Ice Ice Baby-How ALS Can Capitalize on the Ice Bucket Craze

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The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is hot.

In just a few short weeks, the campaign has taken the social media world by storm. The idea is simple. Take a bucket of ice water, dump it over your head, and share the video via social media. Participants then challenge others to do the same.

Just this past weekend, Kennedy clan leader and matriarch Ethel Kennedy doused herself in cold water at her Hyannis Port home. Then nominated President Obama to take the challenge during his Vineyard vacay. Other notable participants include Martha Stewart (I bet her cold water is infused with a hint of lemon), Matt Lauer, and former golfing great Greg Norman.

As a marketing guy, I’m fascinated by the viral nature of this contagious campaign. So, I went to the ALS website to learn more. Much to my surprise, there was no mention of the campaign on the ALS homepage.

This got me thinking… how can this amazing organization continue to build momentum and raise some serious scratch for their great cause? I had a few ideas and I bet you do too. So here goes …

Prominently Feature the Campaign on the Homepage: (NOTE-This post was published on 8/11. ALS began featuring the Ice Bucket Challenge on it’s homepage on 8/12)

This campaign is just about everywhere except the ALS homepage. This is truly a missed opportunity. People don’t like jumping through hoops to learn how to participate or donate. The homepage should feature an Ice Bucket Challenge banner that takes viewers to a dedicated Ice Bucket Challenge webpage.

Create a Dedicated Webpage:

A dedicated Ice Bucket Challenge webpage would serve as home base for those looking to get involved and learn more. Some ideas on what the page may include:
A series of step-by-step instructional videos:

o How to shoot your Ice Bucket Challenge video

o How to share your video via social media

o How to raise funds for ALS with your video. Provide participants with ideas and inspiration on how to raise funds for ALS with their video.

For example, encourage ice bucket participants to forward their video to friends and family via text and email and ask each recipient to give $5 to ALS (make it micro-donation–if they want to give more they’ll have the option to do so on the website).

A Prominent Donate Now Button:

Not everyone is going to want to pour a bucket of cold water over their head. Make it easy for those who just want to give with a big “donate now” button.

Gallery of Participant Videos:

People love attention. Make it easy for participants to upload their Ice Bucket video to the Ice Bucket Challenge page. Chances are, once they’re video is uploaded and their story is featured, they’ll direct their friends and family to the page. The Red Cross does a great job of this with the “Tell Your Story” campaign. The webpage features unscripted stories created and filmed by real people who’ve been helped by the Red Cross.

Create a Weekly Video Montage:

Each week the folks at ALS could create a montage of the best Ice Bucket Challenge videos. And each week, the PR team could submit the video montage, along with stories of the participants, to the media. I bet this would get a lot of play. Include a few celebs in the video and your golden.

A Thank You From a Big Wig at ALS:

People love to be involved in something big, and they love to be recognized for their efforts. A video from ALS staff member thanking participants and donors will help build trust and encourage people to continue their involvement.

A Description of How the Donations will be Used:

People want to know how their donations will be specifically used to support the organization’s efforts. And this is the perfect time to share that story. This is also a great opportunity to educate the public on ALS and the research being conducted to combat the disease.

In closing, this is just the tip of the iceberg (and yes, I realize my ideas aren’t earth shattering). But this campaign has better legs than Tina Turner-and that lady has some great gams. What say you? I’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions. How can ALS capitalize on this campaign and continue to build momentum? Let’s brainstorm.

Until next time, peace, love and powerful press.

Sean

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The One Rule Every Marketing Pro Needs to Know

Clinic Division We're #1

It’s no wonder we’re all suffering from information overload.

Emails, instant messages, likes, tweets and texts clog our mailboxes, mind and memory.

So what’s a marketer with a message to do? How do we break through the clutter, capture consumer attention and build business for our clients and customers?

Stick to the rule of one.

Engage one audience, deliver one message and craft one call to action.

One Audience

Marketers often cast too wide a net when choosing their target market. If you want your message to resonate–narrowcast (spreading an advertising message to a select demographic). Choose one audience, (the more focused the better), know their pain points and speak their language. Don’t just speak to teachers; speak to 5th grade history teachers from the Midwest.

One Message

In his seminal book, The New Positioning, Jack Trout notes that minds hate complexity. So what’s the best way to enter minds that hate complexity? Oversimplify the message. No need to tell your entire story. As Mr. Trout says, “focus on one powerful attribute and drive it into the minds of your audience.”

One Call to Action

Whether you’re crafting an email marketing campaign, designing a print ad, or producing a video, you want your target audience to make one decision. Otherwise, they become confused and we all know how minds feel about complexity and confusion. Stick with one call to action (one simple command). And make sure its easy to find and easy to comprehend.

The bottom line, resist the temptation to overcomplicate your messaging. Trust in the simplicity and power of one and your marketing campaigns will prove much more successful.

One more thing…if you have any questions shoot me an email at sean@prguyonline.com

Cheers,

Sean
PR Guy

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Six Steps to Add Some Gaga to Your Marketing Mix

Lady Gaga is a force of nature.  One billion plus views on YouTube, 6.4 million fans on Facebook, and 3.8 million followers on Twitter. The most Googled image of 2009, Time Magazine’s 2010 artist of the year, and Fast Company’s most creative business person of 2010. She’s a marketing maven, a social media strategist, and a worldwide phenomenon.

Love her or leave her, the girl’s got it going on! So let your freak flag fly! Check out these six steps to add a little Gaga to your marketing mix.

Embrace social media: Create a content rich website that shows your personality and engages your audience.

Gaga is a social climber of epic proportions. Her home turf (www.ladygaga.com) is a robust site, chock full of chat rooms, photos, exclusive videos, merchandise, tour information, and downloadable music.

Limit your social network & keep it consistent: Choose two or three social networking sites that you’ll update on a regular basis and stick with them.

Fans can get their daily dose of Lady G on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. As for consistency, Gaga tweets about once a day, sometimes every few hours.

Be authentic: Think of social networking as a cocktail party. Make friends and play nice. People do business with people they like.

Gaga keeps it real by engaging fans as though they’re her best buds. During a NYC performance, Gaga tweeted “The team of doctors and nurses who saved my dad’s life came to the monsterball, one of the best nights of my life performing for u. Rejoice NY.”

Establish a tribe: People join tribes, ancient and contemporary, to feel connected and part of something bigger than themselves. Harley Davidson and Apple have built their empires by cultivating tribes.

Gaga’s tribe has been described as cult-like in their devotion. She refers to her tribe, affectionately, as “ little monsters” and has adopted her own internal sign language known as the ‘monster claw.’

Focus your marketing on a particular audience:  If you’re everything to everyone, then you’re nothing to anyone. Create a narrow focus and infiltrate.

Gaga refers to her target audience as “An army of outsiders – All of the weird kids, the artistic kids, all the bad ones. And I love that, because that’s who I was. It’s our own little world.”

Tap into the power of PR: A wise man once said, you pay for advertising but you pray for PR. PR gives a business or person the credibility of a third party endorsement.

Face it, Gaga knows how to make heads turn. She wears outrageous clothes, makes controversial comments, and buys pizza for her little monsters while they wait in line to pay homage to ‘the Lady’. While her counterparts make news for bad behavior, Gaga makes press for partnering with Polaroid and Virgin Mobile.

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Ten Quotes on the Power of PR

“The right story told at the right time can bring valuable attention to your business, even during a downturn.”-Business Week

“PR — even though it is underutilized — is extremely effective when properly leveraged.”-Harvard Business School

“If I only had $2 left, I’d spend $1 on PR.”-Bill Gates

“72% of senior level marketers said PR is most valuable in supporting product marketing and product launches.”-Advertising Age

“You pay for advertising but you pray for PR.”-Unknown

“PR builds brands and generates awareness-fast.”-Inc.

“A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.”-Richard Branson

“Historically, PR, marketing and advertising budgets are the first to be cut; however, that could be one of the first mistakes a business makes in an economic crisis.”-CBS Market Watch

“In a downturn, an aggressive PR and communications strategy is key.”-Silicon Alley Insider

“There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary.”-Brendan Behan

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Seven Steps to Creating an Effective PR Plan

I was never big on homework in junior high. Much to Sister Mary Ellen’s dismay, I avoided it like the plague. Hey, I had better things to do! Like eating Cheez Doodles, watching reruns of Sanford and Son and wreaking havoc on the neighborhood with my buddies. Homework was for the birds.

But that was then, this is now. Today, I’m all about homework and espousing the benefits of a good PR plan.

A solid PR plan is fundamental to the success of any PR or marketing campaign. After all, you have to do some proper planning before you dive in and start swimming with the sharks. And if your inner eighth grader tells you to resist and retreat, know that a well-written PR plan will give you the focus you need to reach your target audience and surpass your goals.

A good PR plans includes a situation overview, definition of target audiences, goals, objectives, goals, tactics, budget and timeline.

Situation Overview: Summarize your organization’s current communication situation in one or two paragraphs. What’s happening that make’s publicity a priority?

Are you looking to expand sales? Launching a new product line? Is your organization looking to secure VC funding? Expand your donor base?

Whatever the case may be, jot down what’s going on and why you need publicity.

Target Audiences: Define your stakeholders. Who are your customers? Clients? Donors? Prioritize the list by starting with the most important segment first.

Define what your stakeholders read, watch, listen to, attend and visit online. This will help you create a targeted media list.

Goals: Set and define some specific goals. What do you want to accomplish through PR?

Sample goals may include:

  • To generate awareness of our brand and direct consumers to retail distributors
  • To raise awareness of our cause, increase donations and secure corporate funding
  • Increase bookings with tourists from Philly and New Jersey

Objectives:

Now it’s time to set measurable objectives and define the following:

  • The anticipated accomplishments
  • Who’ll manage the tasks
  • The time frame

Your objective may read something like this:

By December 1, Bill will secure two newspaper mentions and one radio interview about launching a business in an economic down turn.

Tactics: Tactics are the things you’ll do to get publicity. This is your to-do list.

  • Write one press release per month
  • Pitch individual writers
  • Monitor editorial calendars
  • Conduct a survey
  • Organize a flash mob
  • Knock over a liquor store (I don’t recommend this one. Could generate negative publicity)

Budget: How much money can you allocate to PR? This will help you define your tactics and determine whether you’ll be able to hire an outside resource, subscribe to a database or use a press release distribution service.

Timeline: A timeline will help you manage the tasks and tactics included in your plan. If you plan to send out one release a month its best to plan when you’ll write and the release and when you’ll send it out.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Peace, love and powerful press.

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Three Steps to Better Branding

The other morning I woke up bright and early to attend a networking event modeled on the concept of speed dating.

After ample amounts of caffeine I was ready for the repartee. My first date was with an enthusiastic entrepreneur named Esther. After chatting about her business for a few minutes, Esther pulled out a copy of her new brochure like a proud pageant mom.

It didn’t take long to see that Esther’s brochure broke all the rules. There was too much text, the layout was busy, and the messaging was muddled.

How can you avoid Esther’s marketing mishap? Simplify your writing, keep your design clutter free and stay on message.

Simplify Your Writing

William Zinsser author of On Writing Well say’s “Clutter is the disease of American writing. We are a society strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills and meaningless jargon.”

Read a little Hemingway and you’ll immediately grasp the power of simplicity.

Considered one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, Ernest Hemingway was famous for writing in short, declarative sentences.  In fact, when challenged to write a story in six words Hemingway wrote: “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Zinsser’s advises writers to look for clutter and prune their writing ruthlessly.

Keep Your Design Clutter Free

Bang and Olufsen’s chief designer, David Lewis once said, “Truly elegant design incorporates top-notch functionality into a simple, uncluttered form.” Amen brother.

Good design is clean, simple and clutter free. It’s quiet, confident and commanding without trying too hard.

Need a visual? Check out the Eames Molded Plywood Chair. Recently hailed as the best design of the 20th century by Time Magazine, this modern masterpiece is timeless, sleek and simple.

Stay on Message

All of your marketing materials should articulate your brand’s positioning. A brand positioning statement defines what makes your business unique, why consumers would want to do business with you, and how you wish to be perceived. Your brand positioning statement should be unique, narrow, clear, and consistent.

Would love to hear from you on common marketing mishaps and ideas for better branding.

Peace, love and powerful press.

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The Social Cycle

I hate doing laundry. Don’t get me wrong. I dig clean clothes.  I just hate schlepping my duffel bag of dirty duds down the stairs of my third floor walk-up.  It’s a real drag. And that’s exactly what you’ll often see me doing, dragging my bag down the street.

While spending my Saturday at The Suds and Comfort is not my idea of a good time, it got me thinking.  A social media plan is a lot like a wash cycle. If you jump in without proper planning it’s going leave you feeling all wet.

Here are four steps to ensure social success:

Listen:  Before engaging anyone through social media you need to be a voyeur. Take some time to observe and understand the culture, vernacular, and behavior of the community you’re hoping to join. You don’t want to bust into a community, bombarding your new neighbors with your sales pitch. They’ll see you as a spammer and tune you out. Once they tune you out, it will take time to rebuild credibility.

Participate: Create content that stimulates conversation in your community. Think of yourself as publisher. Publishers create content with their readers in mind. Be a passionate thought leader that educates, engages and entertains. Know your audience and make media that resonates with them.

Implement Metrics:  A word of warning…social media is not just a numbers game. You can have a large number of Facebook followers but are they interested in what you’re saying? Are they returning to your page?  But that’s another story for another day.

Four quick ways to measure your social impact:

  • Traffic: Hits to site, followers, friends and fans.
  • Engagement:  Click-thru’s, repeat visits, blog comments, retweets, bookmarks, and subscribers to feeds.
  • Influence: Increased brand awareness, buzz, mentions, links shared, leads, and long tail traffic.
  • Sales Activity:  Map out a time line of social media activity and overlay it with a financial performance chart.

Change and Adapt:  Assess your social media strategy. Constantly evaluate what’s working and where you can implement change. Don’t be afraid to experiment and take chances. Learn from your mistakes, evolve and move forward.

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