It was my pleasure to be interviewed by Chaya Weiner for this Medium piece called 5 Things You Need to Build a Trusted And Beloved Brand!
I always wanted to go into advertising. I was a musician who could easily write catchy radio jingles and produce the music to go along with them, so I thought that’s probably how it would go. But a funny thing happened on my way to the ad agency, advertising kinda stopped working. 🙁
And you see, I’m a big fan of things actually working, not just looking or feeling like they do. The appearance of marketing-looking work is NOT marketing in my opinion. The RESULTS are. And the thing that works the best for me (and my clients) is public relations. Good old PR.
PR is a tough one to describe in 2019 mainly because there has been quite a blurring of marketing disciplines in the digital age. But, here’s a really good way to keep it straight. PR is fundamentally about trust and credibility. And no other marketing arrow is gonna give you that. Not advertising, not promotions, not events, not social media —only PR.
And we live in a world where trust and credibility are at all-time lows, but somehow no one in the entire marketing profession wants to talk about that. Because marketing is actually the villain in that story.
Smoke, exaggerations, hype and just outright lies are the tools of some marketers, and we as consumers (both b2b and b2c) have learned from a very early age that they are NOT to be trusted. If trust is the goal, none of these paths will get you there. They won’t.
Now, some people (even PR people) will say PR’s primary role is “brand awareness”and “we don’t want to be measured by sales and things we cannot control.” LOL. Ok. Brand awareness is good, but the real treasure we’re seeking is trust and credibility. Because without those things, you aren’t selling a darn thing to anyone.
PR looks for credible and trustworthy messengers (media, analysts, influencers) to take our clients’ messages to their audiences and somehow transfer that trust to us. That’s the whole game right there. And it REALLY works. One of my clients recently SOLD OUT of two complete runs of a very cool product simply because we put the gadget on TV, radio, online and lots of credible people were saying “Wow, this is super cool — you have to have this.” …And so they did.
Now I love advertising. I love the control, the power, the creativity — everything about it. Except the fact that it just doesn’t deliver very much value except in a supporting role. The star of the marketing show in the trust-free world of today must be PR.
And we are SO much more than simple brand awareness. We do something that simply cannot be done in any other way. We systematically EARN trust and credibility for brands, which leads to sales and growth and all of the good stuff. And maybe, done in this way, marketing doesn’t have to be such a villain after all?
Did you know that nearly half of all Internet traffic today is fake?
Studies generally suggest that, year after year, less than 60 percent
of web traffic is human; some years, according to some researchers, a healthy majority of it is bot.
What’s a bot? Well, it’s a software program designed to do one very specific thing—impersonate a human being. Some are so sophisticated in their multi-level behaviors, they can fool the software designed to find and filter out the bots, which is kinda like bot on bot crime. And this is all done to inflate audience numbers so sites can charge more for advertising — oh you knew the money was gonna be a part of this somewhere, didn’t you?
Now in the glorious profession of marketing and communications, we’re all about reaching and building relationships with people. We have no interest in bots. And we have no interest in bots acting like people. We’d just like the people, thank you.
Heres a good stat from Facebook for you. FB claimed that 75 million people watched at least a minute of Facebook Watch videos every day — though, as Facebook admitted, the 60 seconds in that one minute didn’t need to be watched consecutively. Real videos, real people, fake minutes. Because people do not watch portions of a minute of videos and add them up. It kinda messes up the story, you know?
Traffic isn’t the only fake thing out there. Instagram this week reported more fake followers, fake profiles and fake metrics. Twitter shut down more than one million fake accounts designed to fake follow real brands and people. Sheesh!
Today in marketing we have more data and more metrics than at any time in my career, yet I trust those metrics much less. Mainly because of all of the fake traffic and the bots. So how do we REACH actual people in 2019 and beyond?
1. Make YOUR message all about THEM — I don’t know about bots, but people are REALLY into themselves and the stuff that’s going on with them, their needs, wants, desires, dreams. etc.
2. Help THEM get what THEY want — Again, the nuances of marketing these days should be about connecting the hero (your customers) with the things they need.
3. Get someone else (besides you) to carry the message — the media or influencers are a great place to start. When you find a channel that your audience trusts, see if you can get them to tell your story.
And yes, I’ve just described modern public relations. Great message, great delivery, great measurement. Repeat as needed until you retire or the bots take over everything and enslave our race. After walking the halls of CES, don’t worry, it’s coming. We had a good run. 🙂
The real people are out there and they WANT to connect with brands and believe in brands–for their reasons, probably not ours. And WE want to believe we’re reaching them. Maybe just maybe there’s something real out there after all.
I went to J-school at The University of Missouri-Columbia. If you know me, you know it’s no secret that I really wanted to be a “rockstar,” like Def Leppard and Poison. But even with the long hair (yes, I had some once upon a time) and earring, my parents weren’t going to fund that particular career path, so I chose “advertising and public relations” and that field of study was housed in the J-school. They made me learn about journalism there and I studied among people who were going to become professional journalists and “change the world.”
Unfortunately, they did…and not really for the better. Of course, a few things happened along the way including a massive reduction in the amount of people actually working in journalism. In the past two decades, we’ve lost basically 70 percent of the profession at every level and that is because none of us want to actually pay for good editorial content because we perceive it to be “free” and “everywhere.” Money is the root of all evil and I believe that all of the “evil” in journalism we see today comes from a huge LACK of money.
That led to the quiet consolidation of our TV stations, radio stations and newspapers into conglomerates that (for efficiency reasons) serve the same news to local markets along with the same bias, etc. Those of us in PR know this because we see the “feed behind the feed” as we monitor news, but your average person might not know that messages can be pushed out into local markets in exactly the same way (same exact words read by news anchors actually) and delivered into hundreds of communities. Hey, when we get a nice holiday gift piece for a product or service on a local station, would we rather see that in one market or 1,000? So you can start to see the problem, right?
The national media have always leaned a bit to the left and most people know that. But that gentle lean has turned into a full-on downward dog pose right into an almost insane level of liberal bias. 92 percent of the news media coverage of President Trump has been negative in tone and that’s just crazy. Unfortunately, this has been noticed by all and as of 2018, the media enjoy the LOWEST credibility levels in history among both Democrats and Republicans alike. Yikes.
As you can see from the graphic above, it is also now commonplace and acceptable at Gizmodo (a leading tech outlet) to call the President of the United States (the most powerful position in the free world) an “idiot” and amplify an individual reporter’s opinion into what could be perceived as fact. Journalism has fallen into a very dark place and it’s taking all of us there.
What was supposed to inform people, now incites them. What was designed to increase the intelligence of the American people, now limits it. What was supposed to give us interesting things to discuss has now cut off all discussion altogether. And I would like to see our friends in the media, take a breath, take that amazing First Amendment, read it through, realize the immense responsibility it bestows and get back to some actual journalism.
That’s what they taught me at Mizzou J-School and I still believe that journalism can be saved. We’d all better hope so.