Blog posts

  • Who Said Mobile Marketing Is Just for the Younger Generations?

    It has been a common belief among many MarCom Pros that Mobile Marketing is the preferred method of reaching ONLY Gen Y and Gen X shoppers.  Conventional wisdom says Boomers are far behind the curve when it comes to mobile phone use, especially for shopping purposes.     But surprisingly, a recent <a href="http://www.localsearchinsider.org/mobile-goes-universal-new-survey-shows-older-generations-embrace-mobile-as-local-shopping-companion/archives/">study</a> by Thrive Analytics blows that theory out of the water and shows that the older generation isn’t far behind the young-uns when it comes to using mobile devices in their path-to-purchase. While 97% of Gen Y shoppers use their Smartphones in-store, a surprising 81% of Young Boomers (44-53 years old) do as well.     And when it comes to using their mobile devices in-store to “help make decisions and become better informed”, it is pretty much equal across the board -  88% Gen Y, 89% Gen X and 87% Young Boomers. What I also found interesting is that it was also pretty equal regarding “Guilt-free about browsing mobile in-store” - so much for the theory about Boomers being more technology-challenged.    If you believe these results, it means marketers need to rethink the use of mobile when marketing to Boomers.     But I’ve got to dash, just got an alert on my iPhone that the local Starbucks is offering a 20% discount on Macchiatos.
  • What Ever Happened To Journalistic Attribution?

    It used to be a “given” that if a journalist was covering a speaker or session at an event, he or she would always mention the location of the interview and the industry organization sponsoring the event.  And that’s the way it should be.   However, we have coordinated media relations for a variety of conferences recently and some of the business editors would cover the event as media and then write a nice story based on an interview they did or a session they attended. That is all fine and dandy, except for two instances where good articles were written based on attending the conference but no mention was made as to where the sessions or interviews were held!    The story just said, “during a recent interview with so-and-so” or “according to new research just revealed”… with no mention of the conference.   This is bad journalism and a bad business practice for several reasons:   <ul><li> Many readers want to know where the writer conducted the interview and/or attended a session. If journalists report on a conference session they attended or interview they conducted, the obvious question is “what session were you attending and where”? It is all part of the basic journalism Who, What, Where, When format.  </li> </ul><ul><li> It adds credibility to the journalist and their publication that they are active in their industry and attended an event where the industry experts were convening. This is more in-depth reporting than calling someone on the phone and interviewing them.  It also allows the reporter to hear things during the presentation that they can report about in the story. They can also report on the crowd reaction and any interesting question and answer sessions. </li> </ul><ul><li> The conference organizer provided the journalist with free access while all other attendees had to pay several hundred dollars to attend. It was always a given that if a reporter was covering the event they would say "during an interview at XYZ conference”. Or, the results of a new research study were revealed during the XYZ conference.” There is no value to the conference organizer if a great article appears based on content gleaned from the conference but without acknowledgment of the organizer.  </li> </ul><ul><li> It makes conference organizers wary of inviting media in the future if they know they will receive no mention of their event in the report.  </li> </ul> I had one of the writers tell me that the attribution was in the story she submitted but that her editor took it out due to space restrictions. If so, shame on the editor - find some other words to cut.   In summary, not mentioning the event in post-conference reporting breaks an unspoken bond between the organizer and journalist that “if you come, we expect you will mention the conference in your coverage.”    I know there are several journalists who read this blog - so please let me know if you don’t agree.
  • Good Things Come In All Kinds of Packages

    I just returned from the BAA Marketing Conference in Chicago where I heard some outstanding brand marketers talk about innovative and effective ways to activate a brand.  Readers of this blog may recall that a couple weeks ago I attended the ANA Brand Masters Conference in Miami - and they had some great presentations as well.   Of all the impressive content presented and lessons learned, two in particular stand out in my mind.  Several of the speakers talked about how more and more brands are focusing on connecting emotionally with customers.  There were some excellent examples, including the recent <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIEIvi2MuEk">WestJet “Christmas Miracle</a>” program and Coca Cola’s <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0n6SY_R9I9g">World Cup</a> campaign.    It’s not surprising to me that brands are putting a growing emphasis on emotionally connecting with consumers. What did pleasantly surprise me, however, was the special emphasis some brands are placing on packaging as an integral and emotional part of an integrated marketing program.  McDonald’s gave a great presentation on how they are redesigning their french fry boxes to form an emotional bond with consumers during the World Cup. You may have seen their commercials for how people can enter a contest to win tickets to the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qaH_J92PqI">World Cup.</a>   <a href="https://hello-products.com/">Hello Products</a> CEO told the audience how packaging defines the entire brand and forms an emotional connection with <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7mhOwy50tY">consumers</a>.   So, the biggest take-away from these meetings for me is that forming an emotional connection with customers to build loyalty is now the big “thing” with many brands.  And, that packaging needs to play a key role in that process.
  • Crisis Communications & the Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight

    From a PR perspective, there are two tragedies connected with the missing MH 370.   The first and foremost is, of course, that no one knows the fate of the 239 passengers. However, from a communications perspective, the other tragedy is that Malaysian government and airline officials appear not to have a Crisis Communications Plan in place. Or if they do, it isn’t a very effective plan. Imagine the emotional roller coaster the families of the missing passengers are riding every time a new report comes to light.   As most PR pros know, there are a few very basic rules of an effective Crisis Communications Program:   <ul><li> Always have a spokesperson Chain-of-Command in place so everyone automatically knows who is authorized to speak to the media and in what order. No one else should make any comments to the media and just refer them to the authorized spokesperson. Where many Crisis Communications Plans fail, especially in drawn-out situations like this, is when unauthorized people make statements to the media that may not be accurate. </li> </ul>   <ul><li> When a crisis occurs, only issue a basic statement summarizing the situation until you can gather and verify the facts.  In this case, it would have been “Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 with 239 passengers aboard is missing.  We are in the process of gathering more information and will let you know as we have more facts. ”It is also appropriate to share facts that you know for sure, such as the time it took off, the weather conditions, the last communications from the cockpit and how the passengers and crew are. There should be no speculation as to what may have happened to the plane - leave that to the media and other “experts”. </li> </ul>   <ul><li> Depending on the crisis, always try to meet early on in the crisis with the victims’ families to share what facts you have. You want them to know you care and are trying to resolve the situation.  If the families are not brought in early in the crisis, they can become very vocal detractors of your efforts and credibility.  </li> </ul>   <ul><li> There should be a process in place to check all related facts as quickly and thoroughly as possible and to internally discuss all possible scenarios.  Once you have some solid facts, those can be relayed to the media by the appropriate spokesperson as they are confirmed. For example, the pilot and co-pilot’s homes should have been checked right away and reported to the media that this was being done.  It should have also been reported that “we are in close communications with authorities in the region and as we know the facts, we will share them with you”. </li> </ul>   <ul><li> Reach out to all concerned parties and ask them to keep you appraised of any facts they discover and if possible, share them with you first. Ask them if you can deliver the news and credit them as the source.  In this case, that would mean Malaysia working with the other government officials to deliver the news.  For example, the official Malaysian spokesperson would say “We just talked with Chinese officials and they have satellite evidence that the plane changed course.”  If other governments won’t cooperate, be prepared to respond to the news by either confirming or denying that you just heard it from that source as well. </li> </ul>   There are several other elements and strategies that make up an effective Crisis Communications Program, but getting these basic elements right are the critical first steps.  Of course it is easy for us to second-guess what should have been done after the fact - but the point here is having a good Crisis Communications Plan BEFORE a crisis occurs.   Your crisis probably won’t involve a missing airplane, but there are a number of other crises no one anticipates that occur every day.  A few we have dealt with for our clients include floods, strikes, environmental challenges and suicides.   I hope you have a Crisis Communications Plan in-place, and that you’ll never have to use it.
  • Tricking Your Competitors Into Promoting Your Brand

    Have you seen the new YouTube video that shows DHL tricking its competitors into delivering huge packages promoting its brand to major metropolitan areas around the world?     It’s truly an innovative and hilarious prank whereby a marketing agency came up with the brilliant idea of using thermo active packaging that is black when frozen but reveals a message as the temperature warms up. The agency shipped several large packages through their DHL competitors to hard-to-find addresses in major cities throughout Europe that had the hidden message “DHL Is Faster”.   As UPS, Fedex, TNT and other delivery services transported the five feet tall packages through busy city intersection and the temperature got warmer, big red letters on the side of the package appeared promoting the DHL brand and its slogan “DHL Is Faster”. What could be sweeter than hundreds of consumers chuckling as a UPS delivery person wrestles a large box promoting their competitor down a busy thoroughfare.     You say that is a lot of money to pay to prank your competition and give a couple hundred people a good chuckle.  That’s true, but like many marketing strategies these days, the idea was surely to cause a buzz on social media.  And it worked!  So far, more than 600,000 people have viewed the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHVWegNfQl0">video</a> and I’m sure many of them have clicked through to the DHL website to send a package.   Although I haven’s seen any official results of the campaign, and DHL claims they had nothing to do with the prank, I’m sure it has gained them several news customers and much greater recognition for being faster than their competitors.   There is another lesson to be learned form this clever idea - and that is how powerful innovative packaging can be in growing a brand. But that is the topic of a future blog.
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