High10 Welcomes New Team Members!

In the last month, two new colleagues have joined High10’s New York City office. Lauren Seewald has come on board as an Executive Assistant, and Paul Chronister joins as a Senior Account Executive from Kite Hill PR. We chatted with both Lauren and Paul to find out what they love about their job and this industry. We also talked all things NYC and found out about some of their favorite things to do in the city.

What do you love most about your job?

Paul: I love to tell stories, and I also love to promote the things I’m passionate about. I found PR to be an avenue where I can do both. I can help clients tell their unique stories and promote the work they’re doing to illustrate how they’re impacting the world around them. 

Lauren: Growing up I always wanted a career that aligned directly with my personality and my passions. I’m a huge people person, and I love to write and communicate. I wanted to make sure that when I entered the working world I would be in a field that enabled me to do both of those things. I love that when following this career path, every day is different and you never know what to expect. 

Tell us About NYC! Any favorite spots? 

Paul: I love catching live shows of my favorite bands in the park, hitting up Smalls Jazz club in The Village, getting lost amongst the stacks at The Strand Bookstore, seeing the latest exhibit at The Met and just simply walking the streets of NYC, because there’s always something new to explore wherever you go. 

Lauren: There are so many things I love about NYC. I love how everyone who lives here is so diverse, and I also love the whole aspect that there is always something to do. That would definitely be my favorite part. Whether you want to go to a concert, go to Central Park, see a Broadway show, enjoy delicious pizza, there genuinely is something for everyone every day of the week. It really is the greatest city in the world, and I’m so happy that I was able to have the opportunity to move here.

Welcome Paul and Lauren! We’re happy to have you on board.

How ‘Communications’ Became the New PR and Why it Matters

There’s an interesting but subtle change occurring in the way public relations speaks about itself and, therefore, thinks about what it does. Companies, like High10 Media, which once defined themselves as PR agencies now locate themselves in the field of communications. 

This shift might seem academic to most clients but the truth is that the change in nomenclature reflects currents that go deep below the surface. 

This change began to manifest around the time of the Great Recession, not coincidentally, the same time High10 was founded. It was then that we saw the convergence of two enormous forces of pressure: major budgetary constraints on the part of cash-strapped clients dealing    with the effects of the recession and, simultaneously, the emergence of incredibly powerful digital tools and practices. 

The result was, on the client side, much higher expectations as PR firms were being asked to achieve outcomes that marketing agencies (which many companies couldn’t afford to pay at the time) were once responsible for. On the other side of the client-agency equation, PR firms found that, with digital and social media coming into their own, they were able to offer a range of new services to meet and lead the increase in a new set of challenges.

What this meant is that public relations agencies which once specialized primarily (and, in many cases, solely) in speaking to the media became adept at speaking to a diverse range of audiences. We could use social media to communicate more broadly; and now empowered with digital publishing tools to delve into a client’s brand message with a level of nuance and effectiveness; communications teams could help clients publish op-eds on open platforms where they’d be fully in control of, and responsible for, their own message. The possibilities were endless.

Nearly a decade later, communications has emerged as a kind of super-set of marketing, advertising, and PR disciplines and practices. Although the field, like so many areas touched by the power of digital, has leapt forward, it’s still rooted in the same core principle that rooted its PR predecessor: finding original and effective ways to bring an authentic and compelling message to a target audience.

Far from having achieved any kind of stasis, the field is nascent and quickly evolving. The power of online tools—used to do everything from improve efficiencies to discover new audiences to engage them in fascinating ways—is staggering. And while we’ve made enormous progress, we still have yet to uncover miles of uncharted territory in this ongoing journey.

What is Crisis PR?

You might call it Murphy’s Law (as we do in the US), or sod’s law (as they do in the UK), or any other moniker, but, where PR is concerned, the real question is what do you do when things go wrong?

Crisis PR is the well-honed communications practice designed to help an organization or individual navigate the rough waters of a event that can have a significantly and lasting negative impact.

When done successfully, crisis PR is about creating and implementing a nuanced, deliberate and thoughtful process that:

  • Provides adequate, effective and candid responses to media and core audiences
  • Develops a message that helps audiences understand what’s going on
  • Offers a way forward that keeps the brand narrative on track

Doing this is difficult. It requires intensive, collaborative work with client-side teams, and a lot of creativity and decisive action on the agency side. So, how can you be prepared for a crisis situation?

There should be, at every organization, a framework or at least a plan to manage a crisis, which consists of (a) pre-crisis preparedness, (b) a crisis response and (c) post-crisis communications. 

Pre-Crisis

  • Get Media Training Now – A  designated spokesperson with Media Training can play a pivotal role in successfully addressing the media with poise and a clear control of the message.
  • Get Your Messaging In Order – Solid brand messaging will play a significant role in helping you ground your response in core brand values. Be prepared with a messaging document that includes these elements, as well as talking points.
  • Get Media Training Now – A  designated spokesperson with Media Training can play a pivotal role in successfully addressing the media with poise and a clear control of the message.

Crisis

When you’re in the thick of a crisis, even with the phones ringing, emails dropping, and social media lighting up, the first and most important principle is this: Stay calm. 

In practice, this means resisting the temptation to “put out the fire” with an off the cuff response. Rather, it’s time to take a breath, make a plan and, if you’re able, consult with professionals well versed in managing crisis situations.

That said, best practices include:

  • Get management on the same page, so everyone knows who’s doing—and, just as importantly, saying—what.
  • Communicate honestly to your teams, which sometimes means admitting you don’t know the answers at the moment.
  • Gather information so your communications team will have everything they need to respond to media, stakeholders and other constituencies.
  • Refer media requests to your communications team. If you don’t have a comms team on board yet, let reporters know you’ll return to them as soon as possible.
  • Maintain perspective and stay cognizant of the fact that the crisis will pass.

Post-Crisis

As the crisis ebbs, there’s always a temptation to return as quickly as possible to business as usual. But, especially in the period immediately following the crisis, it’s important to keep in mind there will be residual awareness of the crisis. 

That means you need to be thoughtful about your marketing and communications so you don’t stumble across a tripwire. 

Just as importantly, integrating what you’ve learned from the crisis into your communications and marketing programming will help strengthen both in the long term.

Congratulations!

Good Design

The First Three Months with Your PR Agency: Stay The Course!

By HIGH10 MEDIA

Patience, it’s been said, is a virtue. And though it might be relatively easy to be virtuous while alone on a mountaintop, while you endeavor to grow your brand’s awareness and connect your message to relevant audiences, patience might seem like the least of your priorities.

Despite this, the ability to patiently stay the course with a reputable and skilled communications agency, especially in the first three months of the engagement, will go far in seeing you through to the results you need. The question is how to discern whether you’re being intelligently patient or foolishly naive as you wait for results to show—and what you can do to keep the process smoothly and effectively moving ahead.

To help understand this, let’s start with a breakdown of these three crucial initial three months.

Month 1

Your first month will be all-important in establishing a solid foundation for the engagement. This is when you get to know the agency and, more importantly, when the agency gets to know you and your goals, your brand, company or organization.

By the end of your first month you should feel confident your agency understands your company and brand, knows your mission and vision, and has a precise understanding of the objectives and benchmarks for your work together.

On your side, you should be sure senior management understands and agrees to the strategy, objectives, and expectations of the engagement. And it is critical that your team share information that your agency needs to succeed. Keep them informed – not in the dark.

Month 1 Tip:

One way of making sure all of this happens is asking for a communications plan from your agency to outline the first three or six months of the engagement.

Month 2

The second month of the engagement is where frustration can arise. The bloom is off the rose, results this early in the process might not be completely visible, and anxieties can sometimes spike.

But that doesn’t mean work isn’t being done or that progress isn’t being made. In fact, an experienced agency will by this point be deep in its process, making headway with pitches, further planning, outreach to journalists and fresh ideas for story angles.

What you should be looking for here is a coordinated and wide-ranging communications effort that’s pushing on all fronts. While landing a piece in a top-tier national outlet is always a challenge—albeit a challenge good agencies are remarkably skilled at overcoming—doing so after eight weeks of less of work makes that challenge even more pronounced. So agencies will often use this time to build a media foundation with items in more niche or specialized outlets. In addition to seeking out this “lower-hanging” fruit, these kind of efforts give your agency a chance to test, calibrate and improve the message.

In spite of such a good foundation, it is common for an organization to become restless and frustrated within the second month should media outlets not become evangelists for your message.

Month 2 Tip:

At this point the more you communicate about the engagement, the more you’ll learn about what’s going on. Ask to be part of the process to whatever extent possible; a good agency will eagerly welcome your input and feedback. Weekly calls, status reports, and in-person meetings are an excellent way to make sure this happens.

Month 3

By month three you’ve ramped up, seen some first efforts in action, and (hopefully) kept lines of communications with your agency wide open. You’ve done everything right but still you might find yourself wondering if there’s any real chance the key objectives you laid out at the beginning of the engagement will be met.

In the meantime, you could be facing some internal pressure to get things moving. This is the moment where patience will play the greatest role. If you’ve gone through the steps outlined above, assuring yourself your agency is earnest, intelligent and working doggedly on your behalf, then it’s a matter of time before you see some serious results.

It’s important to bear in mind that, unlike with advertising, where billboards or air time can be bought at will, the news cycle is a wild and unpredictable beast. Editors, for example, might love items pitched about your company but their editorial calendars could call for that topic to appear only weeks or months down the line.

A major national scandal could knock a planned item about your company, and it might take weeks, or longer, to find another opportunity to place the story. This is the nature of the above-mentioned beast. We grapple with it because when things fall into place, as they always do, earned media offers advantages—like exposure, reach and credibility— that literally cannot be bought.

Month 3 Tip:

Rather than withdraw from the process, it’s time to double down on all the above: review your communications plan with your agency; speak openly about your concerns; ask questions and suggest ideas of your own. Even if you are seeing some great results, it’s still a good idea to lean into the process at this point so you can tee up the next quarter of collaboration with your agency.