Archive for the ‘LoyalistPR’ Tag

Master Twitter in 3 Easy Steps

Want to join, or already joined Twitter but feel overwhelmed?  Here is a quick guide to get you started:

 

1)      Ditch Twitter.com for HootSuite– Twitter.com is clunky,  unorganized and makes it hard to find topics of interest. Instead, start using an app that allows you to customize your Twitter experience, all from one window.

 

So. Simple.

 

 

 

2)      Create topic searches: Using keyword searches in HootSuite/TweetDeck allows you to see what interests you. Like popcorn? Have a “popcorn” search set up and you will see any discussions about popcorn in your feed.

 

3)      Use Twitter Share/HootBar/ Buffer– These allow you to Tweet straight  from a webpage you are viewing. No more copying a URL and pasting it into Twitter.

I spend a lot of time on Twitter, yet unless I need to do some account maintenance, I am never on twitter.com.  Use these tools to make Twitter easy!

Harry Potter and the Communicator

 

Harry Potter has smashed box office records. It has made its author a billionaire.  And now he can teach us some communication lessons.

Leading up to the finale, I was struck by the end of movie 4, Goblet of Fire, and movie 5, Order of the Phoenix.  Between the two movies, there are some great lessons to be had.

Be Open: At the end of Goblet, Dumbledore (the headmaster) amasses all the students and lets them know that a student was killed by Voldemort. He doesn’t hide, he doesn’t say “a series of events occurred which led to the expiration of a Hogwarts Student.” He lets everyone know what has happened, and because of this a crisis is calmed and people begin to want to fight back against Voldemort.

Dumbledore showed great wisdom at the end of movie 4, but then in movie 5 Dumbledore has a change of heart.

Don’t Avoid Your Audience: Throughout all of Phoenix, Dumbledore avoids Harry Potter, avoids the students and avoids the national newspaper. What happens? People begin to lose trust and faith in the wise wizard, Harry Potter becomes outraged and the general public no longer wants to fight against Voldemort.

Meanwhile, Harry has done the opposite and his friends trust him, while people who didn’t trust him completely, come over to his side (I’m looking at you Seamus Finnigan)!

Harry Potter teaches us to be open, engage with our audience and true to our beliefs.  If we do that, perhaps we will smash our own personal and career records.

Consistency is Key!

While looking at my LinkedIn profile, my WordPress plugin stuck out like a sore thumb: “posted 28 days ago.” I guess time flies when you are having fun, especially when consistency is so important with any form of communication. Any people who view my profile, no matter how good/bad my blog posts are, will see I am out of date, and not committed to my blog (I am, I swear!)

It just reinforces one of my key mottos: consistency is key! No matter how good you perform, no matter how good a product is, no matter how great of press release you make, you have to be consistent. A great post won’t stand the test of time, as people always want more and they want the more to be just as good, if not better.

In an ever growing and competitive world, being consistent is key to your company and brand succeeding. Have a consistent message, logo, image and events and with a bit of hard work and luck, you will perform.

The worst thing I see companies do is a constant shift in messages. They will try something for a few weeks (or less) and see no results, so they give up. This is exemplified perfectly by the vast amount of Facebook pages left abandoned after only a few updates.

So whatever you do, be on target and keep your brand consistent.  Heck, be consistent in life too and you’ll be on your way to success.

PR and its Bad Reputation

As my journey continues in the PR and Loyalist College world and I write this (now voluntary) blog, the last few weeks have been busy, fun and eye-opening. From reading numerous blogs, comments, and meeting other people in general, PR does not have a great reputation.

Ironic that the profession concerned with the public has a negative image in their eyes.  Yet, it is the reality. I believe that PR has gotten a bad reputation due to the actions of a few people and because it is associated with corporations, which never have received much public admiration.

First off, the terms “PR stunt” “spin doctor” and all of the typical jargon to deride PR are used quite commonly now, especially when reading about the actions of banks and car manufacturers. These terms are ingrained and probably won’t die away soon. But as PR professionals I think we must strive to leave these terms behind and create great events and say what we can about the situation, rather than trying to spin the truth.  If we create a great event, then the public will not decry it as a “PR stunt.” If we say what we can during any situation without spouting falsity then the public will have no reason to call us “spin doctors.”

The CPRS (Canadian Public Relations Society) and the IABC (International Association of Business Communicators) are the two major PR associations in Canada and provide all PR professionals with codes of ethics. All members must abide by their rules and for good reason.

If all PR professionals follow good judgement, maybe our profession will be seen as a good career rather than a bad one. Perhaps people will be proud to call themselves Public Relations professionals, rather than shroud their profession with words like communicators, public affairs or any other synonym. I know I am proud to be involved with PR, are you?

 

Creatively Rebuilding Downtown Belleville

My first blog post dealt with the problem of Belleville’s Downtown. Five months later, the Loyalist PR crew tried to tackle the problem, albeit in a different manner.

Divided into 8 groups we creatively came up with ideas to solve the problem. How did we get creative? Some groups painted their solution, others wrote a poem and some scoured magazines to make a collage.

Despite the different mediums used, the messages remained the same:

1) Keep it clean: Belleville needs to keep the streets clean and work on adding trees, flowers to improve the downtown landscape

2) Keep it clean: Belleville needs to get rid of the criminal drug use and prostitution, as was mention in all groups

3) Build it and they will come:  The downtown lacks any great retail stores, there is no hook.  It also lacks any middle class night scene, which would create traffic downtown and drive away the illegal trade happening.

4) Enforcement: Security and police need to enforce the area in order to make the improvements last

5) Work together:  Downtown merchants, citizens and councillors need to work together as a community.  Are the businesses rivals? Yes.  But  that  shouldn’t stop them from promoting each other.  Working together will make the downtown better which will improve traffic and increase sales.

If downtown enacts these improvements and sticks with them, it is sure to succeed.

While playing with play-doh, paint, scissors and glue might seem like child’s play, it spurned our creativity and created an easy way to revitalize downtown Belleville.

Is .50c Worth the Risk?

School is back in session; students return to class and stand in line to wait for student loans. Normally things go smoothly, yet this time before leaving the loan room, they are told they need to pay .50c in change, or else they won’t receive their diploma. Huh?

Back in September, students could option to pay all their tuition via their first loan installment. Yet, something went wrong with the mathematics and now the college wants the student to pay for the college’s mistake or else the college won’t give them a diploma. On the one side, the student does owe money; however, they were not the one who messed up the tuition payment. The college decided how much the full tuition was and took it off the student’s loan installment.

I have talked a lot about crisis communications on my blog and one of the key aspects is to identify potential crises and remove them. A PR nightmare is just waiting to happen if a student fails or refuses to pay .50c. Local media would run with the story of a hard working student being denied their diploma and chances are the situation could be a national embarrassment. Enrollment and prestige in the college could plummet and they would be out thousands of dollars.

Instead of threatening the students, the college should absorb their accounting error. If every student owed .50c, it would only be close to $1,000.  That pales in comparison with the damage a PR crisis would cause.

The Marketing Success of Christmas

Tis the season to be jolly, so the song goes.  I agree with the song too.  People in general are much nicer, happier and joyful around Christmas compared to any other time of the year.  The public is also apt to spend lots of money during Christmas.  While many criticize the commercialization of Christmas, I think marketing has only enhanced the gift giving of Christmas.

Christmas has been celebrated for centuries and has always brought families, friends and happiness to the forefront of our minds.  Usually these are pushed to the back of our minds for the majority of the year, but Christmas evokes something in us.  It inspires, it gives hope and people are genuinely in a good mood around Christmas.

What happens when people are carefree and happy? They tend to have parties, give gifts which results in spent money.  Instead of worrying, people are happy.  Instead of saving, people spend and instead of working, they spend lots of time with family.

Marketing has enhanced the spirit of Christmas in both happiness and gift buying.  Christmas is now associated with giving.  You are a rare family if you do not give boatloads of gifts during Christmas.  Marketing has been so successful because it has a natural launching pad to start with.  Yet, if people feel better during Christmas is it okay to have gluttonous spending as a by-product? (or better feelings a by-product of over-spending)?

Yes, it is okay.  In the end, money is just money but family is something special.  If the kindness, joy and feeling of Christmas could carry out for the entire 12 months, the world would be much happier overall.  Physical objects such as money do not create happiness.  Christmas brings the spirit that all humans need to have.  Enjoy your Christmas with family and friends!

Battling Spurious Loyalty



Spurious brand loyalty, according to Wikipedia is when a customer “repurchases a brand due to situational constraints…, a lack of viable alternatives, or out of convenience.” So how does a company battle against spurious loyalty when they enter a new market?

Well, in the world of popular coffee this battle has been going on for a few years.  Currently, Tim Hortons has legions of spurious customers.

“Let’s get a Tim’s before work” or “I’ll grab a double double in order to stay awake” are just a few examples of Tim Hortons’ brand dominance.

Since coffee is a million dollar business, McDonald’s has recently (the last few years) entered the fray.  However, with Tim’s Hortons having legions of spurious customers, how does a company pull coffee drinkers away from the only place they get coffee from?

McDonald’s thinks free coffee is the answer.  Currently, McDonald’s offers a free small coffee 24/7 to customers with no strings attached.  They figure, if people skip buying Tim’s in order to get a free McDonald’s coffee, they will see that McDonald’s coffee is superior and start buying McDonald’s instead.

Yet, McDonald’s free promotion is risky.  Offering free coffee might get some people to try out its coffee, yet if they are giving it out for free then once the promotion is over it might be hard to persuade people to start buying a free product.  It’s hard to argue one week later that a free product now needs to be paid for.  What happened between the two weeks to create a 140% increase in price? (0-$1.40)

Another problem is that automatically people will think a free coffee is worse than one that has to be paid for.  I think to myself, well if this coffee is free how can it be better than coffee worth 140% more in price?  Although it is entirely possible that a free coffee is better, it creates a negative perception prior to the first sip.

Instead, I think McDonald’s needs to begin switching tactics.  Have some coffee related events to draw media interest.  Instead of giving everyone free coffee, have some samples in the store to promote the coffee.  Provide excellent customer service, excellent coffee, and promote the coffee through an integrated marketing plan.  This strategy will avoid the risks of the free coffee promotion and create a prestige or at least a positive reputation for McDonald’s coffee.

By creating a great product and coupling it with great service, McDonald’s can create some buzz around its coffee.  Better coffee with a smile, what more do customers want?

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