Ditch Your Agency’s Process

Choosing not to follow the rules laid out for you might just be the difference between mediocrity and greatness.


Browse a few communications agency websites and you’ll quickly see that every agency has a branded process for their work. They preach it internally and promote it to clients and in new business presentations. Many of these processes are proprietary, yet nearly every one of them includes some combination of research, strategy, creative development, and measurement. Each agency has its own unique twist, spin or terminology, but the basic building blocks are always there.

It’s so important to have a well-defined process and approach. Following a process is how we learn. It’s how we grow and hone our craft. No matter the industry in which you work, you must spend time practicing the basics. Where would Fred Astaire be without his first dance class? Where would Shakespeare be without learning the basics of sentence structure?

But the hard truth, the one most agencies never grasp, is that you can master the basics—you can follow them to a “t”—but that approach will never lead to great work.

Truly great work happens after you’ve mastered the…

Bookmark and Share

“Live Your Life’s Purpose and Unleash Your Joy” #WOY2014

patriceOur very own Patrice Tanaka was the keynote speaker at last Friday’s Washington Women in PR “Washington PR Woman of the Year” Award Luncheon in DC, honoring outstanding women in our profession.  Her keynote — not surprising for a purpose-driven PadillaCRT employee-owner and a leader whose personal brand platform is based on JOY – was on “Live Your Life’s Purpose and Unleash Your Joy!”   According to Tanaka, “Many of us can more easily cite our organization’s “purpose” than we can articulate our own individual “life’s purpose.”  She said despite growing evidence that “purpose-driven” companies outperform the S&P significantly – 1025 percent growth over a 10-year period vs. 122 percent for all S&P companies (Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose ), fewer than 20 percent of leaders can distill their own individual life purpose into a concrete statement, according to the authors of “From Purpose to Impact” in the May 2014 issue of the Harvard Business Review.  The authors go on to state, “…we believe that the process of articulating your purpose and finding the courage to live it—what we call purpose…

Bookmark and Share

Political Branding and its Progress (on Election Day)

It’s that time again – the polls are open and general election voting is underway.

Over the last several months, we’ve witnessed political commercials plastered with moral and ethical advertisements – each with a platform, message and agenda. Politicians and their campaigns are a close relative to any brand seeking to make a connection with a consumer. And, brands outside the election can learn a lot from the branding strategy used by the elected winner.

The earlier a candidate can drive their positioning and brand expression into voters’ minds, the more power they will have to win your vote. Political candidates, who want to be successful in building a campaign brand, should focus on creating good content online, use social media to promote themselves and build strong support in their communities.

Throughout history, candidates’ campaign strategies have continued to evolve, keeping up with changing media platforms, the impulses of their audience and the election process. Even before Reagan campaigned with bumper stickers and Obama tweeted, as early as the 1960 election between Nixon and Kennedy, politicians began to realize that a candidate’s brand hinged on more than ideologies and logos.

political branding pinterest 2

Bookmark and Share

Using the Visible to Infer the Invisible

trader joesHave you ever wondered why great experiential brands like Starbucks, Trader Joe’s and Costco do little to no advertising? It’s probably because they understand that in the mind of today’s consumer, actions speak much louder than words.

Though they are values most of us care about, brand traits like “trustworthy,” “ethical,” “fair treatment,” etc., have become more buzzwords than reality. Consumers are so used to hearing companies say that they do business by these requisite traits, that the words do not mean anything anymore. This is especially true when a business says one thing and does exactly the opposite. Consumers no longer trust a company’s words when they are trying to gauge a company’s values. Instead, they look to what is most visible to them—the behavior of that company’s employees.

In some of PadillaCRT’s recent research work, we found that consumers use the apparent happiness (or unhappiness) of a company’s employees as a way to gauge whether or not that company is trustworthy. When they see employees of a company like CarMax, Trader Joe’s, or Southwest Airlines genuinely smiling, helping one…

Bookmark and Share

How NOT to Get Lost In A Sea of Acronyms

Cartoonstock.comThere are nearly 100,000 trade associations operating in the U.S. today (per NPR), and in a marketplace as crowded as this one, it’s all too easy for your organization’s true purpose to get lost in a sea of acronyms. But groups like the American Physical Therapy Association, National Association of Broadcasters and National Restaurant Association prove how associations can use the principles of branding to bolster their relevance, nurture their relationships with members and other stakeholders, and reconnect with their central purpose.

Here are a few anecdotes:

Know Your Audience, Inside and Out

Before you can strengthen your association’s image, you must explore the issues and trends impacting your members, how those factors influence their perceptions and behaviors, and how they influence the perceptions and behaviors of their stakeholders. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) set a good example of this when it engaged PadillaCRT in the development of its “Move Forward” campaign.

Research among consumers, physicians, health care professionals, insurers and APTA members revealed that while physical therapists were viewed very positively, consumers had a narrow definition of their capabilities and were more likely to access a physical…

Bookmark and Share

BuzzLine: I Can’t Get No… Satisfries



I try and I try and I try, but I can’t get no Satisfries. 

That’s because Burger King, less than a year after launching the low-calorie alternative to regular french fries, has decided to take them off the menus in about two-thirds of its North American stores. According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, the fast food chain said in a statement Wednesday “that 100 million guests have ordered Satisfries, but the results were not persuasive enough for restaurant owners to want to continue serving them.”

Fast-food chains have worked hard to diversify their menu and offer healthier options (did you know you can get tuna salad on an English muffin at Dunkin Donuts?), but Satisfries have apparently missed the mark (even after the BuzzLine shared several tagline ideas at launch).

So what to replace them with?

In six words, what new healthy fast-food option might you suggest to replace Satisfries? Maybe…

  • Bunless double veggie Whopper Classic, Jr.
  • Frozen yogurt with edible celery spoons.
  • Roasted kale chips with sea salt.

Leave your new six-word menu item in the comments below. If we like yours best, you’ll receive a $5…

Bookmark and Share

When Journalism and Brand Management Collide

Recently, PadillaCRT hosted a “meet the journalist” breakfast that invited a local magazine editor to our office to discuss their role and answer questions regarding how we can provide relevant content and news ideas on behalf of our clients. During the conversation, we were reminded of what most of us in the PR industry already know – editors are busy, their outlets are understaffed and their inboxes are often flooded with hundreds upon hundreds of unrelated email pitches from PR professionals assuming that their audience will be interested, which is a huge pet-peeve!

But, as I walked away from that meeting, I was left thinking about the relationship between brands and media. Given the shrinking number of journalists reporting for publications and the onset of owned content, the landscape and connection between journalist, brand and PR agency is changing. Journalists are up against native advertising, eBooks, videos and more that are not usually distinguished as advertising or marketing and further blur the lines between editorial and paid content.

Getty Images

Similarly, the PR industry is being impacted by these changes. Fewer media opportunities mean more occasions to self-publish and syndicate. Some brands are…

Bookmark and Share

The School of Gaga – 5 PR lessons we can learn from Lady Gaga


Credit: Flickr User John Robert Charlton

Mouths agape, my sister and I watched as a man sporting a pair of meticulously crafted angel wings with a six-foot wingspan nearly knocked out a security guard with his left wing and was escorted out of the concert venue. At that moment we knew we had come to a special place.

For my 18-year-old sister, our first Lady Gaga concert last weekend was a thing of dreams, but for me it was a fascinating window into Gaga’s methodically constructed public relations and brand strategy. Love her or hate her, you have to admit that Gaga knows a thing or two about building and executing a hugely successful business.

If you need convincing, just check out last year’s FORBES Celebrity 100 power list where Gaga was named World’s Most Powerful Musician of 2013, or the TIME online poll where readers voted her Second Most Influential Icon of the Decade. Her rank may have fallen slightly this year, but her 41.6 million Twitter followers suggest that she’s not fading into oblivion anytime soon.

Start taking notes. Here are 5 PR…

Bookmark and Share

True Belief vs. Longstanding Convention

618_tech_apple_first_iphoneLast week, a colleague and I were working on a project for a client, when the topic of longstanding conventions came up. It was a small part of our nearly three-hour strategy session, but stood out to both of us as one of the most important parts of our work that day. The topic came up because we were pondering how a business can come to a new standard of operating, when so much of the models out there are based on longstanding, ingrained category conventions. The client in question was looking for a new and better way of doing things, not only for their own business, but for their industry as a whole.

It’s a large challenge to say the least, and one that we face every day. When we’re looking for a completely new model, one that better suits a client (or ourselves) than anything they have found to exist already in the world, how do we make sure we are striving to forge new ground rather than falling back on the things we already know?

Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 9.57.29 AMWe’d do well…

Bookmark and Share

Choosing a Winner in a World Cup Brand Battlefield

infographicBy now everyone across the planet is aware of the thrilling World Cup festivities. With many eyes and conversations focused on the ball, another discussion is proliferating the marketing world about the competition taking place off the field, starring two athletic-apparel titans – Nike and Adidas.

Having historically sponsored FIFA since 1970, Adidas has theoretically owned a big piece of the World Cup until now. The company claims, “This is where we put our stake in the ground and prove our domination in the market.” But, despite this official title and category exclusivity to the World Cup rights, Adidas is seeing its competitor take a piece of its pie.

In only the last few years, companies have become decidedly daring, taking leaps to harness real-time events to promote their brands. Take some favorite instances like Oreo at the Super Bowl or Arby’s and the famous Pharrell Grammys hat. Out of these examples came skyrocketing share of voice numbers and awareness levels. And they cost nothing.

bloombergSo, is the $280 million that Adidas is going to spend until the end of its…

Bookmark and Share