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

    Dedicated to inspiring chief marketing and PR officers, corporate communications directors and marketing professionals, MaccaPR was named one of the "Best PR Blogs in the World" by InkyBee

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    Inside the Mind of a Daily Newspaper Business Editor: Q&A With Thom Kupper of the Star Tribune

    Posted by Paul Maccabee on Feb 25, 2015 8:14:37 AM

    Thom KupperIf you’re a corporate communications or public relations executive in Minnesota, the status of our state’s largest newspaper – the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune, with more than 250 editors and reporters – is always of intense interest. Beyond its average weekly readership of 1.34 million, the Star Tribune now has an online reach that includes 7.3 million monthly unique visitors and 80 million monthly page views across all of its platforms. Did you think that news-breaking rivals such as Twitter, BuzzFeed, Bring Me The News, MinnPost, Mpls/St. Paul Business Journal, Twin Cities Business’ e-briefcase, and even Huffington Post have eroded the value of the daily newspaper at 425 Portland Avenue? Think again.

    The MaccaPR blog interrogated Thom Kupper, 45, newly-elevated to role of Assistant Managing Editor for Business at the Star Tribune as he steps into the warm shoes of Todd Stone, who has taken off for the Houston Chronicle.

    1. You spent 13 years covering business at the San Diego Union-Tribune before joining the Star Tribune in 2010. Let’s do the math – it’s 63 degrees in San Diego tonight, and 20 degrees here in Minneapolis. What in Great Odin’s name were you thinking?

    "It’s definitely a big change. But I grew up in the Northeast and went to college in Chicago at Northwestern, so this isn’t my first exposure to cold weather. Plus, there were some tough changes in San Diego – the paper has changed owners twice in recent years, along with severe downsizing – and I’m very happy to be at the Star Tribune."

    Star Tribune

    2. Could you paint a picture of how the Star Tribune business section is organized now?

    "Sure, right now we have 21 people including myself. A bunch of them are new hires we’ve made in the past year, and they are really motivated to make their mark here.

    The reporting staff for the most part is divided among three editors. Doug Iverson (formerly with the Pioneer Press and Finance & Commerce) edits healthcare reporter Chris Snowbeck and medical tech writer Joe Carlson (formerly with Modern Healthcare magazine); our Washington, D.C. reporter Jim Spencer, columnist Neal St. Anthony and Dave Shaffer, who covers Xcel Energy and other energy news. Then there’s editor Cathy Roberts, recently hired out of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle in New York, who edits Mike Hughlett on food news, Tom Meersman on agriculture, Dee DePass on manufacturing, David Phelps on professional services such as law firms and ad agencies, and Patrick Kennedy on non-profits and big projects like our ranking of Minnesota’s biggest companies and CEO compensation packages. Evan Ramstad, who we hired about 18 months ago from the Wall Street Journal, edits Adam Belz on the economy (he also blogs at "3D Economics"), real estate reporters Jim Buchta and Kristen Painter (who came here from the Denver Post, and contributes to the "Just Listed" blog), and our retail writers Kavita Kumar and John Ewoldt.

    And finally, I work directly with our columnist Lee Schafer and our investigative reporter Jeff Meitrodt (formerly with the Chicago Tribune and a one-man I-Team at the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Meitrodt said to MinnPost when he joined the Minneapolis daily, 'I still can’t believe the number of bodies we have. Jesus, with this many horses, we should do amazing stuff.'"

    3. How can you differentiate yourself against your competitors – the weekly Mpls/St. Paul Business Journal, Twin Cities Business, Minnesota Business, MinnPost and more?

    "We differentiate ourselves by doing ambitious, memorable stories that people cannot read anywhere else – original pieces that provide insight into the local business scene. There’s a challenge because we have to put out 7 newspapers a week. At the same time, we have a big business staff – 17 business writers in all. That kind of manpower gives us a big advantage over everyone else in town, and our challenge is to get the most out of it."

    4. What’s your own information diet for business news?

    "I scan the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal online in the morning, and then it depends – Target is on the cover of Fortune magazine this week, so I’ll be reading that! Otherwise I try to follow the other local publications and whatever catches my eye."

    5. There have been some changes in your Sunday section. Can you tell me about that?

    "Yes, for many years we’ve been carrying two or three pages in the back of the section that we got from the Wall Street Journal. But earlier this month the Journal stopped producing those pages. They aren’t available anymore. So instead we’re filling the same amount of space ourselves with staff-written content about investing and finance, as well as wire stories from Bloomberg, Reuters, McClatchy Tribune syndicate and the New York Times."

    Check out our latest blog post - it's a great read on the #StarTribune and its new business editor Thom Kupper.

    A photo posted by Maccabee Public Relations (@maccabeepr) on

    6. You love a flood of press releases, right?

    "Um, companies that shower us with 10 press releases a week – that is not helpful. Because we are not going to write 10 stories a week about even the biggest companies in the state."

    7. So if not press releases, what can PR people offer you that’s actually helpful?

    "What really helps is access to your executives – we don’t like it when a company puts out an announcement and they don’t have a human voice that can answer our follow-up questions. In the worst case scenario – and this does not happen often – a company will put out a press release and tell us there’s no one available to discuss it until, say, the next Tuesday.

    One thing we do appreciate: tell us in advance that you’re releasing a major announcement at 8:00 am on Friday morning, even if you can’t tell us what it is – so our reporter can be ready."

    8. Give PR Directors and VPs of Corporate Communications some advice: what’s the best way to approach the Star Tribune business desk with a story?

    "Approach the beat reporter who covers your industry directly; hopefully, PR people already know who those reporters are. It’s not a good idea to come to me or one of the other editors, unless there’s a special circumstance. Generally we’re just going to pass the information along to the reporter anyway, so it’s best to go directly to them."

    9. I remember being shocked years ago when the Star Tribune sent a reporter to cover a “Junkyard Pilates” class that our PR agency client was offering – she put away her notebook and took out a camera to shoot a video interview.  How multimedia tentacled do your reporters have to be?

    "I remember when Chen May Yee pitched that story to me. That was a good one! But it’s really case-by-case. Ideally we’d like all our reporters to be able to write a story, take pictures and shoot video. And some of them have really taken to the multimedia approach. But we also have a team of Star Tribune staffers who shoot videos – it’s the main part of their job. With bigger projects, for example the “Left Behind” series that Adam Belz did last year, we always want to have videos to accompany the stories. It’s really become an essential part of how we tell stories."

    Junkyard Pilates

    (Source: Star Tribune)

    10. Can you tell us anything about the overarching strategy for the business team in coming years?

    "The strategy is kind of obvious – find great business stories that people will read and remember. Those come in all flavors, whether it’s a five-part series that wins journalism prizes or just an unusual story that’s told in a creative way. We’re fortunate at the Star Tribune that we have the manpower in the newsroom to do really ambitious work. And I think so long as we’re doing good journalism we’ll be pretty successful on whatever platform you look at, whether in print, online, mobile or whatever comes along in the future."

    Paul MaccabeePaul Maccabee is president of Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency.   

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    Topics: Interviews, Media Relations

    What Taylor Swift Can Teach You About Social Media Marketing

    Posted by Paul Maccabee on Feb 10, 2015 6:30:00 AM

    Welcome to your Taylor Swift Master Class in Social Media Marketing!  

    Your teacher today will be America’s #1 Online Brand Strategist, Professor Taylor Swift (Cue: Insane, utterly-abandoned shrieking, evolving into wild explosive screaming and rhythmic chants of, ‘Taylor, We Love You!’) Who better to instruct us in social media marketing than this 25-year-old, 7-time Grammy Award-winning “public relations genius” (in the words of the Washington Post)? The Nashville-bred superstar has leveraged every element of her social identity – on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vevo and YouTube – to make "1989" the #1 best-selling album of 2014.


    (Source: Billboard)

    If your CEO or President ever questioned whether there’s proof that social media marketing can provide ROI for a company’s investment, now you can point to Swift’s sales: More than 3.66 million copies of her fifth studio album “1989,” with more than a million units moved in its first certified-Platinum week. The secret behind those astonishing numbers? Taylor uses social media to connect one-on-one with 100 million fans at a time.

    The good news? You can do that too, even if your BFFs are not Lorde, Selena Gomez, Justin Timberlake and Karlie Kloss.

    Yes, Swift is an infernally catchy pop songwriter with earworm-burrowing hooks. True, she’s an electrifying, blonde mane-twirling, red lipstick-smacking entertainer in concert. And yes, her skill with traditional PR – as the singer dominated the covers of Rolling Stone, Vogue and People, along with broadcast interviews from “Ellen” to “Good Morning America” – plays a part in her volcanic success.

    “Taylor Swift is a PR mastermind of the highest order,” confirms writer Chris Ostendorf, in his Daily Dot commentary titled, The PR Genius of Taylor Swift’s Viral Media Empire. “Swift has carefully, methodically and brilliantly crafted a public persona designed to make you love her (or else). In terms of image control, there probably isn’t a single entertainer out there today who’s as good at playing the game. . . it’s her skills in self-promotion and image management that put her a cut above.”

    Yet the marketing genius that fueled Taylor Swift’s rise to mad levels of worldwide-stardom goes far beyond her mastery of media relations. More than any other icon of our generation, Taylor Swift amps up social media branding to its fullest potential – fusing her online and real world personas in a way that makes her appear approachably down-to-earth, even as her celebrity profile soars far higher than the mortals who are buying her music.

    So what can you learn from Taylor Swift, the Grand Mistress of Social Media Marketing?

    Lesson #1 - Embrace The Mass Intimacy of Social Media  

    First, there’s no celebrity who understands how to connect en masse – seemingly authentically and intimately with millions of fans – as brilliantly as Swift. What started with a core audience of 13-22 year-old girls during her Nashville-based country ingénue phase, has now blown that up to a level of global domination that even North Korea’s Kim Jong-un would envy. 

    What’s remarkable about Swift isn’t just the sheer enormity of her social media numbers, which spans 21.4 million Instagram followers to 561.9 million views for the “Shake It Off” video. Social media isn't all about massive numbers of followers, likes or shares. For Swift, it’s the emotional resonance of her online content – video, images and messages that display a comfort level with intimacy on a mass scale that’s nothing short of uncanny. 

    Taylor Swift Social Numbers

    Swift has a tremendous marketing staff supporting her – not just the promotional team at her Big Machine Label Group, but also the guidance of Nashville-based publicist Tree Paine, SVP of Publicity for Warner Brothers Nashville. As far as I know, Swift could have a stadium full of publicists and social media specialists frantically tweeting, Tumblring, Instagramming, YouTubing, Facebooking and blogging on her behalf. But all that’s visible to us are her images and videos – often shakily-shot with hand-held cameras, slightly out-of-focus, unprofessionally-lit and filled with the rich behind-the-scenes immediacy of Swift’s love of her cats and appetite for snack food.

    Is Taylor really composing every tweet, writing every post and personally popping each image online? The best answer would quote French playwright Jean Giraudoux, “The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” When Taylor takes to Twitter to update us on her day (below), only a cad would peek behind the social media curtain to see if her PR team is giving her an invisible hand.    

    For a master class in online intimacy that’s a universe beyond the scripted artificiality of most brand videos: Watch how Swift shot this video when surprising one fan, Gena, by showing up unannounced at her bridal shower.

    Corporate Video Producers Take Note: See how Swift addresses the camera in a conspiratorial whisper, the lens a foot from her face, as she takes you (yes, just you alone – except for the other 2.4 million viewers) into her confidence. Imagine how far your brand could go with videos that spoke with, rather than at, your customers on YouTube with this level of feeling?

    Lesson #2 - Keep Your Brand Name Simple

    Taylor’s 2012 album was titled simply, “Red,” a name chosen because Swift said the name captured “all the different emotions that I’ve experienced in the last two years. . . all those emotions are red.” Her current album title, “1989,” is her birthdate. The Taylor Swift song “15?” It’s all about the feeling of being. . . 15.

    There’s no arcane metaphors – as in Led Zeppelin’s enigmatic lyric “If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow” – here. Swift’s song and album titles are easy to remember and difficult to forget. Compare that to the camera currently being marketed as: “Nikon D3300 24.2 MPR CMOS Digital SLR with AF-S DX Nikkor VR 11 Zoom Lens.”  If the name of your product sounds like the combination to a Masterlock or the serial number on a dollar bill, take a page from Taylor Swift and keep your brand name simple.

    Lesson #3 - Choose Your Partners Wisely (and Boldly)

    Taylor’s brand partnerships with Diet Coke and Target (along with earlier affiliations with Walmart, Keds and Walgreens) feel so appropriate they were practically inevitable. But it was Swift’s daring collaboration with last December’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show that demonstrated she could make any cross-brand deal work. Surrounded by Victoria’s Secret models whose curves seemed as artificial as Swift’s performance was natural, the singer turned what could have been a mockable moment into a deft demonstration of female empowerment.

    Papa John's Taylor Swift My favorite Swiftie partnership was an alliance during the 2012 marketing campaign for "Red." Other artists have sold their albums through Whole Foods and Starbucks – but the promotion of "Red" with pizza chain Papa Johns meant that you could snare a copy of her album with your pepperoni pie (at right). The promotion combined Swift’s theme of surprise with the tomato-spattered color "Red" and her proclivity for delivering pieces of herself to fans at their homes.

    Have you thought of where – unexpectedly – your company’s product could be sold that none of your competitors would think of? If Starbucks can sell CDs, why can’t you sell or demo your products in yoga studios, amusement parks, emergency rooms, movie theatre lobbies, elevators, TSA check-points or jazz piano bars? 

    (Source: Papa John's)

    Lesson #4 - Humbly Ask Your Audience For Help

    Fortune 1000 companies market as if being a thought leader means exuding Greek God-level certainty.  Whether marketing software or kitchen appliances, brands tend to display unshakeable confidence in the conceit that no one could possibly know their industry/product better than [insert name of your brand here].

    In contrast, Taylor Swift’s messaging revels in endearing humility – most famously, she asked fans to help her master the art of Twitter hashtags. Here’s Taylor herself, asking fans to help her understand Tumblr, the microblogging platform and social network: “Taylor here. I’m locking myself in my room and not leaving until I figure out how to use my Tumblr. Well, might leave for a second to get a snack or something, but that is it. I have lots of questions, help me.” What would happen if rather than pronouncing definitive answers from your company experts, you had the humility to invite answers from the people who may know your products and services best – your customers?

    Lesson #5 - Carly Simon’s Not the Only One With Anticipation

    While artists from Bob Dylan to Beyoncé have taken to mysteriously unveiling their new albums with virtually no fanfare, Taylor Swift has learned from Hollywood movie marketers the value of heart-stopping anticipation. Swift has transformed the launch of each CD into Super Bowl-level global events by tantalizingly building suspense with multiple layers of online reveals.

    For example, to spark online buzz for the release of her single “Shake It Off” last August, Swift teased fans with hints about the tune on Instagram, Twitter and other social channels. And, back in 2012, Swift pre-released her ‘Red’ single, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” via a Google+ hangout with fans and a live Web chat, which launched a full two months before the CD dropped at retail.

    How could you create a 60- to 90-day ramp leading toward the launch of your next product or trade show, that will play upon your customers’ all-too-human desire to find out what’s coming next? Be like Taylor (or Alfred Hitchcock) and layer your launch for suspense. . .

    Lesson #6 - Transform Your Customers into A Community

    Fans of YouTube celebrity Bethany Mota call themselves “Motavators.” Devotees of the “Twilight Saga” films and books call themselves “twihards,” and I don’t want to repeat here what female fans of actor Benedict Cumberbatch refer to themselves as. Taylor Swift’s fan base? Her fans have embraced the collective moniker, “Swifties.” Does your customer base feel so connected to your brand they’d define themselves as a community of fans for your company?

    Secret Sessions

    (Source: E!)

    Nothing demonstrates Swift’s ability to transform small groups of fans into a multi-million strong community than the triumph of her Secret Sessions event campaign. For a sneak preview of "1989," Swift invited 89 fans to each of her five homes – where fans erupted with shock, surprise and joy as Taylor herself walked into the parties (see above). She hugged and fed them her home-baked chocolate cookies. Inevitably, Swift posted the behind-the-scenes video of these preview parties on YouTube for the tens of millions who couldn’t join her personally, which sparked an avalanche of fan love that rippled across the Web.

    Take some advice from Taylor Swift: how could you interact with a handful of your brand’s customers – at a user conference, trade show or client appreciation party – and then equip those customers to talk about you to the thousands of your customers who couldn’t attend?  

    Lesson #7 - Have You Ever Been Experienced?

    Admit it: How thrilling is the experience of buying your company’s product or service? Is the purchase just a transaction? A dull swipe of a credit card? With a nod to Jimi Hendrix’s first album, Taylor’s marketing is all about the experience. In fact, the very act of buying Swift’s products becomes a ceremony of communion with Taylor Swift herself. According to Billboard magazine, fans “want the full and complete Taylor Swift experience, and that experience includes buying the album.”

    Taylor Swift Time

    At a time when the Recording Industry Association of America has reported that CD sales have plummeted by 19 percent and fans are migrating to streaming services like Spotify and Pandora where they can listen “for free” rather than buying the album, Taylor made sure that the experience of buying a hard copy of "1989" surpassed that of online downloads. Famously, Swift pulled her song catalog last November from Spotify, making a bold statement about the tangible value of her music. What can you do to transform the act of a customer buying your product into an experience that’s deeper, richer and more emotionally resonant than the ring of a cash register or the ping of a credit card reader?    

    One part of Taylor Swift’s social media skill is to balance the impression of exclusivity with images, content and promotions that have massive reach. For example, Swift forged a deal with Minnesota’s own Target that offered an exclusive deluxe edition of "1989" with three extra songs and private voice memos about her songwriting process, along with early demos of the songs. Best of all, the Target-exclusive provided a dozen Polaroid photos that acknowledged her lyrics, “You took a Polaroid of us, then discovered, the rest of the world was black and white, but we were in screaming color.”

    (Source: Time)

    Which begs the question: How are you treating your existing customer base with special love – providing them with discounts, exclusive products, beta test sneak previews and first looks? Are you taking your target audience behind-the-scenes with a podcast, infographic, video, event or webinar that they, and only they, can access for a limited time?

    Lessons #8 - Let Others Celebrate Your Brand

    Most of today’s marketing involves brands telling the world how great they are – where’s the magic in that? Taylor Swift, though, gets other people – very famous people such as Girls TV actress Lena Dunham—to say how great she is. So BFF singer Lorde effused on Twitter, “OMG 1989 Is Out, What a Day, so proud of my sista.” Ask yourself - what could your dealers, retailers, value-added resellers, wholesalers, distributors (heck, even your banker, lawyer and accountants) say about you on their social media channels?

    Lesson #9 - Have The Humility to Really Listen And Respond

    Perhaps the most powerful lesson taught by Taylor Swift is that she truly makes her fans feel listened to and appreciated – and she uses social media as a two-way medium of conversation with that audience. The tragedy of today’s social media marketing is that too many corporations still treat Facebook, Twitter and other channels merely as additional pipes through which to push their commercial messages – and then walk away before they can hear what their customers want to say in return.

    Swift’s online communication truly feels like a dialogue with fans. Witness how Swift responded to a fan who had been troubled by bullies at school with a touching Instagram message and then how Taylor retweeted a video of a Houston-area woman singing along to “1989” in her car. Best of all, Taylor Swift re-posts images of her fans buying her CD in-store and holding up their own Polaroids – her customers transform themselves into Swift’s content collaborators. 

    Not everyone can post an elevator selfie, as Taylor did (below), featuring friends Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé and Jay Z or a birthday party pic with model Karlie Kloss and Selen Gomez goofing off. But it does beg the question: When was the last time you took your customers, dealers, distributors behind-the-scenes into your R&D lab, over to your ad agency during the development of your next campaign, into your factory to look behind the lathes, printing presses and scanners? When did you last ask customers to send you images of your product in use? Have you enabled comments on your company blog and YouTube channel? Have you transformed your social media channels from one-way push at customers into back-and-forth engagement with them? 

    CEOs are learning the revenue value of Taylor Swift-level listening to customers. AdWeek recently praised several companies as savvy social listeners, including:

    • General Motors, which altered the cooling ventilation systems in its Cadillac Escalades at the factory upon hearing social media complaints from owners,
    • Five Guys Burger and Fries, which is testing frozen desserts after hearing from customers via Twitter and Facebook, and
    • Dick’s Sporting Goods, which ramped up staff when social posts from customers highlighted weak in-store customer service just before closing hours.

    But, just a few weeks ago, Swift took “listening” to an absurdly glorious level. Her team Tay-lurked a select group of fans – heading to Facebook to study their jobs, friends, family, hobbies and likes – and then Swift delivered personalized Christmas and Chanukah gifts to them, climaxing with a surprise “Swift-mas” visit to one fan in Connecticut who was handed gifts by Taylor herself. Some 16.3 million YouTube views of Swift’s gift giving suggest how her micro-connection with this handful of fans, amplified a million times over through social channels, provided Swift with macro benefits.

    Here’s her final piece of advice for marketers: “Fans are my favorite thing in the world,” says Swift. “I’ve never been the type of artist who has that line drawn between their friends and their fans. The line’s always been blurred for me. I’ll hang out with them after the show. I’ll hang out with them before the show. If I see them in the mall, I’ll stand there and talk to them for 10 minutes.”

    As marketers, we must ask ourselves: When was the last time a brand, any brand, made you feel that you were their favorite thing in the world? If you hesitate to become a company that forges Swiftian-levels of loyalty, then you may have to accept that your customers, in Taylor Swift’s words, “are never ever getting back together” with you. So is it time to "Shake It Off”?

    Paul MaccabeePaul Maccabee is president of Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency. 




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    Topics: Social Media, Marketing

    What Pinterest Marketers Must Know About Copyright

    Posted by Alison Buckneberg on Jan 29, 2015 5:17:00 AM

    Pinterest_Logo_RedSo this just happened: One of my more than 3,000 pins on Pinterest was just DELETED! Since its launch in 2010, Pinterest has provided me with a space to collect content from around the Web, such as recipes, quotes, home decorating ideas, life hacks and fashion inspiration.

    Upon receiving a note that one of my carefully curated pins was removed, you can imagine that a barrage of questions crossed my mind, including:

    1. Why did Pinterest remove one of my pins?

    I started by closely reading my email from Pinterest:


    As it turns out, Pinterest can delete pins at the request of the original content owner in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA). In addition, Pinterest has proactively established a policy on copyright issues for its users, which outlines the five steps you’d need to take before submitting your copyright complaint to Pinterest. So, the “Lights Scene” photo owner must have filed a complaint with Pinterest.

    2. How can I prevent this from happening again? 

    In the email I received, I appreciated how Pinterest was quick to point out that I did nothing wrong, and that the complaint was not directed at me. After all, it was just a “re-pin” that was taken down. But it’s worth noting that the original person who pinned this post for the first time is responsible for not obtaining proper permissions. In fact, Pinterest states it will “disable and/or terminate the accounts of users who repeatedly infringe or are repeatedly charged with infringing the copyrights or other intellectual property rights of others.”

    3. What do marketing, PR and communications professionals need to know about Pinterest and copyright complaints to protect their own companies or brands?

    As a PR professional, I immediately wondered how this would affect the Pinterest activities of our clients and even our agency’s own presence. First and foremost, know the rules when pinning content. As referenced above, become acquainted with the Pinterest copyright policy. In addition to that, here are important takeaways for marketers to understand about copyright and Pinterest:

    Play it safe by pinning your own content. The easiest way to avoid copyright headaches is to create your own images! There are a plethora of online tools to produce colorful and noteworthy infographics, photos, charts and so much more. For example, Sprout Social has put together this list of 36 free tools for creating images. You can also hire your favorite photographer or graphic designer to create interesting pins, but it’s important to make sure you have their blessing to post the image and/or have purchased the rights for using the image online and in promotions.


    (Source: Sprout Social)

    If you do re-pin someone else’s content, verify the source and properly attribute the image. Once you verify the webpage from where the image came, it’s important to properly cite or attribute the image to the person who created it. If you can’t find the original website/image owner, think twice about adding it to your board. Alternatively, seek out approval to share the content with a quick email or phone call to the website owner asking for permission to post it. While many companies, artists, event planners, graphic designers and bloggers are okay with and actually encourage others to share their content, there are some who aren’t.

    A good rule of thumb when pinning images from someone else’s site, I follow is if there is a Pinterest logo or a “Pin it” option on the website, the site is probably Pinterest friendly. But just to be safe, we recommend going through the following step to properly cite the pin…find its point of origin.

    Following is an example on how to cite a pin, which includes the title of the post and the name of the publication/website it came from:


    Finally, be an advocate for your own company’s copyrighted materials. As brand advocates, we’re often tasked with protecting the online reputation of a brand. Ensure your content has a copyright symbol and/or “All Rights Reserved” in the image. You may also want to add your company logo or a watermark to the image.

    Another more conservative option is to password protect pages that contain images you absolutely don’t want shared by others. For example, you may want to use this method to guard a media library or press-only section of your website. If you don't want content to be pinned from your website, Pinterest offers codes that can be embedded into the backend, so if a pinner tries to pin an image, they will be alerted that the site owner does not want images to be pinned. Note, however, if it’s something that you really don’t want to share with everyone with an Internet connection, then it is best not to share it online at all.


    (Source: MoMA)

    As a last resort, know that you can ask Pinterest to remove specific content.

    I maintain that Pinterest is a great place for brands to connect with customers and other audiences in an authentic way. Knowing some of the ways to pin your own content or share content from others through proper citing and permissions will ensure that Pinterest remains a vibrant collaboration space for every marketer.

    What are your best-practice tips for using Pinterest to promote your brand?

    AliBucknebergAlison Buckneberg is a senior account executive at Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency.

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    Topics: Pinterest

    5 Mistakes Entry-Level PR Job Seekers Make & How To Avoid Them

    Posted by Gwen Chynoweth on Jan 19, 2015 6:03:00 AM

    5CoverLetterMistakesOur public relations industry is expected to grow in the low double digits over the next decade, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, breaking into an agency or in-house PR department directly from college is more difficult than ever.

    Gone are the days when entry-level PR job seekers would blindly pitch hundreds of reporters. Today, PR people are expected to know B2B content marketing strategies, SEO, social media campaigns along with traditional media pitching, press release and speech writing, require PR newbies to come prepared from Day One to significantly and professionally contribute to strategic PR work.

    To make matters even more challenging for college grads, nearly every entry-level PR opening out there receives dozens, if not hundreds, of applications. It takes ingenuity, perseverance and good old-fashioned sleuthing to make your cover letter stand apart to ensure your resume is viewed.

    Our Minneapolis PR agency reviews every application that crosses our transom, whether or not we have an opening. While most college placement offices emphasize the importance of creating a succinct yet descriptive resume (and of course, that is vitally important), what they might not tell you is that many agencies that are hiring will still place more emphasis on your cover note.

    Your cover letter is "your best shot at being singular," according to Slate editor Katherine Goldstein in this Fast Company article. What you put in your cover letter will often tell a hiring executive more about you and your communications skills than your resume will. 

    That’s why, at this time when thousands of soon-to-be college grads are hitting the pavement looking for their first PR job, we wanted to share these five common mistakes we see entry-level applicants make that guarantee we won’t get past the introductory email, let alone open your attached resume.*

    *What PR agencies look for in resumes – that’s another post for another time… coming soon.

    Mistake #1: Asking a PR agency, “Do you guys have any job openings?”

    There are a couple of things wrong with this question, but we see it posed often by even seasoned job seekers. First, it’s too easy for an agency to simply reply “no,” since we often don’t have a specific job opening on the specific day that someone calls. It would be better to ask for a 15-minute informational meeting (either in person or over the phone) even if there isn’t a current opening at the time. That’s because we are constantly on the alert for our next agency superstar. If we meet someone we can’t live without, we’ll create a position for them.

    Case in point: Several years ago, our agency was recruiting for an account executive with (at most) three years of PR experience. Then we met Jean Hill, who came in for an informational interview over a Caribou Coffee. Jean brought to the table nearly 20 years of agency wisdom and expertise, not to mention a client service disposition that is second to none. We quickly revamped our open position to fit Jean’s qualifications and she is now Maccabee’s Senior Vice President. After hiring Jean, we re-launched our search for a more junior staffer.

    JeffWilsonOther PR agency executives, including senior director of business development and agency marketing at PadillaCRT, Jeff Wilson, concur on the value of informational interviews. Wilson stated in his "15 Tips to Land That First Job in PR (Reloaded)" post:

    "Ask for informational interviews at companies where you think you’d like to work or that you want to learn more about. The company might not be hiring now, but could be two weeks from now. If you’ve made a good impression, they’re likely to remember you for the job. Or, they can refer you to others who might have a position that is a good fit for you."

    (Source: BuzzBin)

    The second thing wrong with the question: the use of "you guys." Remember, you’re not asking to join your buddies in a card game. You are applying to a professional services firm, and using “you guys” is a breach of etiquette that will ensure we won’t take you seriously.

    Mistake #2: Addressing your email cover letter to “Dear recipient” ...

    ... “To Whom It May Concern,” “Dear Hiring Manager,” or the anonymous, “Hello!’ Nothing is more off-putting than receiving an application from someone who didn’t take the two minutes it requires to find out to whom to personally address his or her query. 

    This also indicates to us that you likely won’t pay attention to details when performing client work when, so often, mastering details directly results in our helping clients achieve success. Use LinkedIn and other social channels to do your homework and then tailor a cover note that is specific to the individual and the PR agency.

    Mistake #3: Using smiley faces or emoticons ☺ 😃  ♥

    This one is a bit like using "you guys." If you’re applying for a professional position, your correspondence needs to reflect that. Emoticons and other text-language abbreviations are fine if you’re messaging your BFF. But in professional exchanges, they indicate poor writing habits, no mastery of vocabulary and a level of familiarity that’s not appropriate. When composing a cover note, keep in mind that among the items our agency is looking for is a firm command of business writing skills, laced with creativity.

    HeatherWhalenHeather Whaling of Geben Communications put it very well when she was quoted on Arik Hanson's "Do you really need a cover letter with that resume?" post:

    "… I want to know if you can write, whether you took the time to personalize the letter or sent a “canned” letter, etc. I think I learn a lot from cover letters that you can’t get from a resume, but are very telling for how you’ll do in the job … I think cover letters offer a lot of insights about how they approach their writing, which is important in PR and social."

    (Source: @PRtini)

    Mistake #4: Typos or grammatical errors of any kind

    Also, forgetting to attach documents that you say are attached. It’s astonishing how often both of these mistakes occur. One typo or grammatical error and that’s the end – your application goes directly to the trash. Those sloppy errors tell us that if you can’t represent yourself flawlessly, you sure won’t be able to represent our clients.

    Proofread your materials – including, and especially, your cover note. Better yet, have someone else, whose writing you respect, proofread them as well. Take the time to get it right the first time – it’s the only chance you’ll have. For a quick peek at 15 common spelling errors in cover letters and resumes, check out this article and infographic by Scott Dockweiler:


    Mistake #5: Declaring: “I’d be a perfect fit for your company.”

    It’s great to have a positive self-attitude, but it’s ultimately an agency’s hiring manager’s call as to whether you’ll be a great fit – or not. What’s more, many applicants tell us that they read our website, which causes them to believe that they’ll fit right in. Any agency’s Web presence represents only one facet of its culture and perusing the site is not going to give you enough information to make that kind of prediction.

    PRHiringQualitiesBefore baldly stating that you’re the ONE, ask to tour the agency. Talk with employees. Check out our social media presence. Subscribe to our blog. Research our media coverage. Talk with our agency’s competitors. And then, don’t tell us you’ll be perfect – prove it to us through your intelligent discourse, your superior work product and your winning attitude.

    In the spirit of helping entry-level PR professionals earn their first gig, we’d love to invite more advice. As a CMO or other marketing/PR maven, what qualities do you expect in your new hires or in your agency’s staff?

    Gwen ChynowethGwen Chynoweth is executive vice president and chief talent officer at Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency.

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    Topics: Agency Life

    Your Favorite MaccaPR Blog Posts: Ellen's Oscar Selfie, Death of PR Spin and Online Content Secrets

    Posted by Christina Milanowski on Jan 6, 2015 5:55:00 AM

    Since MaccaPR first launched in late 2012, we've averaged a new blog post nearly every week for our loyal chief marketing and PR officer, corporate communication directors and marketing professional subscribers. Just as we did in 2013 with "PR and Social Media Counsel from MaccaPR's Most Popular Posts," we're now taking a look back at the most successful recent posts on MaccaPR, according to our readers. From brand strategies and social media tips to content marketing and the death of PR spin, below are the top 10 MaccaPR posts of 2014 based on the most total views and social media engagement.YearInReview

    Top 10 MaccaPR Blog Posts of 2014

    #1. "Is it website or Web site? A Social Media Grammar Lesson from the AP" was a Maccabee classic that contains a handy list of popularly-misspelled social media terms. If you haven't already, this is a great post to bookmark. Author Christina Milanowski promises to keep it updated.

    Twitter Grammar Quote

    #2. In "7 Lessons From A Brand Battle: Bose vs. Beats By Dre Headphones," Paul Maccabee compared the online marketing strategies of a stodgy brand to a cutting-edge leader in the headphone marketplace. His post features tips for how your brand can use YouTube and other social media channels to conquer your competition.



    #3. On perhaps one of the most popular marketing topics of 2014 - content marketing - Maccabee published, "Become Epic with Content Marketing: Interview with author Joe Pulizzi." The Content Marketing Institute founder chronicled how earned and purchased space on media outlets is quickly being replaced by brands creating their very own content and publishing channels.



    #4. In a round-up of experts that featured BBDO Minneapolis' Tim Brunelle, Bolin's Nathan Eide, FRWD's Aimee Reker and GdB's Tom Gabriel, Paul Maccabee answered the question, "Was Ellen's Oscar Selfie Worth $1 Billion to Samsung?"



    #5. Marketing thought leader Arik Hanson and trademark law expert Kristine Dorrain helped us determine, "Should Trademark Symbols Be Used in Social Media Posts?" The verdict? Do what makes the most sense for your brand.



    #6. "Spin" connotes deception, obfuscation, misdirection and other smoke and mirrors tactics to hide the truth. Gwen Chynoweth called upon our industry to end the use of the word in "R.I.P. For PR Spin: Ethics, Public Relations and The Imminent Death of ‘Spin’."



    #7. Have we already moved past the "7 Social Media Trends in 2014 Live from Social Media Marketing World" chronicled by Christina Milanowski? I don't yet think so, especially with podcasting becoming a huge green field opportunity and the continued importance of advertising for brand visibility on Facebook. 



    #8. From an in-flight video featuring a dancing Richard Simmons to the quippy "Do It For Denmark" campaign, Paul Maccabee assessed "9 Travel Marketing Campaigns That Will Make You Laugh."



    #9. Paul Maccabee followed up his exclusive Joe Pulizzi interview with "5 Eye-Opening Lessons From "Epic Content Marketing": 1) Act More Like Media and Less Like Marketers, 2) Marketing Is No Longer About You, 3) Market When Your Prospects Have No Intention of Buying, 4) Your Marketing Goal Is Now Subscription, and 5) Be Patient or Buy Your Media.


    #10. We divulged "4 Marketing Secrets for Viral Guinness World Records" from our firsthand experience setting Guinness World Records for clients, including Kemps' Largest Scoop of Ice Cream.



    There you have it - your top 10 list of the most popular MaccaPR blog posts thanks to your engagement by way of views and social media engagement. For a closer look at past posts, we welcome you to peruse these past blog post categories:

    Agency Life (3), Blogger Relations (2), Blogging (8), Brand Strategy (19), Content Curation (3), Corporate Communications (13), Crisis Communications (9), E-Book (1), Event Marketing (5), Facebook (5), Giveaway (4), Google+ (1), Inbound Marketing (6), Infographic (2), Instagram (1), Internal Communications (1), Interviews (13), LinkedIn (5), Marketing (2), Measurement (4), Media Relations (8), On the Road (7), Pinterest (4), Round-Up (2), SEO (7), Social Media (25), Twitter (10), Video (6), Wikipedia (2), and YouTube (6).

    If you aren't already, please become a MaccaPR subscriber today (form is at the top of the page). Each post brings you marketing lessons drawn from brands like General Mills, Target, Procter & Gamble, Beats By Dre, Dove, Mentos, Apple, Samsung, Kmart, Verizon, Ben & Jerrys, Burger King, Charmin, Southwest Airlines and Under Armour.  

    Thank you for making 2014 a great year - and here's to an exciting 2015 filled with more lessons on hot PR and marketing topics!

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




    P.S. Here's our top 10 list as a downloadable PowerPoint presentation on SlideShare:

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    Topics: Round-Up

    Fem-vertising Interview with Marketing-to-Women Expert Dori Molitor

    Posted by Caitlin Jagodzinski on Dec 17, 2014 3:39:00 AM

    As CEO of WomanWise, a Minneapolis-based insight and brand strategy firm specializing in marketing brands to women, Dori Molitor has helped companies from Land O’ Lakes and General Mills to UnitedHealthcare and 3M tap into the female psyche and connect with women consumers.

    Dori Molitor Following up on the insight she shared on ads from Pantene to Under Armour in my last MaccaPR blog post, “The New Wave of Fem-vertising: 5 Female Empowerment Campaigns We Love,” we will be diving deeper into how brands can engage effectively with women in this exclusive Q&A.


    “I love this new wave of ads centered on the female empowerment cause—every part of these campaigns works for me. Women—whether they’re a mother, teacher, leader or executive—underestimate the power these marketing messages have on building up or tearing down their self-confidence. By shining a light on the stereotypes that women have been forced to adhere to in our culture, “fem-vertisements” are taking steps towards creating positive change while building meaningful brand loyalty. 

    The best examples of fem-vertising are the ads that invite consumers to join their brand in creating equal opportunity in our society. For example, Always’ Like a Girl campaign hits the mark on one of the oldest double standards between genders: tagging acts of weakness with the colloquialism ‘like a girl.’ The strength of the Always video stems from its ability to show those who first feebly ‘ran like a girl’ actually exhibit power the second time around—it’s a shift in consciousness, and action, we see right on the screen.

    PanteneThe Pantene #NotSorry campaign resonates with me as a woman, as the act of saying ‘I’m sorry’ is so subconscious. It’s not until we observe the before and after in the ad that we realize how detrimental our inferior and apologetic language can be. This fem-vertisement beautifully offers audiences an alternative to passively adding ‘I’m sorry’ to their daily dialogue –giving consumers the opportunity to make the shift in their own lives.  

    While critics may scoff at advertisers for heavily emphasizing womens’ insecurities and self-loathing, I think it’s the ad’s power to showcase these realities through visual storytelling that allows fem-vertising to become such a critical piece of the gender equality puzzle. By taking a stand, these brands are connecting with female consumers in deeper, more meaningful ways, and in turn, investing in the future of their brand and our society.”

    (Source: Self)


    “Not necessarily. Creating societal change through ads is a process that requires many great ideas—ideas that can stem from any gender, perspective or age. Male voices are just as important to identifying equality gaps in our society and are vital to a brand’s ability to create meaningful connections with all audiences. In order for these advertisements to make a real difference, we must tap into the subconscious minds and triggering reactions of those outside the female perspective to create conversations that invite all voices – and both genders –to the table.

    Brands with non-female specific products also have an opportunity to build brand loyalty through fem-vertising. I’d love to see more companies such as Verizon take the fem-vertising reins and own these ideas from a different standpoint. As long as the mission is cohesive and honest to your products and consumers’ convictions, any brand has the opportunity to move the sales needle through this form of advertising.”


    “In general, women have a greater disposition than their male counterparts to care about the world around them: the environment, education, hunger, global warming. Their strong affinity for nurturing leads female consumers to expect that brands, like themselves, will take a stand for social good and support meaningful causes. In order to move the sales needle, brands must think beyond product sales and dive deeper into the convictions of their female audiences and offer tangible ways for consumers to get involved in their fem-vertising cause.  


    (Source: Dove)

    Take Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ campaign for example, this campaign marks one of the first attempts at fem-vertising, as it shows the shapes, sizes and figures of real women. But Dove’s praised campaign didn’t increase sales until the brand made the idea of ‘Real Beauty’ open and accessible for all women to get involved through its online ‘tips, topics and tools’ landing page. This page still offers activity guides, workshops and talking points to help youth leaders, teachers and mothers guide young women through self-esteem issues.

    These guided materials move beyond visual advertisements by actively helping women guide young girls in raising their confidence with Dove at the helm of the cause, allowing the mission of ‘Real Beauty’ to become a movement rather than a singular, stagnant advertisement. Inviting consumers to get involved in your cause is the most critical component to ensuring a fem-vertisement’s effectiveness, and ultimately, moving the sales needle for brands.”


    “Creating a clever campaign is the first step; but only through a brands’ ability to authentically stand behind the ideas within their ads will we start to see a real difference for gender equality in our society. For movement beyond the sales needle, brands need to back their missions with action and allow consumers to make the cause their own.

    For example, why doesn’t the Always brand deepen their #LikeAGirl mission through partnerships with women’s sports foundations to actionably show young girls that they are just as capable of participating in sports as men?

    Pantene could elevate #NotSorry by working with language coaches to investigate the meaning of ‘strong’ vs. ‘apologetic’ language to help women handle situations in their personal and professional lives through guided workshops.


    (Source: Verizon)

    Additionally, Verizon could expand its #InspireHerMind campaign by creating opportunities for girls to get involved with math and science by bringing science fairs and academic scholarship awards into young women’s hometowns.

    Ultimately, it’s too soon to tell if fem-vertising will be successful in filling the equality gap. We‘ve yet to see the teeth behind these big ideas.”

    Bonus! Dori’s Three Dos and Don’ts for Marketing to Women 

    Here are Dori’s quick tips for brands looking to strengthen their marketing efforts to women consumers:

    3 “Dos” for Marketing to Women:

    1. WomanWiseDo Your Research — Success requires a deep understanding of female “subconscious” motivators to behavior. You must know what emotional triggers will eventually lead to brand loyalty or you won’t move the sales needle for your brand.
    2. Build a Community — Women are hard-wired to want to be part of a community; we’re more about the “we” than we are the “I." Women want to have a feeling of one-ness, a feeling that they are a part of something larger than themselves—with other people, as well as with brands. Brands can facilitate this by joining together with consumers in shared values and shared ideals.
    3. Take a Stand and Be Authentic — Female consumers don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. It’s no longer about features, benefits and promises for women; it’s about why your brand is relevant to her self-discovery and empowered world.

    (Source: WomanWise)

    3 “Don’ts” for Marketing to Women:

    1. Be a Bully — Be the enabler, not the center of the conversation. Women want to join brands that share her ideals and values and are a conduit to her desire to do social good. 
    2. Pink-wash’ Your Brand — Heavily branding your products with the color pink to increase sales is a sure way to turn female consumers off.
    3. Don’t Assume Her Motivators Are the Same as Yours — Women are not one homogeneous group. It's critical to understand where your female consumers' emotional intensity lies and the relation to your brand.

    In sum, Dori suggests that your brand has the opportunity to create a sustainable competitive advantage by focusing not on "profit" but rather "profit with purpose," and allowing your female consumers to join in your cause. What ways can your brand create a more relevant and engaging relationship with its female audiences?

    Screen_Shot_2014-11-18_at_1.02.14_PM Caitlin Jagodzinski is a Public Relations Coordinator with Maccabee, the Minneapolis public  relations and online marketing agency. 

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    Topics: Interviews, Brand Strategy

    Landing Page, SEO and Blog Secrets: An Interview with Clint Danks of ThinkSEM

    Posted by Paul Maccabee on Dec 10, 2014 5:38:00 AM

    If the world of SEO, inbound marketing, optimized content and landing pages thrills you as a marketer, then the following interview with Clint Danks is going to be your cup of Lipton. Clint is co-founder of ThinkSEM, a Roseville, Minn.-based Internet marketing agency that caught our eye with its savvy pay-per-click advertising management, Web development and digital design services.

    ThinkSEM clients include brands like Regis, Explore Minnesota and Red Wing Shoe. Clint is also co-founder of the Minnesota Search Engine Marketing Association, although his Facebook profile admits he’s actually “plotting world domination.” Oh, and he’s a serious fan of Motley Crue and Metallica. Herewith, the wisdom of Nikki Sixx devotee Clint Danks:

    1. How did the ThinkSEM agency come to focus on search engine marketing and landing pages?

    "Our agency’s been helping clients with search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) online advertising for seven years. We realized the importance of landing page design and testing for marketers who wanted to drive lead generation, and that’s become a market differentiator for us.

    Red Wing

    Here’s an example of what we do, for the industrial side of Red Wing Shoes:  it relies on ThinkSEM to help generate B2B leads for its outside sales force across the country. Red Wing Shoes’ target audiences include big construction companies that need to follow OSHA safety standards. We developed landing pages to generate leads - phone calls and form leads - that get pumped into its Eloqua system. In fact, we design multiple offers for Red Wing, such as free downloadable white papers on OSHA standards and receive a free pair of boots in exchange for 15 minutes of their time. Hands down, the free boot offer pulled best in our tests – the interest level was 400 to 500 percent higher than other Red Wing offers. Ultimately, we generated over a 100 percent increase in sales leads for Red Wing."

    2. You invest a lot of time in your ThinkSEM blog, chiefly written by your wife and co-owner Sarah Danks and PR staffer Kayla Hollatz – it’s a fun read. 

    "When I first started our agency, I relied solely on PPC and SEO to market ThinkSEM, because I didn’t think blogs, social media or content marketing would do anything for us! Well, I was sorely mistaken. The moral of the story for marketers: SEO, PPC, social media – it’s all tied together. A blog is huge from a brand perspective, yet we neglected it at first and I regret that. The ancillary benefit of our blog is that our ThinkSEM domain gets stronger, people link to our blog content, and the pages on our website become more visible in search engines."

    3. Marketers now manage multiple online destinations – websites, Facebook pages, LinkedIn profiles, Twitter channels, YouTube pages, mico-sites, company blogs, Instagram and Pinterest pages, SlideShare and more. Ultimately, where should marketers send their prospects when they interact with a brand online?

    Clint Danks "Oli Gardner, the founder of the landing page and conversion agency Unbounce, likes to say, “your website is your Brand Central Station.” Yet there’s a LOT of distractions on your website – your prospect’s attention is divided between information on new products, lists of your clients, descriptions of your capabilities – ironically, much of that website content is a barrier to what your business objective is: getting a lead. And securing leads is where landing pages come in.

    What’s great about PPC and landing pages is that you can categorize keywords and create promotional themes. For example, Red Wing Shoe has several types of workboots, so one theme can be steel toe vs. soft toe workboots. Now Red Wing Shoes’ website is highly informative, with lots of content. But the landing pages we created for them were environments specific to targeted themes, so you have a landing page just for steel toe boots. With a landing page, you eliminate all distractions, even getting rid of navigation elements which could get your customer lost.If you give a potential consumer limited options on a landing page, that keeps them focused on what you want them to do. That’s the beauty of a landing page over a website."

    4. I hate online forms that ask not only for my name, title, company and address, but everything else short of my birthdate, social security number, favorite Starbucks drink and the name of my childhood pet and nickname. What’s your advice on truly effective sales lead forms?

    "Oh, it’s a constant battle to eliminate barriers that companies add to the form itself – one of the questions we like to delete from lead forms is, “how did you hear about us?” That’s a discouragement from you securing a lead. It’s also seldom necessary for a form to ask for a prospect’s company name and street address. We do little things to condense the size of landing pages and forms – for example, you can combine the respondent’s first and last name in the same field. Finally, marketers have to ask themselves - do you want lead volume or qualified leads? The longer your lead form, the more qualified your lead may be - but the fewer people will fill your form out."

    5. How dominant is Google now in search?

    "Google is 67 percent of the marketplace – Bing and Yahoo, which merged in 2009, make up 28 percent of the SEO market, although they’ve been gaining a bit of ground. Marketers should also keep in mind: YouTube is not classified as a search engine. But if it was, YouTube would be the second largest search engine on the planet.  Yet, few companies promote videos or run ads on YouTube."

    Google vs. Bing

    6. What does ThinkSEM do for your client, Regis?

    "We’ve worked with a dozen of Regis’ 60 branded salon chains, including Magicuts and Master Cuts. We guide their pay-per-click accounts, and build custom landing pages that house their promotional offers, encouraging people through PPC to print out a coupon or show the offer on a mobile device. One interesting lesson from our Regis work: one of the brands we worked with had new creative branding that we tested first online, and then Regis carried the branding messages over to the retail environment of their salons. Typically, what you do online stays online and doesn’t get carried back to the brick and mortar salons."


    7. Any advice for brands wrestling with how to optimize their content for search via Google?

    "I’ve been in the SEO industry now for 11 years, and the complexity of Google algorithms is at a much higher level than it’s ever been. Google has taken steps to ensure that companies cannot register a domain name and then rank highly within a week. The key to SEO today is producing great content on your website and then being sure that your content is being linked to from third-parties on the Web. The higher quality the links, the better your company does in organic search.

    What some marketers don’t understand is – the content you post has to be unique to you. A marketing department or agency cannot just recycle other people’s content. Another big mistake is writing content for search engines, rather than writing for your audience. If you repeat a keyword or phrase dozens of times in a white paper or article content, you may think that will help you in search – but it’s terrible for readability. What’s more, Google’s Panda algorithm is in charge of content quality control and Panda looks for repurposed content from other websites and blogs. If you (as a company) choose to take the easy way out with content, just understand the consequences. It takes effort and creativity to achieve a high level of success with online content."

    8. What’s on the horizon for digital marketing?

    SEOMobile"PPC advertising has been evolving at a rapid pace over the past two years. We're expecting more enhancements to help advertisers reach potential customers. Personally, I feel that wearable technology, such as smart glasses (including Google Glass), is the next step in targeting users - allowing advertisers to deliver ads based on location and real-time needs of the consumer.  

    Most importantly, Google AdWords will soon be launching its in-store conversion tracking. This will allow advertisers to attribute in-store sales back to paid search efforts, giving you a clearer idea of how paid search impacts retail sales.

    In 2015, Google will become stricter with how they deal with spammy content and unnatural link building practices. Content creators must take into consideration SEO best practices, but also what devices are accessing that content. This coming year, it’s expected that mobile traffic will exceed laptop traffic. So ask yourself: will the same piece of content be impactful at a resolution of 320 x 568?”


    Thanks Clint, for sharing your insights into SEO, landing pages and blogs! For more wisdom from Think SEM, follow it on Twitter, check out its blog and at

    Paul MaccabeePaul Maccabee is president of Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency. 






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    Topics: Interviews, Inbound Marketing, SEO

    Is social media all about massive numbers of followers, likes and shares?

    Posted by Christina Milanowski on Nov 24, 2014 6:12:00 AM


    Marketers obsess over whether they have more Twitter followers or Facebook fans than their competitors. Clients and social media agencies are dazzled (and intimidated) by sheer size. Consider that as of last week:

    • Taylor Swift had 46.5 million Twitter followers.
    • Jean-Claude Van Damme’s “Epic Split” video had 76 million views on YouTube.
    • RedBull had 45 million Facebook fans.
    • Old Spice’s "Man Your Man Could Smell Like" video had 49.5 million views on YouTube.
    • The Dove “Real Beauty” Sketches film, which became the #1 most viewed online ad of all time in 2013, had 65 million views and tens of millions of shares, likes and comments.
    But what do these numbers mean for your organization? No marketer really says, "Check out our telephone system, it can reach 350 American homes!" Listen folks: It's not all about the community size and fan counts!

    SpeechLast week, Paul Maccabee and I presented on this very topic for a wonderful audience of Minnesota Women in Marketing & Communications members - thanks for hosting us!

    We talked about how social channels are just that: Channels, delivery mechanisms and infrastructure. The biggest opportunity of social is creating quality, relevant content to fill those social highways for your audiences – that will inspire them to take action. Sure you have to have a decent-sized social community with whom to share content, but, from our viewpoint, it isn't all about massive numbers of followers, likes and shares.

    (Source: Rebecca Zenefski)

    Social Media Is the Means to Many Success Metrics

    • Traffic to your content ships (owned online sites like your website, landing page or blog)
    • Awareness of your product or service
    • Brand engagement
    • Real-time, back-and-forth conversations with your customers 
    • Customer loyalty
    • Sales leads 
    • Consumer, business or trade media relationships
    • Tradeshow or event participation
    • Donations or volunteers, if you're a non-profit
    • Relationships with referral sources and industry influencers
    The list goes on! In addition to these strategic musings about social media, we addressed the art of social media with 13 visual storytelling tips and the science behind social behavior. For more on how your business can leverage social media for your content ships, take a look at our Social Media Workshop presentation.

    What do you think – are followers, likes and shares the yardstick upon which we wisely measure social media efforts? Share your thoughts in the comments!

    Click here to request a FREE Maccabee social media workshop for your company!

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    Topics: Social Media, On the Road

    The New Wave of Fem-vertising: 5 Female Empowerment Campaigns We Love

    Posted by Caitlin Jagodzinski on Nov 19, 2014 6:32:00 AM

    Eight years ago, Unilever’s Dove brand began exploring how its female consumers perceived beauty by using real women—of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds—as the faces of its marketing campaign from agency Ogilvy & Mather Brazil. What was born from this now-lauded “Dove Campaign For Real Beauty” is today’s embrace of female empowerment as a powerful theme in advertising.

    Flash forward to 2014—add in the conversational power of social media and the requirement for marketers to stand for something larger than their products–and you’ve got a wave of “fem-vertising” that's sparking spirited conversations about gender equality.

    From Always and Under Armour to Pantene and Verizon, let’s take a look at some of the best examples of fem-vertising and why it works:

    1. Always: #LikeaGirl

    The latest campaign from Procter & Gamble’s Always feminine hygiene products swept social media by storm in June 2014 by seeking to twist our perception of the common insult “like a girl” into one of positive reinforcement for young women. The campaign, from Chicago agency Leo Burnett, posed a simple question: What does it mean to do something “Like a Girl?”


    (Source: Adverblog)

    If you haven’t had the chance, take a quick look at the video for yourself. 

    The Always clip shows men and women of all ages re-enacting how they think it looks to run, fight and throw “like a girl.” Their reactions are exactly what you’d expect: loose arms, feeble statures and a deeper concern for their hair than the actual task at hand —except when the young girls step up to plate. The difference between the weak dispositions of adults and the fierceness of young women is jarring. It underscores the point that somewhere between adolescence and adulthood, a girl’s self esteem plummets due to the negative connotations this colloquialism holds.

    With more than 52 million views and 160,000 likes on YouTube to date, the acceptance of this video is phenomenal—with floods of praise pouring in across every social channel. But why does Always’ campaign work?

    1. The brand’s exceptional storytelling is honest, inspiring and downright sobering. As with any motivational story, #LikeaGirl pulls on the heartstrings to evoke emotion in its audience. In this case, it’s the nostalgic heartstring of the once- vibrant turned self-conscious girl in all women that creates a deeper connection to the spot and the brand itself.
    2. Secondly, the Always spot doesn’t just state the issue in its storytelling, it proposes an outcome, a movement for consumers to rally behind and make their own. We see it right there on the screen – through the young boy who realizes his actions refer to his sister’s false incompetence; through the adult’s second attempt at performing like a girl.

    The bottom-line is that the #LikeaGirl mission reaches beyond Always’ products to create an initiative for fundamental change in gender biases—an issue already top of mind for Always’ consumer base. We love it!

    2. Pantene: #ShineStrong

    PanteneSelf-esteem issues aren’t left behind with adolescence, which is where Pantene’s “Not Sorry” campaign steps in. Launched in June 2014, “Not Sorry” from agency Grey in New York asks: Why are women always apologizing?

    In the same light as #LikeaGirl, the Pantene #ShineStrong campaign shows the egregious effects our choice of words can have on the way we perceive ourselves and other women.

    #ShineStrong and its accompanying video work because the woman in the ad is you—at the office, with your husband, at the dentist—cutting your argument down with two simple words—I’m sorry. No nostalgic heartstrings needed here; any woman can see herself in this ad. It’s a perfect example of how holding the mirror up to society in storytelling can have a raw and powerful impact, not to mention this video’s brilliant act of doubling back to prove how unapologetic actions and responses put women in a stronger, more positive light.

    "We used market research to look at what gender norms were holding women back and tried to tap into the most relevant and insightful areas,” stated Kevin Crociata, marketing director of Procter & Gamble in Adweek“This problem of saying sorry, it wasn't just something women in the U.S. were facing, but globally. After the success of the first campaign, 'Shine Strong' is something we're committed to as a brand." 

    What Crociata is referring to is Pantene’s 2013 “Labels Against Women” ad from agency BBDO, which examined if gender bias still exists. The answer? Yes, which is clear from the ad’s clever juxtaposition of men and women executing the exact same task but with very different labels – for example, a man is the “boss,” while the woman is "bossy." 

    (Source: Dr. Ads)

    3. Verizon: #InspireHerMind

    Fighting the good fight for gender equality and female empowerment doesn’t stop with brands focused on beauty or feminine products, however. Take “Inspire Her Mind” for instance—the brainchild of Verizon; ad agency AKQA; and womens’ storytelling platform MAKERS’ Reshma Saujani, Founder of Girls Who Code, which is dedicated to encouraging more girls to get involved with careers based in science, technology, engineering and math.


    (Source: Verizon)

    The premise of the Verizon campaign is simple: encourage girls to pursue subjects of passion rather than subjects associated with the female gender. Verizon expands on its ad with an interactive landing page posing one small but mighty question: Does Dress-Up Determine Her Future?

    The question was answered by traveling down one of two virtual paths to see how playtime can either break or build gender stereotypes.

    Verizon’s campaign is smart and reminds consumers of the profound effects our words and actions have on today’s youth. Verizon’s position outside of the beauty category further allows the campaign to provide a unique voice in the gender equality dialogue, opening the door for the cause to reach a wider audience. For female empowerment to work, to really work, more companies with non-female consumer bases need to provide their voice to the conversation, as Verizon has done by focusing less on beauty and physicality and more toward women excelling in male dominated fields.

    The battle for women’s empowerment in advertising and marketing campaigns is far from finished. Take at look at the next two examples of how controversial fem-vertisements generated negative feedback.

    4. Under Armour: I Will Want What I Want

    One of the biggest reactions to “fem-vertising” is the charge that the ad industry itself is famous for displaying women in a sexist light, remnants of which can still be seen in Under Armour brand’s $15 million “I Will Want What I Want” campaign, from agency Droga5.

    Under Armour

    (Source: Droga5)

    Let me preface my hesitation with Under Armour’s series of ads by stating that this campaign is good. Under Armour has a solid mission to prove that all women face contradictory expectations, which the campaign elegantly illustrates by contrasting societal commentary with the womens’ strong physicality in the same shot.

    But there’s a serious blind spot: These women – including Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn and soccer star Kelley O’Hara  are impossibly built in comparison to the ad’s general audience of everyday women. One look at model Giselle Bundchen’s abs or ballerina Misty Copeland’s calves and its easy to see how these ads, while made to empower women, could easily persuade its audiences that they’re to pursue the exact body type that “fem-vertising” is working to eliminate from the ad industry altogether.

    5. Dove: Patches Campaign

    Perhaps the most controversial ad to rise in “fem-vertising” however is Dove’s “Patches” campaign, an extension of the brand’s overarching “Real Beauty” initiative. The 2014 ad follows a group of women testing Dove’s latest beauty product, The RB-X Beauty Patch, a pharmaceutical device that ostensibly makes a woman feel more beautiful. The patch however, was a placebo with an alternative agenda - to unveil the deep seated insecurities women feel about their natural beauty.



    But critics didn’t buy it. New York Magazine called the Dove ad “garbage,” while Gawker Media’s Jezebel called it the “Most BS ad yet.” Opponents felt that Dove’s experiment made women seem incredibly dumb, gullible and deemed the campaign off base. 

    In my opinion, this Dove campaign – which generated 4.5 million views on YouTube in its first 48 hours – is one of the strongest initiatives to rise out of marketers’ women empowerment trend. Why? The real issue isn’t that Dove manipulated women into seeing their own insecurities. The problem is that women in our society still feel immensely uncomfortable in their own skin, so much so that they are willing to believe anything to feel better about themselves. So while considered “trickery,” Dove’s “Patches” hits this inherent issue right on the head.

    When asked about the campaign in an Advertising Age article, Steve Miles, Unilever's senior SVP of Marketing for Dove, stated that the campaign was created to "intentionally provoke a debate about women's relationship with beauty." Case in point: Dove piqued the unsettling feeling that set critics into a tizzy. Watching a woman realize the folly of her self-doubt should never feel comfortable. In fact, it’s incredibly distressing to watch this ad, especially as a woman. That’s what makes the spot so effective. It’s this feeling of discomfort that gives "Patches" the strongest platform for debate and potential change.

    Key Takeaways from Women Empowerment Ads:

    So, what can marketers learn from the new wave of fem-vertisements? Here are a few tips to consider when embarking on female empowerment-themed cause marketing campaigns:

    Good Storytelling Sells—Pull on your consumers’ heartstrings and you’ll pull them into your cause. It’s a key component to any solid cause marketing campaign. Evoking emotion authentically in your audience helps them connect with your ad – thus your brand – on a deeper, more meaningful level. Do it correctly and your cause will then become the consumers' cause, paving the way for conversations to spark and brand loyalty to begin.

    Align Your Cause with Your Consumers' Convictions—Cause marketing can be extremely powerful, but only when it’s genuine. Hopping on any cause won’t elevate your brand nor will it help the cause itself. Focus on a mission that aligns with your company and with the passions of your consumer base. If your audience cannot see their convictions positively represented in your marketing campaign, they won’t back your cause. Period.

    Make the Campaign Real; Make it Relatable—These campaigns work because they force consumers to reflect on our words and actions by holding a mirror up in a very honest and truthful way. In order for consumers to spread your mission, they need to see themselves, their daughters, their mothers and their friends in your campaign. How can your consumer base join you when the women depicted in your ads are unattainably beautiful or unrealistically perfect? Showing the unique differences in women makes these causes real and relatable. Your consumers don’t want perfection; they want to stand for the rights of real women in our society.

    So, can your brand break through the clutter by breaking down stereotypes? What stereotype does your audience face?

    The bottom line: There’s no denying that the positive conversations surrounding fem-vertising have moved the sales needle for Dove, Pantene and other brands; but one important question still remains: Are marketers really the best voice to advance gender equality issues, or are they just in it for product sales? Join Maccabee Public Relations for part two of this controversial topic as we dive into fem-vertising with Dori Molitor of WomanWise in  a coming MaccaPR blog post.

    Screen_Shot_2014-11-18_at_1.02.14_PMCaitlin Jagodzinski is a Public Relations Coordinator with Maccabee, the Minneapolis public relations and online marketing agency. 

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    Topics: Brand Strategy, Marketing

    7 Lessons From A Brand Battle: Bose vs. Beats By Dre Headphones

    Posted by Paul Maccabee on Nov 4, 2014 5:00:00 AM

    The 2016 Presidential campaign between Hillary Clinton and her Republican challenger (insert name here) will no doubt be ferocious. But that head-to-head contest could hardly be as savage as the current brand battle between Beats Electronics’ Beats by Dre headphone line and the venerable audiophile company, Bose.

    Bose vs. Beats by Dre

    (Sources: Amazon, The Verge, Luxury Launches, Dr. Jays)

    This past month, the media have covered football players flouting Bose’s exclusive National Football League deal as the “official sound of the NFL” by wearing Beats by Dre headphones. What followed was the NFL’s response on behalf of sponsor Bose – levying a $10,000 fee against players who defied the ban and dared to listen with Beats by Dre headphones on-camera. The NFL’s effort to defend Bose’s investment by punishing athletes for going brand AWOL boomeranged into a PR bonanza for Beats by Dre. Supported by celebrity endorsers from Kendrick Lamar and Justin Bieber to Pharrell, Serena Williams and Ed Sheeran, Beats is now conquering Bose not on quality, comfort or price, but on Beats' mastery of new marketing strategies.

    So how can your company avoid falling prey to the mistakes that put the $2.5 billion giant Bose – one of the consumer electronics industry’s most acclaimed technological innovators – off its game? Here are seven suggestions for brand survivors:

    #1 – Keep All Eyes On Your Visual Branding

    In this age of Pinterest, Instagram, Vine and other visual branding channels, Bose has struggled to find graphic images that will reinforce – rather than undermine – its appeal to today’s consumers. Meanwhile, the marketers at Apple, which purchased Beats Electronics for $3 billion this year, demonstrate why they and the Beats by Dre team are the Leonardo da Vincis of visual iconography. 

    Serena Williams - Beats By Dre

    Consider: Until recently, the visual image at the top of Beats by Dre’s Twitter page featured an electrifying full-color photo of tennis superstar Serena Williams (above), her muscles rippling as she listens with Beats by Dre headphones. The image was sexy, powerful and massively cool. What’s more, that Twitter profile image is integrated visually with her “Nothing Stops Serena” video (now at 1.3 million views on YouTube), which shows her training for a match, propelled by the music in her Beats by Dre headphones.


    In contrast, Bose’s Twitter, YouTube and Facebook pages had been topped by this image - a bleakly depressing, black-and-white photo of what looks like a parking lot next of a half century-old office building (above). If there is any joy to be found in listening to music through Bose headphones, you wouldn’t know it from this image of a lonely building that sat – dark, abandoned, glum – at the head of Bose’s social media channels.  Clearly this image must resonate with some executive inside Bose headquarters.  Alas, this picture did nothing for the consumers Bose might wish to attract, who are now running feverishly toward the photo of Serena Williams’ astonishing torso. The lesson? The visual look of your brand is not about you or your CEO’s affection for your storied past; it’s about images that inspire your target consumers - today.

    #2 – Be Ready To Evolve Your Market Position

    “Better Sound Through Research” is Bose’s marketing theme, a throwback to its late founder, MIT professor Dr. Amar Bose. This charmingly nerdy championing of acoustic research has served Bose well in the past – and the past is where Bose’s social media marketing is aimed. On its Facebook page, Bose’s “About” profile confides: “A dedication to research and excellence, it’s the Bose approach to better sound, and it has been since our founding in 1964.” If you didn’t fully comprehend that Bose was around when Lyndon Johnson was president and the Beatles were still performing, its Twitter heading hammers it home: “The First 50 Years of Bose.”

    Gwen Stefani and Lil Wayne

    (Sources: Coolspotters and MTV)

    Compare that look back in Bose’s rear view mirror to six-year-old upstart Beats Electronics, which offers this Dr. Dre quote as its market position on Facebook, “With Beats, people are going to hear what the artists hear, and listen to the music the way they should: the way I do.” The company’s marketing gestalt is rabble-rousing, trash-talking and celebrity-obsessed (as in Lil Wayne and Gwen Stefani above). Beats by Dre associates its headphones not with acoustic technology, but with all that is physical, sweaty and exultant. In the admiring words of my 20-year-old son, a hip hop and rap fan, its market position highlights Beats by Dre’s embrace of “sex, athletes, rappers and badassery.”   Which brings us to. . .

    #3 – Flip Your Competitor with Judo Marketing

    When the NFL signed its sponsorship deal with Bose, the marketing warriors at Beats By Dre scored publicity points. Players flouted the deal’s “product exclusivity” language, which prohibits them from showing logos of a competitor’s headphones.

    The value of the Bose sponsorship began imploding when San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick wore his Beats by Dre headphones post-game. The NFL fined him $10,000 – a punishment that generated millions of dollars worth of media coverage for Beats by Dre, with headlines trumpeting the Beats brand by name.

    Beats By Dre Twitter

    (Source: Beats by Dre Twitter)

    “It’s marketing gold for Beats,” Zimmerman Advertising Z Sports & Entertainment agency’s Scott Becher told Advertising Age. “How many millions of dollars of exposure are you giving the marketleader by outlawing them?” Photos of NFL players wearing the forbidden Beats by Dre headphones, with the offending logos mischievously covered with tape, swept the Web. 


    (Source: The Huffington Post)

    Bose could have predicted this judo-style marketing attack. Ambush marketing is nothing new for Beats by Dre’s founders.  During the London 2012 Olympics (above), it was Dr. Dre (not an Olympic sponsor) who handed out his headphones painted with the UK’s colors to British athletes – sparking tweets from the players about how much they loved their Beats by Dre headphones. Yes, Dr. Dre’s sampling was a violation of Olympic Rule 40, which prohibits athletes from talking about brands on social media, which have not paid to be official Olympic sponsors – but even that violation was “on brand.”

    All in all, the NFL/Bose debacle reinforced the Beats brand message and left Bose looking punitive and uncool, even if it was their partners at the NFL who did most of the damage.  

    #4 - YouTube Can Be Your Brand’s Best Friend

    Both Bose and Beats by Dre use music-infused YouTube videos to reinforce their brand positioning. Unfortunately for Bose, it's walking into the YouTube wrestling ring to fight against two World Champions: 

    1. Beats’ Jimmy Iovine - producer for Bruce Springsteen, U2, Tom Petty and Eminem’s movie, 8 Mile.
    2. Beats' Namesake Dr. Dre - producer of multi-media rap stars Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Eminem and others.

    The sheer numbers on YouTube are telling: Beats by Dre has 261,953 subscribers to its YouTube channel, compared to Bose’s 18,259 subscribers.


    But it’s the video content on YouTube which underscores Beats by Dre’s marketing savvy. Check out the Beats’ video, “Hear What You Want” (above). It enticed 4.6 million consumers to watch a clip depicting how San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick uses his Beats headphones to stay calm in the midst of rioting, Walking Dead zombie-like “fans” attacking his tour bus. The use of rapper Aloe Blacc’s song, “The Man,” is exquisite and the search optimization of the video is masterful.

    Even that success is dwarfed by Beats by Dre’s 5-minute “The Game Before The Game,” which has generated a staggering 24.8 million views on YouTube. “Good Lord, Beats by Dre is getting great at sports commercials,” AdAge cooed, after Beats by Dre issued “Game Before The Game.” The video was tied to the World Cup and featured Brazilian soccer god Neymar Jr. Sure, the video is helped by a descriptor box that’s rich in searchable key words and cameos from celebrities such as Nicki Minaj and LeBron James. When you see the Hollywood-style movie poster created to promote Dre’s “The Game” video, you realize you are witnessing YouTube marketing of the highest order.  



    In contrast, most of Bose’s latest YouTube videos were uploaded last May. Its signature #ListenForYourself video (above), has earned barely 24,000 views for its footage of BMX bike riders doing cycle stunts. Like your Uncle Melvin sporting a U2 T-shirt, Bose’s attempt to be “cool” by associating its brand with BMX biking teens feels forced – and the shrill, indie rock music the young man in the clip is listening to may be the only genre of music that would render a Bose headphone unnecessary. It’s worth noting that the most recent #ListenForYourself tweet posted on Bose’s YouTube page is three months old. Another Bose video featuring a BMX biker, “Do What You Love,” has managed to pull in fewer than 7,500 views and this Bose SoundTrue headphone clip with an anonymous guitarist has scraped up barely 6,800 views – all of which suggests that the content of these YouTube clips is not resonating with Bose’s audiences.

    Given that Beats by Dre owns the youth-obsessed, bass-heavy world of hip-hop and indie rock, it’s puzzling why Bose isn’t fighting back by touting its superior sonics to fans of jazz, classical, folk, blues, world-beat, 60s rock and other non-rap music – an audience that may count few BMX bikers among them.  

    #5 – Prepare Your Social Media Channels Before You Need Them

    It’s on Twitter and other social media channels that Beats by Dre most undercuts Bose’s ability to support its headphone brand. When the NFL “We’ll Fine You If You Don’t Wear Bose Headphones” crisis hit, Bose appeared unprepared to connect with consumers via social media, while Beats was ready to mercilessly stomp on Bose online.

    Consider: Beats by Dre has 635,000 followers on Twitter (below) for its flow of 20,000 tweets, while Bose has one-sixth as many Twitter followers (101,000) for a tenth as many tweets (1,761). Beats by Dre begins its Twitter profile with these engaging words: “Sound. Attitude. Culture. Join the Beats Army.” But Bose’ Twitter profile struggles with this text, perhaps written by a team of corporate attorneys: “the official account for product launches and keeping tabs on the stuff we love. . .”

    Beats vs. Bose

    The official Beats by Dre Pinterest page has 3,573 followers with 110 pins. And Bose? Just 31 followers for its “Bose: Better Sound For Life” page. On Instagram, Beats by Dre’s page has 1.5 million followers with 2,000 posts. Bose has earned barely 20,200 followers on Instagram, with an anemic 176 posts. Bose may have a promotable brand message against Beats by Dre, but the rapper’s social media highway is vastly better developed to get the word out to millions of consumers. We often tell our clients – build robust social media channels now, before a crisis makes you wish you’d started engaging with fans on social media earlier.

    #6 – Don’t Be a Character In Your Competitor’s Movie – Tell Your Own Story

    Where were Bose’s PR counselors when the brand was flailing under Beats by Dre’s attack and watching the NFL fine football players in Bose’s name for daring to listen to their competitor’s products?

    “You have a tech company that’s culturally inept,” gloated Jimmy Iovine of Beat’s crisis response. “There’s no one at the company that said, ‘If you ban these guys, you’re going to look bad to the young people, and they’re going to look like superheroes, even though they’re just pure capitalists. . . you’re going to make them (Beats) look like the underdog.'”

    One of the first rules of crisis communications: When under fire by competitors, consumer advocates, regulators or other adversaries, don’t play defense on your opponent’s playing field - by their rules, with their tools, using their vocabulary, in their story. If football players were determined to flaunt Bose’s deal with the NFL by listening with Beats by Dre, Bose’s PR staff would have been smarter to challenge Beats to a head-to-head sound quality and noise cancelling test – a Brand Battle Royale that would move Beats by Dre to the only playing field on which Bose could win.

    #7 - Perception Still Matters More Than Reality

    The most painful part of Bose’s struggle as it fights against Beats by Dre’s celebrity marketing onslaught is this fact:  Bose headphones are, probably, better than Beats by Dre’s products.

    C/Net concluded that Beats by Dre noise-cancelling headphones “don’t quite measure up to” Bose’s QuietComfort 15 headphones.  The influential All Things D column chose the Bose brand over Beats by Dre, and  Inner Fidelity said of Beats by Dre Studio products, “the noise cancelling performance is pretty poor – let’s be truthful: these headphones were. . . as much designed to be worn as bling around the neck as it was to deliver thumping bass – they don’t measure up.” In the words of writer Jesse Dorris: “Beats by Dre have received, at best, mixed reviews.” Dorris concludes that the act of wearing Beats by Dre headphones is essentially “the ritual of wrapping your head in a gleaming status symbol.”


    (Source: Richmond Classics)

    And that’s the most cautionary lesson marketers can draw from Beats by Dre’s success over Bose: A superior product that’s handcuffed by navel-gazing, self-absorbed marketing is going to wither. A merely okay product with brilliant marketing that speaks powerfully to its audience is going to devour that technically better product.

    Remember how the era of, TripAdvisor, Urban Spoon and other user-generated consumer review sites was supposed to cut through marketing BS and ensure that the highest-quality products triumphed via word-of-mouth? But as the late comedian John Pinette would say, “Nay, nay.” Instead, Beats by Dre’s domination of the headphone market proves that without up-to-date marketing – aimed at your audience rather than at your internal stakeholders, employing social media deftly, with strategies that evolve as your demographic targets change – even the best brands can be ravaged by a disruptive upstart.

    The Verge

    (Source: The Verge)

    Of course, no matter how much better Beats by Dre’s marketing might be, the ultimate test is: How well are Bose headphones actually selling vs. Beats by Dre products? This breaking news may suggest the direction things may be heading: reports in October 2014 that Apple has removed Bose products from its online store and many of its brick-and-mortar stores. Combined with that loss of product distribution, Bose – which put its global media agency into review last spring – is at a marketing turning point. As a loyal Bose consumer, all I can say is: God help them and their superior products.

    Paul MaccabeePaul Maccabee is president of Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency. 



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    Topics: Crisis Communications, Brand Strategy, YouTube