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Social Media Protocol for the Professional

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We see people misbehaving on social media all the time. This can have consequences for associated business social media accounts that may range from small waves to downright devastating. Below is a list of items to consider when posting on your personal social media account as a professional.

-Even if you aren’t managing the business’ social media account, you are still connected and as a result you represent that business, on social media and wherever you go.

-In effect, your behavior on your personal social media account is indirectly (and in some cases, directly) associated with the business itself, whether or not the content of your posts refers to the business in any way.

-Knowing this, your conduct on social media may be scrutinized, particularly as an associate of the business, so any negative, lewd, ignorant, blasphemous, or otherwise irresponsible behavior can reflect poorly on the business, in turn cultivating a negative opinion of it.

-Think before you post – if your post is even remotely controversial, ask yourself if it’s worth blasting out to the public or if it’s something better discussed privately with close friends or family.

Example: An employee of a mid-sized law firm is annoyed with the company’s slow adoption of technology. He thinks of the partners in the firm as “dinosaurs” who are stuck in an age of paper and pen. One day he decides to post a meme on Facebook that features photos of seven of the attorneys alongside surprisingly similar looking dinosaurs with the caption, “A dinosaur a day keeps the technology away.” While his friends and some of his family find this extremely funny, one of the firm’s largest and longest-standing clients happens to see the post and is offended, as he has been working with the firm for as long as it’s been around, and thus is, by proxy, a “dinosaur” as well. He contacts his attorney at the firm to complain.

This is only the beginning for this incident. Depending on how leadership handles the complaint, they may lose the client, fire the employee, or they may be able to gracefully apologize and set the record right. Either way, their staff most likely needs some training from a marketing firm like Pinstripe. We do public relations and communications training on a regular basis.

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.

Society for Marketing Professional Services Announces 2018-19 Board

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Pinstripe senior project manager, Nikki Devereux, joins the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) board as Director of Communications for her third year. During the last three years, Devereux has worked with the SMPS board to enhance member experience via website improvements and streamlining of communications.

“Our board is constantly looking for ways to add value to the SMPS membership. The programs we offer are top notch both for educational purposes and for networking, a testament to the efforts of our board to present substantial events that provide opportunities for business and career growth,” says Devereux. “Last year we implemented some new programs and events and this year, we will streamline those events to make them even more beneficial for our members. As always, we welcome and encourage feedback and are looking for more involvement from our member base.”

The Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) Tampa Bay is the only organization in the Tampa Bay area devoted to providing members in professional services industries with opportunities for education, networking with other A/E/C professionals, and career development. The majority of SMPS members are responsible for marketing, communications, and business development for companies in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry. By organizing presentations, panel discussions, socials, coffee meet-ups, and educational webinars, SMPS Tampa Bay hopes to serve the best interests of its members. Learn more at www.smpstampabay.com.

Photography and Video: Building a Media Library

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Building a media library is to marketing what building a foundation is to a house. Nearly every marketing piece in your repertoire will utilize some asset from your media library. From your social media posts to your brochures and collateral, illustrations, icons, photos and video are at the core of your business, so having a media library is essential.

It can feel like a daunting process to build your media library, but it doesn’t have to be. Take small steps and make sure to stay organized, and you’ll be on your way in no time. Below are a few suggestions to get your media library up and running, whether you’re a large firm or a small company.

  • Take photos at events, product demonstrations, trade shows and any other events – start keeping these in folders with the date and name of the event to stay organized.
  • Hire a photographer or videographer – even small businesses should be able to fit a professional photographer in the budget, as long as you stay organized and know what you want. If you plan the shoot yourself, including making a shot list, organizing talent, and setting a timeline, you can hire the photographer for a half day and get a huge return. If you hire a person or agency that offers both still photography and video, even better. You can capture some b-roll to add to your library for future use.
  • Use stock photography – stock photography can be inexpensive, but still beautiful, so be sure to do some research and find photos that are unique. Before you purchase, keep an eye on competitor and industry websites to be sure you are not pulling from the same stock photo collections as your competition.
  • Find someone on your staff who is passionate about photography and see if they would be willing to take on the media library project, provided their work schedule allows for it. Use your resources when available! There are many hobby photographers who would love to break up their work day a bit with some photo sessions. Just make sure their new assignment isn’t cutting into their productivity.

We have helped many companies, large and small, develop their media libraries. Get in touch for help with building yours!

Budget Season Coming Soon!

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I know, it’s still summer and I’m writing about marketing budgets. How about this? Instead of writing about budgets, I could write about something fun, like branding and networking. But we wouldn’t get to do any of those fun things without a budget. Am I right? So, let’s talk budgeting for your marketing and I promise to make it worthwhile.

Budgeting for What’s Next

You have a budget in place, but it probably needs to be tweaked a little to fit next year’s needs. Marketers have a lot more data to go on these days, so they know what brings in returns and what’s stale. Staying on top of the data means getting the right activities into your mix. There are several activities we think you should put as line items in your budget, if they aren’t in it already.

Building Communities

We are in an engagement economy where businesses need to engage with their clients and their employees to strive for success. When you build a community for your clients, you’re creating a stronger network and engaging with them as an industry leader. This type of engagement opens new possibilities and leads to organic growth through word-of-mouth recommendations. So, it definitely deserves some consideration in your budget.

LEGO has a great example of engaging with their community through LEGO IDEAS. This interactive community setting allows everyone to contribute ideas and vote on great designs. Communities like this are a two way street—offering enthusiasts a platform while providing valuable marketing data. Another example of a great community is the Oracle Interactive Community. This is mixed-use site with a forum and lots of information to support their users better.

To build a community, you’ll need a cause for your platform. Usually, the cause you pick is something that separates you from the competition. It’s how you add value to your business. Then, you can pick your platform where this cause is supported. This will need social media and maybe an interactive website. How about an annual event? Print materials? You’ll definitely need employees to run it all. Starting slow and small to test the waters is always a sure bet.

Public Relations

This area of marketing has changed quite a bit over the past 10 years. I’ve seen how it’s changed and why. Good public relations have developed into consistent, positive messaging that crosses multiple platforms. It also helps with search engine optimization (SEO) and keeps your community connected. The press release is still the foundation, but how it’s used and why have evolved. Spreading the word means spending more time and energy.

Looking at ROI

There is more data available to us than ever before. Marketing is no longer a guessing game. It’s strategic planning and implementation. Contextualized data will show how your clients are engaging with your marketing campaigns. If you’re having trouble seeing what works and what doesn’t, beef up your data gathering and analytics. This may be in the form of analytics software or statistical research.

Striking a Balance

Some experts believe that many traditional marketing activities no longer work. That’s why it’s so important to engage with clients and customers in a more authentic, one-on-one basis. Building a customer community is the perfect thing to do using content marketing, social media, and possibly a website to interact with them. Investments in public relations and getting a better grip on ROI will help your bottom line. These are definitely things we need stay on top of in this dynamic marketing landscape.