Why Smart Professionals Invest in Marketing

June 25, 2010

Some businesses fall prey to the great idea of if we build it, they will come. No marketing necessary.

Typically this is the plight of organizations run by really smart and highly educated professionals like engineers or attorneys. They know they are really good and what they do. And they have a high expectation that prospects will recognize the value they deliver without any push in the right direction.

Unfortunately, sometimes your customers aren’t as smart as you are and they have to be taken by the hand and led to your great idea. By making the time to explain to them not just what you do but how what you do can make them successful, you’re educating your audience and building loyalty for your brand.

The more complex the subject matter, the greater the opportunity for the delivery of educational material. This education process can take place in many formats and forums besides the ones pushed out from your internal marketing department. Highly educated professionals are sough-after for public speaking and by-lined article contribution. But it takes a little investment in PR to secure these opportunities.

Successful operators will always be the ones that get out in front of their audience early, beating their competition to the punch. Besides, there’s nothing worse than losing business to a provider with less expertise who will ultimately do a mediocre job of satisfying your prospective customer.


Mother’s Day Publicity Stunt Done Well

May 12, 2009

In honor of Mother’s day, a local jewelry store held a contest where they invited students from area schools to write a letter explaining what made their mother special. The winners of the content would receive one of several 1/4 carat diamond pendants the store would be giving away.

The concept here is pretty basic but what the store did well was to connect with area schools. The contest wasn’t marketed broadly to everyone, just students from certain schools near their store. By focusing on those schools, they were guaranteed to reach people in their target geography — prospects who might actually shop at their store.  By encouraging the children to write an essay, they were able to connect with teachers and administrators trying to help elementary age children look for different ways to demonstrate their vocabulary and composition skills (essential components of their Language Arts curriculum).  And when it got close to decision making time, they were able to pitch their campaign to the local media (I saw the story as a CBS Cares feature on CBS 46) by leveraging the angle of the large number of kids who submitted essays (in the thousands).

Media love kids. Call it crazy but the visual of kids talking about their Mother’s day essay put this campaign over the top and helped the local jeweler to gain publicity far beyond his investment. His real costs were limited to the prizes. In actuality he and his staff spent an enormous amount of time creating, promoting and officiating the contest but the image, awareness and good will he received will pay handsome rewards for his business.

I regret that CBS 46 removed the video about this stunt from their website but I was able to locate documentation of a prior campaign: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ox2oq6LMP2Q.

New Coke: Was It Really That Long Ago?

May 8, 2009

As a marketing pro, I get great pleasure out of hyper-analyzing campaigns good and bad. And as a type-A personality with a steel trap mind, I tend to remember all kinds of useless information. But New Coke falls in that category of a marketing snafu that I thought everyone remembered, especially those of us who live/work/market in Atlanta and drink lots of Coke.

Apparently I was wrong. Yesterday at the PRSA-Georgia Annual Conference I enjoyed the “Legends in PR”  panel presentation that included Harold Burson, founder of  Burson/Marsteller; Bob Cohn, founder of Cohn & Wolfe; and Ofield Dukes, president, Ofield Dukes & Associates. One of the questions posed was “worst PR blunder” to which Burson quickly piped up “New Coke.” The room burst out laughing. Except for the two women across the table from me who asked our table mate, “What’s New Coke?” I was appalled. How can you work in PR and not know about New Coke. Well, apparently the new generation of PR Pros may just be too young to know about New Coke unless they are reading about it in textbooks. That was 1985. Can you believe it?

Impact of Failing Newspapers on Advertising and Quality of News

March 10, 2009

Mitch Leff shared this article this morning, detailing projections of which major US newspapers will fail or move to all digital before we exit the recession: http://247wallst.com/2009/03/09/the-ten-major-newspapers-that-will-fold-or-go-digital-next/. The bigger question here is, what will the migration of former major dailies to the web do for you PR?

1. It will increase the credibility of the so-called citizen journalist. Once thought of as only writers for the web, now they will be joined by former traditionally trained, mainstream print journalist. When both pieces are available only on-line, the line of professionalism will be blurred.

2. The price of online advertising will increase. We’re already seeing this happen. Traditional media giants are taking their ad models to the web and driving up prices. It used to be web ads were cheap but not any more. Prices will continue to rise with the consolidation of media giants on the web.

3. Writing will improve. Didn’t see that one coming, did you? Its the truth. Writing will improve. Here’s why: when you leisurely read your morning paper over coffee and a bagel, the writer has 3 columns and thousands of words to get the point across. You’re not going to turn the page in mid-sip and they know it. In contrast, writers for the web know how easy it is for you to click away and thus they’ve been trained to write more compelling headlines and lead paragraphs. (Sounds an awful lot like the lessons given to PR people for writing press releases.) If they don’t give you the good stuff up front, they’ve lost you and you’re not coming back.

So what’s your bet? Is your local, hometown daily going to make the cut? And will you care? Are you among the many who no longer find a paper at the base of their driveway each morning, instead opting to get their news on the web? Well then you already know what the future looks like.

More On Getting a Job in PR

January 26, 2009

Over the weekend I was reading Jantsch’s Duct Tape Marketing. He makes a number of really strong points that I’ll probably address later but the one that struck me as timely for today was the suggestion about how to hire a good marketing assistant. His suggestion was to pick someone who can write. While it seems fairly obvious that people who want to work in communications should be strong and comfortable writers, not all of them are. And once you get out of the communications applicant pool you’ll encounter even more people who claim an aversion to writing.

Being a strong and compelling writer makes you a good candidate for a number of positions and should just flat out be a requirement for any marketing communications position. If you can’t clearly articulate your message, don’t enjoy playing with words and find yourself compulsively editing copy wherever you go (a habit that makes my family nuts), don’t get a job in marketing. Read the rest of this entry »

#3: Be Available

November 4, 2008

Good PR Clients make themselves available when their agency or the media call directly with a question. If getting quoted in articles is part of your strategy to boost the image and credibility of your organization, you’ve got make yourself available when these opportunities present themselves. It is OKAY to ask to call them back in 10 minutes — and frankly I hope that you would.

Ten minutes gives you time to compose yourself, clear your desk and your mind and get your answers in order. Any time you speak to a reporter, you should have 3 message points in mind. Your goal is to get those three points across. Taking calls off the cuff may limit your ability to focus on those points.

Telling the reporter or your agency that you’re too busy now and would like to call back next week or next month is not acceptable (okay, once in a blue moon you may encounter a report who isn’t on a tight deadline but let’s play the odds). Delaying your response means losing the opportunity for attribution. The reporter will move on and find someone else to take that exclusive seat away from you.

Something for Everyone in Solis’ Conversation Prism

October 1, 2008

I had the opportunity to speak to attendees of the Georgia Oglethorpe Awards Conference at the Loudermilk Center in downtown Atlanta today. They asked me to share a little about how the changing patterns in media consumption were providing new PR opportunities. This subject matter was quite a change from the rest of the day’s agenda, comprised primarily of workshops focused on INTERNAL systems improvement, but I was successful in opening in their eyes new ways to improve their EXTERNAL customer facing strategy.

In closing I introduced my audience to Brian Solis’ Conversation Prism,

not because we had time to explore all that it involved, but to make the point that there are so many different ways to engage and converse with our audience that they ought to be able to find AT LEAST ONE channel that works for them. Based the on the Q&A, I think they took their “homework” to heart and will be testing out new channels soon.