How to prepare for a new business meeting

There are times in life where you sink or you swim. You can be presented with the chance of a lifetime, which you can grasp, or let fall through your fingers like a handful of sand. In the life of a startup, these opportunities come at you thick and fast, or at least they present themselves as such. Startup life is intrinsically reliant on agility. So, we move on and treat each new lead as if it can be the next big thing for our businesses. When these leads have been watered and are beginning to grow, they sprout into new business meetings. And, this is where everything can get very, very, real, and you need to be prepared. How? Read on.

Plan, plan, execute
Whilst you may have got through some team meetings by winging it, you will not get through a new business meeting by spouting whatever that double espresso flings out of your mouth. It’s essential to prepare an eloquent slide deck that comprises all proposals of what you can do for the prospective client. Do not make these slides overlong, word-heavy and dense. They need to be a pleasant backdrop to your words. Stick to short sentences and include powerful images. Don’t include words where none will suffice, and this will keep your eyes off reading the screen rather than actually presenting.

When creating the plan for what you are going to say, ask yourself some key questions:

  • What’s the best outcome of this meeting, and how do I get there?

  • What are the key points I need to make?

  • What do I need from the client?

  • What’s the backup plan if there’s a technical glitch?

You should voice record yourself answering these questions and then make your notes from your voice clip. This way, your notes will mimic your speech and your presenting style will be more natural and have a friendly flow to it. If you write notes and learn them word for word, you risk your presenting style being monotonous and boring. You want to engage your audience to believe your every word.

Research and converse
We all like to be made to feel special. If you can impress your client with knowledge of themselves and their company, you’re already in their good books. Delegate different members of the company for your team to research and pull together the most interesting things about them. This can be done by doing a social media sweep and by exploring their company history. Bring up what you have learnt about them in flowing conversation and it will give a back and forth to the presentation that will be impressive, and show that there is the potential for you to work well together.

Any questions?
There’s always a point in any new business meeting when the potential new client asks “So, have you got any questions for us?”. If a tumbleweed rolls past to a deafening silence, this is not good. So, from your research and from the conversation during the meeting, have some questions ready to ask your potential new client. If the client has been responding coldly throughout, this is your chance to break the ice. You can be as off-the-wall as you like, depending on how you want the client to perceive you. Don’t be afraid to be out-there. They'll remember you for it.

This is also your chance to shape the end of the meeting to your own ends. If there are things that you want to highlight about your company, ask questions that you can link back to great things that you have done. Be energetic, be inquisitive and win them over with how you present yourself and your company.

BY JAMIE GRIFFIN, JUNIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE AT CEW COMMS.

How to pitch journalists

There are a few ways you can define what a pitch is, from the quality of a sound to a level of intensity. In PR, however, it is the term we use to describe when we are approaching journalists with specific stories that we’d like them to cover.

For any PR professional, the components of a pitch are an essential string to their PR bow. The perfect pitch will produce the most fruitful ends - like a beautiful harp, comprised of the finest materials, producing beautiful melodies. These three steps below will help you approach journalists and have the potential to transform your business and your relationship with the media.

Do your research
Begin by finding a journalist that you think would be a good fit to cover your story. This can be done by searching on Twitter, or by finding articles with similar topics to the story you are planning to put out and seeing who has authored them.

In your pitch, you should show that you’ve done your homework: let them know why you are approaching them and mention similar articles they’ve written before. Give tangible and understandable reasons for why your story should run, don’t simply blurt out nothing statements such as “my company is so much better than [COMPANY], use it next time”.

Always keep the tone of the pitch positive and upbeat. You should come across as friendly, knowledgeable and confident, without seeming narcissistic and self-centred. This is not an overnight process. So, don’t be disheartened if your pitch doesn’t go to plan. Rework, reform and retry. Don’t get lost in self-deprecation, that’s not good for anyone.

Be agile
Whilst it’s completely acceptable to have a blanket term for beginning your pitches, they should definitely not all look the same. You need to really keep a close eye on your wording and if certain phrasing is not getting you any results, then bin it. Achieving pitch perfection is a marathon, not a sprint. You need to run those miles with agility at the forefront of your mind, shape-shifting your pitch to fit the needs and quirks of each journalist and publication that you send it to.

Show that you can devote as much time as they may need from you, to get your story to run. This can be in the form of offering a phone call or a coffee meeting. You want to make the journalist feel special, and that you’d go the extra mile for them.

Follow up
If you’ve taken the time to create a spectacular pitch for a spectacular publication, don’t rush to waste the time you’ve spent. After all, it’s much more beneficial to have one great piece than several generic ones, as a top-tier piece will filter down to the smaller ones anyway. Give the journalist some time to clear their inbox, and send a polite chaser email after a few days or give them a quick phone call.

Good luck, and happy pitching!

BY JAMIE GRIFFIN, JUNIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE AT CEW COMMS.

The power of the follow-up

Hi [NAME],
Just checking to see if you've had a chance to read this?
Please do let me know in any case. Thank you.

Best wishes,
[YOU]

A follow-up is as simple as that. But, hold on, the power that’s in those five lines cannot be understated. Power is bestowed onto a follow-up through various means, such as: it’s short and sweet, it pushes you to the top of a journalist’s inbox, it’s not intrusive and you are 40 percent more likely to get a response. It takes moments to get it done but can bear the most fruitful ends. A wise person once said “paralyse resistance with persistence” and we couldn’t agree more, as in PR it’s essential to remain tenacious and consistent.

Although we’ve stressed the positive qualities of the follow-up, if overdone, it’s easy to slip into their negative side. Treat a follow-up like you are frying a steak, with the desire to cook it to medium-rare. It needs careful cultivation, heat at the right moment and removing from the flame so as not to ruin the meat once the correct tenderness has been achieved. You cannot reverse the clock once you’ve overcooked your steak. So, you need to be on your toes and aware of all elements at work, just like in a follow-up email. If you bury a journalist’s inbox with follow-up emails, this is overdoing it, and within moments you’ll be labelled as an irritating spammer, which is a reputation that’s close to impossible to shake.

Personalisation in a follow-up can go a long way. Even if just a few words about a recent article that journalist has written, or an acknowledgement of a conversation that they have started on Twitter - sprinkling the correct niceties on the correct follow-ups could favour you.

If your deadline is pressing, follow-up over the phone. But make sure the call is short and you are not taking much time from the journalist. Do not bombard an inbox - you just seem pushy, desperate and rude.

People, and journalists especially, are BUSY, so do not be disheartened if you never get a response. Experiment with the follow-up, note what works and what doesn’t. It’s an ever-evolving and gradual process.

Regarding time specifics of when you should be following-up, it really depends on your sector and who you are attempting to contact. But, we’d not worry about the timing, and the morning is definitely on the cards. Just don’t be following up at 2 AM. That’s a bit odd. As we noted before, the whole persistent follow-up process is trial and error, so do not be afraid to fire follow-ups out and just wait to see what happens.

Overall, when working in PR, we recommend the 3 P’s. You should be:

  • Positive

  • Polite

  • Persistent

BY JAMIE GRIFFIN, JUNIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE AT CEW COMMS.

How to prepare to be on a panel

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Public speaking is a well-known inducer of nerves. Being nervous is not a negative thing, it simply means that something important is happening. And what’s more important than you being asked to be on a panel demonstrating all of your expertise in the field you operate? In this blog post, we will give you some conceivable real-world examples so you are ready when that moment comes.

If nerves are at the forefront of your mind, remembering this will keep them at bay. Being a guest on a panel discussion is far less taxing than other options, such as preparing for and giving a lecture. A lot of the panel discussion will arise organically, from the route that the conversation takes on the day. The questions will be targeted and they, of course, won’t all be fired at you, as there’s some other cannon-fodder sat next to you for an audience to shoot at. So, breathe. It’ll be a breeze!

We recommend reaching out to the panel moderator and the other panellists beforehand. Even if it’s just a quick ‘Hello!’ message, it’s always good to touch base with your co-conspirators before you take to the stage. Granted, we’re all time-poor and the first time that you meet your fellow panellists is often at the event, but a little message can go a long way. If you know the people who will be next to you on stage, meet for a coffee to discuss your plan for how you see the evening going. Even a brief chat can shape the evening to best suit your ends. Ask them if they have any questions prepared, and you could always prep them with questions that you would like to be asked, too.

Be sure to outline your main talking points before you take to the stage. These can be as brief as you like, and we recommend having them to hand either on a piece of paper or on your notes app on your phone, to make sure that you say all that you want to and to keep the conversation on track. By prepping before, it also gives you the upper hand if you speak first. You can direct the conversation in the way that you want it to go and shape the conversation to topics that you’re most fluent in.

On the topic of time, it shows the utmost professionalism if you can master the balance of it. This includes the amount of time that you have spoken for if this is too much or too little. A neat tip may be to set a timer on your phone or have a colleague in the audience prepared to notify you with a discreet hand gesture if you’re going over the imaginary time limit. You don’t want to be that rambling know-it-all microphone-muncher, it dilutes your words to a mush in your audience's mind.

The art of public speaking takes time to master, so do not feel like you need to reflect Julius Caesar in the Coliseum on your first go. Stick to the tips that we have suggested, and you’re well on your way to a great performance. Good luck!

BY JAMIE GRIFFIN, JUNIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE AT CEW COMMS.

How to be a networking machine

Today we are going to coach you, in various hypothetical circumstances, on how to network yourself. Your most marketable entity is, put simply, yourself. In a digital world, we must never disregard the importance and value in face-to-face interactions with clients and like-minded industry affiliates. In the same way, your social networking prior to in-person networking is hugely important.

Starting points
Hey, do you come here often? Said no one who ever made a valuable connection with a stranger. So, don’t use that cliche as a conversation starter. We know it can be nerve-wracking to be in a room full of important people, knowing that the drink in your hand is only going to last so long before you need to introduce yourself to someone new.

Well, we also know that these people probably aren’t complete strangers. Our world is so centred on social media and online platforms, map-pins could be placed on a bird’s-eye view of the room you’re in to show the interpersonal cyberstalking that has already occurred. So, let’s use social media as somewhere to begin, an icebreaker if you like. But, be careful, you don’t want to come across as a stalker.

Making your move
When you have your 'target' in sight, show that you are aware of their work and that you are interested in them. Also, provoke further conversation with a question (take these examples with a pinch of salt and expand where necessary).

“Hi, are you [NAME]? I loved your post about [TOPIC]. Have your responses to that piece all been positive?”

“Hey! [NAME]. Right? I’ve followed your Twitter for a while, you have a great eye for content. What’s been your favourite meme recently?”

“You’re [NAME] from [COMPANY], yeah? Amazing, I’m [NAME]. Our products are very similar. Here, I can show you how on my [SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM].”

And, friends, never forget to seal the deal now that you have them in your palm. Get them to follow you back and make sure that you follow up with that new connection afterwards. Putting the emphasis on gaining a new social media connection is only justified if that interaction remains fruitful. Your new acquaintance is a lot more valuable than a '+1' on your profile numbers, so be sure to message them or interact with them in the week following the event and uphold the goodwill that started when you met.

A wise person once said, “The next horizon will be deep integration of the physical and interactive worlds. The future of online is offline”. And, on that note, we need to stress the importance of purely organic, offline interactions. Networking is not universally loved, of course, and it can be anxiety-inducing to not know how to approach someone to start a conversation. A helpful tip in this situation would be to say hello by joining an already nattering group of attendees, with no awkward silence needing to be broken. Metaphorically piggyback on the conversation, and that's half of the hard work done already!

What better place to start than the bar? (Or any space provided with food and beverages). Alcohol is not required but having any drink in hand can be an added confidence boost and gives your hands something to do if you're nervous. It's also immediate common ground and a starting point. We all drink.

Alcohol is the age-old lubricant for sticky situations and it should be handled with the utmost care at networking events. If you do drink alcohol, do not over-drink! Another wise person once said: “Always be seen to be drinking and never be seen to be drunk”. We cannot stress this enough.

You want to build genuine connections here and alcohol poisons you into thinking that you have made deeper connections with people than you would do if you were sober.

First impressions are very important. But, so are the last impressions that you make. Conversations with strangers at networking events can often run dry and it's crucial that you are armed with tactics to politely and efficiently end the interaction and move on to talk to someone else. Utterances such as: asking who else you should meet, asking for their card, introducing them to someone else and simply thanking them for their time and saying goodbye are all apt in this situation.

Quick Networking Tips

  • Not everyone likes networking - it's a means to an end. Remember you're not the only nervous person there. Approach someone on their own and say hello - they'll likely be relieved!

  • Figure out who you want to meet before you get there. You may not know who is going, but you can build out the personas of the people you want to meet.

  • Don't be afraid to tell people who you are trying to meet or why you're there - you may get a helping hand!

  • Pay it forward - the network effect is strong. Help someone out and stay in touch - relationships develop over time and may yield results as they grow.

  • Be memorable - find a way to stick in someone's mind. Whether it's your conversation, wearing a bright colour, or being quick to follow up with them. Find a way to make sure you stay in their mind. Think of this as 'professional peacocking'.

  • Be polite - this goes without saying - and if you ever find yourself in a tricky situation or talking to someone really not relevant, politely bow out quickly! There's always more people to meet!

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* This post was originally published in our newsletter The Communications Workshop. Sign up to get more free tips on communications and marketing here!

5 steps to create the perfect blog post

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Perfection is in the eye of the beholder. And, we know, writing how to create the perfect blog post in a blog post is like googling ‘Google’. But today we’re going to outline the ways in which we think the perfect blog post is assembled, as it is an essential skill for any startup founder that’s looking to populate their website or social media channels with content. Blog posts are a great way to place yourself as a thought leader in the space, but only when they are executed perfectly. Here are our top 5 steps on how to get to this point.

1) Conquer your fear of failure
No great accomplishment was ever successfully undertaken that did not include the potential for failure. If an idea for a blog post comes to you, but you think it may be a bit too complicated or too daring to complete - pause for a moment. Then start writing. Whatever comes out, it’s essential that you put some words down on the page. Anything is better than nothing and even if a stream of consciousness typing session is the best that you can muster, you can come back to the document later on and flesh it out into a glittering piece of content. There are no set rules for a creative process.

Discipline with creative writing is a tricky beast to tame, as the creative inspiration can come in hoards or it can be near obsolete. This process is something that is perfected and procured over years of self-confidence building. It can seem like you’re writing something that no one would be interested in until it’s finished and the piece has gone viral. In essence, in life and in blog post writing, don’t be afraid of failure, because it will be the basis of your next success.

2) Stick to the process
A beneficial way to stay on track and on topic when writing the perfect blog post is to have a brief outline of the components for your piece. Of course, include the generic “Introduction” and “Conclusion” sections, but do think outside of the box with your other paragraph titles. A topic that’s a bit out of the ordinary will intrigue potential readers and can spur your creativity in the writing process too.

If you have previously written very well in a specific setting, such as the break-out area in your co-working space, or on a long train journey, do it again. A wise person once said: “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it!” and we couldn’t agree more. Do not torture yourself to write a blog post when you are not feeling like it, because your output will be worthless. Identify the signifiers that inspire you to write well, and where possible, replicate them.

3) Grammar is key
Whilst this may seem like it needs to go unsaid, you’d be surprised how many blog posts often feature grammatical errors. Grammatical rules exist so that we have a standard for how we understand the written word. It’s the backbone to any good piece of writing and it can be the making or breaking of your perfect blog post. Unfortunately, we’re not going to condense an English Language degree into one paragraph, so take a look at this perfect blog post to touch up your knowledge of grammatical functions. Also, don’t be afraid of using grammar help tools such as Grammarly.

4) Know your audience
It would be pretty tragic for a vegan food startup if they wrote a blog post about how battery chicken farms are ethical and that the mass slaughter of baby cows is not only acceptable, but there should be a lot more of it, too. Whilst this example may seem inherently unrealistic, you’d be surprised with the faux pas we’ve seen committed over our PR careers.

Knowing who is going to read your blog post, or if you’re trying to target a new audience, should tremendously influence the content of said blog post. Always keep the audience in mind and tailor your writing style, humour, formality and so on, to cater for them. If your blog post is going to be shared over your social media channels, a simple way to do this would be to check who is following those accounts. Whilst this is only the direct audience for the content (and public profiles means that the world can see them), it’ll give you an idea of your audience.

5) Content is king
Now that we’ve gone over the moral fibre of the perfect blog post, we must turn our focus to what it has in it: CONTENT! Have some fun with the title or headline, it’s the first thing that a reader will see and it must hook them in. Get your fishing rod out and cast it into the sea: and be sure to hook a HUGE fish - and reel it in!

It’s also essential that it looks as pretty as a picture. You shouldn’t be afraid to use GIFs, they are more and more becoming a mainstream media staple and they appeal to the ever-diminishing attention span of an online audience. A neat way to breathe life into your blog post is to have the GIFs relate to the copy itself. Who said that moving-image newspapers were only in Harry Potter?

Before pressing ‘publish’ on your perfect blog post, please make sure that all the links that you have included are correct. No one wants to click on a link for a funding round and be taken to your food delivery. Focus on making your blog post the best it can be, by tying up all loose ends.

BY JAMIE GRIFFIN, JUNIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE AT CEW COMMS.

4 things to keep in mind when organising a startup meetup

Long gone are the days where we heard of people invited to Facebook events for house parties that were public for a few regrettable hours, got out of hand, subsequently shut down by police and left earthquake-like debris for the homeowners. Now that we are older, wiser and more sensible, we know it’s best to organise meetups instead. Here are our top tips to keep in mind when you’re organising a meetup for your startup.

1. Make it interesting
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, here. But, and we’re not naming names, how many panel events about x y z can we survive? Think about what a startup audience REALLY want.

A sure-fire way to get a buzz going for your meetup is to secure a celebrity or industry famous face for a Q&A, Fireside Chat or panel discussion. Do you have any connections to any, either directly, through friends or colleagues? There’s no harm in putting some effort in to find out, you never know what may come off and if you don’t ask then you don’t get. If you are going down the panel route, make sure it is balanced.

Also, avoid a halftime break. Don’t make the content of your session too long and remember the value of leaving some time for people to network.

2. Location, location, location
If your office is based in London, it’s going to be tricky to get people to travel to rural Dorset for your startup meetup, even if it’s in a picturesque country home, nestled in rolling the English countryside. Make it as easy as possible for people to attend, with a 6 PM start on a nothing-night like a midweek Wednesday. No one wants to give up their Friday night, no matter how important your startup is.

People are busy, stressed and tired. So make your meetup seem like a welcome release from the working week, and like it’s going to be a joy to attend. Does your office have an event space? Great! Book it early. If it doesn’t, look for low-cost but high-impact options like a summer's evening in Hyde Park. Think a bit outside of the box, and don’t break the bank. There are hundreds of options here, but be sure to think of your audience, subject matter and relate it to the timing of the year and of the week. How best can these factors come together in the perfect event space?

3. Do you have any friends?
This isn’t a dig. We promise. But we all get by with a little help from our friends and you can always count on them, we hope. If you are looking to populate an event, whether that be on Facebook or on a popular meetup hosting website, never disregard the trusty superficial ‘Attending’ count on how people view that event. No one wants to go to an event with ‘0 Attending’, so send the link to your friends' group chat and ask them to sign up. They may not attend physically, but that +1 to the virtual attendee list will get the ball rolling.

Get your contacts to share the event, too. When you’re organising an event, there’s an epicentre of your closest contacts, colleagues and friends, that you should hit up. Utilise the trusted circle you can count on to attend physically or just online. Listing a startup meetup against the abyss of meetups already listed online is like being thrown in the deep-end. Your contact list will make sure you swim, not sink. Also, make sure you create materials so your friends can publicise the event easily.

4. New connections
Once your network has pushed the event to the extent that they can, it’s now time to focus on new connections. The easiest way to reach these new event-attendees is through social media, so be sure to draft a plan for your social content regarding how to target them. They are out there, in every nook and cranny on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Have at least two tweets or like content to post on all of these.

If you do not want to mar your beautiful Instagram aesthetic, you can always post a screenshot of the Eventbrite page of your event, on your Instagram story. Instagram is a perfect marketing tool if used correctly. You can reach an audience in a variety of ways: raw posts, sponsored posts, through embedded links in a Story, or by using an influencer.

Tag brands or other accounts in/on the images in the story and if you have over 10K followers then you can include a ‘swipe up’ function that takes the viewer straight to the Eventbrite page. If you don’t, then keep this as a goal for your page! Be sure, also, to save the stories as a Highlight on your Instagram page. Stories are perfect for growing brand awareness and traffic to other areas of your business. Stylistic choices in Stories, such as GIFs, appeal to the ever-diminishing attention span of an online audience. They also log who has viewed them, so you have an idea of who has seen that you’re putting that event on, too.

Happy planning!

BY JAMIE GRIFFIN, JUNIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE AT CEW COMMS.

5 top tips to write the perfect tweet

LMAOOOOOOO... *send tweet*
Oh my god… *send tweet*
I can’t believe… *send tweet*

These are often how tweets begin, either on the keyboard or as a prior thought process. The inspiration can come from anywhere. Out of the blue, in the deep blue sea, when you’re feeling blue or when you’re in seventh heaven. It can be an all-encompassing feeling, the need to immediately blurt out the nugget of knowledge that has flown into your head. But, let’s put the keyboard down for a moment. Never tweet out of haste. There’s always time to form, proof and press send with a clear conscience. We’ll outline here the five ways in which we believe the perfect tweet is curated.

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  1. Think of your audience

The immediate audience for your tweet is clear, due to the ability to see who is following you. These are the people who will have your tweet show up on their timeline and they may even have push notifications enabled that alert them to the fact that you have just pressed send on a beautiful anecdote about the world.

If you use Twitter in a personal capacity, the odds are that these people are real-life friends, family members and acquaintances of yours. They are probably used to your ramblings in real life and so you will feel like this means your Twitter is a safe space for your thoughts. Stop. If your account is public, this is NOT the only audience that’s turned up for your sell-out one-person-life-story show. Your audience is the entire connected world. Your tweet can be picked up by anyone without your consent *cough Buzzfeed cough* and you are then wide open for your words to be misinterpreted, with the potential to come back to bite you. So, just keep that in mind before your fingers start firing away.

2. Formation

In case you forgot, we are on the internet. This means that information is significantly condensed, chopped, screwed and repurposed for easy consumption. Don’t attempt to write Shakespeare’s next sonnet in your 240 characters. It will look bulky, clunky and chunky.

For one, other users will scroll past it with an ‘urgh’ utterance, and you’ll probably get unfollowed. Write in clear, short sentences that are punctuated by paragraph lines. This style matches beautifully with the manner in which the eye scrolls a screen. Chances are that eyes won’t grace your tweet for more than a matter of seconds and if it’s split into easily-digestible lines, this makes the readers job a whole lot more natural.

A great way to get in the habit of this is to use emojis as discourse markers at the start of each line. We all love an emoji. Use them sparingly and eloquently throughout, don’t vomit them out at the end.

3. Retweetability

Twitter is meant to get yourself, your brand or your company, seen. A perfect tweet would be one that invigorates others to repurpose it, in the form of a retweet, which is essentially them approving what you have written and wanting to get some of the glory.

Humour works well, but if we’re on more serious matters, then doing things like @ing other accounts and singing their praises, works well too. You can leave prompts throughout your tweet that you desire a retweet, or want to spur conversation, but it’s more professional to keep these subtle. “WOULD PROPER DIE FOR A RETWEET” is a bit strong, try using retweetable words, using hashtags and asking questions. Also, practice what you preach. Don’t be stingy with your retweet button on other peoples tweets either.

4. Interactivity

The internet may make us condense our meanings, but it’s essential to keep your meaning intact. If you have a message to convey to others, you must work within the constraints of a tweet to make sure that others properly and appropriately interact with your message. Interactivity comes in the form of seeing a rise in the number of followers, tweets, likes, shares, comments, clicks, video views, post reach and so on.

Be approachable and never indulge a troll or engage in a profanity-splattered Twitter beef. Answer those who appropriately respond to your tweet and ignore those hateful responses if they come your way. Lay out your Tweet on a plate, in the most easily consumable way, and make it irresistible for others not to like and retweet it.

5. Grammatical perfection

Now that we have curated your tweet, please check that it is grammatically correct. That means no spelling mistakes, no unwanted punctuation marks and correct @ing of the relevant accounts. There’s nothing more embarrassing in the Twittersphere than @ing the wrong account, which often happens to @JohnLewis, who handles it with the utmost grace and humour, but you don’t want to drag an unsuspecting user into your conversation. You wouldn’t shout the name of your friend into a crowd and then drag out the wrong person who answers to it and ask them what you would have asked your friend.

So, you perfect Tweeter, what’re you going to Tweet next?

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BY JAMIE GRIFFIN, JUNIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE AT CEW COMMS.

How to deal with negative feedback on social media

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We’ve all heard the fairy tales with a malicious troll residing underneath a bridge. You know, that demonic figure that lurks underneath your pathway, when you’re trying to get from A to B. These trolls never actually existed (we hope). But today, in the real world, we have many trolls. Living, breathing, monsters who hide under the many bridges online, spitting venom at unsuspecting - and often innocent - social media users.

If you have a public social media profile, by default, you are opening yourself up to the world. In the majority of instances, especially in personal accounts, positive interactions occur with your circle and a more condensed, wider population. However, running a business account on social media can make or break a company.

Customers or users can interact with each other and create a positive or negative image for your company or personal brand. A bad review or comment on social media could have a big impact on your company. From the vicious to the banal, we are going to show you how to deal with negative feedback on social media.

Don’t take it personally
If you’re receiving negative feedback to your business profile, remember that their comments are not personal to you, but to a product or service, your company offers. The internet has made this process a whole lot easier for the everyday consumer, who consequently has high expectations, with 42% of complainers expecting a response within 60 minutes. This attitude of expecting a close-to-instant response can cause some users to turn nasty. This is pretty daunting, as their post can be seen by everyone. And from the second they press ‘comment’, the timer starts.

Breathe. We know it can be anxiety-inducing, as it would be if you were being shouted at in person - but in front of the world. Keep your professionalism very close to your heart in your response and never stoop to their level if they have used profanities. If they go low, you go high.

And remember - verbal abuse or threats if ever received should be reported, not responded too and the account should be blocked.

As an admin on a business social media profile, you have the power
You can diminish the potential places that negative comments can be posted on your business profile by disabling posts to the page. This is not a sneaky option. It is the done thing for numerous businesses. It still enables users to comment on posts that you make on the page, which are easier to monitor from an administrative perspective.

On a business profile, it’s essential that you respond to all feedback - negative and positive! There can be dips in responses over the weekend but during the week it should be a priority to respond to customer comments as they come in. Your competitors are doing it and you should too.

BUT if the struggle is real - then make it very obvious when you're available to respond to online complaints and where people should really go to ask for help. Push to take the conversation private.

In the digital world, there are numerous ways that negative feedback can be dealt with:

1. Restate the complaint, apologise, propose an action and take it off the timeline. For example:

@AngryCustomer: “Can’t believe that my app has crashed, AGAIN!! @YourCompany. Seriously unacceptable”

@YourCompany: “We’re really sorry to hear that, @AngryCustomer. Please let us know what device you’re using in a DM and we’ll follow this up for you.”

2. Wrap up the complaint in positive comments about your business:

@YourCompany: “After hitting 2M downloads and 1.5M active users, our servers can get pretty busy! Would you mind dropping us a DM, @AngryCustomer, and we can look into this for you?”

3. Keep it light.

Humour is one of the best ways to handle trolls and negative feedback on social media. We’re sure that you have seen the responses from companies such as Tesco and Greggs, which have subsequently gone viral.

Social media audiences derive huge enjoyment from companies responding wittily to criticism, which turns the tables on the complaint and drives positive brand awareness to the company. By making light of the comments from the troll, their fire is acknowledged and extinguished.

But, we never advise our readers to play with fire. Be careful with this step and tread carefully following others. It’s crazy out there!

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* This post was originally published in our newsletter The Communications Workshop. Sign up to get more free tips on communications and marketing here!

5 tools to help you with PR

While PR these days is about so much more than being seen in the media, we thought it would be handy to have a quick refresh on the tools available to you to help you manage your PR and work with journalists. These will help you get organised in no time!

Talkwalker Alerts

Think Google Alerts, but somehow better. The Luxembourg based team has created a free alerts system that will save you your most precious commodity: time. Simply add in your email and whatever it is you need alerts for, and Talkwalker does the rest. This is very helpful when it comes to tracking what the media is saying about you and your competitors.

ResponseSource

Yes, as PR professionals we spend most of our time crafting stories and angles, but the press is a fickle beast and when it comes to public relations you have to be able to hit everyday running. That’s where the wonderful people over at ResponseSource come in. Just on a basic level, journalists put together a synopsis of what they are looking for, you get it in your inbox and can then reply if you have something that relates to the inquiry. ResponseSource is also a very useful tool to get journalists contacts and get your media list shining and ready to go!

Journorequest.com

If you don’t have the money available right now for a ResponseSource account, or even if you do, you should still use this site. JournoRequest takes the time to filter out the ten billion #JournoRequests on Twitter and then emails the best ones that fit your categories directly to your inbox.

Twitter

Good old Twitter is great. Of course, it can be an echo-chamber but if used correctly it can be a very helpful tool to find journalists. Use it to start building that all-important relationship. PR is a people industry still, making friends and supporting others WILL come back to you. Be kind, be thoughtful, help people and they will, in turn, help you when the chance arises. Follow the threads and check Twitter on the way to work, you will learn so much!

Spreadsheets

Yep, we went there! If you have ten thousand emails to send, five different pitches, four hundred contacts and data, where do you keep all of this organised? No matter what the salesperson tells you about the plethora of different companies trying to fill this void, they are missing one thing: THERE IS NO VOID.

A well organised and constantly updated Google sheet, shared with your colleagues at work is simply brilliant. Yes, they take a little time to set up, they seem like a pain to run but all your contacts, all your to-dos and the likes are visible by all and editable. Never again will you have to Slack the person across the desk to check where things are or who has the contact for the BBC tech journos whose name you forgot. Spreadsheets rule!

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* This post was originally published in our newsletter The Communications Workshop. Sign up to get more free tips on communications and marketing here!