Wouldn’t it be awesome if our biggest concern regarding school-age children was the weight of their backpacks… or the amount of time they spend on the Internet?
Unfortunately there is much more to worry about.
For example, the CDC estimates 173,285 sports- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, among children and adolescents are treated in U.S. emergency departments each year. This does not include the hundreds and thousands of brain-jarring incidents that never get reported.
Here’s my favorite topic: Until 2004, the nutritional guidelines for the National School Lunch Program hadn’t been updated in 15 years. During that time, obesity rates among children skyrocketed. One-third of American children are either overweight or obese, with rates of diabetes and other health-related issues also showing dangerous increases. And guess what, children receive about 40 percent of their daily calories from school lunches. As for the remaining 60 percent of their calories, take a hard look in the mirror.
And then there is this…
National statistics recently released by the United States Department of Justice indicate that one out of three girls and one out of five boys will be sexually abused by the age 18. And while it is likely (according to multiple recent studies) these numbers are exaggerated, even 1 out of 100 is one too many.
Anyway, here’s the thing: our children are our future. As a former child and a current parent, I know how hard it is to make it through life unscathed. But we have to try our hardest to do our best. Watch over the children, love them and protect them. And oh yeah, especially this week, take time to be thankful for them.
Retailers are hungry this year to meet holiday shopping sales goals. If seeing holiday decorations before Halloween wasn’t enough to prove this point, now the biggest shopping day of the year – Black Friday – is sneaking into our Turkey Day.
I was absolutely shocked when I received the Kohl’s mailer yesterday promoting the retailer opening at mid-night on Black Friday. But Kohl’s is not alone. Best Buy, Macy’s, Target and hhgregg are also opening at mid-night. Wal-mart will be opening at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving night and ToysRUs is opening at 9 p.m.
At this rate, spending the day with the family on Thanksgiving will soon be a thing of the past. On a more positive note, I guess you can start your holiday shopping after your Thanksgiving dessert with an extra cup of Joe to keep you going.
Also, don’t think you have to wait until the paper is delivered on Thanksgiving to see the Black Friday specials. There are many sites online that post the Black Friday ads.
A case study detailing the specific results of how your company or product helped overcome a unique or difficult challenge can be a powerful marketing tool. Since developing case studies is often time consuming, be sure to maximize their use.
Here are our top five tips for getting more value from your case studies.
1. Secure Media Coverage: You can achieve media coverage for your case studies one of two ways. First, you can develop a news release detailing the situation and high-level results of the successful project, and distribute/pitch to media as a story with a spokesperson available for interview. Or you can also offer key non-competing media the full case study to run as a bylined article; media are always looking for good content focused on real world applications.
2. Develop Engaging Blog Content: Divide your case study into several smaller segments and post a blog series on the project. Ensure each post leaves readers with a reason to come back for the full story.
3. Secure Speaking Opportunities: Use your case study as a way to secure a speaker at an industry show. Most industry shows/conferences are looking for good examples of how attendees can apply new/existing technology in their field. Ask your client to present with you as a team. The show is more likely to select presentations that include peers talking to peers and do not seem like a sales presentation.
4. Video Development: Consider documenting end results and customer testimonials on video. A video version of your success story can easily be incorporated into your website, online advertising, social media, email marketing, mobile marketing and even media relations strategies.
5. Advertising Campaign: If you have several interesting case studies with impactful results, consider structuring your next ad campaign as a series of testimonial stories focusing on applications and results .
Bacteria rules the world | REM’s final album is just old music… poop | unemployment benefits claims drop… deceptacons | Tiger Woods has the shakes | my brother lost his arm | my other brother lost his mind | bananas rock | I really need a vacation | The X Factor sucks… what kind of name is L.A. | snowflakes | Homer Simpson is still funny | Brian Greene’s string theory… boing, boing | Kurt Vonnegut is dead… and so it goes | I miss Michael Jackson | I miss Steve Jobs | beach glass is so smooth | Alcatraz | Irish music | Guinness | sandals | Hatteras Hammock | baseball | Cook Forest | inflatable cars | I love my iMac and my iPhone | I love my life | who was the first guy to open a peanut shell and say: “maybe I should eat these things?” | Twitter and Facebook are both so 15 seconds ago | I think I’ll buy a puppy… a Jack Russell Terrier… but I won’t call him Jack or Russell | Spartacus | Oooo, the sun is shining
A successful media relations strategy includes three major components: an excellent and up-to-date media database, compelling content and aggressive media follow up. But as you execute a strategy with these three elements, also implement these six small habits that will make a big difference in helping achieve more, better quality and ongoing media coverage.
1. Personalization. Send your news release, pitch or media invite to each media contact one at a time. Do not mass mail media communications; media should feel as if you are offering a unique and valuable opportunity and not that they are part of a “spray and pray” strategy.
2. Illustration. If you are able to provide photos or graphic illustrations that support your story, always make them easily accessible for media. Consider uploading to YouSendIt (you can open an account for free) and sharing the link to the images as a URL in the email. DO NOT send big photo attachments to media unless they request a photo.
3. Detailed Documentation. Keep notes of every media interaction – including sending an email, receiving an email response, media calls (whether speaking to a live person, voicemail or not able to reach anyone), media responses, interviews scheduled, feedback about preferences or perception of your company and products, and all resulting coverage. The more familiar you are with the habits and needs of a particular media contact or media outlet, the more chances to secure media coverage.
4. Goal Orientation Before conducting media follow-up calls, identify your desired goal or outcome. Is the goal a simple event announcement listing, a story about a new product, service or corporate initiative, a phone interview with a company spokesperson, a live interview on a TV or radio, on-location coverage of an event, etc. Once you have determined a goal, use it to craft a call to action, and incorporate that call to action in every conversion, email and voicemail during media follow up.
5. Resourceful Presentation. You are not simply asking media to do you a favor by covering your organization’s news, events, products, services and promotions. Approach each media interaction considering yourself as a valuable resource with access to news and content that helps media perform their jobs better. As media relationships grow, your company will become a valued resource media approach when they are in need of an expert. You will start to earn coverage without asking for it.
6. Ongoing Conversation. Whether media do or do not decide to cover your story, ensure you take advantage of the opportunity to learn about future opportunities when speaking with media. When the conversation is flowing and media are not on deadline, ask them to provide insight on regular sections, segments or features and who else at their organization might be interested in hearing from your company.
You are universally recognized as one of the great visionaries of your age. Big, lofty, creative ideas flow through your brain like oxygen through your lungs. You see things most can’t fathom upon explanation… Then you create them. And still, most can barely comprehend the beauty and elegance of your achievements. Not just one or two inconceivable creations, but dozens… Maybe hundreds… Maybe more. You possess the admiration of generations and exist in a class all your own. Unique. Special.
You are Steve Jobs. You have seen virtually everything. And anything you haven’t seen you simply imagined and invented. And yet…
As your life in the world came to its inevitable conclusion, you uttered six amazingly simple words: Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow.
What did you see?
When united, consumers do have power. How corporations respond to their customer base can be the difference between retaining customers and losing them by the masses. Just take a look at these two very different situations.
In July Netflix announced it would split the DVD and streaming video plans and charge $7.99 for each service. This increased the price from $9.99 per month to $15.98 per month, a whopping 60%. The plan was to split the businesses (DVD and streaming video) entirely and call the DVD rental business Qwikster.
Consumers revolted, but Netflix didn’t listen. The company lost 800,000 consumers in the 3rd quarter of 2011. An all time record for the company. And Qwikster appears to be dust in the wind.
In a letter to shareholders, Netflix acknowledged its mistake.
“$7.99 for unlimited streaming and $7.99 for unlimited DVD are both very aggressive low prices, relative to competition and to the value of the services, and they are the right place for Netflix to be in the long term. What we misjudged was how quickly to move there. We compounded the problem with our lack of explanation about the rising cost of the expansion of streaming content, and steady DVD costs, so that … many perceived us as greedy. Finally, we announced and then retracted a separate brand for DVD. While this branding incident further dented our reputation, and caused a temporary cancellation surge, compared to our price change, its impact was relatively minor.”
While Netflix is only considering the 800,000 customers it lost, let’s take a look at the broad impact this had on the brand. If each ex-customer told 3 friends, family members or co-workers how upset they were with the company, you are looking at 2.4 million people. Add in all the negative media coverage and you are looking at 100s of millions of people who have potentially been impacted.
Bank of America
Recently a number of banks, including Bank of America, informed consumers they would be charging a $5 monthly fee to debit card holders. For the record, I’m a Bank of America customer and never received direct communication from the bank that this was about to happen.
Nevertheless, word spread and consumers were furious. Bank of America, among other major lenders, including JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, decided to drop the fees. Certainly consumer uproar had an impact on these changes; however, competitive pressure and lawmakers certainly played a roll as well.
Other financial institutions were already starting to reach out and promote their free checking/debit card use. In fact, I received an email earlier this week about a no-cost option from a credit union. If BoA, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo continued to move forward, you better believe customers would be jumping ship.
Now certainly there are different aspects at play with each of these examples. However, one thing is for sure, consumers do have power. Companies need to be listening and responding when necessary.
According to a study recently released by Bulldog Reporter and Business Wire, about half (48.4%) of corporate communicators have an online newsroom, and an additional 13% intend to develop one in the future. The study also revealed the single greatest challenge with online newsrooms is a lack of resources to keep it updated.
The good news: you can develop a very effective online newsroom without devoting too many resources. Below are the top six components that make an excellent newsroom – one that engages media and requires minimal resources to maintain once up and running.
1. Separate News from Media Coverage: Including recent media coverage in a newsroom is a common mistake. Consider the newsroom’s target audience – journalists looking for information to develop their own stories. Limit your newsroom to resources for media, and package your amazing media hits in a separate section on your website.
2. Highly Visible Media Contact Information: Include who to contact and how to contact them (via phone, email, snail mail, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook) at the top of your newsroom. If your company has different contacts for different divisions, or a separate investor relations specialist, be sure to include all points of contact. The quicker media can find the person they need to speak with and the less barriers they have to reaching that person, the more likely you are to land coverage.
3. Media Kit: Your newsroom should have a section featuring all updated media kit materials – documents that provide access to background information about your company, products, services, corporate leadership and any pertinent financial data (if a public company). It is also very useful to provide unique descriptions of each product/service your company offers that media can easily digest. Each piece of the media kit should be downloadable or accessible directly on the website – to meet all media preferences.
4. Video: With media looking for multi-media content for their websites, video can be a powerful tool. Examples of useful video content include: behind the scenes product development, product assembly/instructions and case studies. Even better: providing embeddable links and downloadable b-roll footage can also add great value to a journalist. Just be sure to avoid sales and human resource videos that are better tools for targeting audiences other than media.
5. Image Library: Organize photos of all relevant product, application, corporate locations, corporate leaders as well corporate logos in one location. Offer media both high and low resolution versions of each image, and be sure to update with new photography as new products are introduced and corporate leadership renews. Be sure to provide photos both as downloadable files or with the option to view online.
6. Press Release Archive: News is a critical element of your newsroom. Archive all recent press releases by providing links for media to access or download previous news releases in their entirety, including release date and proper contact information.
According to the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, children and teens are drinking massive amounts of sugary drinks that increase the risk for obesity and diabetes.
And guess who’s to blame? According to a new report entitled: Evaluating Sugary Drink Nutrition and Marketing to Youth,” companies that are targeting young people and using more sophisticated and ubiquitous marketing tactics to reach them are the biggest problem.
And who is the biggest culprit? According to the report, “From 2008 to 2010, children’s and teens’ exposure to full-calorie soda ads on TV doubled. This increase was driven by Coca-Cola and Dr Pepper Snapple Group.”
In a recent Harvard Business Review interview, Coca Cola CEO Muhtar Kent stated that a company like Coca Cola isn’t able to cure a problem or issue as big (no pun intended) as obesity. “What we are doing,” says Kent, “is providing choice to the consumer… products with no calories, products with medium calories and products with full calories.”
Kent goes on to explain that eliminating full calorie products is not the solution because many people want full calorie products and do not suffer from obesity because they exercise. In other words, if you are fat and have diabetes, it is your own fault, not ours. You lack awareness and balance.
Meanwhile, Kent mentioned nothing about the excessive advertising. Yet, according to the report, “Two-thirds of the brands analyzed appeared during prime-time programming, totaling nearly 2,000 appearances in 2010. Coca-Cola Classic accounted for three-quarters of brand appearances seen by children and teens.”
The report concludes: “If beverage companies want to be part of the solution to the obesity crisis, they must do more to protect children and teens from marketing for sugary drinks and energy drinks.”
It would be entirely unfair to blame Coke and its CEO for the growing epidemic of obesity and diabetes in the U.S., but it is not a bad place to start. According to its Mission, Vision and Values, “Coke must look ahead, understand the trends and forces that will shape our business in the future and move swiftly to prepare for what’s to come.”
I’d say this trend is pretty obvious: If you don’t stop targeting kids with unhealthy products, then you are simply destroying your future customer base. That is not a good strategy for success.