Friday, July 13, 2018

How #PR Can Subvert The Traditional "Marketing Funnel" [Abbott Media Group]

Public Relations is not Marketing, nor is is it Advertising. It's actually better. The traditional "Marketing Funnel" consists of leading people to an Awareness of a brand, then to their Interest in it, followed by Conversion (a Purchase) then Brand Loyalty, which leads to Advocacy of your brand by the loyal customers.

Which is all good, and it tends to drag customers through the process effectively, when implemented correctly.

Advertising is also different from Public Relations, and from Marketing. For example, advertisers often want to go from Awareness directly to a quick sale, which can lead to crass, high-pressure appeals.

Note that I'm not saying there's anything WRONG with Marketing or Advertising as concepts or business practices. Both are critical to understanding consumer behavior and directing them towards becoming happy and loyal customers.

But with Public Relations, we have a way in which we can "short circuit" this process, and possibly make it more effective. If such a system existed, wouldn't businesses want to employ it, alongside traditional methods?

Here's how:

In PR, awareness of your brand's Good Deeds and/or its commitment to its Mission and Core Values can lead directly to people becoming brand Advocates, especially online, leading to them become Loyal customers.

We've seen this over and over again online, in which a poster on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram reacts to a positive action by a company, and says, "Great move! I want to do business with a company like this!" When the poster is a known figure, you have achieved a degree of social proof - an influencer who directs others to buy and support a brand. This is priceless, and can do more for a brand than a thousand TV or radio ads.

Consider letting Abbott Media Group use social media and PR communications tools to build positive awareness of your brand!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Creepy #PR Job Ad Seeking "Youthful" Female To Be The "Face" Of A Company Is All That's Wrong With PR [Abbott Media Group]

A recent job posting illustrates EVERYTHING that's wrong with PR today, or at least the growing perception of PR as a damaged profession with a reputation problem.

The ad, on the popular job search site "Glassdoor," read:

"We are looking for a youthful, energetic, personable, presentable, female for an overseas Public Relations position," it began, "The candidate will be the face of our Asia operation. Please send details and photo if possible."

It's signed - rare for an ad even on Glassdoor - by the male president of this company, which I've blacked out to avoid holding him up to public ridicule. Both his first and last name were included in the original ad.


This is wrong on so many levels. Aside from being an illegal job ad (gender-specific, which is forbidden by employment law) it's a bit creepy for a male president/CEO to be asking for a photograph - akin to a dirty personal ad in the back of a magazine or on the old "Backpage" or Craigslist personals, it sends a horrible message about the profession. One plausibly may wonder if he hopes to travel with her.

The ad's descriptions are equally troubling.

"Youthful, energetic" is "code" for "no one over 30 need apply. Age discrimination sucks, but it's a reality in the business world. And tolerated.

"Personable," well, of course a PR person will be personable - someone who is likable and generally likes people. Though that's a child's definition of "public relations," and every store clerk or auto show platform model can't be said to be in "public relations," just because they interact with the public - though that's a vital component for business success, for sure.

The final two descriptors, "presentable, female," are at the heart of the problem with this ad. "Presentable" seems to be a code word for "pretty." Now, there's nothing wrong with being pretty, or presentable, so long as the latter means how a person presents oneself, in dress, demeanor, and especially verbally and in writing. If THOSE were the criterion used by the CEO here, that would ELEVATE the profession, not demean it or raise ludicrous stereotypes as this ad does.

Let's also mention that the ad apparently breaks the terms of service Glassdoor has published on its own site, which state, "You may not post any job ad that ... gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability, or any other ground(s) prohibited by applicable law."

CEOs of corporations should never use the tactic of pushing a "pretty face" in front of a news conference, so stakeholders and the general public will more easily forget the bad news about a company or CEO. That plays to the basest of negative stereotypes about PR.

This amounts to putting supermodels on catwalks wearing corporate logos. Corporations should be educated by real PR pros that this won't motivate any but the creepiest of men to patronize their businesses and buy their products and services. And it won't be enough to distract the media from a company's missteps.

A bit of a disclaimer. A search for the company on Google on July 7, 2018 at 8 pm (Central) produced no results. A Linkedin profile mentioning his name and company produced a blank page. It's unclear whether the ad, posted on July 7, 2018, is for a legitimate operation. If so, shame on the company's president. If not, shame on Glassdoor for facilitating this gross person's fantasy.

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Stephen Abbott is the principal of Abbott Media Group. He's not "pretty" nor "young." He's a male over 50, and has over two decades of actual experience building brands and reputations. Abbott Media Group can be found online at www.abbottmediagroup.com.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

4 Ways To Build #Trust With Your Customers [Abbott Media Group]


People will do business with those that they trust. Public Relations can help to build that trust.

There are several ways a business can begin to build trust with their customers and future (potential) customers. Among them are Consistency, Courtesy, Care, and Community Involvement.

Being Consistent is critically important to a business' future success. There's a reason why restaurants, pet stores, hotels, and hardware chains, among others, are so popular. Ideally, they offer consistent service and products offered professionally in multiple locations. Customers know they can get the same products and services offered for about the same price, wherever they go. For some, that may seem "boring," but customers actually yearn for boring over the alternative: inconsistent service and the inability to get their favorite products. Public Relations professionals can guide a business to accept and disseminate internal policies and standard graphics and messaging that will help create a consistent experience for customers.

Courtesy is also an important factor in building Trust. If service is offered in a cold manner, or worse, in a rude manner, the bond of Trust between a customer and a business is broken. This is even the case in a long-term relationship. There's no such thing anymore as a small incident of discourteous conduct. Even one incident in which a customer is treated poorly can ruin a company's reputation in this era of instant online reviews. A Public Relations professional can help isolate and identify areas in which internal standards aren't being met, and can, once those are addressed, help repair and rebuild Trust with customers who experienced a lack of courtesy during a business transaction.

Care is shown in a multitude of ways by a business, and customers recognize when it's not there, contributing to a lack of Trust. Products or services offered in a sloppy, slapdash way can instantly signal to the customer that the business doesn't really care about them. Caring isn't a small thing, it's a major thing, and in fact, should be the top concern of any business. If you're not in business to care for the customer, why are you in business at all? Care can be demonstrated by proper training and internal messaging that makes it clear that business owners have high expectations of their employees. PR can deliver those messages in a compelling and clear way that leaves no doubt that Care is required from everyone.

Finally, Community Involvement can be a tremendous trust-building tool. While some effort should be made not to alienate a customer base with involvement with overtly political or controversial causes, showing concern for one's community is more than a gimmick to grab headlines. Instead, it shows that a business is intimately tied to the community in which they do business, and that they care about their customers' well-being, more than just as a source of cash. Public Relations professionals can help identify community activities that reflect well on a business and help show that concern that leads to stronger feelings of trust with their current and future customers.

For more information about building Trust, visit Abbott Media Group at www.abbottmediagroup.com.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Boycott Of Cafe That Posted "Anti-Gun" Message Becomes Lesson In Political Rhetoric [Abbott Media Group]

Ellen's Cafe in Dallas, Texas is finding out that words have meaning - and that not using the right words, especially in political discussions, can have severe consequences.

If their recent post is accurate, they profoundly blundered when they posted a message on the bottom of their customer receipts that they wanted to advocate for, "reasonable and effective gun regulations."

Their blunder wasn't posting such a message (they have that right, as all Americans do) But because they didn't understand that there's a certain way one speaks in politics and people want to hear "key words" when discussing "hot button" issues - be it gun rights, abortion, among others. And they apparently didn't know this before wading in.

The language they used, for instance, "reasonable and effective" are viewed as 'code words' by those on the political Right and specifically by NRA members as language the Left employs to advocate for strong new laws against gun ownership.

And that's just what happened in this instance. The message was interpreted as a political call to arms to the cafe's liberal customers.

The NRA's twitter account itself posted a photo of the receipt (at left) urging members to avoid the restaurant, which was located near this year's NRA convention site.

The receipt language went viral, of course, and calls for boycotts of the cafe spread across the internet.

The problem was, the cafe owners say they SUPPORT gun rights and the Second Amendment.

They said, in a May 4 Facebook post, their wording mistake was an honest one.

"The opposite is true. We support the Constitution, including the 2nd Amendment, 100%. And like the NRA, we also support finding solutions to the senseless killings that happen much too frequently. We believe those two things are completely compatible."

The cafe, by all accounts, meant well. The cafe held a sympathetic "round table" interview with Dallas Police officers last October about the July, 2016 shooting that killed two Dallas officers. They don't appear to be "anti-gun" any more than they are "anti-cop."

The media, of course, is focusing now on the detestable death threats and anger the errant language provoked, and there really is no excuse for that behavior.

The best lesson that can be learned from this is to use language - in politics, especially - with political sensitivities in mind. Understanding what your audience wants to hear is key to getting your message out to them - whether you're a politician, an interest group, or a cafe owner.


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Stephen Abbott is principal of Abbott Media Group, a reputation agency. www.abbottmediagroup.com

Sunday, February 4, 2018

"Stand By You" Budweiser 2018 #SuperBowlAd is a #PR Winner [Abbott Media Group]


Budweiser took the early lead in the "Public Relations Super Bowl" with its ad, "Stand by You," which aired early in the Third Quarter Sunday night.

The ad tells the story, in a simplified manner, of their efforts to provide cans of water to areas in need during natural disasters in Puerto Rico, California, Florida, Houston, and elsewhere.

I say "simplified," because the beer producing company clearly doesn't switch over to making water by pushing a single button in the brewing facility. But switch over they do, and the good they do is undeniable.

The ad is emotional and effective, clearly portraying the company and its dedicated employees in a positive light. And it's bound to be discussed in post-game discussions throughout the country's living rooms, as well as in the media early in the week. Those in areas of the nation they've served during natural disasters will definitely be talking about this.

This is a clear PR Win for the company, with great exposure during this high profile game.

Nicely done, Budweiser. You win the Super Bowl #PR Ad War!

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Let #AbbottMediaGroup throw a PR and Reputation "Touchdown" for your company, campaign or organization. www.abbottmediagroup.com

Monday, January 29, 2018

5 Characteristics of #Reputation [Abbott Media Group]


Like any tool, a reputation constantly needs sharpening to be effective. But it can be double-edged instrument that can cut you and severely damage you, if you're not careful, or mishandle it.

Reputation can be a hard concept to wrap one’s head around. So, bolstered by wise words of wisdom, here are five characteristics of reputation of which businesses and individuals need to be cognizant when seeking to change or improve their reputations.

1. A Reputation can’t be built on false promises - "The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear," said the Greek philosopher Socrates. Your advertising materials won't fool anyone if your promises aren't being kept. If our luggage is lost, we will not believe the ad calling the airline "competent." In the same way, your company’s reality-on-the-ground must match the rhetoric your Reputation Agency is putting out about you, in order for your believability to remain intact.

2. Reputation must reflect what you’re doing NOW - Automobile manufacturer Henry Ford said, ‘You can’t build a reputation on what you're going to do.” It’s all well and good that you PLAN to do something great. But if you’re not doing it yet, or (worse) if you don’t follow through, it will hurt you more than if you hadn't promised to do it at all. In short, your reputation is a result of what you've done in the past.

3. A reputation pays off in the long run - “A reputation for good judgment, for fair dealing, for truth, and for rectitude is itself a fortune,” said social reformer Henry Ward Beecher. There’s not really a way to weigh the value of a good reputation, or that of a good one that’s been lost. Your customers, if they’re happy, reach out to dozens of people about your products and services, but also about your attitude and helpfulness, and that of your employees. A reputation pays off in many innumerable ways, most of which you will never know.

4. A reputation can’t be a con job - Author and artist Elbert Hubbard wrote, “Many a man’s reputation would not know his character if they met on the street.” A reputation must be true and reflective of the subject it purports to represent. No one can "create" a glowing reputation for someone who's character is genuinely bad. Again, today’s consumers simply are too smart for such a cynical exercise in deception, and frankly, AMG (along with every other ethical PR professional) will not participate in such a deception. As in other examples here, the perception must match the reality. A con job will simply further tarnish a damaged reputation, and it’s simply not worth it. Issues involving the character and practices of your company must be addressed BEFORE “re-launching” yourself and your name to the public.

5. Your reputation can be ruined by others - George Washington said, "Associate with men of good quality, if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company." If you’re associated in the mind of the public with a rouge company or an unscrupulous person - even if it’s not YOUR company or employee - your reputation could be hurt by it in the eyes of the public. That may not be fair, but it’s reality. People sometimes don’t distinguish between you and a bad act committed by someone close to you. As Washington said, in that case, it’s better to be seen alone and apart from them, and AMG can help you distance yourself from trouble with a clear reputation management plan.

Contact Abbott Media Group if you need help creating compelling messages that build your reputation!

By Stephen Abbott, Principal, Abbott Media Group, which creates inspiring, engaging messages that build reputations. On twitter and Facebook.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

How Your Good #Reputation "Adds Up" To Business Success #AbbottMediaGroup

By Stephen Abbott, principal of Abbott Media Group

Public Relations remains a mysterious and nebulous concept for many, though it's actually not a mystery at all. It's an art and a science, applied to business and personal situations to address and solve problems that, if they're left to fester, can have a deleterious effect on one's reputation. That, in turn, can lead to reduced respect, reduced influence in one’s profession and, perhaps most crucially, reduced sales of one's products and/or services.

I've used the acronym "Add Up" to illustrate the process AMG uses on clients' behalf.

Analyze the situation. Jumping in without even rudimentary analysis of the situation is like jumping into a lake one has never seen before – foolish, and possibly dangerous. A situation analysis in PR usually includes discussions with all of the relevant publics involved. A "public" can be management, owners, employees, customers and other stakeholders involved in some way with an organization, company or community. This helps the PR professional learn all the facts on the ground that could be leading to problems that may be contributing to a decline in reputation.

Determine problems. Being able to name a problem is a first step towards solving it. This is true in one's personal life and of course it's true in business as well. Once the situation is fully analyzed, PR professionals can then research the problems as they truly exist and begin to understand what PR tools and tactics will need to be addressed, which is the next step ...

Diagnose the situation. Doctors use their analysis of a patient's health to determine a diagnosis. In the same way, PR professionals can use the analysis and problems that arose in the early stages of the process to come up with a diagnosis, allowing them to move forward to the next stages.

Understand publics. Without an understanding of the publics who will be affected by the messages to be used to address problems and issues, we can't be as effective as we otherwise would. Some PR practitioners don't get this, and end up "shouting from the rooftops" to get their message out, thus possibly squandering all the previous effort in researching and diagnosing problems. Instead, a clear, targeted message is planned and prepared to go out to clearly identified targets. This is absolutely essential for the success of any PR campaign.

Present the campaign to the relevant publics. All of the research, analysis and planning leads up to a campaign that is presented to predetermined target groups, i.e., those who will most benefit from and be positively influenced by messages that will enhance the client’s reputation and standing in the community, their ability to continue to grow or expand, or other goals that can be measured over time.

This final "implementation phase" utilizes tools and tactics of the PR professional that best meet the needs of the campaign at hand. This expertise, along with the ability to comprehend and work through the previous steps, is why it's best to hire a PR professional to enhance, change and manage your reputation.

Public Relations, and the enhancement of reputation it can bring, "Adds Up" to the continued success of your business, organization or personal fulfillment. 

In sum, the accomplishment of your business goals is in a very real way connected to maintaining good relations with those whom your business interacts with daily, as well as creating inroads with those who will become clients and customers in the future.

Contact Abbott Media Group to learn more about how your reputation can benefit from Public Relations in 2018.