Facebook ‘Bumping’

Facebook is starting to roll out a new algorithm that dictates what appears at the top of your news feed. It’s called ‘Story Bumping’ and it means that older posts will be ‘bumped’ to the top of your feed depending on their relevance.

For those of you who have had enough of seeing the same post promoting a product you don’t care for, by a brand you’ve never heard of, in a product category you want nothing to do with, this might be Facebook’s saving grace.

The Facebook newsfeed will begin prioritising posts that are ‘new to you’ rather than just posts with thousands of likes. Facebook’s new formula will favour unseen posts with more likes and comments from friends who you have interacted with most recently. The result is that newer and more relevant content will be appearing higher up on your feed.

This means as a user, you will no longer have to wade through the murky waters of promoted content and posts of acquaintance’s children to see if there was any new content from your closest friends and favourite pages.

While it is currently unclear what this means for brands that promote their posts, it does mean that non-promoted posts will garner more attention and engagement with an audience that cares about them.

According to Advertising Age, “Facebook claims that engagement for posts from “pages” – which could be from a brand, an organization, or a public figure – were up 8%.”

We think story bumping is a great step forward for Facebook and we’re excited to see what new content pops up in our newsfeed from friends and brands alike.

Also, remember to hop onto the Stolen Quotes Facebook page if you’re a fan of memorable quotes, PR and advertising, and street style photography.

Contributor:

Jason Gieng, Designer for Stolen Quotes.

Does the Public Relations Industry Suffer From Bad PR?

“And what do you do for a living, Sarah?”

“I work in Public Relations”

“Oh … Okay. You don’t really seem like the PR type.”

I’ve had this conversation a few times since I started working in the PR industry a year ago. For many people, when they think “PR” they imagine huge ‘Gatsby-like’ launch parties, celebrity gossip columns and fashion events. Some people even think my job is to write spin stories for politicians caught in sex scandals. For an industry that sells reputation management as a valuable service, still maintaining this stereotype isn’t great news.

I’ll be honest with you, PR was never a career path that interested me. I had my first taste of the PR stereotype when I was at university. I studied Advertising and shared many of my classes with people who were also studying PR. While I am sure there were many great, talented and intelligent PR students in my class, my judgment was clouded by loud and overly opinionated girls who were interested in building their careers around parties, celebrities and fashion – none of which I particularly cared for. That’s why people seem surprised to hear someone like me can work in PR – and actually enjoy it.

The general stereotype of public relations has devalued the industry. I see many businesses from prosperous industries such as mining and industrial or financial fail to understand the value of including public relations in their marketing strategy. And why would they include it? How would Fitzy and Wippa hosting their event help them with their reputation?

Over the past year working in a PR firm, “parties, celebrities and fashion” are barely mentioned. I have found PR to be quite exciting – it’s strategic, daring and even creative. PR is all about finding relationships between a brand and its audience and creating credible and engaging content that helps build and maintain these relationships. In fact, this blog that I am writing is part of a larger, comprehensive PR strategy.

I’ve seen some great PR work from brands over the past couple of years. Check out Dove, Oreo and even Rekordelig for some examples.

So, how will the PR industry ever be able to break free from its air-kissing, skinny-caramel-latte-drinking, celebrity-loving reputation?

In my opinion – just keep doing great work. If we spend our time ignoring the stereoptye and keep producing great results – it will only be a matter of time before the rest follow.

Contributor:

Sarah Brown, Account Coordinator for Stolen Quotes.

Events 101

We recently hosted the second annual Christmas In July event for Michael Field Pty Ltd with great success. Our secret to hosting a show stopping event starts with the four ‘P’s of event management:

1. The Plan

The first key step is to determine the objective of your event. What do you want to achieve? Are you after brand exposure? Enquiry generation? Networking? With this in mind, formulate a plan for how to achieve it. It’s important to have a clear purpose – without a well-defined objective, you may end up paying a hefty sum for no real reason. Even Jay Gatsby had a reason for all of those grand, lavish parties he held seemingly meaninglessly.

2. The People

This might seem like an obvious statement, but make sure you know everyone that will be involved, from your own staff to attendees. Make sure your team knows exactly what they are doing, when they are doing it, where it’s being done and who they are working with. Also ensure your invite list is succinct and appropriate for your event – you wouldn’t want to invite a brand ambassador for PETA to the launch event for your steakhouse.

3. The Place

We aren’t selling property, but the importance we place on the event location might fool you enough to think so. Select a venue that’s the right size and that will provide the right environment and ambience for the type of event you want to hold. Make sure it’s easy to locate and close to various forms of transportation. If everyone feels comfortable and welcome, you’ve made a home for these people for the night, and they will be extremely grateful.

4. The Provisions

An attendee who is well fed, well watered and well gifted is an attendee who will have nothing but raving reviews about your event, your team and your company. Ensure you cater for all different dietary requirements, that everybody’s glass is always full and that guests leave with a handful of ‘remember-me-by’s.

Of course, these four ‘P’s are just the beginning of a successful event. If you’d like to learn more, feel free to get in touch to find out how we can help you out with the rest.

Contributor:

Jason Gieng, Designer for Stolen Quotes.

How ‘social’ is social media?

If I’m at a bar and I don’t check-in, was I ever at the bar?

Okay that was a joke question, but it highlights an interesting concept around the way social media affects the way we socialise today.

According to recent statistics, the average Australian person spends around 13 hours a week on social media. If we assume that most of us don’t spend our working hours on social media and we don’t include the time we are asleep, we are spending a large proportion of our free time scrolling through our news feed, updating our status and Tweeting to the world.

Don’t get me wrong, I love social media, it’s a huge part of the industry I work in and using social media is an essential part of my job. I spend a good chunk of my working day on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. While I love feeling connected and building relationships through social media, I have to wonder what I miss out on when I completely disengage from my physical surroundings.

When I think about some of the stand out moments of my life – travelling, seeing my favourite band in concert and my 21st birthday, I disengaged from all these moments to reconnect with my online social network. On my birthday, I spent time checking in and taking photos. When I saw my favourite band, I filmed my favourite song and uploaded it to Facebook straight away. When I travelled, I took hundreds of selfies in front of famous icons and put them on Instagram. The scariest (and somewhat embarrassing) truth to the travel photos is that I didn’t take them so they could be treasured memories of my trip – I took them because I know travel photos get a lot of ‘likes’.

So here are some questions for consideration:

  • Has our social media started to dictate our social lives?
  • Does appearing to have a good time mean more than actually having a good time?

Whether we like to admit it or not, I’m sure many of us answered yes to these questions, myself included.

This month the Stolen Quotes team is trialing #LowFiJuly. We are all putting away our mobile phones at lunches, work drinks, networking events and pretty much any social outing. (Ironically we’ve made #LowFiJuly a hashtag – we only tweet about it after lunch, we swear!) So far we’ve all done extremely well and I feel personally more connected and engaged in the lives of my colleagues. It actually feels like a weight has been lifted because I no longer obsessively scan my news feed while trying to tell the team about my weekend plans. Who knows, #LowFiJuly might stick around for August.

Contributor:

Sarah Brown, Account Coordinator for Stolen Quotes.

A moment of thanks

Before I start this post, I want to thank you, reader, for clicking through. No, really. There are a million other things you could be doing with your time right now, but you have chosen to read what I have written. For that, I am thankful.

A couple of years ago, a close family member of mine got really sick. It was one of those ‘why is this happening to me’ moments where it seems like the world is out to get you, and everything is falling apart.

In moments like those, it is easy to indulge yourself with selfish, negative thoughts. Luckily, my family received a glowing light at the end of a dark tunnel. Today, I am extremely thankful for the experience as it taught me a number of lessons; namely, we should practice being thankful much more than we usually do.

What it comes down to is appreciating life and all it offers before receiving that wake up call. It doesn’t take much effort to show appreciation – be that appreciation for your home life, your amazing friendships or the great client project you are currently working on.

Volunteering for Make A Wish Australia has enforced the thinking that there is always someone worse off than you. These seriously ill children, some who have been in a small hospital room for over a year, show immense gratitude over the smallest gestures – like bringing them balloons or chatting to them about their dreams.

With that in mind, our business has decided to send a thank you card a day to people or organisations that have positively affected us in some way. Often we forget to sit back and appreciate the opportunities we are given and the experiences we are lucky enough to have. Forcing a moment a day to sit in gratitude and really feel thankful is a magnificent habit to get into, and will only progress your life on all levels – be it personal relationships, family life or career.

What are you thankful for today?

Contributor:

Hollie Azzopardi, Account Manager for Stolen Quotes.

The evolution of language on digital media platforms

The title of this blog post makes it sound like you’re about to read an essay reminiscent of a University media studies assessment – fear not reader, I would never put you through such torture.

What this post is going to explore is the evolution of language (as in how we speak and what we write) as technology evolves.

I’ll give you an example. Today it’s all about brevity. As in “This pic is totes amaze babe, you should defs wear that more ofts.” (Ofts stands for often. I made that one up.)

Today we are cutting words in half and adding an ‘s’ on the end. To be honest, I don’t have much of a problem with this. Give it a year, and we will probably cringe when someone says totes, the way we do now when someone types “nomnomnom” on a food post (or is that just me?)

Flash back to the dawn of the Internet and instant messaging (yes, even before the MSN days) and emoticons were taking the written world by storm. Who would have thought adding a semi-colon and a closed bracket at the end of a sentence would insinuate a flirtation? But now, we don’t bat an eyelid (or should I say, comma!)

From emoticons, language evolved into acronyms. LOL. BRB. ROFL. It was all about the speed of a message – conveying something at the click of your fingers. In fact, it still is! With this in mind, we saw the replacement of words with letters, numbers and sometimes the combination of both. See became ‘c’. You became ‘u’. Mate – m8. U c where I’m going with this?

(That being said, some people got a little too excited about the ‘replacement rule’, resorting to crazy written antics like replacing an ‘s’ with a ‘z’. This doesn’t abbreviate anything, so why oh why do we accept ‘thankz’ as ‘thanks’? I’m sorry, I digress…)

Linguist John McWhorter goes into much more detail in a brilliant TED Talks video exploring ‘texting’ as a language in itself. He refers to what we’re doing as ‘fingered speech’ or ‘writing like we speak’. The best news? He doesn’t see this as a bad thing.

In fact, he goes so far as to say that, when being able to use casual speech via texting and online, as well as writing full, proper sentences in appropriate situations (like work or school) we are practicing bi-dialectal skills, and are even expanding our linguistic repertoire.

How totes amaze is that?

(N.B: This makes no exception for those that use ‘his’ instead of ‘he’s’.)

Contributor:

Hollie Azzopardi, Account Manager for Stolen Quotes.

Dealing with social media trolls

All brands on social media should have a comprehensive crisis management plan in the event of a social media firestorm. But how do you deal with a one-off internet troll? While having one person ‘trolling’ your brand isn’t a huge deal in the big scheme of things, if handled incorrectly, it can blow up into a PR disaster.

Step 1. Identifying a troll

Aside from their huge noses and ugly teeth, trolls are normally the people posting inflammatory comments for the purpose of their own amusement. They are the ones purposefully making life difficult – they point out grammatical errors (which you shouldn’t have to begin with; it’s reputation damaging in itself), they make up stories about your brand and they use provocative, sometimes offensive language to get a reaction. It can sometimes be hard differentiating between an internet troll and a customer with a legitimate concern or complaint about your brand. If you are unsure, ALWAYS handle the situation as though the customer is legitimate.

Step 2. Don’t feed the troll

While sometimes it’s tempting to tell the troll where they can shove their comment, never respond to poison with poison. Trolls feed off heated reaction and eat negativity for dessert. There is a recent case where two Arizona restaurateurs got the boot from Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares. After the episode aired, they received a number of disgruntled and trolling comments on their Facebook page. Their reaction was every trolls dream – calling their fans ‘haters’ and telling them all to go “F” themselves. I don’t think I even need to explain where they went wrong. Boy do those guys need a publicist.

The thing to remember with social media is that everyone loves to watch a good fight. Let’s just be honest here, we have all witnessed (and indulged in) a massive argument on Facebook, sometimes spending hours watching it unfold. Trolling is the same with brands – you have more eyes on you than you realise and people are waiting for you to bite back. Don’t.

Step 3. Catch them off guard

Different businesses have different rules for this, but normally as soon as a troll is identified they get deleted straight away. However if the troll hasn’t used offensive or threatening language, deleting them might be more noticeable than just ignoring them.

If you can’t ignore them, always respond with respect, humour and grace. Thank the troll for their ‘insight’ and if you’re feeling it, give them a compliment and throw in your own joke. Trolls aren’t the brightest creatures – this will probably confuse them and they’ll go and bother someone else.

In a recent AdNews article, Guy Kawasaki suggests that if you do engage with a troll, leave it to a three round limit. “Somebody tosses the coin, that’s round one. You respond – that’s round two. They respond. That’s round three,”.

Step 4. Think of a troll as an opportunity

Just remember, trolls present you with the situation to create a positive brand experience. How you handle a troll situation can speak a lot of your company’s values and personality. Be respectful, kind and humorous and you’ll notice trolls won’t find you fun to play with anymore.

Contributor:

Sarah Brown, Account Coordinator for Stolen Quotes.

The power of social media in Turkey.

In a recent blog post, we discussed the current state of the journalism industry in Australia, whereby freedom of press was being challenged and comprised. A current talking point regarding freedom of the press surrounds the state of the media in Turkey.

Stemming from a peaceful protest in Istanbul’s Gezi park and the police brutality that occurred as a result of the protest, locals were shocked that there was absolutely no media that covered the event.

In the meantime the protest multiplied and suddenly it was no longer about the demolition of the park, it was a protest against the government and police brutality. Riot police arrived and set fire to tents, used water cannons and tear gas. The people of Turkey responded in kind. Police placed jammers to prevent internet connection around the square, ensuring 3G networks were blocked for people in the area. Two people died and thousands more were injured. Still, there was silence from the media.

While the rest of the world rushed to Taksim Square to broadcast the events, Turskish television was showing cooking shows and broadcasting news updates on “Miss Turkey”. Turskish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered a complete media blackout of the event. In fact, this isn’t the first time press freedom has been comprised in Turkey. Human rights groups have repeatedly expressed their concerns for their lack of freedom of press. It is only now that the rest of the world is seeing how repressed the citizens of Turkey are.

Even with no local media coverage, thousands of people showed up to protest. Many Turkish citizens took to social media to spread word of what was happening. Social media became a vital organisational and informational tool. People took to Facebook and Twitter, and set up blogs to document the protest. The hashtags #direngezipark1 and #occupygezi went completely viral on the Twitterverse. According to a study from New York University, on 1 June there were more than 3,000 tweets about the protest every minute – 90% coming from Turkey itself.

Erdogan expressed his frustration with not being able to control the backlash on social media by stating “right now, of course, there is a curse called Twitter…all forms of lies are there,”. Ironically, Erdogan has more than 2.7 million followers on Twitter. Somebody should have told him that when you try and silence the people, they will shout louder…especially on Twitter.

Contributor:

Sarah Brown, Account Coordinator for Stolen Quotes.

Why a great PR campaign is like a pop song.

This is going to be one of those blog posts that you shouldn’t judge by its title. Or maybe you should, depending on whether you’re a fan of pop music or not.

It dawned on me over the weekend, as I was treating myself to a nineties-music marathon (think Backstreet Boys, N’Sync and Hanson…I am not ashamed), that there a number of similarities between a catchy, cheesy pop song and a successful PR campaign.

Don’t see where I’m going with this? Let me break it down for you.

Verse One: The Media Plan

Pick your favourite pop song. Now, sing the very first verse (in your head, preferably). What does it tell you? More often than not, it sets the scene. You are able to pick up on the direction of the song – it’s theme, genre, whether Pitbull is likely to make an appearance…the list goes on.

A great media plan should do the same thing. It should give enough context into the particular campaign – the strategy, outputs and measurements – without challenging War and Peace. A good media plan is clear, catchy and concise.

The Bridge: The Strategic Objective

The bridge is the repetitive part of the song that comes right before the chorus.

The bridge is generally the song’s underlying theme. You won’t be able to quite put your finger on it, but if the bridge isn’t there in the song, it just doesn’t sound right. The bridge brings the song together.

In a good PR campaign, this is the strategic direction of the campaign. Great PR is nothing without strategy. Take strategy away, and you have an empty campaign.

The Chorus: Key Messaging

Choruses are all about repetition. In a good pop song the chorus is catchy, and makes you want to sing along (Mmm Bop anyone?). It takes the bridge to the next level, and expresses the artist’s key purpose for singing the song in the first place.

This is your key messaging. Key messaging is the lifeblood of a great PR campaign. If you don’t have your key messaging organised, you don’t have a story. If you don’t have a story, you definitely don’t have an audience!

A great chorus is what makes the song. Key messaging is what makes the PR campaign. The clearer and catchier you make your key messaging, the more likely a journalist or your target audience will take interest in what you have to say.

Verse Two: Implementation

Verse Two is all about supporting the song. Without Verse Two, the song ends too quickly and listeners lose interest. A great Verse Two progresses the themes in Verse One, and leads into the bridge and second chorus.

This is campaign implementation. It could be a simple press release, or you could be managing a giant experiential marketing campaign. To be successful, the implementation must support the media plan and strategic direction, and be backed up by the key messaging. Now’s the time to bring out the ‘lalalas’ (promotional activity), high notes (growth in online presence) and maybe even a guitar solo (activation or launch event).

Song Ends: ROI

Before the end of a song, there will probably be the repeat of the bridge and chorus at least once before the singer trails off with their ‘ooohs’ and ‘ahhhs’. (In the context of great PR, this is constant referencing of the strategic objective and key messaging.)

Good pop songs leave you wanting more. They stick in your head and make you want to sing them at the next office karaoke night.

A good PR campaign will do the same. If projected ROI is met, the campaign leaves the client singing your praises and asking for an encore. The target audience will be humming along to your tune and journalists will be belting out your song to anyone who listens.

Now, and only now, is the time to take your bow.

Contributor:

Hollie Azzopardi, Account Manager for Stolen Quotes.

Freedom of Press

Under the Journalism Code of Ethics set by the Journalists Union in Australia, there is one code above all that journalists view as most sacred “Where confidences are accepted, respect them in all circumstances.”

This code has been challenged consistently over time and still remains a topic of interest in the industry. Journalist protection has often been comprised by what appears to be overriding public interest, such as law enforcement, national security or commercial confidentiality.

We’ve seen journalists so adamant in protecting the confidentiality of their sources that they have served prison time. One of the most famous cases was in 1972 a reporter for the Los Angeles Times spent six weeks in gaol for refusing to identify confidential sources in an article he wrote during the Charles Manson murder trial.

Even today Fairfax’s Adele Ferguson, the author of the book about mining tycoon Gina Rinehart, is being taken to court by Rinehart in an attempt to force Ferguson to name her sources.

The impact this will have on the industry is massive. The quality and quantity of great stories could drop considerably if people stopped coming forward with information in fear of having their identity revealed. Consequently, journalists wouldn’t be able to report on important stories that the public deserve to know.

We love the exciting world of journalism that challenges governments, people and corporations, reporting on stories that confront us and test what we already know and believe. We respect and fully support journalists who act ethically and responsibility and wish them nothing but luck and support during this challenging time.

Contributor:

Sarah Brown, Account Coordinator for Stolen Quotes.