PR Formula Made Simple

What, exactly, is public relations? Throughout my career, this has to be one of the most misunderstood tactics I perform. To many I have spoken, “PR” is this nebulous service that is hard to define. Is it journalism? No, but one should be able to write for journalists if in PR. Is it publicity – Notice or attention given to someone or something by the media, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary? In a sense, yes. However, my definition strives to include more.

Public Relations is the art of building brand awareness through building reputation.

I have known Ken Hitchner, current public relations and social media director for the talented folks at Creative Marketing Alliance, for several years. We have worked together off and on in our career and he defines PR very simply:

Reputation + Relationships = Revenue

The goal for any marketing or public relations campaign should be to increase revenue. I cover how to measure the return on your marketing investment (MROI) here.

So, if the goal is to increase revenue, it is imperative you develop relationships with your target audience. Generally speaking, people purchase from people and/or brands they like. True, they may be swayed by other factors like price, but do you really want to build your business strategy on being the lowest priced? It makes better business sense to build brand loyalty, allowing price to not be the most important factor.

This brings us back to relationships and building your brand. If people purchase from brands they like, then who do people like? While the answer varies wildly, an underlying element usually includes trust. It is safe to agree, few people like what they do not trust.

Which circles back to reputation. Without a reputation you can trust, it is highly unlikely you will earn relationships with your target audience. And, without those relationships, it will be even more challenging to increase your revenue based on brand alone.

Third Party Influence
The question is, how does public relations build reputation? While paid advertising unquestionably has its place, the average consumer is bombarded with countless messages every day. These tend to be disruptive and it is widely understood the goal of the advertisements are to sell you something and, therefore, are biased. But, if your message is conveyed through a third party such as a news source, it tends to have more credibility and, if positive, will likely increase trust.

With so many different options, I will discuss best practices on how to produce a positive message through public relations Continue reading

How a Job Search is Just Like Dating

While I typically write about marketing, I thought I would take a pause from my current job search and offer this observation for your amusement. For clarity, I’m not single (sorry ladies). And, while this could apply to those seeking a new job while currently employed, I am saving the How a Job Search While Employed is Just Like Trying to Discreetly Have an Affair for those who know more about the topic than yours truly.

So, you have taken the plunge and are now back in the big wide dating pool. Perhaps it was by choice. Perhaps the choice was made for you. Nevertheless, here you are, ready to try something new.

But what will it be? You’ve done some soul-searching and, after evaluating previous experiences, have a better understanding of your type. Perhaps you are seeking a life-long commitment (but, does that even exist anymore like it did generations before?). Or, maybe you aren’t sure of what would be considered a good match and want to play the field and not be tied down, staying with someone for only months at a time (but secretly wondering if it will become serious at some point).

Well, there are many ways to find your match. While putting on your best outfit and simply getting out there and meeting someone cold could work, it is very time consuming physically going from place to place. Frankly, it can be a meat market.

So, it is time to turn to the internet. There are so many options. There are free services, paid services, professionals who act as matchmakers… But, to start, you should probably stick with the more popular free sites.

Your bio is key. While it is expected you will put your best face forward, it is considered a best practice to remain honest. Make sure to put your highlights at the top, because if you don’t grab them in the first few seconds, you may go to the bottom of the pile. If you are older, perhaps try Continue reading

Social Media Crisis Management Plan: Tips on How to Prepare and Execute

With United Airlines’ social media disaster going viral last week, many top executives are questioning what is the plan to avoid such an embarrassing public relations nightmare for their own company. Who is monitoring what people are saying about you and your business? And, what do you do when it is negative? What is your crisis management plan?

I spoke with Mike Moran, Senior Strategist at Converseon and author of “Do it Wrong Quickly,” who says it is essential to keep track of the chatter on the world wide web. “The first thing you need is awareness,” he said. “There are people out there who have something to say and they have many different ways to be heard.”

Blogs, Message Boards, Product Ratings… should all be tracked for any negative comments. “That can be challenging,” Moran admitted. “Once you understand the importance of listening to your audience, you need to develop a process to help you hear them.”

How to Be Aware of Potential Problems

To keep track of what is being said about your organization, I recommend implementing a Social Medial Monitoring (SMM) tool, also known as a listening platform. This allows you to monitor and track mentions of your brand, products and competitors. SMM tools provide many different ways to analyze, measure, display and report findings.

Some of the more popular SMMs: Continue reading

Ethics in Marketing – A Social Responsibility?

My Mass Communication professor climbed on to her desk, which seemed so small and far away in one of the large lecture halls at the University of Delaware. It was at that point Associate Professor Juliet Dee yelled something I will never forget. “If you remember one thing from this course,” she pleaded. “Watch television with your children!”

Her words did stick with me and I took them to heart while raising my own children years later. While at school, I did learn of all the studies done about the influence of media in our society. In fact, Professor Dee wrote books and gave lectures on the very subject and I wonder if she would be happy or disappointed with what I am about to say.

First, let me start by stating I believe media does influence both children and adults, both the developing minds and the most learned. If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t be in marketing, trying to influence behavior through different types of media. The shows and movies we watch, the books and advertisements we read, and the songs and presentations we listen to all make an impact, no matter how small.

Want an adorable example of young minds mirroring what they see? Watch these two toddlers act out their favorite scene from Frozen.

As a marketing professional most of my career, I have seen all sides… B2B, B2C, mass media, social media, print, digital, public relations, crisis management, direct mail, e-mail, events, promotions… the list goes on and on. Since I believe media influences thought and thoughts influence action, should I worry about what message I promote?

Fast-forward ten years after the lecture hall to my early career as an Account Executive at an advertising agency. My clients were new and used car dealerships throughout the country. I was responsible for over half a million dollars in media budget and produced radio, television and newspaper ads, as well as direct mail and other campaigns. Each state had it’s own laws and each required different ways to provide disclaimers. No doubt, you are used to hearing the low, fast talking disclaimers at the beginning or ending of radio spots or the fine print at the bottom of television and newspaper ads. Some of my accounts would really stretch those to the point I started to question my career choice.

During a long road trip with my boss, Continue reading

Measuring Marketing ROI Part 4 – Not “ROMI Made Easy”

Continuing a series of blogs on Measuring Marketing Return on Investment (ROI):

Measuring Marketing ROI – Why Marketing is Not an Expense
Measuring Marketing ROI Part 2 – Tips to Overcome Challenges
Measuring Marketing ROI Part 3 – Developing ROMI Revenue Metrics

Activity Metrics: Measuring the Marketing Details

Executive management may or not may not want to hear the details about which programs or campaigns deliver the best results, but your marketing team certainly does. After all, your day-to-day program execution – everything from email and social media to webinars and web site traffic – provides the insights that ultimately drives your strategic revenue-building efforts.

The metrics that you can extract from email campaigns, web analytics, webinar attendance and other sources are too numerous to go into here. Since websites are such a crossroads and anchor of many other marketing programs, I’ll look at some website metrics. But first, there are some general Activity Metrics measurement criteria that you can use:

Benchmarking Metrics

Marketers track a wide variety of day-to-day program activities because they are easy to measure. These include benchmarks such as:

  • Email marketing and enewsletter open, click-through and response rates
  • Web site visits and page views
  • Content asset downloads such as white papers or published news stories
  • Web site form completion and abandonment rates

These numbers can be very useful. If your email open rates begin declining from the historical rates you’ve previously captured, then it’s time to examine your email campaigns for potential problems. The same is true for web analytics, especially when you compare current data versus historical trends for page popularity and page abandonment rates.

Social media mentions, connections, “likes” and conversations are similar to other softer benchmarking metrics; you’re often comparing your metrics against your own historical data and searching for trends.

The key here, as with benchmarking metrics, is not to confuse social media success with bottom-line impact. It’s one thing to celebrate a record number of Twitter followers; it’s quite another to demonstrate just how those followers convert into leads, opportunities and revenue for an organization.

Measuring Your Brand Power

Back when I first got into marketing in the mid-90s, Chick-fil-A started their campaign “Eat Mor Chickin.” I remember driving on a highway in Atlanta with my new boss and remarking on this billboard and how clever I thought it was. I’ll never forget his response, “Does it make you want to go eat at Chick-fil-A?” He then explained the difference in branding and call to action advertising. In the previous blogs, we’ve talked about call-to-action. Measuring branding is a lot more challenging.

Your marketing investment seeks to accomplish two main goals: grow sales and build customer perceptions of quality service and best-in-class expertise in your brand.

But how do you measure the brand power of your marketing programs in the marketplace? Continue reading