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We had a saying for those folk who think content is blinked into existence: "Did you just rub a bottle, and I appeared out of a puff of pink smoke?"
Well done, Gini. I'm sending this to some folks.
2 weeks ago on Thought Leaders, Not Organizations, Are Enticing to Publications
Thank you for your post! These folks talk a great game, don't they? Print and television production crews would call me and generously offer to write a glowing article about our company for the cost of an ad that no media person in their right mind would include in an ad buy or to "cover production costs" to the tune of $25,000. It left me wondering, "Are there really pros gullible enough to buy into this scenario?" I have come to the conclusion, and I may be wrong, that it's not the pros that are falling for this game but small business owners who are trying to market their businesses without the benefit of a professional to guide them. What's sadder is the formerly legitimate publications that have adopted this model after the bottom dropped out to increase ad revenues. I also suspect that the people making the calls are interns or fresh out of college professionals who are getting the wrong idea about the profession. If your experience is anything like mine, now that they have your name and number, they'll call, and call, and call. You'll repeat your policy until you are purple, and yet, they'll persist. I cherish relationship building with reporters.
3 weeks ago on The Danger of Pay-to-Play Earned Media
This should come with a warning label: Do not read after an ab workout! What a refreshing reminder that audiences forgive silly errors for which we accept responsibility. I loved it! Thanks for sharing.
3 weeks ago on Crisis Communications: What Happens When You Swear at Your Customers
Christopher, this is terrific! I'm definitely keeping this one.
I do have a question for you. How do you determine which source drove the leads?
Explain: Many campaigns are integrated, i.e., include advertising in various forms. So, leads will come from a variety of sources. How do you suggest sequestering the PR leads from the advertising leads or do you?
(If I've missed the explanation above, please forgive me.)
1 month, 2 weeks ago on Find the ROI of PR By Measuring the Value of Audience
I would love to know more about how you go about calculating this with confidence: "I don’t remember the exact verbiage, but it was along the lines of “for $X investment, you should expect $X return.”"I've always had in my mind that invest 10% of what you'd like to gross.
Give it time to build. Then, when you achieve that level, ease up on the proverbial gas pedal, and back down to 7% to maintain. I could be wrong. Enlighten me, PLEASE!!!
2 months, 3 weeks ago on The True ROI of Digital Marketing
A public relations pro who isn't a coffee junkie — fascinating.
3 months, 3 weeks ago on Gin and Topics: Self-Deprecating Workout and Twins Sing “Let it Go”
@belllindsay I knew I liked you!
4 months, 1 week ago on Five Reasons Comedy Belongs in Advertising
@ChuckGuest That's a BEAUTY!!!
4 months, 1 week ago on How to Apply for the Amtrak Residency for Writers
@ebishop Here's another great real life, can't make this up story: You know how agencies will present 2-3 options for an ad: The one you WANT them to go with, the outside chance, and the NOT A CHANCE IN **** options? We had a field client BUY the "NACI*" option. Had to walk it back when Corporate and our National team saw it. It was funny, but a little crude for that moment in time. Humor is subjective. When your team nails it, relish it. I was lucky to work with some really funny, good people. And you know you're in deep when you know which creative team member wrote the line.
Also ran into the faux rage folks, too. Life's too short.
@JRHalloran That ***** camel ad! Went to a county fair and every time a new group of people entered the camel exhibit, you would hear, "Hey, guess what day it is?"
There is nothing sadder than when the agency convinces its client their ad is funny, and it FLOPS; fails to produce guffaws, chuckles, chortles or nary a snicker; dies; is bereft of humor... (I'll stop before I completely recite the Dead Parrot Sketch.) Except... maybe.... when the client follows up with a tirade that defends the funniness of the ad and insults everyone in the world who just doesn't get it. Humor is great, but difficult to do. That's why there are specialty firms that only do funny ads.
Take heart, my friends! Here's a little story to demonstrate when "cold pricklies" get their comeuppance!
We had a lovely client. Two wonderful, sweet, altruistic fellows with a nifty educational product. They brought on two brothers as partners, I'll call them the Cold Pricklies. Well, the two nice guys were thrown out of their company by the Cold Prickleies, one of whom just gave us all pause. We did a lot of work for the company, but it felt like we were running in circles. We took them to a lot of lunches with prospective celebrity spokespeople, did a lot of thinking, but we just weren't going anywhere fast.
During a post-good guy meeting, the one of the Cold Pricklies took my head off in a meeting. I was a lowly AE, but I had lots of experience working with kids. My boss, the VP, was sitting next to me. We were gobsmacked. His brother was gobsmacked. We left the meeting, and I felt my eyes well up, but I couldn't let my boss see me cry. (That's unfair to males. I can't do it in front of them.)
We called our president, explained what happened. Good guy President called the client, explained they weren't allowed to abuse his team, and promptly fired the client.
We had an unwritten rule: If we don't enjoy working with you, we're likely not the right agency for you.
Fast forward about 5 years...the Colder of the Cold Pricklies was hocking another product in a different category. After great initial success, the FDA investigated the company. He and his new business partner were indicted for making false claims and the product was pulled from the market.
It's true. Cold Pricklies get theirs in the end. Chin up!
4 months, 3 weeks ago on Five Tips to Deal with Angry Clients
Amen!!!! Never could reconcile a dish called "Jell-o Salad."
These are brilliant. I'd add adequate sleep to the list. Sleep is not a luxury; it's a necessity. Writing in a haze usually increases errors and decreases the ability to write clearly.
5 months ago on Improve Your Writing with Six Writerly Hobbies
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention branding juggernaut DISNEY. One of my dear pals from college recently celebrated his 25... Maybe 30th anniversary with the company. Talk about engraining! The Disney Cast helped him pull off a Flashmob proposal to his girlfriend, and their wedding included a Mardi Gras themed parade through California Adeventure after the ceremony lead by a jazz band!!! They ALL volunteered to help him pull it off.
I've seen Disney from both sides of the veil. (I've been honored to sing in Candlelight ... gosh...10 times and about 30 concerts.) They instill the "magic" as you arrive in guests AND cast members. Backstage is as pristine as On Stage. They intersperse cast members with volunteers to maintain the Disney Way. For example: One year the narrator fell ill. The choir nervously chatted back and forth. The leader held up his hands and announced, "Not to worry. We're Disney. We have a plan B." Well, plan B ended up being Marie Osmond, who graciously accepted the role, interacted with the choir, etc. I don't even know if she was in the area at the time. They may have flown her in from NV. She crushed it!
Disney has even started to offer management, customer service, and marketing classes to companies. I noticed this when my university had the Disney formula for dealing with unhappy guests posted on the wall of the press box.
I could go on, but there are not nearly enough electrons. Though, my friend and I both agree very marketing communications person should walk through Disney from a professional standpoint and study how they work their "magic."
6 months ago on How’s Your Internal Customer Service?
I'm all over it, Laura! I need to find the episode, though because I caught the end. What I did get was it wasn't meant to be an attempt to evangelize, rather a reminder of the corporate mission. (In-N-Out is a family business, currently run by the founder's granddaughter.) But you just sparked a thought for a blog post. Thanks!!!!
Laura: I have a suggestion for your shopping conundrum. There's a very cool phone app called something pithy like "Grocery List." Just tap to add and delete items from your list. Plus, you'll likely always have it with you. (Of course, it's only as good as the input.) I used it with success. BONUS: You can create different lists for different stores, e.g. Grocery, Club Store, Specialty Store, pet store.
Thanks for this! The point about communicating with employees, not just managers, resonated with me. It's critical. Having a daily point of communication with locations saved a client's bacon. We were able to quickly communicate that an investigative reporter was going to visit random stores and reinforce the correct and critical messages all sales people needed to clearly communicate. We emerged unscathed. Our competition...not so much.
And, yes, I have another example for you. Earlier this week, I was watching "California's Gold," a gem of a show hosted by the late Huell Howser, and it focused on In--N- Out Burger (Yes, they addressed why John 3:16 is on the bottom of the beverage cup, too, but that's another post.) In-N-Out communicates with its entire employee base via its own video feed called BTV. The company built its own video studio on its campus in Baldwin Park, and that's how they communicate. All team members get the message via video. How cool is that! (Couple this with a recent article about reporters looking for video in corporate online press rooms, but not finding it, and my public relations spidey senses are tingling! Imagine what you could do with your very own video team!)
Also, each store in the In-N-Out system is visited every other day with fresh supplies. So, the stores are interacting with corporate in person at least every other day.
Thanks again, Laura.
Speaking of "Sorry" I read an interesting story about the show How I Met Your Mother producers apologizing for offending people of Chinese descent in a recent episode. I won't recount the whole story, but what struck me was an exchange in the comments. One commenter asked, "Will someone please tell me what was offensive?" It was an honest request. The commenter wanted to know so the situation could be avoided in the future. Not one of the offended people could answer the question or would offer a answer.
I could be skeptical. I could see the rash of "I'm sorry" incidents as being insincere attempts at self promotion. But, let's assume they're genuine.
What does one to do when one can't learn from one's mistake?
What are your thoughts, learned colleagues and friends?
6 months, 2 weeks ago on Communications Perspectives from Classic Board Games
You always get my wheels spinning in a good way!
I'm working with a non-profit that JUST added a blog to its site. (It only took 3 years of cajoling...persuading.) Some of these tips are very relevant for them as they dive into the pool.
6 months, 3 weeks ago on Brand Journalism: Embrace the Trend for Your Organization
I would LOVE to know more about the conversation between Mike Cole and Fathead's marketing team. Did Cole suggest the promotion and then Fathead ran with it? It's a great problem to have. I'm with those of you who go blank when staring at Reddit's screen. However, after reading the comments, now I'm curious to learn more about the demographic make up of Reddit users v Pinners.
6 months, 3 weeks ago on The Fathead PR Crisis Transformed by Reddit
@belllindsay It's the line "there's a good chance we'll ship you the right one" that slayed me!
Oh, it will likely happen again, but all will know that you'll handle it deftly, graciously, and honestly, Gini. Chin up!
7 months ago on When a Leader Learns of Unethical Behavior
My sentiments exactly, Deb! Thank you for posting!!!!
Joshua: I ask questions to gain clarity. I'm sorry you read it that way. I understand that Socrates was a jerky question asker, too.
7 months, 1 week ago on Crisis Communications: How Chick-fil-A Weathered the Storm
But we ARE talking about it. It's part of their unique culture. I'd be sad to see them do away with it. They're not franchised to my knowledge so they don't have that audience to cater to. They're privately owned & operated, so it's their business. If I choose to eat there, I do so knowing that they're devout. So what? I don't see it as being a big deal. BUT, I will tell you this. It was brought to our attention at church. So they played to an audience they really wanted to attract to their business. How is that any different than say CARLS JR. using bikini models to hock their 6 dollar burgers? (Incidentally, Mr. Karcher, while he was still living, was opposed to this tactic, but was shouted down by his board. It wouldn't have happened when he own it outright.) CARL's wants to attract Heavy Fast Food Users (Males 18-24). Maybe INO wants to attract Christians. Let em. All their money spends the same way.
INO also has an extensive secret menu that is never printed, but often talked about among its fans. But I don't hear grousing over not knowing about being able to order Animal Style Fries.
We're not all going to turn on a dime re: our beliefs.
Flawed? Let's not get defensive. My question was did the printing on the cup affect the flavor of the soda? You brought that up.
You continued to patronize the restaurant
ZERO drama (until now).
It didn't matter.
Did having John3:16 printed on the bottom inside rim of the soda cup affect the taste of the soda? My guess is no. Did you get a great product? Outstanding service? It's like saying "I'm not going to stay at a Marriott with its consistent great service, clean beds, and sweet rewards program because they have a Gideon Bible AND a Book of Mormon in the bedside table." I'm over being offended for being offended's sake for people who are capable for sticking up for themselves. I'd rather just look at someone with an outlying view point and say, "huh. That's interesting." File it and move on. Aren't we all trying to "coexist" as the bumper sticker commands? I have enough improving to do on myself. Others can workout their own issues.
But, that's just my point of view. You're free to avoid In-N-Out. The other folks in line will appreciate a shorter line to get their 4x4 Animal Style, weeklies, and Neapolitan shake. ;)
And they have a college saving plan for their high school aged employees. In-N-Out was /is quite the company. (Though the family is less and less involved as members have passed away.)
How about James Taggart or Mr. Thompson from Atlas Shrugged?
And as far as "Voice of James Earl Jones"... I think the greater villains are the creative team that dreamed up the Sprint ads of Jones and McDowell interpreting text messages from teenage girls. (The humanity!)
7 months, 2 weeks ago on Fourteen Greatest Villains in Literature
Hear, hear, Rob. The dreaded "Wrong Word" error.
Typically, these mistakes are made by folks who learned by hearing rather than reading. One that still makes me smile is "touch basis" when the writer intended the baseball analogy "touch bases."
7 months, 2 weeks ago on Grammar Police: Twelve Mistakes Nearly Everyone Makes
I am reminded of a saying my college PR prof was find of saying. "Your best friend is legal."
Certainly, we want legal to be aware of what we're communicating and not be surprised by it. We want to make certain our counterparts can do their job if they are called upon to do so.
When I was lucky enough to have in house counsel, I took advantage of that resource. I even learned a few things, and ultimately, made her job easier.
7 months, 2 weeks ago on When a Leader Learns of Unethical Behavior
May I suggest that even if a word is in the dictionary, it may not be appropriate, proper, or recognized by a particular style guide, e.g. "Ain't?"
Alas, language evolves but not always for the better. "Selfie" wasn't in the dictionary last year. And outside of certain groups, who knew the word "twerk" last Christmas?
@JoeSloanSays @matthixson My mentor says, "Nothing takes down a bad product like good marketing." I took this to heart. When I sit down with folks asking for marketing support, I caution them. I ask, "Are you ready to market your business? Because, once we start, we can't undo it. Any challenges you're having now, will be more widely known." Sadly, I had a client say, "I'm ready to go! Let's start!" So I told her about how long it would take given her budget and audience, her impressive record (long listed for the Olympic Games), etc. What wasn't clear during our discovery phase was she was a functional alcoholic. Not only didn't she fix the challenges I identified for her, but she didn't seek help for a drinking problem. About 6 months in, it became clear we needed to address this. It snowballed, and she torpedoed herself with unprofessional behavior. We had to dial back -- way back. She's no longer current. It's sad.
We marketing communicators really do have a lot of power. We need to wield it wisely.
7 months, 2 weeks ago on The PR Firm Debate: Should Startups Hire One or Not?
In addition to its primary purpose, there are a number of lessons in this post.
1 - Leading isn't always rosy.
2 - How to issue an apology and do it while preserving "face" for those involved.
Have some wine & chocolate today. You've earned them.
7 months, 3 weeks ago on When a Leader Learns of Unethical Behavior
7 months, 3 weeks ago on How to Write Non-Salesy Sales Copy
Good stuff, particularly the bit about benefits. I always tell folks I'm working with "Features Tell; Benefits Sell." Think about buying a computer. Do you buy the larger capacity processor because it's larger capacity? Heck no, unless you're Timothy McGee from NCIS! You buy it because you don't have to sit around waiting for it to serve up what you want to see.
@ginidietrich @ElissaFreeman I would suggest that the type of writing you do for a press release will be very different stylistically speaking than the writing you do for your blog. The press release will follow AP style, etc. The blog will be more conversational, an insider's look, if you will.
7 months, 3 weeks ago on No One Cares About Your News Release
(OOPS. Didn't edit in time. )As far as the PRESS RELEASE... love it or hate it, I always have one in my back pocket when pitching. Invariably, I will have a reporter or two ask it to be sent to them so they can review it later. It's also a good idea to have your message points down. Heck, craft them into a pitch letter, a pitch tweet, a press release, a blog post, etc. You have them. You can send them. The sentiment will be the same, but the "packaging" will vary by type. It will help you stay on message and keep everyone else on the same page of the proverbial songbook.
@ginidietrich @carriewriter Here's how I approached it. Maybe this will help. The PR Pro in me wanted an online press room so that reporters and 600+ franchisees could find basic info, do background on the company, read some previously posted press releases, pull an image with a few caption options, etc. I wanted to save them a phone call and make it super simple for them to get what they needed and in a timely fashion. The IT team wanted a blog. Oh, how they wanted a blog! So one of the geniuses came up with this idea"Suz... you can have your online press room and it will operate like a blog, BUT we still want a blog, so you'll get your press room, and we also need you to write a blog."So, I ran two blogs: One that operated like a blog and another that operated like an online press room. Both operated on Wordpress. Now, could the online press room have operated more cleanly? In my mind, yes. But, I was lucky to have a relationships with great, local business reporters who took a peek under the hood and let me know what worked for them and what didn't. We used that information to make the press room more usable. What's working for you?
I can think of another reason to have an agency in your corner: Good public relations council prevents people from making mistakes they can't undo. They keep you from proverbially crying wolf, looking silly, reducing your credibility, and ultimately being ignored by the folks you need to impress.
7 months, 3 weeks ago on The PR Firm Debate: Should Startups Hire One or Not?
Well done! I, too, noticed the bubbling up of negativity, like the river of slime in Ghostbusters II. Then, November 1 hit, and boom. It's as if everyone became aware Santa was watching, and they had to change their tune lest they wake to packages of uncompressed coal on Christmas morning. Everyone became thankful...really thankful. (I relate to 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 in your list.)
7 months, 4 weeks ago on Truth, Lies, and Facebook Memes
@Howie Goldfarb @JayDolan If you ever really want to see people convulse, ask them for the evidence that supports their claims.
7 months, 4 weeks ago on PR Spam: The Haggler Takes the PR Industry to Task
@MonicaMillerRodgers I suggest that a good tool is following Twitter feeds. I've pitched over twitter...successfully. (I was shocked!)
8 months ago on PR Spam: The Haggler Takes the PR Industry to Task
@jasonkonopinski If you get a pitch for a really nice dressage saddle, please keep me in mind. But the Coach purses are a great runner up in my book. :)
@ginidietrich @TaraGeissinger That comment about "large numbers" kills me. I pitched a client who said he hired a firm a few years ago to get his name everywhere. They did. In some pretty suspect places, e.g. those internet Ask A Question/Get an Answer from someone who THINKS they're an expert. The question is usually phrased: "Is XYZ legitimate?" "Is THIS PERSON a fraud?" Ironically, he saw this as success.
@belllindsay I suggest, they weren't trained in the ways of the pitching pros. I can't blame folks if they were trained incorrectly or not at all.
@ginidietrich you are truly a world-class imp! Love it!
I'm going to float a couple of thoughts to the "SuperFriends of Public Relations" (that'd be all of us commenting away on Spin Sucks.) 1 - Teach the Fledglings/Practice What We PreachHow many of us were taught to pitch correctly when we were fledglings? How many of us were handed a copy of Bacon's -- sometimes outdated -- told to compile a list of (TOPIC) reporters, send to that list, and then follow up? So, without questioning the wisdom of our elders, or our client, we executed. And it kinda sorta worked. So we did it again. And again. We were congratulated on our effort. How much more effective would it have been if someone walked us through the most basic of public relations practices... the pitch? How much more effective if we mentors introduced our fledglings to the reporters? What if we truly "Watched One. Did One. Taught One." like they do in medical circles? So, if we want the madness to stop here, let's stop it by teaching the proper way. 2 - Help us out, ReportersOn the other side of the fence, reporters/bloggers could do themselves and the public relations pros who love them a huge favor by completing their profiles on the databases. Having pulled my fair share of lists as starting points for franchisees, those profiles are woefully sparse. Please use the notes section to inform us of your beat so you can save both of us a phone call. Let us know what you want to see, and what you really don't want to see. If your beat changes, update your profile. I've followed reporters across the Southland and even followed them as they took promotions. The scope of their work changed, and they were able to suggest another contact. In 2008, my lists of contacts went sideways as many of my contacts were downsized and those remaining took on a larger scope of assignments -- interior design and automotive, for instance. :) 3 - I'm always looking to improve and fine tune my pitching technique. What works for you? Cheers!
Help me out here, please.
I typically create a special email for a client's social media endeavors, so if I'm helping my pal at XYZ Co., I will create an email, XYZ-Social(at)gmail.com, share it and the password with my pal. I call it the "If I'm launched from a horse and unable to remember stuff." Contingency.. A back door, if you will. I still use legitimate names and addresses, but I might include a tag In the name.
I just want to make certain I'm operating above board.
8 months ago on PR Firm Accused of Wikipedia Sockpuppetry