As we all sprint to the proverbial finish line â€“ to the end of the year and holidays â€“ 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 wonâ€™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!
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 Priceâ€™s brother, 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 wasnâ€™t done prior to making the â€śgroundbreakingâ€ť 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
Companies often strive for media placements in premier national and industry trade publications, but what about vertical market coverage?
Widening yourÂ media outreachÂ 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 journalistsâ€™ attention and garner ink. Following are some tips:
Address Industry Nuances
Donâ€™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 categoryâ€”forÂ 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 haveÂ specific guidelines for accepting byline pieces. Additionally, many trades require longer lead times.
Highlighting anecdotal examples of customers facing the issue youâ€™re addressing in a particular industry will further credentialize your organizationâ€™s thought leaders by demonstrating the knowledge of both yourÂ core expertise as well as the industry itself.
*This post originally appeared in Y&Aâ€™s Spark Newsletter.
Iâ€™ve seen countless articles and social posts marking the real date when Doc Brown and Marty McFly traveled 30 years to the future inÂ Back to the Future II.Â Heck,Â USA TodayÂ even recreated the front pageÂ used in the film as part of a wrap-around supplement today. Since the film trilogy was my favorite growingÂ up, I couldnâ€™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 buildingsÂ (or iPhones) are now integral to mainstream business and personal life. It also showed us the concept of flying dog-walking drones through Martyâ€™sÂ 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 societyâ€™s demand for a personalized and multi-screenÂ experience that offers entertainment, business and personal communications abilities (remember Martyâ€™s multi-screen office where he effectivelyÂ â€śFacetimesâ€ť with Needles?).
The combination of these concepts has led to the real October 21, 2015 reflecting elements that also existed in the movieâ€”including business trends like 24/7Â 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.
Iâ€™m personally still waiting for the flying cars but canâ€™t say Iâ€™m disappointed with the level of uncanny accuracy that the movie delivered. However, theyÂ somehow thought weâ€™d still be using fax machines. Those, I think, we can do without.
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.Â
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 organizationâ€™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 Reporterâ€™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.
It always amazes me when I go to an organizationâ€™s website and discover they donâ€™t have a corporate newsroom when clearly they have retained a firm and are getting ink. From time to time, weâ€™ve even heard a variety of reasons from our own clients why earned media, press releases, thought leadership and even awards canâ€™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:
â€” 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.
â€” 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.
â€” 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!
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 whichÂ salespeople 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.
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:
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 paperâ€™s reach and further covey a companyâ€™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&Aâ€™s Spark Newsletter
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.
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 â€“ and her own blog as the medium â€“ to speak for musicians of all sizes and hats off to Apple for a swift response. Appleâ€™s very â€ś2015â€ť Twitter response ensured thereâ€™d be no Bad Blood when they chose not to Shake It Off and continue the Love Story.