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TODD SMITH'S SPIN CYCLE: PR resolutions: 15 sayings to give up in 2015

Todd Smith

Todd Smith

As we launch into 2015 and embark on another year of public relations, marketing, advertising and branding, let’s take a look at the phrases that cluttered our media pitches last year.

The Spin Cycle hopes this list gets shared by every PR department, agency and company serious about building their brand in the marketplace.

Inspiration for these PR resolutions came from phrases shared in the break room, words used during pitches, and declarations from strategy meetings, so prepare a tweet/plan a post/share a note via LinkedIn if you will.

1. Sorry Not Sorry: Are you sorry? Are you not sorry? Either way, you sound a little drunk on eggnog because of the instant contradiction. Moreover, you sound insincere – and that doesn’t always go over too well.

2. Irregardless: We don’t care what Seth MacFarlane says – this is not a word. It hasn’t even reached the popularity of inane text lingo, which should tell you something.

3. Nation: With respect to all Boston Red Sox fans who have the exception here, are there no other words in to convey “a large group of people with a single shared interest” than this? For example, while I’m a proud Texan in Dallas, even Cowboys fans don’t say “Cowboy Country.” Maybe it’s the alliteration…

4. Viral: Unless you are discussing a cold that your child caught in school, this word isn’t particularly productive. It may be everyone’s social media dream, but it must be earned, not bought or given. One does not create a viral post. One becomes a viral post.

5. Plus Up: I’m not the most vociferous fan of mathematics, but this should not be in PR. If you want to “improve upon,” “make better” or even “add to”, then please use those words to point us in the right direction and subtract this phrase immediately.

6. 2.0: 1990 called and wants its cutting-edge terminology term back. Back when “website refresh” didn’t mean “some dude updating WordPress,” version “two-point-oh” may have been a conversation piece … but for now let’s stick with what’s next.

7. The Struggle is Real: If you are related to Rosa Parks, then yes, it was very real. These days, that phrase has been reduced to some fuzzy-faced hipster discussing first-world problems like losing an iPhone charger. It’s a struggle to take someone seriously when they use this phrase to discuss protests and advocacy movements.

8. Ideate: Remember when people in PR advocated “brainstorming?” This verb recently showed up as an evil synonym. Can we go back to “Come up with something, create or innovate?”

9. That’s So Gay/Retarded: Not to be overly PC, but these require a sounding of the rhetorical alarm. You have no clue who is sitting next to you in the cube farm, what matters to them, or what’s shaking at home, so you might want to skip these phrases at the next meeting.

10. To Die For: Your country? Definitely. Your family? Of course. Your client’s new tech toy? No way. The tuna salad sandwich from the deli downstairs? Probably not.

11. Foodie: Many food reporters have dismissed this one after a strong eye-roll and a hearty laugh by saying, “We are all foodies because we all like food.” It’s true, though: taking pictures of food makes you a photographer, not a chef.

12. Cray-Cray: Regardless of whether you spell this with a “y” or not, it needs to stop. Unlike New York, New York or Walla Walla, “cray” doesn’t sound any better when repeated.

13. De-layering. Dear CEO, do you realize that this phrase doesn’t take any of the sting away from a “people are getting fired” release or executive memo? Employees aren’t a cake that can be dumped, layer by layer, into the conference room trash can.

14. Like a Boss. We’re not sure anyone still uses this phrase, but we’ve yet to recall an instance in which the person saying it was actually a “boss” of anything.

15. I Just Can’t. …finish a coherent sentence? Deal with incomplete thoughts? Stop crushing on the account manager? This phrase just can’t be tolerated for another day. The Spin Cycle appreciates your understanding.

Best Social Media Practices Learned From 2014

Social media had a colossal year in 2014. Pinterest grew up to become No. 3 in terms of traffic. Facebook finally learned to monetize itself. Twitter’s attempt to look more like Facebook actually worked. People now use the Internet for social media more than for shopping, gossip, or commenting.

However, 2014 was also a year for learning. Here are the 5 best practices learned from social media in 2014.

1. It’s not free. Countless screw-ups and resulting dramas stem from corporations having disinterested and often disengaged social media teams. Just as social isn’t “just for the cool kids,” it isn’t for the uninformed. If you want to have any presence on social media that matters, you must invest in a team that gets it (e.g., monitoring, research, paid promotion) and understands the digital world at large.

2. Engagement is no longer science; it’s an art. Statistics show that 53 percent of customers expect to hear back from brands within an hour. Sure, the obligatory “we apologize” or “thanks” response is good, but any robotic program can do that. Science is not what those social platforms demand. What people want is authenticity: something that doesn’t appear like it was vetted by legal and corporate after a nail-biting, 14.5 hour response process. The digital world is full of trolls that deserve to be extinguished, but there are also real people with real things on their mind. And since you decided to get on social media, your party must be social. Antiquated “push only” tactics will put your brand on everyone’s “unfollow” list, so get active, stay social, and pay attention.

3. Meet Content’s royal cousin: consistency. In the kingdom of social media, content will always be king. However, the focal point of that sage Bill Gates-ism is consistency. Content only rules when there is a steady flow of it; it’s not a “turn on the fire hose and then vanish for three weeks” kind of thing. Real consistency is about the tone of your message, how it is voiced, and the ways in which the brand engages. You can’t rock a buttoned-up approach during the week and let it all hang out on the weekends because you feel like it, because the audience on social media is much smarter than that (no matter what the C-suite thinks). You can’t fake it, either: it’s obvious when a brand tries too hard or doesn’t try hard enough. Don’t be that brand. Be yourself, and do it regularly.

4. “Nobody has time for this” is not a good excuse. Yes, we get it – we are all busy, Captain Self-Importance. Still, you have to make time for social media. It’s not just a priority; it’s imperative, because your brand can’t live without it today. You don’t necessarily need multiple platforms (that can get unwieldy), but you should at least invest the time to master one of them. The president is busy; major corporations are busy; even the small business owner is busy. Yet they are on social with some purpose and regularity.

5. Ignorance no longer = bliss. Okay, so you didn’t pay attention to ‘The Twitter’ in college. Sure, you think Pinterest is only for old women looking for recipes. We understand your LinkedIn profile has a gray box where a headshot should be (for the last six years). However, “I don’t get it” is code for “I’m too lazy to hire someone to teach me or just do it for me.” And if you determine that this position is an acceptable one for your company (or even, yourself) in 2015, everyone else has already left you behind.

You and your brand/firm/personal project need to get better at it, because the cool kids and the mid-life crisis cases are all doing it together now. Get your social on in 2015!

Golden Mic | Parisians ‘Not Afraid’ In Face of Terror

When terror gripped France in the wake of a terror attack that killed 12 people in an assault on the magazine Charlie Hebdo – and five more innocent bystanders as the terrorists rampaged through France – Parisians stood in solidarity, for freedom of speech, for justice and for repudiation of terror in any form. The most poignant message in the aftermath of this evil was defiant signs proclaiming “Not Afraid.” More than a million marchers, hoisting symbolic pens – “The pen is mightier than the sword” – writing “liberty” and “free expression” on placards marched in a surge through the boulevards of Paris behind dozens of world leaders. For this defiant bravery, for standing up to the evil teeth of terror, for making freedom ring amidst all the pain and suffering, for not being afraid, the people of Paris get this week’s Golden Mic!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.

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About Ross Reily

Ross Reily is editor of the Mississippi Business Journal. He is a husband to an amazing wife, dad to 3 crazy kids and 2 dogs. He is also a fan of the Delta State Fighting Okra and the Boston Red Sox.

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