10 Things To Do Today

November 30, 2012 on 10:13 am | In Advertising, Harry Hoover, Lead Generation, LinkedIn, Marketing, Media Relations, My Creative Team, Networking, New Business, Public Speaking, Social Media | No Comments

Sometimes we become paralyzed because there seems to be so many things we could and should be doing to market our companies. Longtime readers know I’m typically a strategy first guy, but sometimes you just need to do something to get  things rolling. So, here are 10 easy marketing ideas you can start on today:

1. Plan a speech

2. Start a marketing calendar, listing all of your scheduled events in categories like advertising, direct mail, networking

3. Write 10 thank you notes and send them to your best customers. Repeat weekly.

4. Review your LinkedIn profile (you do have one, right?) to make sure it is complete.

5. Connect with me on LinkedIn

6.  Write articles and place them on EzineArticles.com

7.  Write a press release. See my article: 33 Reasons To Do A News Release

8. Read a marketing book

9.  Endorse someone on LinkedIn

10. Read my series on New Business

How To Plan For Issue Management And Successfully Engage The Marketplace

March 28, 2012 on 10:55 pm | In communication, issues management, Media Relations, PR, Public Relations | 1 Comment

Photo credit: maxstraeten from morguefile.com

Earlier in this series we talked about the life cycle of and issue, which moves through four distinct stages.  Additionally, in our previous post, we defined an issue as a trend with the capacity to alter how your company operates as the trend  evolves. Here’s a prime example:

Of late the “pink slime” issue has been plaguing the beef producers of America, not to mention retailers and eateries that sell or serve ground beef. Primarily, Beef Products, Inc., the maker of “pink slime,” happens to be the whipping boy for this media migraine, which has garnered national media attention. Before pink slime became beef filler edible for human consumption, it was used in dog food. After the maker of this by-product sanitized it with ammonia gas, it began using the substance in the ground beef you and I eat.

When the controversy hit mainstream media, “Two former scientists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture who reviewed the product advised against using it in ground beef and told ABC News that it was not the same as ground beef,” according to Scott Van Camp, writing for PR News.

Now that grocery stores and eateries are beginning to push back, change their buying habit in light of public dissent and the potential of losing business, Beef Products, Inc. is being forced to change its game. This is a prime example of how an organization failed to manage an issue before it changed the course of its operations and tarnish its brand along the way.  But you don’t have to manage issues like this company. Do it differently.

Although managing issues can be hard work, you can’t afford not to, especially with the proliferation of social media. Today, issue cycles move fast, very fast sometimes, and with social media messages move lightening fast. Don’t let this happen to you. Here’s a four-step process to help you manage issues effectively for your business:

  1. Planning. In this stage of issue management, it is important to watch media and government regulators to identify trends that may affect you business or industry. In this stage you will also analyze these to determine which phase they are in, and which engagement strategy is appropriate to address the trend. You will also want to determine a goal and objectives to support the strategy and document the current status of the issue.
  2. Creation. After you have determined the strategy, set goals and objectives, its time to begin developing the messaging behind your strategy. In other words, during the creation stage, its important to understand what you will speak into the issue and to whom you will be engaging.
  3. Execution.  This is the issue action program portion of this four-step process. This where you engage the issue in the marketplace of public opinion. Depending on the strategic approach your company outlined, you may use newspaper editorials like EXXON did in the 70’s to manage the oil embargo crisis. Or, you may use social media to engage a grassroots approach to manage issues through a groundswell. Your strategy should drive the execution.
  4. Evalution. While this is technically the final stage of issue management, it may not be the end of the process. As an issue develops conditions change. This stage is designed to measure the effectiveness of your efforts. The key measurement is to evaluate the conditions now with the conditions at the beginning of the engagement. If change is favorable, but not optimal, you may want to revisit the planning stage and tweak your strategy.

The goal of issue management is the attempt to shape the outcome of the issue before it becomes a crisis, such as the pink slime case. You want to control the issue, if it can be, for the sake of honoring your stakeholders, your company and the community it affects.

Previous posts in our series:

How To Manage Issues Before They Become A Crisis

What Is The Life Cycle Of An Issue?

What’s The Difference Between An Issue, A Crisis & An Emergency?

About The Author: This is the fourth in a series of articles on issues management from our digital colleague, Rodger D. Johnson, who is a social media public relations counselor. He helps global companies, small businesses, and non-profits use public relations and social media strategies to strengthen brand equity. You can learn more about him at Get Social PR

Media Continues Self Destruction

August 29, 2011 on 1:07 pm | In Media, Media Relations, News, Newspapers, PR, Print Media, Public Relations, radio, TV | No Comments

Photo credit: Grafixar from morguefile.com

The US media aren’t trusted by Americans, and the self destruction continued this weekend with the incessant drumbeat of impending doom ahead of so-called Hurricane Irene. As Kendall Allen tells us in her piece Fools In Raincoats,

I was not at all helped along by the sensationalized, character-driven coverage on the major networks and even on the Weather Channel. In all these segments, the slapstick reporter standing IN the surf getting hammered was the story. Does that not break some journalistic principle: thou must not make oneself the story?

I saw video of one reporter excitedly talking about the wind and rain, that obviously was light. I’m sure his producer had told him to hype it up. When I was a reporter back in the 20th Century, we were told to cover the story as it was. No editorializing, no hyperbole. That day, sadly, appears to be gone.

Untrustworthy mainstream media are looking for something – anything – that will bring back their days of dominance.  This was not their finest hour. It was clear before the storm hit the NC coast, that the weakened hurricane was not on the order of 1989’s Hugo. As Irene moved up the coast, it brought a lot of rain and produced serious flooding, but she just couldn’t live up to the hype. Poor Anderson Cooper was clearly disappointed that NY was not about to be wiped out.

I am not saying that there was no responsible coverage of the storm. But the national broadcast and cable networks did not cover themselves in glory. Like the dinosaurs they are, today’s media outlets are one meteor strike away from extinction. Let’s hope some agile mammal is in the wings to take their place.

Did you see any responsible coverage? Wade in to the conversation, but watch out for that deadly hurricane-driven surf.

Creativity 2011 – Week #34

August 22, 2011 on 4:03 pm | In Advertising, Brainstorming, Creative, Creativity, Innovation, Marketing, Media Relations | 1 Comment

creative ad agency

9 Ways To Keep Innovation Alive In Your Organization – When your company has an existing, proven method of conducting business, it can be a struggle to keep innovation alive.

How Good Stress Breeds Creativity – Those of us in the trenches know a little “good stress” can actually help boost creativity and innovation.

Failing To Innovate While Surrounded By Ideas – We have an inexhaustible source of creativity, ideas and innovation, which if applied correctly can create solutions to many challenges.

How To Thrive In A World Of Elusive Creativity – Very few companies actually know how to develop, retain, and unleash creativity to drive their business.

Clever Bench Advertising – Interesting ads on public benches.

Generate Your Own Infographics

July 20, 2011 on 8:59 am | In Content Marketing, Creative, Marketing, Media Relations, My Creative Team, Public Relations | No Comments

Above is an infographic generated using Visual.ly, a service that allows users to create their own infographics. These visual representations of data are a great marketing and public relations tool. Are you using them in your marketing and PR?

Here are a few infographic resources you may want to investigate.

Use Infographics To Kill Press Releases

Daily Infographic

The Infographics Showcase

Bad PR Firm, Naughty PR Firm

May 12, 2011 on 4:33 pm | In Media, Media Relations, PR, Public Relations | No Comments

Well, here we go again. You’ll remember back in 2006 when Edelman PR was caught flogging for client Wal-Mart . It seems that we have another PR debacle. There now are stories about Facebook hiring PR firm Burson-Marstellar to discredit Google in the press.

As we say in the South: that just ain’t right. Robert Noltenmeier, Clinical Assistant Professor of Public Relations and Corporate Communications at the New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies, agrees.

Noltenmeier claims that Google’s slogan,

“Do no evil,” certainly applies in this case—but to Facebook not Google.  Regrettably, this issue is another example of a public relations firm—and a leading one at that—behaving unethically and reinforcing the perception and stereotype that public relations is sinister and misleading. This action violates the profession’s codes of ethics, from PRSA to the Arthur Page Society to IABC. A firm like Burson-Marsteller, whose namesake, Harold Burson, PRWeek called “the century’s most influential PR figure,” certainly should apply PR ethical principles. This incident likely will damage the firm’s and the profession’s reputations because of the public’s renewed distrust of both of them.

As for Facebook, given its alleged sketchy origins as described in “The Social Network, ” its founder’s gratuitous PR efforts—the Newark, N.J., education donation timing and amount—and its frequent user-privacy issues, this incident once again raises the question of its business practices. It will likely affect Facebook’s reputation, as the Wal-Mart-Edelman false blog posts did in 2006.

According to Noltenmeier, this incident also shows how social media businesses, no matter how free, democratic and popular, fundamentally work like traditional businesses: it’s all about beating the competition, attracting and retaining customers and boosting revenue. Like traditional businesses, social media firms must follow ethical business practices—and in their case ethical privacy practices—or suffer reputational damage and business losses.

He is dead on. What do you think?

Addendum: Facebook says no smear was intended.

Playing Both Sides Of The Table

February 16, 2011 on 4:58 pm | In Blogs, content development, Content Marketing, Journalism, Media Relations, PR, Public Relations | 2 Comments

Editor’s Note: this is a guest article from Danny Wong, who manages Media Relations for Blank Label Group, and he helped to co-found the group’s startups Blank Label, Thread Tradition, and RE:custom. He’s also played on the other side of the table writing for outlets like the HuffingtonPost, ReadWriteWeb and TheNextWeb.

How to Become a Member of the Media & Play on Both Sides of the Table

The marketers that have adapted to the times are the ones that are empathetic to all parties when it comes to messaging, meaning the businesses and their customers, the sponsors and their audience, and especially the companies and the media. Marketers that look to leverage the media in more creative ways than the out-dated press release have decided to join the ranks of the writers and have learned to appreciate the media more, understanding how they could better handle their interactions with the media.

Marketers Become Bloggers

In marketing, one of the hotter trends is strategic content creation for the purposes of education, engagement and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). But when marketers become the content creators, they start to understand some of the basic principles of writing, which include knowing your audience and creating relevant and useful content for them. With those principles in mind, they’re more careful in how they pitch the media to try to garner stories and attention for their business, making sure, more often than not, that their pitching a writer whose audience would appreciate the reading the story.

Marketers Join the Media

After marketers establish their business’ blog with build credibility with quality content, they can be considered “thought leaders” in their space, giving them leverage, making it easier for them to then start writing for niche blogs. Then after building a writing portfolio, they can move onto write with more established websites and news outlets to further demonstrate their extensive knowledge for the industry they work in, adding more credibility for their business since external contributors are always afforded a nice little byline to plug their bio including detail about their associated companies.

It’s All About Networking

So after getting yourself established as a thought leader through your business’ blog, then writing posts with niche blogs, and then authoring stories on more established and widely read publications, you become connected with the influentials in the media who are more receptive to you because you’re “one of them.” Of course, you try to stay very professional, making sure your efforts to grow your business don’t interfere with you contributing value to the publications you write for. But you will have valuable connections that will be more willing to help you in growing your business because of the relationships you have. There will also certainly be disclosures noting your association with a publication if they decide to publish an editorial story on you, but in most cases, that’s purely just standard practice and readers enjoy the story nonetheless.

Getting Better at PR

While now you’ll have all this established credibility and a stronger network, you’ll also have improved your communication skills with the media because as a writer yourself, you’ll know how to craft better messages to get your point across and sell the better points vs. the weaker ones. As mentioned earlier, you will be more empathetic to what audiences want to hear and what writers write about, so you’ll know how to craft stories to be relevant in a pitch for a writer, and when it’s at all appropriate to pitch a story.

Content Focused

December 16, 2010 on 1:20 pm | In Advertising, Blogs, content development, Content Marketing, Creative, Creativity, Media Relations, PR, Social Media, twittering journalists | 4 Comments

Blog content

Blogging experts often tell you to hyperfocus on a topic if you want to build a following. We have been thinking a lot recently about our blog’s content. (We’d love your thoughts, as well. So, feel free to jump in.)

As you know, we write about creativity, marketing, advertising, PR, social media strategy and tactics, and throw in a little self-improvement for good measure. That’s sort of broad, don’t you think?

Until we took a close look at the Analytics, we thought so, too. But we’re beginning to think that – after five years – this approach may have staying power.

Our home page gets the most traffic, but when we drill down to top landing pages, we find something interesting.

From a categorical perspective, our top 6 landing pages are:

  1. Creativity (Self Improvement)
  2. Social Media (Blogging)
  3. Advertising
  4. Marketing (Self Improvement)
  5. Social Media (Blogging)
  6. PR (Journalists on Twitter)

What do you think? Are we too broad? Are there topics you’d like to see us give more focus in 2011? We would love to hear from you.

Forgotten Gems

August 16, 2010 on 3:36 pm | In Brand, Branding, Customer Retention, Customer Service, Journalism, Media, Media Relations, My Creative Team, New Business, New Business Primer, News | 2 Comments

Undiscovered Gems

Through no fault of their own, sometimes really good posts just get overlooked. Here are a few forgotten gems you may have missed.

Grandma Says –  Southern grandmothers have often said, “there are only three times a respectable person’s name should be in the paper: when you are born, when you are married, and when you die.” This is the one area in which I part company with my grandmothers.

Brand Euthanasia –  Some brands should be allowed to die, or if that fails, then we owe it to them to kill them.

New Business Tip: Do Great Work For Current Clients -My marketing mentor, Bill Loeffler, once said the the best new business program is doing great work for current clients. He was right.

The Value Of Connections – As we have discussed before, the value of connections in business cannot be underestimated. I’m talking primarily about tight connections that you use ruthlessly to help you achieve your personal and professional goals.

To Market, To Market… –  What does buying a fat pig have to do with your business? Stick with me and all will be revealed.

Top 5 PR Posts

July 9, 2010 on 9:45 am | In audience, communication, Journalism, Media, Media Relations, PR, Public Relations | 1 Comment

Our PR-related posts are among the most well-read. So, I thought we’d bring to the forefront some evergreen features on PR.  Now, let’s review.

Communications Planning 101 – Developing a communications plan requires a disciplined approach. Your first order of business is reviewing your current program for impact and efficiency.

How To Be A Great Radio Guest – Radio – despite changes in media habits – still is a great way to get in front of a lot of people. As a radio talk show guest on a national program, millions could hear your message.

Pithy Pitches – Your painstakingly crafted email pitch is completely customized and ready to send to the in box of that carefully targeted reporter. There it goes! Did you hear that? That was your email pitch being deleted.

Six Tips For Perfect Email Pitches – Your media pitches can go straight over the plate. With a little forethought, and a few tips, you can throw fewer balls and more media relations strikes.

Slow Day? Create News –  Sometimes there seems to be no client news worthy of coverage. That’s when the savvy PR pro digs deep into the old bag of tricks and pulls out one of these ideas to perk things up.

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