WordWrite Storytelling Blog

What in-flight magazines can teach us about brand journalism

Posted by Dan Stefano

Airplane flying through skies.

The seatbelt sign is off. Your tray table is down. You’re settled in for a two-hour flight to Chicago. What’re you going to do once you land? 

You can pay the extra charge to connect to the airplane’s Wi-Fi and look up restaurants, museums, sporting events and anything else you can dream up. Or you can pick up the in-flight magazine (with real paper pages and everything!) and flip to an article on the Windy City.

It might describe the best tourist spots in the town, a few secret hideaways only a local would know about, the finest place to feast on a deep-dish pizza and even dole out a bit of history. By the time you hit the runway, you might as well be a denizen of the Midwest metropolis.

And all of this knowledge is tucked away in the seatback right in front of you, offering useful information while building the value of the air carrier taking you to your destination. It’s a great marketing tool. This magazine, after all, is a piece of brand journalism.

Yes, the term that’s all the rage in communications today – and the position that old newshounds are flocking to in droves – isn’t something all that new. Brand journalism may not have been dubbed so decades ago, but the general concept has been floating around for years. And there is plenty to learn about the practice from the decades-old model of in-flight magazines. 

The printed word lives … 30,000 feet in the air

Pan American World Airways, or Pan Am, was once the undisputed champion of commercial aviation. The long-defunct, pioneering carrier published the world’s first in-flight magazine, “Clipper Travel,” in 1952, naming it after the Boeing aircraft of the same name. Your best bet for finding a “Clipper” now is at an antique store, but more than 250 of its successors are still published today.

Those magazines don’t have any subscribers in the traditional sense, and though we live at a time when print media is losing the war to digital content, physical in-flight magazines still reach hundreds of millions of travelers each year – there’s one in every seatback, after all. That scope is even greater today, since, naturally, in-flight magazines have online editions.

Part of the reason they stay viable is they’re a prime spot for advertising, and why wouldn’t they be? According to travel media company Ink, 74 percent of travelers read a magazine on the plane. The most effective magazines aren’t simply selling goods, though there is ample room for that. Instead, they establish the carriers as experts in all aspects of their industry while entertaining and informing passengers.

Building a brand

Gripes about air travel are standard practice for fliers, but there remains an appeal to the journey. In mere hours, you can be transported to your favorite vacation destination or a city you’ve never visited. In-flight magazines take advantage of that exciting notion, with engaging, well-written articles about traveling, business, entertainment and lifestyle.

Take these examples:

  • In the September 2018 issue of “Delta Sky,” author Noami Tomky penned “Crossing the Pacific with a Pacifier,” a personal tale about how her traveling life has changed – and notably, hasn’t ended – since becoming a new mother. The piece reads almost like something you’d find on a blog about motherhood and speaks to plenty of parents who are in a similar situation. There’s absolutely no selling going on, beyond Delta Air Lines subtly branding itself as a carrier that understands its passengers.
  • The August issue of “Southwest Magazine” includes the feature “Why Franchises Can Work for Any Generation,” an informative business story with an appeal to a wide age range. Business stories are often part of in-flight magazines because a significant percentage of travelers are on work trips, and frequent fliers tend to have more personal wealth. Knowing your audience and catering your content to it is key to any form of marketing, let alone brand journalism.
  • United’s “Hemispheres” has a recurring feature, “Three Perfect Days.” In each edition, the authors give engrossing, first-person accounts of three-day trips to cities around the world. These range from far-flung world capitals, such as Beijing, to American cities you might not always consider a vacation destination, such as Houston. It’s hard to read one of these colorful diaries and not want to book another trip once you land. 

A well-rounded in-flight magazine isn’t the only marketing tool in an airline’s arsenal, but they’re useful in creating an identity for the carrier and conveying that to the passenger. Next time you’re on a flight, flip through those pages and look for some brand journalism inspiration – and good luck finding one with an unfinished crossword puzzle.

At WordWrite Communications, we believe a successful brand journalism strategy can help you tell your authentic business story. Learn more about why stories matter to your business by clicking here.


Dan Stefano is a brand journalist at WordWrite Communications. You can reach him at dan.stefano@wordwritepr.comIMG_4839 2018 550 square

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Topics: brand journalism, content creation, content, content marketing, writing, strategic communications

Trustworthiness in the Media

Posted by Hollie Geitner

Trustworthiness. Is this something you can really rate and measure? According to Facebook, yes. The Washington Post recently reported on the social giant’s new rating system, designed to predict user’s trustworthiness on a scale of zero to 1. What does this actually mean though?

In an era of fake news and rampant misinformation, Facebook has been under pressure to fix its broken system – a system many believe to be responsible for Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election. Facebook has implemented a few process-checks to help, including verifying the authenticity of users who post certain kinds of content and now, ranking credibility.

For the past few years, users have been able to report something as being “false,” which meant it would be forwarded to a third-party fact-checker. This system, of course, relies on the trustworthiness of those doing the reporting and as such, Facebook has had to look at alternatives to combat those who report something because they don’t personally agree with it.

So, how do you actually assess the trustworthiness of that user? Naturally, Facebook won’t reveal its secret algorithms, however, one signal they use is based on how much that particular user interacts with an article that has been confirmed to be false. It’s unclear how exactly the rating system scores individuals and how that rating factors into future shared content. What is clear is that despite technology controls, people will be people – some good, some bad. Some who are out to cause harm and others who work to make the world better.

The “bad actors” who try to game the system through coordinated manipulation have certainly made it more challenging for those seeking to advocate for meaningful social or political causes. From bills focused on health care reform to increasing flight options to Cuba, successful advocacy campaigns make a positive difference in the lives of many people. One noteworthy example includes United Airlines’ bid to provide air service to Cuba. They employed a grassroots campaign using paid, earned and owned communication strategies, that launched with a website: UnitedtoCuba.com. The result? The Department of Transportation awarded United Airlines one of the first contracts to provide non-stop air service to Havana, Cuba. 

At WordWrite, we also work on a number of similar grassroots, social campaigns on behalf of our clients. We’ve gone through the lengthy approval process to become verified and continue to follow all changes at Facebook that will impact our work for clients. While these adjustments and requirements can be confusing and frustrating, they are necessary to ensure accuracy and to reduce the spread of harmful misinformation. One of our core values at WordWrite is that we are authentic storytellers who are good stewards of our client’s time and money.

The reality is that tools, like Facebook, are there for everyone to use. It’s simply a matter of who is using them.

Trust is paramount in communications. Only time will tell if Facebook is successful in their approach to rating trustworthiness…but at least it’s a step in the right direction.


Hollie Geitner is Vice President, Client Services at WordWrite Communications. You can get in touch with her via email at hollie.geitner@wordwritepr.com or follow her on Twitter at @JustHollieG.

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Topics: authenticity, media relations, facebook, strategic communications, internal communications

Congress and Social Media: The implications could be big

Posted by John Durante

Prominent social media corporate executives recently appeared before Congress to once again answer questions about their platforms’ content and editorial oversight. Congressional inquiries typically are as much about political theater as they are about true public discourse, yet the motivation for these hearings is righteous and revolves around a growing danger.

This ongoing probe goes to the heart of serious questions about the reach, influence and even potential regulation of “new” media and its rapidly growing influence of how we perceive and engage the world in which we live. On the heels of Russian government intrusion that placed content and propaganda across various social media platforms during the 2016 Presidential election, U.S. leaders have had to move quickly to understand the scope of what happened and assess how it can be prevented in the future.

The growing list of questions posed to these social media corporate executives goes to the heart of what their companies aimed to be in the first place. Upon their inception, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. sought to provide information portals that digitally linked us to share virtually any form of human communication. 

From day one, they were decidedly free-form and constructed without any regard for the type, style, accuracy, benefit or consequences of the content shared on the platforms. This raised a number of questions about editorial standards, content suitability and liability, which culminated in the Russia disaster.

At the same time, we in the world of public relations and strategic communications consulting immediately dove headlong into dissecting and understanding these channels and how we may leverage them for professional and client benefit as soon as they were created.

The platforms soon made the same calculations for themselves by offering a wide range of data and content services that rapidly monetized their operations and led users to greatly compromise how much privacy protection they relinquished as a social media user.

Until now our industry has remained focused on the benefits offered by these platforms and have seldom questioned some of the bigger issues drawing public and political attention. For our industry’s benefit this might need to end – and soon.

Politics or not, the questions posed by Congress are legitimate and reflective of real public concern. The answers are critical with potentially long-range consequences. Imagine what might be if the gloss of social media starts to dim in the wake of concerns about privacy, fictitious content or other issues? Will users continue to engage one another on such platforms? Will their credibility plummet as we collectively decide much of social media is just a digitized National Enquirer or endless TMZ? To what degree will companies and clients – especially in the B2B space – want to distribute their messages on discredited platforms? And what as an industry will we do if the unparalleled audience micro-targeting of shrewd social media management can’t be used any more in the wake of all these concerns? To where will we turn to find alternative solutions to get the job done in the way our customers demand and the markets dictate?

The way our industry first embraced and then evolved with social media was until now a sea of endless new discovery. Solutions to old problems were abundant as we rushed to learn, leverage and profit from this windfall. It’s no wonder that each day we might have thought that as practitioners our growing mastery of social media was like a daily gift of a dozen roses. But those roses also have thorns and they have grown to the point where ignoring them is no longer possible.


 

IMG_4816 2018 resized-1John Durante is marketing services director at WordWrite Communications. He can be reached at john.durante@wordwritepr.com.

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Topics: social media, marketing, facebook, instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn

Let’s not forget the storytelling excellence of John McCain

Posted by John Durante

Arizonans and all Americans have now had ample time to observe and reflect upon the expansive media coverage of Senator John McCain’s passing. Many were stunned by a degree of national outpouring that seemed more appropriate for a head of state than a legislative lieutenant. 

Like most in the state, McCain was originally from elsewhere – drawn west to pursue a mid-life change for fortune, fame or ambition. In his case, he migrated in order to start a family with the daughter of an Arizona business titan. He soon parlayed his success to become a politician. But with citizens of the state, he was also familiar and real.

He appeared endlessly at Phoenix sporting or charity events, where he always carried the mantle of a normal guy. He’d be far more prone to appear on a mid-inning “kiss cam” with wife Cindy from seats behind third base than say, ensconced in a private suite. Maybe that’s why when brain cancer got the best of him on August 25, more than 15,000 constituents stood for hours in 105-degree heat to say goodbye.

In Washington, we expected ceremonies that were more formal, political, routine and consistent with the ways the country has always lauded long-time Senators and former war heroes.1920px-JohnMcCainSmileKennerJune2008

But within hours even national media were covering his passing more like the death of a former President than that of a senator. 

Why? 

I believe John McCain told and lived the story of his life better than just about anyone else on the national political scene.  He was heavily influenced by his nature, values, the realities of his adopted Arizona and a healthy dash of political practicality. McCain used those inspirations to become a master at crafting what we at WordWrite refer to as a “Story” with a capital S, embracing the three most important components of a great narrative.

First, he was authentic. There was no difference between his public political persona, his off-camera life and his backroom maneuvering. All were born from the same belief system that culminated in refreshing candor and realness almost never found in Washington D.C. 

Second, no one was more fluent at telling their Story. He endlessly did the Sunday morning talk shows, flew the world to learn, advise, cajole and pursue the established doctrine of America as the world’s police man. Always quick to connect his views to his long-established value of doing something greater in the name of service to his country, he did so without evoking jingoistic nationalism or in the name of grandstanding. He knew his Story in all ways and dimensions and would tell it lustily and often to anyone who cared to listen – and sometimes – even to those who didn’t.

Finally, few politicians have been such a master at reading one’s “audience” in both real and “polling” time as McCain. He constantly refined and sharpened his Story to make sure it was always on point and relevant for his targets. Above all else, he was never reluctant to admit to his own mistakes or failings.

As a whole, these characteristics combined to create a refreshing leader that the country enjoyed, admired and found accessible, regardless of party politics. In his life’s final fight, he offered a glimpse into both his and our hearts about the decency in people and merits of working for the common good.

In contrast to the current national climate, it was time to thank, mourn, honor and pay attention to McCain and his sweeping, engaging story. 

Maybe in him we found in ourselves the need to better model the values he lived and that we desire. 

The pain, pride, honor and mourning of recent days will soon become just another historical footnote. Here’s hoping that McCain’s evocative Storytelling talent will rise above it and be something we long remember.

John Durante is marketing services director at WordWrite Communications. He can be reached at john.durante@wordwritepr.com IMG_4816 2018 head only

 

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Topics: storytelling, story, authenticity

INBOUND 2018 – Key Takeaways

Posted by Noah Fleming

inbound-2018

 

I recently had the opportunity to attend HubSpot’s INBOUND marketing conference in Boston. For those of you who are unfamiliar, it is a week-long conference filled with sessions, keynote speakers, networking and is an information overload!

Here are my 5 key takeaways from INBOUND 2018:

1. Video continues to rise and HubSpot is doubling down – The big product news out of HubSpot HQ is the new video content feature. You’ll now be able to upload videos into a library on HubSpot, incorporate them on your pages, and collect data on them as well. You can learn more here: https://www.hubspot.com/products/video-hostingWhat better way to make the announcement than with a video? 

 

2. Regularly check the health of your website – Do you have the correct tracking tools added to your site? What is your site speed? Is your entire site mobile friendly? Should we incorporate a live chat to our site? These are all questions to ask your web designer/developer because there are so many paths that a visitor could take to find your page and you need to make sure they don’t leave once they arrive.

3. The sales funnel is dead – CEO Brian Halligan encouraged all attendees to adopt the fly wheel approach to sales rather than the traditional sales funnel that has been around since the dawn of sales. Instead of customers being at the bottom of the funnel, businesses should instead make them the center of their focus between sales, marketing and customer service. 

flywheel-hubspot4. Employ the help of your HubSpot team or subscription services more – It can be difficult for businesses to have regular calls with vendor support teams to ask the question "how can my team and I better use this product or service to make our daily work easier?" You may just get some advice and tips that could ultimately save you time and money. But if you discover vendors are unavailable or difficult to reach, it may be time to look elsewhere to find something that has a customer service program that meets your needs.

5. Focus on "delighting" more – What does this mean? Your customers can be one of your biggest sources of business. This is extremely important in the B2B world when there are 7 to 13 different touch points before a decision is made. Having happy customers who are advocating for you can lead to more possibilities without spending a single dollar on advertising. 

 

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 Noah Fleming is digital and inbound marketing specialist at WordWrite. You can reach him at noah.fleming@wordwritepr.com.

 

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Topics: hubspot, inbound, inbound marketing

Tips for Prospective Interns

Posted by Louis Spanos

This week at the WordWrite offices, we say goodbye to our interns Beth Turnbull, spring and summer intern, and Megan Thorpe, summer intern, as they return to school to finish their final semester and prepare for graduation in December. 

Before joining the WordWrite team, Beth and Megan interned at other agencies and nonprofits around Pittsburgh. Whether it was PR, social media or inbound marketing, their past experiences provided a sturdy and crucial foundation for their work at WordWrite. Beth and Megan played a huge role in leading WordWrite’s social media and inbound marketing efforts while proving their writing skills by supporting both internal and client-facing efforts.

As a farewell to the WordWrite team, Beth and Megan have put together a few tips for future WordWrite interns looking to make the most of their experiences.

  1. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

 We all have things we’re good at and we tend to stick to them. As an intern, you’ll be asked to do things you’ve never done before… don’t panic. The opportunity to learn as much as you can in a supportive environment isn’t something to take for granted. Take every chance you can to broaden your horizons. 

  1. Accept That You’ll Make Mistakes

Chances are that as you step out of your comfort zone and take on new tasks, you’ll slip up a couple times. It happens. Learn what you can from feedback, both positive and constructive. Every learning experience will ultimately prepare you for your future career.

  1. Be a Team Player

When working in an agency, communication and collaboration are key. Every task you encounter won’t be glorious – you may even think it’s tedious or pointless. It’s important to remember that each job is essential in its own way and is one piece of the puzzle that helps the project function. 

  1. Request Feedback

You’re most likely completing an internship to gain knowledge for your future career path. To continue growing as a young professional, receiving feedback is key. Reach out to your supervisor and ask how you did on a project, and don’t be dejected if you receive constructive criticism. Your supervisor wouldn’t give you feedback if they didn’t think you had room (or capacity) to improve, so take things in stride and apply it to the next task you do.

Internships are just as valuable (if not more valuable) than a degree. The opportunity to learn and grow in a professional setting is one all students should take advantage of.

At WordWrite, we’re proud to offer students real world experiences while working in an agency setting. If you’re looking for a challenging and engaging way to gain and further sharpen your skills in the world of public relations, contact us today.


 

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Beth Turnbull is a senior at Point Park University majoring in mass communication with a concentration in PR. Following graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in nonprofit or government communications. You can reach her at elizabethturnbull14@gmail.com, connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter and Instagram @thebethturnbull.

 

Megan Thorpe JPA_1632is a senior at Point Park University majoring in sports, arts and entertainment management and minoring in public relations and advertising. Following graduation, she plans to move to Huntsville, Alabama and pursue a career in marketing. You can reach her at megthorpey@gmail.com, connect with her via LinkedIn or follow her on Instagram @megthorpey.

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Topics: interns, WordWrite Communications, strategic communications

Don't Worry, Video Content Won't Bite

Posted by Dan Stefano

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Pivot to video.

Those three words have led to hand-wringing and anxiety among communications professionals accustomed to the written word. But, as the digital age barrels onward, video will increasingly become the primary vehicle to deliver your message online.

Cisco estimatesan overwhelming 82 percent of consumer internet traffic will be IP video traffic by 2021. More than anywhere in cyberspace, it’s in social media where video content is a must. Organizations are consistently discovering creative ways to deliver their stories, be it a Facebook Live of a seminar or a quickly created gif to get in on a trending Twitter topic.

As storytellers first, we understand the value of putting pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard, at least. But the human brain is wired for visuals, and your audience generally prefers to watch something than read about it. However, if you’ve ever encountered that popular statistic that people process visuals an astounding 60,000 times faster than text, take that number with a grain of salt.

Here are a few quick ways to get a start in producing strong video content:

  • You’ve got a studio in your pocket:Most smartphones have completely capable video cameras. You’re not Stephen Spielberg, and your audience isn’t asking you to be. For shorter videos or clips meant for a quickly digested social media post, you likely have all you need in your pocket. Bigger initiatives intended to really wow your audience, however, may require deeper planning, production values and the help of some professionals.
  • Invite people in:Something great happening in the office? Putting on a new product demonstration,or maybe you have an announcement about an exciting new hire? Getting video of moments like these are a great way to draw back the curtain and showcase your organization’s story. Humanizing your message creates a deeper connection with the viewer.
  • Experiment:You’ll want to brainstorm the different ways you can use video for your purposes. More informational stories may present better with narration or a text overlay. A rundown of highlights from press events could work well in a Snapchat story. Seemingly daily, there are innovations that change how video is used online. Look around and see what works for you. It’s definitely out there.

Ultimately, your videos will be what you make of them. Once you know your targeted audience, you’ll be able to craft videos to fit the purposes of your story – and, as always, it’s that authentic business story that matters most. Supplementing your message with dynamic visuals will only help your cause.

Just as important, know that video is nothing to be afraid of. Look at the sheer amount of content on the internet. Almost anyone can do it. Even if you’re just taking your first steps into the world of video content, you’ll be running in no time.


 

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Dan Stefano is brand journalist at WordWrite Communications. You can reach him at dan.stefano@wordwritepr.com.

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Topics: content, writing, video, content marketing, content creation, visual content, strategy

Where Should You Focus Your Video Strategy in 2018?

Posted by Megan Thorpe

As technology continues to improve at a rapid pace, social media becomes increasingly etched into our everyday lives. As a business, you should acknowledge social media – if not, you’re going to be left in the dust. Strategizing how to attract and then keep your audience engaged should be a top priority.

One way to do that is to focus on your brand’s video strategy. Consumers love video – HubSpot’s State of Video Marketing Surveyshares these statistics:

  • On average, consumers watch an hour and a half of video a day.
  • If there is both text and video on a page, 72 percent would rather watch the video to learn about the product or service.
  • If your audience particularly enjoys a video, there is an 83 percent chance it will be shared amongst friends.
  • 81 percent of businesses already use video as a marketing tool – up from 63 percent in 2017.

The facts don’t lie – if you want to keep up with other businesses, start utilizing video today. With the choice of Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram and the recently introduced IGTV, you might be wondering where to focus your video strategy.

With this in mind, some details to consider include the number of users on a particular platform and which network reaches your target audience best. Consider Pew’s social media fact sheet:

  • YouTube has the most users but is ranked fifth in frequency.
  • Facebook has the second largest user base and is used most frequently. Over half of its audience visits multiple times a day.
  • Instagram hosts a younger demographic and is growing quicker than Snapchat.

Still unsure where to go from here? Try learning from the efforts of top industry leaders.

For example, the dynamic duo of ice cream – Ben & Jerry’s – keeps their videos short and playful on Instagram, noting that viewers don’t want to watch anything for more than 10 to 20 seconds as they scroll through their feed.

With over two million subscribers, Disney’s YouTube channel is bursting with original content. Among its most popular are the retelling of beloved Disney movies with emojis, drawing tutorials, live studio tours and full-length episodes of popular children’s shows.

An unlikely user, General Electric, has an active presence on Snapchat. Follow the account for emoji science videos or directly send an emoji to the account to receive your own dose of science.

Ultimately, whether you love it or hate it, there’s no argument that video marketing is leaving a huge impact on the industry. To see a successful video strategy through, identify your audience and what interests them.

Need help crafting content to tell your organization’s story? Reach out to the WordWrite team today.


Megan Thorpe

Megan Thorpe is an intern at WordWrite Communications. You can get in touch with her via email at megan.thorpe@wordwritepr.com or follow her on Twitter at @MeganThorpe97.

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Topics: video, social media, marketing, content marketing, content creation

Hiring Outside Communications Consultants Isn't a Sign of Weakness

Posted by Jeremy Church

AdobeStock_104708464

In an era filled with cries of “fake news,” it’s more important than ever to cut through the noise and clutter and discover what’s real.

We pride ourselves on telling authentic business stories that are rooted in fact, told by an organization’s subject matter experts.

We then help clients read their audiences to make sure the messages they’re trying to convey are resonating. If not, we help them adjust.

It’s what we do best.

Yet it never surprises me to find out how many people like to portray themselves as authorities in areas well outside their proven specialties.

For companies that don’t have comprehensive marketing, business development or communications support staffs at their disposal, that type of hubris can come at a very high price — both in terms of financial consequences and reputational damage.

All successful organizations have bright people on their staff who are well read, well spoken and probably have demonstrated a way with words on occasion.

However, do they know the right percentages of digital advertising, earned media, social media or website content to tell their corporate story to key target audiences?

Let’s say you’re attempting to move the needle in terms of public awareness or elicit support for legislative initiatives. Can your team identify, mobilize and influence the critical parties necessary to accomplish your goals?

It’s okay to admit the answer is no — none of our team can argue before a grand jury the way a trial lawyer does nor comprehend what it would take to perform open-heart surgery.

Some of the most appropriate factors to consider when choosing outside strategic communications support might include:

  • To obtain specific expertisetheir own staff lacks;
  • To identify problems thatemployees too close to a problem can’t recognize;
  • To supplement a company's internal staff and save money in the long term rather than hiring full-time employees;
  • To be objective onlookers whosee problems from a different perspective;
  • To bring new life to an organization with fresh ideas and innovative thinking.

Our team at WordWrite assists clients every day in assessing the right amount of effort to make in paid media, earned media such as media relations, shared media on social channels and in owned media such as your website. Moreover, on the most elemental level, we have the ability to implement the best strategy for sharing a client’s story the way they want and need it to be shared in order to reach those who make decisions whether to purchase your products or services.

Our experience runs deep in business-to-business sectors such as energy, professional services, technology, health care and manufacturing. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy or tactic that encompasses PR and communications for the clients we serve in these areas.

We don’t develop strategies to reach ideal clients at a financial services firm in the same way we design content to reach customers in the heavy manufacturing industry. The New York Times for a financial advisor might be PLANSPONSOR, while a company creating sustainable asphalt solutions might look at Better Roads as the top space to occupy. You have thought leaders and industry experts whose voices need to be heard in an auditorium filled with adoring fans from your target audiences, not in a vacuum devoid of listeners.

A truth that should be (but apparently isn’t) self-evident these days is that credentials count. Specific, hard-earned qualifications are why we choose whom we choose to provide services. We want the best and we want value for our hard-earned dollars. That’s why we make the purchasing decisions we do.

Especially in this environment, when did politics and politicians hijack “elite” and turn it into a derogatory word?  We all look for the very best when it comes to selecting a doctor, attorney or contractor.

Most reasonable people wouldn’t skimp when making similar decisions, so why would a business do it with its strategic communications and marketing support? You get what you pay for. Aren’t you and your company’s goals worth it?


 

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Jeremy Church is a partner at WordWrite Communications. He can be reached at jeremy.church@wordwritepr.com.

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Topics: partnership, strategic communications, internal communications, crisis communications, B2B, B2C, public relations, WordWrite Communications

Hey, Just As Long As They Spelled Our Name Right!

Posted by Jeremy Church

Board of Directors

In any given year, we typically handle about 12 crisis situations for clients – 10 of which you will never hear about.

Yet when it comes to the idea that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, I’m often reminded of what our agency’s founder, Paul Furiga, once said:

“They never spelled Enron wrong, did they?” 

No, they did not, and everyone still remembers how to spell its name, albeit for all the wrong reasons. The C-Suite is filled with cautionary tales such as Enron’s, including many more recent examples of self-inflicted malfeasance that we don’t have time to address in this space. (Papa John’s anyone?)

So why does this popular notion still exist?

Well, because all clichés are rooted in at least some small kernel of truth.

Good news for the scandal plagued? Only if your publicity and awareness meters are sitting at zero, which isn’t the case for most established corporations or businesses.

Stanford economics professor Alan Sorensen supports this belief in a study examining book reviews that ran in the New York Times. He found that well-known authors with positive reviews could sell 42 percent more books, but poor reviews caused a 15 percent drop in purchases. New or unknown authors whose books were reviewed saw their sales increase by 33 percent, regardless of whether the critique was encouraging or not.

Mr. Sorensen extended this logic to businesses, concluding that any type of PR is valuable for smaller organizations, because negative perceptions diminish faster than awareness of the company in general. With established brands and organizations, however, bad publicity remains at the forefront much longer – a critical point when it comes to protecting corporate image and making sure your business is telling authentic stories to its stakeholders.

So is it ever acceptable to mislead in the service of positive public relations?

Ron Ashkenas once examined why individuals and businesses “shade the truth” in the Harvard Business Review. He argued that in a sales culture, “Showing customers or partners what’s truly behind the curtain could undermine credibility and threaten the deal. The wiser course in many cases is to limit the truth and figure out how to “deliver” later.”

With all due respect to Mr. Ashkenas – whose larger piece has many salient points –overpromising and under delivering is the exact pattern of behavior that gets organizations in trouble in the first place.

We live in the real world and must be pragmatists. However, we advise all of our current clients as well as those who we might be privileged to work with in the future to not show one face to the public and another in private.

As strategic partners, our role at WordWrite is to assist clients in telling their stories to those who most need to experience them. Aspire to build a stronger relationship with your own clients by more closely aligning character to reputation.

To paraphrase the late John Wooden, reputation is what others think of you. Character is who you are when no one is looking.

We’re eager to hear what you have to say. Would businesses be more stable and profitable if character and reputation were viewed as indivisible? Have you ever encountered a situation when getting your name out there outweighed the context of how it was portrayed?


Jeremy_1950Jeremy Church is a partner and vice president and WordWrite Communications. He can be reached at jeremy.church @wordwritepr.com.  

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Topics: public relations, crisis communications, B2C, media relations, story