The Matchbox.

Feb. 23

Embargoes: Still Viable, But Do Your Research First

For many journalists, embargoed news releases represent an advance preview of critical news before an announcement hits the wire. Typically, they offer reporters additional time to process the news, gather additional research, schedule interviews and write their stories to be ready to publish the day the news becomes public. While not all news announcements warrant an embargo, we utilize the approach for important corporate news and often even lengthier product announcements. However, it isn’t as easy as blasting out an embargoed release to your entire media list.

Some reporters do not honor embargoed releases because they view them as a challenge to their news writing process and prefer to cover the news once it is live. Separately, many tech media outlets and blogs will not honor embargoes as a way to avoid the competitive back and forth and habitual embargo breaking that was commonplace in the technology blog world not too long ago (See TeScreen Shot 2016-02-23 at 2.05.22 PMchCrunch’s Lyft example here).

However, there are other reporters who won’t cover an announcement if they do not receive the information in advance, proving that knowing reporters’ newsgathering and writing styles is important. This upfront work is paramount to navigating embargoes and building strong relationships with the media. Respecting those preferences will go a long way in helping your company or client achieve successful and ongoing media coverage.

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Feb. 05

Chipotle’s PR Salsa

In just a few short days, Chipotle will close its doors for a day in hopes of quelling fears by consumers that its food isn’t safe and most importantly regain lost revenue – dropped nearly 7 percent in Q1 2016 – and customer loyalty. While undoubtedly a PR move by senior execs and its advising agency and internal communications team, the food safety day announcement in mid-January – nearly a month prior to the actual closing day – was mishandled from the start. I’ve read countless articles where the media and the 24/7 news cycle was blamed for the negative press, but in truth it was the PR team and management that bungled what should have been a positive event. Headline after headline declared that Chipotle was shuttering its stores yet failed to mention just for a day. The fast food burrito giant mismanaged its communications crisis by burying the lead and then overlooking critical crisis management steps.chipotle

And here’s why: 1) Accept responsibility for the issue – and apologize. Not in the press release or any of the interviews, did the co-owners or communications leads apologize for the issue. 2) Announce all of the steps to be taken to rectify a very serious situation. While announcing a food safety employee day should be a positive, what about all the other steps involved in making Chipotle a safe and healthy place to dine? 3) Communicate quickly to get ahead of the news cycle. I appreciate that it might take a week or so to develop plans for a food safety day, but why wait nearly a month from the announcement to host it? What about the days leading up to the day – are the employees properly trained and is my burrito bowl safe to eat on February 6?

In the age where people move on to the next crisis like a dog gets sidetracked with a squirrel, a few best practices could have severely improved Chipotle’s position with its customers and its bottom line. For the record, I am still frequenting the chain and enjoying the shorter lines.

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Jan. 11

Not Your Old-School New Year’s Resolutions

While there are many traditions worth following, I’ve noticed that the practice of proclaiming New Year’s resolutions often sets people up for failure. They get overly excited about something and quickly commit before thoroughly thinking through what is actually required to deliver. Case in point, the influx into fitness gyms during the first two weeks of January, followed by a mass exodus by mid-February.

The same issue crops up in business, for example, when executives set pie-in-the-sky goals to improve on last year’s results without proper planning. That’s not to say that setting goals is a poor idea; in fact the opposite is true. However, the key lies in the execution – here are a few thoughts to consider when setting goals for the year.

— Focus on the Motivation: What is actually driving your goals? You may want to improve customer satisfaction by a certain percentage by Q2 2016, but consider evaluating your current benchmarks to determine why it needs improvement. Are there specific issues with your product, customer service reps or corporate communication processes that need addressing? Focusing on the “why” will help your team develop meaningful goals that will move the needle in driving success for the whole company.

— Don’t Go It Alone: Make sure to rally the troops before putting a stake in the ground. Securing team-wide accountability and support for a major goal is necessary for meeting all the milestones that lead up to the big results. Also take the time to clearly communicate goals internally before sharing them with external parties – this will help avoid alienating employees and give them a greater sense of team in approaching objectives.

— Plan for Follow-Through: Sure, setting goals makes people feel good, but the follow-through is often hard work. Approaching the goal-setting process with a healthy dose of realism is vital. Develop a solid plan that accounts for all steps required to move forward, including determining metrics and benchmarks that will prove you were successful when you deliver results.

Ultimately it can serve us well to set resolutions to move forward in both our personal and business lives – it helps us stay focused and organized with our eyes on the prize. And in business, the exercise works particularly well for unifying multiple individuals to collaborate toward a specific vision. Wishing our clients, friends and readers a successful 2016…and may your resolutions come to fruition!

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Dec. 22

Disconnect for a Holiday Recharge

picjumbo.com_HNCK2763As we all sprint to the proverbial finish line – to the end of the year and holidays – it is a good time for a reminder to take time to disconnect. Put the phones and devices away, forget about the To-Do lists, status updates and other social media documentation and give yourself, your family and friends the gift of being present and reconnecting. It is time to reflect on 2015, recharge and reset before the grind restarts on Jan. 4. Do these things and you won’t regret it. Plus, you will be ready to take 2016 by storm. Happy Holidays to you and yours from all of us at Young & Associates. We wish you health, happiness and much success!

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Dec. 14

Gravity Payments’ Overnight Celebrity Doesn’t Spell Success

In a story that sounded too good to be true, Dan Price, CEO of credit card processing company Gravity Payments, announced in April that he would equalize all salaries to a minimum of $70,000 a year. He also planned to cut his own $1.1 million salary. A media circus soon kicked off and Price appeared on 25+ TV shows and in mainstream news, including The Today Show and Good Morning America, speaking to the benefits of leveling employee pay.

A lawsuit filed by Price’s brotherScreen Shot 2015-12-14 at 1.16.07 PM, Gravity Payments co-founder Lucas Price, has raised the question of whether this was a true act of kindness or a ploy to gain quick celebrity status. The jury is still out, but what is clear is that due diligence wasn’t done prior to making the “groundbreaking” decision. Now the company is left trying to figure out how to implement the policy and dealing with employee and customer backlash.

Raising a cautionary tale, the Gravity Payments story spotlights the negative consequences of going too far for 15 minutes of fame.

**This post originally appeared in Y&A’s Spark Newsletter

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Nov. 17

The Value of Vertical Industry Press

Companies often strive for media placements in premier national and industry trade publications, but what about vertical market coverage?

Widening your media outreach to include key verticals can showcase specific, in-depth expertise and how your organization differentiates itself in select markets.

However, approaching vertical press often requires a different approach to grab journalists’ attention and garner ink. Following are some tips:

Address Industry Nuances
Don’t underestimate the importance of industry particulars and priorities. Take the time to go beyond generic advice by demonstrating how your insights apply directly to businesses in the specific category—for example, addressing key pain points or best practices.

Format and Timing Matters
Industry trade media often utilize different article formats, requiring a tailored approach to secure coverage. For example, some outlets do not cover breaking news or product announcements and others have specific guidelines for accepting byline pieces. Additionally, many trades require longer lead times.

Include Examples
Highlighting anecdotal examples of customers facing the issue you’re addressing in a particular industry will further credentialize your organization’s thought leaders by demonstrating the knowledge of both your core expertise as well as the industry itself.

*This post originally appeared in Y&A’s Spark Newsletter.

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Oct. 21

In Honor of “Back to the Future” Day

USAToday-BTTFI’ve seen countless articles and social posts marking the real date when Doc Brown and Marty McFly traveled 30 years to the future in Back to the Future II. Heck, USA Today even recreated the front page used in the film as part of a wrap-around supplement today. Since the film trilogy was my favorite growing up, I couldn’t resist posting one too.

From a technology perspective, the movie introduced some innovative concepts that have actually come to fruition in one way or another. Thanks to the ever-evolving community of tech start-ups and larger entities alike, things like self-service touch screens in restaurants and biometric security to access buildings (or iPhones) are now integral to mainstream business and personal life. It also showed us the concept of flying dog-walking drones through Marty’s neighborhood and another when Biff was arrested after crashing into the clocktower on his souped-up hoverboard.

Additionally, the movie eerily predicted accurate consumer preferences of the future, including society’s demand for a personalized and multi-screen experience that offers entertainment, business and personal communications abilities (remember Marty’s multi-screen office where he effectively “Facetimes” with Needles?).

The combination of these concepts has led to the real October 21, 2015 reflecting elements that also existed in the movie—including business trends like 24/7 real-time data access from anywhere and 3D modeling across a multitude of industries. While we may not yet have self-sizing clothing, the concept of “right-sizing” has clearly been applied to everything from software and consulting services to cloud computing.

I’m personally still waiting for the flying cars but can’t say I’m disappointed with the level of uncanny accuracy that the movie delivered. However, they somehow thought we’d still be using fax machines. Those, I think, we can do without.

 

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Oct. 09

3 PR Tips to Close Q4 Strong

The weather is cooling down in many parts of the country, but in many cases PR activities are heating up for organizations. A strong PR push in Q4 can help companies achieve their overall 2015 corporate and marketing objectives and end the year on a positive note. flowers-desk-office-vintage

Revisit the plan: We all get caught up in the day-to-day, but take time to review your overall 2015 PR plan. What goals have you been able to reach and where are the shortcomings? Whether it be increased thought leadership, strong brand awareness or another effort, ramp up activities as necessary to help you meet those objectives prior to the end of the year.

Measure impact: Examine specific PR deliverables and coordinating results to clearly demonstrate how the PR program has made an impact. This will help show the value of PR to your organization’s senior team. You can also make any needed adjustments to goals, targeted audiences, and tactics, as you get ready to prepare your 2016 plan.

Tune in to Reporter’s End of Year Needs: Q4 marks the period when reporters are working on end of year wrap-up stories and New Year trend articles. Make sure you are pushing out your subject matter experts to comment on these stories to create the most visibility for your organization as Q4 closes.

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Sep. 21

Facebook Frenzy: Why B2B Marketers Should Post on Facebook

Y&A on FacebookSocial media has been a PR essential for a while now but many B2B companies still overlook the influence of Facebook. Why is that? Do you think your customers don’t visit Facebook? How many times did you check Facebook yesterday? My point, exactly.

Corporate Facebook posts don’t have to be different from Twitter or LinkedIn – and I’m sure you are already posting updates there. Facebook is another valuable media channel to reach your target audiences, so extend the benefits you are already receiving through social posts on other channels.

Even if the corporate posts are mixed in among the numerous back-to-school pictures, envious vacations, fun selfies and even the plated food posts, you are reaching your audience where they likely spend a lot of their media time already. So the next time there’s an award, news article or press release, go ahead, use it as an opportunity to extend your corporate social media presence. It will be good for your brand and corporate visibility, and it could even help secure a valuable new hire, partner or client.

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Sep. 11

Where’s All The News?

It always amazes me when I go to an organization’s website and discover they don’t have a corporate newsroom when clearly they have retained a firm and are getting ink. From time to time, we’ve even heard a variety of reasons from our own clients why earned media, press releases, thought leadership and even awards can’t get a dedicated page on the website – from not enough space to too much work to no one reads it. Well, guess what, they do!

 

Whether it be prospective or current clients, partners, investors or industry influencers, an established corporate newsroom credentializes the organization and showcases current happenings and trends. In many ways, the newsroom is the living organism of the entire website as it is dynamic, cuts across many aspects of the business and gives the latest on positive ongoings.

 

So, without bogging down the website and establishing a full-time job to manage the news center, here are a few simple tips to either kickstart a Press Room or refresh your current one:

— Delineate Coverage, Bylines and Releases: If you do have enough space or website changes aren’t terribly difficult, separate earned media, press releases and even bylines into buckets. That way, visitors can easily find what they are looking for.

— Call Out Publication Titles or Earned Media: If you have just landed coverage in a significant trade publication or the Wall Street Journal, don’t let it go to waste by burying it in the newsroom. Call it out in the title of the listing and add the publication logo.

— Cross-promote on Company Blog: When you have significant news, a published byline or an award, make sure to develop a quick blog post which highlights the effort. Cross link it to the newsroom as well as the publication site.

 

If you spend the time, effort and money on garnering earned media, make sure you shout all about it!

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