What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Samuel Berger, and I’m a Long Island native who found his way to the Queen City.
How did you end up in Charlotte?
I went to school at SUNY Geneseo and studied communication and political science. Honestly, I did not think broadcast news was where I would find my calling. Aside from eating great food, including some of the best wings ever, I spent my time beat reporting on the Buffalo Bills, or working for government officials. From there I went to Rochester, where I worked at Spectrum News and WHEC, surviving Rochester winters like a champ. If you can handle lake-effect snow, you can handle anything, right?
After that, Kansas City became my home for three years. I was the lead morning show producer and the producer behind the Kansas City Chiefs’ pre-game festivities for the CBS affiliate. That included a highlight of my career, producing a Super Bowl pre-game show with my best friend serving as host, it doesn’t get better than that.
Now, here I am in Charlotte, serving as the Senior Producer at Queen City News. In the Queen City I have truly gotten the best of both worlds: being back near the coast and in a bustling news environment. With Charlotte continuing to grow, no two days are ever alike.
What made you interested in journalism?
That’s an easy question; I have always been interested in people. I believe everyone has a story, and those stories are what make us unique. Through journalism, I have the ability to tell those stories and shine a light on the people that make our communities what they are. It’s that ability to make a difference that drives me.
Each and every day as a journalist, you start with a blank slate, a story, and a deadline, and it’s up to you to make it work, make it interesting, and make a difference.
What kind of news do you find most interesting to report on?
I have a keen interest in human interest stories—they have this incredible ability to connect people on a personal level. Whether it’s exploring unique life experiences, triumphs, or challenges, these stories showcase the diversity of a person. If I can do so through a vehicle like food or sports, both things I am passionate about, it allows me to buy-in that much more.
I am also drawn to complicated issues that deserve a breakdown. There’s a sense of satisfaction in unraveling complex subjects and presenting them in a way that resonates with viewers. At the end of the day it is making sure the viewer gets the information they need and answers to questions. When I can put a challenging subject in layman’s terms and make it digestible for everyone I feel as if I provided a valuable service.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned so far while working in the journalism industry?
The most valuable lesson I’ve learned while working in the journalism industry is the importance of connections and teamwork. The people you meet and collaborate with are instrumental to success. While I may excel in writing and producing a show, the collaborative effort of editors, directors, anchors, reporters, and the entire newsroom is essential. In other words, the strength of the team directly correlates with the quality of the final product. In journalism, it’s not just about individual skills; it’s about the collective synergy that brings stories to life and delivers impactful content to our audience.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I envision myself leading a team of creatives in the dynamic world of media. As my longtime news director wisely puts it, I aim to “do interesting stuff” — engaging in innovative and impactful storytelling that captures the audience’s attention. My goal is to make a difference through the stories I tell, ensuring that I am contributing to narratives that truly deserve to be shared. I see myself at the forefront of meaningful projects, utilizing my skills to not only inform but also captivate and connect with viewers on a deeper level.
How can PR pros like us work better with local media?
PR professionals can foster stronger collaboration with local media by immersing themselves in the nuances of a newsroom. Understanding the delicate balance and synergies at play within a news environment is key. By gaining insight into the intricacies of how everything functions together, PR pros can tailor their pitches to align seamlessly with the preferences and requirements of local media.
Moreover, a deep understanding of the angles and story elements needed by local media. This not only gives PR professionals a leg up in effectively communicating their messages but also assists local media outlets in producing compelling and relevant stories.
Social media is one of the most powerful tools a business can leverage to connect with their audience. How a social media team chooses to manage this tool can significantly impact its effectiveness. One key decision all social managers will face at some point is whether to adopt a centralized or decentralized strategy. Let’s break it down:
The Centralized Approach
Centralized social media means there is one consolidated, central authority or page, typically being the corporate or brand headquarters. This one page will represent all activity in every market, as the “official” page. Having a centralized approach might benefit organizations who are looking for:
- Consistent Branding: Centralization ensures a uniform brand voice, messaging, and visual identity across all platforms. This consistency strengthens brand recognition and credibility.
- Efficient Resource Utilization: It allows for streamlined resource allocation, as a centralized team can manage content, engagement, and strategy for all platforms. This is particularly effective for smaller organizations with limited resources.
- Comprehensive Analytics: Centralized management allows for a more comprehensive analysis of performance metrics across all channels. This aids in better-informed decision-making and strategy refinement.
This is a great option for large brands with a unified identity, financial institutions, or nonprofits.
The Decentralized Approach
Decentralized social media distributes responsibilities and content creation across multiple locations or entities within an organization. This is typically done by various markets or regions having individual social media pages. In this approach, various local/regional branches, departments, or teams have a certain level of control in creating and managing content for their respective social media channels. Having a decentralized approach might benefit organizations who are looking for:
- Localized Content Creation: In a decentralized setup, local or regional teams have the autonomy to create content tailored to their audience’s preferences, culture, and language. This local touch often resonates better with diverse demographics.
- Rapid Response to Regional Needs: Decentralization allows for quicker responses to localized issues or trends, fostering a more agile and responsive approach to regional needs or crises.
- Cultural Relevance and Connection: A decentralized approach facilitates better understanding of local culture and trends, fostering deeper connections with the audience. Not all trends are global, and assuming otherwise might create irrelevant content.
This is a great option for global corporations with regional offices, franchise businesses, or hospitality brands.
When to Localize vs. Decentralize
The organization or brand’s overall goal for their social media channel should play a large role in deciding when to keep social media central, or allow it to be controlled locally. Ask yourself this key question:
What do we want to get out of our social media channels?
If the answer is along the lines of: “we want people to visit us on social media to find out what is going on at each of our many locations,” you might want a decentralized strategy. In this instance, each store or region having its own channel will allow them to highlight events going on in that particular area, helping to increase local engagement.
On the other hand, if your answer is closer to: “the key objective of our social media is to create strong, uniform brand recognition,” a centralized strategy might be the path for you. As opposed to a decentralized strategy, where each market is given the freedom to produce unique content, a centralized strategy is one message, one voice, 24/7.
In summary, the decision to centralize or decentralize social media channels should be guided by your business’s specific needs, audience diversity, and market dynamics. There are pros and cons to having a centralized vs. decentralized strategy, but there is no one correct answer. However, depending on your long-term goals and organizational structure, one might be more suitable for your company over the other.
Public Relations (PR) and marketing professionals often use specific phrases and terms unique to their industry. Sometimes, these terms can slip into conversations and might leave you feeling confused. In this blog post, we will outline the top 10 commonly used phrases in PR and marketing, providing a clear understanding of their meanings and implications.
- Key Performance Indicator (KPI)
A key performance indicator can also be thought of as a goal, or a target for internal and external teams to aim for. Outlining a clear set of KPIs during a campaign’s planning process will help the team track progress and measure success during and after the activation. KPIs are also a great way to show progress and growth in various areas.
- Media Pitch
A media pitch is a very carefully crafted message that PR professionals use to outline the value of a story, and explain why it should be published to journalists. A pitch aims to capture the journalist’s interest and showcase why the story is newsworthy or relevant. The goal of every pitch is for the story to be published. Read more about how to write a successful media pitch here.
- “On the Wire”
A press release is an official statement issued by an organization to the media. A press release is used to announce big news, an event, product launches, etc. A press release can either be pitched to media individually, or distributed “on the wire”. On the wire refers to PR Newswire, a popular syndication service that publishes the release digitally and pushes it out to hundreds of media outlets. While distributing a release on the wire will help garner more impressions, there is a fee to use the service.
- Unique Visitors per Month (UVM or UVPM)
Unique visitors per month refers to the number of people who visit a website every month. For example, the number of people who visited nytimes.com in a particular month. It can also be thought of or referred to as an “impression”. UVM is a strictly digital metric, and would not be the correct term for print or broadcast media.
An exclusive is an agreement you might offer a publication, to make them more interested in covering the news. An exclusive promises that publication they will break the news first, as it provides them with exclusive rights to the news.
- Call to Action (CTA)
- A call to action is a direct instruction or request that prompts the audience to take a specific action. It can be as simple as “Shop Now,” “Subscribe,” or “Learn More.” CTAs are strategically placed in marketing materials to guide the audience towards the desired outcome, such as making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or engaging with content.
- User Generated Content (UGC)
User generated content refers to assets created by fans or influencers, as opposed to the brand. UGC can be used on a brands social media channels, website pages, or in various printed formats. While some of the pictures might not be quite as polished, it gives a brand a more authentic look that is often appreciated by viewers.
- Crisis Management
Crisis management is the strategic process of handling and mitigating potential or existing crises that may harm an organization’s reputation or operations. It involves preemptive planning, quick decision-making, and effective communication to minimize the impact of the crisis and maintain stakeholder trust. Read more about crisis management here.
- Under Embargo
In PR, having something under embargo is a request the brand makes to the media. It means the information or news provided in a pitch will not be published until a certain date, or until certain conditions have been met. In most cases, an embargo is lifted on a launch day.
- ROI (Return on Investment)
ROI is a metric used to gauge the effectiveness and profitability of a marketing or PR campaign. It measures the financial return generated from the investments made, such as advertising costs, media placement, or events. Calculating ROI helps determine the success of campaigns and can guide future investment decisions.
Similar to the city itself, the Charlotte influencer environment has grown tremendously over recent years. With an expanding portfolio of influencers to look to for a local, on the ground perspective to Charlotte’s bests, a household name is and will always be Where to Eat Charlotte. However, Miranda Mounts, the mastermind behind Where to Eat Charlotte, isn’t just looking to build another recommendations page. She is setting out to develop the Where to Eat Charlotte brand into a community that connects the eater to the owner, the eater to the eater, the owner to the owner, and more.
In the Charlotte area, Where to Eat Charlotte is synonymous with authenticity, connection, and intentionality. When considering who to partner with, the brand considers a handful of pillars that align with their core values – health, wellness, sustainability, and authenticity. In their own words, they don’t highlight brands they aren’t in love with. It’s paramount to them that the Where to Eat Charlotte community trusts their recommendations, and a recommendation is not just based on a bigger paycheck. Brands that they work with who encapsulate this include Organifi, Invigory, and LesserEvil – and their hopefully someday would be Siete!
Miranda recently brought on a partner to grow the Where to Eat Charlotte team, the Ying to her Yang, Bethany Monaghan. Bethany’s background is in food sourcing which made her a natural fit to help bring the Where to Eat brand to life. In Miranda’s own words, Bethany joined and has spearheaded increased community and relationship building for the brand. This addition has allowed Miranda and Bethany to reflect on Where to Eat Charlotte and develop on their longer-term goals and vision for the brand.
In recent months, Miranda and Bethany have used their untenable force to highlight different cuisines within Charlotte. They’ve found a renewed purpose in finding global cuisine opportunities within Charlotte itself, there is an abundance of diverse cuisines in our own city that people have brought to life! They want to highlight restaurants that are intentional and educate diners about another culture. An example of this Miranda spoke passionately about it Nile Grocery. Just recently, Miranda and Bethany visited the restaurant to learn about the art of Ethiopian dining and cuisine and experience a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony.
What can we expect in the near future for Where to Eat Charlotte? Miranda and Bethany are excited as they continue to ideate their long-term vision for the brand. While many ideas are being thrown around, they called out opportunities for in-person events for the Where to Eat Charlotte community, expanding to other social channels like YouTube, and more! As a part of building deeper relationships with their followers, these channels would serve as a platform to show the behind the scenes, authentically messy side of Where to Eat Charlotte and continue conversations with their followers.
Where to Eat Charlotte’s Miranda and Bethany aren’t limiting themselves locally. In August 2022, the duo launched Where to Eat World, a page that highlights international cuisines, cultures, and communities. From destinations ranging from Italy to Colombia and Mexico, Where to Eat World echoes the ethos of Where to Eat Charlotte, bringing people together as a community to enjoy meals with people you love, and appreciate the cultures the meals emerged from. The spinoff brand was summed up by Miranda, as encouraging followers to explore the world and expand their palettes.
We’re excited to see where Miranda and Bethany take the Where to Eat Charlotte brand over the next few years. Interested in following along too? Follow Where to Eat Charlotte on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, or YouTube for the latest happenings!
Adding a hashtag or two to your social media post might feel trivial, but these tiny number signs can actually be quite powerful when used properly. Tweets with hashtags receive twice as much engagement, and Instagram posts with at least one hashtag get 29% more interactions than those without. Not only do hashtags increase visibility, but they are also helpful for targeting your message to a desired demographic or audience.
What Are Hashtags?
Hashtags are words or phrases preceded by the pound sign (#), or octothorpe. They are used to categorize content on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, and more. Twitter was the first to build the concept into their platform in 2007, when a Silicon Valley product designer named Chris Messina suggested using the sign to group related tweets together.
Fast-forward 16 years and hashtags now encompass the areas of brand promotion and general interest. Hashtags are an excellent way to discover niche content and participate in conversations around a specific topic, movement, campaign, or event.
Why Are Hashtags Important in PR?
By default, your posts are shown to a limited audience. This usually includes account followers, and, if you’re lucky, the main explore page. Hashtags push content and messaging much further, to a new group of users who are already looking for topics like yours.
The benefits of using hashtags for PR includes:
- Increased visibility of a brand, campaign, event, or message to a larger audience.
- Targeted reach to specific demographics and audiences who are already searching for like-minded topics.
- An engagement boost from a large group of people who can easily discover content and join conversations with the tap of a hashtag.
- Real-time reputation management by PR professionals regarding a topic or campaign.
- The ability to conduct data analysis on the performance of a campaign based on post discourse, hashtagged content, and more.
Should Hashtags Always Be Used?
One of the most common questions we encounter is whether or not hashtags should always be used. Is a post considered unsuccessful if hashtags aren’t incorporated? Believe it or not, it’s not necessary to use hashtags on every piece of content. If your topic doesn’t seamlessly fit into any of the populated categories, leave the hashtags off.
This will help you avoid overly-general hashtags that distract from your imagery and messaging. If you have a stellar post, your content will shine on its own and get great engagement naturally. When it does make sense to use them, hashtags can be considered a helpful way to “boost” your post even further.
How Many Hashtags Should You Use on Each Platform?
According to SproutSocial, consider taking a tailored approach to your hashtag use on the various social media platforms:
- 1-2 hashtags on Facebook
- 1-2 hashtags on Twitter
- 2-3 hashtags on LinkedIn
- 3-5 hashtags on Instagram
- 3-5 hashtags on TikTok
- 0 hashtags on Pinterest (place relevant hashtags in the description area instead)
Our Best Hashtag Tips
- Research industry trending keywords relevant to your topic and use a hashtag tool like RiteTag to track the popularity of your chosen hashtags.
- Make sure your chosen hashtags are populated with at least 11 posts (any lower number will not benefit engagement).
- Avoid long lists of hashtags that look spammy or are too general. This can sometimes result in your content getting blocked by the social media platform, leading to lower visibility.
- Create a branded hashtag for a campaign, event, or brand, to track audience posts, engagement, and feedback. You can even create a location-based hashtag to engage the audience in a local area.
For most of us, writing is the process of doing that which is just a bit beyond us. You can see it in the struggle. There’s writer’s block. And terms of art such as “the words escape me” or “I can’t put it into words.” We know much more than we can communicate.
For those who are writers by way of public relations, our entire careers are focused on mastering the process of writing, and then to ultimately share that art with others. Depending on the company, its audiences and business objectives, there are various tones and styles of writing to take, and this art form can be very subjective. But at the end of the day, it’s a PR professionals’ job to articulate a company’s message effectively and clearly.
Each and every day, Generative AI and ChatGPT are persisting in the news. And we know that AI will have an impact on every industry, including PR. Just this month, Insider’s newsroom will start working AI into its newsroom, and believes it will make the company “faster and better”. But, using ChatGPT has also garnered some serious backlash. Vanderbilt University recently used the service to draft their response to the MSU shooting that caused major uproar amongst its student body. So, what does this blog have to do with ChatGPT? At its core, everything.
If we as professional communicators are to master this new technology, then we need to understand its implications and limitations. Those limitations begin with the realization that language is simply translative. Words are imperfect messengers of how we think or feel. But they are not actual thoughts.
To date, ChatGPT does an amazing job of stringing words together in an assertive manner, meeting the conventions of grammar and syntax. But it fails to integrate the thinking that gives rise to the kind of content that surprises and delights even the most hardened business audiences in its ability to tie together ideas, concepts, and opinions. Think of that front page Wall Street Journal article that ties business to some human dimension we have never before considered.
The limitations of ChatGPT and Generative AI raise many interesting questions about how we, as communicators, will come to accommodate ourselves to it. We believe the staunchest adopters of ChatGPT have been the strongest writers. They quickly see the framework ChatGPT projects, making our lives easier to apply thought independent of words.
ChatGPT provides a remarkable opportunity to focus on more human elements of writing without being taxed on syntax or grammar, since machines can now do that for us. We can now leave the words to the machine while reserving the “thinking” part of communications, such as narrative creation and understanding the audience, to more thoughtfully articulate our message – which is what PR professionals do best!