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Category : Thought Leadership

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CPRS event: The benefits of research and data collection

In the past 10 years, the public relations industry has advanced tremendously in how it collects and reports data, conducts research and quantifies success.

On February 5, 2018, the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) Toronto held an informative event where attendees had a chance to listen to four leading industry experts discuss how essential data has become in the digital age and how best to leverage it.

Read insights from the panelists on the CPRS Toronto blog Four reasons why PR demands data.

The panelists included our very own Diane Bégin, APR, vice president, who gave insights on how we leverage our research and data and how to use the information for strategic planning.

“There is so much data out there, and it is our job to guide our teams and clients on what the right, meaningful variables are to measure,” said Bégin. “We need to ensure the variables we are measuring are impacting our clients’ businesses in the right way and aligning seamlessly with their business objectives.”

Bégin added this has the potential to move clients’ in the right direction by allowing us to measure a real return on investment.

Need making sense of measuring your communications program? Drop us a line. Kristina Mikhalkova is a coordinator at APEX Public Relations / ruckus Digital.

As communicators we need to embrace social advertising

Not very long ago, our chief recourse as communicators who needed to tell brand stories was to work with publications and submit articles – or pitch thought leadership pieces.

Today, thanks to social and digital advertising capabilities, the game has changed. We now have several tools at our disposal that can help us reach the right audiences and build brands or organizations as credible sources of information.

Of course, the core principles of content creation – whether it is for traditional or social media – remain the same. When creating content, we still need to be informative, credible, thought-provoking and entertaining.

Creating great content is just the critical first step. Making it visible to the right audiences is the next. Social media advertising is a great avenue that can help us do just that.

Basically, social media advertising involves driving any kind of paid content on a social media platform.  For any communicator who is considering social advertising, a good place to begin is by identifying your objectives, target audiences and social platforms.

Ask yourself the following questions when planning social advertising:

  • What are the business objectives?
  • What are the key demographics or behaviours of the target audience?
  • What resources for content are available to tap into?
  • What topics or content is most important to this audience?
  • What is the best platform to reach this audience?
  • How do I mark success?
  • What is my budget?

Let us zoom in on the first three.

Identifying a strategy focused on your business objectives from the start can help maximize your efforts and help you test and experiment. Objectives for your branded content might be reaching the right target audience, engaging with them, driving them to a website or asking them to sign up for an event or newsletter.

When identifying your audience, social advertising lets you go beyond basic target demographics (age, sex, etc.) and allows you to identify your audience based on their behaviours or interests. This unique advantage leverages big data that social media platforms constantly collect from users – which communicators should use to reach their relevant audiences. For example, a company selling organic food may be able to fine tune its Facebook campaign by targeting interest-based groups that are interested in healthy cooking.

Lastly, it is critical to identify the best social media platforms to reach your audiences. Keep in mind that each platform serves varied audiences and their diverse needs. Consider other factors like the daily user base – is it mainly professionals or millennials? Is the platform used for news or sharing photos with friends? Will your content fit within this platform?

Once you have identified your objectives, audiences and platforms, you are ready to create content and start to test the results and the impact on your business.

Katie Boland is a digital strategy account manager at ruckus Digital. This article was originally published in IABC’s November 2017 newsletter. Need help with your social advertising strategy? Drop us a line.  

Upstairs Amy – the making of a web series

Recently Walmart and Interac launched their new comedy web series, Upstairs Amy. We spoke with Jenn Stein of APEX and Gary Edgar of ruckus Digital to find out what goes into making it, how the brands get integrated and why they think this approach will work with the target audience.

Subscribe to Upstairs Amy on YouTube and watch new episodes every Monday

Should fake news be archived to be preserved for the future?

That question was tossed around at an October 16 event, hosted by the National Archives in the stunning new Globe and Mail Centre, called Unfiltered: the Fate of Facts in the Digital Age. (Also check out what Globe staff have said about the Centre’s views.)

The discussion was moderated by Guy Berthiaume, Librarian and Archivist of Canada and included

With respect to preserving fake news for the future, Beasley offered a compelling metaphor from silent film. Apparently 9 out of 10 movies from the silent film era (from 1895 to 1936) were not preserved because the content was considered ephemeral.

Is that the case however for fake news?

While panelists agreed it has always existed (just that US politics have placed much more emphasis on it as of late), they had varying opinions on what to do with fake news, and many questions didn’t have any easy answers.

Should social media platforms accept a larger responsibility in stopping fake news?

While Twitter founder Jack Dorsey continues to assert that it’s better to know what’s on the mind of say the leader the most powerful country in the free world, libraries such as Cornell University have taken on the responsibility to provide resources to the public (like this fake news infographic) to make it easier to spot it.

Do current mainstream media outlets have a role to play in qualifying what is fake and what isn’t?

At least one audience member brought up biases if mainstream media outlets became the authority in determining what is fake and what isn’t.

While tools like the Globe and Mail fake news quiz better equips consumers of media, other much larger scale initiatives such as The Trust Project (watch for a launch scheduled for next month) is a collective initiative involving mainstream media that could be criticized for its biases. It also includes digital and social media representation from Twitter, Facebook and Google.

What role does fiction play as fake news in political discourse? (e.g. parody, political cartoons)

An interesting question to which again the metaphor of film was applied by Beasley. There was a time when audience members in theatres would clear out when a train was racing towards them.

Because the medium was new, they didn’t understand that they weren’t in imminent danger. The point being, it takes time to understand the effects of anything.

Ditto with mainstream attention on fake news.

What do you think? Tell us your thoughts here or on Twitter. Diane Bégin is VP, Social Marketing and Brand Communications at APEX PR and ruckus Digital.

Canadian cell phone emergency alert system coming soon

UPDATE – As of April 6, 2018, these emergency alerts are in effect

Would you want to receive a text message from authorities if your life may be in immediate danger?

From the 2012 Eaton Centre shooting in Toronto to the 2016 wildfires in Fort McMurray (incidentally the anniversary of the evacuation is this week), the ability to send a text message on the advanced wireless network could minimize chaos by sending accurate information to 97 per cent of the Canadian population instantly.

Well up until now in Canada you couldn’t receive those alerts. But, that’s about to change. On April 6, 2017, the CRTC “directed all wireless service providers to implement a wireless public alerting system on their LTE (long-term evolution) networks by April 2018.”

In an effort to catch up to other jurisdictions, the CRTC consulted last year about appetite for wireless service providers’ (WSP) participation in the National Public Alerting System for dangers to life and property. This would include “broadcast immediate alert messages” such as “imminent or unfolding dangers to life (including tornadoes, forest fires, industrial disasters, and tsunamis).”

The United States has had a system in place since 2012 – called Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs), which was a WSPs voluntarily initiative led through a partnership between the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Such an alert was used in the most recent New York bombings.

Australia also has an emergency alert system, using location-based SMS.

This evolution is part of other emergency innovations the CRTC is building upon including launching an interactive map for emergency alerts from broadcast media and next generation 9-1-1 (i.e. maybe 9-1-1 texting).

Some are opposed to the idea but the major wireless service providers are in favour – at an estimated $25M cost. All submissions on the change were made public following the close of the consultation last year.

“We agree that Wireless Public Alerting (WPA) will be a significant benefit to Canadians and should be mandatory for all Wireless Service Providers (WSPs), including primary brands, extension brands, and resellers.” Bell Mobility submission

“TELUS fully supports the implementation of a national wireless public alerting system in Canada. TELUS maintains that “a full wireless emergency alerting system implemented across Canada must be effective, reliable and robust.” TELUS Communications Company submission

“Rogers is committed to the next chapter of Canadian National Public Alerting System (NPAS) through the rollout of Wireless Public Alerting.” Rogers Communications Canada Inc. submission

Considered a lifeline for many already, this change to our cell phones will likely pass without most of us realizing it – that is until its service is most valuable, at a time when we need it.

Diane Bégin is VP, brand communications & social marketing at ruckus Digital. Also learn about our experiences on the ground during the Fort McMurray wildfire (video) and a Storify recapping our third ruckus makers event also on the wildfire.

 

Need digital help? Drop us a line.

Big vs small: Which agency size is better?

Size matters. But, does that mean bigger is better?

At a November 2016 SoDA Academy session, Jack Skeels, CEO and Founder of Agency Agile, described how he realized at a previous job, the bigger they got, the bigger he felt the shark chasing them got as well. Essentially, as they grew larger as an agency, so too did their efficiency problems in delivering good work.

Skeels’ exploration led to the study of the Theory of the Firm, rooted in pioneering research from Ronald Coase in The Nature of the Firm.

Coase explores three areas when asking the question: is a bigger better?

  1. “First, as the firm gets larger, there may be decreasing returns to the entrepreneur function, that is, the costs of organising additional transactions within the firm may rise.
  2. Secondly, it may be that as the transactions which are organised increase, the entrepreneur fails to place the factors of production in the uses where their value is greatest, that is, fails to make the best use of the factors of production.
  3. Finally, the supply price of one or more of the factors of production may rise, because the “other advantages” of a small firm are greater than those of a large firm.”

The first two reasons given most probably correspond to the economists’ phrase of “diminishing returns to management.”

‘I wish we could go back to the days when we were larger,’ said no one ever. The research suggests that this is due to the intersection of “economies of scale” and “dis-economies of management.”

  1. Economies of scale simply means cost-sharing within an agency (e.g. a fixed yearly expense such as social media monitoring platform Sysomos) amongst a larger group of clients brings its cost down for each client.
  2. Dis-economies of management means that as an agency grows in size, so too does its costs because it means an increase in management, which leads to an overall decrease in productivity and in turn increased cost to provide service.

So, size does matter. What you do with it too. And hitting that sweet spot in the middle is your key to agency satisfaction.

Diane Bégin is VP, brand communications & social marketing at ruckus Digital / APEX PR (mid-sized agency). Need digital help? Drop us a line.

Where do good content ideas come from?

Creating great content isn’t an exact science. At a recent event hosted by Rethink at the YouTube space in Toronto, the panel (featuring Alison Lawler-Dean, Rethink’s VP of Marketing and Communications) discussed how content is developed from various perspectives.

In addition to how a non-profit like Rethink approaches the concept, Lawler-Dean was joined by fellow panelists that included agency heads and a YouTube creator.

So where do good content ideas come from? There are underlying threads behind every strategy and each piece of content must demonstrate the following:

  1. Understand what motivates your audience.
    Identifying who you are creating for is important, but that’s just the start – what’s more important is knowing what motivates them. Whether developing recipes or influencer programs, reaching the audience is only as useful as much as you can motivate them to act. Whenever working through scripts or storyboards, constantly ask yourself: “who is this for, and what does this mean for them?”
  2. Communicate through partnership collaboration.
    Being a good partner and facilitator isn’t easy. The saying that collaboration “starts in frustration and ends in compromise” resonates with far too many, unfortunately. Place an increased emphasis on making sure partnerships work and are a good fit for all involved– whether it’s working with non-profits like Rethink, or influencers and celebrities – make sure goals and content align. Vigorous vetting means that you can start with excitement and end with results.
  3. Listen. Listen.
    When participating in conversations, use a mix of quantitative analytics, as well as qualitative data from your online communities to gauge how your content is performing. Listening to your community – to their wants, needs and desires – and incorporating what you’re hearing into your content will help to build your credibility and in the end will help drive results.

Dimitri Bariamis is an consultant at ruckus Digital. Need help with your content? Drop us a line.

Four things I learned working with mommy bloggers

While some digital marketers are still debating the definition and value of “social influencers,” others are incorporating them into brand campaigns, using their expertise and audience to get a few more (relevant) eyes on a product or service.

Recently, I’ve started working closely with a bad-ass group of influencers that have dominated the blogosphere for quite some time – mommy bloggers.

After working with several of these lovely ladies on a few different campaigns, I’ve learned a few things that (I think) are worth sharing.

The more info you can give the better

When you’re prepping a blogger on a campaign, the more background information you can provide the better. Yes, they are in creative control of the content produced, whether a blog post or social image, however if you can provide tips on what a client loves to see (or prefers to avoid) you ensure the success of the content on all fronts – you, your client and the blogger are happy with the result.

Work towards long term relationships

Building long term professional relationships is key, and it’s no different when you’re working with bloggers. Not only does it make sense to build ambassadors of a brand that are truly into the product or service, the content can flow more easily across campaigns and channels when it’s not a one-off post.

Set actionable KPIs

Measurement is a whole lot easier if you set actionable goals. Rather than impression estimates, why not count how many people responded to a call-to-action – commented on a post, entered a contest, bought a product etc., etc. – and determine the success of a program based on those results. This provides a benchmark for bloggers to work towards and for clients to understand the success (or failure) of a campaign.

Put some paid media behind your stuff

Blog campaigns take a lot of work – so it makes sense to arrange for some paid media behind the post. The budgets don’t need to be huge, and you’ll want to focus your efforts where your target audience is hanging out, but overall paid posts will help you get more out of the awesome content you’re creating.

Sarah Rogers is an account coordinator at ruckus Digital. Need help with your influencer strategy? Drop us a line.

Feature image from @beautycocktailsgirltalk

Ad targeting: Let’s go beyond demographics

Considerable thought goes into content creation, but often marketers forget about reaching the Social Advertisingright audience and social media advertising can help. If only we could just publish content and the perfect audience would just find it – but we don’t always get that lucky.

With social media advertising you don’t have to rely on audience assumptions. For example, not all 30-year-olds are starting a family and reading Today’s Parent. Or all not all teenagers need fashion advice and watch MTV.

Marketers can tap into the 71% of Canadians visiting Facebook weekly, and use the data they collect to deliver more relevant and interesting content to audiences.

Be smarter when targeting your audience with these options:

  • Custom audiences: Target users that have engaged with your Facebook page in the past, watched a video, used your app or visited your website. This is great for reaching loyal fans with which you want to maintain a relationship.
  • Lookalike audiences: Reach users who are similar to your audiences based on the individuals who liked your page, had some trackable actions after viewing your ad through conversion pixels [which can be added to your website to track who visits or purchases] or any other relevant Custom Audiences listed above. This is a great way to reach new consumers that have similar interests and behaviour to your current fan base.
  • Interests: Target users based on their interests, activities and the pages they engage with. This could be interest in movies, parenting, yoga, pets or biking. This helps you tap into consumer interest that aren’t easy to see based on demographics.
  • Relationship status: Looking to reach those who are planning their weddings? Serve up your ad to users in this target. Local venues, bridal fashion or DIYs for centre pieces – they’ll love to see it!
  • Network/smartphone: Have a product or app specifically compatible with iPhone or Android? Target users based on their smartphone or the network they use or don’t use.

What targeting criteria have you seen great success with for your content? Let us know on Twitter.

Katie Boland, @kathrynboland is a digital strategy account manager @ruckusdigital. Need help with your paid social media strategy and targeting? Drop us a line.

Top 5 of #Canada150

Remember Canada’s 125th? Branded as “Canada 1-2-5,” this was the commercial.

In the pre-internet days, TV spots and brochures were really how I remember Canada shared its ideas about how to celebrate.

Fast forward to 2017 and Canada’s 150th (aka #Canada150, or the more fun #sesquicentennial #sesqui) and we’re seeing commemorations popping up everywhere – mostly shared online.

At ruckus, we’ve been working with clients for some time planning how they will take part.

It will be a crowded space this year – as it should be as every individual and every organization in this country is part of the #Canada150 story.

There are official @Canada150th Signature Projects, Community Projects and then a whole bunch more.

Here are my top 5 #Canada150 projects:

  1. Canada C3 – Coast to Coast to Coast
    In my experience, most Canadians haven’t seen most of Canada. This a 150-day sailing journey from Toronto to Victoria through the Northwest Passage. Totally a dream trip.
  2. Explore 150
    Lots of us actually don’t know the history and culture within our own back yards. This includes an Android or an iPhone app to both publish and discover those secret spots.
  3. ParticipACTION 150 Playlist
    Canada is by far the best world’s best playground – so a list of 150 activities to stay fit is, well, a natural fit.
  4. The Great Trail
    Then there’s this 22,000 km trail that goes through all 13 provinces and territories. The Trans Canada Trail reports it’s now 90 per cent done, to be complete by July 1, 2017.
  5. We are the Best by Ricardo
    And what is culture without food? Canadian chef Ricardo Larrivée travels the country to bring you food in 52 three-minute video bites. Knowing your agriculture is where it’s at.

So what #Canada150 projects excite you? Tell us on Twitter.

Diane Bégin has a weakness for all things Canadiana. She’s also VP, brand communications & social marketing at ruckus Digital.