Cheers to Our Q2 Coverage Recap!

It’s always nice to stop mid-year – as we are simultaneously embroiled in summer pitching and long-lead holiday gift guide outreach; product launches and trade show scheduling – and reflect on the excellent client coverage we’ve garnered the past quarter. Per usual our team has managed to secure earned media in some of the most recognized, respected and widely circulated outlets in the world from Mashable to Fast Company to Christian Science Monitor to Forbes.

We look forward to a successful second half! Prost!

Baby Gourmet: The Baby Spot; Emmits ABCs

Bright Endeavors: Christian Science Monitor; Newsday; Unite 4: Good Magazine; Earth911Celebrate Women Today; Michelle For Good; Beauty Brite; Conscious & Chic; Let’s Be Fair

Go Gourmet: Grocery Headquarters Magazine; Macaroni Kid ChicagoMommy on the MoundMagnolia Mamas; Bike Dads; Today’s Grocer Magazine 

New Avenues INK/dfrntpigeon: MashableFast Company; Hello Giggles; Yahoo NewsThe Portland Mercury; Oregon Live; Oregon Live; Portland Tribune; Special Events Magazine; Portland Monthly Magazine

PilotsFriend: City Parent Magazine; City Palate Magazine; Eating is the Hard Part

RecycleForce: TriplePunditForbes.com; American Recycler Magazine; Conscious Company Magazine; Waste360

Total 3D Solutions: Extreme Tech; Chip Chick; Air Vuz; Rotor Drone Magazine’s May issue

Women’s Bean Project: Weight Watchers Magazine, April issue

Questions Every Social Enterprise Should Ask When Embarking On A PR Campaign

 

My team has had the pleasure of working with Chicago based social enterprise Bright Endeavors for several months as part of a larger partnership with REDF, a San Francisco based non-profit dedicated to investing in double bottomline enterprises. Bright Endeavors employs at-risk young moms in candle production and aims to break the cycle of poverty through job training.

Over the months, I’m proud to say we’ve successfully garnered a fantastic media mix of product reviews (Earth911Inc.comBusiness News Daily, ) and social good company profiles (Christian Science Monitor, Forbes, Unite:4Good) resulting in increased site traffic and sales. Because REDF has many non-profits which could benefit from Public Relations, our campaigns must wrap after several months’ time to spread the opportunity throughout the portfolio. Recently I received the following list of questions from Bright Endeavors’ Sales & Marketing Coordinate, Allie Sundet on how to best continue to leverage the momentum created by Remark. I’m sharing these here as I believe these are questions all social enterprises should be considering when looking towards towards a building or maintaining a PR campaign that is both effective and manageable.

  1. How does Remark determine the appropriate news outlet/type (blogger, influencer, online magazine, gift guides, etc.) to reach out to? About how many/week?
  2. How do you divide your time between reaching out to the various outlets, is more time spent on bloggers than another source, for example?

  3. What are some tips for building a media database?

  4. What tends to be an initial ‘pitch’ or ask? Do you have any tips for creating an engaging story that will hook the influencer/publication?

  5. How many times do you typically follow up after the initial pitch? Are product samples necessary for each outlet?

  6. What are some tips for creating a successful PR strategy?

  7. How do you measure success of this strategy?

  8. How much lead time do outlets typically need to ensure timely publication? For example, when is a good time to start pushing stories for the holidays?

      9. What are some strategy ideas around promoting our candle rental service in the spring/summer        months?

Q1 is for Coverage

It’s hard to believe it’s almost tax time for 2017 as I type this. Where has the quarter gone? Our team’s been busy securing phenomenal coverage for our amazing clients and it’s always fun to pause for a minute, reflect and share.

Baby Gourmet: Latin Moms Tips, Emmet’s ABC, Clean, Green & Sprouted

Bright Endeavors: ForbesBeautyNewsNYC, Hippie and Heart, Caravan Style StudioSimply Annie, Chic Metro Magazine, Across the Avenue, Posh Beauty Blog, Daily Mom, Sugarly, My Style Spot, Shabby Chic Boho, Beauty Style Watch

Cinemizer: Forbes, Oscar Liang, A Luxury Travel blog

Go Gourmet: Runner’s World Magazine, Everything Changes, SnackDot’s Youtube, Hula Hooping Mom, New and Natural Mom, OC Register Family, Montgomery County Moms 

Lindy & Co: Pet Age Magazine, Fido Friendly

Micro Drone 3.0: HuffPost, The Gear Junkie

Mile High Workshop: Forbes.com

PilotsFriend: City Palate Magazine, Skies Magazine, Plenty Magazine, Le Spark, Her Modern Canvas, almostfamous, Carlivh.com, eating is the hard part

RecycleForce: Your Mark on the World

Women’s Bean Project: Weight Watchers Magazine (March print issue), Spry Living Magazine (Feb print issue), Eco18.com, Parade.com, Chicago Tribune

December Coverage: Rounding Out The Year With A Bang!

(Photo courtesy of www.sugarthegoldenretriever.com)

From Inc.com and CNNMoney to HelloGiggles and Today.com, we delight in seeing our clients clean up when it comes to earned media. Whether your thing is quality or quantity, December’s roundup has something for everyone:

Baby Gourmet: won over Canadian moms and babies in Emmett’s ABCsMom Knows BestLiving the Mommy LifeThe Mixed BagA Moms Perspective, Moscato MomBohemian Babushka

BeeLove: can’t stop the buzz in Headlines for the Hopeful, UpTown Magazine, Darling MagazineHello Glow, Uncovered.com

Bright Endeavors: shines in Inc MagazineChicago Woman, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, The Hunter CollectorHello Glow, ShabbyChicBoho, PRCouture, MarinoBambinos, EcoCult, Fountain of 30, Studio Matsalla, The Bottle Blonde and TomKat Studio

Mile High Workshop: is building brand and community awareness in CNNMoney, Colorado Country Life, 5280 Magazine and Budget Dumpster

Slammers Snacks: satisfied the tastebuds of The Supermarket Guru and Triathlete Magazine (print)

Total 3D Solutions: Essence Magazine recommends the Cinemizer for it’s luxury travel gift guide

Truly Pawsome: received some, well, pawsome coverage in Today.comHelloGigglesTails Magazine and Golden Woofs

Women’s Bean Project: enjoyed delicious coverage in BuzzFeedPOPSugar, Food 52Petite Foodie, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, OnMogul, Sandi Klein ShowWith Our Best, Cookistry, PBFingers, Tonia’s Kitchen, Soulicious Life, TeresaBergen, BeachBody and Queen of Reviews

3 Simple Tips for (Creatively) Measuring PR ROI

 

Whenever I see a headline offering to help measure PR ROI for clients, I get really excited and hope to learn something useful on such an elusive topic. To be able to quantify the work we do for clients in a real way would be extremely rewarding to the media relations discipline at large.

In the past, firm data has been largely absent with many PR pros showing clients what an ad buy (or Advertising Value Equivalent) would cost in the same outlet the client’s brand was featured in. While showing clients how expensive advertising in top tier media is (vs. paying a PR firm a monthly retainer to get inclusion for free in multiple outlets) indeed eye-opening, it’s not the same as showing how many eyes see the August issue of say, Shape Magazine, or the viewership of a specifc segment on Good Morning America. Comparing PR to the cost of advertising also isn’t an indicator of sales potential. If a brand’s $20,000 bicycle gets a mention in Shape Magazine and the ad value of the mention is $336,700*, it’s a pointless effort if the price range is out of reach for Shape’s readership.

So have we made strides in measuring PR ROI? Unfortunately where posts on measurement are concerned, the headline usually ends up being the most interesting part of – I’ll be honest – the fluff piece that follows. By fluff piece I mean the article is vague stating tips such as ‘you should measure coverage impact on a brand’ without sharing insights on how to do it. At Remark, we try and take an imperfect science and simplify the process of quantifying our media and social reach on behalf of our client’s brands. Below are three specific ways Remark measures ROI:

  • Media Relations: In addition to overall unique monthly views (UMV) across an outlet, increasingly bloggers and digital media sites will often have number of reads, reach or shares on each article. When we receive coverage, It’s always interesting to take the number of reads from a specific post and compare to our clients’ resulting Google Analytics report to show how much traffic each piece drives to their site. From here PR pro’s can easily calculate the conversion rate from the number of shares or reads the article has garnered overall, coupled with it’s outlet’s listed monthly reach and finally compared to a brand’s site traction per outlet. We recommend cherrypicking a few media hits weekly to see which hits are driving the most traffic. Then figure out if the spikes in traffic are also correlating into spikes in sales and/or customer acquisition through app downloads. Interestingly, many of our clients report spikes similar to national coverage resulting from posts by smaller outlets with hyper-engaged audiences. Here the writer has devoted time testing the product or service, taking his or her own photography and videos to accompany the post and sometimes even introduces a use case for the product our client had never considered before. Not only does Remark often recycle these blogger insights into new pitches, we also tend to treat these folks like ambassadors, offering first looks at upcoming launches and news.
  • Media Contests: Ah. The popular sister to any media review. If our client can spare product, we encourage giveaways as often as possible to pump up excitement and interaction from their target audience. After the contest ends, many bloggers will send over a recap of total engagement but you can also see how many entries a contest garnered and check out the comment thread by revisiting the post once the contest wraps. For example, one of our Consumer Product clients makes snacks for school-aged kids and is very generous about participating in blogger run contests. For the price of between $25 – $50 worth of snack prizes we can easily accumulate upwards of one thousand participants, each of whom increase their chances of winning by tweeting, pinning, sharing on FB, Google+, Instagram and commenting on the thread below the post… you get the point. During the contest’s run we ask the brand’s social team to track each channel and let us know if they also see a spike in followers and fans and overall activity on those platforms.
  • Survey through Social Media: Just ask! We encourage established clients to put their social networks to work and a great first step is simply asking their fans and followers how they found out about the product/service/company. If the client can incentivize the audience by randomly rewarding a couple respondents with said product/service, there’s an even better chance at increasing feedback and engagement. And what better way to focus PR efforts than in the very places our clients gain the majority of customers. Going deeper into surveying an engaged audience, we encourage our clients to take quarterly polls of their fans, asking questions which help with say, R&D, and then we take the responses and turn them into infographics to share with media or brand studies to share with buyers. Using our snack client again as an example, we may ask their 30,000 Facebook fans how they ensure kids eat healthy while at school or how they pick snacks to include in lunch boxes. Then we distill the responses down into the top five or so categories and post these in infographic form back to our channels and provide them to the media as assets. The sales team can use these while calling on purchasers at supermarkets.

These are just a few examples on how we simplify a complicated and debated and surprisingly creative topic. Our team is constantly on the search for new best practice insights, so please, share your PR measurement strategies and exciting new technologies we may not have heard of. We look forward to being inspired.
*reference is from CisionPoint media database

Social entrepreneurs, taglines and reflection

At Remark we realize how lucky we are to do the work we love with inspirational clients and thought leaders in one of the greatest cities in the world. Recently our team was asked by Ardice Farrow, founder and director of NET Effects, to help come up with a remarkable (see what we did here?!) tagline for her company. NET Effects, is built on championing disenfranchised women in Cambodia – employing and training women who have been disfigured by land mines, blinded and are hearing impaired – and paying them a fair wage to create beautiful bags and totes. In fact every 15-20 pieces sold in U.S. provides fair wage for one month for a woman in Cambodia.

The branding assignment got us thinking: how do we succinctly convey what NET Effects stands for? Do we focus on the fact that the brand provides a net to a family in need with every sale? Do we focus on the women creating the beautiful accessories who have lived hard lives and are prospering because of conscious consumerism? Do we take the zero waste angle because NET Effects repurposes remnants and end pieces of agricultural and industrial netting for their bags?

This exercise resulted in a healthy dose of reflection. We’ve always believed in the importance of giving back. Remark has worked with many deserving clients on a pro-bono basis and felt especially fortunate we are able to do so. More importantly we get to work with clients who are truly leaving the world a better place.

We are fueled knowing our success will help sell bags and ultimately allow Ardice and NET Effects to hire and train more women in Cambodia and supply nets to reduce the spread of disease to families around the world. And that is something our team can be proud of.

If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead: 3 smart strategies to replace ‘Going Viral’

When I first started practicing PR over a decade ago going viral meant, in the mind of almost every client, getting their product on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Then in 2011 Oprah went off air ending her reign as queen of daytime Talk. I barely had time to breathe a sigh of relief – maybe clients will want to diversify their media goals now! – before affordable digital cameras made it possible for the masses to take a stab at creating videos with the sole purpose of going viral. The more brands saw these speedily produced videos gaining views, the more they wanted to replicate that success. “Can you get us on Oprah?” was replaced by “Can you make sure our  {corporate ad} video gets five million views minimum? We want to go viral!” (for those of you out there doubting the stressfulness of working in PR, imagine trying to force a pair of shoelaces go viral.)

There are some in the industry who argue virality is passive — a virus spreads or infects by its own means, whereas content people choose to pass on is an active choice. As interesting as this concept is, the point I want to make is there are better ways to talk about earning extensive media reach. I’ve outlined my top three tactics below:

Porous-Platform Storytelling – a phrase created by Remark to emphasize the value of  structuring social media campaigns so that each medium does what it does best; for example, a cookbook recipe might be introduced on Youtube as a how-to video, expanded through Instagram as a series of visual steps, pinned as a board on Pinterest linking to the cookbook shopping cart, and then on Facebook as video with an expanded description. Each social stream needs to be self-contained so you don’t need to have seen the Youtube video to enjoy the images, and vice versa. Any given platform is a point of entry into the cookbook as a whole.

Spreadability – This idea comes from the book Spreadable Media Co-authored by Henry Jenkins. Now that the power of sharing has caught up to the power of content, spreadability, or the ease in which news moves across media landscapes, should be given as much thought as content creation itself. Spreadability focuses on driving robust engagement across platforms through empowering consumers to share the gift of content subjectively.

Consistency and relevancy – good old-fashioned consistency and relevancy are crucial to building consumer trust in a brand’s message. This strategy is so simple we often forget it’s importance. Post as often as makes sense for the brand and share content that makes sense for its audience and social platform. Once a post or two resonates, consumers will often become repeat customers; that is, they’ll begin seeking out relevant content posted by the company, interacting with the content and sharing it.

Next time a client requests you or your firm to make sure their video, image or campaign goes viral, try using the three tactics to frame your response and strategy.

The Part PR Plays in a Brand’s Marketing Funnel

Marketing FunnelMost companies already know PR is the first step to ‘getting found’ and pushing leads into a brand’s Marketing Funnel. However PR also trickles down into every layer within the funnel. Earned media is often shared across a brand’s social channels along with PR provoked user generated content to create a constant stream of robust social activity. Follow up PR often spurs testimonials from media and consumers which can be used in a brand’s digital ads as well as in new pitch angles when reaching out to relevant media.

The cycle never ends. Even after leads are converted into sales, a good PR team will then mine for a brand’s genuine advocates – whether they are consumer or business use cases – dropping the resulting case studies, success stories, surveys and testimonials back into the top of the funnel so a brand can engage new prospects while continuing to build brand credibility.

Owning the Media Mix: Benefits of Coverage on (relatively) Small Blogs

Mediasign

Clients often ask how our team determines which bloggers we work with on their behalf and the difference in quality of coverage offered by ‘top tier’ national outlets vs. bloggers with smaller audiences. For the purposes of this post, I’ll use Baby Gourmet, our organic baby food and consumer goods client based in Canada, as a case study.

The first criteria for determining any media outreach is target audience. For Baby Gourmet we focus on a media mix of bloggers, news sites, broadcast, magazines and trade verticals with primarily Canadian readerships interested in parenting, baby + toddler, organic foods and recipes.

The media mix is important because while coverage in national magazines and news sites can be great for a brand’s bottom line and as a tool for the sales team, bloggers with smaller but passionate audiences are sometimes more influential to their readerships. For one thing smaller bloggers tend to write extensive posts with a lot of site link backs and original photography while many times national media coverage may include Baby Gourmet combos in a roundup with competitor brands or simply feature a stock photo with a couple lines of description in the ‘Healthy Snacks’ section of its monthly issue. It’s rare for one brand to get a full spread in a national magazine or make the first page of the paper without either controversy or a really well-known C-team or entrepreneur driving the coverage.

The media mix is also a great way to ensure consistent coverage and therefore good brand SEO, which is helpful as more people tend to do quick online searches before trying a new product or service. For Baby Gourmet, it’s important to have endorsements from the bloggers consumers consider ‘real moms’ especially when deciding between a brand for their baby. More frequently these decisions are made with a quick Google search from the grocery aisle.

Bloggers are also a great resource for beefing up a brand’s social media following. In Baby Gourmet’s case, some mom blog giveaways have resulted in thousands of reader entries, weeks of constant post re-tweets, and augmented the brand fan base on twitter, Insta, Facebook. All this great social buzz for the price of a case of baby food pouches! I encourage any consumer goods brand to try and be generous with product if possible.

It is in a bloggers best business interest to heavily promote brands and contests for their readers, not only to attract new readers and brands but also to increase the Klout of their outlet by constantly re-engaging loyal readers.

While the goal of this post is to highlight why it’s important to maintain a rolling media mix and the benefit of engaging smaller bloggers, it mainly focused on a product PR campaign. There is so much more that goes into a hard-hitting media mix. Sticking with the Baby Gourmet campaign example, we also pitch the company founders for profile pieces and submit their expert bylines in pertinent outlets. We execute timely campaigns such as Healthy Halloween and 10 Years in Business milestones. We research and reach out with trends in feeding baby and recipe ideas. We set up face-to-face press meetings around new product launches and at trade shows. We track, nominate and submit for awards and pitch speaking engagement opportunities.

I’m interested to hear thoughts on the PR side as to what makes a good media mix and the media side about potential to increase brand awareness by working with bloggers. Thanks for reading!

Case Study: Tinsel

Tinsel logopng

Challenge: Tinsel reached out to Remark while pursuing funding via an Indiegogo campaign. Their inaugural product offering, The Dipper necklace/headphone combo wouldn’t be available for six months but the holidays were approaching and the team didn’t want to miss an opportunity to get some gift guide coverage and increase pre-orders.  Additionally, Tinsel was looking for a long term launch partner to build short-lead buzz leading up until The Dipper became available and strategically align consumer coverage in long lead publications to hit at that time as well.

Solution:  Remark decided on a flexible multi-pronged approach for the Tinsel campaign spanning mid-November through May. Acting fast the team focused on short-lead inclusion in Black Friday and Holiday Gift Guide roundups resulting in The Dipper being included in Gift Guides on Vogue.com, HuffPost Style, HuffPost Black Voices, Bustle.com and Brit + Co to name a few.

We have a lot planned for Tinsel in 2016 and look forward to updating this case study with more top-tier wins and strategy insights!