Brittany recently had the opportunity to virtually ask DeAnna Taylor, a local freelance writer, a few questions about her role as Editor in Chief of Charlotte’s newest publication: The Block. DeAnna shared her goals for the new publication and what she hopes Charlotteans will take away from it. Check it out!
Tell us about yourself…where are you from and what brought (or kept) you to (in) Charlotte? I am a proud native of Charlotte. I was born and raised here, so I have seen firsthand all of the changes (good and bad) that my city has gone through. I went away for college and law school but came back to be near my grandmother who was sick at the time. I moved away again from 2017-2018 to live in South Korea. Now, I am back again…for now.
Tell us more about The Block…how did it get started? The Block is a digital publication focused on Black creatives and creative entrepreneurs. Some will say that having a publication for Black creatives is “racist,” but we are the only people who can truly tell our stories from an authentic perspective. So often, Black artists and entrepreneurs get overlooked or their stories covered up. We are simply bringing a safe place and a space for their voices to be heard.
The publication was created from a series of in-person workshops that were launched by Hue House (founding members: David J. Butler, David “Dae Lee” Arrington, and Davita Galloway). They reached out to me for the Editor in Chief role and to take over the creative direction of the digital platform.
What are your goals as The Block’s Editor in Chief for the publication? My goal is to share as many untold stories as we can, while empowering our community and audience with any resources needed to take their brand to the next level. I want to share stories from creatives and entrepreneurs all around the globe.
What do you hope Charlotteans will take away from The Block and the stories it shares? While we are based in Charlotte, we ultimately want to reach the world. But as far as our Charlotte community, we hope that they are inspired by the stories and information that we put out each week. A big component of our publication is our visuals. We invest heavily on striking visuals through our own in-house team of photographers and videographers. We understand that people today are drawn in by what they see, so we are ensuring that we put out quality visuals that will keep people coming back for more.
How would you describe The Block in three words? Empowering, Uplifting, Culture
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned working in the media industry? Not everyone will appreciate your work. With the internet at everyone’s fingertips, you are bound to get some negative feedback or trolling. But, you cannot let that deter you from your mission or the overall message within your work.
You’ve probably heard of a case study, but what exactly is a case study and how is it beneficial to your business or PR agency? A case study is a great way to highlight the scope of work that was done for your business by analyzing a successful campaign or project.
Case studies are structured with three basic elements: a problem, the solution to the problem, and the outcome or results of solving the problem backed with quantitative data. We’ve gathered five key steps for developing a successful case study.
- Identify the Problem: Identifying the problem you’d like to highlight is the first step to developing a case study. Has a client seen a drastic decrease in social media engagement? Has your business launched a new product but has seen little-to-no sales? A good case study will focus on a challenging problem.
- Identify the Solution: Identifying the solution to the problem is the next step in developing a case study. The solution is going to be the project or campaign implemented. It’s best to pick a project or campaign that was especially unique and successful. The solution will showcase your business or agency’s capabilities and creativity, so it’s important to pick a strong campaign or project.
- Identify Key Messages: Once the problem and solution have been determined, identify the key messages you want the case study to highlight. One way to determine key messages is by looking at your goals in developing the case study in the first place. Are you developing a case study to showcase your business or agency’s creativity? Are you developing a case study to showcase whether your business or agency is successful in delivering results? These goals will help you determine the key messages to focus on.
- Analyze the Outcome / Results: The next step in developing a case study is to tie the problem, solution and key messages together by analyzing the outcome of the project or campaign. This step is a key step, as it showcases the success of a project or campaign and examines why it was so successful.
- Include Quantitative Data: Data speaks volumes, so providing quantitative data that backs up the success of the project or campaign is a must. For example, when completing a case study that focuses on a social media campaign, be sure to include engagement metrics. Most clients view public relations as a cost rather than an investment, and case studies are a great method for changing that perception. Clients are looking for a business or a PR agency that can provide results, and a case study can showcase just that.
Case studies can be very beneficial for your business. Not only can they highlight the scope of work done through a successful project or campaign, but they can also showcase your capabilities and be an advantageous resource in attracting new business.
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.
Political movements have gained tremendous momentum this year. While they can have 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.