Between You and Me, There's PR

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

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?

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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?

 

 

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.

 

Are QR Codes Dead? August 21, 2013

Filed under: marketing,QR Code — thisgirlsarah @ 8:49 PM
Tags: , , ,

tombstoneThe two most popular posts I have written on this blog have been about QR codes. I wrote the first post around the time they first came out in 2010. Three years later, the general consensus is that they are useless. Of course, that has not stopped them from appearing everywhere.

As a 24-year-old young adult living life, I always feel disappointed when scanning a QR code. If I am sitting a restaurant and see a QR code, I scan it expecting a discount, not a link to their boring website. I always anticipate a QR code helping me in whatever I am doing at the time and am let down time and time again with general content.

However, as a marketer, I have seen their success. The demographic I currently market to is truck drivers, therefore, my challenge is the fact that they either a) are never home or b) their home is the truck. As more and more drivers use smartphones, I’ve started testing QR codes with success.

The key is placement and content. Our most successful QR codes have been on ¼ size flyers people can pick up and take with them. They also have a promise at the other end, such as a chance to win something or to download our app. The app is especially successful because a smartphone is necessary to scan a QR code as well as download and use the app. It’s a perfect combination. Just like using a mobile marketing tool to market to a mobile demographic.

QR codes will die if not used appropriately. Haven’t we been taught as marketers that every successful campaign should have a call to action? Just sticking a QR code on a magazine ad is worthless unless there is an explanation, a chance to win a prize, or something beyond just a link to their website. Reward customers for doing the work to scan your QR code and you will also see a reward. They key is placement, content and the right demographic.

What has been you experience with QR codes either as a consumer or marketer?

 

Adapt or Die: Marketing Trends That Said Goodbye March 11, 2013

90s Hunk

Leonardo is definitely a 90s hunk.

I’m a 90s kid and, like all 90s kids, love the lists on Buzz Feed of things from my childhood. For example: “35 Things You Will Never See Again” featuring the VHS tape and “90s Hunks Shirtless: Then and Now”  even the word “hunk” is a 90s flashback!. Today, I saw a list like those that was  written by Hubspot called, “25 Things You’ll Have to Explain to Your Kids About Marketing One Day”. This list offers a lot of perspective as to where marketing was and is going in the future. (I’ll wait while you read.)

The craziest “whoaa” moment for me while reading this was the fact that I had been taught about most of these things in my high school marketing class and even college classes just a few years ago and now the list claims they are going extinct. My job in social media didn’t even exist a few years ago, will it exist 10 years from now? What’s both really scary and really funny is to go back to my first blog post (which was for my social media class senior year- also the FIRST time it was offered as a topic) titled “Times Change“. To further embarrass myself, I’ll pull a direct quote: “This Youtube clip from Erik Qualman, author of “Socialnomics,” shows statistics regarding social media and really opened my eyes to the success of these trends.”

“The success of these trends.” I called social media, my job, a trend. Is it? Will it go away like the Yellow Pages, newspapers and catalogs?  I think they will only grow and improve. Newspapers aren’t really dead (yet). They have adapted to the changing culture. Cassette tapes have died and CDs  are dying, but they were replaced with an even better tool that makes it easier to listen to music. Direct mail has been replaced by e-newsletters. Newspapers and magazines are still printed, but their online versions were created to adapt to the changing times. I don’t like change, so my vote is we keep them, but make them fit our fast-paced lifestyles better.

Today’s marketing focuses on the online world and takes a special interest in what consumers want. We no longer live in the world where the advertiser tells us what to think or do. Now, marketers use crowd-sourcing and target ads based on our search history or Facebook profiles. Add that to the list of things to explain to your kids: “Kids, back in the day, marketers couldn’t see what you searched for online enabling them to cater their advertisements to your specific likes or dislikes. Life wasn’t creepy like it is now.”

Who am I kidding, Don can handle anything except our smoke free society.

Who am I kidding? Don can handle anything- except our smoke free society.

Wouldn’t you love to see Don Draper take on the marketing world today? He nearly had a heart attack when Peggy Olson staged a ham fight as a PR stunt, I can’t imagine how he’d handle the dynamic world of online marketing. Then again, even he had to adapt as cigarettes, their biggest client, became a health concern.

I don’t think social media will be something we’ll tell our kids about because it doesn’t exist, but I do think it will change dramatically. I leave you with 20 Marketing Trends and Predictions for 2013 and Beyond.

What do you think we’ll see?

 

Networking as a “Young Professional” January 27, 2013

NetworkingAwkward. That should actually be the title of this post because there is no better way to truly describe the art of networking. During my job hunt, my dad always pushed me to “ask if they want to meet for coffee” and I always replied, “Dad, I don’t LIKE coffee!” Obviously, the coffee wasn’t the point, but I was so deathly afraid of meeting strangers and asking them for help that I thought my dislike of coffee could be my escape.

Like all children, I regretfully write these words: my dad knew what he was talking about. *Shudders*

The thing is, no one else is looking out for you except you. You have to be the one to reach out to others and ask for their help because how else will they know you need it? I’ve been on several meet and greets that were horribly nerve-wrecking, but once there, definitely not awkward. Everyone has done it and everyone is willing to help (including me, so ask away).

I’ve been reading Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, in which he describes people that are good at networking as “connectors.” These connectors are relationship builders and have friends, or rather, acquaintances, in every corner of their life. I’ve also been watching a lot of Downton Abbey recently and would call the entire Crawley family connectors. If they wanted William in the tipping point hospital they simply went through their list of acquaintances to find someone that knew someone that knew someone who can get him in despite the hospital initially telling them no. They’re connectors.

Networking and connecting do not end once you find a job. Connectors are people that network for the fun of it, with no purpose in mind, that’s not to say it doesn’t come in handy in the future. Connectors simply enjoy meeting people and are enlightened by the variety of personalities and stories they encounter. Networking and connecting are not skills that go away when you find your dream job. It’s something that will (or should) follow you through your life.

I am the only person in my company that is in charge of creating our social media plan and have been appointee as the “expert”.  The pressure of that expectation mounds daily with the inconsistency and ever-changing world of social media. It’s hard to keep up and know what the best online strategy is for our company with no other social media focused people to brainstorm with. To overcome this challenge, I realize the need to network and ask questions with others in my field. What a relief it was to find groups like Indy Social Media and Indy Social Talk that I can ask for help and learn from.

I already admitted to being a big chicken when it comes to this sort of thing, so don’t be fooled into thinking signing up for those meetings and walking in to meet a group of strangers was easy. It wasn’t. But it does continue to get easier and I don’t feel like I am on a digital marketing island all alone anymore.

My New Year’s resolution was to step out of my comfort zone and meet people. It’s a big deal for me to practice these networking skills because it is so much easier to go about my day saying hello to people without building relationships, but it’s amazing how much more enriched my life is by learning more about those people I am surrounded by.

I encourage you to give it a try. Set a goal to be a connector and take an interest in everyone. You can even start with me by commenting!

 

Lessons From a Young Professional January 19, 2013

If you browse through my past posts, you will notice the earliest entries tend to be more academic because this blog was originally an assignment for a class during my senior year of college. After graduation, I took a more opinionated approach where I share my opinions of things going on in the PR world. After this post, I will continue to share some opinions of PR, but am excited to be able to share insight to my first year working in the world of public relations, more specifically, social media.

I look forward to sharing these experiences and lessons with you and hearing some of your own. After 9 months on the job, I can promise you I have experienced both success and my fair share of “lessons learned.” I look forward to sharing my journey with you. To start, let me tell you about how I got where I am…

Things I learned during the last two years (AKA post-graduation, AKA life):

  1. Everything happens the way it is supposed to, even when it’s not what you expected.

We had so much fun watching the Colts during the pre-season at Lucas Oil Stadium!

I lied. I only learned one thing, but that one thing was key to sanity on the brinks of what recent graduates call the freshman year of life. Life, the period after graduation where you are expected to find a career and kiss three month long breaks goodbye.

I live in Indianapolis. That’s 4.5 hours from my family and childhood home in St. Louis, 9 hours from both of my grandmas and 7.5 from my Alma mater. This city was not on my list of dream cities to find a job.

I work in social media for a service company. I didn’t even know I was interested social media until my post-graduation internship. After discovering my passion for social media I made another unexpected transition from a demographic of children and moms to mostly male truck drivers.

Can't live in Indy without a visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway!

You can’t live in Indy without a visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway!

But isn’t it funny how things happen? For instance, of all the middle of nowhere places my boyfriend’s company could have transferred him to; they landed him in a city where I actually had potential to get hired. Ironically, all but one of the interviews I landed were in this city I never considered living, making it hard to ignore fate.

And so began the life I never anticipated but can’t imagine not living. I have the privilege of working for a great company that challenges me, allows me to travel and teaches me about, and even to cheer for, motorsports! In addition to work, I’ve found Indianapolis to be a very welcoming city. From sports to restaurants and everything in-between, this transition has been every bit of enjoyable and definitely fun.

Throughout my journey to this official start to life there were many people that offered their help, advice and listening ears. As I continue this blog and share my stories of my experience as a young professional in a new city, I hope that I can offer support to other young professionals embarking on their freshman year of life.

 

 
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