How five Charlotte entrepreneurs are using the PPP to tackle business disruption amid Covid-19

Covid-19 hit Corri Smith’s business hard.

Black Wednesday is a marketing and public relations firm. Most of Smith’s clients are in the hospitality, food and beverage industries — all suffering under the pandemic restrictions. Those clients were forced to pull back.

Smith said her revenue was “crushed.” She estimated it dropped by about 70%.

Read the full article here

supportlocalorelse.com

In effort to support local businesses during these trying times, BW owner Corri Smith, thanks to the help of friend Garrett Tichy (Owner of Hygge, check it out), has launched a resourceful website to help support local companies in Charlotte.

supportlocalorelse.com

Charlotte’s small businesses empower the creativity, passion and community that make our city thrive.

But we are facing strange and hard times, and local proprietors, the people who have made an extreme investment in our city in order to create something unique and special for the local population to enjoy, are suffering greatly.

In an effort to support these businesses during these trying times of global health concern and a call for social distancing, we are working to create a network where people can engage local businesses remotely.

Because… without small businesses and the individuality they inspire, what makes our city special?

Do your part. Support local.

Please share this site with any business owners you know, or community members who are interested in supporting local during this time. 

We are in this together.

For businesses looking to promote remote/online support, click here to submit your deal.


To participate on the site ourselves, we are offering 1-hour social media consultations with Corri for $100 (that’s $50 off). 

This over-the-phone SM consultation is a cost-effective opportunity to receive customized care to your burning social media questions. Are you a new brand, wondering how to tell your story over social? Have a campaign you can’t quite finalize, or one you want to launch? Concerned about how to manage social media as a solopreneur? Thinking about getting onto a new platform? Bring these questions to the meeting and we’ll get to as many of them as we can during our time together.

In order to reserve, visit this link to make a deposit and book a time.

Fine Print: Deposits are nonrefundable. This meeting can only be rescheduled up to 1x by the purchaser, after which the deposit and appointment will be forfeited. Must use consultation within 45 days of purchase. If multiple hours are purchased, they cannot be used at the same time and must be used at least 1 week apart. For questions about this offer, please contact info@blackwednesday.co

 

How to Create Quality Social Media Marketing Posts

Social media marketing has grown in popularity and sophistication in recent years. Unfortunately for many small business owners, the rapid changes, combined with a steep learning curve and lack of time to learn the different platforms, have left many struggling to establish and grow a strong social media presence.

What is a small business owner to do? Check out these six tips on how to create quality social media marketing posts that engage followers and help you build a strong following.

Read the full article here

PR Trends For 2019

With the complete world takeover of social media, lots of things have changed, especially Public Relations. As more businesses are in the landscape, marketing has shifted toward storytelling and content has become heavily video-focused, competition is HIGHER THAN HIGH and it’s become that much more important for brands to find the best ways of getting the word out about their product or service. Then you throw in how the environment is changing, cross-globe politics, the capacity to break news with a tweet and it’s like a crazy game that has become indescribably difficult to win.

As we move into a new year, here are some PR trends we think will evolve…

EARNED MEDIA + CREATION OF YOUR OWN NEWS

  • When a credible source talked about your brand, it’s stronger promotion for you than anything you could create on your own. Seeking out 3rd parties to help share your story, and consistent focus on how to create interesting stories for this exact sake is crucial.

SHIFT TO SOCIAL MEDIA

  • Continued transition from traditional media (press releases mass distribution) to more social media-focused campaigns and support. Earned media and the third party credibility it offers is super important, but the capacity to tie programming that engages the community at large can support getting the word out as well.
  • Social listening, the concept of listening instead of just posting. Real-time listening and response times will become detrimental to brands everywhere.

SPONSORED NATIVE CONTENT

  • Sponsored native content in support of PR messaging, that’s to say, utilizing press platforms to publish brand content and leverage their communities in a paid, but still creative, way that gets the info out, but still tells a story. I think buying ads in promotion of press will also see a rise.

DECREASED USE OF MASS DISTRIBUTION SERVICES

  • Decrease use of newswire/mass distribution services and increase of localized PR efforts that have a stronger look and feel. Reaching out with custom pitches is key, and we’d rather get one great story than the same story published to a bunch of random sites that no one will ever see. That’s not to knock mass services, we send out mass as well, we just collect the contacts ourselves to make sure we are distributing to as targeted a group as possible.

LOCALIZED PR TEAMS

  • Use of localized PR/comms teams for local activation. We do PR for some large brands and work tirelessly to turn national/broad campaigns into grassroots efforts that have a local touch and feel (and a face!) that people can better connect with and support.

PERSONIFICATION OF YOUR BRAND

  • We say it all the time, but the best brands are your pals. They are your friends, and in order to be a friend, they have to have a pulse. We think brands will focus on authenticity

We can’t wait to see what this year has in store for our clients and we look forward to growing alongside the changing media landscape!

Community Building For Brands

People (especially younger people) want to show love for the brands they buy from and this can often be executed through engaging with these fave brands on social media: following, reposting, liking, commenting, etc. Many people don’t just want to buy things, they are looking for a sense of community and are very choosy about how they spend their time and money. The best brands are filling voids in their customers’ lives from a product or service standpoint… and strengthening that relationship by also adding additional value to build community. This brand then becomes a friend, trusted resource and recipient of loyalty. That’s where the magic happens, we say: when a brand becomes a trusted pal and further, a mainstay in the buyer’s life.

Building a community is a long game, but creates an authentic connection between brands and people. It allows for a strong qualitative relationship to be built instead of one that is strictly transactional. We see people returning to buy products where they have a special connection with the company all the time. These more meaningful connections yield return visits to restaurants, increased WOM/buzz, and ongoing/recurring sales.

Here are some key ways we’ve found success in building community around brands:

EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE.

  • I went to the opening night of a restaurant and received a not-so-great sandwich. I was cool with it, I knew it was their first night and things can get weird! The manager promptly apologized, fixed the issue and sent me a new sandwich right away. The problem was resolved then and there. 3 days later, I checked the mail to find a gift card from the restaurant inviting me back in for a visit on them. I will definitely go back, not only because I enjoyed my experience that first time, but they demonstrated care for me by going one step further to fix the problem.

STRONG PRESENCE ON SOCIAL MEDIA.

  • Provision of storytelling can add value by offering tips, education, additional insight to the brand that is “free” and tells the buyer that “we are here for you.” Example: Instead of just promoting sales of a scarf, publish an Instagram post with 10 ways to wear it.
  • Use of user-generated content (reposts of user content) turns that brand believer into a FAN FOR LIFE. It tells your customers that you aren’t here just to push your own stuff in their face, the love is reciprocated.
  • Engaging your customers or other brands. Example: Wendy’s Twitter is on fire because all they do is roast McDonald’s (or followers who heckle them). They have crafted a very specific brand voice and write back to people who reply. It’s so brilliant and becomes a conversation topic and stays top of mind so you know where your next burger is coming from.
  • Speak to trending topics when they fit. If there is a theme your brand can easily translate into a relevant post for your users, do it. On Black Friday we made up social posts about why Black Wednesday was better than Black Friday. It was a hit because there were no lines.

PR.

  • Having someone on your team that is ready to address community issues, concerns and messaging can help you do what you do best.
  • Be proactive about programming, anticipating press opportunities and trying to plan ahead with strategy.

EDUCATIONAL BLOG AND EMAIL CONTENT.

  • Sending out additional information and content through email and blog can be a great way to build a community. Throw in some perks and promos along the way to keep your open/click rates high. Again, this “free” value is important because the buyer won’t feel like your sweater is that expensive when they get to hear from you with useful information all the time.

LOYALTY PROGRAMS/EVENTS.

  • Show your fans that you love them. Host events, offer rewards, create programming that consistently thanks them for staying a part of your family. Once they have built up so many rewards, they will continue to seek more and will have so much brand affinity they won’t consider leaving.

Again, this is a more long-term goal and focus, but will serve you down the road. So next time, be more thoughtful about how you proactively plan to engage your customers and how to be more responsive on the back end too! What have you found through trying to build your brand community?

#ITSREALLYMECLT: Amie Kiehn, Astasia Williams and Courtney Rivera

Meet Amie Kiehn, Astasia Williams and Courtney Rivera, Panthers’ Social Media Team.

Meet Amie Kiehn, Astasia Williams and Courtney Rivera, Panthers’ Social Media Team.

Instagram Handle:

@panthers

Twitter Handle:

@panthers

Website:

www.panthers.com

Brand:

Panthers

What’s the purpose of your brand?

Tell the stories of our players and fan base.

How long have you worked with/on your current brand?

1-3 years 

How many people are on your team?

Six

How do you adapt your account to popular/trending themes?

We live on Twitter to constantly see what’s the chatter about. Astasia is a quick on the Twitter draw and has a great eye for what’s taking off so that we can turnaround and execute.

Have you ever made a reply on social media that had to go through multiple approvals? Tell us about it…

Working in partnership with a brand, we try to insure the content that we create and produce is aligned with the overall social vision (Is it fun? Is it on brand? What could the potential push back be? Does this inspire or hype the fans up?)

Tell us about the craziest mention you have ever received or conversation you’ve been pulled into…

What is the post you are most proud of?

What do you wish people knew about your role/account/brand?

We really love talking to our fans (even those who aren’t fans), to let people know we’re paying attention.

Working in sports social means you’re pretty much ALWAYS on. It’s addicting in a really fun way but we both can’t remember the last time we went to the movies or took a vacation where we didn’t have a player trade or something that needed immediate attention. Phones are always charging to make sure we don’t miss a beat. Pretty sure we have like ten USB cords in our bags because dead phones have never caused such anxiety. #AlwaysBeCharging

Whose social media do you admire? (locally or nationally)

Cleveland Browns, Will Smith’s Instagram, All Birds (shoes), Nike, Fenty Beauty, Sephora and the Chicago Bulls. Locally: Camp Northend, Lenny Boy, Fahrenheitclt and Davita Galloway’s Dupp and Swat.

Anything else to share?

Our mission is to have fun on social and we hope fans feel that energy come across. We love when fans comment and reply to tweets or IG posts so keep it up… but know if you’re salty or coming for our QB we will reply 😉

#ItsReallyMeCLT: Black Wednesday

Meet the team behind Black Wednesday

Instagram Handle:

@blackwedco

Twitter Handle:

@blackwedco

Website:

blackwednesday.co

Brand:

Black Wednesday

What’s the purpose of your brand?

We’re designing marketing, social media and PR programming for small to large sized businesses. Our goal is to personify brands and help them connect with their audiences in authentic and engaging ways. 

How long have you worked with/on your current brand?

BW is almost 4 years old

How many people are on your team?

2 of us are committed to social media for BW 

Corri

Evelyn

How do you adapt your account to popular/trending themes?

For BW: BW tends to lean to the more offbeat trends, but we will also engage the social media-related trends as well — think memes, trending tweet formats, etc. We will always make twists to make them dark, mysterious or on-brand. 

For our clients: we spend a lot of time understanding current and target audience to make sure we know what trends to engage and which to stay away from. Depending on the audience and the brand voice, we make quick decisions on how to get into relevant conversations.

Tell us about the craziest mention you have ever received or conversation you’ve been pulled into…

There are so many. From a BW perspective, we LOVE when people send us cute jokes or DMs of goth memes or photos of themselves dressed in black. Wearing black on Wednesdays has become a trend in itself and it makes us SO happy when people think about us! 

What do you wish people knew about Black Wednesday?

I wish people knew the time and effort that is required to manage social media WELL. It’s time consuming, nuanced and very very important. It’s a tough job, with never-ending hours; it requires extreme flexibility, creativity and innovation… OH and most importantly, that there’s a person at the end of those posts. I also wish people knew that what we do goes far beyond “just social media.” We are builders, designers, promoters, and cheerleaders – this comes out in a myriad of ways, not just through social. – Corri 

I wish people knew about the full extent of work we put into making things enjoyable for others. It’s a never ending spinning wheel of research, creativity, and translating both into 100 other pieces that end up being shared with thousands of people. Sometimes ideas don’t work out. Other times, we accidentally create a cult following of people wearing black on Wednesdays. – Evelyn

Whose social media do you admire?

Corri: Apple + Celeste Barber

Evelyn: Glossier + Brittany Bathgate

Anything else to share?

Thank you for following this campaign! We have ONE MORE WEEK and it’s gonna be good.

Make sure we’re connected across all channels:

Facebook 

Twitter

Instagram

#ItsReallyMeCLT: Varian Shrum

Meet Varian Shrum and the team behind Camp North End

Left to right: Kadeeja is one of our Events Interns (her co-intern Zavia missed picture day). They support our jam-packed programming calendar. JL is our Marketing Coordinator and handles logistics for third-party events and photoshoot requests. #teamnodaysoff V (Varian) – that’s me! Community Manager. Alex is our resident Placemaker. He designs and builds all the magical public spaces you like to hang out in. 

Instagram Handle:

@Campnorthend

Twitter Handle:

@Campnorthend

Website:

Camp.nc

Brand:

Camp North End

What’s the purpose of your brand?

We’re redeveloping an industrial site into a hub for creative office and workspace, food and retail, arts and culture, and tons of events and community-building. With 1.3 million square feet of historic warehouses across 75 acres (the equivalent of 14 square block of Uptown), Camp North End is the largest adaptive reuse project in the US.

How long have you worked with/on your current brand?

1-3 years

How many people are on your team?

There are six full time employees in ATCO’s Charlotte office. I am the one staff person specifically dedicated to social media.  

How do you adapt your account to popular/trending themes?

I mostly like to incorporate subtle pop culture references. In my opinion, the best captions are ones that make sense at face value while also nodding at something a narrower audience will appreciate. And if you don’t know, now you know.

Tell us about the craziest mention you have ever received or conversation you’ve been pulled into…

#doitforthegram is my life motto, but guys, don’t walk around on a 94-year-old roof!

What is the post you are most proud of?

What do you wish people knew about your role/account/brand?

For the past two years I’ve built up the brand by highlighting the history of this place and showing you what’s happening at Camp North End today. It’s been a lot of content focused on people working/creating/building, random quirky inspiring things, cool architecture, and information about events. Now that we’re a bit more established and construction is in full swing, I want to show you more of what Camp North End is on track to become in the future. By spring 2019 our first major warehouse renovation will be complete with hundreds of people working in beautiful open office spaces, plus a curated roster of food and retail vendors. There’s five more where that came from and we’ll deliver a new one each year. DM for deets about joining the Camp fam! 

Whose social media do you admire? (locally or nationally)

Locally: Panthers Twitter is an instant classic. Love a good meme burn.

Nationally: I really enjoy the authenticity (and ice cream) of Jeni Britton Bauer’s personal Instagram. The Onion, FloridaMan, The Last Blockbuster, and Awkward Family Photos are my old standbys for insomnia fueled Twitter scrolling. I also follow 14 too many Instagram accounts devoted to house plants.

Anything else to share?

We’re a *little* excited for the upcoming Mistletoe Market on December 1st. Come for the missile puns, stay for the parade of dogs in sweaters.

#ItsReallyMeCLT: Ken Brown

Meet Ken Brown, Strategic Communications Manager for the City of Charlotte

Meet Ken Brown, Strategic Communications Manger for the City of Charlotte.

Instagram Handle:

@cltgov

Twitter Handle:

@CLTgov

Website:

Charlottenc.gov

Brand:

City of Charlotte

What’s the purpose of your brand?

We provide services that improve the quality of life for all Charlotteans.

How long have you worked with/on your current brand?

5+ years 

How many people are on your team?

1

How do you adapt your account to popular/trending themes?

Most trends worth jumping on belong to a culture or subculture, so avoiding appropriation is our top priority. We’ll pass on attempt to capitalize on a moment if there’s a chance that it might come off as offensive, insensitive or tone deaf. When we do jump on, our nods to popular culture are typically low-key. I really enjoy seeing people catch on to our subtle references.

Have you ever made a reply on social media that had to go through multiple approvals? Tell us about it…

ALL. THE. TIME. Much of what we say is attached to major projects, so it’s understandable that the powers that be would want to keep an eye on what we’re saying before it hits the public. During major moments (ex. Sept. 2016 demonstrations and 2012 Democratic National Convention), nearly everything has to be approved. Social media moves fast, but sometimes you have to slow down to get the right approvals when stakes are high.

Tell us about the craziest mention you have ever received or conversation you’ve been pulled into…

A lot of people (including Lady GaGa) mentioned Charlotte instead of Charlottesville in Tweets during the Unite the Right rally and counter protests in 2017. The misdirected comments were not that important (in my opinion) considering what was happening on the ground in Virginia, but it was crazy to see the speed at which misinformation can move. A lot of the comments were honest mistakes, but others were something more. People were calling out former Mayor Jennifer Roberts and North Carolina as if the event actually happened in Charlotte.

What do you wish people knew about your role/account/brand?

This isn’t a social media thing, but I wish that people knew how much power they have to make an impact in government. Not just on voting day, but every day.

Whose social media do you admire? (locally or nationally)

Charlotte Agenda found the sweet spot on Instagram. The Panthers get it on every platform. CLT Airport, CMPD and Belk Bowl. Vice videos are great, and their reporting is exceptional (most of the time). Same with NPR. Fenty Beauty and House of Highlights are masters at harnessing the power of user content. The Atlanta Hawks have done an incredible job at fusing the city’s culture into its brand on social. I look to universities and museums for inspiration. I love the brief, smart copy from liquor brands on Instagram. Hamburger Helper on Twitter. I can do this all day.

Anything else to share?

I’d like to see more people speak up and ask questions about Charlotte local government on social. Council members are tapped in and see your conversations, and senior leaders in our organization are always curious about what I see. One tweet can start something big if the right people see it.

#ItsReallyMeCLT: Allie Papajohn

Meet Allie Papajohn, The Face Behind Eat, Drink, CLT 

Instagram Handle:

@eatdrinkclt

Website:

EatDrinkCLT.com

Brand:

Eat Drink CLT 

What’s the purpose of your brand?

To show the best eats and drinks in Charlotte (and beyond).

How long have you worked with/on your current brand?

3-5 years

How many people are on your team?

1 (me!) 

How do you adapt your account to popular/trending themes?

Luckily, food doesn’t seem to be going out of style, so I don’t have to worry about this as much as some brands. However, I do recognize that colorful, close-up shots of guilty pleasures (burgers, pizza, ice cream, etc.) perform really well. So I try to seek out and post these dishes as often as possible (plus, those are some of my fave foods). I’ve also started taking more video and incorporating these action shots into my posts and stories.

Tell us about the craziest mention you have ever received or conversation you’ve been pulled into…

The comments on Eat Drink CLT generally stay very positive. I did have one guy who tried to talk smack about my favorite Vietnamese restaurant on two separate posts. I couldn’t help but reply to 1. correct him and 2. tell him I’m sorry he felt that way. And I left it at that!

What is the post you are most proud of?

Making pizza with Chef Wolfgang Puck!

What do you wish people knew about your role/account/brand?

I run Eat Drink CLT alone, and I don’t do this full time! I have an 8 – 5 job and squeeze Eat Drink CLT in on early mornings, lunch breaks, weeknights, and weekends. It keeps me super busy, but I love it.

Whose social media do you admire? (locally or nationally)

@devourpower — absolutely love their content. Also, DREAM JOB!

Anything else to share?

I’m super thankful for the opportunities Eat Drink CLT has given me (ex: making pizza with Wolfgang Puck!) and the people it has allowed me to meet. We have an awesome food community here in CLT, and I’m happy to be a part of it.