Hitting the (Mark)et with no Target?

By: Donald Smith

The other day I was perusing articles when I saw one about an upstart British brewer called BrewDog, who is going to be opening its first U.S. brewery in Columbus, Ohio. What was interesting was its marketing strategy. The brewery says it avoids targeting consumers based of demographics or markets because it believes the strategy is “outdated.” Instead, it will implement a strategy where digital and social media as well as traditional public relations materials will be paramount.

“DIY Archery,” By: Instructables

While studying for my minor in marketing it was drilled into my head to always target markets via demographics. This could also be called rifle theory, because it is more effective to build a strong relationship with a specific audience rather than many weak relationships with many audiences. So, to hear this is almost blasphemous.

Although a little dated, an article from Inc. says that no one can successfully target everyone. An Op-Ed in Business News Daily also tells readers they will not be able to market successfully if their customer is everyone. Then an article from Entrepreneur advises businesses to go deeper than target market to find a niche market, which is classified as the most profitable and impactful of the target market.

Here are some tips for finding a niche market courtesy of Entrepreneur:

  • Have a consistent and clear direction for your business.
  • Execute communication that attracts the not just any client, but the right
  • Create a bolstering amount of reference in an area to give you a position as the authority.
  • Implement a pricing model based on the value you create for the client.
  • Lastly, create an impactful relationship with every client.

However, BrewDog is doing something right to have grown from two staffers to 850 staffers operating 44 bars around the globe, not to mention having its products sold in 55 countries since 2007. We will have to keep an eye and see what where it goes from here.

Snap it or Pass it?

Snap it or Pass it?

 

By: Donald Smith

 

I was browsing the Internet and stumbled across an article talking about the success Dunkin Donuts was having on a social media application called Snapchat. This started to make me think about how many companies have not yet fully adopted Snapchat into their public relations campaigns. Then I started to wonder if Snapchat would actually be a viable option for most companies.

“Snapchat Ghost,” by Snapchat

The answer I have come to is a bit mixed. This is because of two reasons. It would be a viable tactic because it allows for a more personal experience with its use of pictures and videos, it incorporated the personable characteristics that made Vine and Instagram so popular. Kelly Bennet said it best in an article for PR News, “It’s one of the few social media platforms that encourages the sharing of one’s unfiltered life. Snapchat humanizes your brand and offers a great opportunity to show your company’s culture.” This humanization encourages relationship building among your company’s publics.

 

However, the reason Snapchat may not be as viable as it seems is that its user base is still fairly narrow. In the same article Bennet shows that 71 percent of Snapchat’s users are under 34 years old. So unless your publics are with those in college, or at least around college ages, then Snapchat might not be a tactic you wish to pursue.

 

Something else that somewhat bothers me about it being a tactic is what I saw in a Social PR Chat article. In it Lisa Buyer wrote, “Snapchat is the here and now. Snapped and done. Here today and gone tomorrow.” I have mixed feelings about this statement because I feel that in PR we are supposed to build long-standing relationships and deliver messages that stay with people, not deliver messages that are here today and forgotten tomorrow. Although I do understand we live in a fast and fleeting society where virtual messages live for a split second before the next tweet is posted or status updated taking place of the previous one.

 

So, before you decide to make Snapchat a part of your company’s communication plan take a look at a few of these materials. There is a Snapchat cheat sheet from Cision; Snapchat tips from IBM; and Snapchat tips from Crenshaw Communications.

Social media determining the election?

Social media determining the election?

By: Donald Smith

11/17/16

 

This week there was an article written on NPR’s website saying how fake news on Facebook could have been a deciding factor in President-elect Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton this past election. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, is currently denying the possibility of Facebook’s ability to influence the election one way or the other. Although this claim is getting increasingly difficult as even Trump said on CBS’ 60 Minutes that Facebook and social media were key factors in his victory.

“The White House,” By @WhiteHouse

So, how does this impact governmental public relations? It will make them have to create a team specifically for social media. The reason is because this election cycle was only a preview for what is going to come in a few more cycles.

Going back to 2012, there was a study published showing Facebook feeds having a significant impact on the electorate’s voting patterns. The finding indicated certain messages increased voter turnout approximately by 340,000 votes. Then in 2015 research from Ipsos MORI showed the potential impact social media would have on those between the ages of 18 to 24 years old. In the research they found more than a third of 18 to 24 year olds responded that reading information on social media would influence their vote choice. Lastly, another study found that 41 percent of those between the ages of 15 and 25 participated in some kind of political activity online. Some examples of this would be sharing political videos or tweeting about political happenings.

Here is the kicker. According to an article on Pew Research Millennials, who were 18 to 34 years old as of 2015, outnumber the previous largest generation the Baby Boomers, who were 51 to 69 years old in 2015. From the data stated earlier it would seem social media is the way to Millennials, the generation who will start to lead the electorate within a few election cycles.

Thus, we could see social media being the leader in governmental public relations campaigns, not traditional media, in the near future. Hope your politician already has a Twitter handle.

Did relationships matter?

By: Donald Smith

11/10/16

 

This election has been the one to break all molds and previous held theories for politics possible. The one I find myself mulling over the most though pertains to my future career, public relations.

In this election President-elect Donald Trump went through his campaign slashing

“Handshake,” by Telegraph

through anyone in his way. This list included celebrities who spoke out against him, his fellow Republican president nominees during the primaries, Democrat president
nominees, the media and many others. Here is a list New York Times made compiling all of the people, places and things Trump’s campaign insulted through Twitter. Along with his Twitter campaigning were PR catastrophes such as the feud with former Miss America Alicia Machado, when he appeared to mock reporter Serge Kovaleski who is diagnosed with arthrogryposis, or the latest video on his “locker room” talk about grabbing women.

Now, I am not here to bash Trump, although it may appear so. The reason I bring this up is because relationships are important for candidates running for elections, especially presidential elections. They are what help secure funding and votes. However, because of Trump’s list of trips and spills he caused alienation among Republican, women, minority and LGBQT voters. The alienation shows how Trump lost many relationships throughout his campaign. Yet, he still won, by a fairly large margin as well; 290 electoral votes compared to Clinton’s 228.

So, I am left wondering if public relations and relationships mattered in this campaign. Turns out they were essential, but in a strange mix of modern and classic ways. The classic aspect is we are going back to Phineas T. Barnum’s definition of public relations where any publicity is good publicity. Then the modern aspect is the use of Twitter and social-media’s impact on public perception.

Two months after Trump announced his campaign for presidency in August 2015 New York Times released an article showing his Twitter numbers. He had been mentioned in 6.3 million conversations, which was eight times as many as any other Republican candidate and three times as many as the Democratic candidates. Then he was retweeted more than twice as often as Clinton and 13 times more often than Jeb Bush. His Twitter account had 4.36 million followers. Then by October 2016 his Twitter account had 12.2 million followers, almost tripling in size.

Next, because social-media almost simulates an one-on-one conversation with those one follows, including celebrities who are usually thought to be far out of societal reach, it creates a feeling of intimacy with said people. This is where Trump excelled. Instead of trying to create a loose relationship with most Americans he created an intimate relationship with a strong core of Americans. And continued to increase this audience by creating a stir with his PR controversies to draw people’s attention. As stated earlier, any publicity is good publicity in this election.

Therefore, I reach the conclusion that not all relationships matter. At least not in this election. Then again this is the one election to flip all conventional beliefs on their head. The only way to tell would be to study elections with outcomes similar to this one.

 

 

 

 

Too much enthusiasm?

By: Donald Smith

11/3/16

 

A main objective of public relations material is to get your target publics excited about your company’s news. However, is it possible to be too excited and use too many exclamation points? It would seem other PR professionals say yes.

Exclamation points are generally used to communicate excitement and joy. But an

“Use Me Properly,” Grammarly

important note to remember is not every piece of communication calls for excitement. For example, a reminder about a networking mixer, which is held monthly is run-of-the-mill news and is not bringing any innovative knowledge. Therefore, it is not something to constantly bring excitement to, unless there is a novel aspect brought to it.

In a Business Insider article it was stated that in early March the United Kingdom’s Department of Education set new guidelines for exclamation points in its national standardized tests. The new guidelines are students will only be given credit when using exclamation points in certain sentences such as those beginning with “what” and “how.”

PR professionals’ views are similar to the UK’s in that we need to curb our usage of exclamation points to increase its effectiveness, as well as the professionalism of certain PR materials such as the press release.

Vertical Response’s blog says press releases are a formal company announcement and require professionalism of the highest degree. It compares press releases to accredited and renowned publications such as Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg Businessweek. Then says how one would not find an arbitrary exclamation point in them, so why put one inside a company’s press release.

Then in Hughes PR’s blog it gives a couple of measures to determine whether or not an exclamation point is appropriate. Several measures are: is the message exciting to the target audience; is the message emotional; is the message surprising; is the style of the communication causal or formal; and what is the personality and voice of the organization?

Lastly, a PR Daily article gives another six guidelines to using exclamation points.

  • Use sparingly to ensure effective when used.
  • One is enough, using three does not make it more urgent.
  • Do not combine it with other punctuation marks, like question marks.
  • Consider the context and the purpose of the communication.
  • Use if you are being personal.
  • Show your enthusiasm, if it is sincere.

Now, get out there and make those exclamation points more effective!

Where is the interest for Pinterest?

 

By: Donald Smith

10/27/16

Last week my PR communication professor brought up Pinterest while we were discussing potential strategies and tactics. Then I started thinking about how many times I have seen Pinterest on companies’ websites. After processing my thoughts I found I rarely see the social network. So, I began some light research on how useful of a communication tool it could be.

The answer… it could be a critical communication tool. Why are there not more companies on there? Granted the market is narrow, but we will get into everything in due time.

First, a Cision article found Pinterest ranked second among social networks in traffic referrals, second only to Facebook. Also, from the years 2011 to 2014 Pinterest and Facebook were the only two platforms to have growth all three years (Conlin, 2015). Another reason it is an effective tool is because it can host a multitude of content without the risk of overwhelming companies’ audiences. This is because the audience chooses what content they want to receive, which also gives companies’ content a longer shelf life. Some say half of the visits a pin receives occur after three months.

“Social Media,” by Cision

Next, although it is growing and can be useful, as stated earlier, the demographic who uses Pinterest is still narrow. An article from PRSay gives specific demographics on the app’s users. As of June 2014 the app had more than 70 million users, but 81 percent of the estimated 40 million monthly users in the US were female. Also, mothers share three times more than the average users (Snyder, 2015). Cision also had an article describing some of the demographics. The majority of daily active pinners are under 40 years old, but the median user is 40 years old. Another discovery was half of its users make $50,000 or greater per year. Also, Millennials use it as much as they use Instagram. As for categories the most pinned and browsed categories are Food & Drink, DIY & Crafts and Home Décor (Dougherty, 2015).

I list all of these demographics as a “heads up” because you need to know if your target market demographics are going to match up with those of the users.

Now, to give some tips on how to maximize the effect Pinterest will have as a communication tool in a companies’ strategic plan. These come from an article written in PR Daily by Gini Dietrich.

  • Think visually first
    • If the story cannot be told visually, then this is not where you need to be spending your time. I know this is harsh, but it is reality.
  • Avoid obvious sales promotion
    • Do not only have boards where you promote products you sell. Try and balance out your promotions with inspirational quotes or other activities.
  • Pin interesting happenings occurring in your industry.
    • Is something novel or rare occurring in your industry? If so then let people know.
  • Use visuals from events, publicity stunts and news conferences
    • There are plenty of images that can tell stories from events like these, make sure you use them.
  • Do not forget about videos
    • Yes, most of the content is still-images, but videos are even more engaging. So, use it, and most people still do not know you can pin videos.
  • Put the “pin it” button on all Web properties
    • Never let a “pinable” moment pass by you by putting the “pin it” button always in clickable reach. The toolbar is an effective spot for it.
  • Share articles, blog posts and stories
    • Do not be afraid of a little self-promotion. It also will help the person who wrote the piece get some exposure.
  • Share best practices
    • Help people by giving some solid advice. These could be the inspirational quote posts you need to balance out the other promotions.
  • Pin and re-pin pins from key journalists
    • By helping them get some traffic you could be starting a fruitful relationship.
  • Take advantage of trade shows and conferences
    • Same reason for using events, publicity stunts and news conferences.
  • Make descriptions with SEO in mind
    • Nobody searches for the phrase, “Simply beautiful.” So, do not describe it as such. Instead, say what the product in the image is (i.e. nail polish, decorating tools, etc.)

Thus, before getting into Pinterest make sure your companies’ story can be told visually, and the audience is a viable one.

Is going viral worth it?

By: Donald Smith

10/20/16

Over the past couple of months Donald Trump’s campaign has been vigorously active with its twitter campaign. Along with its tweets came its “unique” personality. In some of its tweets it used companies such as Tic Tac and Skittles as examples and both companies responded via Twitter.

“Viral Message,” by 5WPR

Now, with social media the whole world is watching, and more than likely you only get one chance to address a situation. This one chance is crucial because one could use it to gain a large amount of notoriety and gain exposure for the brand for free, which is great from a PR standpoint. People have started to label this occurrence as “breaking the internet.”

The phrase was first coined in 2014 by Kim Kardashian and Paper when the two published Kardashian’s nude photos in the magazine with the hashtag #BreakTheInternet. These photos caused a catastrophic uproar across all social media platforms gaining Paper large increases in followers across all platforms such as Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram. However, this stunt did garner some backlash to both Kardashian and Paper. As seen in this Fox News article, many other celebrities were not fans of her photos and let her know.

Back to Tic Tac and Skittles, both had an opportunity to turn their occurrences into potential PR stunts and “break the internet.” However, neither did and decided to calmly address Trump’s campaign comments as positions they did not endorse. This action was well received and praised by PR professionals.

This brings to question whether or not going viral is a worthwhile tactic for future PR campaigns. According to Public Relations Society of America’s article it is not. This is because there is no way to control how much attention the stunt would receive, therefore making it unreliable. A better option would be to disperse content across multiple platforms so it reaches distinct target audiences and creates a ripple effect that will continue the connection and engagement of the content.

In the end do not try and force viral content. If the opportunity arises only go viral if it is not out of the company’s culture. Otherwise back away and keep up the ripple. As they say, “Even the tiniest ripple may become a tidal wave.”