Friday, August 29, 2008

Diplomacy Goes Digital

The US State Department is embracing social media in an impressive way.

Its 'Dipnote' initiative offers a range of internet resources - videos, images, blogs, RSS feeds, podcasts etc - to inform the public about US diplomacy. The Dipnote blog is written by two State Department officers, one of whom travels with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Importantly 'Dipnote' allows people to have their say on world issues. For example a recent blogpost on the international community's role in the Russian- Georgian conflict drew 73 comments.

The new State Department internet site is in strong contrast with its Australian and New Zealand counterparts. Their websites continue to be mostly text based with little scope for public interaction.

Canberra's First Word of Mouth Marketing Workshop

On 30 August we're running Canberra's first word of mouth marketing workshop for not for profits.

We have been steadily watching the rise and rise of word of mouth marketing in recent times and we tip it will become even more important in future. The reasons are simple:
  • After 50 plus years of day in day out marketing, people are weary and leery of advertising. For example when was the last time you saw, read or heard an ad that you can recall with any kind of accuracy? And more importantly when was the last time an ad motivated you to go out and buy something?
  • Word of mouth marketing is genuine communications. It is about people sharing information, experiences and feelings. We all have an innate desire to share good news with family, friends and workmates and warn them away from negative issues or bad products. Word of mouth is our information passed within our circle at our pace. And it removes the the middle men from our communications.
  • Digital media has made it possible to carry word of mouth endorsements and opinions to mass audiences and to individuals fast and cheap.
Our workshop is geared for not for profit organisations and it's already over-subscribed with representatives from 10 organisations attending.

It will be a good way to share experiences and explore how community groups can use this increasingly important marketing medium to advance their causes.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

'Every Day Can't Be A Crisis'

Why is it some communicators are always in a 'flap' and everyday is a crisis?

PR people tend to be high energy individuals but really some of us do take things a little too far.

We live increasingly busy lives but sometimes we all need to smell the flowers. That's why I found a recent article in Tactics, the monthly newsletter of the Public Relations Society of America, so refreshing.

In the one page article Michigan-based PR professional, Rick Chambers, reminds us that 'every day can't be a crisis'. And among his uncommon common sense, Rick notes that:
  • Although we can prepare for the PR challenges ahead, we can't prepare for every one of them. At some point we need to realise that "things will take care of themselves".
  • In our profession sometimes it's all too easy to focus on the downside. After all we are the people who invented crisis management. Yet we, and many of colleagues, often do great work and we need to proclaim and celebrate that effort.
  • We should put a human face on the organisations we work for. They are more than logos, brands, policies and outcomes. At the end of the day our companies and agencies are collections of people and our job is to represent those people as best we can.
  • Be aware of what you can and can't do. Take personal pride in the things you can achieve but realise the things you cannot do. For the sake of your health and sanity, learn to let go when the time is right.
  • Live in the here and now... despite the urgency of our daily challenges, we are living life now and it's not a dress rehearsal for something else.
I know some communicators who, if the world ended tomorrow, would still have three days work to do post-Apocalypse. It's sad to think they are more committed to their tasks than their time with themselves and others.

Well done Rick Chambers for helping put a perspective to our professional urgencies.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Improve your PR Writing

A recent edition of the Canadian podcast Inside PR contains useful tips on how to improve your PR writing. Scroll down and listen to Inside PR #122 of Wednesday 30 July 2008.

The Model Spokesperson

The value of good spokespersons is hard to estimate.

So we noted with interest the Pentagon has developed a new model spokesperson. See the video and tell us what you think.

video

PR in the Service of the Public

Leanne Glenny from the University of South Australia is completing a PhD on public sector communication and public relations ethics.

Recently Leanne addressed a an IABC Canberra audience (mainly Australian Public Service communications professionals) on her work and the extensive research behind it.

Leanne has met with public servants, journalists and advocacy groups and analysed three government communications case studies in detail. And while her work is yet to be completed it is throwing up interesting insights including:
  • Government communication is often viewed as something the government ‘does’ to people rather than an exchange of information.
  • There is no single model for government communications ... rather approaches and strategies continually change as personalities and politics dictate the communications mix.
  • Public servants who are not communicators tend to see PR mainly in media terms and as ways to push information out to persuade.
  • On the other hand, public sector communicators are often looking for a broader and richer engagement with their audiences.
She suggests public sector management needs a more detailed understanding and acceptance of PR principles and communications ethics, rather than view PR merely as a technical tool.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Marketing Challenges for Not For Profits

From time to time we do work for social services and community groups. So a recently released US report on not for profit marketing caught our eye.

The State of Nonprofit Marketing: A Report On Priorities, Spending, Measurement and The Challenges Ahead, produced by Lipman Hearne and the American Marketing Association (AMA), contains fascinating insights. Australian not for profits will recognise many similarities in the American findings.
  • Building awareness, generating revenue, branding and acquiring and keeping members were key marketing objectives for US not for profits.
  • Public relations, community relations and customer and member relations are considered the most effective strategies to build awareness and visibility.
  • “Being mentioned in the media is priceless, because it gains nonprofit organizations attention as well as third-party endorsement of their work."
  • Word of mouth marketing is important for donors, government agencies and other key audiences. The Report notes these groups need specific evidence from not for profits on how they are making an impact.
It seems that US not for profits find measuring their marketing efforts a tough ask:
  • The most measured marketing activity is events followed by revenue raising.
  • But evaluating the effectiveness of websites, media coverage and print advertising is not particularly well handled.
42% of organisations surveyed had only one person doing their marketing and even then the marketing area often shares responsibilities with other parts of the organisation.

And the biggest future challenges for US not for profits?
  • Building awareness/visibility.
  • Revenue generation.
  • Positioning/branding.
Sound familiar? And not just for community sector. We think many businesses would recognise these challenges.

Consulting Communities

Recently we have been helping out a client with community consultations in regional Australia on a major environmental issue. People were asked their views on future investment priorities.

We were both surprised and delighted with the response.
  • A six question survey was sent to around 1700 people. And over 520 were returned. A great result for a mail-out survey.
  • Consultation forums in six regional areas were all well attended.
  • Contributions at these forums were considered, articulate and positive.
The take-out: People are deeply interested in environmental issues and, when asked, only too willing to come forward with constructive ideas.