by Adrianne Offermann
As a Las Vegas public relations professional, it's hard enough to cut through the noise to get your clients message heard and now the increase of fake news adds even more clutter. There's a lot of buzz about fake news right now, especially following our recent election. So, the question is, what is fake news and how do we avoid getting duped by it?
Five Feeds I Follow...Instagram Edition
by Marina Nicola
I spent the first 10 of my 20+ years in this career in broadcast journalism. Early on, I developed an appreciated for visuals that were quick and to-the-point, yet conveyed a message. Of all social media feeds, this is the reason I've really taken to Instagram. As such, here are feeds I follow:
@BuzzfeedTasty: The food is just enough to be visually tantalizing to look at but just far enough out of my reach that I don't think for a moment that I'm going to cook that myself tonight for dinner. Sprinkle in a few funny memes and I'm happy.
@ToryBurch: It never ceases to amaze me how pretty and serene Tory Burch seems to be. (She so does not look 50.) I love seeing posts about people and places inspiring their designs, e.g. Jackie Kennedy and the occasional sketch of next season's shoe.
@NotCommonFacts: Here are some fun talking points for your next cocktail party - Ryan Reynolds failed acting class. The human brain essentially named itself. Men who kiss their wives before leaving for work get into fewer accidents. A polar bear's skin in black. There's more where this comes from. Now you know. You're welcome.
@MotivationMafia: Some days I do need to be reminded I am never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream, gosh darn it. Whew, I needed that pick me up.
@ScaryMommy: As the queen of my blue kingdom, it's fun to see my thoughts turned into memes. Yes, raising kids is my cardio. I do indeed whisper to myself, "I need to stop" as I click "Next Episode." Even their Boomerangs give me a midday laugh.
(Honorable mention for this goes to @BigCityMoms.)
In Pursuit Of "Likes"
Nowadays, it’s all about how many likes your posts receive on social media. Whether the page is your personal account or it's a page you manage for work, likes are in. The challenge? It is difficult to get likes and you don’t want to pay people to like it for you. Let us break it down.
HOW DO YOU GET MORE LIKES?
- The Purpose - If you’re posting a photo, what’s the occasion? Is it an anniversary? Is it a holiday? Make sure to capture something unique, pair it with an intriguing caption and that will likely increase the number of people liking your posts.
- Time of Day - Based on your target audience, post accordingly. If school is out and you want teenagers to see the post, post it between the afternoon and midnight. Those are the times when they are most active online. Try not to post anything too early or too late when most people will be asleep and it could get lost in the feed.
2. The Hashtags
- #whatisahashtag - Always include a hashtag related to your post as this allows people to search for certain key words and your post can be viewed by anyone who has searched that hashtag. For example, if you post a photo about food, include hashtags such as #food, #foodie and #foodlover - which are popular tags that get visited daily.
- #dontoverdoit - Man, do people hate when hashtags are used excessively. That is one of the most popular pet peeves in addition to posts with unrelated hashtags. Stick to a limit of two hashtags that are tied to your post or caption.
3. The Tagging/Checking In
- Tag - Tagging is acceptable is when you tag your friends or people you know and who are in the photo you’re posting. Not only will it give your account an authentic feel because people will know you’re real, but it will also encourage your friends to like the photo.
- Checking In – Check-in on social media at the fun locations wherever you go. Not only does it help them receive new page visits by your followers but it also helps your photos get viewed by anyone who searches the location.
Don’t pay people to like your photos, just post good content.
How Rude Are You?
Nothing like a fun and innocuous listicle to make you suddenly paranoid about the 306 emails you send on average before lunch. Yes, email strips a conversation bare. Tones are easy to misconstrue. But in a today's workplace, emails are necessary so you may as well learn to sound pleasant as you're sounding the alarm. Here are a few tips about rude emails from our friends at Forbes.com:
1. The Compulsive CC And Reply All
CCing people all the time is one of the most annoying things you can do via email. I'd say it's the most annoying, but this honor is bestowed upon the excessive "reply all." If someone sends an email to you and a bunch of other people, do you really think every recipients needs to get another email from you saying "thanks?" They don't.
2. The Way-Too-Brief
All too often, the cause of the email conflict is an imbalance between the effort in the initial email and the effort in the response to that email. When someone types up a detailed paragraph outlining important issues, they expect you to respond carefully. Sending back "Got it" or "Noted" just doesn't do the trick. This is unfortunate because this is rarely the sender's intent. The best way to avoid being misinterpreted in a brief response is to share your intent. Even responding with "I'm a little busy but should be able to read it later this week" comes across much better than "Got it," which a lot of people will interpret as indifference.
3. The "URGENT" Subject Line
Subject lines that say "URGENT" or "ASAP" show complete disregard for the recipient. If your email is that urgent, pick up the phone and give the person a call.
The key to avoiding "URGENT" subject lines is twofold. First, if the issue is best dealt with in any form other than email, then that's how you should be dealing with it. Second, if this is not the case, then the issue lies in your ability to create a strong subject line. After all, people check their email frequently, so as long as your subject line catches their eye, it will get the job done. If a client needs an answer today, then simply make your subject line "Client Needs Response Today." This maintains the sense of urgency without setting a rude, desperate tone.
4. The Debbie Downer
Sending emails that consistently tell people what they do wrong and what they shouldn't be doing really takes a toll. Even if you are trying to offer constructive criticism, you need to avoid negativity in your emails at all costs.
Whenever you find yourself using engative words like "don't," "can't," "won't" or "couldn't," turn them into positives. Making this change transforms the entire tone of the message. For example, instead of saying, "You can't complete reports like this in the future," say, "Next time you complete a report, please..."
5. The Robot
It's easy to think of email as a way to get something done quickly, but when you do this to the extreme, you come across as inhuman. You wouldn't walk into someone's office and hand them a report to do without acknowledging them somehow. Jumping straight into the nitty-gritty might seem like the most effective thing to do, but it leaves a lasting negative impression. Fixing this one is simple. Just take an extra second to greet the person you're writing to. This keeps the tone much more respectful than it would be if you were to simply send assignments.
For more information, go to Forbes.com.
Tips for Public Relations Leaders [Time Management]
Between having a Las Vegas public relations company, raising kids and just living life, my to-do list can get longer and longer if I don't stay organized. For me, I literally have my schedule laid out in advance and more often than not, the day begins at 6 a.m. and doesn't end until 10 p.m.
Ever since we began Vox Solid Communications in 2011, I've made more of an effort to read articles and studies regarding time management---including tips and tricks from public relations CEOs and fellow business owners.
Getting from point A to point B to point C is not always easy. Here are some of my tips for making it through the day.
Time Management Tips
1.) Eat the frog
This is my personal mantra. I take a look at my to-do list and I schedule the hardest things in the morning. Why? That is when I am most awake and once I get the hard projects out of the way, I can get through the rest of my to do list.
2.) Don't check email in the morning
(Well at least that's what all of the experts say.) That's much easier said than done. The idea is if you do, you immediately let others needs and wants trump your carefully constructed to do list.
3.) Schedule drive time
No matter how many appointments and meetings you have, being on time is imperative. Budget ample time to make it from one place to the next and put it in the schedule. And while you're at it...
4.) Schedule everything!
I schedule all of my meetings and the drive time, projects and appointments. I even schedule when to pick up the mail, shop for groceries and everything else in between.
5.) Leave one hour open at the end of the day
Make this the time when you make those calls and finish up outstanding projects for clients. These have to be easy things that take about 5 to 10 minutes and easily fall through the cracks during the day.
Nothing Quite Like the Holidays In Vegas
As most people prepare for Thanksgiving dinners and holiday shopping lists, the world of PR professionals plug away event after event in the city of glitz and glamour.
Don’t get me wrong, we love the holidays and all of the fun celebrations that come along with it. In fact, several of our Las Vegas dining clients are offering special holiday dinner menus for Thanksgiving including a 4-course treat at Andres and a 5-course meal 56 floors above the Las Vegas Strip at Alizé. Even before the holidays get in full swing though, we have Ferraro’s celebrating their 30th anniversary with $30.30 4-course dinner.
The holidays also bring no shortage of celebrities around town, ours just happen to come in the form of wax. This month, Madame Tussauds LAS Vegas welcomes One Direction. We just announced the 2016 arrival of legends Donnie & Marie Osmond and we have more celebs coming before the year is over.
As for The Mob Museum, November features events such as, "The Real Story Behind Casino," a free monthly community safety forum. On Nov. 15, Kefauver Day offers free admission to Nevada residents.
A few of our clients can’t wait for December. pediped can help you get your holiday shopping started with a special 10% discount offer, starting Nov. 10 in honor of 10 successful years in business. SPEEDVEGAS lets you give the gift of speed with their recently released gift cards. If you are looking for luxury money can’t buy, Junior Achievement is offering special access to some of the greatest rooms on the Las Vegas Strip through their Suite Holidays annual event. Santa Claus is coming to town and Papillon is helping get him here. He will be arriving via helicopter to surprise Opportunity Village on Nov. 20.
Make the most of what’s left in 2015 and enjoy everything our fine city has to offer.
How to Pitch PR
This next blog installment is for media. Bloggers. Writers. Photographers. Our agency is based in Las Vegas. Naturally, we receive a steady stream of media requests for our clients. Ranging from a quick 10 minute interview with an executive to a 2-day photo shoot, if there is a media crew coming to Las Vegas, we know about it.
We know media live hectic lives with extremely tight, intense deadlines. But help us help you. Here are some tips for first-time media before you call:
-Check the calendar: We used to say July was a slow time of year due to the summer heat. Just this past year, we have heard from numerous PR colleagues say, "Now it seems there is no slow time of the year." That said, if you're coming to Las Vegas, check convention calendars and event calendars. If there's a big event happening, chances are everyone is full.
-Come during the week: Weekends are a very busy time in Las Vegas. Leisure visitors are filling the rooms, restaurants and attractions. Monday through Wednesday are the best days of the week to visit.
-Number of guests: Particularly during Spring Break and summer, we receive a lot of requests for families. As Las Vegas' visitor profile continues to diversify, it's no surprise media want to bring kids. We understand that but please disclose that upfront. Oftentimes, restaurants may not be as kid-friendly or an attraction might be as appropriate for the little ones. If we know upfront exactly how many people are coming, we can do our best to assist.
-No bachelor parties: You should definitely come to Las Vegas for a bachelor or bachelorette party. But don't ask for a comp on a Saturday night for 8 people and say it's for "research."
-PR people talk: It's a small town. We can definitely help secure additional components of your trip and/or connect you to the right person.
We hope these tips help! We can't wait to see you in 2016...
Vox Solid Communications: The Origin Story
Today, we have a little #TBT dispatch about the origins of Vox Solid Communications.
Starting our own PR Agency happened slightly by accident, believe it or not. We had both worked in-house at Las Vegas tourism bureau and had amazing jobs that saw us traveling the world with Elvises and showgirl models promoting Las Vegas as the most desirable destination for leisure and business travel. At the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, we promoted not only the Las Vegas Convention Center and all its exciting business events and tradeshows, but also every Las Vegas resort, fine-dining restaurant, exciting Las Vegas attraction and more. It was exhilarating.
We also had the good fortune of meeting some of the most delightful people who handled public relations and marketing for all the resorts and attractions along the Las Vegas Strip, downtown Las Vegas and beyond. Back then, we probably didn’t realize our relationships with the tourism community would play an instrumental role in shaping the next professional chapter of our lives.
Fast forward to today, when Vox Solid Communications has established itself as a go-to PR agency for Las Vegas tours and attractions, as well as some of the best restaurants in Las Vegas. It so happens that some of those relationships made years ago, while working at the LVCVA, are among those that gave us our start as an independent agency.
A travel writers’ convention wayyyy back in 2005 brought Marina and Erika into contact with Darla Cook, vice president of PR for Forever Resorts. Forever is a wonderful company that operates boating marinas, houseboat rentals, lodges and tours in some of the United States’ most beloved national parks and outdoor recreation destinations. When Erika made the move to leave her corporate job for the more flexible schedule of a freelancer, Darla was the very first person to reach out and inquire about starting up PR services. Of course, Erika was excited to have such an amazing client right out of the gate and is “forever” grateful (see what I just did, there?) for Darla’s vote of confidence way back when.
Meanwhile, Marina’s career path eventually brought her the chance to work with the Papillon Group, whose helicopter and airplane sightseeing tours to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas were legendary. Both Marina and Erika had the occasion to travel to industry tradeshows overseas while at the LVCVA, where they got to know the sales and marketing executives for Papillon, Robert Graff and Irit Langness. They introduced Marina to the Halvorson family, Papillon’s owners, and recommended she handle media relations for the growing number of domestic and international media clamoring to cover the company’s Grand Canyon flights. The rest is history. This year, our company was delighted publicize Papillon’s 50th anniversary as the largest—and now longest-running—air tour company in operation.
One other client has been with us since the very beginning: Andre’s and Alize—legendary Las Vegas chef Andre Rochat’s two reputable fine-dining restaurants at Monte Carlo and Palms Casino Resort, respectively. Again—fine dining was one of the most indulgent parts of Las Vegas we had the pleasure of touting while working for the LVCVA. Securing Andre’s and Alize as clients was a privilege and working with Rochat’s amazing team, including the talented chefs and the gracious and sophisticated General Manager Joe Marsco, is an absolute pleasure.
To be honest, when we decided to join forces and form Vox Solid Communications in 2011, we already knew we worked well together. What we didn’t expect was that our small (but awesome) combined client base would grow so quickly and we’d be compelled to hire our first employee before that first full year was over. Our deep understanding of the Las Vegas destination has enabled us be successful for our clients—but our prized relationships with those clients is something we’re truly grateful for and do our very best to nurture.
Clips and Impressions: The Joy of Tracking
As a Las Vegas public relations agency, we have a great variety of travel and tourism clients and we love getting to be a part of their team. We believe in our brands and enjoy getting to tell their stories.
One of the most tedious, but also most rewarding parts of our company’s responsibilities is providing reports every month showing all of the coverage we secured. This is crucial to the value of our strategic PR efforts because after all, if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, did it make a sound? If an outlet covers our clients, but we don’t track it, did it really run?
So I take great pride in calling this one of my main responsibilities at Vox Solid. At any given time while working on these reports, I have about five different web sites open I use to track coverage. Google is my best friend. It is amazing what you can find! I don’t often limit my search to Google news because I find it misses a lot, but I do limit it by date range. That seems to be a huge help.
We also use companies like Vocus and Compete to get the impressions each hit generates. This is like gold to me. Being able to show our client not just a beautiful clip, but also share with them how many impressions it generates brings the wow factor to the table.
Recently we had a special event for one of our clients and the report showcased more than seven billion impressions. That was a new record for us, and the client. This isn’t how it goes everyday, but we sure do celebrate those kind of moments.
Las Vegas is a fantastic city and thankfully journalists are never tired of covering it. This equals constant media coverage to read through and track, but in my book that’s a great problem to have.
Our reports are a great mirror reflecting all our team’s hard work and the value of our outreach for our clients business. At the end of the day, all of the tedious work is more than worth it.
Snapping Sensational Food Photos
Chances are you have recently found yourself sitting at a table in your favorite restaurant so wowed by the food in front of you that you felt inspired to take a photo of the culinary treat and share with with the world.
Us too. All of the time, actually.
Whether we are enjoying a delectable champagne brunch with friends, or we just sprinkled the final chocolate shavings ontop of our hubby’s homemade birthday cake, we’ll probably want to capture these moments and broadcast them to our peers. As we know, people have an innate desire to share our joys and victories with the world.
In the marketing realm, visual content continues to make powerful waves, and image-driven social channels - such as Pinterest and Instagram - continue to rapidly grow. This importance of creating engaging food photos is especially key in food and beverage industries.
Lucky for us, the evolution of technology and social media has created virtually effortless methods to snap high-quality, fabulous photos and immediately publish them to the world. Sounds easy, yes? It's supposed to be simple, right? Then, why is it that sometimes our food photos turn out looking like blurry, tragic kitchen catastrophes?
Well, it really comes down to a few simple rules to follow when capturing food images. As PR and social media professionals regularly working with dining clients (and as passionate foodies), we’ve spent some serious time ironing out the kinks and doing our homework on what it takes to create an awesome, publishable food photo.
Curious what we've learned? Here are a few tried-and-true tips to creating mouthwatering food photos:
Lighting: Natural light and ambient lighting make for great photos. This can be tricky as many restaurants prefer to operate in darker settings. Is there a candle on the table? Slide it near your food. Is there a window nearby? Grab your gorgeous salad and snap a photo of it in front of the window’s natural light..
Picture quality (a.k.a. Don’t force it): Try to avoid dark, blurry or overexposed photos. The cameras on our phones are quite fantastic these days, so you have a technological advantage. And keep in mind that our eyes are very discerning – we generally prefer symmetry, clarity and brightness. There’s no reason to post a washed out, blurry photo. If you try your best and the photos are still looking a little whacky, maybe wait until your next culinary outing (with hopefully better ambiance) to post pictures.
Filters: Don't be scared to use them! Instagram’s filters add depth and beauty to your photographs. But, sometimes the orginal lighting is best. Trust your eye!
Cropping: Remember: a photo sharing app like Instagram crops in 1:1 ratio. In other words, all photos on Instagram are square. Also, focus on the details. Zoom in and create close crops when you can, so that your subject can easily be seen on a mobile device.
Be creative and tell a story: Let us see the world through your eyes. No one can tell your story better than you. First, trust your instincts. Then, play. Experiment with camera angles, tone and food styling. The more you experiment, the better and more unique photographer you will become.
So, there you have it! These tips should get you started on creating fun and powerful visual food photos. Whether you're a restranteur, social media manager or a passionate foodie, the ability to creatively share your story through images has never been more relevant (or fun!). And, if you'd like further assistance, just give us a call! We're always looking for new ways to help clients generate creative marketing content.
How to Pick a Photo Shoot Location
Isn't it ironic?
We're a PR and marketing agency. Our clients span and media outreach span the globe. Yet, when it comes to marketing ourselves, it's always a to do that seems to fall further and further down the to do list.
Vox Solid is hiring a full time PR manager.
Do you still watch the news? Pitch magazines and blogs?Check social media feeds? If so: Vox Solid Communications is seeking a full-time PR manager with a minimum of 5-7 years of experience. Primary job functions to include: respond to incoming media inquiries and coordinate fam visits; proactive media pitching and follow up; proficiency with Twitter; staff photo shoots and client meetings; draft news releases and press kit documents. Position now available.
When Life Hands You Lemonade Cookies
Our Las Vegas PR firm often works with well-known Las Vegas attractions, tour companies and some of Las Vegas’ best restaurants—but we also are passionate about our community. One of our local non-profit clients, Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada, recently tasked us with a request outside the scope of our typical public relations services. They’re hosting the September gala, Dessert Before Dinner. As part of their décor, they wanted a lemonade stand—a cute photo opportunity for chefs and Girl Scouts to pose behind and to display cookies on. The only question our team had: who would make it?
PRSA President Resigns
Today the Public Relations Society of America announced the resignation of its President, William M. Murray. Murray had an outstanding seven years leading the PRSA, and all of us here wish him the very best.