Between You and Me, There's PR

Exploring, learning and using social media, public relations and marketing.

Following Your Passion June 15, 2014

photo1 (1)When I accepted a new job in Indianapolis two years ago, I was confident that it was what I was meant to do because I was passionate about social media and had trucking in my blood. I was so proud to do what I did best, marketing; mixed with what my grandpa did best, diesel mechanics and trucking. I felt like he was with me cheering me on along the way.

I would have loved to have been able to talk about diesel with him; trucking is probably not something he ever imagined his youngest granddaughter would build her career on. I am so thankful to of had the opportunity to learn about what made him who he was and what he did to provide for his family- my dad.

Now, I have the opportunity to follow my dad’s footsteps in my career. While still using my marketing skills, I will be doing what he does best: giving back to the community. I look forward to being able to talk to him about what we are doing with our separate organizations and how we are changing the world (well, changing parts of it, at least).

Having the ability to see my grandpa and dad’s passion shine through in my own career means a lot to me. I am lucky to have their influence, and I desire to make them both proud. I suppose it’s fitting that I start my new career the day after Father’s Day. If they hadn’t followed their passion, I wouldn’t have found mine.

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The 5 hats social media pros wear May 7, 2014

social-media-expert hatSocial Media is a new(ish) field that will always be a new(ish) field because of it’s nature to continuously evolve and change. When it was first introduced as a marketing tool, it was just something many marketing professionals added to their job. Today, the position is driven by content creators who happen to be good at many things. Here are five hats social media pros (SoMePro) wear:

1. Writer
Obviously, writing content is a big part of being a social media professional’s job. The SoMePro must write for blogs, Facebook, Twitter, e-books, emails and etc.  Over the last few years, the recommended frequency of sharing content has increased, making the SoMePro’s job more focused on creating content than ever before.

Bad Image Use2. Designer
It’s proven that images and graphics offer better engagement than text alone; therefore, it’s the SoMePro’s job to create captivating images to accompany every message shared. Coming up with a photo or graphic for every message can be daunting, but understanding the difference between when a graphic is necessary or not is equally as important.

I’ve found one news station guilty of not understanding the difference. They have a stockpile of images they pull out for tragedies that personally, I fin inappropriate and annoying. The result? Unsubscribed. The other layer to this is that you must either find royalty free images or create your own. With those circumstances, a little Adobe knowledge goes a long way.

3. Learner
In the number of years I’ve worked in social media, every platform has changed it’s layout, statistics and algorithms. Oh yes, the magical a-word, algorithm. Social media is not something you learn once; it’s constantly changing and there’s always something new. In addition to evolving platforms, new platforms are being introduced everyday. The SoMePro should always be scouring the internet for inspiration, knowledge and best practices.

4. Fixer
The fixer is also known as the good, old-fashioned customer service representative. It is the SoMePro’s job to foster relationships with customers, happy or unhappy. It’s proven to be much more expensive to gain new customers than it is to retain customers, which makes it very important to resolve issues with unhappy customers. Often, simply acknowledging a customer’s concern can salvage a relationship, while thanking a current happy customer can be just as beneficial.

5. Analyzer
While writing is an important piece to social media, there’s no point in writing anything if there is no proof that it is working. There were many claims that social media could not be measured, but that has changed drastically, even in just the last year. It is not that it cannot be measured, it’s that it is measured differently than traditional media. The SoMePro will check the stats on every post, every day, to determine what resonates with customers and look for trends that spike engagement. This information is then used to drive future content that builds a relationship and pushes sales.

Bonus:
6. Detective
The SoMePro is constantly searching the web for every mention of their organization. When a mention is found, it must be evaluated for credibility to determine what action to take. Is it a legitimate issue? Is it an employee posing as a customer? The SoMePro knows how to dig into the data to answer these questions. Something the rest of the world tends to forget is that nothing ever disappears from the Internet; this is what SoMePros call entertainment.

These are just five of the hats SoMePros wear, but rest assured, there are plenty more where this comes from. What would you add to the list?

 

Monopoly’s Lucky Roll April 5, 2014

My family is not allowed to play Monopoly together. With a blended family comes blended family Monopoly rules. A few of my immediate family’s rules include:

  • All money from taxes and fees goes in the middle. If you land on Free Parking, you take it all for yourself.
  • $500 goes in the middle at all times for free parking.
  • You can buy houses instantly; no need to collect all same colored properties before purchasing houses.
  • If you land on go, you collect $250 instead of $200.

If you’ve ever played Monopoly, you know that these rules are totally made up and designed to make the game go more quickly. On March 25, 2014, Monopoly launched a really engaging campaign on Facebook asking fans to post their house rules. According to Monopoly, 68% of Americans do not read the instructions.

The campaign that utilized video and graphic images lasted March 25-April 3. There was no third-party application used and no prize; people simply wanted to tell their story. The engagement for the house rule campaign posts were insanely high in comparison to their previous posts; including those posted as mix-ins during the campaign, like this one that had five shares:

monopoly baseball
Alternatively, when Monopoly posted the new official house rules, it was shared 1,287 times:

monopolyvideo

This is a great example of a well executed campaign and the brain behind it deserves big kudos for the brand engagement it drove. The most amazing part to me is that there was no prize offered. It proves how iconic this game is and how a simple board game can unite or divide a house hold. They sold nothing to consumers, yet the board game rose to the top of consumers’ mind awareness.

In comparison to their stunt last year, in which consumers were asked to vote on what Monopoly piece to retire and add, this most recent campaign allowed more engagement and brand awareness; or, maybe I’m just bitter because I’m not a cat fan.

Overall, I think this was a great campaign for this iconic brand.

 

KSDK security stunt cost station their credibility January 17, 2014

Filed under: Education — thisgirlsarah @ 8:31 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

Parts of the below copy have been re-blogged from my second blog: She Writes, Sometimes with more emphasis on the PR repercussions here, rather than the full background of the story

Yesterday, when a local St. Louis station, KSDK, attempted to test a high school’s security, a lockdown resulted making the community very upset.The news station released a statement that said this was not their intention, while the school’s statement said they were just following protocol for a stranger who seemed suspicious. While KSDK did not mention anything about the lockdown on their Twitter feed as it was happening, their competitors and viewers certainly did.

media

People were upset, and rightly so in my opinion. The kids, parents and teachers don’t need to experience, what they perceive to be, a real threat to their loved ones.The most tragic part of this is that KSDK lost their credibility. Today, in Hillsboro MO, a real lockdown took place and this time, KSDK reported it. Guess what their viewers had to say about this scary and very real situation:

lockdown

From this situation, we did learn that Kirkwood needs to have a look at tightening their security, but I do not agree with the news station’s tactics and I do not believe that it is the responsibility of a reporter or news station to create a story to report. Instead of exploiting a major security issue at local schools, they have become a joke to the community. There is a fine line between reporting an issue, and creating an issue to report on.

I didn’t become a journalist for a reason. I have always found journalists’ ruthlessness to get a story rude. I have too much empathy for people involved in tragic situations to have the guts to stick a microphone or camera in their faces just for a quote. On the flipside of this, someone has to get dirty and report the news, I just wish they’d do it with a little more conscience and empathy.

At what point do they look back on this and say, “whoops, we’re sorry we approached it in this way” instead of “whoops, sorry we’re not sorry.” Until they acknowledge that, I don’t think their credibility will hold as true as it once did.

Is this what reporters do to get stories? What do you think?

To be fair, as we part, here’s the story KSDK ran as a result of their “tests”.

 

Meijer’s Magic January 5, 2014

Filed under: marketing — thisgirlsarah @ 7:35 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

Before the buzz about snowmagedden and before the Colts beat the Chiefs in the wildcard game of the playoffs, there was another buzzword in Indianapolis: Meijer.

WTHR showcases empty shelves at Meijer.

WTHR showcases empty shelves at Meijer.

You should know that Meijer is a Walmart-like store based out of Michigan. More important background to their PR story is the fact that on Thursday, Colts fans were facing the threat of a blackout game. The NFL elected to extend the deadline to sell-out the game until 4:30 on Friday, at which time Meijer swooped in to save the day by buying 1200 tickets and the blackout was avoided.

Obviously, their name was in every news story instantly. Not only did they prevent a blackout, they also donated the tickets to military families (which melts my heart). Naturally, when the time came to stock up for the winter storm, many Indianapolis residents turned to Meijer over other grocers to support the company that saved the playoffs.

Surely, the bread would have flown off of the shelves despite them buying the remaining Colts tickets, but this move had good timing. People needed to go to the store and the Meijer brand was at the top of consumers minds. It was good timing. I anticipate that Meijer will continue to be at the top of Indiana consumers minds in the future for their respectable donation.

Did more people choose Meijer over any other store this winter storm? Maybe, or maybe not, but I know their name definitely means more to this Indianapolis resident than ever before. My vote? Brilliant move. Expensive, but brilliant. What do you think?

 

 

To “we” or not to “we”? November 17, 2013

To we or not to we?You know that moment a friend reveals an annoying habit in your favorite TV character, then all the sudden, you can’t focus on anything else? I did that to myself the other day.

I was sending emails requesting help on a marketing campaign last week and noticed I constantly said “we” instead of “I”, despite the fact that it was originally my idea and I was the only person doing the work. I was not bitter about that part of it, I was excited for my project; I was annoyed with myself for not taking credit for my ideas and work. It was something that I became more conscious of as the week went on and I interacted with others and sent more emails. Why couldn’t I take ownership for a project  that I was proud and excited to initiate?

So, being the word nerd that I am, I began self-reflecting on what I felt was a problem beyond just swapping pronouns. “We” is an inclusive, plural pronoun and involves other people. “I” is about the individual; a person that does something alone. That in mind, I came up with a few theories behind my choice of words.

Theory 1: I truly am a team player. By choosing “we” I am giving others credit and sharing successes together. To use “I” over “we” seems selfish because I did ask someone else a question, which, thereby involves them in the project, no matter how small that seems. I really can’t take 100% credit for something if I am only responsible for 98% of the idea.

Theory 2: By choosing “I”, I take sole ownership of the success or fail of the project. Choosing “we” shows that I am afraid of being responsible, especially if the campaign should happen to fail.

Theory 3: I want to include others to improve my bargaining power. I can succeed better by name dropping, as someone might do to get into a cool club. As a new employee with other teammates all across the nation, the other employees resonate better with a name they recognize and have met, rather than a name they have only seen on a paper or email introduction.

Theory 4: “We” is a vindication for my idea and a reminder that I have support in my project or idea. “I had this idea and we are doing it!”

I’m guilty of each of these. I completely made each theory up, but it’s been helpful to self-reflect and analyze my motive behind my pronoun choice. I realize that I have to be a huge nerd to write an entire blog post about two pronouns, but when I stepped back and considered why I was doing what I was doing in conversations, it opened up my eyes.

Being a team player is definitely a great attribute, but I’d encourage you to do your own self-analysis to discover if you, like me, have a tendency to sacrifice yourself for any of the reasons I mentioned. There are situations in which choosing the inclusive term is appropriate, but I’d bet if you consciously think about whether it’s necessary to include others in your communication, you’d find more opportunities for “I” than you’d think.

I was curious to see if any research had been done on this subject, but had no exact match. I thought someone would suggest my habit was because I am a millennial (the world is hating on millennials these days) or maybe they’d suggest it was because I am a woman. Help ease my mind and tell me what you think. Have you ever noticed that you might be selling yourself short?

 

 

Masking a brand for Halloween November 3, 2013

Halloween is a time of year when you get to act and be like something you are not and often, people choose a character they admire. Apparently this Halloween, Pepsi decided to dress up as their competitor Coca-Cola. Does that mean they admire them or want to be like them?

Pepsi as Coca-Cola

Pepsi Advertisement 2013

I cannot think of any scenario in which this is good advertising for Pepsi (except that it got the advertising world buzzing about their advertisement). Not only does it go against my theory of what to be for Halloween, because that would mean they long to be like Coca-Cola, but it also make it looks like the Pepsi can is wearing a super hero cape; as if to say Coca-Cola is Superman and Pepsi is the normal, ordinary Clark Kent. I think people would rather align themselves with the superhero in most scenarios.

Maybe they were trying to be ironic, but ironic costumes never go over well either. There’s too much explanation needed. Fork in a road? Ceiling fan? Code for I have no costume.

Even more interesting is Pepsi’s choice to cover up their own iconic packaging with their competitors brand. They used prime advertising real estate to inadvertently promote their competitor. A better move, in my mind, would be to have a Coca-Cola can dressed up as a Pepsi can for already listed reasons. Not to mention, is it every really good marketing to bash the competitor?

Here are a two brands that also capitalized on the idea of costuming their brand, but in my opinion, got it right, whereas Pepsi got it wrong.

Mini Cooper 2013

“Even your car is dressing up as something hot.”

Sharpie 2013

Sharpie 2013

Additionally, always popular, Oreo hit a big home run with their Halloween videos. Not only do I bow in the greatness of their stop motion video skills, but even the sets for the cookie actor are amazingly detailed. How much would you love that job? ‘Hey guys, let’s recreate the exorcist with an Oreo and call it “Exortwist!’ Those are the kinds of jokes only Oreo can pull off. A well liked brand with well liked campaigns gives you the space for creativity. 

There are so many opportunities for holiday advertising, especially around Halloween. Pepsi really missed the mark and came off as a bad sport, although apparently some advertisers thought it was a success. I vote to leave the other guys out of it and establish your own brand identity separate from the competitor for a really memorable and successful campaign.

What was your favorite Halloween advertisement and what do you think about Pepsi’s move?

Bias alert: I’m a Diet Coke fan all day long.

 

 
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