Showing posts with label public relatons. Show all posts
Showing posts with label public relatons. Show all posts

Friday, December 7

Marketing Content: Small Business Tips

Pamela Muldoon at Next Stage Media has put together a decent list of four simple questions to ask for small businesses that want to explore content marketing. By using a jewelry store as an example, Muldoon was able to flesh up a content marketing primer that every business ought to think about.

The first four questions proposed by Next Stage Media.

1. What are the seasonal conversations and events for your business or industry? 

Muldoon suggests that first step of any content marketing begins with the easiest step first. Know when your customers think about your products. In this case, a jeweler ought to be planning for content on or around Christmas, New Year's and Valentine's Day.

Advice enhancement: While the advice is spot on, there are plenty of other prompts content marketers ought to consider. St. Patrick's Day, for example, screams emeralds. Many other gems have seasonal appeal too. And any jewelry can create dates by advocating community service and nonprofit connections.

2. What does your target audience need to know about your product(s) based on time of year?

It's ideal that Muldoon offers up some in-depth understanding about the customer's purchasing experience. In this example, she suggests knowing the purchasing cycle of the customer — knowing when they are about to propose and how far out they need to plan for the engagement ring.

Advice enhancement: This is all smart stuff. If you can raise the right questions and answers at the right time, people will be more likely to turn to you for advice. While that may seem hard to map out, many jewelers can look for proposal trends and then calculate how many months in advance people start thinking about it and shopping for rings.

3. What questions do the customers of your industry have that will improve their current situation?

One of the best prospects of social media is to move beyond the product. The point here is simple enough. For the most part, people can buy a 'diamond' anywhere. In order to be more successful, small businesses need to differentiate themselves in different ways. It could be the cuts, stones, designers, personal touch, customer service, or any number of differences.

Advice enhancement: Demonstrating a clear contrast between one business and another is critical regardless of the industry. This almost always goes beyond a unique selling proposition (USP) because most USPs are created based on what clients think is the best in their field as opposed to the differences that exist between them and another.

4. What else does your target audience spend money on throughout the year?

By far, this was one of my favorite bits of advice. Muldoon correctly establishes that people are 3-dimensional and cannot be afraid to provide content beyond their product offerings.

Advice enhancement: While Muldoon suggests offering a larger product portfolio to prospects, companies don't always have to move beyond their product or service offerings. Sometimes advice is enough, especially as it relates directly or indirectly back to the product. Ergo, depending on the jeweler, people (especially existing customers) might like to learn a few fashion tips or closely related topical advice, ranging from etiquette to experiences.

The best content marketing strategies consider marketing, public relations and editorial. 

While I'm not a fan of the pressures to increase the quantity of content marketing, I am very much in favor of improving content quality. All four questions are a solid first step for small businesses to appreciate that they might have something to contribute. Consider it a starter set because once a base is established there are dozens of unique aspects to every business, ranging from new products being introduced to caring for products long after the customer purchases them.

It's also a good idea to remember that text isn't the only form of content available. Video, images and interactive experiences can all play a role in developing context. And, above all, never forget to listen to walk-in customers, the questions they ask, and the stories about designers that they want to hear.

If you consider all the possibilities after launching base content, new paths will present themselves — areas that are underserved or co-op opportunities that never existed before. As they do, it will also become more clear that content marketing is shaping up to be one of the better integrated communication concepts that any company can effectively deploy next year as long as they think it through first.

Thursday, December 9

Playing At Public Relations: Rolls-Royce Asks Will It Pass?

QantasPeople often misunderstand that there is a virtual chasm between public relations and media relations. Rolls-Royce might be one of them.

While the grounding of Qantas Airways Ltd.’s Airbus SAS A380 fleet after an engine explosion may cost as much as $204 million, the airline will likely recover financially even if it does take significantly more time to rebuild the brand. For the most part, Qantas has taken a traditional crisis communication approach, communicating to various publics through multiple channels. It was and still is highly engaged with the media after one of its flights suffered engine failure.

But what about Rolls-Royce? By most counts, Rolls-Royce was largely silent about the failure of its engine about a month ago. The intent seems to follow the forgetfulness of the public by remaining in the background of public discourse.

It's not an uncommon approach. It's the same approach Halliburton took during the BP oil spill crisis. For Halliburton, it seems to work.

Does Communicating Less Work?

For Rolls-Royce, it's not. While the company continues to perform with diversified products and services, it seems clear enough that the engine failure, repeatedly called a design flaw, is weighing heavily on the company. It's not enough to kill it, but it is enough to stall it for an indefinite amount of time.

While the public might be satisfied to hear from Qantas, shareholders and industry experts following Rolls-Royce were not. What did the company offer up to its publics?

“This event and the consequent actions will have an impact on the Group’s financial performance this year. However the scale of our order book, the breadth and mix of our portfolio, the global nature of our business and our strong balance sheet makes Rolls-Royce a resilient business, and we expect continued underlying profit growth in 2010,” Sir John Rose, chief executive officer said.

With that measure being pushed forward to investors, a different message is being put forth to potential customers. Since the interim report, Rolls-Royce has put out a steady stream of releases focusing on innovations and contract wins.

While it is no more or less than it did three months ago, what does seem different is a drop off in softer news. Rolls-Royce is communicating, much like it did to shareholders, that it is all business. And while it has expressed some regret over the incident, there isn't anything to account for in terms of an apology or empathy.

The most current pre-incident forecast by Rolls-Royce was that during the next 20 years, 141,000 engines, worth more than $820 billion, are predicted to be delivered, powering 65,000 commercial aircraft and business jets. Specific to the most popular engines, Rolls-Royce maintained a 50 percent market share. In the past, it contended that the market is pretty unforgiving.

To date, it seems more than the civil aviation market is unforgiving. Investors did not appreciate that the company considered the Trent incident to be "partially mitigated by better performance in the Marine and Defence businesses." Companies that fail to communicate to their publics' satisfaction take much longer to recover than those out front.

Companies Cannot Afford To Be Too Quiet During A Crisis.

The exception, Halliburton during the Gulf Coast oil spill, was only possible because BP public relations missteps had distracted the public. Sometimes that may help a behind-the-scenes company forego public scrutiny in the short term. However, once the bigger bungler is removed from the equation, the behind-the-scenes players step into the spotlight. Case in point, Halliburton no longer has someone in the foreground.

While this story is still developing, the early lesson is that even if a company can escape short-term consequences by not communicating, that does not absolve it from long-term consequences. But more specific to the original observation, Rolls-Royce might already be doing better had it communicated well to select publics (customers and investors) even if it chose to let Qantas handle the media. Case study in progress. (Hat tip: Recruiting Animal.)

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