PR News Q&A: Yanique Woodall and the 24/7 E-Commerce World

Yanique Woodall and her PR team at 1-800-FLOWERS.COM are prepared for handling customer-facing crises, but it’s the one that could happen overnight and become viral in an instant that has her concerned. That’s one reason why Woodall has more than doubled her social media efforts in the past year. Woodall, VP, enterprise public relations at 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, will reveal more about adjusting the media relations resource mix at the PR News Media Relations Next Practices Forum on June 17 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. She’ll be on the panel, “Allocate Your Media Relations for Smarter Returns,” and in the following Q&A, Woodall touches on that topic and more.

PR News: What within the media relations function keeps you awake at night?

Yanique Woodall: Since I am in an e-commerce business that services customers 24/7, the emerging trends of consumers sharing feedback via social networking sites has a huge impact to the PR efforts of my team. The idea of a consumer sharing their opinion of the company with their Twitter followers or blog readers keeps me awake at night, as I always want to ensure that we address any potential problems at all hours, as opposed to waiting until regular business hours, when one customer service inquiry may have become viral overnight.

PR News: Is digital PR/social media changing the way you connect with the media? Could you give an example of how social media is affecting your outreach with journalists?

Woodall: With the growing trend of digital PR/social media, consumers are seeking the feedback of "real users." Therefore, over the past year our media outreach has moved from 25% social media to over 50% social media, as we invite bloggers and tweeters to programs that allow them to "journal" their experiences with our company. In this case, we not only create buzz about the brand, but we are able to encourage organic chatter amongst consumers.

PR News: Are you able to link your media outcomes to business goals? If you are, in what ways do you do it?

Woodall: Before strategizing plans to increase brand awareness and encourage consumer testing, our PR team works closely with our marketing partners to understand the business goals of each identified program. Along those lines, we strategize and execute our plans accordingly. Specifically, we are able to link our media outcomes to business goals by tracking specific promotions and product offerings that are only communicated externally through PR efforts.

PR News: In your organization, what is the state of the news release?

We still believe the traditional press release distributed via the wire will continue to be an effective method us. However, with the growing trend of digital PR/social media, our PR team distributes traditional press releases as well as "informally" formatted information about the brand's products/programs/services via e-mail, Twitter and through updates on blogs and Facebook. In addition, we are in the early stages of implementing video into our releases.

PR News: In the next two years, what media relations trend or trends do you foresee?

Woodall: I foresee a heavier focus on video and mobile. With the growing popularity of YouTube, and information alerts and transactions happening via mobile, it would be nice to see press releases and information updates available on a journalist's mobile phone at a moment’s click. After all, the public can get mobile alerts when their checking accounts are low, so on-demand information from organizations to journalists can’t be far behind.

Attend PR News’ Media Relations Next Practices Forum on June 17 and learn more from experts like Yanique Woodall.

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