Advertising

The Future of Communications and Marketing in Digital

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digital-communications-interns1Today in the market we see a lot of jobs that are geared to having communications or marketing practitioners “specialized” in digital media.  Is this the way that the industry will move forward?

Here is the thing… in certain regards it makes sense that you have individuals who are familiar with publications, or broadcast and of course digital.  However, a well rounded practitioner should be well versed in all areas of communications.  As we move forward with technology, more and more it becomes apparent that these mediums bleed into one another, and have become tripods with each one depending on the other.

Yes there are definitely shifts in the way organizations spend their advertising/communications/pr dollars, with more moving away from print and into digital.  That being said, it does not mean that all the mediums disappear and one will emerge the champion.  Audiences consume information in so many different ways, and the most  important decision you need to make as a practitioner is where to find them, if that medium makes sense for your target and what you are trying to achieve.

When you divide the three mediums so specifically, you end up with departments that compete for dollar spends based on their specific “specialty”.  I’m not disputing that it does not make sense that happens, but I will say that divisions like that mean that it becomes a personal interest on obtaining larger dollars, rather than whether or not it makes overall sense for a campaign or an organizational objective.

I firmly believe that at this juncture in the evolution of our industry, being a digital specialist should not exist.  I’ve mentioned this before, and I will mention this again – digital is another medium.  It is another tool in the tool belt for marketing and communications practitioners to use.  There should be no reason why anyone on any team should not be familiar with all three mediums, have some exposure to all of them, and have a firm grasp and understanding how they all should be used.

Teams should be educated in all ways that each of the mediums change.  That being said, I also believe that every professional should have a vested interest in self education and keeping themselves current and relevant as well.  The future of digital in these professions is that it will be common place – as it is in every day life already.

And the Job Hunt Begins

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As most of you are aware, I have proudly worked for Rogers Media in their Digital Client Solutions Team for the last 3 years.  Unfortunately, and to my greatest shock – last Tuesday I was laid off as part of their restructuring process.  (You can see the story here: Rogers Communications lays off 94 staff in media operations.)  Myself and 1 additional team member also was let go after 8 years with the company and 5 years on my team.

I first and foremost want to say that working at Rogers in my role as a Digital Engagement Manager was really and truly my dream job.  It really was everything that anyone that works in communications could dream of and ask for -not to mention that I worked on one of the most prestigious teams.  I’m not shy to say – as I did at many of our morning department teams – it was the team that everyone within the organization was trying to be part of.

I considered my team members to be like family.  My Director was outstanding as was my reporting manager – and I always think that these situations are the most difficult  – because when you work with great people and great mentors, it is so sad to not be able to see them and interact with them everyday.  As I said to them – I hope this is only just a temporary pause until we have an opportunity to work or collaborate together one day.

I shall not include names because I do respect people’s privacy and anonimity 🙂  But to all the sales reps, GMs, editors and publishers, producers, project managers, creative and also of course to my entire team – thank you all so much for the time I had to learn and grow and be part of the wonderful things that Rogers Media does 🙂

Strategic Communications and Public Relations

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Targeted-Magnify-XSmallHaving had the opportunity to become a well rounded communications practitioner, it is really interesting to see how people use the word “strategic” when speaking about executional things. It’s almost as though the word “Strategy” or “Strategic” has become a buzz word and somewhere along the line, it does get confused with tactics and/or execution.

Press releases, websites, contests, a page in a magazine, a commercial, Facebook pages, Twitter pages – these are all the tactics.  HOW you use them and your plan for that, should be tied into a bigger concept that is then linked into a specific objective.  Confusion over the word “strategy” is prevalent in all communication/marketing disciplines and this truly impacts creative as well.  Creative is encompassed into a large part of what we do and being creative also requires strategic thinking.

This post was inspired by my friend and colleague Lisa,  (@lisawrites) when speaking about the creative process and creative strategy.  Much like the communications process, the creative idea (images, layout, copy and design) has to link to some overarching theme that does inspire, engage or cause something to happen.  Pretty or Twitter or a Website are not a strategy, but they are definitely tools that can be used to make something happen or reach an objective.

As common as this is, I do encourage communications and creative teams to think like this:

  1. What is your organizations overall objective?
  2. What is your organization’s overall goal/s for the year?  How do you understand these goals linking into achieving their objective?  (Not sure – then ask!)
  3. How is this campaign or idea going to help the organization achieve the above two things?
  4. What is the main objective for this campaign?  How does it link to your organization’s objective?
  5. What are your goals for this campaign and how does that tie into your organizational goals for the year?
  6. Who are you trying to reach?  Why do you need to reach them? (Creative teams need all the above information and absolutely need to be linked in at this point and moving forward)
  7. When do you reach out to them?  What do you want them to do/say/think/believe?
  8. Where are they? How will you reach them?  (Here are the tactics!  See how far down the list it is?  All the other stuff needs to happen first before we get here!)
  9. How will you know if what you want them to do is being done? – In other words – what are your metrics of success or KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators).
  10. What are your benchmarks?  What will you do if your KPI’s are not performing the way you would like?  What other areas of support will put into this?  What is your plan B?

Once you have these in your pocket you can execute.  By no means am I implying that this step by step process is linear at all! In most cases, it will be more matrix like with lots of back and forths and adjustments, all while being sensitive to deadlines and budgets.  As a rule of thumb I try to follow the above.  Now, more than ever in my career (especially because I work production focused advertiser initiatives a.k.a – the actual execution), I see how critical the above steps are.  Not all campaigns will perform the way you hoped, but that also means there are key learnings that can be pulled from that to understand your organization and its objectives even better.

5 steps to Social Media Readiness

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Photo credit: www.socialable.co.uk
Photo credit: http://www.socialable.co.uk

Ready… set… go…..

Buzz words are great – and in all aspects of business we hear them.  However, when working in the digital and communications space what does the term: “social media readiness” actually mean?  While it can vary by organization to organization, in a nutshell it means: how ready are you or your organization for engagement into the social media space.

In one of my former roles as a Marketing and Communications Manager,  I would hear almost every day directly from the CEO how we needed to use social media to promote their product.  Due to the company culture it was very much,  a “do it first and ask questions later” atmosphere.  The idea of marketing and the focus on being executional/tactical in nature first,  superseded the notion of ensuring that the company was ready to do it or that they actually understood what they were doing while doing it.  The largest mistake that any company can make in marketing and communications is to put the cart before the horse.  Once you put something out there, especially online – it is there.  Reflecting your company, your brand and your products.

This organization was not ready for social media.  They understood it in theory, and they definitely understood the execution – “Put a video on Youtube”, “Start a Facebook page”…. but had no long term strategy, or any idea what they should be doing with their social assets past that. So, how can you do a temperature check?  Here are 5 steps to take in finding out how ready your organization is for social media:

      1. Executive level buy in:  You definitely need to ensure that your leadership is in support of the idea.  Some might be, and some might not be – some may not understand it at all.  To erase some uneasiness it might require some education around social media products.  These can include business case studies with organizations that are similar in nature to yours – or if you are willing – using your own personal accounts to demonstrate how things can work positively.
      2. Educational tools:  Even if an organization understands the practice of using certain social media networks, you can create or provide tools that make things easy for them to digest and stay current. Hubspot provides a lot of great white papers and e-books that can be easily disseminated or referenced.  In my former roll as a Communications Coordinator for the Government, I actually created a social media dictionary to assist our senior management team in learning the lingo.
      3. Social Media Policies: OK – so naturally your leadership is going to have concerns around all the possible things that could go sideways if they enter into this space, from employees exposing secret info publicly to the public bashing them.  Work with them to create social media policies that they feel comfortable with; if possible check with your legal and HR teams to make sure everything is covered.  If all else fails – there are a ton of templates online.  Hey, we are in the age of sharing!
      4. Don’t scare your staff: Your biggest fans are right under your nose.  The people who live and breath your organization everyday.  Once you have buy in – don’t leave them out of the education process!  They can be your organizations biggest advocates and evangelists online.  Keep them in the loop and ensure that they understand your social media policies and procedures.  Give them some ownership and a voice and you will see how quickly things can become viral!
      5. Put pen to paper:  Plan!  Like any other communications or marketing initiative you must have a plan in place.  If you work for an organization that doesn’t see the importance of this run!  As the saying goes – fail to plan, plan to fail.  Except that you would be letting the organization fail publicly in a space that spreads information at rapid fire speed.  A social media plan should outline the networks most relevant to your organizations needs, how you intend on using them, content plans and schedules and how that integrates with your overall marketing plan.

The Pinterest…..

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I would love to be able to tell you that Pinterest is the hot “new” thing.  But in the world of digital things move so rapidly that it I can’t say that this is the case.

As with all other social media platforms, this is just another medium that can be used to an organizations or an individuals advantage.  The interesting thing with Pinterest is of course that there tends to be a lot more repinning than the addition of new content, but I think what it best does is really institute the shift of perception in sharing things.

That beings said, as with all hyped social media platforms business are wondering how they can use Pinterest to their advantage.  Here are some things to consider before embarking into a new social medium:

  1. What is the core function of your organization?  Does it require a visual component?
  2. What is the mandate or objective of your communications and marketing departments?  Just because a new social media platform arises, it doesn’t mean that you have to use it or that it can serve your organization and communication objectives.
  3. Determine if you have sub-brands or products that could works for this particular medium.
  4. Go ahead and register the company and/or product name with Pinterest.  Even if you decide not to use it, you’ve at least acquired ownership of your name.

My two cents?  I think Pinterest should partner with Instagram.  Who knows, by the time this post hits that may have already happened 😉

I’m baaaacccckkkk!!!!!

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*Sigh*!  It took a long while.  I thought and thought and thought about whether or not this was a good idea.  I was asked by everyone what happened to my blog.  And as a recap – if any of you remember – I had someone who basically hacked and stalked my life for a while.  Posting photos that were inappropriate claiming they were me, e-mailing my contacts on FB and all my e-mail accounts (including employers/colleagues)  with disgusting propositions.  He texted me, e-mailed me, called me – threats and more threats.  I fought back on my blog.  And then he came here to fight me too.

That was when I made the decision that I could not do this anymore.  I learned that FB and hotmail do not have expeditious ways to deal with security related issues.  The cyber crimes unit of the police were as helpful as they could be, except that they had to obtain a warrant that would need to be served to hotmail via a general e-mail address and could not guarantee when they would be able to do anything.  They asked me things like “Who hates you?”, “What about your ex?  Is he angry with you?”, “Any friends you had any recent conflict with?”, “Would there be any reason that someone would want to harm you or hurt you or seek revenge for anything?”.

I’m supposed to be a person who has more understanding about online and digital things – especially in regards to marketing, communications, PR and advertising.  How could this be happening to me?  Comments and e-mails both positive and negative flew into this blog.  Some blaming me, some poking fun at the fact that I should know better because of my career and interest.  Others, thankfully – supportive!  I shut down my blog.  I had to fight this crazy person, I couldn’t be fighting the general public too.

But, because I had more requests to bring back my blog than not.  Because I had multiple tweets from different people in my industry to bring it back, I’ve been in the process of setting myself back up for the last two months.  And thanks to @AlphaStar, @ShambledRambler and @WonderMoms_ca combined with a Happy TwBirthday recognition from @TwBirthday and @Tor_Twop_1000, I grew a pair and decided that my personal brand, my career and my knowledge are worth more to me than the people who tried to tear it to shreds.  I’m back.