Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Comeback For the Triple S Super-Hero Costume?

It's preliminary, so I'm unable to divulge details just yet.

But it appears that the Triple S super-hero costume in which I galavanted around Oak Park for the holiday season some 18 months ago may soon be making a re-appearance.

It would be for another local cause, it would be in the near future and, I am happy to note, it would entail somebody else wearing it.

I realize not everyone has yet been exposed to what I'm alluding to, so you can check out the Super Shopper Spotter campaign that Inside Edge PR coordinated between Thanksgiving and Christmas 2009: here is the Shop the Village 2009 blog that I created, as part of the local effort to spur on local shopping.

And that effort came on the heels of the inaugural Shop the Village campaign.

If nothing else, and if you're primed for a good laugh, check out some of the clips of Super Shopper Spotter in action.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Pick Up the Phone, Break Away From PR Pack

Notwithstanding Inside Edge PR's journalistic style of developing content for dissemination to the media, it's been more than five years since I regularly committed acts of journalism.

Yet I still remain on a bevy of publicists' media lists. Almost daily, I get multiple news releases that encompass theater, health and fitness, Indiana tourism, healthcare and more--oh, so much more.

This underscores a PR fundamental that is sorely lacking in the marketplace: picking up the phone and actually calling members of the media. Radical, I know.

But if any of the above-mentioned releases had been accompanied by a phone call, then they'd realize that I'm no longer a viable media target. Instead, I'm just a piece of the wall where they are flinging mud.

For those in the business of trying to get your stories told to a broader audience, that's no way to get the job done. By contrast, one surefire way to separate yourself from the competitive PR pack is to go beyond the comfort (and relative futility) of relying on mass e-mails.

After all, while one of the easiest things to do is send an e-mail, deleting that same e-mail is equally simple. And the deleter increasingly views your e-mails as white noise or spam--hardly the stuff of building a constructive relationship or well-regarded professional reputation.

Meantime, check out some related Inside Edge PR posts, such as The Real Purpose of Calling a Journalist and The Art of Contacting Reporters By Phone.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Stay Rooted in Reality: Make Sure PR & Marketing Ideas Don't Interfere Operationally

It's National Burger Day on May 28 and so Inside Edge PR is in the midst of developing a promotional effort marking that day, as well as the week sandwiching it, for client Burger Boss, a terrific and popular new restaurant in Elmwood Park, Ill.

However, it's one thing to come up with a fun and memorable marketing idea--and quite another to be able to have it dovetail with operational reality. so when I shot the draft news release to co-owner Anthony Gambino, I acknowledged, "Just trying to give you an idea of what could be, and you can let me know what can be (based on operational realities)."

As I expected, Anthony replied with a scaled-down, simpler plan. You can see the news release here at TribLocal.com.

The back-and-forth between me and Anthony reflects clear-eyed cooperation--understanding that you need to find that sweet spot where marketing/PR and effective operations can meet.

I've fallen prey to this enthusiasm for pie-in-the-sky visions that have crashed and burned within milliseconds of a client's review. It's tempting to get swept away and devote significant chunks of time to grandiose plans. But it's foolish to do so without bothering to see how those visions will affect the actual conducting of business.

So before you get in too deep with that fancy Father's Day promo or that pyrotechnically phenomenal Fourth of July, check in with the guys and gals over on the other side of the business equation.

And, hey, if your name is Burger, Berger or Boss, swing by Burger Boss on May 28th!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Testimonial Truth: Start With the End in Mind

People love to connect with other people. Not an organization, or a concept, but people.

The more you can share the faces—as well as the respect, admiration and gratitude—of those whom your organization has served, the more effective your overall communications initiatives will become.

This was among the messages I shared a few weeks ago with the West Suburban Practice Group of the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois.

Addressing the West Suburban Practice
Groupof the CLII

Addressing a group of about 15 professionals at Braxton Seafood Restaurant in Oak Brook, I emphasized the need to start the testimonial-gathering (or case study development) process with the end in mind.

Before seeking out testimonials, identify those traits that are most likely to inspire the response you are seeking from your target audience: What do the individuals and groups you have served over the years appreciate most about your organization’s impact—past, present and future?

Once you have clarity on this front, then it’s a much more simple—and focused—matter of gathering, and skillfully communicating, the prevalence of those traits via testimonials in writing, photographs and video.

This ongoing effort is among the most time-intensive of PR endeavors.
But it's eminently worthwhile.

Testimonials, when done right, carry significant influence on people to take the actions that you desire, whether it's volunteering their time, buying your product or service, or any variety of objectives. So identifying and then drawing out these stories should receive major emphasis.

Tips From the Inside Edge has shared testimonial viewpoints in the past. For example, you can check out this ditty, Go Beyond `Testimonial Providers Anonymous': Put Names & Faces With Your Rave Reviews."

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama bin Laden's Death: 3 Elements To Make It a Genuine PR Moment, Not a Backfiring Blunder

Is it wise to turn Osama bin Laden's death
into a PR moment for your company or cause?

There's room for much debate on this one, but here's some framework to guide your decision on this volatile question: can you generate a public relations communication that is fitting, measured and respectful?

Let's break down those three elements:

1. Fitting

Does the company or cause have a logical tie-in to the events leading to bin Laden's death? Do they manufacture a weapon or piece of technology that played a role in finding, then confronting and ultimately killing the most wanted man on the globe? Is there some other (less obvious) connection that you can make?

If so, then it's worth exploring the potential for a PR outreach.

If not, then it might be time to start brainstorming on other fronts.

2. Measured

If you pass the "fitting" test, then the next step is to ensure that you develop a communication that is measured. In other words, resist the temptation to lay it on thick with whatever role you may have played in some component of the mission to get bin Laden.

For example, a company that makes tool kits that go into military Humvees may have an appropriate opening to parlay the death into some kind of news release.

But the focus ought to be on praising those who carried out the objective, with a brief mention of the company's own, peripheral role in supporting our troops.

3. Respectful

Remember that this is part of a much bigger, indescribably tragic and heart-wrenching story. Thousands of people died on U.S. soil on Sept. 11, 2001, and events flowing from that dark day--including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan--have since claimed the lives of untold (and rising) numbers of others.

Acknowledging that reality in a respectful, somber way ought to be part of any PR communication in this post-bin Laden period.

There is a line between smart and timely PR and unseemly, over-the-top opportunism that can backfire. Much is in the execution, including the choice of words in a release.

Think through the possibilities carefully, select your words wisely and then launch your media outreach accordingly.

For more story-telling tips and training, visit the Inside Edge PR website resources page.