PR

brands and politics

Brands & Politics: A Conversation Worth Having?

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Editor’s Note: Shout Out Studio has partnered with students from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) to mentor, research and write a series of blog posts for shoutoutstudio.com. The authors are members of student-led group, East Bridge Consultancy, an affiliate of Alpha Kappa Psi, a professional business fraternity.

By: Daniel Kuperman & Sean Hynes

When an increasingly complex business environment collides with a decidedly unconventional political landscape, the only certainty is disruption. Although, to many, this bizarre interplay became most visible during Britain’s exit from the Eurozone and the ascendancy of Donald Trump, keen observers noted signs of change well in advance. The prevalence of social media helps facilitate the adoption of oxymorons like ‘alternative facts’ and ‘fake news,’ somehow becoming mainstays in today’s vernacular. These developments point to a deep uncertainty that pervades social interactions, political conversations, and the markets alike. For some brands, this new standard presents a unique opportunity to connect with a targeted audience.

As exemplified by the immigrant-centered Anheuser Busch ad featured during Super Bowl 50, the growing impact of increasing political divisiveness can be clearly seen. It is also no coincidence this commercial — and others like it — were aired during the single most-viewed television event of the 21st century.

Officially, Anheuser Busch played off the immigrant focus as a coincidence. Amidst the contentious debates that followed Mr. Trump’s proposals for deportation, it was quite the timely opportunity for this ad to air. Delving deeper into the elements of this industry leader’s client base and competition lends useful context to this marketing effort. It is no secret that behemoths like Anheuser Busch have been seeing market share erosion for years due to increasingly popular craft beer brands. A common criticism is that such a massive firm adapts too slowly to diverging consumer preferences, whereas its more nimble competitors were founded upon these new tastes. Perhaps this political gesture intended to rebuy the support of millennial consumers using an unapologetically current ad, costing AB as much as $15 million.

Not all companies choose to align with any specific political ideology or movement, but rather embrace a broader theme such as unity seeking widespread appeal. Coca Cola’s #AmericaIsBeautiful campaign aims to evoke a powerful, albeit safer, reaction among their customer base. The ad seems to make the case that despite our differences, we can bond together and enjoy the ubiquitous experience of a Coke. Compared to AB’s commercial, what Coke lacks in boldness it makes up for in mass appeal. For a country appearing to be growing apart on political and social fronts, this may be a wise approach.

The less audacious brands are perhaps in the best company, opting for a neutral stance instead of venturing into potentially hostile social arenas. Well-recognized (and more often than not, publicly traded) companies chose to respond in ways that would not commit them firmly to either support or opposition of Mr. Trump’s actions. A longer-term outlook reveals a danger of staying out of the conversation, however. While this more guarded course of action makes sense from a shareholder-centered perspective, if social tides turn and increase pressure on corporations to take a stand, those who stayed neutral will be first in the line of fire.

As the powers of social media continue to grow at a seemingly exponential rate, this pressure will continue to creep up on corporations. Public relations nightmares have gone from a minor inconvenience to becoming a major catastrophe overnight, with recent occurrences involving Pepsi and United Airlines coming to mind. Whether it was a company releasing the wrong politically charged ad or having employees’ actions reflect poorly on their employers as a whole, companies must be wary of the powers behind making the wrong move, especially with growing pressure to step out of the neutral zone and take a stand. For United, a single failure in PR crisis management resulted in a $250 million net loss in market value.

Individually, these examples are anecdotal at best; extrapolating on any single situation would be ill-advised. Deciphering a best practice may be impossible for industries as a whole, but by engaging with one’s unique audience, companies can aspire to connect on a more profound level with end users.

 

Content Marketing

Content Marketing Matters of the Moment

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When you spend your days working as a marketing consultant and content creator, you can only imagine the number of articles, tweets, blog posts, white papers, newsletters, email communications… (need I go on) read on a daily basis. For some, it could be overwhelming, but for me, it’s what I live for and love… scouring for good content, thought-provoking ideas, and inspiring marketing. So with that said here’s my list of Top 5 Content Marketing Matters of the Moment. This is what’s been on my mind…

1. How Much Personalization is Too Much?

A little while back I read a HubSpot article addressing the question, “How much personalization do you want as a marketer and a consumer?” The subject still lingers with me as I watch the industry continue down a path of personalized content. Through advances in technology and with the use of analytics, online experiences are more customized than ever. My music lists are curated based on previous listening sessions, news content is tailored to what I was reading last, ads are targeted at the products I’ve browsed, but the devil’s advocate in me can’t help but wonder when does it all remove the fun of discovery? Will I ever get back to being a blank slate consumer where I freely decide what is for me?

2. Content Marketing Applies to You Too

Many brands get confused and think, “Oh content marketing is for someone else. What stories do we have to tell?” Sometimes that takes a little bit of an effort to discover for some brands more so than others. We often spend time with our partners talking about what their buyers and consumers want to know in order to determine what type of content is relevant. And other times we just simply ask! One category that hasn’t fully embraced content marketing opportunities is the restaurant category. The whole aspect of food is social and shared. Granted for some brands it may not be appropriate, but without a doubt some of the best content marketers out there are food service brands like Chipotle, and my personal favorites Sweetgreen and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. What makes them so successful with content marketing? A compelling brand story at the heart of it all. Spend time crafting that and you’ve got something to share.

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photo by Barbara Willi used under Creative Commons 2.0

25 Simple Methods to Get Inbound Links For Your Website

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One of the truths about SEO is that inbound links are absolutely critical to increase your search ranking.

When I explain how Google sees inbound links as votes of confidence, I always see folks nod their head. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Then I ask them how they think we should go about link-building.

Blank stare.

I thought I’d try to help the folks out there who need some help. Here’s a list of 25 ways to get inbound links to your website: read more

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