05 / 20 / 2016
NIPSCO gives the dark something to fear
1 / 22 / 2016
I’ve spent the better part of my career communicating about road and sewer construction. Glamorous, I know, but it’s important to educate residents about publicly funded projects.
In the late 1990s, the media informed residents about municipal issues. People listened because they had to, especially if it impacted their bills, taxes or front yard. While the traditional media continues to play an important role in briefing the public about potential impacts, social media is shifting the conversation and motivating people to take action.
Nowhere is this more evident than the unfolding drama in Flint, Michigan. If you’re not familiar with the issue, Flint residents must buy bottled water because the public system has dangerous levels of lead, copper and bacteria. Lester Holt’s NBC Nightly News segment about the drinking water in Flint struck a chord on Jan. 6, and it quickly went viral.
The “gotcha moment” in the story?
When Flint switched from Detroit’s water source to the Flint River, the dangerous toxins could have been treated by adding phosphates to the water for about $100 a day. Anyone who buys bottled water knows that residents are cumulatively footing a bill much larger than $100 a day.
Holt’s story got the nation’s attention. All major news services and publications are covering the issue, and officials on the federal level – and even President Obama – are heading to Michigan to get involved. Celebrities are donating cases of bottled water by the thousands. While building better water treatment facilities isn’t exciting, pictures of young children holding signs that read, “Stop poisoning us,” and “We need clean water,” are.
Nationwide, engineers and elected officials have warned residents that they need to invest in infrastructure for decades. But nothing has had the impact of the Flint case.
When I shared the Flint story on Facebook, several people asked if I had clients in Michigan.
I, like many of the 5 million people who’ve shared the story, recognized that this could have happened anywhere.
Thirty years ago is when action needed to be taken, but it’s not too late. And – thanks to NBC Nightly News, the adorable children in Flint and social media’s sharing power – perhaps residents, not elected officials, will be the driving force.The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.
4 / 24 / 2015
As Borshoff’s Digital Director, I look at trends specific to the digital world. Some of these are extensions of what we’ve seen happening during the last few years, and some are entirely new strategies being executed for the first time. Below are four trends that will be instrumental for brands seeking to maximize their digital presence in 2015.
With the growing number of consumers using mobile devices to access content from anywhere at any time, marketers will need to focus on mobile-optimized content and social strategies. Mobile ad revenue is expected to more than double to $24.5 billion by 2016. And, mobile ads perform 4-5 times better than online ads (iMedia Connection).
In addition, Google has reported they are placing additional emphasis on whether sites are mobile-optimized, and clarified that mobile usability is relevant for optimal search results. And, mobile searches will surpass desktop searches for the first time in 2015 (eMarketer).
With all this in mind, marketers will need to consider how mobile users are interacting and consuming information, and develop optimized content, mobile ads, and social strategies that are streamlined for viewing on a three inch screen.
Businesses are realizing that pushing ordinary or run-of-the-mill content does little to attract customers or increase search position. Creating quality content specific to the customer and their journey trumps creating a large quantity of posts they don’t relate to. Provide free articles, eBooks or white papers that offer true value to customers to increase engagement and subscribers. Creating valuable content across multiple channels will build trust, establish expertise and increase the likelihood customers will purchase your product or service.
In 2015, digital marketing personalization is becoming more necessary to rise above the growing content chatter. Innovative tools such as HubSpot, Marketo, and SimplyMeasured have emerged to support personalized digital marketing strategies. Personalization strategies attract customers with content they enjoy, while providing a wealth of data to adjust your strategy. By doing so, you will see an increase in location-targeting capabilities paired with retargeting (ads targeted to consumers who interact with certain brands) to create a more personalized digital marketing solution. A user’s digital footprint can be used in marketing automation to provide more customized, relevant, and valued content.
The use of photos and videos by marketers is shown to yield higher consumer engagement. This is supported by the rapid growth of image based social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine and SnapChat that have the ability to connect with people on an emotional level. Successful digital campaigns will incorporate image-based marketing strategies into multiple social channels. Not all audiences will be drawn to image centric advertising, such as boomers, so remember to dig into your audience data to make strategic decisions on the types of content that work best in each channel.The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.
1 / 08 / 2015
Social media connects the world in amazing ways. With the tap of your smartphone or click of the mouse, you can keep tabs on your best friend, favorite celebrity or former flame (hey, no judgment here!).
The rules of engagement for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and similar social networking sites are pretty informal. But LinkedIn is designed to be different. LinkedIn’s mission is – in its own words – to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. It’s business-oriented, and typically, subscribers use it to connect with people with whom they’ve had some type of professional or academic interaction. But in recent months, I’ve noticed a shift. I’m slowly starting to receive invitations to connect from people who I’ve never met. Never went to school with. Never crossed paths with. Nothing.
This got me to thinking: when is it appropriate to extend an invitation to connect? Though there are no strict rules of engagement, I still believe there are some basic questions that should guide our LinkedIn behavior:
If you can answer yes to any of these, then I believe it’s okay to click on the invite button.
Generally speaking, there’s little to no value in connecting with someone to whom you have no connection professionally, academically, socially or otherwise.
Of course, there are grey areas. For example, what if your new contact is a client or new business prospect?
Then, it depends. I believe you have to gauge the temperature of your interaction; assess whether you think he or she is open to connecting.
Anytime you choose to send someone a LinkedIn invitation, I recommend including a note that indicates why you’d like to connect, especially if it’s not immediately obvious to them. But remember, just because you send them the invitation, they’re still under no obligation to accept it.
Are there any other LinkedIn etiquette tips you’d like to share?The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.
9 / 25 / 2014
In my lifetime, I’ve lived in six different states: Wisconsin, Idaho, Colorado, Virginia, Texas and Indiana. But, I’ve lived in Indiana the longest, and since I settled down in Indianapolis after graduating from Butler in 2008, I have called Indiana home. I have a lot of pride in my state and am excited to raise my family here.
To keep things interesting, I’m always looking for fun and new ways to experience the Hoosier State as well as connect with the world in a broader sense. Needless to say, I was thrilled when I heard about ALL-IN, a digital competition designed by Indiana Humanities that challenges Hoosiers to think, read, talk and do. Launched in March, ALL-IN inspires us to learn more about Indiana, connect with each other and make our state even better.
And it’s not too late for you to get involved! Here’s how it works:
Check it out here, and go ALL-IN. Perhaps you’ll try an ethnic restaurant, find a new Indiana hidden gem, perform a random act of kindness or learn about when your family first came to Indiana. And if you love it, this could be a great challenge to take on as a company or organization – email email@example.com if you’re interested in signing up as a group.The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.
11 / 06 / 2013
Much has been written about bullying in recent years. The effect it can have on one’s mental health and physical behaviors is troubling to say the least. To make matters more complicated, bullying doesn’t just occur between children in the classroom or on the neighborhood playground. It’s all around us on social media, in our workplaces and, most recently, in an NFL locker room.
My colleague, Andy Pollen, wrote a piece last month about thinking twice before hitting send and living by the Golden Rule. The pictures you post and the comments you make online last forever, and being rude behind a faceless avatar is no way to live.
But what happens when you witness bullying in person? Do you look the other way or let the parties involved hash it out? Or do you do something to help?
I’m the husband of a first grade teacher and bullying is a frequent topic of conversation at the dinner table. I’m also a former athlete and believe that bullying (or hazing) has no place in sports, our schools or our places of work.
The most recent high-profile example of bullying came late last week when news broke that bullying on the Miami Dolphins football team caused a teammate to voluntarily leave the team. While many NFL analysts, executives and former players are calling the actions of those involved inappropriate and appalling (and rightly so), some are upset the situation wasn’t handled privately in the locker room.
When faced with bullying, leaders need to lead. When faced with bullying in their organization, leaders must assess the situation and solve it as quickly as possible. Every organization is different, and running an NFL franchise certainly presents a unique set of challenges. However, bullying is not an individual problem. It’s a cultural problem. If it’s present in your workplace or school, it speaks to many things—but one is a lack of leadership.
As a public relations practitioner for an agency I greatly respect, I witness the power of leadership and collaboration every day as a way to solve crises and bring groups of people together. I’m lucky to see such leadership in action every day.
The best part? Anyone can be a leader. All it takes is the courage to stand for what’s right and a voice to be heard.
If you see bullying in your organization, don’t be afraid to speak up or offer a hand to those in need. Be a leader. You might have a greater impact than you realize.The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.
10 / 18 / 2013
As children we’re encouraged to live by the golden rule. Whether it’s sharing toys or minding your P’s and Q’s, we spend the early years of our life and education learning to be a team player and respecting others.
But lately it seems we are rewarding bad behavior.
Grumpy Cat just signed an endorsement deal with Friskies’s, Simon Cowell made $95 million last year, and Oscar the Grouch has held the same job for 44 years despite his personality.
Why the sudden uptick? I blame social media.
Browse Facebook, Twitter or a news outlet message board and you’ll likely see a flurry of narcissistic, bullying comments directed at any number of public or private figures. It’s hard to tell if people are interested in exercising their First Amendment right, or hoping the right person will see the comment, send it viral and bring them one step closer to the new American dream — 15-minutes of fame.
This isn’t a new phenomenon (the first case of cyber bullying was tried in 2000), but it’s certainly growing at pace with the acceptance and variety of social media channels for all age groups and backgrounds.
It’s also seeping more and more into the mainstream. Now that everyone has a platform for sharing their personal thoughts, bad behavior isn’t just accepted, it’s rewarded. You too could have a snarky comment broadcast over an episode of The Bachelor!
It’s a thin line between a minor dustup and teary-eyed Today Show mea culpa, so as a public relations professional, it’s good for business. I’m just surprised that in an age when a reputation can be destroyed with 140 characters that more people don’t treat social media like radon.
My parents always taught me not to say anything if I couldn’t say something nice, and I try to follow that mantra in the digital world. For the most part I keep to neutral topics — light on politics, heavy on cat pictures — but even I’ve been roped into a social media maelstrom (i.e. the great Chick-fil-A debate of August 2012).
I realize that harnessing social media would be like lassoing a unicorn, so I’m proposing that we, as consumers of digital media and conversation, take more personal responsibility and follow this matrix before using a social media service:
This is a crucial time in the lifespan of this medium. It’s time to adapt, evolve and lay the groundwork for future advancement. It may feel like it at times, but social media isn’t – nor should be – an area where civility is relegated to the backseat.
Our digital footprint is, for the most part, permanent. That offhanded Tweet from two years ago is actually the proverbial cockroach. It’s not going away and it’s going to show up when you least expect it.
All I’m asking for is ownership and responsibility. I’m not saying the use of this matrix will prevent future social media reputation suicides, but it’s a good place to start.
 Donegan, Richard. “Bullying and Cyberbullying: History, Statistics, Law, Prevention and Analysis.” Available at: https://www.elon.edu/docs/e-web/academics/communications/research/vol3no1/04DoneganEJSpring12.pdf.
9 / 24 / 2013
If you ask me, social media is pretty old news now. We get it. From Pinterest to Google+ to Instagram to Twitter, each platform has significantly changed the way our society functions. But besides the entertainment, news and engagement, have you given thought to how you personally could use social media to enhance your own day-to-day agenda?
In the past couple of months, I’ve taken a second look at some of my favorite platforms to see how they can help me. How can I capitalize on these free tools? Let me show you what I’ve discovered.
Twitter: Your Platform for Customer Service
Recently, I spoke to a friend about a customer service issue I was having. Since I was not getting much help over the phone, she suggested I reach out to the company via Twitter. “Really? You think that would work?” She told me her story…
Holly sent one tweet out about how much she liked the new home energy report from IPL Power. Shortly after, she received a goody bag and handwritten note from IPL thanking her for the kind words. Talk about superior customer engagement – she spoke and they listened!
As a result, she is now a loyal IPL customer and I’m going to utilize Twitter to inform the brands I use when I have a customer complaint or kudos. Not because I want a goody bag, but because I know companies want to hear from their constituents—the good, the bad and the ugly. Wouldn’t you want to know? I encourage you to do the same.
YouTube: Your Platform for How-Tos
Confession. I’m one of those millions of viewers who watch cat videos and other entertaining videos on YouTube for a good laugh. However, recently I’ve been digging through YouTube for other types of videos: hair and beauty tips. That’s right, I’m not really talented in the hair and makeup department—but other people are—and I thank them for posting their “how-to” videos.
Thanks to a YouTube video, I’ve finally mastered the “sock bun” and have shared the video link with several coworkers who wanted to learn, too. If you’re struggling with a “how-to” project, I encourage you to type it in the search bar in YouTube. No doubt, a step-by-step video will appear that will help you master it!
Instagram: Your Platform for Photo-sharing
I love Instagram. It’s turned into my favorite social media platform, taking a front-row seat to Facebook. Scrolling through the images of friends, family and celebrities (I know…I know) gives me a chance to see something through someone else’s eyes.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve found hashtags to be quite useful on Instagram, just as they are helpful on Twitter and Facebook. Being able to search keywords for content that includes the same hashtag takes photo-sharing to a whole new level.
This year, I’ve been planning for my wedding in January and decided to create a unique wedding hashtag that will be shared with guests. The guests can then post their pictures on Instagram with the hashtag for all to see. I’ll look forward to going back to the hashtag to enjoy the memories captured.
If you have a special event coming up, consider creating your own hashtag and spreading the word so you can photo-share as well.
Do you have a unique way you use a social media platform? Do share! I’d love to hear about it.The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.
8 / 19 / 2013
“Do you have a second?” I’m asked this question a lot throughout the day. Granted, the person asking never really needs a “second” because what can really be accomplished in that amount of time? Not much, right? But in doing some research recently, my theory was proven wrong.
In our digital world, a lot of information is being shared fast, really fast. In fact, here are some statistics that show just how much is happening every second:
Every second! These numbers are daunting to me, as I try to understand the digital revolution. But then I think about my own habits, what I do digitally every day (every second of the day), and it all starts to make a little more sense. Whether I’m discussing a rich media ad campaign with coworkers or uploading my son’s first day of school photos to Facebook, I’m now asking the question, “What am I doing today that isn’t digital?”
When you send your next Tweet or post a photo to Instagram, keep these stats in mind, realizing you too are part of this communications revolution.
2013 digital statistics from MistMedia, Dublin, Ireland: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Slb5x5fixk4The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.
3 / 14 / 2013
The use of social media – Facebook, in particular – is a great tactic to cultivate and engage certain target audiences. Often, to gain traction and increase visitors to social media sites, organizations turn to contests or giveaways. What’s better than the possibility of winning an iPad or concert tickets to pull people to your social media sites?
But, before you post that contest and start the promotion, you would be wise to read the fine print – specifically the legal restrictions provided by Facebook. When looking for information on contests, refer to the “Promotions” section of the Facebook usage terms. Although all terms should be read thoroughly, of greatest interest are the following:
Of additional interest is the Offers section, which maintains that an organization cannot run an offer if the product or service was not directly manufactured by the company or if the company is not a merchant for the product.
Remember, all promotions or contests are also subject to applicable local, state and federal laws.
Bottom line: Facebook is a great way to promote a contest or giveaway, but try to keep the functionality of the actual promotion away from social media unless you have a good grasp on the guidelines. That way, you avoid potential pitfalls and drive traffic to your website.The views expressed by this employee blogger are not necessarily the views of Borshoff, Inc.
1 / 16 / 2013
Yesterday, Facebook announced a new feature called Graph Search. It takes advantage of Facebook’s existing social graph and allows users to sift through data collected from their friends. Facebook provided examples of the feature including searches for “dentists my friends like,” “music my friends listen to,” and “friends who work in my company and like to ski.”
As with previous major changes to the site, there will be excitement and concern, functionality and friction. Here are a few positive and negative takeaways from the announcement: