Archive | October, 2008

MeetUps of Note – TechBoise & Idaho PRSA

28 Oct

If you have room on your calendar, some dates to save to broaden your knowledge of Boise’s tech industry and to engage in conversations about the role of Corporate PR.

First up – tomorrow’s meeting of TechBoise at the newly opened VengaWorks in Meridian (the launch pad for business!), featuring VengaWorks VP Andrew Piron, VengaWorks Resident – R2EV CEO Alex LivingstonCradlePoint Technology‘s Director of Marketing Don Bush, and TechBoise founder Tac Anderson with his thoughts on the state of tech in the Valley.

Wednesday, October 29th at 6:30pm at VengaWorks in Meridian. 943 Overland Road (853-2424)
There is a Facebook page set up to RSVP.

Then on November 17, Idaho’s PRSA chapter holds its quarterly lunch-time meeting titled Protecting Your Organization and Reputation Through the Truth, featuring the National PRSA President Jeff Julian.
The details from PRSA:

A great myth in business is that most Public Relations professionals lie, spin, or distort information to influence others. The truth is, many PR people are accredited professionals and/or are members of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). The PRSA Code of Ethics does not stand for anything less than the truth and the highest ethical standards in the practice of Public Relations. Please join PRSA National Chapter President Jeff Julian as he guides us through a discussion about some very real and sensitive challenges related to getting to and then telling the truth. During this session we will explore:
– The pitfalls of becoming a blind spokesperson (someone who simply delivers information)
– How to discover the truth
– Go to more than one source
– Ask the right questions
– How to get others to the truth
– Clients and management
– How to protect the truth
– Recovery from relaying false information as a result of being wrongly informed
– What to do when important information has been omitted
– How to find common ground between PR and Legal Depts. 
Meeting Monday, Nov 17 from 11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m. at the Owyhee Plaza
RSVP by Nov. 12 to Robbie Johnson, Rjohnson@achd.ada.id.us, 208.387.6228

In light of numerous recent occurrences… it should be a dynamic and insightful discussion.

Look forward to seeing you at either meeting!

-Jess

Make The Jump – the Economy, TweetBeeps & Ducks

27 Oct

It’s the Economy, Stupid – Just returned from a great trip to speak at the NewWest Real Estate & Development in the Northern Rockies conference – where the best speaker of them all was Chris Thornberg of Beacon Economics. For the first time I used hashtags on Twitter to relay some of the high points of presentations by Chris and others (you can check out the feed here). Some of my favorite gems…
In the long run the best mechanism for getting people to do the right thing is the price mechanism”
“As economists we are trained to NOT rely on the good nature of people”
“McCain saying ‘if we can stop home prices from falling we’ll fix the economy’ is like saying ‘if we can stop gravity we can fly’

“Investing in this market is like a giant game of dodgeball – we’re all trying not to get hit.”

OH on Wall Street – ‘There are only two positions out there: cash and fetal’

Chris makes all of his presentations available through his website.

TweetBeeps – Chalk it up to another great early adopter sending out a link via Twitter or FriendFeed (can’t remember which now!) that turned me on to TweetBeeps. Essentially, Google Alerts for Twitter. As the site proclaims, Keep track of conversations that mention you, your products, your company, anything! You can even keep track of who’s tweeting your website or blog, even if they use a shortened URL (like tinyurl.com). Great for online reputation management, catching all your @replies, finding job/networking opportunities, keeping up on your favorite hobby, and more!

Ducks – Had to pass along this great quote about entrepreneurs. Thanks to Ronn Torossian for passing on the comment from client Sakiya Sandifer (who knows who first uttered it!) “He described entrepreneurs as being much like ducks.  Ducks appear to be floating smoothly and easily across the water at all times, when in reality, underneath the water their legs are constantly kicking, flapping and fighting to keep moving.”

A Great Interview – And finally, a nugget courtesy of NPR on what makes a great interview. In this case, the outlet in discussion was Terri Gross’s Fresh Air. Here’s a snippet from producer Amy Salit which actually applies to interviews with all mediums.
“[On] radio… you can feel if the person is speaking spontaneously. If they are, you can hear them thinking through their ideas. Their passion and enthusiasm comes through. They need to be talking to Terry instead of giving a lecture. I also like to hear something new, either to help explain a situation in society, or to reveal something new about a celebrity guest.”

Have a great start to your week!

-Jess

Marketing through the Slowdown (or whatever you prefer to call ‘now’!)

23 Oct

No matter what event I attend, client I talk to, or friend I share wine with – the conversation inevitably turns to ‘How are you doing right now considering the economy?’ and ‘What are companies doing differently – or not at all – because of the slowdown/downturn/depression/recession?’ (all labels are on the table!)

The folks at NewWest had a crystal ball when they designed their 3rd Annual Real Estate & Development in the New West conference for Oct 23-24 in Missoula. Early this summer they reached out to several professional communicators (including this blog author) to participate in a round-table on ‘Marketing Through the Slowdown’.  Months later and on the eve of the conference, it is more crucial than ever to know how to market yourself, your business, your product and your clients in this new business climate.

Joining me on the panel are:
Bridget Cavanaugh, O’Berry Cavanaugh
Stacy Kendrick, Partners Creative
Ross Rademacher, Maverick Group
Jeff Welch, Mercury Advertising
Moderator: Jonathan Weber, NewWest.Net

It is a long – but breathtaking – drive from Boise to Missoula, and I’m looking forward to hearing from my peers on the panel and those in attendance on how their markets are reacting to the slowdown – and what they are doing to get through.

Among the thoughts I’ll be sharing on strategic communications…

It’s economic darwinism time – The strong, the smart, the hungry and adaptable will survive. If you are at the top of your game, or willing to put in the hard work to rise to the top, you will make it through. The companies that have been resting on their laurels, or just getting by with sub-par work because of the flush economic times will get weeded out. If you love competition – now is the time to shine. Be aggressive, not tentative. Now is not the time to crawl into your shell.

Now more than ever – know yourself and your customer – As my partner Steph Worrell said recently, ‘Everyone needs to be checking in with their core.’ The core of your business – what you excel at and sets you apart. And your core audience –  do you know what makes them tick?  People could afford to be a bit random over the past decade+ by putting themselves out there and catching the low-hanging fruit. But that fruit is gone. Course correct if you’ve gotten away from your core business focus – get back to what you do better than anyone else instead of trying to do many things mediocrely. Steve Rubel calls it soaring with your strengthsWhat product or service do you provide really well that others can’t match? What as an individual or company do you do really well that adds value? What niche do you serve? Identify it then build on it.”  As for your customers…

Listen and engage – For too long marketers have been selfish in their communication strategy answering ‘what do we have to sell and how will we sell it?’ instead of ‘what do our customers want, need, and say they are looking for?’

It’s perfect storm time –  people are more inundated than ever with marketing messages, are increasingly cynical of advertisers and corporate-speak, and are struggling with finances at home and at work. Listening – through traditional research, polling, informal feedback channels, or social media engagement – is more important than ever.

By knowing what your customers are talking about – you can start engaging in a conversation with them in a genuine way. At the same time, you are building trust by listening and showing value by contributing your expertise in order to provide a benefit, not necessarily a sale.

Remember it is a mix, not a one-trick pony – Which leads to social media. I’ve become a believer in the power of social media tools – for monitoring conversations, keeping up with trends in the industry, connecting with peers and potential clients, vetting ideas, testing messages via virtual focus groups. But if someone tells you that you need a 100% social media plan – question it. Just like you should question a 100% print advertising or 100% direct mail campaign. A marketing mix is paramount.  If you want to engage in social media remember – be genuine, be relevant, and don’t throw cheese (thanks to Jen Harris & Mike Boss for that one!)

It is all about the follow through – The best strategic communication plans  – no matter the elements utilized – are pointless if you can’t deliver on your promise. Now more than ever, focus on the long-term relationship with your customers and satisfying their needs beyond the initial sale. Because of how viral our communication has become – they can be your best marketers or your worst nightmare. If they are thrilled-beyond-belief-customers they will be champions for your brand. Remember to empower your evangelists!

And finally…
“Go ahead. Cut your marketing budget when things get tough. I get it. That’s like saying ‘I’ll throw some logs on that fire when it warms up in here.’ ” – Chris Lockhead

Keep your fire going.

-Jess