Music to my ears

February 1, 2017

music

As I was listening to one of my favorite playlists today, I was struck by how emotional music can be. A certain melody or specific song has an amazing ability to trigger our emotions in an instant. Ask any runner and they’ll tell you that one of the ways they set the tone for their run is by pre-programming the music they’ll listen to when they run. Many writers swear by the same technique and have spent hours putting together just the right mix of songs to inspire their work.

You’ve probably noticed how music impacts your reaction to TV commercials, videos, and podcasts. In the short run – it sets the tone and tempo for the piece and gets your emotions fired up. But in the long run – just the first notes of a familiar jingle can have you repeating the company’s tagline or theme song lyrics. And that connection lasts for decades.

If I could magically make this article play the first few bars of “I’d like to teach the world to sing” many of you over the age of 40 would be subconsciously reaching for a can of Coke before you could remember why. That campaign ran in 1971 and we still have that trigger embedded in our memory decades later. That’s powerful.

Music is a connector. It connects us to memories, people, and stories. Marketing is about making a connection with your audience.

You don’t have to be producing a multi-million dollar TV spot, video or audio show to leverage music’s impact. There are plenty of ways for marketers of all sizes and shapes to work music into their marketing plan.

Sponsorship: According to Billboard, live concert attendance is up over 20% and there are no signs it’s slowing down. What? You don’t have the budget to sponsor Madonna’s new tour? No worries – look no further than your own local music scene.  Most communities are producing some incredible local vocalists and bands that are performing on a regular basis.

Odds are these musicians haven’t had a lot of experience in being sponsored so you may have to carve out a deal from scratch. But just like the nationally known artists – each of these local talents has a following. Find the singer or group that has attracted the audience that matters to your business and see if you can strike up a deal.

Customize your music: If you’re creating a jingle or want to have a consistent piece of music associated with your company – don’t buy something off the shelf. Have a piece of music composed that you can own and use for years to come. And remember – sometimes the words are what makes a jingle stink. Instrumental music can be even more potent if it’s well written. Again – there are plenty of local composers who have both the talent and equipment to help you bring the musical spirit of your organization to life.

Set the mood with music: Whether you have a retail store or you deal with your customers over the phone – you have the opportunity to establish the tone of your interactions with music.

Here’s the key to this strategy that is often missed. If you are not the same age/demographic as your target audience, remember – it’s not about what you like, it’s what they like. Have you ever walked into the store Hot Topic at the mall? You immediately know (if you’re over 20) that you are not their target audience. Use your musical selections to create a welcome mat for your right fit customers.

Whether you’re putting together testimonial videos, a radio series or creating a live event – don’t forget to think long and hard about music and how you can elevate your results with it.

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Are you accidentally doing public relations?

October 26, 2016

Public RelationsAccording to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) the definition of public relations is “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

My translation is that public relations is any communication that benefits both the sender and the receiver. It delivers a value to everyone in the conversation. That sounds like a worthy target – after all, who wouldn’t appreciate hearing from someone that delivers information, stories, or news that adds value to their day?

In today’s vernacular public relations is earned media. In other words, you didn’t buy the coverage. I’m not suggesting that PR is free – just that you don’t buy placement like you might purchase ad space.

When most people hear the phrase public relations, they think media relations. Working with the traditional media to write a story about your organization is certainly one aspect of public relations but it’s just part of the picture. I’m guessing that you’re accidentally dabbling in public relations, you just don’t realize it.

Many would argue that social media community building, helping a client avoid a crisis, or making an event something special are all PR tactics. See – you’ve already started down the PR path – why not try these less common but very effective tactics?

Reach out to bloggers: A kissing cousin to traditional media relations is connecting to bloggers who write for an audience that matters to your company. Bloggers are often more accessible than a traditional journalist and may be more open to helping you tell your story. A great tool for identifying bloggers who cover topics that relate to your organization is www.alltop.com.

Remember that top bloggers receive dozens of pitches every day so do your homework. Ideally, you’d spend some time getting to know their content before you need to make your pitch. Bloggers notice people who contribute to the conversations they’re having on their site so jump into the comments section and add value.

If you do all of that, you’ll know exactly which blogs are the best fit for what you’re trying to do and they’ll be glad to hear from you because you won’t be wasting their time.

Own a branded study: Thought leadership is one of those buzzwords that has almost worn out its welcome. The only reason it hasn’t is because the logic behind it makes so much sense. Again keeping in mind the PR credo – benefit your audience as well as yourself – the PR spin to thought leadership is that you share what you know. Identify something that your audience really needs to know and invest in getting the information for them. Then shout it from the rooftops and go out of your way to make sure that anyone who would gain from knowing what you learned, hears about it.

The key to this tactic is that you don’t hold the information hostage. Be absolutely reckless in how you give it away. The beautiful thing is that pretty soon you’ll be known as the company who went out of your way to help others and you made them smarter along the way. Every year, they’ll actually look forward to hearing from you. Soon, you’ll be branded as the organization that A) seeks the information every year and B) shares the information every year.

Who wouldn’t want to do business with a company that offers that combination? The cherry on top is that you can probably garner the media’s attention as well.

That’s actually the secret sauce of PR. The more you help others, whether that’s a reporter or a member of your target audience, the more attention you earn for your own organization as well.

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Media coverage is not a given

January 16, 2014

NewspaperRoll_optI have the opportunity to review many business plans and one thing that always causes me some concern is that every business owner believes that they can generate a significant amount of marketing exposure by getting media coverage.

They pepper it throughout their plan because to them, it feels free and easy to get.

I  hate to tell you, but media coverage is not a given.

My concern comes from how unrealistic business owners, non profit directors and business leaders are about the type and amount of media coverage they’re going to be able to garner.

Here’s the reality check most need:

  • Most of what is newsworthy to you, is not newsworthy to the rest of the world.
  • Most reporters/editors are bombarded with news releases – yours has to stand out to even catch their attention.
  • Blinding sending your release to everyone is a sure to annoy most of them and reduce the likelihood of receiving any coverage.
  • Good manners go a long way.

Let’s dig into each of those reality checks to see if we can identity some best practices that will increase your chances of getting the coverage you want.

It has to actually be newsworthy: Earning media coverage can be daunting. Journalists have a finite amount of space/time and they have to decide which stories are going to be of value to their audience.

As you consider pitching a story, ask yourself – how would the reporter sell this story to his editor? What benefit or value would the reporter’s audience get? What could make this story so compelling that someone would share it with someone else who hadn’t seen the news coverage?

If these questions have you stumped, odds are the story isn’t newsworthy and you shouldn’t risk damaging your credibility by pitching it.

You have 3 seconds to peak their interest: Reporters and editors get buried in pitch phone calls, emails, faxes and snail mail releases. They can’t possibly read all of them thoroughly. They’re going to read the headline and scan the release, so you need to write it with that in mind.

Your headline will make or break you. If it doesn’t grab the editor’s attention, you’re headed for the “thanks but no” pile in a hurry. Make sure your headline makes them want to read more and tells them exactly why this is something their audience needs to know about.

Don’t let your laziness or ignorance cost you coverage: Because of my blog, I get pitches from PR pros and business owners every day. I’m often embarrassed by their efforts. They clearly got my contact information from some list – but have no idea what I write about.

Before you hit send be sure you’re sending it to the right reporter and the right publication. Take the time to review the last few issues/shows and get to know the kind of content they routinely cover. Don’t embarrass yourself or irritate the reporter by waving your laziness under their nose.

Say please and thank you: Never forget the importance of having decent manners. Be helpful, be available and be grateful if they tell your story.

More important than just simple good manners – don’t be a pain. Don’t call them incessantly to see if they got your release or if they’re going to use it. Don’t get ticked when they tell you “thanks but not this time” or it will be the last time. And if you really want to earn their appreciation and trust – you might give them a story or two that don’t involve you or your clients.

Earning media coverage takes some time, some preparation and some forethought. But most of all – it requires you take an objective look at your “news” and only pitch it when it’s worth pitching.

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Mix your media for best results

October 3, 2011

This is not a new notion but when you’re buying/using media — use more than one vehicle and when possible, blend how the information is ingested.  In other words, I see/hear your TV spot (or YouTube video), so add in a print element or something online that I can read.  Access more of the audiences’ senses for more impact.

Having a media mix is very old school but it’s as relevant today as it was back in Ogilvy‘s day.  Add that age old wisdom to today’s new truth — 75% of Americans (and I find it hard to believe we’re the only ones) watch TV and surf the web at the same time.

All the more reason to have a media blend in play.

A new study by Nielsen reinforces this idea and reminds us that this impacts recall as well.  (link to Business Insider story) They found that advertising on multiple platforms substantially increases consumers’ ability to remember an ad campaign compared to when the ad is viewed on TV alone.

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Nielsen findings support the idea of having a media blend or mix.

In a media lab study conducted by Nielsen, participants viewed related content across a TV, computer, smartphone and tablet. A 15-second video ad promoting a premium sports sedan was shown to different groups with some people seeing no ads, and others seeing the ad on different combinations of screens.

In the group that was exposed to TV ads alone, 50 percent of people correctly attributed the ad to the correct auto brand. For groups that saw the ad across all screens – TV, computer, smartphone and tablet – the ability to remember the brand jumped dramatically to nearly three-in-four (74%).

What does this mean for you and me?  It means we need to be smart about how we utilize media.  Follow these guidelines to take advantage of these insights:

Mix your media: Be sure you are cross promoting your message by having a URL in your print and broadcast ads.   Share your radio and TV spots on your website.  Use QR codes to drive your mobile audience to unique content designed for the mobile experience.

Use the strengths of each media/human sense to really drive your core messages.

Don’t think it’s all about the money: Keep in mind your Facebook fan page, your website/blog, Twitter, etc. as you build your media plan.  Work on placing trade pub stories (online or in print) and getting others to share your content.

In today’s world — keep in mind that isn’t just about paid media.  This is media you buy (advertising), own (your own sites) and earn (public relations) combined.

Deliver the same core messages on all media: Don’t get cute and have different messages for different media.  The execution may change — but your core message should be consistent across the board.

Remember, you are building impressions so stay 110% consistent.

Interesting isn’t it?  The more newness there is, the more the time tested foundational truths about advertising ring true.

How has all of this new media changed your philosophy?

 

 

 

 

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