How PR and Marketing Work Together to Drive Growth

July 24th, 2014
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PR Marketing Work Together Growth Hinge Marketing BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas Public Relations PR

flickr user Flazingo Photos under CC BY license

by Chris Ourand*

In one corner, your marketing team is doing their darnedest to drive conversions and generate leads. And in the other corner, the PR people are working to generate awareness and tell a compelling story about your firm. This is historically how these two disciplines have been handled and understandably so, to an extent.

But in our increasingly digital world, firms that continue to treat public relations and marketing like separate entities might miss out on opportunities for significant growth. In reality, these disciplines can empower each other—the marketing team helping to create awareness, and the PR team contributing to lead generation and conversions. Here are a few ways to help get the most out of both.

Produce compelling, quality content for prospects. Changes in SEO and analytics have made it necessary to produce plenty of high quality, unique content. PR professionals are expert at making organizational and industry news into compelling content. Your in-house team understands how industry trends impact your firm and clients and can tell these stories in ways that engage prospects and generate interest in your firm.

Integrate news into marketing content. Take news packages (videos, press releases, articles, interviews, etc.) and work them into your content marketing. Integrate these items into your blog, email marketing campaigns, newsletters, guides, whitepapers, and e-books. Find ways of providing this type of content to different audiences. Your PR people will know the best angles for the stories and your marketing folks will know the best time and way to reach the appropriate prospects. Marketing’s ability to monitor and measure your channels will help you know how and when your re-purposed news items are striking a chord.

 Strategize your big picture and the details. Regardless of the particulars of your PR and marketing content, you’ll need a specific strategy. You can start with broad goals (like convey expertise in new market, or grow influencer audience), but the more specific you get, the more likely you’ll generate results and be able to track them. Having a clear idea of your firm’s overall strategy helps the two arms of your visibility/conversion team to work together. Your marketing folks can tailor websites, emails, etc. to combine expertly with your public relations department’s case studies, press releases, speaking opportunities and so forth.

 Connect with customers. Your marketing team is expert at talking to your audience … from a distance. Creating PR events and opportunities outside marketing’s normal comfort zone is a great way to build audience loyalty and get face-to-face feedback on your products, services, and initiatives. It never hurts to remind prospects that you’re part of their community. Nourish these connections and you’ll create brand ambassadors who will promote, support, and recommend you.

 Stick with your story. Sure, taglines are great and can make you quickly memorable. But the story of your organization needs to be told, not replaced by a bumper sticker’s worth of copy. You know why your firm is remarkable. There will be times to be brief, but make sure your combined PR and marketing efforts tell a consistent, compelling story. Include calls-to-action where appropriate and your narrative will drive conversions.

So bring your PR and marketing teams out of their respective corners. Meet in the middle of the room. PR and marketing are different in some very basic ways, but combining them will generate buzz through social media, connect you to the media and other influencers, and create actionable visibility that will result in growth.

 

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Chris Ourand is an Account Director at Hinge, a marketing and branding firm for professional services. Chris can be reached at courand@hingemarketing.com or 703-391-8870.

 

How – and Why – to Fact Check Your PR Writing

July 23rd, 2014
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How – and Why – to Fact Check Your PR Writing Ellis Friedman BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas Public Relations Media MonitoringAs the tragic story about MH17 broke last week, broadcast news networks (especially those of the 24-hour variety) scrambled for any scoop they could find. In the mad dash to find an eye witness, MSNBC got pranked pretty good when a caller who said he was a sergeant stationed at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine claimed he’d seen a missile hit the plane.

He then made a lewd reference and cursed at the host, Krystal Ball, who didn’t pick up on the rather obvious fact that he was pranking her. Both MSNBC and Krystal Ball come away looking rather poorly; someone manning the phones at MSNBC obviously didn’t bother to verify the man’s story – a simple Internet search would have shown that the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine is stationed in Kiev, which is more than 200 miles from Hrabrove, the site of the crash. At that distance, he wouldn’t have seen a thing.

Put that whole story next to the study released this week, which shows that journalists live tweeting during the 2012 election acted more as stenographers than reporters, as 60 percent of them just repeated what the candidates said, instead of fact-checking such claims for veracity.

As more and more marketing and public relations professionals are themselves becoming content creators in addition to their long-established role in working with journalists, it’s important to remember that with your organization’s reputation on the line, fact-checking is something we all need to do – not just journalists.

This doesn’t mean you need to employ a fact-checking machine a la The New Yorker, but it does mean that taking a little extra time to double-check that everything is in order can save you or your organization from making a silly but meaningful blunder.

Things that always need to be fact-checked:

  • Names, dates, locations, job titles
  • Quotes – always check that you have not only the words right, but the context as well
  • Numbers and statistics
  • Basic facts – because “facts” aren’t always completely factual

Google is a useful fact-checking tool, but if you’re Googling to find out whether a statistic is correct, make sure that the sites you’re using for verification are themselves reputable, and that you can find the same statistic in more than one place. While Wikipedia can also be useful, keep in mind that pages can be and are frequently changed and updated, so it should not be your independent source of information, especially if you’re doing an online-only fact check.

Email and the telephone are also great tools – if you need to make sure someone actually said what they said, just call. In journalism, fact-checkers won’t read a quote back to the speaker, but in public relations and marketing, there is no such restriction, so if there’s an error, it’s easy to re-work a quote.

Chances are that you won’t be live-tweeting election debates and that your account won’t be held up to as much public scrutiny as a journalist’s, but even if you’re at a conference and life-tweeting a presentation, keep in mind that if the speaker makes an assertion, you tweet it out, and that assertion later turns out to be incorrect, you could come away with a negative perception. You never know when what you tweet will come back to haunt you – just ask Justine Sacco.

Here’s the Media Monitoring Checklist That Will Enhance or Replace RFPs

July 21st, 2014
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PR RFP Checklist Ellis Friedman BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas Public Relations Media MonitoringThe formal RFP process is time- and resource-intensive for both the requestor and the requestee, and in the search for the right media monitoring and analysis package, more public relations professionals and organizations either don’t have the resources, or are choosing to allocate them elsewhere, therefore making final decisions based on partial data.

To strengthen the ability to make a quick, at-a-glance comparison of media monitoring and analysis services, BurrellesLuce has created this free RFP resource, which consolidates the most important and frequently-asked questions that arise during the search process. This includes checklists for print monitoring, online monitoring, broadcast coverage, self-guided search, software, automated analysis, custom qualitative and custom quantitative analysis, services, and rates.

To help you make an informed decision that fits your needs, there are columns to compare media monitoring and analysis services and what they offer.

And because all good measurement strategies start with measurable goals, the first section is designed to help you outline your measurable goals, your audience, and your needs.

This media relations and PR RFP resource is designed to make the lives of public relations and media relations professionals easier, so click here to download this free resource.

 

Dealing With the Before, During, and After of Vacation Time

July 17th, 2014
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Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo by Ellis Friedman

On Tuesday night, I returned from a two-week vacation to Ireland and Scotland. Since it’s vacation season, I bet a lot of professionals are going through – or are about to – things similar to what I experienced, before, during and after the vacation.

Before

For some reason, American workers only use about half of their allotted vacation time. Some companies make it hard to do otherwise, but if you can take your vacation, you absolutely should. Even if you can’t take off two weeks at a time, take some time. Being on vacation (or just away from work) helps decrease stress and is good for your health. Plus, time off makes life more fun.

Before you head out of the office, leave yourself a list of what you were working on. You might think you’ll remember, and chances are you eventually will, but between the logistics of travel and the unfortunate realities of returning to the real world, there’s a good chance things will slip through the cracks. Take the last ten minutes of the day before your vacation to write down who you’re emailing with, the projects you’re still working on (even if they’re not due for weeks), and the first things to do when you get back. It will make your transition back a lot smoother – trust.

During

When you leave, unplug as much as you can. I brought my phone, no laptop, but I’ll admit, I scrolled through and posted on social media once or twice a day. (Funny thing: my parents were on social media way more than my husband and I were. Who says Millennials are the most connected?)

Isn’t it ridiculous to travel around the world – or go through the hassle of making vacation plans – just to sit at the breakfast table and realize everyone is on their phone? Yes, this happened. My husband, who wisely left his phone off, sat through a few breakfasts where we were all on Facebook. After that, I made an effort to only check social media at the beginning or end of the day and not at the table, but as I’m sure he’d tell you, I didn’t have a perfect record. Just put the phones down. It will be OK.

Finally, try not to work. I scrolled through my work email maybe three times, mostly because I was curious to see if anything was happening, but I didn’t open any emails. About 60 percent of people who do take time off do actual work on that time off. Please don’t work. Work makes a vacation cease to be a vacation.

Things will be fine. The work world will go on, but your vacation won’t.

After

It’s almost guaranteed that re-entry is going to be difficult. After walking five to 10 miles a day (sometimes more), being outside, and having no responsibilities, sitting in front of a computer and writing this is not the easiest or most amazing thing I’ve done recently. And after two weeks on my phone, I can hardly remember how to type.

Regardless, I feel pretty good, but not everyone does; the post-vacation blues are a real thing. Make sure you give yourself time to readjust. Even if you’re back at work the next morning, go easy on yourself. This doesn’t mean slacking, but do things to make your life easier, like simpler dinners, triaging chores, or just hiring someone to clean the house this once. But make sure to get right back into healthy habits like exercising and hobbies – it’s amazing how fast life’s stress comes back.

Brands Empowering Women—Are You Feeling It?

July 14th, 2014
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Brands Empowering Women Are You Feeling It Crystal DeGoede BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas Public Relations PR Branding mEdia Monitoring Press Clipping

scan from National Museum of American History via Wikimedia Commons

In this day and age you would think that being intelligent and confident would allow women to be taking seriously in the board room, on the golf course and at home, but there are still many who struggle with self-esteem and the entitlement to feel empowered no matter where or what situation they are in.

Luckily, several brands have jumped on board and created campaigns that don’t just appeal to women that are housewives and mothers but to strong ambitious women. These brands are inspiring women to feel assertive when it comes to the way they look, act and feel.

Let’s look at a couple of brands that are leaders in empowering women:

Dove
Over the last couple of years, Dove, has certainly become the leader in the movement with their “Campaign for Real Beauty”. The goal behind the campaign is to “Imagine a World Where Beauty is a Source of Confidence, Not Anxiety.” The campaign started a global conversation about the need for a wider definition of beauty after the study proved the hypothesis that the definition of beauty had become limiting and unattainable. Among the study’s findings was the statistic that only two percent of women around the world would describe themselves as beautiful.

Ban Bossy Campaign

This is not your customary ad campaign; it is a PSA by Lean In and the Girl Scouts of the USA. Many celebrities have joined the campaign to empower not only women but young girls to take the leadership role, be ambitious, and know there are no limits to what they can achieve. And “bossy” is just the beginning. As girls mature, the words may change, but their meaning and impact remain the same. Women who behave assertively are labeled “aggressive,” “angry,” “shrill” and “overly ambitious.” Powerful and successful men are often well liked, but when women become powerful and successful, all of us—both men and women—tend to like them less.

Pantene
Last year Pantene launched The Global #ShineStrong campaign, which educates and enables women to overcome bias and societal expectations and celebrates strong women. A recent ad campaign was created to trigger water cooler talk regarding how women innocently minimize their power by always apologizing, even though there is no need to. The “Not Sorry” ad has already received over 2.5 million views, with hopes to be a successor of the Pantene Philippines “Labels” campaign from last year that has over 46 million views.

Kevin Crociate, marketing director of Procter & Gamble’s North American hair care business, said “We’ve struck a chord in terms of changing gender norms for women” and that they “used market research to look at what gender norms were holding women back and tried to tap into the most relevant and insightful areas. This problem of saying sorry, it wasn’t just something women in the U.S. were facing but globally. After the success of the first campaign, ‘Shine Strong’ is something we’re committed to as a brand.”

While many of the female species may claim that these brands are being condescending in their attempts to to empower women, I think that ads that enable women to show their true beauty and poise will continue to encourage all of us.

Do you think these campaigns are actually empowering, or are they calling us out for lack of confidence and implying that we hold ourselves back? Or worse, are they pandering?