Category ArchiveBusiness of PR
In 2007, LG released their first television set with DVR installed allowing viewers to skip show advertisements entirely. The worst financial crises since the Great Depression shocked the nation in 2008, which called for innovation in the media industry. And in 2009 Google, controller of two-thirds of the search market, began using Behavioral Targeting advertising, changing the way the industry defined effective ad campaigns. All of these events precipitated a change in the public relations, media and advertising industry.
First, traditional media performance began to level as digital media took root. Marketers and PR professionals have been more reluctant to engage in digital campaigns because of their negligible reach in comparison to television. Still, Internet is showing alluring promise with its savvy capabilities. Furthermore, PR professionals are slowly coming to recognize the importance of fit of the message, over reach, which is where digital may have the upper hand.
Second, traditional media began to adapt to advances in technology and changes in consumer behaviors. The future of television’s 30-second spot is looking at changes toward interactive commercials, which encourages research on the analytics end about consumer preferences. With Behavioral Targeting, digital advertisers have also begun exploring the effectiveness of relevant ads, or ads that focus on fit, to an interested audience.
Still, these professionals may be stuck in the old frame of mind. Jeff Einstein, digital pioneer of the Brothers Einstein, claims advertisers are focused too much on ineffective reach and do not recognize the potential of message fit.
“In an on-demand media universe the right audience always qualifies and declares itself simply by showing up. But in advertising, getting the right audience to show up is the easy part. The hard part is delivering the brand message once they get there because no one ever goes anywhere for the ads.”
As digital marketing and advertising continues to popularize and industry leaders are looking to gain the edge over their competition, the industry may see a move toward campaigns that aim to appeal to their audience through fit, rather than simple through reaching as big an audience as possible. In the future of this industry, it could very well be the case that quality of fit better predicts campaign success than quantity of target reached.
It is a well-known fact in business that it is far more cost effective to retain existing customers than to recruit new customers. However, the state of Michigan has been trying to recruit “new customers” for decades by showering big incentives on companies from other states or countries to invest here. Instead, Michigan should take up “economic gardening” in their own backyard as suggested by the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM).
Economic gardening is the cultivating of existing small to mid-size businesses and growing them into much larger organizations. A majority of local business owners admit that they sometimes feel ignored by the state. This is attributable to the fact that the Michigan Economic Development Corp. has been focusing its efforts on searching for outside investment, not helping small, local Michigan businesses grow.
It is for this reason that the SBAM is a strong advocate for economic gardening. At SBAM’s annual meeting this past Thursday, the group educated its members and the candidates running for governor on the reasons why the state should be pursuing this strategy. They shared the success stories of the various pilot programs they are running with 24 companies across the state. SBAM plans to follow up with a white paper and a plan for fully implementing economic gardening by September.
Between the years 1995 to 2007, almost all of Michigan’s new jobs came from small firms with less than 100 employees. While at the same time, employment at companies with 500 or more employees declined by 15%, or 230,000 jobs. According to these results from the Edward Lowe Foundation and the SBAM, it makes far more sense for Michigan to expand from within by focusing on the small, homegrown businesses.
The use of social media has revolutionized the public relations and marketing world. According to Facebook, its users spend 500 billion minutes per month on the site sharing more than 25 billion pieces of content. Other social media sites, such as Twitter and LinkedIn, have reported similar results. Re:NEW Michigan, a trademark of Eiler Communications, conducted a survey in April to further investigate the growing prevalence of social media sites among Michigan businesses.
The survey compared to a similar survey from December 2008. Not surprisingly, social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn all saw dramatic increases in usage in the time period between surveys. The biggest leaps came from Facebook and Twitter. Facebook saw a 28.5% increase in usage, and Twitter saw a 30.3% jump.
A more unexpected and enlightening trend was revealed by the results. Michigan businesses reported heavily using social media websites in seeking news and information.
This is most likely due to news sites directly posting on social media sites or links exist between these social sites and news sites.
Whatever the reason, survey respondents admitted to using Facebook, Twitter and blogs just as often as they use more traditional news sites such as CNN, MSNBC and The New York Times when they seek news and information. Many even reported using social media websites as their primary source of information.
This information poses the question of what the future holds for this evolving issue, both social media and news information websites. No answers yet, but here are some observations.
The benefits of using social media websites for seeking news and information are obvious. They provide the instantaneous results demanded by people’s quest for instant gratification of information. The large amount of time spent on these sites and the great amount of traffic to these sites is favorable for spreading a story.
But are social media websites sufficient in providing a business with all the information it needs, or are they simply being used to find leads that require further investigation? Do social media websites have the potential to make news information sites obsolete? Re:NEW Michigan plans to address these questions and others involving social media websites in our next survey in October.
Ann Arbor, Michigan PR Firm &Business and Economy &Business of PR &Clean Tech &Corporate Communications &Ecofriendly &Entrepreneurs &Environment &Marketing Communications &Sustainable Transportation &Technology PR Insights &Thinking Green 17 Jun 2009 10:02 am
On June 12, 2009 Main Street played host to the 9th Annual Mayor’s Ann Arbor Green Fair. Underneath the lush green leafy canopy of Ann Arbor’s city center, local eco-friendly vendors and businesses gathered to discuss, exhibit, explain and sell all things Green. Booths lined both sides of downtown Main Street between Huron and William with companies both large and small, profit (Whole Foods) and non-profits (Friends of the Allen Creek Greenway) encouraging visitors to focus on environmental-sustainability for the future. BikeFest, with tutorials and ideas on bicycle transportation was also included in the festivities.
The annual Mayor’s Ann Arbor Green Fair signifies the growth and opportunity the Green Industry represents in our current economic climate. The traditional preservation communities made their appearance at the Fair, but also notably present were industries that do not immediately suggest “environmentalist”. Examples of these include: The Bank of Ann Arbor, Amtrak and Ann Arbor division of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). As a casual onlooker and job seeker, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of activity towards Green initiatives. Also particularly interesting is the governmental support of eco-sustainability. In addition to the Mayor’s continued backing of the Fair (scheduled in the heart of Festival season by the way), Washtenaw County showed off their ecological commitment with exhibitions on weatherization, water resources and environmental health. More on Washtenaw County’ s Green initiatives can be found at their homepage.
“Going Green” is no longer just a fad, but a serious consideration for any business leader or those looking for business or jobs. The sophistication of green-centric organizations was on display at last week’s Fair. A list of companies and businesses that appeared at last week’s Fair can be found here. The city of Ann Arbor listing for the event can be found here. In order to take eco-friendly businesses to the next step in terms of impact and economic stability, I believe it is time for these businesses to enlist traditional marketing and public relations expertise. The audience is ready to listen. Attendance of the Green Fair was bustling and curious. Each booth attracted three to four visitors and musical acts entertained at each corner. The Green Fair even out-paced the turnout of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival’s First Night gathering just 5 blocks north. “Going Green” is no longer simply the way of the future, but as the Green Fair showed, the future.
It’s hip, it’s fun, but most of all it’s entirely original; it’s Skittles new website. If you haven’t gotten the chance to check it out yet, here’s the link www.skittles.com. Skittles created a fresh new site that is nothing but their Social Media pages. Their Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, Flickr, and Youtube pages make up the bulk of the website. This is a pretty daring move since they can’t very well control the information being shared. Skittles must have a strong belief in their brand because all it takes is one bad comment to start an avalanche of negativity. Looking at the comments left on their Twitter and Facebook pages this seems to be a success.
Skittles has done a great job appealing to the social media crowd, which, let’s face it, is pretty much everyone now. This website has generated all types of buzz over the website, surprisingly bloggers hate it. This is interesting because everyone posting on the site seems to love the idea.
Here’s a list of a few things I think Skittles could do to better the experience.
1. For it to truly be social media Skittles will need to step in and engage in conversation.
2. For the people who aren’t in to Social Media or just don’t understand it, there needs to be a out-out option that will bring you back to their old website. This way using an analytics site you can track the number of users on the new website versus the old which will tell Skittles when it’s time to switch back to the traditional style website.
3. The widget-like menu needs to be movable.
If they can change those three problems, then all that negative buzz over their website will begin to fade.
An over-whelming majority of blogs out there regarding this subject, seem to think it’s over the top or think that Skittles took the easy way out. Even so, Skittle’s new site has all the information that any other website would have but they did it unlike anyone else.
Kudos to Skittles for being bold and trying something never done before, but as great an idea as this is, I think it won’t last very long. This is a great way to temporarily boost interest in Skittles and learn about their customers; but in the end the hype will wear off and people will want the website back to the traditional style.
I’ve been trying to explain Twitter and Facebook to my parents for some time now, and despite my best efforts, they still find the lack of privacy a little unsettling. “You mean everyone will know when you go to the bathroom?”
Not exactly Mom, you don’t tell people everything you’re doing. But her point is a good one. Social Media (SM) allows individuals to effortlessly communicate and share ideas across broad networks, but some recent news has shown what happens when social media goes wrong.
Twitter’s rapidly growing population consists of celebrities, presidents, companies, neighbors and even pets. Charlie Villanueva, Forward for the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA, has become an infamous Tweeter after two incidents last month. First, Villanueva or CV31 as he’s known on Twitter, posted a Tweet at halftime of a game against the Boston Celtics. Bucks’ head coach Scott Skiles quickly reprimanded these actions. (The Tweet can be read here.) For an encore, CV31 cited an inside source when he announced that Jim Calhoun, the coach of his Alma mater would coach in the next game of the NCAA Tournament for the University of Connecticut after health complications kept him out of the previous game.
“Juror Jonathon” ran into trouble in March for Tweeting details of a $12.6 million case from his cell phone. These Twitter updates, while not explicitly forbidden by courts, are believed to be grounds for a mistrial.
These two incidents are yet another example of technology moving faster than regulatory rules (or just a lack of common sense). Social media is a great public relations tool, providing ways for businesses and individuals to control their messages. But as more companies and businesses enter the social media circus, they must be wary of information leaking to the public through blogs, podcasts, Facebook pages, MySpace, Twitter, etc. The traditional walls of privacy my parents are familiar with are being torn down in favor of faster communication. Until rules are in place to control the expansive social media capabilities, remember to balance networking with personal responsibility and common sense.
Ann Arbor, Michigan PR Firm &Blogging &Business and Economy &Business of PR &Corporate Communications &Leadership &Marketing &Public Relations Tools &Social Media &Technology PR Insights 24 Mar 2009 04:26 pm
“What’s on your mind”? With this simple query that appears on the front page of Facebook profiles, Facebook has thrown down the gauntlet. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has had Twitter on his mind for a while now, and struck back at the up-and-coming social networking site two weeks ago. The much anticipated and incredibly hyped Facebook profile changes appeared on browsers everywhere on March 13. How BIG were these changes? As you can see here, the evolution of Facebook’s façade earned Zuckerberg an invite to appear on Oprah. Clearly, dorm room tech geeks aren’t the only ones noticing the social media frenzy.
Where’s all this buzz coming from? Well, Zuckerberg’s changes mark the latest chapter in the clash between Facebook and Twitter. Twitter has built its reputation on simplicity since CEO Evan Williams launched the site in 2006. Zuckerberg threw subtleties aside when he joined the 6 million on Twitter with a username of his own (thezuckerberg), apparently researching the micro-blog from the inside. (For those scoring at home, add “Espionage” to the list of professions social media has transformed.) The most obvious examples of Facebook’s robbery: When users sign on to Twitter they are greeted with the eerily coincidental question, “What are you doing?”. Facebook’s revamped look helps companies develop a presence on the site beyond the traditional “Fan Pages”. With Facebook’s improved business-oriented functionality, look for Facebook’s membership to spike in the upcoming months.
In the past six months, Twitter has really found its stride attracting celebrities, musicians, politicians, professional athletes, news agencies, businesses, and even President Barack Obama (username: BarackObama). This diverse, informational, and entertaining Twitter population was growing so much (752% In the last year!!) that Facebook looked to purchase the site last year to the tune of $500million in stock. Twitter and Williams rebuffed the offer, proclaiming that “Twitter is just getting started”. Facebook’s offer and subsequent rejection is even more astounding when you discover that Twitter is not a revenue-generating machine. Perhaps these are the changes Williams’ and his team foresee.
What’s the next step in this titanic clash of social media giants? It’s hard to speculate, but definitely fun to watch. Stay tuned.
About Eiler Communications &Ann Arbor, Michigan PR Firm &Business and Economy &Business of PR &Electronic PR &Leadership &Marketing &Media &Michigan Public Relations Firm &Public Relations Tools &Social Media 20 Mar 2009 03:51 pm
Are you a thought leader? Thought leaders are credible, insightful industry professionals (often heads of companies) with the expertise to comment on industry trends and issues…basically, the leaders of thoughts. This is highly desirable brand position requiring a focused public relations (PR) effort and a commitment to hard work.
Thought leaders provide insight and vision and therefore, are “go to” sources for members of the media often providing quotes and commentary for news coverage. Highly visible examples include Steve Jobs of Apple, Bill Gates of Microsoft, Larry Page of Google, Richard Branson of Virgin Megastores, or Mark Zuckerburg of Facebook. These leaders provide insight of global scale due to their product’s popularity around the world. It is also possible to carve out a niche for your company’s product or service locally or wherever you define your target market.
A few thought-leadership tips from www.skmarketing.com, a Minneapolis based business-to-business marketing agency:
1. Availability: Respect the hectic schedule of the journalists and other members of the press and return all calls ASAP.
2. Preparedness: As a thought leader, you are expected to possess wisdom and a familiarity with a wide variety of topics in your field. It is advised that you prepare talking points prior to any media engagement/interview.
3. Be Opinionated: Donald Trump might be the best example of this type of thought leadership. Thought leaders are expected to bring something new to the conversation without sitting on the fence. Be bold, compelling and dramatic.
4. Persistence: Create your own fortune through thought leadership tools. Examples include determined press releases, knowledgeable speaking engagements, effective social media, white papers, by-lined articles, and/or case studies.
Eiler Communications has practiced these skills for over twenty years, establishing brand messages and thought leadership strategies for local and national businesses. David Mielke, Dean of Eastern Michigan University’s College of Business, is an example of a local thought leader Eiler Communications works with consistently. Mielke has established a voice in the business community writing articles in the Ann Arbor Business Review and on www.MLive.com, often times commenting on the current state of business ethics. Mielke also serves on a number of economic and business boards.
So, are you ready to be a thought leader?
Ann Arbor, Michigan PR Firm &Business and Economy &Business of PR &Financial Services &Leadership &Michigan Positive &Michigan Public Relations Firm &PR Firm for Economic Development 06 Mar 2009 06:18 pm
Don’t turn on the news tonight. Take a night off. I’ll spare you the suspense… Unemployment is high, the markets are down, and the Red Wings (probably) won.
The negative economic circumstance dominates newscasts these days, but we rarely hear about the financial aid available. President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) on February 17th thereby generating thousands of dollars for business owners seeking aid in the tough economy. The ARRA is designed to stimulate many different industries around the country, with unique investments here in Michigan. In efforts to accelerate the economic recovery, Governor Jennifer Granholm’s administration has created a website filled with helpful hints on obtaining grants and tax aid for state businesses. Granholm and her staff should be commended on the launch of this site, for Michigan is one of only 17 in the nation to offer ARRA information with such ease. Sites assisting the search for recovery financing:
Governor Granholm can be seen here, outlining the state’s use of ARRA funds.
Work is being done to fuel the local economy as well. Ann Arbor SPARK is focused on continuously supporting regional businesses and entrepreneurs throughout these tough economic times offering programs, resources, and proactive backing. Many businesses have heard about and benefited from SPARK’s commitment to Ann Arbor innovation.
Hopefully your business has stood up to the downward sloping economy, but if you’re having trouble, make sure you apply for grants and financial assistance soon. Many grants have a “90 Day Window” for applications. The economy can’t wait, and neither should you.
And now back to your regularly scheduled programming….
What Does Twitter Do For My Business?
According to the IDC (Premier Global Marketing Survey Company)Internet users spend an average of 32.7 hours online each week. That’s close to half the time they spend on any media (70.6 hours), twice the time they spend watching TV (16.4 hours) and close to eight times as much time as they spend reading magazines and newspapers (3.9 hours). The two fastest growing categories are video and social media (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Wikipedia, Blogs, YouTube, etc).
Clearly, attention is shifting on-line for all of our social and business needs.
Abrams Research recently asked over 200 social media leaders at the Social Media Week 2009 conference, what social media site would you recommend your business to pay for
(if they had to)? Twitter beat Facebook by more than two to one. Why? One of the most typical responses was, “ It is the quickest way I’ve seen to spread information virally to a wide scope of people attached in a lot of random ways.”
So, what is Twitter?
Twitter is a free social messaging utility for staying connected in real-time and is one of the fastest growing communities online. It allows people to send public or private messages in 140 characters or less via the web or mobile phone. Think of it as a Facebook status update on steroids. The idea is to sign up and find people that you want to follow. Once you follow them, you receive updates minute by minute on whatever they “tweet”. A “tweet” is a 140 character or less statement or link to information.
For instance, I follow people that are relevant to my business. By sharing quick bits of information, I can stay connected to them, know their interests and appeal to them for my professional or personal needs. The key is to “tweet” about relevant topics. No one cares if you are having coffee (unless of course you own a coffee business and are sharing your favorite brew). As a Twitter courtesy, if you follow someone they usually follow you back so, get out there and start following and watch your site grow! Think about this. If you send out one “tweet” that directs your followers to relevant news about your business, which directs them to you or your website- you can reach thousands of Twitter followers by the minute.
The key: No one likes a constant sales pitch. Twitter about relevant issues that pertain to your business or your interests. This will position you as an expert and drive traffic to your site.