Behavioral Sciences serving Public Relations and Communications (1/2)

Behavioral Sciences offers a fascinating body of knowledge for communications and public relations professionals. Interest in this discipline has been revived by the election of Donald Trump and the growth of false news.

Here is a brief “Q&A” about this fascinating subject.

1.What are we talking about?
Behavioral science knowledge refers to research designed to better understand how people make decisions and act accordingly. They refer to psychology, social neuroscience and cognitive science, among others. With these, we seek to understand why humans do what they do and why they do not do what we think they should do.

2.What kind of knowledge does this include?
Through behavioral science, we know more about ourselves as human beings and about our decision-making process. Here are some facts:

  • We are not creatures of reason. Our reasoning is in fact submerged with emotions. Also, it takes part after the emotions have come into action. Moreover, it works more slowly than emotions, which interact quickly. This largely influences our point of view, especially on sensitive topics.
  • We do not give much importance to the future. This explains why diets often turn into failures and that credit cards remain so popular.
  • We are fueling optimism. But beware! This is true for ourselves and our loved ones, but not for our neighbors and even less for the planet.
  • We react much more strongly when we feel fear or disgust.
  • Counter-arguments rarely convince us. If we hear information that contradicts an opinion firmly rooted in us, we will challenge the sources or the methodology.

3.How do behavioral sciences impact our communication strategies?
Behavioral science knowledge increases the impact of programs and communication campaigns. At CASACOM, these sciences lead us to refine the portrait of our target audiences, to think more deeply about their potential behaviors and to perfect our messages to ensure their effectiveness. Combined with our data-driven approach, we are succeeding in generating not only compelling but measurable results.

What do you think about that? In the second part of this article, I will present some examples of behavioral science implementations in our field.

Three Reasons to Consider Targeted Media Approaches

The number of stories has long been an indicator of the success of a press activity. However, times are changing, and the media ecosystem is evolving. Is quality now taking precedence over quantity? Here are three reasons to consider sending a story to a carefully targeted reporter.

1. Bet on a Background Cover
By offering a news story to a journalist, you’re proposing not only a topic, but an interview with a spokesperson,  more elaborate context than the 500 words of your press release and very specific examples to illustrate your words. This allows you to personalize your story and position an expert to possibly get in depth coverage. If your spokesperson is well spoken, your subject may also stand out from the hundreds of press releases that journalists receive daily.

2. The First Time
When you announce an event or unveil a study for the first time, it is likely that this news does not attract spontaneous interest from the media. If your organization or the client you are communicating to has a low profile, you will need to establish credibility to convince the media that the public would be interested in the topic. In this case, it is also possible to propose a story to a reporter, specifically covering the industry or sector the activity is focused on.

 3. Multiple Stories
You have a gold mine of content? By segmenting information to define multiple media angles of interest, you can create separate stories and associate an appropriate spokesperson for each. It’s about getting targeted journalists’ attention and showing value of these separate news stories, contextualizing them, and ultimately supporting your approach with tangible data.

Key Points
To optimize your success rate, here are some factors to respect:

  • Always be transparent with journalists;
  • Choose the right media before, according to your target audience;
  • Identify the appropriate journalist covering the proposed topic;
  • Submit an interesting offer: written and visual contents, spokesperson of interest, experience (example: a visit): in short, a real story!

Media relations is not an exact science. It’s a happy mix of controllable factors, such as strategy, sense of timing and the right approach, as well as  influences you can’t control. And beyond the initial outreach to media, never forget the second word of the term “media relations” is not incidental. Without professional and personalized relations with the media, there is no point in engaging with them!

DATA AND PR MAKE A GOOD TEAM

“If I do not have access to your Google analytics, it’s like signing a blank check.”
I heard this phrase  last fall in a Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) conference on best practices for evaluating and measuring PR campaigns and it has  stayed in my head ever since. Recently, the subject was also mentioned at Infopresse, which held a day of conferences on the careful use of marketing data. There were three elements from these presentations that caught my attention and have shared in more detail below.

Three new must have skills in PR
Marketing, video editing and data analysis skills. No, these are not the most sought-after skills in sales or advertising, but… in PR, according to PR Daily. These new digital vehicles generate a quantity of data that must be harnessed, compiled and analyzed to judge the real impact of a campaign. From a simple video broadcast on social media, we can draw: the number of views, shares, likes and clicks to a site, as well as the duration of the views and the engagement rate. These are all valuable statistics that contextualize the impact of a campaign.

Beyond Press Relations
Even the study of campaigns that unfold mainly in traditional media can be enhanced by numerical analysis. There are several options, starting with the interactions that arise from posting an article on social media. Major media accounts broadcast several pieces of news every hour and the end result  provides valuable information. Tools like BuzzSumo also make it possible to obtain the number of sharing of report links in the main social platforms.

Data is nothing without context
Data has long been the choice of marketing specialists. Digital communications has changed the game and that’s for the best because we have new tools that will illustrate the impact of PR actions. The growth of available data, however, is accompanied by an explosion of reports filled with raw non-contextualized figures. Aviso’s Roger Kapena, who attended a workshop on the subject at Infopresse, calls for data throwing. Identifying the most relevant figures that will help identify trends and bring real value to organizations becomes an art that must be mastered. At CASACOM, we make a point of presenting data that brings added value.

PR in motion
The industry is changing, and within our team, we are experiencing this transformation in action. We are very proud to present our CASACOM Studio, which offers design and production of content (design, video, etc.) coupled with data analysis. How are you living through this era of digital transformation?

The power of live

Live, real time, without editing … Unless you are Patrice Roy or Sophie Thibault, these terms can make you dizzy! But in a controlled environment and with the right preparation, live video remains a powerful tool to authentically reach  different audiences.

Video content reigns as king on the web. According to Cisco Forecast, 75% of the traffic generated on the web today is video-based and this figure will reach 82% by 2020. The proof of video content’s ability to  transmit the values, the philosophy and the uniqueness of an organization is no longer needed: it’s a fact.

If you’re already using video in your content strategy, have you dared to try going  live? In 2018, live recordings have been prominent online. Moreover, the social media giants of the web have understood the craze for live and now offer tools, such as Facebook Live, Instagram Stories or YouTube Reels, which have truly democratized the production of real time content.

Talking data

Let the data talk first. Three quarters of Facebook users watch live video. Facebook lives are viewed three times longer than regular videos and generate 10 times more comments. It is an effective strategy for broadcasting content that generates a high rate of engagement.

The key ingredients for a good live

For a successful live, a dose of suspense and a hint of the unknown are key. We must give good reasons for online users to continue viewing. Buzzfeed has utilized this strategy during this live video experiment, which counted the number of elastic bands that can wrap around a watermelon before it explodes! Simple, right? It might be, but it’s still one of the most viewed Facebook Live videos in social media history, with more than 800,000 people who simultaneously viewed the broadcast.

In public relations, you can perform a live video to unveil the new product of a brand, announce an association with a spokesperson or offer a Q&A session. with viewers.

Warning! The stress of a live broadcast can freeze even the best of ambassadors if they  are not used to this type of medium. In this case, it might be best to have an experienced facilitator to lead the way.

Authentic et interactive

The live video  has strong interactive potential. It allows the public to be involved and form a relationship of engagement through Q&A. The more daring live video users can  even ask their viewers  to influence their live content through suggestions.

Some brands use live video to establish a more intimate connection  with the community. This was the case for the Animal Welfare Association, which broadcast a live walk through the streets of New York to offer the public small puppies to adopt. . Very cute and  educational at the same time!

To first execute  a live video might be a bit nerve wracking! Although, similarly to jumping off a cliff, we do not jump without a parachute! With rigorous preparation, you can have an authentic live experience with your audience. On air in 5,4,3,2,1… Go!

IMMERSION IN THE WORLD OF INFLUENCE: INTERVIEW WITH PETITE & BOLD

Influencer marketing is not only a popular medium for brands to connect with consumers, but it is also a very important aspect of public relations and communications strategy.

As a result, consumers news feeds are constantly being  invaded by interesting sponsored content by various brands. In light of this, how can a brand differentiate itself through influencer marketing? The answer is simple:  brands must remember the reason why someone follows a certain influencer and use that unique reason to create an authentic connection.

To learn more about this subject, we spoke to Josiane of Petite and Bold. When she created her blog in 2012, she quickly realized that influencer marketing was a way that she could express her creativity, and that she could inspire thousands of people through her Instagram account: @PetiteandBold, and blog, Maison Petite and Bold, an online decoration shop that was designed to highlight West African craftsmanship.

Why create Petite and Bold?
I’ve always been creative, and the blog was my way of nurturing that creativity and escaping. Things have changed since I started in 2012. I have grown up, I have a clear vision of what I want to see in Petite and Bold now, that is, an inspiring platform both in terms of fashion than on a social level. For me, fashion is a way of expressing myself that goes far beyond appearance. I am a creator of black African content, and I am aware of the impact this can have on the importance of representation here in Montreal. I often received messages from women telling me how happy they were to see a black person evolve in the field of Quebec bloggers. It is essential in my work to break the concepts of unique beauty.

Describe to me Petite and Bold in three words?
Persevering, compassionate, committed.

What are the values ​​you are looking for in an organization that would like to collaborate with you?
Ah… so many points. But briefly, a company that advocates diversity or at least initiates activities to be inclusive. A company that lets me have my voice, and is open to suggestions is also very important. For me, it is essential that my blog remains a reflection of my person. So I appreciate organizations that come to me with specific points to address, but also give me freedom to get there. It always wins for both parties in my opinion.

 

Since you started your blog, what was your biggest lesson?
Definitely the importance of staying authentic and having a clear vision for my platform. It allowed me to keep my head up when things were not going the way I wanted. When I compared my evolution to that of other people, it depressed me. When you keep in mind what you do for it, it is easier later to appreciate the success of others without envy.

What inspired you to open your home accessories store, Maison Petite and Bold?
Essentially, my desire to discover the West African crafts. All items (apart from the posters, these are made by myself) are handmade by artisans in my native country, Burkina-Faso. These talented people work hard every day to live their art. Their ability to create beautiful things with their hands fascinates me. My wish is that Maison Petite and Bold grows, and allow me to build strong relationships with artisans while also being able to offer them a channel of economic growth. Every purchase made in the shop has an impact on them and brings me closer to that goal.

What do you think is the future of influencer marketing in the coming years?
I am certain (or rather, I hope) that it will be relevant for years to come. Companies are becoming more aware of the power of influence, and that a student, mother, neighbor, or a sister can have among the people around them. I think that people who will remain authentic, who will evolve with their audience and learn to re-invent themselves will be able to stay on social platforms for years to come.

Finally, what can we hope to see for the future of Petite and Bold?
To keep this passion of sharing, commitment and desire to want to discover other horizons in everything I undertake. And also to succeed in building a community that supports itself and helps each other against all odds.

 

Casie Stewart’s true colours: our interview with an influential personality

Casie Stewart is certainly one of the most authentic people you’ll ever meet! An award-winning content creator, lifestyle blogger, and digital media expert, she helps brands tell their storytelling in an inspiring way. She works as an influencer, spokesperson, speaker, director, and consultant for some of theworld’s top brands.

I had the chance to sit down with Casie and speak with her about the ever-evolving digital landscape. How is it to work with brands? How can we stay authentic in today’s photo-shopped world? How can companies integrate social media into their communications and business strategies?

She gives us her thoughts and tips with the naturalness which characterizes her.

1. How did your adventure begin?

I started my blog in 2005 as a diary, documenting my life, adventures, experiences, thoughts and ideas. When I was in Australia for university I had a MSN Spaces diary that helped me share stories about what I was doing with friends and family back home. I moved to MySpace, then Blogger, to WordPress and now I have a fully hosted WordPress site of my own. I started a YouTube channel in 2006, joined Twitter in 2008, and Facebook right when it became available. And I’ve had Instagram for years!

 2. How have you maintained your authenticity over the years as the digital landscape changes?

You have to stay true to who you really are. Sometimes bloggers and influencers make themselves look a certain way and portray a life they don’t actually live. It’s hard to live up to those kind of standards you set for yourself and you’ll burn out if you’re not yourself. I’ve heard of younger people wanting to starting a blog or ‘be an influencer,’ but influencer isn’t something you can just decide to be; influence comes from DOING something that gets recognized or influences the ideas and thoughts of people. You can’t buy your way into being influential, establishing yourself as a brand or thought leader takes time.

For me, authenticity is more important than perfectly curated Instagram. I think the best way to be authentic is to be yourself and tell stories, to be a real human. One of my favourite ways to tell stories is going on adventures and exploring new things. I also only work on things that I like, have tested, or experienced first-hand. How can you share your honest opinion on something if you haven’t tried it?!

3. How can brands integrate social media in their marketing strategy?

Creating good and consistent content will go a long way. Social media can be overwhelming if you don’t have a plan. This doesn’t mean you should plan everything out for the next six months because things change, but it helps to be proactive vs reactive. Brands need to have an open mind and trust people who know what content works for their audience.

 4. What advice do you have for those that invest in one specific social platform?

I’ve seen a lot of apps come and go and I tell people not to put their eggs in one basket. For example, Snapchat was very popular until Instagram added Instagram stories, heaps of people stopped using Snapchat. I recommend having a website as place for your content to live that you own so you don’t rely on a platform that’s not yours. There’s always going to be something new, innovate or die!

 5. What are some common mistakes businesses make in influential marketing?

You can’t expect bloggers or influencers to write about your product or company just by sending a press. Life is about building relationships, reach out to an influencer or blogger and ask about how you can work together. Get to know them, read their blogs, look on social media, to see what they’re doing. Make sure you do your research to ensure the person is a good fit.

6. Who are some people in the social media space you admire or look up to?

Tiffany Pratt is a Canadian designer, stylist, author, and TV personality. She built her life around something she loves doing and I admire that. Casey Neistat is the world’s top YouTuber, filmmaker, and co-founder of multimedia company Beme, recently acquired by CNN. I love his videos and whole vibe. He’s living his life to the fullest and shares it with the world. Andrew Gunadie – aka ‘gunnarolla’ – is a YouTuber + music and video producer based in Toronto. His content is so fun and creative. He does a lot of brand partnerships, but everything is uniquely him. What I like about each of these people is they’ve taken something they love doing and made it into a career.

7. Favourite social media platform?

I love Twitter, always have. I’ve been using it since 2008 and it’s changed a ton but I find I still share there the most and have a lot of engagement. I also like Instagram stories because it’s instant. I love sharing things as they happen and I feel both Twitter and IG stories are great for that.

8. Which social network do you spend the most time on?

Hard to say, but according to my phone stats it’s a tie between IG and Facebook. Although, I check all my social platforms pretty frequently.

9. Which social media platform could you not live without?

LOL. I could live without all of them!

10. Favourite emoji?

Heart emoji!

Starting 2018 on the Right Foot with Social Media!

Companies are allocating more budget to social media, whether to sponsor their publications or to create their own written content, video, audio, infographic or other. All indications point to this increasing in 2018.

But will organizations see a profit following their investment? Some will, others won’t. Why? Unfortunately, there are too few companies today that apply the basics of an effective social media strategy. We’ve outlined a few reminders below to ensure your social media strategy is compelling and successful.

1. See bigger. Social media serves as a function in the overall communications strategy. Each platform (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, etc.) has a specific purpose. All the activities that take place there must serve that purpose.

Why are you investing so much on this platform? What is the goal of a particular page or account? What would you like to achieve from this? These are the questions to ask yourself before going further.

These goals are too often hijacked in favour of tactical targets such as the number of “likes” or engagement rates. A strategic approach involves business objectives, such as a conversion rate, an increase in reputation or a change of opinion. The evaluation of the effectiveness of a campaign on social media is therefore often done outside these platforms.

2. Hit the right target. Which audiences do you want to reach on each platform? Are they influencers? Or strictly consumers? A wider base of followers? The approach and the evaluation measures will be different.
You have to define targets with very specific criteria. These should come from research or interviews with your target audience. At the beginning of the year, make sure you have a clear idea of ​​the portraits of the people (personas) targeted by each of your platforms.

3. Be human. How will you communicate on social media? Are you going to leave that privilege to the “company” or the people who do it – employees, managers, customers, members? If you are a consumer of social media information, what is your preference? To ask the question, is to answer it. In 2018, companies that want to have a real impact on social media will have to put forward their best resources and bet on authenticity.

As the year begins, and the mad rush of content creation and production resumes, stop and ask yourself the right questions to make your social media activities even more strategic and relevant.

Prediction # 6- Resistance gets organized

A group of resisters made its appearance marked this year: the so-called traditional media.

At the beginning of 2017, The Public Policy Forum released its report “The shattered mirror” in partnership with the Canadian Journalism Foundation. They conducted an extensive research across Canada to provide a consumer perspective on news, trust and democracy in the digital age.

Their findings showed that although Canadians valued journalism’s role in democracy, they were also largely unaware that the news media is in a very difficult financial position.

Interestingly enough, they found out that 7 out of 10 users of online media were getting their news from the websites of traditional media organizations.

In short, Canadians value news and see it as an essential element of democracy. They acknowledge that content has value but because of the “free” culture of the internet, they just don’t see the necessity of paying for their news.

Their findings suggested that the news industry needed to educate their audiences but at the same time needed to develop new business models to adapt to the new digital conundrum.

In particular, in a context where Google and Facebook dominate Canadian digital advertising market, with  Canadian newspaper and tv revenue at about one seventh of the total of the two U.S platform giants, publishers and media organizations want to find ways to counterattack.

Last summer, The News Media Alliance, representing 2 000 publishers across U.S and Canada announced their plan to ask Congress for permission to join economic forces against Google and Facebook. The organization wants a new law that will let it bargain collectively when its members are up against Google and Facebook.

In short, inaction is not an option. There is a survival issue and it touches the very essence of democracy to have quality and independent journalism. It is our responsibility to ensure the credibility of the media and contribute to their sustainability.

In 2018, we predict a greater awareness of advertising purchases, even ethical advertising purchases.

 

Prediction # 5 – AI meets PR

The term AI deserves the “most popular” award of 2017. Not a day went by without the term being used by the media. Record investments and key players, such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft, are securing Montreal and Toronto’s reputation in this area, both in their own way.

Recent developments in AI have contributed to a hyper-personalization of communication between brands and their audiences. This takes place through different technologies, such as machine learning, which allow to assemble and present appropriate messages and multitudes of data analyzed in real time. By combining these technologies that accelerate analytical processes with fine strategies from the communication specialists who operate them, we achieve a winning formula. Brands have the opportunity to respond quicker and with greater sensitivity to the specific and varied needs of their customers and their communities.

In 2018, we predict that marketing communications specialists will increasingly use AI to create personalized and sustainable relationships for their clients.

Prediction #4 – The practical predictive analysis

While we are barely recovering from analysis in real time, here comes artificial intelligence’s (AI) new capabilities to predict future behaviours. More accurate than the tools used for weather forecasting, algorithms can build predictive calendars and determine the best times of the year, week or day to send messages. Others can predict the influence that a personality will have on his/her followers, or evaluate the impact and duration of corporate news.

Imagine the possibilities not only in marketing communication but, in crisis management!

In 2018, we predict the emergence of predictive analysis tools and programs that will be upgraded and become much more accessible to companies and public relations firms.

At the same time, in 2018, we predict that the fine experience and judgment of communication consultants will remain necessary to properly assess in advance the impact of communication actions.