Archive for October, 2009

Managing PR in a Crisis: An exclusive panel discussion produced by AMA Boston

October 13, 2009

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“Two experienced divers die mysteriously in the tunnel from Boston to Deer Island. Archdiocese of Boston officials cover up an insidious scandal that spans decades of sexual abuse. U.S. forces invade Iraq while longtime American allies howl in protest.

Only well-prepared, quick-thinking PR experts with prolific backgrounds in crisis management could manage—and succeed—in defusing these controversies. Our distinguished panel of experts are looking forward to sharing their experiences addressing these and other crises through the application of proven PR tools and techniques.

While most businesses have an emergency plan to protect their staff and office systems in the event of a natural disaster, few have developed a communications plan to address public crises such as lawsuits, improper behavior by employees or product recalls. The power of the social web and 24/7 news coverage can amplify public perception and corporate crises can quickly spiral out of control. Today, more than ever, it is imperative for companies to be prepared.”

Sign up for this great opportunity to hear Tom Lee and other PR professionals discuss how to prepare for and manage PR in a crisis:  http://pr-crisis.eventbrite.com

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How the hell do I get this printed?

October 9, 2009

Commercial printing, digital printing, desktop printing, online vendors…. Arrg! How many times have you found yourself in this quandary: You have to print something, you have a deadline looming and marketing people are either unavailable, or non-existent? Here are a few rules of thumb to follow to get the best quality printed product on time and at a reasonable cost.

Commercial (or offset or lithography) printing: Colors are made up of four basic printing colors, cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK or process colors). These colors are separated into dot patterns that when combined on paper create a full color image. A metal plate is made for each color with the dot pattern imaged on to it by a laser, the imaged area accepts ink and the non-imaged area resists ink.  First the plates are wrapped around cylinders in a printing press, inked and rolled onto another cylinder of softer material called the blanket. Next, the image is “offset” onto the blanket and rolled onto the paper.

Commercial printers can add some special touches such as varnishes, custom inks, die cuts, and just about any size and configuration you can imagine.

• Price: Very high price-per-piece for quantities under 1000 pieces. The more pieces you need, the cheaper it gets; you can pay just a few cents per piece when printing 10,000 or more.

• Quality: The best. You won’t get better quality printing than with a commercial printer. They have production managers who will work directly with you to make sure you get what you need, when you need it.

• Timing: Generally, give it a week. Depending on the amount of work on the floor they can be flexible with schedules to a point, but you won’t get an offset printed job back the next day.

• Best jobs to give them: Large corporate brochures, slick sales materials, books, packaging, quantities over 1000 pieces.

CMYK separations from left to right: The cyan separation, the magenta separation, the yellow separation, the black separation, the combined halftone pattern, and how the human eye would observe the combined halftone pattern from a sufficient distance.

CMYK separations from left to right: The cyan separation, the magenta separation, the yellow separation, the black separation, the combined halftone pattern, and how the human eye would observe the combined halftone pattern from a sufficient distance.

Digital Printing: Many commercial printers will have a digital option available. The reputable printers will offer you this option, if your quantity is small enough to take advantage of the cost savings of digital printing.

Digital presses are either laser or inkjet. Laser printing involves lasering your image onto a light-sensitive surface making the image area able to attract or repel toner. The image is then transferred to paper and fused in place by a heating element. Inkjet shoots tiny droplets of ink onto paper to create an image. This process provides near-photographic quality images but is limited to certain types of paper. Your printing rep will recommend different solutions based on the type of image you’re printing.

Digital printing is great if: you are printing fewer than 1000 pieces, you’re not picky about paper, you have a job that prints on letter-sized or tabloid-size paper, you have a job that needs to be done quick, you need a job completed quickly because this type of job can be printed within hours. Short run digital also allows you to personalize each printed piece; Names and messages can be pulled from a database and laser printed onto each page. Studies have shown that response rates rise dramatically when direct mailings take advantage of mass customization.

• Price: Very reasonable for up to roughly 1000 pieces. If you print more the per-piece price is better going the commercial route.

• Quality: The technology advanced so much with digital printing that it is very close to offset quality. Limitations are on paper stock and size of the piece.

• Timing: Digital printing companies usually give you a three day turnaround, but if the job is time sensitive, they can get it done same day.

• Best jobs to give them: Short run projects that you need right away.

Desktop Printing: The technology behind your desktop printer is the same as you’ll find in the larger machines but you’ll run into problems with managing the job at the office. Co-workers wanting to use the printer, paper jams, alignment and registration issues, problems printing on two sides and collating and binding contribute to printing a large number of pieces off your desktop printer a nightmare. You are much better off sending it out – believe me I’ve been there and it’s not pretty.

• Price: Appears free until you add up all that expensive ink and paper you’re using up.

• Quality: Usually poor because copy paper will bleed, warp and not carry color well.

• Timing: The timing is right until you hit that first paper jam.

• Best jobs: For printing fewer than 50 sheets with minimal large color graphics and  basic staple, or 3-hole punch binding.

What about online print vendors? Be careful. There are great bargains to be had, but you really don’t know how reliable an online vendor is until you’ve used one. I would suggest using a few different online vendors for low priority jobs until you find one or two that have worked well for you. Online print vendors have good prices because they print in volume. They will gain a lot of jobs on one huge print run, limiting you to very few paper options and usually very long delivery times. Good luck finding anyone to talk to, if there’s a problem or you need to expedite shipping. There is usually no customer service person on your account and no flexibility to help meet your deadlines.

Price: Cheap! You’ll get inexpensive printing as compared to any of your brick-and-mortar printers, offset or digital.

Quality: It’s a crap shoot, if you find a few good resources guard them with your life. Whomever you use, you will be limited to paper stock and a long lead time.

Timing: Could be as long as three weeks depending on when in the vendor’s print cycle you submit your project.

Which do you prefer? Tell us your story below!

451 Marketing’s Strategize or Die Workshop Will Be Held On 10/22/09

October 8, 2009

You know about social media, you want to use social media, you have a budget for social media, but you are worried about wasting time and resources, if you don’t do it right. 451 Marketing’s Strategize or Die! Workshop can help!

October’s workshop will take a close look at several examples of both B2B and B2C companies that have used social media successfully, as well as those that have failed in using social media. The pros at 451 Marketing will provide attendees with a preliminary plan to formulate a social media strategy for 2010.

When: 8:00am – 10:00am, October 22nd
Where: The Westin Copley Place (10 Huntington Ave. Boston, MA 02116)

The workshop is free to attend and is open only to non-agency personnel.

Follow this event on Twitter with hashtag 451Strategy.

Sign up here!

Sending your child to school for the first time

October 6, 2009

Recently, I was speaking to an industry group that hasn’t really done much with social media as a whole. It’s really not the group’s fault; this industry just happens to be heavily regulated when it comes to its communication to investors and end-users. But not surprisingly, as end-users have become increasingly active on these channels, the industry is now being dragged head first into social media and confusion seems to be fairly rampant.

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At the event, I fielded many questions about the concerns these people had about social media. As most of these questions revolved around strategy, and how to avoid any number of potential disasters, I couldn’t help but think how managing your company’s first social media campaign was just like sending your child off to their first day of school.

I know at first this may seem like a stretch but try to think of your “brand” as your first born child. As a marketer or public relations professional you protect it and you try to strengthen it with the right messaging, all in the hopes that your brand will grow to become something special. Of course, you are also nervous about sending it off to the public and losing complete control. It’s a scary world out there, and people can sometimes say things about your brand that it may not want to hear (like the first time your child comes home from school crying)!

Now, I am not the type of person to say that you have nothing to fear about social media. Running a social media campaign without a sound strategy is as foolish as sending your child off to school unprepared. The reality is though, that letting go of some of your control might be exactly what will strengthen your brand, as long as you take the necessary precautions, act intelligently, and monitor it closely.

By venturing into the social web with the right frame of mind and purpose, your brand will begin to learn things about itself that it may have not known before. By allowing your brand to be surrounded by open discourse and direct engagements with end-users, you will uncover new opportunities, and current brand reflections, that will only stand to benefit your marketing initiatives over time.

Remember, as your brand interacts with others, it has the ability to grow. Home schooling is rarely the best option.

Medium Regular with Milk and Four Sugars

October 2, 2009

Looking at the consumer landscape, it is easy to pick out brands that have been with us for as long as we can remember. Immediately, you might think of brands like Coca-Cola, Apple, IBM, McDonald’s and many others. Their personalities are emblazoned in our minds to the point where we can recite their popular jingles and possibly even draw their logos on paper. This is called, “unaided awareness,” meaning you have a subconscious attachment to the brand. This is due, in part, to the personal connections we have developed with these brands over the years. For example, I remember when I worked with my dad on my first summer job. I was 13, and every day, we’d wake up at the crack of dawn and head over to Dunkin Donuts. I’d get a donut or a bagel with some kind of juice. But, my dad would order a croissant and a coffee. He’d have it how he still has it to this day, medium regular with milk and four sugars.  We’d then sit in the car and talk over our breakfast until we had to punch in for work. Those moments with my dad are moments I’ll never forget, and Dunkin Donuts will always be a part of that story.

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But, how is it that Dunkin Donuts and other long-standing brands like it, has managed to stay relevant to an ever-changing audience? It is about acknowledging the past and giving credence to the present. What does this mean? When we think about brands that have been with us for decades, some for more than a century, we have to realize that they have survived amid enormous cultural change. Including different generations of evolving mindsets, like my fathers generation as well as my own. For example, when Starbucks entered the picture and fixed itself upon global domination, Dunkin Donuts did not rush out to make its brand more youth oriented by adding gradients or cleaner typography. What did the company do? It stuck with its candy colored pink and hot dog font and just added a coffee cup next to their logo. It didn’t put on airs or presume to be something it was not. Dunkin Donuts, as well as other long-standing brands, has learned to adapt, but has not forgotten itself in the process. Many brands have created a presence for themselves through social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, etc… Does this mean they have sold out? Absolutely not, it means that they have recognized the need to continue to stay relevant to their ever-changing customer base. If you look at other brands that have stood the test of time, this ethos continues to ring true. They all stay honest to their brand and their consumers, but still manage to adapt by leveraging change as an opportunity to further interact with their customers, responding to their questions, while also reaching new generations of consumers.

Does this really make sense? To this day, whenever I need a pick me up, where do I go? Even though Starbucks may be next door, I walk the few extra minutes to the Dunkin Donuts down the block, to get my medium regular with milk and four sugars

Strategize or Die! How Fortune 1000 Companies Are Building Successful Social Media Strategies

October 2, 2009

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“You know about social media, you want to use social media, you have a budget for social media, but you are worried about wasting time and resources, if you don’t do it right. Worse yet, you have heard the horror stories about social media causing tremendous damage to brands and you want to know how to avoid any potential catastrophes. This paper will take a close look at companies that have failed and what they did wrong. It will also give you preliminary steps to help you get started on formulating a social media strategy for 2010.”

Read full white paper here