Archive for the ‘Strategy’ Category

Why is it so hard to get sales and marketing to play nicely together?

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

I’ve never quite understood why it’s so hard to get the folks in the sales department to work closely with the PR team. I’ve worked with many big technology companies, including Oracle, Microsoft, and Apple, and rarely have I ever had an easy time engaging with the sales team. It’s a very strange relationship even though it’s really a symbiotic relationship—both sides can benefit from working with the other.

One theory I’ve heard is that the people in each of these departments are fundamentally different personality wise.  Chief Marketer Magazine had an interested article that focused on what each side brings to the table, using a Kirk and Spock analogy:

Spock represents the logical, data-driven (machine-like) approach to decision making, while Captain Kirk Kirk and Spockrelied mainly on his training, experience and instincts to get the crew out of a tight spot. Ultimately, the Enterprise completed its mission because Kirk and Spock often collaborated to find the right answer together—demonstrating how successful man machine collaboration could be.

The key to success is collaboration. When I’ve run into roadblocks with sales reps refusing to share customer examples, it’s usually because they don’t want to lose control of the relationship with the customer. Plus, they don’t want someone from the PR team messing up the company’s standing with the customer—both of which I completely understand.

When I work with sales reps I go out of my way to outline exactly what I would like to do with the customer, how it would benefit both the customer and our company, and include them on all communication. It sounds pretty simply but, in fact, it takes discipline to make sure you don’t lose sight of the bigger picture beyond your PR needs and the sales reps’ needs—the importance of keeping the customer happy for the long-term benefit of the organization.

UDWhile I’ve had success placing customer stories for our customers—Urban Decay and Geberit come to mind as recent examples—and with placing customers as speakers at industry events, it’s critical that the PR team takes the time to develop a relationship with the sales team so that they trust what you’re doing and believe that what you’re doing is in the best interest of the customer first and your company second.

Do you have any good success stories about working with your sales reps and customers?

How to communicate effectively when “you know too much”

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

presidential debateWatching the presidential debates, I have found the diversity of communication styles from candidate to candidate to be a fascinating study in spokesperson strategies and how they represent a brand. What traits make a spokesperson successful and what may not work in front of the camera or a journalist’s pen?

When you set aside the issues, what’s left are the basic elements of communication, or the strategies a spokesperson employs to convey their point of view and influence their audience while representing the company brand (or party image, in the case of presidential race).

Although public relations has evolved dramatically during the past 10 years, the basic guidelines for being a good media spokesperson have remained the same (with some tweaks). Below are some of the basics that you may already know but I hope they serve as a helpful reminder to anyone who plays the role of spokesperson, whether it’s a quick answer to a few questions or a longer, in-depth interview. As a spokesperson, you represent the company brand at all times, so how do you stick to the key tenants without going off track?

  • Remember, you know too much. You are an expert about your subject matter. So much so, that you likely have a level of understanding that is many levels deeper than the journalist. If you try giving them too much information, you will probably bore them and they may pick up a tangential point you may have mentioned instead of the topic you imagined would be the focus of the article. So keep the conversation simple and focused. This leads me to the next point…
  • Stay on message. There are many strategies for doing this, but in short: Say what you want to say, and then say it again. In other words, identify your core message and supportive key points before your presentation. Then, keep your core message simple and repeat it often so it sticks. You may give a lot of examples and scenarios to help explain your point, but always return to your core message. Another good way to wrap up your interview is to use numbered steps to outline your key points. For example, “ … the three main things I want to leave you with today are 1) …. 2) … 3) …” It may seem obvious, but reporters often appreciate the clear, concise recap.
  • Engage them in the conversation. This seems self-explanatory but when you have a lot to explain, it’s easy to start lecturing. If you feel this is happening, ask questions to make sure you’re not losing or boring them with too much detail.
  • Act as if you’re talking to your most important customer. Although you may be talking to one person, the end result may be an article describing your comments to a majority of your customers. You want it to sound respectful and concise.
  • Silence is golden. Don’t babble on uncomfortably if you get flustered when they stop asking questions. Just stop talking. This gives pause for questions and gives the journalist time to take notes. Also, remember that the questions the reporter asks reveal where he/she is going with their article and may flag areas of concern that you will need to address.
  • Set expectations accurately. No one likes to be let down or lied to, and it’s a real bummer when products you purchased don’t work as described. Be honest and deliver on your promises. Otherwise, you’ll start to sound like a presidential candidate and no one will trust you – OR your brand.

How do you represent your brand during media interviews? If you need help, give us a call! We have media training experts ready to help.

Enterprise transformation – Is it real this time?

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

Over the past 20 years or so that I’ve been involved in the enterprise software industry, I’ve heard endless predictions about how the industry is going to dramatically change and how this technology or that technology, or new delivery models like software as a service are going to put the established vendors out of business.

As far as I can tell, not that much has actually changed. Sure enterprises are using some cloud apps and improving mobile device support. But where the rubber actually meets the road, enterprises are still running their own infrastructures and closely guarding their content and data behind layers of IT administrators. The players aren’t changing much either, with Microsoft, Oracle, IBM and SAP accounting for the lion’s share of revenues.

IDC FutureNow, for its 2016 industry predictions IDC is saying that converging technology forces – primarily mobile computing, cloud services, big data and analytics, and social networking – will lead to wholesale digital transformations that will essentially blow up everything we know about enterprise software today. As enterprises embrace emerging technologies, IDC predicts we’ll see the creation of what it’s calling the “DX economy.”

According to IDC, besides determining the winners in nearly every industry – the companies that embrace the new technologies will win while those who don’t will lose – the DX economy will fracture the enterprise software industry. Per IDC’s press release about its research:

Nearly a third of today’s IT suppliers will be acquired, merged, downsized, or significantly repositioned. In this environment, enterprises will have to constantly monitor and assess the solutions offered by their suppliers and partners and be prepared to realign these relationships as needed.

Talk about disruption.

But the big question is whether IDC is right. Is this the moment when the enterprise software industry truly changes, or is this just another hype cycle?

Both sides have a case. On one side, you have the massive investments enterprises have already made in hardware and software which simply aren’t going anywhere. On the other, you have increasingly tech-savvy customers demanding a more cohesive and personalized experience than ever before. There’s also the much-discussed Internet of Things (IoT) that IDC says will be a “fertile area” for DX.

There’s little question that digital transformation is one of the hottest topics in the enterprise space today. But is it real or just another passing fad? Let us know what you think.

In your spare time, be sure to head over to IDC’s FutureScape landing page to soak in a series of 33 on-demand presentations covering many different industries and market segments. Full disclosure: I have not actually watched them all, but many do look promising. I’m interested in learning what’s up with wearables, for instance.

Building Brand Takes Bold Action

Friday, October 30th, 2015

REI logoI’m really impressed when a company talks the talk and then walks the walk. Recently REI, the nation’s largest consumer co-op and specialty outdoor retailer, announced that it is going to close its doors for Black Friday. The company said it is going to pay its 12,000 employees to do what they love most – be outside. Why give up one of the busiest days in retail? To stay true to its brand.

Is this simply a public relations stunt? The industry magazine PR Week went so far as to publish a headline that read “REI: Our plan to close stores on Black Friday is no PR stunt”—so I guess it’s not just a stunt.

Outdoor camping Two things about this announcement caught my eye. First, regardless of whether or not it’s a stunt, the move is getting people to talk about the company—industry buzz is always a good thing. Personally, I hate what shopping has done to Thanksgiving so I’m now more inclined to take a look at REI’s merchandise since I respect the move.

Second, it’s all about the brand. REI is all about the outdoors. As it says on the company’s “About REI” section, “But no matter how large we grow, our roots remain firmly planted in the outdoors. Our passion for outdoor adventure is clear, whether you visit any of our stores across the country, phone us, or interact with us online.”

The company values the great outdoors and wants to help people to enjoy what nature has to offer. Rather than promote huge savings or getting people to look at the next outdoor gadget, the company took a bold step and showed the world that there’s more to life than shopping.


When a key editor needed video content, Tektronix (and our agency) delivered

Friday, February 20th, 2015

One way that you can build trust in your company’s brand and continue to strengthen your relationship with the editorial community is to help out those hard-working editors who cover your company and its products whenever you can. Editors are typically short on time, yet they always have lots of content that they need to generate for their online publications. Therefore, providing them with useful video content that is compelling, news-style and professionally produced, such as the remote video interviews that we recently helped manage and produce for our client Tektronix, is just a good thing.

We recently worked with our Tektronix clients to develop two CNN-style remote interview videos for Martin Rowe, senior technical editor at Electronic Design Network (EDN), of him interviewing an expert at Tektronix. The objective was to help Martin give his readers/viewers who were unable to attend this year’s DesignCon a great overview of a few of the important technology issues that were going to be discussed at the show

In the videos, Chris Loberg, senior technical marketing manager, at Tektronix was interviewed via phone by Martin Rowe about trends as well as 100G standards and measurements. The videos were posted on EDN and featured a Q&A interview with Martin.

Martin loved the videos that we produced and he received such positive feedback from his colleagues at the publication that we expect we’ll be helping them out with many more videos to come.

Remember, thinking creatively about the best ways to help our editors and our clients is what we enjoy doing every day.  Please give us a call if you would like McKenzie Worldwide to help you build trust in your brand!



Recipe for Results

Monday, February 16th, 2015

For PR pros working in the high tech sector, getting coverage for companies that are not named Microsoft, Google and Amazon has become harder than ever. With a smaller number of publications out there and fewer reporters to cover even more news, getting eyeballs to read about your client can be quite a challenge. In the absence of hard news, such as quarterly earnings, acquisitions or product launches, how can you help your clients secure the type of exposure they want?

StoresFor one of the companies we work with, e-Spirit, we’ve focused on a number of key themes that resonate in their respective markets. The overarching idea centers on improving their customer’s digital experience and is supported by such themes as personalization (STORES Magazine—Downright Personal) and creating brand ambassadors (CMSWire—Turn Touch Points into Trust Points.)

ScopeWe’ve also focused on discussing and providing insights when it comes to industry trends such as content marketing (Document Magazine—Content Marketing that Serves Your Customer Experience) and mobile SEO (The Marketing Scope—7 Tips to Successful Mobile SEO.)

The point here is to make sure that your PR agency understands your business, your markets and your customers.

The Paperless Office…In Our Lifetime?

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

logo_aiimIt seems like we’ve heard about the paperless office for many years now. Will it happen in our lifetime? Well, your guess is as good as mine. Our friends at AIIM just published a very interesting report about how companies are incorporating paper-free projects into their business. What I find interesting about the report, Winning the Paper Wars, are the reasons for and against going paper-free.

Many of the companies involved in the research indicated that their legal departments and some executives are not comfortable using 5-more-simple-tools-for-a-paperless-office-508f814ec9electronic signatures and electronic documents due to legal issues. The reality is that e-signatures and e-docs are 100 percent admissible in court. Conversely, the growth of mobile workers and mobile devices/applications has helped spur the need for the paper-less work environment.

mobile worker - man on his phone and laptop in a fieldFor those who work in PR and marketing, do you find that your clients like to publicize the fact that they are paper-free or that they’re using workflow and business process technology to reduce the use of paper and increase worker productivity? From a business perspective it makes a lot of sense to go this route, but does it help from a communications standpoint?

Content, Content Everywhere…But Is There A Plan?

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

I read many industry publications each week to make sure I’m up to date on my clients and their markets. Lately I’ve been reading quite a bit of marketing pubs and Content Management Systems websites and I must say that I’ve seen a ton of discussion about content marketing. In fact, the Content Marketing Institute recently wrote an article called “34 Essential Research Reports for More Effective Content Marketing”. You read that correctly…there are 34 reports to check out solely about content marketing.

5-Link-Building-Strategy-EssentialsOn the one hand the growth of social media has given companies new channels to tap into to reach their customers and potential customers. Yet at the same time, it’s important to realize that simply pushing out content across many different channels can be annoying. What’s important is that your PR and marketing leaders understand that simply publishing vast amounts of content isn’t going to move the needle. You must build a strategy which clearly defines your goals so that you can use your content to support those goals.

As our client, e-Spirit, discussed recently in their blog – When It Comes To Content, Don’t Simply Throw Darts At The DartboardDarts_in_a_dartboardSuccessful marketing executives are the ones who understand that content cannot be created in a vacuum and a well thought out content marketing strategy can mean the difference between success and failure.

Transparency and Social Media Puts CEOs on the Defensive

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Over the past few years we’ve seen some pretty amazing examples of the power of communication, specifically, the ability to share events in real-time on a global level. Protests like the ones in Tahrir Square in Egypt and now in Gezi Park in Turkey clearly demonstrate that the Web’s ability to share information in real-time truly empowers people in David vs. Goliath situations. Closer to home even President Obama’s call for government transparency has helped show people that transparency promotes accountability.

Don-Thompson-of-McDonaldsBut when companies implement social media strategies, are they truly ready for what might come their way? Did McDonald’s CEO really think that a question from a 9-year old during its annual shareholder’s meeting would cause such a headache?

1369333180000-hannah-with-chart-1305231917_4_3_rx404_c534x401“I don’t think it’s fair when big companies try to trick kids into eating food. It isn’t fair that so many kids my agare getting sick,” she said — blaming McDonald’s for unfairly targeting kids with advertisements for food that isn’t good for them.

Nine-year old Hannah Robertson to McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson

Or what about Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Michael Jeffries, whose insensitive comments about the company’s target market back in 2006 in Salon Magazine recently resurfaced?

104738_story__9ba“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” Jeffries said in the article. “We go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong (in our clothes), and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

Sure, most people have figured out the power of social media and the ability for any piece of news to go viral. As noted in a blog post on Forbes about A&F, “But unfortunately, with the internet, embarrassing articles do not die – they just go into hibernation until they are resuscitated.”

Of course, corporate leaders and politicians still seem to stick their collective feet in their mouth—check out Oklahoma state representative Dennis Johnson’s recent comments—by not being prepared when information is posted online or goes viral via YouTube.

Most executives we have work with understand that systems must be put in place to not only field inquiries via social media channels, but that damage control and crisis communication plans must be in place as well. The transparency of the Web has empowered people to share information on a global level. Sometimes the information is positive, sometimes it’s negative. But I’m sure that the VP of Marketing at McDonald’s or A&F have realized that following the Boy Scout’s motto, be prepared, has to be taken seriously.

So when your company dove into the social media world, did you map out a lines of communication diagram to up-level feedback to senior executives in real-time? Thinking this through ahead of time can not only save your company, but it might save your job as well.

Question-“When did Noah build the ark?”

Answer-“Before the flood.”





Channel Surfing

Friday, May 17th, 2013

I don’t know about you, but I find it overwhelming to channel surf on my cable system. As I tell my son, “hundreds of channels, nothing to watch.” But when we’re talking about marketing and we say “channel”, it’s a whole different ballgame. Traditionally the channel refers the various outlets you use to share your product or message with potential customers such as the retail channel, reseller channel, or mail order channel, just to name a few. But in today’s world, thanks in part to social media, the channel has grown.

It used to be that you could get a story published in a magazine or newspaper about your company or product, but now there’s the world of online media, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. For marketing and PR pros it can be overwhelming.

If you want to learn more about how to manage all of your marketing channels, take a few minutes to read an article that one of our clients, Oliver Jaeger at e-Spirit, recently published. The article recently appeared in Marketing Executives and it’s titled Six Ways to Improve Multichannel Marketing.

Marketing and PR pros often wear many hats and, at times, managing so many channels can feel like you’re drinking from the fire hose. The key is having a strong Web Content Management system in place to not only manage all of your online marketing materials, but to help improve your customer’s experience.

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