Branding: Rise. Wash. And Repeat.

Branding. Every company seems to be going through a rebranding campaign. Marketing specialists can’t stop talking about brand.  I don’t want to add the plethora of inaccurate information or participate in spreading these murky perceptions of brand. I’m here to set it right. Companies that have a true grasp of brand and its positioning can embedded these key concepts into their marketing communication strategies. If implemented correctly, it can become what the women at Warschawski call a “Rinse. Wash. And Repeat” cycle.  It becomes a virtuous cycle, building brand strength over and over.

Brand Is Not Your Tagline And Brand Is Not Your Logo

Brand Is Not Your Tagline And It's Not Your Logo

This should have been tattooed on my forehead while at Warschawski. Taglines and logos are important supporting elements of your brand. Brand is the basic emotional experience that you want consumers to have each time they come in contact with your company, product, or service. Let’s take a look at service, specifically customer service. Excellent customer service is rare. Our daily encounter with businesses as customers is usually mediocre or poor. Excellent service is exceeding the customers’ expectations and giving them an experience of a lifetime. Companies are giving control to customers by creating dialogue via social media platforms. Scott Stratten, President of Un-Marketing, says,

Everyone is a marketer and everyone is marketing.


But no one talks about “meh” customer service.  By giving them an experience (or a story), customers are inclined to share their pleasant encounter with others. Remember stories are sticky. See my previous blog post Sticky Ideas Brings SUCCESS: Creating Unforgettable Advertisement Ideas that Stick for more sticky ideas.

Know. Like. Trust.

Customers believe information from people that they know, like, and trust.  By spreading their story, others might be more likely to try the company’s services for themselves. Make a mistake and there can be a brand disconnect. Your loyal customers might forgive you the first time, but companies should act as if every interaction is a first encounter. Like a first date, first impressions are crucial how people perceive your company, service, or product. However, even with the increase of companies leveraging social media as part of their integrated marketing communications campaign, the average person doesn’t believe news from social media platforms compared to other means of newsgathering mediums.

Edelman's 2011 Trust Barometer®Above is a chart from Edelman’s 2011 Trust Barometer®, the annual survey that gauges attitudes about the state of trust in business, government, NGOs and media across 23 countries. If we look closer at the numbers above, social media only accounts for 5% of first new source. Watch the short video overview on the key findings from the President and CEO, Richard Edelman.

 

Steve Rebul, Director of Insight at Digital Edelman, highlights an important point in the video below dealing with brand. Search engines are no longer just search engines but reputation engines.

 

Whether passionate customers, bloggers, or creditable media outlets establish your brand reputation, well-planned marketing communications campaigns have what I call by-product PR opportunities. These built-in public relations campaigns complement your marketing program and even further reinforce your brand in online or traditional print publications.

Rinse. Wash. And Repeat.

You have established your brand, developed a marketing program (that consistent with your brand values), and have a strong built-in public relations campaigns so now just Rinse. Wash. And Repeat. and watch your brand strength grow.

What is your favorite campaign that has illustrated the “Rinse. Wash. And Repeat” brand cycle?

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Social Media Marketing: Return of Investment or Return of ObjectiveMarketing and communication departments are getting their hands dirty with social media. The pressure to justify and measure the advantages of social media marketing is beginning to rise. Marketers often hear upper management ask that one question: What is the ROI of social media?  But the real question should be what is the return of objective?

Objectives. Objectives. Objectives.

We have seen companies jump into social media marketing because it’s THE THING. It’s not pretty.  But it’s time to start doing social media because it’s effective, not because it’s cool. Your objectives should determine what technologies to use to accomplish your marketing goals, not vice versa.

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My college professor, Dr. John Guiniven, warned his students not to jump the tactics/tools (social media) before determining their specific marketing and communication objectives. We seem to get too excited that social media is a cure-all to our marketing and communication problems. Above is the Forrester’s Four Step Approach to the Social Strategy. It’s a simple yet genius POST acronym that will help get you back on track.

ROI or ROO?

Financial metrics are just one way to evaluate social marketing programs. Social media can bring a variety of advantages to organizations, both for short and long-term success. To accurately asses the impact of their social media marketing efforts, marketers must align their objectives, metrics, targets, and strategies with a “balanced scorecard“.

Social Media Balance Scorecard

A balance scorecard brings other perspectives into focus, not solely measured on financial metrics.  Dr. Robert S. Kaplan and Dr. David P. Norton’s, The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action, is a wonderful book that explains that an effective social media marketing balanced scorecard considers metrics from four different perspectives:


  • Financial: Has revenue or profit increased or costs decreased?
  • Digital: Has the company enhanced its owned and earned digital assets?
  • Brand: Have consumer attitudes about the brand improved?
  • Risk Management: Is the organization better prepared to note and respond to attacks or problems that affect reputation?

I recently read an analogy that said direct marketing is like getting the consumer wet by directing a hose and spraying water on him or her; brand marketing is a fog that constantly envelopes the consumer and gets them damp over time. You can measure the water coming out of a hose, but how do you measure fog? To properly assess your social media marketing programs, other perspectives must be accounted for when determining short and long-term success.

Now, think about the potential success when you have a clear understanding of what your company brand is from the beginning. Talk about powerful marketing. I will go a little deeper in branding in a PR stand point in my next post. Until then, take care.

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Negative comments Brings Bad PR and ImageBlogging. There are many advantages from blogging for people, organizations, politicians, and of course businesses. Just reading a blog is beneficial. We are all critics now. The blogosphere is at sea level. No credentials or certifications here. Granted, your average Joe neighbor blogging has its advantages and disadvantages too. However, the importance behind blogging is that every voice is heard. From the CEOs of the powerful Fortune 500 companies to the stay-at-home mom (or dad) talking about issues that others want to hear.

Strategic research analysts worship this feedback. Each forum is a focus group. Each Facebook Fan Page is a corporate message board. Every sentence typed can be represented in dollar signs. It’s raw and uncensored information for people and businesses, but only if they want to listen (See my post Gut Feelings Vs. Wikinomics Mashup: The New Traditional ways of Business on how companies can harness these Intellectual Properties for a competitive edge).

But it’s even more beneficial when we participate in the conversation.   For example, let’s take a look at my mother’s recent PR fiasco. But before we do I need to fill you  in on some background information.

My mother and step dad, Dan decided to restore Santillane, an old Greek revival historic house. With plans in turning it into a special events venue and a bed and breakfast, we had a lot of work to do.

After five years, the restoration was complete. The project was a bear to say the least.

Since then, my mother runs a successful business, booking almost every weekend with an event. Before the Santillane business, my mother worked for the local public school system in Roanoke, Virginia as Director of Public Relations and Community Relations.  Jumping back into PR work for her new business different. Retirement must have stunted her growth with new technology, the new relationship, and social media basics.

Sorry mom if your reading, but you know it’s true.

Old ways of communications were gone but thank goodness that she had a son majoring corporate communications (I think that is what she would say). With a new website, Facebook Fan Page, and becoming a part of B&B networks, I thought I set her pretty well…until I GOOGLED her business.

There it was, a negative comment and review of her business. Not too high in the PageRank search results but still on the first page:

Rotten Google Juice

OH shoot. I immediately called my mom and email her the link. I checked the Santillane Fan Page to find another bad review. Is it the same person, I don’t know? But what I do know is what Jeff Jarvis said…

Your customers are your ad agency.

This might be one occurrence or maybe the overall attitude of Santillane. Let’s not take any risks because if one customer took their time to write an review Santillane in a bad light, then think of all the others that didn’t want to waste their time that might feel the same way.  On the flip side, think about the satisfied customers that probably didn’t write a review with the  “ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude. Either way, let’s start listening to become a better business.  Here are three things I try to keep in mind when dealing with negative comments:

  1. Knowing your mistakes and flaws will make our company stronger, only if you act upon them. Let your public know you are working hard to improve troubling areas.
  2. Not responding can possibly lead to more irritation to your publics. Each situation is unique.
  3. Remember, a negative comment is still feedback so don’t get caught up in the moment and respond irrationally. Kill them with kindness; catch more bees with honey than vinegar (but not over the top).

Solving Santillane’s Image and Reputation Problem

  • Let your customers do the talking. Direct past and future customers to review sites to rate your venue and services. Astroturfing isn’t the way to fix a bad online reputation.
  • Create a survey after an event has past.  Attached PDF with radio button forms are great way to get feedback and are user-friendly.
  • Show them change. It’s one thing to listen but it’s another to act AND don’t  just talk about changing. Show them change because that’s ultimately what they want to see.
  • Monitor your connecting networks with a better eye. Google your self as if you were searching for your business. What’s being said and are you a part of the conversation?

Are you wondering where your audience is online? At this very minute, someone is striking up a conversation about  your company. The real question is are you involved? Some companies have started to take note where they are mentioned and continue to build off these relationships. Continuing on Brain Solis Conversation Prism model below, social media has become a large spectrum of outlets used to reach a vast range of audiences.  Companies have jumped into this large Web of social media but have they gotten tangled up  along the way.

Brain Solis, President of Futureworks, tells us a way to maximize our  flow of information and the positive advantages of packaging together a social media release. Listen.

The connectivity through links online funnels people to read more in depth by the convenience of a click. Not only do you have information out of several platforms, but you have a way people can sift through all available information at once.  No pitch or selling here. Just the real story in the way influencers want to read it. More importantly, it can create a transparent and authentic conversation with others. Creditability shoot to the roof in social media press release. The more links in a story, the more the public begins to trust you and or company.

PR practitioners have rightly got a bad wrap for spamming the people. The spinning stops here.  Social media press release or SMPR is the way PR practitioners can clean up their wrap and start engaging your companies target markets. Here is a simple free template to download I found online by Shift Communication outlining the essentials inside a SMPR. Time to engage.

Picture Source: Ragan PR Daily

Recently, we have discussed the shift to secrecy to radical transparency. I usually think of large corporations and brands to be transparent and authentic, but what about the government. Government can be transparent and authentic?  Government has also made the transition to new social media communication. During the presidential election of 2004, Howard Dean did one right thing before his infamous “Whoo!” that destroyed his campaign. Dean was one of the first to use social media tools in the political arena to communicate to the American people. This opened a huge advantage on the blogosphere by communicating his ideas to the masses. Social media plays an important part in the realm of politics, more than we think. Below is a video that explains the how new social media has impacted politics.

 

 

Today, the use of social media outlets has become normal in politics, especially elections. President Obama has mastered the art of communicating through social media tools like Facebook, Tweeter, and his campaign blog. I mean President Obama does have the most popular Facebook profile with 5,998,801 supporters. He just might have this “social media thing” down. President Obama has brought Web 2.0 into the White House. With the nickname White House 2.0, transparency and authenticity have become key concepts to the new administration. Ellen Miller, executive director of Sunlight Foundation, discusses how government should be open and governments’ responsibility. Below are some of her suggestions about government use of social media.

 

 

This idea of a transparent and authentic government relates back to the core beliefs of the social contract, where the government and citizens have a mutual relationship to inform and education the people on issues of politics. It’s our civic duty to stay educated on political issues but government has to supply the venue to enlighten the people.

Throughout the history of corporate communications, companies have been the ones setting their agendas. With social media, the traditional top-down process of communication has been turned upside-down.  No more gatekeepers of information.  We have seen so much unfiltered, unmessaged, and spontaneous information coming directly from the people that actually run these large corporations that it’s blogging our minds.

With blogosphere flourishing, users are able to read, comment, and vote on how they feel on any topic of interest. People are more in control of company or organization openness than ever before. Tom Kelleher, author of the book Public Relations Online, says that more people are “joining the party” because it’s so easy. Blogging has truly paved to the way for businesses and people to be transparent and authentic when communicating online. 

In a study of people’s perceptions of Microsoft Developers Network (MSDN) blogging community, Barbara Miller and Tom Kelleher found that the authentic individual-style communication frequently is used in blogging. This worked for MSDN resulting in building trust, satisfaction, and commitment. Bloggers use what Barbara Miller calls a “conversational human voice“. Only conversational human voice was noticeable higher in the blog condition than in the non-blog condition, which highlights the unique value of organizational blogs to online public relations.  Blogs are computer-mediated context for conveying a “human voice” of openness, commitment, and positivity

Karen Miller Russell’s  Weblogs in Public Relations Education summarizes that even though 70% of blogs operate as private journals, social media can foster participation, openness, conversation, community, and connectivity. When users begin to participation in topics of interest, blogs can make anyone a content producer.  The connectivity of blogs increases the information-sharing process by linking more content to others blogs or sites.  Trust and credibility are established more and more with every linked source within a post. Communities build around shared interests and communication is expected to be transparent and authentic.  

We expect a blogger to be honest. We should view bloggers as if they were journalists and follow a code of ethics. For example, that after an item is posted it should never be deleted (except for editing corrections), and a public relations person should always reveal the connection to a client or employer when posting or commenting on a blog. Blogs have created a breeding ground for truth and conversation. Now individuals, corporations, and organizations have to participate, honestly. And if they don’t, we can only assume that they are hiding something.  

 

Welcome to Chris Runyon’s Blog! A hyper-focused blog on the marketing and public relations industry. But first, lets break down the meaning of these words.

marketing |ˈmärkiti ng | noun– the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.

public relations|ˈpəblik||riˈlā sh ən| plural noun -the professional maintenance of a favorable public image by a company or other organization or a famous person. The state of the relationship between the public and a company or other organization or a famous person.

Both words obviously have different meanings but are constantly being used interchangeably. When it comes to brand awareness and reputation, both words have their place in a creating a successful campaign.  I try to find a variety of marketing and PR topics to bring to light. Some of these topics are current or upcoming trends, case studies that exemplify creative and innovative tactics, and even book reviews that will add on your understanding of the marketing and public relations industry. So I invite you to dig a little deeper into my blog and comment as much as possible to become a part of the conversation. Thanks for visiting.