What PR Pros Must Do Before Collecting Insights From Media Coverage

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Measuring media relations success has to start at the top. Meaning, before you start collecting insights from your coverage, you need to have a benchmark of what your ideal story is, and everyone, from the CEO level down, needs to be in agreement about what that is.

This was the central media relations tenet expressed by Visit Philly’s communications team at PR News’ recent Measurement Conference in Philadelphia. Paula Butler, VP of communications, Dana Schmidt, director of social media, and Kevin Lessard, senior analyst, have a clear idea of what the perfect story is for Visit Philly, the official visitor website for Philadelphia travel and tourism.

Visit Philly’s top-down-agreed-upon ideal story:

  • Published in a high-profile outlet
  • Has a great headline
  • Is a full-length feature as opposed to a mention
  • Includes a great image or video (preferably credited to Visit Philly)
  • And it links to one of Visit Philly’s websites, which is their perfect call to action

Obviously, every organization has its own version of what its ideal media story is. But unless you hash it out with the C-suite on down the line, measurement efforts and the reporting of metrics will quite likely result in so-what shrugs and glazed expressions.

With its ideal story in mind, the Visit Philly communications team starts by measuring the traditional things like:

• clip counts

• impressions generated

• the breakdown of coverage by media type

• sentiment

Then they dig into the earned media data they’re collecting. These additional metrics can be changed depending on what you value in your coverage, Lessard said:

Coverage by topic—This drives Visit Philly’s content strategy. What performs well, and when?

Coverage by type of placement—Visit Philly places an emphasis on driving more feature coverage (vs. mentions).

Coverage using beautiful images—If you have visual resources, make sure the media knows about them. (Visit Philly recently launched a redesign of its online pressroom, placing a big emphasis on visual content.)

Coverage conveying key messages from a corporate standpoint.

Geographic breakdown of coverage (by DMA)

Coverage in A-list media—For Visit Philly, A-list media comprises local, regional and national travel/lifestyle outlets (see image above).

All efforts to pinpoint a brand’s ideal media story and select the right metrics go down the drain without meticulous tracking and smart repurposing of coverage for internal and external stakeholders, Lessard said. Beyond sharing coverage on social media, you should consider repackaging media coverage in the form of a regular e-newsletter sent to employees and boards of directors. You helped create the good news about your organization—be creative about distributing that good news.

 

[“Source-prnewsonline”]

Kevin Spacey just got fired from Ridley Scott’s new movie, a month before its release

Ridley Scott will completely remove Kevin Spacey from his upcoming biopic thriller All the Money in the World — with fewer than two months to go until the movie’s scheduled December 22 release.

According to Deadline, which first reported the news, Christopher Plummer will replace Spacey in the film’s most prominent supporting role. Scott’s drastic choice to cut Spacey from the movie will put it at risk of missing its December 22 release date, thus jeopardizing its Oscar eligibility.

The news follows a wave of sexual assault allegations made against Spacey by more than a dozen people, including multiple accusations of assault on underage victims.

Based on a true story, All the Money in the World details the harrowing 1973 kidnapping of J. Paul Getty’s 16-year-old grandson, J. Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer, no relation), and Getty’s refusal to comply with the kidnappers’ demands. Spacey was set to play the elder Getty, and the decision to reshoot his role entirely, especially so close to the film’s release date, is extremely unprecedented.

The decision to cut Spacey from the film indicates how drastically Hollywood is reacting to the allegations against the actor

Though there have been other historical instances where an actor has been replaced during a film’s production, recasting a role or conducting extensive reshoots after a film has wrapped is rare, and usually only happens to this extent in the case of an unexpected death — for example, Paul Walker’s brothers standing in for reshoots of Furious 7 after his death.

That Scott and the All the Money in the World’s producers are willing to go to such lengths to essentially erase Spacey’s presence from the film speaks to how seriously Hollywood is taking the allegations of sexual assault that have been levied against him — or at least how desperate many people in the entertainment industry are to distance themselves from a man whose behavior was allegedly a longstanding open secret.

The decision comes after the film’s production studio, TriStar, abandoned what would have been an aggressive marketing and awards season campaign built around Spacey’s performance. The studio additionally pulled the film from what would have been an Oscar-bait slot at the American Film Institute’s November film festival. Regarding that decision, TriStar issued a statement, noting, “All the Money in the World is a superb film … But given the current allegations surrounding one of its actors and out of respect for those impacted, it would be inappropriate to celebrate at a gala at this difficult time.”

All the Money in the World features an ensemble cast including Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg. According to Deadline, the decision to replace Spacey and reshoot all of his scenes was “unanimous” among the film’s cast and crew.

Vox has reached out to Spacey’s representatives for comment.

Source:-VOX

Before you take money from your 401(k)

Image result for Before you take money from your 401(k)

Did you ever need money and think about taking a loan or withdrawal from your 401(k) account — but aren’t sure how to do so or if it’s ever a wise move?

You’ve got lots of company. Representatives who take calls for retirement plans say withdrawal and loan requests and related questions consume the biggest portion of their time.

But what it all boils down to when figuring if this is a good idea depends on what you’ll do with the money.

Most financial pundits say never take money from your 401(k) plan because you’re reducing funds you’ll need for retirement. Another good reason to avoid taking early withdrawals is that when you take money out, you’ll pay more income taxes and penalties than you would otherwise. It’s hard to argue against these reasons.

But if the measure of your financial health is your net worth (assets less debts), taking cash from your 401(k) plan to pay off debt has no immediate impact on that. Less money in your 401(k) is offset by less debt.

Look at this more closely. For example, let’s say the funds in your 401(k) plan have been earning a rate of return of 7 percent. But the debt you’re carrying is costing you 18 percent. In that case, taking money from your 401(k) to pay down 18 percent interest debt is the same as earning 11 percent (the difference between the 18 percent interest cost on the debt and the 7 percent earnings on the account).

Here is another example: Let’s say you want to buy a home, but you don’t have enough cash for the down payment to get a good mortgage. Your choices include:

  • Getting a nonconforming mortgage with a higher interest rate and mortgage insurance.
  • Waiting until you save the down payment and miss out on buying that home and possibly low mortgage interest rates.
  • Withdraw or borrow the cash from your 401(k) account and get the house with a low-rate mortgage.

In this case, the last choice might be the best.

The advantage of taking a loan from your 401(k) to purchase a primary residence is that it can be paid back over 15 years or over the term of the mortgage. The loan is qualified as a “principal residence loan,” and the interest paid qualifies as an itemized deduction as “qualified residence interest.”

If you instead take a “hardship withdrawal” from your 401(k), which is permitted for the purchase of a primary residence, then the amounts withdrawn are taxable as income and an additional 10 percent penalty tax is also applicable. Also, hardship withdrawals cannot be paid back into the 401(k) plan.

If your 401(k) plan allows you to take a loan, and you want to do it for one of the financial situations above, then do so. Unlike hardship withdrawals, amounts borrowed through a 401(k) plan loan aren’t taxable as income unless the balance goes unpaid.

An exception to this strategy is that individuals owning a 401(k) plan account with an employer for whom they no longer work typically cannot take a loan. Instead, they can transfer their 401(k) account to an IRA and then take hardship withdrawals that are free from the 10 percent tax, if the distributions are used for things like medical expenses allowed as an itemized deduction, qualified education expenses and qualified first-time homebuyers.

To properly report penalty-free withdrawals from an IRA, you’ll need to complete IRS form 5329.

But when you take a 401(k) loan and later can’t afford to repay it, the unpaid loan balance will become a taxable hardship withdrawal. Hardship withdrawals from retirement plans are typically allowed for things like uninsured medical expenses or to make mortgage payments to avoid foreclosure of their home.

Although those are truly hardship situations, these individuals are better advised to seek other forms of financial relief, rather than striping cash from their retirement plans. One reason is that under federal law, assets held in an employer’s retirement plan are excluded from the judgments for creditors during bankruptcy. Rather than spending down retirement assets, only to prolong the inevitable bankruptcy, it may be better to not touch these protected assets and get the bankruptcy process going sooner rather than later.

And since most states provide some exemption for your home, after bankruptcy you’ll still own that and your 401(k) account.

Also, low-income individuals (including those who suddenly find themselves unemployed) who face unexpected and large uninsured medical expenses may also qualify for a certain form of Medicaid benefits that consider primarily income. Pulling cash from retirement accounts in this situation may be unnecessary, and it may be better to get the Medicaid application process underway.

In both situations, your best move is to seek the counsel of a qualified attorney on the best course of action before you take a nickel from your 401(k) plan.

[“Source-cbsnews”]

AnswerDash: Provide Predictive Answers Before Your Customers Even Ask Them

Think about the last time you visited the FAQ section on a website.

Why must the map on how to navigate the site be sequestered away from the site itself?

Users are often forced to leave whichever page they are looking at in order to track down information somewhere else on your website. And this puts all the burden on your customers, rather than on your website where it should be. Not only must customers leave the page they are looking at to find the information they want. They are often met with pages of gray print that take time to sift through.

AnswerDash has provided an answer to this predicament. The company has eliminated the use of ‘help islands’; or separate, standalone pages that are often slapped onto sites with little to no integration into the flow of the information . Rather than being redirected to a separate page, users are able to access a tab on the page itself and search from there.

This is the exact opposite of the standard help island formula. As AnswerDash representative Morgan Moretz said in an email interview with Small Business Trends, “AnswerDash is the next generation of website self-service that gives users the right answers, at the right place, at the right time.

“With AnswerDash, digging through knowledge base articles is avoided. Lengthy typing sessions back-and-forth in a live chat window, whether with a bot or a human, are avoided. Phone calls are avoided. Although this type of ‘in-context’ help has been a concept known to computer scientists for decades, AnswerDash is the first company ever to provide it as a SaaS-based answer layer that can grow over time as Web visitors ask new questions.”

AnswerDash also makes use of analytics, providing the site with data about which questions are asked most often. This data, in turn, provides insights into what is causing potential customers to unsubscribe, abandon carts, or just leave, so that the issues can be addressed and fixed. “Our data shows that 5 to 15 percent of customers on a website will use AnswerDash to get answers to their questions,” Moretz mentions, “That’s 50 to 150 times as much usage as most online businesses that rely on help islands to provide answers.”

According to AnswerDash’s own case study (PDF), its tool helps to reduce customer support volumes by up to 50 percent, which means customers are spending more time looking at your product, not an FAQ. Not only do they spend less time searching for answers, but they also spend less time contacting support phone lines, live chat options, or email. (These solutions can be costly or inconvenient for both parties anyway.) By simply accessing a small tab at the top of the page, users are able to access a list of questions and issues giving them information as quickly as possible.

Creating a streamlined system is critical to retaining customers on your site. When users encounter problems, they often become frustrated, and negative experiences do not bring about repeat customers. Instead, AnswerDash tried to design its system to minimize reliance on huge Q&A sections or frustrating  customer support.

Moretz says, “In recognition of most people’s desire to solve their own problems rather than contacting customer support, AnswerDash makes getting self-service answers easy — much easier than FAQs or other help islands. In fact, most customers never need to type a single word when getting answers with AnswerDash since it’s based on the power of point-and-click.

Image: AnswerDash

[“source-smallbiztrends”]