Star Tribune Highlights Schwegman Communications

Communications firm reaches across generations

A baby boomer and Gen X-er have discovered that their generational diversity can be a strategic asset when interacting with customers.

Two things jump out at first blush about ­Schwegman Communications. First is the multigenerational approach the small agency brings to the workplace. Principals Jennifer Schwegman and Karen Winner match Gen X savvy with baby boomer sensibility respectively in bringing marketing strategies to their business clients. Second, there is no home office for the 16-year-old firm as it strives to keep overhead low.

See full article at Star Tribune

12 Things to Expect from a PR Firm

Ragan’s PR Daily put out a list of qualities that you should expect from your PR firm so I thought it was worth sharing with all of you. Do you agree? Feel free to challenge or add your own ideas. We would love to hear from you.

From Ragan’s PR Daily (Posted January 25, 2013):

Here are some important qualities you should expect form an agency that is committed to your success. You need an agency that:

1. Owns the process. You want an agency that will never say, “Well, we sent you the guidelines for the Forbes contributed article three months ago and never heard back.” Your agency should be a professional nagger—they should never let you be the reason for a missed deadline.

2. Pushes back. You are hiring a PR firm for its expertise, so find one that provides firm recommendations. If your account team is constantly nodding their heads and yessing you, there is a problem. The success of your PR program requires a team leader who can adamantly say no in the face of tough scrutiny when something just won’t work.

3. Knows when to give in. There are times when other company goals, such as sales campaigns, take priority over PR (for example, when a sales team is under the gun to meet quarterly goals and needs to push out a direct email campaign in advance of the press release). Your PR firm should tell you the optimal plan for getting great media coverage, but should also accept it when PR is not at the top of the list.

4. Makes it happen. Only clients should have the luxury of asking big questions without offering solutions, such as, “How can we maximize our attendance at an upcoming trade show?” Good PR firms know that the right response is a list of viable options, not more questions.

5. Surprises you with unexpected and creative ideas. Your PR firm should march to the beat of the PR plan, but they should also bring you unexpected and creative ideas. This demonstrates that they are paying active attention. Only intellectually hungry people will tie the right pieces together to make you relevant in a way that matters to the press.

6. Owns mistakes. If your agency needs to be right all of the time, it’s a problem. You need an agency that abides by the rules of crisis PR (even when the crisis is a very small one): tell it all, truthfully, and tell it now. This takes confidence and humility, but it is the sign of a great communicator.

7. Hustles. Look for an agency that is pushing you, not the other way around.

8. Writes well. Content marketing has changed PR forever. Adequate press release writing skills are no longer enough. You need an agency that can sift through mountains of information, zero in on the interesting angle, and ghost author an article for your spokesperson. Ask for samples, and look at the agency’s blog.

9. Listens intently. PR people are renowned great talkers. We need to be. However, we need to know how to listen, too. You need a PR agency full of the kind of analytical and open minds that can scan the conversation for points of interest, drive the discussion toward them and relate them to your broader industry.

10. Empathizes. You need a PR agency team that can imagine what it’s like to be you. What pressures do you face internally, from your board, from competitors, others? Is PR central to your role or tangential? Coincidentally, this skill also makes PR people great at media relations—we must imagine what it’s like to be each reporter if we have a prayer of selling a story.

11. Navigates options and contingencies like an attorney. There are many decisions we must make along the winding route between the pitch and the placement. You need an agency that understands the media landscape—which outlets (and journalists) compete, which reporters require exclusives, which ones care about embargoes, and which angles will compel coverage.

Sifting through these and responding appropriately when an embargo is broken or an exclusive falls through tests the skills of the best PR professionals, so make sure you have a team that can bend gracefully when a critical relationship is at stake, and hold firm when your company goals require it.

12. Thick skin. PR people sit in the middle of two constituents whose goals are not always aligned: the media and our clients. Finding the common ground that creates successful outcomes for both requires an ability to handle discord well.

Visibility. Versatility. Value. Schwegman customers talk about how they are achieving a piece of the visibility pie.

Why PR is Important…

Have social media made newsletters passé?

I was nearing a project deadline and was particularly annoyed with a deluge of emails, including a barrage of newsletters I subscribe to. It got me questioning the value of those newsletters. After all, there are copious amounts of information available 24/7 through dozens of social networks. So should we cross newsletters off of our marketing budgets?

 

Here are a few points to consider:

  • Audience: Do your target markets “do” social media? Would they prefer email?

A newsletter enables you to segment your markets and target specific segments   with appropriate content. Some content may be useful in closing “hot” prospects.

News from newsletters posted on other websites reaches different audiences.

 

  • Timing: Is it beneficial to control when your news is distributed (email) or posted?

Social media fills the “cracks” between email newsletters.

 

  • Objective: Is a newsletter an appropriate channel for achieving your objectives?

Linking channels is a smart strategy for achieving frequency and broadening your

reach.

 

  • Message: Take advantage of the synergy offered by blog posts and social media to turbo-charge your messages.

 

  • Brand: meaningful content boosts brand recognition and reminds existing customers about your products/services and expertise.

 

So what do you think? Are newsletters still a viable part of your marketing mix?