Know your brand’s voice

The importance of personality in brands’ social media 

Establishing a brand voice on social media is a vital component of strong and effective digital marketing.

As PR practitioners begin to formulate their social messaging, they must agree upon a distinctive and recognizable brand voice. This is often conveyed through the company’s written messages, language, images and videos.

According to Target Marketing, “Brands are strong and memorable when they have a distinctive, consistent, relevant brand voice. The cultivation, management and protection of that voice requires a deep understanding of what the brand stands for and what it does not.”

When executed correctly, brand voices increase engagement with followers and open new discussions between other brands.

An unmistakable voice

Since December, Wendy’s Twitter account has been gaining serious media attention for their quick-witted comebacks.

Roasting not only individual twitter accounts that make sassy tweets, Wendy’s also takes direct jabs at other fast food restaurants including their biggest competitors McDonald’s and Burger King.

Since the start of these messages, “Wendy’s has seen an approximate a 35% increase in followers to date, which equates to about 350,000 net new followers,” according to Toast Resturant Management Blog.

This is a major jump in followers in just a little over two months. This increase was not due to a marketing or messaging campaign. Instead, Wendy’s established their brand voice as sassy and relentless.

Followers flock to companies like Wendy’s because they make them laugh and they engage with people who tweet at them. They may not be the top competitor in the fast food industry but they have the strongest social presence.

What this means for PR

Social media managers and PR practitioners must take examples like Wendy’s seriously and focus on establishing a brand voice. To do this, they must have a strong grasp on their company’s mission. A brand whose messages clash with their purpose will only lose their audience.

communicationOnce it is established it must be utilized. However, it is more than just sending a voice through messaging. This is the time for PR practitioners to lean into the two-way communication model and increase engagement.

Most, if not every company sends messages out through social media. Yet, many miss the chance to distinguish themselves as a brand with a voice rather than a business trying to increase sales.

Allowing personality to shine through on social media humanizes the brand, starts discussions and improves relationships with followers.

For those starting out, Content Marketing Institute lays out 5 Easy Steps to Define and Use Your Brand Voice.

Eat pasta as the Italians do

A strategic plan to the BEST Italian spring break and pasta

As the trees start to bloom and shirt sleeves get shorter, college students across the nation prepare for their spring break trips to sunshine-filled beaches.

The whole Brown family at Auburn game.

This year, I will not be joining the mass exodus south for the spring. Instead, I have the amazing opportunity to travel to Italy with my family of eight.

Over a ten-day period my family, boyfriend and I will be conquering the beautiful Italian landscape between Florence and Rome.

We will visit famous museums, Italian wineries and small hidden villages. It will be fabulous!

While I have many hopes and expectations for this trip, my boyfriend, Kaleb, and I have one important goal to accomplish as a couple…

To find the best spaghetti dish In italy.


For those who may not know, Kaleb’s favorite food in the whole world is spaghetti.

In order to accomplish this, I have laid out a strategic plan for our week by defining our objectives, strategies and tactics.

Step 1 – Pasta Objective

Kaleb and Christy on Christmas.

To begin, this goal is broad. So, to help us focus in, I have established a pasta objective.

In public relations, objectives are set during the planning process to help narrow down the campaign’s goals.

These also give a measurable aspect of the public relations efforts including results and time frame.

Our pasta objective is…

To choose the #1 spaghetti dish among the restaurants that Kaleb and I eat at within the week that we are in Italy.


This gives us a quantifiable objective from which we can form a plan of attack.

Step 2 – Dining Strategy

When creating a public relations campaign, practitioners devise strategies that correlate to each specific objective. These are the plans a PR team must accomplish in order to achieve a specific goal.

For Spaghetti purposes, our strategy is…

Eat Spaghetti Daily.


One way or another, Kaleb and I must try a new type of spaghetti every day that we are in Italy.

Step 3 – Ordering Tactic

Lastly, tactics are the actual vehicles that PR practitioners use to accomplish their strategy. In other words, they are the to-do list. This could include writing a social media post or sending out a press release.

For our trip, there are three tactics or ways that we can taste spaghetti…


From here we will rank each tasting on a scale of 1-10. We will then log our responses and restaurants as well as take a picture with each plate so that we can differentiate. At the end of the trip, we will determine the winning spaghetti dish.

Now, this plan may seem limiting. Those who have traveled to Italy may be screaming at their computer saying, “Try more things! There’s more to Italian food than pasta!” You are right, and we will. However, this is a fun way to track our travels through Italy, and we are excited to try.

To recap, the steps to accomplishing our Italian spring break are:

Goal: To find the best spaghetti dish in Italy.

Objective: To choose the #1 spaghetti dish among the restaurants that Kaleb and I eat at within the week that we are in Italy.

Strategy: Eat spaghetti daily.

Tactic: Order it as our meal, try it from a family member’s plate or request a sample.

Wish us luck! Happy travels 🙂

Visit Cutting Edge PR or PR Couture for more information on strategic public relations planning.

Hootsuite’s top resources for social media managers

Many PR practitioners know Hootsuite for its pre-scheduling capabilities for social media campaigns. This tool allows managers to pre-write posts and also have a birds-eye view of social streams and company mentions. In turn, PR practitioners then have more time to engage with followers, which is vital for a strong social presence.

However, there is so much more to this management software than the scheduling system. It provides PR practitioners and marketers with resources to create strategic campaigns in order to engage with their key audiences.

Here are three of Hootsuite’s most valuable resources for social media managers.


Hootlet is a free, downloadable plug-in for web browsers that lets social media managers share articles and blogs quickly on the web.

The Hootsuite Icon in the corner of web browsers is a one-click step to sharing, scheduling and posting websites’ content to all social accounts.

According to Social Media Today, “The functionality offered by Hootlet provides a unique social sharing experience to your daily browsing efforts. Now you have one tool to perform all your social searching, sharing and scheduling directly from the web browser.”

The Hootlet plug-in eliminates the need to open Hootsuite’s dashboard for composing posts. Therefore cutting down the time it takes to share content and freeing up time for engagement.

Hootsuite Analytics

When executing a social media campaign, PR practitioners must demonstrate that their work contributes to the bottom line – sales. Each social platform has their own back-end analytics that supplies managers with statistics on shares, likes and engagement.

However, Hootsuite’s analytics provides this information in one location with a standardized measurement scale.

The first and free option, Overview, gives managers a general view of their accounts’ activity. It calculates the number of posts, followers, engagement and traffic.

The second, Boards, allow social media managers the ability to focus in on specific campaigns and keywords. These boards are in real time and can be viewed by multiple people within an organization.

These reports give senior management evidenced on the impacts of effective social media campaigns.


Hootsuite’s Amplify is an employee advocacy program, which gives employees access to a stream of pre-written posts.

Social media managers fill their streams with company news, promotions and upcoming events that employees can gain access to. Once connected to these content libraries, employees can post the pre-written messages directly to their personal accounts. This can be done both from a desktop and the mobile app.

Brand advocacy through employees is a vital resource for PR practitioners and marketers. When employees are given the resources to share company information to their personal accounts, it helps boost the messaging reach.

An example of effective employee posting through Amplify is Topgolf. According to Hootsuite, Topgolf saw a 66% increase in content read due to Amplify.

This tool is vital in expanding a company’s social media reach by utilizing their employees as brand advocates. However, it is more than just encouraging employees to participate in social. Amplify provides them with a one-stop location for company content.

Auburn students meet with governor and state officials at annual Lobby Day

*This Article originally appeared in Auburn University Newsroom*

Auburn’s SGA Lobby Board met with Alabama’s governor, lieutenant governor and state officials to discuss issues related to higher education as part of the annual SGA Lobby Day on Thursday, Feb. 16, at the state’s capitol in Montgomery.

The Lobby Board, a branch of SGA’s cabinet, consists of 30 Auburn students with a passion for local and state politics as well as a desire to lobby for more funding for Auburn University.

Lobby Board President Calvin Wilborn said that SGA Lobby Day allows the board to gain face time and strengthen their relationships with their elected officials.

“It is something that Auburn has been participating in for the last 20 years,” Wilborn said. “This day is important because we can meet with our representatives and senators and show them our passion for these issues.”

Students had the opportunity to meet with Gov. Robert Bentley and discuss current issues in the state as well as plans for Alabama’s growth. Bentley complimented the group on their desire to make an impact on their campus and in their state.

“I have learned to love and respect Auburn. It’s a different atmosphere there and you all ought to be proud of that,” Bentley said.

Lt. Gov. and Auburn alumna Kay Ivey spoke at a luncheon, sharing stories about her time at Auburn and how it changed her life for the better.

“You need to live by the Auburn Creed. Be friendly, forward thinking and take advantage of every opportunity to improve your community,” said Ivey.

Ivey also stressed the importance of being informed and involved in political decisions at the local, state and federal level.

“You have to pay your city rent just like you have to pay your house rent,” Ivey said. “We all have an obligation to get involved in our community, to help others and help improve the quality of life where we live and work.”

More than 20 elected officials attended the luncheon and spoke with students on issues ranging from how to get involved with politics to the current political climate in Alabama.

Emily Stone, an SGA senator for the College of Agriculture and a member of Lobby Board, said her passion for politics stems from a desire to increase college funding and see long-term growth in Alabama.

“Many people in the state don’t have the opportunity to go to college,” said Stone. “I think the more people that become educated, the more opportunities there are for jobs to come to Alabama. This will then uplift our state as a whole.”

Senator Tom Whatley, District 27 of Lee County, said it is exciting and refreshing having young minds visit the capital and be excited about politics.

“The students at Auburn are a cross representation from all over the state,” Whatley said. “I’m requesting a total budget of around $12 million for Auburn Univeristy for programs like cyber security or the aviation program. Having people from the district tell their elected officials why those budget items are important is extremely valuable.”

Jesse Westerhouse, Auburn’s 2016-2017 SGA president, urged all Auburn students to get involved with the local, state and federal initiatives.

“Lobby Day is a great opportunity for us to form relationships and show the capital that Auburn students care about politics,” Westerhouse said. “I would encourage all students to apply for Lobby Board or get involved so we can better the future of Auburn Univeristy and Alabama as a whole.”

New social trends for digital gurus

“you don’t get a win unless you play in the game.” – Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton.


The social landscape constantly changes with new social media trends calling the attention of users across the globe. In order to stay competitive with their digital presence, brands and their social media marketers must begin to use new social trends.

What is new in 2017? Here are four trends PR practitioners and marketers must start to incorporate into their messaging.

Live Videos

Facebook and Instagram’s new live videos are taking over the internet. People can now keep up with their friends in real time by tuning into the live videos streaming on social sites.

Businesses must begin to utilize these live videos to increase two-way communication with their publics.

According to Bitly, “This is something someone looking to make their brand more personable and authentic should definitely be planning. For example, if you’re running a team-building exercise, consider streaming it to your audience and make them feel like they’re involved.”

360-degree Videos

The new 360-degree videos open another playing field for businesses showing their products to customers on social media.

“Businesses will also greatly benefit from this new technology. They’ll be able to show 360° videos of hotels, houses, cars, museums, art galleries etc. to their potential clients on different social media channels,” Bitly said.

A great example of this is CBS’s 360-degree video of the Broadway play, Hamilton.

Watch this 360° Hamilton: An American Musical performance of "Wait For It" now for an exclusive look at the cast getting ready for The 70th Annual Tony Awards this Sunday 8/7c live on CBS or CBS All Access.

Posted by CBS on Wednesday, June 8, 2016


This gives the Hamilton fans a sample of the musical performances, and it also shows the stage’s set and theater. This alone received 2.5 million views. It increased the buzz about the show and allowed CBS to communicate with their audiences with interactive technology.

Employee Advocates as  Brand Ambassadors

A growing trend from brands is increasing their employees’ communication on social media with consumers.

Customers often trust recommendations about products more than marketing pushes and advertisements. Therefore, employees are companies’ biggest asset because they are closest to the product. They can share that knowledge online by having conversations with customers about the product.

In a case study conducted by Link Human on AT&T’s use of employee advocates, they found that, “the results of the program showed an ROI of an estimated media value of over $1 million; a community of 1533 members, who have produced over 20,000 social media posts and audience engagement is over 400,000.”

Social Shopping

Social commerce has grown significantly due to social sites like Instagram and Pinterest. These allow customers direct access to purchasing pages when the promoted product is linked from their social site.

According to SproutSocial, “The Sprout Social Index discovered 57% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand they follow. Additionally, 75% have made a purchase because they saw it on social media.”


Auburn ag alumna receives international Emerging Sustainability Leader Award

*This article originally appeared in the Auburn University Newsroom &*

Auburn University agriculture alumna and Kenya native Esther Ngumbi recently received the Emerging Sustainability Leader Award at the sixth World Sustainability Forum in Cape Town, South Africa.

Ngumbi, along with a fellow recipient, split a $10,000 award sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute’s Sustainability Journal, an international scholarly publication covering environmental, cultural, economic and social sustainability.

The award encourages new initiatives in sustainability with the ultimate aim of transferring research to sustainable practices and societies. This goal aligns with Ngumbi’s research efforts in developing sustainable farming practices through her work as an Auburn doctoral student and postdoctoral plant pathologist.

“The award is important because it re-inspired and reenergized me to continue on with the work that I am so passionate and committed to—solving one of the most pressing global sustainability issue of our world, that of hunger and food insecurity,” Ngumbi said. “I felt humbled and honored because the World Sustainability Forum appreciates the efforts, love and commitment that I have put to champion for a hunger-free, food-secure world.”

Ngumbi was the first in her native community of 22,000 to receive her doctorate, completing it in entomology from Auburn’s College of Agriculture five years ago. Since receiving the degree, she has founded a model primary school in her home village of Mabafwemi, secured a $10,000 grant to build the village’s first library and works daily to teach the people of Kenya efficient and sustainably farming techniques.

“With this recognition, I hope to continue pushing for this sustainable movement,” Ngumbi said. “I will keep inspiring and mobilizing people to take action against food insecurity and hunger and work to ensure a future of healthy, nutritious food for the world’s growing population. This is arguably the world’s most pressing sustainability issue.”

Resources for top-notch social media marketing

Managing the demand for social media interaction and content creation 

social-media-mobile-icons-snapchat-facebook-instagram-ss-800x450-3-800x450As the world continues to connect online and more audiences expect interaction from their favorite brands, social media managers must utilize these resources to maximize their social presence.

Scheduling Software

Social media managers’ strongest ally is their scheduling software. Sites such as Hootsuite or TweetDeck allow PR practitioners to visually layout and schedule posts on social media platforms in one location.

Beyond scheduling, these also allow managers to follow specific topics or hashtags pertaining to their brand. They can then stay on top of the conversation because the information is all in one place.

Another great aspect of scheduling software is that it gives PR practitioners the opportunity to directly communicate with people talking about their brand. If tweets and post are scheduled, communicators can spend their time responding quickly to comments and increasing two-way communication with their audiences.

Different pre-scheduling software includes:

  • TweetDeck
  • Postcorn
  • Later Bro
  • CoTweet
  • Twaitter
  • Future Tweets
  • Tweetsqueue
  • Dynamic Tweets
  • Taweet
  • Tweet-U-Later
  • TweetSched
  • Twuffer

For more information on the list above, visit 11 Free Services for Scheduling Social Media Updates.

Compelling Stories

In order to have a strong presence on social media, it is necessary to write compelling stories. These can be presented as a blog, video or even 2015_03_17-storytelling-for-startupspicture. However, they must be done well with attention to detail and relate back to the company’s mission.

According to Postcorn, “We have to harness the power of social networks, not just to ‘share’ content, but to ‘tell it’, and to ‘narrate’ the brand. Don’t take social media platforms as ANOTHER distribution channel, but rather as a conversation channel, a transmission of experiences, feelings, values, dreams, failures, successes, truths, etc.”

Write stories that relate to your campaign or brand message. However, make sure it will stick with your target audience.

Currency on social media is the number of shares, not likes. Therefore, write compelling stories that people want to share with their own followers. This, in turn, will spread the voice of your brand and presence on social platforms.

Utilizing Keywords

When formulating a tweet or post, create tweets that are short, cohesive and utilize keywords.

how-to-find-keywords-for-seoMore people are starting to use social media networks as a search engine to find businesses they need.  According to Kissmetric’s Blog on How to Use Keywords on Your Social Networks, “Smart keywords choices and placement will give you a better chance of moving up on a social media search page.”

Once the keywords are determined, they should be included in captions, hashtags and headlines to ensure the best Search Engine Optimization, or SEO.

An excellent tool for determining and analyzing keywords is SocialMention. This site allows you to select a word or hashtag that you would like to follow and ensure your company is succeeding in using SEO.

Picking Your Valentine’s Day Gift

Applying PR primary and secondary research practices 

As Feb. 14 approaches and pink hearts fill the shelves of stores, women everywhere begin to wonder what to buy their significant other for Valentine’s Day.

While many simply ask their valentine what he wants or give into cheesy chocolates, there is a covert process that can ensure effective and anything-but-cliche gift giving. Approaching the purchase from a PR research perspective can give better insight into the perfect present this Valentine’s Day.

Step 1 – Secondary Research

Also referred to as background research, secondary research is an analysis of past studies conducted by another party. This step is vital in the search for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift.

You may think you know your significant other like the back of your hand. However, you’ll be surprised what you find when reflecting on the following information.

  • Historical Research/Case Studies

secondary-research-used_9e231777a70223c1Take a moment and reflect on past gift exchanges between you and your valentine.

Many martyrs from Valentine’s Days past know the sting when your date’s face shows disappointment as they open the gift. Make a list of his favorite and most hated gifts. Why did he like or dislike it? Does he appreciate handmade gifts or is he more interested in something bought?

This stage is necessary in analyzing the ghosts of presents past.

  • Internal & External Documents

Determine what your valentine is crazy about. Reach beyond the sports or hobbies he talks about regularly (though don’t dismiss these). Look at what he has in his home or car. What is his sense of style? Is there something he is lacking?

Also, take note of activities he does with you and his friends. While a gift to hold is great, it’s never a bad idea to consider an activity as a gift if it fits his personality.

  • Databases and Internet Sources 

Beyond your analysis of his habits, research top gifts this season. While it may be tempting to Google, “Valentine’s gifts for him”, don’t do it. This will point you towards the cheesy chocolates mentioned above.

Instead, use keywords in your search specific to him. This will help you focus in on your gift giving pursuits.

Step 2 – Primary Research

Once you have conducted your secondary research, it is time to go directly to the source for primary research.

interviewIn public relations, primary research methods include focus groups, interviews, censuses and surveys.

In the case of the Valentine’s Day date, an interview is recommended.

Ask about gifts he wants or needs and solidify any brainstorming that began during your secondary research. However, don’t be overt in your questions and practice your detective skills. The element of surprise is best in the case of gift giving.

Step 3 – Decision & Gift Giving

With both your secondary and primary research combined and analyzed, it is time for the big decision. You can now decide on the best gift for your valentine!

While yes, this process may seem extensive and rather thorough, it has been the backbone for many successful PR and marketing campaigns. Therefore, follow these steps to ensure a smile from your valentine as he unwraps his gift.

For more information on PR research methods, visit Market Research Techniques: Primary and Secondary Market Research.

Happy Gift Giving!  <3