Archive for March, 2006

Email Marketing Best Practices Exist, Not Used

According to a recent study completed by Multichannel Merchant and Direct magazines, 61 percent of business-to-business marketers have formal permission practices for collecting email addresses, while 93 percent of consumer marketers say they have formal practices in place, eMarketer reports (via MediaBuyerPlanner). Sixty percent of the consumer marketers surveyed reported using a single opt-in method of gathering email addresses, while 7 percent used a double opt-in method. Of the business marketers surveyed, 26 percent used single opt-in methods, and just three percent used the double opt-in method.

I found this interesting tidbit of information in the MarketingVOX newsletter. What is the point of having best practices if we do not use them? That’s like buying a house but not living in it!

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Email Analysis: Content is still king and segmentation is its queen!

MarketingProfs.com published its finding of its November 2005 email marketing survey. Below are two excerpts from the article authored by Stephanie Miller. It should come as no surprise that relevant content and segmentation are the two most important factors, when growing your email list.

“A strong value proposition, prominently displayed, will drive higher subscription rates. But interesting, relevant content will keep subscribers active and engaged. Retention starts at email one. Make list growth a priority. Always send a welcome message, and consider an “engagement series” at [the] start and three months [later] to be sure your email remains relevant.”

“Remember that subscribers may not be “in market” at the same time [of the emailing]. Marketers can now use pull strategies, made possible by the emergence of better targeting software, to trigger email campaigns designed to move prospects (and customers) to the next stage of the sales or product lifecycle. Develop messaging around the customer life stage using email series and triggered messages. Quality, not quantity, will determine the success of your email file.”

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Get a Job!

What is my advice to the soon-to-be public relations graduate? Get a job! Do not begin your graduate studies until you have spent at least a year working at a fulltime communications position.

I have known many PR graduates who chose to pursue their master’s degree immediately after they completed their bachelor’s degree. Personally, I believe such a move is a major mistake. By immediately following your bachelor’s degree with a master’s degree, you rob yourself of the most educating experience of all – a fulltime job.

Working in a fulltime job before you begin your master’s degree benefits you in many ways. Primarily, you gain that most sought-after requirement for future career endeavors – experience. You may think that internships will provide you with experience, but they do not. At least not true experience. Trust me, I held three internships as an undergraduate. Usually, the role that I played at my internships was that of the grunt. I wrote press releases, copy for brochures and handled phone calls. Only occasionally did I get to chime in with my recommendations. Internships only allow you to apply the elementary principles of PR that you learn in college.

Also, an internship usually does not last long enough for you to truly understand a company. As we all should know, you must accurately understand a company to be able to effectively communicate with its constituencies. My longest internship lasted only four months. Now, after working in the same company for two years, I can honestly say it takes much longer than four months to fully comprehend a company and its primary publics.

On the other hand, my fulltime job gives me the opportunity to accurately identify and understand my company’s publics. It also lets me view the “big picture.” I get to see every aspect of our communication campaigns, from the brainstorming session to inception and ultimately to completion and beyond. I witness how my company’s different communication pieces fit together to form a complete, unified message. There are many more reasons to seek out a fulltime job instead of immediately applying to graduate school. Some of them being:

  • A sizeable paycheck
  • Full immersion into the PR profession
  • Possible tuition assistance from your employer
  • A true understanding of corporate culture

Having a fulltime job for at least one year will also make you a better student whenever you do decide to pursue a graduate degree. This is perhaps one of the greatest benefits to getting a job as opposed to immediately enrolling in a graduate program. I can now immediately apply what I learn in my graduate classes to my job. I get to see if the ideas and theories that we discuss in class will actually work in a real world setting. This is not only a great benefit for me but for my company as well. I also better understand the subjects we address in class. Because of my work experience, I ask engaging questions and am able contribute more than other students in the class. Believe me, real world experience shows! You can definitely discern who in the class has had work experience and who has not.

Yes, getting a job after acquiring your undergraduate degree is the best route to take. However, it can be extremely difficult to find a job. It took me a year and six months to find mine. But the wait was well worth it and the real world education I have received is priceless!

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Book Review: The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR

Renowned marketing strategist Al Ries and his daughter Laura believe in the power of public relations. In their book entitled The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR, they effectively argue that public relations techniques should be the tools of choice when establishing a brand but fall short in their advice that advertising should only be used as brand maintenance.

Businesses have traditionally viewed advertising as the tool of choice when creating and establishing their brands. The advertising budgets of most companies are evidence of this fact. Total advertising expenditures for 2004 exceeded 140 billion dollars. Conversely, a company’s public relations efforts have often been viewed as a support function to advertising. This trend continues today throughout the corporate world. Even within the halls of higher education, students are taught that public relations is a subset of advertising. Al and Laura Ries disagree.

The authors begin their book by explaining that the golden era of advertising is over. During this golden era, the years following World War II, advertising volume increased. Later, with the advent of television, the amount of advertising exploded. The authors claim that it is because of the influx in advertising volume that its effectiveness declined.

Another reason advertising lacks effectiveness, the duo argue, is that the advertising industry has lost its focus. They claim that advertising’s purpose has shifted from generating sales to generating creative ads. The authors assert that advertising agencies are more concerned with winning awards than anything else. They mention that the average advertising agency spends more money on award entries than on independent consumer research.

The main point of The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR is that public relations methodologies are extremely effective at building brands and advertising is incapable of building a brand. To illustrate this point, the authors refer to the many dotcom failures of the late nineteen nineties. In particular, the authors single out Pets.com.

Pets.com sold pet supplies to pet owners. The owners of Pets.com decided to let advertising build its brand by hiring an advertising agency. The agency created the Sock Puppet, which was revered among the advertising community and its critics. The Sock Puppet ads won many awards but it did not generate sales. Eventually, Pets.com went bankrupt.

Why is advertising not effective? Ries and Ries propose that advertising has lost its credibility. The authors suggest that advertising is perceived to be one-sided, biased and company-oriented. Both father and daughter correctly point out that consumers are looking for trusted, unbiased, consumer-oriented communications. Only public relations can fill this need, not advertising.

The main goal of a public relations campaign is to get a company and its product mentioned and recommended by third parties. Third parties include newscasts, newspapers and magazines, which tend to be consumer-oriented. Since the media is not affiliated with the company, people are more likely to accept the opinions and ideals of the public relations campaign. A public relations campaign also uses another trusted third party source – word of mouth. Research shows that consumers are more likely to buy products and services that are recommended by people they know.

Does advertising have a purpose when it comes to building brands? Yes, both Ries and Ries suggest that advertising’s role is that of a support function and continuation of public relations. In other words, advertising is not brand building, it is brand maintenance. As the authors put it, “A brand is born with the capability of creating ‘news.’ This is the essence of a new brand. But what happens when a brand grows up? It runs out of publicity potential.” It is during this time when companies should implement advertising.

The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR effectively presents its argument that only public relations can truly build a brand. The authors draw from their professional experience to illustrate past public relations strategies that have established brands and how advertising has traditionally failed at brand establishment. However, there are certain cases in the book that are untested and unproven. These cases end up sounding as ‘If it were up to me…’ scenarios. Also, some of the suggestions by the authors are entirely unrealistic. One of their suggestions to bring more tourism to Guatemala is for the country to change its name to Guatemaya to represent its Mayan heritage. Regardless of such outlandish commentary, The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR will motivate public relations professionals and incense advertising executives.

The Bottom Line:
Reading
The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR will definitely inspire public relations specialists. But do not be fooled. Advertising does have its place in establishing a brand. The authors ignored the many success stories where advertising has effectively built successful brands.

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Moving Forward…

Erin Caldwell is hard at work yet again. It makes me wonder if she ever stops working. She, along with a few others, have created a website called Forward.

The site’s purpose is to provide young public relations professionals and students with knowledge that can help further their careers. From the look of things, it seems that Erin and company are off to a good start. I can’t wait to see what the site will be like 3 to 6 months from now. I would imagine that there would be a lot more that the site can offer by then.

Go check out the site now!

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The Face of a Corporation

Who is the face of your corporation? Is it your CEO or is it your communications director? The answer: Both of them and every single employee of your company.

When it comes down to it, every employee – from the janitor to the chief executive officer – acts as the public face for your organization. Every employee represents your company regardless of whether they are on or off “the clock.” It is this very fact that makes a company’s employees their most important constituency. Some companies seem to be oblivious to this concept. Other, smarter companies are embracing it. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is one of the smart companies.

An article in Advertising Age describes how Michael Pucci, VP of external advocacy for GSK, recognizes this fact. Foresight like this will keep GSK profitable for years to come.

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The Art of Schmoozing by Guy Kawasaki

A special thanks to Flackette for bringing this article to my attention.

Did you ever want to know how to effectively schmooze an individual? If so, read this article. It contains very good advice!

If this subject interests you, then you will definitely want to read How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

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Who am I ?

My name is Michael Morton. I believe in bringing energy and professionalism into the office, that knowledge is power, that leadership trumps management, that customers are more influential than advertisements, that content is king, and that two heads are better than one. I currently lead the marketing efforts of the Strategic Alliances department of my company. Let’s talk marketing!

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