Categories

Recent Posts

What to Do About Marketing During a Crisis

Who would have thought that we would all be working remotely for most of 2020? Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

For large organizations, moving quickly is not recommended, and in some instances, it’s nearly impossible to do. For this reason, it is important to have a Crisis Communications Plan in place before a crisis strikes. When the pandemic hit in March of 2020, many businesses were scrambling to understand what was going on and how they could continue to operate. We’ll use the COVID-19 pandemic as a case study for marketing during a crisis.

Businesses evolve to meet the demands of their markets. To do this, they have come to rely on mountains of data that inform each decision about how to evolve. In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, there was no data. There was no signal or indication of what to do next.

Companies with a strong digital presence held the advantage over their competition, while others struggled to evolve and implement a digital strategy quickly. Low-to-no contact policies exacerbated these struggles.

What we have learned about marketing during a crisis over the years and what COVID-19 reinforced:

  • Be Prepared in Advance
  • Frequent Communication
  • Strong Online Presence

 

Public Relations – Crisis Communications

In larger organizations, having protocols and policies in place helps determine the right set of actions that serve the business’s best interests. During catastrophic events like hurricanes and pandemics, a Crisis Communications Manual serves this purpose.

In March of 2020, businesses with a Crisis Communications Manual had enough direction to move quickly and adapt to the immediate shifts (or, in some cases, a complete loss) in the marketplace. Businesses that already operated digitally with a remote workforce, or ones that had operations set up to allow employees to do so even on occasion, were more poised to continue business as usual. Those without remote work policies, equipment, and plans had to scramble to get their employees back to work.

Communication has become one of the most essential tools for any business. It has a profound effect on professional relationships, as well as cash flow. During the COVID-19 pandemic, video conferencing became the mainstay of communication, and allowed many businesses to continue to operate almost as if nothing had ever happened. Businesses that stubbornly held on to outdated operations suffered.

Policies and Protocols: Creating a PR Manual

Public Relations is more than press releases and finding media exposure. There are a variety of key ideas that are included in a solid PR plan. One of the most important is crisis communications.

Typically, a Crisis Communications Manual will have all of the protocols for a business to follow during a variety of events. These are important because they indicate what needs to be done and by whom. This is a safety net for when panic sets in and people are more apt to make wrong decisions and make matters worse. These events can be anything from natural disasters like hurricanes to internal corporate scandal. Being prepared for the worst allows a business to pivot smoothly when an event strikes. Predicting these events is something a creative team does well.

Do you have a crisis communications manual in place? It doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out document. Some are only ten pages long and detailed enough to cover every aspect of their business. We can help you build one.

Online Presence

During the pandemic, businesses probably learned quickly that having no digital presence is a fatal error. Any business that kept putting off updating their websites or growing their social media platform felt the pain of losing visibility. Many businesses scrambled to go digital or update outdated websites when the pandemic struck.

Over the years, many of our blog posts have discussed why you should update your website and build a social media presence. We gave dozens of reasons and the benefits of doing it, but still, we have seen many businesses continue to operate with outdated websites. Now, it’s all abundantly clear when one can no longer meet directly with someone or be discovered at a trade show – an updated, modern website is essential.

An important part of a modern website that is behind the scenes is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO has been more than just a buzzword for many years. It’s now a marketing necessity. A solid SEO plan will increase your online visibility with Google, sometimes more than you can imagine.

The best opportunity to succeed with SEO is to make some small tweaks to your website. Simple updates to your website can improve the user experience and generate valuable, qualified sales leads. If you don’t know what SEO means or how it works, we can help. We can also help you audit your site to find opportunities for growth.

How We Can Overcome a Crisis

First, be persistent. Don’t give up, no matter how daunting the challenges that lie ahead. Second, it’s time to dip into your resources. This could be a number of things from cash to your network. Finally, communicate with all of your stakeholders. Be open and honest with them to find solutions and hidden opportunities.

You can look for a template for a Crisis Communications Manual, but you won’t find one. The reason is that each business is unique. We have the experience and proven know-how to create a Crisis Communications Manual that is tailored to fit your exact needs.

Whether it’s to improve navigation or the overall user experience, Pinstripe can create videos, blogs, and optimize images for your website. We can also take professional photos and assist you in setting up a studio for recording vlogs. Contact us today to find out how we can help you bring your digital marketing up to speed.

Problem Solvers: What Do I Do When Someone Gives Me a Bad Review?

by Nikki Bromley, Pinstripe Marketing

Pinstripe Problem Solvers answer your most desperate questions about marketing.

In a pinch? Email us your problem, and we’ll help you find an answer.

“Pinstripe, help! I checked my Google Reviews this morning, and there it was—a one-star review! I remember the client and have NO IDEA what I did wrong.”

First of all, don’t panic. One thing we always keep in mind is to try and “turn it around.” If you can somehow turn a bad review into a good one with outstanding customer service, then you may have won over a lifelong advocate of your business.

When you receive a bad review, you must not ignore it. It’s not going to go away, so you need to take action.

The first thing to do is to respond directly to the review on Google using the client’s name. Be compassionate and diplomatic. Do not start an argument, say anything rude, accusatory, or make any statement that could offend the customer. Let them know that you are sorry that their experience was less than exceptional, and you want to address their problem, perhaps find a solution. Anything less than a calm, composed response can be very harmful to your reputation. Negativity, name-calling and rude behavior are immature, embarrassing, and a big no-no! No one wants to do business with someone like that.

If you remember the customer or client, and have their contact information, reach out to them by phone. Prepare yourself with some talking points. Refer to the Google Review and the fact that you’d like to not only improve their experience but learn how to make the next customer’s experience better. Admit your mistake, if you made one, and apologize. You may even want to be prepared to offer a refund on the product or service if they were extremely displeased, mainly if they had good reason to be.

We all make mistakes, and sometimes dealing with a bad Google Review is no one’s fault but our own. Make good on your mistakes, but also let the world know that you did. Once the case is resolved, revisit the Google Review and address the resolution in another response. For example:

“We are so glad we could come to a resolution, Sharon. Thank you for taking the time to give us feedback and help us to improve our service. We look forward to serving you again in the future.”

This may prompt the client to change their 1-star review to a 5-star review. Don’t count on it, but if it does happen, it’s a pleasant bonus. What you’re doing is showing others who read the reviews that you were proactive in seeking out a solution to a problem with your product or service.

On occasion, you will have a difficult client who is either manipulating you or is hard to please. In the case of the former, if you are shrewd enough, you can beat them at their game. I’ll illustrate this with an example.

We have a client (let’s call them Dave) who has a beautiful 5-star review history on Google. Their reputation is untarnished because they do such a great job at what they do, but they also take the time to address any negative reviews or concerns directly. One day, Dave received a negative review with a single star. Dave couldn’t believe it! He remembered the client, who left the office seemingly happy with their service and no complaints at all. The entire transaction was perfect from start to finish.

The person was a referral from another business, so Dave contacted that business to find out if they knew anything. The business had actually been mentioned in the review, so in a way, they were already involved. The referring business did remember the client, and everything went perfectly. The client had nothing bad to say. Through some research and a direct call to the client, Dave discovered that this person was trying to trick him into offering a refund because they had heard that significant refunds were issued to resolve negative Google Reviews. A small refund had been issued recently and mentioned in response to the initial negative review.

Use this story as a warning: be careful of issuing refunds to clients, and if you do, make it protocol to be discreet. If word travels that you’re known to issue refunds, you may find yourself in a predicament like Dave. When he confronted the client, she sheepishly took the review down, and they never heard from her again.

Bad reviews are not the end of the world. Treat them as an opportunity to improve your customer service and product offerings. Most people who read reviews will take notice that even though you don’t have a perfect 5-stars, you made an effort to provide the best possible experience when things went awry.

Get in touch with us if you have a problem that Pinstripe can solve! We’d love to hear your marketing issues and will choose one a month to respond to on our website!

Pinstripe Recognized as Top Global IT Channel PR Firm

Pinstripe Marketing has been named one of the top global public relations firms serving the IT Channel industry by Forrester, one of the world’s most reputable research firms. The rankings were determined by going directly to the source, interviewing members of the channel media and consultants to determine what PR companies “stuck out from the rest.”

In his post announcing the rankings, Jay McBain, principal analyst, Channel Partnerships and Alliances, describes the “trend that is affecting many channel leaders is the convergence of PR, marketing, and advertising. The line between them is blurring, as many channel vendors review budgets collectively. In response, today’s PR professionals have been forced to become brand ambassadors, content marketers, influencers, social media experts, and market analysts themselves.”

“I have worked with channel technology companies for over 20 years,” said Ginger Reichl, Pinstripe president. “The importance of their innovation is critical to powering business across the globe. Telling their stories is among the most satisfying work we do and to be recognized among these talented firms is humbling.”

See the entire list and read Do Channel Vendors Need Public Relations Anymore? at Forrester.

Crisis Communication Planning: Why It’s Important

by Nikki Devereux, Director of Account Management

In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, we have the perfect illustration of why it’s a good idea to have a crisis communication plan in place for your company—large or small. You probably have many stakeholders who are wondering what will happen as this crisis unfolds, from customers to vendors to employees. It’s best to be prepared with a strategy of how, when and what to communicate before a crisis occurs.

If you haven’t put a crisis communication plan in place, now is a good time to consider what steps are needed during times like this. Below is a list of things to consider.

  • What type of crisis is it? Here in Florida, many companies are prepared for hurricane emergencies, especially after Hurricane Irma gave us all a scare a couple years ago. But this COVID-19 pandemic shows that we need to prepare for other types of crises, as well.
  • Who are the audiences? Identify the audiences that you need to communicate with. You will need to create messages to communicate with each audience, and perhaps a general message for your website and social media.
  • When to communicate? You’ll need to decide a timeline for your communications ahead of time and keep a calendar of these to stay organized.
  • Where to communicate? Outline your communication channels to provide different messaging for different channels. Examples are social media, website, and email, but you may have several others to consider depending on your organization.
  • Who is on the team? Deciding who is part of the communication team well before a crisis occurs will help you mobilize to respond more quickly and effectively.
  • What is the message? Developing some sample messaging ahead of time will help you get started more quickly, as opposed to developing all messaging at the onset of the crisis.

You’ll notice that many companies have begun emailing you about the pandemic, placing COVID-19 messaging on their websites, and communicating through various channels about how this crisis is affecting their business and ability to serve you. These are good examples of crisis communication. Some companies are more organized than others and this can be very evident in the communications you receive. Make sure to prepare ahead of time!

Pinstripe Marketing has developed comprehensive crisis communication plans for companies large and small. Contact us if you need assistance with creating your crisis communication plan.

Kaitlyn Zeitler Wins 2019 Pinstripe Service Excellence Award

Kaitlyn Zeitler Pinstripe Excellence Award_featured

Ad 2 Tampa Bay’s immediate past president, Kaitlyn Zeitler, received the 2019 Pinstripe Service Excellence Award at the American Advertising Federation – Tampa Bay Chapter’s ADDY Awards held on February 20 at Tabella’s at Delaney Creek. Presented annually by past recipients, the award recognizes the young professional who demonstrates the most outstanding contributions to Ad 2 Tampa Bay, the advertising industry, and the community.

 

Zeitler is the immediate past-president of Ad 2 Tampa Bay, and during her tenure, the organization went through several significant changes including modernizing its events, earning a government proclamation for the 2nd Annual Tampa Bay Advertising Week, completing a redesign of the website, reforming relationships with local universities, and connecting Ad 2 with agencies and companies that they had not worked with in the past. Kaitlyn also worked diligently to return Ad 2 Tampa Bay to the spotlight by earning 3rd place in the 2019 National Ad 2 Public Service Competition where she led the team as Strategic and Creative Director in addition to her duties as president.

“Kaitlyn’s work with Ad 2 not only continued the chapter’s legacy, but elevated it nationally,” said Ginger Reichl, president of Pinstripe Marketing and former Ad 2 president. “I believe public service is the most important thing the organization does and is often a young professional’s first exposure to the pro bono work for which our industry is known. Her leadership may have earned recognition at the national competition, but more significantly, it provided their client with the advertising assistance they desperately need.”

Zeitler is a copywriter at Ashley Furniture.

About Ad 2 Tampa Bay
Ad 2 Tampa Bay, Inc., an affiliate of the American Advertising Federation, is a non-profit organization of advertising professionals under the age of 32. As a 16-time National Ad 2 Club of the Year, the organization takes pride in providing both members and the community with quality educational programs, national award-winning public service campaigns, professional interaction, member employment services, fun-filled social events and much more. For more information, please visit www.ad2tampabay.org.