Thanks to the generosity and tech-savvy of West Michigan as well as the hard work of volunteers, Family Promise of Grand Rapids won a Toyota truck by pulling in the most support in the 2012 Toyota 100 Cars for Good contest. This is the second win for a GR-based nonprofit in as many years. Clearly this city has something going for it (take that Newsweek).
Thanks to everyone who helped!
Big kudos go to the core group of volunteers that helped make this win possible:
Rick Jensen, Terri Howe, Christine Hoek, Allison Root, Adrienne Wallace, Abby Taylor, Pete Brand, Amanda Brand, Kaitlin Brand, Angie Phillips, 834 Design and Marketing, Wondergem Consulting, Clark Communications and the WMPRSA Board.
It’s also worth noting that everyone was led by Cheryl Schuch – the Executive Director of FPGR who is a model for all leaders to learn from. She’s truly invested in her organization and was closely-involved every step of the way.
Rick and Terri worked on the campaign on behalf of the West Michigan Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (of which all three of us are board members – FPGR is WMPRSA’s current nonprofit client that we provide with two years of pro bono counsel as part of our PRforGOOD project).
Having helped Kids’ Food Basket come up with a winning strategy last year, Adrienne Wallace and I shared what we learned with the FPGR team (the case study for KFB is available here). Here’s what we came up with: Read more…
For some reason, people seem very comfortable assuming they know as much as anyone trained in marketing, advertising or public relations. Whereas few people would feel comfortable second-guessing a
physician’s assistant physician assistant, or telling an engineer how to do their job – they are more than willing to micro-manage communications professionals.
To them, I say “thanks but no thanks.” If you’ve not in the field, and you’ve ever offered up any of the following advice to a colleague in the field, please check yourself.
1. You think we should advertise somewhere because you consume that media.
In all liklihood *you* are not the demographic being targeted. *I* am not the demographic being targeted either.
This happens all the time – I guess it has to do with some desire we have to feel as though we understand the average person’s mindset and that we represent the common opinion on the street. The problem is – it’s increasingly hard to identify “the average person” anymore.
Not only that, but whomever he/she is, none of us is likely representative of them (particularly where I work where most of the employees have advanced degrees – relegating them to a tiny ten percent of the US population, not at all representative of the median).
Instead of going with your gut – trust the data instead. Save your gut for the creative portions of the campaign where it will be needed.
2. You think we should advertise somewhere because it’s a “special” promotion targeted right at our industry.
I hate to break it to you, but every two-bit media entity worth its salt has created bogus “special interest” offerings as a marketing ploy to appeal to advertisers. There are “special editions” for everything now – and they even come out more than once a year.
To make matters worse, there are even entire organizations created solely for the purpose of selling worthless advertising to rubes who think they’re reaching someone.
A great example of this is the “Who’s Who” listings or “Internet Directories” for special topics. When was the last time you looked anyone up in a “Who’s Who” book? Carter was probably president. The same goes for special “directories” online; as the power and accuracy of search has improved, it has rendered the need for curated directories obsolete. You’re far better off taking all of that time and money and putting it into writing a blog to push up your rank in Google.
On Payola: By the way – if the “special promotion” includes freebies to the people buying the advertising (say, event tickets) – if you take those, it’s unethical and potentially grounds for firing at many institutions. It constitutes a conflict of interest for you to spend money that isn’t yours in order to get something free. You may even want to check with your Purchasing department because you may be legally-obligated to notify them or turn over that item.
3. You think we should advertise somewhere because they have special pricing available only for a limited time.
The amount of exclamation points that usually accompany the emails for these sorts of requests could fuel a mid-sized city. Understand that these offers are invariably overvalued. The reason they’re discounting the air time/ad space is because NO ONE ELSE WANTS IT (and there’s a reason no one else wants it).
The reason these “opportunities” are “special” is because no one else will advertise on them because they don’t reach enough people (or they’re not effective at converting eyeballs into sales). They’re the advertising equivalent of the bargain DVD bin at Wal-mart – no one wants to own Battlefield Earth which is why it languishes even with a $2.99 price tag. You’re literally throwing your money away – money that could be better spent with 30 seconds and a credit card on Facebook.
4. You think we should advertise somewhere because our competitors are doing it.
To be sure, there is absolutely value in benchmarking what one’s competitors are doing. However, following the herd can be problematic for a variety of reasons.
- First, if the herd is already there – it’s a diluted marketplace for ideas. You’ll be trying to make noise while everyone else is trying to make noise – no one is going to hear it. The Law of Diminishing Returns absolutely applies to advertising.
- Second, the herd doesn’t know anything you don’t already know. They’re not privy to some mystical insight – particularly the more members of the herd are engaging in this communal behavior the more likely it is to be outmoded because the soft middle has arrived.
5. You think we should advertise somewhere whether or not we can track the response.
Measurement is just as critical as Communication in a marketing/pr plan. If you’re not worried about how we’re going to gauge the response to our efforts – I’M worried about your fitness for your job.
If you can’t find a way to verify whether or not something worked – why would you do it? Would you have a surgery if you had no way of telling whether or not it was successful? Would you enter a competition that didn’t track how you placed?
It’s not fun and it’s not sexy, but it is an imperative that we develop some way of measuring how many people are converted by our efforts. Given how wildly media consumption habits are shifting right now – it’s even MORE important than any time in the past half-decade.
Moreover, ENTIRELY NEW forms of advertising are emerging all the time. What worked this year may not work at all next year – and it’s important to track that progress.
So “Backseat Marketers,” please – we need your input but keep it constructive and focused on the content that you are experts on. Recycle the faxes you get with radio discounts on them instead of forwarding them to us. Defer questions from ad sales reps to us and let us handle them (instead of allowing them to create confusion, conflict and division within our organization just because they work on commission).
As you’re likely aware, recently Facebook changed the email settings of all users so that the email they signed up with is no longer visible – replaced by their @facebook.com email address. The company rolled out an email service back in 2010. My guess is that adoption was lagging so given the new pressure they’re under as a result of their IPO to monetize the service, they made the switch.
They’re perfectly entitled to do this; after all they’re a private company providing a free service to users.
HOWEVER, what you’re ENTITLED to do and what you SHOULD do are two completely different things.
MOREOVER, WE do not control the language – THE PEOPLE DO (in this case, the users). Read more…
Why is a bad pitch worse when it comes from a Public Relations Pro than when it comes from an Ad Sales Representative?
I ask that question after reading another article (Social Media Makes Bad Pitches Go Viral–And Can Save PR From Itself | by Amber Mac | FastCompany) blasting the entirety of the public relations world for irrelevant and careless pitches they’ve received via email. The strident calls for PR to reform itself are ever-present; Gawker even has a separate category for showcasing shoddy PR (PR Dummies).
I wonder how many journalists are aware of the fact that at the same time they’re bemoaning poorly-targeted spam PR pitches, many PR Pros are bemoaning poorly-targeted spam Ad Sales/Sponsorship spam pitches from ad sales reps who work for the organizations that underwrite those journalists’ activities. Read more…
Earlier today, Sam Laird of Mashable wrote an article asking “Does Every Employee Need Social Media Training?”
Absolutely. All employees are brand ambassadors whether they want to be or not. There’s no way to stop information from flowing in or out of an organization. Social media policies are, by their very nature, reactive so by the time they come into play the damage is already done.
The only way to get ahead of (and hopefully avoid) the negative consequences of a radically-transparent world is to make sure employees are aware of the dynamics of the new world we live in where Internet connectivity is ubiquitous and everyone has a multimedia studio in their phone.
Focusing myopically on the negative possibilities in social media is like focusing only on the villains in comic books. They’re only part of the equation (and often easily vanquished).
The flip side of the worry over employees and social media is that most organizations are missing out on POSITIVE opportunities (which are far more numerous than the negatives). Properly-focused and empowered, employees can wield the power of social media for an organization’s benefit (improving workflow, engaging customers, and sharing the stories that build a brand).
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel: there are loads of infographics, charts, checklists, fliers, videos and other resources a simple Google search away and the training can be as simple as an informal jam session that starts with you asking what employees’ questions are and building the conversation from there.
Perhaps summer isn’t the best time to schedule a learning opportunity for education professionals. Unfortunately the Paperclip Webinar on Community Colleges and the Impact of Social Media has been canceled and will be rescheduled for a later date.
As soon as we have a new date, I’ll post it here.
Community colleges across the country are finding ways to teach, market and communicate using various forms of social media. In this rapidly changing environment it is challenging for professionals to stay up to date on the latest trends and functions of a social media landscape.
In many cases, higher education has led in the adoption of these new tools and technologies. Much more can be done, however, both inside the classroom and outside the college engaging publics.
Join me for an interactive webinar where you will learn how to develop a greater awareness of hot trends in social media as they relate to community colleges and begin the process of creating an effective social media marketing plan.
Register Here: http://bit.ly/ccsandsocialmedia
In the kampy 70s-era Batman TV series (and movie), Adam West’s titular character was always trying to extricate himself from a supervillain’s trap by “reversing the polarity.” It’s one of those pseudo-sciencey terms that pre-teen kids find believable (even nerdy kids who like Dr. Who).
Colleagues and I have joked before that the marketing budgets of some projects would be better spent bribing the very small target population than trying to break through the deluge of noise consumers encounter each day by paying for mass media channels (the very entities creating the noise).
Twitter. Facebook. Pinterest. Linkedin. Blogs. RSS. SMS. Foursquare. Google Places.
Thanks to social media there are enumerable ways for any organization to broadcast messages to its publics. There are so many channels with such low cost barriers that the decisions marketers and PR pros need to make are all about how many to spend time on.
However, the focus on broadcasting often overshadows an important and underutilized feature of the Internet-connected world: the ability to reverse the flow of information to focus laser-like on a very tiny population. I’m not talking about Narrowcasting. The “casting” part still implies a lack of a quality relationship with each of the unique people you’re trying to enlist.
It is increasingly easier to be successful by focusing solely on good customer service or by serving a very specific clientele. That’s the Long Tail at work. Creating relationships.
Rather than spending resources buying access to a megaphone could you reallocate those resources to, one at a time, find the 25, 50, 100, 1000 people you actually need to make your campaign a success? I bet you could … if you can just “reverse the polarity.”
Online nothing goes away, and anything can come to light if enough time and pressure are applied.
George Zimmerman is about to find that out because the Miami Herald found his MySpace page. I’m kind of surprised this didn’t come to light sooner. In a bit of dark humor, he was just awarded the “In the Spotlight” badge because people are flocking to pore over his updates for clues.
We can’t undo the advances into the era of Radical Transparency, we can only adjust to it. That isn’t a bad thing.
Just as social media can have a negative impact on someone’s life, it can also have a positive impact. It depends on how much of a person is positive or negative.
Social media is only a tool – it has no inherent qualities. It can only reflect those who use it. The same social media platforms that are providing fodder to back up the allegation that the shooting of Trayvon Martin was a hate crime motivated by mistrust of a race are ALSO raising funds for Zimmerman’s defense fund and spreading the message of his fervent right-leaning defenders. Con artists on both sides of the case have faked content to support their side – and virtually all have been caught and debunked.
Right now the big headlines are the racist missives against Hispanics that the MySpace profile contains, as well as some allusions to criminal behavior.
That won’t be the only headline, and a fuller picture of Zimmerman is already being illustrated in the news media as we all endeavor to learn more about him and his motivations. The Herald noted that he has a racially-diverse group of friends (as depicted by his photos). Likely there are other positive features of Zimmerman which will come to light.
I tend to think anything that helps make us more aware that the world is a complex, gray place with few (if any) absolutes is a benefit to us all.
One of the first places people go (from Google, that is) for quick answers and information is Wikipedia. The size of the audience it commands, and its ability to become a critical resource for developing the narrative from current events mean that it’s of critical importance to any public relations professional.
Unfortunately the PR community is largely ignorant of how to interact with Wikipedia.
According to a new study done by Dr. Marcia W. DiStaso of Penn State University,
- 25 percent of public relations pros were completely unaware of the state of Wikipedia entries about their organization.
- Worse – only 21 percent were familiar with the rule that PR pros should not edit articles on behalf of a client or organization they represent.
This is unacceptable. A healthy understanding of Wikipedia and the dynamics of the collaborative space online (which eschews back-room deals and undemocratic influence) is critical for every PR pro (and journalist) to understand. This is the stuff of textbooks.
The study was prompted after a very thorough and productive discussion that has been happening on a Facebook group called CREWE (Corporate Representatives for Ethical Wikipedia Engagement) created by Phil Gomes of Edelman. The group has brought together Wikipedians (including founder Jimmy Wales) to promote broader awareness of the relationship between PR pros and Wikipedia editors:
- On the one hand, Wikipedians want to ensure that all information on the site is accurate and free of bias.
- On the other hand, PR pros have a legitimate complaint in that following the established process for contributing or editing content (to post suggestions to the “Talk” page in the hope that it will be evaluated by a Wikipedian with no connection to the story and ultimately considered for application to the Wikipedia entry) is often ineffective as it can be difficult to get the attention or consideration of editors.
The study done by Dr. DiStaso also contains a very helpful infographic pulling out some of the important points from the study. You can find everything here:
Measuring Public Relations Wikipedia Engagement: How Bright is the Rule?
Public Relations Journal — Vol. 6, No. 2 | Author: Marcia W. DiStaso, Ph.D.
Abstract: The study by Dr. DiStaso explores the views, experiences and beliefs of public relations/communications professionals about editing Wikipedia for their company or client. Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has what he believes to be a “bright line” rule whereby public relations/communications professionals are not to directly edit the Wikipedia articles about their companies or clients. Through a survey with 1284 responses, this study found that the “bright line” rule is not working. This is because, among other reasons, 60% of the Wikipedia articles for respondents who were familiar with their company or recent client’s article contained factual errors. When the talk pages were used to request edits, it was found to typically take days for a response and 24% never received one. Plus, most of the public relations/communication professionals in this study were unaware of the rule and almost half of those who were familiar with it did not understand what it meant to them.. [Download Article]
Are bloggers journalists?
This debate continues to simmer as the traditional news-gathering industry undergoes a painful period of rapid evolution.
The answer to the question “are bloggers journalists?” can be answered by flipping the question on its head:
In an era where journalists increasingly write for digital versions of their newspapers (many of which have cut delivery to a handful of days per week or eliminated it completely)- publishing news DIRECTLY to the web without editorial oversight on every single story: are journalists bloggers?
Yes. And vice versa.
Journalism is an activity, an ethic, a philosophy. Historically it’s been bound by certain physical trappings: the masthead of a newspaper with a large circulation, rumpled oxfordcloth shirts, and thin spiral-bound notebooks. No longer.
Even the structural and social components that used to define journalism have changed:
- Editorial Layoffs: Over the past decade hundreds if not thousands of editors have been dismissed from their papers and magazines (particularly at the local level). In many cases, journalists are now publishing content directly to the newspaper’s website without an editorial filter applied to every individual story.
- Public Perception: The public’s esteem for the news media has plummeted in recent years. In 2011 the percentage of people surveyed by the Pew Center for the People and the Press who said that the news media “Get the Facts Straight” was 25 percent – down from 55 percent in 1985.
- Reach: The strength of the traditional news media is its reach. Or at least it was. Unfortunately newspaper circulation has declined precipitously. So has TV news viewership. So has magazine circulation. So has radio listenership. It’s important to note that this has taken place at a time when the public is consuming more news than ever.
If you’re a blogger that subscribes to a code of ethics and strives for honesty and integrity – you’re a journalist.
If you’re a journalist that publishes your content electronically to a content management system – you’re a blogger.
"...and you shall have no pie."As my parents tell it, when I was an infant my first word wasn't a word - it was an entire sentence. Very little has changed.
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