Knowing the Differences Between Marketing, Public Relations, Advertising and Branding

Marketing and Advertising DifferencesBusiness owners often hear different promotional buzzwords — marketing, advertising, public relations and branding — passed around when it comes to selling a service or product. Each of these facets has its own unique identity and will produce different results.

Depending on what is being sold, the business may only need one of these strategies to target the right audience, but more often than not, it’s an integrated approach that leads to the best results.

The action of promoting or selling products or services. This involves market research. Marketing involves anything from choosing the right location of the business, to knowing how much it costs to produce each product/service, deciding where to advertise and deciding who to advertise to. This also includes all marketing material, or “owned media,” such as brochures, websites and pamphlets. Think of someone named Brandon telling you, “I’m a wonderful fisherman.”

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Should Marketers Engage in Reddit?

Most people have heard of Reddit. The platform has become a hot topic during major news events such as the Boston Marathon bombings. In the hours and days that followed, Reddit users acted as citizen journalists to report breaking news on the spot and working to identify the suspects. But when compared to other social media sites, it seems that most people don’t really understand how the Reddit community works or how their company could engage with it.

What is Reddit?

Original fan art by M/C/C

Original fan art by M/C/C

To start with the basics, Reddit is a completely user-driven social platform. By its own definition, “users provide all of the content and decide, through voting, what’s good and what’s junk. Links that receive community approval bubble up towards #1, so the front page is constantly in motion and (hopefully) filled with fresh, interesting links.”

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Haters Gonna Hate: How Brands Should React

In today’s world where blogging and social media provide multiple platforms for activists and customers to voice their opinions, businesses (big and small) are continually feeling pressure and hearing overwhelming amounts of criticism not for anything the company has necessarily “done” but for who they are or what they believe. It makes me think about these three important questions:

  1. Should brands correct their haters or let the criticism fizzle out?
  2. How can brands not get consumed by the negativity and survive the heat?
  3. What are some real-world responses from brands under attack?

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Trans-Media Storytelling: Make Sure Your Audience Hears You

Remember in school when teachers said there were three types of learning styles? You probably took a test or quiz to figure out if you were primarily a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner. The visual learners do best with the use of visual objects such as graphs, charts or pictures and can learn by just watching lectures. Auditory learners retain information through hearing and speaking. Then there are the kinesthetic learners who need a hands-on approach to learn new material.

The same learning styles can be applied to how people view ads or consume the news. This is where trans-media storytelling comes into play. Don’t worry – it sounds complicated, but it’s actually really easy to understand! It means that we, as marketers, need to be using multiple media platforms to tell a story.Transmedia Storytelling photo

Why do we have to use multiple platforms? Think about it this way – you have your target demographic, let’s say females ages 25-34, but how are you going to reach them? Some might be stay-at-home moms who like to watch or listen to the morning news as they get their kids ready for school. Others may be working professionals who might consume the news on their way to work, whether that’s listening to the radio in the car or reading, either via the paper or their phone, while on the subway. Therefore, if you were just trying to get your story covered on morning television, you could be missing an entire section of your targeted audience. You must meet your audience where they hang out to tell your story, and more than likely that means different platforms. Now, which platforms are best for each type of learner?

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How the Importance of the Flack-Hack Relationship Has Shifted – Or Not?

Through the years, the relationship between PR pros and the media has had some significant changes. Gone are the days of the “three martini lunch” to sell a story idea. Today, journalists and PR people are working off a newly established set of ethics. Both have a common goal of sharing interesting content – which can sometimes lead to tension. Generally, there is a push and pull between the two entities that ideally results in the placement of well-developed content. Although there have been many ups and downs over time, there’s one thing that continues to hold true – the relationship between PR professionals and journalists is a crucial component to success and remains important.

The Numbers

With ongoing staff cuts and complete eliminations of newspapers around the country, there are by far fewer journalists employed by traditional media companies when compared to five, 10 and even 15 years ago. With staff cuts, the ratio of PR professionals to journalists has significantly changed.  To put things into perspective, fewer journalists mean that there are fewer opportunities to share story ideas. The competition to get articles placed continues to be fierce, growing as more newspapers fold.

On the other hand, reduced staffs can be beneficial for PR people. Journalists are crunched for time and are more likely to use PR-suggested copy or story ideas to fill content for the 24-hour news cycle. Even though this is true, PR pros must still establish a good relationship with the media. When a better relationship is built, the chances of an email ending up in the Trash or Spam box go down significantly.

The Lines of Communication

Traditionally, the best way to contact someone, including reporters, used to be picking up the phone and making a call. Today, most interactions between PR people and the media occur through email. Even though PR pros can share pitches via Twitter they should think twice. According to the Vocus State of the Media Report 2014, “the majority of journalists still don’t care to be pitched by social media and an overwhelming 90.7 percent of respondents chose email as their preferred method of contact.”MCC-Blog-PreferredMethodGraph

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Paid Versus Earned Media: No Competition, Marketers Need Both

For many years I have heard the phrase “free media coverage.” While I’m all about getting coverage for clients, nothing in business is free. There are two ways to get your name in front of your audience – you earn it or you buy it.

Smart marketers do both.

Earned media is any form of coverage or content about your company generated by a third party through their own volition. That includes broadcast news reports or features, blog posts, magazine articles, Web news stories and bylined online or print articles, to name a few.

Earned Media - Bylined Article

Everyone wants earned media but few really understand what it takes to get it. Earned media involves pitching the right people, creating and presenting your story in many different and compelling ways. Even still, coverage is not guaranteed on any given day. If it is so hard, why do it? Because it is so tough to get, it carries a lot of weight with prospective customers and gives your company, product or service credibility. And often, credibility is a fast route to a sale.

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How Will Your Brand be Viewed 10 Years from Now? Controlling your Brand Perception in the Age of Social Media

Social media has profoundly changed the way people communicate with one another and is changing how brands engage with their audiences. What were once thought of as outlets for tech trendsetters are now mainstream marketing vehicles used by brands to connect directly with their customers.

Photo by Jason Howie, CC-BY-2.0

According to a recent Nielsen report, consumers are spending more time than ever using social media, and that consumption plays an important role as marketers build their brands and connect with their audiences more directly. It plays a significant role in how consumers find out about and share information about brands and products. In fact, 60 percent of consumers researching products through multiple online sources learned about a specific brand or retailer through social networking sites. Overall, consumer-generated reviews and product ratings are the most preferred sources of product information among social media users.

Research shows that social media is increasingly a platform consumers use to express their loyalty to their favorite brands and products, and many seek to reap benefits from brands for helping promote their products. Among those who share their brand experiences through social media, at least 41 percent share their experiences publically on social channels to receive discounts. Social Media also plays a key role in protecting brands: 58 percent of social media users say they write product reviews to protect others from bad experiences, and nearly 1 in 4 say they share their negative experiences to “punish companies.” Many customers also use social media to engage with brands on a customer service level, with 42 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds acknowledging that they expect customer support within 12 hours of a complaint.On the flip side, another trend is the interest of consumers to act as ambassadors and advocates for brands through social media. A majority of active social networkers (53%) follow brands. These brands are increasingly recruiting their fans and followers to spread word-of-mouth recommendations about their products and services, and among consumers who write product reviews online, a majority say they share their experiences to “give recognition for a job well done” by the company. Continue reading

Live, Laugh, Love…Even in Marketing

“Once you get people laughing, they’re listening and you can tell them almost anything.” — Herbert Gardner, American play writer

Photo by Lynda Sanchez, CC-BY-2.0

Consumers are begging to be entertained. Too often, companies forget to connect consumers with their brands through the simple use of entertainment — especially humor. Many fear that using humor in advertising or public relations will stray the customer too far away from the product. But in fact, humor can serve to obtain the audience’s attention, appeal to their emotions and humanize the brand, increasing the likelihood of consumers remembering and sharing the brand’s content or purchasing its product or services. Here are a few great examples:

Who can forget one of the best M&M and Super Bowl commercials of 2012? Yes, that’s right— the “Sexy and I Know It” advertisement. The company utilized the awkward, yet funny situation of being “naked” to promote their new, brown-shelled chocolate M&M. The company also utilized an existing character and his naïve personality to further promote the brand and connect with the audience. The company created a purpose for the humor and established it throughout the entire piece making it both memorable and shareable for all audience members.

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Skee-ball® Your Way into Social Media Success

In Skee-ball®, it’s not always about how fast you throw the ball, but the strategic direction you steer it in to earn the highest score at the top.

Beginning in 2010, we partnered with Chuck E. Cheese’s to establish a presence on social media platforms and build relationships with brand fans, moms, dads and families. Our hard work and dedication increased awareness of brand values amongst parents and helped change their misperceptions. As a result, Chuck E. Cheese’s has endeared itself to a new generation of moms as well as become recognized by industry peers and competitors as a leading example in the social media space.

Many people wonder… “How did you do it?” or “Can you quantify the results?” Well, here it is…down to the very last throw! The following infographic depicts our successful efforts in establishing and developing social media and blogger relationships for Chuck E. Cheese’s with their brand fans.

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Thought Leadership 101: How to Become a Thought Leader in Your Industry

It seems like there are certain influential individuals that we encounter throughout life who tend to stand out. For me, looking back it was like they all had something in common. They weren’t just smart people, they were wise. They not only knew their industry inside and out, but they also had insight and new ideas that left an impression on those they encountered. And in retrospect, they could easily be named thought leaders.

According to Wikipedia, a thought leader is “a person or an entity that is recognized by peers for having progressive and innovative ideas.” Thought leadership isn’t just another name for content marketing. Thought leadership is strategic and brings big ideas and new insights to the table.

So why should you care about thought leadership? Although the term thought leader has gained a certain buzz around it, there are merits to the title that are worth noting that typically result in business success for the individuals described this way. The challenge of becoming a thought leader can seem like a daunting task, but there are some tactical moves you can make to become a thought leader in your industry.

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