Meaningful Media Relations Doesn’t Require a Zip Code

The value in any PR agency comes from its ability to synthesize messaging that is in alignment with a client’s goals and effectively tell that story to the media. While it may sound like a relatively simple concept, there are a myriad of variables that influence an earned media program, some which make that dynamic easier and some that make it more challenging. One thing remains constant: the relationship you have with a journalist who will tell your stories.

In an era where every person walking with a smartphone in his/her pocket is a photojournalist, a viral story can come from nearly anywhere. More and more, we’re seeing venerable outlets such as CNN running video from an iPhone or Android, and the same for the current queen of daytime talk, Ellen DeGeneres. While most brands seek viral status, it’s generally incredibly difficult to do, and often brands “go viral” for all the wrong reasons.

As such, it’s critical to any brand that a team of people who engage in consistent and tactful media relations steward its programs. Journalists move incredibly fast and are outnumbered by PR folk 6 to 1 in data released in 2018, so an irresponsible PR professional is easy to blacklist. Relationships have never been more important in this industry and to keep pace with their workloads, journalists must work with people who will not waste their time and have an acute understanding of what they truly need to push their stories forward. After all, they’re under the gun to get eyeballs in our current fractured media landscape. While we place a lot of value on face-to-face interactions with our media friends, we’ve found that a much more valuable set of pillars keeps our relationships strong no matter where they call home.

Customer Service: How fast are your response times? Media report to us that they’re often amazed at PR professionals who may seem desperate to get their clients placed but rarely respond to a journalist’s query. We maintain strict response times and make ourselves reachable by the means in which they communicate. For most it’s email, but others prefer email, text and even Instagram DM!

Flatten the process: They don’t have time to read a long-form press release, making it critical that we craft compelling storylines that are tailored for their beat and publication audience.

Subject matter experts: Being invested in your client’s success means learning as much about the product or service and relevant competitors as possible and possessing the ability to quickly answer preliminary questions a journalist may have. By showing them you’re worth speaking to builds the trust needed to foster a lasting professional relationship.

By employing these three things, you’re showing the journalist that you’re not only going to make their lives easier by getting them what they need, the stories that yield form working with you are going to be better because of it. While it’s tempting to want to make your pitch in person over a coffee, there are five other people waiting to do the same. Will you stand out with the same cup from Starbucks or be the first to complete a fact check?

The Truth Behind the Shark Tank Effect

For many emerging brands, 90 seconds in front of four wealthy entrepreneurs who each vie to take your business to new heights on national TV is something many only dream about! For the few that not only make it to the show and get a deal, it can change the trajectory of a business and rapidly accelerate growth. While it may be a dream scenario for your budding business, it’s important to understand the realities of that dynamic that we’ve observed over the years.

•  The great: The infusion of money can scale a business quickly and gain access to a myriad of distribution deals, media placements and the halo effect of having been on the show.

•  The not so great: It can create a false sense of security within the company and it’s important to remember that the Sharks have the companies they do for a reason. Lori Greiner, Mark Cuban, Robert Herjavec, Daymond John, Kevin O’Leary and even guest shark Bethenny Frankel are all savvy business-people eager to grow their companies by propelling forward and keeping their fingers on the pulse of what’s innovative. At some point, your company will be stale to them and it’s critical to continue the momentum by driving the business forward yourself.

From GreenRoom’s standpoint, there’s inherent validation in being on the show and getting a deal. However, that validation is not an excuse for not putting a robust digital marketing, public relations and business development team in place, armed with a multi-faceted approach to continue growing your business. It’s critical to align with the right people who are as driven to help you as you were walking into that shark tank for the first time.

While a Shark’s appearance on “Good Morning America” or “The View” may be sales gold for 24 hours, is there a team in place to keep your brand in front of consumers when site visits and sales begin to slump? Leveraging seasonal and holiday-based media opportunities, saturating the YouTube influencer space with unboxing videos, crafting bylined articles, retargeting ads featuring earned media and influencer content are just a few tactics to propel the brand’s marketing efforts forward.

Are you taking those clips and turning them into quick social ads and growing your online communities? Are you able to see how you can continually de-position yourself against competitors and recognize when your key photo and video assets need updating?

It may seem like brands that go on Shark Tank are handed fool-proof success on a well-lit studio platter, but unfortunately that’s not the case at all. It takes the same hustle and strategic thinking to capitalize on the success generated by the show that every other company must possess. Maybe Mr. Wonderful isn’t so wonderful after all.

3 Ways to Leverage Creative Services to Maximize Brand Events

Our favorite part of working with our clients is the opportunity to tell their story in meaningful and creative ways. From in-studio designs to filming on-set, our Creative team works hard to bring brands to life with groundbreaking visuals; but did you know these services can also elevate your event?

We had the opportunity to make this a reality for our client American Licorice,makers of the popular candy brands, Sour Punch Straws and Red Vines Twists, during one of the “sweetest” events of the season, Dessert Goals. Here are some ways you can leverage creative services during an event or tradeshow and beyond:

 

Highlight Influencer Partnerships

One thing you can always count on is an influencer wanting to be seen and photographed which makes having a professional team ready to snap the best photo a must for any event.In addition to the colorful confectionary paradise that surrounded us, we had the privilege of working with local influencers as we captured their experience with our branded candy installation.

According to a recent study, 82% of consumers are more likely to follow the recommendation of an influencer they follow. Influencer marketing has proven to be the new word of mouth and authentic content is at the core of their success. During your next event, make sure to seek out influencers and work with your Creative team to take photos and videos of them interacting with your booth, company representatives, and even other influencers! The higher the quality, the more likely your influencer partners will share this content on their feeds and tag your brand social pages. This exposure can help grow your social communities, expand brand reach, and create a new group of brand ambassadors.

 

Enhance Social Media Content Strategy

A great Creative team has an eye for all things design including the best ways to capture digital content that will resonate with your brand’s social media communities. That’s why you should be tapping into their expertise in real-time to take your social content to new, creative heights while highlighting the best of what your event has to offer.

In addition to snapping Instagram-worthy photos and staging interactive boomerangs, Creative Services can also manage some of the more technical aspects of social including Facebook Live. Going live using a smartphone has several unpredictable variables but a professional creative team can help you navigate the set-up while introducing the right equipment to produce a high-quality HD stream.  This real-time feature is favored highly within Facebook’s algorithm, generating three times the engagement of typical video content and demonstrating the power to expand brand awareness into new audiences.

Additionally, working with a Creative team can ensure grainy photos and shaking videos are a thing of the past. When it comes to social, content will always be king. Communities on social media expect to be wowed and this attention to detail can be your ticket into generating high post engagements while representing your brand well across digital channels. Because let’s face it, if your event isn’t on social did it even happen?

 

Develop Assets for Marketing Collateral

When it comes to sourcing product shots, group photos of company leadership, event attendees interacting with your brand, and more, a smartphone camera just won’t do. From lighting to lenses, experienced photographers know what it takes to snap the best shot. In addition to always being on the hunt to find the right angle, professional photographers have a keen eye for filling spaces, staging scenes, and directing people to create a more dynamic image. Marketing materials including print and digital ads, brochures, website content, and even media kits can feature high-resolution event photography to help bring the brand mission and personality to the forefront.These assets can even serve to generate excitement for the next event by highlighting the best and most eye-catching moments in future promotional materials.

While most of these efforts will result in a variety of public-facing assets, these visuals can also enhance documents that are shared internally with company leadership and employees. These materials can be used to highlight and reinforce the results driven from current brand marketing efforts while garnering leadership and financial support for futureinnovative campaign strategies.

Partnering for Success: Why Hire an Agency if You Have an Internal Team

With summer in full swing, many in-house teams are laser-focused on seasonal trade shows, industry events and warm-weather marketing opportunities. This makes perfect sense, but raises an important question; why are their agencies focused on a different season?

At this time of year, as temperatures rise and heating systems become a distant memory, we in the agency world are talking about an equally distant concept — Holiday. That may seem premature on first blush, but agencies often serve as an essential complement to in-house marketing efforts.

This means that brands working with agency support have a two-fold advantage: an in-house team managing day-to-day execution of contemporary tasks while their agency partners develop future opportunities in tandem with the moment. This two-pronged approach is just one of the many reasons working with an agency can be so beneficial.

 

Additional Opportunities

When it comes to Holiday, there’s a distinctly different lifecycle to media coverage opportunities. Here at GreenRoom, we’ve been talking with editors and journalists about Holiday Gift Guides and annual award submissions as far back as our Spring Media Tour — and we’re seeing traction despite being months away from the colder weather. We’ve helped a number of new clients adjust strategy on the fly and add items to their calendar — secure in the knowledge that they now have the right resources to address them.

Our team-based approach to media outreach drives impactful coverage year around, not just during Holiday. We’re constantly cross-pitching, which means your brand is given more opportunities to gain media attention via roundups, briefings, and trend pieces.

This happens on the digital front as well. Marketing teams are often overflowing with work, so they’re unable to start tackling holiday campaigns until much later in the year, when options for partnering on large-scale initiatives are more limited. An agency partner keeps the ball rolling, and by the time fall comes around, Holiday campaigns are already in full development.

As on the media side of the house, our digital seasonal strategy isn’t limited to just holiday. Our team has spent the summer dressing models in sweaters and tailgate football gear, prepping for creative content that will publish in fall and winter.

Agencies can help in influencer negotiation and balancing seasonal initiatives

Industry Insight

Working with a number of clients facing the same challenges puts an agency in the ideal position to inform timing, budget, and strategy on both the media and digital marketing fronts. While we’ll constantly analyze the performance of your brand’s initiatives towards established goals, we’ll also compare this progress to the results we’re seeing from other clients. Because of this, you gain a greater depth analysis. If something needs to be changed, we can borrow learnings from other clients, and implement a strategy that we already know to be successful.

This is especially important on the digital front, where platform algorithms constantly change. If you’re working with just one brand, it may take months to analyze a trend that an agency will quickly see appearing across multiple clients. This means that clients partnered with an agency can better take advantage of platform updates, adjusting strategy to meet the needs of today.

On the PR front, agencies are the first to know when a publication is changing direction or when a new reporter is hired for a beat. This up-to-the-minute information creates efficiencies in media outreach and saves time and effort.

 

Negotiation

Negotiating pricing is another key area in which agencies pay dividends for their brand partners. Third-party vendors and influencers know that agencies have a broader client reach, so agencies can often negotiate better rates and find deals more regularly than a single in-house team.

Negotiation doesn’t just happen on the outside — sometimes internal marketing teams need additional resources to get senior management on board with a new initiative. This is also the time of year when marketing teams are pointing towards budget discussions that will impact the year to follow. We can help bolster the case for additional dollars that could mean the difference between running in place or speeding ahead. An agency can be that reliable outside voice, often delivering the essential push when a VP needs to ok a budget.

Agencies can provide in-house marketing teams with in-depth industry analysis.

When Is the Right Time to Hire an Agency?

We know that even the most skilled of internal teams can benefit from additional resources for seasonal initiatives, product launches and award nominations, among other milestones taking place in the back half of the year.

More often than not, we find that the best answer to the question “When?” is: right now. (Yesterday: no longer an option!)

The Right Time to Hire a Public Relations Agency

Often in our conversations with brands the question arises of when to hire an agency. While each situation is unique, there are a few times when agency support can be especially helpful.

Launching a Brand New Product

As an agency, we’re able to place our clients in a plethora of marquee media outlets. By giving the media a first look at the product, the brand is positioned to have a string of hard-hitting press coverage publish during the launch. This is a great way to generate buzz and place your new product at the forefront of consumer’s attention.

Holiday Season Buzz

The holiday season is a critical time of year for retail companies, as millions of potential customers are in “buying mode.” One of the most sought after media placements are Holiday Gift Guides, some of which are the only source of product information for shoppers! However, the timeline for this may start earlier than you think. We typically start Gift Guide conversations with reporters in June — yes, June! — in order to maximize coverage. Opportunities and placements will grow as we get closer to the holiday season.

Attending a Trade Show

When it comes to trade shows, our biggest priority for our clients is to make a huge splash. Whether it’s a large show like CES or an industry-specific show like Interbike, we strive to fully maximize the days you’ll be attending. In addition to booth support, we’ll secure meetings with top-tier media outlets during the show, giving you an opportunity to present your product front and center to some of the biggest names in media. On the social side, trade shows can be one of the best times to take advantage of live features and trending opportunities. Our team can be on-the-ground to handle photos, video, and live digital engagement.

Just Looking For More Brand Awareness

Maybe you’ve been selling your product for quite some time and feel like you’ve plateaued. You might feel that if you could just reach fresh eyes, your product would take off. That’s where we come in! We provide you with a PR and social “megaphone” that allows you to spread the word  to millions of potential customers. With sample units available, we’re able to create engaging social content that aligns perfectly with the brand story we’re telling  marquee media outlets. This one-two punch of social and PR will make sure your product is not only being seen, but being seen by the right people.

The Importance of Face-to-Face Meetings

How many times have you sent a text or email and that was later misinterpreted, either by a friend, family member or even a client? Although the world is becoming increasingly digital, the benefits of face-to-face interaction are irreplaceable—despite Skype and Apple’s aggressive efforts at video chatting! The following are a few reasons why you should think twice before scheduling your next call with a client.

1)            Body Language

Digital communication with clients and the media has its perks. It’s quick and straight-forward; however, digital communication can be tricky, especially when the relationship is new or a special project is at stake.

Let’s say you have a scheduled call with a client to propose a new outreach plan that includes pitching a product or aspect of the business through non-traditional angle. Once you finish laying out the strategy, there is a long pause on the line followed by, “Yeah, sure that’s a good idea.” You’d probably wish you wish you were sitting face-to-face to witness their initial reaction and body language? Instead of having to dig through a series of follow-up questions hoping to figure out your client’s actual sentiments, a face-to-face meeting would have allowed you to sense their attitude from the beginning and address the issue accordingly.

2)            Quality Collaboration

When was the last time you woke up without dozens of unread emails? While ubiquitous, shuffling through emails can often suck time and creativity from your work.  Do you think that world’s most creative teams come up with cutting-edge campaigns through an email thread? Unlikely.

Creative collaboration through email can prevent the natural flow of ideating, a vital component of any successful brainstorming session and project management discussion. A face-to-face meeting allows you and your team to bounce ideas off each other on the spot, rather than having to navigate an overflowing inbox.

3)            Establishing Trust

Trust is a critical component of any working relationship. In vendor relationships, which have the added pressure of expected results and the need for effective counsel in order to push a business’ bottom line, this trust needs to be developed especially quickly.  Face-to-face interaction goes miles in establishing this trust.

A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology measured the effectiveness of a face-to-face request versus an email request and found that face-to-face requests were 34 times more effective than emailed ones, due to nonverbal cues and perceived trustworthiness. Although technology has done wonders for society’s overall progress, the fact remains that we like facing each other. Technology isn’t going anywhere – we don’t want it to—but it’s important to realize the power of face-to-face communication isn’t backing down either.

Potential Marketing Material You’re Missing Out On

What comes to mind when you think of a cease-and-desist letter? A few paragraphs filled with legal verbiage, reprimanding and threatening a business or person for participating in some type of illegal activity? Usually, you’d be right. Most cease-and-desist letters follow a similar format and structure. However, Netflix stirred things up with latest recent cease-and-desist letter to an unauthorized bar themed around the company’s original series, Stranger Things.

Netflix made the letter casual and lighthearted–emulating the series and its characters’ overall mood and spirit. Ditching the typical formal greeting, the company started off the casually-written letter by addressing the owners of the bar by nickname, Danny and Doug. What followed was just as informal and playful, with references to the show’s notable use of walkie talkies, the Upside Down an even Dr. Brenner. However, despite the informal tone, the company made it very clear that if the owners didn’t shut the bar down, there would be serious consequences–like the Demogorgon or their mom getting involved (yikes!).

Showcasing Your Company’s Personality in an Unexpected Way

Although entertaining, the letter is much more profound as it showcases the company’s brilliant understanding of marketing. For years, companies have tried to showcase their personality to the public through different marketing materials. For companies with bigger budgets, these materials are usually in the form of commercials, provocative billboards  and a strong social media presence. For those with smaller budgets, a grassroots approach is more likely to be utilized. However, would you ever consider a legal document with potentially serious ramifications as a form of marketing? Netflix demonstrated clever marketing which was leveraged as  a solid public relations story that achieved their goal without tarnishing their reputation. Netflix enforced it copyrights while portraying itself as a fun and cool company, which is quite a feat.

In another unique example, McDonald’s flipped its iconic golden arches upside down across different outlets, including a branch’s outdoor sign, to celebrate International Women’s Day. The company could have simply sent out a tweet acknowledging the cause, but chose to make a serious statement and  flipping one of their restaurant’s outdoor signs. In doing so, the company sent a message and strategically placed itself as a serious advocate of women, which consequently strengthened the company’s image of being socially responsible.

Ultimately, companies like Netflix and McDonald’s prove there are countless–and frequently overlooked–opportunities to spotlight and heighten your brand’s image. Whatever image you wish to present to the public, whether it’s a creative and user-friendly personality like Netflix’s or a socially-conscious and thoughtful personality like McDonald’s, could be conveyed through all aspects of your company. So, the next time your PR department is constructing a press release or your HR department is sending a letter of warning to a fellow employee, conceptualize ways your brand’s personality could shine through and be reinforced.

Inside the Algorithm: What Facebook’s Changes Mean for Your Content

Facebook’s latest update

Since its launch in September 2006, the Facebook News Feed has been in a state of flux. From the introduction of Like buttons to the prioritization of popular posts to the crackdown on clickbait and fake news, Zuckerberg and company have continually updated the News Feed to optimize the user experience. Since a 2015 report in the Journal of Experimental Psychology that mindlessly scrolling Facebook could be detrimental to mental health, the platform has concentrated its efforts on driving active participation on the platform.

With the latest algorithm update in January 2018, Facebook overhauled their ranking process to focus on engaging content from family and friends over content from brands and publishers. Vice president of News Feed Adam Mosseri shared in a Newsroom post that the updates would prioritize “posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people.”

How does Facebook determine what is meaningful?

The platform is using reactions, comments and shares to adjudicate how compelling a post actually is. While it may seem that engagement spend is the easy answer to this, friend-to-friend interactions will take precedence. Companies will have to think less about what the brand wants to push, and more about what their target audience wants to see.

What does this mean for content creation?

Creators should put themselves into the shoes of their social customer and ask, “What kind of content would I want my best friend to see?” Thought leadership and philanthropic efforts are more likely to organically take root within an organic community than flash-in-the-pan sponsored posts. Similarly, this type of content is more likely to generate long-term benefits than its ephemeral meme-like counterparts.

Additionally, because we can anticipate that users will be spending less time on the platform, there should be a stronger focus on snappy, succinct content that contributes positively to a viewer’s Facebook experience. Gone are the days of sharing a meandering ten-minute YouTube tutorial on your Facebook page; concise, meaningful content is in.

What does this mean for marketers?

Marketers will need to think outside of the box of engagement baiting to create content that is genuinely engaging, rather than artificially popular. Clickbait-style promotions, including giveaways that use “Comment below!” or “Like this post to enter!” will have higher CPM rates, higher cost-per-click and lower organic reach overall than they have in the past.

It will take months for these updates to roll out across all of Facebook’s products. As we learn more about what these changes mean for brand reach and how to best spend in the new digital climate, one thing is true now more than ever: it’s all about your audience.

Incorporating a Color Palette into Your Brand Marketing

Oreo and Coca-Cola have bright, signature colors that they use in almost all of their collateral

Iconic brands use color to grab audience attention and establish trust.

Picture a box of Oreos. The container’s shade of royal blue is likely one of the first things you were able to conjure. This is, of course, because the package itself is blue. However, that image has been reinforced by multi-million dollar marketing campaigns that consistently incorporate a perfect stack of white and black cookies and a glass of milk on a simple background that includes that iconic box blue. This long-term color branding is one of the reasons AdWeek has named Oreo one of the top 10 brands.

Oreo is far from the only brand with this level of color palette recognition. Take the red picture above, do you know what brand it is?

Coca-Cola instantly came to mind. The company’s “Coca-Cola Red” is so ubiquitous with the brand they were able to trademark it.  The strongest and most memorable brands always use their brand color in marketing: logo, print marketing materials, signage, websites, social media graphics, blog posts and presentation decks.

 

Branding for Growing Businesses

GreenRoom Agency clients Soundcast and Sound of Sleep use color to establish trust in their brand.

Brands large and small can benefit from a strong use of color in marketing materials.

However, the value of a color palette isn’t limited to household names. Growing businesses can start to reap the benefits of a color palette using their brand colors in product photography and digital compositions as a background color. Not only does this help establish brand recognition, but this color selection can heavily impact how viewers feel about your company and its products.

Thinking beyond backgrounds: brands can subtly choose to incorporate brand colors into props and other seemingly small decisions. Notice the color of the napkin on the table beneath the Oreo cookie pancakes. This is not just coincidence—it’s an impactful example of an attentive designer intuitively establishing brand recognition for viewers.

GreenRoom embraces color in the creative work across clients. For Soundcast, a high-end Bluetooth speaker brand, we leveraged the company’s bright orange and charcoal gray in a holiday carousel ad campaign that resulted in the company’s most successful click-through rates to date.

In a subtler approach, GreenRoom edits or skillfully selects light blue and white items—a blanket, shirt, wall, or lamp—for sleep client Sound of Sleep. These colors non-explicitly send a message of peace, calm, and relaxation in images that are used in social media posts, on the website, across digital advertising, and even in the images we send to press that are ultimately incorporated into media reviews and roundups.

For each brand, the goal of a color pallette is to create a consistent brand experience that ultimately leads to stronger brand recognition. When you’ve achieved this, your target audience will intuitively trust trust and enjoy the products more, easing the transition into top-of-mind purchase research and, ultimately, sales.

CES 2018 and Beyond

CES 2018 Trade Show Collage

Images from GreenRoom and its clients during CES 2018 and the PGA Merchandise Show, both industry trade shows.

Each January brings the first of many industry trade shows in the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Brands across a wide spectrum of vertical markets participate, and many clients say that the show (and its allied events such as Pepcom) can be incredibly impactful to attract media attention, drive brand awareness, and develop relationships with partners and consumers for the year ahead.

Planning for industry trade shows and events such as these can be challenging; how to select which shows offer the best opportunities to execute communications strategy, budgeting for them successfully (both in terms of dollars allocated and internal resources dedicated), and building media calendars for public relations/ leveraging digital and social media content into success at the trade show itself.

One great example of this is utilizing an industry event or trade show to promote new partnerships. At the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, we aided our client Blast Motion in the announcement of an exclusive deal with golf giant TaylorMade. With all the biggest names in golf media attending the show, this provided a platform to amplify the news in the right place at the right time. The GreenRoom team has a strong track record in developing successful strategies for such industry events, and helping clients manage participation to maximum effect.

Following each event, leveraging media and industry contacts into high-profile coverage and dynamic relationships often overwhelms internal teams focused on a number of deliverables. Here, too, we find that having a team of professionals, such as a communications agency, at your command expands the amount of time and energy brands have to plan for future events on the calendar. This can drive media coverage and sales opportunities throughout the year, resulting in met or exceeded marketing goals, all while engaging consumers and building a community of brand ambassadors.