PR Industry Trends

5 Internal Communications Trends


Credit: Flickr User Sebastien Wiertz

Over the years, internal communications has changed, and companies now recognize the importance of keeping associates engaged, informed and inspired. An effective internal communications plan can help build a positive culture, enhance associate morale, increase productivity and decrease turnover.

With technology changing, the amount of resources a communicator has at his or her disposal continues to grow and evolve.

Here are five internal communication trends to look for in 2014 and beyond:

1. Responsive Emails
Let’s all face the fact that the medium of emails is here to stay. Emails are still the most reliable, bang-for-your-buck tool for communicators to reach associates. However, the majority of emails I check on my smartphone require me to pinch the screen to zoom in and out and create a terrible user experience.

Making your company’s emails responsive will automatically adjust the email to the correct dimensions for any smartphone or tablet. Responsive emails can enhance the user experience and increase the likelihood that the message will be read. There are several options that companies like ExactTarget and Mailchimp offer for sending responsive emails that…

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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…

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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…

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PR Industry Trends

PR Truths Uncovered By “Bar Rescue”

taffer bookI see that Jon Taffer has published a book. Taffer is the host of Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue,” which is my favorite show. I won’t buy the book, called Raise the Bar: An Action-Based Method for Maximum Customer Reactions, but I hope lots of other people do, just so Taffer makes even more money than he already does.

I can’t quite see Taffer as a man of letters. But I love him as that oafish loudmouth who storms into someone else’s saloon, tells the owner the awful truth: He’s a fool and a slacker and will be out of business within two weeks unless he fires the incompetent bartender, cleans the cockroaches out of the kitchen, rips out the tacky decorations and stops hitting on the barmaids and drinking up all the profits. Taffer also tells the owners when their most cherished dreams—like the pirate-themed grog shop in the Washington, D.C. suburbs, and the hookah bar in Omaha—are idiotic and should fail.

bar_rescueI live for “Bar Rescue” marathons, and all PR professionals should do so, too. That’s because Taffer’s projects are exercises in…

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5 Lessons in Brand Journalism from Ragan’s Content Summit

brand journalism

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In opening Ragan’s Content Summit last week at the Nascar Hall of Fame, Mark Ragan stated, “We need to stop begging the media, and become the media instead!” Powerful words, especially coming from a reporter turned publisher and CEO. But he hit the nail on the head; no longer are pitches and press releases enough. With media companies downsizing, there are now less people to cover more stories, making it even harder to get our messages heard… unless we write about them ourselves. Brand journalism provides us, as marketing and public relations professionals, the forum to give our audiences the information they want while bolstering our brands’ credibility and influence. Here are my top five brand journalism takeaways from the conference:

1. Tell a Story:

At the heart of brand journalism is storytelling. We must learn to think like journalists and tell stories that excite emotion in our readers. Brand journalism, also called content marketing, talks about the audience, their needs and desires, not the product or company. Rather than writing the story we want to tell, we need to write they story…

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PR Industry Trends

The Importance of Storytelling, As Told By Mark Twain



In 1894, Mark Twain was the most successful writer in America. He was also the best paid. And he was bankrupt. Twain had blown through a fortune, and at the advanced age of 62 (and in poor health) he decided to make a second fortune, and this time to hang on to it. It took him five years, but he managed to accomplish this goal, less through his writing than through the first commercial activity that had ever brought him success. He returned to the speaking circuit, making a worldwide lecture tour that enabled him to pay his debts and live out his remaining years with reputation restored.

I think of Twain on the lecture circuit every time I am subjected to another presentation about the importance of storytelling. I’m reminded of Twain because, to a man (and woman), the presenter telling a crowded ballroom about the importance of storytelling not once tells a story themselves.

Storytelling is all the rage. We know that. It’s important to put a human face on what are otherwise dry statistics. We know that too. As one of the 25 top “leadership…

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PR Industry Trends

3 New Business Tips I Learned from Enin, the Ivy League Wonder

college applicationIt’s that time of year again; the time when high school seniors across the country wait by the mailbox for letters from colleges. Did their first choice accept them? Or will they be spending the next four years at the “I don’t really want to go there, but I know I can get in” college? It’s an annual, nerve-wracking process and also a rite of passage. For many of these young adults, it is their first serious lesson that competition often resolves itself in only one of two ways: acceptance or rejection.

Recently USA Today reported on the incredible accomplishment of New York high school student Kwasi Enin, who was accepted into all eight of the eight Ivy League colleges. His extraordinary success got me thinking about the similarities between “pitching” oneself to a choice college and being part of an agency’s new business pitch team. Inspired by Enin’s amazing success, and as the mom of a 17-year-old about to embark on it himself, here are a few new business tips I learned from the college application process.

1) Your Score Matters. Whatever your feelings about the SATs or ACTs, colleges…

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Small Business Branding Dos and Don’ts

When you think about great branding, large corporations probably come to mind like Starbucks, Pepsi or Nike. But branding is just as important for small businesses and most understand that it is essential to their business. Small businesses see that branding makes strong connections, and understand that branding is not just a logo or how their business is perceived. Still, less realize that branding starts at the heart of the business. In fact, there are about 29 million small businesses in the U.S., 93 percent of which have four employees or less. While these companies may be small, they have real branding needs – the market size is estimated at $50 billion. Here are some tips of the trade, as well as some common mistakes to avoid.

small-businessDO: Understand your brand’s power. 

Branding is a way of defining your business – your identity – which embodies your business values. Start by defining your brand. The benefits of a defined brand encourage customers to emotionally connect to the same values, which leads to loyalty and advocacy. In order to build meaningful relationships, get to know your audience – their needs, desires, struggles and…

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PR Industry Trends

How to: overcome the challenge of talent acquisition (and retention)

HIre us. (2)Highly skilled employees are hard to find – and keep. That was the persistent theme I heard last week at the Middle-Market Forum 2014 in Minneapolis, sponsored by Twin Cities Business magazine. The panelists, all accomplished local CEOs/leaders, provided insights, solutions and advice on key issues facing middle-market companies (generally those with revenues between $100 million to $1 billion).

The forum featured:

  • Jeffrey Kiesel, CEO, Restaurant Technologies
  • David Martin, President and CEO, Cardiovascular Systems (CSI)
  • Chuck Mooty, President and CEO, Jostens
  • Cary Musech, Managing Principal, Tonka Bay Equity Partners
  • Dan Zdon, President and COO, Liberty Diversified International

Topics ranged from financing growth, acquisitions and divestitures and innovation, to succession planning, government-related challenges and making your company relevant to consumers.

But the subject that surfaced time and time again was talent acquisition and retention. According to Restaurant Technologies’ Kiesel, it’s his company’s “No. 1 strategic initiative.”

And it’s a major pain point for many other companies. Skilled workers are scarce in the market, despite our nation’s relatively high unemployment rate. Most truly talented and well-trained workers already have jobs, perhaps in other industries. Many may be simply unaware of…

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PR Industry Trends

Association Marketing – A conversation with two ASAE communicators

The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) is a good place to turn for insights into the association world. The organization calls more than 21,000 association leaders and industry partners members, and it represents 10,000+ organizations. ASAE provides its members with experiences, community and tools that allow them to lead their organization more successfully.

headshotsLast week I sat down with Robb Lee, chief marketing and communications officer, ASAE, and Sabrina Kidwai, senior PR manager, ASAE, for insights into the challenges and rewards of association marketing.

Why are associations important?

From plumbers and restaurant owners to lawyers and teachers to civil engineers and automotive parts distributers – there is an association for almost every profession. Associations set professional standards, surface important issues on topics that may otherwise be off the radar, and promote and position the products and services its members produce.

Beyond this important work, associations are also economic drivers. Their meetings can take over cities for days. They employ thousands of professionals (not just here in DC, but throughout the U.S.). And the professionals who work in this tight community tend to be as passionate about what…

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