‘Tis The Season…For Affiliate Partners and Marketing

Q4 is officially upon is, and that can mean many things to many people – to the average person, it means firming up their family time plans for the upcoming holidays, enjoying seasonal activities, and to many, the joys of shopping (and shopping, and more shopping) aided by Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the holiday gifting season.

But to brands and their respective agencies, this time of year has a much different meaning. Q4 can be a make-or-break time fraught with stress for growing brands who are under pressure from stakeholders, investors and leadership to deliver on their lofty sales aspirations. When a company’s bread-and-butter is a product that has seasonal or gifting appeal, meaning a heavy percentage of their e-commerce and retail revenue is made during this 2-to-3-month period, the critical need to hit the mark becomes even greater.

All of this is widely understood, but in a saturated marketplace, it’s easier said than done. What can be done to deliver the type of media attention and coverage needed to truly move the needle and correlate with tangible growth in brand awareness and sales?

Navigating the Ever-Changing Media Landscape

It’s no secret that the overall media landscape has undergone a dramatic shift in structure over the last handful of years. As media houses and publications attempt to navigate this and stay afloat, newspapers have shuttered print editions completely or moved to a full online subscription platform, industry-leading publications have consolidated (think Men’s Journal absorbing Men’s Fitness), and journalists have begun seeing their work syndicate across several different media outlets owned by one conglomerate as a way to occupy space, capping the amount of “new” content published.

One major introduction to the media world that has quickly evolved into a core factor in alleviating media attrition is affiliate marketing. For those new to the term, affiliate marketing is a tactic where two or more entities partner to benefit from the web traffic or sale of an item. The brand or partner in turn reaps the reward of a sale via incentivized exposure of the sales channel, such as Amazon, and the sales channel earns a commission by promoting and selling those products – a profit sharing model that has become essential to the sustainability of several media corporations.

As a result of this, we’ve seen a seismic shift in editorial content and focus because the affiliate partnership is a constant priority. Taking things even further, some media outlets have moved to a partially or even fully “paid” model – meaning a large percentage, or all, of the content on their website is rooted in keeping the affiliate partnership front and center. If this makes you feel like your reading time is blurring lines with your online shopping time, you’re not alone.

Cracking the Code

All that said, it’s as important as ever for a brand to have a presence in top-tier media outlets, especially with the online sales process becoming accelerated on the consumer’s end. But what’s a brand to do?

Here at GreenRoom, we’re fortunate to staff a team of media mavens with a keenly sophisticated understanding of the ins-and-outs of affiliate marketing and its overlap with traditional public relations. As we approach the holiday season, our team is deploying several creative tactics to garner essential Holiday Gift Guide coverage for our clients the “2018 Way.”

Several publications are employing media professionals who are tasked with the sole responsibility of overseeing and managing affiliate partner content. We’ve fostered tight-knit relationships with those contacts. We’re already constantly in conversation with e-commerce teams about Holiday 2018 and have been for months, educating them about our client’s products and the retail channels at which they can be purchased. Lastly, in tandem with our incredible digital and social teams, we’re working with influencers and popular YouTube personalities to generate original brand content as part of our core programming for clients, staying ahead of the evolving media curve while still helping our brands achieve their goals for consumer awareness and traffic.

We’re able to turn what for some agencies would be a dead-end (“no luck this year, their gift guide is all affiliate content!”) into new opportunities for our client. Whether it’s a giveaway, paid partnership, or simply finding the right contact, we pride ourselves on being more in-the-know than any agency and capable of trendspotting what’s next in the marketplace before it even happens. Paired with an aggressive approach to making inroads with publications and understanding the innerworkings of how they are handling their upcoming content, we find it to be a recipe for success.

The next several weeks are a critical time for brands with any hope of securing the holiday media coverage they dream of. Why not find out what it’s like to have an agency that can take that stress off of your hands?

From Intern to Colleague: Tips for Landing a Full-Time Job

An internship is a must when transitioning from the classroom to the workforce, as it helps you gain practical experience, expand your network, and, most importantly, learn about what you want (and don’t want) in a job.

I was able to turn my GreenRoom internship into a full-time job as an Account Coordinator. If you’re like I was and have “Internships can turn into full-time jobs” at the center of your vision board, I have a few tips for you for your next internship.

Be Organized
Most of us apply for internships while balancing class, school organizations, a social life, and sometimes a second job. However, while you’re in the office, you need to treat your internship like it’s your only priority. Work hard to surpass expectations and show you’re reliable in order to earn the respect of your boss and co-workers, proving you have what it takes to be a full-time employee.

Heidy’s Tip: 

• Pay close attention to details and deadlines. I can’t stress enough how important time management is, especially in a PR/Social Media job. Keep track of all the projects you’re working on, be prepared for meetings, and take notes about everything that’s happening in the office, even if it doesn’t pertain to your role. It’ll help you get more involved in projects and show your coworkers that you’re eager to learn.

Be Hungry for Any Task
Whether you’re assigned a quotidian task or something you’ve never seen before, make sure you take ownership of every assignment. Remember that your potential isn’t only seen when working on high-profile assignments. Show off your skills by doing everything you’re asked to do well (no matter the task!), ask questions when you need help, and through it all show your excitement to keep learning and doing more for the agency. Those who can do small tasks well are more likely to be trusted with bigger projects.

Heidy’s Tips: 

• Show an eagerness to learn. Show you’re serious about a future in PR or Social Media and at GreenRoom by asking questions, offering to sit in on meetings with different clients, and showing interest in different job paths.

•  Push yourself to tackle new things. When you’ve wrapped up a task, ask for the chance to complete the next step of the project or even see it through to the end. This will prove you’re more than capable of taking on challenging (and exciting!) assignments.

Become Indispensable
Taking ownership of a project puts you in a good place to continue managing that project. Even in small things, look for opportunities in ongoing tasks that you can take on as yours. For instance, I started putting together monthly reports, relieving the PR team of something that could pull them away from pitching. After showing I could do it well with little guidance, it turned from a one-time project to something I always worked did. When it came time to assess if I would get a job, it was clear that I’d already have work on my plate in the future. After all, I had created a style, organization, and comfort within the company around this ongoing task.

In short: beyond being reliable and showing your potential, make it so that there’s no one else who could quite fill your role.

Heidy’s Tips:

• Become independent. Create a place for yourself in the office by taking on independent projects or focusing on a specific area of your expertise that you can own.

• Offer new ideas. Showcase your creativity and offer ideas during brainstorms or client meetings. Your contribution is always helpful to the team!

Making a great impression, building strong relationships with your colleagues, and making yourself an integral part of the team will get one foot in the door when a full-time position opens. Whether you’re in a PR or Social Media internship, these tips are fundamental in helping you land a full-time position once your internship is over!

An Unlikely Match: PR Parallels from the Ashley Madison Hack

 

Ahley Madison

Throughout the week, we’ve watched the result of the Ashley Madison hack unravel, publicly shaming well-known celebrities, government officials, and affecting the relationships of numerous couples. The hack further drives home the point that any information published on the web is there to stay. A company’s reputation largely depends on the articles published about their products or company, as well as the discussions in the world of social media. One unfavorable review or company profile on the front page of a Google search could be detrimental to their business. Here are a few tips to search your name with confidence and excitement:

 

1. Continuous Check-Ins: Regularly check in with the media and offer them support whenever possible. Becoming a go-to source will give a company a better idea as to the outcome of their article and will provide them with a wealth of feedback to improve their product or service.

 

 

 

2. Customer Service Involvement: Giving the media a chance to speak to a company’s customer service representative can improve a review and uncover added features they may have not come across on their own. It will also reassure them if their readers encounter a problem, a helpful customer support team is only a phone call away.

 

 

 

3. Fact Checking: It is important to double check the spelling of a CEO’s name or that the web link directs readers to a company’s site. Being proactive in this area always pays off many times over.

 

 

 

How Social Media Can Impact Fan Sentiment

Hayley's Blog Graphic

One of the most rewarding and fulfilling aspects of being a community manager is the ability to engage with a brand’s core fan base each day. Community management offers brands the opportunity to speak with fans in real-time – one of the things that make social media so unique and valuable, and most importantly, integral to a business’s growth.

Fans want to feel like they are valued by the brand and are a part of the team.  While customer service is an integral part of a social media campaign, when a brand can elicit positive emotions on social media from a follower, chances are, you’ve done your job correctly. How you choose to interact with your followers is extremely important in the realm of sentiment. Positive word-of-mouth and sales leads are the goal, and keeping tabs on fan sentiment about your brand can offer key insights that can affect your businesses bottom line.

 

Here are four ways your brand can engage its fan base and increase positive sentiment:

 

  1. Utilize Hashtags:By creating a unique hashtag for your brand, you can easily listen to and join conversations your fans are engaging in. Pro tip: Hashtags for entering a contest or creating evergreen hashtags can help you track and monitor communications about your brand.
  2. Build Relationships: Start conversations with fans who interact with your brand and engage with them on other relevant topics aside from your brand. Liking their photos or commenting about a topic can often transform a fan into a brand advocate.
  3. Cultivate Advocates: These are the fans who consistently talk about your brand and jump into conversations with you daily. Advocates are essential to community growth. Plus, their word-of-mouth praise can drive new business for the brand.
  4. Take Advantage of Giveaways: Nothing says “I appreciate you” more than rewards. When a brand reaches out to its loyal followers and rewards them with product, the fan is typically overwhelmed with joy. Even if the fan was originally impartial to the brand, a giveaway or a prize can be the point at which they become true brand advocates.
  5. User Generated Content: Sharing fans’ content on your brand’s channels can bolster engagement and brand affinity not only from the fan but also new potential customers. Seeing that real people use your product in their everyday life can be more of a motivation to purchase than any other methods of promotion.

Demos Do It – Keeping it Fresh on the Floor

CES Trade Show Demo

This isn’t your grandma’s “wear comfortable shoes and bring business cards” post about a tradeshow floor! We’ve been logging some miles around the country recently, and have watched two very distinct scenarios unfold. One is an engaging booth that always seems to be full, and the other is the group that puts forth an effort, but can’t hold an audience.

The cause of the breakdown seems simple, but so many often miss it due to siloed thinking, or an inability to listen to their audience. What separates an average booth from a great experience at a tradeshow is the how the demo is done. The exhibitor that has a great booth understands the product just as well as he or she understands the audience and accommodates them accordingly. By asking questions of the attendees and then showing how the product seamlessly fits into their lifestyle or activity will make a fan (and a new customer!) faster than any slick video reel or tradeshow giveaway. Even better, converting a naysayer into a fan by proving how the product can fit into their life is one of the strongest testimonials a brand can get from a show floor.

So, while you’re prepping for your next show, make sure you understand your audience as well as you understand your product and be ready to modify your demo accordingly. And, of course, wear comfortable shoes and bring business cards…

Public Relations & ROI

While some public relations agencies shy away from correlating PR with return on investment, it’s a topic we relish in. Let’s not beat around the bush, virtually every brand hires a PR agency to help reach customers with the ultimate goal of having them purchase services or goods. So how can an agency attach a measurable, financial result to their work?

The most obvious way is to report the comparative advertising value for press coverage that has been generated. Essentially, how much would it cost a brand to advertise during a TV show or appear in a magazine, website or newspaper. The majority of PR agencies provide an inflated “PR value” which is generally three times the ad value. But let’s face it, that’s a fairly subjective measurement – what if the article was negative or if the incorrect URL was published? There is no doubt that PR coverage is typically more valuable than advertising, but we feel its best to provide clients with solid data rather than a debatable, inflated value for press coverage.

The question remains,  “what did a piece of coverage really mean to a client’s bottom line?”

Analyzing web analytics is an extremely useful way to directly correlate the ROI of media coverage. With analytic tools, not only are we able to measure the number of visitors that visited our client’s website but we also see how many of those visitors made a purchase decision. For example, we recently secured a placement on The Today Show and were able to view in real-time the number of visitors and purchases made throughout the morning as the segment aired in all time zones. Watching Google Analytics Real-Time Traffic Data is a guilty pleasure of ours – few things are as gratifying as watching thousands of new customers flood a client’s website!

By the end of the day the client sold thousands of units and was able to attribute all of those sales to our efforts (and to our good friends at The Today Show). Not to mention, all of those customers are now in the client’s database for direct marketing purposes and many have subscribed to their social channels, providing an opportunity to make them customers for life and transform them into brand advocates.

There are a number of ways to connect PR efforts with ROI, but it starts with the mindset of being accountable for sales and marketing goals. Generating mass media exposure is great, but producing tangible dollars from that exposure is ultimately what most brands are looking for.

Tapping into the Home & Housewares market

Americans spend nearly 5% of their income on furniture and household items each year[1]. With the median household income in the United States at $50,502[2] it would not be uncommon for a home to spend over $2,500 per year on household goods.

Competing for the household dollar is challenging and competition between manufacturers is fierce. Staying ahead of your competition with original and fresh products while ensuring those products receive prominence can be achieved with an effective PR and social media strategy.

It’s essential that your agency is using the correct tactics for the job and identifies the right contacts and media outlets. The popularity of social media platforms varies between demographics, so selecting the right platforms, specific to your targeted audience is essential.

For example, over two thirds of Pinterest users are female and aged 25-34. Over a quarter of Pinterest users have an annual household income of over $100,000. Needless to say, this is a prime social media channel to reach affluent buyers of home & housewares and should play an integral role in your strategy.

Using social media also allows customers to search for reviews in real time and most importantly, post their own. Potential customers are using social media to investigate a product before purchasing; they want to know the experiences of their peers with a similar lifestyle who use the product. They’re not only interested in their peers’ assessment of the product but are also looking for the unique way their peers interact with and utilize the product.  Consequently, monitoring your reviews is an essential practice and any negative reviews must be immediately addressed with a replacement or something else of value to the client.

Online communities encourage people to share their story and inspires collaboration. Customers offer peer-to-peer recommendations by illustrating how products improve their lives and encouraging others to make the same purchases. Customers with negative experiences use online communities to warn their peers about unreliable products and often express dissatisfaction and contempt and warn their peers to stay away from a particular product. Strategic and constant monitoring places you in a proactive position allowing you to address negative feedback directly and instantly.

Though there is no substitute for a world-class design team, social media should also be used to tap into the existing customer base and ask their input on how to enhance current products and which type of products should be produced during the next design cycle.

Gaining market share in the home & housewares space requires influencing key stakeholders: the media & the consumers. With an integrated PR & social media strategy, a capable agency will set a brand apart from the competition and capture more of the consumer’s household spend.


[1] http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/04/05/149997097/what-americans-buy

[2] 2011 Census. http://www.mybudget360.com/how-much-do-americans-earn-what-is-the-average-us-income/