Posts Tagged ‘trust’


Insights from the 2012 Oriella PR Network’s Global Media Study

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

The fifth annual Oriella PR Network’s 12-page Global Digital Journalism Study  was published recently, and while there weren’t many surprises in the results, several items are noteworthy to those of us here in the U.S.

Research 
The press release (as the first go-to source for journalists’ research) declined yet again, but don’t let that fool you. It is still the third highest choice out of 12 options in the survey. Interviews with a corporate spokesperson increased slightly and remain the number one go-to source. Oh, and remember the SMNR (social media news release) that everyone was talking about a few years ago? Not a single mention of them this year! From my experience, PR folks are including links to video, audio and blogs in our releases, but that’s just part of a press (or news) release in 2012 and there’s no need to call it by a different name.

Credibility 
Whether online or offline, credibility is a key consideration for Media. This year’s findings showed a retro shift from crowd-sourcing and pre-packaged stories (via press releases) back to input from trusted sources. “Brands wishing to make their voices (or those of their experts) heard…need to put more effort into developing clear points of view, expressing them plainly across all platforms, and building networks of supports—both online and off.” This would indicate a return to more traditional journalism and thus the return of traditional media relations tactics. That’s not to say journalists aren’t sourcing stories via social media. They are, but there must be a pre-existing relationship or the source must be recognized (in some way) as trustworthy.

Journalists as Publishers
This year, for the first time, the study asked journalists about their personal use of digital media channels in an effort to see whether they are using these channels to build their own personal brand separately from that of their employer media outlet. The results were not surprising in that a large number (in the U.S.) are, in fact, using personal blogs, individual Twitter feed, their own YouTube channel, etc. What I thought was interesting, is what the survey did not find much in the way of outlets restricting journalists’ personal use of social media. They suggest, and I agree, that this is likely indicative of publications realizing they will benefit from the journalist building well-known public personas. 

The study’s writers note in the end that “journalists are working harder and they’re also working smarter. They are not taking canned stories in the form of press releases at face value and instead are using a wider range of assets to convey their narratives.” And, with this new class of digital journalists, their expectations of brand communications are now different than before. Primarily that credibility is crucial, and digital storytelling is key—supporting brand stories (press releases) with video, images, infographs, etc.

Do your recent media relations experiences jive with this study? Or how do they differ?

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When It Comes to Brands and Content, Simplicity Matters

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Valerie Simon

iStock_Communication_SmallThis weekend, in a Wall Street Journal article, former chairman of the FEC, Arthur Levitt, suggested: “When an editor wants a reporter to explain something more clearly in a news article, she might say: ‘Tell it to Aunt Edna.’ Aunt Edna is the stand-in for a regular person, someone who has never thought about a cloture motion in the Senate, a municipal bond offering, or some other obscure issue of our public life.” Good advice to all those in the field of communications who are responsible for sharing important information with the public.

The practice of using simple language, however, isn’t always so simple, particularly for those experts in specialty fields, like healthcare or finance, who are tasked with communicating precise and complex information to the general public. Add the pressure and influence of company stakeholders, legal concerns, and a desire to be creative, and it is easy to see why “simple” is not always easy to achieve.

Put yourself in the role of the consumer…

  • Will “Aunt Edna” be confused by your message?
  • Will she grow frustrated trying to understand the industry jargon you are using, or overwhelmed trying to make sense of the information presented to her?
  • Will Aunt Edna grow uneasy or even lose trust in your company?

Now if, Aunt Edna has little patience for jargon and pretentious language, what about “Uncle Walt” (my stand in for the ubiquitous journalist)? Trade publications and academic journals notwithstanding, today’s reporters, producers and editors need to appeal to a broad audience. They are under increasing pressure to produce more, under tighter deadlines.

  • Will Uncle Walt need to read your press release multiple times in order to make sense of it? Will he even read your release for that matter?
  • How difficult is it for him to find the information he needs on your website?
  • Does all of the material and jargon lend itself to mis-quotes and factual misinterpretations?
  • Are the key messages you hope Uncle Walt will take away easy to identify?

Understand that looking out for Aunt Edna is not a charitable exercise. Customers like Aunt Edna are more loyal, and even willing to pay more, for brands that offer communications, interactions and experiences that are easy to understand and use. In fact, U.S. Brands Could Gain $27 Billion in 2011 by Bringing Consumers Simpler Experiences and Interactions, according to the findings of the Siegel+Gale  2010 Global Brand Simplicity Index.

So what global brands offer the simplest communications and what is the real pay off? For more tangible details on the value of simplicity, be sure to join BurrellesLuce and Brian Rafferty, Siegel+Gale Global Director, Customer Insights, for a free on-demand webinar on Using the Power of Simplicity to Optimize Brand Communications and learn about the findings of the 2010 Global Brand Simplicity Index. 

In the meantime, I offer you this challenge: Take a look at your online press room through the eyes of Aunt Edna and Uncle Walt. How much time does it take you to identify the key points? Is there anything subject to interpretation? Does your communication hold up to the “Aunt Edna test”? Does your competitor? Then, on the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog, tell us what you find out.

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Knowledge Empowers Relationship-Building with Your Clients

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

by Richard Gallitelli*

Flickr Image: Knilram

Flickr Image: Knilram

This is my second BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog post.  And as I build my relationship with my editor, I began to think of countless other professionals trying to build relationships in and out of their respective industries. What is the best way to build relationships? There are countless theories, from “underselling and over promising” to “the client is always right,” but relationship building starts with credibility and credibility is wholly based on trust.  So how do you earn that trust with our clients in today’s business world?  The answer is knowledge.

Knowledge will empower you and, ultimately, your clients and help to forge a strong and lasting business relationship.  It will enable you to sell the product and more importantly sell your company’s brand.  Christine Knott, a managing director of training consultancy Beyond The Box, had this to say about rapport building and product knowledge: “…product knowledge is a must if you want to proceed to the next stage. Any salesperson who knows their product inside out and back to front is in a position to sell the right solution to the customer… A lack of product knowledge results in missed opportunities.”

Years ago, I began selling clothes at an upscale retail store. I was 20 years old with hair that nearly touched my shoulders.  Who in their right mind would expect a 40 year old corporate attorney or stock broker to buy a $200.00 shirt from me?  Well, I knew that what was going to separate me from my more experienced co-workers wasn’t just my personality, so I hit the books and learned all the product knowledge I could, right down to every stitch per inch.  Soon enough, there were plenty of corporate attorneys and stock brokers I was helping as repeat customers, which enabled me to proceed to the next stage of relationship building and then onto the next stage after that.  The relationships even outlasted the hair. Heck, two of these clients eventually were guests at my wedding twelve years later. 

“When you have answers your clients trust you.”  It may be a simple sentence, but it’s an even simpler concept.  It’s also the bridge to credibility.  It builds new relationships and strengthens existing ones.  It binds you professionally and your clients will come to know you for what you can deliver and seek you out for it.  Brand recognition effectively comes through word of mouth more than any other form of communication.  And a knowledgeable employee will in turn allow their client to effectively become an unpaid marketing consultant to sell the company’s brand for them.  No need to “under promise and over deliver,” because with knowledge in hand you can just deliver. 

If knowledge empowered that 20 year old with enough trust and credibility that a few years later he could flex could outfit the entire band “Aerosmith” for the Boston Pops, it even could empower you to tell your clients what your company can do for them, rather than what your competitors can’t do.

In today’s business world, just as business professionals need the news in real time, they also need answers in real time.  As a business professional you are going to rely on people you can trust.  And what is more trustworthy than a professional who actually knows what they are talking about? Knowledge untangles the lines of communication, sweeps away pretensions, and begins to build a relationship bridge with your clients.  A simple concept, as simple as two friends having a conversation over cocktails – after working hours of course!

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*Bio: Richard Gallitelli brought a wealth of sales and customer-service experience when he came to BurrellesLuce in 2007. His outstanding performance as a sales associate and personalized shopper for Neiman Marcus (he also has worked for Nordstrom) earned him a nomination by Boston magazine as “Best of Boston” sales associate for high-end retail fashion stores. Rich’s talents also won him praise and a profile in the book, “What Customers Like About You: Adding Emotional Value for Service Excellence and Competitive Advantage,” written by best-selling business author Dr. David Freemantle. Rich majored in English Literature at William Paterson University, and is a published poet and short-story writer. Facebook: BurrellesLuce Twitter: BurrellesLuce LinkedIn: BurrellesLuce

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Relationships and Referrals: Making the Most of Your Two Most Important Business Assets

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Valerie Simon

Early on in my career I received a phone call from a client who began the conversation with, “Hey Valerie, I want to introduce you to a friend of mine…”

I very much enjoyed and respected this client and was thrilled that he wanted to introduce me to his friend. In my mind I fantasized about his intentions. Perhaps we would all go out for dinner, or maybe he was setting me up on a date… my thoughts were interrupted by the words “director of corporate communications” and “in charge of media monitoring.” My heart began to pound as I realized what was happening. I was getting my first referral!

Today I regularly receive such phone calls, but the thrill has yet to go away. While Relationships and Referralsreferrals add up to quantitative results of your efforts to build relationships, they also offer bona fide proof that your relationship is one of trust and confidence (Cue Sally Fields, “They like me, they really like me!!!)

In order to earn new business, you’ll need to invest both time and resources and maximize your opportunities in the most efficient manner. Below are 5 steps to help you become more strategic in your relationship building and increase the number of referrals you receive:

1. Perform a SWOT analysis. Identify your own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and then clearly identify the organizations you are targeting. As you consider different prospects and prospect categories, evaluate the customer needs against your analysis. Brad Douglas, vice president of sales and marketing with Shipley Associates, offers some excellent considerations to help you better assess your opportunities for targeting the right customers.

2. Determine the influencers you need to reach. As mentioned in this post from the Harvard Business Review, you may think you know the decision maker, “the one that is described in the RFP or articulated by those who actively participate in the formal decision-making process.” However, there are often key influencers within the organization who carry informal power as it relates to your opportunity. Take the time to uncover and develop those relationships.

3. Utilize ALL of your current relationships. While most organizations have a sales team or business development group, I am a firm believer that everyone in an organization, regardless of title or department, should consider themselves a member of the sales team. If you are proud of your organization and even if you are not (though you may want to ask yourself why are you working there?), it is your responsibility to help your company grow. Communication and collaboration between the sales team and other departments is essential. Beyond your organization, consider your vendors, partners and affiliates, clients, industry contacts, and even personal networks. If you aren’t actively using LinkedIn it is a great place to start organizing and expanding your network.

4. Ask for the referral! It is interesting that many people shy away from asking for a referral when they need/want it. Consider what’s stopping you. Are you afraid of creating an uncomfortable or potentially annoying situation? If yes, then that is good because it means you are thinking about and potentially being considerate of the person you wish to ask. And that is what distinguishes a “pushy salesman” from a friend you want to help. So be professional to and respectful of the person you are asking, their relationship, and their reputation. But don’t let that stop you from asking. After all, if you have real relationships, qualified targets, and a product/service you believe in, the person you’re asking should have no issue referring you and the person you’re introduced to will soon be thanking your friend for making the introduction.

5. Beyond ABC’s… ABH. While I certainly understand and appreciate the need to “Always Be Closing,” my personal philosophy is to “Always Be Helping.” In sales, and perhaps maybe in life, your reputation is everything. So be the person you want to be perceived to be – whether or not it meets an immediate business goal. In this case, that person is one who is helpful and informative and acutely aware of the needs and goals of his/her clients, prospects, colleagues, friends and family. In other words, take every opportunity to add real value and help them achieve their goals.

How are you making the most of one of your most precious resources – your relationship with others? Do you find it easy to ask for referrals and network when needed? What tips would you add to the list? If you are having trouble, what do you think is holding you back? Please share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

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Are You Paying for Word-of-Mouth Marketing?

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

by Crystal deGoede*

There are a lot of us that follow people on Twitter whom we have never met or heard of just because everyone else is following them. “They” must have something good to say, right? We should trust them. Or we like a brand on Facebook just because they are giving away an iPad, or friend someone from high school merely to see their photos. Yet, we never even talked to them – then or now.  (I know people that have over 2,000 friends on Facebook…come on. That number might be ok for Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. because we are “networking” with peers and colleagues, but these Facebook accounts are mostly personal.)  

In reality, we all are just building our personal brand. In fact, regardless of the Are You Paying for Word-of-Mouth Marketing?network, these people may not really be our “friends” or even acknowledge our tweets but when we update our status or link to an interesting article, they are seeing it and vice versa.  Our own word-of-mouth marketing is taking place with every post, generating a buzz for ourselves, company, brand or clients.

Since the 1980s, when word-of-mouth marketing became the big craze, the continuing efforts of companies trying to create a buzz, by having people endorse their products, has increased. And with social media, it is easier than ever. All marketers know that the ability to generate word-of-mouth advertising is not something that can be purchased, or so they’ve been taught.

However, that may no longer be the case. Celebrities, along with other influencers are receiving compensation to tweet and blog, mentioning certain products to their millions of followers. Can you imagine getting paid $10,000 just to tweet?

Sponsored Tweets, a new Twitter advertising platform, connects advertisers with twitter users. Advertisers can create sponsored conversations on Twitter. Tweeters can earn money for spreading the word. Along with advertising on Twitter, the company also has a sister site Pay-Per-Post, which pays influencers to blog about certain products. Currently they have 400,000 participating bloggers and tweeters, and over 40,000 advertisers.

Besides paying people to tweet and generate a buzz around your brand, you can also gain followers or friends by simply buying them. One way to gain “fake,” “targeted” friends is Twitter1k, which offers several options for the quantity of followers. If you need Facebook friends/fans, well you can buy them too. (Interestingly enough, the use of such friending or advertising services could potentially get you banned from a given social network – though some claim that they are less likely to do so then their competitors - unless of course you are using a service affiliated with the network. Then it seems to be more “ok.” Go figure.)

Why are companies doing this? Well most of us trust a brand that has a higher number of followers, fans, and YouTube views. If a brand has this, many “friends” and most of those friends are speaking positively about them, then we assume they must be engaging or influencing.  We are also more likely to recommed the brands (personal or business) that have lots of friends and followers.  Those artificial friends that are doing your word-of-mouth advertising have real friends that trust them, and that allows your brand to reach different verticals without much effort. Therefore, for some marketers, the incentive to fallaciously drive-up those numbers is very attractive.

If you found out that a brand you trusted had paid for their followers or for praise from someone that doesn’t even use their products or service, how would you feel? Does the ability to buy friends or pay people to be brand ambassadors go against the etiquette for transparency in social media? How does that reflect on the brands and companies who legitimately build their following, slow and steady, over time? Would you ever consider purchasing friends and followers for your brand? Share your thoughts with BurrellesLuce and our authentic Fresh Idea readers. 

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*Bio: After graduating from East Carolina University with a Marketing degree in 2005, Crystal DeGoede moved to New Jersey. In her four years as a member of the BurrellesLuce marketing team and through her interaction with peers and clients she has learned what is important or what it takes to develop a career when you are just starting out. She is passionate about continuing to learn about the industry in which we serve and about her career path. By engaging readers on Fresh Ideas Crystal hopes to further develop her social media skills and inspire other “millennials” who are just out of college and/or working in the field of marketing and public relations. Twitter: @cldegoede LinkedIn: Crystal DeGoede Facebook: BurrellesLuce

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