Five predictions for marketing in 2018

Now is the time when prognosticators pull out the crystal ball and give their best shot at predicting the future—and we at Wellons Communications are no different.Blog

We enjoy looking ahead, but what’s more, we feel it is our duty to visualize what changes in public relations are coming so our clients can prepare for how these changes may impact their businesses.

Of course, no forecast of the future is ever perfect. Nevertheless, here’s what we see for public relations in 2018:

Content marketing will begin to “shape shift”

Consumers are reeling from the amount of information they are receiving. Because of that, in 2018, marketers will start to make adjustments to both the amount of content they throw at their customers and how they deliver content. Be prepared to see more short videos and billboard-like messages that focus on brand names and benefits.

Simplicity will make a comeback

The avalanche of content aimed at consumers, combined with the onset of new products and services technology is spawning, will be confusing to many consumers, particularly older Americans (i.e. the Baby Boomers and Generation X).

Products and services that clearly and simply explain what they do and how they benefit consumers will succeed.  Marketers whose “pitch” is rooted in techno-babble will become lost a fog of uncertainty, creating an opportunity for those who understand the confusion of customers overloaded by a mountain of information that multiplies daily.

The accuracy of content on social media will attract some skepticism

Social media will continue to be a powerful influencer of how people respond to society and how they view what is happening. With the rise of inaccurate information (“fake news”) on social media, however, consumers might think twice about the accuracy of content that floats across their screens.

Generation Z will begin to overtake Millennials as a prime marketing target

Generation Z, those young adults who were 9 years old when Facebook was introduced, are now 22. They will be entering the workforce in significant numbers. Marketers, of course, will flock to Generation Z to influence their brand preferences and buying habits.

This creates another opportunity. Marketers whose products and services remain appropriate for Baby Boomers and Generation X, who may be overlooked in the rush to capture Generation Z, can retain and grow their relationships with these established, less technically savvy cohorts.

Continued economic growth will hit some bumps in the road

The extraordinary rise in the Dow Jones averages during 2017 cannot last forever. But, like past market rises, no one wants to think about a “correction” or even a decline in the market. Some of the steam will eventually run out of the extraordinary market run-up we have all enjoyed, but this leveling out may create an over-reaction in the opposite direction. That means companies need to make hay while the sun shines—and that your reputation is more important than ever.

So why are these predictions important to you?

We visualize what we think is going to happen for two reasons:

  1. To capitalize on opportunities for our customers.
  2. To protect the financial welfare of our clients.

That’s why we try to accurately peer into and predict the future of the industry—so we can put it to work for you.

Let me know what kinds of predictions you have for 2018. Better yet, contact us at 407-339-0879, will@wellonscommunications.com and see how we can help you capitalize on what you believe will be happening.

Happy New Year!

2018 is just around the corner. How far along is your marketing planning?

It’s not even December, but doesn’t it feel like Christmas is already in full swing? And what happened to Thanksgiving?

Though the sugarplums dancing in our heads are nice, it all serves as a stark reminder that the year is almost over—and that your marketing and public relations planning for 2018 should be already be completed.

Are you ready?

2018 planningReady or not, 2018 is almost here

One reason marketers have to plan so far ahead is that competition for attention has ramped up to never-before-seen levels. And it’s not just your competitors with whom you are battling for attention.

Consumers are bombarded with more advertisements and messages than ever before.

The “white noise” that surrounds communications today means that marketing planning, and the messages that characterize your marketing effort, need to be carefully crafted to align with what you want to accomplish and what your customers want.

You need to both formulate and prioritize your objectives, narrowing them down to what is affordable, practical and realistically, possible. Once you have nailed down your objectives and envisioned the strategies that will serve as the pathways to realizing them, then (and only then), will the tactics you will employ become clear.

This approach may sound over simplified, but defining objectives, strategies, and tactics is at the heart of every sound marketing plan…and the public relations plan that supplements it.

Your marketing has to put your customer first

Your customer must be the ultimate focus your marketing plan. After all, they are who will be looking at your communications and asking “What’s in it for me?”

Asking questions about you, of course, assumes that your targets pay attention to your messages. Taken one step further, that means you need to know what your customers want and craft communications that clearly state how your product, service, or idea will benefit them.

And that’s where marketing public relations, the style of public relations we practice at Wellons Communications, enters the picture.

We believe PR exists solely to sell products, services, and ideas

We believe whatever creative ideas you develop have to arrive at the intersection of connecting with your audience while achieving your goals. But creative ideas are more than headlines, slogans, and catchy graphics.

Great creative ideas are most often based on sound research.

That doesn’t mean commissioning a costly study by a think tank…research can be informal and based on common sense, but whatever research you have that defines the wants and needs of your target audience will lead to maximizing your chances of success.

At Wellons Communications, we start with whatever research is available to contribute to strategic approaches like increasing awareness, boosting social media following, or generating press coverage—all of which are eventually aimed at sales results.

Learn more about how we practice marketing communications, not just public relations. Call me at 407-339-0879 or email me at will@wellonscommunications.com and see how we can give your 2018 marketing plans a boost.

Communication is all about consistency

Website blog cartoon vertical

It’s fun to have a new toy for your business, and it can definitely feel like a win to finish a big project, like a website redesign. Knowing how you’re going to use a new tool – and how it’s going to work with your overall communications program – is half the battle. After all, what good is a new website if customers can’t find you or if your content is stagnant and stale? Communication is all about consistency, and that’s where we come in.

Want to reach your customers? You gotta run.

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.
It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning a lion wakes up.
It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
It doesn’t matter whether you are the lion or the gazelle.
When the sun comes up, you better start running.

African proverb

Getting your message out to your target audiences must be an important priority in your business. If you drag your heels reaching out to your clients and potential clients, you can bet your competitors are working to fill the void.

Why the urgency?

Because no one is holding their breath waiting to hear from you.

Important ideas have to be repeated  often

At Wellons Communications, we believe in the Rule of Seven: Seven impressions are required to effectively communicate an important thought or concept.Lion gazelle

The core message can be the same, but it needs to be conveyed at least seven times to break through the “white noise” of communications.

So how do you know when you have achieved the Rule of Seven?

Results.

Whatever metrics are important to you should either change (or remain the same) when your target audiences have absorbed your message.

What kinds of results? Sales should show positive results. Awareness should increase. Perception of your service or product should be aligned with how you want your product or service to be recognized. Customers and clients should be more attuned to what you are can do – and are doing – and why you are important to their welfare.

We get those results

Our organization conducts communications programs that strive for positive marketing results, not simply publicity or news coverage that puts you in front of your audience on a one-time basis.

The only reason you are in business, after all, is to sell something. And our job is to help you sell it.

We go about it from two vantage points:

1) Creating opportunities for you to tell your story and create awareness of the benefits of your product or service
2) Removing any barriers from your ability to reach your key audiences

We aggressively seek and capitalize on communications opportunities that can benefit you and obliterate any barriers (e.g. misconceptions, underutilization of available resources, competitive claims) that can stand in the way of your business.

So what’s stopping you?

One of the most common barriers to marketing success is getting timely approvals to launch messaging programs.

Plans can reside inboxes for weeks before reviewed and Okay-ed. Decisions on strategies and tactical programs can be pushed off until “we get it just right.”

Meanwhile, your competitors are running circles around you. They are getting closer to reaching seven points of contact with your target audiences before you.

Like the gazelle and the lion, you have to run fast

Today’s hyper-speed communications environment demands that you work fast.

Our team at Wellons Communications recognizes how important that is.

Like the gazelle and the lion, we run as fast as we can every single day and craft programs that our clients may have not yet considered.

Find out just how fast we can move. Give me a call at 407-339-0879 or email me at will@wellonscommunications.com to learn more about what we can do to help boost your marketing communications.

Crisis PR: When the storm hits, how will you respond?

Late August and early September 2017 will be remembered in history because of the enormous impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

But how are you going to be remembered for how you responded to the needs of your clients during these two natural disasters?

In a crisis, you demonstrate what you really can do for your clients

Ask yourself:

Crisis CommunicationDid I contact my clients and ask what I could do for them?

Did I identify actions or situations where I could offer assistance?

Did I think about my client’s clients or customers? Specifically, did I point out actions or communications that would let my client’s clients and customers know they were thinking about them?

Did I make any recommendations that would benefit my client?

Did I identify any threats to my client’s business from the hurricanes?

The point is: those in the PR and communications field can underscore their usefulness and compassion for their clients by simply acknowledging they are thinking about them and their needs.

What can you do to help clients during a crisis?

Put yourself in your client’s shoes for a moment. They may be without power. They may have power, but no access to Internet, television, or telephones.

Can you make your communications facilities available to your client?

Can you relay messages to their clients or customers?

Can you access the Internet and post communications that will let your client’s clients know what is going on?

Take a cue from power companies and news organizations

Power companies are, by and large, doing a fabulous job of keeping people notified about when and where power will be restored. Their spokespeople and their employees have worked tirelessly to ensure that power company personnel are working around the clock to restore power in an orderly and timely manner and to communicate how the power restoration is progressing.

News organizations, particularly in radio, have tapped into spokespeople who can inform listeners, readers, and viewers (for those who have been able to keep their television running) what is happening.

And remember, companies that get the news out to the media first are those that will be remembered.

Look for follow up situations that can help your client

The impact of the two hurricanes, like many other disasters, will be long-term. Disasters and crises will always pose a threat to people and businesses.

Because of that, people will want to see and read about how you—and your clients—responded to the event. These are stories that have positive meaning and can illustrate your responsiveness and utility to those who can benefit from your services.

These stories deserve a place in your history—and on your website. Better yet, illustrate the stories with photos or graphics that help make the story come to life.

We are already communicating … and looking for opportunities to further communicate your story during challenging times

The Wellons Communication team has been hard at work for our clients throughout the duration of these two natural disasters.

We have identified stories that are newsworthy, and more importantly, useful to the well-being of our clients (and their clients and customers). We have moved with a sense of urgency that is demanded by the media and are continuing to serve as a source of accurate, reliable information.

To add Wellons Communications to your team and demonstrate how capably your organization addresses crisis management, call me at 407-339-0879 or email me at will@wellonscommunications.com and put us to work for you.

How to get more media coverage for your company

Sometimes you make news and don’t even know it. Other times, you have a big story to tell, but you fail to capitalize on it.

Companies that generate positive publicity are often the first to respond to opportunities and take advantage of them. They move with a sense of urgency and find a way to cut through the approval process to put their message ahead of others competing for recognition.Past deadlines

Journalists, no matter what media they serve (TV, online, print), work against deadlines — and that means those who recognize deadlines and respond to them as quickly as possible are often those chosen to be quoted or recognized, particularly in fast-breaking news situations.

Here’s the formula: Editorial need + Content = Publicity

Editors have an insatiable need for content. The journalists who serve the editors (and ultimately, their audience) are required to create that content — and deliver it in time to meet demanding editorial deadlines.

Publicity-hungry companies, however, often drag their heels in making decisions about getting ahead of the news or responding to it. They often bring too many people into the decision-making process which slows up the approval process and causes them to issue news after it has already broken or moved out of the news cycle.

Jack be nimble. Jack be quick

Take a close look within your organization and identify who can (and should) make decisions on issuing news information.

The list should be short (the fewer the better) and limited to those who can make on-the-spot decisions while still ensuring whatever you issue is accurate and meets the criteria of what editors or journalists are seeking.

Strive for decisions that allow your publicist or PR team to get the news out the door and to the media. Drafts of press releases, quotes, plans and programs that sit in inboxes don’t have a chance until the information is actually distributed. And if that information is issued after a deadline, fuhgeddaboudit, as our friends in Manhattan would say.

The companies who make the news first are often those who reacted quickly or anticipated a journalistic need.

Be a soothsayer. Identify — or announce — a trend.

Sometimes news exists where you least expect it — like in research about your industry or observations from your staff.

If you can recognize a trend, you can own the trend. But you have to tell people about that trend before they can recognize it.

If you see, for example, that contract managers are overwhelmed by data, resulting in missing contract expiration dates or the information in the fine print, say it. And back it up with data that makes your observation valid.

Even if the information is old hat to you, it may be brand new to a journalist, particularly if that journalist is new to your beat.

Editors love to “discover” trends and reporters love fleshing out what might be totally new information for their readers and viewers.

Does all this guarantee news coverage?

Nope.

When you compete for news, you are up against more than your competitors.

You are battling for share of mind and space against everything else in the world. Presidential tweets. Kim Jong Un’s latest missile test. Taylor Swift’s hairstyle. Tropical depressions in the Caribbean. Solar eclipses. The latest diet trend.

Your news has to battle its way through a maze that is constantly shifting, with stories moving up and down in relevance.

News shape-shifting is the primary reason no one can guarantee publicity.

You must be willing to release information on time, with the same sense of urgency editors and journalists live by. You must provide information that makes sense for each media’s audience. You must put your news into a competitive posture…and the simple act of getting it out there is the first step. You news cannot make news while residing an inbox.

We work to serve our clients…and the media in which they want to appear.

Our team has experienced how news teams function…from both sides of the desk. We know how challenging news-gathering can be. And we know how challenging getting news out to editors and reporters can be.

If you want to get more news coverage, particularly coverage that defines you as a recognized leader in your chosen field, call on us.

We work quickly, effectively, and with the kind of savvy that comes from working in a newsroom.

Find out more. Call me at 407-339-0879 or email me at will@wellonscommunications.com.

Say it again…and again…and again…

When you step back and examine what you say to potential customers, how consistent is your message?

Does your message say the same thing every time?

Or does it introduce a new thought to an audience that requires some time to absorb?

The wisdom of The Rule of Seven7

One of the tenants to which we adhere at Wellons Communication is The Rule of Seven.

The Rule of Seven says you need seven points of contact with your audience to convey your message.

Why does it take seven times to get your message across?

Because in today’s communications-centric world, people are overloaded with information. Emails, tweets, cable TV, apps, newspapers, and magazines…the list of the different media that impact consumers is long. The list of information they project on a daily basis is even longer.

Because there are so many messages impacting us daily, saying the same thing over and over again is critical to get one’s point across.

Fighting message fatigue

One of the characteristics aggressive marketers exhibit is that they are often the first to grow weary of message consistency. The general feeling often is “We’ve already told ‘em that,” followed by the launch of a new and different message.

The reality is that potential customers, as well as current customers, may not have seen your original communication — or are so busy dealing with their own business that your message has not had time to sink in.

We believe that consistency is key to effectively conveying whatever it is you want your audience to know about you. And that means sticking with a sound strategy and message without growing weary of saying it over and over again.

What’s the one thing you want your audience to know about you?

One of the benefits of stating — and repeating — your core message is that you take ownership of your communications.

That notion is comparable to the oft used “elevator speech” concept: if you have 30 seconds to tell your story, what would you say?

Drilling down to your core message, and re-stating it at every opportunity, helps you meet the Rule of Seven and reinforce the key principle that makes your business unique and even more importantly, valuable to your potential clients.

Fight the urge to keep changing the message

Marketers are smart people who have a lot of ideas and are eager to try them out to see if they can improve marketing results. That intelligence, however, can be a detriment if messages keep changing constantly.

Customers and potential customers don’t require a hit on the head to understand what you are saying. What they do require is seeing and hearing the same thing on a regular, consistent basis. It’s a philosophy that effective advertisers have used for more than a century and one that is adaptable, albeit in a different fashion, in publicity and public relations.

We encourage staying the course and communicating in a regular, organized, and consistent manner. It’s easier on your audiences to remember what you are saying and when they need you, easier to remember who to call.

If you are in need of well-crafted, effective communications that are results-oriented, call me at 407-339-0879 or email me at will@wellonscommunications.com.

Like the communications programs we advocate, we will consistently answer the call, always in the same fashion, and then look for new and innovative approaches that will help stretch your marketing dollar and improve results.

Say it with a smile: When humor works in communications

Take a look at almost every headline in today’s news. Terrorist attacks, investigations, tweetstorm responses – bad news (or the threat of bad news) is the subject of almost every headline.

In the midst of negativity, we at Wellons Communications have adopted an approach that positions our clients in a positive light and allows their message to battle its way though the clutter.

If you have already looked at the accompanying cartoon before you started reading, then you have personally experienced a strategic approach that is working wonders for our clients.WCCommunications

Our approach is humor. It’s an approach that gives your audience a time out – a reason to smile or laugh and break away from all the gloomy news that currently dominates the headlines.

Combine humor with visuals

Our use of humor is centered on a totally serious objective: conveying our client’s message in a way that allows that message to be noticed.

We strengthen our use of humor with eye-catching visuals.

We don’t always rely on the usual visuals like photos. Instead, we are frequently use cartoons to provide a unique point of view for our clients.

Each of the cartoons we produce is original and carefully prepared to serve as a platform for our client’s message.

The approach is affordable and in today’s grim-faced news environment, it is effective because humor contrasts to the negativity that seemingly dominates media attention.

Respect the power of cartoons to project a thought or message

Once you’ve looked at a well-crafted cartoon backed up by a clever caption, you can’t un-ring the bell. Your message has been projected in memorable fashion.

In an overloaded world of e-mails, Facebook postings and tweets, cartoons stand out. And that’s precisely why the cartoons we frequently use for our clients succeed.

Cartoons exemplify the creative approach we use for clients

The use of cartoon visuals and captions is not necessarily a new approach. However, in today’s overheated communications environment, it’s an approach that is, by its nature, different.

It’s a creative use of an old technique. And it is a technique that, when properly employed, stands apart from everything else.

If you are looking for affordable, creative, and effective communications programs that deliver results, give me a call at 407-339-0879 or email me at will@wellonscommunications.com.

I’ll respond at once (although not with a cartoon) with some preliminary thoughts that can kick-start or re-invigorate your marketing program. And that’s no laughing matter.

Don’t wait until the new year to change your communications strategy

We are already half way through 2017 — can you believe it? We’re betting those New Year’s resolutions are feeling a long way off.

But what about your goals for your business?

Just like the daily trips to the gym you promised yourself would happen, goals for your business’s health should never be put on the back burner. We know even the best laid plans can get lost in the shuffle, and it can be discouraging not to see the results you want — but if your communications strategy is not working, change it.

Try these tips to turn around lagging results.Ben Franklin

Get a fresh perspective. If you don’t love the results from a campaign, try looking at your strategy with a new set of eyes. Pull some members of your team onto the project, and see if they have suggestions. Call up a mentor and ask her if she has had that experience before. Other people might offer up ideas you haven’t thought of before.

Draw from success. You’ve had success before. Why is this different? Are there aspects of strategies you used before that you could pull in to make this campaign more successful? Carefully look over past data or analyze past experiences and see if you can draw new conclusions.

Take inspiration from your inspirations. Most business leaders have a list of companies they admire. Check in on yours. Look over their content, including blogs, newsletters and social media. What are they doing to communicate that you like? Incorporate some of the same strategies in your own efforts.

Still stuck? Call in the experts. At Wellons Communications, we have years of experience in analyzing business situations, developing a plan, and executing on actionable items to tell your story. Don’t wait until the new year. Give us a call at 407-339-0878 or email me at will@wellonscommunications.com to get started on your plan.

What companies can learn about crisis PR from the United Airlines leggings incident

On Sunday morning, a United Airlines gate attendant barred two teenage girls from boarding a flight from Denver to Minneapolis because they were wearing leggings. News of the leggings incident went viral, and within hours, United Airlines had a PR crisis on its hands.

The incident started when Shannon Watts, political activist and founder of Moms Demand Action, overheard the exchange and tweeted about the incident to her followers.

 

 

The airline responded to the public backlash with its own tweets to explain the incident.   

 

 

The company also issued a release explaining customers are welcome to wear leggings on its flights. The release explains that United views employee pass riders as representatives of the company and expects them to be appropriately dressed for flights.

 

 

Though United responded quickly to the crisis, customers, activists and even celebrities such as Chrissy Teigen and Patricia Arquette have expressed anger about the incident.

Jonathan Guerin, a United spokesperson, said himself the airline should have done a better job of responding to the situation. According to Reuters, Guerin said, “We’ll definitely take something away from today, but we’ll continue to engage with our customers (on social media).”

So what can other companies take away from this viral situation when facing their own crisis?

First, never underestimate the power of social media. Incidents today don’t stay contained, and with Facebook and Twitter, angry customers have an easy—and potentially viral—outlet.

Second, be sincere. Many considered United’s response to the issue stilted or unsympathetic. As per the Reuters article, Guerin said the company could have been more clear in its initial response to the issue.

Finally, have a plan for your social media outlets. United did a great job of responding to a potential issue quickly and telling its side of the story, but because the initial response was bungled, it backfired. Know what kinds of feedback you need to respond to, what you’ll say, and in what format you will respond.

After all, the best way to handle a crisis is to prepare for it before you’re facing it. If you need help crafting your plan, give us a call. At Wellons Communications, we have experience in social media and in handling crisis situations, and we can help you put your best foot forward. Give us a call today at 407-339-0879.