Public Relations Tag

PRSA ICON is an appropriate name for what has become a truly iconic event in the world of communications. For the past four years, I’ve had the honor of presenting integrated marketing concepts at the conference. Each year, I’m amazed at how rapidly communicators are embracing integration and using it to their best advantage. This year’s presentation covers a bit of theory along with some pragmatic tips. In this post, I’ll cover some of the points I'll be making here in Austin today. Here's a link to the slideshare version of the presentation as well. Some people ask me why learn integration? Frankly, I think communicators need at least an awareness of integrated marketing concepts to remain relevant. Beyond that, using an integrated mindset creates more influence for the communications department within the organization while also providing a broader toolkit for the communicator themselves. Finally, making the jump (which really won’t be a jump soon once the silos start breaking down) into a marketing leadership position can’t be done without a strong knowledge of integrated marketing. Many of us aren’t working at a strategic level yet – so how do we introduce integration into our own work?  Basically, integration doesn’t happen without alignment. I think about alignment in three ways: the message, the method and the measurements. 

Summer seems like it should be a slower time, and so I thought I would write about a skill that we all need to add more of - patience. Many people struggle with entrepreneurial impatience.  And that's not always a bad thing. It's often our sense of urgency that drives business growth in the first place, right? Plus, I think that part of the psychological makeup of many entrepreneurs is a minor case of ADD, or in my case, ADHD with an emphasis on the H. Renowned psychiatrist Dr. Dale Archer even called it an entrepreneur's "superpower" in a 2014 Forbes article.  Whether or not you have a diagnosis of ADD, impatience can often be fatal, particularly where marketing is concerned. entrepreneurial impatience We often try something once, or for a short time, and when there are no immediate results says “Well that doesn’t work.” It’s like lifting weights one day and expecting a tricep cut to develop overnight. I’m not suggesting that we all go out and spend a bajillion dollars on advertising. But I do think that in order for promotional tactics to work you have to learn to wait a bit. Here are some questions to ask yourself to see if maybe your own sense of urgency has turned into a bad case of entrepreneurial impatience: 

celebrity spokespersonI've worked with a fair number of famous people, from Ralph Nader to guys from Duck Dynasty. Although it's really not in my wheelhouse anymore I sometimes still get calls to find out how much it would cost for a celebrity to attend their event, endorse their product or contribute to their non-profit cause.   No matter how great your product , or how important your cause, stars generally don't do anything for free unless its for their own foundation (or for George Clooney). The good news is that almost any celebrity can  be booked if you have enough money. Here are a few tips for figuring out how to find someone, how much they cost and what the process might be like.
  • Find out who represents them. The easiest way is to buy a subscription to Who Represents an online listing of virtually every celebrity agent, publicist and manager.  Although some people like to go through managers first, I always call the agent. Agents are usually straightforward, no BS types who will give you prices and explain the ins and outs of back-end deals and endorsements.
  • Know your budget.

If you’ve spent any time in the advertising industry, you are familiar with the use of personas. Personas have not been as popular in communications work but they should be.  If we believe Gartner Group that by the year 2020 75% of the customer experience will occur before a direct brand interaction occurs, then we all should get serious about personas. What is a persona, in the first place? A persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. Personas are typically based on real data about customer demographics and behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns, and values. The information used to build personas comes from surveys, online and social media analytics, past customers and plain observation. Before we get too far into how to create a persona, it’s important to understand why we use them. Personas create reference. They create a target audience representation that helps us brainstorm and vet new ideas, test messaging for alignment and predict behavior. In some cases, they can also provide the foundation for eventual advertising but this is not their primary use. Perhaps the most famous persona of all? Betty Crocker. In fact, surveys still show that about 50% of people in America think that Betty Crocker was a real person. There’s a bigger reason why personas are becoming more important and that goes back to the Gartner statistic.

Grumpy Cat memeWhen it comes to the Internet, cute critters like Grumpy Cat and Boo the Pomeranian reign supreme. It's not just the adorable factor that gets the attention - and money - of legions of fans. Behind Grumpy and Boo are clever, well-orchestrated IMC campaigns that have propelled them beyond the fame of memes and viral videos to global stardom resulting in books, calendars, stuffed toys and most important, revenue.  Most Internet-famous pets come from humble beginnings, like an unassuming YouTube video, a #CatsOfInstagram Instagram account or a casual Facebook post. Some enjoy 15 minutes of fame and fade into the scenery. Others enjoy long-term success, but only with help from marketing and communications tactics. Here are the IMC secrets that have kept both Grumpy and Boo top of mind in this cluttered pet market. 1. Traditional public relations coupled with social media. Grumpy Cat would not be the sensation she is without an incredibly strong social media presence, coupled with enough PR savvy to launch a media tour including office visits at outlets like Buzzfeed. Not long after she gained popularity online, she was front page news in The Wall Street Journal and New York magazine. She's also been a star on the stage of major events like SXSW, reminding us that being "on the ground" is still an important part of the mix. Boo the Pomeranian, aka "The Cutest Dog in the World," is another great example of IMC in action. 2. Product associations.

Starbucks Integrated Marketing CommunicationsFew brands have truly harnessed the power of integrated marketing communications as well as Starbucks. They embraced the concept of integrated and multi-channel marketing techniques well before most other brands, recognizing early on the value of, for example, a direct mail campaign that's supported by e-mail and echoed in social media. When it comes to the holistic picture of integrated marketing communications, Starbucks continues to blaze a trail that other big brands – and small businesses alike – should carefully examine. The foundation of Starbucks' strength in IMC is twofold: consistent branding and consistent customer recognition. Visually, the Starbucks brand is undeniable. Travel to any major city around the world, and quite a few less major ones, and you'll see the familiar Starbucks face peering at you from coffee cups held by passersby. You'll identify a place to get the coffee you love in an airport, or wandering down some strange new street. There are other brands for which this phenomenon also occurs – like McDonald's – but whereas the reaction fast food creates can be mixed (especially when the restaurants are very close to historic or religious landmarks, which seems tacky), the concept of a soothing cup of coffee or cooling Frappucino is almost universally well received. Starbucks is also meticulous about getting to know their customers, and maintaining long-term relationships. They've always understood the value of perks like birthday gifts, delivered via postal mail to customers like an actual present. And they have a website dedicated entirely to customer feedback. My Starbucks Idea brings together a global community of Starbucks lovers. Customer ideas can be voted upon by others and the company provides feedback. Some ideas have even been implemented. At this time, 214,553 ideas are cataloged on the site. My Starbucks Idea is powered by Salesforce, so there is a huge CRM component behind it.

If you're like me, 2015 has gotten away from you already in terms of your own public relations and social media. However, it's never too late to update your accounts and blogs. Here is some terrific advice from Diana Ennen, the President of Virtual Word Publishing Diane specializes in PR and marketing and helps her clients frequently overcome what she calls "desperation marketing." Enjoy! PR Checklist for 2015 – Get Back Into the Swing of Things with These Tips to Maximize Business Success By Diana Ennen Hard to believe January is in full swing and the holidays are a distant memory.  By now, some resolutions are probably already broken and everyone is back into the same ole’ same ole’ of 2014.  But it doesn’t have to be that way!  There is still time to take action to make 2015 the year that your business sees the success it deserves.  Still time to get re-energized and passionate about your business once again, and still time to remember why you started in the first place.  Make 2015 the year you love your business back to success. Here are some tips to help along the way:

IMCI'm always amazed at the ability of PR people to accomplish things in about a third of the time it would take the rest of us. But I think it's a necessity. News moves practically at the speed of light these days. Trying to stay ahead of that cycle (which is what public relations professionals have to do) takes a giant amount of energy, alacrity and mojo. I was incredibly honored to be asked to speak at the PRSA International Conference yesterday. True to form, the staff asked me to present an overview of Integrated Marketing Communications, or IMC. In an hour. I did a webinar version of this talk in August, and the general consensus after that session was they wanted less "what and why" and more "how to." Makes sense right? There's very little time to look at the pretty train and enjoy the comfortable seats. No my friends. The train has left the station and PR people are leaping on the roof, dashing into the cars and at times hanging onto the caboose with their fingertips.  I love that energy! I'm not entirely sure I delivered what they needed yesterday. Technology was not on my side and I probably tried to present way too much information. (Here it is on Slideshare if you're interested) It's hard to say. Here's what I'm really hoping they took away from all my mumbo jumbo:

NewspaperMolly Borchers, Senior Communications Strategist at (W)right On Communications, recently published a pull-no-punches post on The HuffPo Blog about the love/hate relationship between journalists and public relations professionals, and why the hate part of the equation is pretty darn unfair. We've all seen the disparaging tweets and snide blogs that journalists casually let fly about PR pros, and sometimes that scorn is earned. There are definitely people in public relations who are clumsy, clueless and waste the media's time. But that's not the majority of us, so we shouldn't all be painted with the same brush. All you have to do is search Google for "bad press release" and you'll find plentiful examples of PR gone wrong. What journalists need to remember is for every irrelevant or poorly-written pitch they receive, there are many others that are on-target (even if the timing doesn't always fit into their editorial schedule) and handled professionally. PR continues to exist because it works, and journalists would have to do a lot more work themselves to find sources and stories without the help of public relations.

Urban Outfitters' Kent State FiascoLast week we talked about DiGiorno's careless Twitter mistake. This week in faux pas news was Urban Outfitters, who sold a "vintage Kent State sweatshirt" dyed with what appeared to be patterns of blood splatters and bullet holes. (I doubt anybody a reminder why this displayed incredibly poor taste, but just in case, the reason millions took offense was the 1970 Kent State massacre.) Of course, Urban Outfitters said the resemblance to blood and bullet holes was due to the unique dyeing process and natural wear of the fabric, but backlash was swift and severe nonetheless. Pictures of the garment and angry comments poured across social media and the story made headlines just about everywhere. You know the saying "there's no such thing as bad publicity"? It's a lie. In the world of new media, publicity isn't about how many people are talking about you, it's about how people feel about you. And people aren't feeling warm fuzzies about Urban Outfitters right now.