PR folk, spin doctors or PR practitioners? Communications professionals are dubbed with many titles but one thing we all continue to share is a tendency to preach the importance of planning before communicating with the public. It’s something that ought to run deep in the veins of public relations professionals, whether planning the appropriate key messaging, target audiences, the best channels to reach them, or ensuring spokespeople are confident when speaking to media.
Enter live tweeting – the process of posting a live stream of content on Twitter while the event is taking place – offering a pitch side view to anyone not attending. This is the aspect of social media that has torn up the public relations discourse, dramatically shifting the goal posts in managing the message. It can’t be planned to anywhere near the same degree; mistakes can’t be so easily ironed out. So, let’s abandon any principles the founding fathers of public relations laid down and put up some pictures of cats to build a following instead, right?
Wrong. Live tweeting can act a valuable way to help businesses raise brand awareness and increase engagement, especially as an extension of a wider media programme, but it requires just as much strategy and expertise as traditional media plans do. I spent the last few days live tweeting an event hosted by the Cyber Security Challenge UK – an organisation that runs a series of national competitions, learning programmes, and networking initiatives designed to identify, inspire and enable the next generation of cyber enthusiasts in UK to become cyber security professionals. The event was a great success and the twitter stream was able to extend its reach far beyond those in the room. Here are the top five principles we use to ensure live tweeting runs smoothly:
1. Plan a hashtag in advance
I could easily write a whole separate blog on ways of coming up with the right hashtag, but planning it well in advance is perhaps the most important point. If used effectively, it will make sure those at the event are tweeting into the same feed, and for those following the event at home it can provide an almost seamless view of the day. It will also act as an effective way to track and analyse engagements and feedback following the event through the tools like Twitonomy and Hashtracking.
2. Communicate the hashtag to key stakeholders
A key measure of the success in live tweeting is the amount of users getting involved and tweeting the event. Followers can become disengaged if content is coming solely from the event organiser, so it’s vital to make sure to contact all those involved in the event, including sponsors, speakers or other attendees to make sure they’re aware of the planned hashtag. It’s also helpful to ensure this is used on all marketing collateral at the event to build further awareness.
3. Assemble the correct toolbox
Before live-tweeting, arm yourself with the right tools. There are countless platforms out there that allow you to schedule tweets in advance and this allows for that all important strategic planning. Some of these include Hootsuite and TweetDeck It is likely you will have a schedule for the day so use this to schedule tweets for things you know are going to happen at a certain time. Planned content is the best platform to really champion your key message at regular points throughout the day, whilst interspersed with live content about what’s happening and responding to other tweets that users are posting with the event hashtag.
4. Have appropriate imagery already on-hand
In line with the old adage ‘A picture paints a thousand words’, high quality imagery is paramount to effective live tweeting. Having a high quality camera on site is a must. However, having a planned bank of imagery that can supplement this and accompany any tweets scheduled in advance can really add some flavour and make a consistent flow of content easier to manage.
5. Don’t let standards slip
Live-tweeting an event by its very nature is constant and tweets need to be going out fairly thick and fast, but this doesn’t mean you should abandon the standards you adhere to on a day to day basis when it comes to content. Be selective about the content you choose to tweet and only post high-quality photos and information that your audience will find interesting. An unclear photo of a speaker in a dark room, for example, can look unprofessional and not do the event justice. Similarly, the tone of voice needs to remain true to your usual style. Make sure every member of the team who will be tweeting has reminded themselves of your brand’s social media guidelines before the event begins.
If you have any questions on the blog contact Niall Moran (firstname.lastname@example.org)