Author Archives: Juliet Straker

Juliet Straker

About Juliet Straker

Juliet Straker is president of marketingworx, a Phoenix-based public relations and marketing communications firm founded in 2002. For more information on marketingworx and its services visit www.marketingworxpr.com.

Marketing action plan

How can you turn a PR crisis into success

The old saying, “No PR is bad PR,” has been put to the test the past few weeks with the PR circus surrounding Amy’s Baking Company. The Scottsdale restaurant generated local and national press after the restaurant and its owners were featured on Gordon Ramsay’s reality show, Kitchen Nightmares. Ramsay found the problems with the food, the service and the owners’ management practices. .  It was so terrible that Ramsay actually walked off the show, a first in the show’s history.

Following the episode airing on May 10, the story went viral with social media including a frenzy of posts on the restaurant’s Facebook page.  The owners, Amy and Sammy Bouzaglo responded with controversial posts and claimed their social media pages were hacked. The media stories continue with many weighing in on the bistro’s chance for survival. By the same token their “Likes” are now up to 102 thousand on Facebook, and a post-show re-grand opening event generated more news articles, TV coverage, and is rumored to have prompted 1000 reservations for diners in the coming weeks. Whether this was or was not an intentional PR stunt, we may never know; but we do know that the negative PR also generated positives.

Is this a PR recipe for disaster or does Amy’s Baking Company have the ingredients it needs for PR success?

As publicity goes, a successful PR campaign should help increase awareness. If the public didn’t know about this place before, it is safe to say a majority of Arizonans and beyond have now heard of Amy’s Baking Company. A PR campaign should also help increase social media interaction and engagement. The skyrocketing growth of Facebook “Likes” and trending on Twitter certainly demonstrates success there. A good PR campaign should also help increase web traffic and traffic in the door. While we do not have access to the company’s Google analytics, it is reasonable to expect its web traffic rose considerably. We also know from the news coverage, that a number of curious new customers filled tables and attracted interested bystanders during the restaurant’s re-grand opening event.

After all is said and done the secret ingredient for long-term PR success will be  the restaurant’s ability to deliver the goods. Amid all the media attention, including the negative talk, Amy’s Baking Company has a small window here to reach a big audience. If they can actually offer good food and good service, they can change the public’s perception and the conversation. Thanks to the PR they now have a tremendous opportunity to generate new business and fill their place beyond the initial curious.

The same secret holds true for any business when it comes to PR. Most of the time a proactive PR campaign is implemented to produce positive news coverage. But even under the best circumstances when a company is featured in a business profile or an executive is quoted as an expert in industry related news, the true success of PR rests on the company’s ability to “walk their talk.” It’s not enough to say Company “X” has the most innovative “Y.” For PR to have a positive, lasting impact, company “X” needs to deliver the innovative product or service they claim to offer, continue to do so and continue to let the public know.

In a world where customers can post reviews, comment or share information 24/7, having a strategic and proactive PR campaign has never been more important.  For businesses to successfully utilize PR, it begins and ends with providing a good customer experience.

Marketing action plan

Secrets to a successful client-agency partnership

Unlike the scenes we all love in Mad Men where account execs spend  the day wining and dining clients and brainstorm sessions are always accompanied by cocktails, enlisting the expertise of an agency is serious business. And like any partnership, the better the communication, the more successful the relationship and the results.

When a company hires an agency to create an advertising campaign, develop and execute a marketing plan, and/or spearhead strategic public relations, utilizing outside experts is an investment of both time and money.

To get the most out of your investment here are five simple rules to follow:

1. Remember to share.

In order to do great work the agency needs to know everything it can about your business and your team. Who knows that information better than you? Take the time to share information about the company, its people, products, services and the customers you are trying to reach. The more information the agency has the  better the possibilities are for them to create a compelling campaign and  generate positive results.

2. Take time to collaborate.

Collaboration takes sharing one step further and is more on going and proactive. Working closely with your agency’s team and communicating frequently to share ideas and information will provide more opportunities for them to generate positive PR coverage, enhance a current promotional campaign or fine tune your advertising message.

3. Enlist a plan.

You can have a great idea, but if you don’t allow enough time to execute it, it may not work. Outline short and long term goals and deadlines and create a plan on how to implement. Thinking ahead can be the difference between success and failure of a campaign.

4. Don’t be afraid to trust.

You hired experts for a reason, so listen to their ideas and recommendations. That doesn’t mean you must always agree or do what your agency recommends, but have faith that they know what they are talking about and hear them out. The agency is there to help promote your business and they want you to succeed as much as you do.

5. Be willing to take a risk.

Step outside your comfort zone and be willing to try something new. When your agency presents a new logo design, ad campaign or tagline, take time to consider before ruling out something new or different. Your agency is trying to get you noticed and sometimes the best way to do that is by opening your mind to taking more calculated risks.

To be sure your marketing efforts are on track, it is important to sporadically evaluate where things are and how things are going. At the very least, once a year, you and your agency should sit down to discuss progress and results. What were the company’s achievements during the past 12 months? Is the marketing and advertising generating results? Have the company’s objectives been met or are there any changes? Are there problems or complaints on either side? It’s much like a marriage or any significant long standing relationship. You need to recognize what is working and determine what areas need improvement. Making a commitment to clear and consistent communication will only serve to strengthen the team and allow you to prepare for a successful year ahead.

social.media

Super Bowl power outage shines light on PR opportunity

One of the biggest victories that came out of this year’s Super Bowl was not the Baltimore Ravens win, but the fast thinking public relations and creative teams that seized the moment when the lights went out. When the players were side lined due to a 34-minute power outage viewers immediately took to social media. According to Twitter, users sent an estimated 24.1 million tweets during the game, with a bulk of postings taking place during the blackout.

While television ads during the Super Bowl broadcast were at an all-time premium at $3.8 million for 30 second spots, outreach and engagement on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube was a fraction of the cost.

Quick turn around

Two major brands that pulled out all the stops and generated considerable buzz were Tide and Oreo. Tide posted an image with a simple headline reading, “We can’t get your blackout. But we can get your stains out.” The image was retweeted more than 1,300 times. Oreo generated even more interest with its post showing on Oreo cookie illuminated on a dark page with copy reading, “You can still dunk in the dark.” This tweet was retweeted approximately15,000 times and was still being talked about the next day.

While fans waited for the lights to turn back on and for the game to resume, there was an estimated 231,000 tweets taking place per minute.

Looking to the companies and brands that recognized the opportunity serves as a valuable lesson in PR communications, and aptly demonstrates the advantage of a timely response. Having the ability to seize the moment and turnaround clever content quickly, paid off. While the NFL covered the blackout with banter about the game, viewers and ticket holders turned to their smartphones and tablets to access social media sites to receive updates and share.

Expanding reach

Unlike any other televised event, the enormous publicity building up to and surrounding the NFL championship takes on a life well beyond the match-up of teams. Viewers have equally as much interest, if not more in the half-time entertainment and the commercials. It may even be safe to say that the Super Bowl is the only televised program where viewers do not consider the commercials or half time as an optimal time for a bathroom break. Nor do most viewers set the DVR just so they can fast forward to get to the “good stuff.”

Most notable is the significant amount of pre and post publicity coverage centered on the ads themselves. News teams on local and national stations discuss which companies will be advertising during the game and in some case go so far to show video clip teasers. In the days after the game the buzz continues with post game dissection of which ads were deemed favorites.

On YouTube this year’s award-winning Budweiser ad featuring the Clydesdales has received more than 11 million views and 56 thousand “likes”. In addition, while we don’t have access to the statistics, we know they also benefited from viral email, Facebook, and Twitter shares. In other words, the $3 million plus price tag for ad time may be warranted not just because of high program viewership, but because of the added value received from PR and the viral viewing via social media.

Super Bowl XLVII proved to be an exciting game full of entertainment, surprise blackout and all. While the city of New Orleans and the operations team at Mercedes-Benz Superdome were not prepared for an electrical outage, some savvy marketing and PR professionals were certainly prepared. Let Super Bowl XLVII be a lesson to us all in how to maximize PR and utilize the increasing power and up-to-the-minute connection of social media to engage and expand a campaign.

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Public Relations Resolutions for 2013

For the first time in years we are beginning to see public relations’ budgets increase. While the economy is slowly improving and consumers are beginning to spend, the real contributing factor for investing in PR is the shift in the way we work, live and communicate. We now see marketing collateral and messaging built into websites, posted on Facebook pages and Pinterest boards and linked to tweets. We are seeing more and more printed publications increasing their online presence or switching to online entirely; and the popularity of the smart phone and tablets has the public seeking and exchanging information in a click. As a result, the connections between PR and marketing are more significant than ever and the lines between the two more blurred.

A white paper may still be used for lead generation and database development, but it can also be a great tool for pitching an article to targeted media. Direct ads may be considered a part of marketing, but the credibility of an ad is certainly enhanced with a proactive PR campaign, making potential customers more likely to pay attention and take action. A news release is still a valuable tool for securing media coverage, but it is now also valuable for boosting SEO.

As PR plans take shape and begin to be implemented in 2013, consider the following for maximizing results:

Leverage campaigns across multiple channels

When your company is featured in the news, share it. Post it on your social media pages, add a link to your website, mention it in your blog, and include it in your next email newsletter.

Use visuals whenever possible

A picture speaks 1000 words and people love to share them. The media is more likely to respond to a news pitch that includes photos or video, and the same rings true for the public. Video and photos both generate significantly more engagement. According to Mashable, a photo posted on a Facebook page increases the percent of fans reached and gets as much as twenty times more engagement than a status, link, or video, The popularity of YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest are all visual mediums that promote sharing of information and can be valuable tools for driving traffic to a website or customers in the door.

Tell your story

You don’t have to always wait for the media to come to you. Utilize your blog, industry news sites and LinkedIn to share your company story. Educate the public on your product or services. Provide tips and information that they may find helpful in their personal or professional lives.

Become a resource for the media

Journalists are now under a great deal of pressure to produce print, broadcast and online stories in the same amount of time with less assistance. Whatever industry or profession you are in, you may be the perfect source to speak on a topic they need to cover. This is especially true when local newsrooms are looking to build a story that relates to breaking news or new findings happening on a national level.

Create an online newsroom.

Make your corporate news accessible to your staff, clients, customers and the media. Include your news content on your website and provide the media with contact information, should they wish to speak with someone.

Recognize the power of social media

There are still a number of companies and business owners that question the impact of social media or its ability to reach their specific target market. From a PR perspective, social media has become a significant tool for the media to not only push out news but also receive and report news, so if you do not have a presence on social media, you cannot be part of the conversation. From a marketing perspective, companies now have the ability to know what their customers are saying, instantly responding to the good, the bad and the ugly, giving business owners a better opportunity to control the message.

The connection or cross-over we see in PR tells us that the division between marketing and media relations can no longer be separate, if you want your marketing efforts to be successful. While traditional advertising and marketing will reach out to target audiences and push out information and message, your public relations, social media and digital marketing will engage, connect and pull in your target audience. Regardless of the tools a company enlists for its marketing and PR strategy in 2013, collaboration and integration will be key to its success.

Marketing action plan

Implement A Marketing Action Plan For The New Year

Holiday parties are in full swing as another year comes to a close. While it seems both natural and logical to look back and review what was, I challenge companies and business owners to look forward and set goals for the year ahead. In doing so, we start the year with hope. The hope that the economy continues to improve, that business grows, and that new jobs are created.

To help spur that growth and achieve those goals, companies need to take a serious look at their marketing efforts and implement a marketing action plan.

1. Make sure your website works

Is the information on your website still relevant? Does the message speak to your target audience? Are you integrating your marketing campaign and driving new business to your site and through your doors? If not, it may be time for an update.

2. Consider the benefits of public relations

If your company or business has a story to tell or expertise to share, share it. A proactive public relations campaign can increase a company’s visibility and, more importantly, its credibility tenfold. An ongoing public relations campaign will also directly benefit your online marketing efforts by successfully increasing the impact of your search engine optimization (SEO).

3. Build it, and make sure they come

Having a current website that accurately reflects your brand is only the first step. The next step is utilizing a variety of available tools to help increase your ranking on Google. You can hire experts to manage your SEO, or if budgets are tight consider using rankpay.com, a performance-based service that only charges if the company website moves up in ranking.

4. Expand your reach

Even if you are a small local retailer, the Internet provides the opportunity to reach potential customers from across the country and around the globe. If your business sells a product that might appeal to others in other geographic areas, consider adding e-commerce. According to Forrester Research, e-commerce sales grew to $200 billion in 2011. The same study also predicts that online sales will continue to grow from 7 percent of overall retail sales to nearly 9 percent by 2016.

5. Get social

If you have established social media pages, then make sure you are consistently posting and engaging. If you have not, consider which ones may be the best fit for your business to help reach your potential customer. Take the show beyond cyberspace, and get involved in the community, participate in business organizations and associations, network, speak, get out of the office and away from the computer, and connect with others the old-fashion way. One coffee, lunch or chance meeting at a networking event can result in new business.

The start of a new year is the ideal time to launch a new, proactive approach to building your business. After mapping out your 2013 goals, put together a plan that is achievable, and make sure it is measurable. And remember marketing does not succeed overnight. It takes commitment to implement an integrated and consistent action plan to generate results. If all companies would do this, imagine the job growth we might see.

For more information about marketingworx, visit marketingworxpr.com.

Photo: Flickr, theimpulsivebuy

Developing A Marketing Message: A Case Study Of Dr Pepper TEN’s Target Market

Creating a company or product’s marketing message can be daunting, but if you think in terms of everyday conversations, it may be an easier task to tackle. When developing marketing message, whether it is for a brochure, an advertisement, a website or even a social media post, the first thing to think about is who you are trying to target. In other words, what you say is largely determined by whom you are trying to say it to in order to create a message that will inspire them to buy.

A case study: Dr Pepper TEN

Last year’s marketing campaign promoting Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s new low-calorie drink, Dr Pepper TEN, took a leap and specifically targeted men instead of women. While diet drink companies have attempted this before, research showed that women still outnumber men in diet-drink purchasing. Dr Pepper recognized that men are less likely to choose diet sodas because they aren’t perceived as manly. So why launch the macho campaign with the headline, “It’s Not for Women”?

The target market

Marketers will typically break target markets into groups like male/female, ages 25 – 55, income of $75,000 per year or more, with children or without. Honing in on statistical data and behaviors (or psychographics) helps determine who a potential customer is, what they like to do, and how they like to communicate.

In the case of Dr Pepper, going after the male market was an effort to expand its market share in a product segment that is shrinking. As U.S. consumers continue to cut their soda consumption by opting for healthier drink selections like flavored waters and juice, Dr Pepper cooked up a new low-calorie recipe offering 10 calories and two grams of sugar to keep it relatively healthy, while claiming to be more flavorful than other diet drinks. Making an appeal to men, they hoped to increase sales and gain new customers.

Speaking to multiple markets

In most cases, a company or product may be targeting multiple markets, and as a result, the message may center on one main target but offer an appeal to others. Think of the Bud Light or AXE ads. Like Dr Pepper TEN, they are targeting men; but the humor in the ads also appeals to women.

Focusing an entire marketing campaign with a message directed to one market can pose a real risk. The Dr Pepper TEN campaign, which showed men running through jungles, leaping boulders and watching football, aggressively conveyed that women were not welcome, despite the fact that women represent 50.8 percent of the purchasing public.

Dr Pepper TEN ads aired on all major networks that are heavily watched by males, including FX and ESPN during college football games. The company also created a Facebook page for the drink, which contained an application that allowed fans to exclude women from viewing content, as well as games and videos geared to men.

The decision to ignore women, especially when they make a large majority of purchasing decisions, initially proved to be a mistake.

Immediately following the launch of the campaign, there was a large backlash and a glut of publicity bashing the company for ostracizing women. An article published in Smart Money titled “Angry Women Is Not What Dr Pepper Ordered” said the “for men only campaign backfired with both sexes.” It went on to say that, “The campaign appears to have driven women’s perception of Dr Pepper down, which may have an adverse effect on the overall brand’s sales of a product like Diet Dr Pepper.”

If a marketing campaign is supposed to attract attention, experts can agree that Dr Pepper achieved that. In the days and weeks after the campaign aired, every major media outlet was writing and talking about it. Despite the barrage of negative media coverage or because of it, the product and its campaign proved to be successful. According to Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s annual report published in March 2012, “in the first three months of national distribution, trial rates for Dr Pepper TEN were nearly nine percent, significantly above other new innovation launches.” The report also went on to state, “the great taste of Dr Pepper TEN, which is targeted at men who don’t like the image of diet beverages, has resulted in consumers – male and female – asking for more TEN options.”

Fast forward just one year after the “It’s Not for Women” campaign launched, an article appearing in October 2012 in the Wall Street Journal discusses disappointing overall sales for the company with a drop in five of the company’s six soda brands. The bright spot that showed growth ― Dr Pepper TEN.

For more information on marketingworx and its services visit marketingworxpr.com.

Content Marketing

Coordinating Content Marketing Creates Buzz

It’s not exactly news to report that the growing influence of the Internet and popularity of social media has expanded public relations beyond the traditional methods. When taking a look at your company’s public relations strategy, it is no longer just about developing an individual or organization’s public image through news stories and public appearances. Public relations now includes managing communication messaging through all mediums. This can include a company’s social media posts, blogs, e-newsletters, articles, videos and anything communicating a message to your target audience. As a result, the lines between PR and the push for content marketing are becoming blurred.

So what exactly is content marketing? According to the Content Marketing Institute, “It is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience ― with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

Whether you have a designated in-house team handling PR or you have hired a public relations consultant or firm, it is in the best interest of your business to make sure that you are integrating and coordinating your content marketing with your PR campaign.

As you develop content that conveys your message, you will want your PR team to weigh in on what you are saying, how you are saying it and where you may be placing it — as all of it impacts the public’s perception of your brand.

Content marketing mediums include:

Company blogs

Your blog is a great place to share news, educate your target market, leverage press coverage, and engage customers in conversation.

Video

Think of the Old Spice ads that went viral on YouTube and the launch of Justin Bieber’s career. Videos can show and tell your company’s story.

Infographics

The latest way to share stats and make them more compelling than the old graphs you would find in your econ. book from school. Fast Company does it well with their Infographic of the day.

Online articles

Share your expertise by writing articles and white papers and publishing them online.

Webinars or Podcasts

Sharing your knowledge with others in this format is another powerful tool for expanding your reach.

Ebooks or magazines

Publishing a free ebook or digital magazine can be extremely effective. Zappos digital magazine serves as a great example with stories, interviews, product features and the ability to make a purchase.

Coordinating your public relations with your content marketing efforts can increase your efficiency and your effectiveness. According to the Roper Public Affairs, 80 percent of business decision-makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement.

Similar to PR, content marketing delivers information to your audience that is not direct advertisement. It is in a format that shares information as a manner of educating and creating conversation. It encourages the public to share with others. This helps leverage your PR and marketing and broaden your reach. In essence, it creates buzz.

For more information on marketingworx and its services visit marketingworxpr.com.

marketing budget

Show Me The Money: How Much Is The Marketing Budget?

One of the most common questions I get from people starting a new venture is how much should they plan to spend on marketing; and one of the biggest mistakes I see with new businesses is a tremendous amount of time and money invested in opening the doors making the new office, restaurant or retail space look great, but leaving little to no money in the budget to promote the new venture.

The reality is that whether you are a newly launched company or you’ve been around for years, you cannot expect to attract new customers without marketing.

The marketing budget

So how much should you spend? The general rule of thumb is plan on budgeting one to 10 percent of gross revenues. For newer businesses, that number should be on the higher end of the spectrum or even beyond (possibly as much as 15 percent). Then, once you’ve set a budget, you must determine how it should be allocated.

A few things to consider that will help determine what percentage you may need to budget:

  • How well known is your company name, service or product?
  • What are your competitors spending and where?
  • Who are you trying to reach and what is the best way to reach them?

If you are a fairly unknown entity or your competitors are marketing aggressively, you may need to spend more.

The target market

Next, determining the best marketing mix for promoting your company or product requires a clear understanding of your target market in order to select the most cost effective allocation of your marketing budget.

Starbucks is clearly an established brand, and with 33 percent of the market share, it is the leader in coffee sales. Yet, compared to most leading consumer brands it spends less on traditional marketing. In 2010, the company actually doubled its spend on marketing, according an article in Advertising Age. The company spent only $97.6 million — about one percent of the coffee chain’s U.S. sales. A large portion of the company’s marketing dollars are invested in digital and social media with a focus on engaging customers in what they call, “the customer experience.”

For smaller companies with more limited budgets, Starbucks serves as an interesting example of what you can do spending less. Using Facebook and individually designed websites, such as MyStarbucksIdea, customers are encouraged to make suggestions and share ideas. For the company’s 40th anniversary, it launched MyStarbucksSignature, a website that lets customers create customized drinks.

Utilizing social media

Employing online advertising and utilizing social media can be one of the most cost-effective marketing tools available. But business owners are mistaken if they think it’s free. Social Media marketing requires an investment of time and/or money, or both. Other cost-effective marketing tools to employ include public relations, grassroots guerrilla marketing, and community outreach. Regardless of what you do, the key is consistency and repetition.

As you create your marketing plan, think about how much you can afford to invest and where you may want to spend it. Then, when you think you can’t possibly allocate 10 percent of your gross revenues, realize that if you want your company to succeed, you can’t afford not to.

Know Your Customer: Gathering Data to Build Marketing Campaigns

Know Your Customer: Gathering Data To Build Marketing Campaigns

There was a time when we relied largely on focus groups and surveys to learn who was buying the products and services we were touting and what they thought about the experience. Thanks to technology, today we have access to a wealth of data to help build marketing campaigns that will catch the attention of potential consumers. To some, the tools used to gather information are seen as an invasion of privacy, while others view it as smart business. For any company, big or small, the reality is that data is now accessible and a valuable tool for creating more efficient and effective communications.

In early spring, Target stores received a great deal of attention for their “data grab” practices that made it possible to predict a woman’s pregnancy, thus sending specific coupons and mailers anticipating her shopping needs. An article in Forbes detailed Target’s practices and explained that they are not the only one gathering data: “Retailers are studying details to figure out what you like, what you need, and which coupons are most likely to make you happy.”

Similarly, Safeway stores recently launched an online and mobile coupon application that gives customers discounts based on their shopping history. The program called “Just for U” tracks customer purchases through the Safeway Club Card and uses the information to create personalized discounts on specific products. Safeway’s marketing gurus recognized it was not enough to offer coupons and weekly deals to entice shoppers to choose their store over the many other options; the deals need to be personal, they need to matter to the customer.

As a small business owner lacking the deep pockets to employ an in-house statistician tracking your customer’s every move or a team of marketing experts to roll-out individualized messaging, you may think it would be nice to know more, but it just isn’t possible. While it is true that you may not have the resources of the marketing departments at Target or Safeway, you do have the ability to gather valuable information about your customers and create more targeted and effective messaging.

1. Google Analytics

Google Analytics provides tools for gaining insight about how visitors use your website, how they find your site, which pages they are visiting, and how you can keep them coming back. It also helps to understand why some visitors buy from you and others don’t. Gathering data and information on your Web traffic gives you valuable feedback for making adjustments to your website and your marketing programs to help increase conversions and meet your goals.

2. Facebook

The insight section on your Facebook brand page is full of valuable details. It not only provides the information on the number of people talking your business and the reach your posts are getting, but it also provides the demographic breakdown of those that like your page as well as the geographic location from which they are coming. You can also learn which posts generate the most response about your company and its products. Utilizing this data can help you target your marketing campaign with online and/or print ads and create messaging that will get your customer to take notice.

3. Email

A monthly e-newsletter or weekly e-blasts can be a fairly inexpensive way to market. It can also provide you with valuable data and feedback. You can track who opened your emails, who forwarded them and who clicked on which links. Understanding what people are interested in reading about helps to tailor your content to get the best response and increase sales.

Knowing not only who your customer is, but what they like can help you decide where to focus your marketing efforts and how to allocate your budget. Taking the time and effort to learn about your consumers’ behavior and interests is like a courtship. If you want to generate repeat customers — and actually secure that second date — learn more about them.

For more information about gathering data about your customers to help build your marketing campaigns, and/or marketingworx and its services, visit marketingworxpr.com.

Twitter

To Tweet Or Not To Tweet: The Benefits Of Twitter For Business

In February 2012, registered Twitter users officially hit 500 million. Despite the significantly growing population of tweeters ― approximately 11 new accounts are added every second ― there are many business people still asking, “Why should I be on Twitter?”

The social media platform that limits posts to 140 characters appears to non-users as a cryptic code that includes “@” signs and hashtags (#); this commonly prompts the response, “I don’t really understand how it works or why it matters.”

In simple terms, Twitter is one of the fastest and easiest ways to share information about your product, service, organization or platform. It allows you to communicate, connect and engage directly with your target market in real time. So it matters. If its capabilities combined with its growing number of users are not enough to make you consider jumping on the bandwagon, every small- to mid-size business owner or manager should consider the following reasons for adding Twitter to the company’s marketing and PR efforts:

Spread the word

Twitter gets the message out quickly and efficiently. By tweeting and sharing company announcements with potential and existing customers and referral sources, you can introduce new products, promote special deals, or post info about upcoming events.

Research market trends

Twitter can keep you updated on industry trends and/or activity in your market segment. Through Twitter Search, you can find out what people are saying about a particular topic, and you can keep tabs on comments about your company and your competition.

Leverage current PR and other marketing activity

Potential customers and referral sources may have missed a feature article showcasing your company in a trade publication, but by pushing the link out on Twitter, they can not only read it, but also now share it. If your budget won’t allow for a direct mail campaign, you can run an ad in the local paper about an upcoming sale or event and then expand your reach by posting the information on Twitter.

Secure additional publicity

The print and broadcast news media represents a large number of Twitter users, so it is no surprise to learn that they spot trends that inspire stories and find sources on the social media site. A finance expert’s frequent posts about business led to an invitation to write a feature article in a trade publication. A local radio host posted news about a story and was contacted by a CNN producer to appear as a guest on a connected topic. These are just two examples of how Twitter can help position industry experts and lead to more publicity.

Enhance customer service and build relationships

Twitter is about connecting and engaging. A pool service company uses Twitter Search to learn what others are saying about its pools. A question posted about a pool turning green provides a warm lead that turns into a new customer. Monitoring and responding to what others are saying on Twitter can improve customer service with existing customers and create new ones.

Network virtually

Establishing an active presence on Twitter gives you opportunities to meet and talk to people you may never get the chance to talk to otherwise. Think about making business contacts with referral sources, people you want to start projects with or even hire, without ever leaving your desk.

Drive traffic to your website and through your door

It’s not enough to just have a website anymore. Sharing your knowledge on Twitter with links back to your website and Facebook pages can help potential customers find you. It also allows you to consistently post new content that will enhance your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts and help increase your rankings in a Google search.

Adopting Twitter as a communication and marketing tool provides companies the ability to present and develop their image and define their brand.

The Illinois-based start-up, Foiled Cupcakes, is a great example of the power of Twitter. Introducing a Twitter campaign prior to the launch of its website, the owners began posting interesting and engaging conversational information and building followers that met the demographic of their target market. The build-up led to more than 2,000 followers before the business was off the ground. While it is often said that Twitter doesn’t lead to sales, owner Mari Luangrath has a different story:

“90 percent have come from social media. We also have a pretty intense follow-up system, so by the time a customer has gone through the process, we’ve had seven opportunities to figure out how they’ve heard about us.”

Targeted engagement works both ways, adds Luangrath. “Twitter makes it so easy to reach out directly to people.” In addition to attracting customers, Foiled Cupcakes’ social media campaign has also caught the attention of the press. “We’ve been approached by Investor’s Business Daily, American Express Open Forum, Entrepreneur Magazine, and appeared on NBC and The Food Channel,” as a result of Foiled Cupcakes’ transparency and accessibility on social media platforms like Twitter.

If that isn’t reason enough to tweet, then consider what you are gaining by holding out.

For more information on marketingworx, its services and/or how to begin your own Twitter account/campaign, visit marketingworxpr.com  or follow her @julietstraker.

Get your ads noticed

Get Your Ads Noticed, And Other PR Lessons

How to get your ads notice ― and other lessons in public relations


Advertising can be vital to attracting attention to your business, but it’s not all that gets customers through the door. For companies touting consumer-related products and services, the role of public relations is crucial to extend the impact and credibility of advertising and to enhance the overall marketing campaign.

The strategic purpose of PR is to create a sense of community, to make a brand or service more memorable, and to ultimately entice consumers to want to learn more and share the information with others.

Unlike advertising, PR is uniquely capable of building relationships with the public. It can effectively reach specific target markets through events, interactions on social media, in-kind support for a cause, sponsorships, presentations and, of course, traditional media interviews. This engagement through shared stories and interactions allows a brand to actually come to life. In other words, PR is used to deliver messages not normally conveyed in conventional advertising.

Positive news stories can be shared to create buzz about a company, including recent achievements, the addition of new products or services, the addition of someone to the team, or the involvement in a community event. Through increased visibility comes increased awareness, which attracts more attention and gets people to notice traditional ads.

In addition to getting your company seen and heard, PR can work with advertising to effectively help build momentum for the launch of a new ad campaign. Interviews, quotes or news segments provide a company with media exposure between ad placements and can actually increase the frequency of brand exposures during the time period ads are running. In an effort to build brand awareness and keep a company top-of-mind, there are few substitutes for pure frequency.

When looking at developing a PR campaign, begin by asking three major questions:

(1) What are you trying to achieve with PR?

(2) Who are you trying to reach?

(3) How will your PR campaign integrate with your marketing and communications plan?

Think of PR as a tool for reinforcing. When a company launches into a new market, acquires another company, establishes a new partnership, or introduces a new product, public relations is one of the most cost effective and credible tools for telling the story.

Unfortunately many companies fail to incorporate PR into their marketing mix after realizing the amount of money that they are spending in other areas, including advertising. When weighing the costs, it is one oversight that can be costly. After all, it makes sense to have the various mediums work hand in hand ― that is, if you want consumers to take notice.

For more information on how to get your ads noticed, marketingworx and/or its services, visit marketingworxpr.com.

consumer behavior

Consumer Behavior Sparks Ideas For New Products, Expanding Markets

Marketing turns something old into something new: Consumer behavior sparks ideas for new products, expanding markets.


Introducing a new product to market can take years of research and expense. Or it can be as simple as taking something already in existence and marketing it for a different purpose. Creating or discovering a whole new use or new market for a product can be all you need to generate increased sales and growth. Observing consumer behavior is often the catalyst for new ideas.

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal outlines Hidden Valley Foods’ plan to expand its market penetration for its premier product, Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing. By repositioning the ever-popular salad dressing as the “new ketchup,” the company believes it can expand its market share and increase revenue. Updating the recipe to make the dressing thicker and creamier in order to stay atop a burger and creating new packaging and labeling, the new version will be called Hidden Valley for Everything. The company will introduce the product to the restaurant industry and grocery sales as soon as they finalize the recipe, so it can safely remain on the table as a nonperishable item, like ketchup and mustard.

The idea for repositioning the top selling salad dressing came about when a company executive observed his daughter pouring it over her salmon dinner. While ranch dressing is said to be “the most often used salad dressing in the U.S.,” the executive saw his daughter’s behavior as an opportunity to expand to a new area. Research shows that 15 percent of ranch dressing consumers use it on something other than salad, which supports the company’s move to make a play for market share in the condiment category.

Similarly, when Google learned that its customers were enjoying Google Translate more for its musical attributes than to translate words and phrases, the company saw a demand for this service with a new purpose. Customers type in a string of consonants as English for the system to translate into German, and then the computer “speaks” the phrase in rhythmic beat. The result is music to the user’s ears.

Then there is Starbucks’ CEO, Howard Schultz, who was recently credited with reviving the business by introducing a variety of new products and services. One of those ideas is a light roast coffee — a first for the coffeehouse chain that built its business on rich, dark roast flavors. When the company’s market research uncovered that “40 percent of U.S. coffee drinkers prefer a lighter, milder roast,” the product development team went to work creating their new Blonde roast.

Business owners and managers at small companies can learn from these industry leaders. Watching and listening to your consumers can often uncover the potential for new sources of revenue. Conduct a review of current products and services and think about how you might promote them to a different target market or how they may be utilized differently. By repositioning or refocusing your marketing, the potential for growth can be accomplished by just looking at the situation from a new perspective.

For more information on observing consumer behavior, or marketingworx and its services, visit www.marketingworxpr.com.

Public Relations

Understanding The Why And How Of Public Relations

Marketing and promotions focuses on selling the products and services a company provides. In most cases, for marketing to succeed, companies need to find ways to stand out from the crowd — which may explain the $1 million-plus spent on 30- and 60-second Super Bowl commercials showcasing some of the most outrageous and creative work in advertising. The real value, though, comes from the after-buzz in the media and hits on YouTube. In other words, it comes from the publicity generated. While a majority of business owners cannot afford to run an ad during the Super Bowl, they can afford public relations to promote the company’s attributes.

Public relations can be utilized to strengthen a company’s image and develop public perception showing how the company is credible, active and innovative. It can help differentiate a company from its competitors and highlight its benefits. Public relations can also be an economical way to reach a target market to stimulate awareness of and demand for a company’s products or services.

But how does it work? Many start-ups and small businesses start with Facebook and Twitter, but this alone is not likely to do the trick. Building buzz, attracting followers on social media sites and new customers through your doors can be done with ongoing coverage in the media in the form of news articles and interviews. Then, when a company receives press coverage, they can utilize social media platforms they have in place to expand that coverage and to reach an even larger audience. Think of how many media outlets discussed Super Bowl ads in the following days and how many companies posted their Super Bowl ads or articles about their Super Bowl ads to their Facebook and Twitter pages. In addition to reaching a larger audience, social media can leverage publicity to help drive traffic to a company’s website by increasing its search engine visibility and organic results.

Securing media coverage starts with a well written press release or story pitch. Although simple in theory, getting the attention of the media can be challenging as they are inundated daily with emails and phone calls from many people pitching various story ideas. To help both the media and the public take notice of you and your business, consider the following:

  • Think about what your business has or does that may be newsworthy. Have you hit a new milestone? Are you introducing a new product or service? Are you hiring someone new to head up one of your departments, or are you doing something significant in the community? The media won’t publicize information if it is too promotional — that’s what ads are for.
  • Make yourself (or someone on your team) available to the media as an expert source. The media is always looking for business experts to comment on topics they are writing about. Letting writers and editors know who you are, what you do and how your knowledge and expertise may provide credibility to an article they are writing can be an effective tool for getting press.
  • If you haven’t done so already, consider adding a blog to your website and keeping it current by posting to it at least two to four times a month. A blog provides a platform for educating your target market about your industry, services, products and other related information that the public may want to know. Integrating your blog with social media can increase your exposure, support SEO and help expand your reach. It also helps establish your company as an expert in the industry and tell your company’s story.
  • Become a guest writer or radio guest. If your industry has a trade publication or radio show, find out if you can be a regular contributor.

In order to successfully launch a public relations campaign of any magnitude, it requires dedication from the company and expertise from someone within the organization or an outside consultant to lead and facilitate. In essence, a business owner or company leader needs should expect to be involved in the public relations process, but much of the writing and legwork can be done by a public relations specialist. Although a business owner can take on these responsibilities, it is usually more effective to hire a professional to advise and execute.

Juliet Straker is president of marketingworx, a Phoenix-based public relations and marketing communications firm founded in 2002. For more information on marketingworx and its services, visit www.marketingworxpr.com.

 

Marketing agency

Cultivating A Success Relationship With A Marketing Agency

Whether you are running a small start-up or a Fortune 500 company, the planning and execution of a marketing campaign demands a variety of skills and knowledge. While most large organizations may have an in-house marketing department, big companies and small businesses alike find it advantageous to enlist the expertise of an outside marketing agency or expert to help handle specifics like advertising, graphic design and public relations. But like any relationship, communication is the key to making it work.

The process of hiring a marketing agency is much like hiring a new employee — you conduct interviews, check references and then make a decision based on experience and chemistry in hopes of selecting the best fit.

An agency generally works one of three ways: an agreed-upon hourly rate (generally anywhere from $50 to $150 per hour), a per project fee, or a monthly retainer. Regardless of fee structure, you are making a significant investment, so it is in your best interest to get the most out of your budget to help generate the best results.

Once the courting period is complete and the decision to commit is made, the real work begins. To help navigate and cultivate a successful relationship with a marketing agency, here are some tips:

1. Share your expectations and your needs
What you communicate about and how you communicate it will nurture the relationship. Everyone has expectations; knowing what each party expects will help make the relationship run more smoothly.

2. Think of the relationship as a team
The marketing agency should be viewed as an extension of your team. You each bring different perspectives and strengths to the table, but part of the value of a team are the differences.

3. Be respectful
Whether it is a phone call, a meeting, or you need to respond to an email, be conscientious of the other’s time. Always respond in a timely manner, try to be efficient when you do, and remember to say “thank you.” Showing mutual respect is essential to any good relationship.

4. Make time for each other
Schedule a regular time to meet to review results, brainstorm ideas, discuss plans and determine project deadlines for the coming months.

5. Truly listen
You have hired experts to advise you on what is best for the company. Listen to what they have to say, and trust their opinion. This does not mean you must always agree, but be open to their recommendations and hear the reasoning behind it.

6. Cooperate
If you don’t agree on something, there is usually another option. Look for different solutions that you both agree on, or look for ways that you can improve it. Clear feedback can be the key to finding the best solution for both you.

It is important to realize that enlisting a marketing agency is not about just giving your stamp of approval on ideas and then handing things off for the marketing agency to create and implement; it is a collaborative and interactive relationship. Investing time and sharing thoughts and ideas will not only help build and strengthen the connection, but it will also ultimately help you receive better service and help the marketing agency generate better work. After all, finding the right match is only the first step to a successful union.

Juliet Straker is president of marketingworx, a Phoenix-based public relations and marketing communications firm founded in 2002. For more information on marketingworx and its services visit marketingworxpr.com.
Mobile Technology

Maximize Marketing Coverage With Mobile Technology

Marketing with Mobile Technology: Maximize Coverage Using New Tools

We all move quickly through our days, jumping from our computers to our phones to communicate information and share. While the changes in communication are moving at warp speed, companies can utilize the opportunity to expand its public relations campaigns and educate the public well beyond the day a story airs or an article runs.

The growth of mobile technology means information is literally now available at the consumer’s fingertips. In other words, with just a few clicks of a screen, buying decisions are now being made. Information sources like Google, Twitter, Facebook, Yelp and YouTube can influence where a person chooses to shop, dine, or go.

According to research recently conducted by Hubspot, mobile Internet users will reach 113.9 million in 2012, up 17.1 percent from 97.3 million in 2011. The data takes things further; looking at the growth in popularity of the iPad, tablet users will reach 54.8 million in 2012, up 62.8 percent from 33.7 million in 2011.

On a recent visit to Flagstaff, we were looking for a place to eat. Having nowhere special in mind, we turned to our iPhones to research the area. A click on Google Places immediately brought up a list of restaurants in the area showing four- and five-star ratings from reviewers. Quickly reading the descriptions, we found out about a breakfast spot that was featured on “Drive-ins, Diners and Dives” and received rave reviews from the host, Guy Fieri and a number of patrons. The restaurant was only a few miles away, but a bit off the beaten path, outside of downtown. Fortunately the mobile phone also provides directions with a direct route from your location.

It turned out that Brandy’s Restaurant and Bakery (which I highly recommend) was featured on the program in 2008. But this small business understood the value of leveraging that publicity. They made sure the message in their online description continued to publicize the national TV coverage. The segment still plays on a TV screen in the diner, and news clippings from the local newspaper can be found adorning the walls, but more importantly the information and the many other accolades the restaurant has received appear prominently on the home page of its website.

You can bet this small business owner does not have a large marketing budget, but by utilizing the technology that’s now available, they are maximizing the press they received almost four years ago to continue to bring in new customers.

Part of implementing a successful public relations and marketing campaign is to find ways to successfully weed through all of the clutter and information in order for your target audience to know more about your business and all it has to offer. However you choose to allocate your budget and to tell your story, there is no denying that the growth of mobile technology will now allow you to spread the word faster and stretch your dollars further.

For more information on marketing with mobile technology from marketingworx, visit marketingworxpr.com.

social media marketing

Moving Forward: Social Media Marketing In 2012

Moving forward: Thoughts on social media marketing in 2012

With the holidays upon us, the realities of the year’s end have set in. It’s time to begin clearing out inboxes, archiving 2011 files and preparing for 2012. It’s time for reflection and anticipation.

When it comes to social media marketing in 2012, the first step is looking back at what worked during the past 12 months and then, based on those results and the business goals for 2012, developing a plan for the upcoming year. For many companies, 2011 was the year for implementing social media.

Those still questioning the point of social media, should consider the facts provided by Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn:

  • Facebook has more than 800 million active users.
  • Fifty percent of Facebook’s active users log on in any given day.
  • The average Facebook user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events.
  • More than 350 million active users currently access Facebook through their mobile devices.
  • Twitter currently has about 110 million users.
  • On Twitter, there are more than 600 million searches done every single day.
  • Twitter is accessed by more than 30 percent of users via their mobile phone.
  • Twitter is now serving a quarter billion tweets each day — more than one million tweets every six minutes.
  • LinkedIn’s members have reached 119 million, although this figure is an approximation provided by LinkedIn.
  • The standard user of LinkedIn is male (58.5 percent) and between the ages of 25 and 54 (70 percent).

Why followers and fans matter

With a majority of the population now visiting social media sites like Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis, creating a brand presence on these sites is becoming an essential part of doing business. Customers will turn to social media to learn more about products and services in real time.

Unlike any other marketing tool, social media allows companies to speak to customers in a more personal way, as if they are talking to a friend not a company, which helps build trust and rapport. It also assists in building online visibility to drive traffic to your website and ultimately through your doors, much like a word-of-mouth referral.

Social media can also help leverage public relations efforts by pushing press coverage out to a larger audience and pulling media people in, enticing them to learn more about your company and its brand.

Social media marketing in 2012: How to improve your pages

If your company already has established Facebook and Twitter pages, it is important to examine the content you are posting to make sure that you are providing value. For example, if you have a retail store or restaurant, post photos of products or dishes and utilize social media to let your customers know the specials of the day.

If you have a company that provides a service to other businesses, post helpful tips and educational articles related to your field. Remember, social media engagement is not one-sided.

As well as posting content, it is important to reach out and follow others and “Like” business-related Facebook pages. Then, they in turn may follow or like your page and interact by commenting on your posts. The other crucial factor in integrating social media into marketing is frequency and consistency.

Strategic planning and implementation

While it sounds simple in concept, before launching a social media campaign, companies need to remember, these pages are a voice for the company and represent the brand, it is not something that should be taken lightly. You should establish internal guidelines and a strategic plan specifying how your organization is going to manage the social media sites.

Figure out who is going to be responsible for the actual posting and what kind of information you want to share. In some cases, an in-house marketing or communications person is best. If there is no one in-house equipped to handle things, enlisting a public relations firm to manage an integrated public relations and social media campaign is the best approach. A public relations firm will know how to create online messaging and content that speaks to the public.

Mix it up

With the push to build a presence in social media clearly on the rise, it is tough to know where to focus your marketing efforts. The key to any marketing plan is developing a strong consistent message that reaches your target audience — social media is one tool to help make that happen.

Marketing plans must still incorporate a mix of more traditional sales and advertising efforts like targeted print, radio and online ads, along with public relations outreach to increase visibility and generate sales. While social media will continue to evolve and remain a powerful tool, an integrated campaign is optimal for any successful business.

For more information about social media marketing for your business in 2012 and how to implement a marketing plan, visit marketingworxpr.com.

Penn State Scandal: How to Handle Media When Crisis Hits

Learning From The Penn State Scandal: Handling The Media In A Crisis

In the age of Facebook, managing media relations is more important than ever, especially when media attention results from something or someone gone wrong — for example, the Penn State scandal. With news released in a matter of seconds thanks to social media and online news alerts, individuals and companies must respond quickly.

When the news broke about Penn State, in an instant we saw news reporters swarm the  campus, and journalists camped outside of coach Joe Paterno’s home. As the nation sat on the sidelines watching the story unfold, almost every news station and newspaper across the country had it covered. The University’s failure to respond with a statement, even days after the grand jury indictment of Jerry Sandusky, left social media buzzing and news reporters to speculate about what Penn State officials and, more specifically, coach Paterno knew and did.

The story is horrific and has impacted the lives and careers of many, which may not have been salvageable, given their failure to speak up in 2002. Yet there is still much we can learn from the errors of Penn State and coach Paterno when it comes to dealing with the press and damage control.

1.    Be upfront
When crisis strikes, don’t hide or engage in finger pointing. Assign a public face to address the problem at hand, specifically the CEO, company president or another top executive spokesperson. Have them meet with key targeted media outlets to explain the issues and what management plans to do about it. Follow through and provide updates with promises to rebuild credibility and deliver them.

2.    Say it straight
Keep your internal and external communications simple, direct and frequent so that everyone is kept informed of your progress. Let the public know your side of the story; be positive and proactive.

3.    Involve the team
In a crisis, situation control is essential, but keeping discussions behind closed doors can be more damaging. Keep employees in the loop, alerting them to what is going on, and how they need to communicate to customers and the public. Getting past the damage takes a team effort.

4.    Get your message out quickly
Utilize your website, blog and social media handles to help spread the word. In addition to sending out a news release statement, take to online to control the message and clarify misinformation. This also helps push out new content on Google, burying old news.

5.    Monitor and respond
Keep tabs on what others are posting and saying online. Follow up with editors, journalists and bloggers; make your spokesperson available, answer questions, and clear up the misconceptions.

6.    Turn a negative into a positive
If someone in the organization made a mistake, admit the wrong doing and make it right. If the company is incorrectly accused of a wrong doing, educate the public and lead by example.

When a crisis hits, the damage from negative publicity can be felt for quite some time. By taking a proactive approach and putting together a communication plan that allows you to tell the story, the situation can often be rectified. In the case of Penn State, only time will tell.

 

Maximizing Public Relations Efforts

Lessons From Apple: Maximizing Public Relations Efforts

When you are investing in real estate the mantra is, “location, location, location.” When it comes to an investment in marketing―and marketing is an investment―timing can make all the difference. Whether you are introducing a new product, opening the doors to a new business or simply wanting to promote existing products and services, a successful public relations and marketing campaign requires planning and coordination.

What many don’t realize is, to secure publicity for a company event or promotion it must first be considered newsworthy (and while it may seem newsworthy to a business owner, the media may not see it that way). Secondly, you must allow enough lead time to alert the media prior to their deadlines. Even daily and weekly publications and news shows plan stories and news segments weeks in advance; and editors of monthly publications are working on issues as much as three to six months before going to print. Allowing enough time in advance helps increase the possibility of traditional press coverage.

Landing press can provide a great boost to your business; and at the very least a boost to your credibility (and SEO). But to maximize public relations efforts, the additional benefits come in the follow-up with the marketing effort. If you are promoting an expansion of services, make sure your website is updated with the new information, have an email ready to send off to your database of customers and posts on your Facebook and Twitter pages.

You need to develop an integrated marketing campaign where public relations works hand-in-hand with advertising and promotional activities to convey the message of your company and/or product. Public relations can bring your story to life, build credibility and help increase visibility; while advertising helps build brand awareness and sells specifics, promotional efforts grab attention and generate buzz.

Under the direction and inspiration of Steve Jobs, Apple demonstrated some of the best practices in brand marketing and public relations. Jobs understood the art of a coordinated campaign and the results it could achieve.

A new product introduction from Apple is often unveiled on-stage in a theater of sorts packed with journalists, industry bloggers and technology insiders. The company typically avoids industry trade shows, opting to create their own events in the weeks prior.

 A product launch and publicity campaign is accompanied by traditional print, broadcast and outdoor ads, along with in-store displays and signage.

Apple’s website is poised for announcements with supportive pages and videos providing a firsthand look at their latest and greatest. Of course, emails are sent to a finely-tuned database prior to launch day, encouraging customers to get online to buy. 

An outreach of direct and indirect advertising orchestrated with public relations not only creates awareness and buzz, it creates demand. Apple’s seamless multi-channel, multi-touch approach demonstrates one of the best and most integrated examples for a successful marketing formula.

While most marketing budgets are significantly more limited than Apple’s, advance planning and coordination on any budget can still make or break the impact.

For more information about maximizing your public relations efforts, visit www.marketingworxpr.com.