With all due respect to social media, and despite the constant threat of H1N1, I plan to spend this Thanksgiving holiday weekend going mano a mano with human beings.
I plan to look deep into the eyes of family, friends and neighbors.
I plan to shake hands, pump fists, hug shoulders, kiss cheeks and pat heads.
I plan to talk and sing and laugh and maybe even cry.
I plan to get up close and personal.
I plan to sit with my loved ones and share a long meal.
I plan to drink a little wine and tell a few stories.
I plan to nod off on the couch while watching football with my son.
I plan to wake up and go for a walk with anyone who will join me.
I plan to think about my dad and all the relatives and friends who are no longer with us.
I plan to be thankful for this wonderful life I have.
Be be forewarned, I plan to be social without all the media – no texting, no iPhone video games, no tweeting, no Facebook posting, no blogging, no email, no photo-taking and no cell phone calling. So if you want to see me this weekend or talk to me or listen to me, you have to come and see me. In person.
You’ll thank me later.
What’s the best way to monitor media coverage?
By Kayleigh Fitch, guest blogger
While there are several tactics you can use to successfully monitor media coverage, the method you choose will largely depend on the media you are targeting.
For large-scale campaigns targeting national print and online media, professional monitoring services like BurrellesLuce or Cision are the most effective and time-efficient way to monitor print coverage from thousands of newspapers, magazines, newsletters, web sites and blogs. These services can be costly, but considerably less than the time you will spend monitoring thousands of newspapers, magazines, web sites and blogs. Professional monitoring services are also a good option if you plan to monitor international publications.
If a professional monitoring service doesn’t fit your budget but you still want to monitor print media coverage, focus your attention on the most influential publications for your target audience. Maintain a detailed media call log with records of communications to reporters. If a reporter plans to run your story or has interviewed your company’s spokesperson, you can ask when the story is set to run and order a copy of the magazine or newspaper.
If your media relations efforts are primarily focused on online media, use online tracking services like Google Alerts, and Google News. Be sure to include quotation marks around keyword phrases, names or multi-word company names. Search for keywords you believe may appear in the article’s headline. Also, try searching for your spokesperson’s name or company name in quotation marks. This is a cost-effective approach, but not necessarily foolproof; you will not capture all the coverage you are looking for and you will have to wade through lots of extraneous coverage that does not apply.
For media relations campaigns focused on radio and television stations, use a broadcast monitoring service. National services like VMS Digital will monitor for selected keywords at no cost and provide you with the video/audio clips when they are identified; however, the clips can be expensive.
When developing a strategy for monitoring media coverage, consider the types of media your campaign targets, costs of professional services, the time you are willing to invest and how important it is to obtain copies of every media clip.
For questions or help getting and monitoring media coverage, contact me at 440.333.0001 ext. 105 or kayleigh at sweeneypr.com.
Just last Monday SC Johnson launched a new web site (www.whatsinsidescjohnson.com) that discloses all the ingredients in the company’s cleaning products. Having worked in the cleaning products industry for many years, this is an excellent step in the right direction. Rather than having the government regulate the industry, leading companies like SC Johnson and Seventh Generation are taking matters into their own hands.
I took a look at SC Johnson’s new site (www.whatsinsidescjohnson.com) and Seventh Generation’s “Show The World What’s Inside” (http://www.seventhgeneration.com/show-whats-inside/cleaning-products-ingredients-guide) to see how helpful the information really is. Below is a side-by-side comparison of each company’s description of “sodium hydroxide” – a common ingredient in cleaning products.
A builder that enhances cleaning ability. It can also be a pH adjuster that alters the pH of a product to improve stability. In high concentrations (such as in drain cleaners), it can be a caustic that helps dissolve organic matter like drain clogs.
What is it: Also called caustic soda or lye, it is a chemical used as a pH adjuster. Commonly used in automatic dishwashing compounds.
What is it used for: Used to maintain the pH of a product.
What effect does it have: High concentrations can be corrosive to skin and eyes. Sodium hydroxide made with older, mercury cell technology pollutes the environment with mercury. Therefore Seventh Generation uses only newer, membrane technology.
From a consumer standpoint, both sites provide useful information; however, Seventh Generation’s site goes a step further to provide the effect of the chemical on humans and the environment, which is what most consumers want to know. I also like the fact that the Seventh Generation site allows you to download the ingredient guide onto your computer and provides an iPhone application. This can be very helpful when shopping for cleaning products (even if they are not Seventh Generation), especially if you are looking to avoid products with certain ingredients.
We have a very small target audience – maybe 50 organizations with 1-3 contacts in each company – that we want to establish lines of communications with and build relationships leading to sales. Is direct mail or e-mail a better bet?
Founder & President of Midwest Mechanical Contracting Firm
By Jim Sweeney
As you might imagine, there are pros and cons to both tactics.
A physical mailer, particularly if it is dimensional, colorful or incorporates sound, has a much better chance of engaging the recipient. The receiver is more likely to see it, open it and review it. On the other hand, an email with the right subject line can and will get opened, and if it incorporates good messages, offers and functions, it will also get reviewed.
The life of both mailers is limited (by the recipient’s choice) once opened. However, a direct mailer may survive longer depending upon format and contents (e.g., a pen with imprinted logo may stick around for months). But the value after the initial mailing is questionable.
A physical mailer can be expensive to produce – copy, design, printing, premium and mailing. But so too can an HTML email – copy, design, programming and distribution. However, because the database is so small, printing only 50 direct mailers will be a potential problem, since you will be required to either use digital printing techniques (lower quality, higher cost) or overprint jobs based upon printers’ minimum requirements (which could be anywhere from 250 units to 1,000 units).
Response mechanisms for a direct mailer can include a business reply card, a phone number, a fax number, a web site and/or an email address. An email can offer all of these as well, plus a direct link to a landing page and/or web site. In addition, assuming you employ an email distribution services like iContact, you can get immediate feedback (open rates and click through rates); you can also use web analytics to measure traffic and purchasing patterns related to the email.
A direct mailer can take longer to print (days) and distribute (more days), while an email, once produced, can be distributed almost at will.
But perhaps the most important consideration is the preference/behavior of your target audience. In the case of a mechanical contracting business – particularly in the Midwest –most relationship building and business is still done in person or over the phone. While maintenance personnel are not shunning the Internet, they are not using it routinely to communicate via e-mail. However, if your target audience consists of deskbound executives or traveling businesspeople who are hotwired into their e-mail service, they are more likely to read your email within moments of receiving it.
In conclusion, I wholeheartedly encourage you to test both direct mail and e-mail campaigns – either simultaneously or within a few weeks of each other (being cognizant of holidays and business cycles) – and document results. Then apply whatever analytics you have available to determine the true cost and value of each campaign.
You may discover that one, the other, both or neither is the right answer. But that’s fine; through testing you will find the right answer for your situation.
To discover if you are using the correct strategies to reach your target audience and produce the best ROI, contact me at 440.333.0001 ext. 101 or jim at sweeneypr.com.
If you’re a Leggo my Eggo fan, you better stock up now because Kellogg’s is experiencing a shortage and is rationing Eggos to retailers based on past business. The waffle shortage occurred because of flooding at the Atlanta bakery during a fall rain storm and equipment problems at a Tennessee plant. The shortage is expected to last until mid-2010 as Kellogg’s works as quickly as possible to ramp up production.
Kellogg’s has addressed the problem by communicating effectively with media and posting the following message on its Leggo my Eggo web site:
You may have noticed that some of your favorite Eggo® Products are out of stock. We are working hard to get all of our products back into grocers’ freezers as quickly as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your continued support.
If you are interested in receiving periodic updates from the Eggo® brand about your favorite products, including news about when they will back on shelf, please click here. Thank you for your patience. Learn More
But it wasn’t enough to ease consumers’ concerns as they voiced their opinions on Twitter and Facebook:
“Suddenly “Leggo my Eggo!”® sounds a lot more threatening.”
“Giving “Leggo my Eggo” a whole new meaning. hmm-maybe I shoulda given in at the grocery store last week.”
“Leggo my Eggo, dammit!”
This is certainly a window for competitors to gain some market share.
” ‘Ello, ‘ello, ‘ello? Admiral’s right: ‘eavy weather brewin’ at Number 17, and no mistake!”
As you read this post, the FDA is actively taking testimony from leading Web companies and pharmaceutical interests about what they’d like to see in “a brave new world of digital drug ads.”
According to a Los Angeles Times story, “we’re going to need an entirely new FDA division dedicated solely to surfing the Web and policing all that digital content — and that won’t be cheap.” The story goes on to say: “It will be up to federal officials to strike the right balance between digital commerce and keeping people safe.”
Speaking only for myself, these ideas – leaving it up to the Feds and creating a new FDA division – do not get me excited, unless by excited you mean scare me half to death. And it frustrates me to think, are we really so uncontrollable as an industry? Are we so driven by greed that we will take the chance of letting the government step in?
The answer of course is yes. Greed continues to fuel our nation’s economy. Just check the latest numbers on the bonuses Goldman Sachs is awarding to its employees; they have already set aside $16 billion for staff bonuses and expect to add another $7 billion before the end of the year. Meanwhile, they expect us to be overjoyed by the $500 million initiative to help small businesses directly and through universities. Here’s an idea, keep the $500 million for bonuses and invest the $23 billion in small businesses.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, CNN is reporting that “three marketing firms and hundreds of their online partners made more than $1.4 billion using misleading sales tactics, according to a report issued Tuesday by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D., W.Va.).” According to the report: “The three [online marketing] firms previously have settled lawsuits brought by consumers or by states on behalf of consumers, and recently made changes to their marketing practices. Lawmakers suggested that may not be enough and that legislation may be needed.”
Awesome. More government intervention. More laws and regulations. Apparently the World Wide Web, much like the Wild, Wild West will require Federal troops to get tamed. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could clean up our own mess and self-regulate instead of pushing the limits and forcing the government to step in? LOL, I’m so funny.
The day after Halloween, I started seeing Walmart and Kohl’s holiday television ads. Pottery Barn already distributed its 1st holiday catalog, Target featured a toy guide in Sunday’s paper, Santa is already appearing in the malls, and just this week I started seeing direct response televisions ads for holiday music CDs. It is like we skipped Thanksgiving and went straight to the holiday season.
I completely understand why retailers are starting the holiday season advertising and marketing sooner, and it is apparently working because I’m already feeling like I’m behind with my holiday travel plans, holiday cards and holiday shopping. And I don’t think I’m the only one because the city of Wilmington put up its holiday decorations downtown last week and my sister has already been bugging me for gift ideas!
Personally, I think we as consumers need to take a stand. If we don’t, Christmas in July will soon be a reality! Join the “It’s Too Early for Christmas” Facebook group and take a stand http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=318417645693
For as long as I can remember, publicity (a primary tool in the public relations toolbox) has been positioned and/or referred to as an efficient, if not inexpensive way to promote a product or service or organization or person.
In fact, this common misconception has led to the popularization of the term “free publicity.” To illustrate, I conducted a quick Google search of the term and found endless references, such as these recent news stories:
Associated Press (Nov. 10):
“Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2,” almost certain to be the year’s best-selling video game, has also become its most notorious. That’s because of a prerelease leak showing a terrorist raid on an airport — exactly the sort of thing that’s guaranteed to rile up anti-violence watchdogs and generate free publicity.
NBC New York (Nov. 10):
Calvin Klein‘s latest racy billboard in SoHo is stopping traffic, raising eyebrows and again earning the designer a little free publicity.
Detroit News (Nov. 5):
Fox News Channel is on a roll. A smackdown with the White House has handed the cable news network loads of free publicity, as well as raw meat for its commentators.
Well you get the idea, but it is most definitely the wrong idea. In point of fact, it is an idiotic idea perpetuated by morons who just do not understand the business. As my father often warned me, there is no such thing as a free lunch… and there is no such thing as free publicity.
But that is not even the point of this post. Because I am hyper sensitive to the idea of doing anything on the cheap (I am a big believer in the philosophy that we get what we pay for) my attention is always attracted to the mention of all things free, cheap and low-cost. And guess what I’ve been hearing a lot about lately? In the world of marketing, the new “free publicity” is social media.
Cape Cod News (Nov. 10):
It doesn’t hurt that social media offer a very low-cost way of getting a message out. “We’re kind of making it into a shining example of how to do a thing like this on zero budget,” said Beth Dunn, a Massachusetts-based marketing consultant.
Restaurants & Institutions Magazine (Oct. 09):
Given its low cost of use compared with traditional marketing vehicles such as print, television and radio, social-media marketing can be a good fit for foodservice operations of all sizes, whether the goal is to drive traffic and sales or strengthen brand awareness and loyalty.
Mashable (Nov. 5):
Facebook offers exceptional, low cost marketing opportunities for small business.
Blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada and on and on.
If you are looking for quality work that leads to quality results, you will find that social media marketing, like publicity, is neither free nor low-cost. It can be affordable and it most definitely can be valuable, but if it is advertised as cheap, I suggest you run – not walk – from the marketer selling you this line of bull stuff.
You know that Beyonce song, “If I were a boy”?
Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about clients and the decisions they make, as well as the decisions they don’t make. Having been on the agency side my entire career tends to put me at a disadvantage when it comes to understanding what goes on behind closed doors on the client side. On the other hand, having worked with hundreds of clients in dozens of industries in markets around the globe has also given me a very unique perspective.
Naturally what I am most interested in knowing is what compels a client to hire one agency over another or to not hire an agency when they really need one or to hire an agency when they really don’t need one. These are things I am more than curious about, but not yet obsessed with; I want to get to the bottom of them, but I can still sleep just fine at night if I do not know the answers.
In an effort to get at the answers in a scientific way, we (Sweeney) are planning to conduct a formal survey among marketing professionals who are responsible for making such decisions. I promise to make all the results public (even to other agencies) upon completion.
In the meantime, I wanted to share the perspective of one corporate marketing professional whose opinion I respect more highly than most. His background is balanced and impeccable, having worked on both the agency and the corporate side… having worked with the world’s smallest and largest marketing agencies… having worked with local, national and international corporations… and having worked with consumer, business, industrial and institutional clients.
During a recent conversation, I wondered aloud what agencies should communicate to prospective clients, not feeling entirely certain about what clients want. Here is his response:
I loathe agencies telling me how wacky and fun and creative they are. I don’t care. What I care about is your ability to solve my problem. And the ability to do it well and on time and on budget. I don’t care that you have a pool table in the creative department.
[For the record, Sweeney does not own a pool table or a ping pong table or a foosball table or a pinball machine or a climbing wall. Any pictures you may have seen of me or my employees in a ball pit were clearly taken at Chuck E. Cheese during normal lunch hours.]
President at ProNetworkMedia
By Jennifer Manocchio
The answer to this question is not black and white. While there are studies conducted on the best day and time to send business-to-business and consumer emails, the answer really depends on your subscriber base. For example, if you are sending an email to a business audience, sending the email on weekends might produce a low open rate. However, if you are targeting consumers, this might be an effective time to distribute your message.
Consider the results from our agency e-newletter (InSites). We distribute InSites weekly to our client and prospect database that features top marketing stories. While we avoid distributing on Monday or Friday, it doesn’t seem to matter what day we distribute the email during the week. We have tested different days and haven’t seen a change in open rate, which remains in the 26-31% range. What this tells us is we have a following that reads the e-newsletter on a regular basis no matter the day of the week. We attribute the fluctuation in open rates to the subject lines and people being out of the office.
On the consumer side, we recently started an e-marketing campaign for a retailer in the healthcare industry. We typically distribute the emails on a Tuesday or Wednesday because the client’s web site traffic tends to spike on Monday and drop off throughout the week. Distributing it on a Tuesday or Wednesday helps increase the web site traffic when it typically is down. Since this is only our third distribution to the database, it is hard to say whether day and time are affecting open rates. However, to our surprise, consumers continue to open the email weeks or even a month after the distribution. This tells us some of the contacts on the list don’t check their personal emails very often and the day and time of distribution don’t really affect this group.
The most effective way to determine when to distribute email is to test the days and times that you distribute email and determine when is most effective based on the open and click through rates. However, you need to take more into consideration than just the distribution day and time. The relationship you have with your subscribers, the from line and the subject line can also affect your open rates.
Want to know more about email marketing best practices, contact me at jennifer at sweeneypr.com or 910.772.1688.