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You Can Build a Narrative for Your Company

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For businesses big and small, it’s not enough to say, “This is what we make” or “This is what we do.” It’s generic and outdated. People are looking for authenticity and value—a brand they can trust. And the best way to show them is through a corporate narrative.

Building a narrative comes from a shift in thinking away from the what the competition is doing, what the customer focus groups are saying, and what the industry landscape looks like. A narrative is a strategic positioning of the company, using its history, its employees, the location and its future. Combined, these explain why the company exists and why it’s unique.

Strategic Positioning

Without getting political, the current controversy surrounding Nike is more than a PR stunt. Sure, Nike’s online sales jumped 31% after the Kaepernick ads appeared, but they have also returned to pre-campaign levels after the buzz had faded. These ads are a continuation of their narrative, “Just do it.”

Nike’s narrative started in 1988 and it goes beyond, “We make great shoes.” It focuses on athletes and their need to believe in themselves: “We’ll make the best sporting equipment and all you have to do is believe in yourself.” By using Kaepernick, they pay homage to other high caliber athletes who made their own protests, the most famous of which was Muhamad Ali, and were punished for it. It’s about inspiration, not about product.

Okay, enough about the controversy, let’s look deeper into building a corporate narrative.

Value over Features and Benefits

The features and benefits of a product or service are no longer enticing to potential customers or clients. They’re all the same. It’s the value that’s the differentiator. Value motivates consumers to look deeper and see who the company truly is.

A company’s value begins with its mission and vision:

  • Who they are.
  • What they believe in.
  • What they believe is possible.

This is about having a purpose and sharing that purpose with others, or having others share it with them.

IBM’s “Smarter Planet”campaign began in 2008 and is a great example of a modern corporate narrative. It came from IBM’s mission and core set of values. It shares their sense of purpose and how that purpose can be achieved. It’s also inclusive – very inclusive – and describes a sense of shared responsibility.

Corporate Narrative for a Small Company

Small companies don’t work on the world stage or have enormous marketing budgets, but they can build their own narrative. Even start-ups and relatively young companies can do this. All they need to do is take a look at their mission and what they believe in. What’s their purpose? Their purpose is what they can share with customers.

Slogans and logos help visually expand the chosen narrative, like giving it wings. Content marketing strategies help reinforce the message. To customers experiencing these , the value of the company becomes remarkable, something exciting to talk about. The brand is no longer generic—it’s authentic. Best of all, the story continues to grow with each connection made.

Confidence Conveys Strength in Marketing

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There’s no denying that Wonder Woman is super strong. It’s said that she is even stronger than Hercules. And, in the comic book series, she beat Superman twice to save the world. This kind of strength gives her confidence and vice versa—her confidence also gives her strength.

The Confident, Trusted Advisor

Wonder Woman’s confidence is something that resonates with me. With every battle, she gained more experience and tested her limits. I feel like I have done the same over the past 25 years of my career. My confidence has given me the strength to be a trusted advisor for my clients and a counselor for my peers. Malcolm Gladwell introduced the concept of becoming an expert at just about anything with “10,000 hours of deliberate practice.” By focusing your efforts at developing expertise and skill, you will become more confident.

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience. You are able to say to yourself, “I lived through this. I can take on the next thing that comes along.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Building Confidence

My confidence also comes from continuing education. Every year, I attend conferences and seminars to learn about the latest trends in marketing and technology. I also love reading books and listening to podcasts about entrepreneurs and artists, because they give me more insight on how I can improve and never become stagnant. I’m a naturally curious person and I look for that trait in the people I work with because it multiplies our capacity for knowledge. With every group of students I meet, I give them the news that learning doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) stop after graduation. This builds tremendous confidence, which feeds the strength of the work we do at Pinstripe.

An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest. – Ben Franklin

Strength in Soft Skills

I wouldn’t be in this position today if I hadn’t worked with such great people over the years. Relationship building requires “soft skills”—those intangible character traits of people like good listening, kindness, compassion, and empathy. These are all important skills that help us to be better communicators, as well as vulnerable and sensitive in unique situations. It takes a special strength of character to be vulnerable in this way, open to new experiences and others’ opinions.

I’m a very strong believer in listening and learning from others. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice

Being Consistent

Another strength of the Pinstripe brand is consistent performance. We have established ourselves as a trusted partner through consistently delivering on project after project. We do what we say we are going to do, and we do it well. Sure, the awards we’ve won are nice, but it’s not why we do it. Doing our best every time for our clients is what matters.

It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently. – Tony Robbins, Author and Inspirational Speaker

Would I love to have Wonder Woman’s super strength? Of course, but that’s not realistic. What is real is building the strengths I do have, and constantly improving in what I do and with the relationships I’ve built.

This article is part of a series on how Wonder Woman inspires our marketing philosophy. Throughout the year, we will be featuring more on this topic, so let us know how you feel about it.

 

The Combined Power of Public Relations and Search Engine Optimization

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Most people don’t associate public relations (PR) with search engine optimization (SEO), but if you play your cards right, PR can lead to great SEO. In fact, sometimes we undertake PR activities with the specific goal of increasing SEO for ourselves or our clients.

Help a Reporter Out (HARO)

Every day, HARO sends out several emails with queries from traditional media reporters and producers, but also blogs and and other online platforms looking for experts in certain fields and topics, and opinions about popular news items. The list sometimes contains over 50 different queries, ranging in content from health to finance to entrepreneurship to technology. Some of them are very specific and some are more general. The process goes like this:

  • We scan this list looking for opportunities for ourselves and our clients.
  • When we find one that fits, we immediately begin the process of writing the answers.
  • Complete an internal review
  • Request final approval from the client.
  • Once that is complete, we send our response to the query, and then wait for publication.
  • If the reporter decides to use our information in his article, we send a link to the client’s website, name, and sometimes even a bio and website.
  • Post the final article to all social media, including Google+

And there it is – the link back to the client’s site is SEO gold, especially if the site that it’s coming from is a reputable company in a related industry.

A perfect example is the story we contributed to for CEO Nation. The article is a really good social media tips from fifteen different entrepreneurs, including our very own Ginger Reichl! If you check out the story here, you’ll see that this particular article included Ginger’s head shot, name, and a link to our site. The article turned out great, and we learned some new social media techniques as well.

Online Press Release Distribution

Press releases are written for many reasons, including announcements, company news, events, and interesting stories that apply to trending topics. Knowing where and when to distribute a press release is as important and strategic as the writing of the press release itself. For traditional media relations, we rarely use releases anymore – with the exception of major news and investor relations, they typically just get ignored.

However, for SEO purposes, we’ll draft a release for ‘clean up’ work once our usual media relations efforts have been exhausted. There are several free places to distribute press releases online. We make sure that the press release contains the keywords that we want to rank for in search results, and always have the company’s website in the boiler plate at the end of the release. This is considered a backlink, which is, again, SEO gold. Plus, in some cases, we’ve had those releases picked up by a reporter or news outlet and posted on their site, which adds even more to the SEO credibility of the company.

Other content marketing strategies like guest articles and podcasts also have SEO benefits in addition to their traditionally PR role and we will continue to see the lines blur as search continues to drive interest … and traffic.

Connect with us if you need help writing your next press release or finding creative ways to use PR to promote your company.

Wonder Woman’s Compassionate Leadership

There’s a scene in the Wonder Woman movie that sends a chill up my spine every time I see it. It’s when she leaves the safety of the trench, climbs the ladder and stands alone in No Man’s Land. She’s ready to take on the army in front of her and save a village.

Wonder Woman possesses a clear focus and determination to do more for others and it’s her compassion that gives her superpowers meaning. Every time I think of it, this scene inspires me to help others in need and be a more compassionate leader.

Compassion Makes Connections

I always believe we can do so much more when we work together. We share our experiences, our ideas, and sometimes our resources to overcome roadblocks. This strengthens communication and builds a stronger personal and professional network. When we lead with compassion, we make meaningful connections with others.

Everyone on the Pinstripe team believes this to be true. Nikki is a great example of a compassionate leader, who continues to work with Leadership St. Pete, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Society for Marketing Professional Services Tampa Bay, and other non-profits. She’s donates her time and experience to build a stronger community, while developing professional relationships that will carry her throughout her career.

Authenticity –  The Desire to Help

Compassion is more than empathy, because it requires action. It’s an authentic desire to help. It’s why I believe in giving back to our community and supporting Ad 2 Tampa Bay and recognize their most outstanding member each year.

I also feel this way with all of our clients. I want to know more about them and what they do, so I can help them achieve their goals.

Compassion is also a necessary element when creating marketing messages. We want to reach audiences in meaningful ways, never demeaning or negative. I believe that we do have the ability to be inclusive when creating messages that don’t sound generic or inauthentic. This will build positive relationships that last.

It’s not surprising to me that consumers are spending more on socially responsible products and services than ever before. They are rewarding brands through loyalty and word-of-mouth recommendations. Social media has contributed to this upswing and extended the reach of local and regional brands, bringing them into the national spotlight.

Compassion Is Strength

In every superhero movie, the bad guys lack empathy and lead through fear. In the end they always fail (except in Infinity War, but I’m sure that will work itself out). Fear doesn’t inspire. It exploits power over people. Today’s consumer doesn’t want to feel that they are being manipulated through deceptive and intrusive marketing practices.

Just like Wonder Woman, compassion can help us overcome our fears and self-doubt. It makes us feel better about ourselves while growing our network of friends and colleagues. Being a compassionate leader requires the confidence and ability to act. These are signs of strength, not weakness.

 

This article is part of a series on how Wonder Woman inspires our marketing philosophy. Throughout the year, we will be featuring more on this topic, so let us know how you feel about it.

Creating a Positive Client Experience

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Recently, we read an article on the Fast Company blog about an Uber driver who had a 4.99 star rating, despite a whopping 5000 rides given. We were pretty impressed. Usually even a really good driver gets bumped down in rating by a couple drunks who are causing trouble or not getting what they wanted (we’ve heard lots of Uber stories!), or maybe the driver had the wrong radio station playing when someone enters the car and the passenger just didn’t like it. There are lots of ways to lower that perfect score, so seeing a score this high was unique. Reading the article really got us thinking – how can we use this Uber driver’s approach to client service in our work? How can we all apply this driver’s model behavior in our lives and work?

“We Cannot All Do Great Things. But We Can Do Small Things With Great Love.”

This Mother Theresa quote can apply to many situations, and we thought it particularly fit this one. In this case, the driver left his country and career as a corporate businessman with an MBA to move to Toronto. As is often the case with immigrants who are highly educated professionals, he had a tough time accessing the same positions that he had filled in his native country, so Uber was a second choice. However, that did not mean that he lowered his standards of performance. He treated his job as an Uber driver the way he would treat a job as a high-level corporate exec. He kept his car exceptionally clean and fragrance-free, he treated his customers with utmost respect and attention, and he paid attention to every last detail to improve his customers’ experience.

Customers’ Happiness First

This driver put his customers above all else. He made personal sacrifices for the sake of their comfort, probably in ways that they didn’t even realize. For example, he would eat raw salads in order to keep his car scent-free. Ever ridden in an Uber in which the driver had just eaten a McDonald’s cheeseburger or even just smoked a cigarette? It can be downright offensive. When you get in a scent free car, you may not notice anything at all, but you’ll definitely notice when a car smells bad.

Other ways he showed respect and professionalism – using the customer’s name, asking what music they want to listen to rather than having the radio blaring when they entered the car, cleaning the car after each and every ride. All small things that can make a big difference.

Often, keeping a customer happy is much easier than you think. If you can always think in a way that the answer is yes, you can be agile enough to get your customer what they need, when they need it. For instance, they may have an extremely tight deadline on a particular project. Rally your team to work together, come up with a plan, be flexible and creative. Communicate well with your team and with the client. You may have to work late hours a couple nights to achieve this deadline, but you can make it up to yourself later if that’s what it takes. Be passionate about making your customer happy, and you will have a 5 star rating too.