As each year comes to a close, we like to sneak a peek into the SHIFT archives to see our content hits and misses. When devising a content strategy for a new year, it’s important to take note of what worked (and why) to plan what’s to come next year. Want to see how to do this for your blog? Here’s how.

Our top posts from the fourth quarter of 2016 focused on why press releases don’t work, learnings from IBM’s World of Watson, and guidelines for social media tragedy response. Let’s take a look:

Press Releases Don’t Work

What occurs a thousand times a day but is rarely noticed? A public relations professional publishes a press release.

SHIFT dove into some data and determined that, on average, over 1,000 press releases are published every day. And press releases are not inexpensive – even “lost cost” press releases tend to cost between $200 and $1,200 per release. This all adds up to a total cost of $47-283 Million this year alone.

So after spending all that money to publish all those releases, what is the end result? Do they actually have a positive effect? Read more to find SHIFT’s full findings on the results of press releases.

What PR Professionals Should Have Learned at IBM World of Watson

Our own Christopher Penn attended IBM’s premier analytics and insights conference, World of Watson in October. Over four days, he learned about the future of cognitive computing – artificial intelligence and machine learning – and how it will change the world of public relations.

While not represented as a PR event, every PR company that wants to have a long, fruitful, sustainable business should have at least one person attending IBM World of Watson. Because AI and cognitive computing are the future of PR. PR isn’t just press releases and bylines – it’s information. Everything we do is about putting information into the world. And as an information industry, we are powered by data.

IBM’s World of Watson and events similar to it are how PR agencies can grow. If we sit back and let such tools pass us by, someone else – someone data-driven and prepared – will swoop in and leave us in the dust. So how do you prevent that? Take a look at the key trends revealed at the event for PR professionals.

6 Guidelines for Social Media Tragedy Response

We were recently asked on Twitter:

In recent months, many national tragedies have occurred. In the wake of these tragedies, what’s the appropriate social media behavior? Is it OK to tweet/post in the immediate aftermath? If so, what is appropriate? Your regularly scheduled posts? Or posts related to the tragedy? Or is it better not to post at all?

This is a very complicated question. Most of the advice written about handling major/national issues is too simplistic and “one size fits all”. But when it comes to responding to tragedy, there is no “one size fits all” answer.

Rather than a knee-jerk policy of “stop the presses” or an endless stream of “our thoughts and prayers are with the victims” posts, we as communicators, as fellow human beings, must balance our humanity with our duties and responsibilities to our companies.

With that in mind, when an incident of any kind occurs, carefully consider the following five factors to guide your response: Proximity, Magnitude, Impact to Your Audience, Alignment with Your Brand, and Judgement.

Read more to find out how these all play together. But the one thing you should NEVER do is attempt to leverage a tragedy for marketing benefit. There may be no “one size fits all” approach, but there is one hard-and-fast rule: never market sorrow.

Angie Goldman
Marketing Analyst


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