The Wax Blog

I’m speaking at the PRSA International Conference in Boston today on a topic I’m really passionate about. Personas have been a great tool in marketing for decades. In the modern communications world, personas are incredibly helpful but not often used. One area where they can add the most to a communications campaign is during the actual pitch process. Using personas for pitching is something that can boost what I call the “pitch to placement ratio” enormously. In this post, I’ll explain how to develop the five main types of media personas. In addition, I’ll provide a list of questions to help create pitch plans based on that information. My presentation is embedded below as well. [caption id="attachment_13635" align="alignright" width="300"] Creating personas for pitching takes some lurking.[/caption]

Let’s examine the problem.

Public relations people have been in effect communications “salespeople” for years. Their job has been to develop relationships with key media personnel, introduce story ideas and pitch their clients’ products, people and/or services as part of the story. Before the internet, social media and content marketing public relations played a key role in the ideation and development of media stories.  But all that has changed. Factors like the explosion of blogs and other media outlets, reporters that are either changing jobs more frequently or freelancing among multiple outlets and content marketing have all made finding story ideas and experts much easier for the media. Taking it to a deeper level, as consumers we’ve come to expect a certain “experience” online when we’re shopping. This experience is driving expectations in our professional lives as well, where 75% of us want a truly “self-directed” shopping journey. Add to that a journalist's natural independent, or what I call the “reporter factor.” The media has probably been the fastest to leap onto this self-directed idea, and have bypassed public relations altogether.

Stats to back it up:

  • Over 4 million blogs are posted…daily according to Worldometers
  • A Cision report said that 20% of journalists relied less on PR last year
  • Of those still working with communicators, the same study said that nearly 40% say we need to respect their pitching preferences more
With the proliferation of media, less perceived influence on story creation and development, and fewer relationships many have come to regard it as a numbers game. They’re taking the firehose approach, spraying that message as far and wide as they can. And following up endlessly with outlets that may or may not help drive really targeted reach. Even this little blog has countless emails per day – many of them not nearly related to what I write about.

Why use personas for pitching

From a hot new band, to a boring car company, to every GenZ's favorite social network, these unconventional marketing campaigns stood out from the crowd.  Life is too short to stay in your comfort zone. That’s especially true of marketing campaigns. Not every campaign can be an innovative stroke of genius. But neither can every campaign follow the traditional general format. A well-timed unconventional marketing campaign can make a lasting impression and generate a great deal of buzz around your brand. Here are some of the most interesting unconventional marketing campaigns we've seen recently.  Marketing Campaign #1 - Subaru, Share the Love  Try to find the car in this supposed car commercial. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78z-xnLImFE And it’s not because Subaru doesn’t want to show off their cars - they won five prestigious awards in 2017. The Japanese car manufacturer’s recent “Share the Love” marketing campaign is part of a large scale US marketing outreach that accounts for 60% of the brand’s sales budget. Surely, a 60 second spot for a car that doesn’t even give a viewer a look at the car they’re trying to sell won’t work very well, right? It’s actually precisely what separated Subaru marketing campaigns from their lackluster competitors. Demand for cars has slowed in recent years, but Subaru’s unconventional marketing has been a major factor in its sales boom spanning back nearly 70 months of consecutive growth. Why did it work? Subaru has been targeting a liberal, mostly coastal audience for decades now. Words like “love,” “inclusion,” and images of adorable subjects like children and dogs tug at the heartstrings. The car industry is filled with monotony and it’s difficult to distinguish any one automaker’s ads from another’s. There are lots of sounds of engines revving and hairpin turns through mountain highways. We get it. Everyone’s got sleek designs and a cool logo. But can you remember any car ad that made you feel an emotion besides boredom? Generating an emotional response makes viewers associate positive feelings with Subaru. It helps them think more positively of the brand when it comes time to purchase a vehicle. When would a similar campaign be appropriate? Any time an industry is cluttered it’s a good idea to take another angle. Subaru proved the radical idea of ditching the product entirely is an effective way to stand out. Are you’re struggling to figure out what makes your product unique? Turn your attention to what makes your target audience unique and create new messaging from there.  

Marketing Campaign #2 - Snapchat, Spectacles

Snapchat has made it a very exclusive privilege to use one of its new features. The photo-messaging social media app has made its first foray into technology of its own with camera-equipped sunglasses called Spectacles. Spectacles are only available through distribution carts which appear for a fleeting amount of time before disappearing—mirroring the app itself. Drumming up excitement through scarcity has worked, and it shows. Some Snapchatters are eager to pay a pretty penny for the glasses through resale sites like eBay, to the tune of about $250, roughly double the retail price. Why did it work?

[caption id="attachment_13545" align="alignright" width="300"]personal brand Your employee's strong personal brand can be a huge boon to your company .[/caption]

Don't be afraid to help when it comes to your employees personal brand. Here are some benefits and ways to help them build a stronger reputation both off- and online.

Just a few years ago, the concept of branding was limited mostly to businesses, and how companies cultivated their image. The concept has expanded to encompass individuals. Now it’s not a question of whether you have a brand at all. It's what your personal brand says about you. For most companies, the concept of personal branding is one that has been left primarily to employees themselves. The prevailing notion has been that it’s an individual’s responsibility to find ways to differentiate themselves from others and cultivate a particular perception. Never mind that employers consider a personal brand when making hiring decisions and may actively encourage candidates to demonstrate their personal brand when applying for a job to set them apart from others. Most companies still want to focus solely on the company brand. The tide is shifting and many organizations are beginning to see the value in supporting employee efforts at personal branding. Strong personal brands help grow the business. Supporting personal development and growth among employees can lead to a happier, more productive workforce. [pullquote]Helping your employees establish and strengthen their own personal brand should be an extension of your business marketing strategy.[/pullquote] The Benefits of Personal Branding You may be asking yourself, “How can supporting an employee’s efforts to become a marketing thought leader actually help my business? It’s really only going to benefit them - and eventually spur them to leave.” [Tweet "When your employee has a strong personal brand it reflects positively on your company."] Consider these specific benefits of helping your employee build their personal brand:
  • Supporting branding efforts can increase exposure for your business. When employees are allowed to represent your company at events, engage in learning opportunities, or attend conferences and networking meetings they are developing skills that can support their own personal growth. They are also getting your business’s name out there and giving you more exposure.
The Bangor Region Leadership Institute (BRLI) in Bangor, Maine is a great example of how this works. Sponsored by the local chamber of commerce, this year-long course brings together individuals from 25 to 30 different companies in the region. Participants develop their leadership skills in monthly, day-long seminars led by executive and other leaders in the area. Not only do the attendees gain new perspectives and skills they also have the opportunity to network with others in the community. This also helps provide exposure to their employers, both during the program and after graduation. Touted as one of the best programs of its kind, completing the BRLI program helps support personal brands.
  • Supporting a personal brand contributes to employee satisfaction. When employees feel supported by their employers, they tend to be happier. Happy h employees are productive employees, making them less likely to leave. According to one study of about 1,200 managers about 95 percent of the employees considered “high achievers” leave their jobs every 28 months. These folks are constantly on the lookout for new opportunities. The majority of these employees noted that a lack of support for personal development was the key driver of their dissatisfaction and desire to move on.
  • Supporting personal branding can improve customer outreach. When your employees are respected thought leaders, visible in the community, or simply viewed as knowledgeable and trustworthy experts in your industry, that positive perception can extend to your company. It can bring in new business and help keep existing business loyal. Not only that, when your employees have a strong online presence that you support and encourage, with social media profiles, blogs, and other content associated with your business it extends your marketing reach.
  • Supporting personal branding strengthens your team. Giving your employees the opportunity to grow not only helps support their brand. it also expands their knowledge and skillsets. Obviously this can only benefit you as a company.
How to Build Personal Brands

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