Was it a good year in PR? Some of the biggest news stories of 2011 show the best and the worst the industry had to offer during the past 12 months.
The CDC’s zombie apocalypse: How do you raise awareness for emergency preparedness? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a great way this year when it launched “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse.” While teaching important lessons about public health, the campaign also increased the organization’s daily page views from 3,000 to 30,000 and boosted its Twitter following overnight from 12,000 to 1.2 million followers.
Occupy Wall Street: In its earliest days, the Occupy movement was either ignored by the press or characterized as disorganized and unfocused. As the year closes, however, there are few Americans who don’t know the implied message of the simple phrase, “We are the 99 percent.” As Forbes put it in October, “Occupy Wall Street has turned itself into a well-oiled public relations machine.”
Amanda Knox: Whatever your views on American exchange student Amanda Knox, her four-year journey and eventual release from an Italian prison created one of 2011’s biggest PR success stories. As The Puget Sound Business Journal wrote, “The partnership between the Knox family and Seattle public relations specialist David Marriott illustrates the potential of a public relations campaign to shift sentiment — and possibly even influence a verdict.”
1. Bank of America: Did five bucks ever create such a ruckus as it did when Bank of America announced a monthly debit card fee? Even after the bank backed down and removed the fee, customers stayed angry.
2. Netflix: Anyone who has seen that “Come back to Netflix!” e-mail in her inbox knows that the entertainment company is still stinging from its blunders last fall. First there was the wildly unpopular price hike. Then there was the wildly unpopular apology from the CEO, which included news of the wildly unpopular spin-off of the company’s DVD business. Netflix PR had a bad year, and this guy didn’t help.
3. Penn State: Much more went wrong at Penn State than PR strategy can possibly cure, but the university has hired an agency all the same in an apparent effort to brace itself for the next phase of the scandal. That effort, however, may be too late to salvage the institution’s reputation.
Which campaigns made your naughty-and-nice list this year?
We’ve been good this year. Very good. And there are a few gifts we’d love to see in our stockings on Christmas morning. Can your elves hook us up with:
Customer references to talk to the media on behalf of every client – If you make those references articulate and always available, we’ll squeal when we open the package.
Positive analyst feedback – Validation from industry leaders is more delicious than candy canes.
Willing corporate bloggers – Who doesn’t want to wake up Christmas morning and find a blogging executive under the tree? Can she come complete with opinions on industry developments and enthusiasm for engaging with readers?
Social media devotees – We want to work with people cautious about joining the right conversations, but it would also be great to have a whole set of social media fans who love to speak the truth.
Hot product updates – It’s always fun to launch a kickin’ new solution that catches the attention of reporters, analysts and bloggers.
Welcome mats for constructive criticism – Companies that embrace critiques from industry influencers will only improve themselves and their products. Businesses that act on criticism, are confident in their products and stay industry-aware are more prepared to impress influential groups of people.
Daring dreamers – We want to play with video, infographics and other new toys in the New Year, and we’re looking for playmates eager to join in. Does that describe your business? Let’s talk after the holidays.
Coming from an accounting and finance background, my work could be stressful, boring or monotonous, but these little tokens of fun make me want to go to work in the morning.
Want a job you love? Look for these 10 perks to help brighten any work environment:
- Bring your pets to work day: This can change the whole feel of your job.
- Flex hours/telecommuting: Not only can this be beneficial for juggling personal appointments, childcare or classes, but it can increase productivity, too.
- Summer Fridays: Who doesn’t enjoy the beautiful weather and extended daylight of summertime?
- A little friendly wagering: Whether it be American Idol or the NCCA tournament, an office pool adds fun and competition to the work environment.
- Lunch and learn sessions: Workshops let guests and employees share their expertise while the staff enjoys a free lunch.
- Employee potlucks: Themed potlucks are a great way to bring the team together.
- Birthdays off: No more office celebrating each birthday with a cake and a song. Instead the company gives you the day off.
- Shout outs: Recognition for a job well done is important. This could be in the form of a posting on the “wall of fame,” a gift card, free dinner or an announcement.
- Trips: Professional development and employee retreats can often be done right at the workplace. But doesn’t training in Los Angeles, brainstorming in New Orleans, or networking in Seattle sound better?
- Humor: Laughing is the best remedy for stress on the job. Practical jokes, a joke board and someecards brighten up the office and boost morale.
A paycheck counts. That goes double for being passionate about your work. But a fun work atmosphere
is just as important for getting you out of bed every morning.
Implementing the right marketing and PR strategies and tactics
are important elements to building a successful company. Before these activities are solidified and then measured, it’s important to bring in the right clients for your business.
Lead nurturing lets you deliver relevant content
to prospective clients early in the buying process. A targeted approach to nurturing is best – it can help your company build industry experience and brand awareness, allowing you to grow quicker and remain relevant to future prospective customers.
Below are five steps to help you turn leads into clients:
- Set up “calls to action” on your website, like free downloads or kits to demonstrate industry thought leadership. Make sure you set up a way for site readers to insert their contact information.
- Analyze your best leads and heavily target them to be your customers. Talk to the companies about which you’re passionate and the ones for which you know your services could make a difference.
- Focus on immediate follow up. Show leads how quick, responsive and proactive your company is and how you want their business.
- If the leads are not ready to buy, focus on education, credibility and relationship building. It doesn’t matter how long it takes. The more committed and loyal you are to building those relationships, the more prospects will want to work with you.
- Create content that is targeted to the lead’s stage of development and interest. Not only will it show how committed you are and what you can do, it will allow you to also use that content for other clients and prospective customers in that industry.
Successful lead nurturing is a skill. If you commit to a solid lead nurturing program, you will see the results you need to grow your business.
Guest blog by Kirsten Foon, senior director of marketing at Embotics
This blog is dedicated to all you non-believers out there. You know who you are. Maybe you are a product marketer or a superstar on the sales team. Either way, you probably don’t believe that PR and marketing correlates to inbound leads for your product. Well my friends, you are wrong.
We are huge believers of PR at Embotics, and our activity with influencers and the buyer community over the years has cemented the industry’s perception of us as a market veteran with a product that works and a smart team behind the curtains. Beyond the general industry buzz from our PR and marketing efforts, we’ve seen some solid lead-gen results, as well. In an age when measurement is key, we are constantly evaluating our efforts to determine how the results match our needs as a software company selling in a crowded market.
Metis recommended the following activities to us. They resulted in hot, qualified leads almost immediately.
Guest blogging: Our chief architect has his own personal blog on Computerworld.com, which reaches more than 1.2 million readers weekly. He talks from an industry perspective about issues, challenges and trends within the cloud computing market. Leads ensue.
Product reviews: Our V-Commander 4.0 solution was featured (quite favorably) in a standalone article in Virtualization Review. Metis worked with the editors to arrange a product demo and briefing that resulted in a write-up that lauded our product, so much so that it concluded calling our product “a winner,” “intuitive,” and so feature rich that the author “can’t even begin to talk about all of its capabilities.” Of course that resulted in leads.
Product tours and customer testimonials: When we launched V-Commander 4.0, Metis got us more than 20 media and analyst briefings. One of the resulting pieces of coverage yielded eight leads and our biggest competitor spending more than an hour on our site within an hour of the article appearing.
Do you see a trend? Leads and PR go together. Metis always strives to make sure our actions make sense and drive value, and if they don’t, we shift. This has resulted in a well-rounded campaign that positions us highly in the market and drives interest to our solution. Needless to say, we are believers.
Earlier this year I attended HubSpot’s User Group Summit (HUGS2011)
in Boston. My favorite session was led by former New York Times
-Content-Preacher Rick Burnes
. His session, “Taking Content Creation to the Next Level” combined humor and innovative ideas to illustrate how blog owners can make their content shine.
The takeaways that most resonated with me was the idea that trying lots of things works well. Rick provided the five blogging food groups everyone should remember when serving readers a healthy portion of blog content.
The Try Lots of Things Diet:
1) Raisin Bran content: The basic, everyday content that you can dish out quickly
2) Spinach content: The stuff that’s good for you, even if it’s difficult to chew
3) Roasts – The valuable, time-consuming projects that leave your guests begging for more
4) Chocolate cake content – Everyone wants a second piece of this sweet treat
5) Tabasco content – Sometimes you just need a little fire on the tongue
- Declares a bold statement
- Includes lots of links
- Be prepared to defend yourself
- Don’t do too many of these as you might lose trust
Everyone needs a balanced diet, even organizational blogs. How do you create this healthy, active blogging lifestyle? MIX IT UP. Rick recommends experimenting with different blogging styles and determining what works best for your company. No matter your blogging level, it’s always a good idea to incorporate as many of the blogging food groups into your monthly calendar as possible.
In our office, there are cheers and hoots and hollers when we come across an article that makes a great point, shows honest intelligence and is not afraid to expose controversy. Technology and online editing tools make it easy to skip the hard work that goes into quality writing. It’s happening online, it’s happening in business, and it’s happening in academia. When we stop focusing on the quality of writing, we remove thinking from the process altogether. We must demand high-quality content and knowledge that will take us to the next level as students, entrepreneurs, professionals and, well, humans.
I attended a Harvard writing series lecture recently, and the general premise was the slow demise of writing in academia and how university professors can help prevent the upcoming generation from becoming increasingly lazy cheaters. Jonathan Zittrain, Harvard professor and author of The Future of the Internet -- And How to Stop It, discussed a time when there was no spell check, the rise of Mechanical Turks (where kids use outsourced writers to complete their papers for them), and the scary predictions for our future (think Soylent Green, mmk?). From where Zittrain sits, it seems the future of writing is no writing at all, but instead, copying, outsourcing or outright plagiarizing.
I got to thinking about how closely this relates to PR and journalism. Zittrain talked about the slow decline of peer review in academia. Some professions have hundreds of thousands of journals, so the editors are hungry for content and most anyone can be published (a once highly coveted accomplishment). Beyond academia, Wikipedia has become the common man’s peer review, while blogging and Internet commentary rival traditional journalism.
Professors don’t want their students to regurgitate their lectures. They want them to take what was taught, turn it upside down, shake it up and add their own research and thought. It’s every professional’s responsibility to view the Internet in the same way. It’s what gives an engineer from a small business in Silicon Valley a voice, a place to share his own knowledge on a topic that might otherwise be spoon-fed to the market.
As consumers and influencers of the media, we can choose to read what is spoon-fed to us and complain about it, or search out content that shakes things up and spurs thought.