Tag Archives: Public Relations

Surviving the “Post-Truth” Era

A lot has changed in the past year, especially in the media industry and the world of public relations. We were already seeing a downward trend with the public trusting the media, but after the 2016 election we hit a new low. We are now overly familiar with new terms like “fake news” and “alternative facts.” We are living in what feels like the “post-truth” era. This is going to be a challenge for the media industry and everyone working in the world of public relations.

I personally believe this all started with the 24-hour news channels and news becoming a form of entertainment. The public craved the information and enjoyed the news being portrayed in an entertaining style. The problem was that as the channels started to multiply, they went to greater extremes to be entertaining, and they lost their real purpose. The real news, and supporting facts, got lost along the way.

I was at a luncheon a few weeks ago, where local media members discussed best practices for public relations professionals. They also discussed things they hate to see from public relations professionals and strategies that work to get their attention. At one point the conversation turned to the new normal in the world of media, the “post-truth” era. The conversation got me thinking. There are some easy changes that need to be made to get us back to being a society that trusts journalists and the media industry.

  1. Local media will be the leader. To get through this age of distrust between the pubic and the media the local media will need to step up and become the leader. They will need to do this by sharing more local stories, focusing on the facts, having good sources, getting it right every time, and limiting the editorialization of the news. We don’t need to know the anchor’s opinion about how the flood was handled by city officials. We just need to know that the flood was handled and there are future plans for flooding. Local reporters and media personalities are the key to turning this around. We know our local media personalities, we see them around town, so we are more likely to trust them.
  2. Journalists needs to check their sources and stop speculating. Journalists need to make sure they use good sources and that they don’t speculate. When they speculate, people start to perceive a situation is going a certain direction, then that perception becomes a fake reality. I can’t tell you how many times I will watch breaking news and the anchors are just flapping their lips speculating at the situation. They are just trying to fill time and live through the broadcast, but they really don’t know enough of the story to be live for that length of time. They also tend to be wrong when they speculate. The viewers or listeners take their word as fact and the inaccuracies are then spread creating fake news.
  3. The social media lynch mob needs to get their facts straight. I would like to propose a new rule… if it sounds too good, or too crazy, or too bad to be true, look for additional sources before you like or share posts on social media. Also, question the news source posting the information. Are they a real news source or are they questionable?
    PS – Yesterday a UFO landed in Reno and the aliens inside went to the Oscars party. They literally danced and drank so much they caught the dance floor on fire. Feel free to share this blog post. We need the world to know that aliens enjoy the Oscars as much as we do. It must be true… because you read it on the internet.
  4. Let’s stick to the facts. Reporters need to get back to basics. Give us the facts, that is all we want. No need to speculate, editorialize, or let us know your opinion. You are talented and have a very important role in the world. You are the truth tellers and the record keepers. Please make sure only the facts make it into our records. We need good journalists more than ever.

The media industry has lost its credibility. If changes are made in professional practices, we should see improvements in news that is reported and hopefully we will experience a new “trust-era”. I hope local media leaders and reporters will rise to the occasion and take back the news. Let’s hope for less journalism fails in 2017.

Click here to see some of the best news failures.
Warning: This may make you laugh, or cry.

news-fail-the-slightly-warped-website

Photo by: Slightly Warped Website http://slightlywarped.com/television-news-fails/

What do you think about the “post-truth” era? Is there any hope for us? Please comment below.


Six Tips to Inspire Customer Created Content

Incorporating customers in your event marketing is a great way to add creative content to your event marketing plan. When a customer snaps a picture at your event and shares it on social media it gives your special event credibility and social proof, which is essentially the customer’s stamp of approval.  Like earned media, this is incredibly valuable. Customers can influence leads and future interactions, so embrace the content they create. This is especially important for attracting millennial customers since they value social proof more than most generations.

Human nature makes us social beings. Naturally people like being recognized, it is a powerful motivator. You can use this as motivation to encourage customers to create content to promote your special event. Why would they create content to help you? Because people are inherently good and want to be helpful, but you need to make it easy for them.  Customers are a great resource! Embrace the pictures and video they share on social media and try to incorporate the material into your marketing strategy.

Tips to Inspire Customer Created Content:

  1. Invite fans to create content. Ask them to take and post photos on social media accounts using a specific hashtag. Then you can search that hashtag and find customer created content to reshare on your social media channels. Make sure to thank the customer and give shout outs for their content. Ask fans of your special event to contribute pictures and images to your event social media platforms.

    5-23-16 brews & boos

    Photo Credit: Instagram

  2. Share the best of the best. Share what makes customers proud. Look for entertaining, educational, fun, enlighten and engaging content posted by your fans. Share anything that you think will make your other fans laugh or smile.

    5-23-16 - share

    Photo Credit: Twitter

  3. Tag them! Post customer content and then tag the customer with a thank you message. Encourage customers to tag themselves. Share content from influencers and make sure to show appreciation for their work. There are a few local photographers that have taken photos at the events I produce, I try to make sure to reshare their content and give them shout-outs for their work. They do a fabulous job capturing special moments at the event that should be shared.

    5-23-16 Tag

    Photo Credit: Facebook

  4. Produce contests that allow customers to pick their favorite posts from other customers. Offer prizes and keep the positive energy for your event flowing year-round. Encourage fans to enter contests by sharing their favorite features of the event and then see what kind of amazing content they come up with.
    5-23-16 - SSS Instagram
  5. Offer fun onsite photo opportunities. Whether it is a photo booth or something people just can’t help take their picture in front of, try to find fun onsite photo opportunities. A few years ago we added a new welcome sign to the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off. I thought it was a great welcome sign, but I was shocked by how many people took their picture in front of it and posted it on social media.

    5-23-16 - Ribs Sign

    Photo Credit: Instagram

  6. Share real time live content. If you have the manpower during your special event monitor social media and hashtags that relate to your event for customer content. Share customer content and engage customers in real time. It adds a fun element to special events, especially any event where there is a guest speaker.
5-23-16 Directions

Photo Credit: Twitter

It is easy to include fans in content creation marketing if you make it a priority. The benefits of customer created content are enormous. Use customer content to engage with fans and listen to what excites them about your special event. Practice these tips to prove to fans that their opinions count and to embrace customer created content to promote your special event.

Like what you’ve seen? Subscribe to Mad About Events Blog by adding your email address to the form on the right. You’ll be the first to read about local events and get behind-scenes-stories about being an event professional.


Making Lemonade out of Smoke

Photo Credit: http://www.photl.com

Every summer smoke from California wildfires causes hazy conditions in Reno. The smoke reduces visibility and has a serious impact on Northern Nevada’s air quality. This is a common problem during the summer months when wildfires are most prevalent. The smoke rolled in this weekend and it put a damper on the Reno Balloon Races special event on Sunday. This reminded me of the 2013 Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off when the whole valley was covered in smoke and there was little visibility because of the poor air quality. We were afraid it would wreck our event, but we made it through and learned these valuable lessons.

1. Pay Attention
Looking back at the 2013 event I wish I had watched the weather patterns closer and paid more attention to the news about the wildfires. We took a lets pray and see how it goes attitude. In hindsight I wish we would have paid more attention leading up to the event and been more proactive, especially with our communication with the public about event contingency plans and how we planned on continuing even if the smoke hurt air quality in Reno.

2. Over Communicate
The news didn’t do us any favors, that is for sure! During the event local news kept telling viewers to stay inside and avoid smoke. They didn’t have one expert on to scientifically discuss how the smoke would affect viewers, they just said stay inside, don’t go outside. Period. Then it got worse. The news in Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay area started announcing the Rib Cook-Off was canceled due to the smoke and the fires. This was not true. We had hotel guests calling upset we canceled the event and received several nasty emails. As soon as we calmed the guests down we started reaching out to the media to let them know the event wasn’t canceled and that we wouldn’t cancel the event no matter what happened with the smoke and the weather. It was very challenging to get them to run corrections and share the correct information. In hindsight we should have been more proactive and sent out several press releases right away and increased our social media activity to let everyone know the event was going on as planned.

RibSmoke2013-1

Photo Credit: RGJ.com

3. Make Lemonade
The first day of Rib Cook-Off 2013 our beverage sales were up 12%. I’m not sure if it was because the smoke made people want to drink more, or if attendance was up in general that day but we used this information to make lemonade out of lemons. We knew we needed some positive press to encourage people to attend the event in the smoky conditions. We looked at the event financial results after the first night (as we always do) and we realized they were great! We sent a press release announcing our record sales and that was newsworthy. Right away our local media gave the event positive coverage and shared the economic impact the event has on the community. Our community takes pride in special events and their great economic indicators. We make lemonade out of lemons, and so does the whole community.

Nugget Casino Resort Rib Cook-Off - August 2013

Nugget Casino Resort Rib Cook-Off – August 2013

4. Keep up the Good Fight
One of the biggest lessons I learned from this was don’t give up. When the media is out there with bad information you need to keep fighting to get the accurate information out there. Half of the event attendees come from California, that is a few hundred thousand visits to the event. We needed to fight to get the information out there that no matter what happened with the smoke from the wildfires the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off would still be there for our attendees. Our team did a great job fighting to get accurate information to California media outlets. Our fearless PR Manager, Lauren Garber, wouldn’t give up until she got through, she kept fighting because it was the right thing to do.

5. Adapt
When you plan special events things will happen that are outside your control. Mother Nature loves to torment event planners. It is important to adapt to whatever is thrown at you when you are an event planning professional. It isn’t always pleasant, but you need to look at the threats that might hurt your event and find ways to adapt and work around the threats. A good event planner can adjust so quickly and gracefully that most guests won’t even realize there was a problem.

I learned many valuable lessons during the 2013 Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off. Even though at the time it was extremely challenging, I’m grateful for the lessons I learned and hopefully this will help other event planners think about these types of challenges and adapt quickly. Wildfire smoke and other natural events are out of your control, but you can control the way you respond and adapt.

Additional Reading:

Smoke, new layout not expected to dampen Nugget Rib Cook-Off in Sparks – RGJ Article

Looking Back at the Rib Cook-Off – Sparks Tribune Article


Don’t Underestimate the Value of Local Media

Today we had a funny discussion about marketing in my office. Our Millennial Financial Analyst was asking why we buy so many 5 second ID spots on our local TV news programing. I said “Duh, that is where our clients are!” He looked at me like I was crazy. So my coworker and I told him why we are big fans of local media.

First of all, you have to ask who the customers are. I work in Gaming, my customers are usually 45+ and they tend to watch the local morning and evening news. Of course the Millennial didn’t get it, he was born into a different generation of technology than our average customer. He probably doesn’t know when the news is on even if he wants to watch it. The Millennial doesn’t listen to local radio or watch local TV, but you know what else, he doesn’t gamble! Most in the Millennial generation don’t gamble, at least not yet. So he isn’t our target market.

We buy advertising with local media as much as our budget allows. We have been very successful in marketing our entertainment and special events with traditional media advertising. We also buy online advertising and participate in social media, but it is much easier to get feedback from the traditional avenues of advertising.

In addition, we need local media. They are a great resource and the only media that truly cares what is going on in the Biggest Little City. The reporters are our neighbors, and they cover our special events and are customers at our businesses. We need local media to make our community a great place to live.

KOLOGoodMorningReno

Image Credit: KOLO 8 Good Morning Reno

Local media is fantastic for promoting special events. They have been good to me over the years as an event producer. Every time I do an interview on a local TV station or even local radio I get feedback from friends and family that they saw or heard my interview. Last time I was on KOLO Channel 8’s Good Morning Reno show at 5:45am to promote an event my phone starting ringing instantly with friends calling and texting to tell me they saw my interview. Disclosure: Link is not to my interview but another event they covered recently at the Nugget.

Also keep in mind how important local media is when you are buying advertising. We support local media and they support us. New media is great, but if you are an event planner or a small business don’t forget about traditional local media. I’m thankful for local media and the opportunities they provide for us to promote special events.

Like what you’ve seen? Subscribe to Mad About Events Blog by adding your email address to the form on the right. You’ll be the first to read about local events and get behind-scenes-stories from event professionals.

Related Posts:
Brew HaHa Interview Mashup


%d bloggers like this: