Sword and the Script

PR: Don’t Sell Past the Close


dont sell past the close

PR can learn a lot from sales. Photo credit: Flickr

by Frank Strong

The first time I heard that phrase I was pitching my former boss on a creative PR idea. It was always a lively debate with him, and you had to prove the value convincingly; so I came to the meeting armed with data and proof points.

I was ready.

It was late on a Friday afternoon and the meeting had just started when he bought into my idea at the mere suggestion. That never happened. Except this once. Without needing all the arguments I had prepared to win him over — I was a little surprised.

Alright. That’s it. Meeting adjourned.

Not so fast. I continued, I mean after all, I had proof points to cement that agreement so it could never move. He put one hand up singling to me to stop.

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Market Research Mistake: Falling in Love with an Idea


Market Research Mistake

Self-checkout proved a costly market research mistake for Tesco. (Photo: Flickr)

by Frank Strong

In a perfect world, one grocer might have begun their market research with a null hypothesis.  “The null hypothesis assumes that any kind of difference or significance you see in a set of data is due to chance.”

Instead of setting out to prove the American consumer would enjoy the efficiency of self-checkout in the grocery store — they might have done better to set out to presume prospective customers did not gravitate to self-checkout until, “statistical evidence nullifies it for an alternative hypothesis.”

Or they could have walked into any grocery store — Kroger, Costco or Safeway — and watched as customers preferred to stand in line over using self-checkout.  Or how those taking the caculated risk in hopes of completing their shopping experience sooner, waged battle with a machine seems to assume every customer is either trying to steal groceries or is a teenager attempting to purchase alcoholic products.  Read More…

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Spam Two Saturday: Louis Vuitton and What?


Spam Two Saturday

You will die if you try to consume spam like this. Photo credit: Flickr

I’m starting a new series about spam comments.  As this blog has grown, the bad PR pitches — from my peers I might add — has grown exponentially.  So too have the spam comments.

The difference? Spam emails are a hot button but spam comments are humor. Because spam comments are captured in Akismet I can review them at my leisure…when I need a chuckle.

Here’s the Spam Two Saturday: Read More…

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Autotweets Are Not Comparable to TV or Radio Ads


autotweets, schedule tweets

Photo credit: Flickr

There’s a debate over autotweets, or scheduled tweets during times of tragedy

This post kicked it off: Guy Kawasaki is too ‘popular’ to stop autotweets during Boston bombings. This post reinforced the point, with kinder language, but with words that bite: A Letter To Those Of You With 1,500 Twitter Followers Or Fewer.

And we’re off.  Knock down.  Drag out.  Online scrap.  It’s not productive.

The point of the post?

While the news about the tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon was just being broken, and for several hours afterwards, most companies shut down their promotional efforts on Twitter and other social media.

Most people and organizations rightly came to the conclusion that to continue to hawk their wares while a national tragedy was unfolding (and people were using Twitter to get and exchange news) was a little insensitive, to say the least.

Most brands stopped. And while I generally dislike the term “personal branding” because I believe within a company — that is a team environment — it is divisive  some people have become brands. In a company, this means there’s an inverse correlation between productivity and ego.   Read More…

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Three Observations the Morning After Tragedy


Thinking of Boston.

Thinking of Boston.

by Frank Strong

I first heard about it on Facebook.  A friend had posted this link to The Atlantic. Initially, the article simply had a couple lines of text and a few screenshots of tweets.  The site has since updated it to provide more complete coverage.

Senseless killing. Tragic. Incomprehensible.

My first reaction was: this is terrorism.  The last time we had a terrorist attack we went to war for a decade. In fact, we are still fighting it.  However, it’s worth noting, before 9/11, the predominant form of terrorism was from domestic lunatics, like the duo from Oklahoma City.

As of the time of this writing, no suspects have been identified and officials have simply said, they currently do not know. Read More…

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Crisis Communications as a Prerequisite to Change


Crisis Communications

Two great reads – one on business strategy and the other sage advice on crisis communications.

by Frank Strong

The difference between good companies and great companies may well be the difference between those that avert potential crisis and those that react to a crisis.

It is the difference between being “committed-to-excellence” rather than only demonstrating that commitment only when someone important is watching.

There’s a second problem with reactionary thinking: the company forgoes the ability to choose the space and timing of the crisis.  Like Murphy’s Law, crisis happens when you can least afford it and siphons away resources and wastes valuable time.

Sometimes companies can do a lousy job on crisis communications and survive; Exxon and BP come to mind.  Sometimes companies can do a lousy job with a crisis and sink; Eron and Anderson Consulting for example.   Read More…

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Inbound.org’s Invitation to PR


PR pros inbound.org

Some of the hottest PR links on Inbound.org.

by Frank Strong

Social news site Inbound.org wants more PR pros to join the community.  And PR pros should take note, because there are lessons to be learned both in PR and SEO.

Inbound is a moderated news site that aggregates some of the hottest links on the web. Since it attracts an influential community of users, links on Inbound that heat up, tend to break out and attract mass appeal.

The site traditionally caters to SEOs but has expanded its content categories that also includes a PR category.  A recent post by Tad Chef on getting earning attention on Inbound, has sparked a healthy conversation from the community, including moderators, where one clearly stated, “I’d love to see more PR types on here.” Read More…

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10 Unconventional and Creative Ways to Find a PR Job



by Frank Strong

10 Unconventional and Creative Ways to Find a PR Job

Finding an employment is a bit like money — it takes employment to find employment.

There’s a theory in PR employment that I’ve observed on both sides of the table as both a job seeker, and a hiring manger:  the good PR people already have jobs.  To find talent, employers have to poach from existing employers.

With unemployment hovering at just below 8 percent, overcoming this preconceived notion is yet another challenge.  But wait, there’s more: the deluge of resumes.  Hiring managers are simply overwhelmed with the sheer volume of applicants. If an application gets a look, it’s only cursory with the reviewer specifically looking for an excuse to toss a resume into the recycle bin.

As PR pros, we have skill set we can put to work on our own behalf to find a PR job:  To break through the clutter, we have to run a marketing campaign on ourselves. Recently, I was looking for work, and while I have found gainful employment in a relatively short period of time, I’ve learned quite a bit along the way.

I wish I could say this was a well-thought out plan, but it wasn’t, it was an evolution — trial and error — and so this list is sequential: Read More…

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Livefyre: How Customer Service Trumps PR


customer service trumps PR

Photo credit: Flickr

by Frank Strong

It’s not every day a company provides amazing service.  When a company does provide good service — it usually blows our mind because we are so accustom to lousy service:

  • Endless automated phone mazes that feel like the company is just hoping we’ll give up.
  • Hidden charges that customers only see after they’ve consumed a product.
  • Ten days to unsubscribe from unsolicited email.

Customer service and support is usually so bad, that when a company provides great service, we often feel compelled to share it.  Perhaps we do it in a Tweet, a Google+ post or a Facebook status update — and to that extent, customer service trumps PR in earned media.

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Six Creative Ideas for Blog Posts



by Frank Strong

Six-creative-blog-posts-ideas

The only thing boring about content may well be the creator.

That was the message in a post on Copyblogger with a subtitle that read, “There are no boring topics, only boring content creators.” Author Pratik Dholakiya next tackles the challenge of making coffee cups interesting.

It’s an idea reflective of Malcom Gladwell’s work, who is a prolific writer with the hairstyle of a genius. In his book, What the Dog Saw, Gladwell says the role of a gifted writer, or more specifically, a journalist, is to breath life into a topic and in essence  make the uninteresting…interesting.  Read More…

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