The Matchbox.

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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Aug. 24

Authenticity Matters

I bought a new car this week and, as you might expect, the experience came with some interesting dealership encounters. One thing that became abundantly clear was which Car dealershipsalespeople were interested in having a real conversation about what would motivate me to make a purchase versus trying to stick to a stilted talk-track or dodging my questions. Essentially, were they willing (and trained) to be authentic in representing their brand, dealership and products?

The importance of genuinely communicating a company’s brand within the context of the real world is paramount to gaining long term customers and market share. In fact, it’s one of the most important aspects needed for customers to place their trust in a company. Marketers who are tasked with this role have an immense opportunity to show their target audiences what they truly value and how they approach customer service across the board. You only get one shot to make a first impression.

To communicate brand authenticity you need a solid corporate identity that transcends every level of a business. Executive leadership must clearly define and communicate to all employees the company’s key focus areas and priorities, including market focus, novel business approach, customer service differentiators, corporate culture, and vision for the future, and ensure that these elements are woven throughout the core go-to-market strategy and sales approach. Without these pieces in place, customers will sense that the business is simply “treading water” without clear market direction or conviction for upholding its values.

Ultimately I purchased my car from a dealership that I had done business with in the past. They stood out because they were able to have an honest conversation about how their company could meet my requirements and ink a mutually beneficial transaction. Their approach to customer service made me feel respected. There was a no-pressure policy and well-trained staff who seemed eager to listen and respond authentically to their prospective customers. The most successful companies in any industry have embodied these best practices for years – their products and services continue to change and evolve but the role of brand authenticity in acquiring and keeping customers cannot be overstated.

 

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Jul. 29

Extending the Value of White Papers

White papers continue to be a strong marketing asset as they demonstrate thought leadership and serve as informative guides for customers and prospects. However, once the white paper is written, it must be properly promoted to reap the full benefit. Here are some tips:

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 12.13.11 PM1. Write a series of blog posts

While white paper content can be complex, a company blog is the perfect place to break down the topic via a series of posts. Include links throughout to drive readers to the full white paper to extend the mileage of your efforts.

2. Develop a contributed column

A byline article or two, drawing on specific themes from the white paper, can help expand the white paper’s reach and further covey a company’s expertise. To keep the article concise, focus on one viewpoint.

3. Create a media pitch

If the white paper includes a timely news angle, contact reporters with a brief media pitch offering the white paper as a resource along with a company spokesperson as an expert on the topic.

4. Collaborate with sales

Work closely with the sales team to make sure your white paper efforts are aligned with their needs. This might include steering content toward a particular topic or industry. Once the paper is written, ensure the sales team shares it with their list of prospects and existing customers.

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

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Jul. 17

No Bad Blood – The Power of PR Giants

This post originally appeared as a My Two Cents column in the July issue of Young & Associates’ newsletter The Spark. The full newsletter can be read here.

taylor

When Taylor Swift penned an open letter to Apple protesting their plans not to compensate artists during the 3-month free trial period of Apple Music, it was no David vs Goliath. However, what could have been a publicity nightmare for Apple turned into a huge PR boost.

How many people really took note of the coming Apple Music launch before Swift spoke out? The pre-launch anticipation for Apple Music certainly pales in comparison to the launch of a new iPhone. But the giant PR machines that have made Swift and Apple the beloved brands that they are proved their PR prowess.

Kudos to Swift for using her media influence – and her own blog as the medium – to speak for musicians of all sizes and hats off to Apple for a swift response. Apple’s very “2015” Twitter response ensured there’d be no Bad Blood when they chose not to Shake It Off and continue the Love Story.

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