Monday, April 29, 2013 | Leave a Comment
At any age, a working man or woman wants to save money, which is why so many of us grind out 9-5 jobs, right? Unfortunately, many workers cannot effectively manage or save their money, which explains why Suze Orman rose to prominence, providing simple financial advice to millions.
The simplicity of Suze’s advice makes her successful, since her guidance is expressed in layman’s terms. Suze’s financial directives are clear, and the “to-do’s” are obvious, which allows individuals to make decisive choices about their own personal finances. What’s more, Suze built a powerful brand on something basic: financial advice. It’s the type of advice every American needs. Why isn’t every financial adviser like Suze? Why not invest in strategic, brand-building PR?
It’s unfortunate that so many financial advisers sit on the sidelines, while their competitors lure customers who might otherwise be their customers – if only these “sidelined advisers” chose to connect with the right reporters. So many reporters are dedicated to reporting on personal finance. In fact, they’re so hungry for ideas and sources, editors at the Wall Street Journal Wealth Manager blog can’t find enough qualified advisers to write a 500-700 word blog for their site.
It begs the question: if you are a financial adviser or banker, why sit on the sidelines of financial planning, while others are so easily building their brand with advice that everyone needs. Suze Orman did it. What’s holding you back?
Aaron Kellogg is an Account Supervisor at Greenough. Follow him on Twitter: @KelloggAaron
Friday, April 26, 2013 | Leave a Comment
In the battle between traditional and digital media, the facts don’t lie. Newsweek moved to an all digital format. The Boston Phoenix shut down permanently. And percentage of people reading a daily newspaper fell 18% from 2002 to 2012. It would appear digital is winning the war. Yet, more often than not, clients ask me “is this article for the print edition?” and then seem disappointed when I mention that it will only be online.
But digital has many advantages:
- Targeted Audience – RSS feeds from a select group of media outlets can yield more high-quality, focused content than traditional print newspapers – putting your company news in front of the eyeballs that matter to you most.
- Faster Delivery – traditional media only arrives on your doorstep once a day or once a month, depending on the publication. Digital outlets have the ability to update stories in real time and only take seconds to deliver the news via email alerts.
- Younger Demographics – to date there are more than 113.9 million mobile internet users and many news outlets (including Boston.com) that optimize their mobile news content to reach highly desired millennials.
Now, this is not to say that companies should focus solely on digital media. Traditional print and broadcast outlets still have enormous value. During the recent Boston Marathon attack, people turned to their local broadcast affiliates for live reports. Marginal news viewers came out of the woodwork and flocked to Boston’s legacy station, WCVB Channel 5. Even though all stations were running constant live coverage within 10 minutes of the tragedy, WCVB captured an 11.3 rating (35 share) – more than double its competitors.
The battle between traditional and digital media may never be over, and the solution is clear. A well-rounded public relations strategy, including print magazines/newspapers, broadcast outlets and digital media is always best. Focus on trusted outlets rather than the method of distribution. After all, the numbers don’t lie – a “post” on the New York Times Bits blog can reach as many – if not more – of your target audience as a print story in the paper’s Sunday tech section.
Christine Williamson is a senior consultant at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter @ChristineDBW
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 | Leave a Comment
Infographics are a fun, creative way to visually present information and data that is complex and/or lengthy. They appeal to today’s Internet users who demand information at their fingertips, but also tend to have a very short attention span. If executed correctly, infographics have the potential to help companies break through the clutter and get their messages front and center. They are also much more likely to be shared via social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, etc., compared to traditional articles. Below is a roundup of a few of our favorite Halloween infographics.
This first one covers a wide range of fun topics. It’s incredible to see how much spending for the holiday has increased over the years, and we love the section that analyzes social media costume inquiries. Take a look:
By the way, if you’re dressing your pet up, like this infographic predicts, be sure to enter our client Arbella’s photo contest!
This next one is great for the green tips it gives. We love the idea of DIY costumes or holding a costume swap with your friends after the holiday to reduce waste. Check it out:
While the zombie profiles of these social media users are humorous, there may actually be some good underlying social usage tips in this infographic:
If you haven’t explored the possibility of using infographics to strengthen your marketing initiatives, it may be time. Have a very happy and safe Halloween!
Lucy Muscarella is a Consultant at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter: @lucymuscarella
Thursday, May 3, 2012 | Leave a Comment
Surveying your customers in order to gauge their satisfaction with your products or services is nothing new—and applying that same principle to a PR, marketing and communications agency such as ours makes perfect sense. And we’ve been measuring client satisfaction for 11 years.
The results, as you might expect, help us assess our strengths and weaknesses, and they form a strong foundation for determining the agency’s to-dos, whether that’s to build on our ability to drive new sales for our customers or polish our storytelling capabilities.
Instead of purely bragging about our results, however, which you can see a select sampling of here, we challenge you to assess your own PR/marketing/communications agency on the following criteria:
1) Is your agency an extension of your own team? By this I mean does your agency work efficiently and effectively with your staff? Do the two teams have a solid rapport and bullet-proof communication? Does your agency enhance your own capabilities (versus creating redundancy) and complement your existing skillset (versus replicating key abilities)? If it didn’t violate any contracts or policies, would you hire the staff at your agency as employees? Do they have the same (or complementary) core values, work ethic, personal style (and even sense of humor) as your strongest team members?
2) Does your agency demonstrate a passion for your business? Let’s face it—it’s difficult for anyone to know your business as well as you do—but a good agency can come damn close—and should. Your perfect agency should demonstrate complete immersion in your industry, including knowing your competitors, understanding the key issues and having a familiarty with the major players, trends and developments. We’re not talking about a quick refresh before your next in-person visit or conference call—we’re referring to a deep and ongoing knowledge of all your strengths, weakenesses and paint points—internal and external. In a word, your agency should be a subject matter expert in your company and your industry.
3) Does your agency work proactively on your behalf? Someone once said you can’t teach people to be proactive—they either are or aren’t. In my opinion, the best employees are wired to take charge and think ahead—they try to solve problems ahead of the curve. The flip side, naturally, is less desirable—the reactive (versus proactive) employee waits for your orders before they move. Seems pretty clear which type makes a better partner, don’t you think?
4) Last but not least, and perhaps most importantly, does your agency help drive new sales? Is your agency connecting you to qualified leads? Yes, a large part of PR, marketing and comuinications work involves building a brand, whether that’s through thought leadership (contributed articles), social media (Facebook likes) and/or media coverage (Wall Street Journal). But is your agency working from a strategic point of view, directing, managing and integrating all the efforts, from content creation and media outreach to social media, ongoing measurement and reliable follow-up, in order to drive new business into your hopper? At the end of the day, just answering that one simple question may be the truth you need.
Barbara Call is director of content at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter @BarbaraCall1
Monday, January 30, 2012 | Leave a Comment
I’ve seen several blog posts of late referencing the trend for PR and marketing agencies to hire journalists. Having recently made the transition myself, I’ve got some advice for journalists considering the move and agencies considering the hires.
Seven reasons why journalists make good marketers
1) We understand the concept of audience. Any experienced editorial person knows one of the first questions you ask when you’re handed an assignment is this: Who’s the intended audience? We’re familiar with changing the format, tone and length, among other things, depending on the audience and where, when and why they’re reading our content. That skill is critical in marketing PR content development, as you might be crafting a contributed article for a trade pub, assembling a press release for the business press, editing a case study for prospective customers, creating pithy copy for a Facebook posting or writing a white paper for prospective business investors. Not only does the audience, tone and type of writing vary between each of these, you also need to understand the underlying messaging and the correct voice for the client.
2) We’ve been pitched articles by agencies. As a result, we can give our colleagues tips for what works (and what doesn’t). We’re also used to researching story ideas, and that’s often an easy way to start a dialogue with writers and editors on the media side. Having sat on the other side of the desk, we can tell you how the editorial process works, what we’re often looking for and what really turns us off. We also bring an assortment of media contacts to the agency, which usually gives us an inside edge on landing a story or nailing coverage for our clients.
3) We understand the need for context. No successful journalist would ever show up to an interview (or input session, as we call them here at Greenough), without doing our research. We’re used to casting the net very wide, then distilling that information to assemble the story. The first step in casting that net is a basic understanding of the company, its customers, the problem it’s trying to solve and the industry it competes in. We like doing research—it’s part of the journalistic process—and it’s critical in developing compelling and accurate marketing PR content.
4) We’re usually very detail oriented. What, exactly, does that mean? Three sets of skills rolled into one person: We’re expert proofreaders, solid copyeditors and seasoned fact checkers. I’ve worked with and for established publications, where fact checkers doubled back to verify my quotes, titles or statistics, but most of the time the job of fact checking my own work fell to me. This is critical when assembling materials for clients, which should be perfect.
5) We like variety. A journalist’s job is never boring. One day you’re writing a piece on weight training for Women’s Health; the next day you might be updating small business owners on the current lending market. We’re used to diving into a topic area, getting up to speed quickly, churning out an authoritative piece and moving onto the next topic. Sure, many journalists develop an expertise (or, if you’re coming from a newspaper background, a beat), but even within a particular subject matter we enjoy the variety of changing topics. We’re naturally curious, and we ask a lot of questions. Most of the time these skills translate nicely into understanding what our marketing PR clients need.
6) We like to write. Enough said.
7) We’re on top of the news. Part of a journalist’s job is spotting trends—and that means staying on top of current events. That skill translates perfectly to agency work, where finding opportunities for your client’s CEO, for instance, to comment on current events or trends is a nice win.
The #1 thing journalists need to know about working for an agency
1) The client is always right. Pleasing them comes first. Forget about writing the pieces you want to write—your job is to understand the client’s messaging and strategy, then craft the right words to relay that message across multiple channels and readers. Got something else to say? Channel your opinions to your personal blog or do freelance work.
Barbara Call is director of content for Greenough. She can be reached on email at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @BarbaraCall1
Wednesday, September 29, 2010 | Leave a Comment
Gone are the days of going to the movie theater or renting a DVD especially now that Blockbuster has filed for bankruptcy. With the rise of Netflix and other companies that stream movies and television shows online, it makes it easier to watch new releases at home – and has subsequently started an online streaming war.
The New York Times recently reported that Netflix is the front runner in the online streaming world with its subscription service, Watch Instantly. With the ability to watch movies on a computer, television, iPad or iPhone, a whopping 61% of Netflix’s 15 million subscribers streamed movies in the second quarter.
The only downfall is that Netflix’s catalog of 20,000 steaming movies doesn’t include many recent hits because the company hasn’t been able to negotiate rights from all the Hollywood studios. Most of Netflix’s deals require the movie to be on store shelves for 28 days before it can be available on DVD or online.
Not having the most anticipated movies and television shows available to stream when they are released makes other options very tempting. For example, “Robin Hood,” is available to stream on Amazon, but will not be available on Netflix until mid October. The online video hub, Hulu, which recently launched the subscription service, Hulu Plus has the current season of “The Office,” while the most recent episodes on Netflix are from last season.
What side will you take in the streaming war? Will you stick with the leader, Netflix, or the up-and-comers who offer the most recent releases? I’m voting for the underdogs!
-Contributed by Jena Coletti. Follow her @jmcoletti.
Thursday, August 26, 2010 | Leave a Comment
I grew up playing old school Nintendo. My favorite game? Duck Hunt. I would spend hours at a time holding the Nintendo Zapper Light Gun as close to the television as possible to hopefully knock down a duck or clay pigeon. I remember when Game Boys were all the rage and you had to blow inside your game cartridge to make sure it worked properly. I’m most comfortable with console games, but clearly the industry has changed over the years and it’s booming online.
This week, the market research firm NPD Group distributed a study that showed that one out of every five Americans over the age of six has played an online social game at least once. That’s nearly 60 million Americans! That figure leads me to believe that consoles, like Game Boys, will soon be a thing of the past and games will strictly be played online. To back up my point, most of the NPD study respondents had never played a traditional video game and 35% had no previous gaming experience whatsoever.
With games like Duck Hunt, practice made perfect; you didn’t have the option to buy skills or items that would make you a better player. Today, gamers can buy virtual goods to improve their game play. The virtual goods market has become a cash cow and Mashable reports that by 2013 it is expected to hit $6 billion in sales. Now, games provide entertainment and cash rewards.
Do you prefer a console or focus exclusively on social games? I predict that user adoption of social gaming will continue to rise and one day, kids will wonder why their parents ever played games on a television screen.
-Contributed by Jena Coletti. Follow her @jmcoletti.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010 | Leave a Comment
There are endless reasons right now to dislike BP. The company will now always be known for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and its immense environmental costs, most of which have not yet been fully revealed.
In another Greenough blog post, Jennifer Eberline asks: Is it even possible to lead a strong communications strategy during a crisis like this? My answer to that question is: “not really.” Especially in the case of BP who is spending significant dollars buying up all of the “oil spill” terms on popular search engines like Google and Yahoo so users can “Stay Updated On BP's Gulf of Mexico Response Efforts.” See photo below, courtesy of the Mashable article, “BP Buys Top Google Result for “Oil Spill”.
Although the sponsored links are labeled as such, should BP have the privilege of giving anyone searching for information on this catastrophe its side of the story first? In my opinion, no! As someone who works in the PR industry, I can sympathize with how difficult a task it must be for their PR team to continually put out fires left in right – and there have been many. However, when clicking on the BP-sponsored “Oil Spill” link I find it insulting to watch Tony Hayward talk about how they have taken full responsibility for cleaning up the oil spill, let alone watching all the wholesome images of workers cleaning up the spill in their clean white shirts.
As one journalist said, “While it may take BP years, or even decades, to clean up the worst oil spill in U.S. history, the oil giant is wasting no time to attempt to clean up its tarnished image.”
When it comes to public image, what do you think (if anything) BP could do better? Would painting a more honest picture of the crisis (as Jennifer suggested) be enough, or should they tone down their PR efforts and lay low for awhile?
-Contributed by Chantal LeBoulch. Follow her @cleboulch
Monday, March 29, 2010 | Leave a Comment
What does the remix culture mean for business storytelling?
Last week, Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times wrote an insightful and thought-provoking commentary on how the “mash-up culture” of our increasingly digital age affects how we consume texts. I urge you to make time to read Kakutani’s piece, “Texts Without Context,” in full.
First, it’s well worth it. And second, part of Kakutani’s commentary is that our reading habits and attention spans have changed. Take her piece as a challenge; see how many times you’re tempted to look away, to open a new tab in your browser, to go back to whatever task was the previous victim of you short attention span (this blog post, perhaps).
The piece starts with a short review of David Shields’s book “Reality Hunger: A Manifesto,” which Shields created in its entirety by splicing together quotations from other works. You can read an excerpt here. But Kakutani’s commentary doesn’t dwell on written texts. It envelopes examples from literature to technology (e.g. Twitter, Google Wave) to reality TV (Jon & Kate Plus Eight, Jersey Shore) to art (a 3-D rendering of Picasso’s Guernica on YouTube), music and video games.
Interestingly, the UK’s The Guardian recently asked, “[Is it] time for a press award for crowdsourced journalism?
What is the result of this copy-paste-collaborate-remix culture on storytelling? To some degree, we’re already recommending this approach to clients when we suggest blogs or Twitter accounts with multiple contributors. But the cultural shift is not only about a new way of creating content; it also reflects a new way of consuming content. A consumer might read an executive’s short statement in one place, jump over to read a tweet or two, scan an outsider’s comment on the company blog and then skim the list of headlines on the company’s press releases Web page.
If content consumption has become like a choose-your-own-adventure novel, what’s the best approach to telling a business story? Do we jump on the remix wave and become ourselves collectors and splicers, combining customer quotes, reviews, etc? Do we feed the short attention spans of consumers by providing tiny morsels of the story in different places? Do we try to keep telling the story at all, or let consumers tell our story in whatever form bubbles up from the collective?
Let us know your thoughts. But first, go read Kakutani’s article. All of it. Trust me, it will be good for you.
Contributed by @c_morgan
Thursday, March 4, 2010 | Leave a Comment
Le Monde newspaper in France has 300,000 traditional subscribers per month who receive the publication on their doorsteps. And they have 100,000 online subscribers who pay $8/month for access to online content. That’s a pretty great ratio. The Wall Street Journal, on the other hand, has 2.1 million traditional subscribers and 400,000 customers who pay online. That ratio isn’t quite as good.
Free online content ensures readers, but not money. Paid content might snag some money, but not many readers are willing to pay. It’s a tough scenario, and as we speak the print industry is trying to decide on the best way to monetize the changing nature of consumer news consumption. The debate between paid versus free, if it ever really faded away, has been brought back to the forefront by developments such as the iPad and the highly publicized decisions of publications like The New York Times to erect pay walls. I’m not going to jump into that brawl in this post, but I did want to share a very interesting view on the situation and one that hasn’t received much attention.
Howard Gossage was an advertising executive in the 1950s and 60s (yes, like Don Draper), and he wrote a very interesting essay on the basis of print journalism. In the early days of the industry, newspapers and magazines relied on readers for funding. If a consumer believed that the content was worth it, he paid. As advertising came of age, the publications all of a sudden found a new source of income, and as circulation grew so did ad revenue.
Eventually, Gossage writes, “Two opposing economic spoilsports – rising production costs and competition – started to ruin the whole lovely thing.” To keep readers the papers had to keep prices down, but costs were driving the price up. The industry “committed itself to an increasingly irreversible course,” and chose to sell the content for less and pander to the advertiser.
This came with huge consequences. Newspapers and magazines now depended entirely on advertisers, and a reader was simply a circulation number, not a patron. Content changed as well. Gossage advocated expunging advertising from a publication’s pages and selling the content for what it was truly worth and what it would take to maintain it. And look where we are today.
The Times’ move to a walled garden pay structure, and that of other publications, has been met with a range of reactions from spectators and industry insiders. But looking at the industry within this historical perspective defends the pay structure and makes it seem downright revolutionary. Rupert Murdoch is sticking it to the advertisers! Sort of. Advertising and print are inextricably linked in a symbiotic relationship that I can’t see ever totally losing value for either partner, but a pay structure that prices content at a premium fundamentally fights circulation figures.
Newspapers are already beginning to find the customers that really want the content and charge them for it, and one way they’re doing this is with mobile applications, many of which are advertising-lite. More and more people use their phones to access the news, and this will only increase over time. It’s clear that “the life or death of a publication no longer depends on whether its readers like it but whether advertisers like it,” as Gossage writes, and when I really think about this, it just seems sad, and I can’t help but wonder if the industry’s current predicament is really a huge opportunity for print to revert to its former business model. But is that even possible in the age of the internet?
Contributed by Jim Fay. Follow him @JGF3.