Tag Archives: public relations

Online Profiling: Speaking to One vs. Many

There has been a shift in the methods that defines on-line marketing on customer outreach.  Today the efforts are not so much like using megaphone and getting your message out there as loudly and as noticeably as you can —  so that as many people as possible hear what you have to say and know what your brand is.  It has gone from more of an outreach measured by quantity to a direct and personal message outreach towards an individual. This individual is who you have created the message for. You altered and molded that message for what this person likes, what they think about, what they do in their free time, what kind of family they have, and what they are passionate about. Web technology is now more and more geared to collect personal information about you based on what web sites your visiting, and what you are talking about in your e-mails.  Is it invasive or…awesome? It’s a little process called “on-line profiling” and I vote awesome.  (I would much rather see a Michael Kors add pop up on the left of my monitor than one for Home Depot.) Companies (and on-line brands especially) SHOULD tailor our ads to what a customer likes, especially companies that aim to have an active social web presence.   Cater to your audience, as individuals, instead of using broader advertising and marketing to capture a group.  Sometimes you have to figure out what your average individual customer would be like based on your target group.  What would your ideal customer be like? (Someone that would be most interested in the tool/services/products that you have to offer.)   What music would that person listen to while jogging on a Saturday morning? What kind of connection tools are they interested in on-line? What types of circles do they run in? What are their interests and goals? You use those things to connect them with your brand on a more personal and intimate level. Speak right to the heart of what they want and need. The social media tools that currently exist are rapidly developing to allow marketers  to become much more personally involved with their audience and community.  Eric Imbs talks about how giving the customer an opportunity to choose their favorite color or favorite car, then cater to them based on their choice. He says, “colour is… a much more personal piece of information, which if used properly could make an ad much more targeted and….personal.” Through the on-line profiling that is possible today, we are allowed to get to know our customers at a closer level.  Use this.  Stop shooting for the crowds attention, and connect with your customers on a more intimate level.

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Building an Online Community

Social web presence.  Building a brand on-line. We know it’s an important part of Public Relations and Marketing and Branding. But once we recognize it’s importance, the question is…. how do we do it???

Are you sick of hearing the answer that you need to first find your target audience, talk to them directly, so on and so forth.  If so, you aren’t alone.  While these steps are important building blocks, we are constantly hearing them. We need to know more don’t we?  We need new direction. What is the real NEXT step, what do we do after we figure out who to target, and how do we target them? Now that we’ve realized how important it is to build a social network, how do we do it?  We need to help to figure out how to build a buzz about our brand and create our on-line community.

An important question to ask ourselves is how do we want to disseminate information? Do we want to send mailings, do we want to allow consumers to talk amongst themselves via message boards and live chats? What modes of communication do you want to introduce and build your community around? Blogging and twitter, or forums, e-blasts and pod-casts? What combination of networking methods will work the best and make the most sense for your brand?

Mega Star Media wisely says that you need to consider if you can run the community by yourself, you need to determine what type of resources it will take to build the on-line community that you want. This is important to recognize from the very beginning. Hosting a web presence and on-line network can definitely be a full time job! This may mean hiring someone more equip to take on the task and manage the on-line branding.  If this is financially an option, get in touch with those who know more about social media than you and bring them on board to become a part of your brand/company.  For example companies like SocialDreamium who offers a  collection of tools and services that help you take full advantage of the social web for your brand. Think of it as outsourced community management. SocialDreamium works to grow your audience, and is built to help brands who may be struggling with the how to’s of social networking.

It’s sometimes difficult to figure out what comes next, but in the world of social media, many of us are learning as we go.  These are the first few steps, a couple of important things to think about as you begin launch your brand on the social web. So get out there, get started, and good luck!

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The Perfect Press Kit

The perfect press kit is designed to garner media mention, TV coverage, radio airplay and more. But kits have to be tailored to a certain audience, and sometimes it’s hard to know what to include. What is too much? What’s not enough? What will this particular media outlet think is important? Because your kit is usually going to many different media outlets, it’s important that the kit be adaptable. It should be easy to alter slightly and be tailored to its specific destination.

Providing a Press Kit is just one strategy, and it’s not usually useful alone. Reporters will need to have some prior interest (or at least knowledge) before the kit gets in their hands so that they know how to use the contents. At a minimum, plan on contacting media contacts prior, and ALWAYS after you provide the Press Kit.  Be ready to offer additional information, and elaborate on any pitches/stories you think might appeal to them. Generate a variety of story ideas and have more than one appealing approach to share with them!

Some important things to think about when putting together your press kit.

1. What is the overall goal of the Press Kit?

2. Who is the audience? (If you pitching to a radio station for example, who listens to that station?? Because that’s who they will care about…)

3. What do I want to accomplish? Get specific in defining measurable objectives. If you want to garner media attention, how many articles? In how many markets? This is what you want to accomplish in numbers and percentages!

4. Why should members of the local news media care? Make sure you address this question, why will they care about you are pitching??

A Press Kit will always be more successful if you attach it along with other opportunities. For example, offering to do a live interview (this can be you or someone else you work with who would feel comfortable jumping in front of the camera and talking about what this pitch is all about)! This could also include providing the reporter with special opportunities to go behind the scenes, give a special demonstration, let them see what it’s all about from the inside out. This might apply to a speaker giving a conference, being let in the studio for a radio or TV show, etc. This is likely to draw them in and will go a long way in building relationships with media.

What is included?
Remember to keep the packaging generic. Your company’s name/logo and contact is enough. Don’t include photos that will become outdated quickly. You should also keep the packaging consistent from one press kit to the next, only the inside contents should change.

Press release: There might be more than one if you decide to tailor a couple to different markets.

Executive profiles with bios: Tell them a little about the people at your company/brand, make sure they have all the information on these people they would need to do a piece on them.

High resolution photos: Having a strong visual aspect in your press kit is, I think, very important, a huge selling factor.

Cover letter: It’s always idea to do a cover letter to personalize your press kit to that media outlet if it’s possible, and make sure you are addressing it to the right person!

Corporate or marketing materials for your company: Be careful, as I said before, not to include too many extras, but if you have some strong pieces for a company launch or expansion type of pitch than strong marketing materials could be great item.

Positive media quotes: You can include positive press quotes, if the media has already said great things about your brand, show that off! (These quotes might be best included in your press release, or in your marketing materials.)

Business cards/contact information: Your contact should be on multiple pieces, don’t make it hard for them to get in touch with you if they have questions or want to know more!!

Once you are done compiling — go back over everything and take out anything that seems extraneous to your specific messages. You don’t want anything to take away from you clear vision and objectives for this pitch!

Lastly, when you are delivering this press kit, be enthusiastic but avoid being a nuisance.  Remember that no matter how hard you work at your pitch, be prepared to face some who are disinterested, possibly annoyed, and unfortunately sometimes rude. Hey… we’re in PR aren’t we? Remember, relationships with media take time!

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Ghost Blogging: What do YOU think?

One of the things that surprised my brother, Ryan, when he got a glimpse into my job at a PR firm here in San Diego was the normality of ghost writing. He thought it seemed dishonest. It’s an interesting practice that does seem pretty dishonest. (Probably because it is!) As someone who has a passion for A. writing and B. public relations, I have done my fair share of writing for other bylines. There are perks and pains to this. It’s a great way to get writing experience as a newbie in the industry (I should know) and it’s also a fabulous way to watch your writing get ripped apart by those whose edits you can learn so much from (again… I should know). The downside — you would love to take that op-ed you spent days and days editing and use it has a writing sample wouldn’t you? Too bad. Technically, it’s not officially written by you (but rather someone who didn’t see it until it’s final draft). The reality is that ghost writing is going to happen whether we agree with it or not. And I’m not trying to bash a common practice of the an industry I obviously support, I’m just being honest here. (One of my goals for this blog, keeping it honest!) Just because ghost writing is an effective way to accomplish many many goals we set in PR for our clients, doesn’t make it an honest practice. The bottom line is, when someone attaches their byline to words they are saying they agree and can call the words their own — and in this, some honesty is regained. There will always be people that we want to hear from who are simply too busy to get their words out there frequently and ghost writing is part of closing that gap.

Now, when we take that concept of ghost writing and apply it to blogs, do our feelings about it change at all? Is it okay for a team/staff to blog for their company’s CEO? It’s fairly common that bloggers are getting jobs writing blog posts for corporate executives too busy or inarticulate to do it themselves.  So are we learning to accept this? My thoughts are this: What if we want to hear from someone who just doesn’t have the time to connect with us on a daily basis?  Wouldn’t we willingly accept a briefing from their staff or team? After all, who better to tell us what Barama was up leading up to the election than his campaign manager?

While my thoughts, opinion and research on this subject are not even close to being decided or completed… for now my consensus is this: there is a middle ground.  For now I’d have to semi-disagree with this angle of thought — Rory Cellan-Jones quotes Tom Coats in The Business of Blogging, “The value of having a blog as an executive is to have a conversation with the people who use your products, to be part of the community and to talk honestly. To have it ghost-written is utterly pointless.”  I think that while it is extremely important for company or brand’s blogs to maintain an honest and authentic tone the main thing is that the CONTENT of the blog needs to come from Barama himself. However, if our president elect is dictating/interviewing with a staffer who then takes it to the keyboard… if that’s what it takes to get the content and info to me. I’ll take it.

But… what do YOU think???

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GOAL! The most important part… making one!

A successful PR campaign has a lot to do with a great concept, a strategic approach, a smart plan of attack, and the creative steps you take to implement it.  I intent to blog more about this “concept” idea later down the road, but for now I’d like to focus on something that you simply cannot do without.  It’s very easy to get caught up and excited about creative strategy and concept, because this is often what sets extremely successful PR campaigns apart from the standard text book approach. However, regardless of Silver Anvil Award winning or text book standards, the following remains one of the most important aspects.

GOALS AND OBJECTIVES. From the starting line, if you fail to look at what your end goals will be, and what your overall objectives are, your campaign might as well be pointless. You can’t lose sight of what your after if you never establish what you are after in the first place… think about it. Setting these goals and objectives should start with your client’s ideas — they will know what they want to accomplish because they hired you (the PR pro) for a reason. Now it is your job to help them set realistic and achievable goals and to take their aspirations and form them into clear objectives for your PR effort. Setting these objectives makes your PR planning much more effective.

Kim Harrison of Cutting Edge PR outlines 3 types of goals used in Public Relations: reputations management goals, relationship management, and task management:

1. REPUTATION MANAGEMENT — These deal with identity and perception of your client, aka helping to form positive opinions about your client.

2. RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT – Improving the relationships your client has with customers, stakeholders, and sometimes even competitors.  Improve communication in the existing relationships help by your client and introduce new relationship opportunities as well.

3. TASK MANAGEMENT
Achieving tasks. This is most common type of goal, and is easiest to measure the results. This would include increasing attendance at events, increasing customer base, increasing recognition of brand, etc. This goal type would be where you would see the monetary profit as well (which is probably why it gets the most attention). However, I don’t think that this makes it the most important type of goal. I stand by relationships and reputation hold just as much if not MORE weight in successful PR efforts.

GET ON THE SAME PAGE
It’s also extremely important to get client and practitioner on the same page about these things. If the client has big ideas in his head, and the PR pro has something a little smaller scale and realistic on the brain, one will see the campaign as a disappointment while the other as a mission completed. This may seem obvious, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to be on the same page. When you work with a client (and this applies to in-house as well as agency situations) it is so important that you have not just complete 2 way communication but open lines of communication as well as honest communication. The meeting in which you both sit down and hash out your different expectations might be a painful, uncomfortable, or tedious task but you wont be sorry for doing it. The results will better, the relationship will be stronger, and ultimately your client/employer will respect you for doing so.

So what have we learned? Once you have your creative approach and strategy in order you’ve got to 1. Set some goals and objectives. 2. Make sure there are at least 3 goals, one having to do with rep, one to do with relationships and one to do with an achievable task. 3. Then get on the same page with your client, be honest and open with them about the goals, what’s realistic, what’s the time-line, how many goals?  Once all these steps are taken you’ve got a well oiled PR effort so… go get ’em!

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PR: What is it… and why do I care?

How can you convince a company, brand, or person who has never explored any sort of PR effort that PR is something they in fact DO sincerely need? I think it is important to support any argument, especially one of the necessity of Public Relations, with facts! So… what are the facts?  The facts are that marketing people clearly see the incredible value of PR.

Senior level marketers surveyed in 2005 by the Council of Public Relations Firms and Advertising Age said they perceive public relations to be most valuable in supporting product marketing and product launches.

Marketing executives surveyed that same year by PR Week were asked to compare the effectiveness of public relations to that of advertising and direct marketing for specific tasks. From the perspective of these executives, public relations is the most effective marketing discipline for launching a new product or service, building awareness, generating word of mouth, and building brand reputation.

Another important factor in explaining the value of our industry, is continually going BACK TO THE BASICS. (And let’s be honest, it’s always good to brush up on our ABC’s of PR so we don’t loose track in all the advertising/media/social web/etc, am I right?)  New comers to public relations need to understand that it is much more than a publicity or advertising effort alone.  So, the answer is to go back to the basics. In Glen Broom‘s “Effective Public Relations” he highlights the following areas to be implemented (not including research and other areas of preparation) as points of focus for a successful Public Relations effort.

  • Publicity: This is the most visible part of public relations. PR people must make judgments to providing the media with the information that they deem to be newsworthy.
  • Advertising: Provides a more control over content and placement than publicity does. PR can sometimes join forces with advertising department to promote through multiple mediums including but not limited to print, radio, TV, and internet.
  • Press Agentry: Public notice and attention (not necessarily public understanding). To a certain extent, any press is good press, and part of a successful PR plan would be to focus on press agentry.
  • Social Media: Creating a social web presence is now key to almost any successful public relations effort. Gaining and online recognizable brand will allow you to connect to your more common or average customers. It will also provide the unique opportunity to engage in true 2 way communication with you audiences while learning the industry trends and consumer habits.
  • Internal Relations:Keeping employees informed and motivated and promoting the culture and style of the company/brand. Internal newsletters are a good example of how to promote positive communication within an organization so that everyone is participating in effective communication.
  • Public Affairs:Building and maintaining relationship with target publics who influence public policy. Relationships could be built through endorsements/interviews/etc with the appropriate political figures.
  • Issues Management: Identifying issues early on with potential impact on your brand and forming a strategic response designed to capitalize on the consequences. The PR responsibility is to coach your company/brand spokesperson to respond to these potential problems before they become issues.
  • Business Development: Focusing on working to locate new development opportunities for the company/brand.

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Economic effect on the PR job market

jobsclassifieds-main_fullThe economic effect on the PR industry has completely flipped the conditions of job searching in this business in the past 12 months. Last year the demand for PR Pro’s was enormous and showed no signs of slowing. Now in 2008, the market is slowing and firms are forced to downsize their expectations as well as their salaries, their bonuses, and in some unfortunate cases, their staff. However, what I would like to focus on is that despite the number of companies find themselves cutting back, there are still others looking for new talent and that means there are jobs out there.

PR Newswire encourages us to energize our job search in this tough economy because companies are still searching for qualified candidates even as the country faces these economic uncertainties and a tighter labor market. Nearly half of HR managers are saying they have had to broaden the circle in which they look for qualified candidates in order to bring new talent in the door.  According to the the 2008 PR Career Guide, on the agency side, executives say that the softening of the economy has had it’s effects on the job market meaning new opportunities to bring on board the right staff. Maybe it’s not a loose loose situation after all.

Yes, we hear comments and new statistics everyday about what the economy is doing to the PR job market, “people are looking for work… the quantity of resumes is greater than I’ve seen in some time.” – Jason Maloni VP, Levick Strategic Communications. But the truth is, despite this economic slow down, there ARE jobs out there, certain companies ARE still looking, and the challenge is not WHERE to find a job, but HOW to find the job that does exist.

PR Newswire suggests the following four steps to get us started.

1. Get online now
2. Network Network Network
3. Keep your ears open for opportunity at your current employer
4. Call on the professionals — ask your professional network for referrals

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