, to his customers. Yes, the #boycottmypillow hashtag has returned – and now there is a #boycottmypillowadvertisers hashtag as well. That can’t be good for business.
  • Seemingly more innocent (or so they thought), The Gap tried to bridge the political divide in the country with a half-blue, half-red sweatshirt and a “The one thing we know, is that together, we can move forward together” advertising campaign the day after the election (the results of which were still unknown at the time). It didn’t work. The clothing brand quickly learned that it was not wise to try to use a chaotic and unsettling election as a marketing opportunity, and customers voiced their displeasure. The post was taken down within an hour. Yes, customers and employees want companies to take a stance on issues – particularly ones that align with their mission and values – but trying to take the middle road on a contentious election is clearly not a good strategy.

If there is any silver lining for companies and individuals that made missteps in 2020, it may be this: people generally have short memories, and most (me included) can’t remember half of what occurred in the last 12 months. But the Internet lives forever. And looking ahead to 2021 and beyond, consumers will be less passive in their purchases – and more passionate about buying from or working with companies that stand for more than just commerce.

This article was originally published on the Public Relations Global Network, here.

The Hoyt Organization

How To Prepare Your Company For A Crisis

When the fire first started, it was a small incident confined to the 27th floor of the high-rise building. By the time the fire department was finished, the entire building had been damaged, and the evening news reported that the building was closed.

What would you do if this were your business? For most businesses, how a crisis is handled may very well be the key to whether the company survives. Sound scary? It does not have to be. Chances are for any business lifecycle, management will face a crisis.

Business owners are particularly vulnerable. Caught in between bringing in new business and managing the day-to-day operations, considering the development of a crisis management plan isn’t unusually a priority – until something happens.

Just as no individual expects to have an accident, company management usually does not expect to encounter an explosion, a major fire or a bomb threat.

Unfortunately, every business during its lifetime will face a crisis. It may be a crisis related to the company’s products, or a natural disaster that is a totally random act. Thus, the question becomes not if it happens, but when.

While management certainly cannot control when a crisis happens, they can indeed plan for the unplanned. Certainly, much of this should be simply part of the day-to-day operational attitude of the company. This will assist in preventing panic when something does happen.

WHAT CAN I DO NOW?

While true crisis management takes time, for those that have not had a chance to begin the process, three basic steps can at least start management thinking along the right lines.

The objective is simple. First, begin to investigate steps that might prevent any disasters. Second, establish stand-by measures that must be activated when an emergency occurs. Third, and perhaps most important, formulate a follow-up plan to reinforce the company’s excellent reputation.

Prepare

Begin to investigate steps that will prevent disasters. The first step is relatively simple. Start with basic procedures, such as when was the last time a fire drill was held? Given that senior-level management may be out of the office, is there a staff person that is familiar with the facilities? Now would be an excellent opportunity for the entire staff to familiarize themselves with basic operational procedures.

Next, what are the most likely situations that the company will face? This may include fire, earthquake or tornadoes, equipment failure, product recalls, shootings, store closures or bankruptcies.

Then, establish the emergency response team, including a designated media spokesperson. Make sure the lines of responsibility are delineated and all necessary information is prepared in advance. Then, put the plan in writing.

Review and Respond

Once the preliminary preparations have been started, begin reviewing the procedures with the entire staff. Practice scenarios to determine whether the plan will work properly.

Institute the communications plans with specific target audiences in mind such as employees, clients and the public. Don’t forget equipment back-up for computers and any other equipment.

Finally, make sure someone has been assigned and is prepared to act as the liaison with the media during and after the incident. Depending on the company, there may be an on-site representative as well as a coordinating off-site corporate spokesperson.

Recovery

Don’t forget to include a recovery program with a pro-active approach to employee, client and public communications. Once the cleanup plans are in place, other action items may include media relations and social media campaigns.

Naturally, a proactive approach begins with developing relationships with the police department, the fire department, and the media in advance. By establishing these relationships in advance, the excellent credibility of the company will already be in place, should a crisis occur.

WHAT ABOUT THE MEDIA?

The very nature of a crisis makes dealing with the media difficult. The crisis itself may still be underway while the interviews are in progress. What should be said? Who should be the spokesperson? Should a press conference be called?

Much of the basic information for the company can be prepared in advance. These may include fact sheets, descriptions, photos, product information and facility information. Local contact sheets, which should contain home and emergency contacts for everyone on staff, should be updated and handy.

When in doubt, remember the following:

  • Tell the truth. Don’t speculate or pretend that nothing happened, when in fact something did.
  • Remember, this too shall pass. Hopefully, if the crisis is handled correctly, it won’t be long before this particular disaster will be nothing more than yesterday’s news.
  • Get it over with. Gather the facts, determine what must be said, and say it. If there are delays, determine when the information will be available and let the press know. Then, make sure the deadline is met.

At THO, we understand that your company’s reputation is the single most important ingredient to your success. Let us be your guide during the most critical times. Give us a call to see how you can add crisis communications strategies to your toolbelt. 

Nick Luvera

How PR Will Absorb the Social Sphere in the 2020s

By Natalie Ghidotti – Ghidotti 

Let this sink in for a moment. Facebook launched in 2004. Twitter became a word in 2006. Instagram? 2010. In roughly the time it takes to conceive a child and see them get a drivers’ license, the innovation of social media disrupted, overwhelmed, inspired and challenged public relations professionals around the world. Both as individuals and an industry as a whole, we’ve had to completely rethink communications and our role serving clients in that new social sphere.

social sphere

Social media and how we use it have come a long way. Just look at Facebook’s path from Ivy League university students to the ability to claim 2.7-billion monthly active users. That disruption and tidal wave of innovation is far from over, though. In so many ways, it has really only just begun and both public relations and digital marketing professionals are at the forefront. And now that we’ve finally closed the door on the dumpster fire that was 2020, the question remains as to how public relations will absorb the social sphere for the rest of this decade.

Rethinking How Companies Engage on Social Media

Some brands today make absolute magic on social media. That’s true for both global companies and incredibly clever small businesses. Most of them didn’t start that way and they won’t continue to thrive by repeating yesterday’s magic tomorrow.

Public relations practitioners need to constantly rethink how companies engage on social media. Influencer strategy offers a great example. It went from a polite ask for product or brand posts to the exchange of goods to high dollar contracts and legally required disclaimers today. That’s not the end of the journey, either. The goal of social media today revolves less around “followers” as it does “conversations” and for better or worse, several high profile examples in recent years have shown how a significant volume of low-profile chatter marshalled for a specific purpose can change minds, shape behaviors and engage millions of people in ways that would have been nearly impossible just a few decades ago.

Those in public relations are learning from that will explore new ways to leverage similar strategies for the brands they represent in the decade ahead.

Filling the Vacuums Left Behind by Traditional Media

Depending on who you speak with, the digital transformation of the news industry has been either kind or exceptionally cruel. While it is easier than ever before for small, agile teams of journalists to produce exceptionally high quality reporting across multiple channels, the transition continues to wreak havoc on traditional journalism business models.

As some news outlets innovate to thrive and new, digital only news platforms rocket to prominence, we see too many others dwindle and fold. Even if a company has an incredibly compelling story, it’s not uncommon to realize that there are no longer journalists or news outlets in their market telling those kinds of stories.

Enter the public relations and content marketing professional. Instead of relying on earned media alone for exposure, communications professionals increasingly leverage the evolving power of owned media. As we move through this current digital transformation, we’ll see more companies and industries creating their own branded digital publications to highlight the kind of stories they want to tell and leveraging social media as a primary channel to share that information.

Meeting Expectations for More Sophisticated Social Media Content

Yes, a low quality smartphone video of someone’s cat acting like a… well, cat, will always possess some power over social media users. However, the growing sophistication of those users, brands and social media platforms, as well as the increasingly low level of entry for high quality digital content production, will consistently raise user expectations for the quality of the content they consume. As those social media users gravitate to higher quality content, public relations and content marketing practitioners are best suited to engineer the kinds of content they want. Many agencies already have some internal content production capacity and we’ll see that grow over the next decade, both in quality and value.

User Migrations to New Social Media Platforms

The Facebook or Twitter of tomorrow does not exist today. Public relations professionals are always on the lookout for the next best thing so they can help their companies ride that initial wave of popularity from the start. Guessing which new platforms have staying power and which ones will die on the vine continues to be the challenge, though. Still, there’s no denying that we’ve seen massive migrations away from traditional platforms like Facebook and Twitter to new platforms like Snapchat, TikTok and… enter your favorite new social media experiment here. Those migrating users also tend to be the younger, affluent and leading edge customers clients want to reach. We’re less than two decades into the social sphere generation and we can expect several other big waves of migration in the decade ahead.

Still Hedging Our Bets When it Comes to Social Media

Those who refuse to innovate and adapt to the new trends we see developing in social media communications will eventually fade away. That doesn’t mean social media will be the only game in town a decade from now. In fact, with renewed talk of regulation and legislative action to clamp down on the free reign that allowed Facebook and other social media platforms to soar, anyone who bets solely on social sphere going forward will most likely lose out.

As we continue to experiment and expand our social media practices, every public relations practitioner must continue to practice the fine art of not allowing themselves to get too distracted from the core principles of their business. Social media should remain part of an integrated communications strategy that incorporates media relations, community engagement, content marketing and more to ensure that we retain the skillsets necessary to help us and the organizations we work with weather every communications storm ahead. 

This article was originally published on the Public Relations Global Network, here.

The Hoyt Organization

Companies Should Invest into PR & Digital in 2021 and Beyond

By C.L. Conroy – The Conroy Martinez Group

As we look forward to this new year of 2021, what do companies need to do to move their brand forward and increase the bottom line.

As members of the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN), we are all given this challenge by our clients regularly. Of course, the world is in a different place globally than we were in years past.

Now more than ever, reaching your target market on a consistent basis and cutting through the clutter to get their attention becomes paramount. There is an increased reliance on the internet, for sure, since many people remain working from home, minus the interactions or distractions of their co-workers in an office setting. They are reading even more on their phones and tablets, and they are working more hours as work time and down time blur. How can companies capitalize on this audience shift?

Companies can thrive by using the more powerful tools you have — Public Relations and Digital.
Listen to the needs of your target audience. Tell them how you can help.

Telling your story through PR and Digital media directly to your target audience is the most powerful strategy companies have. When companies are consistently communicating their story through the press, combined with featuring their stories as content on social media, there is an explosion of viewers that see your news.

For example, we represented a trade and logistics company that imported and exported luxury goods. When the pandemic broke and they realized there was a shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) such as masks, face shields and gloves for both people and healthcare staff on this side of the Atlantic, they quickly pivoted to importing the equipment from Europe and Asia and exporting to Canada and Latin America, filling an urgent need. When their story was told in a trade publication, it was posted on their social media platforms and they received calls from all over North America. By both PR and social media working together, it amplified their story and increased their business.

CSR Campaigns

Based on events of the past year, this public relations tactic becomes more important than ever to show your company cares about the community you serve through a CSR – Corporate Social Responsibility – campaign. This should have both a meaningful impact on the communities you reach and uphold the corporate mission. By aligning your brand with a cause or campaign, your company builds credibility and gets you into the headlines for the right reasons.

For example, a Foundation client recently wanted to ensure that the state of Florida could have as many of its population fill out the Census as possible. The Census provides federal funding for roads, education and healthcare, to name a few benefits, based on how many people live in the state. We created a CSR campaign with them, partnering with eight philanthropic and non-profit organizations around the state. We conducted an intensive Public Relations and Digital advertising campaign to reach the hard-to-reach population, securing Op Eds, Letters to the Editor, TV, radio and online interviews. The result was an increase of 200,000 more people who filled out the Census than in 2010; an increased awareness of the Foundations; and positioning of the leadership as thought leaders on this issue.

Get Creative, Try New Things and Invest into PR

While you want to keep the communications techniques that you know work for your company, get creative and try new things as well. Have you tried interactive campaigns or is your company using as much video as you can to help tell your story? Are you using the best and latest social platforms? Have you started a podcast that is interesting and entertaining? Embrace creative communications solutions to keep your existing audience and reach a newer one.

For example, we were launching a new app – for people to have packages of any size delivered while communicating directly with the driver – and needed to recruit drivers. In addition to reaching them through geotargeting digital advertising, we also hosted a breakfast in one of the key cities in partnership with a chamber of commerce to which drivers were invited to come by and get coffee and pastries to go. We took photos and posted on their social media platforms that this breakfast was going on and invited media to cover this new app launch, which they did. The result was a spike in driver recruitment from the social, digital and PR program.

In Summary

Invest into PR and digital. Why invest in PR and Digital in 2021 and beyond? Integrated campaigns using both PR and Digital are game changing for brands, especially looking forward to another challenging year. Companies that use an experienced PR firm will know how to maximize their budgets and create the most impact. Companies that market into challenging times are proven to be the ones that rebound the quickest. While many industries remain uncertain, find a way to expand your communications budget to give you the edge over your competition. Invest well in your PR and Digital strategy and implementation and your companies will see and feel the results of their marketing dollars.

This article was originally published on the Public Relations Global Network, here.

The Hoyt Organization

Ten Effective PR Strategies for Non-Profit Organizations in 2021

Nonprofit organizations play a crucial role in building healthy communities by providing helpful services. With many nonprofits supporting the most vulnerable during this pandemic, planning effective public relations and marketing strategies will get the attention of the right audience, and build donor awareness.

Given there are more than one million nonprofit organizations in the United States, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, it’s a sizeable market. These companies focus on different causes and have different goals across all industries, including housing, education, healthcare, art, technology and science.

As a result, creating the right messaging to reach the right audience is critical in setting your nonprofit apart from the rest. How can it be done effectively? Here are the top ten tips that will keep your nonprofit at the front of the line:

1. Target the right niche  

Nonprofit organizations have a mission, which identifies with a specific niche. Know what it is – and go after it. For example, The Hoyt Organization provides public relations services to a nonprofit that delivers service-enriched housing programs to residents living in affordable housing communities. We identified multifamily owners and developers as key targets for this organization. This action connected us with the right media outlets to tell the right story – to the right audience.

2. Establish a memorable online presence

Make sure your online presence is memorable. Use your media coverage to help tell your story, create a newsroom and link back to your efforts on your social media pages. Leverage your social channels – such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube to share your brand stories. Don’t forget to use SEO to expand your digital presence. Remember to include links to your media coverage in your annual newsletters and encourage your employees to share this coverage on their LinkedIn pages.

3. Keep tabs on your competitors every day

Find tools to help you monitor the news of your competitors. Track their social media coverage, set up Google alerts of their opinion leaders, check their websites and identify the ways you are doing things better and differently. Remember, they could be going after the same market you are so make sure you stand out.

4. Create compelling content

People will read your message if it’s interesting, compelling and tells a great story. Use consistent messaging but go deeper by telling success stories. Use high-resolution images and video from team members to grab your audience’s attention. As a nonprofit, team up with creative photographers and videographers to step up your game and stand out. You can also use “home footage” from a cell phone or webcam to tell an organic story if you’re at a special event or are practicing social distancing.

5. Think like a “local”

Local PR and marketing outreach can be an effective way to reach your target audience and build your credibility in your own backyard. Nonprofits that do not have a national reach can always leverage the local newspapers, blogs, radio stations and television stations. If you can get enough coverage from the local and trade, you can attract national attention. 

6. Check your calendar; leverage holidays and national observances

Nonprofits often have charitable work associated with the holidays. Plan ahead and develop a few virtual events around relevant holidays and national observances. Take it a step further and create your national observance and create a campaign!

7. Join an association

Expanding your network gets easy when you join an association in your industry. Associations help you learn more about the industry while introducing you to industry professionals. This may give you an advantage over competitors that don’t have access to those same individuals. As a member of a reputable association, you build your credibility as an industry leader. Consider joining the National Council of Nonprofits, a trusted resource and proven advocate for America’s charitable nonprofits. The association provides access to trustworthy information on legal, operational and capacity-building matters.

8. Showcase your leadership

Making your leadership more visible will build the credibility of your nonprofit. Consider writing thought leadership pieces for trade media outlets. Demonstrate your expertise by sharing business insights and providing research or data to back your statements. Bring your story to life with real-life examples or case studies. Then, remember to circulate your coverage to your stakeholders, including your clients, board of directors and potential donors. 

9. Highlight your partners and donors

Co-branding with various donors and/or others your organization is connected to will build your reputation. For example, if you received a generous donation from a well-known company, tell the world by pitching reporters who cover that company. Consider distributing a press release announcing the contribution.  Always remember to clear it with that company first.

10. Be PR savvy and invest in tools

There are a number of tools available that will expand your efforts with very little investment. For example, using a wire service to distribute your press release will expand your reach as well as your digital presence.  There are also platforms that can help you schedule and publish your social media content. One such tool, Hootsuite, is one of many that will help you manage all of your social content in a single calendar. All of these platforms allow you to leverage your time and efforts, and are worth exploring.

If you’re are one of the millions of nonprofit organizations that needs public relations support, please contact The Hoyt Organization at (310) 373-0103 or email helpdesk@hoytorg.com

We look forward to partnering with you.

Nick Luvera

What Is Financial Services PR and Why Is It Important?

The financial services industry covers a broad range of businesses that include insurance, money management and digital banking. Financial services public relations help build businesses’ financial reputation. For instance, financial services PR can announce your company’s performance and showcases relationships with investors. PR is essential to bring credibility to your audience and improve a brand’s reputation. The goal of public relations is to promote a positive brand image and strengthen the relationship with a brand’s audience.

Here are some ways companies can benefit from financial services PR:

Launch Initial Public Offerings (IPOs)

If you are planning to go public, this is the perfect time to take advantage of what public relations can offer. Financial PR will increase the profile of the organization during one of the most important times in your company’s history. Public relations professionals can put together a media relations strategy to make sure your IPO is shared at the right time to reach the right stakeholders. “The Wall Street Journal” and “Inc.” are prime media outlets that can help you increase your company’s visibility during this time.

Showcase Financial Performance

 Companies in the financial industry provide quarterly and annual reports on financial performance to stockholders and shareholders. Conference calls aren’t the only way to present a report. PR specialists can identify unique ways of showcasing your report and can craft messaging that presents your report in a positive light. An annual report can be the first impression that the company has to present itself to its audience.

Connect Directly to Customers on Social

PR pros can help you create and maintain social media accounts on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Social media allows you to communicate directly to current or potential customers who may have questions about your organization. You can receive training from a PR team on how to respond to comments and direct messages on the platforms as well.

Financial advisors are encouraged to create a LinkedIn page since this platform allows you to showcase your credentials and experience in the industry. PR professionals can also create social media calendars so that your social media platforms stay active with content that is both engaging and relevant to your followers.

Improve Your SEO

In order to be ranked high in online and Google search results, you must improve your search engine optimization (SEO). Public relations professionals can design SEO strategies to help your financial services company increase your website’s views to drive additional traffic to your site. SEO will help you stand out from your competition.

Enhance Your Web Design & Copy

 Having an outstanding and functional website is crucial in today’s digital world. Users must be able to easily navigate your website. Your website should also clearly communicate what you do and who you do it for. Also, the layout of your pricing should be easy to understand.

Updating stock images, making it mobile-friendly and deleting unclear terminology can all help you improve your site. With the help of a PR firm, your website will grab the reader’s attention to support new and current clients. Your website should be a prime resource for the individuals you serve.

Leverage Marketing Techniques  

Email marketing is a great way to reach your target audience. Consider hiring a PR firm to develop an annual newsletter that showcases your company’s achievements. Hardcopy brochures are another marketing tool to get information about your company into the hands of potential customers. PR can help you identify which marketing strategies work best to reach your target audience.

Develop Key Messaging

All businesses, including those in the financial services industry, should establish key messages that explain their brand. The messages can be one or two sentences that capture the essence of your company and it should tell a story. Consider keeping a content calendar so that it is easy to control how you present your content.

Offer Thought Leadership Commentary

Financial services companies can benefit from positioning top executives as thought leaders. With a fantastic media relations strategy, your thought leader can be used as an expert source for a variety of business and financial trade publications. And local newspapers and broadcast stations can help you reach individuals who live in the area you serve.

Blogs are a great way to establish yourself as a thought leader. PR professionals can help you identify blog topics that relate to your industry. Posting content frequently on your company’s website can also improve your website’s SEO.

Podcasts are also an active way to showcase your company’s thought leaders. With podcasts, current and potential customers can get to know you and your expertise. Use social media to promote your podcast and gain new listeners.

Feel free to contact The Hoyt Organization today to receive financial services PR support for your company.

 

 

 

Nick Luvera

Social Media Series: How to Leverage Your Twitter Business Account

Are you feeling frustrated or uninspired with your organization’s activity on Twitter? This fast-paced, ever-changing platform can be tough to get the hang of, but by elevating your strategy, Twitter presence can be a key element in social media success.

Last year, Twitter.com ranked as the 7th most visited website in the world with 145 million monetizable daily active users. This number continues to grow as users turn to Twitter for information and discourse on current events like the United States political climate and updates on COVID-19. While sometimes it can feel like you’re shouting into the void, it’s essential to have quality and consistent content on your organization’s Twitter for potential customers to discover.

1. Engage with Your Audience (And Industry!)

Twitter is a great place to interact with your customers and organically start word-of-mouth conversations. What makes this platform special is that it has the most direct opportunity for dialogue between not only brands and customers, but all of the other players in a media cycle.

On LinkedIn and Facebook, your ability to interact with others through a brand channel is limited, whereas on Twitter you can engage directly, even replying back and forth with those who tag you or reach out to your organization. Whether it be answering questions, replying to concerns, or getting feedback on new products or initiatives, Twitter can help you start and continue that dialogue.

You’ll also find that all of the relevant industry voices, from competitors to journalists to thought leaders are on Twitter. This is the place to see what those in your industry are tweeting about and get a real-time snapshot of what is trending. You can even build relationships with journalists in your field and retweet relevant articles to share your organization’s opinions and industry knowledge. Above all, when you focus on being present and active in conversations where you can demonstrate your expertise, an improvement in your brand reputation and awareness will follow.

Twitter Business Account

2. Make Use of Twitter Tools and Tactics

There are several strategies and tools that are unique to Twitter. Twitter lists are a great social listening tool to make sure your business is in the know about what is changing in your industry. Each user can now create up to 1,000 Twitter lists, although you’ll want to limit yourself to a few key groups.

You can use lists to keep tabs on what your competitors are talking about. This may help monitor what is working and not working on those profiles, giving you a leg up in terms of strategy. The great thing is you can choose whether to make your list public or private. It may also be valuable to create lists of industry leaders, bloggers, and even loyal customers. This way you can foster those relationships by engaging with these key audiences consistently through retweets and mentions.

Many brands add value to customer relationships by hosting their own monthly Twitter chats. This is a fantastic way to interact with your audience and ask them questions about your brand or industry. Once you establish a date, time, and original hashtag for audiences to use, you’ll be ready to have more meaningful conversations with your Twitter business account.

Twitter Business Account

3. Optimize Your Content

To get the most of your 280-character limit, create multimedia tweets to differentiate your business from others. Tweets with images get 150% more retweets, so keep your content fresh with images and videos. Do your best to avoid the overused format of “text, CTA, link” by playing around with GIFs, emojis and original visual content.

Hashtags are an easy way to spread your content on any platform, but on your Twitter business account, you want to be careful about how many you use. Stick with one or two relevant hashtags per tweet so your posts don’t come across in a way that seems like spam or clickbait. Make use of hashtag research strategies and Twitter lists to see which hashtags your audience is already using and adopt them yourself to get more eyes on your content.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to up the frequency of your tweets. 92% of companies tweet more than once a day, 42% tweet one-to-five times a day, and 19% tweet six-to-10 times a day. Of course, avoid clogging your followers’ feeds with unnecessary content, but unlike other platforms, two to three tweets per day is not a crime. Experiment with time and you might find that a tweet in the morning, one at lunchtime, and another in the evening is quite effective.

Twitter Business Account

4. Monitor and Measure Results

Social listening on your Twitter business account can allow you to continuously shift your strategy to create the type of content your followers actually want by measuring results with the Twitter analytics menu. A general tip for Twitter is to focus less on vanity metrics, like impressions or follower count, and instead monitor the CTR on links and how many users are engaging with you out of your total audience number. This, again, will give you a better picture of which content is most popular with your audience.

As mentioned in our previous post, when using Twitter for business, setting up tools like Planoly that allow you to schedule your posts ahead of time is incredibly valuable. Especially if your organization is making full use of Twitter by posting several times a day.

Twitter Business Account

We hope these tips help you improve and make the best use of your Twitter business account. If you would like to learn more ways to reach your customers through Twitter, feel free to send us a message.

Check out the previous post in this series, How to Leverage Your Instagram Business Account, to make sure you’re developing a well-rounded social media presence!

Stay tuned for the next blog post in our social media series where we’ll discuss leveraging your organization’s Facebook account.

The Hoyt Organization

PR and Marketing Strategies for Luxury Real Estate Brands

Luxury real estate brands are all about creating an impression of exclusivity – both in their clientele and the type of properties they represent. With the luxury housing market thriving, developers and contractors need to take advantage of real estate public relations and marketing strategies to get their prospective buyers and sellers interested in their designs.

Marketing luxury properties requires extra effort and having a solid PR team promoting you to your target clientele will help you stand out from the rest. According to American author and former dot com business executive Seth Godin, “People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories and magic.”

Fundamental public relations and marketing strategies that will enhance both your public image and your marketing dollars reach include:

Identify Your Target Market

This is the number one strategy that you can use to become successful. Begin by identifying your niche market and become an expert in it. Knowing what drives your target markets decisions and where they are headed in the short and long term is imperative to developing an effective PR and marketing strategies. Knowing all you can about what is happening in the areas that your target market populates will allow you to adapt your brand strategies quickly and accordingly.

Over time, your target market may experience varying degrees of shifts in who they comprise. For example, as baby boomers were known for building large, expensive homes, millennials are not interested in buying the large elaborate houses built by them.

Establishing an Online Presence

 Print publications aren’t as relevant as they once were. Although local newspapers are still being read, many people now go online for information from these same sources. With technology ever-changing, you must establish a social media presence. This will include creating a website and leveraging social media channels in your marketing. A key benefit of utilizing social media platforms to market your real estate brand is that they are inexpensive. On top of their cost advantage, they allow you the potential to reach an enormous number of prospects.  Your online presence can also include digital news outlets and podcasts.

Staying on Message

Keeping a content calendar is one of the best ways to avoid inconsistent branding and gives you full control over how you’re presenting your content. When you have content planned out ahead of time, it’s easy to keep your messaging, look and feel in perfect alignment. Create one or two sentences that best describe your luxury real estate brand. Short key messages work well on the internet and social media. The messages should convey your values while telling a story. Once you have identified your message, use it as part of your branding and consider giving it a unique hashtag.

Hosting Virtual Experiences

In this time of COVID, virtual experiences have become the norm for inviting your audience to engage with your brand. According to a survey by the National Association of Realtors – 44% of clients search for properties on the internet first. Virtual guided visits of properties capturing 360-degree video allows your brand to bring the property to clients while in the safety of their own homes. Key designers, architects, developers and contractors can host Q&A sessions online engaging your followers while answering any questions relating to the thought process and sale of high-end real estate. This allows a brand the opportunity to provide value to both its past and its potential future clients.

Neglecting your PR strategy can cost you in lost luxury real estate sales. If you’re struggling with real estate branding, The Hoyt Organization can help.  Contact us today to learn more about how we can support your organization by developing a strategic communications plan that supports your unique goals.

Nick Luvera

Season of Gratitude: What the THO Team is Grateful for This Holiday Season

As the end of the year approaches, we all begin to think about what is most important. We asked The Hoyt Organization team to share what they are most grateful for this holiday season.

“I am truly grateful for family… silly. Weird. Crazy. But they all belong to me.” -Leeza Hoyt

“I’m grateful for the 30+ years of Thanksgiving memories from two people who never let their children know how damn hard it was for a postal worker and part-time secretary to provide a home, food on the table and a college education. This year is filled with reminders of how many of us aren’t that lucky. Hopefully, the afterlife has WiFi so I can thank them now.” -Kent Barrett

“I am grateful for my rescue dog, Ruthie. She has been the highlight of 2020 for our family.” -Anne Milo Shanahan

“I am thankful for my precious dog, Foxy Mama. I am blessed to have a healthy and happy dog who loves me.” -Cinnamon Thompson

“I am thankful for the beach. I love riding my bike and taking walks along the coast to clear my mind!” -Kate Artmann

“I am grateful to my family for their endless love and support, even from across the country. I never take our video chats, laughs, and time together for granted.” -Carly Aronson

“I’m thankful for my son and all the adventures I’ve been able to take with him.  It’s been a blast being able to see the world again through a child’s eyes.” -Amy Mosher

The Hoyt Organization

2021 Predictions: The Future of Public Relations

The first public relations department was created in 1889 when industrialist George Westinghouse wanted to get coverage for one of his electricity projects. While most agree that public relations as a paid profession began in the early 1900s, there is no doubt that it is vastly different today, and it will continue to evolve, as we move forward.  So, what will PR look like in 2021? There are a number of things we can expect. Here’s a peek about the 2021 future of public relations.

PR professionals will continue to learn how to work in a pandemic

As a result, we expect to see a blend of an in-office and mobile workforce. Maintaining company culture will rely on daily or weekly video calls with staff and socially distancing in person events. Our own team meets every morning on Zoom to go over deliverables for each client. Those who thrive will remember to inject a bit of fun into the day. For example, we connect digitally by playing virtual games and by attending online conferences related to the PR industry. Thus, identifying new ways to communicate with your team will continue.

The communication sphere will continue to blur

The divide between marketing, public relations, social media and other elements will blend into a wide variety of mediums. These industries have always worked closely together to meet business goals but the division between them is narrowing – and in many cases disappearing.  At our company, it is common to be hired for a media relations program which includes social media or digital elements as part of the campaign. The omni-channel design is a one-trick pony and most companies want more.

Environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) practices will continue

Social justice, ethical management and environmental protection have become key factors in appealing to consumers, most importantly millennials. According to Morgan Stanley, 86 percent of millennials are interested in sustainable investing, meaning strong ESG efforts can help build your brand toward that desired target audience. Companies should share their sustainability strategies throughout targeted marketing materials or by showcasing improvements in employee diversity, labor conditions and charitable work.

Technology will continue to evolve

As augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) become more common and less expensive technology adoption and use will increase. AR experiences like Snapchat and VR devices such as Google Cardboard are becoming increasingly popular technologies that we use to support our clients. Try using AR technology to showcase your new product and then share a blog or a video about the activity on your website.

future of public relations

Data will continue to be a huge driver in communications

Data is collected in a myriad of ways, ranging from content shared on Twitter to a completed survey on a recorded call. Today, agencies have at their fingertips data on everything from who is visiting their website, to specific demographics that can be reached on a variety of social channels. As a result, we have the ability to create very targeted, trackable programs more than ever before. This means adjustments can often be made in real time which leads to the right results faster.

Let’s hope 2021 shapes up to be a much better year than 2020. And remember, feel free to keep our forecast of future of public relations in mind when you are planning your next PR plan. Or, call us. We’ll take care of it for you.

The Hoyt Organization

Tips for Keeping Your Staff Engaged: The Importance of Professional Development Workshops

With many employees working remote – even if some people choose to come in the office – how do we encourage staff engagement and show that we’re supporting their professional advancement? Here at The Hoyt Organization, we developed a three-part workshop dedicated to exploring professional goals and creating positive synergy for the entire THO team. 

We began by hiring a professional corporate trainer who has worked with over 1,000 people over the past 17 years helping to make employees better equipped to succeed not only in the day-to-day functions of their jobs, but in life as well.  Our trainer led each of our three sessions that were designed to inspire employees to set goals for their professional ambitions as well as provide each employee a road map aimed at showing them the way. Each session included tips on how to select the right tools to achieving one’s goals and living a life of purpose. These workshops were held in the office with participants wearing masks and social distancing. A delicious lunch was delivered midway through each session creating an opportunity for connection, team bonding and laughter through this shared experience. 

Workshop 1: Goals vs. Reality  

Happiness is something everyone should attain. THO used a pie chart to score our level of contentment in several categories including career, friendship, romance and finances. Once problematic areas of our lives were recognized, we listed our five-year goals in order of priority and shared the information with the team. We also documented ways in which we could help improve teamwork.

Professional Development Workshops
Dedree Hoyt holds a personal vision board at THO’s 2020 Professional Development Workshop.

Workshop 2: Go Big and Go Hunting

Team building can help employees feel more comfortable and can lead to more effective communication. In this session, THO participated in a scavenger hunt to find popsicle sticks hidden around the office. We were challenged to work as a team to decode the clues concealed in each riddle. With this exercise, we witnessed how each worker approaches a task and how they work with a group.

In addition to the scavenger hunt, we sat down to create professional vision boards that are intended to represent aspirations for a purposeful life.

Tips for Keeping Your Staff Engaged
Kate Artmann (left), Carly Aronson (center) and Amy Mosher (right) create professional vision boards.

Workshop 3: The Cost of Success

The journey to success may not be easy but with resilience and hard work, anyone can achieve their dreams. For the last session, we measured our goals and discovered ways in which we can accomplish them. Each person had a chance to explain his or her vision boards from the previous session.

The Hoyt Organization

Why Construction Companies Need Public Relations

Why do construction companies need public relations? With so many construction companies out there, you have to find a way to make your company stand out. You want your company to be the first thing that comes to people’s minds when they hear the word “construction.” That’s why it’s important to use public relations strategies to raise brand awareness. According to Taboola, brand awareness is “the very first step in the marketing funnel, and a crucial foundation to eventually acquire customers.” This will lead people to hire your company.

Brand Awareness

In order to raise brand awareness, The Hoyt Organization (THO) has created and distributed press releases announcing key events, company growth and employee movements. As a result, THO has secured media coverage in top trade media outlets, such as National Real Estate Investor, Real Estate Bisnow, California Builder & Engineer and Multi-Housing News. By securing placements in key publications, you can raise awareness about your brand and stand out from competitors.

Not only do you want people to recognize your company name, but you also want them to think about your company in a positive way. In a CMS Wire article, CORT Marketing Analyst Jake Taylor claims, “Brand awareness goes hand in hand with brand reputation — it doesn’t help if people know who you are for the wrong reasons.”

By developing a strong media relations program, you can build a positive brand. This entails positioning your company as a premier construction firm and raising the visibility of your company’s key leaders. THO has secured high-level thought leadership editorial opportunities for construction companies through strategic pitching in order to help build their reputation.

Social Media

In addition to engaging in media relations, you should establish a social media presence, as more than one in three online users go to social media when searching for information about a brand or product. You can share content about your company, participate in relevant discussions, and interact with prospective clients. THO has successfully increased the online presence of construction companies and expanded their reach through social media. By playing an active role on social media, you can raise awareness about your brand and create a positive brand image.

It is crucial that you build a positive brand before a public relations crisis occurs so that you are able to maintain your reputation. As stated in a previous blog post, crises happen during the lifetime of every organization. For this reason, it is important to be proactive and build a positive brand to ensure that a public relations crisis does not damage your reputation.

All in all, construction companies need public relations to increase their visibility and stand out from the competition. If you are interested in expanding your reach, feel free to send us a message. We are happy to help build your image and grow your company.

The Hoyt Organization

Social Media Series: How to Leverage Your Instagram Business Account

With social networks continuing to change the way people act and make decisions, business leaders need to determine how best to connect with their customers and shape their perceptions. Hootsuite claims, “If you’re not taking advantage of social, you’re missing out on a fast, inexpensive, and effective way to reach almost half the world’s population.” In this blog post, we will be sharing ways to leverage your Instagram business account to not only raise brand awareness but also increase engagement.

1. Optimize Your Bio

Your bio is one of the first things users see on your page. It is a snapshot that relays the most important information someone should know about you. It sets the brands tone by quickly highlighting who you are, what you do and how to get in touch with you. Strategic marketers may even include a call-to-action (CTA) to entice followers to focus their attention on the next action you want them to take. This CTA is generally a “link in bio” which is a clickable URL that your visitors will use to visit what is your most important online space. This could be your website, a product page, your blog post or podcast. By using a service like Linktree, you can put a URL in your bio so users can access relevant links. The Hoyt Organization, for example, uses Linktree to include links to agency blog posts. Crafting an Instagram bio may sound tedious, but it is crucial for establishing your brand presence.

2. Post Regularly

To keep your followers engaged, you should create a social media schedule.  Determining your social media schedule is critical for strategically planning the content you’ll create and share.  Whether that means you post once, twice, or even three times a week, you should be consistent. This will help your followers learn when to expect fresh content. The Hoyt Organization sticks to a regular posting schedule by highlighting an agency blog post every Wednesday. That way, The Hoyt Organization’s followers know when to expect a new blog post in their feed. If you only have time to post once a week, that is perfectly acceptable. Just make sure your post brings value to your followers and keeps them coming back to your page for more.

3. Share Quality Content

Posting quality content is equally as important as posting on a regular basis. You have to create posts that resonate with your target audience, as this will ensure that they interact with your content. For this reason, you should keep your target audience in mind when crafting posts. You should also create a visual aesthetic for your page with consistent colors and filters so that followers will recognize your brand. Tools like Planoly allow you to engage in “aesthetic planning,” which involves uploading photos and videos to see how they look in a particular order before actually posting them. You can learn more about what Planoly has to offer by reading our blog post,The Next “It” Tool: Planoly.

We hope these tips help you leverage your Instagram business account. If you would like to learn more ways to reach your customers through Instagram, feel free to send us a message.

Stay tuned for our next blog post on how to leverage your Twitter account.

The Hoyt Organization

Five Tips for Healthcare Public Relations Success

Competition for space in the healthcare sector – like many other markets – can be fierce. For those looking to expand their public relations efforts in this market, the key to building successful campaigns means keeping up with the best PR practices as well as tailoring strategies and tactics to fit each clients’ unique needs. Paying attention to the basics will ensure success and keep the program on track.

Here are our five tips you can use to generate awareness and build lasting relationships in the healthcare industry.

1. Know the Facts

When practicing public relations, it is essential to understand the industry that your client serves. As demonstrated by the arrival of COVID-19 in the healthcare market, it is a rapidly growing and often complicated field. As a result, its critical for a PR agency that serves healthcare clients to be aware of the regulations that affect the delivery and administration of healthcare as well as the impact that they will have on their clients.

How can this be accomplished? Clearly, there is an increasing demand for communications professionals to possess a greater understanding of industry trendsReading industry trade journals, blogs, and newsletters will keep the team current, and may even lead to additional opportunities for the client. A comprehensive understanding of the industry will help you produce effective messaging for each organization.

2. Keep it Simple

In many cases, the topics that healthcare industries address can be extremely complex. Ideally, creating a strong foundation of industry knowledge will allow you to avoid jargon and be as clear as possible in your messaging. When addressing the public, avoid using phrases that are extremely technical. It is vital to develop messaging that the everyday person can understand.

PR professionals in the healthcare industry should be prepared with supplementary information and additional communication resources to support messaging in alternative ways. Consider providing an infographic with a news release. Even though editors and reporters prefer a concise pitch, if you pique their interest, it is valuable to have backup data, photos and fact sheets already on hand.

3. Know Your Audience

It may seem like a no-brainer, but it is especially important in healthcare communication to take the time to understand not only your client’s target audience, but also each media outlet.

Understand the outlet’s tone, stance and audience before reaching out. Place the most relevant and important information at the top of your media materials, and make it easy to find essential information first.  

4. Make it Timely

In a healthcare industry that is rapidly evolving, especially in the current climate, PR professionals must ensure that their message is relevant and newsworthy. If your pitch isn’t an announcement about something recent that is impacting the current news cycle, then find a way to tie your message to an industry trend or current event. You can take this a step further by localizing your message in the region that will be impacted the most by your information.

Remember, an audience is much more receptive to a health-related story when they understand how it affects their daily lives. Even if a topic is trending nationally, or today even globally, it will make the greatest impact when connected to your audience on a local level. You can increase your impact by emphasizing emotional connections that show how your services have helped someone in a real way. Especially now, we can form meaningful connections with an audience and increase the effectiveness of a pitch by sharing compelling stories about a specific patient or family.

5. Make Use of Social Media

Social media looks different in healthcare PR than in more traditional consumer markets. Build a following through thought leadership, combined with authentic and consistent engagement with your audience, on social media platforms to expand your reach effectively.

Use social media as an opportunity to engage with the public, provide health information in a creative way and increase awareness of news and industry discoveries. As a tactic, social media allows healthcare organizations to strengthen key relationships by responding to patients publicly, highlighting programs and essential personnel in a positive manner, and position the entity as a part of their community.

Check out our previous work and contact us today to learn more about how we can help elevate your healthcare public relations strategy.

The Hoyt Organization

How to Create a Winning Real Estate Public Relations Strategy

Designing a public relations real estate campaign takes careful evaluation, strategic messaging and clear-cut path that will lead to success. When this is paired with management support, strong spokespersons and carefully crafted information, it will be a successful campaign.

The secret? – having a winning real estate public relations strategy will enable you to reach your long-term goals. No doubt that effectively planning that strategy will get the best results.

Here’s How It’s Done

Every strategic public relations plan requires identifying goals and objectives. You need to know what you are trying to accomplish before you start creating PR and marketing materials. For instance, if you have a newly renovated office building your goal may center on increasing awareness of the upgraded space to attract your new tenants. This can be showcased in social media or funneled into your media relations program. Public relations itself is designed to lead to stronger relationships between a client and its target audience.

Do you know who your target audience is and what its interests are?

Do you know how to reach your audience effectively?

Let’s say you own several studio apartments in downtown Los Angeles. College students looking to save money or commute time might be interested in renting your space, and a social media campaign could be a good way to reach them. And if you understand the interests of your target audience, it is easier to craft key messages to gain their interest.

Key Messages and Effective PR Tactics

Your key messages should inform your target audience about your company. For example, key messages for a commercial broker association might be to include the year the organization was founded, the number of current members and the locations it serves.

Employing effective tactics, the tools of the plan, are crucial to implementing any strategy. Tactics can include branded collateral materials, pinpoint or broad-based marketing, targeted social media, results-oriented media relations, company branded e-newsletters and complementary advertising. Make sure your tactics work with the company’s brand. For example, a realistic tactic for a construction company could involve pitching a press release to trade publications covering the real estate industry rather than sending the document to a broad list of business media outlets.

An Integrated Public Relations Approach With THO

In today’s digital age, there are a variety of tools you can utilize when deciding on a public relations strategy that you can leverage for a PR plan. The key to a successful program is identifying what the strategy should be then following up with strong tactics that are implemented to reach the right audience in the right way. 

Still not sure what your next step is? Call us today @ 310-373-0103 or connect with us to discuss your public relations needs. We can craft a winning real estate public relations program just for you.

The Hoyt Organization

Public Relations Global Network Holds First Open Global Online Conference: The New World Ahead

By Public Relations Global Network (PRGN)

The Hoyt Organization is proud to be the Los Angeles area partner of Public Relations Global Network (PRGN), a network of 50 hand-selected public relations firms. Recently, PRGN hosted a lively panel discussion featuring agency leaders from around the world, discussing “The New World Ahead.” To learn more about this event, please read the press release published by PRGN below. 

Held in conjunction with the Network’s bi-annual Fall conference on October 16, this first-time virtual event was attended by nearly 200 communicators from around the world. Moderated by PRWeek magazine’s VP and Editorial Director Steve Barrett, the panel – titled “The New World Ahead” – looked at what the 2020s will bring for communications professionals around the world.

Panelists included PRGN agency principals Andy See, Perspective Strategies, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; David Fuscus, Xenophon Strategies, Washington D.C., USA; Lynn Erasmus, HWB Communications, Cape Town, South Africa; Natacha Clarac, Athenora Consulting, Brussels, Belgium; and Mark Paterson, Currie, Melbourne, Australia.

According to Andy See, PRGN APAC Regional Vice President and founder of PRGN member firm Perspective Strategies in Malaysia, “Today, the market requires the PR and communications industry to reboot and become ‘PR 4.0.’ PR 4.0 is where communication is no longer just two-way or even a dialogue. In fact, stories are co-created and there is no longer a clear distinction between the storyteller and the audience.” PRGN’s global panel was sponsored by global media intelligence company Meltwater.

PRGN Global Online Conference
PRGN President Robert Bauer

53rd PRGN Conference

The global panel was a public session held in conjunction with PRGN’s fall conference, which was opened by PRGN President Robert Bauer, managing partner of accelent communications of Vienna, Austria. The virtual event was attended by representatives from the 51 PRGN member agencies around the globe.

“In times like these, nothing’s better than thinking about the future from different angles,” said Bauer. “And nothing comes close to the variety of insights that is represented from within our membership.” Topics discussed among the members included new business development strategies, COVID-19 coping strategies, succession and acquisition strategies, digital solutions and services, virtual events, growth in the Asia-Pacific region and PR agency best practices.

Exclusive Leadership Webinar

As part of the conference, Ken Jacobs, agency consultant, coach, trainer and principal of Jacobs Consulting & Executive Coaching, conducted an exclusive webinar for PRGN members titled: “Leading leaders in uncertain times.”

Jacobs focused his presentation on the single most important job that agency owners and senior executives have: leading their own leaders in the agency with the right mindset and attitude to navigate through uncertain times. He also shared insights gained from interviews done recently with high-ranking leaders at large agencies across the U.S.

PRGN partners typically meet twice a year at member locations around the world to share knowledge and develop global business. Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic and related travel restrictions, PRGN’s Spring 2020 and Autumn 2020 Global Conferences were both held virtually.

Future PRGN conferences are planned for Scottsdale, Arizona, USA and Singapore.

The Hoyt Organization

The Hoyt Organization Wins Three 2020 Hermes Creative Awards

The 14th annual Hermes Creative Awards were recently held to recognize the messengers and creators involved in the concept and design of marketing communications programs. With over 300 categories and more than 6,000 global entrants, these awards have been an industry standard for more than 20 years. The Hoyt Organization was thrilled to be among the top winners, taking home three awards for its creative work.

The Hoyt Organization’s efforts for USC Lusk Center for Real Estate earned a Platinum Award for Online Placement. For THO’s work with Waterton on the grand reveal of The Flat-DTLA, THO received a Gold Award for Instagram Strategy. Finally, THO received an Honorable Mention for their work with CREW-LA (Commercial Real Estate Women – Los Angeles).

Hermes Creative Awards

Named consistently by the Los Angeles Business Journal as one of the leading integrated communications firms in the greater Los Angeles area, THO has also been named as one of the top firms nationally by O’Dwyers, a news source that covers the public relations and communications industry.

To date, THO has won more than 120 awards for programs that encompass public relations, social media, integrated communications programs and more.

The THO team was honored to support and tell the stories of such outstanding organizations. THO looks forward to more success in the rest of 2020 and beyond.

The Hoyt Organization

Six Tips: How SEO Can Power Your New Business Strategy

By David Landis – Landis Communications Inc. (LCI)

I’m often asked, “How do you generate new business leads?” There’s no silver bullet to answer that question, but if I had to pick one strategy it would be: the power of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Our marketing communications agency, Landis Communications Inc. in San Francisco, celebrates 30 years in business this October. For probably the past 15 years, at least 50% (yup, 50%) of our new business leads come through organic search (and mostly through Google, which still dominates search). 

Did you know that organic search results are 8.5 times more likely to be clicked on than paid search results?

We’re not a large agency (we’re about 10 people) and our inbound leads average about 1 a day. Of those, I’d say 30% are legitimate leads that seem like a good fit for our firm; and of those 30%, about half will make it to the proposal stage. We are lucky to win about 50% of the prospects for which we create proposals. So if you do the math, that translates to at least 1-2 client wins a month – more than enough to keep our business going strong.

So, what’s the secret sauce? Beyond keywords, which are critical, how do you leverage SEO for your business development efforts? Google will never tell the public exactly how they grade businesses for search (and they keep changing their algorithm all the time), but there are a number of tried and true practices that will help. And, we’ve got one great idea of what to look for in the future as well.

Here are six handy – and easy to implement – tips:

1. Content, content, content

It’s a proven fact that creating and refreshing content on your website is one of the best ways to rank higher in a Google organic search. We add new content to our site daily – yes, daily. It might be bragging about a new client, showcasing a great media placement for our clients, writing a new blog entry or more. Make sure you include quality backlinks, which also help search rankings. But also provide new content regularly – that translates to a higher score with Google.

2. Leverage your blog

Your blog is the easiest way to create new content. Write about what you know – your own business – which, as it turns out, happens to be a lot. Not only does this help your search results, but it also establishes you and your business as industry thought leaders. Again, don’t forget the legitimate backlinks and also include “Related Articles” at the end of your blog to help boost your Google standing

3. Be social

Your social channels can be another great source for content and can capture potential prospects looking for your business. But don’t make the mistake of “stand alone social.” Add your social buttons and content to your website – and conversely, make sure your social channels are re-directing readers/viewers back to your website.

4. Claim and Maximize Your Google My Business Listing

Here’s a dirty little secret: Playing to Google’s own strengths will help your organic search. You definitely want to claim your Google My Business listing and then ensure it’s fully-functioning with all your relevant information. Why? Those listings provide the information for the “pop-ups” that appear locally for searches – and they are also another part of the mix that Google uses in general to rate your business. With a good Google My Business listing, your chances of coming up higher in the local results increase.

5. Get Reviewed

Do reviews help search results? According to Leverage Marketing, “The short answer is yes. Google reviews do help improve search rankings and overall SEO results. While there are a lot of factors involved with search rankings, online customer reviews can be a strong signal to search engines that communicates trustworthiness and authority.” So make sure you proactively ask your customers and clients to review you, especially on Google.

6. The Future for SEO?

The future for SEO should be music to a PR pro’s ears. Why? It’s all about storytelling. According to the Search Engine Journal, “SEO is transforming. Understanding the user will be key to success. Getting them to stay on the page and explore the website will be the challenge. The interconnectivity of SEO, technology, human behavior, media, machine and mindset will change the game of SEO and online marketing. SEO professionals are now required to become storytellers and professional marketers that not only can develop a search strategy, but can also communicate and sell a brand online. The digital message must meet the user’s mindset and intent – and deliver what the searcher is seeking while building brand awareness in the long term. The future of SEO is in understanding the user’s intent and the deeper layers of wants and desires that drive behaviors.”

With these 6 tips for better search engine optimization results, you’ll be well on your way to embracing the flood of new business prospects coming your way.

This article was originally published on the Public Relations Global Network, here.

The Hoyt Organization

How Public Relations Strategy Enhances the Healthcare Industry

As COVID-19 continues to change the best practices of nearly every industry, healthcare professionals, in particular, are facing the fact that the world is looking to them for insight and expertise. Especially now, public relations can help healthcare organizations of all sizes solidify a reputation as that trusted source of guidance for patients and the media alike. 

Whether the goal is to develop or revamp brand strategy, prepare a crisis response plan, or outline messaging to these key audiences, public relations professionals are crucial to the complex picture of healthcare.  In this blog, we’ll discuss four essential roles that a PR agency can perform in the healthcare industry. 

  1. Targeted Communication

There is no shortage of competition for attention in the healthcare industry. Public relations strategy can help cut through the noise and fine-tune key messaging to ensure communication is efficient and succinct. Building a trusted brand requires a multi-faceted approach to media relations.  

This involves clearly determining key target audiences and the best way to reach them. Whether it be pitching a bylined article to trade publications to establish credibility or developing a social media campaign that enhances connection with patients, a public relations agency has the expertise to craft a targeted healthcare communication strategy that resonates.

2. Content Creation

A large part of getting your name into the public conversation is producing content that is relevant and valuable to the public. Every piece of content associated with an organization’s brand must be top quality. Not only does this help to facilitate conversation with stakeholders, but it helps with link building and SEO as well. In short, the more shareable your posts, podcasts, infographics, etc. are, the better.

Where does PR come into this process? PR professionals have more time to dedicate to crafting and perfecting this content. Content marketing can help you build brand awareness in a way that is immediately valuable to customers. This can take many shapes, including conducting interviews with healthcare experts or even writing ‘how to’ guides.

3. Counsel and Crisis Management

As we discussed in our previous blog post “5 Crisis Communication Tips for Public Relations Professionals,” crises are an inevitability for most organizations. Public relations professionals can fill the vital role of ensuring that healthcare organizations are prepared to respond and react with confidence. Experienced PR teams can help you retain awareness of developing trends, research regulatory advancements that may impact your brand and even notify you of negative reviews and the proper action to take.  

Public relations agencies can offer an alternative perspective during a crisis and support an organization by serving as a spokesperson or advisor. Of course, it is even more essential to be proactive and prepare crisis communication strategies ahead of time that address possible crises your brand may face. With the help of a public relations agency, you can rest easier knowing you have the tools in place to handle any situation and communicate effectively to the audiences that matter.

4. Enhance Business Growth

Through building a strong healthcare brand and spreading messaging and information that its audience demands, healthcare companies can attract new customers while maintaining positive relationships with existing and old customers. Public relations strategy can help you develop and own your story across every platform with consistency and authority.  Strengthening trust can enhance the brand, generate larger media coverage and increase demand, which will inevitably lead to larger revenue.

An experienced PR agency will be able to balance the sensitivity and appropriate protocol that will maintain your credibility in the healthcare sector with the storytelling that is essential to show your heart and commitment to serving the public.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can support your organization by developing an integrated strategic communications framework that supports your unique goals.

The Hoyt Organization

5 Crisis Communication Tips for Public Relations Professionals

It is often said that crises happen during the lifetime of every organization. For this reason, it is crucial for public relations professionals to be prepared to manage a crisis at a moment’s notice. Keep reading for five crisis communication tips for public relations professionals.

1. Assess Your Risk

In order to respond to a crisis quickly and effectively, public relations professionals should develop crisis communication strategies before a crisis occurs. Consider all possible crises your organization could face and develop messaging to be used in response.  This ensures that the crisis will be handled appropriately and the company’s reputation will remain intact. Develop a communication plan for each potential crisis.  This plan should be continuously updated so that it contains only the most relevant crisis communication information.

2. Decide on Communications Channels

Determine the channels that will best deliver your crisis messaging to your audience.  You can post on your corporate blog, on a press release, through social media or a combination.  Social media will require a dialogue with your audience whereas a press release or blog post will allow you to have more control around your message. 

3.  Respond Quickly

Having a crisis communication plan in place will allow public relations professionals to respond quickly.  If a company does not address the crisis in a reasonable amount of time, people will assume that the brand is either at fault or is not in control of its message.  Always provide truthful and consistent communications making sure to correct any false information.  Timely responses to the media will prevent the appearance of hiding something.  One principal that’s existed in PR for decades is that if you don’t tell your story, someone else will.  The ability to respond quickly and to put the crisis in context is only going to help an organization.  Stay calm and stick to the crisis communications script developed in Tip 1 and do not deviate from the plan. 

4. Put the Victims First

Not only should public relations professionals respond in a timely manner, but they should also acknowledge the pain, suffering and frustration of any victims. Even if the company did not cause the problem, it is still important that the company recognizes the people who were negatively impacted. However, if the company is at fault, it should take responsibility and apologize to those affected.

5. Be Transparent

When a crisis occurs, public relations professionals should be transparent. Under no circumstances should they engage in cover-up or deceit, as this type of bad behavior will always find its way to the headlines – eventually, further damaging the company’s reputation. For this reason, public relations professionals should always be upfront with the public.

We hope these tips help when dealing with a crisis! Let us know if there are any other strategies public relations professionals should use to effectively mitigate a crisis.

The Hoyt Organization

How the Pandemic is reshaping real estate communications: Don’t ‘zoom’ over your strategy

The other day a real estate broker told me he didn’t mind Zoom meetings at all. “You don’t have to stay for the whole meeting,” he explained.

That comment should give us all pause. When the pandemic struck, the knee-jerk reaction was to move meetings, presentations, pitches and all the daily communications of business online. But few have stopped to consider what might be lost in the process.

As McKinsey & Company cautioned in a white paper published in April, “commercial real estate must do more than merely adapt to coronavirus.”

To be sure, communicating remotely is now a business necessity, but the content of our messaging needs to change along with the methods and the media we are use. How do you structure a zoom call to get as much attention as the toddler sharing the home office?  What elements should your press release contain to tap into editorial preferences for Covid stories? How can you make your social media stand out?  

These are challenges every one of us is facing due to Covid-19, but perhaps even more so for the real estate industry which has traditionally relied on face-to-face interaction. As a real estate professional, you’re probably used to attending networking events and coming away with a half dozen leads. Today, your digital self is likely to be far less charismatic.

Those traditions are perhaps the reason many real estate companies are still playing catch-up with digital communications. A KPMG Global Prop Tech Survey found that only 29 percent of the companies surveyed have a digital strategy in place across their organization. Another 19 percent have no strategy at all.

But like it or not, engaging with clients, employees, tenants, business partners or the press digitally is essential in today’s environment, and crafting the right messaging will create an impression of your company and your brand that is likely to last long after the crisis.

The McKinsey authors note that, because owners and operators have an obligation to protect the health and safety of tenants above all else, more businesses may be adopting “company-level brand (rather than property-level brand)” communications.

The very nature of digital communications is driving other changes as well. The digital space doesn’t allow for the same adjustments easily made in face-to-face meetings. More than ever, your strategy should be grounded in an understanding of your brand and your market. You have to know when it’s okay to communicate as if it’s business as usual and when to acknowledge the uncertainties of the crisis. And if your messaging recognizes today’s challenges, that acknowledgement also has to make a connection with your brand that is authentic and meaningful.

Today we have to approach communications with the same caution. We have to keep a close eye on what reporters are responding to, and we have to craft press releases to tap into those elements as much as possible. We need to monitor social media to make sure its engaging.

 Connecting with your audience is key. Sometimes, it may mean you forego the sales pitch for now and focus on making your clients feel you are there to help. It may mean providing information, resources or tools. Or it may mean picking up the phone just to check in, because if ever there was a time to build relationships that time is now.

The Hoyt Organization

5 Tips For A PR Intern During COVID-19

Excited to begin my Summer internship, I looked forward to meeting and learning from PR savvy individuals, attending morning meetings in the office, getting settled at my desk and occasionally chatting with my colleagues by the water dispenser as seen on TV shows and movies. This perceived image came to a halt as COVID-19 continued to invade major cities and new cases surged. As a result, here are 5 tips that I have learned from my experience as an intern during a global pandemic.      

Stay Connected

Communication played an important role throughout my internship. Zoom calls helped keep everyone in the loop during our daily morning meetings. This was a great touchpoint to ensure that the essential tasks were still completed.

Without Zoom, we might not have seen each other at all. Emails and phone calls just don’t cut it. The app also served as a fundamental tool for training and asking questions since working in public relations requires you to learn new programs.

Staying connected and making an extra effort to communicate effectively made me feel less alone as I was reminded that I could count on support from everyone.

Stay Focused

Working from home can certainly be challenging. For instance, making sure I had zero distractions and a clear workspace played a factor in helping me maintain focus and enhance my productivity. Working virtually can provide a variety of extra challenges like internet problems or interruptions from roommates. I learned early on that I needed to set boundaries for myself to be successful.

First, I made sure that my workspace was as private as possible to minimize distractions. Then I worked on staying as organized as possible by setting up a daily planner. I started every day by laying out my priorities and noting the questions I needed to find answers for.

This dedication to planning out each day ultimately helped me keep my focus and stay on schedule. Maintaining a personal system of organization is essential for any industry. e.

Take a Break

This sounds like an easy concept but is more difficult to put into practice. As an intern trying to pave my way into the public relations industry and make a name for myself, I would always try to complete all of my tasks at once. I wanted to go above and beyond by offering my assistance to others and take on more and more responsibility. However, because I aimed to achieve everything at once, I sometimes ended up overwhelmed and burnt out.

I wanted to prove to myself and others that I could work independently and finish assignments immediately but by doing so I was neither being efficient nor effective. Of course, it is encouraged to have goals and ambition, but we have to set realistic expectations and give ourselves a break.

Ultimately, I learned that it is okay to step away from my laptop and take some time for myself. Sometimes a quick break from the screen to stretch or grab a glass of water will even bring you a fresh perspective on the issue you’re tackling.

Be Flexible and Confident

During my internship, I learned that I needed to not only use the job skills I already had, but also learn and adapt to working remotely. Knowing I did not have the luxury to learn from others in-person meant I had to refine my technical skills to work more independently. I ended up finding that in many cases I had the knowledge and capability to accomplish more than I thought.

As my experience went on, my problem-solving skills and knowledge of PR strategies became stronger and I felt more confident. In the end, I think it may have been a blessing in disguise because I proved to myself and my coworkers what I can do. Although any new internship or job experience can be intimidating, it’s important to lead with confidence. You were chosen for a reason and your education and past experience have prepared you to succeed.

Now I know that I can move forward with an additional set of specific skills that I otherwise wouldn’t have had. I had the unique experience of seeing firsthand the changes that clients and everyday people are being forced to make with the growing prevalence of remote jobs.

Stay Positive

This internship experience has ultimately taught me the importance of staying positive. When I think back, the saying “This Too Shall Pass” comes to mind, and it is especially relevant in a time like this. We are all doing what we can to continue on in every facet of life during the global pandemic.

I took comfort in the fact that remote work is a learning curve for many. Maybe sometimes we have technical problems with Zoom or there is a miscommunication by email, but coming to work prepared to learn and adapt is what is most important.

From the beginning of my professional journey, I underestimated myself because I was concerned about making sure I made the right impression and making sure I was completing tasks when asked. The truth is that a global pandemic throws what is normal out the window. Many days it takes a toll, but I knew that I was sharing this experience with my colleagues and professionals in every industry. COVID-19 may have changed my expectations, but it did not take away from my overall positive internship experience at The Hoyt Organization.

 

The Hoyt Organization

What does a PR firm do in the digital age?

By Lynn Erasmus – HWB Communications

Digital PR is simply the evolution of what has until now been known as “traditional” PR.

It’s the opportunity to step away from the credibility crises that traditional PR practitioners have had to face so often in the past with new-age tools and tactics that are customisable, effective and measurable.

To a certain extent one can expect a gradual absorption of digital methodologies and practices in any agency that has its roots firmly established in traditional PR practice. Many agencies take their first steps by adding on social media management to their traditional offering and promptly hire a sharp young social media manager to do the job.

Box ticked. Clients can now depend on you to include digital in their scope of work; right?

Wrong. For too long, many traditional PR agencies have considered digital as the “add on”. While social media can be considered the core of what in traditional terms would be “word of mouth” and a powerful source of online reputation, there’s much more to digital PR than a well-planned content calendar.

The strategic mistake is to continue with a primary focus on traditional simply because there are still so many opportunities to continue along familiar routines of media relations, events, conferences and broadcast.

Or rather – used to be. That was before the Covid-19 pandemic changed not just the PR practitioner’s landscape, but the full spectrum of communications, PR, sales and marketing that was used the world over to build brands and turn fans into paying customers.

Make no mistake, traditional PR still has an important role to fulfil.

But for those still in transition, the first step is to consider Digital PR an urgent and necessary strategic business imperative. Digital becomes the priority, traditional remains an essential, but secondary support.

The principles of PR strategy remain unchanged – what needs to be seized upon is the opportunity to exponentially expand the scope of what can be achieved for clients. Understanding the integration of “traditional” and “digital” methodologies to offer clients true assimilation of all tools and tactics to maximise their campaigns is the key to success.

Aside from social media, the arsenal of tools is endless from video, podcasts, guest articles, blogs, influencers – micro or otherwise – and the potential of key keywords to pack a digital PR punch.

Strategic digital expertise is essential to support a substantial digital practice, so invest in senior, experienced resources. The right professional can train and assess which existing team members have the potential to make the change – because not all of them will – and identify gaps where specialist expertise is required.

Increasingly, relationships are being forged online. Establishing meaningful connections require substance, integrity and transparency from brands. So essential expertise to integrate into clients’ strategy is the understanding of how digital content adds value to the traditional brand narrative.

And not all of it need be limited to the earned space. Consider how digital paid spend can amplify what clients own to give campaigns extra impetus.

In digital PR, the importance of SEO cannot be overestimated. The strategy to achieve good SEO rankings is a balancing act between meeting the ever-changing requirements of search engines and providing your audiences with original and relevant content at times and on channels that grab their attention and compels them to share.

Lastly, aggressively pursuing exclusively digital PR business is the key to progress. Adding on to traditional clients’ business with some digital services is a good starting point, but to futureproof your PR business, it is essential to be prepared for the time when there will be no distinction between traditional and digital.

This article was originally published on the Public Relations Global Network, here.

The Hoyt Organization

How COVID-19 Changed Communication in the Healthcare Industry

As the global pandemic continues to greatly affect major cities, many industries are rapidly trying to adapt. The healthcare industry is no exception, as it forced to make revisions to its daily protocols. With those unprecedented changes, public relations professionals are also expected to modify the way they communicate on social media.

Virtual Care

In order to comply with the mandatory stay-at-home order and respect social distancing regulations, the healthcare industry is prioritizing virtual care as a way to respond to the virus. Patients and caregivers no longer need to come in contact and can avoid the risk of infection, as appointments are now held virtually. This effort is aimed to slow down the spread of the coronavirus while still caring for patients’ wellbeing.

Telehealth

Since the introduction of virtual care, Telehealth has become an essential tool that continues to be in high demand. This tool allows the healthcare industry to communicate and engage with patients in an online platform through a simple video call. Patients can get prescription refills and have medication delivered to their door. COVID-19 poses a higher risk toward the elderly community, so this new tool is crucial for them to stay connected with providers.

Virtual Support

Through this transition from in-person doctor visits to telehealth visits, it is apparent that there is a growing demand for healthcare assistance online. Virtual support such as Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, and other platforms have become essential tools for professionals and everyday individuals alike. The healthcare industry has since taken the opportunity to use these virtual platforms to host numerous support groups and events to help individuals stay healthy and live a more positive lifestyle.

PR

Public relations professionals are weighing in on the unexpected changes disturbing the healthcare industry due to the ongoing battle with COVID-19. As the healthcare industry continues to adapt to offering patients virtual care though telehealth and additional virtual support, public relations professionals are also adapting to this sudden change. Focusing on the fundamentals is crucial right now, as it allows them to remain true to the client’s overall branding. In this case, public relations professionals are reexamining and, in some cases, pausing major campaigns or announcements as appropriate during the global pandemic.

Social Media

Social media has always been an outlet for open communication, but public relations professionals have expanded its capabilities as a way for patients to stay in the loop. The healthcare industry is striving to provide online classes for individuals to engage with and better their lifestyles. Public relations professionals are helping these healthcare providers to promote and attract new engagement on their social media channels to help improve health and prevent diseases.

Without a doubt, the pandemic has quickly changed the course on how the healthcare industry functions and how public relations professionals manage social media to create new opportunities for the industry.

The Hoyt Organization

Being Purpose Driven: The New Imperative to Reinventing Businesses Post COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly disrupted the marketplace and accelerated the move towards digitization, which is now embraced even by traditional “brick and mortar” industries.

Digital transformation is certainly the first imperative for businesses and brands to reimagine themselves for the new marketplace in this COVID-19 era. In fact, businesses, big or small (including mom and pop shops, and even street hawkers), are now transforming to embrace digital in one form or another, at a speed we have never seen before.

The second imperative would be health and safety. The health and safety agenda is now a key aspect of organisations, be it from a workplace or store-front perspective. The paradigm shift towards health and safety is now enterprise-wide and involves a much wider value chain than before. An example of this would be the growth of contact tracing apps, as well as the sale of contactless temperature gauges, medical grade rubber gloves, hand sanitizers, disinfectants, etc.

The Health & Safety imperative even calls for interior designers and even property developers to rethink and reimagine the workplace and store front – from contactless office automation to social-distanced office spaces and stores. Considering the health and safety aspect of workers and customers, the evolving trend of work from home, virtual meetings, and even corporate travel have certainly disrupted the way we think about communication and collaboration.

The third imperative, which may not be on the top of mind for most of us right now, is the purpose-driven imperative. This will be the game-changer to future-proof your organisation or brand, particularly as the impact of COVID-19 is expected to keep market conditions volatile in the short to mid-term. Within such an environment, people are looking for steady leadership and certainty. In this regard, most are still unaware or have yet to realise that profit with a purpose is set to sweep the marketplace at an accelerated pace post-COVID-19.

The disruption by COVID-19, the greatest global war since the Second World War, has awoken the marketplace. The global war against an invincible and invisible enemy has put governments and each and every one of us under tremendous pressure, hitting right at the hearts and minds of every person as we have no idea when and where it will strike.

Time to Purposefully Reform, Reinvent, Reimagine

Moving forward, consumers and stakeholders will certainly expect the marketplace to change or “reform”. There is no going back to “business as usual” prior to the pandemic. Certainly, there are already signs of increased demand for companies and brands to operate with a “soul”. A recent Investor’s Watch survey interviewing 3,750 wealthy investors across 15 countries by UBS revealed that three quarters of investors anticipate permanent lifestyle shifts, with two thirds saying the pandemic has altered how they think about their finances.

Interestingly, the survey showed, while millennial investors are most concerned about having to work longer to make up for losses, having enough money saved and losing their job in the current environment, they want to see their money make societal impact. The data also indicated that 69% are interested in sustainable investing and 60% in philanthropy due to COVID-19.

On top of that, governments are now reviving their respective economies through various stimulus packages by investing in long-term development plans for the country, including sustainable infrastructure and human capital upskilling post-COVID-19. Again, this reflects the commitment from many of us around the world to change for the better.

The disruption brought on by the COVID-19 crisis presents a new opportunity for brands and organisations to reinvent and capture the imagination of the new marketplace. Moving forward, being purpose-driven is set to be a core narrative for brands and organisations that are committed to “reform”, “reimagine” and “reinvent” themselves for the new market.

As such, organisations need to dive deeper into their purpose as an organisation or brand. The power of “why” will help organisations and brands recover from this crisis and reinvent for the future. The purpose-driven imperative, which must be sustainable in the long term, must fit the dreams of our people, while generating meaningful returns for our shareholders and – at the same time – must have a genuine and authentic commitment to our planet.

The COVID-19 crisis is indeed our greatest opportunity (and for some of us, perhaps the last chance) to reboot the way we do businesses. This may perhaps be a rude awakening but there cannot be a clearer signal to all of us to “reform” and “reimagine” our businesses. If we do not change right now, we will certainly be swept away by this disruption.

No doubts, if we put purpose right at the heart of what we do right now, supported by consistent and authentic actions, we are set to build a reputation that will help us win in the new post-COVID-19 market.

This article was originally published on the Public Relations Global Network, here.

THO

5 Tips for Improving a Business’s LinkedIn Page

A business’s LinkedIn page should serve as a marketing tool rather than a conventional “About Us” page. The key objective of a company page is to engage and interact with the audience while building brand awareness. Another key goal should be to retain current followers while building a strong follower count. 

Here are a few tips to enhance and maximize an individual’s LinkedIn company page to its fullest potential:

1. Use Visuals

It sounds straightforward, but visuals can determine the success of one’s company page. One of the first images visitors will see on an individual’s LinkedIn page is the banner image.

All posts should have eye-catching videos and lively photos. The use of videos can amplify your posts and attract a new following. For photos, it is best to use in-house photos instead of stock images as it provides a much more organic approach to the overall curated page. 

2. Engage with Short Posts

You have less than a couple of seconds to attract your followers to click on a post, so be sure to keep your updates short, simple, and straight to the point. The recommended characters are 150 or less. 

Utilize the word count to not only keep the posts from sounding dull but to keep them engaged. Ask stimulating questions and make updates personal by calling out to the audience. Always be sure to keep updates intriguing. 

3. Keep your Followers in the Loop

When uploading content, it is important to introduce the audience to articles written by others. This strategy helps provide a business’s feed with information that caters to the audience rather than a place for the company to talk about itself. So, remember to always link other articles and sources to the company’s posts to keep the intended audience engaged and interested.

4. Utilize Analytics Tool

As previously mentioned, a company page is meant to serve as a marketing tool so be sure to use the analytics tool provided to measure the success of one’s updates. However, make sure to use tracking links to further the page’s success.

By using this technique, it will allow an individual to see traffic from each update which can lead to new findings of inbound traffic. 

5. Limit the Use of Links

When added to a post, links can play a crucial role in attracting an audience. Posts with links tend to be more successful than those without, but be cautious when using links as it can easily be overdone. Be sure to use them sparingly so it will make the updates stand out. Stimulating posts featuring questions and personalized call-to-actions without links can also be engaging.

Key Takeaways

Always be mindful of utilizing a company page as a marketing tool and curate the page to fit the audience’s needs. Remember to maximize updates with thought-provoking content and an array of rich visuals. With these tips, have fun watching the follower count grow while exploring new opportunities to retain an individual’s or audience’s attention and loyalty.  

Conclusion

The Hoyt Organization is an industry leading thought leader in social media marketing and planning. We are located in the Los Angeles, California area, but serve clients nationally and internationally. No matter where you are, were are here to help you with any Public Relations related services you might need. Give us a call to discuss your PR questions.

The Hoyt Organization

It Takes More Than an Optimised Press Release to Hit the SEO Mark

By Lynn Erasmus – HWB Communications 

In today’s world, savvy PR pros need to be more than just good writers, they need to be knowledgeable about what constitutes optimised digital platforms and they must know how to manage the interaction between these platforms to maximise the chances of achieving the best possible SEO ranking.

Two of the critical factors underlying successful SEO are the same as that of a successful PR practitioner: credibility (building trust and relationships with stakeholders) and substance (delivering information that is credible and informative).

Search engines prioritise what is useful and substantial because their business model depends on presenting a relevant product offering to millions of consumers around the globe.

A search engine looks not only at the information (press releases tweets, blogs, video, audio) issued into the digital domain when it performs its ‘credibility checks’, it also reviews the issuer’s online profile and track record to determine where on the rankings they will land.

With a traditional media landscape shrinking by the day, PR practitioners need to look beyond the press release and redefine this core communication tool to view it as content that must be customised – as much as required – to meet the information needs of each channel and audience.

Keywords remain vital, so carefully considered head, body and long tail keywords can definitely put your content on the way to SEO success, but your platforms and in particular, social channels, will let you down if they are not properly optimised and up to date. They must be attractive, current and information on it must be highly shareable.

The presence of video, audio and visuals will contribute to the depth of the information you have to offer and it will improve the chances of audiences clicking through to your site or sharing your information with others.

The repurposed press release that is chopped and changed to suit a multitude of platforms is no longer good enough.

Practitioners should be spending more time in the realm of brand journalism to enable the creation of unique information pieces varying in tone, breadth and depth. If they do, those sometimes illusive keywords will spontaneously emerge without needing to be forced and mentions and backlinks are bound to follow.

The strategy to achieve good SEO rankings is a three-way balancing act between meeting the ever-changing requirements of search engines, ensuring that your platforms are optimised and providing your audiences with original, interesting and relevant content at times and on channels that grab their attention and compels them to share what they have learned.

This article was originally published on the Public Relations Global Network, here.

The Hoyt Organization

Female leadership and PR: What have they in common?

By Alessandra Malvermi – Sound Public Relations

The most recent research studies on leadership share the image of a future increasingly characterized by skills that have socially and historically belonged to the females. The old “command-economy” mentality by Henry Ford is now outdated and overtaken by the modern working organization, inspired by values such as active listening, empathy, sharing, delegation and inclusion. Organizations, economies and practically all relational systems are becoming increasingly complex and interconnected and require a new anti-fragile leadership style that does not merely withstand a shock but actually improves because of it, knows how to enhance diversity and draws from what exists in order to create better scenarios.

As a woman, entrepreneur and co-founder of Sound Public Relations, I take great interest in leadership issues and I believe public relations can play a leading role in spreading awareness for values and themes of gender diversity, as well as in inspiring and giving voice to generative leadership models.

In my role as co-founder and vice president of the Italian chapter of Global Women in PR – a global not-for-profit organization for women in senior positions in PR and communications – I am proud to have contributed to launching a training program that aims to stimulate the growth potential of female talent in the PR industry.

Here are some of the points that emerged from the masterclasses that I’ve had the pleasure of moderating.

Is female leadership different than male?

Several studies suggest that it is. Nevertheless, when investigating the relationship between gender and leadership styles, it becomes clear that both men and women can learn the behaviors, attributes and skills of the opposite sex. According to Gustav Jung, the psyche is a combination of complementary masculine and feminine principles (Anima and Animus). It is, therefore, a matter of enhancing one or the other of those principles as they seem more suitable to successfully manage the challenges organizations are facing while navigating through these uncertain times.

What are today’s biggest leadership challenges?

Today’s leaders are increasingly called upon to effectively guide so-called positive systems. Today’s companies are expected to have a systemic role in society and to know how to maintain co-evolutionary relationships not only with their peers in their industry sectors, but also with society as a whole. We are witnessing a transformation that, starting from technology, is impacting all systems – work, social relationships, family and environment. Leadership, too, is evolving and is turning increasingly inside-out. Today’s leaders must be willing to embark on a journey of discovery that goes beyond knowing how to do, and reaches knowing how to be, in order to fully and consciously express their potential and their uniqueness.

What is the main trait of a successful modern leader?

The evolution of leadership is increasingly linked to skills that have socially and historically belonged to women. Listening skills, understanding, delegation, empathy and inclusion should not be intended as traits intrinsic to individual identity, but rather as expressions more easily referable to the feminine sphere. The first fundamental characteristic shared by women in leadership positions is self-awareness. Knowing your values, needs and talents thoroughly – and knowing how to align them with your life and career goals – is in fact the essential trait of female leadership and of leadership of the future.

What is the link between female leadership and PR?

Public relations, by definition, aims at building bridges of understanding and dialogue. Empathic communication is the basis of any effective and generative relationship. Systems are the result of relationships. Between us and reality there is always a relational component. The skills of female leadership are therefore particularly functional in cultivating co-evolutionary relationships and in promoting the creation of a positive and fertile climate for the development of ideas, projects, solutions, capable of bringing authentic value to customers and projects. Self-awareness, a key element of female leadership, also allows us to understand how recognizing one’s own values, needs, talents and even vulnerabilities is essential to be able to enter into more authentic relationships with others.

Whether you are a man or a woman, having the courage to be yourself is a powerful catalyst triggering transformative and generative processes. And then by its very nature PR can interpret these processes better than other disciplines of communication.

This article was originally published on the Public Relations Global Network, here.

The Hoyt Organization

5 Coronavirus Self-Care Tips For A Public Relations Professional

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting everyone differently, sometimes adversely, and individuals in the public relations industry are not exempt from this. One area in particular where many are suffering is self-care. Whether it is working longer hours or spending days without seeing loved ones, the change at home and work can affect your overall health. Forty-five percent of adults in the United States reported to the Kaiser Family Foundation that their mental health has been suffering, as they have been worried and stressed due to the coronavirus. If your mental health has been negatively impacted by COVID-19, keep reading for the top five coronavirus self-care tips.

1. Stay active

Even though your gym may be closed, it is crucial to continue exercising on a regular basis. Not only is exercise important for your physical health, but it is also important for your mental health. According to the Help Guide, exercise can help lower feelings of stress and depression.

There are many ways to get your heart rate up. You could find an exercise video on YouTube or take a walk around the block. Getting some fresh air will improve your mood and help put things in perspective. Just make sure to wear your mask and abide by the six-foot rule!

2. Focus on what you can control

During this uncertain time, you may feel anxious that you are not in control. Things are constantly changing and you may be struggling to keep up. For this reason, it is important to focus on the things you can control. This will help you overcome anxious thoughts and be present in the moment.

3. Chat with friends and family

If you live by yourself and have started working remotely, you may be feeling isolated and alone. Even though you are advised not to see your family and friends in person, you can schedule a time to Facetime or Zoom each week. This will help you stay connected and maintain your relationships. It will also remind you that you have people in your corner.

4. Take a break from the news

Even though it is important to stay informed about COVID-19, you should limit your media intake. If you spend all day checking the news, you will likely experience psychological distress, which will have a negative impact on your mental health. Tell yourself that you will only check trusted news sources once or twice a day to stay up-to-date.

5. Learn something new

Instead of watching Netflix or looking at social media, try something new. There are many online resources and tutorials that can help you learn new skills. By learning how to play a new instrument or speak a new language, you will feel a sense of accomplishment. Click here for LA Times’ 50 how-to tips with links to free online tutorials.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to engage in self-care during this difficult time. No matter what you do, make sure to listen to your needs and lean on family and friends for support. Remember, we are all in this together. Let us know if any of these tips worked for you!

The Hoyt Organization

Real Estate Communications: Add Color to Concrete

By Uwe Schmidt – Industrie-Contact AG

PR for real estate projects should always be focused on ensuring that clients sell properties. Our clients sell luxury properties as second homes abroad. In addition to traditional PR tools, we have used numerous tactics in past years to further improve the results of our work and help the sales process. For the moment, some of these tactics cannot be deployed due to social distancing amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. However, these tactics form the backbone of effective real estate communications and they are best kept in mind for post-Covid-19. Our agency Industrie-Contact is located in Hamburg from where we can operate throughout Germany, plus Austria and the German-speaking part of Switzerland if need be.

Here are some examples of our tried and tested tactics:

1. Organize and escort individual & group press trips

We offer planning of individual press trips for journalists and specialized bloggers. This is a proven method to guarantee a large volume of high-quality coverage in leading nationwide media (newspapers, news sites, blogs and social media) as well as in the trade press.

2. Trade show PR

ITB Berlin is the world’s leading trade show for the international tourism and second-home industry. Therefore, we participate at the ITB Berlin, highlighting our clients’ locations as top destinations for tourism and second homes. Exclusive press briefings and media events, as well as press conferences, secure a lot of touchpoints for the client.

3. Brokers events/tours

In addition, we organize broker events in Hamburg or any other city in Germany. We assess the broker landscape exactly according to our clients’ needs. For example, we book the Business Club Hamburg and arrange meetings for our clients with potential brokers. Afterwards we assess which brokers are likely to be a good fit. After the decision the client continues with a deeper in-depth introduction to the broker to make him or her 100% convinced and a true ambassador of the project.

We do the same in the German-speaking countries Austria and Switzerland. But in these countries, it makes sense to visit brokers one-on-one as they are spread around in the countries – sometimes also in smaller towns with high density of high net-worth individuals.

4. Brand collaborations

We often choose to collaborate with luxury brands. In such programs, these luxury brands host events at our clients’ properties. By doing so, the property will be featured in the brand’s catalogue as well as on its advertising images. The image of the selected luxury brand will swap over to the client’s image, thus it will be perceived as a luxurious hotspot worth visiting and investing in. By increasing media presence of the client, we aim to create images of high quality and increase awareness among a high-income target group. Trust and credibility are key!

5. Engagement Marketing

Using engagement marketing tactics creates direct touchpoints with clients. Destination branding events at the client’s resort such as MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions), sports events and tournaments aim to reach face-to-face contact to potential buyers, journalists, bloggers and influencers. Engagement marketing supports the activation of target groups by turning the audience into participants.

6. Chances during Covid-19 Pandemic

Tourism and the second-home industry have been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. Although travel restrictions are about to be withdrawn, the future of many companies directly or indirectly involved in tourism is still uncertain. Therefore, we also recommend other tactics that do not require travel. For example, webinars and virtual tours are a good way to introduce fascinating properties to journalists and bloggers and grab their attention.

During these uncertain times, PR is more important than ever. PR generates trust and sales. Second-home resorts will very likely benefit from the pandemic at the end, as investors understand that a second home can also be a safe haven in crisis times. Thus, it is money well invested.

This article was originally published on the Public Relations Global Network, here.

The Hoyt Organization

Public Relations Global Network Elects Robert Bauer as President

Global communications group elects new officers during first virtual bi-annual meeting

As the Los Angeles area partner agency, The Hoyt Organization is pleased to announce the slate of new Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) officers for one of the world’s five largest networks of independent PR and communications agencies. The appointments were announced during PRGN’s recent bi-annual Spring meeting, held virtually for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the online video meeting – which replaced an in-person conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA – members elected Robert Bauer, managing partner of accelent communications of Vienna, Austria as PRGN’s 29th president. Bauer will lead the worldwide network of 51 independently owned firms for the next 12 months.

Former president Aaron Blank, CEO and president of Seattle-based The Fearey Group, assumes the duties of immediate past president and chair of the Advisory Board.

“I look forward to the challenges of the year ahead. Our proven ability to collaborate and exchange knowledge globally sets our tight network of 51 PRGN owner-operated member agencies from around the globe apart – especially in this new environment,” said President Bauer. “Our strong personal relationships built over the years within the network make us
more competitive and effective for clients than ever, especially as we extend and enhance these relationships by embracing new virtual forms of cooperation and communication. I am committed to prove our resilience, and I will work to preserve and grow the special spirit and values that PRGN can offer to its members and their clients on all continents.”
Other PRGN officers elected include:

• President-elect
Alexandra Dinita
General Manager
Free Communication
Bucharest, Romania

• Secretary
Andy See Teong Leng
Principal Partner and Managing Director
Perspective Strategies
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Founded in 1992 by a group of visionary public relations leaders, with approximately 1,000 professionals in 53 locations, PRGN is one of the world’s largest international public relations networks.

PRGN partners are independent, local, owner-operated public relations and marketing communications firms that share expertise and resources, while providing broad-based comprehensive communications strategies to clients
worldwide.

Companies or organizations interested in the services of PRGN’s local agency network can visit www.prgn.com or contact PRGN’s executive director Gábor Jelinek at gabor.jelinek@prgn.com for information.

Independent agencies interested in joining the network can visit the member recruitment section of the PRGN website for more information or email its membership chair, David Wills, Senior Vice President of Media Profile at david.wills@mediaprofile.com.

About Public Relations Global Network (PRGN)
Clients across six continents depend on the combined resources of the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) to deliver targeted public relations campaigns in markets around the world. PRGN is one of the world’s largest international public relations networks measured by revenue. PRGN harnesses the resources of 51 independent public relations firms in 53 locations and more than 1,000 communications professionals to connect international companies and organizations with individual and culturally diverse markets globally. Visit PRGN online at www.prgn.com or on Twitter at @PRGN.

The Hoyt Organization

The Five Pillars of Online Reputation Management

By Toomas Kull – Cabinet Privé de Conseils, S.A.

Managing reputation for a brand or a company at the turn of this decade has been challenging for a variety of reasons:

First: Everything has become faster and global, from news to information exchange, movements, trends and issues. Many of the recent grassroots movements and major issues, such as Brexit, #MeToo and Extinction Rebellion, have been facilitated by today’s connected technologies and platforms, often catching organizations and institutions off guard. And the new generations, from Gen-Z today to Gen Alpha at the end of this decade, expect constant online interaction and engagement, not just one-way messages.

Second: There are growing expectations of transparency from politicians and governments, customers and consumers, civil society and the public, all amplified by traditional and social media. Transparency can also be thrust upon organizations as a result of data breaches, whistle-blower complaints, and employee activism, all facilitated due to the digitalization of assets and communications. The rise of misinformation and disinformation also force organizations and individuals to communicate publicly.

Third: There is a general decline in trust. Organizations and institutions used to be trusted and were taken at their word in times of crisis. To date governments, businesses, NGOs and media have become distrusted globally. The general public is sensing increasing inequity and unfairness overall.

And now we are faced with Covid-19. Many sectors have shifted their activities and communication online. Half of humanity has been in some form of confinement and started spending much more time online than ever before.

The online reputation of any brand, company or organization has become more important than ever. Here are the five fundamental principles for building and managing reputation online:

  1. Be transparent and authentic

Transparency and honesty apply to all aspects of online communication including the messaging, the messenger and the medium. The truth will always come out online. Authenticity is something that the public craves, and it is what can truly build a reputation. This requires consistent and long-term communication that is backed up by action. It’s not something that can be achieved with a single campaign.

During the recent protests against racial inequality and injustice, we saw a number of organizations criticized for appearing to jump on the bandwagon of #BlackLivesMatter. They faced a backlash because their messaging felt hollow and disingenuous, and because it did not match their real-life actions (e.g. diversity in their leadership team).

  1. Be coherent and relevant

What you communicate online should reflect your brand, products or services, or your profession and personality.

As with any good story, campaign or statement, you need to understand what matters to your audiences. To do this, you need to listen. Ensure that you have the right social listening tools in place to effectively monitor and follow conversations online.

Think of ways to adapt or tailor your content to what is topical right now. Sticking to routine messaging while the situation on the ground is changing can make you seem tone-deaf and inconsiderate.

For example, when a leading Lebanese university tweeted an article extolling the virtues of coming to Lebanon to study and live, it received a barrage of sarcastic replies in return. At this point in time, the country was mired in a deep financial crisis.

  1. Continue to build relationships

Reputation is not something you own: it is something that is bestowed upon you by others. There is a person behind every digital presence. Creating and building relationships with other people is therefore key, both online and offline. Remember, your reputation in the real-world will follow you online.

In the digital domain you can connect and interact with almost anyone, so take the time to understand which audiences are relevant to you and map out your stakeholders.

  1. Be visible and timely 

You need to be seen and heard to build a reputation and a follower base. Not only should you plan ahead for what you will announce and communicate, you also need to react quickly to new conversations while staying true to your brand, tone and messaging.

The challenge is that conversations and issues evolve rapidly online, just like today’s 24/7 news cycle. If a problem is not addressed quickly, within hours you can find yourself overwhelmed with a flurry of voices across social, digital and traditional media. In the worst-case scenario, your key stakeholders will have responded and taken action before you have.

Companies and leaders are increasingly expected to take a public stance on issues important to the public, and this pressure can come from within and outside the organization.

In the case of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and protests, some companies that initially did not feel good about making public statements were eventually forced to do so by their employees.

  1. Prepare to manage challenging issues

At some point you will be faced with a difficult issue that needs to be addressed or come under scrutiny and criticism for your actions. How you respond and communicate in these situations can define whether you keep and build your reputation or lose it altogether.

Crisis preparedness must extend not only to online crisis communications, but also to thinking about the reputational threats that can emerge online.

Think through different scenarios. While most organizations probably did not have a crippling global pandemic on their crisis scenarios list, they should have considered extended business continuity issues and the ways in which they would adapt, respond and communicate with their various stakeholders using digital and social media channels. Unfortunately, we saw many companies scrambling to figure out their communication with internal and external audiences.

Lastly, once you have your crisis communications team, processes and plans in place, make sure you test them with a crisis exercise to determine how you are likely to fare.

While there are some best-practice principles to follow, managing online reputation feels more like an art than science.

What other recommendations would you give?

This article was originally published on the Public Relations Global Network, here.

THO

How to Be a Thought Leader in the Healthcare Space

During this pandemic, many professionals have stood out as thought leaders in the healthcare space to provide insight into the coronavirus. The entire world is looking for answers to the coronavirus and reporters are leaning toward doctors, researchers, and COVID-19 test suppliers for an explanation. Whether thought leaders focus on COVID-19 antibody tests or a new vaccine, their platform can help everyone through this difficult time. Below are some key tips for becoming a thought leader in the healthcare space.

Advocate for Something You Care About

To be a thought leader, you need to focus on a topic you know and understand. Thought leaders know the ins and outs of a particular topic and have a good foundation of research to support their claims. Stating facts while acknowledging your professional experience will help sustain your credibility.

Healthcare continuously evolves as professionals test new ideas and produce unique results. If you want to highlight your work and reach a larger audience, you can establish your brand by publishing a blog, book or podcast.

Be Creative and Publish

To stand out as a thought leader in the healthcare space, consider publishing a book, blog, or podcast about your topic of interest. Starting a blog is free when you use a website design platform like Wix or WordPress. You should make your blog posts about 1,600 words and keep your blog up-to-date by adding new content frequently. Writing a book is another option, and there are a variety of ways to publish in today’s digital age. Consider self-publishing an eBook or paperback using Kindle Direct Publishing. The program allows your book to be on Kindle stores worldwide within 24 to 48 hours.

Podcasts are an alternative to writing. Your audience can listen to your point-of-view on any digital device on a consistent basis. Spotify, Apple, and Google are websites that allow you to post your podcast online. Research shows that 80 percent of podcast listeners keep listening to a podcast after the first week. A successful podcast has a new episode at least once a week. It is also important to encourage listeners to subscribe to your show at the beginning or end of each episode. A microphone, microphone stand, and headphones are useful tools to produce quality audio recordings. Use Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to promote your work as well.

Stay Active on Social Media

Building your credibility is easy with a solid LinkedIn page. This social media platform helps you stay connected with colleagues and companies in your industry. You can highlight your professional experience by sharing your resume, work skills, and accomplishments. You can also promote your blog, book, or podcast on this platform while targeting health professionals with relevant hashtags. For instance, the hashtag #health has over two million LinkedIn followers. Include hashtags within your social media posts to reach individuals and companies that are interested in the topic. Although LinkedIn is a good source to build your professional network, Twitter and Facebook are platforms that can keep you connected with friends and supporters. Consider creating accounts on all three social media sites.

Turn to Other Experts to Get Your Message Out

Many people hire experts such as a healthcare public relations firms to reach their target audience. Public relations professionals can help you create and maintain your social media pages, connect you with reporters in the industry, develop your website, and implement a newsletter campaign. Find a public relations company, like The Hoyt Organization, that specializes in the healthcare industry, as they already have relationships with health reporters.

There are many ways to become a thought leader in the healthcare industry, but you have to identify which strategy works best for you.

The Hoyt Organization

What COVID-19 Taught Us About Communications

COVID-19 has been one of the longest news cycles we’ve experienced in recent times. An unprecedented event in our nation’s history, it is the driving force behind almost every communications and public relations campaign currently underway. Why? It’s changing everything. From where we work, to how we shop and of course, how we communicate. As a result, for those of us in public relations, our world has shifted dramatically. And it may never be the same. Here’s what COVID-19 taught us about communications.

1. The pandemic has shifted what people value.

Sweats have replaced business suits. With the stay at home order, no one is commuting. While the new normal is sure to be a blend of where we are now, and where we were, there will be a balance of what people truly want to see. That will impact how every company is perceived. Be ready. You’ll need to shift and adapt your message.

2. It isn’t about the experience anymore.

Events, conferences and networking events were all created to provide an experience. Now, with everything being moved to an on-line forum, these experiences have become one dimensional. Make sure that if your brand wants to host an event that its organized to provide value. It must be engaging and short – no one will sit on a zoom call for 8 hours a day.

3. Video chats and Skype calls are now not only expected, they are the norm.

In order to make these effective for your team, make sure they are trained in how to present on this type of platform, including lighting, dress and backgrounds.

4. We are having more intentional conversations.

Because we’re all at home, our conversations tend to be one-on-one, with very little office interruption and background clutter. The result? We are having more intentional conversations, which are much more beneficial.

5. Companies need to make sure they are owning their own narrative. 

It’s easy to get lost in the COVID-19 onslaught and lose sight of your brand. Many may actually pause, thinking this isn’t the time to launch a major new project or initiative. While that may be true, it isn’t good to go totally dormant. Shift the strategy, move into another channel and keep the company present. That way, when you do get ready to do the launch, it won’t be starting from ground zero.

There is no question that COVID-19 has changed how we communicate. As our country begins to move forward, some things will be changed forever, while others will, over time, fall by the wayside. Remember, though, this too shall pass.

THO has created a COVID-19 resource page for those who would like more information on how to move forward.

The Hoyt Organization

Expand Your Monitoring, and Brand, With Social Listening Tools

This post is courtesy of Bob Brady at Xenophon Strategies, Inc. one of our Public Relations Global Network partners.

Possibly right now, more than ever, social listening is an important aspect of your brand and reputation, and even your clients’ brand and reputation.

As the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns still continue to affect our day-to-day lives, businesses, nonprofits, schools, shopping, entertainment habits and more, people are turning online to engage with one another and discuss the happenings of the world.

As a result, the coronavirus is even changing how we view and discuss brands as some of our favorite stores and restaurants are closed, and we rely more and more on the service of grocery store workers who have become essential in our ability to manage the pandemic.

Just thinking about the possibility of monitoring thousands or hundreds of thousands of discussions during these unique times, may make you wish you had more eyes and more time to manage the load, but that’s where social listening can play a major, and helpful, role.

Utilizing social listening tools for various social media channels will not only save you time, it will also give you key insights and a greater understanding into how people view your brand and the overall health of your brand that goes far beyond traditional monitoring.

More than that, social listening can provide you with quantitative and qualitative data that highlights potential opportunities to increase your communications, expand your target audience, gain new followers, support your customers, identify areas of weakness or potential issues, and more.

For example, social listening can help you track key words that customers use when posting about your company on virtually every online platform – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Tik Tok, blogs, discussion boards or any other form of online content. Those key words can be your brand’s name, or any words that are associated with your brand.

Based on the results, you can start incorporating those key words into your own communications outreach – social media posts, blogs, press releases and more – to help increase readership and engagement, or even successes in pitching media.

Going a little further, social listening can also help you identify top influencers who could be key partners with your organization in the future. Finding these individuals can be accomplished in a matter of moments with a social listening tool, but developing a partnership with them could be influential to your brand long-term.

Through social listening, you can also identify potential issues, or even crises, that may exist around your brand or your industry. Through the use of a listening tool, one can hone in on negative discussions or perceptions of your brand, and this can give you greater clarity on areas in which your brand is susceptible to damage. Knowing these potential risks can help you develop a plan to prevent, minimize, or manage currently unknown and potential crises.

Of course, there is still work involved when implementing and using a social listening platform – it won’t do everything and anything for you, but it will help you cut down the amount of time that is currently required through the traditional monitoring approach.

Depending on your own needs, there is a variety of social listening tools out there. Each one provides their own benefits, but a few recommended ones that could help shape the future of your outreach include Sprout SocialHootsuiteKeyholeHubspot and Mention.

The Hoyt Organization

What if we turned the Covid-attitude into sustainable corporate behavior?

This post is courtesy of Stéphane Billiet at WE Agency, one of our Public Relations Global Network partners.

Companies and brands have never behaved as well as they are right now. For the past few weeks, we’ve seen a level of compassion and caring from brands that is “Hall of Fame” worthy.

While this avalanche of good deeds and good intentions might be viewed as excessive by some, I’ve been impressed by the genuine way which brands have communicated during Covid-19.

Usually deemed as opportunistic, and even cynical, corporate communication has managed to avoid the pitfall of societal exploitation. In fact, the media and social networks are full of relevant initiatives. These actions are not only useful and generous, but they also legitimize the ever-so-challenged concepts of corporate purpose, social utility and CSR commitments. The total crisis induced by Covid-19 exacerbates the quest for meaning. It also reveals the desire to speak up and share, as well as the thirst for social connection. Ironically, social distancing has promoted proximity, and not in a false or disingenuous way. Rather, it has served as a litmus test between companies and their audiences which extends beyond marketing.

When the market and society reconcile around a social consensus

The urgency makes it possible to unite the market and society around a credible social consensus. This crisis, due to its unprecedented nature, gives companies and brands the opportunity to truly reveal the best of themselves. This is good news as corporate reputation is built on facts. The question is, how will this corporate behavior that restores communication credentials can be sustainably maintained? The crisis, no matter how strong, is a paroxysmal moment. This one will leave permanent marks for sure, but what will happen, once the shock has passed?

The word has replaced the message

Many bet on a pre- and a post-Covid. However, it is more likely to be “with”. So, in our new normal, will communicators be able to continue with this genuine and compassionate communication rather than returning to its old demons: self-centeredness, boasting and shamelessness?

This crisis has seen many brands return to the primary purpose of communications: educate, unite and mobilize. It works even better as the crisis has changed the posture, modifying the conditions of expression and admissibility of speeches. Businesses and brands will certainly not save the world but they can give a hand where needed. It works because they are responsible without boasting too much, show solidarity with humility, and contribute to a common project. The word has replaced the message.

We are all neighbors in the global village

By confronting society with its fragilities, the pandemic reminds us that we are all neighbors in the global village. For better or worse. The best, from companies and brands, is the solidarity they show towards their neighbors, whether local, regional or global. For example Royal Canin France, located near Montpellier, helps the Local Health Agency in Occitanie and the Nîmes Hospital, Coca Cola France is demonstrating responsibility by helping bars and restaurants get through the crisis by supporting the initiative #JaimeMonBistrot (#ILoveMyBistrot) which consists of keeping establishments’ cash flow by pre-ordering drinks. Endeavors make neighbors. These surges of generosity can only last for so long. Still, basing communication on good-neighborly relations is not only possible but also profitable. Covid-19 prevents large gatherings, of course, but relational communication formats have a future, whether physical or digital: tutorials online, pop-up stores in town, open doors at the factory, informal meetings with its community in real life… When the donation of masks is no longer necessary, it is the gift of an authentic relationship that companies and brands must continue to offer.

Ecosystemic neighborhood

If communication is about creating the conditions of fruitful and long-lasting relationships and, ultimately, obtaining social acceptability, then, for a company or a brand, it comes down to being a good neighbor: close, yet not intrusive, thoughtful yet not indiscreet, helpful yet not pushy. Proximity is not promiscuity: good neighborly relations require good manners!

Neighborhood is not only geographic, it is also ecosystemic. It is now an established fact that we live in a vulnerable world where everyone – every stakeholder – must take care of each other at the risk of causing devastating disasters. Good relations between neighbors imply that all stakeholders act in the interest of the common destiny to which they all belong. Now that the concept of “community” is the way to craft more and more relational communication strategies, one shall bring the concepts of neighborhood and corporate sociability into the communicators’ vocabulary.

Neighborhood is not only ethics (who would trust a dishonest neighbor?), but also a meaningful social dynamic, a reassuring, stimulating and even joyful co-existence… as long as the neighbor has a good sense of humor and a taste for entertainment! In this global pandemic, companies and brands were able to adopt the right attitude because they behaved like good neighbors. Let’s hope it lasts!

The Hoyt Organization

Great Ways to Volunteer During the Global Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has influenced everyone, but its impact is greater for some more than others. If you are wishing you could help those in need while still observing social distancing, then look no further. Here are some ideas on how to volunteer and make a difference during this crazy time. 

1. Make Sack Lunches to Deliver to Your Local Homeless Shelter

Next time you go grocery shopping (which is now about once a week), grab some extra supplies to make sack lunches for homeless people in need. One batch is 10 lunches that you can then drop off at a contactless location. Your local shelter will guide you on what is expected in the lunches, but typically it consists of a homemade sandwich with protein, an energy bar, fresh fruit (such as banana, apple or orange) and a sweet treat. It’s also important to include a bottle of water and a napkin. Since it’s a community based program you can check in with your local shelter for all of the details specific to your town.

2. Sew Masks

Since face coverings are now a requirement in stores many people are in need of masks. Hospitals also need additional masks for medical professionals and patients. If you have a sewing machine then this is a great way to volunteer in your community. You can order some fun fabrics online and use HEPA filters from the hardware store. Here is a link to an easy pattern and instructions: https://sarahmaker.com/how-to-sew-a-surgical-face-mask-for-hospitals-free-pattern/

And here are some fun masks we have seen for inspiration: 

3. Connect with the Elderly

There are a few different programs where you can reach out to elderly people who may be isolated during the pandemic and are suffering from loneliness. The first program allows you to make a phone callto your designated “pal” every morning to check in on them and share some friendly conversation. The second program allows you and your kids to write letters and create drawings to be given to elderly people and nursing homes. Both of these programs will make a difference and help you to volunteer from your own home! 

For more information about the phone call program click here

For more information about the letters program click here

4. Read to Kids

Vello, along with other programs, allows you to read a book with a kid over video chat. You will be helping them with their reading skills as well as providing a great pastime for both you and the child. Distance learning is a great resource for kids who need a little extra help with their reading. 

For more information click here

5. Help Record Audiobooks

Learning Ally helps to create audiobooks for people who are blind. You can volunteer to be the voice of some recordings to expand the library and help bring more access to books. During the coronavirus pandemic one of the top pastimes is reading. This program allows blind people to experience great books as well. 

For more information click here

6. Donate Items

One trendy pastime while staying at home has been organizing drawers, closets and garages. If you decide to do a clean sweep of your stuff you should consider donating unwanted items to your local thrift store or Salvation Army. Some drop-off locations currently have limited hours, but most cities have at least one drop-off point even during the pandemic. This is an easy way to give to others while giving to yourself as well. Organization and clean slate will give you peace of mind on top of knowing that your donations are making a difference. 

THO

Social Media Marketing is a Game Changer – and here’s why

The rise of social media marketing has been a game changer in a number of ways, for businesses both large-scale and small. Marketing and advertising are nothing new. Before the internet’s banner ads and pop-ups, there were still billboards. There were still magazine ads, infomercials and flyers. 

Social media becoming a daily staple for social connection, personal networking and building brands has brought forth the opportunity for marketing. Now, we are able to target ads in a way that was never before possible. 

Social media marketing has changed targeting.

Previously, you had to try to find out what magazines your target audience would read, or what areas they lived in. Now, with social media marketing as an option, we are able to meet our clients where they are at. Whether it’s a teenager who has shown interest in sporting equipment or an adult trying to buy a new couch, we are able to target down to interests, age, location, gender, marital status and more. Because Facebook has more than 220 million United States based users, and 2.3 billion users daily, we don’t necessarily have to spend time figuring out where they spend their time. Now we have the ability to describe our ideal target audience, and have the ad shown to thousands of those exact individuals. 

Knowing your audience has become more detailed.

Targeting a specific audience has become more than an age group. You don’t just need to know that adult men, or teen girls are more likely to buy your specific product. Targeting on social media can get so specific that truly targeting your audience will get you the results you want. When we are targeting a specific audience, we don’t just include their age and gender. We include whether or not these people have been married. We can target income levels, and even interests. For example, if you are a salon, you’re more likely to see a successful ROI when you’re targeting individuals who have already include topics like hair care, hair masks, fashion, or skin care. These individuals already have shown that they take interest in personal care. It’s essential to not ensure that you’re targeting individuals that your product could be for, but targeting those that will actually interact with the brand, comment, or make a purchase. 

Graphics have to be more attention-grabbing. 

The downfall of social media marketing is that so many ads are being placed in front of the consumer. It is averaged that every four “posts” on Facebook or Instagram (owned by Facebook) is actually sponsored or an ad. It is essential to not only target the right group, but to have graphics that are going to catch the attention of a consumer who has already seen, and not clicked on, many ads that day. Standing out is an essential part of the process – in other words, if your target audience sees your ad but doesn’t stop to really look at it, or read it, the ad wasn’t that effective in the first place. This fusion of quality graphic design, attention grabbing copywriting and the correct targeting is the recipe for a successful campaign. 

Overall, social media has changed the advertising and marketing game. It has created more options, and the ability to connect with the consumer on an even deeper level. 

THO

Cocktails to Drink During COVID-19

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most people are working from home. This means that they are their own bartenders in charge of making their own cocktails at the end of the day. We pulled together some of our favorite recipes for refreshing cocktails and hope they give you some inspiration and make your day a little more fun.

The Sunshine Seeker

This refreshingly tart cocktail is the perfect way to fill up on Vitamin C, especially since we all need extra immunity right now. It can also be made into a mocktail (just leave out the vodka!)

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 ounces of vodka (or more based on your preference)
  • Half of a lime, fresh squeezed
  • One orange or grapefruit, fresh squeezed
  • Sparkling water, about 1/2 cup
  • Tajin or salt

Use the lime to slightly wet the rim and dunk the glass in either Tajin seasoning or salt. (Remember to do this step first because it’s much harder to do at the end!) Then pour one shot of vodka into the glass. Next add the juice of 1/2 lime. Cut the orange or grapefruit in half and use a citrus juicer or fork to get the fresh juice from both halves. You can use a strainer when pouring the citrus juice into the cup if you want to make it with less pulp. Finally, fill the rest of the glass up with sparkling water, usually about 1/4 -1/2 cup. Then stir and enjoy!

Aperol Spritz

This is a classic drink that makes for a great sunset beverage. Grab an Aperol spritz and head out on your patio, balcony, or front yard. This drink is on the sweeter side so it pairs nicely with salty snacks like mixed nuts, potato chips or popcorn.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 ounces Aperol
  • 3 ounces prosecco or champagne (or more!)
  • Ice
  • Splash sparking water

While we give you specific amounts above, the Aperol spritz is all about personalization. Start by filling your wine halfway or more with ice. Then depending on how much you enjoy Aperol add 1.5 ounces (one shot glass) or more to the glass. Next you add about 1/2- 3/4 cup of the prosecco or champagne. Prosecco is more traditional and tends to be on the sweeter side, while champagne makes the drink less sweet and more dry. It also depends on how large your glass is. Finally top it off with a splash of sparking water and stir. You can garnish with an orange slice if you’d like.

Masked Margarita

Margaritas are perfect for Taco Tuesday, but during the “Stay at Home” ordinance everyday is Tuesday since they all feel the same! This is our twist on a classic margarita.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 ounces tequila
  • 1 lime, fresh squeezed
  • 1/2 tablespoon agave syrup
  • Slice of watermelon
  • Small jalapeño
  • Ice
  • Salt or Tajin for rim

Start by rimming the glass with salt or Tajin using lime juice to make it stick. Then add a few cubes of ice. Next pour in one shot of tequila and the juice of one lime, freshly squeezed. Mix it together with 1/2 tablespoon of agave syrup, or more if you like it sweet. Then cut up one slice of watermelon and a couple of slices of a small jalapeño. Mix well and enjoy. This can be made in a shaker and then transferred to the prepped glass.

Classic Quarantini

This cocktail has been all the rage since Coronavirus started to impact us all. While this drink started out as more of a joke, it is actually quite tasty. Let us know what you think!

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces vodka or gin
  • 2 ounces lemon juice
  • 1 packet of Emergen-C
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Ice

There are two ways to make this drink. You can either use the Emergen-C to rim your drink or you can add it instead of the lemon juice. Start by filling a cocktail shaker with ice, then add in the 3 ounces of vodka or gin. Next you either add 2 ounces of lemon juice or 1 packet of Emergen-C. If you choose to use the Emergen-C in your drink, you can substitute 2 ounces of water instead of 2 tablespoons. Finally, microwave the honey with a splash of water for a few seconds to make it more easily mixed. Then shake the concoction and pour into a chilled martini glass (with Emergen-C on the rim if you didn’t use it in the drink itself.)

Let us know if you enjoyed these cocktails or have any other cocktails you’d like to share!

THO

Team Bonding While Working Remotely

Working from home during this pandemic has been an interesting adjustment for all of the people who usually report to an office everyday. At first, it’s about finding your groove and space at home to be productive, but eventually you realize that another aspect is hard to get used to: not seeing your coworkers. We usually spend more time in the presence of our work associates than we do with our families. So when asked to work from home, it’s an interesting shift for any team to stay connected and working like a well oiled machine. Here are THO’s tips for team bonding while working remotely: 

Happy Hour 

Once a week, host a zoom call with your team to catch up and chat about anything besides spreadsheets and deadlines. It’s a great way to kick off the weekend and celebrate with the cohort that helped you achieve goals all week. Whether everyone joins the call with a cocktail or mocktail in hand, it’s a great time to connect outside of work calls. If you want to take it up a notch, host a game during this happy hour through jackbox.tv. You simply have the host screen share so everyone on zoom can see the game, and then each player joins using their phone (and a room code). Some of our favorite games are Fibbage, Drawful 2, and Quiplash

Gratitude Exercises

This can be a scary and stressful time for everyone, so it’s important to focus on some positive aspects of life too. We recommend doing gratitude exercises with the whole team to help people bond as well as relieve some stress. One idea is to do a round robin during a morning call where everyone says one thing they are thankful for that day. Another idea is to make it into a game, where one person collects all of the gratitude notes (digitally of course) and then on a call together you read them out anonymously. Then the team can either guess who said what, or you can leave it anonymous. 

Secret Helper 

Ok so this is similar to secret Santa, except of course it isn’t related to the holidays. During this pandemic, getting mail is one of the most exciting things that can happen in the course of a day. So why not spread that excitement with your team? Set a limit on how much people can spend (I would suggest about $20). Then assign each person randomly to be a “secret helper.” The idea here is that you are helping a team member out. That could mean sending them toilet paper and hand sanitizer, a puzzle to help with the boredom, or even some baking ingredients. This will be a fun show and tell when everyone receives their gift in the mail and then you can guess who sent it to you. 

Virtual Lunch 

One way to support local restaurants is by ordering takeout. We suggest that every once in a while each team member orders lunch from a favorite local restaurant in their neighborhood. Then you can all hop on a video chat to eat together and share about your food or day. If you do this regularly, your team will be able to help all kinds of restaurants in the area. If you want to mix this idea with our happy hour idea, try ordering desserts instead! 

Staying connected with your team takes more work now that many people are remote, but it doesn’t mean that it can’t be fun. All you need is a little creativity! Let us know your favorite way to engage in team bonding while working remotely.

THO

Media Monday: Los Angeles Times Real Estate Editor Roger Vincent

When asked how he got into journalism, Roger Vincent replied “I had a great professor who pressed me – and I didn’t know plumbing. He said, ‘You’re not going to make a living with a typewriter unless you get serious.’ So, I did.” Today, more than 25+ years later, he covers commercial real estate for the Business section of the Los Angeles Times and is one of the most respected journalists in the country. 

Born and raised in Sacramento, shortly after graduating from college, he decided to head to Los Angeles where he landed a job at the Los Angeles Business Journal as the first real estate columnist they ever had. He then became the founding editor of the California Real Estate Journal, and in 1996 he joined The Los Angeles Times. The Hoyt Organization (THO) caught up with Roger and asked him to share some insights on how the industry has changed. 

THO: How has the industry changed since you started your career? 

Roger Vincent: I’ve been in journalism since the ‘70s so the biggest change was going electronic. I started on a manual typewriter and I miss the sound of the thundering typewriters. That said, today, we’ve been overwhelmed by the changes brought on by the internet. So many things pop up online that now we’re competing with many other sources. It used to be that traditional media was the gatekeepers for news,  but today we are competing with everyone. That simply means we need to be laser-focused on providing the best news for our industry. Given the LA Times is a 150-year-old brand, it’s important that it continues to evolve to keep it going, and it is.  

THO: What was one of your most interesting interviews? 

Roger Vincent: Many years ago, I interviewed a man named Gypsy Boots who was a health food fanatic.  He rolled into the LA Times and sat at my desk, extolling the virtues of eating natural foods long before it was popular. Everyone thought he was a little nuts at the time, but history told us a different story.

THO: What is one of your more memorable stories?

Roger Vincent: I was reporting in Chico where Amtrak had just created a stop. This was big news at the time. It came in at 2:00 a.m. in the morning and I arrived just as it was disappearing in the distance. But I interviewed all the locals and wrote the story. It didn’t reflect that I wasn’t there to actually see it arrive. It’s all in how you shape the story. 

I also once went to John Cushman’s office to do an interview and noticed a telescope in the corner. It was trained on the swimming pool across the way. 

THO: What’s your pet peeve when it comes to working with PR people?

Roger Vincent: I’m no different than most journalists when I say that it’s getting a call or email from someone who hasn’t done their homework, or they don’t really know what I cover or how the Times is now covering things.  I get pitches all the time that have nothing to do with real estate. We also don’t cover promotions, but people send them anyway. Please stop. 

THO: What is your dream assignment?

Roger Vincent: This would be an assignment where I can go anywhere, but I don’t have to write about it! 

THO: What does the future hold for journalism?

Roger Vincent: The next generation of journalists will look just like I did when I started. Bright people who are eager to learn and want to report the news the old-fashioned way; while we may no longer get a paper thrown in our driveway, there is always a market for conscientious news gathering and dissemination. True journalism will never go out of style. One of the hurdles we do face is getting people used to paying for news; the news gathering process isn’t free – we need to retrain people to understand that.

For more “Media Mondays,” be sure to check out our blog!

THO

How to Work From Home While Watching Your Kids

Working from home has its challenges, especially if you have young children. You may find it difficult to concentrate or complete a project in a timely manner. Keep reading to find out how you can work from home while still keeping an eye on the kids! 

1. Communicate

Before you begin working from home, make sure your employer knows that your children will be at home with you. It is more than likely that your work will get interrupted at some point, so it is best to make sure your boss is aware of the situation. Not only should you have a conversation with your employer, but you should also have a conversation with your children. They need to understand that even though you are home, there is still work to be done. You can even reward them for good behavior if they are respecting your space. 

2. Plan Activities

It is important to plan activities for younger children in order to keep them occupied while you’re working. You could set up puzzles, games, or even virtual playdates with their friends before beginning the work day. If you have extra time, you could even create an activity jar. That way, they won’t run out of things to do. Make sure not to include activities that require a lot of effort or supervision on your end. 

3. Split the Work

If you have a partner who is also working from home, you could split the work. For example, you could keep an eye on the children in the morning and your partner could watch the children in the afternoon. This ensures that you and your partner will have time to focus only on work. 

4. Create Physical Boundaries when Working from Home

Even though you need to keep an eye on your children throughout the day, find a space with a door that can be closed. This will allow you to handle work emergencies without interruptions. If you don’t have a private space in your home, you could always step outside to take a phone call or send an email. It might be helpful to get some fresh air, not to mention some peace and quiet! 

By doing these four things, you will be able to be productive and watch the kids at the same time. Let us know if you have any other working from home tips!

By Kate Artmann

The Hoyt Organization

How to Network While Social Distancing

This post is courtesy of Annelise Krafft at HMA Public Relations, one of our Public Relations Global Network partners.

As the world continues to social distance in an attempt to flatten the COVID-19 curve, networking and professional relationships can feel impossible to maintain.

Although our new normal doesn’t encourage face-to-face interactions, there are still ways to build and maintain connections in your business network, according to Forbes Magazine.

Here are three ways to network while social distancing.

Strengthen Existing Connections

Now more than ever, reach out to people in your immediate circle. Anything from following up on a request to simply saying hi will go a long way. Now is also a great time to reach out to those you have fallen out of touch with.

Embrace Emotional Bonds

In these unprecedented times, and it’s impossible to continue with business as usual. Everyone is dealing with emotions of anxiety and uncertainty related to COVID-19, and now is a great time to grow emotional bonds between colleagues by having raw conversations with those in your network.

Call Instead of Emailing

Hoping on the phone feels a lot more personal than sending an email or a text.  Much like an open-door policy, encourage and welcome calls at any time. Better yet, set up a video chat to talk face-to-face.

The Hoyt Organization

10 Tips for Video Conference Meetings from Home

This post is courtesy of Jessica Muzik at Bianchi Public Relations, one of our Public Relations Global Network partners.

With COVID-19 “stay at home, stay safe, save lives” orders now firmly in place nearly everywhere, those that are working from home are finding themselves using one of a variety of video meeting services such as Skype, Zoom, WebEx, Abobe Connect, Microsoft Teams and others to stay connected and accomplish day-to-day business activities.

Here are some helpful tips that we have found for achieving the best possible video conference meetings with your colleagues and customers:

Be sure you have a good connection – A stable, fast and reliable Internet connection is key to any successful video conference meeting. If you’ve found that your home Internet is prone to “go out,” you will want to make sure that you are sitting near your router or, better yet, use a hard wire connection. You might also consider upgrading your home service to “business class” internet service, which obviously is more costly, but may be well worth it if you’re having internet speed or bandwidth problems that can arise when multiple people are home putting unusual demand on your internet;

Select a video conference service that works best for everyone – Whether it’s Skype, Zoom or one of the many other video conference meeting services available, make sure that you have selected a service that works well for everyone. Also, you will want to make sure that you test the service before utilizing it for a actual meeting, so that you can ensure that the video and audio are working properly when you join the video conference meeting;

Familiarize yourself with the features – Take some time upfront to become acquainted with the features of the video conference service you have chosen to utilize. If you are the host, make a point to inform the other participants how to utilize the features to help ensure that the participants are able to utilize the necessary video conference features. Two must-know features are muting and unmuting the microphone and sharing screens; 

Location, location, location … and lighting – Pick a suitable location within your home that is free from distraction, quiet, professional and void of any background noise. Speaking of backgrounds, make sure the visual background is uncluttered and tidy, so that visually it does not distract people from your comments. If you are using a virtual background, such as a photo of board room that you’ve loaded into the application, make sure to use a green background, so your face doesn’t fade in and out. Also, if you’re using a laptop or notebook computer for the video conference, remember to put your cell phone on mute. Good lighting is also key. Chose a location within your home that has proper lighting, as well as minimal glare. If possible, make sure that there is good natural but diffused light on your face and avoid sitting between your camera and the window where your image could be backlit. If possible, sit at a desk or table with your face and computer screen facing the window light and your back against a wall that is not too distracting for your audience;

Level up your camera – Position your device’s camera so that it is straight on or even pointed slightly downward toward your eyes. If the camera is lower than your eyes, those that you are meeting with will get a very unflattering viewing angle of your face. Use books or a shelf – something stable – to get the camera to the right height. And make sure you frame yourself in the center of the screen;

Enhance the sound – Consider using a headset with a microphone to enhance the sound quality of your video meetings. This will improve the quality of the meeting for both you and the other participants. And make sure to enunciate clearly and inject enthusiasm, passion and energy into your voice, to make up for some of the visual cues that will be missing because of the virtual nature of the meeting. On a video conference, you have to work a little harder to get your point across;

Dress professionally – As with in-person meetings, you’ll want to dress properly and professionally, just as if the meeting were taking place face-to-face in your client’s office or conference room. Also, be sure to develop a meeting agenda and share it with your video conference participants, so that everyone can be on the same page. This will help the meeting to go as smoothly and productively as possible;

Consider the time zones – Given the globalization of nearly all industries these days, it is important to be mindful of time zones when setting meetings. So, before you send a video conference meeting invite, make sure that the day and time is convenient for all involved and that the invite offers clearly marked time zone information; 

Maintain eye contact – Try to keep good eye contact with your audience, in this case, your camera lens. Wandering eyes can be distracting and uncomfortable. Look into the lens and maintain that contact. Try to avoid fidgeting with your hands, glasses or pens. Also, watch that your body language doesn’t send signals that conflict with your words. Sit up straight or stand, keep your shoulders relaxed, gesture as you normally would and smile; and

Hold that thought – In spite of the many improvements in video technology, you may still experience a delay in the conversations. If you are experiencing this lag, try to maintain eye contact and be patient – pause for a few seconds after someone has spoken before you respond. Otherwise, you risk the frustration of talking over one another in a sort of awkward ping-pong game of fragmented sentences. While it is typically up to the host to manage the video conference meeting, try your best to pause before you speak, so you set a good example for the other participants. 

We welcome your feedback … what have we missed from this list of video conference meeting tips and tricks that you have found to be helpful and / or necessary in this new work from home landscape?

THO

How Can We Help?

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