Author Archives: Erin Donahue
In a move that stunned just about everyone, Beyoncé surprised us last Friday with the (unanticipated) release of her fifth studio album, “Beyoncé” – announced in a video posted to Instagram. Free from the typical publicity machine surrounding new albums, “Beyoncé” seemed to come from the ether, straight from its star to her fans and complete with 14 songs and 17 accompanying videos. The beauty (and irony) of this unconventional “anti-PR” play is the PR success it became in only a matter of hours.
Claiming she’s “bored” with the usual processes and that “there’s so much that gets between the music, the artist and the fans,” Bey uses a longer mini-documentary style video on her Facebook page to talk directly to supporters about her vision for the album. This genius approach is of course its own new PR strategy in and of itself, proving that immediacy and authenticity win the day in our “always-on” world. The numbers seem to agree. The album sparked 1.2 million tweets in the first 12 hours with influencers like Katy Perry weighing in: “Don’t talk to me today unless it’s about @Beyoncé THANX.” The team at DGC seems to agree too; we had listened to all 14 tracks twice by 11 a.m. on Friday (and an encore performance during Wine-O Friday later that day).
So what can brands take away from Beyoncé’s PR homerun?
- Be Real. By telling fans about the project directly in a video, showcasing home video footage and releasing all songs and videos in one fell swoop, Beyoncé sends the message that – even though she’s been a global pop sensation since her teen years – she’s still the everywoman. Just like you, she remembers the first time she saw MJ’s Thriller video. Just like you, she made goofy home movies with her besties. And just like you, she uses social media as her primary form of communication these days. Brands should take note; we live in an age of authenticity and consumers demand transparency.
- Give ‘em something to talk about. By not talking about the album via countless blogs and talk show interviews, Beyoncé balked the unconventional and gave people more to talk about. Successful brands keep people coming back by constantly giving their customers something new, something fresh. Something unexpected.
- Embrace multi-media. Beyoncé’s idea to create an album that goes beyond audio and includes a complementary visual experience is spot on. Not only does it position Beyoncé as a true artist — someone capable of creating a fully-baked concept — it gives fans more media elements to share, like and tweet. Content isn’t exactly a novel idea, but it’s important that the content entertains, enlightens or informs.
Yesterday we attended OMMA Global, which happens in New York concurrently with Advertising Week and IAB Mixx. Zain Raj, CEO of Hyper Marketing Inc. gave a keynote speech to a packed room during the OMMA Response track: From ROI to ROE: Winning Customers Takes More than a Marketing Plan.
As Zain explained, marketing plans have always been about maximizing ROI—how much to spend and where to spend it. In the last five years, though, integrated marketing as it applies to digital and direct response has become a veritable Rubik’s Cube of media scenarios and almost as difficult to solve. To win customers, marketers need to understand how to gain ROE–Return on Experience, Engagement, and Equity in their advertising.
We caught up with Zain after his speech and discussed with him the differences between ROI and ROE:
Zain also argues that one of the first steps in achieving ROE is knowing how to establish your product or service as a brand ritual for your customers. In this video, he uses John Deere hats as an example of delivering “Return on Experience.”
Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with Eulogy!, our sister agency in London. Fresh off our partnership announcement, it provided the perfect opportunity to learn firsthand about the company and discuss the innovative ways in which we plan to work together in the months ahead.
Upon reaching Eulogy!’s offices in West London, I was greeted by Mark Barber, Director of Business Development, with a giant hug and tons of enthusiasm. As he took me on a brief tour of E!’s offices, I was immediately struck by the similarities between our two offices. DGC and E! both have open-floor plans, complemented by a few cozy nooks and conference rooms designed for brainstorms and meetings. Along the way, Mark pointed out the heaps of press they have garnered for themselves and for their clients—I love how proud they are of their work.
The next stop on my tour was CEO Adrian Brady’s office. Adrian couldn’t have been nicer or more welcoming. We chatted about his days living in Chicago (like me), overlaps and opportunities to cross-pollinate our clients, and his excitement about our new partnership. Again, I was reminded of our similarities.
An entrepreneur at heart, Adrian started Eulogy! in 1996, with Marketing Magazine recognizing it as one of the country’s fastest growing PR agencies in the late ‘90s. Industry awards success has included recognition from the prestigious PR Week, Business to Business Campaign of the Year and the International Public Relations Association Golden World accolade, as well as being voted one of the Top 40 independent PR agencies by PR Week.
Over the next few hours, Mark and I spent time brainstorming innovative ways to combine our business development efforts and–most importantly–learn from one another. E! has been around about twice as long as DGC, and has a very evolved consumer practice, something DGC is also making great inroads with.
One of the highlights of my day was lunch. Mark and Issie (Team MEC) were kind enough to pause their busy days and take me to lunch at Black and Blue–a real London power-lunch scene.
In true European fashion, we toasted with a glass of wine and lingered over cappuccinos before heading back to the office. I hope to one day host the two of them in New York City.
The afternoon was a blur as Mark set up a work station for me and I touched base with DGC on a few client deliverables. I could get used to a cross-borders career! As the day wound down, the E! team gathered for their weekly staff meeting, which happens each Friday around 4:00 p.m. Similar to DGC’s Wino Friday tradition, we enjoyed snacks and cocktails while hearing agency updates, press hits of the week and even “grumbles.” I then took some quick snapshots of the team and the space, and was on my way.
Leaving E!’s office, I felt completely energized for the future. DGC and Eulogy! have the real makings of a global network–with much to offer our clients and employees. I’m thrilled to be part of it and can’t wait to see what’s in store.