10 Tips for Taming SurveyMonkey

Surveys can be an excellent way to generate media opportunities and gather data to support your key messages. One of the most popular sites to use for creating surveys is SurveyMonkey. In order to produce the results you want, execution is key. However, if you’ve never used this tool before, it can be tricky. Below is a checklist of best practices for creating and promoting a survey for your PR or marketing program—this is no time to monkey around!

 

  1. Plan, plan, plan. The most important thing to do when planning a survey is to determine what your main objective is and to formulate the right questions in order to reach your ideal outcome.
  1. Think like your audience. When writing your survey, be sure that the questions and answers make sense and are easy to understand. You want respondents to be able to navigate through your survey without any hiccups caused by unclear wording.
  1. Spice things up. Use different types of questions to keep your survey interesting and your respondents engaged, i.e. multiple choice, ranking and open ended.
  1. Control V. You can manually type in each question and answer, or you can copy and paste into the text boxes. The latter can be a huge time saver if you already have approved text.
  1. Concise is nice. Make sure every question you ask gives information that will help you accomplish your main objective. Survey fatigue begins to set in after about 20 questions. Answer quality will decrease after that, so be mindful of the time commitment you’re expecting from your respondents.
  1. Be logical. Your survey may include multiple paths based on how respondents answer certain questions. This will require you to use the “page logic” and/or “skip logic” features. Page logic allows you to jump from a question on one page to a new question on a different page. Skip logic allows you to skip from a question on a page to a different question on the same page. Use these wisely to give respondents a more personalized experience.
  1. Practice makes perfect. You should have several people run through the test version of your survey multiple times, taking each path, in order to check for any malfunctions, errors, or mistakes in the logic.
  1. Pick your poison. Will you purchase respondents or use an existing list to deploy the survey?
    • Leverage SurveyMonkey list(s)
      • SurveyMonkey offers incentives to the people on their lists and handles the distribution of your survey for you.
    • Email the link
      • You can create a custom list or use an existing list to mail out the survey link with instructions.
    • Post the link on social media
      • You can easily share a link to the survey on social media platforms with a message asking your followers to complete it.
  1. Responsible for responses. If you purchase a SurveyMonkey list, you will need to specify the number of responses you need. The survey will automatically close when the desired number of responses has been reached. There is a required minimum of at least 50 responses.
  1. It’s all about results. You will be able to view the results several ways.
    • Question Summaries – This gives you a breakdown of every answer for every question. The information is presented in a bar graph with percentages, as well as in a chart with physical numbers and percentages. This is the easiest to read and most helpful option for analyzing the results of your survey.
    • Data Trends – This utilizes bar graphs to portray any trends that may have occurred within each question.
    • Individual Responses – This allows you to view each completed survey, one by one, to see how every respondent answered each question.
    • Excel Export – This gives you the option of downloading an Excel spreadsheet with all of the results by clicking “Export All.”

With SurveyMonkey, you can develop, distribute and analyze your survey to provide reporters with important statistics and proof points. Getting reporters to cover your survey results requires effective execution and promotion. Remember these 10 tips and get started on your survey today!

Breaking Through on Wikipedia

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Ah Wikipedia! The stand-alone source that almost everyone goes to when in need of instant information that is written in plain language on just about anything. With so many people using Wikipedia, adding your story to a wiki post can increase awareness, visibility, credibility, and traffic to your website.

Wikipedia can serve as a valuable channel when leveraged appropriately, in an unbiased way.

Here are 5 tips to posting on Wikipedia:

1 – Research: Before jumping into the Wiki-sphere, it is critical to review posts where you think your input would be suitable. It is best to steer clear of pages with limited information or many errors. If a Wiki page has many postings from different contributors, try and join the conversation in the best way possible.

2 – Wording: Always stay neutral. One of the five pillars that form the foundation for all Wikipedia policies and guidelines is that Wikipedia has a neutral point of view. This is what makes it such a valuable source for its users, so Wikipedia does everything in its power to stay that way. Posts that appear to be self-serving or biased will be deleted. Additionally, posts that are taken verbatim from another site will also be deleted. Posts must be written in plain language or you will not be accepted as a contributor.

3 – Plan: Plan your approach. After conducting your research, make sure you write down everything you plan to say for your contribution. Determine where, and in what order, you plan to post. It will look suspicious if you are contributing several posts on one page, so post to one page and then move to another. This also spreads your name around to various topics, which helps increase credibility and visibility.

 4 – Timing: While you may be eager to establish a page for your brand immediately, it is best to start with baby steps. After determining your plan of pages to contribute to, post once a week and slowly build a reputation across various sites. Be patient – it will pay off!

 5- Sources: Every post you add in Wikipedia needs a source. Period. If you can’t find a source on what you are trying to say, then rework the post so you can add a source. Your source cannot be from a company website, it needs to link to third party articles such as news sources or press releases posted on news sites.

Do you have any other tips for building your Wikipedia presence? Leave your comments or tips below!

Post by Patrick Reilly, Strategist

Graphic Design 101 — The Creative Brief

First things first: the Creative Brief.

So, what is a creative brief?

Think of a creative brief as a sort of map that will lead the team’s creative thinking from problems to solutions. Now, more than ever, creative briefs are a necessary first step. They provide a skeleton or blueprint for your creative approach, which includes well-identified and well-articulated summary of the key factors and variables that can impact a project. It also includes things like client preferences, information about competitors, business and brand goals, and project particulars. Attempting a project without a brief is like going on a journey without a map.

 
A creative brief will answer the following questions:

  • How is the project defined? What is to be created?
  • What is the purpose of the project?
  • What are the challenges, if any?
  • Who is the audience (both business and end-user) and why will they be interested?
  • Where will the end product be used?
  • What are the brand guidelines and how much of the brand should apply to the project?
  • Who are the competitors?
  • What are the client’s specific preferences/likes/dislikes?
  • When is the project due? What are the expectations both internally for the team and externally for the client? What are the milestones along the way? (if the project is multi-faceted)

Who creates a creative brief?

It is extremely important that the creator of the creative brief has a true knowledge and context of what is needed for the project. There should be a level of insight into how the deliverable will be used and the expectations of the client. The creator of the brief should truly understand the goals of the client and should hint at the beginnings of creative strategy so that the team can utilize this information to further develop creative possibilities and ideas.

According to Communication Arts, (http://www.commarts.com/Columns.aspx?pub=5861&pageid=1627) here is a sampling of Creative Brief content:

1. Background summary. Who is the client? What is the product or service? What are their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT)? What does this client value? What does this brand stand for? What is their position on social responsibility, culture and technology? Can the client provide any research and reports that help us understand their current situation?

2. Overview. What is the project? What are we creating and why? Why does the client need this project? What are the client’s key business challenges? What’s the real opportunity? Are there any emerging ideas and trends to consider?3. Drivers. What is our goal for this project? What are we trying to achieve? What is the purpose of our work? What are our top three objectives? What are the essential consumer, brand and category insights? What thought, feeling or action can we bring to life? How will success be measured?

4. Audience. Who are we talking to? What do they think of the client? What will make the client more appealing to them? Why should they care about this brand? What inspires, motivates, interests and amuses them? Who are they talking to? How can we help them better connect with their own community? What causes buzz in their world? What competes for their attention?

5. Competitors. Who is the competition? SWOT analysis on them? What differentiates the client from them? What are they telling the audience that we should be telling them? How and where do they engage with the audience? Why are they really better (or not)?

6. Tone. How should we be communicating? What adjectives describe the desired feeling, personality or approach? Discuss how content (images/words), flow of information (narrative), interaction (physical/virtual) and user behaviors (pro/con) should affect mode and style.

7. Message. What are we saying with this piece exactly? How can the client back that up? Are the words already developed or do we develop them? What do we want audiences to take away?

8. Visuals. Are we developing new images or using existing ones? If we are creating them, who, what, where are we shooting and why? Should we consider illustrations and/or charts? What type of thematic iconography makes sense and is appealing? How do existing style guides and brand manuals affect the project?

9. Details. Any mandatory info? List of deliverables? Pre-conceived ideas? Format parameters? Limitations and restrictions? Timeline, budget? The best delivery media? And why?

10. People. Who are we reporting to? Who will approve this work? Who needs to be informed of our progress? By what means?

Managing the Creative Brief

Of course, once the brief is created, it should be a reference point throughout the project and managed as such. As a common ground, the brief becomes the center of the project and grounding point for ideas that may stray too far.  Creative directors, art directors and account leads alike should look to the brief as their map to success and any changes to the direction should be noted for all to see!

Post by Lauren Innella, Principal & Creative Director

5 New Ways to Increase Your Twitter Followers

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“If you build it, they will come.”

Maybe that statement works for building baseball fields, but it doesn’t hold true for boosting Twitter followers. Gaining followers takes work. Half the battle may be creating an account (and getting the best handle name known to man), but the other half is what matters most – following and being followed. It’s essentially the entire premise of Twitter.

For PR specialists, Twitter can be a vital tool for disseminating messages, reading breaking news and reaching reporters or editors. Growing your followers can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. My colleague discussed this topic on our blog a while back, below are five additional suggestions on how to increase your followers on Twitter:

1. Treat Twitter like a short-term addiction

A recent article in Forbes, written by @dorieclark, suggests making Twitter your top priority for a month or two and creating lots of content. Studies have shown that the more you Tweet, the more followers you’ll get. Therefore, Tweet as often as possible!

2. Live Tweet

Top Ten Social Media (@TopTenSM) suggests, “being a live Tweeter for events in your industry.” Determine what conversations your followers react to and then join in on the live convo. In fact, according to a Nielsen Social data report, AMC’s Breaking Bad had the greatest reach of any TV series on Twitter in the U.S., from Sept. 1, 2013 through May 25, 2014. Thanks to stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul live tweeting during the series’ finale episode, a record 9.1 million people were reached on Twitter.

3. Start using Twitter Cards

Just this past June, @twitterintroduced Twitter Cards that promise to drive traffic to your website and make your Tweets more engaging by attaching rich photos, videos and media experience to Tweets. Simply add a few lines of HTML to your webpage and users who Tweet links to your content will have a “Card” added to the Tweet that’s visible to all of their followers. This can help make your Tweets more engaging and thus increasing the odds of gaining more followers.

4. Show your true colors

More simply put – show yourself. Your Twitter will become boring to followers if it’s a list of article links that you find interesting, and followers can’t sense a personality behind the screen. Tech writer @jmbrandonbbsuggests inserting a few jokes here and there. Followers may be more inclined to stick around longer when they feel like they’re interacting with a real person and not a robot.

5. Ask questions.

That’s what my dad always told me, anyways. In an article posted on Mediabistro, writer @AllisonStadd advises to ask for a retweet (RT) in your composed Tweet. This can help you expand your network quickly!

Boosting followers can be a game of trial and error. Figure out what works best in your industry, come up with a game plan and execute. What other tips do you have to help users increase their Twitter followers? Leave suggestions in the comments section below.

Post by Lindsay Hull, Senior Strategist

Changing Your Perspective: 5 Tips for Successful Change Management in Marketing Programs

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Change is a constant – in business and in life. Embrace it or fight it, there’s no denying it. Change is disruptive, often messy and always challenging. It is also necessary for innovation and growth. In marketing, it is vital to innovate often – moving faster and smarter than your competitors.  Where new products and solutions are concerned, the first to market has a clear advantage to dominate mind and market share. Even established brands that fail to recognize user needs and respond quickly, and with the right message, are in danger of becoming irrelevant. Apple’s iPod took out the Microsoft Zune not because it was a dramatically better product, but because Apple did an absolutely fantastic job of marketing the device. Almost 10 years later, the iPod is practically a synonymous term for MP3 player, and I can’t name you a single competitor.

Similarly, managing internal change and innovation, such as the development of a new website or the implementation of a new strategic marketing plan is all about embracing and leveraging change. The most successful businesses understand change is inevitable.  They don’t resist it – they pay attention to it, anticipate it, and strike while the iron is hot to make the most of it! These are the businesses that end up influencing change. At Zer0 to 5ive, we have had the honor of working with some amazing and innovative companies, and in doing so, have been able to observe the beauty of change and innovation when it’s done right.

These are my top (0 to) 5 tips on the successful management of change.

 0. Always start with research.

Proactive research will ensure you’ve got your finger on the pulse of the market. Identifying market trends and understanding customer buying habits, demographics, economic shifts and competitive landscape can guide your team in making smarter, faster business decisions. It also provides your team with a compelling business case for change and a platform to start selling the idea internally.

1. Buy-in starts with the executive team, but it shouldn’t end there.

Getting the buy-in of the executive team is an important starting point for every change initiative. Unfortunately, it often stops there. Lack of communication or mishandled communication can create resistance and negativity down the chain of command. Sell the vision and the benefits of the change so that everyone involved is excited as opposed to fearful.

2. Have a plan.

Seems pretty obvious, no? A lot of people say they have a plan, but in fact only have a vague notion of how they are going to get from Point A to Point B. In my experience, change is a whole lot easier if you have mapped out your path and shared it. While any plan is (theoretically) better than no plan, a good plan will provide clear and concise direction and include timelines, milestones, roles and responsibilities, challenges, potential roadblocks and measurable goals.

3. There is no such thing as over communication.

Clear and frequent communication is an essential aspect of managing change. People fear the unknown. Communicating ideas, progress and yes – even problems – helps people to feel more involved and secure. Good communication bolsters confidence and makes people feel more secure. Additionally, open dialogue can lead to creative solutions for problems your team has yet to face, cutting the time it takes for your message to reach the market.

4. Focus on what’s important.

You’ve established a strong foundation through research, gained buy-in and insight from your organization, put together a killer plan and communicated it effectively – now all that’s left is delivery! Keep the team engaged, communicating and focused on the right activities at the right time for the right result. Focus on the end goal and execute against the plan.

5. Be flexible, open minded, and embrace the unexpected.

Roll with the punches and have fun!

Post by Cole Naldzin, Director

A Few To-Do’s When It Comes to Website Creation

essex_website_design1by Katie Cannon

Creating a website can be a fun and inspiring project, but can also become a headache if the right steps are not taken. Having an online presence is more important than ever. With more individuals beginning the buying cycle online, an easily findable, informative ans functional website can make a world of difference.

At Zer0 to 5ive, we find developing an effective website is a tightrope walk between creativity and delivering up to the standards mandated by your client. Remember you have been hired by your client and the ultimate creative vision is their’s. This does not mean you cannot be creative or engaging. Communicate the client’s key messages in a professional, yet original and innovative way will help set your site apart from the millions of other .coms in the space.

Here are a few tips I have learned from experience that can help you take your website development to a new level:

• Connect with your client. Get into their mind – what are they looking for? What image and message do they want their website to convey about their company? Connecting with the client from the start is crucial – getting on the same creative page as your client will save you countless headaches down the road and make each stage of design, development and implementation a breeze. Ask them for sample art, photos and other sites to draw inspiration from

• Luckily, there are millions of new Web 2.0 features available for free to no cost. Investigate what features and widgets would help you best achieve your client’s goals. Think about what you can provide to your client that will keep visitors engages. What can you present that will make your client standout in the marketplace? How can you help give your client the WOW factor? Consider social media, embedded videos, click to chat, rss feeds blogs… the list goes on and on.

• Your home or landing page is the first page a consumer sees and without engagement, site visitors will quickly abandoned the site. This is why creativity is so important. Being able to engage or interest the visitor immediately will go a long way. Think outside the box and have fun with the design. Yet, keep in mind that the website should still come across professional, clean and innovative.

• Communicate with your client. Make sure you understand what they want and how they want it done. Website development is a long process – not having a set communication method will only make the process longer. A timeline is crucial during the site launch preparation. Have weekly update meetings to ensure you and your clients are on the same page and creating a friendly repartee with clients can help plant the seeds for future working opportunities.

• Keep it search-friendly. Now-a-day’s an overwhelming number of consumers search through today’s major search engines. If you are building your site in an outdated language implementing other elements that impede search engine rankings, your site will be impossible to find, this means you are missing out on some major dollars! Come download our FREE SEO white paper to learn more about how you can garner visibility on search engine result pages.

• Provide ongoing customer service – it’s all about the experience, and working well together. Your job is not done after launch. A good web-development team will continue to be on hand to assist with any potential bugs, upgrades or staff difficulties.

• Double check all of your work! No website should ever be launched without making sure all your i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed! Use all the resources available to you to proofread site content. Provide internal links to appropriate pages and be sure that every page can be found every time.

If you understand the importance of communicating and connecting with your client, then you should have no problem designing and launching a website together successfully!

Katie Cannon is a Marketing Strategist ant Zer0 to 5ive

Get Off the Beaten Path with “the Phone”

Emailing the media is easy. You draft your pitch, email the reporter and wait to hear back. On a good day, the reporter writes back that he or she wants to interview your client. On a bad day, you don’t hear back. On an average day, you probably still don’t hear back. So I ask, how can you rely solely on email when the top journalists are getting 100+ pitches a day and juggling deadlines, meetings and special requests from their managing editors?

I’ve found that using the phone is a complementary tool for pitching the media. The phone is not always appropriate when the reporter is on deadline, says “no” through email or you have not researched his or her recent stories and publication, but what follows are 7 ways to use the phone to your advantage:

  1. Time sensitive release: Just as football is a game of inches, PR is a game of minutes. Sometimes there’s just no time to wait to hear back from a reporter if the big event is the next morning or your client just launched the hottest medical device. Follow up by phone if you don’t hear back through email on important and timely announcements.
  2. Holiday weeks: Don’t underestimate the holidays. Some journalists will certainly plan vacations around the holidays, but the bottom line is that news marches forward and most journalists who are staffed around the holidays have quiet schedules and could be waiting to take your call.
  3. The “generic” email: Often magazines and newspapers will list an “info@” email for following up with key contacts. Calling these outlets directly and asking to speak with your intended contact insures that the right person hears your pitch.
  4. Reporter only responds to your first email: When a reporter initially emails back with interest but later becomes idle on follow-up emails, give them a quick call, assuming that you’ve given the reporter a reasonable amount of time to respond. Most journalists are actually ok with follow-up calls if you do your research.
  5. Voicemail: Don’t underestimate the power of voicemail. It’s non-invasive, and as I mentioned above, your contact could simply be swarmed with too many emails to ever open your pitch. Earlier this year, I pitched an event to the Los Angeles Times and couldn’t reach the right person by email or phone. I left a couple of quick and to-the-point voicemails and the next morning I found out that the morning assignment editor received my voicemail and sent to a reporter who attended my client’s event and wrote an influential article.
  6. Finding the appropriate contact: Usually a media database or publication’s website list the appropriate editors and beats. However, if you cannot quickly identify the appropriate contact at a publication, take a stab at calling the publication’s editorial desk for the most appropriate contact. Sometimes by calling you might even reach an editor who asks you to pitch them and with the proper research and good PR pitching they might encourage you to follow up with a specific reporter that will want to write a story.
  7. 100% belief in your pitch: I left this last because I feel that this overrides all situations in media relations. If you truly believe that the reporter is an extraordinary fit, you’ve done your research on the journalist and you just don’t hear back from emailing, try calling. At worst, if the journalist is not interested you can use this as an opportunity to find out how you can make your next pitch better or bring closure by crossing the contact off your list.

At the end of the day, our clients judge us by the amount of quality media coverage we can bring to the table. And the phone becomes another way to get out your story. I can tell you first-hand that adding the phone into the PR toolkit has led to additional media coverage that ultimately has increased client leadership and generated additional customers and revenue.

Post by Mike Levey, Zer0 to 5ive senior strategist
Image courtesy of Aussiegall via Creative Commons BY 2.0 license