PR Is Nearly 90% More Valuable Than Content Marketing — Study



A Bill Gates’ quote is famous: “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.” Certainly, there’s validity for his philosophy. Even if you go to the competing Google News, you’ll typically find 50 million results for the key word, Microsoft.

Now we learn public relations is 88 percent more efficient than content marketing, according to a 2014 Nielsen study underwritten by inPowered.

Ostensibly, the study demonstrates the power of earned media as a center of influence. A positive news report is quite valuable for credibility to build trust.

“With so many companies spending so much money on content marketing, we wanted to clarify what kind of content is actually impacting consumers and helping them make their decisions,” said Peyman Nilforoush, co-founder and CEO of inPowered.

“This isn’t about disproving any particular type of content, it’s about identifying the most effective blend of content types to help effectively educate and inform consumers,” he added.

The study indicates the news media still has more credibility than branded content and maintains a strong influence on consumers.

Moreover, it means a greater return on the marketing investment in the consumers’ perceptions in the decision-making to buying cycle.

“It became clear throughout the study that, while exposure to each type of content did provide a lift across different categories, credible content from experts was the only content type that performed consistently across all stages of the purchase process,” said Tommy Cheng, vice president of Nielsen Content Innovation Solutions.

The study featured the responses of 900 consumers.

They were exposed to three types of content:

— Earned media (PR)

— Branded content (advertising)

— User-generated content (online consumer reviews)

“When it comes to determining which content to utilize to best educate consumers, it is not an either/or proposition,” said Mr. Nilforoush. “But by beginning with a solid foundation of trust built on trusted content from credible, third-party experts, all other content will have a greater impact.

Certainly, inPowered is credible as a PR-minded company, as I discovered after downloading the report.

Here’s an excerpt of an e-mail from the company:

“I’m Pirouz Nilforoush, Co-Founder and President of inPowered. I wanted to reach out and thank you for being one of the first to try inPowered and see if you needed any help getting started.”

True, it was a computer-generated response but it was a nice touch — a well conceived approach that a lot of companies should emulate.

It’s worth noting PR is valuable but that’s not to say content marketing is worthless. PR should be part of an integrated set of strategies to build trust with consumers.

That includes B2B and not just B2C. After all, 82 percent of B2B marketers prefer content-marketing strategies according to a study.

Either way, building trust is paramount.

From the Coach’s Corner, related PR tips:

For a Bounce in Revenue, Try Strategic Press Releases — Ever wonder why some companies are always in the news or how they succeed on the Internet? It’s a good bet they have a good PR consultant or have mastered the art of writing press releases. You can level the playing field with effective press releases.

Need PR, But No Budget? Here’s How to Leverage News Media — Social media is OK for promotion. But if you need blockbuster publicity, use best practices in marketing. Play a trump card — leverage the news media for public relations.

Inspiration from Raymond Loewy for the Best Business PR — A lady, sitting next to Raymond Loewy at dinner, struck up a conversation. “Why,” she asked “did you put two Xs in Exxon?” “Why ask?” he asked. “Because,” she said, “I couldn’t help noticing?” “Well’, he responded, “that’s the answer.”

How Some Companies Get Creative in Customer Service for Great PR — As you no doubt know, it’s increasingly competitive and costly to attract customers. It’s also a challenge to hang onto to customers while adding more for your business growth. Typically, consumers react favorably to marketing after receiving five positive messages.

Best Practices to Manage Your Global Brand, Web Reputation — As you no doubt know, the digital age has brought new challenges and opportunities. Best practices are critical in order to maximize your Web presence and to manage your online reputation.

News crew photo courtesy of jdurham, www.hotodaisy.blogspot.com

Inspiration from Raymond Loewy for the Best Business PR



A lady, sitting next to Raymond Loewy at dinner, struck up a conversation.

“Why,” she asked “did you put two Xs in Exxon?”

“Why ask?” he asked.

“Because,” she said, “I couldn’t help noticing?”

“Well’, he responded, “that’s the answer.”

Source: Alan Fletcher, the author of “The Art of Looking Sideways”

Raymond Loewy


Raymond Loewy, the father of industrial design, created the Exxon logo in 1966 but it wasn’t introduced until six years later. From 1909 to 1980, Mr. Loewy’s accomplishments were enormous.

Iconic accomplishments

Not to understate his global impact, here’s a mere sample:

  • Air Force One’s sleek look for President John F. Kennedy
  • Boeing’s 307 interior
  • Coca-Cola bottle’s sleek look
  • John F. Kennedy postage stamp
  • Pennsylvania Railroad locomotives
  • Sears Coldspot refrigerator
  • Schick electric razors
  • Studebaker models (including my favorite as a teen, the Avanti)
  • U.S. Postal Service’s eagle logo
  • Pennsylvania Railroad locomotives

Not only did he create memorable designs, he was not shy. As a young news director at a Palm Springs all-news radio station in 1976, I once answered a telephone call, which was to become a career highlight.

“Hi, this is Raymond Loewy. I’m a listener. I really like your station. I’m taking a little time off from work and thought you might be interested in interviewing me.”

Mr. Loewy telephoned me after he had finished designing the Air France Concorde interior, and the interior of NASA’s Skylab space station. That was heady stuff.

He was proud of his work, and was not ashamed to promote it. That was one of my first lessons about public relations. He knew how to make people notice his highly visible creations — he was a walking press release. His enthusiasm was contagious.

As a former broadcast journalist and now as a writer and business-performance consultant, I have a long history with press releases. If they’re put together well, they’re a source of power to create visibility.

Press releases – multimedia

Now comes validation on how to increase the power of press releases. You can greatly enhance your press-release visibility – by as much as 9.7 times – if you use the right multimedia content according to a 2012 study by PR Newswire.

PR Newswire analyzed thousands of press releases that the company published from 2011 to 2012. It wanted to evaluate the impact of photos, videos and other downloadable content. The company released the data – as you might expect – in a press release.

The data shows that simply adding a photo to a text-only press release increases visibility by 1.8 times, while adding a video to a text-only release delivers 4.3 times the number of views.

Including both photo and video content further enhances a story, driving visibility by 7.4 timesmore than plain text releases.

The web analytics team at PR Newswire also compared releases with additional layers of assets including downloadable files such as PPTs, PDFs, and DOCs along with photos and videos.

Power of videos

Although the number of such stories was fewer than those with just photos and videos, they received even more visibility and interaction — they represented the potential for releases with photos, videos and downloadable files to drive up to 9.7 times more visibility over text-only releases.

“Photos, videos, infographics and other types of multimedia assets present information in a more compelling and attractive way so it’s no surprise that they boost content visibility so significantly,” says Rod Nicolson, vice president, global reporting, PR Newswire.

“The volume of multimedia content distributed through PR Newswire is higher than it has ever been and it is extremely encouraging to see that our customers are embracing the power of multimedia to capture the attention of their audiences, build brand awareness and power content marketing initiatives,” Mr. Nicolson adds.

Certainly, Mr. Loewy would agree. You have to visually define your identity to get noticed.

Mr. Loewy’s official site: www.raymondloewy.com

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related press-release tips:

“You’re just anybody without your identity.”

Grenville Main


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is also a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





For a Bounce in Revenue, Try Strategic Press Releases



Ever wonder why some companies are always in the news or how they succeed on the Internet? It’s a good bet they have a good PR consultant or have mastered the art of writing press releases.

You can level the playing field with effective press releases. They should be part of your marketing mix.

A press release that gets the attention of the media in your marketplace serves as an implied testimonial – a marvelous center of influence. But you have to make a good impression on journalists so they’ll be motivated to act on your press release instead of discarding it.

ID-100224095 stockimagesRemember if you have a story to tell, it has to be newsworthy.

Topics can include salient business events, achievements, awards, financials, management changes, market expansions, product launches, special sales, and events to benefit your favorite charity.

Press releases are also valuable in crisis management. 

But press releases aren’t necessarily for journalists in this digital age. Bloggers might also be interested in what you have to say. 

Press releases are also effective in search engine optimization (SEO) with the right keywords to promote your Web site’s prominence and to give you more mentions on the Internet.

Even if you can’t get the media’s attention, your press release can still directly speak to your prospective clients and customers.

In my three decades+ experience, I’ve seen both sides of the equation. As a broadcast journalist, I was asked to consider press-release submissions. On this portal, I’m lobbied for publicity all the time. I’ve also written press releases to promote my clients, my firm and my employers (prior to becoming a business-performance consultant).

So for maximum impact, here are eight basic tips:

  1. Brevity – write one page with an economy of words – 300 to 450 words – to explain relevance or benefits. Occasionally, it’s OK to make it longer with an attachment for a white paper or a research study.
  2. Use good grammar to insure confidence among readers. (See: 25 Best Practices for Better Business Writing.)
  3. Remember the acronym, “WIIFM”, or what’s in it for me. Journalists and other readers want to know why they should pay attention to your press release.
  4. Use a proper focus. A press release should be informative and not read like blatant advertising copy. Forget the puffery. Keep it professional. Don’t exaggerate. By nature, and not to be critical, journalists are cynical.
  5. Make sure it’s timely information.
  6. Use journalistic style – make your release resemble a news article. Answer these questions: Who, what, when, where, why and how.
  7. Include salient information with facts or data in an easy-to-understand manner. Newsworthy quotes or statements by well-known people and you are helpful, too.
  8. Insert multimedia content. (For an explanation, see: Inspiration from Raymond Loewy for the Best Business PR)

Keeping in mind the eight basic tips, search-engine press releases should follow this  procedure:

  • Unless you know how to submit a press release to Google, Bing, Yahoo and others, you’ll have to use an online press release service. For maximum circulation in the search engines’ news and Web-search sections, expect to pay hundreds of dollars. There are also free press-release companies. You won’t net as much prominence, but if the company has a good Google Page Rank, you’ll enhance your SEO. 
  • Write a motivating headline. Use a factual, but brief headline with an action verb in present tense whenever possible.
  • Follow it with an overview — two sentences – to inform readers what to expect in the press release.
  • The body – the content – should effectively tell your story. The lead paragraph should capsulize your points with pertinent information.
  • At the bottom should be a brief profile about you and your company followed by contact information.
  • Incorporate SEO elements. Insert relevant links to your Web site — it’s best if your Web address is inserted in the second paragraph. Use a maximum of 10 relevant keywords that will attract Internet surfers. It’s best to insert the most important keywords whenever possible in the headline, overview and last sentence.
  • Promote your press release in all your social media.

You can see samples of my press releases here.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are three relevant resource links:

5 Vital Elements in Ammunition to Hit Your PR Targets — Even in this advanced age of the digital economy, a sound public relations program remains one of your best marketing investments. PR can give you power with an implied endorsement from the media. Even if journalists aren’t motivated to give you publicity, a strong PR campaign will help you to circumvent them.

Need PR, But No Budget? Here’s How to Leverage News Media — Social media is OK for promotion. But if you need blockbuster publicity, use best practices in marketing. Play a trump card — leverage the news media for public relations.

Fact Check on PR Newswire Advice – Some Inaccuracies — The headline in a press release published by a noteworthy press release company, PR Newswire, in July 2012 implies some misleading advice for businesses. Consider an alternate view. Quality free press release companies can help you become No. 1 on all the search engines.

“Always be sincere, even if you don’t mean it.”

-Harry S. Truman


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Photo courtesy of stockimages at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Public Relations Expert Provides Crisis Management Tips



Appearances count. But universities, presidential candidates and businesses have all demonstrated a lack of awareness about good public relations.

Consider these examples:

  • BP’s PR crisis following its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
  • Penn State and Syracuse – their sexual abuse scandals
  • Herman Cain was forced to quit his bid for the GOP nomination following his weak and untimely responses to the sexual harassment accusations
  • Bank of America’s controversial debit-card pricing fee, which prompted countless Americans to switch to community banks and credit unions, and a downgrade in the bank’s credit rating
  • Anthem Blue Cross of California faced multiple lawsuits as a result of policyholder perceptions of predatory increases in healthcare premiums and deductibles

Undoubtedly, in each situation, they would benefit from expert PR counsel.

“Businesses, politicians, sports figures and celebrities should all have a crisis plan because, sooner or later, they’re apt to need to activate it,” says noted PR expert Devon Blaine. “If that need never arises, at least they were prepared in case it did. There’s no harm in being a good Scout!”

Ms. Blaine has been the president and CEO of The Blaine Group, Inc. in Los Angeles since 1975.

“We’ve all seen what happens when people are not prepared,” she asserts. “Herman Cain is the perfect example. And he had a 10-day heads up prior to the Politico article coming out!  Most people don’t have that advantage.”

She says even with a crisis plan, there are important financial considerations.

“…even if a crisis ends up being well managed despite the lack of advance preparation, managing the situation is needlessly more costly than it would have been had plans been made in advance,” Ms. Blaine explains. “The quality of the response may also suffer.”

She advises against complacency.

“Everyone believes that it will ‘not happen to me,’ but it can…and does…even to extremely small businesses such as our client that imported all of the wheat gluten from China that was used in every recalled pet food product a few years back,” she cites as an example.

“Had they had a crisis plan prepared which identified the vendors needed to mitigate risk, i.e., FDA attorney, crisis public relations firm, other legal counsel, etc., before they needed all of the above on an emergency basis, they would have paid a small consulting fee in advance and been ready rather than retaining all of the above on a last-moment, already-into-the-crisis emergency basis at top billing rates.”

Here are her excerpted answers to my crisis-management questions:

Q: What are the keys to crisis management?  

A: There are many, for example:

  • Knowing what the potential crises could be
  • Planning and preparing in case the unthinkable should occur
  • Knowing who does what
  • Ensuring that the “chain of command” is known and adhered to in their office
  • Having a trained spokesperson who will address the media
  • Knowing what media to outreach to so that you are proactive rather than reactive
  • Ideally, having an ongoing positive media campaign in place, based on the theory that the best defense is a strong offense…if your business is viewed as a good corporate/community citizen, a crisis will harm the business less, and perhaps not at all

Q: How do you suggest preparing for crises in business?  

A: Ideally the management team will brainstorm what they believe could go wrong in the business and then bring in a professional risk manager and crisis public relations person to brainstorm with them. A walk through the facility will also identify other potential trigger points, i.e., doors that are left open and provide access to the company’s computer server, to other sensitive data, to products where quality control is essential, etc.

“We’ve all seen what happens when people are not prepared.”

Q: How do you suggest preventing a crisis?  

A: Conducting business in a prudent fashion is always the best way to prevent a crisis, however, there are issues beyond your control that can go awry, i.e., buying product from a manufacturer that operates with less than optimum ethics, importing toys that are decorated in China with paint that is toxic to humans, etc… unless you have control over each part of the process, there’s room for error. Visiting your vendor before doing business with them can help to control this but does not 100 percent ensure that you’ll not encounter a problem later.

Q: In the event of a crisis, what are best business management practices?  

A: Openness with the press and honesty are the best practices. Sometimes issuing a “controlled statement” is the best way to proceed, especially when management needs to focus on resolving the problem rather than being available to the press 24/7. It also prevents the possibility of a “burnout moment” and guards against a response that is not empathetic… as we saw in the recent oil spill crisis. Absolutely never respond with “no comment.” It is better to say “we are aware of the situation and we are looking into it,” which gives no more information yet sounds caring, concerned, involved, active and responsive rather than evasive.

Q: What are your suggestions for testing your crisis plan?  

A: In an ideal world, your management team will work with a crisis planning team such as that which The Blaine Group offers with its Reputational Risk Management Solution Product and avail itself of the opportunity to have key management roll up its sleeves and “play” a board game where a crisis is enacted and everyone plays out their role. We recommend this be done on a quarterly basis to ensure that everyone stays fresh. It is also a good idea for your spokespeople to be trained and for there to be “refresher” sessions every few months.

Q: What should be done PR-wise immediately following a crisis?

A: See the response above regarding best business management practices. And, more important, think about what should be done before a crisis, i.e., being a good corporate citizen and making sure that you’re acknowledged as such in an ongoing positive corporate communications campaign.

Q: What should be done during the crisis aftermath?

A: See best business management practices above. Also, ensure that there is a steady stream of information released as you have answers to the situation that occurred.

Q: What should be done once a crisis has ended?

A: If there has been a problem with one of the company’s products or their product has caused their customers problems, there’s an opportunity to generate goodwill by setting up a program that not only ensures this won’t happen again but also instructs their customers in how to handle such a crisis.  Be certain to communicate that all underlying issues have been addressed.

(Note: I’ve been very familiar with the expertise of Ms. Blaine since 2004. She is a fellow member of Consultants West, a roundtable of veteran consultants in the Los Angeles area.)

From the Coach’s Corner, Ms. Blaine also explains the secrets to marketing success in a tepid economy.

“If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.”

-Bill Gates


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.  




Marketing Essentials on a Shoestring Budget


Part two of a three-part series: How to grow your small business



Why do businesses sometimes falter? Let’s get the perspective of a retired longtime business professor and business counselor who is actively pursued for his opinions.

“One reason is they fail to understand their special niche or their market,” said Neil Delisanti, who enjoyed a unique, long career as a business professor at the University of Puget Sound and The Evergreen State College. He also ran the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Tacoma, WA, where he advised more than 2,000 firms.

Mr. Delisanti says the mortality rate for small business is high in the first years of operation and it’s still true that 85 percent of businesses fail in their first year. The odds dramatically improve once you’ve survived for five years.

free stock photo Face, Smile, Write, NeutralSo, what can you do if you’re struggling?

He advises studying the emotions of consumers in their buying habits:

“Consumers want to visualize how your products enhance their families, personal lives or professions. Usually in household situations, women make 70-80 percent of purchases. They like hearing the term ‘security’ associated with their purchases. Other key persuasive words include: easy, good, healthy, new, own, proven, and results.”

Mr. Delisanti says businesses grow by developing core values, a vision, and a business plan:

“Don’t fantasize about what you think the market will be, or even worse, what you want it to be. Find out well before you invest your hard-to-accumulate capital, or take a financially irreversible action. Most businesses will fail, if they don’t understand the market niche they are trying to serve.”

He warns about the danger of cannibalizing your business:

“This often happens when a business opens another location or takes on an additional, but similar product/service. If your first store in Los Angeles has customers coming from Pasadena, when you open the Pasadena store, you will lose their business in Los Angeles. So you may see a sizable loss of sales from the first location or the original product.”

Whether you’re challenged by other small companies or so-called box stores, he emphasizes the Internet is the easiest, most-economical way to check out competitors: their product descriptions, prices, customer lists, staff profiles, branding, and their target niches.

“One reason is they fail to understand their special niche or their market.”

He prefers Yahoo finance for free financial data on big firms. You can research the press coverage of competitors on search engines and sign up for Google news alerts for competitors and your business.

To see which Web sites drive traffic to your competitors, go to Google and type “link,” a colon, a space, and then their Internet address. You can request them to link to your site, too.

You can check your competitors’ marketing strategy for free by researching listings of trade shows at www.tsnn.com. Trade magazines and associations sometimes provide information and startup resource kits.

Above all, visit SBDC. SBDC probably has an office near you.

Branding

“Regarding your brand, which will help set you apart from others, make certain you give adequate thought to your name, logo, slogan, pricing, location, and anticipated level of customer service,” said Mr. Delisanti. “Next, research what you need to trademark to protect against plagiarism and focus on presenting a consistent message.” (In Washington, the Secretary of State’s office will trademark a name or slogan for a nominal fee.)

Because advertising by itself is no longer adequate, your strategy for growth should include stimulating consumers into talking about your company’s value at the water cooler while they’re at work. That means a strategy of buzz marketing, which basically consists of three elements: paid advertising, earned advertising, and developing centers of influence.

In paid advertising, try to accomplish two objectives – short term sales and long-term branding success. However, this makes budgeting for advertising a bit tricky; 2 percent of adjusted gross sales is the maximum for most businesses. Some suppliers have co-op programs and will pay part or all of your co-op, which is welcomed by newspaper, radio and TV sales people. Co-op ads are an economical way to drive traffic to your Web site, but remember a good-looking Web site doesn’t guarantee success because it often merely serves as an online brochure.

Given all the chicanery in cybercrime and competition, see the best practices to optimize your brand and manage your Web reputation.

If you can afford TV advertising, make certain your commercial airs regularly and is highly visual. Don’t underestimate the value of audio to help grab the attention of viewers. Avoid the temptation to be too cute – concentrate instead on the benefits valued by consumers. Remember the Taco Bell Chihuahua dog? Sales actually dropped and the chain was forced to change its strategy.

It’s possible to dominate with a high frequency of TV commercials in off-peak hours. Understand whether you need a 5, 15, 30 or 60-second commercial. I like to air two 15-second commercials twice in the same break, at the beginning and again at the end. Known as bookends, they can accelerate your brand awareness. Be sure your messages don’t air adjacent to competitors.

Radio is good, too. As I do with TV news programs, my preference is a respected all-news or news-talk station. You’ll reach an active, socially aware audience. Their listeners’ average net-worth is usually higher. A good classical music station is good, too, for reaching high net worth listeners.

Sponsor worthy events and local news coverage to become a magnet for community-minded consumers with good credit.

Think about public speaking. Here’s how to get more opportunities as a guest speaker and here’s how to obtain the most profit from speaking opportunities.

Pitfalls

Direct mail coupons only attract price-conscious consumers once after each mailing. This means coupons won’t attract repeat customers to enhance your brand equity. With the success of the Internet, young adults increasingly ignore radio stations and newspapers.

Your paid-advertising campaigns need to be synchronized with earned advertising – good press about your business. Here’s how to leverage the news media for free PR. Note: journalists and bloggers also often take note of cause-related marketing campaigns that benefit the community.

Public relations is enhanced with video press releases.

You might benefit from unplanned PR opportunities by frequently advertising on TV news programs. Journalists will see your ads because they watch to evaluate their own reports as well as the work of their competitors to make certain they aren’t scooped on major stories.

A case study: After one of my clients consistently sponsored news programs for one year, a Seattle TV producer called me to request a live interview of my client regarding a new product; I hadn’t even submitted a press release. (The reporter is now an NBC newscaster.)

Developing centers of influence is a strategy of generating buzz with influential people to create referrals. Join professional, business, and civic groups (i.e. Rotary). Focus on value and customer service with strategic partnerships. For example, I’ve enjoyed synergizing clients, such as credit unions and car dealers. The credit unions advertised car sales in their newsletters, which resulted in credit unions loaning funds, dealers selling cars, and consumers happily driving home.

Don’t forget social networking media and blogging informative articles. See the best practices in search engine optimization for a No.1 rated blog.

Other Delisanti reminders for growth:

  1. Develop multiple revenue streams and a new product line.
  2. Be pro-active, which means making old-fashioned cold calls.
  3. Maintain relationships by sending greeting cards, thank you notes, special offer notifications, and an occasional visit or phone call to just chat and not sell. Make certain your small business voice is heard – vote and make your business concerns known to lawmakers.

To check out the other two columns in this three-part series, how to grow your small business, see:

From the Coach’s Corner: To summarize the principles of marketing essentials for growth on a shoestring budget, consider the words of Theodore Roosevelt: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Note the eight best practices in small business marketing.

“I notice increasing reluctance on the part of marketing executives to use judgment; they are coming to rely too much on research, and they use it as a drunkard uses a lamp post for support, rather than for illumination.” 

David Ogilvy 

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.