PR pros say storytelling is key in emotional branding

Storytelling-Inpost

Recently I was asked through a journalist query about the new trend of brands understanding the great value of associating their products or ideas with positive emotions in order to persuade audiences, customers, voters, etc. You might think this concept is intuitive and age-old, but marketers are always looking for new names for old ideas—that is called “re-branding,” right?

Emotional branding coupled with compelling storytelling proves to be particularly effective and even more engaging as the “seller” has an even greater chance of connecting with a “buyer” through common experience hooks. Storytelling is key—people relate to life stories, much more so than content that features or promotes a product. When it comes to online video advertisements, which people have a choice to view, or skip, they would rather be told a story they can relate to than have products pushed at them.

Emotional storytelling and branding campaigns have historically been the most successful as they tap into our primal emotional needs for survival or feeling good about our decisions and ourselves. Our central brain limbic system processes images, and all sensory stimuli almost instantaneously and advertisers presenting commercial images that resonate with our basic needs always win the branding race.

If you show a smiling face on TV or hear laughing on audio media, your first reaction is to pull up memories of your own positive reactions. If those positive reactions are associated with a product or idea, of course you will initially have good associations with what the advertiser is selling. The powerful results from using emotions to brand products are that the connections happen so quickly—even before we process the persuasion at our cognitive level. In reality, we are convinced before we really have time to think about a choice.

If you eventually decide to dispute the theme of the ad, you have to have really compelling new information to do so because you really have to overcome that crucial first impression. And we all know how hard it is to overcome first impressions, to do so is really arguing with oneself.

So, go for the emotional branding target. It’s been the most successful way to persuade an audience since the first human mother smiled at her baby and the baby smiled back, without thinking at all.

Guest contributor Scott Sobel, MA Media Psychology, is president of Media & Communications Strategies, Inc., a Washington, DC-based public relations firm.

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BNN’s The Disruptors: Content is king, especially for HBO & sports broadcasters (or, down Periscope)

content

It’s now the third week of BNN’s The Disruptors and the show’s co-hosts Bruce Croxon and Amber Kanwar are really finding their groove. Interviews with potential disruptors — such as Kanwar’s interview with Brainsights — are interesting, but most compelling are the insights shared by Croxon.

Investor and entrepreneur Bruce Croxon is obviously very knowledgeable, and much of his wisdom gets tweeted and retweeted on Twitter.

I personally could relate to Croxon’s latest comments on content — especially being the CEO of a technology-based media monitoring and analysis company.

The obvious value for sports broadcasters, and the American premium network HBO, is their unique content that’s in high demand.

But social media platforms and social tools, such as video streaming app Periscope, are changing the game.

We’ve already seen one sports league — the British Premier league — try to clamp down on fans posting Vine videos of EPL content online.

Periscope, which has a fast-growing user base of over one million, is also being used often (along with competitor Meerkat) at sporting events. But now North American leagues, such as the NHL, are also cracking down.

As Croxon says, “you cannot mess with their content”.

But as we know from past experience, people will always find a way — especially with the emergence of disruptive technology that can change things overnight.

Find their latest episode online.

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Political PR: Rand Paul should Fire His Communications Manager

Rand Paul shushes interviewer

Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul has a problem with female reporters, that seems pretty clear. But the fact that he has repeated his condescending behavior during what he calls “contentious” interviews is a bigger issue.

The Jheri-curled candidate most recently tried to talk over NBC reporter Savannah Guthrie, suggesting a better way for her to conduct her interview.

“Why don’t we let me explain instead of talking over me, OK? Before we go through a litany of things you say I’ve changed on, why don’t you ask me a question: ‘Have I changed my opinion?’ That would be a better sort of way to approach an interview.”

This comes just a couple of months after, during his run-up to throwing his hat in the ring, he actually shushed CNBC’s Kelly Evans when she tried asking him a follow-up question about his proposed corporate tax holiday. Both incidents were accompanied by the dreaded finger- or hand-wagging.

It’s not unusual for a politician to pivot, obfuscate, or even attempt to talk over a reporter. Chris Christie, yet to formally declare, is known for his abrasiveness with both interviewers and constituents, especially those who won’t let him speak. But Paul appears eager to call out what he considers to be “rude” behavior when these female reporters are doing exactly what they’re paid to do.

Whether true or not, the impression he is putting out there is that he doesn’t respect women, or at least intelligent ones asking intelligent questions. While he has insisted he is an “equal opportunity” grump, no one has noticed his inflammatory interviews with male reporters, or those interviews simply are not going viral. Google or Youtube “Rand Paul testy interview” and you won’t find anything but his confrontations with female reporters, and others calling him out for his behavior in those interviews.

“I’d rather not have contentious interviews,” he told Fox’s Megyn Kelly in his defense, claiming that Guthrie was yelling during the interview (she was not, as Kelly noted). “I’d rather do 30 minutes with Charlie Rose, laid back in a lazy boy chair.”

This from a man running for the highest office in the land, a drag-down fight to the finish that leaves only those with the thickest skin standing after a grueling 20-month campaign that has barely gotten out of the starting block.

To her credit, Kelly points out that the women reporters in question are more than capable of standing up for themselves, and don’t need other journalists to come to their defense, noting the sexism inherent in critics’ response to perceived sexist behavior by the candidate.

However, any political campaign rests largely on impressions. If Sen. Paul is so obtuse to not realize the impression he’s making among not only women voters but the men who respect them—and to not fix the problem pronto—he’s not fit for the office of president.

Guest contributor, Gary Frisch is president of Swordfish Communications, a public relations agency in Laurel Springs, N.J.

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How the PR and marketing team from Maker’s Mark Distillery put the brakes on watering down their bourbon whiskey

Maker's Mark

Customer loyalty is extremely important to any brand. But when it comes to soft drinks, beer, wine, and spirits, people want consistency. These types of consumer products evoke emotions and even help define the person consuming them.

So when companies change ingredients, recipe, or even the branding, it’s at their own peril. Brands must listen to their loyal customers.

Luckily for Maker’s Mark Distillery, their PR and marketing team were monitoring social and traditional media before they attempted to lower the alcohol content of their bourbon whiskey.

Their loyal base railed against the idea, and Maker’s Mark listened.

Maker’s Mark doesn’t just listen to its loyal consumers, though. They also take brand loyalty to extreme—if you’re a loyal customer, they might even slap your name on a barrel of Maker’s Mark bourbon.

Download our free Brand Advocacy whitepaper to learn more about what Maker’s Mark does for its customers.

Brand Advocacy Whitepaper

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What you should know about Google’s mobile updates

Mobile Optimization

In late February, Google announced it planned to introduce changes to its ubiquitous search algorithm on April 21 to “help users discover more mobile-friendly content.”

What this means is that if your website isn’t programmed to display responsively on a mobile device, you won’t receive the Google juice you’re used to getting.

It’s now been a week since the launch, and while the results are still unclear — primarily because Google itself says the update will take weeks to roll out — it’s widely believed the change is a good thing for the Internet at large.

The reason is simple: mobile optimization has become all-important. A report from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) predicted that mobile-broadband usage was set to reach 2.3 billion by the end of that year, meaning more people than ever are relying on mobile devices to access the Internet.

And according to a comScore report from August 2014, 60 per cent of all digital media consumption in the US now occurs on mobile devices.

In 2013, 73 per cent of the global online population accessed the Internet via mobile devices; by 2017, it’s estimated that number will grow to 90 per cent. And Google, in its desire to continuously improve the user experience for all internet users, has changed its algorithm to reflect that.

Christopher Mulcahey, Lead Developer at Insight Design, sees the change as necessary. In light of the statistics, he explains, “building a fluid layout that adapts to various screen sizes is the only option.”

If your website is not already mobile-friendly, now is the time to make it so. But before you do, here are three things to know:

  1. The update only impacts results shown on mobile phones: Even if your site is not mobile-friendly, it will maintain its Google rank when the search is done from a desktop or even a tablet. If most of your traffic comes from desktops, a redesign might not be as crucial as you think.
  2. The update will only demote mobile-unfriendly websites for non-branded searches: If someone uses a mobile device to search for your site, it will still appear near the top, regardless of its mobile-friendliness. Google has determined that to omit a searched-for site just because it doesn’t display properly would be a worse experience for the user.
  3. Google has made it easy to gauge the mobile-friendliness of your site: By clicking here, you’ll be able to enter any URL and see just what Google thinks of its mobile responsiveness.

Google has long been known as an Internet trailblazer — with this latest update, though, they might be seen not as necessarily setting the trend, but simply reacting to an ever-changing market.

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GOP presidential nomination: Cruz vs. Rubio edition

republicans logo

Politicians of all stripes and affiliations know just how important it is to get their campaign off on the right foot.

Naturally a huge part of that is initially announcing your campaign, along with getting traction on that announcement both in traditional and social media.

In that respect, being first would seem to count for something, at least in terms of publicity. Because Ted Cruz—the first Republican candidate to publicly announce his Presidential bid—is the early winner in the Twitter war surrounding the GOP nomination, at least between himself and fellow nominee Marco Rubio.

(Rand Paul is the other GOP candidate to formally declare his bid, but was not included in this current analysis. We’ll be running a series of posts on the U.S. presidential nomination battle throughout the spring and summer).

GOP Twitter Mentions chart

As the chart shows, Mr. Rubio received a tremendous boost in Twitter mentions around March 23 when he became the first candidate to formally declare. His campaign received such a boost, in fact, that his handle was still trending two days following the official announcement.

And as you can see from the chart, his mentions—which were quite sparse before he took the plunge—stayed at a relatively sustained level the rest of the period.

Mr. Cruz even received a secondary boost when Marco Rubio declared a few weeks later, on April 13, because tweets about Mr. Rubio’s news that day also mentioned Mr. Cruz’s candidacy.

Mr. Rubio, for his part, also received a significant boost when he declared. But it was less than half as large, volume-wise, as Mr. Cruz (the former was also mentioned in around 10,000 fewer online news articles in March-April than the latter).

Much of this could be due to the sheer popularity of the candidates. But Mr. Rubio actually has more followers on Twitter, making the timing of each candidate’s announcements seem even more impactful.

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BNN’s The Disruptors: Disrupting the traditional media tour with social savvy

The Disruptors on Twitter

Now that The Disruptors’ maiden episode is out of the way, BNN’s latest business show on disruptive companies and technology can now concentrate on building its following.

Before last week’s premiere, co-hosts Bruce Croxon and Amber Kanwar did the traditional media tours to promote the show, visiting media outlets such as CTV’s Canada AM and talk radio station CFRB in Toronto.

But what other ways did they use to promote the show?

The emerging bellwether for gauging a show’s success is social media, and more specifically, Twitter. The social platform has quickly established itself as the mainstay for not only gauging the popularity of a show, but it also allows for audience participation and for the producers to draw the audience into the show.

As broadcast shows compete for eyeballs, social media interaction is crucial. And in this regard, The Disruptors hosts have been doing all the right things.

Both Croxon and Kanwar’s personal Twitter accounts had over 100 mentions on the day of the show, and both co-hosts actively engaged with fans. The co-hosts’ tweets were regularly retweeted.

Before last week’s premiere, even though the show had a Twitter hashtag (#theDisruptors), it actually didn’t have a Twitter account. It does now, though, and viewers are now also engaging with the show itself.

This is a great example of how social media has established itself as a disruptor in terms of the traditional methods for getting the word out about a show: The Disruptors and its hosts are demonstrating that every day, with their active participation in social media, which increases fan engagement and helps win new fans of the show along the way.

To date, the show has had over 300 mentions on Twitter and that activity is trending upwards. This has partially been partially nurtured by the show’s new Twitter account, along with the efforts of Croxon and Kanwar.

Don’t get me wrong — traditional media still has a very big role to play here. I know this personally, because that’s where I originally heard about the show. But I think it’s fair to say that the show and co-hosts have now transitioned from a traditional media tour to a social media tour.

Not only does it perpetuate the momentum of the show, but it’s also low cost.

Maybe in The Disruptors’ next episode, they could focus on the effect of social media in show business — it’s something they seem to know something about.

Just saying.

BNN’s The Disruptors airs every Thursday night at 8:30 PM EST. You can catch the latest episode on its home page.

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Media monitoring: a growth hacker’s secret weapon

Growth Hacking

Startups rely heavily on getting the word out about their product/service. Most new companies tend to have little to no marketing communications budget, which can significantly impair their rate of growth and chances of success.

But there is a lean, innovative way to increase growth without spending a lot of money: growth hacking.

A growth hacker has only one goal in mind: to exponentially increase a company’s growth. Traditional marketing and public relations/communications professionals focus on growth too, but growth hackers take this important KPI to an entirely new level, with a focus on using low-cost mediums like social media, landing pages, A/B testing and search engine optimization.

But using these low-cost mediums requires an extensive understanding of the marketplace and target demographic. This is where startups can incorporate a growth hacker’s secret weapon into their growth-hacking regime, to gain the key insights and analytics they need to ensure successful growth: media monitoring and analysis.

  1. Community growth

According the Pew Center for Research’s Social Media Update 2014, 52% of online adults now use 2 or more social media sites. This makes social media one of the best outlets for nurturing and accelerating growth, even with small marketing budgets. If you’re willing to put the time and effort into managing your community, monitoring and analyzing social media can help your company quickly and easily:

  • Know who is talking about your business and what they’re talking about (even if they’re not directly talking to you);
  • Use the above as opportunities to directly engage with your community by offering advice, content, or ideas based on what is being talked about;
  • Identify your brand ambassadors and possible ways for them to champion your brand;
  • Know where the majority of your community can be found online (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, website discussion boards);
  • And know what is trending in general, in your industry and within your community.
  1. Customer growth and support

Before making a purchase, especially from an up-and-coming company, most customers will do their preliminary research online. Search Engine Land says that “88% Of Consumers Trust Online Reviews As Much As Personal Recommendations.” That’s why it’s important for companies to take online customer service into consideration when implementing growth hacking strategies. Media monitoring and analysis for customer growth and support can help your company:

  • Understand your customer’s wants and needs so you can specifically tailor your product offering and content;
  • Find other potential customers who are looking for a solution your company can offer;
  • And use social media as a customer support system to solve issues before they become bigger problems.

Response time is a key factor in effectively managing your customer support and growth. Facebook has even added a new feature that allows you to track your typical response times.

  1. Content growth

According to Unbounce.com’s article 10 Content Marketing Growth Hacks, 53 per cent of marketers believe that content creation is the most effective SEO tactic. Content marketing is an inexpensive yet effective way to reach your company’s target demographic, but sometimes it can be difficult to determine what type of content will resonate with this audience.

By using media monitoring and analysis, your company can improve their content marketing strategy by having a better understanding of:

  • What topics your customers talking about;
  • What content type is getting a lot of buzz in your industry;
  • What questions are commonly being asked in your space;
  • Which recurring question that haven’t been answered;
  • And know which headlines and content types perform better.
  1. Business development and differentiation

When developing your business, it’s important to have an understanding of who your competitors are, what their unique selling proposition is, and how they differentiate themselves in the marketplace. Media monitoring and analysis can make competitive analysis easy, so your company can know exactly who your competitors are, and:

  • What their share of voice is;
  • What channels they’re on;
  • What topics they talk about most frequently;
  • How customers perceive them;
  • What their company does differently from other companies;
  • How your company can differentiate itself from the rest.

It’s also important to understand your industry’s marketplace and business landscape when trying to exponentially increase the growth of your company. Having a fundamental understanding of the following will give your company a leg up in developing your growth hacking strategy and differentiating your product/service from your competition:

  • What is relevant to your target demographic;
  • Industry pain points that need to be addressed;
  • News impacting your industry;
  • General topics trending within your industry;
  • Gaps in industry offerings, perfect for new product or service development.

Are you using media monitoring and analysis to influence growth for your company? Let us know some of the strategies you’re using in the comments below!

 

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New BNN show The Disruptors gets positive reaction on Twitter

The Disruptors

Last night was the premiere of BNN’s show The Disruptors, co-hosted by entrepreneur, investor, and former Dragon’s Den cast member Bruce Croxon and financial reporter Amber Kanwar.

The Disruptors looks at current and upcoming technologies that can potentially be the next big thing in the marketplace. The Disruptor is a weekly show and airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Because the show appears on niche business channel BNN, Twitter interaction was modest, but engaged.


The co-hosts regularly plugged the show’s hashtag #thedisruptors, which was tweeted over 50 times during and after the show. However, as of yet, the show does not have it own Twitter account (UPDATE: You can now follow The Disruptors at @DisruptorsBNN).

The majority of the discussion on Twitter focused around Shopify and Uber.

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How media savvy doctors took the Toronto Star to task on HPV vaccine Gardasil

Vaxxer-inpostimg

Newspapers are an important element to a healthy and free society — they’re the vanguards of truth, and credibility is at the heart of that truth.

When newspapers make mistakes in regards to facts, they can have far reaching consequences to society by providing misinformation that can adversely influence people. Sometimes, news organizations need to take extra steps to right a wrong.

On February 5, the Toronto Star unfortunately made such a mistake.

As the link above shows, the outlet retracted an investigative article almost two weeks after its publication, replacing it with an apology from the publisher.

The article, “HPV vaccine Gardasil has a dark side, Star investigation finds”, written by investigative reporters David Bruser and Jesse McLean, upset many people in the medical and scientific community.

Dr. Jen Gunter, who practices medicine in the San Francisco Bay area and is also an author and blogger, wrote a blog post criticizing the Toronto Star’s article, “Toronto Star claims HPV vaccine unsafe. Science says the Toronto Star is wrong.”

The CBC’s radio show, As it Happens, which coincidentally had been covering other anti-vaccination stories at the time, reached out to Dr. Gunter for further clarification.

The story had now become the issue. And the scientific community’s reaction — along with social media, and now broadcast and other print media — started to take the Star to task over the article.

At first the paper stood by their reporters and the story. Columnist Heather Mallick and editor-in-chief Michael Cooke’s support of the story and reaction to the criticism did not help the situation.

But soon the facts and the pressure forced the Toronto Star to rethink its position.

Doctors Juliet Guichon and Rupert Kaul wrote an opinion article in the Toronto Star on February 11, which refuted the original article by Bruser and McLean.

http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2015/02/11/science-shows-hpv-vaccine-has-no-dark-side.html

On the same day, Toronto Star publisher John Cruickshank acknowledged the Star’s original story had been in error.

Two days later the Toronto Star’s public editor, Kathy English, supported Cruickshank’s acknowledgment in her own article.

By February 20, the article had been removed from the Star’s website and other TorStar publications and replaced by the note from the editor.

But the potential damage of the original article went beyond the Star’s reputation, or the vaccine Gardasil and drug company Merck.

At first, the article seemed to give credibility to the so-called anti-vaxxer movement, so the stakes were high — especially since the Toronto Star is an extremely influential publication.

The medical and scientific’s community’s reaction, however, was swift. In the end, they potentially averted a serious public health issue created by the media and were able to educate the public while doing so.

The Toronto Star’s initial article and its handling of the story was widely criticized not only on social media, but also in articles from other media outlets around the world including the Huffington Post, VOX and the LA Times.

But in the end, the Toronto Star did the right thing by admitting and correcting its mistake. And because of the media savviness of individuals in the medical community, we live in a slightly safer and more educated world.

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