Sword and the Script

Ode to the Contrarian


social media rant

Photo credit: Flickr

by Frank Strong

It’s not easy to take an unpopular stand, but it might be worthwhile.

How often have we mulled over a post and left it unpublished in the draft folder? There’s a dozen in mine and I generally take pride in calling things like I see them.

When the king is naked — he’s naked.

Some people dislike that — it can be abrasive. Some people love that — it’s transparent. Often, there’s a whole cast of characters that fall quietly in the middle.

Being a contrarian for attention’s sake is not useful. Being a contrarian because we’ve studied, we’ve practiced and we believe in something is practical.

An advocate, devil or not, is useful. Or it ought to be useful.

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PR Strategy: Paid Media Tactics for Earning Media


paid media for earned media

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by Frank Strong

Advertising offers great message control but questionable credibility.  PR offers credibility though third party validation, but there are no message guarantees.  As an industry we love to look at these separately to compare and contrast, but a better value is looking at how they can work together.

Paid media can earn media.  It’s a point that’s stuck with me ever since a professor placed a controversial ad on overlay for an overhead projector long ago.

Larry Flynt, the publisher of Hustler magazine, uses this approach often.  My earliest recollection was during the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal where he placed an ad looking for dirt on any Republican.

Flynt is, perhaps, an odd place to find a PR lesson, but I try to keep an eye out for marketing or PR in everything. His scheme got a lot of coverage and he’s since repeated this tactic time and again.

30-second chunks are often interesting and meaningful, so the ads are worth unpacking

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Techniques for getting Leaders Involved in Content Marketing


leaders content marketing

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by Frank Strong

Marcus Sheridan wrote an ever green post this week that content marketing success often hinges on management involvement.

“If your company CEO and/or management team do not fully embrace content marketing, your efforts to find massive success online and have a cultural transformation will very likely fail.” – @TheSalesLion

He’s right of course, active leadership in many cases personifies a brand. Personification makes brands more likeable.

Big companies personify their brands all the time: Progressive has Flo, Allstate has Dean Winters, GEICO has a gecko. The little green guy talks like a person, walks like a person, and complains about coffee like a person.

I’d point out too that these personalities are examples of integrated campaigns where paid media leads to earned media as well: Who is Flo? Is she getting more progressive? Is Flo going anywhere? Is Flo social? Yes. You can find Flo on Twitter.

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If Everyone Owns Social Media…


If Everyone Owns Social Media

Photo credit: Flickr

If everyone owns social media, then no one owns social media.

Ever work on a condominium committee? Everyone is an owner and little gets done.

Ownership is a strong word, especially for social tools, which are often credited with having a democratizing effect on the web.  However, using it successfully requires leadership and decisiveness.

Writing on the SHIFT blog, Chris Penn, classifies the question as silly. His answer?  Whoever can use it to help build your business, that’s who.

Penn’s thoughts mirror my own, though I’d further qualify social media as a role for the do-ers.  There’s a difference between those that talk and those that do.  Social media needs a champion to weave, both the tactics, and the teams together.

This question is old, it has its old critics and old champions.  It’s also new, with new research, that attracts view points from multiple angles.  But it never fails to unleash a firestorm of opinions that range from rants to disinterest. Read More…

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6 Creative PR Ideas for Blended Media



by Frank Strong

6 Creative PR Ideas for Blended Media

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
-Darwin

In marketing and public relations, creativity is often more art than science. One way to get ideas is to keep an eye out for them. They say it takes money to make money, and in many ways, ideas work the same way: good ideas lead to more good ideas.

Below are six creative PR ideas, and the one aspect I’d like to highlight, is that almost all of these incorporate a blend of media.  Even as the distinction between marketing and PR has grown blurry, so too has the distinction between paid and earned media.

These ideas incorporate paid media (advertising), with shared media (social), to produce earned media (traditionally, PR). One or two of these also included owned media (blog or website). These six ideas are outputs — the evidence that silos are breaking and that integrated marketing is more than an (old school) buzzword.  However it’s also changing the environment in ways we might not have anticipated, or even like, but there’s no doubt success will require responsiveness to change. Read More…

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PR Acquisition Analysis: Market Opportunity in Raleigh-Durham



Big PR Firms Raleigh Durham

by Frank Strong

Warning:  this is a long post, but I’ve put a lot of research, thought and time into it; hope you find it useful. 

Sometimes to grow a business you’ve got to expand the boundaries.  That’s exactly what PR firms have been doing the last few years.

Just this week Richard Edelman embraced paid media — a smart move because the PR trend is moving in that direction.  I agree with him. Completely.  PR is not smoke and mirrors and it can be clearly defined.

Successful digital promotions strategies will incorporate a combination of both earned and paid but also owned and shared media tactics.

To those that are editing out PR from their titles, I’d advise caution, because this isn’t about PR looking more like marketing, instead, it’s about marketing looking more like PR.  Agree or not, surely we can find common ground in the fact that the changes are happening are in an effort to grow.  That’s why we are in business. Read More…

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Trials and Confessions of a Facebook Faker



Trials and Confessions of a Facebook Fakerby Frank Strong

Last August a Facebook financial filing disclosed that 8.7% of accounts on Facebook, or 83 million were fake or duplicate.   Over the years, Facebook has earned coverage for having more users than than most countries have people. The U.S. for example, has about 300 million people which is dwarfed by Facebook’s 1 billion users.

Still 83 million is a sizable number — its about the same size as the population of Egypt as Mashable pointed out.  It’s also larger than the country populations of  Germany, France and the U.K.  Facebook says it shuts down some 20,000 accounts per day which all boils down to  the fact there’s a lot of fakers.

I should know.  I was one of them. Read More…

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Art or Science: Creative Marketing and PR



marketing art or scienceby Frank Strong

There’s an old saying that half of all advertising budgets are wasted but marketers never know which half.  That phrase was coined long before the rich analytics the web provides — and that might lead us to believe we could figure out which half and therefore improve the results.

Certainly, there’s a science to marketing:  create, publish and analyze.  It’s experimenting and then calculating the gain or loss in visitors, page views and conversions.  And it’s true that studying data can improve results.  That’s why email marketers use A/B tests and why ecommerce specialists tweak the location, prominence and copy behind calls to action on the web.

Like most people, I’m a creature of habit.  I like process and methodology.  I like measurement.  I like data.  And I think these things are important.  But the longer I’m in this industry, the more convinced I’ve become that there is an art to marketing and PR is an under-recognized  talent.   Read More…

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B2B Marketers Settling in for a Social Media Marathon



B2B Marketers Settling in for a Social Media Marathonby Frank Strong

Social media, and it’s role in content marketing for B2B companies, has earned its stripes.  As a marketing tactic, social media ranked second only to SEO in a new report by eMarketer, based on data from Demandbase and ZiffDavis.

The report titled, For B2B Marketers, Building Relationships Trumps Blanket Approach, points out two underlying trends:  B2B marketers are increasingly focusing their content marketing efforts on social media first, by customer needs, and second by buyer persona.

This means putting the research efforts into developing high quality relevant content aimed to fulfill (or stoke) the needs of a prospect.  It’s nurture marketing, and like SEO was intended, increasingly designed to enable buyers to seek out a company, rather than the other way around. Read More…

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Bridging the Social PR Network with the IRL Network



Bridging the Social PR Network with the IRL Networkby Frank Strong

In 2012, the number of people I first met on social networks and then met in real life (IRL) grew dramatically. One observation that strikes me is how many are located in my own stomping grounds — yet I might never have met them without social networking.

In 1999 or 2000, I remember reading a news article where the central argument was people were spending more time hunkered down at their computers and less time engaging their physical neighbors next door.  I don’t believe that’s true at all, and if this list is any indication, it’s one more data point disproving that thesis.

To be clear, there’s clearly much to be said about virtual networking on the social web.  In 2012, I had the chance to connect with some really fine people online.

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