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What To Do When The Competition Flops

Your competitor had a slip,

It was nothing too harmful and no one was hurt but it is something that could be social media gold.

What would you do?

Send the tweet via your brand’s social media account or keep it to an internal Slack conversation?

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What Should You Do

Any good digital marketer knows they need to be monitoring their competitors. Whether it’s through social or the press you want to be able to keep tabs on what your competition is and is not doing and nothing makes you feel (a little bit) better than when you see something and can say with relief I am glad that wasn’t me. However, after giving it more thought and seeing reactions roll in you start to wonder if you should leave the one liners and memes to the internet, press and public opinion or if maybe this is something worth getting into?

We have seen this a few times within the last year. Whether it was taking sides after a Mooch’s short tenure at the Whitehouse, when United had their months of unfortunate events or when Wendy’s decided to Tweet a reply to McDonald’s about their frozen beef announcement. 

McDonalds Vs Wendys Tweet
via Wendy’s Twitter feed at Twitter.com

What made these brands comfortable to press the send button?

Did the reward out weigh the risk?

What did they have to consider before making a move?

A lot of these decisions have to be made within a few minutes, as the moment could easily pass and the joke missed making for your own PR disaster. So what should you consider before you bring this up for approval?

Newsjacking

Are you prepared to take over the conversation?

You see a negative headline roll across your notifications about your competitor and you know your brand needs to respond in some way. Is this a chance moment that you truly think is worth hijacking with your brands own comment. If the answer is Yes! then you have to think about how you want to do this. No matter what, you have to use this moment to somehow bring light to your brand’s values and that can be done in one of two ways.

  1. You can go for the kill and point out how much better you are than your competitor.
  2. You can emphasize your differences by highlighting a policy change or making a public donation to an organization that might have been impacted by your competitor.

Either way, you can emphasize your differences. And whatever path you choose may depend on the voice you have on social media. Would people expect your brand to come up with zinger? And if not would it be a good surprise? Or would taking the high road and addressing issues by doing something good like volunteering, donating or updating policy be more impactful and meaningful? You have to really consider the issue at large and your audience. How will they react? And will they help amplify your response- in a positive way?

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Things To Fear

If you decide to do it, to go all in and become a part of the conversation then be prepared for the consequences!

1. You may alienate consumers who aren’t loyal

Or maybe even the people who are! You don’t know if everyone is going to get the joke and not everyone has to but your audience should! Everything you do for your brand as a marketer is to help your brand and audience connect easier and once they are connected then to build on that loyalty. I would hate to see that all lost over a 140 character Tweet! And even worse if it’s to get back at your competition. Before you do anything just remember your audience and try to understand how they might react.

2. You may come off as mean

It’s kind of strange that we can give brand personalities or personas, but social media has made that easier to do. Every brand who is active on social, especially Twitter and Instagram has started to build an image. One that people become used to, just like someone’s personality, you kind of know what to expect when you visit their page. So, is getting involved in the competitions crisis going to be expected or not? And if it’s not expected, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing at all! You just have to make sure you won’t come off as mean by doing so!

3. Be prepared for a comeback

So you press send on your zinger and you wait for all the re-tweets and replies to come. Maybe for other users or if you’re lucky a news outlet like Buzzfeed to pick up on what you have done and reward you with a little free press but all of a sudden you see your competitor has replied to your tweet,  meaning that zinger wasn’t one and done, you are now really getting involved in something. Were you prepared for this? Do you know how long you want to be involved? Is it worth the fight? This is a situation you need to prepare for and maybe even have guidelines in place so you don’t get too carried away.

Wrap It Up

PR and marketing are no longer only about your own brand! Whether you’re omitting or trolling your competition you have to know what’s going on and be prepared to respond if the timing is right! We hope no one has a new cycle like United but you never know when someone in your industry could have a bad run leaving your team trying to decide if they should join the conversation or not…

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Should You Care About Word Of Mouth Marketing

If you think about all the marketing channels could you identify one that is most valuable?

One that is has a powerful way to influence business results?

One that is most likely to drive sales for your company?

For many of us, maybe everyone, this is word of mouth marketing (WOMM).

Are you surprised? 

You shouldn’t be! According to Neilson, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. So why is WOMM so important?

So why is WOMM so important?

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1. Compliments Social

As marketers, we spend a lot of time on social media. Creating content, scheduling it, posting, creating events and Pages, and targeting audiences for ads. We do this because we know this is where our audience is spending their time, and we want to be where they are. But with the ever changing algorithms for social platforms, these social sites are making it harder and harder for brands to show up organically on their audiences’ Feeds and it doesn’t seem like marketers have any other choice but to spend more money!

But what if we took a pause on creating our social identities and took the time to connect on social?

If you take a look at social app trends, whether it’s Snapchat, Messenger or even dating apps, social is becoming more one-to-one. Influencing through narrowcasting platforms may be the way of the future for marketing, and with it becoming harder to be seen (and heard) by the masses this might be a trend worth focusing on. 

Instead of worrying about how many followers and how much engagement your brand has on social start to look at the followers who are talking about you organically and who are regularly engaging with you. These are the people who are going to take part in WOMM by talking about your brand and product on their own. Whether it’s by mentioning you in a Tweet, sharing a picture or even liking all of your brand’s content. These individuals are worth noticing because they have the capability to influence their network- a network you may not have access to. WOMM doesn’t mean giving up digital marketing efforts, it means blending the two! Start looking for the people who are already participating in WOMM for your brand and reward them for doing it even it means commenting back, using one of their images or surprising them with a gift. A little bit goes a long way for both of you!

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2. Credibility

I believe, more than ever that trust is fragile, and if brands want to prosper in this state, they are going to have to change the tools they use and the messages they put out through marketing. Instead of viewing ROI as the most important marketing metric brands are going to need to value their credibility, more importantly, understand how credible their consumers think they are.

If your audience doesn’t trust your brand, it won’t matter what or how you market to them. Once your trust is lost no marketing technique can get you out of that hole, so it’s a quality brand need to treasure, brag about and protect a little bit more. 

No matter what form of an ad a brand runs, it’s only going to say something good about their product. They aren’t going to mention the ifs, ands or buts when it comes to using it. However, your friends and family are going to give their honest opinion- the good, the bad and the ugly. So it’s no surprise that we trust our friends and family more than we trust an ad! But before you let this scare you away from WOMM- you don’t want a potential customer to know everything! We also know it’s because that audience knows they have gotten an honest review from a trusted source that they are more likely to trust their recommendations and believe in those results.

As marketers, you need to engage those passionate brand advocates to amplify your message and help build that trust. When you do that successfully, you are going to become a more transparent and honest brand. When you master WOMM you will have something more powerful than a positive ROI, you will have a credible reputation.

3. Targeting

Finding your audience is one of your toughest tasks as a marketer. And once you figure out who your audience is, targeting them doesn’t get that much easier when there are billions of people watching TV, logging into Facebook and running searches on Google. You may know who your potential audience is but how are you making sure they are the ones hearing your message? 

This is why you are wasting a big chunk of your marketing dollars- you are reaching too many of the wrong people! But this is also where WOMM can help you become more focused. Think about the last conversation you had with a friend. Most likely it revolved around shared interests, things that were relevant to both of you. If neither of you plays golf, you aren’t going to talk about the best golf clubs, courses, or tournaments to watch. Which can totally happen when marketing in just about every which way, we see a lot of ads that have nothing to do with our interests. However, if you both just had a baby, then you are going to talk about this great product and where you can buy it. People only tell you about things that somewhat relate to your life. This is why WOMM is so important! People who are already using and loving your product are going to tell other like minded people to buy it and use it too! This is the best-targeted ad you can ask for! It puts them a lot further down the sales funnel than if they had seen an AD or read a piece of content on your website.

Wrap It Up

Are you ready to sit back and hope conversations just happen organically about your brand?

Well, that’s not exactly how WOMM works! Next week we are going to explore three areas marketers need to focus on in order to run successful WOM campaigns. If you can master these three things, then you will have the capability to become the most talked about and maybe even the most beloved product in your industry!

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What Your PR Team Can Learn From Sales

After digging into the sales funnel to identify marketings KPIs that are worth measuring last week we deiced to take this another step forward and think about if sales pros and PR pros could have something in common too.

When you take a high-level look at the sales funnel,

  • Awareness: something seems wrong
  • Consideration: what are my options to fix it
  • Decision: X will fix my problem

This actually doesn’t look that different from what the PR team does,

  • Awareness: identify opportunities
  • Consideration: build up value
  • Decision: secure placement

It’s really not all that different at all. The PR pitch is very much a sales pitch as both are in the business of using a story to build relationships and solve problems. The sales team might use a story to pitch product or services while the PR team is using their story to pitch to influencers and publications to work with.

So after thinking about PR this way, what are some qualities that make up a successful sales team that you PR pros could leverage for their next media pitch?

Advice From A Sales Team

1. Relationships

Anyone and everyone will tell you that in sales it’s all about relationships. Tapping into everything that could provide some type of network and the same should be done by PR professionals. Whether that’s attending conferences, workshops, or even meeting a local journalist for lunch to try to build up your network is a must.

Once you have made these introductions, it’s then going to take some work to maintain those relationships. You don’t only want to come to these people when you need them- that can make the ask that much harder! But if you work on the relationship, staying in touch over time, figuring out ways to help them, you never know when knowing and having John Smith’s number and influence will come in good use. 

2. Audience

Who are you speaking to and why?

Social media has made it so much easier to do your RESEARCH. Whether you use Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, there is something you can learn from taking the time getting to know the person who you’re speaking to.

  • What are their interests?
  • Who is their audience?
  • Have they written content?
  • Or do you have a mutual friend you can tap into to give you more in sight?

The more research you do about this person, the easier it will be to craft a pitch that is effective and relatable to the person you’re speaking to.

3. Call

I know, I hate calling people too, I always feel like such an inconvenience. While a text or email may feel more relaxed and less intrusive many journalist and influencers don’t have time to respond to them. Especially when you are on a deadline or just need a little bit of information (or have a few questions-I hate one question emails that go back and forth). In these cases, it might be best to pick up the phone. Think about how many emails you pass over or put into the trash right away? Chances are the person you have a pitch for does that too and you don’t want your email to get missed.

4. Wait

This could be the hardest part. Very rarely will you get the answer you want right away. You have to be patient and maybe even follow up. If someone turns you down make sure you ask why or what was missing from your pitch so you know what to do better next time you reach out to her. Treat every NO you hear as a learning experience and it won’t feel like a huge fail but more like on the job training.

Wrap It Up

Your pitch is your product.

Your story is your sell.

The media is your prospects.

Sales is hard and so is PR. But the more you put yourself out there and take the time to tell your story to influencers and journalists the better you will get at it and the more Yeses you will hear. You will become persistent and confident and maybe even persuasive. You know how to tell your story, now just use the four tips above to get it heard by the right person!

How To Break Marketing’s Rules

Not only is marketing constantly changing but so are the rules.

You can’t do this, but you have to do that. 

And then, every now and again we see a brand breaking those rules!

Whether it’s throwing shade at a competitor on Twitter or taking a stand when it comes to politics- it seems like rules were meant to be broken these days.

So what if you wanted to try something new, throw your guidelines and best practices out the window for a campaign or a client- how do you decide what risks are worth taking?

Which Rules To Break?

You might have lived by the motto ask for forgiveness instead of permission, but my guess is a paycheck wasn’t on the line when you first started using that thought process, let alone a brand’s reputation. When it comes to marketing, there is so much content out there about everything you have to do so chances are your team might be doing, or not doing, some things that just don’t make sense anymore!

Does anything come to mind…

Maybe it’s how many times and when you can post on social?

Maybe it’s staying away from polarizing news-worthy topics?

Or not talking about your completion?

Or only focusing on one audience?

I can think of at least five big brands you have broken those four rules listed above in the last month, so I could totally understand your frustration if you are still living in those parameters. However, it’s going to take more than a feeling to convince your boss otherwise.

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1.What’s Your Why?

When it comes to rule breaking, you have to think of your why. 

  • Are you doing it because it aligns with your companies values?
  • Are you doing it because your competition is?
  • Are you doing it for individual gain?

You have to think of the why. Because when you do it, when you break this rule, someone, higher up is going to ask you why and the last thing you want to do is rattle off personal reasons. If you can explain how this aligns with the companies mission and your intent was well received, then there probably aren’t too many consequences that could come from this. 

2. Know Your Companies Why

Any rule I can think of was put in place because someone did something to cause it. So even though you may think rule X is silly and you don’t see the reason, there is a reason it exists. 

Within your company or even department, there is probably a process you have to run through for decision making. This process was put in place to make things run better, not to add road blocks and to discourage you. If you are planning on going rogue, you have to put yourself in your companies’ shoes and think,

why do they do X this way?

  • Are there trickle down effects?
  • Would this impact one of your companies goals?
  • Who would I have to influence in order not to get approval and not “break” X rule?

These are just some gut-checking questions to ask yourself. And could really put things into perspective and maybe stop you from making a career-altering decision that leads you down the wrong path.

3. How Long Has It Been In Place?

We have seen a lot of newer companies changing corporate culture, and that means a lot of the “older guys” have to get comfortable with change too in order to compete. Which means some of the rules you follow need to be updated and it could take you asking about it or doing something about it to see that change.

Before you go on a bad-teenager-rule-breaking-streak start asking questions. Challenge the rules you are questioning out loud to superiors. But don’t do so in an accusing way, chances are they weren’t around when those rules were put into place anyway. Instead, ask in a way that makes it seem like you really do want to understand. Once they state their case, then explain to them why you think these routines or processes no longer make sense. Give plenty of examples of how it might be blocking something you are trying to do for the brand or client. Even better if you can throw in some metrics that show the impact of leads generated or even sales!

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4. Calculate The Risk

Are you prepared for the consequences if you break one of these rules?

Are you sure it’s just a slap on the wrist or could you be breaking industry laws and regulations?

Before you convince yourself, you have to do XYZ make sure you are familiar with your companies rules as well as if you are going to be breaking any real laws. Breaking an industry norm is one thing but breaking an industry requirement is another. Only after careful consideration and taking the time to ensure (as much as you can) the risk you are about to take will pay off, should you go through with it. After all, you are the one who will have to take responsibility when it’s over!

Wrap It Up

So what are you going to do…

Break the rules?

Or talk to someone first?

Ask for forgiveness?

Or permission?

Just remember it’s more than your name at stake. What would happen if the CEO got wind of this? Or a client’s CEO? Would you be the hero? Or would you be looking for a new job?

Somethings just aren’t worth it, but if you do your homework and take the above four things into consideration you’ll know if the rule you want to break is worth the reward!

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4 Questions Agencies Should Ask Clients

Think of your last nightmare client…

What went wrong?

And could it have been fixed during your pitch or at least the very first meeting if you had just known what questions to ask?

We aren’t saying your client is going to be honest with everything listed below but even noting who answers the questions and how they answer them could tell you a lot about what you are in for throughout the campaign you have agreed to work on together.

Brand success isn’t just about the numbers, especially if everyone ends up hating each other. Agencies need to understand the importance of customer experience and communication when it comes to client relationships. And you can set that tone for the very first interaction if the relationship is a priority for you. 

These four questions below could make or break a potential client relationship, and that’s why you want to ask them as soon as possible! This will help you understand what to expect and how you are expected to do it.

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1. What Keeps You Up At Night?

This might be a tough question to ask because no one like to reveal their flaws during the first meeting, but the truth is no one is perfect. As an agency, you are most likely being brought in to solve a problem that their internal team can’t do on their own. It probably pertains to one if not all of their businesses’ pain points and it’s important you find out as much as you can about it the first time you meet so you can start solving those problems. If a client says they have no pain points, try phrasing the question differently.

  • What metrics do you want to improve?
  • What is the one goal you are worried about not hitting?
  • What are complaints you receive from customers?

If you ask the right questions, you will figure out where they are struggling and how you can help. Remember, you can’t solve a problem unless you know there is one!

2. What Would Success Look Like To You?

This question is crucial because success looks different to everyone. I can almost guarantee even within the potential client’s organization a successful relationship with your agency will look different to the digital marketer, to the CMO and the CEO. It’s your job to figure out what they really want to achieve.

  • Is to increase visibility?
  • Increase sales?
  • Leads generated?
  • Tie efforts back to ROI?

No matter what their end goal is, we can assure you they are going to want to show something tangible for your work. This will help them easily explain why it was so important to hire an agency to handle their marketing needs.

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3. What Would You Like To See Your Agency Take More Responsibility Of?

This is basically a really nice way of asking what didn’t you like about the last agency.

You need to know this, so you don’t make the same mistakes! And maybe even more importantly you will get a better idea of what they expect from you.

  • Did the last agency have too many phone calls?
  • Not enough communication?
  • Where they bad at tying in ROI into marketing metrics?
  • Did their reporting stink?

What is that one thing they could have done better that would have changed the whole relationship? That would have kept them around for another campaign?

4.  How Do You Approach Complex Problems?

Whether it’s a lack of technology, an overwhelming amount of data, or planning execution what does your client do when they face a problem?

  • Do they panic?
  • Go into problem-solving mode?
  • Ignore?
  • Tackle it straight on?
  • Blame someone?

It’s important to ask this question, so you know what to expect just in case XYZ happens while they are your clients. Like we said above, no one is perfect including you. Odds are something might happen. Hopefully, not a big problem but something that wasn’t planned will happen, and you are going to have to work with your client to figure it out. Getting an idea of how they face challenges will help you approach them, solve them and know who to notify on the client side. You don’t want to wait till you are in the middle of something to wonder what your client might do. This will give you an idea of what you can expect and help you figure out how to communicate it and bring solutions to the table.

Wrap It Up

Just like you expect your potential client to ask you lots of questions you should also be asking them lots of questions. After all, you both are a part of this relationship and will need to figure each other out! And the sooner you know each other’s quirks and even better, learn to work through them the better the result will be.

What other questions should agencies be asking clients?

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Down The Sales Funnel KPIs Go

KPIs are no joke! 

Key performance indicators play a significant role in the creation of your strategy and marketing budget. They ensure your marketing campaigns are reaching new heights by helping you understand its effectiveness through metrics and measurement. And when they aren’t, KPIs help you understand where to focus your attention. But with so much data to digest, it can be tough to figure out where it’s taking your strategy and how it’s telling you to spend your budget.

So, how can you use KPIs effectively to create your marketing budget and fine tune your strategy?

When there is this much data?

Where should you start?

Align Marketing With Sales

It’s time to embrace the sales process! I know, probably not what you wanted to hear as a marketer but both, sales and marketing need to put their heads together to create the best sales and marketing results possible.

The truth is you can’t do one without the other.

I mean look at how quickly you blame one another you when goals are missed? You both know how much you rely on each other.

You can’t do one without the other especially if your end goal is to generate more revenue- which it should be, your boss would want it to be. So you have to start looking at sales and marketing like the best combo ever and not sworn frenemies. Once you come to terms with sales being your new BFF, it’s time to break down the consumer buying process and use it to figure out what data is most relevant for understanding the KPIs your marketing team is using. 

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Three Stages

When it comes to the consumer buying process, you have to talk about the funnel. And when it comes to the sales funnel you can actually use it to break down marketing KPIs by stages,

  1. Awareness: something seems wrong
  2. Consideration: what are my options to fix it
  3. Decision: X will fix my problem

Use the sales funnel to examine your KPIs, to figure out what data is needed and to help marketing understand how it relates to each stage of the sales process.

With each step of the funnel, we are going to figure out what data sources you should be looking at, what it can help you find out and how you can use it.

1. Awareness

This is the top of your funnel. Which means you have a lot of data to look through! There is so much your marketing team is doing to bring awareness to your product and or service so which sources are most impactful? 

Website Traffic

  • Where are the hot spots on your site?
  • Where are people spending their time? And for how long?
  • Are these the pages you are driving them to through ads?
  • And what do they do if they are on one of those pages?

It’s important to know what parts of your website people are drawn to so you can do more of that! You don’t just want to celebrate the fact that 40,000 people are coming to your site, but you aren’t making any sales from them. Make sure you are attracting the right visitor to your website, one that has a problem you can fix!

Content Creation

  • How many people are coming to your blog?
  • What posts have the most visitors?
  • How long are people spending on your blog post?

Content is a great way to build trust with your audience, but you have to make sure it is information your audience wants and needs. While it’s great to have a blog with lots of content to look at it won’t mean much unless your audience is reading it and finds it relatable to their needs.

Social Media

  • How many people see your posts?
  • How many people engage?
  • What social platforms are meeting your current goals?

Social media is a great tool to use for promoting content which helps you build relationships with your audience. It helps with brand recognition and can be a place people come with questions you can answer. It opens the door to communication and relationship building between the consumer and brand. 

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2. Consideration

People enter this part of the funnel when they want to learn more about you! You did something right with your awareness marketing efforts- maybe it was a blog post or something on your website that made them keep looking into your brand to figure out if your service and or product is the right fit. Now in the consideration stage, you are taking metrics that show how what and who you are converting.

CTA Performance

  • How many people converted?

This is probably the most important metric to track! It measures the effectiveness of your call to action, and if people make it this far they are letting you know that you did a lot of things right with your marketing efforts and have the possibility to win them over

Visits & Conversion By Source

  • How are people getting to your website or landing page?
  • Where are people converting?
  • Who, what, when are people converting?

While yes, it’s great that people have found your website and are reading your blog but in the consideration stage you want them to commit a little bit more to your brand and when someone does you want to know how they got there. Did they have to read 5 blog posts and on the fifth one they signed up for your weekly newsletter? Did they find your blog post by clicking on a Facebook Ad or just a Tweet- did their visit cost you money or was it “free”. It’s important to look into all of this so you can do more of that so more of the right people find you!

3. Decision

This is at the bottom of the funnel, your potential customer turns into a client. And you may think once your MQL turns into a customer the sales team takes over from here. No! You worked hard to get them this far so marketing doesn’t stop here. Now you have to ensure your current customer stays a customer as it’s much cheaper to keep your customers than to go out and look for new ones.

Referrals

  • Are current or past customer referring your company?
  • How many referrals do you receive during any given amount of time?

Referrals are basically like “free” customers. You didn’t have to drag them all the way through the sales funnel. They jumped a few steps and made an easy decision because a friend/co-worker/ family member told them they needed you! There are few marketings tactics that work as well as a good recommendation! So give your current customer incentive to refer you to their friends and family.

Reviews

  • Are customers reviewing you online?
  • Are the reviews good?
  • Are you responding to problems when addressed here?

Don’t be afraid to ask your customer to review you, especially if they won’t stop talking about how much they love you. Maybe you see them tweet something at you? Or they send you a message on Facebook? Or tag you in an Instagram post? Now is marketing time to shine. Make sure you comment back and thank them and most importantly make it a priority to address any issues mentioned. You don’t want to ignore complaints just because it’s not “marketings job” (but yes it is, this is your brand image after all).

Wrap It Up

Your KPIs can make or break your marketing efforts. If you understand your KPIs, the data behind them, where to get that data, and what questions to ask about that data then this could change everything about your marketing efforts.

KPIs don’t need to be feared! They can be a tool used to put all your marketing efforts in the right place. So the next time you become overwhelmed by all that data needed, break it down and look at through the lens of the sales funnel.

The truth is, when you understand your KPIs you will become a better marketer!

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Voice Is On The Rise In PR

According to Amazon, sales of the Echo devices (Alexa) doubled in the U.S. over last year’s Prime Day and tripled worldwide year over yearThis means more and more consumers aren’t only getting comfortable spending money on “voice assistants” or “digital assistants,” but more people are going to be using them. And this is a trend PR pros needs to keep an eye on! Continue reading “Voice Is On The Rise In PR”

How To identify Influencers With Converge

As brands are learning more and more about their audience, they are learning that their consumers may not trust them, which makes getting information and marketing out about their products and services tricky!

If your audience doesn’t trust your message how are you going to convince them to make a purchase?

This is when you have to go outside the board room and the brand and find people who your consumer relates to, that’s when influencers come into the picture, and this is why they have become so popular. Continue reading “How To identify Influencers With Converge”

What Does It Take To See What’s Coming Next?

How important is it for you as a PR pro and to your role at an agency to be able to spot up-and-coming trends?

If you are one of those people who have the magic touch, then it’s  a part of the client relationship you thrive on, and if not, you probably aren’t even sure that you want to learn how.

But in the age of social media it’s not enough to just keep up and be part of a conversation you need to be the one starting them! This is a skill you will see leading PR agencies and individuals owning because bing able to spot emerging trends and viral opportunities is needed in order to stay ahead of the game and differentiate yourself. Continue reading “What Does It Take To See What’s Coming Next?”