Category Archives: Online Communications

10 Week Social Media for Business Course

I’m delighted to announce I’ll be running a 10 week Social Media for Business Course in Mallow College of Further Information on Wednesday nights, from 7 pm – 9 pm, starting on 1st February.

Course Description

As a business, social media is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to reach customers and create awareness around products and services.  This course helps to understand the best social media platforms for your business, as well as the most effective type of content to engage users and enhance your company’s online presence.

Course Content:

The course will use a mixture of lectures and workshops to help build online confidence in a practical way.  The content covered will include managing online reputation, the best online platforms to promote business, how to create engaging content, how to save time using content calendars and online scheduling, effective blogging, creating email marketing campaigns and how to boost SEO through social media use.

This 10-week course will equip businesses and organisations with the necessary tools to expand their existing online presence, or grow a new one, through the implementation of a strategic content-led presence enhancing their online impact and, ultimately, engage more customers.  The course would also suit those interested or in the process of starting up a new business, as well as community and business organisations.

The cost is €130 and places can be booked online through the following link. For further info call Karen on 0877642575.

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Social Media for Business Course 16th Nov

I’m delighted to be running a ‘Social Media for Business’ Course on Wednesday 16th November from 7 p.m. – 9.30 p.m. in Fermoy Community Youth Centre.

As a business, social media is one of the easiest and cost-effective ways to reach your customers and create awareness around your products and services.

This 2.5 hours course will teach you:

  • The best online platforms to use for your business
  • How to create engaging content
  • How to save time by using content calendars and online scheduling
  • An introduction to blogging, email marketing and SEO
  • How to manage your business’s online reputation.

Places are limited and cost €25.00 per person.

For further details or to book your place call Karen Twomey on 0877642575 or email: karen@communicationshub.ie

Communications Hub

 

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Online Addiction, Me? Surely not…

A few months back, I wrote a blog about the importance of ‘switching off’ from work in this 24/7 online environment that we now live in.

Online addiction is an issue which I feel strongly about, and one which has become a real contributor towards mental health issues in our society and workplaces.

On a recent (much-needed) holiday, I found myself reflecting on my ability to take an online hiatus (also much-needed).  It occurred to me that it was reasonably easy to make the decision to ‘switch off’ from work.  If we’re lucky enough to have a separate work mobile, we can switch it off.  We can choose not to log into our work emails, or to check our Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.  It’s not an impossible feat.

What is becoming increasing impossible, is the ability to ‘switch off’ from an everyday perspective.  There is little doubt, no matter what our age, most of us are becoming increasingly dependent on the online world in our day to day lives – be it death notices, current affairs, or match fixtures – it’s all there at the click of a button.

Take my father, who is in his sixties (early sixties – important to distinguish or I may risk losing the coveted ‘favourite off-spring’ title).  He was the generation who lived by the daily newspaper, maybe even two or three different titles on a Sunday.  Like most of us, he has abandoned his beloved newspaper and now gets his news online.

Some statistics would indicate this online reliance is not an unusual trend for those his age with the fastest growing Twitter demographic in Ireland the over 55s.  It represents an interesting shift.  Traditionally, those with online addictions were often portrayed as sulky teenagers glued to the couch taking copious pouting selfies.  Not anymore.

Social media addicts are now as likely to be those of us in our late 30s, and upwards.  We may not be snap chatting our buys from Pennys, or Instagramming with the latest hashtags (I said MAY not – ahem), but we are using social media, for all types of reasons, all the time.

As I work in social media, I made a very conscientious decision to try to switch off my Wi-Fi as much as possible during this year’s holiday.  I’ll put my hands up and admit – I failed miserably.  Why?  I’m just too reliant on the web.  I logged on every day.  I checked the weather in France (mostly raining), weather at home (mostly sunny), I googled tourist attractions in our area, I logged onto the wine depot website to see what treats I’d stock up on to bring home (well worth a visit if you find yourself touring Brittany).  I googled, and then I googled some more.

It wasn’t all holiday and cheap wine related, of course.  Even though we were cocooned in our holiday hideaway, the world was still turning, and tragedies still happening.  While we were away the terrible and senseless shooting took place of 49 innocent souls at an Orlando nightclub.  It was shocking and unbelievable, and we wanted to know Why? How? Who?  So, we logged online to help us understand.  What else could we do?

On reflection, I feel disappointed in myself that I couldn’t ‘switch off’ for two short weeks.  I wonder what it says about me and my dependency on the online world.  I wonder if I’m becoming (or perhaps already am) an addict.  With 46% of the world’s population now logging onto the World Wide Web every day, it would seem I may not be alone.

Karen Twomey is a freelance PR and Online Communications Consultant with Communications Hub Tel: 0877642576
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Forget Control, The Web Is In Charge

Today’s news is tomorrow’s fish and chip paper….

or so the saying goes.  These old words of wisdom were often used to console those on the receiving end of unwelcome publicity. The next day would bring a new headline, and the world would move on. Well, not anymore.  The invention of new media has brought about some new words of wisdom and we’d all do well to remember them…

What goes online, stays online.

The World Wide Web has been around for almost thirty years now, and during that time has undergone a number of re-births.  It has evolved from Web 1.0 which merely ‘pushed out’ information, to Web 2.0 which allowed for two-way communication.  According to Dr. Jim McNamara in his 2007 article New Media: How Web 2.0 is changing the world, “Web 2.0 refers to a second generation of internet-based services, the key attributes of which are that they allow openness for collaboration and high levels of interactivity without requiring programming skills”.  In terms of the public relations profession, this change in technology shifted the onus of online communications from IT professionals to PR professionals.

Dr McNamara notes the key challenge in learning how best to utilise the internet is that most of what is written is out of date by the time it’s published.  And true to this, we have now seen the emergence of Web 3.0, a phrase first coined by John Markoff of the New York Times in 2006.  Web 3.0 refers to an ‘intelligent web’ which allows machines to do the thinking, instead of just following commands.  It seems likely we will just be coming to terms with the workings of Web 3.0, when Web 4.0 will emerge, offering new and more exciting methods of communication.

These changes in technology pose enormous challenges for those working in public relations.  Everything has changed, from media monitoring and analysis to media relations and corporate communications.  Media now includes bloggers, podcasters, chatroom hosts, citizen journalists and many more.  Public relations must strive to communicate in a manner appropriate to each and ensure key messages are still reaching target audiences.

A 1996 report on the issues facing communication professionals, Managing the Information Superhighway, said that the role of public relations within an organisation is to act as coordinators or integrators to ensure that the material located on the internet fits the organisation’s image.  The World Wide Web may have evolved since 1996, but the role of the public relations profession still remains the same.

Every one of an organisation’s stakeholders is now a potential communicator, and every one of them holds the ability to affect the organisation’s brand.  According to Heidi Cohen (2014), President of Riverside Marketing Strategies, given the widespread corporate social media use, it is surprising that businesses continue to make the same mistakes that get them into trouble with their customers and their public. She believes such failings point to a ‘hole’ in social media strategies.  Cohen recommends providing social media training and guidelines to all employees to empower them to participate in social media and represent their organisation in a way that takes into consideration the implications of the content used and how it may be interpreted by different backgrounds and perspectives.

As we make our way through this era of fast moving technology, those who work in public relations need to accept that they cannot control the internet.  Only when they accept this, can they truly begin to formulate an effective digital plan on behalf of an organisation.

For more information on implementing an effective online communications strategy for your company contact Communications Hub.
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Why Your Business Needs to be on LinkedIn

When it comes to LinkedIn, I’ll admit I’m a relative newcomer…but like most people who discover things later in life that they enjoy, I’ve taken to it with gusto.

In fact, it’s swiftly becoming one of my favorite social media platforms.  And, I’m not alone.  According to IPSOS MRBI Social Networking Quarterly, LinkedIn registered a 5% increase in Irish users from September 2015 to January 2016.

With almost 30% of Irish professionals now having accounts, LinkedIn is becoming the social network of choice for those looking to build professional connections and showcase their skills.  And where the online masses venture…businesses quickly follow.

The benefits of LinkedIn in business are multi-faceted.  Not only is it the natural place to attract and headhunt for top class staff, but it also provides invaluable opportunities for B2C and B2B networking. Best of all, it offers companies an opportunity to grow their brands in an affordable, flexible and interesting way.

Still not convinced?

Here are even more benefits of having a company profile on LinkedIn:

  • Makes a brand more credible.
  • Improves SEO.
  • Helps personalise a brand.
  • Showcases products and services.
  • Targets specific audiences.
  • Allows for customer interaction.

While Facebook and Twitter may still be the more popular social media platforms in Ireland, those on LinkedIn (over 300 million worldwide) are there for a completely different reason – to grow and promote themselves and their business.

To really impact online, LinkedIn must form part of a social media strategy for Irish companies.  Regardless to the size of your business, maintaining a well-managed LinkedIn page will boost your company’s profile and ultimately, your business will reap the benefits.

For more information on social media strategies for your business, contact Communications Hub today.
Communications Hub
(business2community.com)
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Why Video is now King

Move over Content, there’s a new King                  in town….

With video content now receiving up to 60% more online interaction than photos, it’s becoming a key part of content marketing strategies.

According to Cisco video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic by 2017 and video-on-demand traffic alone will have almost trebled.

In the U.S. mobile video ad spend is growing faster than all other digital advertising tactics.  EMarketer states that $7.46 billion was spent by companies on digital ads, an increase of 42% from 2014.

Social media platforms are reaping the benefits of this shift to video, with Facebook reporting 8 billion video views daily, while Snapchat delivers over 7 billion videos to users each day.  This represents an unbelievable growth of almost 50% in video usage on Snapchat in just 4 months.

In this era of information overload, video is naturally engaging and easy to digest.  It also delivers a message in a more personal way, evoking more passion and emotion, and creating better community engagement.

Here are some useful tips when creating video content:
  1. Be Passionate, not attention grabbing -your audience will know the difference.
  2. Be engagement-driven, not hit driven – communities are built on interaction, not selling.
  3. Think small to achieve big – creativity wins over cost of production.
  4. One size does not fit all – have a multi-platform video strategy.

Online video is set to continue its rise and will remain an important element in marketing and communications strategies going forward. 

Ignore it at your peril!

For further information on communications and marketing strategies for your business, contact us today.

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Online Crisis Management – Be Prepared!

In this era of social media and mobile devices, news spreads faster than ever before.  The web has removed control from those who create content and a crisis can develop in seconds. 

This is why it is vital that companies have an on-line crisis management strategy in place – long before it is ever needed.

When developing an online strategy, we must understand the ethics and rules of digital media and how crisis management on-line may differ from that off-line.

According to Chris Norton online crisis management can be separated into three stages – pre-crisis, crisis response and post-crisis evaluation.  An online crisis typically creates a spike in comments, shares and engagement, the conversations around which are generally negative.  During this crisis, it is essential to monitor and track what is being said and respond immediately.

An online crisis typically creates a spike in comments, shares and engagement, the conversations around which are generally negative.  During this crisis, it is essential to monitor and track what is being said and respond immediately.

When putting together a strategy to deal with on-line crisis, the following should be included:

  • Those who will form part of the crisis management team.
  • Pre-draft templates for on-line content – these can be pre-approved by legal teams to speed up their delivery.
  • The communication channels to be used.
  • An outline of how people can and can’t behave across on-line communication channels.

Finally, a crisis management strategy should have a strong focus on internal communications.  Those associated with the party will need to know what happened, what they should do and how the crisis will affect them.

All information regarding the crisis should be shared and updated regularly with all those who communication on behalf of the company to ensure all outward communication is consistent.

It may be impossible to pre-empt every online crisis, but we can certainly make sure we’re prepared for when one does occur and that the right procedure is followed.

Contact Communications Hub now and let us help you put together an effective crisis management strategy.
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New Year, New Marketing Tools?

Happy New Year to all!  I hope everyone is refreshed after a break and ready to take 2016 by storm!

I may be the exception here, but I love January.  It’s a great month to take stock and plan the year ahead.  It’s also a time to try something new.  To think outside the box.

It’s so important in business to ‘step outside the building’ every now and again, and a new year is a great time to do this.  We’re all guilty of complacency, especially when things are going well.  But to continue to be successful in business, we must always look ahead and stay ahead.

This is especially true when putting together a marketing strategy for your brand and your product.  How will 2016’s strategy differ from that of 2015?  How will you ensure that you continue to reach your customer?  And most importantly, that they connect with your message?

The best way to do this is to make sure your marketing strategy is current and relevant.  Of course, creative content will alway be the best way to do this – freshen up your website, start blogging and use social media content to connect all your platforms together.

It’s also important to research what industry influencers are saying about future trends.  According to the Huffington Post the following five trends will drive social media marketing in 2016:

Micro-Targeting Audience Segments – When consumers are faced with significant lifestyle events, like having a baby, moving house, or getting married, they are more open to changing their purchasing habits.  This means if you can send the right message at the right time, you have a higher chance of gaining their loyalty.

Importance of In-The-Moment Content – The popularity of streaming apps, such as Snapchat and Periscope, is continuing to grow.  A recent Comscore Report found that Snapchat is the 3rd most important social app among 18 – 34 year olds.

Consumer is now the Influencer – Thanks to social media, everyday consumers have built a follower base, giving them stronger voices and the ability to influence public opinion.

Micro-Video and Gifs – Young consumers are obsessed with immersive video and gifs as a means of expression.  Cinemagraphs alone get 60% more engagement than static images.

Messaging Apps and Emojis – These are providing quicker, simpler and more engaging opportunities for social media users to connect and look set to grow in influence in 2016.

All in all, it looks like 2016 will see the continued growth of ‘less is more’ with regard to content, as well as a strong reliance on video and live streaming to connect with consumers.  Snapchat looks set to capture even more of the commercial market, with more and more companies using the platform to advertise.  There’s little doubt that Facebook and Twitter will continue to be valuable tools for business, but companies will need to be clever and fresh in their use of content.

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Creative Digital Network Cork

I have had the great pleasure over the last few months of working with Cork Institute of Technology as group facilitator with the Creative Digital Network Cork (CDNC).

The CDNC enables networking opportunities among companies, start-ups and academics engaged in the digital industry in Cork.  It is an output of the Interreg IVC Medi@tic project and is supported in the region by Cork Institute of Technology and Irish Design 2015.

The group was officially launched by Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD, in February 2015.  Since then it has continuously grown and now has almost 60 members from throughout Cork City and County.

CDNC members come from a variety of digital backgrounds, including web development and design, TV and film production, video game design and development, animation, motion graphics, apps design and development, and PR and Journalism.

The ethos of the group is to facilitate the sharing of ideas, research and business opportunities through organised industry events, as well as across its online platforms – CDNC Website, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

As part of my work with the group I had the please of meeting many of the members, hearing about their businesses and helping them to connect with other members and relevant industry influencers.  I also attended the Startup Gathering and Digital Week Skibbereen on behalf of the group.

Through the CDNC we hope to promote Cork as a digital hub and an attractive region in which to do business.  From this perspective, we have connected with Enterprise Ireland, Cork Innovates and Cork Smart Gateway and hope to work together in securing our vision for Cork.

My tenure as group facilitator is, unfortunately, coming to an end.  I will, however, remain an enthusiastic member of the group and I look forward to being part of the future success of the Creative Digital Network Cork.

Further details on the CDNC is available from its website www.cdnc.ie or email mediatic@cit.ie

CDNC

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Digital Week Skibbereen

Digital Week Skibbereen
(wordkern.wordpress.com)

As I set off for Skibbereen early last Wednesday morning I was unsure of what to expect.  I had followed the growing lineup of speakers for National Digital Week with interest and was very much looking forward to attending some of the events.  As bad luck would have it the only day I was free to attend was Wednesday, Digital Week’s opening day.  That left me with a choice of two events – Future of Digital Education and STEM, or Farming 2030.  Having no connection or real interest (sorry!) in farming, except for being married to a farmer’s son – the non-farming one –  I quickly opted to attend the educational conference.

While I certainly have an interest in digital education and STEM, in truth there were other talks that held more appeal – Empowering a Billion Women 2020 & Social Entrepreneurship, and IOT Reimagining a Connected World, being but two.  But so it was on Wednesday morning, after a long two hour drive through commuter tail backs and twisty rural roads, I eventually arrived at the West Cork Hotel for my taste of Digital Week.

With no time for a much needed caffeine hit, I was ushered straight through to the function room where Dr Laurence O’Rourke of the European Space Agency was just about to take the stage.  As I settled into my seat my focus was drawn to those surrounding me. They were young, very young.   They sat, packed into the room like sardines, with every bit of free space – seats, floor, stage – all occupied.  I felt a bit of panic gurgle up from my coffee craving stomach.  Was I in the wrong event?  Had I misread the program?  I quickly started looking towards the exit doors. Maybe if I moved quickly I could get out before the speaker began and take my chances with the farming after all.  Alas, right at that point my panic was interrupted by the host inviting us to put our hands together for Dr Laurence O’Rourke.  I was trapped.

After a few minutes something very strange started to occur.  The natural hustle and bustle, to be expected when a couple of hundred school children are in a room, started to subside and before long the room fell silent.  That spell of silence remained cast for Susanne Thompson from Discovery, and later in the evening for Stephen Howell from Microsoft Ireland.  The young attendees, including myself (not so young), were entranced by the great speakers, interesting props and eye-catching visuals.  These energetic and enthusiastic speakers did what so many other speakers fail to do, they connected.  They were professionals who judged their audience and adjusted their content and delivery accordingly.  To do this with with adults is one thing, but to hold the attention of a room full of young students for over an hour, is nothing short of impressive.

After the event I set off on my long journey back home.  I left not only enlightened as to how important STEM and digital education is in this country, but truly in awe of my fellow conference goers.  They were respectful, confident young people, with a real interest in their futures.  They listened, they partook in live surveys and they asked intelligent questions.  What a great indication of the future of this small island and the exciting opportunities available to our graduates.  What a credit to their schools, teachers and to their parents.  And what a great event to be part of #DigitalWeekSkibb

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