Leaning In, Not Leaning In – Leverage Topical in Your PR, Hammers Image Marketing Consultants

Public relations, at least the successful kind, operates by brainstorming for the angle which is likely to get attention and then experimenting with tactics to communicate that message.  Now that search engine optimization (SEO) is so important, the angle which has the most potential is the one which leverages what’s topical.  That includes using the names and issues associated with it as keywords, for SEO purposes.

An example of that is how much public relations outreach piggybacks on Sheryl Sandberg’s message about leaning in.  Here is a video of a panel discussion by TechCrunch female employees associated with the guilt which often accompanies “having it all.”

After you frame your message with these Leaning In keywords, the next step is to create a compelling narrative with text and graphics.  For example, if your business is women’s fashion, then you show how your for-the-office attire gives professional women the look and confidence edge.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation about your public relations, marketing, partnerships, special events, and social media kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

Your Narratives May Be Holding You Back, Warns Image Marketing Consultants

There was a business which positioned itself as the best friend of the frugal.  Its mission statement described how it pulled out all stops to supply the budget-conscious with the best quality at the best price.  The enterprise did well.

Then a relative who had studied design introduced into the chain upscale merchandise ranging from Coach-like pocketbooks to hand-crafted earrings.  Those sold like hotcakes at premium prices.  Yet, the business considered stopping the line because it conflicted with the mission statement.  In short, what the business said about itself or its narrative was getting in the way of more revenue and profit, with not a lot of heavy lifting.

As the economy keeps changing and organizations find themselves with new challenges and opportunities, their narratives can be holding them back.  They might have adopted a risk-averse stance, for example, in hard times.  Now that times are better for them those narratives about staying the course are constraints on growth.  A bakery whose story is about total indulgence is hesitating in introducing heathy desserts.  A writing firm which has been serving small business and promotes that in all its marketing material feels it cannot bid on larger accounts.

In short, your organization’s story about itself or its narrative can have more negative impacts than any competitor might.  Here are four tips on how to break the hold of the past on your present:

Identify your narrative and determine if it still is accurate. Remember that everything changes.  You organization is continually reconfiguring itself and you might not have realigned your marketing materials, including the mission statement, to what is really happening now.

Calculate the risk of adding or deleting elements from your story. You might be considering adding “luxury you can afford” to your identity as an ecommerce company providing the best bargains of the web.  The risk could be reduced if you phase in the phrase, along with the merchandise, “Including some luxury items you can afford.”  Consumers are more apt to accept change that is introduced in small bites.  Ask for feedback on the addition or deletion. Consumers love to express their opinion.

Conduct small experiements. Even a mom-and-pop business can do test marketing.  All that takes is to conduct small experiments which do not disrupt the rest of the business.  For instance, the bakery can restrict one shelf to healthy desserts and promote them in a muted way. If that turns out to be too quiet a launch, then the counter person can offer complimentary samples to customers and an employee dressed like a vegetable or fruit can distribute flyers about the introduction in the neighborhood.

Host a special event, all the better with partners. Stage celebrations to include consumers in what’s new which stays. Special events are becoming increasingly in demand because Americans, after so many tragedies and disappointments in the 21st century, want to come together and enjoy being with each other.  Also, they are weary of digital connecting.  The bakery which is grossing one-third of revenues through healthy desserts can orchestrate a celebration in the neighborhood.  The theme can be taking care of ourselves.  That can be done in partnership with other healthy players such as the yoga studio, gym, farmers’ market, and chain drug store.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation on your positioning, marketing, public relations, partnerships, special events, and social media kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

Scandal! – 5 Tips from Image Marketing Consultants on Managing Crisis

There is the old saying in media: If it bleeds, it becomes the lede.

Media have always highlighted the ugly underbelly of a society.  With such brutal competition in that 24/7 space, no one should be shocked that the shocking dominates even more.  What might have been a simple embarrassment to an organization several years ago now could be framed as a front-page scandal.  So, yes, expect that the media will grab hold and run with when a person in or associated with your organization “gets into trouble.”

That might be a key executive who is arrested for driving with intoxicants.  Your celebrity spokesperson is accused of domestic violence.  The head of the partnership you put together has been charged with embezzlement.  Here are tips from Image Marketing Consultants on how to manage these incidents.

Realize that this happens all the time.  Being under the media spotlight has become the “new normal.”  Because it happens all the time, you must have a crisis management and communications plan which provides details about what to do and what not to do. This must contain input from legal counsel.  America is the land of lawsuits.

Don’t be premature.  Before the organization does or says anything the facts must be in and must be double-checked.  Was the celebrity spokesperson actually arrested or were the authorities merely called to the house?  Once the facts are verified, then you proceed cautiously in developing your position, releasing information, and then providing ongoing updates.

Filter all release of information through one contact. There are many constituencies to provide information to.  They range from employees and investors to media and local authorities.  Those communications must be approved and released through one central contact.  That keeps your response consistent and avoids worsening the situation by rumors.  It also protects you legally if there are to be lawsuits. Legal action can keep the alleged incident on the front page for years.

Apologize or provide appropriate verbal gestures.  Standard communications procedure is to provide an “I’m sorry” if one is at fault in any way or has created a situation in which there has been a misunderstanding.

However, that is not the only communications ritual that has become part of good public relations. For example, if someone has died and, even though the organization is not liable, offer a sincere expression of sadness.  Empathy is mandated.  Organizations are supposed to act human.  In the court of public opinion, organizations are now “people.”

Get on with business.  Scandals are disruptive because they can distract organizations from doing what they should be doing, be that selling pizza or delivering social services.  After you take care of what you should be taking care of during this crisis, move the organization back on task.  Remember leadership and good management are often noticed during crisis.  Although the situation is stressful, how it’s handled can enhance the brand, convert to added revenues and funds raised, and provide boosts to careers.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation on crisis communications, public relations, marketing, partnerships, special events, and social media kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

 

Collaboration – 4 Questions Image Marketing Consultants Says to Ask

Collaboration or partnership has many benefits, ranging from lower costs to greater reach. The restaurant which structures joint promotions with local playhouses and movie theatres could attract lots of long term customers, with its partners also experiencing sustainable increases in business. However, alliances or joint ventures can also directly or indirectly produce unique problems, as the world is seeing with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.  That venture has 50 partners in more than 100 locations around the world and it has encountered serious setbacks such as batteries which catch fire.

In 2010, reports the SUPPLY CHAIN QUARTERLY, McKinsey & Company, Nielsen, and the Grocery Manufactureres Association conducted its annual Customer and Channel Management Survey (CCM).  What it found was this: About 80 percent of the companies interviewed used collaboration but only twenty percent indicated that they generated results worth the effort.

In our experience, we at Image Marketing Consultants found that not every professional or organization can successfully partner.  Here are 4 questions to ask before deciding to collaborate.

Do you have the necessary expertise? Partnering increases the complexity of any initiative exponentially.  No one can enter the situation blind.  If you don’t know what you’re doing hire a consultant or an employee who does know the field. Partnerships allow you to enter new territory, but you still need guidance.

Can you identify a partner or partners which can gain as much as you from the venture?  You may be interested in increasing sales and your partner in enhancing its brandname.  The project must be structured so both can accomplish that without undermining the success potential of the other.  When the outcomes aren’t mutually satisfying, trouble starts.  That usually takes the form of delays.

Do you and the potential partners have resources for as long as the project might take?  Typically, organizations underestimate the time it takes to reach a goal.  Therefore, you must have access to more resources than you initially need.  Those could range from borrowing power to the ability to keep recruiting volunteers.

How will you measure “success?” You and your partners have to be realistic about, for example, when the venture will be expected to reach “breakeven,” that is, enough revenue coming in to equal or exceed the revenue going out. The metrics have to account for what setbacks can be tolerated.  Those might include 20 percent returns on online orders.

Kate Sirignano, founder and head of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation on partnerships as well as marketing, public relations, special events, and social media kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com 203-404-4868.

 

 

Collaboration Economy – Tips from Image Marketing Consultants on Getting the Edge

Technology has created what’s being called “The Collaboration Economy.”  Thought leader Evan Rosen explains in MIT’s TECHNOLOGY REVIEW this game-changing phenomenon.

Instead of operating alone, professionals now are pooling their  insight, analysis, and strategies through group emails, wikis, video meetings, conference calls, social networks like Facebook and Google+, commenting on articles, receiving comments on their own blogs, and sharing material with one click.  Image Marketing Consultants explains how you as a personal brand and your organization can leverage collaboration to get an edge.

Choose the right partners.  The potential obstacle with collaboration is that it tends to consume more time and patience than does working alone.  Therefore, you need to ensure there’s a payoff by including in your process only those useful to your objectives.  Partners are not created equal.

Be open.  Your partners can’t “get” how vital you are to the team unless you disclose your best thinking and hunches about strategy.  The risk of collaboration is this openness but the reward can be awesome since research and experience show that joint efforts can generate superior outcomes.  That’s why even competitors like BMW and Toyota cooperated in designing the battery for the electric car.

Don’t expect individual recognition. The enemy of superior outcomes from collaborating is the star system. Ego is a throw-back to the 20th century way of doing business.  It’s the group effort which counts, not your input.  Organizations are overhauling their cultures to recruit, develop, and retain professionals who can be a “we,” instead of a “me.”

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation on how you can partner in this changing economy kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

 

 

 

Board of Advisors: Why It Can Help Your Business, Explains Image Marketing Consultants

Putting together a Board of Advisors is becoming a standard part of the marketing mix.

That’s because this tool helps both your business and the professional objectives of the advisors.  With some economists predicting GPD growth of 3 percent in 2013, this might be the time for you to consider this tactic.

Unlike a Board of Directors, the Board of Advisors is an unofficial, informal group.  The members come together to provide guidance, access to their own networks, and the power of their own individual brandingto your business.  In return, you give them exposure on your website and in your other communications, introduce them to others useful to their own enterprises, and make it possibible for them to become insiders in a field they might want to be associated with.  Although they usually don’t receive monetary compensation, they tend to enjoy perks from your operations such as entertainment and discounts, an enhanced network, and the brandingside effects of your success.

How to put together a Board of Advisors?   Here are some guidelines:

Clarify Purpose.  Potential members are busy people.  So you have to be clear why they are there and what their roles/duties will be.

Clarify Incentives.  Those should be detailed.  For example, you would state that the industry is growing 21 percent and your particular enterprise is growing 42 percent.  Explain what’s in it for them to be part of that high profile niche.   Also indicate the networking opportunities since the membership will include other proven professionals, maybe even celebrities.  Then spell out the concrete perks such as exposure in your promotions, tickets to sports events, discounts, and possible referrals.

Be Attentive. Figure out what the members want before they even ask.  That will keep them happy participants in your business.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation for your marketing, public relations, partnership, special events, and social media needs kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.