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August 18, 2019

Out of the Box Marketing Campaigns that Worked – Round 2 – Let’s get Vampy!

For all of you Truebies (True Blood fans) out there, let us send our condolences for the end of an era of sexy vampires, southern accents and lots of sweating in the bayou. #TruetotheEnd However, even though HBO’s True Blood has said farewell, the marketing campaign reigns supreme as one of the best in television.

season-3-poster-get-your-fill

It was carefully crafted, designed and implemented over the seven year run of the series. Before the series premiered, HBO built intrigue through creative advertising by treating the True Blood environment as factual.  The series targeted horror bloggers before the launch of the show and sent them packages containing fake blood samples accompanied by cryptic messages and a link to a website supposedly designed to connect real life vampires.

These carefully targeted packages set the internet ablaze. But the ingenious campaign continued with well-placed missing posters, billboards for the synthetic blood consumed in the show, and even advertisements that featured pop off stakes to defend against vampires. Every piece of collateral was designed with precise branding in mind.

true blood stake

But the creative marketing didn’t end once the show got off the ground. Future advertisements featured simplistic design with fun, tongue-in-cheek tag lines. They were creative, stylish and dare we say it…whimsical. HBO even turned a fountain blood red in Romania to announce one season.

True-Blood-Romanian-Fountain-1

The universe was further immersive with an active online presence that included a blog for newly turned vampires, websites supposedly run by pro and anti-vampire organizations and early adoption of Instagram and Tumblr. They filled our world with creative hashtags like #makersday (a maker is someone who turns you into a vampire) and #waitingsucks.

Website for Fellowship of the Sun, an anti-vampire organization in the series.

Website for Fellowship of the Sun, an anti-vampire organization in the series.

Their creative stride never waned, and even the final season’s ads were focused on the fans and establishing a total package that supported the True Blood world. It’s a marketing campaign for the ages, and in the words of True Blood’s marketers, “Goodbyes Suck.”

Check us out in a few weeks for the third installment in our series, where we’ll learn the value of a dollar.

The Black Magic of Facebook’s Organic Reach Algorithm

Guest post by Jordan Garegnani, Project Manager and Online Community Manager

facebook-edgerankNotice how your Facebook posts are being shown to fewer and fewer of your followers? Yeah, we have too.

That has to do with a few things – including the new Organic Reach Algorithm. First off, before we get too detailed, let’s define the difference between organic and paid reach.

Organic Reach: How many people see your posts for free (chronologically, and/or shared with their friends)
Paid Reach: How many people see your posts based on your paid advertising

As marketers, we like getting the most bang for our buck and aim for high organic reach in our social media endeavors – it gives the most value to our customers. That’s why we were disappointed to find out that times they are a-changin’. Paid reach is now the only way to ensure followers see important information.

Facebook, according to their blog, says there are 2 main reasons for the decline of Organic Reach.

1. More and more content is being pushed into the same amount of digital space. More people and brands are joining Facebook every day and people like 50% more brand pages this year than last. Also, with the convenience of mobile and scheduled posting, those brands are posting more content. That’s a lot of competition and viewers can’t possibly see every single post by their friends or the brands they follow. This one is just a bummer, but fair enough – it’s a big wide world out there and may the best content win!

“Even if Facebook left the news feed code as it stood right now, organic reach was already on the decline. Social@Ogilvy tracked the drop earlier this year, from 16% of followers engaging with a brand page post in 2012, to 6% in February 2014 for smaller pages and just 2% for pages with over 500,000 followers.” – Ewan Spence, Forbes

The second reason is more of a bummer – I mean it’s hard enough to reach followers as it is. (see above)

2. Facebook adjusted the reach algorithm to decide which 300 stories of around 1500 potential stories will show up in followers’ news feeds. That’s a one-in-five chance your post will be seen by any given follower.  These changes are strategized to show people content that is relevant/interesting to your followers (based on individual Facebook interactions). Their goal with this is to reduce low-quality posts and spam, so marketers, even more so now, have to put out good content just to be seen by current followers.

“Organic content still has value on Facebook, and Pages that publish great content — content that teaches people something, entertains them, makes them think, or in some other way adds value to their lives — can still reach people in News Feed.” – Brian Boland, Facebook

TechCrunch has a good visual way of explaining the mythical Facebook algorithm.

facebook-news-feed-edgerank-algorithm

Facebook’s Conclusion: Curating the newsfeed and feed “health” is the goal. Clearly this makes sense if Facebook wants to stick around long-term. If people aren’t interested in reading what’s on their newsfeed, they won’t use Facebook and there goes another digital marketing channel. (RIP Myspace)

To air a bit of grievance, we do feel justified in this statement in TechCrunch:

“What was truly disingenuous was that Facebook told companies to buy Likes as a long-term investment, when it likely could already see or at least predict that reach to those fans would decline, devaluing the investment. It’s like telling someone to save their money in a time of rapid inflation.”  – Josh Constine, TechCrunch 

1351612838_2844_facebook2Our conclusion: Creating meaningful interactions with true “brand ambassadors” will soon be the only free way to spread your content around. Your followers just became even more valuable – they will help decide how far your content goes, improve auction price for your ads and lend your brand credibility as brand advocates.  It does seem as though Facebook is taking a stance of “for the greater good” while being unapologetic to brands on their platform. But we’ve come this far, looks like we’re along for the ride!

How to Successfully & Legally Promote Alcohol-Related Events

Guest Blog by Melanie Ford, MPR Intern

HappyHourHappy hour promotion can sometimes be a gray area for marketers – especially when you have clients in different states like Myers PR does. Of course every firm wants to promote the “fun, cool, hip” activities of their clients, but this gray area has complicated and varying regulation laws nationwide which we recommend you pay attention to.

So, what is considered an acceptable promotion for a client’s happy hour, bar crawl, or event with alcoholic beverage sales?

1. Research the agency that regulates alcohol retail and advertising within your country, state, and region

Control States

Laws vary on each of these three geographic levels. Within the United States, the passage of the Twenty-first Amendment in December 1933 put alcohol regulation into the hands of state legislature. Today, there are 18 “control states” in which the state government has varying degrees of monopoly on alcohol sales and advertisement while the other 32 states operate via private licensing systems.

Maryland, for example, has four counties – Montgomery, Somerset, Wicomico, and Worchester – whose alcohol sales are county alcohol-controlled.Virginia and Maryland are both control states, while DC is not. However, just to make things fun, laws and regulations, even among control states, are not standardized.

The 18 control states are listed on the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association website which is the best place to start for information on alcohol regulations within your state.

MD-VA-DC Alcohol Regulation-RGB

2. Find out what types of promotions and promotional phrasing are acceptable for the event

As of January 29, 2014, Virginia restaurants and bars can legally advertise in all media forms (social, print, and broadcast) using the phrase “happy hour” and “drink specials” and the event time span.

IMG_6123Be careful though! Advertisements cannot mention specific happy hour drink types, happy hour beverage prices, or the word “discounted.” The cost and type of alcoholic beverage may only be advertised if it is the same price regardless of the time of day. If an exact amount of alcohol is specified, food and alcohol drink package pairings may be promoted.

Happy hours that last past 9 p.m., 2-for-1 drink specials, and offers for unlimited alcoholic beverages are also not legal in Virginia. Be sure to check out these current regulation examples from VA ABC for acceptable promotion ideas.

VA ABC began its regulatory review in 2011 and received approval from the McDonnell administration on its proposed changes in December 2013. “The process involved gathering recommendations from the public, alcohol industry representatives, restaurant owners and other key stakeholders, and was focused on public safety and business-friendly decisions,” former ABC Chief Operating Officer Curtis Coleburn said in a January 2014 news release.

As far as alcohol-related advertising goes, Virginia has come a long way. Prior to 2009, Virginia restaurants could not promote happy hour drink specials. In 2009, vendors were only allowed to advertise drink specials inside their establishment or on a 17-by-22-inch window sign with limited phrasing allowances. Virginia’s ban on advertising drink specials dates to the 1980s and is due to concerns about drunken driving.

Washington D.C. and Maryland don’t have laws specifically preventing the advertisement of happy hours online or on social media – which makes things much easier on those of us promoting the specials.

3. Remember, different platforms all have their own policies regarding alcohol

Social-Media-SitesAs a general rule, happy hour promotions should never target an audience or region outside of the permitted area. For example, if you want to advertise a Maryland happy hour event via Facebook ad, do not target a Virginia region or audience unless you know that the phrasing of your ad aligns with both state’s laws. It goes without saying, but just to cover all our bases: never target an audience below the legal drinking age. Same policy goes for print publications.

Google allows “brand or informational advertising for alcoholic beverages in the US” as well as “advertising for the online sale of alcoholic beverage.” For more information, see their AdWords policy page.

Twitter’s policy states: “The promotion of offline sale of alcohol and general awareness of alcohol brands is permitted in the US.”

Print publications each have their own advertising policy that should be reviewed prior to purchasing any ad spots as well.

4. Lastly, keep public safety a top priority

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While some ABC laws may seem overly strict, ABC has said in the past that excessive alcohol consumption, fatalities, and the targeting of underage drinking are the main concerns surrounding happy hour advertising. The reality of these problems should not be overlooked when it comes to event or product promotion.

Promote responsibly and ensure that the event has proper security, licensing, and transportation options before advertising.At Myers, many of our client events are metro accessible, so when advertising for these events, we encourage the use of public transit, carpooling, and cabs.

While there are hoops and loopholes to be navigated in promoting alcohol-related events, knowing what regulations you have to work with is the best way to stay ahead of the game. And to celebrate ABC as it reaches its 80th anniversary in the same year the new Virginia state legislature regarding happy hour advertising took effect, “Cheers to 80 years!”

The Importance of Social Media in Public Relations

Guest Blog by Camille McClane

 

Public relations, like all other types of communication, needs a medium.

For many years the media was simple: Word of mouth, the newspaper, phone calls and the occasional public forum. Not only has social media upended those platforms, but they now depend heavily on social media for their distribution.

Additionally, the use of social media as a PR tool is far more complex and effective than previous systems.

The connectedness and the speed with which the Internet makes information available has given those who work in PR far more platforms and methods by which to reach their target audience and the public at large.

Now the task is to understand which mediums to target and how to effectively use them.

pr keyboard

Image Courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Understanding Where Your Target Audience Hangs Out

Social media has grown to the point where there are more than just a few options available, with each platform having its own strengths and weaknesses that a smart PR representative will know how to optimize.

Twitter and Facebook are still primary, covering a broad range of people and age groups.

But if you can narrow down your target audience, you might want to consider targeting different social media platform based on the following factors:

  • The age range of your audience.
  • The shared interests of your audience.
  • Where your audience spends the bulk of their time online.

A lot of this will depend on what you know about the people you’re trying to target; so it stands to reason that the more you know and the better you understand them, the more productive and efficient you can be in terms of which social media accounts to use.

SM user ages

Image Courtesy of http://optimiseblog.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/ukstats3-550×507.png

When You Should and Should Not Use Certain Platforms

For example, if you’re targeting middle aged folks in the business community, LinkedIn might be a better focus than Google+. At the same time, if you’re targeting a female audience primarily in their 20s and 30s, Pinterest might be a better choice.

You simply can’t target all of the social media platforms in existence. There are just too many of them, so you’re way better off figuring out which demographic you’re targeting and communicate with that audience on their preferred platform.

Besides, you wouldn’t want to target all social media platforms if you have a specific audience in mind, because as the graphs show us, different people tend to congregate within different platforms.

It may take time to narrow down your targeted audience, but in the long run it will make your marketing more effective.

What Platform for What Brand?

If you’re working for a particular brand, you need to be aware of not only an optimal platform choice, but also be ready and able to choose the correct tools within each platform.

For example, do you need to use Facebook ads or simply status updates on a fan page? How about StumbleUpon campaigns or conventional curating?

http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/campalyst-infographic-facebook.png

http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/campalyst-infographic-facebook.png

A more obvious way to answer that question is whether or not the company you’re doing PR for (yours or someone else’s) has money in the budget to spend on advertising and social media. If not, then ads quickly become a poor suggestion, but this is something that needs to be established up front so you know your options.

Determining if a particular brand can utilize a platform should consider the following:

  • Does the brand have a preexisting, established presence on certain social media accounts?
  • Does the company intend to spend money on the campaign?
  • Where does the brand’s typical audience tend to congregate?
  • The brand’s reputation (Organic business methods, personal, known for their blog, etc.).

The Importance of Strategy

PR campaigns certainly involve an element of luck, but a good campaign manager knows how to plan, strategize and set themselves up to have the best luck possible. Make sure that you don’t leave things to chance but take the time to understand the basics of your brand and target audience, in order to roll out the optimal social media PR strategy.

camilleCamille McClane is a content creator and marketer who enjoys blogging in her spare time. She particularly enjoys writing about social media, infographic design and online marketing.

 

Where PR and Technology Meet

picture-9There is no question that technology has changed the PR and marketing industry. Over the past twenty or so years, we’ve seen the emergence of email (does anyone remember snail mailing photos and slides with your press releases?), websites, social media, smart phones and mobile apps. We are dispersing and receiving information on multiple platforms like layers of an onion.

Many firms are diverting more of their budgets to content marketing, and the PR industry is perfectly poised for this method. The bread and butter of public relations is earned media. Earned media is content driven and traditional marketing activities do still work – in newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, direct mail and networking – for the widest possible reach to all demographics.

Social media is not a replacement for traditional marketing tactics, however it is a critical component of an effective marketing strategy. In fact, social media works best when combined with other marketing activities. Using your traditional media to direct listeners, readers and viewers to digital marketing platforms like a blog or a Facebook page is an effective way to deliver content. You then have the challenge of engaging that audience and developing your online community.

Next up: Know your online community. Where are they? How do they want to be reached? – stay tuned!

Making Social Work for Your Website

Guest Blog by David Cavalieri

text bubbles from computerAn online presence is a permanent, expected fixture of a reputable brand and the power of a robust website must not be overlooked. The virtual side of the organization defines the direction, atmosphere, and foundation and enables it to flourish. With the integration of well-developed content, appropriate social networks, and the cross-pollination of ideas by captivated users your virtual presence will magnify and differentiate your brand.

The Website:

It’s a requirement in today’s business world and acts as the quintessential indicator of an accomplished and well-polished organization. However, aesthetics are only skin deep and the message and content portrayed must match the company’s model, style, and culture. Pretending to be someone you are not will only create angst amongst your clients while return business and referrals will suffer. Describe who you are – are you corporate; powerful, yet friendly; inviting; or just downright spunky? Let the world know! People today have increasingly shorter attention spans than in years past and never-ending streams of text might as well be showing them the door – well, at least a revolving door. Be concise with your ideas and get ready for an entirely social world.

social funnel

Getting Social:

Social media, though extremely important to many, isn’t appropriate for all companies and marketing techniques. Determining its role in your company is a vital step in planning your digital presence (the nitty gritty of which will be coming in a future blog, so stay tuned!). So whichever platforms you choose for your business, at the end of the day you need to find a way to tie all of this back in to the website you just gave your sweat and tears to.

The Blending of Ideas:

The goal of marketing is not only to garner the most fans and popularity, but also to keep customers involved and repeatedly coming through the door. Many social platforms have widgets and pieces of code (check in with your web developer if you need to!) to embed into your website and add ways to “Like” your profile or individual pages of your website directly, share the most recent Tweet in a live feed, or present your latest board’s pins as a photo gallery. Comments flow from one platform to the next, content is shared from the most dedicated of fans, and that revolving door will simply become an open door.

Blend the line between website and social media, be creative whenever possible, find a way for users to seamlessly use your website and interact with your social platforms. Comments, ideas, and creativity will flourish and the customers themselves will boost the greatest marketing tactic of them all – the word of mouth.