Written by Smoak PR

Trends in Digital Media Communications

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that the world we live in has become reliant on digital communication. It is easy to become overwhelmed with information being thrown at us from an overabundance of platforms, people, and outlets. As a leader in our industry, it is critical to navigate the swarm of digital communications and engage appropriately on a variety of platforms, while continuing to discover new trends that ultimately encourage our client’s success. Below are a few digital communication trends we expect to see grow in popularity in 2021.

  1. Enhanced User Generated Content: User Generated Content (UGC) is any type of content (reviews, images, videos, audio, etc.) that users publish themselves on online platforms stemming interactions and information shares that develop thought leaders. The onslaught of invasive online advertising techniques quickly lowered consumers’ ad tolerance. The rise in popularity of ad blockers and search engines like DuckDuckGo are indicators of the intrusive targeting of online consumers. UGC is now welcomed by many brands as an organic and trusted source to reach and gain credibility with their audiences. 
  • Increase in Influencer content: Throughout 2020, users flocked to social media platforms to engage with friends, family and people around the world. Influencers’ personal lives, reviews and opinions were consumed at a higher volume than ever before. The human interaction that users craved was tapped into through live-streams, videos and more frequent posts. Influencer marketing is a strategy that is effectively used to promote products and services through partnerships with popular social media users who have a large, highly engaged audience. Influencer marketing is a key strategy that increases reach across social media audiences, builds brand trust, grows following on social platforms, and increases social traffic and sales.
  1. Surge of Purpose-Driven Initiatives from Brands: As social media platforms progress, users become more knowledgeable. It is critical for brands to position themselves as sincere and trustworthy through goodwill efforts and community relations. Brands that give back, listen to the world around them and respond are more trusted by consumers than those that refuse to acknowledge the tides of change. Purpose-driven initiatives such as donations to non-profits, volunteer work in the community and sponsorships are pivotal for retaining and building trust in consumers. We always encourage our clients to highlight their community involvement as it is proven to generate trust and value from online followers, while also increasing reach and popularity from those who may not be committed followers yet.
  1. Expansion of video marketing: Community is key and the use of creative movement and audio through videos engages consumer viewership of products and services. Videos humanize brands by allowing products and services to become more tangible. Users engage visually and auditorily simultaneously which produces a stronger retention time. Another trend in video marketing is production simplicity. We see this through the increased popularity of shorter clips such as Tik Tok videos, Instagram Reels and live streams. Brands are engaging with consumers by sharing bite-sized clips of their products and services rather than publishing longer and professionally polished content. Organic video sharing has been known to increase brand loyalty and engagement, as it highlights the “realness” of products and services as it pertains to everyday life.
Written by Smoak PR

The Upstate Mobility Alliance to Host Golden Strip Area Leaders for a Virtual Panel Discussion on the Connection Between Growth and Transportation

Leaders from the Golden Strip to Discuss Community Growth and How Transportation Creates Vibrant Communities

Greenville, SC | February 10, 2021 – On Tuesday, February 23rd, the Upstate Mobility Alliance will host a virtual panel discussion on “Connecting the Dots: How Transportation Helps Create Community Vibrancy” from noon to 1:00 pm. This event is open to the public and will feature Shawn Bell, Fountain Inn City Administrator, Jon Caime, Laurens County Administrator, Dianna Gracely, Simpsonville City Administrator, and Brandon Madden, Mauldin City Administrator.

Made up of more than 40 public, private, and civic leaders across the ten-county Upstate South Carolina Region, Upstate Mobility Alliance was created to make the region vibrant and connected, where transportation policy and investments promote innovation, sustainable development, and economic prosperity for all residents and businesses.

“The Upstate of South Carolina continues to be an attractive place for people to work and live,” said Michael Hildebrand, Director of the Upstate Mobility Alliance. “This panel will focus on growth projections for the individual communities and how transportation and mobility options in their community impacts growth and vibrancy.”

At this virtual event, participants will be able to ask questions and hear directly from city and county leaders on upcoming plans and projects throughout the Golden Strip. They will also have the opportunity to explore long-range plans and discuss how alternate modes of transportation, like walking and cycling connectivity, can support future growth.

“Fountain Inn is one of the fastest growing cities in South Carolina,” said Shawn Bell, Fountain Inn City Administrator. “With this growth, we recognize the role transportation and mobility plays in creating vibrant communities.”

Click here to register for the “Connecting the Dots: How Transportation Helps Create Community Vibrancy” panel hosted by Upstate Mobility Alliance. To learn more about the resources provided by the Upstate Mobility Alliance, please click here.


Made up of more than 40 public, private, and civic leaders across the ten-county Upstate South Carolina Region, Upstate Mobility Alliance was created to make the region vibrant and connected, where transportation policy and investments promote innovation, sustainable development, and economic prosperity for all residents and businesses. www.upstatemobilityalliance.org

Written by Smoak PR

Ten at the Top Welcomes New Board Members

Greenville, SC [ February 2, 2021] – Ten at the Top is pleased to announce the addition of 14 new board members for the 2021-2023 term. Each new member participated in one of the TATT New Board Member orientation sessions held on January 28th and 29th. They join existing members to form the governing board for the 10-county non-profit organization.

New Members to the TATT board are:

Geoff Beans, Associate, NAI Earle Furman

Alex Butterbaugh, Owner, Keowee Brewing Company

Annie Caggiano, President & CEO, Oconee Economic Alliance

Dr. Annette Christy, Executive Council Member, AARP of South Carolina

Stinson Ferguson, Special Counsel, Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd

Joel Jones, Chief Operating Officer, ReWa

Brown Patterson, Chairman, Laurens County Council

Abby Russell, Corporate Relations Director, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System

Nathan Senn, Mayor, City of Laurens

Frannie Stockwell, President, Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce

Dr. Michael Thorsland, Superintendent, School District of Oconee County

Jenny Wehrs, Vice President-Operations, Bon Secours St. Francis Health System

Julie Wilkie, City Manager, City of Greenwood

Trentsie Williams, Director of Finance, Meg’s House

The TATT Board of Directors is composed of public, private and civic leaders from across the 10-county Upstate region. TATT board members are charged with representing the region and their community in fostering trust and collaboration across the region on issues of regional significance, serving as an advocate for regional thinking within their specific city or county, assisting TATT in engaging elected officials, business and community leaders, and supporting general organizational functions.

About Ten at the Top

Comprised of public, private and civic leaders from across the ten-county Upstate South Carolina Region, Ten at the Top was created to connect and encourage regional collaboration through data-driven research and regular convening of leaders and citizens to address key issues facing the region. Ten at the Top works with regional partners to foster collaboration and strategic planning to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life for Upstate residents both today and as the region continues to grow. For more information, visit www.tenatthetop.org.

Written by Smoak PR

Meet Our Spring Interns!

Smoak PR is thrilled to welcome three new Spring interns: Irene, Lizzie, and Lindsey. As college students interested in improving their communications skills, Smoak PR will prepare them with knowledge and experience in the public relations industry. To kick off the semester, each intern introduces herself and her goals for this time with Smoak PR:

My name is Irene Biganzoli and I am a junior at the University of South Carolina Upstate, majoring in Communications Mass Media, with double minor in Business & Entrepreneurship and French. I chose to follow this career path because I am fascinated by how words and effective messages can change how one’s story or passion is perceived. Communication is an everchanging field which amazes me, bringing to light modern platforms and utilizing them in the most efficient way. This fresh and dynamic side of communication is what brought me to choose it as a career. While studying and researching mass media and marketing tactics in the classroom, I hope that this amazing opportunity at Smoak PR will show me how these tactics are applied in the real world, teaching me new ones and reinforcing the lessons learned. I hope to become a better communicator, online and with Smoak PR clients and team, gaining hands on experience in areas like media relations and strategic planning.  

My name is Lizzie Burnett. I am a senior at Clemson University studying Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management with a concentration in Travel and Tourism. As one might guess, I have a heart for travel and adventure, and I want each day to look different and allow creativity in the workplace. One of the major trends in what I have studied is the importance of local pride, events, and having a great sense of involvement in the community. This is largely what attracted me to an internship in Public Relations. I am hopeful that this opportunity to intern at Smoak PR will teach me valuable lessons in how to inform the public on ways to get involved and improve the connectivity of a community. 

My name is Lindsey Cottle. I am a junior Communication Studies and French double major at Furman University. My favorite aspect of PR is getting to work with people, learning about their creative visions and helping make those a reality while simultaneously meeting their brand’s more pragmatic needs. I have a passion for travel and for education – which, to me, are one in the same – so I’m constantly trying to see more of the world, meet new people, and interact with cultures and mindsets different from my own. At the root of all these interactions is communication, hence my major: in our hyperconnected world, people seem to feel more disconnected than ever. This phenomenon underscores the importance of effective and meaningful communication, both digitally and interpersonally. I hope to refine the communication skills I’ve developed during my time at Furman through this internship with Smoak PR to better connect with others, and to serve my community by engaging with the public at a local, regional, and global level! 

Although we are beginning our internships virtually, we aim to emphasize collaboration and connection in order to make the most of this opportunity at Smoak PR. Each of us has a similar educational background, and yet brings her own unique set of skills to the table. We can’t wait to discover what this semester has in store for us!