Sword and the Script

PR: It is How We Discover Brands



by Frank Strong

PR branding

Source: GlobalWebIndex “Chart of the Day.”

Awareness, familiarity and trust are all essential elements of a brand that sells successfully.  It’s an evolution that begins but probably never ends, save for the termination of a brand.  It’s the latter that drives us down the road of analyzing whether or not PR facilitates a sales cycle.

The entry point however, should not be underestimated. The chances of a sales person closing a deal with a prospective customer that remarks, “Huh, I’ve never heard of your product before,” falls somewhere short of less than likely.

So how do we make customers aware of our brands?  The answer rests in PR. Read More…

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Digital: The Gap between Importance and Performance



by Frank Strong

Digital Marketing: The Gap between Importance and Performance

Most marketers get their experience on the job. They don’t start as marketers, companies pay people to become marketers.

If marketers aren’t able to sleep at night, a study published by Adobe just might offer a reason why:  we know digital marketing is important, but we’re not very confident in our ability to execute it effectively.

Adobe has a number of products it would like to sell to marketers – so of course we’re lacking – but in all fairness the research is well grounded:  it surveyed 1,000 respondents using ResearchNow with 95% confidence and a margin of error at +/- 3%.

Some of the findings are at incredible odds:

  • Just 44% say their marketing departments have a great deal of influence over their organization’s overall business strategy and (surprise!) just 40% think their company’s marketing is effective. And 61% of all marketers think that, for most companies, digital marketing approaches are a constant cycle of trial and error (as opposed to tried and true). Read More…
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7 Tips for Reporters for Managing PR Spam



by Frank Strong

Wired PR Spam


Screenshot from Wire’s former Editor in Chief, Chris Anderson timeless 2007 rant against PR spam. He later hinted he regretted posting it.

Nobody likes spam, but everybody gets it. A lot of it.

Whatever new mediums arise, spam is just a moment behind.  It’s on Twitter, its infected commenting systems, and of course we get it by email. It is…pervasive.

For a reporter, it’s got to be the bane of existence.  What could be worse than the pressure of a deadline and having sift through erroneous messages that bombard your inbox in order to find the messages you need to confirm or otherwise relate to sources?

It’s a problem.  It’s probably never going to end in our lifetime.

The only way to fix it is to avoid using email, but then it’ll just spill over into other vehicles for interpersonal communication, like voicemail or social media.

What possibly can a PR pro tell you about managing spam?  Over the course of my career, here are tips I’ve found, including some from your peers, for avoiding spam. Read More…

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When Branding Gets the Better of Politicians



by Frank Strong

branding politics

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This isn’t a political post. This post isn’t about whether or not the health care law is a good idea or a bad one; it’s not about red or blue; it’s not about who you voted for in the last election or who is in office right now.  It’s about marketing and why politicians are good at selling ideas, and even personas, but have so much to learn about products, positioning and product marketing.

* * *

Obamacare was to be a disparaging pseudonym to a law that passed amid a nation divided on the cause.  It was a label intended to underscore everything that was wrong with the law.

In a gesture of political jiu-jitsu — to use technique against brute force — the administration seized upon the term, embraced it and repeated it on every medium available:  in the print, broadcast and online and across earned, owned and share media. It was a rallying cry.

Obamacare used content marketing to brand the new law to be synonymous with the administration and it’s principle proponent.  Whether aware or not as to the vehicle for branding, it was a conscious effort and it worked.

Then the website launched and promptly flopped.

Political communicators were on their heels, slow to respond, then denial, even as polling tanked. Distance. They needed distance.  Read More…

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10 Timeless Creative PR Ideas



by Frank Strong

Creativity

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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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