Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Don’t forget the strategy when it comes to your Content Marketing program

Monday, May 16th, 2016

e-Spirit logoOver the past year I’ve seen quite a bit of coverage devoted to Content Marketing. Many people I’ve spoken with and articles that I’ve read highlight the importance of having a content distribution machine in place to deliver content to the masses. However, the reality is that while many companies talk a good game, most don’t have a content strategy in place and many don’t follow up on the plans they do implement.

According to research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, 55 percent of B2B marketers say their organization is unclear on what content marketing success or effectiveness looks like. The same report indicates that only 44 percent of B2B marketers meet daily or weekly to discuss the progress of their content marketing program. The bottom line is that while many companies continue to crank out content to share with their customers and prospects, many don’t have a plan in place designed to ensure success.

One of the companies we work with, e-Spirit, just recently had an article published in CMSWire that our team wrote and placed in the publication that focuses on the CMSWire logoimportance of having a content marketing strategy in place. In addition, the article highlights the importance of being able to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time.

Does your company have a defined content marketing strategy in place? More importantly, does your company regularly check to see if it’s following that strategy?

Does PR Overhype Unicorns?

Monday, November 30th, 2015

unicorn8Interesting article in a recent Economist about the hype surrounding high tech start-ups. The article, The Fable of the Unicorn, discusses a Silicon Valley darling called Theranos. The company has created a new type of blood test technology that could possibly turn the industry on its side. According to the Economist, that is a $75 billion a year industry so we’re talking about big money.

_76894099_theranos-logoThis article, and many like it that I’ve read over the years, highlights a big issue in the public relations industry—What responsibility does a PR manager have to give honest feedback and perspective to both the company’s executives and to the market in general? If the goal of a CEO is to build the valuation of the company, how much hyperbole is allowed? Lying can get you in to trouble, but is it a lie to merely hype the new company or product and paint a vision of where the company can eventually be?

“Yet in other ways Theranos evokes a central theme in today’s tech industry: startups which promise to disrupt lucrative businesses and become valued on the basis of fantasies about their potential, rather than present reality. Investors are so keen to get a piece of any sexy-sounding startup that they lap up entrepreneurs’ hype—and anyone who asks awkward questions risks being cut out of the funding round in favour of someone more trusting.”—The Economist

Our industry is full of examples of companies or products that were over-hyped only to crash and burn. The issue of FUD is also a part of this but that will be for another blog post down the road.

Promoting a company or product in order to gain attention and build valuation or secure investors is part of our job. To me the question becomes, who are we responsible too? I know that if I was working with a CEO or CMO who wanted us to over-promote something, or outright lie about it’s potential, I would have a problem with it. We always counsel our clients to be ethical and we expect them to behave the same.

Anyone who has had to give someone constructive criticism knows how awkward it can be. Imagine if you were working with a CEO or CMO and you knew they were bending the truth or outright lying, what would you do? Have you ever had a similar experience?

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.

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!

 

 

The two-headed monster that is social media

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

“Nelson Mandela’s memorial service Tuesday was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime event where dozens of world leaders join thousands of South Africans in a massive stadium, all to honor the anti-apartheid icon. Instead, it turned into a media sensation…about a selfie.” CNN 

SAFRICA-MANDELA-MEMORIAL

Social media has changed the whole ballgame. While it’s fun to share photos with friends in real-time on Facebook and call attention to company announcements via Twitter, marketing leaders need to think clearly about what their goals are and how social media can help achieve those goals. It makes me sad that a celebration of somebody’s life, somebody who helped change the world, can get pushed aside by the uproar of taking a picture.

Remember the old adage that any PR is good PR? Well, that’s not always the case. When our team develops a PR plan and considers the social media activities to include, we think about the negative consequences of what might happen on our blog, or on Twitter and Facebook. Obviously we consider all of the potential actions we take, but who’s to say what is or isn’t potentially harmful. I’m not offended by the photo of the three world leaders, and obviously the three of them didn’t have a problem with it, but they need to realize that the reach of social media is everywhere.

The bigger issue to me is more about the yellow journalism/tabloid infected world we live in. Why is a selfie taken by President Obama, Danish Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt, and British Prime Minister Cameron considered newsworthy? To me it’s as interesting as headlines in tabloids about the Kardashian sisters.

So back to the original topic. When designing PR plans, how much emphasis do you put on social media? Do you consider both the positive and negative repercussions of social media activities for a campaign or do you only look at how many people you might reach? Do you incorporate ideas about how to react quickly using social media if something goes wrong during a launch?

Just remember that what you consider a safe move might come back to bite you…and it’s in your best interest to be prepared.

Getting Editor’s Interested In Your News

Monday, November 25th, 2013

newsWhat is newsworthy? Or more to the point, what are good news hooks to secure interest from an editor? I was talking with a client recently about this exact topic and I shared a few ideas. Especially for small and mid-sized companies it’s hard to get attention from editors. Hard news, like an acquisition or a major product rollout, is almost always of interest to editors. But in the absence of hard news, how can you get an editor interested enough to cover your company?

AIIMOne of the organizations we work with at McKenzie Worldwide is AIIM, which is the Association for Information and Image Management. Since the group doesn’t make product announcements or acquire other companies, it can be difficult to get editors interested. How did we clear this hurdle? By talking with a reporter about a self-generated industry report – ECM at the Crossroads – which discussed industry issues. The reporter at CIO Insight was able to develop an article –Mobile Access to ECMs Needs Improvement –and a slideshow based on the research.

In today’s editorial community you must get creative in order to secure coverage. Consolidation of industry publications, fewer reporters, and a constantly moving 24-hour news cycle make it more challenging than ever to get your news out there. Here are some tips to consider when trying to generate coverage:

  •  “What trends are driving the industry?”—conduct a survey
  • “Ride the coat tails”—announcement with big name partners like Google, Apple, and Facebook
  • “Follow the money”—a funding announcement
  • “Create content”—Graphical images to catch the reader’s eye, such as an infographic
  • “And in the future…”—Q&A interviews are a good way to discuss current trends

Shifting the Story?

Monday, May 20th, 2013

“I am not a crook.” President Nixon

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman” President Clinton

“We promise not to screw it up.” Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer

Well, you can’t fault Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer for being honest and upfront. Earlier today Yahoo! announced that it had paid $1.1 Yahoobillion for microblogging service Tumblr. Nice acquisition, big headlines and all that. However, when I read a number of articles about the announcement the thing that jumped out at me was Mayer’s comment. While CEO’s, especially in the tech sector, are known for hyperbole and hype, I found it refreshing to see such candor from Mayer. But I’m curious to know what led her to issue such an off-the-cuff remark? Could it be that social media has become such a big part of our world?

Her comment appeared in numerous articles but it seemed to first appear on her Twitter account. I realize that we live in a 24 hour news cycle world full of sound bites and infographics, but her self-deprecating humor felt to me as one of those “what have I got to lose” moments. More important, I feel that this is a perfect example of how social media has changed the game. In the past an acquisition like this would have a press release (politically correct language approved by corporate lawyers) and a series of interviews for the leaders of the two companies. But now, with social media, news and comments are out there for public consumption immediately.

To me this is an example of the PR tactic of shifting the story. I believe that people will be talking about Ms. Mayer’s comment more than about the news itself. Yes, Yahoo! has had its fair share of screw-ups and has made some poor decisions, but by making fun of itself, Yahoo! has bought time to make the acquisition work and has helped to shape its image. The question is…is this an image that the company wants?

 

Filtering The Real News From Garbage

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

The technological advances we’ve seen in our lifetime is amazing. The Internet has changed the way the world works, cell phones have altered the communications landscape, and many life-threatening illnesses are now curable, just to name a few. While I always marvel at what my kids can do with their smartphones – they laugh at me when I tell them there was no such thing as a PC when I was their age – I sometimes wonder if we’ve gone too far. Yes, it can be a good thing to have a lot of information on a subject, other times too much information, especially when working with editors, can be a negative.

Since President Obama took office we’ve seen a dramatic change in the importance placed on transparency. Being accountable to your constituents is one of the many great things about our democracy. But how much information should we have at our fingertips? How much is too much when it comes to fighting off “Big Brother?” In many ways the act of governing is like sausage — you may like the taste, but you don’t want to see how it’s made.

Knowing how our government representatives vote is fine, but knowing all of the details about how everything is planned and developed “will inspire not reform, but disgust.” In a recent article in CNN, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey talked about the negative side of transparency with regard to government. “Too many politicians aren’t voting their conscience, they’re voting to placate blog commenters, and that’s no way to run government.”

For those of us in the communications field it’s important to ask ourselves if our company is sharing too much information, not enough, or is somewhere in the middle. More important is the question of “what is newsworthy?” Sharing information through multiple channels is fine as long as the news is important. Spamming the world with news of little interest does nothing except get others to tune your news out.

When developing an announcement plan, corporate social media strategy, or building a relationship with an influential editor or blogger, PR folks need to use their internal “garbage meter” to determine how valuable and relevant the news is. Instead of getting people to tune you out, it’s important to make the news compelling enough so that they want to follow your news regularly.

A PR plan or social media strategy needs to take into account what your overall goals are and how newsworthy your announcement is, not “how are we going to blanket the world with our news.” This kind of thinking can also get you in trouble with the media. I know one editor who said that some PR folks upload a release to this editor’s website, Tweet about the news, update Facebook, e-mail the editor directly, and then link back to the editor’s blog with the news. That’s fine as long as the news is of value.

The next time you outline an announcement strategy or PR plan, think carefully about what your goals are. Living in the age of increased transparency, in many ways, is a great thing. But beware of information overload. Or as philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville once stated, “In America the majority raises formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion; within these barriers an author may write what he pleases, but woe to him if he goes beyond them.”

We’ve come a long way since the Bruce Jenner/Wheaties days.

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

 

Remember back in the 1960’s and 1970’s during the height of the Cold War? While we knew a little bit about the top American stars such as Mark Spitz and Dorothy Hamill, there was really no way of knowing anything about the Eastern European athletes. Secrecy, and to a certain extent, government-mandated rules prevented the Eastern Block athletes from being exposed to the West.

But oh how things have changed. Or should I say technology has changed. Sure, the tearing down of the Berlin Wall and the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe has, for the most part, eliminated the East vs. West mentality. But now, thanks to social media, fans and athletes can communicate in a free and open environment. The upcoming London Olympics has jumped on the social media bandwagon and has launched The Hub. This social media portal gives fans a way to connect with their favorite sports and athletes. And it gives the Olympians themselves a way to build their social profiles in the months before the event.

Communicating directly with world-class athletes on The Hub, via Facebook and Twitter, as well as getting event results, will make fans very happy. But think about what this technological advancement will mean for building a personal brand. Back in the 1970’s Bruce Jenner appeared on the iconic Wheaties box following his gold medal win in the decathlon.  In the 1980’s Carl Lewis seemed to be on advertisements everywhere following his multiple gold medal performances in track & field. Advertisement dollars were about the only thing available for athletes back then. And those dollars were only limited to a few select athletes.

How great it is that today’s Olympic athletes have the opportunity to develop their own brand, engage fans, and drive their own marketing activities. And what if they don’t win any medals? They still can use The Hub (as well as many other social media tools) as a way to market themselves to the world.

I think this is a great way for fans to get an inside look at what it’s like to be an Olympic athlete, but I’m more than a little concerned about the blurring lines between athlete and celebrity. Have we gone so far that the athletes and fans will lose sight of the games themselves? Will the winners be the athletes with the best social media profile not the ones with the most medals? Shouldn’t the Olympics be about competition first? How will social media impact the games this summer in London? What’s your opinion?


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