by Deborah Brody | August 15, 2017 11:37 am
We need your support and we will interrupt your viewing until you give us money!
This seems to be the PBS mission during its pledge drive
Currently, it’s the upteenth day during the upteenth time this year that my local PBS station, WETA, is looking for support from viewers. It may not be endless, but it sure feels like it.
Pledge month (?) is the time when the station starts playing “specials” that have been played dozens of times before, and interrupting them every fifteen minutes to ask for your support. In return, you will get any number of mugs/bags/videos/books based on the size of your contribution. Also, every other show seems to get interrupted–the Newshour, Washington Week, and most egregiously, the finale of the Great British Baking Show.
Viewers like me do not like to watch tired, old “specials.” Viewers like me hate having shows interrupted multiple times by the same talking heads giving repetitious pitches on why to give to the station. Viewers like me do not want mugs or tote bags. Viewers like me click off PBS the instant this pledge madness starts.
How can this model work today?
Here’s a newsflash for PBS: Times have changed.
Hundreds of viewing options
All TV channels are under intense competition—both for viewers and for advertising dollars. This is because viewers have many more options for entertainment than ever before: There are hundreds of cable and streaming channels, and also an internet chock-full of stuff to watch, read, react to and interact with.
It’s an on-demand world
With DVRs and/or access to content on demand, people can watch shows on whatever schedule they choose. They can ignore advertising (and pledge drives).
There’s a streaming channel for that
It used to be that you could only watch British shows like Downton Abbey or Inspector Morse on PBS. Now, you can stream them on specialized British TV/movies channels, and even watch them on Netflix.
Watch TV wherever you are, whenever you want
Smartphones and tablets can access the internet anywhere and everywhere. And users of these devices can buy/rent/download all sorts of entertainment to watch even when there is no internet access.
Interrupting viewer with a push-message is really old school
These days, inbound marketing is in favor. That’s when potential customers/supporters come to you because you are providing great content/reasons for them to interact and buy/support from you. Forcing yourself on viewers, like the pledge drive on PBS does, is the complete opposite. It assumes a static audience that does not have any option but to sit there and listen to a sales pitch. It assumes that pushing a message is the best way to get action. It’s the old way of doing things. And it may help PBS shed viewers, not gain them.
Is annoying viewers for a $60 donation the best way to keep PBS afloat?
When you are aiming for lots of small donations, you have to do a lot more work. In this case, it means interrupting viewing more times, more often. It gets annoying. It’s a turn-off. And I don’t believe it’s effective. I think it would be far more effective to concentrate on getting and retaining big, corporate or foundation sponsorships.
I understand PBS wants community support too. Perhaps instead of asking viewers to donate, PBS could emphasize obtaining a yearly membership with (real) special benefits (currently this is not clear on the PBS website). Instead of having pledge drives, PBS could include a 15-second ad/message for membership before popular shows.
What do you think? Do you watch PBS? Do you support PBS? Why or why not?
Source URL: http://deborahbrody.com/2017/08/does-pbs-get-the-support-of-viewers-like-you/
by Deborah Brody | August 8, 2017 9:07 am
The other night, I heard a loud, scratching noise in my chimney. It sounded as if an animal had gotten in. My first thought (and fear) was that a small bat was in there and it would then come into the house. Since it was close to midnight, there was nothing I could do except check the website for the local animal trapping company that I’ve see working in my neighborhood. According to Google results, their office opened at 7:00 a.m. The website listed an 800 number, and four local-area numbers. I decided to call first thing to see if they would send someone right away.
At 7:00 the next morning I called up the company. I got a message saying their offices opened at 8:00 a.m. Their Google My Business listing was wrong and their website did not list hours at all.
Sometimes companies spend more time and money on developing new marketing or on sales pitches, and they forget to check the basics. So, before you do anything else marketing-related, check your current stuff for accuracy. Do it now. Seriously.
What to check:
Where to check:
In the end, I was able to get the animal trapping company to come to my house later in the day. They checked the chimney and nothing was there (thank goodness!). They put some mesh on the chimney cap to prevent bats or birds from getting in.
This company has plenty of business around here. I’ve seen their trucks before as squirrels are constantly getting into attics (and bats are always in the belfry). They certainly have developed brand recognition. But you only call them when you need them and it is usually an urgent situation. Having multiple phone numbers and inaccurate hours is not helpful for anybody needing their services.
Any organization needs to consider what information potential users/customers/donors need to have, and then make sure that information is easily available and accurate. It just makes good marketing/communications sense.
Source URL: http://deborahbrody.com/2017/08/check-for-accuracy-stat/
by Deborah Brody | August 1, 2017 10:18 am
I was going to write a post about how Anthony Scaramucci, the shortest-lived White House Communications Director in history, embodies the problem at the core of the Trump administration’s communications failures, and then the “Mooch” got fired after 10 days on the job.
Basically, Scaramucci got fired because he failed at Communications 101. He was bound to fail also because he was not the right person for the job. He had no experience in communications, and his actions showed it. As the wrong person for the job, he got hired by a boss and an administration that don’t understand communications fundamentals.
The communications person is never the story
First, Scaramucci failed because he broke the cardinal rule for communications pros: he became the story. As anybody who has worked in public relations/communications knows, the comms person is there to help get the story out. Under no circumstances are you to become the story.
You have to know how news reporters work
Second, Scaramucci did not seem to understand that unless you explicitly state otherwise, everything you say can be quoted. If you have not said something is off the record, it’s on the record. Period. Reporters are always looking for quotes. That’s what they do.
Just because you feel that you are simpatico, does not mean you are pals hanging out at a bar
Third, Scaramucci made himself look extremely crass and stupid by using obscenities where none were needed. We all curse, but we know that in certain circumstances we don’t. Scaramucci also seems to lack imagination—and here it is—an ability to communicate, in order to convey his thoughts without resorting to obscenities.
But the larger problem is a White House that doesn’t get it
In TrumpWorld, it seems communications is all about marketing. It’s all about persuasion. And it’s not about sharing information and facts. I don’t think this country has ever seen such a fact-averse White House ever.
When you practice communications you are aiming to inform, and yes, to persuade. But persuasion is not something to be done with threats and alternative facts. As I have written before, Sean Spicer (the former communications director/press secretary) thought he was in a fight with the White House press corps. He berated them and belittled them and even refused to provide them with information they requested. He turned the cameras off for briefings, thinking that by cutting off video he would be able to control the narrative. He cherry-picked media outlets to respond to that were sympathetic to the president and would not ask any hard questions.
Communications is not a one-way street
To communicate, you must inform. You can’t simply try to force your viewpoint on everyone. We see Trump using Twitter to talk directly to the people. What you don’t see is Trump using Twitter to respond to questions from the people. To Trump, communication is a one-way street (sort of how he views loyalty too): push your message out and steamroll anyone who questions it.
Scaramucci’s failure is indicative of a much larger problem that does not seem to have a solution: a White House that does not value real communication.
Source URL: http://deborahbrody.com/2017/08/why-scaramucci-failed/
by Deborah Brody | July 27, 2017 1:58 pm
This past Saturday, Jim Vance died after being diagnosed with cancer back in May. Jim Vance was the long-time (45 years!) anchor at Washington’s NBC affiliate, WRC (channel 4). His death created a tremendous outpouring of grief, from his colleagues, and from the many people in the area who watched him on TV. You can see how NBC4 reported it here.
When I first read the news of Vance’s death on Saturday morning I was not surprised (he had announced on air he had cancer and I hadn’t seen him on the news desk in several weeks even though he had said he would work as his treatment allowed), but I was incredibly saddened. I’ve watched NBC4’s evening news for many years, and liked watching him and his anchor partner Doreen Gentzler. I liked how they interacted, how genuinely friendly they were with each other and with the other reporters. I especially remember how Vance paid tribute to Doreen when she celebrated her 25 years of sharing the anchor desk with him.
Since his death, I have come to learn more about Jim Vance. He was incredibly active in his community—speaking at high school graduations, funding scholarships, mentoring others. Many of his colleagues said he lived life to the fullest. A friend of mine told me that as a teen, he met Vance. In other words, Vance was accessible. He was not a distant celebrity, but was part and parcel of his community.
Every night on NBC4 this week, they have paid tribute to Vance. You can see how deeply they feel his loss. And what is interesting is how the community misses Vance too. What’s more, his competitors at other TV stations also paid tribute to him. The news community in DC is tightly-knit. Many reporters have worked at more than one local station. Bruce Johnson, who now anchors at the CBS affiliate, WUSA-9, had been friends with Vance. He devoted his show, Off Script, on Monday night to Jim Vance and to helping people quit smoking, an addiction which most likely caused Vance’s cancer.
Local TV news still matters. Whether you watch at 6:00 a.m. to get a read on the day’s traffic and weather, or at 11:00 p.m. to see what happened in your community, you watch the local TV news to connect to where you live. And because you probably do this habitually, you connect to the people who deliver the news to you. They also live here. They know how hot or how cold or how rainy it is, because they too had to deal with it on their way to work. Local news anchors care about traffic and construction and local crime, because it affects them personally and their families. And because they care about what is going on here, we care about them.
In this age where it seems social media dominates, it’s important to realize that people still watch TV news, and they connect with the people they see on the anchor desk.
Source URL: http://deborahbrody.com/2017/07/proof-that-local-tv-news-still-matters/
by Deborah Brody | July 18, 2017 9:27 am
This past weekend, I attended my sixth WordCamp (!). This time I only had to travel as far as Washington, D.C., which (finally) was hosting its first WordCamp. The past few times I’ve been to Baltimore and Philadelphia. In case you don’t know, WordCamp is a volunteer-led conference featuring talks and workshops on various WordPress and website/blog related issues. Since this website/blog is built on WordPress, and WordPress is also a platform for so many other websites big and small, I find it extremely useful to learn more about WordPress and attend WordCamp.
This time, I made it to about 11 presentations out of a total 60. As usual, some of the presentations were really useful and/or interesting. Although I picked up several nuggets, I had four big take-aways.
Have you ever clicked on a blog post that promised you some good information, but found out instead that the post was a sales pitch for the book/webinar/course where you could pay to access the information? I hate that and so does Tracy Schorn, who is the author of the very popular Chump Lady blog. Her main advice from “How to Build a Popular Blog and Master WordPress Even If You Are a Liberal Arts Major” is to be generous. Tracy says you should offer solutions, help people and be a resource for your readers.
Of course, Tracy works hard at her blog too. She writes a post every weekday, and answers her readers’ questions. Tracy is definitely on to something, as she is living the blogger’s dream. Her blog became so popular that she was able to write a book, get it published and then get it optioned for a TV series! Oh, and she makes money of her blog too.
Many ways to improve your SEO
John Victoria runs a SEO/digital marketing agency and his talk was “10 Reasons Why Your Site is Nowhere to be Found on Google (and what to do about it).” The answer to getting your site to be found on Google is SEO—search engine optimization. Being in the first page of Google’s organic search results is crucial if you want potential customers to find you.
Among his suggestions:
Take a step now toward enhanced website security
Websites get hacked all the time. Sometimes the hackers are trying to make money by redirecting your traffic to another site. Sometimes they are trying to spread malware. Whatever the reason, this is something you, as a website/blog owner, need to work hard to avoid. And it does take work and know-how. According to Adam Warner of SiteLock, from his talk “5 Steps to Personal and Website Security,” even taking one step helps. Some of what he recommended:
I really liked Annie Smidt’s talk “Easy Design Tips for Non Designers.” She says (and I completely agree) that design can make your site look credible, and can also help visitors like your site. We all know how important it is to make a good first impression.
Some things Annie suggested non-designers should consider:
One important tidbit I learned from Annie was how to make em-dashes on WordPress. All you have to do is use the Omega button to access special characters. I’ve already done it in this post!
You can read her slides here, and see her excellent suggestions on where to get color palette ideas.
There were dozens of other sessions on three different tracks. Some were targeted to developers and some to those who work in government or big institutions. Most of them should be available on WordPress TV.
I highly recommend attending a WordCamp in person. It’s fun, you’ll learn new stuff and great hacks, meet new people, and not to mention, you’ll get a t-shirt. For a list of upcoming WordCamps, just check WordCamp Central. There are WordCamps everywhere!
Source URL: http://deborahbrody.com/2017/07/4-lessons-from-wordcamp-dc-that-will-improve-your-website/
by Deborah Brody | July 13, 2017 4:27 pm
A couple of months ago, I found out that Kramerbooks, an independent bookstore in Washington, had started doing book events. After checking their events website, I saw an author I wanted to see (Derek Thompson, author of Hitmakers). I went to the Thompson event, which took place in Kramerbook’s new and pretty tight “event” space, with enough seating for about 20 or so, and standing space for about 20 or so more. I thought Thompson was very interesting, and I actually went home and got his book from the library (and I will be sharing thoughts on it in a future blog post).
Based on my positive experience, I kept tabs on the Kramerbook’s online event calendar. Soon, there was another event I wanted to attend. It was three journalists who cover the White House (and being a politics and news junkie, this was totally up my alley). So I put it in my calendar. In the back of my mind I thought this would be a very crowded event, this being DC and the space being so small. Well, I took the Metro from Rockville, and got there around 5:20. Even though the event wasn’t scheduled to start until 6:30p.m., there was a line around the block. It was very hot, and based on the space constraints, I knew I wouldn’t get in, so I decided not to stand in line for an hour in the sun and heat.
It costs $6 to ride Metro from where I live to Dupont Circle, where Kramerbooks is. I basically wasted $12 and well over an hour. I was not happy.
The next day, I noticed that Kramerbooks had tweeted about a livestream. I tweeted back that had I known I would have skipped going down there. I got back a reply that they tweeted it, and put it on Facebook and Instagram, and they were sorry (more like sorry, not sorry) that I hadn’t seen it. I asked why they hadn’t included this information on their event page. And I got no response back.
Based on this experience, I may never attend try to attend an event at Kramerbooks again. Transportation is just too costly and time-consuming, and getting a seat is too much of a crapshoot. I also didn’t care for their social media response. A much better response to empathize and then to send me a link to the recording of the event.
Events can be great marketing tools. In this case, Kramer’s gets people in the door, and hopefully, checking out their book selection or eating at their restaurant. Events can also generate publicity. But when done poorly, events can have a negative effect.
There’s another independent bookstore in Washington, Politics and Prose, which has been holding author events for years. They have an event nearly every single day, mostly free and in their bookstore (which has way more space than Kramerbooks). When they have a big author or an event likely to draw large crowds, they sell tickets and hold the events at Sixth and I (a synagogue and event space in D.C.), which can seat hundreds. This tactic has made Politics and Prose a leader in author and literary events, and probably also has generated considerable book sales.
The difference between these two bookstores and their event marketing strategies is stark. One has the experience to understand that some talks require larger spaces, and have partnered with another organization to address the need while also generating ticket and book sales. The other is still learning what to do with their space.
Have you ever attended an event that ended up being terrible? What made it so and what were the consequences for you? Let me know in the comments.
Source URL: http://deborahbrody.com/2017/07/events-can-be-great-marketing-or-not/
by Deborah Brody | June 28, 2017 1:30 pm
At a communications event last week, the three panelists were asked what communications channel they felt was overrated. The answer that stood out to me the most was the panelist who said she just wanted to see the corporate blog die already because, in her opinion, nobody visits/reads corporate blogs.
I disagree. Here are a few reasons why:
The corporate/organizational blog is an integral part of any content marketing strategy.
It’s owned media that can help with your SEO, though leadership, lead generation and so much more.
For smaller organizations, blogs are an easy way to add fresh content regularly.
Blogs are flexible and media friendly–you can post images, graphics, video, audio and/or text.
Regularly updated blogs serve as a clue to your website visitors that your website (and your organization) is current.
Blog posts are a great opportunity to respond to current events/situations/policies in a timely manner, and in more depth that on other social media outlets.
Organizational blogs serve a purpose, when done thoughtfully and strategically. But far too many organizations don’t consider what they wish to achieve with the blog that they feel they must have.
So yes, corporate blogs without a strategy or purpose behind them should die. But they can and should be resurrected to achieve one of the many things I have pointed out above. What do you think? What’s your experience with corporate/organizational blogs? When do you read them?
Source URL: http://deborahbrody.com/2017/06/is-it-time-for-the-corporate-blog-to-die/
by Deborah Brody | June 23, 2017 10:50 am
In the past several weeks, I’ve noticed a bunch of small communications issues with different organizations. None of them is big enough to merit a blog post, but they do cause bigger communications problems.
Making it extra hard to reach you
I met a graphic designer at an event a couple of weeks ago. I sent her a follow up email, and got an automated reply back from her email service telling me it didn’t recognize me and I would have to reply to the reply, so that I could be whitelisted. I’ve never seen that before, and I get why she does it. We are all bombarded by spam and other unsolicited email. But when you add an extra step to contacting you, especially when you’ve given me your personal email on a card, you are creating an obstacle to communication and slowing down any potential business. You have to balance accessibility with the desire for less email. I think if you are a business, you must be accessible.
Not including crucial information
The other day I visited microsite for an upcoming conference. It did not list the venue where the conference would be taking place, just the city and state. I’ve seen some conference websites that don’t list the full date of the conference. And many don’t list the price, but force you to hit the register button to find out how much it costs. If you are considering attending any event, you need certain information–where, when, how much and why. If your event page or site does not include crucial information, you are just making it hard for people to decide to attend your event.
Email from unknown senders
The other day I got an email from someone named Orlando. My first instinct was to delete, but something about the headline made me open it. It turns out that Orlando is a new employee at an organization from which I get a newsletter. And it was an organizational newsletter. I will never understand why organizations think it’s a good idea to send email from individuals rather than the organization. Unless you’re well known already, most people will not recognize you as the new CEO or communications director of an organization.
If your organization recently rebranded or changed its name, you may have to send an initial email from your old name. Last year, I received an email from an organization I had never heard of and I was on the brink of hitting delete. It was communications related, so I figured I must have met someone from that organization at some point, but I wasn’t sure. It turns out that it was a new name for an old organization.
Opening external links in the same window
For the life of me, I don’t understand why so many organizations want to lose visitors to their websites. And yet, it happens more often than not than when you click on a link, such as the Twitter feed or LinkedIn profile, you are transported out of the organization’s website to the other website. It doesn’t take too much coding knowledge to have links open in new windows. That way, visitors can still be on your site and view the outside site.
Remember user experience, always.
All of these issues point to one overarching theme: user experience. What do users (visitors to your website, potential customers, potential supporters) experience when they interact with your communications? Are you considering what users need in order to do business with you? As the small issues I described above show, many organizations are not considering their users at all. And that’s a big communications problem.
Source URL: http://deborahbrody.com/2017/06/small-issues-bigger-communications-problems/
by Deborah Brody | June 13, 2017 10:45 am
At an event last week, I met the owner of a local pizza shop. This pizza shop, which opened about a year ago, is located near me, and seems pretty busy, especially on weekends. I asked him how it’s doing. The pizza shop owner immediately said it was doing poorly, and he said the parking situation was to blame. That seemed strange to me since there’s plenty of garage parking, which, with validation, is free for two hours. He told me that it doesn’t matter, because psychologically, people don’t like to pay for parking. And here’s a direct quote from him: “I have friends who can spend $500 on dinner but they won’t pay for parking.”
OK. I am sure there are people who avoid going places where they have to pay for parking. But I also don’t think free parking with validation, and a couple bucks an hour after is the one reason people will avoid going out to dinner.
I have been thinking about this situation for a few days, and I have concluded that this shop owner is looking for an easy excuse for what may be poor business and marketing decisions on his part.
Here are three possible mistakes he has made:
Not scouting or researching the location carefully enough. This particular location has several other restaurants, and the parking situation has not changed in several years. He could have asked the other restaurants if they felt the parking was a challenge. He could have determined how many people walk or take public transportation to get here and how many people drive, and from where. He could have checked out if people complain about parking.
Biting off more than he can chew. This particular restaurant took over two spaces (one had been a restaurant and the other a shoe store). It is a very large place with both indoor and outdoor seating. Perhaps the space is too big with a rent that is too high to support the amount of people that will eat out here.
Not doing enough marketing (and marketing poorly). When the place opened, I joined the Facebook page for it. It seems that they are doing a few things to entice the community, like a trivia night and a pet adoption event. Now, I am not sure how having a pet adoption event at a restaurant is even a legal idea, and at best is a bit strange idea that may attract pet lovers. I have seen little to promote events in the community and very little creativity. Also, and I kid not, the sponsored Facebook ads promote their top sirloin beef burgers. This is a pizza joint and they should focus on their area of expertise. If you want a burger while everyone else wants pizza, it’s good they have alternatives for you. But if you want a really great burger, you are not going to a pizza restaurant for it.
Perhaps this pizza place owner’s gut told him that parking is the real issue. But a gut feeling does not mean that it’s the correct reason to explain a situation. If he truly wants to improve his situation, he’d commission market research and/or hire a restaurant marketing consultant. He needs facts and actions rather than the feeling that parking, something that will not change and he cannot control, is hurting his business.
What do you think? Does it all amount to parking or may there be other reasons?
Source URL: http://deborahbrody.com/2017/06/you-need-more-than-a-gut-feeling/
by Deborah Brody | June 6, 2017 4:53 pm
Yesterday, a friend and I met to have lunch at a new pupusa place in Bethesda that we’d read about. (In case you don’t know, pupusas are an absolutely delicious Salvadoran specialty of stuffed thick corn tortillas that are griddled.)
When the pupusa place first opened, it was covered in Bethesda Magazine online (I don’t know if it was in the print version). The article stated that the pupusa place was sharing the kitchen with a Japanese restaurant. I assumed it was next door to the Japanese restaurant, but it turns out that it is not separate at all.
I looked up the address online, and set out. Once I got to the block the restaurant was supposed to be on, I walked up and down the street not seeing sign for it anywhere. I noticed a Japanese place, but there was no indication that they served pupusas there. I called the number listed on the pupusa place’s Facebook page. I said I was on their street but couldn’t find them. The guy who answered told me he was INSIDE the Japanese restaurant, and that they normally only do take out, but that we could sit inside the restaurant.
My friend and I went in, and told the hostess that we wanted to eat pupusas. She told us that it was take out only, but when I told her I had spoken to the pupusa guy and he’d told me we could sit inside, she let us sit in the bar area, and even took our order.
When the pupusas came out, the waitress realized we needed forks and knives since it’s kind of hard to eat stuffed tortillas with chopsticks. It took her another few minutes to reappear with forks for us.
Even with all the hoops to jump through, these pupusas were absolutely delicious, and we both really enjoyed our lunch. We decided that the next time we’d call it in as a takeout order, that is, if this place manages to stay in business.
This pupusa place faces many marketing challenges that are related to its business decision to be inside of a Japanese restaurant. Here are the top issues:
I am not sure how this place can surmount these difficulties. An article in Bethesda Magazine, and one Yelp review are not sufficient publicity. This place has to rely on word of mouth and even more, on people specifically searching for pupusas in Bethesda.
I’d recommend that the “restaurant” seek out it’s own space, even if only a food truck. Failing that, I would recommend it figure out a way of having a sign and a menu available within the Japanese restaurant. And definitely make it perfectly clear on its Facebook page that it’s take out only.
Source URL: http://deborahbrody.com/2017/06/are-you-making-the-best-business-decisions-for-your-marketing/
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