Two-Way Street

PR, social media, events and incentives – Collaboration & communication ideas for demanding businesses from The Castle Group's Mark O'Toole

Archive for the ‘PR’ Category

Social Tuesday: It takes two – combining social media for success

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 8, 2011

Hotels in Myrtle Beach, SC are joining social media with a website to compete with travel sites for last-minute offers. On the Myrtle Beach Facebook page, the tab “This Friday” features hotels’ last-minute specials for the upcoming Friday. The “This Friday” tab also links directly to MyrtleBeachHotels.net, a website for last-minute hotel deals in Myrtle Beach. Using social media and their own websites, hotels avoid the 30 percent commission they would otherwise have to pay at a travel site.

Shopping hub Hubzi blends online shopping with social media. While the website serves a similar purpose to Craigslist, Hubzi lets vendors create a profile listing contact information, contact person, ads, and products links or videos to boost the buyers’ trust in them. Customers can post comments and reviews on vendor profiles.

Kraft Foods uses a combination of tweets to promote one of their products. Whenever two people tweet the phrase “mac & cheese” at the same time, both get a link leading to the “Mac & Jinx” promotion, where they are asked to give Kraft their address. The person to submit their info first gets five free boxes of Kraft’s Mac & Cheese and a T-shirt.

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Social Tuesday: To like is to share – Facebook promotions

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 1, 2011

Recently, Facebook’s Like button has become more of a promotion tool. “Liking” something now results in a full wall post complete with story, blurb and thumbnail that won’t be easily overlooked.

However, there are more sophisticated – and fun – ways to use Facebook as a promotional tool.

NBC, for instance, rewards everyone who watches the trailer for its new show “America’s Next Great Restaurant” on the show’s Facebook page – to date liked by 215,378 users – with a free Chipotle meal. Concurrently, Chipotle is conducting an in-store texting promotion that offers customers the chance to win a catered burrito party.

But carnal instincts are not the only motivation to Facebook users’ attention. The Facebook application FrontierVille serves as a promotion tool for the animated movie “Rango,” which will be released this weekend. Rango, a chameleon voiced by Johnny Depp, appears as a character in the online game, and players must watch the movie trailer in order to add a Rango statue to their homestead. Active FrontierVille users: about 19 million.

 

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Social Tuesday: Super social Sunday, super social week

Posted by thecastlegroup on February 9, 2011

This year’s Super Bowl Sunday showed how social media tie-ins keep brands and products on the consumer’s mind long after the commercials – or the Super Bowl – are over. Ranging from free pizza to winning a Mercedes Benz, in their Super Bowl social media campaigns companies rewarded consumer engagement with goodies. For instance, Budweiser let fans guess the storylines to their three Super Bowl ads on Facebook. Once all three storylines were guessed correctly, an exclusive, internet-only fourth ad was revealed. As a result, online discussions about this year’s Super Bowl commercials increased by 9 percent from last year.

Posting Super Bowl ads on YouTube before airing them also turned out to be a winning strategy for creating a social media buzz: Volkswagen’s “The Force” commercial went viral and got 1.5 million views in the first two days. Another Super Bowl social media winner was Foursquare. The location-based social networking website went global for its first promoted venue and attracted 200,000 football fans, making Super Bowl Sunday their most popular venue so far.

Following the Super Bowl, Social Media Week kicked-off this week in nine cities around the globe. In the U.S., New York City and San Francisco are hosting the global conference that features panel discussions and workshops and connects social media professionals to discuss emerging trends. Read up on the event’s local and global blogs or follow it on twitter to keep up with the latest developments.

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Social Tuesday: Social media for the people, by the people

Posted by thecastlegroup on January 26, 2011

President Barrack Obama successfully used social media as part of his election campaign in 2008. Consequently, the White House is now using social media for political interactions with the public. Last night’s State of the Union Address was live streamed on several online portals. After the address, a series of live online events took place to answer questions submitted via Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

 

Along with the White House, the U.S State Department increasingly uses social media to reach out to the public and is using Twitter to communicate and announce U.S. policy decisions.

 

And last but not least, New York City proudly presents its first Chief Digital Officer. In an effort to boost transparency and communication with the public and businesses, Digital Officer Rachel Sterne is working with Twitter and Facebook to reach out to residents and to make the city’s website NYC.gov more user-friendly.

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Castle adds partners, capabilities in India and Russia

Posted by thecastlegroup on December 20, 2010

Castle’s global PR network, PRGN, recently appointed two new member agencies. Joining the ranks of PRGN are Perfect Relations in India, and CROS Public Relations and Public Affairs in Moscow.

For clients with global needs, our network is more informed and “plugged in” than just about any other communications group. With local knowledge and histories of success, PRGN has grown significantly over the last few years.

Let us know if you’d like to learn more.

 

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Social media, Project Runway and the right accessories

Posted by thecastlegroup on December 2, 2010

Sandy Lish, Castle co-founder, recently attended a meeting with our international PR partners. Read more below.

 

 

Last month, I met with the principals in our international PR alliance, the Public Relations Global Network, four days with our counterparts from around the country and around the world—from as far away as Australia, South Africa and India. As you might imagine, there was a lot of discussion about social media. While nearly every client of every firm has some level of social media engagement or interest, the dozens of member firms unilaterally see social media as a means to an end…not the end.

It’s difficult sometimes to convey that when folks are all abuzz about the latest Facebook app, but let’s travel back to the days when websites were new. (This is about the 10th time in two weeks I have used a cultural reference and massively dated myself, but what the heck….) Companies were building websites and some new websites were, for a while, actually news.  You could announce that “XYZ Company Today Launched its First Website.”  Then everyone realized…if you build it, they may come, but only for a little while. Some websites were cool but not driving business. Others were just the opposite. You had to commit to an overall marketing communications strategy, and then consider a splashy new website (for a fun look at companies’ older-model websites, check out the Way Back Machine) as a tool to apply to that strategy.

It’s the same thing with social media. Building a fan page or setting up a Twitter account is not enough. You can’t just sit back and wait for the customers to find you. The traditional marketing rules apply—you have to reach your audience in a number of ways, creatively, consistently and memorably. Social media is a great way to do that, but it is a strategic element, not the strategy itself. Like “professional media” (my colleague in Sweden tells me this is the term preferred over “traditional media,” which I quite like!), speaking and conference strategies, relationship marketing, events and the many other communications avenues, social media must always map back to the business goals.

On “Project Runway,” Tim Gunn tells the fashion designers to “Use the Bluefly accessory wall wisely” to perfectly showcase their garments. It’s not a mad dash to combine any pair of shoes or purse with any outfit…it’s about being thoughtful and strategic, and keeping an eye on the big picture. I like “Project Runway” (and my 8-year-old daughter does a fabulous Michael Kors impression), so I’ll attempt to apply the fashion analogy to social media. If you’re trying to sell a dress, make sure your tools—color choice, model’s makeup and hair, accessories—complement that dress. If you’re trying to market your product or service, make sure that your chosen social media tools, like your other communications tools, support your message and your strategy.

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BlogWorld observations

Posted by thecastlegroup on November 1, 2010

Castle VP Hilary Allard was a panelist at last month’s BlogWorld. Below are her observations from the event.

I was honored to be asked to present on a PR panel at last month’s BlogWorld event, a blogging and social media conference that attracts more than 3,500 people. There were many inspiring, thought-provoking and surprising insights shared about how the intersection of technology and communication has changed our world.

Here are a few observations from the event:

The impact that technology and social media has made on the lives of military members and their families is profound. In a video introduction, General Petraeus spoke of how the ability to communicate with their families via Facebook, email and Skype has helped military members through the challenges of their separation. A website, ArmyStrongStories.com, provides troops with a place to share their look at Army life. Here’s a post on the site about the Army experience at BlogWorld.

While thought leaders have high-level discussions about social media and the future of communications, the fact is that many individuals – and organizations – don’t know what to do or where to start. The prospect of adding to already full to-do lists is daunting. (More on that in this space at another time.)

Everyone is willing to share. Just as I experienced during the TechMunch summer event in New York, media, brands and bloggers are all willing to share their experience, insights and challenges, putting the “social” in social media. It’s no longer “us against them,” it’s “we’re all in this together.”

Social media has given everyone a voice – and they’re not afraid to use it. Audience members politely yet aggressively (“Pardon me for saying so…”) challenged well-known speakers during one keynote session on politics. My favorite was an elderly woman who stood up and talked about her blogging and participation on Twitter. She clearly was energized by this aspect of her life and the new doors it had opened for her.

Are you involved in social media? If so, has it changed your life, personally or professionally? If not, what obstacles are in your way that are preventing you from engaging online?

Posted in Marketing, PR, Social Media (or the Digital Divide) | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Save the Date: March of Dimes Gala

Posted by thecastlegroup on October 21, 2010

On Friday, November, 5, the March of Dimes will hold its annual Franklin Delano Roosevelt Humanitarian Award Gala, emceed by 7News reporter Janet Wu. This year, the MOD honors James Roosevelt, Jr., president & CEO of Tufts Health Plan and grandson of FDR. Castle Principal Sandy Lish, recently named MOD state board chair, thanks Castle colleagues who support the March of Dimes in its mission to ensure that all babies are born healthy, at full term, and to prevent the complications that arise from preterm births.

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Stay relevant, my friend – how PR agencies need to sell digital services

Posted by thecastlegroup on September 30, 2010

In the recent series of blog posts by the quartet of Todd Defren, Steve Farnsworth, Lou Hoffman and Paul Roberts, in what they have termed the 4/4/4/ series, discussion focused primarily on the changing scope of responsibilities for PR agencies. From digital tools to ethics considerations to social media, the posts made clear that public relations has a more prominent seat at the marketing table, and more opportunity to drive strategy for client brand messaging well beyond media relations.

While the theme of relevance pervades many of these posts, the “relevance” is focused mostly on awareness and usage of the tools and managing the issues that come with deeper immersion into client business. But, like my newest TV hero, the Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World (who is the coolest TV guy since Thomas Magnum re-upped), staying relevant also means staying thirsty.

Consuming all the emerging tools, participating in social media, introducing new measurement concepts to clients and creating content that has a long shelf life online are musts for any PR practitioner today. But is the thirst there to sell these services correctly? Learning all of the above is just step one — staying relevant and really thirsty needs to manifest itself in the way we sell our services.

The thirsty agency embraces these selling concepts:

  • The retainer is dead. Maybe not for all clients, but PR firms must look to new ways to bill for services. Smaller firms especially have opportunity to reconfigure pricing to account for content creation, brand monitoring, social media strategy and more. Client needs, and the systems and tools to help meet them, are changing too fast for fixed price relationships.
  • There is a lot more money to be made. Client needs are growing more complex. Their content needs are growing, and the PR firm is one of many creative agencies vying for business. The firms best positioned to tackle the most complex client issues will earn the highest rewards.
  • Specialists are needed. Building an offering that includes everything discussed in the 4/4/4 series is daunting. The full-service agency era is taking a backseat (for now) to a more specialized approach. Clients are using separate firms for search, creative, communications, advertising, media buying. There’s an argument to be made that the next great agency model embraces all these disciplines in an integrated way (some firms certainly offer all of these now but typically in a “silo” format), but for now specialists are need. What’s your sweet spot?
  • Communicate your expertise. That’s what PR firms do on behalf of clients, right? The “cobbler’s children” metaphor stopped working once the cobbler got an iPad. It’s not about how slick your website is (but look for a really slick new Castle site shortly) or how much animation your PowerPoint has. For PR firms, it’s never been about us, which is why clients trust us with communicating their brands. We need to tell prospects and existing clients about the digital landscape and how they need to immerse themselves. Companies are looking for direction. The winners will be the ones that provide it.

Marketers, what are you looking for? What impacts your buying decisions? How thirsty are you?

Posted in Marketing, PR, Social Media (or the Digital Divide) | 2 Comments »

2nd BWP Odd Pairing Experiment

Posted by thecastlegroup on September 22, 2010

Sick of the same old events? Boston World Partnerships, an economic driver that I am proudly part of, is hosting its 2nd Odd Pairing Experiment. The first was a great mix of very different speakers, tons of meaningful attendees and an awesome venue. 

This next one promises the same. Here are details. 

Join Boston World Partnerships’ Connectors for our 2nd Odd Pairing Experiment.  Panelists will lead an interactive discussion on the topic of how organizations tell their stories. 

Damon Jones, Global Communications Director, Procter & Gamble, and former Director of Press Relations for the 2008 Democratic National Committee
 
 

Howard Anderson, Distinguished Senior Lecturer of Entrepreneurship at MIT Sloan, Founder of The Yankee Group, and Co-Founder of Battery Ventures
 
 

Chris Colbert, Founder of the marketing agency Holland Mark, and sherpa of FutureM
 
 

Susan Rodgerson, Founder and Executive/Artistic Director of Artists For Humanity
 
 

Peter Brown, Chief of Staff to the President & CEO of Partners Healthcare, Former News Director at WBZ-TV 

Moderator: 

Dave McLaughlin, Executive Director of Boston World Partnerships and award-winning filmmaker 

When: Wednesday – October 6, 2010 

Where: Artists for Humanity EpiCenter
100 W 2nd St.
Boston, MA 02127 

Time: Registration: 6:00pm -6:30pm
Speaking Program: 6:30pm – 7:30pm
Networking Reception: 7:30pm – 9:00pm 

Fee: $55 early bird & BWP Connectors
$75 General Admission 

To buy tickets, please visit:
www.oddpairings.com

Posted in Castle News, Events & Incentives, fun stuff and more, Marketing, PR, Social Media (or the Digital Divide) | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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