Authored by: Stephné du Toit, Content Manager at At that Point
By now, we have all settled into our makeshift offices at home. We have become experts at distance communication with the help of Zoom, Teams and Skype meetings, among others. We had to “adapt or die” as they say.
To adapt and not die in this new normal, we need to change our approach to marketing and communications. This means that we need to adjust our resources, communication plans and our budget over the short- and long term. Our customers’ behaviours have changed dramatically as in-person meetings, events and workshops had to be revised and replaced with other channels to reach our potential customers.
For the companies that have made the leap before COVID-19 to digital environments and leaving traditional communication channels behind, riding through this pandemic storm was much easier than for others and minimised the disruption throughout their businesses. However, many companies, services and even sections in the entertainment industry that were not prepared for the shift, sadly did not make it past this pandemic.
If you are still willing to adapt and swing this boat around to higher ground, we can recommend a few strategies to consider when you are adjusting your communications and marketing plan:
With smartphones in almost every customer’s hands these days, your target audience can be reached by a click of a button, or rather by pressing play on a video.
Videos can be shared across multiple platforms, are easy to grasp and visually entertaining. Start off simple, use existing clips from your webinars or past event presentations and share them with your customers. Not only do you create awareness of your brand but, you also educate and provide trusted content to your audience.
There are various free video editing tools online to transform a modest five minute interview into a cost effective visual communication tool.
2. Webinars and Virtual Events
Even schools and Universities are now almost 100% dependent on webinars and virtual classrooms. So why should your company stay behind? This communication channel can never replace face-to-face interactions, but the recent boom in virtual platforms have created many opportunities to engage with other delegates - all in the safety of your home office.
3. Social Media
Communicating through social media platforms gives you the opportunity to engage with your target audience in more than one way.
4. Content Marketing
In an article titled “How To Positively Communicate With Your Audience Amidst A Pandemic”, Jagruti Bhargav, asked various marketers what content they create and post to their target market. The unanimous answer was content that is positive, hopeful, and helpful.
This is a good read as to learn how messages should be structured and filled with empathy, because we are in this together, helping each other - survive, grow and shine.
5. Lead Fostering
Stay in contact with your potential customers, especially during this period of economic adversity. Respect the threats to their lives and livelihoods that have altered their priorities and preferences.
This can be achieved by sharing thought leader content and other valuable information through previously paid for webinars and downloadable content.
Assure your potential consumers that your company’s values will remain unchanged, by clearly unpacking your values propositions.
For a further read on how other companies have adjusted their communication and marketing strategies and get inspiration to help your company adapt, rather than die, I recommend reading How business adapted - COVID-19 case studies by Derek du Preez.
Authored by: Stephné du Toit, Content Manager, At That Point
Do your marketing meetings usually include a discussion around how you should be doing more video on your social media platforms? Then a month goes by and you still haven’t managed to get a single video done? Like they say, procrastination is the thief of all things.
This is usually because the process of making a video seems like a daunting task to the average person. However, it does not have to be a difficult or expensive exercise, you can therefor stop hesitating and get started. The easiest way to do this is to start at the beginning and methodically work your way through the production process.
Here are some simple steps to get you going, and before you know it, it will become second nature.
Get your team around the table, and if you do not have a team, get some of your creative employees to form part of your brainstorming session.
Ask yourselves, what do we want to achieve? What are the actions we want to stem from this video? Who do we want to reach with our message? Here you must set a definitive aim, if you shoot too broadly, you are going to miss your target.
Now you can start writing, plan your setting and create a storyboard to plot the scenes or message points of you video.
Type of video
Depending on your message, you have to decide if you will be using an articulate person to convey the message, or if you would just like to use text to elevate your main points of your message. Either way, there are a lot of free stock image and video sites on the internet where you can source great visuals to support your message
Also make sure your speaker is prepped, relaxed and as natural as possible. Remember, the whole video does not have to be done in one shot. Keep your segments short, this will make it easy to cut and edit.
Plan your video set well in advance. Make sure to focus on the small things – those that can make or break your video, such as:
Round off with some editing
No, you do not have to be a professional to edit your video. There are a lot of free and easy movie editing software online. Make sure to cut the unwanted content, use transitions to switch between scenes and add a bit of background music to create your desired mood.
Do not forget to add your company logo and have a call to action at the end, even if you are just inviting your audience to visit your website for more information.
The most important thing to remember when you create and post social media video, is to keep it sweet and short. Your aim is not to make a blockbuster movie, but rather to give a targeted message to a specific audience regarding your services, product or business. You therefor best keep to a one- to two-minute video, at the most.
Then upload your video to your website or YouTube channel that you created for your business. From there, you can link back to your video by posting a short description and link onto your various social media platforms.
Remember practice makes perfect! If you just start and keep going you will soon wonder how you ever communicated to your audience without video.
Administrators on social media accounts often change due to employees moving on, changes in outsourced service providers, or the appointment of a dedicated inhouse resource.
Sometimes the handover of the social media account administration rights is a smooth process with lots of help, but other times it is surrounded by hostility for a variety of reasons. Whatever the circumstances of the administrator change, it's always a good idea to check a few settings before getting started with posting content and community engagement.
If I missed anything, please let me know in the comments section!
Getting started with promoting your business on social media is similar to starting on the journey to a healthy lifestyle.
You might be tempted to follow any number of quick-start plans and silver bullets that promise great results with little to no work. The only way to meaningful change is however through continued focused work and accepting that results might be slower than you hoped.
The good news for those willing to let go of comfortable habits is that once you get started, you’ll find that it’s really not that hard to stick to your resolutions.
Start with what you have
One of the most common mistakes when getting started is to focus too much on research and treatments and quick fixes, and not enough time doing the work needed. Waiting for a special date to start – like New Year or a product launch – and placing your trust in special tools only delays the inevitable. Starting with what you have and know, and learning as you progress is a much better idea.
Create a plan based on what you experience
It is not enough to just “do something” if you want to achieve long term results. While doing something is better than doing nothing, a comprehensive longer term plan will keep your efforts on track.
Start with a simple plan that specifies what you want to achieve, the tools and help you have available, and how often you can spend time on it. Keep in mind that regular, smaller activities have been shown to be more successful and easier to keep up.
Put in what you want to get out
To form new habits you need to take the change seriously. In the beginning you will need to think about it all the time so that nothing to distracts you from your goals. As new habits replace old ones it will become easier to add more challenging goals to your plan. Progress is completely up to you; what you put in will reflect in what you get out.
Choose your support system carefully
It will be a lot easier to achieve your goals if the people that surround you are positive and encouraging. Build a support system that allows you to ask questions and get experienced answers or sensible dialogue. If you decide to get someone dedicated to help you, make sure that the person really wants to help, and is not just doing it because it’s their job.
It’s easy to do something new when your enthusiasm is still high but old habits usually threaten to take over. When this happens, don’t give up. The process of change might be slow in the beginning, but it gets easier and quicker as you continue.
Together with your overall goal, set smaller short term goals, and celebrate those goals once you’ve achieved them. These small celebrations will for a long way in motivating you and those around to keep up the good work.
Don’t let go of your vision just because of a few (or a lot) of apparent failures. Remember that any progress towards your goals is building a solid foundation for a successful future.
If you’ve read anything about content marketing over the past two years, you would’ve noticed that the role and conversion success of video have increased exponentially.
A few of the most important statistics:
Producing a video for your business used to be an expensive affair involving numerous experts. These days, with digital developments and changed customer expectations, having a few relatively inexpensive tools can quickly set you on your way to joining the video revolution.
In exploring how to create videos that meet the expectations of our clients, and myself, I’ve learned that while the equipment isn’t as expensive anymore, there are still a few tips and tricks to keep in mind. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
When recording a face-to-camera message, make sure the interviewee has received and rehearsed the script well before the interview. Don’t rely on a teleprompter, cue cards or a rushed rehearsal on the day. A teleprompter or cue cards can help them remember the message, but viewers always notice when the message seems unfamiliar to the person delivering it on camera. Reading from a document with only a few glances at the recording equipment is of course a huge no-no.
Before you get started, explain the recording process to the interviewee. Warn them against habitual movements or expressions that could be distracting to viewers. Wringing hands, bouncing legs, saying “um” before every answer, or even sniffing, are a few examples. If the interviewee does fall into these habitual traps during the recording, allow them to finish their answer, then remind them of the habit, and redo the question and answer. It might be uncomfortable to point it out, but leaving it in the recording will result in viewers getting distracted, rather than focusing on the core message.
The interviewer has to brief spokesperson on how long final clip will be. This will help the interviewer to decide which pieces of information to relay, and which to leave out for the purpose of including the strongest message in the final clip.
Recording time will generally be much longer than clip, as the interviewee needs a chance to place information in context, and the interviewer needs to obtain enough information to be able to create a concise but fully representative story. Allow up to 60 minutes recording time for a final clip of 5 minutes.
If the interviewee is traveling to the recording space, he/she must add 30-40 minutes to their regular traveling time to allow for contigencies, finding the recording space, freshening up, getting their heart rate and breath back to normal, and having audio set up and tested.
The interviewer must guide the interviewee to give short, concise sound bytes summarising his/her point(s), rather than long statements including superfluous information. Interviewees tend to focus on formulating the best answer from the vast amount of knowledge they have. Interviewers should ensure that the most pertinent information can be included in short clips that can be used in a variety of video formats specified by the various social media platforms.
Have a glass of water available for the interviewee. Being on camera is stressful for most people, and they might experience an unusually dry mouth as a result.
Do not rely on overhead fixtures to provide lighting for the recording. Not only will it cast unflattering shadows on the interviewee’s face, but overhead lights rarely provide the amount of light needed for high quality video. If you don't have standalone video lights, find a large window (without blinds, curtains or burglar bars in front of it) and place the interviewee diagonally in front of it. Natural daylight filtered through a window is some of the best lighting for video.
In the setup used for TV interviews the camera and interviewee is positioned facing each other, with the interviewer seated to the side of camera. The interviewee doesn't look at the camera, but rather at the interviewer. For more direct messages, facing the camera is absolutely fine, but avoid the “boring talking head” syndrome.
Don’t stop and restart the camera after errors. Shoot continuously and edit the recording afterwards. If the interviewing pair needs to redo a bit, just let them pause for a view seconds before starting again; this will give the video editor enough room to edit out the flubs.
Record 5 second pauses between questions and answers, rather than having the interviewee answer the moment the question has been asked. During these pauses the interviewee needs to remain absolutely quiet and as still as possible. This will help the video editing process go a lot quicker and smoother.
Remind the interviewee to stay calm and speak slowly.
Avoid recording distracting background noises by warning everyone in the vicinity of the recording space that you are busy with a recording. Even through a closed door regular day-to-day activities like conversations in a hallway or cupboard doors closing can get picked up by microphones. Typing on a keyboard during an interview can also be picked up by microphones and create sound disturbances in the recording. If you need to take notes, try to do so the old fashioned way … with pen and paper.
Switch cellphones to airplane mode to ensure there are no electronic sound disturbances from either ringtones or signals on any wireless audio equipment.
Don't allow unnecessary people in the recording space as they might be a visual distraction to the person speaking.
If you’re interested in starting to create videos for your business, this blog post by The Visual Cube has an overview of the types of businesses that benefit the most from video marketing, and things to keep in mind when you get started.
If you need help with creating a short, sharp message to get your key points across, chat to us to see how we can help.
New Year's resolutions seem to have become the nerdy kid that everyone openly scoffs, but secretly admires.
Whether or not you subscribe to the habit of making and breaking (or keeping) resolutions at the beginning of each year, there is one resolution/change/focus/mantra that will help you to extend the relaxed feeling of the break you had over the holidays.
PR is known as one of the most stressful careers, and PR professionals are known for their type-A personalities and workalism. It is because of this combination that the effects of any holiday or break from work don't last very long.
The only resolution that makes sense for PR professionals is to CREATE HABITS NOW THAT WILL REDUCE FATIGUE LATER.
The habits each one of us need to create obviously depends on our job function and approach; mine need to focus on automisation and smart management of routine tasks, as those tend to steal my energy away from the things I'm good at.
Social media is a necessity for marketers, but usually takes a backseat as it is still viewed as a "nice to have" instead of one of the easiest and cheapest to tools to gain insight from target audiences.
Built-in functionality like Twitter's list feature and Facebook's native post scheduling functionality can go a long way to reduce the time spent managing social media platforms. Third-party apps are also a dime a dozen, and range from simple organising to full-scale intelligent curation and automatic sharing of content.
The lists mentioning these apps and tools are endless, but these are a few of my favourites:
For a few tips on how to still keep in touch with your audience while technology does the hard work for you, read this and this.
I am fortunate to work with a team that I can trust to take care of both our clients and our brand. Working with a team you CAN trust, and actually ACTING on that trust are two completely different things.
I've found the first step towards proper delegation is to ensure that your expectations have been clearly communicated and understood, and that the necessary training and testing has been allowed. And then, it's all a matter of trust, backing off, and guiding (instead of micro-managing, constantly checking and criticising).
Once you've delegated those things that sap your energy, you might not need a holiday in a hurry again.
Expand your horizons everyday through reading, listening, exercising, meeting with like-minded people (or those with opposing views) ... or just taking a break from the one-eyed monster sitting on your desk. Perspective lies outside the office walls, and problems viewed from an objective perspective tend to wither away before causing sleepless nights and stressed-out days.
Success is achieved through focus and consistency. We so easily fall into the trap of trying to be all things to all people, that saying no has become one of the most stressful activities of every day.
Once you have made a decision on what to focus on (whether is be in your private or professional life), a consistent effort in making decisions and accepting tasks that support the focus areas will soon lead to achieving success where most needed, leaving time and energy at the end of each day.
For those of us who holds jobs where multitasking is necessity, doing one thing at a time (and finishing it) is a great chellenge. I will however try very hard this year to do only one thing at a time, and finish it before moving on to the next item on the never-ending to-do list.
Are you brave enough to share the habits you need to create to extend the resting value of this past holiday? Leave me a list in the comment section below if you are!
A recent article by PR Daily highlighted the need for well-produced content that is of value for readers and listeners:
"What could kill public relations is not the content marketing itself, but increasing pressure from brands to pitch mediocre or bad content. Reporters, influencers, bloggers, and media channels are already swamped with a rising tide of bad content. Add aggressive pitching from PR professionals, and this will only make the situation worse while accelerating the degradation of the relationships between brands and their media sources."
PR vs content marketing
A decade ago companies could get away with overtly punting their marketing messages in editorial content. This has however changed rapidly to having to link content to relevant current affairs, and over the last year to having to produce the type of content that PR traditionalists weren't geared for.
Content marketing isn't just a fad that suddenly sprang to life one day. It is rather a response to consumer behaviour and purchasing influences that have changes significantly and organically over the past few years. The Content Marketing Institute and Huffington Post have done a great job of explaining what exactly content marketing is ... and isn't.
A South African perspective
Over the past five months we've approached a number of highly respected and seasoned media professionals across print, broadcast and online platforms. Except for a few key differences in their preferred formats of receiving content, they all said the number one rule of getting your story published is to NOT sell your product, service, company or CEO. Never. Ever. Not even a little bit.
(Thanks @DMJoubert, @peterndoro, and @riaanw for your time and insights.)
Gone are the days of sending marketing message heavy press releases via email, phoning a few of the special numbers from the proverbial little black book, and generating masses of publicity measured by old fashioned AVE standards.
The PR industry must now create great content that can be used across a multitude of platforms and that adds value from a recipient point of view, not from a company/client point of view.