Public Relations Marketing
Today is four years since my dear mentor and stepfather John R. Walsh died. Two years ago I wrote a post about him that will give you some of his and our background.
What I’d like to share with you in this post is some of his brilliant thinking and the lessons we can take in a Web 2.0 world from his ability to strategize before the Internet/World Wide Web.
Next time you watch women’s golf and tennis think of John Walsh. Back in the 1970’s women’s sports had almost no corporate sponsorship. With no big money prizes and TV contracts there was very little interest. It occurred to John that this represented an opportunity for consumer products companies whose primary purchasing public was almost wholly women.
He pitched the idea to Colgate-Palmolive CEO-at-the-time David Foster, who passed away recently. Foster, who happened to really like women and golf, thought it was a great idea and the Colgate Dinah Shore Winner’s Circle Golf Classic was born. Foster even bought it a home – the Mission Hills Golf Course in Palm Springs. Its success also helped to increase sponsorship of women’s tennis.
Walsh and Foster boosted the careers of LPGA Hall of Famers JoAnne Carner, Nancy Lopez and Amy Alcott among many others. The two pretty much put the sport on the map. The fabulous PR strategy still puts Colgate-Palmolive in a positive spotlight today.
John’s big strategic idea: Great opportunities are out there. Look for an audience that can get behind something that already exists and is just waiting for support from a logical booster.
He did the same thing with Cutty Sark Scots Whisky, selling its global distributor and the Men’s Fashion Association to collaborate on a men’s fashion awards program at a time when there was no recognition for menswear designers. The Cutty Awards ran for years, garnering untold media attention for all and boosting the early careers of such fashion icons as Gianni Versace, Alexander Julian and many others.
In the days of Web 2.0 and online search, it’s actually much easier to come up with winning matches like these.
If you click the link at the top of this post it should bring up your audio player and a music file of John singing and playing one of his own compositions, “I’m In Love With San Francisco.” As I explained in my 2009 post, John played a mean piano – in the key of C only – and composed some wonderful songs. A man of words, he was his own lyricist.
Unfortunately, John’s songs remain unknown. I’m happy to give one of them some airtime here. The song was recorded to digital from an old cassette tape using an iPhone 4s so the quality isn’t great, but it’ll give you a peek at one other part of his creative heart and mind.
Here’s to one of the greatest winners I’ve ever known. Love you and miss you, John.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
First, apologies. I promised this post would follow up the last with a system for online marketing. I’ll deliver that next post. Today, however, I attended an event that got me thinking about journalists and what they’re going through in the evolution of media and have some thoughts to share.
This afternoon I attended the annual meeting of the Fairfield County Public Relations Association, a PR professional organization founded in 1958. I proudly served as its president in the mid 1990’s.
Coming out of the PR profession, I’ve spent my career interacting with journalists, offering them story ideas, articles and sometimes just the camaraderie of people who make up two parts of an equation.
As much as the rise of the Internet has changed the lives of PR people, I believe it’s changed life more for journalists. I recognize that the web lets me take my clients’ stories directly to their constituents. I can bypass the media and go direct to our audiences with useful information that they will embrace.
I blog and write a monthly column for a business journal. I share with you my experience, expertise and take on what’s going on in the online marketing world. But I’m not a journalist and don’t pretend to be.
I truly hope the definition and characteristics of true journalism stay alive. Journalists are committed to reporting the facts. They vet their sources. They report on what’s going on more than they opine. They’re trained to have a nose for what’s newsworthy. So do PR people, but journalists are charged with digging to get both sides of an issue, rather than advocating for only one side of the story.
The keynote speaker for today’s meeting was Julia Hood, president of the Arthur W. Page Society, a membership organization for senior PR and corporate communications executives. Julia pointed out that PR people are supposed to advocate for our clients, despite recent crises to the contrary (i.e. Facebook/Burson-Marsteller). It’s our charge to be truthful, but not necessarily impartial. That’s the role of journalists. Nonetheless, I’ve seen fabulous reporters dumped from newsrooms as daily newspapers struggle to evolve and figure out their role. Who will take up that slack?
The incoming president of FCPRA, Marian Salzman, CEO of Euro RSCG Worldwide PR, North America pointed out rightly that, although corporate America has lagged behind, hyper-local is the current focus of people and the media that reflects their interests. Hyper local media is experimenting with combining professional and citizen journalism as a way to cover the local news, taking advantage of expanded digital platforms.
That’s interesting and it’s good that they’re employing some journalists, probably not at great pay levels. But I hope we don’t lose the desire to support the kind of skeptical, truth-seeking journalists I’ve discoursed and partnered with to get great stories out, negotiated and disagreed with over newsworthiness and whether something represented a trend, cursed out under my breath when they just didn’t get something I thought was important.
Many of these incredible pros have been riffed out of newsrooms because of downsizing. I spent time with a few today. PR leaders like Bob Dilenschneider have added some of these amazing – now former – journalists to his global PR consulting team. I am intrigued about what they in conjunction with an evolving PR profession will envision together for the future.
What they provide needs an ongoing place in our culture and our political system. It’s not melodramatic to say that they are at the heart of our democracy — moreso than any politician who claims that turf for him- or herself.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
This post is dedicated to the thousands of bloggers around the globe who read my last post when it was featured on the WordPress homepage showcase, ‘Freshly Pressed’. First of all, it was amazing to have one of my posts selected from almost half a million posted that day. Second of all, the response was humbling and heart warming. A special thanks to those who commented or hit the ‘Like’ button to share it and welcome to those of you who subscribed.
Although our blogs provide a doorway to the entire world, when people comment on a post it reminds me how much a one-to-one connection it is. So today’s musical post is “Just You, Just Me”, played on several overdubbed tracks by one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time, Bill Evans. Bloggers, it’s from an album ironically titled, “Conversations with Myself” — how our writing often feels.
For businesses, I believe in blogging as a way to share one’s expertise and create thought leadership. Because of its search-ability online, the content we create helps people who are looking for not only our products and services, but also our knowledge and experience, to find us. The knack is to share that info in an authentic and human way that connects.
At the moment we hit the keyboard, it’s hard to know whether what we write will resonate. We can write with our “Buyer Personae” in mind as David Meerman Scott explains in his book, “World Wide Rave”. But when we launch our content into cyber space, we can only hope it reaches its intended destination.
The gift of the Internet is that when we connect, it lets us know! Whether it’s your WordPress blog stats, Google Analytics, Hubspot analytics or any of the robust tools out there, the value of our efforts is knowable.
When I wrote the post “10 Reasons Why I ‘Heart’ My Blog,” I didn’t say to myself, “OK, I’m going to sit down now and write some remarkable content.” I was thinking about people I speak to who are not convinced that they can or should blog. In my head I was talking to them and at the same time reminding myself that I want to dedicate more effort to my own blog.
What happened was a post that ended up connecting in a far bigger way than I ever intended. There have been other posts I’ve written that I thought shared meatier information. No one could have been more surprised than I was to receive a flood of response to this post that I wrote on a whim when I had a spare hour to think about blogging as an enjoyable path to success for my clients and myself.
The result reinforced for me in a very personal way that what I’m advocating for others works! When your content really connects it is the most awesome thing!!
Please share some of your stories about how your content has connected.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
The music accompanying this post is about the inspiration I’ve received from everyone I’ve ever met who has committed to a career in the nonprofit sector. I get chills and tears listening to the lyrics of “If I Ruled the World” by Leslie Bricusse and sung here by the spectacular Tony Bennett.
Over the years, I’ve worked with many nonprofits on their marketing and PR programs. The work that nonprofits do is essential to meeting our society’s needs in ways that neither the government nor the private sector can do as well. I consider having non-profit clients a very meaningful part of my practice. I’m writing this post not to be in any way self-serving, but because we need our nonprofits to succeed more than ever!
Although my fees for nonprofits are at a lower rate than for commercial clients, I do not provide my professional services pro bono. I will volunteer in many other ways. However, I believe that marketing is such a mission critical function that I do nonprofit clients no favor by offering a pro bono arrangement. This is a drum I’ve been beating since the stock market crash of 1987 and again in the recessionary aftermath of 9/11.
The topic came rushing back to mind again last week when a respected colleague of mine told me that she had agreed to provide some pro bono web and graphic design services to a local arts group. However, she gave the executive director one condition: No deadlines. She would have to implement the project when she had time, as she owed first priority to her paying clients. This is reality.
And that, my nonprofit friends, is the pro bono trap. You may need a service performed pronto to meet a grant deadline or to announce an important fundraising event. But as the adage warns, “Beggars can’t be choosers.”
When the economy went into the tank in late 2008, many nonprofits immediately cut back or completely curtailed their paid marketing and development activities. So did many for-profit companies to be clear.
During 2009, there were many out-of-work marketers offering free help as a way to keep busy, keep their portfolios fresh or reposition themselves. Admirable that they wanted to turn lemons into lemonade for a good cause.
In 2010, many have either gotten permanent jobs, or transformed themselves into consultants with paying clients.
As the economy improves, nonprofits that have been relying on board members and volunteers to get the word out about their missions, their successes and their funding needs may very well find that they’ve fallen dangerously behind. Pro bono services are generally provided piecemeal in the best of cases. Overall or longer term strategy takes a back seat.
In addition, the world of marketing and PR has changed drastically in the past couple of years. Just putting up a Facebook page – as some organizations have done – does not substitute for preparing to attract meaningful support using online channels. But doing some serious planning and working with professionals – in- or out-of-house – on execution can create never-before-possible efficiencies of scale.
Savvy nonprofit Executive Directors/CEOs need to make a strong case to their boards of directors that marketing is a specialized skill that can’t just be dumped on a volunteer or junior staffer to ‘make it happen’. It goes hand-in-hand with successful development efforts and needs to be in the budget at a serious level every year.
Likewise, foundations and other grantors must recognize that solid and appropriate marketing can help nonprofits leverage funding and improve service to their constituents. Marketing grants need to be more numerous and more generous.
Mind you, I’m not talking about over-the-top direct mail campaigns that, frankly, I find offensive and have written about in the past. Just don’t regard marketing as a frill. Nothing could be farther from reality. As the funding pie shrinks, when it comes to generating revenue it’s the NFP that thinks and acts like a business that will survive to help those who need its services.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 6 so far )
Read on to see why today’s tune is “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” from the new CD “Spiral” by Dr. Lonnie Smith. You can purchase it at your local music store or at www.palmetto-records.com.
As anyone who reads/listens to this blog knows, I’m blown away by jazz. Over the decades I’ve attended countless gigs, jams and festivals. I can’t remember one that wasn’t in some way joyful. Every once in awhile, though, a particular performance stands out from the rest for one reason or another.
Last weekend my darling Jeff surprised me with a Saturday night in New York City to hear the legendary Hammond B-3 organ player Dr. Lonnie Smith play tunes from his new album “Spiral”. Jeff knows I adore the gritty, soulful sound of the B-3 — a throwback to the fifties and sixties.
Now, I’ve heard ‘The Doctor’ many times over the years playing with a who’s who of jazz greats. I knew I’d be in for a sweet hour of music. But this performance reached a particularly exciting level.
Why? The seasoned veteran rounded out a classic jazz organ trio with two incredible young side men – Jamire Williams on drums and Jonathan Kreisberg on guitar. The results of this collaboration across generations – both on the new CD and live — are stunning!
Dr. Smith brought to the stage his deep knowledge of jazz improvisation, and of its roots in gospel and the blues. Williams and Kreisberg brought the dexterity and stamina of youth – along with a bag of fresh ideas. They all brought open minds — the desire and ability to listen to each other with attention and respect.
I’ve never heard ‘The Doctor’ sound better! The huge grin on his face showed elation that the future of his beloved jazz will be bright. I hadn’t heard the other two musicians before, but they were obviously engaged in living up to the legend — and succeeded!
So what does this have to do with marketing? First of all, the battle-scarred B-3 and its ancient amplifier reminded me of the manual Underwood typewriter that was the instrument of my early creative writing. Even though I’ve turned it in for a computer, as a veteran counterpart in my own profession do I identify with Lonnie Smith? You bet!
He confirms the benefit of keeping one’s mind open to what’s new. Next month, for the second year, I’ll be attending the Inbound Marketing Summit near Boston. This event explores the evolution of marketing in our online world. There I’ll collaborate with and learn from the best young minds in marketing today. I’ll be listening attentively for new tools and ideas that I can combine with my experience and judgment to raise my work for clients to soaring new heights.
The marketing world has never been more exciting and I’ve never had more fun at my work. Part of the reason I’m writing this post is to use the lesson from jazz to inspire businesses to embrace the now and the future. Jump in and take a look at how the evolution of marketing technology can make your business more collaborative, creative and successful.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )
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