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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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    Secret Formulas Behind Successful Social Media Posts

    Posted by Paul Maccabee on Aug 20, 2014 6:54:39 AM

    I recently joined our agency’s VP Jean Hill in delivering a workshop on the data-driven science behind social media before more than 50 marketing executives for a Fortune 100 client. Our #1 goal: we wanted to convince these executives that the best social media marketers think not like marketers at all – but like behavioral scientists.

    SocialMediaFormulasBring any three social media marketers together over an all-you-can-eat dinner of Buffalo Wild Wings, and stand back for a furious debate over:

    • What’s the best time and day of the week to post content via Facebook and other social media channels? (Hint: it depends if you want Facebook likes or shares)
    • What’s the optimal length for a tweet? (Spoiler alert: It’s not 140 characters)
    • How will engagement be increased if you put a link closer to the beginning of a tweet rather than at the end? (Best practice? Insert that link a quarter of the way into your tweet)
    • How often should you post new content on LinkedIn or other online channels? (Answer? Way more often than you currently are).

    I admit, when our agency first began guiding clients toward more effective use of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and other online marketing channels – I thought all posts and links were created equal. I figured that 1,000 likes was better than 10, and that 20,000 followers were far better than 200. If 55,000 people watched your video on YouTube, I was happy. Our clients were happy. All I cared about was – did someone, anyone, absorb our client’s content.

    But our clients and agency quickly learned that generating followers, likes, video views and downloads was only half the battle.

    (Source: University of Georgia)

    Screen_Shot_2014-08-19_at_1.33.48_PMBecause a great musician thinks beyond the notes he or she plays and the number of tickets sold in the auditorium, to consider how is the audience coming to their music and how does the musician want the audience to react when that music is delivered?

    Similarly, an exceptional social media marketer thinks beyond the mechanics of posting YouTube clips, LinkedIn updates and tweets to consider two vital questions:

    • How did the audience come to see your content - via Google or Facebook? Through a click-thru on a tweet or YouTube link? From a PPC ad online?
    • What specific actions do you want them to take once they connect with your company online?

    That last question is critical. As a marketer, your choice of the length, timing and format of your online interaction depends upon the ultimate goal you want your blog, tweeted content or YouTube video to achieve. Possible goals for social media-delivered content are to:

    •       Generate the most possible click-thrus to your own website or other web property
    •       Encourage more social shares to amplify your content among new audiences
    •       Generate the most possible page views and readership
    •       Generate more links back to your website
    •       Spark conversation with comments
    •       Encourage more prospects to download content such as a white paper, e-book or infographic
    •       Improve the findability of your content on search engines like Google

    Not surprisingly, our clients tell us they’re hungry for precision in a social media world that can feel chaotic and uncontrollable. We’re often asked: what’s the magical hour at which a Facebook post will compel thousands to “like” your brand, how often should you post a LinkedIn update, or what’s the best length of a video that will reinforce a clip “going viral” on YouTube?  Fair questions; so we first talk about the science of social media, to wit:

    1. The best length of a tweet if you desire engagement?

    The secret formula of a successful Twitter post is 100 characters or less. Tweets of 100 characters or less receive a 17 percent higher engagement rate than longer tweets.


    (Source: TrackSocial)

    2. Where should you insert a link in your tweet?

    Although the majority of marketers (including, until recently, me) put the link at the end of their tweet, data scientist Dan Zarella analyzed 200,000 tweets and determined that you could do much better. The optimal location for your link to generate click-thrus is 25 percent of the way into your tweet – a location that also ensures if someone retweets you, your link won’t be cut off at the end.


    (Source: Dan Zarrella)

    3. Best day to generate comments about your blog post?

    Blog comments soar on Saturday, and are second highest on Sunday.  But if you want social shares of your post? Thursday is best, with the second best day being Wednesday. The worst day to blog, if you want social shares, is Sunday. (Absorb that statistic: people comment more on weekends, but don’t share as much then.)

    4. Best time to post on your blog if you readership and people to link to your post?

    Blog posts published around 7 am (EST) generate the most inbound links; and author Dan Zarella confirmed that 80 percent of blog consumers read their blog in the morning – so post before breakfast!

    5. How often should you post on Facebook?

    Less frequent but higher quality Facebook posts are the way to go. Researchers found that posting one or two times daily on Facebook generated 32 percent higher “like” rates and 73 percent more comments, compared to marketers who posted more frequently.

    6. Want to persuade people to share your Facebook post?

    Get them to your finish line. found that a person who reads some, but not all, of your content is least likely to share with friends and colleagues. Readers who make it all the way to the very end of your Facebook post are most likely to share with colleagues. Your goal: design your post for maximum suspense, with a climax or teaser so your audience will be compelled to complete it.

    7. Want to acquire more links to your blog content?

    Just add video. found you can attract nearly three times more ILDs (internet linking domains) if you add a video to your blog post, compared to if your post was limited to text. And if you add video, lists and images to your next blog post, you can generate up to six times more internet linking domain links.

    8. What’s the perfect length for a blog post?

    Approximately 1,600 words – which comes to about seven minutes read out loud.


    (Source: Medium)

    But wait! Mastering how to optimize online content for sharing, click-thrus and SEO findability is only half a marketer’s battle – what about the quality of your content? We know that hastily-written, lamely-illustrated content that’s all about your brand rather than all about your brand’s audience will not be shared or downloaded no matter how expertly it’s optimized. Similarly, brilliantly crafted, wildly entertaining and emotionally resonant content such as e-books, videos, white papers, blog posts and infographics won’t be noticed (and generate sales revenue for you) if they’re poorly optimized and weakly distributed on social.

    So like those classic Reese’s TV spots of the 1980s, in which a man munching on chocolate crashes into a woman devouring a jar of peanut butter -- their collision creating the eternal miracle of Reese’s Peanut Butter candies – it’s the sweet mash-up of the science of social media optimization with the art of creating quality content that fulfills the promise of marketing for your company. So – how many rules of social media science did this blog post violate? And did this post achieve the level of quality you need to share it with your co-workers, friends and managers? We’ll sit here munching on Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups until you decide. . .

    Note: MaccaPR blog acknowledges the research and statistics provided above by Buddy Media, Track Social,, Social Fresh, Dan Zarella, Shareaholic, Medium and Upworthy. For more on this science of social media, read Dan Zarella’s astonishing "The Science of Marketing: When to Tweet, What To Post, How to Blog and Other Proven Strategies."

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


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    Topics: Social Media, Measurement

    9 Reasons Why You Should Celebrate Orkin’s “Bug Wisdom” Ad Campaign

    Posted by Paul Maccabee on Jul 30, 2014 6:10:00 AM

    How do we love pest control company Orkin’s "Bug Wisdom" marketing campaign from agency The Richards Group? Let us count the ways this 8-video entomological marvel exemplifies what can be accomplished when a client and its marketing firm have the courage to subvert what’s expected of a brand:


    (Source: AdWeek)

    #1 - The Agency Transformed Orkin’s Prey Into Admirable Foes

    Face it, the reason consumers hire Orkin is to kill bugs – smash them, stomp them, poison them, squish them, ravage them. Yet the "Bug Wisdom" campaign actually pays tribute to the genius of web-weaving, leaf-chomping insects. Rather than portraying them as disgusting vermin, the campaign elevates bees, ants, worms, spiders and caterpillars into tiny sages whose work inspires Orkin to honor them with aphorisms like "Every Now and Then, Stop and Eat the Roses." Here's a link to our favorite spot – video footage of a happy-go-lucky dung beetle pushing a ball of what you’d expect as it whistles "Pop Goes The Weasel," with the caption: "When life hands you dung, just roll with it." 

    #2 - The Client Agreed To (Temporarily) Bench The Orkin Man

    In a bold move for the agency and its client, Atlanta-based Orkin, the "Bug Wisdom" campaign avoids depicting the iconic Orkin Man, that white helmet-attired, bug-obsessed exterminator. First introduced as "Otto the Orkin Man" more than a half century ago, the Orkin Man’s recent appearances in such recent campaigns as "Keeping Pests In Their Place, "Fact or Fake," and "Pest Control Down to a Science" suggest that it might be time for Orkin to terminate its no-longer-that-clever brand character.


    (Source: Orkin)

    #3 - It’s Got A Kick-Butt Tag

    Underscoring Orkin’s marketing position as offering utter mastery of insect behavior, the campaign tag is unbeatable: "Orkin: We Never Stop Learning From Bugs." Compare that gem to rival Terminix’s lame tagline: "Your Strongest Defense Against Pests & Termites."

    #4 – The Campaign Repurposes Existing Content

    In this age of curated, recycled and shared content, we love how the Orkin campaign also broke with typical agency practice by employing stock footage of bugs as an alternative to shooting new insect imagery. If Orkin wanted to extend "Bug Wisdom" on social, they could invite its 20,000 Facebook fans to adapt other existing bug footage into new "Bug Wisdom" clips. 

    #5 - The Campaign Actually Felt Inspired by Bugs

    The video featuring a "typewriting" silkworm was, according to art director Brian Thibodeau, inspired when the agency noticed "the way he moved his head back and forth reminded us of a typewriter," while the manner in which a colony of bees moved "made us think of xylophone notes." The organic, bug-driven nature of the campaign feels completely authentic, rather than seeming inspired by a client brief or a desire to mimic another company’s campaign.



    #6 - The Typography is Killer

    Perhaps it’s because my first (and least favorite) agency job was as a typesetter, but the undulating, hand-sketched typography and graphics in these videos are a quirky delight. "I wanted them [the videos] to feel natural and evoke a sense of timeless wisdom," Thibodeau told AdWeek. "I created the illustrations to loosely represent bug-like antennae, legs and crawly things. I wanted the drawings to accentuate the natural beauty of bugs." Thibodeau succeeded at that; the Richards Group’s attention to typographical detail wins it two ant legs way up.

    #7 - Orkin Accelerated The Bug Videos On Social

    Although not as fully integrated as the campaign’s idea warranted (why no PR campaign for "Bug Wisdom"?), Orkin and The Richards Group did extend the campaign with a quiz to see "which bug you are most like," a Backyard Explorers Kit giveaway with an Orkin Bugview Bug Catching Tool that was heavily promoted by bloggers such as The Megalomaniac Mommy and well-optimized through YouTube posts with 500,000 to 700,000 views. (The social channel that Orkin falls down on is Twitter – Orkin has only 1,467 followers on Twitter and barely promoted the Bug Wisdom campaign there; thank goodness The Richards Group tweeted the Orkin campaign out to its 9,052 followers).


    (Source: Ace and Friends)

    #8 - Even the Bug Industry Liked It (Sort Of)

    Pest Control Technology magazine quoted AdWeek as calling the new Bug Wisdom campaign "somewhat schizophrenic yet oddly endearing."

    #9 - The Sound Effects and Music Are Awesome

    From the flamenco guitar-playing spider to the mosquito slurping an arm full of blood (actually, an audio engineer sipping yogurt through a straw) the sound effects for these wordless 30 to 60-second bug spots are divine. That chomping, crunching sound made by the Green Worm? Apparently, it’s a combination of celery and apples being devoured in-studio.



    Did Orkin’s "Bug Wisdom" campaign drive homeowners by the thousands to call Orkin’s 800 number and book a visit from their local Orkin Guy or Gal? Although no one’s talking about ROI metrics for "Bug Wisdom," from a creative standpoint, this 'bug idea' is light years ahead of pest control rivals Truly Nolen, BioGuard, Terminix and Presto-X in reinforcing a relatable brand for Orkin.

    All we can say is: "Vive Le Orkin!"

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


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    13 Visual Content Tips to Break Through Online Clutter

    Posted by Christina Milanowski on Jul 23, 2014 6:00:00 AM

    Welcome to the age of infobesity in which marketers struggle to separate themselves from online information overload and draw meaningful interest from current and potential customers.

    Pair this digital noise, in which YouTube videos are uploaded at the rate of 100 per minute, with our limited ability to stay focused. Did you know the average adult’s attention span is shorter than that of a goldfish? We have just eight seconds of attention versus nine seconds for the fish. So, how do we capture our audiences' attention?


    In your upcoming marketing content, consider incorporating more visuals to get noticed. One HubSpot study shows photos on Facebook pages receive 53 percent more likes than the average post. Some commenters tout that visuals are processed by the brain 60,000 times faster than text. Though there's disagreement on the accuracy of that specific number, we can all agree that telling your brand's story through photos, gifs and videos can be much more engaging than plain text.

    In fact, social channels with a laser-focus on visual content are exploding. lnstagram has more than 200 million active monthly users and more than 50 million users have signed up for the social network within the last six months. 

    The woman who coined the term "infobesity," social media expert Ekaterina Walter, now speaks frequently on the topic of visual storytelling. Most recently, I saw her at the 2014 Social Media Marketing World, in addition to Australia-based spitfire Donna Moritz, who also spoke about visual content. These visual storytelling insights that follow were inspired by their recent presentations. Take a peek at how images and videos can help us connect with a message much more quickly:

    Visual Storytelling Tips 

    1. Stay "on brand." Benefit Cosmetics did a fantastic job with its #BeautyBoost campaign that used "on brand" images in response to Twitter fans in need of a pick-me-up. The brand attitude and graphic feel shine through in these social media photos.


    (Source: Benefit Cosmetics)

    2. Make it original. Skip the cliché stock photography and be unique. A great deal of what's circulated around the internet is someone else's content. In fact, 80 percent of Pinterest pins are shared content (versus original). Be in the 20 percent and create your own imagery.

    3. Use video effectively. Video content can bring to life what can’t be shared in text. An epic example is Volvo’s video with Jean-Claude Van Damme, depicting the precision of the dynamic steering in its trucks. Watch it:

    4. Leverage Pinterest. Don't forget about Pinterest as part of your online content strategy. Not only is the image-intense Pinterest social channel visual in nature, it’s a great traffic driver. Perpetually popular content on Pinterest is crafts, home decor, food and style, but it can be so much more. For, 30 percent of its referrals from Pinterest are to humorous BuzzFeed articles. 


    (Source: BuzzFeed's Pinterest)

    5. Find ways to add humor. Speaking of which, explore brand-appropriate approaches to adding humor to your online content calendar. This could involve sharing cartoons or other laugh-inducing graphics. Another example is the meme-like image series created by H&R Block.


    (Source: MarketWatch)

    6. Ride the trends. Develop visuals that are relevant to current events and consumer taste. One example is the Oreo brand Super Bowl tweet image. Note, though, that relevancy does have a deadline. Even better, check out Expedia's smart retro photo campaign that capitalizes on the recent online phenomenon of recreating childhood snapshots (Example: Then/Now Tumblr). The travel company is helping lucky fans do just that on a weekly basis. Cool!

    7. Be snackable. Consumers love short and punchy. Provide a visual snapshot of an idea, concept or story in small, bite-size chunks. Moritz recommends creating and sharing mini-infographics, screengrabs with text, and photos with overlayed text like quotes, stats and facts. Here's an example of how Twitter expert Kim Garst uses simple, easy-to-digest graphics on her social sites. This photo quote not only tells a story, but helps Kim stand out from other social strategists. Her content is very frequently shared in other peoples' newsfeeds.

    8. Batch Content. Avoid making one-off graphics for each time you post. When you can, create a series of images all at once.

    9. Marry content with context. Don't write one post for all platforms; ensure the sizing and tone of visual content matches each of your channels. Customize, customize, customize.

    10. Activate your passionate advocates. Dunkin' Donuts does a stellar job of this by encouraging its social media fans to share their Dunkin' Donuts love, as pictured below, in nail art.


    (Source: Dunkin Donuts)

    11. Know the rules. Several social sites have rules stipulating the type of photo content you can share. For example, to ensure high-quality content, Facebook stipulates advertisers share photos with no more than 20 percent text in the ad's image.

    12. SlideShare is a go-to network for business info. From e-books to infographics and PDF one-pagers to presentation decks, SlideShare is a powerhouse for sharing visual business information and education. If you have a B2B audience, don't overlook SlideShare!

    13. Don't forget about the press release. According to a PwR 2013 study, 81 percent of journalists are more likely to cover news that includes an image. Punch up your next press announcement by including a photo or video that tells the story of your news.

    Ready to add more visual content to your online arsenal?

    If you're not yet convinced to include more visuals in your marketing, read these words from The Visual Marketing Revolution author Stephanie Diamond: “Most businesses that don't make a real commitment to create great content won"t achieve the success they envision for themselves... The Web has trained customers to expect a certain level of visual professionalism. If they don’t find it, they won’t choose you."

    If you're ready to get started creating your own images, consider using a photo editor, like Pages for Mac or PhotoShop, or one of the many low-cost graphic design creators, such as Canva. Best yet, consult your graphic designer and always reference your brand style guide! 

    Be inspired by Benefit Cosmetics, Kim Garst and Dunkin’ Donuts to come up with your own visual storytelling successes. Ratchet up your social media and online content marketing efforts with visual content today.

    We'd love to hear from you - which brands have you seen excel at creating video, gif or photo content?

    Michael StelznerChristina Milanowski
     (pictured at left with Mike Stelzner at last year's SMMW conference) is social media director and account supervisor at Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency.

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    Topics: Social Media, Blogging, On the Road, Pinterest

    Revisiting The Power Of LinkedIn: 4 Etiquette Lessons From A Digital Crisis

    Posted by Paul Maccabee on Jul 16, 2014 7:20:45 AM

    With LinkedIn now connecting 300 million members worldwide and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman having just published his "The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age" book last week, it's clear to most of our PR agency's clients (particularly those with a business-to-business focus) LinkedIn is far more than a recruitment and job listing site. Whether you're aiming to engage with nanotechnology engineers, addiction medicine experts, electric utility consultants or Asian chefs, LinkedIn is a critical channel for lead-generating inbound marketing and engaging social media efforts.

    Yet we continue to see businesspeople misusing and abusing LinkedIn protocols. We thought the time was right to re-visit a post we originally published last March – inspired by a LinkedIn-inspired crisis, but still offering powerful lessons for any marketer determined to leverage LinkedIn as a social channel. Read on, and disregard at your own peril...


    Remember those glorious days before Twitter and Facebook, when a marketing executive could be dismissive, casually cruel and outlandishly rude without becoming a viral pariah thanks to social media? Alas, times have changed...

    Consider the example of Cleveland-based job bank operator Kelly Blazek, who received an email and LinkedIn request in February from 26-year-old job-seeker Diana Mekota, a recent college graduate who was returning to the Ohio area to seek employment.

    Would Blazek allow her to subscribe to her 7,300-member job bank and connect with her via LinkedIn, asked Mekota? Rejecting the invitation, Blazek fired off a lacerating response, which follows:

    blazek(Source: Imgur)

    Whew! Stunned, Mekota actually sent this apology to Blazek: "I apologize if this came off as arrogant or invasive. I was hoping to join your very impressive job board but I understand your reservations." However, she then shared Blazek’s savage response on social media via Imgur, which flooded through Twitter, Buzzfeed, Reddit and Facebook. The story was picked up by traditional media such as the Cleveland Plain Dealer, New York Daily News and morning radio DJs, then rippled across the globe in stories by Britain’s The Guardian, NBC,, Huffington Post and

    FOX_8To her credit, Blazek, previously named "2013 Communicator of the Year" by the Cleveland chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators, shut down her Twitter account and apologized profusely saying: "The note I sent to Diana was rude, unwelcoming, unprofessional and wrong."

    But the Pandora’s box of social media sharing is unforgiving – she was even immortalized by a parody Krabby Blazek Twitter account. I expect Google searches for Blazek’s name will highlight her LinkedIn debacle for as long as radioactive plutonium remains lethal.

    Of course, there are lessons that both experienced marketing professionals and early-in-career newbies can draw from this situation. What follows are our four LinkedIn etiquette lessons from this digital blow-up.

    #1. You Can No Longer Be a Jerk And Expect To Keep It Private

    Just as online reviewers are quick to blow the whistle on defective products, shabby service at retail stores, abusive pizza-makers, unthinking rental car clerks and baggage-crushing airlines, businesspeople can no longer expect that inconsiderate behavior of any type will remain private. As demonstrated by the viral sharing of Alec Baldwin’s answering machine message to his daughter (in which the actor called the 11-year-old a "rude thoughtless pig") and the exposure of "secret" emails sent by aides of Gov. Chris Christie about the closing of the George Washington Bridge, if it’s potentially embarrassing to your company and can be shared, forwarded, posted or emailed via a smartphone – it will be. As crisis counselors, we used to advise clients to avoid saying anything to a journalist that "you wouldn’t want to see above the fold on the cover of the New York Times;" today, that’s been replaced by "don’t do or say anything that could become a trending topic on Twitter."

    #2. Never Forget You Were Once Young and Naive

    I remember how vulnerable I felt while job hunting early in my PR career. I still have vivid memories of the day, more than 21 years ago, when I was turned down after my 40th job interview and convinced that I would never be employed again. So when sweetly naive marketing professionals, or even mid-career marketers freshly terminated from a job they thought was eternally secure, send me a LinkedIn invite today, I often pop them a reply noting that we’re strangers. I add that I’d be happy to talk by phone or meet with them over coffee to answer questions they might have about the Twin Cities marketing scene. After that coffee, we won’t be strangers anymore. . . and then we can connect via LinkedIn. Humility comes hard to all of us, but it helps when I remember the mistakes I made when I was young.


    (Source: Mashable)

    #3. When In Rome, Do As the Online Romans Do – Etiquette for LinkedIn

    The codes of conduct followed by members of social media channels Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and on hundreds of online chatrooms can appear strange, but it only takes a few minutes to learn what is acceptable conduct versus what will get you flagged and de-friended on your chosen social channel. The value of LinkedIn is that it enables you to curate which professionals with whom you want to be publicly associated.

    The guiding etiquette of LinkedIn is that you’ll only connect with people you know. Of course, we all make exceptions when the chief marketing officer of a Fortune 100 company invites us to connect with her. Here’s good advice: customize your LinkedIn connection request if you expect your recipient may not recognize you. If you’ve heard them speak or met them at an event, tell them when your paths last crossed. Even better, if you think of a way that you could be of value to them, let them know that too. Don’t risk being a LinkedIn pariah - check out this helpful "Complete Guide to LinkedIn Etiquette," from Mashable.

    #4. Indulge in Random Acts Of Gratuitous Kindness

    As the great Otis Redding sang, we seasoned marketing pros have to "try a little tenderness" with job seekers who try to navigate the shoals of social media etiquette and occasionally get online egg on their faces.

    People do not forget small moments of grace, kindness and forgiveness, especially during moments of crisis in their lives, from joblessness to other losses. Minneapolis-based author Harvey Mackay, of "Swim With The Sharks" fame, wrote that when he attended his father’s funeral, he memorized the faces of every mourner so he’d never forget which people took the time to celebrate his father’s life during that sad time. When I hear that a marketing pro in Minnesota has lost his or her job, I try to be the first person to let them know that my network is now his or her network – and that they’re not alone as they seek new employment. Adman Don Peppers used to tell his clients that if they were ever laid off from their company, he had an empty office at his agency that would be available to them as a free headquarters from which they could seek their new job.

    AngieStoneQuote.jpbWriting about Kelly Blazek's LinkedIn rejection incident, England’s Guardian suggested that a smart professional "would have suggested some job leads and likely earned the life-long loyalty of the college grad, something far more powerful than mere online connections." Every suddenly unemployed marketing executive (and there are hundreds now in the Twin Cities) provides an opportunity for the currently employed (that’s you) to share a moment of generosity. If for no other reason, it makes sense to be kind to job-seekers because someday your rock solid job will evaporate, and that young, naive, Facebook-crazed Millennial who asked to connect via LinkedIn with you today will be the Executive Vice President of Marketing and empowered to decide if you should be hired or passed over.

    As soul singer Angie Stone says, "What goes around comes around, and karma kicks us all in the butt in the end of the day."

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


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    Topics: LinkedIn

    9 Travel Marketing Campaigns That Will Make You Laugh

    Posted by Paul Maccabee on Jul 10, 2014 5:05:00 AM

    Here’s a question for marketers – what’s the funniest place to be in America right now: in the audience of a Louis CK show, backstage at NBC-TV’s 'Saturday Night Live,' or in mid-air during a Southwest Airlines 777 flight heading toward Houston?


    (Source: Virgin)

    The answer, incredibly, could be found in the seatback of that Southwest flight. The travel industry – seldom known for its goofy hilarity – has been embracing public relations, advertising and video marketing campaigns that feature comedic (as well as not-quite-as-funny-as-they-hoped-to-be) TV spots and in-flight videos. Suddenly airlines, hotels, convention and visitor bureaus (CVBs) and travel agencies that had focused on ruthless efficiency, discounted pricing and, well, their ability to actually fly planes (as in such slogans as United’s "It’s Time to Fly" and Delta’s "We Love To Fly and It Shows") are embracing their inner Robin Williams, and trying to differentiate its travel brands with envelope-pushing sexuality, celebrity cameos and stand-up comedy.

    For example, check out nine case studies of humor in travel marketing:

    1. Air New Zealand’s "Nothing to Hide" TV Spot

    You can begin with Air New Zealand’s "Nothing to Hide" TV spot, which used body painted, nearly-nude employees to suggest its flight staff would be utterly transparent with travelers. The "love a man in uniform" kicker is quite funny!

    2. “Do It For Denmark” Campaign

    Even better is Spies Travel’s exquisitely executed "Do It For Denmark," a campaign seemingly designed to encourage Danes to conceive children overseas while on vacation to counteract Denmark’s falling birth rate. What’s funny about "Do It For Denmark" sneaks up on you: computer animated ovum, an outrageously phallic Eiffel Tower graph, and a tongue-in-cheek contest that promises to reward post-vacation pregnancies with child-friendly vacations. 


    (Source: Spies Rejser)

    3. Norway’s "Airport Love" TV Spot

    And, although a retailer rather than a travel company created the "Airport Love" TV spot, today’s discussion can’t ignore it. Norway’s XXL All Sports United produced "Airport Love" in support of gay athletes competing at Sochi. Simultaneously sending up heterosexual male preening and airline advertising clichés, the campaign tweaks viewers’ preconceptions with the GLBT tagline, "Whatever Team You Play For." 


     (Source: XXL YouTube)

    4. Air New Zealand’s Passenger Safety Video

    The epicenter of this new wave of travel industry hilarity must be the transformation of the pre-takeoff safety messages – yes, that droning request that you fasten your seatbelt, locate the emergency exits and turn off your cell phone – into a comedic art form. Witness this disco-fied safety video for Air New Zealand, led by fitness guru Richard Simmons.



    5. Virgin America’s “VX Safety Dance” Video

    Surely the apotheosis of all in-flight safety messages is Virgin America’s “VX Safety Dance” video: five stunning minutes of hip-shakin’ choreography and oooh-wah girl group singing guided by “Step Up 2” director Jon M. Chu. Virgin Airlines turned this “Safety Dance” video into a master class of integrated travel marketing – launching the clip with an event in New York’s Times Square and then keeping the campaign alive by suggesting travelers upload an Instagram video of their dance moves using hashtag #VXsafetydance, to audition for Virgin’s next campaign. The humor in the Safety Dance clip comes not from punch lines, but from the unexpected joy and collaborative energy of top-flight dancers and singers working way, way outside most corporations’ comfort zones. For a sense of the effort that Virgin’s safety video took, here’s a six-minute behind-the-scenes reveal.

    6. Delta Airlines’ Video Outtakes

    In contrast to the uplifting playfulness of Virgin’s video extravaganza, consider Delta’s stiff  "80s In-flight Safety Video," which brings to mind Shakespearean actor Edmund Kean’s wisdom: "Dying is easy. Comedy is hard." Although Delta’s video, featuring TV alien Alf, generated 1.6 million views on YouTube, it feels forced - as if intellectual property attorneys guided its humor. Vastly funnier and more entertaining are these 2013 Delta video out takes. These bloopers suggest that travel marketers would do well to become comfortable creating videos with less polish and more spontaneous humanity. 


     (Source: veeoz)

    7. College Humor’s "Why Can’t You Use Phones on Planes" Video

    Part of the challenge for travel marketers is that the best comedy is often transgressive and subversive (cue Monty Python’s "Bring Out Your Dead!") – adjectives that don’t fit well in the world of corporate aviation. It’s worth noting that the funniest airplane video of the year was not produced by an airline, but by the satirists at College Humor. Can anyone imagine this "Why Can’t You Use Phones on Planes" video being created by a business that actually flies airplanes, or what the ‘stewardess’ refers to as a "30-ton dumpster running on God Knows What Magic"?

    8. Southwest Airlines’ Employee-Generated Video

    Perhaps the most encouraging development in travel marketing is the sub-genre of videos documenting flight attendants delivering the pre-takeoff briefing in rhyme, rap, or as stand-up comedy. Check out this Southwest Airlines video featuring flight attendant Marty Cobbs’ blue-collar wit ("As you know, this is a no smoking, no whining, no complaining flight; it’s a please and thank you and you are such a good lookin’ flight attendant flight . . . and if you’re traveling with small children. . . we’re sorry").



    Poorly shot, relatively unscripted, and with a production budget that must have been a few nickels shy of the cost of an in-flight roast beef sandwich, this charming video provided Southwest’s brand with 10 million YouTube views, leading to Cobbs’ warm appearance on "The Ellen Show." Could there have been a better evangelist for the Southwest brand than this everyday Texas employee?

    What’s most remarkable is that Southwest bravely encourages its flight attendants, within certain parameters, to create their own pre-flight entertainment – just as our agency advises clients to empower their employees to become advocates for their brands. Part of the appeal of these in-flight comedic performances is that they suggest that a company’s external marketing campaign might actually carry over to the traveler’s real world experience inside the plane or at the hotel.

    9. Hilton Hotel & Resorts’ "Vacationitis" PR Campaign

    On the public relations side, few travel companies have delivered The Funny more successfully than the 550-property Hilton Hotels & Resorts. Hilton launched a campaign to eradicate "vacationitis," which they admitted was "a fictitious disease affecting overstressed workers around the world, incapable of taking long or short-term breaks."


    (Source: Hilton)

    Vacationitis campaign elements included a pop-up stunt event in London, the rebranding of Hilton ambassadors as Hilton "Doctors," the opening of a Hilton Urgent Vacation Care Center, tailored "prescriptions" that suggested the right Hilton property for what ails you, and a Hilton-branded Vacationitis Ambulance that distributed health warnings. Smartly, Hilton partnered with the satirical staff at The Onion to produce an e-book documenting the symptoms of vacationitis. Hilton even segment-marketed to the GLBT community, with Vacationitis events at gay pride festivals under the theme "Stay Hilton. Go Out." The results for Hilton: 100 million PR placements, 18,000 entries into its Vacationitis sweepstakes, and a doubling of its Facebook in just 30 days. 

    So, will travelers bestow brand preferences on travel companies that make them chuckle? Alas, there’s still a disconnect: the process of travel is not seen as a laugh-riot experience for consumers. A 2012 TripAdvisor survey found that 43 percent of flyers consider airplanes to be "the most germ-laden travel locations," nearly half of travelers are not loyal to any particular airline brand, and 22 percent of travelers "don’t enjoy a single thing about air travel."

    Mind you, what I require from my airline flights is simple: no smoking, arrival at my destination within 30 minutes of the scheduled time, no full-cavity body searches, and absolutely nothing happening during my flight that would later require a NTSB investigation or search for a black box.

    What I require from my resort or hotel is even simpler: Starbucks-quality coffee, a clean bed, perhaps with Godiva Chocolates resting on my pillow, and nothing in the shower stall that can outrun me and a can of RAID. Making me laugh is way, way down the list of my expectations for a resort, hotel, travel agency or airline.

    But, I have to admit, the appeal of Southwest’s comedic flight attendants suggests that many travelers like me are hungry to be treated not as flight cargo with legs, but as human beings with funny bones. Would I rather fly on an airplane if it had David Holmes, Southwest’s Rapping flight attendant, onboard? Oh yeah, baby.

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


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    Topics: Brand Strategy, Video

    The Marketing Power of Wikipedia: 8 Tips for PR Pros

    Posted by Christina Milanowski on Jul 2, 2014 7:23:00 AM

    As PR and marketing professionals – and consumers – we often forget about the sheer power and influence that Wikipedia has on our daily lives. Wikipedia is a permanent part of our public culture. It was even mentioned on the TV show, The Office: 


    (Source: Rock Paper Watch)

    All jokes aside, Wikipedia does have a distinct influence on the business community. Shareholders, employees and clients rely on your company’s Wikipedia profile to learn about your company’s strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures. Here are several reasons why your brand’s Wikipedia page is one of your biggest online marketing assets:

    1. The SEO Power of Wikipedia: Pages rank in the top 10 search results 95 percent of the time. (Source: Social Fresh) Tweet This
    2. Wikipedia is just plain popular. Did you know Wikipedia is among the top six sites in the U.S. after Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo and Amazon? (Source: Alexa). Tweet This
    3. Facebook relies on Wikipedia. Did you know Facebook uses content directly from Wikipedia to feed its community pages? Tweet This So, what you see on Wikipedia, you may also find on Facebook, which itself is the second most trafficked site in the world. (Source: Alexa)
    4. It’s always being updated: Wikipedia has more than 21 million users and a whopping two billion edits. (Source: Inc.) Tweet This

    Acknowledging these benefits suggests that you deem your company's Wikipedia presence as vitally important to your reputation. But, what’s a PR pro to do if there’s a typo, factual error, missing content on your page, or, gasp, your notable company or brand isn’t even on Wikipedia? 

    One of Wikipedia's biggest challenges has been its ability to police the accuracy of its content and the users who make edits to Wiki pages. However, Wikipedia has basically told company representatives (whether they be PR agency or in-house communicators) NOT to edit their companies’ pages. At all. It’s against the rules.

    The quickest way to ruin your company’s standing with Wikipedia is for you or your PR colleague to make edits to your own page. In accordance with recent changes, here are eight tips for how to manage your company's Wikipedia page.


    (Source: The Atlantic)

    1. Search yourself. First and foremost, make sure you're aware of any presence your company or brand may already have. This will set yourself apart, as a full 25 percent of communicators surveyed in a 2012 Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) study were not familiar with their own Wikipedia pages. 
    2. Monitor. Secondly, if you there is an existing Wikipedia page about your company, make sure to monitor it a few times each year to ensure it's not hijacked by inaccurate information. 
    3. Always follow the rules! Our agency's rule of thumb has always been to proceed with extreme caution when doing anything involving Wikipedia. Take a close look at the rules defined by Wikipedia. The Wikipedia foundation believes employees, supporters and publicity agents (e.g. PR professionals) have conflicts of interest in creating or modifying articles, thus should not do so. Wait, what… do nothing?
    4. Suggest edits... in the Talk section. According to that same PRSA Wikipedia survey, 60 percent of corporate and agency PR professionals saw factual errors in their Wikipedia pages. The gold standard for remedying this is to ask Wikipedia editors to do so. In fact, a new June 2014 agreement between some of the largest PR firms in America promises that its PR professionals will abide by Wikipedia’s rules. What this means is that you can share content suggestions or corrections though the Talk section at the upper left hand side of any Wikipedia article. Be aware: It may take several days or weeks to hear a response. 
    5. Full disclosure. When using Wikipedia, ensure that you're disclosing who you are and your (paid) relationship with the company. As of last month, Wikipedia now says editors must disclose all paid contributions.
    6. WikipediaPRTalk like a Wiki-God. "Be aware that PR copy is almost always inappropriate in tone for Wikipedia," states the Organization page on Wikipedia. The site is founded on principles of verifiability and neutral point of view. For example, facts are almost always cited by a third-party website or news article and the community is generally self-policing. So, be sure to suggest sources for all of your requested content edits and provide neutral, non-partisan content.
    7. If you don't have a Wikipedia page, just wait. "The best thing to do is to not write an article at all. Sit back and wait. Or, rather, build up your business. When it starts being notable, a Wikipedian will write about," counsels the folks at Chartered Institute of Public Relations in its "Wikipedia Best Practice Guidance for Public Relations Professionals" e-book.
    8. Know the risks. If you don't follow the Wikipedia rules at all, you might be ostracized. For example, the U.K.-based agency Bell Pottinger was caught editing Wikipedia articles on behalf of its clients, prompting Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales to publicly say the agency suffered from "ethical blindness."
    Through all of this, you might feel as though your hands are tied. California-based PR professional Phil Gomes continues to lead the charge for Wikipedia-approved actions from PR pros. Follow his Facebook group, Corporate Representatives for Ethical Wikipedia Engagement (CREWE), to learn more.

    Here's hoping that Wikipedia's rules become crisper and cleaner for corporate communicators and company reps. In the meantime, keep an eye on your Wikipedia page, but let the community police your presence for you. 

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

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    Topics: Wikipedia

    "Be Your Way" Ad Slogan Shows Burger King Losing Its Way

    Posted by Paul Maccabee on Jun 18, 2014 7:10:39 AM


    (Source: Burger King YouTube

    Although the classic marketing slogan of Burger King’s may not have the historic resonance of John F. Kennedy’s “Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You,” the restaurant chain’s 40-year-old tag, “Have It Your Way,” has always struck me as a work of haiku-like genius.  You may not know the words to Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue,” but all of us can recall these lyrics: “Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us, all we ask is that you let us serve it your way!”

    Consider what those four words, “Have It Your Way,” imply to Burger King customers. The BBDO-created marketing theme left open the precise nature of the “it” that you can have your way with. Even if your marriage, family or career are not going “Your Way,” the slogan suggested that at least in a Burger King your life can be in your control and going your way, damn it. Precisely what “your way” means, of course, is left unspoken – you want the burger overcooked? Coated with bacon? Drenched in ketchup so it spills over the bun? Yes, yes – even if BK is horrified by your culinary choices, the slogan implied it would serve that burger your way.

    Such ambiguous slogans have worked well in presidential politics. Case in point: George Wallace’s 1972 campaign theme, “Send Them A Message,” which its creator, Florida ad man Dan Crisp said “means anything you want it to mean.” The “them” in Wallace’s mantra could have been women, gays, hippies, Latinos, socialists, liberals, anarchists; your message could be about guns, the Vietnam War, school bussing, or. . . . race. Whoever and whatever bothered you – the voter filled in the blanks with the Alabama Governor’s theme. (Plus, “Send Them A Message” was inarguably a better slogan than Wallace’s previous mantra: “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”)

    Have It Your Way

    Burger King’s “Have It Your Way” slogan, at its core, empowered consumers to make decisions, whether or not they defied common sense or expert’s advice. Just as Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign slogan, “In Your Heart You Know He’s Right,” gave voters license to vote for Arizona’s U.S. Senator (even if a voter’s head suggested that handing Goldwater the nuclear button was a ticket to Armageddon), Burger King’s “Have It Your Way” enables consumers to dismiss warnings from nutritionists, dietitians and their own physicians - “Oh, I’m not supposed to eat high fat and fried food? Sorry, Dr. Oz, I’m having this burger my way!”

     (Souce: PRWR7900)

    The subtext of “Have It Your Way,” of course, was the intimation that BK rival McDonald’s (just named “Creative    Marketer of the Year” at the 2014 Cannes Lions Festival) was so rigid, they’d refuse to give you extra pickles if you sank to your knees and begged them for it. “Have It Your Way” was a thing of 4-word beauty. And now, God help us, it’s gone. After a game of musical chairs with a series of ad agencies, including Mother and Crispin Porter Bogusky, Burger King has switched its marketing tagline to the Zen koan-like, “Be Your Way.”

    Developed by agency DAVID, the new “Be Your Way” theme, according to Burger King’s press release, tells consumers “they can and should live how they want anytime. It’s OK to not be perfect. . . “ In other words, while America’s self-help industry is telling us we should be smarter, slimmer, healthier and better looking (exemplified by the title of Tim Ferriss’ book, “The Four Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex and Becoming Superhuman”), Burger King is offering comfort – ‘hey, it’s OK to be chubby, slow and ignore dietary warnings; we here at BK accept you as you are!’ In the words of novelist Ilan Mochari writing in Inc. magazine: “Imagine what it’s like to be obese. Everywhere you go, you’re told that you’re a heart attack waiting to happen. That you need to make better choices. Now imagine, there’s a restaurant where you don’t feel demonized. In the message of ‘Be Your Way,’ there’s utter acceptance.”  

    Remember when Burger King unabashedly focused on the taste and very girth of its flame-grilled sandwiches, with slogans like, “It Takes Two Hands To Hold A Whopper”? In contrast, Burger King’s new “Be your Way” slogan is notable for avoiding any reference to Burger King’s product (the “it” in “Have It Your Way” has vanished) or even the sheer experience of eating a Triple Whopper (1,160 calories, 1050 mg of sodium and 75 grams of fat) in a Burger King.   

    Will “Be Your Way” be cast into the graveyard of past Burger King campaign themes like “Taste Is King” (although I liked the vague Elvis Presley flavor of that one), “This Is A Burger King Town,” “I Love this Place!,” and "The Best Food for Fast Times”?

    JohnArms[1]For a second opinion, we spoke to the highly opinionated John Arms, CEO of the Minneapolis ad agency, Wingnut. "The TV spots around the new slogan are funny, which is what I’m used to from BK. So kudos there. The new tagline? Meh. All I ask of people advertising to me is to make it easy for me to like you. This is a problem for Burger King. They nailed it with ‘Have It Your Way’ years ago. Nailed it."

    “Since then, Burger King had some shining moments as well, A++ work for the Subservient Chicken,” adds Arms.

    (Source: John Arms)

    “But unless there’s a secret behind the curtain we haven’t seen yet, ‘Be Your Way’ is going to be quickly forgotten. Or worse, meaningless to BK. ‘Be Your Way’ sounds like the result of a compromise. It smacks of people in a room fighting over words and nomenclature, and forgetting the most important rule: where is the customer in all of this?”                                          

    Subservient Chicken

    In its defense, the restaurant chain’s SVP-Global Brand Marketing Fernando Machado said in interviews, “we’re trying to elevate ‘Have It Your Way’ to a state that’s much more emotional and centered around self-expression.”

    BK chief marketing officer Alex Schwan adds that upcoming campaigns will “showcase our guests being their own way in whatever iteration that may be.” That Burger King-endorsed “self expression” is exemplified by new TV spots show a customer paying for a dollar lotto ticket in a convenience store with .  . . a Burger King sandwich. See video above.

    Unfortunately, these mildly funny spots play into the ridicule the media have heaped on “Be Your Way.” For example the New York Post, advised: “Be Your Way might work at Bible Camp. . . . (But) ‘Be your Way’ doesn’t fit the meat-eating experience . . . As a practical matter, what if ‘Your Way’ is to be naked when you dine? What if ‘Your Way’ is to refuse to pay? What if ‘Your Way’ is to eat a Big Mac purchased at that other chain inside a Burger King restaurant?” 

    All I can say to that is, please God, please Mr. Burger King – bring back our beloved Subservient Chicken.    

    (Source: Burger King Twitter)   

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


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    Topics: Brand Strategy

    Q&A with Inbound Marketer Catherine Mandler from Deluxe Corp.

    Posted by Christina Milanowski on Jun 3, 2014 6:50:00 AM

    What can you and other marketers learn from Catherine Mandler, an Integrated Marketing Specialist at Shoreview, Minn.-based Deluxe Corp.? Plenty.

    Recently I had the pleasure of sitting down to interview Catherine in honor of Inbound Marketing Week, which is being coordinated by HubSpot to encourage professionals to share knowledge about their own inbound marketing. With more than 20 years of marketing experience, she’s now focused exclusively on the new art and science of inbound marketing at Deluxe Corp. Catherine and I met last year at HubSpot's Inbound conference during a Minneapolis user group meet-up in Boston. In fact, we met HubSpot co-founder Dharmesh Shah together (pictured below). What a genuinely nice and smart guy he was!


    If we didn’t ask a burning question that you have about inbound marketing, please comment below and we’ll be sure that Catherine answers you!

    First and foremost, how do you define inbound marketing? It can mean different things to different people and even go by other names, such as content marketing and lead generation. So, what does inbound marketing mean to you at Deluxe?

    "To me, inbound marketing seeks to attract people who are your company’s best prospects without outbound marketing by knowing your audience/defining personas and answering their questions with one-to-one content they'll find on their own time."


    (Source: Hubspot)

    When did you first learn about inbound marketing?

    "I first heard about inbound a couple years ago. At the time, Deluxe Corp. was looking for a turnkey way to promote our webinars and improve our email targeting efforts. We looked at other inbound marketing services, including Marketo, but ultimately chose HubSpot. Our move to inbound marketing meant emails that took, say, 10 employees several weeks could now be coordinated and highly-targeted by just 2-3 people in a week."

    Which Deluxe services do your marketing and sales teams promote via inbound marketing?

    "One of my main goals as a marketer for Deluxe Corp. is to attract small business owners. We have several services for them, such as website design, SEO directory listings, search engine optimization and Facebook marketing management."

    What has been your favorite content offer from Deluxe that you’ve been a part of?


    "We recently offered a free downloadable e-book called “Facebook for Business: The Complete Guide to Increasing Fans & Engagement.” It's a popular topic among our small business owner audience. Deluxe has promoted it really well. For example, we emailed the e-book to some of our aged leads – those who we hadn't heard from in over 45 days. We consider 30 percent downloads a success traditionally, but this one had over 55 percent actual downloads!"

    What have been some of the biggest growing pains internally when implementing and growing HubSpot’s inbound marketing model?

    "Because inbound marketing requires a corporation to come together to move forward, it’s important to have internal champion(s). There’s a big shift to align sales and marketing much more closely. You need someone from above to tie the multi-department efforts together and ensure buy-in by executives."

    That’s a great lesson! What other tips do you have for marketers starting anew with inbound marketing? 

    1. Start Small - Take inbound marking in steps, but don't be afraid to try new things. 
    2. Prioritize - You'll have so many ideas for content and fine-tuning your inbound marketing processes. It can be overwhelming, so you'll definitely have to prioritize. 
    3. Be Inclusive – The HubSpot model is great for sales. From your Salesforce administrator to your chief marketing officer, involve lots of people internally in inbound marketing campaigns. 
    4. Understand Who You're Talking to First - Working with sales, identify what customers or prospects are asking and why they are not buying your services. Understand and answer those pain points when creating blog posts, call-to-action buttons, articles and e-books. 
    5. Test Regularly - Deluxe tests something each month. For example, we recently A/B tested an existing landing page. To the new version, we infused design best practices, which resulted in a 70 percent increase in downloads. In sum, it was a better user experience. 
    6. Small Changes Can Mean Big Success - Recently, we changed the banner images on our homepage. By simply changing the order of the banner images, we’ve seen a big improvement. In fact, our main offer saw a four-fold increase in response.
    7. Think About the Next Step – It's not just about that one e-book download or the contents of your latest blog post. Give your leads the opportunity to raise their hands and be helped. Allow them to take the next steps, which might be signing up for a weekly e-newsletter or being contacted by sales. 
    8. Rely on Good Data – My team and I often receive emails that are so off-target. Be diligent about cleaning up your email database. Use the data you have about your audience to be relevant. For example, if I’ve downloaded content from you before, don’t treat me like a new prospect. Send me an email that nurtures our relationship and recognizes that you know something about me.

    What do you love most about the HubSpot inbound marketing software that Deluxe uses?

    "The smart fields and progressive profiling for online forms are great; it makes it easy for our leads to download content without having to fill out all of the information every single time. We’re also able to capture additional information that helps segment our lists.

    Most recently, we've spent a good amount of time with the lead scoring capability. Of the thousands  of leads in our system, we can "score" them based on number of e-books downloaded, if they've ever attended a Deluxe webinar, etc. It is a big improvement that really ties all of our work together. It helps us target emails and content more effectively – and relay top prospects to our sales team. We now only send leads to sales when they’re considered Marketing Qualified (and not every time an e-book is downloaded)."

    Who inspires your inbound marketing work?

    "Years ago, I heard the story of content marketing speaker and consultant Marcus Sheridan aka The Sales Lion and how he saved his pool business with inbound marketing principles. It was inspirational to me that he went against the grain to do what his customers needed and wanted, not what traditional sales models instructed."

    (Source: Marcus Sheridan YouTube)

    How do you stay up-to-date and learn more about the constantly changing practice of inbound marketing?

    "I really like attending the Minneapolis HubSpot User Group events. Speaking with others helps me figure out the quirks in the software and what’s working best for other users. I also use Twitter to stay up on what the influencers are saying about inbound marketing."

    What is your favorite HubSpot e-book of all time?

    "Oh, that’s difficult. There are so many! I’d say my favorites are the ones from Dan Zarrella, such as The Science of Twitter.  Plus, I’ve seen HubSpot offering Zarrella’s content in really smart ways. For example, I attended a social media webinar from HubSpot a few weeks ago and for attending I was offered a free chapter. I could earn additional special offers, too, if I forwarded the webinar invite to friends."

    Inbound marketing strategy requires good content. When do you find your groove to write your blog posts or inbound content for Deluxe?

    "I write on Saturdays in the quiet of the morning. I’ve tried to make a point to write my own personal blog posts regularly, which is something I’m still working on. I find inspiration in talking to other small business owners and attending local events and just staying on top of current events."

    Speaking of which, the Huffington Post has published several articles by you – congrats! Can you tell us more about that experience – and the impact?

    articles"My first blog post ever was on The Huffington Post. After last year’s Inbound conference, I was so inspired by Arianna Huffington’s speech about work-life balance needs of business leaders. In it, she invited the audience to share their own stories about how to relax, how you find time, anything. So, I emailed my thoughts to Arianna directly. She replied right away copying in one of her editors and voila I was published. It has been a really rewarding experience to spend time writing about the entrepreneurial spirit and challenges female entrepreneurs specifically face. I want to be respectful of the opportunity and haven’t included my work biography or Deluxe blog links in my Huffington Post byline. But, I have seen an increase in my Twitter followers."

    [Editor’s Note: Read Catherine's Huffington Post articles here: Find Out Why Carolyn Left Her 6 Figure Job to Start Her Own Business, Why You Need to Support a Female Entrepreneur, Playing It Safe No Longer Works for Today's Business, and 5 Reasons You Are Wrong and Arianna Huffington Is Right]

    (Source: Huffington Post)

    Thanks to Catherine for sharing her inbound marketing smarts with us - and happy Inbound Marketing Week! Follow the hashtag – #InboundMarketingWeek – for international discussion about inbound marketing. Follow Catherine on Twitter at @CMMandler. 

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

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    Topics: Interviews, Inbound Marketing, E-Book

    Calling All Marketers: Let's Banish the Word 'Should'

    Posted by Gwen Chynoweth on May 29, 2014 5:00:00 AM

    Editor's Note: This article was featured on and

    Words are the lifeblood of marketers and corporate communicators. Yet, seldom do we take time to reflect on the positive or negative power that a single common word can have on our intended audiences. Yes, there are plenty of words that scholars and social researchers advise marketers to avoid. For example, the word very rarely adds anything useful to a sentence. In fact, among the hundreds of writing pundits who advise not using very, inbound marketing HubSpot’s Niti Shah says the word has no business being said out loud.

    Here’s another: Time Magazine suggests that the word ‘hope’ implies a lack of planning and to delete it entirely from your entrepreneurial vocabulary.

    The word I want to focus on in this post is should.


    Gwen Chynoweth asks you to, please, stop shoulding on yourself!

    I’ve been trying to eliminate should from my lexicon in communicating with co-workers, clients, media – anyone, actually. It’s a lesson I learned from a former co-worker and friend who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. While she struggled with her new physical reality, mental, emotional and spiritual issues also overwhelmed her. Her doctor advised her to reduce as much stress as possible so she could concentrate on coping successfully with her diagnosis. As she navigated the myriad stress-reducing techniques available, one of the most effective was really quite simple: Eliminate should from her vocabulary.

    “Simple,” however, does not mean “easy.” How many times a day do you utter the word should? How many times do you hear it in conversation? See it in ad copy? Come across it in a strategic plan, blog post, or even a tweet? How frequently do you type it in an email?

    Eliminating any word that most corporate communicators and marketers take for granted can be daunting, but, depending on the word, can reap big benefits. Think about it:

    • Should places on our shoulders the burden of others’ expectations, rather than liberating us to live life on our own terms. “I should lose weight,” “I should be making more money” are two examples of a thought pattern that demands we live up to what somebody else thinks is the proper way to approach life regardless of our own desires. The same holds true for us as professional communicators: “I should be earning an agency promotion,” or “I should be winning that marketing award.”
    • Should is a shame-based word. Telling anyone – a co-worker, friend, spouse – that they should do this or should not do that is a passive way of pointing out that they are NOT doing what you want them to.
    • In a work setting, should indicates a lack of respect for the other – an inflexible “father knows best” attitude that can shut down back-and-forth dialogue that could generate better ideas. “You should use this process,” or “You should work with so-and-so on this project” may be well-intentioned advice, but phrases like this can deter an employee from searching for a better way.
    • Even in a PR and social media marketing agency setting like ours, telling a client that they should do something that we recommend implies that we know their business better than they do, and that’s not conducive to nurturing a productive agency/client partnership.

    I’ve been working at eliminating should from my vocabulary for years, and still catch myself saying it occasionally. But, it’s worth the effort when you consider how negative the word is and how much guilt and shame it generates in all of us. So, please, stop shoulding on yourself.

    Lessons Learned from My Journey to Remove Should from My Daily Word Diet

    1. Be conscious – Recognize the power of your words and continually be mindful of how you use them. Start by just listening for the word and, when you hear it, make note of it.
    2. Focus on the benefits – Instead of telling a co-worker or client they should be doing more of something; try to focus on the benefit of taking that particular action.
    3. Change your attitude – Rather than shoulding yourself to the gym, into saving more money or putting in extra hours to complete a work assignment, which is sure to generate fear, guilt or feelings of worthlessness, substitute should with want and see if you’re more likely to actually do the things you’ll benefit from.
    4. Realize you always have options – There is nothing – and I mean nothing – in this world that we HAVE to do. Yes, the consequences of doing certain things – like not paying your taxes or disobeying the law – are more dire than, say, not washing the dishes tonight. But it’s always our choice. That realization is incredibly liberating.

    Try eliminating should from your daily word choice. It will take time. But, be patient; you’ll see improvements in your stress levels. You’ll also discover more positive, engaging conversations that can lead to more meaningful relationships both personally and professionally.

    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: Corporate Communications, Agency Life

    5 Lessons from Aww-Inspiring Uses of Babies in Marketing Content

    Posted by Christina Milanowski on May 22, 2014 8:15:00 AM

    Why are marketers obsessed with featuring babies – giant babies, talking babies, parachuting babies – in their advertising and online content? From the surreal “Baby” ad for Nationwide Insurance to the Kia “Space Babies” spot, the airwaves and Web channels are clogged with diaper-clad babies doing very un-babyish things. Is it just a gimmick or does it actually sell product? Take a look at the following examples and weigh in with your thoughts below.

    Exhibit A: Evian

    On Maccabee's Pinterest page, we regularly share content about public relations, content marketing, creative marketing and - oh, this one time - dancing babies. One year ago, we pinned the “Baby & Me” ad spot from Evian. Recently, that months-old pin has become our most popular content on Pinterest.

    Now, why might a public relations agency’s most popular pin be a funny baby ad? First, take a look at the spot: 

    It is quite cute, cuddly and oh-so-shareable, wouldn’t you say? This ad has generated more than 87 million views to-date and is now among the most unforgettable ad campaigns of 2013 alongside a few others that Maccabee has mentioned in previous posts, including WestJet Airlines and Kmart's "Ship My Pants". This isn't the company's first rodeo; its "roller babies" spot won a Guinness Book of World Records for being the most viewed online video advertisement.

    So, is Evian’s use of babies a marketing gimmick? 

    “The babies are true to our story and heritage,” defended Evian global brand director Laurent Houel in an interview with AdWeek. “The love affair of the brand with babies started in France in 1935, when Evian was first recommended as a perfect water for babies… there is a true link, it is not a marketing trick.” Houel concluded that Evian is positioning its dancing babies as a “powerful symbol of purity and youth."

    Exhibit B: AT&T

    Evian isn’t the only company to achieve marketing success featuring young'uns in ads. Who can forget this AT&T "It’s Not Complicated" ad series? The five spot-series focused on the notion that AT&T had a faster network, thus your decision to use it as your carrier is seemingly easy-enough-for-a-child.

    Exhibit C: E-Trade

    Or, what about the talking E-Trade babies? Touting the marketing message of investing through E-Trade being so easy that even an infant can do it, the ad series turned E-Trade into a Super Bowl advertising legend. Now, however, Kevin Spacey will take over in future E-Trade ads, even though the quippy baby worked for five years.

    Why is E-Trade moving on? Some articles state the child actor quit, others noted a change in E-Trade’s CMO, the arrival of a new CEO, and the resignation of the ad agency, but CNN Money had a more realistic answer: “babies do get old.”

    "The baby communicates ‘easy’ but in today’s climate, is humor the best way?” asked branding strategist Karl Heiselman in an AdAge article. The trade magazine hinted that “E-Trade is now looking to develop a brand message that speaks directly to investors rather than one targeting a mass market... and intends to do more conservative work, in line with its competitors. That might leave little room for a trash-talking infant.” Branding expert Allen Adamson shared with the Associated Press, "Online trading is so common, the baby has lost its mission."


    (Source: The Hollywood Reporter)

    As an aside: Seeing the cat in E-Trade's last baby ad had me wondering, what's the deal with the Internet and cats? There are some interesting studies about our interest in furry cats and human babies that explain their Internet stardom. Researchers quoted in an NPR article hypothesize about that fateful link: "...our inordinate interest in cats may derive from their formal resemblance to our offspring—their big eyes, smallish noses, and dome-shaped heads trigger the evolutionary nurturing instincts that we have evolved toward babies. There may even be a multiplying “superstimulus” effect at work...the exaggerated proportions of cats’ baby-like features prompt an exaggeratedly intense, and involuntary, response in people." Alright, moving on...

    Exhibit D: Charmin

    When royal baby Prince George was born last year, Twitter buzzed with baby-infused content. Charmin toilet paper posted to its newsfeed an image of a baby throne that seemed like too much of a stretch, even for Charmin fans. This social media maneuver fell flat for being tasteless and off base. It was rated amongst the worst, according to Mashable, BuzzFeed, Business Insider and AdAge. What do you think? Did Charmin try too hard?

    Lessons for Your Online Content

    So, if consumers are evolutionarily predisposed to clicking 'share' on baby content, how can brands benefit? A few tips for marketers when considering the use of these aww-inspiring subjects of babies (both human and animal) in online marketing:

    (Source The Daily Mail)

    1. article-0-1D0E08DB00000578-638_964x1048Stay On Brand –  A California State University study published by Marketing Bulletin investigated whether using a cute baby would get more consumers to respond to a survey. The conclusion: cute baby images increased response rates by 88 percent. However, babies aren’t for every company. Young tikes helped AT&T share its on-brand message of “it’s not complicated.” For a Los Angeles-based pet photographer, producing high-quality, cute content of her child and dog makes sense (as depicted at right). Make sure baby subject matter speaks authentically and honestly to your brand and the message you’re sending to consumers.
    2. Use Humor Thoughtfully – Admit it - baby humans and baby animals are cute! By weaving them into marketing efforts, marketers can resonate with the emotions of their audiences. But don't expect babies or animals to be your instant ticket to page views. It’s imperative that marketers be entertaining with baby references or photos and not be perceived as exploiting the cute, but defenseless infants. 
    3. Be Relevant – There's a trend toward real-time marketing (exhibit: Oreo's Super Bowl tweet). However, relevancy has a deadline and, as overheard at Social Media Marketing World earlier this spring, many social marketers believe Oreo may have been a "happy accident." To perform real-time marketing well, focus on what's relevant rather than what's trending. Build a strong social media foundation; be really good at the reactive before dipping your social toe into being real-time proactive.
    4. Make Your Cute Content Relatable – Web surfers love content they can relate to. As adults, can we identify with our infant counter-parts dancing in the mirrors? The Evian ads were created in a way to actually bring out the gleeful inner child in you. Know your audience and uncover what will resonate with them.                                                            
    5. Invest in (Good) Video – The brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text, hence why one of the most shareable types of content is video. Dancing babies or talking baby animals, the power of video cannot be understated.  

    Marketing software company HubSpot calls the use of cute animals and babies some of the most shameless marketing tactics. Gimmicky, perhaps, but campaigns featuring babies do produce engagement and results…when used the right way! Babies and furry animals can be a surefire strategy for results for the right brand, but also could be a tactic that'll send your online marketing campaign into the diaper pail.

    Where have you seen this subject matter used wisely - or not - by marketers?

    Please share your comments below!

    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 one more for the road: Who can escape the sweet series by California mommy blogger Momma’s Gone City in which she shared a photo of her newborn baby and puppy on Instagram as they both grew? Aww! With hashtag #TheoandBeau, the cute photo series now has resulted in a book deal, likely driving more sales and web traffic for the blogger. Not a bad deal! 

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    Topics: Brand Strategy, Video