All Hail the Beauty of the Brief

creative-brief

Oh creative brief, defender of the deadline, protector of the project, and crusader of clarity-you make projects seem seamless and goals getable.

A creative brief is a working document that outlines a specific marketing problem while inspiring solutions. It keeps creative teams focused and ensures that deliverables have a consistent voice and brand image.

Let’s say you’re launching a digital ad campaign to promote a new product. You would craft a creative brief to define your objectives, the target audience, the message you want to convey to that audience, the call to action, and the overall look and feel of the campaign.

So let’s look at the specific elements of the creative brief?

Contact Information: The brief should list the project name, key stakeholders and contact information for each team member.

Background: Why do you need this piece? What’s your goal? What do you hope it will achieve? How will it support your marketing objectives?

Audience: To whom are you speaking? Get specific here. List demographics and psychographics.

Objective: What do you want this piece to achieve? What is your call to action/CTA?

Messaging: What do you want to communicate to your audience? What key words and phrases will resonate with them?

Tone: What’s the personality of the piece? Is it fun and whimsical or serious and somber? Use adjectives to describe the personality of the piece.

Must Haves: What elements does the piece need to include? Think logos, taglines, photos, URL, contact info, etc.

Timeline: What are the deadlines for the project?

Format: What format do you need it in and what are the specifications?

So what say you? What’s in your brief? I’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas and suggestions.

Peace, love and powerful press.

PR Guy

CREATIVE BRIEF

CREATIVE BRIEF 2

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Filed under advertising, Branding, How to Write a Creative Brief, Marketing

Moving Targets-A Review of Teriffic & Terrible Transit Ads

 

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I’m not huge fan of taking the subway. It’s an incubator for germs, there’s a lack of personal space, and it always seems to be breaking down when I’m running late.

Being a lifelong marketing geek, I really enjoy checking out the interior card ads and judging which ones nail it…and which ones miss the mark. It helps pass the time and makes for excellent blog fodder.

I judge the effectiveness of an ad on a few simple criteria. Did it capture my attention? Is the messaging clear and simple? Is the design bold and compelling? Do I know where to focus my eyes? And is the copy readable?

I like to think of a transit car ad as a walking billboard. Prospects are breezing by, or thinking about their 10 o’clock meeting with their boss, what to make for dinner, or how to get away from the guy sitting next to them with the unusual body odor. So simplicity rules here.

A good transit ad should include the following three elements:

  • A compelling image / photo
  • A unique, benefit laden, emotionally charged headline
  • Your name / logo / contact info

I was taking the train the other day and found some perfect examples of ads that work as well as ads that need to be improved. Forgive my photography, I was taking these on a moving train with bad lighting.

Honk

Honk

I love this ad. The photo and font immediately grab my attention. Both communicate the energy and enthusiasm of the event. And without ever having attended Honk, I want to go. The dates and URL are clearly listed and easy to find.

Boston Book Festival

Boston Book Festival

The first thing I noticed about this ad is that I don’t know where to focus my attention. Too many competing messages. And some of the copy is just too small to read.

Suffolk University

Suffolk University

This ad is at the head of the class. The copy summons my attention. It’s bold, daring, and speaks directly to commuters. The call to action is clear and concise. The colors and font compliment each other nicely.

Horizons for Homeless Children

Horizons

The photo certainly captures my attention, but there’s way too much copy. Most people won’t take the time to read the fine print. It’s way too much work.

The Freedom Trail

Freedom Trail

I love everything about this ad. Bright colors and contemporary design make this Boston staple seem new and exciting. The photo tells the story. I’m intrigued to learn more.

What say you? What are your favorite transit ads? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

Peace, love and powerful press!

PR Guy

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Filed under advertising, Branding, Honk, Marketing, Nonprofit Marketing, outdoor ads, Public Relations, transit ads

Nine Ideas to Take the Ice Bucket Challenge to the Next Level

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When Kim Kardashian took the Ice Bucket Challenge last week on Ellen, I figured it was safe to assume that the campaign had “jumped the shark.” But it’s sure been a good run. In fact, as of September 15, 2014, the campaign has raised a whopping $100 million dollars for ALS research. Not a bad haul considering that last year ALS took in $1.3 million during the same time span.

And apparently Facebook was able to rake some serious cash from the challenge as well. A recent Forbes article by Jeff Bercovic reports that “Ice Bucket Challenge videos were viewed more than 10 billion times and reached more than 440 million people.” And the more views Facebook receives, the more money they make in ad sales.

This got me thinking…How can ALS raise even more scratch in 2015 and take the Ice Bucket Challenge to the next level? Here are nine ideas that could help the program grow and prosper.

Create a Brand Identity: The Ice Bucket challenge is in serious need of a brand identity. A well-designed logo would become an iconic symbol that would visually represent the program and distinguish it in the minds of donors. The identity should be distinct yet connected to the ALS brand.

Build a Microsite: ALS should consider creating a microsite for the Ice Bucket Challenge. Wikipedia defines a microsite as “an individual web page or a small cluster of pages which are meant to function as a discrete entity within an existing website or to complement an offline activity”. The microsite’s main landing page could have its own domain name or subdomain. Microsites are easy maintain to and are a perfect solution for a campaign with a limited life cycle such as the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Secure Corporate Sponsorship: This program is ripe for multiple corporate sponsors. It would provide the right brands with abundant press, consumer affinity and significant ROI. ALS should set distinct sponsorship levels that will attract a mix of small and large corporations. They may even consider securing a title sponsor such as the “Home Depot Ice Bucket Challenge.”

Feature Bloopers: My guess is that a few ice bucket challenges have gone seriously wrong, and there is some funny footage floating around out there. Why not create a series of blooper videos? People love watching outtakes of movies and TV shows. In fact, they’re often the best part of the movie.

Get Cities and Towns Involved: ALS could launch a contest where cities and towns could compete to see who can raise the most dough and activate the largest number of participants. ALS could come up with some incentive/prize for the city or town that brings in the most cash. Winners could based on population size. Mayors could challenge rival towns to go head-to-head to see who can raise the most cash. The press love municipal rivalries so you know it would generate a ton of publicity for the participating towns as well as the challenge.

Display Window Clings on Freezer Doors: Every supermarket from the Piggly Wiggly to Wegmans sells ice. And my guess is that every supermarket chain would be happy to place a window cling on the ice stall freezer door to promote ice sales and support a good cause.

Partner with a Home Improvement Chain: Home Depot and Lowes sell buckets of all shapes and sizes. ALS should forge a partnership with one of the home improvement chains so a portion of every bucket sale goes directly to support ALS.

Create a Facebook Contest: This program is clearly a big win for Facebook. ALS should partner with Facebook to offer a prize to the Ice Bucket Challenge video that receives the most views.

Design a T-Shirt: T-shirts are walking billboards. Offer T-shirts as an incentive to donors who reach specific fundraising goals. Donors will wear the t-shirt as a badge of honor. The T-shirt would also provide great brand visibility for the corporate sponsor.

So what say you? Any ideas on how the Ice Bucket Challenge can come back bigger and better in 2015? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

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Filed under Branding, Nonprofit Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media

When to Write a Press Release and When to Switch to the Pitch

 

KeepCalm

I hate to be the bearer of bad news… but the press release is getting a little long in the tooth. The old gal is being put out to pasture, hanging up her heels, and retiring her dance card.

Let’s face it, she’s been misunderstood and misused for far too long. And to make matters worse… she’s losing credibility.

But don’t count her out of the game just yet. While she may be old school, the press release continues to serve a vital role in PR. She’s just not as relevant as she once was.

The key is to knowing when to write a release and when to switch to the pitch.

Let’s break this thing down.

The Problem with Press Releases

Bloggers, journalists, and producers receive hundreds of press releases a day. Most of them are poorly written, boring, and filled with irrelevant information. In fact, the majority are never even opened, due to sleepy subject lines and hokey headlines crammed with jargon.

Many members of the media simply see press releases as pure spam.

Think about it…media mavens want exclusives. They don’t want to be force-fed the same news that’s going out to hundreds if not thousands of recipients.

The sad truth is that businesses and nonprofits spend countless hours and resources crafting quotes and writing releases that will never be read.

When to Write a Press Release

While I may “dis” the release, there are times when it works like nobody’s business.  Here are a few examples of when to write a release:

  • To Make an Announcement: new product, new hire, new customer, new partnership, new research, new shoes (just making sure your paying attention), new numbers.
  • Reaching a Milestone: anniversary, number of customers served, etc.
  • Promoting an Event: performances, speakers, galas, rallies, and calendar listings
  • To Increase SEO: press releases are a great way for consumers to find you online. Whether you post it to your website or send it out through a wire service,  a press release infused with keywords helps you get discovered and increases your search engine ranking.

When to Switch to the Pitch

Rather than constantly bombarding the media with press releases why not spend the time creating a customized contact list? In the long run, its more effective and will help generate the type of press that moves a business forward.

Start by handpicking twenty journalists/ bloggers/influencers who cover your industry. Research their area of interest, their audience, and think about why they should care about your pitch/story idea. In other words, what’s in it for their readers/audience?

Journalist/bloggers are looking to be inspired. Give them something unique and tell them why and how your story idea will resonate with their readers/audience. In other words, think like a publisher.

Personalize your pitch as much as possible. Keep it short, simple and to the point. Bullet points, story angle, interviews, and potential resources should all be included. Make it memorable and unique.

Bottom line…..the press release still holds weight but it should be used sparingly and when appropriate. Otherwise, switch to the pitch and start engaging the media rather than enraging them with too many press releases.

So what say you? When do you think press releases work? Share your story and let me know what you think.

Peace, love and powerful press.

Sean Horrigan

 

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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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Filed under Nonprofit Marketing

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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