I have been in this business of marketing and public relations for more than 30 years now. All of it on the agency side.
During that time I have had the opportunity to work with and represent hundreds of organizations, from global industry leaders to one-person start-up businesses.
And I can state without hesitation that the single biggest oversight of most is the inability or unwillingness to set and document goals and objectives before planning and implementing marketing initiatives.
Don’t get me wrong, there is almost always a general agreement that the organization knows what it wants to accomplish – we want to increase sales, we want to successfully launch a new product, we want to crush the competition, we want to change market perception of our company, we want to become the industry leader – and some might accept these vague, abstract and intangible intentions as goals. And perhaps they are.
But without their companion – precise, tangible, measurable objectives – they are little more than ideas. And unless both are committed to paper and shared across the organization, they are simply ideas floating through the atmosphere.
The best strategies, the best creative and the best implementation – even if they win prestigious awards – amount to nothing more than a bag of crap if they do not achieve the specific goals and objectives they were intended to reach.
But if there are no specific, concrete, documented and shared goals and objectives that can be measured and analyzed, how can you ever hope to validate your achievement?
“Well,” you might say, “This is both obvious and ridiculous. Every organization – particularly industry leaders – have documented goals and objectives that drive their ongoing and continuously evolving marketing and public relations initiatives.”
Really? Please send me a copy of your current goals and objectives. I would like nothing more than to give you credit for doing the right thing.
When Leanne LaFave, a triathlon-training buddy, told me she was going to do a 10-mile solo swim in the Intracoastal Waterway this summer, I thought she was crazy. Five hours in jellyfish infested waters; what was she thinking?
Even though Leanne will be the first person to do this on August 13, 2011, there was no doubt in her mind that she can complete the swim. Her goal is to raise $18,000 for ZOE Ministry, an organization dedicated to transforming the lives of African children orphaned by HIV/AIDS, war, disease, famine and other causes.
“I participated in a mission trip to Africa for ZOE Ministry in 2006 that was life-changing,” said Leanne. “Ever since I interacted with these children on my mission trip, I have been brainstorming ways to continue helping ZOE Ministry. What better way to do that than combine my love for swimming with raising awareness and funds for ZOE.”
This funding will offer 60-80 orphans training and access to resources in farming, animal husbandry, small business, health and hygiene, HIV/AIDS prevention, housing, education and child rights. The skills these orphans learn will give them the ability to pull themselves out of poverty in 2-3 years.
Her story was so compelling that I jumped at the opportunity to help her increase awareness. It has been one of the most rewarding non-profit experiences I have been involved in. I love telling her story to media, who have been excited to cover it.
Her passion and drive for completing the swim is relentless. She never complains about the hours of swimming she puts in each week or all the speaking engagements, committee meetings or fundraising efforts. It is amazing what people can do when they are inspired and passionate for a cause.
Want to learn more, follow Leanne’s blog or donate? Visit www.icw10.com.
A recent study by Forbes Insights in association with Coremetrics reveals customer retention is becoming a greater marketing priority. In fact, more than half (52%) of the marketing executives cited customer retention as the top priority, and 39% of those plan to dedicate the largest piece of their budgets in support of customer retention.
As marketers, we know the best place to increase sales is from current customers. So what’s the best way to market to your current customers besides loyalty/rewards programs and promotional pens?
1. Custom Publishing. Consider developing custom content in the form of a publication dedicated to your current customers. Develop a regular publishing cycle, pre-plan editorial calendars and seek feedback from customers on how to make the content more relevant. The key is to create content that is mostly non-promotional. Share content that meets a common need or solves a common problem faced by the same customers that use your product or service. And make sure your publication is free and easy to access, depending on the customer’s preferences (print or digital.)
2. Continuing Education. Whitepapers, webinars, tip sheets, instructional videos and even in-person workshops are all great ways to provide your customers with more information on how they can use your products or services. If customers are already using your product and happy with the results, show them how to get even better results to they will turn to you for advice next time they have a problem or need to purchase a solution.
3. Events. You probably attend trade shows to meet with distributors and media; and you probably host events for prospects. But consider hosting an event exclusively for existing customers. This provides an opportunity to express your gratitude for their loyalty, honor any outstanding partners or clients, facilitate conversation among customers about your brand and communicate information to a highly engaged audience on new products and services that will enhance their current experience with your brand.
A live event not in the budget? Consider hosting regular Twitter or Facebook events that provide a venue for customers to connect and share with one another. This will provide a “fly-on-the-wall” view of conversations taking place in the marketplace about your brand as well as industry issues.
4. Sneak Previews. Provide the latest information on new products and services to your loyal customers before making a public announcement. Make sure your customers know they are getting first dibs. For example, one of our clients is launching a new online resource. Before making the official announcement, the company offered100 of its most loyal customers the ability to test the new service . In addition to giving his customers a “sneak peak”, it also opened the door for customers to provide feedback that contributed to revisions in the final stages of development.
This can be successful even if you are not introducing something new. Instead, offer an exclusive behind the scenes about your company that your customers might find interesting or useful. For example, local candy shop, winery and brewery tours are typically popular. And the tour strategically ends right in their retail store.
For this week’s blog post, we spoke with News 14 Carolina reporter Andrea Pacetti in Raleigh, NC, to get her top tips for securing TV media coverage. Prior to her current gig, Andrea launched the network’s Coastal newsroom, acting as bureau chief and Morehead City’s first reporter. She also previously worked as a reporter and producer for WTWO in Indiana.
So, from the mouth of a reporter, producer and bureau chief, here is what you need to know about landing coverage on TV.
What method should public relations professionals use to pitch TV reporters?
Emails are usually the most convenient way to receive a pitch, and sending a follow-up email as the event gets closer is great as well.
Phone calls can also work; however, you should always send a follow up email with the event information after a phone call. If you are a pitching to a particular reporter, he/she may not be working the shift or day when the event is, so an email will allow him/her to pass the information along to another reporter. Also, I have had occasions when I was talking to a PR professional and then immediately been sent to cover breaking news. In cases like that, an email has reminded me to follow up with assignment editors or my news director on the event.
When talking to a reporter, I’d always ask what they prefer. Some reporters hate getting phone calls with pitches but will respond to an email, for example.
What time of day should public relations professional pitch TV reporters?
PR professionals should try to keep in mind typical TV deadlines and avoid those “crunch times,” which are about an hour or so before deadline. This is typically when a reporter will be under pressure to finish a story or be preparing to do a live shot. A normal day-shift reporter will probably have to get stories in for the noon show and the 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. shows. In that case, mornings and early afternoons are usually good. If you are pitching a producer, avoid contacting them during a show.
What is the best approach to getting TV reporters to cover your event?
Sending media invites and following up with phone calls is a good approach. Keep in mind, reporters usually don’t get to decide what news they are covering. They can pitch ideas in story meetings, but there is no guarantee they will get to cover a story they pitch. So it’s best to send emails to the TV station’s assignment desk and news directors as well, so the story is on more than one person’s radar.
Also, it’s always better if you can personalize the pitch to a reporter or station. You will be more likely to get a response than if you pitch in a mass email.
The best way to get a story covered is to connect your event/story to timely news.
Can you share an example of a recent pitch that was exceptional and why it was exceptional?
While Special Olympics is always a great story to cover, sometimes stations will just cover it with a generic shorter story since it happens every year. However, the Special Olympics PR staff took steps to make it much more attractive for us to cover this year.
They had several unique athletes and coaches who had already agreed to do interviews. We were able to do a personal story about one of the athletes, and it was different from other stations’ stories. The PR staff also was able to work in a timely angle, offering us interviews with athletes/coaches who would be traveling to the World Special Olympic Games in Greece. Personal, unique, timely–great pitch!
Can you provide three tips to consider when pitching TV reporters?
1. Try to have a “news hook” to connect with your story. Most stations don’t like covering events for events’ sake. They will be much more likely to bite if there is a connection to timely news.
2. Let them know what will be there visually for them to shoot. The worst thing for TV reporters is to go to the event and there’s just a bunch of people sitting and eating in a boring room. Let reporters know if there is going to be activities, displays, puppies, anything that will make good TV.
3. Let them know who will be available to talk and when. If the CEO of a big company, a politician or celebrity is willing to do interviews, make sure the reporter knows that. While, of course it’s best if the interviewee is flexible. However, if a spokesperson only has a certain availability (before a speech, after a dinner), let the reporter know that too. Depending on the reporter’s deadlines, he/she may only be able to attend a portion of the event. Knowing they will be able to get an interview helps them feel confident they can turn the story.
Can you provide three things public relations professionals should avoid when pitching TV reporters?
1. Avoid lengthy pitches with lots of attachments. Reporters get lots of emails every day so keep it to the point with the most interesting information first. If a reporter is interested in more information, they will follow up. Also, don’t make the reporter dig for the basic info, especially the where, when and contact information. Always put the contact at the top, including a cell phone number & email. If there is additional information, it is probably better to include it in a link as opposed to an attachment.
2. Avoid a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Get to know the shift the reporter works, who works what beat, and the types of stories a station covers so you can pitch relevant stories.
3. Don’t pressure the reporter for an on-the-spot commitment. Unless it’s a huge event, in most cases it is hard for reporters to let you know for sure if they will be there until the day of the event. Larger stations with more resources are more likely to commit; however, at a station with only a few reporters, reporters are routinely pulled off stories they had hoped/planned to cover because of breaking news.
Does providing an exclusive make TV reporters more likely to cover your event/news?
In general, exclusives are attractive to TV reporters; however, it also depends on the topic and who the exclusive is with. It may be good to gauge the station’s interest in the story and the potential exclusive first. If the topic/event is not something that the TV station is interested in, an exclusive may not change that, and you could risk alienating other stations who are not offered an exclusive.
Thanks again to Andrea for her offering her insight on how best to pitch TV media.
Any recent success stories with TV or have additional questions for Andrea? Share and post below!
It is certainly easy to continue to beat your chest and tell your customers and prospects how amazing you are, what contracts you won, what awards you won and how much your customers love you. But typically this type of communication is only good in moderation. Customers want to know they are working with an industry leader or a successful company, but too much of a good thing can be overkill.
So how do you promote your company without constantly gloating? I recently received an email from iContact thanking us for our loyalty and feedback. At first glace it seemed like a heartfelt thank you. However, the more I read it the more I realized iContact was using this as an opportunity to communicate its accomplishments, including its expanding client roaster, upgraded technology and its Inc. 500 rating.
The message was carefully crafted and it did an excellent job of communicating iContact’s accomplishments without beating its chest too much.
On behalf of the entire iContact™ Family, I want to personally thank you for your continued loyalty and feedback throughout the year.
You and over 65,000 other customers have again made us the number one fastest growing email marketing company in the SMB market and a member of the Inc. 500 list.
As you are probably aware, over the last several months iContact has greatly enhanced its product by adding new features and functionalities such as:
The response from our customer base has been overwhelmingly positive.
Our development efforts are driven by the knowledge that email marketing continues to generate the greatest return on investment. Email provides the most effective targeted and
personalized customer marketing. No other marketing channel allows for such easy, targeted and absolute customer tracking.
If you are not taking full and frequent advantage of email marketing, you are missing out on a tremendous opportunity to gain, educate and retain customers. Check out our newest
Have an immediate need? Call 1.866.803.9462 or contact our support team.
Ryan Allis, Co-Founder and CEO
Packaged Facts just released its newest report on Snack Foods in the U.S. (4th edition). And apparently “meals” (breakfast, lunch and dinner) are slowly but surely being replaced by snackles (just what you want, whenever you want).
In fact, the report predicts that Americans will plow through $77 billion worth of snacks annually by 2015.
According to Vending Marketwatch, this growth in snacking is being fueled by “less frequent restaurant dining, frenzied lifestyles that encourage on-the-go eating, a growing tendency to replace meals with several smaller snacks, and marketer efforts to combat the obesity epidemic by developing healthier snack foods that still taste appealing.”
Implicit in this last point (and not by accident) is the idea that a lot of packaged snacks are healthy. And while it appears to be true that consumers have a larger selection of snacks to choose from – many of which claim to be “better for you” – I am guessing that the vast majority of those billions of dollars can be traced back to the four basic snack food groups – chips, soda, candy and cookies.
Still, it must be noted that even these traditional snack favorites contain less sugar, less fat, more nutrients and a host of special additives. So, snack on America… and don’t be afraid to include fruits and veggies with your snackles.
Considered a serious frontrunner in the 1988 U.S. presidential elections, Gary Hart did what so many politicians before and after him did… he lost his way. Like the Kennedy’s before him and John Edwards and Bill Clinton after him, Gary Hart allowed himself to go where many men had gone before, but shouldn’t have.
Most recently, Anthony Weiner likewise acknowledged that he too was skipping along a slippery slope and found himself in a place where two paths diverged in a wood… and he took the one most traveled by.
Hart and Weiner both denied the initial reports of their bad behavior, only to admit the truths later when confronted with all the facts. And while Weiner is holding firm to his conviction to stay in office, Hart actually pulled out of the 1988 presidential race… only to reappear seven months afterwards when public opinion polls led him to believe he had a shot at getting elected. But as he soon discovered, opinion did not translate into votes.
And so it would seem that some things never change. Men make mistakes, men get caught, men deny bad behavior, men finally fess up when they realize there is no alternative, and they spend the rest of their careers trying to make things right… whatever that means.
As far as I can see, the only thing that has changed through all the years is the technology involved in the revelation of their activities.
Let’s be honest, when most people think of successful consumer publicity, monthly glossies like Real Simple and Good Housekeeping are at the top of the wish list. However, securing coverage with the right online media sites can make just as big of impact for your brand and/or product and help support organic search engine optimization.
At a time when the number and size of traditional print consumer magazines is shrinking and competition for prime editorial coverage is fierce, the online magazine industry is growing and online publishers are learning to deliver content in a format familiar to magazine readers. In fact, a recent article in the New York Times highlights The Thriving (Online) Shelter Magazine Industry.
1. Focused target audience. As the New York Times article identifies, many online publications are focused on one particular niche or topic. For example, an online shelter magazine is entirely dedicated to design while a national glossy like Good Housekeeping may only have five pages worth of home décor and care tips. There is more opportunity for your company or product to be featured in an online publication dedicated entirely to one subject. Also, the publication’s audience is already interested in the topic, otherwise they wouldn’t be on the site.
2. Coverage appears sooner. Typical lead-time for a national consumer print publication is about 6 months. That means even if you start pitching today, the earliest you will see coverage is November. Online magazines and news sites operate on a much shorter editorial cycle, providing an opportunity to secure quick media coverage.
3. Coverage lives on. Once an article is published online, it exists on the Internet indefinitely, while print pubs are often tossed or recycled after reading. Online media coverage has the longer shelf life, and, if it is positive, serves as a testimonial for your brand for consumers conducting online research for years to come.
4. Drive consumers directly to a website. Often online media include a link directly to a product or service website. This can make measuring online media simple. With Google Analytics properly set up, it is easy to track how much direct traffic a particular article resulted in, and whether any of that traffic converted to sales.
5. Enhances organic search engine optimization: If a well-known media site, especially one with a good Google page rank, includes a direct link to your site, it will help to increase your organic search engine optimization. Media sites are seen as more credible sources by search engines than your average site.
6. Reach mobile consumers. As we shared in our recent post on QR Codes, 1 in 2 Americans will have a smartphone by this Christmas. Online media is easily accessible to smartphone users through apps and mobile sites.
7. Gain feedback. Some online publications – those not developed in e-reader formats – provide readers with the capability to post in response to articles. Marketers can gain feedback about their company/products and even respond to consumer comments/concerns/questions.
8. Powerful reach. A common misconception is that online publications do not reach nearly as many readers as traditional media. Whether it is the online counterpart of print media or an online-only publication, these sites reach large numbers of unique monthly visitors. Find the site’s online media kit or use free tools like compete.com or quantcast.com to identify an outlet’s monthly visitors.
9. Real-time sharing. If a reader thinks your product or story is useful or compelling, they can share a link to your story immediately. With print coverage, pass-along readership has value, but often takes longer to occur. With online coverage, your message has the potential to spread faster and bypass geographic barriers.
Need help launching a traditional and online publicity and media relations campaign? Contact me at kayleigh (at) sweeneypr (dot) com.
You would think an iconic figure like Mr. Clean would be synonymous with truth, justice and the American way. But you tell me. Is the new Magic Eraser 30% larger AND 30% more durable or is it just 30% larger and some other percentage more durable?
And what is it 30% larger than? Oh, wait, if you look down in the lower left corner and get out a magnifying glass, you will see that it is 30% larger than its old self.
Just yesterday, Kathy ran up to the store to take advantage of a special on Arm & Hammer toothpaste that was $.75 cheaper per tube if you purchased four tubes. But when she arrived home – pleased with her $3.00 savings – she learned that the tubes are significantly smaller than the old tubes. In short, you pay less because you get less.
Did you know that in the food industry, many manufacturers have adopted something called the “clean label” approach to packaging, wherein you only tell consumers what you think they want to hear. Terms like “natural” and “wholesome” and “found-in-the-cupboard” are preferred over terms like “additives” and “processed.” It is nothing if not confusing.
The real problem with all this – or at least one of them – is the assumption that consumers can not be trusted with the truth. Really? I am pretty sure that when Gary Dahl launched the Pet Rock craze back in 1975, every consumer who bought one (or several) knew exactly what they were buying. No one really thought they were pets.
So, here’s an idea: Tell us the truth (You want answers?). Keep it transparent (I want the truth!). Be clever if you want to (You can’t handle the truth!). But don’t play games with us (Well, we appreciate that but you are under oath now and I think as unpleasant as it may be we’d all just as soon hear the truth.).