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  • Top 5 PR Lessons We Teach Every New Client

    There are aspects of our industry that are just plain confusing for our clients, not to mention family and friends. I give my dad a ton of credit. When I first launched the Fluent IMC website, he knew I did a lot of professional writing, but beyond that, my trade was as mysterious to him as his ability to drive a diesel freight train is to me. Big shout out to my amazingly proud and supportive dad. He has read every post on our blog to better understand what I do. Every. Single. Post. While our entire inventory of blog posts certainly isn’t required reading for our busy clients, we recently realized it was time to craft a primer. After casually using the terms “paid media” and “earned media” in a client meeting, there was confusion about whether the company would be buying an ad or being paid a stipend to appear as a speaker. The truth is that many of our clients simply don’t understand the basic differences between marketing, public relations and advertising. Why should they? They’re incredibly smart people. But they’ve hired us to provide marketing expertise because, after all, they’re busy practicing their craft while we’re busy practicing ours. That being said, it still helps if both agency and client can speak a common language. Behold the “Top 5 Things We Teach Every New Client About PR” 1. What exactly is public relations anyway? According to the Public Relations Society of America, public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics. As PR professionals, we help share our clients’ stories and position them as thought leaders in their industries by increasing visibility through our relationships with the media. 2. Who/what is the media? In our view, “media” doesn’t just mean newspapers or broadcast stations, but could be any third party that delivers a message to a broad audience. In the professional services marketing space (where we spend a lot of our time), industry trade associations that reach large groups of referral sources are considered a form of media. These days, bloggers and social media influencers are considered just as influential as traditional media in many industries. We love the amazing reach of a national publication or online magazine, but sometimes the most powerful medium is a trade group’s membership newsletter or annual event. 3. It’s not advertising. Yes, we do advertising strategy and media buying for some clients. No, it’s not the same as PR. We refer to “earned media” vs. “paid media”. Integrated marketing utilizes the PESO Model (Paid, Earned, Shared & Owned Media). Advertising is paid/purchased media. Public relations is earned media. Brand awareness content you create (your website, blog, a video or case study) is owned media. Shared media is a newer and relevant player in an integrated marketing effort – think social media posts or social media awareness campaign involving online influencers. 4. It’s all about relationships. Just as journalists are viewed as reliable sources that share information with the public, we act as sources for members of the media. They hear from a lot of PR and marketing professionals, and they know that when we approach them with a story idea, we’re providing them with trustworthy, quality content their readers will be interested in. Because we’re working with earned media, and no story is guaranteed, we stay on top of what different journalists are focusing on and think creatively to frame timely stories and pitch them to the journalist that will be the best fit. 5. Media Advisory vs. Press Release vs. Pitch There are many ways we might reach out to the media when it comes to spreading the word for our clients. A media advisory is short and sweet, inviting members of the media to a specific event with a straightforward approach that provides all the necessary details they’ll need to attend. We use a press release to announce client news. It’s lengthier than a media advisory, and includes as much detail as possible about the announcement, event, or new product or initiative that we’re spreading the word about. Some press releases are included in their entirety in media outlets. When we have a great idea about how our client could be featured in a media outlet, we pitch that concept to a specific individual. With a pitch, we’re thinking creatively about what might appeal to specific audiences and sharing our ideas in hopes that the reporter or editor we’ve reached out to is interested in using it to frame a future story. We hope this PR overview offers a better understanding of our profession, the language we speak within our industry, and a glimpse of the ins and outs of our typical day.

  • Fluent IMC receives three Golden Arrow Awards from Maine Public Relations Council

    Fluent IMC took home three Golden Arrow Awards in a ceremony held at Rising Tide Brewing on December 12. The annual awards of the Maine Public Awards Council, the Golden Arrows recognize exceptional work of Maine-based public relations, communications, and marketing professionals. Fluent received two silver awards: one in the category of Organizational Identity Campaign for the OTELCO Rebrand campaign and one in the category of Innovative Use of Social Media for the OTELCO Rebrand Social Media Strategy. In the News Release category, Fluent received an Honorable Mention for its Androscoggin Bank CEO Succession Plan Announcement. More than 50 entries were received for this year’s Golden Arrow Awards, which were judged by industry experts from the Alaska Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

  • Recruiting marketing: reach and engage candidates in a digital reality

    As a company, you spend a lot of time marketing to your buyers. As marketers, we spend a lot of time figuring out the best ways to reach them. While you’re busy selling what you do, don’t forget about potential employees. They’re an important segment of your audience. Recruitment marketing is about selling the aspects of your brand that attracts and retains the types of employees who will contribute to delivering on your brand promise. To reach candidates, you need a clear understanding of the types of candidates you need to reach, the messaging that will engage them and the channels they’re using to receive your message. Make sure your company is mobile ready According to the Pew Research Center, 95% of Americans now own cell phones. The percentage that own smartphones has climbed to 77%, up from 35% since the Center’s first survey of smartphone ownership in 2011. With unlimited resources at their fingertips, most job seekers are now doing their searching on mobile devices. A whopping 78% of Millennials used mobile devices to find jobs as of  2016. 73% of Gen Xers searched for work on their mobile device, and Baby Boomers are quickly adapting to this new method of looking for employment, with around 57.2% of Boomers active in 2016, up from just 51.2% in 2014. And for occupations that aren’t The rising trend in mobile searches means mobile optimization of your company’s website is no longer a nicety – it’s a must. It also means that employers have new ways to get your brand in front of candidates through mobile advertising and geo targeting (We’ll cover more on that in our next blog post on geofencing strategies). Add a careers page to your website Prospective employees are already visiting your website. Once they arrive, make it clear why they should want to be part of your team. Take a look at law firm Quarles & Brady’s career website, which goes well beyond the basic listing of job openings. The firm delves into company culture with “The Q&B Experience,” giving a quick rundown of employee and location stats before listing prominent awards and recognitions. The site entices prospective employees by highlighting the cities its offices are based in and opportunities for professional development, selling the employee lifestyle before job seekers have even made it to open positions. Showcase employee culture on social media More people than ever are using social channels to connect remotely via their mobile devices, and it’s become standard practice to research everything via theses channels – from the new connections made at networking events to prospective employees, and the other way around. Job seekers are without a doubt checking your company’s social channels to see if your culture is one they want to be a part of, and with a few simple steps you can be sure that it is. Highlight company culture. Showcase that team outing or the results of a productive meeting at the office. Make your employees relatable. Individual spotlights give employees a chance to shine as well as making visitors to your page feel more connected to your brand. Encourage employee interaction on your social channels. No one advocates for your company better than happy employees, Need inspiration? It’s no surprise that the social media management pros at Hootsuite are leading the charge in selling their brand online. Their Instagram account (@hootsuite) is loaded with group photos of employees having a good time. Doesn’t their Paris office look like somewhere you want to be hanging out?

  • Lessons learned from Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook Data

    Several clients have asked us about the Cambridge Analytica use of data from Facebook and how this might impact their use of the platform, for both personal or professional purposes. We’ve been following the story and wanted to share our viewpoint, along with a couple of helpful resources. Quick overview of what happened: Aleksandr Kogan, a lecturer from Cambridge, started a company called Global Science Research after the university wouldn’t allow him to use Facebook data for commercial research. Global Science Research paid individuals to complete a survey that said it would download basic information from the user’s Facebook profile about their basic demographics and interests, their “likes” and photos, from their profiles as well as their friends. The survey participants were also told it was for academic use only. Cambridge Analytica then gained access to the data from Global Science Research. This is in breach of Facebook’s terms of use. Users consent to allowing this data to be collected when they sign up for Facebook but only for academic purposes. It is alleged that Cambridge Analytica used this data to promote candidates such as Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. The firm has denied these allegations. What can we do now? Find out if your data was taken. You might be wondering if your own data was compromised. Facebook just released a tool that tells you if your data was sent to Cambridge Analytica. If it was, the tool should tell you how the company got your data and what they did with it. If it wasn’t used, you can still take this opportunity to tighten up your privacy settings and better understand the apps you’re using. Rethink what privacy means and how you use Facebook personally. Think twice about allowing Facebook to gain access to your information through various apps. In the case of the Cambridge Analytica data, individuals being paid to complete the survey might not have realized they had authorized access to their personal Facebook profiles and those of their friends. Facebook is cracking down on abuse of their platform and offers guidance to users on how their data will be better protected in the future. As marketers, we use Facebook for business purposes, including helping our clients better target their advertising. Our view: it’s up to each of us personally to recognize that Facebook is an advertiser driven platform. Yes, your likes and interests are used by businesses to better target their advertising. It’s up to you to restrict the information you make available on any online platform. However, we also believe Facebook or any other platform should be forthcoming about how they will use the information you publicly share. Take the time to educate yourself as best you can stay informed about platform changes. Think carefully about any paid surveys or platform apps that request access to data. Consider the business implications. Our view: businesses shouldn’t panic just yet. There are a few companies leaving Facebook in light of these events. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is leaving Facebook, stating that he feels the use of personal information to help inform advertisers is unethical. In our industry, some view businesses divorcing Facebook as largely an opportunistic public relations tactic. This is due to the fact that personal profiles were affected, not business pages. Consider that any data available on a business Facebook page is informational. We think it’s premature for companies to move off the platform right now, but we do think it is an opportunity for everyone to rethink what they are sharing on these platforms. This will probably serve as a wakeup call for Facebook, and will be an impetus for changes to make sure this does not happen again. Use it as a primer on crisis communications do’s and don’ts. Our view, from a PR perspective, Mark Zuckerberg has been criticized for not addressing the situation fast enough. In the world of crisis communications, a delayed response usually means that the organization is reacting to the crisis, rather than getting out in front of it as quickly and transparently as possible. If your business lacks a basic crisis communications plan, this is a ideal time to pull leadership together discuss how you would react to a crisis. The Public Relations Society of America wrote this review of Facebook’s actions, according to the PRSA Code of Ethics. It’s a helpful reminder for any organization on how to build trust in the face of a crisis.

  • Why the fake news era makes media relations more important than ever

    “Fake News”. A compound noun that quite simply means information published by the media that is not real. From the 2016 Trump candidacy to 2017’s immigration and health insurance reform, to Net Neutrality, to the #MeToo movement, it seems the facts around any current issue are harder than ever to uncover. People are forced to sort fact from fiction, trustworthy media from clickbait. We all consume news through various social media channels which are, by design, built for distributing and sharing content quickly and consequently, without much thought. This puts credible media organizations and journalists in a tough spot. And it makes our jobs as public relations and branding professionals harder, but more important than ever. Communications is my career. Literally, helping clients identify and shape a story that communicates their credibility is my livelihood. Providing the media with access to our clients’ expertise is a routine task. Helping clients increase awareness of their brand through traditional and digital marketing is our agency’s entire purpose. I’ve lived the evolution of this trade for 20 years and can say first-hand: this job isn’t getting easier. But it’s perhaps more valuable than ever before. Here’s why. As a public relations and marketing professional, I work hard to bring value to both my clients and the media. To help clients share their stories while upholding the highest ethical standards (i.e. we won’t pitch a story that’s garbage, hasn’t been fact-checked on our end or just isn’t newsworthy). I wince when I hear journalists talk about how annoying PR people are. We work hard to be an asset, not an annoyance. Now that “fake news” is a household term, it seems more overwhelming than ever to combat it. Social media helps fake news stories (or sloppy journalism, or content disguised as journalism) to spread rapidly, but it’s also a channel we can use to spread the truth. At Fluent, we live in both worlds: Earned media (coverage as a result of media relations) and owned media (content we produce for our clients to help them spread their brand message). We believe that both have value and can effectively work together. With that in mind, here’s some advice on how to take on the fake news juggernaut: Be careful with who/how you align your brand. Consumers are concerned about news stories they can trust, but brands also need to be aware of misinformation that can harm their image. Take the example of New Balance – a company that quickly got branded the “Official Shoes of White People,” after a quote from its VP of Public Affairs was taken out of context and used to spread the story that New Balance had come out in full support of President-elect Donald Trump. Take the time to check sources. Anyone can publish an article online. Check to make sure the story is coming from a reliable outlet and that it’s written by an actual, credible person with authority to speak to the topic. Does the expert/author have credibility? A quick online search can clue you into the authenticity (or lack thereof) of the writer’s credentials. Keep an eye on sources quoted within the article. Stories that are supported by other credible sources are more likely to be true. Read the whole story. Headlines are designed to suck readers in, but with so many people relying on social media for quick information, the whole story doesn’t always come across. Facebook has been testing changes to their algorithm which determines the types of information you’ll see in your news feed, potentially making it harder for content from credible news sources to appear. Don’t just skim headlines, dive deeper to make sure you’re getting the big picture to help determine credibility. If your organization shares curated content through corporate social media channels, or if you’re sharing it personally within a professional context, this step is extra important to ensure that your brand is aligned with highly credible sources and doesn’t fall victim to sharing clickbait or overly biased reporting. Is it supposed to be funny? It may seem harder than ever to distinguish between satire and reality when there are plenty of online outlets making light of current events with humorous stories designed to be over the top. New Maine News (aka The Maine version of The Onion) is a good example of a parody that isn’t fake news. It’s just funny. In these crazy times, we can all benefit from the comedic relief these stories provide but don’t put stock in them as actual news stories. Again, be mindful of your audience when sharing memes or satire around an important issue. Is the information/news widespread? Can you find this information anywhere else? Do a quick search to see if any other sources are reporting the same information. Multiple media outlets reporting the same story gives it greater credibility. Know the difference between content and news. We mentioned owned media (a blog post your company writes, a white paper, etc.). Then there’s paid media (advertising, sponsored content, etc.). There are plenty of gray areas when it comes to the types of information we’re digesting. Bill Moyers published a helpful guide to Distinguishing News from Sponsored Content. Be an asset to journalists. Is your story idea supported by facts? Are the facts or data timely and from credible sources? Credible journalists will only report on the facts. Together, PR pros and journalists can generate the highest quality stories. Whether you’re a business owner, an in-house marketer, a social media pro or any other professional sharing content on behalf of a brand, consider it your responsibility to be a reliable source for real news. Make your brand known in your industry for sharing accurate, helpful information. Determine reliable sources for curated content and trusted authors to keep you on top of industry trends. Most importantly, don’t ever spread fake news – even if it’s something you wish to be true.

  • We have our very own drone pilot!

    The Fluent team has had a lot to celebrate this past year, and we want to share another bit of news that we’re pretty excited about. We’re happy to report that Peter Anania is now a fully-licensed drone pilot! So what does this mean for our clients? Beyond bragging rights, we’re now able to offer FAA Part 107 compliant commercial drone videography as part of our video production services. Peter’s new license will allow us to capture stunning aerial visuals that were previously very difficult and expensive to capture. For clients across a variety of industries, it means we have the in-house capability to take your visual storytelling to new heights (cheesy pun fully intended). Preparing for the drone license requires many hours of preparation, including gaining an understanding of FAA regulations as well as sectional charts. We’re proud of Peter and even more excited about the new projects on the horizon. Join us in congratulating Peter!

  • Simple or sophisticated: Email automation is powerful

    A meaningful email automation campaign doesn’t have to be complex or expensive. You know it. We know it. Selling a high-level service is not easy and it certainly doesn’t happen quickly. For many of our clients, the more specialized and valuable the service is, the higher the price and consequently, the longer the sales cycle. This creates some challenges for marketers of high-level services. As frustrating as that long buying cycle can be, there are effective ways to stay top-of-mind with prospects throughout that cycle. Enter marketing automation. Automation may seem like a no-brainer for retail brands that email you when you’ve abandoned your shopping cart, but don’t disregard it for marketing your professional service. With a buying cycle that can last as long as two years (!!!), it’s all about playing the long game. We see email automation as a win-win for many of our clients because it’s a relatively cost effective way to bolster your marketing efforts all while developing valuable relationships and keeping your brand in front of existing clients, referral sources and prospects. The Online Marketing Institute (OMI) has put together a helpful primer on the fundamentals of a successful marketing automation campaign using email automation. We’re always eager to learn more, so we summarized our insights on how automation can work for professional services brands: Spend a little to get a lot. Email is an oldie but goodie and thankfully it’s even easier to automate with the help of budget-friendly platforms like MailChimp, Constant Contact or Drip which offer easy-to-use campaign builders and simple scheduling tools. Plus, you can get more sophisticated with personalization and segmentation of your messages to serve up the most relevant content and stay top-of-mind. If you’re ready to unleash a robust automation program (and have the budget), software like HubSpot or SharpSpring let you get much more in-depth with personalization. Automation workflows, which send specific messages after a user takes a certain action, and detailed insights on user engagement with content, give you the power to show more love to the prospects who demonstrate a serious interest in your brand. Integrate automation into a larger branding campaign. A meaningful automation campaign doesn’t have to be complex or expensive. For example, one of our professional services clients is using super-affordable MailChimp to nurture very specific types of leads while some of our larger clients are using HubSpot. To get that list of qualified leads, we started off with an online advertising campaign utilizing Google AdWords and LinkedIn, and created long-form content for download. Here’s where the automation comes into play: using a workflow, we instructed our automation platform to send anyone who downloaded the guide a follow up series of emails — three blog posts on some of the FAQs surrounding the topic — to be delivered in two week intervals. After the email series concluded, we looked at the data to see who viewed those posts to help identify the most serious prospects. From there, those leads move over to the humans who take action on the business development side (LinkedIn invitations, personal email and eventually a meeting request). Automation is just one piece to the larger, integrated marketing puzzle. But it is a piece, if placed correctly, that can provide you with the insights necessary to turn mailing lists into real sales opportunities. For more specifics on email marketing, check out OMI’s email marketing primer. If your organization could use some help with automation, let us know. We’re here to help.

  • Over Boosting Facebook Posts Leads to Unfollows

    As you explore your social media feeds on a given day, are you seeing the same Facebook or Instagram post over and over again? It’s no error; more and more businesses are boosting their posts — and it’s not limited to just advertisements. So, if boosted posts are served up to your page’s followers over and over again, your efforts to engage with your audience just might come off as annoying. The result? Unfollows. Too Much Boosting? The Root of the Problem It’s no secret that getting organic content in front of your Facebook followers has become increasingly harder over the past few years. Why is this? The large amount of content competing for your followers attention has made organic visibility harder to obtain. To put it simply, there’s just too much out there for your followers to see organically. For brands that want to increase engagement on their social channels, this means boosting is imperative. But how do you ensure that your boosted content isn’t seen excessively by followers? Combating “Post-Fatigue”…When is Enough Enough? Frequency capping, used widely on platforms like Google Adwords, ensures that users don’t see your advertisement too many times. And seeing the same ad over and over again leads to user frustration. Unfortunately, Facebook currently does not have a feature that allows you to cap impressions of boosted posts. However, Facebook does say there are some settings in place to combat the problem of “post fatigue”. Specifically, Facebook says that it will not allow an ad to be seen in a follower’s feed more than four times in a day and a non-follower’s feed two times a day. Tricks for Getting Around the Frequency Capping Limitations Thankfully, we have a few tricks up our sleeves to get around Facebook’s frequency capping limitations. The first is to be mindful of the duration of your boosted post. The duration will largely depend on the size of your follower base, but limiting to one to two days is a good place to start. Team this with a strong ad placement strategy, and your message should be served to your desired audience, without being that annoying. Another way to get around frequency capping limitations is to first boost to your followers and then switch audiences at a certain point during the campaign. To do this, simply edit the boost and yield for your desired audience. But what if you want to reach your loyal followers as well as spread the word about your latest and greatest product? Here’s a two-step method you can try: First, boost your original post to target page followers. Then, you can go into Facebook Ads Manager and build a parallel campaign that targets a demographic outside of your following. You can even duplicate the content from the original boosted post, if you so choose. Facebook Ads Manager will give you a lot more insight into the campaign and engagement, letting you know which ads are the most effective. There’s nothing worse than losing the trust of your followers. Your good intentions to increase engagement and awareness can cause more harm than good. Remember: Be mindful of your boosting frequency and keep your content fresh. Do that, and we’re willing to bet that you’ll see more follows than unfollows.

  • Going Live on Facebook in 3… 2… 1!

    In April of 2016, Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook Live would no longer be just for celebrities and large news organizations, everyone would be able to go live. Since then, more and more companies are taking advantage of this powerful feature that allows brands to connect with their audience like never before — in the moment. In this post, we’ll go over the rational behind using Facebook live, plus give you some basic tips and tricks. So, let’s get started. When and Why Businesses Should Use Facebook Live Some aspects of social media just don’t work for all brands. That can definitely be the case with live video. Remember, just because it seems exciting to you doesn’t mean your audience feels the same way. When we go live for our clients, we do our best to make sure we’re sharing something compelling, as we don’t want to erode audience trust. But with that being said, using Facebook Live can be a great way to interact with your audience and potential customers. So, when should you go live? Ribbon cutting: Opening a new location? Invite your fans in on the excitement! Behind-the-scenes at a hallmark event: Give those at home and even those at the event access that they wouldn’t normally be able to receive. For example, have a well-known speaker at the event? Conduct a short, backstage interview before the event to give those not in attendance a taste of what they are missing. Who knows, maybe that viewer will show up to the next event to see the speaker in person. Executive speech: If someone from your company is sharing their knowledge with an audience, take the opportunity to expand that audience. You never know, a potential client may be watching. Contest announcement: Running a contest or giveaway on Facebook? In addition to a regular post announcing the winner, go live during the actual announcement. One feature that brand managers love about Facebook Live is that a notification will be sent out to everyone who likes your page once your push that button to start the stream. In the caption, post something like “Announcing our contest winner” so folks who entered the contest (and folks who may want to enter the next time around) are empowered to join the stream. These are just a few suggestions, but always exercise your best judgement. After all, you know your brand and what’s appropriate for your audience. What Phone/Equipment does Fluent user for Facebook Live? Here are Fluent, we mostly use Apple devices. From our experience an iPhone 7 & iPhone 7 Plus take great video with decent lighting conditions. The Basics: Now, let’s take a look at some of the basics of going live on Facebook. A little later in the article, we’ll take a dive into our quick tips for lighting and composition. Use a tripod: This is a necessity with any Facebook live stream. All you’ll need is an inexpensive tripod and a smartphone mount. You, and your audience, will be glad that you did. Tell people you are going live before you do: As we mentioned earlier, once you begin a live broadcast, Facebook will send a notification to everyone who likes your page. But as great as that is, what if someone who really, really wants to watch your live broadcast can’t because they did not have enough warning? Or more commonly, couldn’t open Facebook at work? If you want people to see your broadcast, give them a head’s up. Scheduling a post or two leading up to the big live show will inform your audience and will lead to more eyes on you. Publish a replay of your live video: One of the great features of Facebook Live is the ability to save a copy of your live broadcast to your page. This allows individuals who may have missed the livestream to watch it later on, and it saves you as the content creator from going through the effort of uploading and posting the video. Boost after your stream ends: Facebook’s algorithm isn’t as generous as it used to be, even with live video. Facebook will still send your followers a notification, but what happens if they don’t click into the app? Creating a sponsored post after will ensure that a wider audience than just those who like your page will see your creation. Have strong wifi or cellular connection: This is crucial. The stronger the connection, the better the quality of the video will be. That may sound elementary, but trying to produce a live video with a weak connection can lead to blurry, choppy video and degraded audio quality. Even if you have an average connection, Facebook will save a copy of the broadcast in standard definition, meaning that once you go to repurpose the video, it may not reach as many people than you would like due to its low quality. Lighting, Audio and Composition Tricks Lighting: For most circumstances involving Facebook live, you’re not going to be using any kind of a lighting kit. With that in mind here are a few tips to improve your lighting: Shooting outside? Shooting early in the morning or later in the evening when the sun is low in the sky can cast flattering light on the subject. Overcast days can also be good as clouds act as a natural softbox for the sun’s light. Shooting in the shade can also be good as long as there is not direct sunlight directly after the shade. Shooting inside? When shooting inside, find a room that has ample lighting. The image sensor in smartphones is very small, meaning that it needs a good deal of light for a high quality image. Positioning the subject(s) directly under a light can be a good idea. When shooting inside, it is important not to have the subjects’ back to a window. This is because when outside light contrasts with the indoor light, it will make the subject dark. An idea that works well is to put the camera in front of the window with the subject facing towards it. This will provide some needed natural light that the image sensor will eat right up. Audio: Generally for audio you are going to be using the smartphone’s microphone. With this in mind, here are a couple of things to try to help give your audience an enjoyable listening experience. It is important to ensure that subject(s) are relatively close to the smartphone. While internal microphones have taken a jump in quality over the years, they still don’t rival professional rigs. The closer subjects are, the better the audio will sound. But remember to find a good balance when it comes to the subject’s distance from the camera and audio quality. Extreme closeups aren’t always a good look. Avoid small rooms as they will cause echo and, if outside, be mindful of wind. Cell phone mics are notorious for picking up ambient noise. A quiet room or setting will ensure your audience hears your message. Set up a dry run. This will help you determine the quality of the audio and let you know if your message is coming across clearly. Want to step up your audio game? Purchase a small lavalier mic that’s compatible with your smartphone. These mics are attached to the subject’s clothing close to their mouth. It’s a small investment that can pay off big in the long run. Composition and Setting: When we are shooting Facebook Live, we try to find a setting that adds to the broadcast or that gives us the best available light and audio. This generally means trying a few spots on location and picking the best. It may be a mural on a wall, an impressive lobby, or a location that simply gives great lighting. When it comes to composition, we generally recommend following the rule of thirds. This means that the subject is lined up to a third of the left of the frame or a third of the right. This will change if there is a group of subjects. In that case, using a center frame technique will be best. Another tip is to reduce the amount of headroom above the subject. Generally we give at most 10% of the frame as headroom for the subject. Ready to go live? These tips should provide you with the basics to do so. But, if you have any questions, reach out to us! We’re here to help with all things content creation and social media.

  • Fluent welcomes Bryan Roche

    We are excited to welcome the newest member of our growing team, Bryan Roche. Roche joins the team as a Public Relations & Digital Strategist. He will assist in the creation of multimedia content, social media strategy and with public relations efforts. Roche comes to Fluent after spending the last two-and-a-half years with the University of Southern Maine. During his time in the Office of Public Affairs, Roche took the lead on revamping institutional social media while also providing strategy and direction for department-specific social media efforts. Roche also developed, produced and directed “The USM Update,” a monthly public affairs television program that highlights academic achievement and innovation at the university. A Foxborough, Massachusetts native, Roche received his BA in Journalism from the University of Maine. After moving to the state to pursue his education, Roche remained in Maine and now lives in downtown Portland. Bryan may be reached at bryan@fluentimc.com.

  • Your marketing strategy + video: How to avoid a video production failure

    Now that every cellphone has a video camera and social media platforms have the option to go “live,” creating video is easier than ever. You can create a video in minutes, but is it going to be effective? The most effective marketing videos take a good amount of planning. At Fluent IMC, we work with clients to plan, create and launch videos. That means we invest time in plotting out the goals and strategies for the project. Read on for a few tips on how to avoid a video production failure. WHO do you want to watch your video and WHAT do you want them to do? It’s likely not specific enough to deem your audience as “our clients and future clients.” Break it down. Who are your clients? Who are your prospects? Are there segments of each audience, by industry or other demographics? An attorney practicing estate law might identify one target audience as newlyweds without a will, or an accounting firm may target self-employed professionals who are doing their own accounting. By targeting a specific audience you are able to focus the type and message of your video. Will you be making a how-to video, a why us? video, or a product/service explainer? All of these factors play into the process of identifying your audience. Be realistic about your budget. Whether you’re making your video in-house or partnering with a vendor, there will be a cost. Video is a very physical type of content production: cameras, lights, people, props and the setting of the video are typically factors. Think about what can you spend – including your time commitment – and then identify specific expenses. Your overall budget may dictate the type of video you need to convey your message. A good creative firm can work within your budget and suggest alternatives. If you’re creating a video in-house, will you need to rent equipment, hire actors, or buy editing software? Are you budgeting in the cost of promoting the video on Facebook? Always leave wiggle room for unexpected expenses. You might need to do more shoots than initially thought, or spend more time on editing, driving up your overall cost. Don’t underestimate the value of storyboarding and scripting. When your audience and budget are defined, you’ll have a good idea of your video’s focus and how elaborate (or not) you can be. You’ll also know your message. Now it’s time for storyboarding and scripting. Allow time for multiple drafts, making sure you include a call to action and that your message is clear and concise. People have short attention spans, and unless you are producing a particularly detailed how-to video, get to the point in under five minutes. Under three minutes is even better. A good script grabs people in the first few seconds. Nobody will hear your message if your video is turned off after ten seconds. When your script is strong, have your actors and actresses practice the script off-camera, and don’t be afraid to tweak the script if something doesn’t sound right during the read-throughs. Take your roll-out strategy seriously. Before your video is ever created, you should have a roll-out strategy in mind. The actual launch should be executed with your larger marketing or sales objectives in mind. Consider options like e-mailing it out to a select group of clients before making a public push, and decide which social media sites you’re going to push it on. Will you have it on YouTube and your website, or just your website? Your roll-out strategy should also include methods for measuring success. Views? Clicks? Actual sales? Do you have an earlier video marketing effort you can compare results with? Videos are an increasingly important part of digital marketing. Putting time into planning your video will not only save you headaches during production, it will increase the likelihood of your video’s success. #contentmarketing #videoproduction

  • Three Ways to Keep Your WordPress Website Secure

    WordPress’s popularity as a content management system (CMS) has advantages and disadvantages when it comes to security. Its popularity makes it a large target for individuals looking to exploit vulnerabilities. However, that same popularity means there is a global force of volunteer developers proactively patching vulnerabilities. So how does Fluent keep our client websites secure? We use three tools/platforms to protect our clients and their digital real estate. Using The Right Website Host We recommend only one hosting provider – WP Engine. Unlike a lot of providers on the market, WP Engine’s platform was specifically engineered for WordPress websites and this has a major impact on the security of your website. One of our favorite features of WP Engine is its website backup feature reminiscent of Apple’s Time Machine. Regular backups are arguably the most important tool for protecting your WordPress website. WP Engine backs up your site on a daily basis, so if your website is ever compromised an earlier version can be restored with one click. WP Engine also actively monitors for vulnerabilities in WordPress plugins, which can be susceptible to attacks such as SQL Injection. WP Engine will automatically uninstall any plugins that don’t mean their standards. Installing a Solid Security Plugin We install WordFence on every website we develop. WordFence is a free plugin which can be upgraded to unlock additional premium features. As a free plugin WordFence comes with many features including a firewall, malware scan, and a tool to stop brute force attacks. Upgrading to the premium plugin allows for two-factor authentication and country blocking. While regular backups ensure you can restore your website if it is hacked, security plugins like WordFence proactively guard against such attacks. Using a Password Manager to Create and Store Your User Password Strong passwords are a necessity for the security of any platform, including WordPress. We often see clients using the same password over and over again for different accounts. Passwords should be unique for each account and should be strong. What makes a strong password? Here is an example of a strong password created with LastPass’s password generator: MYc*9skG4kVmcxmtHva5. No matter how strong your password is, if someone else knows it they can use it. That’s why an important security measure to take is to avoid storing passwords in notebooks or on unencrypted drives. Your notebook, computer or hard drive could be stolen or lost and your passwords could fall into the wrong hands. We recommend you use a password manager instead. At Fluent, we use LastPass to store and share passwords with each other. Password managers allow you to create secure passwords and then securely store and share the passwords. Let us know if you have any other questions.

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