Fight B.A.D.D. (Business Attention Deficit Disorder) with a Five-Point Approach to Tying PR Strategy to Business Goals

Part I of II

So many businesses suffer from Business Attention Deficit Disorder (B.A.D.D.), a condition that can strike any part of a company when inattention, poor planning, indifference or taking on too much at one time takes focus away from mission critical operations and initiatives.

One of the bigger victims of B.A.D.D. is marketing and PR. With all that those words encompass today, many businesses wrestle with the wide range of PR and content marketing strategies that can enhance their brand and visibility via traditional, online and social media platforms.

The tools at your disposal to engage your audiences have grown precipitously: social media press releases; on-the-fly video; tweeting, liking, and linking via social media; blogging; and converting via landing pages offering advice and free content. The uses and combinations are astounding.

For some businesses afflicted by B.A.D.D., PR and marketing could indeed be more than just window dressing … more than “just send out a monthly press release” … more than that thing you or your agency does by rote without much regard to “why” or “what’s next.” To effectively capture customers and the media – and make your marketing department look good in the process – you need a game plan.

Don’t we all face more “business objectives” than we can work against in 24 hours?  I know I do. I find that organizing a plan complete with objectives, strategies and specific tactics grounds my work, putting me on the right path of knowing what we’re producing  is true progress against our client’s goal.

It’s not doing for the sake of doing – it’s doing with purpose. Taking the time to think your communications strategies through can also lead to some fun, new creative ideas for getting your message out there (but that’s a whole other topic).

PR with Purpose

To deliver value, you have to know what you’re trying to accomplish (starting with the business plan) and you have to think through all the possible strategies.

Begin with your set of business goals. Most companies’ number one business objective is growth.

E.g., Business Objective: Grow business by 10% in 2012.

Business goals then translate into marketing/communication/PR goals. How can PR affect that growth? What exactly should it accomplish (the more specific, the better), and how should be measured (in website/social media visits; leads; other metrics)?

E.g., Communications Objectives: Generate greater exposure among targets with goal of 20% increase in leads.  Support sales outreach to direct prospects and influencers.

PR strategy (as well as strategies for using other communications tools) can then be built.

E.g., PR Strategies: Examine/expand on messaging to sales targets.  Establish stronger voice in the industry with proactive outreach to traditional, social and digital outlets with contributed articles, participation in ongoing editorial coverage, guest columns, blog and LlinkedIn posts, white papers, etc. 

Exposure is relatively easy to achieve via publicity, if you are committed to being proactive and available to participate in editorial coverage.  And of course, the right content is king. The kind or flavor of exposure you plan depends on your objectives and PR strategies.

Next week, see Part II for the Five PR Variables you need to consider to better tie PR to your business objectives.

Keeping your Child’s Eye Open for Greater Creativity

“How sad if we pass through life and never see it with the eyes of a child…When we start off in life, we look at reality with wonder, but it isn’t the intelligent wonder of the mystics; it’s the formless wonder of the child.  Then wonder dies and is replaced by boredom, as we develop language, words, and concepts.  Then hopefully, if we’re lucky, we’ll return to wonder again.” – Anthony de Mello

One of the disadvantages of growing up is the loss of your “child’s eye”, that simple accepting, sense of wonder of first time-experiences unmarked by skepticism or cynicism.

After reading a comment from Sean McGinnis on a SpinSucks post about developing social content for B2B companies, I began looking for resources on how we might lighten up the reality-based shades we adults wear and so we can better see and appreciate what our businesses have to offer our clients.

Naturally, we have to create programs that deliver a business outcome, whatever that may be, but staying open to those creative possibilities could help us deliver the right ideas.

I came up with short list of resources (some of which themselves are expansive) to help keep the child-like wonder alive.

1. One Man’s Wonder, by writer, traveler and marcom agency owner Jeffery Willus, is about looking further, paying attention, making time for discovery, celebrating little things, and being open to wonder. Check out his “How To Be in the Moment – 101 Tips” series.

2. 50 Ways to Lighten Up & Become Child Like Again. Many of these seem elemental, but they resonated with me. When my son was much younger and yanking open our kitchen cabinet doors (and subsequently baby-proofing the place) I decided to make one small cabinet completely his.  I called it “The Discovery Vault”.  Each day I’d place something new for him to discover and play with. It got to the point that if I’d forgotten to put something new, he’d show disappointment. He wanted to keep the vault fresh. Reminds me of fresh content.

3. From my recent online acquaintance, Kaarina Dillabough defends (and rightly so) the many times we believe we’re not creative. She delivers a simple list of 10 creativity starters.

4. If these don’t resonate, take the adult path of negative/positive reinforcement with “How to stifle your creativity in 10 easy steps”.  Number one on the list goes to the heart of thinking like an adult versus a kid.

So what did I get out of these? It came through loud and clear. As adults running businesses, we have to act realistically, sensibly and rationally… most of the time.  When we can free ourselves, dreaming, curiosity, and wishful thinking — all of the traits a child would have – keep us open to endless possibilities.

How do you keep you child’s eye open and alive?

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Dig Within Your Organization for a Stronger Sales Story

The credit crunch is real, but according to one company recently quoted in The Wall Street Journal, “We don’t need loans, we need sales!”

Typically, marketing budgets are often reduced in a downturn.  But the need for sales – to generate demand – remains.  What to do? Take stock of your marketing messages.

Some companies are so busy trying to sell (with or without marketing support), they’re not taking the time to uncover value that might be buried within the company. The New Year is the perfect time to do some head-down thinking about how you are presenting your company.

Initially, talk to your best customers about why they buy from you. What makes them tick when it comes to your offering?  Do a deep dive to uncover all aspects that are relevant to them. Their answers may surprise you.

Also, engage your front line, the sales team. What are they communicating that resonates best with prospects? Think of several ways to get those messages out to the market.

There’s a simple Q&A exercise we often use with our clients to expand their thinking about how they market themselves.  Some of the questions include:

What value do you provide to customers outside of the product and service itself?  Do you educate and supply resources relevant to their industry?

What else are you really selling?  Are you selling trust?  Teamwork?  Faster delivery?  Excellent services?  Cost-savings? Expertise?  Make a list.  Why should customers keep buying from you?

What results are you helping them deliver to their customers? Is what you’re delivering having an impact? Are there internal results, like greater efficiencies, labor-savings, and the like?

What about their larger business environment — their problems and goals? Ask what business problems are you helping the customer solve.  Again, think about what goes beyond the product or service itself.

If any part of the value you deliver is related to real expertise, your advice and knowledge is worth just as much as your product or service.

What tips that can be shared about choosing or using your product/service?  Use proof points (read hard numbers) about your product and its users.

What staff member knowledge be tapped and shared?  Your employees are your brand extensions.  What they know can extend your firm’s visibility.

In what specific areas could education of the market be helpful?  Give your prospects a walk-through, an introductory session, or a demo on video, and capture the same content in writing for your website, social media and PR programs.

This line of thinking and brainstorming leads easily to a path of new promotional ideas you can use in any medium: online, social, PR, events and trade shows, webinars, ads, blogs, email and direct marketing, etc. And once you have your new idea(s), share them with your customers for feedback. They’re sure to make improvements.

With limited dollars, it’s more important than ever to analyze what you say, and how you say it, in all the ways you face the customer.