It’s Time to Rise to the Occasion

Public relations experts agree, now is not the time to be silent. You have something valuable to share. Whether it’s how you are adjusting access to your products or services, finding ways to help a problem, retooling your factory, or in the B2B world, staying accessible to your clients, people are hungry to learn.

It’s also not a time to put off good communications. Sure, you have a lot on your plate right now, but your audiences are looking to you as a resource. The information highway travels at light speed and you need to get in front of any rumors or assumptions that could harm your enterprise.

Here are a few tips we’ve found helpful to communicate both internally and externally in this time of crisis.

Accurate information. Your website and social media should be the best source of accurate information about how you are responding. If someone has a question during this time, they should be able to find the answer directly from you. For example, I may want to know if you are essential or non-essential during the stay-at-home order and does that mean I can’t buy from you right now? Put out a statement. Monitor frequent questions people are asking and address them publicly.

Keep staff up-to-date. Your team should be the first to know about company modifications as you walk through this fluid coronavirus situation together. Speak to them as you would family, be reassuring that you care, and let them know everyone is trying to do the best they can. Be patient, keep them safe, provide resources and updates as they develop. Keep their minds at rest and let them know your contingency plans.

Manage your customers’ expectations. Businesses are trying to find a balance between keeping workers safe and delivering what customers want. Tell them how the process has changed. Transparency goes a long way. As a customer, I want to know when my purchase will arrive! Think ahead and be prepared to answer questions like:

  • What steps is your company taking to protect employees?
  • What will happen if one of your employees contracts the virus?
  • Will there be any product supply shortages?

Don’t miss an opportunity. The media wants content. They want your story of how you are responding to this challenge in a positive way. Now is the time to send a pitch with a picture. In case you’re thinking this is about profiteering, it’s really not. The motivation is about showing your values and being a good corporate citizen.

Pivot away from hard-sell messages. Shift your media messages away from selling and talk to people. You be the gauge of when it’s time for consoling and when it’s time for laughter. Post a calming photo or a nice song. Be human. Be extra sensitive.

You can listen to the landscape by following these keywords: your brand name, coronavirus, COVID-19, Covid19, Corona Virus.

Or hashtags:
#yourbrandname, #coronavirus, #covid19, #CoronavirusOutbreak, #covid2019, #Coronavid19, #flattenthecurve, #socialdistancing, #coronapocalypse, #QuarantineAndChill, #coronavirususa, #HighRiskCovid19, #coronavirusupdates, #stayhomesavelives, #StayHome, #Handwashing, #SafeHands, #HandWashChallenge, #WashYourHands, #coronaviruspandemic and #slowthespread.

Let us know how we can be helpful to you!

Do you have a Google business listing?

Google released some guidelines for businesses affected by COVID-19. Updating your Google My Business profile will provide the latest information to your customers on Google Search and Maps.

Office ear candy

If you are working from home and miss the sounds of the office hustle and bustle, enjoy these YouTube videos of ambient noise:

Employ New Digital Marketing Tools This Year

When the year (or the decade!) turns, it’s a good time for reflection and assessment. We want to share a 10-point list of innovations that were only dreams five to ten years ago. Our techies at VIA Marketing are creating new tools and using the latest technologies to help companies like yours control brand identity, manage inquiries, and tell stories in new and exciting ways. Envision what these marketing tools could do for your business this year:

  1. Brochure Generator
    Imagine a library of flyers and brochures held on your website server, beautifully branded with your logo, color scheme, contact info, and a strong call to action. It’s happening right now, here in NWI. Use your library to promote your products and services by easily creating and updating content with the click of a button. We can set up your custom generator so you can easily share new information with your customers, any time you want.
  2. Email Signature Generator
    You may have many employees to keep track of, and in order to make sure all of their email signatures are consistent, we created our own easy-to-incorporate email signature generator.
  3. Custom Contact Forms Feeding to a Database
    As you may know, this really isn’t that new, but the popularity is growing because more people understand and love the convenience of Google Drive. We are able to load data from website contact forms onto Google Sheets held on the cloud. The files are easily exported into MailChimp, Salesforce, or your own CRM. It’s a true game-changer.
  4. Drone Photos
    Drone aerial views tell a bigger story from a fresh perspective. In the past, you had to hire a plane and a photographer. Today, you only need a licensed drone photographer to capture these amazing views. This new affordability opens the door to incorporate drone shots into your story.
  5. Videos
    Did you know YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, right behind Google? Creating video content and hosting, along with buying ads on YouTube, is an excellent way to share, publish, and reach your target audience.
  6. E-Commerce Possibilities for Everyone
    E-Commerce keeps evolving. Technology in the last five years has brought us better pre-packaged shopping cart platforms that make selling online easier than ever and more accessible to smaller businesses. With these user-friendly options, you can follow shoppers online with more and better product advertising.
  7. Google My Business
    It’s always funny that just when you understand how Google works, they change it. The truth is, all of these changes over time have made it much easier for people to find local businesses. If you don’t know about this free tool, give us a call and we will help you set it up.
  8. Next Gen Digital Ad Campaigns
    Did you know the average Facebook user clicks on eight ads per month? Almost every day we read articles about the evolving landscape of digital ads. With search ads, it’s mostly about predictive keywords and writing. With display ads, it’s about new responsive ads and bidding for placements. Big data drives it all.
  9. Advanced Google Analytics
    The tracking data available today is leaps and bounds more insightful than what was available five years ago. One of our favorite features is Google Search Console, which gives greater understanding of how people arrive at your website, sorted by fields like impressions, clicks, and more. The more you know, the better you can target.
  10. Artificial Intelligence and Machine-Learning
    Using data to uncover better marketing insights is well on its way. Audience discovery ads, A/B ad testing, and website experiments are just three examples of machine-learning that will increase your brand effectiveness.

S – E – O or Search Engine Optimization

The art of improving your website’s visibility on the search engine pages is practiced daily at VIA. Just for fun, Google your company name. Yes, right now. If your results are not what you’d like, talk to us about our free, no-pressure digital audit. We’ll take a look at what’s going on and provide a real path to improvement. Remember, voice search is gaining popularity and you’ll want to be ready.

 

Thinking of You Every Day

Choose promo items that will be used every day so people will think of you when they use them. Choose items that are timeless and say something about what you provide. Drinkware remains super-popular. Socks are new to the scene and so much fun. We are here to help if you need ideas.

 

VOTE for VIA!

It just takes a second to make sure your favorite marketing team is included in the 2020 Best of Business Awards!

  • Best ad agency/marketing firm
  • Best graphic/web design firm
  • Best woman-owned business

Websites Designed for All to Enjoy: ADA Guidelines Update

American with Disabilities Act (ADA) was implemented so all people have access to your business without restrictions. In 2018, a revised set of ADA guidelines addressed new technologies and websites. With 1 in 5 Americans disabled and many using some kind of special device, your website should be designed for compatibility and to make their visit enjoyable.

Beyoncé was in the news recently because she is facing a lawsuit from a visually impaired fan after they could not access some of the features on her website, including pictures. Blue Apron was also issued a complaint about accessibility issues. Even small companies can face a fine of $55,000 if your website isn’t ADA compliant. All people should be able to navigate your content and engage with everything.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are the most universally accepted standards and are used by courts and followed by large businesses and government agencies.

ADA Guidelines

Here are our top seven points website owners need to know:

  • All text must be readable by a screen reader. Text should be able to be resized up to 200 percent and flow to fit on digital screens of all sizes.
  • Provide text for images and videos. You must include text attributes for all of your images so they will convert to braille, print, speech and symbols. This is the most common complaint and an easy fix. Just make sure alt tags are added to every image and you’re good. You could also have a text-only website option. The second most common complaint is not having closed captioning. All videos on your website must have closed captioning which you can set up in YouTube.
  • Allow media to be turned off. Any audio or visual media that plays automatically for over 3 seconds, should have a mechanism to turn it off without users muting their computer sound.
  • Seizure-causing content is prohibited. Flashing lights or content with lots of flashing imagery can trigger people with seizure disorders. Content should flash for no more than 3 times per second. Place a warning on content that has potential triggers. There should also be a button to turn off or pause animations, pop-ups, scrolling and blinking.
  • Be consistent with navigation tools. Websites should be perceivable and predictable with the same navigation tools throughout.
  • Help users with explanations and instructions. Whenever your website requires input from users, such as a contact form, you must provide detailed instructions to help someone complete the steps necessary. If someone makes an error, the message that comes up should tell the users in text and audio form what they need to change. For example, you can’t just have the “error” sign come up if someone types their password wrong. Saying “your username or password is incorrect” is acceptable.
  • Your website must be completely accessible by keyboard. Many people rely on the keyboard because they cannot operate a mouse.

Users should be able to use the keyboard to:

  1. Click on a link or button
  2. Select radio buttons or items in a drop-down menu
  3. Navigate the page
  4. Autocomplete text
  5. Close a dialog box
  6. Adjust a slider user interface (UI) element up or down
  7. Scroll the navigation/menu items/the page

We don’t like being alarmists, but we should let you know that in 2018 and so far in 2019, more lawsuits were filed about this than ever before. If you want to know how your website stacks up to the current ADA standards, let us take a look and fix the issues. Contact us today!