When it Comes to Public Relations, It’s all About Partnerships

by Joanna Huss, CEO & Founder of Huss Group

CEO Joanna Huss stands with Walnut Capital CEO, Gregg Perelman in the Pittsburgh Google offices in Bakery Square.

People think that public relations is all about working with media to get people publicity in newspapers and on TV. True, that’s a big part of the job. But the part that excites and fulfills me even more is creating lasting partnerships by connecting clients whose work I respect and admire. In this business, like so many others, collaboration can lead to important work on relevant issues.

An event today at Bakery Square illustrated how such partnerships can benefit a widening sphere of people. Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai visited the company’s Pittsburgh offices to announce a $1 billion community initiative. Yes, a huge investment that comes on the heels of Huss Group’s work to connect our client, the Pittsburgh Public Schools, with Google’s nonprofit initiative to bridge the digital divide among students in underserved middle schools. With its Dynamic Learning Project, the multinational tech company is investing in teachers and youths in 50 schools, including three in Pittsburgh, to teach them about computers and Internet-related services and products, essentially showing them the opportunities that technical literacy can bring: jobs, entrepreneurship, economic empowerment.

Sandar Pichai, CEO of Google stands with superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools, Anthony Hamlet. After the big announcement, Pichai made a visit to Pittsburgh Langley K-8, a school where the Dynamic Learning Project is already in motion.

As he talked about Google’s commitment to its communities, Pichai enumerated the remarkable things that we can accomplish through collaboration. We couldn’t agree more.

His rare public appearance here to announce a national initiative shined the spotlight on our city, and his powerful words sparked my reflection on the collaborative partnerships that led up to this investment. Although many partners contributed to this watershed moment, our client, Walnut Capital, first set the machinery in motion. With its vision for Bakery Square, re-activating a living and working community adjacent to Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, Walnut Capital created a physical pipeline to carry innovation from academia to market. It’s a space where some of the most influential companies of a generation are taking root.

Joanna Huss with fellow entrepreneurs creating partnerships by connecting people and growing their business.

Drawing inspiration from Pittsburgh’s industrial past, this local company has led by example, staking our city’s claim in creating the technology sector that will shape our future. Walnut’s principals created a cool neighborhood and tech community that reaches beyond Bakery Square and activates partnerships to lift up others to new levels.

Opportunity is for everyone. Learn how you can #GrowWithGoogle

WE’RE HIRING! JOIN ONE OF THE NATION’S FASTEST GROWING SOCIAL PR FIRMS

Huss Group is a rapidly growing boutique social + traditional PR and public affairs agency.  Headquartered in Pittsburgh’s tech capital, Bakery Square, our powerful reach extends coast to coast.

Huss Group employees are our brand ambassadors and exhibit the same high energy, do-whatever-it-takes approach of CEO Joanna Huss.  We are passionate about getting our clients noticed, embracing the power of story-telling to solve problems and build value for stakeholders.  To do this, we combine our deep relationships with local and national reporters and community stakeholders with swift creative digital strategy that includes the strategic use of social media.

Who you will work with:

Employees of Huss Group work with some of our nation’s most dynamic institutions, entrepreneurs and corporations: from those fighting the spread of the Zika Virus, to Napa Valley wine producers, urban and regional public school systems and even the founder of MADD – our jobs are never the same from day-to day. Our clients are inspired by what they do every day, and our employees exhibit that same energy and passion for the work we do on their behalf.

What we need:

Our ideal employee lives a well-balanced, meaningful life and is always examining and pursuing greatness at work and beyond.  We enable individuals to be their best selves by offering a flexible schedule and an attractive workplace setting.  Our office in Bakery Square is one floor below Google’s regional headquarters.  While we believe that rigid work environments crush creative and entrepreneurial spirits, our employees need to have the ability to apply sensible structure whether inside or outside of the office in order to exceed our clients’ expectations.  And since our clients operate in a 24/7 world, we do too. Our ability to respond swiftly to their needs at a moment’s notice sets us apart, as does our creative use of social media both before, during and after traditional work hours.

Our people are the recipe for our success.

Positions:

Chief Creative Strategist – Digital Operations

Chief Creative Strategist – Storytelling

Chief Creative Strategist – Digital Operations

1. Manage Huss Group (HG) social and owned-media.

  • Create and execute owned social and digital media strategy, building upon the reputable HG brand to promote the firm and its CEO in PR and trade publications, furthering HG’s position as an innovative thought leader in the new media landscape.

  • Write blogs and social media materials, including posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn, acting as the ghost writer for the CEO to connect with other thought leaders and influencers with the goal of identifying new business opportunities.

  • Identify and implement measurement tools to analyze effectiveness of marketing output, both short- and long-term.

  • Identify opportunities to connect HG and its CEO with impactful thought leadership opportunities including speaking engagements, memberships, trade shows, etc.

  • Lead weekly meetings with the CEO to report on owned-media efforts and recommend shifts in strategy based on data analysis.

2. Manage client social and digital media accounts.

  • Develop social media strategy that suits each client’s unique business needs. Identify the relevant social media outlets, establish a schedule of posts for each, and then create engaging and (where appropriate) witty social media content that connects with the clients’ targets and aligns with their business objectives.  Creative use of hashtags and other means of building engagement, including paid boosts of certain posts, are central to achieving success.

  • Manage clients’ social media accounts. Prepare reports for CEO and clients that summarize the impact of our social media strategy.

  • Interface with existing clients on a regular schedule to stay current on new products, services and media-worthy developments.  Train clients to reach out to HG when post-able news occurs between regularly scheduled posts.

  • Maximize impact and understand value of video production for social and visuals that lead to engagement for HG social and client social.  Coordinate video/visual strategies into social campaigns.

  • When necessary due to capacity constraints, engage Huss’s strategic freelancers to help develop, post and boost social/digital content.

  • Identify new potential social/digital media clients for HG.  Collaborate with the CEO to implement outreach.

Experience:

  • At least three-years of management experience in digital storytelling or related fields.

  • At least one-year experience in utilizing Facebook Ads manager and other paid digital platforms.

  • At least two-years of experience in videography/photography

  • Adobe Creative Suite experience preferred

  • Bachelor’s Degree preferred

*Competitive salary and benefits package

Chief Creative Strategist – Storytelling
  • Lead manager on public relations and public affairs client accounts. Coordinate strategy and cultivate relationship with client and their teams to ensure expectations are not only met, but exceeded.

  • Along with CEO, manage/cultivate relationships with local/regional print and TV media (newspapers, magazines, TV stations, cable).

  • Oversee traditional media research for out-of-region clients. Includes identifying targets and coordinating outreach.

  • Write/edit needed client communications including talking points, media advisories, press releases and stakeholder communications. Develop and execute meaningful dissemination strategies.

  • Assist team in writing/editing HG owned-media materials including blog posts when needed.

  • Assist with identifying opportunities for HG CEO to take part in meaningful thought leadership opportunities.

  • Assist CEO with proposal writing, ultimately taking over this role.

  • Assist digital strategist with storytelling to ensure consistency of message. May include reviewing social posts.

  • Assist with special projects developed by the CEO.

  • For crisis communications clients, assume second-in-command role when required, working closely with CEO to coordinate response. Note: This requires 24/7 availability and willingness to work overtime when necessary.

  • Monitor client-related and HG related media stories and identify stories that should connect with HG clients, leading to increased awareness opportunities.

  • New business development: Participate in new business pitches and cultivate relationships to benefit HG.

Experience:

  • At least five-years in account management role with agency

  • At least five-years experience in storytelling-related field including journalism, or public relations — role must have included interface with reporters.

  • Bachelor’s degree

For consideration, please send your resumé to jhuss@hussprgroup.com.

On Social Media Day 2017, you simply must join us here

By Joanna Huss, CEO of Huss Group

How can we build a Pittsburgh community that helps institutions, nonprofit leaders, corporations and entrepreneurs ignite their organizations? Answer: bring great minds together over libations, good bites and problem-solving breakout sessions at a place synonymous with ‘next level’ – Bakery Square.

I have a problem. I run a boutique traditional + social PR firm. I’m a busy mom. But I also have amazing clients who rely on our firm’s expert advice. And I need to constantly look ahead at business development and revenue generation while staying on top of the latest communications trends.  I can’t be stuck in the weeds of ‘how to do social media.’

So I committed to figuring out the best way to keep up with social media insights and trends so that I can maximize the value of our efforts because, well, it’s what we do. We’re communicators. We have to adapt to this Social Media Age. And if you’re like me, you refuse to be saddled with regrets and missed opportunities.  

I’m 100% certain that most organizations have this same problem. Perhaps yours is one of them. Enter Social Media Day Pittsburgh, held June 30th on National Social Media Day.

There’s major talent right here in our region, representing every piece of the social media puzzle.  Influencers such as Google’s Benjamin Weaver show nonprofits how they can leverage Google’s $10,000 free monthly AdWords. Writer Salena Zito‘s rapid rise from local political reporter to well known CNN commentator has mirrored her entrepreneurial ability to amass a social media following in the hundreds of thousands. Andi Perelman, the Pittsburgh Penguins manager of new media, has built a massive news media organization from scratch within the Pens’ social platforms.

I asked these people and others to come together, literally, with two weeks’ notice. Moving at Internet speed is not a luxury; it’s a necessity in our 24/7 world of information and innovation.  This late-stage idea is a cause that I know will be worthwhile for everyone, from marketing specialists and start-up entrepreneurs to C-suite executives of established organizations.

But, as I tell my clients, let’s focus on substance, not fluff.  At #SMDAYPGH, we’ll have “meaty” breakout sessions taught by proven marketers such as Felicia McKinney, who increased Point Park University’s Snapchat story views by 84% in three months and John Mahood, CEO of ImageBox, a firm that builds dynamic, SEO-driven websites for nonprofits. From the basic ‘how to’s’ and free templates for building an effective social media editorial calendar to #SocialPR – how to get reporters’ attention with a social strategy – you will walk away with knowledge that quite literally will ignite your organization.  You simply have to be here.

Register by Friday at 12 noon for 25% off with discount code SMDAY25.

We can’t wait to see you!

A special thanks to our sponsors: ImageBox, Douglas Winthrop, Hill Group and Thomas Evans Design.

 

Finally: United’s CEO Gets Public Relations Right

Author: Joanna Huss, Huss Group CEO + Founder

Carpool drop-off. Morning Cortado. Forbes Avenue traffic. It felt like a usual morning drive to the office. Eh, not quite. Listening to my usual local NPR station, where Trump policy talk takes the deafening shape of white noise (shout out to WESA, 90.5), there it was. The consummate nectar for every public relations professional: A long-form radio interview with an on-the-brink CEO. And even more fun, the CEO of maybe the 21st century’s largest PR disaster stories – United AirlinesOscar Munoz. But Munoz isn’t done yet. Embattled, but not broken after his tone-deaf #UnitedGate response, he did a kickass job with this radio interview hosted by David Brancaccio. A terrible nitpicker when it comes to food, drinks and, oh yes, media interviews – some call me The Judgmental One – I was surprisingly impressed.

It’s clear that a top-tier crisis communications firm intervened, and since you aren’t a popular writer these days  if you don’t present a “Top 5” or a “Top 10 Ways” list — here it is, spoon fed for you — the Top 4 Reasons Why United’s CEO Finally Gets Public Relations Right.

1. He Stayed On His Lifeboat.  

And squarely on it he did stay. You’ll get rocked and rattled by a reporter, especially when you’ve acted, well, not smaht.  Munoz didn’t take the bait. When the reporter tried to rattle him with pointed, hypothetical questions, he got right back onto his heartfelt “it’s about the people” apology. His lifeboat message points never failed him. He came off as passionate, sincere, and yes, media-trained.  

2. He Humanized Himself.

At one point Munoz talked about going against his gut in his initial response, saying – and I abbreviate – “backing the foot-in-butt policy was like putting my foot in my mouth.” But he acknowledged the error and used relatable language to communicate his fault, saying, “It just didn’t feel right in my gut.”  That shows he’s human. And now I must mention why companies need PR firms as constant partners. It’s too easy to go tone-deaf when you are surrounded by your employees whose world is working for the company under fire. Ever hear of group think? Outside counsel – PR counsel – is always needed. Especially in today’s 24/7 news cycle.

3. He Communicated Something Tangible.

The press sniffs out fluff better than a pig on a truffle hunt. Had Munoz done this interview before United’s new policies were announced, he wouldn’t have something to back up his apologetic response. He can tie his communications to the tangible changes his company is making to be, well, better. This tells us a sophisticated firm with a public affairs practice intervened.

4. He Engaged in a Conversation.

While following his carefully crafted messages, Munoz still came across as if he were having an honest conversation. He balanced the need to be scripted with the even more important need to not come off as phony. How could we tell? His intonation. His tone was melodic and his pace was natural; he left no time for awkward pauses.

Although Munoz did very well in the interview, there’s always room for improvement.  Radio offers no body language communication for its listeners to absorb, so you have to overcompensate for that. We tell our clients to turn up the energy level in their voice by at least three notches. The last thing you want is to come off sounding annoyed, low-energy, or disinterested. In the very beginning of the interview – literally at the “hello” – we would have liked to have heard more energy from Munoz. It’s a new day for United. Be positive about it while reflecting on mistakes. No one died. It wasn’t a plane crash. It’s not the end of the world.

And lastly – for goodness sake, boards of multimillion-dollar corporations – stand united (wah, wah) in making these CEOs act immediately in hiring a professional PR firm. It took Munoz more than two weeks to get it right. Stocks and consumer confidence took a dive while memes and late-night TV jokes about the airline skyrocketed. United’s biggest failure was letting its passenger policies get in the way of common sense. Every CEO and board chair should look at himself or herself in the mirror and ask:

“If my company is faced with a public relations crisis, will I ask for help?”

 

Why Your Business Needs A Social Media Strategy in 2017

In today’s world, social media is undeniably the most powerful resource for marketing and public relations. Your target audience most likely spends a significant time on social networks. Your dream customer could be scrolling down a Facebook feed at this moment. A marketing plan without a social media strategy is a huge missed opportunity.

Statista predicts an estimated 2.67 billion social media users worldwide by next year. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram have the capability to connect people across the street or across the world. What other media source has the clout and capability to disseminate information to a worldwide audience just by clicking “post”?

Your business or non-profit needs a social media strategy.

Data from Facebook shows that- every minute, 293,000 posts are published, 510,000 comments are posted, and 136,000 photos are uploaded.

It’s easy to get lost in the sea of content, but with a strong and well-managed strategy, the right message reaches the right people. In the past couple of years, we’ve watched videos and photos go viral without intention. By studying this phenomenon, we’ve learned that a great social media strategy depends on the right content delivered to the people who care about the message. Changing algorithms are changing the heart of social media marketing. Hyper-targeted delivery is more important than ever as organic reach is losing value. That means social media marketing is no longer free.

To stay relevant it’s important that brands of all scale and size uphold the goal of being “discoverable.” How will anyone find your Facebook page, read that awesome blog, or stumble upon that quirky tweet that describes their life in 140 characters? It’s not an exact science, but there are several factors that have led Huss Group to success:

  • Consistent– It’s important to keep your post frequency consistent to create a system that works.
  • Attentive– Social media is ever-changing. It’s important to pay attention  and adapt your strategy, budget, and message to meet the need of your audience.
  • Creative– It takes creativity and unique ideas to cut through the density of online content and make your message stand out.
  • Engaging- Social networking is like socializing in real life. You have to give your audience a reason to want to talk to you.

Content that makes a splash will trigger a response. Our job is to help you guide that conversation.

There are 40 million active business pages on Facebook. To help yours stand out in 2017, Huss PR Group offers social media services ranging from isolated campaigns to full page development and daily management. Our goal is get clients noticed through creativity and business acumen that cuts through the clutter so your business can shine in the space where that matters.

Interested in receiving a free social media consultation? Contact Lauren Kucic at lkucic@hussprgroup.com.