Posts Tagged ‘Target’


Maintaining Authenticity and Substance in Your PR Efforts

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

BurrellesLuce PR Public Relations Authenticity Substance Media MOnitoring PR Software press clipping Great public relations and marketing doesn’t come down to the slickest campaign or the catchiest slogan; as most pros know, it’s about complicated, intangible goals that take long-term cultivation and determined implementation. Two of those things? Substance and authenticity.

On Friday, PRNewser ran two interesting posts. The first, entitled “The 20 Most ‘Authentic’ Brands in the U.S. (and Why),” surveyed people on the brands they perceived as most “authentic.” The catch is, those conducting the survey didn’t define “authentic;” instead they left the definition wide open. The most consistent finding about authenticity, though, was that consumers – 87 percent of those polled – say it’s important that brands “act with integrity at all times.”

So while it can be a great and noble goal to strive for, say, innovation, only 72 percent of consumers said that innovation was necessary to being authentic.

Topping the list, somewhat surprisingly, was WalMart, followed by Starbucks, Amazon, Apple, and Target.

Brands considered “authentic” were not necessarily popular – Chase Bank and AT&T made the list, but GE did not. Instead, authenticity came from people knowing what they’re getting and brands being transparent about what goes into their products. The survey is a great reminder that people generally appreciate being spoken to like adults – being forthright and sincere, especially in a crisis situation, is far better PR than trying to bury one’s head in the sand or obfuscating facts and findings.

Later in the afternoon, PRNewser ran “B2B Clients to Firms: ‘Stop Marketing to Me!’” which shared findings from a survey from The Economist which showed that in B2B marketing, people want more substance and emotional appeal. PRNewser interviewed Ted Birkhahn of Peppercomm for his take, and he defined “substance” thusly:

Substance refers to content that adds tangible value to the audience and typically incorporates one or more of the following criteria:

1. It provides a new and credible angle or point-of-view on an issue that is topical or material to a client’s business.

2. It offers counsel and new ideas to tackle well known challenges the audience is facing.

3. It makes the executive and/or their company smarter about complex issues facing their business, industry, etc.

4. It entertains, when written in a storytelling manner that is painless to consume.

That consumers want substance is a way of saying they want more meaning – they want content that will help them do something or change something, not content that fills a social media feed for the sake of being filled. So here are some tips for being authentic and substantive:

Define your values. You can only stay true to your brand if you know what you values are in the first place. Define them and stick to them throughout all your campaigns.

Define and stick to your voice. Defining your voice goes beyond just deciding if you’re going to be snarky or sweet. It means defining your role in relation to your consumers, and then deciding how that role relates to them.

Listen to what your audience is saying. Listen to the conversations your audience is having around and aside from your brand. What do they want? What information are they not getting, or what did they react will to?

Be transparent. Especially this day in age, glossing things over or pretending they didn’t happen just doesn’t fly. In fact, it just makes it worse. Be straightforward and acknowledge incidents, snafus, or dissatisfactions. It will give your image much more long-term positivity when people know you’re willing to treat them like equals.

In this supersaturated content world, it’s hard to cut through the noise. But the best way to do that is to focus your brand voice around authenticity, substance, and meaning, and what your customers need. How do you keep your brand authentic and substantive?

Follow the Money, Follow the Pins: How Pinterest-ing Should You Be?

Monday, January 20th, 2014
flickr user mkhmarketing

flickr user mkhmarketing

E-Pins are landing on Target’s physical shelves.  When last browsing the store’s home accessories section, you might have noticed Pinterest tags next to certain items. This is one recent example of how hybrid retailers translate digital pins into tags and use social media in their inventory and sales decisions. With top-pinned items selling well online, the question is, will top-pinned items become best sellers on the shelf?

For business and communications professionals looking to Pin-tegrate their social media presence, Target’s evolving Pinterest strategy provides lessons and steps, as Pinterest has become a significant part of their sales and traffic strategy.

In late 2011 and early 2012, Pinterest started driving increasingly significant amounts of traffic to retailers’ websites, becoming a top five source of traffic for several retailers, following Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Yahoo, though search is still all-dominant.

2013 was a significant growth year for Pinterest, particularly among women. In fact, Pew Research data says that Pinterest is used by one-fifth (21 percent) of adults, and that one in three women are Pinterest users.

Inspire and Create a Path from Inspiration to Purchase

Target launched its Pinterest page in March 2012, and introduced the Pin button in the lead up to that year’s holiday season. Bonnie Gross, Target’s VP of digital marketing and loyalty, said last August that Target is in fact “still experimenting … We are in the phase of doing a lot, learning a lot and figuring out what works.” Gross says that Target boards are meant to inspire and then “create a path from inspiration to purchase.”

Target.com users have been pinning (saving) favorite products on their Pinterest boards. Target’s Pinterest approach has evolved into featuring and calling out the most pinned e-items in the physical stores with Pinterest signage.

Other retailers are using Pinterest in creative ways, most recently for their Black Friday and Cyber Monday strategies. Steve Patrizi, head of partner marketing with Pinterest, says that Lowe’s created Pinterest boards of items that were about to go on sale. It was a new way of doing digital circulars to ensure they reach Pinteresters.

Retailers are leveraging their Pinterest partnerships because, as President and CEO of Walmart Stores Inc. Mike Duke said, “The biggest opportunity we have is winning the intersection between physical and digital retail.”

Follow the Money:  Your Audience is Diversifying their Social Media Platforms

Is Pinterest a good marketing opportunity for your organization? Marketers tracking markets and their social media behaviors are honing their consumer connectivity accordingly. If your customers are diversifying their social media presence, your social media strategy should reflect that.

The growth of Pinterest does not mean that your audience is abandoning other social networks. Pew found that 42 percent of online adults in the U.S. use two or more social networks and nearly one-fifth use three or more social networks.

“People are diversifying their portfolios when it comes to [social networks],” Aaron Smith, a senior researcher at Pew, told Mashable. “The addition of a Pinterest user is not necessarily taking away a Twitter user or a LinkedIn user.”

Are you Pinnable? Making your Site Pinterest-Friendly

PR and marketing professionals are used to thinking about SEO and search-engine friendliness. With Google’s Hummingbird, which launched in September 2013, SEO stopped being about keyword quantity and link-building and became about content quality strategy. Pinterest, on the other hand, is image-driven and has different rules for directing the traffic to your site.

Pinterest’s visual focus can be a hard concept for some businesses, like news organizations. But even news editors are finding ways to turn text heavy articles into a Pinterest-friendly visual format. The Wall Street Journal has been using Pinterest, in conjunction with Instragram, to cover the New York City Fashion Week.

As with other social media platforms, the idea behind Pinterest is to foster community engagement along with self-promotion. You are more likely to have a follower share on Pinterest if you include a pin on your website. Pinterest has an application to install a Pin It button to the bottom of your page. You can also have the Pin It button appear when viewers hover over images on your site. Conveniently, Pinterest integrates with other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

How has your thinking about Pinterest evolved? How much of a challenge is Pinterest’s focus on the visual? Are you finding ways to visually express your business and products? What kind of results are you seeing from pinning?

Hashtag #Six-Second Attention Spans: Adding Twitter’s Vine to Your PR Toolbox

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Adding Vine to your PR ToolboxWhile the Wall Street types are figuring out whether to invest in Twitter’s IPO or wait to buy in, journalists, PR professionals and marketers have been figuring out if and how to invest in Vine, Twitter’s emerging micro-video service. It’s just another example of adapting social media strategy to an ever-evolving landscape of tools.

With Twitter’s hotly-anticipated $1.4 billion early November #IPO trending in the investor community, the company’s micro-video sharing app Vine, which integrates into Twitter and Facebook feeds, is heating up with journalists and advertisers. The app, which takes six-second videos and bets on a short attention span, has taken off so quickly that NowThis News, a mobile news service, has hired a Vine video journalist.

By hiring its first Vine journalist, NowThis News, a year-old network with an 18- to 34-year-old niche market, is betting that video news in Vine’s six-second micro-video loop will be as successful as Twitter’s 140-character text format. Their Vine journalist, Cody Johns, now commands more than 1 million followers on his Vine account.

Vine, which was acquired by Twitter in October 2012, lets users shoot six-second videos and share them on Vine, Twitter and Facebook. It has been seeing success with a steady increase in users, climbing the free app charts with an August overall app rank of No. 18, according to Onavo, an app analytics company. Vine says that its community numbered 40 million active users in August.

NowThis News uses Vine to put out political news, with Vines of Sen. John McCain’s position on Russia’s involvement in the Syrian situation.  Vine Journalist Johns, speaking on CNN Reliable Sources, said that NowThis News is working to get more politicians to do six-second Vines. “Vine is geared toward a young audience between ages 13 and 26. [They] need to be exposed to politics and Vine is the perfect medium for them,” Johns said of their targeted demographic.

And since just 5 percent of people younger than 30 closely follow news on Washington and politics, political journalists trying to reach such a demographic might want to invest in creating Vines.

Other news outlets are also finding Vine a useful news gathering and delivery tool. Meaghan Anselm of KSDK-TV in St. Louis says her newsroom uses Vine to find story ideas by searching local hashtags. KSDK-TV is also using Vine in its own marketing by showcasing newsroom personalities and behind-the-scenes news-gathering processes in a bid to gain viewership. “People think it is just a light-hearted, fun thing, but you can get serious content from [Vine],” Anselm says.

In addition to news organizations, Dunkin Donuts, Target, Samsung and Burt’s Bees are just some of the corporate users of Vine for their marketing purposes.

For journalists, PR professionals and marketers with an existing Twitter and Facebook presence and who are looking to more successfully reach a younger demographic more responsive to a micro-video content strategy, integration of Vine into their present social media mix could maximize Twitter and Facebook followers.

Though Vine is an app for Android and iOS, it integrates nicely with Twitter and Facebook, allowing for a useful role on those platforms and for both mobile and desktop viewing.

For NowThis News, the Vine’s six-second video format has proven more successful than its Twitter distribution, capturing 107,300 Vine followers compared to 23,250 on Twitter. And with Vine’s integration into its Twitter feed, NowThis News can leverage its Vine followers to help extend its Twitter reach. It can also better leverage Vine journalist Johns’ 1 million Vine followers to boost the following of the news organization itself. The Vine format has also proven more successful than its Instagram video strategy, where the news service has 53,000 followers.

How is your social media strategy evolving with a constantly changing social media landscape? Has adaptability been your policy when it comes to your social media strategy? Are you seeing a disparity in followers between your social platforms? What are your examples of cross-leveraging social media platforms to fight those disparities?

What Can Retargeting Do For You?

Monday, December 10th, 2012

retargeted adsOnce a website is set up and gains traction, it can become a targeted marketing sweet spot for companies looking for exposure. Companies or marketing firms analyze shopping habits by demographic and direct efforts accordingly.

When a website reaches a high hit count, it becomes that sought-after spot for displaying retargeting ads. Marketing firms will maximize retargeting strategies on such sites to realize the best percentage per post. Facebook is one such site. Facebook is such a big player it might shift the entire ecommerce and pay-per-click scenes.

First, What Is Retargeting?

Retargeting is all about making a conversion based on someone’s expressed interest in a product or service. Search retargeting takes the keywords that users search for, and delivers relevant ads in a timely manner to a (hopefully) still searching consumer. Site retargeting shows ads to users who leave a site. Ads can show items abandoned in a cart, products that were clicked on, or even just a targeted ad. Retargeting’s main purpose boils down to converting more window shoppers into buyers.

In Front of More People

Retargeting on a venue such as Facebook is a high-profile maneuver for any business. This is because Facebook is at the forefront of the international social media scene. Joining in on the bidding process could potentially put ads before hundreds of thousands of people, not just once but as many times as is advisable.

The risk in investing in this, on the part of Facebook, is volume. Whether or not enough traffic goes through Facebook cannot be determined outside of assumption. However, the assumption is that there are perhaps millions of Facebook unique visitors on a daily basis. Facebook will regularly have upwards of over 150 million unique visitors per month. That tallies to just over 5,000,000 per day. That’s potential.

Retargeting and Pay-Per-Click

Watch groups claim that the shift from per-click prominence on search engines to high-hit volume sites like Facebook will have drastic effects on the pay-per-click game. Their logic is that search engine optimization (SEO) is limited to those searching for a particular item, whereas random visibility on a Facebook page will target others. And further, this will retarget one-time window shoppers and lure them back. The interest is there and the product is there; the assumption is that this will more likely lead to a sale.

Whether or not this new strategy by Facebook will drive pay-per-click or SEO strategies to the outer brink of advertising competition has yet to be seen. But it will be an important game-changer as Facebook and other companies continue to develop this strategy.

Some Shaky Ground

Facebook will reap more than just money. As advertisers “follow” more users around Facebook, it runs the risk of having too much access to personal information and behaviors. Facebook has already had to face the scrutiny of conspiratorial thinkers. Concerned users, competitors and governments demanded answers for such an infringement (at least as it is perceived) on personal privacy.

Assumptions can be made for similar attacks on Facebook Exchange, the network’s retargeting interface. Historically, however, Facebook has not shown much compliance to countries or individuals asking them to augment their operations, and there is nothing that says they’ll start now. The way in which this plays out and shapes the world of retargeting will be interesting as Facebook continues to grow.

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Felicia SavageFelicia Savage is a freelance writer, designer and internet marketer living in Indianapolis, IN. As a contributor to technected.com, she loves to discuss her adventures in public relations and marketing.

PRSA-NCC Members Told Social Media is ‘Where We Live Today’

Friday, May 11th, 2012

This post first appeared on Capitol Communicator 5.11.12 and is cross-posted with permission. 

PRSA-NCC session on Social Media

Shown in the picture, (l to r) Chris Brooks, Julie A. Weckerlein, Cappy Surette, Jennifer Mitchell and Gloria Huang. The session was moderated by Debbie Friez, vice president, BurrellesLuce.)

Five communicators made the case that social media is “where we live today” during a May 10 professional development session conducted by the Public Relations Society of America’s National Capital Chapter (PRSA-NCC).

The session at the Navy Memorial, “Social Media Tips and Success Stories for PR Pros,” featured Cappy Surette, director of public relations at U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery; Chris Brooks, manager of social engagement at Hilton Worldwide; Julie A. Weckerlein, public affairs specialist at U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Gloria Huang, senior social engagement specialist at the American Red Cross; and, Jennifer Mitchell, director of social media at BRG Communications. The session was moderated by Debbie Friez, vice president, BurrellesLuce.

Social media allows you to reach “a wider and more diverse audience than we can through the use of traditional media alone,” said Surrette. He and the other panelists said social media provides a great opportunity to attract advocates you may never have considered. These advocates, it was noted, can come to your aid when your organization is being challenged.

Brooks, who said his job at Hilton Worldwide is to put “heads in beds,” added social media allows you to build up a “community of supporters” in advance of a problem. He added , to be successful, you should consider multiple channels – such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Flickr. During his presentation, Brooks also offered these two observations: Approach social media in an organized manner and remember that “measurement is key.”

Regarding social media, Weckerlein told seminar attendees, “don’t be afraid to take calculated risks,” but use the “same voice” and present the “same message.” She also presented a case history from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showinghow cost effective social media can be for an organization. The real cost of the CDC campaign based on the Zombie Apocalypse preparedness relating it to hurricane preparedness was $87.00, but the campaign generated more than three million dollars in estimated marketing value.

In her presentation, Huang said, “you don’t have a choice on whether to do social media, the question is how well you do it.” She offered the followed social media principles employed by the American Red Cross: Be accurate, be relevant, be considerate, be transparent, be human and be compassionate.

Mitchell stated organizations do well in social media when they look beyond their own organization. As an example, she said that social media allows you to ask questions to your target audience to get them involved with your organization. In short, she said, personal relationships are more important than ever, so encourage your target audiences to interact with you. Content is king, and she reminded the audience, “People spread (share) awesome content. They don’t spread mediocre content. However, Mitchel also offered an observation that put social media into perspective: It’s an addition to, not a replacement for, “old” communications platforms.

The bottom line, according to Surrette, is that “You can’t control the sea of public opinion, but (using social media) you can at least navigate it.”

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Phil Rabin has covered trends in communications for more than two decades for a number of media outlets. Currently, he is editor of Capitol Communicator, www.capitolcommunicator.com, an online resource working to bringing together communications professionals who influence and educate the Mid-Atlantic region by providing news, trends, education and opportunities for networking. Phil also is Vice President of West Glen Communications, www.westglen.com, and is a member of the Public Relations Society of America.