Awards season is in full swing, and some great recent successes for our clients have prompted discussion among the team about industry awards and the benefits they can offer. We’ve all been there – frantically attempting to dress in our black tie outfits in the office bathroom while still responding to emails! But awards can offer a great deal of opportunity, provided you approach them with a fresh perspective. Here are some tips for to help you make the most of them.
When you’re thinking about attending or sponsoring an awards evening, consider:
Are the right representatives of your company going? Which journalists will be there? Evenings like these offer fantastic networking opportunities so make sure your team is prepared
Have you invited key customers to join you? Corporate hospitality provides invaluable face time with clients, and investing in a full table for invited guests can offer a great platform for this
If sponsoring, what are your objectives? General brand awareness, or promotion of a specific product? Ensure the branding and logos you have at the event reflect this
Think beyond a ‘logo on a screen’ to the more creative options. You have your industry in one room – find a way to excite and engage them that will leave a more lasting impression. Perhaps sponsor a red carpet to capture photos that can be sent to peoples devices in real time on the night, or sponsor the bar and have a cocktail menu designed around your product names
Winning an award can provide valuable third party endorsement and raise awareness in your industry of a new product or general business capabilities. In an increasingly competitive landscape, your submission is up against some tough competition. Make sure you:
Select awards and categories carefully – make sure the effort put in to a submission is well placed
Read the brief carefully and put together considered, well written copy that covers the required criteria concisely. Be sure to clearly pull out statistical business benefits to differentiate
Select impactful supporting materials that are engaging (consider testimonials, video footage, and infographics)
When reviewing, put yourself in the judges’ shoes (in most cases you will be able to find out who they are, so tailor where possible). When reviewing, consider: does this submission impress? Where is the “wow factor”?
If you are shortlisted, make sure you are prepared for the evening, and the days following it, in order to make the most of the PR opportunities it presents. Creating a buzz in the lead up and directly after the awards is key, so:
Do you have a media alert ready to announce your win in a timely fashion?
Are the awards being filmed and can you access footage for your social media platforms?
Have you alerted customers, partners and employees of your nomination on your social media channels?
Whether entering a new product for a prestigious award, entertaining customers in an industry-relevant environment or raising brand awareness with an engaging sponsorship activity, awards evenings are rich with opportunity. So get your glad rags on and get involved!
The following post was written by Lindsay LeCain and Theresa Masnik, Racepoint Group Account Executives. Connect with Lindsay and Theresa on Twitter.
Last week, in the bowels of the Boston Public Library, PR Newswire presented a half-day session on the importance of “Employing Visual Content for Compelling Storytelling.” One of the presenters, Andrew Davis (@TPLDrew), had a particularly compelling Prezi in which he addressed the three “simple” (read: not easy) rules for successful storytelling. Here is a brief summary of his presentation:
Three Simple Rules for Excellent Storytelling
Build Suspense: Build anxiety about what will happen. Great storytelling is creating suspense. Viewers don’t want to look away because they feel the need to see what happens at the end. To showcase this concept, Davis presented a compelling case study about Juicing and Juicers. The campaign, sponsored by Breville (an Australian-based appliance manufacturer), was designed to get more people (men in particular) interested and invested in the juicing movement (fruits and vegetables, not HGH). So the company worked with Joe Cross, an Aussie on a mission to lose weight and get healthy. How did he do it? He rented a car and drove across the US. His road trip, however, was not a fast-food-eat-it when-and-where-you-can-get-it, but a “juicing across America adventure” wherein he shared the struggles and successes of his new lifestyle. The adventure was then made into a movie, titled, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”. And people got it. Breville, the company sponsoring the trip and paying to promote the film, had seen stagnant sales in their juicers until about three weeks after the film was released on Netflix. Within weeks, the company sold out of juicers—not just in Australia or the US, but worldwide.
If you want to make an impact and show that your story is making an impact, you have to make the spikes at the times when they aren’t naturally spiking. (A great tool for this is Google Insights for Search)
What if your moment of inspiration is tied directly to the suspense you build? Ask yourself, is there inherent suspense in the story I’m telling?
Foster Aspiration: Inspire people to be better. Help people live the lifestyle they want. To show this notion of “fostering aspiration,” Davis showed the audience the story of “extreme” music video creator and producer, Devin Graham and the partnership he forged with Oregon-based lifestyle brand, Vooray. To encourage this kind of lifestyle embrace, Vooray worked with Graham to host just about the coolest non-event I have ever seen. Graham invited his friends (some really, really, really good looking friends) and had a party—on a lake in the middle of Oregon. Here is what that looks like. Graham set the day’s festivities to music and in doing so, managed to perfectly capture the cutting edge of cool in a way that did not feel the least bit commercial. As a result of this one video, the company went from limited distribution and fewer than one million in sales to international distribution and over 10 million in sales, in a few short weeks. This is the power of content that shows viewers how to live the life they want to lead.
What if your moment of inspiration is tied to your audiences aspirations? Aspire to create great exciting events and content that relates to that audience.
Ask yourself, what does my audience aspire to do or be?
Drive Empathy: Encourage people to perceive your product or service as something less commercial and a bit more human. A perfect example of this is the work IBM did with Jeopardy. Having Watson compete against “regular” people (i.e., the most successful individuals to ever play the game: Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter) viewers, regardless of their feelings about the concept before the show, found themselves empathizing with the machine. Win or lose, those watching (myself included) felt compassion for this amazing technological feat. This audacious request, proposed by the masterminds at IBM, was designed to make viewers feel something about the international consulting and mainframe computer manufacturer. After the appearance on Jeopardy, the company saw a 20% increase in consulting service sale—within one quarter of the show’s airdate. The subsequent coverage of Watson and the brains behind the supercomputer was made into a NOVA– The Smartest Machine on Earth—and although 90% of the content in this PBS feature was shot by IBM (generally a no-no in the world of independent journalism) the company managed to successfully show viewers the intense work and the process of development the company faced.
What if I was emotionally invested in your product or service?
Ask yourself: Can I empathize with the product?
The moral of the presentation can be summed up by this simple question and answer: What if we created moments of inspiration?
Ignore best practices and focus entirely on telling great stories.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Engage Digital Storytelling conference in NYC on behalf of Racepoint Group’s Digital Consumer Practice. This full-day event was studded with top executives from HBO, MTV, Esquire Magazine, Facebook, Buzzfeed and many more awesomely relevant brands. While waiting for the event to begin, I met a sports publicist, a mobile developer, an entrepreneur in graphic design, and a public relations pro who had traveled all the way from Switzerland – a true representation of how digital storytelling is applicable across a web of interconnected industries all striving for brand relevance and success.
Our Digital Consumer Practice team found attending this event to be a real treat, especially considering how digital storytelling constantly comes into play for our clients. We’re always looking for new and creative ways to tell a client’s story, and creativity was definitely delivered in large doses during each session.
As I began writing this recap, I realized there was far too much interesting content from the conference to fit into just one post. As a result, this is the first post in a series on Digital Storytelling, one which highlights three distinctly unique perspectives on how technology is the new blank canvas for storytelling.
Perspective 1: Adam Berger, Creative Strategist, Facebook
Adam’s creative strategy is built around an important foundational belief – people don’t change. Sure, technology and the mediums through which we consume content are constantly evolving, but ultimately, people will remain constant in their core interests, needs and desires. From the newspaper to online content to social media, people always apply what they know from the previous medium to the next. You’ll see this in the repurposing of print articles online, and the subsequent repurposing of these posts on social media. The message really hasn’t changed, it’s just the medium. And ultimately, no matter what medium is being used, brands can’t forget that it’s about the people.
So how do we build brand identity in a world where the medium for message dissemination is changing faster than ever before? The answer: cater to the feed. Most digital content today is consumed through feeds, meaning the most effective stories will be designed as if the feed is the most important canvas of all. There are three important rules to designing a storytelling strategy for these new canvasses, which brands should pay special attention to:
Be respectful of people’s feeds. Don’t clog feeds with content that isn’t both a part of your brand narrative and useful to people.
Start with the brief, and realize that sharing is really just talking. Approach feed content as a conversation, instead of a blast of information.
Respond in real-time. Brands need to be timely and relevant every day, while providing rich, deep storytelling.
Perspective 2: Brian Ballard, CEO, APX Labs
Brian’s approach to digital storytelling is to design it with the technology of the future in mind. Over the next five years, he forecasts people will be interacting with each other in a completely different way due to an innovation you’ve probably heard of at this point: Smart Glasses.
Smart glasses such as Google Glass create a real-time digital layer that overlays information over the real world. They’re designed to be on and with you everywhere you go, meaning the story isn’t confined to the times when you’re checking your smartphone or laptop. Every time someone looks at something, a story can be told that is specifically tailored to their preferences, allowing for more immersive storytelling. For example, two people can look at the exact same thing, whether it’s a storefront or a commercial while watching TV, and see two totally different things based on what part of the story they care about most. This is a whole new level of social, where brands can choose not only how much to share, but exactly when and how quickly.
Perspective 3: Nick Hooker, Creative Director, Framestore
Most people are extremely familiar with the work of Framestore, including special and visual effects in major motion films such as Iron Man 3, Zero Dark Thirty and Lincoln. The problem is no one knows they are looking at Framestore’s work. As soon as a director comes to them, the art department gets to work on establishing the DNA of the film through mind-blowing graphics. Unfortunately, the graphics are top secret and never revealed to the public. In order to lift the curtain between the audience and the awesome graphics their creative designers produce, Nick decided to embark on a bold new experiment in storytelling – giving the entire story to the audience.
In partnership with io9, Framestore started creating and progressively publishing images from the art department with zero accompanying narrative. They then asked the audience to build a narrative around the image. Framestore then selected five submissions and asked the community to select the best, from which the art department designed another image, which was posted and carried through the same process, until ultimately there was an entire story built purely by crowdsourcing and engaging the audience. Nick touts the success of this experiment and relates it to how brands can harness the innate storytelling power of their audience and take lead from them.
He provided the example of a piece of art on DeviantArt that depicted a teddy bear over a sleeping child’s head fighting off a bad dream with a sword. This image spoke to people so much and received so many shares and engagements that Hollywood bought the rights to it and will make a movie about it. This is a prime example of recognizing the mysterious connection that sometimes happens between an audience and a story from the grassroots up. Allowing an audience to steer you in the direction of what it is they really care about and then harnessing that to build a narrative creates a true, deep connection.
What is your approach to digital storytelling for your brand? What have you learned along the way?
This morning upon logging into Facebook, I was greeted with the following status at the top of my news feed:
I’m used to seeing statuses about my friends’ dogs urinating, not urinating, wearing sunglasses, and getting dog-shamed. I don’t mind it – in fact I usually find it at the very least amusing. What I’m not used to seeing is a MySpace infiltration of emoticons in my feed. That’s cool, I guess, but couldn’t I just do that with the standard emoticons on Facebook? I was doing just fine with happy, sad, really happy and the heart. Now I can be… great? Wonderful? Better? I’m riding a roller coaster of emotion, but Facebook only allows me to use one at once.
The fun doesn’t stop there, folks! You can also tell the world what you’re watching, listening to, drinking and eating (see what I did there?) – but only one at a time. So you can tell the world that you’re drinking an Old Speckled Hen, but you can’t simultaneously tell the world you’re happy about it. Unless, of course, you do it the old-fashioned way:
I even got an emoticon in there! I have to imagine that everything Facebook lets me tag gets sold to countless companies and will allow for even more targeted advertising. You’re eating ice cream, you say? Check out these new Ben & Jerry’s flavors! Reading Game of Thrones? Check out the HBO series! While many of us say what we “like” in our profiles, that information can get stale. For instance, if you joined Facebook as a college freshman in 2005 and said you love frat parties, it’s possible that you’ve lost interest in them since then. If you don’t update your likes regularly, however, it’s outdated information for advertisers. What you said you were listening to five minutes ago is an entirely different story.
Some folks get defensive about social networks selling their data to advertisers. While I don’t like the idea, I doubt much of my information is private any more. And as far as advertising is concerned, I’d much rather see ads for goods and services that I actually find interesting as opposed to, say, mail-order brides. Whether I actually use the feature is yet to be determined.
Ah, new logos. You don’t have to have 10 or 20 years of business experience under your belt to know logo development is no walk through the park. Scale that to the magnitude of a brand like American Airlines. Unchanged since 1967, American made quite the stir as they unveiled their new logo in January. Now, while branding experts and business analysts may look at this as “a changed customer experience” (I can’t say a logo has that effect on me, but this is why I’m not a branding expert) and talk about how this marks a milestone for the company and its future, I’m more interested in the paint behind the logo, quite literally.
American got creative with this one. They named the new logo “Flight Symbol” (how original!) and it “contains the eagle, the star, the ‘A,’ and refreshed shades of red, white and blue. Together, they represent a clean and modern update to the core icons of our company.” Colors to match the American name. Refreshed. Modern. Icon. Cool. Focus in on that last part, specifically the “clean” part. I have a different interpretation of that, so keep reading.
Tune out all of the background noise of a new logo, improved services and shift your attention to the news of American’s new poster child, a beast of a machine called a B787-9 Dreamliner. American is adding 42 of them to their fleet. As many airlines strive to become greener, the overall eco footprint/efficiency of an airline is a hot area of discussion in the airline industry. At its core, this new addition is an efficient aircraft and does fit the mold for the company’s vision to be cleaner (if we’re talking efficiency). When active, this new fleet will take on the logo/new paint scheme for American (see photo-please note that the aircraft pictured is NOT the Dreamliner).
Now, look at the rest of American’s fleet – it sports the old logo and paint job. I’ll admit it. It’s iconic. American was known for the simplicity of their logo/design. Nostalgia aside, a brand has to be consistent, right? While a massive painting overhaul won’t be completed overnight, the entire fleet has to match that new paint scheme of the Dreamliner eventually. That means each plane has to be stripped of its current look, which involves LESS paint, and be plastered with the new design which involves MORE paint.
It may not seem like a big deal, but that paint is weight and weight is waste. Think about lugging around five cans of paint – that weight you carry is transferred to the object you paint, planes included. For the talented Captain and First Officer flying that aircraft, weight is everything and they watch their weight like a bride a week before her wedding. Careful calculations go into every flight – my plane weighs this much and has to go this far and at this speed – how much fuel do I need? The heavier the plane is, the more fuel inefficient it is.
Rewind – remember that part about the change being a “clean update.” If you connect the dots, it appears the company has recently announced the addition of its flagship efficient aircraft and switched its logo/paint scheme, only to make the rest of its fleet more inefficient. Wasted fuel means more emissions. Higher fuel costs mean higher ticket prices. Blah. Blah. Blah. Bummer.
This is merely an observation, but as I pieced together everything, it was quite the funky path to follow. Further, Boeing’s Dreamliner family has experienced some electrical troubles in recent weeks and it’s possible it could be grounded until the problems are targeted and fixed – quite the messy situation.
A logo is more than a fun and cute design. It can communicate a lot about a company and is an important part about how a brand is positioned in the market. A fancy exterior can catch your attention, but remember that even the best gifts and surprises don’t always have fancy wrapping.
Old Spice is at it again, with another brilliant video campaign. This time, instead of personalizing YouTube videos, they’ve made “muscle music video” in which former NFL player and actor, Terry Crews, makes instruments play by flexing his muscles. The cool part of this campaign comes after the video is over, when viewers take control. By simply pressing keys on a keyboard, users can control which muscles he flexes, and therefore which sounds are made. Additionally, users can create and share their own muscle music videos with just one click.
Check out the video above and then try creating your own music music video.
Are Ryan Lochte's diamond-encrusted grillz teeth his idea of fashion, or for branding?
Let me begin this post by saying that I love the Olympics. I spent a large part of my weekend watching the events and can’t wait until the Track & Field events begin. It was so exciting watching some of the U.S. athletes compete – such as Kelci Bryant and Abby Johnston. The synchronized diving duo claimed silver in their event yesterday, which brought on tears of joy and exhilaration (go to the 4:05 mark of this video to watch). It didn’t seem like they could possibly be any happier, and it was amazing to watch them celebrate with each other, coaches and teammates.
Other athletes, such as Ryan Lochte, are also competing at the highest levels, but they seem to be looking for much more than a gold medal. For many of them, the Olympics have become a one-time opportunity to showcase themselves to companies and score big sponsorship deals that can make a huge financial impact on their lives. Shawn Johnson and Michael Phelps have cashed in big since the Beijing Olympics, and now the next group of athletes is chomping to get in on the action.
But the three weeks when athletes are most marketable – now – are also blocked by International Olympic Committee’s Rule #40 (via USA Today):
In accordance with Rule 40 (formerly 41) of the Olympic Charter, no competitor, coach, trainer or official who participates in the Olympic Games may allow his person, name, picture or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes except as permitted by the IOC Executive Board.
Another guideline from the IOC states:
Participants and other accredited persons are not permitted to promote any brand, product or service within a posting, blog or tweet or otherwise on any social media platforms or on any websites. Participants and other accredited persons must not enter into any exclusive commercial agreement with any company with respect to their postings, blogs or tweets on any social media platforms or on any websites, unless they have obtained the prior written approval of their relevant NOC.
In protest against these rules, many athletes have taken to Twitter, posting identical tweets:
While we certainly don’t want advertising and sponsorship to become the focus of the Olympics over competition, there are two things to consider:
The Olympics are a huge money maker, with dozens of official sponsors such as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Visa and BP.
The athletes in the Olympics don’t get paid.
Since athletes don’t get paid in the most visible and noteworthy competition of their lives, it’s no surprise they want the ability to market themselves during the Games. After all, many of the athletes have short careers (think Gymnastics) and have put in years – if not decades – of hard work to get to this point. Furthermore, with social media front and center in the Summer Olympics for the first time, athletes have a new avenue to attract fans and followers, and turn their brief moment of fame into a long-term revenue opportunity.
So should athletes have more sponsorship opportunities leading up to and during the Olympics? It’s a big debate that has valid points on their side. What do you think?
Bad idea, Celeb Boutique. Taking advantage of trending topics is great, when mass violence isn’t involved. Ignorance? Carelessness? Who knows. The reactions from the Twittersphere have been less than forgiving:
Below you can see just how rapidly people were reacting to the tweet from @CelebBoutique. At around 1:30 we open a column of tweets containing “Bieber” for comparison.
Anyone else reminded of Kenneth Cole #TwitterFAIL right now? Over an hour later, @CelebBoutique deleted their original tweet and issued a half-assed apology (attempting to change the subject in the process):
Our thoughts go out to all those who have been affected by the shootings.
UPDATE: @CelebBoutique has also tweeted that their PR is not US-based and apologized some more.
I’m not buying it. “We didn’t know!” is not something that a good PR team says. “Due Diligence” should go without saying on this one, folks.
Being tied to a desk is painful, but in the world of social media community management it’s basically a death sentence. Social media is meant to be an instantaneous platform, allowing brands the unique opportunity to address their customers concerns in real-time. Because of this, being able to manage your brands online presence whilst mobile has become a social media imperative.
Facebook has unveiled an application for iOS that will help make social media community management more functional while on the go. Facebook Pages Manager will allow users to respond, post and comment on their brand pages, upload statuses and photos, and view statistics and Insights.
According to MobileBurn, the application had an international soft launch last month and is now also available in the United States. Additionally, since announcing the application, Mashable’s article has received a wide variety of responses, with the vast majority of readers wondering when it will be available for Android:
The launch of this application will have huge implications for community brand managers, allowing for the ability to quickly engage with users at any time.
If you manage a brand page, how will the release of this new application impact how you use Facebook?
Every year when the B.A.A. Boston Marathon occurs, it put’s Boston-based New Balance in an awkward position. Even though they’re located in Brighton, MA, just a mile or two from the Boston Marathon course, they are not the official sponsor of the race. That title belongs to Adidas, who benefits by selling official merchandise to tens of thousands of runners.
While New Balance isn’t allowed to use the B.A.A. Boston Marathon name or logo on its clothing or marketing, for years it has tried to become involved with the race, or at least its runners. Each of the past three winters, New Balance has paid for the the Charles River bike paths and sidewalks to be plowed so runners could train in the park. They’ve also put together marketing campaigns (like this one) to reach Boston Marathon runners though motivational ads.
New Balance also created a Boston 2012 page on its website, which has unofficial Boston Marathon products for sale and an insider’s guide for the race. And get this – they’re opening a brand new retail store in Copley Square (right next to the finish line of the Marathon) on April 13, which is the day the Boston Marathon expo begins, and just three days before the race.
Clearly, New Balance is doing everything it can to be part of the Boston Marathon runner’s experience, while not being able to name the race. What do you think of their marketing strategy around the Boston Marathon?