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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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    3 Ways Your Brand Can Embrace the Marketing Power of Snapchat

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

    HowToSnapchatYourBrand

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

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

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

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

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

    snapchat-oija-02-2014-blog
    Source: Adweek

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


    Snapchat_Samsung2_blog 
    Source: Ad Age

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

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

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

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

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

    geofilter-blog

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

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

    Snapchat for Brands: How You Can Get Started

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

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

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

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

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    Topics: Social Media, Brand Strategy

    Get to Know Minnesota Business Magazine: Interview with Editor Steve LeBeau

    Posted by Paul Maccabee on Jul 8, 2015 5:10:00 AM

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    MBS5087_SteveLeBeau_TC_22620
    If you're a Vice President of Corporate Communications, Chief Marketing Officer or PR Director in Minnesota, there are only a handful of local business media outlets that you really care about - the monthly Twin Cities Business, the daily Minneapolis Star Tribune, and St. Paul Pioneer Press, the weekly Mpls/St. Paul Business Journal and, increasingly of late, Minnesota Business magazine.

    With the exit of former editor Steve Mollman, the MaccaPR blog was pleased to interview the new editor-in-chief of Minnesota Business, Steve LeBeau (right). That name sound familiar? LeBeau is the former editor of the Star Tribune’s MARQ magazine, ex-managing editor of Mpls/St. Paul Business Journal, and news director for SPNN-TV Neighborhood News. Oh, and formerly a WCCO Radio talk show host and KFAN-AM Radio news director. Oh yeah, and he handled press for some Governor who was nicknamed “The Body.” Here’s My Dinner with LeBeau:

    1. I have to start with your four years working in then-Gov. Jesse Ventura’s Communications Office. You served as, according to your LinkedIn profile, Ventura‘s “speechwriter, ghost writer, publicist, photographer and a spokesperson."
    What was it like handling PR for Jesse? 

    "I was hired by Ventura’s people the day after his inauguration. It was interesting – not always fun, but interesting! Traveling with Lt. Gov. Mae Schunk to nearly 200 school districts across Minnesota taught me about the growing strength in the Twin Cities metro and the struggles of rural areas – trends which are helpful to understand when you edit a statewide business publication.

    Working with Ventura also taught me about the news business – the information that we in the public receive is only a fraction of the reality that’s actually happening. I illustrate this for people with my hands: If you only get your news from newspapers and TV, hold your hands six inches apart – that’s all the news you’re getting. If you’re in a newsroom, hold your hands three feet apart – you’re aware of more of what’s going on, yet not everything. But if you’re actually behind the scenes in the Governor’s office or at the Legislature, stretch your arms out wide – because that’s how much information you get that’s actually occurring." 
    jesse_ventura_460x276                                              (Source: The Guardian, Photograph: Tom Olmscheid/AP) 

    2. How should corporate public relations professionals approach Minnesota Business with a story idea?  

    "Here’s what I – and other editors - don’t want. A PR person sends me email after email after email, and most of the follow-up emails are just responses to the first email that you sent – even though I never opened that first one. The common theme of these PR people is – did you read my press release? My answer is: if I see it, I’ll delete it. I get more than 100 emails a day, and most go into my junk mail. That kind of PR pitching reveals a shot-gun approach. I know if they’re sending me an email like that, there’s no exclusivity – and if the daily paper can run it tomorrow, why would I publish it in October, when it’s old news?  

    What works best for me, is for a PR person to take me out for coffee and lay out the entire range of content they can offer me. I will discover what story interests me about the companies they represent. I have a gut instinct about what story would be interesting to me and our readers. You can do your social media online – my social media style is to do in-person socializing with a human being in front of me!

    When I used to work at KFAI Radio, I’d dig out the old PR releases that everyone else in the newsroom threw out – I wanted to uncover the alternative to the alternative news!"

    3. How will you compete with dailies like the Star Tribune?

    "I want Minnesota Business to be a magazine that’s opened and read far beyond the five minutes when you’re in a CEO’s waiting room."

    4. What’s your own news diet?  

    "I read the Star Tribune and others online – including Time magazine, and I have a home page with the top stories from BBC, New York Times, Al Jazeera and other media outlets for a world view. And I gather lots of opinions about business and public policy on Facebook, reading what friends are posting."

    5. How are you going to change Minnesota Business, post-Steve Mollman?

    "The focus on small and mid-size businesses will be the same – but I may do it with an edgier sense of humor. Minnesota Business is not the breaking news publication – that’s for the dailies and weekly. Instead, we want to publish strong opinions about growing companies – stories that businesspeople may disagree with. I don’t like seeing sets of facts in a business story. I like connecting the dots, through interviews with experts who we ask, 'what do you make of this?'"

    6. How has social media impacted Minnesota Business magazine?

    "If you want to exist, you have to be on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook – I hope to get people blogging about different industries, and have Minnesota Business be a content aggregator of business ideas." 

    7. What’s the most under-reported business story in Minnesota?

    0715MBS_COV01_tease"Here’s one – the economic impact of immigrants. We just received a report from economist and Assistant Vice President of International Programs, Bruce Corrie, from Concordia University, the nation’s foremost expert on business and immigrants. He’s done studies on the Asian businesses along University Avenue and his new report focuses on the emerging entrepreneurship of African immigrants, such as the Somalis. The leading businesspeople in those immigrant communities are going to burst out into mainstream businesses – and one of them is featured on the cover of our July 2015 issue!"

    8. The bullhorn is in your hands. What’s your message to PR and corporate communications professionals?

    "Hire people for PR who have served in the media. Those PR people who worked in radio, TV, print – they get it. They know how editors and producers think. They use Associated Press style when they send me a news release. When I worked at the Business Journal, there was one very intense deadline day – and PR people, who were not in tune with our deadlines, would call on that day to pitch us stories. That was a major faux pas. Former journalists who do PR still remember what it is like to be in the media, and though they have moved to the dark side, I consider them to be fellow travelers."

    Looking for more tips from local pros of the journalism world? Check out these Q&As:

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

     

     

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    Topics: Interviews, Media Relations

    4 Social Media Graphic Design Tips for PR Pros

    Posted by Leila Hirsch on Jun 23, 2015 5:30:00 AM

    PHD_MacaaPRSocialDesignBlogHeader_Final

    MeganHeadshot


    Public relations professionals may be expert at media relations, key messaging and corporate communications, but few of us are great graphic artists. Yet with Instagram, Pinterest and other social media channels hungry for visual content, the ability to develop engaging imagery has become an essential skill for marketers and PR pros.

    Lucky for us, agency friend and North Loop neighbor Megan Junius (right) is the owner of Peter Hill Design, a graphic design and branding firm whose clients have ranged from Beazley Accident & Health, DeGidio’s Bar & Grill, Open Arms of MN, Henson & Efron, Park Dental to Disney Garden and Newman’s Own Organics. Megan sat down with the MaccaPR blog to share tips that PR and marketing professionals can use to enhance their visual assets for both blogs and social media.  

    1. Keep It Simple (And Consistent):

    During early attempts at designing graphics for this MaccaPR blog, I thought the more the better! An extra border, a shadow… and a filter! What could go wrong? Luckily, Megan Junius is a fantastic teacher. While some graphics can benefit from a layered approach, it’s generally more important to keep things simple. Nothing screams amateur more than a few layers of filters, which can create a new tone or transparency over an image such as on Instagram. Sure this may be appropriate for your personal social media accounts, but for your brand, we agree with Junius when she says skip the filters! 

    Throughout the course of our lunchtime interview, Junius drove home one important point that all PR professionals and brand marketers should commit to – consistency is key. From image sizes to fonts, keeping social media and blog graphics consistent will help maintain your brand’s identity while appearing polished and professional. 

    A brand that does a smart job of keeping imagery simple on social media while maintaining maximum impact is the Santa Monica, California-based The Honest Company. Graphics are thoughtful and visually appealing to the eye without screaming “Look at me!” The eco-friendly products company has a great grasp on who their target customer is and delivers graphics that are in line with brand messaging.  

    TheHonestCompany                  

    “The best way to maintain consistency with the graphics your brand uses is to build out your brand standards and guidelines right away,” said Junius. “This creates a solid foundation for any future social media or blog asset creation.” 

    When deciding upon fonts and sizing options to incorporate into your brand standards, Junius explained that a good rule of thumb is to choose three of each and stick with them. As tempting as it can be, don't go for the over-stylized or oversized. Keep it simple. 

    2. Know When To Create (And When To Outsource) Your Social Media Graphic Design:

    Sure, free is always good but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. In today’s world of Instagram, Pixlr, Canva and dozens of other photo editing apps, marketers can fall victim to the endless array of overlays, filters and borders in an attempt to jazz up their visuals without outsourcing to graphic design professionals. 

    We asked Junius what’s the easiest way to identify a novice non-designer. “It’s usually the typography that sticks out right away,” laughed Junius. “The use of basic fonts, curves, triple-thick borders and no kerning* is an easy giveaway too.” (*Kerning is the proportionally adjusting the space between characters in a font.) 

    If your brand’s budget doesn’t allow you to employ the services of a graphic design firm or if you don’t have an internal graphics team, there are plenty of resources available to create free or low-cost graphics for social media or blog assets:
    • Canva: At Maccabee, we’re frequent users of Canva. The “amazingly simple graphic design” platform, that was lauded by Canva chief evangelist Guy Kawasaki at Social Media Marketing World, gives amateur designers the entry-level tools they need to become graphic design rockstars, or at least back-up bass players, when creating images from infographics to social media headers.
    • Infogr.am: If your business creates infographics, check out Infogr.am. The program is the “data visualization product that brings out the best in your data.” And, it’s easy to use!
    • Photoshop: For in-house design tools, Junius recommends PR pros employ Photoshop. Take the time to learn how to use and avoid the sins of amateur design – over-stylized photos, shadows, too many borders, not enough white space and typography gaffes.
    • And More! Check out “33 Free Design Tools and Resources to Turn Anyone Into a Graphic Designer,” for even more tips and tools. Well worth the read. 

    3. Think Strategically About Colors and White Space:

    As I discussed in my recent MaccaPR blog post recap of Social Media Marketing World, every piece of content your brand develops, from social media posts to conference pamphlets, needs a visual. Guy Kawasaki shared a statistic at the conference that's too good not to repeat: On Twitter, including a photo with your tweet nearly doubles your chances of engagement

    There are specific sizing ratios to consider when creating images for social media channels. Junius recommends, if possible, resizing social media images to the correct ratio, as deemed appropriate per social network. That will ensure maximum viewing potential for your brand’s customers. For example an image featured on a Facebook post should be sized to 1200 x 1200 pixels. Need the correct ratios for social media imagery? Social Media Examiner breaks it down in the “Ultimate Guide to Social Media Image Sizes.”

    SocialMediaExaminer

    Without a doubt visual assets should be high on your top priority list when developing your brand’s standards. Think tones and photo style when considering how you want your brand to be portrayed. 

    Junius speaks about how big brands, like Target, are instantly recognizable from their imagery. While using a variety of visual assets, Target maintains a consistent and signature style featuring big, bold product shots with lots of white space. 

    Target Weekly Ad(Source: Target Weekly Ad)

    4. Be Wary of Copyrights:

    Brands need to consider not only what its social media and blog graphics look like, but also where they originate. Developing your own imagery ensures that not only are your brand’s photos authentic and original, but will help your company avoid any copyright issues as well.

    “There is always a risk involved when using Google images,” notes Junius. “You can’t be positive where the image came from, which opens you up to liability issues. A company like Getty Images has data crawlers to find infringement of its imagery so it’s important to properly source and, even better, purchase your images.”

    Junius went on to explain that there is no such thing as royalty-free images. In fact, Peter Hill Design always purchases or creates its own imagery for their clients’ use as well as their own.

    While stock imagery can be useful, it’s obvious to most readers that it is in fact stock imagery. Think Vince Vaughn stock photos (below) - need we say more? We asked Junius what her top recommendations are for non-designers looking to purchase photo assets for use on social media.

    VinceVaughn_StockPhoto

    “There are quite a few options including iStock, Veer Images and, of course, Getty Images,” explained Junius. “However, we’ve found that any time we have used our own imagery [in regards to social media], our posts on social receive almost twice the engagement.” 

    So perhaps it’s time to look closely at your brand’s social media and blog graphics. Are they telling the story you’d like them to or is there an opportunity to employ one of Megan’s strategies for improvement?

    A special thanks to Megan Junius of Peter Hill Design (below, left) for taking the time to chat visuals and social media graphics!

    PHD_Leila

    Looking for more tips on how to improve your brand’s social media and blog graphics? Check out these additional MaccaPR posts chock-full of tips:

    LeilaHirschLeila Hirsch is an account executive at Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency.

     

     

     

     

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    Topics: Social Media

    Hyundai “Message To Space” TV Spot – Marketing Masterpiece or Brilliant Illusion?

    Posted by Paul Maccabee on May 28, 2015 6:30:00 AM

    MessagetoSpace-1

    (Source: Hyundai YouTube)

    Has there ever been a more emotionally touching, cosmically enchanting car ad than Hyundai’s epic four-minute “Message to Space,” which has now racked up a staggering 58.9 million views on YouTube? 

    “Message To Space,” created by agency Innocean Worldwide, depicts how Hyundai worked with a 13-year-old girl who appears to be Stephanie Virts of Houston, daughter of NASA astronaut Terry Virts, to send a message to her father as he circles the Earth in the International Space Station. Her message ‘Steph Loves You,’ inscribed in giant letters across 2.1 square miles of the floor of Nevada’s Delamar Dry Lake by the tires of 11 Hyundai Genesis vehicles, was apparently easily visible to her father in space. 

    But what if parts - significant parts - of this breathtaking video story were staged? What if some of the father-daughter resonance of Hyundai’s “Message to Space” video wasn’t quite what it seems?  Here’s the Hyundai ‘Message to Space’ spot in all of its glory, along with a “behind-the-scenes, making of” video:

    That Hyundai’s Genesis cars wrote a message in the sand is indisputable - the performance on the ground was certified by Guinness World Records as being the world’s largest tire-track image. Hyundai’s PR bonanza for the audacious stunt included coverage from Time magazine to ABC-TV News. AdWeek praised the spot as “a sweet and pretty otherworldly stunt.” AdAge chose “Message to Space” for its Creativity Top 5 and awarded Hyundai the #1 spot on its Viral Video Chart.   

    But then last April 21, Canada’s Globe and Mail published a remarkable article entitled, “NASA Puts Space Between Itself and Hyundai Ad Campaign,” that cast doubt on what occurred in the sky above those autos.  

    The piece quoted NASA spokeswoman Jennifer Knotts as insisting that no NASA employees (including any astronauts) actually appeared in the Hyundai video. What’s more, added the NASA PR woman, when Hyundai originally contacted NASA, the automaker “told us they were going to use an actor to stage the scene (aboard the ISS).” NASA said they advised Hyundai about public domain footage shot inside the International Space Station, as well as footage of Earth as seen from the station, footage that - of course - was shot prior to the events depicted in Hyundai’s spot.

    “If Hyundai used an actor to simulate shots on board the ISS, as Ms. Knotts said was their plan as told to NASA,” the Globe & Mail wrote, “that might not necessarily get around the rules - particularly if the family was compensated for their appearance in the video. Hyundai would not respond to questions about whether members of the family were paid.”

    Yes, yes - of course, we’re talking truth in advertising, of all things. But consider:

    • When consumers watch the film, ‘Avengers 2,’ they know that Robert Downey Jr can’t really fly.
    • When an audience watches magician David Copperfield in Las Vegas, they expect to be deceived and defrauded.
    • In contrast, TV audiences expect that their TV news anchors (hello, Brian Williams) will refrain from fooling them.
    So what precisely is the understanding between advertisers and their consumers as to honesty? If you’re a consumer who is considering spending $26,750 (MSRP) for a 2015 Hyundai Genesis, is it reasonable to expect that Hyundai’s marketing will contain no simulations, dramatizations or other fakery? Does it matter that Hyundai’s footage of an astronaut receiving a love note from his daughter down below may, in fact, have involved generic public footage shot prior to the “Message to Space” event? And that the astronaut depicted in the four-minute video may not really be Stephanie’s father/astronaut at all?

     

    MinneapolisAdExecs

    To explore the issues raised by “Message to Space,” we reached out to Minneapolis advertising executives Chris Preston, EVP-Creative Director for agency Preston Kelly; John Blackburn, Strategic Planning Director for mono; and Corey Johnson, president of agency Solve (as seen above) - we also contacted NASA, Hyundai and the car maker’s agency, Innocean. Here’s what we uncovered:

    Why was the "Message to Space" spot awesome?

    “Why is this Hyundai spot so successful?” asked mono’s John Blackburn, a veteran of Minneapolis agency Fallon’s legendary BMW Films campaign.

    “Because it’s so infrequent that you fascinate people with a TV ad, that an agency creates a spectacle! At first, I thought – oh, no, Hyundai was operating in the most tired cliché of automotive advertising, which is driving a car through some Bonneville salt flats, kicking up dust as the morning sun hits your sheet metal. Agencies love deserts because there’s no traffic laws to follow on a dry lake bed, and no distractions from showing off your car in a dynamic situation, with great lighting. But when ‘Message To Space’ got to the girl, Stephanie – they took a familiar setting and put a story around it, Hyundai made it emotional with the relationship between the girl and her father. I thought, “Holy cow, you could really see that message from Space?” You wonder if her Dad saw it, and that’s what keeps you watching - it’s just great storytelling.”  

    Screen_Shot_2015-05-26_at_4.23.53_PM-1

    (Source: Forbes)

    Preston Kelly’s Preston noted that this spot, championing the All-American heroism of the U.S. space agency, NASA, was shot by a South Korean marketing team with a French production designer for a Korean car brand with music by the Austrian Radio Symphony Orchestra. “The ‘Message to Space’ ad elevated that theme of American ingenuity, recognized a revered set of American ideals tied to NASA, even though Hyundai is not an American company,” says Preston. “ ‘Message to Space’ made you proud to be an American – consumers think, hey, those guys get ‘us’ even if they’re foreign, and that’s good for the Hyundai brand.”

    No matter whether parts of the four-minute Hyundai spot might have been staged, it’s a stone cold masterpiece of video storytelling – the crisp editing and use of Johann Strauss’ “Voices of Spring” waltz, in particular, is exquisite.   

    If Hyundai Staged Some of the Spot, So What?

    “Was the spot intentionally misleading?” asks Preston. “Ethically ambiguous? I think that poetic license is understood with so obvious a commercial enterprise. By not naming the astronaut in ‘Message To Space’ and using commercial storytelling for the event, I think Hyundai was within the boundaries of dramatization ethics as consumer viewers understand them.”

    Screen_Shot_2015-05-26_at_4.11.45_PM

    (Source: Hyundai)

    Magicians know that it’s not what a conjuror does that makes audiences gasp, it’s what your audience thinks you do - the real magic occurs in an audience member’s head. There is often a huge discrepancy between what’s perceived and what actually occurs in a magician’s hands. Houdini didn’t need to make an elephant disappear, he merely had to convince an audience that the elephant no longer existed on his stage - two very different things. So isn’t it enough for Hyundai to make viewers believe they are watching every moment of this remarkable stunt - even if they are gently tricking us to connects the dots in the ‘Message to Space’ video that aren’t entirely connected by on-camera reality?

    “In this era of trust and authenticity, Hyundai danced around the line,” says Blackburn. “I think you either have to fake the whole thing or none of it. We in advertising have been digging our hole with half truths for years. There’s all sorts of fake, manufactured, photoshopped advertising - but consumers expect honesty today. With Fallon’s BMW Films (where I was a part of a massive team, personally working on distribution strategy), we were honest about the BMW films - featuring stars like Madonna and Clive Owen - being Hollywood stories that never pretended they were real life.” 

    “Wieden & Kennedy’s ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ TV spots for Old Spice with Isaiah Mustafa were over the top, surreal entertainment,” adds Solve's Johnson. “No consumer would think it’s real that Isaiah had unicorns running around him or diamonds were magically pouring out of his palms. Same with the TV spots Skittles developed by its agency TBWA - those TV spots are crazy, weird and entertaining. In one Skittles spot, a lady is walking a cloud and when a guy tries to pet the cloud, it strikes him with lighting and skittles candy rains down. It’s funny, consumers remember it, but no one believes it depicts reality.”

    What line should advertisers not cross?

    “You have to ask - what line should advertisers not cross?,” says Preston. “Over my 30 years in the advertising business, I had the challenge of working under strict guidelines regulating advertising for kids cereals - you had to be careful when marketing to children. With marketing to adults, the line is blurry - and it should be. The couple in the Levi’s TV spot? They don’t really fall in love. That party on the beach for Corona beer? That wasn’t really an authentic party. Those images looked real, but they’re not - isn’t that manipulative in its own way?”

    So, could Hyundai have opened the four-minute spot with a disclaimer that the spot was ‘based on actual events’? 

    “If it’s an actual event that they are re-portraying, it would have been nice to say it was a dramatization,” says Preston. “But ‘Message to Space’ is a much better story without those words at the beginning. In fact, you would have cut down on the video’s effectiveness instead of letting consumers enjoy the story. Honestly? This Hyundai spot never struck me as an authentic documentary from the start. There’s too much time spent milking expressions from the little girl, the lighting is too good and the drama too manufactured. People recognize by the end that it’s an ad for Hyundai and you forgive its trespasses because you enjoy the stunt, you’re proud of the American space station and you’re touched by the father and daughter relationship. I think viewers have a ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ in what is a semi-believable ad.” 

    Johnson points to the HUVr Board hoax in spring 2014, when skateboard phenom Tony Hawk participated in a 4.5-minute video (below) from the fictitious corporation HUVr Tech (actually, Funny Or Die) that seemed to promote a real life version of Michael J. Fox’s levitating hoverboard from the movie, “Back To The Future”   



    What’s so intriguing is - the prank generated 16.1 million views on YouTube from consumers who wanted to believe a skateboard could enable you to ‘fly,’ but the behind-the-scenes video exposing the hoax generated barely 320,000 views, suggesting that perhaps people actually do prefer to believe in miracles. 

    “Advertisers have a contract with consumers, but that trust is a blurred line,” says Johnson. “Where this ‘Message to Space’ crossed the line is when it was trying to portray real events which may not have happened this way. We talk everyday at our agency about being authentic in depicting products in our campaigns. In the past, food photography would use steam from an iron to make the food appear piping hot, or glue for milk in a cereal ad. The goal was to make the food appear appetizing, even if it was not real. Consumers do not want to be deceived that way anymore.” 

    “A disclaimer - something like ‘what follows is based on a true occurrence’ - could have been put into this Hyundai spot,” concludes Johnson, whose agency works for Porsche. “But once people see that warning, they know something fantastic is about to follow that may not be real, and that will cut down on views. YouTube has desensitized consumers to what is reality - lots of things that get millions of views on YouTube are quite unrealistic!” 

    So Was Hyundai’s Message To Space A Success?

    “You can’t argue with 58 million views of this Hyundai spot on YouTube,” marvels Preston. “It was a brand win. Contrasting the intimacy of her hand-drawn message to Dad with the immensity and technology of space, and the cars writing in unison across miles of lake bed is effective. You get drawn into the story despite your jaded consumer sense that something isn’t quite kosher. It may not be a particularly effective seller of that Genesis model - for example, it didn’t make me want to run out a buy a Genesis so I could drive my signature in the sand. But it made me feel something for Hyundai!”

    “The ‘Message to Space’ film was most effective as an emotional, engaging story - it was a beautiful story with very good production values but it fell short in terms of brand relevance,” says Johnson. “There was nothing in the ‘Message to Space’ spot that was uniquely about the Genesis pulling off that feat, you could do the same thing with any car. Essentially, you could replace the Genesis with any vehicle and it would carry the same level of brand relevance.”

    Genesis_MessagetoSpace

    (Source: Hyundai)

    “The car business is a brand game and sales are important,” says Blackburn. “To my mind, the video differentiates Hyundai rather than Genesis, and I’m okay with that. Hyundai are still trying to outposition the American and Japanese brands and you got a really good look at the Genesis here. But ‘Message to Space’ wasn’t about Genesis, it was about the Hyundai brand.” 

    We reached out to Hyundai Motor’s global PR team to ask if the footage of NASA astronaut was actually of Terry Virts (as the spot implied) or was a simulation with an actor; if the ISS space vehicle pictured in the video was the actual ISS vehicle at the moment that astronaut Virts witnessed his daughter’s giant ‘message’; and if a NASA astronaut actually took a photo of his daughter’s love note carved into the Nevada desert.  

    JJ Ghim of Hyundai’s PR department replied: “Concerning your questions: We cannot comment on your questions...all we can say is that it’s based on a real story.”

    Okay. When we sent similar inquiries to the Innocean ad agency based out of Seoul, Korea, its PR manager Albert Lee responded: “My colleagues and I reviewed your questions, and we apologize that we cannot provide the details you seek.” Added Lee: “The final product of the campaign film is all based on facts. However, we cannot further discuss the details of the production process due to NASA regulations. We hope that you understand the position we are in.” 

    On subsequent views, as if watching M. Night Shyamalan “Sixth Sense” film for the second and third time, you can pick up clues in “Message To Space” you may have missed the first time: the image of Stephanie’s Dad in a picture frame at 0:18 where his face is smudged out, the father/astronaut’s face in soft focus at 0:30, the father shot from behind snapping pictures through the station’s window at 0:40, the image of Stephanie’s father’s head that’s cut off at 3:00, and how he’s photographed from behind at 3:19. 

    “I’m not an expert in NASA rules and regulations,” says Preston. “But it does feel like Hyundai intentionally pushed the boundaries right to the edge as far as using an actual NASA astronaut for commercial gain goes. Did they cross them? I don’t think so.” 

    Hyundai_MessagetoSpace

    (Source: Global News)

    Stephanie Schierholz, a public affairs officer with NASA, responded to the MaccaPR blog’s questions with a response that included the following:

    “As a government agency funded by taxpayer, we are prohibited from making endorsements, and NASA employees are subject to ethics restrictions that prohibit employees from using their title, position or authority to endorse a product, service or enterprise. As a result, NASA did not support the ‘Message to Space’ commercial. NASA did advise Hyundai about NASA’s imagery use guidelines. The NASA imagery used in the making of the commercial...is available for public use...none of the images was directed to be obtained for the purposes of the commercial...the Earth views are from publicly available footage, as is the body-only view of an astronaut.”

    NASA then referred MaccaPR to Hyundai for any questions about casting, filming or astronaut participation in the commercial. 

    “I think most consumers have a tolerance for certain levels of dramatization, but there’s a kind of reversal when you intentionally go to such lengths to try to portray something as real when it is not,” concludes Johnson. “Message to Space" tugs at your heart strings and leaves you feeling a little duped when the dubious nature of its authenticity is called in to question. If viewers had known it was ‘based on true events’ going in, Hyundai would have lost a lot of interest, viewers and shares. As consumers are finding this out later, Hyundai could lose a little shine off their brand.” 

    “Advertisers frequently spin pretty fiction to entice consumers,” concluded the Globe & Mail, one of the only media outlets to raise questions about the video. “But considering the current preoccupation with authenticity, brands may want to be cautious about promoting true stories that could raise viewers’ skepticism, lest they tarnish the emotional connection they are trying to forge.”

    So what do you as marketers - and as potential purchasers of Hyundai automobiles - feel about Hyundai’s ‘Message To Space’ - and the wiggle room that marketers take in telling their products’ stories in a way that may not be precisely...authentic? Did Hyundai, and its agency, cross a line here? Or is that a line that consumers are happy to see crossed in exchange for being entertained by a great story, told eloquently by a masterful marketer?

    Please comment below.

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

     

     


     

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    Topics: Brand Strategy, Marketing

    Takeaways From 4 Mega-Trends Every Food Marketer Must Know

    Posted by Jean Hill on May 20, 2015 6:54:00 AM

    TakeawaysForFoodMarketers

    Recently I had the pleasure of attending the Food Leaders Summit in Chicago where I was reminded of two things: 1) I love Chicago and 2) I love food. A perfect two and a half days, where attendees had the opportunity to immerse themselves in discussions about food (from sustainability and transparency to packaging and messaging) and how consumers are driving change across the food industry.

    After stopping by Garrett Popcorn Shops® and wandering through Walgreens on State Street to be fascinated that I could, if I so chose, buy sushi at a drugstore – I felt not only satisfied (thanks to the popcorn) but also in the right frame of mind for the conference (thanks to the side trip to Walgreens' newest concept, where shoppers can pick up dinner as well as aspirin). For at the conference, I heard loud and clear from speakers from ConAgra to Cargill that consumers are buying their foods differently than in the past. I’m more conscious of my food choices and more convenience is the name of the game for me – and millions of consumers like me. 

    Although I hate to be stereotyped when defining myself, I do support the point our PR agency’s client Julie Berling, Director of Strategic Insights & Integrated Communications for GNP Company, made during her own speech at the Summit – that as a consumer, I shop with my head as well as my heart. 

    FoodLeadersSummit_2015Last week, GNP Company’s Just BARE brand of all natural chicken posted on its Just Dish blog a recap on the Food Leaders Summit. (Read “Top 5 Hot Topics Food Leaders Are Talking About” here and also begin following Just Dish! It’s a great blog offering excellent insights into food topics.)  Here’s a quote from that Just Dish blog recap: “According to food developer, author and Food Leaders Summit speaker Barb Stuckey, the type of food we eat is changing. She says, ‘our lives are changing, but restaurants and grocery stores haven’t.’ Yet. In fact, she said four mega trends are disrupting the food industry, which will change the ecosystem of where we live, buy food, and eat.” With the permission of Just Dish, I’d like to expand upon those four mega retailer trends. What follows are thought starters for food and consumer packaged goods marketers in particular, yet apply to all marketers.  

     

    Takeaway: Build in-person experiences and consider every touch point with your brand.

    Mega-Trend #1 – Set It and Forget It Food

    Just Dish: “Are you subscribing to your food like you are your makeup (Birchbox) or dog’s treats (BarkBox)? There are numerous food companies that want you to order their pre-made sample boxes on a subscription basis. Simply enter your name, address and credit card information and magically, food arrives at your doorstop. From Nature Box, Conscious Box and Love With Food, consumers now can receive products they love – and even new products to sample – without leaving their homes.” 

    MaccaPR: I’m not typically a big shopper…so you would think these subscription service concepts would appeal to me. In fact, it’s the opposite. I like to grocery shop, pick out my own makeup and stop by my neighborhood coffee shop.  It’s not because I have all the time in the world…it’s because I like to enjoy the experience, personally see what my options are and make choices based on my wants and desires. Key to me: the experience. For consumers, all interactions with products – from understanding its attributes and ingredients to exposure to marketing, reviews and philanthropic causes– impact decision making. While not a new concept, it’s important to reiterate that brands are about a consumer’s perception of them…and marketers benefit from thinking about every single experience a consumer has with their products. Food and CPG marketers are already realizing the effects of online retail, but focusing on the IRL (in real life) experiences can help brands stand out on store shelves – and build brand loyalty when shopping online. As Enjoy Life Foods’ CEO mentioned at the Summit, his company strives to think digitally, but act in analog. That in-person experience can be so important. 

     

    Takeaway: Recognize the importance of video and how-to content.  

    Mega-Trend #2 – The New Scratch Cooking

    Just Dish: “Companies like Blue Apron and Plated are taking subscription boxes one-step further by offering full meal kit delivery. With boxes full of fresh ingredients, portion sized condiments and even step-by-step instructions, those individuals who are novices in the kitchen and cook only on special occasions (millennials, this means you) can now have a meal time experience they can enjoy more often."

    NYT_CookingTechniques

    MaccaPR:  I’m proud to say I’ve raised a millennial who is a bit of a foodie. My son loves to cook. But that doesn’t mean I did a good job of teaching him. He’s shared with me many a time how he goes to YouTube to get inspired, learn new methods of preparation and find recipes. His favorite? Eggplant caviar. (I’ve never cooked an eggplant in my life!) Marketers: my son is not alone. The power of video, such as The New York Times Video database, in teaching and influencing consumer behavior, cannot be denied. Video and step-by-step instructional content should be a part of every marketers strategic plan.          

    PeopleClaim - The Review of Reviews

     

    Takeaway: Encourage trial and make it easy to share review.   

    Mega-Trend #3 – The Breakdown of Category Silos

    Just Dish: “When shopping, consumers generally go from one side of the grocery store to the other to get everything needed for, let’s say, taco night. Tried-and-true grocery store aisles are being switched up. Stuckey says that food retailers – both online and in-store – more and more will bring everything together, making it fast and efficient for us to pick up the tomatoes, cheese and ground chicken for a Mexican fiesta—all in one place.”

    MaccaPR: As stated earlier, cooking at home for consumers (millennials in particular) is a special event, one in which cooks express themselves through not only the food, but also the event itself. Marketers can benefit by helping consumers create these dining events. Be a part of these experiences by offering themed recipes, entertainment ideas and unique refreshments. How? By developing online platforms for consumers to gather and authentically share opinions and tips for entertaining, even ideas that involve your product. Positive consumer experiences and reviews, as indicated in this PeopleClaim infographic (right), impact the bottom line. And hey, it’s fun to be a part of an online community.

     

    Takeaway: Think of your product in digital terms.

    Mega-Trend #4 – Food on Demand

    Just Dish: “For the sake of convenience, busy consumers across the country are letting others make meals or do grocery shopping for them. Available in some markets, GrubHub and UberEATS deliver freshly prepared meals concocted by restaurant chefs, while Instacart sends shoppers to grocery stores to pick out food on your behalf. No more going to grocery stores and going up and down the aisles. Your next meals can be ordered online, and delivered to your home.”

    MaccaPR: Stuckey made a good point during her talk that marketers need to heed: visually, products must be online-ready. Meaning, with more and more consumers doing their shopping online through sites like Amazon Fresh, consumers may no longer have the tactile experience with a product that they would have had if they had gone to a grocery store. Manufacturers should think about how their products stand out from a features and benefits standpoint, but also from how they are visually displayed on a website or hand-held device.

     

    If you implement these takeaways from the conference’s food retail mega-trends, you’ll find yourselves ahead of the rest. Enjoy! In the meantime, I’m going to hold some focus groups so I can get even more insight into what motivates the millennial audience to cook. (Meaning, I’m going to work extra hard to get an invitation to my son’s home so I can taste that eggplant caviar!) 

     
    JeanHillJeaHill is senior vice president at Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency.
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    Online Marketing Lessons From Carly Fiorina's Domain Name "Oops" Crisis

    Posted by Paul Maccabee on May 6, 2015 6:00:00 AM

    Digital marketers across America winced this week, as they heard that GOP Presidential Candidate Carly Fiorina had failed to secure her own domain name: CarlyFiorina.org. Now millions of voters who are curious about the just-announced campaign of former Hewlett-Packard CEO Fiorina find themselves staring not at her campaign photos, but at a floridly anti-Fiorina website that hammers the candidate for the callousness of 30,000 employee layoffs under her watch at HP.

    "Carly Fiorina failed to register this domain," taunts the headline text at CarlyFiorina.org. “So I’m using it to tell you how many people she laid off at Hewlett-Packard.”CarlyFiorinaTime

    (Source: TIME)

    “It’s a funny gaffe, a chance to throw pebbles at giant campaign bears,” marvels Wired’s Brian Barrett of the Republican candidate’s hijacked campaign domain. “But it also speaks to a larger lack of preparedness, an inability to anticipate the obvious consequences of an even more obvious oversight. There’s only so much you can do if someone parked on your campaign domain before you ever thought to have one.” Websites from TechCrunch to Politico ridiculed her mistake. Concluded Gizmodo: “It’s pretty surprising that a supposedly tech-savvy nominee like Fiorina filed to cover her bases here.”

    So what can your marketing team learn from Fiorina’s head-smacking domain name fail and earlier domain name stumbles by Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush (which we addressed in Part I of this special two-part MaccaPR series) - even if you’re battling for supremacy on retail shelves, rather than the White House?

    Read on for marketing lessons drawn from how 2016 presidential campaigns are wrestling with domain name challenges, featuring insights from attorney Kristine Dorrain, director of Internet and IP Services for Minnesota-based FORUM

    Understand The Domain Name Differences Between Marketing and Politics 

    presidential-candidates-2016“Arguably, a politician is not selling anything – although you could debate that candidates are ‘selling’ Republicanism or some other governing philosophy,” says Dorrain. “But the trademark system is dependent upon your being involved in interstate commerce – even though Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio have been paid thousands of dollars to speak at events, for example, campaigning is generally not viewed as commerce, so the rules governing domain name and trademark are somewhat different for marketers vs. political campaigners.” 

    That said, there’s clearly big money to be made from commerce in political domain names. Back in October 2014, The Hill reported that the opening bid to buy ElectHillary.com via Go Daddy was $275,000 (note: that domain is still up for sale); and you could then snap up RandPaul.com, which today is an official Rand Paul campaign site, for just $125,000. If you’re the digital director for a campaign, you’d also want to own the domain extensions for your candidate matched with all potential running mates.

    Hot tip: if you’re feeling bullish that Ted Cruz will pick Carly Fiorina as his vice presidential mate, the domain name for CruzFiorina2016.org is currently available via GoDaddy.    

    Politicians noted with some relief that in March 2015, the new domain name .vote was introduced, accompanied by rules that prohibited “deceptive names” or anonymous (aka “proxy”) registration and that require “an obvious connection between the domain name and the registrant’s activities in the democratic process.”   

    mike-bloomberg-website

    But the universe of potential domain names is still dauntingly vast. ABC News claims that former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg “preemptively bought over 400 domain names related to his name, ranging from Mikebloomberg2013.nyc to the ludricrously comical bloombergistooshort.nyc.” Trying to lock up every possible permutation of your brand or candidate name is a Fool’s Game. Dorrain notes that the pool of potential domains just exploded exponentially last Spring, as the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which supervises website naming on the Internet, expanded domain extensions with 1,400 additional top-level domains, including .rocks, .guru, .company, and .expert. 

    So with a seemingly infinite number of domain names that could pertain to your company and brand, what’s a Web-savvy marketer to do?

    What This All Means for Brand Marketers

    “The biggest take-away for brand owners,” says Dorrain, “is to constantly evaluate your domain strategy. For example, it’s a good idea to register domain names for key products before you publicize their names. By the time a product hits the market and is eligible for trademark protection, cybersquatters can have already moved in.” 

    “If there’s already infringement happening against a brand, such as what happened to Cheerios and Canon,” concludes Dorrain, “there are a few options:register_domain_names_for_key_products-2

    1. Many brands find that cease and desist letters are pretty effective. 
    2. Our FORUM administers Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) cases, and those can result in a transfer of the domain name to the brand owner if that owner prevails. This is a pretty fast option, with most decisions made in 32-45 days. 
    3. Finally, brand owners can file in court under the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) if they can obtain jurisdiction over the respondent – remedies include statutory damages and attorney’s fees.” 

    Google To Your Rescue: It’s All About Content

    Fortunately, the all-powerful Google wants consumers and voters to find the content they actually search for and is opposed to deceptive cybersquatters who register domain names that distract searchers from the content they wish to find. “Google is getting smart enough to know what information voters and consumers actually want to be taken to,” says Dorrain, “Based on your past search history and other factors, Google is working on knowing that when you enter 'Jeb Bush' you want information on Florida governor Jeb Bush, not on same sex marriage.” As we mentioned in our past post, the URL “JebBushForPresident.com" (below) directs you to a site run by two LGBT advocates from Oregon who are decidedly not Jeb Bush supporters.   

    jeb-bush-domain-fail

    Savvy marketers – whether they’re selling candidates or deep-dish pizza  recognize that the final judge remains Google. No matter what domain names you choose for your brand, to ensure that your site rises to the top in Google search, you must ensure you fill the site with as much relevant content as possible. Even if cybersquatting trolls try to fool Mother Google with fake domain names, the search engine’s algorithms are relentlessly searching for sites full of authentic and keyword-optimized brand content. 

    Ultimately, our objective as marketers and corporate communicators can’t be to register all 10,000 of the possible domain names that could be used to attack our brand or candidate. In this age of 1,400 new domain extensions, our goal must be to fill our branded websites with enough lively, relevant and engaging information that Google will send customers or voters to us – rather than to shadow sites managed by your competitors who explain, in grisly detail, why you really suck.  

    Until then, anyone care to buy the domain name, MaliaObama.com – now selling at GoDaddy for $5,500? It’s always good to bet on the future of our young people... 


     

    Read Part I of this two-part MaccaPR series, "What Brand Marketers Can Learn From Presidential Domain Name Fails." 

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    Paul Maccabee

    Paul Maccabee is president and co-founder of Maccabee, a public relations and online marketing agency based in Minneapolis. Learn more at www.maccabee.com, a domain name that we actually own.

     
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    What Brand Marketers Can Learn From Presidential Domain Name Fails

    Posted by Paul Maccabee on Apr 27, 2015 5:28:00 AM

    Let’s share a warning for candidate Hillary Clinton, along with Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and the airplane hanger full of other GOP presidential hopefuls who are suiting up for the battle to win the right to redecorate the Oval Office, ride in Air Force One and know that when the White House Band plays “Hail To the Chief,” they’re hailing them.

    Until recently, 2016 candidates merely had to prove they could meet Constitutional requirements to be president (over 35, natural-born U.S. citizen, etc.), raise a war chest of up to $750 million, win 270 of the 538 electoral votes in the Electoral College, and convince voters that they’re capable of crushing ISIL, ending Iran’s race to develop a nuclear weapon, and transforming the U.S. economy into a full-employment paradise.

    But now it’s clear that any credible candidate must also clear one additional hurdle: prove themselves to be master of their domain – their online domain that is – or face a public relations immolation.  

    Screen_Shot_2015-04-23_at_3.28.10_PM

    Indeed, the first PR crisis faced by just-announced U.S. Senator Ted Cruz’s campaign arose from the discovery that his staff had neglected to buy the domain name TedCruz.com for his presidential bid. This only revealed further horrors, when it was discovered that the URL led voters to a pro-Barack Obama site (pictured above). What’s more, the domain name TedCruzForAmerica.com diverts voters to a website praising Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Mashable taunted Cruz with "Campaign 404: TedCruz.com is not ready for 2016."

    Similarly, here are other, recent domain name fails from 2016 presidential hopefuls:

    • Potential candidate U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan doesn’t own PaulRyan.com. Go there and you’re redirected to a UK-based music store.
    • Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush doesn’t own JebBushForPresident.com. Instead, two bearded gay men from Oregon, who are eager to talk with you about same-sex marriage and other LGBT issues, registered that domain name address.
    • You’ll find at www.JebBushForPresident.net an anti-Bush site created by a “loyal Republican” devoted to “saving the Republican party from supporting Jeb Bush for president.”

    So what can marketing and PR pros learn from this domain name debacle? Our MaccaPR blog sought advice from attorney Kristine Dorrain, director of Internet and IP Services for Minneapolis-based FORUM (formerly, the National Arbitration Forum), which has administered resolutions of domain name disputes involving celebrities such as Mick Jagger, Eva Longoria and, yes, even Hillary Clinton.

    Register Your Domain Name Now – Right Now!

    PresidentialDomainQuote

    How big a faux pas was it that Senator Cruz’s staff forgot to buy the domain name TedCruz.com for the Republican candidate’s online efforts? The negative PR fallout alone included such headlines as “Cruz Website Domains Held Hostage” (CNN) and “Ted Cruz Doesn’t Own TedCruz.com” (Time). Brand marketers and presidential candidates can avoid such humiliation, says Dorrain.

    “Personally, I’m amused by the brouha over candidates not owning their domain names,” explains Dorrain. “In his defense, both ‘Ted’ and ‘Cruz’ are quite common names, and the problem is – once someone has purchased a personal name as a domain name, they are usually at the mercy of that registrant. It seems that the campaign staff surrounding the candidate should have known better, but we don’t know whether they tried to buy it and were rebuffed. A presidential candidate who doesn’t own his or her own domain name suggests that they’re not looking to the future, a time when everyone is mobile, everything is online and every voter is connected digitally.” 

    As both political campaigns and brand wars are increasingly being fought on social media channels, ownership of relevant domain names can become a matter of brand survival. Mind you, candidates have struggled with this domain name issue for years. During the 2012 presidential campaign, candidate Gov. Rick Perry did register RickPerry.org, but not RickPerry.com, which redirected voters to a site operated on behalf of his rival Ron Paul – a situation that inspired the National Journal to diss “Rick Perry Has a Domain-Name Problem.”

    RickPerryAlthough many campaigns try to prophylactically purchase the most common iterations of a candidate’s name, “you can’t purchase everything,” sighed Vincent Harris, who served as digital campaign advisor to Newt Gingrich and Ted Cruz, in Politico

    Some long-established political candidates and brands may have an advantage over newcomers seeking to belatedly control their domains. “Hillary Clinton understood the impact of owning campaign domain names more than 10 years ago,” says Dorrain. “Look, her husband has been president twice, so the Hillary Clinton campaign team is politically and digitally savvy. She’s had years to figure out what domain names she needed to own.” In fact, back in 2005, then-U.S. Senator Clinton won the Uniform Domain Name Resolution (UDRP) case involving her trademark ownership of the domain, HillaryClinton.com. 

    MadonnaTo be sure, brand marketers may have it a bit easier than politicians: the domain name system is designed to protect trademarked names and words (such as Hormel SPAM or General Mills’ Cheerios).  Even if a cybersquatting troll registers a domain with your brand’s name, and uses it to profit from your trademark, Dorrain predicts that you could recover ownership of that domain name. 

    Much depends on each domain name owner’s use. For example, the superstar singer Madonna could retrieve Madonna.com if the domain name is being used for interstate commerce (sales of CDs, T-shirts, etc.) that profit from her trademarked name.

    TheMadonnaBut get this: if the Catholic Church registered Madonna.com to serve as the domain for its site about the Virgin Mary – not profiting from the singer’s goodwill, but focused authentically on sharing images of the Madonna painted by Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo – the church would likely be able to demonstrate a legitimate interest. This could mean the church might be able to maintain ownership, even against the lawyers for Madonna Louise Ciccone, who is decidedly No Virgin.

    It’s worth noting that ChrisChristie.com is registered to a Wisconsin-based computer programmer named Chris Christie, who could defend ownership against the Governor of New Jersey – Chris Christie is, after all, the programmer’s actual name.  

    KristineDorrainFORUM“Everyone – marketer or private citizen – should register their first and last name for online use,” counsels Dorrain (pictured at left). “You never know what you’re going to be doing with your life in a few years! Imagine that your son is a 15-year-old basketball star in high school, someone sees him play and says, ‘wow, he’s really good,’ and locks up your teenager’s domain name. Five years later, he’s rocking basketball in college – but someone else owns his domain name for a fan site.”

    In fact, ZDNet advised after the TedCruz.com domain crisis, “if you're thinking your little boy or girl might be president one day, register their domain name now! By the time they're old enough to vote, never mind run, it may be too late for them to get their best site.”

    You believe that’s thinking too far ahead? The National Journal noted that RickPerry.com was originally registered (not by Perry himself) as far as back as 1998, when young Perry was still just Texas’ Agriculture Commissioner. 

    Recognize You Can’t Stop [Your Brand] Sucks 

    Marketers weren’t happy this year when a new domain was announced – .sucks – which Vox Populi Registry innocently claimed was “designed to help consumers find their voices and allow companies to find the value in criticism. Each “.sucks” domain has the potential to become an essential part of every organization’s customer relationship management program.” Oh, puh-lease Vox Populi!

    “There is a place for ‘I Hate You’ on the Internet,” says Dorrain, which explains the profusion of brand hate sites from www.ComcastMustDie.com to www.SprintPCS-Sucks.com. Clinton does not own HillaryClintonSucks.com, the domain JebBushSucks.com is “reserved for future use," MikeHuckabeeSucks.org is currently for sale, and someone (perhaps you?) already registered MarcoRubioSucks.com back in October 2014.

    Although brands could buy their own .sucks domain name (if unsold) later this year for as little as $10.00 annually, PC World advised marketers against that investment. “Microsoft could stop XboxOne.sucks from blossoming into life, but what about XboxOneReally.sucks, XboxOneReallyReally.sucks, WhyTheXboxOne.sucks, or ManTheXboxOneReallyReallyReally.sucks? Unless major companies plan to use ICANN’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Policy against every .SUCKS domain that mentions them there’s just no stopping the .SUCKS revolution.”

    Use singer (and, MaccaPR-dubbed "Grand Mistress of Social Media Marketing") Taylor Swift as your mentor on this issue: when new top-level domains, including .sucks, were unveiled, the singer immediately bought and registered several variations to inoculate her online presence from, say, TaylorSwift.porn, .sucks or .adult. Although three domain names were purchased, other objectionable ones like TaylorSwift.sex were not. Swift’s team recognized it didn’t need to own all domain name iterations of her trademarked name. 

    As with everything on the Internet that relates to consumer criticism and even anti-brand rage, the only feasible path for companies to take is: acknowledge you no longer ‘own’ the conversation about your brand, respond to legitimate criticism, and try harder not to sell products or services that actually do “suck.”

    ***

    Stay tuned for more in our "What Brand Marketers Can Learn From Presidential Domain Name Fails" series – including how Google is coming to the rescue of victims of domain name trolling.

    What_Brand_Marketers_Can_Learn_From

    Paul Maccabee

    Paul Maccabee is president and co-founder of Maccabee, a public relations and online marketing agency based in Minneapolis. Learn more at www.maccabee.com, a domain name that we actually own.

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    Topics: Brand Strategy, SEO

    Our PR Agency's Secrets For Top-Performing Resumes

    Posted by Gwen Chynoweth on Apr 14, 2015 7:12:53 AM

    With thousands of new college grads hitting the pavement looking for work in public relations, we thought this month would be a good time to share what our Minneapolis PR and online marketing agency considers to be the most critical components of a persuasive resume.

    We take the hiring of entry level talent every bit as seriously as when we’re seeking more senior account staff. Resumes, along with a candidate’s online presence (more on that in a bit…) give us a clear indication of how someone brands themselves and, therefore, their aptitude to represent our clients’ brands.

    Here are some of the elements we look for:

    1. Real-world experience beyond the classroom

    Tip1BeyondtheClassroomExperience

    Oftentimes a young applicant lists coursework they’ve taken in college that’s related to PR, journalism or social media. This is unnecessary and takes up valuable real estate on your resume that could be used for more relevant information (i.e. more compelling copy that could increase your chances of winning that first PR job). After all, you’ve already cited your degree, major and minor, which implies that you’ve completed the appropriate PR coursework.

    Of course, it’s important to know how PR should work. Our agency staff needs to know that so we can apply the practice successfully to meet our clients’ objectives, and be able to define a PR campaign’s success and measure it. So, theory is a great place to start and the classroom is a great place to acquire theory.

    But the real world of agency PR is messy. Just a few examples:

    • The best laid PR and social media marketing plans and campaigns inevitably hit unforeseen snags that require on-your-feet thinking and wise decision-making.
    • One contact at a client company is convinced that a particular strategy is perfect, but a different contact at the same company demands that we focus on some other strategy. You need to mediate.
    • The media expects one thing from your PR pitch of a story, but the client wants you to deliver something not even remotely addressing the media’s needs. What do you do?

    For any agency to give more than a moment’s consideration to a college graduate’s resume, skip your list of coursework. Instead, highlight the real-world PR problem solving skills you exercised during internships, volunteer or part-time work or freelance gigs; illustrate them by quantifying the results you achieved.

    One recent intern applicant cited on her resume: “Revamped [Company]’s in-house social media strategy and increased engagement by 14 percent.” Another wrote: “Strengthened writing skills by preparing budgets, itineraries, letters of intent, and more.” The first example here quantifies the results of a specific effort, although it could be made even stronger by detailing how the social media strategy was revamped (Was the audience focus refined? Did they switch social media channels to better reach a particular audience or change messaging so it better resonated?) The second example is good because it describes to what assignments the candidate stretched her writing skills.

    2. Number and quality of internships

    Tip2InternshipQuality

    Gone are the days when just one or two three-month internships will qualify you for the fast-paced, hectic nature of agency PR. Not only has our field morphed so dramatically over the past five years that limited experience won’t cover the basics anymore, but competition for entry-level agency jobs is fierce. The candidates who stand out for us cite multiple internships – in one extreme case, as many as nine! These applicants’ resumes make it to the top of our pile because they show – at least on paper – that they take their future in PR seriously, are not afraid to work hard, try new tasks, and have an insatiable appetite for learning and contributing.

    If, for some reason, internships are hard for you to come by, create you own by volunteering for nonprofits whose causes you believe in. Offer to write for their newsletter or blog, create their social media content – even better, to create their social media presence. Join their membership committee and help recruit new members. Assist them in organizing and promoting fundraising events. Track your successes and quantify them on your resume. 

    How? Quoting from a resume that’s currently on my desk: “Volunteered 100+ hours and strengthened personal leadership skills by motivating 1st-year students.” That one I noticed!

    3. How can you contribute from the first day on the job?

    Tip3Contribution

    Nearly every applicant who’s fresh out of college declares that they are eager to learn; which is great, for we expect all of our employees to learn and grow, regardless of where they are in their PR career. But our PR agency also wants to know how you are going hit the ground running and contribute to the success of our clients right now. Your resume can reflect that proactive attitude and ability by highlighting any “wins” you earned during whatever work experience you’ve had.

    Did you create weekly and monthly social media calendars during an internship? If so, in addition to listing that task, summarize any challenge you overcame to complete it and how you managed to do it. Did you write and distribute media alerts for special events? Great – but that’s only a piece of the story. The more important (unasked) question to answer: What kind of media coverage or social media engagement and buzz resulted from your effort? In other words, anticipate what a potential agency employer wants of a high quality worker and proactively address those needs by citing the results of your work, not just the work itself.

    4. Design is fine, but don’t carry it too far

    Tip4ResumeDesign

    It’s understandable that you want to attract attention to your resume, to make it look sophisticated by using design elements such as unusual fonts, graphics and geometric patterns. However, skip design for design’s sake: Using bold design techniques can hamper, not help, unless you are applying to a graphic design firm. Keep in mind that a PR hiring manager is going to spend only a few seconds glancing at your application. If design distracts from vital information, your resume will not make it to the next round.

    Instead, aim for a clean, one-page layout that employs wise use of white space. That said, do NOT extend right and left margins to the point where type is falling off the edges of the page. Yes, some people do this to try to fit everything on one page. If you’ve had multiple internships that just can’t easily fit on one page, better to extend your resume to two pages than try to cram everything into an unreadable blob of text.

    And, if you can’t let go of design elements, use them minimally. For example, employ graphics that convey at a glance information about you that would otherwise be too wordy to explain. (Think: A simple infographic about you). Making use of spot color can be a good choice, too. Use a second color to highlight headings in your resume or other copy that you want to stand out. There are plenty of great design examples online – find one and tailor it to make it yours.

    One more note on resume design, which actually has to do with your text. Of course, you want your name to be remembered, but using 40-point type at the top of the page to spell it out isn’t the way to earn a positive first impression. A font that size screams at a hiring decision-maker and makes it difficult to move past. I’ll remember that blaring “headline” long before I’ll remember reading any of your qualifications.

    5. Include links to online profiles, such as LinkedIn and Twitter

    Tip5LinkstoSocial

    We’ll look for your presence on social media channels, anyway, so why not be proactive and list them on your resume?

    A word of caution, however: Pay attention to what you’re tweeting; clean up your Facebook page, be careful what you’re posting to Instagram or Pinterest. Social media is now an important tool in PR and marketing, and how you present and promote yourself online will tell us a lot about how you’ll do the same for our clients. A few pointers:

    • Your Spring Break revelry photos may live forever on your social channels – or at least long enough to horrify an agency’s HR director, convincing her that you are not cut out for a professional environment with high expectations.
    • Proofread everything – even your tweets! Your writing, wherever it appears, is a direct reflection on your standards for excellence. What’s more, writing is a foundational craft that’s critical to any PR executive’s success. Poor grammar or spelling, even in your social media posts, is a red flag to any potential PR agency employer that you won’t pay attention to those details on the job, either.
    • Posting negative comments about past employment experiences, no matter how justified you feel they are. Your future employer is looking for someone with a positive, can-do attitude, who can work effectively as part of a team and who is willing to solve problems rather than complain about them.
    • Avoid ranting about controversial topics. Yes, you’re entitled to free speech, but when you’re looking for that critical first job out of college, you want prospective employers to focus on your positive attributes: Your skills, education, aptitude, experience, knowledge and professionalism.

    Of course, everyone you know will be ready to give you advice on the best way to prepare your resume. The options are endless and there’s no single “right” choice. Just know that your document is going to receive only a few seconds’ initial inspection, so make that precious time count by putting your best writing and presentation skills to work!

    Related Topic: 5 Cover Letter Mistakes

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

     

     

    P.S. Find us on Slideshare!

    Top5SecretsResume

    Resume Tips for Entry Level Public Relations Professionals via Maccabee Public Relations Slideshare

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    Topics: Agency Life

    5 Key Takeaways From Social Media Marketing World

    Posted by Leila Hirsch on Apr 2, 2015 7:16:00 AM

    SMMWSurrounded by podcasters, bloggers and marketers, I spent last week immersed in all things social at Social Media Marketing World. With more than 100 sessions presented by experts from LinkedIn and Yahoo to the Boston Celtics and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, attendees from 49 countries descended upon San Diego.

    It began with an insightful keynote presentation on the top trends in social media in 2015 from Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner, the conference host. During his presentation, Stelzner noted current trends, such as the growth of podcasting and revealed new online trends, such as the increasingly strong influence of native video.

    Here are top five takeaways from last week's Social Media Marketing World (#SMMW15) conference:

    1. Every piece of your content needs a visual.

    Without a doubt, the top trend I heard reiterated time and time again at SMMW15 was that every piece of content your brand or company generates needs some sort of visual. This includes all social posts and blog posts. You name it, it probably needs a visual!

    For Twitter alone, including a photo with your tweet nearly doubles your chances of engagement with that post, according to Guy Kawasaki, author and former chief evangelist for Apple, in his presentation, "10 Ways to Pack a Punch with Visual Marketing." Who doesn’t want 200 percent more engagement with their brand’s followers?

    If you need further proof as to why every post should include a visual, picture this: as you scroll through your Twitter feed do you stop to read the tweets that are text only or do your eyes gravitate to those posts with photos? "... tweets with images were found to have generated 18 percent more clicks than those without images and were favorited 89 percent more as well," according to Social Media Impact. Your brands' consumers are no different. Captivate customers with imagery before your competitor does. 

    As Facebook marketing thought leader Mari Smith covered in her "How To Use Facebook To Increase Sales" presentation, consumers who use Google are in search mode, while consumers who use Facebook are in socialize mode. Facebook users are often looking to be social; so, ask yourself if your brand’s social posts are engaging. Do the visuals make the post pop off the page and grab the attention of viewers? "Content is king, but engagement is queen and she rules the house!," according to Smith.

    2. Be Seen on Pinterest.

    If you haven’t already, it’s time to claim a place for your brand on Pinterest. Why? Nearly all pinners (98 percent, according to Peg Fitzpatrick) have tried something new that they saw on Pinterest. Marketers can't argue with a statistic that incredible! This means that for brands already on Pinterest, a good portion of active Pinterest users are trying their products, reading their content and responding to their calls to action.

    PinterestStatistics

    Pinterest is visual marketing at its highest level as it allows brands to build communities, establish engaged audiences, and deliver content in a way unlike any other channel. Brands such as HGTV and Chobani are doing great work on Pinterest by delivering to their followers thoughtful and useful content coupled with beautiful imagery.

    I often heard repeated during the conference that Pinterest is the new Google. More and more often consumers are going to Pinterest to search instead of to the more traditional avenues of Google or Bing. What does this mean for your brand? Use keywords (e.g. terms that help classify digital content) and take time to appropriately establish the copy of your Pinterest boards and pins. Take into account what your consumers are searching for. What will lead them to your content? 

    Pinterest recently upgraded its search function by increasing the importance of keywords. Using keywords in the content of pins, board titles and board descriptions, your brand increases its chances of jumping to the top of search results and Pinterest’s smart feed. Brands often forget to use keywords in image titles. Google searches a number of places when indexing content, including image titles, so don’t forget to name each photo appropriately before uploading in pin format.

    3. Native video is taking off.

    Both Facebook and Twitter have recently launched native video applications for the social platforms. Native video, as defined by AdWeek: short clips that are uploaded to or created on social networks and played in-feed as opposed to links to videos hosted on other sites.

    If you’ve visited Facebook lately, you most likely noticed the increased number of videos found in your newsfeed. Brands are using the social platform's video feature to not only increase engagement with followers, but also to substantially increase exposure with impressive ROI numbers. After only two seconds of play, a video has been counted as a view. Videos autoplay on newsfeeds, meaning there's the opportunity for enormous views.

    Native video is especially important for Twitter as it allows you to upload up to a 30-second video that doesn’t count against the 140-character limitation placed by the social platform. Think of the content a brand could deliver in 30 seconds instead of only 140 text characters. The options are limitless and if your company hasn’t tried it yet, I recommend looking into native video on Twitter further to find out how your brand could leverage this feature.

    MeerkatPeriscope

    (Source: TIME)

    By now you’ve surely heard of the sensations created by Meerkat and Periscope. Meerkat, launched in February, took social media by storm as users were now able to use the live-streaming video app to broadcast to audiences. Meerkat was all the rage at Day 1 of Social Media Marketing World with speakers and audiences using the app to broadcast presentations and events in San Diego. What followed on Day 2 sent social media marketers into a tizzy of debate when Twitter launched its answer to Meerkat... Periscope. Is there a better place for the news of a competitive live-streaming video app to go live than at a social media conference with attendees from around the world tweeting constantly? From SnapChat to Periscope, what we know is that video apps will continue to grow; brands should think about how they can leverage video on each unique platform in the future.

    4. Embrace data and deliver measurable ROI results.  

    SMMW2Nichole Kelly, president of SME Digital, gave a great presentation on, “How to Become an ROI-Driven Social Marketer.” She said something that every marketer can relate to:

    What's holding us back from ROI is the fear of failure.

    Kelly said marketers fear data, which documents measurable results of a marketing campaign... because it can tell us if we have succeded or haven’t delivered on the promise of that initiative. Instead of fearing data, we need to embrace it, she preached.

    There are a number of tools, from Facebook Insights to Google Analytics, which marketers can use to quantify the results of their campaigns. Although this tool has been around for quite some time, one you may have not used is Google Trends. Google Trends helps you explore the popularity of a search term, keyword or image to measure patterns of how it performed over a period of time. Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, finds this tool to be incredibly helpful for brands to deliver targeted content. 

    More than one presenter at SMMW15 said that if your brand does only one thing to prove ROI, it has to be tracking your links. Any number of link shorteners will work, such as Bit.ly or Brinx.it, but brands have to use them! There should be a trackable link in every blog post, Instagram bio section and tweet. Without tracking links, brands are unable to clearly identify which type of content is working and which isn’t.

    5. Deliver content targeted to your brand's audience.

    How much content is too much? What many speakers touched upon at SMMW15 is that brands need to worry less about whether content is about them, and instead focus on whether or not it’s helpful to the consumer. By providing content that is useful to the consumer, a brand becomes the hero and is more likely to create an engaged following for the brand.

    Brands need to consider that consumers are always listening, even if they're not engaging. This is a topic that Kim Garst, Twitter thought leader, discussed in her presentation, “How to Sell with Twitter: Techniques That Work.” The implications of social listening are that even though a consumer may not like, retweet or comment on a piece of your content, they are taking note of it. Garst suggested that brands need to be aware of the content they publish every day; each piece of content has future sales capability regardless of interaction.

    In order to ensure that your brand’s content delivers the results you're looking for, Joe Pulizzi told the audience of his “How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy” session to develop an editorial mission statement. An editorial mission statement allows everyone in your company, in addition to those who interact with the company externally, to be on the same page by establishing what your brand is all about. This editorial mission statement will also help a company establish exactly who their target audience is while delivering content that's valuable to their consumers.

    For Pulizzi, that means subscribers. Because brands do not own the followers on any of their social platforms, they need to use these platforms as a means to building their subscriber lists. By delivering informative content through social media, brands are able to build relationships with followers that will convert them into subscribers. How do brands do this? According to Pulizzi, use the 411 rule. Brands should share four pieces of content from influencers for every one piece of original, educational content they have created and one piece of sales-related content.

    (Pictured at right from top: SMMW15 Speakers Joel Comm, Guy Kawasaki, Kim Garst and Joe Pulizzi) 

    While these five takeaways merely scratch the surface of the content presented at Social Media Marketing World, MaccaPR will offer you an even deeper dive into social media insights that you can use to help improve your brand’s awareness on a number of different social platforms. Stay tuned!

    For more social media goodness, check out our posts from past SMMW conferences:

    LeilaHirschLeila Hirsch is an account executive at Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency.

     

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    Topics: Measurement, On the Road, Pinterest

    4 Big Content Marketing Lessons from General Mills, 3M, Ameriprise Financial & SCHERMER

    Posted by Leila Hirsch on Mar 18, 2015 7:00:00 AM

    Remember when public relations required you to persuade gatekeepers – news editors, TV and radio producers and reporters – to carry your company or client's content to their audiences? Now, brands from Red Bull to Google are becoming publishers and broadcasters themselves. In this brave new world, marketers are creating their own content – infographics, podcasts, webinars, YouTube videos and more – that are distributed for free via their digital channels.

    This was the focus of a March 2015 event co-sponsored by Maccabee Public Relations and Minnesota PRSA. Moderated by Maccabee's Social Media Director Christina Milanowski, the panel discussions featured content marketing all-stars:

    Panelists

    If you're getting started or continually refining your company's content marketing strategy, here are four big takeaways from our evening of content marketing nirvana:

    1. Every marketer’s definition of content marketing may be a bit different, but all lead to the same goal.

    World-renowned content marketing expert Joe Pulizzi openly admits in his book, Epic Content Marketing, that there are many definitions of content marketing. He called it “the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling…instead of pitching your products and services, you are delivering information that makes your buyers more intelligent or perhaps entertaining them to build an emotional connection.” But, definitions vary by marketer. Take, for example, the four marketing expert panelists’ definitions:

    • Angela Dalton: Content marketing is any content that increases engagement with a customer/visitor. It’s the content that attracts and maintains visitors to your website.
    • Brian Enderlein: Content marketing is, in two words, content and marketing. It's been done for years. For 3M, we are not just products, we are the thoughts behind the products and we have the science to back it up. Content enhances and supports our brands.
    • Maura Ryan: Content marketing is content in any form or channel that supports a business strategy.
    • Chris Schermer: Content marketing is about creating content that is helpful to your customers. It’s about being constantly available and making a commitment to your customers to serve and solve their problems, all while putting selling behind it.

    What we can agree on is that content marketing encourages marketers to establish their companies - instead of being just a vendor, seller or manufacturer - as a leading information source in their industries. And, why shouldn’t we be? No one knows our company or industry and its audiences better than the PR and marketing professionals who live and breathe their brands every single day.

    2. Content marketing isn’t about you; it’s about your customers.

    One point that we found reiterated by our panelists is that whatever type of content your brand is creating and curating, you need to know your audience. Whether it's mothers looking to make cleaning easier with help from an innovative 3M Scotch-Brite product or connecting millenials with creative cooking through General Mills’ Tablespoon.com, knowing your audience is key to the success of your content.

    Angela Dalton said it perfectly, “We are all guilty of falling in love with our content, but if it isn’t relevant to your brand strategy [and, therefore, your customers] just stop doing it. Don't put a round peg in a square hole.”

    We couldn’t agree more! There is only one reason that you are generating content for your brand in the first place: to accurately engage, interact and potentially impact your customers' purchasing behaviors.

    What’s more, Chris Schermer, of buyer-driven B2B brand experience agency SCHERMER, explained that all marketers have the responsibility to not only produce meaningful content, but to also resist the volume of content created.

    We know consumers don’t want to be bombarded with “Buy this!” or “You need this!” Creating content isn’t about spamming your customers. A quick peek at the junk inboxes of their email accounts will reveal plenty of that. Instead, content marketing is about creating useful content for the consumer or, as Chris pointed out, “to make them the hero of their own story.”

    So the question is, how do you successfully develop this type of content? How do you champion your customers so they become your biggest fans while maintaining your brand strategy? You listen. Hear what your customers are saying and what they are searching for. What do they need and how can you be the one who provides it for them?

    ContentMarketingPanel

    (Source: Facebook.com/MaccabeePR)

    For 3M’s Brian Enderlein, successful content marketing begins with analyzing and listening to consumer and customer touch points across all channels. By monitoring keywords consumers were using to search 3M’s websites, the company discovered areas to enhance or build upon with new solutions-based (and not product-based) content. Brian recognized that 3M’s customers were looking for how to solve everyday problems they faced at home. The company was well aware that it had a loyal following of customers for the brand’s products, but, by producing how-to content, it not only provided great products to its customers, it enhanced their buying experiences. 3M's useful content solved household problems by helping consumers connect to the brand in a way that they previously hadn’t.

    General Mills has a unique source for generating its content: Blog partners. Almost 100 percent of Tablespoon.com content is created through partnerships with bloggers. And it makes perfect sense! By working with a seasoned blogger who is invested in growing her blog, but also in working closely with the brands that support her blog, General Mills is able to tap into its customers through alternative, yet authentic sources. This not only extends the reach of the brand’s content through social media, it's also a way for a consumer to connect with the brand that doesn’t shout, “Buy me!”

    3. Every “content marketing team” is unique.

    When it comes to internal content marketing teams and resources, nearly half (45 percent) of B2C marketers have a dedicated content marketing group in their organizations, according to the Content Marketing Institute. However, our panel discussed that many content marketing teams could be one person or a group of social experts. Perhaps there isn’t even anyone in the building with content marketing in his or her title!

    Maura Ryan said she works closely with multiple content owners, such as the integrated marketing team, product owners and PR professionals. Chris Schermer acknowledged that most large corporations don’t, in fact, have content marketing teams so it’s largely up to his agency to fill the gaps. 

    In a past MaccaPR interview with content marketing guru Joe Pulizzi, we discussed that a content marketing department can actually create another silo. Pulizzi instead recommended organizations assign someone as the ambassador in charge of all content marketing.

    Content marketing is a developing marketing practice that lives in many places in organizations, yet isn't often centralized. What is true is: There's no one-size-fits-all blueprint. Marketers are learning what works for their unique organizations.

    4. As content marketers, we must prove the ROI that is meaninngful to your C-suite.

    As Brian Enderlein of 3M pointed out early in the evening, our room of event attendees represented different types of marketers (digital strategists, brand managers and PR professionals), but every attendee was seeking the same thing: Content marketing insights. Enderlein said that, for him, analytics should be the foundation of content marketing.

    Chris Schermer believes that the goal of content marketing should be to create a sense of community that allows customers to achieve their goals. For Chris, that takes place through a series of traditional metrics via email, banner ads, embedded videos and more. He often also takes into account conversion rates for his B2B clients' content marketing programs - and acknowledged that tomorrow’s priority will be different from today’s.

    Through a balance of offline and online metrics, Maura Ryan measures impact of how each channel performs as the best route to take. Angela Dalton proves ROI through engagement and website metrics with Tablespoon.com.

    Across all industries, marketers are striking a balance with the types of content they create and who should actually be in charge of creating it. No matter who takes on a company’s content marketing role, every marketer must be able to prove the benefit of his or her content marketing program to keep the C-suite satisfied and target audiences engaged. That is, after all, the reason the content is being generated in the first place, right?

    To download slides from this content marketing panel event and to download our exclusive Q&A with content marketing expert Joe Pulizzi, go to http://info.maccabee.com/mnprsacontent.

    Download Content Marketing  Q&A with Expert Joe Pulizzi

    LeilaHirschLeila Hirsch is an account executive at Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency.
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    Topics: Inbound Marketing, Content Curation, On the Road