Category: Advertising

The Influence of P.T. Barnum

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Image credit: washingtonpost.com

By Morgan Berk

The surprising success of Hugh Jackman’s performance in “The Greatest Showman” has brought the name Phineas Taylor Barnum back into the forefront of people’s minds. This seems like the perfect time to reflect on Barnum’s unique publicity methods and how they paved the way for some of the public relations methods we still use today.

America’s Greatest Showman was not a perfect man by any means, but his impact on the age of publicity and press agentry has left a lasting mark on public relations and advertising. A lot can be learned from Barnum and his illustrious career.

Today we know that many of the advertising and publicity tactics used by the self-proclaimed “Prince of Humbugs” were unethical at best. However, while still acknowledging Barnum’s role in the exploitation of marginalized people, it is also important to remember the good and useful things that are part of his legacy.

Advertising existed long before Barnum’s time, but he managed to usher in an era of publicity that took advertising to a whole new level. The following are four advertising or promotion methods we still see today that were brought into the spotlight by P.T. Barnum more than a century ago:

 

  1. The Pseudo-Event
    Pseudo-events, also known as media events, are well planned events orchestrated for the purpose of generating publicity and media attention. These events didn’t earn their name until the term was coined by Daniel Boorstin in 1961. They existed long before P.T. Barnum, but he brought them into prominence with his loud and unapologetic brand of publicity. The “freak shows” that Barnum was most known for are a prime example of pseudo-events, as they existed for no other purpose than to draw in a crowd and stir controversy on the streets and in the newspapers.Today we see a variety of pseudo-events, ranging from press conferences, to award shows and reality TV, all events that exist purely to create news.
  2. Museum Advertising
    To promote his American Museum, Barnum displayed oversized banners on the side of the building to announce new attractions in the museum. This is a tactic that we still see today at major museums such as the Smithsonian.

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    Image source: dailymotion.com

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    Image source: americaninno.com

  3. Concert Promotion
    Lesser known than his circus expertise is Barnum’s foray into the arts. In August 1850, he brought the “Swedish Nightingale” to the United States. The opera singer Jenny Lind was wildly successful in Europe, but virtually unknown in America at that time. Without even hearing her sing, Barnum invited Lind to perform on a tour across America and proceeded to generate incredible amounts of hype surrounding her arrival. Thirty thousand people were there to greet her as she arrived in New York Harbor and her tour went on to net more than a half-million dollars, impressive numbers for 1850. Much of Lind’s success should be attributed to her talent and personality, but credit for the excitement generated before her arrival can be given to Barnum, who began publicizing the tour more than six months in advance.

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    Image source: smithsonianmag.com

    Live music continues to thrive in today’s society, with fans flocking to their favorite musicians’ tours in the thousands. Tickets to see major artists, including Adele, Elton John, Beyonce and Taylor Swift, sell out in mere seconds thanks to the skill of those who promote the tours, many of whom use some of the same tactics that Barnum used to make Jenny Lind a global sensation.

  4. Vehicle Advertising
    The first actual vehicle wrap advertisement was most likely created for Pepsi Co. in 1993 to promote its Crystal Pepsi product. However, advertising on the sides of vehicles is an idea that originated in the age of P.T. Barnum. Barnum would send horse-drawn wagons through New York City that were plastered with posters and signs advertising his American Museum. Walk or drive around today, and you’re likely going to see countless buses, 18-wheelers and other commercial vehicles plastered with various advertisements.

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    Image source: flickr.com

 

When looking back at and discussing historical figures, it is important to remember that people are neither entirely good or bad, or entirely ethical or unethical. Both may exist in the same individual, and neither should be erased. So when the topic of P.T. Barnum next comes up, his shortcomings should indeed be addressed in full measure, but his many contributions to public relations and advertising should be remembered as well. Barnum’s life has left a lasting mark on public relations and advertising, one that is certain to endure much further into the future.

 

Do you have any thoughts on P.T. Barnum, “The Greatest Showman,” or his influence? Let us know in the comments below, and check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

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Get the most out of Instagram: tips for business and personal use

By Jamie Jackson

I love Instagram. I really do. It’s fun to post pictures and to get a sneak peek into strangers’ lives (why is this not a weird statement anymore?).

Instagram is a popular social media outlet for personal use, however, it is also becoming popular among companies for branding and marketing. Here are a few tips to get the most out of Instagram for your business (or even your personal account).

Use brightly colored and well-lit photos

Image credit: Leon Bridges via Instagram

Image credit: Leon Bridges via Instagram

Image credit: Starbucks via Instagram

Image credit: Starbucks via Instagram

An attractive photo stream doesn’t usually involve unedited, dull pictures. Starbucks’ Instagram feed is full of colorful and attractive photos.

However – not all black and white pictures should be thrown in the trash. Leon Bridges’ photo stream has some great examples of how black and white pictures can still be great for Instagram.

Leon is an R&B artist embracing soul music. These black and white images line up perfectly with Leon’s personal brand and the subjects he sings about.

Instagram is effective when people follow you, and you gain followers by giving people what they want. On Instagram, that means aesthetically pleasing photos.

Be personal

No one wants to see another ad on Instagram. Sure, if you’re a clothing store, post pictures of new arrivals. If you have a great new product, it’s okay to feature it in a post. But Instagram shouldn’t be used as an online store. Try something like this:

Image credit: Microsoft via Instagram

Image credit: Microsoft via Instagram

Image credit: Microsoft via Instagram

Image credit: Microsoft via Instagram

Tell stories. Show consumers the faces behind the name.

You are more than an ad agency or a boring, unoriginal company. Show the fun! Unless you really want people to think you’re a boring, unoriginal company – in which case, I’m afraid I can’t help you there.insta

If you use Instagram, actually USE it

Post consistently. Don’t post once or twice, or for a season. If you put an intern in charge of the account, make sure someone else takes over after they leave.

Consistency is key in posting and branding. If you use hashtags on Twitter or Facebook, use the same for Instagram. Use your same logo as the profile picture, link to the same website, use the same voice and use your brand. Instagram provides a unique opportunity to tell your story solely through pictures. As the adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Steward them well.

Be hip

Image credit: McDonald's via Instagram

Image credit: McDonald’s via Instagram

By this, I don’t mean try to use modern slang just because it’s used by young people. You risk misusing or misunderstanding words and phrases, potentially losing credibility and followers. Instead, follow current trends and try to stay fun. This post from McDonald’s is a great example.

Celebrate things like hump day. Be relevant in your posts on holidays or during big world issues. This might seem like it won’t affect sales, but an online presence that seems real and personal is so valuable to a company – especially with younger people.

Evaluate

While Insta is more fun and exciting than a lot of other tools, it’s still very measurable and very valuable. Do it better by evaluating your efforts with Instagram analytics tools. Instagram is great for reaching younger audiences and telling your story with photos. Evaluating any social media effort is a chance to show the C-suite their money is being used well. It also gives coordinators a chance to change their efforts as needed depending on what works and what doesn’t. Evaluation helps to refine and target your audiences and determines if you are indeed reaching them. All efforts are wasteful if not evaluated frequently.

 

Social media is a wonderful branding tool when used properly. Millennials grew up with this stuff, so employ some of them to help you navigate new waters. It’s worth it. Speaking of social, you’ll want to follow IPR on Twitter and Facebook for the latest.

 

Put your pies in the window! A guide to inbound marketing

Image credit: modaweb.co.uk

Image credit: modaweb.co.uk

By Hank Kellerman

You’ve seen it in cartoons: A freshly baked pie is steaming hot and placed on the window sill to cool. The tantalizing aroma begins to drift around the house and finds a hungry character. With a quick flick of it’s cherry scented finger, the character slowly floats up a bit and begins to follow the wonderful smell.

Image credit: tvtropes.org

Image credit: tvtropes.org

Simply put, this is a great example of inbound marketing. In recent years there has been an explosion of inbound marketing across all types of businesses, but more specifically smaller businesses. Inbound marketing is the process of developing online content that is compelling, informative and fulfills your audience’s hunger for the product or services they want or need. Inbound marketing focuses on bringing customers to you versus having customers go out looking for them. This can be done in a multitude of ways, but some of the more common methods include blogs, social media discussions, forums and SEO optimization.

Before you jump head first into the rapid currents of inbound marketing, strap on some water wings and follow these guidelines for developing an inbound marketing strategy.

Develop Buyer Personas

How do you know and write for your audience? If you just write about topics without the proper research, you could fail to reach your desired audience. One tool that can help you create some excellent audience-specific content are your buyer personas. Buyer personas provide the inside scoop about what your customers are like. They can tell you numerous demographic and psychographic details such as their age, income, hobbies, day-to-day activities and more. Developing buyer personas enables you to accurately create specialized online content to address questions and topics focused to your customers.

Image credit: kccommunications.com

Image credit: kccommunications.com

SEO and Keywords

Most people know it is extremely difficult to show up on the front page of Google. Google uses digital spiders to crawl across the Internet and search for the most relevant content on that matches the needs of the search query. To get on the front page, your content must be optimized for search engines by using keywords.

There are a multitude of tools that can be used to find keywords, including the Google Adwords Keyword Planner and Long Tail Pro. These tools help you search for relevant keywords with regards to your topic and also can show you things such as how often a certain word is searched every month, its keyword competitiveness and other sites that use this keyword. If you find the right keyword and include it in your content’s titles and main body paragraphs with great surrounding content, your page will be much more likely to rise from the depths and find itself on the first page of Google search results.

Content is Key

This phrase has been uttered by marketing and public relations professionals millions of times. It also has never been so true. Creating compelling content that is relevant to what your consumers are searching for is only the beginning. For a successful inbound marketing strategy, your content has to be better than great. It has to be amazing.

Anyone can write a blog post about how to rebrand a business, but it takes a talented individual to write an in-depth, informative and star-studded post. You need to create content so great that other sites want to back link (the process of other sites linking to your post or site) to it. This also aids in the chances of your site being found organically by search engines. Search engines will view your site as having more credibility with more back links and, in turn, will lead to your site appearing higher up on search engine results pages.

Image credit: beyond.customline.com

Image credit: beyond.customline.com

How Do You Put This All Together?

Grab your mixing bowl and get ready to bake that aromatic fruit-filled pie that will have your audience flocking to your content. Do your research. Developing buyer personas, finding relevant keywords and writing amazing content all take time and effort. Spend the time to develop these three items and get ready to watch your consumers come to you. The world of marketing is changing rapidly, and the power of the Internet makes it is much easier for your consumers to find you on their own time than it is for you to reach out to them. So what are you waiting for? Start doing your research and that content-rich pie sitting in the window will be too irresistible to pass up.

What do you think? Do you have any inbound marketing strategies? Comment and share your thoughts with us. Also, don’t forget to follow Innovative PR on Facebook and Twitter.

Three ways Marvel is Making “Avengers: Age of Ultron” More Super

by Andrea Mason

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In case you somehow missed it, Marvel and Disney are releasing “Avengers: Age of Ultron” tomorrow. That’s right, you have less than a day to prepare for its awesomeness. Over the last decade, Marvel has built an incredibly strong brand. It continues to strengthen in the midst of the film’s release with different promotions, merchandise and capitalizing on a minor crisis. Let’s take a look at a few ways Marvel is achieving this:

Making the most of a minor crisis

Marvel planned to release its first trailer for the movie during an episode of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” last October. However, according to Variety, an internet troll beat Marvel to the punch, leaking the trailer before it was scheduled. This was not good news for Marvel because there was already a strategic plan to release the trailer. Still, Marvel was able to turn the crisis into an opportunity by posting a tweet that just said, “Dammit, Hydra.” This simplistic tweet–a nod to Captain America fans–received more than 30,000 retweets and 20,000 favorites. Marvel played off of this misfortune and blamed it on the fictional antagonist, which is quite genius.

Reaching out to women

Oddly enough, a mega-franchise like the Avengers hasn’t resonated with female audiences as well as the studios wish. Marvel knows how to change that. Cinema Blend explains that for “Age of Ultron,” Disney released one of its largest licensing programs ever around the film. If you see Iron Man, Thor or Captain America on packages of Sage Fruit, Conagra, Crunch Pak or Chobani, that is Marvel’s strategy to branch out to the female audience. All those products have a significantly high female customer bases (65-67%).

Gillette Razors from Stark Industries

150410080627-gillette-avengers-780x439Marvel teamed up with a number of well-known brands to promote “Age of Ultron.” The Mary Sue lists a few of these brands like Harley Davidson, Gillette, Doritos and Audi. Gillette unveiled a clever campaign with different men’s razors that resemble Avengers characters. With young men being the film’s biggest audience, this partnership makes a lot of sense. Even though these products aren’t real, the idea of using a superhero razor could bring out that inner 9-year-old and make shaving more enjoyable.

Marvel’s brand is well established, but the studio is successfully promoting the movie and continuing to create lasting impressions. Let’s just hope the movie lives up to crowd expectations.

We would love to hear what promotional material, merchandise or other awesome things you have seen from Marvel. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or comment below!

Brand mastery: how Apple gets it right

by Evan Whittaker

In today’s professional world, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t recognize the logo of technology industry giant, Apple. In addition to how strong the company’s brand identity is, consumer perceptions of it are overwhelmingly positive, as evidenced by its current standing as number five on the Fortune 500 list for 2014. Those perceptions are so strong and positive, in fact, that people wait in line for days to receive the company’s newest products while knowing virtually nothing about them.

So, how has Apple managed to amass such a loyal audience and create a powerful brand identity? The answer can be found in the company’s consistent design principles and genius marketing techniques. Let’s take a look at a few of the elements that contribute to Apple’s success.

Improvement, not innovation

You might be surprised to learn that smartphones, portable music players and tablet computers all existed before Apple made its foray into these markets. Many find this surprising since Apple’s iPhone, iPod and iPad have dominated these respective markets since their releases. If Apple wasn’t the first to introduce these products, why have its versions become the most popular? The answer is the company’s focus on improving and refining existing products to entice consumers.

These refinements take various forms: reduced device size for increased portability, simplified operating systems and construction using premium materials. While these may seem like trivial changes, the results are anything but. Consumers would pick up a rival product, then compare it to Apple’s thinner, lighter and more attractive version. Given that, is it any surprise that many would lean toward the latter? There is certainly something to be said for Apple’s focus on improved aesthetics.

It’s not a device, it’s an experience

Apple creates products. What Apple sells, however, are experiences. It’s not a phone with a camera, it’s the ability to capture memories. It’s not a video-chat feature, it’s the ability to be there even when you’re not. It’s not an app store with more than one million apps, it’s infinite possibilities.

Much of Apple’s marketing focuses heavily on emotional appeals. Rather than highlighting what its devices are capable of, Apple highlights what you are capable of if you own those devices. By connecting its products with sentimental activities consumers can relate with, those consumers, in turn, connect Apple itself with those activities.

It’s quite clever, really. Can you really put a price on sharing moments with your loved ones? As it turns out, you can if you’re Apple – it’s $199 with a two-year contract through your wireless carrier.

Join the club (read: cult)

Humans are social creatures. We have an inherent desire to feel included. So when a brand becomes associated with luxury and exclusivity, consumers tend to want it merely in order to feel like they’re a part of the club. It works for high-end fashion and high-end cars; it works for Apple as a high-end technology company.

Line_at_Apple_Store_in_NYCThis is an interesting development that has occurred over time as Apple has employed the marketing tactics listed above. Think of it as a passive benefit the company has attained through active processes. This is not to say that Apple hasn’t acted strategically to drive desirability for using their products, though. Features like AirDrop, iMessage, FaceTime and AirPlay offer improved functionality for those who want to connect with other Apple device users. Now that Apple has managed to position itself as the industry standard in terms of high-end technology, every new product release has consumers clamoring to drink the Apple iKool-Aid.

Summing up

Apple did an incredible job of establishing itself as a technology industry giant. Although its products may not be the first of their kind, premium materials and effective marketing techniques are sure to convince many that they are the best. With all of the hype surrounding the new Macbook and Apple Watch released this month, Apple’s streak of successful product launches and sustained brand loyalty are showing no signs of stopping.

What’s your opinion on Apple? Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and let us know.

 

The importance of product placements in television

by Kristina Keeling

Waynes World Pizza HutProduct placement in television has become more important to marketers because of the way people are watching television. Viewers are able to skip over commercials and enjoy shows without any interruptions. Product placement advertises to consumers subliminally, if done correctly. However, marketers are becoming more aggressive with product placement promotions to reach their audiences.

How does it work?

To put it simply, product placement is when a company pays to have its product showcased on a television show or in a movie, but a lot more goes into product placement than we think. The film, “Man of Steel,” had more than 100 product partners, earning close to $160 million before it hit theaters. Product placement is also in books, video games and even on YouTube. When done successfully, product placements can have lasting impact on viewers. Some agencies actually specialize in product placement promotion because of high demand.

HERO

HERO, an advertising agency in Los Angeles, specializes in product placements. Its clients have placed products on well-known shows, such as “Two and a Half Men,” “Glee,” and “The Good Wife,” just to name a few. Its website states that “the brands in a viewer’s favorite shows have a much higher likelihood of becoming that viewer’s favorite brand.”

House of Cards

PS Vita MemeThe Netflix original series “House of Cards” is notorious for its not-so-subtle product placements. The series had such an overload of notable products that the Los Angeles Times said, “House of Cards? More like House of Product Placement,” mocking the hit TV series for its poor use of product placements. The very first sentence of the first episode referenced a Toyota Prius. Netflix spent a total of $100 million producing the first season, but offers no disclosures of any paid product placement, only crediting the product partners by saying all logos were “used with permission.”

Now that “House of Cards” is in its third season it is confirmed by Advertising Age that Anheuser-Busch is the exclusive beer brand for the series, along with Samsung being the tech-of-choice. Anheuser-Busch is not paying for this placement however, but rather supplying production with its product. Samsung also offered its customers Netflix subscriptions when buying select Samsung products. It is rumored that Coca-Cola, Dell and Nike are all working with “House of Cards” for similar deals.

Modern Family

JULIE BOWEN, ED O'NEILL, ADAM DEVINE, SARAH HYLAND, TY BURRELLThe Emmy Award-winning series, “Modern Family,” now on its sixth season, is another show littered with product placement. Steven Levitan, executive producer and creator, said the show turns down about 90 percent of its product placement offers, and for a good reason. ABC wants to stay true to the characters on its show. The Toyota Prius, an environmentally-friendly car, appeared on the first season, driven by Mitchell Pritchett, who is an environmental attorney. It wouldn’t make sense for him to drive a gas-guzzling truck.

“Connection Lost,” a recent episode of “Modern Family” has sky rocketed to the top of the list of brilliantly used product placement. The episode was shared with viewers entirely through Claire Dunphy’s MacBook Pro. In the episode, Claire is trying to find her daughter after having a huge fight, but she is stuck at the airport and has to use Facebook, iCloud, the app, Find Your iPhone and FaceTime to track her down. The episode didn’t feel like one long commercial, cleverly blurring the lines between entertainment and advertising.

Is this all too much?

Products are everywhere. Your favorite character is going to have to make a phone call or use a computer for research, so why not have them use an Apple product to do so? What do you think? Have “Modern Family” and “House of Cards” gone too far with product placement? Let us know in the comments below.

Advertising win: Unfinished Business’ stock photos

by Jonathan Haile

Stock photos are obviously staged, somewhat awkward and often very expensive. There is rarely anything unique about them. The same thing can be said about promotional campaigns for upcoming movies. There is usually a poster, then a teaser, then a trailer, and finally TV and print ads. The funny thing is that when stock photos meet film promotions, you find a fresh way to get people interested in your movie. Kudos to marketers behind Twentieth Century Fox’s new film, Unfinished Business.

About the film

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Vaughn, Franco and Wilkinson lead the next great business team.

In the movie, actors Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson and Dave Franco (playing an inexperienced business pro named Mike Pancake) head off to Europe, bidding to win the business of a huge client, but the trip goes awry. With Vaughn at the helm, you can expect this won’t be a film for families.

The images, available for free on Getty Images, are perfect spoofs of easily recognizable stock images. In the series of photos, you’ll see Vaughn, Franco and Wilkinson (clearly Photoshopped) looking positive and productive, and positioned to exude ideal business professionals in their ideal work environments. While a lot of companies aim to be more appealing to the public with senses of humor, it’s not hard to imagine seeing this on a website soon.

Why this is great

HBO wins for creativity.

As I touched upon above, movie promotion involves a formulaic process. The process is the most effective way to get people into theater seats. That’s why studio films make money hand over fist, and independent films don’t. The process is boring, but marketers do a lot of things, big and small, to energize the campaigns. My favorite example is (bear in mind, for a television show) HBO’s placement of a giant dragon skull on an English beach; a promotion for its hit series, Game of Thrones.

istock-unfinished-business-hed-2015Granted Fox’s use of stock photos is significantly smaller, in scale and effort, than a beach dragon, doing something new is always appreciated by marketers and film fans, alike. Will the movie be good? That remains the big question, but in the meantime, I’ll continue to commend whoever thought of this idea. I hope those looking for business-related photos on Getty Images are doing double-takes and laughing at what they find.

Do you like the Unfinished Business’ new approach? Will you see the film this Friday? Let us know by commenting, and follow Innovative PR on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Celebrity endorsement: Is it worth the investment?

by Andrea Mason

38-Bieber-EPA

If you’re like me, you’ve flipped through the television channels and a commercial for Calvin Klein comes on with Justin Bieber in his underwear, accompanied by Lara Stone. You may wonder, with an exasperated sigh, “What is Bieber doing now?” The answer is that Justin and Lara are promoting the campaign, My Calvins. Though is it actually helping the brand?

Recognizing the brand

What do celebrities and companies have in common? They are both looking to gain publicity and brand recognition.

As many consumers and fans are aware, Beyoncé is the face of Pepsi. This gives Pepsi the advantage of attracting Beyoncé’s fan base. This ongoing partnership that began in 2012 helped Beyoncé appear at the top of Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list in 2014. Beyoncé is a very well-known celebrity who creates a positive reputation for herself, Pepsi and the other brands she promotes. Putting two well-known brands together, such as Pepsi and Beyoncé, is bound to generate recognition.

Celebrities cost money

Celebrity endorsement is nothing new. A company’s main goal is to increase sales. Some brands even feel the need to take on more than one celeb, such as Nike using Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and a long list of other athletes. After surveying a group of consumers in 2014, Ace Metrix found that 55 percent believe celebrities are actually a wasted investment due to the damaging impact they can have when promoting a product or service.

Although Jordan retired in 2003, which is more than 10 years ago, the Air Jordan’s Brand is still a highly sought out shoe. When thinking about the investment Nike pays, Jordan still receives an estimated $90 million a year. This is obviously a lot of money, especially if you add Jordan’s $90 million to the other salaries of athlete endorsers who partner with Nike. It is evident that the money Nike funnels into these partnerships exceeds some companies’ worth. A brand has to go through an immense amount of research and planning before a company decides to hire a celeb endorser.

The importance of credibility

Consumers buy a particular product or service for many reasons. The Ace Metrix research study also found that 57 percent of consumers are more willing to buy a product or service they see advertised, if there are statistics with supportive evidence.

kim-kardashian-famous-person

For example, during the 2015 Sunday Super Bowl, one commercial that stuck out was T-Mobile’s ad with Kim Kardashian as its celeb spokesperson. Kardashian tries to gives some information to back up her message by saying, “Each month millions of gigs of unused data are taken back by wireless companies…” Though, knowing her reputation for celeb drama, viewers likely wonder if she’s really that credible.

We would love to hear about any thoughts, questions or opinions you have on celebrity endorsements! Feel free to leave a comment below or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

3 Millennial Marketing Challenges

by Erin Robinson

Millennial pic

Millennials. We have all heard the term, but do we understand its meaning and importance? Before exploring the challenges of marketing to millennials and some helpful ways to overcome them, let’s take a look at who millennials are and why marketing to this generation is so vital to the success of companies and brands.

Who millennials are and why they’re important

Millennials are individuals born from 1977-1995 and they represent 25 percent of the US population, according to Barkley’s report, “American Millennials: Deciphering the Enigma Generation.” There are millions of them, over 82 million to be specific. They spend money, with an annual purchasing power at $200 billion. Lastly, they are making gateway purchases, which Bulldog Reporter Editor Talia Sinkinson defines as, “choices that can influence brand allegiance for the rest of their lives.”

Overcoming millennial marketing challenges

While every company may have different challenges in its efforts to market to millennials, I am going to focus on a few of the most common from my own perspective as a millennial.

#1: Grabbing millennials’ attention

We are exposed to thousands of marketing messages every day, so creating something that is going to stand out in the clutter and remain in our minds is no easy feat.

Fix: Make us feel like a part of your brand, use visuals to engage us and inspire us to take action. Do what hasn’t been done. We like new and bold.

#2: We don’t like when you try to blatantly sell us things

Millennials can sniff out an advertisement from a mile away. We are so inundated with advertisements that we begin to resent them all together and we find ways to block them out any chance we get.

Fix: Sell your story rather than your product. Find a way to relate your brand to us personally and tap into our emotions a bit. We love a good story and want to support things that make us feel good about ourselves. When companies or brands find ways to engage us without yelling “BUY ME!!!” we appreciate it.

#3: Keeping up with us isn’t easy

Our world is constantly changing, especially when it comes to technology. We are also always connected, so we are aware of what is going on around us.

Fix: The companies and brands that keep up with changes and trends in technology and adapt their marketing messages to what is going on around us will be the most successful. Pay attention to what we are talking about and find a clever way into the conversation.

Moral of the story

Marketing to millennials should be at the top of companies’ priority list and will benefit them tremendously if done the right way.

Stay connected with Innovative PR by “following” us on Twitter and “liking” us on Facebook.

What does the popularity of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge mean for Public Relations?

by Jordan Rafferty

ice-bucket-challenge

Over the past few months we have seen it all over our Facebook newsfeeds, the Ice Bucket Challenge. Some of us are annoyed that it has been the only thing we see. Others don’t mind it because they know it is for a good cause. BUT IS IT FOR A GOOD CAUSE? Protestors say people are wasting clean water to avoid having to donate. The numbers speak differently. The Ice Bucket challenge has generated more than $100 million in donations, not to mention how much awareness it has raised. Like many others, I didn’t even know what ALS was until the Ice Bucket Challenge appeared.

Just what does the Ice Bucket Challenge have to do with PR?

If I were the PR person for the ALS Association, I would be rejoicing! Their goal is obviously to raise the awareness of ALS and generate donations and the challenge did EXACTLY that. The only problem is that the PR person did nothing. Their goal was met, but not by them. A group of friends started the challenge, meant to be just between them, and it went viral. Now, according to a Huffington Post article, nonprofit organizations are rethinking how they are spending their money, meaning they want to cut back their public relations budgets.

Are we going to lose job opportunities because of this?

Organizations are now thinking that maybe they don’t need to spend as much money on public relations efforts. They believe they just need to come up with a creative way to generate buzz about their cause. The problem with this is that, yes, it will work sometimes, but this “accept a challenge or donate to charity” is just a fad. Although I agree that it is an awesome thing to raise awareness, I just don’t agree this tactic is right for every organization. There have been attempts to imitate the Ice Bucket Challenge. An example of this is the Rubble Bucket Challenge. This is to raise awareness of the aftermath of the airstrike against Gaza. Instead of using freezing water they are taking buckets of rubble from the streets and dumping it over themselves. While it generated some buzz, it didn’t generate enough. This is just one example of a failed Ice Bucket Challenge imitation.

Because of this I don’t believe that nonprofits are going to be cutting back their public relations dollars like the article said. Instead, I believe they are going to want to spend more. The Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS was a coincidence. Those people who started it did not know it was going to be so popular. That isn’t going to happen for everyone. Organizations are going to want to hire creative minds to think of similar ways to generate awareness and donations. Who knows better than public relations folk?

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