Digital Marketing

  • Digital PR in a New Tech World – An Interview with Michele Snyder

    By Ariana Revelas of Bentley University, PRSA Boston’s Faculty Forum student correspondent

     Michele Snyder is Director of Communications at Maimonides School, a private Jewish Modern Orthodox school, in Brookline. Michele is also on the Board of the Public Relations Society of America’s Boston chapter and serves as Co-chair of the Program Committee.

    I interviewed Michele so I could learn about strategic digital communications from a professional who was not born in the midst of today’s technology, but has successfully learned to master technology in her career.

    Michele graduated from the University of Maryland in 1983, the same time she first saw a computer video display terminal—a typewriter with a screen! After college, Michele worked in radio and TV marketing and communications in addition to non-profit PR. Today, Michele is responsible for all communications at Maimonides, including employee communications and external communications with parents of students at the school. Her duties include: writing e-newsletters, managing all social media channels, and producing school videos.

    How is the proliferation of digital media impacting your PR job?

    I had to learn about it along the way with hands-on learning and by taking classes. It adds a huge element of “how do I reach people, because I have to be able to.” I learned how to use certain platforms and researched what messaging would be right for certain audiences. I have learned a lot by talking to other communications professionals and by reading about digital media. I also have a mentor who is a communications consultant, which has been very beneficial.

    What skills and expertise are needed from you now that were not needed 10-15 years ago? 

    It requires openness to learn, time to follow other professionals and influencers, and see what they’re doing, and a level of understanding of analytics such as interpreting statistics with a PR lens. PR used to be just gut feelings on what content people may want to see, rather than research, but now it requires skills and understanding of data.

    Measuring the impact of communications is getting much more intricate and it’s constantly changing. Joining professional organizations helps professionals from straying outside of their little bubbles and allows them to learn from others who have experience in data analytics.

    How do you handle earned/owned/paid media strategy and SEO strategy alongside traditional PR such as building trusted partnerships, or does someone else in your workplace handle each of these separately?  

    I handle all communications at Maimonides, which is typical in a school setting. Working with traditional media is still very important in building relationships. Authenticity is essential with media or internal management. SEO strategy is one aspect that I am not familiar with yet, but it’s on my radar. As for mastering earned, owned and paid media strategy and execution, I have a great mentor who helps me. It involves looking at analytics, which is exciting and does not overwhelm me! It is so important to ask for help when you need it. It is also helpful to have an understanding of HTML.

    What digital communications projects are you proud of?

    I did a month-long campaign in March for Maimonides. I featured many photos on social media to show parents what it is like to be at school. I focused on consistency of the brand. I received feedback along the way and I’m very proud of the campaign. In terms of increased engagement, during the campaign month and 28 days of engaged use, the daily total reach increased by 31% versus the following non-campaign month. I also love the Instagram stories that I feature on the school’s page. I take photos, videos, and time lapses to tell a story through the day.

     

  • April 4th Preview: Cannabis Entrepreneur Rob Toof On Leading MA’s Newest Beverage Category

    As co-founder of Altatude Beverage Company, Rob Toof has now traveled the entrepreneurial continuum full-circle with his first investor-supported venture. Rooted in product development and sales, he has worked on the front lines of word of mouth / influencer campaigns (BzzAgent), funding performance (NextGen Venture Partners), building and selling his online education platform to a fortune 500 company (Pearson) and marquee special event planning (The Boston Cup). Just back from an international sales trip, Loring Barnes caught up with him after his latest Logan touchdown to talk about the role of deliberate communications to support the launch of a new cannabis brand and what being a trailblazer requires of a business owner.

    Q. So I’m going to jump right into the deep end: the Wall Street Journal has declared cannabis beverages as “tasting terrible,” with such yummy flavor descriptions as “hints of dirty socks,” a “gross aftertaste” like “dish soap and urine.” Ouch! How do you overcome such caustic critiques to distinguish your brand as being something familiar or appealing and get people to actually track it down and try it? 

    Before I started the business I went from LA to Vancouver with my attorney (him driving), trying and ranking every cannabis beverage we could get our hands; judging them based on taste, dosage, price and packaging. Out of 60 different beverages we tried, for taste five were good, the remaining were undrinkable swill. Why? Beverages are hard to produce and they are at a higher risk of contamination because they’re always wet. It’s highly possible many of the samples we tried were filled with microbials due to lack of preservatives or food science.

    Alta is a line of beverages formulated to mask and accentuate specific cannabis flavors and aromas while also enhancing the effects. With sophisticated flavors that are unique yet familiar, Alta moves beyond beverages to deliver a “reefined” experience for the discriminating cannabis consumer.  Each product is made in small batches and tested by a third party to ensure food safety standards are being met/exceeded.

    Our team bench is deep in beverage experience including: a food scientist, a sommelier, a café owner, a soda company owner, a vermouth maker and a cold brew expert. We feel confident on the flavor front.

     Q. Communicators with IPO-readiness experience understand that an investor-backed start-up needs a strategy that supports a payback end-game, and possibly an acquisition as an exit strategy. You’ve been down this road as an investor. Now you’re the owner accountable to investors. How does this perspective shape how you value and use public relations as a value driver to build revenue?

    I’ve run my own company with a successful exit to a publicly traded Fortune 500 company. Prior to that I ran word-of-mouth campaigns for brands like SC Johnson, Kraft and IBM on launching new products, which worked closely with PR to get the word out. Word of mouth is the most important aspect of our brand strategy. Shortly behind that is traditional PR. Any credible third party, especially for a cannabis product, means the brand name is trustworthy.  There are a lot of bad products out there and in the end, it will come down to brand reputation.

    Q. Is there any aspect of investment performance that risks impatience for your company to mature and achieve its intended potential? How does financial discipline shape your marketing and PR priorities?

    A: Canning equipment is the biggest. So, if you think of us both as a brand and as a platform, we have two main goals. Our first goal is to expand our own brand. Our second goal is to help other brands produce their beverages on our platform when we have latency. We believe this strategy allows for frequent content creation, PR opportunities, and unique brand experiences that we can budget and plan for before a project even begins.

    Altatude is in a unique real-time challenge: defining a new product category and carving out a distinct brand personality within it. That’s a tall order, at a time when you are spending to hit the retail and restaurant marketplace on all cylinders. How much of your messaging is directed to educating the general population versus customers and buyers?

    A: We are a sales organization first and foremost, which means I’m measuring number of store fronts and units moved weekly, not brand awareness mostly right now. That being said, we know patients and budtenders are influencers to their networks, so we are beginning to work more closely with these audiences to help them understand the value of drinkables, nanotechnology, micro-dosing and sipping Alta.

    Q. The role of social media in the media mix has some restrictions for cannabis where marijuana is not yet universally legal. When you look at earned, owned and paid media, which of them is proving most productive for Altatude? How do you look to measure the impact of your overall media strategy, and as the owner, are you willing to pay for measurement as a feature of your overall communications program?

    We use Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, which we update regularly. We are in an interesting spot as we are about to launch our own CBD line, which is hemp derived, which opens up a bunch of legal questions regarding what we can and can’t do from a promotion stand point. At this point, I’m not willing to pay for measurement beyond SEO and CPA for online reservation, delivery and orders/subscriptions.

    Q. PRSA Boston embraces mentoring and is a career gateway to new graduates and early-stage public relations, social media and sales-focused communicators. Does Altatude offer paid internships and if so, how should someone make themselves known to you? Does it go without saying that interns or employees have to be cannabis consumers, in whatever form that is?

    A: We would love to hear from PRSA affiliated interns. Pay is based on a case-by-case basis. If you have interest in working at Altatude please email info@altatude.com. Consumption is not a requirement. 80% of our team consume less than once a month.

    Q. What is the biggest misconception about the cannabis economy that you would like legislators and/or journalists to better understand?

    A: Dosing is very individual and there needs to be more understanding/less restriction within dosing for the recreational market. For example, recreational beverage have limitations in Massachusetts of 5mg per serving/can/beverage. In that same recreational transaction, a consumer can buy a syringe with 850mg of THC, which they are more likely to over medicate with. So long as there are concentrates for sale, drinkables shouldn’t have dosing restrictions as low as they currently do.

    Q. You’ve been traveling, but you likely haven’t found Altatude at an airport bar in between flights. When you’ve got time to kill, what is your beverage of choice?

    A: I don’t drink much alcohol anymore now that I’m drinking cannabis. No hangover and lower calories. Staples though are water and coffee.

    Meet Rob Toof on Thursday, April 4th and hear about beverages as the newest cannabis industry’s  product category (plus sample some Alta Fueganon-infused). He joins an A-lister panel of marijuana business experts and policy influencers. The lively discussion will be lead by Jess Bartlett (@BOSBIZJess), veteran cannabis and craft beer beat journalist for the Boston Business Journal. Click on this LINK to get your ticket.  Special rates for students, young professionals and members. 

    **With special thanks to our generous hosts, Zazil Media Group (@zazilmediagroup). A donation from the program will be made to the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • April 4th Preview: Meet Cannabis Control Commission’s Exec. Dir., Guiding MA’s Hottest Economy

    In 2008, the vote by Massachusetts to decriminalize marijuana set the BayState on its journey to legalizing cannabis by a ballot initiative eight years later. This set into motion the need for a centralized authority whose purpose was to operationalize the law for the opening of medical and recreational retail dispensaries across the state. Enter the Cannabis Control Commission, (CCC) which has handled the dizzying charter of providing host municipalities with guidelines intended to balance community impacts with new revenue opportunity. As its Executive Director since the agency’s found, Shawn Collins brings the most current perspective on this growing industry. He recently shared his insights about how public affairs have been an economic driver with Loring Barnes for a PRSA Boston’s Fast Five… and a few more questions.

    On April 4th, some members of the Cannabis Control Commission’s communications team will be in attendance. Our team includes:

    We draw agency talent from the State PRF60 Contract for advertising, graphic design and public awareness, including this campaign:  “More About Marijuana

    Q: We share the experience of holding elected office in respective hometowns. Interestingly, you were chair of your school committee. As a general statement, schools are a municipal department that will claim new budget needs to fund educational impact or mitigation programs stemming from the arrival of local cannabis cultivation or dispensaries. How has your insight from your elected office tenure factored in decisions as related to deploying state-level marijuana health and safety programs targeting youth, families, staff nurses and educators? What is the delineation of educational resources to be provided through the CCC versus the Department of Public Health?

    A: Public education and awareness, especially during the infancy of this industry, is critical.  Our campaign, “More About Marijuana,” specifically identifies the importance of parents talking with their children about the potential impact of youth access.  It also reminds parents that if they intend to purchase and consume adult-use cannabis, they also have an obligation to keep those products safe and secure within their home.  We have made these public awareness materials, including rack cards, available through the state’s clearinghouse and shared them with superintendents across Massachusetts. Education and awareness are the best tools we have, and we’ll partner with anyone that can help us get those messages out.  That includes other state agencies, as well as local and community partners.

    Q: You’re an attorney. How do you reconcile protection of First Amendment rights with the recent actions taken by Instagram and Facebook to delete social media accounts of early-stage marijuana businesses, to include those newly opened in Massachusetts? For a small business, social media is a key engagement tool used for marketing and education.  Is the CCC taking an advocacy position or providing guidance to these businesses as how to navigate social media?

    A: I’m an attorney, yes, but I’m not in the best position to offer legal advice in this particular area.  The Commission, consistent with our objective to be as available and transparent as possible, does seek to leverage social media as often as possible to get our own message out.  We know that a lot of our key constituency can be found on these platforms. We also know, too, that kids are present and active on these platforms. So, we do expect any of our licensees to be mindful of that when using these tools.  

    Q: A cornerstone of the cannabis industry is social equity, which is a program described as a deliverable by the CCC. How does the CCC advance access to small business investor capital, grants or other benefits for minority or underrepresented business populations if federal lending laws make it so difficult?

    A: This is really the challenge that is facing this industry and these entrepreneurs across the board.  Access to capital limits everyone’s access to this market, but especially hinders those small business owners that aren’t independently wealthy.  Given the federal constraints, the solution may have to be multi-faceted. This could include state-run and supported programs, including grants and loans, as well as private investments targeted specifically to small business, particularly those economic empowerment applicants and social equity program participants.  There is no one, single solution to this.

    Q: Does the CCC hire paid interns for experiences supporting communications, public affairs or outreach functions? Will the CCC be expanding to meet the needs of the growing cannabis industry?

    A: As a start-up agency, our Commission is always looking to add additional resources and support.  We have tried to develop a strategic approach to public awareness and community outreach, and both are two areas of potential growth within the Commission.  We do not currently have any opportunities for internships, but think they are something we will absolutely consider in the future.

    Q: What is the biggest misconception or information gap that the CCC is working to address?

    A: While the Commission has broad regulatory authority, we do not oversee all things cannabis-related.  We rely on other state agencies and scores of local partners to regulate this new industry. Relatedly, residents have a lot of rights with this new law, including the ability to grow plants in their home.  This isn’t something the Commission has the authority to police, but we’d gladly work with residents to understand their rights and limitations, as well as local authorities in a similar manner. Lastly, I think it is important for folks to remember that we’re still a young and growing agency.

    Q: In the morning when you’re enjoying your morning coffee, what are you reading to start your day? Then during your commute, do you listen to podcasts or news stations as might intersect with your need to keep on top of cannabis-related topics?

    A: I rely on local media in the Boston area and other regional outlets in the state to get my news every morning, including the Boston Business Journal and Boston Globe.  I also make a point to scroll through Flipboard, which helps me cast a much wider net for all news – including cannabis.  As for my commute, I’ll admit I’m much more likely to listen to “The Daily” from the New York Times, or “Up First” from NPR, as opposed to cannabis-related podcasts.  Sometimes I need the break.

    Meet Shawn Collins on Thursday, April 4th and hear from the agency tasked with shaping a safe and equitably accessible cannabis industry in Massachusetts.  He joins an A-lister panel of marijuana business experts and policy influencers. The lively discussion will be lead by Jess Bartlett (@BOSBIZJess), veteran cannabis and craft beer beat journalist for the Boston Business Journal. Click on this LINK to get your ticket.  Special rates for students, young professionals and members. 

    **With special thanks to our generous hosts, Zazil Media Group (@zazilmediagroup). A donation from the event will be made to the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance.

     

     

  • Fast Five with Deirdre Breakenridge, 2018 Social Media Summit Keynote Speaker

    Deirdre K. Breakenridge is Chief Executive Officer at Pure Performance Communications. A veteran in PR, marketing and branding, Breakenridge is the author of six books, including “Answers for Modern Communicators”, “Social Media and Public Relations: Eight New Practices for the PR Professional”, “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations” and “PR 2.0: New Media, New Tools, New Audiences.

    Deidre teaches online PR and social media courses for the UMASS at Amherst  and for Rutgers University’s PR Certificate course. She is also the host of a podcast program, Women Worldwide, interviewing women around the globe who are encouraged to share their incredible stories, educating, imparting advice and offering insights to show listeners. Women Worldwide has recently joined the C- Suite Radio Network, where Deirdre is recognized as a C-Suite Advisor.

    Deirdre will be the opening keynote speaker at the 2018 Social Media Summit on May 11 at Bentley University.  Join Deirdre and a host of other speakers for an amazing day as we explore how social media is being integrated in communications strategies at some of the region’s most visible brands.  Learn more and get your tickets here

    What prompted you to start PR Expanded?

    I launched PR Expanded (formerly PR 2.0) when I was researching and writing my book PR 2.0: New Media, New Tools and New Audiences. The blog was a way to document my social media journey, share topics covered in the book and gauge community member reactions and thoughts that I would include in my manuscript. Since the launch of PR 2.0, I’ve rebranded my blog as PR Expanded, which represents the many opportunities for PR professionals today. PR Expanded continues to showcase new roles and practices in PR as a result of the changing media landscape, advancing technologies and shifting consumer behaviors.

    What is a recent winning move your social media team has made for a client?

    We work with a digital marketing agency that is taking a stand on Artificial Intelligence and marketing ethics. A recent study of 6,000 consumers in the US, UK and Germany reveals consumer attitudes and concerns about AI. Our team was able to immerse ourselves in the survey data to come up with creative pitch angles. Our pitches have led to more media exposure in the form of byline articles, Q&A guest posts, radio interviews and expert commentary in business, technology and industry trade publications.

    What top deliverables do you look for in your social media team?

    Your social media team must deliver outcomes for your business. Yes, there are communication goals as a result of your campaigns, but you’re also tying what you do to higher-level business goals. A social media team that has a purpose and goals and sets up a measurement program that shows how social media directly relates to sales and lead generation, marketing optimization, customer satisfaction or brand health, is a team that gets the attention of the company leaders.

    What big goals or programs do you want your social media team to accomplish this year?

    Companies need to share stories and share meaningful information with the public, but they also need to create a sharing culture on the inside of the organization. Our social media teams are focused on igniting employee champions within the organization to create more strategic participation and greater momentum and engagement through employee networks. As a rule, good communication (including social media communication) starts on the inside of the company.

    What do you look for in a social media professional when you are hiring?

    A social media professional needs a balance of IQ and Emotional Quotient (EQ). It’s great when a candidate knows the areas of social media management, data and analytics and good writing and communication skills. However, the EQ is important when you’re dealing with a community and any issues or concerns that may arise. Showing EQ means stepping back to evaluate a situation in a social media community and having more empathy for your customer. When you blend the strategic with the empathy, you can solve problems and prevent the escalation of issues for your brand.

    When your clients just don’t get social media, how do you explain it?

    When clients don’t understand social media you have to show them why it matters in their world. Showing them could mean sharing the results of a competitor audit and how the competition uses social media. You might also reveal that the top companies in their industry are using social media to attract the best talent. You can also share how their customers, employees, media, and other important stakeholders are on social media giving them a reason to monitor or to engage directly. For these clients, it could be a crawl, walk run approach to get them comfortable with social media and understanding the meaning and value for their business.

    About Fast 5

    This is a feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand, on the go, and nailing them down for a conversation is about as easy as … winning Powerball at $1.5 billion! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, author’s books about to hit the stands and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos

    Do YOU have a candidate for a FAST 5 interview? Email: Joshua Milne at josh@joshuamilnepr.com and pitch your subject expert!

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or  board of directors of either organization. 

  • Fast Five with Melissa Mann, EF Education First

    Melissa Mann is the social media and content manager for EF Education First, the world’s largest international education company and #1 Top Place to Work in the Boston Globe’s 2017 list. Melissa got her start as a fashion copywriter and remembers the day Instagram launched—she’s worked in social media ever since. She’ll be sharing her knowledge at the 2018 Social Media Summit on May 11 at Bentley University.  Learn more and register here.

    What prompted you to join EF Education First?

    I was working in the fashion industry, managing social media for an ecommerce brand and had the wakeup call that I didn’t actually care about fashion. Since studying abroad in college, I’d realized the benefit of travel and felt very strongly about the doors and perspectives it opened. So when I started asking myself what my values were and looking to align my work with something I believed in, travel was the theme. I found EF Education First through a former colleague and once I learned more about what EF stands for—opening the world through education and breaking down barriers through travel, cultural exchange, and language learning—I knew it was the perfect fit for me. Walking in, you can really feel the culture and the passion of the people who work at EF. I haven’t looked back.

    Do you have a favorite social media campaign? 

    I love seeing what other brands are doing in the social space and there are always a ton of good ideas out there. I really like what Southwest is doing with their “every seat has a story” campaign—it feels a bit like what we’re trying to do at EF with our storytelling and focus on our people. I am also a huge fan girl of Wendy’s on Twitter. They really own their voice and have such a strong personality that actually encourages other brands to pitch in. They’re super fun to watch.

    What are the most common mistakes – and winning moves – social media managers make?

    I think one common mistake is trying to retro-fit a channel to a solution. We’re always looking out for “the next big thing” and it’s easy to get wrapped into the craze of “let’s do this on Facebook live!” or “let’s add 5 polls to our Instagram stories!” I think it’s important to be able to take a step back and really identify what the goals are and decide what the best platform is to accomplish those goals. Winning moves are when you can adapt quickly to those changes, however, and leverage them in a way that supports your business. The sooner you can take advantage of updates like customizing your ad creative for Facebook, the sooner you’ll see that ROI.

    What are the top three skills in demand by your management?

    For anyone going into social media, I think it’s important to know a little bit about a lot of different areas of marketing. Of course you need to be specialized in social media, but there are a lot of us out there whose roles touch so many different pieces, from acquisition to customer care to email marketing.  Having some knowledge in each of those areas will make your role as a social media manager that much easier (while making you more marketable). So that being said, knowing how to run and manage some paid media (in particular, Facebook and Instagram ads) is a huge benefit. Knowledge of analytics and experience with tools like Google Analytics or Moz are also incredibly useful skills to have in your toolbox—bonus points if you can build your own reporting dashboards and make it easier to present that to your stakeholders. Finally, I think it’s super important to be detail-oriented. Social media is big and it’s fast, and it’s easy to make a mistake, like push an Instagram post to the wrong account (been there). Being organized and giving your attention to the small details will help keep you on top of it all.

    When management just doesn’t get social media, how do you explain it?

    This is a tough one; I think all social media managers and content producers go through this. I try to focus on the engagement and nurturing piece. Social media ROI can be really difficult to prove, but what you’re really building through social is a loyal, engaged community. Social gives you the opportunity to keep your brand top-of-mind for people (potential customers, e.g.) who are interested in what you have to say. By producing relevant, interesting content that ties back to your brand, your followers will remember (and choose) you when it’s time for them to make a purchase.

    About Fast 5

    This is a feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand, on the go, and nailing them down for a conversation is about as easy as … winning Powerball at $1.5 billion! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, author’s books about to hit the stands and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos

    Do YOU have a candidate for a FAST 5 interview? Email: Joshua Milne at josh@joshuamilnepr.com and pitch your subject expert!

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or  board of directors of either organization. 

     

  • Fast 5: Five Things to Know about Social Media and Crisis Communications

    Elaine Driscoll, Massachusetts Gaming Commission

    @ElaineDriscoll  @MassGamingComm


     

    The words “community policing” typically conjure up images of police officers walking the beat. In the 21st century, cops on the beat have moved online as well.

    The Boston Police Department was one of the pioneers of the use of social media as a communications and outreach tool. Elaine Driscoll was with the Boston Police Department when it began using Twitter in 2009, and it has turned into a method of community engagement as well as crowdsourcing tips. Elaine, a media relations professional with almost 20 years of experience in public relations, crisis communications and community outreach, now serves as Director of Communications at the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

    We caught up with Elaine in advance of the Social Media Summit to talk about social media, crises and what she looks forward to most about the summit.

    Q: What role can social media play in a crisis?

    Social media is the gasoline that spreads a crisis like a wildfire; it can also be the bucket of cold water that helps to put the fire out. The traditional sense of “news cycle” now has far less significance when considering the timing and strategy for addressing a PR crisis. As a result, an organization must be prepared to be nimble and decisive with an initial response, whether the crisis was anticipated or a spontaneous occurrence.

    Social media also provides an organization with a quick and efficient mechanism to respond directly to the masses. This direct access to the public provides an extraordinary ability to control the presentation of your message and influence public perception minus the filter applied by traditional media outlets, but that’s IF you get your response right. You can count on the court of public opinion to let you know quickly if the response is inadequate (Hello, United Airlines).

    Q: You have worked at both the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and the Boston Police Department. How have those organizations used social media to communicate to their audiences?

    The Mass Gaming Commission and the Boston Police Department have different missions, but they are similar in their need for a robust communications infrastructure. MGC and BPD require a communications outreach strategy that is efficient and practical for executing a high volume of external communications, provides for two-way interactions and public participation, and enhances transparency. Both agencies depend on social media to achieve their organizational priorities and goals.

    Q: Can you give an example of how you may have effectively managed social media during a crisis in the past?

    Social media is a tremendous tool to assist with the management of a crisis, particularly one involving public safety. It’s important to note that it will only be truly effective if it has been test-driven before an organization needs it to perform. Building an audience and your organization’s reputation for communicating prior to an inevitable crisis is paramount. The BPD is highly adept at crisis communications because of how they utilize their communications system when they are not in crisis. The BPD was one of the first police departments in the country to use Twitter. It started in 2009 by simply issuing public safety and traffic instructions for a St. Patrick’s Day parade. In the years that followed, the department’s use of Twitter and other social media channels evolved significantly and became everything from a friendly and innovative way to connect with the community to the remarkably effective use of crowdsourcing tips and investigative leads.

    The 2011 Occupy Boston movement offers an interesting case study in the department’s advanced use of social media. Other cities had a far more contentious experience with the Occupy movement than Boston. I believe that strong and non-adversarial communication was a major contributor to the largely successful outcome of the 70-day protest in Dewey Square – much of that communication took place over Twitter, which was an approach unique to Boston.  That same year, the BPD’s Twitter account had more followers than any other police organization in the world.

    Q: With the number of social media platforms out there, how can organizations effectively monitor the conversation and address crises?

    There are many effective ways to monitor social media conversations. I prefer Tweetdeck and Meltwater News. When an organization is deciding which social media channels to use as part of its communications infrastructure, it depends on what you are selling and to whom – a high fashion boutique has different communication needs than a government agency. I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all strategy except that I would always urge quality over quantity. I don’t think most organizations can adopt every social media channel and do them all well. An organization should identify where it is most likely to reach its target audiences and master that communication before casting too wide a net.

    Q: What are you most looking forward to about the Social Media Summit?

    I enjoy the opportunity to share my experiences and also deeply appreciate the chance to learn from my peers. As PR practitioners, we have to continue to evolve in our trade and enhance our skill set in order to stay relevant and keep up with an ever-changing world of traditional and social media.

    About Fast 5

    This is a feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics (https://prsaboston.org/hot-topics/) blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand, on the go, and nailing them down for a conversation is on the fly! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, authors’ books about to hit the stands and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos

    Do YOU have a candidate for a FAST 5 interview? Email Joshua Milne at josh@joshuamilnepr.com (mailto:josh@joshuamilnepr.com) and pitch your subject expert!

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or  board of directors of either organization.