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Archive for the ‘Thought Leadership’ Category

Marketing is like God and First Aid Kits

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018

Marketing and communications tactics are like God and first aid kits. No one thinks they’re important until something bad happens.

Once the bottom line of a company isn’t looking good, a crisis arises or a competitive advantage is no longer prevailing, companies begin to think, “Huh. We really should’ve invested in marketing or a communications strategy before now.”

In today’s multi-tasking world, speed is everything and employees have more on their plates than they can easily navigate, making survival the priority. While solely focusing on important day-to-day tasks may keep heads above water – all other efforts that fall into the category of “optional” or ‘side of the desk activities’ are generally passed over. Survival mode does the opposite of fostering growth, too. Without resources to spare, whether human or financial, survival mode can become normal without the investment required for forward-moving progress.

It’s common for organizations to realize their need for marketing or a communications strategy and to even have a strategy only to come to realize that they don’t have the resources needed to execute it. But therein lies the question – do they not have the resources or are they simply allocating them to something more “black and white” instead of efforts that may be effective but more complicated to measure?

What if you had purchased a first aid kit before that skiing accident? Timing is everything. It’s never too late to reap the benefits of a newly executed marketing or communications strategy; having a plan in place prior to a product or new business launch is considerably more effective than trying to backtrack and add in a piecemeal strategy.

 We recommend you buy the first aid kit.

Crisis Social Media – One Piece of a Complicated Puzzle

Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

Social media has introduced an interesting component to crisis communications. Not only does social media play a role in communicating important messages during a crisis, but it can also be an emergency instigator in itself. While social media is a buzzword for many, failing to communicate information to stakeholders through other traditional channels, while focusing on social media solely, can worsen any crisis situation.

As a channel of communication that allows users to be co-content-creators, social media can lead to gray areas between facts and fiction. Strive to communicate sensitive information using a variety of channels to ensure your message is received clearly.

One irritator that makes social media crisis communication especially challenging is the wide gap that often exists between the person managing an organization’s social media, and the decision makers who ultimately determine what should be relayed to the public in uncertain situations. As organizations continue to tap into a newer, technology-savvy generation for social media management, there is a barrier of understanding between executives and those who are tactically making social media decisions.

It’s challenging to make judgements without knowing the full intensity of a potential crisis situation. For example, a customer is upset about the way they were treated at a retail store; this could have the potential to blow up and become viral, making you wish you had taken the issue to your company’s leadership earlier or you may have two unhappy customers every single day, and you’re not going to continuously bother your company’s busy leadership just to have a discussion about Patty’s bad experience in the grocery store. So how do you determine what is worth the time investment and what is not?

In crisis conditions, information typically comes more slowly than we wish it would, and we’re left to piece together what we know quickly while remaining transparent and credible. It’s essential to have a crisis communication plan already in place prior to an issue arising. From social media to traditional media relations, having a step by step plan on hand that details actions for all communication channels will guide tough decisions that are necessary under tight time constraints.

There’s also an infection going around right now called “Oh yes social media is so important.” That’s what executives say when they give you advice on how to handle the social media crisis at hand and then you learn that they thought Twitter was a type of bird and they haven’t logged into their LinkedIn for two years. And you think wow, no wonder they just gave me really bad advice. During times such as those, a level of autonomy must be taken by the social media manager, using an understanding of the industry’s key components while still respecting the wishes of a company’s senior leadership. While this is a hard line to ride, it is critical and the sign of a social media pro. It’s also important to emphasize to executives that regardless of the social media response, integrated efforts across all communication channels should still be prioritized to successfully navigate any crisis situation.

3 Types of People to Avoid in Organizational Politics

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

Stick around any organization long enough and you’ll hear a recurring conversation begin to emerge. Regardless of the type of organization––nonprofit, corporation or an interest-based club, where people are, organizational politics will be also. Whether the desire is to grow, build organizational awareness, or create more effective goals, there are a few types of people or stances that will most likely make themselves known. You’ve probably run into one or more of these people a time or two:

  1. The “Millennials-Are-Everything” Person

We get it. Millennials are important. They’re significant to organizations as they become more influential in society, but every group has to analyze its goals, mission, and target audiences uniquely to determine if initiatives angled toward a younger audience would be beneficial to its overall growth efforts. Jumping on the millennial bandwagon just because everyone else is may not benefit your association in the long run and encouraging those that are pushing the pro-millennial bill too fiercely, could aggressively hinder your working relationships with other key audiences and stakeholders.

  1. The “Traditional Roots-Always-Win” Person

While millennials aren’t everything, doing nothing to encourage innovation in a changing society, will also leave an organization with less-than impressive outcomes. There will always be members of the “old regime” and they’ll attempt to stand their ground to see that no changes or advancements find their way in, but this has to be avoided. An organization that never innovates will become irrelevant regardless of how well a tactic worked 30 years ago. 

  1. The “Our-Leadership-Sucks” Person

This can be a legitimate claim and if so there will be more than one person saying it, but steer clear of the people who continuously blame the leadership and never do anything to make the organization better. These are the people who secretly enjoy blaming something or someone that they “can’t control” because it makes it seem as if their hands are tied. While in reality, they’re happy with the way things are because if they changed, they’d actually have to put forth effort.

The moral of the story is that it’s easy to talk about changes that need to be made, but when looking for great people to be part of an organization, look for the “do-ers” not just the talkers. People that are willing to put sweat equity in, will always bring more to the table than those who have lofty ideas but lack the work ethic to employ them.

In the Age of Results Measurement, What Happened to IMPLICIT Value?

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

Impressions, sentiment, engagements, sessions, users, views, clicks… these are today’s units of measurement. We report on these metrics, we use them to make decisions, and yes – of course – they’re valuable. Very valuable. But, what about good old-fashioned implicit value?

Measuring the public opinion or internal opinion of an organization as a marketer will always have its flaws. Why does one feel a warmth in their heart when Starbucks is mentioned? Do people reminisce of road trips gone by when they see a Cracker Barrel logo? We can point to possible causation of our positive or negative feelings towards companies, products, or thought leaders, but in no way are those connections inerrant.

When it comes to raising awareness for an organization or initiative, unfortunately there will always be some success that floats by unmeasured. You can’t measure sentiment on friends using word of mouth to discuss a new product. And yet, that interaction is one of the most powerful channels that exists.

We attempt to measure the digital form of word of mouth interactions using Yelp reviews, social media interactions, and influencer engagement, but as ‘fake news’ is no longer the exception, people are being subconsciously trained to become sceptics of the less-than-honest digital presence that some companies or products maintain.

Without forsaking the recognizable value in digital channels and measurement, we implore companies and marketers to remember the implicit value of human connection and the vital importance of emotion and touching the human spirit.

Algorithms can’t measure that.

Where Style Meets Expertise: Cristofoli Keeling, Inc.

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

Cristofoli Keeling, Inc. was founded around the idea that style inspires all. A majority woman-owned marketing communications firm established in 1999, Cristofoli Keeling, Inc. was created when founder, Ann Keeling, paired her seasoned design background with a high level of strategic communications experience. For today’s agile business environment, being comfortable with innovation is a prerequisite. Never shying away from exploring new ways to optimize client marketing investments, Cristofoli Keeling, Inc. embodies the entrepreneurial spirit, while leveraging the expertise and professionalism of an established organization.

After years of working in design management for international brand design firm LPK, Ann Keeling was asked to add the management of marketing communications for the firm to her client service role.  She observed that the public relations agencies would consistently position experienced professionals in the pitch process, but after winning the business, the execution would be handled by those less experienced who lacked industry understanding.

After seeing this reality become an unfortunate pattern, Keeling recognized an opportunity in the market to do things better. Vowing to provide clients with not only innovative thinking, but a seasoned understanding of their industry and challenges, Keeling founded the firm and stepped into the role that she continues to maintain today.

As founder and President of Cristofoli Keeling, Inc., clients have described Keeling by saying, “She strikes just the right balance between no-nonsense professionalism and setting a relaxed tone in the work-place.” An advocate for both clients and colleagues alike, Keeling has expanded her marketing communications empire, without ever neglecting her original goal – to provide every client with expert guidance and strategic execution.

Offering clients expertise without ever sacrificing style, Keeling lives by the adage, “Do It Right…Do It Big…Do It with Style.”