Posts tagged marketing

Can flashy marketing hold a candle to candlelight marketing?

We're no longer cavemen, but still, "fire good!"

We're no cavemen, but still, "fire good!"

Yes; I made up the term “candlelight marketing.”

I needed something to represent marketing that, while enlightening and illuminating, avoids the newest bright and flashy gimmicks and trends. Jeff Brooks penned a post on the Donor Power Blog today highlighting some evidence that as individuals age, they’re less susceptible to trends and newfangled fancy-schmancies as the brain’s reward system is “dialed down.” The inspiration for Brook’s post comes from the Neuromarketing blog in the post “Marketing to the Senior Brain.” Brooks writes:

That’s why older people are less susceptible to fads and shiny new things — and instead tend to prefer trusted, well-known things. (Less gullible is another way to look at it.)

In the nonprofit industry, a significant portion – often the majority – of our donors are seniors. Understanding the psychology of this demographic is crucial to developing communication strategies that will have the most impact.  We should focus on integrity, honesty, and familiarity more than trendy designs or flashy displays. Not that we should be boring or stuck in a rut. Far from it! We ALL crave new experiences that escape the status quo.

How does this translate to events? For starters, you should probably cancel that order of LED-lighted ice cubes if your core group of attendees are any older than 30 – scratch that, let’s say older than 13. Put more effort into the story-telling and the quality of the experience. By all means, make use of helpful technology, like projecting a short documentary that brings your organization’s mission to life. But you don’t need to expend valuable resources to party like it’s 2050 when your guests might be just as happy partying like it’s 2008, or 1968, or 1948…

This is not to say you shouldn’t embrace new ideas and techniques, like using online social media and Web 2.0. Nor should you ignore the next generation and what attracts them. Like I said, it’s all about understanding your audience and communicating in a relevant way.

Moral of the story: invest in quality and don’t shirk traditional techniques just because they’re traditional. There’s a reason candlelight stuck around long after the invention of the lightbulb. We all like it!

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Brr! This PR blanket isn’t working

Using “PR” as a blanket term can be problematic for several reasons. Unfortunately, it seems like people either associate public relations with specific tactics such as press releases or they think of it as a means to attracting publicity (as in “publicity stunts”) and controlling reputation. Worst of all, public relations is sometimes vilified as “spinning” the news in order to protect client interests. 

Many leading thinkers in public relations research, however, define PR as “the management function that identifies, establishes, and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and the various publics on whom its success or failure depends” (Cutlip, Center, and Broom. Effective Public Relations. 1985). In other words, public relations is about managing relationships, not spitting out generic press releases or creatively explaining why a certain starlet was photographed sans undies.

With this definition of PR, it is easy to see how activities like fund-raising, maintaining a blog, hosting events, or publishing podcasts can all fit under the public relations blanket. Matthew Stibbe, editor in chief of Articulate Marketing, however, does not follow this definition of PR in his recent post “27 Proven Freelance Marketing Tips”on his blog, Bad Language. I was checking out this post in hopes of gaining some advice for marketing myself as a job candidate and potentially later if I start my own business. In his post, he argues that PR “doesn’t work,” along with fancy business cards, cold-calling, and mail shots. He lumps PR – a management function – in with specific tactics. I agree that business cards and brochures can not stand alone as a method of marketing your freelance business. But I found it interesting that Stibbe listed blogging and website maintenance as good techniques but clearly separate from PR. In my Advanced PR Writing class, blogging and social media was the focus of a significant assignment. Why? I think because they are great ways to manage relationships with stakeholders/publics (including potential clients).

In another post from his blog, Stibbe wrote that “PR stands for public relations but it could also stand for press relations.” I disagree, at least with the fact that press relations could explain the entirety of what public relations is. The press is a public and it also provides a vehicle through which messages to other publics can be disseminated. But I do not think that PR practitioners should limit themselves to media relations.

I did get some good advice from Stibbe – I think one of my favorites was number 14: “Your obvious is your talent.” Do what you’re best at and fill that niche rather than trying to wear 20 hats. Lately I’ve been looking at Preston Bailey – the It guy of fabulous wedding and event design (he blogs too!). He started in the event design industry as a floral couturier, but used his talents to build a reputation as one of the world’s leading event designers and a celebrity favorite. His work has inspired me to focus my interests and specific talents: style and design AND strategic, creative thinking and planning AND relationship building.

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