Category Archives: marketing

Do You Need A Public Relations Agency?

A very common question asked when considering public relations is, do I need a public relations agency?  The answer is yes, you do need a public relations agency for a variety of reasons (and not just because we are a public relations agency).

Why you ask do you need a public relations agency?  Let us count the reasons why:

  1. The media receives thousands of pitches a day.  Having a public relations agency make the media contact adds credibility to you and what you are promoting.  It shows the media that you, your company, service or product are credible and you are placing money behind it to promote it.  Trying to do it yourself lessens your credibility in the eyes of the media.
  2. It saves you money and time.  In business, everything revolves around the bottom line.  In this alone it is smarter to retain a public relations agency.  Public relations is not just press releases, press conferences, and media appearances.  It also includes the social media aspect of maintaining a company’s blog, and social media pages.   This would require several salaried people.  In terms of salary alone, you are losing out as with a retainer with a public relations agency you have a team of professionals on your account that handle each aspect of that public relations campaign.  For small and medium sized organizations, the savings is even greater.  Not only are you saving money, you are saving time and remember time is money.  There are not enough hours in the day for a small or medium sized business to do everything that needs to be done.  And time away from your core business means lost opportunities.
  3. The personnel at a public relations agency are the experts in their field.  They bring their expertise in writing, social media, media relations, branding, and special events to the plate.  They know public relations.  They know how to position a client for the maximum exposure.  They have the contacts with the media.  They know which reporters will cover which topics and also how to package a story that the media wants.  Many people think of an interview in terms of sales, it isn’t.  If a reporter suspects someone is just trying to sell them something through their story it will never see the light of day.  An experienced public relations expert knows how to package a story so that it is newsworthy to the reporter while still being of marketing benefit to a client.
  4. Crisis Communications. Most people think of public relations as positive news.  It is, until disaster strikes. Businesses always have a plan for when a crisis strikes in how to handle things except in terms of publicity.  Working with an agency means a preliminary crisis communications plan has been developed beforehand that can be altered to fit the crisis.  Agency personnel have the skills and experience to objectively evaluate your business, clearly assess its strengths and weaknesses, and figure out how to use them in crisis communications.
  5. By bringing in someone from the outside you are bringing in someone who can be more objective and doesn’t have the emotional commitment and blinders that an owner or company employee has and can assess what ideas will work and what won’t work.
  6. A public relations agency tends to be more creative in developing story ideas and teasers to induce the media and can think outside the corporate box. An agency constantly monitors the news and often sees opportunities that others don’t.  For example, our agency represented a marriage counseling service and when the Anthony Weiner story broke during the 2016 campaign, went into pitching mode to have our client discuss why powerful men cheat which resulted in coverage on FOX News Channel, CNN, HLN, Good Morning America, People Magazine, and the New York Post.

So, based on these reasons, the answer to whether you need a public relations agency is quite simple and emphatic.  Yes, you do.

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Black Friday Branding Blunders

The Friday after Thanksgiving has been branded Black Friday in the public’s consciousness for years as an integral part of the traditional holiday season as the Macy’s Day Parade, Santa Claus, and Thanksgiving. For decades it has signaled the start of the holiday season for retailers with a strong Black Friday signaling strong holiday sales and signs of a robust economy. Consumers have flooded the stores waiting for coveted specials that come but once a year. Retailers have started opening earlier and earlier each year. Now many retailers are open on Thanksgiving Day with some beginning Black Friday sales days and weeks ahead of Thanksgiving. In this day of online shopping many are offering Black Friday discounts online so the consumer can do all of their holiday shopping from the ease of their computer without even leaving home. Plus for those online shoppers who want to wait a bit, there is now Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving for the best online deals.

So from a branding point are retailers hurting themselves with the way they have extended Black Friday? The answer is a resounding yes.

First Black Friday was branded as the day for the best holiday sales that happened but once a year that nothing could compete against. Today consumers no longer believe that. Black Friday is not a special event it has become like one of the billboards you pass time and time again and stop paying attention to after a while. The day no longer has meaning to consumers who begin seeing Black Friday advertised days if not weeks before Thanksgiving itself. So the credibility of retailers who claim that Black Friday deals are the best of the year is strained.

Next retailers stood out and enhanced their brand identity with their fabled Black Friday sales. Consumers would brave the elements to show their loyalty to a retailer who offered those exclusive sales, today all the sales seem the same and the retailers all seem the same except for those who differentiate themselves from the crowd.

Yet retailers that opt to do the opposite are building deeper brand loyalty and attracting even more consumers. Consumers today look for more than just the cheapest price, they buy into a brand’s story and its beliefs. REI made headlines when its announced that its stores would be closed on Black Friday. That move directly appealed to its consumers who frequent the store not for its sales and products (although that plays a role) as much as for what the retailer stands for in this world. Likewise Nordstrom garnered media attention by announcing that its stores would not only be closed Thanksgiving but there would be no holiday decorations in the stores until after Thanksgiving. Discount retailers, Marshall’s, T.J. Maxx, and Homegoods have mounted massive advertising campaigns reminding consumers of Thanksgivings long ago and that all of their stores will be closed Thanksgiving. These retailers and others like them stand out to consumers. Consumers are more likely to seek these brands out on Black Friday as they buy into the story that the discounts offered mean something and that the brand itself is more about profits and the bottom line. Additionally, this strategy is likely to develop brand loyalty not only during the holidays but year round.

Black Friday as we know it may be close to disappearing. Yet retailers and brands that are savvy will honor the tradition knowing that it is smart way to stand out from competitors but beyond that build long lasting consumer loyalty.

Marketing Is Real Time: Don’t Overlook Social Media

Social media drives narratives. It is becoming the new way that brands reach consumers. An active social media presence is essential for any brand. Brands do shout outs on Twitter and Facebook when they are referred too. Yet one brand had a missed opportunity – Eveready/Energizer batteries.

In the Republican presidential debate, candidates were asked what their Secret Service code name would be if elected. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush who has been called low energy by Donald Trump and others said, “Eveready. It’s very high energy, Donald.” Even Trump was forced to laugh.

This was a perfect opportunity for Eveready or its parent company, Energizer to take to social media for the shout out. Instead there was total silence. Energizer has not utilized its Twitter account since August 3rd. Other brands such as Harley, Scott Walker’s choice for a Secret Service name or Duck Dynasty that acknowledged Mike Huckabee’s duck hunter choice also were slow to take to social media.

Brands should remember from this, marketing in this world of social media is 24/7.

Are You Engaging Bloggers?

Did you know there are over 70 million blogs worldwide? Mention on a blog often has greater reach than traditional media for a product, service, or book. A positive review of a product, service, or book on a blog often has a greater consumer impact than millions spent on traditional advertising.

Blog tours are becoming as important as media stories for companies and authors. Set during a period of time, companies and authors are invited to a blog and promote their featured product, book, or service with live questions and interactions, even giveaways. Blog tours allow for consumer engagement and leave a viral footprint long after the event and goes hand in hand with all other promotional activities.

How To Marketing Tips For The U.S. Cultural Mosaic

The cultural mosaic of the United States has never been more intricate. Varied cultural groups — many in their second and third generation — continuously blending together, maintaining and discarding various aspects of their own heritage while adopting, adapting and integrating different aspects of the new one that surrounds them.

U.S. Hispanics are no exception. Take something as (seemingly) fundamental as language, for example: according to a 2012 Nielsen report, only 56% of U.S. Hispanic adults speak only or mostly Spanish, while a full 40% speak only or mostly English. Four out of every ten Hispanics in the United States now speak more English than they do Spanish!

 However, this doesn’t mean that Hispanics are losing their culture in the wake of Anglo-American assimilation. Quite the contrary: the Latino culture is a vibrant, emotional, meaningful culture that continues to grow and thrive. But it does shed light on one of the most important lessons for today’s marketers and brand managers: when marketing to U.S. Hispanics, culturally-relevant content is primary, and language is secondary.

 Director Robert Rodriguez (Once Upon A Time In Mexico, Spy Kids, Sin City) understands this shift and its implications, announcing in February his plans to launch El Rey, a television network which will contain original Latino programming — entirely in English.

 “I have five kids of my own,” he said, adding that while they’re bilingual, they converse mostly in English. “They want to feel integrated into the mass community, but [still] have something they can point to that really reflects their identity.”

 Rodriguez isn’t the only one picking up on this linguistic shift. Cosmopolitan for Latinas is taking aim at bicultural readers, recognizing that even though Hispanics want content that resonates with them on a cultural level, they read, speak and work primarily in English. Blogs like Mamas Latinas and TV channels like NBC Latino are following suit.

Recently launched network MundoFox, on the other hand, is doing the reverse: seeking to emulate American programming “in every way except the language in which it is delivered … That means television that feels, looks, sounds like American shows, but just happens to be created in Spanish.” So instead of creating traditionally Hispanic programming in English, MundoFox wants to create traditionally American programming in Spanish.

 

Although MundoFox might target a different subset of Hispanic consumers than El Rey, and the two approaches may seem to contradict, both apply the exact same principle: when marketing to U.S. Hispanics, culturally-relevant content is primary, and language is secondary. It’s no longer a given that marketing must take place in Spanish. Consider the content first.

The same goes for any company, product or brand looking to tap into the Hispanic market. The content of your messaging should be strong enough to transcend the language in which it is presented. Make sure you understand who you’re talking to and what resonates with them before jumping to any conclusions about their preferences. The answer — and the language — may surprise you.