Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Text that says "Things I Can't Say Out Loud"

Actions speak louder than words. That’s a phrase we’ve all heard. It was probably first uttered to us by a parent or teacher when they were suggesting that it was not good enough to say you were sorry, you had to show true remorse. The meaning behind that phrase extends into marketing these days as consumers are wanting to look behind the curtain to see if brands really mean what they say. 

If your brand is preparing for a post-COVID resurgence, whenever it may come, it’s important to consider a marketing plan that strikes the right tone with your employee, consumer or business audience. It’s vitally important that messages are authentic to the brand, and that they hit audiences where their core values are aligned. 

As an example of what we mean by actions speaking louder than words, we don’t have to look very far. More brands today are stepping up to signal their support for ending racism and growing equitable opportunities for Black people.  

It’s one thing to say that you believe in ending racism, but how do you prove it? Are you contributing time, money or expertise in a way that helps to solve issues and problems? Is a core element of your business designed in a way that supports historically disadvantaged people or groups? Are you prepared to change the way you do business, your hiring practices or your approach to align with your marketing? 

If you can answer a quick yes to any of those questions and add substance behind it, then you are putting words into action. However, a word of warning – if there is no “meat on the bone” and if you can’t prove how you support something, don’t bother talking about it.   

Words without actions are meaningless in general, but especially more so today when audiences are more digitally savvy and want to build relationships with brands they can trust.  It’s our belief that in the post-COVID world, consumer and business audiences will want to be aligned with brands that create meaningful engagements, that are human and that are as big on substance as they are on words. 

If you don’t have the substance that backs up what you support, take advantage of this time to operationalize that support. Think about what it looks like, what’s meaningful to your audience, and put effort and money behind it. If you aren’t comfortable giving voice to your support, remember that now is a great time to rethink your marketing and messaging to determine if your message is still relevant and that it continues to resonate with your audience. 

Most importantly, take the time to look inside your operations as well. Your employees are your brand’s largest organic influencers and they will be the first to speak up if your marketing and reality don’t match. Employees are also a great resource for identifying issues and concerns before they become reputational risks, so don’t be afraid to engage and empower them to help move your business forward. 

Words are important and here are some quick tips to put them into action:  

  1. Engage your entire team. Diversity of thought is as important now as ever. And, it’s just the right thing to do to ensure everyone on the team has a voice and seat at the table.

     

  2. Add meat to the bone by determining ways you can operationalize your brand beliefs and values. As an example, if diversity is important to your brand, how is it operationalized in your business? 

  3. Engage with your customers to better align your messaging and operations around what is important to them. 

As always, we’re here to help you think about how to make your words and actions more meaningful to your employees or customers.  

 

  

How to Build a B2B Public Relations Strategy

How to Build a B2B Public Relations Strategy

Traditional public relations (PR) tactics are often created with an eye towards a consumer audience, but a B2B PR plan can be equally effective when assessing your business strategies and goals. Check out 5 key elements to building a sound B2B PR strategy:

Step One: Establish Your Goal(s)

Do you want to…

  • share news or an announcement with your industry?
  • raise awareness and drive trial of your brand or product?
  • position yourself as an industry leader, innovator or educator?

Step Two: Develop Your Target Audience

B2B PR is more focused on reaching specific influencers in your industry than delivering a broad message to the masses. Once you establish your goals, you will have a better idea of who your target audience is and which industry decision-makers, influencers and thought-leaders you will want to connect with in order to reach them.

Step Three: Do Your Research

Where are decisionmakers getting their news, and where are industry opinion leaders sharing their thoughts? Some common places might include:

In addition to researching the best outlets for consideration, it’s important to know who at the outlet or publication might be the best fit for sharing your message. Consider the person’s position, beat or whether they have covered your company/topic before when deciding who to contact. It can be more effective than sending a pitch to a general news contact or the entire staff.

Step Four: Craft Your Message

Once you know who your audience is and how to reach them, it’s time to create a message that will resonate. Ensure that your core message is credible, easy to remember, relevant and clear without being too salesy. Bonus points if it offers a solution to problems their customers or the industry are already facing.

Step Five: Assess Coverage Quality

You should have metrics or KPIs (key performance indicators) in place for measuring your campaign’s success. For B2B PR efforts, some suitable metrics to track are:

 

  • number of hits (how many different outlets did it appear in?)
  • location of coverage (this includes which publication the coverage appears in as well as what format e.g. online, in print, social media, etc.)
  • depth of coverage (did you get a quick mention or reference or a full interview?)
  • conversations or actions this coverage is generating (i.e. event attendance, website visits through a trackable link or social media engagement)
Debunking 4 Common PR Myths

Debunking 4 Common PR Myths

Despite the significant role Public Relations can play in maximizing a brand’s reach and potential, the practice as a whole is still widely misunderstood. To help clear the air and paint a more accurate portrait of modern-day PR, we’re exposing a few of the most common myths and misconceptions tainting the industry.

 

Myth 1: PR is only for the bad times.

Public Relations can serve a variety of purposes in a marketing toolbox, but its main one is tactfully building and managing a brand’s reputation. A good general rule of thumb in the PR world is that consistency builds trust in a product or service, and that trust is what draws in and ultimately motivates customers to keep coming back. This customer loyalty is especially crucial when a brand receives negative attention.

Crisis management is often misconstrued as a reactive process, but in reality, it’s a very proactive approach. PR professionals are constantly working to help create and maintain a positive reputation for their clients in ways that include highlighting people and initiatives that help drive the brand’s narrative, spreading the word about important client news and programs or planning events that help bring together members of the client’s audience and community. All of this work to build a trustworthy brand image helps ensure that, if the brand has a misstep, customers would still be willing to back it up and stand beside it in times of turbulence.

Myth 2: PR has no value because it’s not quantifiable.

Unlike many industries today, the currency of public relations is something that can’t always be easily translated into tangible numbers. A public relations professional deals in credibility and strength of relationships rather than dollars and cents. However, there are a few different ways to measure the value of a PR strategy, such as the amount of media coverage secured surrounding a client’s product or service.

But these measurements are far more valuable than a dollar amount can represent, because the coverage is earned — not purchased. The third-party validation that comes with earned media adds an extra layer of credibility that can’t be bought. So while there aren’t always hard statistics to determine the success of a campaign, what you do receive is far more valuable: trust. Earning and maintaining the trust of the public is absolutely priceless.

Myth 3: PR stands for Press Release

Press releases are to public relations as a Happy Meal is to McDonald’s: while it’s a popular item, it’s certainly not the only thing on the menu. Likewise, press releases and media relations are only a small part of what PR is or what it can do. Public relations encompasses reputation building and management. It’s developing an internal communication plan, a crisis management plan or a social media strategy. It’s engaging in content marketing, event planning, relationship building and influencer marketing. It’s generating ideas to grow your reach, identify and segment your audience and target them precisely.

PR professionals can bolster your image by booking you at events and entering you in awards, and they can cement your reach and position by a shrewd combination of earned, owned and, in some cases, paid media. Can your press release do all of that?

Myth 4: Anyone Can Do It

Just because you can drive a car, fill it with gas or even change the oil, doesn’t mean you can fix a broken transmission — not when the alternative is using a trained mechanic! Public Relations is the same way. You may be able to market your brand effectively, but if PR is new to you, bringing in an expert can get you better results with a lot less hassle.

A successful PR approach requires a wide skillset that doesn’t just include writing press releases and pitching to the media. It entails creating a consistent brand by writing well, communicating strategically and effectively, building relationships with media, having extensive knowledge about your (and your client’s) industry, and engaging in audience identification and strategic targeting. And most importantly: it’s about having the time and resources to do all of those things.

Successful public relations efforts take more than just the few minutes you might have to set aside each day — it is a full-time, multifaceted job. So while you may want to do it yourself and bask in the blissful “I got us that coverage!” feeling, it might require giving up your day job to do so.

BKI Hot Takes: Negative Reviews Can Be Positive

BKI Hot Takes: Negative Reviews Can Be Positive

If your brand has been around long enough, chances are you’ve experienced negative consumer feedback. Whether it was a low product rating or a scathing online review, it’s never fun to receive criticism. But negative feedback isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, when handled correctly, it can go a long way in helping your brand and the products or services you offer.

Receiving feedback from customers is crucial to a brand’s success. Positive feedback lets us know what we are doing right, while negative feedback can alert us to problems and provide an opportunity to fix them. Though it’s probably safe to assume we would all rather receive one over the other, both are equally important for the well-being of your brand.

Take KFC, for example. When customers complained about the quality of their french fries, the fast food giant responded by changing their recipe and then used actual complaints they had received to promote their new-and-improved product.

This fun, engaging marketing strategy was not only successful because of how it was well-received by customers. It also made a clear statement that the brand has their ear to the ground when it comes to knowing and addressing their customer’s wants.

Negative feedback can also provide the opportunity to improve brand sentiment with your response. A 2017 study by BrightLocal found that customers who have their issue resolved in their first interaction with a business are twice as likely to purchase from that business again.

Nobody knows this to be true quite like Dominos Pizza. After a viral video showing two employees contaminating restaurant ingredients surfaced, the chain started its new “Pizza Turnaround” campaign.

This project centered on using customer feedback to not only revamp their pizza, but their overall brand image as well. The centerpiece of the campaign was a video that used real Dominos employees to tell the story of how the company listened to its critics and changed its pizza recipe for the better.

“You can either use negative comments to get you down, or you can use them to excite you and energize your process of making a better [product].” -Former Dominos CEO Patrick Doyle

Dominos’ response to the onslaught of negative feedback played a significant role in boosting its public image and brand sentiment because of how sincere it was. By taking the time to respond in a way that appropriately and effectively addressed feedback, the company was able to regain trust that had been lost.

Their efforts have paid off financially, too: Domino’s surpassed Pizza Hut in 2017 to become the world’s largest pizza chain, even outperforming the stock of Apple and Amazon in the process.

As shown by both KFC and Dominos, listening to your consumer’s wants and needs and then taking steps to meet them shows your customers that you genuinely care – something that goes a long way in building brand loyalty.

A whopping 68% of customers leave a brand or company because they feel their business is unappreciated. And while you may not be able to incorporate every customer’s input, listening and responding to what they have to say is crucial to keep them coming back.

As marketers, we need to stop looking at negative feedback as damaging to our reputation and start viewing it as opportunities to further enhance our products or services and, as a result, better serve our customers.

BKI Brand Study: How Patagonia Builds Brand Loyalty

BKI Brand Study: How Patagonia Builds Brand Loyalty

In an era where positive news can seem hard to come by, and the smallest incident can severely harm a brand’s reputation, the importance of humble bragging is next-to-none. But how do you promote your company’s good deeds in a way that’s noticeable enough to build goodwill without looking egotistical?

Make it a part of your brand’s mission.

Patagonia, an American outdoor clothing company, has always been at the forefront of social activism. In fact, the company recently updated their mission to clearly define their intentions: “Patagonia is in business to save our home planet.”

Although the mission is quite lofty, Patagonia seems to be rising to meet the challenge. A few weeks ago, the company announced they were donating $10 million received through tax cuts in 2017 to support grassroots environmental organizations. “Instead of putting the money back into our business, we’re responding by putting $10 million back into the planet,” Rose Marcario, the company’s CEO, wrote in a statement published to LinkedIn .

And while this generous act is certainly a big win for the great outdoors, it’s also a big public relations win for Patagonia itself.

When done correctly, charitable initiatives such as this one can go a long way in helping brands build a positive public image (one of the main goals of PR) — especially with today’s consumers. According to a study conducted by Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR, when deciding between two brands matched in quality and price, 90% of consumers supported the brand that was aligned with a charitable cause. Patagonia’s commitment to support those who support the environment is seen and appreciated by consumers and can make them more likely to choose this brand in the future.

Philanthropic efforts can also help humanize large, wealthy companies like Patagonia, especially when the cause they are supporting is relevant to the brand. Patagonia’s significant financial contribution comes at a time where there are rising concerns for the current and future health of our planet. As a company that promotes outdoor activities, worldly exploration and more, this issue directly affects their brand.

When deciding between two equally matched brands, 90% of consumers supported the brand that was aligned with a charitable cause.

Taking a stance on current issues that relate to their mission and using their platform to do good helps Patagonia position itself as a company that cares. And it also helps portray itself as having its finger on the pulse of current events and issues — another aspect often appreciated by consumers (and not to mention, something that makes organizations look good). Patagonia’s $10 million contribution was dispersed among several grassroots organizations that vary in size, scope and goals. Ultimately, this will create an impact on both a small and large scale.

Patagonia’s success can be attributed to remaining committed to their mission and being authentic in their approach to making a difference. Because the company specializes in outdoor apparel, their consumers will feel the direct impact of their contributions to creating a cleaner, healthier planet. Marcario closed her statement by writing, “In this season of giving, we are giving away this tax cut to the planet, our only home, which needs it now more than ever.”

Want to learn more about the power of good Public Relations? Download our free “Quick Look” eBook below.

Announcing the Creative Catapult Program

Announcing the Creative Catapult Program

With every graduating class, there is a new pool of talent that enters into the workforce. At Bouvier Kelly, we recognize that new talent breeds innovative thinking and inspiration for the future. We also recognize that breaking into the workforce for the first time has its challenges.

This is especially true for industries like advertising and careers in creative/design. In a sea of sharks, creative/design careers are not for the faint of heart. While larger cities may be bustling with opportunity, it’s less so with smaller cities like Greensboro.

Bouvier Kelly’s commitment to the future and the expansion in the field of advertising in this area is what inspired us to develop a comprehensive apprenticeship program for those seeking to pursue a career in creative services and design.

The Creative Catapult Apprenticeship is a six-month program specifically designed to help shape the next generation of talent into marketable employees who will have a greater chance of being valuable assets to marketing departments and advertising agencies across the industry.

“Creativity is a vital element that can make or break any business. Our mission in developing this program is to assemble a pool of reputable talent by providing a springboard for new talent to develop, network and sharpen their skill sets in a real-world marketing environment,” says Phillip Yeary, Creative Director and Partner at Bouvier Kelly.

While working within real client scenarios, the program will highlight five core areas across digital and traditional media. These elements include development in:

  • Marketing Savviness
  • Critical Thinking
  • Conceptual Problem-solving
  • Graphic Design
  • Presentation

Each candidate will receive hourly compensation and will work 18 hours per week. We will be accepting one applicant at a time. Interested candidates can email their resume and letter of intent to creativecatapult@bouvierkelly.com and we will evaluate each candidate on a case-by-case basis.

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