It probably comes as no surprise that one third of all respondents in a consumer study run by Hubspot said that social media makes them “feel awful” or close to it. In a world where everyone and their grandma has a strong opinion – and a Facebook page – posts about current events and news are ubiquitous.
62% of US adults are getting their news through social media. These news articles are primarily being shared on Facebook. In fact, Facebook is the favored source of 66% of all adults who consume news primarily through social media.
Given the current political and social climate, many of these news stories tend to be negative. In contrast, respondents said that positive content from friends and family can provide an escape from negative news stories. Non-news posts made by family and friends are familiar to the viewer; they make them feel at home and less unsettled by the goings-on in the news.
So, how can your brand stand out among the negative posts and unpleasant emotions associated with Facebook? The key lies in identifying why people are drawn to your brand. What positives can you bring to their life? Be familiar, like the posts they see from friends and family. Have a cohesive brand voice and be conversational with your audience. Keep your content upbeat, and even if posting about something unpleasant (ie a hurricane), stick to the positive impacts your brand is making (ie, donating to the Red Cross).
If you keep things upbeat and familiar, you’ll begin to stand out from all the negatives and keep people happy to view your content.
Your company is growing. The work is mounting, and you know increasing bandwidth is the next step. If increasing bandwidth includes bolstering your communications team, do you hire staff? Or do you engage a communications firm?
Or maybe it’s the opposite. Company sales are slumping. And you know that if you could just get your story out there, the new work would begin to flow. Again, do you hire staff or engage a firm?
You’re facing a valid question, and the right decision will depend on a number of things:
- How important is it to have someone on site, all the time?
Do you need to be able to pop in to his or her office on a moment’s notice for a discussion? If you only need to meet with your communications team once or twice a week to touch base, or are comfortable communicating electronically, having a full-time staffer in the office doesn’t provide a significant advantage over hiring a firm.
- How sure are you of the actual duration and the scope of work?
Here’s the thing: if you hire someone to do a full-time job, you’re going to want to get 40 hours of solid work out of them every week, right? Hiring a firm that has the flexibility to ramp up or shift down based on need can give you more flexibility.
- Do you need multiple skill sets?
Communications encompasses a variety of skills and expertise (paid search, public relations, events, web development and design, etc.) Does the person you’re hiring have the necessary skill set to get the job(s) done? Are they comfortable doing press releases and doing web design if needed? A good communications firm will have specialists on staff that can handle various aspects of communications. This specialization means the quality of work may be higher than if you hire someone that doesn’t have all of the skills you need.
- Do you have the necessary skills to get the person up and running?
Onboarding a new hire is a lot of work, especially for smaller businesses and organizations that may already be understaffed and/or overworked. Larger organizations may already have the capacity and economies of scale to identify and vet candidates, hire, and train. If your organization is already stretched thin, it may be too much work to go through the hiring and training process.
Sometimes organizations will retain a firm then convert to staff. In fact, a communications firm can help you make sure you hire the right person, set strategy, and conduct the on boarding.
If you’re still not sure, err on the side of caution. Begin with a firm because you can always terminate the program if your needs change or if any issues arise.
Bringing on and training an employee can be time consuming, and once that person is a full-time employee, parting ways can be difficult if your needs change or if it’s not working out for any reason. What once seemed like a solution can turn into an HR nightmare very quickly.
Of course, these are just some issues to consider when deciding whether to hire a firm or hire in house for your communications needs. To properly weigh your options, it’s best to consult a professional to take a deeper dive into your organization’s needs.
At Targeted Persuasion, we get this question all the time. The truth is, it depends.
What are you trying to accomplish? What’s the difference in a public affairs firm and a public relations firm? Aren’t they the same?
A public affairs firm focuses more on the political sphere. Its primary aim is to build and develop relations between an organization and politicians or governments. Public engagement and policy advocacy are well within a PA firm’s wheelhouse, as shaping public opinion around policy is a specialty.
Public affairs firms also perform some of the same functions as a public relations firm, especially when seeking publicity for organizations and responding to media issues and inquiries.
Public relations firms perform much broader functions. While public affairs can certainly be a component, the larger aim of PR firms is to manage the spread of information of and about an organization to the public.
If you are trying to shape public opinion around a policy, then I encourage you to seek out a public affairs firm.
Here’s why your choice of a public affairs firm matters:
- Public Affairs Firms Understand the Political Landscape.
Politics is a public affairs firm’s specialty. They have a background and previous experience working with local politicians in their city and state. This intensive background translates to a deep understanding of the political landscape in the area.
Public affairs firms are comfortable using polling to shape messaging and determine strategy. They can take your issue and know exactly what to do with it- who to go to, where to air the concern, and how to go about informing the public.
Remember, one tweet can sink your battleship before it even leaves port, so leave the messaging up to an experienced captain. Protect your message and put it into the capable hands of a public affairs firm.
- Public Affairs Firms are Comfortable Working with Lobbyists and Elected Officials.
A public affairs firm has relationships with lobbyists and elected officials already built out. This means that you can use their networks to advance your cause, rather than trying to build those contacts from scratch yourself. This will leave you ample time to work on the meat of your project, rather than worrying about setting up meetings with officials.
- Public Affairs Firms Know How to Craft Messaging to get the Public to Take Action.
Public affairs firms have a toolbox filled with ways to get the word out to the public about your issue. They have tried and tested petitions, town halls, and action alerts, each of which engages the public in a different way. Depending on your needs, the firm will craft messaging to get the public on board with your issue, leading to a successful campaign and the results you wanted.
Public affairs firms and public relations firms may seem indistinguishable at first glance, but the differences become clear. If you’re trying to get the word out about a campaign relating to policy, a public affairs firm is the clear winner. They understand the political landscape, they are specialized in outreach to local lobbyists and politicians, and they know how to craft attention-grabbing messaging. Use a public affairs firm to advance your campaign and you won’t be sorry!