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    Led by Paul Maccabee, MaccaPR is a blog from Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency.

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    Shattering Stereotypes with Marketing: A Conversation with The BrandLab

    Posted by Paul Maccabee on Dec 1, 2015 5:26:00 AM


    Why should it matter to a chief marketing officer that her advertising and public relations agency teams are all white, blonde and marinated in the same suburban, upper middle class culture? Should we care that barely 4.5 percent of ad, PR and marketing managers are African-American?

    And why should your marketing department strive to be open to talent that’s from Mali as well as Minnetonka, from Ecuador as well as Edina? Is it really all that important that your brand teams go beyond hiring staff with the surnames Anderson, Peterson, Gustafson and Carlson, and make an extra effort to welcome agency interns with names like Pham, Castillo, Sabah or Xiong?

    To paraphrase WWE wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, “Hell, yeah!” That’s where Minneapolis-based The BrandLab comes in. Their mission is singular: Our marketing industry will thrive only if it absorbs the creativity of people with diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, so that marketers are more representative of the country’s multicultural, multiracial audiences. 

    But our advertising and PR community in the Twin Cities is a long way off from that goal:

    • Only 6.3 percent of men and women in the Twin Cities ad industry are people of color, according to a 2015 survey,
    • Yet 22 percent of Minneapolis/St. Paul residents are minorities.


    Nationally, the picture is uglier: the Madison Avenue Project found that “racial discrimination is 38 percent worse in the advertising industry than in the overall US labor market.” The group found that African-Americans in advertising were paid “29 percent less on average than their white counterparts with comparable experience and education.” (Ground Zero for the Madison Avenue Project’s advocacy for diversity was Super Bowl TV spots - of 52 ads that aired during one Super Bowl, 100% of the creative directors were white - and barely 6 percent were women.)

    Supporting The BrandLab’s efforts to shake up the makeup of our marketing community are partner agencies including Carmichael Lynch, Fallon, Olson, BBDO, Zeus Jones, Preston Kelly, Wingnut, Mithun, Yamamoto (and, yes, Maccabee PR), along with such client-side marketers as 3M, C.H. Robinson, Caribou Coffee, General Mills, Dairy Queen, Target, Land O’ Lakes, Medtronic and Best Buy.

    BrandLab1.jpgThe BrandLab's Ellen Walthour and Brian Gioielli with Gwen Chynoweth and Paul Maccabee

    During a recent presentation from The BrandLab to our Maccabee staff we learned how The BrandLab now serves 600 minority students in 30 classrooms across the Twin Cities, introducing them to careers in advertising and PR they did not know existed.

    After, we cornered The BrandLab executive director Ellen Walthour (lower right) for this MaccaPR interview: 

    Ellen, give us an example of creative work that would benefit from a DSC_29523.jpgmore racially and culturally diverse agency team?

    “A client-side marketer told me they were running a focus group for a juice snack brand, something like SunnyD. The agency previewed its 30-second TV spot, which depicted a group of kids running into a house after-school, laughing and all happy as they grabbed containers of SunnyD juice out of the refrigerator. White women in the focus group thought the ad was great. But when the agency showed the same TV spot to black women, they felt the kids’ behavior in the spot was rude and obnoxious. ‘That would never happen in my house,’ one woman said. ‘I would never let my kids do that.” There was nothing blatantly insensitive or racist about the advertising, it’s just that the ad team missed cultural references of an entire marketplace. Without a more diverse agency creative group that understands nuances of varied consumer audiences, it’s easy to make those mistakes.’” 

    We know that the late John Olson, founder and CEO of the Olson agency (now the largest creative agency in the Twin Cities), created The BrandLab. Tell us what inspired John’s interest? 

    “As the Olson agency was taking off and John was hiring new staff, he walked around his agency offices and thought to himself: ‘None of the people here look like the people that our agency is trying to talk to!’ John decided he wanted to change his talent pipeline to be more diverse, so in 2008, he went to Minneapolis South High School and asked the principal if Olson could teach an ad class for Native American students. John realized the opportunity to introduce students to our world was much bigger than any one agency, and he launched The BrandLab with more than $1,000,000 in Olson-donated time and services.”

    In a recent interview, you talked about how the ad industry must break out of traditional modes of hiring, which tend to be network-based. That means that agency executives often hire talent that looks and sounds precisely like us. How do you break that insular cycle?

    “You reach out. Instead of these students coming to us, The BrandLab goes to them first. Our benchmark is offering The BrandLab curriculum to classrooms that are at least 50 percent students of color, and 50 percent students on reduced-cost lunch programs.

    As many as 85 percent of our students are non-white, and at first, these kids don’t recognize the role that branding plays in their lives. We point out the brands they’re loyal to, the brands they’re wearing, and the brand of snack food they’re eating… they’re surprised that there’s an entire industry that’s behind the creation of that brand loyalty!”

    It’s fascinating to me that careers in advertising and PR - depicted on TV shows and in Hollywood films - are still so elusive to lower-income communities of color.

    I remember when the New York Times interviewed John five years ago about The BrandLab, he told the reporter: ‘We need to attack the challenge at its root cause, lack of knowledge (of careers in advertising), rather than responding with the usual bag of tricks, like ‘let’s have a (multicultural) award show.’ ‘Young people don’t know about advertising,' said Olson, 'and they don’t think people get paid to do this kind of work.’”

    A BrandLab networking event

    What’s the biggest obstacle in making agencies and marketing departments welcoming to minority talent?

    “Good question. We have to make sure that when agencies hire The BrandLab kids as interns, they will thrive. So we coach agency supervisors and company CEOs about how to build diverse teams and make employees from different economic or cultural backgrounds feel included in a company that’s still primarily white. We talk about avoiding ‘micro-aggression’ - small slights that might not be noticed by someone in the dominant group, but which make racially diverse interns or employees feel excluded.

    Say your agency hires a woman with a Muslim background, who was born and raised in the Twin Cities. Wanting to be friendly, your co-workers ask her: ‘Where are you from?’ But she may hear that as question as being a bit hostile, like ‘You’re not from here, are you?’” 

    How do you prove the value of a diverse workforce to Twin Cities ad agency leaders?

    “To be candid, research shows that diverse teams may have more challenges initially - but that the outcomes of those teams are better, as the brainstorming benefits from a range of perspectives. Especially within our creative landscape, when marketing teams are trying to break through with a campaign that’s different and meaningful, the best marketing ideas may not come from 10 people with identical backgrounds. What’s more, you can’t assume all of your customers will be white. In fact, you will have customers that you miss, or even offend, if your messaging is not culturally responsive.

    I’ve learned from having Alfredo Martel formerly from Caribou Coffee on The BrandLab board that if you make a Spanish-speaking ad, there are so many nuances you can miss - because in fact your audience may be Mexican, Chilean or even Hispanic with a European background. Your audience isn’t only white vs. black vs. brown; we’re now in a multicultural society, and one marketer that has captured that brilliantly is General Mills, with their interracial Cheerios’ “Gracie” TV spot.” (Editor’s Note: See our “Cheerios, Oreo and Social Change: Move over Bob Dylan, the Marketers are Coming!” post)

    I attended one of your BrandLab events at Dairy Queen earlier this year, where your interns did speed networking. It was thrilling to watch them master business techniques that were new to them.

    “It’s all about giving students the tools to succeed in a marketing department or agency. The BrandLab coaches them about the work ethic that expected of them, showing up at the office early, following up when you receive an email or voicemail message and more. For instance, one of our interns got an email from his boss’ boss, inviting him out for coffee. The intern didn’t respond right away. We explained to him later, when that kind of invitation happens from a CMO, you need to email back right away with a ‘thank you, yes, let me know what time!’”

    Can you share a story about one of your The BrandLab successes?

    Karis1.jpg“Well, consider Karis Pryor (left), a winner of one of our John Olson Memorial Scholarships who I first met as a senior in an art class at Washburn High School. When we showed her how creativity in art could be applied to a career in advertising, we learned that she’d never before considered advertising or PR as a viable option. She got a BrandLab internship with Colle+McVoy and was immediately drawn to PR, working with its PR division Exponent. Karis wrote her first press release, created media lists, pitched news media - and felt the power that she could influence things! She loved the rush and pace and fun of it all. Since then, she’s interned at Olson Engage, became a PR coordinator for a beauty salon, and is about to graduate from St. Cloud State University with a degree in mass communications and media studies to pursue a career in marketing. She is a superstar.”

    Your BrandLab presentation to our staff noted that the combined buying power of Hispanic, African-American, Native American and Asian consumers has topped $3.3 trillion. So is it just good business to have a culturally diverse agency staff?

    “It’s way more than just good business. We work in a very powerful industry. The injustices in our society - racism, poverty - are so profound. We, as marketers, have a responsibility to play a role in remedying those problems. Advertising, PR, marketing - these are impactful careers. But to shape a better world, the marketing industry must have access to the insights of everyone, from every cultural, economic and ethnic background. Imagine the power of our marketing messages if all of our agencies and marketing departments embraced the inclusion at the heart of John Olson’s dream?”

    Are you a marketer interested in participating in The BrandLab? Check out The BrandLab or contact Ellen herself at: 612-483-0167 and


    Paul MaccabeePaul Maccabee is president and co-founder of Maccabee, a Minneapolis-based corporate communications, content marketing, social media and public relations agency. 




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    Topics: Interviews, Marketing

    4 Tips For Undergoing Your Online Marketing Metamorphosis

    Posted by Kara Turtinen on Nov 10, 2015 5:09:00 AM


    This year’s sold-out Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association (MIMA) Summit in downtown Minneapolis brought together 1,400 of our state’s brightest marketers, technologists and entrepreneurs to hear about new strategies to disrupt the status quo. The event’s DISRUPTORS theme was designed to convince marketers to take notice of tactics that were new or outside of their normal course of action in business. Here’s a look inside some of the most memorable ideas that I walked away with.

    1. Feed Social Media As If It’s A Living Breathing Organism 

    Marketers know that social media is as revolutionary to our culture as the printing press was in Gutenberg’s day, turning mobile phones and PCs into access points for endless connectivity. But how do marketers connect the dots between social media and engaged consumers by providing real value? Social media networks are living organisms defined by distinct characteristics, according to MIMA’s morning keynote speaker Oliver Luckett, founder of theAudience, a digital content publishing platform.

    This concept of social media being a living organism resonated with me as I consider myself a bit of a science nerd (the New York Times science section is the homepage on my computer) and even earned a degree in life sciences communication. Many people think of science and communications as two separate fields, so I loved seeing Luckett outline such a strong association between the two.

    Interesting fact: Luckett’s theory on the topic of social media networks being living organisms came to him during a “vision quest” in the desert.

    “Social is here to stay and we need to figure out how we can be part of that ecosystem.” Let’s look at what Luckett means through his seven characteristic principles.

    • Social media needs to be nourished by human expression. Luckett says marketers should stop focusing on outdated tactics - such as banner ads - and instead look at what attracts a non-cognitive response, such as infographics, videos or art.
    • Social media feeds off of emotions. Marketers and PR pros should make sure our content induces the right emotions and resonates with our target audience. An example of someone who has successfully applied this principle of emotional connection and response is YouTube star, PewDiePie, whose video channel recently hit 10 billion views. While his video content isn’t life-altering (he plays video games), PewDiePie’s viewers are drawn to the idea that they can be part of his experience.
    • Social media is influenced by the physical world, says Luckett. Marketers should use real experiences to help connect with their audience on a more personal level. Channels such as Twitter and Instagram thrive on this human connection.
    • Social media protects itself from negativity and spam. Facebook is a great example of this concept: it is based on likes, share, and ultimately connecting people in a positive way. While there is currently no way to protect users from negative comments or Internet trolls, the goal of the social platform is to add as much value to those around us as possible.
    • Social media flows through frictionless sharing. Social media channels need nutrients (content, influencers) to feed the information system. “If you cut off the branches and cut off the flow of information… you die,” says Luckett.
    • The social organism evolves through memes and grows when you allow users to be creative with your content. We’re all drawn to imaginative thinking – use it to your advantage. For example, Southwest Airlines has generated great success with its humorous blog “Nuts about Southwest,” which includes videos of a “Live at 35(000) feet” concert and posts about songs written on cocktail napkins during a flight to Nashville. It gives travelers a taste of the airline’s brand values, while engaging with customers in a creative way.

    Oliver Luckett giving his keynote presentation, “Wild Efficiency: The Science Behind Social.”

    • Living things and social media become larger and more complicated as they grow. The social media organism is gaining strength and ubiquity, and it’s important to study how social media as a whole is building and reshaping itself so we can get the most out of it’s channels in the future. Twitter recently followed this principle of learning when they changed the star icon for “favorites” to a heart that represents “likes” after receiving feedback that the star was causing confusion. Twitter’s new heart symbol resonates across languages, cultures and time zones - making the platform easier and more rewarding for everyone to use.

    Luckett left the MIMA audience with his view that PR professionals and marketers should “actively participate in human experience.” Do this by being authentic storytellers and finding the right consumers with whom to connect. After all, he said, social media has the power to elevate humanity - we’d better be able to provide valuable content or we will be spit out of this new and disruptive communications architecture.

    2. Bring Your Content Into Real Life

    Whether you work for a children’s hospital or an outdoor adventure retailer like REI, reaching the right audience at the right time is the key to your success. A common theme at this year’s MIMA summit was how to create multiple touch points with online campaigns that give you the most return on your investment.

    Steven Regenold, Editor-in-Chief of, took a deep dive into this concept of using multiple touchpoints during his presentation, “Adventures in Content Creation”. Regenold has worked with brands such as REI and Coleman over 15 years on projects that span the globe. At MIMA, he shared tips on how to build content that makes a lasting impression.

    “Don’t do something you don’t think will resonate with your audience,” he preached. When navigating content strategies, his most pertinent recommendation was to ensure campaigns have multiple facets (e.g. social + content marketing). He also talked about tying your campaign strategy in with what a brand is already doing, becoming known as an expert in a topic area related to your industry, balancing sponsor demands with your readers’ needs, and staying authentic. “Be nimble. Be passionate. Have fun,” he said. 

    An example of an effective multi-faceted campaign that worked on was for the shoe company, Keen. The Portland, Oregon-based manufacturer wanted to reach new audiences in a unique way and across a variety of channels, so Keen came up with a 10-part content series based around a pair of size 14 hiking boots. Ten participants put on the same pair of boots (gross) and hiked one million steps - all the way to the company’s headquarters, where they held a celebration that local TV stations were quick to cover. Along each journey, the hiker would blog about their experiences - from the conditions of their feet to the odor of the shoes - and would share their insights via social by live tweeting or posting to Instagram using the hashtag #FollowYourFeet. The worn boots are now displayed at Keen’s headquarters and brought to tradeshows throughout the year.




    Side note: USPS delivered Keen’s boots to the wrong location the day of the final hike. Luckily, they were found at a neighbor’s house and the final hiker completed the one millionth step just in time for the cameras!





    3. Create Opportunities to Connect

    The connection between two individuals is a powerful tool for social disruption and change. Jessica Jackley (right), co-founder of Kiva, was particularly profound on this topic. The first peer-to-peer microlending website, Kiva lets users lend as little as $25 to low-income/underserved entrepreneurs around the world, providing affordable capital for them to start or expand microenterprises. In Jackley’s keynote, she explained that opportunity is everywhere - and oftentimes in places we don’t expect.

    She provided inspiration and pulled at our heartstrings with the stories of two Kiva-financed entrepreneurs with incredible skills and product output, but with different entrepreneurial styles.

    1. First, there’s Patrick the brick builder. Patrick lived in Northern Uganda and in order to survive and support his family, he literally rolled up his sleeves and dug his hands into the dirt. He then made that dirt into clay. With some borrowed money, Patrick was able to buy matches and build a kiln so he could turn the clay into bricks. He turned those bricks into a business and he now has a handful of employees. Jackley says Patrick the brick builder believed in running over mountains and running through fire and that’s what made him so successful as an entrepreneur.
    2. Jackley also told the story of a woman in a third-world country who was an incredible basket weaver. Although she had a fairly successful business, when Jackley arrived at her home, she was shocked to find it bare and broken. Instead of investing her money and growing her business, the woman literally had it hidden in a hole in the floor. Her business never truly took off, though it could have, but she was content with what she had.

    “Why do some people dig and create something out of nothing?” Jackley asked. “And why do some people bury and stop before they reach their potential?” You just need to convince yourself and believe, she said. We in public relations can learn a lot from the brick builder and the basket weaver. Every day, PR pros are faced with new opportunities, but sometimes we have to dig for them and create them out of nothing.

    Jackley left us with, “Wake up each day and say, ‘Now what?’” 

    4. Personalize Online Marketing to Each Individual Person…really!

    With so much competition out there, marketers must be more personal in their targeting. How to customize websites and content was the focus of an afternoon session in the Data Track (sponsored by Maccabee client, RBA), “Catch those Missing Conversions through Personalization” with Adobe Optimization Consultant, Kyle Johnson.

    Kara Turtinen with RBA Client, Jenna Soule

    Johnson began his presentation with some startling statistics:

    • 83% of marketers are satisfied with their website content.
    • 29% of consumers are satisfied with the website content they see.

    Every visitor to your website or mobile app arrives for a reason, and as the Internet matures, services like social media and search provide individualized experiences that set the bar high for companies. Now, your visitors expect to be able to wade through any clutter and see only content they’re interested in.

    His suggestion? Marketers need to analyze every person who visits their website and show them a customized page with content based on their behaviors (i.e. returning customer who bought 10 items vs. a new customer who is visiting the page for the first time). We want to target audiences in ways that we know matter to them. Luckily, processes such as A/B testing can help companies determine consumer behavior for more efficient targeting through customized content.

    To wrap up the knowledge-filled day, Amy Webb, digital media futurist and founder of WebbMedia Group, highlighted a new cool (and freaky) tool that helps marketers and PR people understand their audience: Crystal.

    Crystal is a website that analyzes online public information such as LinkedIn and Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, and gives you advice on how to communicate with colleagues, customers or prospects. Easily searchable, Crystal provides access to personality information on those around you. And, guess what, it’s crazy accurate.

    As you can see above, according to Crystal, I am a “friendly supporter, energized by creativity, loves to teach, and prioritizes relationships over immediate personal achievement,” which I have to say is pretty spot on. Crystal also gives marketers suggestions (see below) on how to word an email (use friendly lines such as, “hope you’re doing well!”) or tips on how you can create a better working relationship with a colleague or customer (recognize my accomplishments verbally). Cool, huh?

    As always, I learned a lot more at the MIMA Summit than you could possibly fit into this blog post. If you’re looking for more online marketing takeaways, check out insights from other attendees, such as:

    • Minneapolis digital agency FRWD which touches on the power of collaboration between advertisers and publishers when creating engaging content (and shares an awesome opening video from MIMA), and
    • Bolin Marketing which shares how important visuals are for a brand.

     You can also follow @mimatweet and #mimasummit on Twitter. Now, go be a disruptor!


    Kara-Final-10944-Edit-1Kara Turtinen is an account executive at Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency.

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    Topics: Social Media, Digital Marketing

    Ad Blockers: A Home Run (Or a Strike Out) For PR, Social and Content Marketing?

    Posted by Paul Maccabee on Oct 26, 2015 5:27:00 AM

    You remember those predictions just two years ago heralding the Death of Public Relations? We’ll never forget the panic in the PR world as tens of thousands of journalists (aka our PR pitch targets) at newspapers, TV stations and magazines were laid off. The near-collapse of much of US journalism employment and the seeming vulnerability of PR coincided with America’s top marketers who - smitten with digital advertising - diverted billions of dollars from their traditional ad budgets into online.

    It was a time when the very words “public relations” were scrubbed from the titles of corporate PR Directors. Even today, a Google search on the words “Death of Public Relations” generates 108,000,000 results - including giddy articles titled “The Many Deaths of Public Relations,” “The Death of PR Agencies,” and “Corporate PR Is Dead.” A former Edelman PR executive published a 300-page book. Its title: “Trust Me, PR Is Dead.”

    But, as that great marketing communicator Bob Dylan sang, “things have changed.”

    Consider three news items that suggest how marketers are spurning traditional paid advertising and instead, re-embracing the back-and-forth engagement of public relations and its cousin, content marketing. Play ball! 

    Exhibit A: The Death Knell of “Advertising’?

    PepsiCo beverage president Brad Jakeman (right) gave a blistering speech this month before the Association of
    National Advertising in Orlando, suggesting that the advertising industry kill the very word ‘advertising.’

    “Can we stop using the term advertising, which is based on this model of polluting (content),” railed Jakeman, who was contemptuous of the pre-roll advertising that precedes video content on YouTube and other sites:

    “I hate it. What is even worse is that I know the people who are making it now that I’m going to hate it. Why do I know that? Because they tell me how long I am going to have to endure it – 20 seconds, 15 seconds. You only have to watch this crap for another 10 seconds and then you are going to get to the content that you really wanted to see. That is a model of polluting content that is not sustainable.”

    Exhibit B: Epic Presidential Ad Spending Fails

    This month, Bloomberg reported that the top Republican presidential candidate advertisers – Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie and John Kasich, whose combined advertising spend topped $18.5 million - had become the last successful, worst-polling candidates in the 2016 race. The Jeb Bush campaign, whose PAC ran more than 3,200 TV spots, received catastrophically bad ROI at the polls. Meanwhile leading GOP candidates Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson and (until recently) Carly Fiorina, were running few if any TV ads and garnering huge poll numbers by focusing on social media and old-school PR. “We’re not going to be running ads, I can tell you that,” crowed Fiorina. Polling expert Ken Goldstein was quoted in AdAge slamming paid advertising a political liability: “Often you spend money when you are in trouble.”

    What’s the alternative to ads for these Presidential hopefuls? AdAge said Bush campaign advisor Austin Barbour credited front-runner Trump’s success to his “knack for attracting free media coverage” - in other words, classic publicity and media relations. Trump confirmed his PR strategy with a statement in Iowa: “I’m getting so much publicity that I don’t have to advertise so far.” 

    Exhibits C, D and E: Invasion of the Ad Blockers!

    Enter online ad blocking software, a technology that Madison Avenue is viewing with the kind of horror that dentists express when forced to see the Nazi dental torture scene in the Dustin Hoffman film, “Marathon Man.” (Watch it, and you’ll never open your mouth in a dentist’s office again). Ad blocking software has now been made ubiquitous by Apple, which sells the apps on its AppStore and includes ad blocking extensions in its iOS9. Ad blockers like AdBlock Plus, 1Blocker, Purify and the free Refine make pop-ups, online banner ads and other display advertising, along with pre-roll advertising on YouTube, simply disappear.

    To understand the seismic impact of consumers opting out of advertising online, we spoke to Kathleen Petersen (left), media director with the Minneapolis digital marketing agency Nina Hale, Inc. whose lively “Ad Blockers: An Uncertain Threat” blog post is a must-read.

    First off, predicts Petersen, ad agencies, corporate marketers and media outlets will find ways to adapt, just as TV advertisers did when TiVo and DVRs threatened to turn millions of their precious, Nielsen-counted TV viewers into ad-skippers.

    Petersen expects that marketers will now turn to content partners like BuzzFeed and native advertising companies such as Such partners can create sponsored, branded content for advertisers that’s built into an online magazine, blog or e-newsletter and treated by ad blockers as “real” editorial content, rather than as advertising.

    In turn, publishers are exploring a variety of weapons against the scourge of ad blocking: for example, visit with your ad blocker enabled and you’ll find yourself stopped cold by this stern message: “You’re Using an Ad Blocker: To continue reading, please disable ad blocker for our site.” Notes Petersen, “Look, the Star Tribune provides you with content online, and you’re asking to see that content both for free and without advertising. So the Star Tribune has no way to make money.

    “Think of what you’re asking for,” Petersen writes in her post. “Quality content at no cost. The bills have to be paid somehow and if not by advertisers, by who? You? Don’t be upset when you’re asked to subscribe, or else all you can see is scrambled content.”

    What This Means For Marketers:

    Originally elated that US digital advertising spending was predicted to top $58.6 billion in 2015, ad agencies and their clients are now freaking out that consumers can block those ads and render some online buys nearly worthless. What’s a marketer to do? “To be honest, we’d never recommend that marketers only buy display or banner advertising - it’s important to have a well-rounded media strategy,” counsels Petersen. “Display ads continue to be great for awareness, regardless of consumers clicking banners to visit your website. We know through vast amounts of research that those who do click through are a less-desirable audience; less educated, lower income. Also, 8 percent of the total audience makes up 85 percent of banner ad clicks, so you’re generating traffic from the same small group of people.

    Note: Depending upon the audience you’re targeting, ad blocking software may be more or less of a problem. But if you’re advertising to a tech-savvy, Millennial audience, ad blockers will be a big issue, Petersen predicts.

    “So how exactly will advertising have to adapt to the threat of ad blockers?,” wrote Petersen in her post. “We will give stronger consideration to the areas unaffected by ad blockers. They don’t block search ads. They don’t block amplified social content. They don’t block influencer blog posts, or emails, or sponsored white papers. And they don’t block content.” 

    Smart marketers recognize that ad blocker software is unable to stop advertiser’s messages expressed in:

    • LinkedIn Pulse placements,
    • Facebook’s Instant Articles, where the Washington Post and the New York Times publish articles in an environment where those hated ad blockers don’t work,
    • Brandpoint syndicated online columns,
    • Branded entertainment produced by RedBull,
    • PRWeb,
    • Snapchat’s absurdly-expensive $750,000/day evaporating ads, already embraced by McDonald’s and Macy’s, price be damned,
    • Earned PR placements and bylined article submissions,
    • Promoted tweets and,
    • Dozens of other ad blocker defeating marketing tools.

    “To fill the awareness void from blocked display ads, marketers will have to develop smart, shareable content - optimized for search - that consumers want to find, even when they’re not yet ready to make a purchase,” says Petersen. “In other words, marketers will have to create a well-rounded media ecosystem for their brands.”

    If this ad blocking situation sounds like a boon for public relations agencies like ours - which have devoted themselves to producing brand videos, e-books, infographics, white papers, influencer-generated blog posts, bylined commentaries and other content which sails right by ad blockers - yeah, it is.

    After decades of PR being treated as a side dish by advertising agencies that considered paid media the main entree, PR firms are chortling as they claim social media and branded content as their domains. If consumers are less tolerant about being pounded by irrelevant, interruptive and poorly-targeted advertising, PR agencies are only too happy to deliver two-way conversations with consumers, helping clients engage with, rather than just sell to, customers. 

    Here at Maccabee, we’re seeing clients pursuing alternatives to ads that can get their messages out, including paying bloggers for sponsored posts and investing in search-optimized content as eyeballs move from magazines, newspapers and TV to iPhones, Galaxys and iPads.

    Clearly, paid advertising is not going away - eMarketer reports that in 2015, total worldwide ad spending will hit $569.6 billion - but the 5.7 percent worldwide rise in paid advertising this year is chiefly attributed to digital advertising, which is growing 300 percent faster than paid ads in general.

    Even Super Bowl TV spots - and non-Super Bowl, NFL-inspired spots like Anna Kendricks’ hilarious Newcastle Brown Ale ad, which was publicized by Minneapolis-based PR agency Fast Horse - are now less about the ad itself and more about how the spot can serve as a $4.5 million platform around which advertisers build PR and social media campaigns. For more context, read “The Super Bowl-Sized Impact of Social Media on TV.”

    (Source: YouTube)

    Undeniably, the struggle is on - a symbiotic cage match between advertising and PR, both of whom desperately need each other. Without paid advertising to support publishers and broadcasters, PR professionals would have no media outlets to pitch stories to. Legendary advertising titan Sir Martin Sorrell recently dismissed the idea that PR agencies could replace ad agencies as lead creative firms for clients. Sorrell’s critique caused UK PR agency head Warren Johnson to slam back that “the most switched-on communications chiefs increasingly understand that PR agencies are far more likely to come up with the right answers, rather than the most convenient ones; that in a multi-platform world, it’s what you can influence, rather than what you make, that counts.” 

    The good news: The same consumers who say they dislike paid advertising enough to install ad blocking software, seek out (via Google and other search engines) compelling, entertaining and relevant content that meets their needs. Whether you call that sought-after material branded journalism, sponsored content, earned media or just plain PR, it’s the type of story-telling that media relations pros have practiced for years.

    The fact is: Most earned media and PR can’t be blocked the way display advertising can be. As Edelman PR’s chief content strategist, Steve Rubel, recently said: “We may look back on this time as the beginning of the great era of earned media.”

    But not so fast: The reason that so much of the Web is overflowing with free content is because it’s ad-supported. If ad blockers disable online ads, they also strip away the economic vitality of media outlets - from Huffington Post to Those media outlets will either close, seal themselves behind a rigid paywall, or demand non-advertising supported entry fees. This will reduce the number of content venues where PR agencies can insert their content. Adobe and Page Fair estimate that ad blocking software will hurt publishers to the tune of $22 billion in lost revenue in 2015 alone, with a staggering 198 million people globally using ad blocking software.

    So, To Block or Not to Ad Block?

    Well, if Huffington Post, and hundreds of other online sites go the way of such now defunct magazines as Life, Look, All You, Metropolitan Home, Newsweek, Gourmet and CosmoGirl – we chortling PR mavens will have shot bullets into our own collective feet. When it comes to fighting ad blocking, PR firms have common cause with publishers, marketers, and even advertising agencies. To quote the immortal Ben Franklin: “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”


    Paul MaccabeePaul Maccabee is president and co-founder of Maccabee, a Minneapolis-based corporate communications, content marketing, social media and public relations agency.

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    Topics: Interviews, Digital Marketing

    LinkedIn Pulse: The Next Content Marketing Must-Have?

    Posted by Becky Prosser on Oct 14, 2015 6:44:00 AM

    Not too long ago, you, as a marketer, signed into LinkedIn to check your messages, catch up on an old colleague, and maybe update your new profile picture. In the past few years, LinkedIn has made considerable changesmost notably LinkedIn Pulseto transform the business-oriented social network from a recruiting and job-hunting tool to a powerful sales lead-generating channel, and now to a personalized, one-stop shop for business news hub.

    Preceding its $90 million acquisition by LinkedIn back in 2013, Pulse was a news-aggregator app that curated your favorite publications and news sources and presented them in a Flipboard-type manner. Rebranding to “LinkedIn Pulse” in late 2013, the app has quickly become a key part of making LinkedIn a content marketing machine.

    In June, LinkedIn Pulse underwent a substantial redesign of its interface for iOS and Android with one goal in mind – personalization. As you can see at right, the app brings you top stories of the day tailored to each user along with a “Daily Pulse” of curated news every day available for all readers.

    LinkedIn Pulse essentially analyzes what’s being written and aggregates content based on your industry, your connections and what you choose to follow on the network. Additionally, you can decide what kind of articles you would like to see. Similar to the popular dating app Tinder, you can swipe right to ‘save’ an article or left to ‘skip’ it; LinkedIn’s algorithm will tailor future articles for your newsfeed.

    As of July 2015, on average, a typical post reaches professionals in 21 industries and nine countries. Here’s some more numbers for you:

    • There are more than one million unique writers who publish more than 130,000 posts a week on LinkedIn.
    • About 45 percent of readers are in the upper tier of their industries (think managers, vice presidents, CEO, etc.).
    • The industries that generate the highest demand: Technology, financial services and higher education.

    Now’s the time for you, as a business professional and a professional communicator, to leverage the power of LinkedIn Pulse. Here are five benefits of doing so:

    Benefits of Marketing with LinkedIn Pulse

    1) Access to influential people

    This one’s a no-brainer. You essentially have front row access to the decision makers of your industry, so why not take advantage of it?

    Take Arianna Huffington for example.

    As the president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, she would have been inaccessible five years ago. Now, you can follow her feed that’s chock-full of articles ranging from life lessons to introducing new business endeavors. With a following of over three million on LinkedIn, Huffington is an influencer with whom you can instantly connect.

    LinkedIn Pulse also gives you a look into CEOs who do not make headline news on a regular basis. Check out Jeff Morgan, president of Morgan Miller Plumbing in Kansas City. According to Morgan, his posts lead to one new client a week.


    2) Influence and educate people in your network

    LinkedIn Pulse takes your ability to promote your company’s content to a new level by sharing your knowledge in highly targeted ways. As opposed to only writing on your company blog, your content has a higher chance of being discovered on LinkedIn Pulse, because your content will be specifically curated to certain networks with an audience that’s already built for you. Additionally, a notification appears to your followers every time you post on LinkedIn Pulse. If you have 500+ connections, there’s a higher chance your post will be read by your network as opposed to only being searchable on a traditional search engine.

    SAP Chief Digital Officer Jonathan Becher particularly excels at both educating and entertaining content marketing pieces on LinkedIn. He stands out among the 94 percent of B2B marketers who use LinkedIn because of his consumer-first mindset, from insightful thought leadership posts and relating Star Wars to business. Although he is not very active on the platform anymore, this early adopter of Pulse averages thousands of views per article. 


    3) Search engine visibility

    Speaking of traditional search engines, if you search ‘LinkedIn Pulse’ on Google News, you will find the channel receives great visibility. When done strategically, your content could rank on Google easier with LinkedIn than your company blog. 

    A LinkedIn Pulse publisher that embodies great search engine reach is local marketing CEO Lee Odden of Minnesota-based TopRank Online Marketing.


    With hundreds of views on each post, Odden has established a strong following of nearly 4,000 LinkedIn users. He leverages content from other facets of his marketing platformincluding speeches, blog posts and other content offersto great success. Most of his posts receive great engagement in terms of likes, comments and views.

    4) A relatively untouched social platform

    Look at Jeff Jones, the CMO of Target Corp. Last year, he used LinkedIn to admit Target’s faults and shocked the LinkedIn community with his candor. With over 333,000 views and thousands of likes, the post aptly titled ‘The Truth Hurts’ clearly resonated with readers. A public and personalized message is, quite frankly, unheard of from an executive like Jones, especially with a corporation as large as Target. However, at the time, a corporate message would not have had the same effect. LinkedIn Pulse was the perfect avenue for Jeff Jones to voice his opinion and give a real voice and reasons to employees, customers and shareholders.

    5) Reach a different type of audience than your company blog

    Similar to building a devoted base of readers to your corporate blog, on LinkedIn Pulse, you can reach and build up a unique audience. 

    For example, as the top influencer on LinkedIn, Richard Branson is a pro when it comes to creating compelling content that relates to his LinkedIn audience. He shares his secrets to success, shows his personality, and humanizes his brand. In his Pulse articles, Branson focuses on the business rather than a multitude of products with his name on it. He’s curated a following of more than 8.4 million LinkedIn users, certainly a number much higher than his Virgin Group company blog.


    Tips for LinkedIn Pulse

    1) Understand your audience

    Your audience on LinkedIn will be different from your audience on your company blog. Instead of focusing on reaching consumers, marketers are best served writing for a business-minded audience. With that being said, blog posts that you would put on your company blog may not be the best option to repurpose on LinkedIn Pulse. 

    Stumped on where to start for ideas? LinkedIn recommends posts that give:

    • Tangible advice for young professionals,
    • Specifics industry problems, and
    • Fundamental job skills that your company benefits from.

    2) Get to know LinkedIn Pulse

    Before you begin posting away on the platform, be sure to read what is trending on Pulse. Devour what your connections, influencers and people in your industry are saying to avoid repetitive content and also take note of writing styles. Typically, Pulse articles are written similarly to an informal dialogue than a college essay. Be authentic and let your voice show when writing.

    Additionally, be wary of posting just for posting’s sake. Whether it’s new content or repurposed content, ensure your articles are thoughtful and unique enough for your audience to gain something valuable to inspire commenting and sharing.

    3) Start the conversation

    Also, just posting content is not enough. Participation is a key part of Pulse. The best posters are starting conversations and asking for their readers to engage in topics.

    Pulse is an investment; it will take time and should not be viewed as a quick solution. You don’t build a following overnight, so reach your audience by reading other users’ articles, liking their posts, and showing that you’re listening. It’s a two-way street and the bigger picture is more than you and your brand.

    4) Format posts for social visibility

    This is a key step in getting your LinkedIn Pulse post noticed. First and foremost, follow the ‘write-for-web’ guidelines as you would for a traditional blog post. Additionally, keep your voice authentic and share your opinion when needed.

    Use images every chance you get. An image header makes or breaks engagement on your LinkedIn Pulse post. If you need tips on how to create a strong image, check out this HubSpot guide or MaccaPR post on graphic tips for non-designers. As for additional images, find a happy medium. An image every three to five paragraphs is usually a good rule of thumb. This rule also works for links.

    Got rich media? Great; throw it in the post. Bonus points if it is a Slideshare, one of LinkedIn’s partners.

    Take some time when deciding your title for the article and check out what is working on LinkedIn. After looking at what is trending currently, I found that:

    • 10 out of the first 30 headlines had a question mark included,
    • Only two articles contained a number in the headline, and
    • Top topics included hiring, customer service and professional development tips.

    Length also matters. Your post should be longer than three paragraphs with a sweet spot around 1,000 words or more.

    Lastly, don’t forget to tag your post – you can use up to three to reach your audience.

    5) Consider time of publishing

    Just like there’s an optimal time for posting on Facebook and Pinterest, there is also an optimal time, according to blogger Geoff Livingston, to post on LinkedIn – Monday through Friday during business hours with an emphasis on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. You can reach optimal viewing by targeting times when people will most likely be at their desks. When possible, avoid publishing during the “dead zone” hours between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. when many business professionals are sleeping. 

    6) Drive traffic back to your site

    This step is crucial because it is how all your hard work will pay off. When creating your content, establishing solid call-to-actions throughout your post is necessary. This can be done by linking to previous blog posts, e-books or Slideshare presentations. The main goal is to leave the reader wanting to know more about your company or organization.

    The Future of LinkedIn Pulse

    In 2013, LinkedIn was merely a career-oriented site that I checked every couple months. Now, with LinkedIn Pulse, it is truly a publishing hub; as marketers, we can’t afford to ignore LinkedIn.

    LinkedIn Pulse creates a new kind of marketing unlike Facebook or Twitter. Social users, especially Millennials, are looking for authenticity, not advertising from brands. LinkedIn Pulse gives corporations, large and small, a tremendous opportunity to fulfill this need by marketing content, which shows the genuine side of their business with thoughtful advice and insights from top executives.

    In the next two years, LinkedIn Pulse has the potential to be a great weapon in your content marketing arsenal. 

    For more MaccaTips and Tricks, subscribe to the MaccaPR blog today!

    BeckyProsserBecky Prosser is an Assistant Account Executive with Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency



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    Topics: Blogging, LinkedIn, Content Marketing

    How To Get Started with Content Marketing [SlideShare]

    Posted by Christina Milanowski on Oct 5, 2015 5:08:00 AM

    It may go without saying that content marketing is one of the most discussed topics among public relations professional and marketers this year, a practice which centers on really great, high-quality content. As proof, a Content Marketing Institute survey found:

    70% of B2B marketers are creating more content than they did one year ago.

    Woah! Here at MaccaPR, we've blogged about content marketing a number of times (e.g."4 Big Content Marketing Lessons from General Mills, 3M, Ameriprise Financial & SCHERMER," "Become Epic with Content Marketing: Interview with author Joe Pulizzi," and "5 Eye-Opening Lessons From 'Epic Content Marketing'"). The basis of my recent presentation at the Social Media Rockstar event in southwest Minnesota, brought to life a question that might be at the tip of content marketers' tongues: How do we know what quality content really is and where to get started?

    Voila! We bring you five steps to navigate the implementation of your very own content marketing strategy.

    Step 1: Gain Buy-In of Senior Leadership

    The first step in getting started with content marketing at your organization is by aligning your strategy with your C-suite. Get them excited by first and foremost doing your research and presenting to them data and statistics about the power of content marketing. For example, did you know:

    Buyers go through 57% of the purchasing process before even talking to sales, according to the Corporate Executive Board?

    Further, tap into the competitive spirit of the company and share how your rivals are already setting themselves apart through content marketing. Explain that content marketing is not just a marketing strategy, but a benefit for sales. Also, in the beginning, ensure you focus on low hanging fruit so that you can report back on quick wins. This will help keep your sales team and senior leadership jazzed about your content marketing efforts.

    Step 2: Document Your Content Marketing Strategy

    doc(Source: Content Marketing Institute)

    Make sure you put pen to paper and write down your content marketing strategy! According to annual Content Marketing Institute research, those with a documented content marketing strategy are:

    • Far more likely to consider themselves effective at content marketing
    • Far less challenged with every aspect of content marketing
    • Generally more likely to consider themselves more effective with every tactic and social media channel
    • Able to justify a higher percentage of the marketing budget to be spent on content marketing

    There are no universal templates for developing a strategy, but a few common elements to make it relevant to your organization, as follows:

    • Set goals: Your strategy must clearly outline your key business and customer needs, and how your content efforts will address them. Don't put content out for content’s sake. As Brain Traffic's Kristina Halvorson has said, "Necessarily, the content strategist must work to define not only which content will be published, but why we're publishing it in the first place." Think through the purpose of your content -- is it inbound traffic, new lead, shareability, or engagement with key audiences?
    • Determine brand voice: Next, you must determine the brand voice for your content. In a nutshell, your company’s voice is the heart and soul of your communications. More than specific words and phrases, your brand voice is the tone in which you speak to and connect with your audience. It can be authoritative, informative, fun or just plain witty, but whatever it is, it needs to be one very important thing: authentic – and it needs to shine through in your content.
    • Understand your buyer and select target audiences: A key part of understanding your content strategy is knowing your audience. I know, I know, that's a phrase thrown around in nearly every marketing or PR article, but it's true. A marketer must know his or her audience. Layer onto that the concept of the sales funnel. Knowing the journey your customer might go on as they go down the path of 'What do I need?,' Why do I need it from you?,' and 'Why should I buy now?'moving-leads-through-sales-funnel
    • Map out content: Plan for content that will solve your buyers’ needs and drive them down the sales funnel. The Maccabee agency published an entire post on content best practices. Then, match up content types to your audience and stage of the funnel. Here's just a sampling of popular content types: blogs, case studies, e-books, e-newsletters, events, infographics, microsites, presentations, research reports, videos, webinars and white papers.
    • Develop your promotion plan: Marketing to your content is so important to ensure your target audience has the opportunity to find it. As the saying goes, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" Here's an example of the multiple waysfrom social media to paid ads and association cross-promotions to emailour PR agency helped our client RBA, Inc. market its recent content offer of a customer journey infographic.

    Step 3: Get Started

    After you've created your content marketing plan, it's time to get started! Our friend Catherine Mandler of Deluxe Corp shared her tips for how to continuously improve her inbound marketing strategy.

    1. Start Small
    2. Prioritize
    3. Be Inclusive
    4. Understand Who You’re Talking to First
    5. Test Regularly
    6. Small Changes Can Mean Big Success
    7. Think about the Next Step
    8. Rely on Good Data 

    Read the full interview, "Q&A with Inbound Marketer Catherine Mandler from Deluxe Corp.," for more specifics on how to get started.

    Step 4: Measure Success

    One key way for improvement (and to ensure continual investment from the C-suite) is to measure success. For our client, the National Theatre for Children (NTC), we measured success first and foremost by our goal of producing qualified leads, which we exceed by nearly 100%! Our goal was 100 downloads of its targeted e-book, "7 Strategies to Power Up Your CFO’s Support: How to Get Money For Your DSM Programs." But, the NTC's content marketing campaign produced more than 190 e-book downloads!

    The return on investment from content marketing tends to measured in four main areas.

    • Consumption (e.g. views, time on site, social media mentions)
    • Sharing (e.g. forwards, social media engagement, inbound links)
    • Leads (e.g. contact form downloads, blog subscribers or comments, conversion rates)
    • Sales (e.g. new business) 

    Anecdotal evidence is important too. For example, hearing that prospects mentioned reading your e-book to a salesperson; that's the equivalent of pure gold!

    Step 5: Learn by Doing

    It's all about rinsing and repeating or, as I often say, learning by doing. Your documented strategy likely doesn’t stop after just one content offer. At its best, content marketing is all about creating and distributing a healthy stream of content to attract and acquire your clearly defined audience. Rinse and repeat!

    For more about content marketing, check out "Content Marketing 101: The Basics of Content Marketing," my recent Social Media Rockstar event presentation on the topic.

    Share your tips with us on how to get started with content marketing, in the comment section below!

    Christina Milanowski
     is vice president and social media director at Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency.



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    Topics: On the Road, Content Marketing

    12 Secrets To Protecting Your Brand From Celebrity Scandals

    Posted by Paul Maccabee on Sep 14, 2015 5:00:00 AM

    Source: News Watch 33, ABC Action News

    Marketers watched with astonishment this year as the Subway restaurant chain’s brand - once valued by Forbes at $6.8 billion, putting it on the magazine’s list of Most Valuable Brands - imploded, as the company flailed about when spokesperson Jared Fogle agreed to a plea deal involving child sex and porn. Our public relations world promptly erupted with crisis advice, recommending what Subway - which had featured the now self-admitted molester in some 300 ads over 15 years - should have done after it learned that the face of its brand had committed acts which guarantee that its $5 foot-long will forever be associated with a pedophile.  

    Were Subway’s tight-lipped tweet responses too little too late?


    Should Subway try to reverse the damage by giving money to charities that protect children? Did Subway distance themselves from their spokesperson too fast or too slow - or is it now impossible to separate the prison-bound Jared from his distraught sponsor?

    Yet, few have asked the more urgent question that faces all brands in this era when smartphones guarantee that a spokes-celebrity’s scandals will be documented for viral eternity: Why wait to act until a brand’s spokesperson is arrested, convicted and imprisoned, his perp walk (and your brand’s collapse) documented across America?

    Were there protective steps that companies like Subway, Jell-O (Bill Cosby’s former patron); Wal-Mart, Target and Home Depot (sponsors of disgraced Southern cooking belle, Paula Deen); Nike, AT&T, Gillette, Gatorade and Tag Heuer (which hired Tiger Woods to endorse their products) and RadioShack and 24-Hour Fitness (sponsors of cyclist Lance Armstrong) could have taken before their endorsers caused collateral damage to their reputations?

    For answers, we visited with Minneapolis sports and entertainment attorney Lee Hutton, whose clients have included singer Puff Daddy, ex-Kardashian family member and NBA player Kris Humphrey and NFL’er Hank and wife Kendra “The Girls Next Door” Baskett. We expect that Lee’s advice for marketers considering an endorsement deal with a celebrity will intrigue you:

    #1 - Negotiate a Contract That Sets Boundaries of Celebrity Behavior

    First off, Hutton (below right) underscores that an effective endorsement contract between a brand and a celebrity or athlete should be written broadly so it sets parameters on what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior by the Famous One. “It’s good to set those boundaries of behavior in your brand’s contract,” says Hutton, “because otherwise, a courtroom will decide if the actions of your celebrity endorser warrant consequences - and once you’re in court, the dispute gets into the public eye, with exposure that’s bad for both the celebrity and your brand.” Hutton recommends that brands insert a morals clause which, in his words, “sets out ‘what ifs’ protecting both the celebrity and the brand if the endorser engages in something scandalous.“The devil is in the details,” says Hutton. “What, for example, would happen if your spokesperson is merely accused of some salacious activity, but that malfeasance is never proven? Your contract should address that.” 

    #2 - Identify Who Speaks To The Press If Everything Hits the Fan

    PR executives take note of Huttons’ next advice about celebrity agreements. “I insert a clause in these contracts that identifies who controls communications with the media during a crisis,” says Hutton. “Face it, the message that the brand wants to get out may not be the same that the athlete or celebrity wants to share during a crisis. Who speaks to the press often depends upon money - the brand may pay the celebrity more money so that his or her contract requires your PR director to be the point of contact with media in the event of a crisis, rather than the athlete or his/her team.” 

    #3 - Decide In Advance Who Controls Media Outreach During A Crisis

    Hutton says that an endorsement contract can specify what happens if a crisis occurs - not just who is authorized to speak to the media, but also who issues any press releases. Who makes strategic decisions on the message to be distributed, as the scandal gathers steam? An endorsement contract may even specify whether your brand can publicly announce that you’ve terminated your contract with a celebrity who transgressed, or if that termination must be done confidentially, behind closed doors.

    #4 - Go Sherlock Holmes On Your Endorser

    Could Subway have detected ominous warnings about Jared’s deviant behavior, or could Jell-O have uncovered hints about Bill Cosby’s nefarious activities, long before their scandals sullied Subway and Jell-O’s brands? “You must do your due diligence and investigate a celebrity or athlete before you sign a contract - it’s negligent not to,” warns Hutton. “If you hire an athlete to do a TV event involving children, and it comes out that your celebrity is a sex offender - your company could be sued along with the athlete.” (Note: Subway’s spokesperson, Jared, appeared at elementary schools to speak to children about obesity).


    (Source: Flickr)

    #5 - Establish Warranties Tied to A Celebrity’s Past Behavior

    Hutton recommends that marketers interview a potential celebrity or athlete to establish what entertainment lawyers call ‘warranties’ - representations that the celebrity makes about their own personal lives which, in legal terms, ‘induces a brand to hire them.’ If a spokesperson represents that they have no secrets pertaining to drugs or criminal activity, for example, “you can establish fraud if they lie about those representations - and when there’s fraud, the judicial system works to make things whole again for your company, which could include rescinding the contract if it was violated.” 

    #6 - Watch For Red Flags on Social Media and Beyond

    “Before you sign a deal, ask the athlete or celebrity to sign an authorization allowing you to perform a full background check,” urges Hutton. “Will he or she refuse and if they do, is that refusal a red flag for you? In fact, sometimes when you discuss a background check, the celebrity will come out and disclose something in their past that they expect you’ll find out anyway.” Hutton suggests requesting that a celebrity share their social media codes, so your company can delve into how they use Facebook and other social channels before signing. “Is the celebrity doing impulsive tweeting that could embarrass your brand? Are their thousands of followers real people? Has the celebrity posted offensive images on Instagram that suggest red flags?” asks Hutton. 

    #7 - Even With Celebrities, The Past is Prologue

    ICON Global CEO Elijah Shaw (left), a Los Angeles-based corporate security and personal protection expert whose clients have included Usher, Prince and Naomi Campbell, adds his own counsel. “Celebrity by nature has a built-in ‘trust factor’ - the assumption that because these people are in the public eye, any tarnishes would have already come to light and therefore, more extensive vetting gets overlooked,” says Shaw. “That opinion is changing as new scandals come to light that have their roots in the past. “

    Although celebrities appear to live under a media microscope, doing a background check on a celebrity is no easy task, adds Shaw. “Being a celebrity opens up a treasure trove of potential research material, as their movements, associations and history are usually documented. With that said, notable celebrities take great lengths to protect their privacy and sanitize information.”

    According to federal law enforcement documents, Subway spokesperson Fogle had begun soliciting prostitutes as far back as 2007. Bill Cosby had served as spokesperson for Jell-O for 25 years after his first spot aired in 1974, meaning that accusations of sexual assault overlapped directly with his years as Jell-O’s spokesperson. It’s likely that a background check by a competent private investigator could have alerted both brands to the dark clouds soon to engulf them. 

    #8 - Understanding What Makes The Celebrity Of Value To Your Brand

    Hutton suggests that what brands want most from a celebrity is one thing: stability. That means not only avoiding scandals, but also ensuring that nothing changes in an athlete’s performance as a champion. “Brands can put a clause into a contract that prohibits any action taken by the athlete that prevents the company from making money off their celebrity,” says Hutton. “For example, sponsors hired Tiger Woods because he was #1 in golf. The brands didn’t want to say to their consumers - wear our shoes or our watch and you’ll be a runner-up. No, marketers want to say, use our product and you too will be #1.”

    #9 - Know What Your Brand And Your Celebrity Stand For

    “Before your brand signs a contract with a celebrity, you have to understand the culture of your consumer,” says Hutton. If your company sells beer, snuff and guns, then incidents involving a brand ambassador abusing alcohol, tobacco and weapons may not sully your brand with that particular audience. “But if your company’s brand stands for healthy living and wellness, then your spokesperson's arrest for driving while intoxicated or on drugs would be a big violation. Or, what if they ride a motorcycle under the influence, and the celebrity is an endorser for Harley-Davidson?”

    Yet, the moral sense of each generation changes, along with what might become a deal-breaking scandal for a brand. On one hand, General Mills hired Cheech & Chong, America’s most famous marijuana tokers, to promote Fiber One “magic” brownies in a hilarious 2.5-minute fake movie trailer. Meanwhile, Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps lost an endorsement with Kellogg when he was seen on video with a bong, followed in 2014 by a drunk driving plea.

    Would the revelation that Hollywood leading men Tab Hunter (an endorser for Gillette) and Rock Hudson (a spokesperson for Desoto automobiles and other brands) were secretly gay be devastating for their sponsors today as it might have been in their 1950s heydays? No one thinks twice today about Ellen DeGeneres endorsing American Express, Covergirl, J.C. Penney and Galceau VitaminWater - her coming out was barely an issue with her millions of fans. 

    #10 - All Scandals Are Not Created Equal

    (Source: Flickr)

    “Consequences can be very individual,” notes Hutton. “Both Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan were number one in their respective sports; and it came out that both had been promiscuous with women. Nike kept their sponsorship active with Jordan, but not with Tiger Woods.” The sponsors of the Rolling Stones’ world tours (Citi, Jovan perfume, E-Trade) know well that they’re attaching their brands to the Bad Boys of Rock - if notoriously dissolute Keith Richards (above) were arrested at an orgy in Paris tonight splashing in a cocaine fountain with three nubile, tattooed 17-year-olds, it would only increase the guitarist’s value for sponsors. But acceptance of a celebrity’s transgressions have limits: Will anyone be able to watch the TV spots of O.J. Simpson running through airports for Hertz without thinking of his white Ford Bronco police chase and subsequent trial for a double-murder? 

    #11 - Be In Direct Contact With Your Celebrity Endorser

    “Your brand should have someone in direct daily contact with the celebrity, long after the contract is signed,”
    urges Hutton. “Face it, the success of a brand can be completely intertwined with the success of an athlete or performer’s career - a Tiger Woods virtually becomes an extension or a department of your company.” How could sponsors know about Tiger Woods’ personal issues if they weren’t in daily contact with him?

    (Source: AdWeek)

    #12 - Know Your Celebrity’s Entourage

    Finally, Hutton advises brands to meet with the entire team around a celebrity - his or her agent, manager, and publicist. “Is there a sleaze factor? What relationship does your celebrity have with their entertainment attorney - who will the athlete turn to for advice before or during a crisis?”

    So, are the benefits worth the hazards of linking your brands to a superstar?

    “Celebrity endorsements are riskier than ever,” grumbled ad agency SVP Jim Gentleman in AdAge recently. “When they go bad, the costs are immeasurable and the brand damage is difficult to overcome. Don’t be surprised if Subway’s next campaign features a talking sandwich...that is sure to never embarrass the company.” 

    Given the propensity of some celebrities to indulge in illicit and/or illegal behavior, some brands may indeed find animated spokes-toons like Geico’s talking Gecko, dead celebrities like Elvis and Marilyn Monroe, and even fictional spokespeople like Allstate’s Mayhem and Progressive’s Flo more appealing. Face it, Charlie the Tuna, Mr. Clean and the Geico cavemen won’t be arrested in a brothel or heroin den anytime soon.

    should brands be wary of hitching their product to a celebrity’s fame?

    “No question, the situations with Lance and Tiger caused many brands to be more cautious about endorsements,” sighs Hutton. “But I tell my clients - don’t fear what isn’t inevitable.

    “First off, Millennial consumers see celebrities as an essential component of the personality of a brand.” But more importantly, Hutton notes that it’s virtually impossible for a brand to perform a national social media marketing campaign without a celebrity as the voice of their social channels. The Rolling Stones’ 2013 “50 and Counting” tour partnership generated 747 million social media impressions for the band and its sponsors, according to AdWeek - with Mssr. Jagger and Company engaging with more than 5 million users on Twitter alone. “You need a celebrity and you need their social media followers,” concludes Hutton, even if there are risks.

    “How can you tweet out to millions of consumers without having a human face - a celebrity or an athlete’s face - to bring your brand’s social media messages to life? You just can’t!”


    Paul MaccabeePaul Maccabee is president of Maccabee, a Minneapolis public relations, social media marketing and online communications agency. His firm has worked with celebrities including actor Jeff Bridges, NFL legend Walter Payton and country music singer Trisha Yearwood.

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    Topics: Crisis Communications

    5 Ways to Get Your Sales Team Jazzed about Your Inbound Marketing

    Posted by Christina Milanowski on Sep 10, 2015 5:27:00 AM

    Greetings from Inbound15, the annual inbound marketing conference held by Boston-based HubSpot. I'm on assignment from Maccabee (yes, that's me in the photo below) to learn more about how some of HubSpot's 15,000 customers are using the discipline of inbound marketing to pull visitors (potential prospects, clients and customers) in, rather than having to push out with traditional tactics like advertising to gain prospects' attention.

    So far, Inbound15 opened with keynote speakers from author/blogger Seth “Permission Marketing” Godin, “Gifts of Imperfection” author Brene Brown, and HubSpot co-founders Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan, and break-out sessions covering related topics including measurement and email marketing tips and tricks. In full disclosure, Maccabee is a partner agency of HubSpot and we use the software to power our own agency's inbound marketing efforts, which include this blog!


    Of note was the "Get Sales Jazzed about Inbound Marketing" session from Jenifer Kern, VP of Marketing for Virginia-based creative, digital and management consultancy, Celerity. It's the age-old question (and tension) within many organizations... how can sales and marketing work well together?

    In the ideal world, she said, marketing and sales would go together like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You want a seamless melding (no one wants just a jelly sandwich). So, how can you unite the sales team with your marketing department's inbound marketing practice? She preached these five lessons for chief marketing officers, PR professionals and digital marketing specialists who currently or about to leverage inbound marketing:

    1. Start with the Top Dogs 


    As you implement an inbound marketing practice, gain the buy-in of senior leadership. In Kern's case, she aligned with the C-suite. To do this, she tapped into the competitive spirit of the CEO, showing how competitors were outperforming Celerity and, of course, how inbound marketing could outperform rivals. Focus on low-cost opportunities... think: what are the low hanging fruit that will produce quick, inexpensive wins? Finally, be sure to assemble internal superstars who want to see inbound marketing efforts succeed. 

    2. Expand the Sales Universe 

    Kern next described her own efforts in showing to her sales team that inbound marketing is not just a marketing strategy, but a benefit for sales. Inbound marketing can help expand the sales universe through active generation of more sales-ready leads and, ultimately, more revenue. Plus, she pointed out that it's not a threat to existing outbound sales efforts, but a complement. 

    3. Talk Up Inbound Marketing Successes 

    Don't just communicate, but over-communicate successes. When deploying an inbound marketing program, don't be shy or humble. Kern's own boss recommended she be loud about successes, so inbound marketing internally became a positive. Still, be sure to be transparent about efforts and the work it takes to continually fine-tune and perfect the strategy. 

    4. Finding the Right Harmony 

    "If you don’t like sales, get out of marketing," said Kern unapologetically. To be a good marketer, it's important to be in tune with sales. She does this by walking in their shoes, listening to sales calls, and talking to customers. Plus, she's learned what makes the sales team tick by creating a persona. Common aspects of sales professionals, she said, include being driven to succeed, strong family bonds, problem solver, resilient and positive, competitive, easily distracted, and on the move.

    5. Make It Ridiculously Easy

    For a sales team, which is often on-the-go, Kern emphasized making access to inbound marketing super easy. This means, signing on the sales reps to mobile-friendly platforms like HubSpot, providing data and reports in easy-to-digest dashboards, and giving them quick access to timely customer interactions. 

    Leverage these tips and your inbound marketing efforts are sure to more seamlessly integrate with sales efforts. For more great counsel from Jenifer Kern, read her recent, "What's Jazz Got To Do With It?" blog post. 

    ...and stay tuned for more key learnings and buzz from Inbound15!

    ChristinaMilanowskiChristina Milanowski is vice president and social media director at Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency.

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    Topics: Inbound Marketing, On the Road

    6 Awesome Examples of How To Leverage Corporate History in Brand Storytelling

    Posted by Christina Milanowski on Aug 26, 2015 5:09:00 AM


    You’re scrolling through Facebook and your past posts - with images recalling a five-year-old inside joke, best friend’s wedding, or favorite family vacation at the lake - spark memories that come flooding back like it was yesterday. Those feelings of nostalgia and a shared past bring our history to life, which allow us to collectively reminisce on social media about the way things were (or the way we’d like to remember them!)

    Your brand can share storytelling moments from its company history with your key stakeholders, too. Corporate histories are important to customers, employees, business partners, and community members. Your corporate story can prove that sound business decisions have been made along the way, pay respect to your employees, build goodwill, and demonstrate long-lasting corporate strength.

    But, it takes strategic insight and smart planning to communicate a brand’s history well. From legacy videos and anniversary books to corporate birthday events and digital archives, what follows are five ways smart brands have leveraged their company histories in brand storytelling.

    1. Legos' Corporate History Video

    Although 17-minutes-long, the Lego brand video is a shining example of how engaging the medium of video can be in communicating a corporate history story that's true to its brand.  

    Produced by Danish agency Lani Pixels, the animated film was lauded by Contently for surpassing more than one million views in less than a week. "By telling the story of how Lego came to be, consumers are getting a behind the scenes look, and, simultaneously, learning about the people who built it. When customers get this rare glimpse, they tend to feel more connected to the company."

    Plus, as Contently goes on to say, "a good story will make a brand seem unique among similar fierce competition." The video, narrated by the grandson of Lego founder Ole Kirk Christiansen, was created to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Lego brand.

    2. The New York Times Digital Archives

    The digital age has allowed companies to tell their histories in new ways (and not just in online videos). The New York Times TimesMachine is a best-in-class example of how a brand can digitize its archives to engage its audiences. As a newer service offering, TimesMachine provides The New York Times subscribers with a fully searchable archive of past newspapers, such as the July 20, 1969, article, "The Day Before The Moon Landing." The archive indexes papers from 1980 back to the paper's founding in 1851. 

    On the launch of TimesMachine, Fast Company writer Nick Rappolt in “Why Brands Should Mine Their Archives” says: “Instead of leaving back issues to grow dust, the paper unlocked the value of its old content with TimesMachine, which resurfaces historic interviews and features to give context to current news stories, boost reader dwell time and cultivate a strong brand story as a long-established ‘newspaper of record.'"

    Even if your company doesn’t have nearly 165 years’ worth of content under its belt, there’s still more than you might think to curate and share electronically. For example, the UK supermarket chain Sainbury’s posted stories, old pamphlets, vintage photos and photos of cool, old grocery items in its dynamic, “living archive” collection.


    (Source: The New York Times)

    3. Levi Strauss' Online Content

    Another great example of digitized history comes from the 162-year-old Levi Strauss brand. Levi Strauss transforms its archived content through robust online channels, which include: 

    • A dedicated "Our Story" section on its website complete with historic photos, a heritage timeline, and resources for educators on the invention of blue jeans, and
    • The "Unzipped" brand publishing platform that offers "a deeper look inside Levi Strauss" through Throwback Thursday vintage photos and blog posts on its culture and social progress. 

    Says Levi Strauss' historian Lynn Downey in its "Our Story" video, "Not a place where old stuff goes to die, [our] archives is a living breathing part of the company and a very, very important contributor to the business." For more on Levi Strauss’ use of brand history storytelling, check out the recent Entrepreneur article, "How Levi's Became a Brand With Staying Power."


    (Source: Unzipped)

    4. Branded History Museums

    Brands of all kinds, whether B2B or B2C, have made the ultimate investment in telling their corporate stories by erecting museums, temples paying tribute to their past. Examples include:

    • The World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, Georgia, puts on display the soft drink brand’s old advertisements and bottle memorabilia, as well as a vault containing the secret formula.
    • Wells Fargo's 11 museums across the U.S house historic artifacts, including real stagecoaches, gold nuggets reminiscent of the Gold Rush, and old-timey telegraphs.
    • Hormel’s SPAM brand has a dedicated museum near the company’s processing plant in Austin, Minnesota (aptly dubbed SPAM Town USA). In fact, the now 12-year-old museum of the 78-year-old brand is undergoing renovations for a new, decidedly less canned museum experience. Stay tuned in 2016!
    • Ben & Jerry’s factory in Burlington, Vermont, features a flavor graveyard of its past ice cream flavors such as Vermonty Python and One Sweet Whirled.


    5. Kemps’ Experiential Anniversary

    If your brand isn’t ready for a permanent installation - or even a partial display of heritage in your lobby - why not takes your corporate history on tour? Just one year ago, our firm helped client Kemps Dairy celebrate its 100th anniversary. After a century of producing delicious dairy products, Kemps sought to creatively brings its past into the future.

    What ensued was the creation of a 53-foot-long Mobile Mooseum. The semi-trailer truck paid homage to Kemps’ frozen dessert products, dairy history and heritage. It contained an 8-foot-long electronic mooing cow sculpture and even an actor playing a “soda jerk” operating a vintage 1940s ice cream soda fountain, followed by a Guinness Book of World Records-breaking event (Read more about the World’s Largest Scoop of Ice Cream in “4 Marketing Secrets for Viral GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS”). In sum, Kemps’ anniversary was a great example of how to give a brand’s corporate history a whole new life.



    6. GNP Company’s Souvenir Booklet

    For our PR agency’s client, GNP Company, Minnesota-based producers of the nationally-known brands of Just BARE® and Gold’n Plump® chicken, we helped chronicle the company’s family-owned history of nearly 90 years following the retirement announcement from third-generation CEO Mike Helgeson. Tasked with chronicling the GNP Company history and Helgeson family legacy, we dove deeply into the company’s archives, along with memorabilia from Helgeson family members and local historical societies. We went on to interview Helgeson, his son, his father, a half dozen retired employees and current leadership.

    From start to finish, the history project was completed in 12 weeks, just in time for team member meetings and retirement events in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The souvenir booklet - a 40-page document with a “Which Came First?” chicken and egg theme, French fold pages and pullout chronological timeline - was printed on 100 percent post-consumer waste fiber with vegetable-based inks, which was important given the company’s focus on social responsibility.

    The booklet was gifted to more than 2,000 GNP Company team members and family farm partners, as well as dozens of community members and business partners.


    (Source: GNP Company)

    Throughout the process of gathering old stories and files, many employees past and present remarked that the history project was long overdue. Employees and communities want to hear about the history of local companies, but companies don’t often devote the time, money or bandwidth to kick start the preservation of their legacy.

    How To Tell Your Corporate History

    So, where can PR and marketing staff get started in telling their brand’s story? Here are Maccabee’s lessons for undertaking such a project:

    • Gain the buy-in of senior leadership. Develop a strategic plan that goes beyond the feel-good benefits of the project and points to the positive bottom-line effects your project can have.
    • Know your end goals and an idea of your output. It will help to stay focused when the project inevitably growers larger than you expect.
    • Set a deadline. Without a due date, a brand history project may never get done.
    • Being collecting memorabilia - Now! Even if you don’t plan to take on the project for years, beginning to capture images and files in one central place can help save time when you do get started.
    • Curate, curate, curate. You don’t know what you’ve got until you go looking for it. Developing an archival program can be a daunting task, especially when company archives seems so closely related to the boring task of storing old files.
    • Leverage relationships. Speak to your community resources, such as historical societies, libraries and newspapers. Trade media and industry trade groups can also be of great help.
    • Get the work done and find other uses. In the case of GNP Company, the historical content was compiled for the souvenir booklet, but was then available to be repurposed for future initiatives, such as employee orientations and in-office signage.  

    In a marketing world trapped by so much corporate sameness, capitalizing on your brand’s long and storied history can make a big difference. Play on your employees’ and customers’ feelings of nostalgia. Dare to reveal your corporation's personality and resiliency over the years. Showing your key audiences that you're unique and relatable will help you meet achievable business goals, and the chance to celebrate your brand’s second 100 year anniversary!

    ChristinaMilanowskiChristina Milanowski is vice president and social media director at Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency.

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    Topics: Corporate Communications, Brand Strategy, Content Curation, Internal Communications

    To Byline or Not: 5 Reasons Why Your Blog Should Identify Its Authors

    Posted by Paul Maccabee on Aug 5, 2015 5:06:00 AM


    Must your company identify the author of each of your blog’s posts with a byline? Or is it an acceptable social media best practice to publish blog posts that are credited to an anonymous company voice?

    That seemingly simple question - asked of our Minneapolis PR firm last month by a client - reminded me of what happened with the first corporate blog our firm helped create. A prominent Twin Cities technology company wanted our help in launching a blog that would distribute a stream of commentary about new state and federal regulations that affected hundreds of key clients. But who would be credited as the author of these posts? We recommended then that each post be credited to the executive in charge of tracking those very regulations - the thought leader who was the source of that knowledge. Let’s call her ‘Tina.’ The resulting ‘Tina’s Blog” proved wildly popular with its narrowly-focused, but enormously lucrative, audience. When Tina would wander across trade show floors, prospects would spy her name tag, grab her arm and treat her like a celebrity: “Oh, my God - are you Tina? We love your blog!” 

    That’s the power of business blogging at its best: personal, expert and human content that ignites a back-and-forth conversation between your company and the customers with whom you want to build long-term relationships - and revenue.

    5 Reasons Your Blog Should Identify Its Authors

    So how should your company handle the authorship of your blog? With some help from General Mills’ Manager of Corporate Social Media Kevin Hunt, Digital Missile managing director Gabriel Israel Grinberg and Deluxe’s earned media director Adam Dince, we answer the Hamlet-esque question, “To byline or not to byline.” Why should you name the authors of your corporate blog posts? Let me count the ways…

    1. Bylined Bloggers Infuse Your Company With Humanity, Personality

    KevinHuntGMQuote“Establishing that your company’s blog is written by an actual person,” says our agency’s social media director, Christina Milanowski, “not only helps to advance your expert positioning and thought leadership platform - it also makes your content more relatable from a human perspective.”

    That’s arguably the reason PepsiCo paid singer Beyoncé $50 million to serve as its spokes-celebrity and endorser. There’s no corporate personality for consumers to grab onto with giant PepsiCo, but grafting Beyonce’s charisma and popularity on the 274,000-employee, $66+ billion corporation helps humanize it.

    Your blog authors - if identified by name - can serve that same purpose. “Readers of corporate blogs want information, but they also want some personality from it - a unique point of view or perspective,” says Kevin Hunt (left), who manages the lively “Taste of General Mills” blog. “They want to see a face and a name on the posts, so they can weigh the experience or role that the author brings to that blog.”

    2. Bylined Bloggers Suggest You Have a Broad Bank of Talent

    There’s more to the historic lineups of the New York Yankees than Babe Ruth or Alex Rodriguez - there’s also Derek Jeter, Yogi Berra, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle and more. And there’s more to the Rolling Stones than Mick and Keith (well, not MUCH more, but Charlie Watts is still pretty awesome). Similarly, by clearly identifying the roster of up to five bloggers who contribute to your company’s content, you make explicit the depth and breadth of your talent. 

    John Lincoln of San Diego’s Ignite Visibility adds, “Research shows that 63 percent of people feel multiple authors promote the credibility of a blog, when compared to a single author or no stated author.” Check out the ‘Taste of General Mills” blog, which credits no fewer than 125 authors, a mosaic of intertwined blog voices for General Mills. “I’m a big believer in corporate blogs having a name behind each blog post,” says Hunt, “and that’s been our approach. It’s allowed General Mills to showcase a variety of employees in a variety of roles across the company, each with their own unique voice. Nameless blog posts come across as news releases or statements from corporate communications.”

    3. Bylined Bloggers Build Trust, Loyalty and Engagement

    I love my agency’s lawyer, accountant and banker - but most of my loyalty is not with their law firm, CPA firm or’s with the specific person I’ve grown to trust, not just the institution that employs them.

    So if you cloak your blog’s authors in the invisibility of the Great and Powerful Oz, you miss out on the chance to build trust and loyalty with a human-to-human connection to your audience. What’s more, promoting the authors of your blog is a critical part of establishing employee advocates for your brand – advocates who can extend their value through branded e-books, speeches, webinars, podcasts, infographics, YouTube videos and much more.

    Gabriella Israel Grinberg (below), managing director of the Minneapolis agency Digital Missile and a former social media staffer at Select Comfort and Target Corporation, told us: "Whenever possible, a company blog should identify and highlight authors of its blog posts, for several reasons. First, unless the post is an official company announcement, readers want to know who they are reading and what kind of credibility or credentials the author has. Providing a blog author’s name helps your company develop a following on social media, and also highlights talent within the company. What’s more, providing recognition to employees within your organization allows them to feel more engaged and encourages them (and their peers) to share the blog content with their networks, allowing for greater online distribution.”


    “Second, without an author, your blog post could look 'fake,' meaning the content was just churned out by an intern or third-party content farm,” says Grinberg. “Most importantly, your company should select employees who have a unique blog writing style that matches and/or complements the voice of your company." 

    4. Bylined Bloggers Build Employee Retention

    Marketing directors have confided to us about concerns that if they promote particular employees as blog/social media authors - and those content creators build a following for their posts - the company risks losing that following if the employee moves on.

    AdamDinceQuoteAdam Dince (right), director of Earned Media (SEO, Social and Content Strategy) at Deluxe Corporation, doesn’t buy that argument. “With so much competition for digital talent, many businesses hesitate to highlight their employees’ writing talents through proper blog authorship attribution,” says Dince. “In my opinion, this fear-based mindset is a big mistake. Employees who feel limited in their ability to get credit for the work they do (especially thought leadership work like blogging), will eventually leave and go elsewhere.”

    “But more than that - when employees know that their personal brand is tied to their professional writing, more effort is put into the quality of their posts,” adds Dince. “Take it from someone who has lead and managed teams for years. You’ll experience far greater attrition through stifling employee voices, than being a resource for them to grow and flourish - including through expressing themselves by blogging!”

    Adds General Mills’ Hunt: “I think it’s misguided for companies to be overly concerned about their employees raising their profile by blogging, and possibly leaving for another company. You should want to show the world that you have smart people working for you, and show your employees that you value their thinking. “

    5. Bylined Bloggers Build Search Visibility on Google

    Two words: Author Rank. Okay, three words: Google Author Rank. 

    Why wouldn’t your company take advantage of the Google algorithm that ranks blog authors based on the prominence, influence and topical content of those content producers? In the words of Movable Media’s president Andrew Boer, “Google thinks it is the authors who really matter - since it is authors, not brands, who ultimately create content. So if you only publish a blog with a corporate voice, you are missing out on building up the rank and reputation of your writers.” Resistance is futile: we must identify blog authors as the Google Mothership commands us.

    Every one of the blogs that Forbes’ magazine featured in its “10 B2B Companies That Show What a Killer Blog Looks Like” identifies the author of its posts. But there’s always an exception - consider the case of the Groupon’s blog - Groublogpon-The Serious Blog of Groupon. This B2C blog is essentially anonymous, but vaguely attributed to its feline author, “Cat.” While no human author is listed, the attitude of Groupon’s blog is wickedly subversive - one recent post introduced the new start-up, Grouber, a “revolutionary new car service with feline drivers” that uses “GPS-guided red lasers to signal the correct route to the four-legged kitty captain behind the wheel.”

    *   *   *

    So we must look back to Elizabethan England to ask: why have scholars argued so fiercely about whether William Shakespeare himself (or purported ghostwriters such as Sir Francis Bacon or Edward DeVere) actually wrote William’s plays? Because the identity of an author’s voice matters. Consumers of content - whether it’s of ‘Richard III’ or your company’s next blog post - recognize that knowing the human being responsible for what we’re reading enables us to establish trust. Name your blogger (and his or her expertise), and you’ve empowered your prospects to evaluate whether they should believe (and follow) your blog author.

    (Source: Ben Sutherland)

    In this age when customers value transparency and authenticity above all else, is it anything less than brand suicide to camouflage the authors of your blog content?

    Which is why we end this blog post, as we’ve ended all 100 posts that have appeared in the MaccaPR blog before, with the identification of its respective author.

    But first, here are a few of our favorite clearly-bylined corporate blogs:

    • The HubSpot Blog: A perfect example of a corporate blog that identifies the diverse personalities of each author is this blog from the inbound marketing experts at Boston-based HubSpot. You’ll see that each HubSpot post prominently who the author is, along with the author’s Twitter icon and a clickable link to the author’s biography, head shot photo and best of all, a historical compilation of previous post they’ve created.
    • AdKnowledge Blog: The digital ad technology company AdKnowledge celebrates its five bloggers as “Featured Authors” with head shots and clickable links to the quintet’s latest blog posts. Best of all, each blog author boasts a biography, along with links to their Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn profiles.
    • Canva’s Design School Blog: Another strong example of a multi-authored blog.
    • Intuit’s Labs Blog: Here’s a great example of how Intuit builds trust between prospects and employees - in this case, through a three-part blog series written by Intuit design strategist Amanda O’Grady. Notice how the post opens right away with Amanda’s bio, and how it establishes an intimate, first-person “I love Zappos” tone.

    So who authored the blog post you’re reading now? Read on...

    Paul MaccabeePaul Maccabee is president and co-founder of Maccabee, the Minneapolis-based strategic public relations and online marketing agency. Born at a very early age, he insists that he did not write any of William Shakespeare’s plays. He is a man of mystery, encircled by an enigma, wrapped in a taco. His Mojo works.

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    Topics: Blogging, SEO

    3 Ways Your Brand Can Embrace the Marketing Power of Snapchat

    Posted by Julia Irwin on Jul 20, 2015 5:05:00 AM


    If you’re a social media marketer, the latest buzz isn’t circling around just Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or even LinkedIn. Now, it’s all about snapping. Snapchat is a mobile photo- and video-sharing tool; with 100 million daily active users and 400 million snaps sent each day, it’s one of the top 20 most used smartphone apps in the country. What makes it unique from, say, Instagram, Flickr or Vine is that Snapchat is entirely mobile-based. Additionally, the photos - captured on the sender’s smartphone - have a limited time window for viewing. After opening a snap, the recipient will only be able to view the content for the time span allotted by the sender, which can range anywhere from one to 10 seconds.  

    According to Snapchat research, nearly two-thirds of American adults own a smartphone. More than 60 percent of them use Snapchat, with over a third (37 percent) of those users falling between the ages of 18-24. Alternatively, over a quarter (26 percent) of Snapchat users are between 13 and 17 years old, and just under a quarter (23 percent) of users are 25 to 34 year-olds. So naturally, we must conclude that the majority of Snapchat users are between the ages of 13 and 24, falling into a demographic group that’s the holy grail for marketers: millennials. 

    Now for the million-dollar question (or if you want to get specific, $16-19 billion, Snapchat’s estimated value): Why do Snapchatting brands from McDonald’s, HBO and General Electric to Taco Bell, Acura and Heineken care about a mobile app used by teens and young adults to exchange selfies and pictures of Sunday’s brunch? Answer: because Snapchat’s messaging power extends far beyond that. Let’s walk through the Snapchat features that offer marketing potential for your brand:  

    Your Brand Opportunity #1: Live Stories with brand and consumer-curated content

    How can you paint a picture of your brand’s Snapchat identity when every trace of the image disappears in 10 seconds or less? That’s where ‘Stories’ come in. Snapchat users have the option to submit photos and videos to their individual Stories, which all followers then have the option of viewing as many times as they’d like for 24 hours. For brands, there are ‘Live Stories’, which combine user-curated content with brand-sponsored content, available for viewing by all Snapchat users. This feature evolved from Snapchat’s initial ‘Sponsored Stories’ feature, which launched last fall with a 20-second trailer for Universal’s upcoming film, “Ouija.” The ad appeared at the top of the Stories section with a clear “Sponsored” note, fully disclosing to Snapchat viewers that they were about to watch an ad (if they chose to open it). Studies found that people who viewed the Snapchat trailer for “Ouija” were 13 percent more likely to buy tickets to see the movie on its opening weekend. 

    Source: Adweek

    From October 2014-April 2015, brands used Sponsored Stories with the intention of reaching all Snapchat users, regardless of whether or not they followed the brand’s account. However, now brands have the option to appear as part of a ‘Live Story’, which gathers photo and video content from events or destinations around the world, ranging from fans celebrating the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 in Vancouver, Canada, to daily life in the West Bank. For example, Samsung partnered with the American Music Awards last November to promote its Galaxy Series. The Live Story broadcasted behind-the-scenes, Samsung-branded photos and videos combined with user-generated shots from the crowd and red carpet.

    Source: Ad Age

    According to Snapchat’s data, the number of Stories viewed now surpasses the number of individual Snaps viewed per day, indicating that users are most definitely fans of this feature. Additionally, up to eight times as many 13 to 34 year olds in the US opt to view Snapchat’s Live Stories rather than TV for similar events. Why? Because Stories give users a close-up, firsthand experience - minus the requirement of actually attending your featured event. Instead, they can live vicariously through others’ experiences by watching their curated content. And you can’t get much closer to an experience than by viewing it directly through someone else’s eyes - think of it as an extension of the social TV phenomenon we’ve discussed in past posts.

    Your Brand Opportunity #2: Ads Within Broadcasters’ Published Content

    sperry-ad-phone-blogIntroduced in January 2015, ‘Discover’ is another section of Snapchat that displays photos, videos and news articles from various broadcast channels - such as CNN, National Geographic and Food Network - that is refreshed every 24 hours, modeled after Stories. Marketers have the option to purchase 10-second advertisements that are nestled between published content on each news channel, following the format of a TV or YouTube ad.

    However, the decision still remains with the user on whether to watch your ad or skip past it by simply tapping the screen. Although Discover was initially housed in a separate section of the app (requiring an extra swipe for access), Snapchat recently repositioned it to be featured front and center: right above Live Stories and Recent Updates, allowing for higher exposure. But you must be wondering, what will this cost my brand? When first launched, Adweek reported that Discover ads boasted a hefty price tag of $750,000 per day, although Snapchat has since (thankfully!) lowered its rates (Photo Source: Sprinklr).                                                                                               

    Your Brand Opportunity #3: Geofilters for Sharing Locations in Real-Time


    Similar to Instagram, Snapchat offers filters to enhance its users’ photos. Users also have the option to use specially designed filters for national and cultural holidays, such as Mother’s Day, Cinco de Mayo and Fourth of July. In July 2014, Geofilters were introduced. This function, which allows users to share their geographic locations, was initially only available in large cities and popular tourist destinations, such as New York City or Disneyland. But, since Snapchat began crowdsourcing Geofilters in December, the pool of available filters has expanded to include thousands of locations such as specific neighborhoods, college campuses and localized events, like parades or concerts.  

    Then last month, Snapchat launched a new type of Geofilter: sponsored (and marked accordingly). McDonald’s was the first business to take advantage of the feature with overlays of its signature McDoubles and fries—among other products and logos - available to users when inside any McDonald’s U.S. location. Fashion brand Lilly Pulitzer soon followed suit with its own branded filters, only appearing when users entered one of 31 corporate stores. While still fairly young, sponsored Geofilters display the potential for marketers to connect with Snapchat users on an even more customized level.

    Snapchat for Brands: How You Can Get Started

    The quality that runs across all Snapchat marketing approaches is quite simple: the user ultimately has the option to view or deny the content pushed out by brands. Watch the branded Live Story or Discover ad, or don’t. Use the sponsored Geofilter or skip it. Today’s consumers prefer to have a choice when it comes to exposing themselves to advertising content, and Snapchat is a platform that keeps the control in the users’ hands (literally). Consequently, the ads they do decide to watch are more likely to have a positive lasting impact, as they were not forced upon unwilling eyes. 

    In September, Snapchat will celebrate its fourth birthday. Our agency predicts that its popularity among users (currently over 100 million) and adoption by brands will only continue to grow. But like any human interaction, if you want to make an authentic connection, you can’t force it. To form a lasting relationship, your marketing campaign has to be a two-way street - the Snapchat user has to want to consume your content, which points to a larger key message. As with the implementation of any social tool, crafting a strong Snapchat identity should be only one piece of your company’s overall communications and brand development strategy. Ensure your company’s brand identity is integrated across all marketing materials and social platforms in order to establish a solid follower base.

    Do you feel your brand is ready to get on Snapchat, but don’t know where to start? For some inspiration, check out the brands that made Adweek’s cut for Best Brands on Snapchat: 

    JuliaIrwinBlogCropJulia Irwin is an Assistant Account Executive with Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency.

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    Topics: Social Media, Brand Strategy