Monthly Archives: May 2014

How Podcasts Can Help Your Business

Author: Gina Mason

There seems to be a trend here in New York City and after walking around for just five minutes, you may notice it too. The trend of plugging in and tuning out seems to have caught on and literally everyone is wearing headphones these days. Sure, this could be problematic for people crossing the street or for humanity in general, but in an attempt to find the silver lining, it is a great thing for people who utilize the power of the podcast.

For those of you who are still stuck in the Walkman days, a podcast is defined by Merriam Webster as “a program (as of music or talk) made available in digital format for automatic download over the Internet.” Thanks to modern technology, podcasts can now be recorded and downloaded anywhere on almost any mobile device. Who needs the radio when you can eliminate traditional advertisements, annoying DJs and tune into the topics or music you want to hear? Not to mention, podcast popularity is growing at an exponential rate. From news outlets to the White House to Podcast.com, these digital episodes are popping up everywhere.

Some of you may be thinking, podcasts are great for personal use, but why should I start one for my business? Here are a few reasons why you should consider using podcasts as a marketing tool:

It’s easy and inexpensive

It doesn’t cost much to start your own podcast and it takes less than five minutes to create an account. There are hundreds of free podcast hosting sites that you can use such as PodCast Garden, Blog Talk Radio, Podcast Machine and PodCast.com. All of which are FREE and easy to navigate and use. (Here at Indra PR, we LOVE Blog Talk Radio). The only thing you really need to begin your podcasts is little time, some great content, a phone and a Wi-Fi connection. It is as simple as that.  

You can brand your podcast

Just like anything else in business, the brand of your podcast is very important. Brainstorm a great name for your show and come up with an interesting logo that is similar to your business logo. This leads me to my next point, be sure to keep the brand of your podcast aligned with your business. For example, if you are a mechanic, talk about the auto industry, interview influencers and share tips on what you have learned over the years. Also, utilize your podcast to drive people to your website, blog and/or social media sites. With that in mind, try not to overload your listeners with too much self-promotional information during the episode.

You control the content

Podcasts are another great tool to spread your strategic message to your target audience and distinguish yourself as an industry expert. Podcasts provide you with an informal way to “get inside in mind of your audience,” and speak to them directly. However, the content of your podcast is very important so make sure that you have an outline of topics or ideas when doing your show live. However, don’t forget to have fun with your podcast! Content is key, but if you are entertaining during your podcast will be more successful and you will keep listeners coming back for more.

The benefits of podcasts go on and on, but the most important thing to keep in mind when starting a podcast is consistency. To build a following, you need to make sure that you are consistently posting new episodes and that you are keeping your content fresh and exciting. Podcasts can really give you a great alternative when it comes to communicating directly with your audience and can expand your marketing efforts.

Lastly, be sure to check out Indra Public Relations’ podcast, Live with MJ! on Blog Talk Radio. Live with MJ! features Indra’s very own President & Founder, MJ Pedone and me, Gina Mason as her co-host. Each week, MJ and I interview influencers who are making an impact and discusses everything from sports and entertainment to philanthropic and charity events.  Here is the link to the Live with MJ! to learn more: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/livewithmj

As always, if you like what you read be social and share.

 

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Augmented Reality: attract, retain and engage with consumers through immersive experiences

By: Jenifer W

Years ago, marketers could differentiate their products with creative TV commercials. Now we have the ability to fast-forward through commercials or the tendency to turn our attention to smartphones or iPads during breaks. So how does the marketing industry deal with losing all those eyeballs they used to rely on? The obvious move was to the online world and now, turning to innovative and interactive technology to get people excited about their products.

How can we bridge the divide between traditional print and digital media? With Augmented Reality!

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented Reality (AR) is the use of computer-generated images or data to modify the real world. It can add layers of digital information on top of items, enhancing the information we receive about the world around us. As Google describes it, you are using pictures rather than words to search the web.

By merging reality with computer generated graphics, you can offer brand interaction on a new level, whether via a webcam or a smartphone; at a desk or wandering the city. This technology is a great way of contributing to a consumer’s perception of your company by offering a deeper level of interaction and added value where everyday items can be brought to life and transformed into immersive branded experiences.

How can Augmented Reality apps be used for innovative campaigns?

Augmented reality is a great tool because it offers an inexpensive way to enhance content and increase the value of branding initiatives. It is a big opportunity to demonstrate that content and community can drive sales more than just traditional advertising campaigns.

A few ways AR can be used to engage your current, and potential, customers at the next level:

-Offer something exclusive: special offers, discounts, admission to special events, access to media opportunities, entry into a contest, etc. For example, Barack Obama’s team used an app that allowed supporters to scan a $5 bill to gain exclusive content during the presidential campaign.

-Provide customers with more information about a product in a fun way without taking up valuable advertising space. A great example of this usage is currently being employed by Cover Girl. Let’s say you are flipping through a magazine and see an ad for a new foundation. Using your smart device, you can scan the image to access application tips, find your perfect shade and watch how-to videos.

-Purchase something directly by scanning an image, rather than searching for a retailer. Concert promoters can take advantage of this by incorporating AR into tour posters. A fan sees one posted on a wall and can scan it to immediately buy tickets to the show, get directions and add an event reminder to their phone.

-Give teasers leading up to a product launch and post-release interactive opportunities to engage on a deeper level. It is a way to keep them wondering what you will do next and coming back for more. Big Picture Group has created many cutting-edge integrated campaigns, such as an alternate reality journey for Showtime’s “Homeland.”

-Create feel-good impressions about your brand without seeming pushy or salesy. Last month Pepsi Max and augmented reality provider Blippar, launched the “Now Is What You Make It” advertisement and interactive film. By scanning a Pepsi soda can or bottle, fans have the opportunity to hang out in a branded environment and can unlock content including behind the scenes footage, an interactive football game skills videos and download a song.

Games will always have mass appeal. McDonalds is taking advantage of this in order to get maximum value out of its sponsorship of the World Cup. The McDonalds Gol! app turns french fry boxes into virtual soccer fields where players bounce the ball off various real world objects to avoid increasingly difficult obstacles.

Like any PR strategy, AR should not be used merely because it is available. Just because something is bright new and shiny, doesn’t mean it’s right for every campaign.To be effective, an AR app needs to be simple to use and add value as a product or service itself and not just promote something else.

Are you currently employing Augmented Reality as part of your PR strategy? Are there any campaigns that have blown you away? As always we I welcome your comments and if you like what you read, be social and share.

 

 

Public Display of Publicity Featuring Jay-Z and Beyoncé

By: Eliza Borish

In the last two weeks, Jay-Z and Beyoncé have starred in two now infamous online videos. The first video, mainly starring Beyoncé’s younger sister, Solange, was leaked out and took place in the elevator of the Standard Hotel at a Met Gala after party. Solange appears to be attacking Jay-Z in the elevator as Queen B watches from the middle and tries to intervene. Without audio, it is hard to decipher what the actual reasons for this argument were, but the video does reveal a violent undertone and seriously aggressive altercation. I have heard different rumors and theories from all sorts of people on why Solange went on the attack: Was Solange drunk? Is Jay-Z cheating? Did fashion designer Rachel Roy provoke Solange earlier that evening? Could it be all three? Well, definitely; but I’d like to believe that the King and Queen of R&B are perfectly fine in their marital bliss and so from my mind, I have eliminated that option of infidelity altogether.

The second video released this week was a music video for Jay-Z’s song “Part II: On the Run” and was made to resemble a feature film trailer. “Run” as the video is being called, includes many celebrity appearances (No Solange!) from Blake Lively to Rashida Jones to Don Cheadle. Car chases and explosions aside, the music video promotes the couples upcoming 16-city tour. Who wants to go with me?

These two different videos span the spectrum of publicity: one offers insight into the personal (and not perfect) private life of the couple, while the other provides a glimpse of what to expect in their next joint professional venture. It seems to me that the couple has gone from negative publicity to positive publicity right in front of our eyes. At the end of the day, all press is good press (does this count when you are that famous?), but this shift in spectrum occurred so fast, it’s hard to remember that Solange attacking Jay-Z only occurred only a week earlier.

I have to ask myself, was “Run” released on purpose at this time to distract the elevator video or is it merely a coincidence that this star-studded action packed music video in which Jay-Z and Beyoncé are aligned as bad guys comes out right after a devastating video that shows a family argument?

At the end of the day, this overlapping in timing is probably just luck: a music video that intense takes time to produce and their tour does begin June 25th, so it highly unlikely that “Run” would not be released within the month. If anything, my guess is that they moved the release up a bit earlier to combat the bad publicity of their family relations with the good publicity of a music video and an impending tour. If that is the case, then their publicist made a great decision. People are no longer talking or thinking about the family drama, but rather singing along in anticipation of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s tour. When it comes to Solange and her attack on Jay-Z, it’s no longer a point of conversation; with this music video on the forefront, all I think of is what elevator video?

While we may never know what exactly happened, we can take a few things away from this. In the aftermath of a viral public incident:

1)    Don’t dig deeper: after the elevator fight, Solange deleted all but one photo of her and Beyoncé on her Instagram account. This only added fuel to the fire and allowed fans to further speculate on what really went down.

2)    Let it go: family drama is normal, as in any type of drama. Sure, it is tougher to do in the public eye and with social media, but don’t prolong drama. Once it’s done, talk it out, release a statement, and move on.

3)    Deter: just like with their music video, get people taking about something else. Don’t make it feel forced, but if you have something else to offer, like “Run”, showcase that.

4)    Keep it professional: often people are more interested in what is going on behind the scenes, but remember, unless you are a Kardashian, you are famous for a talent, so always focus on that and the negative stuff will eventually simmer down.

5)    Publicist: lastly, if you do not have a good publicist, get one! Your publicist is an appendage of your brand, so their words and their ideas maintain the image you wish to perceive. In times of crisis, it’s their duty to think creatively and strategically.

Publicity can make or break you; it’s all about how the public perceives you. Jay-Z and Beyoncé are lucky to fall back on a devoted fan base, but for them it’s more than luck: they built their image rightfully so and thus, earn the respect that comes with a loyal fan base. With their talent, marketing, and overall, personas, an incident like an elevator fight won’t change much for their image. Their past good publicity allows them to prevail on, even in the wake of negativity. I mean, I still love you, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and even you Solange, with your flailing arms.

Coincidence or not, people are now talking about a music video, not an elevator fight and once again, in just a short amount of time, Beyoncé and Jay-Z are on the right (and positive) spectrum of publicity.

What tips do you offer when consulting a public crisis? If you disagree with mine, let me know! Comments and feedback are always welcomed and if you like what you read, be social and share.

SONY and the World Cup

Author: Gina Mason

The World Cup is set to kick off in Brazil in just a few weeks and fans everywhere are gearing up for a month of soccer mania. From June 12-July 13, 2014, the world will be watching as 32 teams battle it out to see which country will be crowned champions of the world. Outside of the competition, the World Cup is the world’s most followed and watched sporting event, making it an ideal platform for brands to expand their reach to an international audience.

During the 2010 World Cup, more than 3.2 billion people or 46.4 percent of the population watched live coverage for a minimum of one minute, according to FIFA.com. That is an astounding statistic! Not to mention, that statistic is expected to significantly increase due to the growth of the internet, viewing capability on mobile devices and social media. Social media in particular is expected to dominate the World Cup conversation and coverage. Twitter is anticipating “60% of all tweets during matches will be World Cup-related during the month-long soccer tournament,” according to a recent Ad Age article.

With that kind of engagement and attention, we can expect brands that are sponsoring the World Cup, like McDonalds, Visa and Johnson & Johnson to step up their marketing and advertising campaigns to expand their reach. One brand in particular came up with a unique tactic to not only show off its newest technology during the World Cup, but also drive fans to its website and keep them engaged during the competition. That brand is SONY and it created a new social networking platform that can be accessed by its website (http://football.sony.net/onestadiumlive ) called One Stadium Live.

According to a SONY press release, “One Stadium Live brings together football-related social media content from Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ into a single platform, with topics and posts from around the world.” That information will be organized “according to people’s interests and relevance” as well as “sorted to show the most popular, latest, relevant news and posts on football.”

Optimized for smartphones, tablets and computers, One Stadium Live makes it easy for sports fans to interact with each other and keep track of World Cup news. So how does this platform work when people from all over the world speak different languages?

One Stadium Live’s technology is incredibly advanced and it “studies and learns language patterns as opposed to monitoring key words, [and] is the result of 14 years of research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that applies artificial intelligence and a database of 17 million facts to appropriate common sense knowledge to text mining.” Content can be further filtered by preferred languages and the social network site, “[it] accommodates six languages including English, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish.” If that doesn’t make your head spin, One Stadium Live will also “deliver a second screen experience with a real-time, filtered stream of what all fans around the world are saying about that particular game.”

I think this marketing strategy for SONY is sheer genius and I am predicting that it will be incredibly successful during the World Cup (barring any technical difficulties). For SONY to align its brand with the biggest sporting event in the world and engage an international audience in a new and exciting way is revolutionary. The best part of this technology is that it will for the first time truly bring the world together in the name of sports. No language barrier will limit brand messaging or people the discussion of all things related to this exciting world event.

What are your predictions for the 2014 World Cup? Will you use One Stadium Live to stay up on the latest soccer updates?

As always, if you like what you read be social and share.

#BringBackOurGirls – Hashtag Campaign

By: Eliza Borish

A little over a month ago, an Islamic militant, Boko Haram, kidnapped approximately 300 female students from their school in Chibok, Nigeria. The young students are being forced into Islam and into marriage with members of the terrorist organization. Initially, government action was deemed slow and inadequate, prompting protests, which demanded further government involvement. As the story grew larger, the hash tag #BringBackOurGirls began trending on twitter allowing the news of this gruesome act to spread globally faster.

Now, #BringBackOurGirls has been shared and retweeted thousands of times. Celebrities like Anne Hathaway, Justin Timberlake, Amy Poehler, and the FLOTUS Michelle Obama have all hopped in on the action and shared photos of themselves holding a sign that reads #BringBackOurGirls. Michelle Obama’s photo alone has had over 58,000,000 retweets.

In this social media driven world, can a campaign like #BringBackOurGirls actually be effective? Yes, it may share and promote global awareness, but when it comes to the nitty-gritty, is it really going to “Bring Back Our Girls?”

This type of campaign, called hash tag activism, is a simplistic approach to fighting often-complicated issues. It’s free, attention grabbing, thought provoking, and when spread globally, it’s a phenomenon. A simple hash tag can garner awareness. While people like me just use the hash tag to spread that awareness, if we all join in, the hash tag trends and gets noticed by the world. People in power who can take direct action like Michelle Obama start using the same hash tag and this is where the results start.

We want the government to be held accountable. We want the government to take action, fast. There should not be a delayed response when 300 females ages 15-18 are kidnapped from their school. Regardless of the city, the country, the continent, we need to bring back our girls. In this day of age, that responsibility no longer applies to those only in power. In belongs to all of us. Politicians and governments have the ability to take action, but we–twitter users, Facebook users, and social media fanatics–have the ability to promote the action we want to be taken. We are not powerless and all it takes is one “retweet”, one “favorite”, and one “like” to become an activist.

It is easy to argue that a campaign like this looses sight of the real goal by bringing attention to the means (let’s just tweet to be trendy!) and not the ends. Ann Coulter, an ultra-conservative republican selfishly turned the twitter campaign to free the kidnapped Nigerian to herself posting a photo with the hash tag #BringBackOurCountry. It seems like Ann Coulter is mocking Michelle Obama, but whatever her reasoning, its obnoxious and attention grabbing, in a bad way. The twitter community has fired back expressing their outrage at Ann Coulter’s insensitivity. Hash tags can often be jokes, but in this case, twitter users mean business. It’s not about you, Ann; it’s about those young girls.

Whatever your thoughts are about twitter and hash tag activism, there is no denying that the world is finally taking action against Boko Haram. At the end of the day, we all want the same thing: we want those young, Nigerian schoolgirls to return home safely.

What are your thoughts? Do you think this campaign has provoked the much needed awareness about Boko Haram.  

As always, I welcome your feedback and if you like what you read, be social and share.

 

Why Should I Follow You?

By: Jenifer Wetterau

Do you offer interesting, helpful or entertaining content or simply regurgitate your website?

“Business is no longer B2B or B2C, it’s H2H (human to human).”- Jeannette Gibson, HootSuite

People are smart…and fickle; give them an incentive to follow you, rather than filling up their feeds with self-promotional content pulled from your website. The point of social media is to be social, not to just talk to hear your own voice. Have you ever be in this situation: a fun post pops up in your timeline so you decide to check out the company’s page only to find that they just cycle the same content over and over? Immediately changes the way you perceive the brand, right?

If you want people to engage with you, give them a good reason to, and simply posting “check out my website” definitely does not qualify. With over 255 million monthly active Twitter users, simply posting the same content about what your company does is not going to cut it. Test out which platforms best fit your brand; not every company is a great fit for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or any of the other major sites. Find what works for you and fully develop your profile there, rather than diluting your message by trying to be everywhere at the same time, with the same material. Quality should be the goal, not quantity.

If you don’t have something to say on Thursday that your followers will find worth reading, wait until Friday to post rather than adding to the ever-growing clutter of people shouting into the wind. You will find that people appreciate that you are making an effort to be engaging and not using the social space as an advertising board. For example, let’s say you are an ophthalmologist and are looking to gain new clients to expand your practice so you give Twitter a try. What tactic do you think will be most beneficial: offering fun, interesting facts a few times a week, or sending multiple tweets a day stating that you offer eye exams? I absolutely know which one I would prefer to read! You have a personality and social media is the perfect platform to showcase it. Periodically sharing industry articles and posts by those in your field will keep your feed professional without being boring or self-promotional.

We must become customer experience architects, able to create and scale individualized customer experiences that feature our customers rather than our selves or our products. The goal should be to prompt engagement throughout the entire customer journey, from brand awareness through purchase, use and hopefully, repurchase. Continuously analyzing what works best for your company will ensure you are providing your followers with what they enjoy and keep them coming back for more.

As Steve Jobs famously said, “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Make an effort with a creative strategy and people will want to follow you and share your content.

As always, if you like what you read, be social and share.

Brand Loyalty or…Crazy?

By: Gina Mason

Brands play a huge part in our lives. From our favorite soft drink to which smartphone we use, we all have brands that we prefer over others. Whether your preference has to do with the product itself, the logo, the way in which the company is run or the free stuff they give away, there is something that keeps you returning time and time again. This is a lovely thing that we like to call, brand loyalty and it is incredibly valuable in our world of extreme couponing and discount websites.

One of the toughest things to do in the world of branding/marketing/advertising is to gain new customers and retain the ones you have. People are constantly bouncing from brand to brand and will usually go with the brand that is on sale or convenient for them to purchase. The methodology behind brand loyalty is something that advertising professionals and researchers spend millions of hours and dollars on trying to find what evokes that sense of devotion and keeps people coming back for more.

Now, there are those people who are die-hard fans of certain brands and will only purchase a certain brand or product, for example people who are either Team Apple or Team Samsung. However, there is a new trend that is taking brand loyalty to a whole new level and making consumers contemplate how far they will actually go to show support for their favorite brand.

By showing support, I am not talking about wearing a branded t-shirt or sending out a few tweets. I’m talking about literally branding yourself with a tattoo…. Yes, I said it, a tattoo!  Believe it or not, according to a recent Yahoo.com article, some people are becoming walking, talking billboards for their favorite brands by getting their logos tattooed on their bodies.

Some are doing it for a lifetime of free tanning. Others are doing it just because they love KFC. Either way, it takes some serious dedication to have a brand permanently imprinted on your body. This type of extreme branding makes me wonder, what happens if your taste changes or the brand goes out of business? Most importantly, what if your favorite brand is involved in a major controversy or scandal and you are walking around with their logo on your arm for everyone to see? (i.e. BP Oil, Enron, Abercrombie & Fitch) That could be embarrassing!

From a branding and marketing perspective, this is sheer genius and brands have got to be crazy not to encourage this type of behavior.  We all know that WOM or word of mouth marketing is still the most effective method of marketing and tattoos are the perfect conversation piece. How many times have you heard someone say, “what does your tattoo mean?”

I am very interested to see if this trend takes off and if more brands will offer free or discounted products for this form of “real-life branding.” Despite my love for Diet Coke and In-N-Out Burger, I am not entirely sure that I am that dedicated to get those logos tattooed on my body (even for a lifetime supply of Double-Doubles).

Would you ever get a tattoo of your favorite brand? If so, why? Do you think this trend will continue to grow?

As always, I welcome your comments and if you like what you read be social and share.