5 Tips for Keeping New Year’s Resolutions and Planning Effective PR Campaigns

As we begin 2013, there is no shortage of people setting New Year’s resolutions, but what might be surprising is that the keys to New Year’s success are similar to those that drive successful public relations campaigns. Take a look:

1. Be specific — Common resolutions are to save money, stop smoking or lose weight, but to actually achieve any of these goals, you should be specific in what you want to achieve. You are more likely to accomplish a resolution of “I want to lose 40 pounds” versus “I want to lose weight.”

The same idea holds true for effective public relations planning too. Many times, an organization may simply say they want to raise awareness of a certain product or service, but there is no way to accomplish that goal if it is not specific. For example, saying, “I want to raise awareness of this new widget, by 15 percent, among teenagers by September,” gives the organization a measureable goal to strive towards.

Bottom line, in order to likely keep to a New Year’s resolution, be specific in what you want to achieve.

2. Be realistic — Whether it’s losing weight or saving money, the resolution needs to be attainable. For example, the goal of losing 70 or more pounds in a year is likely not realistic for many people, but 40 this year and 30 the following year is more within reach.

Realistic goals for PR campaigns are important too. It is unrealistic to believe that a new product or service can capture a majority of market share immediately after being introduced; however, by setting a goal of five or 10 percent in certain markets, it is much more attainable depending upon the product, service and market.

3. Devise a plan — If the goal is to lose weight, than the plan might be to visit the gym four days a week and substitute snacks with fruits and vegetables.

In PR, planning is critical to a campaign’s success. Any successful PR plan must have goals, objectives, key messages, tactics and a way to evaluate success. There always needs to be a plan of action.

4. Set short-term goals — A year is a long time, which is why setting short-term goals will help make sure you’re on the right track to meet the overall, long-term goal. For someone wanting to lose weight, it could be daunting to think they should visit the gym at least 16 times in a month, but by making it a weekly goal of four times, suddenly the task seems possible.

The same can be said for a campaign. Rather than trying to increase awareness of a widget by 15 percent in nine months, it might be easier to set quarterly or monthly goals to make sure the plan is working and allow time to make tweaks along with way.

5. Be resilient — As with any new endeavor there will be bumps in the road. There will be a week when you can’t get to the gym as often as you’d like or eat as many balanced meals; however, the trick is to not give up. Setbacks happen, but don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. Each day, week and month can start off as a clean slate to get back on track.

In campaigns, sometimes one tactic may work better than another, or goals need be adjusted because of unseen circumstances. Regardless, as long as plans are flexible and can accept changes, than the overall goal could still be met.

Start the New Year off right and fine-tune your resolutions if necessary, then the next time you’re ready to plan a new campaign remember the steps taken to make your resolution attainable. The steps are similar, and when followed can prove effective.

Source: http://www.kshb.com/dpp/lifestyle/5-tips-on-keeping-your-new-years-resolution#ixzz2GpN2Da00

[photo via]

Marketing and Communications Digital Trend Review [DOWNLOAD]

Making sense of today’s evolving digital marketing techniques

If you live and work in the world of marketing and communications, you are no doubt aware that the way brands are sharing information and engaging with customers changes daily. In fact, making sense of all of these new changes and trends can easily become a full-time job.

To help you stay on top of the latest and greatest trends, we’ve audited the marketing, branding and communications industries to see what’s working and what isn’t. We have defined what we see as seven trends likely to stick and play a leading role in 2013 marketing strategies across the globe.

To spark some ideas in your 2013 planning, download our Marketing and Communications Digital Trend Review to learn how LEGO, Target, Subaru, ExactTarget, Banana Republic and others are leveraging today’s hot marketing techniques to engage customers today.

Find it here.

Hashtag haven: How Twitter adds value to in-person events

If you aren’t following designated hashtags at the next event you attend, then you are missing out. And, if you are going to a digital conference, such as the ExactTarget Connections conference, then it is an absolute must!

While not an avid Twitter user on a ongoing basis — my posts are sporadic and I have a very modest number of followers — I’ve found that cueing in to conversations on Twitter at events and conferences adds a whole new dimension to the learning process.

Here’s how I maximized my experience at the Connections conference by following the #ET12 hashtag:

Find hot topics in advance: A week before the conference, I started following the buzz on Twitter to gauge the most talked-about aspects of the conference to help plan my itinerary.

Join live discussions: While the sessions I attended did not have a built-in Q&A, the real-time discussions on Twitter added a new dimension to the experience. If someone had a similar question, I could easily follow along for a response.

Follow post-event blogging: After the event, I continued to follow the hashtag for a more in-depth perspective on the event. Since many attendees blogged about the event, the hashtag served as a useful aggregator in culling through these posts.

Network with other professionals: In addition, I used the hashtag to determine if there were other professionals that I wanted to follow on an ongoing basis. For me, this is a great way to connect with new industry thought leaders.

Of course, I’d be remiss if I did not share some of my favorite tweets from the conference.

Have you followed an event hashtag? Did it add to your experience?

The faces of MB

Meet: Laura Barnard, Public Relations Account Executive

We have many team members at MB whose jobs keep them occupied with a select few accounts, and we don’t often get the opportunity to introduce them to the rest of our clients and the world. As part of an ongoing weekly series, we’re sharing a fast, interesting Q&A with one of our people that will let you (and us!) get to know them a little better.

1. What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I enjoy learning something new every day. Working in the types of industries we do, there are constant opportunities to learn more about our clients’ businesses.

2. Which foreign language would you like to learn, and why?

Spanish. Seeing as how it’s becoming more prominent in certain sections of our country, it would be nice to learn it.

3. Fill in the blank: You can tell a lot about a person by ____.

How they treat others when they think no one is looking.

4. What was the last live performance you saw?

The last major performance I saw was either Jimmy Buffett or Aerosmith, I honestly can’t remember, but whichever it was, I remember having a great time!

5. What is your favorite gadget?

Right now, I love my Kindle. It goes with me almost everywhere.

6. What is something you have not yet done that you would like to accomplish in your lifetime?

Visit and explore the Galapagos Islands with my husband.

You can learn more about Laura in last year’s profile. Check back next week when we profile a member of our creative team.

The faces of MB

Meet: Rosie O’Hara, Public Relations Director

Our fearless leaders are often the first people from MB you may meet, but since they’re tasked with keeping our machine well-oiled, you might not have the chance to really get to know them. As part of an ongoing weekly series, we’re sharing a fast, interesting Q&A with one of our people that will let you (and us!) get to know them a little better.

1. What one piece of advice would you give to a college student considering a job like yours?

Always come to the table with open ears and an open mind. Be a sponge for knowledge and then put that to use every chance you have.

2. What were your hobbies when you were a kid?

I don’t really even like the word “hobby”… makes me think of knitting or scrap booking, the kind of things people often try and quit. There were lots of things I enjoyed at one time or another like piano, soap box derby, tap dancing (yes, that happened), building an awesome train set, scouting, sports, etc. The truth is, what I enjoyed most as a kid was the “unplanned” activities like being outside, exploring, playing and laughing with my friends. (Seems not much has changed.)

3. Describe your grandmothers.

Wow. This could take a while. I was blessed to grow up in the same town with all four of my grandparents, and I treasure what I learned from them collectively. My grandmothers were both strong willed, quick witted, lived frugally and made family a priority. I adore them both so much. My “little grandma” is Grandma Carrier. Of my grandparents she is the only one still in the here-and-now. She will be 96 next year and rocks a big smile every day. She is a true role model. She once told me that if you chew your food really well, you will live a long life (either she was right, or the fact that she drank at least one beer per night while reading her bible made it so.)

4. How do you relax?

With a good book and at least one dog by my side.

5. What is your best method for saving money?

Put it away and pretend it’s not there.

6. You would jump up and down and shout with joy right now if someone told you ____.

A cure has been found for cancer.

You can learn more about Rosie in last year’s profile. Check back next week when we profile a member of our studio team.

There is no General Public

Even large audiences have unique qualities

A co-worker and I recently volunteered to help a local organization judge communication and marketing plans, campaigns and tactics for another state’s annual awards. We judged roughly 10 of the nearly 100 entries, and were shocked by the number of communication and marketing professionals who felt their campaign, plan or tactic was geared towards the “general public.”

Let me make this clear, there is no such thing as the “general public.”

Even the campaigns for the current Presidential candidates and a new brand of sugar-free fruit snacks are not targeted to general audiences, but rather specific groups of people. You would never launch a new product or initiative and toss it out into the world with hopes that it sticks to anyone who will listen.

Third-graders and baby boomers have different interests

One of the entries we reviewed was for an education institution that claimed a certain tactic was targeted toward the “general public.” My co-worker asked me what I thought about it, and my response was simple: “Would my eight-year-old niece be interested in this? No. Therefore, general public is an inappropriate audience.” My niece has zero interest in what’s going on beyond third grade and her gymnastics class. What might have made more sense in this particular case, would have been a defined audience of 18-54 year old men and women, living within a certain distance, who were interested in pursuing an education that could be flexible with the realities of working adults.

This is just one example of what we encountered while judging, but the unfortunate part is that out of the roughly 10 entries we reviewed, only two had well defined audiences. How does this happen? How can smart, educated marketing and communication professionals forget one of the most critical elements to any successful plan, campaign or tactic — the audience?

Define your audience, even when it’s broad

When identifying the target audience for a communication or marketing campaign, or specific tactics, it’s critical to define the audience. Which gender should receive your message; should they be within a certain age range; do location/proximity, education or wealth matter? What about psychographics? These are all questions that must be answered in order for any campaign or tactic to succeed.

In today’s hurry-up-and-get-things-done environment, it’s easy to maybe not review materials or documents as closely as we should, and if someone has worked with an organization or client for a long period of time, it’s easy to forget to communicate the fine details of the target audience, especially in a short award submission.

I’m confident that if most of the professionals who submitted the award entries went back and thought more about the question, “Who was the target audience?” they could come up with a more specific segment of the population than the general public. But, regardless, all of us need to keep the audience in mind when putting together materials and communication and marketing plans.

The faces of MB

Meet: Angie Dye, Public Relations Account Supervisor

We have many team members at MB whose jobs keep them occupied with a select few accounts, and we don’t often get the opportunity to introduce them to the rest of our clients and the world. As part of an ongoing weekly series, we’re sharing a fast, interesting Q&A with one of our people that will let you (and us!) get to know them a little better.

1. What is the most rewarding part of your job?

That I have the opportunity to learn something new each and every day.  I’m constantly surrounded by bright, interesting people that challenge the way I think. And, I am addicted to my Google Reader, which is an awesome place to expand my horizons.

2. What did you collect as a kid?

I’ve been a minimalist at heart for as long as I can remember, so having any kind of collection just doesn’t jive with me.  I guess my interests were fleeting and didn’t get attached to the material things around me.

3. Tell us about a funny or crazy experience from a family gathering or vacation.

When I was 10, my sister and I tied our sleds to my uncle’s truck after a big snowstorm, and he towed us around the countryside all day. It was the ultimate sledding adventure!

4. What is the farthest you have traveled from home? 

Brussels, Belgium (4,180 miles!) for a global marketing conference. It ended up being the perfect balance of work and play, and I oscillated between sweet and savory waffles for every meal (yum!).

5. What is your favorite room in your house?

The kitchen. When my husband Joe and I remodeled our home, we added a fairly large sitting area in the kitchen. It’s the perfect area to relax, drink wine, cook and entertain…

6. What daily activity do you treasure more than any other?

I read a book every night before bed. It’s the perfect way to decompress after a long day…

You can learn more about Angie in last year’s profile. Check back next week when we profile a member of our creative team.

Live-Tweeting a kidney transplant surgery

IU Health shares what they learned from their live Twittercast

Combine health care, education and social media, and what do you get? A first-in-the-state live Twittercast of a living kidney transplant surgery, broadcast by Indiana’s IU Health (@IU_Health) in June 2012. Earlier this week, I attended an Indy Social Media breakfast at which the two orchestrators of the Twittercast (@kristoferkarol and @callmegeno) shared a behind-the-scenes look at the campaign and results.

Live-Tweeting a surgery: an idea one year in the making

Kristofer Karol of the IU Health PR team first started contemplating the idea of live Tweeting a surgery in 2011. A few other hospitals had successfully live-Tweeted surgeries, including Aurora Health Care in Wisconsin, which IU Health ended up using as a model for its own campaign, learning from their objectives and experiences.

When done, this would be the first live surgery Tweeted in Indiana, and it offered great opportunity as an educational tool.

Selecting the best surgery to Tweet

How do you choose the right surgery to broadcast in your first live Twittercast? The team chose a living-donor kidney transplant for four main reasons:

  • Needed to be a relatively short surgery: for a living-donor kidney transplant, both the donor and recipient surgeries would be completed within a 4-5 hour window
  • Best possible outcome: they wanted to select a surgery with the best chance of patient safety and a positive outcome
  • Scheduling: Because the donor is alive, a team can easily schedule a living-donor kidney transplant surgery
  • Expertise: IU Health does 250 kidney transplants a year, so the surgical teams have a great deal of experience

Preparing for the surgery

The idea for live-Tweeting a surgery may have originated a year in advance, but when the transplant team was asked to recommend a potential donor and patient, the selected pair’s scheduled surgery was only nine days away. It posed a significant challenge for the Twitter team, as they had a little more than a week to get all parties on board, including legal, risk management and the hospital’s Chief Medical Officer.

Once they had approval, preparation began in earnest. Among their list of 27 pre-surgery tasks, they:

  • Researched and prepared factoid Tweets and answers for possible questions in advance
  • Selected a hashtag—#CalebsKidney—that would be catchy, easy to use, and personable
  • Planned for possible complications
  • Assigned day-of roles for all team members, including one person dedicated solely to fielding questions
  • Did a dry run during another transplant surgery, enabling them to test their equipment in the basement operating room
  • Selected a platform for Tweeting: initially, they planned to use Tweetdeck, but when they realized that no IU Health employees could access it, they ended up just using Twitter itself

Live Tweeting #CalebsKidney surgery

During the surgery, the team used two laptops and three smartphones to maintain a steady flow of Tweets, each of which was reviewed by a member of the medical staff for accuracy before posting.

Campaign results

The campaign was wildly successful. Not only was the surgery itself a success for both the donor and recipient, but IU Health easily surpassed its initial objectives.

  • Objective 1: gain 500 new followers. Actual result: gained 1,363, with 500 on the day of the surgery alone
  • Objective 2: get 50 mentions or retweets. Actual result: 1,754, including one from Alyssa Milano, who retweeted @IU_Health’s tweet to her 2 million followers
  • Objective 3: secure 25 media placements. Actual result: 100, including one from the LA Times

What’s next for the understandably excited and exhausted team? In support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, they’ll be hosting a Q&A Twitterchat with two breast cancer doctors on Oct. 2 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern with the hashtag #ThinkPink.

Another presentation attendee created a great summary on Storify, which you can check out to learn more.

Did you follow #CalebsKidney on the day of the surgery? Or have you ever considered live-Tweeting something that makes your brand unique? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo via @IU_Health.

The faces of MB

Meet: Jason Hathaway, Public Relations Writer

We have many team members at MB whose jobs are more behind the scenes, and we don’t often get the opportunity to introduce them to our clients and the rest of the world. As part of an ongoing weekly series, we’re sharing a fast, interesting Q&A with one of our people that will let you (and us!) get to know them a little better.

1. How long have you been at MB?

Seven wonderful years.

2. Which foreign language would you most like to learn, and why?

I’d like to develop my basic tourist-taqueria customer Spanish into a more fluent, conversational grasp of the language. I just want to be better prepared next time I travel to a Spanish-speaking nation and also be able to communicate more clearly with the growing Latino population around here.

3. You can tell a lot about a person by ____?

Their stances on social issues, and how they communicate those stances to others.

4. What object in a museum would you most like to see?

The human oddity exhibits at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington, D.C.

5. What are your personal staples—foods you keep around at all times?

There are always at least one or two sharp cheeses and a door-shelf full of basic condiments in our refrigerator to incorporate into our cooking projects and an overflowing library of spices hanging on the kitchen wall.  The rest is usually whatever sounds good for the week. I do, however, usually keep a jar of chunky peanut butter, a jar of marshmallow filling and whole wheat bread on hand for the occasional late-night “fluffer-nutter sandwich” snack.

6. What will be your next milestone in life?

I just became a dad this summer to a beautiful baby girl, so that’s one of my favorite big milestones so far. I guess the next milestone is my 40th birthday, which is four years away. I’m hoping a much cooler unexpected milestone happens between now and then, though!

You can learn more about Jason in last year’s profile. Check back next week when we profile a member of our creative team.

PR Account Executive, Laura Barnard, earns Accreditation in Public Relations

We are excited to congratulate our very own Laura Barnard, PR account executive, on achieving her Accreditation in Public Relations (APR).

The Accreditation program aims to improve the practice of public relations by testing competence in 60 areas of knowledge, skills and abilities associated with the profession, such as ethics, crisis management, business literacy and media relations, required to effectively practice public relations. Established in 1964, the Accreditation program is the public relations profession’s only national post-graduate certification program.

To prepare herself for the process, Laura completed an APR study course and began preparing for her readiness review. This is the time a candidate presents a completed PR project to a group of APRs during a one- to two-hour session. Current APRs ask questions about the project and profession to judge the candidate’s ability to think strategically and demonstrate a thorough understanding of PR.

Candidates who pass the panel can then begin studying for the computer-based exam, which tests their knowledge on communication theory, strategic planning, research and evaluation methods, and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) code of ethics.

Laura’s accreditation in public relations helps strengthen the credibility of the public relations profession while she also advances her own education.

Congratulations, Laura!

Laura is one of our authors here on the blog, so stick around and check out some of her great work.


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