Brick by Brick

Image Credit: Casey Fletcher

Image Credit: Casey Fletcher

As I look back on everything that I have learned about public relations, what excites me the most is the idea of building a brand and maintaining strong brand recognition.

It is both challenging and rewarding to build something up from scratch and watch it take on a life of it’s own.

However, it is important to remember that the success and glory does not just happen over night. There is a lot of strategy, planning, constructing, and managing going on behind the scenes. Every brick in the foundation counts.

Gaining positive publicity and staying ahead of the curve takes constant and continuous effort.

We interact with all types of brands on a daily basis, consciously and unconsciously. The aim of public relations is to break through the clutter to persuade you (the public) to maintain a certain view about these brands and the companies behind them. PR professionals work hard to communicate company objectives, key messages, and official views on relevant issues. Managing the spread of information and leveraging popular topics to gain exposure takes time and resources.

It’s a good thing we have guidelines in place in order to navigate through the world of PR. Here are a few of my favourite take-away tips:

  1. Understand your audience – including interests, needs, and wants
  2. Build and manage relationships with key influencers and stakeholders
  3. Create a consistent story around the product, company, or service
  4. Focus on integration and communication between company departments
  5. Research, research, research
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Capture My Interest

Image Credit: Blendtec

Image Credit: Blendtec

When you think of the most successful public relations campaigns that you have witnessed over the years, what is the first thing that comes to mind?

For me, the most successful campaigns are attention-grabbing. There has to be an element of intrigue or surprise in order to capture my interest.

So, how do they do it? How do they capture your interest?

Let’s take a look at one of the most successful PR campaigns that continues to meet and exceed expectations. It’s the Will it Blend? video campaign, brilliantly created and executed by Blendtec. This campaign has been running since 2006 in an effort to promote the Total Blender and to differentiate BlendTec products from its competitors. In the videos, Blendtec founder and spokesperson, Tom Dickson, attempts to blend various unusual items (such as marbles, golf balls, and credit cards) in order to show off the power of the blender.

Dickson has been very happy with the results of the campaign which took off almost instantly. “We have definitely felt an impact in sales. Will it Blend has had an amazing impact to our commercial and our retail products.”1

In 2012, MSNBC named BlendTec’s “Will It Blend” video series the #1 Viral Advertising Campaign of All Time. With over 134.2 million views, BlendTec’s 120 videos have gained widespread popularity across the Internet.

Although there is no textbook way to achieve virality, there are a few key aspects that can be examined, including creativity, uniqueness, relatability, and fun. Not surprisingly, these are the same elements that act as predictors of success and are present in almost all successful PR campaigns.

BlendTec certainly mixes all of these elements together in videos such as the Will It Blend? – iPhone 5 vs Galaxy S3. In this video, Dickson, shows off his quirky side while commenting on a relatable and timely topic – our obsession with the latest smart phones and gadgets. As Dickson blends up the phones, we can clearly see that this campaign is creative, unique, and relatable, showing off transparency within the company, and leveraging a strong spokesperson to spread their message.

Next time you see a campaign that you like, or while you are building a public relations strategy, consider what makes this particular campaign unique. Will it capture my interest?

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Keeping Your Message Alive

Image Credit: Casey Fletcher

Image Credit: Casey Fletcher

After reading this article: Was Occupy Wallstreet A PR Failure? I have begun to wonder about how successful social movements are sustained and in what ways Public Relations can keep a movement going.

What happens after the initial excitement dies down? How do you keep your message alive?

These are important questions to consider for any PR campaign. The evaluation process is critical in order to learn from the challenges and move forward with your messaging; maybe even into a new direction.

At the end of the article, the author asks readers to consider, “Beyond political affiliations, what are your thoughts on the history and management of the Occupy movement? From a public image perspective, what do supporters need to do to continue pushing their message–and to make sure that message leads to real political action?”

Analyzing the Occupy movement is interesting because on its website, Occupy Wall Street (OWS) describes itself as a “leaderless resistance movement” drawn from people of all backgrounds and political persuasions. Without leadership,  it is difficult to maintain a clear and consistent message. Critics argue that the OWS  agenda was largely incoherent. The movement itself did not attempt to advance its ideas into mainstream American, nor did it attempt to push the political agenda in any direction. What it did do was spark a movement that spread across North America and challenged the public to discuss income equality and the damaging effects of wide-scale financial criminal activity.

The movement has not been sustained. With no clear message, no leadership, no real agenda, and no champion to follow, the Occupy movement has dwindled away, out of the public eye, and out of our minds.

In order for the ideologies of the movement to be maintained, the core structure must change. Leadership needs to be established from within the movement in order to gain credibility. Spokespeople need to stand up and partnerships need to be formed with other organizations that stand for the same values. It will take a lot more work to move the Occupy movement into a new direction, towards political action. The final step would be to elect a certifiable political candidate.

The strength of any movement depends on the people and the message behind it.

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Perception, Opinion, Persuasion

Credit: Casey Fletcher

Photo Credit: Casey Fletcher

It’s easy to go about your day-to-day life without consciously thinking about the meaning behind your actions or the direct origins of your perceptions and beliefs. Every now and then it’s beneficial to stop and ask yourself, “what am I doing?” and “why am I doing this?”

What or who are the biggest influencers in your life?

It can be overwhelming to consider all of these questions. Yet, it is empowering to know and understand the forces at work behind perception, opinion, and persuasion. I can trace back the influencers in my own life to key celebrities, politicians, family members, peers, and academic leaders. I value their thoughts and opinions on certain topics and subsequently derive my own opinions based on the knowledge that I have absorbed.

Certain scenarios will challenge your opinions and perceptions.

For example, my opinion of professional golfer, Tiger Woods, drastically changed after I learned of his infidelity and watched him publicly admit to cheating on his now ex-wife Elin Nordegren. I was shocked and disappointed to see him involved in a sex scandal and to see him defamed. I could no longer consider him an upstanding family man and I questioned his authenticity as a public figure. This scenario makes me realize how easily I can be persuaded to change my perceptions.

Our perceptions impact our behaviours, actions, and decisions.

In consumer society, our brand perceptions greatly influence our decisions to buy certain products. For me, buying products from socially conscious organizations makes me feel like I am making a difference. My recent decision to buy Dove body wash is based on my perception that Dove is a good company, doing good things. This perception has been forming over many years. After watching numerous commercials and reading about Dove’s initiatives to support young girls through self-esteem workshops, I have come to the conclusion that Dove’s public image aligns with my own values. Because of my positive perception of Dove, I am persuaded to act and to do my own part to empower girls and women.

Powerful messages in film and media often make me think differently about critical issues. One example that comes to mind is the messaging behind the movie Blood Diamond. This movie made me think differently about our Western obsession with jewels and diamond engagement rings. I now have a better understanding of how my consumption patterns impact world issues. I have a responsibility as a global citizen to think critically about what I buy and which social norms I choose to follow or fight against.

Overall, I think it is important to take the time to think about the impact of our actions and to make informed decisions. Consider who your influencers are and how your perceptions are formed. You can make a difference.

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Comments Continued

Comment #4

Today, I commented on a blog from spinsucks.com called Online Habits: Is Less Really More? I liked reading this post because it provided me with a new perspective regarding how our online presence changes over time.

Here is my comment:

Screen Shot 2013-07-19 at 2.20.47 PM

Comment #3

While reading through marketingmag.ca I came across an article discussing Walmart’s decision to drop celebrity chef, Paula Deen, following her public admission of racist comments. Walmart seemed unprepared to deal with Deen fans’ outrage on the Walmart Facebook page. Read more at: Column: Walmart’s Recipe For Social Media Disaster.

Here are my thoughts:

Screen Shot 2013-07-13 at 4.13.58 PM

Comment #2

Pinterest is one of my favourite social networking sites. When I came across this article in The Huffington Post called “Nordstrom Pinterest ‘Top Pinned Items’ Come To Life In Stores”, I was immediately intrigued.

Here is my response:

Screen Shot 2013-07-07 at 12.19.31 PM

Comment #1

An interesting read from PR Daily entitled, “Edelman CEO: PR must be ‘the corporate conscience’”

Here is my response:

PR Daily Comment

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Live and Learn

Yesterday, I had a unique opportunity to present a communications plan to the marketing directors from the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. I am so proud of my team and all of the hard work that we put into this incredible project. We literally poured blood, sweat, and tears into our campaign. (well maybe not blood but definitely sweat and tears). I am so thankful and appreciative to have had this opportunity and all of the learning outcomes that I can now analyze.

The end product of our campaign did not come easily. Due to a variety of factors, this was one of the most challenging and emotionally draining projects I have ever worked on. From the start, our group dynamics were very complex. Out of the five of us, we each come from vastly different cultural backgrounds, work habits, and family life. We also have a variety of different learning styles and we each approach group situations from different angles.

Working on this project in particular has helped me to realize how important it is to understand group dynamics and manage different levels of engagement in order to meet the objectives of the team. Over the course of six weeks, we faced a number of challenges including miscommunication, misunderstandings, outbursts, screaming matches, apologies, and missed opportunities. In order to move beyond the stress, anxiety, and frustration, we had to find common ground and listen to each-other’s needs. I found that cooperation and compromise are the two most important elements for managing team dynamics. I have now become more aware of how my own actions can been misconstrued and misinterpreted.

In a broader sense, the Public Relations process involves a high level of commitment, determination, and dedication.  It is valuable to ask the right questions in order to steer your research in the right direction. This goes hand-in-hand with delving into the research process with full force. PR also involves thinking beyond the proposed parameters of a project. This may mean calling a past campaign manager to ask what worked well, or planning ahead for the future. Digging deeper into the issue-at-hand will always prove to be beneficial in PR.

After reflecting on these key elements (cooperation and compromise, asking the right questions, and thinking beyond the parameters), I can now use this experience as a learning piece that will guide my future project goals. But first, time for a rest!

 

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Tricks of the Trade: Throw Some Fireworks on the Cover!

Karine Perrin Fireworks

I had the pleasure of speaking with Karine Perrin, Account Manager at Direct Focus Marketing Communications, for a brief phone interview this afternoon. Karine and I met through our mutual friend, Carley English earlier this year and have since kept in touch with a common interest in marketing and communications.

Our focus this afternoon was to talk about a project that Karine has been particularly proud to work on. Without revealing too many company secrets, I will do my best to explain the tactics involved in carrying out a Canada Day campaign for a major Canadian bank.

The main task-at-hand for Karine is to support her client in maintaining consistent branding, messaging, and positioning (both internal and external) throughout the campaign. In order to do so, Karine is involved in distributing promotion materials and resources in boxed “kits” to all 1,000 bank branches across Canada. The kits are targeted at employees and branch managers who will set up and decorate their individual branches and interact with the public regarding the campaign topic.

The kits include various promotional giveaway items, branch decor items, resources and instructions for employees and branch managers, as well as other communication pieces and materials to engage the public. The campaign team is also working on sending out communication pieces, developing table-top signs, hosting a marketing network portal, and submitting magazine articles. The overall goal is to set up every branch in the same manner with the exact same materials across Canada.

Karine’s biggest takeaway from this project has been learning how to effectively juggle client expectations and project management demands. Although it sounds like a lot of hard work, there are certainly some rewarding moments and a lot of creative input.

“We present a variety of concepts to the client – one more standard design and one more out-of-the-box. That’s when I suggest throwing fireworks on the cover!” Karine certainly knows how to brighten up a campaign with her energy, creativity, and determination. Karine’s major piece of advice is to always strive to keep your client happy.

I can’t wait to see all of Karine’s hard work on display this July 1st!

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