Posts Tagged ‘branding’


Becoming a Thought Leader: The Convergence of Marketing and PR

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014
Visible Expert Thought Leader PR Marketing Hinge BurrellesLuce Media Monitoring PR Software press clipping

flickr user Alex Gonzalez under CC BY

by Lee Frederiksen*

Your marketing and public relations departments tend to function best when they work in harmony. Marketing strategies help build the necessary foundation to create quality relationships. And when you then take the time to nurture those relationships, it can have a positive effect on the reputation of your firm and how your marketing is received. Both marketing and PR are important to the growth of your business, so how can you simplify the process of them working together?

Our latest research and newly published book suggests that creating industry thought leaders, or Visible Experts, can provide significant benefits for both your marketing and PR departments. We interviewed 130 Visible Experts and 1,028 purchasers of expert services to further understand why these individuals are important and what tools they’re using to generate more leads.

3 Benefits of Having Thought Leaders in Your Firm

While the advantages of having a thought leader on staff go well beyond just three, these were the main benefits that the experts in our research identified about themselves.

1. Brand Building. Of all the Visible Experts we interviewed, 62 percent identified brand building as one of their most significant contributions. Firms that employ well-known experts on staff enjoy a better reputation and increase in brand awareness within their industry.

2. Growth and Business Development. An even greater percentage (66 percent) of respondents listed growth and business development as key benefits they bring to their firms. Through their ability to reach a wider audience, Visible Experts help to generate more leads and improve their firm’s reputation in the marketplace. This increased visibility helps firms close more sales and command higher prices.

3. Multiple Channels for Lead Generation. Thanks to their prominence, thought leaders have access to lead generation opportunities that reach extensive audiences, such as speaking engagements and major publications. Almost all of the experts interviewed regularly reap the benefits of more than one method of lead generation.

What Marketing and PR Tools Do Visible Experts Use?

In addition to understanding the impact that Visible Experts have on their firms, we also studied the tools they use to become more visible and reputable to their target audiences. Through our research, we found that the most successful industry experts use a combination of traditional PR tactics and modern marketing.

The most impactful tools and techniques that Visible Experts use are:

Visible Experts PR MArketing Thought Leader BurrellesLuce Hinge Marketing Media Monitoring Public Relations PR software press clipping

Through this list, we can see the need for rising thought leaders to expand their platform across multiple avenues. Books might be difficult and more time consuming to produce, but they provide the biggest impact. Traditional PR tactics like appearing at speaking engagements and writing articles are still important to the development of Visible Experts, despite the growing importance of modern online methods, like content marketing and producing blog posts.

In addition the greatest impact, we also wanted to know which tools thought leaders rely on to increase their visibility, that also have the greatest return on effort (ROE). Though the lists were similar, there were some surprises:

  1. Books
  2. Online video
  3. Blog posts
  4. Featured news articles
  5. Keynote addresses

Again, we see a good mix of traditional and modern methods, with online video joining the ranks. News articles climbed a few spots from our previous list, showing the importance of traditional media in promoting recognizable expertise. On both lists, writing a book tops the rankings making it not only the most impactful, but also the tool with the greatest ROE.

Becoming a Thought Leader

With the widespread benefits that Visible Experts bring to their firms, consider developing one within your ranks or becoming one yourself. The rise to high visibility expertise is easier than it looks, and having the right mix of PR and marketing tactics in your arsenal can help you get there.

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About the Author:

Lee W. Frederiksen, Ph.D., is Managing Partner at Hinge, a marketing firm that specializes in branding and marketing for professional services. Hinge is a leader in rebranding firms to help them grow faster and maximize value. Lee can be reached at LFrederiksen@hingemarketing.com or 703-391-8870.

Five Back-to-School Tips for Public Relations Students

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
Back to schoo tips public relations students Tressa Robbins PR Public Relations Press Clipping Media Monitoring

flickr user katerha under CC BY

Mentoring, advising and otherwise helping PR students is a passion of mine. You may know that I’ve previously written about what public relations students should do during their summer break, what PR students can do to build their personal brand, and more. If you are an underclassman, you have the advantage of time; however, if you are entering your senior year, there is no time but the present.

Here is a mash-up of those tips (and some new ones) to help put you on the right path to becoming a new public relations professional.

  • First things first, clean-up and refine your online presence—including your social media accounts. Google yourself (be sure to hide personal results by clicking the globe in the upper right)–and don’t forget Bing and Yahoo!. If the first page results do not represent you and who you are, immediately begin digital damage control. (This is even more important if you have a common name or have a dubious doppelgänger out there.) There are free tools to help you keep an eye on your online reputation –personally, I use BrandYourself.

Human Resources professionals will likely tell you they look at LinkedIn profiles but not a candidate’s Facebook page or other social media, as they are prohibited by law to access any information that could be used in a discriminatory way. However, they will also admit that many hiring managers do vet job candidates through online/social sleuthing. Proof in point: According to the 2013 Jobvite study, 94 percent of recruiters use or plan to use social media in their recruitment efforts.

  • Read, write, repeat. Reading exercises your brain. Writing is a skill that requires practice. But it’s more than that. Reading improves your vocabulary, makes you a better conversationalist, gives you a broader understanding of language and improves your storytelling skills (a key component of public relations). Sure, industry-related content is important but also read general news and (try to) read for fun as well.

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” ~Stephen King

 

  • Volunteer. Get involved with an on-campus pre-professional organization (like PRSSA, AMA or AAF). That doesn’t mean show-up once or twice a month and sit through a guest speaker or meeting. Run for office and/or lead a committee (demonstrates leadership). Head-up a fundraising event, volunteer to be part of a team, work in the student-run PR firm (if there is one). If you have free time, volunteer at a local non-profit organization and offer to help with public relations, marketing, social media, blog content creation, special events. Do something that’s going to give you experience and help sharpen your skills—it all counts!
  • Network—virtually and IRL. Seek out and follow industry leaders on Twitter, LinkedIn groups, and blogs so you can learn from the pros; but don’t just lurk—participate! Attend industry events (not just those for students but where there will be pros as well). Research agencies, organizations, companies that you would like to intern with or work for.  Develop and practice your elevator speech; you should have a 30-second spiel that is memorable and opens a window to your personality, your passions and your mindset. Not a laundry list of skills, rather what you can offer to a potential employer. Use your smartphone to record yourself so you can play it back and make improvements. Then, reach out to your targets and request an informational interview. If face-to-face isn’t an option, Skype or Google+ Hangouts are good alternatives. Ask what (coursework, degrees, activities, skill sets) they are looking for when hiring. Ask, given identical academic backgrounds, what makes some candidates standout above the rest. Doing this NOW allows you time to make a quick change to a more pertinent elective, audit a course or self-teach additional skills.
  • Create an online portfolio if you haven’t already. Gather writing samples from internships, volunteer gigs, blog posts, class assignments. Be sure to include any public relations or marketing plans you’ve created, press releases, anything written in AP Style, newspaper/media clippings, presentations, creative design samples, reference letters, special certifications, etc. (NOTE: If you are including any work that was done as part of a group, be sure to notate this and identify which part you actually did.) PR professionals must view themselves as “brands”—it’s a very competitive industry. Your online portfolio, business cards, blog, resume, etc. should all present one cohesive message.

What else should students be doing to prepare for their PR career?  If you are a student or recent graduate, what have you done (or are doing) that’s helped to progress your career?

Branding and Marketing Lessons From Car Sales Trailblazer Laura Toyota

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014
PR Marketing Laura Toyota Brand Reputation Management Ellis Friedman BurrellesLuce Media Monitoring Media Relations

flickr user Mike Mozart under CC BY license

A 25-year-old car saleswoman in Bozeman, Montana, has caused a bit of a marketing disruption at Ressler Motors, the Toyota dealership where she works. As Ad Age reports, Laura Madison won’t take walk-in customers, she won’t help remove snow from the cars on the lot, and she gives out her personal number, not the dealership’s.

She has her own site, lauratoyota.com, which she pays to host, and her personal car is wrapped to advertise that site. (The cost? $3,000, which she paid out of her own pocket.) Her strategy is working big time. While not every marketing and public relations professional has the freedom or the ability to do what Madison does, and her model would not work in every circumstance, there are a number of valuable marketing and public relations takeaways to give your efforts a big boost and greater return.

Forge real relationships

Ad Age reports that Madison sends regular (paper) notes to her customers for their car’s “birthday” or for the holidays. Old-school snail mailed cards carry a lot more personal connection than personalized emails, and since they’re a fast-vanishing, time-intensive tradition, are more meaningful.

Your customers get emails every day. But how often do they get addressed cards in the mail? Investing the time and funds into connecting with people in more personal ways can keep your relationship with customers fresh and positive for a much longer time than a monthly email.

Build your model on referrals

Madison builds her marketing model on referrals and direct content, a savvy strategy given that most Millennials seek out opinions and reviews from their personal networks before making a purchase decision. While there’s no demographic breakdown on her sales, it’s probably safe to say that she sells to people in other generations, not just Millennials.

Word of mouth marketing and referrals have always been vital for the best salespeople, a tactic that marketing and public relations pros shouldn’t ignore. Making it easier for clients and prospects to seek you out based on recommendations from friends will pay off. Consider implementing monthly seminars hosted by a company rep and promote the rep’s bio and expertise more than your brand. Or consider monthly articles from reps accompanied by their bios or getting reps engaged in social media; there are plenty of ways to market the people, not just the brand.

Be a trailblazer

The “we’ve always done things this way” mindset is an easy rut to stay in, but usually doesn’t have a great payoff. Instead of trying to put Madison back in the corporate box, her boss, Jeff Kayser, has encouraged her methods and helped her start educating sales staff to integrate her approach into the dealership’s overall strategy.

Being open to new strategies and ideas is important for any business, not only to harness new talent, but also to keep said talent at your organization.

Be transparent

Car buying is a notoriously opaque and frustrating ordeal, but Madison’s up-front, approachable strategy makes the process easier, which in turn makes more people want to buy from her. On her blog she has an abundance of car-buying advice, including questions to ask your car salesperson and the answers you should expect, an informative blog, information about how she sells, and information specific to hybrids.

This not only positions her as an expert, but also as a resource. Putting good information out in the open helps lessen potential frustration and confusion for buyers and puts her on their side.

Institute a results-based commission

On her site, Madison notes that the dealership doesn’t pay her or other sales reps based on the traditional commission structure, but rather on a pay plan based on volume and customer satisfaction. That in turn makes sales reps more responsive to customer needs, not upselling.

While a revamp – or abolishment – of commission structures isn’t something every organization can or is willing to do in full, it’s something worth considering if it could improve the process for both sales reps and customers.

Demonstrate trustworthiness

Madison’s personal marketing strategy has another benefit – it makes her accountable to her customers. They know exactly where to find her should they have a question or a problem. Most customers find accountability and trustworthiness appealing, and having that sense of security can only be beneficial to business overall.

Kayser reports that since Madison’s arrival at the dealership three years ago, the dealership’s monthly sales have increased from an average of 213 cars to 330 cars. There’s no information to indicate whether this is due solely to Madison’s efforts, or due to increased dealership advertising. Madison’s personal monthly sales almost nearly doubled over three years, from 12 to 20 cars, but it’s hard to measure whether that’s due to the dealership’s overall improvement in reputation and awareness, her natural learning progression, her reputation management acumen, or all of the above. But either way, there are plenty of branding, reputation management, and marketing takeaways from Madison’s drive and skill.

How to Give a Meaningful Brand Apology

Thursday, July 31st, 2014
Brand Apology BurrellesLuce Media Relations Public Relations Ellis Friedman Media Monitoring Press Clipping

flickr user butupa under CC BY license

Apologies from brands and public figures are a thing now. Many have become so ubiquitous and trite that New York Times blog Dealbook even had an apology watch going on for a few months because the glut of apologies has such a hollow ring.

As most public relations and media relations professionals know, all apologies are not created equal; some are heartfelt and helpful, others lack effectiveness. Apologies – good ones – can be effective acknowledgements and the first step back into rebuilding what was lost of your brand. But a good apology is a fine line; apologizing repeatedly for minor things may seem meaningless and overdone, while an apology for something major (like a massive vehicle recall) can seem like it’s not enough if it doesn’t come with sincere regret and an action plan.

Tread carefully with social media apologies

Sometimes, you just have to apologize on social media, especially if the incident for which you’re apologizing happened on social media. But when it comes to customer service complaints on social media, don’t default to an apology, since a high percentage of tweets that are apologies can exacerbate the problem by sounding empty and unhelpful.

There are other ways to empathize and make it right. Did a customer lose his luggage on your airline? Instead of responding with, “We’re sorry,” try for “We don’t like when that happens, we’ll look into it immediately and respond ASAP.” The promise of action – not remorse – is more likely to make someone feel better and encourage confidence.

If you must apologize, do it well

Boilerplate apologies just don’t cut it, so if you decide an apology is called for, do it right. Your brand’s apology should communicate the three R’s:

  • Regret: acknowledge your regret that you caused harm or inconvenience. Tap into your empathy for the person or people to whom you’re apologizing; feeling empathy will make you more sincere.
  • Responsibility: your brand needs to take responsibility for its actions without blaming someone else or making excuses.
  • Remedy: arguably the most important aspect for brands, because when things go really wrong, people want to know that something will be done to make it right, whether it’s restitution, investigation, or expedited action.

It should be hard

If your brand is having trouble finding the words to apologize, or feels like it’s too hard to deliver the apology, that probably means it the right thing to do. Like other things in life, doing the right thing means sometimes choosing the hardest option.

Branding and Marketing Lessons From Publishing a Book

Monday, July 7th, 2014
Branding and Marketing Lessons From Publishing a Book Lauren Skidmore BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas What is Hidden Public Relations PR Marketing Branding

Image posted with permission from Lauren Skidmore

by Lauren Skidmore*

You’ve written a book. Great! But that’s only the start of publishing. Even if you do public relations or marketing as a day job, marketing your own debut book can feel like shouting into a void, especially when you don’t have a built-in audience from a large publisher to do half of the work for you. My debut novel was released a month ago, but the work that went into marketing it began long before that. Here are three quick tips on how to jump start getting that book into the hands of readers.

Create an Online Presence

People need to be able to find you. The general recommendations are to pick two or three social media platforms to do, and then do them well. An author website is a must, even if it’s just a simple landing page – you can always expand it later, and you’ll be glad when you’ve claimed your domain name early.

Facebook and Twitter are also strongly recommended, but it also depends on which platforms your target demographic use. With a young adult fantasy novel, I split most of my time between Twitter and Tumblr because that’s where many of my readers are (and it’s where I have the most fun). I also use a Facebook page and my blog for big announcements so readers can always quickly find out what’s new with me.

Build an Audience

When I pitched my novel to potential publishers, one of the things they wanted to know was how many followers I already had online. As a hobby, I had a Tumblr with over 4,000 followers at the time – that’s 4,000 potential readers right there! Publishers don’t like to take risks, and if they see you already have thousands of potential buyers, that’s one more mark in your favor. Again, pick the place that works best for you. It doesn’t really matter whether you do this through blogging, Twitter, or elsewhere, just get that follower count high.

You also want to hold on to your audience, and newsletters are great for that. People can sign up and get updates right in their inboxes. I suggest only sending these newsletters when you have big announcements, such as a book release or promotions, and definitely no more than once a month so you don’t spam your readers. MailChimp and Constant Contact are two popular tools for creating your own newsletters, and if you’re under 2,000 subscribers, MailChimp is free!

Brand Yourself

What will people associate with your name as an author? For non-fiction writers, you should establish yourself as some sort of authority or expert in your field. You can write guest blog posts or maintain your own blog, participate in social media or forum discussions, or whatever you can think of to put your name out there.

For fiction writers, it’s a little different, although doing any of the above certainly won’t hurt. You’ll want to define your genre, as well as what you’re bringing that’s new. For example, my novel was essentially pitched to publishers as a Cinderella retelling in which Cinderella has to rescue the prince.

Genre? Fairy Tale Retelling. What’s different? Role reversal. My target audience knows right away if this was something they’d be interested in, as well as what makes it different from every other retelling.

The good news about doing all this early is that the groundwork will already be done when your release date is here, and you can hit the ground running on your next novel.  Because in the end, the best thing you can do is keep writing and keep releasing new material. Your books will begin to advertise for you as they take up more shelf space and loyal readers return to see what else you have in store.

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Lauren Skidmore author What is Hidden BurrellesLuce Broadcast Public Relations PR MarketingLauren Skidmore is the Broadcast Keyperson at BurrellesLuce by day and writes by night. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English Teaching and double minors in Teaching English as a Second Language and Japanese. After graduating, she lived and taught in Japan for a year before returning to the United States where she spends far too much time on computers and the internet. What is Hidden is her first novel.