Practical PR Book for Marketing Professionals & Business Owners

PR Book by Publicity QueenWe’ve been asked to write a media and PR book by one of Australia’s leading publishers, for business owners and managers that want to grow their companies’ brands and bottom-lines.

Firstly we’re very excited!

Secondly we’re taking a page out of David Meerman-Scott’s fabulous books so we’re going to get you involved in its development because we want to write a highly practical marketing and communications book especially designed for Aussie marketing managers and business owners…

Our belief is that people who are responsible for an organisation’s marketing, no matter how large or small, have a mandate to grow the company, increase its profile, engage its customers online etc etc; and are trying to achieve all of this in an increasingly complex (not to mention crowded!) media and communications landscape.

So what secrets do you want from us to help you be more dynamic?

What information and insights would help you in making your PR and communications more results-focussed and successful?

Is it how to write a media release; how to measure your PR activities; how to create a market-leading brand; how to navigate social media; how to leverage one promotional concept across multiple channels – what would help you?

You can send us your feedback by way of comment on the blog, or send us an email directly at info @ publicityqueen.com.au or ring us on 1300 PR QUEEN.  We’re committed to making this a great book so we’re looking forward to incorporating your feedback into it (and mentioning you on the acknowledgments page!)…

PR Brisbane

Yours in PR

Why Blogger Outreach Should be a Part of your PR Strategy

Blogger OutreachThe influence of bloggers is gaining ground and should not be ignored as you develop your 2013 PR strategy.

Blogger outreach, better known as the PR side of social media, involves creating, building and maintaining relationships with the most influential bloggers within your industry. These valuable interactions can help you expand your reach and build brand awareness amongst your target market. With over 1.5 million new blog posts every day and 77% of active internet users reading blogs, coverage in the blogosphere can greatly increase your potential brand exposure and drive interest for you brand. Getting coverage with one of the key influential bloggers in your industry is worth more than any Google campaign! Your product or service can achieve instant credibility that greatly contributes to brand equity. What’s even more interesting is that 66% of journalists use blogs and 48% use Twitter to assist them with research and reporting (a trend that is ever increasing).

To successfully use blogger outreach in your public relations strategy, you will first need to find the bloggers who cover your space and topics. Free tools such as Social Callout or straight Google search, can help you build and research your list.

The rules to successful blogger outreach:

  • Never Spam. Sending spam is the best way to get your email address blocked by a blogger.
  • Personalise. Always address the person you’re pitching to by name, and individually tailor your approach based on your knowledge of their blog’s content. A little acknowledgement of their hard work goes a long way.
  • Socialise. If you really want to get the writer or blogger’s attention, read their blog and leave comments as well as interacting with them on social media such as Twitter so as to build credibility, interest and longevity.
  • Build Relationships. PR professionals work hard to cultivate relationships with the media… bloggers are no different. Build relationships with various bloggers through supplying consistent and frequent high-value content and follow-through.
  • Be Professional. Professionalism goes a long way in any industry; address the person by name, show you respect their time by being concise and to the point, and never demand anything.
  • Be Responsive. Nothing can kill a pitch more than being unresponsive to their requests. When a blogger requests additional information or resources, you get it them right away. Always acknowledge the request and communicate every step of the way with them.

The success of your blogger relations program also depends upon how well you translate PR and marketing messages into stories that will resonate with your target bloggers and their readers. Unlike the news media, bloggers don’t necessarily require the story to be new; relevancy is often more important.

Finally, make a commitment to be in this for the long-haul because blogger relations are very personal and an ongoing program is more effective than a one off campaign approach.

136d5eca5dd605591de0c90c68ce88adYours in PR

Why your business’ website needs to be mobile optimised

Mobile optimisedLet’s face it: mobile web browsing is more popular than ever. In less than two years, we will access the internet more from our mobile devices than from our desktops. All around us, at any given time, someone is browsing on their Android or iPhone, tablet or any other mobile device connected to the Internet. On public transport, at cafes, in the line at the post office or in the supermarket, we are always connected.  This being the case, your business’ website needs to be mobile optimised (only one in five brands currently have mobile optimised sites).

Your customers, both current and potential are on the go, they are mobile. They want information about your company and its products/services available to them wherever they may be – and you need to provide it! If you don’t offer a mobile optimised website, your competitors will. And what’s even more alarming is that users are five times more likely to abandon the task they are trying to complete if the site isn’t optimized for mobile use; that means lost eyeball, lost sales and lost consumer advocacy! This is a big deal!

Consumers are using their mobile devices to search for products, reviews and prices, information gathering but also to shop. If your website isn’t mobile optimised, chances are you are missing out on a rather large customer base. Ever tried to read information, let alone BUY something on an un-optimised website while viewing on your iPhone? It’s not fun and I bet you gave up pretty quickly!

Not only is the layout and design for mobile important, but also the content you display to mobile viewers is paramount to their user experience! The content itself must always be directed at what a user will be looking for whilst out and about. Ask yourself what elements of your site would people be looking for when away from their computers? But never shortchange them! Make sure your mobile site displays information that is on your normal website, just cut down to the main points. And continue to display any rich media such as video.

Here are some tips to get you mobile optimised:

  • Your mobile optimised site needs to look good on any sized device. Make sure you test it out on a number of phones and tablets.
  • Think larger than life! The text, images and buttons all need to be larger than on your regular website for readers to be able to read and navigate easily without pinching and zooming.
  • Leave out any Flash animations. iPad and iPhone are not Flash enabled, and these users will not be able to view this information.
  • Customers are going onto your mobile optimised website because they want instant information. Make it easy to read, putting the most relevant information such as prices, opening hours, locations, etc in easy to find places.

People are arguably more connected to the little screen in their pocket than just about any other device so it’s time to give the consumer what they want! Make sure your site is mobile-friendly, not just in its layout but also the copy that is displayed. Be short, sharp and to the point. No one wants to stream through pages of endless (yet I’m sure exceptionally written) prose when they’re on the go! Websites that aren’t mobile-friendly annoy users and that’s just bad business.

136d5eca5dd605591de0c90c68ce88adYours in PR

Online customer behaviour

online consumer behavourOnline consumer behavior is often described as the study of trends, including the influence of online advertising, consumer willingness to click on links, the prevalence of comparison-shopping, and how this differs from a customer in a physical store.

Smart-phones, tablets and laptops have put consumers ahead of the game and it’s up to retailers and business owners to catch up and to try to understand how their customers are behaving. Before customers have even seen the product in the store (whether that is bricks and mortar or online), they have developed an impression of the product. Due to increased access to technology, the moment a consumer sees an ad, they can instantly jump online, scan a barcode, search for a review, talk to their online friends about it…the list goes on. These days a prospective consumer researches a product to decide if they will make a purchase.

So, the stimulus for a consumer to buy a product is no longer just an ad on TV, a poster on the wall, or fancy packaging. Businesses now need to be one step ahead of the consumer. They need to use online and digital resources to steer brand interaction or customer engagement in their favour.  There are now many channels to market, many platforms on which to engage potential customers.

Consumers are, on average, spending more time on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn than on email, despite the former only becoming mainstream in many markets over the last few years. The use of social media is very high and is utilised by customers to research and learn about products or services, however, social media usage does not necessarily translate into sales. Businesses need to think about how social media fits into their overall communications strategy, and not to rely on it as the only method of communication or expect instant click-throughs for increased sales.

Ways to influence online consumer behaviour:

  • Learn how consumers search for your business or product and think about all the relative searches. Do a web search for your product or service see what the most popular searches are, and create relative search terms for your company.
  • Once you understand how people are searching for you, you need to get creative! Advertise; listen to reviews and ratings and think of more ways to get your business or product promoted.
  • Research where your target market is spending their time on the internet and how they currently interact with your brand. Are they having a good experience or a bad one? Then figure out what your company can do to make the experience more favourable.
  • Get into VIDEO! The second most-used search box in the world is YouTube. Whether you use it to showcase your product or to show consumers what’s going on at the head office, start up your camera and get recording!
  • Stay up to date! You need to constantly be ahead of new consumer searches, questions and reviews. You also need to stay fresh with your advertising and video posts.

The objective for companies should be to build a seamless multi-channel experience that connects retailers with consumers and provides relevant and factual information in the search process. Online consumer behaviour is constantly changing and as more channels of interaction open up, businesses must find ways to interact and meet the needs of the online customer.

136d5eca5dd605591de0c90c68ce88adYours in PR

Social media and your reputation

Hsocial repow to safeguard your (and your company’s) reputation in the online community

With the integration of the internet in our everyday lives, new technologies and ways to connect with different groups within our society such as social media, it is easier than ever, to ruin your reputation… I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom but the saying goes “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”* These days it could take 140 characters and as little as a second!

PR professionals now have to wear a myriad of ‘hats’ to protect our clients’ reputation, drive media awareness, and build brand advocacy. More then ever, your PR company is your friend!

Tools to communicate, share and stand out in the message-cluttered market are getting cheaper and yet more powerful. With so many accessible and effective channels to market, the ability to reach your audience and have them ‘hear’ your message expands. However, there are things you need to be wary of with social media and your reputation:

  • Social media makes organisations, and public figures, much more accessible to the public. Customers can ask questions or complain about your service and or product in a public forum such as Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook and they expect a response within 24 hours – if you don’t deliver, they’ll bag you even more. Ignore them at your peril!
  • You need to ‘socially listen’ – to your online media networks and clients. Understand how they like to be spoken to and what is the etiquette of each media channel. Listen to what they are saying about you, your company or product. How can you right the wrongs or improve your business to meet their expectations?
  • Know what’s on your social networks – There have been cases where company Facebook pages have not been monitored daily – an unhappy customer or disenchanted ‘follower’ writes an inappropriate post that doesn’t get dealt with and you’ve got yourself a social media crisis!
  • Always tell the truth. A little white lie may seem like the right choice in the moment but companies and individuals are more likely to get caught out for not telling the truth. Remember, your posts, tweets, in fact any indexed content stays around for a long, long time on Google!

PR and particularly social media isn’t a one-way communication medium. It is about building relationships with customers and prospects in their media channel of choice. A reputation and credibility can be built over time but lost in a moment; so tell the truth, communicate on their level and build relationships over time.

To be successful you have to stay on top of the latest innovations, understand the new social media platforms, and be willing to change with the times; but most importantly, be trustworthy. Consumers are fickle and will not stick around if you are not in the game for the right reasons!

* Warren Buffett

136d5eca5dd605591de0c90c68ce88adYours in PR

10 Hot Consumer Trends for 2013

top trends
Increasingly it seems that technology is shaping how consumers interact with brands and is governing new patterns in how commerce takes place.

According to a new report by telecommunications giant, Ericsson, there are ten new observable trends for consumers this year that have fascinating implications for how technology is impacting on our society, with interesting fault lines emerging across age, gender and urban/regional divides.

To see this fascinating infographic in full, you can click here but for ease of reference, here are the key findings:

1. Reliance on Cloud computing reshapes computer usage: more than 50% of users preferred mobile and tablet devices and increasingly demanded the same access to all of their apps and for key data to be available across all platforms.

2. Computing for a scattered mind: rather than structuring their time and lives around technology, consumers now expect their devices to work around their lifestyle, with purchase rates for smartphones and tablets outstripping that for PCs.

3. BYO Broadband: more than half of all smartphone users now bring these devices to work, using their own broadband while in the office, and integrating their work and life data and useage.

4. Mobile coverage key to quality of life: where once a key determinant of urban happiness was measured by water pressure or TV reception, these measures have been replaced by the mobile telephone coverage strength as a yardstick of metropolitan quality of life.

5. DIY self-promotion: although in years gone by most people used recruitment agencies to find new work opportunities, these days it seems LinkedIn and Tweeting your CV are the new ways to get yourself hired.

6. Women driving on smartphone highway: women are outstripping men as the most frequent users of smartphones,  with the bulk of use centred around sending/receiving SMS and sharing photos.

7. Social networks big in the cities: city dwellers are using social networks far more than the country cousins, with most using it to either update or stay up to date with friends and family, and the remainder using it to share and exchange ideas. This finding prompts the question about whether regional and remote communities still catch up the old fashioned way – i.e. face to face or on the telephone.

8. In-line shopping: no, this is not about picking out new rollerblades. Instead, a new phenomenon has emerged where consumers are using their smartphones and tablets to purchase online while they are actually in store.  Apparently the buyer wants to visit the store to view the merchandise but then can’t be bothered queuing up to pay for it. Fascinating!

9. TV goes social: apparently watching TV is not stimulating enough, we feel the need to share while watching – users said they used social media while watching TV, and were more likely to pay for content that could be watched in a social context.

10. Learning in transformation: Younger people are bringing their technology to the learning space, at the same time that workplaces and education and training providers are finding new ways to enable mobile and home-based participation.

How is technology impacting upon your workspace? I would be interested to know your thoughts on this research, and discover if these findings ring true for you. Is technology exacerbating the divisions we have according to age, gender and location, or merely shining a light upon existing schisms?

136d5eca5dd605591de0c90c68ce88adYours in PR

Consumers Keen to Buy, Reluctant to Share

IDontWantToShare02
Last week I wrote to you about how social media provides great opportunities to learn about customers, and it seems the modern consumer is well and truly on to us, with research revealing they are increasingly distrustful of sharing personal data online.

Michael Barnett of Marketing Week wrote last week about increasing pushback by consumers, who have become wary of tactics by companies who have used the slippery slope approach of the ‘assumed opt-in’ to garner the assent of customers and their willingness to divulge personal information just in order to make a purchase.

Michael writes that new legislation drafted for consideration in the EU, if passed, will require companies to seek the explicit consent of consumers prior to seeking their information, and do away with the ‘pre-ticked box’ approach that has been prevalent up until now.

The Direct Marketing Association is concerned by this trend, and sees it – rightly – as an attack upon the future potential of online sources of direct marketing.

What has been missed here is that these increasing levels of scepticism and mistrust will potentially deliver to brands that are smart enough to capitalise upon it, a great opportunity.

While a consumer may resent wholeheartedly filling in a questionnaire just so that they can top up their broadband account or renew a magazine subscription, they would be more willing to undertake a ‘getting to know you’ exercise by a brand that they really LOVED.

For example – an enterprising jewellery store might reasonably enquire of a customer the dates of their birthdays and wedding anniversaries, with the idea of sending through their latest catalogue just in time for handy hints to be dropped about what someone might like for a present to commemorate these milestones.

Or the sellers of prestige vehicles might enquire as to a customer’s size (along with other key info) prior to despatching a shirt or cap emblazoned with the brand of purchaser by way of post-sales follow up, demonstrating a personal touch as well as providing the company with a captive marketing opportunity.

Although the legislative and regulatory framework still struggles to keep up with online advances in market research as they impact upon consumers and their personal rights, smart companies with good strategies and loyal customers will find they are still able to capture all that they need from their loyal consumers, and more!

Publicity Queen
Yours in PR

How to Use Social Media as a Sales Tool

Image

For many businesses, creating social media content is just the latest on their corporate ‘to do’ list, and while some would recognise its importance in building brand awareness, others are discovering how to turn these virtual communities into tangible sales.

Greg Moore, Managing Director of Huthwaite Asia-Pacific wrote recently that social media now provides a direct hotline straight to the consumers that by-passes the filters inherent in the media and advertising.

By focusing on the consumer, and using social media to better understand their lifestyles, preferences and tastes, companies can target their market offering to anticipate and then fill market needs without having to pay for surveys, focus groups or other forms of market testing.

So, how can we use social media to… for want of a better word… SELL, SELL, SELL!?

Research/Brand Platform: Social media channels enable sellers to understand the kind of user behaviours or opinions in a closer and quicker setting, and without the interference and inherent bias (not to mention cost) of third party input. With the advent of social media, a company can just go to Facebook or online blogs to read what consumers are saying about their products and services or observe the people coming to their websites as well as using the search engine optimisation tool to deduce the familiarity of their brand name.

Prospecting: Social media is useful for a prospecting in the marketplace to learn about the latest news and developments of your prospects businesses. This can then be used to channel your messages. For instance, if the individual prospect blogs, or posts on LinkedIn, then you can learn about what is important to them and what is likely to strike a chord when you approach them.

Building Relationships: Social media channels enable buyers to make their grievances known and sellers can learn more about their buyers’ problems and issues with the products and services and address them. This can enhance buyer confidence, help to build the relationship between the buyer and the seller, enable the seller to easily identify the needs of the target consumer and ultimately cater for these needs.

Achieving Brand Consistency: Consistency in branding and messaging is a necessary promotion any social media strategy. By continuously reaching out to buyers online and leveraging on the relationship, sellers can communicate with their customers on social media platforms and build relationships with their clients, consumers and prospects; a level of engagement that was previously unavailable.

So what’s the learning here? Social media provides your business with the opportunity to put your customer front and centre in your thinking, to study them, learn their behaviour, tastes and preferences, and use that market intel not just to market your products more effectively, but to actually develop your goods and services to fit their needs, and use the same medium to then sell to them. Genius!

How does social media feature in your market research and retail strategy? Write and let me know.

Image
Yours in PR

2013 – What Does the Future Hold?

Future Trends
As the year draws close to closing, in our minds we prepare for what the new year will bring, and given this, I thought it opportune to share what the futurists are predicting as the big new trends in consumer behaviour for our immediate future.

A report released by EuroMonitor has revealed their picks for the top 10 trends that will emerge over the next five years, and their list makes for fascinating reading.

Top 10 Trends For the Next Five Years:

1. The search for value: One of the key outcomes of the recession was that consumers reigned in spending and became much more cautious about how, when and where they shopped. With recovery slow and employment high, this thrifty mindset looks set to continue over the next five years.

2. A more cautious approach to credit: Since the start of the recession, consumers in developed markets have prioritised the need to live within their means and have tended to acquire new credit only for larger, specific purchases.

3. People power: In a new age of cautiousness and considered purchasing, consumers no longer take marketing at face value. Individuals are taking it upon themselves to carry out their own research, make their opinions known and take a more active role in product development and promotion.

4. Multicultural consumerism: Societies are becoming more multicultural as developed markets see an influx of migrant workers and foreign students, while existing ethnic populations expand. In the US, babies born to minority groups represented a majority of all births for the first time in 2012.

5. The fight against obesity: Despite the growing trend towards health and wellness, obesity rates have reached record levels and continue to grow, albeit more slowly than before. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity rates have doubled since 1980.

6. New attitudes towards growing old: As populations have aged and society has become more liberal, attitudes towards youth, middle- and old-age have changed markedly, blurring the traditionally-perceived boundaries of age-appropriate fashion and lifestyles.

7. Experience-based consumption: Since the start of recession, consumers in developed markets have focused less on conspicuous consumption and the gain of material possessions, and more on seeking out mood-boosting or even life-changing experiences.

8. The rise in social responsibility: Despite consumers having become more value-conscious since the start of the recession, there are also signs that many have become more compassionate and socially responsible.

9. The chemical backlash: As consumers worry increasingly about their health and wellness and the effects of potentially harmful chemicals found in everyday products, demand for natural ingredients in everything from packaged food to toiletries continues to grow.

10. Mobile cocooning: Consumers worldwide are becoming addicted to smart devices such as mobile phones and tablet computers as they are able to fulfill an ever growing multitude of tasks anywhere and at any time, from shopping, entertaining and networking to banking, education and GPS.

How do you feel about these trend predictions? In my own business and from personal experience I can verify the push towards creating ‘stories’, adding ‘value’, making personal connections through content, and the push towards mobile everything – news, travel, commerce, sales.  As a society, and as business cultures, we are becoming more agile, more value-oriented, more cynical, searching for meaning, and looking for authentic experiences, and this is as true in PR as in any other industry.

How do we translate these general trends into how our consumers research, plan and buy what we have to sell? That is our challenge for 2013.

Are these new trends already affecting your business? Write and let me know!

Publicity Queen
Yours in PR

Turning Loyal Customers into Brand Obsessives

obsession

There is much discussion about how to generate brand loyalty, but increasingly the new yardstick is to recruit customers who don’t just like your brand, or even love it, but are OBSESSED with it.

So, what does this look like – to have brand-obsessed consumers?  You can see it at work when Apple releases a new iteration of  i-devices, with brand disciples literally camping out the night before just to get the latest product.  Riders of Harley-Davidson motorcycles tattoo their bodies with what is essentially a corporate logo, because to them it represents more than a product – it is a statement, a lifestyle, it is key to their very identity.

So, it begs the question – how do you make that intimate connection with a customer?  How do you make them obsessed with you, in a good way?

Award-winning author and CEO of Trend Hunter, Jeremy Gutsche insists to make a powerful connection with consumers, brands must “intimately observe their customer” in order to understand them better,  to discover the right space in which to innovate.

He says the willingness to experiment and the commitment to understanding customers will yield winning results.  He encourages CEOs to ‘win like you are used to it’ and ‘lose like you enjoy it’, advocating that it is only companies who continue to experiment, create new things, have a culture that fosters creativity and are prepared to try and fail, that will be nimble enough to tap into the new generation of consumers, and to keep pace with them as their modes of researching and purchasing goods and services evolves over time.

Sounds chaotic, right? As the current economic environment is more fluid and prone to change that at any other time in our history, with the speed of change only accelerating, change is the only constant that can be depended upon, and smart brands are those that make a cultural and personal connection with their customers that can be built over time, and  is available across a broad range of opportunities for both commerce and sharing.  In short, embrace the chaos.

To see Gutsche’s video in its entirety, click here and I would love to know from you what your business does to create brand obsessives, and how you are coping with the inevitable chaos of commerce.

Publicity Queen
Yours in PR

 

 

 

 

 

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