Sometimes it is simple; sometimes you need a role model

Richard Branson’s “Five rough guidelines for creating a successful business” stopped me in my tracks this morning as it is one of the best summaries I have seen.

Pay special attention to #5.

After five decades in business, I’m often asked if there is a shortcut to success. Unfortunately there isn’t — or if there is, I haven’t found it yet. Creating a successful and profitable business takes time, since you build your reputation as customers learn to trust and rely on you, one by one. 

Richard Branson

Image from John Armstrong Photography

Also, there’s no guarantee that spending a huge amount of money on marketing will slingshot your business forward. If you spend your time looking for shortcuts, you will find one — right out of business. 

While there are no set rules for succeeding in business, I have embraced some rough guidelines that can be very helpful:

1. Create a useful product or service

Image from Virgin Orbit

Above all else, you should not go into business purely for financial reasons. Running a company involves long hours and hard decisions; if you don’t have a better reason than money to keep going, your business will more than likely fail, as many new businesses do.

So it’s important to create something of use that is going to benefit society as a whole. If you do something you truly care about, you will be in a much better position to find customers, connect with them, and keep them coming back. 

Once you have decided on the type of product or service that interests you, focus on how to do things differently from the competition: Do your research, find a gap or an area ripe for innovation, and position your business in a way that sets it apart. 

2. Simplify your message

richard_branson_taking_notes_-_image_by_john_armstrong_photography.jpg

Image by John Armstrong Photography

Customers don’t just shop for a brand and its products, but also identify with its core values. Ask yourself, why did I start my business? Be honest – this will help you establish an authentic value and voice. Then break your message into something simple.

At Virgin, we stand for great customer service, good value and innovative alternatives to our competitors’ offerings. Most importantly, we view business as a force for good. Knowing who we are and what we stand for ensures that we don’t waste time or money on messaging that doesn’t represent us or resonate with our customers. 

3.  Market yourself

Richard holding his daughter Holly as he celebrates launching Virgin Atlantic

Image from Virgin.com

 Marketing is a powerful tool, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. My mentor, Sir Freddie Laker, a man who had started a company to challenge British Airways on their home turf, gave me some invaluable advice when I was starting up Virgin Atlantic. Knowing that we couldn’t match the more established airlines in terms of marketing budget, he encouraged me to drive the publicity myself: “Use yourself. Make a fool of yourself. Otherwise you won’t survive.” 

I took his advice and I’ve been thinking up fun ways to stand out from the crowd and draw the media’s attention to our company ever since, from breaking world records to pulling pranks. 

While I’ve always been interested in sports and physical challenges, that might not be the route for you. Find your tone, know your brand, do things your own way, and create waves. The free advertising will follow.   

4. Embrace social media

Image by Owen Buggy

Tools like Twitter and Facebook are wonderful ways to get your message out to a wide audience. Social media is not only more cost-efficient than advertising, but it also offers great opportunities for innovative engagement with your customers. Use it to your advantage.

Remember that there is a difference between selling and marketing. In my experience, selling a product through social media doesn’t always work – it’s better to simply communicate with your customers in an authentic way and have fun. As you build an online profile that people can identify with and trust, you’ll find that they will soon become customers. 

The feedback you receive on social media can be invaluable, especially when your business is just starting out. Listen to your customers’ comments about your company’s offerings to gain an understanding of what you are doing right and wrong. You can also use this feedback to sharpen your social campaigns and measure the effectiveness of your calls to action. 

5. Keep on enjoying what you do

Image from Virgin

If you genuinely love and believe in what you do, others will take notice and share your enthusiasm. 

If you find your interest flagging, it’s time to make a change — switch from operations to management, move on, expand into new territories, anything that interests you. To find success, you need to be fully committed or your work will show it.

Secret Sauce? – “Like Their Friend In The Newsroom Made Sure They Knew What They Needed To Know”

Whether it is a newsletter, a video, a social media post or a cocktail party – the basics remain – think about your audience and be interesting.  Below is the recipe for the secret sauce to communicating, and engaging, your audiences.

shutterstock_698002942 purchased July 2018

The New York Times recently announced that it now has 14 million subscribers across its 55 newsletters. According to Elisabeth Goodridge, The Times’s editorial director of newsletters, the “secret sauce” to good newsletters is as follows:

  1. Know your audience
  2. Have an expert write it (or be quoted)
  3. Design it beautifully
  4. Maintain it with best practices in mind
  5. And, perhaps most important, “offer something valuable that you can’t get anywhere else.”

It should also be an intimate and controlled space. “We want it to be a friction-free experience,” said Andrea Kannapell, the editor of briefings at The Times. That means shorter, lighter sentences; a conversational voice; and information that equips readers to take on news conversations at work and at cocktail parties. “We want them to leave the briefing feeling uplifted,” Ms. Kannapell said. “Like their friend in the newsroom made sure they knew what they needed to know.”

Thank you to the American Press Institute for sharing this article.  Blog readers:  Isn’t this what our jobs are too?  Whether it is delivering information TO a journalist, or shareholders, or employees or our communities … these simple steps are indeed the recipe to the ‘secret sauce’.

I am a subscriber to several of these NYT newsletters and usually I take the time to review and read them; they are that worthwhile.  This is a free service, delivered online, so I encourage you to take a look, experience their ‘secret sauce techniques’ and see if one of these 55 newsletters might be what you need to know.  Laura

Be Part Of The Bliss That Comes With An Out-of-Office Message

So incredibly smart!  Heathrow airport, offers a ready made Out-of-Office message for travelers.  You have to sign into an airport Wi-Fi so while you are at it, why not use their Out-of-Office message too??

This article from ADWEEK, ran July 3, just before Independence Day in the USA – but offers us so many ideas for all the businesses that add joy/special moments of bliss/fun/escape – you-fill-in the benefit to our lives – think of what hotels, recreation, destinations, retails, transportation and so many more could offer.. think about it – how do you add joy to your customer’s life?  Now produce a video or message for use not only as an out-of-office message but for social media channels.  

Now if you are a toy store, pet shop, ski resort, beach bar or more – you might just go wild with this idea – have big fun!

An entirely new way to send your corporate message!  

Though people across the pond won’t be celebrating the Fourth of July on Wednesday, Heathrow Airport still understands the sentiment of a holiday week—as it proved in a new spot that’s all about embracing your vacation days.

Havas London, the British-based agency behind Heathrow’s now-famous ads featuring a pair of bears returning home for the holidays, created this new spot for London’s landmark airport. In it, a woman drafts her out-of-office message while sitting at her gate at Heathrow. As she finishes, she laughs with her two children before the family giddily gets up to board their plane.

Heathrow: Out Of Office  – link here: https://www.adweek.com/creativity/heathrow-out-of-office-ad/
“Heathrow is just as much about those longed-for week-long summer holidays as it is about weekday business trips and round-the-world epics,” Lynsey Atkin, creative director at Havas London, told Adweek of the spot. “We wanted to celebrate the small moments that have great significance when it comes to our precious time away with those we love. Setting an out of office is one such moment, where the world of work is packed away and our focus shifts to the really important people in our lives.”

The ad’s approach is simple: A reminder of the feeling that comes along with the seemingly-minute, yet instantly relief-inducing act of setting up an out-of-office message before heading out on an awaited-for vacation. Atkin says that going into the campaign, the Havas London team wanted “to tell a seemingly small story that had big resonance.”

To make the family interactions feel natural and relatable, the spot’s director, Tom Green of Stink Films, worked with the cast for two days of shooting “to allow for natural action and dialogue that feels utterly relatable and part of the fabric of family interactions that play out every single day across Heathrow,” Atkin said.

The campaign aims to highlight Heathrow’s “Closer” tagline, meant to showcase “the airport’s ability to bring people closer together for special moments every day,” according to a release. Beyond the video spot, also included in the campaign are several out-of-home ads featuring images shot by Christopher Anderson. In these ads, close-up photos of different faces are featured. At the bottom of each image, there’s a personalized out-of-office message.

“At its very heart Heathrow is about bringing people Closer to each other,” Atkin said of the message behind the Closer tagline. “And in a time when that seems increasingly rare, it feels fitting that a place that knows the power and emotion of being together should be flying the flag for it, however big or small.”

Credits

Project name: Out of Office
Client: Heathrow Airport Limited: Simon Eastburn – Director of Marketing, Modupe Adeboye – Senior Marketing and Brand Manager, Kellie Heath – Campaign Marketing Manager, Silvia Cardinale – Campaign Marketing Manager
Creative agency: Havas London
ECD: Ben Mooge
Creative Director: Lynsey Atkin
Creative: Tom Manning
Account team: Caroline Saunders, Oliver Lester, Claire Petzal, Naomi Hollowday
Agency producer (film): Kiri Carch, Adrianne Godfrey
Agency producer (print): Hatty Middleton
Planner: Clare Phayer
Media agency: Carat
Media planner: Hanna Puggaard
Production company: Stink Films
Producer: Ray Leakey
Director: Tom Green
DoP: James Laxton
Editor: James Forbes-Robertson at Whitehouse Post
Post-production: The Mill
Soundtrack composer: Roots Manuva ‘Fighting For’
Audio post-production: Jon Clarke at Factory

 

Thank you ADWEEK for another smart and creative story.  Laura

Writing Is The Unicorn Skill – Uh-Huh We Knew It All Along

  • Note from Laura:  We’ve always known; writing is a master skill and much needed.  The ability to communicate, story tell, sell, divulge and engage are the ingredients of public relations, marketing, advertising and sales – not to mention management.                                                                                                              
  • When I saw this 3 MINUTE READ – from Co.Design – I knew I had to share.  We have THE UNICORN SKILL – add that to your resume and be so proud!

Forget Coding: Writing Is Design’s “Unicorn Skill”

In a new report, John Maeda explains why writing is a must-have skill for designers.

Forget Coding: Writing Is Design’s “Unicorn Skill”
[PHOTO: HERO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES]

These days many designers can code–an increasingly important skill for landing a job. But few are just as fluent in their own language as they are in Javascript. That presents a serious problem in terms of design. Users still depend on copy to interact with apps and other products. If designers don’t know how to write well, the final product–be it a physical or digital one–can suffer as a result.

In his “2017 Design in Tech Report,” John Maeda writes that “code is not the only unicorn skill.” According to Maeda, who is the head of computational design and inclusion at Automattic and former VP of design at VC firm Kleiner Perkins, words can be just as powerful as the graphics in which designers normally traffic. “A lot of times designers don’t know that words are important,” he said while presenting the report at SXSW this weekend. “I know a few designers like that–do you know these designers out there? You do know them, right?”

 Design is changing fast, and design schools risk producing students without fundamental skills needed in the industry today. Writing is one of them. After all, content is still king.

By pointing to writing as the next most important skill for designers, the report suggests a corrective to an overreliance on the interface–to the extent that writing itself has been left behind as a design skill. “A core skill of the interaction designer is imagining users (characters), motivations, actions, reactions, obstacles, successes, and a complete set of ‘what if’ scenarios,” writes designer Susan Stuart, in a blog post highlighted in the report. “These are the skills of a writer — all kinds of writers, but particularly fiction, screenwriting, and technical writing.”

Learning how to write isn’t just an important skill for the future: It’s applicable right now. Trends in digital design emphasize clean lines and few words–giving language itself more weight. “Art direction and copywriting are as fundamental to the user experience as the UI,” as Paul Woods, COO of the digital design firm Edenspiekermann,wrote here on Co.Design. “Sure, you can have a beautiful UI/frame, but once you have that (we all know a great UI is an invisible UI), all the viewer cares about is what’s inside: the artwork, the story.”

[PHOTO: ILYA PAVLOV VIA UNSPLASH]

It’s not just that designers should treat their copywriters better, as Maeda mentioned at his Design in Tech SXSW talk. As chatbots and conversational interfaces become more popular, writing becomes the vehicle for experience design–so much so that writers are being integrated into those design teams. Companies are already starting to use AI to customize language for users on a mass scale. This writing-based design could transform the very nature of UX.

“We talk about the power of words—both content and style—all the time,” writes R/GA brand designer Jennifer Vano in blog post featured in the “Design in Tech” report. “When it comes to friendships, romance, work dynamics, and, dare we even mention it—though nothing is more telling, more relevant—politics, words have the power to change our opinions, incite action, divide or unify us, move us. Words can shape reality.”

As a well-known voice in the design world, Maeda’s report will help cast light on the issue–but design schools also have a role to play, as well. The report details how design education is falling short in other areas, as well. For instance, the top three skills needed by designers in practice–data, business, and leadership skills–are not available to them in most basic coursework.

How To Make A Bad Review … Better

The media and the communication vehicles that reach our customers, are the partners of businesses, especially marketing and PR. 

When the Associated Press gives out advice on how to handle negative commentary – it is something to heed.  Thank you AP!  

NEW YORK (AP) — A bad review can seriously hinder a small business’ reputation, but dealing with negative social media and online posts is now essential.

The popular online review site Yelp.com recently won a case in California where an aggrieved law firm tried to force it to remove negative posts. Such an action would run afoul of freedom of speech, according to internet companies, but business owners say it could leave the door open to spreading falsehoods without consequences.

There are several measures a business can take to respond to negative reviews to mitigate any potential damage.

Here are some key points for business owners:

ASK HAPPY CUSTOMERS TO POST REVIEWS OF THEIR EXPERIENCE

It’s important to be proactive and have staff ask customers to post their experience. The offensive part of this strategy involves having a base of good reviews from happy customers. It’s even more important because people who are upset are usually more motivated, Kagan said.

That can leave a skewed picture of a business. A solid base of good reviews will help give a potential customer a broader view.

RESPOND IMMEDIATELY AND POLITELY

People want to know that the owner is professional and cares about fixing legitimate problems. Simple things, like saying “I’m very sorry you didn’t enjoy” the meal or product can go a long way with potential new customers checking out your reviews.

“You will often find that you’re playing to the audience, which is sort of neutral,” Kagan said.

PROVIDE A FACTUAL REBUTTAL

While owners should acknowledge a person’s feelings, there are some issues where a factual rebuttal is necessary.

For a restaurant, this could include providing a link to a health department grade or report if somebody falsely accuses the restaurant of being unclean. For some companies, it could mean posting a statement on steps being taken to improve a product or service.

“You’re not necessarily going to fix an upset person,” Kagan said. “What you can do is limit the impact.”

I am often asked if I can make a negative comment “go away” – the answer is no.  But what I will do is reposition the comment with the facts as we know them, remember the audience is wide and large, respond directly to this one comment, and treat everyone’s opinion as valid.  Just because we are responding to one comment, it is imperative to remember many others will be reading what you say too.

SUPER Influencers A Key To Super-Success

Influencer marketing is without a doubt a trending area for marketers and public relations professionals.

In retail, travel and entertainment, savvy marketers are connecting with people who have a great number of followers — and influence — and compensating them with cash, gifts or an experience, such as a stay in a resort or a cameo in a show.

The idea of connecting with the right people and working those relationships is both a refreshing and seemingly simple approach. However, how does influencer marketing apply to complex selling environments, such as within regulated industries (financial or healthcare, for example) or with enterprise software sales?

Without exception, a pithy Instagram post or a Tweet from an influencer is not going to have a meaningful impact on shortening long sales cycles or getting a chief security officer (CSO) to narrow solutions they’re considering for their global operations. In my experience, there are, however, people and organizations that have pull with buyers and industry organizations that are worth investing in relationships with.

This article comes with thanks to Forbes and Scott Mills, a member of the Forbes Agency Council.  

 Your team’s success is made easier with positive relationships with outside influencers.

To use the financial industry for illustration, which is one I’m quite familiar with, reaching and persuading bankers to buy into new concepts, strategies and solutions is without a doubt a difficult assignment. When selling something that represents a sizeable investment for the financial organization, it is likely that the company has to accomplish several things. It must:

1. Sell the business-side leader (head of retail banking).

2. Satisfy a host of people involved in the decision, which may include the board of directors, IT department and procurement.

3. Assure the bankers they will remain in compliance (not run afoul of regulators).

4. Demonstrate that your company is financially stable enough to satisfy the client.

For technology sellers, companies are also faced with demonstrating integration with at least one other existing critical system, such as a “core” platform and demonstrating that the company is operationally mature and disciplined enough to handle the prospect’s business.

Marketing to everyone within a bank who needs to buy — or at least sign off on — the agreement requires a highly coordinated effort. It is made easier by reaching third parties who have influence with the prospect and the industry as a whole.

Who are the super-influencers?

Super-influencers are people who advise or provide services to your prospects. They are trusted industry authorities or other vendors that are already serving the bank. Some examples of super-influencers include:

• Attorneys who advise bank boards.

• Accountants who serve the risk committee and CFO.

• Consultants hired to manage a transition or guide strategy.

• Executives of industry associations who drive education and governmental affairs.

• Industry analysts covering specific operational areas.

• Regulators who advise what changes would be acceptable to them.

• Key vendors that are already entrenched in the bank.

• Media who drive conference agendas and what topics are elevated within their channels.

While media is often the target for public relations outreach, trade media is frequently made up of industry experts in their own right. These people deserve an intelligent approach to building relationships.

Super influencers typically have the power to sway a decision. As such, super-influencer marketing is a programmatic approach to identify them, reach out and build relationships.

A super influencer’s value is based on their reputation.

Just as you expect a trusted friend or mentor to provide sound counsel, so do those who turn to their accountants, attorneys and key executives for professional services. As such, these super influencers continue to invest in their development and understanding of forces shaping their industries. Doctors read about new treatments. Researchers seek answers to challenging questions. And educators study, write and publish to broaden their understanding and to influence others. This quest for knowledge is the basis for connecting with super influencers. So is the story you want to deliver. When determining the story, consider the following:

• How are you changing the industry?

• Is there an example of a client company that is achieving outstanding results?

• Are you applying lessons from another industry?

• Do you have research that suggests a shift in the market?

• Is your solution reducing risk? If so, what kind?

Regardless of the channel or communications tactics, the underlying strategy for reaching super influencers has to be based on appealing to their curiosity, helping them broaden their understanding of their industry and doing a better job for their customers and business community.

Many super influencers are paid to recommend the right solution or company or provide an informed opinion or guidance. Consider the people and organizations you know with strong reputations — protecting their reputation drives their actions and decisions. The bottom line is that tactics found in retail or entertainment influencer marketing programs do not translate well to business-to-business (B2B) super influencers because they do not trade their reputation for short-term profits or trivial gifts.

In broad strokes, utilizing super-influencer marketing requires you to build and prioritize audiences, determine what assets or content you’ll need for them and continually foster mutually beneficial relationships.

So, what is fair game for leveraging these relationships?

While some relationships can be based on information sharing or leads, others can provide opportunities to work together on projects that would reflect well on both parties. For example, an attorney and PR practitioner could collaborate on articles about crisis planning and responses. An accountant and consulting firm might create webinars that address operational risks associated with new regulations. And two complementary software companies might create co-branded educational materials about transforming a segment of the industry.

If you are a B2B marketer operating within a complex environment or regulated industry, you know there are no shortcuts. Embrace the complicated and practice these super-influencer marketing tactics — together they represent your competitive advantage.

Note from Bennett – there is a fine line between paying someone to support your PR campaign, and finding mutual benefits with no payment.  This is not a new trend as celebrity endorsements have been around as long as we’ve had speech – an outstanding tool, maybe even SUPER if used with intelligence and as one portion of a well-considered campaign.

Exceptional Role Models Make for Exceptional Careers

Christine Mau, named one of Ad Age’s “Women to Watch” and a former design director at Kimberly-Clark, says design must be brought into an organization’s full conversation, rather than considered an output.

American Marketing Association does an exceptional job of bringing us stories of people who we can learn from, emulate and follow.  A recent story in Marketing News gives insight into Christine Mau, read on!

Mau’s work has included the redesign of Kleenex boxes into oval and triangular formats, as well as the U by Kotex launch. The tampon brand presented its product in black and neon colors, a massive departure from the typical blue and white found in the feminine hygiene aisle.

This ability to talk about and design for what are sometimes considered taboo topics made her the prime candidate for co-creating the logo for No More, a movement for raising awareness and engagement around ending domestic violence and sexual assault.

The logo (pictured at right with Mau), which consists of a blue circle with a disappearing center—intended to evoke the concept of reducing the number of such experiences to zero—has been part of a global public service announcement effort that has received more than $2 billion in earned media.

https://www.ama.org/publications/eNewsletters/Marketing-News-Weekly/Pages/christine-mau-encourages-design-integration-in-marketing-process.aspx

###

 

Why we click on news stories

For news organizations, clicks are tracked closely. They generate advertising revenue and help newsrooms to better understand audience interests. But what motivates news users to click?

great news headlineThe reasons are diverse and perhaps unexpected, according to a study forthcoming in the academic journal Journalism by Ph.D. candidate Tim Groot Kormelink and journalism studies professor Irene Costera Meijer at VU University Amsterdam. Kormelink and Meijer are part of the research consortium The New News Consumer.

Stories can garner clicks — or lose out on clicks — for many different reasons. To reach this conclusion, Kormelink and Meijer asked 56 different news users to “think aloud,” or share exactly what passed through their minds while browsing news on a site and device of their choosing. The 20- to 40-minute interviews were transcribed and then carefully analyzed to find themes.

Common reasons for clicking included the personal relevance or social utility of news. Stories that spoke to people’s lives and their need to be informed in social settings attracted interest.

“Common reasons for clicking included the personal relevance or social utility of news

Unsurprisingly, news about nearby locations and about unexpected events garnered more clicks. The important reminder from this research, however, is how much variability there is in what counts as “nearby,” and what counts as “unexpected.” For example, one participant saw an event happening 15 miles away as near, but another did not.

headlines for blog in 2017News about topics that seemed familiar, but that participants couldn’t quite recall, also generated clicks. Think of reading a headline about a name that sounds familiar, but you can’t quite remember who it is.

Site design and layout affected people’s decisions about what news to view. Prominently placed news and attention-grabbing visuals both motivated clicks, but a long perceived load time or presence of videos, however, deterred clicks in some instances. This was because participants wanted to conserve their time and data plans.

The emotional impact of a headline influenced clicking behavior. Headlines conveying disheartening news attracted attention up to a point — if the information seemed too disheartening, people avoided the story. Light-hearted news also resulted in clicks among those looking for stories would lift their spirits. Stories that actively irritated some of the participants, such as an article describing an anti-gay law in Uganda, yielded clicks.

Several expected reasons for clicking on news articles were surprisingly absent from the decisions described by the news browsers. The timeliness or recency of the article were rarely mentioned as reasons to click on a story. Further, few said that they chose articles because they agreed with the conclusions reached.

The timeliness or recency of the article were rarely mentioned as reasons to click on a story”

In addition to uncovering reasons for clicking on news, the authors also learned why people avoid clicking on news.

A number of the study participants said that they weren’t interested in news that seemed too obvious, or that seemed to replicate what they already knew. They also avoided stories that seemed to require background knowledge, or that appeared to provide the middle of an unfolding story.

headlines breaking news 3Headlines that conveyed most of the information about the story — even though the topic may have been of great interest — also did not earn clicks. And in some instances, people didn’t click on stories because of their schedule — longer news stories, for instance, didn’t make sense when people were checking the news briefly on the way to work.

The research provides ample evidence that there are many different reasons that people click on news — in particular, they are drawn to news that is relevant to personal interests or happened nearby, news that gives them something to talk about, and news that provokes emotional responses.

The most interesting takeaway from this research is the potential ideas about how to present news in ways that cater to why people click in the first place. For some, a set of short headlines is sufficient — this would support creating newsletters and quick summaries. Allowing people to save articles for later can help those who don’t have time to read longer stories during certain times of day. Finding ways to adopt a user-centered approach in news design could be the true answer to more clicks.

Research shows people click on stories that happened nearby or gives them something to talk about.

This article courtesy of American Press Institute, insights, tools and research to advance journalism.

Do NOT Hire a Social Media Consultant Before You Ask These 10 Questions

What is a “Social Media Consultant”?  It could be anyone with a personal Facebook Page and a large number of Twitter followers wanting to sell you on their services.

I too often see someone touting this service (for far too high a cost) who have only a Twitter account or not much of a personal or business presence anywhere on the web.  And while these “consultants” might be available the question is are they right for you?  

You ONLY want someone who knows your industry 

and has the maturity to know what NOT to post too.

Once you make the decision to outsource, you’ll want to strongly vet potential consultants and/or agencies.

Here are 10 things Social Media Today recommends you ask or consider:

1. Can they demonstrate a proven track record?

Ask what brands the person or agency has worked with and is currently working with (to ensure they’re not working with a competing brand).

Don’t be shy about asking for references. Ask about a brand they worked with where something didn’t work out – how did they handle that? Were they able to quickly adapt and change course? Do they have the necessary experience in your industry to properly advance your business?

The more they know about your industry, the less of a learning curve there’ll be, and the more resources they’ll bring to your brand. What are their first steps when taking on new clients?

2. Where can I find current and past examples of your work?

Anyone with experience will be readily able to show you a portfolio of work as well as links to initiatives they’ve either run or been involved in creating.

Look for campaigns that have been repeated. You know things are working when you keep doing it.

Have the campaigns led to brand exposure? Sales leads? Will this experience help your market?

3. Who will be handling my account and what background does this person come from?

This is the biggest question – don’t buy into a sales pitch and then get a very junior person.

The background of each person working on behalf of your brand is important. If you’re looking for marketing, PR and/or social media help, you want people that have leveraged those skills working with prior companies.

Do these people have knowledge and experience with trends in these areas?

4. How will we track ROI?

We know that not everything has immediate return that’s trackable when it comes to social media. But you can track most things.

You want to know that this consultant or agency isn’t simply looking to add likes, followers or fans, but is actually able to analyze conversion rates.

Brands that hire an outside agency will want to know that the agency or consultant is consistently monitoring results, and is being held accountable. You’ll want to know there’s a standard monitoring and reporting process in place that works for both you and the agency or consultant.

5. What is their process for reporting?

How often will you meet with them? How often will you be provided status updates or check-ins?

If the agency doesn’t have a method to suggest immediately to you on how they’ll communicate, it might be a red flag that the agency isn’t as connected with their clients as you’ll want to be (or that they haven’t even thought of this yet).

6. What will you do if something goes wrong?

How would you handle a social media crisis? This is the question that will give you real insight into their value.

Marketing campaigns that look great on paper can go wrong in application, no matter how seasoned the consultant is.

How will they react? How do they respond to negative reviews? Tweets? Negative Facebook comments?

7. How do they come up with strategic plans?

How much does writing content figure into their experience and plan for your business? A good consultant will have a workflow that works for them and you.

They’ll know how to integrate social media with PR and traditional media.

They’ll want to talk to your sales team and find out what plans they have and will know how to integrate them into all they are doing.

8. How will content be developed?

And, will you have to approve all of the content written on behalf of your brand? Will it all have to be planned, or will you trust this person or agency to create on-the-fly content for you? Does this person have the experience necessary to understand the nuances of writing content specific for each platform?

Content developed for your brand needs to be likeable and shareable. A consultant or agency should be able to show you examples of previously created content for other clients, as well as their content calendar, or what their content creation process looks like.

9. What does success look like, and how will we measure it?

Brands that are investing in consultants and agencies must have clear goals in mind when starting this process. An agency should be able to help you achieve your KPIs. The consultant or agency you choose will help you establish these KPIs and will (with you) write strategies and tactics to hit those goals.

10. What will this cost?

Outside of the monthly retainer or fee you agree to with the consultant or agency, you want to know that your budget is being kept in mind in all they’re doing.

Thank you http://www.socialmediatoday.com – one of my favorite sources for all things social!

Today CCO’s and PR Professionals Focus on Cyber Threats and Employees As Much As Media Contacts

shutterstock_197903273Reputation management was a term I heard in one of my first public relations classes in college.  Whether the person handling an organization’s reputation is a PR professional or holds the title of CCO (Chief Communications Officer) this responsibility is critical and expanding as new threats impact how the consumer and Wall Street see your organization.

The study below shows what keeps those charged with the management of an organization’s reputation up at night.

AREAS OF CONCERN FACING CCOs

  • More than one out of two global CCOs (53 percent) have been impacted by shareholder activism. Of those who have been impacted by shareholder activism, 92 percent say their department was very or somewhat involved in addressing the event.
  • Nearly half of global CCOs (47 percent) spend a great deal or a lot of their time preparing for or dealing with cyber security, followed by understanding shifts in consumer spending behaviors (45 percent) and managing financial crises (44 percent).
  • 80 percent of global CCOs believe that marketing and communications departments are more collaborative than ever, and 54 percent expect the two functions to be fully integrated in the next few years.
  • When asked what would be the one thing global CCOs would most like to focus on in their role if they had the time, the top answer was reputation (28 percent). (This question was asked on an open-ended basis.)

“As seen in this study, reputation management is a prime responsibility of the corporate communications position today. Nearly every CCO, 93 percent, places this responsibility at the top of their lists, regardless of region,” said Leslie Gaines-Ross, chief reputation strategist at Weber Shandwick, in the release. “Clearly, global CCOs take their jobs as reputation guardians seriously and are ever-vigilant about protecting their company reputations from harm, whether it be cyber threats, crises of any kind, or the growing importance of employee engagement.”

Emerging marketing and communications trends have redefined the C-suite’s perspective on branding, and have also reshaped the roles of PR leaders. What are the top concerns for top comms execs in this evolving landscape? New research shows more than seven in 10 global chief communications officers (CCOs) reporting that digital communications ranks as their top priority for the next 18 months—and in North America, the highest priority for top CCOs is employee engagement, according to a new report from leadership consultancy Spencer Stuart and PR giant Weber Shandwick.

Additionally, more than half of global CCOs report that their companies have been impacted by shareholder activism, with an even higher percentage (58 percent) of CCOs in North America reporting impact, according to findings from The Rising CCO VI. Now in its sixth year, survey report explores how CCOs expect their responsibilities to evolve over time in a rapidly changing world.

“Effective and engaging employee communications is in great demand today as the communications function continues to touch all parts of a company’s business,” said George Jamison, who leads Spencer Stuart’s corp comms business, in a news release.

“CEOs are asking their top communications leaders to ensure that employees internalize strategy and company purpose. Our research shows that CCOs are working hard to drive employee advocacy and deepen their relationships with stakeholders both within and outside the company.”

 DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS NOW A STRATEGIC PARTNER, HIRING PRIORITY

Digital communications is reported as the top area of focus globally for the next 18 months and is a top hiring priority for the near future. In North America, digital communications is the second top area of focus for the next 18 months, behind employee advocacy/engagement.  Importantly, CCOs in every region also report that digital and social media would be their closest working partners in the future. This aligns with a related trend of using data analytics widely to evaluate corporate reputation, refine messaging, and identify company supporters and allies, according to the study.

FOCUSING ON EMPLOYEE COMMUNICATIONS AND ENGAGEMENT

The importance of employee communications as a top tier priority differs regionally among global CCOs. By very wide margins, North American CCOs (90 percent) report that employee communications is a top tier responsibility compared to 70 percent of EMEA CCOs. In line with North American CCOs’ strong focus on employee communications, these leading comms pros in North America are also more likely to report that employee advocacy and engagement will grow in importance in their portfolio of responsibilities over the next 12 to 18 months compared to EMEA CCOs (70 percent vs. 45 percent, respectively).

Global CCOs also plan to make hires in the employee engagement and internal communications field in the next 12-18 months. Specific positions cited include Global Head of Employee Engagement, Head of Enterprise Communications (Internal and Leadership) and Employee Engagement Specialist.

FOSTERING TIES TO HUMAN RESOURCES

As global CCOs focus on strengthening their connections with employees as part of their skill set today and in the near future, a large 83 percent report working closely with their human resources (HR) departments. Another 14 percent report that they do not currently work closely with HR, but their company would benefit from doing so. Global CCOs report that they work with their HR peers as often as they do with marketing (86 percent) and legal (83 percent) counterparts. Additionally, 79 percent of global CCOs expect to work more closely in the future with HR departments. These findings underscore the importance of internal alignment within organizations and the rising importance of employee advocacy and engagement in the years ahead.

By very wide margins, North American CCOs (93 percent) are more likely to count HR as close partners in how they do their jobs compared to 75 percent of CCOs from EMEA. When it comes to expectations about the next few years, North American and EMEA CCOs are in greater agreement that they will be working closely with their HR brethren (81 percent vs. 77 percent, respectively).

 

Shared from Bulldog Reporter one of the best sources for PR news.  www.bulldogreporter.com

Learn Something Good From United Airlines’ Very Bad Reaction

Another case of the big guy blaming someone else – and losing the opportunity to do something good.  Not only was the incident of the man being dragged off the plane horrific to see and hear, but the response from the president of United was nearly as bad.  Have these people learned nothing about kindness or corporate responsibility?

My social media is still full of reactions to this; none of them good.

United also did not apologize, did not take responsibility, and did not demonstrate empathy in either the leggings or the viral video case, as it did with the system outage. Further, the company used industry terms like “Contract of Carriage,” “overbooked,” and “re-accommodate” instead of talking like their passengers would talk.

These stories are a reminder to all brands that offline experiences can quickly come online, and if brands don’t get the offline experience right, they will suffer the consequences in social media. Everyone with a smartphone can snap a photo of their poor experience and post it to Facebook or Twitter in mere moments – and they’re doing so, at an alarming rate for brands.  When this happens, friends and followers are witnesses to the experience and often rally to support those who feel affronted.

Here is a link to an excellent review of this situation on Social Media Today… take a few minutes and let’s be the professionals who stand up for what is right.

http://www.socialmediatoday.com/smt-influencer/uniteds-social-media-nightmare-what-went-wrong

 

 

 

YOUR posts are being viewed just like TV or print news – Are you a trusted source?

‘Who shared it?’: How Americans decide what news to trust on social media

This research was conducted by the Media Insight Project — an initiative of the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research

Introduction

When Americans encounter news on social media, how much they trust the content is determined less by who creates the news than by who shares it, according to a new experimental study from the Media Insight Project, a collaboration between the American Press Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Whether readers trust the sharer, indeed, matters more than who produces the article —or even whether the article is produced by a real news organization or a fictional one, the study finds.

A trusted sharer results in more trust for the article

People who see a social media post from someone they trust evaluate the article more positively

 As social platforms such as Facebook or Twitter become major thoroughfares for news, the news organization that does the original reporting still matters. But the study demonstrates that who shares an article on a social media site like Facebook has an even bigger influence on whether people trust what they see.

The experimental results show that people who see an article from a trusted sharer, but one written by an unknown media source, have much more trust in the information than people who see the same article from a reputable media source shared by a person they do not trust.

The identity of the sharer even has an impact on consumers’ impressions of the news brand. The study demonstrates that when people see a post from a trusted person rather than an untrusted person, they feel more likely to recommend the news source to friends, follow the source on social media, and sign up for news alerts from the source.

All of this suggests that a news organization’s credibility both as a brand and for individual stories is significantly affected by what kinds of people are sharing it on social media sites such as Facebook. The sharers act as unofficial ambassadors for the brand, and the sharers’ credibility can influence readers’ opinions about the reporting source.

This new research by the Media Insight Project is part of an effort to study the elements of trust in news at a time of turbulence in the media. The results offer important new insights to publishers whose digital content increasingly is reaching people outside the domain of their own websites and apps. Indeed, the findings suggest that publishers increasingly need to think of their consumers as ambassadors for their brand. The findings also carry implications for people concerned about so-called fake news and for advocates of “news literacy,” the spread of consumer critical thinking skills. The findings also have implications for social networks that might be able to alter the presentation of content to give consumers more information about the source of the news.

A news organization’s credibility both as a brand and for individual stories is significantly affected by what kinds of people are sharing it on social media.

The new findings come from an experiment involving 1,489 Americans and their trust in news on social media.

Six Digital Trends in 2017 That Will Redefine Influence for Marketers

In 2016, we’ve seen mobile completely redefine how people interact with one another as well as with brands. And while social and mobile have had an indisputable impact on marketing, communications and business, in 2017, we’re going to see old dogs with new tricks in areas such as content mixed with new dogs who want to change the game all together.  With thanks to Kevin King, global practice chair of Edelman Digital, in AdWeek, December 2016.

Here are a few areas identified as part of Edelman Digital’s annual trends predictions for 2017.

Conversational experiences
Messaging apps are becoming the new second home screen. Why now? There’s a chatbot revolution going on, and it’s primarily being fueled by the adoption of chatbots by major social and messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, Google, Microsoft Skype, Salesforce, Slack, Twitter DM, WeChat, Kik and Line. Now that there are billions of daily users of messaging platforms who are accustomed to engaging with brands in the feeds, the platforms hope they will enable marketers with the ability to scale creative 1-to-1 engagement opportunities called “conversational experiences.” These conversational experiences will bring together past revolutions in ecommerce and text services while highlighting the potential of artificial intelligence.

Immersive content
2017 is going to mark a turning point in the way audiences interact with and consume video content. Through the releases of the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PSVR and Niantic Labs’ Pokemon Go on Unity, virtual reality and augmented reality became important technological breakthroughs in 2016. In 2017, we anticipate significant improvements in immersive devices as well as software. Also, look for efforts from brands with skin in the game to make using a headset culturally acceptable.

Influencer marketing
According to eMarketer, 2017 is predicted to mark a major milestone for digital advertising—for the first time, digital spending will surpass that of TV. So where will those dollars go? Considering the challenges marketers face with bot fraud, ad blocking, social algorithms and general skepticism, influencer marketing will play a renewed and central role in the marketing mix for 2017. Influencer marketing isn’t new, but it will mature in 2017 as we see brands not only partnering with digital savvy Snapchatters and YouTubers but co-creating original content that can’t be found anywhere else.

Blockchain
What Uber did for on-demand auto transformation Blockchain promises to do for financial transactions. And with $1.4 billion in venture-capital money in the past three years, 24 countries investing in Blockchain technology for government services, 90-plus central banks engaged in related discussions, and 10 percent of global GDP to be traded via Blockchain technology by 2025-2027, it is important that marketers understand the potential implications for their business. We believe Blockchain technology will be a part of The Next Great Flattening and removal of middle-layer institutions.

B2B
Under increasing pressure to demonstrate tangible ROI on marketing and communications investments, business-to-business brands continue to adopt techniques including account based marketing, or ABM, marketing automation and advanced targeting. In 2017, we see B2B marketers aggressively moving away from basic awareness metrics toward identity-based KPIs that attribute high funnel marketing activities to downstream sales engagements and revenue generation. While some B2B brands will continue to experiment with emerging consumer-oriented technologies and platforms, we believe ROI pressure will lead marketers to seize ownership of the overall customer experience and create strategic alignment across marketing, communications, sales and IT.

Sizzle meets steak: balancing what works today with what will work tomorrow
There will be no shortage of steak or sizzle in 2017. As influencer marketing for example matures, brands will measure it with the same rigor applied to traditional, or “tradigital,” media. Content that has largely become a commodity for brands and consumers will strive to dazzle us in multiple dimensions, seeking to stand apart from the crowd.

For marketers and brand managers, our remit is clear—we must master both the shiny and the substantial as part of our everyday roles and responsibilities. 2017 will be a year when we are tested on both fronts: being able to execute what we know works today with what we believe will work tomorrow.

During The Holidays The Consumer Is At Your Fingertips – Be Fun, Be Colorful, Be Interesting

Reach out and touch your holiday shopper!  Increases in Content Sharing, e-Shopping Help Brands Reach More Buyersshutterstock_339813557

Because of consumers’ increased online shopping, media consumption and social sharing, marketers and communicators have one of their best opportunities yet to reach more potential buyers during the 2016 holiday season, according to new research from data-driven marketing tech firm RadiumOne. The company recently released the results of its Holiday Consumer Behavior Data Report, highlighting how retailers can capitalize on online consumer behaviors during the holiday season.

In fact, the report found that connected devices play an important role in holiday research and shopping, with more than a third of gift givers researching or buying presents online. It also revealed that media consumption increases significantly during the holidays, as most consumers will spend more time online, watch more TV and go to the movies more often. Additionally, one in three consumers will share more content during the holidays than the rest of the year, with 82 percent of all online holiday sharing activity coming from dark social channels such as email, instant messaging and text messaging.

“Consumers are spending a significant portion of their time online, which has created billions of data points that help marketers identify and predict interest and intent,” said Bill Lonergan, CEO at RadiumOne, in a news release. “Because consumers spend an increased amount of time online during the holiday season, retailers can increase the likelihood of acquiring new customers by aligning their strategy to what consumers are doing. By engaging consumers through all channels, marketers can maximize their holiday shopping campaigns, allowing their dollars to go further.”

SHOPPING HABITS

The report dove into consumers’ shopping habits during the holiday season and revealed that 38 percent of consumers will research and purchase presents online, with only 8 percent of consumers reporting that they will research and shop exclusively in-store. However, 28 percent of gift givers wait until the final month to start planning for holiday gifts, with 5 percent waiting until the final week.

The study also found that 29 percent of online shoppers will use multiple devices for shopping and research. Desktop was the most common device used (37 percent), followed by tablet (15 percent) and mobile (12 percent).

MEDIA CONSUMPTION HABITS

Findings from this report discovered almost half of consumers will spend more time online during the holiday season. Where consumers increase their time on devices the most television (59 percent) tablets (53 percent) and smartphones (53 percent).

SOCIAL SHARING HABITS

The research found 72 percent of consumers share content online during the holidays.

The research found 72 percent of consumers share content online during the holidays. The most commonly shared content includes festive pictures (65 percent), festive videos (49 percent) and gift ideas (45 percent). The majority of sharing happens through dark social, compared to only 8 percent on Facebook, 3 percent on Twitter and 7 percent on other channels.

Not surprisingly, sharing activity on Black Friday and Cyber Monday is twice as high as the average for the rest of the holiday season.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Through its findings, RadiumOne identified three primary methods for marketers to maximize their marketing promotions during this busy time of year:

  • Understand consumers’ holiday shopping behaviors: Know the importance that smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops play in both researching and purchasing holiday gifts
  • Increase promotions across all screens: While TV advertising is certainly effective during the holidays, marketers cannot ignore the increased media consumption on smartphones, tablets and other devices
  • Deliver holiday content that consumers will want to share: Make it easy for consumers to share pictures, videos, gift ideas and other festive content

The report looked at the online activities of 1,000 consumers who celebrate the holidays.

Source: PR Newswire; edited by Richard Carufel

It’s Spooky – But True! Halloween Is The Latest “IT” Holiday For Marketers

shutterstock_154500236Huge Halloween Brand Opportunities: Holiday Spending to Reach $8.4 Billion, Highest in NRF Survey History – Pets and People Go Big For This Fun Holiday

Is Your Brand On Pinterest?  It’s the Top Influencer for All Things Halloween

Americans are looking forward to splurging on their favorite candy and costumes this Halloween season, and brand PR and marketers are poised to take advantage of the biggest black-and-orange holiday opportunities on record—according to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, total spending for Halloween is expected to reach $8.4 billion, an all-time high in the survey’s history.

U.S. consumers are expected to spend an average of $82.93, up from last year’s $74.34, with more than 171 million Americans planning to partake in Halloween festivities this year.

“After a long summer, families are excited to welcome the fall season celebrating Halloween,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay, in a news release. “Retailers are preparing for the day by offering a wide variety of options in costumes, decorations and candy, while being aggressive with their promotions to capture the most out of this shopping event.”

According to the survey, consumers plan to spend $3.1 billion on costumes (purchased by 67 percent of Halloween shoppers), $2.5 billion on candy (94.3 percent), $2.4 billion on decorations (70 percent) and $390 million on greeting cards (35.4 percent).

When it comes to preparation, 71 percent of consumers plan to hand out candy, decorate their home or yard (49 percent), dress in costume (47 percent), carve a pumpkin (46 percent), throw or attend a party (34 percent), take their children trick-or-treating (30 percent), visit a haunted house (21 percent) or dress their pet(s) in costume (16 percent).

Searching for the perfect costume inspiration will lead consumers to sources such as online (35 percent) and in-store (29 percent). Social media is the fastest-growing influencer for the perfect costume, particularly Pinterest(17 percent), which has seen 133 percent growth since 2012. Some other places for inspiration include friends/family (19 percent), Facebook (17 percent), pop culture (16 percent) and print media (14 percent).

“Consumers are eager to celebrate Halloween, especially given that eight in 10 Americans will shop by mid-October. That is the highest we have seen in the survey history,” said Prosper Insights principal analyst Pam Goodfellow, in the release. “Americans will enjoy taking advantage of early-bird promotions both online and in-store as they kick off the fall season.”

When it comes to where consumers will shop for the season, 47 percent of shoppers will visit discount stores to buy their Halloween-related items this year and 36 percent will visit a specialty Halloween/costume store, up from 33 percent last year. In addition, 26 percent of customers will visit grocery stores/supermarkets, 23 percent will visit department stores and 22 percent will shop online.

The survey asked 6,791 consumers about Halloween shopping plans. It was conducted September 6-13 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.

Source: Business Wire; edited by Richard Carufel

Clicking Heels Not Required – Are you thinking from all sides?

Sometimes it’s the small things that make a big difference.  In this case – a few ideas for using the ceiling and floor to promote your brand.ruby red heels

This week I saw an eye-catching printed floor mat that told me how to get where I was going, and then later in the same mall in California, saw another printed floor mat that encouraged me to head to the food court – advice I happily took.  Talk about bringing traffic!

Custom floor signageToday came an email from a vendor selling these custom printed mats and I thought WOW – I should share this.  According to the Post Up website they come in small, medium and large sizes and their turnaround is 48 hours for beautiful four color mats.

My hairdresser also has signage in under-utilized places, in this case on the ceiling above the shampoo areas.  Why not?  My dentist has a mobile over his chair with information from a vendor.

Are you thinking from all sides?

Maybe add your Twitter handle and web address to the design?  Great for selfies!

Consider the floors and ceiling and unusual places – might be innovative and impact business on the spot.  Clicking heels not required!

Have you heard the one about the publicist and the airline pilot?

 

Years ago I heard a great line… “What is the difference between an airline pilot and a publicist?”  Answer:  Pilots experience long periods of calm and short periods of panic.  Life for a publicist is the reverse.   So true!  Today I found this great article by Kim Green in Fast Company that takes this analogy to a much more helpful place … 3 lessons from a pilot about crisis management.Airline pilot

3 THINGS PILOTS KNOW ABOUT CRISIS MANAGEMENT

WHEN IT’S JUST YOU AND YOUR CRAFT AT 5,000 FEET, WHAT MATTERS MOST IS EXPERIENCE.

The day I passed the flight test and earned my private pilot’s license more than 20 years ago, I was a safe and competent aviator, but not yet a good one. That would come a few years later, after I became a flight instructor and logged a few thousand hours teaching rookie flyers how to land in stiff crosswinds, navigate by instruments in dismal weather, and prepare for in-flight emergencies.

Watching my students struggle and learn, I came to appreciate how much talent and hard work matter. But when it’s just you and your craft at 5,000 feet, what matters most is experience, especially when the weather turns inclement or the engine goes quiet. You can be a whiz at aerodynamics and know your equipment like an engineer, but it’s how you react when everything goes wrong that shows what kind of pilot you really are.

Business leaders face down everything from PR headaches to financial crises, and sometimes even threats to health and human life within their organizations. You can bring your A game to the boardroom and know your industry inside and out, but if you’ve never handled a major emergency, it’s hard to know how well you’ll fare when your first one hits.

That’s why pilots are trained in crisis management. We’re taught to think through a range of potential mishaps, memorize checklists, and plot courses of action in advance. Executives can do the same. You can never foresee every crisis, but if you plan for the worst, you’ll be ready for action—and you won’t be stuck winging it.

airline blog 31. EMERGENCY CHECKLISTS MATTER WHEN IT COUNTS

As I descended toward the runway in my instructor Volker’s twin Apache one night, I noticed something troubling: The green nose-wheel light wasn’t illuminating.

Seated beside me, Volker didn’t panic. For the next hour, he calmly proceeded with the flight lesson. We reviewed gear-failure procedures and tried to force the nose wheel to lock down. When that failed, we turned toward Nashville’s international airport and declared an emergency.

The final moments of that flight were strangely lovely—the flash of fire truck lights, sparks shooting by as we touched down and the nose cone ground a line down the runway centerline.

My instructor had performed a masterful emergency landing. We slid down the wing, not even a scratch. I was in awe of him. Throughout the “lesson,” I’d followed his lead. He appeared confident and unruffled, so I concluded that this situation called for deliberate action, not for fear. And because we had practiced the procedures for a gear failure emergency so many times, we knew just what to do when it actually happened.

Most organizations don’t like to dwell on negative eventualities. But imagine the alternative: Your VP’s thoughtless tweet goes viral; there’s a hostile takeover on the horizon; or far worse, the firm’s container ship sinks—and you have no idea what to do next.

As a company leader, people look to you in a crisis. It’s your responsibility to keep calm and lead, but that’s never entirely a matter of gut instinct. It takes rational forethought. Think through possible emergency situations and make a checklist for the first few steps you’d take. Those first steps can quiet your mind enough to get it busy solving the problem. If you have a plan, you’ll know what to do. And knowing what to do keeps fear and paralysis at bay.

2. “FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT” DOESN’T MEAN WHAT YOU THINK

Several years later, I had my turn at the helm during an emergency. As my student flew us back to our home airport one afternoon, my Cessna 172’s engine went down about 12 miles out. We’d thrown a valve and were running on partial power. My heart rate accelerated to match the irregular churn of the wounded engine, but my mind stayed quiet. “I’ve got the plane,” I told my student. We declared an emergency and turned toward the nearest airport.

The engine carried us there, unhurt and—at least in my student’s case—unruffled. He told me later he hadn’t felt afraid. “You had control of the situation,” he said.

He’d been watching me for cues. Because I didn’t seem frightened, he’d felt safe. Of course I was on edge, and for good reason. But I had a checklist to turn to and two people’s safety to look out for. There was no time for panic.

To most people, “fake it till you make it” means feigning competence until you’ve actually gained it. But overconfidence is almost never useful, especially in an emergency. Instead, confidence should equal ability. Pretending to know what you’re doing to fool your colleagues and employees into thinking you’ve got it under control won’t help you manage the problem. But if you do know what you’re doing, pretending you aren’t afraid can help see you it through with a steady hand.

3. YOU CAN ELIMINATE SOME SURPRISES AND PLAN AHEAD FOR OTHERS

I once took a two-day spin-training course with a well-known aerobatics instructor. The first time we stalled and spun his little Cessna 152, my stomach lurched. As the sky disappeared and farm fields rotated in the windshield, my brain went into chaos mode. But by the end of the course, I could calmly count the number of turns as we spun, and I’d even started to enjoy the ride.

I’m neither an especially calm person nor a thrill-seeker. But what helped me keep my cool as the altimeter spiraled down was the knowledge of what was coming. The instructor had prepared me for how we would enter the spin, what the instruments would read while we spun, and how we’d recover. After a few practice runs, I actually felt more curious than queasy.

It’s not that pilots are born preternaturally calm in the face of danger; it’s that we review emergency procedures so many times that they come to seem almost routine. Pilots don’t like surprises, but we learn to be ready for them.

Most of the time, flying isn’t nearly as exciting as people think. That’s why, during the routine, blue-sky moments when the engine thrums with health, a good pilot is busy planning what might happen within the next hundred miles or before reaching the destination—and imagining what she’d do, just in case something goes wrong.

Fade to calm …. 

Sports Marketing – How It Impacts Tourism and Us

Last week I moderated a panel of some of the sharpest sports marketing minds in the business, what a blast.

The event was held in the beautifully redone Citrus Bowl in Orlando as it was being readied for the Florida State University (FSU) Spring Game.  This was the first time FSU had ever held this game off-campus, and was doing so because their own stadium was being renovated.  But guess what?  FSU only expected the usual 25,000 or so, and by yesterday they had already sold nearly 40,000 tickets.  Best of all the City of Orlando was a big winner too.

This was the perfect message to open the panel discussion yesterday, in front of a large crowd of tourism industry leaders and students from the Hospitality program at the University of Central Florida.

Titled:  What Is The Value of Destination-Specific Sports Marketing?  the panel explored not only the value, but the huge impact this kind of marketing is making in tourism dollars, and it’s growing.

Panelists included: (left to right:  Poole, Kelley, Robicheaux, Dowdy and Hogan)

IMG_2588IMG_2592 Citrus Bowl Apr 2016

 

 

Faron Kelley, ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World who gave us great insight into how sports is part of the overall mix to bring groups to Walt Disney World, especially in slow and shoulder periods.  Kelley said the Disney focus on customer experience is as relevant in sports as it is in the parks.

Courtney Robicheaux who is with the Orange County Convention Center said groups like the AAU and even Wrestlemania fill the convention center with energy and support the hotels, restaurants and other businesses in Orlando by assuring the Convention Center is fully maximized year around.

John Poole is with the Kissimmee Sports Commission and his area, in Osceola County is expanding the use of current sporting facilities, upgrading others and looking to build more.  John says his sports marketing efforts filled more than 40,000 hotel room nights last week – that is more than some small cities!

Megan Dowdy is the founder of The AutoNation Cure Bowl, held in the Citrus Bowl, this event gives Orlando’s Citrus Bowl the title of the only city with 3 annual bowl games.  Megan spoke of her journey as a young professional and a woman, maneuvering for this game in the business side of football.  The event supports finding a cure for cancer.  Megan says there is no better feeling than handing a check to a nonprofit working to find a cure.

Steve Hogan is the CEO of Florida Citrus Sports, the management company that produces the bowl games in Orlando, and other events including our annual parade.  John talked passionately about how his organization, and others, are giving back to the established neighborhoods around the Citrus Bowl to improve their levels of education, housing, safety and jobs.

Sports marketing is flying high and making a big difference for our communities and our lives.  Next time you travel to see your favorite team, know that a whole team of smart minds made your trip a pleasure and they hope you come back again soon!

 

 

 

Digital marketing is now marketing in a digital world

If we live in a digital world, then our marketing must be digital … simple.

98 Percent of Marketers Say Online and Offline Marketing Are Merging, Gartner Study Finds

Digital marketing is now mainstream, and digital commerce is a top priority for marketers, according to a survey of marketing executives by IT research and advisory firm Gartner. The survey also found that marketing budgets increased 10 percent in 2015, with 61 percent of respondents saying they expect budgets to increase again in 2016. “Marketers no longer make a clear distinction between offline and online marketing disciplines,” said Yvonne Genovese, group vice president at Gartner. “As customers opt for digitally led experiences, digital marketing stops being a discrete discipline and instead becomes the context for all marketing.

“The rise in digital commerce is an opportunity for marketers,” said Jake Sorofman, research vice president at Gartner.

“There was a time when marketing and selling were two distinct disciplines. In many cases, digital merges these two into a single, continuous activity from initial awareness, through engagement, conversion, transaction and repeat purchase. Marketers can now tie spend to revenue. In fact, it’s becoming a mandate.”

Two main factors are driving marketers’ interest in digital commerce: the need to point to tangible results from marketing investments, and the recognition that companies need more than a commerce platform to sell. In the past, we’ve seen digital commerce operations wholly disconnected from the marketing engine. Today, we’re seeing integration between marketing and digital commerce as two parts of a single discipline, where marketers bring everything from content marketing and brand storytelling to advanced analytics and multichannel campaign management to optimize digital commerce across channels.

As CMOs face the digital transition, the survey showed that overall marketing budgets are on the rise. This year, 61 percent of respondents said that marketing spending will be, on average, 11 percent of company revenue, up from 10 percent of company revenue last year. That one percentage point change represents a sizable increase—10 percent, year over year—in marketing spend.

“Bigger budgets, however, come with sizable expectations,” said Sorofman. “Marketing is expected to drive profitable growth through the acquisition, retention and expansion of the most valuable customer relationships. As customer buying journeys and customer expectations expand, so, too, does marketing’s scope of responsibility.

As a result, the marketing remit now often includes driving broad-mandate customer experience, digital commerce and innovation initiatives.”

Thanks to Richard Carufel who edited this for Bulldog Reporter

What Happens When Your News Lands On A Newspaper’s Front Page? Great Things!

PR leading the band Nov 2015Usually we think of bad news landing on the front pages of our daily newspapers – and usually you are right.  However every once in a while a story makes its way to right editor on the perfect news day and even though it is good news – lands on the front page.

If your news is in the upper right hand location of a print page, you are in the best possible place for readership.

Anywhere on the front page, above the fold is your second best location.  Why?  Most of us are right handed and we tend to look at that location at least once when we scan the page for articles of interest, and then once more as we move to turn the page – it’s all about placement and getting noticed.

Very often, when your news lands on the front page, it is sent out on the newspaper.s syndicate wire so other newspapers in their system can pull stories of interest.  A front page article absolutely puts your news in other markets and at the top of search engines for a long time to come.

Naples Bay Resort Announces Agreement With Chef Art Smith F Oct 30 2015PR quote from Bill Gates

Case study – today I was happy to see one of my news announcements for a client made the upper right hand corner of the FRONT PAGE of the daily newspaper.  Wow that made my day because I knew what it meant going forward …. but I needed to explain to my client why a positive piece on the front page of his local paper should matter to him too.

Not only is the front page, and the upper right of the front page a big deal, but the fact that you can’t buy an ad on most front pages gives it even more value – more readers will read your story.

Did you know?  Editorial material gets 500% more readership than material that is obviously advertising?

Public relations is one of the most valuable tools any organization can have – it’s all about communication and the more people you reach the better your communication.PR is money

It is a great day here for my agency and my client, thank you for letting me share the reason for my “PR Joy!”.

Newspapers Expanding Into Marketing – Watch This Important Trend

DISRUPTIVE INNOVATION is the title of this piece by Steve Gray in the American Press Institute piece below.  With thanks to API – I am including this in my blog.
PR and marketing firms and corporate professionals have long known the value a journalist brings to our side of the business.  Most of us have journalism degrees and great respect for the intelligence and skills it takes to be a working journalist.  See below how the tables are turning and the press industry is seeing the value in using a marketing model.
This is an important trend to watch and I predict will change our business.
Disruptive Innovation

8 marketing services your news media company should offer local businesses

13 September 2015 · By Steve Gray

Traditional media needs to begin expanding its offerings with services that could include content marketing, promotions and events, and beacon solutions. Here’s why your company should embrace the “local marketing agency” model.

When your comfortable, well-established business model is being disrupted, one of the toughest challenges is looking beyond your old business model to visualize what you must become.

In past posts, one by one, I’ve pointed out a host of new opportunities that are emerging in local media markets. In this post, I’m going to roll them up into a single new business entity we can visualize and work to develop.

Metaphorically, you could say we used to dominate our markets with a burger-and-fries kind of business. The burger was the media channel we owned – the space in the newspaper or the air time on our television channel or radio station.

We sold the burger to almost all of our accounts. And we also tried to sell them some fries on the side – such as banner ads on our Web sites and other ancillary products and services. But really, it was all about the burger.

Today, our audiences are consuming vastly more kinds of media than ever before. They still like burgers, but they’re all over the Web consuming offerings we didn’t create and probably can’t. To reach their target audiences, the businesses in our markets need more than just our burgers and fries.

And, as I wrote in my last post, we’re living in a direct-access world now, where businesses need to deploy a wide range of solutions to speak directly to the consumer.

So, in the traditional media, we have a choice: We can stay focused on selling ever-shrinking orders of burgers and fries, or we can radically expand our offerings to become a one-stop marketing provider for local businesses.

In the bewildering profusion of digital and non-digital marketing techniques now available, each local business needs a coherent plan. Few have the time or savvy to work this out for themselves, so there’s a need for someone who understands the business and the market, and who knows how to deploy and coordinate the right solutions to reach the right potential customers.

That’s what I’m calling the “local marketing agency” model.

This graphic depicts this as a single store able to deliver a wide range of local marketing services. It’s not a newspaper or a radio or television station. It’s a group of sales people who understand a wide range of solutions, backed up by a set of fulfillment people to carry out the programs they sell.

I’ve written about most of these solutions before, so I won’t go into depth on them here. However, I’ll link to the posts where I’ve described them in more detail.

  1. Digital marketing solutions. These are the basic building blocks of a competent marketing and advertising program for any local business. More and more traditional media companies are now offering this cluster of services, often calling it a “digital agency” approach.
  2. Content marketing. A huge opportunity. In a direct-access world, a business can present its own case directly to consumers, using all kinds of media. But to do that, it needs to develop high-quality content and figure out how to get it in front of its most likely potential customers. It needs help with both of these tasks.
  3. E-commerce. Amazon and the big-box stores are selling huge amounts of inventory online, leaving local retailers in the dust.
  4. Business systems. A new wave of in-store point-of-sale systems is coming – systems that will capture customer data and make it usable for post-sale marketing. We could be the ones to offer them – and to supply the marketing expertise needed to capitalize on the data.
  5. Data services. Everybody talks about Big Data, but who helps local businesses figure out how to use it to increase their sales?
  6. Beacon solutions. I haven’t written about this new solution yet, as it still seems early in the development of powerful ways to use them for customer behavior tracking and customer communications. But as those become clearer, beacon services would be a natural fit among the solutions offered by a local marketing agency.
  7. Promotions and events. In-store traffic is declining fast, and we could be the ones to help local businesses figure out how to buck the trend with custom promotions and events in their stores.
  8. Recruitment services. Job listings are only the most basic need of an employer who’s trying to fill jobs. Employers want and need more sophisticated help, and a local marketing agency could provide it.

As this list shows, there’s no shortage of marketing sales opportunities in local markets. Lots of businesses have lots of needs we’re not meeting today.

No media company would want to tackle them all at once. Each one requires learning a whole new kind of business. But at Morris, we’re at various stages of progress on four of the eight.

A huge question in each case is should this be part of the core sales effort, or should it be separate?

With most of these opportunities, it would be foolish to think that the people currently selling our burgers and fries can take them on. In fact, they haven’t done all that well selling fries so far. In these new areas, there’s too much to learn; the technologies are too far removed from standard advertising solutions.

And we wouldn’t want to distract our current sales people from selling the burgers and fries.

That’s why I think we need to picture something like the graphic above – a separate, stand-alone agency under different leadership, with different skill sets and technologies. Not necessarily in another building, although that would probably help. However, we would probably want to keep the agency under the umbrella of our well-known local brand, to provide credibility.

Within that agency, the best structure would be much like a traditional ad agency. That is, having account reps on the street (or on the phone) with good knowledge of the solutions we’re offering, backed up at the office by subject-matter experts on each of the solutions.

That way, the experts can help the reps fashion the right program for each business. And the agency could help the core sales reps present these new solutions to advertisers who are buying burgers and fries.

Many media markets probably are too small for that structure. But in the first opportunity on the list above – digital marketing solutions – vendors have emerged to provide turnkey back-end services to support small-market local sales reps.
Some of those vendors already offer e-commerce and content marketing. If local media companies start selling other solutions on the list, maybe they will diversify to support those, too.

The bottom line is, once you take off the blinders of our old burgers-and-fries business, it’s clear that the businesses in our markets need and want lots of other kinds of solutions. They will buy them from someone – why not us?