New Facebook Design Rolls out for Brand Pages

After months of waiting, brand pages are now able to convert to the new Facebook design. All pages will automatically get the new design March 30. The new design brings many added benefits – including a more visually appealing design – for businesses.

Here’s what you need to know:

Preview your page before it goes live. Now through March 30, page administrators can preview their page and publish it right away. While you are working on it, any changes you make to the page will only be visible to other page admins. And, if brands are not ready to transition just yet, they can wait until Facebook automatically does it for them.

Cover photo now spreads across the top of the page. Brand pages now have the ability to include a cover photo, or a billboard that stretches across the top of your page. It’s the first thing people will see on your page, and it should make an impression. This photo will speak volumes about your brand. However, Facebook has set rules for what these photos can be. The photo has certain size limitations, but most importantly, it cannot include price or purchase information, contact information that belongs in the About section, references to like or share, or a call to action. So take note when selecting your image.

Tabs go away, apps menu now below the cover photo. Photos, likes, events and apps are now at the top of your page, just below your cover photo. Photos will only show in the first spot but you can change the order of everything else so people see what matters most.

Timeline gives managers ability to rearrange posts. Timeline displays all your posts in chronological order, but page administrators can rearrange their page’s timeline by “pinning” or “highlighting” posts.  When you “pin” a post, it moves to the top left of your page. This allows managers to prominently display relevant posts even if it is not the most recent one. Notice in the image below there is a tiny orange flag in the top right corner of the post. This means the item has been pinned successfully. The post will stay at the top of the page for seven days and then return to its original posting date. Want to remove it before then? Don’t worry. You can “unpin” it at any time.

Managers also are able to expand – or highlight – a post to make it wider. Below is an example of this. Notice the top post is wider than the   bottom two – giving more prominence to the top one.

One last thing on Timeline, admins can add “milestones” to a brand’s page. Milestones are prominently shown and can include a photo. This is just another feature of the new design that really allows a brand to tell its story.

New admin panel makes managing page easier. Brand admins will find managing their page gets easier. Everything – from latest insights to comments on your page – are all in one place.

Followers can now communicate with pages privately. This is by far one of the best features Facebook has given brand pages – the ability for followers to connect privately with your page. A “message” button will now appear on your page, allowing followers to contact you with questions or concerns. However, it does not appear brand admins can initiate conversations privately at this time.

There are many changes you will find with the new design – both big and small – but I think the few I’ve highlighted here will get you on the right path. If you’re not quite ready to convert to the new design, play around with the preview options and get to know the new layout. Strategically think through what your cover photo should be and which posts you want to highlight or pin on your page. I think you’ll agree it’s a great way to tell your company’s story.

And, if you need help learning the new layout and getting your brand to stand out in this digital world, contact our team of experts.

Christina Morton is an account executive specializing in social media at CBR.

Social Media Sites to Watch

Just when you thought your social media strategy was complete, a new social network comes along and throws everything to the wind. Hold tight. A few of the newbies that have recently joined the ranks of the top social media sites may be just the thing to complement your strategy and put your company on top – depending on how you use them, of course. As companies continue to make social media a key part of their overall public relations efforts in 2012, here are some of the sites we are watching:

Google+ – 90 million users and counting

Launched in June 2011, Google+ is Google’s second attempt to compete with social media-behemoth Facebook (remember Google Buzz?). The site is similar to Facebook in the way you can update your page, but a unique feature is the ability to hold a “hangout.” A hangout is a video chat with up to nine friends – which can be useful for a business both internally and externally. There are a number of ways to utilize this tool. For example, President Obama experimented with it in January to connect with voters, and just before the Super Bowl, players from the New York Giants hosted a set of hangouts.

However, much attention of late has been paid to the site’s release of “Search Plus Your World.” This effectively means “Google+ results will be blended with the traditional ‘authoritative results,’” as explained in a recent Mashable.com article. Users will see results from people in their “Circles” – which are groups of friends labeled by the user – when logged in to Google+. This also will give priority in search rankings to Google+ pages over more relevant results that may be on other social networks. This will become important for companies to integrate into their SEO strategy.

There is much to talk about when it comes to Google+, but for fear of turning this post into a novel, let’s move on to Pinterest.

Pinterest – “Social Media’s Rising Star”

So, what is Pinterest and why should you care? Pinterest is a virtual pinboard that allows users to “pin” – or collect – photos and videos from the Web and post them to their “boards.” I like to think of it as a digital scrapbook. It’s addicting to say the least. That’s why the site’s traffic stats are impressive. With more than 10 million unique visitors, the average visitor spends 88.3 minutes on the site, putting it behind only Facebook and Tumblr. While most social networking sites, such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, have more visitors, they fall behind Pinterest in time spent.

*Image from Jan. 29 article on Mashable.com

Not sure Pinterest is for you? Here is something else to consider: In January, Pinterest drove more traffic than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined, according to a recent article on Mashable.com. It’s hard to ignore the numbers.

Whether Pinterest or Google+ is for you, it will be interesting to see how everything unfolds this year in the social media realm with these new players.

And as always, feel free to give us a call to learn more about how these and other social networking sites can complement your public relations strategy.

Christina Morton is an account executive specializing in social media at CBR.

Ringing in the New Year at CBR

CBR staffers have a little extra pep in our step. Why, you might ask? Well, let’s just say Santa was really good to us. Not only is CBR the public relations agency of record for two more national accounts, but our role is expanding with a NYSE-traded national account we’ve been privileged to serve for nearly two decades. And the year has barely begun!

Now, we don’t like to brag, but we just had to share. 2012 is starting off right for us and we hope for all of you. Despite continued economic uncertainties, we are optimistic that 2012 is going to be a stellar year for the industry and for our wonderful clients. Cheers!

Christina Morton is an account executive specializing in social media at CBR.

Landing a Job in Public Relations: It Takes More Than an Internship

Someone once told me that, to get a job in public relations, you need to have an internship. But to get an internship, you must have experience. It’s a Catch-22. So, how did I overcome it, and how can you? Let me tell you…

On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of speaking with some PR students from Rollins College at the annual professional networking roundtable hosted by Communiqué, a student chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA).

(Pop Quiz: Do you know which university CBR CEO Lori C. Booker graduated from? You guessed it! Rollins. Lori was the first person to graduate from Rollins with a degree in PR.)

There are a few nuggets of information I want to share with you and ones that I hope the students walked away with Tuesday. I think you’ll find some of these apply to the PR professional as well as the student.

  • Get involved. Orlando is unique in that the area has two, strong public relations organizations – FPRA Orlando and PRSA Orlando. There are a wealth of resources right at your fingertips – whether a student or PR pro looking for a job. My point to you is to get involved and then get involved at a higher level. Yes, it’s great to be a member, and it does look good on a resume, but I guarantee you will find more benefit in actually getting involved on a board or committee. Don’t have time? Offer to write a press release for your church or a school organization. It’s only a couple hours of your time and will be something to put in your portfolio. I think this especially applies to those who may have already graduated but have not found a job yet. Volunteering will help keep your skills up and show a potential employer dedication and commitment to your profession.
  • Be passionate.  Love what you do because if you don’t, it will reflect in your work. If you’re passionate about your job, clients will feel it and so will reporters. I have heard reporters say that if a PR pro comes to them with a story idea that they are genuinely passionate about, the reporter is more likely to listen and write a story.
  • Enjoy college. Now, this doesn’t mean you don’t have to hit the books, but it does mean don’t stress about the little things (i.e. getting your G.P.A. up from a 3.8 to a 3.9.). Grades are important, but potential employers will be looking for more than just your G.P.A. Enough said.

So, how did I get the experience needed to get an internship to get a job? I got involved with the PRSA student chapter at the University of Florida, and the rest, as they say, is history.

It truly was an honor to sit next to some of my fellow PR pros and speak with the students about their future careers. If you want to learn more about a possible internship or job with CBR, visit our Careers page.

Christina Morton is an account executive specializing in social media at CBR.

The Chi of Jobs

The death earlier this month of Steve Jobs, one of the world’s  most beloved and iconic corporate CEOs, brought to mind a number of lessons and questions for those of us in public relations.

The first for me was, how did Jobs manage to keep his private life private despite being one of the most well-known and influential manipulators of 21st Century society and culture?

It is difficult to overstate just how much Jobs changed the world. Simply put, the technology he and Apple created rewired the way the world communicates. Yet few details of his private side, from his family life to how he managed the disease that ultimately took his life, were known. He was the gatekeeper of those details, and he protected them vigorously. Part of the answer may be in how Jobs meted out those few precious glimpses into the man behind image.

When Jobs did provide a peak into his personality and psyche, he did so in an artfully choreographed way. Just as he successfully branded Apple as a technological innovator and upstart (despite being one of the world’s largest companies), Jobs branded himself as the benevolent Zen master who not only gave the masses what they wanted, but also told them what they wanted.

The image of Jobs for most people is that of a supremely confident showman on stage, wearing jeans and a mock turtleneck, introducing the world to another must-have technological marvel from Apple.

It is amazing, almost shocking, that in an era when celebrity media and paparazzi are quick to find and exploit the human foibles of everyone from Michael Jackson to Sarah Palin, Jobs’ image remains pristine and deserving of adoration.

For example, Twitter was abuzz with everything Jobsian in the hours and days after his death. Among those tweets were blunt warnings from media members that any story pitch related to Jobs’ death would bring immediate scorn and rejection for any hapless flack who dared to try it.

Here’s another. The publishers of The New Yorker already are being criticized for the magazine’s Oct. 17 cover illustration. Defenders of the Jobs aura say they are offended by the image of Jobs, a Buddhist, being greeted at the pearly gates by an iPad-wielding St. Peter.

So when will it be safe to talk about Jobs in a story pitch without appearing ghoulish?

There are plenty of legitimate pitches out there, from succession management (how does a company continue when an iconic leader dies?) to the erosion Americans’ view of CEOs (what exempted Jobs from being cast as another overpaid corporate honcho?).

There is no simple answer. Just when it will be safe to pitch Mr. Jobs may be determined more by the news cycle — when another high-profile celebrity death or scandal occurs — than a particular period of time for respectful mourning.

In the end, it may be best to simply sit back and admire the legacy left behind by Jobs, a college dropout who demonstrated a genius not just for technology, but also marketing, branding and public opinion.

Robert Perez is a senior account executive at CBR. 

The Other Side to Orlando

Oct. 15-18, Orlando will welcome the largest gathering of public relations professionals in the world at the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) 2011 International Conference. Now, I know when most people think of Orlando, thoughts of roller coasters and  character meet-and-greets dance in their head. But there’s another great side to Orlando, and I’d like to share with you  what mostly only locals know.

A few miles east of the theme parks down Interstate 4 is Downtown Orlando (client). And what better way to kick back and relax than in the DTO.

After a long day at the conference, I’m sure you will have worked up an appetite, and you won’t want to miss some of the fine food Downtown has to offer. From Irish pubs to upscale restaurants, there’s a wide variety to appease any appetite. Hungry yet?

Under the bright city lights is when you really can feel the pulse of Downtown. Historic Church Street and Wall Street Plaza are home to a number of great spots, but there also are other top entertainment spots, including dueling pianos, a comedy club and theaters, to fit any mood. And, with Halloween fast approaching, check out Downtown’s Ghost Tour for some real spooky encounters. There’s even a Haunted Pub Tour. Think you can handle a drink with the paranormal? I’m already starting to feel the chills. Let’s move on…

Photo Credit: Orlando Downtown Development Board

Unlike many downtowns, don’t worry about parking here. Covered and surface lots are easy to find and conveniently located just a few steps from Downtown’s hottest spots. There’s even a parking app called Orlando parkIN’. (Download it in the iTunes or Android store.)

If you’re here before or after the conference, the DTO is just as fun during the day as it is at night. Check out the Lake Eola Farmer’s Market on Sunday or get your tickets to Sugarland’s concert on Oct. 20 and experience the state-of-the-art Amway Center. Maybe you’d like to indulge your senses at A Taste of Thornton Park or explore your creative side at the Third Thursday Gallery Hop, also Oct. 20. It’s OK. You can do that, too.

Want some laughs? Check out SAK Comedy Lab. Tired yet? There’s much more to do!

In the center of Downtown is the iconic Lake Eola Fountain at Lake Eola Park. Did you know you can rent swan-shaped paddle boats? The fountain recently underwent a major renovation and now, when the sun goes down, the majestic fountain lights up and music can be heard throughout the park.

Photo Credit: Orlando Downtown Development Board

What’s more, you can get a great view of Lake Eola and all of Downtown with a skyline tour. This takes you up 16 stories to the top of The Plaza and provides a 360-degree, bird’s-eye view.

It’s all right here in the DTO.

I could go on and on. There’s just so much to see and do. But, let me leave you with this: You won’t experience Orlando unless you go to the DTO.

Christina Morton is an account executive specializing in social media at CBR.

Get off the sidelines

Local media mentioned a statistic today that has me riled. Instead of getting the help they need, those asking for a handout are being tossed in jail. At last count, more than 230 panhandlers were arrested in just one Central Florida community during the past six months. It’s a vicious cycle of jailing people in need instead of helping them get back on their feet.

It’s also a matter of compassion and community.

Many panhandlers (though admittedly not all) are homeless or on the brink of living on the streets and are simply trying to come up with a few dollars to provide for their families and put shelter over their heads for the night. Homelessness is at epidemic levels in Central Florida. In Seminole County alone, the most affluent county in Central Florida, nearly 1,800 students are homeless, forced to live in cars, hotels or worse while trying to stay focused on their studies. That’s unacceptable, and the number continues to grow. Supporting our fellow citizens vs. simply tossing them behind bars is not only the right thing to do toward encouraging self sufficiency, it also costs taxpayers substantially less.

According to the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, it costs $925 per homeless arrest for processing, $90 per night and $250-$300 for court cost/fines. And that’s just the beginning. According to Seminole Behavioral Healthcare (client), a local mental-health organization, caring for an individual with a potentially life-threatening mental illness costs as much as $150,000 a year in a state hospital and $50,000 in a jail. In contrast, providing care through a crisis stabilization unit like the one run by Seminole Behavioral and others costs $28,000 a year.

Want to help? Get involved. Volunteer at a local shelter or organization, or through your place of worship. Collect canned goods for local food pantries (check out SCPS’ Families in Transition’s website for sites in Seminole). Write a check or donate a gift card for groceries and clothing. DON’T simply pass by the woman or man holding a sign asking for help. Central Florida organizations are working hard to find a permanent solution to homelessness, through communitywide efforts such as the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness and Seminole County’s new Community Conversation on Homelessness.

Get involved.

John Babinchak II is vice president at CBR.

Remembering 9/11 as an employer, consultant . . . and as a mother

Last night, I watched several television news anchors try to describe what it was like to be live on the air when the second plane hit the World Trade Center. They each sifted through their memories with the facial expressions of victims recalling a crime. They described how their minds fought to process the events as they unfolded and how there was no frame of reference to tie it all together and make words come out – words which didn’t reflect their inner turmoil and dawning terror. Handling media and public relations for clients in Orlando and beyond,  I’ve stood countless times before news cameras. I know what it’s like to suddenly have your words fail on live television or radio. But I doubt I will ever feel the weight these journalists felt trying to make sense of something so outside the realm of our then reality.

Like most people, my eyes were glued to the television that morning, horrifically mesmerized by the repetitive images. The skyscraper burning. People leaping for their lives. Another plane strikes the towers. Then something else hit:  the realization that I needed to respond to the roles in my life:  employer, consultant, mother.

I gathered CBR’s employees around the conference room table. People of various faiths joined hands and our agency vice president led us in prayer for the victims, for our country and for our families. We had never prayed together before, and I glanced around the table to make sure everyone was comfortable with this.  We were all in unchartered waters that day. Prayer did help. We caught our breath and talked next steps.

First, we reached out via email to our fellow IPREX partners around the world. If this was the beginning of a war, how many of my colleagues would be impacted? If I sent the staff home, was it more dangerous on the streets? Reasonably assuming that Maitland, Florida, was probably not on the top ten list of targets, we then offered our assistance to our 60 fellow firms on six continents. We offered to handle forwarded phone calls and emails, draft press releases, serve as a check-in office for their employees, to assist in any way we can. We thought about our friends at Makovsky & Company, our IPREX partner with offices in Manhattan. We prayed for a client with offices in the second tower.

Then we thought about ourselves.

Calls to spouses and children lit up the outgoing phone lines. I jumped in my car and dashed off to my daughter’s high school across town while my husband sped to our twins’ preschool, only to be met at the door by a team of heavily armed police officers in flak jackets. Yes, the war had touched down in our small hometown. Attacks by unknown forces required that Maitland’s finest immediately protect the building where our children attended preschool:  the Jewish Community Center.

I found the halls and classrooms at Trinity Preparatory School to be eerily empty and quiet. I tried to calm myself as I searched for my 13-year-old daughter. Nearly out of breath, I finally found all of the students and faculty in a packed auditorium with the headmaster, alone on stage talking in a calming voice. Frantically trying to locate Christi in the crowd, my eyes set upon a slightly built small boy, probably a sixth grader, wearing a silk white yarmulke. On the other side of the auditorium was an older child wearing a white, cotton turban. The school represented a cross-section of the diversity of our community.

The lone voice of reason from the stage was saying things like, “What happens today, right now, defines our school. We don’t know who was responsible, but we know it was not the people in this auditorium. We are Trinity Prep. We are this school, this community. Do not make rash accusations and speak from hate or we are no better than the people who hurt our country today. We are better than that.  We are still the people we were yesterday. We must join together and remember who we are and stand together as our nation and our school deals with this tragedy.”

The scene was eerily familiar. It reminded me of that poignant scene in the old Charlie Brown Christmas show, with Linus standing under a single spotlight on an empty stage reading from the book of Luke. It was that quiet. That moving.

Until I noticed that the same little boy’s shoulders had begun to shake as he sobbed. Sniffles erupted throughout the auditorium. Teachers tried to hide their own tears as they forced assuring smiles to the students who looked to them for strength.

And there was Christi, who seemed to sense that I was nearby. She turned to the back of the auditorium and all was right with her world, and mine, for one brief moment that only a look between mother and daughter can bring.

Lori C. Booker, APR, is founder and CEO of CBR and is a respected media commentator.

Orlando internship to new hire

CBR Public Relations offers paid internships for college credit and I should know – I was a summer intern at CBR in 2009. Obviously, I’m not writing this as a current intern, but as a full-time employee. So, how can you make the transition from intern to hire? Here are a few tips to get you started.

  1. Put a smile on your face. OK, I know this sounds cliché. But employers want to know you have a good attitude, show enthusiasm for your new position and most importantly, show a willingness to learn. If you’re constantly looking at the clock, making comments about how long the day has been or complaining about not getting the “fun” assignments, you might as well keep your desk as plain as it was when you arrived. Throughout your internship maintain a positive outlook and use the time as a learning opportunity.
  2. Showcase your strengths. The public relations industry is constantly evolving and as professionals, we tend to take on new responsibilities as the client needs them. Tell your new employer how proficient you are in design programs or how much you enjoy – well, you fill in the blank. This could be your opportunity to bring something new to the company and most importantly, to the client.
  3. Be professional. You are now representing the company you work for. As an intern, you will be asked to join client meetings, listen to conference calls and actively participate in staff meetings, but you might also be given some not so glamorous assignments. Treat each task as a learning opportunity and a chance to show your employer how well you handle yourself in any situation. Believe me – it will pay off in the end.

While these are only a few tips to help put you ahead, they don’t necessarily guarantee a full-time position. There are a million factors that come into play and you should be prepared for any of them – good or bad. My advice would be to make each day count. Show your new employer how well you complement his or her company. It might count for more than you realize at the time.

If you would like more information about CBR Public Relations’ internship program, please visit our website or send your resume and two writing samples to interns@CBRpr.com.

Brittany Hobbs, Business Development, CBR Public Relations

CBR wins Statewide award for PR excellence

CBR Public Relations is proud to announce its most recent honor – the 2011 Award of Distinction in Public Affairs, presented this week at the FPRA Golden Image Awards in Naples. The FPRA Golden Image Awards is a statewide competition recognizing outstanding public relations programs throughout the state.

The honor is the second for this particular grassroots campaign. CBR received an Image Award earlier this year from FPRA’s Orlando-area chapter.

CBR salutes its team of professionals for continuing to raise the bar and exceeding clients’ expectations. For more information about CBR, please visit our website or check us out on Facebook and Twitter.