Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Changing Home Media Landscape

The home media landscape has evolved dramatically over the past few years – with the increasing importance of online publications, the explosion of reality makeover programming and the advent of social media. During a recent LCWA professional development brown bag, we discussed the latest trends on the homefront and how to tailor our pitches to meet the needs of today’s reporter. Here are a few key learnings:

  • Shifting to Digital – Many high-profile shelter industry magazines are launching digital and mobile editions. These new formats present a great opportunity for PR professionals, as many will feature original content that is constantly updated. Not only will editors be looking for more products, more trends and more photography, but digital editions also allow for hyperlinks to videos, websites and other brand resources.

  • More Bang for Your Brand – Unless your client is a sponsor, most home improvement and lifestyle television shows – such as those on HGTV and the DIY Network – no longer offer on-air brand mentions. In exchange for a product donation, you’re most likely to receive a mention in the end credit roll and a link on the show’s website. To maximize brand exposure, ask the producer about the possibility of organic logo inclusion via product packaging, a delivery truck or even a shot of a merchandising display at a local dealer.

  • Pulling Double Duty – Newspaper reporters are working harder than ever before – with 30 percent of journalists writing an average of 10 or more stories a month. Consequently, even the largest of papers are turning to more “canned” home industry content and increasing usage of wire services and mat releases. Craft broader, more trend-focused stories to attract the features reporter who now covers multiple beats, and get more bang for your buck by pitching home writers who are frequently syndicated.

  • Social Savvy – More and more home industry journalists are encouraging the receipt of pitches and leads via social media. If a reporter seems to prefer sharing information via Facebook or Twitter, “friend” or “follow” and then send a message or tweet. Just be sure to let your contact take the lead and keep communications short and on-topic.

Even though the game has changed, keep these new developments in mind – and remain flexible – to ensure you hit a “home run” whenever you pitch home media contacts.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Value of a Fan

Can you measure the value of a friendship -- or better yet a fan-ship? Poetic pens will likely claim that it cannot be done, but many public relations practitioners are trying to find a way. Friendships online -- translated as Facebook “likes” and Twitter followers -- can have a real and meaningful impact on brands. So they must have an approximate, tangible value, right?

This is a question the industry is wrestling with and something we will have to answer soon. Some are already attempting answers, as two social media companies recently revealed their own calculations for “the value of a fan.”
  • According to research by Syncapse Corp., the total average value of a Facebook fan to a company is $136.38. This takes into account how much, on average, each fan spends with the company over the course of a year, how many sales they encourage by word of mouth and the cost that goes into soliciting and maintaining the relationship. For instance, the study suggests that that someone who has “liked” a brand may spend an average of $71.84 more each year on that brand’s products or services than will someone who has not “liked” it on Facebook. The upside to this theory is the vast amount of specific data it incorporates. However, the numbers are based on some of the best known brands and don’t account for how consumable a product is or how the value translates for smaller brands. Read the white paper here.

  • Virtue’s approach to “value” tells a different tale. Virtue, a social media software provider, assesses a Facebook page’s value based on the number of fans and asserts that a page with 1 million fans is worth $3.6 million, which equates to a worth of $3.60 dollars per fan. This theory is much like the traditional advertising equivalency translated into social media, and could offer a safer bet for social media values, but it doesn’t account for the engagement aspect of a social space, or the fact that brand followers can block or sort out content, which would directly affect the ultimate value. Take a deeper look at Virtue’s approach here.

So now the question is: do you buy it? The theory that we can create a value for social media interactions is disputed as a slippery and inexact slope. Both of the above calculations have issues, but they are a good place to start a conversation. And while the industry is talking about how to quantify social media, maybe this is the time to begin a conversation with your clients as well. After all, the value of any friendship depends on what you want to get out of it, so ask your teams and your clients -- what do we want our fans to say, do, remember or espouse?

The value of a fan-ship -- like a great editorial placement -- may indeed be “priceless,” but providing an accurate estimate of the worth of both will be an important part of successful PR in 2011.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Merchandising PR – How to Make the Most of Strategies and Success

RESULTS! They are the reason we get hired and the key to sustaining long-term relationships with our clients. Yet, far too often, they get relegated to an Excel spreadsheet and filed away in a client’s office somewhere, never to be seen again. While quantitative reports are certainly important, there are many other ways PR results can (and should) be “merchandised” for added exposure and value.

Add sizzle to sales presentations. In today’s increasingly competitive marketplace, showcasing PR initiatives and results can help make a sale. A launch campaign with strong PR components can demonstrate to business partners a company’s level of commitment. Likewise, early media interest can be a strong indicator of sales potential. After all, if a product or program can attract media attention, odds are it will attract a strong following from targeted end-users.

Toward that end, we often encourage clients to arm their front line sales reps with PR “show-and-tell” materials – such as creative mailers and copies of media placements – and to highlight PR plans and outcomes during sales meetings, line reviews and trade shows. In addition to adding visual punch to presentations, these elements can add perceived value to go-to-market strategies and give salespeople more leverage with customers.

Engage employees. Few people are more invested in the success of a company or organization than those who work there. Sharing PR successes internally is an easy and cost-effective way to keep employees engaged and excited in their work. Intranets, newsletters, e-mail blasts and online social groups and networks all are effective vehicles for showcasing PR throughout an organization.

Incite Investors. Investors are another audience that is keenly interested in the success of a company or organization. Incorporating PR highlights into investor presentations can reaffirm the company’s commitment to strategic marketing support while providing a refreshing recess from the typical transmission of facts and figures.

Effectively merchandising PR results works to everyone’s benefit. Clients get credit from their customers and investors for making smart, cost-effective marketing investments. The marketing team gets noticed for supporting sales and contributing the bottom line. And we reinforce our role as a trusted, go-to resource for – you guessed it – RESULTS!