Sword and the Script

10 Timeless Creative PR Ideas

by Frank Strong



Where do creative PR ideas come from?  How do we develop ideas and what does the life cycle of an idea look like? 

There are those in our field that advocate a strict discipline of science – that is to say no idea is funded or given a seal of approval — without math. Data has the limitations of structure, yet we are not rationale beings.

On the other side, there are others that are purely creative — the Don Draper myth — they operate on instincts and gut feelings. However the very phrase “trust me” invites risk and suspicion.

The two approaches are at odds and I’ve found no better explanation than the words of Malcom Gladwell.  In a post titled, Art or Science: Creative Marketing and PR, I took a look at his analysis of the difference between puzzles and mysteries:

In the book, What the Dog Saw, Malcom Gladwell breaks down the distinction between a puzzle and a mystery. A puzzle is when we have all of the pieces we need to make a complete picture, we just need to arrange them in the proper order so that they make sense. With a mystery, information is scarce and we instead rely on intuition, interference or a gut feeling. Perhaps this is what Rumsfeld meant when he famously said, “unknown unknowns.”

If PR were a puzzle then we’d have all the pieces needed to simply assemble a creative idea. If PR were entirely a mystery, then we’d all be starting from the beginning with every effort. Maybe that’s how to make the uninteresting, interesting. Neither side is quite right, there is very little in our world that fits neatly into some bucket we’ve designed; the fact is that PR is a mix of art and science.

We can’t excel with just English (or a language) or just Math, we need them both. Read More…

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7 Clever Thanksgiving Day Marketing Infographics

by Frank Strong

A Thanksgiving Infographic by Collision Labs

A Thanksgiving Infographic by Collision Labs

There’s no shortage of infographics about Thanksgiving this year – clearly infographics are marketing technique that while not new, has staying power.  I was however surprised at just how many are in circulation on this topic on the web.

I’ve reviewed dozens of them and have pinned them to a “data” board on Pinterest if you’d like to peruse some of the others.  Here are seven I thought were pretty well done.

1. A Thanksgiving Infographic by Collision Labs

The creative people at this design agency lay out an infographic about historical facts in a storyboard format. One interesting point is the infographic says “Jingle Bells” was originally written as a Thanksgiving song.  “Deal with it,” the infographic advises.   Read More…

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What a Grumpy Cat Infographic Can Teach us About Marketing

by Frank Strong

Grumpy Cat

I had fun once…it was horrible.

Memes are big business.  If there’s any doubt a quick search of the web shows the meme phenomenon color the web, or litter it, depending on your perspective.

Marketers have taken note too.  People like pictures and people like quotes – if we put the two together we might be on to something.  If it’s truly funny or fascinating or witty, we just might see it “go viral.”

In the world of memes, Grumpy Cat is a big business.  Google displays her in the knowledge graph and she’s got her own Wikipedia page, which is apparently so coveted, PR firms will do anything for editing rights. Read More…

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Prediction 2014: The Year of Social Media Advertising

by Frank Strong

ROI of social ads

Ready or not, here come social ads…and lots of them.

eMarketer says 90% of marketers will use social media marketing in 2014.  In this case marketing increasingly means paid social media advertising.

In summary the publication writes:

Call 2014 the year of “social acceptance.” More marketers are committing budget to paid social media advertising. And social media companies are providing advertisers better targeting than ever, and more ways to see the return on investment, according to a new eMarketer report, “Social Media Advertising: Seven Trends for 2014.” Read More…

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5 Creative Marketing, PR and Social Media Ideas

by Frank Strong

creative PR marketing social media

If reading too much can suppress creative thinking, then so too can habit.  Sure, Aristotle said excellence is not an act, but a habit, but how easy is it for marketers to fall into a pattern? The same old pattern.

Patterns are predictable and measurable; but they are also avoidable. It is consumer reflex to avoid a pitch. Consider email, for example, which is easy enough to mark as spam.  What would happen if email suddenly was not a tool in the marketer’s toolkit?

I’d suggest that a freak-out session would be followed by a creative session – and perhaps even better and more creative marketing ideas. To that end, here are five creative marketing, PR and social media ideas: Read More…

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Persuasion Theory: Power of a Story

by Frank Strong

persuasion theory

We remember stories (Photo: Flickr).

We see it a lot in corporate presentations:  slides that are heavy on text, but light on stories.  Presenters end up reading slide to a literate audience.

To be fair, businesses aren’t unique: you haven’t lived until you’ve sat through the tedium of a military briefing, especially those for “Command and Staff” or a CUB or a BUB or pick your pain.

Some of the most painful meetings I’ve ever had have been conducted in uniform – and unfortunately – I have at times served as chair for some of those. You can’t change the world in one rotation.

I’ve always found that presentations are most effective when they are heavy on images, have just enough content to hint to the audience as to the context, but mostly rely on the speaker to tell the story.

Think about some of the presentations from the big names in marketing and PR: Stratten, Shankman, Solis, or Scott. The key note presentations these people give are often based on slide desks with more images than words.  They use anecdotes to make points. Read More…

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The Biggest Twitter IPO Story the Media Completely Missed

by Frank Strong

Tweetoro, twitter IPO,

Forrest for the trees? Not one story in Google News search about Tweetoro — the online stock trading company with a promoted tweet the day Twitter went IPO.

It would seem to me that a creative PR idea for a company that allows people to trade shares online, would be having the foresight to place a promoted tweet on the day Twitter launched its IPO.

The surprising fact however is none of the big electronic trading companies were on point. Companies like Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade and E*Trade, who should have all over this opportunity were not.

Instead, a company we never heard of, with 258 followers on Twitter, called Tweetoro, was savvy enough to purchase a promoted tweet on Twitter’s big day.

There must be a gazillion news stories about this company, right?  Nope.  As the screenshot of Google News shows nearby not a single news story about Tweetoro.  Not one. Read More…

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Off Script #5: John Barnett; PR, Twitter, and a Navy Master Chief

by Frank Strong

John Barnett PAO PR

John Barnett: What a retired Navy Master Chief and PAO can show us about the power of Twitter and resiliency in PR. (Photo: Twitter profile)

I don’t remember when I met John Barnett, but I’m pretty sure I know where I met him.  We met on Twitter, perhaps two or three years ago, but have never quite gotten past 140 characters.

A week or so ago, I contacted John, a retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer for this occasional series – the Off Script series – first started this past July.  We’ve traded several emails to finalize this post and it just so happens I’m writing the introduction on the eve before Twitter begins trading shares on a public stock exchange.

It seems fitting because the purpose of this series in many ways is for me to both get to know some of these connections I’ve made on Twitter on some deeper level – and it’s also the chance to introduce these good people to this community.

Interviews with people who are Internet famous are plentiful – I’m after people like John – ordinary people like you and me – who are getting the job done every day. More to the point, it underscores how a social network like Twitter changes everything, because it connects people we might not have otherwise met by exchanging messages no longer than 140 characters long.

Imagine pitching that concept to a venture capitalist in 1999; it would have been laughable.  On November 7, 2013, Twitter will raise several billion in capital, but the real value is in the connections we make with people like John.

And on to the interview… Read More…

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Love, Hate and a Prediction for Content Marketing

by Frank Strong

love-hate, content marketing

I have a love-hate relationship with Groupon.  I love the concept of a deal, the motivational economics of scarcity and the idea its email marketing program introduces me to purchases I might not otherwise have considered.

I hate the concept when I get more than one email per day.

One deal and one email per day – that was the promise – but somewhere along the way one turned into two or more. I haven’t kept track with a score sheet, but I’ve definitely felt a sense of annoyance with the volume of email of late.  Groupon isn’t alone, I’ve subscribed and unsubscribed a several times from both Groupon and Living Social for this exact reason. Read More…

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Fear: Why Smart People Avoid Social Media

by Frank Strong

Fear  Why Smart People Avoid Social Media

Smart people don’t avoid social media because they don’t have time; they avoid it over fear.

Why is it smart and savvy business people – especially marketers – have no social media presence?

Think the reason is time?  I suggest it’s not time at all but fear.  Why fear?  Because especially in large organizations, we’ve been classically conditioned, to avoid speaking our minds.

If we speak our mind…

  • What will our boss say?
  • What will our peers say?
  • What will our customers say?
  • What will the competition say?
  • What might the media say?
  • What will the analysts say?
  • What will the investors say?
  • What will Wall Street say?

Fear is a powerful emotion.  Which is why marketers play on it, ugly as that tactic might be.  To be clear, a little bit of fear is good — healthy even — as it keeps us safe.  Too much fear is debilitating; it clouds our judgement and in fact re-routes judgement to a primitive part of our brains.   Read More…

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