Hughes PR, Marketing, Public relations, Social media

Loud and clear: fundraising campaigns that work

Natalie Ciccocioppo writes…

From Oprah to Mark Zuckerberg, Jamie Oliver to David Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow to Mark Wahlberg, then extending to your neighbours, workmates and friends, about a month ago, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was literally everywhere.

Mainstream media and social media was awash (see what I did there) with people taking on the challenge – to dump a bucket of icy cold water over their heads and nominate their friends to do the same – raising awareness for a debilitating illness that had previously not garnered a lot of publicity or widespread public thought.

As a direct result of the Ice Bucket Challenge, more than $100 million has been raised for ALS or as we know it here in Australia, Motor Neurone Disease.

There’s little doubt the Ice Bucket Challenge has been an incredibly successful campaign. This article in The Age outlines some of the reasons why the Ice Bucket Challenge cut through and went viral.

Health and cause-related fundraising isn’t new. For many years, various charities have been encouraging the community to take on a range of activities to support their fundraising efforts.

I remember taking part in the World Vision 40 Hour Famine – a popular fundraising initiative when I was in school. Going without food for 40 hours seemed like a real struggle at the time, but served as an important reminder to my 13-year-old self about children of the same age around the world living in poverty and dying as a result of malnutrition and hunger-related illnesses.

In those days, fundraising efforts involved pestering encouraging teachers, classmates, friends and family to sponsor you, and then running around and collecting money in an envelope, which you’d then exchange for a money voucher or cheque, and send off in the post to the designated charity.

Digital and social media has added a new dimension to the rise of cause-related marketing. A successful viral campaign like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge wouldn’t have been able to reach the sheer volume of users that it did prior to social media.

The advent of digital communications means that we can share updates with our Facebook friends, LinkedIn contacts, Twitter and Instagram followers, and invite them to pledge their support as we take on fundraising activities, and they can directly donate using their credit card online within seconds.

Movember, which raises funds and awareness of men’s health, is another example of cause-related fundraising done well. I lose count of the ‘mo’ updates I see on my Facebook News Feed every November! And it’s not always about asking for money – participants, or as Movember Australia calls them ‘Mo Bros’, are regularly posting photos of their moustache styling, opening themselves up for admiration (or sometimes ridicule) from their friends.

A simple fundraising idea, such as the Ice Bucket Challenge or Movember, that invites people to take action for a cause, can result in a globally successful campaign.

The calendar year is full of fundraising initiatives. In October alone, there’s Girls Night In, Walktober, Frocktober, Octsober, Adelaide Stair Climb, and Buy Nothing New Month, which all invite people to ‘do something’ for a cause.

To cut through the noise, cause marketing ideas need to:

  • Ask participants to challenge themselves or do something fun and visual, to provide a story that they can share with their friends;
  • Relate back to the cause;
  • Have a strong social media engagement element;
  • Share compelling stories of those they support to encourage others to support the cause.

Here at Hughes PR, we are committed to supporting the community. We have several not-for-profit clients that we provide our professional services to on a discounted or ‘no fee’ basis.

We also take part in fundraising events where we can. Over the past few years, our team has helped out at McDonald’s restaurants for McHappy Day, taken part in the JDRF Spin for a Cure, Hutt Street Centre Walk a Mile in My Boots, Jeans for Genes Day, Vinnies CEO Sleepout, OCRF White Shirt Day and worn red to work for Red Nose Day.

Today we are taking part in Loud Shirt Day – proudly wearing our loudest clothing to work to raise funds for First Voice to help give the gift of sound and speech to deaf children.

Who do you think is wearing the best loud shirt? What fundraising initiatives do you take part in?

loud shirt day 2

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Hughes PR, Marketing, Public relations, Social media

Take outs from Marketing Week 2014

Marketing Week was held in Adelaide this week – a week-long conference dedicated to marketing, advertising, public relations and social media. It was fantastic to hear from local and national speakers on a wide range of topics. Hughes PR is a sponsor of Marketing Week and we always enjoy our association with the event.

Here’s a few thoughts and take outs that our team had from sessions they attended:

Tim Hughes

  • When discussing the ‘Challenges of Issues Management in a 24 Hour News Cycle’, it reinforced to me that when you’re in the middle of managing an issue or crisis, social media is both a blessing and a curse. It allows you to communicate quickly and easily with a very broad audience – but it also requires close scrutiny and management to make sure speculation doesn’t outpace the facts.

Maddie Angel

  • I really enjoyed the session featuring Andre Eikmeir from Vinomofo. He talked about his experience starting a business, and I loved his point: know what the business stands for before taking it to market then go for it.

Alli Evans

  • Dr Phil Harris hosted a session on ‘Neuro Marketing’. He discussed how marketers are able to subconsciously sell to consumers through the use of music, colour and design; explaining the music that we listen to in-store can directly affect our purchasing attitude – fascinating!
  • An interesting analogy from the ‘Brand Journalism’ session regarding current content being produced in news media caught my attention: “News is becoming like a child wanting chocolate for dinner, just because the child wants chocolate doesn’t mean we should necessarily give it to them. Of course they want it, but is it what they need”.
  • A great point in the ‘Big ideas’ session; organisations need to encourage creative thinking, and never put down someone’s idea even if it doesn’t work – at least they were thinking of ideas. And ideas, right or wrong, create opportunities.

Natalie Ciccocioppo

  • I enjoyed Jeff Bullas’ insights in to building his profile and blog to where it is today – achieving over 4 million page views per year from 190 countries worldwide. We hear a lot about ‘content being king’ but one of my key take-outs from Jeff’s session was the importance of not only having good content but marketing it in the right way – ‘build it and they will come’ doesn’t apply here.
  • I was inspired by the ‘Bringing Big, Brave, Game Changing Ideas to Life’ session and the questions that the panel members suggested considering when developing an idea: Why is this idea useful, what does it stand for, how will people engage with it, and what role will it bring to their lives? As a side, the energy of the panel and the way they bounced off each other was great.

Mark Williams

  • Darren Whitelaw from Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet pointed out the exponential growth in social media apps. In 2011 the US Patent Office recorded about 250 apps. In 2014 that figure has reached 4,383 social media apps.

Kate Potter

  • It was interesting to hear Jeff Bullas citing Coca-Cola’s content marketing approach, which was the 70/20/10 content plan: 70% of the content they create is “low-risk”, 20% of content “innovates off of what works” and the final 10% is “high risk” content.
  • Steve Brennen from eBay provided great insight into the future of e-commerce, in particular noting the rise in mobile. While here at Hughes PR we’ve all been taking note of mobile trends, it is fascinating to see how people’s use of mobile is impacting e-commerce marketing.
  • At the Marketing Week Community Manager Challenge, the panel of social media community managers were asked how they safeguard against risk. Julie Delaforce’s advice of considering all risks by categorising them as brand risks, user risks and legal risks was a great suggestion for community managers.

Kieran Hall

  • The ‘Brand Journalism and Native Advertising – the new PR?’ event provided some interesting insights from a panel of media experts about the future of paid content. While it’s opening up new revenue streams for media companies, brand journalism looms as a major challenge for editors who need to appropriately distinguish standard editorial from “commercial” content in terms of what stories are pursued, how they’re reported, and what prominence they’re given.

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Hughes Public Relations, based in Adelaide, South Australia, is a communications and PR consultancy with proven and extensive experience in publicity and media relations, issues management, crisis management, digital media and social media strategy and implementation, community consultation, event management, media training, publications and strategic problem solving. Find out more.

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Crisis management, Marketing, Public relations

Don’t wine about decline, invest in your brand

 

Photo by Mike DelGaudio.

Photo by Mike DelGaudio.

Tim Hughes writes…

I read with interest today of the decision by the new CEO of Treasury Wine Estates, Michael Clark, to increase the company’s marketing spend by 50 per cent in the midst of a $35 million cost cutting program.

In my view, it’s a bold decision with benefits.

Too often, when times get tough, businesses pull in their belt and put their head in the sand.

Seldom do they look up and out and re-invest in building their brand with a view to stimulating market demand and driving their business from the front foot.

Mr Clark’s reasoning makes good sense.

“TWE’s brands have suffered from a lack of consumer-facing marketing investment and we will address this in fiscal 2015 by increasing consumer marketing spend in fiscal 2015 by circa 50 per cent relative to the prior year.

“It is imperative that our marketing and sales capabilities are more in line with the company’s ability to make outstanding wines across all categories.

“Despite the continuation of challenging trading conditions in the second half of the year, I am determined to act upon opportunities to drive sustainable top-line momentum and margin expansion while at the same time, improving TWE’s brand equity and connections with consumers, retailers and distributors.”

In short:

“We cut too hard with our marketing in the tough times.

“We know we make a great product – but now not enough consumers do.

“Our brand is valuable and powerful so we’re going to invest in it – and that will drive our business.”

This strategy makes even more sense when competitors are going the other way. It gives a greater share of voice and – particularly with the volume of media consumed by such a large organisation – it should add significantly to buying power.

Using its increased marketing spend to build connections with retailers and distributors is also a smart move for TWE. Involving its “market gatekeepers” demonstrates TWE is putting its money where its mouth is – and will create shared ownership in the success of its brands.

At Hughes Public Relations, we are fortunate to work with organisations who also view adversity as opportunity and who have the resources and intelligence to invest strategically in brand building when others are not.

The result, a head start when markets pick up – and a greater buffer between them and their competitors when the cycle turns down.

Counter cyclical investment – particularly in marketing – can mean the difference between make or break!

Read the original article, Penfolds owner swings the axe, in InDaily here.

Hughes Public Relations, based in Adelaide, South Australia, is a communications and PR consultancy with proven and extensive experience in publicity and media relations, issues management, crisis management, digital media and social media strategy and implementation, community consultation, event management, media training, publications and strategic problem solving. Find out more.

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Facebook, Hughes PR, Public relations, Social media, Twitter, Writing

OMG! Using exclamation marks for maximum impact

Kate Potter writes…

Cut out all those exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own jokes.exclamation mark
– F. Scott Fitzgerald

There’s a long running joke that public relations consultants use exclamation marks too much. And it’s true! They sneak into news releases (albeit, usually as part of a spokesperson’s quote rather than as part of the hard facts up front), are sprinkled throughout emails, hugely prevalent in text messages, and nowhere is more exclamation mark rich than social media accounts.

It’s time to slow down and think about whether your message really needs an exclamation mark.

I saw a Twitter account recently – a member of an industry not known for its exclamation marked communication style – and every single tweet included that little joyous punctuation mark.

It didn’t suit the organisation’s brand and style, and gave the Twitter account an unintentionally humorous angle – every Tweet, often communicating serious or routine news, was a celebration.

Now, those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. It’s often difficult to hold yourself back from using exclamation points when writing conversational, casual social media posts.

So let this be a memo to myself as it is to everyone else: relax!  Not every communication needs an exclamation point! (I am a culprit here. Big time.)

Deborah Gaines, in an article for PR Daily, points out the need for balance.

“People who get excited about every little thing are perceived as flighty and unprofessional, and those who never show sparks seem dull and plodding.”

So, this is not a call to end the use exclamation points. Instead, ask yourself:

  • Is this message exciting to the target audience? (Rather than: is this news exciting to me / my organisation?)
  • Is this message emotional?
  • Is this message surprising?
  • Where else in the communication have I used exclamation marks? (Choose the most exclamation mark-worthy message and stick with that, rather than every message.)
  • Is the style of the communication more conversational and casual, or is it more corporate and formal?
  • What is the “personality” and “voice” of the organisation I am communicating on behalf of?
  • Do I need one exclamation mark or two or three or four? (Hint: unless you are sending a personal email or text message to your friends, the answer to this one is “one”. Always one!)

In another great article from PR Daily, Laura Hale Brockway reminds us of the Seinfeld episode in which Elaine breaks up with her boyfriend over his failure to use an exclamation mark. So perhaps don’t let your eschewing of the exclamation mark go too far!

Hughes PR is a communications and public relations consultancy with proven and extensive experience in publicity and media relations, issues management, crisis management, digital media and social media strategy and implementation, community consultation, event management, media training, publications and strategic problem solving. Find out more.

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Digital Media, Hughes PR, Marketing, Media, Public relations, Social media, Video, YouTube

What is a VNR?

When talking about video for business often the phrase VNR comes up in conversation. In this video blog post, Hughes PR’s Digital Video Production Manager explains exactly what it is and how you can use video news releases to benefit your business.

Watch more of our online videos on our YouTube Channel.

Hughes PR is a communications and public relations consultancy with proven and extensive experience in publicity and media relations, issues management, crisis management, digital media and social media strategy and implementation, community consultation, event management, media training, publications and strategic problem solving. Find out more.

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Public relations, Writing

Catering to a tl;dr society

Kate Potter writes…

If you’ve spent much time on the Internet, there’s no doubt you’ve come across a phenomenon that’s been making its way into the mainstream: “tl;dr”.

“tl;dr”, or simply “TLDR”, stands for “too long; didn’t read”. It was first used by social media users as a “come back” of sorts when someone posted a comment, article or story that the commenter thought was literally too long. Too much information, too many words – they were basically saying “I don’t have the time for this” or “I can’t be bothered”.

I can’t tell you the frustration I got when my husband started sending “TLDR” emails in response to mine 😉

Over time, however, the meaning of TLDR has evolved, it is now also being used by writers as a proactive measure: added as a footnote to the end of their text. A one line summary of their writing, it caters to the lazy / mildly interested / time-poor of their audience. (There are millions of examples out there, but here’s one.)

So my question is, with online catering to a TLDR audience, is that the way our media-consumption is heading? Are we going to become a society of TLDRers? And how can we cater to TLDRers?

Headlines are read, first paragraphs are skimmed through, decisions are made whether or not to continue reading before the end of the third sentence. YouTube videos with 10 seconds fade-in introductions are more likely to be clicked out of than sat through. Websites with splash pages? No more. Who has time for the extra click?

I think PR professionals do it better than most. PR has always catered for a TLDR audience, even if it didn’t have a catchy name. “Describe the story in five words” was one piece of advice I was given when I first got a job in PR. “All your essential information should be in the first two sentences”, I was told. We need to be experts at capturing the attention of our audience in a split second.

We need constant reminding on this though. Here’s one article that you should definitely take the time to read through, it’s one of my favourites and I refer back to it often. A Manifesto of a Simple Scribe reminds us that “no one will ever complain because you have made something too easy to understand”. And besides, apparently simple writing makes you look smart.

“I have made this letter longer than usual, because I lack the time to make it short” — Blaise Pascal

TL;DR: Society’s attention spans are shrinking. PR professionals need to cater to this by capturing the attention of their audience quickly and keeping their writing compelling and simple.

Hughes PR is a communications and public relations consultancy with proven and extensive experience in publicity and media relations, issues management, crisis management, digital media and social media strategy and implementation, community consultation, event management, media training, publications and strategic problem solving. Find out more.

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