Public Relations – What to Expect

I try to be knowledgeable enough in all marketing aspects so I that I can at least speak knowledgeably about the things I’m managing, but also so I can’t be bamboozled.  I’ve recently taken up looking into what kinds of expectations should be set when it comes to, among other things, PR.  I know the basics, or at least what I’ve been exposed to.  I also know that there is a lot more that can be done, if money is no object.

But I did come across a very interesting read that I want to share with all of you, if you’re interested, that goes over some of the basics of a good PR program and should allow you to either be impressed with what you’re current agency might be doing for you, or force you to ask some uncomfortable questions.

In either scenario, someone should always be wondering “what else can be done?” or “what can we do better?”  As to who should be asking those questions, you or the PR agency…I’ll let you decide.

Without further ado: here are the Straight Facts about Public Relations Fees, Service.

“We recommend and use what we call an intermedia mix because regardless of whether you’re using advertising, public relations or marketing/sales support, you’re communicating. And all of your communication has one ultimate objective…to sell something (the company, a product or service) to someone…

Too often public relations activities are thought of in terms of news releases and product announcements. Both of these activities are important to the company’s programs but are relatively minor in terms of the overall efforts and plans.

Public relations and publicity go far beyond the simple news release. If public relations activities are carried out efficiently and effectively for the company there can be some dramatic results.”

So there you have it.  But, don’t just rely on one source for your information.  Here are a couple others:

How Much Does Public Relations Cost? – by Axia Public Relations

What does a Public Relations Agency Do? – by Forbes

Lastly, an article about PR measurement:

Does PR Work? 7 Ways to Measure Its Impact

Setting a Marketing Strategy

Step 1: Visualize where you want to be, and what you want to achieve – more leads, more web traffic, more eyes on the brand

Step 2: Identify the steps you need to take to get there – SEO, PPC, PR, advertising, new collateral, tradeshows

It’s really that simple.  But if it was that simple, marketing professionals wouldn’t constantly be desperately trying to explain why marketing is worth it and why more can’t always be done with less.


Back in 2013 Greg Satell wrote an online article for Forbes that talked about the 4 key principles of marketing strategy.  He noted that marketers  are constantly trying to pull customers in.  It’s no longer a features & benefits story line, and who ever has the best features wins.  These days, with all of the information at everyone’s finger tips, it’s about who has the most bang to pull in the customer and make them believe that YOUR brand is the one that will fill their void.  But you have to start somewhere, and that somewhere is point number 1 below…

Here are Greg’s tips:
1. Clarify Business Objectives – the mark of a good marketing strategy is not how many gadgets and neologisms are crammed into it, but how effectively it achieves worthy goals. Therefore, how you define your intent will have a profound impact on whether you succeed or fail.

2. Use Innovation Teams to Identify, Evaluate and Activate Emerging Opportunities – it is essential to have a team dedicated to identifying emerging opportunities, meeting with start-ups and running test-and-learn programs to evaluate their true potential. That would certainly be a nice to have…

3. Decouple Strategy and Innovation –  Strategy is fundamentally different from innovation.  As noted above, a good strategy is one that achieves specific objectives.  Innovation, however, focuses on creating something completely new and new things, unfortunately, tend to not work as well as standard solutions (at least at first).

4. Build Open Assets in the Market Place – Successful brands are becoming platforms and need to do more than just drive consumers to a purchase, they have to inspire them to participate.  That means marketers have to think less in terms of USP’s, and GRP’s and more in terms of API’s and SDK’s.

So what do you think?  Is this do-able?  Of course it always comes down to bandwidth and the general situation within your marketing department and the tasks at hand.

My personal hope for 2015 is to have fewer large projects and tasks and make sure to hit the 5-10 heavy hitters for the entire year.  That…and partnering with strategic and forward thinking partners.

P.S. For some more recent news – read about how United’s new safety video is helping turn a page in airline marketing strategy.

B2B vs. B2C, is there really a “versus?”

I currently work in a B2B industrial environment which is a tough market to market for.  Granted, our products sell in to more than just the industrial manufacturing space which does allow for a bit more flair when it comes to some of our outreach.  The tough part has always been to break through the B2B mold & make people realize that at the end of the day, a building does not buy products, actual people buy products.

When I was managing all of our social media platforms, it was very hard to not get down on myself that we didn’t have a whole heck of a lot of interaction from our fans.  It did occur to me that although Facebook & Twitter were good brand building machines, where we needed to be was LinkedIn.  With the help of our PR agency, we created three separate LinkedIn groups that allowed our top thought leaders to talk about their knowledge on various markets.  They were talking to people…not buildings.

This thought that B2B is just a disguised B2C “person” was further confirmed when I read an article in AdAge magazine that talked about the fact that the lines have become so blurred that even the biggest B2C advertising magazine thought it worth while to buy up the biggest B2B magazine.

“The move reflects the growing overlap between b-to-b and consumer strategies as both grow more focused on targeting and engaging specific customer groups…While exceptions abound, the stereotype was always that b-to-b marketing was boring. B-to-b companies did little TV advertising and spent most of their media dollars on trade publications. You had industrial companies selling boring products to other boring companies. All that anyone cared about was price and product features.

Times change. The b-to-b sector accounts for over 50% of the U.S. gross domestic product. As a category, b-to-b makes a huge contribution to the economy, job creation and innovation. Now marketers are just as likely to engage with business customers on personal channels like Facebook and blogs as we are to engage with them in trade publications.”

Here is one more article about bringing B2B marketers in to the social media world. “It would be easy for smaller to midsize B2B companies to ignore the success of the GEs and IBMs, since the pockets are deeper. But the fundamentals are the same — and the new channels to communicate are far more cost-effective today than ever before. To those B2B marketers who say social media isn’t relevant to them, how do you explain the thousands of “likes” for IBM’s Smarter Planet? It’s a matter of incorporating a variety of media into a marketing mix, understanding that people who buy toothpaste also buy industrial engines or technology solutions.”

What do you think? Is B2B merely a front to hide behind?  I’d like to take a deep sleep, pretend like there are no rules, and start fresh with a new mentality of P&S2P, products & services to people, or business to consumer.

Brand Refresh & Guidelines

I just wanted to share some quick things to keep in mind when you are planning a brand refresh/update.

Start with a Brand Analysis/Evaluation to understand where your brand stands in the eyes of your customers & distributors.  From there, you can go in to the Brand Refresh.  There are many things to keep in mind as your go through this whole process, such as:

  • Specific markets you sell in to
  • Different kinds of customers and their buying persona’s
  • Buying times and how long the buying process takes
  • What your product says about your brand!

Let’s dive in…here are some of the things you want to consider covering with your new brand guidelines.

Brand Evolution

  • Defining who we are
  • How we differentiate our brand(s)
  • Brand consistency in messages and graphics
  • Developing brand character with a clear voice

Brand Elements

  • Logos
  • Logo Placement & Positioning
  • Brand Colors
  • Correct & incorrect logo usage
  • Taglines
  • Correct & incorrect usage of imagery to depict products & solutions

Business Communication

  • Letterhead
  • Business Cards
  • Envelopes
  • Email Signatures
  • PowerPoint Presentations

Design Applications

  • Brochures & Catalogs
  • Flyers & Sales Sheets

Product Communication

  • Text Standards
  • Capitalization/Numbers/Bullets/Hyphens/Measurements/Abbreviations/Symbols/Captions/Descriptions

Visual Design Guidelines

  • Industrial Design Attributes
  • Product Badges
  • Color Specification

Future Brand Updates

  • Tradeshow Applications
  • Shirt Applications

Here are some samples of how some familiar brand logos have changed through the years.


Oh, and happy birthday to me :)



Managing a Marketing Budget

I always found it difficult to answer the question of, “are we on budget?”  The reason was, I really wasn’t sure what the budget was or how far below or above it we were.  When I was given the opportunity to become a manager I wanted to change that, as I felt like I couldn’t be the only one that felt like I couldn’t really manage my work without fully understanding the implications of it on the overall marketing budget.

So, I took the numbers, and broke them in to the categories of the types of tasks and initiatives we needed to complete during the year and posted the Excel spreadsheet to our internal portal.  I’ve asked those that are responsible for certain portions of the budget to update it regularly, i.e. on a monthly basis so we are always on top of our budgetary numbers and I can easily look in one place and tell my manager what can be cut, moved around and accomplished within the constraints of our budget.

This has allowed my direct report to feel like she really owns her portion of the marketing pie.

What are you doing to manage you marketing budget and make it easier to keep up to date?

LinkedIn for B2B

 LinkedIn for b2bI’ll admit it, I’m struggling to keep up with posting weekly updates for my two company pages.  There used to be a time when social media was eating up the majority of my day.  I could look into ROI, learn best practices, try out new things and hope to grow our web traffic and lead numbers.  These days it has become just another task on the to do list that I need to get better at managing.

We have lots of great content to share I just need to be more diligent about sharing it.  So, I was happy to see a recent article about improving your LinkedIn content strategy.  Did you know that you will soon, or might be able to already, essentially blog on your site?  Apparently this was something that was open to just the chosen few but LinkedIn is opening up the functionality to more people and companies, it seems.  Learn more about it HERE.

So what’s your trick or tip to keeping on top of social media?


Being a Helper vs. Helping & the Importance of Marketing

I recently heard on the radio that children – not kids, who are baby goats :) – respond better when they are asked to be a helper rather than being asked to help with something.  Isn’t that interesting?  It all comes back to how you market what you’re trying to sell.  If chores need an enticing proposal to get done, and when don’t they?, then trying to market something someone needs and wants in real life is equally as important. 

You can’t just build it and hope that they’ll come, you have to create an interesting and enticing marketing campaign. 

Which leads me to the newest McDonald’s coffee commercials/slogan/ads.  When I first saw the billboard encouraging people to own the coffee run, I immediately thought of the dunkin’ donuts “America Runs on Dunkin” slogan and thought to myself, “oh Mickie D’s, way to be creative.”  But when I heard the radio commercial, I initially thought about the Budweiser champions of beer commercials.  Sounds to me like McDonald’s ad agency isn’t being too creative, or are hoping to trump the other two brands by combining two effective messages.

What are your thoughts? 

A) Do you agree that marketing is an essential part of any business. 

B) Do you think you always need to create somehting from scratch or can you borrow from other success campaigns…from competing brands?

Effective Drip Campaigns

In recent months I have taken to using our new e-mail platform, Pardot, quite frequently for eblasts.

On a side note, I went to a Salesforce1Tour event this week and upon sitting in on a Pardot lecture learned that the founders actually looked all through the dictionaries of various languages for a word that had something to do with selling, as all the english words that they liked wouldn’t allow for the easy use of a domain name as they were all taken.  So upon coming across the Latvian word for “to sell,” they had a winner!  Who in the world knew!?!  From that moment on, I was hooked to the presentation and was hard pressed to not throw my hand up and yell, “I’m from Latvia!”

But…I digress…

I am now in the throes of wanting to figure out how to effectively set up a drip campaign.  Having never done it I naturally turned to google and found the following:

Four Highly Effective Drip Marketing Campaigns
Drip Marketing – Eloqua Best Practices (This talks about lead nurturing vs. Drip Campaigns)
3 Principals for Successful Drip Marketing Campaigns

Not having had much experience in this realm I can’t really add my own two cents but cannot wait to try out this form of e-marketing.

Have you done drip campaigns?  Please share your experience with them, I’d love to learn from you!

Overlooked Brand Strategies

Today I want to share an article titled, 6 Brand Strategies that Most CMO’s Fail to Execute.  The thought behind sharing it is so that all of us don’t overlook these strategies, as well as work on expanding our skills and strategies for our marketing efforts. 

*P.S. If you click on the image above, you’ll be directed to another interesting and helpful article about branding and what it means.

The Forbes article focuses on the brand in terms of how it is viewed by the consumer as well as making the brand top of mind.  What strategies are you implementing currently that are a simple copy cat of what another company in your space might be doing?  Is doing that helping or hurting YOUR brand?  The success behind some of these larger corporations lies in their creativity, and the magnitude of their marketing budget.  Even if you are a team of two or three, what can you do differently to be top of mind?  Is social media always the answer?  What about creative advertising?  Is it worth it to go outside your core group of marketing partners to see what a publication might come up with for you to test the water?

Thinking out loud aside, here are the 6 tips you’ve been waiting for.

1.  See Consumer Engagement That Others Don’t

Stop doing what everyone else is doing and be creative about how your brand engages with consumers.

2.  Establish An Identity That is Easily Relatable

A brand identity is most powerful when it evolves and its value proposition strengthens in alignment with the changing lifestyle demands of its audience.    Make things simple.  People don’t have the time to figure out what your brand is trying to solve.   Consumers want brands to be deliberate with their identity – straightforward while at the same time forward-thinking.

3.  A Lifestyle Platform that Inspires People and Communicates Hope

Brands influence lifestyle and one’s state of mind.  If your brand is not a lifestyle platform that inspires people and communicates hope, the impact and influence of your brand message will quickly begin to wane. Today’s consumer expects more from your brand – not only the message it communicates – but how it is delivered.   That is why content marketing is so important and must be flawlessly executed to be effective.

4.  Continuous Innovation with Flawless Timing and Execution

It’s no longer just about introducing new products, line extensions and/or technological advances to strengthen your UVP.    Today’s marketplace demands perfect timing and flawless execution with each new strategy you implement.  Consumers want to know that you are ready when they are.   That means your timing must be in perfect sync with your audience demands.

5.  Promote the Genuine Spirit of Giving

Brands that “share the harvest” of their success – with their audience – are the ones that sustain the best momentum.  Whether you have a few thousands, millions, or billions of dollars in sales, make it a point to show your respect and gratitude to the people and communities your brand is serving.

6.  Serve Others to Leave a Legacy

Much like leaders must lead with a legacy-driven mindset, so should their brands. As you develop your brand, what is the legacy that you are mindfully attempting to leave behind?  What is your brand known for? What is the experience and/or product association you are attempting to leave behind for your brand and what will your audience remember most about how it impacted their business or lifestyle?