Blog Your Way to Effective PR

By Jim Parham, Chief Operating Officer

Long gone are the mimeograph machine and soon-to-be shelved fax machine. (Did you know that fax is short for facsimile?) Email is now the gold standard, and the U.S. Postal Service has become more of a direct marketing company than a carrier of love letters. Twitter handles a large amount of the amorous outreach, and it takes only 140 characters … thankfully.

Now comes the rise in blogs, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. And most companies have a website, correct?  If the institution doesn’t have a Web presence, then something is usually very wrong at the firm. After all, we’re now getting a majority of our information from the Internet. Remember the Yellow Pages? Well, maybe you use the online version, but where are those bulky big yellow books?

How do blogs leave a footprint in our public relations turf? Good question. Here are two interesting facts from the blogging site PR Connection: Nearly 40 percent of U.S. companies use blogs for marketing purposes, and there are 152,000,000 blogs on the Internet.  Well, that was yesterday’s number. I’m sure it’s 155,000,000 by now.

Blog Friendly PR, which maintains a high-visibility website, says blogs are a new and fresh way to market product and services in an affordable and effective way.  Blog Friendly PR, after all, was created to bridge the gap between brands and bloggers. So, in others words, blogs are a cheap and direct way to reach your customers. Let’s not forget, too, that thousands of journalists scan blogs looking for scoops, trends, rumors and innuendo.

I attended a public relations seminar where the speaker stated, “Either be part of the conversation or let the conversation be one-sided, and that might not be a good thing for your business.”  He was referring to digging into social media and countering the unabashed, unfiltered content on the Web. Blogs are an ideal way to start a conversation, comment on other happenings, or respond to negative comments and erroneous online postings about you or your company.

Speaking of unfiltered, a great advantage to social media and blogging in particular is providing content to highly engaged stakeholders (and possibly tangential ones) without the media filter. You can go “direct” to your customers, influencers and decision-makers without having a mainstream media editor determine if it’s worthy of reprinting or re-broadcasting. Now that’s convenient.

A major disadvantage of blogs, however, is their ineffectiveness if no one reads them. That’s where savvy marketing comes in. You must be visible among the throngs of postings and rise above the daily buzz and clamor. To do this, it’s best to turn to a social media marketing guru. Now, almost every public relations agency has a social media expert who knows how to navigate much of the uncharted waters of the blogosphere.

So, put down the traditional, hard-copy collateral material (that few people read anyway) and start blogging your way to improved company awareness and success. Online is where most of the customers spend a majority of their time. Don’t believe me? Just ask Amazon.

— Jim Parham, Vice President, Chief Operating Officer 

Just for Kicks

The World Cup is an exciting time, not only for soccer fans but for advertisers as well. With one of the highest viewing rates of any televised sporting event, soccer players aren’t the only ones who take center stage … or field.

Before the first kickoff, the reach of World Cup advertisements had surpassed that of Super Bowl 2014. According to marketing research by Google, advertisements related to the World Cup have been posted and/or shared 6.9 million times compared to the 4.7 million shares generated by Super Bowl commercials.

Fútbol, 1. Football, 0.

But how is this possible?

With such a culturally diverse fan base, soccer is considered the world’s most popular sport.  And, because of the way the game is played, advertisers have had to be more creative.

If you are familiar with soccer (unlike me), you probably know that it is a game played in complete halves with no breaks in between. While that may contribute to the high number of people actually tuning in, it doesn’t leave much room for conventional advertising.

This year, savvy marketers such as Nike, Adidas and McDonald’s have come up with a new way to grab viewers’ attention. Instead of traditional commercials, these companies are creating short films with very little product placement, generally not even revealing the name of the company until the very end. Some are funny. Some are inspiring. But they are all very entertaining.

“The Game Before the Game” is a short created for Beats by Dre. It shows the process of getting “game ready”— putting on your Beats headphones and tuning out the world. Viewers see a montage of people who are in need of some serious mental preparation, not only professional soccer players and a businessman but all kinds of celebrities:  Neymar Junior, Cesc Fabregas and Luis Suarez, sure, but also LeBron James, Serena Williams, Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne. By the time the ad is over, you feel as though you had watched a Hollywood film. I mean, who doesn’t love seeing their favorite celebrity?

Nike created an animated short that mimics the plot of “Space Jam,” which featured Michael Jordan helping some Looney Tunes characters win a basketball game against alien slavers. In Nike’s version,  All-Stars including Christiano Ronaldo, Wayne  Rooney and Neymar Junior are given new attire, faster shoes and some other advantages to beat the monsters on the soccer field. Although predictable, this ad appeals to both children and adults while also, of course, branding the well-known name of Nike.

Much like an actual movie, these short films leave you feeling refreshed. They are meant to be enjoyed and watched without feeling any pressure or urgency to acquire a new product.

These are ads you want to watch. And then watch again. And then share with everyone you know. That’s what makes a great advertisement, not something showcasing shiny products and phrases like “limited time offer.”

The most effective advertisements are the ones that amuse and uplift. If at the end of an advertisement I am laughing, smiling, or hitting the “share to Facebook” button, it’s done its job.

Teens and Marketers Rejoice: Facebook’s Change of Heart

By Elizabeth Friedland, Senior Digital Account Strategist  

Facebook’s decision last week to allow minors to post publicly is doing more than making parents cringe, it’s making marketers rejoice — and entrepreneurial teens’ eyes widen with possibility.

The reasoning behind Facebook’s change of heart is obvious; the site has been losing the Internet popularity contest with teens as they flock to more open and arguably richer social networks such as Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter. What was once the exclusive playground of young adults is now being overrun with photos of babies and crock pot successes. Facebook seemed to have no choice but to throw open the doors to teens.