Planning for Success: 14 Top PR and Integrated Marketing Communications Trends for 2014

Planning for Success: 14 Top PR and Integrated Marketing Communications Trends for 2014.

Planning for Success: 14 Top PR and Integrated Marketing Communications Trends for 2014

Image of Planning for Success: 14 Top PR and Integrated Marketing Communications Trends for 2014By Kenneth Kracmer, Managing Partner and PR Director, HCK2 Partners

It’s hard to believe that 2013 came and went so quickly. Fortunately, consensus is that it was a pretty good year for communications and marketing professionals alike. Looking back at 2013, most of the 13 trends we anticipated came to fruition. There is definitely a return to strategic planning geared toward identifying integrated campaigns that possess clear calls to action and measurable results.

Those of us who lived through 2008, and the years that immediately followed under the economic downturn, know the impact it had on the marketing communications industry, clients, corporations, agencies and hiring. Anyone responsible for hiring in 2013 knows PR and marketing professionals are once again very much in demand (also a top prediction made on last year’s list).

As a result of this momentum fueled by growth and optimism, there is no shortage of trends to anticipate for 2014, which is convenient since this list increases by one additional prediction each year—barring any major negative event or market correction, we should be happy this time next year.

Without the benefit of a dramatic drumroll, here’s a breakdown of the 14 marketing trends to watch for in 2014:

  1. Finding the right marketing mix remains an art, not a science. Now that Integrated Marketing Communications strategies appear to be here to stay (for a while), it is important to determine just how much emphasis to place on each element since resources and budgets are still finite.
  1. Communications and marketing pros are going retro and reinstituting increased number of email campaigns.For a number of years, the use of email declined, but many are rediscovering the value of direct contact and a clear call to action that is not always achieved through advertising or social media campaigns. Note to readers, email campaigns are only as good as the list you have, so create, update and maintain good databases.
  1. A clear, consistent, concise, customized content strategy is vital to success. Positioned as the foundation and building block of any successful integrated campaign, it is necessary to review and refresh key messaging on an annual basis. Dynamic content will need to be tailored to reach and engage target audiences, and timing will be equally important.
  1. Social media is here to stay but continues to evolve. Social media pros were among the hardest candidates to identify and hire in 2013. We don’t expect that to change for another year or two. Avoid jumping on bandwagons. Just because competitors are doing it, does not mean it is the best use of time and resources for your client or company. Determine who your target audiences are and then identify the best channels for engagement.
  1. Identify and interview candidates before you need them. For the first time in many years, demand for talent is so high that some undergrads have jobs secured before they actually graduate. There was a recent article that resulted from a poll, indicating that PR jobs would grow by 23 percent, while journalism jobs continue to decrease.
  1. If you did not overhaul your website in 2013, this is probably the year to do it. SEO strategies have evolved and there are better tools for managing content strategies that keep your site fresh, relevant and engaging. A content management system or CMS-based site might cost more initially, but it will pay off in the long run.
  1. Mobility solutions continue to gain momentum. Smart phones are ubiquitous and tablets are this year’s hottest holiday gift. Digital media is here to stay so adapt and optimize your strategy accordingly.
  1. The transition from traditional print to digital collateral will continue to accelerate. While there are still a few vertical industries that still rely heavily on print collateral, most marketers recognize the value and efficiency of digital materials which can still be printed on demand when necessary.
  1. Client case studies and testimonials will only increase in value for your business. While it still remains a challenge to secure permission to use client references and endorsements in sales, marketing and PR materials, it is worth the time and effort, given the value and credibility that comes with third-party validation for your client or company.
  1. Internet advertising campaigns and strategies will become a more significant portion of the marketing mix.Experts predict that Internet advertising will comprise nearly 25 percent of the entire ad market by 2015.
  1. If you haven’t already done so, check out the statistics on the impact visual marketing has when combined with a content strategy. Consider leveraging infographics or custom charts to summarize and reinforce your content.
  1. As a marketing tool, video is here to stay… at least for a while. Given the appeal, communicators are seeking new, creative ways to integrate video into content strategies and campaigns. Consider that each month more than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube and more than 6 billion hours of video are watched there. That’s almost an hour for each person on Earth, which is up more than 50 percent from last year.
  1. For PR pros, revisit your media pitching strategies. In 2013, there were continued cuts in newsrooms while the number of total publications actually grew due to an increase in the number of digital media outlets. Basically, you have more opportunities to reach audiences more directly but you don’t have the luxury of time and interest from your media targets – make every pitch count.
  1. Networking is more valuable than ever. Online tools, such as LinkedIn, allow you to efficiently and effectively determine the targets that will help you grow personally and professionally, but it still helps to have a personal touch. Reach out often and expand your sphere of influence with the movers and shakers in your business community. It’s easier than you think.

Clearly, there is much to consider as you plan for success in 2014. If it was easy, everyone would do it.

As always, I love hearing feedback in the comments section about your predications and what you’re doing to prepare for them in your specific industry.

 About the Author:Kenneth Kracmer has more than 20 years of combined agency and corporate communications experience spanning industries, including banking, energy, information technology, healthcare, financial services, direct selling and telecommunications. Kenneth’s management portfolio includes Trend Micro, The Dallas Morning News, Texas Instruments, American Airlines, Sabre, MaryKay and HP Enterprise Services (formerly EDS). His bio: http://hck2.com/about-us/the-crew/kenneth-kracmer 

30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

As Maria Robinson once said, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” Nothing could be closer to the truth. But before you can begin this process of transformation you have to stop doing the things that have been holding you back.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Stop spending time with the wrong people. – Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you. If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make room for you. You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot. Never, ever insist yourself to someone who continuously overlooks your worth. And remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst that are your true friends.

The Consequences Of Not Delivering On Time. UPS & FEDEX Have A Lot To Ponder.

The Consequences Of Not Delivering On Time. UPS & FEDEX Have A Lot To Ponder..

Image of The Consequences Of Not Delivering On Time. UPS & FEDEX Have A Lot To Ponder. By David E. Johnson, CEO, Strategic Vision, LLC

No company wants to be portrayed as the ‘Grinch who stole Christmas’, especially in this age of social media and the 24/7 news cycle.  Yet United Parcel Service (UPS) and FedEx are both in that position having failed to deliver Christmas presents before the big day.  Both are being pummeled on social media which is once again driving the narrative of the story with UPS taking the brunt of the hits.  This story is getting more play because of social media and the Christmas component with many irate customers having taken to Facebook and Twitter on Christmas to voice their outrage at having paid for express shipping only for the presents not to arrive.  Add to it that this is the slow holiday news cycle and you have the perfect media crisis.

Neither of the two shipping giants are faring well in media coverage over this crisis or with postings on social media, especially as a day after the Christmas holiday many presents are still undelivered.   While some bad coverage and social media hits are to be expected, some of the wounds the companies are suffering are self-inflicted and serve as object lessons of what to avoid.  Among the lessons to remember from this crisis:

1.  Always have a way for the media to reach a spokesperson or company decision maker even after hours or during a holiday.

News stories dealing with the failure of UPS and FedEx to deliver all the holiday gifts by Christmas all state that attempts to reach the two shipping giants on Christmas day by the news media went unanswered.  Organizations always need to have a way for the media to reach them in case of emergency.  Failure to do so means the media will not carry your side of the story in the initial coverage, losing a news cycle and the narrative.  As a result of UPS and FedEx having no way for the media to reach their spokespersons to address this crisis, the narrative implied in the media coverage was that while numerous families had their Christmas ruined, the higher ups at FedEx and UPS were at home and enjoying their holiday.  Spokespersons must be available 24/7 to respond to the media.

2.  Be able to address the problem with a strong apology and have a solution when you speak to the media.

The cardinal rule in crisis communications is to address the problem and state how the company is dealing with the crisis.  Yet neither UPS or FedEx have done this adequately.  First they can’t state how many customers were affected by non-delivery of packages.  As I write this column, the spokespersons for both claim they are still working in ascertaining the figure.  The apologies issued by the two companies have been tepid at best.  Christmas is a sacred time for millions and not having Christmas gifts delivered in time is very upsetting to families.  The outrage we are seeing in parents upset because gifts for their children did not arrive in time or food ordered for a family’s traditional Christmas meal is genuine.  Yet the apologies issued by the companies seems almost standard and robotic.  Consumers expect a genuine heartfelt apology especially when their holiday has been disrupted and when they called customer support numbers and were treated rudely.  Finally, besides promising that packages will be delivered neither company has volunteered if they will refund customers their shipping fees.  That should have been an automatic in their apology.

3.  Have a social media policy in place and address the crisis.

This crisis is being driven by social media.  Facebook pages voicing consumer outraged formed instantaneously when the gifts were not delivered.   Remember social media drives narratives and often traditional media picks up a story based upon social media postings.  Yet stunningly, neither of two companies is addressing this crisis on their social media pages.  When caught in a crisis, utilize social media to speak directly to your consumer, addressing the issue, offering an apology, and stating your solution.

Mistakes happen in business.  Social media and the 24/7 news cycle magnify mistakes and even the smallest crisis.  That is why a crisis communications plan is essential.  For FedEx and UPS, this failure in planning compounded their problems and made them look Scrooges to consumers and the media on Christmas Day.  Now the challenge for both is to recover and rebuild trust that was lost because of not merely their failure to get packages delivered by Christmas but by their mishandling in responding to the crisis.

 

 About the Author:  David E. Johnson is the CEO of Strategic Vision, LLC, a public relations and branding agency that specializes in crisis communications, branding, and media relations.  Additional information on Johnson and Strategic Vision, LLC may be obtained at www.strategicvision.biz.

 

PR Pros: How Will You Succeed in 2014? Tell Us!

PR Pros: How Will You Succeed in 2014? Tell Us!.

PR Pros: How Will You Succeed in 2014? Tell Us!

Image of PR Pros: How Will You Succeed in 2014? Tell Us!PR professionals have more opportunities for success than ever today, and yet challenges do remain. How can you build and maintain trust with your key audiences when the public is increasingly skeptical? What are the most effective ways to reach a connected, mobile society that prefers multiple sources of news and information? How can you best determine what tactics do—and don’t—work so you can justify your investment?

The good news is that PR professionals have the right tools not only to solve these challenges but to turn them into new opportunities. Here are 3 ways that savvy PR pros are taking full advantage of our on-demand, on-the-go world to drive the success of their campaigns:

Reaching a Multi-Channeled Society.  Nowadays people get their news and information from multiple sources. A lot of attention has focused on social media and smart devices, but people do still turn on their TVs and radios.  They read newspapers and magazines, and they still have in-person conversations.  What today’s media consumer wants is information on demand. Reaching the right influencers is critical, and making use of the tools designed to find and engage those audiences enhances your chances for success. An effective communications plan takes this into account and includes all of the available channels, as well as using targeting tools to make sure you’re reaching the right people.

Delivering Relevant Content. Today’s media consumers are constantly searching for news and information they can use, and they want it immediately. Public relations professionals have long understood the value of timely and credible information and have mastered the art of delivering it—like by supplying subject matter experts to journalists looking for sources for their stories. Delivering meaningful content that adds value to your target audiences will be a key area of emphasis in the year ahead, one of the most powerful ways to build connections.

Understanding ROI. Measuring the effectiveness of your campaigns is more critical than ever these days when every penny of your marketing budget needs to count. Social and digital technologies give you the ability to gain insights—often in real time—into who is reading and sharing your content and talking about your brands. You can even gauge the sentiment of those conversations.  These are real, tangible metrics that can increase the effectiveness of your campaigns and contribute to better ROI.

What are your most pressing PR challenges and smart new solutions for 2014?

Image of PR Pros: How Will You Succeed in 2014? Tell Us!

Kurt Heinemann
CMO, Marketwired

Let us know in the comments below, and then join us for a Google+ Hangout On-Air event in January 2014. 

Kurt Heinemann will answer your questions, drawing on his experiences as CMO ofMarketwired, which helps companies overcome communications challenges and open up new opportunities.

 

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What PR PROs Can Learn From Justine Sacco

What PR PROs Can Learn From Justine Sacco.

What PR PROs Can Learn From Justine Sacco

Image of What PR PROs Can Learn From Justine SaccoBy Dorothy Crenshaw, CEO and Creative Director, Crenshaw Communications

Friday morning, IAC PR executive Justine Sacco had about 300 Twitter followers and was known mostly to her family, friends and colleagues. But after a racially themed tweet and 12 hours of silence as Twitter raged, she became a PR crisis case history and an example of a personal reputation meltdown in real time. How did it happen, and can we learn anything from it?

As everyone knows, it started with a tweet. Not an ordinary one. “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white,” is pretty startling, particularly coming from a senior PR professional at a well known media company. There’s quite a bit to unpack in the short tweet. It’s doubly offensive: first, it makes light of the AIDS scourge in Africa. Then it brings in race. Nothing amusing or clever in either case.

Unfortunately for Sacco, Valleywag caught the update and posted a brief but snarky item about it, “A Funny Holiday Joke From IAC’s PR Boss.”

At that, Twitter took notice. To many, it was pure ignorance and racism. Others thought it was an attempt at edgy humor. Some speculated about a hack. The tweet was RT’d thousands of times, and Sacco’s Twitter account ballooned to over 6000 followers. Before the close of the business day on the East Coast, IAC had posted an apology for the “outrageous” and “offensive” tweet and implied she would be dismissed as soon as she could be reached. Sacco’s name was then scrubbed from the IAC website.

As Twitter waited for a response, it became obvious Sacco was on a flight without internet access. In the meantime, the community went into overdrive and the story went mainstream, picked up by Business Insider, Huffington Post, and even The New York Times, among others. A faux Twitter account appeared, complete with Megyn Kelly jokes. Buzzfeed wasted no time in creating a listicle of Sacco’s most dubious tweets.

In a clever, or, some would say, questionable, bit of newsjacking, Gogo, the inflight Internet service, jumped on the controversy to promote its in-flight wifi. Then Twitter briefly cheered when the domain justinesacco.com was acquired and redirected to an African aid donations site. All were glued to Sacco’s account, waiting for the moment when she would realize the ferocity of the twitstorm, punctuated with the hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet. Many actually likened the spectacle to O.J. Simpson’s low-speed Bronco chase of 1994…a pretty tasteless comparison if you ask me.

At some point, Sacco did land, and her Twitter account was deleted. The story may not be over, but it does point out some things of import to communicators. Already, in PR-land, Sacco’s meltdown is a lesson in social media’s power and to some, she’s a poster child for self-indulgent, oversharing millennials.

Personal is professional. If your employer is named on your social media account, everything you post can be linked to the company. Any PR professional should know that. And the standard disclaimer that “opinions are my own” is a waste of character space. Does anyone think it would have made a difference in this case?

Edgy humor (if that’s what it was) is hard to pull off. Even if you’re a professional comic, you’re taking a risk with any humor that crosses lines involving serious issues of race, sexuality, mortality, or violence.  Ask Daniel Tosh,  Bill Maher, and Gilbert Gottfried, to name just a few. These are guys who do it for a living.

Response time is critical. The amount of internet rage that built against Sacco because she was (presumably) unable to delete or apologize for her tweet was astonishing. If we have ever doubted that the media/web/community will fill the void of a non-response, it’s now a certainty. And the window of opportunity for responding and trying to make things right is breathtakingly small.

Consider a backup plan if out of touch. Some PR pros on Twitter tonight had practical tips. One suggested giving password and login access to work colleagues if unplugged for a day or more. Media trainer Brad Phillips (@MrMediaTraining) advises against setting auto-tweets if you expect to be out of touch for a long while –  as we’ve seen when tragic news hits and brands are caught tweeting trivia, or worse. Of course, a better idea is not to post stupid tweets in the first place, regardless of internet access.

So, what should Sacco do now? PR pros will debate it for some time to come, but once she realizes what’s hit her, she should start with a real apology. Not a mealy-mouthed “I’m sorry to those I offended,” but a true expression of contrition. The 12-hour silence couldn’t be helped, but deleting her entire Twitter account and retreating isn’t the right move, assuming that she’s not actually a bigot. If she is, then this is a wake-up call.

Jason Alexander’s heartfelt apology after a “gay” skit he performed on a late-night show is a good model. The social mob is ruthless, to be sure. But social media can also be a powerful tool for communicating regret and asking for redemption. It may be quixotic, but I hope it can also help turn the schadenfreude the PR community feels about an entertaining, but basically horrible, reputation disaster into something a little bit instructive for all of us.

About the Author: Dorothy Crenshaw has provided the inspiration and initiative behind a range of high-profile and award-winning campaigns for clients, including those in CE and digital technology, retail, consumer products, and health promotion. Before opening her namesake agency, Dorothy was President of Stanton Crenshaw Communications, which she helped build into a premier mid-sized New York PR agency over 13 years. Earlier she was Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Worldwide Consumer Marketing at the PR unit of Grey Advertising. Prior to Grey, she was with Edelman Worldwide as Senior Vice President. An industry influencer, Dorothy speaks frequently on brand-building, marketing to women, and workplace topics. She serves on the board of New York Women in Communications, Inc. and Cancer Care and was named one of the industry’s 100 Most Powerful Women by PR Week.

Duck Dynasty Patriarch’s Media Firestorm: A Lesson in Crisis Management

Duck Dynasty Patriarch’s Media Firestorm: A Lesson in Crisis Management.

Duck Dynasty Patriarch’s Media Firestorm: A Lesson in Crisis Management

Image of Duck Dynasty Patriarchs Media Firestorm: A Lesson in Crisis ManagementBy David E. Johnson, CEO, Strategic Vision, LLC

Duck Dynasty star and patriarch, Phil Robertson (Duck Commander) is the subject of a media firestorm over comments he made about homosexuals in GQ Magazine.  In his interview, Robertson uses lewd imagery to discuss why he doesn’t understand homosexuality, which he goes on to call it a sin and compare homosexuality to bestiality based upon his Christian beliefs.  GLADD vehemently denounced Robertson’s comments as some of the vilest ever directed towards homosexuals.  While the controversy has been focused on the remarks he made about homosexuals, he also made controversial comments about African Americans, saying the cotton farm workers he knew in Louisiana were “happy” with their jobs.  A&E, the network that carries Duck Dynasty announced that it was suspending Robertson indefinitely over his remarks.  This in turn has led to a massive reaction against A&E and in favor of Robertson.  Social media is burning up with tweets and Facebook posts defending Robertson.  Sarah Palin, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and even Geraldo Rivera have come to his defense.  So can the Duck Dynasty brand survive?  How has Robertson handled his crisis communications efforts?

Image of Duck Dynasty Patriarchs Media Firestorm: A Lesson in Crisis Management

(Source: Wikipedia)

The answer to the first question is obvious.  Of course the Duck Dynasty brand will survive and will actually flourish as a result of this controversy.  Some will say, Paula Deen was caught admitting using the ‘n’ word over twenty years ago and her brand has been damaged severely, why the difference.  The difference is that Deen’s brand was built around her persona of being a sweet grandmotherly personality her use of the ‘n’ word didn’t go with that image and her crisis communications efforts were abysmal.

Robertson and the Duck Dynasty brand have never pretended to be politically correct.  Part of their appeal and brand identity has been built around their authenticity and saying what is on their mind.  Even more so much of their appeal has been their strong Christian faith that appeals to a large number of their fans.  In that aspect, Robertson’s remarks and his explanation reinforce that branding.  Fans of Duck Dynasty fit into a more conservative outlook and are apt to agree with Robertson.  Beyond that many of the shows fans will sympathize with Robertson believing that it was his first amendment right to say what he believes.  Overall, the Duck Dynasty brand has strengthened their ties with their existing fans.

Beyond that, people who have never watched Duck Dynasty will probably tune into the show to find out what all the controversy is about that the media is reporting.  Not all of these new viewers will stay but some will and become Duck Dynasty fans.  So overall the brand comes out ahead earning itself millions in free publicity.

Robertson’s crisis communications efforts have been good so far.  He released a brief statement that reaffirmed his Christian belief while stating he would never disrespect anyone.  Beyond that he has been quiet and done no embarrassing YouTube videos apologizing nor attacked either his critics or A&E.  His cast members (as would be expected since they are family members) are all supportive of him.  His fans are vocal on social media and are petitioning A&E to drop his suspension.  He has prominent supporters who appeal to his brand’s demographics supporting him.  Next he needs to do a media interview with Oprah or perhaps Barbara Walters and address the issue and then continue his silence.

Despite the media firestorm, the Duck Dynasty brand and Phil Robertson are probably stronger as a result of this controversy.  Robertson played to his authenticity branding that appeals to his fans and reinforced that appeal.  His crisis response has avoided the pitfall that we often see in which the crisis response becomes the story (see Paula Deen and Lululemon).  This is living proof that in the 24/7 media cycle and social media world that we live in, at times a crisis can be the best thing to happen to a brand.

 

 About the Author:  David E. Johnson is the CEO of Strategic Vision, LLC, a public relations and branding agency that specializes in crisis communications, branding, and media relations.  Additional information on Johnson and Strategic Vision, LLC may be obtained at www.strategicvision.biz.

Study: How journalists use social media

Study: How journalists use social media

Study: How journalists use social media

By Kristin Piombino | Posted: December 19, 2013
 
There are a lot of articles out there about how to pitch journalists and build relationships with them.

And now that social media is so prevalent, many PR pros wonder how it fits into the formula.

An infographic from Cision has some answers. It illustrates how journalists in the U.S. use social media and view their relationships with PR pros.

For example, only 25 percent of journalists prefer to be contacted via social media. Thirty-three percent prefer the phone, and a whopping 82 percent prefer email.

But journalists do use social media for their jobs. Here’s how:

  • Publishing: 84 percent
  • Sourcing: 81 percent
  • Networking: 80 percent
  • Monitoring: 73 percent
  • Verifying: 64 percent

If you’re looking to catch a journalist on social media and want to know when he or she will be online, know that 55 percent of journalists spend 1-2 hours per work day on social media. Only 19 percent spend 2-4 hours on social media per work day, and 10 percent spend no time on social media at all while at work.

[RELATED: Qualify for a 15-minute demo of PressPage, the leading digital newsroom technology, and get a $15 Amazon.com gift card.]

Check out the graphic for more:

(View a larger image.)

 

Kristin Piombino is the associate editor of Ragan.com.