In a world where talent shows are a dime a dozen, there’s one stand-out: NBC’s The Voice. Last week, the show’s Season 10 premiere drew 13.24 million viewers, winning the night with more than 5 million more viewers than ABC’s The Bachelor, which aired during the same time slot. So, what are the keys to the show’s staggering success, and how can we equivalate them in PR terms?
Content is King.
As PR professionals, we live by the mantra “content is king,” a saying whose truth cannot be overstated. The Voice has made some careful and intentional choices when it comes to content in order to produce a high-quality show that will make viewers want to return week after week. First of all, the show holds “blind” auditions. If you’re unfamiliar with the format of the show, the judges sit with their backs to the stage in order to eliminate any bias based on gender, race, age, appearance, or any factor that might distract from a contestant’s talent. Another content choice is the decision to pre-screen all contestants beforehand to ensure that only truly talented individuals audition in front of the celebrity judges. This approach differs from other talent shows (cough Idol cough) that profit from subjecting sub-par talent to embarrassment at the hands of merciless judges. The Voice rises above this “click-bait” type of content and in doing so, cultivates a spirit of profound sincerity. Ultimately, your content is a reflection of your brand, so follow The Voice’s lead and deliver content that is high-quality, intentional and worthy.
The Voice also understands the importance of timeliness, especially in conjunction with social media. During the blind auditions, the celebrity judges post “live” tweets from their personal accounts in response to the auditions. This tactic is especially interesting (and brilliant) when you consider the fact that the auditions are pre-recorded, so the tweets are not truly “live.” The tweets are crafted perfectly to capture each judge’s unique voice and are scheduled just right so that they post intermittently as the show airs, giving the illusion that the show is happening in real-time and the judges are experiencing it alongside the viewers. See this tweet from Xtina in response to landing an artist, or this tweet from Adam showcasing his (well-crafted) bromance with Blake. We know the tweets aren’t truly live––the show is pre-recorded, after all! But they still feel so relevant. Brands should take note: always be timely and opportunistic on social media! Followers love to see a brand that is in-tune with cultural happenings.
Relationships are Everything.
The foundation of The Voice is relationships. The judges’ witty banter among themselves and their interactions with the contestants make the viewers feel privy to a network of intimate friends. By mid-season, each team even starts to feel like its own family unit. Seeing celebrities and television stars interact this way reminds us that (gasp!) they’re just like us! The Voice also brings contestants back from past seasons, and the judges always seem to genuinely remember them. Whether they’re tipped off or not, it’s a nice touch to suggest that a celebrity like Adam Levine would remember your 90-second performance from 3 years ago. They really do care! Brands should channel this type of engagement with customers and followers in order to build lasting relationships.
Surprise & Delight: Create Wow Moments.
This season, the show has really upped the ante in terms of wow moments. The judges have pulled out all the stops to move, melt and shock the contestants and viewers. It began with a tame, unexpected gesture of support as Pharrell ran on stage and hugged a young hopeful (aww!). Then, Adam Levine stepped it up and fulfilled everyone’s 2002 fantasy by singing an impromptu duet of “She Will Be Loved” with a kindred spirit (swoon!). Later, things got shockingly heated when Christina Aguilera kissed a contestant (whaaaaat?!). If Week 1 is indicative of the rest of Season 10, we’re in for a wild ride. These moments do more than surprise and delight us as viewers; they serve as fodder for social media buzz, articles, word-of-mouth sharing and more––all of which help to build the brand and maintain its relevance.
Never Underestimate the Value of Storytelling.
In PR, we’re in the business of storytelling. Like PR professionals, the Voice has learned to capitalize on a good story, knowing that people truly connect with the show through hearing the contestants’ backgrounds. We, as viewers, can relate to the angst of a small town teen, the grief of a recent widow, the hope of a hungry artist. The show does a great job highlighting the most compelling stories, and if you only cry once an episode, you’re doing better than me. At the end of the day, The Voice understands that the human experience is a shared one, and people like to get behind people. So, what’s your brand’s story?
Anyone who watches The Voice knows that its two night per week schedule is a huge commitment, but now we don’t have to feel guilty about those mind-numbing hours of TV time because they are professionally enriching 😉 Feel free to weigh in: what’s your favorite show, and how can we as PR professionals learn from its success?
This is a guest post by Molly White who is currently apprenticing at See.Spark.Go.
October 12, 2015
posted by: hannahkersh | Comments 0 »
Since 2009, our team has had the incredible privilege of uncovering and celebrating some of the country’s most inspiring stories through Mutual of Omaha’s Aha Moment Tour. Collectively, the tour has captured almost 6,000 moments in six years from people in cities all across the United States. More than 50 national television commercials have been produced and aired since the campaign’s inception.
Last week, Mutual of Omaha, proud sponsor of life’s aha momentsSM, announced the top 10 aha moments from individuals who participated in the Aha Moment Tour this summer. From these 10 aha moments, one will become a national television commercial for Mutual of Omaha.
The favorite aha moment will be selected through a combination of Mutual of Omaha’s panel of judges and an online vote at www.facebook.com/myahamoment. Voting began Oct. 5, and will end on Oct. 16. The chosen commercial will be announced on Oct. 20 and it will be included in Mutual of Omaha’s broadcast advertising campaign.
“Life changes are all about possibilities,” said Andrew Rouillard, Vice President of Brand Management and Advertising at Mutual of Omaha. “We heard stories from a variety of spheres of influence this year and could not be more pleased to share these moments with the world. Anything is possible when you pursue your dreams and take steps towards a more fulfilling life.”
The top 10 aha moments that you can now vote for are as follows. We wish they could all become the final moment!
Phoenix, Ariz.: Carrie
Carrie’s aha moment connected her passion with her purpose and she now leads an after-school organization empowering young girls across the country to be friends, leaders and Supergirls.
Jackson, Miss.: Kristy
Kristy works with individuals ages 17-22 to help them transition into adulthood. One of Kristy’s favorite stories is helping a young woman leave a situation of domestic violence. This victory led to the moment she realized she has the power to make a difference.
Birmingham, Ala.: Missy
Missy’s aha moment happened when she encountered an adult at the Literacy Council whose life was changed by learning to read. Now, she works to inspire others every day.
Chattanooga, Tenn.: Melissa
In providing fresh produce to needy senior citizens at a local food bank, Melissa has seen that hunger is a severe problem in the United States, and is inspired to do something about it.
Savannah, Ga.: Iris
Iris is the founder of a nonprofit organization called Girls on the Run, a character building after school program that empowers girls through fitness. Fitness and athletics changed Iris’ life, and she now encourages girls to do things they never believed they could. She even completed an Ironman!
Lynchburg, Va.: Bubba
Now 28 years old, Bubba has lost 294 pounds and is in the best shape of his life. His new life and mobility provide him with opportunities to have adventures every day, and Bubba now encourages others to make healthy life choices.
Harrisburg, Pa.: Lance
After losing his daughter, Lance was inspired to honor her memory. This led to the founding of the Purple Feet Foundation, which connects kids with adults who can help them explore the possibilities their futures hold.
Des Moines, Iowa: Donna
Donna was inspired to make an unlikely friend in honor of her friend’s passing away. In befriending someone who she never thought she would, Donna has learned that finding common ground with another individual affords productive dialogue about painful and emotional topics.
Portland, Ore.: Alex
After losing his father, Alex realized life is short. He left his corporate job at an investment firm, moved to Ecuador, met his wife, started an organic farm and now works for a nonprofit organization focused on conservation.
Santa Cruz, Calif.: Apollo
From being a homeless teenager and rising up to be a successful author, music artist, and reality show star, Apollo is now passionate about helping young people get through difficult situations by facilitating social and emotional learning workshops all over the country.
The 10 individuals featured in the vote are encouraged to strategically share his or her video using social networking sites and prompt others to vote for them.
The 2015 tour began on May 4 in Irvine, Calif., and journeyed to 20 cities across the country before wrapping in Santa Cruz, California, on Aug. 7. At every stop, people lined up to share their personal aha moments in a 34’ Airstream trailer custom designed as a mobile television studio. Nearly 1,000 aha moments were recorded along this year’s Tour. All of the interviews can be viewed at http://www.mutualofomaha.com/aha.
Don’t forget to click here to view their stories and cast your vote! Who would you like to see on TV?
The benefits of a public relations strategy coupled with a devoted team to execute said strategy sometimes go unnoticed. Maybe it is a lack of knowledge about what public relations actually is within the general public or perhaps it is just that the benefits are not always tangible.
Regardless, it is highly argued that public relations is perhaps the most important and most cost-effective way to reach a targeted audience. (See here.)
There are times when an organization is bombarded with sales calls after a story runs or a TV segment airs — a huge public relations win! Often, the benefits go far beyond dollar signs as the ultimate goal is to translate awareness to action in the minds of consumers. We tell great stories about great companies because we believe that stories heard are hearts and minds activated to respond.
Whether your audience is consumers of technology, potential donors to a summer camp for families battling childhood cancer, parents of children in elementary school, or anyone with an aha moment, your story deserves to be told in a compelling way. Here are three ways an effective public relations strategy and team can benefit you:
1. Public relations is proactive.
A strong PR team ensures quality and consistent communications of who you are and what you do. We help you tell your story to the right media at the right time. Proactive media outreach is critical to getting in front of trends, conversations and the ever-pumping news cycle each day. What makes you newsworthy? PR helps define that and spreads the word.
2. Your public relations team is your biggest advocate.
As public relations professionals, when we tell your story, our gain is not the end-goal. An effective public relations strategy will always start and end with you, the client, in mind. What are your goals? Where do you see your organization in five years? What is the pulse or heartbeat of your company? We want to see our team become an extension of yours, pursuing vision together through content development, media relations, storytelling and social media.
3. Public relations is comprehensive and creative in connecting with your audience.
When your story is told to the right audience in a way that reflects brand values and connects with people at an emotional level, a response happens. Individuals become invested in your organization because they begin to grasp who you are in the context of what you do. Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”
In todays constantly changing and ever integrating media landscape, it takes an expert to craft, share and creatively coordinate effective ways to connect with your target audience. We are always excited to survey your organization, your industry, your competitors and the media and find out those trigger points of connection and meaning. When stories arise, when a new audience needs to be reached or when a big announcement needs to be made, PR is there for you. A team of dedicated, inspired, energetic go-getters like ours? Even better.
How has your organization benefitted from public relations? Or, if you have never implemented a strategy, what would you hope to gain from it?
January 16, 2015
posted by: Brittany Thoms | Comments 0 »
Our SSG team loves to share stories. More importantly, our team loves to share stories that matter— and social media makes it that much easier to spread the word. 2014 saw its fair share of viral stories and an increase in both individuals and brands using social media as an outlet to do good and make a difference, by sharing stories that matter.
Here are some of our favorite picks for “do good” social media movements from 2014.
ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
If you didn’t personally pour a bucket of ice water on your head this year, then you saw and heard about friends, family members, celebrities and brands that did just that by participating in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The viral story of the summer encouraged people to dump water on themselves, film and share it via social media to raise money and awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, the progressive neurodegenerative condition often known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was so successful because it not only got people talking, but it provoked action—according to the ALS Association, the campaign has received $115 million in donations since July 29, 2014.
Image from ALS Association: http://www.alsa.org/fight-als/ice-bucket-challenge.html
Chevrolet and Chevrolet dealerships have supported the American Cancer Society for This year, Chevrolet partnered with the American Cancer Society to raise awareness for World Cancer Day and support cancer survivors. Chevy turned to social media, asking users to #PurpleYourProfile by tinting social media profile pictures purple. For every purple photo, Chevrolet would donate $1 up to $1 million — a goal that was met within weeks and sparked conversation about cancer awareness.
Image from: http://www.purpleyourprofile.com/
Global Be(er) Responsible Day — #FriendsAreWaiting
Budweiser is no stranger to creating influential and heartwarming ads (i.e. Superbowl commercial showing the heartwarming tale of a puppy and one of the brand’s iconic Clydesdale horses.) In September, the brand produced a digital video as a PSA against driving as part of its “Global Be(er) Responsible” day, encouraging conversations about responsible behavior.
Founded in in 2003 to raise funds for and awareness of men’s health issues like prostate cancer, Movember has grown to be a phenomenal yearly campaign. Every November, men around the world grow a mustache, engage in conversations about men’s health, and take action to get checked out at the doctor. The global Movember campaign is driven primarily by social media, and by initiating humor and camaraderie, has largely turned social interactions into physical actions.
Image from: http://us.movember.com/
5. #KnowWhoGrows: This year at SSG, we joined the international Movember movement by partnering with THRIVE Farmers Coffee to bring hope for a longer, better future through men’s health advocacy in farming communities. With the hashtag #KnowWhoGrows, we shared videos and updates dedicated to changing men’s health statistics for the better.
We believe these social media campaigns work because they are more than that—-they are movements that inspire conversation and action alike. Looking forward to 2015, how can you join a “do good” movement? How will you use social media to share stories that matter?
Today’s post written by Catherine Gebhardt, apprentice
March 20, 2012
posted by: Brittany Thoms | Comments 1 »
Please give a warm See.Spark.Go welcome to our newest team member, Nicole Foo! We are thrilled to have her join our team and we think you will love her as much as we do! She’ll be heading up several PR projects here at SSG, and we can’t wait to see her tear it up! As an accomplished publicist, Nicole understands the value of PR for clients and is able to navigate the media landscape, leveraging the great stories that we have the opportunity to share!
We asked her to give you a glimpse into her first week at SSG and a little background on herself. So, without further adieu, here’s Nicole!
Hello, all! Where do I even begin? I am so excited to be a part of the See.Spark.Go family and am looking forward to what’s in store for the team.
A little bit about me – my name is Nicole Foo and I am from Marietta, Georgia. I graduated from UGA in May 2011 with a major in public relations and minors in Spanish and Chinese language and literature (Go Dawgs!). I recently worked at Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau before starting at See.Spark.Go.
I had a great first week and I absolutely love it here! The office was a little quiet with interns on spring break and Lauren off on her honeymoon. Still, it was a really great opportunity to get a thorough overview of our clients. I participated in a few client conference calls, sat in on a company pitch, contributed to a creative brainstorming session, and visited a client site. Phew – all in one week!
The See.Spark.Go team is incredibly talented and so hard working; I know I will learn a lot from everyone around me. It is great to be surrounded by such a positive environment with people who are willing to work hard for their clients. I know that I will do the same!
Some fun facts about me:
- I speak three languages – English, Mandarin and Spanish. I’m working on French now (thank you, Rosetta Stone!).
- I studied abroad in Oxford, England, in the spring of 2010. It was the best academic experience of my college career.
- I was born in Singapore.
- Other things that make me happy: traveling, hiking, scarves, greeting cards, Scrabble, cardigans and Walt Disney World.
I am proud to be the newest member of the See.Spark.Go team and look forward to keeping you updated on things that are happening here…any maybe sharing your story one day soon!
Follow me on my blog or on Twitter.
Many of you may not realize that our name is our process. See.Spark.Go is more than just a catchy name or a logo, it’s the steps we use to seek out, create and execute meaningful and impactful public relations and social media campaigns. Our process begins and ends with you (the client) in mind as we see, spark and go, ultimately telling great stories about great companies.
So, why is knowing the process important? As we begin any journey, in life, as in PR, it’s important to have a roadmap.
We start by defining the “win”. Seeing is all about understanding, getting a lay of the land, knowing the competition, etc. Spark is the fun part. It’s where we get to create an engaging campaign that highlights your story in a tangible and creative way. And “Go” is the storytelling aspect. Whether it’s simply a newsworthy story we’re sharing with the media or an integrated campaign that involves our partners in advertising/event execution and our sweet spot of social media and PR, the “Go” is where the magic happens.
In brainstorming sessions, we navigate through each aspect of communication within the organization to discover how we can come be an extension of your team. Think of us as another set of eyes seeing through the lens of communication and asking questions like, “What do we want people to hear?” and “What channels should we use to reach the right audience?”
Remember, you’ve got the story to tell; we know how to tell it. Whether you’re seeking to get your name in front of influential media or to create an online community, we’re your team.
As we like to say, those three little words know how to pack a punch. We’re passionate about the brands we represent and stories we share. Now all we need is your expertise in your field and for you to say the words, “Let’s See.Spark.Go!”
Which step of “See.Spark.Go” do you need the most? How can we make this process better? Share your thoughts below or Tweet @seesparkgo with your ideas.
February 1, 2012
posted by: Brittany Thoms | Comments 2 »
For those who just so happened to drive by the Georgia Dome during Passion 2012 at the start of the New Year, initially the sight didn’t look too out of the ordinary. The 40,000 people walking around the Georgia Dome at night could have easily passed as Falcons fans, excited about the night’s game. But instead, this gathering was different: it was Passion 2012, where more than 40,000 students between the ages of 18 and 25 came to sing, worship, donate and pray in the name of Jesus. Among those tens of thousands of students, you could find the See.Spark.Go team hosting members of the press there to cover what these life-changing days in the heart of that significant “university moment” that has shaped so many of us.
The four-day gathering sold out the Georgia Dome at 42,000 collegiates, nearly double that of the 2011 gathering held at Philips Arena and the next-door Georgia World Congress Center. Lead worshippers such as Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, Charlie Hall, Kristian Stanfill and Christy Nockels took the stage in music, while world-renowned Christian speakers Beth Moore, John Piper, Francis Chan and Passion founder and visionary Louie Giglio brought powerful messages to the Dome, inspiring attendees to live out their faith and also to “Do Something Now.”
This year’s event was dedicated to the cause of FREEDOM: freedom for the 27 million people around the world currently living in modern-day slavery. Passion’s goal was to raise $1 million for this cause, and the students of Passion far surpassed that goal, reaching a total of $3.3 million before the conference came to an end. The money will go to a variety of organizations that help victims of modern-day slavery find rescue and restoration and work to prevent human slavery all together.
A few of the chosen organizations are Tiny Hands International, A21 Campaign and Wellspring Living. The money donated to Tiny Hands International will build and fund eight border monitoring stations and eight safe homes in Nepal that will help intercept victims as they are being trafficked. Wellspring Living will use the money to renovate 12 apartment homes for survivors of sexual exploitation in Atlanta, Georgia. Finally, the A21 Campaign will fund a year-long prevention program that will reach 48,000 children who are at risk of being trafficked in Ukraine.
Louie Giglio said people had laughed at the thought of poor, Ramen noodle-eating college students donating their petty cash for this abstract cause. But as he announced the second morning that donations had already exceeded $1 million, I was particularly touched. I can admit, as can Louie, that people today have certain preconceived notions about my generation, the college students of today. Many believe we are self-centered and immature, only concerned with our cell phones and ourselves. But the college students at Passion 2012 proved that argument wrong. As this Atlanta news video agrees, “these are kids today.”
As you may guess, Passion 2012 attracted the attention of more than just the pedestrians on Northside Drive. In addition to the 11Alive coverage, and many other articles and blog posts, the CNN Freedom Project took notice and did an international segment regarding the event. Also, the Atlanta Journal Constitution was especially impressed by Passion’s $100,000 donation to the Atlanta Police Department’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection squad here. Overall, Passion 2012 did powerful things in the lives of countless college students and also in the lives of those all over the world…in the name of One powerful Savior of the world, Jesus. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for Passion 2013!
Photos courtesy of Passion
September 26, 2011
posted by: Brittany Thoms | Comments 3 »
It’s that time of year again! The weather has started to cool, Athens is full of red and black and a new semester has begun at UGA. While all this is happening, we’re excited to welcome new interns into the office. This semester kicks off something new in our internship program.
For the first time in See.Spark.Go history, we have three talented interns on our team! We’d like to introduce you to Amy Dodge, Heather Kevern and Libby Wilson, three Grady students with a passion for PR. Each of them brings unique skills and talents to the table and has proven to be a huge asset to our team!
Amy, a senior public relations and Spanish major from Roswell, Ga., has an extensive resume in the communications industry and is the kind of employee who you can count on to get the job done.
Fun Facts about Amy:
- She is originally from the Cape Cod area in Massachusetts and sailed as a child.
- To relax, you can find Amy with a cup of coffee and a magazine.
- She was a collegiate swimmer at University of Richmond for a semester.
- Her PR dream is to work for an international PR agency in Boston.
Heather, a native of Memphis, Tenn., moved to Athens as a freshman in college and has never looked back. Now, Heather is a senior public relations major with a communications studies minor and a certificate in new media. But don’t worry, she still has some Memphis roots in her, as her favorite food is Memphis-style barbeque nachos.
Fun Facts about Heather:
- Her favorite place (other than Athens) is Verona, Italy.
- Her passion is dancing. She’s got some great skills.
- She has an affinity for local coffee shops and farmers markets.
- She has a dream of starting her own Not-Just-for-Profit company that has a business model to support a philanthropic goal.
Libby, from the Golf Cart Capitol of the World (Peachtree City, Ga.), is a fifth year public relations major and speech communication minor who will graduate in December. As she finishes up school, we are thankful she is dedicating some of her time to See.Spark.Go.
Fun Facts about Libby:
- One of her favorite scents is the smell of honeysuckle trees.
- Her favorite food is sushi, which is great, because she works at RuSan’s on the side.
- Her family vacations at her cottage in Northern Michigan on Lake Huron, one of her favorite places.
- She dreams of being a travel writer. What could be better than seeing the world and writing all the time?
As the fall season comes closer, we are already seeing how talented and high-caliber these interns are. We’re thankful for their constant desire to learn and ability to achieve. We can’t wait to see all they accomplish this semester!
In addition to celebrating our fall interns, we are accepting applications for the spring 2012 internship.
To apply for spring 2012, please send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!
April 22, 2010
posted by: Brittany Thoms | Comments 0 »
For the past 3 years, See.Spark.Go has had an incredible internship program that’s attracted some amazing talent (from whom I learn something new every day!). This post belongs to the one and only Mary Catherine Kinney (MCK as we call her, or just plain “Rockstar”). Take it away, MCK!
Mary Catherine the Intern here! It’s a sunny day in the Classic City, but a busy day around the office. We are all a-buzz preparing for Mutual of Omaha’s 2010 Aha Moment Tour in May and busy brainstorming for all of our clients. Brittany just asked me what I’ve learned about PR from See.Spark.Go and I just had to share with you my life as a member of the SSG family!
My experience at See.Spark.Go has given me great insight and experience in the wide and ever-changing field of PR. From pitching client events to crafting press releases, my intern days have been far from the water cooler and copy machine tasks.
As a senior in the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia, I’ve had several years of PR teaching, instruction and knowledge. However, the classroom can never teach what you learn from being in the PR “trenches”. My internship at SSG has given me tangible real-world experience in Public Relations. I recall my first week working for Brittany. We had an event happening in Pismo Beach. There were media alerts to be written, lists to be made and reporters to call.
And I was clueless.
Brittany, however, saw a diamond in the rough. She equipped me with a quick lesson in Cision, Mapquest (Where exactly is Pismo Beach anyway?), and an expertly crafted press release and said those fateful words that led to great growth “Go for it.”
Through my internship, I’ve discovered the basics of writing press releases, developing media lists and building relationships with reporters while gaining clear insight into the real-world of PR that I wouldn’t have learned this anywhere else but at See.Spark.Go. This incredible experience equipped me for any PR job that may come in the future.
I just hope that wherever I land after my internship with See.Spark.Go also celebrates all accomplishments with freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.
Read more from Mary Catherine on her blog and follow her on Twitter!