When Donald Trump’s organization turned to “network marketing” to me it was a sign that times were really tough. But now that I’m hearing ads on the airwaves to jump on board with The Donald before it is too late I have to laugh.
I come from an area that at one time was ground zero for pyramid schemes such as Glenn W. Turner’s Koscot International cosmetics and Dare to Be Great Seminars. Get rich quick artists have been praying on Floridians for years. They all seem to roll through here.
Network marketing, on the other hand, claims to be the honest answer for those who can’t wait for the bucks to roll in: the ones who would rather make money by selling other people the right to work for them.
The downside of all these schemes … the legal and the not-so-legal … has always been that the string eventually runs out. Those who get in early make money. And when the ball stops rolling as the string gets taught, the ambitious would-be-Trumpsters who bought in late in the game end up holding an empty bag. It almost never fails because eventually the driving forces in the middle get tired of seeing all the dough to the doughnut maker.
I’m not saying the one with the best known hair in maledom would scam anyone, but there’s a subtle message in his radio ads: “those who recognize the opportunity early will thrive.”
I often stop for coffee at my neighborhood Dunkin’ Donuts. And, while I like their coffee and the people are friendly, I wonder if this simple suggestion hasn’t had something to do with my repeat visits.
It’s an effortless sign located at eye level right near the exit, and somehow its suggestion stuck with me like a warm hug goodbye.
What subtle marketing tactics do you implement in your business to keep your customers coming back for more?
One year ago I saw fast-talking Peter Shankman speak in Orlando. He told a story about being jobless several years earlier in Manhattan and relying on creative methods to get his resume in front of employers. He had recently started distributing a free e-mail service to PR folks and doing all the work himself. That was then and this is now.
Shankman is responsible for the wildly popular Help A Reporter Out service, commonly known as HARO, which now boasts a subscriber base of more than 90,000 business and communications professionals. Created as a way to connect journalists with quotable sources and ideas for stories, HARO is a must-use service for those in PR. HARO e-mails have an unheard of average 90 percent open rate, which Shankman’s advertising team proudly proclaims as “e-mail crack.”
I remember that day hearing Shankman say he might begin to allow companies to sponsor his e-mails through paid advertising. Here in late 2009, not only does HARO accept paid sponsors for its three-times-a-day e-mails, it also allows companies to pay to place job postings and giveaways, all the while generating thousands of dollars of revenue five days a week with little overhead.
Peter Shankman struck me as unique, and as successful as HARO has become, something about the service he created is just as unique as him.
Maybe it’s the fact that Shankman’s team does the write-up of the sponsored company in “his voice;” or that HARO continually threatens to blacklist subscribers if they SPAM others or pitch journalists off-topic; or even that HARO’s plain text rate card (an important tool for ad-generating businesses) includes too many exclamation points and three “P.S.” thoughts after the closing; whatever it is, these attributes combine to make this successful business venture that much more surprising.
I sent an e-mail this morning to advertise and received a reply in less than two minutes … ads are booked through February 2010. I bet Shankman isn’t on the street corner in Manhattan any longer looking for work.
Do you think your company can benefit from HARO? C&P frequently identifies opportunities for our clients monitoring this service each day.
When Tropicana launched its new package design, it was met with consumer resistance and consequently, there was a 20 percent drop in sales. The Arnell Group, responsible for the redesign, attempted to create a fresher more modern look but inadvertently created a generic looking package that couldn’t stack up in grocery stores compared to its original predecessor.
PepsiCo did a remarkable 360 when they retracted the new Tropicana design and reverted back to the original packaging that we all grew to know and love. The original packaging by Sterling Brands just worked.
PepsiCo also stirred up a flurry of online chatter when they unveiled Pepsi’s new logo/redesign. Debates still continue on whether this was a $1 million step toward a brighter future or a $1 million mistake:
The 50th anniversary edition of Communication Arts has an article about the personal ties and attachments we as consumers develop to our brands. Researchers call this unaided awareness in that these brands automatically elicit an emotional response and thus we recognize these brands instinctively. Even in a recession, as seen with such brands as Tropicana or even Walmart, brands have marketing power.
Wonder what the future will look like? Thomas Friedman sees a dimly lit future if we don’t start teaching critical thinking in our public schools.
Employers of tomorrow – for that matter, today – can’t afford to staff their businesses with order takers. We need innovators … and innovators are people who can think over the horizon, spot a need and create solutions to problems that often haven’t yet been recognized.
If you’re like me, you’re looking for people who look at life like one big iPhone waiting for apps to be written. I like to think of them as “opps,” things that create opportunities.
Another day, another article discussing how social media makes traditional PR less relevant. The latest comes from Chris Hogg at Digital Journal, who opines that “social media relations is more important than good PR.”
Chris’ article, which continues to advance the stereotype of public relations as a “let’s pitch the news media” business, suffers from a serious disconnect.
He correctly notes that “forward-thinking companies should have conversations with their audience and customers rather than talking at them,” but seems to believe that this is somehow separate from “good PR.”
Connecting with the audiences that are important to your success is the essence of good public relations.
Almost daily, I see similar posts and tweets declaring that social media makes public relations less important than ever, but as my colleague Roger Pynn wrote on this blog more than a year ago, the opposite is true.
Sure, social media allows companies to talk instantly and interactively with their customers and communities. But does that mean they know what to say, when to say it and how to say it effectively in order to drive action? Access to a medium of communication does not guarantee understanding of its use.
And yes, traditional publicity has become less important as the media landscape changes. But “good” PR pros have been advising clients for years to look beyond publicity to connect with their audiences. We advocated such strategies long before Facebook and Twitter were invented, and will continue to advise clients to pursue a multi-pronged approach to communication.
Social media has changed everything, but Marshall McLuhan’s famous statement is still wrong. The medium is NOT the message. Message must always come first, no matter whether the medium is a hand-written letter or a 140-character tweet. Crafting the right message and choosing the right medium to influence opinion and motivate action (and sometimes deciding when not to speak at all) … that’s “good PR.”
A while back I wrote about invective and how the volume of online conversation is making life in the digisphere more and more unpleasant.
Just as interesting as the volume of passionate advocates and combative opponents alike is the tendency to anoint themselves as experts … whether they are talking about fried shrimp dinners, health care reform, their favorite martini bar or least liked public official.
And, because so many people are talking on almost every topic imaginable, both the proponents and their foes seem to be claiming the collective voice as being on “their side.”
Seth Godin suggests in “True Believers (and the truth)” that the Internet is what has amplified the volume of debate and that the loudest voices may not be the best point of reference when making the case for or against something, suggesting “they’re wrong far more than they are right.”
Coming as I do from a background in the dying art of journalism, I’m tempted to say “yes, Seth … I think you’re right. In fact, you’ve proven your point because you have failed to quote anything – statistical evidence from research, anecdotal evidence, etc. – that proves how right or wrong the voices really are.”
It strikes me – but I have nothing to back up my position – that the Internet isn’t to blame for the decibel level. Rather access has provided us all with an endless roll of free paper on which to write, ALL TO OFTEN IN SHOUTING CAPITAL LETTERS, whatever we believe to be true as if it were of biblical veracity.
Whatever happened to judgment? When did we stop questioning things before we started preaching them as gospel? Where did we lose our collective ability to study things before proclaiming ourselves experts?
As the story slowly unravels we start to wonder how honest, candid and transparent these parents really are.
Whether the Heene Family was seeking publicity or not – if they ever want another moment (15 minutes of fame) the ball(oon) is in their court to help us understand and to clarify the communication break down.
I’ve decided to expand on that and put a new sign on my wall:
“Honesty is a value.
Candor is a risk.
Transparency is a must.”
It comes down to some simple concepts.
We simply expect people to be honest with us. Don’t you hate it when someone says “I’ll be honest with you”? It always makes me wonder when they stopped being honest with me … or whether I should assume they usually aren’t.
Candor is something altogether different. Many people would rather you not be candid with them. For instance, if you think I made a huge mistake in my choice of ties this morning I’d likely prefer to hear about it later if I’m in an environment where a tie is required but I have no chance to replace the monstrosity I am wearing.
Transparency, on the other hand, is a topic of much discussion in today’s often highly charged conversations about ethics. You could be both honest and candid with me, but if you have an agenda for being candid, the fact that you told me the truth is tainted.
Often in business you find someone attempting to reel you in with “total honesty” (one of life’s great oxymorons) but when it comes at you with what I like to call wide-eyed candor – that “golly gee I’m being open with you” look – beware.
Tell me the truth. Be candid with me. Tell me why.
It isn’t all that often that a client earns global recognition, and when it comes in lockstep with recognition of the chief executive’s personal contributions via a “lifetime achievement” award, you have to reflect on how fortunate you are to be associated with such an organization and its leaders.
The Florida High Tech Corridor Council has frequently been recognized as a model for super regional economic development driven by higher education partnerships. Now, the International Economic Development Council based in Washington, D.C., has honored the Corridor Council with its Partnerships in Education award in recognition of the FHTCC’s Matching Grants Research Program and workforce development initiatives, calling the Council “a clear standout” for the award.
“Furthering economic development is rarely a simple task in the best of times, and advancing the cause in the midst of a global financial crisis is nothing less than arduous,” said Ian Bromley, IEDC chair. “As the consequences of the widespread economic turmoil have taken hold, we have seen our members become even more ardent proponents of economic development, flying in the face of one of the most challenging economic environments we have experienced in our careers. We proudly present this award to the Florida High Tech Corridor Council for its superior work during these difficult times.”
High Tech Corridor Council President Randy Berridge accepted the honor at the IEDC’s annual meeting in Reno, Nevada, just four days after being singled out himself with the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Seminole County Regional Chamber of Commerce where a host of Central Florida leaders took the time to sing his praises.
Berridge is a tireless community leader. The Florida High Tech Corridor Council is changing the way regions across the nation look at growing their economies.
We’re proud to be part of such a game-changing strategy.