Especially millennials with our “trust issues.”
What is cause marketing, you ask?
It’s the pair of shoes you bought because the brand guarantees a pair will then be donated to a child in need. It’s the hat you purchased because you liked that the brand advocates for nature conservation. It’s the pink cookie you bought in October that supported breast cancer research (and you like cookies).
We’re surrounded by cause marketing each and every day. Whether we realize it or not, it plays a huge role in our decision-making process as consumers.
Cause marketing is not philanthropy. Philanthropy is writing a check and sending it to a non-profit organization. Instead, it’s the marketing of a for-profit product or business that benefits a cause or charity. Cause marketing is spreading the word that a brand supports a particular cause.
According to Adweek, supporting a cause is no longer a choice for brands. It is an expectation. Research from Gartner Iconoculture found 77 percent of Americans felt a strong emotional connection to purpose-driven brands.
It sounds easy enough—support a good cause, show the world your generosity and your sales will increase. But cause marketing is not a bullet-proof strategy.
It’s no longer enough for a brand to simply stand behind a cause and expect a return on investment. Consumers are becoming more skeptical when it comes to brands supporting causes—specifically millennials.
In fact, research conducted at the Haas School of Business at Berkeley in California, found “more than nine in ten millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause.”
Why? Millennials (born between 1981-1995) crave authenticity. Gen Z (1996 and beyond) does too. They want to feel like the brand genuinely believes in what they stand for instead of leaning on corporate social responsibility as a way to profit. If your campaign does not come off as sincere and authentic, it will fail. The for-profit has to live and breathe the values of the cause they are marketing or consumers won’t buy it.
So how do you win over consumers who are increasingly socially conscious? It starts with choosing the right non-profit partner.
When brainstorming causes your brand could work with, consider what makes business sense and integrates seamlessly into your company culture. Does the cause align with your brand? Do you share the same core values? Does the cause resonate with your target consumers as well as your employees? Does it alienate any of your key audiences?
Once you answer these initial questions for the potential non-profit partner, it’s important to dig even deeper.
When you choose the right non-profit partner, cause marketing has the potential to elevate your brand to new heights. This is your time to show your brand’s personality through action. Not only are you able to establish deeper brand preference with your consumers, but you get to do some good in the process.
Yedla Management Company approached REED Public Relations to help promote their newest hotel, the AC Hotel Huntsville Downtown. This is the first AC Hotels by Marriott® to open in Alabama. Not only was this an excellent opportunity for Yedla Management, but it was a huge announcement for the city of Huntsville. AC Hotel Huntsville Downtown is the first tenant for CityCentre at Big Spring, a highly anticipated $100 million, mixed-use development in Huntsville’s rejuvenated urban core.
With media relations at the forefront of the plan, REED created an editorial calendar with ideas for pitching local, regional and national media to generate buzz for the new hotel. In addition to a press release about the hotel opening, we crafted a release announcing the hotel’s signature cocktail, The Starry Night—a drink that plays on Van Gogh’s famous painting to underscore the integral role Huntsville has played in America’s space program as well as its burgeoning arts scene.
Knowing the signature cocktail was an essential standout item for the hotel, our team developed a media mailer that was sent to top national travel writers to introduce them to the AC Hotel in Huntsville. The package included a constellation cocktail glass, coasters with Van Gogh’s Starry Night painting, lavender simple syrup used in the signature cocktail and a sachet of lavender which is placed on the pillow of each hotel guest bed. Our team received great feedback from these travel writers who loved the gift.
Additionally, our team researched top travel influencers within Huntsville’s key driver markets to pitch for media stays at the hotel. These markets included Birmingham, Nashville, Chattanooga and more. This was another way to position the AC Hotel Huntsville Downtown as an ideal place for Millennials traveling to Huntsville for business or pleasure.
To celebrate the hotel’s grand opening, our team helped plan and execute a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Huntsville’s elected officials and civic leaders. The event filled the hotel lobby and received significant exposure through broadcast, print and online media coverage.
As a result of media outreach and the ribbon-cutting event, our team secured 36 media placements for the AC Hotel Huntsville Downtown, totaling 4,104,674 impressions. Additionally, five influencers stayed at the hotel and featured content which reached 334,327 followers.
Hint: It’s not always that simple
Whether you’re a Marketing & PR Director or a CEO, you’ve probably pondered the question of measuring your team or your agency’s public relations and marketing efforts.
While it would be so easy to Don Draper the whole thing, show a lift in sales, and dollar-for-dollar ad spend, when it comes to more subjective disciplines like marketing and PR, it’s just not that simple. And that’s no spin.
While sales and results are usually king, there are often factors in measuring a campaign that are subjective. And guess what? They always depend on the person evaluating the work.
The cold hard numbers
For all you analytical thinkers out there, I’m talking to you. While PR and marketing certainly have other factors at play that determine a campaign’s success, there are also some real numbers we can look at that will let us know our return on investment. Many firms and professionals may tell you, “PR is so much more valuable than advertising because it’s coming from a third party.” While that may be true, we like to stick to the facts at REED. We measure a media hit’s value at precisely what it would cost you to place an ad in the outlet, or the minimum ad spend necessary when it comes to media outlets. For example, if you’ve received a placement in Southern Living and you can’t just buy one ad, we’d value that hit at the minimum spend the magazine requires. Take that number, along with your total media placements, figure it into your monthly retainer and you’ll learn quickly whether the hits you’re getting justify that monthly fee you’re paying.
While advertising value and multipliers are a favorite in the industry, there are also those much-loved impressions. Again, this is a straight-up, no-frills way to measure how many people are hearing about you or saw that placement.
Where it gets even more granular is in the form of ratios and percentages. (Who knew my decision to major in PR to avoid any hard math classes was a bad one?!). What I mean by this is whether it’s an event where we’re handing out information, collecting sign-ups or engagement on social media, these numbers are all relative to the potential audience and how much of that audience we can reach. Below are a few measurement examples and benchmarks we strive for that can help guide you as you measure your marketing and PR campaigns.
The quality equation
So, we’ve determined that yes, there actually are real numbers that apply to PR and marketing. While there isn’t a hard-and-fast rule to measuring, there are most definitely ways to determine if your efforts were successful using the numbers. What those numbers fail to take into account, and what I might say is the most critical measure of success, (Of course I would. I was a PR major!) is the message that was communicated.
What good is it to have a front-page story in the New York Times that fails to describe your business accurately? Who cares if you handed out 5 million flyers or distributed 1 million mailers if it was riddled with typos or didn’t have a call to action? What impact does it have on your brand if you have millions of impressions on social media, but it’s a negative viral post?
Of course, this is common sense, but the quality equation is an essential part of measurement. Not only is the quality of the message important, but where it’s placed matters as well. Is the placement or event relevant to the audience you’re trying to reach? If not, again, who cares?
How do you ensure your campaigns measure impact through number AND quality? Here are a few factors in evaluating and questions to ask as you review your results:
– Did the placement, event, collateral, etc., include one or more of my key messages? (Yes, we’d love to get all three to five verbatim, but remember, this is PR and marketing, not advertising.
– Did this campaign encourage action and provide the necessary information for that action to take place? Think website, phone number, essential contact info. Side note – another way to measure this is to then check your website hits after a placement for spikes and referral sources.
– What was the response to my message? Did you have positive engagement on social media? Was there a post-event survey? Did people take action?
It Just Plain Feels Good Factor
Finally, there is that oh-so-intangible thing that makes you feel like what you’re doing is working and an impact has been made. For some, it’s a headshot of the CEO on the front page of a magazine. For others, it’s a kind note (or several) from core customers with genuine admiration and gratitude for the work you’re doing. Whatever that feel-good factor is, it’s another way to measure your success. The best part about it is it all depends on who is measuring it.
If you’ve followed our company, you likely know we’re big believers in the enneagram and we all love a good personality test. What those tests lead us to know is that no one person is the same or thinks the same way, and that includes when it comes to what success and how an effective PR or marketing campaign looks.
The best way to make sure your efforts measure up? Ask the person evaluating success at the end of the day what it means to them. If your current campaigns aren’t being measured in the ways mentioned above, now might be the time to set some clear benchmarks and make sure you truly are getting a return for that investment.
For something that is discussed so frequently in marketing and public relations, it sure is difficult to know what makes content any good. “Content” refers to the subject or ideas contained in something written, said, created or represented, and any marketer has probably had the saying “content is king” drilled into their heads. We all know it is especially true in our profession, but how do we go from a generalized, vague definition to something that is truly strategic and impactful for our marketing goals?
While how much content you produce and how it gets distributed can be subjective, there are a few guidelines to follow to ensure you are always creating qualitycontent.
The human attention span is short and it’s only getting shorter with each generation as technology gives us more and more instant gratification. If you want to convey your message, whether it’s in an Instagram caption, blog post or instruction manual, the best way to do so is by being as brief as possible.
This doesn’t mean to leave out information. On the contrary, drafting content with brevity in mind helps you to be strategic about the channels you use and the information included. You may even find that the information you’re trying to impart might be better suited for another format. You’ll always be sure that you include only the most pertinent information if you keep conciseness at the top of your consciousness.
Relevance is another term that can be hard to define, but it is oh so important when it comes to having high quality content. When I think of relevance, I like to start with my audience and work backwards from there. Determining if something is relevant is all about the WIFM – What’s In It For Me? Or in this case it’s actually What’s In It For Them (WIFM)? I ask myself several questions before I even begin typing:
Other things that make a subject or its content relevant for your audience might be that it’s timely. Sometimes it may make sense to tie a newsworthy theme into your content. Is everyone still talking about how they hated the Game of Thrones ending and you’re developing content around managing overbearing managers in the workplace? Go ahead and throw in a line or two about Daenerys to grab their attention. But if your content has nothing to do with a recent event or that story has gotten tired (GOT is on its way!), then it’s likely best to stick with your WIFT and keep it short and sweet.
Otherwise, you run the risk of being cliché or outdated and that’s the furthest thing from relevant.
Finally, the most important thing you can do with your content is to make it interesting. What does that mean? It means you should have a point of view, be engaging and make your target audience WANT to read it.
In a world where we are inundated with content at each turn, it is critical to be unique. Developing content for the sake of SEO and having a presence gets you nowhere if you don’t have something of value to say and an interesting way to say it.
The key to successful content marketing is obvious – it starts with quality content. Determine who your audience is and make your content relevant to them, keep it concise so people can absorb the information and, please, please, please – for the love of good PR – keep it interesting!
It’s a crowded content world out there. Create thoughtfully.
The words “thought leadership” get tossed around a lot in our industry, but few people actually understand what it means or how to achieve thought leadership status.
Here’s a secret: it’s really not that complicated. A thought leader is just that—someone who is a leader of thought in their industry or field. You must have expertise that people want to hear or read about. Those “thoughts” are usually pretty niche, and you should have the skillset, degree or personal experience to back them up.
Become an expert.
To become a thought leader, start with your expertise. Did you invent the internet? Engineer the first self-driving car? Create microwavable popcorn? It’s OK if you didn’t.
You don’t have to be the first to do something in your field to be considered an expert, but you do have to have the technical skills and knowledge to back up the advice you’re dishing out. Our expertise lies in crafting the message and getting it noticed, but good thought leaders are able to bring real value and authenticity to their audiences.
Be willing to advise.
Being a thought leader takes courage. I have had a number of clients ask to be positioned as thought leaders, but when the time came for those articles or content to publish, they were hesitant because of others who might have differing opinions.
I totally get it. Putting your expertise out into the world is a scary thing. I say this as I’m actually doing it. But have some confidence in yourself. You can’t be a thought leader without voicing an opinion.
Lay a foundation.
Once you’re a subject matter expert and feel you have something valuable to contribute, that’s when the magic can happen. Although, it’s not actually magic; there’s a strategy behind it.
A PR team or in-house PR manager should first work in your local market and with industry publications to establish credibility. In most cases, before landing the The New York Times, you have to start with the local daily or business publication. Any national reporter will immediately Google you if they receive a pitch and don’t recognize your name. When they do, you want them to find positive articles and clips of you sharing your expertise on a local or regional level. A baseline of relevant, local coverage paired with a skilled pitch and a timely angle can be just enough to pique a national outlet’s interest.
Be patient. Keep trying.
The final piece of the equation is one of the toughest: patience. Once you have a solid hold on your local media market, a PR team should continue to develop fresh angles and ideas to have your expertise included in bigger and bigger outlets. This might include tying your expertise into a current national trend or developing a column with a unique perspective.
Securing coverage can happen quickly if the timing is right, but it typically takes weeks or even months for print publications that have long lead times. The key is patience and continual outreach to boost your chances of a national feature.
If you are truly an expert, have quality content and establish a solid baseline of local coverage, you could be a thought leader! It won’t happen overnight, but when it does, establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry can separate you from the competition and help build trust with your audiences.
Don’t forget that thought leadership is just one component of an overarching communications campaign. Whether establishing your expertise locally or working toward your next national feature, always be sure your thought leadership plan is strategic, measurable and aligns with the overall goals of your organization. With a little patience and a lot of perseverance, you’ll soon be fielding calls from reporters reaching out to you for insights and comments!
During the Dallas Spring Meeting for PRGN members of the Leadership Roundtable, we were given the opportunity to get out of the hotel conference center and explore one of Dallas’ top corporate headquarters (and a Three Box Strategic Communications client) – Topgolf. While the visit was a great opportunity to cut loose and have a little fun, it also served as an opportunity to learn from a top national brand and get a refresh on some basic PR principles we should be applying to our work each day.
Three Key Learnings from Topgolf that apply to all PR professionals
Your Message: It has to resonate with your audience(s).
This point is an oldie but goodie and it was nice to hear Topgolf reinforce it during our visit. We heard from director of corporate communications Adrienne Chance and she discussed the breadth of audiences that Topgolf has to reach with their message from millennia
ls and families with children to avid golfers and traveling businessmen. Each audience is unique, but the core message must stay the same.
As PR experts it’s our responsibility to ensure the message is aligned with the brand and resonates with each defined audience. However, we also can’t be everything to everyone so we must clearly define which audiences are most important and play to their pain points in our outreach and message.
Most everyone works with some sort of professional service providers to accomplish the goals of their organization – partners, vendors, suppliers, whatever we call them.
Anyone who provides a professional service likely understands the most important goal of client satisfaction is making certain the customer is happy and there is a good working relationship.
What many in a service-oriented environment tend to forget is perspective. Ultimately, we have to make our clients happy and not just do what we want. We have to do what our client wants and the way they want it done while still showing our value and expertise.
After working in the agency world for several years and then taking a leap in-house, I learned exactly how I wanted and didn’t want to be treated by those partners, giving me some invaluable lessons as I stepped back into agency life.
Be patient. They have a long list.
While billable hours and moving the ball forward are what we focus on in an agency or professional services firm, our clients’ priorities aren’t always in line with that. We may only have one project we’re working on with our client, but they may have 10 others that come before it. Not to mention their boss may have other ideas about what’s important and should be done quickly.
That’s not to say that we should let things slide until a project fizzles, but striking the right balance between pestering and following up is key. Understanding that clients have other priorities and letting them know you’re aware of that will go a long way toward making them feel like you’re on their side.
Know their budget and where you fit into it.
Our clients often have large budgets, but our work may be just a fraction of that. When you know your client’s total budget and how you fit in, it helps you to understand where you fit in the line of priorities.
Some clients have extremely collaborative environments where multiple partners are brought in at a time. Others keep things in silos and control the pieces themselves. Whichever way a specific client likes to work, partners should seek to know all moving pieces and how their particular portion functions for the organization.
Ask clients about their current priorities to get a clear understanding of where you fall into their daily tasks and current projects so you can exceed their expectations.
Make it easy on them.
The best partners and vendors I had when I was in-house were the ones who made things easiest on me. How did they do this? At first, I didn’t realize it. But after working with several partners, I took notice of those who understood my priorities and went out of their way to make things clear and easy for me.
That included those partners who could lend their expertise and direction so I could just say yes or no, partners who gave me firm deadlines to ensure things were accomplished on time and partners who helped me showcase the work and goals accomplished to my boss/team.
As partners to clients, it’s our duty to make those contacts we work with look good and make their lives easier. When we understand what their world looks like, where they’re coming from and what their goals are we have a much better shot at making that happen.
You may not realize this, but transporting a miniature barnyard animal into a Midtown office space undetected is quite a feat. We thought we could keep it under wraps – until we were caught. That’s getting a little ahead of myself. I’ll start at the beginning.
At RPR we’re building a culture of being fun-loving while getting our s**t done. We get big wins and implement successful campaigns for our clients and, most importantly, we like to celebrate those wins.
Back in February we moved into our beloved new home on West End Avenue. We’re proud of our space and how it’s coming along, so naturally we wanted to share and celebrate it with everyone. The grand idea? Host an unforgettable Cinco de Mayo party in our new office.
Cinco de Mayo can be a busy holiday for many, with folks jumping from place to place to enjoy endless margaritas, chips and salsa and great music. And given that Cinco de Mayo fell on a Tuesday this year, we knew our party-goers would get plenty of other invitations. We had to set ourselves apart.
We mapped out the entire “film” – all 30 seconds of it. We’d bring in oversized margarita glasses, a piñata, party favors and trash our office to look like a scene of aftermath from the most epic Cinco de Mayo party ever. We knew that would get you all there. To top it off at the end we would pan to a donkey. That’s right. A donkey. In. Our. Office. Then we’d hit anyone who declined with the tagline: “Don’t be an ass. Come to our party.”
It was perfect. We loved it, and so we set about making this happen. But how does one get a donkey to an office in Nashville? Impeccable Googling skills. That’s how. The heads of RPR have other talents aside from running an agency. We can find anything on the Internet, even a miniature donkey in the Nashville area.
I gave Jeni – a donkey wrangler – a call and she had just the donkey for us. Brittany may have been a bit confused when someone called for me about a donkey. But we had our talent booked.
From there we lined up the shoot and, very carefully, brought the donkey to RPR. I may have only just told security we had this shoot lined up as we were bringing the donkey upstairs. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t some moments of utter panic in me as we tried to lure Eeyore through the front doorway to our office building. He froze before making it to the elevator.
He planted his heels firmly on the tile and I grabbed Jack Henry, Lauren’s five-year-old son, as quickly as possible. (Side note: Of course, Jack Henry was there. When you rent a donkey for the day your kid skips preschool and visits the office.)
I just knew Eeyore was going to kick him in the head, giving him some permanent injury (or at least a black eye), I would be fired and our wonderful idea would become a nightmare.
Thankfully for me, and all of you that attended our party, that didn’t happen. With the help of a few cupcakes and tortilla chips, Eeyore made his way up to Suite 320. And the rest is history. La la bamba.
Oh that’s right, except our landlord stopped by our office the next day inquiring about a mule in our office. He stayed outside the door as if he was afraid he would discover the animal was still there 24 hours later. We gave our Girl Scout honor and said we would never do that again. It was totally worth it. See for yourself!
RPR recently completed a poll to find out more about millennials and their purchasing habits and attitudes toward companies.
Our initial research found that more than 85 percent of millennials surveyed would prefer to purchase from a brand that supports a charitable cause.
“I definitely pay more for companies that give back. I love Toms and Honest Company!”
“[I would] pay a slight bit more for a product from a company that gives back to help the community and its customers.”
The findings from our initial poll reaffirmed what many already know – that millennials believe in and support causes. We want to dive deeper into millennial attitudes and discover the driving forces behind this. That’s why we’ve created a new survey and will be hitting the streets soon to interview millennials on what motivates them.
We’ll answer questions such as what makes them accept a position and stay engaged, how they determine what causes to support and how they determine what companies gain their loyalty.
Does this interest you? With $200 billion in the U.S. economy’s annual buying power, we suspect it does. Stay tuned to our blog to find out more. You can also join our e-mail list to get our most up-to-date findings.
*I feel that because I am (barely) a millennial, it allows me to say “madness” in a non-offensive, non-derogatory way.