This year has been a rollercoaster. 2020 has brought a global pandemic, protests and activism, murder hornets, natural forces and so much more that seems to be the cherry-on-top of a disastrous year. Trying to navigate these unprecedented times, it’s important now more than ever that businesses lean on the support and expertise of public relations professionals. PR professionals have recognized that 2020 has changed the industry and are doubling-down their efforts to point businesses in the right direction. In this blog post we’ll explore how 2020 has changed public relations and how those changes are here to stay.
A global pandemic is enough to cause a crisis, and adding layoffs and state-wide lockdowns is more than enough to cause panic among businesses. COVID-19 has shown the importance of developing a crisis communications plan for a wide spectrum of events — including a pandemic. Not only is it vital for businesses to develop a crisis communications plan, but it’s even more important to properly implement that plan. Sure, businesses can rattle off suggestions and best practices to be included in their crisis communications plan, but are these ideas realistic and can they be properly implemented and successful among consumers? This is where PR agencies come in by pulling their expertise, experience and extensive research to determine what strategies will work best and be most successful.
Adjusting to A Virtual World
Due to COVID-19 and state-wide lockdowns, businesses and employees have been forced to move their operations fully online. Businesses with events and product launches scheduled throughout 2020 have been forced to cancel or host events and product launches online. Moving events online have businesses scrambling to reconstruct event plans and work through the logistics that going all-virtual brings. Having a PR agency on hand can ease the stresses that come with virtual event planning and event promotions.
The global pandemic and state-wide lockdowns have drastically hurt small businesses and communities. Consumers are looking at big brands and PR agencies to see how they are supporting local businesses and their communities during these trying times. Now is the time for larger brands to utilize their local PR agencies and immerse themselves in the community. PR agencies can support their communities by encouraging people to shop local and can support larger businesses by researching ways to get involved and give back.
The Black Lives Matter movement gained tremendous momentum this year. While it’s a cause that has made an enormous impact on our society, it’s important to thoroughly think through campaigns and slogans that display solidarity and support. Using generic slogans without backing them by extending meaningful support is heavily scrutinized and looked down upon. It’s a quick way to get backlash and lose support from consumers. Having a PR agency on board is advantageous for a business because it is a PR professional’s job to research all the negatives about a brand and create a plan to address those negatives. It’s never too late to admit to past wrongs and move forward by doing the right thing.
Diversity & Inclusion
Diversity and inclusion in both a business’ staff and promotional campaigns is now an absolute must. Consumers and employees are demanding more diversity and inclusion, and the best place to start is within. Both PR agencies and businesses must address the diversity and inclusion sensitivities and challenges they face, and having diverse insights and experiences will lead to smarter and more sensitive campaigns.
PR is an ever-changing industry, going with the ebb and flow of media and market trends. While 2020 has quickly shifted the strategies and goals of PR, these changes will certainly affect PR for years to come.
Even during a pandemic, ArtPop Street Gallery has continued to serve local artists and the communities of four cities across the country. Although COVID-19 delayed their annual event celebrating 2020’s juried in artists, ArtPop didn’t let that stop them from filling city streets with color.
Working with local artists in Charlotte, the Triad, Atlanta and Columbus, OH, ArtPop has installed billboards across these cities and their surrounding areas displaying the work of local artists. Varying in medium from photography, oil on canvas, watercolor and everything in between, all works are original works of art. Navigating the stress and uncertainty of COVID-19 has been difficult for many, but communities are turning to the arts as a method of relief and escape during these unprecedented times. This exposure for artists has resulted in support and sales, allowing the artists to continue creating.
ArtPop has not only maintained their community efforts and artist support throughout the pandemic, but has grown their program in two cities. This year, ArtPop introduced their program to Atlanta and juried in 30 local artists to its inaugural class of 2020 — more than ArtPop’s typical classes of 20 artists. In the Triad, Artpop grew their class of five artists to six, making an impact in yet another local artist’s career.
PIVOT PR is thankful to work with a wonderful organization such as ArtPop Street Gallery and is proud to sponsor three Charlotte artists: Nancy Jo Sauser, Luis Ardila, Nick McOwen. You can check out their artwork installed on static and digital billboards around the city.
Thanks to their media partners and community support, ArtPop has promoted over 400 artists on over 20 million dollars of media space, as well as awarded scholarships to high school artists pursuing a degree in art. If you are interested in donating to the efforts of ArtPop, please visit https://charity.gofundme.com/artpopstreetgallery
In an attempt to remain relevant in the rapidly changing world of social media, platforms are forced to redesign and introduce new ideas to keep users engaged. Instagram is the most recent to introduce a new content format to their app: Instagram Reels.
Instagram Reels is a new short-form video format that allows users to record and edit 15 second, multi-clip videos with audio, effects and creative tools. Reels is Instagram’s attempt to compete with TikTok, a short-form video social media platform that blew up in the U.S. this past year thanks to COVID-19 and life in lockdown.
How can you create, share and find Instagram Reels?
Users can create Reels in Instagram Stories, which can be found in the top-left corner of the Home feed or by swiping right on the Home feed screen. Reels comes with a variety of video editing tools including audio, AR effects, timer and countdown, align and speed. Although Reels are created in Instagram Stories, they can be shared to Stories, close friends, direct messages and a user’s feed. If shared to a user’s Story, a Reel will behave like a Story and disappear after 24 hours, whereas if a Reel is shared to a user’s feed it will remain on the user’s profile page like a traditional post. Public profiles also have the option to share Reels to a dedicated space on the Explore page.
Reels in Explore showcases the top-trending Reels on Instagram. On the Explore page, users can discover entertaining Reels made by anyone in a vertical feed that is customized to each user. Users can like, share and comment on Reels as well as interact with the Reel’s audio.
How can businesses utilize Instagram Reels?
Instagram Reels launched in the United States just this past week, meaning there currently isn’t much data backing how successful Reels is for business profiles. Regardless, Reels should be a fun and creative outlet for businesses to capture and engage their audiences. We’ve gathered a few ideas and best practices for creating an Instagram Reel.
- Get Involved in the Trends: Using trending audio and hashtags is a great way to get a Reel in front of a larger audience and remain relevant with followers.
- Keep Content Simple and Fun, but Stay on Brand: Get creative with content and explore the video editing tools, but be sure to stay on brand. Keep content funny, intriguing and to-the-point. Don’t try creating content that doesn’t fit your brand’s identity.
- Start Your Own Challenges: Create your own challenges and a challenge hashtag. Encourage other users to take on the challenge, share the hashtag when they post and nominate friends and followers to do the challenge.
As a new content format, Instagram Reels is a great opportunity for businesses to explore the opportunities it offers and engage with their audience in a fun, new way.
It’s no secret that social media has become an integral part of our everyday lives and business practices. According to We Are Social and Hootsuite, the average American spends 2-3 hours per day posting, scrolling, sharing and engaging on social media. The latest social media fad? An app called TikTok.
TikTok is a social media platform where users share 15 or 60 second videos and audiences engage by liking, commenting, sharing, duetting and following. Although stigmatized to be a silly app dominated by teenagers, TikTok is quickly becoming a great platform for businesses to promote their brand, products or services to a large audience. Even better, all video editing services are built right into the app making it easy to create and upload content.
How is TikTok beneficial for businesses? Being relatively new, especially to the business and marketing world, TikTok is not as saturated with ads as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This also makes advertising on the app less expensive compared to advertising on bigger platforms.
TikTok can be a great platform to build your business, but it’s important to first determine if it’s the right platform. Content is king when it comes to social media. TikTok thrives off quirky, fun and authentic content. The app has earned the reputation of being a casual platform where users can be creative and feel comfortable expressing themselves. Spend time on the app to become familiar with the culture, what content is most successful, how users can engage and how to edit videos. It’s important to fully understand your business’s identity, culture, audience and goals to determine what content will succeed on the app while keeping it authentic.
If you’ve determined TikTok is right for your business, here are a few ways to use TikTok to promote your business:
Create a Hashtag Challenge
A hashtag challenge encourages users to create or recreate content, tag the branded hashtag and nominate friends. These challenges should be fun and engaging and can be anything from a dance, styling or using a product, making a dish or anything in between.
Partner with TikTok Influencers
Partnering with TikTok influencers is a great way to reach a large audience. When choosing an influencer to work with, keep in mind the type of content the influencer posts and make sure their audience matches your target audience.
Utilize TikTok’s Advertising Options
TikTok recently introduced four different types of advertising options for businesses. The app also offers precise targeting, ensuring an ad is hitting your desired audience. The advertising options include:
- Infeed Native Content: This option allows businesses to share an ad to the TikTok “For You Page” that is similar to Instagram and Snapchat story ads and supports website links and app downloads.
- Brand Takeovers: This option allows businesses to take over TikTok for a day. Businesses have the opportunity to create images, GIFs and videos with embedded links to websites or hashtag challenges.
- Hashtag Challenges: Rather than hoping a hashtag challenge will go viral, businesses have the option to use promoted hashtags.
- Branded Lenses: Branded lenses are similar to Instagram and Snapchat filters for faces and photos.
Overall, TikTok is a great way to generate brand awareness and engagement, as long as businesses are willing to be funny, creative and candid. This type of content is likely to succeed quickly and keep TikTok users coming back for more.
When it comes to reaching a diverse group of audiences, few forums offer the universal appeal and built-in advertising command of college sports. Historically, talented athletes lending star power to the collective $1 billion industry have been barred from financially benefiting from NCAA team participation. That all changed a few weeks ago – and it could soon mean big opportunities for your company’s PR campaigns.
Following decades of pressure and questions surrounding if and how to compensate college athletes, the NCAA Board of Governors voted to allow athletes to be paid for the use of their names, images, and likenesses. While they still can’t collect a paycheck from the collegiate institution they play for, the ruling unleashes boundless opportunities for college athletes to cash in. And you better bet these transactions will be mutually beneficial: Organizations ready to partner with college athletes in this new capacity are poised to tap into a publicity gold mine.
This ruling frees individuals and companies to leverage the platform of these household names, and the outcomes will have a game-changing effect on business objectives. Most significantly, such a partnership offers companies an instant credibility factor that they might have struggled to achieve through previous PR tactics. Now, anything is possible. From a local perspective, partnering with the most recognizable athletes from your region on event appearances, promotions, or marketing initiatives quickly cements your brand with that of the athlete’s – which is already a “winning” one in the customer’s mind.
Companies of all sizes should think seriously about how utilizing a college athlete’s name, image, and likeness might enhance their current PR and marketing plans. We recommend starting by working with multiple athletes over an initial period of time, identifying which campaigns best align with your target audiences. From there, long-term partnerships might make sense to explore as a significant piece of your annual PR plan. No matter what route you consider, PIVOT PR would love to help you create a strategy that fits your unique needs – and is a slam dunk with your customers.