musings on marketing, media, public relations....and life, by David Reich
Reich Communications, Inc.
Reich Communications, Inc. is a boutique public relations agency in New York City offering full service in a variety of areas, with specializations in business-to-business; advertising, marketing and media firms; transportation safety; non-profits, and select consumer products and services.
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"Junta Joe" Joe Pulizzi has made his name as a leading proponent of Content Marketing through his books and his blog.
For the past few years, he's invited fellow marketing bloggers to share their thoughts about what the coming year may bring to the marketing practice. I'm pleased to be among the 75 or so he's included in his annual survey, which he shares in a slideshow you can access here.
Here's what I had to say...
"Harnessing social media will continue to be the holy grail search by marketers.
Those who use social media to convey useful and relevant content that is not simply about selling a product or service will find their outreach getting a better reception than others whose social media outreach is nothing more than hard-core sales messages.
Control of the social media function continues to be fought over by marketing, advertising, PR, sales and, in some cases, the lawyers. I think it belongs under PR, but with full cooperation and support of all the other disciplines AND the CMO and/or CEO."
In other words, for content marketing to work, it must convey information that is relevant and of interest or importanmce to the intended recipient. Otherwise, it's just more junk mail clutter.
And I think the people to best translate an organizations marketing and communications messages are those of us in Public Relations. Our job is to put marketing material into journalistic terms, so viewers will see it as informational moreso than as a sales message.
"...Brand marketers must champion robust content creation throughout their organizations with particular and genuine attention to providing value to prospects and customers as they progress through the buying cycle."
"Content marketing/publishing will evolve into an even more collaborative effort between organizations and their customers. The lines of authorship and ownership will blur as it becomes easier and more common for many different stakeholders to contribute to the content pool."
That's what FedEx SVP of U.S. Express Operations Matthew Thornton III said in a response to the video that's gone wildly viral showing a FedEx delivery person tossing a package that looks like a computer or video screen over a fence into a customer's yard.
In a post yesterday on the official FedEx site, under the heading "Absolutely, Positively Unacceptable,” Thornton said: “Along with many of you, we've seen the video showing one of our couriers carelessly and improperly delivering a package the other day. As the leader of our pickup and delivery operations across America, I want you to know that I was upset, embarrassed, and very sorry for our customer’s poor experience. This goes directly against everything we have always taught our people and expect of them. It was just very disappointing.”
He adds, "While this delivery fell way short of those high standards, we are already using it as a learning opportunity. We’ve shared this video internally to remind everyone that every single package is important to you, our customers, and that actions like this are totally unacceptable. We are also going to build this into our training programs as a constant reminder of the importance of earning -- and keeping -- your trust with every single delivery. We hope that you, like the customer involved in this incident, will see it as an unfortunate exception that proves the rule that our company cares for its customers.
The video has had more than 4-1/2 million views so far on YouTube and it's been the subject of countless stories on local and even network newscasts.
But FedEx seems to have a really bad situation under control, even as the video still gets more hits. FedEx representatives identified the guilty delivery person and then met with the customer to apologize and replace whatever may have been damaged in the package. Evidently, they did not call a news conference, but instead relied on fast corrective action and got the apology out quickly via social media. What more could they have said in a news conference, after all, and what other questions and embarrassing situations might then have been brought up by reporters?
Most people realize their packages might get rough treatment not only by Fed Ex, but by UPS and, especially, by the U.S. Postal Service. In one TV news report I saw, the damaging FedEx video was followed by a similar video showing a UPS delivery person tossing packages out of his truck and onto the ground.
The fact that FedEx made no excuses and agreed that this was simply unacceptable will go a long way in easing the problem and minimizing any long-term negative impact on the company. The company generally has a good reputation for professionalism, so I think most people will cut them a break with this unfortunate breach. A quick look at the comments posted onthe FedEx blog show overwhelming understanding and support, and some comments even note experiences they've had where FedEx employees have gone above and beyond to serve their customers.
In my own experience over the years with FedEx, I've found their drivers to be courteous and professional. And I still believe that when it "absolutely, positively has to be there overnight," FedEx is the way to go.
Despite all the gloomy forecasts and continuing talk of the demise of print media, new titles keep coming out.
Crain's B to B reports that 62 b-to-b titles launched in 2011, nearly twice as many as the 34 that came out last year. The number of b-to-b titles that shut down was 38, down from 47 last year.
When you add in consumer titles, the totals still look pretty decent. A total of 239 magazines began publishing this year, 24 percent more than the 193 titles that launched in 2010. On the negative side, the number of magazines that shut down this year is 14 percent lower than last year -- 152 in 2011 vs. 176 last year.
Dire predictions aside, people keep trying. To me, that's good news.
Today's Wall Street Journal has a story about some fairly new PR agencies who specialize in digital stunts to try to gain visibility for their clients. Thank goodness it is only in the "New York Report," a regional section that doesn't go out nationally. Hopefully, it will do minimal damage to PR's already fragile reputation as a legitimate profession that's a viable component of marketing and communications.
The WSJ story tells of an agency, run by a 24- and a 25-year old, that tried a stunt to try to "go viral" for a client. The story doesn't say if it succeeded or not; it was more about the stunt than the results. It also tells of a firm whose owners have tried to make a name for themselves as online celebrities, and how they are using their supposed celebrity to get people to participate in events they plan for clients.
The article headline calls this "a PR throwback to showmanship." (Read "hucksterism.")
The story does quote a PR agency head (herself a bit of a question mark in my eyes, because of her TV reality show persona that doesn't portray us in a great light) who says stunts-only is a weak business model. "An online stunt," she says, "is like an amazing first date... but that's not a relationship."
Stunts, gimmicks, parties. I am sure our friends at The Journal know public relations is a lot more than that. I wish they'd write about it.
The elevator pitch... a phrase that describes what you might say -- quickly -- to someone with whom you normally wouldn't get much or any face time when you want to convince him or her of something, such as hiring you or your firm, or buying into your idea, whatever it may be. You're riding in an elevator with that person, whose decision can have a major impact on your life. You have 20 or 30 seconds or, depending what floor you're going to and how slow the elevator is, maybe a minute.
The person you want to pitch has nothing else to do except stare at the floor numbers as they change, so you have a captive audience.
Not any more.
The days of the elevator pitch are gone. They died quietly over the past two or three years, as more of us got iPhones, Droids and other smart phones.
I got onto my elevator this afternoon after lunch. Two other people got on with me. Even before the door could close, all of us had our phones in our hands, checking email, texts, stock quotes or the weekend weather forecast. Not one of us looked up; not at the floor numbers nor at each other.
To try to strike up a conversation in that environment might be considered rude... or certainly intrusive and perhaps not well-received.
So much for the elevator pitch. Unless you can come up with an app that can instantly send your elevator pitch to the phone of someone else who's in the elevator with you.