Posts about Strategic Communications

Perception versus reality: Why you should routinely assess and survey your stakeholders

A key lesson I’ve learned over the years – painfully at times – is to be wary of assuming how someone feels about something without asking them. Such assumptions easily can be interpreted as indifference. While this holds true for anyone, it can be especially destructive when the victims are those you know well. This might seem like advice for how to manage personal relationships, but it’s also quite applicable for organizations. A key function of PR and marketing is developing messaging campaigns that resonate with key stakeholders and address their main interests and concerns. The more adeptly your organization …

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Five tips to improve productivity and stay focused on big picture marketing goals

We’re halfway through the year, making July a fitting time to revisit your goals for 2019. Here are a few tips to ensure you don’t get lost in the weeds executing your strategy, and instead, are able to home in on your big picture marketing goals. What could you eliminate? Answering this question will force you to prioritize your to do list. Are there reports you’re drafting weekly that would serve the same purpose if you delivered them monthly? Be honest with yourself, and your organization – are there things you’re doing on a regular basis that you could eliminate …

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Marketing’s Age-Old Question: Advertising or Public Relations?

Of all the venerable questions – paper vs. plastic? the chicken or the egg? Ginger or Mary Ann? – the one that marketers struggle with most is whether to invest marketing dollars in advertising or public relations. Driving awareness through traditional advertising There was a time, not all that long ago, when the answer was more clear-cut. If you needed a campaign to drive awareness by hitting target audiences with a sustained frequency, then advertising was the way to go. Your only limit to reaching your prospective buyers was the depth of your pockets, and if they were deep enough, …

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What is TikTok? Here’s what marketers need to know

I’m hailing it the most cringeworthy social platform yet. But then again, my mom never let me have MySpace. Plus, it’s the first platform where I am older than the primary target audience, so maybe I’m just getting old and crotchety? TikTok. The what Remember Vine? RIP. And how about Musical.ly? Similar to both those ghosts of app pasts, TikTok is an app for making and sharing short videos. In fact, TikTok used to be Musical.ly until it was purchased by the Chinese company, ByteDance and merged into what it is now. In the app, video creators, normal people like …

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Questioning Facebook’s News Desert Designations in Virginia

Virginia is home to 133 daily and weekly newspapers. I know because I work with many of these hyper local outlets on behalf of clients. (I also counted and double-checked with the Virginia Press Association late last year.) I’m questioning Facebook’s latest research into Virginia’s news deserts. To support its new Today In section on the Facebook app, the company is working “to better understand the local news vacuum” and looked at news deserts across the U.S. According to Facebook: To build Today In, we needed to know, for any given community in the US, what local news was available …

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Need a Communications Audit? Answer These 10 Questions to Find Out

I get excited about preliminary meetings with prospective clients. It’s not so much the possibility of helping solve their communications challenges – though I love that – but I like hearing folks tell us their story – how they were founded, what they do better than their competitors, how they came up with their latest big idea? Inevitably, layered within that story are varying degrees of uncertainty. How can we do a better job at communicating who we are to our important constituencies, including sales prospects? How do we make the best use of our limited budget? What should our …

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The College Admissions Scandal: A Lesson in Reputation Management

I was on a long car trip a couple weeks back with an old college friend, and as the miles rolled by, we got a chance to share our perspectives on the issues of the day. He’s among my smartest friends (I tell him he’s easily in the “Top 50”) and works as an international consultant advising technology companies about go-to-market strategies. Like me, he stays up on the news, and despite the fact that we live 3,000 miles from one another, we seem to share common wisdom on many issues. When the topic came to the recent college admissions …

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Help us help you: five things we need from clients to thrive

There have been a few recent client meetings where I’ve had a client stop and ask, “What can we be doing to make our relationship more productive?” That kind of question is music to any PR person’s ears. After all, it takes two to tango, as they say, and any relationship is better when all parties are working to make sure that it’s as effective as possible. If you work with a PR firm or you’re considering working with a partner on PR efforts in the future, here are five ways you can help your collective PR efforts thrive: Help …

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Can you sell and be a storyteller at the same time?

Imagine this scenario. You’re looking at shirts and a salesperson says, “You should definitely buy this shirt. It’s a really great shirt. It’ll keep you cool, and you’ll look so good in it.” Okay, thanks, you know you look good in cotton. But what if that salesperson said, “The other day I was at the Nationals game, and it was 95 degrees outside with zero shade. I wore this shirt and it was so breathable and light. It saved the day.” The latter approach is relatable, it appeals to your emotions, and it makes you want to buy the shirt …

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Writing Woes: The Losing Side of a Particular Punctuation Point

And Now This Important Communications Issue: The Exclamation Point

My eyes caught an article online the other day that included this sentence: “Officials also stated that an innocent 35-year-old passerby who found himself caught up in a long-winded dispute over use of the serial, or Oxford, comma had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.” My first reaction was, “damn, so it’s come to that.” I know many people whose ardor toward their preferred rules of grammar and usage is consummate. But it’s hard to believe such passions would end so tragically. Only upon reading further did I realize I was hoodwinked again by a satirical piece from The Onion. …

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