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How to Create a Communications Strategy

how to create communications strategyA lot of organizations have separate documented communication strategies for each communications discipline. Your organization may have a public relations strategy, marketing communications strategy, social media strategy and sales strategy, all operating in parallel to accomplish often similar (or exact) goals. I suggest having one, clear and cohesive communications strategy that covers all communications activities within your organization. If there are different people responsible for each strategy, get them all in the same room to create a single one (this goes for any organizational-wide plans as far as I’m concerned).

With communication plans, you’re ultimately developing and delivering messages to target audiences for a desired outcome – that is the fundamental formula. If you’re new to creating communications strategies, or want to match your approach up to an alternative approach, I’ve provided some suggestions below for creating your comprehensive communications strategy. [Read more…]

It’s Time to Get Real About Real-Time Marketing & PR

real-time marketing prWhen David Meerman Scott was kind enough to let me review his first pass at Real-Time Marketing & PR a few years ago, I remember thinking how amazing some of the stories were in the book. There were case study after case study about how powerful the consumer has become in the age of social media – and how ill-equipped most brands were to deal with issues in real-time. David has since added to the real-time discussion with his Newsjacking book, which further reinforces the need for brands to respond quickly to breaking stories or trending topics, to insert themselves into the news cycle when appropriate to earn incredible brand awareness. [Read more…]

How to Create an Editorial Calendar

Editorial CalendarMost magazines (print and online) publish an editorial calendar – a detailed summary of the cover story, feature stories or overall focus of each issue. Weeklies, dailies and quarterlies all provide an incredible amount of detail as far as a year in advance about what they plan to cover in future issues.

The editorial calendar is primarily a vehicle to help the publishing staff of these publications to sell ad space for future issues, since brands are most likely to advertise in an issue that focuses on a topic its core audiences will be most interest in. Over the years, editorial calendars for magazines have also been useful resources for clever PR professionals – useful guides to targeting PR opportunities for clients around major coverage areas. Most major PR software vendors now incorporate publication editorial calendars into their products, further simplifying the process of targeting PR opportunities based on what publications are writing about.

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Every Brand Has a Story To Tell

every brand has a story to tellOne of the first clients I worked with out of college was a toilet company. Granted the company was the largest international manufacturer of bathroom fixtures – products every house and office in the developed world has a need for. But imagine my enthusiasm as a freshly-minted PR professional, being told I would be working to secure publicity for toilets. I’ll admit, I wasn’t excited at first. Some might be discouraged by such an assignment, but I’ve always believed there’s a good story behind anything.

Maybe it was growing up in the plant business that gave me this perspective. After all, in the plant business, you take some seeds and some cow dung and turn it into something beautiful that people want to pay good money for. I think there’s a parallel behind that experience and the work I do bringing brand stories to life today. No matter how strong the smell of manure, I know I can make it flourish with just the right amount of tender loving care. [Read more…]

Where To Spend Your Marketing Budget in 2013

If you’re a lucky marketer, when you ring in the New Year on Monday night, it will also mark the start of a new budget year for you. If this describes your situation, you’ve most likely spent the last month in planning sessions – figuring out how to get the most for your marketing dollars. If you’ve got your plan fully-baked, I’m going to hope that some of the tips I provide below are already on your roadmap for 2013. If not, I hope I can persuade you to consider some new options. If you’re a procrastinator and you haven’t started to think about budget allotment for 2013, I’ve done some of the work for you below. If it were my budget, this is where I’d spend it in 2013.

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Message Mapping for Stronger Relationships

I think Lewis Caroll said it best, “If you don’t know where you’re doing, any road will get you there.” I think a lot of marketers live by this quote. They arrive at their messages when they get there. Their messaging evolves over time, but as such is incredibly inconsistent to the eyes and ears of the audience. To build any form of message retention among your target audiences, you need to be consistent across all your interactions. Everywhere your audience interacts with your brand, the message should build upon the last interaction. One approach to making sure this happens with relative predictability is to map your messages across the stages of your relationship with any particular target audience.

Say what? Every audience you interact with is made up of people. Just like your interpersonal relationships, your relationship with these people builds over time. It gets stronger or weaker based on the stimuli you bring to the table. Thing about the strongest relationships you have in your network. What are the common threads? Chances are you make a deliberate or subconscious investment in the relationship. You make an effort to get together. You regularly share information via email or social media channels. Perhaps you just remember them on their birthday. The more frequent and positive your interactions are with this person, the stronger the relationship. [Read more…]

Action, Reaction, Interaction and Transaction

I’ve been writing a lot about strategy in this series on message planning. When you enter the execution stage and start to plan your individual messages that support your strategies, it helps to think about the results and performance you plan to achieve with each message. I think it’s useful to go through the exercise of planing the ideal action, reaction, interaction or transaction you might produce in response to each message. [Read more…]

Find and Define Your Audiences

There’s an audience for anything and everything. Do you know who your audiences are? How about your most important audiences? There’s a stage in message planning that I like to fondly refer to as audience identification. I don’t know why I like to refer to it as audience identification, because it’s really the definition that’s the most important part. Rather than get caught up in semantics, let’s just focus on the two components of audience identification I find most useful. You should start your audience identification process by grouping your audiences into categories. From there, you can develop some personas that best represent subgroups of these audiences. If you’re fortunate enough to have actual data to play with, you can take things a step further and get really granular with your audience identification. I’ve summarized my perspectives on this approach below for you to think about more. For those of you that actually do audience definition for a living, please jump in and give the readers something more constructive to work with. [Read more…]

No Comment… The Worst Phrase in PR?

I can think of no two worse words in PR than “no comment.” You might as well say “guilty as charged,” because that is how that phrase is most often interpreted. The phrase “no comment” is legalistic and should have no place in the PR lexicon.

Yet, just last week, GOP presidential candidate (and former Speaker of the House) Newt Gingrich uttered these two incriminatory words in response to questions about his personal finances, which include a reported half-million dollar debt to Tiffany & Co. For a man who has been in politics for more than 30 years, he should have known better than to use “no comment.” People who use “no comment” use it because it’s what they have seen on TV and the movies; not those who have had PR pros directing their every professional move since 1978! [Read more…]

Finding Your Voices

As CEO of a software vendor actively involved in developing solutions for PR and Marketing professionals, I am in a unique position to listen to and participate in debates going on around the industry. One such debate which continues to rage is around “Influencers” and influential voices. Are they real? Do they matter? Who are they? And should marketing professionals even care?

Our answer is, “Yes, they matter – a lot.” And they always have. But unfortunately most of the “Influencer” tracking tools in the market ignore some very important ways to find these voices. And that has caused confusion in the market. [Read more…]