Category Archives: Tips

Monday Morning Mad Men: Welcome back!

It’s been a long 17 months since we’ve seen our friends at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. We’re back in 1966 and SCDP is still trying to nail new business they desperately need. As we found out at the end of season four, Don has convinced Heinz to give them small piece of their business – the beans division – with the hopes of bringing attention to this often overlooked sub-brand (behind Ketchup). Thus, we find Peggy in the pitch room trying to sell in their first campaign idea to the client.

In the creative presentation, Peggy presents the team’s best campaign idea for the beans – a Bean Ballet. The client is not immediately thrilled (as Peggy expected), instead asking for something more conservative. Don joins the room and Peggy expects him to come to her rescue as her so often does when clients aren’t buying more provocative ideas. Surprisingly, Don simply agrees to come back to the client with something different and more in line with his desires. Peggy leaves feeling deflated from rejection, but that’s because she wasn’t working with the client’s vision.

If we were SCDP’s counsel on pitching new business, we would have made four recommendations to Peggy:

  1. Get the brief right. Briefs are critical to success. They allow clients to share their desires and visions from the outset, while helping to set expectations. When written properly, they are an important tool for both teams to stay on the same page and avoid disconnects along the way.
  2. Understand the way your client thinks, and tailor your pitch accordingly. If you know you have a conservative client that won’t be open to pushing the envelope, present your more conservative ideas first. Over time you can earn your client’s trust for more boundary-pushing ideas. If you can anticipate your client’s reaction, you will have a leg up for how to present your ideas, and how to work with them over time to take more risks.
  3. Communicate with your client. If there is a disconnect between the client and the agency, the work will suffer. Consequently, the relationship will suffer too. Make sure there is an open dialogue between you and your client…not just with your day-to-day client, but with the key decision makers. This will get you one step closer to success.
  4. Learn when to hold ‘em, learn when to fold ‘em. Sometimes (most of the time), a client wants what a client wants. Understanding when it’s appropriate to push for your own ideas, and when it’s appropriate to back down, is an art form, not something that’s learned from one meeting. Sometimes conceding your own ideas in the interim will allow your client to trust you later on.

We’re sure Peggy and the creative team will come back with a winning idea next week. Stay tuned!

Wisdom in the Workplace

Good advice isn’t always easy to find. But sometimes there are people you work with, at industry associations, in books, or even family that can dish out advice when you need it most and leave a lasting impression in the process. These words of wisdom can often be the driving force behind bigger business philosophies and life lessons that encourage individuals to find new ways to achieve success.

In a recent article from Business Insider, the world’s most recognizable executives shared the best career advice that they’ve received over the years. Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, said the best advice he ever received was to say “yes” to things. Maureen Chiquet, global CEO of Chanel quoted Mickey Drexler, CEO of Gap, who said “you’ve gotta learn to listen.”

No matter what—or who—is your source of inspiration, everyone has that one memorable motto that helps them get out of bed in the morning and attack the work-day. Here are few gems from the DGC team:

  • “A handshake says everything about a person – make it firm.”
  • “Never hear the first ‘no.’”
  •  “Just because we work nine-hour days doesn’t mean you have a full nine hours to accomplish everything on your to-do list. Plan for interruptions.”
  • “Asking questions does not make you stupid—it makes you inquisitive and thorough.”
  •  “Hire people who are smarter than you.”
  • “Get on the board of a powerful women’s organization.”
  • “Make sure that every time you make a mistake you know what you’ve learned and you try your best to apply the learnings next time.”
  • “The day you stop learning is the day you should quit.”

Whether you’re fine-tuning your first-impression methods or extending your education, the key to a successful career is growth. Richard Branson, founder and chairman of Virgin Group said it best: “My mother always taught me never to look back in regret but to move on to the next thing.”

What’s the best work advice you live by?

Book PR in a Digital World

Sometimes when you attend a panel here at SXSW, you wind up hearing a topline conversation of things you already know and not a deeper dive into things that you really want to know. Discoverability and the New World of Book PR offered a refreshing instance of the latter with a variety of tips for today’s authors.

While the discussion on the changing media landscape, use of social media and basic pitching were things we know and practice, Rusty Shelton and Barbara Henricks – book PR specialists – made it clear that timing and access are critical to success in this digital world (sounds familiar).

With fewer reporters and publications, authors need to begin the process earlier and earlier to build proper momentum and enhance success after a book is published. A bottom up approach – starting with social media and working your way to top-tier broadcast — while seemingly slow at first can have greater impact than an initial hit or two.

To kick-start your book marketing journey and enhance PR efforts, consider the following:

Timing: Start talking up your book as soon as you have a title and topic. This will help gather interest from your inner network of respected friends, family and associates to get the buzz started. Waiting until the last minute will put you behind the eight ball when it comes to securing more traditional coverage.

Social Media: Begin talking about your book or topics closely related to it on Facebook, Twitter, a blog and with bloggers to share your expertise and engage with potential readers. Once the book is available for review, these supporters will be the first to offer a positive review and start spreading the love. And don’t feel like any outlet is too small – optimization is your best friend — so take advantage of those blog opportunities.

Video: Don’t have the time necessary to dedicateto social media? Start small with an hour per week and progress from there. In the meantime, create a video for your website that allows visitors to visualize you as an author and engage based upon your passion and expertise (not to mention help with broadcast pitching efforts).

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to write a good book; it’s up to you, your community and PR team to help make it a best seller. With the proper timing, community and tools in place, this can be a reality.

When in Austin…

A group of DGCers is heading to Austin, TX, for SXSW Interactive again this year (March 9-13), and since they are now “experienced” attendees, we asked them what people should know to get the most they can from the experience, which seems to get more overwhelming each year.

Tips for attending: 

  • Don’t be afraid to approach speakers after attending their sessions. It’s all about networking—go shake hands!
  • Pace yourself. There is a LOT to see and do.  Study the schedules (panels as well as parties) and prioritize to make the most of your experience.
  • Missed the daily keynote because you were busy networking? Check it out online at http://sxsw.com/interactive/live.
  • Attend parties. There are many that are free and open to anyone with a badge (for a guide click here: http://austin.sanfranfreesco.com/event/filter?tagFilter=26). Try to attend:
    • The Mix at Six presented by Can We Network (3/9, 6pm)
    • The Interactive Opening Party presented by frog design and Microsoft (3/10, 8pm)
    • Mashable SXSWi House 2012 (3/11, 9pm)

Despite the high-tech atmosphere, it’s a good idea to take lots of business cards with you. Yes, the print kind. Maybe  Freshbooks and Shoeboxed will collaborate again as they did last year. This article tells how their brilliant promotion helped attendees organize all those wonderful new contacts people made at SXSW.

And check back here at The Hit Board which will be updated regularly by the on-site DGC team with trends, attendee insights and more.

New Public Relations Definition Needs More Show Less Tell

Thanks to the Public Relations Initiative and all the people who voted, I now have a definition of what I do so my mom and dad (or kids for that matter) can talk somewhat intelligently about my employment.  As you might have heard, it has been decided that Public Relations has just redefined itself as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”  Sounds great, less filling.  Now, please remind me how this changes anything?

The truth is, the PR industry has had identity crises for some time.  Having worked at several PR agencies for well over a decade, the one common denominator was that they all fell short of promoting their work – which is not to say, they didn’t do great work.  Although we might not have the same sexy visual appeal as advertising, PR is very much “a see it to believe it” industry.

I was recently reminded of this shortcoming when I began writing a collection of case studies for DiGennaro Communications.  I thought a good starting point for my research would be to look at case studies across all facets of the PR industry as a frame of reference.  Unsurprisingly, this task wasn’t very easy.  Case studies were outdated, lacked detail and in many cases (no pun intended) were difficult to find on agency websites.

This is the root of the problem.  It’s not about definitions and wordplay.  While you can play around with the definition of public relations all you want, we need to SHOW how our stories changed the way people live and do business – one client at a time.  Focus on the experience not the definition.  Besides, PR is beyond definition.

Social media channels are presenting us with more opportunities to strut our stuff more than ever.  There is an abundance of opportunity to SHOW not TELL.  There is a method to our madness that can only be explained through visual case studies, a deeper focus on numbers/metrics client vignettes and testimonials, and of course, word of mouth.

I Hope You Have The Timeline Of Your Life

Wednesday was another big day for Facebook. In addition to hosting its first ever Marketing Conference, which viewers could watch via live stream on the Facebook site, Facebook also launched its Timeline pages for brands. New features include an updated layout with a cover photo, the ability to edit content without having to open separate pages, and opportunities to add content that spans the course of the brand’s lifetime to date.

But how will consumers respond to this new brand page format?

Before Facebook launched brand Timeline pages, it launched personal Timeline profiles. Similar to the brand Timeline pages, users can upload cover photos, edit content in one place and add information to past years to create a more robust illustration of the entirety of their lives to date. Some people have jumped at the opportunity to update their profiles, while others have found the format to be confusing, overwhelming and miscommunicated.

“I’m not really using it,” says DGC’s Kendra Peavy. “Every now and then I take a peek, but I think more time needs to pass.”

DGC’s Erin Donahue feels similarly: “I still have no idea what Facebook Timeline really is. I don’t think it was communicated to users properly. Now one person’s page looks different from the next. I like that Facebook is evolving to meet the needs of consumers, but I wish it was easier to comprehend, and I wish there was some sort of guide for how Timeline works.”

Facebook’s mission is “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” From the beginning, it has achieved this through constant growth, innovation and adaptability. In the grand scheme of things, Timeline is just one of many changes experienced by the Facebook community over the past eight years. So will people get used to these changes as they have in the past? Share your thoughts on Facebook Timeline for brands and people in the comments section below.

Feed Your PR Spirit This Season

Today marks the beginning of Lent –a season associated with reflection and taking stock of one’s spiritual life.

For exhausted PR professionals who are only just recovering from the efforts of mining every last news angle around the Super Bowl, this time of year might be the best excuse to step back, stake stock and feed our PR spirits.

Instead of denying yourself something in the hopes of becoming a better person, it might make more sense to do something or consciously give yourself something over the next six weeks that will refresh your thinking and stimulate new ideas. Taking your eye off the ball periodically may be the best way to help you be better at your job.

Here’s what I mean:

1)      Go to the cinema. Commit to going to the movies once or twice a week for the next month and a half. Or if that is too expensive and time-consuming, make a commitment to watch these movies online.  As PR professionals, we need to keep current with the times and the popular culture. Cinema is an escape and a distraction. It helps keep you current, gets you out of the house and engaged with your significant other or friends, and provides an enjoyable or even thought-provoking experience.

2)      Embrace the flesh. Not through gluttony or sloth, but since we’re having an unseasonably mild winter here in the northeast, why not commit to taking the old bicycle out for a spin each time the weather permits? Or go for a hike? Or go ice-skating? Don’t like the outdoors? Splurge on a massage. These are physically exhilarating activities that more often make you feel better than not.

3)      Open a book. Reading creates solitude and improves our writing. Select three books you’ve wanted badly to read for a long time, then borrow them from the library or buy them or download them. The topic doesn’t matter. In fact, the more light-hearted the better. It has to be something that once you begin the book, you can’t wait to get back to it.

4)      Volunteer. Many companies allow employees to donate a few hours a month during the work week to charitable groups that are only too happy to welcome their efforts. This week, DiGennaro Communications is volunteering for God’s Love We Deliver.  But there are myriad ways to donate your individual time too. Just make sure it’s something you do with an open heart and not from a place of obligation.

Help Wanted: Future Media Professionals Need Apply

Helen Gurley Brown, former Editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine, announced last month that she is donating $30 million to Columbia University and Stanford University in memory of her late husband, David Brown. What do two schools with two of the top ten endowments in the country need this type of money for, you ask? The David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation.

According to Columbia and Stanford, the institute “will encourage new media, promote innovation and prototypes, and recognize the increasingly important connection between journalism and technology.” In an industry that continues to evolve in direct correlation with the digital space, this is a huge step forward in educating future media professionals. But what if your university doesn’t have a media institute? Here are DGC’s top three tips for pursuing a career in media/communications…no matter where you go to school:

  1. Intern. You may learn some of the basic concepts behind media/communications in your Marketing 101 class, but nothing you learn in the classroom will prepare you for your first job. Try to pursue as much internship experience as possible. Not only will it give you better insight into your future career, but it will also help you determine if the field is right for you.
  2. Read the news. Half the battle of the media/communications industry is keeping up with what’s happening. If you are well-versed on current events, you’ll be setting yourself up to win.
  3. Network. The job market remains tough to navigate. Make sure you are reaching out to your contacts on a regular basis so you are not missing any opportunities. And this doesn’t just mean via email. Recruiters are finding candidates through all manner of social networks these days, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others, and hiring those who show savvy and persistence online.

Are you one of those people who kick-started your career via social media? Tell us how! Are you looking for a job in the communications industry? Reach out to us in the comments section below!

Taking Your Facebook Relationships To The Next Level

DGC DiGennaro Communications Facebook Social media advice tips engage fansDavid Fincher and Aaron Sorkin may have showed the world that Facebook was created to help college students hook-up, but since then, “The Social Network” has evolved into a vehicle for interaction among its members, job recruiters, entertainment artists, academic institutions and even consumer brands.

Despite these open lines of communication, not all brands know how to effectively engage with their online audiences. Take Chapstick, for example, which late last year got itself into a “social media death spiral” after posting a weird image on Facebook and quietly removing negative comments left by viewers on its Facebook Wall. A bit passive/aggressive if you ask us.

With this in mind, the DGC team has compiled the following tips to help you and your brand avoid social media suicide:

  • Don’t forget what you stand for. Posts on your Facebook page should be consistent with your marketing, advertising, news, etc.  Make sure your Facebook strategy sets you up to achieve the same goals that you aimed to accomplish from day-one.
  • No time like the present. Facebook continues to evolve and offer new ways for users to represent themselves online. Make sure you’re using the latest tools so you put forth a page that is relevant and creative.
  • The power of Facebook compels you. Provide useful and interesting information for fans to react to and share. If you need an example, The New York Public Library’s Facebook page is the bee’s knees.
  • READ. Your fans are constantly interacting with you on Facebook, so take a look at what they have to say. The easiest way to build brand loyalty is to let them know that you are listening.
  • Keep it coming. Fans are more likely to stick with a brand’s Facebook page when the brand stays engaged—even if it’s just one post a day—so push out content on a regular basis and watch your network grow.

Do you have other tips for maintaining an active Facebook brand page? Share them in the comments section below!

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