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
Wednesday, December 7, 2011 | Leave a Comment
When I first saw China Daily, the Chinese government’s English language newspaper, tucked into a copy of The Boston Globe last month, I was – to put it mildly – a little perturbed. What was this propaganda doing in my newspaper? What is China trying to do? Most of all, why does this publication contain zero bad news???
Then I thought, isn’t this the same thing PR agencies do every day? Ok, yes, it’s quite a bit different, but bear with me. Maybe, instead of being put off by China Daily, we can learn something from this PR engine that is not only successfully broadcasting its news, but has convinced people to pay a cool $99 a year for it. Here are a few things that come to mind:
Find the Good Stuff
In the Globe’s article on China Daily, BU professor Aimin Yan is quoted as saying, “All or most [of the publication’s] news is positive.” This may seem self-explanatory in PR – no one calls reporters hoping to get coverage of a client disaster – but positive doesn’t necessarily mean “not negative.” Have you ever put out a press release on an announcement that was just kind of… neutral? We need to focus on creating truly positive, impactful news.
Know Your Audience
The audience is clearly something China Daily is keenly aware of: The publication debuted only 2 years ago and now has a circulation of 150,000. The Chinese government has been smart in choosing markets too, focusing on cities with a large, educated Chinese population. We PR folks could stand to take a page out of China’s book when it comes to selecting outlets that make a tangible difference for our clients.
While most PR agencies don’t have one of the world’s biggest economic powerhouses as a client (if you do, more power to you), that’s no excuse to keep practicing the same old PR routine. It’s time to innovate when it comes to reaching new audiences. China established its own newspaper… what are you going to create?
Jake Navarro is a content consultant for Greenough. Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.