It’s Not Just Business; It’s Personal, Too.

December 15, 2014 by

What differentiates one company from another? Services, characteristics, location? One of the top distinguishing factors is the company’s brand image. It’s not just about what the company does and what they sell; it’s about how customers view them. Some companies have customers that are so loyal they tattoo the company logo on their bodies!

If branding is so important, why is a personal brand often forgotten?

Below is a favorite quote of mine that applies not only to a company’s brand, but also personal branding.

BrandingQuote

Just like a company’s brand image, a personal brand image is not built over night. You can’t stay up all night coding a new web site, designing business cards, and reworking your resume and think that you suddenly have a brand. Like Michael Eisner said…these things are built over time.

Your brand encompasses everything about you – your skills, characteristics, personality, resume, online presence, etc. If all of those things are communicating different personalities to viewers, what does that say about you?

The two most essential things to know when starting to look at your personal brand are:

  1. You already have a personal brand
  2. You don’t get to completely determine what your personal brand is

Your brand is what other people think of you, so it’s important to put your best foot forward and make every encounter and interaction you have consistent with who you say you are. In addition to keeping that in mind, below is information I’ve collected over the last few years to help people enhance their personal brand.

 

Step 1:

Determine how you want to be viewed. When people think of you, what do you want them to think? Ask yourself some foundation questions.

  • What do you do better than anyone else?
  • What are your values?
  • What do you get complemented for the most?
  • How do you do what you do? Is it different than other people who are doing the same thing?
  • What do you want to do? What are you most passionate about?

 

Step 2:

Structuring you brand

  • Research
    • Who else has your name? What are other people with your name doing online?
  • Register your web site
  • Develop Social media platforms
    • How much time do you have to dedicate to building your social media presence? It’s better to do fewer platforms well.
    • Try to keep your URLs and user names as consistent as possible
    • Use one or two photos across all platforms

 

Step 3:

Personal branding toolkit

  • Resume
  • Business Cards
  • Social Media
  • Portfolio
  • Blog
  • Wardrobe
  • Email Address

 

Common mistakes in personal branding

  • Thinking your social media posts are protected or having more than one account per social media site
  • Posting the same thing to all platforms at the same time
  • Not updating social media accounts regularly
  • Placing greater emphasis on logos and imaging and not who you are and what you want

 

Again, your personal brand encompasses all aspects of your skills, personality, digital presence, and attitude. When looking at everything from the way you dress to the Facebook profile photo you have, do you like what it’s saying about you?

Q&A with Dr. Karen Freberg

December 9, 2014 by

Doesn’t INTEGRATE 2014 seem like yesterday? For me, one of the highlights of INTEGRATE was meeting Dr. Karen Freberg in person before PR Concepts & Strategy began in summer session. It marked the first time I’d met an IMC instructor before beginning class. Dr. Freberg is so friendly! If you haven’t met her, learn about her background here.

Continuing with the Q&A’s (read my interview with Dr. Larry Stultz), I thought I’d reach out to Dr. Freberg to get her input on Uber’s recent PR problems, what she considers the top three PR strategies, and what not to do in a press release.

Q: What role does public relations play in today’s IMC mix?

A: PR plays a huge role in today’s IMC mix. It’s a profession that continues to evolve along with the changes we are seeing in society with the technology advances, changes in consumer attitudes and expectations, as well as helping to address crisis situations.

In addition, we see PR play a stronger role in investing in the relationships between not only brands and their audiences, but with fellow professionals. PR is all about the human-to-human interaction as Brian Kramer has stated and it also focuses on the importance of storytelling and return on relationships within the community.

Q: Are there any campaigns – past or present – that you believe should receive more recognition?

A: This is a great question – there are so many to choose from!

I’d say that there are a few campaigns that have really struck out to me include the following: Chipotle and the Scarecrow Campaign, ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke Campaign, Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign, WestJet’s Christmas Campaign, and Starbucks and Tweet-A-Coffee.

All of these campaigns have unique qualities, effective brand storytelling elements, and were able to connect with their audiences with emotion, action, and build a stronger relationship with their community.

uber

How should Uber handle its recent PR disaster?

Q: How do you think the recent anti-journalist PR disaster will affect Uber moving forward?

A: I think this is an interesting case because Uber is a company that is either viewed very positively or very negatively – so it’s a polarizing brand right now because of their actions.

I do think that they are facing challenges right now with this particular issue and they need to adapt not only their PR actions and practices, but it really does come down to the internal corporate culture and leadership to really make the changes necessary. Time will tell to see if they address these concerns.

Q: What are the top three PR strategies?

A: Education is always a good measure, especially if you are looking at new technologies or creating awareness about a new initiative or product.

Another one that is good to do is engage with audiences through storytelling principles through content creation and curation measures.

Lastly, driving effective partnerships with credible third party endorsers, influencers, and opinion leaders is another one we see to be effective. However, PR strategies are the most effective if they are tailored for the company and audience in question – it’s all about connecting the dots.

Q: When writing press releases, what do we not want to do?

A: There are a lot of things not to do in a press release. Forgetting who you are targeting, making spelling and grammar mistakes, just using the press release to promote yourself, using jargon that is not familiar with your audience, and not including all of the added multimedia/social media content expected for press releases now.

Thanks to Dr. Freberg for answering my questions!

-R

Are you reporting findings or sharing insight?

December 4, 2014 by

One of the challenges in market research is sharing what you learned. Formal training and years in the field hone your survey development skills and ability to interpret what consumers are really saying in focus groups, but sharing what you learned is a fine art.

So the big question is: are you sharing findings or insight?

What’s the difference?

A finding is simply a fact – a data point, a stat, a plot on a line graph or a quote from a focus group respondent.

An insight is “a penetrating, discerning understanding that unlocks an opportunity” (source).

And insight can also …

  • be a calculated discovery
  • reveal the symbolic and emotional bond with brands
  • be something you know that you competitors do not know
  • be a mix of facts and intuition that come from a deep understanding of consumers’ hidden needs and subconscious motivations
Yarn-LIghtbulb

Market research reports should unlock opportunities, not just report the findings.

Marsha E. Williams of Harvest Research Group and formerly head of consumer insights at Viacom, organizes her thoughts this way: “Findings are often nice to know; insights should be considered need to know.  All insights are findings, but not all findings are insights” (source).

If I pretend I’m in market research for a peanut butter brand then it is nice to know that 20-somethings love peanut butter because it is their go to ingredient for a quick meal, keeps in the pantry for a long time and is affordable. What PB brand management needs to know is that peanut butter is their comfort food and fondly reminds them of childhood. That’s what ad campaigns are made of these days – not just that PB is a go-to ingredient, but that it conjures up fond memories. Understanding PB’s role as a nostalgia trigger in these 20-something lives “unlocks an opportunity” for marketers to tug at the heartstrings of the target audience.

Are you reporting the findings or unlocking opportunities?

Millennial Musings

December 2, 2014 by

I’m a millennial. That means I like to tweet my favorite brands, take selfies, and wait hours in line for the latest iPhone…

… At least, that’s how some marketers like categorize me.

Oh yeah- I’m a marketer, too. As a millennial marketer whose job requires me to market to millennials on a daily basis, what happens when the marketer “me” tries to understand the millennial consumer “me?”

hello-millennial-feature

Millennial marketers, does being a millennial help you market better to the generation?

Adweek recently posted an article about how digital advertising network Exponential has categorized millennials based on the group’s reaction to three things: the economy, globalization and social media.

While we are known to dislike generalizations about our generation, I found the 12 millennial subgroups fascinating- Personally, I identify most as a Millennial Martha.

 

Here’s the list:

  1. Boss Babes
  2. Brogrammers
  3. The Underemployed
  4. Shut Out
  5. Nostalgics
  6. Travel Enthusiasts
  7. Culinary Explorers
  8. The Exuberants
  9. The Collectors
  10. The Quarter-Life Crisis Millennial
  11. Millennial Marthas
  12. Millennial Moms

 

How will marketers categorize Gen Z into subgroups?

-R

Social Media Helps to Humanize Government

December 1, 2014 by

One of my goals in completing the IMC program is to catch up my digital knowledge to equal that of someone born in 1997. Although social media has been around for 10 years, I still consider it a new, fleeting subject, when in fact, it is very much here to stay. Social Media and Marketing is further changing my opinion of its usefulness in business. But social media has also opened up the formerly buttoned-up business of government.

Five years ago, state and federal government agencies were unsure how to be on social media without fear of losing control of the message. Today social media plays a starring role in communications strategies – especially with the 18-24 demographic. DigitalGov is a great resource for exploring how government agencies are embracing digital, including social media.

i voted

On Election Day, my Facebook and Twitter feeds were inundated with “I voted” posts. I voted too, but decided not to join the masses in declaring the deed. Maybe I should have. The USA.gov social media team launched a real-time campaign to answer voting questions and encourage people to vote. People could take #ElectionSelfies with the “I voted” sticker. The team then retweeted 70 of these selfies and thanked 100 random people for taking the time to vote according to Jessica Milcetich, Social Media and Digital Strategist on the USA.gov Outreach Team at the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).

Two years ago, when Hurricane Sandy pummeled New York, emergency management personnel relied on social media to get information to people and in a sense comfort them said Emily Rahimi, the New York City Fire Department’s social media manager in a recent interview with Emergency Management magazine.

“The hurricane really got people to understand a little bit more, at least around here, how social media can be very important in terms of communications. They had been hesitant about it because if you’re not familiar with social media, you might focus on what could go wrong with it or how it can be used improperly. But I think that really opened people’s eyes as to how we can use social media as a great tool to communicate with the public, let them know what’s going on within the department as well as how to prepare for emergencies.”

Transparency is a huge buzzword in government. Social media has provided communicators a platform to be real with people. This infographic from MPADegree.org shows just how government uses social media.

Source: MPADegree.org

Essential Productivity Apps

November 25, 2014 by

I use technology every day at work in order to increase productivity in our office. Though it assists us everyday, we use it in conjunction with face-to-face communication – not instead of face-to-face communication. Technology has streamlined our processes and allowed us to spend more time focusing on brainstorming and creativity.

Our Graphics & Marketing office has gone through many changes over the last four years.  We’ve gone from not having a graphics request form to carbon copy forms, to paper forms, and now we’re digital.  We’ve increased the number of graphic request forms by 8% and the number of projects we created by 44% in the last fiscal year alone. These apps are not solely responsible for these increases in productivity, but they have been an instrumental component.  Here are just a few of the tools we are currently utilizing in our office to help with productivity.  I should mention that we are avid iPad users and lovers!

iAnnotate: As I mentioned, we’ve gone from paper graphics forms to digital forms.  We developed a .pdf check sheet for any graphics project requested from our office.  When a client needs a project, we sit down and fill out the request form on my iPad.   Using iAnnotate, we are able to mark up the .pdf with all of the customer specifications. We do require everyone in our organization to set up a meeting prior to filling out a graphic request form. This helps us establish buy-in and makes the department feel more invested in their marketing efforts.  (This is the only app we pay for)

Downside to iAnnotate: No spell check

 

Our Graphic Request Form

Our Graphic Request Form

Trello: (I absolutely LOVE this.)  After a client and I fill out the form, I take a screenshot and upload it from my iPad into our project management system, Trello.  Each student has their own “slot” in the program and we can add “cards” that contain all of the information needed to complete the project.  We can assign the project to multiple people, pass “cards” back and forth, and upload documents and revisions to Trello.  When students have a draft for me to view they can put the card (with the draft) in my “slot” and I can make comments and return it to them.  It saves an enormous amount of time, energy, and confusion for our students.

Upside to Trello: FREE apps!

 

Our Trello Board

Our Trello Board

Evernote: I realize this has been around for a while however, I love how easy it is to use.  I no longer have to carry around notebooks or file information.  I can take notes, minutes, and photos and easily organize them in one area. You can also integrate PenUltimate with Evernote so you can write notes and incorporate them into your Evernote notebooks.

Easy Note: This is a great to-do list app.  I can write down all of the different things I need to get done and carry them with me all day.  You can setup different lists for personal, professional, departmental, etc.  It is very easy to use and keeps me very organized.

Dropbox: If you’re not using dropbox, sign up now!  It is so easy to use and allows for easy document storage and updating.  I can access files on my phone, computer, and through the website.  Plus, you get additional storage the more you share the program. We use Dropbox to pass large files back and forth between clients and our office to ensure no one is getting upset that their inbox is constantly full.

As I mentioned before, technology assists us in our daily tasks, but it doesn’t replace face-to-face communication. We still meet regularly as a staff to build relationships, brainstorm ideas, and discuss projects.  These apps are just tools to help keep us organized.  Nothing takes the place of good conversation and relationship building.

I hope you found some of these apps helpful! As I mentioned, we use a great number of apps in our office, but these are the ones that have been instrumental in our solving some of productivity and communication challenges. Feel free to share some of your favorites in the comments section!

Q&A with Dr. Larry Stultz.

November 13, 2014 by

I’ve been an IMC student for over a year now, yet the resumes of the program’s instructors still impress me. One of those who is impressive both as a professional and professor is Dr. Larry Stultz. If you haven’t already had Dr. Larry for IMC 615, I’ll let you learn more about his background here.

When I took his class, he provided me with motivating, constructive feedback that contributed to- what I believe- is one of my best projects in the program (a Quiznos campaign, for anyone wondering).

I thought it would be interesting to get Dr. Larry’s take on the direction of the ad industry and advice for students entering his class. Can you guess what his favorite ad slogan is? Read on to find out.

Q: How do you envision the decline of print and rise of digital influencing future advertising approaches?

A: The rise of digital marketing and social communications has changed advertising and public relations in very human ways. Print advertising was always about pushing products, services, and philosophies. Print designers knew how to make graphic matter yell out to us and demand attention.

Ten years ago, Joseph Jaffe urged us to “join the conversation,” and the conversation became social at first. Then, it spread into marketing platforms that we all find much more personal and satisfying than print ever was.

Digital marketing gives us affinity groups we can purposely join and/or identify with. We all feel better about pull strategies, even if we do not recognize them as purposeful, because we feel we are making our own decisions about our media consumption, as well as our goods and services consumption.

Q: In your Creative Strategy & Execution class, you ask students to select a brand that is in need of revitalization. If you were the student, what brand would you choose?

A: Were I to choose a brand for my revitalization efforts, I would first choose an industry category I am passionate about. More importantly, I would select a category that will need me in the future. Creative Strategy & Execution is all about portfolio building.

Big box stores won’t be needing me. Electronics megastores probably won’t need me, and the me-too shopping mall clothing outlets won’t either.

I would try and discover the near-future preferences a growing target market will be developing, probably an online brand or at least one with an online market. I would select one of the struggling start ups and brand them into super stardom. Then, my portfolio would serve me well upon graduation.

Q: Favorite iconic campaign slogan?

A: The most memorable campaign slogans come from my early days in the advertising business, when I think advertising tried harder.

avislogo

Hertz vs. Avis- Whose slogan wins?

I remember the early days of car rental companies. Hertz laid claim to being number one. They weren’t number one, but they said they were and we believed them. So, competitor Avis was the one that got it right. They said “We’re number two, so we have to try harder.” Their employees wore big white buttons with red type that read, “We try harder.”

Of course, the iconic Rolling Stone magazine campaign was emulated for years. How many iterations of “Perception. Reality” have we seen since the 1980s?

If we look at current advertising campaigns, my favorite has to be Southwest.com and their slogan, “If it matters to you, it matters to us.” Southwest.com has aligned itself completely with the Internet. It has a social media presence and an online reservation presence that is killing the competition, including the online travel sites. They have rebranded their planes, too, with a bold and bright new look featuring a red, yellow and blue heart. The name on the planes is not Southwest Airlines, it is Southwest.com.

How do we know a campaign slogan is great? It must feel true and transparent. It must surprise us and make us smile or nod knowingly. It must not insult us. And it must make us wish we had created it ourself.

 

Thanks to Dr. Larry for answering my questions!

-R

Engaged Employees = Brand Success

November 12, 2014 by

Employee advocacy is a critical component to any brand’s success. Employees are not only the face of a company; they ARE the company… from internal culture to consumer engagement and brand image. By turning employees into trusted brand ambassadors, companies bring their strongest assets and their most vocal internal advocates into direct contact with their customer base. Internal employee communications strategies can have a direct impact on building consumer brand loyalty. When employees love their job, it shows, and the ripple effect of that honest and organic company adoration can be greater than any pre-planned marketing campaign.

There are more and more companies out there who are ditching the top-down internal communications approach and moving to a more employee-driven engagement model. Why? Because it works on many levels! Here are a few ideas of what successful brands are doing to engage employees:

Encourage employees to help build (and live) the brand mission and company culture. Create a sense of shared ownership in the goals of the company, and focus on using employee experiences and feedback to improve products/services and customer service. Seventh Generation, a green cleaning company, included employees in both setting goals and accountability for achieving them. In 2012, a group of Seventh Generation employees came together to help simplify the company mission into four aspirational principles: Nurturing Nature, Transforming Commerce, Enhancing Health and Building Communities. The principles help to provide year-to-year goals and business plans across all company units and is used as the road map for long term company planning. The Whole Foods “Declaration of Interdependence” is a sort of creed that works in conjunction with the company mission and values – Whole Foods believes the ideal that company success is dependent upon the collective energy and intelligence of all team members. By being empowered to fulfill the organization’s mission and values in every way they can, the company builds trust but also unleashes creativity and innovation. When employees are empowered to make decisions and problem solve, they feel appreciated and valued and thus work harder. Having employees who live and breathe the brand promise will result in better consumer experiences.

Seventh Generation Aspirational Principles

Seventh Generation Aspirational Principles Created by Employees

Cheer on Volunteerism. Corporate volunteer programs drive employee engagement, help recruit younger staff and increase visibility. There is a recent trend of companies offering volunteer opportunities and incorporating those opportunities into the company mission. LUSH, Seventh Generation and New Belgium Brewing Company are only a few examples of companies who have volunteerism baked into their corporate culture – offering benefits to those employees who volunteer their time within the local community. The outdoor clothing manufacturer Patagonia has also been successful in building a loyal employee base for not only the laid-back work environment of the company, but also the emphasis the company places on social and environmental causes. Through the Patagonia Employee Internship Program, employees can take paid leave for up to one month to intern with environmental organizations around the world. How cool!

Reward good work. LUSH, a fresh handmade cosmetics company in North America spearheaded a recognition program that builds on the company philosophy of employee interaction and volunteerism. Using a program called Kudos, LUSH encourages employees to reward each other for good work. Each staff member is given 50 points a month that they can use to reward each other with. In addition, LUSH team leaders have a larger pool of points to give out so that they can reward staff for positive things that they see each day. Employees can earn points by exemplifying LUSH values or for great customer feedback, leading by example, learning skills in new areas, perfect attendance, and random acts of kindness. Once received, the employee can exchange Kudos points for chocolate bars, movie tickets, gift cards, and even a big reward: a day off with pay. The goal of the program is to encourage staff to live in LUSH core values, participate in volunteer opportunities and find ways to thank each other each day. And, it isn’t just LUSH that’s doing it… even companies like Safeway has recently jumped on board!

Encourage social interaction. Be it through external social media or an effective and engaging Intranet, employees must have the opportunity to engage with one another to build friendships that go beyond the brick and mortar business walls.

Lead through Leadership. Leadership is more than just having a written mission statement. True leaders must have a genuine commitment to team members’ happiness, excellence and transparency. It is about leading by example, not just talking the talk, but being able to walk the walk. In order to foster a culture that adopts and truly believes in the mission, the leaders must set the bar themselves.

Empowered employees can be brand advocates and industry thought leaders who can help to increase a brands positive footprint both online and off. At the end of the day, an adoring employee base isn’t just great for word-of-mouth marketing, but it’s also good for the bottom line – impacting everything from brand awareness, to the recruitment of new employees. Simply put, engaged and motivated employees translate to happy customers. Helping employees to feel equipped and motivated to support the company may be one of the most important and effective elements in building market share. They are the front lines of any brand – don’t leave them out of the loop!

Life is Like a Box of Chicken Nuggets

November 6, 2014 by

Forrest Gump was on to something when he uttered a line that would become one of the most quotable movie lines, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

box of chocolates

image source

I may not be as profound or as original as Forrest’s mama, but if I could borrow a few of her words today, I’d say, “Life is like a box of chicken nuggets. You can only eat one bite at a time.” We don’t have the patience for the whole chicken these days. We’ve become a society that consumes and digests one bite at a time – both our fried chicken and our information. We crave the instant gratification of bite-sized nuggets.

chicken nugget boxMaybe it all started when Vh1’s Pop Up Videos were revived in 2011. Those pop-ups are officially called “info nuggets.” We get our pop culture fix in BuzzFeed’s countdown lists or in a single photo on Instagram. We are suckers for a good infographic. We get our news in bite-sized pieces from The Skimm. We constantly check our Twitter feeds, which is essentially an all-you-can-eat chicken nugget buffet.

One of my biggest challenges as a market researcher is communicating the findings in a compelling story. I’ve learned to tell stories one nugget at a time – sometimes it is a 6-pack and other times it is a 12-pack, but digesting one nugget at a time ensures that the audience will be satisfied at the end of the meal presentation, and still recall what they ate for lunch.

The next time you’re staring at a mile-high data set or hours of focus group videos, be inspired by your lunch. Tell your story one nugget at a time.

Do You Agree With the Judges?

October 29, 2014 by

DVRs, Hulu Plus, and HBO Go have all made tuning into our favorite TV shows on our own time and without commercial interruptions much easier. Our favorite half-hour sitcoms are now 20 minutes and we can watch a half-hour show and an hour long show in just 60 minutes. Why sit through commercials when you can get 10-20 minutes of your life back?

Is there anything that can be done to draw viewers back to watching their favorite shows in real time? It looks like there is. A guilty pleasure TV show of mine recently introduced live polling and voting during their 12th season. Project Runway utilized second-screen interactivity to urge fans to watch the show in real time and vote for their favorite designers, ask audience members if they agree with the judges, and determine who fans thought had the strongest or the weakest design.

Circle-Thumb-DownCircle-Thumb

Many shows, including Project Runway, have tapped into second-screen interactivity by encouraging viewers to use hashtags specifically for the show, vote for contests, and select activities or challenges that would be featured on the show. America’s Next Top Model has a (not very well defined) social media score from viewers that impacts a contest’s chance of winning the contest. Chopped has special episodes in which participants have to create dishes from basket ingredients selected by show viewers, and Bones has a fan of the week that is determined via social media.

What makes me wonder about the live polling is what impact it has on the show overall. Live polling allows the producers to see what people are thinking as they watch the show. Do they like a specific designer? What would happen to the viewership if the judgers sent a specific designer home? If you’re familiar with the show you know that host Tim Gunn has a “save” in which he can bring back an eliminated designer. Live polling is a great tool to use in attempting to make decisions based on audience reactions.

What do you think? Would you base scripting decisions off of audience feelings, or do you think you would move forward with the show as planned? What else would you do what that audience information?


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